Today is the day.
The day to box-up Christmas and pack it away. Yet it is also the day to store the memory of Christmas, its lessons, its truth, and its beauty, to remember throughout the year ahead when I need it.
The day to clean up after New Year celebrations. Yet it is also the day to remember the joy and the hope that seeing in the New Year with loved ones offers, and live the memory of that hope and joy in my new everyday that will count as 2017.
The day to leave behind my in-between-week of Boxing Day Test Match Cricket, living low and simple, to just be, in that in-between time that hides in the bookends of Christmas and the New Year. The day to embrace what lies ahead while remembering the joys, the sorrows, and the truths of my yesterdays. The day to get back to business.
Our official homeschooling life begins again in the first week of February. So we still have four delicious weeks of Summer to live. In between lazy sub-tropical summer days, and all that they mean, I will be organising, cleaning, and readying resources for our year ahead (well, at least the term ahead anyway). I will be preparing my heart, mind, soul, and living space for the learning and working that lies ahead for me and my youngest daughter (it's just the two of us now) in 2017.
I mentioned in a previous post a lesson that is really making itself felt to me, at this season in my life. This lesson is the place of habit and memory in learning - genuine, deep, life-changing learning. Habit training (something that appears significantly in the works of Charlotte Mason) is something that I have not had the heart-space or mind-space to tackle consistently in my children's childhood years. And in all honesty, it shows. In my life and learning, and in my young adult and teen children's life and learning.
Now my daughter's are beautiful and delightful young women to be with - albeit far from perfect. Like everyone they have character flaws, strengths, and weaknesses. And if I had been more diligent in habit training in their childhood, there would be areas of improvement in their character traits and habits, but they would remain imperfect.
Perfection is not the goal of habit training. Manners and socially acceptable behaviours are not the goal of habit training. But I am beginning, now, to consider what habits really mean to learning and life - practically, intellectually, relationally, and spiritually. I am beginning to see played out, time and again, how a persons character affects the quality of their learning and how they can either encourage or discourage learning in their peers by their own habits and character.
This year I will be digging deeper into this idea of habit. What it means, how to develop it, the effects it has on those in our circle of life and learning, how it relates to our personal understanding of and relationship with God.
Reading slow. Narrating. Commonplacing. Thinking. Asking questions. Discussing with friends. Practising in my life, parenting, and teaching.
I begin now. Kicking off with CM 101 by Brandy Vencel, CM's volume on Character Formation, Laying Down the Rails, and You Are What You Love by James KA Smith. Not all at once of course. We'll see what rabbit trails open up after these. Anyone like to join in?
* these links are not afilliate links
The day dawned clear, sunny, and hot. The weather forecast was promising - no storms on the horizon for our corner of Queensland. We put the finishing touches to our outdoor party arrangements. We were preparing to celebrate. Our graduating daughter, and our friends and family who have walked this path of learning, mentoring, and loving this girl that God gifted us with.
And celebrate we did! But our beautiful outdoor party was packed up in a shower of rain, thunder, and lightening. Two 'surprise' storm cells decided to join the party too. So we sqeezed 70 people into our home. And we were very grateful for our good natured family and friends who embraced the new celebration arrangements with love, good cheer, and helpful hands.
Trickling back outside at the end of the night, after the storms finally passed.
Getting ready to feast.
Frog Salad & Party Prep.
The outdoor party arrangements.
Music Space & Photo-Fun Space.
Alison's next step is to take what is considered a gap year. During 2017 she will work in our family business and prepare herself for music auditions later in the year as she is working towards the goal of entering a Bachelor of Music in 2018. Violin lessons, piano lessons, theory and aural lessons. Online uni music units and a music tertiary prep course. Beginning teaching, gaining experience with music workshops, performing, and enjoying her church music community. She's also hoping to squeeze in a little bit of adventure.
Let the adventure begin!
We have now officially packed up our books for 2016. What a very delicious feeling that is. Now we look forward to lazy Summer days and the beginning of a new year before we begin to organise kicking off another year of learning in February 2017. For the past two weeks we have been slowing down and wrapping up. Finishing off final projects, tests, and books, and reflecting on the year that was 2016 for our family. It's been another big year.
Our favourite book, almost unanimously, was Nanberry by Jackie French. After reading ancient epic poetry, and literature set in England, India, America, and Europe, reading the opening paragraph of Nanberry was like a homecoming for us. We knew the landscape, we knew the culture. We know that feeling of diving under water and all those things Nanberry felt in that moment.
Something that surprised us with joy was Francis Bacon's essays. We read, we pondered, we scratched our heads in confusion, we wrestled, we outlined, and we paraphrased. We knew this would be hard work, and it was. We thought it would be unpleasant hard work - but it wasn't. This was a deeply rewarding experience.
Something I will personally take from this year, and contemplate over this summer break, is the role of Memory and Habit in learning. As I experience tutoring not only my own teens, but other students as well, I am beginning to see a deeper connection.
Memory and Habit are so much more than the educational boxes we tend to package them in. I think they are also connected. Where I have been weak in cultivating Memory and Habit, learning does not really happen. At least not in the way that cultivates wisdom and virtue in heart, mind, and soul.
Each year brings its own lessons. And its own gifts.
It's that time of year again. Time to sift through our memories, projects, and workbooks to choose the samples that best represent our learning to date. In the area of mathematics our spine has been Math U See. This program gives a clear, no-frills, pure look at maths. Unfortunately the HEU doesn't appreciate the end of unit tests as our sole sample of learning in the area of maths.
After 14 years of putting together work sample portfolio's, I have used a variety of techniques to present our work. In the primary years (ageds 6-12), I sent in samples of completed Math U See lesson worksheets and also included another small project/picture. Sometimes it was written narrations about maths in history, a project based upon a story read ( eg. a tessellation pattern patchwork quilt design inspired by The Little Rag Coat), photo's of the children playing a maths game or creating something with maths manipulatives, or a nature notebook entry including mathematical concepts such as measurement, symmetry, size, shape and so on.
In the teen years I changed my approach to giving my teens a maths-related project to work on each year to complement our Math U See lessons and to demonstrate real-life, creative learning in the area of maths.
Our Kitchen Garden Project involved caring for their own plot, planning which vegies they would plant, measuring the plot and working out its perimetre, laying out the position of the plants, then drawing the plot to scale on graph paper. The second part of the project demonstrated using the measurements to work out the surface area of the plot (how much mulch is needed), the volume of soil in the plot, and keeping a record of the harvest. The harvest totals were tallied up and then placed into a graph to illustrate the crop yields from that growing season.
Our Home Business Project involved two parts. The first part was a look at personal finances, budgeting, making a money plan to suit your life goals etc. The second part was learning about home business opportunities, thinking about a viable home business, working out how you will market it, the laws that pertain to your area, what services/products you will provide, and putting together a 5 year start up plan.
For our project we used Down To Earth by Rhonda Hetzel and Faith-Based Family Finances for the personal finance segment and research on Home Business for the business segment of this project. MoneySmart is a financial guide website by ASIC that has a number of lesson unit ideas that might help. These units are based upon the Australian Curriculum for schools, but can be useful for homeschool teens as well.
Our Tessellation Art Project involved reading about Escher and other artists, considering their artwork, discussing the geometry principles in the art and then creating our own tessellation art. The first sample included a simple paper tessellation demonstrating basic principles. The second sample was a completed art project using a combination of tessellation techniques.
Here are some links to help you create your own Tessellation Art Project:
Tessellations Project: Intro to Geometry - a lesson plan
Creating Tessellations - a lesson plan
Tessellations - website with information, history, project ideas
M.C. Escher - about the life of Escher and his art
Geometry Project. This year we have been digging deeper into geometry exploring Vedic maths, atomic structure, the golden ratio, and platonic solids. I am in the process of pulling together our work samples for this unit, and am using the project ideas from the Fractal Foundation.
And to finish with, here is some fun exploring Fibonacci numbers.
What maths-related projects have your teens worked on?
I'm looking for ideas for next year.
Can you help?
Music plays a big part in our family culture and our life of learning. Enriched through exploring folksongs, hymns, psalms, musicals and popular songs from around the world and enlivened through the joy of playing music with friends and with our church community. Music strains float through our home when we are happy, thoughtful, angry, sad, bored, studious, cleaning, or gardening.
When they were little I taught my girls some beginner piano and music theory to start them on their journey. When they reached their teens, they all found different instruments to play. Keyboard, Violin, Drums, Bass Guitar, Guitar, Piano. It was a natural progression for them.
I offer piano and theory lessons to students and homeschoolers who wish to play piano on their own musical journeys. And, on this note, I'd like to let you know that I have a few places available on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. Contact me or visit my music lesson blog for more information and to book your place.
Little Mountain Music