This month we slipped back into homeschooling. That's kind of how it felt. More than a big push, it was a gentle slide. Yes, I stayed up late for a couple of nights attempting to memorize the King James version of the Creation word for word (what was I thinking?) for Ida's first block on the Hebrew Scriptures. But in contrast to our many adventures and canceled plans of recent months, coming back to homeschooling felt like coming home.
Our homeschool room spent July and August as a free-for-all playroom where elaborate games once set up could stay for days and days. I gave up on seeing the floor in there and delighted in the wild creativity of summer. Now the toys are back in their baskets, the floor is swept, a new homemade chalkboard is in pride of place: a space is created for the unfolding of this special experience we share. Now I remember why this my favorite room in the house. It holds my highest intentions for my family, our most earnest selves, our hopes for each new day of learning. We fill it with beauty as best we can: songs in praise of the light, poems full of tenderness and power, painting, drawing, and stories.
Of course, sometimes our best falls short of my ideals. Homeschooling can be a sort of feedback loop: it amplifies the beauty of family life and also amplifies the challenges and conflicts. Some days we harmonize and flow, some days we're all bumps and edges. On the rough days, its surprising easy to blame this crazy choice- homeschooling!- for whatever challenges are coming up. Sibling rivalry, perfectionism, thwarted expectations, just plain grouchiness...I remind myself that these are part of family life however we chose to school. Spending so much time together brings these challenges to the surface in a big way, but also gives us tons of time to work on them. We progress: find solutions when we can, accept when we can't, learn to laugh more and share more.
As a homeschool teacher, it is natural to me to create quite a bit of structure. Having a plan and sticking to it reassures me. It also reassures my kids, who like to know what to expect. It helps them trust me and this whole homeschooling venture. However, I'm working right now to balance my love of form with a good dose of flexibility. I'm working on trusting the pace of my children, even when I feel that we could be moving faster, doing more. I'm really looking this year, trying to see clearly who each child is today. What is needed now, this morning? It might be what I planned or it might not. I'm sort of okay with that.
At two years old, Eden can be counted upon to bring us down to earth and keep us honest. Whether he's singing along with circle time (delightful!) or throwing Emmet's crayons and pulling his hair (umm, not delightful!), Eden is always an enlivening influence. Here he is, hard at work on his first painting. I carefully selected the golden yellow for his first paint color- so cheerful! The green was his choice. As the room echoed with his incredibly loud screams for "Green!" I hastily mixed this sort of algae-colored green. Well, it is what it is. He was satisfied.
If I had a mantra for this season, or an intention to post over my kitchen sink as my friend does, it would be Settle In. I've never been much for settling. Settling down...Settling for less...These phrases quickly stir me into a feeling of impatience and frustration. But Settling In: this I can do. I've got my knitting. I've got my kids. I've got my true love coming home at five. I have what I need.