As is the case with our homeschooling venture, nothing ever stays the same. There is always something big to contend with, like two pediatric ICU stays in eight weeks, influenza sweeping through our house, knocking most of us down, especially Mama and the fragile asthmatic. I had pneumonia, he had a five day hospital stay. This was just after the wonderful marathon called “Christmas Week,” so we were already a bit raggedy.
So, how do you regroup after a lot of crazy hits the fan? This is how I do it. Slowly. I know the manic “post apocalyptic illness” frenzy. After sitting, or actually, slumped over on the couch for days, I had impossible lists popping through my head like fireworks. Or was that my fever? So, when I did feel better, I jumped up and started cleaning….for about five minutes…and back down I went. And homeschool?
Wait, I have kids???
Yes, it has been that bad
I always run back to my best homeschooling Friend: Good Literature. We dove back into reading the book: The Life of Our Lord by Marigold Hunt. My seven year old loves it. My thirteen year old listens as well, and I know he gets something out of it. We love the illustrations, which have a Byzantine feel to them. We’ve had some great conversations about the readings. I’ve learned a few things in Hunt’s descriptions of why Jesus used parables. This has also lead to some great discussions with Lily about the different layers of parables Jesus used in teaching His people.
Another book series we love in this house is The Cottage at Bantry Bay written by Hilda van Stockum. I read this sweet series, close to 14 years ago, to my older crowd. The nice thing about having a lot of kids across a wide age span AND sleep deprivation is you can read something years ago, and it’s like discovering and delighting in it all over again with the littles!! See? I knew there was a silver lining with sleep deprivation–book amnesia! The Cottage at Bantry Bay, along with Francie on the Run, and Pegeen, follow the O’Sullivan clan in Ireland during the 1930’s. Van Stockum uses a deft hand at interweaving the Faith into the Catholic family’s story, never heavy handed, but so authentic and delightful. Several times, I’ve wanted to run for a pen and right down different passages. There are so many rabbit trails to follow with books like these; history, questions like, “Why did Francie stay in the hospital for months with something that you’d go home in a day now?” looking at Google maps of Ireland, the different geography making up Ireland, or the time period transitioning from horse to car travel…so many things to discuss and look into together, this is how we love to learn!
A few more things we always head back to for regrouping after the storm, to rebuild the rhythm of our day beyond hospital visits, are poetry and art study. Now, don’t get panicky. This is not some extensive, crazy involved deal. I grabbed our beloved copy of Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost and picked out a few “winter” selections. This book is divided by season, it is truly a gem. We spent last year slowly making our way through the book, reading from it usually every week….sometimes putting it down and then coming back to it as the season started changing…nothing overly thought out, just making it part of what we do as a family….reading good poetry. What I appreciate with this series of “Poetry for Young People” is the poet biography at the beginning of each book, and the quick explanations of each poem, not overly so, but just enough so we aren’t lost with certain word usage or phraseology.
Art study has gotten a lot easier since I’ve purchased a few items from Simply Charlotte Mason. Simple is the key word here. Sonya has done a nice job putting together different art kits for several famous artists. You have the option of either buying a hard copy with the prints sent to you of the chosen artist, or you can download them. I’ve bought the hard copy, it just works better for us instead of me trying to print it out with the usually empty ink cartridges. In the kit is a short biography of the artist, along with a half dozen or so of the artist’s famous prints on nice quality heavy card stock. You will find in the booklet, along with the biography, a short conversation starter for each picture. I like that these prompts are simply starting the conversation, gently pointing out a few key symbols and points that the artist was using, and leaving the rest to discuss. We have used Van Eyck and are just starting Monet. Both my 7 and 13 year old sit in on this, together, making for some interesting conversation between us on the cozy couch.
So, there you have it: good literature, poetry and art–the trifecta of recovery after a long haul of interruption called Life. Saying to my shell shocked, tired kids, “Hey let’s go run to the table for Math, kids!” doesn’t quite invoke a positive response. Couch time with some of our fav friends, a better kind of medicine indeed! I also want to say that literature, poetry, and art aren’t the “extras” of homeschooling….they ARE home education. Yes, we put due emphasis on math and other areas of study, but I focus on the three areas mentioned because they are the areas with the most bang for your buck, the “beauty” that points to the Truth. We cover a lot of ground just through reading together and discussing what we read, including Catechism, history, science, geography and so much more.
What do you like to do in easing back into your homeschool routine after an unexpected break? I do have to say, dark chocolate, as always, is part of my recovery tool kit. Who am I fooling, it’s part of my daily coping and stress relief.