Kickstarting Our Homeschool Year 2018/2019 : Steps towards Restful, Relational and Rich Learning.

This is our 6th year of homeschooling life in our home. I am hoping that with time I am learning more about what works in our family and what leads us quickly down the path of hurried, anxious and frustrated homeschooling. This usually starts with me as the mom/teacher and then trickling down to the children, until we are all taking turns sniffing our tears from sheer exasperation and left wondering why on earth we are still doing this homeschooling thing. Aaah! but you see, each year I think I grow little wiser, and a little okay with not checking all the boxes.

First day of school and Coop Day!

I have learnt the painful way,  that the fastest way to drain the life out of our homeschool fire is to load our early days with heavy logs right at the onset of the year.  Yes! A sure way to kill the passion for an awesome year of learning is to try to create pinterest-worthy expectations of myself, my kids and what a purchased curriculum resource can deliver to our homeschool. I have learnt that it helps to start with a clear idea of what you want the year to be, and specifically what words will capture  the essence of  hopes you carry in your heart for the year.  For me, I know that  I want a homeschool year that is Restful, Relational, and full of Rich Learning. Not one that is rushed, and ” heavy laden with much toil”! When we are restful, cultivating relations with each other and with great ideas, and making room for the colors and textures of meaningful learning, then we are no longer pursuing learning as a list of to do’s, but rather the pursuit of all things True, Good and Beautiful.

Morning Time, observing and drawing fall leaves while listening to a story about Courage

To kickstart this year of restful, relational and rich learning, I am taking deliberate steps to cultivate habits and attitudes that I believe will get us moving into the right direction. This is not an exhausted list, it is merely one that I have identified after honest reflection during the summer break, taking into account where we all are at as a family and where we want to be.

1) Practice healthy rhythms that steward time well and nurtures body, soul, and mind. Sleep early. Keep first things first. Dust off the gym shoes. Eat well. Drink tea. Create. Mind your own business.

2) Remove distractions in order to stay connected, present and content. Set a time for everything, and aim to be faithful with the hours dedicated to homeschooling. Look into each others eyes instead of at the screen.

3) Keep learning time simple and sweet, while encouraging natural inquiry. Smile and laugh a lot! Take breaks. Allow life to happen in all it’s imperfect little ways. Record the silly questions children ask, take note of the tough ones too, see the clues hidden in their questions and the door of opportunity to go on rabbit trails.

4) Engage all the senses in learning, play, sing, touch, talk, taste, go and see places, discover, explore, take time to smell the roses, get hands dirty, listen, be silent, create, examine, live the life of learning, do it like you are having a long conversation with all the many facets of life.

5) Encourage responsibility and ownership of children’s own learning. Set goals and clear milestones to be celebrated. Build up with your words everyday. These a beautiful, unique people who really matter.

6) Take time to reflect and capture memories of the year’s learning journey. Take pictures, write journal entries, reflect and take note to stay grateful. Model this habit of reflection with the kids.

I hope these simple intentional practices will give as a good start towards a year of restful, relational and rich learning. I know that it will take courage to pursue these because these days it take courage to live from a place of rest and trust, rather than from the empty flurry of activity, that is fueled by the fear of failure, or the subtle dread of not being good enough. And I believe I can be courageous because we do not walk this path alone. Our heavenly Father has promised never to leave us, nor to forsake us. He carries our world in His hands, and sets us free to dance our way into the rest that comes from Him. It’s going to be a great year of learning. I hope it is for you too.

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Gratitude Challenge: The End That Inspires Great Beginnings

Our Gratitude Challenge was an intentional attempt to catch all the tiny drops of rain falling over our lives on a daily basis. We have been counting our blessings one by one and the end of our challenge perfectly aligned with the end of the school year. We have much to celebrate and be thankful for!

So we got together and created a gratitude display of the highlights of this year so far.

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This was a tangible and creative expression for us as a family. We reflected on our school year and family and found pictures, words and inspiring hymns and quotes. I had picked up some pine planks that someone was getting rid and the ideas sprung from that. I used gift wrapping to modge podge every second plank. And then glued on small clothing pegs to hold the gratitude reflections.

What we ended up with was a display that we can hang up and keep adding to throughout the year.

I am also using the gratitude board to inspire me for preparing for our family learning life in the upcoming school year. We will carry occasionally use the question prompts from our gratitude jar and use it throughout the year.

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For now our heart is full of gratitude and thanks for all that we are as a family and for the journey that we are on. I am going to put up my feet with some wonderful good reads over the summer, while ensuring that I am making time to rest, reconnect and revive for the new school year.

I am confident that gratitude will continue to inspire us to move wholeheartedly into all the new things ahead of us.

 

Gratitude Challenge Day 13 and 14

We woke up to the sound of rain.
It has been raining here for more than two days.
I love the Rain.
Rain is the sound of comfort, of mercies made new, and the promise of fruitfulness
It is the sigh of relief for all the dry and hard spaces.
Every beautiful season of my life, His rain has  showered faithfully upon my heart
And I am grateful that in every single day, all the longings of my heart are fulfilled by waterfalls of His unfailing love.

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Just like the rain that falls and seeps deep into the ground and nurtures it from within, our intentional gratitude during every moment of our lives, softens the ground of our hearts, so that we can truly receive all the gifts and blessings God has given us, and in turn create the best kind of environment for the seeds He is planting in our lives right now. We are continuing with the daily practice ideas that I mentioned in our Gratitude Challenge Day 11 and 12 .

While we do these daily practices, I am prayerful throughout the day, and pointing my kid’s hearts to all the many raindrops of gratitude that we are surrounded by.

 

Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” Fred De Witt Amburgh

 

Gratitude Challenge Day 11 and 12

 

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Morning-Time Gratitude

We continue to make entries in our journals. Kids are free to write or draw anything that they are thankful for. Usually when they write simple things like ” I am grateful for my music”, I use this as conversation, and ask questions like ” What do you love about music?”, ” What is your favorite song?”. I notice that two of my kids, the boys, do not always enjoy writing everyday. I encourage pictures, one word gratitudes (which they can elaborate by telling me more). For reluctant writers, here are some ideas for adding variety into the gratitude journaling practice:

  • Draw pictures
  • Cut out magazine clips
  • Use the camera to take a picture
  • Use a one-word gratitude bomb
  • record a voice note
  • do a video interview, siblings taking turns
  • use “guess-it game”, where a person picks an object to represent their gratitude and we guess why they picked it.

Bed-Time Entries and Family-Time Discussions on Gratitude

We created a gratitude jar, by putting gratitude questions on strips of paper that each person had come up with. I opted for questions that we as a family could come up with as a start because I was keen to get us thinking and investing in this challenge and I was curious about what we could come up with.  Each person had to complete the sentence    ” 3 THINGS …..” as gratitude prompts. For the remainder of our gratitude challenge, we will be drawing from our gratitude jar for our bed-time gratitude focus. We have at times written in our journals and other evenings ended our dinner with a discussion from the jar. Simply drawing from our jar has been an easy way to keep us focused on this challenge amidst the busy times.

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Here are some of the prompts we have so far in our Gratitude Jar:

gratitude prompts in threesGratitude Prompts

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say: Rejoice!” Phil 4:4

Gratitude Challenge Day 9 and 10

“ As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”    (Proverbs 23:7)

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The story of “ The Magic Mask” is a story in which a powerful ruler with a face full of bitterness, later transforms his frowning cruel countenance to one of understanding and love. He does this  with the help of a magic mask which only remains in place when thoughtfulness and gentleness come from within the ruler. He wears a mask to win the love of a beautiful lady, but later frees himself from the mask when he realises that it was his thoughts that shaped his new and true self. This was a beautiful story that sparked so much discussion in our home.

Gratitude changes the countenance of our hearts because gratitude always attracts Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

We are memorizing Philippians 4:18 together, so we engaged the kids in creating their own collages of depictions of whatever is True, Noble,right, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  

We are all learning that gratitude goes hand in hand with creating the mindset that attracts more truth, beauty and goodness in our lives.

Evening Writing Prompts for Day 9 and 10 really opened up conversation and connection with each child.

  •  3 things I love about my best friend
  •  3 things I love about my school
  •  3 of my favourite games

“A grateful heart is a magnet for Miracles”
~ unknown