Monthly Archives: July 2007

Heart Of Wisdom Book Review

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A few months ago I promised a review of The Heart Of Wisdom Teaching Approach by Robin Sampson, and I am finally keeping that promise – better late than never, I suppose!  As I said before, this book is packed with information and resources, being over 500 pages in length.  I was very interested in reading it to learn how she suggests going about an in-depth study of the Bible with our little ones (or bigger ones).  This method is a combination of Charlotte Mason’s teachings, unit studies,  Delight Directed Learning, what she calls the Hebraic Model of education (though I do have some differences of opinion here) and the four step process of learning. If you love Charlotte Mason’s methods and want to study the Bible more but desire direction in how to integrate these, you would probably love this book! In fact, Robin offers a free 70 page excerpt from the book to help you determine if it is what you’re looking for.  She’s set the book up like a cookbook, to allow each family to choose the recipes and ingredients that best suit their needs and desires in education.

The book is divided up into five sections: 1. Lessons From Exodus (in which the author compares her journey into homeschooling to that of Israel leaving Egypt); 2. Rethinking Christian Education (which includes the author’s conclusions regarding Hebraic, Greek and Christian education); 3. Heart of Wisdom Methods; 4. Heart of Wisdom Directions; 5. Resources.

Although our "journey" towards homeschooling was very different from the author’s, I was very encouraged as I read through the first section of this book, and appreciated her open heart to share their struggles and story. I found this section to be an excellent reminder that we must seek to "number our days aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom" which is the best foundation for any educational method we choose to employ in our families.

Matt and I have come to some very different conclusions than the author regarding the information in the second section of the book and I will admit I found myself struggling through these chapters.  There are a couple of other resources we found on the subject which we felt handled it more accurately. However there was still quite a bit of interesting and helpful information contained within this section, and certainly even without it the book contains so much great content that I still think it would be a worthy purchase for any who seek to educate their children in these methods.

The third section in the book, regarding the methods used by Heart of Wisdom is full of information! Here we read about the four styles of learners to help us understand our individual childrens’ needs better. These styles are Innovative, Analytical, Common Sense and Dynamic. She has included many descriptions and examples to help figure out where your children fall. Robin also shares what she has termed the four steps of learning: Excite, Examine, Expand and Excel with much emphasis on NOT skipping the first step of exciting in our children a true interest in what we want to teach before we dive in. She takes us through (by explanation and example) each of the four steps and what they look like in a homeschool setting, with the ultimate goal of the student being able to teach/share what they have learned.  In this section, we also receive a good overview of Delight-Directed Studies, Unit Studies, Charlotte Mason’s Educational Philosophies, Writing To Learn, and Critical Thinking and Logic making it somewhat like several homeschool method books rolled into one.

The fourth section is the nitty-gritty of actually putting her plan into action, which starts with an overview of what it will look like. She basically divides the school time into two parts: studying God’s Word and studying God’s world. What I do love about her method is the total worldview focus upon God. I fully agree that everything we study, learn, do or seek to do should be done in the understanding of how it is part of God’s kingdom, and I so appreciate that focus throughout her planning. I also was very impressed with her description of how to spend literally half of our schooling studying God’s Word.  Honestly, this was probably the biggest thing I was looking for information on when I decided to look into this book, and she certainly provides many details and resources for how to study the Bible in-depth together with our children.  I found that as my children are much younger, it is more in the  "future planning" category for me, but I have especially enjoyed reading *how she does it* (Bible study) with her kids.  One other thing I appreciate about how she’s set up the instructions here is that it’s fairly easy to tailor to your needs – for example, she refers to studying through the entire Bible each year, while I think it would be fairly easy to use her methods and ideas while studying through the Bible every three years, which would probably be more realistic for me at this point (or the point at which I actually have time for in-depth study of anything again!).  There is also a lot of instruction in how to create your own unit studies (here and in the last section) around any theme, how to create Notebooks for learning, and much encouragement and help in scheduling by faith.

The last section is probably the one that I would find myself coming back to the most, and that is because it is a huge collection of books and resources. Robin goes through her own Heart of Wisdom Unit Studies as well as her recommended resources on the subjects of Bible, History, Science, Life Skills, Biographies and Classics (and many sub-categories) for all the grade levels and it is a long list to peruse!  While I wouldn’t call it comprehensive, especially because as individual families we will have individual needs and desires for what we study with our children, I think it would be a very helpful list even for those who don’t necessarily plan to use Robin’s methods in their school. It’s a great place to start if you’re thinking: "Hmm, I wonder what books on botany would be good for my nine year old. . . ." or something of the sort.

All in all, while I’m sure our educational journey will still be somewhat eclectic and probably more classical and trivium-based as our children get older, I was very thankful to Robin for sending me her book to review and I hope I was able to do so in a way that might be helpful to some of you. The thing that stands out to me the most about her book is her heart to seek God in and through every aspect of their schooling, to know His Word and to love it above all other learning – these, I think, are some of the best and highest goals to which we could attain (regardless of the exact "methods" we use to work toward them) and I appreciate Robin sharing her years of experience to help others in seeking to implement these goals in home education.

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Training In Free Time

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Sometimes it’s funny the things I find a need to teach my children.  I never thought I would be "training" my girls to have free play time.  Perhaps because our home runs so well on routines (which I think is a wonderful thing, and invaluable with so many little ones!), one area my children don’t do so well with automatically is "free play".  The past few weeks I’d been noticing that there was quite a bit of bickering, some children flopping about acting as if there was nothing to do, and other unpleasantries.  I want my girls to cheerfully do what task they are given at a certain time, but I realized it would also be nice if I could tell them to play for awhile without having to give them an exact task to do.  I wanted to see them learn a bit more independence and creativity, as well as harmony in their play since I know that they will probably have more "free" time as I’m resting with baby Alyssa. I also realized it would be good for me to not try to "control" every moment. So I decided we were going to try to learn these things together.  Isabelle loves to have "alone time" – when she gets her room all to herself for awhile.  I’m trying to make sure she has this time when she needs it, but I’m also seeking to teach her and the other girls to enjoy playing with (not just near) one another.

I usually have the girls doing some task (or playing in the playpen if it’s Juliette) while I am cleaning up dishes or making meals (after they’ve helped with what I feel they’re able to).  But lately I’ve made extra effort to not give specific tasks and simply tell them they may play with sisters in a particular room or two (the one where I am, or where I can easily see or hear them to correct any difficulties). The first few days I felt like a referee, but I am happy to say that the skill of having free play time is being learned, however slowly and imperfectly.  We’ve had talks about being happy (rather than "bored") with what toys and tasks God has made available to us.  We’ve had talks about how playing together with sisters is far more fun than playing alone.  We’ve had reminders to be friends to our sisters, rather than "enemies". I’ve found myself reminding one of my girls of a phrase my mom often said to me growing up: "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" – meaning that if you want a sister to play a certain game with you, or share a certain toy, you’re much more likely to have a happy result if you simply ask sweetly rather than try to force it.  I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on the couch, with my feet up, watching my little brood of ducklings play around me.  And I’ve enjoyed it, however unstructured it all is!  If nothing else, it definitely shows me areas of character that need to be addressed and prayed for. I’m thankful God continues to show me such things in myself and my children – though it may not be easy I’m glad He continues to refine us!

Tagged!

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MomToFiveKids and My4Sweetums have both recently tagged me to post 8 random facts about myself.  I suppose pretty much any fact about me could be considered random, so I’ll pretty much post the first eight things I think of.

1.  I was always a "math nerd" in school – meaning I loved math and didn’t care for many other subjects at the time. Up through college I also came to see and love those other subjects which I found to be "mathmatical" (the two I can think of offhand are formal logic and music theory – they seemed to me to be all math!) Now I’m glad to be homeschooling so I can learn all those subjects I didn’t want to learn before!

2.  Before I met Matt I felt quite strongly that God would either have me to go overseas as a long-term missionary (this was after a bunch of short term trips to Cuba, Romania, and Mexico), or stay in the states as the wife of a cop or military man – interestingly enough that was true.  He wanted me to marry my wonderful policeman!

3. I’m not in general a fan of cars, but I’d love a little pink Karmann Ghia!

4. I would be perfectly happy to have all girls, including adopting at least one more.

5.  I got the sampler plate of schooling – I’ve been homeschooled, and attended both private and public schools for about equal numbers of years.  Yet for some reason I’ve always wanted to, and assumed I’d homeschool my own kids.

6. I have no desire for pets!

7. Before I was married, I was in nursing school and worked in a neo-natal intensive care unit, which I loved!

8. Though I may not be the most coordinated person in all the world, I love to dance! Ballet and irish step dance are currently my favorites.  In fact aside from riding my bike a bit, the only exercise I’m currently getting before this baby comes is from a little "Baby Ballet" video I do with my girls when I have some energy.

Preparing For Baby Alyssa, And Some Pictures. . .

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I’ve been in the getting-ready-for-baby mode the last few days.  Trying to make sure I have all the supplies I need for the actual birth, and all the odds and ends for those first few newborn days.  I typed up a pretty detailed account of our typical days for Matt – he said it would be a great help while he’s watching the girls. I tried to include all of the little "secrets" for keeping things running smoothly and peacefully with four toddlers (like giving them a specific task -tea party or coloring project – when I must be doing something that takes all my attention.  I’m so thankful for him – he’s already been doing so much to help me rest.  He pretty much put me on "house arrest" till after baby comes.  Hospitality and most park dates and such are on hold, and he’s doing much of the grocery shopping for me.  My no-longer-swollen legs are very appreciative! He also saw that I was very weary from not sleeping much last night (’twas hot!), and sent me to bed for a nap at 9:30 this morning!  I’m trying to help the girls prepare to be helpers for daddy when he’s taking care of them while I rest, and praying all will go smoothly.  One day when I was particularly exhausted and feeling very overwhelmed, Matt reminded me that I don’t have to get through the next few weeks.  I only have to get through one day at a time.  Simple as it was, it was really helpful to me to remember to think that way – "sufficient for the day is the trouble thereof".  So I’m trying to start each day by reading some of my favorite passages when I feel weak and exhausted!:

He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  II Corinthians 12:8-11

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
         In His arm He will gather the lambs
         And carry them in His bosom;
         He will gently lead the nursing ewes. . .

27Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
         "My way is hidden from the LORD,
         And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"?
    28Do you not know? Have you not heard?
         The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
         Does not become weary or tired
         His understanding is inscrutable.
    29He gives strength to the weary,
         And to him who lacks might He increases power.
    30Though youths grow weary and tired,
         And vigorous young men stumble badly,
    31Yet those who wait for the LORD
         Will gain new strength;
         They will mount up with wings like eagles,
         They will run and not get tired,
         They will walk and not become weary.  Isaiah 40:11, 27-31

Lastly, I am trying to keep as many pictures up right now as I can, since I’m sure there will be a fairly lengthy lull once baby Alyssa comes (though, of course we’ll try to get some of her up!).  Here are some more:

I forced the girls into a little photo shoot when I realized that our avatar picture was over a year old!

 

Love those books! It’s funny, I’d have to say Juliette rivals Isabelle as my biggest book lover, and she’s only 18 months old! She follows me around the house begging "book me? book me?" (which we think actually means "book, please" as her please sounds like "me".

 

I have a picture just like this of me when I was a little girl – with my dolly and shopping cart outside. I’ll have to find it and post them together . . .

 Juliette has definitely mastered the art of the "cheese" smile – even if she’s still working on the big girl trike.

 

Isabelle tossing some dirt around.

 

Juliette showing off her "pretty, pretty" play shoes – amazingly enough she can actually walk in them. My one year old wears high heels better than me!

 

This picture made me laugh, as I so easily lump my girls into the "toddler" category that I think of them as almost all the same age. This definitely showed the difference!

Cheesy Smiles And *Nood* Art

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Well, I am officially exhausted, easily flustered, and constantly waddling with pregnancy right now. Therefore I currently lack the mental capacity to think of anything creative to write. Thus I shall continue to use the deep thoughts (and silly pictures) of my girls as blog fodder.  We recently traded in a bunch of old cds at a local bookstore, and used the credit to purchase some of the Veritas Press recommended kindergarten "fine art primer" storybooks for the girls.  Yesterday Isabelle brought me the Michaelangelo story and we sat down to read it for the first time. Throughout the story book, there are pictures of some of Michaelangelo’s most famous works of art – including a couple of nood* sculptures and paintings.  While I think most little girls get their first few male anatomy lessons from changing baby brothers’ diapers, since we lack any baby brothers around here I was pretty amused by the conversation this book sparked:

Isabelle (who at least knows God gave boys different bottoms than girls), pointing to the David sculpture: "Oh, is that his bottom?"

Me, a bit uncertain as to where to go with this, and happy to default to daddy: "Yes it is. You’ll have to ask daddy about whether he thinks that’s appropriate." I just covered up the sensitive areas with my thumb for the rest of the story, then promptly forgot about it (I told you, I lack any mental capacity right now).

Later in the day, after daddy came home, I was sitting on the couch with the younger girls and Hannah had picked up the Michaelangelo book to peruse. I was chatting with Matt as she was thumbing through it. Here’s the continuing conversation:

Hannnah: Mommy, look at him!  Look mommy, look at him!
 
Mommy (only half paying attention at the time): "hmmm, yes, what about him?"
 
Hannah: HE’S N*KED!
 
Mommy, realizing what she was looking at: "Oh, that’s right, we were going to ask daddy about that."
 
The kicker of this little story:
Isabelle had apparently already asked daddy about it,  and in her very wisest sounding four year old voice she replied:
"Daddy said that’s not appropriate, so I’m going to make some panties . . . um, some underwear . . . out of paper for him to wear . . . because I’m an artist . . not as well as him [Michaelangelo]. . . but I’m an artist because I made wind chimes."
There you have it – we made little clay windchimes, and she is now an artist nearly in the ranks of Michaelangelo.  An artist, I might add, who is well qualified to make panties for Micahelangelo’s artworks which are missing panties.  That’s my girl
*I changed the spelling of "nood" to hopefully avoid undesirable google hits!
And here are some more recen pictures:
Juliette’s not been needing a morning nap lately, so she’s been joining us for school time.

The day o’ cheesy smiles:

The girls’ grandma sent them some seashells which they are loving.

They make for great tomato stakers.

Just For Fun

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You all are so sweet! Thank you SO MUCH for your kind words last post – it’s a huge encouragement to be told you look pretty when you are waddling around feeling nothing but extremely pregnant!  I am very, very tired! I’m under strict orders from Matt to rest as much as I can today – it’s been a good, but exhausting, few weeks between post-moving projects, a big yard sale (and all the work that entails), having good friends to stay with us for a week, and a few other odds and ends (not to mention living in a two story house in a big heat wave!).  Yesterday was one of those days when I did way too much and ended the day curled up in bed with a very sore body, and swollen legs and feet.  So today I think I shall be sitting and reading aloud to the girls – and maybe I can sneak in sewing a few of Alyssa’s diapers (at least I’d be sitting ). Here are some pictures I took this week just for fun.

Ready for some swimming fun!

All pooped out after said swimming fun:

Well, someone still had energy left!

I took this picture solely to remind myself that sometimes all the girls do play happily together without me feeling like a referee!

We were thinking of putting Isabelle’s bouncy horse (Bree) in the yard sale, as he was being largely ignored.  Instead I moved him into our schoolroom/guestroom until such a time as we find a futon for it.  Now he’s getting all kinds of love!

 

Fledge

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I have the greatest husband ever!  For quite awhile now I’ve been hoping to save up for a bike, but failed to do so (I only have a set amount of fun money each month, and I always find some book or necklace I’d love!) Anyway, a friend happened to be selling the exact bike I was looking at used, and my sweet husband let me use some of our yard sale proceeds to buy it from her. He said he’d probably never be able to get me a horse, but this could be my "substitute".  I love my new bike!  I probably look a bit silly riding it around with my big belly, but it’s one form of exercise I can actually do without getting dizzy (I suppose since I’m sitting).  I decided since it was my "horse" I should name it, and Matt thought of the perfect name.  So here are some pictures of me and "Fledge" (the first flying horse in Narnia)