Friday, October 31, 2014

Adding reverence to your day

Reverence isn't exactly at the top of the list of things we feel like we can bring to our young children. Usually, between all the fighting, whining, spilling, crying, boo-boos, falls, and everything, reverence is the farthest thing from our minds.

But it doesn't mean we don't crave it. And as I've learned recently, those loud, energetic munchkins appreciate it too. In small doses of course. I've made a few changes to our rhythm lately to increase opportunities for reverence and have been amazed at the results.

1. Wake up early. I'm not a morning person. I'd much rather stay up late, so this has been a sacrifice for me. But having my own, personal time of reverence in the morning makes me much more able to bring that calm spirit to my children during the day. You can not give water from a dry well.

2. Light a candle. I know some families who light a candle for morning circle. Others at mealtime. We just began last week lighting one at bedtime. We sing a short song, light the candle and then I sit outside the bedrooms to watch as the kids listen to an audio story and blow the candle out when they're ready.

I can't even begin to tell you how my children have taken to this new tradition. The very first night I lit the candle, Jane stood in front of it and sang improvised songs. Without me telling her the candle was of any spiritual significance (I just thought it would be calming) she just started pouring out her heart in beautiful songs of faith.

The candle is a tradition that won't be going away soon.

3. Mark routine moments of your day with a song or verse. We already sing working songs when we do morning chores, and circle songs. Now we have a night time songs. These are fabulous for transitions and they really work to calm my kids. But I decided to add a new song to a special time today. When Max joins me in the early morning and we watch the sunrise together. We've been doing this for a couple weeks now. Usually I just comment on the colors or thank Max for waking up the sun. But today I held him on my lap and sang, "Here Comes the Sun," just as those rays of light really came into view.

Not necessarily a song you might pair with the idea of reverence. And really, just a small thing. I didn't even know if Max cared that much that I tried to add that special moment with him. But tonight as he said his prayers he thanked Heavenly Father for "the wonderful sunrise."

Mamas. Life can get hectic and busy. But reverence, I'm learning, is found in the moments. With only a few small tweaks here and there, I hope
you can find some places for it in your life as well.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What We've Been Up To: Homeschool Edition

Oh my. We have been busy. Between getting into Pitch Wars and finishing final edits on my novel. And teaching a dissection class (did I mention being a chemist? EEK!) and looking for a house, and school and life in general. We've just been busy.

But for the most part, life at home keeps it's same, slow feel. Which I love.

I thought I'd just share what our days look like and give a brief view of our schooling. It's changed over the last month or so, since realizing I'd strayed from my own philosophy and vision to try and fit a more traditional structure.

These days I wake up early. Between 6 and 6:20 most days. It's rough, but it's worth it to get my day started right. I read scriptures, pray, check e-mail, read lesson plans.

And then Max joins me. He has to wake up the sun, you know.

Then it's breakfast, a walk, and morning work. Play outside, and at 10 we do circle time.

Circle time consists of seasonal songs and verses, a possible extra song or verse on a topic of my choosing, calendar time, and sign language time. All in all, less than ten minutes.

Then it's snack time and I tell the story for the week. After that we do our activity for the day.

Monday: paint
Tuesday: games
Wednesday: bake
Thursday: n/a
Friday: beeswax modeling

Twice a week I throw in a drawing lesson and a math lesson. Then we play until lunch. Read stories, and have quiet time. Quiet time is occasionally a movie. But it's usually handwork while listening to audio stories. (Jane is working on her alphabet quilt squares and Max is sanding wood blocks. He'll make his quilt next year.)  Sometimes ABCmouse comes next. Then play until dinner. Clean up. Bath. And bed by 7.

Before going to sleep, the kids get to listen to another audio story. These have been a huge hit! The kids love the stories, and because all stories boost literacy, not just the kind with a book in front of you, especially for children this age, it basically adds an additional 40 minutes of reading time to our day. As the children age we'll transition to audio books.

Thursdays are our busy days. I teach my dissection class and Jane goes to a leadership class and a science class. Friday is PE. Jane and Max play sports for an hour and then at the park with other homeschool families. Every other week is legos in the evening.

Here's the materials we use.

Curriculum for circle time and weekly story and recipes/activities: Waldorf Essentials.
Audio stories: Sparkle Stories.
Drawing Lessons: Draw. Write. Now.
Math: Right Start Math (manipulatives and hands on abacus math)

Life is good!