The fuel for this conversation, white peaches, black plums, a scone and cappuccino - lots of cappuccino!
I know I've been promising huge posts regarding changes coming up here on the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen so let's talk about one of these changes - Our Schooling.
Which after much (much!) deliberation is actually a non-change
or perhaps it would be clearer to say, a change-back.
Confused yet? Boy I was for awhile! Paralyctically confused and caught in a downward spiral of planning. Each morning I would wake up and grasp a new idea and by afternoon have an entirely new year laid out for Marianna - seriously!
I now have extensive plans for a Lord of the Rings Lit-based study, a Medieval study with pertinent books marching across our virtual shelves in accordance with our time-line (can't read a book out of order
, can you?), a Lord of the Rings unit study emphasizing the Medieval and Christian themes contained within, blah, blah-blah, blah.
Actually the last four words is exactly how I felt about the whole thing. I'd scribble all these ideas down quickly, quickly, quickly and then start thinking about how this would look in a typical week, knowing that no week is ever going to be typical this year. What were the first things to be written in my planning pages, the ones that truly excited me and didn't fill my head and heart with dread?
Plans for Handwork and Crafts
Very CM, right? Why cut out the things that filled us with joy? If the "wheel" on this "school bus" is rolling along just fine, why reinvent it?
Why indeed, I wondered, was I feeling this overwhelming urge to change things up when I was so very happy with how things were? More importantly, Hal and especially Marianna, were happy too.
The conclusion I reached?
Now don't laugh, you Moms of older homeschooled kids, but I have a Seventh Grader
this year. Last year she was a Sixth Grader and I could pretend she was in one of those schools where Sixth Grade was still part of Elementary school. But this year - we've moved up to Junior High, baby! I panicked and froze just like a deer caught in the high beams of an on-rushing car (better make that a semi-truck, a Mack semi-truck).
Not pretty at all, much less beautiful.
I decided it was time to plan less and listen more. I began by looking through my own blog
and keeping my eyes off others' work
. I bravely asked input from the ever present girl looking over my shoulder and I tried to really listen to what she said as we reminisced. The things she remembered and the things she had wanted to do that got swept under the carpet received mental stars next to them on my planning list, the list that was shaping up to look very similar to the one I shared above.
If those were the things we really enjoyed, how in the world did they end up on the cutting room floor in the first place?
I began to think in terms of fitting our "basics" around those items. But before I could do that I imagined the worst day possible, one of those days where the outside world sticks it's head in the hatch and hands down it's own list of things to do that day. When such a day happens, whether it is full of chores in town or hurricane prep, what would I consider a successful schooling day? Reading, Writing and Arithmetic easily jump to mind.
When I began to plan from the standpoint of these three things and these three things alone for everyday I found that Writing was easily worked in with the items we loved and missed. As a single example, our Art Studies follow Penny Gardner's example of oral narration on Monday, sketches on Tuesday and Wednesday and written narration on Thursday
. Could a similar base be found for the other days of the week too? The answer, of course, is YES!
That left Reading to cover for the basics. I could easily brush this off with the comment that you've never seen such a voracious reader...but I really do want to challenge and encourage my voracious reader and I think that is best described through a quote of Charlotte Mason that I found inspiring enough to use as the title to my 4th post on this blog
"Education is a life; that life is sustained on ideas; ideas are of spiritual origin, and that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another. The duty of parents is to sustain a child's inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food."
Grand ideas, life sustaining ideas, ideas that are of spiritual origin. If I look at our book list for this year with this as my criteria and recall how when we followed a purer Charlotte Mason Term we implimented a slow reading of a few chapters a day of selected books and the resultant exchange of ideas, the discussions this sparked, the excitement when there was time to digest what was read, and anticipate what was coming, it makes me quite eager to return to this style of reading versus the gulping of many books. Plus - as a little boater comment - the thought of toppling towers of books again makes me seasick! We don't really need to read every
book the library has on a chosen subject, so this year I am committing to going deep, not wide. I'm thinking the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
, not the Platte River
Oh and Math? That was easy, we're Saxon people. My mathematician of a father chose Saxon for us girls when we homeschooled and I see no reason to change that for Marianna especially since she thrives on it. Math we can leave well enough alone with one addition - Living Math Journals
Now that I've yammered on much too long, I thought I'd share some things that were helpful to me in this time of pondering and thinking once I could look at other's work and not turn as green as one with mal de mer.
The conversation on Nuturing Beauty
over at 4Real and Elizabeth's blog posts on Rhythm and Beauty
Leonie's posts on a Swallows and Amazon's Childhood
and her Unschooling
and Planning Series
were very helpful.
Lissa's Rule of Six
and the resultant Carnival
that exploded last year also her concept of Tidal Homeschooling
and the ABC's of Charlotte Mason
are two of my quick and dirty go-to sites when I need a quick refresher course on CM.
As a little exercise to end this post, which originally wrapped up in quite a wistful manner, hoping to one day write my own Rule of 6, I instead buckled down and committed myself to coming up with 6, right now, not this afternoon or next week or the first day of school opening exercise but right now
. I mean I already had 3, surely I could come up with 3 additional ideas I would be happy with and you know, I did!
And then because I can't leave lists alone, I played around with it trying to make a word or a pattern or a poem and came up with FARWEB which will do for now. Hmmm...a FAR flung WEB bracketed by Faith and Beauty might not be a bad Rule of 6 to have as we raft through the deep canyon of knowledge this year!
Do you have a Rule of 6 this year?