Anne's Summer Studies--June

A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver Van DeMille

I long ago decided that TJEd in its purity was not for me nor my children.  I felt at loose ends too much, and with various seasons coming and going, I felt punished for opening workbooks and simply saying, "This is what we're going to do today."

Quite simply, I don't always have it in me to inspire instead of require. :)

But rereading this book now made me realize that truly our household is an educationally inspiring household.  We read lots of classics.  We talk a lot.  I check in with my kids, and I provide lots of inspiration through my own example and through the supplies we keep in our home.

It was a joyful reread, and it inspired me to keep up with our family reading . . . because lately I've felt in something of a slump.

Core and Love of Learning--Oliver and Rachel DeMille

When I finish assessing my kids, I'm going to write myself a separate post, assessing how I'm doing with the various "ingredients" recommended.  The first time I read the printed transcript of this audio recording my sister gave me, my oldest was still a toddler, and even when I've turned away from TJEd philosophies now and again, I've never really let go of these early practices because they are good, and they are so firmly entrenched as habits from our earliest days.  In rereading this personal classic, I felt really encouraged that my kids have a top-notch home environment, and truly, I need a dose of positive feedback--even if it is from myself. :)

Love is a Start: The Real Challenges of Raising Children with Emotional Disorders--Donna Shilts

Rereading this one was so encouraging.  The first time I read it, the 4 newest were only recently placed with us, and I didn't really know what was coming.  It's been nearly 2 years since their placement, and over a year since the adoption was finalized.  We've been living with and learning from one another for all that time, and what we've lived and learned could fill a book of our own!  I can really relate to the author's story, and though my children are not as profoundly affected as hers are, we have had many similar experiences.

The following paragraph struck a chord in my heart both times in my reading:
 "Young children with fetal alcohol effects are contradictory in their behaviors and at times most difficult to understand.  No two are alike which only adds to the confusion.  They are resistive to change in their environments, require considerable supervision for safety, can be demanding and relentlessly needy, are easily frustrated, have trouble with transitions or change of activity, are unable to grasp consequences, lack stranger anxiety, have short-term memory problems, have difficulty following through on tasks consistently, and they may have huge emotional responses to seemingly minor incidents."
The first time I read it I cried with relief and fear because we were knee-deep in all of this.  The second time I can say honestly that we have overcome so much, and the kids are exhibiting fewer and fewer of these characteristics as time passes.

 In reading Love is a Start again, I am convinced that we are doing just the right things to help our family grow, but I get the feeling that Little Brother is going to need some extra help in the coming years.

I feel profound gratitude to Donna Shilts for writing her story so that I could learn from her mistakes and be saved some of the heartache she endured.  She helped pave the way for my family to succeed.

Dr. Beechick's Homeschool Answer Book by Ruth Beechick
Selected and Edited by Debbie Strayer

I picked this one up on a whim at the library.  I mostly just skimmed over it because I don't really have any of the questions that were addressed in the book, but I did find one gem of information that I want to keep in mind.

From page 122 in answer to a question about potential reading problems:
"If the child is right-handed, does he have a matching right dominance in eye, ear and foot?  If there is any mixture of dominance it can cause a sort of scrambling of messages in the brain.  Dominance problems are often solved by physical exercises designed for the purpose."
Just last month I noticed that Little Brother is far more coordinated with his right hand than his left, but he chooses to use his left hand for all fine-motor activities.  I thought it was kind of unusual, and I've made a point of having him practice finger-spelling with his left hand (we do a little sign language for fun and coordination) to help improve his fine-motor coordination.  This small portion of a paragraph just jumped out at me as being so sensible and true for Little Brother!

At this point, I'm not going to dive into any special therapies beyond the sign language we're already doing and continuing to encourage many hours out of doors allowing his body and brain to grow in healthy ways.   Pixie has mixed dominance (right hand, left eye), and she has no problem reading or learning or thinking, so it is only a potential issue--not an inevitable one.

But I'll be watching Little Brother to see if mixed dominance becomes an issue for him.

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

This book has been around since 2009, and it has spawned hundreds(?) or even thousands(?) of articles, blog posts, spin off books, etc.  The principles explained in this book are easily found everywhere and anywhere, but it was a good re-read for me.  I'm good at simplicity parenting.

One principle I felt a sense of relief at reading was the idea that as kids under 10 aren't good at verbalizing feelings, we don't need to push them to do so.  We can watch their behaviors and offer support.  As an adoptive mom of kids from trauma, I'm told by therapists and counselors to give my kids words and to verbally process everything!  Honestly, it's exhausting, and doesn't seem all that productive.  Perhaps my kids do need the words and processing time because of their tremendously traumatic pasts, but perhaps I can back down and just let them grow up in our healthy, safe home until their brains develop enough to verbalize.

Honestly, based on lots of other research about brain development and what kids need and my own frustrating experiences with trying to teach kids to use words to express abstract emotional experiences, I'm leaning toward backing down and letting them be.  Goodness knows they're seeing the rest of us model positive behaviors everyday.

Well, I Wonder by Sally Schweizer

If ever a book arrived at the right place at the right time, having this book arrive in my hands this summer is it.

It is the first three chapters of the book that speak to my heart right now.  We've survived the past almost 2 years of expanding our family so dramatically, and we are finally shifting from surviving to thriving.  Last summer I could not have handled this information, but this year I can.

(I think . . . I hope.)

The author speaks much of the imitative nature of young children--that they will imitate more than we ever dream.  This is not new.  I did know this, and I am painfully aware of my own poor example on more than one occasion.  However, she writes so naturally of ways to model positive behaviors and how to inspire children to behave in ways that will bless themselves and their communities that I feel entirely capable of following her example.
"Our words often fall on stony ground, whereas what we do, may work like a charm."   (p. 68)
"Have we come to misunderstand children (through being in such a hurry); so much so that we have forgotten that children's consciousness, their minds, are intrinsically different from ours?" (p. 6)
Page after page of practical advice mixed and mingled with anecdotes and philosophy held me breathless from the beginning to the end.  I disagreed with more than one idea, but overall, I felt intensely inspired.

How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott D. Sampson

I was mostly bored by the first two chapters that describe why we need nature the first time I read this book, and I felt the same the second time; I don't need to be convinced of that.  But I loved rereading the rest of the book--the how-to portion of it. 

It is not a lesson plan sort of thing--no what to do on Monday and how to follow it up on Thursday. 

It is full of ideas to fill my brain with joyful ideas so that I'm ready to suggest something when the time and place are right.

It is full of anecdotes that stay in my brain and inspire me.

It is full of suggestions and tips for how to be a good nature mentor.

And in the re-read, I find myself energized and better prepared this year than last.


  1. Excellent reviews! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thomas Jefferson Education has had a big impact on how I do things. I certainly don't follow the method exactly but the books are among those I reread when I feel things are going off the track a bit.

  3. Interesting mix of books, Anne. I like that Beechick quote; makes a lot of sense. I've read some articles by Dianne Craft & learning difficulties & she says some similar things. I just noticed your lists of read aloud a in the side bar. Some great titles there. I admire you reading David Copperfield aloud. I don't think I'd be up to tackle reading Dickens aloud unless it was one of his shorter titles & I think the only boo in that category would be Hard Times. BTW, thanks for all the kind & thoughtful comments you leave at my little corner of the internet.

  4. Sorry about the blimps in my spelling above!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts