Living Stones Academy

Educating by atmosphere, discipline, and life

Accidental school

on November 29, 2010

I think I mentioned in a blog earlier that I was departing from traditional–or I suppose, strict–Charlotte Mason by not starting with “classic” artists for art study. I chose to start with local culture, since we live in Japan, and introduced the kids to Hokusai. His paintings of Mt. Fuji are everywhere, and so far we’ve looked at Great Wave off Kanagawa, Thunderstorm at Mt. Fuji, Sailing Ships at Sea, and Cherry Blossoms in Bloom at Mt. Fuji. When I first started looking for pictures to show the kids, I found a website all about the artist, and discovered that he and other Japanese artists were highly influential in the art work of those classic artists–Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, etc! So really, without realizing it, I was starting with an excellent segue. I will next be moving into Van Gogh, and have the kids compare some of his side by side with Hokusai to see the similarities.

So that was a fun discovery. But just recently I discovered another one.

For no real reason, except that it was there, I picked up my Washington Irving book and started reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to the kids. I started it in mid-November, reading a little at a time each day. For those that are like me–you know the story but have never actually read the book–it’s quite a lot to wade through, especially reading it to little kids. It is absolutely beautiful though, the language is so descriptive and engaging and amusing, it’s a wonderful read aloud and definitely would qualify as a “beautiful” book by CM standards.

The day after Thanksgiving is a day in progress for us as a family. I’d like it to be a day of Christmas music, decorating, and fun, but most years that just doesn’t happen. This year we actually took 2 whole days after Thanksgiving cleaning up and putting away from Thanksgiving dinner! (Thanks to 6 people who confirmed they’d show up but then never even called to say they weren’t coming. My husband works with an interesting command here. No one from the Kitty Hawk would have dared miss a Stone dinner . . .but then they knew what to expect. 😀 So at any rate, we were stuck with an exorbitant amount of food and had to figure out freezer storage and the like.) On top of that, I started to come down with a cold on Thanksgiving day that has further blossomed over the weekend. Nevertheless, I started to at least plow ahead with Nicholastide, even if we can’t start decorating.

Nicholastide is something we discovered a few years ago. I won’t go into all the reasons and wherefores, but suffice it to say we really like the pre-Protestant custom of honoring the life of the real Santa Claus as a nice lead in to celebrating Christ’s birth. We’re still working out how we want to go about it. But this year, I had gone to the library and found some children’s books to read, so decided to start reading one of them on Friday.

That’s when I found my other accidental segue! I’m almost done with Sleepy Hollow. According to the children’s book I found on the history of the legend of Santa Claus, Washington Irving’s love of New York Dutch culture extended to their tales of Sinter Cleus, and he wrote about it in his book Knickerbocker’s History of New York! Which in turn inspired Clement Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (“twas the night before Christmas”). What a great way to continue our literary vein! Unfortunately our library doesn’t have it, so I’ll instead be putting together a curriculum for next year, in which I’ll read Rip van Winkle in November and move into his tales of  St. Nick from Knickerbocker’s.

This is all reminding me that I’ll be learning as much as–if not more than–my children as I continue to guide them through their education. What a wonderful thing, and I pray I stay teachable so they can learn that useful quality.

(PS–for the record, this blog entry is not meant to lead to a discussion of the appropriateness of reading certain things to little ones, or whether ghost stories are acceptable ever, or any other such topic; so no debate please)

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One response to “Accidental school

  1. Karin says:

    Hi Tanya, that sounds wonderful! I really like how you’re going about this homeschooling venture, and how you’re obviously thriving on it yourself. I bet the kids love it, too…

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