Atmosphere at the End of the School Year

I am sitting in the middle of our office with a mess atmosphere that shows pieces of us – boxes for Ebay and Amazon sales. A washi tape collection that might be a little out of control. Picture books scattered around the room where the boys have lounged “just to be near us” (sappy heart eyes). Instruments, tools, craft supplies and unorganized papers round it out. And somewhere under the papers there is likely a mug or two from coffee time past.

My Amazon Music is on The Piano Guys Station – it’s been a favorite for a while, though every now and then something that is not instrumental gets played and needs to be thumbed down to keep the play list in line.

This is my life right now – a little bit messy, a little bit out of order, but comfortable, known and peaceful. And that would be an accurate description of our current state of school right now.

While my school calendar schedule, created in the optimism that comes with every fresh fall school year, boldly states the last day of school being last week – our reality is a little different. School did not, in fact, end last week despite the little box marked the 19th saying “LAST DAY.”

I want to say “I broke my ankle a few months ago and that slowed the pace down.” Or “Paul was out of town for two weeks and that threw us off.” Or “We went on a week long business trip (but did sneak in some educational experiences.)” Or maybe try to blame my mom and sister for their one week visit where we didn’t do any school. (kidding. not about the no school. but about blaming them.) But while all those are valid and slowed us down, the fact is we seem to always have something that challenges our well laid plans. And while we fight valiantly for diligence and faithfulness and respecting deadlines we also have learned that flexibility is important and sometimes taking longer and truly absorbing trumps trying to shove it all in.

When we were first married I took such pride in making my husband dinner every evening. And evening after evening I would watch in horror as he would rapidly wolf down his meal. Fork to plate to mouth, repeat. When I finally shared my despair he told me he had been trained to eat that way with the military – he had so few moments in which to eat and so rapid eating was the solution. It may have worked perfectly with a drill sergeant standing watch nearby barking out orders, but it most definitely did not work at a cutely set table with a wife who had labored hard to cook a dinner. He adjusted speed, and the atmosphere changed. Instead of a rushed affair, or an unbalanced one where his plate sat empty and I was a quarter way through my own, it became relaxed. A place to enjoy what was before us, a place to unwind and to relish the moment.

This is the truth I have discovered with school.

Charlotte Mason said; “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life. - Charlotte Mason Quote(print available here)

There are parts to make up the whole of education, and that atmosphere is so very important. And while a cozy home, a plump couch (we don’t even own a couch…), vintage wall hangings, hardwood floors, white walls, hardback first editions, Anthro rugs and an impressive nature table display all look alluring none of those truly serve to set the foundation of atmosphere. An atmosphere may be furnished with things, but it is built by people.

Rushed, joyful, rigid, deadline driven, thankful, strict, frantic, giving grace, always trying to play catch up, lazy, laughter.

Who we are, what we idealize and what we focus on sets the tone for the atmosphere in our home.

And so when life sets us back from our schedule we still get to choose the atmosphere in our home – other life circumstances may dictate whether the option exists to continue on slowly or if you are needing to hunker down and work harder and faster. Sometimes that discipline part of education needs to be the leader of the pack, but it can still be done from a calm, joy filled, gracious attitude. Herding the children through the lessons remembering they are persons and the books serve you, you are not servants to them.
We are actually working within some deadline constraints to get certain things completed, and other things will be worked on through the summer. It’s a mixed basket and it is what works for us. 

I have so much to share about our school year for grades four and grades three this year, questions to answer and resources we have enjoyed and I hope to get to those this week. I have had computer issues for months and my sweet husband recently bought me a new computer that works like a dream and now I want to write all the things … it has been so lovely working with a computer that, well, works.

If you have any questions please send them my way and I will get these updates out in the next week.



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