We seem to have found a "school" rhythm that feels right for us, for now. We spend 2-3 hours each morning working on various lessons at home. This can easily be done in two hours and often it is, but three hours allows for a pretty leisurely pace. So much happens during this time, I am continuously amazed. I have a work schedule (tough word) written up and Emily can choose work in any order she desires. She has a binder that I keep loaded with any "work" related to each lesson, though much of what we do is interactive and involves a lot of reading aloud and discussion, exchanging ideas and learning from one another as we go. As Emily moves through her work choices, she checks them off as completed, which for her is very satisfying. She's quite self directed by nature and manages her time well allowing this system to work for us. I try not to put too much stock in this morning routine however. I am quickly learning how the richness of it all, the lessons that will stay with her for a lifetime and develop her further as an inquisitive learner in life, are the things that happen after we leave our work table and let her current interests direct the remainder of the day.
My friend Linda of Journey Seeds has been a wonderful mentor for me lately. Her daughter Emma, also a friend, was unschooled and is grown now but they have a unique bond as a family and I sense they will spend a lifetime learning together. I asked her recently about rhythm/routine and one of the things she told me was that often she would say to Emma "what would you like to do tomorrow?", and Emma's response would be the foundation of Linda's vision for how the following day would unfold. I shared this idea with Adam and he admired the simplicity and importance of this concept. I'm a little embarrassed to say that I have never thought of this exactly, but I suppose therein lies the importance of a good mentor; a person willing to pass down a tradition and the wisdom tied to it as well. Thank you Linda, for my first homeschool lesson. Here's how I put your sage advice to work...
The other day I asked Emily how she wanted to spend the following afternoon. She asked to go for a hike on a trail that we had recently learned about and had not yet explored.
We set off for the trail. I had loaded my backpack with a few various nature drawing and identification books, two drawing pads, and colored pencils, along with plenty of h2o and sesame sticks. She had no idea about the the art supplies I was toting, I figured a surprise would be fun.
Eventually, I shared that I brought an activity she might be interested in and would she like to check it out. I pulled out the supplies and told her I had this idea that we could take a few minutes to soak in our environment, be inspired, and draw what we see. It could either be a scene of what was before us, or a close up study of little bits of nature found on the forest floor. She was totally down with this idea and jumped right in. We chatted, and sketched, shared snacks and favored colors in the pencil box, and completely lost track of time.
After some time of drawing what we "saw," I made a second suggestion. "What if we complete our drawings using our imagination as the guide, forgetting what we see?" She was open to this idea as well and filled in her close-up botanical study with butterflies and tulips, as for me and my forest landscape, I added a camping scene. Same place, same materials, totally different results, both authentic.
Emily already held the seed, just needed a place for it to grow. Thanks Linda.