Friday, December 7, 2007

Preparing for a new year

I’ve spent most of the last year trying to find the balance between home and learning. With lots of rabbit trails in between.

In the last 2 years we have played with:

* The Classical Veritas / Memoria press basis that God has slowly put together in our home,

* Ambleside version of Charlotte Mason – complete,

* Un-schooling or relaxed schooling with a classical bent, with leanings towards Thomas Jefferson but not quite getting their.

In each variation I have learned things, but each has had its downfalls.

* The Classical model per-see is to pressured, to formal we seem to stress through the day trying to fit everything in, surely that isn’t what we are meant to be doing.

* Ambleside seemed to leave out to much of the writing that I have come to enjoy from my children. It was fun, but the richness of learning how to communicate was missing. It was too easy for my beloved kids to coast without doing anything much, or rushed as I tried to read and hear narrations from each of my children.

* The relaxed model saw us either getting lost in art which was too much of a culture shock for me. Or it found me trying to get the kids motivated, doing a few lessons of each subject and having the kids fade away because without the regular exposure to latin and maths these subjects became big black holes.

So where does this leave my trio.

Our next adventure is a combination of all three.

* We’re keeping the balance of curriculum that we have acquired. In each subject I find a depth of learning experience that I really enjoy. They feed each other and interrelate to a language rich, beautiful and solid Christian education and so I am happy.

* But I’m dropping the pressure and the schedule. We’ll work to a mix of daily subjects – i.e. avoiding the black holes and not getting stalled.

* For the other subjects, history, bible, art and science we’ll do blocks of afternoon study. Indepth individual studies from 1-3 weeks long where we can dig in thing, reflect, play and create. The rest, music, and nature and artist studies are gong to fit around the edges, sometimes informal sometimes as a short block.

I’m hoping we have come home. Its been a long journey. It’s been tied up in doing the best for my kids, but also trying to justify my choices, keep a road map and try and prove to the critics that we are doing the right thing. I;m looking forward to relaxing a bit more and enjoying the journey. Then again I thought this at the start of last summer - and then one afternoon on the beach re-created everything.... have I finally learnt those lessons ...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


My Artist had fun writing this couplet - she extended it to cover the whole of the solar system. An this time mum didn't manage to join in the effort....


Up in space I see the golden Sun,

Beside the sun sits Mercury the one.

Mercury’s friend, hot but rock, Venus stands,

Perfectly great earth comes next with lands.

Mars is next, red orange with holes still,

Jupiter and Saturn are doing quite well.

Uranus rolls and looks sleepy and blue,

Neptune looks like it has the flu.

Pluto’s friends are comets I think,

And spaceships go up while I write with ink.

Stars sit up in the amazing space,

But I think that’s enough for this place.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I'ts been an interesting weekend.

Tiring, unsettling, the winds of change are in the air, but right now I'm not ready for change - not big stuff, which is good. I spent enough of Friday considering how comfortable I am being planted and knowing I don't want more upheaval. Relieved, because at the end of the weekend it's a nudge toward trusting God and moving our school a little closer to where he wants it to be ....

I struggle with keeping us on schedule, keeping the lessons ticking over, doing what we're supposed to be doing... by the way my kids don't believe in schedules ...

And if the truth be known most of the time I simply want to be caught up in exploring and enjoying the discovery.

But I want to know that the journey is a safe one, one that honors God and helps my kids to grow. Each time I pray it through I come back to a picture of a patchwork quilt. Lots of separate bits and pieces woven together into a beautiful whole. To weave that quilt means I have to be prepared to walk an independent way. To follow a school path that isn't neatly out of the box, to trust when we aren't on schedule. Maybe its just me learning that homeschooling isn't about being finished the book in the year, keeping on schedule and following the school year. And yes some times I are slow in learning I think i revisit this concept every year.

I can handle it a bit, but to simply wander and learn that scares me. To let the prepackaged stuff be part of the journey but not what sets the pace. Their pace always seems rushed to us, we keep loosing the joy, and stopping and hunting for it again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Poetry Play

We all ended up writing poetry over the last week, so here are some of our creations

A Strange Flower

Yellow white center,
Creamy petals, green grass leaves,
Living together

Dancing in the wind,
Swaying like ballet dancers,
Gently looking up.

By Dancing Butterfly (10 yrs)

Says the mouse following the rat,
Meow, purr purr,
Said the cat looking for the rat,
Says the rat running from the cat.

By Happy Feet (7 yrs)

My Attempt,


Angry and buzzing
Rushing between the flowers,
Fuzzy energy

or inspired by one of the Iris's in the garden,.

Creamy white petals,
Cascading skirts of yellow,
Cascading iris.

I've enjoyed our times playing with poetry it's one of the highlights of this year.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Christmas in Summertime

I ended up answering a e-group email and as I started writing it all came back. So I figured it was worth posting here as well.

We must be weird – because somehow Christmas has never gotten as complicated and I’m still trying to work out if we are missing something – but we are happy with what we do …..

Incidentally for one one side of the family tree Christmas is a big deal, for the other side Christmas is a family get together and very very relaxed. We are somewhere in between, lots of tradition, not too much stress.

Oh and our main emphasis is that Christmas is a birthday party and Santa doesn’t visit us.. Also it’s a little hotter and therefore laid back because after all you can only do so much on a midsummer’s day.

We do one present for each of the kids, and one for each member of my husband’s family and my mum.

Our kids do presents for each other with a $5 limit – it makes them think about what and why. Lately they have tended to thing outside the square and make something themselves – especially those that are
inclined that way.)

We also do Christmas vouchers (Vouchers for the kids that let them have dessert after dinner, lollipops where we go through the supermarket, stay up one hours, a day off school etc.) Fun stuff that make the year a little more fun. I think this is the favorite thing they look for on Christmas morning.

My husband makes a large batch of Russian Fudge, and we give it away in wrapped in cellophane to close friends and anyone that surprises us. Yep he makes enough that we get to enjoy it as well.

I send out personal handwritten Christmas cards to friends out of town, or email people I only catch up with once a year – that’s my main stress.

We run a sweet filled, verse filled advent calendar – that sometimes includes things we should do to prepare for Christmas.

Our Christmas decorations consist of a small live tree – which I need to replace this year as the last one needed to be planted out – we add one decoration each year a symbol celebrating what God has done in the year in our family. We record it in a tiny notebook that also sits on the tree and read it as we decorate the tree. It’s a very special time. It gets decorated when we get the urge, and taken down - yep when the tree looks like it needs to be outside again.

Christmas eve is either Church services, and / or driving round looking at everyone else’s Christmas lights, the lights idea is new to our part of the world so only a few people decorate their houses.

On the day

Breakfast when we get to it is Christmas mince pies. Thats the fruit filled type.

At mid-day ish we have a simple Roast Turkey meal, and plum pudding, started with something special in the way of nibbles, but not over the top. If we don’t have a church service, my husband gets out his guitar and plays and we sing. If we come across another family at a loose end, they are welcome to join us – normally then I kinda make it a bit more pot luck.

And the evening meal – well being pragmatic as always – its leftovers for anyone who is still hungry, from memory it may be that that is when we get round to finishing off the main meal and having dessert. And we cut Jesus' birthday cake. (The traditional English rich fruit cake with Royal icing.)

The afternoon – well we relax and the kids play, traditionally as Kiwi culture we should play cricket, but the kids aren’t old enough yet. I suspect this year it might be that we make it.