Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Holy Scholé, Batman! (Having a High Schooler in your Homeschool)

I started watching Christopher Perrin's webinars (now video series which can be found here) on the principles of classical education way back in the summer of 2013. We were still unpacking from our recent move, and I was just a couple months pregnant with baby number five. I loved the webinars enough that I made time for them throughout the school year, even after Beatrice was born. It was among these webinars that I found out about Teaching from Rest. I immediately bought the ebook and quickly devoured it.

During the summer of 2014, it was easy to muse upon scholé--the principle of learning while in a state of rest (I also like to think of it as contemplative learning). We finished up our school year in July and had an eight week break. I read, prayed, and took long walks. It was a happy, carefree time.

With our oldest child entering high school, we decided to enroll with Mother of Divine Grace School. We were excited and so ready to plunge into the new school year! We loved, loved, loved the curriculum for all of our kids! Teaching four different grades, from ninth to second, seemed far more doable with the help and guidance of MODG.

Aaaaand to be honest I can't imagine attempting the last year without MODG, because it's been a whirlwind and a half!

Baby gates--essential for chaos management.
It's more of a challenge to practice scholé when you are accountable to someone else with deadlines and such. I think the weight of high school work also makes it easy to become anxious and lose sight of the beauty of learning. However, I've found that it's worth taking a step back and breathing deeply. It's worth it to remember the truly important things about raising children and teaching them, keeping the curriculum in its proper place as a tool rather than as a taskmaster.

Math in art.

Not only are we enrolled in MODG, but we are also enrolled in a Connect With History co-op which meets weekly. It was a crazy thing to do, but the co-op has been marvelous for our family. It took me months to figure out how to balance co-op and MODG without burning out, but it's finally coming together.

I appreciate Teaching from Rest because it contains so much what I've found to be true. I love Perrin's video series because the principles are not only good for education but for life in general! So although the school year isn't done, these are the things that I've found (whether through the book, videos, or just plain ole life experience) are imperative for keeping scholé in our homeschool, even with the demands of a high school curriculum, co-op, and all the usual stuff of life:

1. Keep praying! Don't let go of daily Bible reading and prayer just to make more room in your day for schoolwork. It really does make a difference. It doesn't make your day magically good, but it does help you overcome the bad ones.

2. Don't do it all. Do what needs to be done, but don't make everything a need. I knew this was true for the lower grades, but this is also true for the upper grades. Your teens need time to think, to socialize, and to do things in the community. I have to remind myself that our goal as parents is a healthy, happy adult, not a depressed, stressed genius.

3. Integrate as much as you can. Homeschool and compartmentalization go together like oil and water. Combining subjects (ie, history and literature) and curricula (ie, the science and writing at co-op fulfill the science and writing requirements of MODG) is far better for your sanity and your kids' well-being than making every subject its own little island of work.

4. Roll with the season you're in. If you have a baby, this is an awesome thing! Okay, it's also tiring and mind boggling. But really, babies are only babies for a short while. If your household is hit with a season of sniffles and flu, don't stress about falling behind and don't work so hard to catch up that everyone gets sick again (been there, done that!). Seasons come and go. Carry on in a steady manner when you can, and you will make progress. Becoming fretful or frantic will send you into a tailspin and then you'll get nothing done (been there, done that, too!).

Of course none of the above will work if you're a perfectionist. Over the years, I've decided the best thing in life to be is a realist, but one with lots of love and hope. It's okay to have school days that end after dinner because you didn't get started until noon because one of the kids woke up vomiting. It's okay to have spring fever and go to the park because everyone was cooped up all winter and can't concentrate on anything but sunshine. It really is all right to let the toddler pull out all the wipes out of the pop up container if only it gives you a chance to discuss Athens and Sparta with your ninth grader. And the list goes on and on and on . . . raising human beings is messy, loving them is messier, and teaching them at home is about as messy as it could possibly get.

The flip side of teaching from rest is that some days you'll have to be hard nosed about getting things done--this is just life. Days of little fun and a lot of work are not an abdication to a scholé-less education, which is something I have to keep in mind often. A moment, a day, or a week do not define our homeschool. Little moments add up, but when we keep the big picture in mind, everything often falls into place.

Visiting a university.

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