Saturday, April 20, 2013


Lately Lilah has been complaining that she is bored.  Bored?  I asked myself how she could possibly be bored.....we are busy every day with activities.  We see our friends often.  She is outside almost every afternoon.  She has her art products, her books and her toys.  Bored.  Hmm.......

......after much thought about this, I realized that she is not bored with how we are living.  I think she is bored with what we are learning.  I think our lessons have become routine and uninspiring.  We are pushing to get things done and that always takes the joy out of learning.  I think it is time to shake things up a bit.

It is hard to admit that I constantly have to remind myself to not get bogged down by what I feel we must do.  Like we must finish Story of the World by May 31.  We must complete the geography page on  When I get like this, I close the door to the spontaneous learning opportunities that the girls love so much.  No matter how hard I try, there are times when I slip into my old way of thinking that new curriculum is meant for September and we should be finishing up now, not starting something new.  

This got me to thinking...when was the last time I strew things around the house to be discovered by my curious daughters?  When was the last time we went to the library?  When was the last time we took a hike?   This got me to thinking.....why don’t be bring our audio books into the house?  Why do they only live in the car?  Why don’t we play more music while making dinner and doing laundry?  Why don’t we jump on the train one day with no where to go and have an adventure?  Why don’t we empty our bookshelves and discover what gems we have that have yet to be discovered gathering dust on a lonely shelf?

So at 6:30am, I began to tear through our material.  I was completely and totally inspired to make a change.  Hopefully it will be the change that Lilah is looking for so she no longer has that feeling of “boredom”.   

  • I ordered Herb Fairies.  I have been waiting a year for this to be re-released.  Beginning this in spring is just perfect. 
  • I found art an art kit on Matisse that is unopened.  
  • I pulled out our the study of our town that we abandoned when our friends (who we were doing this with) moved away.
  • I pulled out the girl’s Bibles, since Grace commented she would like to make her Bible look like mine.  That could be a fabulous project!
  • I loaded up a basket with books on calligraphy, doodling, and a biography or two that I think they would find interesting.  I left in in the living room to be discovered.  
  • I added a trip to the library to our calendar this week.
  • I took our microscope out of its case and displayed it proudly.  It is begging to be taken outside.
  • I took some suggestions from Mary and Theresa and ordered a book by Richard J. Maybury about politics which is a natural extension of Grace’s government class this past fall.  I ordered a $15 kit on the solar system from Thames and Kosmos which will deliver next week and we will complete while we wait for Candy Chemistry, which is on back order.  

I am glad that Lilah complained of boredom.  It gave me a new perspective on our learning, on what is working and what is not.  This is par for the course of a homeschooling family.  Unlike in school, where the curriculum is set for the year, ours is constantly morphing to meet the needs of developing children.  Because we do not work on a 180 day calendar,  we have the ability to stop, reflect, and refocus.  Our learning has no start date, no end date and is constant.  It flows from season to season.  It lingers on some topics and swiftly passes others by.  

I am excited to launch into new explorations and revisit some projects we began but never completed.  Who knows where this will lead us.  


Frogcreek said...

I waited a day to late and missed out on Herb fairies last week... Guess I will have to wait. I am interested in hearing how you both like it.
I think it's easy to get stuck in a rut during the winter. I just lack motivation and desire to do stuff. I find that we wear ourselves out happily in spring and summer. It feels so good to mix things up and put out stuff that you have forgotten about!

Jessica said...

I have not downloaded everything yet. So far I have printed out a free ebook about using herbs in everyday cooking that is pretty awesome. I am hoping to get it started this week. I'll let you know how we like it!

Susan Getty said...

Herb Fairies sounds interesting!
I think it's neat that you mention creating a basket of goodies for the girls to discover in your living room. I've been thinking about that same thing for the past few days. We have a basket now with poetry books in it (for Poetry Month) but I was thinking of switching that, maybe on a routine basis, to draw the girls' attention to new things. We have SO MANY books on our shelves that do not get used!!

Jessica said...

We do too and when books are shelved they are rarely used (like Lilah's manga books). I have been trying so hard to declutter lately that I lost sight that a homeschooling family has clutter. We have books and games and magazines. We have microscopes and knitting baskets. We have notebooks and pens and pencils and paint, and I could go on and on and on. The good kind of clutter needs to stay!

Susan Getty said...

I know just what you mean! Because our house is small, and clutter tends to drive me a bit bonkers, it can be hard for me to find a good balance.

We also have a microscope that gets forgotten! I need to pull that out!

Karen said...

This is such an amazing post for so many reasons. I have never heard Keilee say she is bored...when she was little I just thought it was because she had so many things she wanted to do, but now, at 13, she has still never said it. But I thought about doing this same thing the other day. We have SO many unbelievable resources around everywhere. They kind of get pushed to the side. When I first wanted to homeschool, unschooling was what I was drawn to and I learned 'strewing' early on. I used to keep a HUGE basket on the kitchen table that I would change out every few days. You have inspired me to do JUST that right now! Can't wait to hear how this inspires your girls. Off to search and thank you Jess for this post. :)

Anonymous said...

Once again I have enjoyed reading your insight. It really makes me remember why I choose to homeschool. To make learning authentic to what my girls need and I not what I need to get done in 180 days!


Tereza Crump aka MyTreasuredCreations said...

When I find myself like you, just trying to finish, I remind myself: when was the last time I made myself finish a meal I did NOT like? When was the last time I made myself finish a book that I found full of nonsense? When was the last time I stopped in the middle of something because i lost the inspiration, only to pick it up again months later fully inspired?

I try to remember it's not a race to see who finishes the textbooks, curriculum,activities first. It's about interest, love of learning.

This past month I skipped a whole series of math exercises my DD10 did not understand and we moved on. I did not insist on making her understand the subject a week later. I have decided to put it on the back burner forever until it resurrects itself or she, my daughter, decides she needs to learn it. Right now she doesn't need to know it. If she needs it in the future she will learn it.

It's a journey. Press on! :)

Jessica said...

I just got lazy I guess and forgot that new things need to be introduced to stay inspired! We began herb fairies this week and I love it. I think they like it....but I would not say they love it. I ordered a solar system kit for $10 off Amazon from the Thames and Kosmos, the same company that makes the candy chemistry that Theresa's girls are loving. I also want to resurrect our town study and take our journals outside to color the landmarks in our town and learn more about its history. Lilah still is not overly inspired but I think she needs to look inside herself and come up with new things she wants to do as well.

Jessica said...

Do you ever have little moments of panic that if they don't learn that concept, then they won't get to college? Completely irrational....I realize this. Yet every now and then I feel like we have to check things off so I feel a sense of accomplishment. (notice the I in that statement). I have to step back and really examine what I believe in, and take a deep breath and go back to doing what is working for us.

Thank you for the words of wisdom.

Susan Getty said...

Sorry to butt into the conversation, but this struck a chord with me. I remind myself of this a lot, too. I try to step back and give myself a wider perspective, using myself as an example, and it helps me relax quite a lot. I was an "excellent student" who took tests really well. I thrived on all the praise I got for achieving good grades because I needed that confirmation in my life. BUT, now, so much of that information that I supposedly learned is either forgotten, or simply not important to me. I fully believe that being interested in learning, loving to learn, is what's important!

Jessica said...

YES! This was me. I "did school" very well. I knew what the teachers wanted and I gave them just what they asked for. I was hardly every challenged and yet when I was those are the classes I remember most.

It is interesting to me how many of us parents did really well in school, yet choose to homeschool. Or even better, how many of us were involved in the public education system as professionals and choose to homeschool. I wonder if that makes it harder for us to let go of the paradigm of what success in education means.

Please butt in any time you feel like it!

Tereza Crump aka MyTreasuredCreations said...

Hey Jessica... I fully get what you are saying. I freak out too. I doubt myself too, but I try to remember the things I wrote in my initial comment.

I also was a good student when I wanted too. And I was also a bad student when I got fed up with the system. I flunked a year in high school, just because I wanted to have fun and experience life instead of memorizing boring facts about geography, chemistry and other stuff. But here is the catch: a year later not only did I pass I was an honor student.

In Brazil, the last year of high school is devoted to basically preparing for this huge test to enter college. Not like here we have to compete for a place in college. Some colleges are private so you pay for them, but you still have to compete to get a placement. So it's like thousands of students competing for 100 seats for Medicine. If you don't get in, you have to wait until the next year.

That last year, I found out that I can study hard and passed in first place to Forestry Engineer. Math is not my strongest subject. I do pretty well up to Calculus, then I am lost. But I scored a 9 on a 10 question test (not multiple choice). The only question I missed was the calculus one. :)

Anyway... I am no genius or above average... I was just dedicated and enjoyed learning what I wanted and when I wanted. I believe we are all like that. If we have a need, we will learn!

So when I freak out... I remember those things because, although, our kids have their own personality, they have many of our traits. My DD10 is a fanatic for animals. She knows so much about animals. And we have no pets. I don't care for animals at all. But the same passion she has for animals, I have for cooking, gardening, mixed media art, books, blogging and other stuff.

You see what I mean?

I think you are right when you say that because we did well and/ or were involved with the system it is harder for us to let go. But that's where we need to conform to the NEW mentality we want to instill in our kids. WE don't want them in a box, we want them outside the box, thinking for themselves.

Press on, Jessica!! :)

PS College is a whole 'nother story. I am leaving that up completely to my kids if they will or not go to college. If I tell that to my dad he will definitely freak out. But college is not the answer to all our needs. Today with the internet, we can learn anything without ever stepping on a college campus. So we will see how that goes...

Susan Getty said...

I do think in some ways it does make it harder, but in other ways it makes it easier. At least for me. I figure since I've been there and done that, I can operate from a place of experience on knowing what I don't want to duplicate, and I have a decent sense of what is and is not important to me. On the other hand, though, in my weaker moments, I am flooded with worries!

Lula B @ said...

Hi -I stopped by to comment on your original post, Jessica, and then I found this whole wonderful conversation. Thank you, ladies! It really resonates and inspires me.

I too am one of those homeschooling mums who did very well at school because I thrived on the good grades, but who want something different for my own children. I ended up going to Oxford University and becoming a lawyer, without having ANY idea of what I REALLY enjoyed doing. It certainly wasn't being a lawyer!

One of my biggest goals is for my children to spend their childhoods discovering what they enjoy doing, and I have to be constantly vigilant about the balance between forcing my agenda on them and helping them explore the world.

Thank you, everyone, for sharing. I love Tereza's comparison with finishing a meal you don't like - I shall remember that one.


ps Last year I insisted on finishing SOTW 1 by June, but this year we are happily only a third through and we are having a WONDERFUL time meandering through projects inspired by what we read!

Jessica said...

We are not done with SOTW 2 either and I realized when Lilah told me she really loves history and loves taking it slow, that there is no need to set an arbitrary end date. We are almost back to India and I want to pause there and spend some time absorbing the culture of India, much like we did with Egypt. I want to visit a few museums in New York and enjoy learning. We could rush to finish it, we were doing several chapters a week a few months ago, but the richness of the learning process was lost.

Thank you for your comments!

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