So I like to try and keep up with the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. It actually has worked out very well for me because I had read through Charlotte’s first five volumes and was ready to begin the sixth when the carnival began its series of going through the 6th section by section. So it has kept me on track. But I am a little bit flummoxed as to how to approach this week’s portion on “Knowledge of the Universe: Physical Development & Handicrafts.” Here is what Charlotte has to say on the topic in its entirety:
“It is unnecessary, too, to say anything about games, dancing, physical exercises, needlework and other handicrafts as the methods employed in these are not exceptional.” (pp. 233-34)
I suppose what she means is that relative to her contemporaries, she really didn’t do much differently in these areas. But what am I to say??
Well, I can at least tell you how we try to incorporate these things in our life.
For the most part I outsource both these subjects. My kids are currently taking gymnastics, dance and track. No kid takes all three, of course, but they all do gymnastics. In the past we have also regularly done things like swimming and ice skating which we need to get back into. One thing we have done consistently is homeschool park days. Though I have written in the past about some of the problems that have arisen at park days, they are about one of the best things in our lives and I highly recommend them. Our local group has the use of indoor facilities so we can even do park days in January and February. I have heard from friends who moved away that such things are not always available. If they are not in your area, I would encourage you to try starting a regular weekly park day. The way it works around here is that someone is in charge and sets a roster of parks we rotate around to. The time is always the same (noon on Thursdays). There is no need to RSVP (though it is always nice to know who is going to be there). There is no agenda or set program. The kids just play. And they do a really good job of playing altogether. I have never seen bullying there. Boys and girls play together. Different ages play together. They make up their own games and have to agree on the rules. There are a lot of skills that are learned at park day. Plus they get a lot of exercise. I was at a friend’s house last night and one of the moms asked another what the kids were playing. She responded, “I don’t think it’s a real game. It’s just something they made up.” Which seems to me like a really silly statement (no offense to my friend; I am sure I have said similar things in the past). If it has rules and they are managing to play it, it is a game. If it is something no one else has ever done before, so much the better.
One final note on PE, we have in the past used Fit Deck Jr., a set of card each with a different exercise on it. I would let each child (I have four) pick a card and we would do that exercise. It makes a nice break between bouts of reading and gets the blood flowing.
I live with an artist. She is currently 11 years old, but she has ben an artist for a while. It is just her nature. I long abandoned coming up with crafts for my kids to do. This one comes up with her own. She has taught herself to quilt, knit and crochet. She spent her money on a rigid heddle loom. She draws, paints, beads, sculpts, zentangles and whatever else she can think of. My younger daughter is also apt to be doing crafts on her own. The boys less so, though they do occasionally draw something or make things out of paper. They also build with legos and lately all the kids have been working on a video they are making on the computer, even roping their friends in to play parts. My point is I am blessed with kids who seem to find their own ways to be creative so I don’t feel too much pressure in that area.
We have done outside classes in drawing and pottery in the past.
At the moment we are not doing regular art classes outside the home though we did recently all do a fused glass workshop. Even the boys were interested in this. My older daughter actually teaches art to other girls once a month or so (more often in the summer). She comes up with projects, sometimes based on an artist or style of art, sometimes not, and shows them all what to do. For example, recently they discussed gothic architecture and made gargoyle masks.
There are all sorts of ways to be creative. One thing Charlotte emphasized was to make one’s handicrafts practical and not just more clutter to fill up the house. This is a very good idea, take it form one with an awful lot of craft clutter.
And that is how we approach PE and handicrafts; how about you?