Sunday, January 28, 2018

How Do I Bless My Child?

For Gemma's first birthday, my aunt and uncle gave me the book The Spiritual Growth of Children.

Gemma was a year old, so I, of course, read the section for Ages 0-4 first. Chapter 29 ("From Hugs to Hosannas: What Your 0-4-Year-Old Can Learn") is about the ideas a young child can learn about God. He exists. He loves you. He created everything...

One of the ideas is "God created you," and the book gives "Hints and Helps" as to how to communicate this to a 0 to 4 year old:
When you pray for and over your children, thank God for making them so special and for giving them to you and your family. Be as specific as you can. For example, at the end of the day in which your toddler built an especially tall tower of blocks, thank God for giving him or her a steady hand and a creative mind.
Every night since I read that paragraph, I have included in our bedtime prayer a thank you to God for making Gemma. I want her to hear me express my gratitude that she is in my life.

Gemma is now six, and there are lots of moments when my very smart, very confident child needs a reminder that Mommy and Daddy really do want her to do what we say, preferably soon after we say it.

I should also add that I want my child to express herself. I value her curiosity and her need to make sense of things.

Just not everything.  All. the. time.

So, when I've told her to do something, and she's questioned why, and this has happened three or four times in a row, I'm not thinking about blessing my child.

I'm trying not to yell.

I teach public school, and doing so requires a lot of self-control. By the time I get home from work, I often feel I've used up my store of self-control for the day. It's pretty crummy feeling that other people's children get a better version of me than my own child.

So, we're back to the question of How do I bless my child?

According to John Trent and Gary Smalley, there are 5 elements to a blessing:

  1. meaningful and appropriate touch
  2. a spoken or written message
  3. attaching a high value to the one being blessed
  4. picturing a special future for her
  5. an active commitment to fulfill the blessing

Instead of trying to do all of these in order, like a blessing recipe, I want to try to bless my child more frequently. When she asks for one more hug, even when I should have been out the door two minutes ago and my car is on empty, I need to hug her. And I need to like it.

A spoken or written message... For the past couple of years, every day before I leave for work, I've written Gemma a short note in which I include the words "I love you." There have been a couple of times I didn't write her a note, and she's asked why. I was in a hurry; I hadn't realized that it meant so much.

We say "I love you" multiple times each day, but there are other things I want Gemma to hear.

You are accepted. You are my priceless treasure. You will always have enough. Yes, I will help you, not later, but now.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

James Herriot as Science

About a year ago, when I was planning Gemma's Year 1 (first grade), one of the sources I used for inspiration was Ambleside Online (AO). (I love AO, and I refer to it often.) One of the books AO, and other Charlotte Mason curricula, recommended for Natural History was James Herriot's Treasury for Children.


At that time, I didn't know much about the difference between Science and Natural History. I was quite ignorant. I thought that Natural History was just a Victorian/Edwardian term for Science. My daughter would be studying Natural History. How quaint.

I ordered the Herriot book and read it. The stories in it were very sweet. Quaint. But not science. I might be able to read this book to my daughter as a series of bedtime stories, but how could I call it school?

Over the past year, I've come across other homeschoolers with the same question. They wonder what science curriculum they should use with their kinder through third grade students. The whole learning-through-stories is nice and all, but where are the facts?

Over the past year, I've also read a little bit about the difference between Science and Natural History, and about the importance of giving a child time to develop 1)their skill of observation, and 2)some general understandings about the physical and natural world.

So, what do I think now?

I think James Herriot's book is an essential Year 1 book. It is a Natural History book in that Herriot models how to observe nature. He displays a sense of humility when he writes about the ways animals surprise him. He watches animals closely, wondering what they will do next, demonstrating curiosity.

There is also has quite a bit of science in the book. By hearing Herriot's stories, children implicitly learn:

  • Living things move.
  • Living things take in and use food.
  • Living things sense changes in their surroundings. (Example: An animal can sense a change in temperature.)
  • Living things grow.
  • Living things die.
  • Living things reproduce. (Example: Mommy pigs have piglets.)
  • Animals can feel comfort and pain.
  • Animals can remember.
  • Animals can communicate.
These are just some of the science lessons children learn from James Herriot's Treasury for Children. In a science textbook, these facts would be stated explicitly. However, by using a living science book, children "observe" along with the storyteller, and discover ideas for themselves.

I'd love you to leave me a comment sharing What science lessons did your child learn from James Herriot's stories? 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Year 1: Week 25

This is the first week of our last term of first grade. Gemma will turn seven years old in only four months!

This week, we:
  • read 3 pages of Lamb's As You Like It. We're nearing the end. Next week will be our final week of As You Like It. I'm not sure which Shakespearean tale we'll read next.
  • completed Chapter 1 of Life of Fred: Mineshaft. 
  • read poems from Nature in Verse
  • started learning "Mary Ann" on piano
  • read the fable "The Wind and the Sun"
  • went on a field trip to see Paddington 2
  • read more about Alexander the Great
  • listened to a Classics for Kids podcast about Mozart (Gemma's choice for composer this term), as well as some of The Magic Flute and one of his piano concertos
  • read about tapirs in Brazil, and read a poem from Elementary Geography
  • looked at Monet's La Grenouillère
  • read 1 Samuel 16:6-12 (The Sons of Jesse). Gemma chose this as her Old Testament recitation passage for the term. We also read Psalm 23 and Matthew 13:44-46 (parables - The Treasure and the Goodly Pearl), and The Feeding of the Five Thousand.
  • listened to Deck Yourself, My Soul, with Gladness, Gemma's hymn choice this term. I gave her the choice between this and a couple of others, and this is the one she chose. She was familiar with it because it is in her Sacred Solos piano book.
  • went to ballet
  • went to jiujitsu. Here is Gemma taking down her partner...
  • read the Andersen tale The Tin Soldier. She hated it. "Worst fairy tale ever" were her words.
  • sang along to Chocolate (Jose Luis Orozco) - the song Gemma chose as her Spanish song - and Les Trois Rois - the Christmas song Gemma chose as her French song
  • watched several episodes of Salsa (children's TV show in Spanish)
  • worked on greetings and responses to "How are you?" in Spanish and French
  • practiced cursive
  • drew these pictures (a fairy on a mushroom). The duct tape is a nice touch, don't you think?
  • handicrafts ✔️- Gemma made this car from a kit from - see if you can guess where. It's a pull-back car, which makes it even cooler, and, from what I could tell, is the best kit in the Build & Grow line. The kit requires hammering nails, and Gemma built it all by herself.
This week, we had the privilege of attending a birthday party with some very special guests...

...like an alligator...

...a serval...

...a fennec fox...

...an eagle owl...

...a porcupine...

...a sugar glider...

...a skink, and an enormous boa. That totally counts as Nature Study, right?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Year 1: Week 24


This was my favorite quote from our school reading this week: "But if you keep your eyes open, you can learn a great many things like these, which children shut up in towns cannot see." It was from Plant Life in Field and Garden by Arabella Buckley. The reason it jumped out at me is because we ARE children shut up in towns!

It's the end of Year 1: Term 2! Oh my!

We:
*spent a day playing with friends at the beach
*actually did paper sloyd! We made envelopes.

*read Bible passages, including The Stilling of the Storm
*drew a princess sitting and reading

*completed Life of Fred: Liver and started Life of Fred: Mineshaft
*read 3 pages of Lamb's As You Like It
*read some poems in Nature in Verse
*read about seahorses
*read about Alexander the Great (and reviewed where Macedonia and Greece are)
*did some cursive
*played piano
*went to dance class

*completed a couple of pages of our new French & Spanish resources - Carson Dellosa's - Middle/High School. I considered the Elementary version of these boooks, but it was too easy after months of Duolingo and children's vocabulary apps. We're going to go slowly, and utilize pronunciation resources on the internet (and my husband, as a pronunciation resource for Spanish). I wanted a little more structure because I want to end first grade with Gemma having learned a few basic sentences, as opposed to just a bunch of nouns.

*read the final chapter in Plant Life in Field and Garden. Looking back on the past eight months, I'm happy I chose two books for Natural History (an animal book and a plant book), and it's something I want to continue - at least - through Gemma's second grade year. Our next plant book will be Margaret Morely's Seed Babies.
*read a fairy tale and a fable
*biked to the beach with Daddy

*sang songs
*listened to Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty Waltz
*re-viewed Van Gogh's Sunflowers
*completed our current read aloud - Detectives in Togas - which I didn't love at first, but grew to enjoy. Gemma couldn't get enough of it. She loves mysteries.