DISCOVERING AN EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY TUCKED INTO PHILIPPIANS

A few weeks ago, a dear friend admitted to me that though she has been homeschooling for years, she's never cracked a "homeschooling book" — those ones that are filled with educational philosophies and how-to suggestions. She said this in hushed tones as though the homeschooling police would surely hear and drag her away to solitary confinement for committing such a crime.

Discovering a Simple Educational Philosophy Tucked into Philippians | www.amblefield.com

And I was reminded of a piece of wisdom my husband shared with me earlier in the year regarding Bible study. I had been worried about my lack of consistency and competency for my time with Jesus in the Word. I was envious of my husband's background with biblical languages and his ability to translate Scripture for himself. I had acquired all kinds of apps and studies and highlighters and methods, but still found myself lacking. I had compared myself to other women around me who seemed to prioritize their time with Jesus better than I did and who seemed to have such wisdom and insight for living because of their faithfulness. 

It was at this point that my sweet husband quietly told me that I was already equipped with everything I needed to understand and apply Scripture. I didn't need the special notebooks or the knowledge of interlinear language studies...all I needed was the Scriptures and the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart.

As I sat across the table from my friend, I wondered — could it be the same with homeschooling? Surely, if God has called us to this lifestyle, this way of training up our children in the way they should go, won't He also equip us for it? Without the bells and whistles, without the comparison of one philosophy against another, without the perfect schoolroom or most organized planner, and without all those books my friend felt might hold some secret to home education that she'd missed. I found my answer tucked in the middle of Paul's letter to the church in Philippi and I caught my breath as these familiar verses jumped off the page with new application and lots of grace!


Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is noble, Whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent, whatever is praiseworthy — dwell on these things, the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

— Philippians 4:8-9 (mixed versions)


Discovering an Educational Philosophy Tucked Into Philippians | www.amblefield.com

WHATEVER IS TRUE: BIBLE LESSONS, SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION, HYMN STUDIES

This will always be our starting point — the foundation we return to each day as we point our children and our own hearts to the Truth only found in Jesus Christ. We look for that Truth in the words of Scripture as we read God's story and tuck pieces into our hearts. And we find it in hymns that speak to every human emotion while pointing our hearts back to worship. 

WHATEVER IS NOBLE: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, HABIT TRAINING, BIOGRAPHY STUDIES

Academic learning is important, but we can never downplay the equal weight that character development should hold in our maturity process. This is why we intentionally dedicate time to habit training and it's why we study the lives of men and women who are characterized by their integrity. We want to see the Fruit of the Spirit being cultivated in our own hearts as well as in the lives of our children.

WHATEVER IS RIGHT: MATHEMATICS AND LOGIC

The beauty of arithmetic is that it's very black and white. There are right and wrong answers, and formulas for solving problems. We want to be comfortable with this language that gives us practical tools for day-to-day use. And beyond that, studying higher math and logic points us to the complexity and order that God used when He designed our universe.

WHATEVER IS PURE: HEALTH AND WELLNESS, PHYSICAL AND COGNITIVE EXERCISE

As a matter of stewardship, we want to treat our bodies and minds with respect and care. So, we learn and experiment to find the best ways to keep our home clean, our bodies healthy, and our minds sharp. We learn as a family about essential oils and natural remedies, growing healthy food for fueling our bodies, and practicing good hygiene habits. We give space for exercise and athletics, and spend time in the outdoors for fresh air and plenty of sunshine. And we play all kinds of games for mental stimulation work and to build a joyful family culture!  

WHATEVER IS LOVELY: ART AND MUSIC APPRECIATION AND CREATION, HANDICRAFTS

Humanity has a unique ability to appreciate and create beauty. As Image-Bearers of the Creator, we want to make space for all artistic forms within our home. As we study various art mediums and artists alongside composers and music styles, we gain a greater appreciation for the creativity in our world. And as we learn and practice new skills in the areas of art, music, and handicrafts we find fresh ways of worshipping our Creator while contributing to the feast of beauty.

WHATEVER IS ADMIRABLE: HISTORY

Looking back at the lives of men and women who explored new worlds and shaped cultures gives us a chance to search for what is admirable in history. The good deeds, the courageous acts, the tough decisions, the growth of industries, and the births of new eras all point back the greater story that God is weaving throughout the timeline of the world. Having a solid footing in where humanity has been gives us insight and wisdom for what lies ahead and how we are to carry out the message of the Gospel in each day.

WHATEVER IS EXCELLENT: LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE, POETRY, FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Our main forms of communication come through spoken language and writing. By working to ensure that our skills in these areas are excellent — if we can express ourselves well in speech and on the page — we have a greater chance for success in whatever work we do. Similarly, learning to recognize and appreciate excellent literature and poetry gives us exposure to fresh ways of expressing our perspectives, experiences, and emotions. And in a related manner, learning foreign languages expands our view of the world and allows us to connect with cultures different from our own.

WHATEVER IS PRAISEWORTHY: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

By studying the way our world works — from physics to chemistry, — and when we see how our bodies are formed — from anatomy to psychology, — and when we experience the interconnectedness of nature — from seasonal changes to ecosystems, we can't help but praise the Creator. Science and technology all point to the creativity, beauty, complexity, and masterful design that God has given to us in our world.

THE HOW

So, how do we begin incorporating these things into the education of our children — these verses give us not only the what, but also, the how. On a cognitive level, we are to dwell on them, spend time learning and receiving information about all of these things. And we are to approach this learning from all angles — visually (see), auditorily (hear), and kinesthetically (practice). And as parents, we should model this kind of learning for our children alongside them.


So there it is, a philosophy for education...really, a philosophy for living, from the pages of Scripture. Maybe it's not exactly what Paul intended in his letter to the Philippians, but it spoke to my heart in a fresh way as we get ready to start another year on this homeschooling journey. For those moments of indecision or worry, when I'm concerned if I'm covering the right things or if my boys are on track with their peers, I'm going to refer to this list as a checkpoint and hold tight to that last part of the verse...

"...and the God of peace will be with you."

HOW WE SCHEDULE SCHOOLING YEAR-ROUND

I am so thankful for the flexibility and freedom that homeschooling affords our family — especially when it comes to our calendar and schedule. Last year, we experimented with schooling year-round and discovered that it's a great fit! By breaking free of traditional methods when scheduling our school year, we were able to:

  • ...find flexibility and grace for the days when we were sick or felt tired, or when we were hit by an unexpected busy season with commitments outside the home.
  • ...coordinate several schedules across our multi-generational home (including my mom's traditional school year calendar, and transitioning my husband from second-shift to first).
  • ...look forward to consistent and substantial breaks spread throughout the year to help us avoid burnout.
  • ...have peace of mind that our schedule met and even exceeded our state's requirements for number of days in school.
  • ...prevent the typical "slump" in these summer months by keeping our brains engaged and growing — there will be no review needed when we head into next school year!

There are so many ways to structure your school calendar and I don't believe there is one right way for each family. In fact, I'm reminding myself that just because year-round schooling worked beautifully for us this year, it might not down the line. If that happens, we'll adjust and everything will be okay.

How We Schedule Schooling Year-Round | www.amblefield.com
How We Schedule Schooling Year-Round | www.amblefield.com
How We Schedule Schooling Year-Round | www.amblefield.com
How We Schedule Schooling Year-Round | www.amblefield.com

If you're interested in giving year-round schooling a try, there are many ways to organize this kind of calendar. Some prefer to have six weeks of school and then one week off — this article from Carrie is a great picture of how that can work. Another way that intrigued me was brought up in a local homeschooling Facebook group where one mama structured their calendar to start in January and alternated one month on and one month off. On the months off, this family still did their core lessons (reading, writing, and math), but with a lighter load, and more time for nature studies and field trips. Other year-round schoolers plan for a 4-day schedule and save the remaining day for co-ops or errands and music lessons. Can you see how homeschooling allows for you to tailor your calendar to fit your family's needs year to year? I'm going to briefly walk through how I've planned out next year's structure for our family.

THE DECISIONS & CALENDAR PLAY

How We Schedule Schooling Year-Round | www.amblefield.com
  1. I start by modifying a Google Spreadsheet so that each term (Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer) is clearly visible.
  2. Then, I go in and start marking off specific days that I know we'll be taking off: our birthdays, traditional Federal holidays that my husband and dad have off, extra family "holidays" that we like to save for special traditions (i.e., Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, our yearly trip to the county fair, etc.).
  3. Then, I start playing with where our seasonal breaks will land.
  • Autumn Break — one full week over Thanksgiving
  • Winter Break — two full weeks spanning Christmas to New Year's
  • Spring Break — two full weeks surrounding Easter
  • Summer Break — two full weeks surrounding July 4th
  • Refresh Break — this break (one-three weeks) falls at the end of August to mark the end of one school year and the start of another

THE GLORIOUS FLEX DAYS

Flex Days are probably my favorite part of schooling year-round! Think about it — in a traditional job, employees are typically given an allocated amount of sick, personal, and vacation days to use at their discretion throughout the course of a year. Why shouldn't our children have the same flexibility in their schedule? Enter, the Flex Days! These days are a bank of time to be used when someone is sick, when tiredness or mental fatigue threatens to derail your work, or when you need to extend an existing break. There were times this year when I looked at one of my boys and noted that they needed me in a different way that day and I knew mothering needed to take priority over teaching. So, we packed up a lunch and headed to a park or made an adventure out of swim lessons and a trip to the library. Or sometimes, we just spent the day snuggled on the couch with good books and episodes of Andy Griffith. So, how do you get these wonderful Flex Days in your life? Simple...

  • Start by adding up the actual days you have planned to do school for the year and subtract from that number the number of school days your state requires.
  • Voila! You now have a chunk of Flex Days to use as needed!

For example, we have planned to have school on 208 days in the 2017-2018 school year — in Ohio, the requirement is 180, so our bank of Flex Days will give us 28 days!

FORMAT FOR RECORD KEEPING

The final step is to put this new calendar into a format that makes it easy for me to keep track of all this information. I could simply use the Google Spreadsheet and either document our attendance digitally or on a printed copy, but I prefer to keep all information handy in my homeschool bullet journal. So, I've modified a calendex system and use it for keeping track of scheduled time off, attendance, and that Flex Day bank! I start with a simple grid for the entire year with a running column of 1-31 for the days in a given month. Every weekend is marked off with a dashed line and my weekdays are marked off with a solid line. I transfer all the scheduled days off and breaks into the calendex, but have made myself do this work in pencil, because I need to remain flexible with my plans.

How We Schedule Schooling Year-Round | www.amblefield.com

Again, this is simply one way to structure and organize a year-round schooling plan and it's very customized to what our family needs this year. At the very least, I hope this encourages you to think outside the box when it comes to the logistics of your homeschool journey. And if you'd like to give it a try using the method I've outlined above, click the button below for a free blank copy of the Google Spreadsheet I used this year — once you have it open, you can select "make a copy" from the file menu and start editing.

A MIDSUMMER CHECK-IN

As we rapidly approach the mid-way point of the season, I wanted to share a quick recap of how our family is using the Summer Organization Kit. If you haven't downloaded your free copy yet, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for the green button that gives you immediate access to the kit!

free printable monthly calendar and weekly planner

Monthly Calendars and Weekly Plan

The Weekly Plan is a great place to capture playdates, classes, family time, appointments, and more — there's even a section at the bottom to jot down meal ideas which definitely helps keep our grocery budget in check. Often, I'll utilize the extra space at the beginning or end of the monthly calendar to capture larger to-do items that still need to be scheduled. As a general rule this summer, our family wanted to be intentional about margin and white space, so I'm working hard not to fill in all those boxes. And I adore the vintage graphics featured on these pages — June's calendar gave us a soaring seagull, July is showcasing a series of shells, and August will bring an old-time fishing net!

free printable summer bucket list

Summer Bucket List

This was the main inspiration piece for the Summer Organization Kit — a simple catch-all for those good intentions I have rolling around at the start of each new season. This particular list features six sections to help organize #allthethings:

  • events: birthdays, camping weekends, county fair, etc. 
  • things to learn: the boys want to learn to climb a tree and ride their bikes without training wheels, and I'd like to learn some new sewing techniques
  • things to make: obstacle courses in the park with neighbors, new flavors of homemade popsicles, tie dye shirts, etc.
  • things to do: a summer soccer league for Daddy, host a garage sale, star gazing, mini golfing, etc.
  • people to see: playdates, family get-togethers, date nights for Daddy and Mama
  • projects to work on: clean out the garage, finish the backyard fence, build a little library, etc.
free printable routines and rhythms planner

Routines + Rhythms Planner

Daily routines and weekly rhythms are what make the world go round in our home. So when we transition from one season to the next, it's a great time to evaluate and make adjustments. In the Daily Routines section, we are prioritizing these simple pieces each day:

  • self care: making our beds, getting dressed, and taking care of our hair, face, and teeth
  • home care: feeding our fish and the birds outside, taking care of plants, and our daily chore for the day
  • time to: play outside, read, create, and a bit of quiet-and-alone time each day

Our Weekly Rhythms include things like swimming lessons, library trips, Family Friday Nights, something from our Summer Service Tracker (see below), and having the boys cook one meal for the family.

free printable service project list

Summer Service Tracker

So much of the summer is structured around our kids — our lists and calendars are filled with things to do and places to be that center on them. It's all good and part of how we love them well. But at the same time, we want to make sure we aren't paving the way for self-centeredness in their hearts. This summer, our family wanted to make sure that we intentionally prioritize blessing others each week within four key areas:

  • thankfulness: writing a note to a friend, taking cookies or donuts to our first responders or the pool lifeguards
  • generosity: donating clothes/toys to the thrift store, hosting a lemonade stand and giving the profits to charity
  • kindness: hiding notes of encouragement at the store, inviting friends to meet up for milkshakes
  • service: volunteering to walk dogs at the animal shelter, mowing a neighbor's lawn

There is no "right way" to use this resource and I hope you'll allow your own creativity to meet up with your family's unique needs as you determine if these printables could bring a little peace to the remainder of your summer. Click the button below to download your free Summer Organization Kit!

SUMMER ORGANIZATION KIT

Seasonal changes are rooted deep in my heart and every time we transition from one to the next I get the same fluttery anticipation that most people associate with the New Year. And this summer's transition marks three big changes for our family:

  • We've officially spent our first 6 months settling into new relational rhythms as a multi-generational home with my parents.
  • We're finishing our first official year of homeschooling.
  • We're pushing pause on Finding Eden Media for this next season and wrapping up our current client projects.

Each milestone sets us up for exciting changes and growth, but with the first week of summer already under our belt, I know how quickly an entire season can get away from me. Especially the summer with it's blazing temperatures and flexible schedule that make me want to spend each day with an ice cream sandwich in front of a fan.

So, I whipped up a quick set of printables to help organize my intentions and turn them into a reality! You can pop over to Instagram this week or search for the #summerorganizationkit hashtag to see how our family is using these pieces this summer. And in case you'd like to join us, click the button below to download your free copy — don't forget to share with someone who could use a little extra organization this summer! 

Free Printable Calendars and Weekly Plan
Free Printable Summer Service Tracker
Free Printable Rhythm and Routine
Free Printable Rhythm and Routine
 

The Summer Organization Kit features a fresh, beachy vibe with vintage nautical graphics and contains:

monthly calendars for june, july, and august
a weekly plan with space for meals
a summer bucket list
a routines and rhythms planner
a summer service tracker