What is my big take away from homeschool planning season 2017?
I’ve been doing it all wrong! It is time to flip the way we think about planning our homeschool year!
Instead of focusing on the day to day homeschool routine, we need to start by planning the feeling we want our homeschool year to have and allow our educational goals flow from the warm partnership, joy of learning and cozy homeschool feeling we all long for.
Creating Timeless Education
Let’s be honest, planning academic goals is pretty easy. Implementing them is more difficult but the part that is the most illusive? It is joy and I think it is because for too long we have started with academics and tried to fit the feeling if it was convenient. But the truth is the most important thing is the feeling of safety and partnership because without it it is really hard to get our kids to buy into education and the importance of taking educational risks. Kids don’t have the same foresight that we adults have. Not at all. The push to learn so they can get a job some day and function in the adult world isn’t a priority it is too far in the future and too nebulous. But the feeling of love and connection? That is something we all need and when learning is couched in that feeling. It is unstoppable.
Are you like me? A total curriculum hound? Always looking for a new way to teach. A way to bring a new perspective. A way to combine the ideas from this curriculum with that curriculum to create something new and amazing?!? I’d like to think I’m an innovator. And I’m not suggesting that we completely abandon that. It is important. It is energizing and it is one of the beauties of homeschooling. However, I don’t think it is the most important thing. What is? The feeling our children have while they are learning.
We have to start thinking about what we want our children to take with them when they leave our homeschooling, instead of all of how. More than curriculum, More than the golden schedule and even more than the most well researched educational philosophy is that environment and feeling that we create around learning.
Do you think I’ve actually lost it yet? Stick with me!
Every single homeschool educator I know tells me that they want to create a life long love of learning in their children. They want to create a strong bonded family environment around their homeschooling. How do we accomplish that day to day? I don’t think we can simply make a schedule of learning that gives our kids all the tools they will need for their next step of life (although let’s be honest….this is important too). I think it is the feeling that we create around learning.
What do I mean by the feeling? It is a combination of the environment you create and the feeling that you want your kids will carry with them when they think about their homeschooling days for the rest of their lives. I have become convinced that the subject matter will fade. It will blur into a distant memory of core knowledge. But the feeling that you create while you homeschool will never ever fade.
It has very little to do with your methodology and so much to do with the way that you choose to treat your children. The joy you bring to teaching. The calmness that you bring to the chaos and the resilience you use to respond to difficulty. Because the truth is that any number of people are even more skilled than you are at the how but you are an absolute expert on the why and only you can create that for your family. That feeling is priceless. It is something no one else will every be able to create for your students. And it creates a powerful hook for all the information you are giving your children!
And in order to create that environment you have to start with yourself. What are the things about your family and the way you relate to your kids that make your family unique? What are your strengths? How can you use the things that inspire you to invigorate your entire homeschooling experience? Is it homeschooling on the hiking trail? Is it elaborate Poetry Tea Times? Is it lots of co-ops and extraversion? Is it music? Are you a game family? A dress up in crazy costumes and have a dance party family? What makes your family awesome?
Because the environment and feeling you are creating will be unique to your family. It can never be duplicated. And while curricula does play a huge part in the homeschooling year, it doesn’t fully encapsulate the warmth, playfulness, camaraderie and contentment that you have the opportunity to create.
And seasons of academic rigor, co-ops, athletic exertions, emotional upheavals, and all the other external factors will come alongside the joy, support and partnership that homeschooling can be.
So what is the feeling I want my children to have in our homeschool this year?
- Partnership I want my children to feel that the educational road that we are walking isn’t a solitary path. But instead it is a path where they always have love and support. Not only of me but of their siblings as well. We are all in this together. Through focused days of great triumph. Through playful days of inquisition and through grumpy days when we all just need a hug. No one ever walks alone.
- Celebration. School should not primarily be thought of as a grind. It just shouldn’t. Curiosity is the great driving force of society. It is a celebration of old thoughts coming together in new ways and collaboration. It is so important to take time to punctuate discipline with joy. And I pray that I can find ways to do that in every subject as the year moves forward. From things as simple as a smile to elaborate as a party. And hopefully lots in between!
- Coziness now this is something that is primarily environmental. We have assigned clipboards to each child and cozy nests are in the works. Lots of new interesting books have been filtering their way to book bins and my candle and tea collection is getting out of control! As the season turns to cooler. Slippers, scarves, heating pads and hot cocoa will also make appearances! This year more than ever will be the year of cozy.
- Creativity and taking risks. Nothing energizes us more than using our creativity to take risks. I want to take them. I want my children to take them. My first is starting out the introduction to P’s kindergarten with 3 days of Poetry Tea time that centers around Genesis.
- Love. The greatest of these. Julie Bogart says in the end all we have is love and trying. And it is. All of homeschooling pretty much comes down to love and trying. It is all we can ask. It is all we can give. And in the end it alone makes the biggest difference day to day.
The secret to the best school year ever is simple. Stop freaking out about curriculum. Don’t worry about fitting in a bunch of extracurriculars. You will get it figured out. Stop freaking out about covering everything you will. Instead focus on creating a feeling of love, warmth and partnership and it is going to be the best year yet!