Tag Archives: Homeschool

Homeschool May-June 2016

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I often wonder how it is possible that our home life which is so dependent on the lull of a routine for its success is also nothing short of wondrous and breathless at the same time. May and June went by with school examinations for the older children and they prepared for them mostly independently as I spent much of my energy homeschooling Piglet and Roo, the latter right smack in the middle of her fantastic two’s. At two, everything is truly marvellous and must be fully explored even if it means scaling dangerous heights to get there.

In this Keeping-Up-With-Roo season, I tend to cling more than ever to our simple routine, following it mindfully, sometimes tenaciously, but also knowing it has to be held loosely in order to educate the whole child, “head, heart and hands” (think Waldorf). This, and also the awareness that childhood is indeed precious and fleeting has made for relatively peaceful mothering for the most part even though there will always be the usual heart-stopping toddler-initiated event or two, often more, that comes with the territory.

Every day we work through practical life – self-care habits and the mountain of chores it takes to run a household of seven – dog included, fish and caterpillar excepted. The older children have begun to grumble or drag their feet occasionally which tends to make my blood boil but I’m choosing to view these as teaching opportunities to remind ourselves that learning to persist through drudgery in order to serve others and keep on top of our own “mess” is part of educating the heart.

I say “remind ourselves” because, in truth, upon deeper reflection recently I have come face to face with my own internal grumbling about the constancy of clean-ups and have therefore come to a new resolve to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Character is caught, not taught. As Rudolf Steiner famously said, “You will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are.”

While there’s been an hour or so of academics for each child, more than double the amount of time spent reading-aloud and reading independently, and good progress in two languages, history, science and art, we’ve stalled miserably in music and math.

Thankfully though, besides simplicity I’m also learning more confidently to adapt to life’s changing seasons without feeling too badly about fudging some areas. With home-based work projects set to increase in the next few months and the unpredictable rains alternating between brief drizzles and torrential downpours, I decided it was timely for us to get a head start on garden work during sunny days. Our small green patch, on maintenance mode since Roo was hospitalised in April (a bit of a scare deserving another post), would benefit from a good deal of changes and provide in itself a myriad of practical outdoor activities central to learning, imagination and play. The previous season of crops was nearing its end and it was time to uproot, let the land rest awhile, and plant again.

I’ve been falling into bed exhausted each night but growing a few more inches in wonder at how spending time simply with children whether at home or in the world outside has blessed and enriched my own life beyond measure. Education truly begins with being present and attentive, reading the open book that is their lives and then stepping out into new paths with them, mutually enjoying the adventure and the fulfilment it brings.

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Studies on Egypt – making an Egyptian collar

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Kitchen work suited for toddlers – washing vegetables and peeling garlic

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Learning how to prepare a planting hole and add more colour to the garden

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Roo’s current favourite indoor activity – beading assorted colours with pipe cleaners

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Piglet enjoying the privilege of reading aloud a new book to me while I nurse Roo at nap time

Experiments with air - homemade wind vane and string pulley

Experiments with air – homemade wind vane and string pulley

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Patience

Looking for earthworms as we plant spring onions, parsley and Brazilian spinach in a new bed

Looking for earthworms as we plant spring onions, parsley and Brazilian spinach in a new bed

 

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” ~ Charlotte Mason

Sundry happenings at homeschool

I found we can kill two birds with one stone when we eat our veggies raw.

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Eating raw veggies is great. We get all the nutrients. And I don’t have to spend time cooking them!

Save some celery stalks. Get some ink. Talk about plants and capillary action.

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We love this simple experiment!

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Today, I asked Lamb what he wanted to do during our Free Choice Time.

Play with SAND!!!

So we did.

I tried to shake off my adult inhibitions and not mind the mess that happens when a 5 year old and an almost 3 year old get their hands on sand.

Especially Purple Sand.

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Puppy and I just finished a riveting book, Claire Huchet Bishop’s Twenty and Ten.

Set in the context of World War II, it is based on a true story that occurred during the German occupation of France. Twenty French children are sent to a refuge in the mountains. They take in, and hide, 10 Jewish refugee children.

It’s a book you can’t put down, especially from the part when Nazi soldiers arrive.

There is a touching scene at the beginning, when a Jewish boy gives his one-and-only treasured piece of chocolate to a French boy in gratitude to the latter for having given to him the remainder of his meal.

Can you believe that on the very same day we read that chapter, our family had lunch with several young friends. One of them, a refugee girl, reluctantly agreed to come along as she didn’t have money to pay for her meal. Of course we wanted her company, so we told her not to think of money. As we left the restaurant, she slipped something into Puppy’s hand.

Guess what it was?

A piece of chocolate.

Puppy and I poured over our world map and looked for all the locations mentioned in the book. We had an interesting time discussing the story. I learned that 5 year olds are capable of understanding a great deal of things.

My mother came visiting today. As I washed the breakfast dishes, I overheard Puppy say to her, “Do you know the Nazis?”

There was a short silence. Then my mother said, “What?”

“The Nazis,” Puppy said. “They killed Jews. And they wanted to kill the Jewish children.”

I didn’t hear what followed, and I didn’t get the opportunity to ask my mother what she thought of that conversation.

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Me?

I’m still thinking about the story. About the things Puppy and I talked about. About our refugee friend.

And about how we’re living our lives today for the “Next” Generation.

Because the “Next” Generation begins NOW.