A Book That Brings Beauty- Beatrix Potter and Her Animal Friends

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What book do you think of when you desire to look at something beautiful? What stories come to mind when you want to read something wholesome and satisfying to your children? We’ve all heard of them, and a lot of us have read most if not all of them, but Beatrix Potter’s animal stories are some of the most treasured and classic of tales, beloved by children near and far.

Not only are these stories a delight to children, but they have been and still are a delight to adults as well. It has been said that even C.S. Lewis himself was captivated by the likes of Squirrel Nutkin. So why is this? What causes these stories to stand the test of time?

Maybe it is because what is conveyed through these stories is not bound by years or decades. What is gleaned in Potter’s pages is timeless because stories of value and substance, that lend direction and offer a moral compass, are as much needed today as they were in the early nineteen hundreds. From The Tale of Peter Rabbit to The Roly-Poly Pudding, children are reminded of the importance of obedience and honesty, and that there are very real consequences for the decisions one makes.

So many other great things can be awakened in a child as a result of delving into these classic tales: A love for animals, a desire to experiment with watercolor paints, sketching the natural world, or writing creative narratives about the creatures one comes across on a nature walk.

To help aid you in your rediscovery of Potter’s Complete Tales, I want to introduce you to a quaint and beautifully illustrated picture book biography of Beatrix Potter, written by Alexandra Wallner, simply titled Beatrix Potter.

 

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Her childhood becomes very real and relatable as this book portrays her time spent drawing, painting flowers, and secretly keeping pet rabbits, frogs, lizards, salamanders, and snakes.

 

Beatrix kept a diary written in her own code. The sights and sounds of the woods were like magic to her.”

Children are invited into the pages of this little gem to discover that things were not always easy for Beatrix. She often battled loneliness and was plagued with bronchitis and rheumatic fever which left her with a heart condition. These things, however, did not keep her from finding comfort in the natural world around her and recreating God’s creatures on paper with pencil and paint.

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If I have done anything – even a little to help small children on the road to enjoy and appreciate honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good.

If you would like to delve even deeper after reading this charming picture book biography, , I recommend picking up Beatrix Potter: A Journal,published by Penguin Books. It is made to look like Beatrix’s own scrapbook with black and white photos of her and her family, journal cards, and original sketches and paintings.

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Delve into these wonderful books with your children and let the love of nature take root and blossom in a bounty of creativity and wonder. And go out and enjoy God’s creation with your children!

Teaching children to think by Raising Children Who Read!

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Statistics have shown that in a class of 20 students, few, if any, teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with each student. These studies have also come to find that the majority of children in our generation will stop reading as soon as they no longer have to. This absolutely breaks my heart for a number of reasons. Children are no longer delighting in reading, getting swept away in a captivating story, or enjoying the wonder and fun that comes from learning.

As parents, God has trusted us with a very important job. We are here to not only be mothers, but to be teachers and instructors in all that is good and lovely in the world. In my sweet Sarah’s book, Read for the Heart, she quotes:

The first thing that a young heart needs is an education in all that is good.”

The main reason behind why children won’t find joy and excitement in reading is the fact that they are not being exposed to great books. We don’t live in a culture that is filled with very much excellence. While we may not be able to control the media of our generation, we must take on the responsibility of exposing our children to excellent books that will encourage, inspire, and help them flourish into adults who have a love of literature.

In our home, each child has his or her own book shelf. Every Christmas everyone gets their own books!

Book baskets are all over the house–with picture books, magazines, art books, and piled with all sorts of genre’s of interesting tales.

In our library, we have overstuffed recliners so anyone can go read in comfort at any time.

At bedtime we kept baskets of short stories and picture books and chapter books to keep going one more chapter each night. (and of course we always followed with cd’s of favorite music that placed beauty in their little heads as they drifted off.)

Mediocrity is natural. There are a lot of time wasters out there. However, as mothers, God has called us to the supernatural–the above and beyond of ideals that Jesus wants us to understand. We must rise above what our culture views as normal  activity and cultivate minds and hearts in our children that are excellent, joyous, and full of wonder. What we feed our children’s minds will in many ways determine what they will have in their soul to respond to when they are adults.

3 Excellent Picture Books to Introduce to Your Family This Month:

1- Tuesday by David Weisner
2- Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
3- Song And Dance Man by Karen Ackerman

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Why We Chose Home Education (One Family’s Story)

Thankfully schooling has come a long way.

Thankfully schooling has come a long way.

Today’s post is by Cherie Werner

All parents are home educators and some decide to home school.

Almost 20 years ago, my home schooling journey began with the following words, “I will never home school my children.”

 The idea of being home all day teaching my girls was not the fulfilling life I envisioned for myself. After meeting some other home school moms, however, I realized that it was not as horrendous as I had made it out to be. As I began to look at the different schooling options, I felt my heart soften towards home schooling out of a desire to do what was best for my girls at the time.

I first tried to home school when my eldest daughter was four back in 1993. This did not last long because we have similar temperaments and kept butting heads. She loved to be right, was extremely social, and talkative. As you can imagine, these traits did not create the most conducive home schooling environment. When Kindergarten came into view, I gladly enrolled my daughter in school.

A year later, our family moved to California where my eldest attended a private Christian school during first grade. She thrived in school and had a wonderful teacher. Being new to the area and school, however, I was quickly overwhelmed when I was asked to be the classroom mom, coordinator for elementary classroom moms, reading mom, etc. given I was a stay at home mom. Hah! All these roles placed my middle daughter and I up at the school a lot.  Sure I could have said no, but it seemed that I was the only one available as most of the other parents had jobs.

Working in my daughters’ classroom was extremely enlightening because I was able to observe many things firsthand. For one, I was able to identify why my daughter was constantly being reprimanded for talking and not paying attention. Every day from September till December she was given warnings and her conduct grade was always unacceptable. While I would never deny that Caryn was a talker, her desk mate played a major role in instigating conversations too and brought up topics of conversation that aroused a curiosity in my daughter that we were not ready to tackle. After three frustrating months, I suggested that the two girls be separated. Caryn went from daily disruptive offenses to compliant focused behavior and I quickly realized how socialization could be positive or negative.

While in the classroom, I also observed how little time was actually spent on teaching verses simple busy work. I began factoring in the time students spent between classroom disturbances, recess, lunch, PE, reading groups, etc… and concluded that maybe three hours daily were spent teaching core concepts.

As I began calculating what it would look like to have two children in school, I realized that I would have very little time to myself if I decided to help in both classrooms, but I knew that I ultimately was responsible for their education.  In response I prayed a simple prayer, “Lord if I am to home school my children please make it really clear.” A week later on January 30, 1996, the Wall Street Journal headlines read  “Why More Parents Teach Their Kids at Home.” To make it even clearer, home education happened to be the main topic whenever I turned on talk radio.  After these little nudges along with attending our first home school conference in July, where we heard Clay and Sally Clarkson share their heart on Educating the Whole Hearted Child, my husband became increasingly interested and supportive, and I knew that this was the direction that our family was to follow.

After the Clarkson’s workshop I had the needed confidence and encouragement to try again. They helped clarify my reasons for considering home schooling. We began thinking biblically about God’s design for our family.  Suddenly creating a loving environment for my daughters seemed feasible by giving them encouragement and guidance so they could thrive.

We decided to home school for two reasons. First, ever since our eldest started attending school we noticed that the sweet caring relationship she once had with her younger sister was no longer intact because when she came home from school the first thing she wanted to do was play with friends. Further, our second child was extremely quiet, shy, sensitive, and cautious.  When corrected she would cry and be so hard on herself because she did not like hurting others. We felt that her temperament would ultimately be broken by harsh teachers or bullying children.

A few other reasons we choose to home school and are worth considering include:

  • We wanted to be the primary educators and influencers of our daughters. (Deut. 6:7; 11:19, 32:46; Psalm 78:5 ;) We sought to have greater personal influence in preparing them for the responsibilities of adulthood.
  • We wanted our children to learn the truth of God’s Word and wisdom for their salvation in trusting Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15) and as a basis for all other areas of knowledge (Pro. 1:7).
  • We welcomed the flexibility that home schooling offered to live our family life without having to accommodate to the structure and demands of a school schedule.  This appealed to us given my husband’s extensive travel demands and because our extended family all  lived in Louisiana.

Today, my daughters are 25, 23, and 12. Looking back, I realize that God desired to educate me through the process of home schooling. While things were different back then and there were not as many options, I had the opportunity to grow alongside the changes and include things that became available throughout the years. I am thankful for the time that I had with each of my daughters and I am proud to say that my life as a home educator and mother of three was more fulfilling than I could have envisioned for myself. While home schooling was the best option for our family, schooling decisions are a personal choice that each family should prayerfully consider.

Do you homeschool? What were some of the reasons you chose this path of education for your family?

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If you have questions about home education and what it looks like to create an environment of learning naturally in your home, you can still view Sally’s E-conference from last Monday night online. Click the link below for all the information!

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Before Beginning Reading (Setting Your Children Up For Success!)

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Let’s start at the very beginning…

“Mama, p l e a s e don’t stop. I want to hear more!”

When a child breathes in the beauty, fun, inspiration of a great story, he becomes addicted to the pleasure of reading great books.

Establishing appetites for books, stories and reading creates a hunger in your child’s life for more books. From the moment my children could sit still for a few moments in my lap, I was reading to them. We had a large Richard Scary book that had lots of items labled in German and English. I made a game out of this book when Sarah was a wee toddler, and she learned all the words of both languages.

Where are the things that start with “b”? Name all of the things on this page you can eat. (Or I would say, where is an apple? Can you find something that starts with “Buh” (b sound)?

Asking questions makes for interest in new books. Who was your favorite person in the story. Would you have acted that way?

Read using your most dramatic voices–a squeak for a mouse, a booming voice for a ferocious bear and different voices for children in the story.

Reading is a mysterious process. Although various schools and experts defend their respective theories and methodologies of how to teach a child to read, no one fully understands how a child actually does learn to read. Through our many years of home schooling, we have come to find that raising children who are well equipped readers, and have a true love of reading, has helped them blossom. My children developed different habits about how often they read, what kind of books they preferred, and how early they could concentrate. Yet because we gave them delight to cuddle up on the couch to enjoy a rousing story together every day, it became a part of the oxygen of life they breathed. Now all children, in spite of differing personalities and different academic skills, love reading and love remembering all the great stories we read together.
Before your children even begin reading on their own, there are very simple, practical ways that you can introduce them to the concept. Give these tips a try these week with your little one!

Before Beginning Reading:
-Read aloud favorite illustrated storybooks every day with your child.
-Read alphabet books that contain pictures of a variety of objects for each letter.
-Play with alphabet blocks and magnetic letters to familiarize your child with the alphabet.
-Label important things in your child’s life and read them out loud every day.
-Teach your child the letters of their name, especially the beginning letters.
-Make reading books aloud  a wonderful, pleasurable time for your child.
-Create a library shelf in your child’s room to encourage ownership of books.

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Remember, start  your year off with an e-conference to inspire you to loving and training your children to excellence.

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A Mother’s Wisdom for Life Online

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I mentioned a few weeks ago that my husband and I were drafting some new screen rules for our family. We have tweaked here and there, let it sit, shared it with a few friends.  Then, there was a big, fruitful chat with the kids. Here’s a look inside our attempt to focus on building meaningful relationships and to spend more time reading things of substance.

 Screen Rules in our Home

1. Be intentional. Before you sit in front of a screen—iPhone, iPod, computer, or television, or anything else yet to be invented –ask yourself if this is really the best way to use your time.

2. All screens are to be turned off at 9:30 and plugged in in my room. All of them. Televisions obviously won’t be plugged in my room, but they will be off. We will make exceptions for big games, recognizing that there are lots of big games throughout the year. However, not every game is a big game and I’ve been around this horn before, so don’t try to persuade me otherwise.

3. You may have your screens back in the morning until 9:00 AM.  That means if you wake up early, you can catch up on your screen worlds before school and chores.  If you don’t get up and get going, you’re out of luck.  At 9:00, the only screen in front of you will be tuned to educational pursuits. Your iPhones and iPods are never necessary for those endeavors.

4. You may have your iPhones and iPods and cell phones again in the afternoon. Conditions for retrieving them: all school assignments finished. Chores for the day finished. The TV will not be turned on after dinner unless the dinner kitchen jobs are finished. I recognize that this is a very small window of evening television viewing. Read a book. I’m not kidding.  [Read more...]