Stumbling Successfully Through

Our whole day is out of kilter… the kitten had his first sortie outside today and was refused breakfast so he could be tempted to return in. We scoffed our breakfast as quickly as we could and just left everything on the table. I’m now mid-disorder and stumbling through the day.

Funnily enough, in the midst of this stumbling, I came across 2 separate and yet complementary ideas in my inbox (mastering the morning? I wonder:)).

Firstly Sally Clarkson wrote about children’s need for outdoors, exploration and the chance to be bored in her post called Killing the soul of children at I Take Joy.

But the old fashioned way of raising children seems to be the healthiest way to raise emotionally, intellectually and spiritually resilient children.

Encouraging stuff for a mamma with her kids at home, just as all of Sally’s writing is.


Then The HomeSchool Mom sent me their newsletter with a link to Brain Rules. I’ve just looked through the videos that summarise the 12 Rules. It’s another encouragement to a mamma at home with her kids, as I find out why exercise helps children learn, why attention dips after 10 minutes and you need to spark it again, why sleep is vital, why a degree of stress is a good thing but too much of it creates scarring… and the communication also shows that they put into practice what they’ve learnt.  It’s memorable.

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A small Compte Rendu

Compte Rendu is (correctly or incorrectly spelt) an explanation – and I want to offer a small explanation of where the blog has been lurking these last months.

  • Move to Paris
  • Clean (and clean some more) the new flat and put everything in place
  • Set up a new-and-improved Home Ed routine (which had been so badly damaged by learning French at a school, holidays back in Scotland and then preparing to move)
  • A month’s worth of visitors in the house in December and beginning of January
  • Yet another interview with social services (no nice mayor this time, but neither was is a horrendous experience – a post for another occasion)
  • Not forgetting to mention Christmas and New Year (hey, we’re Scots.  Hogmanay counts as important 🙂 too)

I’ve been checking emails and mostly skimming blogs, but have nonetheless come across a couple of things that have kept me from pushing myself to blog.

One is a prayer that I stumbled across at a Holy Experience.  It spoke volumes to me.

The other is knowing that I’m home educating for my girls, and their growth, and their future, and their relationship with the Lord, and our relationship with each other.  And that means that just now, they need me, all of me, present with them,  undistracted by plotting words in my head or potential post titles or any of the other nonsense that my goal-orientated self wishes to push between them and me.

There is enough separation already: through the French administration, the need to plan a meal or two, my own desire for sanity (and hence a little space from small people).  We have intentionally chosen to remain close to our offspring through the means of Home Ed.

I’m sorry, dear Reader, that places you in second position for the moment.

When it all comes together (soon, Lord, please… I do like writing), Iwill have much more to share.

Our May-be Montessori Placemats

Whilst perhaps not strictly a ‘home-school’ issue, this is still for us a home-education topic – how our girls learn to live with other people and learn skills to help them become independant.

For us, this means that they get to set the table. Correctly. And it was becoming a bit of a bore re-explaining constantly where things had to go.

So one afternoon when Giggler and I were alone together we did our Placemat Project, which was great because it was going to mostly benefit her.

The task in short was:

  1. We choose some card,
  2. traced round cutlery, a plate and a glass (top tip – don’t put the plate right in the middle, there will be less space for the glass),
  3. did some decorations (her idea, turned the plates into people)
  4. and drew food on the other side.
  5. Lastly, laminated.

Each one has a different food theme

This is the side to show positions for knife and fork, dessert spoon, plate and glass

How they coordinate with the tablecloth (yes, it is important :))

I’m not sure this is exactly what Maria had in mind, but we love them. I suspect this from Our Surburban Homestead would be more her thing. But the girls just love these ones and the Happy Face on each mat. And wipe-clean really suits me.

How do you help your children learn how to help in the house?

Mastering Mornings… avoiding the pc

Although mastering mornings from the moment you wake up is very important, my issue at the moment is the Home Ed morning, the stuff that happens after we are meant to have begun.

Too many times recently the day has slid by with nothing achieved. It’s not simply the unticked boxes in the plan, but not enough connected, constructive time in the home, the real education of life. One obvious culprit is the fact that we are still integrating into French life and bureaucracy. And that does demand my attention from time to time as soon as office doors are open.

However a major contributing factor to a bad morning (and hence a bad day) is the pc.

My aim is to avoid turning it on until as late as possible, because inevitably, if it is turned on, I’ll ‘just’ check my email, ‘just’ do this, ‘just’ do that. It took me a while, but I finally deactivated my facebook account (yeah, I know, all I need to do is log in again and it’s as if I’ve never been away… but it’s the principle, I clicked deactivated, and so, therefore, it is deactivated). That has been a huge relief, but also a huge time liberator.

But honestly, I existed perfectly well without a pc online until a few years ago. Why the need to have it consume so much of my time?

« Addicted! » I hear you say. Well, yes.

« Time to go cold-turkey! » Not quite. The girls work is often found on-line.

« Then only connect when necessary ». Nice thought. The phone is an IP phone. No internet equals no phonecalls (and they are really important, otherwise how else can we hear our lovely English-speaking friends).

And in fact, the solution as I see it is ‘me’. Self-discipline, self-control, based in dollops of prayer and Truth, springing from the Grace that covers all. Actually, that means the solution is the Lord…