Saturday, January 26, 2013

Classical Education in Our Home - part 2

Part two has been a long time coming! My only excuse is that our family life has been in huge upheaval over the past year...but we are finally re-employed, relocated, re-establishing and ready to start again. You can read my blog post from December 2009 - we are living out that post :)

So, today's question is: what led us to a Classical Education in our home?

Just before we started full time homeschooling - after one year of homeschooling our oldest, a move, another baby, and a few more years of public school - I was a discussion leader in Bible Study Fellowship, which meant a trip to Indianapolis for a retreat. The retreat was wonderful, but the most life-changing event wasn't in the teaching, or the discussion sessions, or in my personal Bible study - it was one little phrase that the BSF Director (Rosemary Jensen) used as she shared her personal story: "classical education."

Once I found out WHAT a classical education was, the next task was to figure out how to implement it in our home school. This was the mid-1990's, before "The Well-Trained Mind", Veritas Press, "Teaching the Trivium" or Memoria Press. Before "Latina Christiana". Even before most literature-based curricula (Sonlight was launched around 1994).

And, believe it or not, this was before the explosion of the internet. I couldn't Google for information, there were no companies out there with web-sites, there were no forum, no e-loops...Sigh. I'm feeling old.

But, God was leading (as always), and we started homeschooling with the resources available, hoping that we would eventually work into a Classical mode.

Friday, March 23, 2012

"How do I Discipline My Strong-Willed 13 Year Old?"

This is hard. A 13-year-old isn't a little child anymore, but isn't an adult either. At 13 they're working hard to become the adult they're going to be, and because of that there's a LOT of friction.

As parents, we need to strike a balance between maintaining our authority and family order (rules, discipline), and allowing our young people to become the individuals God has made them to be.

With a younger child, you are in authority because you are the parent. With an older child, they have to be willing to submit to your authority. This is something that is much easier if they already have the habit of submitting to you from their younger years, but if you've been butting heads his entire life (as I assume from your "strong willed" comment), he hasn't done anything willingly. Ever.

IMHO, your job will be to 1) pray, and 2) help him make the right, God-honoring decisions for his life, including continuing to live under your authority until he's grown, and 3) continue praying.

Also, IMHO, the worst thing you can do is try to force your authority on him. He will only rebel, making things much worse. Keep in mind he is no longer a child - treat him as a young, inexperienced adult. Expect him to be able to make adult decisions and take adult consequences. (Within the confines of his age - a 13 yo's consequences should look very different from an 18 yo's consequences). Give him adult responsibilities (perhaps setting his own bedtime on weekends - making it clear he's expected to be responsible for his commitments in the morning too, such as getting up for church on time) and help him make adult choices with much input and discussion from you.

This is the age to be honest with your son - not to the point of revealing the intimate details of your younger years, but sharing some of the struggles and accomplishments you had when you were his age. Let him know you understand what he's going through - even though he'll say you can't understand.

Let him earn your trust in little things, and then trust him with bigger things.

And do devotions with him - Elisabeth Elliot's "The Mark of a Man" is a book I used with my boys. Their father spends other time with them - discussing theology, politics, etc.

I know I haven't given you a quick fix answer, but there isn't one. Of course, while you work on the big picture, you must insist that he follow the family rules and respect you (especially if there are younger siblings around) - but it goes two ways. You must respect him, too.

A thirteen year old longs for the same unconditional love you gave him when he was three. Remember toilet training? And the entire gallons of milk spilled on the floor? And eating the dog food? Draw on the same God-given patience and love you had then.

Oh, and hormones. Don't forget to take raging hormones into account. Give him a LOT of outdoor activity. At this age my boys went camping every month (year around) with their Boy Scout troop. That helped immensely with the urge to do Big Things.

And I just realized I've been addressing this as if your child is a boy, but you didn't say. The same advice goes for girls, too, except they also benefit from godly older girls who are willing to share their lives with them. Girls need friends - we learn more from talking than doing, it seems!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Glimpse of the Black Hills

 How can I give you a taste of the Black Hills?

You can get an idea of the grandeur from this picture of Harney Peak - it's in the distance, in the center of the picture, several miles from us. It's the tallest mountain between the Rockies and the Pyrenees.

Between us and Harney Peak lies the Black Elk Wilderness Area. Acres and acres of Ponderosa Pines (like the ones in the foreground) that inspired the Lakota to call these hills "Paha Sapa".

Yup, you guessed it, paha sapa means "black hills".

 But in the midst of all this grandeur, you have the details. This is a bed of rose quartz. It runs in a vein through a huge rock formation.

You'll find things like this all over the Black Hills - this particular spot is at the back side of Mt. Rushmore.

South of here, on the other side of Mt. Rushmore, the area abounds in mica. I wish I could get a picture to do it justice.

We like to say the Black Hills have "bling". It shines in the sun like shards of broken glass, carpeting the trail and roadsides with sparkles. Sometimes you can pick up a single, translucent layer of rock, tissue-thin, that will crumble to dust between your fingers if you're not careful.

 Did I say huge rock formations? This is another one - just down the trail from where I took the picture of the rose quartz.

And that's my 6 foot tall, 18-year-old son up there.
 Even though it was 65 degrees last Saturday, there's still snow in the sheltered spots.

Pictures are so limited though, aren't they? They can't do justice to the experience.

You can't hear the wind sighing in the tops of the trees.

Or the ...quiet...

       ...only disturbed by an occasional bird pecking and scratching at the trees, searching for an early beetle or two.

 You can't smell the rich odor of sun baked pine needles...

...or the absolute freshness of clean air...

       ....air so clean you can see fifty miles.

And you can't feel the spine of the earth under the soles of your shoes as you search for sure footing over the rocks...

But I hope you can catch some of the feeling I get when I look down a trail leading through the forest...

I wonder what's around that bend?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Luxury of Mother Culture

I’m immersing myself in “Mother Culture”* – a luxury I’m able to give myself now that the children are older. When they were younger, I was only able to devote a few hours a month to it, if that…

As we journeyed together through the children’s grammar and logic stages, my education and interests followed right along with the children.

My education was at the grammar stage.

No matter how old you are that’s where learning starts…

But now, as old as I am, education is taking on new meaning. No longer learning to please others, or to teach others, I find a new freedom in setting my own courses, my own hours.
Building on what I’ve spent the last 12 years teaching…
…Greek, Latin, Theology…

…dabbling in some modern languages…
…memorizing poems and scripture…
…and reading, reading, reading…
This is a wonderful way to spend a few hours a day…pure luxury.

*”Mother Culture” is a term familiar to Charlotte Mason enthusiasts – a term coined and popularized by Karen Andreola. You can find her definition of it here: 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Have a Thrifty, Frugal Christmas!

You know the song, “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas”, right? Well, start humming and then add in the words:

Have a thrifty, frugal Christmas!                          
It’s the best time of the year,
I don’t know, if there’ll be snow
But the family will have cheer!

Have a thrifty, frugal Christmas,
And when you see your children smile,
You’ll know they’ll remember this
For years and years with bliss.

Ho ho, the Spirit’s glow
Shining in your home,
This is what you’re waiting for,
The Savior Christ has come!

Have a thrifty, frugal Christmas!
And in case you didn’t hear,
You can simply
Have a holly, jolly Christmas
This year!

Did you have fun with the silly sing-a-long?

But mostly, did you get the message?

Christmas is….Christmas. 

And the message of Christmas is that
Jesus came to earth…
                                   God promised,
to live a sinless life…
                                            …as God promised,
to make the perfect sacrifice…
                                            …as God promised.

The manger and the cross. What more do we need?

When you’re planning your family Christmas celebration, remember that we don’t need all that stuff that we would like to buy….

Simplify your Christmas this year – hold on to dear traditions, but don’t fall into the trap of lights, candy, loads of food, and presents and more presents…

Give yourself….

…make cookies with your little ones
…read a book together

…play games together

…volunteer to ring the bell for the Salvation Army




Have a thrifty, frugal, simply awe-filled Christmas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Classical Education in our Home part 5: The Homeschool Mom

Homeschooling is more than just keeping the children home for school.

A homeschool mom is


Pursuing her own education

 What do you want your children to learn? 

I wanted my children to understand the times and the world they inhabit, the result of a classical education, so I had to learn to understand them myself. Part of learning classically is having a large view of history, philosophy, science, and God. Does that sound like an overwhelming task?

It can be if you let it. So don’t let it be overwhelming! Trust God to teach you what you need to know when you need to know it. Learn along with your children.

Remember, learning is a building process. You can’t open up your head and pour information into it any more than you can do that to your children.

                Layer upon layer upon layer.

Start with what you already know – if you’re like me, it’s very little – and then look ahead to the next thing you don’t know.

I didn’t know the timeline of history. Okay, I knew the Middle Ages came after the Roman Empire….and that’s about it.

So I bought a copy of Diana Waring’s “What in the World’s Going on Here?” tape set – it’s an overview of Judeo-Christian history. I listened to it a couple times, but never used it in our homeschool, because the children were too young when we owned it. But it opened up doors for me – it gave me the overview of history that I had been missing.

             It was the hook to hang all my other history learning on. That's what an overview is good for!

Every subject was like that. I was a babe teaching babes, 

but at least through educating myself a step ahead of my children, I wasn’t going into that woods completely blind.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Sunshine

Autumn is here.

This new place has yellow leaves

No reds
Just yellow

But what a yellow!

Bits of sunshine against the dark Ponderosa Pines flash in a treasured memory for the white days ahead…