I suppose I might accurately describe this week as our first week of (un)schooling. It was nothing very structured, mind you, but in a flexible sort of fashion we were able to incorporate a new morning time routine into three of our weekdays—though not always in the morning. They were really rather simple—a combination of music, literature, and exercise—without any sort timeline or table to keep up with. The truth is I didn’t actually plan anything. It has been my parental experience that planning is the enemy of productivity; preparation, on the other hand, is much more useful. And so it was that I did at least sketch out the forthcoming days; and the children, I think, responded rather beautifully to it.
There was zero resistance to reading when the time came and only mild moping on the part of my four year old about the lack of television. Otherwise, the days transitioned rather seamlessly from one activity to the next and it seemed to me that the children were calmer and more content throughout the week as a result of the new rhythm. This coming week I intend to add some finger plays to our story time for the benefit of my two year old who, while cooperative, isn’t necessarily captivated by our materials—longer picture books, generally, and a chapter or two from a middle grade novel. (The short picture and board books of her choosing get read before nap and bed times.)
It was my intention to include scripture in our morning time as well but I had some difficulty with the logistics—initially with reading aloud while trying to prepare breakfast for the children and then myself and then, with the audio application on my phone that decided not to cooperate. We’ll have to work through the kinks this week, I guess.
It was the nature walks that I found most challenging—not the walking itself, of course, but the mental and physical chore that is leaving the house with children. Plus, it rained nearly every day this week—everyday that we were out, anyway—though the children didn’t mind. (Why should they, they aren’t laundering wet clothes and scraping mud off the boots.) And it was good exercise. Because in addition to jumping in puddles, picking up slugs, and poking at earth worms, we ran uphill intervals—well, I did anyway, and the kids joined in here and there.
In addition to the nature walks, we were able to attend a few outdoor activities hosted by local non-profit organizations: a sunset tide pool walk and a morning hike along the bluff reserves. The hike along the bluffs isn’t particularly new for us, though the guided part is, and I learned a lot while we managed to stay with the group. But after an hour of meandering, my littlest, who isn’t quite as interested in native fauna or the conservation history of the El Segundo Blue, was ready to leave. The tide pool walk, on the other hand, was brand spanking new and a lot of fun. We found lots of cuddly creatures and the children even managed enough courage to touch a few: or one, in the girl’s case. She would not touch the anemones, hermit crabs, urchins, or starfish, but tell her to stick a finger in the hole of a burrowing clam…sure. (Well they do spit water and that’s just plain fun.)
In summary, a lot of books and a lot of nature. But this is only the beginning. Our morning time is where the sand meets the sea, a place to get our feet wet before walking deeper. And I am already inspired.