Sunday, October 2, 2016

School & Farmer Boy

We're 5 weeks into the school year so far. It's going to be another great year!! This year we're studying the 1850's to the modern times - I'm excited. Things are finally coming together and we're back into our rhythm, for the most part.



Livvy is in 6th grade this year. She continues to get up early to try to get it all done before lunch. Sammy, 4th grade, is not far behind her, not getting up quite as early, but racing to see who can get their work done first.

I've made time with Ben my priority this year - setting up everybody else up with something to watch so that we have uninterrupted quiet time to school (I'm not thrilled about it, but it really seems to be the best option right now). Even though Ben would rather be watching something too, it seems like he really loves the one-on-one time and is doing well. Technically he's 2nd grade this year, but he's a little behind in reading. We just added another thing to his school, a program called Fast ForWord. It promises to help rewire some foundational connections in the brain to help with reading, math, memory, etc. I'm very excited about it for Ben.

Jon is in kindergarten this year - he's doing a great job with his numbers/math and reading. And last, but not least, Danner refuses to be left out of school. As soon as I sit down with Jon, Danner sits down too and demands that he gets some school too - playdough,  "fishing" (cut-out fish with paper clips on them that he catches with a magnet on a string), or the tiny cars in one of the school-boxes seems to satisfy him.


The first book on our read-aloud list this year is Farmer Boy - what a great book!! I'm loving the book for its insight into parenting and life for farmers back in the late 1800's. I'm fascinated by the level of obedience, perseverance, and non-whiny attitudes about really hard work. Not that I want to go back in time or recreate Almanzo's life today - I love my dishwasher, washer and dryer, and store-bought clothes and groceries (lazy as all of those might seem to Mr Wilder), I love the natural self-discipline and self-esteem that all of that hard work creates. We are a society so bent on being comfortable and entertained that we whine about any kind of real work and have to manufacture self-esteem in our children with sticker charts and conjured up praise. It's really kinda sad. I want what Almanzo had for my kids, but honestly we have such little real work to do that it's almost impossible without selling it all and buying 20 acres out in the boonies somewhere.

Besides the chores, I love the wisdom that Mr Wilder has regarding what Almanzo can and cannot do. For example, when Almanzo's bobsled turns over, Mr Wilder just keeps going by (the first time when he knows that Almanzo needs to and can, with a lot of hard work, right the bobsled and learn a great lesson at the same time). Most modern day readers are appalled that a parent wouldn't stop and help his kid. But, by not helping, Mr Wilder allowed Almanzo to do something for himself, allowed Almanzo to accomplish something hard for himself - what an amazing thing to do for a kid! Sometimes by stepping in and helping our kids, we are actually telling them they can't do it, that they need help. By allowing them time to work it out for themselves, we give them so much more - an opportunity to do something that they might not even thought they could, building in them a great sense of accomplishment and to "know what they are really made of".

It  would be great to somehow meld the good from both the Farmer Boy and modern world so that our children grow up with the inner strength from not only knowing who they are spiritually (God's children, holy and loved), but also useful, hard-working adults that aren't afraid to really work at something without whining about not being spoon-fed.

Anyway...

The kids really love the book too. They seem to relish all the details about how things were built and all the work that had to be done. I can see their minds churn as they try to picture themselves on Almanzo's farm, milking the cows, cutting ice out of the river, planting the potatoes, and saving the corn-field from frost. They have especially enjoyed hearing about the food. So much so that we started our co-op early one Friday morning so that our good friends, the Finney's, who have also been reading the book, could come over and have a Farmer Boy breakfast together. In true Farmer Boy fashion, they had to do some work before eating - we had them pick all the apples off of our tree before breakfast - too bad we don't have a cow for them to milk. It was a very fun and tasty breakfast for sure!

Making doughnuts.
A tree full of kids.
Enjoying apple pie, doughnuts, sausage, biscuits and gravy, and preserves. 

More fun times to come!!

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