Monday, December 5, 2011

Winter Renewal

Well, today we were gifted with 3 large chicken hens that are no longer laying eggs.  My in-laws raised a flock of them for eggs, but they have stopped laying now that winter is here.  They are planning on slowly cutting back the number in the flock and then buying new hens in the spring.  Which brings us to the gift of the 3 hens.  The hens are to be butchered, then I will roast them.  The extra meat will be canned in jars for later.  On a cold blustery day like today, a pot of chicken stew simmering on the stove sounds wonderful.

The days are slowing down to a gentler pace.  I enjoy the "rest" of winter.  The changing seasons give nature a rest from their growth cycles.  Trees that have been green and producing fruit in the warm months are now bare and in a dormant state.  This is a necessary state of renewal in nature.  I think upon the wisdom of that.  We work from the time the ground thaws until the hard freeze in autumn to lay in stores for our family.  After all of that work, our bodies need a restful season to rest and renew ourselves in preparation of the next season. It doesn't mean we are dormant, only that we are resting from the harder more physical work of the warmer months.

The older I get, the more I realize just how much I need this season of renewal.  Not just physically, but in other areas of my life.  It brings with it a peace to my spirit that is not there other times.  That is not to say that my spirit is in upheaval the rest of the year.  Only that in the winter, when life slows down, I have more time to devote to the things that nurture my spirit.  I have more time to read, sew, crochet, and other activities that I enjoy. 

In homeschooling, the children are schooled year round.  In summer, it is a bit more relaxed by comparison.  The days are filled with educational activities that involve the outdoors, such as nature study.  In winter, we are indoors much more and the school work reflects that.  That is when I pull out the experiments and other fun activities that they don't do the rest of the year.  It is a perfect time to teach kids a handicraft that takes more time and patience.  Right now, I have holiday ornaments for the kids to make.  Some will be only for this season, while others will be ones that we can use again in future years.  Little Miss will be working on more literature-based thematic units over the winter.  She loves books, so this is a natural for her.  Homeschool Share has free units for each of the "Little House" books.  Little Miss loves those. 

For my Little Man, I am putting together more tasks for him to work on.  I have so many ideas running through my head that are being written down in a notebook for later.  I am taking basic ideas that I have seen for the TEACCH method and remaking them to suit our needs.  So many of the tasks that you can purchase are more busy work than academic instruction.  Yes, he needs help with some motor skills that he never developed naturally.  That doesn't mean that the academic aspect should be neglected.  One activity is that of stringing beads onto a cord or dowel.  In most task packs, they just have the child string them however they want.  In the beginning, that is fine as they learn the skill.  After that, have the child string them in a pattern to teach sequencing.  In Sue Patrick's book, "Sue Patrick's Workbox System: A User's Guide", she teaches the idea of using interactive posters to teach or review material learned.  For Little Man, I am using that idea on a smaller scale and making them notebook size from cardstock that I will laminate.  My favorite resource for him right now is very basic preschool activities that you would do with a toddler.  He seems on track with some of that.