November 19, 2013
November 6, 2013
|A kid-built tent city appeared after a homeschool lesson on nomads.|
Anyone who reads my blogs knows that I love Pinterest. I am an idea girl, and so I love finding new ideas and inspiration!
Recently, I have been more self-disciplined and don't just go there to browse. I make sure I only go there when looking for something specific-- and that has been a huge help in reducing how much time I spend online.
One of the things I use Pinterest the most for is for my homeschool. WOW!!! There are so many great resources for teaching my kids out there! I also find inspiring articles and quotes that keep me excited and motivated.
There is a danger lurking in all those amazing homeschool boards, pins, and ideas that anyone can fall prey to if we're not careful...
"Comparison is the thief of joy"
Complexity = Burnout
"I wouldn’t give a fig for simplicity this side of complexity… but I’d give my right arm for simplicity on the other side of complexity." ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution."Those who have strong imaginations and a thirst for knowledge are the truly learned. They can adapt to any situation, and are not afraid to try new things, to experiment, and even-- yes-- to FAIL. But they are the people who get back up, dust themselves off, and try again. And again. And again.
The process above is called learning. And we, as parents, have to be careful in how we tread. Again, "Cui bono?" Are we teaching our kids in a way acceptable to others so that WE will look good? Are we so caught up in the idea of "proving that homeschool works," that we forget why we're homeschooling in the first place??? (I think we all know it isn't for the Jones', folks!)
So yes, while all the organizing and filing of papers can make the world think we're doing things "right," (and might even make us moms feel like we have it all "together,") it will never-- NEVER-- result in a better education for our children.
Rachel is the happy mother of twelve children between the ages of 19 and one year old. She has two homeschool graduates and missionaries! Her eldest daughter is serving a service mission for the LDS Church in Idaho, and her eldest son will be serving a full-time proselyting LDS mission in the Washington Spokane mission after entering the Provo MTC on January 1st.
As Rachel enters her fifteenth year of homeschooling, she continues to be an enthusiastic advocate for Thomas Jefferson Education principles and has spoken at several homeschool and TJEd conferences. She enjoys Shakespeare and has created an entire Shakespeare curriculum for homeschoolers and/or homeschool groups, now available at www.yeshakespeare.com. She blogs at Thoughts From The Hearth and at Old Fashioned Motherhood .
November 3, 2013
Connor Dell didn't mean to set anyone's gym shorts on fire.
He didn't know it would happen - he didn't know it could happen. And if he had known, he never would have - well, that might be going too far. It started in seventh period science.
The Kindling by Braden Bell is exciting and suspenseful. The sequel, Penumbras, is equally so. Twins, Conner and Lexa, and their friend Melanie, kindle at the same time. The word "kindle" refers to the process where a teenager who has a dormant, unknown, exceptional power finds out that the power has become active. Having three people kindle at the same time is very unusual. It attracts the attention of not only those who fight for light (called Magi) but those who use darkness. The books are about how Conner, Lexa, and Melanie fight on the side of the power of light, along with music teacher, Dr. Timberi, English teacher, Mrs. Grant, and other teachers at their school.
What I, as a parent, liked about these books:
1. Family plays an important role in the books as does friendship. Conner and Lexa are loyal to each other and to their friendship with Melanie. Obedience to their parents is also an integral part of their learning to be Magi.
2. Lessons are woven into the story without being preachy or over the top. In explaining light vs. darkness to the three kids shortly after they had kindled Dr. Timberi says, "Darkness is a very real power that exists in opposition to the Light. They are in constant, eternal conflict, as are those who follow them."
3. The teachers are portrayed as caring human beings, maybe this is because Mr. Bell is a teacher to middle school students in "real life." Regardless, it was refreshing as the adults in mid grade books too often come off as uncaring or stupid.
4. There is no bad language. NONE.
5. The action is suspenseful without being overtly violent. There is fighting between the forces of light and darkness. There has to be! But there was nothing to give you a sickening feeling, no murders, no bloody crime scenes, etc. It is perfectly geared to middle grade readers and is safe for a family read aloud.
To help in the review I asked my 12 year old daughter to read the books too. Here are her thoughts, "First, I really liked that there was no bad language. None at all! I liked that even though, Conner, Melanie and Lexa were young they weren't too young to fight for Light. They had to open themselves up to the light and let the light fill them. It would not force itself on them. I also like when Dr. Timberi explained that they needed to obey their parents. If they disobeyed they were no longer choosing light. I can't wait for the next book to come out!"
All-in-all I really enjoyed reading the books and have plans on using them as family read alouds. I appreciate the values Mr. Bell stresses throughout the books. You don't have to worry about immorality, vulgarity, or violence - a rare thing in this day of Percy Jackson and Hunger Games popularity. I highly recommend these books!
If you like to try before you buy you can read the first few chapters of each book on Braden Bell's website. Click here for The Kindling and Penumbras.
Disclaimer: I received free copies of the The Kindling and Penumbras to review. All opinions are mine.
Montserrat enjoys classical music, playing the piano, reading biographies, sewing, and playing a good game of Scrabble. She thinks spending time with her family is truly heaven on earth. You can follow her family's varied adventures at Chocolate on my Cranium.
October 29, 2013
October 24, 2013
Let’s face it, life doesn’t always cooperate with our plans. Sometimes we have an unexpected pregnancy that makes us throw up for six months. Other times we might get ill. Though it is perfectly fine to take a sick day periodically, what if you have an extended illness? How do you go about keeping up with your children’s academics?
I’ve been going through some difficult medical treatments. In fact, many patients are encouraged to not work throughout the duration of these treatments, which can last over a year. As a single mom, that is not an option for me. I must work. I also just can’t take a year off from teaching my children.
I wanted to give you some basic tips that will help if you find yourself in an extended illness.
Lists, LISTS, LISTS
When you need your children to be as independent as possible, it helps to have their responsibilities written out for them. I have their morning routine, the school list, and their after school chores all listed out. On their school list We have two boxes: one for completed and one for checked. The second box is for my benefit. This helps me remember what I still need to look over.
You might think the morning routine is unnecessary for my older ones, but when I am sick my children tend to get really lazy. They’d stay in pajamas and leave their hair unbrushed all day if I let them. The list takes the pressure off of me in the mornings. Here is a sample of one of our lists:
With this, they are responsible for their day. They don’t need to wait on me to tell them what to do next. I don’t require they do the school list in order, but the entire list must get done. Whatever subject they choose to do is up to them. However, if it is a subject where they need a lot of instruction for me, they may have to wait until I am done with a sibling.
school on the couch
There are days I am so nauseated or in so much pain, it is hard to be up at the school table. On those days, I school from the couch. The child I am working with gets to cuddle up with me under a blanket on mommy’s special couch. The kids love it and I kind of like the cuddles myself.
The other children are working at the school table on the things they can do independently.
Even a Kindergartener has things they can do for school independently. However, the younger they are, the more interaction and instruction they need from me. Because of that, I make sure I work with the youngest ones first. Starting with the youngest, I’ll teach them their first subject. Then they do the work while I teach the next youngest a subject. I’m rotating the first two back and forth quite a bit. They’re quick to complete the work, because they want to get to the next subject and cuddle again. While I’m doing that, the older children have a lot of things they can do without me.
Once I’m done with the younger set, I get to focus on the older ones. First, we’ll talk about the things they worked on. For instance, my eighth grader is doing a course on the constitution this year for history. Though she is perfectly capable of reading through the text and answering the questions, I think it is also important that we get to talk about what she’s read. After all, discussion is where a lot of the real learning takes place. Once we’ve talked about what she’s done independently, I teach her the subjects she needs me for, such as Algebra. When she’s doing that work, I can go on to another older child.
when possible, combine kids
When it comes to things like history, it is helpful to put children close to the same age in the same subject text. One of the things I love about homeschooling, is I can teach one lesson to three or four different grade levels at the same time. We get to learn as a family.
For example, when we did our lesson on Sargon, the Akkadian Emperor, I told the story to more than one child. The older ones don’t feel like they’re being treated like a baby because their assignments separate them out. While the youngest one may just have to answer some questions or narrate back to me, the next older child might write a story about their narration. An even older child will be assigned some research to do in addition to our history lesson. In this case, my oldest had to do a comparison of the rule of Sargon with the rule of Hammurabi. They also did some research on the different kinds of rule, such as dictatorship, republic, theocracy, etc.
The beauty of that is I am only “teaching” once, yet I can knock out several grade levels simultaneously.
give yourself a break
Periodically, you will need a day to rest. Public school teachers get “teacher work days”. Because of my illness, I don’t have scheduled work days. Instead, I save them for the days that I just can’t stop vomiting, or the pain is too much to deal with. I’ll just announce “Teacher work day!”. Some of the kiddos will cheer. My most naturally empathetic child will come up and give me a hug because she knows that means mom is having a lot of trouble that day.
On teacher work days, the older kids can still do independent work. They also get to work on subjects they are interested in, but we don’t generally cover in school. The youngest ones much watch some educational programming that day, such as Liberty’s Kids and Magic School Bus. They also have to keep up with their reading. Other than that, they are free to play, play, play.
While it isn’t ideal to have to school through illnesses, know that it is possible. Your house might be a wreck, but your children are well loved and steadily making progress on their education.
Also, remember that the Spirit is there throughout to comfort and guide you. He’ll let you know when things need to be changed up just a little. Follow the guidance the Lord sends you through His Spirit. Trust Him.
Annmarie Worthington is a single mom and freelance writer who homeschools her four delightful children. You can learn more about Annmarie and her conversion to Mormonism at her blog www.annmarieathome.blogspot.com.
October 20, 2013
A little over a year ago I shared on this blog the journey we were going through with my oldest son "Bean" and his learning disability. I thought today that I would share with you how things are going on that front now, in the hopes that something I say may be helpful to someone, since most of us have at least one child who is not easy to teach.
Here is what I wrote near the end of my post a year ago:
"So I am on my knees a lot lately. The task before me truly seems impossible, given the my energy levels, personality, and the demands on my time. However, I know the Lord has provided a way and He will see us through this. Bean is the way he is for a reason, and I am the way I am for a reason. We are both going to grow and if we keep following the Spirit we are both going to be okay."
Do you know what, friends? The Lord DID provide a way, which has unfolded in a way I never could have foreseen. We followed the Spirit and things are going really really well right now.
Bean, now twelve years old and in "sixth grade" (for what that's worth,) is doing far better than I could have imagined a year ago. He is progressing in learning to spell, he can actually do short writing assignments for me now, he isn't reversing letters anymore, and he gets his school work done every day without a battle or a meltdown. If I could have seen him today all those years when I was having to go shut myself in my room and scream for a couple minutes because I just couldn't deal with him anymore I would have felt so much better.
In fact, I would love to sit down with my old self and say "you're going to be amazed at the way this kid is going to turn out. You may be worried that he has mental deficiencies that will hold him back all his life, but for the most part the challenges are not as big as they look to you right now, and his talents and gifts more than make up for them. Just keep loving him, being patient with him, and encouraging him. Teach him on whatever front he CAN learn on at the moment and when you hit a brick wall on one of the fronts where you think he should be progressing just back off and give him time. Mostly, he just needs time."
We have developed a system that is working very well for us right now. There's nothing really high-tech about it-- there are no special techniques or tools. We've just finally learned what works and what doesn't to keep him moving ahead. Here are some of the things we are doing:
- I let him make his own school schedule this fall. We discussed what should be in it, but I knew he'd be more willing to buckle down each day if he designed the schedule. He got to decide how many days a week he was going to do each subject and what order he would do them in.
- I also gave him some say in curriculum choices. It's great that he's old enough now that we can discuss these things together.
- He has a much better time focusing each day if he begins the day with some physical exercise. When he was younger he used to need frequent breaks to go jump on the trampoline. Now he is older he doesn't need so much of that anymore, but it really does help if he starts out the day with physical activity.
- I know now that I have to work with him one-on-one for his core subjects. Just knowing and accepting that relieves me of the frustration I used to feel when he couldn't follow through on any assignment I gave him to work on independently. When I am less frustrated everything seems to go better (funny how that works!)
- Our biggest focus is on spelling because that's his major problem area. He works from three different spelling programs, each of which are helping him in a different way. We try to work from two programs each day. He is working out of second grade books, but he is learning.
- I still don't make him do a lot of writing, and in the past that may have worried me because I know he's extremely deficient in writing compared to the public school kids his age, but I absolutely know it will come in time, when HIS brain is ready, just like reading did. He now reads voraciously and above grade level, and if you'd told me that a few years ago I would have been really surprised. So many of his challenges have just come from him being a late bloomer. I wish I had understood that better back in the day. People kept telling me to be patient and things would get better when he was older, but I wasn't sure if it was going to be like that for us.
- I have given up trying to get him to do most of the enrichment activities that go with our curricula, like science field journals and history craft projects. I used to get so agitated about not getting to do these things because these were what made homeschool "fun" in my mind, but with Bean they just take too much time and we're already out of time just getting him through his basics. I have finally accepted the fact that these are fabulous for some kids, like my oldest daughter, and a recipe for disaster for others.
- He still listens to a ton of audio books. I think getting him addicted to classics on audio at a young age was one of the best things I ever did for him. Just recently he was begging me to download "Jo's Boys" by Louisa May Alcott because he loves "Little Men" so much. I'm just thrilled about that.
- Music is a huge priority for us because he has talent there and I know it is SO good for the brain. We are blessed where we live that he is able to be in the band at the Junior High and that has been a wonderful experience for him. He is also in a community youth choir. And I am still trying to teach him piano lessons.
- And last, but definitely not least, he and I have a reward system set up. I know what motivates him to work and I use it to keep him on track.
Sarah (Birrd) and her husband (Badger) have three sons and three daughters. They live in the mountains of the western United States. Sarah makes absolutely perfect oatmeal cookies. She would love it if you stopped in for a visit at her personal blog, The Birrd's Nest.
October 13, 2013
3 Nephi 27:27
…Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.
The youth theme for this month is Becoming More Christlike. The topic I taught on today was “How can I become more Christlike?”
I really felt that the message portrayed was important for all of us, so I decided to share it as my post for this month.
If you go to the Young Women’s Lesson for the month of October in the Come Follow Me Manual, you can get a list of scriptures, and talks, etc…
However, the most important aspect of this lesson, I felt was taken from the Preach My Gospel, Chapter 6 (pages 115-126).
It’s my challenge to each of you to study this lesson!
At the end of the lesson is a self-assessment (p.126). I encourage you (as I did my girls) to take the self-assessment, and to ponder in your heart and mind which attribute you would like to work on.
Then, using the Preach My Gospel, read up on that attribute, answer the questions and record in your journal.
If you have a young woman in your home, this would make a great 10hr project and would be great to work on together as mother and daughter. It can also be a Family Home Evening lesson, or family or spouse project.
Make sure to also read the Ideas for Study and Application on pg 124, including companion study suggestions (if you are doing this together with someone).
Keep in mind the following (from pg. 123 of Preach My Gospel):
* Learning to be like Christ is a lifelong pursuit
* You follow Christ’s example- develop His attributes – one action and decision at a time.
* Changing to become Christlike requires exercising faith, repenting, keeping covenants, receiving an increased measure of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
I’d love to hear your experiences!
Jen is a mother to 3 boys with a girl on the way (due Oct 28th). She is finishing up her second official year of homeschooling. She has a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education and worked with young children for many years before having her own. She likes to read, cook and get crafty. She is an Usborne Books Consultant and blogs at Chestnut Grove Academy.