We have just finished our first official "Grace Week", and we all agreed that it accomplished what we were hoping for. A change of pace, a moment to rest, an opportunity to process what exactly it is that we are doing. We plan to include a monthly Grace Week for the remainder of this school year and then re-evaluate.
For those unfamiliar with Grace Week, it was started by Queen Shenaynay over at The Beehive. She did this with her daughters in their early years of homeschooling, and recently when I felt I needed a break it whispered itself in my ear, Grace. If anyone needs grace, it's me! So I did a little homework and came up with a plan. We already school year-round, so the schedule part fit perfectly. Up until now, we take breaks as we need them, a little longer break at Christmas and between academic years, and we just keep going. However, our breaks usually are just like summer break was for me growing up - do nothing. Well, what has ended up happening is I have a list of projects, way too much free time, and the kids have way too much free time, and when school gets going again we all struggle to get back into the swing of things only to find that I didn't accomplish all of my projects and they are still looming over my head! It kind of defeated the purpose of the break when it was so hard to get going again. But Grace Week is different. It's a break from the rigor of the schedule, but it is a very purposeful break. Here is what we did:
We had a little family meeting at the beginning of the week, and I laid out my expectations of the children. There would be daily Bible time, daily personal reading time, and daily exercise time. The reading could be any book of their choice, and so could the exercise. The daily Bible time was intended to be personal as we are beginning to encourage the boys to have their own daily time alone with the Lord. That part did not happen this week, so it will be a focus next month. The exercise ended up being basketball out front, bike riding, long walks, and jumping on the trampoline. Also dancing :O)
We also laid out some projects we would do together. This time it was bake bread, prepare the ground for a garden, and memorize Psalm 100. The first two did get accomplished, the memorization is still a work in progress.
Finally, we each had individual projects. I had the boys choose something they had learned that they were very excited about and create a project to present to Daddy & I after a special dinner on Saturday evening (prepared by Jirafa and myself). I really did not know how these projects would turn out, but after hours of work they each came up with something that blew us out of the water! Jirafa made himself a costume and presented a first person dramatization of George Washington's retreat from the Battle of Long Island. He used pillows "dressed" in clothes (armed with guns & swords) as additional characters and reinacted parts of the battle for us! To distinguish himself as George Washington, he even made a wig out of white paper and put a hat on top! Paco made two large drawings - one was King Philip and the Spanish Armada. The other was Queen Elizabeth and the English Navy. He described to us how the little English Navy defeated the Spanish Armada, sending them fleeing quickly away. They both were so proud of their presentations and are already talking about doing another one! Yay! It was a very entertaining evening for Daddy & I.
As for my own projects, I got two closets cleaned out, kept up my excercise routine, and worked a day on potty training our little princess. It turned out she wasn't quite ready, but rather than feel bad that we didn't accomplish it I am going to feel good that she & I got so much one on one time together.
So, for the rest of the semester we will work 3 weeks on our regular curriculum/schedule, and then we will take one Grace Week. We don't need 4-6 weeks off in the summer, and little 3 & 4 day weekends don't quite give us enough time to both accomplish a project and rest. Thank you, Queen Shenaynay for sharing this magnificent idea with the rest of us! Our family is rested, refreshed, and energized to start back on our "school schedule" tomorrow.
Later I will have to collect the thoughts swimming in my head about the correlation between this idea and the grace offered to us from the Lord. For now, I just wanted to get the facts out there and share our experience with Grace Week.