31 March 2011

The Darndest Things: I Saw Jesus One Time

Around Christmas, our oldest was in a musical at church. Q.-Age-Three went to watch, and was completely enthralled with the living nativity near the end. If you recall, she thought it was real. I know that I explained to her that these were just children acting out the story, and that the angels and Mary and Joseph were not real angels, nor the real Mary and Joseph. And I really thought she had understood.

Now, I'm not so sure.

This morning, we had our piano* tuned. Q.-Age-Four, who always has a lot to say, and is known to chatter when she finds an audience, decided to discuss the matter with the Piano Man.

"Excuse me," she said, "did you know I saw Jesus one time at my church?"

*Our piano is a one hundred year old upright grand. He told us this is sort of like teaching our children to drive on a car with 600,000 miles on it.

Coming Soon to a Book Stack Near You

Or near me, anyhow. Ahem. I feel like I've been finishing up enough books that I'm willing to crack open a few new ones at once. I decided to go for a theme, and that theme is relational-type books. {Is that a genre? If so, there is probably a better name for it.} I'm trying to train myself to not painstakingly study every book I read, so I'm starting with books that I think I can read quickly, pull out a few principles, and be done with them.

If I like them, they'll find an official place on a shelf in the Family Library. If they are only okay books, I'll probably list them on PaperBackSwap.

So...what are they?

I'm glad you asked!

Instructing a Child's Heart
Instructing a Child's Heart
by Tedd and Margy Tripp
I liked Shepherding a Child's Heart, so I figured I would like this one, too.

Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace
Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace
by Gary and Betsy Ricucci
Because it was recommended on Radical Womanhood.

Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?: Trusting God with a Hope Deferred
Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?
Carolyn McCulley
By the author of Radical Womanhood herself! Someday I will get my hands on her second book!

What's on your book stack?

30 March 2011

Book Review: Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer

Let me start by saying that I wanted to like this book. I empathize with Spencer {better known as the Internet Monk, may he rest in peace}. I spent most of my twenties experiencing what I can only call Church Angst. Sometimes, I still have Church Angst. All of this to say: I understand what it is like to be frustrated, confused, or worried about the state of the evangelical church.

With that said, I haven't experienced any church trauma. I’ve met people who were raised in abusive, controlling churches. I really think that is a whole other discussion, and I don’t think that Spencer is trying to tackle that sort of situation. I think the book is making two main arguments: (1) many evangelical churches spend more time being a part of, indulging, and chasing after the culture around them than following Jesus and (2) the people who leave such churches {and not necessarily to go to another church} are not necessarily leaving Jesus.

My problem with this book is that I don’t really think it helps this situation at all, except perhaps to “raise awareness” of certain problems, or comfort Christians who are really uncomfortable in their churches with the knowledge that they are not alone.

I could list off my many criticisms, both major and minor, but I’m not sure it’d be helpful. Instead, I’m going to try and boil all of this down to one super-huge point of disagreement I have with the author, and that is his choice to divide Jesus and Church in order to make his argument.

Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped SpiritualitySpencer spends a lot of time talking about Jesus, and building a decent, basic, orthodox Christology. He quotes chapter and verse {in his footnotes} to explain where he’s getting his points. But he doesn’t do this for the Church. Instead, he makes sweeping {and I admit—sometimes very true} generalizations about evangelical church culture. This should not be a substitute for building a decent, basic, orthodox ecclesiology with which to compare his criticisms.

The closest he gets to making a truth statement about the Church is to say that she is called to make disciples. True enough, of course. Like a lot of times in the book, Spencer starts out great, but then veers off into dangerous territory in regard to the church:
Following Jesus…is about where God has placed you. It is about your relationships, your gifts…, your stewardship of possessions, and your particular map of Kingdom territory. You have a mission from your King. The church is called to serve and resource you as you live the Jesus-filled life in the world. {emphasis mine}
If every member of the church were being “served and resourced,” there would be no one to do the serving and resourcing, now would there? Obviously there is more to this church thing than just being supported in my own personal ministry angle.

Spencer claims the Church doesn’t spend much time scouring the Scriptures to make sure they are really following Jesus. The trouble is, in most problem {whether they know it or not} churches I’ve sat in, they’d do well to scour the Scriptures and discover not only who Jesus is, but also what the Church is.

Let’s briefly look at what Scripture says about the Church:
I’m not saying that the Church is not about the business of making disciples, but that there is so much more to it than that.

Because Spencer neglected to explore what God reveals about the Church in His Word, I am not surprised that he didn’t have much advice for folks who want to leave the church at the end. He makes nebulous statements like “go among the poor.” I agree that Jesus was often found among the poor, but the Church is the body of believers, so it matters whether those poor people or saved or not {as he is implying this can replace church}, which is something Spencer never mentions. A life of service doesn’t negate the need for participation in, and connection to, the Body of Christ.

There are other problems in the book, like the time he misinterprets Scripture, and then excuses himself by saying something like, “contextual considerations aside…” which seems to imply that he has decided to force his own meaning upon the passage, a dangerous path to start down, to be sure.

I think Spencer definitely makes his case that evangelicalism is seriously lacking in some areas. Sometimes, he makes the case so strongly that he’s just plain mean and unfair to the sweet believers I walk with through life.

I’ve spent many years searching for a good book on the Church Problem. Unfortunately, after reading Mere Churchianity, I find the need to continue looking.


Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purpose of this review. If you have the time, I'd love for you to rank my review over at Blogging for Books. Just click the icon at right.

29 March 2011

Enlisting the Will

Before he begins to toddle he knows the difference between right and wrong; even a baby in arms will blush at the 'naughty baby!' of his nurse; and that strong will of his acts in proportion as he learns the difficult art of obedience; for no one can make a child obey unless he wills to do so, and we all know how small a rebel may make confusion in house or schoolroom.

-Charlotte Mason, Volume VI
In my final post on Bad Attitudes, Mystie mentioned that "enlisting the will" is one of those nebulous phrases used by Charlotte Mason disciples, and I'm inclined to agree with her. It has only been in the last year or so that I've begun to understand it enough to put it into practice.

So: Is enlisting the will more than a pep talk?

I'd answer that in the affirmative, though I think the differences probably wouldn't be completely obvious to an outside observer.

My personal opinion is that enlisting the will involves coaching, spiritual counseling, old-fashioned mothering, and teaching all rolled into one.

The Goal
Before we discuss the practical aspects of enlisting the will, let's first discuss the goal. Charlotte Mason tells us throughout her work that the goal is to form a sort of mother-child team to tackle the issue at hand. In one of her volumes, she gives the example of a child who needs to learn to close doors when he leaves the room. Every summer, we have a similar problem in our home, though the doors need to be closed not due to draft, but due to flies. The flies here are horrendous, and one door left open might invite twenty to thirty of them indoors, which not only drives me completely insane, but also makes my kitchen an unsanitary environment.

My approach has generally been to scold, nag, threaten, cajole, and so on and so forth.

{In case you were wondering, that is not the Charlotte Mason approach.}

The Charlotte Mason approach is to form a team with the child to build a new habit of closing doors. The child is on board with the new habit, and mother is not an adversary, but rather a helper. She is not nagging, but helping him remember to do what he agreed to do. This changes the whole playing field from mother-versus-child to the team-versus-the problem.

How to Enlist the Will
I cannot tell anyone how to do this in every circumstance, but I can give some general principles that I have gleaned from my reading, as well as what I have learned by trying to practice this in my own home over the past year or two.

Generally, a conversation is to be had. I have learned to pray for opportunities to have these. There is usually a right time and a wrong time for these things. A wrong time is when the child is concentrating on something else, or really, really angry about Mommy's nagging, etcetera. A right time is, on the other hand, when the child is more receptive to the topic. First thing in the morning, when the child is fresh for the day, sometimes works for me. Likewise, last thing at night, when the child is thinking through the day also works. I have also discovered quiet times here and there throughout the day. We just have to use wisdom.

Now, the whole foundation for having this conversation in the first place is the existence of the conscience. Charlotte was a firm believer that the child was born with a knowledge of good and evil (we are all sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, you know). She believed that children know when they are doing wrong. While closing the door is not an objectively moral idea, obeying parents is, and the child who neglects to close the door, when he has been told to do so, knows that he is doing wrong.

So we leverage the conscience in order to have the conversation. I don't mean that we do this in a manipulative way, but simply that we acknowledge that it is there. I have had many conversations with children that begin with, "Now, you know that you are really supposed to do X..." Almost without exception, the child's eyes drop to the floor in shame, or rise to the ceiling because they are uncomfortable. It is my experience that shooting straight helps a lot, and Charlotte's fifth volume is full of examples using this direct approach.

At this point, it might be helpful to mention that enlisting the will does not mean that the child is being given a choice over the issue. We are the mothers. The children were given into our charge by God. And we are in charge. This is why I highly suggest the direct approach. It leaves no room for the child to believe he has a choice in the matter, especially once it is phrased as a moral issue.

We can easily say, "You know you are commanded to obey your parents." To an older child, I almost always add my reasons, such as, "You know that the door lets in flies, which we then have to spend time killing. You know that flies can make our food dirty and even cause sickness."

I think the goal of forming that mother-child team is accomplished as the plan of attack is discussed. Our oldest, when we were inspired by Charlotte's fifth volume, was required to run off his bad attitude. Focus on running until you have outrun the Mean Monster! Remember: the plan usually involves putting a new, good habit in place of an old, bad habit.

In some cases, it is really simple, such as replacing leaving a door open with closing it as he leaves the room. In other cases, it requires a little creativity. Mommy leads the way in hatching the plan, but the child participates a little, too. With older children, I have asked, "How would you like me to remind you? We can have a secret code that only you and I know," or something like that.

All of this is really putting feet to the idea of repentance. The child has a conscience, one that has experienced conviction, and even moreso since Mommy brought it up in conversation. Now is the time to help the child turn away from one thing and to another thing. Sometimes the conversation will have to happen more than once--such as in the example I gave before regarding piano practice. When my child forgot his commitment to uncomplaining practice, I had to help him remember.

The difference between this and nagging is both qualitative as well as quantitative. Ideally, with the child's will on board, it will happen less often. But also, nagging is adversarial in nature, while reminders are friendly service gestures which we often offer to each other. When Charlotte explained reminders, they were quite subtle. The mother didn't say, "You forgot to close the door." Instead, she said something like, "I said I would remind you," and in a meek voice at that. The child might even have to figure out what Mommy is talking about and, frankly, that is part of the point. As the child does some of the mental effort, he is flexing his will muscles and learning to will to do right, rather than play the slave to his own passions and impulses.

28 March 2011

Miscellaneous Musings on Monday

This week begins our countdown for ducklings! Our new Welsh Harlequins are arriving next week! Among other things, this means that next week will be mostly reruns. I figure it is either that, or shut the blog down for the week entirely, which is not my first choice. Besides, I'm reading some of my own archives to brush up on some things, so I'll just share what I'm reading.

It is amazing how one can write something, and at the time it all seems so clear, and then the clarity fades and it all becomes gray again, no?

Or do I sound like a crazy person?

In other news...
  • Are you trying to decide when to start Ambleside Year One? Years ago, when my oldest was five, I was seriously tempted to start Year One as a kindergarten year. His reading level was astounding, so I thought that it'd be a good fit, even though I wouldn't do it with all of my subsequent children. A bunch of the women on the Ambleside Yahoo group, however, said, "NO!" Well, they said it nicely, but you get the idea. They encouraged those of us with advanced readers to relax and wait the additional year. I am so. glad. we. did. Year Three is quite a jump from Year Two, and even though he could have handled it last year, it would have been too time-consuming for his age. I am glad to be assigning the appropriate amount of work each year, rather than feeling obligated to cut in order to make the load age-appropriate. It is not so much that Year One is inappropriate for five-year-olds as that Year Three is too much for seven-year-olds. All of that to say: Kathy wrote a great blog post on waiting for Year One many years ago. If you are pondering this issue, be sure and read it!
  • Don't forget about the new book club! Mystie has generously offered to host a discussion group for my favorite book ever, ever, ever, Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education. This is a very difficult read, but totally worth the effort. I blogged through the book a few years ago, but I've agreed to try my hand at a refresher course, and you all can join, too. Order your book now if you're joining in because the club starts April 5th.
  • Are the new SmartMeters really StupidMeters? I read an article on this that has me thinking. I have had more problems with my ears ringing since they installed the meter; I just thought it was congestion. I was already ticked when they installed the meters without giving us the option to keep our old meter, which I liked just fine thankyouverymuch. It is annoying to me that an opt-out program has been offered, but it'll cost me! Grr...
  • I've lately been enjoying a reader subscription to Challies. I have an unwritten rule for myself. My Google Reader is "full," meaning that I make myself delete a subscription if I want to add a new one. This means I've subscribed to Challies off and on as I had room, while never going over my limit. The limit, incidentally, keeps me from spending too much time reading online (an easy thing to do, to be sure). Because of Challies, my children and I "wasted" time watching this completely awesome YouTube video:
  • Did anyone notice that Willa was a contributor to a new homeschooling book? You can read more about it here.
  • This weekend I read about the work of Allan Savory. Cattle got a bad name back in the 1990s when the UN issued a report declaring parts of the world "overgrazed." Savory's organization, however, is restoring "overgrazed" land by...increasing herds by 400%. Well, there is more to it than that, but Savory's work is in line with what a lot of folks are realizing--that the animals and plants exist in a mutually beneficial state, and that good land requires both plants and animals. You can learn more about Savory's work at the Savory Institute. All of this sounds to me like God actually knew what he was doing when he planned the Garden of Eden as a biodynamic environment for man to manage.
  • Another project utilizing biodynamic methods is Chaffin Family Orchards. They are just fascinating. I was shocked the first time I saw photos of goats...in their olive orchard! Goats in the orchard manage weeds and even help prune the trees! We, too, have learned how animals benefit our orchard, with ducks controlling insects and side-dressing the trees with nitrogen. {Plus they are really cute...and the eggs are yummy.}
If you have any links you enjoyed this past week, be sure and share them in the comments!

24 March 2011

On Bad Attitudes {Part IV...Part the Last}

We've covered the other aspects of bad attitudes. Remember: we're mainly discussing the child who is obnoxious about his lessons. If you have a generally well-behaved child who groans about math or declares he hates lessons, you're in good company in this post.

We're not attempting to tackle major behavior problems.

We've talked about the possibility of starting too young or choosing bad books. We discussed the advantages of varying the lessons, as well as getting to the source of the child's frustration. Last time, we talked about Mommy's {bad?} example, and also considered other variables, like hunger or sleepiness.

This time, we'll talk about habit formation and discipline. These two are opposite sides of the same coin. On the one hand, we have discipline. This is reactionary in nature. The child does something wrong, and so Mother is obligated to respond appropriately. Children need consequences, plain and simple. Habit formation, on the other hand, is proactive. It trains the child up, and the result tends to be that he doesn't require as much discipline, if that makes sense.

Nip it in the Bud

Oh, if we only all understood this when we first became parents! We really might save ourselves a lot of trouble if we trained our children from the time they were very young. I remember when we first learned the idea of training from some friends of ours. We had already gone through the toddler-running-away stage with one child, and we weren't looking forward to our second child learning to walk! These friends taughts us that there is a better way. Instead of disciplining the child for running into the street, why not teach the child, right from the start, to come when called?

It really is best for the child's safety, after all.

And so we did this with our second {and eventually third and fourth} child. We practiced in our living room. Once she was really able to walk, I would direct her to "go to Daddy." Or he would call her. And vice versa. In a few nights, she had a habit of coming when called. Our current toddler has been more difficult to train, but still responds nicely to the practice. {He has been known to require refresher courses, however.}

Nipping these things in the bud--building good habits before the children even have time to build bad ones--requires a lot of forethought, but pays huge dividends. For years, much of my mothering approach was purely reactionary.

Charlotte Mason, along with a couple dear friends, have really challenged me in that area, though, and recently I got to try out the nip-it-in-the-bud approach. Many of you know that I began giving piano lessons to my oldest. I know that practicing piano can seem like a pain to a little one. I remember complaining about it when I was young. So I came prepared. First, I didn't begin teaching him until he really, really wanted to learn. Next, I told him that I'd only teach him if he was ready to give it the practice required--thirty minutes per day, six days per week. {Our friend Charlotte calls this "enlisting the will."} Finally, I was armed and ready with a plan.

Sure enough, about a week later, I heard grumbling. "I don't know why I have to practice this. This is such a pain."

I ran to the piano and stole his book.

"Hey! Give that back!"

"Oh, no. No, no, no. The agreement was that I would teach you if you would practice. You agreed, so you cannot grumble. Let me ask you again: do you really want to learn to play?"

He said yes, and so I let him know that there would be no grumbling. Period.

And then I gave the book back, and I haven't heard a peep of grumbling since.

{I will say that I think it also helps that we have a satisfying curriculum.}

I know this sounds so simple, but let's think about it. Charlotte tells us that unlearning a bad habit is like "doing violence" to the person. It is so, so hard. By comparison, heading off a bad habit at the pass is easy. We just have to be vigilant, on guard for the new bad habits that invariably tempt our children to adopt them.

By the way, the first mistake we parents make is to not take something seriously because it is the first time the child has done it. I used to think this way myself. Well, she's not done this before, so I won't make a big deal out it. Now I ask myself what I'd think if this was a habit, and respond accordingly. Charlotte tells us to watch closely at the "letting out of the waters," and this is what she means.

Habit Formation

The official Charlotte Mason steps to habit formation {which are used to break bad habits and replace them with good} are fairly simple:
  1. Commit ourselves to the time and energy required for the task. Do not begin until we are committed.
  2. Pray for strength and perseverance.
  3. Talk with the child; form a mother-child team determined to acquire the good habit.
  4. Don't allow the old bad habit, or expect the new good habit.
  5. Remind the child as needed, in a way that keeps mother and child on the same team.
  6. Challenge the child to excel, if appropriate.
  7. Permit NO reversion.
  8. Guard the habit.
I don't have time to go into all of this today, and I have written about this extensively in the past. At the bottom of this post will be links to old entries that summarize Charlotte Mason's work on this subject. If you really want to study habit formation, I'd suggest Charlotte's fifth volume, Formation of Character.


It used to be that when I read Mason's work, I'd ask myself where she found all of these perfect children. Did the British people have an amazing gene pool, or what?

I know this can't be true. Children are born with a sinful nature, and they will look Mommy in the eye while doing exactly the opposite of what Mommy said. And this sort of defiance requires consequences.

Sometimes, the child's will just cannot (or will not) be enlisted. The child does not want to comply. Period.

What can be done?

I don't feel comfortable discussing discipline in detail here. I feel this is better discussed in something book-length, which covers all the required caveats.

With that said, there have been a number of times where I have told the children that they will form such-and-such habit. And then I tell them that their father than I have decided that this is best for them. We are the ones who will be held accountable for their upbringing--not them. This is hard for children to understand. They think they are accountable for themselves, but they are not--not yet, anyhow.

I have also been known to turn this into a trust issue. Do they trust our love? Do they know that we want what we believe is best for them? I try and teach them to rest in that, even when they don't understand. I have since had at least one child come to me and say that they were thankful for a decision Si and I had made, that even though it felt unfair at the time, they see the situation differently, and they are grateful that we did what we thought was best for that child. It is my hope that when my any of my children are resisting habit formation, and discipline steps in to fill the gaps, that they will reap that sort of fruit at some point in the future.

One thing I think that ought to be said on this subject, and often isn't, is not to be afraid to discipline for attitudes. God disciplined the Israelites for their grumbling all of the time. Our own grumbling is always a sign of some other sin--lack of trust in God's sovereignty, lack of contentment, etc.

Children's lessons are sort of like potty training. We have this expectation that it can be accomplished without discipline, but any teacher you talk to will tell you this is not so. Don't be afraid to discipline your students. My oldest would probably still be in diapers if someone hadn't given me "permission" to discipline him for defiance during potty training!


Before I leave off, here are books which discuss child discipline that we have found helpful. I can't say that we live any single book, but we have been influenced and like any journey, ours has a decent bibliography, so here I have tried to be selective.


I promised there would be some links to old posts on habit formation. Here they are:

23 March 2011

{Mis?}Judging Heroism

In the juvenile fiction piece Redwall, the hero, Matthias, risks life and limb for a symbol. A portion of the abbey tapestry containing the portrait of the abbey's savior, Martin the Warrior, has been stolen by their enemy, Cluny the Scourge, and his hoard of rat warriors (this being an animal story and all). Matthias slips out of the abbey during the night and crosses the meadow to the ruins of the Church of St. Ninian, which Cluny has adopted as his headquarters.

Redwall (Redwall, Book 1)Matthias sneaks in, but the abbey's standard is nowhere to be found. Instead, Matthias spends his time freeing the Vole family, who were being held hostage by the enemy. Matthias leaves the Vole family under the protection of Basil Stag Hare and returns to the abbey empty-handed.

Was this worth the risk?

This question has been haunting me for a week or two now, and it came to the forefront upon viewing the (excellent, by the way) movie, Stone of Destiny, this past weekend.

**Spoiler Warning**

Stone of DestinyStone of Destiny deals with real events (embellished though they probably are). Four young Scottish university students, desiring to awaken national pride in their kinsmen, sneak into Westminster Abbey to retrieve (some would say steal) the Stone of Destiny and bring it back to its rightful home: Scotland.

If you are unfamiliar with Scottish history, the Stone of Destiny is the Stone of Scone, used for centuries in the coronation of Scottish kings. The stone was taken to England by King Edward I when he captured it in battle in the late 1200s. In the movie, we learn that the stone has been fitted into the chair that is used for the coronation of English kings. By sitting in the chair, the new king is effectively sitting upon both the English coronation chair and the Stone of Destiny at once, which coronates the king as both King of England and of Scotland Scots, according to the traditions of both nations.

To the Scots, this was a symbol of their repeated subjugation to the England, to their status as a conquered people, disallowed from ruling themselves.

I do not doubt the necessity of heroics. The question I have been struggling with, however, is how one goes about choosing the appropriate heroics.

In regard to the movie, I found myself so nervous for the four students. If they failed, would they still consider all of this worth the risk? Because they succeeded, did this make it worth the risk?

Or was its worth revealed when, upon Christmas morning, news of the theft spread over the country, and citizens were dancing in the streets, waving Scottish flags? That this small victory revived a sense of nationhood and the attendant hope of liberty--is this the litmus test?

As I read the story of Matthias to my children, I wondered what it was teaching them. Is it worth risking one's life for the sake of a tattered piece of tapestry? Or, much like the Stone of Destiny, did the retrieval of an artifact represent victory? And was this symbol of victory of the utmost importance?

I wonder.

And if symbols are inherently worth defending, what symbols are of such value to our own culture? What symbols ought we to defend? And are we defending them?

22 March 2011

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child: Method Ten

Here we are at the end. The tenth method is: Deny the Transcendent and the subtitle is: Fix Above the Heads of All Men the Lowest Ceiling of All. The root of this is probably that, if this world is truly all there is, there's not much worth imagining, so let's get on with the orders of the day, shall we?

TEN WAYS TO DESTROY THE IMAGINATION OF YOUR CHILDThis is why thoughts of eternity have subsequently inspired all the greatest thoughts. One necessarily precedes the others.

I thought I'd end my participation in this club with a few of my favorite quotes from this final chapter.
For in those days I had no idea that many of the greatest books are like a forest, and that the best way to get to know them is to wander right into the middle and get lost.
I was sitting last week upon my couch with a copy of The Illiad upon my lap. I pondered how to read it. As a teen, I read it because I found it interesting. As an adult, I found myself wondering if there were a "right" way to read it. Do I need a tutor? A guide? A book about books? While I am sure all of those things are helpful in their own way, I found myself emboldened by Esolen. Perhaps, I could just wander around the book and find my way okay, and know the territory better for having done it myself.
But the words that fixed their wonder in my mind were those first three: "In the beginning."

Here was a time before any I could remember. Here was something older than my dog or my house, or even my mother and father. Here was not "once upon a time" or "a long, long time ago" but "in the beginning," meaning that every other story came not in the beginning but some time later, like my dog, my house, my mother and father, and me.
I think learning the creation story this way is at once humbling and inspiring. Charlotte Mason inspired me to read my children the bare Scripture, with no lectures attached. She trusted the Word of God, I think. In addition to this, I find that Scripture sans preaching has its place--it is populating the imaginations of these little people. Doctrine will come in time, to be sure. But I love for them to hear the Story plain and simple first.
But do not think that my imagination was stirred primarily by the excitement of these stories. I have no objection to children reading stories--but that is not exactly the point. If a man named Bill is about to do something stupid and is suddenly rebuked by his dog, that may make a pretty good story for a little child. But these were not simply fooleries for children. They were stories rooted in the heart of our being human. Balaam was rebuked by the Lord, in the form of the miraculous speech from the beast, because in his willingness to disobey what he knew was the right, Balaam was behaving more stupidily than a beast, and was setting himself on the road to a dreadful death which the dumb animal could see and he could not. In other words, you couldn't read a line without being aware of those first lines, "In the beginning," because these stories were always finally about the works of that mysterious Father who made all.
Scripture holds a special place, even in regard to the imagination, no?

Esolen quotes Milton praying that God will open the eyes of his soul, that he might grasp Truth, and one of the more "religious" verses of the song America, and then declares:
It is not, as inattentive people will say, that such sentiments as these tend to divide people and make government impossible. It is that they tend first to make young men and women sufficiently independent to scorn the passing fashions, desiring to see what Milton saw. Then, when such people sing the words of the song that used simply to be called "America," they unite around that call for a freedom born in obedience and virtue. Such people govern themselves. They do not make government impossible. They make despotism impossible.
Our work is nothing less that the propagation of freedom, but I do not mean this in the political sense, though it does have political ramifications.

In talking about ancient paintings, Esolen writes:
The painting bears the style of his hand, yet he does not at all mean to express himself in it; rather it allows him to pass beyond himself, to the animals he knows in part, and to the mysterious forces that govern his life and the life of his people, forces that he hardly knows at all.

In other words, man's imagination, when it is not corrupt, yearns for the holy--to behold its beauty from a distance, to be possessed by it. All the greatest art of the past, pagan and Christian, testifies to this desire.
I want to remember this. I have been pondering the concept of self-forgetfulness as an antidote to pride, something I plan to write about in the near future. We have corrupted art, I think, by turning all of it into self-expression, as if there were nothing greater than self worth expressing. I have observed enough children now to think that they really are born serious and inquisitive--and joyful, of course--but we ruin them by cultivating pettiness. Sure, they are little sinners, but we (as a culture) make them less than what they should be rather than helping them to be more.

There are more wonderful thoughts, but these were my favorites--except for a couple I could hardly quote, seeing as it'd require me to type more than a page!

If I can pinpoint one lasting effect I think this book will have upon me personally, I have to say it is not in regard to my children at all. It is in regard to me. I made a resolution this year to add literature back into my course of study. I was doing this because Andrew Kern (I think it was Kern) suggested literature is the best--possibly only appropriate--course of study for a teacher. I used to love great literature, but when I grew up, I began to devour nonfiction. I think that perhaps too much nonfiction is, over time, wearing away at my own imagination.

My children have wonderful imaginations. I'd like to recapture mine enough to join them on their adventures. Or, at the very least, not dampen their spirits any!
Verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:3
-Read more book club entries via Cindy's blog

Spring Redesign

Okay. As you can see, I'm moving some things around for the redesign. These transitions never are completely smooth, no matter how well one prepares. If you have any difficulties with anything, please let me know. I still do not have all of my White Blog Gumption mustered, but I'm doing it anyhow.

I might be back to messy-scrappy by summer, depending upon how this goes.

Book Club entry? Hmmmm...It should be up later.

Supposedly, this is a school day and all.

Did I mention my toddler just painted a giant toy with milk? Because he did.


21 March 2011

Miscellaneous Musings on Monday

Our area was drenched by rain this weekend. A blessing though it was (and is!), I am a little concerned about being ready for the ducklings on time. Building their temporary cage is an outdoor affair, and we didn't get it done. I wish I knew how long it takes to combine flocks, but we've never done this before.

I still can't wait to have cute, fluffy little ducklings to play with. We have such good memories of our first ducks, but with Si ending up in the hospital, we didn't get to handle them the way we planned, and it has taken a long time to really get them tame. My hope is that this new bunch will be quite tame from the handling of many hands throughout their early weeks.

In other news...
  • I'm always on the lookout for recipes into which I can easily sneak liver and other organ meats my children despise. Ahem. I think I'll try these curry meatballs in creamy tomato-coconut sauce and see what happens.
  • Fred Sanders wrote a thoughtful post on Augustine's worst sin. It seems even the greatest among us have blind spots, which is a good reason to look both ways before crossing streets.
  • I've been thinking about the impact of low-level radiation on my duck flock. I'm not too concerned about the Japan thing (other than that it reminded me that I'm not prepared for a radiological event, were one to happen near us). I did some reading and discovered that Chernobyl had a great cloud floating around that did no harm. It seems that all of the reported radiological sickness was within close proximity to the event. With that said, I've wondered if ducks would be sensitive to levels that do not harm humans. I've upped their kelp ration, just in case. It can't hurt, and it might help.
  • Do you have worship music angst? I do. But, then again, I have angst about lots of things. I was fascinated by this post about why singing music from Sovereign Grace is better than singing hymns. (HT: Challies)
  • I also liked the post at Practical Theology for Women on aligning ourselves with the mustard seed. I can tell that she's a recovering dispensationalist, too.
  • I've redesigned the blog for spring. I think it looks nice, but I'm still trying to decide if I'm brave enough for a white blog. Plus it'll freak my dad out (again).
  • And finally: The book club links were a little shaky last week, so I wanted to make sure you didn't miss Cindy's post, which was most excellent.
Any of you have links to share in the comments?

18 March 2011

Post-Exam Troubleshooting

I've been changing a few things with my Year Three student after his recent exam. It's not that he bombed it, but his answers were markedly inferior to his Term One exam. In my opinion, the exams are mostly a tool for me to learn from, a way of guaging the effectiveness of what we are doing. After all, if he cannot remember something three months later, it cannot be said that he really learned it.

I was surprised at how many times his answer was "I don't know" or "I don't remember." I admit that I usually offer one question that I know will be hard for him, both to keep him humble and to see what he can do with the challenge. But most of these I-don't-knows were in regard to things that I completely expected him to remember. In fact, I made him go back and read the entire chapter on John Calvin because he had entirely forgotten him.

After thinking about this a bit, I think my worst mistake was allowing my sickness to breed poor habits. I was sick for the first three-quarters of the term, and it showed. I feel behind on my pre-reading, which meant that sometimes I had to take his word for it in the narration--I didn't really know what he was talking about. Some of this is unavoidable, and I'm seeing a major difference now that I'm back on top of my prereading, but I still think that the other issue was the system I'd devised.

This year, I began giving my son a clipboard with his lessons for the week. I gave him a lot of freedom to order his lessons as he wished. In first term, he mixed it up, and it worked great. In second term, he seemed to be aiming for efficiency, rather than variety. This means that he was doing all of his non-reading/narrating work first {math drills, math worksheets, copywork, etc.} and then saving all of his reading and narration for the end. As the assignments got more and more intense, he ended up spending over two hours per day in a row reading and narrating.

And this is not the Charlotte Mason way.

One of the things I allowed to be neglected, by handing more control over to my son, was alternation. Charlotte mixed things up. She found that this kept the brain from being overtaxed, and children would continue to think about their readings--meaning they were assimilating what they had learned--when they were doing math, copying in their copybooks, and so on.

So this week, I taught my son the meaning of alternating {which was harder than I expected}, and I explained to him that this would help him keep his mind fresh for his reading and narrating. He had noticed that this exam did not come as easily to him as the last, and I think he appreciated being helped into a better system. He knows that the purpose of the exam is to help Mommy assess her teaching methods.

By Thursday, he finally had it down. He read his Bible before breakfast. Then, we had our breakfast with Circle Time. After that, there were chores. When he settled at his desk, he read for his written narration, and wrote a page or two in his notebook. Then, he did his math wrap-ups. Next, he read for another narration, and came to me to narrate aloud. This was followed by copywork. After this, I read aloud to him, and he narrated back to me. This was followed by math worksheets. Finally, he read one more reading, and narrated aloud.

It worked!

His narrations were fresher and faster {without nagging him to hurry up or focus, another bad habit I'd sunk into}. He seemed to go more swiftly through his work in general, and yet I felt like we were less rushed. I think I started hurrying him because, frankly, three or four narrations in a row were getting to be too much for my brain, too.

I look forward to seeing how the final exam compares to Term Two.

17 March 2011

On Bad Attitudes {Part III}

I realized after I wrote my last post, and ended by saying, "Next time, we'll discuss discipline and habit training," that I was actually skipping something: Dealing with Mommy. So I'm going to put off disciplining and habit training until Part IV, and today we'll talk about Mommy, and also a couple other variables.

It's not that I am a discipline-as-a-last-resort person. I'm not. It's just that, in my own experience, I have learned that I have to tread carefully. If I overlook the root causes, or even contributing causes, I am not parenting wisely.

Indulge me in a personal example.

I have a toddler. A rambunctious, energetic, get-into-everything-because-I-have-absolutely-no-hand-control toddler. I noticed that this little one was consistently getting into trouble after lunch, all the way up until naptime. Naps start around 1:30pm here, and lunch was finishing up around 12:30pm. That is an hour of disciplining, folks. An hour of scolding and training. An hour of crying on the toddler's part, for he despises being told "no." I have always loved reading to my children during that hour after lunch, but it wasn't happening. I spent all of my time running from dishes to discipline and back again.

Now, the toddler needed discipline, for sure. I said, "Get down from that table," and he looked me in the eye and climbed higher. He was purposely defiant.

But the situation didn't begin and end with discipline. What I needed was a better plan. What I was doing was not working at all.

This is why we are considering everything else before we consider discipline. Because though discipline works, sometimes a better plan circumvents the whole situation.

In our case, I learned to give a slightly bigger morning snack and postpone lunch until 12:30pm. I read a chapter or two of our read aloud while the children are finishing their lunches. The toddler begins falling asleep during the meal, to be honest. (This is why he was in so much trouble, by the way. He was simply exhausted, and his self-control had no energy to fuel it.) Instead of ending the day with a battle, I gather up a sleepy guy and, while the older children do the dishes, I rock him and sing to him and put him to sleep.

We went from a daily hour of chaos to a sweet and peaceful naptime, all by shifting when we do lunch.

All of this taught me that sometimes wise parenting has more to do with controlling the variables than disciplining more consistently or using a better technique.

Thoughts on Mom

Unfortunately, our children are watching us. I hate this fact. I have been known to say that our children have all my faults and none of my husband's, and it's true. This is likely because they spend fifty to sixty hours each week more with me than with him.

My husband says "more is caught than taught," and I hate that phrase because it's true, too.

But when I see a child with an attitude problem, the first thing I check is me. First, was I grumpy all morning? Did I act irritated because we had to do school (again)? Though I firmly believe that children naturally love to learn (and also naturally shirk challenges), I also think that children imitate adult attitudes.

All of this to say, we need to watch our own attitudes.

Other Variables

I already explained that my toddler really was getting in trouble for an hour because he was exhausted. I also have a daughter who hates school...if she is hungry. There is no reasoning with that child once her blood sugar plummets. We have regularly scheduled protein snacks (such as cheese or spoonfuls of roasted almond butter) to keep up her love of life and learning.

Tired children are going to be hard-pressed to muster the energy they need to Do Hard Things (like math or obeying).

I agree that children eventually need to learn to work hard even when circumstances aren't perfect. I'm a mommy, and I have to press on and do what needs to be done, even when I'm tired and hungry, right? Even when a child kept me up all night? Even when something is going wrong in my personal life? Yes, yes, and yes.

But children need our mercy. They are still learning to handle their appetites. We teach them to moderate their passions over time, not all at once on Wednesday because they are annoying us. Because of this, we do well to control the variables which incite their passions, which, in turn, helps them form a habit of even temperament (some children more than others, of course).

For Real

Next time, we really will finish up by discussing habit training and discipline.

More Posts in this Series:

-Part I
-Part II

16 March 2011

Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Yesterday's post elicited a comment that I want to address here in a separate post, because it tore at my heart so much, and because my answer is so lengthy. Here it is:
After reading these posts I am more convinced than ever that we have made some less than wise decisions in our parenting. Is it possible to rekindle the imagination of a 12, 10 and 8 year old? My heart is sick...I wish we could get out of American suburbia and all its assaults against the family and our children. I have effectively been a single mom for 2 years and it is so very hard to fight all these things...
I don't know about you all, but every. single. time. that I have realized I have made a major parenting mistake, I have fretted and worried. I have wondered if I have forever damaged my children. For instance, my oldest was inclined, from his earliest years, to stay inside and look at books. I'm like that, too, so we spent many hours indoors, reading aloud. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Charlotte Mason believed that children under nine should be outside for four, five, even six hours per day in good weather. As she listed off the benefits, I realized that though my oldest had gained much from all the thousands of pages we read, he had also missed out on knowing the real things that God made outside in the great wide world.

Knowing the things before knowing the symbols of the things in books is important, she said.

I cringed internally the first time I read that.

So maybe some of you read yesterday's post, and realized that you've been killing your child's imagination accidently through overscheduling or digital overstimulation--things a lot of folks in this culture tell us children must have if they are going to "keep up with their peers."

I don't know what all of you do when you realize you've been wrong, but I'll tell you what I do.

Realize I Can't Mess Up God's Plan
God made children so resilient that He trusted them to us. Incredible, no?

In regards to a child's imagination, one of the things I've realized through reading this book is that destroying it is quite difficult to accomplish. Hunting and raising animals can inspire imagination. So can learning to sew or carve, working in a garden--even digging a hole. Watching men build a skyscraper or a road also works. So does being allowed to do something dangerous (like running on a playground at school or climbing a tree).

The options are endless.

The chances of having done irreparable damage is slim. No one is ever so far fallen that God cannot save him. No living person is beyond redemption.

Which brings us to the next step.

Repentance is a cornerstone of the Christian faith, it is true. But repentance isn't a one-time event in life. Every single time we realize we're heading the wrong direction, and we choose to turn around (with God's help), we are repenting.

I feel like I have repented a thousand times since I got married. Being a wife gave me more opportunities to repent than being single, and being a mother has given me even more.

There is no point in sitting around, berating ourselves for what we have done, the mistakes we have made--especially what we have done in ignorance. Instead, we turn around and look for the better path.

Practical Ideas
In this instance, the better path means not just eliminating some things, but replacing those them with better things. Remember what Esolen said:
Every hour spent in front of the television was an hour not spent doing something else...
The first thing I would suggest is a media fast. Let me give you fair warning: expect withdrawal symptoms! We had a little girl over to our house one time that was in a sad state. Her parents lived in a little tiny RV park without even a playground. In order to keep her occupied, her mother kept her in front of the television for many, many hours each day. When she came to our house, and saw there was no television, she didn't know what to do with herself. She was noticeably irritated and restless.

This is to be expected.

One of the things I have realized is that boredom is an important step in childhood. It is in being bored that children push past the boredom and do imaginative things, such as thinking thoughts or devising games. So step two is: Let them be bored. The older the child, the more informed they need to be. When I realize monumental things like this, I take the child and apologize, explain that Mommy has made a major mistake, and then described what we're going to do differently.

Step three is: Immerse them in good stories. Stories populate the imagination, giving children fodder for their play. Start at the beginning of the Bible (I use the King James because I think it gives them an ear for good literature), and read the stories. Skip the genealogies and laws. Just read one story each day, until you reach the end. Then, you can start over again! In addition to the Bible, expose them to as many good books as you can!

If you don't know where to start, I'd suggest checking out the 1000 Good Books list. It is a great starting place, and one I have resorted to many times over the years. Not all books need to be read aloud, especially if you don't have the time. Acquire some of these books as MP3s and play them in the car as you drive, or in the house as you sit together in the afternoons and evenings.

Step four might be: Teach them something interesting. Do you have a hobby? Can you sew? Do you cook meals? Teach what you know to your children. This, too, stimulates the imagination.

Perhaps the most important thing, though, is: Give them generous amounts of spare time. I wouldn't worry if it seems like they waste it staring up at the ceiling at first. Children who haven't practiced thinking of things to do on their own will be developing this skill, and it will take time and effort on their part. There is no way to skip that step. Of course, taking them to a wide open space somewhere surely assists them.

Go sit at a park or a field and let them run wild. Let them climb and scream. Let them invent games. Bring a ball or a bike to help them get going. Encourage their curiosity by answering any and every question they have. If they come running to you with a bug or a flower, try to know its name. (I keep field guides with me because I hardly know the names of anything.)

Or acquire an interesting animal for them to take care of in their newfound spare time. (Sometimes you can even find animals for free on Craigslist.) We, for instance, keep ducks and are getting rabbits. Children love animals. Buy or borrow books on raising the animals, to help them learn to be good keepers.

All of this will take time--it can't be done on one day. If your husband is in the home, but not on board, be very careful. All of this is not worth interrupting peace in the home. But whatever time you have alone with the children is yours to spend wisely.

And don't forget to pray. The Lord has a heart for you as you labor to do good for your children.

15 March 2011

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child: Method 9

Method Nine is: Distract the Child with the Shallow and Unreal. It is here that we see Esolen get to something he's been hinting at (both subtly and not-so-subtly) all along, and it is best expressed in his subtitle: The Kingdom of Noise. The Kingdom of Noise is not children playing loudly.
It is instead a kind of mental and spiritual interference, like the blitz of tiny explosions in radio static.
Noisy Tactics
TEN WAYS TO DESTROY THE IMAGINATION OF YOUR CHILDThe things which accomplish such perfect, imagination-killing noise include, but are not limited to:
  • Electronic entertainment, such as television, video games, most movies, etc.
  • Herding children in loud crowds (such as at large institutional schools)
    • Here, he considers scale:
      Five people can have a conversation. A thousand people can only make noise.
    • And also environment:
      [T]he walls must be festooned with noise. Behold the great cardboard poster blaring out in loud colors and loud slogans the appropriate sentiments about recycling or global warming. Behold another poster boasting school spirit, or community involvement, or leadership, or some such. Enter a classroom and behold--what can you not behold? A chaos of self-advertisement meets the eye, blue, green, red, pink, yellow, white. Open a schoolbook. Not a page passes without a bright color picture, or an inset, or a smiling cartoon figure teaching you that a noun names a person, place, or thing.
  • The news
  • Commercials
  • Shallow, sloganeering politics
    ...not political thought but a glut of political noise, a great, never-ending garbage dumping of sloganeering, inanity, polling, up-to-the-minute coverage of non-events, polling about polling, coverage about coverage, slogans about slogans, without pause, without anyone stopping to ask a single question about what is Good or True or Beautiful.
  • Other people (if you set the child up for shallow relationships)
    • Which is done by first separating the child from his mother at a young age
      Now take the child from that mother, and place him somewhere else. Not in another home, among different people who love him...Place him in the context of a money-making...industry. Take him to those functional places with tellingly abstract and impersonal names, like the Early Learning Center, or the Tiny Tots Academy. Place him among professional caregivers, rather like people who will walk and feed your dog at the kennel, only much nicer. They will feed the child, will parcel out the child's day with appropriate Learning Activities, will enforce the scheduled Naptime, and will send him home clean, well-fed, generally contented, runny-nosed, patted, played with, and unloved. Thus will his natural hunger for love be filled instead with the pleasantly functional.
    • And then set him up for shallow acquaintanceships later
      There will not be free time to play, or read, or think. Let the child be hustled from one functionary to another, among a welter of children whose parents are availing themselves of the same service. Here is the karate teacher you do not have time to get to know, and all the students in the karate class whom you do not get to know. Here is the piano teacher you do not know, and here are a few of her other pupils in the waiting room, some of the squirming like they are about to see the dentist.
  • Busyness and bustle
This sort of noise avoids developing the child's soul. It hardens the heat, dulls the senses, and numbs the emotions all at once. In choosing a different path, we learn that what Esolen says is true:
Every hour spent in front of the television was an hour not spent doing something else...Moreover, television didn't merely spend the time, it spoiled the time it didn't spend. For everybody has to have some time doing something pointless, like playing cards. But television engaged the imagination in a false and easy way, as playing cards does not. That meant that when a real effort of the imagination was required, the child could not make it. Books would be dull because they were not like television.
Learning to Hear
In the beginning of this chapter, Esolen focuses not on the distracting background noise of contemporary life, but on hearing as the ancients once heard. He shares with us the stories of Homer and Milton, two blind poets who heard their epics before writing them. Milton, for instance, explained that a Heavenly Muse visited him at night.

Esolen then compares this to the modern push for children to be "creative":
The hearing is not just the sharpening of one sense at the expense of another. It is, as the poets struggle to tell us, a kind of receptivity to something that comes to us from without. This is why we can do a fine job curdling the imagination by stressing "creativity," for the creative child is encouraged to think of himself as a little god, with all his bright ideas coming from within. The older tradition has the poet as hearer before he is a crafter of verses. The Muse comes to him.
My oldest child has written a couple truly beautiful poems. Because of this, I had fairly high expectations when he had to write a poem for his exams last week. I was surprised at his response. He was frustrated with me. I'm not a poet, Mom. And you can't do it like that. Do it like what? Upon re-reading the chapter, I think I understand what he was trying to say. He could force a poem, but agood poem comes to you when you least expect it.

It is a gift.

Poetic Knowledge
I couldn't help but think about my favorite book ever ever ever in all of this: Poetic Knowledge. In it, Dr. Taylor tells us that, classically speaking, poetic knowledge is not Knowledge About Poetry, but a sort of intuitive knowing. This sort of knowing is common to normal, healthy children. (Which, I might add, requires the sort of quiet we often associate with peace.) The poetic mode of learning also contains within it a sense of wonder.

This sort of knowledge is not scientific in nature, for its subject is not scientific, either. It is participatory:
Education by the Muses is participatory. To sing a love song is not identical with being in love, but it is to participate somehow in that experience. When a child sees the twinkle of the stars he knows it directly; when he chants the rhyme he knows the twinkling indirectly by participating in it.
This is a sort of sympathy for the reality of the thing.

I also cannot help but believe that this is what Josef Pieper was getting at with his discussion of the revelatory nature of knowledge. Some knowledge--perhaps most knowledge--is not something we can pat ourselves on the back for, as if our combination of IQ and hard work were to our credit. Rather, we are humbled, knowing that some Muse flipped on the proverbial light bulbs in our minds.

Like the greatest poems ever written, then, we find that our own understanding, those flashes of brilliance when it all comes together, are a gift, too.

On the Early Years
The questions we need to ask ourselves, then, are: Do I want to raise a child who can hear in the poetic sense? A child who is soft to wonder? A child whose heart can sympathize with the poets?

If so, we're going to have to protect him from this world full of pointless noise until he is old enough to appreciate inner peace and protect himself.

-Buy the book.
-Visit Cindy's blog to read more book club posts.

14 March 2011

Miscellaneous Musing on Monday (Daylights Savings Edition)

appy Daylight Savings Time! As you know, this is a government conspiracy to destroy napping schedules everywhere. Disrupting family life is what They do best. (Whoever "They" is.) Sunday was the first time in six years that I forgot to set our clocks forward. Si made it to the mission on time okay (he organizes services there once per month), but I missed church, as I spent my morning getting him (plus two children) out the door. Bummer.

In other news...

  • This first one is the announcement you locals have been waiting for! The blog/website for the new Bakersfield Home Education Conference is now up and running, and online pre-registration is available. At least, we think it is. I suppose no one really knows until someone tries to pre-register. My next step is to launch a Facebook page.
  • I have said before, I think, that our family has a goal of "first time obedience" for our children. This is, incidentally, also a goal I have for myself. It ought to go without saying that this phrase has its own limitations. I think it fits well within an overall scheme of wise parenting. I thought Sally Clarkson did a great job hashing out some of her thoughts on this subject. If you want to think through the principle of first-time obedience, and make sure you haven't overextended it, her post is a great first step. (HT: Dawn)
  • Let's file this one under "differences between boys and girls." Boy jumps off Golden Gate bridge for fun.
  • Did the SuperMoon have something to do with the earthquake in Japan? Many astronomers are saying no, but some folks are answering in the affirmative. This theory over at AccuWeather is particularly interesting.
  • All this radiation talk out of Japan is reminding me that I never bought anything for our emergency plan. One of the most effective ways to protect the thyroid in the event of a radioactive threat is to take potassium iodide pills. Remind me why I neglected to do this? The jet stream blows this way from Japan, you know...
  • A side-benefit of owning a gun is that you don't even have to use it. The idea that a home owner might have a gun worried an intruder enough that he (yes the intruder) called 9-1-1 to ask for help! Apparently, owning German shepherds doesn't hurt, either.
An odd collection of links, but that'll do for today.

11 March 2011

2010-2011 Circle Time Plans, Term 3

I can't believe that I'm posting Term Three plans already. Time is just flying by. The format for this past term worked really well as a breakfast Circle Time, and I'm planning to keep it at breakfast, for that is the only time of the day the toddler will sit still for it. It's nice to do it when everyone is fresh in the morning.

Before I post the plans, please note that I am not using the Ambleside-assigned artist for this term. Whenever I switch artists, I try to use a different artist, one Ambleside has studied in the past, before we were school-age. This time, I chose Mary Cassatt, and used all of the selections that Ambleside used back in 2004-2005.

Also, about halfway through the term, I run out of readings for I Wonder Why I Blink? I kept the title in there as a place-holder because I haven't yet decided what I'll do. I am considering I Wonder Why the Sea is Salty: and Other Questions About the Oceans. The little girls seem to be enjoying the first book, so why not acquire another in the series?

Here are my plans:

Circle Time Weekly Schedule 2010-2011 Term 3

I know that some of you like to make your own modified versions of these plans for use with your own children, so below is a list of links to resources that I'm using.

Anyone else posting plans for Term 3? Send me a link in the comments, if you are!