“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV).
Growing up in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I learned and loved the rhythm of the seasons. A new school year brought the smell of new leather shoes and book bag, the beauty of the changing leaves, riding the yellow school bus, meeting new teachers, and seeing friends at school. Winter brought the snow-covered yards and park, the warmth emanating from the floor, the smell and taste of Swiss Miss Cocoa and toasted cheese bread. Frozen in my mind is the image of the white birch tree in our front yard laden with clear ice. I can hear how the branches creaked under the weight, how they hung low in the morning, and how they rose as the ice melted over the course of the day. I have never seen anything like that since then.
My favorite seasons are fall and winter. I have lived in California for over twenty years, yet I still long for the lovely seasonal sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. I want to share them with my children. Cocoa is easy enough to obtain, but I cannot share many of the sights and sounds I remember from my childhood. The memories of those seasons are part of my past; my children are acquiring their own distinct memories. What will they remember forty years from now? How will they mark the seasons of their early lives? How can I impart to them an appreciation of nature and life’s seasons from a godly perspective?
My children have not attended public school. Their early education is already so different from my own, and it is on a completely different trajectory. Instead of being encouraged to succeed academically because of the promise of future rewards in life, they are being encouraged to succeed in order to glorify God. Homeschooling for our family is a God-led pursuit. I would not know how else to explain how a public high school teacher would end up with this vocation. It is not what I ever expected to be doing. However, God knew. Through various articles, people, books, and the growing convictions that we could and should educate our children at home, we embarked on this pursuit that I once believed was reserved for societal misfits.
Much research was involved. I read a lot. Books that influenced me early on included Paul and Gena Suarez’s Homeschooling Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles, Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Trained Mind, and Karen Andreola’s Charlotte Mason Companion. I joined a church-based homeschool network before my oldest child was three years old. I attended homeschool conferences and conventions. I steeped myself in the world of homeschooling and became a student, opening myself to what God would show me. At every step of the way I found encouragement. My research only affirmed God’s leading.
We are grateful for the blessing of being able to choose whether and how to homeschool. Early on in this research phase, the classical approach attracted me because of its orderliness, its focus on incremental mastery, its rigor, and its acknowledgement of learning stages that correspond to intellectual development. It is a distinct blessing to be part of the Classical Conversations community where we can spend the better part of a school day with families who are like-minded. Sharing the school year with our Classical Conversations community encourages us to pursue excellence, provides a rich resource of academic stimulation, and offers a supportive group of families in which to share the joys and challenges of homeschool life.
During this season that begins the school year and looks forward to the coming holidays, instead of waiting on the corner for the yellow school bus, my children begin the day sitting with me on the sofa while I read a passage of Scripture. Instead of morning recess on the black top, we take a walk on a local trail and observe seasonal nature. In the afternoon we often have tea and cookies while I read a wonderful piece of literature. We are currently working our way through The Lord of the Rings. All the day we are learning about God and this world He made. I pray that our seasons will always be marked by this pursuit and that my children will mark each season of their lives in submission to God’s will and in gratitude for His provision.