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.


A Visit from the Mayor

It’s not every day that the Mayor and his Deputy come to call. However, today there was a knock at the door and there they were, introducing themselves.

Of course, we hadn’t started our school day. The washing was still out in the middle of our living room. The girls had spread out their teddies and prams and I was trying to arrange a heating repair. Fortunately the sofabed was already packed away (it’s a one bedroom flat, we use the space as best we can) and we were all dressed. But honestly, it wasn’t the sort of place that you would want strangers to walk into, least of all strangers who were there to assess you. Oh yes. They were here to check up on us…

Throw on the big smile (easy enough, they were smiling), apologise and explain that you are in the middle of getting ready to move (no lie, it’s M-day, minus 7), and say « Please come in ».

I got the feeling that they weren’t really sure what they were meant to do – guess there aren’t many of us home-edders in the village then! They mentioned the letter they’d received from the Academie which told them to come and check (but not the letter that I had already written to them, which was meant to initiate their inspection).

The obvious home ed bit of our living room - enough to pass an inspection, photo taken a day later, sans Bescherelle but equally as untidy!

Apparently we passed the contrôle. The Mayor saw our low shelf heaving with files and folders and the box of books beside it, with a Bescherelle right at the front and immediately said that was what he came to see. Just checking that we weren’t abandoning our children to play all day.

They also asked the question « Why didn’t we send the children to school? ». I think the answer I ended up giving was pretty much that we were Scottish! I’m not sure because there were so many interruptions with children playing, kitten rampaging and husband returning, that I don’t remember actually finishing my response.

Our first minor inspectors didn’t seem to mind. In fact they apologised for the apartment block that we live in and explained what we should do when we move to keep on the right side of the law.

And then it was Bonne Continuation. Amen to that.

One Lovely Blog Award

Gosh! I’m surprised and delighted that Chelle from Last in Line has thought of this wee blog for a One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you, Chelle, you’ve given me a boost of encouragement 🙂

Chelle has a blog that points us in an eclectic Charlotte Mason direction, with a twist of down-under and lots of ideas. I personally like the lapnotes that she has created. Check her out at Last in Line.

Here are the rules for the awards presentation:
1. Post a thank you from the person who awarded you and include their blog link.
2. Pay it forward to several other bloggers.
3. Comment the blog owners and award them.

I’m going to pay it forward in no particular order to:

Silvia at Homeschooling In a Bilingual School – a bilingual home-edding mamma, in English and Spanish. It is a wonderful thing to have found someone in a similar position to me, who shares her journey beautifully and is liberal in her finds on this website full of free resources.

I’ve also appreciated following Nancy’s journey at La Joie d’Apprendre ie the Joy of Learning, and seeing the beautiful images and ideas for learning. It’s in French, but fear not, there is a lovely little widget that will translate the page for you!

There are two blogs that I keep going back to. One is written by Barb at Harmony Art Mom. A mum with experience and gentle thoughts and words. She also hosts Sketch Tuesday, such a fab idea and a great favourite with my girls.

The second source of encouragement and help has been Nadene’s Practical Pages. The little extra that I particularly appreciate when I receive the updates from her site, is that Nadene reminds me to look to the Lord and not my own strength. This post is an example that I frequently bring to mind when I’m off on one of my self-sufficient excursions.

And in a slightly different direction, Heather writes about life in Haiti at The Story of One Family in Haiti. She has a lovely way of writing and paints thoughtful and thought-provoking posts about her life and family.

Thank you to all of you who generously share a part of your real life with us, here, in the virtual world.

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?

Art Gallery Sketches

It was a real challenge this week, but we’ve done it… had to sketch something from an art gallery. It brought out all the perfectionist tendancies, and I suppose too, the insecurities, but here is the result.

The girls always ask to do Sketch Tuesday. I’ve even had to institute our own Sketch Saturday (strictly in house, but for their pleasure I will, from time to time, post them here).
So I can recommend it. Read here for how to do it. And here for advantages of doing it.

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…

Scotland’s Story

Having just said that we are doing History from the beginning, there are 2 exceptions. We are also looking at Scottish and French history. It’s for cultural reasons, rather than anything else. We no longer live in Scotland, so the only way they will learn about their home country is if we study it. And we home educate, so the only real way they will learn French history is if we study it.

Explanation done. Let’s look at what we are using for Scottish history.

Click to go to the Baldwin Project for an on-line, printable version

We have no timescale for finishing it, and when the girls get bored, we stop it for a while. But I do want them to be able to remember something of what they read… huh, and narration doesn’t do it for them at the moment.

We’ve been mostly ending each chapter with a type of crafty notebooking page (I’m not a great notebooker, so I really feel like I’m making this up). And just in case, there is someone else who can use the ideas, here are the useful pages that we have done, with the chapters included.

Chapters 1-3

Chapters 1-3: Basic Drawing with text narrated underneath

This method leaves them a bit short.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - Mini Pictures and Map, detailing the story

This is my work. I was begining to get an idea of how to make this work for them… I simply photocopied this for the other notebook.

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Images relevant to the Scottish/French connection, and the girls' interests

We used this mostly to look at things I thought they should have some idea about, and we had a wee google to pull together some images.

Chapter 7

I cut out the shapes and they place them where they choose.

Took the chance to explore heraldry. They compared their shields to the real Hay shield when we were finished.

Chapter 8 & 9

Symbols for King and Ruthlessness

More to help them remember the bloody theme, rather than details… they were beginning to wane at this stage. Getting the paints out really helped them with their interest.

Chapter 10

Chapter 10 - Macbeth's half built castle, Macduff's castle with moat, his boat sailing off to England

They really did not want to draw my suggestions, which were ‘designed’ specifically to help their recall. Hence, the rather unclear pictures. And the reason why I’m much more dictatorial when it comes to their history craft at the moment.

Chapter 14

Chapter 14 - Kings of Scotland and England at war, stopped at Alnwick, keys for the castle arrive on a spear, which duly pierces Malcolm's eye and kills him. England wins.

This one was cut out for them, and I wrote after checking they knew what should be written.

Incidentally, for 2 girly girls, they hardly flinch when they hear about the blood and gore. Perhaps it is simply too far removed for it to affect them. They certainly don’t enjoy it (phew), apart from being allowed to use paint if necessary.

How do you make history real and memorable?