Entering into a new school year with COVID in the mix doesn’t have to be daunting. Will it look different? Yes. Do we have to allow it to unnerve us? No. I know there are new routines and trials ahead whether you already homeschooled or are now schooling at home while you try to hold down a job or you are a stay at home mom that just doesn’t feel equipped to also be a teacher. I want to give you a bit of encouragement and some resources today that are helping to prepare me as I enter into this school year.
1. I HAVE BEEN READING GOOD BOOKS. I homeschool for those of you that don’t know. Each summer I gather a reading list that will help me give my children a healthy, enjoyable childhood and a good education. These two components really go hand in hand. I chose books that will give me a good lens on the year ahead. Here are the books I’ve read this summer. It’s not too late for you to start them now for some inspiration as you start the school year. (The first two are on audible and all 3 are available in many online retailers.)
There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather by Linda McGurk (Ya'll know I am passionate about getting my kids outdoors and since I have Sweedish roots this book had me at hello.)
A lively, insightful memoir about a mother who sets out to discover if the nature-centric parenting philosophy of her native Scandinavia holds the key to healthier, happier lives for her American children. Struggling to fit in and to decide what was best for her children, McGurk turned to her own childhood for answers. Could the Scandinavian philosophy of “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” be the key to better lives for her American children? And how would her children’s relationships with nature change by introducing them to Scandinavian concepts like friluftsliv (“open-air living”) and hygge (the coziness and the simple pleasures of home)? McGurk embarked on a six-month-long journey to Sweden to find out. There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather is a fascinating personal narrative that highlights the importance of spending time outdoors, and illustrates how the Scandinavian culture could hold the key to raising healthier, resilient, and confident children in America.
In Vital Harmony: Charlotte Mason and the Natural Laws of Education (This is the philospohy behind how I homeschool. This book covers the 10 principles in a simple but comprehensive way.)
Charlotte Mason looked at the world and saw that it was governed by universal laws, such as the law of gravity. Then she wondered. What if there were similar laws that governed the way people learn? If we knew what those laws were, we’d be able to pursue education along the most promising lines .
She devoted her life to finding the key principles of education and then developing methods to make the most of them. The result is a comprehensive picture of living and learning that breathes life into education at every level—from babyhood to the adult years. It’s not a rote system, but a flexible set of ideas that keep education in focus.
These principles are for everyone concerned with teaching and learning. They are no more difficult to implement than the principle of gravity which allows you to walk, run, and even--when you know what you are doing--to soar.
Know and Tell by Karen Glass (This method raised my daughter’s Lexile score over 200 points in 6 months. This book is helping me take it to the next level.)
The art of telling, has been used as a pedagogical tool since ancient times. Over one hundred years ago, Charlotte Mason methodized narration and implemented it in scores of schools in Great Britain. Over the past few decades, educators in the US, mostly in home schools, have followed her guidelines with outstanding results.
This book discusses the theory behind the use of narration and then walks through the process from beginning to end, to show how simply "telling" is the foundation for higher-level thinking and writing.
2. I HAVE SET UP MY HOME THE BEST I CAN FOR THE SCHOOL YEAR. I have been decluttering (or trying the best I can in our two bedroom townhome) so that we can focus on work in open cozy minimalist places in our home. The kids each have a small bookshelf holding their books for the year. They have beanbag chairs and a hammock under the loft bed for reading nooks. I have shelves in the closet holding games and kits that complement their curriculum. The garage is deemed the “art studio”. We have painted a large blackboard on the wall where I will do some instruction and we can do learning there when inside the home gets stale. They have a table in the art studio and a closet and drawers full of art supplies they have free rein to use at will. There is a small basket of books by the fireplace and a record player in the living room, next to it is a bin of the kids favorite records and some new ones I want them to give a try. Our home is set up to create many opportunities for me to redirect the kids to keep busy when I need to work.
3. I HAVE STARTED SECRETLY PREPPING MY KIDS. Speaking of redirecting I have secretly been prepping my kids for the school year ahead. The lazy summer days are getting tucked away and replaced by a bit of structure, this takes a shift. For the last two weeks I have been making it a point to give my children tasks they have to do on their own…quietly. Build a bridge with Legos. Write a list of items you want for the school year and send me Office Depot links. Go find an art project to do in the garage on your own. Wash your bike. Bake something for dessert. Read a book. Color me a picture. These “do alone” activities are helping to train their brains to work quietly and independently on projects.
Secret prep # 2: I am starting school a week earlier than we must. I school partnered with a public charter. This means we are technically part of the public-school system, but I am still the teacher. We meet with an educational facilitator once a month for support and to make sure we are meeting standards and they provide funds for educational materials and classes that meet physical fitness needs and things I can’t teach like music and foreign languages. They won’t buy the faith-based materials I use but I don’t mind paying out of pocket for those. I thought you may be interested to know a bit about Charters, but my point was this. School for Charters start a week after public school. We really have another week of summer if we want to but I had it in my mind that we were starting on the public school schedule and so I am going to stick with that and ease into our school year. I am going to give us two weeks to finish one week of curriculum. This will allow us to enjoy digging into all the new books and tackle new schedules and disciplines in a gentler way.
What are you doing to prepare yourself for the school year? I’d love to hear your tips too!
I'm just a girl, standing before my God, knowing that He loves me and wanting others to know that love too.