Stephen and I have no tradition in our backgrounds of celebrating Advent, and I really didn't have any plans to change that. But then I stumbled across this idea of listening to parts of Handel's Messiah and reading the Scriptures to match in the days leading up to Christmas, and I couldn't resist. We have been doing that at the beginning of our poetry teatimes this week. At first SA was not too impressed: "Why are we listening to music at teatime?" (He likes things to stay the same.) But he seems to be coming around. We like the clean sound of the Christopher Hogwood version, and we watch it on YouTube. I find it retains the children's interest a little better when they can see it. YouTube automatically bookmarks where we stop watching, so we can pick up where we left off every time.
On "The Outdoor Life for the Children:"
We've been logging our hours outside this week at 1000 Hours Outside. One of the most challenging things about a Charlotte Mason education for me has been "the outdoor life for the children." She recommends that children spend up to 4-6 hours outside daily when they're little. I actually agree. I have found that the more time my children spend outside, the healthier they are, and the less they get sick. However, agreement hasn't always translated into action. I tend to hibernate when it gets cold.
I don't want to be a Charlotte Mason "legalist" and insist on following her 4-6 hour guideline to the letter. I think Charlotte would agree that the most important thing for me is to have a "thinking love" for my own children. How important is it for my children's physical and mental health to spend time outside? How is the air quality in our home? (We obviously don't have open fireplaces in our homes anymore, but other things cause air quality issues.) How much time do I have to devote to this? (We don't have servants as they often did in Charlotte's day. The dishes and laundry still need to get done.) Up till how cold is it safe to have children playing outside? (Canada can be a bit colder than the UK.) Considering all these things, and more, I have concluded that we haven't been spending enough time outside since it has gotten "cold". (Never mind that we will be embracing these temperatures as mild when they arrive again in the spring!)
In light of all of this, and inspired by the 1000 Hours Outside blog, I have decided to set my own goals for our outside time. I need to be challenged on this, as it truly is difficult for me to get myself motivated to get all three children's winter gear on, and my own, and go out into temperatures that are less comfortable than the climate inside my home. My goal is to go outside with the children every day, even if it is only five minutes (barring dangerously cold or windy weather, of course!). We will aim for 10 hours outside per week for the older two children (I may go out with them for a while, then come back in. I find that if I go out with them for a little while, they're more likely to stay out longer on their own, or go out again later.). I don't know how this is going to go, but I just have to try.
Here is a scene from this week's nature walk in Brudenell.
On Poetry Teatime
Since we have started doing our poetry teatime, we've occasionally had guests. Our first guests were SA's and JJ's aunt and cousins, who are about their own age. When we were visiting Opa and Oma in NB, we had poetry teatime there with the aunts and cousins. At home again, we had Mrs. D, who brought the boys a special book and read it to them. Two weeks ago, we had C, who made us cookies (with sprinkles!) and offered to come again for a baking session with the boys. Last week we had "Aunt" L, who the boys love because she always talks to them as though what they have to say is the most important, most interesting thing she has ever heard. Even SA bloomed and became a bit of a chatterbox with this special treatment. We love having guests at our poetry teatimes!
Our November habit was neatness, and we worked on picking up all the toys twice a day, once before teatime, and once before computer time. I made up a little checklist, not for rewards, but just to keep track and remind myself to do it. I tried to train the boys from the start to do it promptly and thoroughly. It has gone very well, and I do believe it is a habit for them now. I tend to clean something up in the same room while they are picking up the toys. If they are slow one day, I cheer them on or notice things they have missed. I still have a bit of a problem in that SA (5) tends to do more of his fair share because JJ (3) is slower. I'm not sure what to do about that...I have tried getting them each to pick up specific categories, or getting SA to pick up and JJ to vacuum under the table. Let me know if you have better ideas!