Thursday, 7 August 2014

Summer Reading

My children have been busy with a summer reading scheme but summer is also prime reading time for me. Reading seems an essential to recharge, think, gain new ideas and of course, set an example to the children!

The three top reads, so far, have been

The poetic wonder of Isaac Watts by Douglas Bond. Every week, we sing Isaac Watt's hymns but I didn't really know much about the man and his times. This book puts Watts in context. There is a chapter on his life and then chapters on his various contributions including, of course, hymn writing but also on Watts as an educator, a lyric poet, a poet theologian and more.

Why this life of Watts impressed me:

  • Watts thought in poetry even in childhood. Perhaps, children who constantly rhyme should be encouraged?
  • He chose to stay a non-conformist Christian (outside the Church of England) which in those days meant no entry to university despite wealthy men offering to pay for him to go to Oxford or Cambridge. Instead, he attended a non-conformist academy.
  • Watts' education in Newington Academy was in someways better than that he would have received at Oxford or Cambridge. Isn't this a challenge to those of us who have chosen to educate our children outside the system? Watts went onto write a logic textbook which became the standard text for English universities.
  • The book emphasises how some of the hymns bring out the gospel in the psalms.
My copy was a free Kindle copy. Sadly, this offer seems to have finished but still, in my opinion, worth a read. 

Outcast by Rosemary Sutcliff. Holidays are a time to read books that might, later, be suitable as read alouds to the children. I was looking for books about the Romans when I found this book on our shelves. I had purchased it from a second hand sale, years ago, but never read it before. 

Beric was found as a baby, by a Celtic tribe, washed up from a Roman shipwreck. He was taken in by a family but rejected by the tribe as he neared manhood. The story covers his adventures in England, Rome and elsewhere. The book has a strong theme about Roman slavery but also a fascinating story line about the draining of the Romney Marshes, on the Kent/Sussex border. 

Recommended. Please note, before this is given to children, that there are deaths from inhumane treatment of slaves. This is described but not dwelt upon.

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Momby Mary Jo Tate was reviewed recently by some of my fellow Schoolhouse Crew members. Having read some of the reviews, I decided that this book was for me. I bought the Kindle version. I am not aware of anyone stocking the book, in the UK.

 Flourish is a book for home educating mothers about time management or rather, as Mary Jo would prefer we said, life management. The book is written for busy, over committed mothers! It is challenging, with questions and activities to complete and it has certainly made me think. Six days of half hourly time recording has been interesting: so much time goes on running the house, cooking and doing the washing. Now, I need to work on wasted time and how to create wriggle room by being more efficient. Then Mary Jo challenges to write down goals. This has been particularly helpful. I can articulate my goals but now need to make them concrete so that I can work on them. 

One concept that I found interesting is to divide circumstances into
  1. Irreducible facts which are circumstances we can't change
  2. Non-negotiables which are things that we won't change and
  3. Preferences which we could change

There is a chapter on running a business whilst home educating and another on being a single parent with encouragement, to those of us who are not single parents, to help and pray for those who are.  

I was struck by the comment that every time we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else. Logically, true but something that I need to think more often.

Highly recommended and not just for home educators. I suspect that most mothers would find this book helpful.

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