We read a lot around here. All of us. Some of us love the written word more than others, but we’ve amassed quite a library. Some reading is assigned. Some reading is not. We read for fun. We read to gain information and to learn about people. We read so that we can teach. We read to enjoy the beauty of ideas and the rhythm of well-chosen words.
Don’t think we all read all the time – I read a lot. Gideon does also. Josiah, Micah and Jon read less as they are all constantly working on other projects (writing, videos, programming, composing songs, practicing instruments).
But reading is definitely part of every day in this house.
Charlotte Mason lists Reason as one of her Twenty Principles: “We teach children, too, not to ‘lean (too confidently) to their own understanding’; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs” (Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education xxxi).
“Reason” represents a lot of subjects, so practicing it daily isn’t hard. Math. Science. Logic. Latin. English Grammar. All of those require systematic thinking and organized work. These things need habitual practice in order to reach mastery.
This coming year, Micah will tackle thesis-writing, Virgil, Trig, and Physics while Josiah and Gideon work on essay-writing, Henle Latin 1, algebra and life sciences (astronomy and biology). But the goal of all that work is not the adding of specific knowledge. The large goal is to develop the ability to work through problems even if they look big or scary. In order to do that, we need lots and lots of practice.
Our Remembering looks a lot different than it did three years ago. We all got frustrated with trying to do our Memory Work Recitations at a Council Meeting last September, and I finally just gave up on forcing it (probably six weeks after I should have). That doesn’t mean that we abandoned the Good, the True, and the Beautiful as much as we shifted to make our days work better.
However, I really missed having that short half-hour with everyone in the same room doing the same thing and remembering what we have learned before. This year, we don’t have any Foundations/Essentials students, so I may review our notebooks of previous memory work and remove some things that we have completed in order to shorten the recitation period. And there are a few things that would be good for us to add – like Latin vocabulary and paradigms.
We still do lots of story-reading, though I read aloud less than I used to. The boys still narrate what they are reading. We’ve had some deep conversations about things like the age of the Earth, the conjugation of verbs, the discoveries of math laws, and the consequences of actions.
I really enjoy these boys and their expanding minds. Every day is not fantastic, but most days have redeeming moments. These are, however, growing and changing young men. Two of them are in a period of very fast physical growth and hormone changes, and the third (who historically resists change) is looking at a LOT of changes in the next year. So, while we have a lot of great moments of connection and discussion, we also have moments we’d rather NOT remember, in which some combination of us gets frustrated and yells or refuses to do what he or she ought. Some days we struggle. Some days are smooth sailing. Most days are a mix, but we are making slow progress towards a graceful adulthood together.
PS: You can buy that pretty little book of Latin charts here.
Three years ago, I had a little list of things to tell you about Relating with each other that included doing schoolwork together, doing chores together, eating meals together, and so forth.
We still work together a lot, but the jobs are bigger, and everyone is using that work to train for adulthood, whether they recognize it or not. In the last year, we have flipped a house, moved across town, organized all of our things, watched as our bookcases were built, set up our library, learned how to care for a pool, trained everyone in yard work, done lots of cooking lessons, and built a fence.
These messages allowed lots of opportunities to grow in relationship with each other as we worked together to complete them. We all made progress in extending grace to each other. The boys wanted to learn to make sushi because they like to eat far more of it than I would like to pay for at a restaurant. After I had a meltdown over how long it would take me to figure out how to cook something this different from our regular fare, I had to ask them for forgiveness. I found some nori in the cupboard, cooked some short grain brown rice, and purchased a little smoked salmon. The next day we made some pretty tasty Philly rolls and ate them for lunch with some cherries. It turns out I CAN figure out how to make sushi from YouTube videos and a well-timed viewing of “East Side Sushi” on Amazon Prime.
Our days are full of ways to practice relating from a place of grace and forgiveness.
This school year, we had some really big changes. Some had to do with moving house, and others had to do with growing children.
As one would expect, the process of moving house disrupted our routine. For instance, I used to spend a little time in prayer and scripture reading before we really had the day underway. But it didn’t happen every day like before. By the time the moving was finished and I had made myself a spot to read, write, and study, I was so tired, that I was spending my early morning hour sleeping in an effort to recover. That pretty much lasted until this spring when I forced myself to revive my habit of intentional morning rejoicing during Lent.
A new house also required different house cleaning routines and new chore systems. We are thrilled to have more space, but it took us a year to dream up a new system that actually works.
Because we lived in disarray for a few months, we struggled with routine. After the first month of the school year, we gave up on our standard Council Meeting (morning time) because it wasn’t working. My two Challenge students didn’t want to review the Foundations material anymore, but my final Foundation/Essentials student needed to get it down. My new Latin student suddenly balked at the Spanish review that was in our memory work. I had a nasty bought of allergies that made it hard to sing. And Micah, as a junior in high school, had enough commitments outside of the house that he needed the hour back in his day. So, after about ten years of constantly practicing Morning Time, we took a break.
But – I don’t like the lack of a Council Meeting because my younger boys aren’t getting the same kind of education as Micah did, and I want to remedy that. So, I’m revamping our system again.
In all, we still rejoiced, but I wasn’t as intentional about my own self-care routines this year, and that ultimately added to my having less grace to extend on any given day. We will work on that this coming year.
About 150 … or you know… 3 years ago, I wrote a series of posts about how I create a plan according to what I want to do in a day. My kids have gotten bigger since there, I have decided to revisit that series as I consider how things change over time. We still have the same six seven touchstones in our day, but as my kids have grown in stature, intelligence, and responsibility, our days have changed drastically.
Last summer, I abandoned the blog for a year as we were moving from our little house to my husband’s childhood home. It is amazing how much work it takes to move across town. Since we made such a shift just as the school year began, it took a full year for the house to be mostly ours and feel like home. While we were doing all of that other work, Gideon finished his last year of Foundation and Essentials and a summary of Ambleside Online Year 6. Josiah completed Challenge A. Micah survived in my Challenge 3 class, and Jon thoroughly enjoyed directing our campus’s first Challenge 4.
So, our Rule of Six Seven still outlined the plan for everyone, so that I didn’t drown in my day. This coming year, life will shift again, and it is time to make another plan. After ten years, our family is finished with Foundations and Essentials, so that is the end of an era. And, we have a rising Senior. Micah will be in Jon’s Challenge 4 class. I’m still directing Challenge 3. Josiah will be in Challenge B, and Gideon will tackle Challenge A. We need to help Micah finish well, and we need to help Gideon and Josiah develop strong study habits that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
I wrote about the idea of a Rule of Six here so if you haven’t dreamed up your own few things that complete your day, you can go read it and start contemplating.
As I finish up the new Rule of Six Seven posts, I’ll link them here.