Anne's Summer Studies--July
Easy Homeschooling Techniques: General Edition by Lorraine Curry
This is another book I picked up on a whim at the library, and after skimming it, I'm returning it immediately. There is nothing easy about what this author recommends. It's surely full of good ideas--great ideas even--but implementing them for my big family is more labor intensive than almost any alternative I can think of.
Because I am somewhat dramatic, I felt physically ill as I turned the pages, looking for anything that didn't make me want to run screaming:
1. Read aloud--yes, good, that is easy, and we do that.
2. Pages 129-131 had a classics booklist that I liked.
3. Page 17 had a reprinted list from 1907 of what children should be taught.
4. She encouraged teaching children to be independent.
Yup, I can handle all of that.
But the rest of the book is a manual for creating your own curriculum for every subject for every child.
Nope, I'm not going to do that!
Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie
I love this book more than I can describe. My favorite concept in this year's re-reading is that of not being accountable for the results of our labors. We are simply accountable for laboring as the Lord directs.
That is so freeing!
So, I am accountable to work--to work hard and lovingly at teaching and caring for my family--but what the kids themselves do with my work is up to them. And that makes perfect sense considering my firm belief in individual agency.
I learned about margin from this book the first time I read it. The review was worth it.
The amount of margin built into our schedule can make or break a day!
I Love Dirt! by Jennifer Ward
Divided by seasons, this mini book as 52 activities to engage fairly young kids with the natural world throughout the year. It's cute--just the right size for keeping in a backpack and pulling out for impromptu moments in the out-of-doors.
Having a roly-poly race sounds fun!
I'll buy it second-hand, if I come across it at the right price, but I'm not so in love with the ideas that I must have it.
A Mom Just Like You by Vickie Farris and Jayme Farris Metzgar
It took me a long time to get through this one, not because I didn't like it--I just never got to sit still and read for more than a few minutes. As a result, my sense of this book is fragmented, but I did have moments of profound appreciation for Vickie Farris' story.
I have lots of sympathy for her struggle to give herself over to the will of the Lord, and I can completely relate to being an older mother of littles. Sometimes I feel like the only older mother of littles I know, but in reading a book like this, I don't feel so alone.
My favorite part of the book came at the start when she related the concerns she had fore each of her oldest three daughters when they were teens, and how those concerns were overcome as her daughters reached and embraced adulthood. Being knee-deep in concerns for teen daughters myself, I took deep comfort in Vickie's reminders that they are the Lord's first, and He will help us care for them.
This book was overwhelming to me because it spoke directly to my feared weakness that I'm failing utterly at creating a life-giving home. (Seriously, never mind the fact that I have 12 children, 4 of whom were adopted from the foster care system, that I provide multiple meals a day for all of them, keep a clean home, teach responsibility, celebrate birthdays and holidays, keep the tradition of a weekly family home evening, teach kids to sew and bake, take kids on outings, maintain a habit of daily prayer and scripture study for myself and for the family, organize dates with my darling husband and so forth and so on. Still, I worry that because I don't put up wreaths on the front door at Christmas or stay up in my jammies eating ice cream and painting my toenails with my teens, I'm not doing it right . . . It's strange, but true.)
But on page 182 Sarah writes about a scene from a favorite TV show called Lark Rise to Candleford. There is a new maid in the main character's home who ruins a family heirloom, and the maid offers to leave. Sarah writes:
"Miss Lane speaks to Minnie in her frustration, berating her, asking why she has no respect for the love that is in precious things, the very things that make the post office the meaningful place it is. But then she answers her own question:
'Of course you can't see. No one has ever taught you respect. No one has ever taught you love. I am not going to send you away, Minnie. I took you on, and that means you are one of us now. It is not your fault that you weren't ready for the burdens I put upon you. You need to be taught, so that is what we will do. I intend to scold you when you deserve to be scolded. I may at times be unforgiving. But I will never turn you out. The post office is your home.' "
I have a Minnie in my home. I have a child who ruins so many things of worth. And it is true that she has not been taught . . . though not for lack of effort for the past 2 years. It is equally true that she is one of us now, and we will never turn her out--even if we scold her and are unforgiving at times.
I read this passage the day after a particularly trying series of episodes of negative, self-destructive, and relationship-damaging behaviors on the part of our Ladybug.
For this passage alone, the book is worth its weight in gold.
I needed that encouragement, and I'll carry it with me always.
I skimmed through at least half a dozen more books that left little to no impression upon me. I remember neither titles nor authors. But these few books left their mark and are affecting the choices I'm making for our school year ahead.