I want to share more personal things in this space. I have been sitting with this feeling for weeks now, and in the coming months, I hope to reframe this small internet space into something more personal. In that light, I want to share about our first week of homeschool.
I wasn’t planning to start our schooling routines yet, I actually don’t believe summer is over yet, but I got caught in the collective energy of it all, just like I do at Christmas. The upswing of momentum and the 2 weeks we will take off for travel in September made this week a good time to start.
This is our first year without supplemental half-day programs for the oldest two. They will still have sports and dance and other extracurricular things, but without that half-day Montessori program it feels this is our first official homeschool year. Malcolm is also just 7, so I didn't feel any academic pressure until the last year, (which I avoided or wrestled with, alternately. This should be another blog in itself). I believe firmly in preserving childhood and the lessons learned through play. Earlier doesn't always mean better, and learning happens all the time, no matter the age. That said, this year we do have shared academic goals.
This week was mostly about starting small and finding a tiny groove of routine. We worked just a few hours a day, not entirely child-led, but with many choices and freedoms and plenty of time to simply play. After a couple of weeks, we will have a "check-in" meeting to discuss what is working well and what needs to change as a family. For now, my plan is to ease into school and still enjoy the fleeting days of summer.
Some things that have been harder for me as a homeschool mom than "just" a stay at home mom:
1.) Housework has to go on the way-back burner, the one that barely lights anymore. It simply cannot be a high priority when I am contemplating what my kids need and want to be learning about. I am learning alongside them and that takes extreme focus.
2.) Finding moments to do the work that fulfills me is 1,000 times harder. The days I do school with my oldest I have had barely a moment's spare thought for my own creative pursuits. All writing beyond a mere scratch in the IG-sphere and my journal has been neglected. Thoughts of E-courses and online offerings have no space to ferment in these days because even at the end of the day when everyone is asleep, I am too fried to nurture them
3.) Making sure everyone is getting one on one attention in the day feels way more difficult now. Because Malcolm is the only one really being home-schooled, and because he can not yet read independently, he is getting the lion-share of one-on-one attention. Theo wakes up by 5 am so he is getting a large chunk of one-on-one attention at that time. I think this is something that fluctuates in families of more than one child, and right now it just takes more creativity to make sure Eve, the middle child, is getting her cup full of loving attention.
Some things I am loving in our homeschool beginnings:
Not rushing out the door in the morning has been a huge boon!! Holy smokes, I don’t think I would appreciate this half as much as I do if I hadn’t been running out the door the last 3 years. With no lunches to make and time schedules to meet most days our mornings have been relaxed and enjoyable.
We have the freedom to bail on our plan and go hike or take a walk down our street when we want to. We eat great food because we are home to prepare it. The kids are also more helpful with chores because it is being woven into the fabric of our day. There are large chunks of the day for open-ended play or getting lost in a craft. These things bring me deep gratitude and hope for this season of our lives.
At the end of the week, we had poetry teatime, complete with Mrs. Peter’s Birthday Cake (from our new family favorite, The Seven Silly Eaters). It was a half-hour of light in our day. Everyone excitedly prepared together. Even the baby walking over books and spilling everyone’s tea was cute. I collect these moments of beauty and look back on them at the end of the day when I’m wishing I did better, when I’m wondering why everyone is melting down, when I’m feeling we didn’t do enough. Small pockets of light can dapple a life enough to find the beauty within.