For the first time since we have started homeschooling there is no schedule printed and hung in multiple location around the house. In truth, I never felt the need to stick closely to the schedule, but it stressed me out occasionally anyway.
The idea of routine verse schedule has always resonated with me. From the time my first newborn was in my arms it made sense to follow a routine...not a schedule, not watching the clock ... not forcing what is often natural. From breastfeeding to nap times, we followed the natural rhythms of our children and gently helped them establish routines. We never became slaves to the clock. I refused to tell a crying baby it wasn't time to eat yet. We did what we could to establish consistency and amazingly every one of my three children settled into predictable patterns of routine. When growth spurts, teething, or the phases of the moon messed with those routines...we went with it. Routine...gentle, natural, and flexible.
This school year we have no schedule. No spread sheet, no color coded table...<gasp> I know. Shocking isn't it! At first I thought I needed those things-- even if I never followed them before-just knowing they were there made me feel efficient. I am the kind of person that makes the too do list and then never looks at it again...
Amazingly, we are about to start our seventh week of school and having the smoothest days we have ever had.(well...excluding this past week!) All without a schedule.
Routine. Loving it!
"It's the relationship silly" is one of the concepts of the Brave Writer lifestyle that called to my soul. My children are the reason I do what I do. They are so much more than teaching styles or curricula. They are precious little people who God has created for a purpose. Looking back on the first few years of my oldest daughters life I have so many regrets. Always looking for the next step or milestone. Unintentionally wasting precious moments of little. I spent way too much of our first homeschool year pushing my daughter to finish the lesson plans for that day. Or "catch up" to where we were "supposed to be."
It has been a long time since I changed that in our homeschool...but even still one of my kids will occasionally ask the question that now makes me cringe: "Are we behind?" No matter how many times I tell them we can't be behind...we set the pace. As long as we are diligent we are fine...my sins of the past linger and cause the kids to question an otherwise perfectly engaged homeschool day.
This past week, with a crazy weekend, no school on Monday, and a few rough days...it was time to break the routine for the sake of the relationship. Friday became beach day with Grandma. Sun, sandcastles, and smiles were just the thing to break the downhill spiral we were on and restore us to the place where we like each other again. Monday will be so much better for it! And I am sure I will sometime in the future have to assure my children that no, our day at the beach did not put us "behind."
Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. As is parenting. We want them to like us when they move out. No, I am not advocating being their best friend and not the parents we need to be...and I am not advocating anything less than our bests, but I am advocating elevating the relationships above the tasks. When math brings tears...break out the tea pot...(or a smoothie).