Morning School Time and Personal Limitations

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Here I talked about what got me thinking about changing up our Math curriculum.  And here I talked about hearing of Teaching from Rest but being afraid to read it.  And then it was fall. And it was time to start.  One small change I made last fall which did a great deal to smooth the schedule was to move as much learning as I possibly could to “morning school time”.

We established “morning school time” way back.  As a matter of fact, we used to call it “singing time” because when the children were smaller, we sang everything we possibly could.  If you need recommendations on history songs, skip counting songs, science songs, geography songs, songs on the Westminster Shorter Catechism … you name it, we sang it.  I loved that.  I really did.  It was so fun.  They enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it.  We learned, we talked and we all enjoyed it!

But as some of the children got older and began to have more “serious school work” more and more was taking place in the afternoon in the form of written work.  As in, things that Mama has to check and return for corrections.  And more checking.  And more corrections.  And things left undone and hanging over my head until the next day.  Slog.  Dread.  Drag.  Kiddos and Mama alike.

So this year I determined that we’d do as much as we possibly could together, out loud, discussion-format, assessment via conversation.  We were already doing history and science together (more on those in another post).  Instead of buying the “activity books” to go along with their Latin curriculum, I decided just to subscribe to the activity website and do the practice games together during morning school time.

But still, language/reading skills and math skills were something that seemed they should still be done individually because, well, weren’t those developmental types of things that kids of different ages couldn’t learn together?  So those activities continued to be afternoon paper-and-pencil lessons.

However, there was now so much stuffed into our day that  our schedule felt overwhelming.  The minute my feet hit the floor in the morning, I felt like I would have to take off running and not stop until bedtime.  Enough to make a girl want to swing her legs right back into the bed and not attempt it at all.  For me, a schedule detailed down to the fifteen-minute interval sounds about as appealing as volunteering for slow death by strangulation.

You see, for so long, I have lived as if the progression goes like this:

1. Figure out what a “good mom” is supposed to do.
2. Do it.
3. Suck it up and don’t complain.

True confession: I never was very good at that process.  Well, I was pretty good at Step 1.  In fact, I think I have an unhealthy, overactive imagination for Step 1.  Steps 2 and especially 3, not so much.

But what if that’s not really how it works.  What if what a mom is “supposed” to do is to know herself (and her kids) to know her personal limitations, to know what really sparks her enthusiasm (and therefore overflows to her children) and to makes plans and choices accordingly?  “But,”I would ask myself, “if my ‘personal limitations’ are affecting what I’m able to do for and with my kids, isn’t that bad?  Selfish?  Weak?  Lazy?”  And then one day my mom said to me (in a conversation on an unrelated topic, but still very applicable) “It sounds like you’re not OK with the fact that you have personal limitations.”  Bingo.

And just this morning I read a post a friend sent me on the topic of “breaking busy”.  This line jumped out at me and nearly made the tears flow.

Having a limited capacity is not a flaw in my character. It is by glorious design and for an incredible purpose: to realize my need for Him.

And also …

And that means letting our lives be about what we are meant to do,
what God created us to do,
and not just what we think we ‘should’ do.

My husband always says, “I don’t want my kids to turn out like [insert name of amazing family]’s kids.”  And when I exclaim in shock and confusion, “You don’t?!?!” he says, “I want my kids to be Sutherland kids.  If God had wanted our kids to turn out like [that family’s] kids, he would have given them to [that family].”  So wise.

So, perhaps you could say that this blog is about exploring what a “Sutherland kid” is.  Happy Friday, y’all!