Loosing the Spark

In response to a candid email and some of the comments to my latest post, I decided to type something about homeschooling burn out, or loosing the spark, because, we too go through this often.

First thing that comes to mind it’s doing something for our own education as CM prescribed. And it happens that some of us are going to see Hamlet. A friend who is going to watch it asks if it’s based on actual historical events, and since I don’t know either, I’ll link to wikipedia and read later myself.

Two of my friends say their children’s lack of response to the feast that education is, their lack of feedback or retention, maybe the reason (or one reason) why they are loosing that spark. One friend says,
  But maybe this is just what daily faithfulness looks like–occasional sparks but mostly little steps forward?  
She had such an insight. At least, this is what homeschooling is for us. If you experience the opposite, (if your days are more continually filled with that spark, and only occasional burn outs), and you happen to be reading, won’t you please let us know. I’m not being sarcastic nor facetious, I’m humbly asking how do you do to retain the joy and not watering down or adulterating the feast and its rigors.
The same friend asks me for the changes I have done. I need to mention that, even with the things I have removed, and with school started in September, we are not finished with 6 weeks of the first term. This tells me I have surely not removed enough, and whatever is left, we will have to do it for longer. I also want to have two more terms, January through March, and April through June, and no matter what’s done in those two terms, we will stop the year and start fresh after planning, regrouping, and resting.
This friend is grateful for what she has. She does not forget to thank the Lord for all she has. I appreciate her thankful heart, her unconditional friendship, and her expressions of gratitude.
Next she tells me how the art study for the term has not been of their liking, but she believes this to be, in her words, a good learning experience,–to find the beauty in something that is not our inclination. I’ve lost count of how many times this is the case for us. You see?, I come from such a poor and malnourished life, that almost all that is not popular, easy, and mindless out there, comes through effort. This is what tires me and discourages me throughout the weeks, months, and terms, throughout life, that all that is beautiful, good, and true, is so foreign to us. My heritage does not make this any easier. As a christian and as a homeschooling mom, the effort not to conform but to walk towards the ideal that Christ is, that a rich education is, pays a toll. And the effort and pains are, in my case, always much more than the “results” I see in my girls. But I choose to dwell on those occasional sparks. That’s what I post on FB, those occasional sparks. And in private, to my husband, and to our Lord, I ask and I pray, “is this normal?. could I do something to welcome more joy?, should I continue pressing on?. should I cut more?, take longer?, keep on keeping on?”

Then comes a question about if there is time or no time for breaks after 6 weeks. And I read the comment of a friend who says that if we don’t stop some things at times, if we don’t make time for the park, nature, traditions, celebrations, visits, etc., the “other stuff” does not happen. I think, dear friend, you should keep those breaks and special times as moments to look forward, and work with the knowledge that those breaks will come. If you (though I’m talking about me), keep falling behind, you are again trying to chew more than you can eat. She also desires to do some poetry for the upcoming season, as well as some seasonal reads. That’s my plan, dear friend. I’m going to plan a holiday term, just because we have almost never had one. When the girls were younger, I used to do more of those holiday readings, and some spontaneous and joyful things such as watching a movie together, baking, writing our blessings on cut out leaves and hanging them, gingerbread houses, etc. But ever since we started our lesson years, the amount of things I wanted them to have (based on what I saw others do), started to be daunting. See?, I don’t know where to draw that line of how much to “cover”, or how long to “stretch it”. I know I have to teach my child, not a curriculum, but when we veer so much from the average path, I start doubting myself, and I put the blame on them, and ON ME.

I don’t have all the answers, I wish I could know how or what others do to solve this conundrum of not being able to have that nice feeling of completion and progress towards more responsibilities, more independence, more care and more expressions of this education’s fruits. I wish I knew how others do it to have children who respond so well to the feast (by being motivated, by loving and appreciating what they see, listen to, what they read). I speak from the outcast side. We are still working on finding a balance, finding a good proportionate schedule that challenges without crashing, that respects their pace and maintains rigor and discipline, that does not spoil the children but still provides with joy and spark. But all I can say it’s that YOU have inspired me today with your questions. I see that we both (and maybe others who experience this in similar ways), need to slow down even more, and not fear.

Oh, how wonderful this season will be. I invite you to join me in making this 2015 Thanksgiving and Christmas time a memorable one. I’m finishing this post bursting with joy and wanting to write 10 other posts about some wonderful things that have been going on at home, and the many more that are to come, and my renewed commitment to taking some planning time next week, and rethinking our terms, and planning for a wonderful Thanksgiving/Christmas term.

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37 thoughts on “Loosing the Spark

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  1. Thank you dear friend! I can't wait to hear about the joyful inspirations the Lord has whispered into your heart!! I need some of that!! Love, Betty

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  2. hi just want to comment once again I did have a classical education (as did my husband) and that is why we choose to NOT educate our children this way. Think about it if the subject matter was in a modern film/book would you really want your young child exposed to it. Make no mistake Shakespeare was written for adults and the stories are full of gore. Hamlet = murder, romeo and juliet = murder/suicide (I would never take a child to see Hamlet the murder will be acted out on stage with the actor covered in blood, it also has a ghost which goes against everything the Lord trains us to expose our children to). This also goes for the greek myths. My husband had the best education avalible learning greek and latin and all the classics. When we discussed the childrens education, he said look at the fruit of the classical education, hundreds of years of this education did not produce godliness but arrogance and a people who crossed the nations taking lands that were not theirs and forcing trade for their own profit. Part of AO's appeal to many is that they wish they had a classical education or they see how much their education missed out on and want to do better for their children; but it is an education based on the classical/greek system (which is based on the knowledge of learning and concept of ideas -the ideal)and not a hebrew system (which is based on the knowledge of God). We both remember how distubing Shakespeare was to us as children and all the horrilbe greek myths (do you really want to expose your child to the concepts of homicide, infacide, parentcide and incest) there was no joy in a classical education. Yes it is nice to have alot of the knowledge as an adult but it is knowledge you can get as an adult, instead of having to learn it as a child. Philippians 4:8 was the verse we took for our homeschool and it served us well, as I mentioned yesterday our children are grown, with university either finished or a journey they are on; our eldest has a Masters so they all know how to learn. This is what homeschooling is about a place where philippian 4:8 can be lived and a place where a love of learning should be kindled into being (the Lord does not break or quench his children) and skills taught that mean whatever the child-then adult desires to learn, they understand the way to aquire that knowledge/skill. Skills are much more important in childhood than head knowledge, so as we learnt things we made/created them (When studing the first world war our boys build a trench and had morning tea-that they had cooked from WW1 receipes- in it, everyday for months (they also played in it for hours in their free time)it was almost full sized and provided so much enthusiasm that they still talk about it now more than a decade later.

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  3. My point is that if the children are chaffing all the time something is wrong with the system (if they are complaining occasional that is human nature) (some children don't complain but slowly get more and more despondent) Homeschool educators fall in love with a system and then try and make their children fit the system, but the beauty of homeschooling to provide an education that the children love to learn in and are learning age appropriate content (which is not murder etc to young children). I hope you are able to seriously consider the ideas I have discussed; and that it will enable you to choose joy and loveliness for your home school (children learn best though play and phsical movement and music, which is why making things is so important) lots of lovely walks in beautiful places, will restore you all. I am also concerned about you, this system is a burden to you. I think you need to step back from the program and trust your intuition. The Lord made you their parent and has called you to educate them, not a program. You know your children and the program doesn't. It wasn't created for them. Sit with the Lord for a time with a pen and paper and start to write about your children. Who they are and their gifts and intrests. We are told to train up a child in the way they will go this actually has more to do with their individual bent be it music, art, science, cooking, love of nature,etc. One of our children was gifted at poetry and now writes songs in their spare time. As you put away the system and be still before the Lord you will beome clear about what it is you need to do. Include your husband, if it wasn't for his wisdom we would have tried to do everything and been like martha's but we learn to 'sit at the feet of the master' and bring beauty and joy and loveliness into our family, blessing.
    PS in biulding the trench they had to measure (math) dig (phyical exercise and self disipline-it was very hard work) shore up (woodwork) research (research skills) as well as all the usual learning in the subject (history, geography, social studies, cooking) the trench was their idea and we ran with it, so the enthusium was theirs, not something we were 'making' them do. My only concern was it collapsing on them, so it was built properly- creating a lot of new skills. It also mean they would get so dirty but isn't that what childhood is about? I requested trench clothes to be worn in the trench and not in the house. It worked. 🙂

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  4. hi please forgive the spelling/typo mistakes, on my computor the comment screen is so small I can't see them easily, but when it's published they are as clear as day. 🙂

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  5. Beautiful post, Silvia.
    Even though you didn't get the education you wish you would have (I didn't, either), you are giving your girls that beautiful gift. I see them so blessed with a mom who is passionate about learning and literature and especially the Lord. What a great environment for them to grow up in.
    I think we will always have to make changes and tweak schedules because we are always learning and growing, thanks be to God. As Maya Angelou said, “We did what we did when we knew what we knew, but when we know better, we'll do better.”
    Thanks for inspiring me to go back to “December school” this year. You are a spark to me.
    Love,
    Sherry

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  6. I sincerely appreciate your comments. I am very blessed to have many around me who advice and share their experiences with me.

    I agree with you in that His Word is what should guide us. I also know I must spend time with the Lord in prayer.

    I try not to follow a system or teach a curriculum but my girls, and I agree that I should follow my intuition.

    I don't see a CM education as you describe ot, nor AO either, thar is a proposal and it is true we should teach and honor our children, and not a program. I will meditate on all this and pray about it.

    Thanks for your testimony about how you were educated, and what you wanted to do differently.

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  7. Re Grace's comment:

    'We both remember how distubing Shakespeare was to us as children and all the horrible greek myths (do you really want to expose your child to the concepts of homicide, infacide, parentcide and incest) there was no joy in a classical education. Yes it is nice to have alot of the knowledge as an adult but it is knowledge you can get as an adult, instead of having to learn it as a child.'

    A Hebrew child was immersed in the Old Testament from an early age so I wonder how you address this if you really ascribe to a Hebrew model. Re the fruit of education – the nation of Israel?? Idolatry, apostasy, child sacrifice, captivity…
    God allowed the New Testament to be written in Greek & a language is interwined with its culture – how do we separate those elements?

    http://ozarklatinist.com/2014/01/09/the-fallacy-of-hebrew-vs-greek-education/

    http://thediscipler.blogspot.com.au/2006/06/hebrew-or-hellenist.html

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  8. And also Grace, if you knew Silvia well enough you would know that she already practices this:

    ' Sit with the Lord for a time with a pen and paper and start to write about your children. Who they are and their gifts and intrests. We are told to train up a child in the way they will go this actually has more to do with their individual bent be it music, art, science, cooking, love of nature,etc

    As you put away the system and be still before the Lord you will beome clear about what it is you need to do. Include your husband, if it wasn't for his wisdom we would have tried to do everything and been like martha's but we learn to 'sit at the feet of the master' and bring beauty and joy and loveliness into our family, blessing.'

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  9. hi carol, I've never had a 'conversation' this way before so this is something new 🙂 (this I think is one of the great things of the age we are living in) If you carefully read my comments both this post and the previous you will get a better picture of the education we gave our children (our eldest has their masters and works in a prestigious private hospital) So although the first five years was light on academics 60-40% up to 70%-30% the higher figure being practical learning or more simply 'doing' the children have/are achieving now at the highest level. (We also practiced attachment parenting, a semi self sufficient lifestyle and were deeply connected/involved as a family in a thriving church. Our families have a heritage of exclusive private education and our sons could have be educated at the best school of its type in the country (with students from across the nations in attendance) at no cost to us. You would understand that in that situation, the education choices we made were the result of much pray, study and discussion. The other point I made was that we both had a classical education not that dissimilar to AO. Especially my husband who had a classic old fashion liberal arts education, learning greek and latin; we both did poetry every day and read copious amounts of literature. I have never forgotton how much the reading (content) would disturb me as a child, books that (some) have great merit when read as an adult but exposing the young and fragile soul to the adult world to early in the name of education. There are enough wonderful books that educate the child and do no harm, we had no TV and every few years I would give away around a thousand books so we could have the room for more. We kept all the poetry. If I was to break it down for you:
    first five years: joyful learning, focus on doing, following the child's natural curiosity teaching the classic bible stories (Not the heavy meat)lots of art music drama gardening movement (we walked for an hour every day we were blessed to living where we could walk in a natural enviroment to three different playgrounds I still say to people they were the best years of our lives my job was to play with my children every day. Think about it we are taught that in the presence of the Lord there is joy and to be in His presence you must obey him – and enjoy Him what is the purpose of man -to worship and enjoy the Lord forever. Therefore we know His perfect will is for us to have joy. Look at the way he made little children, they laugh all the time it bubbles up from within and spills over into our lives that's how we are meant to live our lives. This is what we wanted to protect for as long as posible in our children (People comment about our family that they have never met people who have gone though so much yet still have joy. Thanks because Joy is our compass it points to our spiritual state. No joy? Something's wrong I go back to where I lost it and find out the cause and then forgive/repent/give thanks/sing praise whatever is needed to come back into His presence where my joy is full.

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  10. Silvia, I always love reading what you have to say. I don't have anything all figured out by any means, but I wanted to say that I think it's important to recognize that just as there are seasons in our spiritual life there are seasons in our educational journey as well. Some tunes in my life have been very spiritually dry and it hardly seemed like I had a spiritual life at all. Other times have been full of growth and clear evidence of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The dry times are hard and there is almost no internal motivation. I can only rely then on keeping on keeping on. My feelings and enthusiasm can't carry me through those times. But when spring starts to come again, oh how wonderful it is! And doubly joyous because of how difficult it was before. The same holds true for education, I think. There are times of inspiration and enchantment, and there are times of dry-ness and plodding. Both are ok and I think both are necessary. There is less joy on the heights of we haven't been to the bottom of the valley.

    One thing that is bringing me peace and inspiration lately is really letting go of outside expectations. My goal in educating my children is that they may know and love Christ. If that happens then I'm not going to worry anymore about whether or not we could fit in just one more beautiful book or one more great activity. There are many wonderful things in this life and since I cannot do them all I will be content with the things I CAN do and be thankful that those are there. If I don't get around to what my friend is doing that's ok. I'm preaching to myself here. But that's where I am right now and I'm just sharing in case it's helpful. 🙂

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  11. Oh, one more thing! As a type 3 I've realized that I was trying to push and pull my kids through their list of things to do every day. That was exhausting! I recently handed each kid a time chart and asked them to fill in the things that are negotiable with regards to the time they happen. This has been amazingly helpful. It's like a breath of fresh air! I can rest knowing that the stuff will get done but I don't have to rush, rush, rush and pull, pull, pull through the list. There is time to rest AND time to do. I love it!

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  12. Silvia, you have inspired me to do a Christmas term too. We need it. I'm going to keep math and copy work going but more relaxed through the holidays (my son will forget his math unless he keeps it up). I'm going to replace our school books and poetry with Christmas reading, sing Christmas songs, bake, watch movies, build snowmen, go sledding and just enjoy the spirit of Christmas. I'm so excited!

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  13. Ok next years 9-13 we shift to a gradual increase of academic work we start history at about 9 but it is all done as projects using living books and historic texts. They made models, crafts, food, maps, built islands (and a working volcano) and boats, they built a small sailing dingy that holds four people -just in case you think they are wonderful, the finish was and still is awful but it is seaworthy and they insisted on doing it themselves. They played sports and music. The 13-18 years are the hardest because you want to keep all that going and all the adademics as well but we were not able in the last two years, so we kept the walks and encourage them to chose one extra (sport or music). This was a wonderful time because now we introduced the adult concepts and they were equipt (emotionally, spiritually and mentally) to deal with them we spent hours around the table discussing history, ethics, medicine-a strong family intrest,theology, you name it we discussed it. I would also like to say that people today seem to react and don't understand that a different opinion or experience is just that-different. It is not a personal attack or judgement of that person. I would not tak the time to comment unless I had the greatest respect for the site and the person. I have commented because I have seen many people struggle with AO and they always blame themselves as if they are the problem. I find it so sad and remember the joy filled days we expereinced home educating and want to say 'there is another way' you then have a choice. All my love and blessing to whoever reads this and thank you Silvia for the gift of a peaceful space. 🙂

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  14. Everyone's puzzle is unique. I have been in prayer a lot about homeschool. My struggle is that I work part time in the evenings (we own a business) and my son has unique needs. I am worn down big time. I'm accepting that I can't do it all and still have joy. I'm going to finish up what we can of term 1, have a short Christmas term and begin term 2 with a new vision. I can't keep up with separate history, geography and sciences anymore. For my current season, it's all too much and I'm a stressed out mom. I know for AO it's not ideal to combine but I HAVE to. I desperately need to restore the peace in our home. We need more together time and I need my attention in one place. Plus, my son needs more help with his math. Hopefully this will free me up more to help him. If I combine and it's a disaster, then at least I'll know. I can't mess up too bad I figure, my youngest is only 6 :). I'm starting to see that everyone's home and school is unique and I have to do what works for us.

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  15. Thanks for the comment, Carol. I also don't see that a CM education is a pagan education, but God is at the head. I don't see that Greek/Hebrew distinction the way Grace sees it. I disagree, but I hear her concerns about what a detached from Christianity education did for them both.

    Grace, I am sorry in your type of education only academic excellence was provided, and there was no consideration to how the content was handled. I won't throw some books to my girls just because they are classics. We need to see where they are, and discern what God wants for our family.

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  16. Thanks Carol for your comment. We ate nothing without Him, and surely we can't do nothing without Him.

    Grace, Carol also practices what you mention, and although we both use CM and AO as a guide, our goal is like yours, to raise up children who love the Lord, who live a Christian life.
    I'm glad your children are like that as grown ups. Carol oldest children also are God loving adults.

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  17. Don't get offended, Grace, thanks for a respectful conversation.
    I appreciate you share your journey. It may be different for different people and reasons, but know Carol, I, and my friends in the comments, have the same goals.

    I like that you say joy should be our compass. I get it, that's why I am revisiting all this.

    You view AO as classical, I view it as a christian education. The “problem ” is not AO. I'm revisiting our choices because as you say, where there is no joy, I should stop and reconsider.

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  18. Thanks Lisa, I should have known this -that as long as my girls know and love the Lord, the rest doesn't matter, long ago, but I still struggle with it. However, I believe it's slowly and finally coming to me.

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  19. Super advice. That is helpful big time! 🙂 When I don't rush and pull, but let them do things in their time and their way -and lots of things are negotiable this way-, everything flows much better.

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  20. You are welcome, Grace. This education you followed has a name? I ask because any reading may want to look at it.
    Many struggle with AO, but maybe others have struggled with your education model.
    I believe it's, as you say, not the model, but how we go about with it. Many have joy with AO -or better said, with how they implement CM principles in their home.
    I deeply appreciate your wish for me not to struggle and to have joy.
    And I know you are commenting because I asked you to do so if you experienced joy through your hs journey. (I was thinking about other CM educators, grin, but it makes sense you felt compelled to share your experience, and I am very thankful for that.
    Thanks for sharing and showing that there is another way. (Sometimes I stop considering this).

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  21. Definitely, you should find what works for you. (Look who is talking, :)) I will pray for you and all of us who are still working on finding that balance.

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  22. Grace, Carol commented out of love for me. We had never seen you commenting here before, and I have known her for years. She was telling you that I try to follow Him -if imperfectly.
    And we disagree with that Hebrew/ Greek view of education, but I know we too welcome different opinions, specially those like yours that come out of a desire to help.
    We are all moms who fear the Lord and love their children, feel at peace and welcome, even if we disagree with you. Your testimony is a wonderful one, and we respect it.

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  23. I love the post Silvia. Love it. I love your honesty, which has helped me to assess the way we live. I have loosened my grip on the schedule and amount of readings and embraced more time outside because of your honesty.

    I am also intrigued by the comment thread. I would like to address one thing that has not been mentioned. A classical tradition has produced far more than exploration and exploitation. That is one extreme. That is the bad. There is also much good. Many great Christian thinkers and writers, artists, musicians, etc. are products of the classical tradition. C.S. Lewis for one.

    We are careful with how we present this literature to our children, and it is different than seeing it on the screen or reading it in modern language. Most of the sexual innuendos will go over the child's head if it is left in the original language. Violence, insest, rape, etc. can be found in the Bible as well.

    Just a few thoughts.

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  24. First of all, I'd like to say how blessed I feel and am. To come to the computer and write my thoughts, and have so many of you kindly read them, and not only, but comment about your thoughts and ideas, and even offer me your help -the same I humbly offer mine, from friend to friend, that is a wonderful expression of love.

    Programs, systems, and methods, are that. We all look at different ones, and follow those that resonate with us. In my case, I'm guiding myself with a method of education (CM), which also has lots of valuable principles, and a curriculum offered by AO that should be what it is, a resource and guide.

    Grace, you comment on how you and your husband received a classical education and how some of it harmed you and you did not want to repeat. But in that which you share, I don't see Christ or a christian goal. Like Heather says, if we bring these stories, this literature, these content to our children without the context of a one Truth, without the hope and reassurance of our christian beliefs, it won't be difficult to place them in a not so good atmosphere (no matter the academic quality of our doings and readings).

    I don't know what it is to be on the other side of the homeschooling journey. I have, though, wonderful friends there, and many were inspired by CM, and helped by AO, and they tell me even the few things they did, bore so wonderful fruits. I also know some who were educated (not even homeschooled), but who had parents who educated them with good christian principles and a rich feast (lots of walks too, nature observation, music appreciation, sports, handicrafts, plays, the best literature, etc.), and never heard of CM while sharing some of her principles with her unbeknownst. Good education is good education. Secular high academic standard ideas have always been present among those for whom this world it's all it is. Some of those are more moral, some are intelligent immoral people.

    While I don't doubt your homeschooling in general, when looked at from finished part, was a joyous and fulfilling experience, there may be the slight possibility you too went through some more difficult times. I may have given you the wrong impression (when you read my last two posts), with my complains. In general, I've always written posts about our difficulties. And yes, I've been pray of overwhelming feelings while using AO (but I know it's nothing to do with AO, but with me). Some of us are insecure when we have to decide what's best. And there is also a merit to all they have put together that I want to learn from. Now, if hs day by day is difficult, and decisions are difficult, and I'm insecure, and at times I'm faulty, there is no one to blame, not even me. I'm very passionate and I truly enjoy life. My girls are a happy duo -you can ask Heather. We together have wonderful days, and alone too. We surely live plentiful lives, full of joy (and pain, and challenges, etc.)

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  25. I see there are many moms who have low tide seasons, and high tide ones. But I truly rest assure that He prevails, and He protects us and works everything for good.

    We parents, know our children, and are the best ones to navigate through what Heather says (the Bible stories that are hard to hear, the literature and history that is hard to take in). We know if to wait, leave some things out, etc.

    Heather. (Let me tell you all I've been friends with her over 6 years, and I consider her my sister. We both want our children to love the Lord, we both have found inspiration and useful teachings in the readings of CM, and at the Ambleside Online site and forum. And we both are learning to now trust our educated instinct and insight, and we are learning finally what a meaningful christian education looks like. We both help each other (and with YOU, online real moms, some whom we are meeting in person, others whom we pray we will meet one day), to grow and be better moms for our children. Heather has inspired me to grow, and she too has helped me grow and thanks to her I am more aware about the importance of those walks, nature, observation, and MUSIC. Thanks to Heather my girls practice instruments. I won't be here without her or these women commenting, others who email me, others at the AO forum.
    AO is not just a program, it's a community. The retreats lately some have attended, and those to come, are showing us that real moms do this, and that the love of the Lord (and not quality classical education) it's what unites us and what we aspire to.

    Finally, anyone can feel bad and guilty, and not up to the mark, while following any education. i could implement your model and still not have joy. It's a matter of the heart, to me. If my heart is not right, it does not matter how smart my children are, what things we read, etc. We won't be doing anything with the right reasons.

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  26. I appreciate what you said here Silvia: “Programs, systems, and methods, are that. We all look at different ones, and follow those that resonate with us. In my case, I'm guiding myself with a method of education (CM), which also has lots of valuable principles, and a curriculum offered by AO that should be what it is, a resource and guide.”

    Exactly. All curriculum, in my humble opinion, are simply tools and resources to help *us* educate *our* children. A CM education is about principles, not a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Application of those principles might look a bit different from family to family. I continue to appreciate AO more and more. And I see it as a wonderful guide to help me offer a CM education for my child.

    As far as dealing with burnout, I mentioned this blog post before in another comment on one of your previous posts, but Jennifer Macintosh's post “Focus and Rejuvenate” inspires and encourages. It's all about dealing with burnout. I have read it more than once. 😉

    http://wildflowersandmarbles.com/2009/01/18/focus-and-rejuvenate-a-plan-for-short-circuiting-the-february-blues/

    This is the one of my favorite quotes from Jennifer's post: “…I try to freshen by getting back to a simpler, gentler, more realistic plan and environment – one that meets the needs of *my* family, *our* needs, and remembers to offer beauty and relaxing amongst its days.”

    I can't recommend Jennifer's post enough!

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  27. Hi Silvia…once again, a good post, with a lot of food for thought. I think for us (or ME 😉 ), the main thing, is not to judge life and our learning, on how I FEEL. 🙂 Yes, many things are going to be hard, not “fun”, or rigorous and compared to some BEAUTIFULLY smooth days full of great conversations, it can seem like “failure” most of the time…but I need to be careful to judge all days based on facts not feelings always. Did I share some great ideas today? Was it a perfect day? No. But we got those idea out there. If we are really struggling, what truly is the root of the struggle? Too many extra things on our schedule, trying to do too many chores at the wrong time of day, or too many books, or not enough variety in our feast? Or too many difficult books or too little that challenges us? This rule of thumb helps me a lot as I tend look at life through rose-colored romantic glasses. In reality, those perfect tea & crumpet moments are not an everyday experience. 🙂 Our term has been going really well overall and I cut SO much and combined a lot. I think one thing I finally made myself acknowledge wholeheartedly is that we can't read all the good books out there and that's ok. Just pick a few and really invest in a relationship with those. I also have to reject daily the mindset that I only have such and such many years to “teach” these children…nope, they are going to be learning without me for the REST of their lives. These 18 or so years are just a drop in the bucket. So, I do with the Lord's help my very best and trust by faith that He will continue that growth and learning in their lives.

    I'm sort of blathering here, but this is what I was thinking about after your post. 🙂

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  28. Oh, Amy, you've given us so much wisdom with your comment. I do love your “checking” list of why things may not be looking that “great”, and your insight on this as not a thing to be judged by how we feel. Important things in life should not be torture, but joy is not “fun or smooth” either, it's a calm attitude, a state of rest, a peaceful heart, and what you said, the assurance that the Lord is with them and we are here contributing our “drop”, or, like Carol says, “doing the next right thing”.

    I've only lately realized my girls are different readers, much more savvy than me. They don't have my silly sense of rush, LOL. My oldest is a born re-reader (I never appreciated that until recently, the joys and benefits of re reading those books that are old friends). Yesterday she just wanted to re read Arabian Nights, -a children's version-, and The Magic Pudding. Some of our children and some of us, will get so much from the same set of books, there is not that pressing need to cover more, or branch out so wide -as long as their lessons are varied, that yes-.

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  29. Such an important topic Sylvia; and since you asked, I will share a few things that have made a difference for me in a positive way.

    First, planning more breaks throughout the year, for myself and my children's sake, has made a tremendous difference.

    Second, realizing as Charlotte says:
    “Our deadly error is to suppose that we are his showman to the universe; and not only so, but that there is no community at all between child and universe unless such as we choose to set up.”
    I used to feel that any gaps in my children's education would be my fault. I felt that I was completely responsible for their formation. Of course this is ridiculous, but it was a burden I carried for many years, and this burden was the cause of much of my burn out. Letting go of that, realizing that we have a Helper, and not only we, but our children also have that same Helper, is so freeing. Also they are making connections every day that have nothing to do with us. This was a burden I am sure I was not meant to carry. I now cling to this promise, “All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.

    Last, but not least. Realizing that there is no such thing as a perfect curriculum. Silly as it now sounds to me, I carried a nagging feeling that maybe I wasn't using the best curriculum. Maybe there was something out there that I didn't know about that was better. I don't know how many different things I tried, but I know that certainly contributed to my burn out.

    Recently at a meeting of our homeschool support group, we had a panel of adults who had been homeschooled. All of their experiences were different, their parents had used different methods and curriculum. Fortunately all of them had so much positive to say about their experience. One comment that stood out to me, was a young man that was homeschooled, and now educating his own little ones at home said something that I completely agree with. He said that a mothers should find something, meaning curriculum, that they themselves enjoy and are learning from, and stick with that. This is the main motivator for me to continue AO. Yes it is rigorous. Yes, I have to tweak it to fit our family, Yes, some things are completely foreign to me, but I love, love, love, most of their selections. I enjoy reading what I can of the books. I see the benefits of being a “keeper” of a nature journal, book of centuries, common place book, etc. This is the way I would have loved to learn.

    I consider it a privileged to be able to educate my own children. I consider them blessed for being able to learn at home. Yes we still get tired and grumpy, so what do we do? We rest, we read something inspiring, we make new plans, and keep going.

    Sorry so long,
    Patty B.

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  30. Yes!
    Patty, thanks for it being so long. I would listen to you all day. What you share is precious. I'm taking every single tip on moving forward and resting on Him. I too love.love.love AO for the same reasons.
    (Friederike is coming to see Heather and I!, I wish you could come visit too).

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  31. Beautiful Silvia.
    Our whole fall has been such a stressful, chaotic period. I keep worrying about when we will finally get to lessons.
    A quiet reflective holiday term settling into our new home sound like the perfect remedy for a family burned out on every level.
    There will be time for more come January when we are rested spiritually and physically.

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