I want to share something that might seem meaningless at first glance. It could potentially go without mentioning, but it was so profound for me (many things are profound for me that are routine for most, so take that with a grain of salt) that I feel I must pass it along to you.
During the winter of my second year of homeschooling, I read a delightful book by Karen Andreola entitled Pocketful of Pinecones. In it she referred to the time she spent teaching her children as “lessons”. We had always called our lesson time “school.” Two words, same implied idea, entirely different connotations.
School. The word brings images of brick buildings and, with it, a block of completely uninterrupted time wherein we would “do school.” Now, I had read enough to know the pitfalls of doing “school at home.” Our “school” looked a lot more like Karen Andreola’s lessons than they did like the school experienced by children sitting in classrooms across America. Yet school we called it. And uninterrupted I expected it to be. Imagine my frustration at expecting (rather subconsciously at times) such perfection from small children! The expectance of perfection, and the subsequent feelings of inadequacy when such perfection was not achieved, was a source of strife for me during my first couple of years as a homeschooler.
Lessons. Using this word has become freeing to me. (Silly, huh?) But hear me out! Lessons can be interrupted and picked up again later in the day. They are periods of learning spread throughout the week. Two lessons...help a child with a snack...1 lesson...take a toddler potty...and the week continues in this manner. Doing lessons, embracing interruptions, mothering our children. Using the term "lessons" also tells a more accurate story about homeschooling. Lessons are a part of what we are doing help shape our children into Godly, helpful, self-sufficient citizens. School brings with it a sort of connotation that assumes the full right of being all that is being done in the education of our children. Lessons are part of their education. The rest of it lies in other areas of the atmosphere of the home.
Yes, the more I write about it, the more it seems as though the semantics of these words may very well seem trivial. However, the word “lessons”, and all it encompasses, is a small part of what is inspiring me to create an atmosphere that mimics the lifestyle to which God has called us. Try it for a day. See if you feel set free!! If not, just write me off as a crazy, homechool mom addicted to the English language. I can live with that.