Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 3rd Grade :)

A Year and a Day in the Life of Little Lambs

One more week and we are out of school for the summer, so its time to look back and celebrate the memories of our 2012-2013 school year! Praise God for all He has done this year!!!

A Year at Little Lambs

I just made a Little Lambs 2012-2013 Yearbook as a family keepsake to memorialize all the the precious and amazing moments we experienced this year (Tayler has her own special version too). I love the way it turned out and I would love for you to see it!

There are a few links to follow on the Shutterfly site in order to view our photo book in full screen (which is important because some of the print is very small). You can preview the pages full screen by going to “order” or “save to my account”. Here are all the steps:

  • Click “view photo book”, click “order” or “save” to account (at which point you may need to set up a Shutterfly account if you don’t have one), click “preview photo book” (upper right), click “preview” (upper left), click “full screen” (upper right).

If you like our yearbook, or you have been following along with our monthly themes at home, you have my glad permission to save our photo book to your account and use it, modify it, and make it a yearbook for your own children. It’ll save you so much work just to pop your own pictures into my layouts!

2012-2013 Yearbook

And since I never shared last years cute yearbook on my blog, here it is:

2011-2012 Yearbook

A Day at Little Lambs

I thought that some of you might also be curious what an average day at Little Lambs looks like, and so I recorded “A Day at School” for you. Its actually a few different days done as one because it was hard to get it done all in one day. You will see everything from an adorable clip of Faith reciting her memory verse to a clip showing the drudgery and frustration of using readers for decoding practice (I say drudgery because the kids do not look forward to reading. I admit that I have knowingly deviated from Charlotte Mason methods for reading this year, and now I can pretty much say that she was right all along–readers are drudgery, but I also keep in mind that the kids were young for reading instruction this year). I have never made an imovie before, so you can just smile while you watch my first attempt.

Noah 4 yrs, Tayler 4 yrs, and Faith 2 yrs

Ok, now I am going to go take a long nap because that all was a lot of work. 🙂 But no, actually we are going camping this weekend, so I will have to catch up on my sleep there…… (Ha!). 🙂

Silly Times

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Sweet Times

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Working on 4 Letter Words Now

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Building Tub from Grub

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Getting Silly at Math Time

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Praise Time with Instruments

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How Do I Teach That Subject??

Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club, Home Education (Vol. 1) pages 225-300

“Lessons as Instruments of Education”

For Children Ages 6, 7, and 8 Years of Age

I will highlight what stood out to me about some of the subjects Charlotte covered in “Lessons as Instruments of Education”. However, in Home Education, Charlotte provides a much fuller training for anyone who wishes for guidance on how to teach all the subject matter of education.

Recitation

Every child may be taught the art of beautiful and perfect speaking, and in learning to recite, a child learns much about public speaking. Our children learn enunciation and how to delicately render each nuance of meaning  by reciting poetry. Let the expression be their own, as they will learn just expression of thought for themselves with time. Setting forth the pattern to ‘say it as I say it’ is unwise. Children can expresses what they think the poem’s author means, and should not be using mere tricks of parroting. Do not have your children memorize the poem, or say it over and over to themselves, but simply let them hear it read over several days and the children will be able to reproduce it without much mental effort. In this way, the children’s enjoyment is not worn down by weariful verse by verse repetitions.

Reading

A few ideas about the subject of reading for children who can already read to themselves: (Teaching a 5 or 6 year old child how to read is covered in a previous section of Home Education)

  • Let your child acquire the habit of reading early on. As soon as she can read at all, she should read to herself and be trained that one reading is sufficient. Narration after a single reading will train a child to use slow, careful, intelligent reading habits where she reads with an eye to the full meaning of every clause.
  • She should also have practice reading aloud (including poetry books) so that she is accustomed to saying beautiful words beautifully.
  • It is delightful for parents to read to their children, but Charlotte says this should only be an occasional treat such as at bedtime for children who can read. Children will shirk the labor of reading to themselves for, “indeed we all like to be spoon-fed with our intellectual meat, or we should read and think more for ourselves and be less eager to run after lectures.” If a child can read his own books that are being used for his term’s work, his education is not completed, but it is ensured.

Use Narration, Not Comprehension Questions

Karen Andreola, author of the Charlotte Mason Companion, says, “Today’s children are exposed to much information and come away with little knowledge. Why? Because they have never thought the writer’s ideas through and made them their own.” Charlotte’s remedy was what she called narration. A child tells back what she has just learned from the passage just read, which gives the child the opportunity to digest the mind-food offered by brilliant authors. Direct questioning and workbooks on the subject matter of what a child has read is always a mistake because they are very wearying to most children. (Charlotte does say that, “Questions that lead to a side issue or to a personal view are allowable because these interest children–‘What would you have done in his place?’) Instead, let a student narrate what she does remember, and she will enjoy this form of “testing”. Narration is effective because its a natural inherent power waiting to be discovered in children, and its not the result of disciplinary education. “‘Let him narrate’; and the child narrates, fluently, copiously, in ordered sequence, with fit and graphic details, with a just choice of words, without verbosity or tautology, so soon as he can speak with ease.” Just think of what an ability to remember will be formed in our children as we use this method! Yet, this amazing gift of narration lies unused in most educational settings.

Kids love to tell what they know! But start testing them with endless questions to see what they know, and they start to shut down. Noah loves to tell me what he knows (often made up stuff) all day long. Kids are natural narrators. The only narration we ask of Noah, who is only four, is after we read him a simple Bible story from Faith’s Bible, we ask him to tell it back to us. He does great, and is now able to recall the story we read last time because narration is causing him to remember what he has heard. However, as soon as Dean and I can’t ignore the itch to ask and probe for more information as he is narrating, the error of our methods are soon revealed by Noah’s obvious signs of frustration. We feel like we are “helping” him along, probably because inside we are thinking ‘surely he remembers that part and just accidentally left it out!’, and so we mistakenly think we can gently lead him towards remembering. Usually its a mistake because as soon as he can’t come up with the right answer, frustration comes into his eyes or he slaps his hands down on his legs in defeat as he has little patience for riddles. Not at all how we want Noah to feel about learning! Frustrating educational methods will turn children off to learning, dangerously dashing the confidence of parents as some start to wonder, ‘why can’t I teach my child??’ We have to be careful not to fall back on all the methods we are so accustomed to, such as direct questioning and testing, as they really are inferior methods of checking for understanding.

By the way, be careful not to form the habit of inattention by allowing your child, who can not narrate after a single reading, to have the notion that she may, or must, read a portion of text again. The power of reading with perfect attention will not be formed in a child who is allowed to moon over her lessons. A simple look of slight regret will be enough to motivate the child to pay more attention next time.

Examinations are not necessary when you use narration because narration proves better than testing whether a child knows the information at hand. What, school without tests?! Woo hoo! Also, teaching writing (composition) to young children is unnecessary because to children who have learned to narrate well, writing will come later as naturally as running and jumping. Let them be fed a steady diet of good rich ideas from the best authors, and later they will write with similar tone, vocabulary, and expression, but their composition will be original and their own. However, try to have a young child write an essay, and she will need to be taught how to build a sentence and how to bind sentences together (unnecessary for the older child who is accustomed to narrating). The young child will also learn to stick ideas of commonplace thought into her essay that sound good, but are not her own. Requiring a child under nine to write compositions is futile because they are not ready; narration is composition for a young child.

Learn more about narration: Karen Andreola explains much more in “Narration Beats Tests”.

Spelling

The whole secret of spelling lies in the habit of visualizing words from memory. The eye must in a sense take a photographic picture of words in order to spell them. Good spelling comes form much reading combined with the habit of imaging the words as they are read. Bad spelling usually comes from sparse reading or hasty reading without the habit of seeing the words. Also, most of us have trouble spelling certain words over and over again because we learned to spell it incorrectly in the first place, and now we have an permanent image of that mispelled word. Once the eye sees a mispelled word, that image can remain and always give us trouble. Children misspelling words should therefore be avoided and prevented, and Charlotte’s method of teaching spelling is focused on that objective.

Learn Charlotte’s step by step instructions of how to do spelling lessons by prepared dictation on page 242 of Home Education.

Natural Science

“He must live hours daily in the open air, and, as far as possible, in the country; must look and touch and listen; must be quick to note, consciously, every peculiarity of habit or structure, in beast, bird, or insect; the manner of growth and fructification of every plant. He must be accustomed to ask why––Why does the wind blow? Why does the river flow? Why is a leaf-bud sticky? And do not hurry to answer his questions for him; let him think his difficulties out so far as his small experience will carry him. Above all, when you come to the rescue, let it not be in the ‘cut and dried’ formula of some miserable little text-book………As I have already tried to point out, to get this sort of instruction for himself is simply the nature of a child: the business of the parent is to afford him abundant and varied opportunities, and to direct his observations, so that, knowing little of the principles of scientific classification, he is, unconsciously, furnishing himself with the materials for such classification.”

Just today we went on a walk and Noah observed magnolia buds covering a magnolia tree, collected pine cones, and found a baby bird that lay dead in the dirt 😦 (this was a first for me!). Later he was excited because he discovered that seeds came out of his pine cone (I can’t believe I have never seen pine cone seeds before!), and now he is seriously going to try to plant a pine tree in the backyard (I told him he could but we would have to pull it out before it got too big). Yesterday he caught water striders in a creek and insisted that we research what they eat so they wouldn’t die. Then he went outside and found a tiny insect for them to eat. He is an observant little guy and quickly becoming fascinated with nature! Natural treasures are becoming part of his bedroom decor because he wants everything near and dear to him to have a special place in his room. I am astounded at how my simple efforts to follow Charlotte Mason’s nature study methods are really working! I remember how not long ago my children had tunnel vision for toys every time we stepped outdoors and it disturbed me, but now I am thrilled that my children are enjoying and learning from nature rather than overlooking its secrets.

Now is the time to allow our young child’s interest grow in all sorts of natural phenomenon as this will lay a firm foundation for all the scientific knowledge that will need to be built on top of that foundation of interest. Homeschoolers have the freedom to form a true passion for nature, and then later learn the scientific nomenclature. School, on the other hand, pours all sorts of hollow information into young brains–laws, principles, theories, classification–hollow because there is no regard for the necessary preceding of information with a passion arising from real outdoor nature study. Scientific nomenclature means little to nothing to most children because they have never formed an interest, or a personal relationship with the array of natural science topics covered in a textbook. Sad it is when children have to learn about life cycles or astronomy from a text book and they have never personally witnessed the lifecycle of a butterfly or ladybug, never observed the rising and setting of the stars, the phases of the moon, or used a telescope. School could never plan enough field trips to properly prepare children for all the test book information that is taught to them. Serving up information before there is interest is normal in school, but it should be abnormal in homeschool. Learning scientific nomenclature before observing the real thing is backwards!! Say your child loves trains: “It is not possible to explain every detail of a locomotive to a young pupil, but it is perfectly practicable to explain its principles so that this machine, like others, becomes a mere special case of certain well-understood general laws.” Try teaching these same scientific laws without there first being an interest in trains or machines, and lessons become dry, forced, meaningless, and soon forgotten anyway.

What science topics are all children interested in? How everything around them works! So dive into books that explain everyday life and children’s endless curiosity about it–why water pipes burst by frost, why the kettle lid jumps up when the water is boiling, why they feel cold sitting in damp clothes, why they can see their breath on a frosty day, what is dew for, why a glass sometimes breaks when hot water is poured into it. Rather than using textbooks that try to cover everything, explore the true interests of a child in living science books that awaken the imagination, stimulate observation, and excite a living and lasting interest in the world that lies about them. From these everyday life type of curiosities, these books will gently introduce the general laws, principles, theories, and classification systems of of science, resulting in much true understanding of the subject matter.

After a day out in nature, one child is like “No-eyes” and another is like “Eyes” according to Charlotte. “No-eyes comes home bored; he has seen nothing, been interested in nothing: while Eyes is all agog to discuss a hundred things that have interested him.” May we provide our children with with the opportunities to become “Eyes”!

History

“History is a subject which should be to the child an inexhaustible storehouse of ideas, should enrich the chambers of his House Beautiful with a thousand tableaux, pathetic and heroic, and should form in him, insensibly, principles whereby he will hereafter judge of the behavior of nations, and will rule his own conduct as one of a nation. This is what the study of history should do for the child; but what is he to get out of the miserable little chronicle of feuds, battles, and death which is presented to him by way of ‘a reign’––all the more repellent because it bristles with dates? As for the dates, they never come right; the tens and units he can get, but the centuries will go astray; and how is he to put the right events in the right reign, when, to him, one king differs from another only in number, one period from another only in date? But he blunders through with it; reads in his pleasant, chatty little history book all the reigns of all the kings, from William the Conqueror to William IV., and back to the dim days of British rule. And with what result? This: that, possibly, no way of warping the judgment of the child, of filling him with crude notions, narrow prejudices, is more successful than that of carrying him through some such course of English history…”

‘The fatal mistake is in the notion that he must learn ‘outlines,’ or a baby edition of the whole history of England, or of Rome, just as he must cover the geography of all the world. Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.”

“In these early years, while there are no examinations ahead, and the children may yet go leisurely, let them get the spirit of history into them by reading, at least, one old Chronicle written by a man who saw and knew something of what he wrote about, and did not get it at second-hand. These old books are easier and pleasanter reading than most modern works on history, because the writers know little of the ‘dignity of history’; they purl along pleasantly as a forest brook, tell you ‘all about it,’ stir your heart with the story of a great event, amuse you with pageants and shows, make you intimate with the great people, and friendly with the lowly. They are just the right thing for the children whose eager souls want to get at the living people behind the words of the history book, caring nothing at all about progress, or statutes, or about anything but the persons, for whose action history is, to the child’s mind, no more than a convenient stage. A child who has been carried through a single old chronicler in this way has a better foundation for all historical training than if he knew all the dates and names and facts that ever were crammed for examination.”

I can sum it up no better than Charlotte! Use original sources, use stories that stir the heart, and biographies of historical heroes.

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  • Do you want to be a part of my Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club? Read pages 300-352 in Home Education (last portion of the book) and bring some thoughts to share on the Little Lambs blog by June 15th. Together we can inspire others to bring the atmosphere of a living education into their home too!

 

Hanging Out on the Fence at the Nature Park

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Noah Catching Water Striders

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Throwing Stones in the Creek

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Knee Deep in Ivy

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Noah’s Self Initiated Project after a Fieldtrip to the Zoo

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What Bugs Have We Been Sighting Lately?

Mating Dragonflies

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All On One Plant in Our Backyard:

A Bumblebee

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A Baby Ladybug (larva) & Aphids

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A Ladybug Shedding its Skin (Pupa)

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A Red Backed Jumping Spider

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Happy to Be a Mommy

In honor of Mother’s Day, we can reflect on what each one of us loves about motherhood. What makes you happy to be a mom? What do you love about your job? So much of what I love about being a mom is now all wrapped up in the special nature of being a stay at home, homeschool mom. Here are a few of the things that I feel very blessed to be celebrating this Mother’s Day:

I get to stay at home! I get to raise my children myself! Modern moms are working moms, and if homeschooling my children wasn’t my job, I am sure I would have to go out and find a job. But I would rather be with my children than do anything else that the workforce has to offer me. I would miss my kids so much if we were apart all day! I am thankful to be homeschooling.

I don’t have to rush! I don’t rush off anywhere in the mornings while trying to manage morning grumpiness, fleshly attitudes, and resistance to regimented routines. We enjoy being able to follow our own pace which always includes sleeping until we wake up, chores, devotions, and a hearty breakfast. Noah is even learning how to do his own devotions as our morning schedule emphasizes time with God and supports our goal of raising a young man who seeks the Lord for himself. The day gets off to a good start when I am able to fully take care of my children’s emotional, spiritual, and physical needs each morning. We have many happy homeschool mornings together, and I am so glad for quality time early in the day with my children because by the time afternoon comes in our house, naps, quiet play, dinner preparation and other chores, time with daddy, as well as bodily tiredness dominate and sometimes only permits superficial interaction between me and my children. I know I would find guiding my children through the hurry , hurry, hurry routines of a typical school day unpleasant. I love having the time to hear their thoughts upon waking up, answer their questions during breakfast, being able to give them my complete attention, and personally witness every big and small moment of growth and learning during our day.

My kids are two peas in a pod! Noah and Faith do everything together–they even go to the bathroom together. 🙂  They are adorable together! I am so thankful that with us all being home, Noah and Faith are provided lots and lots of time to form a really beautiful friendship. They also get lots of practice working out all kinds of skirmishes, which makes for a strong bond and healthy relational intelligence. I couldn’t imagine separating them during school hours and the toll it would take on their bond………and then seeing them eventually someday down the road replacing each other with school peer relationships. My sister Tara and I are only 19 months apart, we both attended public school, and experienced periods of real closeness and periods of estrangement. Sadly, I believe that our relationship was so up and down due to school schedules and inevitable peer orientation. I know if I keep my children learning and living together here at home, the strength of their relationship will grow, rather than ebb and flow over the years. The friendship of my two peas in a pod will blossom and bear much fruit over the years, and that is a great delight to a mother’s heart!

I have more than two hands! Now that Noah is starting be a real help around the house, I feel like I have 4 hands. For awhile, mothering little ones was so demanding because I had to do everything–cut their food, feed them around the clock, run a tight schedule for napping, wash loads of stained laundry, clean up an explosion of food after every meal, brush their teeth, brush their hair, get them dressed, do diapers or help them with the potty…… I know you can relate! Somehow I thought mothering would always be this much work. Even while training little ones to be “helpers”, sometimes we are cringing on the inside because their “help” is actually just making more work for us in the end. Recently however, I see the light at the end of the tunnel–the workload really is going to get lighter and lighter as my children grow and provide actual productive “help”. Now that Noah is 4 years old and starting to make real contributions to the family, I already see it happening. Having one child who can get himself ready, do a few helpful jobs around the house, and help take care of Faith, has made a huge difference. Chore time is such an integral part of our homeschool and family life. My goal is to eventually work myself out of a job. Why send the kids off to school so that I can stay home and dust and vacuum?? Instead, I can train my kids at home to take care of the household, enjoy my extra time to read or pursue other interests, and take real delight in the fact that my children are being well trained as future mothers and wives, fathers and husbands? And just think, pretty soon I will have six hands!

There are two fathers in our home! I love the way that Noah parents Faith! Wow, again, I feel like Dean and I are working our way out of a job by pouring so much time and instruction into our eldest. We know that whatever kind of big brother we train him to be will hugely influence the rest of our children. He is the most time intensive kid, requiring the most discipline and guidance, but for good reason! He is the the one with the calling and responsibility to set the example for Faith, and it is him that she without a doubt follows. All day long I hear her voice earnestly chiming out, “I will Noah! I will!,” after he asks her to do something. Older siblings taking care of younger siblings was not the way I grew up, but I still saw examples of it around me whether in life or in literature, and I just knew that was what I wanted for my own family someday. However, I really didn’t know how to train my children to do this, so I am so grateful that God is honoring my desire. Noah has the heart of a father already. My eyes don’t have to be on Faith 100% of the time when Noah’s are, because he is making sure that she is obeying the rules and staying safe. If Noah addresses Faith’s behavior and gets no response, Noah lets me know– “Mommy, Faith is playing in the birdbath.” At that point, Faith is already climbing down saying, “I won’t Noah, I won’t.” At dinner one night, Faith is in the potty, and Noah says, “Lets me check on her mommy.” He gets up from the table to check on Faith, who is potty training, and asks her every possible question to make sure she is coming along ok. “Are you done Faith?” “Did a little come out or a lot?” “Potty or poo poo?” “Do you need a wipe?” and on and on. I was grinning across the table at Dean for our blessing. Noah loves to father, and I can’t wait to see Faith love to mother.

I have love bugs! My very favorite part of mothering is bedtime cuddles, long hugs around the neck, and hearing “I love you SOOOOO much mommy!” Just when I feel the most exhausted in the day, around 8 pm, and I am looking forward to a short time to myself or with my hubby before my bedtime, my Noah often says, “mommy will you cuddle with me tonight?” Part of me cringes because I want to have my break, but the other part of me is so committed to raising affectionate and attached children, that I often say yes. Noah and I climb into his bed, and although I am tired, I lay fascinated listening to him tell his endless creative and imaginative stories about trains and toy stores and machines. I feel like I wouldn’t really know my boy if we weren’t spending those last 20 minutes together before he falls asleep. I would not really know who he is deep down. So much pours out of his heart in those quiet one on one twilight moments that would never surface to the same extent during the day. He hugs me so close, and so affectionately tells me how much he loves me, which is something unique to our nighttime cuddles. Noah seems to appreciates the sacrifice I make to spend the last of the day with him so much, which makes it all worth it. I love that Dean does cuddle time with his little boy too. I feel that this family tradition has been one of the main factors in turning Noah from a boy who ran away from all gestures of affection at 2 years, to a boy oozing with affection at 4 years. We have also started cuddle time with Faith, but we have to be more creative since she still sleeps in a crib. I look forward to peering into what bubbles out of her heart as her language expands and as we spend more time in each others arms.

Last years post: Mothers Are Homemakers

Happy Mothers Day Friends!

Invitations for Our Mothers Day Tea Party

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Cuties All Dressed Up

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Tea Party Fare

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Generations of Love

Tayler, Grandma Mary, Aunty Miriah, Mamama Sheila, and Gran Jo-Jo Joanne.

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Mommy Too

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Noah, Faith, and Mommy

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Grandma Loves Me

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