Wednesday, 30 March 2011

March day

It has been a lovely Spring day, here.
We've been home educating and I've been appreciating some of the English ideas in Mother's Companion. Hopefully, more of that in a later post.
 This afternoon, we met up with another home educating family. The children painted and played games. The mothers chatted and exchanged ideas-CPD (Continuing professional development) for home education is something that perplexes me, from time to time, but in practice, I learn so much from other mothers.
This is a sample of Mr Exuberance's work-it was meant to be blossom painted with the finger tips but adding more paint and using hands and arms was more fun.

Mr Exuberance has been busy-planting tomatoes and best of all, helping Daddy sieve compost, this evening.

This hymn has been a favourite, for years,since I first learnt it as a teenager, a fair number of years ago. I've been thinking of it again, today, but hadn't realised until I looked it up that it is another Newton hymn.

I do pray that it may be a blessing to others, too.

Begone unbelief,
My Saviour is near,
And for my relief
Will surely appear;
By prayer let me wrestle,
And He will perform,
With Christ in the vessel,
I smile at the storm.

Though dark be my way,
Since He is my guide,
'Tis mine to obey,
'Tis His to provide;
Though cisterns be broken,
And creatures all fail,
The word He has spoken
Shall surely prevail.

His love in time past
Forbids me to think
He'll leave me at last
In trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review,
Confirms His good pleasure
To help me right through.

Determined to save,
He watched over my path,
When Satan's blind slave,
I sported with death;
And can He have taught me
To trust in His name,
And thus far have brought me,
To put me to shame?

Why should I complain
Of want or distress,
Temptation or pain?
He told me no less:
The heirs of salvation,
I know from His word,
Through much tribulation
Must follow their Lord.

How bitter that cup,
No heart can conceive,
Which He drank quite up,
That sinners might live!
His way was much rougher,
And darker than mine;
Did Jesus thus suffer,
And shall I repine?

Since all that I meet
Shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet,
The medicine food;
Though painful at present,
Will cease before long,
And then, oh, how pleasant,
The conqueror's song!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Mr Pipes and the British hymn makers

"Mr Pipes and the British hymn makers", by Douglas Bond, is a book which demands a review.

This is a fascinating book which describes a fictional boy and his sister, from the US, who spend their summer holiday in very English, Olney. They meet the elderly church organist who is known by his nickname, Mr Pipes.

Mr Pipes spends most of the summer with the children and in the process teaches them about British hymns and hymnwriters. This is done beautifully by little stories, about one or two writers per chapter. He also teaches the children clearly about the way of salvation, not in a dumbed down way, but in the words of some of the best British hymns.

Each chapter is followed by the words and music for the hymns which have been discussed.

I have read this book aloud to one of my children and my most voracious reader has read the book herself. Do we like the book? Well, yes.

It is always difficult to specify ages for a book. It is probably suitable for reading aloud from about age 6 and for an able reader aged 7. I enjoyed it as did our 15 year old although it didn't keep her occupied for long!

I have a couple of gripes about the book.

It would have benefitted by being proof read by someone who is English. There are a few cultural mistakes: tea is taken with milk not cream, "The London Times" doesn't exist as far as I am aware but "The Times", of course, does and the verb "to visit" is used by English characters in the American way, "visited with".

The doctor seems to be overbearing and certainly isn't careful about confidentiality, in advising his patient. Mr Pipes seems to be an active older man and I can't see why the doctor is so keen to restrict his activity. An appointment with the cardiologist might be more appropriate.

Aside from these points, I would recommend the book both for read alouds and for children to read alone.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Odds and ends

Just a few interesting links from this week. Warning: a very eclectic mixture.

Preschoolers: I remember the musical rendition of Peter Rabbit from my childhood. This site has recordings from old records of several musical renditions of Beatrix Potter. Some of the sound is a bit fuzzy but worth a listen for nostalgia plus little ones may like this.

Home education: Interesting article about teaching boys maths. I haven't read the books yet but will be looking out for these. I'm sure the principles apply to girls too. 

Hymns: I recently decided that I really needed to get hold of a copy of Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology (1907). Thankfully, it is available on line. This covers a very wide range of writers and obviously is a bit dated but is a useful starting point when looking for information. I do think that he maligns one of my favourite writers.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Home education and money

I was going to call this "Economical home education" but education isn't cheap and probably shouldn't be. Before I upset everyone, just think, the main cost for most organisations including schools is the salary bill. Most home educators have given up all or most of one salary for the children's education. It is easy to say that the large figures suggested as the cost of bringing up children don't apply but once the loss of income is factored in, home education isn't cheap.

Then there is the cost of those lovely parcels of new books. I love getting new books, looking through them and working out exactly how we will use them.

Is it possible to make savings? Well, of course, and here are a few of my thoughts on the subject. Do remember that I am only two years into home ed. We believe that the children's education is important and is a higher priority than holidays or meals out. Yes, we do have both (thank you Tesco vouchers for the meals out!) but if anything has to go then these go well before education and there has been a year when that happened.

How to avoid over spending on home education.
-look before you leap.
Many publishers have free chapters on line. We have used these on more than one occasion before buying. This is particularly helpful if it is difficult to see a physical copy of the book.
Ask a friend if you can see their copy.
E-mail friends abroad who may have seen the book. This saved me an expensive mistake on a curriculum that I would have had to buy from abroad.
Read reviews.

-Buy second hand. This works better for some books than others. Great for the Latin book that is also used in schools. Not so good for the really popular science book which isn't published in the UK. Beware of old editions of science books-the information may be incorrect. Fine if you are sure of your ground on the number of planets or the genome project but a problem for most of us.

-Teachers' books. This is a difficult one. It isn't always clear whether a teachers' book is just an answer book or whether it has more information.
I couldn't manage without the Latin teachers' guide with its comments on how to introduce a subject, common mistakes and ideas for further activities.
What I thought was an English teachers' guide turned out to be an expensive answer to comprehension questions.
I currently don't use maths teachers' books but enjoy maths and think it is a useful exercise to work out the answers myself. If I didn't like maths it would be different but again a proper teachers' book is more useful than a mere answer book.

-Use good but inexpensive resources. "Mothers' Companion" could be used alone up to age about 9-10. I don't use this alone but it is a great resource. I hope to review this properly at a later point.
I haven't used Ambleside on line but this is free.
Don't forget the library.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Time for planting

We've been blessed with a garden which, by UK standards, is large. An opportunity for the children to play, for summer hospitality and for our own fruit and vegetables.

 I'm not a great gardener and there are so many things to do....

Encouraged by Large Family Logistics, I've decided to devote regular time to the garden.
The suggestion in this book is to have a Gardening Day possibly Saturday. Tried this sort of thing in the past but it really hasn't worked for us. There are so many other things to do on Saturdays and we like to have everything prepared for the Lord's Day which seems to take me a fair amount of time. A good use of time though.

What has seemed to work better for me is to have a regular half an hour once bookwork has finished for the day. The younger children also love having time to play outside and get muddy! This week, I've pushed this up with another half hour after lunch. This fits well into the schedule as our 10 year old has half an hour reading time after lunch, initially, while Mum sorted out the baby and put him down for his much mourned rest but now while the aforesaid "baby" and his sister enjoy the outside.

What remains to be seen is whether the plants grow.
This is one recent attempt. Usually, even I can grow hyacinths but this time either I or a little helper managed to plant two out of three hyacinths upside down.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Are these almost lost verses?

Last Saturday afternoon, I was in the back row of the gallery of a packed country chapel, with a congregation rejoicing at the recognition service of a new pastor.

The third hymn was one that I thought was well known but as I sang the words struck me and I realised that it had been many years since I had sung it. Later, at home, I leafed through hymn books and found that it is only found in two in our collection which also happen to be the two used when I was a child. My husband said that he had only sang it once before and that only because a friend had especially liked it and had it printed out.

The hymn is by Joseph Irons who founded Grove Chapel in Camberwell, London and was also involved in founding the society now known as Pilgrim Homes. Sorry about the unclear picture. This is scanned from an old history of Grove Chapel, Camberwell covering the first one hundred years to 1919.

 I assume that this hymn has gone out of circulation because of some similarities to "There is a fountain filled with blood." still it seems sad to have almost lost this one.

What sacred Fountain yonder springs
Up from the throne of God,
And all new covenant blessings brings?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

What mighty sum paid all my debt,
When I a bondman stood,
And has my soul at freedom set?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

What stream is that which sweeps away
My sins just like a flood,
Nor lets one guilty blemish stay?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

What voice is that which speaks for me
In heaven's high court for good,
And from the curse has set me free?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

What theme, my soul, shall best employ
Thy harp before thy God,
And make all heaven to ring with joy?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

I haven't completely disappeared

Our internet was down for five days and real life has been busy.

Home education, for a 10 year old and a 4 year old who really wants to join in plus Mr Exhuberance who has given up his afternoon sleep, is keeping me out of mischief.

Seriously, none of my toddlers have been great sleepers. Just over two years is about as far as they go with afternoon sleeps. The alternatives are that they spend the whole evening awake or spend the afternoon investigating everything they can find in their bedrooms-just not worth it. So, we have exchanged wakeful evenings for wakeful afternoons. I love my energetic little toddler.

Today, the 10 year old made falafel for lunch. Recipe from an English textbook. He did the comprehension yesterday and the cooking today. We think that some of the questions suggested a minimal acquaintance with the kitchen.

At long last, we've finished "Journey to the centre of the earth"-it has been hard work. In fact, I'm not sure why we didn't give up half way except that I couldn't stand thought of leaving them there. Now, to finish "Mr Pipes and the English hymnwriters" then perhaps give in to demands to read "Farmer boy" again. I have resisted until now but for about the first time, this is a book that will appeal to two children not one so maybe-especially if we make some of the farm food. "Farmer boy" is such a hungry book.

Friday, 4 March 2011

My grace is sufficient

Some lines by John Newton on a verse to which I come back, time after time.
"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12 v9

Oppressed with unbelief and sin,
Fightings without and fears within;
While earth and hell, with force combined,
Assult and terrify my mind.

What strength have I against such foes,
Such hosts and legions to oppose,
Alas! I tremble, faint and fall,
Lord save me or I give up all.

Thus sorely pressed I sought the Lord,
To give me some sweet cheering word;
Again I sought, and yet again,
I waited long, but not in vain.

Oh, 'twas a cheering word indeed!
Exactly suited to my need;
"Sufficient for thee is my grace,
Thy weakness my great power displays."

Now despond and mourn no more,
I welcome all I feared before;
Though weak I'm strong, though troubled blessed,
For Christ's own power shall on me rest.

My grace would soon exhausted be,
But His is boundless as the sea,
The let me boast with holy Paul,
That I am nothing, Christ is all.

I wonder how many believers have loved this promise over the centuries; only eternity will tell.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

World maths and spelling days and other internet thoughts

Today is World Maths Day. Our middle child has been more enthusiastic about maths than I have ever seen him; trying to win his award for 60 games and to beat other competitors around the world. Thursday is World Spelling Day; from the practise run it seems that this will be equally well received.

We had entered, last year, but I had, well, forgotten. I don't think that the enthusiasm was so great then and I only stumbled on this last night. I'm just so glad that I did. The maths is quite simple- mental arithmetic but great for speed and accuracy plus a change from our usual maths. Registration is still open and the "day" extends beyond midnight here in the UK so that it appears that further games can be played tomorrow. Presumably, registration for the Spelling Day will stay open tomorrow.

World Maths Day is free and is open to home educators as well as schools.

That a useful part of the internet and there are others: encouragement, being able to keep up with friends , photos to family, recipes and ideas but the downside is the time. I find that I spend too much time on the internet when I'm tired. It takes less effort to read a blog or look at someone's photos than to get up and make an effort to end the day. This article is challenging.

I've set my own rules now so, hopefully, I won't take a sneaky look after breakfast or spend long on the computer at midnight! You are welcome to challenge me if I do-accountability helps.