There are days I am completely at rest with my plans and style of homeschooling. AND there are days I am ....well.... a normal mom who panics and worries and stresses that I can't possibly do it all.
And those are the days I'm most grateful for Sarah Mackenzie's book, Teaching From Rest. Sarah really talks sense when she points out to us moms that we are not meant to do it all! All we can really do is give it our best and TRUST IN GOD to do the rest. If Jesus can feed the thousand with a little fish and bread, then I guess I can do right by my children by giving all that I can and trusting that God will do the rest.
So this summer, I am trying to move into a 'school year round' mode while also staying mindful of my new 'Teaching From Rest' mindset...and trying to catch up on those things that haven't gotten accomplished since moving to our newest home (almost two years ago)...you know, like the garage, basement, and yes, my 'office area' - of which I am proud to say I am typing in right now..... yes, there are still piles off to my right which need sorted, but the desk is clear and functioning! WOOT!!!
But while I spent time modifying our morning time routine and school schedule to be shorter for summer days, I haven't exactly kept up with it but for a few days here and there - meshed in with cleaning, organizing, errands and all those other things that interrupt our school day. BUT. I am at rest. (Well, mostly....there's a little agitation that surfaces from time to time, I admit.) Here's my updated schedules, if you are interested. I'm using Looping a lot now... it's definitely putting more rest in our school plan!
I'm really enjoying our Memory Work time, as does my son. And for Literature right now, our selection is the first of The Boxcar Children. I know there's a whole series of that one now, but doubt I'll read any more than the first. There's so much good literature out there. I've heard the rest are not as good - so if he's really interested, I'll just let him use them for his own reading pleasure, rather than using them as our read alouds.
We are starting to use the Orthodox Study Bible to do the assigned daily readings and using his bible reader more as a reader for him for reading practice when we aren't using his nature readers (which by the way, has a great chapter on...... worms!)
For nature study right now, we are doing worms! We have the farm which we observe on an almost daily basis and several books checked out of the library on earthworms. Who would have guessed learning about worms could actually be interesting? Just yesterday we learned that inchworms are not actually worms at all. Who would have thought those tiny little green 'worms' turn into moths?
History for this summer and upcoming school year will be a mixture of Ancient History and American History and geography will be based on that. Although I did purchase this to help us along:
I doubt we'll get far this summer, but who knows? My main goal is to introduce the concept that school or education does happen year round, on a daily basis- whether we sit for a whole hour or two of lessons or not. And to ENJOY learning- of course!!! And, to achieve what Sarah Mackenzie set out to help us all do with her book - RESTFUL TEACHING!
What are you doing this summer in your homeschool?
Why Did I Choose It? I saw the advertisements for the book last year and,honestly, the concept of rest pulled me in! Rest? What IS that? I had a feeling it wasn't about sleeping until noon or handing out lessons from my bedside, but I found the title appealing and had to find out for myself what it was all about!
A Bit From The Back Cover: Those who have made the decision to homeschool their children have done so out of great love for their children and a desire to provide them an excellent education in the context of a warm, enriching home. Yet so many parents (mainly mothers) who have taken up this challenge find the enterprise often full of stress, worry, and anxiety. In this practical, faith-based, and inspirational book, Sarah Mackenzie addresses these questions directly, appealing to her own study of restful learning (schole) and her struggle to bring restful learning to her children.
Review: This book is amazing! Seriously- I think this book has helped me in my homeschooling process more than any other book I've read. In the Book, Teaching From Rest, Sarah gives real practical advice on how to simplify our days and our 'curriculum' toa point that allows us to accept our limitations, trust in God to make the miracles happen, and teach from a true state of rest(note: Rest is NOT a state of ease ). Sarah covers a variety of ways to achieve our end goal including prayer, morning time, lightening the load (and how to do that), understanding the limitations of published resources, simplifying the schedule and much much more! This is a book I firmly intend on reading each and every year through the rest of my homeschool years. It will have a permanent place by my bedside for those moments I'll need a few moments of review and 'pep talk' from Sarah!
I hope to write more posts soon on Teaching From Rest. In the meantime, I just finished planning for an upcoming book study I am conducting on Facebook. It starts THIS FRIDAY!!! (May 20, 2016)Don't panic- if you don't have the book, buy it now... Friday we are only going over the introduction, so if you're not in the group yet, join and catch up when you get the book! The rest begins Monday. The schedule for reading is on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1112029392194451/
One of the biggest things of the CM method I wanted to implement this year was nature walks and nature study. And if I grade myself according to the quantity of time we actually spent doing any of those things... I failed miserably. At least, the way I would grade it.
My son LOVES nature.
So I must be doing something right.
We have read a lot of nature books. In the winter, when I was a sissy- yes, despite the very mild winter we had- we stayed indoors a lot. We watched the birds and we read books. He does love the nature books. Though he did NOT seem to appreciate the Burgess book on birds....everyone on Ambleside raves about it. But my boy? He was bored out of his mind. I finally put it down for awhile. I got the Burgess chapter books instead. Much less valuable information is inside these little gems, but he loves them. And we still read his nature magazines and other books. And since the kid recognized , all on his own the other day, a red breasted grosbeak... the first I've ever seen and have never pointed one out to him in a book (in other words, he looks at the bird book himself quite often), I'd say we are doing okay. 🙂
I'm still using Ambleside as a guide for next year...but I am going to use a lot of my learning I absorbed from Teaching From Rest to tame things down and simplify quite a bit. There's no need for me to be stressing. This kid is a sponge. He's soaking up knowledge everywhere we go.
I'm continuing things through the summer but at a much much slower pace and with time to enjoy life and , well, especially nature! At least, that's the plan! 😉
I know I haven’t written much lately. Part of my time has been spent reading more about various aspects of Charlotte Mason homeschooling, Teaching from Rest – a VALUABLE book by Sarah Mackenzie – if you homeschool and you haven’t read this book you absolutely MUST!, observing my youngest child and, of course, being overwhelmed by the other
aspects of life: changes brought about by the holiday season and the season of winter upon us, maintaining a home with all the boring details that go with it (you know – cleaning, laundry, cooking, cleaning, laundry, cooking, over and over again!), and with all of this, basically reevaluating where I am on our homeschool journey.
As most of you know, I have two kids that I am now homeschooling (my third is a junior in college!); I have a 5 year old and a seventeen year old. The seventeen year old is in his junior year of high school. The 5 year old is my extrovert….quite the challenge to this introverted mother and while I don’t have to label him as anything at this point according to our Pennsylvania homeschool laws, I’m calling him a kindergartener.
For this post, let’s start with the highschooler. While I thought I had a great year planned- sort of laid back but still getting the academics necessary in and also allowing him to explore his interests- having coffee with a friend made me realize I could have done so much better. UGH. Face Palm. But….. relax….take a deep breath, Carol…. We’re all learning, here, right? That’s really what life is about I think…..loving others, and keep on learning - keep improving- finding ways to be at peace and closer to God….
So….. the friend I had coffee with is a unschooler…and it took me being enthralled with Charlotte Mason and really listening to this unschooling friend and her outlook on education that made me really see how bent out of shape I get on ‘meeting those academic requirements’. Yes, absolutely, the requirements must be met. BUT… I must get out of my public school mindset on HOW those requirements must be met and that the bottom line is I need to educate my son in the way that best suits HIM.
SO…… what to do now? Well, I have all sorts of ideas on what to do next year….but how to tweak this year so that I don’t drive him crazy asking him daily if he’s caught up and we can relax about the other activities that have cropped up since I planned the year (like his trip to Florida over the holiday break and the guest we will have in March and scouting activities, and time away from school to get to the weight room at the high school to work out with the football team, etc. ).
Well, first let’s look at what he’s doing this year:
English 11 - that’s not much of a problem as I really made this to be more relaxed this year already.
The only requirements I gave him this year was to read at least 15-20 quality books with a figure of about 3200 pages total(one book was allowed to be twaddle as I knew there was a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book coming out and my son has always LOVED that series and , let’s face it, reading should be fun and why not read a book JUST for fun?) and to give oral narrations as well as a bi-weekly written narration of each book. In addition to the reading, he was to complete 2 research papers via a online research class.
Anatomy & Physiology - this is taken with a local homeschool co-op.
This was the class we knew would be challenging, not so much as the material is hard but as it’s set up to be a college prep course, we knew it would be a LOT of material, fast paced, and would require a lot of time.
Consumer Math & Finance - This fulfills his third math requirement as he has already fulfilled the algebra and geometry requirements.
I set this class up quite similar to my daughter’s class from years ago. He is completing various chapters I assigned in a consumer math book (I chose the Abeka curriculum) as well as Dave Ramsey’s high school curriculum on finance. To me, the most important part of this class is what he learns from the Dave Ramsey program. This, in addition to him participating in our family monthly budget meetings, will give him a sound understanding of money (making it, saving it, spending it) that he will truly need throughout his life, regardless of anything else he does as a career or family man.
Economics – Economics fullfils a requirement under social sciences. (1/2 credit course)
I attempted to make this course as interesting as possible and refused to use the typical textbook but used a popular book in the homeschool world – Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard J. Maybury as well as various parts of A Bluestocking Guide: Economics and The Money Mystery.
Home Economics - I had to make up this course on my own.
While there are numerous homeschool home-ec courses out there, there isn’t a single one that I could find that really tailored to a boy. There was soooooo much emphasis placed on girly things. I know (don’t get me wrong) that men do cook, sew, and take care of babies. And yes, that’s all part of his home ec course too. But I don’t feel that the home ec courses that I saw emphasized the male role in the household. What about home maintenance? What about general repair? What about the automotive aspect? Most curriculums offer these things as separate courses but I know, having been the second half of a household now for 23 years now, it all comes together. So I tailored the course to include these things as well as cooking, sewing and the general topics that are usually included in home-ec courses. But, rather than sewing and cooking taking up the bulk of the course, they are not emphasized as being the end all and be all of home-ec.
Introduction to Christianity - To know and teach our faith to others, one must be aware of what others believe. (1/2 credit course)
I knew right away that I was including Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick’s book, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy. To me, being an Orthodox Christian and creating this course for my homeschooler just automatically led to the use of this book. I just wasn’t sure what to use in addition to that. But in my research of college courses offering an introductory course, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bishop Ware’s book – The Orthodox Way- was used in a few that I came upon. Thus this book became the second book to be used.
Study Skills - A must course for anyone that is considering college in their future. (1/2 credit course)
I kept this course the same as I did for my daughter several years ago, using the same books and very similar requirements for both. (If you’re wondering about the books, we use “College Study: the Essential Ingredients by Sally Lipsky and How to Study in College by Walter Pauk”)
So that’s the gist of what he’s been doing this year. Being that I’m using narration for a lot of the courses, not just English, and that I’ve strayed from the common textbook, I’m already on the right track for using better education strategies. But coffee with my friend made me realize, I wasn’t using my son to truly gear my decisions on his education. I wasn’t really focused on his interests, his GOALS, his input. Of course, when I ask him, he doesn’t know what to say. After all, I’ve been the one taking the lead for all of these years. Yes, I ask for input- but not a lot of it – sad to say.
So in listening to my friend talk about unschooling and what she has accomplished and how she has done so (and the struggles), my gears started working….and I have already formulated ideas (just ideas- need to sit and actually PLAN with my son) for next year. So what about now? How can I lessen our stress load NOW?
Well- it shouldn’t be terribly hard. The set up of English with narrations is easy. Obviously I need to ditch the idea that there needs to be a set number of books. What I need to focus on his discussing the quality books he reads, whether it be 5 or 15 or 50. I’m relying heavily on gems of information I’m gleaning from the Read Aloud Revival – another great source offered by Sarah Mackenzie- on how to gear these discussions. He’s completed one research paper and has also given a speech (a surprise in the Anatomy & Physiology course) and will be giving another presentation in the spring so I am dumping the second research paper and will do the online course next year. Anatomy & Physiolgy isn’t controlled by me but I do need to step up my participation and make sure I’m helping him study. I could kick myself in that I allowed him to choose whether to start with that course or the Christianity course at the beginning of the year and realize now, that shouldn’t have been an option since he was taking a college prep course and NEEDED to know how to study. Aw, well…. he isn’t doing poorly- but it has been a bigger challenge than expected and I think his father and I guiding him on how to apply the study skills he’s starting to learn to the class he’s taking is a necessary step. Next is Consumer Math & Finance- this isn’t going too badly but I’m wondering what I can do to eliminate some of the textbook stuff in the consumer math book. I’m thinking more participation in our budget meetings and some general computation at the grocery store, etc. I’m really thinking there can be more overlap for some of his home ec course that we haven’t gotten to yet that can be applied to both courses. I’m still thinking on this one. As for home ec itself, my only problem has been the logging of the hours. I’ll need to check with my friend (who will also be the evaluator since I’m filed under the homeschool law this year rather than home tutoring that I usually select). His economics course is almost completed. I think just reading the last book and giving a few narrations will suffice. And the same thing to complete the second book for the Christianity class- just read and give oral narrations- forget the written narrations- they are not truly necessary- unless perhaps one at the end to show a general summary for his portfolio? And there’s the Study Skill Course. I’ll need to reread the requirements I gave him. I still want to use both books- though I may shorten the second one and pick what I feel to be the best chapters and tweak some of the requirements. The goal there is he has lots of tools to use to succeed. Obviously what’s most important is he read the material, understand it and be able to use what works best for him- NOT whether he does personal action statements or fills out tables and charts….so….
I’m looking forward to him getting back from Chicago with his dad (yeah, another event to divert away from the academic curriculum- though an absolute positive experience) so we can sit down and look things over together- yes, even dad because he’s the principal afterall J . I’ll have to post more later, but if you have any ideas- please fill free to share!
As for the kindergartner? Well, that’s to be continued on another post, another day!
And REALLY, if you haven't read this book yet- order it TODAY! And check out Sarah's website too! AmongsLovelyThings.com
I've been reading several homeschooling books as of late and they have me doing much reflecting on my past and current methods of homeschooling.
In short, the three books are these:
All of the above books really are must have's in my personal opinion. ESPECIALLY if you are looking at wanting to educate your child in a relaxed setting with high standards. If you need to learn about teaching from rest, look no further than Sarah's book. Her insight on what true rest is, is uplifting and spot on. And if you are looking to understand the methodology of Charlotte Mason and the why's behind this methodology, thus far (I admit, I haven't finished this one just yet) Susan Schaeffer Macaulay does well in explaining that our education that we give our children really CAN be a joyous celebration of life and prepare them for life in a fashion that will far exceed what most are able to procure from the public school setting.
While I have finished the first two mentioned above, I am torn between wanting to tear through "For The Children's Sake" as I thirst for more (I'm in the third chapter of 6) to going back and rereading what I have covered thus far and just let it simmer. There is much to glean and reflect upon.
I have a feeling I will do both. I am eager to see what else she has to say... and then, I believe I'll go back and use Charlotte's own methodology and just read ten to 15 minutes... reflect, perhaps do a written narration and just let it soak a few days before moving on.
In the meantime, I'll share with you what I have highlighted so far (well, some of it... I have gotten a bit carried away with the highlighter in this one!).
"Parents need to evaluate their priorities. They need to consider why they respond, "We wouldn't have tie to read a book together every day. We don't have time to hike/camp/paint/talk with our children." What is really important?"
"Look well at the child on your knee. In whatever condition you find him, look with reverence."
"Charlotte Mason rejects the utilitarian view of education and the conventional standards of her day. She challenges us instead to identify the child's actual needs and capacities; to serve him as he is, on the basis of what is right and good for him as a person."
"By being allowed to learn at their own speed, the children taught by Charlotte Mason were happy with their mastery of skills. They did not 'fail' or 'pass'. They learned how to read and write accurately. A high standard was expected, but at a level appropriate to the child's ability. It was like climbing one's own private ladder. It was not to be like a race."
There's much more I could share but I will leave it as this for now. there is much more highlighted words I'd like to write about but have no time to write a novel today! Okay, maybe it won't be a novel, but I'm sure I have many more posts waiting to be written in the back of my mind....but I must reflect a bit more before writing them. So for now... read over what I have written above. Mull it over and then share with more your reactions. What are your own thoughts about Susan's words above? In the meantime... I have more reading to do!