Wednesday

Please Don’t Take My Scholé Away!

How to Keep Restful Teaching in Your Homeschool

One of the most misunderstood ideas when people talk about scholé or teaching from rest is that your homeschool is an island of peaceful tranquility. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Teaching from rest has more to do with the teacher’s state of mind than any external circumstances.

One of my favorite Bible passages illustrates what teaching from rest looks like in reality. In Matthew 14:22-33, the story is told of a storm during which Jesus comes to the disciples by walking across the water to their boat. They are initially frightened, but once Peter realizes it’s Jesus, he asks if he can walk on the water as well. Jesus tells him to get out of the boat, and Peter begins to walk on water just like Jesus is, but then he notices the wind, becomes afraid, and starts to sink.

Teaching from rest and scholé work exactly the same way. Our daily lives may look like a storm of toddlers and babies, tweens and teens, cooking and cleaning, math and handwriting, but our hearts and minds are at rest and peaceful, walking on the water. If we begin to focus on the storm, though, we quickly begin to sink and scholé goes right out the window.

Please Don't Take My Schole Away

I know that I find our homeschool flowing well and, before I know it, stress and anxiety begin to creep back into our day. Incorporating scholé into your homeschool is not a one and done proposition, but a constant striving. Thankfully I’ve been through this cycle enough that I know to expect it. Here are the four key areas I look at to make sure that I’m being proactive with scholé maintenance to stay in that sweet ‘walking on water’ spot of teaching from rest. If you are feeling a little like Peter sinking into the ocean, you might see how you’re doing in these four areas as well.

Personal Spiritual Health

I’m sure we’ve all heard it mentioned when talking about the story of Peter walking on the water that when he takes his eyes off of Jesus to focus on the storm around him, that is when he begins to sink. Restful teaching has the exact same correlation. When I begin to skip my morning devotionals or procrastinate spending time with the Lord in Bible study and prayer, my focus quickly turns to the storm. Once I focus on the storm, rest and scholé make a quick exit. The first area that I give attention to if I feel I’m losing that restful feeling is my personal spiritual health. Am I spending quality time and quantity time with Jesus? Am I studying my Bible? Am I praying? Am I praising and giving thanks to Him? How I answer these questions can be a HUGE help in determining why I feel exhausted and stressed about our homeschool.

Perceived Milestones

I haven’t met a homeschooler yet who hasn’t fallen into this trap: comparing your child’s education to another’s. We compare our child to other homechoolers. We compare our child to public and private school students. And inevitably there is some category, some perceived milestone, that our child is not reaching as quickly or as advanced as another child. These milestones are not real. They are not based on YOUR child. They are contrived in our minds to feed that voice that whispers our greatest fear: you are failing your child.  If I begin to listen to that voice, this restful homeschool mom turns into the crazy, slave driver mom who feels an all encompassing desire to keep up with the educational Joneses. Sometimes I need to repeat to myself daily, “My children are going to be fine. I am educating them to the best of my ability.” Find your own mantra and keep that voice at bay!

Packed Schedule

Nothing can sink a homeschool mom quicker than a packed schedule. Shuffling children here and there multiple times and places a week is stressful for any parent, but for a mom who is trying to teach from rest, it can be kryptonite! How much is too much will depend upon your personality and comfort level, not to mention how many fast food dinners you can stand each week! I’m not going to tell you how many nights a week to have an activity is too many. That is totally a personal family choice. I will say, however, that sometimes in an effort to make sure our children participate in as much as possible, we forget that everyone in the family needs space and time for rest and leisure. Masterful inactivity as Charlotte Mason called it. I always make it a point to visibly write down how many days and nights we are on the go participating in extra-curriculars. If our week has four nights or more where we are committed to be out of the house, I start to scale back. Too much of a good thing is still too much.

Prerequisite Fail

Another Charlotte Mason gem that I ignored for too long is habit training. When you are in your house schooling and living, things can get messy and cluttered {that’s putting it mildly!} Nothing can throw off my teaching from rest mindset more than having to deal with house issues before we can even think about focusing on truth, beauty, and goodness. At times like these I know that I need to do a quick reminder lesson on my number one homeschool prerequisite: habit training. Not just for the kids, but for myself as well. Peace and rest for me have a lot to do with the state of our home as well. I don’t need perfection. I don’t need floors you can eat off of, but I do need relatively clutter free and walking space. All of us can slack off. All of us can skip some of our chores and habits here and there, but if it gets to be consistent and multiplied by more than one person, it becomes a problem that needs to be remedied for me to function from rest and for leisurely learning and contemplation to be present in our homeschool.

So far whenever I’ve found myself becoming more and more stressed and anxious, one or more of these key areas has been neglected for too long. It’s amazing the impact that these four things have on my peace of mind and, thus, our homeschool. If you find yourself seeking scholé, but finding it difficult to hold onto, you might take a look at these four areas as well.

Everyday Schole Final Image

Curious how my other Everyday Scholé blog buddies deal with keeping scholé and rest in their homeschools? Click below to read some great blog posts about it!

restful learning when life is busy sunny patch      keeping scholé classically homeschooling

What areas keep you from teaching from rest in your homeschool?

Let me know in the comments.

Maintaining a restful mind and homeschool is a fulltime job in the tree house,

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Fifth Grade Literature List

{And How I Finalized My Selections}

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While I found a lot of inspiration at the Great Homeschool Convention in Fort Worth, one of my big take aways {and big purchases} was changing how I approach literature study. Andrew Kern talked about reading less books, but spending more time with them to truly know the work and enjoy it. I had also noticed that the list of books I wanted Grace to read was growing longer every year to the point that there would be no possible way she could read them all. So for this year, I came back from convention and decided to only have her read one book each month for the rest of the year. The last week of each month we would discuss the book using the Teaching the Classics curriculum. I was super excited and ready to dive in, but I needed a much shorter list of books than the one I currently had. So many good books and so little time!

Fifth Grade Literature List

Thankfully I enlisted the help of an online homeschool friend who is known for giving great book recommendations. One of the easiest ways to choose literature, according to her, is to think about the genres you want your child to read from and chose books from each of those. This helps your child not get stuck in one preferred genre, but also allows you to choose books that you want your child to read as well. So here is my finalized list for Grace’s fifth grade literature selections with genre.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (Fantasy)

My Side of the Mountain  by Jean Craighead George (Realistic Fiction)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Fairytale/Folktale)

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (Futuristic/Dystopian)

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (Historical Fiction and Mystery)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (Humor)

Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran by Kenneth Thomasma (Real People/Fictional Biography)

Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter (Classics)

The next three books on my list are all going to be read in one month. The short story and the narrative poem will be read in one week with two weeks spent reading Shakespeare. I’m hoping to use Rip Van Winkle and Tuck Everlasting as a compare and contrast type discussion since they both deal with the concept of living well past a normal lifespan and discuss any positives or negatives that each author (Irving or Babbitt) brings out in their stories. I’m already thinking that next year I want to spend an entire month on short stories so we can read more than just one.

Rip Van Winkle by Will Moses and Washington Irving (Short Story)

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (Poetry/Narrative Poetry)

A Midsummer Night's Dream The Graphic Novel: Original Text   by William Shakespeare and John McDonald (Shakespeare/Drama). There is also a Plain Text version in case your child isn’t ready for Shakespeare in his original form. This was the book Grace was most excited about. My sweet little Shakespeare lover. {sigh}

And there you have it! My personal hand-picked literature selections for Grace for fifth grade. As you can see, the list is girl interest heavy for obvious reasons, but I’m really excited about my choices and so is she. Of course there are some more genre categories that I just couldn’t fit into my plan, but I wanted to offer a free printable so that all of you could use these different genres to plan your own child’s literature list. You can follow the link below to print it off.

Literature Planning by Genre

Making literature planning a simple process in the tree house,

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A Morning Meeting Espresso Shot

I myself am not a coffee drinker, but most of my friends and my spouse are. From what I understand, there is nothing more necessary enjoyable than starting your day with a hot cup of your favorite blend. Especially if you can really savor and linger over it in the quiet stillness of the morning. This is how I view our normal Morning Meeting routine; it’s an hour to an hour and a half of savoring and lingering over truth, beauty, and goodness. But let’s face it. Just like a coffee drinker, sometimes we don’t have the time or ability to linger over our Morning Meeting time. For those days we might just need an espresso shot to get us through.

Morning Meeting Espresso Shot

The need for a quick, but power-packed version of Morning Meeting came from my annoying perfectionist tendency to not do things if I can’t do them perfectly. I would skip Morning Meeting because we didn’t have time to do the full lingering cup. However, I noticed that our days seemed to not run as well when we don’t take the time for at least some of that truth, beauty, and goodness diet.

Which led me to ask, “If I had to do the bare minimum of our Morning Meeting time, what things would I include to make it power-packed and effective?”

Hymn

Prayer

Bible Reading

Bible Memory Work

I kept all of these parts of Morning Meeting and didn’t cut any of our Bible time because it’s definitely the number one thing we do in our Morning Meeting and our family culture.

History Timeline Song

Academic Memory Work

I kept these two items because I wanted to make sure we do our memory work as much as possible and because my kids love the history timeline song and it doesn’t take very long at all.

Art or Music Appreciation

Poetry Reading

Poetry Memory Work

So much beauty and goodness in these three items that they had to stay in my espresso shot approach. We love to linger here and contemplate even on shortened days.

Content Subject Focus

I kept this one for a matter of expediency. When we get to Table Time later in the day I want to make sure we’ve already covered our content reading earlier in the day during Morning Meeting.

Now that I had my bare minimum of things I wanted to cover, I had to make sure I hadn’t totally nullified my intentions: to make Morning Meeting quicker.

I had to figure out, “How long does all of this take?”

This was the simplest part; I timed it while we were using our quick version one morning. It came in at 30-35 minutes which was perfect. If it had been any longer I would have looked at my list and tried to cut something else until I got it in the 30 minute range.

Making sure that we kept a Morning Meeting time in our homeschool day was super important to me. I didn’t want to write off that special time just because I didn’t have time to do it perfectly. Now I’ve got the best of both worlds. We can enjoy a long, lingering cup of Morning Meeting when we have time or we can fit a super quick espresso shot of Morning Meeting when it’s necessary.

This is the second part of the Everyday Scholé blog linkup about Morning Meeting. You can find the first post about Morning Meeting resources here.

Everyday Schole Final Image

And of course you must check out my fellow Everyday Scholé bloggers, Tonia and Sara as they share their Morning Meeting scheduling tips as well:

only child homeschooling morning meeting  Morning Time Schedule

Making Morning Meeting small, but powerful in the tree house,

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