Category: homeschooling

Exams, part II

Oh, I loved doing exams with the girls. I video tapped them with my phone, and they took over the phone, uploaded the videos, and they are now editing them with intros, transitions, some cuts, and pasting some together.

They both remembered much and expressed themselves well, each with their personality. When I asked my oldest to talk about the water cycle, she floored me by remembering about a parable from Parables from Nature. She also enjoyed the few grammar questions, the dictation…  They are remembering, they are learning, and they care.

Now they got a better idea of what happens during exams. Next term they will be more prepared with a hymn and folk song learned by memory.

The areas we need to work on are more detailed composer study (I think I will start adding a short bio, so that we can secure better the name of the pieces, and stay more focused on even one piece and one composer).

I have to find a better way of asking for what they have learned in geography.

What a great time it was!

Children of a Greater God

Chilren of a Greater God, she wrote about this book in her blog, and it sounded very interesting. I found a copy at paperbackswap, and it has been a wonderful book.

If someone asks me today for a book I recommend if you are thinking about homeschooling, or already a seasoned homeschooler, this will be the FIRST TITLE. That good it is.

Dedicated to the Andreola couple, mentioning among others Francis Shaeffer, Dorothy Sayers, the word utilitarism, and quoting C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, George McDonald, J.R.R. Tolkien, Aristotle, and the Fruits of the Spirit, it was destined to be a book that leaves an impression, a companion that reassures us and defines with detail our vision for our children and ourselves, and how to accomplish this forge of character that a christian education is.

Some quotes:

pg. 23 …we must help our children to develop good habits, to foster the kind of self-discipline which will enable them to respond to morally vexing situations in a way that honors God and demonstrates virtue. When they form good habits, children are empowered to develop “right desiring” and the will and discipline to do as they ought.

pg. 30 Virtue is not simply obedience to a set of rules.
Virtue is not old-fashioned or represive.
Chesterton writes, “Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing”.

pg.35 The life of faith does not denigrate earthly life or make it seem inconsequential.
To live for the good is to live life to its fullest. To live for the good is to live with joy.

pg.38 The development of moral virtues in our lives is something greater than merely a concern with “values.” All the current discussion over “family values” tends to play into the hands of the moral relativists. Value is a morally neutral term which identifies a preference. Virtue, on the other hand, is a quality of character which leads to action. (…) They are, if you will, our road map to the destination of character.

pg.66 Christians have no reason to be intellectually ashamed or embarrassed. The Christian worldview is a strong and logical answer to our culture’s search for meaning. Our beliefs will stand up both in the court of reason and in the court of experience. The Christian worldview is the only fully satisfying way to answer the questions men have struggled with throughout history.

pg. 107-108 As modern Christians, we have created our own subculture. We have Christian music, Christian bookstores, Christian television, Christian schools, (…) one of the dangers is that we can tend to devalue that which does not specifically wear the label “Christian”. When we separate ourselves to this extent, we lose our impact upon the culture at large and rob ourselves of the insights we could draw from those whose faith is different from ours.

pg. 111 Because all truth is God’s truth, the early Christian theologian Justin Martyr could write, “Whatever has been well said anywhere or by anyone belongs to us Christians” (Apology II, 13). This is an attitude not of arrogance, but of gratitude. Gratitude for all the truth of God and His creation; the truths of science, art, sociology, psychology, as well as the truth of faith. Great thinkers throughout Christian history have pointed out that all knowledge is the province of the believer, that we have nothing to fear and everything to gain from the pursuit of truth wherever we find it. We must, as Augustine write, mine the riches from the secular culture.

pg. 113 One reason we can learn so much from unbelievers is that Christian values have influenced our culture so deeply that even unbelievers hold to remnants of truth. Most of our culture’s moral foundations, institutions, and attitudes are based on Christian principles. This situation may be changing. Our worldview is becoming less and less acceptable and the common ground is shrinking. But still, though the last couple of centuries may have distorted the truth, the Christian influence in our culture is far from extinguished.
Another reason we can learn from unbelievers is that Christianity is about truth and reality. Unbelievers and believers alike share the same reality.

pg. 131 In this third section, we will examine how we might use our leisure time to develop our moral imagination. (A note from me: leisure is not entertainment).

pg. 142 Too much exposure to television can warp our sense of what is truly important and valuable in life. (…) The commercials, in particular, by giving us a false definition of true happiness, create in us a greedy lust for ever-increasing consumption.

I am realizing I have highlights in many more pages, and I will end up quoting all the book. He will talk later in the book about fiction that is too didactic, morality as role playing more than rule keeping, the role of art and music, the criticism to utilitarianism, and he will arrive at beautiful conclusions after laying down the path on how to develop moral imagination, and cultivate virtues that will result in christian character.


Fairwell to Poetic Knowledge Book Club

It has been such an intense and rewarding book club. It looks like yesterday when I begged one of the ladies that hang up at Miss Brandy’s blog to host a book club on Poetic Knowledge. Reading with these ladies gives you so much, a deep understanding, sharp observations, and applications to our life, not just abstract intellectual bluff. There is no bluff in any of them, they are true scholars because they are unpretentious learners. (Or are they unpretentious scholars because they are true learners?).

I never thought reading this book would change me so much or that it’d bring out some of the things I was wanting to do and let them influence and guide our homeschooling without reservations. Writing this I feel a bit silly, like those women on reality shows or infomercials, but it’s true. These months of reading Poetic Knowledge and translating Charlotte Mason have been an existential boot camp. But no, I haven’t changed my faith, dress style or hair color (other than stop coloring it!), or sold my home and moved to a commune in the boonies.

Mystie asks What is one specific thing you are changing as a result of reading this book?

We have slowed down, I’m remembering not to look at education under modern eyes, with lists, things to get done, milestones, etc, but as a life goal. And it has also made me realize we can follow AO Year 1 and the others our own way, because we are inspired by Charlotte Mason, not slaved by any curriculum but graciously enhanced by the gratitude of others who have walked this path before and left many trails for us to explore. Actually, I found out that year 1 is much simpler compared to all I wanted to do last year, when I still looked at education more scientifically and rigidly. But reading the book, it pointed to me to all the richness beyond just the books. It is the walks, singing, dancing, the conversations, the music (that’s something we are paying much more attention after the book), acting out, narrating, drawing, creating, and being involved in life what gives my children and us richness in life. The books are crucial, yes, as much as we let them be in direct contact with the children. We feast from their ideas, and we don’t take them as a race, or force them upon the children or ourselves. But the book in combination with Charlotte Mason, has given me even more confirmation and new courage to continue with a simple life that doesn’t leave out all these experiences linked to poetic knowledge, which, by the way, we can lead our children into without the need to pay an expert to “teach them” or without being experts ourselves.

This book revived in my mind the controversy about media exposure. I read Endangered Minds some time ago, and I found it funny that it was full of statistics, research studies that had been done, experts opinions, and even some neurology and data about the brain. ALL TO JUST read parts of the book where the teachers spoke with their INFORMED COMMON SENSE, and to find out that the book proposed what I already “knew”. I listened to a program on the radio about music and language, and the experts only said with technical words what we all know. It’s strange how I’m finding the academia world a bit laughable these days. There can’t be a study of the brain that will lead us to more knowledge of our humanity. They all say that the more they ‘study’ (modernly understanding this as scientifically approaching any subject), the more they see we all have a ‘basic’ knowledge, a ‘feeling’ that can’t be put with words, something that is linked to our emotions… poor modern man, trapped in his own crystal cage. Now it seems we need scholars from schools to tell us we don’t need schools to learn, experts on the brain to tell us that they can’t figure out how we “could have”  evolved this ability for rhythm that no other “animal” has… Maybe they could ask the common man, we could tell them that we are not evolved organisms, neither animals, we have a body, but we have a soul, thus it’s not difficult to explain we have things animals don’t have, and that we posses a knowledge that doesn’t rest on our BRAIN, neither on our rationality (seen as an added part to our bodies), but that as whole persons and humans, we have a poetic ability to know truths. And we who homeschool draw from that integral part that being humans gives us, and we reclaim our God given right to educate as part of what humans have done, can and will do till the end of times.

There will always be the dichotomy, the believers in God and the non believers. And truly the non believers, materialistic and scientific to the point of making science a religion with its own new vocabulary and hierarchy (titles, credentials, etc), amuse me with their naivete if they don’t annoy me with their arrogance.

We too, as Brandy defends, have seen a correlation between more technology and less ability for poetic knowledge. We mean those children who are anxious if they don’t have something that fills their minds with images, noises, or things that give them stimulus and require fairly automated responses. The same goes for children who have had much ‘modern and bad schooling’, they become dependent of others telling them what to do, what comes next, and they become restless and uncomfortable if they are by themselves, they are in one word, deprived of their ability of being bored.

I saw the book Outside Lies Magic in Melisa’s blog, and I’ve ordered it but it is not been shipped yet, or at least I don’t have an email stating it. I HOPE it comes soon, it’s a book about daring to make your own connections, to explore. My husband told me that in our days, where technology wasn’t that prominent, he thinks we were happier. OK, it maybe much of that past times are always better feeling of middle age people, and Mystie, we are not detracting technology but more pointing to the extinction of poetic knowledge and filling the gap with technical and scientific experiences in their place. And my girls watch some shows on the computer, some movies too, they are allowed to use the computer for different things, I only say that we need to be careful that technology or media do not invade the pastures of life our poetic soul needs to get rest. And our spirituality rests also in those pastures, therefore the need to be careful with the tarnishing of our souls that modern life can bring. Remember the criticism of modern commodities? No, it’s not so much to throw dishwasher and AC, but to revive or preserve as much as the poetic we have in our life, relationships, and homeschools. I think there is some truth in the observation that a childhood outdoors, without the narrow demands of a modern education, leads to independent thinkers and poetic souls.

In the first post I wrote for the book club I ventured the thesis that homeschoolers are the last poetic souls, not with those words, but now, at the end of the book, I restate it with conviction. We, from the more school oriented to the radical unschooler, have an organic ability for the poetic (which is the beginning and end of knowledge). The extent to which you cultivate, how conscious or unconscious you are about it, it’s your own personal choice, but in homeschooling it lies the poetic. I am convinced we are the best school that our children could have, where LOVE is present and our EDUCATED intuition prepares them not for college, but for a well examined life.

An Intense Week

This has been a wonderful week, with a crisis day and all. It’s always this way when I plan. I read, I look, I panic…I go to sleep, I wake up, and I tell myself that I can do it, that WE can do it, actually, THEY ARE ALREADY DOING IT!

The girls are going out with their bikes almost daily. Yesterday we went to the park and they played and made a piñata they will break next week at the park, we ate zucchini and scallions from our garden, we went to the YMCA, they did good with our weekly readings, math, writing and all. They danced, and we are back to practicing recorder. Sometimes we think we need an expensive instrument or lessons, but it’s incredible what a recorder can teach if you are willing to learn. I can play some tunes by ear, Blue Heart likes to follow what I do, but she is very green, of course, 🙂 So there is no need to spend yet, but just to keep at it, 15 minutes every day, and I know soon we’ll see or hear, some music coming from her recorder.
We already listened to these Italian songs, and today I caught them singing them… so cute. If you don’t know what you-tube play lists are, please ask me, or just sign up, and once you are signed in, you will see buttons to create playlists, or add to favorites, and you can embed those lists as you embed a video, so that your hymns, foreign language videos, or any collection you have, can start growing and once you go there you can listen to all or pick.

On Wednesday we did tons of things. Post office visit to mail two books I sold, from there to Walmart to buy and eat popcorn chicken, some wedge potatoes and a bottle of water. To the doctor for Little Bean’s well exam and five shots plus a TB test and a poke in her finger. She did GREAT. She did not shed a tear, only complained a bit. So from there to the Dollar General to get them a notebook and a one dollar toy, and to get that album for our artist study next school year. To the swimming pool at the park for Blue Heart’s swim test in case we end up signing them up for classes.

Life goes very fast if you are not careful. I do not take for granted that we will be at any of our group activities, many times we don’t go, I listen to my body and mind and theirs, and decide if it’s time to be outdoors and share with others, or to be home and guard our time.

I plan to go back to translating, I have 5 pages down of 22 from this installment and I would like to be finished by Monday the latest. Part of this translating work is of Charlotte Mason’s originals, and it is as intense as gratifying and it teaches me an immensity.

Soon we’ll have our water park days, our getting together with some friends when they are out of school, and our summer plans and rest to recharge energies for next August when we’ll resume, Lord willing, and start a new exciting year.

Read about other’s week at the Weekly Wrap Up.


Second Weekly Wrap-Up


It has been a quick week and sort of different.We had lessons on Monday and Tuesday, some done on Wednesday. And when I say lessons I speak about short lessons that include a reading from the Bible, math, writing and reading from our weekly readings, narrating some of those, and my oldest practicing her reading. And as a consequence of our Poetic Knowledge study, I’m reconsidering some of our practices and constantly trying to put more emphasis on music, real life experiences, dancing, exercising, enjoying art and nature. And we sang, danced, and they played a lot too. Many believe this is unschooling, I do not call it like that. We haven’t dropped the lessons, it is more as putting them in perspective and always looking at our balance between what regards to poetic knowledge and to “scientific” knowledge.

Since last week vacation, my throat has been hoarse, and I have coughed in the nights until late, unable to sleep very well, so Thursday I went with the girls to the doc who gave me a mild antibiotic but who told me my lungs were clear… I never get sick, and when I do, it is a humbling because I understand others dealing with allergies, cough, etc.

So these past two weeks I haven’t exercised at the YMCA. In our vacation we walked a lot, but I miss the instructors and their classes. I do cardio class and yoga which I love. I am also working in a translation, and I’m working on a block of 34 pages, and I’m on 25 or so. Right after this wrap up I plan to go back and hopefully finish it.

As for the girls. They are WONDERFUL, they are truly sweethearts, they are loving their bikes, loving our neighbors who homeschool too, and spending time with them, they love the weekly readings, our park days and play dates… and given I shouldn’t be using my voice much, I gave us a three day holiday this week, and we took advantage to do some much always needed cleaning.

I started with downstairs. I moved my shelf and desk again, and at the same time took care of the organizing the books and the shelf where we keep our supplies and manipulatives that I have in our dinning area which we use the most for eating, working, etc.

And up with the remainder of the books from downstairs that I wanted to have upstairs. I tackled the game room. Oh, boy! We have many books, and not as many as some, but a modicum good supply that is growing and needs purges occasionally. So I disposed of titles that are twaddle and others not according to our believes and values, and this time I organized books by themes. It makes sense to me, but don’t ask me when this will change again. I have many picture books by science, and many by social studies, several about birds along with our Old Blue story for when we jump into it sometime next year. We have then many books about mouse, some about food, many rhymes and abc books, several math picture books, princess tales, other continent legends, classic tales, dog books, cat books, pig books, elephant books, animal books… Now I can really see a theme and find an isolated book by remembering what it’s mostly about, and at the same time, when I find that book, see others in the same group, because we have some good books we haven’t read yet.

I also put together puzzles and games, and made the decision to get them out and play more. We played checkers this past week, and I barely remembered what to do and how to play it. I also decided to bring more supplies upstairs, because they draw a lot when we sit down for lessons, if not, when they work upstairs, unless they get some stuff from the crafts closet, they usually use their pencil or a pen on white printer paper. And I got some of the good markers and manila paper, and you see that chucky cheeses creation from that fact.

And I saved the best for last. My youngest daughter, who is four and five months, amuses me with her drawings. This one is a rendition of Chucky Cheeses, yes, a place they have visited twice, on a birthday, and invited by a friend. She carries a notebook or paper literally everywhere we go. And both girls played wonderfully this week, it was a delight to hear their singing, their made up riddles, and how they helped me cleaned their room, made labels for different things, and cleared the closet and created a hide out where they are sleeping together right now.

Life is good. Thank you, Lord.

Don’t forget to visit Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see the rest of the Week Wrap Ups.


Homeschooling in Texas video

This video was shared by one of the moms in my homeschooling group. It is not complete, it is just a small compilation, but I found it very interesting.
Definitely, I’m glad we enjoy the freedoms we do here in Texas. GOD BLESS TEXAS.