My perspective on how and what I use to educate my children has changed a bit since moving aboard our boat. When living in our house, having a dining room I could dedicate as a school room, I found myself continually “caught up, in keeping up”. Keeping up with all the wonderfully creative mammas who had made adorable printouts I just had to print and laminate. Spiral binding the pages into books, I would present it to my children, who, angels that they are, hardly looked at it or used it. Cute, educational good intentions built up with things I could possibly use one day, turned into, maybe, hopefully, the next sibling will appreciate it and use the booklet. Living in 238 sq ft, most of the cute clutter just had to go.
How did the mammas from yester-year teach their children with no adorable printouts, a slim number of books and, gasp, no iPhone, iPad or computer??? Well, if they could do it and have their children turn out as upstanding citizens in society with the little they had, why can’t I? Living aboard has made me stop and really analyze, what is cute and good vs. what is excellent and best. Sometimes what is excellent and best, is bare-bones simplicity and a slower pace.
“Keep pairing down until you find peace and harmony” is something my friend continues to tell the mammas in our home school community. I am so thankful to have found Classical Conversations (www.classicalconversations.com) six years ago. One, small spiral notebook is my textbook, from Pre-K through Sixth grade for history, geography, English, Latin, math facts and laws, and science. It is the core of information my four kids and I simultaneously memorize, which then becomes the launching pad to help me achieve the one room schoolhouse through dialectic discussions. Short or long, I find our conversations and discussions to be more fulfilling and memorable than tediously filling out worksheets.
Another thing I am realizing in our small, one room schoolhouse, are ample opportunities to focus on my children’s teachable spirits and attitudes of the heart. I understand not many children “like” school and “can’t wait” to get up in the morning to do their schoolwork. Much like many adults may not “like” their job, yet they still need to get up and go to work because they have a duty and responsibility to do so. School, if they like it or not, is my children’s job and still needs to get done. If they give me a lackluster performance, I remind them I expect their best effort in all things and will have them repeat the exercise. Life skills, work ethic, responsibility, teamwork, the ability to get along with siblings (in small spaces), self-control, respectfulness to adults and authority figures, putting forth your best effort in all things, obedience…the list can go on and on. These are not school subjects, but the building blocks that will shape my children into the adults I am raising them to be. So, each school subject presents its own new challenges as I also gently shape and mold my children’s character with these attributes and virtues in mind. A new perspective that requires perseverance. A praise-worthy one to pursue.