It has been well over a year since my last post and a bit over a year since our family began homeschooling full-time. You may assume there exists a connection between those two facts, and you would be correct. My fingers have barely touched the keyboard for any non-essential activities, which, truth must be told, includes blogging. I have, however, been blessed with a project that has kept me from being completely consumed with my homeschool plans-- I recently published a pocket-sized book of wisdom quotes by Pope Francis, out just in time for his Apostolic Journey to the U.S. You may find it here on Amazon (as an aside, it would be perfect gift basket filler at Christmas time!).
Another link worth sharing with you today is this description of the liberal arts and the "common" arts on afterthoughtsblog.net-- they are essentially the same two categories we use in our Kirkos Caravan curriculum of storytelling theater (the liberal arts or humanities) and homesteading (the common arts or survival skills and natural sciences). I hope you are enriched, as I was, by this blog post.
This year of non-posting on homeschooling has not been unproductive, but rather one of intense learning- mostly for me, the teacher! With only slight exaggeration for dramatic effect, the landscape we passed over this past year contained both valleys of desperation and heights of joy. But such is the intensity of the vocation of parenthood, and the daily reality of taking on the seemingly overwhelming task of providing a holistic education for three bouncy and strong-willed children. I have been guided and transformed as a teacher and mother this past year by many wise women-- Sheila Carroll, who introduced me to Charlotte Mason; Leonie Caldecott, whose essay "The Kitchen Table Classroom" is a must-read for parents; the very busy and productive Sarah Mackenzie of AmongstLovelyThings.com and the Read-Aloud Revival, who introduced me to all the resources at the CiRCE Institute; Cindy Rollins of Morning Time Moms and The Mason Jar podcast; Pam Barnhill, author of the new book "Morning Basket"; and local experienced homeschooling mom friends who have pointed me in the direction of The Schole Sisters and similar initiatives in our area, as well as the relatively new curriculum The Catholic Schoolhouse, which incorporates both classical and Charlotte Mason methods.
Last but not least, my friend Ashlee Cowles, a creative writer and classical educator, has created a promising and unique educational resource website and network for traveling families called Third Culture Caravan. She has kindly invited me to contribute to the page, which I enthusiastically intend to do! At this particular moment the website is experiencing a few glitches but you can access the content on the facebook page here.
These friends and mentors have reminded me of the appropriate adage that ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY! Neither were keen minds, nor deep souls, nor good habits. In a nutshell, the wisdom imparted to me from this collection of sages, (which I must now try to live out, not just contemplate) is that persistence and patience are the keys to success. My duty as a teaching parent is to show up every day, to give my best effort, and to hand over any anxiety regarding "success" or "failure" to the One who is the real teacher in the home, invisibly shaping us with our cooperation.
September is an appropriate time to pause and reflect on all this after the frenetic pace of a Michigan summer. A cold snap a few weeks ago have provoked the maple trees to begin turning color earlier than usual, a sure sign of transition toward the quieter, more studious days indoors ahead. But not quite yet-- September is beekeeping month, when the last harvest of the season is extracted (it also happens to be National Honey Month!). So for our homesteading focus this month the children will be apprenticing with our honey business partner to learn more about the art of working with bees, and for our storytelling theater, we'll be learning and performing "The Bee Tree" by Patricia Polacco, a prolific author and illustrator from Michigan.
On behalf of the Kirkos Caravan, I wish you a leisurely Labor Day and a sweet September!