Friday, August 27, 2010

The Start of the Commonwealth School

This year we decided to join a Commonwealth school. It is sort of like a formal mom's school. While originally designed for Scholar Aged children, this school likes to invest in its Core and Love of Learning stage children as a means of teaching new families what a TJED home and community looks like, thus creating a stellar TJED Scholar program in the future. At least, that is the intention. Keep in mind that I am quite a novice when it comes to Scholar aged activities as my oldest is only 9.
So for a half day a week (Scholars do a full day) the kids are brought together in a TJED style.
I am not really in the know as to what the Core children are doing. Seems like Church nursery to me and my littlest is participating in that (he's 3).
Then there is the Love of Learners (generally ages 6-10) though my third is almost 6 and I elected to have him to the LOL classes (otherwise known as Juniors). Then there is a "Introduction to Scholars"Class group (Transition Stage) and finally Scholars.
Basically I don't really know what is going on in anything but Love of Learners. We start off our days in Love of Learners as follows.

9:15 am- School morning devotional- Prayer, songs, saying our School Mission statements, announcements, Pledge of Allegiance (though not necessarily in that order!).
9:30ish- Juniors- I WONDER time- We wonder about things, write it down and the kids are encouraged during the next week to go and seek out some answers and return and report.

Then for about 40 minutes we break into two 20 minute classes and do some science. The mom's take turns and give what they feel inspired to give. All the while the activities should be stimulating and fun. I would say it should feel like the kids are having too much fun to feel like they are learning. Thus accomplishing both the mom's and the kids objectives, in a way.

The the real mom's school begins- Some of the moms have signed up to share "what is their's." For me, I have taken on the role of hadworking instructor. I wanted to implement some Waldorf Handworking into my classes, because I am really into it. Thus, by sharing what is ours, we can not only share our wisdom and knowledge but also our excitement about the subject. That is not something that comes easily when you aren't as into something.
Classes being offered this semester are:
Westward Ho- A pioneer themed
Backyard Adventures- Bugs, Scat and Animal tracks, Kick ball, Track and Field, and a Bicycle Rodeo.
Drawing Dragons and Castles
Handwork- A mini album (Scrapbooking)
What's on your plate (nutrition)
Kitchen Science- Experiments with vinegar and other baking and kitchen science.

Some future classes include but are not limited to-
Beginning Knitting
Working with wool- washing, carding,beginning spinning and naturally dying wool
Role playing adventures
Introduction to sewing

Many of these also include field trips and are full of hands on activities.
We also have two field trips planned. One to the Berry Patch Farm in Brighton, CO for Pumpkin Adventures and also the Hiwan Homestead, in Evergreen, CO for some pioneering activities. We plan to finish up the year doing a world wide Christmas Celebration.

So we finished our first two weeks and so far we really like it. The school has a couples colloquium that is run by the men and our first book is Uncle Tom's Cabin. SWEET!!! That was on my list for this year if you remember. Anyhow, I just thought I would share what we were up to at the commonwealth school. I hope you are doing well in your new/old adventures this new "school year."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Portrait of a Lady: Quotes and My Thoughts

Book Review of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

While I felt the book was slow going at the beginning, I persevered and am so much the better for it. It was, all in all, an excellent book.

This was the first book I decided to write in the margins my thoughts. I've underlined books before, but this time I moved up to the next step. So, I thought I would share the parts of the books that I found moving or interesting and also the thoughts I had when reading. These are random at best, but perhaps you'll find them interesting.

"He was pleased with everything; he had never before been pleased with so many things at once. Old impressions, old enjoyments, renewed themselves; one evening, going home to his room at the inn, he wrote down a little sonnet to which he prefixed the title of "Rome Revisted." A day or two later he showed this piece of correct and ingenious verse to Isabel, explaining to her that it was an Italian fashion to commemorate the little occasions of life by a tribute to the muse."

What a delightful idea to begin again; to write verse as a tribute to the muse. I think I will begin this tradition in our home.

"The world lay before her-she could do whatever she chose. There was a deep thrill in it all, but for the present her choice was tolerably discreet; she chose simply to walk back from Euston Square to her hotel."

It is quite profound when it comes to your consciousness that you are a free being- free to choose whatever you may no matter how insignificant or important. What a blessing from God that He allows us to be free beings and therefore free also to accept the consequences of each choice.

"Madame Merle had once declared her belief that when a friendship ceases to grow it immediately begins to decline--there being not point of equilibrium between liking more and liking less. A stationary affection, in other words was impossible-it must move one way or the other."

That is also true in other aspects of our lives--health, weight, and spirituality. If we are not progressing each day, we are regressing.

"He said to her one day that she had too many ideas and that she must get rid of them. He had told her that already, before their marriage; but then she had not noticed it: it had come back to her only afterwards. This time she might well have noticed it, because he had really meant it. The words had been nothing superficially; but when in the light of deepening experience she had looked into them they had then appeared portentous. He had really meant it-he would have liked her to have nothing of her own but her pretty appearance. She had known she had too many ideas; she had more even than he supposed, many more than she had expression to him when he had asked her to marry him."

Another example in literature of why overlooking serious personality flaws and even differences when dating can be disastrous later on. Many times it leads to an unhappy marriage.

This is going on the list for my girls to read before they begin looking for husbands. I want them to learn the difference between true love and the importance of listening and heeding the advice of those closest to you who have only your best interests at heart. As with other classic books this book illustrates the painful consequences of not doing so.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lamps in the Bedroom to Encourage Reading

“Happy is he who has laid up in his youth, and held fast in all fortune, a genuine and passionate love of reading.” -Rufus Choate

To raise an intelligent, voracious reader as a parent our job is to create an environment conducive to reading. In each child’s bedroom it’s a simple as having shelves for books that are easy to for the child to reach and enjoy the books. My two favorite ways to store books in the children’s rooms are bedside tables with a good shelf and galley shelves made of rain gutters. (See directions.)

Next is providing a lamp for them to read at bedtime. Lamps can be an expense to put one in each room if you go out and buy all new. I enjoy buying used lamps. I’ve never paid more than $3 per lamp for my children’s room. At a garage sale I found a double pair of decorative iron lamps with shades. For my youngest two daughter’s room I found a $3 pink lamp with a sequin shade at a thrift store. Keep an eye out for a good deal on lamps and avoid breaking the bank to add these additions to your home. The best part is if one gets broken, you don’t have to feel so frustrated because you didn’t spend too much on it.

In our home, each night at bedtime, mom, dad or a sibling will snuggle with the younger children and read 1-2 books by lamp light. If we let them read on their own after that, we turn out the lamp 10-15 minutes later. The older children read until sleepy by the light of their lamps.

We use 40 watt bulbs to allow enough light to read by without brightly lighting the entire bedroom. If you can find lamps with the off switch on the cord, it makes it easier for the child to turn out the light without having to reach too far.

It has been proven that even ten minutes a day of Sustained Silent Reading is enough to increase test scores quickly and tremendously. I’m not necessarily after good test scores as much as I am hoping to encourage and nurture a love of reading that will benefit my children the rest of their lives.