Posted on Leave a comment

Method to this Madness

I don’t usually take the time to blog during daylight hours,certainly not in the morning.  Morning is our time of concentrated learning.  We have a routine that we follow and this year we have really been enjoying our learning times in the morning.  This week is a bit more relaxed though and so I thought I would take a few minutes to write. 

This week has become a tradition in the Dean house: it’s “January Reno Week”.  Over the past few years our good daddy has booked a week off in January to be Mr. Fixit.  He usually takes the time to catch up on the “Honey Do” list and to focus on one area of the house that needs some special attention.  This year it is some much needed repairs to our basement bathroom, specifically a leaky shower.  Big job.

It’s nice that some of the girls are now old enough that they can be quite involved in the project and as such we have modified their school schedules for this week.  So, as I write, one daughter is downstairs helping with and learning about plumbing, another is writing a letter to Grandma, and another is making cookies to bring to Awana on Wednesday night.  The little one is creating her daily painted masterpiece.  Peaceful. 

As I enjoy this relaxed learning time I have been reflecting on our goals for the year.  You see, every year in the Dean home we make learning goals.  I have noticed over the past few years a divergence between our long term goals (about things like virtue, compassion, and work ethic) and our yearly short term goals (about things like math and spelling and science).  So this year we decided on four subjects that we thought would best integrate the short term and long term goals…

This year all of our learning is focused on these four topics: love for God, love for family, love for others, and love for learning.  So while writing to Grandma will fulfill the need for writing, spelling and grammar lessons, it is most importantly a means of loving others.  While painting is a wonderful creative thing for a preschooler to do, it is primarily a manifestation of the beauty that they Creator has instilled in the heart of a child.  We learn to love God by all that is beautiful in this world.  Learning plumbing is very useful life skill but is above all a method of being able to love and care for our family.

So, while not all days have this relaxed pace, and while it’s not all roses, (We have had the chance to learn about reacting with grace when our beads spill all over the floor this morning!) we are enjoying the day to day method to this madness.  It reminds me of what I have been reading in Charlotte Mason’s books lately…

“Method implies two things – a way to an end, and step-by-step progress in that way.  Further, the following of a method implies an idea, a mental image, of the end or object to be arrived at.  What do you propose that education shall effect in and for your child?  Again, method is natural; easy, yielding, unobtrusive, simple as the ways of Nature herself; yet, watchful, careful, all-pervading, all-compelling.  Method, with the end of education in view, presses the most unlikely matters into service to bring about that end; but with no more tiresome mechanism that the sun employs when it makes the winds to blow and the waters to flow only by shining.” (Home Education, p. 8)

Friends, what do you purpose that education shall effect in and for your child?  I hope that as you search out your purpose in education that you will find it as natural to learn together as a family as it is to enjoy the sun on your faces.  We continue to strive for this depth and this simplicity rolled into one.

Have a great week!


Posted on Leave a comment


Dear Friends,

I trust that the holidays were kind to you.  For us, it was, as usual, a busy time of hustle and bustle.  We enjoyed sharing gifts with our kids, and blessing the rest of our family too.  At first, I struggled this year with even wanting to give gifts to everyone and with scrimping to spend money that was tight.  As we contemplated it, we wanted to give to Jesus on his birthday but did that mean buying lots for everyone but him? 
But then, I realized that He said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)  So we were pleased to be able to make efforts for his birthday and others did the same for us.  Some wonderful “Santa Claus” left gifts for our family at our home just before Christmas.  What a touching treat!  That experience helped me to realize that we wanted to make sure that our family, our kids know that they are our first priority in sharing the love of God. 
So in addition to our traditional stockings and gifts and turkey comas with several different family groups, we enjoyed a couple of neat activities that were new:
We enjoyed a wonderful gathering of friends in which we got to sing some old fashioned Christmas carols to get us “in the mood” to celebrate the coming of the Saviour.  That was so refreshing.  Thank you, Friends!
As well, our oldest daughter made a birthday cake for Jesus and we all sang Happy Birthday to Him.  Then each of us gave a gift of praise to Jesus and blew out one candle.  Afterwards, we each chose a gift from the Samaritan’s Purse catalogue for him.  An excellent birthday party on Christmas day!

What old and new traditions highlighted your holidays, friends?

And what are you looking forward to you for the New Year?
Soon I will post some of the exciting things that I am looking forward to for 2012…  I will resume the Mother Culture posts and am getting into the readings for the next Charlotte Mason meeting…  Then, ever so quickly, homeschool conference season will be upon us and I will look forward to seeing many of you in person at one or another….
Until then…  wishing you all a (belated) Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.