Saturday, February 3, 2007

Watching children percolate

Saturday, February 3, 2007

My version of "2nd Cup"...

Before I proceed on with this, I want to make clear that parents do not have to homeschool their children to be interested in the following ideas.

Take a minute to look at this definition of percolate: I have been watching my children percolate since 1996, and it is my favorite part of being a mom. I was born in 1966 and consider myself an "old mom". I wish I had not been so caught up in "me" and "my plan" for so many years. I wish I had stopped and considered my vocation. Well, enough of that....I've found my calling and, while God loves a penitent, He does not want us mired down in our remorse. Back to percolating. I love coffee and I love watching children learn. I love observing how they learn and why. I have spent many hours just allowing them to be. I am not the first to observe that children, like ivy, "creep and leap," that is to say that they percolate. They look like they are doing nothing that is academic or intellectual: picking grass, scootering up and down the driveway, laying on the coach, petting the dog, drawing pictures, pinching clay, all these activities they are processing what you have talked to them about, what they have watched in life and on video/film, what they have read or you have read to them. A little formal learning needs lots of informal processing time and, if they are pushed and not allowed to percolate, they will "make" yucky, watery coffee. Having lived in Spain and tasted expresso that is like wine and cappucino that will "knock your socks off," as my dad used to say so often, American coffee is similar to much of conventional American education. (Although, this is a good place to mention that the "times they are a changing," and American coffee and American ideas are showing a turn for the better.)

Last winter, when all my percolating was done and my husband and I made the decision to homeschool our three children for a time, my friend, Rachel, a veteran homeschooler, came to my aid with some important literature by such education luminaries as Drs. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, John Holt and John Taylor Gatto. The Moores are known for their common sense approach to raising children. They are Christians who believe in walking the walk, as well as talking it, simply and beautifully. Holt and Gatto are provocative and need to be read prayerfully. The good Lord knows that we Amercian parents need to be provoked. Our ideas need to change or our grandchildren will not inherit the "land of the free" envisioned by our founding fathers. I like the writings and thinking of St. John Bosco, Edith Stein, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Liseaux.

All parents are involved in the duty of home education. I have known this intuitively since our first child, Maggie, was in the womb. I had had a miscarriage several months earlier, and was indescribibly grateful for the free gift of this child. I read Don Quixote to her when she was en utero. It was a great big, picture-book edition, and I began, at that point, to rethink my life. I began to examine where I had been, where I was and where I wanted to go as a wife and mother. I'll pick this up later.

The main point is that children have so much to teach us. When given proper nutrition, lots of time outdoors, plenty of rest and edifying learning materials, they tend toward the good, the true, and the delightful. Our Savior told us to be like them. Children are quick to forgive each other. One minute they can be quarelling and, the next minute, all is well. Each of my three are utterly unique persons, but they all share in common an innocence that is worth preserving.

Last fall, this book changed my thinking at a time when I needed some help being a better "heart of my home". I firmly believe that God puts people and books (books are "people" too <:) in our lives to change us. If we love as God would have us love, then we are in a constant mode of transformation. We are never a "done deal".

The Temperament God Gave You

Unlock the secret of your personality and learn how to be a better spouse, parent,
friend, and Christian!
All of us are born with distinct personality traits.
Some of us live for crowds and parties; others seek solitude and time for quiet
reflection. Some of us are naturally pushy, while others are content just to get
along. We don’t pick and choose these traits; they’re just part of the way we’re

For in the womb God doesn’t merely mold our body; He also gives us the
temperament that, all our days, colors our understanding, guides our
choices, and serves as the foundation of our moral and spiritual

Ancient philosophers identified four basic temperaments, and over the
centuries, countless wise souls have used these four to understand human nature.
Now comes The Temperament God Gave You, the first Catholic book on the subject
in 70 years. Here veteran Catholic counselor Art Bennett and his wife Laraine
provide an accessible synthesis of classical wisdom, modern counseling science,
and Catholic spirituality: a rich understanding of the temperaments and what
they mean for you and for your family.

Drawing on decades of study, prayer,
and practical experience, Art and Laraine show you how to identify your own
temperament and use it to become what God is calling you to be: a loving spouse,
an effective parent, and a good friend. Best of all, they give you a Catholic
understanding of the four temperaments that will bring you closer to God and
help you discover the path to holiness that’s right for you.

Happiness. Holiness.
You’ll find yourself growing in each of these qualities
as you come to understand — and learn to use as you should — the temperament God
gave you.

The Temperament God Gave YouThe Classic Key to Knowing Yourself,
Getting Along with Others, and Growing Closer to the Lord
by Art & Laraine Bennett288 pp

Art Bennett is a licensed marriage and family therapist and
director of the Alpha Omega Clinic and Consultation Centers, Catholic mental
health clinics currently established in Maryland and Virginia. He is also the
host and co-producer of Healthy Minds/Healthy Souls, a Catholic radio show in
the Washington,D.C., area. He has more than twenty years’ experience in the
mental-health field and is a frequent speaker on marriage and family issues. He
writes a monthly column for the National Catholic Register, on the topic of
families and work.
Laraine Bennett has a master’s degree in philosophy and is
a freelance writer with articles published in Faith & Family, Nazareth
Journal, the New Oxford Review, and the National Catholic Register.Currently
residing in Northern Virginia, the Bennetts have been married for twenty-eight
years and have four children — one of each temperament type!
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