Monday, August 20, 2012

The Personal Touch

I am so looking forward to listening to this!  I'd love to say that I'm going to sit out on the veranda with a glass of ice tea and enjoy, but alas I think it is far more likely to be my laundry folding companion.  I don't even have a veranda (although I love how the word sounds - do people have verandas in California though?  Or are they just covered decks out west?  The word doesn't sound like it belongs with this part of the country.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Things Well Read Children Say

10 Year Old to the 6 Year Old:  All I am asking is for you to help make your sandwich... It isn't like I'm asking you to fetch an apple from the garden of the Hesperides!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thoughts From a Homeschooling Mother

I can learn a lot about my teaching techniques by watching my children play school (a favorite past-time around here, by the way).  Apparently I am very organized and offer my students a variety of subjects and lots of read alouds, but I also expect my students to catch on very quickly.  It is extremely mortifying to hear your 10 year old tell your 4 year old to "think!" when he doesn't catch on to the exercise after the first hurried explanation.  Yes, slow down, Amber, slow down.

To that end, learning a language with completely different alphabet is a fantastic way to gain empathy for the learning to read process.  Having my 10 year old teach me Greek is good not only for her knowledge and practice of the language, but it also helps me reflect on just how difficult it is to remember all the sounds those pesky letters make.  (Not to mention the letter names...  and why oh why do they have to look different in upper case and lower case?)

I also wonder if all the stories my children hear about virtuous children cheerfully helping their families is somewhat akin to the scene in Mother Carey's Chickens where the newly poor oldest daughter gives a servant a book to read in which the servant decides to stay with the family despite the family's change in financial circumstances...  only to have the servant in Mother Carey's Chickens return the book saying it was the best book she's ever read and by the way she found a great new job that pays even better than her current position.

And with that ridiculously long sentence, I think I'll stop.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Library Book Sale Finds

First, a little story.  My children ended up in this picture because my eldest didn't want to give up the book she absconded with soon after I came home.  She's holding her finger in her place in The New Golden Treasury of Natural History, in case you can't tell.  The boys, of course, couldn't be left out which is why you have cowboy Gregory shooting over the book blind with his popsicle stick gun and teddy bear Nathan with his bear ears just visible in the center of the photo.  Never a dull moment, I tell you...

I am such a fan of our monthly library book sale up here.  I used to go sporadically, but in the spring I started making an effort to go regularly and we are amply rewarded for my efforts.  This month I brought home six Landmark books:  The Story of D-Day, Hawaii, Gem of the Pacific, Robert Fulton and the Steamboat (which I was planning on using for school this year but hadn't gotten around to buying yet, hooray!), Gettysburg, Trappers and Traders of the Far West, and The Story of Albert Schweitzer.  All were in great condition and only two dollars each.  I also picked up two Dorothy Sayers mysteries for me (10 cents each!), a few books from the Young Folks Library (looks like a nice series - I skimmed and thought they looked good, although I don't think I've heard of them before), four Kjelgaard books (at 25 cents each), a picture book by Barbara Cooney (I love her books - Miss Rumphius was my 6 year old's favorite when he was three-ish and it was one I was happy to read again and again!), the aforementioned Natural History book, a lovely Best of James Herriot with beautiful photos of Yorkshire, a book called Wagon Scout which I haven't heard of but looked like a good story, I book about planting perennial gardens, and the first book of the Emily series by L.M. Montgomery.

Such riches, for so little money!  I sometimes want to take the parents who are browsing the horrid dreck (you know, the Mr. Dumbmuffin and the Big Wedgie, Jessica and the Mystery of the Missing Lunchbox, etc) with or for their children and shake them.  Don't they know there is so much more out there that is so much more wonderful and rewarding? Books that will inspire and create new and wonderful thoughts and connections in their children's minds?  Instead the comments I overhear are most often only based on the number of books their children hold in their deprived little hands, as if quantity is all that matters.  And why on earth should a 7 or 8 year old child be picking all of their own books, solely by the covers?  What sort of insanity is that?  It seems all we've managed to keep in our culture is some notion that reading is a good thing, but we have forgotten why it is a good thing.  Oh, but at least they're reading, you say?  Yes, they may be performing the mechanics of reading, but any of the greater work of reading is completely missed.  Perhaps someday I'll get grumpy enough to ask a fellow parent, "are you really going to let your child read that?"  But in the meantime I'll relish in the lack of competition for the good stuff.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mother Culture

This year I have been contemplating "Mother Culture".  As Karen Andreola quotes, "Mothers should cultivate their souls so that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children." I desperately need this, but yet it so very difficult to make the time for it.  At the beginning of the year I started my own nature journal with a vow to update it at least weekly...  but this summer that has tailed off to perhaps every other week.  I try to steal away for little nature walks on my own, and that too has fallen away in the activities of summer.  Handicrafts too are an infrequent companion as I try to plan the next school year, reorganize the study, take care of the house and garden, and try to do a few fun activities with the children.

When a dedicated, hard-working home teacher takes part in Mother Culture she safeguards her enthusiasm. She will be better able to cope with her responsibilities. To take part in Mother Culture is to feed herself with the Word of God, with ideas from books, nature, art, music, etc., taking care to keep growing spiritually and mentally.  Karen Andreola, What Is Mother Culture?

I need to reclaim these moments of "Mother Culture" so I will be infused and ready to do the work set before me.  I had hoped to steal away for a little nature walk and journaling today, but last night was a rough night with the 10 month old, so I wasn't up for it.  But I did take a stroll around the garden with my camera, and I spent a lovely afternoon with my children on our extremely makeshift patio.  I helped my six year old weave his first pot holder, chatted with my daughter, watched my 4 year old water our few patio plants, and tried mightily to keep the baby entertained.  It was perhaps a bit chaotic at times, but still extremely rewarding to just be with my children, listening to them and enjoying them.

(As an aside, I see that Karen Andreola's CD on Mother Culture is on sale right now - $5.00, including domestic shipping.  I am sending out my order tomorrow!)