Saturday, July 13, 2013

More the Mother, Less the Teacher

More the Mother, Less the Teacher

orange smoothie with carrot juice
Orange Smoothie
      Ah, it’s summer.  

A home teacher can be more the mother, less the teacher.

     Summer has refreshingly unhurried interludes. When the physical activity of the day is at a lull, a child can be lackadaisical with some carefree reading. Mother can take out her knitting and let dust collect on the over-zealous study guide. The impression that a good story (or non-fiction) leaves on a child’s heart, mind and imagination, is splendid in and of itself. Leave a child alone with a good book and if it truly is a good book, it will inspire wonder and joy.

     In summer the study guide’s questionnaire and side notes are absent. So are any persnickety match column A vocabulary words to column B definitions. And the peaceful impressions gained in summer reading would be spoiled if picked apart for plot, motive, conflict resolution, cause and effect, or symbolism. While the family is eating peach pie under the trees we don’t need to be talking about the recipe. 

    If the child wishes to share his impressions a mother can be all-ears. Now more the mother, less the teacher, she can keep her opinions to herself. There is no getting between the child and the author. This restraint merits praise. 

tall phlox "Watermelon" color
Tall Phlox "Watermelon"

     A reluctant reader could be a child who is habitually anxious about what he is supposed to “get” out of a book. Let him get what he gets. It’s summer. He needn’t be troubled about how fast he has to finish the book, either. It’s summer. If he is fixed on a prize for reading a number of books by the end of the summer, quantity may be reached, but at what expense of quality? Is the peaceful solitude of being alone with “a” book sacrificed for pace? In summer we can think "peace over pace."

In what ways do you enjoy being more the mother, less the teacher? 

Summer Silent Reading for Boys and Girls age 8 up.

     As each of her children reached the average age of 8 or could read at a second grade level, the Lady-of-the-House handed them My Father’s Dragon – no apron strings attached. They found a get-away spot and took an adventure with Elmer Elevator.  This silly fantasy chapter-book helped develop their powers of silent reading. Reading aloud took place daily but as they matured much of the children’s knowledge was gained by their silent reading.

My Father's Dragon - summer reading for children

     In the beginning of My Father’s Dragon, the mother of the story isn’t “nice.” She hates cats and is very cross when she discovers that Elmer had been feeding a dirty alley cat for three whole weeks. Nine-year-old Elmer sneaks out of the house. He goes for a walk to think nice thoughts. Together he and the talking cat take a journey to a wild island. Elmer meets all kinds of jungle creatures that also talk. He handles their odd personalities and the conflicts that arise with a witty and funny personality of his own. In the end he finds the dragon the cat had told him about, tethered to a stake. It is a baby dragon as cute as a plush toy. Elmer rescues the dragon, gets on its back and flies away. He had always wanted to fly.

     Ruth Stiles Gannett wrote this humorous fantasy in 1948. She probably liked to hear children giggle and so gave them more reason to do so. The lithographs by Ruth Chrisman Gannett are incredibly cute and whimsical. The print size of the text is easy on the eyes.

     In the sequel Elmer and the Dragon, Mr. and Mrs. Elevator welcome Elmer home. He is surprised to find that his mother had grown fond of the alley cat while Elmer was away and had adopted it as a pet. Therefore, his mother is now “nice.”
     The baby dragon and Elmer are caught in a storm in flight. Where they are forced to land they unearth a treasure chest of valuables and make friends with a flock of escaped yellow canaries. The Dragons of Blueland is the final book in the series.

messy knitting - with three colors
Messy Knitting

Knitting Lingo

The Size 4 Vest is Finished

     Taking inventory of her stash in springtime, the Lady-of-the-House sought to use up some leftover odds and ends. She calculated that she’d have enough yarn to make a vest if she combined colors. “I’ll make checks,” she reasoned.  As either side of the v-neck had 3 colors – which made 6 balls of yarn to work with at once - it tended to tangle.
     Knitting both by continental and English, with one color in each hand, the checks went somewhat slowly but smoothly. You can see the short carry-overs on the inside. This makes the knitting doubly warm for the wearer. The three-needle bind off was used for the shoulders and the main body of the vest, was knit in-the-round, so there were no seams to sew. Yeah. 

knitted vest in hunter green with sage green and deep purple checks

For the Thirsty Summer Reader or Knitter

     In summer the Man-of-the-House buys, cuts and eats large watermelons. “Please tell me how I’m going to fit this into the refrigerator,” his wife has been heard to say with hands-on-hips. She much prefers the local “lopes.” He stops at the farm stand to buy these, too (and took the photograph.) 

Orange Smoothie
1 organic raw carrot scrubbed and cut (or ½ cup carrot juice)
a generous wedge of orange cantaloupe melon or a peach in slices
1 small orange, peeled ‘n pitted
½ small banana
½ apple optional
If raw carrot, use a heavy-duty blender.
Pour carrot juice into a regular blender.
Ice optional.

Pennsylvania farm stand with cantaloupe melons $1 each

I always enjoy your visit to the blog-neighborhood.

Karen Andreola 


  1. The vest looks wonderful! I always love your pictures. That orange smoothy looks refreshing!

    The slower pace of summer and your advice about not "teaching" during this time is priceless.

    I hope you are feeling well.

    Mrs. White
    The Legacy of Home

  2. Your blog is always so lovely and encouraging :)
    a note from North Carolina

  3. Although my youngest is still "catching up" on a few subjects, the pace has slowed down and we are able to enjoy the beautiful, sunny days.
    I can't imagine trying to tend to the garden and get all my canning done while homeschooling. ;)
    The sweater vest is amazing, you are very talented!


  4. One of the best parts of our home school journey has been the love of books it has given our kids. Now they are teens they are telling me what books I should read - Love it! They have a life long love of books.
    Love Leanne

  5. You said:

    "While the family is eating peach pie under the trees we don’t need to be talking about the recipe."

    I don't think you could have made your point any better than that! So good....

  6. Think peace over pace...that's something to think about indeed! Would be a very good thing for all of us....young and think Peace over Pace
    Blessings friend

  7. I'd love to pay only $1 for a "Medium Lope" as your picture shows! You know I always love reading your posts! Thank you.
    Sue R.

  8. Dear Friend,

    This is perfect advice for we Mother's who are always teaching! Just the thing for summer.

    That vest is fantastic! The colors are perfect for those handsome dark haired grandsons of yours!

    Enjoy your day!

  9. One of my favorite things is when my children, all grown up now, call to share when they have found new books!

    A favorite family joke about "programmed" reading and questionnaires: 1. How many narrow blue ribbons and how many wide pink stripes were on Mary Sue's pinafore? 2. On what page does chapter eleven begin?


    Oh it is thrilling when a reader takes delight in a good story.

    Happy Summer...


  10. Reading your comments I'm nodding, smiling and even chuckling.
    Thank you Ladies,
    Karen A.

  11. One of the benefits of homeschooling my kids has been reading books with them. I share my childhood favorites and discover new books. The series
    My Fathers Dragon was one of the new ones we enjoyed together.I will have to try your orange smoothy. Thanks for taking the time to write your words of encouragement Karen.
    Much Joy,
    Kathy S.

  12. I LOVE knitting and I don't know what I would do without the Ravelry website!
    I tried intarsia once but I got so frustrated with my different color spools getting tangled that I put it in the UFO (unfinished objects) drawer.
    I may attempt a vest for my son to wear to Church - you've inspired me!

    Your Montana friend, Gina

  13. Thanks for the sweet post. The orange smoothie looks delicious. We juice carrots all the time so I have a feeling I will be trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  14. Hello Karen,
    Thanks for stopping by, yes, I am feeling a bit better. If I veer of this diet they have me on the pain level shoots up so there is much to be said for how food effects the body. All my children read My Father's Dragon because you recommended it in Companion--what a lovely story and it may have been missed if not for you:-) Thank you for the smoothie receipt, I am always on the lookout for ones that contain zero sugar and just whole foods. God bless you and hope your all doing well!
    Your friend,

  15. Oh dear, I meant to compliment you on the vest--just beautiful! Your knitting is splendid.

  16. Your sweater vest is very handsome. Is it for your grandson? We rarely wear wool clothing here in Georgia.

    Your smoothie sounds delicious! We frequently make smoothies.

    I hope you are having a pleasant week. :)

  17.'s summer.

  18. A fun summer post.

    I did a quick run to see if i had all the ingredients for the orange smoothie. i will times the recipe by 5 and my family is sure to enjoy this:-)


    I can be more the mother less the teacher all year long and everyday with Miss Masons gentle art of learning. It doesn't have to break for summer.

    I remind them always that life is "school" and we don't stop learning until we get to heaven. I consider my children to be the most wonderful teachers.


    Your photos are cheerful and fun! As always it's a special treat to come visit you. You always give the mother something to think about...


  19. This orange smoothie is high in vitamin C and A but also in natural fruit sugar. I recommend eating some nuts with it or adding a teaspoon of avocado oil to the smoothie.

    I knew those familiar with the Gentle Art of Learning would recognize how I wrapped Miss Mason's philosophy of education in the costume of summer. For my new readers, this idea may take some getting "used to" but, yes, when we trust in the a child's God given curiosity, the power of good books, and the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, we can be more the mother, less the teacher all the year. It's wonderful.

    The new cotton/linen/silk yarns are luxurious and make light summer knitting and wearing. I prefer to knit with a wool blend because wool yarn is stretchy and thus easier on fingers.

    So good to hear from you all,
    Karen A.

  20. Yummy smoothie!! Ahh my girls loved my dragon books. A must read for all children!! Clarice

  21. I am a newer reader here (after having read a couple of your books), and am so glad I've happened upon your blog/neighborhood. This fall will be my second year homeschooling our son, soon to be six years old, who is also a heart transplant recipient (since three months old). The Charlotte Mason methods completely inspire me to spend wisely and wonderfully every single day we are blessed to share with our (ornery) little hero, especially when teaching him. Her ideas tug at my heartstrings as they are exactly what I have in mind for him to learn. And you do an AMAZING job of conveying Miss Mason's techniques/ideas. I thoroughly enjoy reading your writings, and learning all I can. Thank you for making me, a newbie, feel right at home, especially when I am so full of questions. Please know you have touched the hearts and minds of so many others. I feel so blessed in so many ways- one of them being your books, blogs and advice (the Lord knows I need the advice!). From my little family to yours, thank you for all you do. Blessings...


  22. "Make new friends and keep the old" we used to sing in Brownies, "One is silver and the other gold."
    New and old are welcome here.

    It's a wonderful thing to have a mind full of questions. The answers will define the kind of education you envision and seek to live out. When you see your questions answered before your eyes (this takes time but it does happen) it will bring you joy.

    Your compliments are generously bestowed. I'm honored. Thank you.
    Karen A.

  23. Lovely post Karen. I think your little vest is just so sweet! We are almost on our summer break now here in England, just a day or two to go. Your post has been very timely and reflects my hearts sentiments exactly! I am so looking forward to being more mom and less teacher!

  24. I love the vest colors. I struggle with knitting in one color so you have my admiration! I also have never heard of the Elmer books. My youngest son loves cats so I will have to check into the book series on his behalf. Thank you.