I love this time of year when the leaves begin to flame and the weather changes to clear days and cool nights.  I even like the gray rainy days (for now at least) that give me an excuse to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea and just relax for a while.  Once again falling into the familiar rhythm of earlier mornings, backpacks stuffed with pencils, papers, books and binders, packing lunches and making sure the kids catch the school bus for many of us, as it’s also the time when our children go back to school.  For an alternative culture of DIY independent learners what that means is simply returning to a more structured home learning schedule and study routine.  And for others, like myself, it means maybe not starting ‘school’ at all, or at least not yet.

I, like many other home educating parents, fill my 24 hours each day with so much more than just providing a stimulating home learning environment for my children.  In fact when I sat down recently to work out a time budget for my precious 24 hours I was surprised to find that I had been trying to fit 30+ hours of activity into a single day… Now math was never my favourite subject, but I could see pretty clearly how that didn’t equal a very balanced day.  Some things had to go, others have remained, and some new activities were added.

Along with prayer and the daily pursuit of God’s presence and regularly ministering alongside my husband to a vibrant and growing group of believers at our church I am also a passionate advocate for creative alternatives to traditional education methods.  Actually I am a huge supporter of the creative in general!  I love to think outside the box, imagine and daydream.  I can often readily see the big picture.  I am an idea person.  I really love color and enjoy the creative outlet of working with interior design, organizing and staging.  I learned many skills through an apprenticeship with a painting and decorating contractor in my teens as part of my own creative/alternative education and then worked with my parents renovating and decorating nearly a dozen houses for profit.  After decorating another half dozen of my own houses, friends and acquaintances began asking for my advice and assistance with organizing, furniture placement and choosing paint colors in their houses too.

Passion leads to action.  Take this blog for instance, it was born out of the overflow of my passion for joyful, independent, alternative education.  I wanted to create a single (web) location for sharing with others who were interested in learning from  my experience and expertise in the field of home education, in addition to the personal, one-on-one coaching sessions and repeatedly answering FAQs in small groups, over the telephone, via e-mail and in person.

More recently I have been spending a significant amount of time volunteering my design and newly developed (to be read, clearly: “out of necessity”) Project Management skills to what is rapidly becoming a large scale renovation in the Children’s Ministry Wing of a (30,000 sq. ft.) church building that is nearly a quarter of a century old.

According to a 2003 Pan-Canadian Study on Home Education home learners tend to be highly involved as volunteers.  Our family is no exception. This past month our family has volunteered in various areas from helping senior citizens with yard work and household chores, assisting a single parent moving into a new house to providing childcare for preschool aged children and performing various administrative tasks for our local church fellowship.

So naturally at the same time I thought it would make sense (really?) to begin yet another creative endeavour and develop a new business while I was at it!  As my passion led to action once again, a creative design consulting business emerged.  Since I had a group of volunteers and tradespeople needing to contact me regularly it was clear I needed a business card.  So with a few points, clicks and taps I quickly learned how to modify, customize and create my own business cards.  They were finished in a day.  I discovered an interest in Pinterest to keep my idea boards organized.  A quick Google search for “Starting a Business in Ontario” (I’ve done this before). Then I needed a website because, who doesn’t?  So I hopped on WordPress and with newly developed skills from my recent blogging experience I learned how to maneuver my way around a site template and voila- website done!  Hmmm, let’s see I would also need a business e-mail address.  So over to handy-dandy Gmail and clickety clack, just like that I was in business.

Did you know that adults who were home educated are far more likely to be self-employed/entrepreneurs than the comparable population according to a recent study by the  Canadian Centre for Home Education?  I have found this to be true as at various points in my life I have waded into the shallow end of quite a few different areas of interest that later found me swimming in profitable, creative and fulfilling business ventures.  I guess that might make me a hands-on learner.

So while it’s not back to school for my own children (just yet) it has certainly been back to self-taught, life-long learning for their mother.  Of course they are learning about creativity and initiative too as I ask them for their ideas and opinions about a business card design, a room configuration, a colour palette or a website theme.  And they will be on site with me, volunteering, or at home getting their desks and school supplies in order, or helping their dad help his dad with some fall clean up while learning about kindness, family relationships, hard work and generosity.  And thus our Living Education begins for another home school season.

Orientation week and our official ‘first day of school’ will have to wait just a little bit longer for now.

This year’s first lesson might just be one about patience.

So tell me, have you and/or your children started ‘back to school’ yet?  Share in the comment section.

© Una-Melina 2012.