Thursday, September 25, 2014

Flood Waters

We are a busy people.  As I type...not at laundry is piled, dishes unwashed, and a mile-long list of things to accomplish.  Pressures of life seem to crush us.

Charlotte Mason, in her wisdom, advised all of us to purposely schedule time to be.  Her students did their studies in the mornings, leaving afternoons for leisure, meditating, ruminating, handicrafts, projects and growing. 

Many times we homeschool moms feel pressure to keep up with academic demands that push our children beyond their means of accomplishment.  I've been guilty of trying to work in just one more subject...then just one more.  Before I know it, the day is gone and I have a list of things we have accomplished, but no real learning, no life-changing ideas.

Even the books we read can become a stumbling block to the ideas we are to savor.  We are thrilled when our children love to read.  However, could it be that always having a nose in a book could stand in the way of gleaning ideas from those books?  Where is the time to just think on these things? 

I think when we consider what a Charlotte Mason education is, we assume we are to always be engaged in some subject in a living way.  However, Charlotte intentionally cautioned against over-extending ourselves and planning every moment.  Leisure time and time spend outdoors is critical to our physical, emotional and spritual well being.

We are to seek after knowledge and wisdom.  Knowledge comes from the books we read, the things we see and do.  Wisdom comes from meditating and pondering on what the books are things are teaching us.   Often mindless tasks such as washing dishes are my thinking times.  I use those snippets of the clock to let God's Spirit bring those ideas together in my heart and mind to make them part of me. 

Flooding our schedules with activities and studies, even good ones, is not beneficial.  I'm speaking to myself when I say, "Slow down.  Erase the events on the calendar.  Put down the book.  Be."

Friday, September 12, 2014

From my commonplace book

"I should have thought," said Gilbert, "that life in a bookshop would be delightfully tranquil."

"Far from it.  Living in a bookshop is like living in a warehouse of explosives.  Those shelves are ranked with the most furious combustibles in the world - the brains of men."

The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tales Animals Tell

What would the world be like without our animal friends?  We spend hours a day with our farm animals.  Milking cows, gathering eggs from our chickens, herding our sheep, laughing at our ducks, petting the cat and dogs are teaching our boys responsibility and compassion.  My middle son is known in our farming community as the animal whisperer.  He can get any of our animals to do just about anything we need them to.

I think this fasciniation is universal.  Down through time, probably more books have been written about animals or through the viewpoint of animals than any other theme.  They entertain us, charm us, teach us.  Whether the animals are portrayed as themselves or personified with human characteristics, they are favorites among children and adults alike.  Here are some of our favorites.

Thornton Burgess wrote so many absolutely wonderful stories of animals.   We have read many and they are still treasures even though my boys are getting older.  I have begun a collection of the old hardcovers for each of them but they are available in inexpensive paperbacks.

Books by Robert McClung, such as Ruby Throat:  The Story of a Hummingbird, are my favorites for teaching younger children about the animal world.  Simple but well-written text and lovely illustrations engage the young reader and help to build lasting relationships with each animal.   These are out of print but worth seeking out.

Animals have played an important role in history and we have many titles from various time periods. 

Only a Dog:  A Story of the Great War is a touching true story of love and sacrifice.  Bertha Smith wrote this book in 1917 based on an account a British soldier described to her. Private Rice and Army are buried side by side near Armentières in Flanders.  This has been republished by Simply Charlotte Mason.

Dhan Gopal Mukerji won the Newberry Award with Gay Neck:  The Story of a Pigeon.   This is a true living book, relating the author's boyhood in India, raising his beloved pigeon, and the important role helping the Allied war effort in World War II. 

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling - Begin this classic story with your children and they will beg you to keep reading.  At the end you will know facts about India, the mongoose, cobras and much more.  Suspenseful to the end.

You can't have a list of books about animals and leave out Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting!  The doctor's ability to talk to the animals has been thrilling children for generations.

And another just for fun...the Freddy the Pig series by Walter Brooks.  Freddy is the ultimate Renaissance pig.  He has many adventures such as traveling to the moon, playing football, camping, being a detective, etc.  Don't miss these for simple animal fun.

So many wonderful books have been written about animals that no list could cover them all.  Seek one out and make a new animal friend.