A few weeks simplified
and a late winters homeschool mood board
We dialed our online learning and extracurriculars waaay back in January and February and things have just felt so much more relaxed around here, it’s delightful.
I am reminded how very little the homeschool thing is about what I originally claimed this newsletter would do: the apps, the books, the recipes. It’s not really about my ambitions for us, or even the things that do happen—the field trips, the books, the online classes. It’s about the conversations we have, the time we spend together, the way we see each other live our lives and pursuing meaning together.
As we struggle with some repetitive instruction on kind manners and answering adults nicely, I think, yet again, it does not come down to any curriculum: it’s the time and listening and the encouragement toward the things they need—in both education and life.
And boundaries, so many boundaries when living together, especially indoors for many hours! “Would you do that for me in 15 minutes?” “I can’t read that right now, I just sat down to read to myself, but how about in half an hour?” “Could everyone work to clean up until we can all be finished together?”
A late winters homeschool mood board
Late winter is just made for mood boards, is it not? This is a random collection that I don’t mostly have sources for, but I will annotate their significance:
1. Singing together; it’s the best.
2. How I feel when I paint (artist on Etsy)
3. The sunny, snowy days.
4. Collections & cardboard, image from creator.
5. Many things organized—it helps, doesn’t it?
6. Hand painted paper.
7. House details that see you.
8. The endless books…
9. Maple sugaring—a special time around here.
What homeschool these past weeks looked like…
At our classical conversations co-op, we exchanged valentines early because we are taking the next two weeks as a spring holiday. We mixed sheetrock into tempera paint to create thick, plaster-like paint, inspired by the paintings of Berthe Morisot.
The 7yr old has nearly finished her handwriting book. The 3yr old, eager to work alongside her sisters, writes her way through a write-n-wipe alphabet a few times a week.
The 11yr old read a snippet about spiders dreaming in a National Geographic magazine, and wrote it up as for her presentation at co-op that week.
The 9yr old is beginning the Keeper of the Lost Cities series and relishing them.
The 7yr old learned to make her favorite food—boxed mac and cheese—on her own! This came about as a result of me wanting the kids to make their own lunches and taking the time to show her how to do it as well as emphasize the points at which things were most dangerous. I’m encouraged by this progress.
I told myself I would spend an hour reorganizing the art/tv/work room and three hours later: it looked much better. Of course I can’t remember a single thing I threw away now, but it was a lot.
We started listening to The Castle in the Attic in the car. And read chapters from Story of the World: the Middle Ages aloud together.
Legos. So many legos.
Ways to document and experience nature in March
A gift item
The constant reader in our house is really enjoying selectively opening gifts from this collection after reading “A book larger than average” or “a historical novel.”
A New Podcast for Me
The Unschool Files. A podcast with a deep archive, all different kinds of unschooling approaches interviewed here. I’m always intrigued by the thing I’m not doing, so I look forward to learning from these.
The Recipes (winter edition)
Jenny’s excellent chicken pot pie
Jenny’s perfect cacio e pepe
And a quote for you
Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.
Most important, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking moment, dictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?
-Maria Popover on 16 Life-Learnings from 16 Years