What is THAT?
Organic school….what is it and what does it look like? Well, for the Clark household, it looks like life. It looks like children doing chores, it looks like siblings taking care of one another, it looks like family members talking and sharing thoughts, ideas and struggles. It just looks real.
Once we had dealt with the issues that Father laid on our hearts (rhythm/routine, order, discipline, etc) we began looking at our family and deciding what it was that we wanted our school to produce. What things did we want our children to be equipped with, when they left our home?
We wanted our children to experience exceptional family relationships. We wanted our children to think that God’s involvement in daily life to be normal. We wanted our children to see all education as a means of worship. We wanted to help our children to mature and gain further skills in conjunction to the gifts that the Lord had placed within them. Beyond that, we had a few things that we considered “non-negotiable” for each child. (At least to the best of each of their abilities. We understood that each child would not demonstrate the same level of skills in each department.) Those non-negotiables are: math skills and communication skills. (This would include both reading and writing skills and personal learning skills.)
That’s it. Really truly nothing else? Nope. Why? Because every bit of knowledge that either Jeff or I have in any other field has come from learning that we have done on our own. Our desire is to train our children to learn on their own, so that anything they need, they are able to go after on their own.
Does this mean our children have no knowledge of science or history? No, that’s not what it means. Right now, my son’s passion is Ancient Japanese history….this week. A few weeks ago, it was The Titanic. Before that, it was WW II. Daughter number 2 thrills over study of the Middle Ages, daughter number 3 is an animal NUT. (Especially horses.) There is very little that she can not discuss with someone in conjunction to virtually any animal. They are all crazy about literature. Any one day you might find children reading anything from Shakespeare to Calvin & Hobbs. There is no way I could keep up with all the things that they want to study or read.
So, what might a homeschool day look like at our house? The day is divided into 2 parts. The morning is for serving the family. The afternoon is for pursuing your own gifts. It’s that simple.
Each morning is spent either working with or for someone else in the family. The person who is dinner helper gets dinner done in the morning. The person who does laundry works on that in the morning. The person who reads to the baby does that in the morning. The person who is helping the Littles with their “unit study” work does it in the morning. Family read aloud is done in the morning.
The afternoon then is all for your “own” work. The Bigs complete their independent work, as well as each of us taking time to be on the computer. The Littles may work on art, they may write a book, they might go visit the neighbor to work on their hand sewing, they might clean in their bedroom. Each child has some freedom to orchestrate their own time.
The day then returns to “together” time, as we gather back together around the dinner table, to share the new things we’ve learned or stories about the people that we had contact with. This allows us to end the day with our hearts tied to one another anew.
Gulp! Have we lost our minds? Allowing children to have freedom over their own time??!! Quite likely, but it seems to us that some of the hardest things that college students or young adults struggle with (or older adults, for that matter) is learning how to be disciplined and responsible for their own time. We want our children to learn that here, in the safety of our home. We want them to learn with us, how to depend on the Holy Spirit to help us take dominion of the things in our “kingdom.” So, in addition to daily freedom, each child is accountable to us for the way that they spend that time. We do assign some tasks that we expect them to do, so there is still a measure of parental control over the work they’re doing.
Most importantly, our school operates in peace. There is no screaming (including mine), fussing or arguing allowed. If there is any kind of strained relationships, we stop everything else and deal with them. We have time to notice God. Yesterday, we had hoar frost on everything. We took the time to enjoy it…we took pictures of it, we went outside to be in awe of what God had done. We just delighted in what our Lord had done.
Life is never boring and our children are thriving. But, most important of all? We are not giving away time, precious irreplaceable time, to things that are not important. Our time is given to building relationships with one another and with God. We talk together, we think together, we study together and we “create” together. I can’t imagine living any other way.
(Please, if this brings up any specific ….or quasi-specific questions, please feel free to ask. While I would love for you to find this same type of school format for your household – for the peace, for the depth of relationships, for the delight of Father and Jesus – I’m not delusional. I know that each household will look differently. Each home will be a beautiful reflection of the character of our Lord! So, feel free to throw any questions you might have, into the ring.)