Friday, February 12, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 2): A Homeschool Mom Should "Listen" to Her Children...

Last week, I took part in 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary as a way to reflect upon the kids and our homeschooling efforts. Today, I am participating as an exercise in reaching out for ideas and admitting my own shortcomings as a homeschool mom. The kids make their stages and needs to obvious. I must learn to pre-empt frustrating moments with better listneing to and following of my children.

Faith Formation. It is goal number one in training up my kids. My mind is buzzing with ideas for Lent. I need to take a mini-retreat to get them all down. I also need to keep reminding myself: K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, silly. The kids are so young and I am so stretched by home, work, kids and all right now. No need to bring every idea to fruition. A few quality ones will work better for us all. Any tried-and-true ones you know of? Do tell!

Reading. As I wrote about in my Classical posts a while back, I am convinced that focusing on reading, writing and mathematical literacy is the current path I should be taking right now. So, how am I doing with Reading? Pretty well. The kids enjoy several read aloud sessions with Daddy or I each day. And, they certainly have access to books to peruse on their own. Regular library visits. Mini-libraries throughout our home. Books, books, books. In quantity and quality. How we love and learn from them. Now, I just have to discipline myself into providing Luke a daily one-on-one time to capitalize on his newfound interest in and ability for learning to read by himself. It sounds easy, but I haven’t gotten the rhythm yet...

Writing. Okay. So do the crayon marks on the wall, the kids’ wooden kitchen set and the kids’ wooden dollhouse tell me something? Yep! Two things: (1) The kids are begging (in their own ill-chosen way) for more pre-writing and writing activities and (2) I need to adjust my use of time to build better habits and discipline, as well as more writing activities into our days.

Nature. God’s gift for calming, enjoyment, exploring... Even in winter, it beckons, and sometimes we listen. Every time, when we do, we are all the better for it. From snow angels to animal tracks, spray “painting” to sledding, clearing the car to clearing our minds, feeding the birds to feeding our souls, nature has offered much to us this week. And, when we have gratefully received, the kids and I have stretched our minds and our bodies in such positive ways. Charlotte Mason was onto something with all that outdoor time. The waldkindergartens (outdoor kindergartens) in Europe are, too. I know my kids would benefit from following such philosophies more. Get the gear. Make the time. Just do it, Mom! Parents that are already doing so regularly, any tips for this newbie????

Practical Life. “Mommy, we were cracking eggs.” My proud Luke greeted me at the office door five minutes after I hid behind it to print some things for work the other night. And, what greeted me in the kitchen? Two proud children and lots of local eggs cracked all over the kitchen table, just an ooze away from the clean laundry that I had yet to put away. I am not proud to say, I did not simply laugh at this, noting that the kids did a good job separating the shells and that we were meant to be having a baked omelet for dinner anyway. Instead, I huffed and raged and ended up crying – anything but a good model Mommy. Luckily, the kids are no worse for the wear. They “helped” me clean up. Most of the “wasted” eggs were saved for the planned baked omelet. And, I now know that I have been ignoring our Power Lab a bit too much this past week.

Rhythm. “A told B and B told C...” Ooo, the kids have sure got the rhythm of that beat with the wonderful book and CD set we have out from the library right now. But, what about to their days? I let our morning routine go before it was set and now have to start again with forming the habit in us all. And, I am finding far too many cards from our daily routine ignored of late as I try fail to balance demands and desires each day. Montessori. Charlotte Mason. Creative Curriculum. Common sense. Nature. You name it, it gently reminds (begs for, screams for) regular rhythms. Why am I so off beat of late?

Arithmetic! So, two of our tape measures have been destroyed by curious kid hands this week. Guess it is time for me to take the hint and either get some Montessori-inspired measurement work going or start a Reggio-inspired measurement project. But, how? And, when? I feel stretched enough right now. Simple is best, I know. So, I am open to simple and quick ideas for this! My tired brain is simply not synapsing in the area...  Tried and true homeschooling parents, help!

Thanks for any adive, tips, comments or encouragements you might write udner comments below.  I appreciate them whole-heartedly!


Wendy said...

I don't know how many kids you have, or how old they are. I home school my 6 kids, ages 12 down to 2. I am guessing you have a lot of really young kids.

First off, looking at your blog, you are doing a beautiful job!

Try for a regular rhythm, but recognize that it's a big accomplishment. Try to be as gentle with yourself as you try to be with your kids. Every mistake is learning/teaching experience.

Keep Lent very simple. Choose one thing to do and leave it at that so you (and they) don't get overwhelmed or disappointed.

One Lent when all mine were small, we put up (where it was hard for a kid to reach) a piece of poster board with a crucifix in the middle. Any time a kid did a little sacrifice, we taped a chocolate kiss next to the cross. We were giving Jesus a kiss.

On Easter, we surprised the kids by giving them all the kisses plus some (God is never outdone in generosity).

The whole crucifixion can be so scary for little ones, it helped them see that Jesus did this because He loves us.

We also did this with dried black beans in a jar, then turned them into jelly beans for Easter.

I have more Lent ideas on my Zoom Times blog.

My 2 year old is all about cracking eggs for Mommy!

Hen Jen said...

#3...yes, they are telling you they are ready to explore and embrace writing adventures (writing in flour is fun, writing in wet paint is fun..) also your warning to throw out any markers or paint that is not labeled "washable"- this was a rule I embrace early, and I never regretted it. The sharpie I had on hand was on a high, high shelf!

#4 yay! you are doing a great job! I can't give you any advice, because I live in So. Ca, so I am weather-unqualified!

enjoyed your post, you seem to have a lot of fun together!

Melinda said...

I so enjoyed this post. I can completely understand your feelings of being stretched and my heart goes out to you on the egg incident. I don't know of any mom who would have responded to that with complete patience and humor. I don't think that perfect mom exists except in our desire to be her. Does that make sense?

Two resources I love to use are:

Hang in there, the rhythm will come. You are right to keep it simple too. Lessons will make themselves more complex as time goes on. Enjoy the simple times now.

Martianne said...

Hen Jen ~ Thank you for your vote on confidence and, lucky you, to live in Southern Cal! And, indeed, I know all about the Sharpies! My husband cosntantly rbings them home from work and I constantly try to put them in obscure places, reminding him he needs to as well. ;) We have done paint, playdough, beans and some other things for writing. Flour will have tot be next. and, more consistency, too!
Melinda~ Thank you for the resources! I already know and love Montessori for Everyone, but will need to check out And, indeed, no perfect mom exists except in our desire to be so. Thanks for the reminder. :)
And, Wendy~ Thank you so much for your ideas and your blog link. I will be checking it out. Your full and helpful comment is much appreciated.
All~ Have a blessed St Valentine's Day!


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