It's that time of year again. Planning time. Before I really get into planning, I like to think about last year. I try to give thanks first for the wonderful things. Here are things I'm most thankful for this year:
1. Reading Time with AJ(4). Every morning after chores, I sat down with AJ and read a picture book (usually from the Ambleside Online Year 0 list) and shared some nursery rhymes and songs. In term 3 I also started reading Leading Little Ones to God with him, which is a book I remember enjoying when my parents read it to me when I was little! Reading Time with AJ was a way to try to fill his love and attention tank before I got really busy with the other boys' school time. I could see that it was hard for him this year as his playmate MM(6) started school and turned into a bookworm, but this special time of connection with me was a highlight of each day for both of us.
2. Morning Time (the lessons we do together) continued to be a strength and a joy to all of us. This year at breakfast each morning I read a rotation of literature (King Arthur and Oliver Twist) and biographies (Michael Faraday, George Washington Carver), followed by our Bible and hymn memory work, and our Bible reading and narration. We then separated for chores and some individual lessons (for the oldest) or play time (for the youngest) and came back together for poetry, picture study, or composer study; grammar; foreign language; and Canadian history. Not all of it was strong...foreign language got dropped in the third term and grammar lessons became few and far between at that point too, but...
3. We were able to keep plodding on even when I was not well. In January I started having heart palpitations. This led to being diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis in February. At that point, symptoms I had been ignoring for months suddenly got worse until the synthroid kicked in about four to six weeks later. I felt good for a month or so (just in time to go to AO Camp Meeting!), then went through another three weeks of symptoms in May (back pain, chest pain and blue lips). This time, pregnancy was increasing the strain on my thyroid and I felt better again a few weeks after my synthroid dose was increased. Why is this in my "thankful" list? Looking back, the entire season feels like a blur as I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. BUT my two oldest boys grew in independence in a way that I otherwise would not have pushed them to, and it was good for them. The well-established daily routine continued, one day at a time. Yes, there were things that we dropped. But I'm still so grateful to be able to have the boys at home, even when circumstances are difficult. I like what we're learning together even when all the boxes are not being checked. This imperfection is also part of "Education is an Atmosphere." The way we deal with trials within the family is as much part of their education as anything else.
"By these things children live and we may not keep them in glass cases; if we do, they develop in succulence and softness and will not become plants of renown." (-Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, p. 97)
5. AO Camp Meeting was a huge blessing to me this April, especially as I was feeling down about what I was not accomplishing during my weakness and fatigue. The emphasis on applying Charlotte Mason's principles "however imperfectly" blessed me, as did the emphasis on prayer. I loved it, and can't wait for the audio files to come out so I can relive it. I met so many lovely people, too...Amber, Leslie, Emily, Becca, Sheena, Gabby, and Esther, who I stayed with the night before the conference; Anne, Jeannette, Brandy, and Dawn who before had only been online acquaintances.
These are the things I'm thankful for this year. I feel like #3 was the most significant, #4 was the most fun, and #5 might have the most potential (depending on how much I soak in and apply) but who can tell how they will all shake out over time?