My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Prayer Today

Up until last week, I was feeling good about our Advent preparations. We have the luxury of staying home most days, so we can shield ourselves from much of the hustle and bustle and focus on preparing our hearts. But then we began our travel preparations and busy family gatherings, and my heart started to wander away from where it should be going into the last week of Advent... so tonight I am taking a break from packing and cleaning to breathe and pray.

I pray that this Christmas season will bring my children even closer together. I pray that they recognize the importance of relationship and community, starting with the tiny community of our family and expanding to the community of humankind.

I pray that their personalities will continue to develop as unique individuals, and that nothing in this world makes them second-guess the desires of their hearts. I pray that God will give them strength and courage to walk a path that no one has walked before, to live radically and joyfully for Him.

I pray that they will rest easy all the days of their lives, knowing that they are loved more than they can ever comprehend. 


I pray that they will always recognize Christ in their lives, even if he comes in unexpected, unbelievable ways... like a tiny child in a dirty stable. 

And I pray all of these things for you, too.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Looks Like Learning

Though I frequently use the term "homeschooling" to describe our family's school choice, a more accurate term would probably be "home education" because rarely does our home resemble anything close to a "school" setting. There are no desks, few worksheets, plenty of chaos. In fact, I know for certain I would fail as a teacher in a traditional setting; my organizational skills are nowhere close to what they would need to be to lead a classroom of twenty-five kids! It's a high calling, that one.

So it looks nothing like a classroom, but our home is full to the brim with learning! We have about an hour of dedicated school time each day, sometimes less if the little ones are especially needy, but we fill our time and space with learning opportunities. I thought I'd give you all a sneak peak, via Iphone snapshots, at what learning has looked like in our home so far this year.

Right now I am using the program Five in a Row, in which we read a picture book each day for five days and do different activities related to that book. I have even created my own "Five in a Row" units out of books that happened to interest the kids. If a book is particularly rich we might read it for eight days! If it falls a little flat, we finish it in two or three. One of our favorites was The Story of Ferdinand, during which we experimented with cork, acted out a bullfight, ate olives and other Spanish food, and watched the Disney cartoon version of the story.

Ferdinand the Bull liked to sit just quietly under the cork tree
Does Ferdinand's cork raft hold him up?
Then my mom took the boys to see the play Zen Ties, based on the book of the same name by John J. Muth. We decided to create our own Five in a Row using that book because the kids loved the story! We made our own chicken noodle soup, made panda faces out of paper plates, had our own two-person spelling bee, learned some simple Chinese characters, and (probably most important) talked about how to treat people who are difficult to get along with.


Another one of our favorite resources this year has been the Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. We are working our way through ancient history, and Max is enthralled! The book takes us on a whirlwind tour through thousands of years of history, and the accompanying activity book is chock full of extensions. There are four books in the series, and we plan to return to Volume 1 in four years and dive much deeper into the history. But for now, the boys are enjoying meeting all kinds of exciting people from all different times and places. 

King Max wearing the double crown of Ancient Egypt
Regular visits to the library are an indispensable part of our education. I keep my ear out for topics that the kids want to learn more about and search out books on those topics. Plus we keep a constant stream of new picture books coming in and (often thankfully) going back again. We also use the library as a resource for new CDs and audiobooks. I honestly don't know how I could homeschool without a library card! We have a reading curriculum that I'm using intermittently with Max as his interest in reading increases, plus we are enjoying the Bob Books phonics readers- perfect for my results-oriented, perfectionist son who no longer glances at a book and instantly says, "I can't read it." I have a feeling we will soon have a reader in the house!

For math and science I am not using any formal curriculum, but since I have naturally curious children, the opportunities to learn abound! We did lots of backyard exploring in the fall, but now that we've moved indoors for the colder months, the Legos and chess board are suddenly getting tons of use. I am not joking when I say that I have to pull them away from hours of Lego play for meal times... many days they would forget to eat were it left up to them.

The longer I'm at it, the more I'm convinced that the greatest gift I can give my kids in their education is the time and space to explore. There are many days that I doubt myself and wonder if I should spend more time on worksheets and memorization, then I see them knee-deep in leaves and Legos and I know that they are becoming life-long learners.

I hope you've enjoyed this little peak within our walls. Feel free to drop by and see the chaos in action; the pictures only show a carefully selected piece at a time. In reality we are not always smiling, but we are always learning!

Blind taste-tests: learning about the senses!

Backyard exploration... I had no idea there were so many bugs out there
Playing with math manipulatives: sorting, counting, and building a farm
Our morning routine: breakfast and a game of chess before anyone else wakes up
Have I told you I'm reeeeally bad at chess?
Making up our own math games involving dominoes and playing cards