Thursday, October 19, 2017

My Current Mother Culture - Oct 2017

 What we need is a habit of taking our minds out of what one is tempted to call "the domestic rag-bag" of perplexities, and giving it a good airing in something which keeps it "growing."  - Parents' Review, Volume 3 1892/93, Mother Culture
Mother Culture is growing one's mind through reading, handicrafts, nature, and fine arts to keep it fresh. It's what Charlotte Mason suggested mother's do for themselves to avoid burn out. As my kids get older, I find it more difficult to keep up with their reading and continue to do my own. Therefore, I have taken up reading some of RileyAnn's school books for my Mother Culture. I didn't find time this summer to pre-read and yet I wanted to be aware of what she was reading. One, to answer questions she may have and two, to have meaningful discussion with her. Therefore, I have decided to make my Mother Culture list based on her academic reading. Here are my latest reads....

English Literature for Boys and Girls by H. E. Marshall (AO Year 7-10)
Watership Down by Richard Adamas (AO Year 7)
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (AO Year 7)

I am also reading aloud some of Ruben's books. We recently finished Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo and One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean. Next week we will begin reading King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green. It's all about Medieval History this year. Of course, there's also our Morning Time reads, which afford me much to contemplate. In addition, I recently started notebooking along with Riley and Ruben as part of my creative outlet.

Lastly, my CM Study Group is still working through Charlotte Mason's Vol.1, Home Education.  And, I have several stacks by the bed in case I ever have time to dive into something else. Mother Culture is a must! One simply cannot pour out for others from an empty pitcher.

What are your current Mother Culture reads? How are you feeding your mind in order to give to your family? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Middle School Chemistry in Morning Time...

As part of our Morning Time study, we've been working through The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin D. Wiker and The Elements by Theodore Gray using Ambleside Online's Year 6 rotating schedule. Every other week, I read from each book. For example, Week One, I read Chapter One of The Mystery of the Periodic Table. Then Week Two, I read about a specific element in The Elements. Week Three, I went back and read Chapter Two from ...Mystery of...Periodic Table, Week Four, we read about another element, and so on and so forth.

In addition to the above mentioned reading, I've added a notebooking component to our study. At the beginning of the year, I gave Riley and Ruben a blank periodic table. As we read about a variety of elements in The Mystery of the Periodic Table, they plug them into their table. Then every other week, as we read about a particular element from The Elements, they write about and illustrate a picture on a blank page of something representative of that element. At the end of the year, I will bind these pages with my ProClick binder into their own personal chemistry notebooks. They initially decided they wanted to bind blank paper as opposed to using a spiral or sewn composition notebook.

So far, it's been a wonderful study! I really enjoyed looking at their pages. So much so, that I decided to join them in the notebooking venture. However, I opted to use a sewn composition notebook for my study. Below are samples of our pages....

Saturday, October 14, 2017

2017-2018 Morning Time Reflections - Week Six...

We are six weeks into our 2017-2018 academic year so I thought I'd review what's working and what's not in our Morning Time (MT), since this seems to be the area in which I've made the greatest adjustments. First off, here is our original plan.

As you can see, my original plan was to have MT three days per week. I wondered how this would work since we school four days per week. However, at that time, my niece was going to join us three days a week in our homeschool and I wanted to spread the feast for her as well. Honestly, the first couple of weeks were rough. I chose many of my MT reads from AO Year 7 because it was a good fit for my kids. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be a good fit for my niece for a variety of reasons, which I won't get into here. She is no longer joining us in our homeschool, so I will write about MT as it pertains exclusively to my family.

Three days per week proved to be too little time to cover the books I had planned. AO Year 7 books are wonderful and very meaty. Some of them provided too much reading at one time. They needed to be spread out more. Sadly, I let go of Idylls of the King for now. I couldn't quite figure out how to spread it out in a way that we could understand and make sense of it. We even tried the Librovox audio for a couple of weeks because I thought maybe the fact that I couldn't find the rhythm or the beat while reading it, was the reason we couldn't understand it. However, that didn't seem to help. I feel like we don't have a good enough medieval or Arthurian base for real understanding. We are reading other Arthur books this year, which I think will help lay a foundation for a future reading. Tennyson's Idylls is definitely worthy, just not for us in this season. I may come back to it in a few weeks or possibly in our next medieval rotation, but for now, I'm subbing in other random poetry.

I've added Grammar-land by M. L. Nesbitt. I found that Grammar with Ruben was just not getting done throughout the week, so I decided to add in this gem as a read aloud during our MT. It's mostly review, which he needs. Riley scoffed a bit at first because she felt she was way beyond this point, but we're now a couple weeks in and she's been a better sport. I'm reading a chapter per week and once it's done, I hope to add some sentence parsing and diagramming into our MT. Our new MT, now 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

Day Two
How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
Grammar-land by M. L. Nesbett

Day Three
The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard Maybury

Day Four
The Story of Painting by H. W. Janson
Ourselves by Charlotte Mason

In addition to the read alouds, I'm adding various poetry, music, and art each day. Levi has been joining us for MT and I want him to learn The Pledge of Allegiance, so we recite it some days as well. I would like to add more memory work down the road. Possible other additions could include, health, Shakespeare, and drawing, but for now, I don't feel like I should add until we finish or take away something else. We will continue as planned for the next six weeks and reassess at that time. 

Overall, I'm happy to be back at MT and I think the kids are too. I love the conversations we've had from some of the books. We're also doing a bit of notebooking through the chemistry books, which I will share in another post. It's been fun to look at everyone's drawings and see what each person took from the book.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Vacation as Education on a Tight Budget....

We were very fortunate to start the school year off with a mini vacation in the northern part of our state and the neighboring state. There were waterfalls and a water park. We also spent a couple nights at a cabin on Chequamegon Bay, part of Lake Superior.  To some it may not be much, but to us it was a very big deal since we don't have opportunities like this often. I always wonder what it's like for those that set out for a year or more at a time, traversing the globe. For our family, travel mostly happens through books, but on those rare occasions when we do get out, there is much learning to be done.

Traveling on a budget takes some planning, but it is entirely possible. Thankfully, for the internet, one can do much of the legwork ahead of time. To begin, I find a destination. Once I have a goal in mind, it's easier to plan the steps to get there. Next, I look for lodging. I do check a variety of hotels, but don't stop there. I also look into Air B&B's, campgrounds and resorts with cabins, and misc. rentals, which can often be found on Craigslist. I do a lot of calling around and definitely attempt negotiations. Most often in the off season or if there is not some major event happening in the region, lodging reps will offer discounted rates, particularly if you're staying more than one night. After Labor Day and back to school is a great time to travel, because for most, it's considered the off season.

When choosing lodging, I also consider things like whether or not there's free parking, wi-fi, a swimming pool, microwave, refrigerator, and continental breakfast. I always ask about room set up. On our latest trip, the hotel had a wet bar in the room, which was a counter top with an extra sink, microwave, and refrigerator. This allowed me an area to make meals and clean up in the room.

A few years back, we invested in an electric cooler than can be used as a refrigerator. It plugs into the van and has an adapter to fit a regular electrical outlet once in the hotel. We are then able to pack food or at least stop at the grocery store on the way. It's much cheaper to make your own meals or eat out of a grocery store deli than a restaurant three times a day. We travel with this electric cooler and an electric frying pan, making meals as we go. Continental breakfast is also a bonus because it's a free meal...well, you pay for it with your room stay, but I mean it's not an over and above charge.

Once we have a destination, lodging, and food sources in line, I look at our budget to determine which attractions we'd like to see. Part of finding a destination also has to do with attractions, but finalizing these plans comes after making sure there is lodging and food within our means within that area. We are not a touristy type family so theme parks are not usually our idea of fun. We much prefer to get off the beaten trail. We enjoy scenery and wildlife so mountains, prairies, waterfalls, and geysers are intriguing. We also have a great love of history so museums or historic festivals are a delight. Book store and thrift shop stops are an absolute must! You never know what new treasure you will find.

Some of the sites we saw on our trip up north in early September were Pattison State Park, Amnicon Falls State Park, Lake Superior, Canal Park and the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor's Center - Army Corp of Engineers in Duluth, MN, and Chequamegon Bay. We looked at the falls at Pattison and Amnicon on the same day since they are only a few miles apart. This allowed us to buy only one entrance pass that was good at all State Parks in WI for the day. The Maritime Visitor's Center was awesome and free. We observed many new things regarding the history and science of ships and The Great Lakes. While there, we saw two major ships in Canal Park, the Walter J. McCarthy Jr., which is 1000 ft long, heading out to sea, and the Herbert C. Jackson, which is 690 ft long, coming into to dock. We also saw the Aerial Lift Bridge go up and down for each ship. It was amazing!

When planning our itinerary, I purposely plan loosely. You never know when you will come upon something of interest off that beaten trail and we want to be sure to have time to explore. Heavy scheduling while on vacation is not my idea of rest and relaxation. We like the freedom to be flexible. As a matter of fact, the Maritime Center noted above was not planned. We happened upon it quite by accident and it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.

If we are traveling long distances, I typically book lodging in advance for the first night, but sometimes not the nights thereafter. This gives us freedom to stay an extra night if something trips our trigger. Also, we are not tied down to traveling a certain number of miles to the next destination. That way, if we see something of interest along the way, we can stop. Or, if a kid has behavior issues or someone gets sick (it does happen, ask me how I know) again, you're not committed to being somewhere by a specific time. To some, this may seem fly by night, but for us, it has proved valuable.

Traveling provides many excellent means to educate. Hands on learning may be the most significant of these. It's one thing to read the fabulous book, Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling, but quite another to actually see a Great Lake. When reading about a 1000 ft ship, one can imagine what that might look like, but seeing it in real life up close gives a whole new perspective. Seeing animals in their natural habitat is nothing like reading about them. Although, reading helps us to better understand what we are seeing. There are many benefits to educating through a vacation and it is totally possible on a tight budget.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Thoughts on Kindergarten...

I have this sweet Little Golden Book - We Like Kindergarten by Clara Cassidy. It's illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, which makes it even more precious. It was originally published in 1965, back when the idea of kindergarten was still thought of as 'garden for children'.

We Like Kindergarten depicts a girl named Carol leaving her puppy and kitten behind to head off to kindergarten. When she gets there, she hangs up her coat and is welcomed by her teacher playing the piano. All the boys and girls begin to sing. Then they take turns feeding the fish and turtle in the aquarium. Next, they finger paint, play with clay and musical instruments, and dance round singing "Farmer in the Dell", before the teacher reads them a story and they have show and tell. Then there is outdoor play and a snack preceding nap time. Lastly, the children wake from their naps to dance some more and draw pictures before saying goodbye to friends and the teacher and heading back home, where Carol is welcomed by her puppy and kitten. The book ends with Carol singing and playing her piano, pretending to be the teacher of her puppy, kitten, stuffed animals, and little sister.

Carol's kindergarten experience is very similar to my own here in rural Wisconsin, back in the late 1970's. (Yes, I'm dating myself.) Mrs. Fuchs and Mrs. Hawkinson both played the piano. We sang folk songs like "Farmer in the Dell" and "She'll be Coming Around the Mountain", which I remember vividly to this day. We made paper crafts, drew, and painted. We also had milk and graham crackers for a snack and nap time. We had outdoor recess and plenty of imaginary play time. There was story time and each week, we were introduced to a new letter of the alphabet via the inflatable Letter People. We also had a deaf boy in our class so we learned each of the letters in sign language.

Before looking ahead, let's take a brief moment to look back. My maternal grandmother is 98 years old. She was born in 1919 and didn't begin formal education until the age of 7 and in 1st grade. (She also purchased her driver's license from the local post office for 25-cents....can you imagine!!) Anyway, the Farmer is a bit older than me. He attended a rural one room school a couple of miles from his home until 4th grade, when the rural country schools in our area shut down and the districts began busing kids to the public school in the village. He began his formal education in 1st grade at age 6. Up until this point, there were no kindergartens in our community. However, a few years later, kindergarten reared it's head in our home town. Because of which, I was sent to school at age five.

Fast forward to the 21st Century, most children in our village and neighboring towns are no longer even beginning school at age 5, but now at ages 3 and 4. So in 100 years, children went from starting school at age 7 to age 3/4. However, children have not changed!! A child born today is still developmentally the same as a child born in the early 1900's. Genetics have not altered the various developmental stages. Children are no more developmentally ready to sit still, focus for long periods of time, and learn to read, then they were 100 years ago. I believe this is why ADHD and ADD are so prevalent today.

In Vol. 1, Home Education, Charlotte Mason had quite a bit to say about early childhood and kindergarten...
The Mother the best Kindergartnerin. - It is hardly necessary, here, to discuss the merits of the Kindergarten School. The success of such a school demands rare qualities in the teacher - high culture, some knowledge of psychology and of the art of education; intense sympathy with the children, much tact, much common sense, much common information, much "joyousness of nature,' and much governing power; - in a word, the Kindergarten method is nicely contrived to bring the child en rapport with a superior intelligence. Given, such a superior being to conduct it, and the Kindergarten is beautiful - 'tis like a little heaven below'; but put a commonplace woman in charge of such a school, and the charmingly devised gifts and games and occupations become so many instruments of wooden teaching. If the very essence of the Kindergarten method is personal influence, a sort of spiritual mesmerism, it follows that the mother is naturally the best Kindergartnerin; for who so likely as she to have the needful tact, sympathy, common sense, culture?
The Nursery need not therefore be a Kindergarten. - Though every mother should be a Kindergartnerin, in the sense in which Froebel would employ the term, it does not follow that every nursery should be a regularly organised Kindergarten. Indeed, the machinery of the Kindergarten is no more than a device to ensure that carrying out of certain educational principles, and some of these it is the mother's business to get at, and work out according to Froebel's method - or her own. For instance in the Kindergarten the child's senses are carefully and progressively trained: he looks, listens, learns by touch; gets ideas of size, colour, form, number; is taught to copy faithfully, express exactly. And in this training of the senses, the child is made to pursue the method the infant shapes for himself in his early studies of ring or ball. (Vol. 1, Home Education, p. 178-179)
Here we see, it isn't that Charlotte Mason is directly opposed to Kindergarten, which was a mistaken thought I used to hold, but rather, that she believed the best Kindergarten teacher is mother and the best setting is the home or the child's natural environment. She also advocated for the child to have plenty of sensory experiences, such as looking, listening, and touching the world around them. Charlotte Mason warned us about the perils of a structured classroom kindergarten back 100 years ago. She was also very specific about the qualities of the teacher, advocating that mother knows best.

Home educating affords us opportunities to provide a natural, loving environment for our kindergartners. You, as mother, are THE best teacher for your young child. No fancy curricula is needed. Simply let your child observe their natural world around them through beautiful books and time in the out-of-doors marveling at nature and God's creation. Let them play and pretend, developing their imaginations. Like Carol's kindergarten, sing songs, dance, introduce musical instruments, draw, finger paint, and play with clay. Allow your child those sensory opportunities. Expose them to great art and music. So many things we consider today as enrichment were absolute necessities to a liberal arts education in the past.

Finally, studies are showing better late than early may be the best approach. I recently read this blog that discusses Delaying kindergarten until age 7 offers key benefits to kids. I've been intrigued by Finland's approach to early childhood for some time. Could we come full circle after 100 years? Sometimes progress isn't always what it seems.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

2017-2018 Reflections - Week Four...

At Home

Last school year, I wrote 2016-2017 Weekly Reflections, reflecting once a week on our academics, as well as various happenings at home and linking articles around the web. Since these were popular posts, this year, I hope to continue in that same vein. However, the posts may or may not be weekly, depending. I'm undecided at this point. I'm actually hoping to spend less time on the computer and more time with my nose in a book this school year, so we'll see how it goes.

For now, I want to report that we are four weeks into the 2017-2018 school year. Riley has begun in earnest. You can find her Year 8 books here. She's enjoying most of her studies, particularly her science selections. She's made some great notebooking pages based on her readings. She also likes that her online math class is two days per week this year, versus one day last year. She said it's good to be able to touch base more frequently with the teacher, particularly if you have questions.

Riley's also loving her Beautiful Feet Medieval History study. She drew by hand, this beautiful world map on tag board over the first couple weeks of school...

I have been reading the following titles along with her as part of my Mother Culture. Also, in order to be able to understand her narrations and have more meaningful discussions...

The History of English Literature for Boys and Girls by H. E. Marshall - AO Year 7
The Once and Future King by T. H. White -  AO Year 7
Watership Down by Richard Adams -  AO Year 7
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott -  AO Year 7

This week, Riley and I have jointly decided to drop The Once and Future King. We had just finished chapter six in week three, when she came to me and wondered how it was going. Truth be told, my enthusiasm started strong, but quickly dissipated after week two. I was disappointed when they turned into sea creatures. At this same time, Riley was also reading King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green for her BF study. She decided to continue one more week of The Once and Future King, reading chapters 7 and 8, at which time, we talked again and decided to drop it. My thought is, there are too many great books to read a just so, so book that's not sparking ideas. To some, The Once and Future King is excellent. To us, it is not. I believe we gave it a fair shot and who knows, maybe down the road, we will revisit it. For now, the BF King Arthur book is satisfactory.

Ruben is also reading Ivanhoe and Watership Down along with us via audio. Ivanhoe is going just OK, but I feel it's too important to give up. I want us all to have a Sir Walter Scott experience and so we shall keep plugging on with this book. We are all loving Watership Down! Ruben actually got way ahead of Riley and I, which was OK since we had to return the audio to the library and wait our turn to get it back again. I may just break down and use my Audible credits for it.

Ruben and I are also reading Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo as part of his IEW Medieval History Themed Based Writing Lessons. Riley already read this same version of Beowulf through Beautiful Feet. Ruben's written two papers so far with IEW and he's doing a great job! I'm really glad I chose this program for him. It seems to be a good fit. Here are Ruben's paragraphs....

Week 2

 Life in the Middle Ages
          In the Middle Ages, knights and kings were thought to have lived in massive castles. It was not a glorious time for Europe. In the 400s the Western Roman Empire was crumbling. Sadly, warriors stormed and seized parts of it. They were not interested in arts or learning so it was called the Dark Ages. Knights and castles did not appear until the late 900s. Peasants worked from sunup to sun down for the noblemen. There were many hardships. Education and the glorious Roman culture were forgotten.

Week 3

The Anglo-Saxons
When the Western Roman Empire fell, the Anglo-Saxons crossed the North Sea. They invaded Britain. Angles settled the southern part of the island. They called it Angleland, which is modern day England. The Angles gave us the English language. Anglo-Saxons brought pagan gods. Woden, who was an Anglo-Saxon god, gave us our word Wednesday. In 598 AD, a monk named Augustine intrepidly came and enthusiastically preached to the Angles. He converted many of them to Christianity. The Anglo-Saxons proudly ruled England until 1066 AD.    

I have not officially started math with Ruben yet. I've been so busy working on the Journey: An Education for Life retreat among other things that I didn't have time to get organized. However, we will begin soon. His Year 7 book list is here

In regard to Morning Time, I need to do some reassessing. You can see our original 2017-2018 plan here. I'm really on the fence about How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. We're three chapters in and I don't really feel it's applicable at this point. I think I may wait until Riley and Ruben are older and revisit it. I also dropped Idylls of the King by Tennyson this past week, which makes me a little sad. I couldn't find the beat and we were all suffering. However, I may bring this one back when life slows a bit. I think it's an important read and I want my kids to experience it, but with the busyness of life, now may not be the time. 

All things considering, we are off to a good start. I really do look forward to some down time over the next couple of weeks to focus more on our studies. We have also opted to take a semester off from participating in our local homeschool choir. This is bittersweet as it's such a great opportunity. Yet, as mentioned, we really need some down time right now. Riley actually thanked me when I shared our decision to wait until spring. This solidified that it was the right decision for now.

Around the Web

I hadn't been reading blogs or listening to podcasts for about 4-6 weeks prior to the Journey retreat because I didn't want my talks to be skewed by someone else's thinking. However, today, I broke my fast and read a few articles that I really enjoyed....

Will This Curriculum Prepare My Student for College Level Writing? by Lisa Kelly is a commonly asked question. As a matter of fact, I was asked it last Saturday after one of my talks. So many mamas want to know if a CM education really will prepare their kids for the modern world. My answer is there is no better time than the present for a Classical Christian Charlotte Mason education!

I really liked Karen Glass's post on The Perfect Charlotte Mason Curriculum. Again, this was right in line with my first talk last weekend, in which I outlined 5 key ideas of Charlotte's philosophy on education. Personally, Vol. 6, A Philosophy of Education, is my favorite so far, but our CM Study Group is currently reading Vol. 1, Home Educationand it's a close second. 

Have you seen Celeste's Reading Journal? It's beautiful!...and something I've been desiring to begin this year as I read along Riley and Ruben. I actually did something similar for a bible study a couple of years ago, but it became too time consuming so I gave it up. However, I'd like to get back at it this winter. I'll keep you posted on my progress. 

Lastly, I'm working through Richele Baburina's 3-part Physics series at Sabbath Mood Homeschool. I look forward to hearing Richele's ideas. I greatly appreciated her Mathematics guide published by Simply Charlotte Mason

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Reflections on Journey:An Education for Life 2017...

Journey: An Education for Life

I'm still coming down from Journey: An Education for Life. Planning a homeschool retreat is exhausting and fulfilling all at that same time. It was a great day, in spite of 90 degree temps with no AC. There were new friendships forged and old ongoing. I loved seeing mamas relax, regenerate, and rejuvenate. We even had a couple of husbands attend.

The session descriptions and agenda were as follows:

9:00 a.m. Is a Charlotte Mason Inspired Education Relevant Today?: (Melissa Greene) 
The keynote will include a brief introduction to Charlotte Mason. There will be highlights of several key principles of Mason's philosophy as well as what a Charlotte Mason education is not. The talk will close with thoughts to ponder on whether or not a Charlotte Mason inspired education is relevant today.

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

12:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. Teaching Through Literature and Living Books: (Melissa Greene) Description and examples of living books, along with practical application on how to use them in your homeschool to cover a variety of subjects. Talk will also include ideas on how to use the methods that underlie Charlotte Mason's principles with traditional and struggling learners. Book lists and suggestions will be shared.

2:30 p.m. Charlotte Mason in Real Life: Courage for the Long Haul: (Cindy Rollins) Find joy in the realities of homeschooling when the romance fades. Thoughts from a veteran mama of nine on what truth, goodness, and beauty look like in real life. Strategies will be given for the long haul.

4:00 p.m. Q & A Panel Discussion: (Cindy Rollins, Gretchen Houchin, and Melissa Greene) All three speakers will come together to answer questions from attendees regarding home education in real life.

We did record the retreat, but I'm still waiting to hear if the audio quality is good enough to share. I can't wait to go back and listen again as there were many administrative duties so I wasn't able to focus on any one talk. However, I received great feedback and would love to do it again next year. Below are a few scenes from before and during the day...


We had to limit registration to 50 persons in order to get a seat for everyone. Originally, I was bummed about this. However, having a more intimate group turned out to be lovely on a variety of levels. There was a great deal of networking between participants throughout the day and time to take questions from everyone who asked.

Of course, it was a real treat to meet and work with Cindy Rollins. She was so encouraging and really took time to answer questions and talk with moms about a variety of issues. Both she and Gretchen are beautiful mamas that I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to partner with. I look forward to next year...

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.