Don’t Let Comparison Kill You!

The Braids

An excerpt from ‘Moments On Mothering’ – Reflective inspiration from one mother to another

MARCH 18 NATURE WALK 116

I often must sacrifice my own needs and desires for the purpose of giving my children what they need and modelling for them the depths of Christ’s love – Sally Clarkson

I was recently scanning Instagram – I like to read the ‘bio’s’ which tend to reveal what you’d like the world to know about you, to draw you in and win you to their world. Leave it blank, quote Mother Teresa or form a mini Curriculum Vitae – it all speaks. I came across one mother somewhere across the globe who was adamant that she wasn’t going to post ‘pretty pictures of folded laundry’ and luscious lavender trailing across her deck; neither was she going to quote ‘dead people’ but she was going to reveal her #reallife. The thing about that is that I can just look up and see my piles of dishes, unmade beds and unbrushed heads. I can smell the reality of my occasional unkempt life every time someone opens the fridge (it’s no.2 on my ‘to do’ list: clean out fridge) but I use Instagram because I am.

I am who I am – I’m a beauty seeker and treasure keeper; whether that’s in the form of a photo, a quote, a pine cone or a pre-loved coffee cup; I need these layers of simplicity to form in the quiet of my soul. Laundry will always be with us but that sunset that swept you away, that look of elation on your 4 year old’s face when the first snow fell and the page of that book that rocked your world, yes – I’m all about that. I’m all about celebrating the small, the seemingly insignificant; a well-crafted web of words, written or read that forms like a wax seal upon the envelope of another ‘normal’ day.

Morning Time 009

We talk about ‘real’ and being authentic; we shout about our messy lives as if we have to prove to each other that these things exist – but mama I know. My day is filled with cleaning up spills, managing their (my) emotions, cleaning up dog mess from the yard, fighting off the temptation to scroll the day away on my phone, playing catch up and recovering from the repercussions of not finishing my ‘to do’ list last week! Yep, I’m there – I know it and I live it.

I am who I am – I’m a beauty seeker and treasure keeper; whether that’s in the form of a photo, a quote, a pine cone or a pre-loved coffee cup; I need these layers of simplicity to form in the quiet of my soul

The fact that I bare my soul through a book and a tea cup is a moment’s glimpse of treasure amongst a measure, of normal and beautiful…I’m not running away from being dutiful.

IMG_20151130_085408

My daughters and I have long hair; my eldest daughter likes to show me fancy braids on YouTube and we bumble along attempting to recreate them to some success. I was admiring (following, stalking – call it what you will) a displayer of braids from across the social media airwaves over a period of time and was quite abruptly stopped in my tracks and was shocked by what I discovered; her beautiful, long, blonde, thick, luscious, always looking fabulous locks were FAKE!! I trawled and discovered a video of her attaching her magnificent mane to a pretty average mop and naively sat there with my mouth open yelping “Nyah her hair is fake”, to which she obviously replied “yes Mum, how could you not know?”, to which I replied (mostly to Nyah but somewhat to said YouTuber) “but mine is real”. It’s sometimes messy and thrown up into a top knot, it’s sometimes blow dried and carefully curled, it generally gets in the way. But it’s real.

Mess is real and so is beauty. Unkempt and cluttered is real and yet so is neat and complete.

My favourite social scientist, awesome TED talker and shame researcher Brene Brown says “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it” and we run so much don’t we? We hear our songs in other musicians lyrics, we read our stories in other writers pages, we gaze upon art that came from our heart but we stay in the shadows, hiding under labels of ‘it’s all been done, said, painted or created before’ – but you, you have never been seen. It’s time to get our authentic selves out from under the duvet and step forward as it’s your time too.

We all have a story worthy of being told.

It’s time to stop being afraid of what might be and what could be and who you think you should be. Between the gaps of school runs, chopping onions and polishing taps there’s a dreamer. You’re pushing buggies and forming melodies and imagining words on a page or colours on a canvas or feet gently choreographed in movement to move people and lives and hearts. And if there’s time for this, there’s time for that.

That idea you can’t shake, that recipe you’re pining to bake is real and true. It’s you.

There’s so much of ‘us’ that we set aside for a time, especially in early motherhood, which is good and right because it’s all about sleep reserving and flying mushed food swerving. But stop looking longingly at that woman who’s creating and helping and doing and walking and see yourself as alive and able to do and be, at the right time; authentically and fully. Be you.

20151121_122841

So next time you’re scrolling and aching over a picture of perfectly folded floral napkins or a well kempt 3 year old wearing a floating dress and cute laced boots;  when you click onto Instagram tomorrow and she’s all over it again with her beach views and pastel hues – celebrate with her. That mama has carved some time out of her life just like yours to take a picture, savour a moment and share it with you.

Doesn’t that change our perspective? She’s not trying to portray perfection – she’s choosing a selection of important moments or creations that will mark her life and make her smile.

Screenshot_2015-10-27-08-18-40-1

Want to read more? Go over to Amazon and download your copy today; don’t miss the great $2.99 (£2.12) sale on now!

 

The Struggle Is Real – Sunday Morning Mothering!

worship-family

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! Psalm 95:6 

One from the 2015 archives; I was reminded of the importance of it again during worship this morning.

I’m calling out to every Sunday morning mother who has thought ‘why do I bother coming?’

Roughly calculated I reckon I’ve been in around 1,925 Sunday morning church meetings in my lifetime! Different experiences, all unique, imperfect and incredible. From living rooms in Coventry to lavish orthodox gatherings in Athenian buildings, I’ve met with my Father, been loved on, welcomed and caught another glimmer of the many faceted God through each unique pocket of people.

I believe in the gathering of God’s people; whether large or small, coffee shop or school hall, community is important. There’s something so real, so vibrant, so holy when we embrace the potential of God’s company of lovers lavishing praise, honour and affection upon Him, together.

This passion for the Church has grown in me, been nurtured and drawn out of me by those near and far. This ‘I.can.not.keep.silent.’ cry from my heart lingers in the air through each season of my life, and it looks different year to year. Forming, changing and emerging like the magnificent monarch leaving its cocoon.

And this passion wasn’t left in the delivery room when God brought my children into His world. The call and ‘spoken out’ adventure over my life didn’t expel like a final breath as Dave cut the umbilical cord separating each of our four children from their 9 month life source. If anything it became greater.

So I’m calling out to every Sunday morning mother who has thought ‘why do I bother coming?’

I need you to see the worth and the power in connection; whether finger tips touching or group hugging affection. Life source to power force we’re ultimately entwined; spirit binding, commonality finding, to you I am assigned.

I know that Sunday after Sunday is an epic tale of ‘get up and out’ and success is marked by your children wearing matching socks. You get home and realise you didn’t speak to one person, your three year old was hanging from your leg and getting tangled up in your stretchy wrap encasing the baby who has been feeding constantly since 10.30am. Missing naps and endless snacks mark your day of rest but mama I know you’re doing your best.

I know how ‘worship’ can be an endless cacophony of  ‘shhhh’s’ and rushes to the nearest convenient spot to place the potty because life doesn’t stop on a Sunday. As you lift your arm to ‘surrender all’ you’re hit by a crayon and the loose lidded sippy cup takes another fall.

And I also see your little one snuggle in close as you sing and sway, arms aching – heart swelling. I see you pull in your distracted eight year old and ruffle his hair as he mumbles the words from the screen. I see your tears as God reaches into the depths of your longing soul and continues to make you whole.

I need you to know that motherhood shapes a generation, it breathes life into our changing culture and form beyond this local congregation.This is not just a passing season and a quest to stay alive; this is our day and our moment to thrive.

I want to shout loud like a cheerleader declaring victory, ‘you’re doing amazing’. I need to tell you it’s all ok and we’re all walking this together; the stress, the mess and this seeming test; you’re not alone. I want to look into your face and tell you we need you. The Church needs your ache, your tired eyes, your listening heart, your warm smile, your incredible strength and tenacity, the Words He whispered to you at 3am, the song in the shower and what you’ve been bursting to share for the last hour.

So the next Sunday you spend sipping on cold tea and clearing up the polystyrene cup your five year old just shredded, look around at those who love and celebrate you…oh and make sure your coffee is fully leaded!

Truth Around The Table – More On The Morning Gathering

Morning Time 009

“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Yesterday on The Charlotte Mason Show I shared about the power of short lessons as well as the our morning home school routine otherwise known as ‘Boden’s assemble’, ‘morning basket’ or ‘morning time’!

Periscope is wonderful and crazy all at the same time (especially when there’s a 5-year-old climbing all over you and trying to drink your tea whilst you’re broadcasting) and as I jumped off I realised I hadn’t said some of the most poignant thoughts I had about this daily ritual!

So, go ahead and watch the (long) replay but here are a few thoughts about beautiful life around the table…

Despite our every day morning intentions to gather before anything else starts, life happens right? I’ve found the habit of table time is a great way to reset the day if all is not going to plan; if meltdowns are occurring, motivation is low, fights are breaking out – I stick the kettle on, make a pot of tea, grab a snack and gather my children around the scribbled on, much-loved dining room table and say/read/(shout)/pray something!

Our dining room table gatherings are a place of education, rejuvenation and reconciliation

Education

Great books, poetry, theology, ideas, conversation, debate and heart-felt prayer are all thrown around during our morning gathering. Give a wiggly child a notebook, a pot of pencils and a snack and you’ve got their attention…for at least 10 minutes (wink)!

Don’t underestimate meal conversations and narrations about their day – so much of our children’s learning comes from their experiences around the table with family, make it count!

Rejuvenation

I find the table a great place for anxious children to breathe, over achieving children to take a break (!) and an overwhelmed mama to draw the children close and take stock of their work that day. As well as feeding their tummies, we’re feeding their precious souls.

Bring JOY to the table mama and make sure it’s a place of refreshing for everyone, not stress!

Choose your battles –  your three year old will try broccoli eventually, just maybe not today, and that’s ok!

Reconciliation

Our children need to see repentance and forgiveness in action to really grasp that it really is more than muttering ‘sorry’ through gritted teeth! The gospel is raw and real and we ALL need a saviour; let’s show and tell our children this reality.

I find if I’ve had a breakdown with a child or kids have been fighting I can gather them around the table, speak peace into the situation and reconcile our family before we move on; there’s a table between us, possibly a warm drink and we can breathe, talk and create space to see what we did/said and fully forgive.

So the next time you’re sweeping the food littered floor for the third time that day or doing another pile of dishes; remember the chatter and satisfied tums, remember that smile between siblings, remember that amazing question and discussion that followed and take heart – your table is a place of transformation and truth, keep up the good work mama!

Your table is a place of transformation and truth

Poetry Teatime – Creating A Language Rich Environment

Poetry Tea 047

When you pair poetry with tea, your children create a connection between contemplation and rest – Julia Bogart

Yes, we are a tea drinking nation so this was a pretty natural move for me (smile); our home education has been established over pots of tea around our dining room table but there’s something quite special about an intentional ‘stop’ to pretty up the table, plate up treats, brew a combination of Earl grey and English breakfast tea in our large white pot and sit around piles of poetry books, ready and waiting to be thumbed, flicked and read aloud.

Poetry Tea 014

After setting the table and gathering the children I quickly phoned my Mum and invited her over; she’s one of the main reasons why I’m passionate about literature and nature study so she downed tools (in the kitchen, wink), grabbed a favourite poetry compilation book and we set another place as she drove the 10 minutes from her house to mine!

Poetry Tea 040

Profound thought is conveyed in language of very great simplicity and purity. – Charlotte Mason

As my children sipped tea and nibbled on cake they each in turn chose a poem to either read aloud or be read for them; the atmosphere was filled with Hardy, Dickinson, Cicely Mary Barker and Shakespeare to name a few. We lingered over the language and were wowed by the words passing over our dining room table, filling our hearts and quietly making connections we’ll draw from in days, weeks and years to come.

Poetry Tea 017

An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing. – Charlotte Mason

Just as it got to my turn there was another knock on the door and in came my friend Serena (who often pops by for coffee on a Thursday on her way home from work) who just happens to be the most creative, theatre and literary genius I know! She was delighted to push her way onto our pew, be poured a cup of tea and then be offered a pile of poetry books. She refused the books and said she’d recite a couple from memory (I know, right?!); she delighted us with Tennyson and Shakespeare all whilst having my 5-year-old climbed upon her knee!

We lingered over the language and were wowed by the words passing over our dining room table, filling our hearts and quietly making connections we’ll draw from in days, weeks and years to come.

Poetry Tea 043

We’ve wrapped up a wonderful half-term with this beautiful focussed gathering, which I’m sure will become a regular part of our homeschool rhythm.

To Create a language rich, literary environment in our homes, it often means pushing past the ‘formulaic study’ and making room for the flow and freedom of reading, doing life around piles of living books, celebrating the snuggling and gathering of children around a story and the delighting in the incredible gift of words.

Let them get at the books themselves, and do not let them be flooded with diluted talk from the lips of their teacher. The less the parents ‘talk-in’ and expound their rations of knowledge and thought to the children they are educating, the better for the children…Children must be allowed to ruminate, must be left alone with their own thoughts – Charlotte Mason

My Year Of Paying Attention!

New Year 2015 021

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work – Mary Oliver

Happy New Year to all those who spare a moment to click across to my space here on the big wide web; I appreciate your support, encouragement and friendship, both spoken loudly in real life or quietly whispered through your comments.

I pray that you’re able to embrace 2016 with hope and expectation; may it be a year of great opportunity, boundless strength and abundant joy!

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
Psalm 65:11

I generally face the new year with scribbled notes, quiet contemplation and a spider diagram of how I envision this coming year to look. This year is no exception; I’m busy goal setting and schedule planning to boost the beginning of what will be a great year. I’ve often approached a new year with a specific word or scripture that has delicately marked my path; but this year I’m naming my year, a bit like a banner perpetually hanging over the days and weeks to come. I find that intentionally naming your year, after prayer and process, is an incredible prophetic declaration covering the next 365 6 days of opportunity.

So, 2016 will be my year of ‘paying attention’ – I will be paying attention to my God-given:

  • Passions
  • People
  • Places
  • Pursuits

I’m still processing the details of these; but I’m more and more aware that focus isn’t just honing in on one small space, but it’s more often the art of taking away what shouldn’t be there. I want to pay attention to what God has placed in my path in this season; I want to be content to emerge strong out of that place and establish rich ground for each of these areas of my life, some of that might be practicing the discipline of saying ‘no’ or even moving things out of the room for a while ever.

When we pay attention to something it grows and flourishes; the small things become the big things and the insignificant become magnificent.

I want to focus my attention and set my affection on Jesus – He leads me into all truth and that’s what my heart desires most.

So, have you named your year? What’s the banner over 2016 for you?

 

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. – Mary Oliver

 

The Power Of Atmosphere

20151207_150732

“Without atmosphere a painting is nothing.”
― Rembrandt

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘more things are caught, not taught’, but we forget it so often in our parenting, educating and home making. Atmosphere is a powerful tool when building a home and raising children.

I wasn’t home educated, and actually I don’t have many stand-out memories from school, it just kind of happened (and it got me through), but I do remember my home life fondly. I particularly remember the spiritual atmosphere of our home.

I remember seasons of my parents being particularly intentional with their ‘teaching’ us about the bible and gathering the family for prayer or worship but what has marked my heart and mind was the atmosphere of our home and our life together. I loved waking up to worship music gently playing in the dining room as my Dad was making porridge and preparing for work. The sound of my mum singing around the house and thanking God for every bargain we came across or gap in a busy road will ever be in my mind and now my practice. There wasn’t a split second after the mention of illness or talk of losing an important school book around the house when they didn’t say ‘let’s pray about it’. If any of us happened to wake before our parents got out of bed and creep into their room, you could guarantee you’d be greeted by my joyful mother sat in bed, sipping tea and reading her bible. If my Dad’s study door was closed we knew he was having his ‘quiet time’; his devotion to daily connecting with God has impacted my life greatly.

My family had a very open home to hospitality; if we had room and someone needed one then we welcomed them in, and they became part of the family! My mum was and still is great at sharing whatever is in the cupboard, whether little or plenty, it will always stretch. She’s renowned for saying ‘even if it’s just jam and bread you can share it’. In a pinterest culture where we’re so blinded by perfect meals and pristine homes we need a bit more of this ‘jam and bread’ attitude in our lives!

Life wasn’t perfect but it was safe, our home wasn’t always quiet but it was peaceful.

In the midst of so much intentional teaching and training in my home educating days with my children I am daily challenged to keep check on what they may be gleaning from the patterns of my life and the rhythms of my day ( and the volume of my voice)!

We need more faces than phones, more music than mayhem, more prayer than panic and when we’re drowning under the daily dire – we need to be anchored in devotion.

Our hearts are the catalyst for the rhythm of our homes; what’s in there will spill out into our work, our speech and our activity.

Maybe it’s time to examine our hearts?

Christmas is a perfect time to create beauty, pace and an atmosphere that will be remembered – why not start today, make peace and form memories than some day your children may blog about (wink).

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life – Charlotte Mason

A Reflection On Rest

IMG_20151020_100116 (1)

“Rest and be thankful.”
― William Wordsworth

I am totally your classic ‘always something to do’ gal; I would have been your nightmare manager at McDonald’s (never actually worked there…I was a Pizza Hut waitress through my university days though) singing gleefully on an early shift ‘if you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean’ and all that – I’m a little exhausted just thinking about it! My University friend, Claire, would despair at me for never being able to relax and watch a film unless I was doing something else; writing a letter, writing in a journal, making my life goals etc.

A few weeks ago my son, Micah said “Mum, please come and sit with me and watch a film…and DON’T bring your book”. I laughed (cried a little inside) and met his request; we snuggled under a big Mexican blanket (which of course invites other little ones…and the dog) and melted into a film together. After a while Dave appeared at the door after being out, with a look of shock and awe on his face and said “wow, Mum is watching a film with you”!

Okay, okay – it’s not quite my jam to sit and watch any old film,  I really don’t like T.V and I am very intentional with my time – but I have had to learn to add into the baseline (and schedule) of my life a rhythm of rest.

And before you start to feel really sorry for my kids and plan to whip them off to the movies without me; I am with them 24/7 people! We sit with piles of books, we linger over tea and conversation at the table, we walk together and I hold them, kiss their little Boden faces and tell them emphatically that I love them many times a day!

BUT, I am learning to rest on their terms at times. We have a such a mulch of personalities and love languages in our home (moi: INFJ, Acts of service and time come out pretty high on my love tank needs) and as much as I need to be energised and fueled for life, so do my family – with me in the mix!

A few times a week I like to bring them over to my side (insert evil laugh); twice this weekend I planted myself sprawled full length on the sofa with Big Magic in hand and shouted ‘it’s quiet (book) time’! My 4-year-old grabbed a couple of Donaldson classics and found a nook between my body and the sofa we were on and wedged herself in; the dog snuggled on my feet, my husband read the newspaper, my (almost) teen flicked through Spotify on my Kindle Fire to plan her birthday playlist and while Joel napped upstairs Micah adventured through his favourite dinosaur book. I could hear a gentle hum of a child, the flicking of pages, the deep inhale and exhale of a black Bassadore heavy on my feet.

The left-overs remained on the table for a little longer, the dishes were piled up in the kitchen and who knows if anyone had clean underwear for tomorrow; that moment, right there is where I was fully present.

Over the top of Micah’s hum and Sienna’s quiet recitation of ‘The Gruffalo’, I looked up at my husband and said “this is a thousand times better than watching T.V”.

And it was.

5 Ways Charlotte Mason Has Impacted My Life #themasoneffect

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

We should always have something worthwhile to think about, that we may not let our minds dwell upon unworthy matters – Charlotte Mason

My interest in the life and works of Charlotte Mason stems from early on in my research before embarking on actually teaching our children at home.

I often still feel in the early stages of discovery but have now been implementing her methods in our homeschooling days for 8 years. My interest isn’t purely to aid my ‘teaching’, I am fascinated by a woman who influenced the face of education in a time where children were ‘seen and not heard’, were physically punished for poor spelling and did not have the freedom to express their informed opinions or feelings about a particular text or subject. Charlotte’s work and life was ‘for the children’s sake’; she believed and fought for the plain fact that ‘children are born persons’ and wanted to give them all an opportunity to create a life long love for learning,  enjoy good ‘living’ books and an appreciation of God’s creation.

In 2012 I took a bit of a pilgrimage up to the Lake District (Ambleside) to visit her old stomping ground (she was actually nearly fifty when she moved to Ambleside, in 1891 and formed the House of Education, a training school for governesses and others working with young children) and her gravestone; I was saddened to see the buildings unloved and more or less abandoned over the years but glad they remained standing to tell some of the tale of her life and work. Her incredible legacy has and continues to impact so many of us across the globe.

college
‘Scale How’ – Charlotte Mason’s ‘House of Education’ from 1894

My learning about her life and implementing her educational methods in my home have made a huge impact on many area’s of my life; here are 5 for starters!

Reignited my love of books

Let their books be living books, the best that can be found in liberal supply and variety – Charlotte Mason

I’ve always been a reader, albeit a bit of a lazy one, but I’ve always loved and thrived on self-education (I wasn’t home educated). Over the past few years my love of reading, learning and getting lost in real, ‘living’ books has been rekindled and has enriched my life incredibly. I’m a true believer in modeling for our children what we’re labouring to implement in their lives; if you want readers, be a reader!

sign
The plaque on the front of Scale How

Habits are worth the work

“Let children alone… the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions – a running fire of Do and Don’t ; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way and grow to fruitful purpose.”
― Charlotte M. Mason

Don’t skip this bit! I know habit-forming can be laborious, tedious and time-consuming but it is SO worth it. It’s incredible how doing the same thing every day, learning a simple skill (i.e. attention) can massively impact your family life and your personal life.

beehive
A building known as ‘the beehive’ used for Miss Mason’s students to practice teaching in!

Every day nature study – brought it to life

Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life – Charlotte Mason

My childhood was full of nature walks and adventures in the Yorkshire countryside; my foraging mother would collect treasures, smell trees, point out flowers and admire God’s beauty like no one I’ve ever seen before. I’m so thankful for that heritage but it didn’t come to life in me until I started home educating my children and brought nature study into our regular rhythm. I have now become my mother (smile), only ten times ‘worse’ – and I love it!

I’ve learnt to trust the learning ability of a child

“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.”
― Charlotte M. Mason

This is a whole blog post in itself (I will do it), I never fully realised the full learning potential of a child if you just give them room to grow, discover, observe and breathe in this big beautiful world that we live in. With each child I have been ‘braver’ to not have every moment scheduled and schooled, to allow plenty of room and trust the ways of a child and Charlotte’s method. I’ve had incredible ‘results’ from my brave ways (wink) and thriving children who I thank God for everyday!

door
The front door of Scale How – the beginnings of a great adventure for many young wannabe educators

Mother culture – exploring my own learning and creativity

“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!”
― Charlotte M. Mason

With the combination of Charlotte Mason, Brene Brown and now Elizabeth Gilbert, I’m finally loving my creative self, believing in her and leaning into her. So much of motherhood is time given over to those in our households; loving, nurturing, feeding, nursing and guiding but I’ve learnt to realise that I am at my best from a place of rest! I need to renergise, read, write, walk, gaze at beauty and fill my soul in order for me to pour into the people in my life.

So mama’s – let’s go out to play!

How has the life and works of Charlotte Mason impacted your life?

The Practice Of ‘Morning Time’

IMG_20151002_090344

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live

– Bertrand Russell

After 8 years of educating my children I can wholly confirm that the atmosphere and rhythms of our home are critical for the flow, discipline and peace in our day. My recent personal motto is ‘I’m at my best from a place of rest’, if this works for me, it must also work for my children and the atmosphere they are learning in.

I’m at my best from a place of rest

We all know that how we start our day is pretty influential to how it unfolds; whether you’re a ‘morning person’ or not, I’m afraid pleased to tell you that you mama are the culture creator and pace setter in your home!

Our morning routine was established early in our homeschooling life, I’ve only recently discovered that it’s a ‘thing’; not purely taken from a Charlotte Mason method or paradigm but it definitely fits with her ‘short lesson’ philosophy. I wanted to gather my children, capture their hearts at the beginning of the day, centre ourselves on Jesus and bring clear communication before the hustle and bustle of the day began. I can’t speak for a movement or whether this stems from the original PNEU timetables but I can speak for the impact of a morning gathering  upon our family and our home educating.

IMG_20150930_094723

“The habits of the child are, as it were, so many little hammers beating out by slow degrees the character of a man.”

– Charlotte Mason

What we do

Monday to Friday everyone must be up, dressed and beds made by 8.30am (often slips to 9am by Friday #keepitreal ); we immediately gather around the table after making smoothies/juices, eggs or toast and of course a pot of tea (and a complete mess of the kitchen!).

So here’s my morning tick list (it’s in my head, and also a habit):

  • Read the bible – we’re working through the Old Testament so after years of purely reading from an NIV or NLT I decided to try the Catherine F Vos’s ‘The Child’s Story Bible’, it came highly recommended by other CM educators and we’re loving it!
  • Scripture memorisation – we learn one a week and kind of use a similar system to the Simply Charlotte Mason ‘scripture memory system‘, I pick out a bunch of verses that I’d like us to learn and then we copy/type, print and stick them to an index card. I write one a week on the blackboard in our dining room and we recite it every morning until we all know it without looking.
  • Catechism – I’ve downloaded the app for the ‘New City Catechism‘ onto my phone and we’re going through the version for children. We just do one a week, recite the relevant one each day and recap on a Monday morning.
  • Briefing – for some of my children it’s really important that they know the details of what’s going on at each moment of the day, even down to mine and my husband’s plans for the evening, so I brief them every day on the next 24 hours. The clearer our expectations and communication is with our children the less their need for insecurity in the home and frustration is (for the most part!). We go through their work for the day (practical and academic) as well as details of any outings, meetings or additional work I need to do.
  • News/appreciation/thanks – especially on a Friday I like to encourage them on great things I’ve observed in their work and character throughout the week, I love seeing their huge smiles and it’s a great way to teach gratitude and to show them how important encouragement is.
  • Pray – everyone prays, we do it in age order and I use this time to teach my children how to pray, connect with God and each other, how to stay focussed and grow in their worship and expression. We always start with thanksgiving and I bring instruction/ideas of things we can be praying for as well as giving them an opportunity to share what’s on their heart.

The ‘items’ listed above always happen, the following list are things that happen occasionally, once or twice a week maybe depending on how close to 8.30am we started (smile!)

  • Worship –  YouTube is great for this; I just play a familiar worship song or teach them a new one over a few days. We sing along!
  • Poetry – I mostly read our poetry over lunch time and the children use poetry for their copy work every day but if we’ve hit a new season/month or we’ve observed something amazing in nature before breakfast (sunrise, Coal tit in the yard, spider on the window etc.) I’ll find a relevant poem to read and inspire.
  • Bible facts – I try to regularly teach my children basic information (often through song) about the bible; i.e. books of the bible, 10 commandments, names of disciples etc.

We generally don’t take any longer than an hour over our morning gathering and our time is followed by chores before everyone gets their heads down to study, but that’s all for another blog post!

So I’d love to hear from you – how does your morning gathering look? How has it impacted your learning atmosphere?

 

Why Home Educating Is Actually All About Me – Part 1

11th Aug 2015 013

It’s that familiar time of year again; the hedgerow berries are turning from red to black, the swallows are silent as they retreat back to Africa and my body and soul are eager to find that familiar, comforting rhythm of routine. I can smell Autumn in the air through the last attempts of a British summer and I’m starting to put my youngest two children to bed in the calming dusk light again. As much as I’m clinging onto the summer nights and late mornings I’m also ready to begin our happy habits of pencils and poetry around pots of tea.

11th Aug 2015 010

I’m not much of a curriculum hunter; in fact I’ve never bought curriculum per se in our 8 years of home educating but I do plan; I shop for second-hand living books and draw up a schedule of learning for each child (whether we stick to it or not is another thing!). I feel accomplished and satisfied with my perpetual planning and look ahead to that all important first September morning when breakfast is served with a smile, classic FM is gently playing in the living room and the books for the day are piled high on the table.

12th Aug 2015 043

But as we all know from the trenches of this parenting journey the ‘perfectly’ planned day can turn with an unexpected fever, a broken night’s sleep, a pre-teen clash of agenda’s or you catch the curve of a hormonal roller coaster; yep – we’ve all been there and I’m sure we’ll be there again!

12th Aug 2015 008

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom – Henry Ward Beecher

As Mr. Beecher puts it so beautifully; actually, when it comes down it to it, it’s not the seamlessly sharpened pencils or the record-breaking research into the most up to date learning tools that win our children’s  attention – it’s our hearts, our attitudes and our very present lives that hold theirs.

You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5, The Bible

It’s that unshakeable rock that we build our lives and convictions upon that enables us to press that all important ‘reset’ button and see greatness in every broken and imperfect day. His story becomes our story and our story becomes theirs – if we chose to embrace Jesus, then we’re hemmed in on every side.

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life – Charlotte Mason

In our hurry to fill our Ikea cupboards with art supplies and realms of paper, in our eagerness to line our shelves with books and pinterest printables, have we forgotten to prepare our hearts? Charlotte Mason challenges us as parents to evaluate the ideas that rule our lives and whether we like it or not, those ideas play a big role in what our children learn from us

12th Aug 2015 046

For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light – Matthew 11:30, The Bible

The atmosphere we create in our homes and learning environments, the discipline and daily rhythm of our lives and the constant devotional beat beneath our feet is the foundation of why and how our children learn at home. If my children delve into the depths of my heart to learn, love and live then that is what I must cultivate first.

What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45, The Bible

In part 2 I’ll be sharing my 3 top tips for cultivating the heart so watch this space homeschooling mama…