Thursday, October 17, 2019

Homeschool round-up: Month #1

I was hoping that school would provide a good structure for our day after summer travel.

Read on to see how our first month went!

Week one:

I was right. I fell in love with our new daily routine. I got up early enough to cook breakfast to eat with Andrei before he left for work. Then schoolwork with David, which we managed to finish in an hour or 90 minutes. After that, outside time.

Home from the walk in plenty of time to eat lunch, then finish up any remaining read-alouds. And...the day was still young! I did dinner prep and sometimes we went outside for another walk before dinner. The kids were getting little to no screentime because we were reading books for school all day, which inspired imaginative play.

We had friends over.

We would wash dishes gradually throughout the day and pretty much stay on top of it (we don't have a dishwasher).

In the evening I would get to bed early, exhausted and still a little bit jet-lagged.

Then we hit some roadblocks and it got harder:

Saturday, October 5, 2019


The other day my kids were listening to a YouTube playlist and in an otherwise normal list of kids' songs I kept hearing the lyrics "we've got the whole world in our hands." My son is quick to point out where something deviates from the Bible stories he's been told, and said "It's not WE, it's GOD." (he gets confused about the concept of Mother Nature, too)

I didn't really want to criticize the song, but here my son had pointed it out, so it was discussion time.

Song background: Although we may sing it traditionally as a children's song, the original song was an African-American spiritual. Interestingly enough, it was my (Russian) husband who introduced me to Mahalia Jackson, whose recording of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" is one of the more popular ones.

When I stopped to think about it, I realized that the altered lyrics likely had a connection to environmentalism. So I talked about that a little bit. It doesn't contradict the biblical idea of Creation, merely reminds us that the earth is God's precious creation, for us to protect as we can.

P.S. When I finally went ahead and looked it up, I found that a children's book came out a few years ago to this effect. You can look up "We've Got the Whole World in our Hands" by Rafael Lopez.

Since everyone was talking about Greta Thunberg and the Climate Summit last week (2 weeks ago?), it has been on my mind.

When I take a minute to contemplate, I don't think I'm really comfortable with putting ourselves in place of God. It's because the earth is the Lord's that we should care about it at all, not because it is completely "in our hands." I want so much to be a good steward and also reflect Christ in the way I care about the environment. However, an alarmist approach really turns me off and I don't want to live in fear. I'm glad there are activists and I'd be fine with making some changes to reduce consumption. I haven't actually talked to my kids much about this topic, but I'm sure it will come up!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Towards a bilingual education

Andrei and I argued about bilingualism years before we even started dating.

He wasn't convinced true bilingualism was really possible, and I was determined to have a bilingual child in order to prove him wrong. I don't think I actually expected that we would marry each other, but I guess the thought of cross-cultural marriage didn't seem so far-fetched.

Of course, I'm oversimplifying the discussion. Here are some of the issues we argued about:

-Young children will get the two (or more) languages mixed up. I've seen clear evidence to this NOT being the case. Kids do mingle languages, but this happens when they either are missing a vocabulary word in one language, or a word is just easier to say in one of the languages. There's a more scientific way to say this, but basically it's selective, not a moment of confusion.

Although our kids insert the "other" language into their speech sometimes, they also have no problem distinguishing between the two. Case in point: Both of them, when still speaking only a few words, called us Mommy/Daddy or Mama/Papa depending on who they were talking to. Sophia will call me "Mommy" in English, but complain (ha) about "Mama" to Andrei. Same with "Papa," she will call him that to his face but turn around and tell me what "Daddy" is doing.

I guess that didn't really prove my point. Another example might be when David is talking about bugs and uses the Russian name for a bug because it's one he hasn't encountered in the U.S. or English-language nature shows. He's not confused, he just doesn't know the word.

-Bilingual kids will be behind their peers. I actually use this excuse a lot to go slower with school work. I don't completely agree because I think David in on par with his peers in many subjects. Even precocious in certain contexts. However, I will admit that if you run the numbers, it's hard for bilingual kids to receive the same input. If they are conversing 12 hours a day, in two languages equally, they will have only 6 hours of language acquisition as opposed to children who are exposed to one language. That's just the way it is. And it might not matter beyond a certain age, but there certainly might be manifestations in a younger child.

June 2022

So, we are 4 months into what's happening in our part of the world...though, of course, we live pretty far from the border!   Currently:...