Practicing Heaven on Earth
By Krystal Cano
“The joy of the Lord is an eternal ‘Well done’ echoing around in the chambers of your soul.” –Andrew Kern
The first time I heard this quote my nose wrinkled in an attempt to prevent my eyes from producing tears. The quote of course, echoed the parable of talents and left my soul pining for the return of Christ. Andrew’s words had branded my thoughts and heart leaving me excited, but the idea of waiting for my eternal “Well done” was somewhat despairing in the sense that it seemed so distant. Years later, I heard Andrew speak again. This time he modeled teaching in a way that allowed the students to experience an echo of the joy of the Lord through the discovery of a Logos. I immediately connected it to the “Well done” feeling, and then I returned to a state of wrestling. Could I really be teaching my children in a manner that robs them of their Heaven on Earth?
Since then, I have spent the years learning how to not be a thieving teacher, but a teacher who blesses my children with a flittering glimpse of the joy of the Lord. Although I still revert to robbing my children and students of this precious gift, I know I am being redeemed day by day, minute by minute, second by second. The new year, however, always seems to present a necessity for contemplation and renewal. How will I become a better mother this year? How will I become a better wife…Christian…teacher? What have I done well this past year? After all, my soul is pining for the echoes too. So here it is! Here is a list of practices I use in our homeschool that have allowed me to experience Heaven on Earth.
Despite the busy schedule, we always try to start our day with morning time which includes prayer, reading God’s Word, and reading some additional beauty. Right now we are reading a Greek Myth along with Sutcliff’s The Iliad and The Child’s Story Bible by Vos. This irritates my older children who want to eliminate morning time most days in an effort to start on what they call their “real school,” but I don’t allow it. It’s the only time we have all together these days. With basketball and volleyball schedules, I often have to push this back to a later time in the day, but it is a staple in our homeschool day. At the end of each selection, I ask my children what they delighted in during the reading. Discussing the literature would be ideal, but usually I stick to this question and of course the ever so beautiful “Should questions.”
I once heard Andrew Pudewa say reading aloud to your children is the most important thing we can do as teachers, but children need something to do with their hands to help them attend to what we are reading. Years ago, I finally listened to Mr. Pudewa and required that my children have something for their hands to do during our morning time. It really helps. Legos were too loud, so we stick to drawing, coloring, puzzles, and weaving. Even the coloring books we choose are famous paintings, which are an added bonus of beauty.
Charlotte Mason’s Time Limits
Charlotte once said that we only have so much attention to give to something. We spend an hour at least in our morning time, but it is broken up into segments so that we can give each part appropriate attention. I limit our morning time selections to one chapter of each. This prevents me from dragging on with a goal of finishing. We want wisdom and virtue, not just a completed book! For more on this, listen to Cindy Rollins’ Mason Jar podcast via the Circe institute.
Not everything has to be a discussion or comprehension quiz.
Andrew Kern and Jenny Rallens convinced me at the last CIRCE conference that I did not have to force the beauty, but I should first enjoy it with my children. Often, the lack of attention in my children drives me crazy, which leads to me using “violence” (not actual violence) to teach them Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Jenny reminded me that Aslan first played with the children. He let them feel his mane and laughed with them. I am still working on this one, but I have learned to just ask one or two questions, and to laugh, and to enjoy the morning time more. This is no easy task, so I often fail. Thank goodness for new mercies.
As I begin to think about the new year, the old year, what has worked for our homeschool, and what has not worked, these are the main practices I take with me for the good of our homeschool. These are the practices that allow me to experience a glimpse of the Joy of the Lord…a glimpse of the eternal “Well done” that will one day echo around in the chambers of my soul when our Heavenly Father says, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of the Lord.” My whole being pines for that day.
-Krystal Cano, A Classical Homeschooling Mom