Written by Sheila Petruccelli of Sure as the World.
I always find it hard to re-start homeschooling in January. After our big break in December and all the festivities that month holds, January and February look long, dark and (if I’m being honest) overwhelming.
Even though the calendar is fresh and marks a brand new year, homeschooling is in that middle ground/no man’s land.
So we start small and we start fun. But most of all, we start with intention.
I believe in the power of intention. I know when I approach something with purpose and reverence, I see differently.
Setting an intention looks a little bit like a wish and a lot like a prayer.
During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I think a lot about where we are as individuals and as a family. I dream about where we want to go and what we want to do during the upcoming calendar year. Then, I choose a subject that somehow captures these intentions on a metaphorical level.
Below are some themes we have studied in years past and also a few ideas I’m tucking away for the future:
I felt like we found our wings and took flight the year we studied birds. I love the idea of flying, soaring and untethered freedom coupled with the safety and comfort of having somewhere to land.
Not to mention, the boys learned a lot about our feathered friends. (You can see more details of what we did here.)
Boats and Maps
We “set sail” with this nautical theme the year I was struggling with homeschooling.
What we were doing just was not working anymore and middle school was proving to be a lesson in unchartered waters. After trying to unsuccessfully fight my way through this, I took a step back and tried to embrace where we were.
Listening to Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, making paper mache boats and drawing maps of places both real and imaginary made for a great month.
My older son continued this theme of exploration by studying individual explorers and compiling a notebook full of hand-drawn maps. (I cannot recommend Mapping the World with Art by Ellen Johnston McHenry enough. It is fantastic!)
I love the idea of choosing an animal to be a mascot or totem for the year.
Need to slow down and put some foundations in place? Choose the turtle. Is everything clicking and running smoothly? Choose the eagle.
Fables are a great complement to studying the animal scientifically. Plus a mascot just begs to created: think paper mache, clay or fabric.
I love the idea of using trees metaphorically. From seed to sprout to towering, sheltering giant, they are so rich with meaning. Plus a nature study in winter can be so much fun. (Not to mention the bonus of hot chocolate when you come inside!)
Light and Rainbows
Candles, the sun, God’s promise, prisms, the color wheel. So many possibilities of illumination.
Choose a heroic person to serve as a touchstone for your year. It could be a person from history, a figure from your sacred text or even someone in your community. The lives of others have so much to teach us.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!!
Do you have big plans for starting this new year?