Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Kumon Collage

Alexander snapped this pic as we packed up after Kumon tonight.

I have a whiteboard just outside the centre and each week children who have reached their goals, write their names on the board. Everyone sees the board on entering and exiting the centre so the children gain recognition for their efforts.

And the white board becomes a weekly art piece, a Kumon montage.

Is my husband my neighbour?

A funny question to ask, I guess. But I have been pondering this quote from St Paul, in view of my vocation as a wife ~

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Do I really love my husband as myself - do I treat him as well as I may treat another?

It is often hardest to be loving and good natured and cheerful and helpful to those closest to us.

Christian marriage is seen by St Paul as paralleling the relationship between Christ and the Church.

I like this quote, on meshing feminism with being a wife - Making a conscious effort to infuse our marriages with the best we have to offer is the opposite of being a robot. It's life-affirming and marriage-affirming.
From The Good Wife.

I have some things to work on, as usual!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Being a Parent of Older Kids

Our older sons - Luke, Greg, Nick - were here for the weekend, last weekend. For our parish Dinner Dance.

We had fun doing silly dances together on the dance floor ( Abba? The Sylvers - Don't Blame it on the Boogie?).

And I have reflected a little on my career as a mother.

In many respects, I suck at mothering. It doesn't come naturally, I make many, many mistakes. I do things other mothers would not.

Like yesterday. Anthony was texting his brothers on his mobile phone while doing a page of maths. I told him I'd have to put his phone on the breakfast bar for awhile, simply because he was constantly distracting someone with the phone and messages. Jonathon said - "See, the other homeschool mums ( my friends) are right~! He is too young to have a phone! :-)"

I replied that I didn't mind him texting while doing schoolwork, it was just distracting others.

And then Jonathon laughed - what mother says she doesn't mind kids texting instead of doing Maths??


What I have learned about mothering, however, can be summed up in a few words. My internet friend, Willa , reminded me of the importance of these three words.

Not, they are not "I love you", although saying that is important.

The key words for me, as a mother, have been "Staying in the moment."

Willa is very wise.

Staying in the moment.

And keep on working on relationship - relationship with parents, siblings, others, God.

I have found this to be most important, as my kids have grown older...I have three young adult sons, one eighteen year old and three younger sons. I thought I'd be a bad mother of young adults - I didn't know how, I knew the little ones best. Well, I am not a great mother, but I am learning!

Staying in the moment has helped - I am not parenting any generic young adults, just my own.

Seeing each one as an individual, praying, working on myself and with Gerry and with the kids, has been key.

Right now, I am at a spot where I think parenting and giving the kids a good childhood , passing on the Faith, are just as important as a good education.

They can catch up on the education later, if they need to (but, hey, I see them learning all the time, anyway!).

It is harder , however, to work through problems in parenting and relationship so I'm aiming for joy and trusting that the rest will follow.

It has, so far.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Beheading of St John the Baptist.

This is tomorrow's Feast Day. It is also the anniversary of Anthony's First Holy Communion Day. Anthony made his FHC on this day, four years ago, when we were living in Adelaide.

This morning, we read about St Augustine ( today's Saint) and about tomorrow's remembrance of Herodius and how she connived to have John the Baptist beheaded.

Anthony had the idea of copying a craft from his book, the Horrible Histories Annual 2007.

The craft ? Creating a severed head.

A gruesome craft, but one that certainly fits this Feast. A gruesome craft that is right up my sons' alley!

Just Another Manic Monday!

No, not really. (Apologies to The Bangles).

In fact, it was a pleasant Monday, a great Monday!

Yesterday was the feast of St Monica, the Patron Saint of married women and of mothers. We started the day with 7.00 a.m. Mass - although we arrived late. Sigh. Gerry was at work so couldn't attend Mass with the rest of us.

Breakfast out and the kids went to the shops while I had medical tests at a nearby medical centre. We met up again for morning tea at the Coffee Club - red creaming soda, Coke Zero spiders, iced coffee, skim milk flat white...

The boys had bought a present for Father's Day ( next Sunday) and a cool card for Gerry. We laughed at the card - I'll post a pic on the weekend...And they spotted a priest from our parish walking past The Coffee Club.

Father joined us for coffee.

We split up - Alexander to go to the movies and the rest of us to finish shopping
( I bought the new Kathy Reichs novel and Jonathon bought a Ramones t-shirt. Thomas purchased a model plane, and Anthony a secondhand computer game).
Back home, we set to work. Me to do laundry, mop the floors, sort Kumon, workout. Jonathon at the computer, writing an assignment for university ( due this Friday!). Thomas and Aanthony built the model plane, flew it in our cul-de-sac, made modifications to the model, installed and played the new computer games, practiced piano.

We had a late lunch ( pretty usual for us!) and then Alexander returned, with his guest and Krispy Kreme donuts! Showers, clean up the kitchen, work at my Kumon Centre.

Some of the preschoolers at Kumon were so adorable!And one of our students had a birthday and gave lolly bags all round - even some for me and my family...

We were flat out at work, Gerry picking up Anthony at 5.30 and the rest of us stayed at work until 7.30 pm.

My doctor, who knew I was worried about the tests, rang through with the results that evening ~ he had asked for the tests to be given high priority. All clear! He was surprised himself - but pleasantly so. I was ecstatic ! The effects of prayer.

To celebrate, we had take away pizza for dinner, and chocolate ( D#%, there goes my diet!) - and a Vodka cruiser for me!

A perfect way to end the feast of St Monica.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Science for today

Making a thermometer.

Anthony worked on this while Jonathon typed his university assignment and supervised ( well, sort of). The rest of us were out on errands.

When we arrived home, Anthony demonstrated the use of his home-made thermometer.

What do you need to make a thermometer?

A clear or see through straw, cut to 10 cm

Cover one end of the straw with Blu-tac and then with sticky tape

Three glasses each half full. One with hot water, one with tap water and food colouring and one with tap water and ice cubes.

Squeeze the straw and thus suck up some of the coloured water. This acts as mercury in your thermometer. The coloured "mercury" will rise in the hot water and fall in the water -with-ice-cubes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kids and blogs...

Thomas on the liturgical year.

Anthony on fairy penguins and his wooden model ; model making stint...

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Meeting of Catholic Homeschoolers... my house, this morning.

We talked about the Assumption; about the Transfiguration and read about and participated in Reader's Theatre related to the recent Feast day of Blessed Mary Makillop.

Morning tea was shared. A lot of yummy food! Probably too much for we calorie conscious mothers ( yes, diet and exercise was part of the adult discussion!). And I made pikelets , an Aussie food in honour of the Aussie saint.

Some kids worked on the life cycle of a monarch buttefly ( metamorphosis - a scientifc example of transfiguration??). Alexander did a little research on the roots and meaning of the word Transfiguration.

Definition. Root Latin; Trans, meaning across, & figura, meaning shape, form, or picture.

Noun. 1. A striking change in appearance, character, or circumstance, a
2. A change made so as to exalt or glorify.

St. John Damascene Homily on the Transfiguration,
It was not of tents that the Master consituted thee [Peter ] the orderer, but of the Universal Church. Thy disciples, THY SHEEP, which the Good Shepherd entrusted to thee as head, have fulfilled thy desire [to make tents on the Mount of Transfiguration]. They have raised one tent to Christ, one to Moses and Elias, and NOW WE celebrate our feasts HERE.

Other children began work on a notebook of Our Lady - making a cover, working on a page/entry for the Assumption, their choice. We hope to add to this notebook throughout the year, as the Feast days of Our Lady are celebrated during the liturgical year.

I think it is a good thing for all ages to come together and celebrate the Feast days, our life in the Church.

And very good for we homeschooling mothers to share our journey.

Doorknocking for the St Vincent de Paul Society

Sunday was the annual doorknock appeal for
St Vinnie's, as the charitable organization is called, ~ colloquially that is.

Our parish Youth Group helped with the dooknock and we went along as "adult supervisors". I took Anthony with my group; too young for Youth but he loved helping with the Appeal.

Apart from the pouring rain, that is! Our socks and shoes were water-logged by the end of the walk!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Unschooling and Planning 3

The practicalities of unschooling . The nuts and bolts. What we do each day. How we do it - apart from just living and learning, that is.

Well, some of this is our routines, our pegs - our outside activities, our regular chores and meals and interests; regular, ongoing interests like piano/guitar/music/Latin/reading/movies...

Other things we need reminders for ~ things like getting to the library ( but, never, somehow, getting our books back on time. We help the libraries build new additions, in each state in which we have lived, simply via our fines!).

Perhaps we want to do more nature study or pick up a video from the video store. Or I want to strew certain items or books or introduce a new book or activity...
Once a month we re-do the bulletin board and plan a centrepiece for the liturgical year or plan for feast days that month.

How do we remember to do these things?

I use post it notes and my old, faithful diary and to do list.

Nothing special. Post it sticky notes can be moved from day to day or stuck on a wall, a fridge, on the breakfast bar, on a book on a child!

When my older three sons were little, I used to call this the "post it note form of homeschooling".

We keep the Post-it's factory in production ~ but it is so handy to have a note, a reminder, a to do list, that can be stuck on something , on a diary page, wherever, and moved ahead or around as it suits our schedule. And our life.

In this vein, I have given the kids their own diaries, in which to write goals and ideas and things they want to do, scratch down budget notes, and so on. Some kids use these more than others and that is okay. They all use Post-its - wonder where they picked up that habit?

And I have seen this Lifestyle of Learning Journal. A free printable!

This could also be a fun thing for the kids to do, to write in every day or so. Another form of unschooling "lesson plans"? Perhaps some of mine will be interested in this form of an unschooling journal...

Finally, being drawn to the unschooling philosophy, I remember, in my unschooling plans and in thinking about unschooling, the role of the child and of the Holy Spirit in our education. Of serendipity and of choice. Of relationship and of prayer.

"We can sum up very quickly what people need to teach their own children. First of all, they have to like them, enjoy their company, their physical presence, their energy, their foolishness and their passion. They have to enjoy all their talk and questions, and enjoy equally trying to answer all those questions.

They have to think of their children as friends, indeed very close friends,...They have to trust them as people, resect their fragile dignity, treat them with courtesy, take them seriously. They have to feel in their own hearts some of their children's wonder, curiousity, and excitement about the world....

Children don't need, don't want, and couldn't stand six hours of teaching a day, even if parents wanted to do that much. To help them find out about the world doesn't take that much adult iput. Most of what they need, parents have been giving them since birth....They need, much of the time, to share your short, to go some of the places you go, see and do some of the things that interest you, get to know some of your friends,..." John Holt, Teach Your Own.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Unschooling and Planning 2

In my last post I mentioned the gathering of ideas and the blend of serendipity within unschooling.

What to do with all the ideas?

I have folders on my computer, Favourites, for reference.

I have a cupboard of files, in the kitchen.

Why the kitchen?

Simply because that is where I spend a lot of time, the kitchen and family room area. So, having our ideas files and homeschooling log handy is a necessity, for me. It's the only way all this will be used!

Our homeschooling log for this year is kept in a green display holder. I designed the log to represent our learning for State requirements while simultaneously being an easy to keep log. I can circle categories and add extra comments if I so desire, at the end of a day or week..

This log serves as both lesson plans and journal of learning ~ a post programming , organic form of lesson plans, if you like. Observing the flow and adding more, related items to the mix of strewing..Strewing ideas and objects and events....Keeping records....

Friday, August 17, 2007

Unschooling and Planning

Kim of Starry Sky Ranch is hosting a blog fair - the Loveliness of Lesson Planning.

Lesson planning? Unschooling?

You are right. The two don't seem to mix. And to be frank and totally honest, I will start this post with an admission ~ I don't do lesson planning.

Even when I was teaching in schools, my lesson plans were minimal. Barebones.
Even when I teach at Homechool Group Learning my lesson plans are minmal. Barebones.

I like to be open to the teaching moment, as John Holt would say. To serendiptiy.

ser·en·dip·i·ty (srn-dp-t)
n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties
1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
3. An instance of making such a discovery.

Our unschooling is serendipitous.

We do, however, have learning and living routines. And our routines and learning lifestyle start with ideas.

I like to gather ideas for our learning adventures. I look at the usual school documents, at kids' interests, and at the liturgical year. At life.

Here is where the book "A Continual Feast" is a big help...

As are the sampling of other books shown above.

And websites such as ~

Catholic Culture
Waldorf Family Network

Then, things just come up ~ serendipitiously.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Day in Our Unschooling Life Photo-Essay.

Inspired by Robin's Blue Skies, here is our "Day in the Life" photo-essay.

These are the Days of Our Unschooling Lives....

Perhaps you'd like to share your own photo-essay day?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sunday lunch...

... After Mass ( and junk mail delivery - the kids' weekend job!) we went to Newtown, for lunch and window shopping...Of course, the window shopping turned into book buying, for me. Hey, the books were secondhand!

What is unschooling? Can a Catholic unschool? ( Part 2)

"Every method of education founded, wholly or in part, on the denial or forgetfulness of original sin and of grace, and relying on the sole powers of human nature, is unsound. Such, generally speaking, are those modern systems bearing various names which appeal to a pretended self-government and unrestrained freedom on the part of the child...attributing to the child an exclusive primacy of initiative, and an activity independent of any higher law, natural or divine, in the work of education....such men are miserably deluded in their claim to emancipate, as they say, the child, while in reality they are making him the slave of his own blind pride and of his disorderly affections..." - Christian Education of Youth by Pope Pius XI

This quote, and this encyclical, has been used as an argument against unschooling. ( What is unschooling? A form of homeschooling...See some thoughts below.).

What is interesting is that Suzie Andres, in her book on Catholic unschooling, uses this and similar quotes from the encyclical, to promote her understanding of why unschooling can be a choice for Catholic homeschoolers.

Andres writes ~ page 39 "A closer reading of the Pope's words us that unschooling is not forbidden for Catholics. Note that the objectionable methods of education attribute to the child ' an exclusive primacy of initiative..'. We can respond that because the child is always the primary agent in his learning, it is fitting that he is often the initiator of his learning as well. This is precisely what unschooling allows. Unschooling, however, does not require that the child be the only or exclusive initiator. Moreover, the Pope is especially concerned with preventing parents and educators from witholding religious instruction on the false belief that the child must initiate every area of his formation and education. In our defense of unschooling we have emphasized the need for parents to refrain from over-teaching, and the importance of their actively respecting the child's ability to learn without too much interference. But this is not equivalent to saying that unschooling parents cannot initiate areas of study. Consequently, unschooling as we have defined it is not one of the modern systems of education the Pope here condemns.

Furthermore, reading on in this encyclical, we find in the next paragraph a description which more accurately applies to unschooling, and which the Pope then approves. Pope Pius XI states:'If any of these terms are used, less properly, to denote the necessity of a gradually more active co-operation on the part of the pupil in his own education, if the intention is to banish from education despotism and violence, which, by the way, just punishment is not, this would be correct but in no way new. It would only mean what has been taught and reduced to practice by the Church in traditional Christian education, in imitation of the method employed by God Himself towards His creatures, of whom he demands active co-operation according to the nature of each;
..Here we find that the Church not only allows for unschooling, but even places it in line with her tradition." page 40

Andres' take on this makes sense to me. :-) A Catholic can choose to unschool, without fear of compromising their Faith. Just as a family can live and share the Faith, so can a family share each individual's educational life; their thoughts, their interests, their activities.
Education happens, sometimes through osmosis and sometimes through a more rigorous study.
" All men by nature desire to know." Aristotle, in Metaphysics.

What is unschooling? And can a Catholic unschool? ( Part 1)

Recently we have had discussions on these topics on both an email list and an internet forum of which I am a member.

How do we define unschoolng?

Didn't the encyclical Christian Education of Youth by Pope Pius XI speak against unschooling?

I want to save some thoughts here on the blog, for future reference. If this bores you, feel free to skip these posts! lol!

What is unschooling? I think, perhaps, that unschooling can be an idea held in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. An idea that differs among people.

I say we are unschooly. That we learn from interests and from life, family centred learning, not necessarily using school methods or following a school curriculum.

And I like these unschooling definitions ~

Patrick Farenga, who succeeded John Holt as the Publisher of GWS magazine, : "When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world as their parents can comfortably bear." ( Teach Your Own, page 238).

Mary Griffith, author of The Homeschooling Handbook, writes about unschooling and John Holt: " Children learn best, he argued, not by being taught, but by being a part of the world, free to explore what most interests them, by having their questions answered as they ask them, and by being treated with respect.." ( page 56 -57).

In Homeschooling With Gentleness, Suzie Andres writes: "Unschooling is a form of education in which the child is trusted to be the primary agent in learning what he needs to know to lead him to happiness ( page 12)...'form of education' refers in particular to academic education, not to moral education....those who are trusting the child are his parents.They are trusting him to be the primary agent in his learning, but this does not amount to neglect on their part. The parents assume the role of secondary agents, meaning they do not forsake their duties in their child's education, but rather they recognize and honour his natural ability to learn...( page 12)....While other approaches tend to focus on the teaching done by the parent, unschooling concentrates on the learning done by the student..." ( page 13).

Finally, a simple definition/phrase, from Parenting a Free Child by Rue Kream: "Our unschooling is our parenting is our life together."

So, are we relaxed homeschoolers or are we unschoolers? To be frank, I doubt that the terminology matters. We are what we are. Learnin and living together in Faith and with growth.

On Sunday, Fr mentioned that one's Faith should grow; it should not be simply the Faith we had at age twelve. There should be growth. It should be living.

The same with our learning, our homeschooling. It is not held static by a label but is organic, education that changes as the children and family changes. We learn and add to our Faith, to our knowledge, to who and what we are.

That said, I wouldn't personally call myself a relaxed homeschooler, mostly because we don't have daily sit down basics to do and we don't necessarily have a framework within which we follow interests.

We may do these things but we also may throw them all out and live life and learn that way together.

It may be that I see unschooling ( giving kids choice, learning from life) as a philosophy but how it works out in my life differs from season to season.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Some birthday pics...

Of Anthony's dinner ( Tuesday) and cake ( Wednesday - his actual birthday). And today will be his party!!

We gave Anthony some Mission Mars Lego for his birthday, and he and Thomas spent Thursday morning building..

(Hey, Jasper, sorry you missed out on the pics - come over and we'll take some more!)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Look what I made today....

A large, rectangular, lemon meringue pie.

I used to make these regularly, when we were blessed with an abundant supply of lemons. Haven't made one in over three or four years! But I promised the kids that I would bake a lemon meringue pie~ so here, it is , made on a homeschool morning and finished just before work...

I don't want to know how many calories there are in one square!!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What we are up to...Bits and Pieces...

It is Anny's birthday tomorrow, I'll be busy at work in the day and at a CAFE meeting at church in the evening. So, we went out for his birthday dinner tonight. Yummy coffee shop food with a conversation topic of highlights of Anthony's baby and toddler years. I'll post pics later....

We'll have cake and presents tomorrow night, after CAFE, and Anny is having a ten pin bowling party for his friends on Saturday afternoon.


Tomorrow is also the Feast of
Blessed Mary Mackillop - First Australian Saint; Co-founded Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart 1866.
Died:8th August 1909 Beatified: 19th January 1995

We are meeting with a couple of other homeschooling families next week, to celebrate and talk about Mary Mackillop, the Transfiguration and the Assumption.

We have also begun a Novena to St Maximilian Kolbe. St. Maximilian was born Raymond Kolbe in Poland, January 8, 1894. In 1910, he entered the Conventual Franciscan Order.To better "win the world for the Immaculata," the friars utilized modern printing and administrative techniques. Maximilian started a shortwave radio station and planned to build a motion picture studio--he was an "apostle of the mass media." In 1941, the Nazis imprisoned Father Maximilian in the Auschwitz death camp. There he offered his life for another prisoner and was condemned to slow death in a starvation bunker. On August 14, 1941, his captors ended his life with a fatal injection. Pope John Paul II canonized Maximilian as a "martyr of charity" in 1982.

Thanks to Maria, for reminding me of this Novena.

What else? Oh, yes, we are on a Diehard kick right now. We watched Diehard 1 ( the original with the now infamous Bruce Willis quote!), on Sunday. Plan to see the new Diehard film his week - Diehard 4, it opens here on Thursday night. I am a big Bruce Willis fan!

And we have been to the movie website, for trailers, info, games, reviews, discussion...I'm sure there are some organic, natural , learning conections here!

Learning connections.....I have been pondering the atmosphere and environment of our learning home and lifestyle. Inspired by the
goals and unschooling thread at the 4 real Learning message board.

I have been strewing, to pique interest. This evening, before Mass and our dinner out, and after newspaper delivery, I strewed some artwork on the refrigerator. A collage on blue card. Different artist impressions of the Assumption of Our Lady ( August 15).

You can catch a glimpse of the artwork here.
I hope to inspire artwork, art appreciation, bits and pieces.
After all, this has been a bits and pieces post, describing the bits and pieces of our current homeschooling life.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Word Games

No, this is not the usual word games one unwittingly plays with others, in relationships, at times.

I talk instead of learning word games.

Yesterday, Gerry, Thomas, Anthony and I had a game of Taboo .
Taboo is a word guessing game. The object of the game is for a player to have their partner guess the word on their card without using the word itself or five additional words listed on the card.

Really works one's thinking and speaking skills and can be a vehicle for many language and vocabulary discussions.

Hey, it is also fun!

Children and adults alike learn a lot from games. Games, board games, card games, oral games ( I Spy), video games play a big role in our homeschooling.

Plato wrote, "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation."

Very true.

This article describes the family and educational benefits inherent in game playing ~ "With the hub-bub and rush of daily living, many parents are looking for more ways to spend quality time with their families. They are also concerned about enriching their children's education. Parents are concerned about molding their children into honest, patient, well-rounded members of society. Family games are a great, wholesome way for parents to meet all of these needs at once.
Family games give parents the opportunity to spend time with their children, as well as to sharpen their wit and knowledge.
Homeschoolers and teachers have known for years that games are a great way to learn.
And learn they will. Parents are often amazed when they stop to think about all of the possible skills enhanced by game playing. Nearly all games will broaden cognitive skills by applying problem solving methods, critical thinking skills, and strategic thought."

And there is value not just in board games but in video games, too - in playing the games, in doing something hard, in discussing the games, as Papert describes.

"Two big lessons I have learned from computer games are opposites of the messages of the ads I was quoting. The first, which I have already noted, is echoed by kids who talk about "hard fun" and they don't mean it's fun in spite of being hard. They mean it's fun because it's hard. Listening to this and watching kids work at mastering games confirms what I know from my own experience: learning is essentially hard; it happens best when one is deeply engaged in hard and challenging activities. The game-designer community has understood (to its great profit) that this is not a cause for worry. The fact is that kids prefer things that are hard, as long as they are also interesting. The preoccupation in America with "Making It Easy" is self-defeating and cause for serious worry about the deterioration of the learning environment."

Interested in making your own games? I thought I might strew these articles this week ~
Make Your Own Board Game
How to Make Your Own Board Games

Friday, August 03, 2007

In Which I Write of Birthdays and Bulletin Boards

Our August bulletin board ~ and Anthony's birthday pics. It is Anny's birthday this month, on the Feast of Blessed Mary Makillop ( St Dominic on the old calendar).

What else is on for the month?

We are studying character traits and thematic unit studies at Group Learning, hence Anny's symbolic friendship self portrait and the extrovert/introvert cartoon.

Homeschool Group Learning also conducts a songwriting session each week so Alexander chose the song writing cartoon to illustrate our learning.

This month, we celebrate The Transfiguration and The Assumption of Our Lady. We will meet with a few other Catholic homeschoolers for a time to talk about/celebrate/do activities for these feast days.
As we farewell July, we include cuttings from the paper, the Catholic Outlook, photos of Alexander and Jonathon with the WYD Cross and Icon.

And so August will pass...
I have a few more health tests to undergo in August and September, related to my June surgery, so prayers for happy results are greatly appreciated.
Hugs and happy thoughts for August!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Swallows and Amazons Childhood

I loved reading the Swallows and Amazons series of books when I was a girl. Actually, I've read some aloud to my kids and some silently now I am an adult, a mother.

The series tells of the adventures of four children, their exploits, their adventures, many of which are set in the Lakes District of England.

I loved the picture of an " idyllic, yet often realistic, depiction of childhood and the interplay between youthful imagination and reality".

Last night, after a CAFE meeting at our parish ( Catholic Adult Formation), dh and I were chatting to some of the friars. I mentioned our often late dinners and late nights and Fr. said something to the effect of " Perhaps it didn't matter as much since the boys did not have to be up early and rush aound to get to school".

It is true. Our schedules , as homeschoolers, and particularly as unschoolers, have a certain freedom. We definitely have routines and pegs, activities piggybacked onto other activities until good learning habits are formed; and we have many outside activities. Yet my children's days have never been dictated by a school schedule.

My older four sons can set themselves to a work and university deadline, so the lack of a school schedule has not created unorganized, undisciplined young adults.

However,my children have had the kind of childhood of which I dreamed and read about when little. A Swallows and Amazons childhood, with time to read, imagine, play, explore. Whilst still learning some good habits and self discipline, for the most part, along the way.

Like today. Yes, we were up early after a late night of CAFE and of Harry Potter reading - up early, not for school but for Mass, attending our Francisan parish, praying and participating in the Portiuncula Indulgence.

Then breakfast at McDonalds, home for chores and free time - playing piano, reading, playing computer games.

We will do some Maths and/or English and/or Latin activities ( university assignment for Jonathon) before going to the grocery store and bank and chemist, to a doctor appointment and to lunch at the home of another homeschooling family.

Lots of play and talk there to be sure!

And on to work at Kumon together ( we spend a great deal of time together), Anthony cooking dinner, probably watching another episode of Stargate on DVD tonight and more reading and prayers at bedtime.

Tomorrow it's First Friday Mass, having one of Anthony's homeschool friends over ( most likely with lots of fun running around games) , going to homeschool ice skating, music lessons for two, work for teens, parish youth group for some, time with mum and dad for Anthony .

A different sort of schedule to the schedule of those who attend conventional schools. Who have children attend conventional schools.

A weaving of learning and routines, of have-tos and want-tos, of play and work, of imagination and exploration, of community and home, of Faith and of life.

A Swallows and Amazons childhood.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I finished another book!

Went back to re-reading " The Nun's Story" and finished it for early morning reading this morning.

Like the Harry Potter book, the ending raises more questions than it answers.

I have done a little internet search on the author, Kathryn Hulme. Read
here and here.

"The Nun's Story" is based on the story of Hulme's friend, Marie-Louise Habets, a nurse and former nun.

Choosing between life in the convent and life in the outside world.

Made me think of the Pope's thoughts, in the post below.....

So, what am I going to read now?

I will return to "Jesus of Nazareth" by Pope Benedict XVI - I had read two chapters before being engulfed by "The Nun's Story" and by Harry Potter.

I also want to read another book for children, the first of Phillip Pulman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy.I have avoided these books, since having read about Pulman's anti Christian, anti Narnia philosphy a few years ago, in a journal for children's librarians. The first book, however, has been made into a movie ~ The Golden Compass, to be released this Christmas.

So, now I would like to enter into the controversial foray and read the book for myself ~ is it okay for the kids to read? Can it be a good tool for dialogue? Like the Truckers series by Terry Pratchett.

Wanting to "read it for myself" reminds me of the Index, the old list of books that were not recommended for Catholics to read. We don't have an Index any more, but there is more information about the Index Librorum Prohibitorum here

But what books would be on the Index if it did still exist today?
And what are you reading right now?