Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Living God for a Living Education

I feel that I struggle to clarify my spiritual ideas and thoughts on paper or in word. The author of this book that I am reading - A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola - sings to the same tune as me and I find myself nodding emphatically and getting out my orange highlighter frequently. This chapter at the beginning of her book is just so in line with my heart, and it is so encouraging to read. CM had a real love for her Saviour - in her books she calls him names like: our King, the Chief amongst ten thousand, and the altogether lovely. What an intimate relationship she had with Jesus Christ and it comes through time and time again.
Here is a quote that I must copy from CM herself - remember written a whole 130 years ago or so:
"To bring the human race, family by family, child by child, out of the savage and inhuman desolation where He is not, into the light and warmth and comfort of the presence of God, is no doubt, the chief thing we have to do in the world. And this individual work with each child, being the most momentous work in the world, is put into the hands of the wisest, most loving, disciplined and divinely instructed of human beings. Be ye perfect as your Father is perfect, is the perfection of parenthood, perhaps to be attained in its fullness only through parenthood. There are a few mistaken parents, ignorant parents, a few indifferent parents, even one in a thousand, callous parents; but the good that is done upon the earth is done, under God, by parents, whether directly or indirectly...the highest duty imposed upon him, it is also the most delicate; and he will have infinite humility, gentleness, love, and sound judgment, if he would present his child to God and the thought of God to the soul of his child"

Now I know that lots of you reading this won't agree with everything said here - but hey - I guess that is why this is my blog and not yours ;). Let me highlight a few things that jump out at me. My chief job to do in this world is to bring my children in to the presence of God - present my child to God and the thought of God to the soul of my children. I spoke in my last blog about thinking. It's Deuteronomy 6 when just after the 10 commandments are given - God says to the people to 'write the laws on their hearts - impress them on their children, talk about them when you walk, lie down, get up'. I am not talking about some legalistic religion here - I am talking about talking about Him - thinking about Him - for me to be breathing Him in and then breathing Him out on my children. This is my highest duty, and also my most delicate - let's face it, I'm not a delicate person, but yet this job of parenting and of introducing the 'thought of God' to my children, is to be handled delicately - purposefully and wisely. What a calling. But by the Grace of God I go...

What a Child Should Have...

Charlotte Mason said that each day a child should have:
  • something or someone to love
  • something to do
  • something to think about

If I can achieve these three things for all five of my children than I am doing something right. I like breaking it down to three things, like a checklist. We all like checklists don't we? This parenting gig is challenging but oh so rewarding.

Something to love - Everybody needs something to love, whether it be a dog, a guinnea pig, parents, siblings. "There are opportunities for love in every home. There are also many ways to provide services (labors of love) to others if you look for them."

Something to do - By this she meant of course - something worthwhile to do! Have we lost our creativity? Are we so busy figuring out what show is on next, or website to hook our kids into that we have forgotten how many other things there are to do? Things of great value. Now, these are never easy are they? When our child says they are bored - as children will quite often - it becomes our responsibility to either (a) entertain them or (b) put the tv on. Wait a second what happened to option (c) teach them to entertain themselves? We are raising a generation of children that expect to be entertained - carted from one activity to another, amused with one game, playmate or another. Option (c) is the hardest option - at first - but then come the rewards. Teach them to sew, and you have a child making her own outfits for her dolls within a month or two; take them out on Nature Studies and then watch them take the initiative on their own to take their sketchbook out and draw a picture of that beautiful leaf they found on the lawn. I did find by the end of the summer, the kids were getting more squirrely - bickering, bored, what have you, and I have had friends ask me how I homeschool because this is their only experience with their children at home. But as soon as we started back to school - focused attention (giving them lots of things to think about) - the "something to do" has gone back to smooth and easy again. Too much idleness makes for ...something...not good...what was that saying my mother used to say?

I suppose that really finding something to do, depends on the last point being followed...

Something to Think About - Here is another quote from Karen Andreola that I just must copy "Children who are not given something to think about grow up at best with two ideas: to work hard and to amuse themselves when they are working...amusement is not an adequate substitute for something to think about...When children are guided to seek after something to think about during their home life, they will continue this habit throughout their lives." Okay- that's what I want for my babies - yup. No questions asked. Think about it (no pun intended) - how many of us were 'really' encouraged to think - and of course given great things from which to stem our thoughts when we were young? Living books? I am responsible for giving my children the best that this world has to offer - not money wise of course - but content wise. I want my children to find "joy and refreshment" in what they read - digging in to the text and pulling out what they can in their own words (narration!).

There - did I give you something to think about?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Scheduling Part 2

Well, here I am over one month later, and I am sure some are wondering (as am I some days) how successful my scheduling has been. Well, the fact that I have not blogged once during the last month is likely a good example of how it has gone - not perfect! This is where I begin to tweek some more. There are days, when everything goes as planned and there is much accomplished in a given day. I would say that the schedule is much more effective for the children than for me. I will try to explain why, and I am sure many of you moms will certainly understand. The children have been great at staying on schedule - up until about 2:30 in the afternoon, anyway. My son especially (who is 7) loves to watch the clock, set the timer and carry on whether mommy is present or not - which is tremendous! His sister, who is almost 10, seems strangely more dependent on me to give reminders and a little nudge here and there. Is this a gender thing? Or is it a birth order thing? Or a characteristic of themselves? Not really sure but it is interesting to note. I am doing short lessons (remember!) so the morning can go by at a farely good clip hopping quickly from subject to subject. That is working very well - they are generally working diligently during their 15-30 minute time period and I very rarely see them doddle. I really love that! Nothing erks me more than a doddling student...not that it is all about is really about helping them to develop good work habits! :)
Now, about me - how are my work habits you might be asking? Well, generally I usually have a really good start to it. I am consistently starting my day at 6 am or soon thereafter, do my stuff, get them going with breakfast, start in with some extra chores or baking, and then by 9 am the schedule is no longer followed. Whether that is due to my work habits or just my life with five ALIVE children under 10, I will leave that for you to decide. I feel very much that I am needing to change my portion of the schedule greatly. I mean, I have things like - on Mondays: ironing or mending at 10 AM!! Come on - I think I have done that once - there is very rarely a day that I am not changing a baby's bum or helping a child through their language arts lesson - or - what really I don't know!!??? The mornings just fly by! I am not sure what I was thinking scheduling my life like that - I just want to avoid having things like that (ironing - it sits in our room till it has to get washed again from the dust!) to do in the evening or leaving them till I can't even think about it anymore! So - though it does need some serious revisions I would say generally it is helping us to maintain a more productive and routine life. There are so many days though where the whole thing halts - a phone call, a shift to work, a field trip - and I am learning to accept those days too. I think maybe that is what makes it so hard to get back in to it after days like that. If only I could have a month with no interruptions - THEN we would be right on track by the end of that - habits would be instilled!!
Oh - speaking of habits - the last thing I will mention this post! I woke about 3 weeks ago with a great idea that has worked really well for our family. Although I am a die hard Charlotte Mason gal - and her being very, I would say "not" for Behavioral Modification, I still have a lot of that kind of training under my belt and I can't help but use it with my kids - SO combining those two seeds of thought, I decided that we would begin (drum roll please...) the 5 DAY CHALLENGE!! I made a chart with 5 days at the top and 3 bedrooms in the columns at the sides. Then I said to the kids - "Okay - at 8 am every morning for 5 days straight we are going to inspect one another's bedrooms - including mommy and daddy's and if everything is cleaned off the floor - and I mean every little thing that does not belong then they PASS and they get a check mark! If at the end of the five days we ALL have check marks then we will get ice cream!" (which at our house is really special). The reason why ALL of us have to have straight Passes was to make it more cooperative and less competitive - this was a family Challenge!! So at 8 am, for five days straight we did just that - now the first day was the hardest, but by the end of the week we had done it! Now for some of you this probably doesn't seem like a big deal (I know - some of you have houses where there is very little on the floor for longer than 30 minutes)but to me, with all these little toys and little girls that play all day every day- it has been HUGE - I now can walk down my hallway and see tidy bedrooms - every day (they already were making their beds by then for their morning routines - so that is a bonus). So - once we had that first taste of ice cream - we did the 10 DAY CHALLENGE - with success!! And now we are on to our 15 day challenge. After this I plan to reintroduce the 5 Day challenge again but this time - the floors AND the dressers have to be clean and tidy!! My 9 year old said to me the other day - "it is so nice to walk in to my room in the dark and not have to worry about stepping on something" - yep, I agree!! One little step at a time - pain free and delighted!
God bless - and hey - have a great Thanksgiving - I am SO thankful!