Scholé is what we need in our homeschool. That PeACE of restful learning that can take place when we make space for it. We can make space by one aspect of our homeschool that we probably don't give much thought to...pacing. What is the pace of your homeschool and is it taking you towards scholé or away from it? Let's explore...
If we aren't intentional about the pace at which we are homeschooling, then we can easily begin cramming too much into our homeschool day. Pace has three aspects:
- The number of subjects we are tackling.
- The amount of workload within those subjects we are assigning to our children.
- The number of outside commitments our children are involved in.
All three affect the pace at which our homeschool runs and whether we are creating a scholé environment or not, in our home.
Be Intentional About Creating Time for Restful Learning
Scholé is what I like to think of as intentional, persistent loitering. Are we creating opportunity to explore and discuss ideas with our children at a deeper level and to connect with others in our community through the pace we have in our homeschool? If pace can lead us to frenetic or loitering places, based on the choices we make, then it's easy to see how that would affect the peace of our homeschool and ultimately our homes. If I am mindful to create space and build buffers into our day that allow me the opportunity to expand a discussion or topic of study, as God leads, or invite a friend for a nature walk, then I am going to have a much more intentional and restful home for learning.
The peace is stolen from us when we subscribe to keeping pace with public schools, focusing in on grade levels, lead away towards survey instead of mastery of material, and attempt to keep pace with others we think are doing it "right". True peace is found in prayerful submission of our school day to Him. Creating spaces that He can use to deepen relationships, provide ministry moments (within our home or outside) and true mastery of subjects through depth of discussion and exploration of deeper ideas and mutually enjoyable projects.
Consider Your Goals for Your Homeschool and Your Children
This has been a process for me and I'm still in process - though I am much closer than I have ever been before. It's been an intentional learning and cognizant stepping away from my Type A tendencies and perfectionism bends. God has graced me with two kids who don't learn at my Type A pace (smile...do you have any of those?). Thankfully, He continues to teach me that patience and persistence is the key to success - not speed and perfection. I guess it depends on how you define success, as well. I define it as Deuteronomy 6:6-9 -that is my aim in parenting and schooling. All else flows from there. So we start with God and then He will lead us to what is important for our children to study and know, in accordance with His will for their lives and their bends.
I consider my homeschool's goal and mission. If you don't have one, write one! We should consider our child's bend and challenges. Both of my children have grapho-motor problems, making writing an arduous and difficult task, so I don't load our school day with writing tasks. I break any writing down into manageable chunks. Make sure your goals align with your child's natural gifts and talents academically. That's not to say we don't gently push our kids in areas they struggle - we do (my daughter has done multiple handwriting books at a slow but consistent pace, with much improvement) - but we adjust our goals and load our curriculum in ways that match up with the talents and gifts God has given them, because we want our children to be successful.
Consider the Curriculum
I consider what I'm good at as their teacher. This is just as important! Pick a curriculum that presents it in a way you feel confident you can teach it successfully. Don't just use curriculum that is touted by any particular person or company! Use what works for you and your learning style and your child and meets the goals of what you are looking to achieve as your end result. Consider that the curriculum is just a vehicle, it's not the destination! It may be how you get there but you decide what type vehicle you will drive and how much gas you will give it to go! I also consider the grammar stage a place to focus on the basics and not take on too many subjects to teach. Stick with the basics of Bible study, reading, writing, arithmetic and add in one, or maybe two, additional things to the year (we have Latin and CC this year).
My scholé curriculum advice would be: Do not be a slave to a daily lesson plan. Give up the lesson plans and expectations of having to do X on day X. Just know what subjects they need to work on and have them work through the curriculum at their own pace, that isn't a stressor for you or them. It's not about getting through the book but learning the subject and the book is just a vehicle to get there. Less is more. I'd rather my daughter do one unit broken into daily small lessons that are manageable to her and she can absorb mentally (manageable means the point before which she will become frustrated because it's too hard or too much).
Know your own child's workload tipping point - that number of math problems they can do before they get frustrated or how many pages of handwriting they can crank out with a happy heart.
If your entire day is filled with complaining, crying and frustration - reevaluate, you may be asking too much of them for where they are at developmentally (and they are all different) and slow the pace. Instead of completing the three pages a day the book says, try one or two and see if you get a happy, compliant child. Take an extra three months to get through the book if you have to and know it really well! Pacing too quickly through curriculum, will certainly steal peace in your home! Pick clean, simple, classical curricula that creates independence and not frustration. Don't load up your curriculum with all teacher intensive materials and burn yourself out.
Plan Your Day With a Buffer
You are setting yourself and your child up for failure when you cram their day full with expectations based on lesson plan completion and a multitude of activities and places to be! Provide room in your day for scholé and for life. Things will come up that will interrupt your school day plans. So plan for the interruptions by giving room for them! Perhaps your child (one of them at least) will have an off day or be sick or maybe you didn't get sleep and you're off today. Perhaps a friend is in need. Make room for these days.
One way I try to create scholé and pace for it to occur, is to utilize a check off sheet with the subject only listed on them. That way my daughter knows she has to tackle the listed subject - but I can adjust what I ask her to complete each day per subject, based on our schedule, if she's having a difficult day or I am, etc. I just write on a white board how much in each subject or workbook she has to complete for that day. It keeps things at a restful pace and in perspective, helping me to achieve scholé on most days in our classroom and still reach the academic goals I have set for our homeschool.
Evaluate Your Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities seems to steal a lot of peace and create a frantic pace for a lot of families. Assess what your child's bend is and by that I mean, what they are naturally talented at or show a heightened interest in, regarding any particular activities. Think about what your objectives are in training your child and whether that activity is taking you in that direction or not. Then explore them one or two (at most) at a time and see if they lead you to your child's passion. Once you land on it - stick it out. Let them develop out those gifts and talents.
Do one thing in a particular category. Don't join soccer and baseball in the same season! America is a very sports driven society. It seems everyone is very busy bustling about and transporting children to and fro for every activity under the sun. This is not necessary to have a fantastic childhood or be a well rounded child. Spending time with family and your children, in nature walks, bike rides, family ice cream runs - those are the things that make life a joy for your children and teach Biblical values and create scholé in our homeschool and life. Not how many teams they can play on for a given sport.
You can go for a walk and talk about math as you look at the designs of a flower or leaf. You can contemplate great battles as you walk through a path in the woods and think of those who went before you creating paths to a new world... There is much deep contemplation that can occur in the space of activities that are free and don't require a team of kids or a frantic drive to a field by a certain time. I'm not saying those are bad things, but I am saying that they shouldn't be the primary things we are spending our time on, if we want to create homes filled with scholé!
Enjoy Restful Learning in Your Home!
To summarize, to begin to experience a pace that creates time for scholé in your homeschool, I would start by remembering three main points:
- PRAYER- We start creating a scholé minded pace by prayer. Prayerfully understand your child's bend, talents and limitations, then set goals and academic expectations.
- CURRICULUM - It's a vehicle NOT the destination! Choose curriculum you and your child can "drive" well! Know your child's frustration point for learning and build in a buffer to each school day for scholé to occur.
- EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES - Create space for contemplation together. Choose activities wisely so you don't become frantic and busy.
Colleen Leonard can be found over at www.solagratiamom.com where she blogs about her classical education adventures with a creative twist! When she isn't coming up with whacky fun experiments or history dress up ideas for kids, she is advocating for children with special needs in her local community and government. She has been married to her love for 20 years and has two adopted children she adores. A previous sales and marketing professional, her passion is creating visual and tangible ways for children to learn and marveling at our great God on nature walks! She has been homeschooling since 2004.