Mother Culture: Bringing Faith to Bible Learning

Now that we have given the academic study of the Bible a thorough glossing over it is imperative that we don’t forget to address the heart as well.  In reading Chapter 10, “Discipleship Studies Methods: The Study of the Bible” from Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Whole Hearted Child, we talked not only about teaching our kids the basics of Bible doctrine and stories but also about finding that balance between the rules and the stories.  It does our children no good if they think that Christianity is merely a set of rules to live by nor can we successfully teach them by only highlighting feel good stories and neglecting to give them guidelines to live by.
So how do we help Bible learning time to go beyond an academic subject and become a matter of the heart that relies on real faith and a relationship with Jesus?  Here are the few suggestions that we gleaned at our little gathering.  (Please share your ideas with the group here too!)

  • Do devotions as a family at meal time or bedtime.  We can devote ourselves to reading and studying God’s word and praying both during our structured school day and at other times too.
  • Live your life expecting your children to learn from your own excitement and passion about your faith.  Share faith stories, let your kids see you having your private Bible reading times.  Model your faith day by day and side by side.
  • Remember that Christian books and activities don’t make a home “Christian”.
  • Serve together.  Serve intentionally.  Some ways that you can serve is to write letters to family, friends or missionaries, shovel snow, bring food to a neighbour, sort at a clothing exchange or food bank, collect food or money for the same, create a garden of blessing, the produce of which is given to members of the community that need it.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions! 

Well, I thought I could summarize our last meeting in just one or two postings.  I guess that we really did cover a lot.  And now I am racing to get through the reading for the next meeting.  Read ahead with me: the next meeting of our little groups will focus on chapters 3 and 4: “Home Nurture” and “Home Discipleship” as well as the first part of chapter 11 on “Language Arts”.  What I’ve read so far has already given me a lot to think on. 

Also, look for a new meeting and reading schedule to be posted soon as we are fortunate to add another group to the mix.  Corinna Duguay has been kind enough to offer her home as another meeting place on alternate Thursdays to house those who couldn’t make it to Bradford or who find Woodbridge closer or more convenient to drive to. 

Are you interested in taking this virtual group and bringing it alive in your home with some like minded homeschoolers and a good book?  I’d be happy to help you to set up your own meetings starting with the same reading list and a similar schedule to our own.  Please let me know if I can be of some help.  Support is so essential in this line of work whether it be virtual gatherings like this or real life meet ups for some “professional development”.

Talk soon!

Blessings,

Cori

Mother Culture: Resources for Teaching About the Bible

While reading the Bible should be the primary learning tool for “teaching Bible” in our homes there are a lot of age appropriate suggestions and resources that can be used.  Today we will look at some of these resources as we continue our discussion on Chapter 10 of Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Whole Hearted Child, the chapter on teaching the Bible.

The first resources that we have always used in addition to our regular Bible reading are the materials supplied by our local Awana program to learn to memorize Bible verses as well as to pursue spiritual disciplines like serving, tithing, praying, and more.  It is a fun and systematic programme for all ages that is very rigorous.  (Cubbies books are for children in JK and the year before JK.  Sparks have three books: HangGlider, WingRunner and SkyStormer for kids in SK to grade 2.  T&T has four books for grades 3-6 starting with Ultimate Adventure 1 and 2 and finishing with Ultimate Challenge 1 and 2.  Trek materials are for junior high students and Journey takes students through high school studies.  You can order these materials at http://www.awanacanadastore.ca/servlet/StoreFront.) 

As well, for all ages, we have used the FREE Bible League Day Planners which include a variety of Bible reading plans which we encourage the older kids to choose from to study.  I usually carry these in August and September but now you can get them at http://www.bibleleague.ca/scp.php. 

For younger children, a good Children’s Bible is a great supplement.  The Clarkson’s mentioned a few but one in particular that some mom’s in our little gathering had experience with and which they felt was quite good was, The Jesus Story Bible, as they said that it relates every story to Jesus Christ.  (I am interested in getting my hands on it so I think I will order some in to Maple Tree.  It is quite economical at $18.99 and you can get a deluxe edition for $27.99 which includes the complete audio recordings.  Anyone interested in ordering one with me?)

For older children, we are encouraged to start to teach them to not just read but to study the word on their own so it is wise to start to teach them to use resources like concordances, commentaries and Bible dictionaries.  In our home, we have started with a concordance.  There are online concordances but they just aren’t any substitute for the information that you can get from the real thing.  I do use “You Version’s” IPhone app which has many different versions of the Bible and some limited search abilities.  In our house, while we do use several different versions of the Bible we have two chosen concordances, The NIV Exhaustive Concordance and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (KJV). 

Paired with this is a good Bible dictionary.  Unlike a regular dictionary a Bible dictionary is defines words as they have been translated from the Hebrew and Greek and so gives more background, and can define words within their context in the Bible by comparing different passages with the same word and giving lists of where the word appears in the scripture.  Bible dictionaries are a great help in understanding biblical ideas.  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words has been an essential tool in our home since my university studying days.  Another good dictionary is The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. 

I have been searching around for good resources that will complement our Charlotte Mason education and am excited about this resource as it includes both Strong’s concordance and Vine’s dictionary: The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.  I think I might add this one too to Maple Tree’s shelves.  (Let me know if you’d like to order a copy.  They are, of course, cheaper for one book than my original concordance was on its own let alone buying the dictionary too.  Book prices are so great lately!)

As well, study bibles and commentaries are useful.  In our house, my hubby and I use Life Application Study Bibles and we have the classic Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible to refer to on our shelves. 

When students have learned to use these tools they can then move on to learning with them to do first topical studies and then inductive studies.  More on these another time.

Further to this we also looked at ways to make studying the Bible more than just an academic subject.  More on this in the next Mother Culture posting…

Blessings,

Cori

Mother Culture: Christian Education

Well, it has taken me a good week to get caught up on the day to day happens: my husband and I were blessed to have our first weekend away without children in several years.  After Thursday evening’s {most excellent} Charlotte Mason meeting here at my home we trundled off to bed so that early the next morning we could head out.  I think it was more difficult for me to leave my technology behind than my children as I knew that they were in good hands.  Because of this though, I blissfully spent many hours just resting and reading and enjoying the company of my hubby – without a computer on hand and am only just now reaching the summit of mount o’launder-us and taking a few minutes to reflect.

As I look back over the reading and discussion that we did, I think that there was far too much that we covered to get it all on one blog posting…  So I am going to try to pick out a few highlights and then post again soon. 

Please feel free to enter the discussion by posting a comment orquestion and become a part of our virtual support group.  If you have the book then read along with us, this past week we read and discussed chapters 1, 2, and 10 of Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson. (If you’d still like to join the discussion and would like a copy of the book, I do have a couple of extra copies available.) 

The underlying theme of these chapters and the book is that real education does not start with an academic paste that is adhered to our students.  Instead the foundation of a Christian education truly is relationship with Christ.  All of our efforts and teaching should grow up out of this goal.  As we have always said, “It is far more important to us that our children grow up knowing and loving Jesus and striving to be the women that he individually designed them to be than that they ever learn to read….  And they WILL learn to read.

Key to the discussion is the realization that having a Christian home or a Christian education really involves much more than adding Bible verses to the subjects that we study, reading Christian books, attending Christian activities or even making sure that we have a daily Bible reading time.  True Christian education comes out of a lifestyle of living daily in relationship with Christ.  We realize that it is only by modeling for our children the Christian life, including how we deal with our own failings, that we can lead them to go beyond an academic study of God and on to a true lifestyle of faith.

One of the core ways that we do this is by making education a day by day and side by side activity, not one where the teacher stands as the bearer of all truth and must disseminate their knowledge by lecturing and testing.  Instead, when we realize that our children are just as valuable and able as we are, though less grown and knowledgeable, then we acknowledge that we are on a journey with them rather than acting as a polished tour guide for them.

As such, our job is more hefty than simply being the bearer of knowledge.  Our job is to instill in our kids our values, to give them a sense of their heritage, their lineage both in a general sense as the Church of God but also in a personal sense as we share with them the value of who they uniquely have been made by the power of the Creator God.  We need to teach them to serve, to love others, to understand how to learn, to have a passion for learning and for God, his people and his creation.

These are some of the foundational principles in Christian education.  Please enter the discussion.  Next, I will post some of the more practical ideas that we chatted about with regards to teaching the Bible to our children.

Talk soon,

Cori

More Mother Culture at Home and Abroad

Okay, I am going to make one last little note on upcoming Charlotte Mason meetings….
At Home:

I have invited you all to join me either in person or virtually for our little gatherings in my living room here in Bradford, Ontario.  I know that many of you have responded or have picked up a copy of the book that we are reading.  (For more details see this posting and this one.)  I ask that you would please be patient with me though and even if you have told me that you plan to come, could you please RSVP so that I know who and how many to expect on that evening?  (Usually one of my daughters like to bake something special for us!)  I can send on my address information to you then as well.  I am very much looking forward to having an encouraging evening with many other home educating parents!

And Abroad:

Well, I can’t claim to have gone very far abroad as I have become quite the homebody in my homeschooling years but I have heard through the grapevine about others who meet up to share some “Mother Culture” in the same way that we do.  These folks have shared their information with me so that they can welcome more folks in their area for some comaradarie but I haven’t updated the list since the spring so please let me know if you have any more up to date information.  I would also love to add more names to the list, especially of groups that are outside of Ontario, so if you are involved in another Charlotte Mason study group or know of one, please pass on the info here as it may be helpful to someone else in your neighbourhood.  It means so much to me to be able to meet with like-minded moms and I hope that many of you will be able to benefit from some of the same.

Mitchell, Ontario: Contact Laurel at 519-348-0378 or ljbaldridge@gmail.com.  Meeting every 6 weeks.

Kingsville, Ontario: Contact Jennifer at pjgagnon@cogeco.ca.  Near Windsor.

Millgrove, Ontario: http://wholeheartedhomeeducators-canada.blogspot.com/.  Near Burlington?

Bradford, Ontario: Contact Cori at 905-778-9412 or coriandmark@hotmail.com.  Meeting every 5 to 6 weeks.  Between Barrie and Newmarket.


And remember that if you can’t find some Mother Culture at home (here in Bradford with us) or abroad (with some of these lovely groups) then you are welcome to join the virtual group here as we try to be a help to one another!

Keep in touch!

Blessings,

Cori

Mother Culture Reading List

Well, here we are in the second week of school already and only 9 sleeps until our first Charlotte Mason support group.  I wasn’t sure if most folks would pick up their books before the first meeting or whether you would want to wait until then.  Now that the verdict is in and most have picked up their books (or will be soon) I figured that I should publish our reading list for the year

If you haven’t heard yet, we will be meeting every 5-6 weeks throughout the school year for some learning and encouragement here in my home in Bradford.  Our book choice for this year is the new edition of Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson.  For more specific details about our meetings, check out this post

As for the reading list, please forgive me as I have tried to balance the reading but of course some sections are bigger than others.  The goal has been to read both practical and theoretical sections for each gathering so that we have the chance to look at ideas like creating the right learning atmosphere as well as history or geography. 

Knowing that many of you don’t live nearby or aren’t able to join us because of all of life’s busy demands, I want to invite you to join us virtually.  Grab a copy of Educating the Whole Hearted Child (I have these in stock and am happy to ship one to you.)  Take the opportunity to follow along on the readings with us and we can carry on the discussion here.  I plan to list some of the highlights of our discussions here and especially to keep some lists of the favourite resources that we like to make. 

So whether you are here in person or in spirit, please join us for some Mother Culture this school year!

See you all soon,

Cori

Readings from “Educating the Whole Hearted Child”

September 22 – Chapters 1, 2, 10

October 27 – Chapters 3, 4, 11 (half; pages 193-204)

December 1 – Chapters 5, 6, 11 (half; pages 205-210)

January 12 – Chapters 7, 12 (part; pages 211-222)

February 16 – Chapters 8, 9, 12 (part; pages 223-231)

March 22 – Chapters 15, 16, 12&13 (parts; pages 232-247)

May 3 – Chapters 17, 13 (part; pages 248-256)

June 7 – Chapters 18, 14

FYI:

Educating the Whole Hearted Child Table of Contents

PREFACE: A WholeHearted Journey for Home
INTRODUCTION: Christian Homeschooling — Taking a Step of Faith toward Home
SECTION 1: HOME
Chapter 1: The Christian Home — Learning to Be at Home with Christ
Chapter 2: The Christian Homeschool — Learning at Home to Be with Christ
Chapter 3: Home Nurture — Shepherding Your Child’s Spirit to Long for God
Chapter 4: Home Discipleship — Shaping Your Child’s Heart to Live for God
Chapter 5: Home Education — Strengthening Your Child’s Mind to Learn for God
SECTION 2: LEARNING
Chapter 6: The WholeHearted Learning Model — Living and Learning Together at Home
Chapter 7: The WholeHearted Learning Home — Creating a Home You Can Learn Within
Chapter 8: The WholeHearted Learning Child — Understanding Your Child
Chapter 9: The WholeHearted Learning Youth — Beyond the WholeHearted Child
SECTION 3: METHODS
Chapter 10: Discipleship Studies Methods — The Study of the Bible
Chapter 11: Disciplined Studies Methods — The Study of the Basics
Chapter 12: Discussion Studies Methods — The Study of Ideas
Chapter 13: Discovery Studies Methods — The Study of Learning
Chapter 14: Discretionary Studies Methods — The Study of Living
SECTION 4: LIVING
Chapter 15: Family — Keeping the Vision Alive
Chapter 16: Structure — Keeping the Homeschooling Together
Chapter 17: Order — Keeping the Home Together
Chapter 18: Support — Keeping the Spirit Strong
POSTSCRIPT: The Challenge — Keeping Faith in the Family
RESOURCES
A: Books for the WholeHearted Family
B: Books for WholeHearted Learning
C: Forms for WholeHearted Learning

Preparing….

Recently I was blessed to spend a few moments with a good friend praying for and preparing for the upcoming school year.  It was so refreshing to spend some time really focusing on where we were and where we hope to be a year from now.  At this time of year I so often get caught up in the charts and planners, comparing curricula and scheduling events that I often loose sight of some of the big goals. 

I remember how, last year, I had to step back and look at my planning anew realizing that I was immersing myself in geography, literature and science lessons and yet my “big picture” goals had so much more to do with character and relationship.

I had to stop and simplify all of my elaborate plans to make way for the more important lessons like attentiveness, loving kindness, patience, work ethic, responsibility.

And once again this year I need to take that step back and make sure that I am once again putting my focus in the right area.  So, as we prayed, my dear friend and I prepared our hearts for making the right priorities, for pursuing the more important learning goals.

While we whispered quietly and the children all buzzed about around us she pointed out a beautiful little plaque that she kept on her mantle.  It read “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child” and I knew that I had met the theme for our school year. 

Though I will continue to spend many hours writing out schedules and choosing books to include in this year’s studies I first need to realize that if my children are properly prepared for their studies, for their interactions with one another, for their interactions with others, for life in general, then the don’t need me to smooth out the path that lays before them.

I don’t need to spend hours and hours on each science lesson, on the nitty gritty of our daily schedule, on finding just the right maps and colouring sheets.  My children and I are on a journey of living and learning together – day by day and side by side.  They will learn from my mistakes and see how I deal with my failings, they will have to take the initiative to complete their work when another sibling is sick or is misbehaving.  They will learn to walk the path without all of the bumps in the road removed for them.  My children will learn despite me.

I often have people ask me about one curriculum or another and though I am no expert, I am happy to review the resources that we have used in our home.  One of the first questions that often comes up is about “preparation time”:  I don’t have time to do a lot of preparation as I am teaching 8 different subjects to children in 3 different grades!  Is this going to take a lot of preparation?”  My answer almost always is that I choose learning resources that require as little preparation as possible, not only because I don’t have the time to throw into long lesson plans but also because it isn’t necessary for me to break my children’s learning meals into pre-digested bite sized chunks.  They need to taste, to savour, to digest their learning times or they won’t get nearly the same amount of learning out of it as I will.

Preparing our children for the path that lies before them means helping them to develop the right habits by which to govern their lives.  This is far more important that having a complete day by day set of lesson plans that covers every recommended learning outcome.  Real lesson preparation needs to focus on the heart and not on the head.

Dear Friends, if you feel unprepared, as I do, on this first week of school, remember to pray and to prioritize the building of strong habits and the rest will fall into line.

Peace,

Cori

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