Category Archives: Virtue

We’ll Never Cover It All, and I Will Lose My Mind Trying

Are you like me?
Do you fear that you won’t cover all you need to?
Are you concerned you’ll leave out some major field of study and your children will be academically crippled by it?
Do you find that when behaviors, or concerns or fears or sickness or visiting relatives or friends that just gave birth and need a meal, or a toddler that is is clingy,

cause you to lose your marbles?

Is a disruption in the schedule or plan the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back- and that camel is YOU?

I feel you.
I do.

 When I first taught in a beautiful little private school in San Bernardino, CA, my boss and mentor was a wise woman and very adept in teaching teachers.

There are countless bits of advice that I, a young woman with no children of my own and little life experience, treasured.

One of those, that I continually remind myself of and share as often as I can, went something like this:

“If all of September and even much of October is spent training your students to listen carefully and obey quickly and fully, I am confident that the remaining months will be more productive with that training than they would be if you solely concern yourself with plowing through academic content.”

She suggested I teach the students to walk in a set traffic pattern though the room, train them when and how to sharpen pencils, throw away garbage, get in line quickly and in an orderly fashion, turn in papers in the same way each session and day, how to respond if I said “attention class!” or “please stand!” or “earthquake!” or how to be courteous, greet visitors, be helpful and do the weekly duties efficiently and well.

So I did.

And it did take a lot of my focus for the first month and a half.  When we got out of practice, we had “boot camp” again.

And in all the in-between times- we had order[mostly]. We knew what to expect, [mostly]. We had effective steady teaching and learning periods without distraction or interruption. We used nice manners and got along pretty well.  And we learned a LOT. We covered a LOT of academic ground.  They all did spectacularly on their testing! They all learned to read and add and subtract and tell time! They even started tying shoes and blowing noses and using sign language! It all fell into place. It all got covered, and I didn’t lose my mind trying. [I did get grey hairs that first year, but…that’s another story]

Virtues, habits, and rhythms paved a way for MORE. BETTER. DEEPER. SIMPLER. RICHER.

Home education is very different.
I wouldn’t recommend trainmen your children to walk in a traffic pattern through the house, or jump when you say “please stand”. [although that almost sounds heavenly, in a way ;-)]

and, as far as classically educating my children at home goes,

I am no pro.

I am still having light bulb moments and eye-opening scenarios, reading sessions on home education and classical methods [pedagogies] that resonate and inspire like brand new information.

But I do know that what she said applies to us at home, as well, and I long to appeal to all that are:
fearful …
placing character training, or snuggles [on just the right days] or other people in need ahead of the schedule, curriculum plan, whatever it may be called…

We get till about 12 years old to train in honoring God, respecting parents and elders.

We get till about then to light a fire in their hearts,
 marvel in wonder at inch worms, 
find the fibonacci sequence in pine cones and flowers, then decorate the spirals with glitter glue
We get till about then to snuggle in bed for an hour reading a great story of brave adventuring rabbits that fight bravely and hold to a noble cause. 
We get until then to drop everything to hula hoop 
and climb trees 
and build lean-tos in the woods,
try making something “artistic”-even when we think we stink-

and dissect snakes, 
and bake muffins for the homeless shelter,
 and calculate how many gallons of rain water the roof produces in a good storm, 
or find eggs on the underbelly of a sand crab, 
and marvel at seed pods,
or learn embroidery, 
memorize oodles of poems because we can and its actually fun, 
write a play and build the set our of cardboard boxes and design the costumes from handed down goods, 
grow a 3′ square garden and tend it through harvest while using your worm farm composter under the sink, 
or sew stuffed animals for gifts, 
or hike at the nature center with a pack of friends and find all the scrub jays,

 acorn woodpeckers and coyote scat you can,
Brave the library,

or blast the music and dance like Baryshnikov 
or the Groovaloos, 
or sing like Pavarotti 
or Pharrell…

We just have so long…before bigger demands pull at that wonder, and that character, and that innocence, and affection. 

So what is we fill them up with it now- focus on it now- enjoy it all now- so it sticks and stays, so much is accomplished, so that rigor is welcomed, so that virtues are strong, so that a rhythm of grace and steadiness, and a leisurely enjoyment of the richness of all that God has is a treasure?

I am pretty certain you’ll find that:
in all the in-between times- there is some order.[mostly] You’ll know what to expect, [mostly]. You’ll have effective steady teaching and learning periods without huge distractions or interruptions, and if there are, you’ll keep your sanity and peace in it,  you may use nice manners and got along pretty well.  And learn a LOT. You’ll cover a LOT of academic ground. You’ll see them do spectacularly on their testing[if that’s your goal] They’ll all learn to read and add and subtract and tell time! They’ll even start tying shoes and blowing noses and maybe speak a new language! It’ll all fall into place.

It’ll get covered. and you won’t lose your mind trying.

Virtues, habits, and rhythms pave a way for MORE. BETTER. DEEPER. SIMPLER. RICHER.