I recently discovered the app Periscope. Have you tried it out yet? I’m playing around with it this week, and it’s kinda fun. I’m @MystieWinckler there if you want to come chat with me about various organization and homeschool topics. You can’t get there via a website; you do have to use the app.
This week’s question came from Instagram, when I posted about our start of our new school year in early July. It seems like a natural question, and one worth addressing about our unusual homeschool year schedule.
~ because you asked ~
I’m curious how your kids feel about school in summer. Mine would mutiny. Maybe you don’t live in a neighborhood with other kids?
We do live in a neighborhood where my kids have good friends, but those good friends also homeschool. One of the families schools with the same schedule we use (and we do some of our homeschooling together). The other family also adjusts their schedule to fit their families needs. So, for example, they took off two months of school around when their newest baby was born in the spring and so were still doing school while we were off in May and June.
Our six-weeks-on, one-week-off pattern is the only school calendar we’ve used to date, so it’s normal to my kids. And I always do point out when we take a midyear week off that other kids do not get the frequent breaks my kids do. My kids are also pretty much always the first ones done with their testing and school year in May, so they have their chance to make friends jealous first before we go back to school while those friends are on break.
During our summer term we are also more flexible and do not begin every single subject and a full load. There’s still room for swimming, for taking a day off to go do something as a family or with friends, or to finish up before lunch or wait and do it in the afternoon after spending the morning out. It’s a good way to ease back into a work load slowly.
After a month off, even the kids recognize how much better days feel with a routine and productive things to get done. And they also know that a break week is never too far away, at any point during the school year. They are always itching to get into those new school crayons and notebooks, also.
~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Week 3 of school is almost over. So far, so good! Our books are great, our lists seem to work well, Morning Time is going well. We’ve had a summer cold take a couple of us out for a day here and there. So our five-day-a-week plan has been executed as a four-day-a-week plan last week (nothing happened Friday) and this week (very little happened Wednesday). But I’m still happy with how our flow has gone so far and that my almost-12-year-old is handling a weekly checklist very well.
~Pretty Drawers ~
So, this is crazy, but I started folding my clothes the “KonMari” way. I have resisted folding clothes at all for years and years, so why not start by doing it in an OCD way, right?
Friday when school flopped, I wanted to put order in some small corner somewhere, so I chose my sweaters. I had two drawers of cardigans, and I’d been wondering if this “magical” way of folding would be a better way to take care of my poor heaped up sweaters. So, I was only going to fold those. I did, and my two drawers of sweaters (seen above) took up less that one drawer.
So then I did all my shirts, which had been hung up. Now they’re all in one drawer and I can see them all at once!
The insanity spread and I even did the girls’ drawers, which were in serious need of emptying and organizing. It’s been a week and they’re still neat and tidy, which is more than I was expecting!
~ Happy Anniversary ~
14 white roses from my husband for our 14 years together. <3
~ Funny Faces ~
And, speaking of weddings, my brother was married on the 11th and I had some pretty cute flower girls and a smug ring bearer.
It was a lovely wedding!
~ Real Help ~
My dinner helpers! Not only do I have willing helpers to stir and dump when I’m making dinner, but my older two now alternate once a week making dinner all on their own! Those dinner-helper years are paying off!
They choose what they want to make from Simplified Dinners for New Cooks and I sit nearby and write or plan while they take care of dinner that day! It’s great!
Halfway through our first school term and I think our plan is doable, though my own preparedness certainly does make a difference in the day-to-day! I am going to need to be more consistent with an evening “pull things together” time, I think, to help the morning flurry.
Chapter four in Leisure, the Basis of Culture was one that connected a lot of dots for me back when I first read it. It was because of the ideas sparked by chapter 4 that I picked the word convivial for my blog title, because it summed up what I wanted for my home:
happiness, pleasantness, shared joy
Worship brings scholé
The deepest root, then, from which leisure draws its sustenance […] lies in worshipful celebration.
Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is to be our primary and chief pocket of leisure in our lives. It is the day God has told us to set aside as one for worship, for rest, for community – those needs that we have as humans that we can easily squeeze out when we get wrapped up in our own agendas. Sunday worship provides the model and pattern for what leisure, which is scholé, should look and feel like.
In our last Scholé in Your Home or Homeschool class, Dr. Perrin suggested we use the 1-in-7 pattern to think about setting up our days. If that is the ratio we should seek to build, then perhaps this is not so hard as we might think.
It is not that we should be trying to make every moment of our entire school day all contemplation, connection, and scholé, but that such times should receive their fair balance along with the work and labor of learning.
Our school day is typically about 4-5 hours long, and about 45 minutes of that time is Morning Time. So right there, our ratio is beyond 1/7. Add in some nature journalling, conversation time, classical music, a walk, and we realize that perhaps this whole homeschool-scholé thing is actually not intimidating, difficult, or time-consuming.
Then if there’s quiet time, time to have some peace and rest, perhaps while drawing and listening to an audio book, playing or reading outside, building with Legos or playing with playmobil or setting up a restaurant with the toy kitchen (play is scholé), our children’s daily hours might even be legitimately half scholé and half productive, useful work.
When separated from worship, leisure becomes toilsome, and work becomes inhuman.
But the ultimate leisure, the real scholé is a scholé that is not about quiet, but is about worship and connecting with what is really real, what is True Truth. Without worship, without honoring and glorifying God in the midst of our daily activities as well as during set aside times daily and weekly, we lose touch with our humanity because we lose touch with what we were created for in the first place: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We glorify God when we take time to be still and pray and worship. We glorify God when we do our work well. We enjoy God when we notice His hand wherever we look. Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we can do it for His glory.
It is doing all things being mindful of God’s presence that connects us with true scholé leisure.
“in festive consort with the gods,” man regains his true worth, and recovers his upright posture.
We have a lot on our plates, we stay-at-home, homeschooling moms. It’s easy to begin to feel flustered, scattered, overwhelmed, pulled in too many directions. I am always on the alert for strategies and habits that will help me stay afloat better, not only in my home but also in my own head. Sometimes even when it doesn’t look in my home like I’m drowning, I am still drowning in the chaos in my head. And sometimes when the house looks chaotic, it’s actually because I’m doing ok in my head and following through on right priorities – the house not being at the top at that moment.
To climb out of the chaos that threatens to sink us inside our own imaginings, emotions, and thoughts, we need perspective. We need a clear view, above the fray. What is the big picture and where are we in it?
Beginning with the end in mind is habit 2 in Franklin Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” a book I read and loved in college. Beginning with the end in mind is envisioning what you want in the future so that you know specifically what you’re working toward. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not likely to get there.
I love double-meanings and layered meanings in phrases, and I think this one presents us with more than meets the eye if we examine it.
What is the end?
a final part of something, especially a period of time, an activity, or a story
the furthest or most extreme part or point of something
a goal or result that one seeks to achieve
Now, when Covey writes about beginning with the end in mind, I believe he is using the third meaning of “end” there – what is the goal you’re trying for? And that is important. But just as important are the other meanings.
Begin with the goal in mind
What result are we trying to achieve? If we don’t know the answer to that question, then it’s no wonder we feel scattered and unable to decide what to do next, unsure if what we’ve done is “good enough.”
The time spent thinking through what we’re trying to accomplish – and making sure it’s realistic – is invaluable.
Begin with the extreme point in mind
This meaning of “end” is the one used in such phrases as “I’m at the end of my rope.” And that’s how we feel when we have not had the time to step back, refresh ourselves, and remind ourselves of our true end.
The extreme point on something is also it’s teleological end: it’s eternal point, final meaning. “What is man’s chief end?” the catechism asks. And we must always work, knowing that our answer to that question is, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But what does that look like in our daily, mundane lives of laundry and lists?
Begin with the final story in mind
We are all living a story that is not over until the end of our lives. Even then, we will find it has only been the beginning, because our eternal story will be praising God in the new heavens and new earth.
This is perspective. If we can climb up and stop seeing only our bad day, our own little temper tantrum, our huge laundry pile, and see them in the context of the story of our whole lives, we’ll see (hopefully) small growth over time and the opportunity to see our current struggle not as a failure end of the day, but as a mini crisis that can result in more growth if we respond in faith and trust and if we don’t give up.
All stories must have bad things happen – struggles, temptations, difficulties, troubles – for there to be a story at all, for there to be a final resolution that satisfies our desire for happy endings. And God will bring about the final happy ending. We can rest in faith and hope when we remember that.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be developing these three points as they relate to homemaking, to housecleaning, to homeschooling, and to our personal projects.
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For several months, I’ve been writing a series on homeschooling with Evernote, and so that means the questions are rolling in. This week I received another Evernote question and I thought it’d be better to answer it as a post for everyone rather than in each email that comes in asking the same thing. :)
Michelle recently emailed me with some Evernote questions:
I have been reading, and rereading, your posts on using Evernote for homeschooling. I’ve been trying to use Evernote for the past year or so off and on for homeschooling with little success. […] In looking through your free guide and blog posts, I’m getting a better idea of how to organize things, but still getting hung up. For instance, you mention having a stack called School Year 2015. I’m assuming you use this for planning and lesson plans. Once you are done with a year, do you move all that into the Homeschool Records stack? And do you do that based on child?
I broke up her questions and tackle the homeschooling-related one here and the organization-related one at Simplified Organization today: How do you organize Evernote?
I’ll start with a snapshot of my Evernote:
So I organize my notes and notebooks into stacks based on my vocations, plus one for household records and one for homeschool records.
In the vocation stacks are current projects, notes, and reference that I am likely to want to refer to. In the records stacks are notes that are basically stored in long-term storage – I probably won’t need them, but they’re there if I do.
As I demonstrated in this post on record-keeping with Evernote, I merge my notes at the end of the school year and move them from my “educator” stack over to the records stack. That’s it!
Now, whether or not this is adequate for you will depend on your situation. How you organize the notes after the school year is over depends on what you might need them for. We live in a low-regulation state, so I’m not anticipating ever actually needing any of the records except maybe for copying plans for a younger child. Unless something goes wrong, I won’t need to provide documentation. So I don’t tag or file by child, but simply by year.
However, it would be very simple to simply add a tag with a child’s name on each note that contains sample work from or records of that child.
When I scan sample work done by a child, I use that child’s name and the date as the name of the note. At the end of the year, all of the work samples from that child can be merged into one document and filed in the year notebook. You could, just as easily, merge the notes and file them in a notebook for the child, with the year being the name of the note instead. And, the great thing about Evernote: it’s easy to rearrange and rename things as you tweak your system to work for your own needs!
Just jump on it, start using it, and don’t be afraid to move and merge and rename as you grow comfortable with the program and familiar with your requirements.
If you have any further questions, just let me know!
~ A real week in our simple, classical, holistic homeschool ~
Summer Term, week 1
Yes, we started school this week. I know we aren’t the only ones, but we are still the rare ones. However, we’ve been off school since early May, we will take all December off, and we take a week off after every six weeks of work. So it’s worth it to begin in early July.
I’ve shared all about our plans and still have a few more posts based on questions you’ve asked, but it was exciting this week to actually start putting those plans into action and seeing if they were going to roll or if the wheels would come off utterly.
I think we’re on a roll.
~ Good Start! ~
I think this has been the smoothest first week of school we’ve had yet! It’s just possible that I’ve actually been learning the lessons over these years as I’ve written my way through them. Practice does help. It helps not only my own expectations and ability to anticipate and plan for the sticking points, but it also helps the kids. This year the expectations of my older two and my own expectations were much more in line than in previous years. Previously, I didn’t think to prep them or talk them through some things beforehand. This year, I casually brought up my plans and changes and what our flow might look like here and there for two or three weeks beforehand, and I think that really helped smooth the way.
~ Bad Reactions ~
One of the primary stressors in a homeschooling day is always juggling multiple people’s needs, requests, and busyness. I don’t want busy work. I don’t want interruptions. I don’t want lolly-gagging and thumb-twiddling. I don’t want a crowd of people hovering ‘round. I don’t want the piano playing while I’m trying to read or listen. I don’t want kids to play before their work is done. Um, actually, I don’t want to listen to a/ay/aw ever again.
I also can’t have everything I want, just like I tell the children.
Truth is, although I can manage work and lists and kids and dynamics to make things better or worse, I can’t arrange things so everything always flows tranquilly and efficiently. There’s always going to be a bit of chaos, a bit of noise, a bit of busy hubbub, and more than a bit of multiple people needing me at once.
I can, and sometimes unfortunately do, get ugly about it, but when I do, the fault and responsibility is mine, not the plan’s or the kids’.
The current quote on my weekly list reminds me what my response ought to be:
[Gratitude] is one of the chief ways that God infuses joy and resilience into the daily struggle of life. –Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Gratitude is the response I have to choose, not one I wait to come to me.
~ Beautiful Habits ~
New to us this year is incorporating ICAD into our Morning Time. The kids love it, especially during this first week of fresh crayons and colored pencils. It gives us a moment to get settled before diving into the memory work binder and it helps people (including myself) to not get antsy while listening to certain somebodies sound out words when reading turns are alternating around the table.
~ Organize your attitude: sandwich the bad between the good & beautiful; the way you tell the story, even to yourself, matters. ~