Category Archives: Education

Love & Pride Don’t Mix

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. – 1 Cor. 13: 4-10

 

When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom. – Prov. 11:2

By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom. – Prov. 13:10

#FridayFavorite: Duolingo

duolingoI am so very happy that I discovered Duolingo at the end of last year. As a home schooler and life long learner, I am always looking to try new things, pick up new skills, and spark interests in my kids. This amazing site allows you to learn a host of new languages absolutely FREE, and the quality is very comparable to Rosetta Stone, which we’ve also tried. Thanks to Duolingo, my husband, 8- and 9-year-old, and I are all learning German and Spanish (in my case brushing up on the Spanish, which I had been meaning to do forever) this year.

The site offers brief lessons that are easy to keep up with, and you can select the pace at which you’d like to learn so that you receive reminder e-mails at the right frequency for you. Besides the regular lessons, you can engage in discussions with other language learners, and practice translating documents, so you get a pretty well rounded language experience.

I love, love, love this site and highly recommend you check it out if you’re interested in studying other languages.

Slowing Down to Speed Up

“I don’t want my children’s education to be so fast-paced and so abstract that there is not time to meditate on the fantastical. I do not want them to treat glorious facts as mundane.”
–Leigh Bortins, The Question

I was just meditating today on the concept of slowing down to speed up, and then I got this quote in a Classical Conversations e-mail, validating my thoughts. The slowing down/speeding up concept is that if you stop and think about what is really important to you and just focus on that one thing… or maybe one or two simple goals related to that thing, you’ll soon end up leaps and bounds ahead of where you’d be if you had a checklist of 10-50 things you’re trying to accomplish all at once. It’s so easy to get distracted and over-schedule these days, yet this “busy-ness” is getting us nowhere.

To share a personal example, last year all I really wanted to focus on was home schooling my children well. I just wanted to be a good mom, and a good teacher, and in a good mood, more often than not. Pretty simple conceptually, although all moms know that this is far easier said than done for nearly all of us. As I focused on just this one main goal–whereas I normally have a minimum of 6-7 challenging goals going simultaneously–I started to feel so light and unencumbered. I actually had time to think, and read for pleasure (!), and just sit and enjoy my kids. I was so unaccustomed to these luxuries that I kept feeling guilty or lost at first. I had a sneaking suspicion that I was forgetting something and that my bubble would be burst at any moment. But instead, what happened was that eventually other goals that I had not previously been able to accomplish when I tackled them more directly and distractedly, began to come to fruition as well. Consequently, not only are my kids and I now enjoying home schooling immensely, I am also in my best physical shape in more than a decade, and I have my own business that is actually bringing in money! And those are just two of the bonus goals–there are several other “lesser” goals that would never even have made my top ten list in the past that I am also making progress on.  WOO. HOO.

Slowing down is such an important thing to do. As much as we like to identify ourselves by our occupations or bodies or reputations, we are in fact vibrant, creative spirits that long for beauty and truth and love. In a world that constantly tries to suck the meaning out of everything, we are yearning to make our lives meaningful. For most of us, I’m willing to bet that our dreams are pretty much just sitting there beside us, waiting for us to turn and pick them up, but we’re just flying by, too oblivious to notice. If you think things are moving too fast, or you’re frustrated that you haven’t been able to accomplish things despite putting them on your “list” for years, try slowing down for awhile. Breathe, and assess your values and priorities. And then if you’re really feeling courageous, try organizing your life to actually support those top priorities, at the expense of lesser ones if necessary. I can almost guarantee it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

Truth About Wealth

As a stay-at-home mom for the past two-plus years, I’ve spent a fair amount of time pondering the concept of wealth and assessing my values and desires. Having this time to breathe has been such a tremendous gift and has allowed me to think and reevaluate how I want to live and raise my children. One of the things I’ve come to realize lately is that money is actually one of the poorest measures you can use to determine wealth. Loving relationships are wealth. Health is wealth. Wisdom is wealth. Time is wealth. Creativity is wealth. Money is only wealth to the extent that it is used to support and enhance these other invaluable assets rather than diminish them.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with money. I’ve made many stupid mistakes with my money over the years, which I am now in the process of rectifying, but I’m not overly upset about those things, nor do I resent those who have been wiser and/or better educated than me in the area of money management. I just think that as a society, especially here in America, we place far too much emphasis on making money as a means to success and happiness. Wealth comes from the inside out, but hardly anyone talks about that fact.

To further illustrate my point, in Hebrew, the word for money comes from the root word kacaph (kaf, samech, phe) and means, “to become pale, i.e., (by implication) to pine after; also to fear: have desire, be greedy, long, sore.” Kind of shocking when I first read it. Money causes people to cease from being grateful for what they have and long for more. Money often brings stress and fear. No wonder Scripture says that the love of money is a root of all evil. Loving money will never bring you any satisfaction. Similar to a drug addict, you will never get enough.

Still, this truth does not necessarily mean that money can’t be a useful tool to those who understand how to use it. I am working on this understanding myself. As I said in the beginning of this post, money can be considered wealth when it is used to serve the real assets in your life–your relationships with family and friends, your talents, your health, your time–all of which you must recognize as gifts to be cherished, not prizes which you have earned.

Money should work for you, not the other way around, but that is easier said than done. For the first time in my life I can say without reservation that I am an entrepreneur, and that I am earning money doing what I love and what I’d be doing even if I weren’t getting paid. But, I have fought my heart out to get to this point, and I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. Am I wealthy? Absolutely! Am I “making Arab money” as they say? (No offense to anyone.) No way! I AM happy. I AM hopeful. I am looking forward to sharing more of my journey with you here. I hope you’ll share your lessons learned with me as well. I will always be teachable.

Thanks for reading. Here’s to our wealth!

Classical Conversations Practicum & Foundations Tutor Training

It’s been a while since I’ve written about home schooling, so I thought I’d give an update on the latest. We’re just winding down to our summer schedule, which includes reading more great books at our leisure, practicing Spanish conversation, and lots of time in nature. We also just attended a Classical Conversations Practicum, which is a fabulous three-day, free training for parents (kids’ camps available at a very reasonable price) on classical education as well as the CC theme for the year. This year’s theme is rhetoric. I love these events because they are so encouraging and thought provoking, and I meet the most wonderful people. I can’t resist giving a little plug here, so if you’re interested in attending one near you, check out this link for more details, times, and dates: http://parentpracticum.com.

For CC tutors and directors, there are afternoon trainings during the Practicum for Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge. I attended the Foundations training at this Practicum, and I was really impressed. The trainer had brought a posse of extremely talented, close knit tutors from her community and incorporated lots of demonstrations of ways to present the content in the classroom. Even with a year of tutoring already under my belt, I learned so much from them! It was inspiring to see what good friends these tutors have become. They’re obviously helping to elevate one another to the highest standards of excellence while keeping it lots of fun. I hope to foster this same kind of environment as I direct my own community this year.

Another great thing about the Foundations tutor training was that issues like discipline and classroom management were brought to the forefront and plenty of ideas shared from experienced tutors. I hadn’t had any experience leading a classroom when I started tutoring, and I was primarily focused on creativity in presenting the content rather than setting classroom expectations and having a plan of action for disciplinary issues. I thought that since parents are usually in the classroom with their children, I could leave that entirely up to them, but I’ve since realized that every classroom needs clear expectations and some form of discipline in order to run smoothly. I later found lots of great classroom management ideas on Pinterest, but I wish I would have used them from day one. If you are going to be a CC tutor in the coming year, be sure to spend some time thinking about your strategy for maintaining order. The kids quickly become good friends and are excited to see each other every week, so it’s normal for them to be energetic and chatty when they come together. It’s important to keep things fun, but also to emphasize the importance of respect for others, respect for the property, following instructions, etc. for the benefit of everyone participating.

Review games was another topic we spent a good deal of time on, including more great demonstrations. This was an area I hadn’t anticipated spending so much prep time on as a tutor. Every week, I’d agonize over finding the perfect review game, and I felt like I had to come up with a new one every week (at least for the first half of our year). There was a lot of trial and error. Again, I found tons of stuff on Pinterest, but it was hard to gauge what would work with my kids until I actually tried it. I had kids who were very competitive, and kids who were not at all. I had a couple kids who rarely wanted to play any game, no matter what it was. I was tempted to take it personally when a game didn’t work out. At the training I found out that most of the tutors struggled with these very same issues. It would have been great to hear this last year just so I’d know I wasn’t alone or doing something wrong. Turns out I really only needed 4-5 good games for my class and there was one they requested almost every week. I had a fantastic first year as a tutor and I LOVED my class dearly — these are just little things I wish I’d anticipated to make the year even more amazing. I have no complaints — I just mention these things here to help others who may be preparing to tutor for the first time.

Our new community is growing nicely and I’m excited to see who the Lord brings to join us over the year. We have more Info Meetings to hold over the coming months, and it seems that more and more people are hearing about CC all the time. We had 70,000+ students nationwide last year! It’s really exciting to be part of this dynamic community, which is stretching my whole family on so many levels. I look forward to reporting more as our journey continues to unfold.

 

 

Fortified (I’m Turning 40 Tomorrow!)

Tomorrow is the much-anticipated big day… the day I happily wave good-bye to my thirties (not that it was a bad decade, by any means) and turn to greet a fresh new decade ripe with possibilities and full of the promise of great ongoing progress. I guess we all love fresh starts, and although we can theoretically have one any day we choose, it always helps to have the momentum or pomp and circumstance of an appropriate event like a milestone birthday to take full advantage of the opportunity.

So, I keep getting asked what I am going to do to celebrate. In fact, I began celebrating at the beginning of the year and will continue to do so for as long as possible…hopefully forever. My gift to myself for this year and this decade, at least, is unprecedented health and balance. For one thing, I decided to get back into athletic shape, similar to when I was in high school, playing sports year-round and setting school and local records left and right. I want exercise and athleticism to again be part of my daily regimen, and even identity. I love the discipline and the connection with my body, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with working out regularly. So, as I’ve blogged about before, I signed up for a Spartan Race and am enjoying the training immensely.

I’ve also been pampering myself a lot more. I’ve never been much of a girly-girl, so for me one of the ultimate luxuries is making time to read, for pleasure and for my own education. Sitting down with a cup of organic decaf coffee and a great book for even half an hour is the equivalent of a spa day or a week’s vacation at this point in my life. On a similar note, writing just for the sake of writing is another guilty pleasure of mine, which is why I began this new blog earlier this year. In fact, at this very moment, I should be cajoling my children to do their math work (we home school), but since they’re playing happily together outside and the baby is napping, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to flex my fingers and reflect on how I’m feeling. Math can wait, especially on a beautiful day like today.

I like to keep things simple and natural, and every so often I have to remind myself to shed the unnecessary and get back to the basics. I’m feeling more comfortable in my own skin than ever before, somewhat as if I’ve been rediscovering what I’ve always known and loved about myself. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve been given. Are there things I want that I can’t have right now? Things I regret? Sure, a few. But overall I am in a really great place, and it feels very solid and secure. I certainly didn’t get to this place by myself, but I’ve worked hard to get here nonetheless, and there are things I’ve learned along the way that can’t ever be taken away from me now. In short, I have so much more than a birthday to celebrate, so it’s hard for me to plan a day, or a week, or a party that could possibly capture who I am and how I’m feeling this year (especially on my budget – ha!). Instead, I will do my best to celebrate my Life, and all it includes, to the fullest, each and every day. Cheers!