Monday, October 27, 2014

Our Homeschool Room.

Homeschooling is fascinating, isn't it? I was so curious before I began, on the how's and why's, and where's of it all. I do admit, it's interesting stuff. So today I thought if you are anything like me that you might find it fun to tour our homeschool room, or as we call it, our dining room. Nothing fancy here. Just a dining room where we do our schooling. No two days are the same. And we like it that way. So here we go!

I would have really liked to take some beautiful pictures with a camera that is not my iPhone, but who has time for that? These are just some quick shots I took cleaning up for the day on my phone, so the quality is pretty poor.

Here Lars is in the kitchen. This is a central hub in our daily lives. One major reason I kept going back to when thinking about homeschooling last year was that I wanted my children to have daily access to quality, life giving foods that we would prepare together. So three times a day we are all in this tiny kitchen making a beautiful mess and some really delicious food.

My dad just built us this beautiful shelf for over our radiator in our dining room/ school room. We haven't stained or painted it yet, because honestly, I can't bring myself to touch that beautiful natural wood. But this piece has become major for us. I pile a whole days worth of stuff  on it, leaving it there till I clean up dinner in case any of the children want to mosey on back to do some more research on their own throughout the day. (this happens. awesome, right?! kids WANT to learn!)

We use a loft of color in our learning. Almost all of Graycen's work this year she has hand drawn. Hours and hours of her time poured out into beautiful illustrations of how she learns and what she learns. She never has to feel rushed or move on until she is ready, and some days, like today, takes over an our to get just one picture right. We use Math-U-See for the kids math books, but branch out often making math flowers, or division houses. Always drawn, always colorful, and often times beautiful!

This is a shot of our dining room from one corner. We use that one bookshelf to hold most of our daily work.

To the far left in this picture are these beautiful watercolors the kids have been doing weekly after they have memorized our bible verse for the week. I have them up on the wall right now because they are just so wonderful, but we plan on making them into homemade Christmas gifts.

Living books! Following the beliefs of Charlotte Mason, we read living books. A "living book" is a book that a child gains knowledge of through his own effort. "Whole books are living in the sense that they are written by a single author who shares personally his favorite subject with us, and we pick up his enthusiasm." - Karen Andreola, Charlotte Mason Companion

Some of our favorite supplies that we use everyday are Dixon No.2 pencils (they really are the best pencils!), LYRA colored pencils which are high quality and have beautiful colors, and Stockmar paints.

I am not kidding when I say that for the past two months I have started almost every morning with a thankfulness so big to be able to homeschool and have the laws to back me up in my choices here in America. I tell the kids all the time, it's not just a right that we have, but a GIFT! We try to live accordingly with this gift. That flag right there bring me to tears everyday.

I have a little corner set up on our dining room with a sheepskin rug thrown down on the floor for some coziness and some wooden toys if a child is feeling frustrated or unwilling. A few minutes left to play and most of the time come back to the table with a willing attitude.

We also have this table set up where the kids can display treasures they have found on a walk or in our yard, it also holds our moveable calendar that Dune and Lars are in charge of changing every day, and little weather story telling wooden pictures that they predict the days weather with. I'll really be sad the year they outgrow this, as it has become one of my favorite things.

       We use all parts of our home though, from the attic to the basement, from the yard, to our neighbors yards, to the little lake we live on and beyond. I would call our local library just as important to our homeschool as our dining room, along with our homeschool co-op and church. We are really blessed to live in the Hudson Valley where learning is rich and everywhere. A train ride north or south from us and we've landed upon all new worlds. We have access to some of the best art in the world in museums that are as close as just one hour away. 

Well, I am being called away from the computer to come see some very rosy cheeked kids hanging blankets on our clothes line declaring today, "washing day." Hope you enjoyed our little tour!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


My sister was just here visiting. She left this morning. It never gets any easier, having to say goodbye to her. But it has me thinking. It has me thinking that I am so thankful that my children get to do life together. I mean really, really get to do life together. 

This morning they came down the creaky wooden stairs teary eyed that their Aunt had left. They piled onto the couch like little puppies wiping the tears off their faces, sharing their sadness. There's no rush right now to get them dressed and fed and onto the school bus. There's no rush for them to dry their faces, say goodbye to me and each other and sit apart all day, feeling the same feelings but not being able to share in that. 

There is instead a little light on over by the couch with a ball of yarn and some knitting needles, a candle flickering near by, the smell of coffee in the air, and a window cracked letting in the cool morning air. There is also encouragement from me that they stay in their pi's a little longer today and that maybe we will take our school outside and do learning among the acorns and fallen crunchy oak leaves. We'll exchange hugs all day when needed and I'll tell them stories from when I was a little girl. I'll invite them into the kitchen for the preparation of every meal. We'll slow down when we feel hurried, because there is nothing we need to add to the hurry. It's already going by fast enough. I'll call them to the couch for Farmer Boy and we'll huddle for prayer and thanksgiving, because that is about all we can offer somedays. That is what we can offer today. 

This season I am in; homeschooling, homemaking, it's teaching me to really live. It's teaching me to cultivate what really matters, to put my mind on the things that really matter. It's teaching me to be fully present, totally awake to what's around me, and when I completely blow it, that what lies beyond that are all the things I should be grasping for anyway. Grace. Forgiveness. God. and People. 

It's not the lessons. It's not the grades. It's not the comparison of how I am measuring up in all of this. It's so much more. Have I pointed them to Jesus enough today? Have I offered other's grace the way I have to myself, or vice versa? Have I told them enough that God has a plan for them? Have I given my children the space and environment to grow together, lean on each other, love each other? 

Today, we'll stay in our jammies a little longer than usual. Today we'll love a little harder than usual. Today I will set the pace for my home and children and be reminded that this, this is what is really important right now within these little growing hearts- that they have me, yes, but also that they have each other. They have each other
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