"Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education." ~ Charlotte Mason

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Home School Progress

Well, our schedule is well established and we are forming so good healthy habits! The favorite part of the day is when they each get 1 on 1 time with Mommy. They get a half hour each with me to do whatever they would like. At first I found this a bit difficult, just settling down to play whatever they wanted me to. I'm used to moving around and getting things done. But this has turned out to be a lovely time with each of the kids. Just chatting about what they want or playing what they want. I'm enjoying it - very much. We started ABEKA Grade 4 with Gates but I am finding it to be too much for her during the day. It's taking too long. So we are scaling back and taking a Charlotte Mason approach to Language Arts for the next few weeks. She'll be doing copywork, some dictation and more narration. She is my little book worm. I can barely keep her stocked for books. She eats them up (I think she gets it from me :). She's doing well with her piano too. We switched teachers and I am finding that Gates is doing much better, I think this is a better fit for her. She's been practicing daily, even when she is done her weekly songs she has been playing for enjoyment. I love listening to her practice her songs.

Grey is doing so well with some new approaches to math we have taken. He is adding 1 and 10 to a double digit number now with no difficulty! We're just going to stick with that for a while now. No rushing, working right at his pace and knowing that he WILL get it. He's doing awesome with his reading and writing. Such nice, neat printing he has. I'm hoping he'll like reading on his own too when he gets to that point. Grey just started piano lessons and he's doing so well with it. I think it's been good for his self esteem and I even think it's been good for his right/left sequencing and spatial movements. He's been listening to a fair bit of classical/instrumental music lately, he enjoys trying to figure out which instruments are playing and he is often right!

Now for the books for SL's Core 3+4 - both the kids are LOVING them. They are a great group of books. Reading time ranks right up there with 1 on 1 time during the day. They like to colour while reading and then enjoy a lively discussion about what we've read. I really feel like they're getting the meat out of what we read about - be it history, geography or science.

All in all the past few weeks have been relaxing and enjoyable. I love home schooling. I attended a great Charlotte Mason meeting and it feels good to hear from women who have gone before me, who have older children and I love listening to their ideas. It's good to have support for the type of life we have chosen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spiritual Insights this past week

I meet every other Tuesday with a group of women to study the Bible.  Right now we are working through a book by Beth Moore called Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender.  We are about 5 chapters in and it is proving to be an incredible study.  As I work through it's pages I am continually reminded of the verses in Hebrews 12: 1-3 that say:  "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, let you become weary and discouraged in your soul."  God wants us to look for Him day in and day out, to have HIM be our focus so that when the weight of life presses in we are not moved or shaken.  This requires much discipline and prayer.  I've found it difficult after a baby to get back to the discipline of rising earlier then my family to spend concentrated prayer and study in God's word but when I did I felt like the tone of my day was set.  I find I'm missing that time, we study God's word together in the morning with the kids but it does not fulfill that one on one time, that relationship I am meant to have with the Lord which I get when it is just Him and me in the early morning hours.  During that time He takes the time to teach me, convict me and renew me.  There is nothing like it.  And I have missed the regular routine of it.  A few things also spoke to me this week, a quote I saw on a friends FB page moved me to really think about how important it is to be in His word.  "Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right." ~ Charles H. Spurgeon  How true this is, sometimes it is easy to blur that line but it isn't as easy when my efforts are concentrated in His word by reading, studying and memorizing.  The line becomes much clearer and more defined.  And when I quiet my soul to hear His voice, asking for His wisdom, He will be more then faithful to provide it.  Another friend posted a beautiful song by the singer Heather William, her story behind the song was powerful (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVVn1Yh0sEY) and of course the song itself was amazing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX2uM0L3Y1A).  What stood out for me  was when Heather Williams said "I choose to keep and open dialog with God.... like David (King David)."   This stood out to me because King David did indeed do that, he kept an open dialog with God throughout the seasons of his life, even the hardest times; when King Saul was trying to kill him, or he experienced the consequences of his sin.  I think that makes all the difference in my walk when I do that, particularly in times of distress or times of intense refinement.  Sometimes, I don't feel like doing that but when I have chosen to, despite the way I'm feeling, I can feel my heart soften and the peace of God that passes all understanding settle in my spirit.  This week I am reminded of the race, of keeping my eyes on Jesus - the author and perfecter of my faith and I am also reminded that there are strong women who run beside me.  And I know that I am SO BLESSED.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tried my Hand at Quilting this past weekend.

On Saturday I met a couple of friends at one of their homes to get my very first quilting lesson. I've always been interested in quilting so jumped at the opportunity when my friend offered to teach me. I have a sewing machine my MIL bought me a number of years ago, so I pulled it out along with all my sewing supplies, some extra material my MIL gave me and headed out for an afternoon of fun, fellowship and learning. :) It turned out that I loved it (I thought I would). I completed my first quilting project this weekend - a place mat. I am looking forward to quilting all sorts of things. But the very first thing I would like to make is a quilt for Gates' bed. I got out some graph paper and drew up a design. It has some embroidery in it as well, which I am looking forward to doing because I have done that in ages as well. So hopefully in a few months time I'll have a picture to post of a quilt I made with my very own hands!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our new home school schedule has been going wonderfully these past three weeks.  School is getting done and not only getting done, but FUN! :)  We're having a good time being together as a family. :)   Our challenge these past few weeks has been with Grey.  He's been having some problems with place value and inverting numbers in math.  I've had the sense for a little while that something hasn't been right with math as we've introduced some new concepts.  Upon doing research I've realised that he most likely has dyscalculia (similar to dyslexia but having to do specifically with mathematical abilities and the way in which a person views math).  The more I delved into it the more convinced I became.  We've been taking math very slow and are going back over some concepts until they will be firmly entrenched.  I received my book in the mail that deals with dyscalculia yesterday and have already read through quite a bit of it.  As I read through it the problems my son is having are right there - on every single page.  I am relieved that the things we have noticed with him are finally making sense - even outside our regular 'math' time.  I also feel like I can help him now with the teaching aids I am being given.  The book is primarily for teachers in a classroom setting.  I have a huge advantage in the sense that my time is clearly ear marked toward my son during math time.  Add to that the advantage of being able to weave this approach throughout the day with him makes for a more complete and whole teaching approach.  Grey has had his struggles with diet and sight (he is celiac and has very poor eyesight) so we'll just take it as we have - in stride, knowing that God is in control and working everything out. What has consistently amazed me is how God answers prayer for him and that the answers haven't been long coming.  I know my little guy is covered and that he has a Heavenly Father who loves him so much.  And I feel beyond blessed that the Lord gives me wisdom and strength to fulfill the call He has given me - to home school my children, care for their needs and build them up.  My initial response was "My little man just can't catch a break, there's always something."  But as I concentrate on giving it to the Lord I am filled with the hope and peace that only comes from Him.  He will give me all that I need to help our son; in whatever form that requires.  Ultimately, I know God is in control and in the midst of challenge there is great blessing to be had by leaning on HIS strength.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The School Year Schedule Kick Off!

On Monday we started with a brand new core - Core 3+4 from Sonlight Curriculum.  I have used SL for 5 years now and we are thrilled with the delightful literature their program has to offer.  I can not say enough good things about their approach to Homeschooling. :)  We are doing American History this year which will be followed up by at least one year of Canadian History and Geography.  

Week one went very well.  I have revamped the way we do things.  Grace and Grey are one year older, all this considered I wanted to do something more concrete in terms of a routine!  We had always had a routine but I found it was becoming difficult to get everything we needed to do, in a day.  So I went to a structured day.  Each of us has a schedule in half hour to hour increments. The schedule is up on the wall for all to see and coloured coded in the favorite colours!  I've included all our subjects, play time, 1:1 time with Mommy, snacks, chores etc.  The first couple of days were difficult as we all adjusted to doing things this way but by the end of the week we were all happy with everything.  I feel so much less stressed about how our day unfolds as we know exactly what we're doing and when.  The food has already been decided for the day as well.  I actually feel like I have MORE time in the day then I ever did!  :)  The kids seem happier and focused.   I also like that they are forming good habits whether that be chores, work or leisure.  So we are on to week two of the new schedule!  Happy Homeschooling awaits!

Our Vacation

We got back a week ago from a lovely holiday up north in a cottage located right on a beautiful sandy beach.  It was three weeks of good solid family time, rest and relaxing.  It was cooler then last year but none of us minded.  We still got our beach days in.  One of the advantages Homeschool affords us the opportunity of taking holidays at our convenience.  We decided we would go in September as the weather is still pretty good and the crowds are gone.  Our children can wander and play about the beach and surrounding foliage without getting lost in the crowds!  We went on a hike in the area to see a water fall and forest.  It was a great hike and we saw many interesting geological features.   We flew kites, watched the para surfers navigate the waves, swam in the water and took in many a sunset in the evening!   As always, I am beyond thankful for our time as a family.  It's a time to concentrate completely on our family without all the hubbub of activity that the school year brings along with the summer activities we engage in - summer camps, VBS, park dates etc.  So when we come back we feel rested and able to tackle all that the next year will bring!   

BTW:  It's three months to Christmas! :)