Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reading goodies

I was looking for main lesson book examples to share with a friend and I just happened upon this website created by two former Waldorf teachers. I found beautiful main lesson book examples, lots of verses and movement recommendations, reading recommendations, main lesson ideas and more.

Lori Pickert is one of my favorite writers and this week she posted another very inspirational article about how to encourage your kids to to be makers and doers.

I have been following the research of Peter Gray for some time. This article from several years ago about how kids learn to read is one of my favorites. Here is a new one that is a more general overview of his research.

My son's favorite cartoonist gives some wonderful advice in the form of a cartoon! I love this!!!

In my bedside book basket: The Read Aloud Handbook and KISS Guide to Yoga.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Predicting the future

My kids are often asking me to predict the future:

"When is Grandma going to get here?"
"What are we doing this week?"
"When is my friend going to call me back?"

And lately, my standard response is, "I am not very good at predicting the future. We will have to wait and see".

I would like to think there are some things I know about the future. One of the things I thought I knew about my future is where I will always live. I knew when I married my husband 13 years ago that we would always live in our hometown. I have said this hundreds of times: "If there is one thing you can count on, we will always be here". He is such a sweet son to his parents and his family has been in this community for at least five generations. My husband grew up living in the same house his whole life. In fact, we still have the same phone number he had when he was growing up! This man has ROOTS.

My life was not like that. Moving was a pretty regular part of my life. Things were often changing. At first, I wasn't so sure I would like returning to my hometown. I only knew I loved that man and I would follow him anywhere. I adjusted to the idea and we started planning our future together. We both talked about how it would be wonderful for our kids to have a home, one home to grow up in, one home to come back to. We talked about wanting our kids to know our parents, really know them. And we have been living those dreams and loving it!

I can't say for sure when things started to shift, but there have been little hints of impending change over the past year or so. Finally, in the last several months, we could no longer ignore that it was time to consider a different future.

My husband and I both have been doing some big learning and growing this summer. I know this because it has been HARD at times. We have been very attached to our good life here, so thinking about leaving took some adjustment. If I had been reading about my life in a book, I'd have been tempted to skip to the end of this chapter and find out how it was all going to work out. I often tried to predict how things would turn out, and I was wrong every time. So I eventually quit trying to predict and put my energy into patience. I learned that I have a lot to learn about patience.

My husband received an offer last week that will take us out of our little town to a big city in another state. We are excited about a new adventure for our family and sad about all we will leave behind. Whereas before, we tried to plan our "forever", now we're not looking so far ahead.

In fact, right now, we are so busy with moving that I can barely see past this day to the next. It may be quieter here for a while. If it is, you will know what's keeping me busy. But I won't try to make predictions about that, because now I know better.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rome, Greece and a little Physics

This summer, my son and I read Rick Riordan's "Mark of Athena", the third in a series about Roman mythology. Once we finished the book, we wanted to know more about Roman mythology and history and much more about Archimedes.

My son read "Archimedes and the Door of Science" by Jeanne Bendick. This book inspired some experiments with pulleys and levers (and hours of fun moving rocks and water between kids on the ground and kids in the clubhouse using a pulley system my 6 year old daughter designed). It also led to an interest in building a catapult so we took advantage of a workshop at our library. There, my son built a mini catapult and discovered a book called, "Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction" by John Austin. He found several good projects there and even included his sisters in some of them.

We found "Roman Myths" by Geraldine McCaughrean at our library. We picked up several books on Roman mythology and this was my son's favorite. He read this one on his own and then put together a puppet show to share one of the stories with me and his younger sisters.

"City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction" by David Macaulay was a big hit with my art-loving boy who loves to know how things are put together. We also found a movie, "Rome: Engineering an Empire", created by the History Channel that also describes the building of ancient Rome. No surprise that he is now working on architectural drawings of buildings from ancient Rome.

We are about halfway through "The Bronze Bow" by Elizabeth George Speare, which contains some Roman history and some history from the time of Christ. It is well done, a book we hate to put down.

Today I picked up "Augustus Caesar's World" by Genevieve Foster from our library. I am already loving the illustrations and look forward to reading through this one myself. I imagine I will pick out bits and pieces of this one to share with my son.

Feeling very fortunate to be learning with my kids! This is some really great stuff! Love it!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Reading goodies

Dear People Who Do Not Have a Child With Disabilities- I think this advice applies to anyone who is hurting for any reason.

A sweet post about structure in a home that values child-led learning.

Follow Jean and Alison's discussion as they read what Steiner actually said about education.

Some facts about homeschooling for the worriers and doubters.

Alternately laughing and crying as I read, "The Reading Promise" by Alice Ozma.

I tried out a yoga class this week! My instructor had this sign on the wall:
"In the end, what matters most is:
How well did you live?
How well did you love?
How well did you learn to let go?"

This week, my emerging readers are enjoying "Grasshopper on the Road" and "Uncle Elephant" by Arnold Lobel (author of the Frog and Toad books).

"Grasshopper on the Road" inspired me to draw! I used "Drawing From the Book of Nature" by Dennis Klocek, one of the books I ordered when I got home from Taproot.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reflections and intentions

There was much to process after my weekend at Taproot. After a week of down time, I thought I would share my reflections and intentions:
  • Once again, I came home with the understanding that I am trying to do too much. I heard Jean Miller say last year to "go deep not wide", "value process over product", "quality not quantity" and heard it again this year, but came home with a more specific understanding of what this could mean for us. This year, I will have patience with myself and my children. I will relax, enjoy and take time with every bit of knowledge we pursue, nurturing my children's ideas and watching them grow.
  • At Taproot, there are always opportunities to participate in music and art. It shows me how uncomfortable I am and how much I have to learn in these areas. This year, I am inspired to do more singing, movement and art with my kids. Even when it feels intimidating, I'm going to jump right in and do it anyway.
  • Everyday with my kids I am aware that I am as much a learner as they are. We are often learning together. At Taproot, there was certainly an exchange of ideas, but I was mostly there as a learner. I noticed that the job of receiving information is pretty exhausting and the job of giving information is also pretty exhausting. We all needed down time to recover and process afterward. Many of the important connections were made during the down time. Thankfully, we were all encouraged to take care of ourselves, joining in on planned activities as we wished and this highlighted for me the value of unstructured time. I will be curious and learn along with my children. I will keep a sane pace in the household, providing plenty of unstructured time for relaxation and reflection.
  • I learned a lot about myself and the ways in which I learn best. I noticed that there were some activities that were easy for me to learn from, some that I was resistant to but enjoyed once I gave it a try, and others that simply did not work for me. I will be aware of the ways in which each child learns best, ways that they are each open to being stretched a bit and activities that seem to block their learning process. I will be mindful of my children's projects, providing necessary resources and materials and reminding them where they left off when they are struggling to find something to do.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Reading goodies

 Lately I have realized how much time and energy I have now that my kids are a bit older and more independent. This article does a beautiful job of describing this time of life that I find myself in.

Renee Tougas wrote about the loneliness of choosing a life outside the norm. Very thought provoking.

This author writes about how to nurture creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit through education. A good read for homeschoolers or those interested in education reform.

Read this one because it doesn't do any good to tell kids to hurry anyway and because "the noticers" are important teachers in our lives.

The word "obstacles" kept jumping out at me in my reading this week:
From a self-written obituary: "...Obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path".
And from Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart: "What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we're stuck.....Whether we experience what happens to us as obstacle  and enemy or as teacher and friend depends entirely on our perception of reality."

Happy Friday!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Road trip

This past week I took a road trip. By myself. On my way there I tried to remember the last time I had made a big trip alone. It was before kids, before marriage. It's been ages. I only just barely remember that girl I used to be, the one who liked to take frequent road trips, visiting family and friends and rocking out along the way. It's been far too long.

I drove nearly 2000 miles, 32 total hours, and listened to eight of my favorite CDs over and over again. All old CDs from my road tripping days. I was hoarse from singing by the time I returned home. I drove through the rain and in the dark. I saw the sunrise in Indiana. I saw every inch of a semi truck on fire in Illinois and more smoke than I've ever seen in my life. I saw familiar country and country I had never seen before.

I returned to Taproot Farm for Teacher Training. I went last year, thinking that I would only go once. It is pretty far away and I felt lucky to make it there at all. Connecting with others who homeschool in a similar way was an amazing experience for me. I had thought I was doing OK on my own, but experiencing community really showed me what I had been missing. Over the past year, I kept in touch with several of the women I met there. These ladies have become my community, my friends.

This year being at Taproot felt even better. I was returning to a familiar place. I even stayed in the same bedroom with my two roommates from last year. There were six of us who had returned. There was hugging, catching up, and late night chats complete with wine and snacks.

Attending these trainings has taught me so much--about working with my kids, about myself, about the variety of people and lifestyles in this world. When it's all over, my head feels full with new ideas and my heart feels full from all the connection with these beautiful friends. This week, I am taking a tremendous sigh and just enjoying all this fullness.