Here is a post without any pictures. The battery on my camera died weeks ago, my cell phone only works half the time, and my computer with all my pictures no longer connects to the internet.
So here I type on my husband’s computer, while he sleeps. But not a single picture to keep things interesting.
I hope to write every seven weeks. Kind of mind-blowing, right? But here is what’s going on:
C, now being six, is old enough to start Year 1 of AmblesideOnline. I wish I had kept track of when I realized that this was the curriculum for us (it might even be right here on this blog). I know it was during the summertime—last summer, probably—after we had done a “trial run” of six weeks. Nearly all the texts for Year 1 are on the free domain, so I was able to use the texts, try them out for free before buying any books. Even though, looking back, I was “doing it wrong,” it was confirmed to me that this is the path to be taking. The problem was, he was still five, and it is practically a sin to start the child earlier. I won’t go into the preciseness, and rules of such a thing, only that if you know me well, you know this fits into my personality. I am trusting AO, mainly because I am learning to trust Charlotte Mason. It is God I put my faith and trust in first, and I am learning that in terms of educational philosophy, CM was truly inspired by Him.
So, C is six, and he was six at the start of the year. So we dived into Ambleside. Granted, we had been doing school before, so it didn’t seem that different, at least, I don’t think it felt too different to him, except more was required of him, especially in getting him started with narration. It is a learning process for both him and myself, his learning to narrate, and my learning to set it up correctly. And we got to return to reading the glorious books. I read these books and sometimes I weep, because I wish they had been a part of my own childhood. (And by weep, I mean tear up, and lament to my homeschool friends.)
The “big deal” in all of this? Now that he’s in Year 1, it’s technically first grade, in a sense. No more namby-pamby kindergarten. And I had decided to plan the year with a “Sabbath” schedule, of six weeks on and the seventh week off. There are many reasons for this, of which, I won’t go into here. But this meant no more halfsies. Before I figured he either was ahead in some areas or right on track with kindergarten, so last year we averaged on a three day school week. Now, it’s the big guns, right? And it was time to habit-train ourselves (both teacher and student) to do school everyday. So these first six weeks we did not have a single day off, and sometimes even had school on Saturdays.
It was a real push for me. And I also was habit-training myself with a few things. Waking up at 4:30 in the morning, trying to be asleep by 9 PM. I stopped watching any TV; I read more books; I wasn’t eating buckets of ice cream at midnight.
I was being stretched. I have acquired some pretty bad habits over the years, or rather my entire life. So this was new, and it felt like a momentous inertia, a beautiful constant. School happened everyday, even when there were bad attitudes, or a disastrous messy house, or a teething toddler. Come hell or high water, I was rocking my homeschool, doggone it!
Still, I kept eyeing my “Sabbath” week. It would give me time to evaluate and think on improvements for areas that needed it. I thought of all the prep work I could get done, I thought of all the housework that could be accomplished, and I thought of the break. Just having a break.
So. This week was the absolute worst. It did not feel restful. I caught a cold, the baby has been nothing short of demanding, and everything. just. fell. apart. I’ve been sleeping in, I’ve been staying up late, and last night for the first time in nearly seven weeks, I binge-watched a show on Netflix. It was awful. And I am tired.
Yesterday, I began to reevaluate this kind of schedule. Maybe I have it all wrong? Maybe I should be doing a traditional school year, or maybe I shouldn’t space our breaks like this?
I was feeling desperate, because here’s the solid truth: I love to homeschool. Oh, the joy! Learning together with my kids! It’s the best thing. It’s my favorite part! (Teaching phonics is not my favorite.) Nearly everything about it is my favorite part of this whole gig. And without it, I seriously start to fall apart. I need it to be good, I need it to be a better person, to improve myself.
But, before I threw my hands up and gave up with this Sabbath scheduling, the line from a T.S. Eliot poem that Cindy Rollins has quoted popped into my head,
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
I realized that the system, our practice of homeschooling, was keeping me in check, which sounds good in theory, but when the system wasn’t currently in process, I was no longer being “good.” I threw my new sleep habits out the window, I just plain forgot to do my personal prayer and scripture study, and I failed to keep doing the good things because I was taking my precious “break.”
It has made me think about repentance. And that age-old issue of pride, thinking we can be perfect, that if we have the perfect system, we won’t need to be good anymore, we won’t need God anymore.
So now this week has become less about taking a break, and more about practicing repentance. Things will fall apart regardless of even the most perfect of systems, because we are not perfect beings. (And I realized, that if I didn’t have this break from school this week, things probably would have fallen apart anyway—why not just plan on it? Plan on letting things go a little bit, to remember, to remember, to remember how to be good.)
Not to mention, I am filled with a rush to gear up and get back on the horse on Monday. Back in the saddle! Crack that whip! These little trips and stumbles might be just what we need to remember our Savior, and to be better, to be better and to repent. Repent, and put my faith back in God, and not in the system.