Last year I was tired and weary from eight years of learning at home with children. (We withdrew Miss A from school and began testing her in late 1997)
In 2006 I had planned to start afresh with a new plan, and I was trying to gather enthusiasm for the new school year. I had blogged about it all, and one thing led to another and I decided to take a year’s Sabbatical. The entries and thoughts are scattered throughout this blog so I thought I’d compile them in one place.
It all started when I was studying ‘Rest’ and Sabbath in the Bible.
I’m going to try something a little different this coming year!
Usually I pray and ponder and peruse all the curriculum catalogues so that I can plan an approximate guide for each of my children. Late last year I roughly planned out the years for each of the children until they are 16years old. It was a very loose plan with lots of room for delights, interests and purposes. I then broke that down into the various years. I had planned to break that down even further and map out what things we would do this coming year but I’ve decided not to! I’m going to try something different. Instead of the 4 P’s (pray, ponder, peruse and plan) I’m going to focus on the 3 R’s. No, not Readin’ ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic but…
Rest, Relationship and Refreshment.
I want to rest in God more and lead my children to do the same. I want to focus more upon relationships than ever before and I want to make sure that we have quality times of refreshment amidst our life of work. I don’t want to always be striving toward the next academic goal nor feeling good about achieving my goals. I just want to rest in God. The practical implication of this is that I won’t be planning, rather I will record what we have done each day. Each of the children will have their own recording journal, which we have designed ourselves and had spiral bound, (Learning Lifestyle Journal) and it will cover the following areas:
- SPIRITUAL LIFE ~Bible reading, study, worship, prayer, fellowship, devotional readings, journal writing
- LIFE SKILLS~ Chores, serving others, life skills
- RELATIONSHIP/CHARACTER~ Relationship to others, God and self. Exercise, sport, nutrition, hygiene, personal development, health
- ENGLISH~The art of communication – copywork/dictation, grammar, poetry, writing/composition, spelling/vocabulary, literature
- MATHEMATICS~ Problem solving, thinking skills, logic studies
- SCIENCE~Nature study, typing/technology, study
- HISTORY~Past people and events. History and biography
- GEOGRAPHY~ people and places of the world. Government, Economics, Foreign Language
- WORLD VIEWS, CURRENT EVENTS ~
- CREATIVE ARTS ~ Music, art, crafts, drama, Shakespeare, instruments, and other creative activities
- AUDIO, VIDEO, TV & DISCUSSIONS~ Things I’ve discussed or learned by listening or watching
There is also room at the bottom of the page for student notes or comments and parent notes or comment. Maybe I’m becoming more this way the longer that we do this [learn at home].
I’m tired of seeing myself as a homeschooler! We are a FAMILY! And that is how God designed us to be. Academics are one part of life and so much of it can be done within a different time frame to what we (as school-ised parents) know of. I don’t want to “measure my success” by the amount of Table-Time that we have or the amount of books that we read or how structured or unstructured we may be.
The New Year came and I still wasn’t getting excited:
I’ll confess. I’m not jumping up and down with excitement over lessons (school) this year. Nope! There was a time when we would visit Officeworks and stock up on all manner of new stationary and papers and binders and filing systems but (this is the beginning of our 9th year) I can’t even gather some motivation to do that at the moment. There was a time when I would devise some great plans but not this year- we’re just plodding on from where we left off. I love making plans though and if I must say so myself, I’m kinda good at it too. However, it gets really tiring seeing those plans NOT become reality due to one reason or another (usually called “real life”) so I decided not to make any fresh plans or schedules. Years ago, I decided not to make New Year’s Resolutions for pretty much the same reason yet it took me awhile to realise that the same thing happens with my lesson plans.
So, we’re easing back into lessons next week but we’ll start slowly. Bible, English and Reading Aloud and Individual Reading (Yes, I still have to insist upon individual reading for some of my children) will happen first and then once we are rolling with that, we’ll add Maths, Science and History and just keep going from there.
I have tried all of my usual tricks in order to find some motivation or inspiration and it just isn’t happening! Yes, I know that God has called me to this job and that in Him I can do it, but I’m still weary. I want to keep pressing on toward the goal but I’m still tired. I’ve read articles on burnout and while I usually glean something from them, I’m not this time round.
Last year I thought about the possibility of a Sabbath Year- one year every seven years spent in just *rest* before God. No striving, planning, feeling driven, etc. but to simply REST in Him. Yes, I know that this can be a daily process and it should be, but I also think I need a Sabbath Year.
Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. – Psalm 27:14
I thought about this last year and decided against it BECAUSE I was scared! Scared that my daughter is getting older and couldn’t find the time to have off but I realised that be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9
So, with our Sabbath Year this year I’m committing to NOT striving or planning, but to just *live* and rest in the author and the finisher of my faith.
By July 23rd, 2006 we were midway into our Sabbatical
Here we are midway through the year, and it’s time to look back, to assess and take stock of how things are going.
In January of this year, I decided to have a Sabbath period. I called it a Sabbath year but later changed it to a Sabbath Season. I was content to take up to a year but didn’t want to be bound by that. The point of this Sabbath Season was to not strive. Not to plan. Not to be so consumed by homeschooling. To not feel so driven most of the time but to relax in Him. To focus on relationships. I knew that this should/could be the way of learning-at-home but it wasn’t reality for me. Not really.
So, where are we now six months later? What have we been doing? Surely we haven’t just been sleeping in late each day and doing nothing? No. As I had posted we really have been focusing on the 3 R’s – Rest, Relationship and Refreshment.
Yes we’ve been moving interstate, having visitors stay with us and going away for softball trips but we’ve also been doing some things that could/should/would be classified as lessons.
How is this different to what we were doing last year when I thought that God was directing our home? Well, it’s the same but different. The change is in *me*. I didn’t realize exactly how many layers of self I had wrapped up in homeschooling- but there’s a few. A few years ago, I thought I had given it all over to God… that He could do what He wanted with me and that I had died to self and let go of my ideals. And I did do that. However, I believe that there were still parts of it, my goals that had to be given over to God. I’m learning at a deeper level what He means when He says to commit our ways to Him.
So far this year, we have read history, science, done maths and English, watched many movies and had great discussions on the nature of man, practiced real life skills, trained our physical bodies, and implemented new chores and routines. But more than that, we have spent more time in God’s word- reading, studying, immersing ourselves in Him.
It’s not that we have stopped learning how to write or spell or do maths… rather that I don’t plan and wring my hands with worry. We simply pick up the lesson where we left off and if this means that we don’t do maths for 2 or 3 weeks then so be it! It isn’t going anywhere, and we’ll get back to it one day. Meanwhile, there are other things for us to learn or do.
I have been pleasantly surprised at how much my children have been able to achieve independently WHEN THEY ARE READY. Oh, I used to try and have them read this and that… to do this report and that essay but it was a bit of a slog. Now I see that as they are ready, (and I’m watching all the time to see when the time is right) they are able to go through 3 -4 times the amount of work that I could have taught them. But the added bonus is that they have done it themselves and so they taste success in doing something themselves.
So where to from here? Learning-at-home is a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe if I only had the one or two children at home I could do academics with 100% focus but I don’t- I have four beautiful children. This means that it is truly a marathon… the long haul. It has to be a lifestyle for it to be sustainable (for us). This means that I approach the educating of our children a little differently to someone who is homeschooling for a year or so or until high school. This is our 9th year (at time of writing), and I have approximately another 7-8 years before my youngest son finishes yr 12. It isn’t about ‘resting’ and not planning for another 8 years. It’s about not being consumed by that planning. It’s about truly trusting in Him and committing my way to Him.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
This Sabbath Season isn’t meant to be just for a month or so, for me. Rather it is to be the way we live for now, until the Lord directs us differently. This will come too, I think as there is a time for work and a time for rest. But on a much smaller scale, I’m even finding this to be true WITHIN our Sabbath Season. There is a time to focus on spelling, on maths, on history, etc. but I don’t need to focus on them every day, every week, every month. Seasons – what a gift from God!When I wake in the morning are my thoughts about curricula, lessons or history or are they on the Lord and how I can best serve Him this day?
What I have learned from our Sabbatical Year
November 25th, 2006
Well, it’s getting on toward the end of the year, which means a new year is coming. I’ve had such an interesting journey so far this year, and I’ve chronicled it a little on my blog but in scattered bits and pieces.
It all started when I pursued my own study on the Sabbath (Nov 2005). I decided to try focusing on the 3 R’s for 2006- the new 3 R’s – Rest, Relationship and Refreshment. Jan 2006 saw me not too excited about lessons this year so deciding to have a Sabbath Season.
We moved interstate in May so we had to ride the waves of moving. Throughout this I was becoming more interested in getting fitter and I realised something about our home and family, from reading Body for Life. The book talks about hitting high points and efficient workouts, etc. Gee, this sounds a bit like my homeschool- instead of wanting to do lessons and booky stuff all day every day, I want to do our lessons efficiently, hit some high points AND have a life! In July, I was having such a good time that I decided to take stock of the year so far: and in August I started to formulate our recipe for success or not!
Throughout this time of Sabbath I have learned a lot about myself, the nature of Man, the nature of God, how we learn, etc I also learned, in a whole new way, that people will learn what they need to know, when they need to know it.
So where to for next year?
I’m getting a little excited about planning for next year but with the lessons I’ve learnt firmly in my mind.
Our focus will still be on the 3 R’s.
Rest, Relationship and Refreshment.
There are so many books that we haven’t read … books that I know we won’t even get to read … lessons that I haven’t done, but that’s okay! The important ones have been read, the important lessons have been discussed, relationships have been nurtured and the curiosity that is essential for learning has been kindled. Whenever I start to look at how much a child hasn’t done, I stop and look at how much they care, not how much they know and I’m left feeling content.
My family dynamics have changed a fair bit over the last 12 months, and I’m looking forward to a new season of working with my boys. The girls and I have always loved learning about history- it has been our favourite subject, but the boys are more interested in geography and science. Science is something I’ve tried to almost avoid but I’ve even been writing a unit study based on a Willard Price book in preparation for next year. My goal is to bring John to a level where he will be able to work more independently so that I can spend a little more time with ‘Master C’ . I want to streamline the basics so that we an all spend more time in God’s word and learning according to their delights and interests.
We’ll still have interruptions as we’re probably moving again in May, and with two girls working part time and youth group, and ‘Miss A’ ‘s softball this means the waves are starting get a little bigger, but that’s fine because that’s life! It’s how we know we’re alive!
So I’m excited about switching focus to a new subject (science) and teaching my boys, which is totally different to teaching my girls. I’m excited about teaching and showing them God’s word … ahhh, much to be thankful for.
All in all our Sabbatical Year was a beautiful opportunity to learn about many things in ways that we hadn’t before. We tried new things, we tried new ways of doing things, we rested, we were refreshed and we were ready to start the new year (2007) full of energy. Most of all, I spent time growing in God’s word, gaining fresh and new motivation for the remainder of my days as a homeschool mum.
In the year 2006, the ages of my children were approximately: 15yodd, 13yodd, 11yods and a 9yods.