Thursday, September 15, 2011

Parent Perspective

Parent Perspectives will show up on the blog from time to time. They are written by parents for parents to offer encouragement, tips and perspective on various aspects of home schooling.  If you'd like to participate, please email

Joy Newman and her husband, Cade, have three kids: Eli (Intermediate), Abraham (Kindergarten) and Esther (age 4).  This is their fourth year at SLOCA.

What I Did This Summer
by Joy Newman

What I did this summer is read. I read two books from the summer book list (The Core and  Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America) and found myself not only educated, but inspired and convicted.  

We’ve all heard of the trivium and how the grammar stage is the time when children are easily able to memorize many facts.  I was encouraged to initiate more of this with our young children and take advantage of their spongy brains after reading The Core.  I found myself underlining so many passages in this book! (If you read it, let’s go to coffee and tawk!)

I also realized I need to be practicing, learning, challenging myself and tackling hard tasks alongside my children. Why will they believe me when I tell them hard work is rewarding when they never see me doing anything hard?  Do I try new things and model resiliency and courage?  Once I recognized my own shortfalls in this area, I determined to change--to learn alongside them, to memorize and recite poems, to learn how to draw maps, to recall the five kingdoms, to study the periodic table of elements. I should be participating with them and continuing my own journey of life-long learning.

We began simply by adding one element to our summer to-do list: memorize a poem and have a family recitation night. I felt, dare I say, nerdy for putting this on our list because who does this? We do not know anyone who has organized their own home recitation night but, we forged ahead. It took several evenings of pouring through poetry books to pick a poem of interest and of appropriate level for each person.  Then we began to memorize them. Review occurred rather sporadically, as we remembered.  Of course, the kids memorized my poem before I did because they fed me lines, but that’s okay.  We put recitation night on the calendar and had each family member stand and, with proper form, recite. Everyone had a brief moment on stage and then it was over. It took less than five minutes and we celebrated by going out to ice cream.  We have decided to carry this on and try for one recitation night a quarter.

What did I learn by doing this? I learned that memorizing is hard work! My brain does not remember as well as it used to, but I also learned that just as I tell my children, it takes practice.  Success doesn't come easily and even I felt a sense of accomplishment reciting my (short) poem.  I was also reminded of the sweetness and value in togetherness--learning together, doing together, being challenged and realizing success together.

I hope you'll forgive me but I am posting the video of my children reciting their poems. It won't take long to watch, I promise.  My husband, Cade memorized Psalm 23 from the Bible and I memorized "Afternoon on a Hill" by Edna St. Vincent Millay. We are not in the video. 


Jenny Bischoff said...

Love it.
I want to see the videos of Joy and Cade!!! :)

Anonymous said...

love it! loved it all...especially the 'who does this?' comment,lol.
thanks for being so candid(&nerdy) Joy!