Routine is Beauty
“Routine is Beauty,” Mark Berchum, founder of NET Ministries told his trainees before they begin a year-long work as missionaries around the country. For the length of a school year, the 8-11 young adults compiling a variety of teams were given the keys to a van, a schedule and hit the road. Generally, a team spent no more than one to two nights in their host homes. Occasionally, they stayed a luxurious three nights. Each day presented a new home, new sleeping arrangement, a new combination of roommates from the team, a new church where the work would be done and new personalities to encounter during that work.
It was many years ago when I spent a year doing this work. Despite the sleep deprivation and unexpectedness of what our days would look like, I took the advice to heart and developed a morning routine to ground myself and maintain a sense of familiarity when all else seemed uncertain or out my control. Routine is Beauty.
I revisited this advice during my son’s days in the hospitals when based in his hospital room in a strange city. His day might be uncertain, but mine, away from the tasks of home and needs of my other children, felt terribly empty. The routine gave me something to do, something to expect, rely on, plan on during days when I could have lost myself through social media, television shows and movies.
In the face of a new school year, I come to it once more. With the encouragement of Denair Unified School District Superintendent Terry Metzger to local parents to develop learning routines with their children who are facing another year of distance learning, I thought this a golden opportunity to discuss one example of a learning routine.
The Morning Basket
It has been my experience that the routine expectation by children of what is coming next saves a lot of words. Words take thought and thought takes energy, so word-saving devices are essential to my parenting practice. If after every meal, we do “after-meal chores” and after every after-breakfast chore session, school commences, the children are mentally and emotionally prepared. I have to keep on my toes to makes sure my little hooligans do not escape into the world of fantasy and play at that moment instead, the interruption of which causes untold volumes of emotion (rage, disappointment) to sputter from their innocent hearts through their mouths in the form of complaining.
Assuming I have kept a leash on them, successfully tidied after the meal without losing my own thoughts into the world of projects, we begin our learning routine with group work commonly called The Morning Basket. In my home, this includes morning prayers, a hymn, a seasonal folk song, poetry (memorization) a read-aloud picture book. The older grades are then dismissed to work independently (some days more successfully than others) while I combine subjects with the younger grades.
For myself this routine at the outset of the day is not only pleasant for the children, but helps to focus my mind to my commitment as their teacher when I am apt to prefer to “get things done” on my own around the house. The children are not the only ones to wander off after a meal.
From there, my involvement with the subjects shift based on the student’s needs and work to be done. I cannot quite yet predict what this school year will look like but I do know the morning routine of togetherness gets us off on the right foot.
If you are parent you may be a returning homeschool parents, have made the choice to homeschool for the first time, or be starting the school year with the still-unpredictable distance-learning program from your brick-and-mortar school.
Every method is a challenge.
Every method carries with it a sense that we are not giving enough, that what we give is not given well enough or what we are is not enough. Schooling from home, in whatever format, becomes a bootcamp working on our perspective of ourselves, our world, our view of education, our ability to commit to a task we might not choose for ourselves, and our feelings towards our children.
This year it may be easy to fall into wishful thinking or resentment, regret and displeasure. Those moments are bound to crop up, but need not define the sum of the year. This year is also an invitation to practice acceptance, patience and grit. If I am on board, my children are more likely to be on board, too. If I am willing to tackle hard things, maybe they will be, too.