Stephen and Nicky singing Signing Time songs with Karoline.
One of my favorite things ...a fresh blueberry pie after a day of picking and playing with friends in the country.
With this installment, we begin to ponder Laying Down the Rails. This book is so well named. As I reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next, it is so easy to fall into the lingo of the railroad.
"Ah, that's where we got off track."
"See, we were really chugging along in that term!
"Thankfully, we can begin again when we get derailed."
This particular book resonates with me. I see where habits have stood us in good stead over time. In particular, our bedtime habits have ensured that I know that all of my children got significant amounts of focused attention from me every day. Bedtime was (and is) assuredly a time of quality literature, of prayer, and of confidences shared as we snuggle in the still and the dark. I remember how hard this habit was to cultivate when my older boys were little. After a warm bath and books, I'd lie with them in the dark and one of two things would happen: (1) I'd internally squirm and fidget, thinking of the things I'd still to do: dishes, laundry, projects or (2) I'd fall asleep, thereby neglecting and annoying my husband.
Oh, it'd be so much easier to do this another way!But I was committed to an intentional habit, one that I knew would be beneficial over the long haul. I had no way of knowing just how beneficial. And I don't regret a single squirmy, sleepy moment. And somehow, over time, I've overcome both the squirminess and the sleepiness. I guess a "habit is ten natures:-)"
We read that habits produce character.That makes sense, doesn't it? A child's character is the sum of his habits to some degree.
The habits of the child produce the character of the man, because certain mental habitudes once set up, their nature is to go on forever unless they should be displaced by other habis. Here is an end to the easy philosophy of, 'It doesn't matter,' 'Oh, he'll grow out of it,' "He'll know better by and by,' 'He's so young, what can we expect?' and so on. Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend (Vol.I, p.118).
They won't outgrow it. When my husband and I watch our toddler doing something a bit naughty but awfully cute in someone so young, we have to remind ourselves that it won't be so cute when she is five. if we don't want her to behave a certain way when she's no longer a cherubic tot in diapers, the time to stop the behavior is now, before it is a habit.
Educate the child in right habits and the man's life will run in them, without the constant wear and tear of the moral effort of decision. once, twice, three times in a day, he will still, no doubt, have to choose between the highest and the less high, the best and the less good course. But all the minor moralities of life may be made habitual to him. He has been brought up to be courteous, prompt, punctual, neat, considerate; and he practises these virtues without conscious effort. It is much easier to behave in the way he is used to, than to originate a new line of conduct (Vol. 2, p.124)
So, the character is not just a series of rote behaviors. He is still in a position to decide again and again. We don't train the will out of him. We strengthen the will by instilling good patterns of behavior. Much the way we can teach a child to be a discerning reader, to help him learn how to read and comprehend a book, we teach him how to behave. The tools for comprehension don't do the work for him, but they give him particular patterns of thinking that come automatically, leaving him the freedom to actively engage his brain in higher level thinking as he reads. The "minor moralities of life" are no-brainers. And the barin is primed to choose good when faced with the big decisions.
The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.
Consider how laborious life would be were its wheels not greased by habits of cleanliness, neatness, order courtesy; had we to make the effort of decision about every detail of dressing and eating, coming and going, life would not be worth living.Every cottaeg mother knows that she must train her child in habits of decency, and a whole code of habit causes a shock to others which few children have courage to face. Physical fitness, morals and manners, are very largely the outcome of habit; and not only so, but the habits of the religious life also become fixed and delightful and give us dues support in the effort to live a godly, righteous and sober life (Vol 6, p. 103)
This is "pay now or pay later" parenting philosophy. I can assign a task and then motivate myself to teach patiently how it is done properly and to inspect to see that it has been completed properly--over and over again until it is a habit--or I can take the easy road now and not follow through, only to be faced with that same poorly done task, or task not done at all forever more. This goes way beyond the habit of doing household chores cheerfully and well.It means addressing every small lie and insisting upon the truth. It means stopping in my tracks to correct a whining child and insist on a pleasant voice (or a nap) every single time. It means ensuring first time obedience. It's work. but it's going to be work either way. An untrained child or a poorly trained child will be much, much more work as an unruly teenager or young adult. Much more work, much more worry, much more grief. Invest now or pay later.
Before I close with some parting words from Miss Mason, let me encourage you to leave a link in the comments when you share your thoughts on habits or join the conversation the ladies are having at the message board.
In conclusion, let me say that the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions--a running fire of Do and Don't; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way, and grow to fruitful purpose. The gardener, it is true, 'digs about and dungs,' prunes and trains, his peach tree; but that occupies a small fraction of the tree's life: all the rest of the time the sweet airs and sunshine, the rains and dews, play about it and breathe upon it, get into its substance, and the result is --peaches. But let the gardener neglect his part, and the peaches will be no better than sloes (Vol 1, p 134)
Pope Benedict XVI has declared that the Pauline Year will include “a series of liturgical, cultural and ecumenical events, as well as various pastoral and social initiatives, all inspired by Pauline spirituality.”
The ladies at 4Real have been busy brainstorming about how that will look inside the domestic church. Do drop by and read all they have suggested.
I have a question about schedules and individual reading time. In the schedules, I don't see listed a time allotted for the children reading to you. When do you have your children read to you? What do your other children do when you are working one-on-one with a child? My children are 9, 7, 5, 2, & 1. The 7 year old is not able to independently read yet, and he does not want to read to his older sister.
I think this will look differently in every house, maybe even on every given day.Some of my children will read aloud to anyone, anywhere. Others need quiet and my undivided attention. I tweak the time and location to meet each need. Within my language arts and history blocks, there is time to hear my early readers read aloud. My older children are working on their own reading and narrations at that time. I also read to my little ones before naptime for a good chunk of time and then for at least an hour before bedtime. For a child who needs my undivided attention and perfect quiet, evening time is the best to hear them read for a short while. But frankly, I'm kind of a captive audience any time a child approaches with an open book in hand. If at all possible, I stop and listen to what they want to share.
A word about those schedules in general: While the schedules are detailed enough to give me a good idea of the rhythm of the day, they don't include every detail of every activity. That is unnecessary for my purposes--it's also ever-changing. Since I can't include all the details, I'm happy to answer a question like this one, but my house is different from another house. We have different needs and abilities. It all goes back to being intentional--think about what needs to happen in your home education environment. . And then play with it until you have a rough idea of how to make it work in your house. Then test it and tweak it until it's a rhythm you can live with. (Then have another baby and start all over again;-)
Katy and Becky both wrote to ask what the days look like inside my plan. Here's the daily detail (at least theoretically):
Monday: Download monday_rhythm.pdf
Wednesday: Download wednesday_detail.pdf
Friday: Download friday_detail.pdf
Hope this is a help as you plan!
2009 Note: The link in this post was for last year's planner planner. It no longer works. This year's planner is equally good. You can find a description of it here.
I've gotten a couple of emails taking me to task for neglecting to plan "religion" when I planned for the year. Silly me, I knew something was missing;-)! Seriously, I didn't neglect handing on the faith. I don't neglect handing on the faith. And if you download and read the PDF file with the weekly plan posted in the planning post, you will see that there are several blocks scheduled for directly teaching "religion." That's in addition to the infusion of faith that we pray comes from living a life of faith. There, now I've finished my indignant rant.
I didn't give you details in the planning post because I wanted to dedicate a whole space to tell you all about the best investment I've made in something "school" related in a long, long time. Talk about bang for your buck! These planners are the best bargain going.
In the individual elementary planners, each child will have:
~Daily Exercises to help students learn more about Jesus through the Gospels
~Spaces to keep track of their daily classroom work and assignments
~Pages designed with liturgical colors to help students become more aware of the seasons and feasts of the Church Year
~UNIQUE symbols alert students to follow Jesus from city to city in the Gospels. Turn to the back cover for a map of the Holy Land in the Time of Jesus!
~Imprimatur, Most Reverend Robert J. Hermann, V.G. Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis, Missouri
~Official NAB Lectionary text
~A colorful two page liturgical calendar wheel
~Traditional prayers printed on the inside cover in the front
~Seven sacraments and their symbols printed on the back inside cover
~A full color page on how to pray the rosary
~ A page listing all the books of the Bible
~A page on how to read the Bible
~A two page color map of the US with all the state flags
~A two page map of the world
~A page with a multiplication table and English to Metric Conversions
~A page of homonyms
~Cheat Sheet for parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization
~How to make an outline
~How to write a research report
~the periodic table
~A cheat sheet for literature genres
~Some student pages related to the year-long study of the doctors of the Church that is outlined in the Teacher's Planner
Each 2-page "planning" spread highlights:
~the coming Sunday's Gospel story and a Word of the Week from that story
~the current season of the Church Year
~who and what we remember this week in Church and secular history
~Daily Exercises that explore the Gospel, Word of the Week, and special holidays. (Primary and Elementary only)
PLUS (in Elementary Planners):
- 6 subject columns and Spelling words
- Parent / teacher comment spaces
- Parent / student check-off boxes
- Prayer list space
- Reminder space
- Weekly Goals/Values space
Hall Pass (I'm thinking of something creative to do with this ;-)
The primary and high school planners are just as wonderful.
The Teacher's planners contain:
Most of what is in the children's planners, plus
~biographies of dozens of saints
~A full section on the Doctors of Church and the Influence of the Catholic Church in the History of the World. This will become our Monday morning focus. We will study one Doctor of the Church each week throughout the year.
~A reproducible section on the O Antiphons
~A section on the Fruits of the Spirit which I will tie into our teatime study of Our 24 Family Ways
~The planner provides a review of the Gospel from the previous Sunday (we'll touch on that briefly on Monday) and then an introduction of the following week's gospel. This will be our focused study on Tuesday, followed by a re-reading every day for the rest of the week.
~There are notes for the teacher for the each week which include several feast days and thoughts on Sunday's reading.We'll discuss the saints for the week during our focused time on Wednesdays.There are lots of puzzles and such to support these studies which can be reproduced for each of my children.
~Finally, Fridays are reserved for a Catholic Mosaic meditation. This will be a simple time, using the Adoremus Hymnal CD, and Finestrae Fidae, and the Catholic Mosaic books. . This focused study was a brainstorm that Colleen and I had a few weeks a go and it takes a little more explaining. We'll get a full post going soon.
So, that's the morning faith time. On Monday afternoons, there is a block reserved for First
Communion notebooks, Confirmation notebooks and advanced saint studies.
So, there you have it--or at least some of it. I didn't leave out faith education. But thanks for reminding me;-)
Still very limited internet. And no telephone at all. The Verizon guy is supposed to arrive any time now. Bummer; I was enjoying the quiet;-). I've been busy, both outside and inside. It's that planning time of year again. For those of us who relish the idea of creating our own curricula, this is a glorious time of year, characterized by all night binges with the library website open and hours at the playground with catalogs on our laps. I'm thrilled with the shape that the coming year is taking. Colleen, Marisa, and I have been fairly bubbling over with ideas and we've made them as practical as possible. I'd like to offer you a rough idea should you care to wander with us at Serendipity.
We're going to focus on American History this year. Literature-based plans for three different age levels (Primary, Elementary and Junior High) will share reading suggestions and craft ideas. The older children will use IEW's US History-Based Writing lessons Volume 1. Everybody will share in quality literature and will narrate and make Books of Centuries. The reading list for the first couple of months will be on the lefthand sidebar in the next few days.
Weekly installments will take us over several time periods.
September and October: Colonial America and the American Revolution
November: The Louisiana Purchase and the Explorations of Lewis and Clark
December will be devoted to welcoming the Babe in the manger (and a new baby in our house)
January and February: Pioneers
March: Native Americans
April: Spring term--Devoted to intensive nature study (also known as "Easter and Bluebell Break) and a Shakespeare block
May, June, and July: The Civil War
August is a scheduled break.
But that's just the beginning...
G is for Geography will begin again, this time studying the states in the order they entered the union, focusing more on map work, and tying the States' quarters into our studies.
A fine arts block will use M is for Melody as a spine and introduce some Montessori three part cards and the Music Masters CDs, along with Mike Venezia's biographies. In addition to Music Study, we'll use picture books, the Venezia biographies and M is for Masterpiece to study great art and artists and art terminology.
Poetry will have pride of place this year. Using R is for Rhyme as a spine, we'll learn terms and try our hand at writing poetry, while studying the great works of the masters. We'll use the Poetry for Young People series as we go.
We're going to focus on Charlotte Mason-style Nature Study in one big block a week, along with intensive seasonal study. The Handbook of Nature Study will be our spine along with Keeping a Nature Journal, Nature Drawing and Animals Alive!.
Our older children will use the syllabus for Laura Berquist's Natural History course.
Once a week, a focused science block will use literature to teach through a variety of topics. We'll have those books in virtual baskets on the lefthand sidebar at Serendipity over the next few days. These studies will be lowkey, with some reading and notebook pages and maybe a hands-on activity or two.
Truly, I plan to adapt all these plans for most children from K-12. I need to keep us all on pretty much the same page.
Gnomes and Gnumbers will continue, with some new organization. We're going to break lessons down into smaller segments and integrate manipulatives, drawing, original stories and living math books.
The Alphabet Path is nearing its end. Truly, if it weren't for computer difficulties, we'd be there already. All three of us are planning to meander down the trail again next year with our little ones picking and choosing from the plethora of good books.
~~~~We interrupt this post to go greet the Verizon repairman.Whew! She says she can fix it all today. Christian doubts it. We'll see...~~~
I've done some fiddling on iCalendar (Katherine offered me a late night tutorial since it's a Mac thing and I can't ever be on the Mac when Michael is around to help me figure out how it works.). Here's how the week will look:
~~~The computer was hit by lightning. No internet on that machine until we see if it can be repaired. Oh bother. How often does this have to happen? I asked her how to protect my computer. She suggested moving. Apparently, this neighborhood gets hit with alarming frequency and when it strikes, it strikes with ferocity. No pictures on Serendipity for awhile.~~~
About ten minutes after I posted this, my computer died. Not just a crash--a complete refusal to get online. I can still access files and photos (thank goodness) but I can't get online. And I admit, I really thought that God was making it very clear where the pruning was happening. I have limited access to Michael's computer. It was formerly a Mac laptop. The screen burned out and now it's a Mac laptop hooked up to a Dell monitor. It's awkward and I miss my mouse. I can't figure out how to hyperlink.It took about ten minutes to link above. The only time I have access to it is when my children are sleeping or outside or otherwise engaged happily (as with my desktop) AND when Michael doesn't need it. And he's doing summer school online.So, pretty much, all the stars have to line up, all the children have to be asleep, and Michael has to be out of the house in order for me to get online. Problem is, if he's gone I can't ask him a million questions about how this works.
We spent yesterday outside, picking cherries.I have great pictures but no clue how to upload from here.
And I miss my bookmarks!
Oh, yes, about thirty minutes ago, I was firmly convinced that God's message was to walk away from time online. The computer broke. I can't get online. Maybe God is telling me to focus more completely on laundry, right?
Half an hour ago, Mary Beth came up to inform me that the washing machine isn't working. Again. It breaks more than the computer. I have no back up washing machine.
So,what exactly IS He trying to say?
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Last year, I planted roses. I planted two varieties, six bushes in all. Three of the bushes were white roses called John Paul II. The other three were Our Lady of Guadalupe roses — beautiful pink roses that bloomed abundantly until the first week in December.
I had been warned by experienced gardeners that growing roses was tricky business. But I found otherwise. Michael dug some holes, we stuck the bushes in, filled them up and watered occasionally. We were rewarded by bouquet after bouquet of fresh-cut, sweet smelling roses for over six months. I admit that I thought I’d stumbled upon the perfect rose bushes.
I wasn’t sure what to do with them last winter, so I didn’t do anything. I wasn’t sure what to do with them in the spring and I was so sick with all-day-long morning sickness I didn’t care. The roses came back and all through May, they bloomed generously. Yep. I had this rose thing all figured out.
And then June came. The leaves started to turn yellow with black spots. Holes appeared in the leaves. Blooms yellowed on the vine before they fully opened. The bushes looked like they were dying very, very quickly. I asked for rose advice and it came back to me with authority — prune them way back, remove every trace of the diseased leaves and branches, clear the debris from the ground, treat the remaining plant and then wait for it to come back, healthier than ever. I was heartsick at the thought.
I set out with Mary Beth early one morning to do the deed. We donned gardening gloves and wielded pruning shears. She began to cut one leaf at a time. I told her to cut the whole branch. She cut off the tip. I told her to go lower and cut the whole branch. She winced. So did I. She questioned the wisdom of removing so much of the plant. I told her that the experts claimed that it was necessary to save the plant. And so, together, almost silently, we cut all six bushes back to nearly bare branches.
When were almost finished, I commented to her, “You know, God does this. He is the master gardener and He most certainly does prune. There are times in our lives we will feel stripped as bare as these bushes. Remember this morning. Remember how hard it was to cut it all away. Remember how much we want to save these flowers.”
She nodded solemnly. She thought I was nuts. One day, she will remember.
We set about in life with such good intentions. We fill our lives with relationships and our calendars with events. We get involved and seek friendships. Most of us seek also to give and to serve. We look for opportunities for our children to learn and to grow. We think we’ve found the perfect plan. For a while, it all blooms so beautifully. Our happy combination of activities bears abundant, sweet-smelling blossoms. We are quite sure it’s all God’s will for us.
And then the black spots start to creep up. Sometimes, it’s a slow process. Sometimes, we wake up one morning and find the whole bush covered with blackened, holey leaves. If we allow it, God begins to prune. Often, the pruning is painful, very painful. The only way to bear the pain of the pruning is to keep our eyes on the face of the Gardener. He has a plan. It’s a plan to save us, a plan to allow us to bloom abundantly. But first, He must strip us bare.
And there we stand in the summer sun, naked in our seemingly barren state. Very little green remains, no blooms can be seen. We need to begin again, confident that the Gardener will provide all we need to grow and flourish. We trust in the One who said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:1-5).
From Cate's Dad this morning:
Greetings from the TCH 17th Floor waiting room, its 6:22am I am sitting watching a huge sun rise of the city of Houston. Everyone else’s life is beginning out there, there are more cars on the streets and more horns honking. It feels like everyone else’s life is going on as normal and ours hangs in the balance. I don't have many words this morning I really just wanted to ask you to pray. I am sure you get tired of hearing me say that, but we are running out of chances. I woke up this morning saying, This is the Day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad and that is my Declaration of Hope this morning. They are going to attempt again to wean her off the machine around 8:00am, this will be one of the last chances from what I can tell. Please brothers and sisters in Christ pray just a little harder. Know that Ali and I love you and as soon as I hear something I will let you know.
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Katie, upon hearing we are going blueberry picking: Oh my! I think I'll wear my blue and white Easter dress. That is the right shade of blue to look just perfect in the blueberry picking pictures, don't you think?
Katie, upon hearing that there's no way I'm letting her wear her Easter dress to pick blueberries: Oh, dear, do I have an orange dress? That would complement blue.
When I suggest blue jeans and an old shirt: Great idea! A red shirt; red is good with blue. And a blue ribbon for my hair. Karoline is lucky; she's all set with those blueberry eyes. I wish I had blueberry eyes...
Please pray for Lenny Izzo, the husband of Joan Izzo (director of my daughters' dance school and dear friend). He will undergo open heart surgery today. Our constant thoughts and prayers are with Lenny, Joan, and the children.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.Amen
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Education is a life! Isn't that the truth?
I think I'm most aware of this truth when I consider how much I've been educated since leaving formal education. First, there was a "unit study" on marriage, with a little rabbit trail on weddings. Running along at the same time was a study of real estate. These studies were followed quickly by an intensive study of pregnancy and childbirth. Then, there was the all night cramming as I learned about breastfeeding and launched a lifelong study of child development. All too soon, we were knee deep in books about surviving cancer. That's a lot of learning in the first three years after college!
The common thread throughout these studies was my own intense interest. I wanted to know. Instinctively, I searched out the best resources: books written by people who cared about the subject at hand and long talks with experts in the field. And there was prayer. My husband and I prayed incessantly through that time of intense education.
When I consider the education of my children since then, there are certainly similarities. I have tried to provide for them in our home and in our adventures together away from home an education that is infused with living ideas. I've tried to bear in mind always the admonition of St. Edith Stein: "The children in school do not need merely what we have but rather what we are." And so I have hoped and prayed and worked to give them the best of what I am.
In Education Is...we read "that children should be fed a great intellectual and moral ideas through a generous curriculum." As we plan, let us plan for the banquet. Let them feast on great ideas, because "only those nourishing ideas become part of the child; mere knowledge does not." We know this to be true when we look over our own education, both in school and out. We know that what we have retained, what has become a part of us are the the good, the beautiful, and the holy--the things that mattered to us. We plan a curriculum with the intention of bringing the best of what the world has to offer into our homes and the hearts of our children. In Catholic Education: Homeward Bound, Mary Hasson and Kimberly Hahn encourage us not to be afraid:
Authentic Catholic education relies on and includes all that is true, good, and beautiful---in short, everything that points the way to God, the source of all truth, goodness and beauty.
It's a big world, full of God's endless bounty; why limit ourselves to only those resources in the boxed curriculum? Let's look at some of the particular methods of a Charlotte Mason-inspired education:
My favorite "definition" of living books comes from Educating the WholeHearted Child.
- A living book is written by a single author, a real and knowable person
- A living book is a literary expression of the author's own ideas and love of the subject
- The author of a living book addresses the reader as an intelligent and capable thinker
- In a living book, ideas are presented creatively in a way that stimulates the imagination.
I stop now and consider my plans for next year. Are living books the backbone of the studies? Am I choosing and presenting to my children the best of what passionate authors and illustrators have to offer?
I admit that writing seems to come as naturally as breathing in my household. My children write almost as readily as they play soccer. And the similarities do not escape me. My husbands writes sports television shows. His area of expertise is soccer. I write a little too;-).(I do not play soccer.) Narration is natural in our verbal household and even my student who struggles most is able to write well. What exactly is narration?
The cornerstone of a real life, real books education is narration. When a child is read story or reads it himself, he is required to retell it, with as much detail as possible, after paying attention to the first and only reading. After a trip to an historical site or a day in an apple orchard, the same method is employed, encouraging the child to use rich, descriptive language to tell about what he knows and cares about. young children narrate orally, with Mom occasionally transcribing what is said. Some young children will naturally use drawings to express themselves and these, too are narrations, either with or without captions.
The benefits to this approach are numerous.Because they are required to narrate after hearing a story or passage read only once, children learn quickly to pay close attention to that reading.They also learn to pay the same attention to the many facets of a field trip. The more details they notice, the more detailed their narrations.Children as young as four can be trained to be very observant and to retell stories and events with amazingly complex, textured language and sentence structure. It is the ideas in the stories or the experiences that fuel the narrations. These products, child-produced oral histories or essays, are a far cry from fill-in-the-blank workbook pages or the questions at the end of a textbook chapter.
Narrations require that a child engage his heart. He must be personally connected with the idea being presented in order to recount it. ~ Real Learning
For small children, copy work is a handwriting practice: First a letter, then a word, then a phrase, then a verse. All are done to the very best of the child's ability and saved in the notebook. Excellence is expected.
As a child matures, copy work is the careful study of literature. It is a child's chance to become familiar with the test of great writers, word by word and phrase by phrase. A child copies the work and in doing so learns the intricacies of it on an intimate level. ~Real Learning
Of dictation, Laura Berquist writes,
Studied dictation is a useful tool in the development of children's writing ability. First, the children are working from models of good writing. They see and study correct usage, punctuation, and spelling, as well as excellent writing of various styles. In the old days of Catholic education, schools were financially poorer, but they turned out excellent scholars as well as faithful Catholics. One reason for this was that neither the children nor the schools could afford books, so lessons were copied and then worked on. This meant that the children were continuously exposed to models of correctly written material. This is another example of the truth that children learn by imitation.~ The Harp and the Laurel Wreath (an excellent source of dictation material)
So, how, exactly does this work?
For the very young child, I simply dictate the words and sentences from the phonics patterns and storybooks we are studying. Our phonics lessons are extracted from rhyming books primarily. As the student becomes a capable reader, dictation passages are taken from copy work material. First, we read and discuss material, noting grammatical patterns or spelling of note, The next day , the child copies it (this may take two days). The third day, he studies it. Then I dictate to him as he writes it. The copy work and final dictation go in the the notebook.
The older child's spelling comes from his dictation work and his own writing. I pull misspelled words from his writing, write them correctly and have him copy them ten times. If I notice a pattern to his mistakes, I will have him copy several words that have the same pattern [the AVKO books are a great resource for pattern lists].~Real Learning
The study of pictures should not be left to chance, but they should take one artist after another, term by term, and study quietly some half-dozen reproductions of his work in the course of a term...We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child's sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sight of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture. ~Home Education
Music appreciation follows a similar pattern. I choose one composer every six weeks. We read a little about his life and listen to a Music Masters CD which intersperses his music with an interesting biography.Once a week, we repeat the cassette. Then we play the music often--very often--for six weeks. At the end of the six week period, the children offer narrations of the composer's life ~ Real Learning.
In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God. It must therefore translate into meaningful terms that which is in itself ineffable. Art has the unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colors, shapes, and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen. ~John Paul II, Letter to Artists
~Book of Centuries:
From the time they are very little, I teach my children to keep notebooks, journaling what they have learned in history. These notebooks become the Book of Centuries . At least once a week, I type their oral narrations for them to illustrate and to place in the
notebook. The notebook is organized chronologically, in order to facilitate the child physically placing an event into the proper time period. Simply insert a tabbed divider for each century into the notebook. The child files narrations, maps, and other drawings behind the tabs. The organization will help them develop a concept of time.~Real Learning
Do take advantage of the free Book of Centuries download at Simply Charlotte Mason.
~Hands on Math:
Well, all I can say here is that those gnomes sure are hands-on(look for more adventures in the fall)! And we like Math-U-See, too.
If you are a nature study novice or if you are in need of a reminder with regard to hows and whys of nature study, start with MacBeth's Opinion. Little else is necessary to get you started.MacBeth is the the master of outdoor education and an inspiration to everyone who is blessed to hear or read her wisdom.
In Charlotte's words:
We must assist the child to educate himself on Nature’s lines, and we must take care not to supplant and crowd out Nature and her methods with that which we call education. Object-lessons should be incidental; and this is where the family enjoys a great advantage over the school. The child who finds that wonderful and beautiful object, a “paper” wasp’s nest…has his lesson on the spot from father or mother~Parents and Children.
The plan is to discuss Hours in the Out-of-Doors: A Charlotte Mason Nature Study Handbook right after we finish Laying Down the Rails. And Laying Down the Rails starts next week!
Tell us all about how education is a life in your home and and how you implement Charlotte Mason's methods as you and your children pursue an authentic education. Be sure to leave a link to your post. If you don't have a blog (or even if you do), feel free to join the conversation at the message board. The rest of the series is here.
Northern Virginia Home Education Conference~ July 11
"Prepare to get your homeschool settled on solid ground for a new school year at the Northern Virginia Home Education Conference. "
At the Dulles Expo and Conference Center in Chantilly, VA. For more information, click here.
"For parents, grandparents, catechists, CCD teachers--any Catholic interested in Catholic education and family life!"
At the Liberty Place Theater and Conference Center in Lancaster, PA. For more information, click here.
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For some people, early pregnancy is a few of weeks of fleeting nausea and then there's a huge burst of second trimester energy. Not for me. At least, not for me in the last few pregnancies. This time isn't quite as bad as last time. I'm actually vertical occasionally and I've already left the house more during this pregnancy than during the whole nine months last time. Still, I'm dragging. I'm still pretty nauseous. My handy-dandy glucometer tells me I still have a perpetual case of low blood sugar. This time, I'm also very cranky. That's new for me. I'm trying not be cranky, but the crankies keep winning. Life feels very out of kilter. It's time to get back on track. But I know I will be challenged by the effort involved in balancing my physical (in)ability with my hopes of restoring peace to my home and to my heart.
A friend recently reminded me of the burnout chapter in Real Learning. Good idea. I started by reading that. Then, I made myself a list of the things I know to be necessary for me to pull myself out of a funk:
So that's it: the grand plan for getting back on track.
Beginning right now.
The July/August issue of Faith & Family magazine is now available. Mary Ellen's infamous "It's a trip, not a vacation!" has been much expanded to make it one you will clip and save and hand on to your daughters when they first venture to take a "family vacation" as mothers. And there's a summer grilling guide which features my friend Barbara's amazing grilled chicken and her fresh berry pie (here's Barbara's food blog). There's also Cajun grilled fish from my favorite Cajun grill experts. But most of all, there are three fabulous food photographs--Michael's first foray into professional published photography. I'm pretty excited about this issue! Subscribe today!
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Please keep praying for Baby Cate. She will be back in surgery this morning from 8-12 to try taking her off life support. You can read the rest of the story at the blog, including a beautiful story of God affirming Ali’s prayers yesterday in a precious way.
I'm remembering another baby, another June, another miracle. I know the power of prayer. I've seen the mercy of God. Please pray!
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