Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Reflections on Home Education - Prefaces...

Home Education by Charlotte Mason is a compilation of six lectures given by Charlotte on the rearing and education of young children up to age nine or Year 3. It was first published in 1886 and has become Volume 1 in Charlotte's six volume series. After finishing our study of a Charlotte Mason education with Volume 6, A Philosophy of Education, our CM Study Group decided to go back and study Volume 1, Home Education.

This series of blog posts will be a compilation of my thoughts and the commonplace entries I've amassed while studying Home Education. It's my feeble attempt to understand and apply Charlotte's thoughts on education to my homeschool. These posts are certainly not a substitute for reading The Original Home Schooling Series. I highly encourage you to read them and disseminate for yourself. However, if you have read or are currently reading Home Education, I'd love to hear your thoughts and share encouragement in the comments section of these posts. So, without further ado, let's begin....


I copied the first paragraph of the Preface into my commonplace. Initially, I was a bit surprised. According to Charlotte, education was already becoming utilitarian in the late 1800's. However, after further thought, considering the times, the release of Darwin's theories of evolution, and the Industrial Revolution, it's really not that surprising. It was the beginning of the downward spiral in education we are on today.

Some other commonplace entries I copied from the Prefaces are as follows:
...it is 'necessary' to believe in God; that, therefore, the knowledge of God is the principle knowledge, and the chief end of education."
In the second paragraph, after Charlotte's lament about the educational outlook, we see her encourage her audience to lean heavily on faith as she believed God had a plan for every child in His creation.
Such a theory of education...must be in harmony with the thought movements of the age; must regard education, not as a shut-off compartment, but as being as much a part of life as birth or growth, marriage or work; and it must leave the pupil attached to the world at many points of contact.
Then, Charlotte references harmony in education and the fact that we need to be sure not to compartmentalize or segregate knowledge by subject. I believe this relates to her Principle 12.
...the child is a person with all the possibilities and powers included in personality.
One thesis, which is, perhaps, new, that Education is the Science of Relations, appears to me to solve the question of curricula, as showing that the object of education is to put a child in living touch with as much as may be of the life of Nature and of thought.  
The period of the child's life between his sixth and his ninth year should be used to lay the basis of a liberal education, and of the habit of reading for instruction. 
Immediately, when I look at my last three commonplace passages, I see the italicized words/phrases: person, Education is the Science of Relations, and habit. These were Charlotte's italics, not my own. Having studied Charlotte's 20 Principles, I understand the significance of these words/phrases to the point she was trying to make.

In Vol. 6, Charlotte states, "If we have not proved that a child is born a person with a mind as complete and as beautiful as his beautiful little body, we can at least show that he always has all the mind he requires for his occasions; that is, that his mind is the instrument of his education and that his education does not produce his mind." This is Charlotte's first principle and is absolutely foundational to education!! As Christian educators, we must understand and believe that God designed each of our child's minds for His purpose and not ours. Also, that the child's mind is not a blank slate to write our ideas on or an empty bucket for us to fill.

In the second passage, we again see her reference Principle 12 when suggesting a solution to the question of curricula. Charlotte advocated using a broad and generous curricula in order to cultivate a child's natural born affinities. We must expose our children to a wide variety of subjects in order to open up their natural God-given tendencies, being careful to avoid being utilitarian by training our kids for certain careers.

Finally, Charlotte references forming a habit. Habit training should be a big part of early childhood. This lays the foundation for later academic knowledge and according to Charlotte, is the purpose behind Volume 1. She says,
The particular object of this volume, as a member of the 'Home Education' Series, is to show the bearing of the physiology of habit upon education; why certain physical, intellectual, and moral habits are a valuable asset to a child, and what may be done towards the formation of such habits. 
In summary:

1. We must have a Logos, aka God, and believe that He is the principle knowledge and chief end of education.

2. The child is born person.

3. We must not segregate knowledge, but rather, let the Science of Relations principle be our guiding curricula

4. The training of moral habits is particularly important prior to age nine.

This my friends is only the beginning. I look forward to more....

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Weekly Reflections - Week Thirty-Five....

At Home

School's out for the summer! We are officially ending our 2016-2017 academic year. This week, Riley finished up her online math. Ruben finished up science. I'll be working on my homeschool audit over the next couple of weeks. I also hope to do exit interviews with the kids to see what they thought worked and what didn't and what skills they wish to improve over the course of the next year. I will be taking all things into consideration as I plan for fall.

Around the Web

I loved reading Rea Berg's homeschool story and seeing the photos of her young children in the five part Veteran Edition at Learning Well Community. I really respect her wisdom and years of experience. She was my favorite Great Homeschool Convention speaker!

Brandy released her 2017 Mother Culture Reading List earlier this week. I'm still on the fence about my reading choices this summer. I've been wanting to read something by C.S. Lewis and Stratford Caldecott's books are on my night stand, as is The Emperor's Handbook. Now that we've finished up our academic year, I have one more book selling event. Then I will have time to focus on summer reading. Before starting any new books, I really want to finish Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.

I recently found a new podcast that I'm enjoying. Greta Eskridge, Kristin Rogers, and company offer conversation about mothering, home life, and education on At Home Podcast. A friend recently put Podcast Addict on my Kindle and I've added At Home to my list. I'm moving up in the world with technology ;-)

I also purchased a bundle this week from Wild + Free. This gives you limited time access to many resources including past Wild + Free Conference talks, which I've been working through. So far, I've enjoyed Terri Woods, Greta Eskridge and Jodi Mockabee all introducing themselves and sharing rhythms from their homeschool day.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Julius Caesar

We read Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare for our fifth and final Middle School Socratic Book Club, back in March. It was our first attempt at a real Shakespeare play. We've done Lamb's Tales re-tellings, but not an original work. Unfortunately, our club never got to meet for discussion for a variety of scheduling reasons. However, Riley, Ruben, and I did an in depth study at home.

I chose the Oxford School Shakespeare version for our study because it has the complete unabridged text and I love the layout. Each play in this series has marginal notes to aid in overall understanding of difficult passages as well as vocabulary. There are also plot summaries on individual scenes, a list of leading characters, background information, photos, maps, and other helpful illustrations. Julius Caesar even held a few pages in the back with references from Shakespeare's Plutarch, based on a translation by Sir Thomas North.

Initially, I created character index cards for the first Act, which Riley, Ruben, and I divided up, each taking different parts. Then we read our assigned character's lines aloud. However, given some of the vocabulary, we decided to move to an audio version, following along with the book. The dramatization was extremely helpful in aiding understanding.

After listening/reading the entire play, we watched two different movie versions of Julius Caesar that I obtained through our local public library. The first starred Marlon Brando and the second Charlton Heston. We liked the second version better. It followed the play word for word until the end of the final Act, which was unfortunate.

Overall, I really enjoyed Julius Caesar and look forward to trying another Shakespeare play in the future. Riley thought the characters were pathetic because they were, in her words, whiny and cowardly men. Ruben preferred listening to the audio over reading or watching the films. Given the history of Caesar's time period that we studied this year, it was interesting to see their reactions.

Some of my commonplace entries are as follows....
Brutus: No, Cassius, for the eye sees not itself
But by reflection, by some other things. (Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 52-53)
Caesar: Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once. (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 32-33)
Decius: Most mighty Caesar, let me know some cause,
Lest I be laugh'd at when I tell them so.
Caesar: The cause is in my will. I will not come:
That is enough to satisfy the Senate. (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 69-72)
Brutus: Be patient till the last.
Romans, countrymen, and lovers, hear me for my
cause, and be silent that you may hear. Believe me for
mine honour, and have respect to mine honour that you
may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and awake
your senses that you may the better judge. If there be
any in this assembly, any dear friends of Caesar's, to him
I say that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his. If
then that friend demand why Brutus rose against
Caesar, this is my answer: not that I loved Caesar less,
but that I loved Rome more.... (Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 12-22)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2016-2017 Year in Review - Geography....

Riley finished her geography a couple of weeks ago so I thought I'd do a review because I did something a little unconventional this year. I purchased an older edition of the Classical Conversations Challenge A Guide online, then I rewrote some of lessons to suit our needs. When Riley and I observed the CC Challenge A last year, one of the things we both really liked was the geography portion. The map work is actually in line with how I understand Charlotte Mason taught map drill, although we did move a bit quicker than Charlotte most likely would have.

At the beginning of the year, I gave Riley a week-by-week overview of my expectations. It included a schedule for drawing each continent with some details, such as rivers, lakes, oceans, countries, capitals, mountain ranges, etc. It also included a list of geographic terms that I wanted her to learn. Riley was free to choose atlases and online maps to guide her study.

From there, each week, she drew or traced and labeled different parts of the world. Here's how I scheduled the drawings:

Weeks 1-3 Canada
Weeks 4-6 North America
Weeks 7-9 Central America
Weeks 10-12 South America
Weeks 13-18 Europe
Week 19 Western Hemisphere (review)
Weeks 20-15 Asia
Weeks 26-31 Africa
Weeks 32-33 Austrailia
Weeks 34-35 Oceania
Week 36 Review

So, each week for three weeks, Riley started with a blank piece of copy paper and drew or traced a map of Canada with provinces, capitals, assigned bodies of water and certain geographic features. She started out the year drawing all the maps, but eventually switched to tracing the map outlines from Uncle Josh's Outline Map Book in order to get the maps proportional without spending hours upon hours on each map. I was more interested in her acquiring geographic placement knowledge, than the art of map design.  Then she repeated this method for North America and so on and so forth throughout the year. She also kept a list of geographic terms. At the end of the year, she bound her maps with vocabulary in the back to create a beautiful Geography notebook, of which, I'm including photos below.

Her maps are lovely and she really has a good grasp on various locations around the world. Our Year 7 Geography was a success!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekly Reflections - Week Thirty-Four....

At Home

Rain, rain, go away! After having a week of gorgeous weather, it was hard to regress back to below normal temps, frost, and rain. Of course, on the other hand, we have boys, big and small, who live for puddles and mud. Levi loves riding his bike in the rain. Aside from the dismal weather, it was a good week.

We went to Como Zoo midweek. Levi didn't remember being there so it was especially fun for him. The big kids remembered most, but not all of the exhibits so they enjoyed it as well. Como Zoo is a wonderful free will donation park with a large variety of animals and we are fortunate to live within driving distance. It made a great day trip.

Our formal academic studies are definitely winding down. I told Ruben he could be done with his math this week. We also finished The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. Riley finished geography, science, and several living books she was reading over the third term. We plan to call it quits at the end of next week.

Around the Web

Karen Glass posted an interesting blog on whether Charlotte Mason was Classical or Not? It's a little long, but poses many excellent points. It also begs a question I had, what are the principles of classical education? Because there are no one set of principles or standards, understanding classical ed can be confusing. Many educators have differing opinions as classical ed has morphed over the centuries.

I also read a couple of articles by Heidi White over at CiRCE. Teacher, Teach Thyself offers a reminder that if we want to be imitated, we must first be worthy of imitation.
If classical educators must do for ourselves what we ask of our students, we must develop liturgies of lifelong learning in our lives.
Secondly, in Reading is Not Enough, White prompts us to read with purpose. She defines the difference between intentional and hobby reading. White admits to currently reading Charlotte Mason's A Philosophy of Education, which isn't surprising given the ideas presented in her post.

I've never thought of Latin as being the next step after phonics, however, in How Latin Helps Us Learn, Annie Holmquist presents her case with research and findings from other countries and a quote from Cheryl Lowe, founder of Memoria Press.

As mentioned last week, I'm working through The Online Homeschool Convention for Parents of 5-12 Year Olds. I watched Annette Breedlove talk on Transitioning Our Kids To The Next Big Phases: Kindergarten and Middle School, Dr. Christopher Perrin on Teaching Our Kids (And Ourselves) To Learn From Rest, Beth Bruno on Moms & Daughters: Preparing Our Girls To Become Women, Janice Campbell talking about Secret Weapons For Our Kid's Growth: Handwriting & Literature, Robert Bortins on Classical Conversations For Our Kids: A Community Approach, and Asheritah Ciuciu on Keys For Moms Being Closer To God Despite Our Busy Lives. Below are some take away thoughts I had....

Dr. Christopher Perrin

"...most effective means of teaching is tutoring" - puts me in mind of A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille.
- go deep with a few things
- make haste slowly (Festina Lente)
- humility and love are chief virtues...be encouraged because you are a tutor and truly love your kids, let that override any deficiencies

Beth Bruno

I plan to check out her free e-book, "Before the Clock Strikes Twelve, Preparing to Parent Teens".

Janice Campbell

- simplify and relax
- live creatively with art, music, great books, and nature

Asheritah Ciuciu

- has a sweet heart for ministering to women/moms
- practical ideas for time with God in the mist of the chaos of mothering

Monday, May 15, 2017

Vol. 6, A Philosophy of Education - An Index of Posts to Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles....

For ease of reference, here is an index of posts I produced after studying Charlotte Mason's Volume 6, A Philosophy of Education using Brandy Vencel's Start Here, a journey through Charlotte Mason's 20 principles. These principles are taken from "A Short Synopsis of the Educational Philosophy Advanced in this Volume" of A Philosophy of Education.

Principle 1. Children are born persons.

Principle 2. (part 1 - part 2) They are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and for evil.

Principle 3. The principles of authority on the one hand, and of obedience on the other, are natural, necessary and fundamental; but--

Principle 4. These principles are limited by the respect due to the personality of children, which must not be encroached upon, whether by the direct use of fear or love, suggestion or influence, or by undue play upon any one natural desire.

Principle 5. (5a & 6) (5b & 7) (5c & 8) Therefore, we are limited to three educational instruments--the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of living ideas. The P.N.E.U. Motto is: "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life."

Principle 6. When we say that 'education is an atmosphere,' we do not mean that a child should be isolated in what may be called a 'child-environment' especially adapted and prepared, but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the 'child's' level.

Principle 7. By 'education is a discipline,' we mean the discipline of habits, formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habits of mind or body. Physiologists tell us of the adaptation of brain structures to habitual lines of thought, i.e., to our habits.

Principle 8. In saying that 'education is a life,' the need of intellectual and moral as well as of physical sustenance is implied. The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum.

Principle 9. We hold that the child's mind is no mere sac to hold ideas; but is rather, if the figure may be allowed, a spiritual organism, with an appetite for all knowledge. This is its proper diet, with which it is prepared to deal; and which it can digest and assimilate as the body does foodstuffs.

Principle 10. Such a doctrine as e.g. the Herbartian, that the mind is a receptacle, lays the stress of education (the preparation of knowledge in enticing morsels duly ordered) upon the teacher. Children taught on this principle are in danger of receiving much teaching with little knowledge; and the teacher's axiom is "what a child learns matters less than how he learns it".

Principle 11. But we, believing that the normal child has powers of mind which fit him to deal with all knowledge proper to him, give him a full and generous curriculum; taking care only that all knowledge offered him is vital, that is, that facts are not presented without their informing ideas. Out of this conception comes our principle that,--

Principle 12. "Education is the Science of Relations"; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of--
"Those first-born affinities
That fit our new existence to existing things."
Principle 13. (part 1 - part 2 - part 3) In devising a SYLLABUS for a normal child, of whatever social class, three points must be considered:--
(a) He requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body.
(b) The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e., curiosity)
(c) Knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form.
Principle 14. As knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, children should 'tell back' after a single reading or hearing: or should write on some part of what they have read.

Principle 15. A single reading is insisted on, because children have naturally great power of attention; but this force is dissipated by the re-reading of passages, and also, by questioning, summarising, and the like.

Acting upon these and some other points in the behaviour of mind, we find that the educability of children is enormously greater than has hitherto been supposed, and is but little dependent on such circumstances as heredity and environment.

Nor is the accuracy of this statement limited to clever children or to children of the educated classes: thousands of children in Elementary Schools respond freely to this method, which is based on the behaviour of mind.

Principle 16. (16a & 17) (16b & 18)There are two guides to moral and intellectual self-management to offer to children, which we may call 'the way of the will' and 'the way of the reason.'

Principle 17. The way of the will: Children should be taught, (a) to distinguish between 'I want' and 'I will.' (b) That the way to will effectively is to turn our thoughts from that which we desire but do not will. (c) That the best way to turn our thoughts is to think of or do some quite different thing, entertaining or interesting. (d) That after a little rest in this way, the will returns to its work with new vigour. (This adjunct of the will is familiar to us as diversion, whose office it is to ease us for a time from will effort, that we may 'will' again with added power. The use of suggestion as an aid to the will is to be deprecated, as tending to stultify and stereotype character. It would seem that spontaneity is a condition of development, and that human nature needs the discipline of failure as well as of success.)

Principle 18. The way of reason: We teach children, too, not to 'lean (too confidently) to their own understanding'; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.

Principle 19. Therefore, children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas. To help them in this choice we give them principles of conduct, and a wide range of the knowledge fitted to them. These principles should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need.

Principle 20. We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children, but teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their Continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Weekly Reflections - Week Thirty-Three...

At Home

We bought new to us maps this week from a fellow homeschooler who was purging. I love that they are bigger than the other maps we had and uniform from the same publisher. This makes them more visually appealing than the last set and much easier to read due to a larger, darker font. One man's junk is another man's treasure ;-)

A couple of new book packages arrived this week, which is super exciting for a bibliophile like me!...SQUEAL! I'm thrilled with the opportunity to pair with Beautiful Feet to blog through their Medieval History Intermediate Study. This will be the third year they've graciously gifted us with a guide and misc. books in exchange for blogs about our history journey. One thing I love about BF is the flexibility it offers. Their history guides are just that, a guide, and the BF family expects that you will use it to suit your family. They appreciate the fact that no two family's homeschool will look alike.

Also, I've had the privilege to meet Russ, Rea, and Josh Berg in person as well as corresponding by e-mail with Rebecca and they are truly lovely people who have a passion for the Lord, great books, and homeschooling. I'm not just typing this for free books. I've actually used Beautiful Feet in some shape or form for at least seven out of our ten years of homeschooling. Even when I've stepped away for a short time for various reasons, I always come back to the beautiful no nonsense approach.

Over the last year, I've been piecing together Memoria Press's Tree Study. The Tree Book by Gina Ingoglia first sparked my interest at last year's GHC. Then in January, I purchased The Book of Trees by Sean Brooks and the Peterson Field Guide to Trees at the CiRCE Regional Conference. This year, at GHC, I sealed the deal with the student book and teacher guide. These last two books arrived this week.

I don't plan to complete a workbook study on trees. However, I like the black and white illustrations and diagrams in the student book and believe they may be helpful for Ruben to use as a model in creating his own drawings. There are also many questions that I can use for narration and writing prompts throughout. Our kids already know several trees, but I wanted to have a few extra resources as I plan to further their study. I really like the beautiful nature study books Memoria Press has put together.

Around the Web

Mystie hit a home run this week with her post Education in Life: Why Kids Need Chums, Church, & Chores.  Unscheduled free time with peers is definitely the best way to cultivate friendships!!! The only co-op type activities we participate in are book clubs and the purpose of the club is academic, not social. Promoting co-ops for social reasons is actually a peeve of mine. If one is seeking social opportunities, it should be just that, social, free range and organic, not structured with an alternate agenda.

This week, I read Brandy's post on how she teaches Latin. Teaching Latin has been on my heart for years. I attempted it with Riley in 5th grade and failed. She now has PTSD when I mention Latin, so I cower. However, I think it's about high time we both put our big girl panties on and start fresh....still thinking on this one!

I also spent the past week participating in The Homeschool Curriculum Online Summit hosted by Todd and Jessie. I listened to a variety of online interviews/seminars including the Opening Keynote Session with Davis and Rachael Carman, Teaching Math from a Christian Worldview with Katherine Loop, Why Teaching Science Is a Critical Part of Education (Even for Poets) with Sherri Seligson, Four Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing with Andrew Pudewa (my favorite!!), The Great American Reading Disaster and How You Can Make Sure Your Child Isn’t Part Of It! with Renee Ellison, Teaching History from a Christian Worldview – God Initiates, People Respond, History Happens! with Michelle Howard Miller, and The Timeline of Teaching History to Your Children with Diana Waring. I was bummed I missed Sonya Shafer, but sometimes life takes over.

If you're unable to attend a live homeschool conference, an online conference is a great option. Currently Great Homeschool Conventions has paired up with Jeremiah & Kimberly Callihan to bring you The Online Homeschool Convention for Parents of 5-12 Year Olds. I watched Brennan Dean and Jeremiah Callihan kick off the conference with the Opening Keynote: Convention Season Strategies. I haven't made it back there yet, but hope to see Kathy Lee from The Homegrown Preschooler, Dr. Jay Wile speak on science, Kathy Kuhl on Understanding and Helping Our Struggling Learners, Janice Campbell on handwriting and literature, and of course, I don't want to miss Dr. Christopher Perrin speak on learning from rest. There are others that I may attend as well, if time permits. The conference runs through May 23rd so even if you've missed some sessions, there are still many more to come!

Charlotte Mason Study Group

I had the pleasure of meeting with my CM sisters last night and it was fabulous! I feel so fortunate to have found fellowship with other like minded homeschoolers in my area. There were seven of us in attendance and our reading for discussion was from Charlotte Mason's Vol. 1, Home Education. It was in regard to "Out-of-Door Life for Children', which fit very well with the science research I've been doing over the past couple of weeks. One mom brought science books that her son is using this year from AO Year 7, two other moms brought student nature journals, and we pulled books from my homeschool shelves to add to the discussion. It was three hours of delightful respite! I for one, needed this shot in the arm to finish the year strong.

If you haven't found your tribe yet, there's no better time than the present. I highly encourage you to plug in. If there's not a desired group in your area, create one! If you are rural or remote or there are no homeschoolers in your area, I would encourage you to look online. All it takes it one other person to connect with.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Rhetoric Companion - A Review....

What is rhetoric? We often hear the term as a negative connotation in terms of modern politics. Merriam-Webster defines rhetoric as the art of speaking or writing effectively. Some educators say it is the capstone of classical Christian education. In a world driven by social media, rhetoric is the goal our students should be aiming to reach. Along this vein, N.D. Wilson and Douglas Wilson have written The Rhetoric Companion, A Student's Guide to Power in Persuasion. I was recently gifted a copy from Timberdoodle in an exchange for a review.

The Rhetoric Companion is an easy to read guide. According to the back cover, it offers 31 "lively and practical lessons" covering the following material and more...

  • A critical appreciation of the essential ancient rhetoric texts
  • The Pauline view of presentation and persuasion
  • How to develop copiousness and leave an audience wanting more
  • The concept of "stasis theory" and how to grasp the crux of an argument
  • How successful proof obligates an audience to believe
  • Composition exercises with each lesson
  • Suggested reading material for each lesson from Artistotle's Rhetoric, the Rhetorica Ad Herennium, or Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria

The Rhetoric Companion is designed as an independent course with assigned readings from Aristotle and Quintilian. However, if your student wants or needs further study in rhetoric, lessons four through eight of The Rhetoric Companion deal with the Five Canons of Rhetoric, making it a possible good fit with The Lost Tools of Writing by the CiRCE Institute. Later lessons explore a variety of fallacies, making The Rhetoric Companion a potential pair with The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn.

Each lesson is four to six pages, providing commentary, suggested reading, exercises, and review questions. The exercises give practice in writing and speaking rhetorically. For example, the lesson one exercise says:
Find twenty-five short, well-written excerpts from any outside reading and copy them (with citation) into a commonplace book. Select the strongest ten and work on delivering them orally until you can do them justice. Introduce and deliver them publicly. (p. 15)
I envision the review questions either to be done independently by the student on paper or as discussion questions with a parent or classmates. There is a brief 54-page answer key available for the review questions.

Given the assigned speeches and opportunities for suggested public speaking, I think The Rhetoric Companion would make an excellent co-op or group study for older students. In the Introduction, Wilson and Wilson state, "This text is designed for students of classical rhetoric who are old enough to drive, and young enough to still be breathing." Timberdoodle includes The Rhetoric Companion in their Twelfth Grade Kit. I would agree that it would best serve upper level high school students.

Overall, I enjoyed reviewing The Rhetoric Companion by N.D. Wilson and Douglas Wilson. Obviously, my kids are not old enough to work through the study at this point. However, I do plan to keep The Rhetoric Companion and re-visit its possibilities when they reach the appropriate developmental stage. If you're searching for guidance in teaching rhetoric before your student graduates, I would encourage you to consider The Rhetoric Companion, A Student's Guide to Power in Persuasion.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Reflections on A Handbook to Morning Time....

As part of my 2017-2018 academic planning and GHC preparation, I recently read A Handbook to Morning Time by Cindy Rollins. It's an extremely light read, but very inspirational for those already or wishing to implement morning time. We did 'morning time' for many years without knowing it had a name. However, we got away from it this year when Riley asked to be separated from Ruben in her studies. Throughout the year, I have consistently felt like something was missing. I have now put my finger on the lack being our morning time, which I definitely plan to implement again in the fall.

In the first chapter of A Handbook to Morning Time, Cindy gives a brief explanation of what morning time is and lays out the elements of morning time. In subsequent chapters, she goes more in depth on each of these elements. These elements are a big part of what makes a Charlotte Mason education and yet, many would see them as enrichment. The elements Cindy includes in morning time are...

Morning Meeting - where one takes care of family business including chore assignments/reminders and gives a list of activities for the day. This would be especially helpful for large families or to get everyone on the same page.
Bible Reading
Composer/Artist Study
Language Arts - specifically grammar
Read Aloud
Nature Study - using field guides and living books to draw in nature notebook

I loved Cindy's conversational writing style as well as the end chapters on how to deal with toddlers, teens, and troublemakers. Cindy also included unedited samples of her morning time journals. One of my favorite things she wrote that I entered in my commonplace was....
Even though education is the training of affections, it is often a future hope. Some of you will have a certain temperament of child who will revel in Shakespeare. Great. But if reading Shakespeare is good, and it is, then you can afford to read it even when it is unappreciated; just keep it short. Do not weary the children with pushing through too much material. (p. 63)
Cindy concludes with a plan and list of recommended morning time resources. A Handbook to Morning Time is a short 112 page how to handbook that really packs a powerful punch. I would recommend it if you're thinking about beginning morning time or if you're struggling in your morning time. It's a handbook that I will definitely be referencing throughout my homeschool planning years.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Weekly Reflections - Week Thirty-Two...

At Home

It's a gorgeous day here on Drywood Creek! The kids mowed the lawn and tilled the garden. I've been sorting book finds from a couple of sales we hit this week and doing laundry. I also re-potted tomato plants that Levi and I started from seed. Hopefully, they'll be ready to go outside in a couple of weeks. Then the kids and I went for a walk and built a fire pit in an awesome spot they found earlier this spring. We plan to set up camp this summer. I'll post more about it as it comes to fruition.

Regarding books, the kids are finishing up odds and ends. I sold the HOD Creation to Christ program Ruben was using this year. I made a few notes of things we'll work on over the last couple of weeks of school, but for the most part, we were both done. with. it! We're still working on reading The Bronze Bow. It is so good!  We also started City by David Macaulay this week. Ruben is really enjoying it. He's paged through, looking at the illustrations several times.

Riley got caught up on her math. She also had her choir concert this week. We are so blessed to have a local homeschool choir! Soli Deo Gloria was started about fifteen years ago by a homeschool mom with a music degree. Her kids have since graduated from homeschooing and are now at college, but she is continuing the program for the rest of our benefit. There are around 300 kids that participate in three different vocal choirs, handbells, and chimes. They learn to sing a variety of songs including bible verses, hymns, classical, patriotic, and folk songs. This semester, Riley's choir, Jubilate Deo, pictured above, sang Festival Sanctus, which is a call to worship in Latin, and Words We Live By, which included the Preamble to the Constitution, The New Colossus, and The Gettysburg Address. It was a lovely evening!

Around the Web

I'm still looking at middle school science options for fall.  This week, I listened to A Delectable Education podcast #20, 21, 22, 23, and 24, all relating to science. As mentioned last week, I was looking at Nicole Williams' science. I've also spent some time this week looking at Ambleside Online's Year 7 and 8 science, as well as Lisa Kelly's, A Mind in the Light Year 7 and 8 science. I'm still undecided about exact books, but I'm getting a pretty good feel for some options. Of course, I'll be consulting Charlotte Mason's writings before making a final decision.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Economics for Everybody - A Review....

I received a copy of Economics for Everybody by R.C. Sproul Jr. from Timberdoodle for review. It was formerly part of their 12th grade curriculum kit. 

Economics for Everybody is a DVD series of twelve lectures. Each lecture being between 15 and 27 minutes. Lessons 1-5 introduce key economic principles. Lessons 6 and 7 explain the relationship between theology, philosophy, and economics. Lessons 9-12 examine the application of economics in real-life systems. The program includes two DVDs and a 234-page Study Guide. The lessons in Economics for Everybody are intended to be done at a pace of one per week, giving you twelve weeks or one term worth of study. Each lesson in the Study Guide is broke down into several parts. These being:

Message Introduction
Suggested Scripture Reading
Learning Objectives
Lecture Outline
Multiple Choice Questions
Short Answer Questions
Discussion Questions
A list of suggested books "For Further Study"

Economics for Everybody states it is designed for churches and small groups, middle or high schoolers, or families and individuals. Although, I watched several lessons with my middle schoolers and they were a bit lost. I think the content would better serve high school or upper level students.

According to Sproul, "The study of economics begins with God and His creation of the world....Economics is a scientific study of how God ordered the world."  Sproul is a Calvinist christian minister and Economics for Everybody is an unabashedly christian program.

The DVD lectures show images of Sproul talking while intermittently, many black and white clips, some Laurel and Hardy, are shown illustrating his point. My kids enjoyed the visual aspect of the lectures, but again, some of the lecture concepts were a little confusing for them, particularly lessons 1 and 2, which seemed very philosophical. However, as the lectures continued, Sproul began to use real life examples to aid understanding. By lesson 4, Ruben was making connections like crazy!

Overall, I enjoyed Economics for Everybody and would recommend it. However, it would not suffice for a stand alone high school Economics credit. I believe one would have to include suggested readings in the "For Further Study" in order to count it as such or add some other type of economics supplement. I am thankful for the opportunity to review this product and will definitely use Economics for Everybody in the future in some capacity at the high school level.