Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!
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Taking the Charlotte Mason approach

 



“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” 

Charlotte Mason



Ever thought of that before?  What exactly is the end goal of education?  Where do you want your child to be in the end, and are the methods you are using achieving that?



Its important to stop on a regular basis and reconsider our approach to homeschooling.   Are we allowing our children to grow to their full capacity, or are we holding them back with our methods? 



Through the years, there have been some very influential people who have taken the time to reconsider the very foundations of education and to offer helpful tips that can guide us along the way. 



One of those women is Charlotte Mason. 





Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived during the mid 1800's and devoted her life to improving the quality of education for children.  



She was an only child, born in Bangor, and educated at home by her parents.  When she was only 16 she lost her mother, and her father died the following year.  



Left alone, she enrolled in the Home and Colonial Society where she trained to become a teacher and actually earned the First Class Certificate.  For more than 10 years she taught school and it was during this season that she began to develop her vision for a "liberal education for all."  Her definition of "liberal" was a generous and broad education that was available for every single child, not only  those of the upper class.  



“...my object is to show that the chief function of the child--his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life--is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses...” 

   Charlotte Mason



Over the years, Charlotte Mason developed an entire education approach.  Her method was based on a three part model of education.  She believed Education was an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.  



Charlotte defined “Atmosphere,” as the surroundings in which the child grows up. According to her one-third of the child's education was drawn from his learning environment.  



She defined “Discipline,” as the practice of good habits.  Charlotte said another third of a child's education was comprised of the useful habits that they formed at an early age.  



Lastly, Charlotte defined "life" in terms of academics.  Charlotte believed it was important to provide children with living thoughts and ideas rather than isolated facts. 



You may have heard of the term "living books."  In contrast to dry, boring textbooks, living books are books that are full of living color and details, that engage the reader, and draw him into the story. 



The heart of the Charlotte Mason approach is making learning a part of every day life and encouraging children to discover things for themselves in a way that is fun and meaningful!  



Our curriculum, History Revealed, is similarly designed to make learning purposeful, engaging, and enjoyable!



Due to these shared goals, it is quite possible to combine the Charlotte Mason approach to education with our History Revealed curriculum.  We asked our friend Catherine Levison to create an explanation for us of how the two could work together.  She kindly created a weekly schedule to demonstrate how two can intertwine.  



According to Catherine Levison: " Both the Charlotte Mason method and Diana’s approach incorporate chronological order, original eye witness accounts, art, field trips, plays and costume making, student illustrations, time lines, map work and the always important “spring-boarding” to literary books. Both approaches use hands-on learning, avoid boredom and bring history alive. Charlotte Mason parents will immediately recognize compatibility in many elements with which they are already familiar. The schedule (to view the pdf, 4-Phase schedule, CLICK HERE) shows how directly the Charlotte Mason, short lesson approach is incorporated in the History Revealed structure. CM moms ought to love History Revealed!!"



 



To read more about how the Charlotte Mason approach can be integrated with History Revealed click here 


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Books Galore

 

In thinking about some of my favorite books, I'd have to say I'm eclectic. . .at least.  We've sorted our book shelves into world history (which I finally had to break down and arrange chronologically—took me two weeks!), American history (including sections on Native American history and African-American history), Bible study aids, Christian philosophy/living, classic fiction, and a special easy-to-read-when-I-don't-have-a-brain-cell-left.  We have several series of books that Bill reads outloud to me while I'm cooking (enriches our relationship and improves our food!), some children's books (favorites we couldn't bear to part with after our kids grew up), and a whole host of how-to books on gardening, handcrafts, and home improvement. (And no, unfortunately that is not a picture of my bookshelf...I arrnaged mine for funtionalitly not beautysmiley)

 

I thought it would be fun to share a bit of our lives as revealed in the books we love. 

I LOVE YWAM Publishing's Christian Heroes: Then & Now books by Janet & Geoff Benge.  One title 

which particularly intrigued me was about Sundar Singh, because there is so little available on this fascinating man from India. Converted at age 16, he took the traditional approach of a traveling holyman and infused it with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Absolutely riveting!

 

Every time I read Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, I am challenged, inspired, and encouraged to trust God in greater measure than ever before.  And, He has never failed. . . Stretched me, yes, but failed me, no!

 

I mentioned several months ago reading the book "Shaftesbury: The poor man's Earl" by John Pollock.  It was such an incredible read that I wanted to set it into my list of favorites.  Social justice is as integral a part of our devotion to God as is studying the Bible—in fact, if we apply what we read, we will find ourselvesworking to serve those who stand in the greatest need.  So as we consider how to fulfill the command of Jesus to "love our neighbor as ourselves," we will find an incredible model in the life of this British aristocrat.  

 

 

 

When it comes to world history, one of the most enjoyable reads I have found is Winston Churchill's "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples" in four volumes.  Churchill had a way with words, both in his writing and speaking, that makes him bothmemorable and interesting. I admit, there were times when I got slightly lost in his hasty descriptions of British parliamentary politics, however, the fault is more likely in me than him!

 

 

Though I squirm from time to time at descriptions, I must admit that Rodney Stark, a sociologist of religion, is one of my favorite authors.  His book, "The Rise of Christianity" is an eye-opening look at the impact of Christianity upon Western culture.  Stark was a professor for years at the U of Washington, and is now at Baylor U.  I'd love to be a student in his classroom!!

 

 So there are just a few of my favorite books...for a start! 

 

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The Daily Load


I often use the common phrase "what's on my plate," to describe the variety of tasks, chores, responsibilites and deadlines facing me. Just considering the load sometimes makes me feel defeated before I even start: "How can it all get done? How will I ever find the strength and will-power to keep going when the mountain of work looms higher than my energy level?? What about all those things that I would really LOVE to do, but can't take the time or don't have the money to do???"



Down, down, down the slippery slope to discouragement, self-pity and defeat. . . It's so easy to go there. It seems like such a reasonable way to view my "reality."



But then I open my Bible. In a slope-changing, breath-taking, bonds-breaking sentence, Psalm 68: 19 states, "Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits. . ."



He daily loads us with benefits. If I can focus for just a minute on what that is saying, on the truth it is revealing, my perspective—along with my attitude, energy, joy-level, and approach to "what's on my plate"—will dramatically change.



I've been pondering this for days. Asking the Lord to open my eyes to see some of the benefits He's loading on my plate.



Oswald Chambers wrote, "The things that make God dear to us are not as much His great big blessings as the tiny things; because they show His amazing intimacy with us; He knows every detail of our individual lives."



So, in considering both the great and small blessings and benefits of my life, I have begun a list.



I have been married for more than thirty-two years to a man who is my best friend, who has shared this journey of faith, who loves me, laughs at my jokes, and eats what I cook with great enthusiasm. (I laugh at his jokes, too. They are usually much funnier than mine!)



I have had the precious joy of knowing my three children from their childhood to adulthood, and it has expanded my understanding of love, laughter, pain, togetherness, family, sacrifice, learning, friendship—beyond what I would have ever dreamed possible. I have in-laws and grandchildren who enlarge my love and family and hope and kindness and change and growth.



I have good health. I have a roof over my head. I have food to eat and clothes to wear. I live in a country where going to church does not put my life in jeopardy, where voting for government leaders is my responsibility and privilege. I have work that is meaningful and ongoing.



I have eyes to see and ears to hear and fingers to type and feet to stand and legs to walk and arms to hug.




I live on a planet where the sun warms, the rains cool, the grass grows, and the birds fly. . .Where flowers burst into gorgeous shapes and colors, and hummingbirds visit them within my range of vision. . .Where waves roll and fish jump and snow falls and spring comes. . .Where the beauty of sunrises and sunsets and storm clouds take my breath away.



I belong to Jesus because, in His great love, He reached into the prison of my darkness and set me free.



The list goes on and on and on, encompassing every aspect of life. And as I begin to consider it, thankfulness and joy and amazement and awe well up in my heart.



From macro to micro, day-in and day-out, His innumerable blessings are loaded on to us every day. I want to keep my eyes focused on this load as I continue to deal with what's on my plate.



I invite you to join me in the journey.



 



 



 


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On becoming quotable

After reading and appreciating Winston Churchill's histories for years, I recently happened upon some online sites which list quote after quote of his most famous sayings. For instance, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/winston_churchill.html




It got me thinking about the qualities that make for an eminently quotable personnage.



First, to be a truly quotable person, one must be well read. Now I realize that there are some exceptions to this, but, in general, we become masters at language (and, thus, worthy of being quoted) by reading other masters of language.



In case there might be some question, reading Cliff Notes, graphic books, or Reader's Digest is not the same as reading books by the masters. It means reading the best, the notable, the classics, the stretching-our-vocabularies-and-minds type of books.  (By the way, I would personally place the Bible at the forefront of the list of books worth reading. Immersing oneself in its words and thoughts—and yielding to its Truth—brings a clarity and grace to our lives and our words.)



A brief pause for Churchill: "It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations."



Second, to be a truly quotable person, one must think original thoughts. Having digested great books—considering and pondering them, arguing with and dissecting the authors' writings—will break up a fallow mind, much like a plow through spring soil.



At this point, I must stop and ask how your child's education is encouraging original thinking. Consider this startling concept: in standard curricula, whether in public school, private school or homeschool, the point seems to be to think INSIDE the box, coloring inside the lines, if you will. We all know this is excellent training for mindless, repetitive work in a fast-food shop or factory, but it certainly cramps one's ability to become quotable.



"What do you think?"



"Uh. . . About, um, what?" Shuffle, shuffle.



"About the universe, or war, or God, or any of the BIG questions of life."



"Uh. . .Well, um, I don't know. I mean, is this a test or something?"



Sigh.



Churchill said, "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." cheeky



The third thing that makes for extremely good quotability is to do something.  Do it well, whatever it is.  Shakespeare, who is one of the most often quoted writers of all time (despite the fact that few today know that those cool quotes are from him) wrote well. . .and often. Churchill kept England toe-to-toe with one of the biggest bullies in history until Hitler was finally knocked out for the count. George Müller, whose quotes are among the most encouraging in Christian literature, ran five orphanages with over 2,000 orphans in Bristol, England—funded by prayer alone.



Churchill's quotable thought: "To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day."




Fourth and last, recognize that it's quirky people—fully given to their quirkiness—that are quoted. Average is boring. Quirky is interesting.



If this last point gives you shudders, let me quickly point out that we are all, every single one of us, as quirky as they come.



It's part of the design. It's part of the humor and part of the challenge of being unique.



As parents, let's stop pushing our children into tightly controlled boxes where their quirkiness is squished to the bottom. Instead, smile at it. Enjoy it. Revel in the amazing way each one is uniquely designed.



And some day, we may find that our children have become notable. . .and quotable.



"For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself." Winston Churchill—who went on to do exactly that.



 


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The deal with growing


Many years ago, I was hospitalized with a bad case of pneumonia. Traveling around the country for 10 months can do that to you.



In response, our small church in South Dakota graciously bought me a small rubber plant to brighten the hospital room.



Normally, I'm a lover of bright-colored, audaciously gorgeous flowers, but since this wee plain plant was given in love, I took it in and gave it a home. smiley



For years, the plant did nothing. Sat there with its two or three boring leaves, just taking up space.



Then we moved to the Pacific Northwest—books, musical instruments, plants and all. For about four years, my rubber plant sat quietly, unobtrusively, tucked away in the corner by the dog food container. That's what I had come to expect from it. Though it was the least interesting of all plants I had ever seen, I love growing things, so I didn't actually mind watering it and giving it a bit of space in my home.  Honestly, however, I wasn't at all impressed.



And then something changed. Neither of us has any idea what happened inside that little rubber plant's system, but for some reason, it began to grow. . .and Grow. . .and GROW.



After three years, we noticed that the crazy thing had branches coming out the side, new leaves constantly unfolding, and was completely outgrowing its little pot. As it took up more and more of our dining room space, we kept looking at each other, wondering what on earth it was planning to do. When our kids would come home for a meal, they would frequently stand and gape, distracted by its huge increase in stature. "Uh, Mom, what's happening to this plant???"



Now, I'm not always real quick on the uptake. Real gardeners might have realized years ago that the poor thing needed more dirt, more space, more support and structure. But as we were walking through a hardware store yesterday, I was suddenly inspired with the idea of transplanting it into an old pottery outdoor pot, whose previous occupant had sadly frozen and died last winter. All we needed was some potting soil, and a water catcher underneath to protect the rug. For under $15 and about 15 minutes of my time, our rubber plant—which has now morphed into a tree!—received a new lease on life. A welcoming place to be rooted and grounded, and, as they say, a place to stretch its wings.



Now, here's the question:



Is there anyone in YOUR home that needs a little time and attention?  Maybe you've noticed one of your kids, who has always been quiet and unobtrusive, starting to bloom, talk, and be social. I encourage you to give them room and encouragement to become all that God has set within them—even if it's different from what you thought it might be.




Or, perhaps it's you that is unexpectedly growing, having new, healthier responses, finding interests in increasing areas, I applaud you! And, as one who just learned something valuable last night, I would encourage you to make space to become all that God has set within you. Give yourself permission to grow and change.



He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,



That brings forth its fruit in its season,



Whose leaf also shall not wither;



And whatever he does shall prosper.



Psalm 1:3



 


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