Look quiet and cozy lately. We are all waking just a bit later, going just a bit slower. Its a bit of a fog really, this is the time of year that always finds me questioning if what we are doing in our homeschool is enough. The days feel a bit lazy, we've settled into our rhythm enough to know how to bend and break the rules, and then we begin to lose our sense of routine altogether. We've been plugging away at learning goals long enough to see the gaps (right along side the progress, but the gaps tend to stick out most to the isolated mothers teaching at home, don't they?) After the sparkle of the holidays fade, I can even find myself feeling a little stuck. I know my children feel it too. We reach a place each winter where wonder has faded and we are just going through the motions.
When I feel like this, I tend to freak out that we might not meet our yearly goals and its really easy for me to think we need to do more workbooks, toughen up our load of the fundamentals and in every way make our lessons even more dull. After a week of torture, I'm typically ready to quit, I'm researching charter schools on the internet and then...and then.... I circle back to where I should have began in the first place- in quiet prayer.
Inevitably, the quieting of my own heart is the game changer. Renewal in those moments always comes when I ask one question: Why are we doing this, why are we really, pouring ourselves into days schooling at home? Why did we get into this in the first place? And, is it central to how we are living out our present? Our yesterday and tomorrow? The answer that follows, usually poured out among the pages of my journal, becomes the vision and sustaining force for the rest of our school year.
Maybe this is what January is for? To shake us up and settle us down into something true, to traumatize us as we reach the end of our own wills and to give us cause to fight for lasting vision.
So why are you doing this? Have you asked yourself lately?
To connect with hearts. To inspire. To live beautifully. To let learning spill over and mingle with real life. To avoid the stodgy classroom. To experience flexibility and adventure together. To watch eyes brighten right in front of you. To reclaim your own education. To meet out of the box needs. To be together. To embrace home.
My reasons might be very similar or very different from your own, but I'm guessing we could all use a reminder of them. I'm often asked what books inspire me, and I keep coming back to the same old few. Like true friends they remind me, year after year, about the "why" of homeschooling. Spending time in their pages refreshes and awakens wonder in my heart to keep me going. In no way an exhaustive list, here they are. I pray they can awaken the same wonder in you and help you kindle your mid winter spark.
For the Children's Sake
Transformative for our family. Susan Schaeffer Macauley is the daughter of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, whose theological and practical writings have greatly impacted us as well. She shares her own family's journey toward finding an educational philosophy that embraced Biblical discipleship and dignified children. A must read.
Educating the Whole Hearted Child
Written by our dear friends and mentors, no other book has changed the course of our family's life (save the Bible) like this one. It is life-giving, casting a vision for home and learning that has literally steered the course for us. Intelligent, practical and wise, it is the book we visit again and again.
Charlotte Mason Companion
This book nurtures my heart as a mom. I feel inspired and cared for every time I visit its pages. Poetic and gentle, reading it at once gives practical wisdom you can implement right away, and leaves you feeling as if you've just had coffee with a dear friend. Highly recommended.
When Children Love to Learn
A wonderful follow- up to Schaeffer-Macauley's book, this is written by the celebrated educators and founders of Ambleside International Schools. It offers a practical curriculum approach using Charlotte Mason's methods for children learning in school or at home. Also wonderful for traditional educators and parents!
A Home Start in Reading
So often in the little years, the task of teaching reading feels monumental. This book simplifies and gives a practical step by step approach you can implement right away (at any stage of teaching a child to read). This year, as I teach two older children, the task of teaching reading to my younger two, who need a very intentional and watchful eye, is overwhelming to me- this book is worth its weight in gold. So thankful for Beechick's frank and common sense style. Like having a mentor or reading specialist right along with you.
Read for the Heart
My friend Sarah is a brilliant storyteller. After a childhood grounded in delightful literature, there is no one I trust more to help me pick a title for my own children. She has compiled the loveliest collection of books for every topic and area of study here in Read for the Heart. If your children are longing for inspiration through story this winter, you'll find titles to share with them here. A must have for every family library.