Where last week was a roller coaster this week has simply been. It was not helped with me navigating it with a migraine which has made my mornings somewhat slow and foggy. Lessons at home are also not helped by Kanga teething and unsettled. She has decided that it is high time she was up and walking and so is very frustrated and lets the world know when she finds herself flat on the ground having tried to get from one piece of furniture to another which requires letting go. A report this week indicated low-level disruption in classrooms can hinder learning. Well I know I am not the first home schooling parent this week to remark that the same can be said at home from time to time. But the blessing of being at home is there is room for flexibility and adapting. Which is exactly what we did on Thursday morning when I was re-emerging from my migraine state and everyone was out of kilter. I was encouraged reading an article on the BBC where Richard Branson was speaking of allowing his staff to pick and choose when and how long they took time off work, rather than setting a set amount of annual leave. Staff tended to take time when the team were in a good place work wise, and did not take excessive time away and honoured the team. So with renewed confidence we decided to put lessons to one side and go and run errands in the village and bake a scrumptious chocolate fudge cake. I am very thankful chocolate is not a trigger for my migraines. Along with the renewed confidence came doubt though as I stepped outside the front door for while we are both very confident of the choice we have made with home education we then have to live it out in community with others who may be supportive, curious, unsure or totally skeptical and I find myself doubting as I ponder what they might think if they see us having fun out and about when ‘surely we should be doing lessons.’ Later that day I then came across an article highlighting the importance of play as a means and end in itself and it not always needing to come with an educational, social or health measured outcome and that children these days do not get enough free play. I watched my children build bridges and forts with the sofa cushions and remembered their interaction on the rides outside the supermarket and let go of my guilt that I had not set an agenda for their play in the midst of a day ‘off lesson’ and let them have a bucket full of free play and soaked in the enjoyment of their imaginations.
I was reminded on Monday afternoon that large busy groups at the moment are not life giving for me right now, which is hard as our church group is growing and thriving which is exciting to see. But my intention to catch up with lessons in the afternoon instead was a non starter. And my inner self often reacts with panic to that as my personal monologue then tells me that the whole week is going to be a right off and that this whole journey is going to be lost. Yes I tend to over dramatise outcomes. But with a change to our Tuesday routines with art and music with others now being every two weeks I was able to catch up with lessons on Tuesday morning and still do art with my boys. This week it was Egyptian headdresses. We then all headed to the park for a fantastic fall walk and play with some bark rubbings along the way. That was the highlight of the week seeing Bob and the other children forming friendships and heading off creating dens and fishing and paddling, while the mums re-lived their childhoods collecting chestnuts with the little ones.
With this new pattern for Tuesdays it works well as our church group is every two weeks and so will work in with me being able to not worry about trying to do lessons on a Monday afternoon but can do them on a Tuesday morning, but I will need to be extra organised with dinner for Tuesdays. That is part and parcel the blessing of these days as we adjust and adapt our weeks and work out what is best for us and how much we can all manage. Bob also added into his week french on a Wednesday afternoon at an after school group. He has a love and fascination for languages so we will see how he goes with a modern language as so far his main exposure to languages has been Biblical Greek and Hebrew through his Dad’s study.
This week also found us being asked about ‘socialization’ and the need to ensure our children are getting adequate socialization. In all honesty it is a question I dread because my I am not sure what lies behind the question and so list off any number of ways our children interact with others in the week – home school co-op, church, french class etc. We are not living hermit lives and so I wrestle with why we are always being asked that one question. What is it that causes school families to always come round to that question of homeschooling families? Surely all of us should be seeing our families as starting points for building relationships and that it is from there we move out but why that move outward can only be done by being in a school context from as early an age as possible confuses me. Just as they are learning all sorts of other basic skills they are not mature enough to necessarily make wise judgement calls in friendship forming. There will be plenty of time when they are older when they will be out making their own friends and relationships and I want to give them a good grounding in what good, healthy friendships are. And rarely do I get the sense that that is the answer people want when they ask the question. I am not saying that that cannot be done through children going to school and yes my own experience of school days no doubt impacts my perspective on this but we made the choice together to home educate and Mark has a positive recollection of school days in contrast. Teaching about relationships can happen in school and parents can train their children as well, just as leaning to be relational with others can happen through being home educated. My brother and sister in law have sent their girls to school but have been very intentional in getting to know the families of the friends their girls have made and been creative in this with ideas we hope to incorporate with our children as they grow and another family we know intentional chose the home they bought so it would be a place with enough space for their boys and their friends to spend time and her shopping also reflects that their home can be overflowing with a number of teenagers. Either way there needs to be an intentionality to know who our children are building relationships with at any age. I don’t think this paragraph is perfect, I am writing with my own blinkers, I am not trying to be divisive but I have reworked it so many times I am going to let it stand as it is.
Its been the week its been. No great highs, no eureka moments, but we are not who we were a week ago. We have all learnt lessons, all been challenged, we have had to go back to the drawing board to work out what needs adjusting to make the week flow for all of us. We have laughed, we have read, we have had moments to live out loving others, we have had to say sorry to each other and forgive each other. We have needed God’s grace and because of it we have kept putting one foot in front of another.