Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lessons Learned from a Preschooler....

Dear Mama,

I am a born person. I've been listening to your voice and thinking about what you say since conception. I have thoughts and feelings. I can read your mood and disposition. I have intelligence. Give me ideas and I will make relations.

Please be patient with me. I really don't want to be naughty or annoying. Sometimes, I get hungry, tired, or need your attention and don't know how else to show you. Distractions help me to see there are other ways than throwing a fit. I also need discipline and long for structure. It helps me feel safe.

I love to play outside. I am in awe and wonder of nature. I'm interested in birds and trees. Come, go for a walk with me. Rain, snow, or shine, I want to be out-of-doors. Let's go jump off the dock or in a puddle.

Narration is natural as I really want to tell you about what I see and hear. You don't even have to ask me, I just can't wait to share with you everything I am learning.

Read me a story. This is how I develop my speech, vocabulary, and early reading skills. I love to hear your voice. I don't need a curriculum or any fancy bells and whistles. Just put down your electronic device and look me in the eye. I want to have conversation with you.

Playtime is important. You may have noticed that I act out what I see and hear. I enjoy playing dress-up, being a princess, a cowboy, or a puppy. I like to climb, run, jump. I don't need a jungle gym. God's creation is my playground. I can make swords and guns out of sticks. I love to eat stone soup and best of all I can't wait to pick you a handful of wildflowers.

I really want to be your helper! I want to be just like you so give me little jobs where I can show my skills. I like to measure and pour, sweep and dust. I can even match socks, fold laundry, and put my dirty dishes in the sink. Teach me how to work.

This is how I learn.

Your Preschooler

Monday, September 11, 2017

Reflections on Mere Motherhood...

Our CM Study Group took a sabbatical from Charlotte's Vol. 1, Home Education, in August to read Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. Cindy will be the guest speaker at the Journey: An Education for Life retreat in a couple of weeks. It was a re-read for a few moms in our group, but a first time read for myself.

Mere Motherhood, is a memoir of sorts. It is Cindy Rollins' story. The story of her life as a mother of nine children and more particularly, a homeschool mother. Rollins writes candidly about her experiences in large family child rearing. At times, I laughed out loud. I consistently found myself nodding, yes, yes, and yes! Mere Motherhood is an easy read with deep thought and profound perspective. Rollins writes about her children as only a mother could. She shares times of trial, fear, failures, and self doubt, as well successes and lessons learned. Through it all, her unwavering faith and love of the Lord are inspirational.

I have many tabs for common place entries in my copy of Mere Motherhood, but will only share a few below that were profound to me...
As homeschooling became more complicated with so many glitches, hardships, and moves, I started streamlining our days. I made sure that we were having Morning Time and that the boys were doing math, a written narration, and reading for two to three hours each day. Housework, farm chores, and the constant stream of farming neighbors who needed a 'boy' for the day helped all this add up to a decent education. p. 62
I am a mother at heart. I build a home, which seems like a place to stay, but really, it is a place to leave. That is the way of it. Children are meant to grow up. I understand that now. Maybe you have yet to come face-to-face with what that means. I hope you will take courage and allow your children to walk away with grace. p. 82

Blogging helped me take notice of my weakness in the area of grammar. My older boys graduated high school comfortable with writing, but they were weak on mechanics. This weakness wasn't a huge deal, as a semester of college English put most of it to rights. At the same time, comfort and ease in writing can never be gained in a single semester. p. 88

Good mothering is not smothering;... p. 113

     Anyone who knows me, knows I tend to think too much. But something happened in my thinking when Andrew Kern said, "The radical pulls the child out of the culture. The conservative tries to weave the child into the culture." Anyone who knows Andrew knows he was speaking about The Odyssey. For the first time, I got a glimpse of why our counter-cultural lifestyle had failed and how there was maybe no such thing as a culture war. To fight against the culture is to commit suicide. We live in this culture. To pretend our children will live in another culture is insanity. But still, I worry about my children. Lately, I have seen evidence of families losing their children's hearts. I have talked to many, many moms grieving for children who have left the faith. Good moms. Good families.
     And then last night, I glanced at a quote from John Senior about destroying the television. We had lived for twenty-five years without a television, and the benefits were evident, and yet I know that now that we have one we cannot get rid of it, nor do I think we should. I wish we 'should' but I know we shouldn't. Knowing I could not change our reality left me deeply depressed for my children.
     Last night, I was reading and praying and in the midst of it I prayed, "My children, Lord, O, my children." Then, today, in a twinkling, God took all my reading and all my thinking and all my praying and showed me something true and something hopeful and maybe even the whole shebang.
     Today, one of my children, an older one visiting for the weekend, was talking to his grandfather on the phone. That is it. I don't know how to explain this, but the second I heard that child, I felt a great peace. That child was rooted. That child may be a sloppy mess sometimes, but he is rooted. That child has a grandfather with whom he talks. And suddenly I know how to handle this cultural tide against which I cannot stand. I do not have to stand against it. I have to make sure we are rooted in real things. I can't fight Facebook, but I can plant a tomato. Every single time I do something that anchors our family to the past and our heritage, I am helping preserve the hearts of my children. I am giving them a lifeline to the good life. We don't have our children for long. We don't have a whole lot of control over their lives or their futures. When we plant our flags on issues, we often win the battle and lose the war. I have not been able to justify losing the war by taking stands on issues, even issues I care deeply about. Love and heritage are good; issues not so much. If my children are tied to our family by love, then all will be well, even if they don't always plant their flags were I have planted mine....
     ...You can't fight your children into the Kingdom. You can pray for them, and you can tell them stories, and you can love them. p. 128-130
Here is what I do know, what I am willing to share with you. There are three things that cover a multitude of sins: reading, reading aloud, and written narration. p. 135 
What I love most about these passages and many more throughout Mere Motherhood, is the grace that shines through. Whether you homeschool or not, as a mama, we all feel anxiety about the responsibility of child rearing at some point. Cindy's veteran perspective provides a real sense of peace. After all, it's not in our hands. God has a plan for each and every one of our children. We simply need to trust...
This is not about having the perfect family or the perfect school. Your success or failure doesn't rest on your perfection, just your faithfulness. p. 160

Saturday, September 2, 2017

2017-2018 Year 8 Curriculum Preview...

Here we are one week in to the 2017-2018 school year! Today, I'm sharing Riley's Year 8 book choices. Many of these choices were based on Ambleside Online Year 7 in conjunction with Beautiful Feet's Medieval History. In addition, you can find our full Morning Time plan here.

Bible - Character/Citizenship
Ambleside Online Year 7 Through the Bible Reading Plan
Continue copying Psalms in Do you Journible?
How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (Morning Time)
The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer (Morning Time)
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges (Morning Time)
Ourselves by Charlotte Mason (Morning Time)

History - Medieval, Renaissance, & Reformation
Combination of resources including:
Beautiful Feet Medieval History Intermediate
In the Days of Alfred the Great by Eva March Tappan
In Freedom's Cause by G. A. Henty
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
The Story of the Middle Ages by H. A. Guerber
The Story of the Renaissance and Reformation by H. A. Guerber

The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin (Morning Time)
How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger (Morning Time)

Economics & Government
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard Maybury (Morning Time)

Natural History
Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp

Eric Sloane's Weather Book by Eric Sloane
Social Life of Insects by Jean Henri Fabre
The Wonder Book of Chemistry by Jean Henri Fabre
First Studies in Plant Life by George Francis Atkinson
Adventures with a Microscope by Richard Headstrom
Signs & Seasons by Jay Ryan
Great Astronomers by R. S. Ball
Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher
The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Wiker and Bendick (Morning Time)
The Elements by Theodore Gray (Morning Time)

The History of English Literature for Boys and Girls by H. E. Marshall
The Once and Future King by T. H. White
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Idylls of the King by Tennyson (Morning Time)
The Oxford Book of English Verse chosen and edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch
Alfred Lord Tennyson - various poems
John Keats - various poems

Macbeth (Morning Time)

Easy Grammar 8 - continue from last year

Prescripts Cursive Passages and Illuminations: Poetry

May begin Lost Tools of Writing ??

IEW Phonetic Zoo - continue from last year

Lial's PreAlgebra - online

How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler (Morning Time)

Weekly drawing lesssons
Outsourced art class through local homeschool group
The History of Painting by H. W. Janson (Morning Time)

Soli Deo Gloria - local homeschool choir

Friday, September 1, 2017

2017-2018 Year 7 Curriculum Preview....

We are back to school here in Drywood Creek. With one week down, here is Ruben's Year 7 curriculum:

Bible - Character/Citizenship
Ambleside Online Year 6 Through the Bible Reading Plan
How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (Morning Time)
The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer (Morning Time)
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges (Morning Time)
Ourselves by Charlotte Mason (Morning Time)

History - Medieval, Renaissance, & Reformation
Combination of resources drawn from the following:
Beautiful Feet Medieval History Intermediate
Famous Men of the Middle Ages by Greenleaf Press
Famous Men of the Renaissance & Reformation by Greenleaf Press
Simply Charlotte Mason Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, & Epistles
TruthQuest History
What in the World? Vol 2 Middle Ages: Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries by Diana Waring (audio)

The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin (Morning Time)
How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger (Morning Time)

Economics & Government
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard Maybury (Morning Time)

Natural History
Secrets of the Woods by Willliam Long
School of the Woods by William Long

Signs & Seasons by Jay Ryan
Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher
The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Wiker and Bendick (Morning Time)
The Elements by Theodore Gray (Morning Time)

Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo
1001 Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Legend of King Arthur by Roger Lancelyn Green
The King's Shadow by Elizabeth Alder
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
Robin Hood by J. Walker McSpadden
Marco Polo by Demi
The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Idylls of the King by Tennyson (Morning Time)
Pied Piper of Hamelin
Misc. poetry

Macbeth (Morning Time)

Winston Grammar

Let's Write and Spell by Mary and Warren Johnson

IEW Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons

Combination of misc. resources

How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler (Morning Time)

Weekly drawing lesssons
Outsourced art class through local homeschool group
The History of Painting by H. W. Janson (Morning Time)

Soli Deo Gloria - local homeschool choir

You can find our full Morning Time plan for Term 1 here

Thursday, August 31, 2017

2017-2018 Curriculum Preview - Morning Time...

We started school this week. I'm still working out the bugs, but after a one year hiatus from Morning Time, I knew I had to bring it back. I really missed our time together, reading and discussing various books and topics.

Given the fact that Riley and Ruben are only one grade apart, I'd always done the bulk of their school together in K-6th grade. However, last year, Riley asked to be separated as she wanted to gain more independence in her studies. Although, I definitely saw growth with both she and Ruben, all year, I felt like something was missing. When planning this year, I wanted to find a way to give them space for continued individual growth and yet bring them back for some joint discussion.  Eventually, I figured out if I included Morning Time once again with a few common books, yet maintained their individual schedules for most subjects, I could gain the compromise I was looking for.

It was a bit of a trick figuring out which books to include. However, spending the summer studying Ambleside Online's Year 7, I came to some conclusions. I decided to keep Riley and Ruben in the same time period in history with different books. They have individual math and language arts. Riley is doing AO Year 7 Science as written, whereas Ruben is using a mix of science resources. They also have separate bible reading plans. Over and above this handful of core subjects, I put most of the rest of the books in our Morning Time. The first term looks something like this:

Day One
How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Wiker and Bendick, alternated with The Elements by Theodore Gray as scheduled in AO Year 6
Idylls of the King by Tennyson

Day Two
Ourselves by Charlotte Mason
How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
The Story of Painting by H. W. Janson
Idylls of the King by Tennyson

Day Three
The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard Maybury
Idylls of the King by Tennyson

We tried the above schedule this week. Some of the books were a hit and some not so much. I can already see a few adjustments that need to be made. I'm considering moving a couple of books back to Riley's individual schedule as I am not sure if Ruben is quite ready for them. In addition, my niece is schooling with us this year and most of the books were a real stretch for her. She's in 6th grade, but hasn't been raised on living books and classic lit. I may even omit a couple and use them at a later time. I would also like to add some sort of health book, possibly drawing lessons, and memorization/recitation, as well as Shakepeare. I'm still thinking this all through.

Overall, I'm glad I brought Morning Time back to our homeschool. Levi participated two out of the three days. The kids colored while I read aloud. He did fairly well. Have you kicked off your school year? Do you incorporate Morning Time? If so, I'd love to hear about it, particularly if you're using Morning Time with middle and high schoolers. Feel free to share in the comments below.

Friday, August 25, 2017

2017-2018 Curriculum Preview - IEW Themed Based Writing Lessons and Literature....

I'm trying a new approach this year for writing with my Year 7 child. I'll be using Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons with Ruben. I don't typically use writing curriculum. Our children simply narrate. Beginning orally and transitioning to written. However, Ruben has a bit of trouble getting started. We briefly tried Writing & Rhetoric by Classical Academic Press for a term last year unsuccessfully. I then pulled my dusty IEW Level B off the shelf and tried it.

IEW is something I collected years ago after completing a seminar with a local homeschool group, watching the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style together. Once I learned the method, I dabbled in it with our high school graduate, but didn't stick with it as she was a fine narrator and I didn't see the need. I have since heard many success stories of people using IEW with their dyslexic kiddos. Ruben and I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing Mr. Pudewa speak at the CiRCE Regional Conference back in January. Ruben enjoyed Mr. Pudewa immensely so I thought maybe I'd give IEW another try.

We completed several lessons of IEW Level B in the spring. Ruben bought into it and enjoyed writing as much as he could. Having dysgraphia, writing has been a consistent struggle alongside reading. However, while using IEW Level B, I saw growth. This was very encouraging. I want to continue. Since we are studying Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation this year for history, I decided to try the IEW Themed Based Lessons for this time period.

The Theme Based Lessons come with a Teacher's Manual and Student Book. The Teacher's Manual includes the lesson pages from the Student Book, along with teaching notes, sample key word outlines, answers to questions and vocabulary quizzes, as well as ideas for motivating the student. There are 30 lessons. It is suggested that one lesson will take approx. one week at 4 days per week. However, a few may take 2 weeks. I'm not as concerned about timing of a lesson as much as whether Ruben is understanding the material and showing continued growth in his writing. In addition, the Student Book contains vocabulary cards to accompany the writing lessons. However, I'm undecided as to whether or now we'll use these, as Ruben's vocabulary is very strong. I attribute this to years of classic book and literature read alouds.

Something that I really like about the Medieval Theme Based Lessons is the suggested literature list. In the scope and sequence, Lori Verstegen, the author, has included a list of titles to accompany the writing study. The suggested books look wonderful and many of them are the same books used in BF's Medieval History Intermediate study, which means Riley and Ruben will be reading many of the same titles.

The suggested books are:

Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo
1001 Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Legend of King Arthur by Roger Lancelyn Green
The King's Shadow by Elizabeth Alder
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
Robin Hood by J. Walker McSpadden
Marco Polo by Demi
The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI

These will be Ruben's literature books for the year. I will throw in a few other history titles and that will be covered as well. So there you have it, our writing, literature, and history base for Ruben's Year 7!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

2017-2018 Curriculum Preview - Beautiful Feet Medieval...

It's that time of year, where I start posting our back to school plans for the 2017-2018 academic year. Once again, RileyAnn will be using an Intermediate level of Beautiful Feet for her history. This year, she'll study from the BF Medieval History guide. One of my older daughters actually completed this same guide a few years back, but it was the original brown cover, comb bound guide. She really enjoyed it at the time. However, Beautiful Feet has since revised the guide, which is what Riley will use. The new guide includes the following books:

Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green
One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean
Queen Eleanor, Independent Spirit of the Medieval World by Polly Schoyer Brooks
The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
Magna Charta by James Daugherty
Cathedral by David Macaulay
Castle by David Macaulay
The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Gray
Morning Star of the Reformation by Andy Thompson
Crispin and the Cross of Lead by AVI
Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, adapted by Barbara Cohen
Joan of Arc, Warrior Saint by Jay Williams
Fine Print, A Story of Johann Gutenberg by Joann Birch
The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly
The World of Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster
The European World, 400-1450 by Barbara A. Hanawalt

Doesn't that look like a delicious list!?! Ruben and I will be reading many of the same titles this year as part of his history and lit, of which I'm really looking forward to.

This BF guide holds 35 weekly lessons, which includes suggestions for the student to complete a portfolio of their work. This portfolio could include such things as reports, illustrations, poems, illuminated manuscripts, and other projects the student completes. There are also vocabulary lists, mapping and geography assignments, comprehension and discussion questions, which could be used for narration prompts, suggested websites to enhance the study, a time line, hands on activities, and additional suggested titles to read in order to further the study if the student desires. It is not recommended that you do everything in the BF guide and we won't! I'll be sitting down over the next couple of days to solidify Riley's plan and highlight the lessons I wish her to complete. I'll be posting her full list of curriculum for the 2017-2018 year here soon, so stay tuned!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Reflections on Home Education - Part IV....

Charlotte continued Part IV of Vol. 1, Home Education with further discussion of habit training. You may remember she began writing about habit training in Part III, of which I wrote much in Post 1 and Post 2. Early on in Part IV Charlotte advocates for habit training in order to make life easier for mother, saying...
...habit....falls in with our natural love of an easy life.
The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children.  All day she is crying out, 'Do this!' and they do it not; 'Do that!' and they do the other. (p. 136)
Shortly thereafter, Charlotte acknowledges the difficult task of habit training and basically encourages us to put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.  She says mother must acquire the habit of habit training so that it becomes not a burden, but rather pleasurable. Also, if we are performing habits ourselves because they are delightful and we value the results, then our children will pick up these habits upon observation and share in our delight.

You may also remember at the end of Part III, Charlotte wrote about "Infant Habits', or those that are easily taught at a young age to children learning to mimic mother in the home. Those infant habits being order, regularity, and neatness, which a child would obtain by example, through having a daily schedule or routine, including regular meal times, bath time, and bedtime. Also, in abiding by the rule of everything has a place or EHAP, which makes for a tidy home, picked up at the end of the day. In Part IV, Charlotte adds a few must have habits...
We have already considered a group of half-physical habits - order, regularity, neatness - which the child imbibes, so to speak, in this way. But this is not all: habits of gentleness, courtesy, kindness, candour, respect for other people, or - habits quite other than these, are inspired by the child as the very atmosphere of his home, the air he lives in and must grow by. (p. 137)
Next, Charlotte writes about mental habits, including the habit of attention, application, thinking, imagining, remembering, perfect execution, obedience, and truthfulness. She tells us that even children who have been trained in infant habits, can have difficulty transitioning to mental habits in the school room.
Even the child who has gained the habit of attention to things, finds words a weariness. (p. 141)
Habit training also falls under Charlotte's principle of Education is a Discipline, in which she is referring to the importance of instilling good habits in our children.

Habit of Attention

What is it?
Attention is hardly even an operation of the mind, but is simply the act by which the whole mental force is applied to the subject in hand.  (p. 145)
Why is it important?
First, we put the habit of Attention, because the highest intellectual gifts depend for their value upon the measure in which their owner has cultivated the habit of attention. (p. 137)
How do we obtain it?
In the first place, never let the child dawdle over copybook or sum, sit dreaming with his books before him. When a child grows stupid over a lesson, it is time to put it away. Let him do another lesson as unlike the last as possible, and then to go back with freshened wits to his unfinished task. (p. 141)
I have written much about the methods used in Charlotte's schools in regard to the habit of attention, namely in a post titled, Do You Really Know Charlotte Mason?..., which you can find here, so for the sake of this post becoming extremely lengthy, I will not re-write those methods outlined in Part IV.  One thing I missed in that post and picked up this time around was Charlotte's mention of the importance of a schedule for the student.
In the first place, there is a time-table, written out fairly, so that the child knows what he has to do and how long each lesson is to last. This idea of definite work to be finished in a given time is valuable to the child, not only as training him in habits of order, but in diligence; he learns that one time is not 'as good as another'; that there is no right time left for what is not done in its own time; and this knowledge alone does a great deal to secure the child's attention to this work. (p. 142)
Oh, how true this is! For years, I held Ruben's schedule, doling out one subject at a time. He would constantly ask questions like, "How much longer?", and "What do we have left?", which quickly grew to be an annoyance. Last year, I used a spiral bound notebook, giving him daily assignments all at once. What a game changer! Not only did the annoying questions stop, but he also gained greater independence. I saw the beginning signs of ownership. In addition, it greatly improved the habit of orderliness. Giving the child a schedule or at the least, allowing him to see the time-table, is very important!

Under this section, Charlotte also writes about the importance and effect of natural rewards and consequences. She talks about emulation and the negative effects of affection as motivation, which can lead to manipulation. Charlotte points out that the habit of attention goes hand in hand with maturity, stating...
....attention is, to a great extent, the product of an educated mind. (p. 145)
Lastly, in the section Habit of Attention, Charlotte shares some cautions and reasons for the development of inattention. These being over pressure and a lesson being too difficult for the child.

Habits of Application
Aim steadily at securing quickness of apprehension and execution...(p. 149)
.....steady, untiring application to work should be held up as honourable, while fitful, flagging attention and effort are scouted. (p. 150)
Habit of Thinking

What is thinking?
....let us mean a real conscious effort of mind, and not the fancies that flit without effort through the brain. (p. 150)
Here Charlotte gives an example from Archbishop Thompson in his work, Laws of Thought, which demonstrates the teaching of cause/effect and compare/contrast.  Charlotte states this type of teaching should be an important part of every school lesson.

Habit of Imagining

Charlotte writes briefly about the importance of alternating the lessons. In particular referring to a specific type of children's literature, stating that a little non-sense reading is all right, but too much is a pity when there's so much better out there, like tales and heroic adventures.
"They must have 'funny books', but do not give the children too much nonsense-reading," (p. 152)
"But let them have tales of the imagination, scenes laid in other lands and other times, heroic adventures, hairbreadth escapes, delicious fairy tales in which they never roughly pulled up by the impossible - even where all is impossible, and they know it, and yet believe." (p. 152)
Along with imagining, Charlotte closes this section with thinking, which she states comes by practice.
....thinking, like writing or skating, comes by practice. The child who never has thought, never does think, and probably never will think... (p. 153)
The child must think, get at the reason-why of things for himself, every day of his life, and more each day than the day before. (p. 154) 
Charlotte further advises that in order to aid in the child thinking, instead of waiting for the child to ask "why", the parents should ask "why". Then allow the child to ponder and think.

Habit of Remembering

Here, I will let Charlotte speak because there's so much goodness...
Much of what we have learned and experienced in childhood, and later, we cannot reproduce, and yet it has formed the groundwork of after-knowledge; later notions and opinions have grown out of what we once learned and knew. (p. 154)
 ...give an instants undivided attention to anything whatsoever, and that thing will be remembered. (p. 156)
But it is not enough to have a recollection flash across one incidentally; we want to have the power of recalling at will: and for this, something more is necessary than an occasional act of attention producing a solitary impression. (p. 157)
Let every lesson gain the child's entire attention, and let each new lesson be so interlaced with the last that the one must recall the other; that, again, recalls the one before it, and so on to the beginning. (p. 158) 
To secure such a record, there must be time; time for that full gaze of the mind we call attention, and for the growth of the brain tissue to the new idea. (p. 158) secure right-of-way to that record...imprinted on her brain, the path should have been kept open by frequent goings and comings. (p. 158)
To acquire any knowledge or power whatsoever, and then to leave it to grow rusty in a neglected corner of the brain, is practically useless. Where there is no chain of association to draw the bucket out of the well, it is all the same as if there were no water. (p. 158)
The link between any two things must be found in the nature of the things associated. (p. 159)  
Habit of Perfect Execution

In regard to perfect execution, Charlotte writes about the people of her own country being guilty of letting their children perform slipshod work under the notion that they will eventually improve. However, she states this about the Germans and French...
....know that if the children get the habit of turning out imperfect work, the men and women will undoubtedly keep that habit up. (p. 159)
This is why she says...
No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required of him as a matter of course.  
She closes this section by writing about the importance of finishing what you start.
The child should rarely be allowed to set his hand to a new undertaking until the last is finished. (p. 160)
Habit of Obedience

According to Charlotte, the whole duty of a child is obedience, which is also the whole duty of man. God not only calls children to obey their parents, but he calls us to obey Him. She says, parents are the appointed agents to train up the child. The habit of obedience should be taught from birth. It must be a gradual building up and cannot be militant or bullied. If a child is always taught to obey, the child will always obey. In order to do this, mothers must be diligent and have follow through.
To secure this habit of obedience, the mother must exercise great self-restraint; she must never give a command which she does not intend to see csarried out of the full. And she must not lay upon her children burdens, grievious to be borne, of command heaped upon command. (p. 164)
Charlotte further states, that children trained in obedience should be given liberty to learn how to direct their own actions. I don't know about you, but I sure wish I could have a do over.

Habit of Truthfulness

There are three ways to be untruthful and all are vicious, says Charlotte.

1. Carelessness in ascertaining the truth
2. Carelessness in stating the truth
3. Deliberate intention to deceive.

However, children can be allowed the first two occasionally, but absolutely not the third. It is important for mothers to train their children in the accuracy of statement in order to avoid the first two if possible, as exaggeration and embellishments do tempt children. Again, mothers must be reverent in their duty.

Charlotte says children are not born with tempers, but rather tendencies and parents have the ability to train it out of them.
The root of evil, is not that these people were born sullen, or peevish, or envious - that might have been mended; but that they were permitted to grow up in these dispositions. (p. 167)
It is the force of habit that tendency becomes a temper; and it rests with the mother to hinder the formation of ill tempers, to force that of good tempers. (p.167)
Parents can change the child's thoughts before a bad temper has time to develop and become a rut by taking them outside or distracting them with a given task.

There is so much wisdom in Home Education! I wish I had read it before I had children or when they were younger, but one cannot wish for time that has past. I must simply move forward with this knowledge. How have you applied Charlotte's ideas to older children? How have you attempted to reverse bad habits, now that you have gained wisdom? I'd love to hear your ideas. Please feel free to share and open up discussion in the comments below.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Reflections - Summer Edition 5...

At Home

Summer is flying by! Riley's softball is done. Ruben's trap shooting has ended. The garden is producing. Home education planning is in progress.

I'm also in the process of writing two talks for the Journey: An Education for Life retreat with Cindy Rollins. Early bird registration ends today so don't delay! You can find more information and register here.

There are still many wonderful books available on our sale lists if you're in need of a good read. The history and lit lists are fabulous! I just love rescuing old books and getting them in the hands of appreciation. Riley and I attended a local annual library sale this week. Check out a small portion of our cache here.

Speaking of Riley, she cut nearly 12 inches of hair yesterday and donated to Locks of Love. Her new do is stunning!

Around the Web

This week, I listened to Mystie Winckler's Why I Love Interval Planning webinar. I really like the idea of planning in smaller chunks. It makes the task of doing seem more manageable.

I'm delighting in Instagram. I'm visual and love photography so it's a win/win! If you're on IG, come join me at

I appreciated AO with the Less Academic Child, Revisited by Brandy at Afterthoughts this week. I have a child who learns differently so I'm always looking for ways and means to meet him where he's at.

On My Shelf

Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry - It's a small book, but still overdue from the library. I haven't had a lot of reading time this summer. However, I'm nearing the end and hoping to finish this weekend. So far, it's worth the fine ;-)

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - I heard this is going to be the next Close Reads book and I've been wanting to read it for some time. This gives me an excuse to move it to my bedside pile.

Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins - Our CM Study Group has decided to take a hiatus from Home Education by Charlotte Mason to read Cindy's book before the upcoming Journey: An Education for Life retreat. I'm really looking forward to it!

The Adventures of Lightfoot the Deer by Thornton Burgess - I'm reading this aloud to Levi. It's his first chapter book and first Burgess book. We only have one chapter left and he's loving it.

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings - This has been on my want to read list for years, but I wanted to wait for the right time with the kids. I finally started reading it aloud earlier this summer, but sadly due to our busy life, we haven't gotten back to it. However, I'm going to be very intentional in the coming months about reading it. Since evenings have been scheduled, maybe it will become a morning time read.

What's on your shelf?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Early Bird Registration is Ending for the Journey Retreat with Cindy Rollins...

Check out these door prizes, compliments of CiRCE Institute for....

Journey: An Education for Life

There's only three days left until early bird registration ends for Journey: An Education for Life! Don't delay, get your tickets while they're hot! Join us for a day of home education encouragement and camaraderie as we welcome Cindy Rollins, author of Mere Motherhood and A Handbook to Morning Time and co-host of The Mason Jar podcast, to WI on Saturday, September 23, 2017. 

Early bird pricing is $45, but after Sat, Aug 12th, the price goes up to $60. Registration will not be accepted at the door. A working schedule with descriptions and bios is as follows:


8:30 a.m. Registration Opens

9:00 a.m. Keynote – Melissa Greene

10:30 a.m. Reflections on a Charlotte Mason Inspired Education – Gretchen Houchin

12:00 p.m. Lunch (provided)

1:00 p.m. Teaching Through Literature and Living Books – Melissa Greene

2:30 p.m. Charlotte Mason in Real Life: Courage for the Long Haul – Cindy Rollins

4:00 p.m. Q & A Panel Discussion – Cindy Rollins, Gretchen Houchin, and Melissa Greene

Session Descriptions

Keynote: The keynote will include a brief introduction to and comparison of Charlotte Mason and Classic Education. There will be highlights of several key principles of Mason's philosophy and what that looks like in the day to day, as well as her methods used and how to incorporate them.

Reflections on a Charlotte Mason Inspired Education: Encouragement from a retired homeschool mom with practical examples of what worked and what didn't. The focus will be on high school and older students, but will blend with methods used in the younger years to build the foundation for the upper.

Teaching Through Literature and Living Books: Description and examples of living books and practical application on how to use them in your homeschool to cover a variety of subjects. Book lists and suggestions will be shared.

Charlotte Mason in Real Life: Courage for the Long Haul: Find joy in the realities of homeschooling when the romance fades. Thoughts on what truth, goodness, and beauty look like in real life. Strategies will be given for the long haul.

Q & A Panel Discussion: All three speakers will be together answering questions from attendees regarding home education in real life.


Cindy Rollins is a mom of nine with over thirty years of homeschooling experience. For more than ten years, she blogged her way through her efforts to homeschool under the principles of Charlotte Mason and classical education. Today, Cindy is an occasional contributor at, the co-host of The Mason Jar podcast on the CiRCE Institute Podcast Network, & the 2016 recipient of the Russell Kirk Paideia Prize, awarded for a lifetime spent cultivating wisdom and virtue. Cindy is the author of Mere Motherhood and A Handbook to Morning Time. She lives in Chattanooga, TN with her husband Tim and however many children happen to be home.

Gretchen Houchin is a retired homeschool mom of two boys, ages 21 and 18. the oldest was homeschooled through graduation and the youngest through 8th grade. Her homeschool was inspired by the Charlotte Mason method. She enjoys sharing her experiences with others and encouraging them in their homeschool endeavors.

Melissa Greene is a mother of five, who's been homeschooling since 2007. She has two graduates, one through homeschool and the other through public school. She is currently home educating her three youngest children. Melissa enjoys reading, cooking, and being with her family. She spends her free time studying different philosophies of education, facilitating a Charlotte Mason Study Group, and blogging at There you will find ideas for planning your homeschool, book lists for reading, and thoughts about education through daily living. You can also find her on Instagram at

Space is limited so sign up here now....

Monday, August 7, 2017

Year 7 and 8 Planning....

I've been working on planning our 2017-2018 academic year. In planning, I always start with the big picture, moving next to the year, term, week, and finally day. This year, I will have kids in grades 8, 7, and kindergarten. This post will primarily address 7th and 8th grade and not kindergarten since that is still an informal year in our homeschool.

In 2017-2018, I know I want to cover Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation for history, as well as a variety of science topics, including chemistry, physics, and astronomy. It is for these reasons, I'm looking closely at combining AO Year 7 & Year 8 for my two older kids.

In looking at my goals and the AO suggestions, I created an at-a-glance table of Ambleside Online's Year 7 & 8. This is not my original book list and is in no way meant to be copied or used as an exclusive AO book list or lesson plan. I'm simply sharing how I plan my school year based on a variety of resources. You must go directly to the AO website for full use and understanding of their wonderful FREE program. I'm greatly indebted to the ladies who make this all possible. To learn more, I am linking to their website regularly throughout this post. 

The first table lists the subjects covered in each AO Year, along with books broken down by term. You will notice a few books are color coded when they are also used in curricula, such as Beautiful Feet, Sonlight, and Veritas Press, which are book lists I also consult regularly in planning. In addition, you may notice The Fallacy Detectives crossed out because Riley has already read that book. At that end of the first chart is suggested AO Free Reads for each year.

The second table, on page four, shows books used in AO Year 7/8 combined. It is the first year in a two year plan to cover Years 7, 8, and 9 for families looking to use AO at the upper levels and who yearn to complete six years in five. I've chosen this as a base for our family simply based on the history and science coverage.

Next, I created a chart showing the subjects I wish to cover along with some books and resources I'm contemplating.

From there, I've been working on narrowing books and plugging the final selections into a 12-week term chart. Finally, the readings will be broke down by day. You can see last year's term and daily charts here. They are purposefully not dated as I don't want to be a slave to the plan when life happens. You know, kid wakes up puking, family drama takes over, or a dear friend calls and says, "Hey, let's play!" I want to be able to pick up and go without the guilt associated with a date specific plan.

To some, my planning may sound like an overwhelming process. However, it happens to be something I enjoy. Also, I've found if I'm thorough in my planning, then I don't second guess as much throughout the year. That's not to say there's no flexibility. Last year, when the plan became drudgery and there was no Science of Relations, I ended up scrapping much of Ruben's plan part way through the year and winging the end, which turned out to be a great decision for both of us.

Over the past ten years, I haven't found any one plan that fits the needs of my family. In home educating, there is no one size fits all. What works for one family will most likely not work for another. Even in my own home, what works for one child does not necessarily work for another. It is for this reason every year I create an individualized education plan for each of my kids. Because I'm meeting the needs of each individual child, I tend to be very eclectic or individual in my approach. With that said, here are links to some resources I'm pulling from this year:

Ambleside Online Year 7

Ambleside Online Year 8

Ambleside Online Year 7/8 combined

Beautiful Feet Intermediate Medieval History

IEW Medieval Writing 

Simply Charlotte Mason

Sonlight Level G

Sonlight Level H

Veritas Press Omnibus 

Whether you're a chart maker or an on the fly kind of gal, the most important thing to remember is that each and every one of our Children are born persons. We are not dumping books and facts into them. A chart or plan simply gives you the ability to do what comes next on those low energy or hard days when life is kicking your butt. Ultimately, because we're not educating machines, some days may not be well oiled or run smoothly. Having a plan is helpful to me when life takes over.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Sale Index by Subject....

I've been working through book sale list updates this week just in time for your back to school needs. Although, in my mind, every season is a reason for books!  There have been new treasures added to most lists, including history, literature, Five in a Row titles, poetry, science, and more. There are many fabulous titles from Ambleside Online, Beautiful Feet, Sonlight, Truthquest History, and A Visual American History Timeline of Books, as well as many other great picture and chapter books.

Below is an index by subject for easy access. I would love to add photos of each book, but the sheer volume of books listed here paired with my time constraints have not allowed me to to do that. However, if you have questions about a particular title or condition, please do ask. Send book lists, comments, and inquiries via the contact form on the right side bar. I accept PayPal and ship media mail anywhere in the U.S.

Thanks for your consideration,