Friday, 26 February 2010

Memorizing Scripture


2 Timothy 3:15 says
'...that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work'.

Obviously I want Cosmo to grow up adequate and equipped for every good work, but the truth is, I have never memorized scripture.
I grew up in a fairly traditional catholic church, and memorized tons of prayers and responses, some even in Latin, but no-one ever taught me the value of memorising scripture.

Psalm 12:6 says
'The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.'

How I wish someone had taken the time to explain to me the importance of these precious words!
I really want to try to memorise scripture, and encourage Cosmo to do so as well. At two, there are not many things memorised in his little head, but if he can learn to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, then I'm sure he can learn scripture too.
A brief search through the bible tells us that God definitely values the memorisation of scripture:

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Joshua 1:7-8

Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Col 3:16

So, our curriculum will now involve us reciting and learning scripture, and singing songs to the Lord on a regular basis.
Hopefully it will educate me as much as Cosmo!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010



I think we need to come up with some sort of curriculum.
As much as I love the freedom of making my own decision each morning about what we are going to learn today, it probably doesn't make for a very well-rounded or thorough education.
Yesterday I decided to teach Cosmo about different types of dinosaurs. It was great. He can now read the words 'Stegosaurus', 'Tyrannosaurus Rex', 'Triceratops', 'Pterodactyl' and 'Brachiosaurus'. He can also recognise each of these dinosaurs and make relevant dinosaur noises (screeching for the Pterodactyl is a lot of fun, as is roaring like a T-rex).
The thing is, I can see Cosmo growing up knowing about all the things I love (biblical history, dinosaurs, human biology - yes, I know I'm a geek) and actually knowing nothing about the regular every day stuff you are supposed to learn.
So I've been googling around and I've found which has a great free curriculum for various age groups. The toddler one is a bit too simplistic, but I think the 2-4year old curriculum is going to be great fun.
I particularly like the idea of having a learning poster and theme for the week that Cosmo can add his work to and we can file it to look back on. Kind of like building his own 'tree of knowledge' folders (anybody remember them?)

Monday, 22 February 2010

Plan the work, work the plan

I hear being a homeschooling mommy requires lots of organisation and keeping on top of things. That is my biggest concern/fear of the whole process.
I'm not naturally a very organised person, but I do find to-do lists incredibly helpful. I find that if I spend all morning doing household chores, it still looks like I have achieved nothing. However, if I spend 10-15 minutes writing out a to-do list before I start, everything magically seems to get done a lot faster than I imagined it would, so that cup of tea and a sit down before lunch doesn't seem so slatternly.
It could, of course, be purely in my mind. Checking off each little box makes me feel like I've achieved something and I can look back at my list and say 'yes, I have done something today'. Yet somehow there seems to be some magic in the to-do list that makes me so much more productive.
There are loads of ways to do project management (I should know, it was one of my modules at university!) but I'm a sucker for a gadget.
I'm sure it's completely unreasonable as a housewife to even own an iPhone, let alone get all your emails sent to it as though you are some kind of executive, but my husband indulges me because... ...well because he is nice. So I recently downloaded 'Things' from the app store. I think it's amazing!
Okay, so my two year old's curriculum doesn't require too much planning/marking right now, but it will, and having a system in place will surely give me a head start on it.
To be honest I'm finding it incredibly helpful just to get my plans in order for the big relocation in june. Keeping track of mortgage details, houses, estate agents, solicitors and removal quotes is so much easier with this little tool, it makes me wonder how my mother managed without it.
That's a silly question of course, because my mother didn't even use a computer last time she moved house. We have been helping her switch her dining room and office around, discovering scraps of paper from 15 years ago with 'important' phone numbers and information regarding everything and anything. My mother has been a housewife for years, and yet she has two giant filing cabinets (the kind you see in doctors office) full of paperwork - that's two more than my dad (CEO of a large insurance firm) has. He has a drawer in a desk.
So thank God for my iPhone, it saves us from needing to buy a house with an extra bedroom to store all my paperwork. The way I see it, that's worth about £50,000, so my gadget is saving us an inordinate amount of money. That's my line and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The benefits of classical music??


Will playing classical music to Cosmo really affect his intelligence?
I'm not sure where this rumour comes from, but it seems to be fairly prevalent amongst toy manufacturers (baby einstein et al) and is often applauded as one of their (only) unique selling points. But where is the evidence that any of this will help Cosmo in the long run?
I can see that playing gentle background music whilst we play encourages a peaceful atmosphere, possibly allowing for slightly less frustration when those blasted puzzle pieces won't quite slot together in his desperate clutches, but really, is it any more than that?
Classical music is also valuable in that whilst we are listening to it, we are less likely to have the TV on, or the radio, filling his little mind with advertising and negative images/messages. It also covers such a broad genre of music that there is something for all occasions; a little Brahms or Chopin before bed is incredibly calming whilst Debussy's cakewalk is fun and playful. Would anyone be willing to risk playing some Wagner during a temper tantrum?
We have also taken to belting out some good old fashioned gospel tunes recently. Cosmo loves the repetitive words and recurrent tunes. He can even join in by the end of each verse.
So, if anyone genuinely knows any reason why classical music would improve my children's intelligence then please, do share. I wouldn't want to be stunting my sons intellectual abilities with Andrae Crouche ;)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Breakfast, starfall and the numberjacks

YBCR comes with a book to teach you child about shapes, that when we first looked at I nearly cried laughing. It seemed completely ridiculous to expect my baby to recognize 'special quadrilaterals' and 'irregular polygons', let alone the difference between a rhombus and a trapezoid.

We decided that an easier way to teach shapes would be to cut his toast into simple shapes (square, triangle, rectangle) and explain it to him that way.

How wrong was I.

Within a week Cosmo was asking me if his toast could be a hexagon or an oval. In fact he even knew that my 'diamond' shape offering was a trapezoid. Turns out kids are much more capable than I have previously given them credit for.

This was proven to me again when we introduced the 'starfall' website to our playtime ( Cosmo very quickly picked up not only the names of the letters and whether they were 'big' letters or 'small' letters, as well as the sound they make. Starfall is a fun interactive website that I can't recommend highly enough if you haven't tried it. My neices love it too.

The numberjacks is also a fun and educational program. We don't let Cosmo watch much TV, but he loves the numberjacks. The Numberjacks
It can be watched free on the cbeebies website. It explains things in such a simple and fun way. After watching one episode Cosmo understood simple fractions (halves, thirds and quarters) and asks for his toast to be cut in this way. Amazing.

By the way, if you want to go down the toast cutting route, scissors are the way forward. There is no way you can accurately cut shapes with a knife, no matter how sharp it is. Believe me I've tried. Cosmo's look of disgust at the mangled toast was really enough to make me get the scissors out next time.

Monday, 8 February 2010

From the beginning...

I initially started teaching Cosmo to read using the 'Your Baby Can Read' program that Dr Titzer produces (YBCR). In actual fact we bought it because as a first time mom I had no idea how to interact with my own child. I had been convinced it would be so natural and so intuitive, but when dealing with a post natal illness, this was just not the case.

We used the program fairly loosely, certainly not as often as they recommended, but by about 10 months old he was recognizing words and able to do relevant actions. Once he could speak his vocabulary quickly broadened and it became apparent that he could read many of the flash cards we had been showing him, but was unsure of how to respond without being able to speak yet.

By age two we introduced the alphabet and numbers (which he loves) but we are still fairly relaxed about it all. To be honest I hadn't really expected him to be able to read before school age, I was just looking for ways to interact with him.

We are now in what Dr Titzer calls the 'fast mapping' stage, which means he only needs to see a word once or twice to remember it next time he sees it (as opposed to seeing it 40-50 times like he did when he was first learning). It's pretty exciting, and he loves doing it. I certainly wouldn't hesitate to teach our next child in the same way.

There is no need to buy fancy flash cards and DVDs either. Cosmo responds equally well to hand written cards, or just bold type on a computer screen. The DVDs are really useful if you want to sit them in front of something whilst you make dinner or get some chores done, but are totally non-essential. That said, if you can find someone who has the set, the instructional DVD and booklet for parents is interesting, informative and incredibly helpful.  It's definitely worth borrowing if you can. Dr Titzer's YBCR System

I don't want to put the YBCR system down, it has been amazing, and if you can afford it you should buy it from them. They are really committed to educating your child in a healthy and fun way, I just don't want people to think that if they can't get hold of it their child is missing out. You can do all this stuff yourself with a little bit of effort.

Finally, we started memory verses recently. I was told that your child doesn't have to be able to repeat back for you to move on. At this age it's about getting them familiar with scripture, rather than memorizing it, and hopefully bits of it will come back to them when they need it. We are mostly working through proverbs at the moment. There's no signs that Cosmo remembers anything yet, but he is enjoying it and asks me to recite the weeks verse to him, so I think it's a positive start. I'll let you know how it goes.