Summertime Learning Options

Summertime learning

 

If you stick to a traditional schooling schedule, you and your children are either already finished up with the school year or limping along towards the finish line. Either way, you have the whole summer ahead of you and many homeschooling families choose to extend learning even during academic downtime. In my home it looks something like unit studies or a 1-4 weeks focused on something I’d like my children to learn but cannot fit into the normal school year. Shakespeare, I’m looking at you.

We recently moved across country to a place where we can be outside more as a family. Hiking, exploring, and enjoying God’s beautiful handiwork through nature has been a dream of mine and my husband for years. This summer we will naturally be outdoors and learning through unstructured nature study. We will learn about outdoor safety, the plants and animals native to our new home state, and how to Leave No Trace as we care for the world God gave to us to care for.

Here a few links to helpful resources as you think on what to learn about during your summer downtime. Obviously each family is different and so not all ideas will be useful to you, but hopefully there is enough here for you to get started on extending hands-on learning through enjoyable and restful activities. After you go through the list, would you please add your own ideas in the comments?

Take Part in Summer Reading Programs

Each program is different so choose one that makes reading enjoyable for your children and not just a chore detracting from their summer break. If you don’t find one that will work for your own family, make your own!

  • Local libraries – many library systems have their own summer reading program for the kids in their area. If your’s does not, check out nearby library system (this route may require a fee).
  • Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program 2017 – Per the website, children can earn a free book from a chosen list if they complete 8 books.
  • Read the World Summer Book Club – This is a good way to learn about the many different places in our world through books. Jamie has put together printables and extra materials to help make this fun for the kids AND Mom and Dad. You can even use this to help earn money for Love146, a ministry that works toward fighting against child trafficking. (Please note that I am not endorsing this ministry, merely sharing it for informational purposes.)

Go Outdoors!

This is near and dear to my heart. Our family is slowly taking steps from a sedentary, indoors lifestyle to one of being physically active and exploring the great outdoors. Depending on where you live, it may be hard to do during the summer months and so you may want to tuck these ideas away for when your weather is more to your liking.

  • Junior Ranger program – we love state and national parks but have yet to involve our children in the very popular Junior Ranger program. That will change this summer! Children can earn badges at the park or at home.
  • Birding – The Audubon Society has lots of great ideas on learning about and taking care of wild birds. Make sure to download their free app to help identify the birds you may have in your own backyard.
  • Geocaching – Geocaching is like a treasure hunt and is a great way to get the kids outdoors to explore while learning how to navigate and use technology.

Learn a New Skill

  • Jam – LEGO projects, make your own Minecraft video show, and drawing courses are some of the skills your kids can learn
  • DIY.org – Your children can earn digital patches as they complete challenges on everything from art to business to philosophy to science
  • ChopChop Cooking Club
  • Piano lessons
  • Tynker – Coding courses for kids

 

Don’t forget that summer is a good time for teacher development. While you are busy planning for the next school year, why not catch up on your own reading? Research educational philosophies such as classical, Charlotte Mason, and others. Take time to evaluate what is working for you and what isn’t. If you need to make changes, now is the time to plan for it, remembering that you don’t have to go whole hog in any one educational philosophy. Remember to also read for fun or catch up on books that will expand your own education. (Here are the books that I want to read this year. Maybe you’ll find one that will help you in your educational journey.)

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3 Remarkable Reasons for Reading School Out Loud

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photo credit: Ben White Photography

This post is an oldie but a goodie from a previous blog I owned. Some links may be affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Enjoy!

Learning generally involves a lot of writing. Maybe it isn’t handwritten, but maybe on a board or computer? (I almost wrote typewriter. Hello!) We also tend to sit quietly and read internally whatever we are trying to learn from. Is this the best way of learning? Do we find ourselves at a mental roadblock because we just cannot understand what we are trying to learn? If it involves a book of any kind, textbook or not, why not say the work out loud instead?

Saying things out loud gives our brains something new to do

Yes, we can mix up our school hours a little differently by moving around or playing games, but what if neither of those options is available? Maybe your child or yourself is finding it hard to really concentrate on the subject at hand. New concepts can be difficult for us to grasp when we are looking at seemingly endless words and it isn’t connecting the first time – or second or third!

That’s okay. Give your kid’s brain something new to do by having them do their school work out loud. This really is not a radical idea but it isn’t something we think about naturally. One example from our household is grammar. Grammar is a subject that we do in easy, incremental steps. In my mind, it’s pretty cut and dry, but for my kids, these are new ideas and rules they are learning. It can seem overwhelming trying to understand how our language works and how to apply it properly. There have been occasional tears over this and that is my cue to gently say “Why don’t we do our grammar lesson out loud instead of writing it?” My kids are always eager to do this; grammar becomes somewhat of a game and our brains are given something new to do.

Doing work out loud builds relationships

Huh? Builds relationships? Yes! When my children and I move from sitting down together and looking at a text to putting the text down and looking at each other, we are interacting on a different level. When we look at each other while reciting helping verbs, we are also speaking to each other instead of focusing on a book. I’d like to say that any prior frustrating melts away – it doesn’t always – but many problems seem to diminish because learning alone becomes learning together. Reading out loud forces me to look the other person in the eye. I’m reminded of their learning style and personality and can change the way we are approaching school that day quickly. Reading silently from a book does not do that.

Out loud means we are remembering more

Everyone has different ways of memorization. One way my kids and I learn to memorize is by saying out loud what we need to remember. When you do school orally, you are using the same method. You are not necessarily repeating the same thing over and over again – though, with grammar lessons, that would not surprise me! – but you are adding one more step to the learning process. A person remembers what they say out loud more than they will remember what they might read in passing. It really doesn’t matter what we are learning about. It will more than likely be remembered easily as you verbally express it.

Bonus tip: With anything that involves a list, especially something such as grammar, sing the list out loud with a well-known melody. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is a pretty good one for this.

Any way that school happens, there are going to be times when how things are usually done just come full stop. This doesn’t mean that learning has to end. Maybe something just needs to be mixed up and done differently. Read the school work out loud instead of just reading it quietly. This gives our brains a break by doing something new, builds relationships, and helps us remember the subject matter.

Do you like learning out loud? Have you tried it yourself or with your kids? If not, give it a try and let me know how it goes. Comment below or contact me from that little email icon up to the top right.

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Learn to Move and Move to Learn

Learn

This post is an oldie but a goodie from a previous blog I owned. Some links may be affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Enjoy!

 

One person whose work I find absolutely fascinating is a biomechanist named Katy Bowman. By now, I’m sure you’ve read about how “Sitting is the New Smoking,” and how a sedentary lifestyle is not the best. Just as it is known that healthy food is necessary for our bodies to function well, Katy is passionate about how natural movement is instrumental in having a healthy body. Her blog at Nutritious Movement is educational (while sometimes a little over my head) and was instrumental in showing me a different way of viewing our homeschool days. A little bit more about Katy in a minute.

Now lets talk about education and how it relates to stillness. Have you noticed that in North America, a lot of learning is done at a table while sitting. I have no studies to point this out but I believe it is a given. Look at any picture of school, wherever it is being held (public, private, home) and someone is generally sitting at a table. Many homeschoolers move away from that a bit and utilize a sofa or love seat. All in all, either way invites lots of sitting.

I do not know about you, but in my home, I have a child who moves a lot. This kid moves so very much that it feels often as if you are in the same room as a whirlwind. The movement is so much, so overwhelming to the introverts in my family, but so very necessary for my little one. And so when the struggle to “do school” with this kid began, I found myself having to look for ways to match the learning with the energy. It was a moment when I, as teacher and parent, had to search out a solution to make a learning environment that was best for her.

I began to observe this child of mine. Really, really watch. This kid didn’t naturally gravitate towards chairs or couches. They bounded over tables, scooted under tables, ran around the island in the kitchen, and attempted to climb trees. But the one thing that was done when the child actually did stop to ponder something or examine a leaf on the ground was to squat.

Have you noticed that in your own home or with children you spend time with? They squat a lot when they are small. Play with a toy: squat on the ground. Eat a snack: squat in a chair. Look at a book: squat. It’s very natural to them, surprisingly so because most adults in the USA find it nearly impossible. These kids are not usually stopping to get up in a chair to do any of those activities. I began to wonder why it was that a child has no problem squatting as they work, why do they do it, and what happens between early childhood and adulthood to make us lose that natural inclination.

This blog post will not answer those specific questions but they were the catalyst to me learning how to change around our school days. Remember Katy? In searching for reasons for squatting, I found her blog and began to eat up the information. Her books found their way to our shelves and her posts were printed out for me to read and share with my husband. Her love of natural movement encouraged me to change how I moved about my home and while walking, and this quite naturally flowed down to encouraging my children.

We began by moving away from the table when it was time to focus on our studies. Many of us were to taught to sit in ergonomically helpful chairs and to practice proper posture. I scrapped that. The beauty of books and pencils and paper is that they can be moved wherever we need them to be. And so, my mover-and-shaker child was encouraged to sit on the floor, or lay on the tummy while reading. They are allowed to do school work wherever their little heart desires because this is what works for them. There are still lots of wiggles going on but we are working with those wiggles while learning and expending lots of energy at the same time. It really has made all the difference in the world.

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So. If your days are long and hard and energy abounds, I highly suggest getting on the floor or standing somewhere new. Maybe stand at the kitchen counter while doing math. Read aloud that funny anecdote you read online while laying on your back. Move around and take frequent breaks if that is what you or your child(ren) need to make the learning and home environment that is best for your family.

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3 Terrific Books for Curious, Nature Loving Kids

3 Terrific Books for

 

This post is an oldie but a goodie from a previous blog I owned. Some links may be affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Enjoy!

One of my kids adores animals and bugs and all things great outdoors. At not even two, I caught her studying small insects on a tree for at least 15 minutes. She just stared and stared at it, storing into her brain the way it moved and looked, and what it did. As she got older, she devoured books about animals and bugs. She still goes off on her own for hours to read and randomly shares the knowledge she has learned with us. She surprises me often, answering a question we have about something, all from remembering what she has read in her books.

I asked her to pick her top three favorite animal and nature books. She has dozens of them but it was not a hard choice for her. The first book in this list she has read multiple times, cover to cover. The last two she got for her birthday last year and they are really beautiful books. The pictures alone are enough reason to add these selections to the shelves in your home.

Smithsonian Super Nature Encyclopedia, Derek Harvey

Oh my goodness, my daughter has read this oodles of times. The binding is falling apart and the pages are starting to look well-loved on the ends. This is the one book she would pick if she had to for a deserted island. The headers on each page are made to be attention getting. “Fussiest Eater” and “Beach Bulldozer” and “Greatest Artist” are rather sensationalist but they are useful for drawing in kids who might otherwise not be interested in this subject matter. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates are covered, with interesting facts on how they live, move, and sense things.

 

Animalium, Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

The front of this book has a ticket-looking sticker with the words “Welcome to the Museum: Admit All” printed on it. This is a great hint at what is inside this book. When you open this book, the beautiful illustrations are museum quality. The intent is to make you feel as if you were actually at a natural history museum, but without having to leave your home. Of course, I am all for experiencing life, but if you are unable to visit a museum, this book is a welcome alternative. Inside are 6 visual and written galleries that showcase invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The descriptions are short and to the point, with just enough information to whet the appetite and perhaps provide the push to do more digging around on one’s own.

 

 

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of the Natural World, Julia Rothman

This book is amazing! I love the feel and look of it. You could truly use this as a science curriculum for the younger years. It is a great overview of our world and makes learning interesting and beautiful. Those who do any kind of nature journaling will appreciate the illustrations and the occasional cursive writing entries. This book covers so much! Layers of the art, neighborhood animals, insects, flowers, birds, ecosystems, trees. If your child cannot read cursive writing, you will need to help them with some pages, but there is so much here for any person of any age to enjoy. I cannot recommend this book enough. I love it (I bet you can tell, huh?).

I’m always in search of great nature and animal books for my kiddos. If you have any recommendations, please share below in the comments. Thank you!

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Three Things I Wish I Had Done When I Started Homeschooling

3things

 

June will mark the end of my family’s ninth year of homeschooling. It feels longer than that but the math has been done and it doesn’t lie. This fall my oldest will begin the high-school years and goodness gracious do I feel like that is another level of insanity altogether.

Here and there, blog posts have been popping up in my Feedly account with titles such as “What I would do differently” or “Things I wish I had known.” What homeschooling parent has not thought of things they would have done differently if they had the knowledge of well-earned years? Since we cannot know what we have not yet learned, we start by doing our best and hoping it will all work out in the end.

I think it is helpful for younger homeschooling parents to learn from the older ones. Now, I have not graduated a child yet, so I can only give limited advice. If I start telling you the best way to teach the high school years, then run for the hills, because I haven’t been through that yet. But the early years I have done many many many times and so I would like to think my experience is worth something.

All that being said, here are my three top things I would have done differently:

Educated myself on different educational philosophies

My first mistake when I began homeschooling was looking at all the curricula available. What could I afford? What would be all-encompassing and fit my child’s personality perfectly? (Haha!) What would be a sure-fire way to make sure he learns to read by 4 and can draw like van Gogh at 7 while putting him on the path towards graduating from Harvard at 13?

should have started by reading up on the different educational philosophies available. You’ve heard of many of them, I’m sure: Classical, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, classroom model, unit studies, eclectic, Waldorf, Montessori, Thomas Jefferson, etc. etc. etc., breathe in and breathe out. Whoo! There is just so much out there in regards to the how and why we teach the way we do. The truth is that we can save ourselves much time and money if we can look at a curriculum and know if it will or will not fit into our chosen philosophy for home education.

Not started too early

I remember being quite eager to “start school” when my oldest was still a toddler. Curriculum purchased, I readied myself with all sorts of recommended materials. We followed that curriculum to a t, sitting at a small made-for-the-classroom table and treating the time as if we were a public school environment instead of learning at home. The natural curiosity my child had was pushed aside for my need to be the teacher. The materials I had spent time and money on became tools of instructing instead of tools to facilitate curiosity. I’d love to be able to say that I quickly learned this was not jiving with my personal educational philosophy, but unfortunately that philosophy was not yet formed. “You live, you learn” they say, whoever they may be, but by the third child, any formal curriculum for the tender young years was trashed and a mode of learning that matched my child’s maturity level and bent towards natural curiosity was used instead.

Spent more time outside

Note: If you are modeling after the public school classroom, then obviously this will go against your educational philosophy and this section will not be helpful for you.

We spent a lot of time indoors. Looking back, the majority of our days, even during the moments we were schooling, should have been outside. What better way to broach the subject of science than by observing our natural world? The sun’s rays of vitamin D are the perfect pick-me-up for the grumpies (and I’m not necessarily talking about the kids. Ahem.) Moving around and sitting somewhere new and enjoying the weather in a great, big, wide-open classroom is an amazing way to lift the spirits.

Of course, many of us don’t have the luxury of a safe place to be outdoors to learn, or maybe the weather is not conducive to the outdoor classroom. Or maybe, just maybe, you live in the land of postage stamp backyards with nothing but a bit of grass (I’m looking at YOU, North Texas!). Well, we have to make do. Open up windows or even just the blinds. Bring in artwork about nature. Find local state or national parks, city green areas, outdoor science programs. Sometimes it takes more work than we would like. But it is so worth it, I promise.

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I’d love to hear from veteran homeschooling parents what things they wished they had done before they started homeschooling. Please share in the comments section!

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Power, Love, and Self-Discipline

power love self-discipline

 

February, the month of slump, is over. How did you do? Did you struggle in your vocation as homeschooling parent? Were you going strong, determined to beat the blues? Did you peter out or end the month with fanfare?

Regardless of how these 28 days went, remember the gift God gives His children. Power. Love. Self-discipline.

Tears over math? Show love.

Definition of a noun forgotten (even though we’ve recited at least 100 times)? Practice self-discipline.

Struggling with the feeling of being “not enough”? Remember God’s power.

You are doing a good job, Mama.

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My Favorite Latin Program

favorite latin program

(Please note: while there are some Amazon affiliated links in this post, this is NOT a sponsored post. I was not sent this book for review. I am only offering this review of a book I purchased with my own funds in order to share curriculum that I believe will be helpful to other homeschooling families.)

Why do we study Latin? Why is a dead language still very much part of our world? Is it worth taking time out of our day to learn something that we will not be using to communicate with another person?

Quite simply: yes.

Susan Wise Bauer shares wisely in The Well-Trained Mind, 4th Ed. that

“Latin trains the mind to think in an orderly fashion. Latin (being dead) is the most systematic language around. The discipline of assembling endings and arranging syntax (grammar patterns) according to sets of rules is the mental equivalent of a daily two-mile jog. And because Latin demands precision, the Latin-trained mind becomes accustomed to paying attention to detail, a habit that will pay off – especially when studying math and science.

Latin improves English skills. The grammatical structure of English is based on Latin, as is about 50 percent of English vocabulary. The student who understands how Latin works is rarely tripped up by complicated English syntax or obscure English words. And for decades, critical studies have confirmed that children who are taught Latin consistently score higher than their peers in reading comprehension, vocabulary, and even critical thinking and problem solving.”

These are all necessary and good things to learn and develop. Mental strength, focus on details, reading comprehension, critical thinking are all virtues incumbent upon me to teach my children. The problem is that many Latin programs are very teacher and student intensive.  At this busy time of life I just cannot spend more time than is needed to get the job done. Searching Latin curricula became problematic for me because what is offered on the market is much too teacher- and student-intensive than I am willing to give. Simple and straight to the point, the Ernest Hemingway of Latin programs, is what I looked for. It also needed to be easy enough for my definitely Latin-unknowledgable brain. And please, no cutesy singing because it ends up annoying rather than driving memory.

Through my research, Getting Started with Latin by William E. Linney was mentioned often. I admittedly looked it over so many times because it was too inexpensive, not bulky enough, too easy looking, too whatever. I needed simple but also something concrete and beneficial. The cost and simplicity drove me to it and I figured if it didn’t work out, I would not have invested much money in it.

It was worth it.

 

GSWL-Blog
Getting Started with Latin is inexpensive whether you choose the Kindle version or the printed book. If you look at some of the other popular Latin options you will find their cost is significantly higher. GSWL is financially feasible for most homeschooling families. Alongside that benefit, the lessons are simple. The format is straightforward: learn a new Roman verb and then translate about 10 latin sentences. Free .mp3 files at the Getting Started with Latin site give pronunciation help in either classical form or ecclesiastical form along with files in which the author, William E. Linney, has recorded short lectures for each lesson. I was delighted to learn that Mr. Linney offers a free, online Latin class to follow completion of Getting Started with Latin.

A couple of things to keep in mind are that sometimes I would like a bit more explanation on a few things. What is that flat bar symbol above some of the letters called and why/when is it used? Also, depending on your student, you will find that you may have to make up your own review or quizzes as these are not provided in this book.

Mr. Linney also offers a similar French and Spanish curriculum. My daughter and I were going through a French program this past year and she remarked to me “Mom, I wish that there was a French curriculum in the same format as my Getting Started with Latin book.” Fortunately for her, there is.

 

Which Latin curriculum have you used? What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it? Have you used Getting Started with Latin? If so, what did you think about it?

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This post is NOT sponsored. I am only offering this review in order to share curriculum that I believe will be helpful to other homeschooling families. That being said, some of the links are affiliate links.

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2017 Book List

2017 Book List

photo credit: James Barker Photography

This is the year in which I will read more books. At least that is what I tell myself. My Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2017 is 52 books, one for each week. (By the way, if you are not on Goodreads, you should check it out. It is very helpful in keeping track of books you read, own, want to read, etc. You can also make friends on there with similar reading interests. Many books that end up on my night table are because someone on my friends list was reading it. You can create your own yearly challenge or look me up. This is not a sponsored post, I promise; I just really love Goodreads!)

My mind and soul do better when I read. My tastes are such that you won’t find much fluff on my nightstand. My mind must be challenged, to learn something new or to strengthen the underpinnings of a framework already adhered to. Words are inherently powerful because the meaning to them is more broad and full of impact than just ink on paper or electronic words on a reading device. Our family is going through a rather trying time and books have kept us afloat, young and old alike.

To this end, to encourage others to realize the significance of reading, here is my tentative list of 2017 Books to Be Read. It is a fluid list, destined to be changed. I’ll put an asterisk next to them when I’ve finished them, a plus sign if I am currently reading them, and use strikethrough if I’ve taken it off my TBR shelf. Perhaps I will review some of them. Each of these links and pictures will be affiliate links. Enjoy!

 

2017 Book List

Fiction

*The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

*The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, Geraldine Brooks

Ordinary Grace: A Novel, William Kent Krueger

 

The Eve Tree: A Novel, Rachel Devenish Ford

A Man Called Ove: A Novel, Fredrik Backman

Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift

The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

Watership Down: A Novel, Richard Adams

Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy

Burial Rites, Hannah Kent

Jacob’s Oath: A Novel, Martin Fletcher

*Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra

Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

*At the Water’s Edge: A Novel, Sara Gruen

*Me Before You: A Novel, Jojo Moyes

Poetry

The Illiad/The Odyssey, Homer

The Epic of Gilgamesh, Anonymous

Dramas and Plays

Aeschylus: Agamemnon

Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare

Biographies and Memoirs

The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself

The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe

All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir, Brennan Manning with John Blase

Religion

Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist; Karen Swallow Prior

St. Augustine’s Confessions

Memorize the Faith! (and Most Anything Else): Using the Methods of the Great Catholic Medieval Memory Masters, Kevin Vost

The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy L. Sayers

Holiness for Housewives: And Other Working Women, Hubert van Zeller

I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Thérèse of Lisiuex, Jean C. J. d’elbée

+Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis

Politics and Social Sciences

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

History

History of the Peloponnesian War, Thycydides

The Histories, Herodotus

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom, Catherine Clinton

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, Robert K. Massie

Education

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, Ken Ludwig

The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education, Ravi Jain and Kevin Clark

+A Philosophy of Education, Charlotte M. Mason

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace, Sarah Mackenzie

Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education, Stratford Caldecott

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

*A Twaddle-Free Education: An Introduction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas,  Deborah Taylor-Hough

Philosophy

Michel de Montaigne – The Complete Essays

Read-Alouds with my Children

*The Time Machine, retold, H.G. Wells

Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers, Ralph Moody

All-of-a-Kind Family, Sydney Taylor

+The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling

Health and Fitness

The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can, Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, Gretchen Reynolds

Parenting

*Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him, Sally Clarkson, Nathan Clarkson

 

The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow, Shawn L. Fink

Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children, Sarah Clarkson

*Habits: The Mother’s Secret to Success, Charlotte M. Mason

+The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Daniel. J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

 Science and Math

On Airs, Waters, and Places, Hippocrates

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Habit

Habit
One of my resolves this year is simple: read more. Last year, Goodreads says that out of the forty books that I had challenged myself to read, I read twenty-five. Twenty-five is a decent number but my brain needs a better workout so one a week has become the challenge for 2017.

My book stack of current reads contains four books, all non-fiction. While two of those four are related – Charlotte Mason – the other two are not at all Charlotte Mason but rather a memoir/practical help book on mothering and a book on the spiritual view of habit. These books are full of depth, a deepness that challenges mental capacity and at the same time encouraging the the current vocation in my life. Last year was full of deep and overwhelming days so encouragement quite literally feels like a breath of fresh air. (By the way, I will include affiliated links to the books I mention at the bottom of this post.)

Now, originally I chose these books in order to facilitate a greater understanding of what pursuits there should be in our home. These books are a tool, a means to aid my brain in forming visions and plans to bring greater peace and cohesiveness to our daily lives. Non-fiction is beautiful to me but it has to have a purpose. It needs to be read for a reason because it generally takes more time and mental power for me to read it.

The book You Are What You Love was waiting at my library for me via interlibrary loan. I had forgotten that I ever requested it and I must have done it at least six months ago. The timing is . . . interesting. And oh my, when all four books spoke specifically on habits, over and over, this was time to pay attention and understand that maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit was pointing out a specific need for our family.

Habits. Why habits? It sounds boring and as if it involves menial, monotonous, laborious instruction all day long. Compound that instruction by six, my brood of half a dozen, and it utterly overwhelms.  But these habits that Charlotte spoke of, as well as the other homeschooling mom who’s book I am reading, sound practically beautiful and worthy of the effort and mama-time required to put into them.

It is so very hard to see beyond the now, the right-in-front-of-my-face work. At the same time, I am a natural visionary in that planning and looking forward to the future comes easily to me. It’s the in between, that time of steady plodding to get from point A to point B – oftentimes stopping at half-way points too many to count along the way – that stagger us and slow our feet. That is when we become the most weary and give up, hoping that we might pick it up at some other time but for goodness sake, I’m tired and haven’t I done enough?

But habits, good habits, ones that bless and create peace and help through hard times are something worth keeping-on keeping-on. There is trophy of sorts to be gained through the effort of learning new virtues and trampling underfoot vices. The benefits outweigh the exertion. The more we put into it the bigger the relief when we have said goodbye to bad habits.

I see this. Some people see it. Many do not. It is easy to put aside the formation of good in order to foster the easy. If many adults cannot grasp this, how do I teach it to my children?

Ah. That? That is the question of my life.

And so small breaks are made to ponder this while I read. There are many concrete, intellectual ways I can do this but the example I set personally for my children is the boldest and most potent means to convey to them the importance of forming good habits and eschewing bad. Easier said than done, right? And that is okay. Things were their salt are going to be worth getting there.

So start small. It is okay to start small. There are lists of virtues and good habits and if you do not like them, make your own or write down the ones found in the Sermon on the Mount or read about what love is in 1 Corinthians 13. We have to start somewhere because we will never get anywhere without that small baby step.

For me, gentleness in speech will be my first step. There are so many I could have chosen but my sarcastic bent has wrought too much destruction to allow it further reign. There is no love in constant sarcasm and so toning down my words and the way things are spoken to my loved ones seems like the best place to start.

After that? Who knows. I certain do not. My trust is in the Holy Spirit who will surely convict me of that next good habit.

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With the next post, I’ll discuss how I think habit fits into homeschooling. Until then, what are your thoughts on the importance of good habits?

Books Mentioned

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Here’s to New Beginnings

"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

Christmas and New Year’s Eve and Day have always been my favorite holidays. For me, Christmas is a time of anticipation and surprises and looks of joy. The senses are particularly awoken during this time and memories are brought to the forefront of my thoughts while new ones make room next to the old. Our family generally chooses to celebrate this day in quietness and relaxation and it is so very treasured.

New Year’s follows soon after and it’s sister and brother eve and day allow me to say goodbye to a year and greet a new one. There is something comforting in this newness. As dear Anne Shirley said, “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” Days and years, the next of both have no mistakes . . . yet . . . and we can bank our hopes and dreams on those passages of time with fearlessness if we choose. A couple of months or so down the road I usually find that I am really just in survival mode but until then, there is joy in the road of best intentions.

As dear Anne Shirley said, “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Yesterday was the beginning of 2017. Rarely do I participate in resolutions or a word of the year. You won’t find me pondering which should be my Bible verse to focus on for a full 365 days. I get bored easily and one or two of anything for a whole year would not fly. But I’ll try new things once that first day in January comes around. Or maybe I’ll polish something off that I’ve done before but try accomplishing it in a new way.

The greeting I choose to give to 2017 is really and truly a gift for myself. It is nowhere near an earth-shattering gift and it’s simplicity is underwhelming: this year, this brand new year, I will blog simply. No more worrying about SEO or keywords or catchy-but-silly titles. There will be no chasing after the newest social media route to get my blog seen. I’ll do my best to provide decent photos that can be nestled among my words but no longer will I obsess on if they are good enough to catch the eyes of my demographic’s Pinterest eye.  And maybe I’ll write 500 words or 2, 379, or just 213. Who knows?

A gift God gives should never be wasted and, oh dear, I’ve wasted my gift of writing ability. It has laid stagnant and unused and has gathered invisible dust bunnies. Fear of failure has kept me from starting many times and there was a period of inability to put two seconds together when my older children were smaller and I was overrun by burp cloths. That was then and this is now and truly, if I don’t overreach, there is no reason why I cannot put out a blog post here and there and hope it meets someone with open arms and lets them leave with encouragement.

I love books and classical homeschooling a la Well-Trained Mind and am slowly dipping my toes into Charlotte Mason’s own words to see how my family’s homeschool atmosphere can benefit. (There is just something about Charlotte Mason that speaks to my mama teacher soul.) We read-aloud and use curriculum and hope to travel more and drink lots of coffee and desire to bring peace into our home and surroundings. I’ll write about all of that and maybe none of that at times and it’s okay.

Welcome, 2017. I’m so happy to meet you.

 

 

Photo by Annie Spratt

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