Monday, June 16, 2008


At this point I think we would do well with some goals for next year and in that vein I have begun some focused planning and much too much of the unfocused type (the type that fills up headspace but gets you nowhere).

Willa has one form here which I really like the flow of. So much so that I think I will plug in my own things under her headings. For me forms have to be appealing to look at and visually work with my brain. This one does.

Next step: filling it in.

The Return of the King

We are at the Paths of the Dead... loving this again.

My Reading on Writing

Since the Well Trained Mind came out I have balked at the whole idea: it looked too overwhelming, too structured, too much, and so on. Even the Story of the World books, that my kids do enjoy, I have sort of avoided. I think it is the idea that my 6-9 year olds need some sort of in depth chronological history study. Yes, I am opinionated. (I think that there are way better ways for that age group to spend their time.)

That said, somehow I linked over to the WTM boards and found out that Susan Wise Bauer is writing a series of books on the topic of writing.

I downloaded a sample that outlines that three stages of a writer. I went in thinking it would be all complicated and drudgerous but came out agreeing with a lot of what she wrote and appreciating the simplicity of which it was set forward.

The Three Stages

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ideas for nature study composition...

Meredith has had her kids building biomes and researching them after enjoying Planet Earth. We own the series and are great fans so this might be fun.

(#1 for the writing file!)


Today was such a nice day- full of rain. We miss rain since leaving the rain forest and moving to the prairies. The garden is green, the walk is clean, and we had a nice slow day. That is one thing I love about this life of being home with my children. Amidst the busyness of spring soccer, ballet recitals, and such, we can start the day off slowly. Breakfast was a nice relaxed affair that finished around 10:30 or 11 with Papa being able to join in as he was working from home this morning. We had a good talk about communion and how partaking in the body and blood of Christ nourishes our souls and brings us in to full communion with Him.

Some math was done, some Latin translations, and a heap of history read as well as some other books. Ar took the two younger boys to the library in the rain (hey, for us west coasters we figured it was just a drizzle) and then we sort of drifted off into our own spaces for a bit.

This evening was nice and slow too- soccer was canceled and I must admit I am not too crestfallen. We had a leisurely supper that we could all sit down to together and enjoy and there was still time for The Return of the King with Papa before he left for a meeting.

I have been beginning to open my planning eyes a little bit more lately and have found this article a good read and a good think

Can we stop talking about curriculum...

This part of the post really spoke to me

Let’s talk about how you are living the dream - the life that you always wanted with your children. Wordly Wise is not living the dream. Buy it or not but don’t waste another second of your precious life deciding if you want a $7.60 workbook. Don’t use up your valuable free time (time you could spend drinking margaritas with a friend or playing Zooreka with your 5 year old) talking about math endlessly. Pick a math book and use it. Get help if you don’t understand it. If it rises to the level of crisis (Math. Isn’t. Working!), then by all means devote time to finding a solution online.

I have wasted so much of that time in the past and still waste it so much. Where on earth did that closet perfectionist come from in me that wants it all to work SO well- for us to have the CM/unschooling/delight driven yada, yada, yada perfect scene. Then there is the not so in the closet organizationally challenged me that is not too good at following through on the things I do decide on. Now, I am not saying at all that it is this black and white. We do some great stuff around here and if I could pick one way or the other I would have to pick the track of not following through completely vs. slaving away to some set way in the face of my children's eyes glazing and our joy sapping away.

So what is one to do with this conviction- that yes it is good to do some research but A. It is way more profitable when the research leads somewhere B. I don't over research into oblivion C. That all of this takes time and even though I enjoy researching different methods, seeking out book gems, reading thought provoking blogs, it all has to fall into a balance. If my 5 year old is taking back seat (ouch!) than I better turn the computer off and turn to focus on the real goods of living this full life with the ones I love around me.

So I will be looking for balance over the next weeks as I make some plans for our year to come. I see that my time spent on this, in order to be fruitful and economical, will need to be cconducted in a more structured way than it has in the past. I have my three catagories I have been thinking on since the last post as well as some specifics that I will put on my list;

Poems (a cache of poems to pull from if stuck for memorizing- my dd LOVES this)

Essay topics (a store of these too to pull from when needed)

Writing in general (a bit of an outline to make some simple goals for each child. Also, I would like to look over some of the writing they have done this year. Resources: Bravewriter, The Writer's Jungle, DYOCC, book on the Progymnasta, and especially ideas from their writing from this year- what they enjoyed, areas of strength etc.)

Book lists
-a big list to keep Ariel in books this year (good luck- that kid reads them faster than we can find them!)
-some new historical fiction to brighten our days (the kids are kind of tired of the history 'spine' type books we have been using along our novels....
-a history, natural history, lit. , and biography list for Ar. with lots of possible options
-some non-fiction reads for H. and C. that will break them in slowly
-a great list of picture books for us all to enjoy that I can use to order books to the quaint library down the block
-beginner list for Aa.

Grammar topics that link to Henle

A workbook creation for Henle (did this for part of this year and it worked great)

Oh my this list seems long. Not a good format for my tired eyes. I will have to look at it with fresh eyes tomorrow.

I am rereading some Charlotte Mason stuff and want to see how to make sure more of the things we love about her approach happen next year. My dd loves it all but the boys aren't too sure. That is another thing as the kids grow- my group teaching method for some of this has to change. How to make those changes, work with my kids distinct learning styles, and stay sane? Keeping things simple, but adding in the beauty of art and music, and saturating it with living books has always been my answer here. But I am going to look for ways to individualize things amidst this.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Spring thoughts...

Life has been busy around here- good, but busy. Soccer is in full swing, swimming is wrapping up and dance is officially done tomorrow.

One post I have enjoyed today in between lawn mowing and dinner is this one from Willa:

Time to Breathe

The title caught me, especially as our life has seemed to have a bit of an absence of that breathing space as of late.

As a mother here at home with my kids, I have been seeing that one of the big areas I am always trying to guard in our life is 'margin'- that space that allows my children to think, discover, grow, breathe, and just be. It is no small feat in this busy world, especially at times among 'busy homeschoolers'! But without this time I see how our lives can lose their anchor: with God, with each other, and with ourselves.

So as I go about planning for next year this 'breathing space' is going to be in the forefront of my mind.

While reading Willa's post I found myself pondering this line...

I find it easier to have things thought out ahead of time, and be flexible about the approach. I should remind myself though, now, that I am trying to structure things minimally

I don't tend to plan things out ahead of time to well- I research heaps, have lots of fuzzy ideas, even some well written out goals, but they seem to get overlooked all year. The unschooler in me balks at them. However, my slow brain has realized how helpful it would be for us to have some skeletal plans, some goals I look back at. Otherwise our tides can be overfull, or sorely sluggish, without me having much of an anchor. I am seeing how these simple plans would give me enough of an anchor that as we wander off on our adventures, work at our lessons, and live our lives, I would be able to keep grounded.

I also appreciated how she looked at the three focal areas; disciplina, discovery, and basic life skills. It reminds me of the book I read years ago by Clay and Sally Clarkson, Educating The Wholehearted Child. Enjoying all the scientific diagrams from my science years in University, I think I could use these three categories to give myself a good visual for the year to come.

As I am singing Willa's praise, I can also give her a hat tip for this idea as well: to keep a notebook this summer where I can journal about my children- how they are spending their time, what interests they are developing.... the skies the limit!

With these ideas percolating in my brain I am excited for a summer of intentional planning for next year and lots of margin and joy.