Several schools began their new school year on August 1st. I cringed. August is still summertime. Still playtime. Still pool time. Still popsicles-and-squirt-guns-and-picnics-with-friends time. It's only August 5th.
But, the gearing-up-for-autumn and making-plans-for-the-holidays has begun for many. I saw an enormous Christmas display the other day. I cringed again. It's only August 5th. Not mid-way through the month. Not close to autumn. Just the beginning of another warm, summer month.
Be what it may, though, we each have our routine to find and our calendars to manage as a new month begins. For us, summer is still going strong. After a full month of friends and swimming and VBS and birthdays in June, and after a whirlwind of travelling most of July, we're looking forward spending our August days a little quieter. Maybe swimming at our local pool, or taking advantage of free kids bowling (finally!), or catching a few free kids movies on Thursday's at our local theater. Autumn will come soon enough and, goodness gracious, the lights and the trees and the gift-shopping will be all-consuming by November.
For now, it's August 5th. And we're happy to welcome August and enjoy the simple routine we've got going.
When will school start? I'm not sure because it never really stopped. The boys and I have "done school" throughout the summer in a casual sort of way. In a way that, hopefully over time, will show them that learning isn't segmented into certain months during certain times of the year.
Aside from daily math and reading lessons, Micah enjoyed several experiments we did with magnets, and Grady Lee has spent hours watching ants scurry and dig in his ant farm. Together we did an interesting unit on weather to learn about climates and temperatures around the world, what different storm systems look like, and how water has followed and will follow the same God-created cycle for the rest of time. We went easy on history, but even then, we've read a lot and visited plenty of museums to make up for textbook lessons.
We also spent a couple of weeks learning about the armor of God. My goal was to memorize the Bible passage as well, but that hasn't fully happened yet. But, in-depth study about God's armor has provided a new launching pad for discussion during discipline regarding personal temptations and choices. Using biblical truths that my kids can tangibly understand brings a new level of meaning to lessons in character and integrity.
But it's not just my kids that need to learn about God's big world and how to make sense of it. I do, too. I read several books this summer and I want to suggest the following if you're looking for a good read that will challenge thought and behavior. These aren't feel-good books or turn-off-your-brain-and-relax books. But, they are easy-to-read books that will prompt change in one way or the other.
Little Pilgrim's Progress: I actually read this out loud and the kids over the last two months and they loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. Even little Annalyse would sit still and listen to some chapters. On a personal level, this book was a refreshing read of John Bunyon's classic allegory, Pligrim's Progress. This edition, however, has simplified language (think no "thee's" and "thou's" and "yonder's" and "hither's" etc.) and the journey to the Celestial City that Christian and Christiana make is from a child's viewpoint. Brilliant and captivating.
Follow Me: Read this book. And then read it again. And then find someone to have meaningful conversation with about what you read. And then plead with Jesus to make the content from the book real and personal and active in your life. Yes, the book is that powerful.
A Thomas Jefferson Education: Relationships matter in the process of learning. Information shared in a context without relationship often has little and lasting meaning. This interesting book also demonstrates why a teachers job is not to educate students, but rather to motivate and inspire students to want to self-educate. And, the desire to self-educate will, more often than not, happen in the context of a close mentor relationship. As a homeschooling mom this contained excellent viewpoints and information. Even if you're not a homeschooling mom but you care about how your kids are learning and how information is being shared with them, this offers an interesting perspective.
Heartfelt Discipline: Chances are you'll read this and realize you're parenting the wrong way: not extending enough grace to your kids; not showing enough tender nurturing to them; not demonstrating tangible methods to make decisions; and the list continues. But, if you're attuned to the scripture that's presented and the ideas that are biblically explained in this book, you'll realize that God's grace is enough for you to learn to extend it consistently to your kids; that God is patient in nurturing you so that you can demonstrate loving tenderness to your kids; and that God's Word does have all the answers for every decision you'll ever make.
Kisses From Katie: Ever wonder if you're doing enough to make an impact? Ever overwhelmed with the magnitude of needs around the world and at a loss of how to actually make a difference? Katie's story will remind you that we're not powerful enough on our own to make a significant difference for a significant number of people, but that we can make a significant difference for a precious individual in very simple ways. Changing the world by actively loving people one soul at a time is significant.
So, it's only August 5th. Is your summer ending or still going strong? It doesn't necessarily matter either way. But, it does matter that you choose to invest your time wisely because days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months quickly. Be intentional with the time you have. Invest in the lives you are connected to. And, of course, laugh, smile, and make beautiful memories in the process!