There are times when my children prove with resounding flourish that there is an art to gentle learning. This was definitely one of those weeks. These kids kept slowing me down! I wanted to press on and they dug in their heels and demanded a slow walk through the unit. They wanted to savor their learning like a delicious meal. It was a good reminder to only give them the very best. Even though I found 12 books on Jamestown at our local library, I only gave the children 4 to look through. Good, true and beautiful is the standard.
After years of careful, parent-led gleaning, they are starting to filter through things a bit for themselves. “This book is….not that great. What are they trying to tell me? It doesn’t seem like its anything good or true or useful,” my eldest mused. He can’t put many words to his assessments yet, but he can decipher richness from twaddle. This is incredibly encouraging to me!
“Jamestown is mighty good fun, Mom! Lets study it again and again!” said the second born.
We spent the majority of the week in just this way; boys coloring pictures or building forts out of lincoln logs, while I read aloud from books.
This was so pleasurable for everyone, it almost felt like a vacation!
In some ways we are on an eternal vacation from school. Those strict regulations are being stripped away as I become more and more unschooled and we are left with the brilliant truth that learning is living and abundant and pleasurable.
The boys learned so much from their Beautiful Feet Books—Pocahontas and Jamestown, New World Adventure. We are just thrilled with their Early American History Guide thus far. We colored in our next 3D map and built a model of Jamestown (pictured above) which we found in a free sample lesson from Homeschool in the Woods.
Then came the unexpected punch in the gut from my eldest.
“Mom, I loved school this week. It was so nice to not feel stupid.”
“WHAT? You have felt stupid? Why? When? You are not stupid, not in the least!”
“I am such a slow reader and no matter how hard I try to remember what I learned, I just cant. It doesn’t make sense when I look at it and I never know which way things are facing. My heart beats really fast and I feel kind of sick.”
MFW 1st grade phonics was a huge hit with my 6 year old. He’s a duck in water when it comes to reading. Everything clicked. It all made sense. It was all so incredibly effortless. He is reading chapter books on his own now. He is always reaching for something new to read.
My eldest did not do well with MFW 1st phonics. He struggled. It was painful to watch and miserable to teach. We added in Explode the Code halfway through the year and he improved a little bit. But here we are on the threshold of second grade and it feels like he is regressing.
Do I press on? Do I stop all together? Do I hold the six year old back until the seven year old gets a more solid foothold?
I felt overwhelmed by all these questions at first. Then I remembered to be thankful for them. We are so blessed to homeschool. We can stop if we need to. We can slow up or speed down. No matter what, we have the opportunity to do what is best for our children without worrying about someone else’s timetable. What incredible freedom! What a gift to our children!
We are sticking with MFW and Beautiful Feet as planned but with expectations adjusted for each child. I have taken out a few of our tougher language arts books for now. We will resume Writing With Ease once we’ve had time for remedial reading work. We will continue using First Language Lessons along with our Spelling program. We have ordered All About Reading and will commence with this program once it arrives. My eldest will work on this program with me in the afternoons. We are hoping AAR will help him decode words and build his confidence! The second born will use this time to read books and make new vocabulary lists to record in his composition book, which we have titled “Discovery Dictionary.” He jots down all unfamiliar words throughout the course of the week and we look up their meanings on Friday afternoons.
We will keep using lots and lots and lots of read aloud books.
We had torrential downpours all week long.
The backyard fort is infested with mosquitos.
Studying Jamestown gave these boys fort fever! So we built forts with pillows and blankets. We built forts with crackers and cheese. We built them with paper and toothpicks and glue.
The boys really melted into their play this week.
I believe with all my heart that there is no better learning than that kind of deep, engaged play. I’m glad we cut back on the unnecessary busyness in our life.
I see our schoolwork transforming into lifestyle.
Books start informing their play. Projects start melding with their dreams and ideas. Chores link up with character studies.
Even if the house is a bit chaotic and I am not using even a tenth of all the great ideas I had scribbled down while planning our Adventures year, learning is seeping into every minute of our day. I see the transformation from those once “busy hectic days” into “full rich days.”
Hard weeks can bring rich blessing into our lives. I am grateful for the revelation my son gave me and for the chance to slow things down and help him. I am thankful for God’s mercy in showing me all the ways these loose threads of many years are coming together to make something lovely.