Thursday, November 4, 2010

If You Give a 3-year-old Scissors...

If you give a 3-year-old boy scissors he will ask for something to cut.

If you draw something simple (like a square) he will say, "I think I want some leaves. You can draw leaves, right?"

If you draw 2 pages of free-hand leaves he will surely say, "Can you make me some more?"

And if you draw him more and more and more leaves he will cut and cut and cut until you have a nice little basketful.

But when you have a basketful he will look at you with those sparkling baby blues and sweetly say, "Can you pass me the glue???"

And he will most certainly enlist his brother for help, because a project is brewing...

And another wall poster is born! And for the first time a project was brought to life by the little guy.

Our tree books:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In My Heart, All the Time

I shared my goal with my husband about 2 weeks ago. I was going to be working back into the habit of memorizing Scripture and he was the one who inspired me to choose the Psalm I am learning.

"What would serve you the best? What passage do you need in your heart all the time?"

A prayer begging forgiveness.

A prayer for a clean beginning washed with Christ's blood.

We sin fresh each day and each day (sometimes many times) we must be wiped clean.

The passage I need all the time? Psalm 51.

I spend the first minutes of my morning with this piece of the Word, and through the day I revisit, tasting these words again.

Ann Voskamp invites us to write about our memory work. You can read more at A Holy Experience.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Defining Us

We are fortunate to live in a large and vibrant homeschooling community. There are opportunities here for just about everything you might be interested in and I have been fortunate to be included as one of the commodities among this community. About 70% of my music studio students are homeschoolers! With 50 students and their families coming through our home every week, many of them homeschoolers, I have received a lot of questions on our homeschooling style- mostly to the tune of "what method do you use?"

And because I'm about 12 shades of ecclectic this is a really hard question to answer. Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unschooling, Montessori, Project Based Learning . . . you'll find bits and pieces of all of it in our home, and I just can't answer that question without a tremendously long explanation each time. I have always been the kind of teacher to pull the best of many styles together rather than stick doggedly to one method.

After yet another odd conversation on this topic, I jokingly started to write down a list explaining what our homeschool philosophy is during a break in my teaching day, but as I wrote I had a bit of a realization: I don't have to categorize us and what we do. It works for us, the children are learning and enjoying the process, we're meeting the requirements of our states laws, and we're having a great year. So I finished the list to share with you today.

Our basic principles:

1. We aren't other families and comparisons do nothing to help us.

I have my kids with their learning styles, the particular lifestyle we lead and our particular schedule to work with. Because of these three factors our homeschool doesn't and shouldn't look like another family's.

2. Our homeschool is not about the material.

It's about the time we work together, about the learning process and about using what works. Even if it's a workbook.

3. Bible First.


If we do nothing in a day but read scripture and pray we have had a successful day, and it's okay to count it as such.

4. Our goal each day after time in the Word and in Prayer is to accomplish three things: something with numbers, something with reading, and something with writing.

These are the plans every day. The science and continent units we do are the "extra" in our day and don't always happen. And that's okay. I'm not attached to sticking to the plans I wrote out- if we don't use them for some reason they shift to the next available day or we skip them and I file them. They can always be used again another time.

5. Take time to notice at the end of each week exactly what we do know so as not to be panicked by what we don't know.

Have you ever had that happen? Even when you know you're using good material and working hard each day you have a little panic over "what if we're not doing enough or we're not keeping up or..."? Taking a little inventory over the weekend of our accomplishments for the week helps me maintain balance. Some of the greatest work we do can't be shown through a project or memorization or a drawing- sometimes finally learning to button your own buttons or how to deal with hurt feelings is truly great work for the week.

So that's us. We're just as likely to use copy work as Explode the Code, to practice writing numbers with sidewalk chalk or to hop up and down the stairs when we count by twos. We do a lot of memory work, we have the potential of a year long project on blue whales with full on research (today marks the beginning of 4 months on the topic!), and we might have a few days at a time concentrated on making "stuff" with very little academic work to show for our time. We read a lot, we write a lot and we make a lot of things.

Defining these 5 things has helped me kick a bit of that worry over whether or not something is "Charlotte Mason enough" or "gentle enough" or "academic enough". Each activity of the day is viewed through the lens of these 5 criteria and whether the activity is inspired by Charlotte Mason or Montessori doesn't really cross my mind anymore.

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