I was going to write a post about how one particular method of homeschooling has consistently failed my family, but upon reflection it seemed better to write instead about what has worked the best. Looking back over the past fifteen years, there has been one educational approach which clearly provided us with the greatest benefits - infact, with more than learning, but also beautiful memories.
Morning tea and conversation over books.
I don't know if I can explain this method much beyond its basic description, and I don't know that I would need to explain it to those who understand the special charm of morning (or afternoon) tea. There's a gentling, and a warm opening, of the spirit when one sits down at a quiet table with lovely tea cups, something delicious and freshly homemade to eat, and good books for reading and discussing.
There's also a coming together that I haven't found happening to the same degree in merely gathering at the lesson table. But maybe that is because we are girls and have a British heritage? Tea is more than a drink, it is an atmosphere. Learning around a teapot, and biscuits (cookies), and beautiful books, creates an ambience of soft sophistication, a striving to be better than we are in ordinary moments - to go more carefully, speak more intelligently, sit up straighter.
I remember learning about the Aztecs, and the history of salt, and Thomas More's Utopia, and the way sunlight on an empty plate dreams of home, and how there is a peaceful valley in my own heart after all, and so much more, over morning cups of tea and books with my daughter in our quiet homeschool room. No computer on the table for many years. No need to hurry or do anything in particular. It was gracious learning, good learning, and if I was ever to write a guide on homeschooling according to my own experience, it would be essentially thus :
* Gather flowers for a vase, or hang carboard roses in your window
* Open that window to fresh peaceful light and the voice of the old, wise breeze
* Bring a warm teapot, and your loveliest tea cups, to the table
* Bring also homebaked biscuits, or pikelets, or cupcakes, or tiny crustless sandwiches
* Ensure you are neat and tidy before you sit down
* Share a book, and conversation, and the wonderful blossoming of understanding
* When the teapot is empty, linger a while because you love the book so much
* Remember, the world is full of learning, and the young mind is eager and curious, but there's something very precious too in inviting them (with gentle loving wisdom about what they themselves don't know yet that they need) into the great conversation people have been having with each other through books and experiments over the millenia.
(Joining with Lavender Cottage & A Return to Loveliness & Roses of Inspiration)