Let’s Contemplate!

One of the introductions and taglines of my favorite homeschooling podcast Schole Sisters, is scholé everyday.

That segment is simply what are you reading now? (Of the gazillions!) How is it affecting the way you think?

One of Dr. Christopher Perrin‘s 8 Principles of Classical Pedagogy, scholé is about slowing down, engaging in thought, as to the ancient Greeks would say that the highest goal of education is friendship, discussion, seeking, and finding, and exploring the truth, goodness, and beauty in the cosmos and in one another.

Scholé may sound rather intimidating, but it is simply a leisurely, contemplative conversation. It’s a Greek term meaning leisure, from Latin “scola”, and it is where we get our modern word “school.” The modern word for school means leisure!

To us moderns, one of the tensions in the way we were brought up in traditional school is the width and span of topics, versus the depth of it.

Let’s consider Sarah Mackenzie’s Read-Aloud Revival, an encouraging take on the doability of scholé and contemplation.

Their ultimate purpose is to foster good relationship and bonding with your child:

  • What does this character want & why can’t he get that?
  • Should he have done that? Why?
    Thinking in metaphor
  • How are the characters or their items different/alike from each other?
  • Who is the _____ in this story? How and why? When did he show this ______?(Is it bold, capable, charming, considerate,cowardly, creative, dangerous, disloyal, determined, foolish, friendly, generous, grateful, honest, loving, merciful, noble, persistent, pleasant, reliable, resourceful, sad, selfish, sincere, wise?)
  • What does this story remind you of?
  • What does the character fear the most?
  • What would you chamge about this story? This character?
  • What surprised you the most? What did you expect?
  • Which character most reminds you of yourself?
  • Which part is your favorite? What is something you dont want to forget?

On the one hand, why even go deep in a topic? On another, don’t you want to raise thinkers? Surely we have more time for this now, in this pandemic?

Just 1 or 2 of these per reading is enough for a good conversation. Lovely memories are built as we aim for meaningful conversations and lasting connections with our child.

Scholé is good for Mommy first & foremost, she needs time to think deeply, to keep sharp & equipped since and even as she keeps sharpening & equipping her kids!

Certainly, Mommy will “still have her brain with her,” (to recall Susan Wise Bauer) to converse with Daddy, or her friends, long after the kids are gone and the nest is empty. 🙂

Slowly But Surely

This week I got to start on homeschooling my 6-year old gradeschool style, classical style. It was super exciting and super new! I found myself, during the preparation phase, bring out planners and stuff.

Back in Kindergarten it was easy peasy. Mental notes on her progress was enough on those 4 basic subjects. I didn’t stress at all, I am indeed blessed with a learner, who reads fantasy novels for fun! It IS her hobby!

My girls love The Hobbit, albeit read aloud for now, for my younger.
They absolutely adore the Narnia series too, pictured here is a lamp reminiscent of the one in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Snaps from Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga

This summer vacation, (oddly enough, June & July) we were able to relish more relaxed and unstructured days. We had time for movie marathons, Jd and I ofcourse “served” time redeeming them with a Biblical worldview. (More on that soon!)

But then August came and its now time for a litte more structure, and “serious” material.

Who else still finds going to school by August odd? It’s the second year of pandemic schooling and I still haven’t gotten used to it.

I was in serious trepidation for about a month, and finally, by God’s grace and much prayer, completed the planning; looking as well to quite a few Reformed homeschooling mama blogs, podcasts, and groups!

What was striking for me in one of the blogs was this encapsulation of grade school:

The goal of the elementary years (roughly 7-11yo) is to fling wide the doors of interest and cultivate the habit of attention. In addition to skill-based work like math and handwriting, we read lots of good books on a wide array of topics. You might peg some as history, science, geography, or literature, but the point is that the exposure is consistent, cheerful, and broad.

Mystie Winckler

You might peg? That’s sure made me laugh in relief! I was covering those things in my plan: math, handwriting, and included a lot of good books on history, geography, and literature. I guess we’ll be fine.

From the beginning of our classical homeschooling journey, I have decided to do it scholé & contemplation style.

Scholé is festive, a celebration, it is work, but it is work of a different order. It is leisurely work. It is blurring the lines between work and the modern definition of “leisure,” – which has somehow come to mean doing nothing, blanking your mind, and watching Netflix.

Festivity is an atmosphere. It is also a lot of work.

However, the work isn’t to glorify our own reputations or build our own kingdoms; the work is done to glorify God and honor Him – it’s a sacrifice of praise. It is worship.

Mystie Winckler

Yes, its something we try to cultivate in our home. Enjoying academic work as a feast, being in scholé while working.

I’m constantly trying to balance load and absorption. Depth versus width. Thus, oral & drawing narration prove to be the “perfect” kind of test in our home.

When Jd comes home on any given Sunday and asks me what I like about the preaching of the Word, I find myself thinking long and hard, hey, I just heard it once a few hours ago.

Thus, asking the girls open-ended questions about what they just heard read-aloud from my lesson — such a TALL ORDER!

It’s easy to ask the “Who, What, Where, When” details of any given text. Retelling a read-aloud in their own words proves comprehension and understanding.

The modern schooling we have come to grow up in seems to favor “coverage” more than understanding & comprehension; favors equipping students for a certain job, than equipping them with virtue, wisdom, and character.

Yes, in our classically schooled humble abode, our ultimate goal is equipping our kids with virtue, schooling them in the Liberal Arts, teaching the Trivium, not just equipping them for jobs, but equipping them for that, and life in general.

First Day topics

Yes, our homeschool days have bumps and bruises, and its still in its infancy stage, but I am hopeful and expectant to see God’s will unfold in the girls’ lives. I would certainly rely on God’s grace everyday!

The one thing I try to remind myself of every morning, one thing I pray continually for grace to live out, is to see the bumpy patches of our day as opportunities for growth in virtue rather than as evidence of condemnation.

It’s alarming but true: the kids are learning more from the way I handle life not going my way than they do from their books and assignments. So how I manage throughout the day and how I treat them and speak to them matters far more than anything else.

Mystie Winckler

So as I start “formal” gradeschool with my eldest, I am terribly glad to be reminded that work is worship, and its ok to be not so formal about it, if you get what I mean, and let “work” bleed into leisure, and to enjoy letting home education “bleed into life,” enjoying a full life lived together in the home.

When cleaning the house, this Proverb remains to be a great reminder. Much harvest come by the strength of the ox.

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."
Proverbs 14:4

On Games and Character

We started to play board, strategy and card games, early on, and it has been a super way to spend time, especially on lockdown mode.

It not just prevented us from being on each others throats, but it helped us develop thinking skills(the kids), teaching skills(as parent players), and of course, for all, integrity.

Other benefits include:

  1. being a good sport in winning and losing,
  2. resource management,
  3. stretching imaginative skills,
  4. vocabulary building tool,
  5. develops fine motor skills,
  6. shows the value of teamwork,
  7. prolongs attention span,
  8. stretches patience and perseverance,
  9. strengthens family relationship,
  10. learning to follow instructions carefully,
  11. exercises creativity within rule boundaries,
  12. encourages healthy competitive thinking,
  13. improves mental math skills,
  14. improves strategic planning skills,
  15. encourages teamwork, and
  16. promotes hand-eye coordination.

Need I say more?

Marbles are a pretty common thing in our home! Practically every game we could think of has been played!

Definitely a huge considerstion as an alternative to screen time! It’s not just good for protecting the children’s eyes from that ghoulish blue light, it’s good for mom sanity too!

School at home or homeschool?

I am surely much blessed with a husband who loves to be hands-on with the kids. He loves to teach, disciple, joke around, and just plain be with them. He’s gentle, but firm, the way a discipler ought to be.

This day was about going to the Maribojoc watch tower, a historical landmark and park, and get to some observing rocks, creatures, and basically any flora and fauna we could find there, basing on a rock quarrying instructional for kids that he’s found and printed.

This watch tower carries even more astounding significance because it’s a place that used to be underwater just 9 years ago. The Bohol-wide magnitude 7.2 earthquake in 2013 wreaked havoc across the island.

This particular watch tower is a Spanish colonial era National Cultural Treasure, noted for its perfect isosceles triangle figure.

It was practically pushed 50 meters (backward?), new land was created due to the earthquake! It totally stunned me, as I was here in 2010 as a backpacking traveler and waves were crashing and splashing on me as I stood on the edge of the watchtower!

Visiting it again with my family was just sort of “O what a breath of fresh air this sea air is!,” and “I’m astounded they can run around and expend their energy!,” but for my husband it’s all these learning opportunities here and there. He’s plain so good with kids, no wonder he wants more! That’s another story right there.

Homeschooling for us was a conscious decision and a worthwhile endeavor, though it definitely is more than school brought home, and this and many other trips attest to that.

A countryside drive looking for birds, even a 2-minute drive to the Rizal park to feed doves, a beach trip scrounging around for tiny crabs and and sea cucumbers and lessons on buoyancy, a cuddle-filled read aloud(we’ve wonderfully had tons of those during these lockdowns!), racing around the CPG park counting our steps, glamping in the glamping park beside the Chocolate hills, in all of these, numerous opportunities abound and we are much blessed to homeschool and enjoy it at the same time!

Granted, not many have nearby places like these to go to, but careful planning and creativity does come in handy! All these trips are short trips and we do follow health and safety protocol. (We have a wonderful chance to remove our masks when its just us!)

Our city’s main source of trade income is tourism, with that industry practically closed, we could now enjoy these places alone, whereas normally it would’ve been packed to capacity, pre-pandemic.

We even went to that glamping park with reservations, but they we’re utterly shocked someone came to check in! Since the lockdowns began, they have been receiving dine-in clients only. Thankfully we were still graciously accommodated, and even had a wonderful bonfire experience.

So, this pandemic has forced practically everybody to do school at home, and we can really attest that one look around us with fresh eyes can really do a lot to rejuvenate us, thus affirming one of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will, in, and despite seemingly dreary global circumstances .

So, this pandemic has forced practically everybody to do school at home, and we can really attest that one look around us with fresh eyes can really do a lot to rejuvenate us, thus affirming one of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will, in, and despite seemingly dreary global circumstances .