Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"Spiritual Works"

It's been about a month now and things are going well. I have *tweaked* our schedule several times and think we have working pretty well. Noah is enjoying the short lessons, especially when it comes to some of the things he has had resistance to, such as writing. He is also enjoying all the extra reading that he gets to hear.

Charlotte Mason was a Christian woman who believed in training the child in spiritual and moral values (not unlike Rudolf Steiner!). In her school schedule, reading from the Bible was pretty much a daily occurrence. Now, I do not have anything against the bible. I just think that my son may get more out of it when he is a little older. Besides, as this is third grade, the Old Testament stories are already a part of the curriculum and he is getting plenty of nourishment from them.

However, I still liked the idea of having a reading period dedicated to "Spiritual Works," but it had to be something that the child can relate to. So I searched my bookshelves. In our spiritual life, we value the teachings of masters from both the East and the West, and most especially, the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda who sought to show the unity of all religions. So, I found a book on my shelf called The Flawless Mirror, by Kamala, one of PY's early disciples. It is written in a beautiful, easy-to-read narrative style, telling of many of PY's lectures, travels, and correspondence with Kamala in the 20s and 30s. What's more, she mentions many places that my son has been to such as Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach, which makes it all the more relative to him. There are passages, I know, that go "above" him, about some of the loftier spiritual goals. However, as I was reading recently of R. Steiner, that it is good for them to not "get" everything we bring -- that it will still go in -- and then later in life it will be there when needed, or called into consciousness. Noah enjoys these stories of Swami. I think next we may read the book about his childhood.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New Year, New Day, New thoughts

Wow! Finally, I have a blog! I have been wanting to do this for some time.

And as a homeschooling mom, it comes at an interesting time -- I am in the process of 'revamping' our homeschooling approach. For the past three and a half years, we have taken a primarily Waldorf-inspired approach. Overtime, I have gained an appreciation of unschooling and made a conscious choice to do 'structured' schooling just three mornings a week.

Now, however, I am in the process of integrating much more of a Charlotte Mason approach to our homeschooling. I read lots of CM material when we first came to the idea of homeschooling about five years ago. I was intrigued with the similarities to Waldorf ideas.

So why am I making the change now, in my son's 3rd grade year? Noah seems to be getting fatigued with the longer, main lesson approach -- you know the body language: laying all over the desk, etc. I am hoping that the switch to shorter lessons will have a positive effect.

The other attraction to CM is, of course, all of the great literature. It seems like a natural fit for us since Noah's favorite thing to do is curl up while I read to him. And, I absolutely LOVE literature. There are SO many good books and although we are 'always' reading great books, I think the CM approach will give us so much more.

My plan is to keep the Waldorf elements that I love and think are key: form drawing, watercolor painting, singing, music (recorder and violin) and handwork. We will still keep a main lesson theme for a block of time, but shorten the length quite a bit. And of course, there is a lot of crossover; for instance, in the use of poetry and narration.

Since I'm a big believer in 'down' time for children -- allowing them to simply 'be' -- I'll make sure Noah still has plenty of time for free play and to enjoy his own pursuits.

As the plan unfolds (and reality sets in -- which it always does!), I will continue to share.