Friday, February 27, 2015

Learn More, Know More, Love More

If you are subscribed to this blog and you received a rough draft in your inbox this morning, please accept my apologies. The Publish button is right next to the Save Draft button, and I was running out the door for a Dunkin Donuts date with my girls and a dear friend. If it did come to you, consider it a peek into the unedited workings of my mind. For whatever that's worth. ;)

Over the past two years, art study has become a huge source of joy in our home. I have already written here about how much we've learned. That's still true, and even more so as we explore new genres. What I didn't mentioned there is how much I've learned to love. Charlotte Mason was onto something important when she said, " “The question is not—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? ... In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

There are so many subjects that I didn't know anything (or at least not very much) about, so I didn't care. Nothing moves your heart simply because it should. You have to get to know it before you can love it. After two years of picture study, I'm falling in love. I look forward to each new artist like a chance to get to know a new friend. (All the extroverts are nodding, and some of my dear introvert friends are shrinking back in horror at that image. Ahem, moving right along...) I haven't loved every painting, nor even every artist. I am, however, learning to love art. It's so much fun to see how each artist responds to what came before, how he changes it and makes it his own. Art is a window into the heart of the artist, and it's something special to be invited into that. Knowing more—loving more—makes my life, and the lives of my girls, broader and richer.

I have looked forward to this term's artist for a while: Edgar Degas. I have three daughters. My Teacup-age-10 started dance last fall, and she has found her "thing." I'm really excited about introducing to the master of Ballet paintings. As always, Ambleside Online has prepared a wide sampling of Degas' work, so we actually won't be focused specifically on his dancer portraits. Don't worry, though. I have plenty of extra goodies in the wings for my girls!

The Dance Class, Edgar Degas, 1875

Feel free to download these prints for your own use.* We have a new set of frames in our Art Gallery (AKA, the dining room), so these are now formatted as 8x10 prints. They still print on a letter-sized page, there is just more white space now. I trim the prints down to fit in our frames. As always, we get ours printed on glossy card stock at Office Max. They are reasonably priced and their quality is excellent.

Each of my girls has her own Book of Masterpieces, where she keeps her own 4x6" copy of every print she studies. The 4x6 art cards also print on a standard-sized computer page, three to a sheet. In addition to the assigned prints, I included a copy of one of Degas' self-portrait. Our curriculum recommends a different one, but this one makes me laugh. I don't really know anything about him, but I suspect that he had attitude.

Is Picture Study a part of your family's routine yet? I would love to hear your thoughts about you fit this important subject into your busy homeschool day. Are you excited to study Degas? What are you planning for this term?

*If you want to use these prints for your family or group's study, download them with my blessings. It should go without saying, but please don't copy the files and pass them off as your own work, don't sell the files, and don't sell the prints. Basically, the Golden Rule still applies!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

And Then There Were Three...

I'm tempted to begin with an apology for how long it has been since I posted. Well over a year is a little ridiculous, I know. All I can say to excuse myself I that I haven't had a lot to say. I have been in a phase of my life where I'm soaking knowledge up as... well, not exactly as fast as I can. Perhaps I should say I'm soaking in as much as I can handle. I am working my way through The Living Page again, this time with a group of local CM homeschool mamas. This book has changed my heart about what we're doing, and expanded my ideas about why we're doing it. Maybe I'll write more about that later. For now, I can only recommend that you go get yourself a copy, if you don't already have one. If you are the sort to buy a new book and tuck it on the shelf for "someday," I encourage you to pull it out and crack it open.

When we started back to school this January, Tiger began her Kindergarten year. Well, kind of. According to the letter I send to the state, she doesn't technically start kinder until the fall. However, she's ready and raring to go, so go we will. I realize that Mason herself did not advocate formal education before age 6. That's perfectly fine, because calling what we're doing right now "formal" would be a stretch, if you know what I mean. Mason does recommend reading and early math lessons as the child requests them. That is pretty much what happens at our house, except it's more like whenever Mama can slip them in around everything else. Tiger is so excited to have her OWN math book and to learn to read that she is the one begging and pushing. At our house, Kinder is a warm-up year. Both Tempest and Tiger have enjoyed the one-on-one attention, the big-kid feeling of "doing school," and the excellent stories recommended on the Year 0 page at Ambleside Online. We aren't terribly consistent, but it gets them into the routine of coming to the table (or couch) and paying attention to a lesson.

So… homeschooling three. Can I admit it? I'm feeling very overwhelmed. I don't transition easily, and this case is no exception. At the end of the day, I'm tired and mentally sore in the way that I hear exercise people get sore after a workout. I wouldn't know about that, but I'll take their word for it. This is why Kindergarten is a warm-up year. It isn't just for my kids' benefit, but for my own. It's comforting to know that we'll get to what we get to, and everything will be fine.

We definitely haven't reached equilibrium… yet. I have faith, though, that we will. As I encourage myself, let me encourage you, too. If you feel like you can't *insert your struggle here*, just remember to add "YET."

I don't get up on time… yet.
I don't keep the house as clean as I would like to… yet.
I don't do my meal planning consistently… yet.

Keep pressing in, and we'll get there yet! How is your back-to-school going so far? Are you raring to go, or feeling a little blue from winter clouds? Have you hit your stride, or are you still struggling to find your rhythm?