I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t do well with change. I don’t like the town’s new library because it is so huge and metropolitan and now I am just a number with a large fine and a lot of books that all to often seem to be reshelved before they are properly checked in. I would never be the one to think of fixing or improving something in our home since “it’s doing okay as it is, isn’t it?” I tend to shop at the same grocery store and walk the same aisles. Trying out new recipes stresses me out because, first of all, it’s going to take time to figure out where to get the ingredients and then someone is going to complain because kids do tend to be “plain Jane” eaters.
Even with the changing of the seasons, though I do look forward to the march from spring to summer to fall to winter and back again – I think that the variety in our weather is one of the wonderful parts of living in Canada – it stresses me out. It was only just last week that I finally got all of the winter coats and mittens out into the garage for “summer storage”. I love summer but there is the constant pull in different directions: I want to be outside in my yard, in my garden but I know that I need to spend a few minutes here and there at the computer. It’s great to get a break from the routines of the school year but then there always seems to be the absolute chaos of lost routines. (Is it only my kids that think that when there is a break from formal spelling lists and grammar lessons that the bathrooms will never get dirty and the dishes will wash themselves?)
As such it has been easy for me, over the past few years to keep at the same old same old in terms of school planning. It was comforting to know where we’d been and where we were going. But then, it also got a bit too routine. We got bored.
So this summer has been one of regrouping. Thinking, evaluating, really asking myself what went well and what needs changing. It has been a time of getting myself mentally ready for a walk down a different road. We need something fresh.
What is changing in our learning plan this year, you might ask? Nothing really and yet so much. We haven’t decided to put the kids in school or to pitch all of the carefully chosen resources that we’ve been using in favour of others. Rather, the change that we need is one of attitude, atmosphere. I’ve always claimed to enjoy reading and revered it as the way to knowledge. Like Ruth Beechick says, schooling can be reduced to two subjects: learning to read and reading about anything and everything. The thing is that we have reduced reading to a subject to tackle amidst all of the other busy work of assignments and curricula.
This year, I want to help to reignite the love of learning that we had but have more recently forgotten about. I want to make reading the central part of our learning time rather than an add-on that we tackle if we can get through everything else. This school year I want to go beyond the basics of knowledge through schooling and get into real wisdom through education.
We need to learn afresh that a proper education goes well beyond the stuffing full of knowledge to greater subjects like piety (knowing God) and morality (character training). We need to learn that real training for excellence is gained by learning to love our sisters, by practicing random acts of kindness, by loving God as more than just a subject in school.
This school year, though we aren’t blowing away all of our previous habits, we are looking forward to the winds of change as the seasons plod on and we plan around a new set of subjects: love for God, love for our family, love for others and love for learning.
I hope to share snippets of our learning plans with you as they continue to develop. For now, I’m just getting comfortable with the changes that we will be making – which will include time again for my old favourites like reading and handicrafts.
Looking forward to the start of a new school year!