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22 November 2010

Good Manners

Monkey: Buuurp

Mom: What do you say when you blech?

Monkey: Oh yummy yummy yum!!

1000th Post Celebration!

Here is another participating shop for my giveaway! Stop by and check her out - I'm getting very close to the 1000th post!

20 November 2010

Teaching Virtues

We've been using our scripture box for about a year now, created with instructions on Simply Charlotte Mason. We haven't added the 31 numbered cards for the days of the month because we don't have enough verses learned well enough for that yet. Even after a year. And that's OK.

Don’t worry about how many days it takes for everyone to memorize the selected Scripture. Hiding God’s Word in your heart is not a race; it’s a lifelong habit.
-Simply Charlotte Mason

This box has surpassed my wildest expectations. I thought it would be a good thing. I anticipated that he would learn some scripture verses. But I didn't know the half of it.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
-Ephesians 6:4, emphasis added

One of the hardest things I've had to do as a parent is to teach my son to control himself, rather than trying to do it for him. Not only to get him to tell the truth, but to understand why it's important, to show him the value of truth, honesty, and integrity, or any other virtue I hope to see in him, so that it becomes important to him.

I teach correct principles, and they govern themselves.
-Joseph Smith

I believe that this sort of teaching is absolutely essential to helping our children to act, rather than to be acted upon. I also believe that moral agency - that is, the freedom to choose - is one of the greatest gifts of God to His children, next to life itself. Just as I would never endanger my children's lives, so I must guard against endangering their agency. This principle poses some substantial challenges to the parent hoping to see their child live a godly life! To make it work, I cannot be content to see proper behavior, I need to somehow ignite proper motivation. If Monkey sees the value in what I am teaching then the decision to comply becomes his, as it should be. One of the things that makes this difficult is, the heat of the moment is not a teachable moment.

Enter the scripture box. When I notice that Monkey is developing a habit that is not in accordance with scripture, I will often put a new verse in the scripture box that teaches the governing principle. Most recently, Monkey has discovered that by telling us he brushed his teeth already, we would move on to other things, even if he had, in fact, not brushed his teeth. When we discovered this, he happened to have just mastered the Articles of Faith we recently added, so there was room in the scripture box for teaching about honesty. I chose this verse to add to the box:

...that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.
1 Timothy 2:2

Learning this verse gave us the opportunity to talk about a number of virtues, including talking about what is honesty and why is it important. Since introducing it, Monkey has begun to learn to value honesty, and thus the lies have dropped right off. Because this teaching has happened outside of the moment of conflict, as a natural part of our established bedtime routine, frustration and defensiveness are reduced or eliminated. And because it is a part of our bedtime routine, we can revisit the idea of honesty several times and make sure it is really understood.

Giving a man a fish feeds him for one meal. Teaching a man to fish feeds him for a lifetime. As parents and gospel instructors, you and I are not in the business of distributing fish; rather, our work is to help our children learn "to fish" and to become spiritually steadfast. This vital objective is best accomplished as we encourage our children to act in accordance with correct principles - as we help them learn by doing. "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God" (John 7:17). Such learning requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception.
-David A. Bednar
Watching With All Perseverance

Another wonderful thing about the scripture box is that it does all this good stuff within the confines of a young attention span. Because of the nature of the box, we began with a single verse, and have gradually built up to doing 4-5 verses a night. But because we are constantly rotating through verses previously learned, we've covered a great deal of ground with minimal effort or fuss. I like that too.

19 November 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: Home Again

We went on a business trip with my husband this week, which was both challenging (kids in a hotel for a week) and rewarding (the family stayed together). We didn't really do anything remarkable, outside taking everyone along with Daddy, but I'm glad we went. Although hotel living has its challenges, I think we are happier when we're together.

While Daddy was at work, we explored the various buildings that were connected to our hotel by a skywalk network. Probably the coolest place we visited was this Barnes and Nobel.

Monkey picked out a Star Wars sticker book that kept him happily entertained in the hotel room (Yay!), and I got a dog book for further study so I know what to do when we bring this cutie home next month.

We tried to keep the basics of school going while we were gone. Monkey's reading is starting to take off, and we took some phonics games & Bob Books with to keep the momentum going on that. I think he's starting to internalize blending better, as well as building a small stock of words he's sounded out enough to recognize them when he sees them. It's so exciting to see him progressing! In addition to the CVC words that he's getting pretty good at, he seems pretty comfortable with the double letter words we've introduced: fell, sell, egg, Bill, Jill, and so on. I can tell they're still new enough to require concentration, but he's getting there.

We took a couple color by numbers for math, which was fun, and also our Castle Logix game. That's lots of fun, and he wanted to play again and again. At one point we thought we'd lost 4 of the 7 pieces, but they turned up again at the last minute. (I don't know why the picture isn't showing... I'll have to play with it later to see if I can fix that. It's a cool looking game & that's most of the reason for the link!)

I brought along our scripture box to try to keep that going. It seems like scripture study always suffers when the routine suffers. But this time we did well.

Now that we're home, I've got a whole bunch of things I want to blog about, including my 1000th Post Celebration that's coming up! We'll see how much time on the computer I manage to squeeze in with Thanksgiving this week!

Just Swinging

I learned quite a bit the other day in a visit to the park that took less than an hour. In addition to learning about photography, I relearned the value of doing Nothing.

I'd planned to show him the creek I found. It's got fish and frogs and I was sure he'd love it. Not so much. He wanted to swing. So we did that, on an oldschool swing with a board, rather than the flexible ones you usually find. He thought it was pretty cool. Pretty soon, he's discovering things. Like, he makes wind when he swings, and the wind can push the leaves out of the way. Like, when he swings the stick at the leaves, it makes a cool noise.

Raven did Nothing for a while too. Monkey suggested that he'd like a stick to play with. Raven appeared to enjoy it, and tried to grab some stuff on the ground, though he's not quite that coordinated yet.

I believe Miss Mason calls the art of getting out of the way of our children's learning "Masterly Inactivity," but really, I think Nothing pretty much sums it up.

1000th Post Celebration!

I'm almost to my 1000th post, and to celebrate, I'm arranging some giveaways! Check out these participating Etsy shops & stay tuned on the cool stuff that's going to be up for grabs!

14 November 2010

Trying Audio Books

Tatiana, over at World Star Academy, shared some audio book resources a couple of Classical Homeschooling Carnivals ago, which I finally figured out how to make work for us: we've burned a couple of disks of folk tales, and I've got my eye on some more. This way, they're short enough to listen to in the car as we drive around town. I don't tend to take my own car on long trips much; that's something we tend to do in my husband's car. But it'll be nice to have some stories to listen to in my car when we're running errands. These are the ones we selected:

Hans Christian Anderson's Folk Tales
English Fairy Tales
West African Folk Tales (not actually burned yet - but will be soon)

09 November 2010

Cake Bites

Bakerella has some awesome stuff. Kate made some for her Halloween party. Cute's not quite the right word, but they did turn out just right! (She also made some adorable little pumpkins, but they're only on facebook, not her blog.)

I wanted to make cute little cake things too. So I did. Monkey helped. Raven's too little for that sort of thing, though he did seem interested in watching. Here's the recipe. It's super easy. And yummy.

Poor Raven is still too little to do much with us, though he gets to watch pretty regularly, and I try to keep up a running commentary on what's going on. He is, however, mighty good at being cute. See?

08 November 2010

Playing With Numbers

We've been having some fun with Math lately.

We spent some time counting shapes and he copied my layout.

Then we switched numbers and I copied his layout.

After that he played with the shapes for a while.

Later, he wanted to do math with cars, so we set up the partners of 5 and counted them.

Then slid them down the binders to show how the partners make 5.

Another day, we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and did a caterpillar inspired "scene of 4" for that activity. Monkey chose to feed his 4 caterpillars 4 plums and 4 strawberries.

05 November 2010

On Classical Education

We've been playing at school for quite some time, but shortly The Real Thing begins. I've been studying up so that I know what I'm doing. It's time to put into words what exactly is a Classical Education. What does that mean at our house, for our boys? Although I've been studying classical homeschooling for 3 years now, planning to use it when Monkey got big enough, putting the answer to the question, "What is Classical Homeschooling?" into words is no easy feat. I'm giving it a go anyway.

"We believe in education, and we spend a substantial part of our budget on the education of our young people. We expect them to think. We expect them to investigate. We expect them to use their minds and dig deeply for knowledge in all fields. If we have a motto, it is this: ‘The glory of God is intelligence.’ "
-Gordon B. Hinckley
(Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 127)

The Basics

The Classical education is a framework, a philosophical structure with which to organize and give form to the everyday effort of education. Within this framework there is a great deal of freedom to follow the student's interest; to spark his delight. Broadly speaking, the education of a child is broken into three general stages: the Grammar Stage, the Logic Stage, and the Rhetoric Stage. These three together are known as the Trivium.

Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.
-Susan Wise Bauer

In the Grammar Stage, we'll learn the basics - the foundation or "grammar" of the various topics we study. The use and structure of language, arithmetic, elementary science, and history. While this will include memorizing lists, math facts and so forth, it will also include reading the story that is history, as well as plenty of classic literature and hands-on projects. The student may also begin Latin in the Grammar Stage.

So far (except, of course, for the Latin), our curriculum contains nothing that departs very far from common practice. The difference will be felt rather in the attitude of the teachers, who must look upon all these activities less as "subjects" in themselves than as a gathering-together of material for use in the next part of the Trivium.
-Dorthy Sayers
The Lost Tools of Learning

The Logic Stage - middle school, more or less - revisits each area of study, and find connections. Connections in events; relationships in all sorts of knowledge. In addition, the student in the Logic Stage studies logic itself, in order to better understand the relationships between the various pieces of information that he revisits or encounters. Learning logic formally also allows the student to identify faulty arguments and propaganda in advertising, politics, and so on. Logic Stage students should also be ready to begin working with some original sources. As they continue reading they will see a number of unabridged classic books and poems. The student also begins to study Latin if they haven't already.

A classical education isn't a matter of tacking logic and Latin onto a standard fifth-grade curriculum. Rather, logic trains the mind to approach every subject in a particular way -- to look for patterns and sets of relationships in each subject area.
-Susan Wise Bauer
The Well-Trained Mind, 234

In the Rhetoric Stage the student takes the knowledge and skills already gained and uses it to consider ideas and then express his thoughts about those ideas clearly, elegantly, and forcefully, whatever the "subject" under discussion.

Rhetoric is dependent upon the first two stages of the trivium. The grammar stage laid a foundation of knowledge; without knowledge, the rhetorician has nothing of substance to say. The logic stage taught the student to think through the validity of arguments, to weigh the value of evidence. In the rhetoric stage, the student uses knowledge and the skill of logical argument to write and speak about all the subjects in the curriculum.
-Susan Wise Bauer
The Well-Trained Mind, 462

The Purpose

For members of my faith, learning is a religious mandate from which we are not released upon graduation. Education is, and must be, a life-long pursuit. The purpose of a child's education is less to fill his mind with everything he'll need to know throughout his whole life - an impossible task for a mere 12 years - and more to give him the tools with which to learn all he will need moving forward from graduation.

For the sole true end of education is simply this; to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.
-Dorthy Sayers
The Lost Tools of Learning

04 November 2010

We're getting a Dog!

I'm thinking we'll call her "Isis." She's a siberian husky. She'll come home in late December.


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