The morning had started out terribly. I admit, I nearly gave up that morning. I was tired and frustrated and nothing seemed to go right. And then, we were blessed to be invited on a Nature Hike with some very dear friends of ours. It was the perfect day to close shop and head into the mountains. It was nothing a few hours of wild and crazy play by a sandy creek on a miraculously beautiful May afternoon could not fix.
I often feel that we are shackled by curriculum that tell us what to do, that lays out every learning opportunity like a checklist. We are responsible, yes, but a curriculum can force us into a cycle of guilt and worry. We pass up opportunities to explore, engage, and just enjoy the very essence of life... all because we think we are behind or we just need to put a check mark in that box.
It is funny, isn't it, that I am here writing this post about relaxing and tossing aside books for an afternoon so that we can enjoy the moment and then talking about discipline? But they go hand in hand - truly. It was Charlotte Mason that said, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." She said we have to lay down the rails of good habits in order to fully embrace the joys in life. That with these solid rails. when life gets tumultuous and difficult, we won't give in to our weaker selves... too much.
Was going on this hike giving in? Did we fall off the rails? No! This was real learning. These are the moments when true education takes place. You can't just read about nature, science, or any subject and truly have it come to life. You must set the spark in order to kindle a flame. That morning when everything was going wrong was a perfect example of discipline. We knew that closing our books, packing our backpack, and heading into the mountains was more important. We could have closed our books, I could have let them turn on the TV, and then went and hid in my room with a book or browsed Instagram for hours, instead.
Discipline is found in our choices. Remember, discipline doesn't mean being harsh with oneself or others. The core to discipline is knowledge and instruction. This homeschool life is not easy. It comes with great challenges and sometimes those challenges are our very own weak selves. You don't have to be a slave to a curriculum or to anyone else's homeschool in order to give your children the very best education possible. Let me repeat that because it is vitally important: You don't have to be a slave to a curriculum or to anyone else's homeschool in order to give your children the very best education possible.
You are a disciple on a path to learn more about the greatest of God's gifts and that doesn't always happen at the table with a textbook before you. Use curriculum to give you a backbone, if necessary, but never become a slave to it. Embrace the opportunities that come knocking, these are the moments in which true education takes place.