Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smart Moves

My potty book is currently a book titled Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not all in Your Head by Carla Hannaford. I picked up the book at a homeschool curriculum fair this past Summer because in its center are exercises designed to improve concentration which I wanted to use with the children. I really didn't mean to read the whole book until I decided maybe I should read at least as far as the exercises lest I miss some vital piece of explanation about how to do them. I am so glad I decided to jump in. It's been a bit hairy as the writing is rather technical and reading it in dribs and drabs (so to speak..teehee) has caused me to go back and read and re-read just to keep focused but it is convicting me that some long-held supicions of mine are actually true.

The author is discussing how brain function is related to movement. She puts forth the importance of movement in order for healthy brain development to happen at all stages of life - from pre-natal to death (I just read the assertion that elderly people who dance or play an instrument are much less prone to Alzheimer's and dimentia). This sounds reasonable and perhaps even obvious but when you begin to look at how our culture views the link between motion and learning we can see how well-accepted methods just don't work to optimize brain power.

How often do we tell children to essentially sit down and shut up? We want the feet of their chairs on the floor, their legs facing forward, their pencil held correctly, their bodies erect with no tapping, humming, knee jerking or gum chewing. When reading a book, they should be reading silently without whispering or moving fingers along the words. And here's the one that gets me - I don't know how many times I've heard the stories of motion-charged children being denied recess if they couldn't sit still. The author of this books presents that none of us can learn without motion because it is the motion, the use of muscles, that solidifies the information in our brains and builds up all those nifty little chemicals and connections necessary for true mastery of a subject. Even just talking about a subject exercises muscles in the jaw and face (and hands for the more animated among us) which helps to fix the subject in our brains.

It's all very fascinating to me and is turning on its head some of the ways we do things around here with our homeschooling subjects. This is definitely a good read - particularly for anyone parenting a struggling learner.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm blogging, I'm blogging!

Compliments of Ted Rall.

An Accidental Prayer

Tad and I have been starting out our mornings with the morning prayers in the back of the Orthodox Study Bible so one of the intercessions I've been praying every morning goes like this:

Save, O Lord, and have mercy upon all world rulers, on our president, and on all our civil authorities. Speak peace and blessing in their hearts for Your holy church and for all Your peoples, in order that we may live a calm and peaceful life, in all godliness and dignity.

The president part I get and I always throw in those who seek the office of the president (now changed to president-elect) but I always sort of thought the civil authorities prayer was a bit out of place in this nation so I figured I was praying for folks in other nations who don't enjoy the freedoms we do here.

Then about two weeks ago someone from the animal investigation unit of the Sheriff's department showed up at my doorstep. He sat in his car in the driveway for a long time where he was quickly noticed by a lot of inquisitive children peering through the bay window at him. Finally, he approached the house rather sheepishly and explained that someone had called and complained about our chickens. I had (sort of) checked the zoning laws on that so I knew we could legally have the chickens but I didn't know the exact parameters of the law. Turns out there is a limit on the number of domestic pets we can have - to include the chickens. This fellow - a civil authority - was very kind, generous and certainly helped me retain my dignity in what could have been a sticky situation.

It wasn't until a day or two ago that I grasped the role of this prayer in that situation. I do have to admit to a certain amount of fear that someone will dislike our extremely counter-cultural lifestyle and send CPS here for some bogus charge. In fact, we have a contingency plan in place for just such an occurrence. Even in a country where we do have a lot of freedoms there are always those who will seek to encroach upon them. And to whom will they turn when they do? The civil authorities. I have nothing to fear, however, if my prayers truly avail the solace of authorities into whom God speaks "peace and blessing into their hearts for [His] holy church and for all [His] peoples." My friend from the sheriff's office may have been sent precisely to teach me that lesson.