a humble place https://ahumbleplace.com Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing. Camille Pissarro Mon, 03 Aug 2020 18:42:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://ahumbleplace.com/uploads/2020/07/cropped-chick20trans-32x32.png a humble place https://ahumbleplace.com 32 32 Gentle Kindergarten Math: A Guide to MEP Reception https://ahumbleplace.com/gentle-kindergarten-math-a-guide-to-mep-reception/ https://ahumbleplace.com/gentle-kindergarten-math-a-guide-to-mep-reception/#respond Mon, 03 Aug 2020 17:00:49 +0000 https://ahumbleplace.com/?p=61753 When I was doing research into what to include for math during my son’s kindergarten year, my original intention was to use Arithmetic for Young Children by Horace Grant because I felt it was a little less strenuous than a normal math curriculum and followed a more Charlotte Mason approach. I dutifully printed out all […]

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MEP Reception Guide

When I was doing research into what to include for math during my son’s kindergarten year, my original intention was to use Arithmetic for Young Children by Horace Grant because I felt it was a little less strenuous than a normal math curriculum and followed a more Charlotte Mason approach. I dutifully printed out all of the lessons and put them in a binder, ready for the first day of school. While the questions weren’t particularly difficult, some were a little abstract and after a while, it felt like I was just drilling him with question after question after question. So I decided to look into alternatives.

I had actually found the Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEP) before we began our year and kept it in my back pocket just in case. AmblesideOnline has it listed as a recommended resource for math and it’s free, so when Mr. Grant didn’t work out for us, I decided to try MEP Reception instead.

This is a spiral-approach program that was originally made for 5- to 6-year-old children in Hungary and later translated for use in England. The lessons are wonderfully short and usually involve counting, very simple math operations, coloring, a game, or some kind of hands-on activity. It’s a very gentle program and both of my kids responded extremely well to it. It also prepared my son perfectly for RightStart Level B, which is what we ended up switching to during his first grade year (which my daughter will be starting in the fall!).

One minor setback, however, is that some of the lessons can be a little difficult to understand, so I decided to make a guide walking through all of the lesson plans, which you can find below.

MEP Reception Overview

MEP Reception Guide

There are two parts to MEP Reception. The lesson plans are what you, the teacher, will use to guide your child through the lesson. These are broken down into ten-lesson PDFs that you can download and print out. I do recommend printing these and putting them in a binder (or binding them yourself). though some parents have also just viewed them on a computer screen or tablet when they went through the lesson.

The other part is Copymasters, which are for your student. These are also broken down in ten-lesson PDFs and will be what your child will use for the lesson, though not for every lesson. These will need to be printed out as there are usually activities where the child has to do something on the picture like draw or trace. I like to print a chunk out at a time and I keep them in one of the pockets of my lesson plan binder so I can give them to my student when we’re working on a lesson that needs them. The lesson plan will usually reference which copymaster needs to be used for a specific lesson (you can also click on the blue text and it will show you which picture is being referenced). There are a very few instances where this is not the case and I’ve noted those below.

MEP Reception Guide
Lesson Plan 1 on the left, Copymaster for lessons 1-10 on the right

If you’d like to make your lesson plans binder more complete, you can also print out the General Overview and Guidelines and Introduction to Reception Lessons which give an overview of the philosophy and goals for the year. I’d recommend at least reading these as they provide helpful tips on how to implement the curriculum as well as a little background.

The Lessons

MEP Reception Guide

Each lesson is broken up into a table with different sections. The “R” on the far left of the top of the table indicates that this is Reception. The box in the top middle indicates what you’ll be doing for this lesson; “R” stands for Revise or Review, “C” stands for Core work (which means the main point of the day’s lesson), and “E” stands for Extension, or extra activities that are included. These are purely informational and there’s really nothing that you need to do with these. To the right of that is the number of the lesson.

In the next row you’ll see the activity number and then a time estimate. For the most part, these did not apply to us at all as these were calculated in a schoolroom setting with many kids. In the box to the right of that is the activity you’ll be doing (along with a link to the worksheet for that activity if applicable), and in the far right box is a link to a poster to print for this lesson in a larger classroom setting (I did not use these) and any notes that you may find useful in implementing the activity.

The beauty of MEP is everything is scripted and very easy to implement. There is no rigorous, structured math, but instead, the concepts are taught using simple and fun activities like counting objects in a picture, matching objects, drawing over lines (as a hand exercise), coloring, and playing games. The only work you’ll really need to do is make sure you have the necessary supplies on hand before a lesson starts as well as printing the lesson plans and copymasters and cutting out any game pieces (which are not many). And that’s all there really is to the lesson plans – it’s very simple!

Supplies

There aren’t a whole lot of things you’ll need for most of Reception other than colored pencils and crayons on a regular basis, but there are a few other items you’ll want to have on hand for some of the lessons.

Individual Lesson Notes

There are a few lessons throughout Reception that can be a little confusing or difficult to understand, so I’m including notes on all of the ones I ran into that it took me a little while to figure out. If there are any not listed here that you’re unsure how to implement, feel free to contact me or leave a comment and I’ll add them to the list!

For each activity, I will reference it by the lesson plan number followed by a decimal and then the activity number. Eg. for lesson plan 4, activity 2, I will use 4.2.

1.1 Free Choice Play

This is basically a free time that may have been used just for the first day of school for children still getting acclimated to being in a school environment. You can either skip this one entirely or do some kind of math-related activity or game. My kids really enjoy these color cubes, but you could really use just about anything here.

2.2 Ben’s Toys

The linked worksheet (Lesson Plan 2 Activity 2) is for the second part of the lesson. For the first question, you can use the worksheet from 1.2.

Also, for the question, “How many cars did you not color in, H?” the answer is actually 1.

3.1 Playing with sticks

You will need colored sticks for this activity.

5.1 Playing the family in front of the class

If you do not have enough students in your house to make all the members of the Reception family (like us), another option is to print out the worksheet from 1.1 (this works better on thicker cardstock paper), cut out each member of the family, make a little loop stand for them, and staple or tape it together (you can see how I did it to the left). This was actually helpful to have for several lessons.

5.2 Placing, drawing items
(also 10.2, 15.2)

You will need a sheet of paper with lines on it for this activity and a few others. You can download one here.

5.3 Game 1 (Teddy bears)

As with all the games, you will want to make sure you have these printed in advance and all the little pieces cut out and ready. If you have multiple students going through Reception, you can save the games in ziplock bags or envelopes to use again in later years. My kids also enjoyed playing them outside of math time. 🙂 For the counters, we used glass pebbles.

6.3 Map (Interlude)

These are finger activities that are included throughout Reception and I did not do them with my kids as they had this kind of exercise outside of math time. Feel free to do them or something similar (eg. scissor skills or tape activities) if you’d like to include it in your math time.

7.1 Picnic

When you get to the questions that begin with “Will there be enough…” (sandwiches or apples), allow them to answer that question with a guess first and then have them join the food to the people.

11.1 Going Home

For the “How many blades of grass do you see?” question, the answer (5) is based on the five clumps of grass in the lower right. Your student might count all of them, but a better way to word it might be home many clumps of grass rather than individual blades.

16.1 Free choice play

This is the same as 1.1. You can do the same as you did with that lesson, or I also let my kids pick a math game we had already played from Reception to play during this time.

16.2 Birthday Party 2

You will need to re-use the image from 15.1 here or you can print the poster instead.

20.2 Snail

You will need scissors, construction paper, and either a glue stick or Scotch tape (the tape worked better for us). This was one of my kids’ favorite activities. 🙂

23.1 Song or ditty for counting
(also 28.2)

You could really use any math song here but you’ll want to stop at six. For my daughter I used Yellow is the Sun from RightStart.

At the end of this lesson (Drawing six sticks), use the worksheet from 23.2 and the area just under the hands with the lines (or “sticks”).

23.3 By the water

For the question about how many storks there are, the image actually contains two.

25.2 Tortoise

You will need a walnut, scissors, construction paper, and glue for this activity.

28.1 Drawing seven sticks

You can use the worksheet from 23.2 to draw another stick.

30.1 Parts of the day

For the question, “What are they likely to be eating?” the answer is listed as “milk with roll,” but both I and my kids thought it looked more like a banana.

31.3 Mugs

For “Describe its position on the right-hand side,” the answer should be low-right if your student drew the mugs to match the way they’re laid out on the left side.

32.3 Folding a dog

You will need scissors for this activity. The easiest way to do this is to print out the animal outlines activity and have the child cut out the dog (first shape in the second row). If you can increase the size in your print settings, that’s even better. As an even easier alternative, you could make an origami dog as well.

33.1 Drawing eight sticks

You can use the worksheet from 33.2 to draw another stick.

37.2 Animals from plasticine

You will need plasticine for this activity. I did not have any on hand and didn’t want to buy it just for this, so we skipped this project.

38.2 Game 6 (Birds)

The instructions mention and there is a picture of two buttons or discs joined together with a string to form the bird “feet.” I just used two glass pebbles and my kids alternated with one they moved forward while imagining they were little bird feet. This worked well for us.

39.1 Zoo

In the second part of this activity, you count “circles on the black/white board altogether…,” you could also just count the fingers Ben is showing on the worksheet.

For the question of “How many animals are there altogether?” there are actually nine.

41.2 Six items

For the question, “What is beside the scarf?” the answer is actually an umbrella and tulip.

44.1 In the Meadow

For drawing sticks this time, you can just have your student draw the blue and red sticks in the margin of the worksheet for this activity.

44.2 Dots in boxes

Your student will need to reference the worksheet from 44.1 in order to know how many dots to draw in each box.

46.2 Steam engine

When counting circles that are in the picture, the answer includes the ones that are inside of the wheel shapes. At the end of this activity, when you count how many shapes have been used to build the train, the inside circle is not included in that answer.

49.2 Ten ladybirds

The question “How many are in the side rows altogether?” would be better worded as “How many are in the top and bottom rows altogether?”

60.1 Zoo

This one is just confusing in general and I think it’s best just to allow your student to make their best guess as to which animal you’re asking them to count. You can also try the folding activity at the end, but we skipped this also.


I know the list can look a little daunting, but overall, I really do believe MEP Reception is a wonderful math option to include in the kindergarten year! And even though we switched to RightStart in Year 1 and have used that ever since, I still chose to use MEP Reception with my daughter when it was her turn for kindergarten.

If you do decide to look for an alternative to this, RightStart Level A is another option. It’s a big investment in the beginning, but we have used all of the manipulatives for several years now (and will continue to do so with both kids) and I don’t regret that expense at all.

I hope this list has been helpful! Let me know if I left anything out!

Other posts in this series…

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Weekend Entertainment: 31 July 2020 https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-31-july-2020/ https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-31-july-2020/#respond Fri, 31 Jul 2020 07:00:29 +0000 https://ahumbleplace.com/?p=61673 We got out for another hike this week at a very local place that we haven’t been to in a few years and as we were making our way along the trail, I absolutely could not figure out why we haven’t been there in a while. I think it’s going to have to be a […]

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We got out for another hike this week at a very local place that we haven’t been to in a few years and as we were making our way along the trail, I absolutely could not figure out why we haven’t been there in a while. I think it’s going to have to be a spot we visit more often.

On to the links!

Your Morning Basket #76 Homeschooling Kindergarten In case you missed it, I was on Pam Barnhill’s podcast earlier this week talking all about Morning Time during the kindergarten year!

Mother & Child Are Linked At The Cellular Level “It’s now known that cells from a developing fetus cross the placenta, allowing the baby’s DNA to become part of the mother’s body. These fetal cells persist in a woman’s body into her old age. (If she has been pregnant with a male child it’s likely she’ll have some Y-chromosomes drifting around for a few decades too). This is true even if the baby she carried didn’t live to be born. The cells of that child stay with her, resonating in ways that mothers have known intuitively throughout time.” I love this for so many reasons.

FlyLady I found FlyLady years and years ago and used her cleaning routines off and on for a while. When I had kids, cleaning kind of fell off the map and I would only just panic clean every so often when company was coming. In more recent years, I used another cleaning routine that worked well in our old house, but not so much in our current, larger house. So this week I decided to dust off the old FlyLady muscles and started doing her routine again. I make a few modifications, but I’d say the week has been a success so far as all the bathrooms are clean and I managed to declutter a few spots also. I love a clean house.

The Fast Fashion Fix: 20 Ways to Stop Buying New Clothes for Ever “Less than 2% of clothing workers globally earn a fair living wage, with most trapped in systemic poverty at almost every stage of the long and shadowy supply chains. While we enjoy the ease, speed and abundance, it’s they who are paying the price.” This is another reason I love thredUP! Charlotte Mason even had something to say about this:

The young lady who thinks of the persons of others will not hurry her dressmaker for a new party frock which must be ready by such a date, if the dressmaker’s assistants have to sit up until midnight to get it done. She uses her Imagination, and sees, on the one hand, girls with pale faces and tired eyes; and, on the other, bright girls sewing with interest and pleasure at the pretty frock. Indeed, this sort of care not to do bodily hurt to other people should guide us in many of the affairs of life––should, for example, forbid us to buy at the cheapest shops; for most likely some class of work-people have been ‘sweated’ to produce the cheap article. A fair sense of the value of things helps us much in leading the just life.

vol 4 pg 141

From the archives…

Simple Kindergarten Morning Time for Homeschoolers When my son started kindergarten back in 2016, I wasn’t sure what Morning Time was. Little did I know, it would end up being one of our favorite parts of our school time.

(2018) First Grade Homeschool Morning Time Another peek at how Morning Time looked in our homeschool when my son was in first grade.

(2017) Charlotte Mason Picture Study Aid: Peter Paul Rubens Another free Picture Study Aid from the AmblesideOnline artist study rotation!

(2012) From Pinterest to Real Life. Back when I had free time, I used to try a few Pinterest pins at home and reported on my results. Here is one of those posts.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Simple Kindergarten Morning Time for Homeschoolers https://ahumbleplace.com/kindergarten-morning-time/ https://ahumbleplace.com/kindergarten-morning-time/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2020 07:00:00 +0000 http://ahumbleplace.com/?p=8172 When I first sat down to plan out my son’s kindergarten year, I had no idea what Morning Time was. I think I had seen it mentioned on a few sites, but knowing that it wasn’t “required” as part of our chosen curriculum (AmblesideOnline or AO), as well as the fact that the thought of implementing yet […]

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When I first sat down to plan out my son’s kindergarten year, I had no idea what Morning Time was. I think I had seen it mentioned on a few sites, but knowing that it wasn’t “required” as part of our chosen curriculum (AmblesideOnline or AO), as well as the fact that the thought of implementing yet another homeschooling “thing” into our schedule with rules and requirements was daunting at best, I decided to skip it.

Little did I know that those mothers who homeschooled multiple children for several years were on to something (imagine that!). When I actually started scheduling all of this stuff and wondering where certain things would fit, Morning Time kept popping up its little head in the back of my mind, humbly reminding me that perhaps it could be of assistance. How could I get all of these “riches” in when there wasn’t something really tangible to do? Should I skip the folk song? Or the hymn? And what about recitation? Picture study was a little more tangible as there was something to sit and look at, but the others? Not so much.

Around the same time, I also started listening to the Mason Jar podcast, co-hosted by Cindy Rollins who used Morning Time heavily when homeschooling her own nine children. She kept mentioning Morning Time and how she used it in her family and I decided to give it another look to see how we could work it into our schedule.

I think when I finally understood that there aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules for Morning Time, I figured there was no risk in at least trying to make my own version. I ended up loving it and have used it ever since.

What is morning time?

Morning Time works so perfectly for any size family. If you have one student, it can be a good time to make sure some of the shorter things you’d like to cover, like picture study, composer study, hymns and folk songs, etc., don’t fall through the cracks. For larger families with multiple children, it’s also a good time to include several subjects, texts, poems, etc. that you want to cover with all of your students at the same time. I also like the idea of it being more fluid and flexible than the rest of the schedule, meaning that what’s being covered, read, sung, or memorized can change from month to month. You can even includes things like extra readings or memorization that are important to your family but not necessarily part of your curriculum spine.

Basically, Morning Time is whatever you want it to be.

I have also found that it’s an excellent way for us to transition from breakfast/chore time to our school time. Especially for children of the kindergarten age who sometimes struggle with transitioning from one activity to another, this is our way to say, okay, we’re changing gears and gathering in our school room to start our lesson time. Let’s take it slow and start with some simple but calming things like praying, singing, and reading poetry. I have also observed that often when we skip Morning Time for whatever reason, our lesson time is a little less peaceful, even as my students have gotten older.

The Routine

When my son started school, I began with an extremely basic Morning Time routine as I still wanted to keep things very short for his kindergarten year. As I’ve mentioned before that his entire kindergarten lesson time from beginning to end was about 45 minutes, with about half of that being Morning Time. As both of my kids get older and can sit for longer periods of time, I do plan to add other things so it will get longer. I’ve seen some homeschoolers adding chapter books (not narrated), memorizations like the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, and sentence diagramming for grammar during this time. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves, but as I laid it out below, this was perfect for his kindergarten year.So here is how our very simple Morning Time routine looked….

Prayer (daily)

We always start our school time with prayer even when we skip Morning Time. This is a way to emphasize that the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator (which takes some pressure off mom)!

Doxology

This is the standard doxology, sung:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Bible Reading (daily)

We read one story per day. For kindergarten, I have used The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Children of God Storybook Bible, and The Children’s Story Bible during this time, usually reading one story per day. I think The Jesus Storybook Bible is perfect for pre-school-aged children and The Children’s Story Bible is perfect for kindergarten. When I went through the latter with my daughter during her kindergarten year, we read three stories from the New Testament the first three days of the week and then a story from the Old Testament on the last day.

Folksong (twice/week)

I originally thought I might skip the folksongs, which are part of the AO schedule, because I wasn’t sure why to include them. However, thinking back on my own elementary school days, I actually do fondly remember the cheesy Stephen Foster songs we’d sing in music class (with the boys screaming “REFRAIN” when the chorus came around) and even all these years later, I can still conjure up at least most of the words to Old Dan Tucker. It’s part of folk history, American and otherwise, and it’s also kind of fun. 🙂

This can be very loose and doesn’t necessarily have to follow a specific curriculum, though they can be helpful if you’re not sure what to include. The AO folksong rotation is a good place to find suggestions. I know many AO families like to use the free version of the songs on YouTube or elsewhere, but at usually only around a dollar per song on Amazon (or free on Freegal!), I like to buy them so I can put them on the kids’ little music players during the term and they can listen whenever they want. We also already have a lot of Elizabeth Mitchell’s music, which are mostly folk songs, and I found these to be perfect for the kindergarten year. For my son, we did the following:

I usually alternate this with our hymn so we sing each twice per week.

Hymn (twice/week)

This was another part of the AO schedule that I thought about skipping, but again, it came down to memories for me. The church I attended when I was young sang more traditional hymns and I loved being able to offer these to my kids as well as the church we attend now doesn’t do this. I also download this through Amazon or Freegal and put it on the kids’ music players as well. Here’s what we did during my son’s kindergarten year:

Again, we alternate folksongs and hymns, so we sing each twice per week.

Charlotte Mason Morning Time Year 1 Recap - ahumbleplace.com

Nursery Rhyme

We read one nursery rhyme per day from The Real Mother Goose. My daughter especially liked this part each day.

Picture Study (once/week – alternated with composer study/poem recitation review/foreign language song)

Picture study, which is the practice of allowing students to develop a relationship with a piece of art, is perfect for children and students of any age. It’s so simple that it really does work well for even your youngest students and my daughter participated in my son’s picture study sessions even before she was in kindergarten. We look at six works from one artist over the course of a 12-week term with two weeks per piece (I offer picture study aids and prints for this purpose, or you can also use the AO artist study rotation).

I have it laid out in detail here, but to summarize, in the first week let your students look at a piece of art for a few minutes quietly on their own, then remove if from their view and have them tell back to you what they remember about the piece. If this isn’t a practice you’ve been doing in your house prior to kindergarten, you may need to model this for them a few times and that’s okay. Also, it’s not meant to be a quiz, so you don’t need to make sure they’re remembering every part of the painting! This is really just their way of telling you what parts stood out to them and what they noticed in particular, which will allow them to embed that piece in their memory. Then you can flip it back over and talk about it together.

In the second week, look at the piece together again and have them tell you anything they remember about it from your previous discussion. You can also ask open-ended questions like, “how do you think it feels in this scene (eg. hot, cold, wet, dry, etc.)?” or “what do you think you would hear if you were in this scene?” or “what do you think they’re talking about or that person is looking at/thinking about?” These are just questions to really get them to think more about the piece in a personal way. Also, it’s okay if they say they don’t like it! Regardless of how they feel about it, they’re still developing a relationship with that piece.

I usually alternate this with other parts of Morning Time, like composer study, poem review, or reviewing a foreign language song, so we only do it once per week.

Composer Study (once/week – alternated with composer study/poem recitation review/foreign language song)

My favorite way to do composer study at this age is to watch a live recording of a performance and then talk about what we heard. I usually ask the kids what they stood out to them in the music, what instruments they remember hearing, and how the music “felt” (meaning, was it happy? sad? upbeat? dramatic? etc.). You can check the AO composer rotation to see who the composer is for a given term and then find a playback of a live recording of any of their pieces (it doesn’t necessarily have to follow the listed pieces) on YouTube.

I usually only have us watch it for about five minutes and if it’s a particularly long recording (which they usually are), we’ll break it up over several weeks. I also add these to my kids’ music players.

Foreign Language Song (once/week – alternated with composer study/poem recitation review/foreign language song)

If you’d like to add some foreign language exposure to your Morning Time, a simple way to do this is to listen to songs in your chosen language. We focused on one song per month, listening to the recording and singing along if we could. You can find many foreign language folk songs on YouTube or, if you’re interested in Spanish, we have really enjoyed Diez Deditos and De Colores. This is another song I add to the kids’ music players.

Poem (daily)

Walter Scott said, “Teach your children poetry; it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary.” And so we read a poem every day, focusing on one poet per week, from Favorite Poems Old and New. This is just a simple reading with no commentary (natural discussion is fine) or narration requirements.

We also have one poem that we work on for recitation each month. On average, depending on the length of the poem, it took us about four to six weeks to memorize one. These are the ones we did for my son’s kindergarten year:

I have a special notebook where I write down all of the poems we’ve learned for recitation along with the date that each child recited it. We usually read a poem we’ve already learned from this once per week (see how we rotate this above with picture study/composer study/foreign language song) during morning time. Obviously you’ll have a lot of repetition with this when you first start in kindergarten, but it’s fun to read back on ones we’ve learned in previous years.

Lord’s Prayer (daily)

We end our Morning Time with the Lord’s Prayer. If your kids don’t have this memorized, you reciting it with them every day is a great way to learn it!

Benediction (daily)

This is a standard benediction with you saying, “The Lord be with you, (insert child’s name here),” and them responding with, “And also with you.”

Other Items

Of course, there are other things I could easily put in here that we do during our day outside of Morning time…copywork (covered in detail here and another good time to listen to your composer), Bible verse memorization (we do this before breakfast), literature reading, etc. But I liked to keep it simple since our kindergarten time was already very short. I know Morning Time will change as we get further into this homeschooling thing and I’m excited to think about what else we might be able to add in the future!

Other posts in this series…

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Weekend Entertainment: 24 July 2020 https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-24-july-2020/ https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-24-july-2020/#respond Fri, 24 Jul 2020 21:30:00 +0000 https://ahumbleplace.com/?p=60773 We had a little bit of a slower week this week, for which I am thankful! On Wednesday, we took a last-minute trip down to Rock Ledge Ranch with some friends and I’m so glad we decided to make the trek even though I was really wavering on it. The oldest daughter in the family […]

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We had a little bit of a slower week this week, for which I am thankful! On Wednesday, we took a last-minute trip down to Rock Ledge Ranch with some friends and I’m so glad we decided to make the trek even though I was really wavering on it. The oldest daughter in the family is one of the docents there, so it was neat to be able to see her in her period costume as well as her presentation on the history of the place. 🙂

I also finally finished up my latest CPQ article this week, so I feel a little lighter having that load off my shoulders. This means I will have time to work on the Titian Picture Study Aid, which I hope to have available in August!

I also received a shipment of prints this week, so a few items are back in stock! These include the Henry Ossawa Tanner Picture Study Prints, Antoine Watteau Picture Study Prints, and a small number of Advent Art Devotion Prints!

And now for the links…

6 Things No One Tells You About Homeschooling… This! This! All of this! Written by a former public school teacher, this is excellent advice for those thinking about homeschooling!

How to Make Sunprints (& Who Was Anna Atkins?) I definitely think this is a handicraft to be in a future version of the kindergarten curriculum!

Get 3 FREE lessons from my homeopathy curriculum for kids This curriculum looks absolutely amazing and a wonderful option for handicrafts if you’re at all interested in homeopathy. I’ve been dabbling in it for years and was so glad to see she was offering a free sample!

14 books about nature to inspire your next outdoor adventure Another one from Modern Mrs. Darcy this week. I’ve read #2 and found it to be very, very strange. But several of the others need to be added to my TBR list!

From the archives…

Nature Study with Small Children This week on the blog, I have a post from my friend Joy Cherrick all about nature study with small children, including why to do it (and how it can bless you too!), how to do it, what your role as a parent is in that practice, and what the child’s role is as well.
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A few of my favorite points…. “…going out into nature with your children is not JUST good for them. It is good for you too, and it is good for your relationship with them.”
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And…. “Your goal is NOT to make them love nature study. It is NOT to force them to memorize lists of trees or flowers or seeds. It is not to drill the kingdoms or phylum or species of each thing they encounter. You will be leading them to nature.”

(2019) Charlotte Mason Picture Study Aid: Pieter Bruegel the Elder This is one of my favorite picture study aids to date, especially The Parable of the Sower and The Fall of Icharus!

(2016) Charlotte Mason “Ourselves” Quotes (Part 3) This is a continuation of collecting and commenting on quotes from Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves (which remains my favorite of her six-volume series). “Love, and the service of love, are the only things that count.” – vol 4 pg 155

(2015) Caring for the Unemployed Family I wrote this a year after my husband had been laid off from his job of ten years and had yet to find a new job. If you have someone in your life who has recently lost their job (which I think quite a few of us do), here are some tips on how to ease their load.

(2014) The Shadows “The ironic thing about all of this is that there is often more beauty in the shadow side than there is in the dark side. The struggles, the imperfections, the ‘realness’ of not having it all together are what attract us to one another when we are being honest with ourselves. We are saying, ‘this is me,’ and being accepted as we are, shadows and all, is how grace and unconditional love work.”

Have a lovely weekend!

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Nature Study with Small Children https://ahumbleplace.com/nature-study-with-small-children/ https://ahumbleplace.com/nature-study-with-small-children/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2020 21:17:32 +0000 https://ahumbleplace.com/?p=60439 Today I have a guest post from my friend Joy Cherrick that I know will be helpful for parents thinking about doing nature study with their kindergarten (or younger!) children. Joy is a homeschooling mother of 6 following the Charlotte Mason philosophy. She has a passion for introducing children and adults to the beauty of […]

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Nature Study with Small Children - ahumbleplace.com #charlottemason #naturestudy #homeschool

Today I have a guest post from my friend Joy Cherrick that I know will be helpful for parents thinking about doing nature study with their kindergarten (or younger!) children. Joy is a homeschooling mother of 6 following the Charlotte Mason philosophy. She has a passion for introducing children and adults to the beauty of nature and shares her simplified nature study plans on her website Naturestudyhacking.com (which we have used in our homeschool and love!). She also authors a monthly eNewsletter, Naturalist Monthly, where she shares nature journal prompts, nature lore, and other ideas for parents and children to learn side by side about the world they live in. You can see a sample lesson she provides for flowers here, or learn how to germinate beans in your window here!


I will be a lion
And you shall be a bear,
And each of us will have a den
Beneath a nursery chair;
And you must growl and growl and growl,
And I will roar and roar,
And then–why, then–you’ll growl again,
And I will roar some more!

Wild Beasts, by Evaleen Stein, 1863-1923

Mother as a Guide

When I first began trying to figure out just exactly HOW to do Nature Study with my children, I heard mothers say to do it casually: “just do it when you are outside with your children” or “it will just happen as you go.” Well, friends, that NEVER happened. I was always wrangling or distracted by one thing or another. In addition, it’s too overwhelming to go out into The Wide World without a plan. 

You need a plan.

Your plan will begin with one topic to look for when you go out. Trees? Birds? Wildflowers? Clouds? Weather? Pick ONE! (Only one, please.) You may want to get all fancy and add a subcategory. Don’t do that, not at first. You need to actually get STARTED studying nature, and choosing ONE topic to study will help you get focused and have a sense of purpose to your time spent in nature. This is especially true if you are new to a region or new to learning to call things by name.

Once you choose your topic, say “trees,” you will notice how many trees in your neighborhood that you can’t name. That is OK! In fact, that means you are on the right track. Humility is essential to learning. From here, you will want to read a little bit about the topic you selected. (If you can’t find time, then find a book you will read to your children ABOUT your topic so that you can all begin learning about it together.) The absolute best place for a mother to start is to read the section in Handbook of Nature Study on the topic you’ve selected. This may take two or three sittings (remember you are only reading about ONE TOPIC [don’t get overwhelmed thinking that you have to read the whole tome!]), but it is full of worthy information that will help you talk with your children about how trees live and grow and how trees differ from one another, etc. 

If you only have time to read to your child to learn about trees, I recommend The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grownups. This book will explain how a tree eats, what photosynthesis is, and it also has some delightful stories about some of the more common North American Trees. As you read to your children, it is really best if you only read one or two pages from this book at a time. This is because they introduce new concepts and explain some of the scientific terms. Sometimes that’s cool and sometimes nobody but mother cares. This too is just fine. Your education matters too! You can take some of this new knowledge on the road with you.

With your book learning under your belt, it is now time to go outside WITH your children. Charlotte Mason emphasizes this in Home Education, and I know that sometimes it is easy to ignore this as “charming” or “idealistic.” But, going out into nature with your children is not JUST good for them. It is good for you too, and it is good for your relationship with them. I enjoy taking a daily walk with my children. We don’t go far, just around our block. But this little habit has brought so much restoration and healing to us and has saved many days.

Let’s review:

  1. Pick the ONE topic you are going to study this term or year.
  2. Read up a little about this topic so that you get acquainted with basic terms and categories. You can focus on how it eats and reproduces.
  3. Go outside WITH your children.

Now that you are outside with your children, let’s talk about your attitude. Are you dressed properly for the weather? If you are going into the woods, are you wearing the proper shoes so that you aren’t squeamish about meeting various wild creatures? We all have varying levels of comfort here, so let’s assume you are walking on a sidewalk in your suburban ‘hood. Please be dressed comfortably for the weather and elements you will face. (If you need more outerwear, I’ve had good luck just asking friends if they have unused things like raincoats or umbrellas. Even rain boots and snow gear can be easily found at thrift shops or online consignment for great prices. This is an investment in your family. If you have the right gear, you will find a way for your children to get the right gear as well).

Attire is the first step, but you will also need to remember that you are a co-learner with your children. Your wonder and curiosity will rub off on them, if it’s genuine. I think that a simple desire to learn is all that is required. 

Please do not be a stick-in-the-mud or have a grumpy attitude for the entire outing. Set your expectations ahead of time. Let them know how to meet them. And, if they are very young or very new to exploring, then it may be helpful to spend the first five minutes practicing your guidelines. (For instance, they may not cross the street without you. Or no running ahead where they can’t be seen. Or, you may need to let them know that they are not allowed to play in the creek during this trip because you are in the middle of the school day and they will be free to come back after lessons, etc.) This is basic classroom management, but when it’s our own children, it’s very easy to forget that we need to tell them what we expect of them and then we end up putting out fires instead of enjoying the outing.

Now that you are properly dressed and you are wearing a smile on your tired face you are ready to head outside and see what comes your way. Though field days are lovely and necessary, I think that a regular outing around the place where you live can teach you and your family so much about the seasons in your area and plants that grow there. You may even end up making dear friends. 

We did just this when we lived on top of a mountain. We met a woman who has become a good friend, and she kept the most glorious garden. She had many native species and had resolved to have blooms in her garden for Spring, Summer and Fall. Because of our daily walks, we were able to learn the names of many plants and birds and see many that I had only learned the name of and never met in person. We even got to see some monarch caterpillars “in the wild” eating milkweed leaves. What a gift for us all!

Mother as co-learner

Now that you are outside with your children and you have a topic, it is time to talk about guiding and studying alongside your children. You certainly won’t have all of the answers and this is good. One way to model humility is to actually be brought low enough to realize how much we truly don’t know. Which is so very much. One phrase that will work on your own mind and the minds of your children is…

“I wonder…”

When you wonder about things out loud, it can become a bit of a game. 

This is not time to get out your phone and start googling.

I know it is tempting, but for now, just wonder. Let the questions you encounter out in the wild work on you all during your time outside together. When you get home or have a natural break, and the question is still working on your minds, then you can see if there is an answer. Sometimes there are only theories. That is fun too.

You may wonder: “I wonder what makes some mushrooms red and some white?” or “I wonder what a wasp eats?” Or, “that flower is beautiful, I wonder what it’s called?” (You can take a photo and look it up later.)

One time, we had been reading about bugs and had just learned about a spit bug. On our walk, we saw a stalk of grass at about eye level with a wad of spit resting between the stalk and the leaf blade. I was excited and said, “I wonder if there is a bug hiding inside that glob of spit!” I broke off a piece of grass and inserted it into the spittle. Sure enough, a little black bug was hiding inside. We returned him to his place, but we were now empowered with new information. We now can pass by a spit glob on a branch or grass and know that the little occupant is hiding away inside.

As a student, you will be making your own connections. You may even get excited enough to learn a few things on your own. This is great! Don’t feel like you have to deliver a lecture to your scholars about all that you’ve learned. Some of your new knowledge will be gradually shared over time. Sometimes, you may assault your husband or friends with your new information. Great! It’s fun to learn new things. Just don’t get too frustrated if your scholars don’t seem to care as much as you. In our home, enthusiasm catches, but it seems to have a lag-time. Perhaps it’s three months? Perhaps it will be years and years. But you loving and learning about nature will, if nothing else, teach them what it is to learn about and love a thing.

The Child’s Role in Nature Study

Child as Observer

It’s important to understand what your goals are for your scholars as you study nature together. In general, your main objective is that they will be able to notice the world around them with the hope that they will be able to call trees and flowers by name and have a general understanding of the way God’s creation works in harmony (or cacophony) with one another.

Your goal is NOT to make them love nature study. It is NOT to force them to memorize lists of trees or flowers or seeds. It is not to drill the kingdoms or phylum or species of each thing they encounter. You will be leading them to nature. The leading is what you can control. They will take what they will take. What affections they develop are not up to you. Don’t be discouraged if they aren’t excited about what you are excited about. That’s normal. 

As you go out into nature and study it, remember that the chief objective for your scholars is that they would become aware of their surroundings and be able to observe nature for themselves. You may play a game if that is helpful.

In Home Education, Charlotte Mason also explains a memory game to help encourage observation and also develop oral composition skills. Lead the children into nature. Then, ask them to look around at all they see. Tell them to be careful to make a note of everything. Then, close their eyes and describe it all back to you. Take turns and see who can catch the most details and explain through all your five senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? What could you taste? 

Your child’s role here is to simply be aware and observe. It is a delight to find that children can often remember much more than we can. They can even help us discover new things right under our noses.

Child as Co-learner 

The most satisfying consequence of my decision to become more intentional with Nature Study has been seeing my children taking the reins of their own learning. Whether it’s pouring over encyclopedias or mimicking my Nature Journal entries, I can tell that they see me. But they have their own interests as well.

Sometimes a child’s interest will be piqued during an outing or a reading. We can encourage or dampen this tiny spark. As you would for a friend, you will be able to learn and grow and even give your child tools to learn more. 

We’ve found that having books about the topic we are studying prominently displayed is important. Sometimes I’ll face out these books on the shelf which makes these books more likely to be picked up. Then, my readers are able to read for themselves about their areas of interest. Often, they will read to non-readers and help them also gain more knowledge apart from Mother. This self-education in a non-academic area is so important that it will also spread into other subjects. 

Often, we will be learning about something and need to head to the map to see where in the world it comes from. From that discovery, we may find out about a war or a historic event that happened in that region, and this may lead us to learning yet another thing. Often, our studies are not easily tucked away into neat little boxes, but they bleed over into many subjects.

A Child Set Free (with purpose)

Going outside with your children for 10-20 minutes each day can’t be too much. Mothers need the sunshine and fresh air just as well as children. We also need to give our children time where they are free from our watchful eye to explore, climb, dig, etc.

In America, it is increasingly difficult to find children playing outside in neighborhoods together. Most of them are tucked safely inside their homes, glued to one blue light or another. If you are reading this, you are likely one of the few parents who crave less screen time and more time outside for your children. The first step to getting them comfortable playing outside for long stretches is for you to be outside with them. Often, what happens when you go out with your children is they see that the outside isn’t so bad. In fact, it is much more exciting than the walls inside. If they are having trouble staying outside, be sure they are properly dressed and go outside with them at first. Then you can slowly wean them off of needing you. Hand them a tool such as a shovel or a rope. Both of these can provide hours of interesting play for most children.

If you use screens regularly in your home, you may need to require a certain amount of time outside prior to allowing access to a screen. I have a hard rule that on beautiful days everyone must be outside. If I need to be in the kitchen or attend to the baby, I’m usually longing to join them because great weather refreshes me to the bone.

When children are outside without you, they are able to experiment and play in a way that is different from when you are on your walk with them. They may discover a bird’s nest or an ant climbing up their favorite tree. Sometimes my children will stop to watch the birds near our home and thus learn about their manners and habits. These unstructured moments are so valuable to the developing child because it allows them to not only learn about the world God created first-hand, but they are developing their executive function — they are making decisions for themselves about what they will or will not do. This is a skill that is almost non-existent in most students graduating from college. They’ve spent their entire childhood being told what to do and where to go so that when the real world requires that they make some decisions, many adults flounder. It’s very frustrating for employers looking to hire good people.

Anyway, let them play and get dirty and don’t hang over them assaulting them with stories about broken bones or broken necks. If you are that worried, set some limits, say your prayers and trust them to stay within the boundaries you’ve laid out. All will be well. And even when it isn’t, all will be well.

In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.  Psalm 95:4-5

Other posts in this series…

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Weekend Entertainment: 17 July 2020 https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-17-july-2020/ https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-17-july-2020/#respond Fri, 17 Jul 2020 07:00:00 +0000 https://ahumbleplace.com/?p=60078 The kids spent the first three days of this week at an annual “Little House on the Prairie” camp that one of the girls who used to be in our homeschool co-op (now graduated!) puts on each year during the summer in her back yard. I honestly think this is the highlight of their summer […]

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The kids spent the first three days of this week at an annual “Little House on the Prairie” camp that one of the girls who used to be in our homeschool co-op (now graduated!) puts on each year during the summer in her back yard. I honestly think this is the highlight of their summer and they get so excited when the email goes out to make it official. It was quite a bit different this year with everything happening outside, a smaller number of kids, lots of hand sanitizing and washing, and masks for the leaders, but they still loved it. I had plans of getting a lot of work done while they were learning the Coronavirus version of the heel-toe-polka (with no touching, which was kind of comical), but ended up chatting with other moms instead. This is good for my soul, but not my to-do list so now I’m feeling very behind. Fortunately, we don’t have any other big plans for the rest of the summer (other than a possible quick camping trip), so hopefully some catching up can be done!

I’ve received a lot of emails lately asking about the Titian Picture Study Aid. I really, really hope to have it up soon, but I can only work on it as time permits. I do have other commitments that are currently a higher priority, but my plan is to have it available by the end of August!

And now for the links!

Choose Mission Over Maintenance “We only get one life. And with it, we are wise to choose mission over maintenance. We end our lives most fulfilled when we seek to discover our purpose and then focus our energy on it. Mark Twain once said, ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’ And I have begun to recognize the third most important day is the day we throw off everything that keeps us from fulfilling that purpose—the moment we choose mission over maintenance.”

Preparing a Charlotte Mason Schedule I haven’t had a chance to actually sit down and work on much of our schedule for the coming school year, but I have found this series from Nicole Williams to be very helpful. I will be trying to wrap my head around scheduling TWO students instead of just one this fall and that is a little intimidating to me!

Mr. Printables – My Weather Station I made one of these many years ago when B was just doing his little “preschool.” He has recently shown an interest in weather again, so we pulled it out, dusted it off, made a few repairs, and it’s now hanging on his wall. He faithfully updates it at various intervals throughout the day.

MightyNest MightyFix I heard about this little monthly subscription box years ago, but finally decided recently that I wanted to try it. Given that it’s only $10/month (or $3 for the first month with code MIGHTYNOW), there isn’t much risk and I love the idea of getting little surprises in the mail each month!

20 travel memoirs to take you around the world (from the comfort of your couch) In case you’re forgoing a summer vacation trip, try one of these books to travel vicariously!

From the blog…

Homeschooling Kindergarten in Light of COVID-19 I’m continuing my series on a Charlotte Mason kindergarten with this post…. “I think it’s understandable that many parents, some of whom never even entertained homeschooling as a possibility in the past, are now looking at how viable an option it might be for their family. I can imagine also how nerve-wracking this can be, especially when you’ve been (or assumed you would be) using public education and never thought of homeschooling. And while I am (obviously) very in favor of homeschooling and know full-well the benefits of choosing this path, I also understand that this is not an easy decision. So if you’re seriously considering the homeschooling route but still wonder how you can possibly teach your child, the first thing I want to say is this… You can do this.

(2019) How to Print Picture Studies If you’ve ever struggled with printing picture study prints at home or outsourcing it, here are a few tips and tricks for printing success!

(2018) Custom Homeschool Planner Covers! If you’re wanting a way to personalize your homeschool planner, I’ve got covers for you (including two new designs)!

(2016) Hope Love146 is an organization I’ve supported both through volunteering and financially for many years now. They develop programs to fight child sex trafficking around the world and they have a rehabilitation home for girls coming from the sex trade in southeast Asia. I wrote this post to explain why I love this organization.

(2012) The Gluten-Free Switch. We made the switch to a gluten-free diet because of thyroid issues I was having eleven years ago and I have zero regrets. Here’s a little background on how it looked for us.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Homeschooling Kindergarten in Light of COVID-19 https://ahumbleplace.com/homeschooling-kindergarten-in-light-of-covid-19/ https://ahumbleplace.com/homeschooling-kindergarten-in-light-of-covid-19/#respond Tue, 14 Jul 2020 22:07:25 +0000 https://ahumbleplace.com/?p=59603 In my last post, I wrote about the benefits of starting your kindergarten year later rather than earlier and also how using simple, gentle lessons for your five- to – six-year-old child is a wonderful way to ease them into more formal education. This was a way to introduce part of the “why” of homeschooling […]

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Homeschooling Kindergarten in Light of COVID-19 - ahumbleplace.com

In my last post, I wrote about the benefits of starting your kindergarten year later rather than earlier and also how using simple, gentle lessons for your five- to – six-year-old child is a wonderful way to ease them into more formal education. This was a way to introduce part of the “why” of homeschooling during the kindergarten year in a more general sense, but the elephant in the room remains. Not only are some parents just entering the stage of having school-aged children this fall, but they’re also having to navigate these intimidating waters in light of COVID-19.

These are very strange times in so many ways, but since the CDC guidelines for re-opening schools came out and districts have started making announcements about how they’ll be implementing those guidelines, I think the reality of our present situation and the uncertainty of how long this is going to go on has become acute for many parents. In the last few weeks alone, I’ve received messages and emails and seen posts in several places from parents who, rightfully so, are very concerned about what school (and in many cases, preschool) is going to look like for their children this fall. The vision they had of dropping their child off for that very first day of school with fresh boxes of crayons and a new backpack now include face masks and hand sanitizer or wet wipes in abundance. Three- to six-foot spacing, face masks for all kids over the age of two, lunch in classrooms, no physical contact, and alternating schedules are a few of the things being considered in our local public school district in less than a month’s time. I honestly can’t imagine trying to process this while also planning to enroll your child in kindergarten, their first “real” school experience. I think it’s understandable that many parents, some of whom never even entertained homeschooling as a possibility in the past, are now looking at how viable an option it might be for their family.

I can imagine also how nerve-wracking this can be, especially when you’ve been (or assumed you would be) using public education and never thought of homeschooling. And while I am (obviously) very in favor of homeschooling and know full-well the benefits of choosing this path, I also understand that this is not an easy decision.

So if you’re seriously considering the homeschooling route but still wonder how you can possibly teach your child, the first thing I want to say is this…

You can do this.

In reality, you have been your child’s teacher since the day they were born. Maybe not in the traditional sense of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but in the larger sense of how to be. How to observe the world around them. How to treat others. What things to take delight in. What things to avoid that might harm them.

You of all people on this planet know your child best and that means understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what things fascinate them and hold their attention. You know how they respond to how other people treat them. And you know best when they show signs that they feel overwhelmed and need to take things slowly.

Kindergarten in particular is a perfect year for homeschooling. You can use this time when your child is still very young to see how you both can thrive through educating at home. Because the kindergarten year doesn’t have to be complicated and really shouldn’t include the academic rigor that the upper grades will offer, you have the flexibility of going at their (and your!) own pace. This means that you can take your time and not feel pressured to meet the sometimes unreasonable standards established in our public education system. You can educate your children in the way that best meets their needs, rather than conforming to a system that sets guidelines across the board and often does not take each unique child’s abilities and personalities into consideration.

You also don’t have to enter into this new path alone. Even prior to COVID-19, the homeschooling community offered wonderful support systems for those of us who chose to educate at home. However, since the arrival of the virus here in the United States, more and more groups catering to the needs of parents transitioning from public school to homeschool have popped up and the already established groups have been very welcoming.

Facebook is a great place to find families in your area who are homeschooling and may be able to suggest resources and services to help you make this transition. I am personally in several groups including a homeschool support group for all of Colorado, another one specific to those families using Charlotte Mason’s methods in Colorado, and my little town homeschool group as well. These sources have brought to my attention many services and programs specifically for homeschoolers that I never would’ve known about otherwise. They are also very encouraging. In many of them, I am seeing an increase in membership because so many families are thinking about homeschooling this fall. Usually, the first post from these new members is a statement that they’re very nervous and not sure how this is going to go. And these posts are always met with encouragement, suggestions (often for curricula or services that might benefit that family specifically), and offers to help.

For those who have purchased my kindergarten curriculum, I also have a private Facebook group where I answer questions as many of the parents who have purchased the curriculum are new to homeschooling or Charlotte Mason in general. It’s also a place where parents can network, share ideas about how they’re implementing the curriculum, and I’ve even seen a few members find other members who are in their area which has allowed them to plan playdates.

I know these are uncertain times and the future looks very hazy and not particularly encouraging, but if you are considering homeschooling your child, please know that you are capable, you are qualified, and YES, you can do it!

Other posts in this series…

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Weekend Entertainment: 10 July 2020 https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-10-july-2020/ https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-10-july-2020/#respond Fri, 10 Jul 2020 07:00:00 +0000 https://ahumbleplace.com/?p=59274 I was summoned for jury duty back in March to report on April 1st. When COVID started becoming more alarming and because it’s not convenient to have to serve jury duty in the middle of a school year, I opted to use my one postponement. My new date was supposed to be this Tuesday, July […]

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I was summoned for jury duty back in March to report on April 1st. When COVID started becoming more alarming and because it’s not convenient to have to serve jury duty in the middle of a school year, I opted to use my one postponement. My new date was supposed to be this Tuesday, July 7th, but I never got a new summons. When I checked out the county website, I discovered that they actually canceled ALL trials (except emergencies) from early March until July 6th.

Rats.

So I emailed them to see how I should go about reporting if I didn’t have a new summons and they said the trial was canceled and I fulfilled my civic duties for 2020. Yay!

That was the first part of the week. The middle part was spent at a very dear friend’s house helping her to pack as her family is moving to Georgia. There are no words to express how sad I am about them leaving. I love her. I love her kids. I am SO THANKFUL I got to know her better over the last three years but I am still so sad about all of it. It’s not easy for me to make friends and she has been a wonderful one to me.

Today I have my first dentist appointment in (I’m ashamed to admit) four years. 😳 It’s been an eventful week.

Now on to the links….

Homeopathy for First Aid – The Most Important Remedies and How to Use Them We’ve been going on more and more hikes in the last few weeks, so I’ve been working on replenishing our trail first aid kit and this list is absolutely invaluable!

Why Read Aloud to Kids Who Can Read Themselves? #4, all the way. When I read stories with my kids, I feel like we’re taking a journey or going on an adventure together.

Less waste, low effort: simple kitchen swaps to cut down on single-use items While we haven’t gotten to the point where we can kick the paper towel habit, I still love a lot of these tips for reducing waste in the kitchen.

Creamy Sausage Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash I made this for supper last night and three out of four liked it, so I call it a success!

Comet NEOWISE Could Be Spectacular: Here’s How to See It I am definitely pulling our telescope out for this!

Also, the print version of the Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum is back in stock for those who have been waiting!

From the blog…

A Simple Homeschool Kindergarten I’ve got a new post up on the blog this week about KINDERGARTEN! This month I wanted to dive a little deeper into some of the aspects of not only my Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten, but also the idea of the kindergarten year as a whole. What is the purpose of a kindergarten year, especially if you’re coming from a Charlotte Mason background? In this week’s post, I’m mainly discussing why it’s a good idea to start later (including scientific research that backs this philosophy), how kindergarten now probably looks a lot different than the kindergarten you experienced as a kid, and how exactly a kindergarten year really ought to look, which is very different than what you might expect….

(2014) What Does a Virtual Assistant Do? I had my own little virtual assistant business from late 2012 to just about a month ago. In the beginning, I was sort of a jack-of-all-trades and did a little bit of everything, though in recent years I focused more on graphic design. If you’ve been thinking about going down this path, here’s a little overview of what it looked like for me.

(2012) How to Make Kombucha This is the very simple method for brewing kombucha that I’ve been using since I grew my first SCOBY (which is still in use) back in 2011.

Have a lovely weekend!

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A Simple Homeschool Kindergarten https://ahumbleplace.com/a-simple-homeschool-kindergarten/ https://ahumbleplace.com/a-simple-homeschool-kindergarten/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2020 21:44:39 +0000 https://ahumbleplace.com/?p=58899 This month I wanted to dive a little deeper into some of the aspects of not only my Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten, but also the idea of the kindergarten year as a whole. What is the purpose of a kindergarten year, especially if you’re coming from a Charlotte Mason background? I won’t be discussing arguments that […]

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A Simple Homeschool Kindergarten - ahumbleplace.com

This month I wanted to dive a little deeper into some of the aspects of not only my Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten, but also the idea of the kindergarten year as a whole. What is the purpose of a kindergarten year, especially if you’re coming from a Charlotte Mason background? I won’t be discussing arguments that Charlotte Mason did not approve of any kind of kindergarten (which is not true) as I think Leah Martin has already done a wonderful job covering that. Today I’ll mainly be talking about why we decided to start our kindergarten year later than when my son’s peers were entering kindergarten and why we chose to make it a very simple format as well.

Starting Kindergarten Later

I was not lax in the “structured” day department when my oldest child was born. I remember very clearly, just after his first birthday, finding a toddler “curriculum” that I felt would be a good addition to our days. This was mainly due to the fact that I was a new mom and had no idea what to actually do with a child every day. I also use the word curriculum here lightly as it was essentially a few suggestions for nursery rhymes, songs, Bible verses, classical music, games, and board books to sing/read/do with my barely-toddler-aged son each day. I remember printing the nursery rhyme out each week and taping it to the bathroom mirror above his changing pad so I could recite them to him every time he had a wet diaper. I still have very fond memories of those little “lesson plans.”

When he was a little older, I started diving into the Montessori Method and printed out Montessori activities for him to do during the day….like matching things or grouping colors. It was never anything strenuous and we didn’t sit and do the activities for long periods of time. I also purchased a few child-sized household items like pitchers and bowls so he could practice pouring and sorting. If you know anything about early childhood development using the Montessori Method, you’ll also know that we ended up with a LOT of trays and baskets.

I say all of this to emphasize the fact that I was very open to early childhood education and in fact tried to implement some of those practices in my home, though most likely to a much lesser degree than a daycare or preschool might do.

When we opted (for various reasons) not to send him to preschool at the same time that his friends were being enrolled in these programs, I decided to do some research on my own to see what kind of “preschool” I could do with him at home. The book that was the most helpful in this process was The Heart of Learning which gave me a better view of what early childhood development really ought to be (and when more formal education should begin). I was also introduced to Charlotte Mason during this time and read this in her first volume:

perhaps a mothers first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air. And this, not for the gain in bodily health alone––body and soul, heart and mind, are nourished with food convenient for them when the children are let alone, let to live without friction and without stimulus amongst happy influences which incline them to be good.

vol 1 pg 43

These ideas coupled together resonated so deeply with me that I knew this was what I wanted for my kids. So we decided to just take everything very slowly and we read books and did crafts and had playdates and went to the park for a few years more. Later on, when his friends were being enrolled in kindergarten right around his fifth birthday, we were confident that waiting another year really was the right decision for him. In hindsight, I am so thankful that we took this path as there would’ve been no way he was developmentally ready for kindergarten just after he turned five OR ready for first grade just after he turned six.

It does seem, though, that the general consensus these days is that the earlier kids start more formal education, the better, especially with programs like No Child Left Behind. I’ve read and heard claims that go so far as to say that if you don’t start your kids’ education (especially learning to read) as early as possible, you’re actually putting them at a disadvantage. However, a study from 2015 came to a different conclusion:

“We find that a one-year delay in the start of school dramatically reduces inattention/hyperactivity at age 7, a measure of self regulation with strong negative links to student achievement. We also find that this large and targeted effect persists at age 11.”

“Our results indicate that a one-year increase in the school starting age leads to significantly improved mental health….Consistent with a literature that emphasizes the importance of self-regulation for student outcomes, we find that this construct is most strongly correlated with the in-school performance of Danish children. This targeted effect is also consistent with theoretical explanations from developmental psychology that stress the salience of extended play for the development of self regulation. We are also able to examine whether these short-term effects persist using the most recently available data which tracks students to age 11. We find that the large and concentrated effects largely persist to later childhood.

Thomas S. Dee, Hans Henrik Sievertsen, “The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health”

One study even suggests that the earlier a child is enrolled in kindergarten, the more likely they are to be incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD, which makes sense. 4-year-olds, many 5-year-olds, and even some 6-year-olds just aren’t ready for a school environment where they have to sit, be attentive, and do “busy” work for long periods of time.

So if you can, take that extra time. Spend that extra year with your child, reading with them, playing with them, taking them on nature walks, and getting to know them better. Not only will this strengthen your relationship, but when you really know your child, which is a side benefit of spending all day, every day with them, you will be able to be a much more effective teacher for them when it does come time to start those formal lessons.

Using Gentle Lessons

I’ve read in a few places that kindergarten is now considered the new first grade. Whereas in the past kindergarten was more play than academics, in more recent years it has simply become a precursor “grade” to first grade. In their report on “Reading Instruction in Kindergarten,” several educators noted:

The 1980s saw the beginnings of a shift in kindergarten education from play-based experiential approaches to more academic approaches, from hands-on exploration to worksheets and teacher-led instruction.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, Joan Wolfsheimer Almon, “Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose”

Chances are the kindergarten you remember from your youth is very different than the kindergarten taking place today.

And with the advent of programs like No Child Left Behind and Common Core State Standards, this also makes sense. When teachers have to meet certain governmental standards that have been written across the board for every.single.child of a certain age living in this country, it makes sense that they would want to get a jump start on meeting those goals. However, the race to meet these standards has come at a cost to children:

When children have educational experiences that are not geared to their developmental level or in tune with their learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, Joan Wolfsheimer Almon, “Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose”

Chances are you’ve heard the saying that childhood is not a race, and this is especially true for kindergarten. Children at this age don’t need worksheets and standardized tests, they need unstructured time, open-ended toys, art supplies, and good books read to them. They need to be allowed to take in the world in their own ways. They need to be allowed to be little kids for a little while longer.

And really, there is no benefit to rushing children in to academia:

Dr. Arnold Gesell found that all children go on the same path of development; however, some go faster, some go slower, and all have spurts and set-backs along the way. The obvious example is the age that children learn to walk. Some children learn to walk as early as nine months, some as late as 15 months. But that is all normal and we all agree that the early walker is not a better walker than the later walker. A similar example is the age that children learn to read. Some children learn to read at age three or four years, others not until seven years or later. That range is quite normal. The most compelling part of the reading research is that by the end of third grade, early readers have no advantage over later readers. Some later readers even go on to become the top in their class. Reading early is not an indicator of higher intelligence. In fact, children at the top of their class in kindergarten only have a 40 percent chance of being at the top of their class at the end of third grade.

Dr. Marcy Guddemi, quote from “Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose”

Given these observations by experts (and I’ve observed them anecdotally in my own life as well) and taking into consideration the harm that developmentally inappropriate education might do to young children, it seems best to err on the side of going slowly rather than beginning more structured education too soon.

A Simple Kindergarten Year

So given everything said above, how should you approach the kindergarten year if you’ve chosen to homeschool? Don’t overthink it! Instead of trying to approach a 5- or 6-year-old child expecting them to respond positively to academic rigor, meet them on their own terms at the place where they are for their age. I love an example from an 1895 Parents Review article from the life of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, a 19th-century education reformer:

[Pestalozzi] had vainly been endeavoring to explain to [his] child the nature of running water. Why it ran, where it ran to, and the laws attending it sending it on its course. It was like burdening the child with words and expressions, the meaning of which, in spite of the greatest perseverance, persistence and even punishment, it failed to grasp. In the course of a walk father and child passed by a running brook. “Ah!” said the child, “the water flows from the mountain into the valley,” and in this brief space of a few seconds the child grasped the meaning of a natural law by actual impression, which the most painstaking explanation failed to give to him.

Gunsberg, “The Kindergarten System,” Parents’ Review Vol. 06, No. 09 p.669

In this little episode, Pestalozzi realized that the best way to teach children was not through lecturing or offering facts or memorization, but rather through impressions, especially children of kindergarten age.

We don’t burden the child’s brain with matter it does not understand. We don’t ask the child to commit anything to memory. We don’t torture the delicate sprig of humanity by discipline, yet we teach the child a great deal, we enrich his memory to a marvelous extent and we give him the best training by means of impressions only, impressions of the most pleasant kind, conveyed to the child by actual experience, by play, and in a joyful way.

Gunsberg, “The Kindergarten System,” Parents’ Review Vol. 06, No. 09 p.670

How do we offer these “impressions” to our young children, then? Through-firsthand observation and play are good options, but the easiest and most effective way is to read rich, well-written books to our children that convey these impressions in the best manner possible. There is no better way to get an idea across to a young child than to tell them a story.

…supposing a teacher of philosophy were to lecture you with all the ability or eloquence at his disposal on some point of morality, try and convince you that it is wrong to think too harshly of your fellow men, he might go on talking for many hours or writing volumes and still he would not convince you to the same extent as a couple of hours’ attendance at a theatre, where the plot of the play may be the very field which the lecturer endeavored to bring home to your understanding. Those of us who have often shed tears over a good play or seen others do it, will at once appreciate the difference which I am trying to establish between teachings and impressions. The reasons why we are so affected by the plot of a play is because it is conveyed to us by impression.

Gunsberg, “The Kindergarten System,” Parents’ Review Vol. 06, No. 09 p.670

The kindergarten year is also about how to make good impressions about school itself. Using that year to sing songs together, recite poetry, read good books, do crafts, and play simple math games is a way to not only ease your child into a more structured day but also a lovely way to give them a good first impression of what being taught more formally is like.

Finally, it also allows you to help them establish essential habits that they will need during their school years. Things like paying attention, listening, sitting for longer periods of time, and waiting for their turn to speak. By easing them into these things slowly, while they’re definitely still learning on their own terms and at their own pace, you are setting them up for success in their academic career.

The kindergarten year doesn’t need to be complicated and, in reality, it shouldn’t be! Enjoy this precious time you have with your still-very-young child to ease into homeschooling in a gentle and enjoyable way! And if you’re not sure where to start, I have a free book list for kindergarten over here!

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Weekend Entertainment: 3 July 2020 https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-3-july-2020/ https://ahumbleplace.com/weekend-entertainment-3-july-2020/#respond Fri, 03 Jul 2020 18:34:19 +0000 https://ahumbleplace.com/?p=58741 We had our first “free” week of the summer and it was so nice to do things on the fly. We met up with some co-op friends for a hike yesterday and today we’re going for a walk and catching up on cleaning. I always have plans of doing deep cleaning during the summer and […]

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We had our first “free” week of the summer and it was so nice to do things on the fly. We met up with some co-op friends for a hike yesterday and today we’re going for a walk and catching up on cleaning. I always have plans of doing deep cleaning during the summer and this year is no different. Clean Mama is my go-to resource for all things cleaning, so I’ve been looking through her old posts to find different ideas for deep cleaning naturally. I think I’ll be relying on her spring cleaning checklist especially.

We’ve also been purging and organizing which has been a little painful (infant car seat 😭) but also feels very good not to have all that extra stuff in our house anymore. Our local donation center finally re-opened, so E brought down a truck-full of things we’ve had packed away for several years. We even cleaned out enough room in our furnace room that we could move our chest freezer down there and I have a shelf above it with my dehydrator now which is much more convenient than dragging it out of storage every time I want to use it. I love efficiency.

For Independence Day, our town has a tradition of shooting fireworks off one of the buttes located near the center of the city so you can see them from pretty much anywhere and we were all looking forward to this. However, we just found out we’re under stage 2 fire restrictions yesterday, so they’ve been canceled. It’s a disappointment as it feels like we’re under so many restrictions already, but I’m also glad that the city is willing to make this call to protect us and our firefighters from wildfires.

For those waiting on the printed version of Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten, it’s coming next week! I hope to have them back in-stock on Monday.

On to the links!

Charlotte Mason and John Muir Quote Enamel Mugs I posted a few new items in the shop this week that I’m very excited about! These are light-weight and great for camping!

Why Are Homeschooled Kids Weird? I first read this post a few weeks ago and parts of it have stuck with me so deeply that I wanted to share it. “‘Weird’ homeschooled kids say things that cool kids don’t say because they don’t run their every word through the ‘Am I cool enough?’ meter. They are not jaded. They say what’s on their minds and do what seems logical and interesting in the moment. They don’t second-guess their every move because they don’t know that falling in line is supposed to be part of the program. Their childhoods have been fiercely protected, and the term ‘socially awkward’ could be used to define nearly every child who is allowed to just…be.” I love this.

July Seasonal Produce Guide I love referencing these when I’m sitting down to meal plan. It’s helpful to know in advance what I’m likely to find at the grocery store and what will be less expensive as it’s usually more economical to eat seasonally.

The 27 Greatest Decluttering Tips of All Time I already do #17 (my limit is a year since I don’t really own a whole lot of clothes already) but #12 is one I definitely want to try. For some reason, I have a much harder time getting rid of things in the kitchen since I do have the space for them…..I just never use them.

Sew a Softie in July If your kids (or you!) have been interested in starting to sew, this looks like a great way to start!

From the blog…

System Status: Second Quarter 2020 My quarterly system status post is up with books I’ve read, things I’ve loved, new items in the shop, and bird sightings!

(2018) Charlotte Mason Picture Study Aid: John Constable This remains the most-downloaded Picture Study Aid on my site!

(2014) Starting Over Again It’s hard to believe it’s been six years since my husband was laid off from his job of 10 years. This was the fourth lay-off we had experienced between the two of us since we had been together and it was a very difficult time for us. I think, however, that it also clarified a lot of things….how we want to live and raise our kids specifically, and I don’t think we would’ve ever considered the entrepreneurial path we’re on now if it hadn’t happened.

(2013) Real Food Sources I need to do some updating of this list, but it’s still pretty accurate for my favorite sources of real food at reasonable prices.

Have a lovely weekend!

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