Written by Jessica Smartt of Smartter Each Day
I remember the exact moment I knew I wanted to homeschool. I was seven months pregnant with my firstborn. (What can I say? I’m a planner.)
I was reading a homeschooling manifesto by Leigh Bortins, founder of homeschooling co-op Classical Conversations. The little book had a cover about as as boring as they come, but by the first paragraph, I was hooked. Into the book, into the lifestyle.
They went skiing. They climbed mountains. They camped and fished and built stuff. They read like crazy and tinkered with tools. I read this description of active, vivacious, curious, whole-hearted living, and I wanted in.
Homeschooling was the life for us!
I am now six years into this gig, and the longing to chase waterfalls and climb mountains is still there, hard-core and marrow-deep. I wanted to homeschool for the memories, the adventures, for stimulating love of learning and love of family — and I still want to for all those reasons.
The press of “school-ish” things is oh-so-real. Alas, some days I feel drowned in (sigh) workbooks and checklists and “please-write-more-neatly”s.
How do we stay true to the reason we chose homeschool in the first place? How do we reclaim the spark when boredom has overtaken us?
Friends, I have an answer. I am not perfect at implementing it, but I know what I’m aiming for.
That answer is traditions. Traditions are a way of making the things we value happen. I know that sounds really vague and ethereal, so I will make it hard-core practical.
Here is what traditions do for our homeschool:
- Traditions give us anchors in our day, our week, and our year to remind us what we love. We know this, of course, because that is what Christmas and weekends and meals do already. So it’s that idea, but more of it.
- Traditions punctuate the drone of monotonous life by bringing spark and joy.
- Traditions guarantee that we are spending life intentionally. We don’t just have to hope and wish —we choose what’s important, and choose how to celebrate it.
The thing I’ve discovered is that most of us have more of these already than we realize.
Maybe you want to add a few more? Here are other simple traditions to consider:
- Seasonal Bucket List – This is my go-to place to start. For whatever season is approaching, make a list of your top ten adventures you’d like to have as a family.
- Friday Fun Day – As the homeschool week ends, in warm weather you can explore nearby parks, or in colder months museums or plays. We have loved our Friday Fun Days!
- Morning Time — This ritual involves starting your day with “the good and the beautiful.” For us, this means singing a hymn, eating muffins and drinking tea, reading a devotion and a Christian biography.
- Nature sketch books – Take a weekly stroll outside and sketch something interesting.
- Weekly tea with poetry reading — Enjoy a beautiful book of poetry with a warm cup of tea.
- End-of-year ceremony — We do this with cousins who also homeschool to showcase the work of the year. We display artwork, perform music, showcase science projects, put on a play, recite poems. The grandparents love it!
- Weekly work days with rewards — Work is part of life, so work is a valuable tradition! We do a weekly work day on Friday, but everyone gets a reward at the end of the day. Kids get yummy kid-food and Mom and Dad have a take-in date when everyone is in bed. It is the best.
- Date With Mom or Date with Dads — Why not take time in the school day, if you can, to rotate a date with mom or dad? The irony is that while it seems superfluous, this may in fact be one of the most treasured memories of the year for your kids.
Don’t feel as if you need to do all of these things! But if you’re feeling like you want more meaning, more memories, and more celebrating in your homeschool, then traditions just may be the answer you’re looking for.
What a fun adventure it has been to write my very first book on this topic, Memory-Making Mom: Building Traditions That Breathe Life Into Your Home. (afflink)
If you’re longing for more depth and celebrating in your homeschool, I hope this book offers the spark you need:
A note from Jamie: Memory Making Mom hooked me as soon as I read Jessica’s guilt-free disclaimer on page one: “This is a book of suggestions, NOT a must-do manual.”
I loved her reminders to revel in ordinary adventures & her gentle push to try something new – a beautiful read that I was happy to endorse and to share with you!