Last year we made a change to our homeschool and have been attempting to follow the classical model by using Classical Conversations. Overall, it has been a great experience and we are all happy with the change. Surprisingly, our work load did not increase all that tremendously. In the years past, we were definitely more relaxed in our school days and we seemed to work harder to “get it all done”. That all stopped once we began CC last year. The boys and I are learning more and we are learning deeper. This method shows us how to retain without striving and working overwhelmingly hard.
That was until this year when we began Essentials. Essentials is an afternoon class that lasts 2 hours. The first hour we are learning English grammar, we drill math facts through games then the second hour is devoted to writing. The curriculum of choice is Institute For Excellence in Writing. My oldest son and I have been striving and plowing and working quite hard trying to develop our creative writing skills and learn the IEW method of writing. It. Has. Been. Difficult. I compare it to trudging through mud while wearing jeans and heavy boots. My mind gets all muddy, my palms become sweaty and unfortunately my tongue gets sharp.
That was until this past week when I took a meal to a new mom who happens to be a veteran homeschool mom who just so happens to be a former Essentials tutor and has had two children go completely through Essentials and one currently in the same class as my son. For those of you who know me, know that I do not believe in “happen stance” or coincidences or “it just so happens”. I believe that my steps are ordered by the Lord and even though I may plan my way, He directs my steps and I walk the path that He has planned out already for me. Don’t you just love when God shows you just how big He is in the middle of you doing a good deed for someone else? I love being led of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14)! OK, back on track now off of the rabbit trail…. Anyway, she asked my husband to sit down and visit with her after we placed her meal in the kitchen as her family was not ready to eat yet. As we sat and talked (and I’m not even sure how we got on the conversation) I opened up about my struggles with writing and my son’s struggle. She reminded me that I am the teacher and that I needed to slow down if we were not “getting it”. The classical model of education is about mastering. It’s not about seeing how much information you can get in and how fast you can memorize it. The classical model, according to Classical Conversations, is about learning and growing together. It’s about Mom learning the material and modeling the learning to her children. If mom isn’t getting it, neither are her children. (I liken it to “If momma ain’t happy than nobody’s happy.) She, as odd as it may sound, gave me permission to slow down. What does it matter if he doesn’t have all the dress ups that the check list says he “suppose” to have. What does it matter if they are there but he nor I have any idea what they mean or why they matter?
These past few months I have felt like I have been on a fast paced conveyor belt (have you ever seen that episode of I Love Lucy where she and Ethel are working in a chocolate factory and they are struggling to keep up with all the chocolate that is flying down the conveyor belt, with chocolate falling on the floor while they are stuffing the others in any nook and cranny in their clothing to keep them from hitting the floor? That is how I felt. Pieces were flying at us so quickly and they were hitting the floor without taking their proper place in our minds.) and that is not the education I want and definitely not the education that my husband and I want to offer to our boys. So we have slowed down this week. I found resources online to help him with his dress ups and they have helped him understand what they mean and why we need them. God is good all the time when we take the time to let Him speak to us.
Are you on a conveyor belt? Are you moving through your curriculum just so you can check it off your list? Are you moving your children through their math just because they are in 2nd grade and they “have” to be in 3rd grade math next year or are you taking the time to make sure they are understanding their work? And not just understanding but mastering it so they can teach someone else?
Are you willing to sacrifice time for mastery or do you just want to hurry and be done with it already?
As for me and our homeschool, we will take the time to master new skills and we will take the time to review previously learned skills so that we may “Know God and make Him known.” That is our purpose, that is our goal.
We are off the conveyor belt and are redeeming our time…