Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

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

Training for Victory

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus. Hebrew 12:1

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:36

Winning a race requires dedication and discipline. At times we can be tempted to lose heart in this homeschool marathon when victory seems no where in sight. Let’s face it, there are days that can be grueling for homeschooling moms–the discipline we need in order to accomplish a day’s duty in dishes, laundry, child training, gardening, house cleaning, lessons, nature study, meal prep, planning, organizing, errands, etc. requires every ounce of our strength. What would we do without the Lord’s grace and mercy on our lives? Thank God that by the essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship, we can actually run our race, with stamina and vigor.

My family is going into our fifth year of homeschooling, and although I have always been excited about our calling, and still am, I sense that I now also need endurance to stay in the will of God, that we may receive what He has promised our family. I need to keep doing what I am doing and not become mentally tired. After all, my oldest is only the ripe old age of 7, and my youngest hasn’t even started school yet. Oh my, the lesson plans still to be written. I sigh to think of it, but I know they are the single greatest earthly factor of our homeschool successes each month, so I press on.

“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” –Bishop Carl Smith

Those words from my beloved former Pastor keep reminding me lately that the planning I do is important. Likewise, at church on Sunday Pastor Dave preached on perseverance (Striking Arrows), and again I was encouraged. As he spoke on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul’s analogy of training like an athlete to win a prize, my mind went to the ‘next level training’ my husband and I have been discussing for the children this school year. I was encouraged by his message that the Lord’s vigorous training process for us will indeed feel hard and unpleasurable at times because training to win requires hard work, self denial, and even grueling preparation. I sure do want to be in it to win it.

“Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body (I beat my body) like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

As Christians called to win the race, and as Christians with the privilege of educating our own children in the race, we dear friends, have been called to a life that demands the very best of what we have to offer. With the right training and discipline, victory is ahead; without the right training and discipline, victory will always be out of reach.

Lord, train us to win.

Give us a whiff of the victory ahead, and the strength to sprint towards Your eternal prize.

As He directs our steps, the Lord will bring more purpose and clarity into our family lives, but with it, discipline will be required to succeed hour by hour in the daily marathon at home. In many areas, perseverance is simply all we need– to keep doing what we are already doing, and in other areas He may be prompting us to posture ourselves for stricter training.

Here are a few areas our Father is challenging our family to step up into the next level of training: our schedule, our Bible study, family club meetings, and our prayer life.

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Our Schedule

Here is a peek at our schedule for this school year. With the way I feel about schedules, keeping this schedule will be a lot like me “striking a blow at my body to make it my slave.” (1 Cor. 9:27 NIV)

 

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Discipline has been a weak area for me most of my life, so me and schedules don’t often groove. I freely admit that I love somewhat unstructured homeschool days where school starts at 10 or 11 in the morning. Me staying up too late at night, Olympian sized breakfasts, plenty of chores, and long devotions here make for late mornings. I remember structured school days that always started at 9 am when Tayler, our little next door neighbor girl, met with us for school back in Noah’s preschool days. So having a more structured schedule shouldn’t be impossible to have again!

I realize that in order to realistically spread a Charlotte Mason feast of broad and generous knowledge, we need to try to implement more schedule into our day, which is going to take some training on my part. My lack of structure this past year would sometimes result in paring down to the “basics” for lack of time, which makes for blander school days. However, when we carefully guard designated times for the more beautiful elements of an education–picture study, composer study, poetry study, nature study, and handicrafts–homeschool is a richer, more enjoyable experience for both teacher and students. Our schedule this school year includes my goal to start school early, while allowing time to make our mornings beautiful.

I really prioritize lengthy uninterrupted play times for my 7, 5, and 2 year old because I think play is as important as lessons are for children, so we intentionally stay home to play most afternoons. I notice the more my kids play, the more creative they are. I hate to see that drained away in children by over scheduling their lives. That being said, we find afternoon activities like exercise, tea with neighbors, time with friends, and handicrafts are also important, but they are a less regular part of our life than good old fashioned sibling playtime.

We also try to schedule time to be in nature and learning out and about at various places on Fun Fridays. Our untraditional school adventures are my lifeline; we all love Fun Fridays!

Family Bible Study

“Family Nights,” as shown on our schedule, happen every night here– its the time of day daddy is home to disciple our children. We desire for many of our children’s most meaningful spiritual experiences to occur at home, and for many to occur during the daily diet of a father led Family Bible Hour. In the context of special family discipleship relationships, and through a father regularly touching his children’s hearts with the gospel message, children grow in a faith that is not easily walked away from once grown up. The calling of a father is indispensable to our children’s training.

Since Noah was little we have been interested in training up our children into Christian manhood/womanhood by 12 or 13 years old with a rite of passage ceremony, and creating a list of training objectives to complete by the time of the ceremony. I remember being really amazed at the time Noah graduated preschool that we had 8 years of training time left …… and now we have 5 years!! The child training period may be shorter than we realize. It is important for us all to recognize the gravity of the moment with each new school year.

In light of these things, we plan to set Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights aside for Family Bible Study time, which will include Bible readings, 1 Verse Bible Studies, and a rotation through other supplemental activities such as prayer with our prayer wall, worship on my guitar, and reading character shaping books like YWAM’s Christian Hero’s Then and Now series.

1 Verse Bible Study is a new idea birthed this summer as God is growing us into using basic Bible study methods. It should help us and our children learn to meditate on scripture, listen in to the Holy Spirit’s voice, apply scripture to our personal lives, and remember what we’ve learned. Its easy enough for a 2nd grader and kindergardener to do, but also really effective for receiving revelation from the Lord for all ages.

Its quite simple and quick. Someone picks a verse and reads it aloud several times, we all highlight it in our Bibles, then we quietly think about it and pray it. We may journal our thoughts and pictures in our prayer journals if we wish. We encourage the kids to ask God and themselves questions about the verse as they meditate. Then we have a discussion in which we each take a turn to share out what the Holy Spirit showed us. Each person shares at least one idea or one question, and everyone can help shed light on the questions that come up. I love that everyone gets to participate, and we are having some of our best Bible related discussions this way. Plus, learning to hear the Holy Spirit through the Word is a skill that our children can take into adulthood for their personal Bible study and for leading Bible studies.

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When we meditate quietly, we may close our eyes and try to visualize the verse in order to receive revelation, as I did with Psalm 119:105 – my 1 verse Bible Study with the kids the other day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Family Club Meetings

Besides Bible Study, we desire to hold Club Meetings ever so often on Family Nights, for fun and for training our children to maturity. We found the Keepers/Contenders of the Faith program handbooks will help us achieve a family club where Moms can teach daughters, fathers can teach sons, and we can foster close relationships between us all as we learn fun skills together. We plan to hold Family Club Meetings in our living room every other Monday night. It is a brand new program for us this year, but we hope Keepers and Contenders will serve as a family scouting experience for us, and a fun way to earn badges for all kinds of handicrafts and a host of other wonderful skills. We have the Contenders of the Faith handbook for boys and the Keepers of the Faith handbook for girls to help guide our badge work. This amazingly thorough list of life skills from Keepers/Contenders can help prepare our children to someday manage a home, lead a family, and be a Christian witness–while helping to build a special family unity here in the few short years we have them. Our meeting agendas will be something simple such as:

  1. Prayer
  2. Song or HymnImage result for contenders of the faith club
  3. Words of Encouragement Image result for keeper of the faith club
  4. Pledge of Allegiance
  5. Recite Memory Work
  6. Game
  7. Check on Badge Work Progress; Discuss Badge Work Goals to Accomplish Before our Next Meeting
  8. Badge Work

 

 

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Our Prayer Wall

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I am pleased to have finished our “Prayer Wall” this summer, to support us in moving progressively towards a stronger understanding of prayer and prayer strategy (while still remaining Spirit led of course). We use our prayer wall during morning devotions and also at night once we start up Family Bible Study with daddy this fall. PRAYER is our little makeshift acronym to remind us how to pray, as we grow in understanding…….Praise God for who He is, Really thank Him, Ask for forgiveness, Your needs, Everyone else’s needs, Release seed. Seed is the Word of God, and we are learning to plant scriptures related to our needs, and others, whenever we pray so that there may be a harvest in due time (a good little devotional for teaching this principle pictured below).

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The top chalkboard on our Prayer Wall lists current short term needs, and the cups contain long term prayer focuses for Our Family, Loved ones, and the World. We have stood on God’s promises for our children and ourselves for many years, but they were scattered in different journals and binders and Bibles. Now the scriptures are organized in one place and easily accessible by all! Praise the Lord! The ‘Family’ cup has slips of paper with a topic such as ‘Godly Friendships’ or ‘Health’ on one side and our corresponding promise from the Word on the other. The ‘World’ cup has slips of paper with people groups, nations, and general world needs (natural disasters, government, missions, churches, etc.). The kids can use the map to locate the nation named on their slip of paper. They can also use our Window on the World book to get prayer points and background on a nation or people group. The ‘Loved Ones’ cup has slips of paper with the names of all the family and friends our kids could think of (they sounded out and wrote the names themselves).

 

God is growing all of us in different ways according to our needs! How is He challenging you to run your race well this year?

With our vision written plain, our running shoes on, and our faces set like a flint, we will keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and we will press on to receive all that he has promised. Thank you for praying for our family, let me know how we can be praying for yours.

Victory is ours!

Our Sweet Summer Memories

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Breakfast at the Cravalhos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Faith found a frog in our backyard!

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Now we have two!

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We started doing The Lord’s Table this summer as a family

a camper?

Is it a camper?

Noah's first batch of pancakes--with his own touch on top

Noah’s first batch of pancakes–with his own touch on top

Constant fort building

Constant fort building all summer

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Shine Worship Festival 2016 at The Lord’s Land (1 Verse Bible Study spawned from this trip)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hiking at Mitchell Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BF’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Noah dreamed big this summer, one dream was to paint a train backdrop for our 4th of July Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Faithy’s playhouse decorated for the 4th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The most adorable 4th of July Show ever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We were pleased with the finished backdrop for the stage

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Cousins stayed over for a few days

 

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Clean up training for little Daniel has been rough

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All Cozy for Family Movie Night

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Little Mommy

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A fun Ride in a Really Big Dump truck at Daddy’s Work

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Happy Father’s Day Daddy–just what you always wanted!

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Hiking to the falls at Sunol Regional Wilderness

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Thankful for inspiration to capture precious moments (right before she lost her two front teeth)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October Lesson Plans

2015-2016 Preschool-2nd Grade

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

Ephesians 1:18

“God has laid up spiritual blessings for us in his Son the Lord Jesus; but requires us to draw them out and fetch them in by prayer.” –Matthew Henry

Ephesians 1:18 has a very special place in my memories. There was a season in my late teens/early twenties where God met me so richly and deeply; the eyes of my understanding were being opened, and I was walking in oceans deep. My friends, sister, and I spent hours praying and seeking Him because it felt like the heavens opened to rain down His sweet presence every time we gathered. I didn’t understand why it was happening, except that I knew our pastors believed in our potential and prayed hard for us. They laid hands on me and the other youth, and spoke over our lives many times. As they prayed, God rushed upon us in such a way that we were crying or speechless or laid out on the floor. The scripture verse that stood out the most from this season of life and will be forever etched in my heart was Ephesians 1:18.

With a heart full of expectation, Ephesians 1:18, was what I felt impressed to make our theme verse for this school year. I pray that God will open the eyes of my children’s hearts so that they can imagine the riches of God’s will for their future, that even while they are imaginitively pretending during long creative afternoon play sessions, they are in the Holy Spirit, and dreaming big! I pray for their exciting calling to be courageous heroes for Christ as Ephesians becomes fulfilled in their lives. I pray for courageous children who grow up to powerfully serve the Lord and make a difference in this world.

Every year in October at Jesus’s Precious Lambs we study and visit community helpers, and the children think about what they want to be when they grow up. Last year, God really breathed life into the theme as He gave mommy and daddy ideas to kindle the fires of our children’s heroic astronaut dreams. We found an astronaut costume at a second hand store, we went to Chabot Space and Science Center, we made a big cardboard rocket, we checked out astronaut and space books from the library, and made some awesome spaceship paintings. It was such a special, unforgettable month, and yet just the beginning of so much more. Through prayer, and the opening of the eyes of our hearts to understand the hope of His calling, these natural activities had a special supernatural dimension that is hard to express in words. The presence of the Lord is in the stuff that dreams are made of, and though my kids may not become astronauts, the dreaming capacity of their hearts, and ours, was certainly enlarged that month.

I love the “super” that is put on the natural, when targeted, Spirit-led prayer is a component of lesson planning in homeschool. Don’t you love when the reading for the day “just happens” to really speak to where your family is at, or you are studying insects and the children catch a praying mantis or dragonfly or butterfly in the backyard, or you find a new way to present math or spelling that really smooths out the day?? Sometimes these are bright spots of God’s unexpected and undeserved grace on our homeschool……… but sometimes they are spiritual blessings that have been drawn out or fetched from the spirit realm by intentional prayer. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesian 1:3

A most wonderful spiritual blessing for a homeschooling family is the growth of a child’s character. I challenge us all to make specific prayer requests in areas that we desire to see growth in our children, and then just as importantly, to look expectantly and eagerly each day for the answers to those prayers. We will find answers abound when we are looking for them in every little thing. When we train ourselves to find the hand of God in daily life, we will begin to see so much more. As we see more, faith rises more, enabling us to see even more, and so we are able believe for always more than before. The faith enlarging pursuit of growing children in the character of God, with the partnership of the Spirit, is an exciting snowball effect that puts passion into our homeschools! The largest passion of our Jesus’ Precious Lambs homeschool comes from character study/habit training.

Any effective character study begins in prayer. In order to combat negative habits, such as fear or quarreling, and then be empowered to move forward in virtues, such as courage or peacemaking, the power of prayer is essential. Since character growth begins with prayer, prayers are being uttered from my lips before the month even begins, as soon as a character trait/habit has been selected. Every month I select a new habit for us all to work on while we continue to work on an “old” habit (we maintain the special traditions that go along with the original “habits of the month” from our “Masterplan“–for example, we continue to work on “courage” year after year as the repeating theme of October). I use various books and websites to gather relevant stories, poems, quotes, scriptures, etc., that will serve as inspiration to change and as discussion starters at Circle Time. We start school everyday with character discussions at Circle Time, and allow time to pray together for the divine assistance we need in order to achieve a measure of success by the end of the month. I have seen God move every month in our family in response to these simple steps of faith!

Since it all revolves around prayer, I add a section called “Prayer Time” right into my lesson plans, which is a list of prayer ideas for the month (see plans below). Planning prayer really helps us to pray more targeted prayers, and to pray with scriptural insight and guidance over the new habit we are forming. I use the prayer points listed in “Prayer Time” during my personal prayer time as well as with the kids in Circle Time. I also ask family or friend prayer partners to print out the prayers, and uphold my kids all month by uniting with us, praying the same prayer targets. Kids of Integrity has great sample prayers that we like to use (and fun hands on character study ideas too). It took several years of homeschooling, but we are getting more strategic in our approach to prayer, praise God.

Another important prayer strategy is prophesying–making a declaration, or calling things forth. We must speak boldly and often about what God is going to do. When faced with various challenges, we boldly speak out the hopes of our hearts that align with scripture; calling forth “things that are not as though they are.” A mother’s Godly dreams for her family often differ from how things at home actually look, so she must be courageous to call those dreams forth in the spirit realm. For example, if I sense false or empty or aimless occupations trying to take residence in my children’s hearts, my prophetic declaration (preceded by some Bible study) might sound like this:

“My children desire God above all else, and pursue Him passionately in prayer, worship and the Word. As the Spirit hovers over our school, my children creatively display God’s glory through art, writing, singing, nature study and other academic and creative means. They articulately discuss the scriptures during family discussions, growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. In meekness and grace they share the truth and defend the truth in the world; blameless and pure, they shine like stars as they hold forth the Word of life. The eyes of their hearts are open, the deep mysteries and secrets of God’s heart are revealed to them, and they know their unique calling and rich inheritance. They perceive who they are created to be in Christ Jesus and boldly pursue the calling on their life. They are heroes for Christ who serve their generation. They are ministers of love in our family and circle of neighbors; God has them right here, right now, for such a time as this.”

Prophecy can sound a lot like prayer, but it is a declaration more than a request, and is spoken in the present tense. It’s only a matter of time until what we spoke in the spirit realm manifests itself in the natural. What we say today creates our tomorrow, so start prophesying those hopes for your family now.

I am ready to walk into revelation oceans deep with my children right there beside me, aren’t you? God, open the eyes of our hearts and enlighten us to understand strategic and intentional approaches to prayer, lesson planning, and habit training. Let passion come. Let us walk upon the waters wherever You would call us; Spirit lead us to a place without borders. XOXOXO

To better understand how we use these lesson plans below, and get the “full picture”, please see our curriculum overview for the whole school year, and a “hypothetical” daily schedule (it rarely happens in perfection). To let you know where our plans come from, we purchase Simply Charlotte Mason’s lesson plan handbooks for History/Bible, Geography, and Nature Study. We use their free curriculum guide, book finder, and discussion forum to help us select books for other subjects (no lesson plan books needed). Living books, being the emphasis of a Charlotte Mason education, means that most of our curriculum is purchased from Abebooks.com, or comes free from the library. School for us is just a big stack of carefully chosen living books, and narration; no textbooks, workbooks, or scripted lesson plans. We love how Charlotte Mason methods are easy and delightful!

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.Fun Theme: Community Helpers/Heroes

Seasonal Theme: Autumn

Character/Habit: Fear vs. Courage, Quarreling vs. Peacemaking

Bible: Joshua and Judges

History/Geography: Ancient Greece, Middle East

Nature Study: Ponds and Streams

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Parent Study:

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  • Make a prayer wall in our living room to help organize and increase our prayer time
  • Read Hints on Child Training
  • Read Caught up in a Story to help foster IMAGINATION

Art, Music, and Poetry Study:

All Things Bright and Beautiful Blog and picture study from Noah’s Ark book

Character/Habit Development:

Wisdom and the Millers: Proverbs for Children | Main photo (Cover)

  • Read Wisdom and the Millers: A Place of Refuge p.80 and A Brother’s Love p.108
  • Review Stewardship Street memory verses that go with each of the 7 categories of savings, and review the “Go to the ant checklist” poster by Doorposts together. Refine work habits and servant attitude, offer opportunities for initiative and choice (like Observe and Serve). Pay Noah (6) in dimes and Faith (4) in stickers once a week (a natural math opportunity).
  • Have Noah study and write out verses on fear and quarreling from his Child Training Bible (Child Study Bible– also see “Bible” section below)

Circle Time/Family Time:

Blessing Time:

Prophesy Ephesians 1:18 over ourselves.

I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened, so that we will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

Ephesians 1:18

Prayer Time

  • Bring a prepared scripture verse promise to Circle Time for each child to memorize and learn to stand on this month. Make it personal and based on each child’s needs. Hold each others needs and corresponding promise close to our hearts in prayer the entire school year. Teach children to pray over siblings and friends and their promises.
  • Pray for children who heroically stand up for what they believe in, face and overcome temptation, and stand strongly in the face of adversity. Pray for the exciting future careers and callings of my children, and for their most exciting calling of all–to be courageous heroes for Christ. Pray for courageous children who grow up to powerfully serve the Lord and make a difference in this world. Pray this prayer for courage.
  • Pray for peace at home between brothers and sister. Pray this prayer for peacemakers.

Sharing Time:

  • Talk about what scares us personally, and how we might work to overcome our fears. Also, practice giving encouragement to embolden one another, both in sharing time and in scary situations.
  • Do something really brave this month and share about it at circle
  • Bring a picture and/or story of someone who is a hero to you

Discussion Time:

Read these stories, poems, & quotes/do the activities, and then start a discussion.

Courage: “Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

  • Slowly savor thoughtful ideas about courage, discuss one a day:
    • selfishness makes us cowards, but thinking of others makes us braver
    • we become brave by doing brave acts
    • we practice bravery by acting brave when we don’t really feel brave
    • the brave person is not someone who is never afraid
    • the fear of failures never hurts as bad as we expect them to
    • we imagine our fears into existence (Job and Chicken Little)
    • to refrain from foolish cowardice, refrain from too much mountain-making our of molehills
  • Read short true stories about the lives of Christian heroes

Peacemaker:

Bible:

  • Early Morning: Personal time in a variety of Bibles and Bible Storybooks, Leading Little Ones to God Devotional together or a NT excerpt from mommy’s Bible
  • School: Read and narrate stories from Joshua and Judges in the Children’s story Bible by Catherine Vos, or my ESV Study Bible (about 2 chapters a day, 3x a week)
  • Afternoon Quiet Time: Read at pleasure in our Child’s Study Bible tabbed on various topics; Draw and write in Prayer Journals
  • Night: Family Bible study led by daddy 3x a week

Leading Little Ones to God BB01

Memory Verses:

‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” Acts 2:17
Also we will review:

  • Psalm 23
  • Review October verses from previous years: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
  • “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” Psalms 31:24

 Hymns:

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Poetry Recitation:

Hold Fast Your Dreams

by Louise Driscoll
Hold fast your dreams!
Within your heart
Keep one still, secret spot
Where dreams may go,
And, sheltered so,
May thrive and grow
Where doubt and fear are not.
O keep a place apart,
Within your heart,
For little dreams to go!

Handwriting:

  • Writing for Real Life: written letters, birthday cards, thank you cards, shopping lists, nature journal entries, prayer journal entries, All About Me book, spelling words, poem, or memory verse.
  • Hand write new reading words from Delightful Reading curriculum. (Faith)
  • First 12 lessons in Print to Cursive. (Noah)

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Spelling: (Noah)

Noah will study, word build, hand write, and recite the spelling of all the new reading words from one story a week. We don’t use the Pathway Series readers as readers, but rather as a fun way to provide the words for our spelling. We love the sweet stories in these books.

Reading: (Faith)

Materials:  printed poem, word cards for each of the following words, loose letters                 

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                   Rain

“The rain is falling all around

It falls on tree and field”…….

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Reading Lessons:

1. Write one word from the poem on the board

2. Discuss the word

3. Study it closely, then erase

4. Find the word card from a small pile of cards, then hide the card

5. Spell the word with loose letters (from memory if possible)

6. Find the word in the printed poem

7. Repeat steps 1-6 with each word

8. Do a review of all the words listed up on the board

Word Building Lessons (reading and pre-spelling):

Using loose letters, build words that rhyme with each of the words in the 1st two lines of the poem (ex: rain–Cain, stain, plain, train, gain).

(Lessons 1-4 in Delightful Reading by Simply Charlotte Mason)

Vocabulary:

Most will be learned naturally in conversation as words in question arise, but I also will have Noah look up words sometimes to learn dictionary skills and to spur a love for new words.

Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 Edition - By: Noah Webster

Literature Read Alouds:

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History and Geography:

  • SCM’s Joshua-Malachi & Ancient Greece lesson plan book includes 1 chapter a week from a living book and 4 chapters a week from the spine (Bible portion is mentioned above). Noah will either narrate readings orally or narrate in his history sketchbook with a drawing of what he remembers.

Joshua through Malachi & Ancient Greece.  https://i1.wp.com/www.nothingnewpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/greeks-cover-600x400.jpg

  • One lesson a week from SCM’s Visits to the Middle East lesson plan book
  • Pray for the country of the week (as selected in the lesson plan book) using the prayer points in Window on the World

  • We will also do a few lessons from Home Geography

Math:

Lessons are from Kathy Richardson’s math books and AL Math Card Games:

Understanding Geometry Book

Exploration Time: In the morning just before school, provide pattern blocks, unifix cubes, building blocks, tangrams, geoboards, tiles, pattern blocks, etc. for free exploration of math materials. What can you do with these materials? What did you notice? What did you have to do in order to make it? Try to observe while they are working, and sometimes make a comment about what you observe. When children need a suggestion ask, “I wonder if….” or “Do you think it would work to….?” or “Do you have another idea?,” so that they feel free to decide on their own.

Ongoing Review: Spend a few minutes once a week during math lessons to practice instant recognition of number combinations. Use homemade “flashcards” with arrangements of items that can be counted (like toothpicks or buttons that can be grouped into two numbers upon closer inspection in order to quickly find the total). Hold up a card and say, “Tell me fast. How many?” Sometimes ask, “How did you know?” (Cause there is a four and a three, and that’s seven) When recognizing groups of more than five easily, child will have to mentally combine the smaller groups that make up the larger ones.

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Geometry:

Copy Cat (p.19) Children create structures out of provided or self-selected math materials and their partners copy them. For preschoolers, have their partner add just one block at a time as they copy if you see that they are struggling.

Recording Designs and Creations (p.22)

  • Pattern blocks: Record a pattern block design with pattern block paper shapes or triangle grid paper (for extra challenge). The challenge is in the reproduction. Provide a paper to build upon to control complexity–smaller paper for easier designs, bigger paper for more challenging designs.
  • Tiles: Record with colored paper squares.
  • Geoboards: Record on another geoboard (easier), onto same size geoboard paper (hard), onto smaller geoboard paper (harder), or onto plain paper (hardest). Ask children what they see in their design (“I see a trapezoid, a square, and a rectangle.”)

Noah’s Lessons:

  • Place Value lessons in Book #3 by Kathy Richardson on pages 14-31–learning to regroup by 4’s, 5’s, and 6’s (preparation for grouping by 10’s, the base 10 system).
  • Noah will begin recording subtraction facts in in his blank Subtraction Book, just as he slowly made an Addition Book recording all addition facts (up to 10) that he explored with manipulatives last school year. For example, after doing the “combinations of 7” activity pictured below, he used colored pencils to record his findings (3+4=7, 5+2=7, etc.) with pictures of cubes labeled with number sentences in his book (held in his hands). Each 2 page spread was dedicated to the research compiled for one number. After each math lesson, he would look into his book to see if he had discovered a new combination or if he confirmed one that he had already recorded. IMG_0067

Games:

  • Time to Any Hour (p. 61) Put the hour and minute cards face down in two separate piles. Provide a real clock. Have child form a time by turning over the top minute card and the top hour card, and then set the clock to match.
  • Compare Times (p. 62) Players take turns setting the clock. Then they make the time with their cards.
  • To One Hundred (p. 26) Make a stock pile of 5’s and 10’s cards. Player take the top card and enters that number of beads on his abacus. Players take turns adding by 5’s and 10’s until someone reaches 100 exactly. Variation: Use a hundreds chart instead of an abacus.
  • Addition War (p. 39) Using about 40 1-9 numeral cards, deal the cards out evenly. Players take the top two cards from their stacks, set them face up, add them together, and say the sum aloud. The player with the higher sum takes all four cards. Equal sums means war and each player places two extra cards face down, and then places two more face up to add together. The higher sum takes all the cards.
  • Showing a Number On Various Manipulatives Use an abacus, place value cards, unifix cubes, and a hundreds chart to show a number like 37 or 56 or 94 on various manipulatives.
  • Sort Attribute Blocks One person sorts all the blocks one at a time into piles according to a secret rule (thin and red), while the others watch and try to guess the rule. Or one person chooses a rule, and the other chooses a block and asks if it belongs. Play continues until the rule can be stated.
  • Make Attribute Block Patterns Also have the child find the error in a pattern or a missing block.

Extra: Download and print open ended math questions to use as time allows. Ask Noah to provide as many answers as he can (When applicable).

Example of an open ended question:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/FREEBIE-January-Open-Ended-Math-Question-for-Journals-or-Do-Nows-First-Grade-1601205

Faith’s Lessons:

Week 1  Copy a Design Made on a Geoboard

Week 2 Grow and Shrink (p. 35)

Materials: Counters, dot cubes (dice, or make your own) or numeral cubes (make your own) with quantities at your child’s level (1-6 or 4-9 or 7-12 for example). Lesson: Name a number and have children put out that many counters. Name another number and have children show that number. Continue naming numbers and notice how the children approach the task. Do they remove all the counters every time or do they add (or take off) just the amount they need? Say, “Do you think we need to get some more or take some off to make the number?”, but do not teach them how to add and take away counters. Simply observe their level of thinking. Extension: Have children roll a dot cube to practice recognizing quantities, or a number cube to practice recognizing numerals.

Week 3 Arrangement Patterns (p. 107)

Materials: Unifx cubes and pattern task cards made by drawing squares in different arrangments. Lesson: Children choose a task card, copy the pattern with the unifix cubes, and then extend the pattern. Children will learn that patterns are not just in straight lines.

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Week 4 Is it More or Less? (p. 146)

Materials: Unifix cubes. Lesson: Have children build several trains of specified lengths (all under ten). Say, “Show me a train that has more than six. Show me a train that has less than six.” State the relationship together: “Four is less than six, six is more than four.” Repeat with trains of various lengths. Extension: Decide how many more or how many less one train has than the other. “What can we do to the red train to make it just as long as the blue train?” is easier than “How many more cubes does the red train have than the blue train?” Choose the wording your children are ready for.

Week 5 Stacks

Materials: Unifix cubes Lesson: You and the children each make a stack of 10 to 12 cubes and then hide the stacks behind your backs. Say, “Stacks,” and then everyone breaks off part of their stack and places it in front of them. Each child compares their stack to yours announcing something like, “Two is less than three” or “Five is more than three”. Ask, “What can we do to make these two stacks the same?” or “How many more cubes does your stack have than mine?” (Five cubes is 2 more than 3) depending on what language each child is ready for.

          Games:

  • Dot and Number Memory (p.14) Match even and odd dot cards to matching numeral cards (all placed in order in two separate rows upside down).
  • Even Odd Dot Memory (p.15) Same as game above except one person collects evens, the other collects odds (to become more aware of the difference).
  • Build a staircase on the abacus
  • Sort Attribute Blocks–same shape, different thickness; same color, different shape; same thickness, different size; different color, different thickness; same thickness, different shape; same thickness, different size, different shape; same color, different thickness, different shape.

Nature Study:

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Spanish:

A few lessons from Speaking Spanish, a book that uses Charlotte Mason methods.

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Videos:

Reading Rainbow, Moody Science Classics, BBC’s Planet nature shows are what we rotate through at Family Movie Night on Fun Friday. We love all 3!

READING RAINBOW:DESERT LIFE

Traditions and Fun Friday Projects:

  • Chalk Pastel Fall Art

Fall Walk in the Woods Chalk Pastel Art Tutorial www.hodgepodge.me

  • Collect Signs of Fall, Make a Collage, Do Leaf Rubbings, Press Leaves, and Draw Fall Leaves in Our Nature Journals

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  • Make and deliver our annual “Fall Blessings” to the neighbors and spend time during morning devotions praying for each family.

Putting Some Blessings Together for Our Neighbors

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  • Invite a Neighbor to Tea

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Fieldtrips:

  • Exploratorium–October 9th
  • Ardenwood Harvest Festival–pick popping corn to take home on Sunday, October 11th
  • Nature Grubs Class–learn fun secrets about rattlesnakes on October 21st with East Bay Parks naturalist Katie Colbert

Picking Popcorn at Ardenwood Historic Farm

“Freedom lies in being bold.” ― Robert Frost

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Living on Stewardship Street

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How can I teach my children to be more helpful around the house?………

Should I be spending more time on habits, and less time on school work?……..

Should my children be paid to help or simply help to be helpful?……..

How would my children benefit from being paid to work?………

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Our theme in March is “I am Helpful,” and hardworking, responsible, useful, and productive too! As Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord…,” we are practicing helping out around our home with daily chores and spring cleaning, while also working on maintaining enthusiastic attitudes. The children are fledgling spring cleaners, but nevertheless we are attempting to tackle dirty, unorganized, and out of control things such as toy bins, panty shelves, sliding door tracks, school bins, and outdoor weeding. As if the daily chores at home aren’t demanding enough on both our time and our attitudes! Spring cleaning adds a whole new challenging dimension to “working heartily as unto the Lord.” Its our daily chore system however, that has been the biggest “habits” formation component of our kindergarten since implemented 8 months ago. I don’t have all the answers as we are still struggling to make headway in habits, but I would love to share our personal experience thus far in training kids to be helpers at home.

Prior to kindergarten, during the preschool years, my main goal is to have the children simply learn to take care of themselves–like get dressed and wash their own plate–without prompting or prodding. It sounds simple enough, but moms of preschoolers know that this is no small task. They can also help around the house as preschoolers are often eager to do.

Once personal care jobs were successfully accomplished with some regularity by my eldest child, Noah, he moved into lots more “serving the family” type jobs by helping with actual housework, which we decided can be paid work starting in kindergarten. Job training for these “Service Jobs” occured in part during the preschool years, and then the rest, the summer before kindergarten so we would be ready to get started. Its was a gradual progression of acquiring the skills necessary to perform the jobs listed on our board, definitely not an overnight endeavor. Thanks to job training we now spend a considerable amount of time each morning practicing these skills while refining attitudes, and cooperatively getting the house out of chaos before school. I can’t believe school continues to commence at 10:30 in the morning by the time we are done with our “jobs”! However, I am glad that we are putting the time in to work on habits now at this age when school is light, rather than later.

Our Service board show kids what their daily assignments are. Noah is the green markers and Faith is the red markers (clay shaped into hearts).

Our Service Jobs Board helps kids to know with a glance how to help everyday. Noah is the green markers, and Faith the red. Markers are colored clay I make into shapes.

To begin with, I struggled to find the “right answer” as to whether a child should be paid to help, or whether it should be the duty of every family member to serve without expecting to receive any reward. I don’t know that there is one right answer, but we decided that paying our children would provide incredible hands on money learning opportunities (like tithing, saving, and budgeting) that we couldn’t pass up. The Biblical principles in Doorposts’ blog post, Learning Early to Budget, resonated with us, and Doorposts little Stewardship Street book was the product that helped make our decision come to life. We live on Stewardship Street now!

Noah, our 6 year old, now has a “stewardship street” of coin banks, hand painted with love by mommy, one for each category of savings suggested by Doorposts. The Stewardship Street book suggests making milk carton banks and dressing them up as buildings with the patterns the book provides. However, painted birdhouses also work well as coin banks, and are sturdier than milk cartons. I think Noah’s set turned out really cute! Noah’s Stewardship Street has proved to be a wonderful learning experience this year. At Christmas time, Noah was able to use his hard earned money from his gift store coin bank (short term savings) to buy a few friends and siblings Christmas gifts from the dollar store. From saving and counting up his own money, to shopping and paying for his own gifts, to wrapping and delivering his own gifts–it was quite a learning experience in so many ways for our then 5 year old boy! He was so enthusiastic and I have never seen his heart so into giving.

We are learning memory verses that teach our children the Biblical reasons to save in each of the 7 categories. This month for example, we are learning the verse for our Living Expenses bank (clothing store) : “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10. By the end of the school year we will have memorized a verse that teaches about each coin bank, which helps give meaning and understanding to each one.

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Short Term Savings–a gift store
Dowry–a cozy home
Long Term Savings–a rocket (future dreams)
Living Expenses–a clothing store
Charity and Missions–a lighthouse
Tithing–a church
Spending–a toy store

Right now we pay just a dime per job well done, and double pay for a job well done without any complaining ($.20). This usually adds up to about 6 dimes per day total, and Noah drops 1 dime each into 6 different coin banks every morning (until he can use math to figure percentages, we are keeping allocations to each coin bank equal so that it is easy). We figured that paying dimes is affordable and helps a kindergartener learn to count by 10’s. At this rate, Noah will have $3 each month to buy a toy from his “Spending Bank” savings, or save up all year for a bigger toy, like an inexpensive lego set, for example. It pricks my heart a little bit that he has to work so hard for seemingly so little. However, all 7 savings categories are important, and being faithful to each area teaches better financial stewardship than say, letting our child put 50% of his earnings towards buying things he wants for himself. Its a rude awakening when we have to grow up one day and realize that often the reality is we can/should only spend a little bit on ourselves, which is especially difficult if we are used to spending so much of our earnings all on ourselves throughout childhood.

But what if paying my children prevents them from truly serving? What if they only want to help around the house because there is pay in it?  Should there be times that they simply help to be helpful? Yes, that is the answer my heart settled on–there must still be times for them to exercise selfless serving with no expectation of monetary reward. For one thing, we have chosen not to pay on weekends. Mommy may also ask anytime for help with anything besides what is assigned on the Service Job Board, and the kids lend a hand without being paid. We also have designated times to simply practice serving from our heart. We set the timer for 30 minutes and call it “Observe and Serve Time.” (see below). Also, I encourage the kids to do a “Secret Serve,” which is doing something helpful for someone in secret.

This “Job” hierarchy below details my thoughts on the progression of learning to serve. Success in one level may indicate greater readiness for operating in the next level. :

“Jobs”

Taking care of oneself everyday. Unpaid.

(washing and dressing, pick up own toys, wash own dishes,

clean own room, put away own laundry)

“Service Jobs”

Assigned jobs that help the family everyday. Paid.

(vacuuming the living room, wiping the table, dusting,

helping cooking a meal, sorting laundry, etc.)

“Observe and Serve Time”

Time set aside on select days to practice using our powers of observation

to look around and see what needs to be done, and then do it for each other.

No assigned jobs, work comes from the heart and of one’s own volition. Unpaid.

“True Serving”

Child/Teen finds needs all day long and meets them without being told what to do.

Training in the 3 previous levels is no longer needed once he/she is a true servant.

Consistently shows a true servants heart. Periodically rewarded in some way.

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 What is your chore system? How do you encourage the habit of helpfulness at home?

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    Sewing up his heart for Doris

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    D is for Doris

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Swan babies love Daddy swan

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Faith decides to write a note

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Noah starts trying to read his Bible. “A dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

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Daniel enjoying some nut butter

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Helper Noah

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My girl building at Home Depot

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Helpers Faith and Daniel Team Up

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Brothers Reading

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Our helper theme board. “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2

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Beautiful Fairytales

The Value of Imaginative Literature in Character Education

I love that homeschool affords our children constant opportunity to learn how to discern between good and evil, right and wrong. Character education involves moving children deeply with sympathy for the good and repugnance for the evil, and inspiring them to act in accordance with these perceptions. This is rarely accomplished by preaching at children or moralizing to them. Although I am sure we feel that we make some really good points in our mommy “sermons” :), our children can instead be most inspired to be good by seeing goodness lived out in their parents, and also by reading and “living out” the ideas present in great stories depicting moral character. Reading biographies of historical heroes is one effective way to approach character education, and since I have previously discussed the value of historical heroes on my blog, today we will look into the value of imaginative literature such as fairy stories and folk tales.

Olive Beaupre, editor of My Book House, explains how the story of Cinderella, for example, evokes children to hate evil and side with good:

It has been said that fairy tales give many children their first clear perception of the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, and at their best this is certainly true. No child can sympathize deeply with the patience and gentleness and sweetness of Cinderella and hate the selfishness and vanity of the stepsisters, without all unconsciously registering a definite and lasting impression which forms a permanent part of his ideals.

Properly selected imaginative tales with good morals intertwined feed our children’s moral imaginations with portrayals of courage and faith, strength and perseverance, honesty and loyalty, which is motivation for character growth. According to Olive Beaupre:

Beginning with his earliest fairy tales, the child commences to see in his stories, quite without any drawing of morals or particular direction of his attention to the fact, what qualities are splendid and noble, what qualities are base and ignoble, and for the very reason that the tale does entertain him, does interest him so intensely and move him to the very depths of his being, the impression left by the story is far more lasting and permanent than any sermon that could be preached on the subject, and constitutes itself an influence upon him greater than any other one thing which comes into his life, except the ideas and ideals that surround him in his own home, which, it must never be forgotten, leave the most telling marks upon his character.

Character education done through the programs run at our local schools, such as Character Counts!, has little effect on moral imagination (sometimes neither does the character education component that comes out of a boxed homeschool curriculum for that matter). Regrettably, simplistic little morality tales seem to be preferred by school educators over rich, complex literature. School Character Education Programs also favor practical and realistic stories that have a distilled moral message containing plainly stated values and principles. Character training is a dose of spoon fed medicine. The stories have no beauty or imaginative quality to draw readers in, or draw them back to revisit and contemplate ideas further, and so the stories are disposable……and that is exactly how the children’s conscience handles them. Even when character education curricula include impressive pieces of writing, the works tend to be used for the purpose of drumming in simple lessons. School character education methods often don’t engage students in critical thinking discussions either. For sake of time, or lack of faith in the children’s powers of mind, a teacher might state plainly, “This man is a hero; do what he did,” for example, rather than involving the students in deciding who (if anyone) is heroic in a given story, and why. At school or at home, character education is sorely deficient if we don’t use proper literature or allow  ideas to germinate within a child’s soul.

I am glad that homeschool can be so different. Heart to heart discussions surrounding rich literature selections, occurring under the guidance of the all knowing Holy Spirit, can actually be the norm. A life hewn out of such experiences at home will be magnificently distinctive.

Character, the real object of all reading……let there be beauty, sweetness, and light

Rather than teach ethics from literature that reads somewhat like a “how to” manual, there is a better way. But what stories will we choose to stimulate and sharpen a child’s moral imagination? Many parents today don’t read original fairy tales to their children because they are simply too harsh, violent, scary, or downright evil. And as cute as they may appear, Disney’s versions are actually too full of bad values. Modern fairy tales, while they may lack some of the more objectionable features of the old stories, are sentimental and wishywashy, and lack also all the splendid and convincing sincerity, vitality and strength of the folk tales. The old folk and fairy tales, properly weeded, still remain the real solid foundation for a child’s reading. However, children’s stories must be carefully selected. Too many stories have competing messages in them and Olive Beaupre feels that this essentially contributes to marred character development:

……smug self-satisfaction, their mental and spiritual laziness, to express in their various relationships and lines of activity, all the subtle dishonesty, selfishness, littleness, bigotry, superstition, conventionality, narrowness, envy, hatred and greed of a flourishing and unchallenged but well veiled and covered evil, that all too frequently wears the cloak of righteousness and respectability.

As my faith in the value of great imaginative literature has grown, naturally I have increasingly sought out good fairy tales, but it has proven to be a difficult process of elimination! Its been hard to sort through books of fairy tales to try to find ones that would not just be safe to read, but also provide a feast of sweet and noble ideas for my impressionable little ones. I want so much to feed the imaginations of the little people in this house with beautiful tales that I know must exist somewhere!!

Well, finally I found a true gem…… My Book House. Olive Beaupre and her compilation of literature in My Book House has recently graced my life, and is now helping to fill that growing desire for literature that awakens moral imagination. My Book House is a 6 volume, age leveled, anthology of children’s stories, compiled in the 1920s by Olive Beaupre who carefully selected stories for their literary quality and good morals. There are indeed great selections. Now, let me mention, I still pre-screen unfamiliar selections, because Olive and I don’t see eye to eye on everything of course, but, at least I won’t be throwingout 80% of what I am finding, like my pre-screening of other fairy tale compilations from the library.

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Here is a little more about My Book House in the words of the author, Olive Beaupre:

In My BOOK HOUSE, I have tried to give children the best in literature, gathered from the greatest authors of the past and present, and from our rich heritage of old folk tales, told from generation to generation in every country in the world. But I have selected those stories with care. Avoiding those tales where evil traits of character, such as lying and cheating to gain one’s ends, have been made to appear good, I have chosen only those where truly desirable qualities invite the child’s admiration. I have tried also to grade all this material as wisely as possible, that the child might have the right story at the right age, and to put it forth so beautifully illustrated that it would be irresistable to him. Here, in these twelve volumes, adult and child can enter, hand-in-hand, a wonderful realm of imagination and beauty, portrayed in the best literary forms of verse and prose….

The permanent value of My BOOK HOUSE arises from the fact that at the time of its inception, I had no pet theory of education to advance…. I was in search of fundamentals, simple fundamentals, which must remain eternally true. Chaos then existed and is, unfortunately, still permitted to exist, in the realm of reading for children. They were being given stories, ethically sound, all jumbled up with those where the ethical slant was bad, and stories for the older children were being read to the child when he was too young, overwhelming him with fright and confusion by presenting to him characters and situations far beyond his understanding at the moment. Out of this chaos I was trying to bring order, an order that could never be disturbed. So let me review a few basic principles, with which I emerged from my search and on which I built My BOOK HOUSE.

First,–To be well equipped for life, to have ideas and the ability to express them, the child needs a broad background of familiarity with the best in literature.

Second,–His stories and rhymes must be selected with care that he may absorb no distorted view of life and its actual values, but may grow up to be mentally clear about values and emotionally impelled to seek what is truly desirable and worthwhile in human living.

Third,–The stories and rhymes selected must be graded to the child’s understanding at different periods of his growth, graded as to vocabulary, as to subject matter and as to complexity of structure and plot.

Good news! Great Classic Literature Can Be Found Free Online

The rich literature that I have spoken of in this post are, not surprisingly, primarily older works, which happens to be advantageous to homeschoolers trying to operate on a budget. My Book House, for example, being an older book, is in the public domain and can be read as an e-text for free at Google Books. Volume 1 is for the youngest children, starting out with poetry for baby, and gradually moving into longer pieces for small children. Its the perfect volume for my 3 year old. My 5 year old I think could happily stew in volumes 1, 2 and 3 right now at his age and ability. By the way, if you decide to look into My Book House, The Twin Lambs in Volume 1 (page 255), is a thought provoking story about selfishness, and one of my favorites so far.

Volume 1: In the Nursery of My Book House

Volume 2: Up One Pair of Stairs in My Book House

Volume 3: Through The Fairy Halls of My Book House

Volume 4: The Treasure Chest of My Book House

Volume 5: From the Tower Window of My Book House

Volume 6: The Latch Key of My Book House (a volume mostly for parents and teachers)

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ALSO volumes 1-4 can be listened to at Librivox.com, a site with free audio books! Since discovering this great resource, audio books have quickly become a part of our family life as they increase my kids exposure to literature, and are so helpful for homeschooling (mommy can only read so much in a day!), at no extra cost to us! Beware that not all volunteers on Librivox are excellent readers, and some can greatly detract from the story, so be choosy and preview first.

Other Character Education Resources:

The Book of Virtues

Also check out The Book of Virtues out from your library for help selecting literature that addresses specific areas of character. Helpful for planning out character training (ie habit training) for homeschool next year since the book is organized by character trait:

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“Responsibility. Courage. Compassion. Honesty. Friendship. Persistence. Faith. Everyone recognizes these traits as essentials of good character. In order for our children to develop such traits, we have to offer them examples of good and bad, right and wrong. And the best places to find them are in great works of literature and exemplary stories from history.William J. Bennett has collected hundreds of stories in The Book of Virtues, an instructive and inspiring anthology that will help children understand and develop character — and help adults teach them. From the Bible to American history, from Greek mythology to English poetry, from fairy tales to modern fiction, these stories are a rich mine of moral literacy, a reliable moral reference point that will help anchor our children and ourselves in our culture, our history, and our traditions — the sources of the ideals by which we wish to live our lives. Complete with instructive introductions and notes, The Book of Virtues is a book the whole family can read and enjoy — and learn from — together.”
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Laying Down the Rails and Laying Down the Rails Companion Books

If you have money to splurge, don’t forget about these great Simply Charlotte Mason resources, also organized by character trait/habit:

Laying Down the Rails: “Our bestselling book on habit training! Here, compiled into one volume, are all the habits Charlotte mentioned in her writings with her thoughts and suggestions for cultivating each one. This work also includes Charlotte’s help for breaking bad habits, hundreds of inspiring quotes, and lots of practical tips.”

Companion Books: “A habit-training companion for the whole family filled with more than 400 pages of stories, Bible passages, poems, activities, quotations—living ideas that will nestle into your children’s minds and motivate them toward the habits of good character. Corresponds to the award-winning book, Laying Down the Rails.

The Millers Series

I keep hearing great things about The Millers books. “Storytime” is the most simply written, perfect for using first with young children. All the books seem awesome, but “Wisdom” and “Missionary Stories” are especially popular with homeschool families.

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Storytime with the Millers: “Amos and his brothers learn a valuable lesson about returning good for evil in the story “The Indians and the Cookies.” Paul, a 3-year-old farm boy, nearly loses his life through disobedience. Betty learns the hard way, that being bossy is not much fun! Storytime with the Millers” tells these stories and others, for preschool and primary-aged children.”

Wisdom and the Millers: “Make Proverbs come alive for the children in your home, church, or school! Here is a character building collection of lively, inspirational stories. Each chapter explains and illustrates a passage from the book of Proverbs, along with a story based on true life experiences. Follow the four “Miller” children as they learn great truths of life and wisdom; sometimes through their parents’ stories, and sometimes the hard way!”

 Pictures From March– Theme: ‘I am a Helper’

Reading Lessons

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Practicing Being Helpers at School

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Pulling Weeds for the Neighbors

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At the Nature Park After a Good Rain with Friends Garrett, Max, and Ryker

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Growing Patterns

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Lovin’ My Brother

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First Day Sitting Up

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Beauty, Sweetness, and Light

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Nothing More Precious Than Little Ones Holding Little Ones

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The Little Red Hen Asks Us For Help

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A Fun Addition to “Recess” Time at School

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Pure Joy

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A Pond With Tadpoles (and Cows) Found!

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A Backyard Birthday Campout for Daddy

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My First Math Graph

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Happy 5th Birthday Tayler!

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Running Laps In the Rain

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Another Weeding Day

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Such a Hard Worker that He Got Paid For Weeding

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A Favorite Center for All: Retelling Goldilocks and the Three Bears

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Big Laughs

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So Excited About Thunder, Lightning, and Hail

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Food, Yucky! Still Nursing 100%

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Love My Helpers

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My Little Mirrors

Noah and Faith,

My little mirrors.

Where did you learn to frown like that, scrunching up your face so, my little girl? And lately I wonder, where have all those smiles lighting up your face gone, my sonshine? …..After all, you are only four. Did I really overhear my girl’s pouty lips mutter, “I am so tired of that,” just like mama? Oh my, I knew better than to ever use that phrase in front of you– but I just couldn’t seem to help myself. Why do you seem so fragile today, my dear son, crumpling so easily under pressure? Have you lost your patience yet again? ………Where did you learn to act this way, my tender little ones?

Oh yes, that’s right. Its me you learned it from. Me. Mommy. This is the burden I bear. Despite all my attempts to cover up my appearance, you have found me out, and now I must face the bittersweet lesson, that you are my reflection. My little mirrors.

I know, I know. Oh yes, I know how you feel little ones.

I must admit there are times when I feel disappointed and discouraged to see so much of me in you. Never have I loathed each negative word, every impatient gesture, every selfish decision of today, like I do now– now that I worry it will be you copying me tomorrow. I never could have imagined the anguish of wanting to spare you from becoming me.

Your character is being written in these early years. Carelessness in front of my little mirrors writes itself in an unlovely way directly upon your hearts.

O God help me to crucify my flesh that I might not mar the hearts of my children forever! Refine me and teach me to master my emotions. Redeem us by letting my children witness your refining process in me. Let the changes they see in mama cause them to deeply believe that you are a God who saves. And let me take hope that there is purpose in this universal heartache of children patterning their parents after all.

Grace and peace to your hearts, mommies of little mirrors!

Christmas Day

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Brothers

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Winter Cuties

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Cutting Down Our Christmas Tree in Apple Hill

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Faith, All Smiles for Her First Pony Ride

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Lovebug, Head Up at Tummy Time!

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Reading The Legend of the Candy Cane with Mamama

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Sharing The Legend of the Candy Cane with Neighbors

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Praying for Our Sweet Neighbor Lois

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Happy Birthday Baby Jesus Pajama Party with Friends

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Faith Rocking Baby Jesus While We All Sang Christmas Hymns

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A Fruity Christmas Tree

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The Kids’ Decorated a Tree

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And Then We All Popped in On Lois to Bless Her

IMG_4264 Singing Happy Birthday to Jesus (Cocoroons are Super Healthy Treats)

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Faith Has a Big Heart for Baby Jesus Since the Party

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A Live Nativity We Went to in Santa Clara

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Noah and Landon Meet Two Roman Guards

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Kids Got to Dress Up Like Roman Soldiers Too

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Christmas Tree Patterning

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Faith’s Pre-writing Lesson

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Advent Math–Add the Dice and Find the Number On the Tree

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Counting Practice with Jingle Bells

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“I Don’t Want To Do My Best……I Want to Be Perfect.”

That is what I overheard Noah saying to himself while he was being perfectionist about his cutting. Oh dear. I know this is the root of half our battles during homeschool lessons. The good news is Christ’s peace trumps perfectionism, AND Noah’s name means “peace and comfort.” This video about peace by Anne Voskamp explains how perfectionism is next to satanism! Interesting!

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Sweet, Sweet Faces

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Raise a Hero, Be a Hero

Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club, Home Education (Vol. 1), pages 300-352

The Way of the Will

One of the marks of a hero is a strong will. As children in our society today embrace a culture of hedonism and materialism that saps their spirit and leaves them cynical, ironic, and passive, Christian parents must pray for the resolve to raise up strongmen who go against the flow. Children who heroically stand up for what they believe in, face and overcome temptation, and stand strongly in the face of adversity. Children who grow up to powerfully serve the Lord and make a difference in this world. Christian parents who aim to raise heroes, must aim to raise strong wills. “The education of the will is really of far greater importance, as shaping the destiny of the individual, than that of the intellect.” (Dr. Morell, Introduction to Mental Philosophy) Learning is common, but self control is not. Is the goal of your homeschool to train your child’s intellect? Great, you may raise up a smart kid. Is the goal of your homeschool to train your child’s will? Even better, you may raise up a hero. The real purpose of an education should be to shape a person’s destiny, not just her intellect.

A person’s will is what controls her emotions, her appetites, and desires. The more a person is ruled by these passions, the less developed the will. What we want to be doing, what we know we should be doing, we do not do, as Paul says. And Charlotte Mason contends that the major reason is for lack of a developed will. What does having a strong will mean? How is strength of will grown in a child? How does any person for that matter make herself do what she should?

Stubborn Willfulness Really Indicates a Lack of Will Power

By “strong will,” Charlotte does not mean willfulness, as in a child who is labeled “strong willed” because he is determined to have his own way (much like a toddler’s strong determination/willfulness). A state of wilfulness actually reveals a lack of controlling power over oneself, or no strength of will. When my son can’t stop crying over some small trouble, and I am tempted to look on the bright side and think, ‘well at least he has a strong will’, he is actually showing “willessness” because he doesn’t have enough strength of will to restrain himself. This is not the moment to be proud of my son’s strong will. Instead, by strong will, Charlotte means strength of character. Character is the result of conduct regulated by will. When we say that So-and-so has a great deal of character, we are in essence saying that person has a vigorous will. Likewise, someone who has no force of will, lacks character. Will is the executive power vested in a person–it says go, and he does; it says do this, and he does. If the will is in the habit of being in authority, if it constrains obedience, the kingdom within is at peace and unity with itself. If the will is feeble, the kingdom within is ungoverned and torn with disorder and rebellion. In our world we know that “strong willed” children are hard to raise because of the disorder and rebellion that accompanies. Strengthening the will of a “strong willed” (ie willless) child then is the answer to arriving at peace.

A Disciplined Will is Necessary to Heroic Christian Character

Perhaps you have your sights set on raising a child with heroic Christian character. You implement hero study as a regular part of your homeschool classroom so that your child may grow to emulate Jesus Christ, his ultimate hero, as well as other admirable historic heroes. You believe that hero study works because “….it is only as we have it in us to let a person or cause fill the whole stage of the mind, to the exclusion of self-occupation, that we are capable of large-hearted action on behalf of that person or cause.” As wonderful as all this is, we should be aware that the training of our child’s will goes hand in hand with accomplishing the noble goals of hero study. A disciplined will is not necessary in order to be a Christian, but it is the key to heroic Christian character. As mothers whose highest desire is to train our children for the Christian life, we should realize that the power of our children’s service to the Lord can be unlimited through vigorous heroic willpower. “When he wakes to the consciousness of whose he is and who he serves, she would have him ready for that high service, with every faculty in training–a man of war from his youth; above all with an effective will, to will and to do of His good pleasure.” What a beautiful vision Charlotte paints for us of a useful hero raised up to serve Christ. “And here is the line which divides the effective from the non-effective people, the great from the small, the good from the well-intentioned and respectable; it is in proportion as a man has self-controlling, self compelling power that he is able to do, even of his own pleasure; that he can depend upon himself, and be sure of his own action in emergencies.” What is the opposite of a hero, or someone with no will at all? An evil villain. Evil is perpetuated in someone who is completely given over to his carnal passions–instead of using his will to control his violent passions, his will becomes an accessory in acting them out. Let us train up vigorous wills in our children, so that we can train up heroes passionate about righteousness.

The Way the Will Works Should be Taught to Children

How do we strengthen the will of a child (or our own for that matter) so that by and by the child may employ it to control his own life? The will grows in strength only by exercising repression and direction of passions, desires, and appetites. “Let your child know the secret of willing; let him know that, by an effort of will, he can turn his thoughts to the thing he wants to think of –his lessons, his prayers, his work, and away from the things he should not think of;–that, in fact, he can be such a brave strong little fellow, he can make himself think of what he likes; and let him try little experiments––that if he once get his thoughts right, the rest will take care of itself, he will be sure to do right then; that if he feels cross, naughty thoughts coming upon him, the plan is, to think hard about something else, something nice––his next birthday, what he means to do when he is a man. Not all this at once, of course; but line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, as opportunity offers.” No work is too laborious for someone who has a happy frame of mind, or in other words, who has formed the habit of thinking of something else. No feelings of resentment can overtake a person who has formed the habit of thinking of something else rather than dwelling on the bitter feelings and allowing them to grow. The person who allows herself to later go back to the cause for offense, when all potency of feelings have worn off, is able to look at the matter with the coolness of a third person. (Don’t we always get into trouble when we are arguing with someone, and we just can’t make ourselves drop it for the moment?)

Our job as mothers training up children is to help them want to obey through the cooperation of the will. The goal is for children to compel themselves to obey. “Every effort of obedience which does not give him a sense of conquest over his own inclinations, helps to enslave him, he will resent the loss of his liberty by running into license when he can. That is the secret of the miscarrying of many strictly brought-up children. But invite his co-operation, let him heartily intend and purpose to do the thing he is bidden, and then it is his own will that is compelling him, and not yours; he has begun the greatest effort, the highest accomplishment of human life––the making, the compelling of himself. Let him know what he is about, let him enjoy a sense of triumph, and of your congratulation, whenever he fetches his thoughts back to his tiresome sum, whenever he makes his hands finish what they have begun, whenever he throws the black dog off his back, and produces a smile from a clouded face.” Doesn’t this shed light on the type of encouragement that is instrumental in the discipling process of children? Your insightful and well timed encouragement can practically illustrate living examples of the way of the will to your child, the secret of being strong. And working on developing a cooperative will in your child is worth it since its the key to training up an obedient child.

What About my Own Weak Will?

How can we train the wills of our children, if we as mothers can’t make ourselves do what we desire, let alone our children? How do we train our children to have strong wills if we ourselves do not? The world is full of weak willed adults hoping to display just a little bit of heroism in their family, the work place, the church, the community. Many of us were trained up in school settings, and in homes, where training of the will was perhaps not an important part of our rearing. Consequently, we know we should be eating healthy, we know we should be praying more, we know we should be spending less, we know we should be waking up earlier, we know we should stop mulling over other people’s faults, we know we should be cleaning out the cluttered drawers and closets, we know we should be watching less TV, staying more patient, worrying less, helping others more…..but we do not for lack of will to do it. Slaves to our natural desires, passions, and appetites. Not exactly the portrayal of heroic character before the ever watching eyes of our children that we would hope to be. In order to teach our children to have strong wills, I feel that we must try our best to exemplify it in our own lives, and this is the clincher for all of us. We obviously need to address our own lack of training at the same time we are training up our children in order to be successful.

The Secret to a Happy Life

Changing your thoughts by a sheer act of will–a thousand times of day if necessary at first–is the secret to a happy life! A happy life all begins in the mind because poor thinking leads us away from God’s will, and down the wrong path. “It is by force of will that a man can ‘change his thoughts,’ transfer his attention from one subject of thought to another, and that, with a shock of mental force of which he is distinctly conscious. And this is enough to save a man and to make a man, this power of making himself think only of those things which he has beforehand decided that it is good to think upon.” Its sounds so simple, but are you cross? Change your thoughts. Are you tired of trying? Change your thoughts. Are you craving things you are not to have? Change your thoughts. Bribing, rewarding, or punishing yourself is not as effective as simply applying the opposing force of thought. God gave you the power within you to always think of something else–something noble, pleasant, pure, lovely, praiseworthy. This is why we are commanded to dwell on the Word. You have the power to turn unhappy and wrong thoughts into happy and right thoughts. “And this is the exceedingly simple way in which the will acts; this is the sole secret of the power over himself which the strong man wields–he can compel himself to think of what he chooses, and will not allow himself in thoughts that breed mischief.” And the more you make yourself think right thoughts, the easier it gets (twenty times a day rather than a thousand!).

Charlotte’s advice is distinctively Christian, distinctively Bible. The Word says to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Proverbs says that as a man thinks, so is he. God wants us to understand the power that our thoughts have over the direction of our lives, and that we must get control in order to really make the difference of a hero in this world. We all need spiritual guidance to learn how to control our thoughts. I hope your church has been teaching its believers this fundamental truth regularly and powerfully. This online article explains how to be victorious in your thought life step by step by “taking every thought captive”.

Raise a Hero!

If education of the will is of utmost importance in an education, then who should be the one to undertake the monumental job of educating your child’s will? What teacher can spend her days in and out of the classroom attending to the formation of the will of a child, have the acute attention and insight that it requires to help develop something as complex as the will of a human being? Mother (or father), the one with maternal love to pour into the education of her child hour by hour, and the one with expertise in the strengths and weaknesses of her child is the only qualified teacher.

By training our children in the way of the will, we can give them the power to help themselves, and someday many others as well. When God puts His divine grace on top of all that, there is nothing our children can not accomplish. Just think what a vigorous will is possible for those who have been freed from the chains of sin! What a privilege to be born into a Christian family. What a privilege to have the opportunity to be a hero for Christ!

Prayer and Vision:

Don’t forget this all requires prayer. A mother needs wisdom from above. Write down or keep a journal of words of vision for your children’s lives that speak to your heart so you can keep it before the Lord in prayer. These words from God can pop up anywhere, but just don’t let them slip away because they may end up forgotten. My prayers from reading this section of Home Education are:

Let my children be men of war from their youth, to will and to do of His good pleasure!

Send noble, mighty, and Godly exemplars into my children’s lives that they also may become mighty men!

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Do you want to be a part of my Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club? Read pages 1-75 in Parents and Children (Volume 2) and bring some thoughts to share on the Little Lambs blog by July 15th. Together we can inspire others to bring the atmosphere of a living education into their home too!
  • “Faith, Do You Want to Go to the ‘Wildness’ With Me?”

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    “I am Going Off Into the ‘Wildness’ Mommy”….My Little Hero

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We Love Sighting this Bird at the Nature Park

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Noah Picked Me a Little Rosemary for My Pot Roast

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Noah Cut up All the Broccoli for This Salad With a Butter Knife!

The kids love this raw broccoli salad– they see it as a treat. They were great helpers one day and helped me make it. The ingredients are bacon, dried cranberries, golden raisins, red onions and a veganaise, honey, vinegar dressing.

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Noah Also Wanted to Help Me Vacuum a Couple of the Bedrooms

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Whoops! I Sucked up Faith’s Pajamas!

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The Spiritual Side of Habit Training

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth” Psalm 127:4.

Psalm 127:4 makes me think of the role of the parent and the child in habit training. Through habit training, parents have the ability to aim their children while they are young towards the right targets, which will ultimately effect who their children become someday. Matthew Henry comments on Psalm 127:4, “Children who are young, may be directed aright to the mark, God’s glory, and the service of their generation; but when they are gone into the world, they are arrows out of the hand, it is too late to direct them then. But these arrows in the hand too often prove arrows in the heart, a grief to godly parents.”

How do you feel about your aim? Do you feel like your arrows are zig zagging all over unsure of their target? Are you yourself not sure where the target is? Habit training requires much spiritual perception–spiritually speaking, archers must be trained and skilled, and arrows must be sharp, in order for the target to be hit. Your child has a destiny and its up to you to help him or her find it. Do you remember how lost you felt after highschool or college as to what to do with your life? Or feeling like you just didn’t have what it took yet to start fulfilling your dreams? Can we save our own children from the same sad, and all too common, fate upon graduation?? I think we can if we are purposefully aiming our children like arrows: staying in prayer in order to know each child’s target (or prophetic destiny), and learning how to aim them there.

How We Are Aiming Our Arrows

When Noah was 1, I noticed that our prayers were focused on two goals: Noah being helpful and Noah being obedient. So we wrote it down as his Year 1 Goals and included some specific behaviors under each category/goal that we would like to see emerge. We found this practice to be so helpful that we do it every year now. So rather than praying haphazardly about the habits, character traits, and destiny of our children, we continue to develop yearly goals in these areas that we purposefully and consistently pray over and work towards. Most importantly, we select one scripture to pray for each goal. Our goals are founded on the Word of God because only scripture provides the divine supernatural power for change. Praying the Word of God, as opposed to our own words all the time, is very important. I John 5:14-15 tells us that if we pray in accordance with His will, which is His Word, and believe that He is hearing us pray His Word, then we will receive answers and results from our prayers. The Bible is full of people praying this way, by quoting other Scriptures. The word of God is alive and powerful. Words being alive is hard to imagine but it is true. God created the world and the universe by SPEAKING. When we speak the Word of God back to Him, we are praying in agreement with what He has already spoken, thereby releasing His power into our lives. Without this power our prayers and lives are empty, and habit training is frustrating.

Dean and I take each child’s birthday month to reflect on what goals we would love to see them achieve over the next year. We start by looking for areas of need in our children, researching scriptures that apply, selecting our favorites, and then over the next year, we regularly use those scriptures to “speak those things that are not as though they are” (Romans 4:17). We are bringing those qualities that do not yet exist in our children into existence through the creative power of the Word. We make each scripture personal by praying it with the child’s name, “Faith has a happy heart that does good like medicine,” or “Noah can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.” Now that our children are old enough to learn memory verses, we can even have our children open their mouths every day to speak God’s own powerful words over their lives, and together our prayers will avail much!

Standing on Promises of Truth

Dean and I have stood on scriptures for specific needs since we were dating and as a result we have seen God intervene many times. I can share a personal homeschool related example of how powerful the Word of God is to do what is sent to accomplish. Way back in October I taught our Little Lambs about standing on the promises of God. Perhaps you remember this blurb from our October lesson plans?: “October 9th–SHARING Bring a prepared scripture verse promise or two to Circle Time for you and your child to stand on together this month. Make it personal and based on your child’s needs. We will swap all our promises at school, and then faithfully hold each others needs close to our hearts in prayer this entire school year. Involve your child in praying over his or her friends and what they are believing for.”

This was one of the best God ideas of the whole school year!! I can not begin to tell you how instrumental Noah’s promises from last October have been to his development. One promise I chose for Noah was “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” in Philippians 4:13, and we have been praying it and confessing it ever since. Even still today, when a frustrating experience or activity causing feelings of insecurity happens to come up for Noah, rather than letting him bask in feelings of defeat, I suggest that we say his promise out loud with lots of faith.

See, the fact is ever since we started homeschool, Noah’s confidence level has been the biggest obstacle challenging our success. For the entire first year of school, more days than not, my three year old was very difficult to teach because he was whiny, clingy, tearful, frustrated, uncooperative, and having large outbursts of temper. Its not that he didn’t like school, but he was very insecure about it all–especially during Circle when we did Bible and delved into the most important content of the day. At Centers, I almost had to do the work for him as he didn’t even want to try an activity unless he was sitting on my lap and having his hand held through every step. I would get so frustrated because he made it very difficult to teach anything, plus I had a small group of kids attending Little Lambs at the time that I needed to attend to as well. I tried all sorts of things to try to remedy the problem, but nothing made a difference.

So after a year of going on like this, hoping things would get better, but not seeing any change, our October theme rolled around, and the Holy Spirit gave me the idea of sharing scripture promises at school. I was so ready to allow the power of scripture to do what I simply could not. We started confessing Noah’s promise in October, and by November, only one month later, I was elated to see how much things at school were smoothing out. It was like Noah’s fears were dissolving and the confident boy I always knew he could be, was finally emerging. He was becoming calm and peaceful at Circle Time, and happily diving into challenging activities at Center Time. Now days I can hardly believe the confidence struggles we used to have in homeschool because there are no signs of it in my little boy anymore. Praise God!!! The fact was that Noah was a fearful boy, but the truth is, he is a confident boy (in Christ). Chalking up his changes to maturity or experience or coincidence is what some people would do. But I know that I know that change in Noah aligned with our “Standing on the Promises” theme last October, and there was a spiritual breakthrough that definitely happened as we stood on the amazing Word of God.

The wonderful news is that all the children have benefited from their promises. Boy did our Faith need her promise last October: “A happy heart does good like medicine” Proverbs 17:22. What a change we have seen in Faith!! I was just telling someone the other day that the terrible two’s has just not been the case for Faith (she turned two last October). Everyday at nap I pray Tayler’s promise with her, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you” Psalms 32:8, and she is certainly going in the direction of the Lord this year! The truth is becoming the facts as we stand on the Word of God.

Let the Enemy Know You are Serious

The Bible says, Be serious! Be alert! Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Let him know that he may not devour your family up with mounds of bad habits! Be watchful against his snares and attempted assaults against your children. He is called our enemy because he resists all our efforts to obey God and the salvation of our souls. However, the enemy shivers when he hears the Word of God come out of our mouths. Jesus, when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, quoted scripture to him in order to defeat him. The Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword according to Hebrews 4:12. It is described as the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6:17 where Paul is speaking to us about the armor of God and it’s place in enabling us to be able to fight and stand against the wiles of the devil during times of spiritual warfare.

Don’t allow the enemy to mound and compound problems onto your children year by year by taking the mindset that this is just how things are, or this is just how my child is. Think about the average 18 year old you know and how encumbered they are with a load of bad habits and personal issues, compared to your light and unencumbered preschooler. Satan’s influence being silent and cunning, exerts a stronger grip over our children through the years if parents do not stand on watchful guard, using the Word to fight off every unwanted attitude, habit, and circumstance that creep into their family’s lives. (We can expect our child’s needs to grow as our child grows, and so our list of goals may grow too. Just take a look Noah’s growing list of needs already at age 4 compared to Faith’s at age 2 on the list below). The way satan does his work in parents is by planting the thought that things are the way they are. “My kids just get sick all winter, my daughter just does what she wants to do, my son is just aloof to people he doesn’t know, my daughter just has a bad temper, my son just has a short attention span, my toddler is just uncooperative…….” These are the facts, but they are not the truth. Let the enemy know that you are serious about upholding the truth, whatever God’s Word says, in your family and he will have to back down.

Written Goals

This blog is my recording place of everything near and dear to me, a place for organizing Holy Spirit inspired thoughts so they will not be forgotten or lost, and a place to rejoice over hallmark moments of God’s glory in our lives. I have pulled some personal notes out of my journal to record on this blog for your sake as well as mine, the goals for our children that are near and dear to us. If you know us personally, or if you have it in your heart, we would love if you would consider upholding our children’s goals in prayer this year. If you don’t have written goals, or vision, for your children yet, I encourage you to write something down– writing vision makes it plain so that you may run with it (Habukkuk 2:2). And then please share your goals with us because we would love to agree with you in prayer too!

Faith’s Year 2 Goals

Happy

“A happy heart does good like medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

Calm and Peaceful

“…..agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

Taught of the Lord

“All your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children.” Isaiah 54:13

Helpful

“Do good to people who need help.” Proverbs 3:27

Cooperative

“Let them turn away from doing evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:11

Noah’s Year 4 Goals

Confident

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Perfect Health

“You shall worship the Lord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you.” Exodus 23:25

Educated

“Youths without blemish, well-favored in appearance and skillful in all wisdom, discernment, and understanding, apt in learning knowledge, competent to stand and serve in the kings palace.” Daniel 1:4

Selfless

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Restful Sleep

“….for He gives sleep to His beloved.” Psalms 127:2

Friendly to Everyone

“Beloved let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

Hungry for God

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Freedom from Generational Curses

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will our my spirit upon your descendents, and my blessing on your offspring.” Isaiah 44:3

Preach for Christ

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  Isaiah 52:7

Happy 4th Birthday Tayler!

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Dying Easter Eggs with Vinegar and Food Coloring

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The Best Part Was Swirling the Colors Around in a Colander

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Tye Dye Easter Eggs

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Resurrection Egg Hunt Held Indoors Due to Rain

IMG_9611Symbolic Items Inside Each Egg Help Tell the Easter Story

I was so blessed that Noah had an answer each time we opened an egg and I asked, “What does this item remind you of from the Easter story in the Bible?” Last year he hardly knew what any of the items in the eggs stood for, except the cross. I had been reading/retelling the Easter story over several days prior to our Resurrection Egg hunt, challenging a 4 year old’s comprehension by using my adult Bible. However, his comments during the egg hunt proved he had been listening and comprehending!! I am so excited to realize that the Word of God is sinking into his heart, and to see that all our homeschool and family Bible training efforts are really paying off.

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Tayler Gets the Cross Again! So Special and Reminiscent of Last Years Picture.

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Math: Copy a Design Math Lesson Was a PERFECT Challenge

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Look Its a Little Girl!

Tayler was having some trouble coming up with designs–in fact on Tuesday her design was simply one hexagon with one triangle on top. Look what happened on Thursday, her second attempt! At first it seemed like she was building a design that didn’t seem to have much drawing power, symmetry, repetition, or anything, and then lo and behold, she says, “Its a girl!” I had to think for a second, turn the paper so the red pigtails were on top, and wa-lah! There she was. It was a delightful moment! As copying a design is always harder than building, Tayler presented herself quite a challenge when it came to pasting time. She barely made it through the activity, but Miss Lynn encouraged her to finish in order that the habit of ‘finishing our work’ could be instilled. And here she is 20 minutes later all done– weary, but pleased!

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Handwriting: Noah Succeeded In Giving His b’s and d’s Fat Tummies

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Faith is Ready for Storytime (Our Helper Books are Now Her Favorites)

We have always done “booktime” in between lunch and nap, where the kids read books to themselves for half an hour, and then mommy might meander over to read a little something to someone when she gets the chance. I decided that I really need to work on making more read aloud time during the day and that it was a pity that too many of our wonderful themed books from the library were going unread at times. So I implemented a new routine in the day–storytime! The kids still do some booktime, reading books of their choice independently, as this is an important habit to cultivate. However, now I choose a lovely, well-written book to read to everyone at once during storytime. Everyone comes and lays down with blankets and stuffed animals on the carpet for a long enjoyable literature read aloud. Since my children are about to go off to dreamland, I feel that this is the perfect time of day to implement Charlotte’s admonishment to read “tales of the imagination, scenes laid in other lands and other times, heroic adventures, hairbreadth escapes, delicious fairy tales in which they are never roughly pulled up by the impossible–even where all is impossible, and they know it, and yet believe.” Before we had storytime as part of our schedule, I found that we would go through too many days of rushed, “pick a short one”, child selected lift the flap or count the objects or half finished books before bed without enough daily, intense, real, literature exposure. As you can see, by the third day of our new routine, the kids couldn’t wait for storytime, and even Faith readied herself on the carpet long before I announced “storytime!”

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Noah Transitions From Nap to Quiet Time

This is another one of my favorite recent changes to our daily schedule. I snuck into Noah’s room to snap a picture of him doing his quiet time activities on the first day we transitioned. Noah is now doing independent learning instead of tossing and turning for an hour and a half on his bed like he was previously. With Tayler and Faith constantly around to provide social play, I get concerned that Noah will have enough solitary play time, which is what feeds emergent learning. Emergent learning–initiative, interests, creative solitude and play, original ideas, imagination, reflection, independent momentum– is surprisingly much more important to the maturation and development of a child than social learning. I also see quiet time as an opportunity for independent spiritual growth, and so I try to emphasize to Noah that he is not alone during quiet time, Jesus is right there, and he can talk to him like a friend while he is playing–its him and Jesus time. Quiet time is very refreshing in a homeschool setting as its important for everyone to separate for a time and have some time to ourselves. I love quiet time. The end of afternoon naps does not have to mean the end of mom’s sanity or time of peace. We can schedule regular quiet time into the day no matter how old our children get. Its healthy for everyone!

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Habit Training at MY House

I pull in the garage from guitar lessons (after a quick stop at the grocery store) every Friday night, and who is flinging the garage door open with a big smile the second I park the car? My sweet little 2 year old Faithy, so happy to see mommy arriving home. Its like she hasn’t seen me in forever. Its the greeting I have always wanted, as Noah is usually the calm and cool “Oh, hey.”, type of guy. Sometimes Faith runs over to the car door, other times she stays at the garage door and keeps smiling big. Then she melts my heart because she purposely holds the door open for me while I come with grocery bags. As I approach, she stretches out her arms and quietly but eagerly says, “Here mommy, here mommy, here.” She wants to help me carry in my grocery bags! I have no idea where she got this from. No one else in our house holds the door for mommy or helps carry bags. I hand her a light weight bag which she can barely handle, but she tries with all her might to get it inside and keep holding the door open for me. Now she is muttering something softly in her high pitched voice like, “Its ok! Its ok! Its ok!” The same little thing she says when she is trying to comfort someone who got hurt or when something is difficult and she is soothing herself. She is a sweet blessing! I wanted to share that helper story to make you think about the blessings of your little helpers at home.

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If you noticed on our March lesson plans, the character trait, or habit, that we are working on is being a helper. Our habit forming themes provide a specific target to attach our faith to each month and believe God to do something extraordinary in that current area of focus. In February, the habit of focus was being kind and loving, in December, worshipful, in November, thankful. Our monthly themes are purposeful, and come from my 2013 masterplan that I drew up with the Lord’s guidance in order to give direction to our schooling month by month. I imagine that some of you may be following along with our monthly lesson plans, however loosely. I welcome any and all to come virtually be a part of Jesus’ Precious Little Lambs as you feel led! Whether you are working on the habit of helping right now as well, or one of your own selected character traits, I would love to hear about your habit training wisdom. How do you do habit training?

Today I will share with all you Little Lambs out there working on habit training, and anyone else who was inspired by my last post on habit training, my personal wisdom and a real life example of training at our house. I came up with a Helper assessment, or list of goals based on areas of need I have seen in my own children throughout the month in the area of being a helpful hard worker. These insights are God dropping things in my spirit bit by bit during the month as I am observing my children, looking for their strengths and weaknesses in being helpers, and taking mental notes of what I see. I love when God points something out in my child for me to pay attention to. It is really fun and personal to train up children with God’s amazing guidance in homeschool!! This special guidance is for every parent, not just me. God speaks habit training wisdom into the hearts of all parents seeking Him, as He is no respecter of persons. So just pray over our themes/your themes (whichever you are using, if any at all), put your faith out there, and see what He does. He is your habit training trainer!

The Kids Putting Away Noah’s Laundry

I absolutely love that Tayler enjoys helping Noah and Faith put their laundry away. They have been doing laundry all together on Mondays, which is cleaning day here, for almost a year now. They are almost independent with this chore by now, and that reward reminds me of how delightful habit training is. Noah likes to “save his laundry for [Monday] when Tayler can help”.

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Helper Assessment

Questions and Examples

1. Do I do my regular chores/jobs before being told?

-I get dressed and make my bed first thing before I am asked (what joy habit brings to a mother’s heart!)

2. Do I do what I am asked the FIRST time I am asked?

-I clean up the first time I am asked because waiting until the second time is disobedient

3. Do I have a happy heart when I am asked to help?

-I smile and say “yes mommy”, never frown or whine, and my face is cheerful while I am working

4. Do I work quickly?

-I don’t dawdle because hard workers enjoy doing tasks with all their might

5. Do I help even when “I don’t feel like it”?

-I don’t whine, “but I don’t feeeeel like it”, because feelings don’t always help us to do what we ought to/what is right, but the Word of God does help us. So what I do is start saying my promise/memory verses, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” or “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right”, and strength to do what is right starts coming into me as I say it again and again with all my heart.

6. Am I thorough, or do I quit when the job is mostly done?

-I check every corner of the room I am cleaning up before deciding I am done. When I think I am done with a job, I always double check my work to make sure I did it all. (I will ask Noah, “Did you check your work?” when he is vacuuming under the dinner table for example.)

7. Do I go above and beyond what is expected in my work?

-If I am expected to wash my plate after a meal, I wash somebody else’s too. If I see food all over the sides of the sink while I am washing my plate, I make sure to clean up the sink while I am at it.

8. Am I always on the lookout for ways to be helpful?

-I go grab the hand vacuum and take care of some dirt that I see has appeared upon the floor, rather than walking by it and going about my business, or calling it to mommy’s attention to take care of.

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Drill the phrase: “Obedience is cheerful, immediate, and thorough!”

What are you working on with your child? What are your goals? We would love to hear!

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A little advice on putting any habit assessment you draw up to use at home. Write down/take mental notes of examples of how your child has met the above goals, and also ways she has fallen short. Use the information about her weaknesses to head off and prevent typical problem areas. For example, give a preventative reminder before the assigned chore to assist your child in succeeding: “remember to check your work when you are done” is better than noticing later that the job was not done thoroughly (again!), and calling her back in frustration to do the job right. Next, use your habit assessment observations to pray, and then to reach your child’s heart on the topic of being a helper during circle time/devotion time/heart to heart time. Your discussion will be insightful, personal, and applicable. Use your teaching time to both encourage (provide personal examples of how you have noticed her being an awesome helper), and to exhort (provide personal examples of how she could improve on being a good helper). Also, mention how the habit will benefit both herself and the family in the short term and long term. Finally, pray with your child about their areas of need. Your child will definitely be thinking about how to be a better helper after all this! Now just watch what happens and give God all the glory!

So Excited to Be Back at the Nature Park

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We Found Lots of Signs of Spring

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The Camera is Poised and Ready for Spontaneous Cute Poses

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Putting Our Backyard Vegetable Garden In

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Unbelievable!

I said, “which one did I write??,” in disbelief. Its hard to tell!

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Tips I Have Learned for Conducting Successful Handwriting Lessons:

-Use a chalkboard! Whether starting to print or do cursive, don’t let your child’s handwriting be chicken scratch on paper or the whiteboard. Remember my last post on habits? Everyday, your child is forming either chicken scratch habits or beautiful letter formation habits that may persist for a lifetime. The roughness of chalkboards provide the necessary tactile feedback for optimal letter formation.

-Use small chalk bits! Small writing utensils force children to use the correct tripod grip. An incorrect grip practiced for too long can be hard to change later. Even coloring matters–use small broken crayons to encourage the tripod grip. Always correct an incorrect grip so that a poor habit does not become engrained. When a child is ready to switch to pencil and paper for handwriting, do not use regular pencils or jumbo size kindergarten pencils, use golf size pencils. Small hands require small tools in order to write correctly. The weight of large pencils make the tripod grip more difficult.

-Two lines are the easiest format for writing. The standard three line kindergarten paper is very confusing for children, and very unnecessary. Make your own wide ruled two line paper if you want. Otherwise, two line paper, chalk bits, and two line chalkboards can be purchased at Handwriting without Tears.

-We choose to learn handwriting through one theme relevant word a month, rather than writing a string of letters one letter at a time, because it makes handwriting more meaningful. The children see that handwriting is for the purpose of making words which is for the purpose of reading. That is satisfying. We are in no hurry to try get all 26 letters covered in a certain time frame anyway.

-I started doing a mini lesson every time before the children write because I realized they need to be drilled in order to remember some things (and it makes handwriting practice go much smoother):

-I ask, “What letter comes first, next, next, last?,” to push them to recall the spelling of a word without looking at a reference. They were previously not remembering the spelling of a word after a whole month of practicing writing it.

-I ask, “Where does ‘b’ start?” “Now what do I do?” (go down, up, over, and around) “Where does ‘i’ start?” “Now what do I do?” and so on. The correct starting point of each letter is the hardest thing to remember about each letter and requires special mention every time.

-I point out an area of concern if necessary: today, Noah I want you to work on making your ‘b’ and ‘d’ bellies nice and fat rather than skinny. Today, Tayler I want you to make sure your letters don’t have too much space in between.

-During practice time, the children use my written word sample as a reference while they are writing, even tracing my letters on my chalkboard first if needed to recall directionality. But they do little tracing because usually after all this thorough instruction, they do not require me to write letter on their board to trace, they just take off writing all on their own!

Noah did Small and Big Sorting with our Button Collection

We have also sorted by number of holes, smooth and bumpy, wavy and not wavy (Tayler’s idea that made sense in her mind). See March math lesson plans for instructions

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Our New Favorite way to Build Words

The kids think it is so funny to spell out huge nonsense words and then have me read it. Today Noah used the whole alphabet, sounded it out himself which was great, and then he and Tayler cracked up like its the funniest thing ever. Even though I hardly ever picture it, we do word building on every school day (see Welcome Back to School post for word building information). The real word to build for today was ‘bus’. The kids are doing really great with hearing all the sounds in 3 letter words at this point in the year. So pleased!

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Word Building is Hilarious Stuff Lately

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Faith’s First Time Helping with Calendar

She noticed me preparing to do calendar time, and before the older kids could jump on being the helper, she started sliding her chair over to the calendar saying, “My turn!”

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