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” 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these. 28 Now if God clothe in this manner the grass that is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more you, O ye of little faith? 29 And seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink: and be not lifted up on high. 30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek. But your Father knoweth that you have need of these things. 31 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. 32 Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom. 33 Sell what you possess and give alms. Make to yourselves bags which grow not old, a treasure in heaven which faileth not: where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands.”

I love following the threads at 4Real.  They really help me to think my own thoughts on oh so many issues regarding homeschooling, parenting, faith and my children (not in any particular order).

There was a post the other day that really got me thinking…and remembering.

About this time 2 years ago I was starting to plan for high school homeschooling for the first time.

Ordinarily, during planning time, I would pull out my notes that I had been accumulating throughout the year.  These planning notes mostly came from a  spiral bound notebook I always had with me for fast scribbling when an impulse would hit me to try something new or take a new direction.

Hasn’t it ever happened to you??  ~Distraction! …Here I would be

~armed with my coffee(in my pre-pregnancy state…or would that be post-pregnancy..hmmm..I mean, caffeine only in a non pregnancy state but something hot nonetheless)  and running the circus…all the players assembled around me working.   I would be watching the children with that day’s work and  I would begin to see these already implemented plans beginning to bear fruit.  Mind you, the process is not idillyic or smooth running…remember!  I am an optimist.  I see good even in its distressing disguise [:)]

It typically would hit right about then…wanting to change things or tweak things…which could be disruptive.  I had to compose myself…I felt like a kid in a candy store the day after lent was over! I wanted to try it all.  I found that scribbling in my “Mommy’s Brain in a Book” was the BEST thing I could do at that moment.   It was my way of ‘sitting on my hands’ when I wanted to bolt to the shelves or the computer or the library (all at the same time ….at just THAT moment) which would of course disrupt learning and cause me to lose my audience.  I had a plan and I was going to work it, but I had to scribble to leave me room for inspiration that could be implemented LATER…like the next day or week….not right then. Disordered creativity doesn’t help anyone…it only causes frustration…even just for the note “Make copies of coloring page for 5yodd” would be recorded or “buy dress shoes for 7yo before Sunday”.  I would write ANYTHING that would make me move or distract me so I could stay on track.   There is no guarantee I will remember anything if I don’t write it down.   Be patient with me if you call.  I have to write down the fact that “I can’t talk to you now and I will call you back later”  or I will forget when I place the phone in the receiver.

So, ideas  both big and small, scholastic and domestic were pressed into the “Mommy’s Brain in a Book” book.  This would be used with a variety of other homeschool sources to plan things out later, editing out the non-essential of course!  In some cases,  I had been planning almost 2 years ahead, but that was for elementary school.  I was wondering if the stakes were changing for high school and was I prepared for it?  I have to admit to feeling unsettled and unsure of how to proceed as my eldests had some processing issues and I wasn’t too sure how that would work if they were planning on being in a college setting.  They were improving by leaps and bounds, but would that trend continue?

I also considered their younger brother, Young Einstein, and that he would be college material by the time the high school experience was over, but what would HE need?  He is gifted in some ways.  I could see a young engineer budding here…that would take some careful consideration.  He would need a well-rounded education to be sure…logic, latin, writing, science, math…..and more…

I have always enjoyed using an eclectic combination of several ‘methods’ such as Montessori, Catholic Charlotte Mason (lots of living books), Classical…etc…sometimes in an unschooly kind of way in that we followed lots of rabbit trails when the interest in a particular subject was high.   I just LOVED gleaning this way!  It fired me up to do more. In those circumstances they studied far more than ever would be required of them just for the joy of learning a new thing…  could I keep that up?

I love sliding along through the stacks of books and inspiration with a touch of enthusiasm.  After all there is only so much tugging and pulling I can do with some of the children.  I would rather leave those kind of battles to the laundry monster or any of the other unpopular chores they also had to accomplish.  I wanted learning to be an adventure (wherever possible) in that even if I had to poke an prod a little, the process would soon (usually after 15-20 minutes..I TIMED it one day) pick them up and build their confidence and propel them ahead into learning.  The first 15-20 minutes took FOREVER but the last 2 hours FLEW! I was comfortable with this and then you throw the monkey wrench of SATs and whatever other monsters that might be ‘lurking under the bed’ and I get a little weak in the knees.

But I did it.  I prayed and I figured it out.  After all, that business of the children is really just ENTRUSTED to me..they really are God’s and He knows what He is about….even with beautiful talented girls with processing issues.  I had to trust in that and just move forward knowing that their crosses were no fault of my own.  I had to help them carry them…not jump on the back of them and make them heavier by “trying to keep up with the Joneses” .  They learned how to talk and to walk and to read and to write,  and so on with steady progress.  There was NO WAY I could go through our day with anything less than sacrifical peace.  Sacrificial in the sense that I would do all I could to help and I shouldn’t sweat the bumps along the way.  What good would it do to offer a curricula and have not love…something to that effect.  My daughters even told me that if they went to college, they would more than not study theology and teach outdoor survival and maybe get into domestic sustainable farming…hmm

Then with Young Einstein,, who was doing much of the same work with his older sisters would be going to college and majoring in something to do with math and science….

I really needed a planning hand to hold.  I consulted my Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum book, and CHC’s High School planning book and a few other planning books that I used as place markers to make sure all of the concepts were covered in each subject.  The most unlikely place I found a helping hand was already on my shelf.  I had purchased the books for making lapbooks, but I realized that they were full of lists that would help me ensure that if the children continued to pursue their own interests in a particuar subject, like…WWI in 20th Century History…they had basic points covered in their notes.  These books helped them take notes and include what they would need in order for the NOTES to be a good review tool.  I didn’t expect them to make them into lapbooks, I expected their notebooks to trigger their memory quickly…ok..there are 2 things to compare here…here are the important dates to remember…here are

I had to steer the ship for high school and yet still cover grammar school (K-5 ATM)  I needed some good overview lists to make sure each individual person covered the subject areas needed as well as each group…without being tightfisted about them.    I decided that the twins were either freshmen this year  if I ‘hold them back a year’ or sophomores if they decided they want to finish up quickly but I wouldn’t alter the course of their learning…they can do it on their own muster in three or slower in 4 it is up to them at this point.

  • Freshmen  the twins (16yo)  and Young Einstein (14yo)
  • 4-5th grade dd(9) and ds(10)
  • K-1st grade dd(5) and ds(7)

I divided the groups then I divided the data..

  • subects
  • skills
  • extra projects by season
  • individual goals
  • family goals
  • book lists
  • library lists

Each child had their own planning/assignment book and they have to ck in with me during the course of the week to adjust goals and to review whatever was covered.  We were looking for areas of improvement and areas that still needed tweaking.  In these books were also kept extensive reading lists.  This one was hard to stay on top of because they didn’t always want to write everything down.  But, by having the weekly meeting with mom(teacher) and the weekly report with dad (principal)  it became something they were proud of….confidence goes a long way …especially with a certain 10yo here…

Well, in hindsight, I guess we did all of those things.  God has a unique plan for all of them and I have been praying about that for a long time.  I was praying I wouldn’t ‘get in the way’ of His Grace either.

But your Father knoweth that you have need of these things. 31 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you…

I am still planning on the twins attending a good Catholic college (only God knows where that $$ is coming from..and if Young Einstein goes the same year??!!  …ONE day at a time, Mama!)  and at the same time I am relaxing my fearful heart over if what we are doing is good enough.  I can see looking back, they are still going strong and making steady improvements.  They are growing in grace and I feel the Spirit blowing strong with them some days.  It took me some time to figure out a new way to ‘plan’ for the year and still meet the objectives that they would need for any potential college.  I sometimes worry about
TIME

and well…I have learned to put prayer before all things and put religion first during the day (at least in some form) and it does make the road a bit less scary to travel from a gulp, I am in charge of all of these people and all that they …..etc…perspective

Back to the 4 Real post though…

I identified the one subject that made me uncomfortable planning for high school and that was science….  I realized that I had somethings at my disposal to help in that area.  I have a few high school and college texts that I just picked up at the thrift store or garage sales…so I could see WHAT was being covered and HOW.  The creative mommy in me wanted learning to be fun and meaningful.  I wanted them to remember.  I hadn’t found a text for the high schoolers that I was sure would be a good fit.  I was wondering if I could continue using mostly living books to cover this subject.  I loved MacBeth’s Opinion…and other such resources, but would that be enough?

I then perused my shelves and found these resources:

Science Scope by Kathryn Stout is a great resource book I picked up years ago.  It was recommended to me as an excellent resource for people who like to plan their own path and it DOES help planning things. I realized that despite my discomfort doing a CMish type of high school science, I found my children work that way best and this resource helped me keep my place. I also needed a way to keep them on track in their note-taking as their notebooks weren’t cutting it as good review tools. I wanted them to remember at a glance. It is one of those books that have earned their keep on the shelves.

There is a simple little checklist in the back of the book where I can plug in each child’s name(ok just 5 of them at a time [LOL] and the level covered (primary, intermediate, junior, sr high) It is easy for me to eyeball if someone has missed something. A lot less remembering on my part (I am starting to feel challenged in that area as I am divided amongst so many)  So it helped me focus on high school level and helped me keep track of the progress the others needed to take to get there.

I actually used Science Scope alongside the Dinah Zike science books
and used Dinah’s recommendations to facilitate teaching them note taking in each area so they have good coverage in their notes….
Big Book of Science – Elementary K-6]Big Book of Science for K-6
Big Book of Science for Middle School and High School]Big Book of Science for Middle and High School

Dinah has lists that are divided into subject area, skills to be covered and how many parts to include in their notes…a visual/kinesthetic must for several of my children. I felt that at least so far (even with an elementary through a  9-10th grade level in the upper ranks now) we have what we need covered.

We then used this book so they could alter the foldables (if they didn’t want to make a big project of their work) so they could easily be created on they fly and fit nicely into their composition books or binders wihout added bulk using ordinary notebook paper and highlighters and such:
Notebook Foldables

So I did learn that if I feel a bit’ prickly in the skin’ at teaching and being accountable for one subject or another to have some kind of spine or list to keep me on track.…the blood pressure goes at  more of an even keel that way…

I have one other of Kathryn Stout’s books Maximum Math, and it has helped us tremendously keeping a birds eye view on everyone knowing what they are doing and where they are going next…it made for easier projects and rabbit trails for K-8. As with Science Scope, I could make sure we covered everything. They were ‘my’ planning spines. It was my way of making sure that they had a syllabus to follow even though we didn’t fit well with syllabi but the kids wanted to know when they studied on their own ‘what came next’ and ‘how much do I do” I am VERY visual and I needed help and I think I have FINALLY? got it!??

At the end of the day, I realize that what really counts that I continue to discern and pray and put all things in God’s hands…not to mention work with my HEART.    I LOVE my vocation and part of that is my calling to homeschooling.  It is so much easier to love in my vocation and love my vocation when my heart is fully in it and that means my heart must be fully in God.  I treasure every fleeting moment I have been gifted with as I learn beside my children.  They are my gift.  I am blessed.

34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (more…)

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I have been off the computer for a few weeks due to a messy hard drive crash.

I did use my time wisely, though.  My laundry is looking better (I reduced the pile by HALF!) and I have been re-organizing our learning spaces.  I need more time though…  (I won’t even deny that I wonder how I was able to get so much done…it WASN’T the lack of computer….really.)

It is odd to find funny things in your life and not actually blog them.  (I get through some general ick by thinking: “and how could I blog THIS” and it takes the heat off…LOL)  But, I did write  funny things on a piece of paper…You know, the ‘old fashioned’ way?  Now to FIND them… like this:

One night while finishing up a meal of yummy BBQ chicken, sunshine boy (6) was told by his Daddy:  “Go, wash up!”

Sunshine boy was heard scrubbing and bubbling in the bathroom for quite some time…and emerged later holding his hands flat (palms upward) in front of him..”Dad?  I tried and TRIED and I just CAN’T get these LINES off! ( he was rubbing his fingertips really hard and showing them to his dad.

Dad: “Those are your FINGERPRINTS and they aren’t meant to wash off!

Sunshine Boy: (Grinning from ear-to-ear)  “Oh Yeah!” and he happily skipped off to play.

The library and I are on better terms.  I am learning to use inter-library loan better and I really wish that the books they found worthy to be on their shelves were of better quality.  I did find however, that if I get out a book I should check back there the next day because it would often be placed out for SALE…sigh!

Well…off to do… more and more of …whatever it is I do…

(I do so much these days, I have no clue what it is called.  The work goes around the labeling part of my brain…to protect me, perhaps ;o) LOL!…my hands and feet just keep on moving and my lips and heart keep on praying!)

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Some of my favorite workbooks can be so expensive to purchase 8 times (or more!) so I have found that an inexpensive option is making them re-usable by laminating them.

I am placing each dismantled sheet in a letter-sized laminating pouch and feeding it to my inexpensive duck laminator (that I purchased from Walmart) and storing them in my file cabinet in a large labeled folder for each dismantled workbook. I found it easy to keep like pages together by running a sharpie around the outside edge of the laminated card to tint it a bit. That way red cards go back with the red cards. When I get really good, I will color coordinate the folder to match the cards. I am just not THAT good…yet 😉

I place a few of these double-sided laminated cards out on the school shelves (separated by subject) in a magazine holder for use and replace when needed. I am still deciding what kind of marker to use for this…right now it is a marker that I keep in a little holder attached to the magazine holder and a colorful rag to wipe it off with that is pinked from a beautiful piece of remnant fabric.

This does save me a ton of visual space on the school shelves, looks neat, and you can find what you need at a glance. …that, and if my soon to be highly mobile toddler knocks it off the shelf, it is somewhat durable and I don’t have that much to pick up! 😉

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I and several of my dc are very visual learners. I hit up the thrift store recently and found a collection of small photo books (the kind that looks like a bunch of page protectors in a stiff cover) (Move over Pottery Barn Kids…learning spaces I covet on a regular basis [:$] )

photo album book had the idea of placing timeline cards in these books and having the kids narrate everything they can remember about the person and approximate time period. The beauty of this is that I don’t have to commit any one image to any one child. We can view them in the books or pull them out for a moveable timeline or play games with them…etc…

I have been known to use timeline cards on a moveable timeline….
but, this is different…fresh…new….aaand there is chocolate involved as a bribe learning incentive!
I use the cards from Our Father’s House’s program The ABC’s of Christian Culture and RC History cards.
The heck with using these hand-held books for family albums! I can make a “Jesus’ family album” for Salvation History studies…..etc… and then! I thought about having my middle aged children write the text to put in these books on the opposing page….hmmm…. I am still fleshing this out a bit. These books are right with my history center on my history learning shelf.

I have so many ideas lately that my head hurts. (Although I really think the ache is from my pulled muscle under my shoulder blade from scrubbing that one wall in the kitchen….)

I am decluttering for school. Whenever this happens, I get a better sense of what I have and what I can do with what I already got. And right now I already got too many ideas and too little of me to go around.

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Passed on to me by a dear friend Lots of wonderful homeschooling links!

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As I sit here with many windows open on my computer…searching sites, organizing bookmarks andLesson_planning_2

trying to jot my many thoughts into Word documents from my scribble books (spiral bound Mommy inspiration books gathered from the far corners of the house where they are strewed).   I am looking for inspiration as to how to piece this upcoming school year together.  I kinda feel like I am putting a 1000 piece puzzle together and sometimes even using a pair of scissors, a large mallet,  and some super-glue for the stubborn parts that I think should fit and won’t.  (I guess you could call that building an original…LOL)  I struggle a bit to make the big picture clear.  I don’t want it to be ME that gets in the way of success.  If I got in the way I would create a distorted picture like my 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  I need to use God’s spectacles on this project.  I gotta have a plan….a framework.  I need the proper tools and a good work ethic (including being open to use inspiration to the point of having a  willingness for perspiration..hey!  It is good exercise for the heart and that is a GOOD thing😉 ahem… and the ability to sit on my hands and bite my tongue if necessary)  and I want to build in many of the attributes of the divine builder.  I LIVE to be creative and I want to include a kind of thrill into learning….a sense of wonder.  I ask myself so much about each subject, each book, each idea… so many questions really.. like…

  • can I do this with more than one child at a time so we can involve as many of them in idea sharing and meaningful discussion and/or projects as I can?
  • is any idea or goal set for any of the children… beautiful… in some way?…
  • is it dry and boring or does it open the mind up to want to explore and learn more?
  • is it a real or just an ideal?
  • can I really do this in real time even with distractions and demands being made of me
  • will it make me a successful multi-tasker because it has an extra steering wheel built into it that helps the child to be self motivated and drive on his own at times so I am not steering allll of the time and he thinks the work is HIS and not just something I am making him do….
  • can this child find inspiration in this ?
  • can this child learn this abstract subject or can we build something that will lead them from 3D work into abstraction with seemingly difficult obstacles like math for the learning challenged…ala Montessori?

Yes, my thoughts run all over the place.  I wanted to have so many of my plans done already, but the Holy Spirit is directing me in a whole new way this time and I am trying to catch hold of that whisper He has placed on my heart.  It is like I have to keep sketching away until I can see the common thread that makes all the points come together in a usable format.  I am feeling like an evolving homeschooler…more seasoned…becoming more perfected at finding much practical living in all seasons…sickness and health.  I want to be successful in God’s terms if not in my own as well.  This is His deal anyway…He the playright and I am chief steward of the whole shebang…
No pressure ;o)…ah! to hear the words…"Well done my good and faithful servant…"

Little_red_schoolhouse_zoom_2
I want to see the potential of each child and help him fill himself with so much of life…living books, living ideas…a real learning environment.  I want him to own the information, to retain information given  and take what we have learned to new levels of understanding, new applications.  If they learn it they should be able to teach it and make it understandable to others…right?  I want them to teach me and each other.  I want to "share the love"…for any kind of discovery they make, I really want it to be contagious.  I want them to share the treasure they have found.

It reminds me of the game that my almost 12yo ds likes to play with his
siblings.  He likes to create treasure maps and leads his eager and
giggling siblings on rabbit trails finding clues to the ultimate hiding
place…He is selfless in his efforts and is very eager to see each
person delighting in the connections he sets up for each of them…He
makes it very personal and yet something for the whole of them at the
same time.  This game is played again and again…and as it is
practiced it becomes even more crafty and involved.  It reminds me also
of what every day of a good school day has been for us.

I even want the older ones to learn some Montessori presentations and like a well trained magician or actor, whichever you prefer, with a well trained eye and heart, share something AWESOME with the younger set.  I want them to learn the art of mentoring.  I also want the older ones to glean that there is a concrete reality to many of the abstract things they do now.  I want them to SEE with more than one sense how simply ordered subjects like math are so they can handle the abstract work with more finesse.  I have mentioned in the past that this technique works very well with my one dd who has some math and spelling issues.  Working with the younger ones is ironing out the kinks in some of her understanding.  She uses the natural strength and gift she has of leading the young ones effortlessly to aid her with her struggle with mastery of the order of numbers and letters.  She is looking at the whole thing from a different perspective now that she is older and it makes deeper sense to her.

I want to include training for all the senses..things to see, hear, touch, taste….Montessori presentations do this so well!…oh the fun games we could make from this idea!

I want to prepare the teacher in myself and yet want to prepare the inner teacher in each of my children using the budget God gave me, whether it be my time, money or talent. (oh the DREAMS I have for an unlimited budget…but much is to be learned by thrift too…God makes mountains out of what I perceive as my molehills….He has shown me that time and again if I have the eyes to see it.)   I have high dreams of doing more…God is giving me "sufficient" tools to build awesome structures…He must trust me a lot.  I am not overwhelmed with the prospect, quite the opposite…I see this as His great work and I am a player in it…I am awed by His way of doing things..making connections.  I can remember of a few occasions ..ok more than a few occasions… when God made a common thread appear throughout many of the subjects we were studying and it excited us to learn more…we kinda felt like we were on God’s rabbit trail…getting to know him in the beauty of nature, poetry, hear Him whispering throughout history and see His fingerprints all over this wonderful world that He created…

So I prayerfully discern…
I  want to work on development of habits and challenge ourselves with many subjects to train our minds toward good…giving each child a taste of great thoughts, ideas and art etc…I want to build in the beautiful.

  lol…I really don’t think there is a label for who we are, how we learn, or even proof of a perfectly checked off planning sheet to show we are perfect or admirable in our ideas or follow-through.  I know we could never be perfect anything, just the willing participants during  this grand time together..all be it all too short…to learn as a family…to grow and mature in grace and wisdom before both God and man.  We need a mission statement…maybe we should build that one together, too…

So then enters the time of my discernment as to how to put the pieces together and form a curriculum…I am praying about it…a novena for discernment.  At any time during the year, when inspiration hits, I hurry to type into a ready made word document or a spiral bound notebook…  Now I am taking that information and running with it.  I bookmark sites that I want us to explore together…print out booklists, pull books from shelves or  out of curricula catalogs and compile many lists for the library and then I turn around and look at the house…our learning places… and I want all my ideas and ideals compiled into  a full experience in a prepared environment.

Ok…so THAT must mean … the house needs planning too…(hmmm need to work more on that).

Constantly tweaking, I am ideally striving for chores that run themselves…like at a seasoned toothbrushing stage(you do it well without too much mental effort).

The end result, or the reality of all of this is more of a framework set in such a way that we can fall back on something when things get too interrupted by life’s events and build on something for future learning experiences.  So a framework building we go… ok lets see….to check it all off…
a framework that in addition to curricula and chores and habits training, must also include meal planning so menus are easy to prepare (and note to self…. that also includes a clean fridge) and never forgetting a deep prayer life full of meaningful encounters with God in the Liturgical year. 

I want a  stage set for success…and when this or any other of the stages I am preparing needs a good broom and a proper airing we will take the time off to set things to rights again.    So I really don’t want to have to use a pair of scissors any glue or a mallet to form my work of art.  I just want a good picture to focus on and enjoy.  I want it to be something that each child as well as myself can recognize and enjoy TOGETHER.  Am I reaching for perfection or just simplicity…just simplicity, at least I am pretty sure of this…so we can "simply live" and live fully.  Simplicity takes tweaking and work…I am up for that.  And as for live fully part, I want to live fully the liturgical year…and as a natural consequence I want us to be living our school year in the classroom of The Holy Family in a God-centered, family centered existence.

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As I sit here with many windows open on my computer…searching sites, organizing bookmarks andLesson_planning_2

trying to jot my many thoughts into Word documents from my scribble books (spiral bound Mommy inspiration books gathered from the far corners of the house where they are strewed).   I am looking for inspiration as to how to piece this upcoming school year together.  I kinda feel like I am putting a 1000 piece puzzle together and sometimes even using a pair of scissors, a large mallet,  and some super-glue for the stubborn parts that I think should fit and won’t.  (I guess you could call that building an original…LOL)  I struggle a bit to make the big picture clear.  I don’t want it to be ME that gets in the way of success.  If I got in the way I would create a distorted picture like my 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  I need to use God’s spectacles on this project.  I gotta have a plan….a framework.  I need the proper tools and a good work ethic (including being open to use inspiration to the point of having a  willingness for perspiration..hey!  It is good exercise for the heart and that is a GOOD thing😉 ahem… and the ability to sit on my hands and bite my tongue if necessary)  and I want to build in many of the attributes of the divine builder.  I LIVE to be creative and I want to include a kind of thrill into learning….a sense of wonder.  I ask myself so much about each subject, each book, each idea… so many questions really.. like…

  • can I do this with more than one child at a time so we can involve as many of them in idea sharing and meaningful discussion and/or projects as I can?
  • is any idea or goal set for any of the children… beautiful… in some way?…
  • is it dry and boring or does it open the mind up to want to explore and learn more?
  • is it a real or just an ideal?
  • can I really do this in real time even with distractions and demands being made of me
  • will it make me a successful multi-tasker because it has an extra steering wheel built into it that helps the child to be self motivated and drive on his own at times so I am not steering allll of the time and he thinks the work is HIS and not just something I am making him do….
  • can this child find inspiration in this ?
  • can this child learn this abstract subject or can we build something that will lead them from 3D work into abstraction with seemingly difficult obstacles like math for the learning challenged…ala Montessori?

Yes, my thoughts run all over the place.  I wanted to have so many of my plans done already, but the Holy Spirit is directing me in a whole new way this time and I am trying to catch hold of that whisper He has placed on my heart.  It is like I have to keep sketching away until I can see the common thread that makes all the points come together in a usable format.  I am feeling like an evolving homeschooler…more seasoned…becoming more perfected at finding much practical living in all seasons…sickness and health.  I want to be successful in God’s terms if not in my own as well.  This is His deal anyway…He the playright and I am chief steward of the whole shebang…
No pressure ;o)…ah! to hear the words…"Well done my good and faithful servant…"

Little_red_schoolhouse_zoom_2
I want to see the potential of each child and help him fill himself with so much of life…living books, living ideas…a real learning environment.  I want him to own the information, to retain information given  and take what we have learned to new levels of understanding, new applications.  If they learn it they should be able to teach it and make it understandable to others…right?  I want them to teach me and each other.  I want to "share the love"…for any kind of discovery they make, I really want it to be contagious.  I want them to share the treasure they have found.

It reminds me of the game that my almost 12yo ds likes to play with his
siblings.  He likes to create treasure maps and leads his eager and
giggling siblings on rabbit trails finding clues to the ultimate hiding
place…He is selfless in his efforts and is very eager to see each
person delighting in the connections he sets up for each of them…He
makes it very personal and yet something for the whole of them at the
same time.  This game is played again and again…and as it is
practiced it becomes even more crafty and involved.  It reminds me also
of what every day of a good school day has been for us.

I even want the older ones to learn some Montessori presentations and like a well trained magician or actor, whichever you prefer, with a well trained eye and heart, share something AWESOME with the younger set.  I want them to learn the art of mentoring.  I also want the older ones to glean that there is a concrete reality to many of the abstract things they do now.  I want them to SEE with more than one sense how simply ordered subjects like math are so they can handle the abstract work with more finesse.  I have mentioned in the past that this technique works very well with my one dd who has some math and spelling issues.  Working with the younger ones is ironing out the kinks in some of her understanding.  She uses the natural strength and gift she has of leading the young ones effortlessly to aid her with her struggle with mastery of the order of numbers and letters.  She is looking at the whole thing from a different perspective now that she is older and it makes deeper sense to her.

I want to include training for all the senses..things to see, hear, touch, taste….Montessori presentations do this so well!…oh the fun games we could make from this idea!

I want to prepare the teacher in myself and yet want to prepare the inner teacher in each of my children using the budget God gave me, whether it be my time, money or talent. (oh the DREAMS I have for an unlimited budget…but much is to be learned by thrift too…God makes mountains out of what I perceive as my molehills….He has shown me that time and again if I have the eyes to see it.)   I have high dreams of doing more…God is giving me "sufficient" tools to build awesome structures…He must trust me a lot.  I am not overwhelmed with the prospect, quite the opposite…I see this as His great work and I am a player in it…I am awed by His way of doing things..making connections.  I can remember of a few occasions ..ok more than a few occasions… when God made a common thread appear throughout many of the subjects we were studying and it excited us to learn more…we kinda felt like we were on God’s rabbit trail…getting to know him in the beauty of nature, poetry, hear Him whispering throughout history and see His fingerprints all over this wonderful world that He created…

So I prayerfully discern…
I  want to work on development of habits and challenge ourselves with many subjects to train our minds toward good…giving each child a taste of great thoughts, ideas and art etc…I want to build in the beautiful.

  lol…I really don’t think there is a label for who we are, how we learn, or even proof of a perfectly checked off planning sheet to show we are perfect or admirable in our ideas or follow-through.  I know we could never be perfect anything, just the willing participants during  this grand time together..all be it all too short…to learn as a family…to grow and mature in grace and wisdom before both God and man.  We need a mission statement…maybe we should build that one together, too…

So then enters the time of my discernment as to how to put the pieces together and form a curriculum…I am praying about it…a novena for discernment.  At any time during the year, when inspiration hits, I hurry to type into a ready made word document or a spiral bound notebook…  Now I am taking that information and running with it.  I bookmark sites that I want us to explore together…print out booklists, pull books from shelves or  out of curricula catalogs and compile many lists for the library and then I turn around and look at the house…our learning places… and I want all my ideas and ideals compiled into  a full experience in a prepared environment.

Ok…so THAT must mean … the house needs planning too…(hmmm need to work more on that).

Constantly tweaking, I am ideally striving for chores that run themselves…like at a seasoned toothbrushing stage(you do it well without too much mental effort).

The end result, or the reality of all of this is more of a framework set in such a way that we can fall back on something when things get too interrupted by life’s events and build on something for future learning experiences.  So a framework building we go… ok lets see….to check it all off…
a framework that in addition to curricula and chores and habits training, must also include meal planning so menus are easy to prepare (and note to self…. that also includes a clean fridge) and never forgetting a deep prayer life full of meaningful encounters with God in the Liturgical year. 

I want a  stage set for success…and when this or any other of the stages I am preparing needs a good broom and a proper airing we will take the time off to set things to rights again.    So I really don’t want to have to use a pair of scissors any glue or a mallet to form my work of art.  I just want a good picture to focus on and enjoy.  I want it to be something that each child as well as myself can recognize and enjoy TOGETHER.  Am I reaching for perfection or just simplicity…just simplicity, at least I am pretty sure of this…so we can "simply live" and live fully.  Simplicity takes tweaking and work…I am up for that.  And as for live fully part, I want to live fully the liturgical year…and as a natural consequence I want us to be living our school year in the classroom of The Holy Family in a God-centered, family centered existence.

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