The boys and I had another fairly pleasant day. Everyone was sleepy today and we kind-of had to make ourselves push through and not give way to naps, but they have all said they think this year will be better. So that means they all see the difference in approaches of learning already. (Score!)
I thought I would share a bit more on how I came to this new place. As I have said in previous posts, God has impressed my heart over the last year to be purposeful and keep first things first. I just couldn't shake the feeling that there was something more...a better way than what we were experiencing.
We have taken an eclectic and literary approach to our schooling for several years now, but still I found myself hurrying through Bible to check it off and move on in order to "work everything in." I hated this struggle inside me...this knowing that true wisdom that my boys would need to weather any storm of life could only come from God, but yet "school" is supposed to be this, this, and this, etc...
I prayed a lot since the spring. I told God that I wasn't buying one thing for this year until He showed me His plan for my children. I was tired of "good" ideas...of the same ole way...of mimicking a system that is failing and dumbing down the children of this nation.
I want my children to know how to think critically, but I am not interested in them being able to "argue and debate their opinions" as the Greeks pursued. I want them to not fall for just anything, yet I also want them to not be puffed up in their own thinking...wise in their own eyes. I want them relying on the Spirit of God to speak to them and through them as they have need.
My prayer led me to a book called The Heart of Wisdom Approach. The author found herself in much the same place I have just described several years ago, decided to change coarse for her family, and through prayer and seeking, God led her back to the Hebrew way of learning.
This model that the Father set up for us in the Word is about relationship, modeling, using parables for practical application, and asking good questions that made people think. This is how I naturally teach my children. This is how most people naturally parent their children. It is what God put into us.
In this book, the author takes the reader through the history of the Church as well as the history of education. My eyes have been opened to where we, as God's people, separated from His ways. I have always been drawn to the Classical model of education as it made more sense to me than traditional public school methods, however, there were still many things about the Classical way that I questioned as being beneficial to my sons.
Now I understand why and what it is I don't want out of that philosophy. Now I see what I do want...what God desires for my sons, and I am so thankful that God met me in my seeking. I have walked with Him long enough to know that the stirring inside me was there for a reason! I knew there was more to see!
So, along with continuing to enjoy our living books for history, we are going to incorporate them more for every subject. I do love to study history chronologically, and as we are starting back over with ancient history this year, we are going to study through the perspective of the Hebrew people instead of the pagan cultures as in the last two rotations. As important as I believe it is that they learn about all cultures and beliefs, I want to be very on-top of how that information is presented to them.
Garrison is beyond excited about this. He loves to learn apologetics and reasons behind everything so a chance to explore further why he believes the Bible is true and God is who He says He is, well that is time well-spent to Garrison! I love that about him.
It's also exciting to see Alex's curiosity coming alive as he is getting older and maturing in understanding. Garrison has always been ahead of himself in what he can comprehend so I have experienced this love of learning with him for years. With Alexander though, it's a new twist and so fun to see. It has been difficult to be used to Garrison and the way learning is so easy for him and then watch Alex struggle so much (just as I did). Their giftings are completely different!
Trey still fades in and out of attention to the details and that is a-OK because technically the boy should only be in 4th grade this year anyway! He just didn't wanna be left behind when Alex started Kindergarten :) That's what I love most about homeschooling...each child can work on their own levels in each area. There is no shame in how slow we need to go in one area, nor should their be pride in how fast one can comprehend in another. I'm just thankful we can go about it the way that is best for each of them.
We will explore ancient cultures this year, keeping our eyes on what God's chosen people were doing and what the pagan cultures around them were doing at the same time. We will use many various resources and see what those early cultures added to science as well.
We are starting with a study on wisdom and how true wisdom starts with a fear (reverence) of God. Knowledge can take you to places where you can earn money, even power and prestige, but it is only true wisdom that will keep you when all that is worldly falls around you or when all the knowing of academic facts still leaves you baffled, busted, or disgusted.
I honestly don't care what my children do for work in this life, but I care very much about who they live for and what they give their time, attention and resources to. My goal is that they live with eyes on eternity and not on this quickly fading life or trying to impress anyone in it.
Training their hearts and character is of way more importance to me than math. Oh, we will do those "core" subjects that they need to know to function practically in this culture, but we will not be enslaved to them ever again. We are not going back to the familiar because of fear that we aren't doing it the same way as the American education system suggests.
My kids aren't gonna miss anything. They are going to get exactly what they need as individuals to fulfill their destiny. And I don't say that in some prideful way like my kids are better than someone else's kids who go to public school. It's not a comparison to other children or families. This is about US doing what is mandated on OUR hearts for OUR particular three children. It isn't my place to determine what anyone else is supposed to do with their children. I only know that "teaching God's ways and Word diligently" to my children means they stay with me at this time of their existence.
I have been delivered from the prideful mindset of thinking I know what is God's plan for other people's children. I need only make sure I have my eyes on Him for MY family. That is so freeing!!!
I have also found freedom in the Language Arts area of our studies. I have long wondered how a spelling list of 20 words unrelated to anything else my boys were doing was helpful! Separate vocabulary assignments, grammar that they never seem to hold onto in their minds, and a writing process they found dreadful and unrelated because of, ah shoot, let's just call them what they are...ridiculous writing assignments that fueled no passion in them to use their creativity!
Now, we will follow the suggestions of an actual successful author (Brave Write-Writer's Jungle). We will start with oral language games and freewriting to try to undo the damage of drudgery and spark some life into finding their own writing voice! We will study grammar in more enjoyable ways and make it applicable to writing. We won't correct and revise every single thing they write, picking them apart and criticizing them constantly. We will let them get their thoughts out and enjoy emptying their heart onto paper for a while. Then we will pick one thing they wrote and work on a couple of areas at a time until they have mastered them and gain confidence that they can express themselves and not be raked over the coals for it!
We will take the misspelled words of their writing and put them into a notebook and get their vocabulary words from what they are already reading. Handwriting will be practiced through copywork of things that they will want to remember their whole life long by writing it in their character/wisdom notebook.
They will finish this year knowing how the Bible came to us, how it indeed can be the true words from God, what every book from Genesis to Acts is about, what God's plan was from before the foundations of the earth were laid, and how they fit into it.
We will throw in the music and art they WANT to explore, some Spanish that they can one day use when they go with me to Nicaragua and meet the family God has given them there, and they will continue to study the physical disciplines of martial arts.
I know our "school" doesn't look like everyone else's but that is just fine because I am training up each individual in the way HE should go. I've been set free from comparison and it is a glorious place to be!
I'm so thankful that God has given me a natural gift to organize and bring order from chaos. I can easily put a plan together...it's the walking it out day by day that I have to discipline myself to do!
We will also be going to a co-op this year. It's been a few years since we have been part of one, but our past experience was good. We are excited to make some new friends and enjoy fun classes like Lego Mind Engineering, launching rockets and studying the physics of flight, art (which I get to use my gifts to teach...yay!!!), Junior Achievement leadership and problem solving, and Garrison will obtain his government credit there so that's helpful.
So that's our vision for this year. I always love to hear where God has led others. We must spur one another on!