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A Wild Idea…

Okay Friends,

I am going out on a limb and going to try something different this fall with the kids. I am looking for ideas, help, partners, feedback? (Please, only positive feedback as I am aware that this is a crazy idea!)

My inspirations:1) an amazing old pastor we met that has read his entire Bible every three months… For forty years!2) people who do extreme things to follow their passions like, for example, the authors of The Hundred Mile Diet who were so passionate about healthful eating that they only ate food that was produced within a hundred miles of their home for a whole year, and
3) a sweet homeschooling family that attended a YWAM training week where (university aged) students read the whole Bible in a week. The older children in this family, aged seven and nine, participated in the full week and read the whole Bible with the other, much older students.

So… I have been praying about doing something special with our studies that would embrace our passions as well and have been impressed with this idea: we would like to start our school year by reading the whole Bible together in chronological order. I don’t think we can do it in a week but maybe in two weeks or three. Our hope is to start on September 8th.

We will take turns reading corporately, will use some audio Bible and will also do some of the reading privately (for those old enough) and maybe with other friends for a bit, too.  I think we will try to make a timeline or keep our books of centuries handy as well as maps of the holy land.  I will likely have the girls do some narrative drawings or paintings while they listen daily.  I want to keep it fairly simple though.
My understanding is that it takes about 70 hours to read the Bible in full. That means it would take about 6 hours per day if done in two weeks with lesser readings on the weekend or would take about 4 hours per day if done in three weeks with lesser readings on the weekends.

What I’m looking for:1) Advice, ideas, encouragement?2) Comrades? Would anyone like to join us for encouragement, company and accountability? If you live nearby, we could meet up at a park a few days a week and read together and then take a break and play.

I am fully aware that we may not be able to fully finish this or may end up drawing it out and that we will miss many of the nuances that a slow and thoughtful read would give. On the other hand, I have found a “bird’s eye-view” very refreshing and have learned a lot from more intensive reading on my own lately.  I also realize that my younger kids will likely skip out on some reading and that’s okay, too.  I figure though that we can’t really go wrong by setting aside a special time to read the Bible intensively and that our reading, writing and ‘rithmetic studies can’t be terribly thrown off by starting a few weeks later than usual. I think that this can be a great educational experience as well a spiritual one.

Thoughts? Thanks.



Maple Tree Publications

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Drinking out of a Fire Hose

Well, the theme for my life lately has been balance.  I feel as though I am always struggling for balance.  Am I making sure that we get an appropriate amount of school done without making my kids feel like I am a slave driver?  Do I get enough time away or do my kids feel like I’m always gone?  Have I got enough rest and still got mount o’launder-us under control?  Are we all eating well?  Exercising? Balance seems so elusive and yet I see that there are times when it is more smooth sailing than others.

In the last two weeks, I feel like I’ve been completely toppled off of my teeter –totter.  Preparing for the great and crazy “conference season” always does that to me.  This is part of the balancing act, too: expecting to be knocked off kilter during seasons when the wind is blowing particularly hard and there is much to be done.  I have to remember to just get back up again.

A thought to share: it does get easier, this habit building thing.  The more I practice, the more I can find a groove that is slowly being dug in the tracks of my well-worn road of life.  I am reminded that Charlotte Mason writes a lot about building good habits and how they keep us from being run off of the rails of our lives.  I am still learning!  My kids are still learning. 

Are you striving for balance?  Keep up the fight!  It will become easier as time goes on.Remember that the bigger the chunk is that you bite off, the longer it will take to digest it.  If you want to gain more balance in your life, start with little bite-sized chunks and be content to make small gains.  Do you want to be healthier?  Start by adding exercise to your school routine once or twice a week.  Do you feel over-run by the noise of your busy home?  Set a timer once a day for 15 minutes of mommy time that can’t be interrupted so that you can read. (When my little cherubs interrupt this sacred pause, I often reset the clock.)  Know that we are all in this struggle together.  For me, right now, the struggle for health centres around getting a better sleep routine.  Conference season = drinking out of a fire hose of intensity so I need to learn to turn it off by 11pm.  That’s not been happening lately!  (So I’d better wrap this musing up soon.)

But first, I want to wish you all well as you strive for balance in your own life and the season you are facing. 

And if you find yourself at a homeschool conference in the near future, check and see if Maple Tree is there and come have a little visit Under the Maple Tree.  It’s always so much better to see people in real life rather than virtually.  I can’t wait to share with you some of the exciting new books that we have and some of the yummy seminars that I am pumped up about sharing with you.  I’m sticking to conferences in Ontario this year (= struggle for balance, remember?) so if you are out of my range then feel free to call or drop me a note to chat about life or books or homeschoolish kind of things.  All that is for later though – I’d better get some rest! 



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On Becoming Far-Sighted

Dear Friends,

I thought I would take a {quick} break from my planning.  I’ve spent my evening getting ready to participate in an Awana Children’s Ministry conference at the end of this month.  This will be the second time that I have been to this conference and this year I will be presenting two new workshops called “What is a Biblical Education?” and “Day by Day and Side by Side”.  Even though I do get nervous and pretty perfectionist about my preparations I am really looking forward to sharing some of the new things I have been learning and pondering.

At the encouragement of our local Awana missionary, I picked up a copy of Raising  Modern Day Joseph by Larry Fowler and tonight I got to curl up with a good book to do some “work”.  (This is one of the reasons that I love my job: reading is a requirement!)  I am only part way through it but I am feeling challenged already.

The author asked this question, “What do you want to be able to say about your children when they are thirty?”  Good question…

I think that as homeschooling parents we often consider ourselves more intentional than our counterparts that don’t spend hours mulling over lessons plans and curriculum choices.  But do we often look at our children’s education with such far-sighted lenses?

This was a great reminder to me that I really do need to remember to live beyond just this moment and to think of what the long term goals are that I have when I am educating my kids.  Charlotte Mason stressed that an education was so much more than simply the cramming of much knowledge into a little mind but that equally important was the motivation for learning and the habits that were formed along the way.

Diana Waring recently reminded me in a talk that she did (Thank you Lord for seminars on CD!) that biblical education is a blend of knowledge, piety and morality.  To be truly educated we must be assimilating knowledge in accordance with our relationship with the God of the universe and our love for Him and we must apply that love and knowledge to the world around us, learning to live in a way that is fitting for a child of The King.

I still have so much to learn in this respect but my husband and I have put some thought into what we want to be able to say about these children of ours when they are thirty and, so far, it looks something like this, “It is our hope and prayer that our daughters will become lovers of God and of their families, women of strong character who are contributors to family, church and society, who are unwavering in their faith and able to share it with and defend it to others.” 

Tall order, I know.  And I do struggle with the notion of expecting something of them that I don’t always see in myself.  I guess this is better to be called a hope, a prayer, than an expectation.  But without a plan, as we know, we will never get anywhere.  I like the quote that I read in the book this evening, an excerpt from a poem by Longfellow,

            I shot an arrow into the air,

            It fell to earth, I knew not where.

Without intentionality in our efforts to rightly guide these precious treasures in the path that they should go we can only be sure that we won’t know where they will end up. 

The path is long from finished in our journey of parenting and educating but it is my hope and prayer that, with God’s help, if we keep those long term goals in mind, we will have a better chance of answering that question with confidence someday: “My daughter is 30 today and she is all that I every imagined that God would want for her to be!”

What are your hopes, Friends, for your children?  What to you want to be able to say about them when they are beyond these intensive years in your care?

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Maple Tree Publications

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Mother Culture: Chapter 4 – Home Discipleship

{Alright, first I must apologize for not keeping up to date with my notes on the Charlotte Mason meetings that we have had.  It is so spectacular to get together for encouragement and learning with likeminded parents and so, for those of you who haven’t been able to join us, I’m sorry that I dropped the ball.  Hopefully, I will be able to catch up over the next little bit on some of the notes I’ve taken and on the ideas that we have dicussed.  This past week we got together and discussed chapter 7 (on creating a home learning environment) and part of chapter 12 (on reading and narration).  I hope you are keeping up with the readings better than I am keeping up on posting my notes.  Please join the discussion and let me know how these readings have impacted you.}

If you are just joining our little, virtual Charlotte Mason reading group then welcome to Mother Culture.  For more details about the book and the reading schedule please see this post.

Chapter 4 – Home Discipleship

At it’s core discipleship is about a relationship – with Jesus.  Our greatest goal in teaching and training our kids at home in our families is that they will know and love Jesus.

As such we approach discipleship from three ways: giving direction (so that they will know the way to go), giving correction (to bring them back if they wander off of the path) and giving protection (from temptations and unrighteous influences).

Direction – To properly “train up a child in the way he should go” we need to know the way laid out in the Bible.  Giving direction is shaped by the four qualities of leadership: sympathy, encouragement, love and instruction.

            Sympathy (vs. Strictness) is love focused on the present, is not time efficient (that is hard for me!)  Sympathy is not about permissiveness!

            Encouragement (vs. Guilt) is love focused on the future. We need to affirm our children to help them to grow in confidence.  Let them know that you see their potential.

            {What do you think of the word potential?  I know that it should mean that we see how amazing a person can grow to be but often I have seen it mean how amazing they are not now!  “Potential” has the potential to be a very negative word, doesn’t it?}

            Love (vs. Neglect).  Give them a reason to follow you!

            Instruction (vs. Information).  Giving instruction goes beyond information giving in that it leads to personal transformation.

“It has been said that the essence of teaching is causing another to know.  It may similarly be said that the essence of training is causing another to do.  Teaching gives knowledge.  Training gives skill.  Teaching fills the mind.  Training shapes the habits…  The parent who does not recognize the possibility of training his children as well as instructing them, misses one of his highest privileges as a parent, and fails of his most important work for his children.” – H. Clay Trumbull, Hints on Child Training, 1890

Correction is getting back on the path.  We need to be careful not to be harsh while still using appropriate methods for correcting.  They suggest four methods:

            First is Training with Spiritual Discipline.  This involves choosing to parent by faith.  Not by flesh, fear, feeling or formula.  We need to rely on God’s leading through his word and prayer to help us to properly parent.

            Second is Training with Verbal Discipline.  We need to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus say?”  He would be “gentle, but authoritative”; “loving, but truthful”; “gracious, but firm”.

            Third is Training with Behavioural Discipline.  We need to use appropriately both natural and logical consequences.  Letting our kids fail is a natural consequence that we are so apt to protect them from.  Logical consequences are ones that don’t necessarily arise directly out of their actions but which our children need to expect to bear as a result of their behaviour.  In our home, we remind the kids that they have chosen any consequences that they have since they make their own decisions about how they will behave.  Logical consequences might, for example, be doing extra chores to “practice” getting them done more efficiently when they have been goofing around during working together time.

            Fourth is Training with Physical Discipline.  While there is a lot of debate about whether spanking is ever appropriate there is no doubt that any physical discipline must be used as a last resort and only be done when we are certain that we are acting in love and guided by God’s grace.

Protection is about helping our children to stay safe on the path of life.

We need to protect our children’s appetites for our desires lead our hearts.  We need to help to protect them against unwise relationships and against ungodly media as well.

{What do you think about your children’s ability to choose friends?  Should they stay away from all “unsavoury” characters?  Or should they, in as far as we know that they are safe, be able to befriend peers with lesser morals or behaviours?  How can we hope that our children will influence others for eternity if we engineer all of their interactions to avoid people who might lead them astray?  Would it not be better to, instead, train them to be strong leaders and not followers?  I am, of course, being something of a devil’s advocate but I do want to know how you strike a balance between being over protective and leaving your kids unprotected at all.}

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the reading and on discipling your children, Friends.