Archive for the ‘General Education’ Category

Today I’m doing a significant amount of laundry.

I’m thinking it’s mostly because one day last week, I should’ve been doing this:

But instead, I chose to help the boys drag out these:

…and sort them into blues and reds and

yellows and blacks so that they could do this:

They had so much fun with this project from their

Homeschool Lego Club at Currclick!

And really, it was way more fun than that pile of laundry…

…and a lot less messy than their previous lesson

where they learned about and constructed a volcano:

Yes, we put our own little twist on it by opting to use Mentos and Diet Soda

rather than the traditional vinegar and baking soda = a bit more messy!

Now, back to my laundry!


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I’m gonna do it.

I’m going to change up¬†our homeschool schedule!

Not the “daily” part of it so much, rather, the “year”.

I’m well aware that one of the beauties of home educating is the flexibility. I tell people that very thing all the time. However, I’m finding myself reluctant to utilize that beautiful flexibility. I know it’s just because it’s going to make things a bit ‘different’ for us. {My husband and friends keep reminding me that I am ‘different’, and changing up this schedule is the least of my ‘differences’!} ūüėČ

Thankfully, there are plenty of people on the web sharing a variety of ways in which they’ve structured their homeschool¬†year. Some are on three months and off one. Some keep the same schedule all year long. Some take off one week per month, and so on! I love seeing the diversity and how it works/doesn’t work for families, often depending on seasons they’re in or other circumstances.

We’ve always taken some sort of break during the summer months. We’ve continued lessons year ’round for quite some time now, using the¬†June, July, and most of August¬†as a time to do half-days – maintaining a few subjects and/or projects.¬†The past couple of¬†summers here in the South has been scorching. The reality is, it’s often that way. We just tend to forget and say the same ole things every summer….

“Man, it’s like someone turned on a hair-dryer out there.”

“This heat is just miserable, and that humidity….”

“I break out in a sweat just looking out the window.”

It’s almost as if we’re surprised ūüôā

Sure, my crazy kids still play outside quite a bit, but during the hottest parts of the day – this morning at 8:55 a.m.¬†it was already 93 degrees Fahrenheit – they’ve been coming in to cool off! It’s the kinda hot and humid that just isn’t terribly enjoyable. We go for a swim a few times a week, and that’s pretty fun. However, things like a hike or picnic just aren’t all that appealing…if lots of cold water isn’t involved, you give it a second thought.

Soooooooo….while we’ve tossed this idea around several times (and TONS of other families already do it), we’re going to change our months “off”. We’re going to start the school year with the calendar year in January, taking October, November, and December as our time when we pare down our lessons to half¬†days! It’s just so much more pleasant that time of year where we are. It’s much more feasible to take an afternoon hike or head to the park for a picnic or trot down to the creek to see what we can find! Fall is our family’s favorite season, so it makes sense for us to have that time to spend doing more leisurely kinds of things, and enjoying¬†the outdoors (during a time when it’s honestly just more enjoyable!).

Of course, I keep trying to talk myself out of it simply because we’ve never done it this way. It just makes sense fur us, though.

And, really, if it doesn’t work…so what? We change it back, right!?

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I’ve been reading “A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael” for months and months. It keeps getting put aside for other things (moving, adoption, homeschool planning, etc), however I keep picking it back up and pressing on through it. I am so moved by this woman and so much about her, and then there are moments where I just grin all the way across my face at her brilliance in the practical things ~ including the education of the children in her care. I’ve been struck by many of the principles of education she referred to in small things and particularly grateful for one bigger thing…

Her insight, wisdom, and care are clear in that:

*In referring to keeping lessons short, she says…

“the human soul should not be drawn out

like a piece of elastic and held so for too long at a stretch”


*On the habits of chores/work, she insists the internal

take precedence¬†over¬†the external…

“The great reward was to be trusted with harder, more responsible work.”


*Scripture and hymn memorization were a priority.


*The Indian children in her care grew food and flowers

and sold them at the market and learned much about generosity.


*Elisabeth Elliot writes of her,

“No toy, no picture book reached the hands of her children without prior scrutiny.”


*The children sang, played and listened to music.


While she was a tremendous spiritual pilgrim and warrior, she was also very perceptive regarding children and education.

I love this woman. She’s become a dear friend and mentor to me!

As a matter of fact, I was reading on Sunday and I beckoned {aka ‘hollered at”} my husband to swim down to the end of the pool where I was so I could read something to him that Amy had said years and years ago.

{Yes, I am annoying when I am involved in a book that grips me like this one does :)}

I had to share with him what she had said about “roots”. She had put into words so simply something I have tried to communicate to others for quite some time!

{You see, there are many reasons we homeschool our boys. They are our reasons, and while some people seem to share them, we do not expect anyone to adopt any of them as their own. All families are different :)}

She wrote this, “In other words, till the life of the child has had time to root, it should not be exposed to various winds (confused or conflicting examples and ideals, different ways of making t’s). After it has rooted, let the winds blow as they will. Then they will only cause the roots to take a firmer grip.”

Anyone who knows much at all about growing plants, vegetables, or farming, can get a great visual of the principle she is explaining.

This is one of¬†the aspirations we have for our children as we educate at home. Of course, we provide variety for our children, and of course, things come about that are confusing and/or conflicting. However, we are right there, caring tenderly and consistently to our “young’us”¬†in this early stage of growth, doing our best to help them get “rooted”.

I’m thankful to Amy for countless things. Her life and struggles and victories have taught me more than I can put into words.

Also, I am grateful for her practical wisdom in teaching, training, and educating her children.

I think she, like me,¬†prayed for and eagerly awaited the day when her little ones became “like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

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Once in a while, I find myself needing a bit of motivation and inspiration. When I need a bit of encouragement, a good reminder, or just a bit of cheerleading,¬† I often refer to some of my favorites on my shelf like…

This past week, however, I stumbled on a nice bit of audio, and I was able to multi-task: fold laundry, get dinner ready, and still get a nice dose of encouragement! On the Childlight USA website, I listened to a Charlotte Mason Educational Conference Lecture, “Education is a Discipline” presented by Mary Hubbard. Mrs. Hubbard discussed the formation of habits, had us think of our own areas that we struggle with the most, and reminded us of how habits are “to life what rails are to transport cars”. She goes on to remind us of the Holy Spirit’s role in forming habits, misguided sympathy from mothers, and much, much more.

Although I have read about many times and have tried to put into practice the concepts and truths involved in Education as a Discipline, I always walk away chewing on a couple of things:

1. The Way of the Will is a free e-book from Simply Charlotte Mason. You simply cannot separate the concepts of the will and the formation of habits! It helps us understand our children and ourselves. This little book leaves me not just chewing on a couple of things but also looking in a mirror (and that is always an excellent learning opportunity for me)!2. After listening to the lecture, I was also chewing on the definition the speaker shared from the Noel Webster 1828 Dictionary:

DISCIPLINE, n. [L., to learn.]

1. Education; instruction; cultivation and improvement, comprehending instruction in arts, sciences, correct sentiments, morals and manners, and due subordination to authority.

The word discipline seems to have such a negative connotation these days. Perhaps it has been misused or too often only associated with punishment. When truly it is a healthy, rich thing. Certainly, punishment or chastening are part of discipline, however, it’s essence is in cultivation and admonishment. Even when you look at the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance at the original Hebrew of the word discipline, you will find chastisement, yes, but also instruction, correction, reproof, teaching, and the like. When I chose to think of it that way, it becomes much more a joy rather than a daunting idea.

If looked at properly, I can see discipline as the process through which I cultivate and guide my children in the same way God cultivates and guides me. It certainly involves punishment and reproof, but it is also wrought with moment after moment of instruction and teaching and careful, loving admonishment. What a privilege….really!!!

There are lots more audio options within the

Charlotte Mason Educational Conference Lectures

in case anyone else was in need of a little

motivation or encouragement in a multi-tasking kind of way!

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Thankfully, I pulled an old volume of Miss Mason’s from my bookshelf just in time¬†for her to impart much needed snippets of wisdom into my days…

People who live in the country know the value of fresh air very well,

and their children live out of doors,

with intervals within for sleeping and eating.

~Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Vol 1, p.42

We have enjoyed an especially Spring-like winter here in the South. It was quite a joy for us to avoid the usual lull of being cooped up indoors during cold temps.¬†I realize that all of the seasons have something special to offer and that many people enjoy the cozy-ness of winter. However, in our house, it only takes a couple of rainy days or a week or two of winter weather to leave us¬†feeling quite¬†cooped up!¬†I love it when things allow for ‘living out of doors’ again…

Charlotte goes on to say…

In the first place, do not send them;

if it is any way possible, take them…

Despite the delightful, sunny days, I had found myself in a rut.

A pattern had developed of the¬†children heading outside after our lessons were over to play for hours…most days until supper time (or until a passionate, brotherly disagreement disrupted things!). I found myself inside working on this or that. I would do some laundry or dust or look over bills or other paperwork. Our doors and windows were wide open so I could keep a close eye on the boys while I toiled away. They are 9 and 10 now, and they are not at a loss to find things to do together whether I am out or not. Still, I quickly found myself struggling between longing to be out with them and needing to tend to things indoors. While certain things do require my attention and are necessary to be done, I had forgotten about how necessary the habit of being out of doors was to my well-being and to my relationship with my boys.

Leave it to Charlotte to gently remind me…

In recent days, you can find me out with them for half hour increments or so pushing them¬†on the tire swing…slipping away for an hour to walk down to the creek and hide in the woods…simply sitting at the picnic table with a book or notebook…or maybe just digging leaves out of flower beds…some of my most beloved things with two of my favorite people!

With the help of Miss Mason’s timely reminders, I’m back to not just ‘sending’ my sweet boys out, but ‘taking’ them out. It’s important. It has always been a priority…when they were babies, toddlers, preschoolers, as well as now…and really, it always will be for us.

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