I think any homeschooling mom is bound to have a week that is more enlightening than successful, and that is how I would label my Around the World week. Theoretically, the week was a fun one, as I made a bag for each continent with fun activities, toys, and craft projects that I gave Aria each day. As well-planned as the week was, I personally hit the mid-semester slump and had a really hard time powering through. I look at my friends whose husbands travel or are gone for years at a time with the military with such admiration. Zach serves in the reserves one weekend a month, and that two weeks of no break from the girls and very little time with my husband starts to get to my introverted self. My functionality and passion slowly wanes, and this week (and theme) was a prime example of that. However, I think I also got a lot of clarity on myself as a homeschooling parent and also with how I want to teach Around the World next year, so I cannot count it as a loss. So, I’m going to share my insights with you today and hopefully I can encourage someone else struggling, or you can encourage me!
I think studying the continents of the world is one of the best ideas for preschool aged children, as you cannot develop a global mindset in kids early enough! However, I also 100% know that one week is far too rushed for an Around the World unit, especially trying to do 7 days worth of material with no breaks between units. I knew it was a long shot, but I wanted something to keep the kids busy with, as they are having trouble with their dad being gone so much. By Saturday, I was so drained that I barely kept the house clean. I was so glad I prepped dinner ahead of time that day! However, I do think that this could easily lend itself to a 7 week unit, and I absolutely plan to do that next year. The Arctic unit already covers Antarctica, and I could easily mix in the animals of the world unit so that it would not be a separate week. Not only that, but we could more thoroughly study habitats in different continents like jungles and deserts. I also plan to do a two week North America unit, one simply for the USA and one for North America as a whole. So, voila, 8 weeks of next year are all planned out and now I can start collecting materials and building boxes in preparation for the units next year. Please check out the Montessori Continent Boxes link in the lesson plans, because it is such an amazing ideas for small kids and could even be busy boxes in your home if you don’t have time for continent units!
The other insight I had this week had to do with taking my wins where I get them. This is my time to brag on Aria, because I’ve never in my life met a more creative child. As unfortunate as it is for me to lose my motivation in a unit and not spend as much time on the theme as I should, the free time gives Aria a lot of time to create from her own imagination. And does that girl love to create. I’ve attached some pictures of her artwork. Recently, she has wanted to “write” her on books, so she colors 5-6 pages, hole punches and connects them together with pipe cleaners, and then “reads” me her story. She came up with the idea by herself, and I’m constantly astonished at the depth of her creativity. This morning, she decided to make her own stuffed animal, so she made a face and outfit, filled two papers with cotton balls, and then asked me to staple it closed. Brilliant! So, the time that you don’t fill with school can be school even without your child knowing it. Aria doesn’t know that what she is doing is basically art class, but she is having fun. Perhaps in these moments where I’m so disappointed in myself that we aren’t doing a lesson, I should be instead proud that I am fulfilling my homeschool mission statement of making school a way of life and not hours on a clock for my girls.
Anyways, I realize that you read this blog thinking it would be an Around the World blog, yet it became something else entirely. How do we as moms truly embrace both the idea of structured learning (aka, we still did workbook work and learned the names of the continents even when we didn’t do all of the crafts and science experiments I planned out), while also fully allowing our kids to be creative and allowing them to be creative and break away from the structured when the creative juices begin to flow? Feel free to give me your thoughts and personal parenting observations, as I think there are so many people out there who have it down more than me and can give me great advice!
Jessica and Ana
Our Homeschooling Mission Statement: We will strive to be patient, godly examples to our children, integrating biblical principles and morality into every subject. Learning should be fun. We will foster an attitude of lifelong curiosity and play while providing the best possible education we can through books, art, technology, food, tactile activities, and cultural experiences. Learning will not be dictated by hours on a clock but will be a way of life for our families.