March 2019 Memory Work Plans

Here we are, marching into March already! I must say that February simply flew by around here, excepting the part of the month in which it seemed to rain for a week straight. (We did get over 13 inches of rain here in Middle TN in February, so I didn’t exactly imagine all that water!) I had to scramble to get this month’s memory work in order for today, though to be honesty, we won’t actually use it until next week. No need to start a new batch on a Friday, in my opinion! But I wanted to get it out semi-on time for you all anyway. I do want to apologize that this month there will not be a free printable, though. I have been thinking about the fact that several of the texts I am using this month are not technically in the public domain, even if they can be found online. So I am just going to link to what I can and leave it at that. I hope you enjoy learning some of these songs, hymns and texts along with your own family this March!

March Memory Work:

Prayer: a Morning Collect from The Book of Common Prayer
Hymn: What Wondrous Love is This
Folksongs: Leatherwing Bat, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Poetry: Spring by Harry Behn
Scripture: Colossians 3:12-13
Catechism: Questions 13 and 14 from the New City Catechism (children’s version)
Motto: Family Way #8 from Our 24 Family Ways

Why Can’t I Write About the Books I Love?

Earlier in the month I finished reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, and I have been wanting to write some of my thoughts about it ever since. The book moved me and has given me much about which to think, so it should be easy to write a post on it. Every time I think of it, however, the words just will not come.

Why is it so hard for me to write about books that I love? This is certainly not the first time I have struggled with the words to express how a book has impacted me. When I read My Antonia I had a similar struggle, and Watership Down is another book that I thought deeply about long after but could not find a way to put those thoughts down in black and white.

Perhaps one reason I have trouble writing about the books I love is that I don’t have a literary education, and I am not sure of the terms to use to talk about them. I feel somehow to discuss themes and structure and setting and all because I have no formal education in these things. All I know about literature has been picked up from places like the Circe Close Reads podcast or the Center for Lit podcast. Otherwise, my only qualification to talk about books is that I just love them so much.

And because I love books, I have trouble talking about them. It is almost as if the thoughts and feelings that I have about stories that I love feel too close and personal in some ways for me to express. Books have a way of getting to my heart in a way that other media don’t, especially fiction. The characters and settings somehow become a part of my personal experience, and I have a hard time telling others about that experience, even when I really want to do just that.

Reading The Good Earth was an incredibly moving experience, being part of the intensely human story of Wang Lung, the farmer, and his family. I felt like I was there watching his life unfold through all the trials and successes, the joy and the immense tragedy. But how can I tell you all my thoughts as I process this book? I hope that one day I will learn how to write about the books I love.

In the meantime, I will just have to content myself with recommending you read them, too! So, go get your hands on a copy of The Good Earth, and be prepared for a heart-wrenching story of the human condition. You can await my next report, in which I will likely have another book that I have come to love deeply and can’t find words for, because I have just started reading Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!, and I’ve already been feeling swept off my feet!

Wellness Wednesday: Healing the Mind in a Distracted World

Welcome to the February installment of Wellness Wednesday here at Tuning Hearts! This month I wanted to dig a little deeper and write about some of the things I have been learning as regards healing the mind in a distracted world. Those who have been following me for a while now know that in October I started taking an extended break from social media. Since then, I have also been reading a few books on the topic of internet and media usage, distraction versus deep work, and the control we have in maintaining our mental and physical health.

Three of the most influential books for me on this topic have been Switch on Your Brain:The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking and Health by Dr. Caroline Leaf, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, and Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.

In Switch on Your Brain, Dr. Leaf gives a compelling argument from neuroscience research that we actually change our brains physically as we think. When we think positive, true and worthy thoughts, our brains grow new healthy tissue and send signals to our bodies that actually help us stay physically healthy as well. Conversely, when we dwell on negative or toxic thoughts, our brains make unhealthy connections and weaken, even changing our DNA to release disease and dysfunction in our bodies. It’s truly fascinating stuff! I found her ideas on taking control of our thought lives and choosing what we tell ourselves and what we allow to get “stuck” in our brains (and therefore, in our bodies) truly encouraging and challenging. I have not yet tried the “21-Day Brain Detox” method that she recommends in the later portion of the book, but I am definitely going to in the near future.

Going along with that idea of choosing what we let into our minds, when I read Carr’s book The Shallows, I was struck by how easily we let media of all sorts determine what we think about. It was rather sobering. As much as I appreciate the ease of the internet, I do see how much it can be a detriment to my own mental health, and I know I’m not the only one. The fast pace of the internet alone is a real threat to our ability to stay focussed on one thing at a time for a long period of time. During these months that I have been off social media, I have seen my attention for reading books grow a good deal. Yet, I still feel that pull to check email, news headlines or a homeschool parents’ forum to which I belong. Even just picking up my phone at random spare seconds throughout the day shows me how distracted I have become since I started using a smartphone. It is something I know I will always be working on now that these devices have become a seemingly inseparable part of our daily lives.

Cal Newport argues for kicking some of this constant connectivity to the curb in Deep Work, particularly as it relates to creatives and professionals. This book was a little harder to apply to my current life as a stay at home mother and homeschool teacher, at least as far as the practical rules of tuning out distraction in order to work in a professional setting. But the principles of clearing the clutter of connectivity from email, social media and the like still do apply. I can choose to focus on my children and my work here at home and my inner thought life instead of allowing the virtual world to encroach on my mental space and energy so much of the time. And I have found that when I keep the media distractions to a minimum, I do make more time for my creative pastimes and have a greater capacity for stillness and quiet.

To sum it all up, if we want to have better mental health (which is interconnected with emotional and physical wellness), we need to reduce the time we spend scrolling and increase our awareness and intention toward our thought life. I know that just being more alert to where I am placing my attention and how much time I am spending in distracted activities has been helpful to my state of mind.

How about you? Do you see a connection in your life between mental health and distraction and/or internet usage? I would love to continue the conversation in the comments!


Want to link up? I would love to read your thoughts on your own health and wellness journey! Follow the instructions below to join the link-up and share!

How to participate:

  1. Write a post on a topic related to wellness, and add your link to the list below.
  2. Grab the Wellness Wednesday logo graphic below and put it in your linked post, also with a blurb mentioning and linking back to that week’s link-up.
  3. Please stop by at least two other participants’ blogs and leave a comment on their Wellness Wednesday posts. This doesn’t take long, and it is really encouraging and helpful for building community and continuing the conversation!

Inlinkz Link Party

How I Am Pre-reading AmblesideOnline Year 3

As much as I am tempted to give an apology for not blogging more often and list reasons why it has been hard, I am just going to forego all that and jump right into the topic at hand. In January we started our third year using AmblesideOnline as our homeschool curriculum. This year is the first year that I had not previously read all or most of the books we are studying. The reading is getting a little bit more demanding, but my son is also such a proficient reader that he is ready to take on more independent work. As such, I knew that prereading would become an important part of my planning so as to not overload our schedule on some days of the week. Since my daughter will eventually be coming along behind, I also decided it would be helpful for me to have a written record of my pre-reading notes to reuse when it is her turn.

My intention was to get a month ahead during our long Christmas break, but life happened, and the time slipped away without me getting ahead by more than a week. It even got to the point last weekend that I was cramming a bunch of reading in on Sunday afternoon to prepare for the next school day! Needless to say, this week it is my goal to spend a little time every day on reading for Year 3 so that I can keep a little farther ahead of schedule.

One thing that I decided to do in organizing my pre-reading and notes is to read chapters week by week according to the 36-week schedule. I could have just read through a big chunk of each book at a time, but by reading each chapter as scheduled, I am able to make connections in the same way my student is likely to make them. It also makes it easy for me to find notes on a specific reading easily since they are organized by term, week and subject type. The same advantage will be true in a few years when I need to use these notes again as reference for my daughter.

The other thing I decided would be good for me as a pre-read is to actually write out narrations of each section I read. These narrations form the bulk of my notes, along with a few lists of key names, dates and places. This process of writing a narration for each reading does significantly slow down the process, but I am reaping the benefits of the practice of written narration. Plus, when it is my son’s turn to start writing his narrations instead of saying them out loud, hopefully, I will have more empathy with him because this is not easy! The truth is, handwriting these narrations is really helping me solidify the information in my mind, so I am glad I decided to do this, even though it is a good bit of extra work I would not have to do.

So if you are wondering why I am not writing blog posts as often this year, even though I have said many times I want to be here more regularly, it might just be that I am busy reading and trying to be a better teacher! Because, after all, my roles as a wife and a mother definitely come first, which means that the online world, as much as I enjoy being part of it, has to take a pretty low priority. But I hope you will stick around and be part of the conversation when I do get a chance to visit you here at Tuning Hearts!

Until next time,

February 2019 Memory Work Plans

Hi there, friends! It is coooold in 80 percent of the continental US at the moment, and Tennessee is no different! But the end of winter is coming, albeit slowly. February marks that time of year in our lives when we are weary of winter and waiting for spring. It also frequently marks that tired time of the year for homeschool families when everyone just wants to quit. So I offer you some brand new memory work to liven things up a little bit!

If you have been following our memory work plans for a while, you may notice that this month’s Scripture memory portion is a lot shorter than usual. That is because we have started using the Scripture Memory System recommended by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason. I wanted to have time to be reviewing the passages we had already memorized without making that portion of our morning time together seem like a burden. As a result, we are probably going to keep our passages in the 1-3 verse range for a while.

February Memory Work

Prayer: God Be in My Head from The Sarum Primer

Hymn: Crown Him with Many Crowns

Catechism: Review Questions 11 and 12 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: Family Way #7 from Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson

Scripture: Ephesians 4:29

Poetry: The Wild Flower’s Song by William Blake

Folksongs: Walk That Lonesome Valley, I Love You a Bushel and a Peck

Free Printable Plans

I am including a free printable version of these memory work plans for you all! I went back to the landscape layout for the smaller binder pages this month, as well as changing up fonts and doing a little embellishing. Let me know if you are using these memory work plans, and if you have any questions or suggestions. Until next time, have a happy homeschool day!