Thursday, 30 September 2010

The Mystery of History

The Mystery of History Part One - Creation to Resurrection has arrived!

I'm so excited. I've been flicking through and it looks like we are going to have a LOT of fun with this. I will warn you though, that it comes ready for a 3 ring binder. I have yet to find anywhere that sells these in the UK :-(

Still, it's not so hard to punch new holes in the pages.

We read through the introduction to this quarter this morning, and although I'm sure Cosmo didn't absorb all of it, he enjoyed being read to and the conversational style of the text. It asks question like 'Are you curious about how the world started?' which he loves answering 'yes!' to. I also think it's great that he is becoming familiar with new words. Every time a word popped up that he hadn't heard before (such as 'Cuneiform' or 'Kushite') he asked me to stop and point to the word in the text for him.

This afternoon we are going to make flash cards of all these new words and add them to a new file I am starting. When we re-read through this next (I'll start the curriculum again when I feel that he is old enough to be following the content better) he will already know these words and should make the absorption of information easier for him.

To be honest, I'm flying through it myself whilst he is napping. It's so exciting to me, having never studied history, to be able to see where different events and people around the world fit into the time line of biblical history. To be honest, I've never heard of most of them. I obviously didn't listen much in school, but it's fascinating me now.

So far this curriculum gets five stars. I'll let you know if we encounter any problems as we go along.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A Spring in our steps...

Today Cosmo had his first ever session at gymnastics club! Some Home educating families near by invited us along to MK Springers with them where he was the youngest (by quite a long way!) but the coaches were brilliant at keeping his attention and keeping him involved.

Towards the end of the session he got a little tired (it's an hour long) but I was impressed. Not only was he exerting a lot of energy physically, but he was being mentally challenged and attempting to co-ordinate his body in ways that were completely new to him. He learnt forward rolls, backward rolls, balancing on a beam and several positions on the bars.

I'm sure he is going to benefit massively from this activity.

There is another gymnastics club which is on at a more appropriate time, and is aimed at children his age, which is located on the other side of town. It's slightly more expensive (50p a session) but I'm not sure yet if I'll make the switch. The other mums at MK Springers are really nice, but it really is a bit to close to nap time. I think we'll keep going for the four weeks that we have paid in advance for and see what happens. If it turns out he is exhausted every week then we will try the other group.

My concern there is that the other group is not specifically for HE'd kids, so when they hit school age he will be the only one left :-(

Monday, 27 September 2010


It's taken me a while to get around to writing this, but I thought I'd best share in case anyone else is going through it too.

I recently approached a school to talk about flexi-learning. For those who don't know what this is, it's kind of like part-time school. My motives for this are a) keep other people off my back - if the school can see he is doing well I won't get loads of hassle about home schooling and b) I think it would be nice for him to spend some time experiencing 'school' without it being so many hours that he become peer dependant or starts to have his character formed more by their culture than our own.

You'd think this was a great option for the school, as they receive full time funding from the government for having him there, yet only require half the resources.

They were, however, incredibly negative towards the idea. I thought they might be keen if they met Cosmo and saw that he was fairly advanced for his age. They were indeed very impressed, and made it clear that they would like to have him at their school (despite us 'technically' being out of catchment) but that he would have to go to school full time. When I brought up the fact that he would be too far ahead of his peers and become bored in class (possibly making him quite disruptive. We all know what bored little boys are like!) they agreed. The solution?

Move him up two years so that he is studying with intellectual peers rather than his own age group.

I'm not being funny, but this is basically the exact opposite of what I want from school! Part of wanting to homeschool is about protecting him from todays culture, not exposing him to everything two years early!! Can you imagine a 9 year old moving up to secondary school??

I told the headmaster I thought it was a horrendous idea and he told me that homeschooling was a horrendous idea.

I'm now more determined than ever!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Living in a Sukkah

When Cosmo was still fairly small I heard someone say that a Jews catechism is his calendar. My ears pricked up, because I was starting to think about ways to introduce the gospel to him. Sure I sang songs to him and we had a children's bible we read from, but I knew that I wanted to teach him the bigger picture in a way that he would understand.

The Jewish calendar of festivals is great for this. If you haven't tried it, I thoroughly recommend you do. It can seem a little heavy at first (particularly if you already celebrate Easter, Christmas, thanksgiving etc...),  so maybe try introducing one new festival a year and build up the traditions slowly. If you are going to do that, I recommend starting with the feast of tabernacles, or Sukkoth as it is sometimes known.

So many people jump in with passover because it sounds familiar to us as christians, and it should be. It's mirrored so perfectly in the Easter story, but this can be pretty heavy for small children. Sukkoth, on the other hand, is enjoyable for children of all ages.

We start buy building a tent or shelter (the Sukkah) which we are supposed to live in for 8 days. Now, I'm going to cheat a little (because I'm no longer bound by the law and I can!) so we built our 'sukkah' out of sheets in the spare bedroom. We tented pretty much the entire room and covered the floor with a mattress and pillows to make it cosy.

This temporary shelter is to remind us that we are only temporarily here. Jesus has returned to His Father's house to prepare a place for us. Our permanent residence is not here.

Next, we decorate the Sukkah. It's fun to put up bunting or any other autumnal decorations you have, kids can draw pictures etc... We incorporated pictures of some specific tree branches in ours. Traditionally the Jews would have processed with these four branches to collect water for the tabernacle.  Here is the symbolism:

Water - Jesus is our living water. It was on the seventh day of sukkoth that he announced this in John 7:37-38

Myrtle,  Willow, Palm and Citrus - one has no fragrance no fruit, one fragrance but no fruit, one fruit but no fragrance and one both fruit and fragrance. The Jews would say that the fruit represents knowledge of the Torah and the fragrance represents acting out the Torah.  If your kids are slightly older you can parallel these with the four types of soil found in one of the kingdom parables (Matt 13).

We made our tree branches scented by putting orange oil on the citrus branch and jasmine oil on the myrtle (I have no idea what myrtle smells like, and luckily neither does Cosmo!). Cosmo loves sniffing them all to double check that they have 'fragrance'.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="720" caption="Preparing our Sukkah for our first evening meal."][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="720" caption="Cosmo explaining the four branches over breakfast"][/caption]

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Pros and Cons of learning to read...

Some of you may know that I started teaching Cosmo to read very young. I did this because I whole-heartedly believe that if you enjoy reading, no subject is closed to you. I'm also dyslexic, as are several members of my family, and I thought 'if he is going to struggle with reading, I want to give him a head start'.

I needn't have worried, because as it turned out he recognised his first words at around 10 months old.

By two years old he was beginning to sound out words and at 2.5 he is now reading sentences and paragraphs competently and even enjoying his very own toddler bible.

You would think this was only a good thing, and it should be. Sadly though, we live in a town where people don't seem to have very much respect for public property. I love to take Cosmo to the park where he can run and jump and climb and generally go wild and have a great time. Unfortunately the park is heavily graffiti-ed even inside the toddler area. So when Cosmo comes out asking me what f*** means or innocently announcing 'Mummy, that word is c***' I am forced to explain to him that those are naughty words and we shouldn't say them. The reality is that they are naughty words and he shouldn't have to read them in a children's play area either.

On the bright side though, this week we discovered where our town library is. Cosmo is taking great pleasure in selecting books to bring home and is, for the first time, enjoying reading by himself. His new bedtime routine now includes the light being left on for 30 minutes so that he can read some of his new books before he goes to sleep. It's a great way for him to unwind and he never complains about going to bed anymore, because he is excited to read a new story. Equally, by the time we go back up to turn the lights out, he has wound down and is ready for a kiss and to go to sleep.

I'm so glad we have been able to bless him with the ability to read so early on. It really does have such a calming effect, and seeing him so excited about going to the library is just too precious. I really can't praise the YBCR system enough.

Your Baby Can Read

As-Seen-On-TV! Babies Reading Using
Our Proven Learning System

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


I love the idea of notebooking. Building your own custom exercise books makes your children's work so much easier to look through and they look super cute! I love the idea of having their work all laid out neatly, and the best part is you can download notebook pages for different subjects, or create your own.

For example, your science pages might include spaces for their prediction, hypothesis, method and results. Your bible study pages might have spaces for memory verse, chapter, what you learnt and prayer notes.

Cindy Rushton produced the following blog about notebooking for history:

''Yes! Notebooking for History Studies! Notebooking for our History Timelines!

What great literature does to feed the mind, Notebooking does to deepen the studies, teach research skills, and record the real education that your children are receiving. Old path? Yep! But not a path that has been overgrown.

Notebooking goes as far back as eternity.

In Scripture, we find that the kings were trained and prepared for leadership by copying the law and keeping it in a book (isn’t that too cute??).

Want to know something even better? We find that EVEN God has a Book of Remembrance that He is keeping until that day that we join Him in heaven for that “Heavenly read aloud time” we will enjoy some day soon. Oh. Don’t worry! We will ENJOY this time. His Book of Remembrance does not contain a list of sins and transgressions that we have committed that He wants to be sure not to forget. Instead, it is filled to overflowing with precious quotes of praises that His servants speak to one another (My PERSONAL goal is for Him to have PLENTY to quote from my life!).

Up until about a hundred years ago, Notebooking was used in the education of every child. But, something called textbooks and “progressive” education eliminated them from the education of children today. With that elimination, we find the need for more and more artificial methods of education. Well, until we find this old path.

My friend, of all the ideas I could share with you as you homeschool your children, this one is certain to change the atmosphere of your home while equipping your children to learn more deeply now AND more voraciously for the rest of their lives.

Although I cannot begin to do justice explaining Notebooking in one simple article, I have to tell you a few perks (if you want more help in this area, take a look at my book Notebooking! YES! You Can Be A Binder Queen Too!). You have to know that this is a WONDERFUL way to teach more than just the historical facts that we want for our children to learn. There are LOTS of perks!

First of all, Notebooking encourages deeper research on topics of study. As my children have found a “place” to keep their special “finds” along the way, they have had more interest in hunting for more information on every topic they run across. They may think of this as a treasure hunt, but while they are having a blast finding great ideas, facts, and heirlooms, they are learning the skills of researching that will serve them all of their life. That is not all! While our children are building notebooks on topics as they study, they are also learning how to record what they are really learning. Besides relieving mom of the pressure of keeping records of every minute of their day, this teaches them the skill of record keeping and keeps a more accurate account of what is being done each and every day. Oh, and need I mention, Notebooking also teaches our children Language Arts skills and techniques the EASY WAY!

So, how do you use this old path as you teach History the easy way?

First, find great resources that can be used for building notebooks.

I am constantly on the lookout for great resources with neat Copywork. My children began using Copywork when they were very little and STILL use Copywork for building their notebooks in High School. There are many, many great resources. The very first thing we used was a large print edition of the Bible. It was easier for my young readers/writers to copy from. I also look for books with poems, quotes, narratives, songs, speeches, etc. As we travel, my children also look for special mementos to add to their notebooks. Anything from art prints to recipes to maps to pictures of the people and events from History are game for their notebooks. The key is in having a “place” to keep the information that contributes to each and every study. That place is our notebooks!

Second, encourage your children to USE those notebooks every day.

It is so easy to put projects on the shelf only to collect dust. It is also easy for us to let the children do work that we pile away in a box to put away later for them. Notebooking is NOT another thing for YOU TO DO! Well, unless you are going to keep a notebook for your own studies.

My dear friend, the greatest benefits come from our children doing the work for themselves. Sure, you may have gone to every local Scrapbooking crop in your city and state. But, this is not a contest for the most creative memory book. It is a discipline that we can pass on to our children so they can learn the skills of writing, researching, recording their own education, and collecting information in a logical and understandable way. Simply find some great resources for them to copy from…buy just ONE NOTEBOOK (3-ring binder) and sheet protectors (to keep their work stored nicely in each day)…and turn them loose! The fruit you gather along this old path is simply too good to miss!

Happy Homeschooling…the easy way''

If you do want some notebooking resources I thoroughly recommend the notebookingpages site. There are loads of free and very cheap notebooking templates you can download for you or your students.

I'm an affiliate, so if you do end up purchasing, please make sure you have clicked through from here so that I can get some commission :-)

Thanks. Happy notebooking!!

Monday, 13 September 2010

It's been a while...

As you may be aware it's been a while, but I have been super busy - with the arrival of our new baby girl!!

Lychee was born on the 25th of July and we are so pleased to welcome her into our little family. Between night feeds and pure exhaustion I barely have time to entertain Cosmo during the day, let alone get online, so posts are going to be a little fewer for a while, but I will try to keep up ;-)

Cosmo's latest achievement is that he has finally accepted we read from left to right (hooray!!!) which means we can progress to reading sentences and even paragraphs. In celebration of this, his daddy bought him the 'Beginners Bible' from our local christian book store. He absolutely loves it, and is doing really well at reading us a chapter from it each evening before bed. Okay, so it's not a full bible, but at the rate he is going he will have finished it by the end of the year and should therefore at least be familiar with the stories and how they fit together, with a basic understanding of the overarching themes.

He is also loving Sesame Street podcasts at the moment. I love it when he tries to use his new vocabulary in every day life. He told me that the breakfast I'd made him was 'exquisite' the other day. He also says that Lychee smells 'luxurious'. Soooooo cute!