My sailor has gone to Texas for a month. We got up at 5:30 to take him to the airport, so an hour of quiet time has just begun around here. I wish they’d all sleep, but I suppose that’s too much to hope for.
I decided to make it a tv-free month (which made Wayne decide to take the PS3 with him, naturally). I also decided to deactivate my Facebook account. I just needed a break. Yes, another one. So if you happened to notice that I’m not there, don’t take it personally. I didn’t unfriend you. I’m just working out my thoughts about social media and self-promotion and virtual life in general. I just finished a book called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. I really enjoyed it. He basically says that the way we use the internet is making our brains more easily distracted, unable to focus on one thing. I read Alone Together about a year ago, and she focused more on social aspects of virtual life. This book focused more on how our brains have actually changed. Anyway, I find myself annoyed at social media more often than not, and yet I can’t stop the blamed scrolling! I have tried settings where I only see “close friends” in my feed, but that doesn’t help because there are so few people in that feed that it doesn’t scratch the itch, so to speak, so I end up clicking over to the full news feed…whereupon I get annoyed. The whole circle is annoying. And yet I do want some of the information that I get there. I don’t know what the answer is. For now, my account is deactivated. I’m not making any grandiose predictions of how long that will last.
I am working to make our home more book-centered. A culture of books. It’s a constant battle, given the ever-present allure of screens of all sizes. My daughter is certain that she’s the last 10 year old in the free world without a cell phone – a smart phone, no less – and sometimes I think she might be. (Along with my niece, that is. My sister and I are holding the line, but I think we’re the last ones fighting the battle.) I want my kids to read. And I mean a lot. I listened to a lecture by a writing instructor who advised: “If you’re not reading aloud to your kids, start. If you already are, do it more. You can’t do too much of it.” So we’ve started listening to audio books in the car. I’m also reading to them, but it is so easy to skip and so hard to be consistent. I’m hoping a month without tv will help.
I ordered a box curriculum for each of the girls this year. Up until now, I’ve pieced things together, one subject from this company, this subject from another company…which meant that I came up with all my own lesson plans as well. And all the memory work. I felt like I needed more structure – structure provided by someone else, that I just had to follow. I’m hoping this change will be a big help to me this year. It cost a good bit more, but I love that everything is laid out, and that, if all goes well, we can continue on this path for future grades and know that all the “stuff” is getting covered. No more worrying about when we should read Shakespeare and when we learn the states and capitols and when we memorize the presidents…I can just open the lesson plan and go. At least that’s the hope.
I read two books this summer that I think will really change our homeschool, particularly with regard to priorities. The Latin-Centered Curriculum was the first. As so often happens to me, I heard of it, thought it sounded crazy, decided to read the book just in case, and ended up being convinced. Or at least partly convinced. That author heavily referenced another book, Climbing Parnassus, so I decided to read that one, too. And I LOVED it. Both books are calling for a return to classical education, which focuses on the study of Latin and Greek. The first book gives some arguments for why, but is more practical in giving schedules and advice on specific books and curricula. The second is totally dedicated to the why of classical education. The arguments are splendid and inspiring and for me, entirely convincing. The company I ordered our books from, Memoria Press, organizes their materials around these same principles. School starts 4 weeks from today. I can’t wait to get started.