Friday, February 6, 2009

Teaching through the Church Year

One of the unique aspects of our little school is our use of the church calendar as our educational calendar. This idea was developed by a church friend of mine and I love it! It provides not only the benefits of year-round schooling, but centers a child’s life on the life of her Savior, rather than an arbitrary secular school system. For a full explanation of the calendar by clicking on the title of this post or on the solisortus link under Educational Influences below.

Teaching with the church calendar means the pattern of our school year follows the traditional Christian holidays beginning with Advent and going through the seasons of Epiphany, Lent, Resurrection, Ascension, Apostolic and Church life. It also copies the pattern set out by God in Creation by using cycles of seven. We have 7 terms, each 7 weeks long. This gives us only 49 weeks, so the remaining 3 weeks are vacation weeks. Again following the pattern of creation, we rest for 1 week and work for 6 weeks of every term. This allows regular times of refreshment and renewal for students and teacher. It works especially well for the early elementary years. There is no 12 -16 week summer break during which learning retention is lost. Also, resting one week out of the seven-week term prevents young children from “burning out” on school and enables their teacher to regularly reevaluate their progress and class-work and make adjustments suitable to each child’s needs.

Most importantly, however, is the way in which this unique calendar trains a child to think of all of life in relationship to Christ. Schooling is the vocation of a child – it is the work God calls her to and is the largest part of her growing up years. When you take this largest part of her life and make it revolve around her Savior’s life, she learns to see all of life as flowing from her relationship to Christ. When she defines time by the days of Creation, she learns that the Bible has something to say about everything she does. When she sees each new term bringing an exciting new area of study based on what period of Christ’s life we are celebrating, she sees Christ’s life as the joyous model for her own. Which pattern would we see our children follow in their lives – the pattern of secular America or the pattern of the life of Christ? Having a school life patterned after the latter draws a child towards patterning all of life after her Savior.

This term we are celebrating Epiphany at Zera Hall. If you’re like I was and don’t really know what Epiphany is about, it commemorates the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles in the coming of the Magi. It also reminds us of Christ kingship in the kingly gifts which the Magi brought. So, at school everyone gets to wear a tiara for Epiphany term and we learn how to act like queens in the kingdom of Christ. We also learn how to reveal Christ to the Gentiles (unbelievers) by our winning speech and manners. Thus, in addition to the fun of wearing a crown at school everyday, we learn to wear our crowns well with a winsome testimony to the world by learning good manners in Protocol class and good speech in Language class. We’re having a fun time learning our “Manners Matter 5” every week and seeing who demonstrates them best and earns the right to wear their crown each day! Small steps like these encourage young minds to seek Christ in all things and what better thing could be learned in any time of life?

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