Friday, April 29, 2016

Finding Focus in the Online Frenzy

First gaze on a first book

Help! I'm getting stuck in the homeschool interwebs! In an online world of slick sites and shiny blogs, everyone's got a printable, an ebook, a newsletter, a podcast, a planner, or a curriculum that will be the one simple thing you need to either organize or revolutionize your homeschool experience! The homeschool universe is ever expanding, and there are enough ideas out there to keep you learning to infinity - and beyond!

The trouble is, I don't have till infinity. I have a few precious years with my children, and only so many hours in the day. There are many homeschoolers out there doing many wonderful things, and I have found inspiration and ideas from more than a few. But I find it all too easy to become dizzy and distracted by the plethora of options, which leads to comparison and second guessing at best, and panic at worst.

When I start to feel overwhelmed, I find it helpful to log off, sit back, and think about the core ideas behind our family's commitment to home education. I'm a person who needs to constantly reorient myself to the big picture, which focuses me and energizes me to then think about the details.

I remind myself of our underlying philosophy of education (thanks Charlotte Mason):

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. 

I remind myself of basic governing principles for our family life (thanks Auntie Leila):

Order and wonder. 

I remind myself of our own family's goals:

To raise children whose affections are ordered toward truth, goodness and beauty, who are growing in the wisdom and skills needed to follow Christ along the unique path he is leading them in life.

I remind myself of our chosen method of getting there:

Real Life
Living Books

When I consider these ideas, I can already feel my focus returning. (Maybe I'll expand on these in another post. For now, I'm putting them out here purely for my own benefit.) I can sift through all that good information out there and select the things that best fit our own approach to education.

Like I said, I'm energized by philosophy and big ideas. So for me, the websites I find most helpful are those that feed this area. I need my own mind and spirit fortified by truth, goodness, and beauty, and then I can handle how that gets worked out in everyday life. I get bogged down in too many details. For me, the details have to flow out of the big picture.


Having said all that, here are the websites that I'm personally finding helpful as we begin this home education adventure:

Like Mother, Like Daughter - Common sense education, Charlotte Mason style (Auntie Leila introduced me to Charlotte Mason, and I have been a faithful follower of her blog since my oldest was a baby)

The Read-Aloud Revival - Cultivating a family culture around books; fun and inspiring literary podcast, with book lists and other resources

Schole Sisters - A podcast for the classically inclined, big picture meets practical application (I also enjoy the blogs of the podcast hosts)

Ambleside Online - Free Charlotte Mason curriculum and living book lists, with links to Charlotte
Mason's works online

The Circe Institute - Classical education resources, blogs and podcasts

Education is a Life - Charlotte Mason the Canadian way, written by a friend and fellow homeschooler on the island

They Call Me Blessed - A blog by another friend showing the many sides of home education


Sunday, April 3, 2016

I Speak Joy: A Mother's Blessing

I am delighted to announce the arrival of our daughter, Ivy Joy, born on Good Friday! 

What follows is a blessing I scribbled out on the back of a piece of paper one night a few weeks before she was born. We didn't know whether we were having a boy or a girl, but I had an inkling that I carried a girl. And I had more than an inkling that this baby was somehow connected to all I have been discovering about joy. Her very name is part of my blessing to her, and God's blessing to me. "Ivy" stands for faithfulness, and "Joy," well, it speaks for itself! 

My darling,

I speak joy over your coming. 
Joy as you grow, and bloom to bursting,
Joy as you waken to life in the wide world,
Joy as you are received into the arms of your family,
And joy as our Father laughs to behold His reflection in your eyes. 

I speak joy over our meeting.
Joy as we weave our bonds of love,
Joy as we learn each other’s names,
Joy through the sleepless nights,
And joy as we count each sunrise together.

I speak joy over your future.
The wonder-filled joy of discovery,
The riotous joy of whole hearted freedom,
The steadfast joy of a deep-held faithfulness,
And the fiercely won joy of the sorrowful night.

I speak joy over you.
Unspeakable and full of glory,
Fruit of the presence of God,
Fire bright and blazing beauty,
The strength of a hundred hind’s feet on the heights.

I speak joy as my mother’s blessing,
A gift of words and of heart’s desire,
A beseeching prayer for divine bestowal,
A promise kindled by heaven’s purpose,
And my song of praise overflowing. 

{This post was originally published on my main writing blog, The Red Letters Blog. For more about Ivy, parenting, prayer, joy and God, click on over!}

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