Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's a Small World After All - Studying Foreign Language and Cultures in Our Home Education

This is the final post in my series on How I Organize Our Homeschool.
(Woot! Woot!  We made it!)
If you want to read the rest of the posts, you can find them here.

When I first started home education, we had pulled our oldest son out of the local public school.  The focus of the early grades (K and 1st) was "Me and My Neighborhood."  I decided right off the bat to shift from a "Me-centered" approach to a World-Centered approach.  The driving principle that underpins why we study languages and cultures different from our own is that we are part of a greater picture.  We are citizens of the world. 
God so loved THE WORLD.

In our country, and in this generation, even though it is easier to reach the world at the touch of a keyboard, it seems we are often very prone to ethnocentrism.  I am very glad and proud to be an American, but I never want my children to grow up learning only about America or thinking the history of America dominates the history of mankind.  I want my children to have as much of a God's-eye view of this world as possible and to see themselves as members of the world and ambassadors of Jesus into this world - light into darkness.  I also want them to be able to celebrate and share His love for all people and nations by understanding cultures everywhere.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nature Study - Get Out of the House, Sweet Mama!

It is so easy to just hibernate and implode as Home Educating Families.  I know some families who leave the home only to go to COSTCO or a doctor appointment and others who barely ever see their home because of outside involvements like field trips, outside classes and co-ops, sports practices and games, music lessons and the like.  Though all of those things make for a wonderful educational experience for our children, they don't quite "count" in terms of really spending quality time outdoors enjoying and learning about God's creation.  (Sorry, Sweet Homeschool Mom, pointing at the Robin as you speed to tennis lessons is good and all, but not what we mean when we say, "Nature Study.")

Like most things, if we don't purpose in our hearts and lives to get outdoors, we may not do it.  We have to plan it into our week and our year.  When I initially read Charlotte Mason's first volume which discusses the education of the younger child (age 5-9) I felt as though I ought to purchase a Yurt, live outdoors and only enter our home to use the facilities! 

Being outdoors is just so good for children.  In some ways it is their natural habitat if you will.  Miss Mason said,
Let them once get in touch with Nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.  We were all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things ~ Vol 1, p. 61

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How I Organize Our Homeschool - Artist Study and Art

Artist Study ...

Oh, don't get me started.
We LOVE our artist study.  It was Sonja Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason who demonstrated this in such a lovely way and I've been doing it her way ever since.  Rather than going into all the details, I'll share this video of her instruction.  We study one artist for six weeks - I select six of that artist's works (usually from Ambleside Online) and then download those to a disk.  I take them to a local print shop, hae them printed in color on card stock (sounds pricey, but at the chain in our town I get a copy for each of the boys on 5 x 7 and one for our wall - all this for way under $5.00).  So, in one year we will study six artists total - six weeks of "living with" each one. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Poetry, wherefore art thou?: The Rhyme and Reasons for Including Poetry in your Home Education

True story:   
The other day my five year old was walking through the home while my twelve year old and I were occupied with other things and he said, “I wish someone would just read me some poetry or Aesop’s Fables or something.”  

Hearing that, you are either thinking, “Wow!  I want my kids to say things like that!” or, “Run for the hills, it’s one of those crazy home educating families!  If you are in the first group, read on.  Even those of you who think this is complete weirdness are welcome to stick around and read …

If you are just joining, I’m in the middle of a series on How I Organize Our Homeschool.  You can find the rest of the posts here.    

So, about those poetry loving five year olds … 

Monday, September 8, 2014

How I Organize Our Homeschool - Including Music (Part 4)

Earlier this summer I started a series on how I organize our homeschool.  If you are just catching up, you can find the original posts here: Part 1 (Getting Everyone On the Same Page) , Part 2 (The How and Why of Curriculum) and Part 3: (Language Arts, Science and Math).

So, here it is September, and yep, I'm just finishing this series.  But, considering I will be participating in the 31 days of blogging in October and I have a week coming up September 19th-26th where I'll be celebrating my "Blogiversary" (One Year Blogging here at Hearts Homeward!  Woo Hoo!) ... I better finish this up.

I'll be posting five posts in the next two weeks to share what some people might consider the fluff, the frills or even unnecessary elements of our home education.  In our day the public schools and many private schools are cutting back on "extracurriculars" such as music and art and focusing on "important" subjects such as math and language arts.  I won't go into the unethical reasons for many of these decisions or the push towards having children look at education as merely a means to an end (to get out and get a job).  Those discussions are important, but not my focus in this post.

What I want to emphasize is the concept of a liberal feast.  What we are doing as home educators is laying out a feast for our children of subjects and experiences that will fill them with opportunities to engage in relationship with knowledge in all sorts of areas of life.  In every field of study we are giving them an opportunity to view God and know Him better through every avenue of knowledge.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


If all is still
There is a whisper
Soft and gentle and powerful like the wind

His voice is still
He calls it small
But there is no small thing in His voice

When I am still there is still a rumbling
Movement beneath the attempts to let go
We reverberate with leftovers from our busyness

Yet, in moments, there is something else
I touch the peace and I can hear
The whisper

He breathes a gentle love song
He assures my soul I am treasured and held
He gives me words to share with others

It is from this anchored place
Inspired by His whisper
That I can move out in extended love to others

And return to seek Him
More of me seeking more of Him
Going out once more and returning like a tide of love

Whispering echoes of His still small voice into thirsty souls

Linking up with Five Minute Friday - unedited, uncriticized, 
just writing on one word for five minutes ...

Photo credit: WikiCommons

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Where is God in Your Trial?

Our family endured a life-quake this past month.  Like every notable quake, there have been aftershocks in the very ground upon which we stand.  Why these things surprise us, I don't know.  We comfort seekers think we have this deal wired - like if we arrange things just so, we will avoid pain and difficulty.

But He told us life wasn't going to be pain free ...
"In this world you will have trouble."  He said it.  He said, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace."  He wants us to be prepared that trials will come.  And more importantly that He will not leave us nor forsake us in the midst of those trials.