Saturday, March 19, 2011

Autumn memories

Autumn (Fall) has to be my most favourite time of year!
I love the cool after the stifling heat and humidity of late summer in Sydney.
Actually if you are not from Sydney and are ever thinking of visiting, may I recommend you visit in Autumn? It's the best time in Sydney in my opinion. (That's some free advice for you, no charge):)

But more than the cool change in the temperatures,the bright sunny days, the change in the colour of the leaves etc the things that make autumn more special for me these days is the memories it brings back.

You see it was on a beautiful sunny autumn day 7 years ago that Ron and I welcomed Rebekah Faith into this world. She arrived a month early to our surprise but who would complain after having waited for so many years for her!

(apologies for the picture, it's a picture of a picture as we didn't have a digital camera then, this was one of the very first pictures taken of Rebekah)

We had to leave in her in the hospital for a week after I checked out as she was having feeding problems. So after a painful and tiring week, we brought her home on another gorgeous sunny autumn day. (I remember walking out the hospital doors and wondering if we were actually allowed to do this? Didn't we need some sort of permission to take her home? How could they just let us walk off with her? I think Ron was feeling the same way and in that nervous but excited and euhporic state, we didn't buckle her into her baby capsule properly! It wasn't until we'd driven down the road a kilometre or so that I turned back to check on her and realised our mistake, oops! But anyway I've digressed!)

So, autumn and these beautiful days take me right back to that time in 2004.

Also it was in autumn 24 years ago that I migrated to Australia with my mum, step-dad and my younger sister.
I remember the excitement of arriving in this new land that we had heard so much about from our relatives living here.
The cool sunny weather that greeted us, the new experiences of living here, new discoveries, new accents, new ways of doing things, new people etc. Those memories are etched in my mind.

So, each autumn brings back nostalgic memories of these two important events of my life.
The anticipation and excitement of moving here along with those first initial impressions of this beautiful land and the lovely people, and the joy and exhilaration of giving birth to our precious daughter along with those first euphoric days and weeks in my life as a new mum. I just love autumn!

What is your favourite season of the year and is it because of special memories or is it because of the weather?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nature Study in our (tiny) back yard

One of the biggest components of a Charlotte Mason education and one that sets her apart from many others is the importance of nature study!

I was really blessed to find out about and read her philosophies on education when Rebekah was two.

One thing that I immediately incorporated into our life style was getting out into nature, exploring and observing. I found that to my surprise, I actually liked being out there. I was a city girl, grew up in a concrete jungle in one of the biggest cities in India and didn't like the out doors too much. Then I moved to Australia and a few years later married my dearest husband who just loves nature, bush walking, being out there in nature etc! Opposites do attract!

Anyway I've digressed. I gradually started to 'tolerate' the outdoors with my hubby.

However it was not until I started getting outdoors with Rebekah and truly 'observing' nature, taking note of the flowers, the trees, the birds etc that I actually started to like nature.

Nature has so much to teach us. "The heavens display the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands" is so true!
There is also so much joy in truly taking in nature. I now find it very relaxing being outdoors.

So.... we were living in small unit(apartment) when we began our venture into nature study.
I remember one of the very first experiences with Rebekah and nature study: it was observing a bird on our balcony and identifying it as a common myna (sorry guys, I did not even know what a myna was before that! I know, I know, how bad was I, I told you I grew up in a concrete jungle:) ). That experience is etched in my memory because it was so exciting for both of us to observe a bird and then identify it for the first time from a book!

Fast forward about four years and it has become second nature to us! Rebekah can identify and name least fifteen to twenty birds now.

Late last year we had a long period of rain and we had to stay indoors a lot. I remember one rainy day we saw a black bird in our back yard. School being done for the day, we stood near our glass sliding door and looked out over our rainy back yard, spending considerable time just watching this little blackbird, observing it to see what it was up to. It was actually one that was nesting between our fence and our neighbours fence! After observing it for some time Rebekah yelled out " I just LOVE nature". Any Charlotte Mason mum would tell you what joy that brings to her heart! I was thrilled to say the least!

So, when I was working on our end of term reports last year, as I was collating all the work we had done for 'nature study' to include in my reports, I found that there was SO much we had done in our tiny back yard, which actually is a court yard to be more accurate!

Below are just some of the things we've observed and studied from our suburban court yard :

- A baby blackbird (that fell out of it's nest - mentioned above)

- A centipede

- A tadpole that we kept to watch it grow and develop but which unfortunately escaped when we were on holidays last year after it's legs grew:)

A flower from one of our plants:

We still don't know it's name but it's from this plant below, a very common one around here but I can't seem to find it in our flower book! Can anyone help me out here? :)

All of these we read about and / or drew in our nature journals.

Besides the above, we observed ants, kept an ant farm, observed the sky, clouds, stars, moon, the trees change with the seasons, birds, flowers, spiders, slaters etc.

I would say that because our eyes have been opened to observe nature, we find / found there was so much to observe and learn about just from our tiny court yard!

Charlotte Mason said the following about nature study:

"We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things."

“There is no part of a child's education more important than that he should lay - by his own observation - a wide basis of facts towards scientific knowledge in the future."

"Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life."

Nature study is meant to form a foundation for the higher years of science study besides being a source of delight!
It truly is a source of delight to us at the moment and I am trusting that it's also laying a strong foundation in Rebekah that will help her as she learns more science in the years to come!

p.s I am in the process of submitting this post to the CM Blog carnival (who? lil ol' me? I know, who would have guessed!):)
If you are wanting to read more, click on the Fisher Academy blog on my blog list (on the right) and you'll find many more blog posts by others on Charlotte Mason!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

We're done, yay!

Hooray, this week Rebekah finished year 1!

I used the 'better late than early' approach and began formal studies using our Year 1 curriculum with Rebekah very gently when she was about to turn 6 which was a year ago.
It was a year of trial and error, chopping and changing books and methods, routines etc. Can I say we're in a 'groove' yet? Not sure! Sometimes it felt like we were in our 'groove' only for things to change, but hey, it's all part of the journey and we are still loving it!

At the end of each term we did our 'exams' Charlotte Mason style mostly and I was amazed at the amount that Rebekah retained from her books.
For instance, during these latest exams, she narrated back so beautifully an Aesop's Fable that I read to her just once more than one month ago!
Charlotte Mason was right about using 'narration' as opposed to 'fill in the blanks'.
We used mostly living books barring one text book for this last term. We had trouble with some of the more 'textbook' type of books with this curriculum and I found that she was not able to narrate back much nor recall much at the end of term exams for term 2. The one textbook we used this term was for science (Growing strong and healthy), and from this she did remember quite a bit and did well with her exam questions which I was pleased about.
We also did a combined term 3 and 4 as we were lagging behind in the schedule put out by "Living Books Curriculum". I adapted it and made our own schedule for this last term and finished it on time!

All in all, I am pleased with Rebekah and how well she has done this year. Great job Rebekah!

And oh, just to make it more 'official' I bought these certificates from ebay which I awarded to her at the end of each term. Well, I am her teacher after all, so I can do this right? :)

So, we will have a bit of a break before we begin Year 2 so Rebekah will have more time to do this (not that she doesn't already, but there will be more!):


and this: