Thursday, November 23, 2017

Violet's Development (15 Months)

Personality: Oh, sweet Violet. I'm so thankful for her :) She is very sweet. She literally says hi to everyone we walk by. I love it. She also gives big smiles to people, especially if she knows them! She gives hugs and kisses, and when she hugs, she lays her head on your shoulder and pats your back. She also has a bit of a fierce side though, as she has to keep up with three older sisters, and particularly one three year old who loves to be in charge of her one younger sister ;). She loves to look through books... probably because she sees us do it so often :) She enjoys walking along with anything that she can push, like a stroller or a chair. She does really well when other people watch her, like in the nursery at church or with grandparents. She just loves, loves, LOVES animals, just like her big sister Sophie! We got a kitten recently, and she loves to pick it up (poor kitty!), but apparently the kitty likes her too because I have found it in her crib quite a few times!

Developments: She's getting so big! In the last three months, she started taking steps, and in her 14th month, she dropped crawling and now only walks! She was very determined to learn to walk, and she fell all the time but didn't care :) She goes up and down stairs really well. I think when you're the fourth child, you learn things like this quickly because Mom can't keep up and has become much more laid back.  She is picking up more words and becoming better at expressing what she wants (which also sometimes happens by screaming or crying). She gives hugs and kisses now... aw, I love when babies learn this, and her hugs are so sweet! She finally likes baths! She sometimes brings me diapers now when she has gone poop, haha! She also loves throwing away trash... even things that aren't trash. She's a good eater, though she can be picky at times.

Favorite Foods: Berries, bananas, pancakes, oatmeal, veggie straws, eggs, green beans, and any and all desserts

Words: mom, dad, kitty, boo, uh-oh (12 month words) + blanky, Daisy (what she thinks all dogs are named), drink, book, yuck, thank you, please, chicken (although, it's possible she's calling them kitty haha!). I also think she knows all her sisters' names.

Likes: animals (she loves them all, but especially kitties and little doggies!), food, blanky, baby dolls, books, family, going outside, music, dancing, hugs

Dislikes: Waiting for food, dirty diapers, being strapped in her carseat, having something taken away from her

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Homeschool Plan: First Grade Charlotte Mason (2017-2018)

Two months ago, I had it all figured out what I was going to do for Sophie. Then I binge listened to a podcast called A Delectable Education (whose tagline is “spreading the feast of the Charlotte Mason Education”). This podcast clarified the Charlotte Mason method for me, and I have spent the last month and a half listening and researching, and concluding that I would put together my own curriculum based on all that I have learned about the method. I have used several online resources, particularly A Delectable Education and Ambleside Online, to put together my book list. 

Here are the subjects we will cover this year:
Natural History
Physical Education
Music Appreciation
Art Appreciation

That probably looks like a lot of subjects, but we don’t do them all every day, and some are just once a week. They also are all short, with poetry being just five minutes a day, and the longest subjects being twenty minutes. The idea is that you expose your child to a wide range of interests, and they will experience a feast that prepares them for all avenues of life. 

Here is the Breakdown of our days:
Our schools days will be, at longest, two and a half hours. This means that by lunchtime, we will complete all of the above listed subjects planned for that day. We will begin every day with Bible and poetry, and from there our days will each look different depending what subjects we are covering. My plan is to start at 9 and finish by 11:30. Each subject has a time limit, and Sophie will know these ahead of time. It is much easier to bare a subject you don’t love when you know it won’t last forever. It is also easier to get through all of your subjects when you have set times rather than just set pages. Sophie will also have “afternoon occupations,” a.k.a. things we do in the afternoon even though we don’t have official classes. She will have piano lessons (and therefore piano practice). We will do a nature walk each week, and hopefully spend a lot of time outdoors every day. She will spend more time on her handicrafts in the afternoon as well.

The Schedule:
We use these $5 scheduling cards to schedule out our days: Scheduling Cards. Because they are someone else's hard work, I can't show you a layout of my exact schedule, but we have 11-12 subjects a day, with Bible and poetry always being first and handicrafts/work always being last.

The Layout and Logistics: 
We will break our year into terms, as Charlotte Mason’s schools did. We will have three terms in a year, each being 12 weeks long. Charlotte Mason used “forms” rather than “grades” to place her students. Sophie will be in first grade this year, which is considered Form 1b. She will be in Form 1 for two more years (though, second and third grade are considered Form 1A). The advantage is that I will be able to combine some of my daughters as I educate them, in certain subjects.

The Books:
love knowing what books people are using and recommend. Here is the breakdown, subject by subject, of what our year will look like (with the knowledge that not everything will go exactly according to plan, and the belief that the Holy Spirit will guide whenever something needs to be changed around). As a side note, some of the books I use are out of print. Sadly, some of the greatest books are no longer in print! We own a few but use the library to get quite a few of these out-of-print books. If you don't have a way to get these books, and you are curious about replacement books, I am familiar with books and would be glad to help you!

Bible: (15 Minutes) For Bible, we will read straight from the actual text. A lot of people who do Charlotte Mason recommend reading from the King James Version. At first I thought this was silly because it’s not as easy to understand and because I don’t personally believe it is any more “authorized” than other English versions (they all are translations). However, upon further research, I have realized that many people recommend it because it helps with readings in Old English in later years, and so for that reason, I have decided we will at least begin reading from this version. 

This year, we will read from Genesis and Matthew, alternating days. 

The other two books I have pictured are only for my use. They are commentaries that will help me as I study in order to teach the lessons. The books are The Book of Genesis by J. Paterson Smyth (this is a book Charlotte Mason actually used) and Matthew For Everyone by N.T. Wright.

The lessons will look as follow: We will read an episode, meaning approximately 10 verses. I will read them slowly, and then I will ask Sophie to “narrate,” or tell back what we read about. This doesn’t have to be word-for-word. What she says needs to be accurate, but there’s not a right or wrong answer. The purpose is simply to solidify the reading in their mind.  After the narration, I may add a few thoughts and ideas from the commentary, such as historical or geographical information. With some lessons, I will show a piece of famous art that covers the reading.

Poetry: (5 Minutes) Poetry is very simple. We simply open up a book of poetry and read J I will use different poetry books, but the main two I plan to use this year are A.A. Milne’s Complete Poems and Favorite Poems Old and New.

Copywork: For copywork, Sophie will copy something I have written, word-for-word. Sometimes, this will be done on a chalkboard, and sometimes it will be in a notebook. Charlotte Mason did not include spelling and grammar lessons until later years. Instead, she counted on good literature and copywork to train students to see proper spelling and proper grammar. These are short, 10 minute lessons.

Spanish: In Charlotte Mason schools, students began learning French in Form 1b (equivalent to our first grade).

I was really nervous about this subject at first, but I am excited about it now. We will use Cherrydale as our core curriculum. This is a book that teaches Spanish through acting. So, I say, “I open the door” in Spanish while I am actually doing it. 

We will also listen to children’s stories, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes in Spanish and learn new nouns each week.

Physical Education: We will do a variation of activities, but the main purpose of this time, for us, is to provide physical activity without competition. Charlotte Mason schools covered “Swedish drill” as part of their physical activity time. At first, this seemed like something very foreign and old-fashioned to me, and I didn’t plan to use it in our time. Then, I studied into it more, and I began to see how it fit so perfectly with the rest of the Charlotte Mason feast. It’s a bit complicated to explain in this overview blog, but I chose to include it because it provides physical movement while teaching the habit of attention and the habit of following orders. If you’re interested in reading more, here is an excellent blog post: Swedish Drill Blog

We will also use this time to just have free play on some days, and I hope to also include jump rope activities and other fun games, like Duck Duck Goose, during this time.

Art Appreciation: We will study one artist each term. This term, we will study Leonardo da Vinci. We plan to study his following works: Ginevra de’ Benci, The Virgin of the Rocks, Lady with an Ermine, The Last Supper, Mona Lisa, Self Portrait, and Cat Movements and Positions. We will learn a little about da Vinci himself. Most of our time will be devoted to his artwork though. We will look at a picture, then turn it over and see what we remember. Then we will turn it back over and look again to see what we missed. Then, some days, we will try to draw what we remember.

Music Appreciation: For music appreciation, we choose one composer to study for the term. We will study Bach this first term, and plan to study his following works: Bradenburg Concerto 3, Chaconne, Magnificat in D, Church Cantata, and Art of Fugue Contrapunctus 9. We will have one day each week where we listen to one of Bach’s works, familiarizing ourselves with his works, listening for instruments, and noticing all we can about the world of music. 

Math: This is a subject I struggled with last year. We used Math U See, and I liked it but didn’t love it. It simply didn’t seem to fit with what else I knew about Charlotte Mason. However, nothing else I found seemed any better. Then, this summer, I discovered Richele Baburina’s Mathematics book and DVD. This is not a curriculum. Rather, it walks a parent or teacher through the way Mason’s schools taught math. Richele will be coming out with a curriculum soon, but it is not yet available. However, this first year is so simple, that I can easily do it on my own.

Mason’s methods were beautiful, and I am fascinated by this approach. Much of what Sophie will do this year will be with manipulatives, and she will do mental math. She will do very little “paper” math. Mason’s approach focused on mastery and completely understanding a concept. One of the best manipulatives for learning that this method recommends is money. We will begin using money early on to understand addition, and we will use it throughout as we learn more numbers and add in more concepts (subtraction, multiplication, division). I highly recommend Richele Baburina’s book + DVD bundle. 

Natural History: Natural history is what most people would call science. We have this class three days a week. We will have one book that we read throughout the term on the first day, a second book that we read throughout the term on the second day, and on the third day we will read several books on our “special study” topic for the term.

This term we are doing the following:
Book 1 – The Burgess Bird Book by Thornton Burgess
Book 2 – Plants and Trees by Arabella Buckley
Special Study Topics: Wildflowers and Birds
Possible Books to read on these topics: A Bunch of Wildflowers for the Children by Ida Prentice Whitcomb, A First Look at Flowers by Millicent Selsam, A First Look at Birds by Millicent Selsam, Birds and their Nests by Olive Earle, Birds and their Beaks by Olive Earle, Robins in the Garden by Olive Earle.
(I struggle to narrow down books because I love them so much, so we will certainly not have time for all of these books during our school time in the morning and may make some into free reads later in the day.)

Here is an excellent book list: Science Book List
Here is information on Form 1 Science: Form 1 Science Article
Here is information on Special Studies: Special Studies Article

Singing: We have singing on our schedule four days out of the five! We will sing hymns, folksongs, nursery rhymes, singing games, and two Spanish songs.

Here are songs I have planned for this first term: Nothing But the Blood by Robert Lowry, Lavendar’s Blue Dilly Dilly, Sing a Song of Sixpence, Hickory Dickory Dock, The Farmer in the Dell, Baa Baa Black Sheep, London Bridge, Estrellita

History: I am very excited about history! We will study early American history, up until Jamestown settlement. We will read the tales of the explorers.

We will be using one book as our spine for the year and a few other books as supplements. Our spine is Alice Dalgliesh’s America Begins. I love this book! It is out of print, however. Our library carries it, thankfully, but if you do not have such a resource, I recommend America First by Lawton B. Evans.

Our supplements will be D’Aulaire’s Leif the Lucky, Payne's Meet the North American Indians, and D’Aulaire’s Columbus.

What I love most is that these are all real living books! No textbooks! I learned so much of my history through textbooks, and I remember so little. These lessons will be simple. I will read from one of the books, and then in the last few minutes, Sophie will narrate.

Geography: Charlotte Mason believed in starting where the child was and moving out from there. Geography was no different. So for geography, we will learn about local geography. We will read Little Farmer of the Midwest by Madeline Brandeis, which is a story about a boy from the Midwest, where we live. We will also spend time during this class learning about the sun which will in turn help us to learn about direction which will in turn help us learn about distance which will in turn allow us to learn about maps J We will learn about compasses and do basic maps of our classroom and possibly our farm.  

(Books pictured: Little Farmer of the Midwest by Madeline Brandeis, Elementary Geography  by Charlotte Mason, North, South, East, and West by Franklyn Branley, The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn Branley, What Makes a Shadow by Clyde Bulla, Energy from the Sun by Berger, What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn Branley, Sun Up, Sun Down by Gail Gibbons, and Follow the Sunset by Schneider. //
Note: I probably have too many books. I love books and struggle to not do them all, but a Mason method stresses that less is more… so we will probably read some of these during our free readings later in the day)

Here is an excellent article on physical geography with young ones: Geography Article

Recitation: When I first discovered Charlotte Mason, I mistook recitation as memory work. It’s actually not the same as memory work, however. The purpose of recitation was to learn a piece of work beautifully. Students were allowed to have a copy of the work they were learning, and they were to read it and study it until they could read it with beauty, passion, and care. Memorization was not a requirement, though it was often a reward of the time carefully spent on one particular piece.
We will follow the Charlotte Mason schools and recite the following each term: 2 poems, 2 hymns (to be spoken and not sung), and 3 Scripture passages of about 6 verse (one Psalm, one Old Testament, one parable)

This term we will specifically do the following:
-       2 poems from A.A. Milne
-       When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts
-       Thus Far the Lord Has Led Me on by Isaac Watts
-       Matthew 18:10-14 (Parable of the Lost Sheep)
-       Psalm 139:13-16
-       Genesis 1:26-31

Literature: This year we will study tales and fables J The three main books we will use are: The Aesop for ChildrenJust So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, and The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (the long, beautiful, original, un-watered-down version of fairy tales J). We will read many more literature books this year, but most of these will be bedtime stories. We are currently reading Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, and I also hope to read Heidi by Johanna Spyri, St George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Have I mentioned that I was an English major, and I just wish I could sit and read books with my kids all day?! ;) 

Reading: Sophie is already reading, but she lacks confidence. We will practice, practice, practice this year to build her confidence. We will use wooden letters to word-build, as a fun activity, and she will read from Free and Treadwell books, which are beautiful reading books that include classic fairy tales and poetry. She will keep a “words I know” notebook, where she will get to write down words she learns and keep track of them. She picked out a dog notebook and is very excited about it J

Drawing: I haven’t completely wrapped my head around what we will do for this subject, but I had some ideas. I have the book Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes, and we will follow some of her lessons. We also will do some drybrush painting (watercolor with very little water). I’d like to have Sophie illustrate a few of her lessons and also to do some nature drawings of things we discover in nature.

Handicrafts/Work: This is kind of like a home economics class. We will focus on learning three different things during this time: crafts (such as handsewing and the loom), work (such as cooking and cleaning), and paper folding (like origami).

Of course, this was seen as an important class in order to teach the children how to do things, like sewing and cooking. But it was also important because it allowed students to care for others, which was one of the central focuses within Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education. Sophie would like to make something for an orphan (an idea she got from Understood Betsy, a wonderful book we recently finished), so we are going to make a doll this first term (My Studio Girl’s My Best Friend) that Sophie can put in an Operation Christmas Child package.

Phew, that was a long post! I know people appreciate specifics, though, so I wanted to include as many details as possible :) We are excited for this school year and are so thankful for the Lord's guidance of every step of the way.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Journey to Homeschooling (and Charlotte Mason)

            As we gear up to start another year of homeschooling, I wanted to document my journey to homeschooling, and particularly, to the Charlotte Mason method.

            My husband was homeschooled and a number of my friends were as well, so I have been familiar with homeschooling for many years. However, my first real introduction to homeschool curriculums was four years ago when Sophie was just two. At that point, my husband I planned to go into missions, and since most missionaries have to homeschool, they offered an all-day class where we could see and learn about homeschooling and different curriculums and methods. I loved the idea of educating my kids, so I remember that day with fond memories. It was exciting to look through different curriculums! I was drawn to the Sonlight curriculum, as I loved that it was literature based.  Prior to that class, I was mostly familiar with Abeka and Bob Jones curriculums, which are very traditional and teach subjects in much the same way that a public school does. I knew I wanted something different than that for my kids, and Sonlight seemed to be a step in that direction with it’s strong literature foundation.

            When the doors were closed on missions, and our family settled into “normal” American life, I thought I would probably send my kids to public school. We lived in a good school district where some of my own friends were the teachers. Two summers ago, I toured the popular pre-school in town, and I signed Sophie up. That same summer, the Lord was working in my heart. He used something as silly as Instagram to reach my heart. I found several Instagram accounts of mothers who homeschooled, and I was fascinated by their methods. There’s this whole Wild and Free movement going on in the homeschool world right now, and these were the Instagram accounts I was finding. One of the names I kept seeing was Charlotte Mason, and I began researching to find out who she was and to understand her method. The majority of my friends did Classical Conversations, so I also looked into that.

            The Lord would have it that at that exact time, the same summer in which he was working on my heart through Instagram accounts of homeschooling Mamas, our family randomly sat beside another family at a fourth of July parade. This other family had three daughters, just as we did at that point. We started talking, and we quickly learned that we had a lot in common, and this other mom was planning to homeschool as well, and she too was looking into Classical Conversations and Charlotte Mason. From that point on, we researched together and bounced ideas off one another.  We read books and blogs and met with people in our town whom did both methods. And we both came to the same conclusion. Charlotte Mason was our homeschooling method. We both have four daughters now J

            I called up the pre-school and canceled Sophie’s registration, and from there we began our life as homeschoolers. Charlotte Mason originally won my heart because it is a method that uses living books rather than textbooks. Whereas textbooks are just snipits of facts and ideas scattered throughout, living books are cohesive works written by one author who is passionate about their subject. I have spent two years since originally learning about her studying her methods, and while I still have much to learn, I believe I am beginning to wrap my head around her methods.

            Charlotte Mason was an educator in the late 1800s in England. She believed the child was born a person; they are not blank slates with the potential to become persons; they already are a person. She believed in short lessons. We all have short attention spans, and so it is important that we do not do one thing for too long, or we will not give our best. The longest lesson that Sophie will have this year is twenty minutes. Her total school day will not last longer than two and half hours. As already stated, Mason believed in living books. Students should be taught from living books of the highest literary quality.

            There is so much more to Charlotte Mason, and I am fascinated with every new thing I learned. Her methods are completely cohesive and beautiful. They require a lot of a child, and yet, at the same time, they work with a child at the level he or she is at. My favorite part about the Charlotte Mason method is that it’s not just a curriculum. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of life that sees God as the creator and that desires for children to be taught, above all, to be good citizens. A student’s education is not just for himself. It is for the good of all mankind.

            Later this week, I will do a post on our specific plans for this school year. If you are interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason, here are my favorite resources:

1.     Charlotte Mason’s 6 volume series (these are books she actually wrote on her philosophy of education).
2.     A Delectable Education podcast. This podcast is gold!
3.     For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
4.     When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper

5.     Consider This by Karen Glass

Violet's Development (1 Year!)

Violet is one. I cannot even believe it! I literally can’t wrap my head around this little girl being one. The year flew! We have loved getting to know this little girl.

Personality: She is becoming so fun! She loves our kitten. She loves playing peek-a-boo and singing If You’re Happy and You Know It (and clapping her hands). She clicks her tongue often, and she loves to mimic people. If I click my tongue, she copies. If I make a kissy noise, she makes a kissy noise. If I say “mmm,” she says “mmm.”  If I stick my tongue out, she sticks hers out. She calls every animal a kitty J She loves being pushed around in our Cozy Coupe car. Brielle plays games where she will hide and then run up to her and make noises, and Violet giggles so hard J  Brielle can’t stand to hear Violet cry, and so she always runs up to try to make her happy right away when she starts crying. She can be very needy, though, and loves to be held by Mommy... I think almost every one of my girls has been like this.

Development: She is a fast crawler. She loves to pull up on things to stand, but she has only stood on her own for a quick second. No walking yet J She has eight teeth.

Words: Mama,  Dadda, kitty, boo, uh oh

Loves: Mommy, kitty, blanky, food, Camelbak water bottle, being pushed in the Cozy Coupe, clapping, peek-a-boo, water (splash pads, lakes)

Dislikes: Not being held, diaper changes, sisters dragging her around and holding her down :p  

Schedule: Being the fourth child, she really just has to go with the flow, but her rough schedule is:

7am- Wake up
9am- Nap (for anywhere between 1-2 hours)
2pm- Nap (for anywhere between 1-2 hours)
8pm- Bedtime

She nurses 3-4 times still. This is more than my other girls nursed at this age, as most of them weaned right around a year. Violet doesn't take a pacifier so that has been difficult as pacifiers are such wonderful soothers! I've enjoyed nursing though, and I know this phase will be over before I know it, so I'm enjoying it while it's here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lyla's Development (3 Years Old)

Oh, Lyla. She is our spitfire. She is full of life and loves to push the rules and limits. However, she does have a healthy fear of things like busy roads and deep water, thankfully. She is stubborn and sure of what she wants in life, and she doesn't appreciate when others get in her way (i.e. She screams when others get in her way). She is silly and loves to make others laugh. She makes lots of sound effects and noises, and she is loud (you can often find her making car noises and fart noises). She loves to dance and sing along with others. She has always done well when we drop her off with others... I'm thankful for how well she adapts! She plays really well on her own! She loves baby dolls and is the sweetest little mommy to watch when she plays with them. I always find it interesting to see this side of her personality next to her silly, crazier side.

Funny Things:
Admittedly, I'm just not as good anymore at writing down all the funny things now that I have four kids. But in general, Lyla tends to do funny things more than say funny things. She loves to make people laugh, so she will continue anything that can crack a laugh. This means we see her do lots of funny dance moves and she loves to make fart noises and spank her own bottom. There has to be one in every crowd, right? However, here are a few funny things she has said:

"I don't like shower. Shower get in my eyes. I like bath."
I was cleaning a crumb off her chin, and she said, "You cleaning my beard?"

Likes: her blankie, jumping on the trampoline, playing in lakes, fart noises, anything silly, baby dolls, balance bikes, her sisters
Dislikes: not getting her way, having something taken from her, broccoli

Lyla Interview:
What's your favorite food? Apple and Bread
What's your favorite thing to play with? Brielle
What's your favorite movie or show? Mickey Mouse and Paw Patrol
What's your favorite song? Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
What's your favorite book? Curious George
What's your favorite color? Purple and Red and Pink ... and that's all I like?
What's your favorite Bible story? Jesus
What do you like to do with Sophie? Play
What do you like to do with Brielle? Just play
What do you like to do with Violet? Just play house
What do you want to do when you get older? Be two. I three right now.
What's your favorite animal? Cow and goat and zebra too
Who are your best friends? Mommy and Sophie and Brielle and Grandma
What makes you happy? My swing
What makes you sad?  Crying. When I go waaa
What are you really good at? Nothing

Lyla ended our interview by asking: That enough? (Me: yes) Lyla: Kay, don't talk me again. (She's such a goober)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Violet's Development (10 Months)

Last month, Violet turned 10 months. She has been learning so many things lately!

9 Months: Grew her third tooth (bottom right), is an excellent eater and traveller, loves being outdoors and doesn't mind the grass, babbles a lot and has started waving "hi."

10 Months: Grew her fourth tooth (top middle), learned to clap, learned to army crawl and then crawl on all fours, says "dada" and "mama" now. She also loves to click her tongue!

Likes: being outside, nursing, mommy, blanket, food, people singing and clapping, being tickled (for about 15 seconds)

Dislikes: baths in the bathtub, seeing mommy but not being held, sisters holding her down

Personality: Violet is a fourth child, so she knows how to go with the flow. Her schedule gets interrupted a lot, and she does fairly well with it. She is a happy baby, but she's also a serious and contemplative baby. She loves mommy best and prefers being held. Since learning how to crawl, she enjoys exploring, but she still loves being close to mommy best.

Schedule: She often sleeps through the night now, but it's not unusual for her to wake up around 4am to nurse. I think if she took a pacifier, I could get her to go back to sleep with that, but she refuses to take one. She takes two naps, one where she lays down around 10am and sleeps around two hours, and the other where she lays down around 2 or 3pm and sleeps for an hour or two. During the day, her naps total 3-4 hours typically.