There are days when I look around and think, “Yes. This is the learning life I’ve always wanted.”
Not that it’s a perfect life… but it’s a good one (and it’s taken me years to come to terms with the difference between the two).
Funny—I don’t find myself thinking this when we’re out doing “purposeful” homeschooling things like co-ops, special classes, etc.
Instead, I usually find those most joyous moments of the learning life when I least expect them.
When I first started homeschooling, I thought that I was supposed to fill our days with as many activities and learning opportunities as possible.
And while these are an integral part of our homeschooling, I can say with all honesty that I see them now as necessary evils instead of the ultimate goal.
These moments—the moments where we’re all hanging out and just exploring life together—these are the true treasure of homeschooling.
In homeschool learning, there exists a constant tension between being purposeful and making space for unplanned exploration. You know, riding bikes, playing with Play Dough, fighting imaginary pirates with sticks—all those glorious parts of childhood.
And days like today—when it’s noon and I’m sitting outside in my pjs watching my kids on their own individual adventures in our backyard—remind me that not everything has to be scheduled, regulated and checked off a list in order for it to have “purpose.”
Unscheduled Time… On Purpose
Free, open space in our schedule is not just a nicety, but an incredibly important aspect of homeschooling.
Even as I’m thinking about the new school year this fall (and mulling through what we will and won’t commit ourselves to), I’m reminding myself that even a seemingly “better” homeschool learning option may not be better if it causes a ton more stress, running around, and the potential for strained relationships.
Balance. Space. Margin. These must be in place for lasting joy to thrive in the everyday.
Dr. Richard A. Swenson has some great things to say about margin in these books:
Yes there are times when we must commit ourselves to necessary activities, even if it means a more stressful, survival mode schedule (we went through a grueling season like that last year).
But I’m not comfortable with that being the norm.
I think it starts with being wise with what we commit ourselves to, and then learning to live in the moment.
We Are More Than Machinery
However, I’m realizing again that a child’s education is so much more than bookwork and the right activities. We must give our kids time to dream, to explore and to discover.
These are the essences of being human—of being more than just a machine.
Our kids have the image of God himself imprinted on their hearts! Is God only about going and doing? Is he not a God who enjoys and revels in His creation? A God found in the simple pleasures of the world around us and in the joy of close relationships?
Why else would He have created such an intricately beautiful world–and given us five senses to experience it? Why else would He have given us each other but to enjoy fellowship?
And why else would He have chosen to sacrifice His Son so as to be in communion with us?
He is a God of purpose, of plan and of action.
But, oh friends, He is also a God of deep relationships, of the brightest colors and of the wonderfully earthy smells that follows a rainstorm.
And as parents, we get to introduce our children to this magnificently full picture of what it means to really live. We have the privilege of experiencing–right beside them–every aspect of this life beyond the hustle, the rush and the to-dos.
Having Everything… and Yet Having Nothing
We can have our kids in every activity, in the “correct” curriculums, and be completely missing the fullest aspects of the learning life.
If we’re not careful, we can have everything… and yet have nothing.
Life… that’s what we need to make sure we include in our homeschooling. All parts of it: the persevering parts, and the resting parts.
As we close one school year and begin thinking about what life will look like in the fall, can I challenge you to ponder these thoughts?
Can I encourage you to consider potentially saying no to something that might be good in order for your family to experience something great in those unplanned moments?
I’ll be prayerfully asking myself those questions right beside you!
Let’s strive to give our kids–and ourselves–this full-yet-simple picture of the glorious homeschooling life!
Other Related Posts:
What aspects of your homeschool day do you and your kids find most enjoyable?
What activities or mindsets do you find give you the greatest reward as being a homeschooling mom?
And what small shifts can you make to incorporate these into your regular learning life?
Let’s share together in the comments below!