After a summer of relative quiet and solitude, most unusual for our otherwise sociable family, the children were only too happy to resume our Autumn routine--short morning lessons, afternoons outdoors, and evenings reserved for reading and play. They were thrilled with the back-to-school bags I packed for them, small embroidered pockets filled with little treats appreciated by all. I managed to find gorgeous little drawstring bags adorned with bouillon roses and lazy daisies at a local farm store. Not only were they pleasing to the eye, but also roomy enough to hide the array of sweets and treats I'd been saving for the first day.
It is late, and my blogging is decidedly rusty after a summer of cuddling our newest treasure. Still, at the outset of this new school year, I thought you might not mind me sharing a few thoughts I had on ways to brighten and bless our children's lives:
1. Begin each day with a private petition to Our Lady.
"Dear Blessed Mother, please help me to make my home like the one in Nazareth. Give me a gentle spirit, a cheerful heart, and constant patience for these little ones entrusted to my care, through Christ our Lord. Amen."
2. Turn off the television.
Every moment spent in front of the television is time lost forever, time better spent playing or reading or chatting with you in the kitchen. Now, don't get me wrong, we'll still be watching our "Signing Time" DVDs and "Truth in the Heart" on EWTN, but even this will be done in moderation.
3. Keep the time with prayer.
Sing the Salve Regina in the morning, and pray the Angelus at noon. Chant a Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 o'clock, and recite the Rosary after dinner. Now is the time, while these domestic churches of ours are still full, to sanctify the very rhythm of our lives and grace our children with happy, holy memories.
4. Remember your dreams.
Every mother begins the adventure of home education with a beautiful dream of what her children's lives and learning will be like. Then the details get in the way. Why is it that we always find time for long division, but put picture study or poetry on the back burner? Make this the year for watercolors and wilderness walks, sewing circles and Shakespeare.
5. Get outdoors.
And I do not just mean for nature walks. Annie Sullivan believed that Helen Keller deserved to take her daily lessons under a tree where she could catch a pleasant breeze and breathe in the beauty of the world so often lost to her. Taking the books in the backyard during these last few weeks of glorious weather is heartening for all and a perfect way to keep the toddlers in the family happy.
6. Double your child's age.
It may sound silly, but imagine your child, preferably your oldest, at twice the age he or she is now. (In the twelve short years we have had Agnes, she will be twenty four years old, the same age I was when my husband and I became engaged.) Time is passing away at breakneck speed, and these are the only days we will ever have with these children. Let's not waste a single one!