Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"You always start with ideas. If you don't start with ideas, you get lost."

George Shultz, former Secretary of State

I was watching a very interesting biography the other night on PBS called, Turmoil and Triumph, The George Shultz Years. It was extremely interesting and informative. I felt a little bit a part of it, as some of the events took place when I was a young child and I remember some of the things they portrayed. The above quote was shared towards the end of the program. There was more to the quote, but I was not fast enough to write it all down. It said something about ideas being a compass to learning.

When I heard the quote, I thought immediately of some of the questions people ask me about our home learning. I often get the, "So, what exactly are you learning now?" or "How do you decide what to teach?". When I explain to them that I believe that as their mother, part of my responsibility is to expose them to opportunities or information that will ignite something in my kids to want to learn. Some people don't quite understand my response. I often times say that we read. We read a lot. We read all the time.

I am amazed at the looks of shock or confusion in response to my response. I am waiting for the day when someone actually says, "Really? That's all you do? Read?".

Yes, that's what we do. From reading, my children are introduced to a plethora of ideas from which they then, in turn, learn more about. For example, when we read the book The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, they asked to learn more about:

Trumpeter Swans, foxes, TAPS, birds held in zoos, journal writing, swan boats, etc.

How do you get children interested in learning? You give them ideas. The way I give my children ideas is through reading. What are we reading right now?

Bambi, Ferdinand the Bull, American History Stories Vol. 2, the Old Testament, Aesop's Fables, Grimm's Tales, the list goes on and on.

So, as Mr. Shultz says, if you don't start with ideas, you get lost. Are you feeling lost? Do you have a child that just doesn't seem to click with what you are doing or teaching them? They need an idea to lead them into the exploration that is learning. They won't even realize that they are learning. It is amazing. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cousins & Camping . . .

We have had a busy, fun, exciting, sometimes trying two and a half weeks. It all started on a sunny, late spring day in mid June when travelers from afar brought us three cherubic boys to spend two and a half weeks while their parents were abroad. I feel parched . . .anyway, the cousins were finally here to play, dream, and imagine with, and the kids could not have been more excited. Originally, we were going to have a grand plan of what to do with them here, but gradually the thought changed to, "let's just see what happens."

Everything imaginable has been played and they have had a great time with it. We tried to stay close to home because the idea of loading up SEVEN children between the ages of 1 and ten, frankly scared me. We did venture out a few times and all went well. Some of the things they did were:

running through the sprinkler, jumping on the trampoline, playing games, playing video games, play-dough, visiting Grandma & Grandpa, observing bugs and snails, watching fireworks, eating, eating, eating ( really, it still amazes me how much food BOYS eat!!!), watching movies, going for walks, riding bikes & scooters, playing at the park, blowing bubbles, building cities out of legos and blocks for the homeless pet shop animals, getting to watch the baby learn to walk (this may make his Mom and Dad sad) it was so fun to see him go from crawling to walking, more, more, more

We have had such a great time with them, but I know they miss their home and parents so while we will be sad to see them go, it will be happy for them.

We also went camping over the long Independence Day weekend. This we were not so brave to do on our own, so Grandpa and Grandma came along to help out and it was great to have them there. It was our first time at this camp spot and we were really pleased with it; plenty of shade trees, streams, wildlife. We got everything set up and the kids immediately went exploring. Within in the first few hours, they had all found some amazing snails on some of the trees. The snails graciously accepted ( ok, so they had no choice) the invitation to reside in cups for a couple of days and be observed by some eager kids. We did all the great camping things; roasted marshmallows for smores, cooked hot dogs on the open fire, skipped rocks in the streams, collected every stick, rock, and willing bug in sight. They built a small raft with Grandma and Dad and floated in down the river. The kids had a ball!

We went for hikes on two of the mornings and though the trails were within a mile or two of one another, the scenery couldn't have been more different and enjoyable. The first hike was a trail just out of our camp. The trail was mostly steep, not much shade, and the vegetation was more desert like. It was a challenging hike for the kids but they were troopers and when we made it to the top, we were all amazed to see the view.

The second hike was a lot less steep, but the vegetation was amazingly lush and at times we had to go through plants , wild flowers and weeds that reached up to our chests ( sometimes, over the little's heads). We followed a stream hoping that we could make it to the source. The trail got a bit more trying and the vegetation a little more dense. The trail, at times, seemed to disappear and then be clear again. I wonder if we were some of the first hikers of the season. We stopped for a little rest and decided that we would go for ten more minutes and then turn back, no matter what we found. The kids were up to it and so off we went. Not 5 minutes farther, we found the source of the river and it was a beautiful and breathtaking view. The spring was one of the biggest I've seen just rushing right out of the mountainside, up through the rocks. Part of it was concealed under trees and brush, so to be sure we found it, Dad and I hiked a bit farther til we could tell it was the spring head. The little's didn't quite understand what it meant, but the older kids thought it was pretty amazing. An experience I hope we can keep having.

Well, I've been a bit longer than I wanted to be, but we had an amazing time and are soooooo happy that our cousins could come spend time with us! Enjoy!