Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Homeschool Lessons

Even if you're not a homeschooler, I loved the lesson in this blog post on Pioneer Woman Homeschools.

The author's daughter at her first piano lesson is presented with a teacher who listens more than she teaches, and directs the learner to discover. Despite the time it takes for the girl to figure it out, she perseveres. The teacher's comment to the mother was that children past first grade who aren't homeschooled usually give up and ask to be shown.

The point then is this: how do we get out of our child's way to let him or her learn and discover? Facts can be memorized and quickly forgotten, but knowledge that's taken into our hearts for examination can lead to greater discovery and understanding.

Any ideas on how to make this happen? I feel like mostly it's a matter of presenting nature and reading and math and getting out of your own way and not interfering.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ready to Move

We're getting ready to move after we get back from a few weeks visiting family in Washington, D.C.

It's a relief to know we haven't accumulated too many things of questionable value, moving across the country in our sedan with two children helped us pare down considerably last year.

Now I've got another chance to decorate and create a cozy and happy space for my family. I've a few ideas for my dream list; front-facing bookshelves, hooks in the boys' room for dress-up clothes, a bamboo mat to go under the dining room area that could be wiped down after meals.

Oh, and an electric piano. Any recommendations? The volume needs to be touch-sensitive, but other than that I'm just feeling awful that I haven't touched a piano or organ keyboard in more than eight months. Talk about hiding my talent in the earth.

So let's hear it: electric piano recommendation, dream house list, or talents you're hiding and want to develop.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Silly Women Laden With Sins

I don't know how to make this post light-hearted, so here it is. This past week I read a novel, "Outlander", that was well praised by a friend. It was a slightly-better-than trashy romance novel. Written better than most, but still ridiculous and unreal when compared with the celestial marriage that is my goal. I realized this partway through, and still wasted time reading it to the end.

Over dishes tonight I could not get this phrase out of my head, "Silly women laden with sins." If you don't recognize it, it's from 2 Timothy 3 and was written by Paul to describe the apostasy of the last days.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, [etc.], lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: FROM SUCH TURN AWAY. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

The italicized quote speaks to my last post about parenting. How many of us are guilty of letting ourselves be led away from the truth by others who are lovers of themselves? This sounds a lot like reality television, to be truthful.

I'm not going to choose silliness over the truth of God. I hope this doesn't come off as judgmental; please know that we all have our own struggles and I'm hoping this will be a helpful post and not harmful. I love everyone who reads here as a dear friend, or a potential dear friend.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Homeschooling is Hard in the Summer

I belive in schooling year round. Kids do lose a lot over summer and I don't think learning is a "School only" thing anyway.  But BOY, is it hard to get your kids to sit down and learn about the solar system when everyone else in the neighborhood is out riding bikes and playing in the sprinklers.  Even I want to take breaks and go work on the chicken coop or take the kids swimming (it's finally starting to feel like summer!)  I am really loving homeschooling, but with all the summer around us, I find myself doing less than I had hoped.
So instead of stressing about it I'm replaxing a bit.  The nice thing about schooling year round is that you have enough time to cover everything you want to and can take breaks as needed.  So here's what I decided: Math is a MUST everyday.  This week he'll finish 1st grade Singapore Math (I felt there were some gaps) and then he'll start second grade.  Most days he likes to do 2 or more lessons, but I'm going to require just one.  For spelling we go outside and write the words in sidewalk chalk or jump around while spelling them on a spelling mat I made.  I'm easing up on science and history.  He loves science and I'm just letting him pick the topic he wants to read about for now.  For history I'm trying to have him listen to me read a book or passage about whatever civilization we're on.  We're still trudgeing through Mesopotamia.  I'm starting to think 1-4 graders who aren't really into history would do better learning about local/national history.  Or maybe we missed today's Babylon book because a bike ride sounded more enticing. 
So instead we talked about how friction is what keeps us from falling off our bikes as we go around a corner. :)  I can turn anything into a science lesson, ancient history is a bit harder. I think the Sumerians invented the wheel...  that counts, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Parenting Techniques

I found this quote last night on a blog I just discovered, written by an LDS Waldorf home-schooling mom.

"Don't become a technique collector... BE A DOER. Remember that there is no magic bullet for parenting save one... consistency."

I certainly have the tendency to read parenting books, collect techniques, discuss them, and then discard them as I holler at my kids to leave me alone while I read my next parenting book.

What can you do more consistently this week? This month? At this age in your children's lives?

I can more consistently wake up and spend time with my children in the morning. What are you going to do?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Courage to Be

In a conversation this week, I snapped into "silly female" mode. My husband teases me about it; I laugh a lot, am flippant and congenial, and tend to agree with anything said.

I am greatly irritated at the end of such encounters.

Why do I put on middle-school manners on occasion? There are many unique facets to my personality and to God's purpose for my life. Why do I shrink to be myself for the glory of the Lord?


Photo: Matt Lehman


God is great, and he created us for His purposes and His glory.

What can you do today to be the woman God asks you to be, to fulfill your individual purpose? I can tell you what I'm going to do.

I'll hug my children close and play with them as much as I can.
I'll read a good book, a thinking book.
I'll enjoy my family and enjoy their company!
I'll spend time encouraging a friend.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Keep Your Eyes Ahead

Every month at Pack meeting I get to give my "cubmaster's minute".  It's where I give a nice little thought and wrap up the evening with a bow.  A few months ago I told the boys that goals are like driving.  You have to keep your eyes ahead to stay straight and stop worrying about all the little lines on the road of you'll veer off.
I feel like that with my parenting.  We've been homeschooling for 2 week now (yes, that's why I haven't blogged much) and I can see how easy it is to get bogged down in little details.
"You didn't do your grassland worksheet today!!!"  Like it's really that big of a deal.  Nevermind that we went outside and looked at grass and talked about how it flowers and spreads it seeds, he didn't do the worksheet!
I'm struggling to decide how to do this.  I feel like I have to have all this work to show anyone who criticizes our choice.  "See, he did all this work, that means he's learning."  And I'm not focusing on the big picture, on showing him the incredible things he can learn about. 
We're supposed to learn about the Hittites next week.  I mean, I find the Hittites fascinating, but then, I also got a BA in world history.  I can promise you I never learned about them til college.  So why am I adding them to a second grade curriculum?  I'm not sure I want to take them off either, I'm just debating these things on here.
When I focus too much on the curriculum instead of one just letting him soak things in, it hurts the process.  I think this is a problem for teachers too.  So many worksheets to prove your kid didn't waste their time.  I've read so many homeschooling books and spent so much time planning and not enough on my knees asking the One who knows my son best what I need to be teaching him.
My husband is still nervous about this whole homeschooling adventure and wants updates, and I don't blame him.  I want to do a good job, I don't want to fail my child.
But isn't there a time and a season for everything?  I'm kindof thinking this season is for him to develop secure family relationships, not be able to name every class of vertebrates in less than 10 seconds.
I know I do this a lot day to day.  I worry too much about whether the chores were done or clothes were put away and not enough about whether the spirit was in our home that day. 
Gotta keep my eyes ahead.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Going Carless

Is it possible with kids??  Most people think we're crazy just having one car.  What about zero???
Our car had some trouble and we were worried it would cost more to fix than it was worth.  We were lucky, t was only a few hundred dollars. We were hoping to get a minivan next year and have saved about half of what we need.  We REALLY wanted to pay cash.  So one of the options we mentioned was going carless.  A minivan with low gas mileage, insurance premiums, maintenance and repairs, or I could get this instead?
Don't they make that look fun?  That's called marketing!
How about these?

yes, I already have one of these

But it's a bit of a pain pulling it uphill.  I live on a hill.
If I changed pediatricians and used Bountiful baskets more for produce (my closest store has AWFUL produce) I almost think it could work for 6 months.
I'm not optimistic enough to think we could do this in the winter.

Have you ever thought of going without a car?

Being Happy With What You Have

I read this fabulous post this morning on the subject of contentment, and it really spoke to me. The essence: sometimes it's better to dial down our desires instead of upping our spending.

I've been thinking lately on the concept of frugality and why I care. I know I'm not perfect; don't ask me how often I've eaten at a restaurant this month or how many items go into my cart that aren't on my list! However in the search for deeper enjoyment in my life I've realized that things that cost money aren't what we make them out to be.

What things really give you pleasure in your life? I love a good book, time spent with friends playing cards and discussing current events, walking hand in hand with my husband, savoring a homemade meal, and a really good TV episode. The Lord has blessed me with financial resources to care for my family. Somehow I don't think he'd be pleased when I waste them in any manner, whether it's a frivolous purchase or food that's thrown out.

The one thing I value most in my friends is their love and support, and I'll be honest. It is far easier for me to be friends with someone who wants to talk about budgets and bargains. I don't want to drive here and there spending money on a frequent basis doing "fun" things. I don't want to talk about TV sizes and prices.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?

I'm trying to make my way through the entire Conference edition of my Liahona (I read it in French, so that I get the spiritual uplift and the language skills reinforcement).

In reading the Sunday Afternoon session this past week I came across this talk, which has some solid family advice.

"Many of us create to do lists to remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do’s are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. You can’t earn checkmarks with to be’s. I can take my wife out for a lovely evening this Friday, which is a to do. But being a good husband is not an event; it needs to be part of my nature—my character, or who I am.

Or as a parent, when can I check a child off my list as done? We are never done being good parents. And to be good parents, one of the most important things we can teach our children is how to be more like the Savior."

Some of my thoughts from reading this talk:
What are the qualities that, if understood by my kids, would correct their behavior?

Christian virtues are a gift from God, including love. They can't be acquired on our own.

Preaching is more effective than the sword; teaching is more effective than punishment.

Any thoughts to share? I'd love to hear your ideas on how to balance teaching our children to be good and correcting bad behavior.

In other news, we've started packing to move into our new place! I'm still saddened that we'll be leaving our ward, but oh so excited to be walking distance to a neighborhood playground and in a first floor apartment with real windows and sunlight!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

While we're talking about reading . . .

How would you describe yourself as a reader? Are you accomplished? Inquisitive? Efficient? Engaged? Sophomoric?

Sophomore; a Greek word for the mixture of learning and folly; we might apply it to those who are bookish but poorly read.

I picked up a copy of "How to Read a Book" today at the library.

I haven't read more than a few of the 400 pages, but I have been introduced to four new vocabulary words, and a few concepts to ponder as I am teaching my oldest son to read. Relevant as I am going back to school soon, myself!

Reading can have multiple goals; we can read for information, we can read for understanding, or we can read for entertainment. Reading as a means of learning should be considered as an effort, not a passive reception of information. If our goal in teaching our children is to have them understand, then we must teach them how to engage with us as teachers as well as with the written word.

If I have a question while reading for understanding then I must answer it myself. This means I need to learn to engage with the text on a level above decoding the symbols into words and sentences, or even beyond picking out facts.  To achieve a high level of engagement, I must move beyond analysis into "syntopical" readng; this is more or less the ability to read more than one book on a subject at a time and synthesize and evaluate a subject.

In thinking about different levels of reading, it seems this goes well with the trivium of a classical education: grammar, logic, rhetoric. They all play a part in developing your worldview.

In the end, my goal is simple. I want my children to be able to form an opinion of their own. Who needs to spit out pre-packaged sound bites at the appropriate intervals? I need thinkers! Engaged citizens who can use the intellect God has given them for the good of all around them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Good Books?

I saw a link this morning for you, Kris! After months of her son bringing home "spiritual french fries" books from school, I know she's looking for some good books for her young advanced reader to sink his teeth into.

I'm also on the lookout for good books to read out loud to my boys; I want that to be a habit for us.

What are your favorite books for kids? The kind of books that you feel are quality literature?

And please forgive my absence, we spent the last two weeks in Virginia with my husband's family and had so much fun I hardly checked my e-mail let alone wrote anything for you! I promise I'll be more active here.