For the last few days I have written about our plans for homeschool. It is a very intentional rhythm for my year that closely coincides with my own personal rhythm and our family rhythm.
From September to November, my children and I flow through our homeschooling plans seamlessly. We always maintain a healthy daily and weekly rhythm in these months. They tend to be focused and “head-y” at this time of year. Although yesterday’s post on world travel through stories and biographies may seem too much for the first 3-4 months of our year, they are ready for it.
For my family, December has been historically a gift-making and Christmas tradition type of month. We spend it preparing ourselves – mind, body, and spirit – for the holiday season. We may end up doing a little bit more of our “world travel” block if the kids are still interested or we may just spend the time reading about other traditions around the world for this time of year.
The next part of the school year, January to March, is my own personal inward/inhale/slump/lethargic/slow time. January usually starts off ok and then we all fade by February. The weather has a lot to do with it. At one point during my Taproot Teacher Training a couple of weeks ago, Jean or Alison mentioned that it was ok to take it easy during those times where we struggled with our own rhythm.
This was a huge light bulb moment for me.
I should be doing what I love and what gives me comfort and joy during those trying months where my energy is low. What immediately came to mind was poetry and the arts. My favourite moments in past winters are those when we all huddled together under a big blanket telling stories or reading poetry. I also loved having craft days or big painting days where we would just fill the house with artwork and colour on those cold and grey days.
In these dark months, I want to shine a light on humanity’s brighter periods – Ancient Greece and the Renaissance.
I will read aloud The Odyssey and perhaps dramatize a part of it through a shadow puppet show. We will read all the Ancient Greek myths and live in that period through looking at the architecture, philosophy, science, poetry, music, drama, art, and literature. The older ones will read biographies on some of the great thinkers and the younger ones will go deeper into the myths through creating art.
For the Renaissance, we will travel to Italy and take a look around. Some children will revisit the Dark Ages just before this time period and make comparisons. Some will study biographies of the great artists and scientists of the time, recreating their artwork through learning how to draw perspective and the elements of design. We will be immersed in the art of the time – the frescoes, the paintings, the sculptures. I will ask questions to spur dialogue on the philosophy of Humanism and the older children will compare it to the ideals of Ancient Greece. We may even go deeper and talk about religion in both contexts – where does God or gods play a role in these time periods? What does fate or destiny mean?
It is about coming together to do family art projects and having conversations about what it was like to live in this period. In these winter months, our structure will change to the Socratic method to celebrate the theme. Questions about the darkness and the light of all these civilizations we have studied thus far will be asked in relation to Ancient Greece and the Renaissance.
During this middle part of our year, I will focus on feeling. I want to move them and inspire them just as they lose a little bit of steam after the holidays by telling these stories of this moment in time where this nucleus of people were on the ultimate quest for knowledge for the sake of knowledge and beauty for the sake of beauty.
What made these places in these particular moments in history so ripe for this burst of creativity and wonder? And can I make my own home in this darker part of the year ripe for this same burst?
For my overview of my homeschool plan for this year, read this post. I will have a list of resources that I plan to use in a few days in another post. If you have any comments or questions or even other suggestions, let me know! I would love to hear any great ideas!
100 scribbles…hurriedly writing the here and now.