Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Intentional Beginnings

Summer is pretty much over. The day after Labor Day marks the official start of school in the state of Minnesota, (which by no coincidence is the last day of the Minnesota State Fair) where Jamie is the director of a Charter School. In the past, when dad went back to work at school, it's just been the start of another school year. In the past, we never really did anything to mark the beginning of our school year, because we were not going to school. Even though we homeschool, we don't like to call it school. We are just living our lives, doing one day at a time, learning things as we go along.

So we wondered, how can a family that walks in two worlds: school and unschool, celebrate this unusual dichotomy? With a simple family ritual. We wanted to bring closure to the end of a fun summer together as a family, and create a way to look forward to the beginning of our family's "Learning Year."

We have a favorite hike that we like to do as a family. It is a logging /ATV trail that takes us to the top of a ridge, overlooking Lake Superior. Though we have hiked this numerous times in the past, on this day, the hike was more intentional. It will become a family ritual because it will be a repeated and coordinated activity that has significance for our family. First, we intend to do this hike on Labor Day each year. Secondly, we will use this hike as the moment to capture a self-portrait of our family. In the past, we've always said, "Darn it, we forgot the tripod again!" This time, we brought the tri-pod.

And thirdly, we used this as an opportunity to take a photo of the kids on the first day of their "Learning Year." No first school bus ride, no backpacks or book bags on the front steps of the house. Just kids in the woods...

In a field of ferns...

Of course, there was so much beauty on this walk. The Asters were in full bloom...

and we discovered many mushrooms along the way. They were begging us to take their pictures too.

That evening, we had a fancy meal of Chicken with Cranberry Stuffing, Sweet Potatoes and Summer Squash. Everyone took a turn talking about the things they want to learn this year, the questions they want to find the answers to, and some of the goals they want to accomplish (with some guidance of course.) It was a lovely way to look forward to our Learning Year.

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  1. I love the idea of a nature walk! What a cool way to mark the "new" year of learning. :) Thanks for sharing the photos with us.

  2. Thanks Hannah. We wanted to be more thoughtful and aware of marking our beginning instead of letting it just melt into the rest of the year. And to get excited! Family traditions make growing up all the more memorable.

  3. I had the best day. William Doherty wrote a book: Intentional Families. Here is the amazon link: It is an amazing book and he is a MN author. The idea of being intentional is very important.