Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Trained Mine, Story of the World, First Language Lessons, and similar Homeschooling books, was at the BC Christian Home Educators Conference we attended last week. Although I appreciated her practical information about homeschooling, the comments that most gripped my brain actually had less to do with my children and more to do with my own mind.
I went to school for more than 16 years and yet it's alarming how very little I know. I'm finding this even more disconcerting as I endeavor to teach my children. However, I am discovering that my learning did not end upon graduation of university, but has probably multiplied exponentially since the arrival of the boys. Thus, my lack of "knowledge" has led me to open books and learn more (most of all - the Bible:).
Susan encouraged us, particularly mothers, to make time to read everyday. She even suggested using classical books that strain our brain. Mrs.Bauer made a case for such reading:
1) For our children. Susan begin, "Some day our children may come to us as 15 year-olds, and ask us about the ideas set forth by authors such as Hitler in Mein Kampf. Rather than sending your child to someone else for such a discussion, wouldn't you like to be able to say, 'Well...' and engage in that conversation yourself with them?" I have to admit that such reading would probably paralyze my brain, but I do have a son that might have such an aptitude. Personally, I do want to be the one discussing such heavy topics, rather than sending him to "experts" in such literature, who probably don't have my perspective on life. This means I need to start exercising my brain already. Susan suggested starting with 15 minutes a day. She reminded us that the brain is a muscle and therefore needs to be worked up gently, but consistently and diligently.
2) For the mommies. Susan said we should read for ourselves, as well. She discussed how often we get bogged down with the daily tasks at hand, and don't allow ourselves the pleasure of reading.
Susan also made some suggestions about when to read, etc. She pointed out that our minds are freshest in the morning and therefore we should read then. She also told us how she keeps her children in their rooms until 8am, when she and her husband have finished their "reading time".
Now, I have to be honest that I struggled with some of the things she said in this session.
First, my time in God's Word must be the number one reading activity in my life! As part of a Berean Bible Study, this has meant a commitment to spend at least one hour a day in His Word and in prayer. At times this has been a struggle, but often, if I'm undisturbed (ie. I've gotten up before the boys:), this is truly food for me to help get through my day.
Considering more reading projects, therefore, is a stretch. However, I do agree with Susan's point that we need to be reading mothers: reading for our children, reading for ourselves. I enjoy reading, but have to admit that I generally read material that is below my reading level. (Susan discussed 3 reading levels: instructional (stretching); on level; and below level). My goal is to read "brain building material" 15 minutes 3 times a week. This may have to be in the evenings, contrary to Mrs. Bauer's suggestion, but in my life that's the only way I could consider it. Plus, this will mean that I've had the day to ponder God's Word and guide me as I encounter man's ideas, as written on the page.
I'll continue this topic tomorrow. Susan talked about reading books 3 times, which sounded impossible to me. I'd like to get your opinions on her ideas.