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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Nature Study Monday :: June {LinkUP!}



Snag a button if you wanna! :)
Come back and share your nature studies with us this month!

The {Nature Study Monday} link up is for ANY nature study-ish blog post written at any time during the current month. Which means, when you submit your link, it will show up in every. single. {NSM} post. during the whole month! Oh, and be not confused, feel free to link up on any day, be it Monday or not! 
















Monday, May 19, 2014

The Need for Balance. A Craving for Unity.


When it comes to education it's important to keep a balanced view of things. This is true because, all areas of life demand that we keep a balanced view. It's the way it is. Years ago when Charlotte Mason promoted the now well known motto 'Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life', none of these thoughts were 'new'. The emphasis of atmosphere in education wasn't original to her. Neither were these: 'Education is a Life' or 'Education is a Discipline'. These thoughts have all come and gone again and again. Taken individually, none is complete. Alone, each tends to one extreme or another.

As important as each aspect is, for example, atmosphere is not enough. It isn't enough to have a beautiful classroom, the best equipment and the picture perfect teacher with influence and knowledge to boot. If that were ALL there were to education, boredom, laziness, a lack of both curiosity and power of attention would be inevitable. Externals can only take you so far.

On the other hand, 'education as life' would tend to complete exhaustion. It be a literal case of too. much. information. One can only do so much learning without coming back round to the same ennui (n :a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.) Over much internal pressure will cause explosion! The brain reverts to a vegetable state in order to survive.

Similarly unbalanced, education with discipline (habit development) as it's primary focus, teaches the acquisition of character traits like 'subjects' meant to turn out a certain 'product' over-compartmentalizes our complex natures 'producing rather one-sided men'.

Any one of these mottoes taken alone is insufficient for summing up education because by itself each tips the balance to one extreme or another.
“Our nature craves after unity.” (p155)
Which is why Charlotte Mason proclaims, Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, AND a Life. All three.
When it comes to curriculum, it must be wide, varied, and balanced. It must be a feast of living ideas; from the past and present, from first-hand sources, from 'REALLY good books' (I really love that she emphasizes good books with the word 'really'. I really do.).

This is the way things are. As persons fashioned after an infinite God, we are complex beings. We must consider ALL our intricately interwoven parts when we think about educating persons. We can't afford to go to one extreme or the other. Balance. Education must be the Science of Relations:
“A child should be brought up to have relations of force with earth and water, should run and ride, swim and skate, lift and carry; should know texture, and work in material; should know by name, and where and how they live at any rate, the things of the earth about him, its birds and beasts and creeping things, its herbs and trees; should be in touch with the literature, art and thought of the past and the present I do not mean that he should know all these things; but he should feel, when he reads of it in the newspapers, the thrill which stirred the Cretan peasants when the frescoes in the palace of King Minos were disclosed to the labour of their spades. He should feel the thrill, not from mere contiguity, but because he has with the past the relationship of living pulsing thought...”

“He must have a living relationship with the present, its historic movement, its science, literature, art, social needs and aspirations. In fact, he must have a wide outlook, intimate relations all round; and force, virtue, must pass out of him,whether of hand, will, or sympathy, wherever he touches.” (p161-2)


:)


This post is based on my own thoughts about Chapter 14 in Volume 3, School Education by Charlotte Mason. The topic, A Master Thought, is May's topic for the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival 2014 Schedule. If you'd like to read other posts on the subject, be sure to read all the May editions.

If you'd like to share your post with the upcoming carnival, find out how here. Find links to past CMBCarnivals here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

were you hoping for a little Fantastic today?

i thought so. well, i don't mind sharing... :)








Monday, May 12, 2014

Nature Study Monday :: May {NSM! LinkUP}


time at the beach. sea gulls. shells. tides. colorful sunsets. and more.

:: 


new-to-us flowers on the coast.


Snag a button if you wanna! :)
Come back and share your nature studies with us this month!

The {Nature Study Monday} link up is for ANY nature study-ish blog post written at any time during the current month. Which means, when you submit your link, it will show up in every. single. {NSM} post. during the whole month! Oh, and be not confused, feel free to link up on any day, be it Monday or not! 









Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A few thoughts on Religious Training.


When considering Religious Training for homeschoolers, I got to wondering how and when this goes on in the average home. I realized in our house we don't have a formal time set aside called Daily Religious Training, that would be... um, well. Something anyway. Yet, you may have noticed? There is always a whole lot of training going on... whether we like it or not.

Regardless of whether or not we are aware of it, I believe that because we are humans created in God's image, we are religious, aware or unaware, and are being trained for better or worse from the time we're born. In that sense Religious Training doesn't really start in school years. It starts in Mom and Dad and is an integral part of the family culture even before the kids come. Matter of fact, I believe it's less what we do and more of who we are.

Our kids will sense our religion, what we believe and who we worship, whether we verbally lay it all out or not. We either show reverence toward God or we don't. We love Him or we don't. We serve Him or we don't. We may find that we show more reverence for Science or Nature than we do God. We may love or serve ourselves or some other thing more than God. Not showing reverence or not loving God or not serving Him comes in many different shades. Either way, our kids will know a great deal about our religion, regardless of what we say.

There is much more that could be said about that.

So how would you talk about the Religious Training that happens in your home?
When trying to pinpoint when religious exercise happens in your house, you might consider the following questions:

What place does God have in our home? Do we mention Him throughout the day? In what context? With what attitude? Is He only thought of during mealtime grace or while taking disciplinary action? Do we talk to Him? Alone and with our children? How often? With what attitude?
Do we love Him?

What place does the Bible have in our home? Do we read as a family? In what context? With what attitude? Do our kids see us feeding from it for ourselves? Are we familiar with all its parts? Is it basically seen as a rulebook? Do we understand it and know the stories?
Do we love it?

What holy days does our family recognize? In what ways do we keep them holy?

::

There are many other questions we could probably consider when thinking about this Very Important of Topics.

I didn't make time to post more this month, even though I wanted to very much. I have lots of thoughts. Alas, the demands on my present are more than will allow for much time for writing these days. I hope, however, that we might take some time to ponder the questions mentioned above and earmark a few for future thought and action.

::

To read more and in its proper context, read ch.13 of School Education in its entirety here.


This post is based on thoughts on Chapter 13 in Volume 3, School Education by Charlotte Mason. The topic, Some Unconsidered Aspects of Religious Training, is one option for posts advocated by the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival 2014 Schedule for April. 
If you'd like to read other posts on the subject, be sure to read all the April editions.
If you'd like to share your post with the upcoming carnival, find out how here.
Find links to past CMBCarnivals here.

CMBC - Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival - April!

Welcome Homeschoolers and fellow Charlotte Mason fans!

Though many of us don't follow the same school schedule, especially those schooling year-round or those living in the Southern Hemisphere, most North Americans are coming into the home stretch this schoolyear. I hope you've all had a productive year meeting challenges head on and coming out having learned something useful!

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This month's theme for the carnival is:
Some Unconsidered Aspects of Religious Training - Chapter 13

::

Without further ado, I'm pleased to present the submissions to this edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!

In her post, Pease porridge... not. Mama Squirrel asks us to consider,
"But why do we, through our institutions, so equally mistrust young students that we attempt to deceive them with a bit of "pease" instead of the real food that is so readily available?"

Liz
 helps us to remember back to what it was like as kids to REALLY imagine, in The Substance of Things Not Seen...
"Can you step back in your misty memory and recall some of the fantastic imaginings of your childhood, some of the absolutely unbelievable things you used to unhesitatingly believe? There really was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a jolly old man in a red suit that slid down the chimney, and a monster under the bed, wasn't there?"

Camille shares with us some personal reflections about some experiences with her son in her post, Parenting Challenge - Religious Training.

Nebby talks about reading comprehension and it's place in a CM education and asks us 'Where does it fit in?'

Celeste relishes in Laurie Bestvater's wisdom from her recently published book The Living Page.

In her post The Charlotte Mason Method, Megan walks us through an inspiring quote by C.D. Lawe, "The purpose of education should be to lead a child into the fullest, truest, noblest, and most fruitful relations of which he is capable, with the world in which he lives."

Based on years of experience, Tammy looks at this month's topic through the lens of an autistic family. Beautiful in Its Time is an insightful read for all of us as we care for others in our community.

In her last couple of posts Patti has been inspiring our artistic side by highlighting the works of Jacob von Rueysdale,  Georg Philipp Telemann and  A.A.Milne.

Last but not least, I've posted a few questions to consider about Religious Training here at A few Thoughts on Religious Training.

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I hope you've enjoyed this edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!
Please consider sharing your blog posts with us in a future edition!





See the CM Blog Carnival Schedule page for a list of dates and topics for the whole year (in progress).

By subscribing to the Carnival Announcement/Reminder list you can stay up-to-date and never miss another carnival. Plus, you'll receive handy dandy monthly ideas & links pertaining to the current topic... for free! ;) oh wait, it's all free! heheh.

Also, please encourage your bloggy AND non‐bloggy friends, who love Charlotte Mason and/or those who are newly interested, to visit the CMBCarnival, the more the merrier!! :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A week and a half of Fantastic!

If it had been up to Mya our 6yo, we would be calling our new little Ellia, 'Fantastic'...
Because, obviously, she IS.

A couple of weeks ago during our family think tank putting all possible baby names on the table, her's was BY FAR the best suggestion.
Her other suggestion, Snowflake as a close second... :)

Fantastic. It's the perfect name really.

Imagine getting to introduce yourself, "Hello, I'm Fantastic!" That would be seriously awesome.
I do almost wish we could have done it.

Either way, we've had almost two full weeks now of regular stuff with a whole lot of fantastic on the side! :)



1) In the clinic. Yikes. I do NOT take much pleasure in having taken and now posting these pictures in the So Very Soon After Birth look I'm sporting, but hey... my kids all look REAL good. :) 

2) We have this really cool tradition of celebrating each child's birth day before leaving the birth center with a birthday party complete with cake. Micah brought *Black Jungle Cake*, an appropriately named and typically yummy Peruvian chocolate cake. He had it inscribed with, Feliz Dia de Nacimiento Fantastica! {Happy Birthday Fantastic!} The doctors and nurses were amused. We did LOTS of things that were new to them... fun.

3) Outside the clinic. Gotta love the security bars on the outside AND the dirt roads... :)

4) No carseats required. Though we would have gotten one if we could have bought one. No carseats even for sale in our city!! A friend from Trujillo is sending one soon! ;)


LOVED the moments spent relishing in the first couple of days...


Daddy's pretty proud.


Sisters are thrilled!


Littlest Brother is happy!


All the brothers are pleased!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Nature Study Q&A: Newbies {NSM!} April LinkUp


Q:
We are new to CM. How do you go about doing a nature study without mommy having to research so much. Between the internet and books there is so much info out there! Is there a self contained book that we could get?

A:
Way back when I started doing nature study, this was my secret (though I didn't realize the genius of it back then) AND actually, it's what I still do...

1) Get Out. 
2) Look at Stuff. 
3) Love it.
It's that simple... and get this... it's contagious.

At first glance this answer may seem to sidestep the question. You might say, the question was about research.... Yet, regardless, I still hold it's the best response. Further down, I'll tell you why. After that, I'll tell you about which book I recommend. But wait, no skipping ahead. ;)

'Kay. I'm about to share some really great news you can relax about... Are you ready? Set. Go.

Nature study is not just about finding names for things. It's not all about making lists or drawing pictures of those things either (though those things are great extensions!). To do nature study, we actually don't need to have very much book knowledge or other materials to get started OR even to keep at it.

You see, nature study is not really an *academic* pursuit. 
It's more than that. WAY more.

Nature study is about seeing. It is building acquaintances over time with the things we see. It's about getting to know something good. Through regular nature walks we build intimacies with divinely crafted wonders, great and small. By doing this we are actually doing so. much. more. for our kids, for ourselves, than we can even imagine.


Many amazing artists, brilliant scientists and regular joes (like me and those smarter than me) have touted the influence that spending time outdoors as a child has had on the inspiration for their field of work. Somehow, I doubt that many would be referring to time spent as a child researching nature study. I suspect, that the majority are referring to time spent being in nature and having loved it for its own sake.

There have been many studies on the life-giving effects of time spent outdoors both for children and adults, which I will leave you to research for yourself if you are interested. My point here being, the benefits of nature study are going to be gained not ONLY by looking stuff up in books or on the internet, doing drawings or making lists. These benefits will be experienced with time. Because of this, I think it is highly important that we try to relax on the research, especially at first, and really just revel.

Now. Obviously, part of what makes nature study feel rewarding (instead of humiliating) is knowing the names for things. Many of us feel ripped off having grown up with no. nature. knowledge. whatsoever. But don't stress and don't rush. Believe me, over time, if you make those 3 easy steps above a priority, you will come to know about things, if you stick with it. What is more, you'll learn a whole lot of things you never expected! You see, books can't tell you how you'll feel about the first hopefully tenacious shoot of the daffodil in the spring or how even though it was your first love of spring, when it shrivels, it's okay because over there are the tulips, and across the way are the bushes and trees with their sweet tiny green buds and the sun and the dew and everything is starting to wake up and there's new life everywhere... The book knowledge, yes, eventually, because it's nice to be able to talk about our new found friends with mutual acquaintances. But first, the intimacies, these are what we really want to nurture. :)

In summary, when just beginning one should spend lots of time (months?!) simply getting outside, with the priority of opening eyes and hearts to nature. After some time (err on the side of too much rather than too little), you and your kids will begin to recognize some birds and plants and whatever other by sight. Next, you'll probably notice those same things in other areas (roadside, friends' houses, etc), and THEN is the time you might look for the names of those new acquaintances in a book or by asking Someone Who Knows.

Of course, there may be no harm done in using books sooner if you really understand the purpose of them! But, I really think it's THAT important to instill a love of nature in you and your kids BEFORE instituting any activity that might give off scent of *schoolwork*.

:)

Still, the question remains. Once one has all their priorities straight as regards nature study, where should one begin when using books and other resources? Is there one go-to resource?

I continue to suggest Handbook of Nature Study by Ann Comstock as the best all-in-one resource. Yes, it's huge. Yes, it's intimidating. Still, it is by far the most comprehensive and helpful resource for parents and teachers that I've seen yet. There are a lot of resources that may be newer and flashier (and smaller), but I will venture to say this is the absolute best go-to reference for beginning to teach (and continuing to teach) nature study. Use it as a teacher reference. Read the Intro and you'll see what I mean. It's rich!

Other sources for nature study inspiration may be found reading biographies of naturalists, people who have LOVED studying nature, such as Rachel Carson or John Audubon. There are many others but these are pretty widely accessible.


Also, I highly suggest that everyone visit their local nature centers and talk to real-live nature enthusiasts. They'll most likely be by far the best resource for identifying birds, plants, animals, geology, geography and more for specific regions. They'll also be able to steer one toward the field guides that will serve best in one's specific area.

And yes, as you go along pick up a few field guides relevant to your area. By the time you've done all the above, I doubt you'll have to ask anyone which books are the best ones!

You can do it!!  ;)



Snag a button if you wanna! :)
Come back and share your nature studies with us this month!


The {Nature Study Monday} link up is for ANY nature study-ish blog post written at any time during the current month. Which means, when you submit your link, it will show up in every. single. {NSM} post. during the whole month! Oh, and be not confused, feel free to link up on any day, be it Monday or not! 




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