Literary analysis

Archetypes for Literary Analysis
Seven page PDF

How to use it- from around age 12 and up, two or three times a year consult it and pick a couple of the archetypes, read that description to your child, and ask if they can think of any characters or events from their books, movies, or games (if they are gamers) that fit that archetype.

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My Ideal Preschool Program

Reading Too Soon- 


There is a widely held belief in this country (and many others) that if we start teaching children to read, write, and spell in preschool and kindergarten that they will be ahead of the game (and their peers) by first grade. We think that pushing our kids to start early will make them better and give them the edge.

But it doesn’t work that way, in fact it can be detrimental. 

Here’s why…

Children’s neurological pathways for reading, writing, and spelling are not formed yet at these young ages, therefore they are not equipped. In child development you can not miss, shortcut, or rush steps, it just doesn’t work.

Between 3 and 7 years old, predominantly the right side of the brain is developing. The right side of the brain is not where word reading takes place. The right side sees pictures and shapes and uses mental imagery to create the movie in their mind to understand the story.  The left side of the brain is where we read words, it is responsible for decoding words into letters and phonetically sounding them out. This is true word reading. It is not until about age 7 that the corpus callosum fully connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain to make reading complete for kids.”

Please read it all.


I have written a lot on the importance of free play (and outside play, especially) for little kids, and less formal learning of things that don’t matter to them yet- abcs, how to hold a pencil, and so on.

They are building an important framework for later conceptual understanding. The kid who understands the scientific concept of erosion best at 10 is the kid who at four was building sand castles and watching the waves knock them down, who was making holes in the yard while playing with the hose, who was digging out streams and making dams on stream banks and again with the hose in the backyard. The kid who has the deepest conceptual understanding of geography later is the kid who from 1-6 was outside in the mud creating mini-geographical worlds- lakes, islands, inlets, peninsulas, streams, rivers, seas- who was digging out cities and villages in the sandbox or the driveway. The kid with the strongest working concepts of pulleys and levers and friction is the kid who spent his preschool years not doing worksheets, but instead was actually discovering friction by pushing wheeled and nonwheeled toys on sidewalks, grassy yards, gravel drives, carpet, tile floors, who learned about levers by playing on see-saws and using sticks to pry rocks out of the dirt and flip them over to look for bugs, who figured out how to lift objects (or siblings) by tossing a rope over a tree branch and so on.

There is actually a ton of research supporting this, as well as real life experiences. I talked to a science teacher here in the Philippines whose students used to come from homes with no or little electricity, whose play involved a lot of sticks, stones, mud, water, games with their slippers as tokens, cans and bottles, puddles and trees- but they came to school and quickly grasped the science concepts she taught because they only gave formal names to real world forces and functions that the children already know and understood first hand. She said now her students spend their days playing educational games on screens, watching educational television, doing worksheets- and they come to school and they can parrot facts, but they have no idea how to apply them, they don’t really mean anything to them at all except as a sort of pen and paper guessing game.

Researchers in England found that on average school children are reaching Piaget’s stages of cognitive development 3 years later than kids of 30 years ago were, and their guess is it is the lack of free play and the freedom to muck about and make messes and get dirty and have free time and empty space in their days for thinking, dreaming, wondering, and processing their experiences.

It is more than a bit of a hobby horse of mine, and it really frustrates me and breaks my heart for the kids who are being given stones for bread. This kind of free play, including the risks of bumps, scrapes, bruises, falls and scraped knees, is their birthright. It can’t be replaced. If you don’t learn the alphabet at 2, it won’t make a lick of difference if you learn it at six or eight. You will have lost nothing. If you don’t get plenty of free time, making messes, getting dirty, experimenting with the real world, singing the songs of childhood, listening to oral stories (this builds the child’s ability to picture things in his mind based on words, which is vitally important for real progress in understanding reading later), etc, before 6, you’ve lost a lot of the important opportunities to build that foundation.

We’re trying to build walls and put in the carpeting without taking the time to build the foundation, floors, and framework. We’re all about instant food for the mind, pellets of factoids that kids just recite without knowing what they are talking about, instead of nourishing food for the brain, which requires slow steeping, marinating, simmering, time to digest, and more.

My ideal preschool/kindergarten:

LOTS of free play outside and the freedom to get absolutely covered in dirt and mud from head to toe. Running, jumping, climbing, rolling, skipping, kicking, hopping, crawing, swimming, splashing, marching, 

LOTS of oral story telling- Bible stories, basic folk tales, fairy tales, and fables. Stories of when Mom and Dad or Grandparents were little.

Mother Goose- 

Singing- hymns and folk songs. Pop songs not so much. Singing- not listening, not watching, but singing.  You can sit down for five or ten minutes a day when everybody is tired or grouchy and sing.You can also sing while working, playing, washing dishes, digging holes, driving places. 

Traditional games- most of my kids learned to count playing hide ‘n seek. Tag, hide the thimble, hopscotch, throwing things at targets (this one apparently is connected to developing good executive function), hopping, skipping, Mother May I and Simon Says type games.  Throwing balls and beanbags. Playing catch.

Trips to the grocery store, the park, the pond, church, the departmeent store, to the courthouse to pay taxes to the bank to make deposits, to the DMV to renew a license and to the library, talking about where you’re going, what the people who work there do and why, and how to behave in public. At the grocery store,  helping to fill the bags of fruits and vegetables, counting apples, finding red things, yellow things, looking for the letter c, weighing the carrots. 

A few chores- mine mostly also learned colours two ways- helping with laundry folding, and being bribed with gummy bears when they were toilet training.  Having a pet is a wonderful way to combine responsibility with nature study and compassion lessons in real life.

Self-care- tidiness, clean face, teeth brushing, hair brushing, clean nails, healthy eating, regular rest

Some basic habit building- the most important being respect for parental authority, putting things away, and make all the messes you want but you have to help clean it up afterward. Respect for property- yours and others.  Consideration- don’t make other people’s lives more difficult and unpleasant than they need to be.

A few free style art projects- painting, playdough, helping to knead bread dough and make it into shapes, finger paint, maybe weaving, corking, lap looms, stringing beads. Not so much time on kits. 

Collecting things like rocks, seashells, stones, acorns, pine-cones, leaves- sorting them (the best kind of early science)

A few favourite classic picture books, but far more oral story telling

Daily Bible stories


Traditional preschool topics- counting, shapes, colours should be learned naturally in your home as you go along- square sandwiches, round carrot slices, red socks, blue socks, six raisins on a celery peanut butter log, triangle slices of cheese, star shaped cookies or decorations for a Christmas tree, playing with parquetry blocks. Playing cards and matching them.  blocks of different shapes and colours and natural conversations.

Toys: Open-ended, blocks, dolls, dishes, balls, a few smallish toy animals,

Plenty of hugs and kisses and snuggles.

Posted in Charlotte Mason, education, homeschooling | 1 Response

Registering your vehicle and solitude

One of our preacher friends supports his family of four by making deliveries. There are a lot of deliveries to be made here in the Philippines, because many people do not have cars, and they don’t trust the postal service, and all kinds of things are delivered- some are independent contractors who will pick up your food order and deliver it to you, for instance.

Our friend had to buy a new motorcycle as something happened to the old one (I don’t know if it wrecked or just died).  But then he spent the next year making his deliveries by bicycle, because the registration paperwork didn’t come back and didn’t come back.  Nobody is terribly shocked that it took a year (except us).  This is common, although six months might be more common.

He and his brothers could see that we were astonished by how long it took him to get his registration for his motorcycle, and they asked how long it took in the U.S.  We told them however long it took for you to get your permanent tags and registration for your car, you’d usually be given a temporary registration that was good the same day. You might have to go in after a month and renew the temporary registration if for some reason your case was unusually complicated, but we didn’t know anybody who didn’t get their registration in less than a month.  It just would never happen that it would take a year to register a motorcycle that was your family’s only form of transportation and your livelihood as well.

And then we sat and stared at each other a few minutes and pondered this deep chasm between how two very different cultures live and move and have their being- and why.

My best guess was- Americans are very driven by notions of both efficiency and convenience.  We are a single car culture, and expect to be able to travel independently of others, at our own personal convenience.

Efficiency and convenience do not seem to be high on the list of cultural priorities here, at least not convenience as Americans see it, not based on the individual alone.

Relationships matter more.  Speed matters less.  Blatant corruption is also more acceptable, or more common, or something,  here as well.  But even saying that conveys an American sense of disapproval, because some of what I would consider corruption isn’t even seen as a problem- it’s a normal and understandable way things function, since family and relationships come first, so of course, you have a duty to bring in more support for your family, or to do favors for family members before you do them for strangers- even if you are a government official.

The relationship, the community thing is also really a strong difference. IT probably seems even stronger to me since I’m an introverted, independent American who loves going to the movies or coffee shops by myself, and I don’t really enjoy window shopping with other people at all, unless they are fellow bookloving introverts and we are windowshipping bookstores and stationary departments.

I was meeting a Korean friend at a nearby coffeeshop this afternoon for an English conversation class.  I had some writing projects to work on, and my house was hot and the coffeeshop has free wi-fi and aircon, so I went nearly an hour early to work in comfort. My Korean friend was appalled and sorry for me- a whole hour alone in a coffee shop?  To me it was glory and I wish it had been 3 hours.   A Visaya friend will ask me when I see her if I’ve gone shopping lately, and if I have, she always wants to know who with, and she looks wounded on my behalf when I tell her I went alone to the grocery store.  This friend also hires 2 women to come help her with the housework when she is exceptionally busy- not because she needs 2 people to do the work, but because she feels sorry for a Filipina who has to work alone. That’s too lonely.

I read somewhere once that a Korean would generally rather do something he doesn’t enjoy as long as it’s with a group, than something he enjoys if it’s by himself.  Obviously, there are definitely exceptions to this kind of generalization in both our cultures, but the exceptions are seen as rather odd ducks.

One can put this knowledge to good use.  I recently bought some snack items to share with a Korean family when I went to visit them, but they were concerned that I had spent too much money, that I shouldn’t give them those snacks but take them back home, and we were at something of an impasse until it occurred to me to say, “Oh, but I wanted to eat them with you, not alone,” and instantly their faces lit up and they relaxed and agreed, “Oh, yes, with somebody is better than alone,” and we ate our little snacks in agreeable companionship.

I have also learned never to share with my community here that my husband is going to be gone for Saturday.  Invariably, somebody will say, “Oh, you’ll be alone then? I’ll come over.”

Have I mentioned that I think I would have had an absolutely amazingly good time as a hermit or a medieval anchorite?
God does have such a sense of humour, doesn’t he?

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Fishing at Night

Once a week we have a Bible study at our house with some of the members of our congregation- where we are the only native English speakers.  Usually it’s pretty early in the morning because it needs to be before everybody goes to work or school, and Saturdays they are often travelling up into the remote mountain villages.

Last week we read Luke chapter 5.  Here’s an excerpt:

“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.  So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,  and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.”

In the discussion afterwards, one of the men explained to us that the reason this was amazing is not just because the men had fished all night and caught nothing, so there were no fish- but because they were net-fishing, and if you don’t catch anything at night fishing with nets, you are definitely not catching anything in the daytime.  Fishermen fish at night, he explained, because it’s dark and the fish can’t see them, so they catch more.  You don’t catch many fish during the daylight or during a full moon. 


This is Cebuano, which is not the local dialect (Bisaya, or Visayan), though there are many words in common. Locals here will tell me this is ‘deep Cebuano,’ but it’s not really completely clear to me what ‘deep’ means. One native Bisaya speaker who is fluent in English agreed with me when I asked if it meant more formal, like the difference between KJV and NIV, but his agreement was tentative sounding, and possibly only because I am more than old enough to be his mother.

The accent is almost never on the syllable English speakers expect it to be. O and U are quite similar, as are i and i.  Aw sounds like ow.  Ay sounds like eye.

Usa niana ka adlaw nagtindog si Jesus sa daplin sa Linaw sa Genesaret. Midugok didto kaniya ang daghang mga tawo tungod kay gusto silang maminaw sa pulong sa Dios. Didto sa lapyahan nakita ni Jesus ang duha ka sakayan. Nakakanaog na ang mga mangingisda aron sa paghugas sa ilang mga pukot. Ang usa ka sakayan iya ni Simon. Gisakyan kini ni Jesus ug gihangyo niya si Simon nga itulod kini ug diotay palayo sa daplin. Milingkod si Jesus ug nagtudlo sa mga tawo.

Pagkahuman niya sa pagpanudlo, miingon siya kang Simon, “Pagpalawod kamo ug itaktak ninyo ang inyong mga pukot aron makakuha kamo ug mga isda.” Miingon si Simon kang Jesus, “Magtutudlo,[a] tibuok gabii kaming nangisda, apan wala gayod kamiy nakuha. Apan tungod kay miingon ka man nga itaktak ang pukot, itaktak nako kini.” Mipalawod sila ug gitaktak nila ang ilang mga pukot. Daghan kaayo nga isda ang ilang nakuha ug hapit gani magisi ang ilang mga pukot. Unya gikamay nila ang ilang mga kauban didto sa lain nga sakayan aron tabangan sila. Pag-abot sa ilang mga kauban gipuno nila ug isda ang duha ka sakayan, ug hapit sila malunod tungod sa kadaghan sa mga isda. Sa pagkakita niini ni Simon Pedro, miluhod siya sa atubangan ni Jesus ug miingon, “Ginoo, pahilayo kanako tungod kay makasasala ako nga tawo.” Tungod kay natingala gayod si Simon ug ang iyang mga kauban sa kadaghan sa isda nga ilang nakuha. 10 Natingala usab ang mga kasosyo[b] ni Simon nga si Santiago ug si Juan nga mga anak ni Zebede. Unya miingon si Jesus kang Simon, “Ayaw kahadlok. Gikan karon dili na isda ang imong pangitaon kondilimga tawo aron maluwas sila.” 11 Sa dihang napadaplin na nila ang ilang mga sakayan, gibiyaan nila kining tanan ug misunod kang Jesus.


Here’s a youtube video of some basic phrases:

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It was one of those days

Planned to have tuna salad sandwhich on whole wheat pan de sal. Bread is moldy.
My laptop cord stopped working and I didn’t notice until my laptop was at 20%. No idea why. In the middle of projects of course.I think this will be my 3rd powercord. I need my laptop. NEED. And I don’t mean for a large black doorstopper.

Took the Cherub to the toilet in time, yay. But no, she managed to pull down the back of her dress so it was also in the toilet and she pooped on it. Yesterday she also broke a new necklace I had only worn once.

Trying to remember sino korean numbers and how to pronounce 를 and when to use the 면거 ending and visaya gi, i, mag, mo, and pag verb prefixes while also not forgetting my Spanish and my brain is 56 years old, 57 in Korean)

My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.

I have read Anne of Green Gables, so there’s that.


But the day was not over. No.  That was only up to about noon.  Then it got even ‘better.’

My husband came home and knocked on the bedroom door as I was getting in the shower . I lock the door when I am in the shower so that The Cherub can’t go wander around getting into trouble.  He knocked.  I checked messages to see if he’d told me he was coming home and bringing somebody, and he hadn’t, so I threw on totally sloppy and for private at home only see-through shirt and shorts and opened the door for him. He wasn’t there, he had knocked on the door and then gone on down the hall, but he had brought home a friend and his boy and they were following him down the hall and had just reached my door when I threw it open.  It was so bad that the guy immediately stepped back, averted his eyes, threw up his hands and said, “I didn’t knock, it was him!” 

I shut the door and locked it again and texted my husband a furious message.  He claimed he knocked on the door to let me know not to open it, unlike any other time EVER, unlike any NORMAL person in the universe. I replied as any normal wife would:
“One of us needs to die now.
That’s all.”

I went out to my next appointments for the day, English convo at a coffee shop, tutoring at the school, and then…

As I walked home from school I reached into my bag for my phone to take a picture of something. I do not remember what it was I wanted to take a picture, because inside the inside pocket of my bag, just before I touched it  I saw one of those large long roaches, the kind that a foot long in *my* dimension but in the current time/space everybody else lives in, probably only 2 inches (five, counting antenna).  It was, fortunately, dead already. We won’t discuss my reaction.

I had to go ahead and walk the rest of the way home, carrying my bag at arm’s length before I could carefully remove the contents I wanted to keep and then dump the roach carcass in the toilet.

You all realize this means I cannot ever again put my hand in a purse or bag for the rest of my life, right?

Posted in Davao Diary, Who We Are | 3 Responses

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