Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Separate but not equal (Amy)

For over a year I've been publishing posts on two different blogs.  Each forum requires a different mindset.  TJEd or Home and Family?  

But the past several months, my voices have been merging.   My life is merging.  It's difficult to see where Home and Family end and Leadership Education begins.  And I suppose that is the way it should be.  

Our life is fluid.  We adopted a baby girl.  She's 23 days old today.  I finally have the books chosen for my Leadership in Literature course this year.  My sons are working together to raise money so that my eldest son can attend the 2010 National Boy Scout Jamboree.  My sister and I are organizing a Leadership Education class to be held in Anchorage and Fairbanks this fall. My husband wants to build a greenhouse.  We just finished a six month purge. My husband and I have been listening to the speeches from the 2009 TJEd Forum. Our goal is one speech per day. Fluid like that.

I've been writing our homeschool history on my other blog.  I've been writing about the Georgic principles my sons have been learning.  I've been writing about life with a newborn baby girl.  

But my mind keeps returning to 2 moms and tjed.  Why have I not posted here?  Because my life is merging.  It's becoming more difficult to keep my writings separate but equal.  

So I invite you to my other blog.  I can't guarantee what you'll get.  It may be educational, it may not. But it will be the merging of my life with Leadership Education.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Beautifully Aired (Amy)

*I wrote this post for my family website but thought I'd put it on here too.

I'm reading Peter Pan. Have you read it recently? There is a passage at the very beginning that just mesmerized me.

"Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children's minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind, and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on."

Isn't that beautifully written? The whole book is like that. I can't put it down. But that is my favorite passage so far. Oh! How I would like to rummage through my children's minds and tidy them up! I'd love to air their prettier thoughts and stow the naughtiness and evil passions. I wish we still talked like that.

But it got me thinking...

We have a family tradition in which we do something like this. On Sunday afternoons Jake and I hold an FEC (Family Executive Council) in which we meet and discuss our family, children and our upcoming week. It's just between him and I and the Lord. This provides us the time to talk about each child specifically, their needs, and what we can do to help them. We prioritize and schedule our week based on what is most important. It's a specific opportunity to seek the Spirit in our family's life. It's wonderful.

And when we're finished we invite one child at a time in to talk. It's like an interview. Sometimes it's casual and sometimes it's more formal. We start each discussion with a prayer. The boys love it and look forward to it. They get our undivided attention. We ask questions about how they're doing, what's good and what's bad. We talk about goals, school, opportunities, whatever comes up. And we listen. Sometimes it's short and sweet, other times it lasts for an hour or more. It's amazing what comes out of those meetings.

Sometimes I'll take notes. I love scribbling quotes from the kids that we can look at later and remember.

And when we're done... I do feel like we've tidied up and put things in their proper places. We've made discoveries sweet and not so sweet {but mostly sweet}. The naughtiness and evil passions have been folded up small and placed at the bottom. And on the top, beautifully aired, are their prettier thoughts. Ready for them to put on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Building a Community (Amy)

Thanks Darla for the comment. It was enough to spur me to write another post. I've been meaning to for a while, but life seems to get in the way (and by life I mean the fact that we are in Florida for 10 weeks while my husband attends some training).

A community is an essential part of Leadership Education. As my 13 year old son enters scholar phase, his peer group is going to be of utmost importance. As I continue teaching my children with the 7 Keys, my peer group is also important. We both need support. We also need opportunities to lead.

For my son, he needs other youth who love learning; who would love to attend a constitutional convention, or a book club. Youth who want to discuss more than the last video game. These kind of kids are out there, I just need to help round them up and get them together so that they can start discussing and supporting.

As for me... well, I'd like to attend a book club with my peers and discuss some great literature. I'd like to have the support of other parents when I'm struggling and need a lift. This too is possible, I just need to reach out and find some "like-minded" families.

Now I've used the word just a few times. Like it's just going to happen. I have a few things going for me. I've helped build a community before. So it's not a new procedure. Our community in North Pole, Alaska was just starting to bud when we moved. We had a grown-up book club going, a couple youth book clubs in progress, we had a "Young Knights Club" and a math club and I heard that a young girl's club started up this year. So its on it's way to a full blown blossom. (Just talking like this makes me miss all the amazing families up there so much!)

I also have a few obstacles I'll need to overcome. First, we won't be in our new location for too long either. We have two years before we move again. The good thing is, we had everything I mentioned above in place quickly and it was going strong after the first year. So I'll have a year to reap the benefits. I also had a friend (Kim) who discovered truth in the TJEd principles at the same time I did and worked tirelessly beside me to inspire our community. I'm going to miss her as a sounding board for ideas and also as another strong leader. We're also in a tiny, isolated community. I don't have an idea yet how many homeschoolers we have, but I'm hopeful.

So I'll start from scratch, knowing that every few years as we move with the Coast Guard, I'll leave good friends and community behind to start yet again. But my family is worth every ounce of hard work it will take.

My first step will be reaching out. {I'm talking in future sense because I'll have to wait until we're done in Florida to start. So as much as I'm raring to go, I'm finding joy in the journey.} I've brushed up on my TJEd by rereading the books, especially Leadership Education. If you don't have this book, you MUST get it. If you have it, read it again. It's your foundation for how-to use TJEd in your home.

I've already met a couple families interested in Leadership Education. This comes from talking. When people find out we homeschool there are usually questions, whether they homeschool or not. I use this as an opportunity to talk about TJEd. I mention a few principles depending on how much time I have and that usually peaks their interest and will start a discussion, or we'll plan for a time to get together and talk.

Then I'll plan an "Intro to TJEd" night. Have you listened to The 7 Keys of Great Teaching by Oliver DeMille? Its great and covers the perfect material for an intro. So I'll listen to that again, go through A Thomas Jefferson Education again and invite people over to my house to hear more about Leadership Education. I've got a white board and I'll show the 3 types of education, the initial 3 phases of education and then the 7 Keys of great teaching.

We did intros before when we were hosting the "Face to Face with Greatness" series. But I think it's the perfect way to get people interested. As more people hear about it and want more information, I'll plan more intros.

While I'm doing that, I'll be talking to friends and those I meet about a grown-up book club. Many people outside TJEd don't have the time for this. But if you can show how important it is to be an example to your children, usually you can gather enough people for a discussion. It only takes 2. For several months it was just Kim and I reading books from the 5 Pillar Certification.

The easiest part of the whole thing is the youth book club. Parents understand this. They want their youth to read and discuss. The hardest part is getting the parents to read and discuss with their youth. My plan is to start this in the fall. I'll get a reading list made up and a schedule prepared and then start inviting. I love this part! I love the youth and I really enjoy teaching. I'm going to work more on leading a discussion rather than lecturing this time around.

The youth who attend don't have to come from families who use TJEd. If you host it in the evening, they don't even have to be homeschooled. The goal is to get youth together who love to read and teach them to discuss classic literature.

As we get to know our community better, I'll look around and see what else we need. In North Pole that was a math club to inspire a love of math. If we need that in Kodiak, I'll do that again. What about a dance class for young teenagers? I'd love to learn some ballroom dancing and I think it would be great for youth too. An opportunity to get comfortable with public speaking would be awesome too. I'm not an expert in any of these things, but I only have to be one chapter ahead. I could also find someone who is an expert and help facilitate the group.

My husband is a pilot and he's going to teach an aviation class this fall. We wanted to do this before, but weren't able to get it together. We'll find some youth in our area who are interested in learning more about aviation and invite them over for a couple hours on Saturday, or maybe in the afternoon/evening once a week when my husband is off work. He'll probably use the Boy Scout Aviation Merit Badge as a syllabus to start with and go from there. It won't be fancy, but it will be fun.

You could do this with anything that you or your children are interested in. Just invite others along for the ride. It will be through these little pieces that we build a community who values self education and lifetime learning.

This is probably enough for this post. If you've got questions about any of the pieces I talked about, leave a comment and I'll go into more detail. Good luck in building your own community!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to Basics (Amy)

I've been talking a lot lately about TJEd with friends. And if feels great! In order to talk with others about leadership education, I need to be thinking about it myself.

We've been in a sort of self-inflicted quarantine lately. Meaning we haven't done much with others since our move two and a half months ago. It's been all family, all the time. It was necessary, it was part of our healing process. But there's an end in sight.

I'm ready to start building a community here. I'm excited about book clubs and statesmanship groups.

I got out my Phases of Learning book and started reading again. I need to do that more often. Its so refreshing to read the basics again... all the reasons why I love TJEd and I know this is right for my family.

I got on TJEdonline and read a couple of articles. Oliver wrote an awesome article about the roles in marriage here. It's worth reading.

So, pull out one of your TJEd books and read a chapter or two. It's worth it. I promise.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

6 Month Purge (Kim)

My older kids are gone so I have been purging like crazy. I love it. I have filled bags and bags of stuff for good will and even more to be thrown away. We are cleaning out to make room for the new Christmas gifts and getting rid of all the clutter that has accumulated since my last purge during the summer. It's amazing what can find it's way into my house in just 6 months. The rooms I have purged so far include the family room, girls bedroom, the laundry room and most of my office. Rooms that I still need to purge are boys bedroom, my bedroom, and dining room. Because we aren't doing school right now it's the perfect time for a purge. Oh it feels good to get rid of the junk and to get stuff organized. So go purge your house and feel good.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nature Abhors a Vacuum (Amy)

I've been thinking about this one for a while. Lately with the lack of outside influences, it feels like we moved to a remote island and we don't know anybody... oh wait... that's exactly what we did.

The days are ours to fill... or more specifically not to fill. And that's an interesting question: To do, or not to do?

There have been times since moving here that I've been anxious and stressed about the lack of outside activities we're involved with... no play dates or book clubs or sports.

My instinct is to keep my children busy, and not just with external activities. There is their schooling of course, and they are also a great help to me with chores, babysitting, errands, etc. I'm always thinking, "What else should we be doing?" Evidently nature isn't the only one that abhors a vacuum.

But, I have to stop trying to keep us all constantly in motion. I need to allow my children to get bored. To have nothing to do. To say things like, "Mom! There's nothing to do... I'm bored... !"

Because I'm learning that sometimes they need an absence of things to do... a vacuum.

Because something important happens when there is nothing to do...

They fill the vacuum.

Initially they might reach for the television, or a movie, or a video game to fill their time. But if that isn't available (or it's off limits), then they're left to their own imagination.

I've been amazed lately at what my children are finding to fill their vacuum.

They have been working together. Nicely. They've been writing scripts and exploring Stop Animation. They read and discuss books together. They've been building Lego contraptions and exploring science projects. And they are learning. Really learning. The kind of learning that comes from exploring things that they are truly interested in!

All of this comes from them looking for something to do. Because I haven't filled our day with things to do. I didn't fill the vacuum. I allowed them to.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Educational Vomit (Kim)

I vomited on my 11 year old. Not real gross, disgusting food vomit. Educational vomit. I didn't mean to do it. It was out before I even knew it. It happened last week. My daughter said she was going to make her own newspaper and then it happened, I vomited educational vomit all over her. I didn't even realize I had done it until later, and then I felt really bad. It's never fun to be vomited on.
Dr. Brooks talked about educational vomit at the first Face to Face seminar. Educational vomiting is when you give your child way too much information when they show an interest in something. You overload them and kill their desire for more. Let me give you an example. Your child comes to you and says, "Where is middle C on the piano?", and you vomit on them by saying, "Here it is, and here is A and B and D and E and F and G, and these are the pedals, and here are your new piano books, and I just signed you up for lessons twice a week, and I'm getting tickets to the piano concert on Friday and your first piano performance is in 3 months so, practice up." And then you wonder why they won't get within ten feet of the piano. Vomiting then leads to requiring. You become insistent on them learning and start requiring things from them, after all, they were the one that showed the interest in the first place, right?
Now we are all trying to be good parents and teachers and sometimes we think that means we need to have a 3 month unit study on each and every thing our child mentions a word about. But what if we try to inspire our child to learn instead of vomiting it on them? What if your child came to you and said, "Mom, where is middle C", and you said, "Here it is, " and they said "And where is G," and you said "Here it is." Then they watched you practice the piano and maybe take lessons, and go to a concert, and you give a performance. And then later, they came to you and said, "Can I take piano lessons?" At first you might even tell them that they are too young and they need to wait until they are older. Then they came to you again and begged and begged to take lessons. Which time to you think they would really and truly have a desire to work hard and put the time and effort in that it requires to learn how to play the piano?
It is so easy to vomit on them. I know. I just did it, and I killed any desire she had. Educational vomit isn't as gross and messy as regular vomit, but it is way harder to clean up.