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Meet one of my best friends, Lindsey Gallant, and read about how she is learning to cultivate a life of order and wonder.

Cultivating a Life of Order and Wonder

Tell us about you and your family.

We are a family of 5 in Prince Edward Island, Canada. We have a small acreage beside a river where we garden, raise chickens and pigs, and explore and enjoy life in the country. And the beaches are only ten minutes away! We have a daughter (6), son (4), and a brand new daughter (3 months).

How long have you been homeschooling?

We are just finishing a very informal kindergarten year with our oldest daughter. But I feel like we’ve been on the home education journey for a long time. I was homeschooled myself in the Northwest Territories, so it was always in the back of my mind as a possibility. When my daughter was about a year old, I was introduced to Charlotte Mason. The seed for second generation homeschooling was really planted then, and my excitement kept growing. We still debated whether we were going to homeschool or not, right up until last summer. But I’m glad we took the plunge! We are taking it year by year.

Tell us about your Order and Wonder homeschooling approach.

I believe in cultivating a life of order and wonder for our family. Education is part of that. Charlotte Mason has been an influential mentor, and we are learning to live by her idea that education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. Our learning centers around living books, everyday life, and relationships. We try to let life unfold at a natural pace, experiencing and learning from what each season has to offer.

The idea of “order and wonder” came directly from a veteran homeschooler, and I have adopted it as my own framework for education. Order is the underlying structure of our days, the flexible rhythm that provides both stability and freedom, and the discipline of good habits. Order then opens the space for wonder – time for curiosity, leisurely exploration, creativity, and an openness to the sacred and beautiful.

I didn’t intend on a lot of formal lessons for kindergarten. Practically, we prioritized outdoor play, reading aloud together, and forming good habits (mental, moral, and physical). “School time” was secondary. At this age I would rather have the kids making mud pies and staring at the sky than filling out worksheets. And no matter what else is going on, if we are at home, we never skip our read-aloud time together!

This will change somewhat with Grade 1 in the fall, as we will plan on a short time of lessons daily.

Year-round homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling?

I love it when summer has a different rhythm, so we will be taking summers off from regular lessons. We’ll still have order to our day with chores, meals, and our Bible and prayer time, but I hope to leave lots of time for unstructured play, gardening, and enjoying our beautiful island! We read aloud together no matter the season, and I’ve got a stack of books perfect for summer.

Tell us about your homeschooling routine.

We had a fairy relaxed kindergarten routine. We did try to have more structured mornings, where we had some “school” time together, and when we did, this is what it looked like:

  • Breakfast and free play, followed by getting ready for day and a few chores together
  • Playing outside (or inside if the weather was nasty) while Mom does chores
  • Snack

“School”

Together Time:

  • A hymn, Scripture memory verse, Bible story, prayer
  • Poem
  • Exercises (the kids made these up, and it got their wiggles out before we sat down at the table)

Table Time:

  • Letter/phonics practice or game
  • Writing practice
  • Colouring for the preschooler

Other Activity (We rotated Music, Nature Study, Craft, Something Math-y, etc.)

OR

  • Reading from “The Learning Basket” (A basket of picture books selected by me, often around a seasonal theme or related to nature study, with a mix of stories and non-fiction.)
  • Lunch & Tidying up
  • Read-Aloud Time (Each child picks at least one book, and I pick something)
  • 1 hour Quiet Time
  • Snack & Poetry
  • Free play, outing, or other activity

Some days we threw the whole “school” time out the window if it was a great day to be outside, or if they were busy creating an imaginary world.  When the baby came along in March, we ditched the lessons, and the focus shifted to family life with a new baby, and putting in the garden.

(For more about our informal, Charlotte Mason-y kindergarten year, you can check out the home education posts on my other blog, Little Hearth and Homestead.)

Complete the sentence: Our homeschooling happens mostly at…

The dining room table, the couch, the front porch swing, and the back yard.

What have you picked for your curriculum next year?

I’m planning to use Ambleside Online Year 1 as our basic framework for Grade 1, with modifications for our family. (My preschooler will be tagging along!)

See below for a detailed overview. (Ambleside Online selections are noted with “AO.” Subjects for which we will be developing our own curriculum are marked with an asterick.)

order and wonder

List 3 books about homeschooling that really impacted you.

These are the people who have impacted me most in my journey:

  • Leila Lawler from the blog Like Mother Like Daughter (She was my introduction to Charlotte Mason, and to the concept of “order and wonder.” I love her common sense approach to home life and education.)
  • Charlotte Mason (I am just getting my feet wet in her original works. I love her depth of insight.)
  • Raymond & Dorothy Moore (Authors of Better Late Than Early, Home Grown Kids, and The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook. Their philosophy encouraged me to hold off on formal education in the early years, and to see all of life as opportunity for education.)

Your family is going on an unplanned trip, not much time to pack, you must homeschool the kids while traveling and you can only take 5 of your homeschooling resources/books with you. What would you take?

How long is this trip? 🙂 I would definitely take the opportunity to learn from wherever we were going!

  1. Bible
  2. Current read-aloud series (The Chronicles of Narnia)
  3. Nature Study kit (field guides, binoculars, magnifying glass)
  4. Notebooks for writing and drawing about the trip
  5. Pencil cases with pens, pencil crayons, crayons, etc.

If you had the chance to start homeschooling all over again today with the knowledge and experience you have now, what would you do differently?

I’m just starting out, so I’m not sure I can really answer this question! I think nurturing the tender sense of wonder in young children is so important. I would focus on creating peace in my own heart and peace in our home. Atmosphere is more important than curriculum. Relationships are more important than curriculum. Prayer is more important than curriculum. I would remember to open my eyes and see the world the way my children see it – with wonder.