"If Psalm 1 is to be believed, we must not allow our children to stand, sit or walk with those who deny biblical truth and morality. Instead, we must place them in situations that will aid them in meditating on the law of the Lord 'day and night.' Surely this involves how and where they are to be educated." — Voddie T. Baucham Jr.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our favorite poetry book

We love this book of poems. I originally got it from the library. But the children loved it so much and were so engaged with the poems that I bought a used copy from Amazon. We have tried a few other books since going throught this one several times. But the children always end up requesting a favorite poem from this book.
It is broken up into catagories that include:
Animals
World of Nature
Around the Year
People and Places
School Time
Me and My Feelings
Family and Home
Food for Me
Nonsense
And ends with good old Mother Goose.
It contains poems by authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Dickenson, Robert Frost, Margaret Wise Brown and many others. Each poem is delightfully illustrated and offers the child beautiful vocabulary.  This book will defiantly be part of our poetry reading for a while. We usually read poetry during snack time, and when reading the poems from this book, I have to stop before they want me to.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ranting Part 1

I was talking to my best friend yesterday and she encouraged me to share some things that had been on my mind the past week or so.  I'm not sure where to start. So I'll just write and edit later.
I've been trying to examine my homeschooling philosophy. Why am doing this and what's the best method to get what I what to do done. I've been reading and listen to different voices from both ends of the spectrum from Classical Education to Radical Unschooling and everything in between to find out where I fit in the pool of home educators. Then I was thinking about who am I doing this for. Am I doing it for me and my own need to feel successful. Since I am a stay at home mom and don't have a lot  to hang my hat on, it would be nice to have raised super smart kids that could put Harvard professors to shame. Or to have them accomplish some great thing to which I could take partial credit. Or am I doing it to please others and what they think home education should look like. Well I have come to see that I should be doing this for my children and ultimately for God. Who are my kids? What is it that they need to know? How should I give them that information? These are all of the questions that have been going around in my head. Why should I look to the world to tell me what's important to know? I shouldn't look to the world to tell me anything else, so why this. I was reading in George Mantle's book this morning Beyond Humiliation, that the French have a proverb that goes "He is not truly free who drags his chains". I think that we sometimes feel that we have escaped the public school system because our children are not loitering it's hallways. But we still drag the chains of the system in letting them dictate to us what's important to know. Now please don't get me wrong, I want my children to know everything they can about everything. But being realistic, nobody knows everything about everything, or even  a little about everything. The Bible tells us not to conform to this world. But we gladly take what they think is important for our children to know and we bend over backwards to make sure we get those things in our curriculum. In formulating my own philosophy the scripture came to mind in Ephesians 2:10 which says, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works that He preordained for us to walk in. In applying this to my children, I can see that first of all they are His workmanship. What a scared trust I have. They are his workmanship. How softly I must tread as I care for them day by day as to not impose my will on what God is building in my child.


As I was walking this morning I remembered something that I heard over and over in the Le Leache League meetings that I attended. It was "watch the baby, not the clock". In other words, don't put your baby on a feeding schedule, but look for the cues and signs that your baby is hungry and feed them. I followed this principle and found that my children put themselves on their own schedule. After allowing them to regulate their own appetites, I noticed that they wanted to eat every two and a half to three hours. But it was something they had done, not me. As I was thinking about this I was wondering why that same principle couldn't continue into childhood. Why did it have to end and what was the magical age at which it did. When did I start looking at what they are supposed to be doing instead of what they are doing.

In holding to Charlotte Mason's first principle that children are born persons, I think that we sometimes treat children as second class citizens, incapable of communicating their needs.  I think that we just haven't been paying attention. Our eyes have been fixed on the milestone checklist and the SOL's that we have forgotten why we are doing this in the first place. For me, it's to give my children an individualized, Christ centered education. How can I give my child an individualized education if I'm holding them up next to a standard that for one, the world uses to measure people by, and two, was created by people that have never met, nor will ever know my child and what God has planned for them. I understand why they must have certain standards and curriculum that are implemented in the public and private school systems. A child must know certain things at a certain time in order to excel to the next level of learning. And they don't have enough teachers to have children functioning at multiple levels of learning at the same time in the same classroom. Everyone must move together to avoid chaos. But why do I need that at home? I only have a few students and am capable of managing children at different stages of learning and development.

Getting back to the verse in Ephesians, God is working in my children. He created them and has preordained paths for them to walk in. It is my job to trust my children to show me the path that God has laid out for them. By that I do not mean that my children know whats best for them. I mean that I'm not going to try and fit my child into a standardized box that the world has created for them. I believe that God has given each of them different gifts, abilities, personalities and interest that I'm to be on the look out for and expound upon.

I think that it's important for my child to read and write and know how to do math. But I'm not looking to the world to tell me when they should do those things. They may be ahead or behind their public schooled counterparts, but they are their own standard. I can't force them to learn anything. Just as I can't force them to eat anything. Sure I can cram it down their throat and force them to swallow by either fear or love. But its up to their own body to digest the food. And I think we put more confidence in the body to do its job of digestion and assimilation than we do the mind. Just as the body digest food and takes the parts it needs to grow and expels the rest, so does the mind.

One last thought, Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. So that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. I think when we can let go of what the world is telling us is good for our kids, then we will find his will for them.

I apologize for the size of this post and what may be unorganized thought. You may not agree with all that was said and I'd love to hear your comments. I'll write a part two to talk about how I plan on "teaching" my kids and what I want my homeschool to look like.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Do Everything

We started our day with this video this morning. Just needed a reminder.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy Birthday James

Happy 2nd birthday to my baby boy James Charles. You are such a wonderful little person to be around. I love your gentle spirit and laid back personality. My prayer for you this year is that you would continue to grow and development into a strong man of God. That He would use you for His glory and give us the wisdom we need to parent you and bring out all of the wonderful treasures that God has deposited in this little boy named James. We love you, and are so grateful that God chose us to be a part of your family. Happy birthday Papa Bear.
James at 4 weeks
James at 12 months
James at 18 months
James at 23 months

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Laundry Time

I've discovered over the years that to make this homeschool thing work it takes more than "doing school". You really take on the responsibilities on a whole school. A public or private school teacher does not have to wake your children up, get them dressed or feed them breakfast. Neither do they have to cook and serve a nutritious lunch. Nor clean the bathrooms, sweep the floors or any other maintenance work. And they definitely don't have to make sure your children have clean clothes to wear every day. So to keep things running smoothly I implemented a laundry schedule. I've been using it for a few months now and have made a few changes along the way, but I think I've finally perfected it, (at least for now anyway, I'm sure baby #3 will require me to make some adjustments), and wanted to share what's been working for me.

First of all, this idea came form Flylady who says "A load a day keeps chaos away". I just made a plan based on this principle. It goes as follows:

(I have this typed out and posted above the washer)

*Monday~ Kids clothes  
I wash their clothes together since their clothes aren't that big and don't justify a load to themselves.

*Tuesday~ My clothes
I wash mine and my husbands clothes together since he only wears casual clothes on the weekends.

*Wednesday~ Whites, My husband's work shirts and diapers
I alternate Wednesdays with white and shirts since he has enough of both to last two weeks. Diapers I wash every week.

*Thursday~ Sheets and Towels

*Friday~ My clothes and the children's clothes.
I wash whatever we have worn during the week so that all clothes are clean going into the weekend. I wash them in separate loads to streamline folding and putting them away.

*Saturday~ Diapers and catch up
I wash another load of diapers and anything I didn't get to during the week. But if I follow my schedule I rarely do laundry on Saturday except for diapers.

Here's how I work the plan and usually only spend 10 to 15 minutes a day doing laundry. I wash the scheduled load the night before. This takes no more than five minutes. In the morning before I get the kids dressed, I switch the laundry to the dryer. If there is a second load to be washed, like on Thursday and Friday, I put it in the washer then. This takes about three minutes. After breakfast we do our Home Blessing (chores), at which time I fold and put away the laundry. This takes me 5 to 7 minutes (I've timed myself), depending on who's clothes I'm folding. I put the second load in the dryer when I take the first load out, when its done I fold and put it away, and that's it.  I'm done with my laundry most days before nine o'clock. I do get Janelle to help me in putting her laundry away, and James will carry his laundry to his room and put it on his bed.
This schedule really has been a blessing in keeping our school day from getting over run with household stuff. I still have a ways to go in other areas like meal planning and house cleaning. But I'm slowly implementing schedules for those areas as well. I don't always follow my plan and I get behind. But there is grace for me and I just jump in where I am and catch up. And I've learned that its so much easier to catch up when you have a plan in place.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Delightful Reading

Back in September I attended a Charlotte Mason seminar conducted by Sonia Schaffer, and during the seminar she introduced a reading curriculum based on Charlotte Mason's method of teaching reading. It seemed very intriguing at the time but I wasn't sure if it was something Janelle was ready for. I had tried to use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons a few years ago, but only got to lesson 21. It just wasn't something that either one of us was interested in. For me, it was too scripted. I was so distracted by what I should be saying that I wasn't focused on Janelle. I think Janelle picked up on my distraction and decided she would be distracted as well. So I put it away thinking that maybe she was too young and I'd try again later. In the meantime I've tried to invent my own reading curriculum and became frustrated as where to start, where to end and what to do in between. We've worked on reading skills at Starfall.com and Reading Bear, but I wanted something a little more structured.
Recently when I knew Janelle was ready to jump in to reading, I dreaded trying the book again thinking it wouldn't be any better this time around. So I remembered the reading curriculum presented at the seminar and decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. I absolutely love it. Here are some highlights:

* It's all there. I like that I didn't have to purchase anything extra. Everything is included.

* It is partially scripted. The teacher's manuel outlines specific instructions, but leaves plenty of room to personalize the instructions to a specific child.

* It is a balanced mix of phonics and sight/whole words.

* It's not consumable. I can use it again. The "My Word Book" is the child's own journal of words that they have learned. But it can be purchased for $2.45 or you could use a blank notebook.

* It includes a writing component, so she is practicing her penmanship. Most of time she learns six or seven new words at a time. So I only ask her to choose one or two words to write in her book and to do her best. I write the other words under hers. That way she can focus on writing just one or two words "perfectly". Otherwise she would get to word four or five and it would become an unintelligible mess.

* It is based on Charlotte Mason's method of teaching reading, which is relaxed but thorough.

An emphasis is placed on short lessons, say ten or fifteen minutes. Sometimes we only get through half a lesson or even less at times. But thats ok. Charlotte says to "teach the child not the curriculum". I know Janelle and what her limits are. So I try to end the lessons right before I loose her attention. We are having a lot of fun with it and Janelle looks forward to her reading lessons every day.

Here is a video demonstration of the curriculum.
I highly recommend it for someone looking for a Charlotte Mason method for teaching reading.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Artful Parent

I've been trying to do more art with the kids latley. When Janelle was younger, and the only child, we did more in terms of painting and crafting. But since I've had James and we made a big move I just haven't gotten back into it. But we did do some painting a couple of weeks ago and kids enjoyed it so much I felt guilty for not doing this more often. A few days later we had a missionary over for dinner and he shared a website that his wife uses for art project ideas. It was called The Artful Parent and was overflowing with some simple and some not so simple art projects for kids. I'd love to put together a schedule of projects so that we are experiencing art on a regular basis. Here are some pictures of the kids painting birdhouses I got from Michael's for $1. They had a great time.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Update

Wow. It's been a while since I posted anything. Not too much has happened since November. We did find out we are expecting baby number three in September. So we'll have a new student to add to our little greenhouse. Here are some pictures from the last couple of months and Janelle finally learned to ride a tricycle.