Hey, planning parents (waves)! Don’t you just love the process of planning for the next school year? The activities, the crafts, the projects, the copywork! And do you ever look back over those carefully crafted plans and think, “When are we ever going to have the time to do all this?”
Or maybe you are still in that hazy-headed place where all plans are perfect and every day of the next year will hold happiness in the palm of its hand because you did it ALL.
Well, I don’t want to burst the beautiful bubble you have fashioned for yourself and your family…
but this is real life.
And real life is a bit more complicated than any lesson plan can parse.
This is our second time through Cycle 2 for Classical Conversations. And this time, I am really…no really, planning what we are going to actually do.
And it may surprise you to know that it is super simple!
History is my jam. I was a church history major in college. My favorite all-time teachers, the ones who impacted me the most, taught me history. Impressed upon my heart and mind, I can still see Mrs. Berry (10th grade World History) standing at the front of class, speaking like Demosthenes. I can still remember my 8th grade American History teacher’s impressive display of Civil War artifacts.
As I tend toward history and literature or language learning, it was easy in our early years to attempt to make the Classical Conversations history sentences come alive to my student(s) by simple activities. In those early days, we did very little extra. but most of the time the extra would be history. We wrote better than Charlemagne; held spontaneous coronation ceremonies; “nailed” pretend 95 Theses to the wall; visited a building with a Magna Carta mural; went on a presidental tour around town; and on and on.
Then, as we began to practice a bit more of a Charlotte Mason approach to our education, we practiced the arts of noticing, attending, and storytelling as we read living history books about the characters who dotted our Classical Conversations Timeline and history sentences. Often, we stopped to sing snippets of the Timeline song or a history sentence related to what we had just read.
All that I considered simple, not because it was easy (because it was) but because it was natural. It was borne out of my natural love of history. I suspect other parents would just as easily and naturally add to the sciences or math.
I started creating these simple Gathering placemats for our morning time. We call it Gathering simply because my invitation to begin our family’s special time is, “Gather ’round!”
Our Gathering was super simple in the beginning. It included Bible time, singing, and poetry. And honestly, that is all we had time for.
I knew there were so many more riches I wanted to share with my precious little learners.
BUT we never seemed to get around to the beautiful art I wanted to show my kids. Rarely, we got to create our own art together. We never had time to just have simple conversations about little things. And we didn’t spend time delighting in the little bits of our day…until we sat around the kitchen island at meal times and snack times.
You know those things you do in your daily routine that make you feel like you are pretty smart? They are usually the solutions you happened upon after banging your head against a wall (problem) for a while. Or maybe they are the things that you thought of the moment you laid eyes on an object (cue lights and music) – and you instantly saw a solution.
Maybe it is pride…well, yes it is pride, but I glory in those solutions. I just love when I find something that makes me feel like a genius. When something makes life just one tiny measure easier. (How does one measure ease anyway?)
Our homeschool is dotted with solutions such as these. They are little genius-level hacks that make me delight in the doing of our daily tasks. And honestly, until I mentioned them to other moms, I thought they were so mundane that everyone was doing them. Turns out they aren’t that common.
As humans we are proud of truly odd things about ourselves. We find odd ways to congratulate ourselves for a job well done, no matter the strangeness of the job. It starts when we are young. Our little selves pull a shirt over our heads and push our arms through the sleeves and we celebrate as “Big Kids!!”
It just continues from there.
I am no different in this celebration of the mundane. In fact, as I was preparing to make myself a cup of coffee this morning, I congratulated myself on my brilliance.
Here’s a funny story about the geography memory work for Clasical Conversations. I will tell you the moral of the story ahead of the story: simple doesn’t mean nothing.
Our first year of CC we didn’t do much. I had a 5 year old, a 4 year old, a 1 year old (and found out about baby #4 in January). Oh, and there was a hike – literally. Every week, when we went to Community Day, we drove an hour, got everyone piled out of the car and hiked downhill to the classroom. I didn’t really have much energy for more than just listening to the memory work. So, most of the time, that is what we did. We listened in the car every week, for an hour. And we would add a bit here and there.