One thing I love about Home Education is that no two days are identical. There is so much flexibility to respond to situations within the family (ie discipline!), to the weather, to energy levels or lack thereof, to celebrations, to the interests of each child. I know that readers who already home educate will know exactly what I mean, but I'd like to share some recent examples:
1) Applying the Bible to current situations and challenges. We've spent a lot of time working on 'The Fruit of the Spirit'. The boys have learnt Galatians 5:22 and can recite 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control' (although the two year old struggles to pronounce 'self-control' and comes out with some amusing attempts). But more than that, we're really trying to teach the boys what these traits mean, what they look like, what they most certainly don't look like, and that we need God's strength within us to develop these fruit. We have a 'fruit of the spirit tree' where each branch is one of the fruit and they boys can each add a fruit when they achieve a good example of that fruit during the day. It is still quite sparse.... It's nice that we can stop here and look at the Bible in depth, look at other passages about development of godly character, and keep revisiting things rather than feeling the need to keep up with a schedule.
2) Plenty of time out of doors. This is always a great advantage of home education, but I think during the summer months we appreciate it more than ever. We have taken a pile of books and a picnic blanket and sat in a beautiful garden near our home, and have been thankful that we do not need to stay inside. We’ve done relay races that involve counting and other tasks. We’re working on playing together as a team and sharing – lessons that could be learnt in many ways I am sure, but can be useful taught with a football and a Frisbee. The there are all the specific trips that can be done alone or in groups.
3) Some friends from another country visited mid-week, and we were able to take them on a tour of the city including many of the typical tourist activities. This wouldn't have been possible had the boys been in school, and it was really interesting to hear them describing certain things about the city and the things they enjoy much. I suppose this was a form of 'narration' in some respects, as sometimes you don't realise what a child has absorbed until you hear them teaching it to others!
4) We went to Yorkshire, hiked across moorland and enjoyed both watching and riding on the steam trains. It was fabulous to see the excitement of the boys at seeing the workings of the engines, the great clouds of steam, being allowed to climb up into the engine compartment with the driver, watching them fill the tank with water etc. We spent a whole day around the railways, and because there were not so many children around, the boys were really able to make the most of the opportunities to see and explore much.
5) During our trip to Yorkshire, we visited a Baptist Church. It brought great refreshment and encouragement and my five year old was keen to come for the evening service (it was his first time of coming to evening church, as where we currently attend does not have an evening service). It was such a wonderful encouragement to sit with my son hearing the Word of God and worshipping together, and it was a delight to see his hunger for these things. An added encouragement was some teaching on the Sabbath, which was much in keeping with my understanding of things; I think God put that there, just to specifically encourage us on that point.
6) Planning for the future, we now know that we will move back to East Africa next year, for several years. It is great to consider how our education will continue to build on what we are already doing, and to feel confident that by home educating, we can keep this area of their lives relatively stable in the face of much change. Partly because we know we will be moving on, we are keen to make the most of the opportunities which are so abundant in the UK – libraries, museums, art galleries, exhibitions, festivals, sports lessons etc. I think when you live between two very different worlds as we have done, and will continue to do, the glass is always ‘half-full’ as we embrace the unique opportunities that exist where we currently are.
7) Dressing up. This is something a little unexpected for me since we never did it as children, but I’ve been astonished to see how the boys get ‘into character’ with costumes, and start to act out things they have read about in their books. At Christmas, we had built a giant castle in the living room, out of the three-ply cardboard box that the electric piano arrived in. We had several fun lessons making shields and armour, and then they boys would often act out the roles of king and visitor, of attacker and defender (and yes, occasionally got a little rough at times). This week, one of the boys dressed up as Henry the 8th in the art gallery, and rather than bouncing off the ceiling as he normally does, he was very stately and regal for about an hour. He was particularly thrilled to be allowed up to see the painting of Henry the 8th whilst in his costume, and also told other visitors to the gallery all about what he was doing (quite factually correct). The only downside was that the only costume that fit my 5 year old was a dragon costume, and after having crawled around the art gallery, the dragon then ate King Henry. History has been rewritten it would seem… But in seriousness, I’m going to put together a ‘dressing up’ box before our next big move.
It's been a busy time lately, with big decisions being made - this is why I have written less in depth here. But I was keen to share an assortment of encouragements to remind you of the benefits of a method of education which can be tailored to the needs of your family and to each individual child.