• Archive for April 2014

    Wisdom of Tenderness

    Friday, April 25, 2014

    I've been slowing down, resting more, the full of these months is weighing heavier and heavier, I realized today how much can be accomplished when life slows a little in pace.
    Accomplishments of the heart
    not so much of chores.
    But there are seasons, and the end of a pregnancy is one of those times.
    I have found that as some things are taking less priority while others are flourishing.
     I have had more time to sit, cuddle my littles who will all grow into older siblings within a few weeks.
    I have had time to read, for myself, absorbing words in ways I haven't since the last stage of my last pregnancy.
    I have had time to think and pray.
    It has been nurturing.
    With time and contemplative prayer for my home school I am gathering the somewhat fragmented nuggets of my heart and ideals, and weighed them against what I feel is wisdom for my family's education.
    In so I have found a reoccurring theme, deeply imbedded in my teaching desires.
    I want these years of home-education to be immersed in
    I want the approach, the curricula, the plans, the speech, the shaping and leading and teaching all the hours of these fleeting years to be rooted and covered in a
    Holy Tenderness. 
    I will admit I am not always tender, I have agendas and expectations that crash heavy against my desired tenderness.
    I have students that display a determined dose of self will, frustration and disobedience.
    Homeschooling does not always expose beauty.
    It is not to be over-romanticised.  
    Yet I feel called to this teaching role, I feel humbled at this opportunity and do not want to waist but a moment of these precious years with my children.
    I have learnt from the sobered tears of the older women who weep for the years passed, moments missed, decades hurried through life subtly slipped away never to be regained.
    And so I will try
     for myself 
    to articulate the essentials of our home education founded and rooted in tenderness.
    Tender teaching through the young years

    An education starts from the first deep breath,

    not with flash cards and mobiles turning to Mozart. 

    Not bouncy seats or buzzy toys.

    But genuine love.

    Babies need time, your time.

    They need eye contact and a soft voice.

    They will know peace, from your own peace.

    They need real play!

    Toys that develop ones young abilities.

    Not flashy or noisy!

    Books and music in the classics. Not twaddle or poor quality.  

    They need time, most of the day, to explore and play.

    They need outdoors. Fresh air and unhurried exploration.

    They need slow, slow life, slow living.

    A gentle daily rhythm during their young years.
    Tender teaching through the early stages of education.
    These are the years of side by side schooling. Hand in mine as I lead them to interests.
    They need soft tender speech, and patient guidance.
    I need to  join them at  their level and look into their face and join them where they are at, happy or sad.
    They need a feast of interests presented before them.
    Poetry, music, beautiful captivating stories, art.
    Gently invite them to notice the details of life. A bud unfurling, strokes of an artist, notes of a song.
    Teach them the invaluable gift of attention.
    True education is a lifestyle. A peaceful home opens the doors to engaged play and learning. Creating and surrounding your home with beauty, toys that develop imagination and creativity, music and books that uplift and teach. Your child will naturally learn. Gravitating towards his own interests and developing self directed play and learning, with little to no involvement from a parent. Setting up your home as a learning environment creates an atmosphere of learning.
    When the child is ready, and only with the gentlest guidance, teach letters and numbers, sequencing, and writing.
    Honour the unique learning timeframe God has placed in each individual. There should be no formula for an educational timeline. Each child is the handiwork of God. Unique in learning, gifts, and abilities. Honour the child's maker, and be gentle in teaching. A slower approach to teaching the basics, but peaceful, will keep a young ones mind open and engaged and their hearts will remain yours.
    They need to tell you... about everything! Listen! Pay attention, show interest, and respond. It validates what is going on inside of them, and it shows them you care about who they are! If you listen now, they will continue to talk and include you in their lives in later years.
    These years need an increase in responsibilities. Household chores and character refinement should be an essential part of their education.
    Modeled and gently taught.
    Much time is needed for play.
    Children learn through play. Free play. With real open ended toys and open ended time.
    Lots of time.
    They need outdoors. Fresh air and unhurried exploration.
    They need slow, slow days, slow living.
    They do not need a cluster of lessons, or activities that keep them rushing or are over-stimulating, they need home as much as possible.
    They need a gentle rhythm to their days.
    Avoid (as a parent)
     Obvious frustration with flustered speech and demeanour, over punishment, rushing, unrealistic expectations, late nights, technology, too much 'school book work', distancing their hearts from yours.
    Tender teaching through the middle years

    This age longs for respect. Always look for ways to display your joy in their growing abilities. Show respect for their opinions, ideas and desires, they may not be properly formed or explained, yet they long for your validation and support to mature in this area.

    Laugh with them. The middles have an essential need for laughter, and they need you to laugh along.

     They need your time! Lots of it.

    Provide high quality literature, subjects rich in character who will inspire morals, exploration and adventure.

    Read out-loud to them! Sit together and read!
    Continue to advance their interests in poetry, music, beautiful captivating stories, art.

    Math and reading are staircase subjects built step upon step, continue to gently teach these concepts.  No rushing.  Just one skill mastered upon the next.

    All other subjects of education should be approached tenderly and with a keen interest and love for learning. Keep their brains open and absorbing.  The fastest way to shut the doors of childhood interest is by 'making them know something' giving them a high stack of work books, facts and fill in the blanks and check the boxes; it creates brain blocks, tears and frustration and eventually a death to eager and enthusiastic learning.  Keep information lively and interesting, don't push too fast through a study, instead absorb the content. Always lean into the child's natural interests.

    Advance your education from teaching to experiencing. Take them to symphonies, art galleries, museums, let them hear first hand stories of war veterans and real personal accounts of adventure and lives lived.  Let them experience the real essence of education, first hand.  
    Steadily raise your desires for their execution of projects, neater printing, clearer descriptions, articulation of thoughts and feelings, self management in character and responsibilities.

    At this age they need greater expectations, teach them to bake, mow lawns, mop floors, basic care for the young and the elderly.

    Do not bombard their days with out of home activities.  They need free time.  This is the last stage of play in their lives.  Let them play.  A transition happens in these years from playing an activity to wanting to be productive (baking, creating, building) this is the older way of 'play'.  Allow freedom for the middle years way of play.
    Outdoors is an essential for these years.  Biking, walking, hiking, gardening, swinging, kite flying. Fresh air and being in touch with nature will beautifully aid these years of transition.

    Keep life slow, steady; not too busy yet not allowing for boredom to set in.  
    Avoid (as a parent)
    Treating them like young children.  Speaking down to them.  Not listening to them.  Getting frustrated too easily.  Not giving them enough responsibility.  Expecting too much or too little.  Not showing enough affection (lots of hugs and kisses) keeping them too busy, entertaining with goofy books and TV.
    I cannot go beyond these years, as I have yet to experience the joys of older children.
     I have grieved with families as they have struggled through the 'older years' and the one thing that keeps repeating itself is a parents wish to go back into the young years and let go of their high expectations and busyness and rather display tenderness, a Holy Tenderness towards their children.  To love them with tenderness, to guide them tenderly, and express tenderness through their parental actions of time, speech, heart, body language, expectations, affections, prayer and teaching.

    I have no aim at perfection, only a genuine desire to be a mother and teacher filling the rhythms of our home and hearts with the
    Wisdom of Tenderness  

    Rhythms of Wisdom

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Here in these northern woods we are witnessing the great miracle of spring, her gentle eruptions, over night the dawn birds have returned to sing their awaking beauty, the ice is trickling and life is coming back. We notice something more each day, we cannot keep up with the unfurling of this season.

    Through those long winter months I agonised, even grieved of the idealism of my expectations for nature study, a core in the Charlotte Mason approach to education. Each of us got weary of journaling the grays and whites of winter, life around us lay dormant. I was filled with concern over the few entries my students made in their nature journals. I felt we had missed the point, the very heart of this educational system I believe so fully in.

    All of these long months as winter's scape stretch simple and silent my mind was busy, wondering at the ideals and my fallen expectation. I read the articles, the writings and studies, alarm bells ringing over the loss of childhood and the disassociation a whole generation has with nature. There are labels and dysfunctions rearing up in the over-privileged under-nurtured children of the western world.  

    My husband fills in the blanks of my concern when he tells me of the recent hires he makes for the company he works for. These university educated, multiple degree holders, accolades from the most prestigious private schools, high GPA's and on a resume it is a managers dream to have such educated employees... right?
     He tells me it is not so.
     For the institutionalized brilliance lack one critical ability, to think for themselves, to associate and problem solve when a text book no longer has answers. How does a manager teach an overly educated young adult to think for himself, to awake problem solving and move beyond formulated thinking?

    He says he now hires the farmers sons and young who have a natural interest in life. In interviews he chats about summers on the coast or hiking the Rockies, or building homes on a continent of hot red earth, about putting up hay in the long stretch of prairie summers. Because it's the ones who have tasted life and lived through experience that can make critical decisions in an office.
    Who contribute.

    An ancient king, won the heart of God. He was called a man after God's heart.

    What a Holy Honour.

    He was a murderer, adulterer, he watched his children turn away from the God he so loved.
    I have wondered in light of the faults of this king, what was it that brought such a blessed complement from Heaven?
    Could it be his understanding of God's majesty displayed though nature?
    The great King David's poetry, prayers, Psalms all reference nature.
    He knew the God of nature and he saw His majestic touch swept over this earth.

    All the miraculous details.

    As an educator I want to lead my students to this God and his beauty in our world.
    Not through texts and fill in the blanks, but with a true inquisitive spirit.
    That's what lay dormant all winters long.
    As a mama and teacher I worried.

    But the God of grace lead me to see that spring indeed comes.

    I can be assured God's seasons are filled with wisdom if I am willing to lean into their rhythms.
    With spring my students natural interest are awakening,
     there is not enough time to keep up with their inquires and excitement!

    Why did I worry?
    And so I step back, humbled, realizing yet again that so much of my journey is about learning to become masterly inactive.

    Lean always more into the rhythms of God's gentle wisdom.


    Home Educating Through Spring Fever

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    It is the first week the windows have been opened since autumn stole the warmth, the breeze brought in hope and let out months of winter build up.
    The boys found a puddle oozing with possibilities.
    Them girls have counted five retuning birds, long missed from these woods.
    We all feel this fever of spring.

    We all want to tuck away winters stories and sweaters and live in the fresh of this season.

    I have been wondering about the finish line here in my gabled school room.
    The more home school mamas I talk to the more I realize I am not the only one finding it hard to wrap up what I enthusiastically started as the leaves fell and students were bright with anticipation.

    I ponder

    Should I be more in tuned with the rhythm of the seasons and learn to stage my education around the beckoning wisdom of nature?
    How do I become more an educator brimming with grace then focusing on accomplishments and checkmarks.

    Yet what of outcomes necessary in development of character and education?
    How to know when to stick with it and push through challenges?

    How to keep motivation and vision, year after year?

    How to create simplicity and structure, beauty and imagination through the class room years?

    I am examining my responsibilities and the personal needs gathered under the gables of my schoolroom,
    I sense the need to tuck myself in nearer the heart of heaven and weigh His gentle desires for our home education.

    Spring will unveil newness, I desire to slow my life and what weighs my heart to receive its revelations of beauty.

    I may write as I learn more about the heart of my Father for our gabled school room.  


    The Kitchen: Trim Healthy Mama Pumpkin Muffins (sugar & grain free)

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

    Before we leave the kitchen can I share a little goodness that has been a nice companion to my mid-day coffee oasis.
    I have mentioned here before that I have been sugar free for this whole pregnancy! This has been such a gift, my energy has been stable, my moods even and I have gained only a healthy amount of weight. I believe these benefits have come because I have been sugar free. One of the main recourses that have helped guide this journey is the Trim Healthy Mama approach. I have made many of the desert and baking recipes from this book, I have liked many of them but this one really hit the spot with my cravings... pumpkin... who knew you could crave that?
    These muffins have a lovely yellow colour that leads in the memory of spring,
    yet the aromas of pumpkin and spice fill your home with the warmth still needed in these northern woods.
    I 'mostly' fallowed the Easy Peazy Cinnamon Muffin recipe on pg#262, I made the pumpkin version from pg.# 264. I adapted the sweetener amount from 12 tsp. down to 5 tsp., and I added 1/2 cup crushed walnuts. I also mixed half flax meal with half almond flour.
    Easy Peazy Pumpkin Muffins (S-Snack)
    Wet Directions
    Into blender put 5 eggs.
    3/4 cup and 1 Tbs. water
    3 Tbs. oil (coconut)
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1/3 cup pumpkin puree
    Blend well for 20 seconds.
    Dry Directions
    2 cups golden flax meal ( I used 1 cup flax meal and 1 cup almond flour)
    1 tsp. baking powder and 1 tsp. baking soda
    2 tsp. cinnamon
    1 tsp. each of nutmeg and allspice
    12 tsp. Truvia (I used only 5 tsp.)
    Mix your wet and dry ingredients. Let mixture sit for five minutes on counter top. Place in greased muffin pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
    Pumpkin Whipped Topping
    For the topping I combined a few ideas for a icing-whip
    In a mixing bowl place
    8 oz. Light cream cheese
    1/3 cup pumpkin puree
    1/2 tsp. vanilla
    2 tsp truvia (or to personal taste)
    Whip together until fluffy
    add and gently whip in
    1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
    Cover the cooled muffins with this topping, and for a dramatic and tasteful flourish I sprinkled with a little cinnamon sweetener (truvia and cinnamon mixed like cinnamon sugar)
    This recipe is clean nutrition, healthy and very satisfying!