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Lately, the book Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie has been making the rounds through the classical homeschooling community.
Why has it made such an impact?
Because Teaching From Rest delves into our homeschooling and parenting insecurities and offers hope and breathing room to a hectic life from a Christian perspective. Personally, it’s given me much to muse upon as I pondered if we needed to simplify the curriculum or I was homeschooling from rest or fear.
Part 1: You Were Made for This
Part one of Teaching from Rest speaks of surrendering to our lives. We get frustrated and angry because circumstances prevent us from finishing the curriculum. The kitchen sink plugs up and we spend the day dealing with it instead of the intricate history project we planned. Our teenage daughter arrives in tears from a broken heart just as we’re about to sit down and do phonics.
This is life. Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie speaks of letting go of our perfect day and dealing with life as it is. There is no perfect day, no perfect week, and no perfect life. We have to deal with interruptions, emergencies, broken hearts, and our daily tasks. Life is learning to accept what is sent to us with grace and acceptance.
As long as we do our best, our best will be enough. The question becomes though, are we doing our best? Are we striving for excellence or trying to just get by and growing angry when circumstances demand we rise higher?
Part 2: He’s got this
In part 2 of Teaching From Rest, Sarah Mackenzie assures us that God has this. We need to begin the day by offering it to God and let the day flow from a state of assurance that we’re not struggling through life by ourselves.
Sarah Mackenzie also speaks that we are the moms we’re meant to be. We don’t all need to be crafty moms who adore jumping into intricate projects, moms who love to sit down with our kids on the sofa and read for hours, or even moms who take the children out for nature walks every day.
We’re who we need to be.
While we look at our failures and weaknesses, are we considering our strengths? That we can’t be both a crafty mom who spends hours every afternoon involved in history projects with our children AND the mom who sits down every afternoon to read to her children on the sofa for hours.
Our children were given to us. Be as gracious to yourself and you are to your friends.
But again, we need to bring our basket, our gifts, to the table and do our best. We can’t expect kids to thrive when we are sitting around whining about not being a crafty mom or not being a nature-loving mom.
Embrace the type of homeschooling mom you are and be the best mom you can be. If we try, each day, to be and do a little better, gradually we become better… better moms, better homeschoolers, and better people.
Part 3: Slow Down
We can’t embrace who we are if we’re running around though like a chicken with its head cut off. We need time to contemplate, to relax, to pray, and to enjoy our lives.
Curriculum needs to be something that serves our purposes, not be our taskmaster. What do you want from the curricula you are using? Why are you using it? Make it serve you and your family’s needs instead of growing frustrated because your children are moving too slowly or too quickly through it.
Slow down by keeping a relaxed schedule. I know my family does best when we have a regular routine to our days. There is a time to play, study, watch TV and movies, sleep, and eat. We wear out if our routine moves too quickly.
You don’t have to schedule your day in 15-minute increments. Instead, try for broad time increments. We study for 3 hours in the morning before breaking for a leisurely lunch and group time. Lunch is followed by 2 hours of quiet time and more studying for the older children.
Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie reminds us there is enough time for what needs to be done.
Consider what you are doing. Is it beneficial to your family? Or is it something you’re doing to keep up with the Jones? Keep things that are beneficial to your family as a whole or individuals. Prune the deadwood that keeps you running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
Part 4: We’re all in this together
Community and family are part of homeschooling. We’re not living in a vacuum and most of us live in or near a community.
Morning or group time is a wonderful method to gather together to study subjects as a family. It helps unify the family, it’s a time to sit and joke together, recite poetry together, and simply be together. Many people enjoy meeting in the morning. My family meets over lunch.
Remember to take time for yourself. Go for a walk or do something to ignite your passion. It’s possible to burn out. I think most women who’ve been homeschooling for more than a year or two have experienced it. Don’t be afraid to take some time off, try something different, do a new approach for a season.
Don’t be so desperate to have the perfect homeschool, family, and life that you forget to breathe. And read Teaching from Rest for inspiration, hope, and peace!