Monday, October 25, 2010

I Would Be A Hermit

I would be a hermit...except that...well, I do have an inner need for social connection, and I need to not be a hermit for the sake of my girls. Yesterday, I went to a birthday party for my daughter's friend from dance class.

When I was a child, I had one group party and it turned out disastorously. I had one little boy who was younger than me that I played with a lot from down the street. He was the only one who showed up. All the girls my age from school didn't. I cried for a good portion of my party. Poor little friend from down the street.

When my oldest was turning one, it was like deja vu from childhood. I invited all the mom's with babies and young toddlers from church. Many said they would come. Some called and canceled. Others just didn't show. In the end, only my friend from Seattle and her family that had come down for the day and my husband's Mom and grandparents made it for that day. I haven't done a "friend" birthday party since.

I don't even believe in "birthday parties" for young kids, per se. I think all the toys that kids get leave them spoiled and consumerist...that is to say that they want more and more and often the gifts have little value to them. It's fun for the kids, but it doesn't teach value. Also, the birthday paries can put an emphasis unfairly on friends and not on family. They learn to look outward for approval.

Yet, not all influences from birthday parties are negative ones. My husband is so great for me. He reminds me that I can choose to let my daughter do a birthday party for a friend or for a few friends who seems like they would be good friends and not say yes to every single birthday party. And, I stayed there at the party and talked with the adults and saw for myself that it was a good positive place. In fact, about half of the girls that were there were homeschooled and most, if not all were from Christian families. And, I stretched myself and talked with others. It was difficult for me, it stretched me, but it was good for me.

Tomorrow I go to the dentist...the hygienist. Now, I hate the dentist for multiple reasons. The insurance we have is an HMO and it feels like we are treated like chattel when we go the dentist. The waiting room is crowded and busy...many of the employees are impatient. I hate that. I have particular distate for individuals who offer poor customer service in whatever they do.

Additionally, the dentist to me, is often a place of bad news. My teeth have weak enamel and despite a lot of attention to brushing and flossing I still get cavities. Better nutrition I think might help me, but I'm still at the place where I eat a good amount of sugar and don't eat all properly prepared soups and dairy and grains (see Sandy Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions for what I mean). I eat more veggies and whole grains and fresh fruits than the typical person I think, but I don't think that helps my teeth so much. And, poor nutrition from an early age paired with poor genetics, just means my teeth are especially susceptible as they didn't form right and my mouth chemistry doesn't help create healthy teeth.

I also don't look forward to going to the dentist because it takes so much from my day. My husband must watch all the kids, including the baby and can't get his work done for that part of the day. I'm not home and can't keep the household moving.

But, I realized tonight that it isn't the disruption of my schedule, the bad news, or the poor customer service that makes the dentist such a dreaded appointment for me. It is the socialness of the appointment. I have to sit one on one with a stranger who may be critical of me in a chair for a good fourty five minutes. And I have to be social with her. I don't like getting my hair cut for the same reason. Oh, my.

And, it's hard...Really, I know, I've heard it...push past your fears...and it opens a new world for you. But, for me social fears are like my fear of heights. I can push and I can push and it DOES get better, but the moment I stop PUSHING it gets harder and harder and harder. So, I have to keep pushing. I don't just get there to that place where I'm not "shy" anymore. Oh, well. In heaven one day. All will be made well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

God's Voice - Robinson Curriculum vs. Charlotte Mason

God speaks to me a lot in the morning hours as I am waking up. I am grateful, actually, which is surprising, that occasionally my husband gets up early and go does his farm work (which is largely his form of golfing to him). Once, I was only upset about him getting up early. But, then he didn't lay that down and ask me, but just did it, now he is more and more of a gentleman. And, then I was dealing with insomnia more than now. And having him missing made my insomnia worse. Lately, however, the occasional time in my bed without my husband is a really healthy time when God gives me input into my plans.

One thing God has been speaking to me about is honoring him first in whatever I do. I once put Bible reading as the first thing in our day. With trying to follow a Robinson curriculum pattern this year, I put it off until the end of the day. The idea was to end our day with God's Word...a bedtime ritual if you will. That works for a lot of people. But, our day typically gets pushed further and further and we never even get to reading God's Word. I want to start out reading God's Word to my children first thing.

I've really been into the Robinson idea of having your children teach themselves. I especially wanted to try this during the current year since my baby takes up so much of my time and I found it hard to implement other learning styles. I still believe in the Robinson concept greatly.

I have also over the years worked to implement first a Classical Education and then a Charlotte Mason Education. The Classical Education as laid out in a Well Trained Mind to me was 1) too much to do, 2) too repetitive, 3) too rigid, and 4) took the love out of learning for my children.

On to a Charlotte Mason Education. I must say, I still live by much of what Charlotte wrote. She was a great educator in my book and of course considered herself a classical educator. So much of her philosophy I want to incorporate into my homeschool...twaddle free reading, a love of nature, teaching observation, working on habits, having a wide range of topics, not coddling the child, not bringing the material down the "level of the child", not entertaining the child.

The one topic that I find unhelpful in the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy, I also take inspiration from. That is Charlotte frequently said if a child's interest was waning, to switch topics to a fully different topic...that this keeps their brain engaged and fresh. The burden of this is on the adult. From reading and experiencing Robinson's thought on this, I see the virtue of having the child sustain their attention beyond what is convenient. I particularly like the Math portion of Robinson. The child works two hours a day on their Math, teaches themselves, and finishes Saxon Calculus by the age 16 typically.

So I am praying about a daily schedule of homeschooling that is:

  • challenging
  • teaches the child to be reponsible for themselves
  • can be gotten done in a reasonable amount of time
  • is a rich curriculum
  • creates a love of learning in my children

God has been speaking to me about using Robinson as a guideline, but being flexible and not rigid. Also, I believe He has been speaking to me that reading with my children (especially when they are more challenging works a little above their level and I am not "coddling" them as Charlotte Mason said) creates a bonding time between my children and I.

Happy Teaching everyone. I pray God directs you in your homeschooling adventures in a way that fits you and your family. He is faithful!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Just Thinking

I'm in a contemplative mood today. Maybe it's the fall weather and darkness creeping forward. Maybe, it's just the place I've come to with the day I had and the (over) commitments I've made. I want my kids to have everything I always wanted as a kid. I want them to play an instrument, be artistic, dance, do gymnastics, sing, swim, be athletic, be smart, have lots of friends, and generally fave a grand time in their childhood.

So, my girls are involved in violin, art, and dance right now. The dance is two days a week for one child. I want my older girl to do private lessons with her violin. I want them to take swimming (so they know how to swim). And I want them to make connections. And I have a toddler (almost preschooler) and an infant right now.

Then, there was a Christmas dance opportunity. I asked my husband about it. I've asked him several years and he's been against it. This year he warned me he thought I would be over committing, but that he was fine with it.

Anyhow, I'm now sure I was overcommitting, but I made a committment and we need to follow through. It's been a good experience. I enjoy talking with other Moms and watching the girls dance. But, I need to be home too. I think some I was doing it to be accepted by other women. But, we'll see this through and I'll have it out of my system and I can move on I think. I'm not sure on our other committments. I just know that I want to teach my girls to enjoy life too, not just to do lots of things or accomplish a lot.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

1 to 100 Number Line

I hate it when I'm looking for something very simple on the internet and it isn't available out there unless you pay for it. I don't blame people for trying to make a living through the internet. In fact, our family business is mostly internet based. But, I think we ought to share simple knowledge together.

The other day I was looking for a 1-100 number chart on the internet, so I could show my 7 year old an alternate way of figuring out how to count by 2,3,4,5,6,and so on. I couldn't find one. So, here is one, I'm sharing mine on Google docs. It's a great way of sharing.

1 to 100 Number Chart

Disclaimer: Google docs did not save the formatting I used for my Word chart, but the chart is still functional the way it is. Mine was just nicer than the version I share here. One of these days I'll have to figure out how to do PDFs so I can share more freely.