I first learned of John Holt when I came across this book: Better Than School by Nancy Wallace. At that time our children where in diapers. Today, they have graduated college and are leading happy,… More
Writers make writing look so easy. Is writing as difficult for them as it is me? I’m certainly not an avid writer but I do write: journals, letters, notes, lists. I seem to be more of a lister than a writer. I have many lists of things I want to write about. The problem is getting started and I’m easily distracted. Of course any distraction could be considered a stalling tactic by the inner critic that seems to whisper disparaging remarks:
“What do YOU have to say?”
“Who wants to read THAT!”
“You can’t say that!”
And so, I find something else to do.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading about writing and writing about writing; taking notes and listing, of course. I came across this quote by E.B. White:
Writing is for most, laborious and slow. The mind travels faster than the pen.
I don’t know about my mind traveling faster than my pen but I do know my mind wanders. As for writing being laborious and slow, I think the over all process, start to finish, is arduously slow but the actually physical writing, putting pen to paper, is almost art-like; pencil and paper meet in a series of lines and curves. (Flash backs of doodling in class comes to mind! A distraction, perhaps?).
The physical act of writing is fluid and creative a lot like drawing.This notion reminded me of what I learned in Betty Edwards’ excellent book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
(I highly recommend this book, by the way! We used it for our high school art curriculum.)
But writing is an art form. Using line, one of the most basic elements of art, handwriting can function as a means of artistic self expression. …letters of the alphabet have evolved into shapes of great beauty that communicate verbally. …linking writing once again to the esthetic purpose of drawing.
Without going into all the right brain – left brain detail, one of the main ideas in Betty Edwards’ book, is how to silence the critical verbal left brain by learning to make a shift to the noncritical nonverbal right brain. It is here, in the right brain, where one looses track of time and where artisans, what ever their trade, get into “the zone”.
A surgeon once told me that while operating on a patient (mainly a visual task, once a surgeon has acquired the knowledge and experience needed) he would find himself unable to name the instruments. He would hear himself saying to an attendant, “Give me the . . .the . . . you know, the . . . thingamajig!
This shift from left brain to right brain is a skill that can be developed by setting up conditions that will allow this shift to happen. As I was learning to draw following Betty Edwards’ course in her book, I learned some of her techniques that I think have helped me with writing. Betty Edwards suggests finding a quiet place void of people talking so the left brain doesn’t focus on the task of decoding the verbal signals coming into the brain. She also suggests listening to instrumental music only; again leaving the left brain void of any verbal messages. Like with drawing, I’m finding this to be a good combination for silencing the verbal left brain critic so I can move on to the art of writing – pencil to paper, lines and curves.
So far, it seems to be working. Doodles AND words!
Imagine if when you told people you had chosen to send your kids to school, you were met with the kind of assumptions, judgement and questioning that is typical of families who have chosen to homeschool.
“I knew someone who was schooled and they were freaks”
“Oh I don’t know if she would suit school, she’s a bit too spirited for school”
“Are you going to miss them? I would just miss mine too much”
Are you concerned about negative socialisation? Bullying? Peer pressure?”
“Is that legal?”
Read the whole thing and enjoy! Source: Turning the tables: questions for school parents | Racheous
“Nothing could be more simple – or more difficult. Difficult, because to trust children we must trust ourselves – and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” Deborah Meier
“Grandma! Grandma! There are snakes in the pine trees!” our grandson shouted excitedly running to the house. Knowing that we do have at least one snake I thought to myself, “Drat, that snake had babies!”
So, I grabbed my camera and asked our grandson to show me the snakes. (Yes, I grabbed my camera! LOL) Off to the pines trees we went.
As grandson was pushing his way through the pine boughs, he was telling me to be careful. Once through, He stopped, pointed and said, “See!?”
I poked my head through the pine trees ever so carefully fully expecting to see an active nest of creepy snakes. When I didn’t see anything slithering on the ground, I asked grandson where are the snakes? And that is when he pointed up into the pine trees! “OMG,” I thought to myself growing even more creeped out. I scoured the tree branches up and down. Didn’t see a thing except needleless pine branches.
I asked him again, “Where are the snakes?”
“See! Right here!” he answered pointing to touch one of the bare branches.
“So, this is pretend, right?” I asked.
He looked up at me with a puzzled look on his face and answered, “Yeah.” (Duh, Grandma!)
Then off he ran through the pine boughs toward the house screaming excitedly, “Monster! Monster! Come on Grandma, run!”
“Imagination has no age and dreams are forever.” Walt Disney
“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” Henry David Thoreau
“Play is the work of the child.” Maria Montessori
“If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the black button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the yellow ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin.
All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.
Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories.What those books taught me, finally and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations — what they taught me was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.
Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple-choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.
I remember 15 years ago pouring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk too.
Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, “Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame.” The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleep over. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up at the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demand in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.” By Anna Quindlen Newsweek Columnist and Author
Thank you, Anna Quindlen, for this eloquent essay.
Happy Mother’s Day!
The Counting-Action Dice game is a big hit at our house: grandparent-parent tested, child approved and low tech (easy for this grandma to make).
The Counting-Action Dice game is a gross motor math game perfect for preschoolers. Kids can practice counting and one-to-one correspondence while doing fun body movements like clapping, jumping and spinning.
This math game is so simple to make and loads of fun for the kids! And because it gets them moving, it’s perfect if you’re stuck inside on a rainy or snowy day.
Also, check out Peggy Kaye‘s time-tested book Games For Math. The book addresses some basic math concepts for kindergartners through third grade. I found her book to be easily incorporated into our home school. The games are tangible ways to enjoy math. (Yes, the word “math” and “enjoy” in one sentence!)