Thursday, October 11, 2007

Grace Week

We just completed six weeks of lessons and are taking a week off. We call it Grace Week (we discovered this idea several years ago, thanks to Lynn Bruce). Even though official lessons are on hold, the learning continues, but is less structured. I let the children make their own plans which they present to me at the beginning of the week for approval. Sometimes a child plans too much or not enough and is sent back to add a few more items or take some off of the list. The older children tell me what days they plan to do things so that they don't make the mistake of waiting until it is too late to finish something.

They look forward to the chance to work on unfinished projects, relax a little more and completely take charge of their education for a week. I take the opportunity to relax as well and work on cooking and cleaning projects, reading, research, blogging and whatever else needs catching up. We usually plan a fun outing, too. Here's a sampling of what my children chose to work on this week:

14ydd: I plan to...
-Make a craft with Little Brother.
-Finish reading The Innocence of Father Brown (from her free reading list)
-Prepare a post about it.
-Read Don Quixote (from her free reading list)
-Catch up in my personal journal
-Transfer my poems to my poetry journal
-Work on an essay about changing the life of someone in need (This particular child has a heart of mercy. She longs to care for every sad, abused village waif she finds.)
-Master Swan Lake on the piano.
-Watch the Star Wars movies and find the world view behind it.
-Post about it on my blog. (Her post is here.)
-Watch A Man for all Seasons (about the noble death of Sir Thomas More) with Mom and Dad. (She loved this; had already read the play and was looking forward to this)
-Help mom make apple butter and Turkish pickles.
-Catch up on correspondence.
-Run three days this week on our mile course.
-Work on the picking pattern I like with my guitar.
-Get out my winter clothes and write down what I need.

12ydd-My goals this week:
-add 5000 words to the book I'm writing (she's been working on this book for two years now and has written about 300 pages. It's a fantasy novel with spiritual truths and is her favorite hobby)
-Complete two books from my free reading list. (Madeleine L'Engle's books)
-Prepare a blog post about the author's world view. (Hasn't finished this yet.)
-Work on the piano composition I am writing.
-Help mom can pickles and apple butter. (We do this every autumn together.)
-Complete two more sketches to add to my portfolio.
-Catch up on correspondence.
-Add a recipe to my recipe journal. (She rarely does this but I am urging her to do so this wk.)
-Run a mile three days this week
-Work on new openings for the next chess tournament (she is part of a local chess club and has won several awards this year so she continues to work on her skills with her daddy)
-Get out my winter clothes and find out what I need. ("and write it down", replies mom)
-Work on identifying the butterflies and moths I caught this summer.
-File my schoolwork.

9ydd- I'm going to:
-Read Lassie Come Home and
-Finish reading The Railway Children
-Go through my drawers and get out my winter clothes (she squealed with delight every time she pulled out a pretty outfit from the storage box of old clothes passed down by her sisters. The funniest thing she said was, "I feel so sorry for the oldest child. She never gets to have hand-me-downs!")
-Make cookies for the neighbor (this child loves to cook)
-Make a get well card for my friend
-Teach Dear Little Brother how to ride my bike. (She did this on her own initiative and then gave her bike away to her brother as a reward. I'm very proud of her.)
-Write in my Journal (she doesn't like to do this, but I am urging her to do so)
-Add a recipe to my recipe journal.
-Help mom organize our toys.
-Practice my mandolin
-Master On the Banks of the Ohio
-and When the Saints go Marching In (on the piano)
-File my schoolwork.

5yds-I'm gonna, um... let's see: (These plans were dictated to Mom)
-Finish making my Dinosaur Book with mom and Big Sister (He is soooo happy with this book. All my kids made many books at this age from their interests. I love this simple activity for the early years.)
-Make a get well card for my sick friend. Use our NEW glitter! (He couldn't wait to use this messy stuff. I wasn't as thrilled.)
-Make a camp outside and play Rolf and the Viking Bow. (He's trying to grow his hair long so he looks like Rolf. So far I can't get his daddy to get it cut-he's beginning to look like a Maltese dog. He knows about Rolf because my 12yrdd tells him stories at night from this book she recently read.)
-Shoot my bow with Dad. goal: hit the bag (straw) (This is serious business to him. Gotta love 'em!)
-Learn to ride my bike. ( He accomplished this and earned an ice cream cone for his bruised and bloody knees- he looks a sight)
-Try on my winter clothes and clean my room with mom. (translated- "I get to destroy my room while I pull out clothing from my drawers and run around in my underwear until Mom makes me try on the next pair of pants…")
-Run with my sisters and try hard not to walk when I'm tired. (He runs too fast and wears out to soon!)
-Go to the park
-Make sure someone reads a book to me every day. (Begs us with puppy dog eyes. We reread the same books over and over again. I am so sick of dinosaur books!)

The week is not quite over but most plans on the lists are accomplished. Now for a few pics:

9yrDD making cookies

5yrDS Rolf and his Viking Bow

14 yr DD Guitar practice with a candle (electricity goes out frequently here)

12 yr DD Getting ready for the next chess tournament

Dinosaur Book and the author

Learning to ride the bike

(the author of this post... in all her beauty)
Oops! how did that picture get on here?

one step at a time...


  1. Anonymous11.10.07

    Someday when I meet you in heaven, I will ask you how you really raised these marvelous children and had the patience and organization to pull it off so flawlessly. This seems impossible to me. YET, I will try to come more often to look at your blog and gleen what I know that I can do and TRY (try,try,try) not to compare.

  2. Anonymous,
    I am sad that you sound discouraged. Please understand. I do not have the time or inclination to keep an online journal of my life-the good, the bad, the happy and sad. Every family has all of these elements, including mine. But, we are mostly happy and yes, I have marvelous children, by God's grace alone.

    However, just because I blog about my children's successes doesn't mean they are without their flaws. But I strongly feel that I do not have the right in a public forum where thousands of people read my words to divulge the little irritating character traits that my dear children have. I want them to be able to read my blog as well without being hurt by their mother's insensitivity in this area.

    I blog purposefully, albeit imperfectly (there are so many eloquent blog writers out there that run circles around me)-but I do not blog for myself. It is to encourage others in the best way I know how. If you haven't read my post FOR THE IMPERFECT FOLKS yet (,
    I hope you will. It better expresses my heart.


  3. What a wonderful idea! This sounds like something I can use during those weeks we have no school - such as Thanksgiving week. It looks like a fun taste of unschooling.

  4. Anonymous11.10.07

    I love this idea...and to have the kids write out their plans and follow through! We've past our 6 week mark...but hmmm...maybe for Tgiving time. It's great your olders can do that changing of the season clothes...I laughed when you wrote what that really means for your ds...glad to hear we have company in that regard! And I checked out your dd's Stars Wars world view...wonderful!!!

  5. Hi Lindafay, what a lovely idea to take an organised break like that, relaxing but still fruitful. We have also just swopped Summer clothes for Winter ones here; our toddler particularly enjoyed showing off hats and scarves that have been handed down to him!

  6. We school 6 weeks with 1 week off, too! It's like taking a deep breath, then jumping back in refreshed! We are wrapping up the first term of AO.

    We do 'those jobs that don't otherwise get done' during our week off. Next week it's the semi-annual "Great Clothes Swap"! We always have to buy clothes for our eldest son and daughter, as your daughter said, they don't get hand-me-downs. But Tuesday, a near-stranger brought a couple of nice sized bags with FIVE pairs of good jeans and many shirts, all sized for my eldest daughter! There were even a few shirts for my smaller daughters. Praise the Lord in His goodness!


  7. I just stopped by to tell you that I teach a missions program to girls 1st-3rd grade and we have decided (with the 4th - 6th girls) to have a tea party. It will be manners based and they will earn a badge. I sent a link to your tea parties to one of the mothers so we could start planning. It will probably be in the early spring.

    You have inspired us and if you have any ideas, feel free to pass them along. I think my hardest job will be to find someone that can teach manners/femininity and be convincing. Definately someone they do not know (Experts are from out of town!)

    I will post about it after we do it. It's still a long way off.


  8. I enjoyed your post, and hope to place something similar in place here with our schooling/life.

    I love that the "free" week is not without continued learning so to speak. it is not rushed, but relaxing and enjoyable.

    I read about a similar week on another blog last week! I wonder if someone is trying to teach me something. God moves in funny/mysterious ways.

    We are finishing up week 8. I think at week 10 we will have a week off... well not off... just different.

    Peace~ Lisa

  9. I totally agree with you about not publicizing your child's faults. My mom has always told me to watch how I speak of my children and to make it my goal to speak highly of them to others. In my blog, I have wondered if that makes me less than genuine, and I actually was going to post something about that (even before reading your blog today). I have written a little about the small issues, but only so that later I can report why the success is so much more appreciated. Anyway, your reply to "anon" is a good reminder and reinforcement to me to carefully consider my words, just as my mom has always told me.

    About your grace week ... LOVE THE IDEA! We had a review week, but calling it grace week is so much more inspiring in that the child doesn't just review but also finds interests of his own to learn about. Thanks, as always, for sharing.

  10. Hello Linda!
    I love this idea.
    It looks like your family has a lot of fun together.
    Hope you are having a wonderful day.

  11. Lindafay,
    Do you have a post or pictures of what your younger kids books are like?

  12. Anonymous11.10.07


    You are a wise and organized woman. It is so evident. I want to apologize if I sounded (for lack of a better term) "passive aggressive" in my post. You are correct. I am discouraged. In a big way. But I did not mean to suggest that you should do anything at all different in your blog. You are doing it exactly right and that is just the point. I really admire you. That is what I was trying (badly) to express.

    I thought I was doing CM, but my children do not love learning. They are not motivated at all. My children are not challenged and looking for adventure in reading.

    I am surprised that homeschooling my children would be such an experience that every sin I have ever struggled with would come up and bite me in the face. Yet God has me here for this very purpose, I feel, so that I will finally learn to rely on Him solely and deeply and trust Him in this sanctification process.

    To be able to do all this and living in a foreign land too, well, I just am amazed at it all. God has been so gracious to you. Even though it won't matter much then, I still might ask you a question or two in heaven.

    Thank you for giving others some tracks to run on that they might be able to have a lessened burden. I plan to take some more time to read as I am able. And again, I apologize if in my discouragement I discouraged any of you all at all. I am just in the trenches right now.

    Give a hug to those marvelous children. You are right, they really are.

    I will stay anonymous for now,

  13. I have been sneaking peaks at your blog and am totally, completely intrigued. I have two small boys and know I will be homeschooling, I just haven't nailed down HOW I will homeschool.

    After finding and your blog I am very much leaning toward Charlotte Mason. (We did do an impromptu "nature journal" session the other day, and my three-year-old loved drawing the trees he saw. My two-year-old loved running around, not drawing the trees so much :).)

    Thanks for your wisdom and sharing your experience!

  14. Thanks so much for sharing this peek into your life! I would love for someone to teach me how to make apple better. Funny this is I told my dh last week I'd like to learn how to shoot a bow, my boys would be in heaven. :)

  15. I've been thinking about you because Turkey has been in the news the last two days.

    It's our Grace Week too, but we have two grace weeks this fall. We're going to Pennsylvania for 10 days, leaving tomorrow.

    Blessings to you!

  16. We do a 6 on, 1 off school schedule as well, but have found the "break" often does not get used very wisely, and at the end we are (all) often saying "I should have" or "I wish I would have". Grace Week - a week set apart that is planned by the children (and supervised by parents of course) ... productive yet a break. Thank you ever so much for sharing this FANTASTIC idea. I cannot believe I did not think of doing this myself ! We are certainly going to try this on our next break (we have 4 weeks to "plan" our first Grace week).

    God Bless.

  17. I just found your blog and have enjoyed perusing it - very encouraging and inspiring for me.
    If you have a chance, would you mind elaborating on the types of books your young children make, such as the dinosaur book your son made? Thanks so much! I'll be back here often, I'm sure.

  18. We also just took a break from our regular learning. We called it fall break but in actuality we did more this week than we have in previous weeks. I was thinking of labeling it an unschooling week but I love your term of a grace week.


  19. Grace week...A wonderful idea!
    "take charge of their education"...
    I like that!
    Your children have such great goals!

  20. I love the idea of a "grace week", and loved reading that post! Thanks!

  21. Hi LindaFay, Thanks for submitting this post to the Carnival of Homeschooling.

    The lists blew me away. I just had to share that.

    Yes, learning does go on...I blogged the other day about what went on with my kids in liew of formal lessons.

    And I'll admit after three full weeks of formal lessons we took almost a week off. Love the phrase "Grace Week".

  22. I absolutely love this idea of a grace week. I am going to have to figure out how to incorporate it into my own homeschool. Thank you.

  23. Anonymous27.7.08


    I'm still enjoying all the little tidbits of how you manage your homeschool/home. We are having our first "Grace Week" this week to coincide w/ our congregation's Vacation Bible School. While I have so many questions I would like to ask you about scheduling and such, right now I'm curious about the books your children have made. Would you mind elaborating a bit on how you went about making them and what their content was? I have an almost 6 and a 3 yo in addition to my 8 yo. Any info. you would like to share on your little books would be so great!

    Marcia B. (TX)

  24. Marcia,
    I'll try to post on that when I get a chance.

  25. Anonymous26.2.09

    Seems from the posts I've read you've been very busy! Life in TX looks to have been fruitful, though. Hope you have enjoyed your time back here. We're just about to take a nice break from our studies while the weather is so lovely, so I'd still like to hear a bit more about the topical books your younger children have made. Hope you'll have some time to post on those sometime soon. Thanks again for sharing so much already.


  26. Marcia, you've been so patient. I am working on that post this week!