Saturday, August 6, 2011

Breathe...

I am loving this slower pace of our summer break.  Since I have been considering how to integrate some "unschooling" principles with our need for at least some structure (the four boys become bored and argumentative if left completely to their own devices), I have become more aware of how learning has continued in our home, and what areas tend to be neglected.



.  What I am enjoying in particular is this new sensation of facing the coming school year without the  tremendous anxiety I usually feel.  I am breathing easy, realizing that I am not trying to accomplish so-and-so much in a school year, but in my children's school years.  And I am paying more attention to what gets the kids all fired up with enthusiasm, and seeing how I can turn these sparks into paths of learning.

 This new (for me) take on learning requires more observation on my part, a greater willingness to let my kids be who they are and not who I wish them to be, and a whole lot of surrender to and trust in God.  He knows me, and He knows my children.  It is He who has planted the seeds of gifts within them, and my job is only to take note of where they lie and then tend them lovingly.  The flip side of this is that in recognizing and nurturing their talents, I must also recognize and nurture my own.

I have been thinking about the way I have tried to school in the past.  I was always so in awe of those mothers who could plan and log and schedule away, and whose homes seemed to run like well-oiled engines. They are so dedicated to schooling, and so gifted in the area of organization, and they have made it their passion.  I tried to do that myself, and it always seemed to leave me feeling crabby, exhausted and resentful; in short, I felt completely inadequate for the task at hand, namely, that of educating my kids.


I have come to realize two things about myself in the last few months: first, that I am an introvert.  As much as I enjoy people and good conversation, I find that time by myself is absolutely necessary for me to maintain a level  of functional sanity in my life. I have always made a point of getting up before everyone in the house so that I can have time to be alone.  Second, I have a creative thirst that needs quenching regularly, if not daily, in order for me to feel contented.

Actually, I was well aware of these needs of mine; it is only that I felt that in order to be a good and successful home-schooling mother, I had to make educating the children and keeping a home an act of complete self-oblation, a martyrdom of sorts.  But completely setting aside the interests and talents God gave me made me feel resentful and angry, and this was then compounded by the guilt I felt for feeling resentful and angry.

What I have come to realize, in part due to the book A Little Way of Homeschooling, the praises of which I have been singing quite a lot lately, is that although God does want us to give ourselves totally and completely to Him and wants us to put the needs of others before our own, He means for us to do so only to the point where we can still do it with charity.  It is not gift to God nor to our families if we give grudgingly and with sour faces.  We are not truly giving if we are counting the cost.  We are not truly giving if we make everyone around us miserable with our "gift".

Education at home has, at its heart, the family.  And a family consists of more than just the children.  Everyone's needs must be considered and looked after, and that does not exclude the mother.  A happy, contented mother will spread contentment throughout her home.

I no longer am looking at my needs as self-centered, but as facets cut into my personality by God Himself.  They are not selfish interests or desires to be battled and overcome, but--as they are not sinful attachments--parts of me which can allow the Creator to shine through, reflections of His own inexhaustible goodness and creativity.
So, although school has officially stopped for the month of August, the learning goes on in ways I may not have recognized if not for my newly found understanding of what unschooling is.  Una is working on her story Magic and Monsters and is looking forward to taking up the National Novel Writing Month challenge in November.  She and I are also working on things to enter in a local art exhibit in September, and joining Linda's Sending Love Heart Swap.  Sebastian is designing a board game and all the children are working on a play on and off.  Other than that, we are just enjoying a bit of laziness.  And breathing easy.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I am so glad that this book has blessed you. Nadja, I could have written nearly every word of this post myself. We have our differences, obviously, (I don't knit :)) but I think in many ways we are very much alike. May God bless you all! +JMJ+

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  2. Nadja,
    Your thoughts on home education in this post really struck a chord with me; I had tears in my eyes as I read where you've been ("I was always so in awe of those mothers who could plan . . . educating my kids") and where you are currently on your journey ("But completely setting aside the interests and talents God gave me made me feel resentful and angry . . .).

    As a 48-yr.-old mother of six, I feel as if I can so relate to the feelings you're experiencing--you put it into words for me! I have not yet read the book "A Little Way of Homeschooling," but you've inspired me to do so. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It has given me some very good food for thought.

    Mary

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