Thoughtworthy (Life Skills, Charlotte Mason Boot Camp Scholarships, and MORE!)

:: 1 ::

I’ve decided I’m going to make “Life Skills” (defined veeeeeerrry broadly) a more permanent category in our morning Circle Time. We’ve been doing our homeopathic first aid book and it’s gone really well — all the children have seemed very interested, and I’ve seen them practice some of what they have learned.

I started thinking about what we’d do after that, and I didn’t really want to do another health book. Then I thought that maybe this could be a more general category, and so our course in Life Skills was born.

I’ve got two books ordered and placed on deck for this. Will we read every page of those books? I don’t yet know; they haven’t arrived yet. I’ll decide once I get a chance to skim through and see what I think applies.

The first title is How to Be Better At Almost Everything by Pat Flynn (not that Pat Flynn).

The second is Talk to Me by Dean Nelson. Yes, it’s a book about interviewing. But I listened to an interview with the author, and it turns out people find his information helps with social situations, too, because at the end of the day, good conversation starts with learning to ask good questions. Most kids could stand a jump start on good conversation, amiright?

I’ll let you know how it goes once we’ve done it.

:: 2 ::

new AfterCast episode came out yesterday:

You can listen in the post or, even better, you can subscribe in your favorite podcast player. ♥

:: 3 ::

We awarded the Charlotte Mason Boot Camp scholarships earlier this week. Remember that we only contact recipients, so if you haven’t heard from us, this means you didn’t get one this time. But don’t worry. You can apply again next time!

:: 4 ::

This month in 2017:

The Best Kept Secret of Homeschooling

I still maintain that this is so. Also: moment of silence for the fact that it is already February!

:: 5 ::

Yes, we now have enough volunteers for the AmblesideOnline booth at GHC Texas next month. With that said, we still need a few for GHC California so if you use AO and you’re planning to be there and you want to volunteers (and get free admission), just let me know!

:: 6 ::

This week’s links collection:

  • 3-day human-trafficking sting in California leads to 339 arrests from ABC7
  • Why Nationalism Won’t Save Us From Globalism from The Imaginative Conservative
    • “[A]ny restoration of the nation must include the rebuilding of those groups, families and associations that make up the nation, create culture, and foster goodwill and unity. Without these dynamic elements, the notion of nation is reduced to vague sentiments of political and economic grandeur, often detached from reality.”
  • Why Millions Of Kids Can’t Read, And What Better Teaching Can Do About It from NPR
    • Exhibit A: “When a child came to a word she didn’t know, the teacher would tell her to look at the picture and guess.” Deceased good teachers everywhere are collectively rolling over in their graves. Guessing is almost always a problem.
    • I have heard this nonsense about how grasping meaning is “more important” than actually being able to read the words on the page and all I can say is that this is ridiculous. Unless, of course, you want an illiterate population.
    • Exhibit B: “Michelle Bosak, who teaches English as a second language in Bethlehem, said that when she was in college learning to be a teacher, she was taught almost nothing about how kids learn to read.”

The post Thoughtworthy (Life Skills, Charlotte Mason Boot Camp Scholarships, and MORE!) appeared first on Afterthoughts.

Thoughtworthy (Recommendations Edition)

:: 1 ::

First recommendation: the What Have You podcast. For reasons:

  1. Loads of truth about Christian motherhood,
  2. With a *good attitude* about reality and
  3. Copious amounts of laughter.

Look, Scholé Sisters gets a lot of flack about the laughing, but we’ve got nothing on these two, so if you want more laughing while we’re on break, go here and get wise and jolly all at once.

:: 2 ::

pedometer

Second recommendation: get 5,000 steps by noon. I already said this on Instagram, so maybe you’ve already heard this obvious wisdom of mine. The day, you see, has two halves. If I don’t get 5,000 steps the first half of the day, it’s almost impossible to get 10,000 by the end of the day, especially since I don’t want to spend hours of my afternoon walking when I have Things To Do.

The photo, by the way, was taken a little after 10:00 PM on Wednesday night. I didn’t quite hit 10,000, but I was close enough to pat myself on the back. This is a mechanical pedometer. I had a FitBit for years, and it was very nice, but when mine died, I chose a non-EMF device because my husband said my arm was going to fall off from all that Bluetooth.

Ha.

:: 3 ::

Third recommendation: get steps while homeschooling. This sounds like the same advice as my second recommendation, but it’s a little different. When the weather is fine, I will read aloud to my youngest and then we will walk together around the backyard while he narrates. Yesterday, I would give math instructions to my daughter, do a lap in the house, and return to see how she was doing. I got hundreds of steps doing this, and returning to her again and again meant she felt like I was still available if she needed me.

I have been known to hop on the treadmill to receive narrations when I’m feeling especially desperate.

How do you stay active during the homeschool day?

:: 4 ::

Fourth recommendation: subscribe to AfterCast! Ha. A new episode came out yesterday, so it’s on my mind. But seriously: next week we’re interrupting the series with a great one-hour discussion I had with Brittney McGann. Subscribe in your favorite podcast player so you don’t miss it!

:: 5 ::

This month in 2018:

This approach is still working well for us (grade 11). This year, our focus is on learning to write an essay, so we’re slowly working our way through The Lively Art of Writing, applying the ideas as we go. The book has been so handy. When my oldest had an 8-10 page paper due for a class he was taking, we used it to help him write the paper, yes, but also to go back through and help him edit as well.

:: 6 ::

Recommended Reading Assignments:

The post Thoughtworthy (Recommendations Edition) appeared first on Afterthoughts.

Mothering a Book Glutton (Charlotte Mason and Gifted Kids)

The law is liberal, taking in whatsoever things are true, honest, and of good report, and offering no limitation or hindrance save where excess should injure.
– Charlotte Mason

Not all gifted children are early readers; it’s true. However, comma, from my extremely small sample size, I have deduced that the earlier a child reads, the more tempted they are to excess in this area — to spend their time only on reading.

We call this Book Gluttony, which is amusing. So amusing, in fact, that we wonder if it should be taken seriously.

Well: should it? It’s a worthy question.

To answer it requires us to return to first principles. If the goal of our education is good character — virtue — rather than just knowing stuff, then things like this matter.

Virtue? Or Vice?

Early reading is a secret vanity in parents of the gifted. It’s remarkable, really, to see a three-year-old flying through a book with which some six-year-olds would struggle. When we see a three-year-old growing into an older preschooler or kindergarten who doesn’t want to do much other than read, we say, “Well, of course. All children would do the same if they had access to such things at this age.”

While reading is wonderful, is reading all the time really a virtue? Or is it a a vice?

Meet Temperance

Temperance is one of those virtues our modern world ignores; half the time we’re not even sure what it means. Let’s see what Charlotte Mason wrote about it:

Temperantia

Temperance avoids every Excess. — Of the three rules of life by which our bodies should be ordered, perhaps temperance is least understood by young people. We think of Burne-Jones’s stately figure of Temperantia pouring pure water out of her pitcher to quench the flames, of temperance societies, and so on; and thus we come to associate temperance with abstinence from drink. That certainly is one kind of temperance; but the boy who is greedy, the girl who is slothful, are also intemperate, as you may tell by watching them walk down the street. They have not the springing step, the alert look, which belong to Temperance. (Vol. 4, p. 192)

Book Gluttony is a giving in to the temptation to excess — it’s as excessive as the other examples Charlotte Mason gives:

One may even be intemperate in the matter of restlessness. We may carry games, cramming for an examination, novel-reading, bridge, any interest which absorbs us, to excess; and all excess is intemperance.

The peculiar thing about this case is the small size of the child. It’s easy to say to an older child, “Look — you really shouldn’t have had so many treats off the plate that there weren’t any left for other people in attendance. That was gluttony and intemperance and you must have more consideration for others and more self-control.” The older child may or may not fight you on this, but they will know where you’re coming from, what all the words mean, and be able to have a discussion about what to do in the future.

The early reader, however, may or may not understand what you mean. Just because the child is gifted doesn’t necessarily mean you can or should reason with him about this.

As an aside, I think I should mention here that not all book gluttons are gifted. This is part of my gifted series, yes, but that doesn’t mean that your wonderfully average twelve-year-old won’t be tempted to lounge around all day reading a novel. Book gluttony is vice whether you are 3 or 33, but the solution I’m recommending below works better, I think, for younger children. With older children, you might still use it, but you’re going to have to also do some counseling and coaching, and less direct controlling.

Cultivating Virtue without Over Controlling

With small children, a combination of habit training and scheduling should be sufficient to solve the immediate problem, and the occasional passing comment of, “Oh, we shouldn’t overdo that. That would be excessive, and excessive means ‘too much’” is probably enough counsel.

By “habit training” I mean, first and foremost, the habit of obedience. That’s going to come in handy during the first week when little Susie is upset with you for coming into direct conflict with her uncontrolled passion for reading.

More than this, you can use your amazing mommy scheduling skills to build a habit or rhythm for your child’s day that allows reading, but not reading to excess. Take out a sheet of paper and list all the things you’d like to see your child doing. I don’t just mean activities like play with watercolors and clay; I mean things like meals, hygiene, naps, reading aloud, and chores. Please don’t forget outside time! Charlotte Mason was clear that it was imperative for preschoolers to spend many hours outside on fine days.

Get a blank weekly calendar template and map out a day and week for your child that includes all these things. Don’t designate “time for reading.” Instead, designate free time and in that free time the child must be truly free — if he wants to spend all of it reading, he may. You will have to decide how long is long enough when it comes to the amount of free time (and, by the way, you might want to break it up rather than giving it all at once).

Prevention is Superior to Cure

I had one child become a Book Glutton because I was on bed rest during a pregnancy. It was easier to let him read than to figure out what else to do. During that time, he forgot how to go outside and play! It was extremely difficult to retrain him to a more balanced life, so my advice to you is to avoid this situation if at all possible!

By training the young child to a habit of temperance — a daily or weekly schedule in which different activities have their place, and no one activity is allowed to, on a normal day, crowd out all the others — in which duty takes its place rather than self-indulgence — we actually provide the child with a virtuous norm to which we can appeal when she is older elementary or a teen and needs to be restrained and directed by her own Will rather than by Moms’ schedule.

In the case of my little Book Glutton, a definite schedule was precisely the tool I used to break his bad habit of intemperate reading. We gradually worked up to more outside time — it seemed compassionate to not throw him into the deep end of many hours per day. As he gained a wider variety of interests, I was able to back off and give him more free time. These days, I can trust him to give a wise consideration to his schedule, and guard himself the temptation to excess.

When my next early reader came along, I was prepared. I firmly believe we were able to avoid Book Gluttony with her by starting her off with a schedule that required more variety and less specialization. There were no battles over books, and that was quite a relief. This is why I say that prevention is superior to cure! It’s way easier.

Guarding Against Excess

This is a thing, and it’s not just a thing for our kids; it’s a thing for us. Our culture encourages excess in both good and bad things; I’ve even seen people be excessive in their minimalism, which is, perhaps, the height of irony.

Charlotte Mason has quite a bit to say about it, but I think most interesting is the principle she says underlies the virtue of Temperance:

Conscience is not, in fact, so much concerned with the manner of our intemperance as with the underlying principle which St. Paul sets forth when he condemns those who “worship and serve the creature more than the Creator.” (Vol. 2, p. 18)

That is, ultimately, what we need to guard ourselves and our children against: prioritizing our own passions and desires over all else. This is the heart of excess, and the real reason why all forms of gluttony are vice. At the end of the day, the call to the mother of a book glutton is the same call we mothers hear all the day long: let the little ones come to Me. Like law in the quote above, this mostly means we stay out of the way, but we can and must offer a hindrance in the places where excess would injure.

The post Mothering a Book Glutton (Charlotte Mason and Gifted Kids) appeared first on Afterthoughts.

Thoughtworthy (Medicine Cabinet, New Podcast Episode, Events Calendar, and MORE!)

This post contains affiliate links.

:: 1 ::

It’s cold season, which means I’m stocking my medicine cabinet with supplies. One thing we use regularly, and which I can highly recommend, is Boiron’s Coldcalm. Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, as you know. But more than that, I’ve found that Coldcalm either really works … or does nothing. There seems to be no middle ground. So you just have to test it. About half of our family uses it with great effect. My guess is it could work for half of your family, too. 😉

Also: we find it works best if taken right when you feel a cold coming on. My dad did this the other day. He woke up feeling like he was coming down with something, remembered his bossy daughter telling him about Coldcalm, and took a dose every 15 minutes for an hour, plus a fifth dose later in the day; completely knocked it out.

  

:: 2 ::

Yesterday, I kicked off a new season of AfterCast! ♥

I decided it’d be fun to run this season through the winter time when a lot of other shows (including Scholé Sisters) are usually on break. It’s nice to have something new, hm?

If you haven’t subscribed yet in your favorite podcast player … you really should! 🙂 

  

:: 3 ::

Did I mention the Afterthoughts 2019 Events Calendar is now available? You can download it for free and use it to plan, for example, when to take Charlotte Mason Boot Camp (if you haven’t yet). I had so many people emailing me about dates of different things that I decided to get organized and then let you in on all my secrets.

A couple fun new things include the Deep Dives (for Boot Camp alum to continue learning) and the CM Annual Review (a 2-session workshop that teaches a fruitful, meaningful way to wrap up your Charlotte Mason homeschool year).

Do get your copy of the calendar, just fill out this form and it’ll head to your inbox:

  

:: 4 ::

What are you reading right now? I’m doing what I always do in December, which is trying to finish every book I started in the calendar year, while simultaneously resisting the draw of any new books I’ve acquired and haven’t started.

It’s basically torture!

This month so far, I finished The Rector of Justin (good, but hard to read at times) and Atomic Habits (highly recommend — and if you read it, make sure after you are done that you download the free chapter applying the ideas to parenting).

I’m working on Bleak House, Against the Protestant Gnostics (a re-read for me), and Writing to Learn.

I’m staring longingly at, among other things, my new copy of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books by Karen Prior. I don’t usually buy books this time of year, but someone tipped me off that this was less than $10 so I ordered it before the price went up again.

  

:: 5 ::

This month in 2017:

I still wish I’d had this book when my children were young.

  

:: 6 ::

This week’s links collection:

The post Thoughtworthy (Medicine Cabinet, New Podcast Episode, Events Calendar, and MORE!) appeared first on Afterthoughts.

Thoughtworthy (Medicine Cabinet, New Podcast Episode, Events Calendar, and MORE!)

This post contains affiliate links.

:: 1 ::

It’s cold season, which means I’m stocking my medicine cabinet with supplies. One thing we use regularly, and which I can highly recommend, is Boiron’s Coldcalm. Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, as you know. But more than that, I’ve found that Coldcalm either really works … or does nothing. There seems to be no middle ground. So you just have to test it. About half of our family uses it with great effect. My guess is it could work for half of your family, too. 😉

Also: we find it works best if taken right when you feel a cold coming on. My dad did this the other day. He woke up feeling like he was coming down with something, remembered his bossy daughter telling him about Coldcalm, and took a dose every 15 minutes for an hour, plus a fifth dose later in the day; completely knocked it out.

  

:: 2 ::

Yesterday, I kicked off a new season of AfterCast! ♥

I decided it’d be fun to run this season through the winter time when a lot of other shows (including Scholé Sisters) are usually on break. It’s nice to have something new, hm?

If you haven’t subscribed yet in your favorite podcast player … you really should! 🙂 

  

:: 3 ::

Did I mention the Afterthoughts 2019 Events Calendar is now available? You can download it for free and use it to plan, for example, when to take Charlotte Mason Boot Camp (if you haven’t yet). I had so many people emailing me about dates of different things that I decided to get organized and then let you in on all my secrets.

A couple fun new things include the Deep Dives (for Boot Camp alum to continue learning) and the CM Annual Review (a 2-session workshop that teaches a fruitful, meaningful way to wrap up your Charlotte Mason homeschool year).

Do get your copy of the calendar, just fill out this form and it’ll head to your inbox:

  

:: 4 ::

What are you reading right now? I’m doing what I always do in December, which is trying to finish every book I started in the calendar year, while simultaneously resisting the draw of any new books I’ve acquired and haven’t started.

It’s basically torture!

This month so far, I finished The Rector of Justin (good, but hard to read at times) and Atomic Habits (highly recommend — and if you read it, make sure after you are done that you download the free chapter applying the ideas to parenting).

I’m working on Bleak House, Against the Protestant Gnostics (a re-read for me), and Writing to Learn.

I’m staring longingly at, among other things, my new copy of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books by Karen Prior. I don’t usually buy books this time of year, but someone tipped me off that this was less than $10 so I ordered it before the price went up again.

  

:: 5 ::

This month in 2017:

I still wish I’d had this book when my children were young.

  

:: 6 ::

This week’s links collection:

The post Thoughtworthy (Medicine Cabinet, New Podcast Episode, Events Calendar, and MORE!) appeared first on Afterthoughts.

Prevent Christmas Embarrassment with These Five Manners

Many years ago, I found myself embarrassed by my children when, upon opening a generous Christmas gift, they innocently declared to their great grandparents, “We already have this!” Kids say the darndest things and all that, but seriously? Not even a thank you?

Sigh.

The next Christmas wasn’t much better. That time around, it was food. “Ew!” they exclaimed, staring in disgust at the green beans some relative had lovingly prepared. Even the baby was in on this antic.

The year after this was my first year doing what I call DecemberTerm. In those days, there weren’t many school lessons anyway (I only had one student), so all we did was Advent and Christmas. It was all Christmas all the time — Bible reading, singing Christmas songs, reading Christmas poetry, baking — you name it, we did it and that was all we did. No regular school stuff at all.

I miss those days, but times change as children grow up.

The Lord had mercy on me and put it in my head to teach manners as part of our DecemberTerm Circle Time that year. It was 2010 and I feel so old saying so.

Manners lessons were an amazing game changer that I had completely forgotten about until I was rummaging through old files. Turns out, kids don’t actually know what they are supposed to do. They may be vaguely aware that Mom is standing by, horrified by what they just said or did, but often they aren’t sure why. I think I expected my children to pick up good manners along the way when what they really needed was a bit of direct teaching.

DecemberTerm was three weeks long that year and so we learned one manner per week. Each day, I repeated the manner, and then we had a little talk about it using a Bible verse and some questions I had prepared in advance.

I can’t tell you how much this improved our Christmas season! Not only did my children finally know how I expected them to act, and not only were they quick to become sweet and considerate toward others, but we had some wonderful talks about the meaning of Christmas, Christian love, and more.

The next year, I thought of a couple new manners to teach, plus repeated and old one. This brought me to five Christmas manners (hence the title of this post).

It’s funny; none of my children remember these lessons. But to this day I hear the older ones advising the younger ones on how to behave, and it’s all taken from this script I wrote almost ten years ago.

I thought some of you might enjoy doing something similar with your children and so I typed up my notes from what we did before and they’re ready for you to download and use. This is a five page PDF. On each page there is one manner and five sets of discussion notes (with Scripture readings). Just fill out this form:

A few tips on using this tool:

  • Like anything, don’t be a slave to the curriculum. You don’t have to teach all five manners.
  • I taught manners daily and so there are five discussion notes per manner — one for each weekday. If you only want to discuss a manner three times, simply choose your favorite discussions and use those — they are mostly in no particular order!
  • Reword the discussions to best fit your own children.
  • You don’t need to use every question on every child.

Whether your children have embarrassed you … or not (lucky you!) … these lessons might be just what you need to do a little coaching before the big day arrives.

Merry Christmas, friends! ♥

The post Prevent Christmas Embarrassment with These Five Manners appeared first on Afterthoughts.