Simple Schedule Changes Bringing Peace

For a few months now our morning time has been slipping.  We were getting started later and later…with more and more resistance.  The late start pushed our study time up against lunch + naps + toddler meltdowns.  But we’ve made a few small changes that have given us a little wiggle room and a little peace.

Feb flowers

Dressed + ready.  Everyone is dressed before AP heads out for work.  His leaving is a natural transition, but we weren’t using it as such.  Now we are ready to meet the day as soon as we say goodbye.  This also signals the start of a little computer time for Mabel + Nicolas.  Screen time first thing in the morning!  Scandal!

Littles first!  While the big kids work on the computer, Joseph and I spend time together.  Usually this means time nursing!  But after that he’s usually ready to read a pile of books or help get our snack ready.  Spending time with little ones first is common homeschooling advice, and it seems to be bearing fruit for us.

Planning to eat.  The kids eat as soon as they wake up.  But soon enough they are clamoring for more to eat.  This had been upsetting our rhythm, pulling me away from the table and back into the kitchen.  But by making space for a snack, the morning is a bit smoother.  I’ve been using this Waldorf list of The Grain of the Day from Parenting Passageway to guide our menu.  The kids like the links to Greeks myth; I like not having to decide what to make each day.

Put the kettle on.  We’ve also been having a pot of tea with our studies.  The pitcher of milk + pot of sugar, the warm drinks in fancy cups, the pouring + stirring + slurping–these help to make gathering at the table to do our morning work a little more welcoming, a little more homey.  I’m not just calling them away from their play, I’m also calling them into a warm, inviting ritual.

Read the poems.  After everyone is gathered and settled, I read a poem.  This is not a new part of our routine, but it had been slipping.  And I found that sharing a poem together every day is one of those things that helps me feel like school is happening.  I recently found this collection of poems on Ambleside Online that includes a poem for each day.  I printed out the February and March poems and tucked them in our Morning Time Basket.  It’s been a welcome addition.  Here’s one of this week’s poems by a favorite author of ours, “A House of Cards” by the English poetess, Christina Rossetti:

A house of cards
Is neat and small:
Shake the table,
It must fall.
Find the Court cards
One by one;
Raise it, roof it, –
Now it’s done: –
Shake the table!
That’s the fun.

Poetry Friday

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Oh, about a month ago I picked up an early reader from the library called The Drinking Gourd.  I didn’t have any real plans for the book.  Just thought *our* early reader might pick it up, and we could do a little something for Black History Month.  Well, it sat on the shelf all month long…until the toddler found it this morning.

Follow the Drinking Gourd

We read the book, and Nicolas was just taken with the story.  He asked if there was a movie of the book.  The first thing we found was a sing along version of the song.  Then we found a Reading Rainbow segment featuring the Drinking Gourd book by Jeannette Winter…whose work we love (the illustration above comes from her book).  Then we found a longer version narrated by the Penguin Movie Guy–that’s what the littles call Morgan Freeman.

All these stories made Nicolas start thinking.  He said he was unsure he’d try to escape if he were a slave.  He doesn’t like the idea of breaking the law.  So we talked a little about unjust laws.  And I started telling him what I could remember of the powerful anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  In the back of my mind, I was also thinking about the amazing Smithsonian article I read yesterday about the shameful history of segregation in Portland.

Nicolas asked if we could find the music for “Follow the Drinking Gourd.”  He wants to play it on his homemade banjo!

Fourth Sunday of St Joseph

St Joseph WorkingI need to come back to it again and again: the humility of God.

The one who is infinitely great makes himself lowly and small for our sake.

To forget this or pretend it has not happened is pride.

I must come back to it again and again.  Inscrutable.

–Jeremy Driscoll

A Monk’s Alphabet: Moments of Stillness in a Turning World.

Lent Is For Art

Lent is a time when we tend to be a bit quieter, a bit more reflective.  It’s a time when we might step away from the busyness of our days. Art can be a welcome addition to such reflection.  Here is a collection of resources to help you welcome an artful Spring.

  • Make space for a museum or gallery visit.  We went to see the St John’s Bible, an illuminated manuscript produced in this century.  But even if you don’t go see religious art, the quiet, open spaces of a museum can help shift our focus.
  • Bring formal artist study home.  We are using The Giotto Portfolio created by Simply Charlotte Mason.  It includes an artist biography for reading aloud, book recommendations for further reading, and prints to study.  There are quite a few frescos included that work well with the season.
  • Get it down.  I’m drawing everyday as part of my Lenten practice.  But even if you don’t do it everyday, you can make space to draw with your children.  Maybe some contemplative coloring while someone reads aloud?
  • Earlier this week Melissa Wiley published a wonderful collection of ideas + resources (and even some looks at her own lovely sketchbooks!) called 10 Ways to Cultivate a Family Art Habit. This sort of post could take you a year (or more!) to really work through.  Here are a few highlights:
  • Watch videos of Cathy Johnson.  She’s written many books, offers lots of online classes, and also has technique videos on YouTube.
  • Look at the Illustration School series by Sachiko Umoto.  These are the books I’m drawing from during Lent!
  • Read Syllabus by Lynda Barry.  Lori originally recommended this book.  It’s a great drawing/process book.  But it’s also a great book about teaching + learning.