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Today I am excited to have Bonnie, from Moms Teaching Olives, here to talk about some of the lessons she has learned while implementing restful learning in her homeschool.
This year my first grader is really thriving, learning and growing as we implement out Well-Trained Mind Classical Curriculum (you can read about our curriculum at Choosing Classical). We are having SO much fun, and I'm relieved to find a new joy and vigor this year as opposed to the total overwhelming chaos I felt last year (for every time there is a season). As out year is underway we're learning a new but important lesson: schooling with scholé.
During Amy's series, Scholé Everyday, I focused on applying scholé to our school. Here are some practical things we focused on this month and things that I need to more genuinely incorporate in our daily school/home life. As Dr. Perrin says, "do things that will provide blessings, no just things that have economic value." If you haven't found out by now, I'm a type A schedule person who is trapped in a life of chaos that I'm constantly trying to conquer. These lessons in practical scholé will tell all =)
This might sound 'hippy' but communicating with nature is inherently restful. Being outdoors refreshes the spirit and the physical body. I was surprised that schooling outside does the same. Content that is arduous (and perhaps - dare I say, boring?) when done inside, suddenly becomes new and exciting with just a simple change in scenery! We found on our adventures outdoors, that schooling outside also allowed for FUN breaks. We had a lot of fun playing and getting our energy out - surely that 'leisure ' could be part of what Dr. Perrin is talking about. Read more about our Day of Rest, Not Stress and schooling outside.
Discuss Great Art (Masters)
As an Art History major myself, I LOVE the art greats; probably the neoclassic, impressionists, and romantics the best. I was surprised when out First Language Lessons grammar curriculum had a lesson in part evaluation where the student was asked several questions and had to analyze a painting. While I chose not to include art history in out curriculum this year so that out schedule wasn't burdened, my journey in scholé is opening my eyes to how we can more simply incorporate it. We aren't adding it into our schedule, but each week we are viewing a print (you can view great ones at the National Gallery of Art website) and spending time discussing it.
Scholé is a more comprehensive incorporation of liberal arts and the philosophy of discussion and analysis, and I hope our art discussions will prompt higher level conversation regarding the arts.
Listen to Classical Music
As an educator, and really even as a student myself, I often hear routed the cerebral benefits of listening to classical music. This "Mozart Effect" (which gained a lot of momentum in the 90's) has had a lot of research and debate about classical music and its effects on children's brains. Whether you agree with the research or not, the principle of listening to classical music for rest is something else entirely. It is choosing to intently focus on music and really incorporate it into your routine - ours happens at the breakfast table.
I'll be the first to admit that when I was reading about the benefits of classical music, I actually had to cringe at my own dislike for it and I wasn't sure whether I should 'force myself' to listen to it. Thank goodness for Mary at Homegrown Learners and her SQUILT lessons (Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time). While my kiddos are too young to really enjoy the benefits of her curriculum, the concept has been well embraced. These peaceful moments where attention is focused on the music and we really just rest, have become a welcome time in out morning routine.
Visit the Library (not because you have something to get)
Let's get real, I have 4 kids and while out library is honestly AWESOME, we don't go there just for the sake of going. I strategically plan out monthly (or often bi-monthly) trips based on upcoming subjects and lessons so that we can choose out books on whatever topics relate to our curriculum. Scholé opened my eyes to the fact that there is SO much learning that can go on at the library, and not just learning how to functionally use the library (which my first grader is starting to master), but engaging in books and having 'leisure' time while we are there. Not rushing to gather out materials for the next few weeks, but just allowing kids to pick out their own books on whatever they find interesting.
Choosing to enjoy our time there, not being less productive, but allowing less purpose as we peruse and enjoy books there. After all, I want to develop a LOVE for books, not squash our interests with a schedule.
Decorate Something (art, flowers, a seasonal vignette etc.)
Part of scholé is developing an atmosphere in your home that is conducive to learning and contemplative discussion. While art, flowers, or seasonal items can seem unnecessary, even superfluous, their intent is to create a calm, enjoyable environment and to promote peacefulness in your home.
Let me tell you the truth, the challenge I placed on myself for a fall vignette meant more than developing a peaceful place, it required de-cluttering enough to put one out --- ouch, sometimes the truth hurts! My own disorganization sometimes frustrates me (does that happen to you?) I realized that before I needed flowers, I needed a clear visual space. So, I gave myself a week long challenge to keep ALL my kitchen counters clear - WOW that was convicting! It worked though, and I rewarded myself with a fall vignette which makes me feel like one of those 'together moms' who I try not to compare myself to. =)
What's Next ...
As I work to learn and develop the skill of 'doing' leisure and applying scholé to our school, my next step is reading Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakeable Peace. Have you read it? How are you using these ideas to incorporate restful learning into your homeschool?
Bonnie is a Christ-Follower and a wife and mom to four children with many names: helpmate, homemaker and homeschooler. Along with her best friend, Bethany, they co-author the blog Moms Teaching Olives. They are two families with one calling, encouraged by Psalm 128:3 to classically teach their children at home! Following their Well Trained Mind approach can help you learn about classical education and the life of two very different moms and two very different families who both seek (and sometimes struggle) to follow their true calling as moms and teachers.