Thursday, October 25, 2007

This is from the e-newsletter of Living Books Curriculum, a homeschool company that offers products based on the methods British educator Charlotte Mason used to help children learn in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Charlotte Mason said that a method implies a mental image of the object. In other words, what you picture and think on tends to come to pass. Do this: picture in vivid detail what your child is like grown. What are the qualities, the character traits, the activities you would like to see your child doing? Write all this down in full. Yes, it will take effort, but you will only need to do this once. When I did it, it produced a radical readjustment of my thinking. Good thing, as I was locked into traditional educational methods and could only imagine my daughter "doing well" in college. When I got the full Technicolor picture of character, life skills, enjoyments, spiritual growth, and "doing well" in college; then, Charlotte Mason and her method began to makes sense as the only way to achieve such a wonderful goal.

I don't know that I agree that the Charlotte Mason method is the only way to get there — friends who home educate their children in other ways seem to be doing well — but I really appreciate the idea of thinking of Addy's and Dori's futures in full detail, well beyond just doing well in college. For me, homeschooling is definitely harder than sending them away to school, but this thought makes it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The lesson.

Addy didn't want to stay in her bed tonight. After coming downstairs twice, she crawled up on my lap and told me, "You might laugh about this, but I don’t want you to: This might teach you a lesson."

"A lesson about what?" I asked as I buried my face in her hair to hide my laughter.

"A lesson that you should let me sleep with you more often."

She went to bed. In her bed.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

She mitered the corners.

Addy wrapped a present last night for her friend, Gabrielle's, 4th birthday party. She asked me to cut off the appropriate amount of wrapping paper, then she took it from there — all by herself — while I left the room to do something else. She even mitered the corners.

Sometimes people say, "Wow! How did Addy learn to _________ (insert any skill that it doesn't seem like a 5-year-old would know how to do yet)?"

The answer is usually simple: I let her try.

Addy was 2 when she started to tear off unnecessarily long strips of tape to stick onto Christmas gifts. Most of them ended up being decorative rather than serving any adhesive function. No problem.

By the time she was 3, she was wrapping gifts all by herself. They looked as if they were wrapped by a 3-year-old, but that was OK.

Now today, she wrapped a gift that looked as pretty as if her father had wrapped it all by himself. (It's not perfect, but it was her process.) And she even mitered the corners.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The baby gets to stir.

It occured to me recently that Dori is becoming her own little person. No longer a tag-a-long, she has her own interests (shoes, balls and sweets) and desires (wearing shoes, playing with balls and eating sweets). So I let her stir the barbecue sauce.

Up until now, Addy has had all the chances to do everything, and Dori was a (noisy) accessory, often riding on my back or in a sling. On this day two weeks ago I let Dori stir the pot while Addy watched. It was quite a change for Dori, and she clearly loved it. She was pretty proud of herself and now likes to be a helper with everything.

From my local public school district web site:

Studies have shown that students learn faster and become more self-reliant when they are taught one-to-one.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dori went poopy in the potty!

Dori pooped in her little potty tonight. I thought I better write it down somewhere before she is 18 years old and realizes we forgot to write down any details of her life past 12 months.

At only 5 years old, firstborn Addy already has four big scrapbooks chronicling her life. There's probably less biographical detail in some presidential libraries. I wrote down the exact date each of her teeth emerged. We have photo spreads not only of the big events, but even of everyday visits to the park. And her own blog.

My sister took pictures of Dori in front of Air Force One as it landed carrying the late President Gerald R. Ford, but even those haven't made it into a scrapbook. Oh, I have a big stack of good intentions and even materials to make Dori's first-year scrapbook. It's still empty.

I suppose it's nothing new. My mother wrote nice notes in my oldest brother Duane's baby book. Dale, child No. 4, has some of his filled in. Mine (I'm child 8 of 8) has only a few entries, and those were written in by to of my sisters, one of whom was only 7 years old. I guess the idea of recording a baby's every move gets less and less important with subsequent children.

Though I'll probably forget the date, Dori's first poop in her potty is a milestone. One of these days I'll have to accept the fact that she's not a baby anymore, but rather a toddler. By the time I get used to that she'll be a preschooler.

She's only 19 months old and in the wisdom gained in my 5 whole years of mothering, I have come to realize there's no need to rush the whole potty thing. She seemed a little interested in the big potty, so I put a little one out several weeks ago. Addy has been anxious to help her baby sister learn how to poop in the potty, so the mother lode Dori finally deposited tonight was pretty exciting to her. Addy has been coaching Dori whenever she chooses to sit on the potty. She squats down and says, "Like this, Dori!" as she grunts and strains and pretents to make a bowel movement. Her face even gets red.

And once again, it turns into a story about Addy.

I'm sorry, Dori. I really am.