Thursday, January 24, 2013

Charlotte Mason

“Make yourselves nests of pleasant thoughts, bright fancies, faithful sayings; treasure-houses of precious and restful thoughts, which care cannot disturb nor poverty take away from you, houses built without hands for your souls to live in.”
~ John Ruskin

The kids made up this game downstairs called "Bulls". They even need Ezra and Scarlet to play it so I found myself alone upstairs with time to finish my Charlotte Mason book. I wanted to write some of the parts I read this morning here. As I re read these parts, I realize it sounds quite idealistic, but without losing sight of the fact that the kids would watch Kung Fu Panda all day if I let them, I found myself inspired nonetheless. I like new ideas to mull over during the day. 

“The child is a person, a human being with a spiritual origin.” Yet most schools govern by a system of treats: grades, prizes, and competitive placing. Charlotte Mason believed this type of motivation to be harmful for learning and dangerous to a child’s character… In order to grade, one must have a grading system: a certain number of completed questions to arrive at a grade percentage… memorization is over-emphasized, and real thinking left behind. The desire for knowledge is crushed by the heavy weight of the system.

Three ways for teachers to motivate children to learn are, the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of ideas. Thus Charlotte Mason’s motto: Education is an atmosphere, a disciple, a life.

Children should be taught to recognize and admire the righteous, the pure, the heroic the beautiful, the truthful, and the loyal in their education life.

We can rely upon living books- books written by single authors who are writing about their favorite subjects rather than textbooks for the classroom compiled by committees. Living books (inspiring biographies, diaries, historical novels, allegorical fiction, nature journals, and sweeping poems ) touch the emotions as enthusiasm seeps through the information, but nothing inspiring can be read between the pure facts and information of dry textbooks.  Living books can lead the way for our awe of God, wonder of nature, interest in history, and the finer, simpler, or noble things of life.

John Wesley said, “An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Owls and Chess

I might nominate myself as the most dedicated library patron. I LOVE the library. This was a presentation done by the Fish and Wildlife officers about owls.

We attended a Social Studies Fair for the home school families the other night. It was neat to walk around to the different tables and see what the other families have been studying. Jacob brought a few things to share for our table- but chess was the highlight. I was surprised because it's not that exciting of a game to watch but there was a pack of boys like this gathered around his 
chess board the entire evening.

Eat Everything

It was a weird day today. It started with my weird dream about being late for my morning exercise class, only it was in Provo, and when I got there the class was eating waffles and whipped cream. Anyways, I woke up and got to my class, then came home and ate 2 sandwiches for breakfast, only to discover I'd be starving again by 9:30 am. Then what am I supposed to do? Have lunch, or another breakfast or 2 more sandwiches? Can you tell I'm pregnant. My whole day revolves around food. I don't usually eat meals by myself because I think it's boring, but lately I get hungry before everyone else and I can't wait so I just eat alone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Walk as Children of Light

 This picture of Jane is so beautiful. This is one of her favorite places to read- perched on the side table in the sunlight.

We started Charlie's Baptism Prep class after Christmas. We get the kids books about baptism and their own engraved scriptures the school term before they turn eight. This way they have a formal way to prepare, and feel ready for their baptisms. Charlie is so adorable at our classes. I love the one on one time with him.  He never forgets Sunday night to remind us about class. I'm sure he likes the staying up later than the other kids part. I have to seriously focus hard so I don't cry the whole time. My heart is going to crack in half when he goes on his mission, I can already tell. 

Grammas and Paint

We had a fun visit with Gramma Gail and Granddaddy. There's not much to do in this small town in the winter so we really get some quality time with visitors. The kids showed them lots of their school work and there was many musical performances too.

Cousin Shane is a real artist. Tim got to see one of his art shows on his last trip to Utah. I wished I could have gone. Just today Jane and I finished a whole visual arts unit. We learned about what to look for in landscape paintings, and about abstract sculpture, and other artsy terms that we are hoping will make us sound smart next time we visit an art museum. The lesson ended with Jane sitting by the birdcage trying to draw Ginny and Hermione but she got frustrated and quit.  I  suggested maybe trying a more abstract drawing instead but she is 100% realist- artistically and otherwise ;)

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Brave

I read this blog regularly and today this post made me think of my brave momma friends that are trying out homeschooling this year. 


I received a degree in elementary education, so I have been thinking about teaching for a long time. I was probably as prepared (on paper) as a mom can be to teach. I had been collecting educational supplies until I amassed a collection of curriculum, work books, reading books, educational movies, games, and supplies that spilled out of every closet and shelf in my home. Yet when I checked my oldest out of public school to begin homeschool I had no idea where to start. 

But, what I learned, and what my friend will learn is that she simply needs to keep doing what she’s been doing all along- being the mother, her child’s first and best teacher. 
For my friend, and anyone else marching boldly into the great unknown, here is a pep talk and some things I have learned that may help you along your way...

1.    Great Schools Look Like Home
When I first started homeschooling I got a desk and flag and we had the pledge and a bell schedule and even a hall pass for the bathroom. I even had an apple shaped clock on the wall. I tried to make my home like “school”. Which might work for some families, but the baby ate my visual aids and my toddler didn’t understand “not now, its school time” and suddenly learning with my kids was a chore- Forced and stressful and frustrating. Where had all the fun gone that we’d been having before “school” started?

In my elementary education courses we visited many classrooms. We were taught to look for the best practices that we would emulate in our future classroom. The best schools were the ones that provided individualized instruction, hands-on projects, low student-teacher ratio, field-trips, real life applications, safe learning environment, loving teachers, taught values, encouraged positive relationships with families and integrated subjects together. Hey, wait a minute…that sounds a lot like homeschool! The best schools (private, charter, or public) are trying to replicate a home learning experience.

Don’t try to be like school. School stinks. Be like home. That’s what the pro’s are doing.

2.    Less is More.
When I was little, my sister came into our room and found me crying. I had arranged my stuffed animals on my bed to sleep with me, but there were so many of them that there was nowhere left for me to sleep.  In matters of curriculum and such, less is more. To begin homeschool you need a library card, a high speed internet connection and some paper and pencils. Really. That’s it.

3.    Head for the Endzone
I have tried so many different programs, school methods, and curriculum I feel like a football player who can’t decide which team he is on. It’s hard to score when you don’t know which goal is yours. While we waited for our dinner on a date, my husband and I made a quick list of the most important things we want our kids to know before they leave home. I was surprised at how few of those things could be learned at public school. Now that list guides me to what and how we will learn. I was constantly second guessing my decisions before and this has helped me to have direction and confidence in the course I am pursuing. We can't teach everything. We can't please everyone. There will be holes. Said Voltaire "Don't let perfection be the enemy of Good". Do your best. Trust your instincts, make a goal and head for it!

4.    Learn from the Master Teacher
If you’ve been keeping up with your church news you’ve heard about the way the youth program has been redesigned in the church. I am convinced that the kids today are a special bunch and just as they are sent here to earth at this time for a special purpose, we are the special group sent just ahead of them to help them learn. The youth program “Come Follow Me” is helping leaders of youth learn to teach like the Master Teacher, our Savior Jesus Christ. The online training is exceptional and applies directly to homeschoolers. Check it out. The Best  “Us” is the best teacher for our kids. We need to rise to the potential within us and become the best teacher we can be by following the Savior’s example.

5.    Parent Teacher Conference
As a young school teacher interning in the first grade I was convinced that I knew better than the parents how to teach the kids in my classroom. After all, I was the one with the degree and spent every day with these kids.  But, what an eye opener it was for me when the first parent teacher conference came around and in ten minutes of conferencing with a mother I learned I should be asking HER for teaching advice. She knew how to teach her son better than I ever could.

As teachers of the young spirits entrusted to our care we should not neglect to conference with their Father. Their Heavenly Father, the one who created them, knows best how to teach them and how to meet their specific needs. He loves them even more than we do and knows what they can become. If we will ask, He will help us.

6.    NOW is the fun part.
It is good to have goals and look ahead, but with kids it is essential to enjoy the now. For so much of the last decade of my life my husband and I have been in the acquisitions stage. Getting degrees, getting jobs, getting kids, getting a house, getting pets, getting things…. These things are good to get, but somewhere along the line we need to stop acquiring and start enjoying.

I feel like an old lady saying this, but time really does go by so fast. (I know, I know, tell that to moms of colicky babies, the reluctant potty trainer, or cranky teens.) But, in the grand scheme of it all we have our children for such a short time. If we are always wishing away the moments or focusing on the next big thing we will find we missed it all. The days are long but the years are short. ENJOY IT!

7.    Perfect Match
God’s plan for families is the perfect plan. We are divinely designed as the perfect teachers for our kids, just as they are divinely designed as the perfect teachers for us. Together we will learn what we need to learn to become like our Savior. It is this learning together that will bring us joy. William Butler Yeats wrote, “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” Grow together.

8.    ‘Tis the Season
On days that are so rotten I just want to hide in a quiet corner and rock, I try to remember that there will be other seasons to my life. Diapers won’t last forever. I will get to have a moment alone one day. Someday I will have a private conversation again. Peace and quiet will be mine. “We can have everything we want, just not all at the same time.” When I finally get my moment to rock in peace and quiet, maybe in a nursing home someday, I want to know that I gave it my all. That I made every moment count with my family. That I didn’t pass off the responsibility to teach my kids because I was too scared to try something unknown or because I felt inadequate or wanted my season alone too soon. Like Elder Anderson said, “Children are what God gave us time for.” I want to rock happily knowing that I enjoyed the heck out of motherhood.

9.      We Can Do Hard Things
I know every family’s needs are different and homeschooling is not for everyone, but if you have chosen to homeschool and haven’t received a spiritual confirmation to do so, go to the Lord and ask for one. You will need that confirmation to get you through the hard days.  In Moroni 7:33 Christ says, “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” Through the strengthening power of the atonement of Christ we can become all that we need to be for our families. We can do hard things.


We get to start January with birthdays. Ezra turned one, the next day Jane turned 9 and four days later, Jacob turned 6. I'm next at the end of the month
 but I'm trying not to think about it. I have getting old issues ;)

We don't really do a "real birthday" until you are three at our house. I know, it's cruel but they don't notice. For Ezra's Birthday the kids made him a puppet show, which he loved! He's into puppets lately.
He takes about 4 wobbly steps at a time now. I don't know what's taking him so long- the others were all walking well before one. 

Jane got mostly clothes this year except Grammy and Baba got her a cute little Nikon mini which she's been attached to ever since. She'll catch you on video at the most inopportune moments if you're not careful.

Birthday are a great time to get out the face painting.

This is the pre-party on Jacob's birthday. Jacob is under the yellow blanket. 
Both the boys had earaches. But Jacob heard about presents coming out and perked right up.
Grammy and Baba got him two birdies! He was so surprised. We had them flying all over our bedroom the night before while we set up the cage. Jacob pulls up a chair and just sits and watches them. Don't even ask what he named them.

Fairmont Christmas Vacation

I was so pregnant sick in December so Tim made us some fancy dinners.

Jane finished the last Harry Potter. She read through all 7 turbo speed.

I'm  not too sure why we love bowling so much. The kids get SO into it!

Charlie and Jane tied this year. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Christmas Crafty

This year Christmas was so brutal for me. I was in bed, dying of nausea for 5 straight weeks! I'm never doing this again. There. I'm saying it out loud to reassure myself that I'm serious about that. Needless to say, my big crafty plans went completely down the tubes and this is what we were left with. 

Item #1 Pinecones from our yard, sprayed with gold glitter and dropped into oversized mason jars with a ribbon. Perfect craft for Jane to handle from start to finish without me. 

Item #2 Christmas letters I printed off for my Activity Days girls with a scripture that goes with each day of December until the 25th. Guess what's still sitting on my mantle. Guess you have to go to church if you want to deliver letters to your class. I just didn't want to barf all over everyone at 8:30am...

K, these were actually cool. There is a scripture story that goes along with each item in the jar. Good for FHE. Jacob put these together and delivered them to some of his little friends. 

Scarlet playing with pretend snow. Why didn't I just scoop a bowl of real snow? 

Marshmallow snowman?? LAME.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Extracurricular Times

This past term got a little bit too busy for my liking. I learned what kinds of lessons are worthwhile and which ones I don't want to sign up for in the future. It was a good learning experience. I learned that lots of activities are fun, but not always worth the time and money. 
I keep forgetting to get a picture of "Grammy Class" but this is the best class of all. Every week my mom skypes with the three kids and teaches them American History. I print off the packets she sends to me and that is all I have to do. Genius. The kids all crowd around the computer and it takes a good 20 min to get started because they bombard Grammy with all their tidbits. Charlie said the other day, that sometimes Grammy cries in Grammy class. I asked, "Is it because she misses you?" He said, "No, I think it's because she's so grateful for this one battle or something." 
I found myself a passionate history teacher ;)

 This is our Chamber group we started this year with two other families. Two violinists, 3 cellists (Jane) and a pianist (Charlie). These guys worked and worked on their songs for their Christmas program. We played at a seniors home and they all did a wonderful job. It's been neat for the kids to learn to play in a group and listen to each other.  Us moms take turns doing a short music appreciation lesson at the beginning of the class and that's been great too.

 Charlie initially planned on taking a piano break this term so that he could try a world drumming class at the University. The scheduling didn't work out so we ended up finding him a new piano teacher near the University instead. She is awesome and he's really happy after his lessons. So now Jane and Charlie and I get to have a Friday date to Lethbridge each week. 
 This is Jane's second year of cello. She still loves to play. I honestly never have to get after her to practice which is so nice. She is very self initiating about it. I'm always so impressed at how much her teacher understands Jane, they actually have a lot in common so they get along perfectly. 

These riding lessons for Jane were AMAZING. She was in her element! I watched her on the horse and wondered if I'd ever seen her happier. She was beaming. Charlie also took some rodeo lessons at the same place Jane took riding. He got to ride a donkey and hook up a 
cart to a pony and stuff like that. 

Jacob at gymnastics.
 Jacob also has Ukulele classes with Tim. He knows about 20 chords and 2 songs. A Bob Marley song- Three Little Birds and He's got the Whole World in His Hands. I like how he has no trouble playing in front of an audience. 

Tim continues to do Spanish classes with all four of the kids on Saturdays too. This is already their third year!

 Scarlet went to Stay'n Play and the library program for her classes this term (with me and Ezra of course). She likes to go but she misses Jane and Charlie and Jacob and is always ready to go home by the end.

Scarlet also started attending the gymnastics open gym in January with Jacob and Ezra. It's great exercise for our long winters.

Every month I change our display board. First it was Claude Monet, then Emily Dickinson, then it was multiplication flashcards. I'm thinking of doing Albert Einstein next?