Lots of Miscellaneous Stuff

02 Nov

It’s been a pretty relaxed week. Well, all of our weeks are relaxed, but this one was even more so.

We did lessons 16-20 in 100 Easy Lessons. Stiggy played with the pattern blocks. Thaaaaaat’s about it, really.

I had a dentist appointment on Monday and I was literally in and out in 5 minutes. It was the least thorough dental exam I’ve ever had. The dentist asked me if I was having any pain, looked in my mouth, and that was it. No poking or prodding, no x-rays, nothing. Not that I enjoy going to the dentist, but if I’ve got a cavity, I want to know about it. I could have done what he did.

On Tuesday we went to Lynn’s house. After riding the train to a town I’ve never been to, and boarding a bus being driven by a driver who was not familiar with his route and could not tell me if the destination to which I was heading was on his route (it was, and it was on a main road, the name of which he claimed never to have heard of, lol), I arrived. Lynn was waiting for me, in the freezing cold. With no coat. There I was, with 3 layers on (one of which was a wool sweater), plus a coat, hijab and wool hat, and gloves, and I was freezing…freeeeeeezing. Wow, they’ve got such a great garden (back yard); it really makes me want to get out and transform our tip, I mean garden, into something usable. Stiggy had a great time playing with Lynn’s two girls. And I got to snoop through Lynn’s great books. We had a tea party and ate the pumpkin cakes they made. Mmmmm!

I can’t remember Wednesday.

My husband decided to take Thursday and Friday off. We took Stiggy to Regis for a haircut. They wanted £25 for a child’s haircut. £25. I don’t even pay that for my own hairs to be cut. £25. Get lost. So we took him to The Hair Shop and it was £8.95. Still not cheap, but they know how to do a proper scissor-cut in there and they were lovely. Stiggy’s got a lovely grunge hair cut.

I’ve rearranged the books in my living room to make more space. I’ve got our poetry books on display so that Stiggy can choose one each day for me to read from, while he has his morning snack.

I’m trying to work in some sort of narration at some point during the day. One day I made a new rule regarding our cat and I asked him to repeat it back to me. (He sometimes gets a bit too lively when playing with Furry Murray.) Or I’ll ask him what we did today, or what he saw on his nature walk.

I want to start doing yoga with Stiggy. I have this yoga DVD. It’s great; I’m hoping we’ll use it 3 times a week.

We’re currently reading Charlotte’s Web. I don’t think he’s enjoying this as much as the Roald Dahl books. I read picture books to him while he eats breakfast, poetry during his snack, picture books either before or after his nap, and from a chapter book before bed. We usually get in 90-120 minutes of read-alouds a day.

I’ve been reading Susan Striker’s book Young at Art. This is a fantastic book. Ms. Striker is very passionate about teaching art to children and she has strong views about what not to do with children. She’s also created the Anit-Colouring Book series. There are a lot of things you’re not supposed to do with children which are very surprising. Colouring books, mazes, molds, drawing things for children: all of these things are bad. Oh yeah, and crappy crafts. I agree with about 99% of what she says; it actually confirms what I already believed. I don’t, however, think carving a jack o’lantern is going to cause a child problems. So, art is now more about exploring different mediums without interference, which is the direction we were going anyway. Stiggy loves this. He’s been collaging and painting.

I finished reading Catherine Levison’s More Charlotte Mason Education. This was a nice book, but a few things struck me as odd. For instance, when she discusses grammar, she claims it’s the most forgettable subject because it’s not used in everyday speaking and writing. Really? I certainly use grammar every day. I’m definitely using it now as I write. I try to be grammatically correct whenever I can. Even if we’re not thinking about grammar, we’re certainly using it, rightly or wrongly. Also, the little poem she wrote and the joke about the church pedophile. Now, I’ve got a slightly wicked sense of humour, but even I didn’t find that funny.

I’m hoping to begin reading the Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Series online. I know it will be slow going, but I think I will gain more from it than from reading someone else’s take on Charlotte Mason’s methods (having said this, I’ve still ordered the book written by Karen Andreola, just to get me started). I’m definitely going to implement Miss Mason’s methods at home, and have started to already. The only concerns I have so far are with finding secular living science books (which has recently been sorted; a new group has been created.) My other concern is that with all these wonderfully engaging living books, that Stiggy won’t know what to do when faced with a textbook or less engaging book, which is likely to happen at university. I’m also worried he won’t be able to do research. So, I’ll have to weave all that in. I also don’t feel the Charlotte Mason method provides enough grammar work (proven, in part, with Mrs. Levison’s assumption). So, I’ll be using English for the Thoughtful Child, Primary Language Lessons, and Simply Grammar for the elemetary years.

Stiggy still has a nap, although I notice some days he doesn’t sleep. I still want him to have some quiet time every day. So I’m going to incorporate ‘DIRT’ (Daily Individual Reading Time) or ‘SQUIRT’ (Sustained Quiet Uninterrupted Reading Time) for all of us, for about 10-15 minutes a day. Since he can’t read independently yet, he can sit and look at a book or magazine while listening to an audiobook. I got this idea from The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. This is a fantastic book. The first half discusses the importance of reading aloud to children of all ages (very informative and inspirational) and gives some great ideas. The second half is a treasury of read-aloud titles.

I plan to add a little memorisation work, too. I think I’ll start with finger plays and action rhymes using this book. Shouldn’t be too taxing for my Stiggy who loves these. 🙂

I also had a visit from the education officer a few weeks ago. No, I’m not in trouble. It’s standard procedure here. She gave me a little card to prove that we home educate and told me about a few of the resources available. Apparently, we can borrow books from schools, which may be useful at some point. There’s also a resource centre from which we can borrow things like educational software. During the visit, Stiggy was regaling her with his knowledge of cars. He took her through an entire Top Gear magazine and named every car by make. Then he showed her all of his Hot Wheels. Then he got her to play Memory with him. Then he got the dominoes out. Then he got the felt set out. Then he got his how-to-draw-bugs book out (A no-no book according to Susan Striker, but we’re keeping this one). I made her a cup of tea and tried to keep the cat off her lap, while trying to shoot Stiggy eye signals that said ‘ok, that’s enough now.’


4 responses to “Lots of Miscellaneous Stuff

  1. michelle

    November 4, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Sounds like you are doing a great job. I love, love, love the Karen Andreola book. When I first heard about Charlotte Mason and even after reading the Catherine Levinson books I was not really sold on CM, but after reading Karen’s book, I felt like I had found my philosophy. I love the idea of an atmosphere of education and of providing chilren with ideas.

  2. Anonymous

    November 5, 2008 at 2:13 pm


    It sounds as though you’re doing really well with Stiggy. I love that your authorities visit with the intent of actually helping you!

    Some places here in Canada this is also the case, but unfortunately we Quebecers are not so lucky. Thank you for sharing your experience; it helps us keep up some hope for the future 🙂

    Ruby in Montreal

  3. Kim

    November 19, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Karen Andreola’s is my favorite book–it really got me started with a Charlotte Mason education.

    Two comments: Grammar is the study of how we write, so you’re not actually using grammar when you write. Does that make sense? The writing came first, then people studied it and came up with “grammar.” By reading, speaking, writing, copywork, etc., we learn grammar, and it is quite forgettable! We don’t need to know what a noun is to use it, nor what a prepositional phrase is to include one in our writing.

    Second: My son is now 14 and has a Bob Jones textbook for the first time. He is not having trouble with it, even though it’s the first textbook he’s ever had.

    I would wait until high school to teach research papers and “reports.” They will only need them in preparation for college, so no sense in spending precious elementary years on such a wasteful activity (same with grammar–it’s only usefulness is to pass the entrance exams).

  4. Michelle

    November 20, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I don’t agree about grammar. 🙂 Living in England, I see the lack of grammar training at work. I see professional correspondence, signs, and even books here with incorrect grammar, use of apostrophe, (and spelling). Shocking considering England’s tradition with the English language and literature, but grammar and writing simply are not taught vigorously here.

    And I do use grammar, and think about grammar when I’m writing. Sometimes I have to ask myself what the subject of the sentence is in order to use the correct form of a verb. Without knowing grammar rules, I wouldn’t know which there, their, or they’re to use, etc.

    No, we don’t need to know what a prep. phrase is to use it, but not knowing what one is is often why people use them incorrectly and end their phrase with the preposition. 🙂

    Yes, I’m a bit of a grammar snob! 😀 (even though mine is less than perfect) I just see it as another thing that enhances learning…and definitely enhances writing, makes one more well-spoken, and is useful in the job market. We don’t need to learn about, say, art in order to live, but it enhances our lives and our learning. And I just get sick of seeing signs like: “sale on bed’s” or hearing people say “irregardless.”

    Am happy to hear your son is not struggling with textbooks, that is good to hear.

    Thanks for the comment, always happy to hear another viewpoint! 🙂


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