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