One-on-one Time has been rough lately. I love Morning Time, and the boys do, too. But One-on-one Time is a struggle. Even so, there is room for grace here. And I’m going to tap into that.
First, the most important thing I have learned about how to homeschool, is a lesson I wish I could have learned a long time ago to apply to my life in general. Again, Charlotte Mason’s ghost comes and taps me on the shoulder, saying:
The mother devotes herself to the formation of one habit at a time, doing no more than keep watch over those already formed.
One habit at a time. My days are filled to the brim with bad habits. I’m trying to break them with good ones, but it’s so easy to be overwhelmed, and to not know what to focus on. And to think, here I am, this imperfect person, trying to instill good habits into my children? How is that supposed to work? Here I am with all of my own faults and bad habits, and yet it’s my job to teach good habits to these magnificent human beings? Where do I even start? (Well, going to bed at a decent hour would be a great place!)
I start with one thing at a time. One bite of that enormous, gargantuan elephant at a time.
The same notion applies to that of running a successful homeschool: if you try to begin everything all at once, it might explode in your face—all of it, splat!—and then you are left thinking you’re incapable, that your children’s lives are going to be ruined, and there it is: complete and utter failure, a sticky mess that seems impossible to mop up.
Coming back to what Charlotte said, forming one habit at a time, the simplicity of it is almost maddening. And yet, it’s the most logical way of approaching pretty much everything in life. Start doing one thing at a time, just one thing. When that thing becomes a habit, when it no longer seems unnatural, then you start working on the next thing.
Morning Time is successful because it’s a habit now. We started with Morning Time, and we keep at it (most days), and it’s simply habit. (And we have our own little rituals within Morning Time, which help solidify the habit, but that’s a different post.) Granted, as the children’s needs grow, Morning Time will evolve, but for now my confidence in Morning Time is soaring, and our daily feast has a high success rate. Even on the days when people need to be reminded to be cheerful, or the baby doesn’t take a nap, or due to a rough morning we put it off—so it ends up being more of an Afternoon Time instead—the feast is still a bright and glorious spot of our day. (And let’s not ignore that it’s brimming with riches, that doesn’t hurt either. There is much joy to be found in the riches; teaching phonics on the other hand, and waiting for a child to just finish reading that last half of a sentence in a BOB book, well, not as chock-full of joy.)
We are not there yet with One-on-one Time yet, it still feels like going uphill a bit, but we’re getting there.
I’m recognizing my mistakes. The lack of solid preparation (the house is still in chaos, and homeschool supplies are everywhere!), the rhythm and routine, and most importantly, trying to teach one child to do something else while the other child is having their individual lessons with mom. They are so little, and learning to do things separate from each other is stretching them. And yet, I’m hoping to lay down the rails for this aspect of our homeschool, to make it another habit that comes naturally.
The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children.
I adore that quote. It takes pains to endow children with good habits; it’s not meant to be easy.
This past week we started doing One-on-one Time before Morning Time. The lessons are incredibly short, and since a lot of the lessons are simple games or activities that are setting the children up for independent work, we can accomplish them easily (most of the time), even when George is roaming about. I’d like to say that we’re done with everything before noon, and are spending the afternoons outdoors, doing our Nature Study. But we’re not there yet, and with naps still being highly important with the baby, this “ideal” is not a reality. This is a slow motion season in my life, and I’m learning to be content with the pace. Soon enough the pace will quicken; it’ll feel like I’m watching my kids on fast-forward, and I’ll be begging to return back to slow motion.
Anyway, with temperatures cooling down, I am much more inclined to try to spend copious amounts of time outside. This is the next educational habit on the docket: to grow our love and appreciation of nature.