education is a matter of the heart

I have been away from this space too long! Life sure is full. But I'll write more about that later. The words that keep coming to my mind as I reflect upon our homeschool is "education is a matter of the heart."  And I'm realizing that engaging my children, REALLY engaging them is not a matter of getting through a certain amount of curriculum each day or even during each week.

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It's just so much more. So much comes down to the feeling in our home and how we interact. If I'm feeling stressed or irritable, then school time is pretty hard and kind of miserable. But when I take the time to remember what an honor it is to be with these precious people and we work together on things, I truly cannot imagine a sweeter feeling in the world! In a very real way, I see my boys' hearts open. And when their hearts are open, their minds are like sponges, and they just soak everything up with such happiness and delight! Then learning is such a truly joyful process. The day flows naturally, and we move naturally from one lesson to another and one task to another. And our home is a heaven on earth. It's a beautiful experience. 

However, I don't want anyone to mistakenly think that things are perfect in our home with school--they're not!  But I am learning.  I'm learning what things help us have a great day and what things make the day turn sour.  And to be truthful, pretty much all of it has to do with me.  Here are some things that help me have a great day.  Funny thing is they are not earth-shattering.  But for me they make a huge difference!

  • Shower the night before.  Sounds silly, but this makes such a difference!  It enables me to get ready in the morning quickly and feel like I'm in control of my day whether than be at mercy of things that sometimes come up (such as being up a lot in the night with our baby or taking extra time in the morning with a little boy who starts the day off on the wrong foot, etc.)
  • Prepare ahead. Now, I'm not huge on making elaborate homeschool preparations; it's not my personality, I don't think it's necessary, and with a 5 month old, it's not realistic!  But I do like to read through things and look at the week ahead of time on Sunday evening so I can make a plan for the week.  
  • Take time to get inspired.  I think this is really important.  I think homeschooling is a pretty selfless thing to do.  And it's important to remind myself why I'm doing this!  Some of my favorite places to turn are anything from Charlotte Mason, podcasts (I love the ones wild + free has made), Oliver Demille's A Thomas Jefferson Education, and I also enjoy turning to my favorite Instagram homeschool accounts to see what my homeschool mama friends are up to!
  • Exercise.  I have not been good on this one since Elijah came.  I have not been able to figure out how to fit it in with all of our urgent house projects, staying up in the night with baby boy, and managing our home. BUT this is an important one, and I should be able to be more regular at this soon.  It will feel so good to me.  There is something so empowering about getting a good workout in.
  • Take time for spiritual direction and renewal.  This is the most important one on the list.  In my morning prayer I always ask for help in cultivating a home where we can feel God's Spirit, and I always ask for help in nurturing and teaching these precious boys sent to my stewardship from Heaven.  Just saying this helps me orient myself in the right direction.  And of course, prayers of faith invite the powers of Heaven into our home (and we sure need it)!  And then I spend some time reading scriptures.  During the years I have babies, my scripture study times aren't as thorough as I'd like.  I have noticed that with my second and third  children.  But I can still do it--even if it's not as thorough or lengthy as I'd like.  It's something.  And it's enough for this time.
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I know some advocate for teaching reading or math at a very young age.  This may work great for some, but I'm learning that as we cultivate a loving school environment (which is really just an extension of a loving home environment), learning is inevitable!  And it's not forced.  It's intrinsically driven from the child.  I am very aware of trying to help my boys build intrinsic motivation.  Maybe it's simply a matter of style, but I don't like to use a lot of external motivators for learning (i.e., gold stars or rewards).  I want them to recognize the internal satisfaction that comes from learning or achieving something.  And I want them to develop the curiosity from inside that leads them to ask questions and figure out things on their own.  Anyway, I find all of this tends to happen more naturally as I take care to nurture their precious little hearts.  Furthermore, I don't believe that early pressure to achieve is good for the children in the long run!  And great long-term results are what I'm aiming towards.  I love this from the ever-inspiring Charlotte Mason:

In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a motherโ€™s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air.
— Charlotte Mason
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Knowledge, as an abiding joy, comes only to those who love her for her own sake, and not to those who use her to get on in school or in life.
— Charlotte Mason

Yes, the longer I homeschool, the more I realize that education--a great education--is a matter of the heart.  xo 

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