Interrupting Creativity for “Real” School

interrupting_creativity_for_real_schoolI should interrupt, really I should. At least that is what I keep telling myself. We were supposed to start our learning day over twenty minutes ago. Yet here we are, the girls working on completely different artistic endeavors all while my son is working off his excess energy from breakfast. I pace back and forth, asking myself this important question, “Should I interrupt creativity for ‘real’ school?”

Let’s face it, those arithmetic lessons do need to be done. At some time. The question is when. I’m looking for an easy answer. Here we go… When the Lord leads. There we have it. But, easier said than done.

My OCD, get-it-done-and-out-of-the-way nature wants to interrupt. My desire is for them to complete that list of tasks I’ve set before them so I can feel secure in my teaching and parenting. No one is going to say we haven’t finished our learning or that we’re behind. No sir! Plus, aren’t I supposed to be teaching my children the value of work ethic; showing up on time, completing tasks in a timely manner, and all that jazz? (sigh)

I’m sure this is a dilemma I am not the first to face. Nor will I be the last. It’s a struggle to find balance between what needs to be done and when it should be done. It’s all too easy to allow tasks to control our day and overlook the beauty of each moment.

Perhaps what I need to be asking myself is, “Might this be what ‘real’ learning looks like?”

Instead of focusing on being behind, and that list of to-do’s waiting for us, maybe God has a bigger plan. What if He is using this moment to reach my children’s hearts, and doing a work in them? It might be that this project is bringing peace to my child, opening their minds to receive when formal learning begins. I do know one thing for certain. If I carelessly interrupt this moment with shouts of frustration and commands to get a move-on, I risk losing a teachable moment for good.

The truth of the matter is, at some point, they are, indeed, going to need to tackle that arithmetic work. I’ll wrangle them to the table and ask them to knuckle down. Just not yet. And when I do, instead of shouts, I’ll gently pat them on the heads or kiss their ruffled hair and remind them we need to get started soon. I’ll give them a moment to adjust their minds and hearts, commending their hard work and rejoicing in their creativity. Then, we’ll work through those lessons which build them in other ways.

As for teaching them proper work ethic and timely deadlines? Occasional moments taken to explore creativity are not going to ruin them. They see deadlines lived daily, both through their father’s work and homeschool opportunities. Work ethic is a way of life. If anything, it is these moments our children need most. The understanding that life is not all about pushing papers. It’s about embracing each moment and giving it to God.

I’ve got this down, right? Never again will I stress over starting on time and finishing X number of pages. (ahem) I wish. No, the bug still bites. But, I am inspired to give this area of our learning over to God. My desire is to finish. If that is also God’s desire… awesome! More importantly, God’s will needs to take precedence. If that means book work, that’s fine. If not, that’s okay, too!

May we stress less about what our learning looks like to the world, and even ourselves; focusing more on hearing God’s call in our day. When He directs our learning, we can never go wrong.

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning,…”
~ Proverbs 1:5a

Your Turn!: We talk about our children being creative, but are you inspired to be artistic?

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Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Today we returned to our “regularly scheduled program”; meaning school. Books were pulled out of the homeschool cupboard, pencils were sharpened, and lessons were learned.

For some, the first day of school can be a little bit overwhelming and sometimes even scary! Over the years, there are a couple of tips I have incorporated into our routine to make this first week run more smoothly.

I start the day a little earlier than our kids. Once my kids are up, it feels like the starting line at the Olympics, “And their off!” Getting up even a half an hour earlier than my kids, allows me time to take things easy and enjoy a cup of coffee before madness begins.

I pray, pray, pray. I want to make sure that the Lord is the center of our day. Starting the day off with prayer sets the right pace and tone for our home.

I make sure I read my Bible. Praying is important, talking to God always is, but I want to make sure I am hearing from him as well. Whether from a devotional or reading straight from the Word, I want to make sure I get in some good reading time.

I wake my babies with a cheerful “good morning” and a silly song. I try to wake the kids with something light and cheerful. This helps all of us look at the day in a good light. I usually walk in singing, “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!” They laugh, half asleep, and beg for five more minutes. This is usually met with a swift “nope” from me and a quick announcement. They are told they get one hour to get dressed, clean their room, eat, and  be ready to learn.

We start our learning with Bible time. Once the kids are finished with their morning routine, we gather at the kitchen table and tackle the most important subject together as a team. This sets the mood for the rest of their learning.

We start off nice and easy. The first week of school, I try to keep things nice and light. The work is mostly all review, with very few pages to be completed. This eases the kids back into a more formal routine and affords me the time and opportunity to readjust as needed.

We don’t cover all subjects on the first day. Jumping into more formal work can be a daunting task. Going from an easy summer load to a full fall load, all in one day, is like going from 0 to 60 in about 2.5 seconds; I prefer to ease them into it.

The first day of school, we cover just the basics; penmanship, spelling, language arts, oral reading, and “rotations”. Because of our curriculum layout, we won’t even start arithmetic until Thursday! Unit studies and Spanish will not begin until next week.

Starting off “light” gives me an opportunity to monitor how much time those first subjects are taking and adjust accordingly. It also means I have an opportunity to work around our chores and see if our routine is working for us.

We finish the day early. The first week back to school, I want to make sure they aren’t sitting at the table all day long. We try to take a few breaks in-between subjects and we try to finish up our learning time around 2p.m. With plenty of breaks and free time, the kids are less likely to complain about the return of a formal routine and they grow accustomed to longer periods of learning.

With all of these tips to help us out, our return to learning went fairly well. There were a few hiccups, but we will work those out. With much prayer and patience, we are getting back into our routine.

What tips help you make “back to school” more easy? I would love to learn how you “return to your regularly scheduled program”!

The Last-Minute Rush

The end of the week is here and we are ready to tackle our two final projects before starting school… printing and library!

Imagine waking up to start school; everyone is at the table ready to go. You pull out your books, ready to begin. You pray, you open up your Bible, and then… you remember that you forgot to print out the lesson you prepared! Rrrrrr….

In order to avoid this annoyance, I make sure to set aside at least a half an hour every Friday to do nothing but print any documents that I might need for school in the coming week. This will save from last-minute rushing on Monday morning and afford me the opportunity to double-check anything that might be needed.

As we are starting on Monday, this morning I made sure to do just that. Any worksheets for Spanish, Bible, and our unit study are now ready to go. I have proofread them one last time, printed them, and tucked them into their corresponding books. Come Monday, I can relax; knowing that I am as fully prepared as I can be. 

Our other project is library time! Every Friday, I make sure we head to the library and get ourselves a stack of new books. The kids are allowed to pick their own reading materials and I have the opportunity to grab literature that pertains to our current unit study.

When we are at the library, I have made it clear that books are our goal. Our library features an activity booth and computer terminals, but that is not our purpose in being there. We have computers at home. We have games and activities at home, we can play when we return. Now, is the chance for them to delve into some good reads; the rest can wait. (Every once in a while, I do let them play at the activity booth but only after they have picked some good books first.)

Today is no exception! We are ready to head out to our library, grab some awesome reads, and then perhaps enjoy some ice cream. I can’t think of a better way to prepare for the coming year!

Off we go….