Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Illuminated manuscripts and why I joke about being a lazy homeschooler

One of the largely agreed upon benefits of homeschooling, at least amongst fellow homeschooling families, is the flexibility. Sometimes that means taking a vacation in November and enjoying shorter lines at Disneyland without the concerns of kids missing class. Sometimes flexibility is a little smaller; a simple matter of watching your kids interest pique and allowing an unforeseen and unplanned diversion to take shape.

Today we read, Marguerite Makes a Book, a lovely story about Marguerite, a girl living in 15th century Paris. Her father is an aging manuscript illuminator; a highly sought after artist who is currently behind on completing a prayer book for a noble woman. When her father's glasses are broken, Marguerite takes it upon herself to complete the beautiful illuminations so the book will be complete on time.

About half way through the story, as Marguerite is painting using the paints she has just mixed herself, Grayson exclaimed that we should do a project and make our own illuminated manuscripts, just like Marguerite. Then he said he wanted to make a book of all the prayers he knows, and illustrate the pages.

Clearly the answer to that request is a resounding yes.

The results are enough to make this homeschooling mama's heart soar. First of all, multitasking awesomeness. We have art, penmanship, reading and history all rolled into one. Are you kidding me with that? Plus, they were so interested and invested in their work, they all sat at the table, carefully drawing their designs and painstakingly copying the words. It was so... quiet.

Grayson chose a prayer, while David thumbed through a book of poetry and found one he liked that wasn't too long. Ella wanted hers to look "just like Grayson's," so she watched him carefully and tried to copy his pictures.

We never made it to the other work I had laid out for the day. We had outside activities this afternoon, and this took up the time we had left before lunch. But I wouldn't trade it for all the pre-planned, checklist checking-off in the world. Today was awesome.

Are all our days this good? Well no, not really. Most days we go through our schoolwork for the day and move on to other stuff, and it is fine. But once in a while I see that light in their eyes and they come up with an idea that turns out awesome.

Days like today are why I joke about being a lazy homeschooler. I'm not really, but I have relaxed my approach and found that less is often more. I used to try to plan all sorts of projects and activities - but it was hard to keep up with them, many fell flat, and I felt like I was putting more work into all of this than was necessary. Now that I plan less, I find we do more - and not only more, but projects that interest and motivate them like nothing I could have planned for.

No comments:

Post a Comment