Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Top 10 Ways to Cut Out the Tiles for Delightful Reading

I've started Phoebe on Delightful Reading this week. She was wanting to do more "grown-up" work and was very excited to start on her own box of Delightful Reading. (I used this program for Jonathan, but used my shabby first-draft stuff since we started before the kit was published.)

Since it was a new kit, all the tiles needed to be cut out. Now I know some do not enjoy the cutting out part, but one of my favorite parts of homeschooling is all the preparation and lesson planning, so it is right up my alley. Nevertheless, my mind couldn't help constructing a top ten list of ways to aid the tile-cutting process.

1. Pay your kids to do it.

2. Watch your favorite movie while cutting.

3. Use a cutting board to cut the long lines; then snip, snip along the short ones.

4. Eat chocolate. It makes anything fun!

5. Play upbeat music. Maybe even jig a little.

6. Reward yourself with cheesecake. Or chocolate.

7. Skype or conference call your BFF. Better yet, have a croppin' party with her!

8. Think up your own Top Ten List.

9. Start thinking of how your kids will grow up and leave you and how sad and empty the house will seem, and start bawling over those precious alphabet letters.

10. Definitely grab a bowl of ice cream and top it with chocolate.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ten Homeschooling Don'ts

"I don't know the key to success, 
                          but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."   
                                                                                                         ~ Bill Cosby

Ten Homeschooling Don'ts 

1. Don't start your child too early.  There is no reason for it, and it may do more harm than good.  I know you are eager!  Instead do lots of reading up on your chosen philosophy of education.  Research home education to your heart's content.  Read the school books recommended by your curriculum (especially ones that your child may read on his own when he's older).  But don't do sit-down work with your child until he is ready (for various reasons, we wait and start a half-hour-a-day or less preschool when our kids turn 5).  You can even put out books and manipulatives and handicraft items for him to explore as long as you don't tease him into interest.  Let him discover for the first 5 or 6 years of his life.

2. Don't assume homeschooling is the only option for your family.  It is not for everyone.  It is not the only godly method of education.  It may not be for every stage of your life.  Believing that you have to homeschool can put pressure on the family that snuffs out the joy if it's not actually right for you.

3. Don't overwhelm yourself with choices.  I love the fact that I can choose where my kids go to school and choose to teach what I think is important.  Freedom is awesome.  But I must narrow down those choices as best and quickly as I can, or I will be forever choosing and never using.

4. Don't constantly switch up curriculum.  Research and peruse and take your time and seek
guidance.  Then purchase and use without looking back with a "what if."  It can take a few tries to find what works for you.  Just realize the grass is not always greener on the other side.

5. Don't go it alone.  Share the journey with your spouse, friends, and God.  You need them.

6. Don't minimize your role as educator.  The older your kids get and the more kids you add into the mix, the more time it will take each day to do school.  I finally realized a year or two ago that I couldn't go to a weekday morning activity anymore because that was prime school time.  A private or public school teacher couldn't leave her job to attend a regular Tuesday morning event; why did I take my role less seriously?  Homeschooling is your full time job.  You are your child's teacher, and that is a rare and precious responsibility.  

7.  Don't work so hard to complete if you are in need of a break.  A break can realign your thoughts, bring rest and joy, and make you eager to start back in with renewed vigor.  Even a day or week's break from school can be refreshing.

8.  Don't be so consumed with school that other aspects of life are left behind.  You are likely also a spouse, sibling, daughter/son, friend.  You may have pregnancies and relocations and crazy life interruptions.  You also need rest and health and other outlets of interest that bring joy.

9.  Don't compare your children to each other or to public/private school children.  This includes test scores.  Oh, how we love to feel good about ourselves when our children excel!  And oh, how we love to despise ourselves when they are less than!  Improve your child's strengths.  Help them with their weaknesses.  Recognize their growth and value and individuality.

10.  Don't think you must "arrive" or have already "arrived."  Just like we as persons do in life, our homeschool will change and grow.  You don't need to have it all figured out up front, and I'm not sure having it all figured out should even be a goal.  It is an exciting journey.  Enjoy the hills and rivers and plains: all forms that are different from each other, but all unique and enjoyable in their own way.

Go to Encouragement
Go to Guidance
Ten Homeschooling Don'ts
You may be interested in How To....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Staying the Homeschool Course: Guidance

"Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in Thy wisdom make me wise."

~Alfred Lord Tennyson

Get Guidance

You have placed yourself in charge of your child's education.  Some won't trust that you can handle it.  Test scores tell no lies, right?  Their life potential rests on your shoulders.  No pressure.

The fact is that you are in charge of your child's education.  And that is a big responsibility.  But it is no bigger than being a parent and raising a child.  God gave you children.  He will equip you to raise them and educate them.  But you do not have to go it alone.  Take some pressure off yourself by sharing your concerns, asking for advice, and laying your worries to rest.  

Experienced homeschoolers are awesome for allaying fears.  They've been there.  They know how small our huge worries actually are.  They can give advice, but often their listening ear and comforting words are a perfect balm for troubled minds.

Don't miss out on an obvious source of guidance which is your spouse.  We may feel they aren't steeped in homeschooling thoughts like we are or that they aren't interested.  But any troubles your children are having with education are your spouse's troubles too.  They have insight into the children's personalities and interests as well as you do.  And they can give a broader perspective if you are lost in the woods and can't see the forest for the trees.

God cares about your homeschool journey too.  Pray for guidance.   A year or so ago, my oldest had been using a Spanish resource that had caused her to despise Spanish, and I didn't know what to do to change her attitude.  I can't remember if I actually prayed for God's help (my spirit was seeking, but I'm not sure I mouthed the words), but I attribute God's hand at work.  A co-op in town offered a Spanish class which she reluctantly joined.  We quit the resource she loathed, and the teacher and friends in the Spanish class brought joy back into this foreign language for her.  God knows things we don't know, and I am confident He can provide what our children need even before we seek Him for help.

Matthew chapter 6 applies to homeschooling worries too.  "Why do you worry saying, 'Why can't my son read yet?' or 'How shall we pay for books?'"  Your heavenly Father knows what you need.  Do not worry about tomorrow ~ today has enough trouble of its own.

You may be interested in How To.....

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Staying the Homeschool Course: Encouragement

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  ~ Proverbs 27:17

Surround Yourself with Encouragement

Have you noticed how much easier it is to stick with something ~ a diet, your beliefs, a hobby ~if you are in it with someone else?  A partner or group provide accountability and encouragement.  Surrounding yourself with a community of homeschoolers will help you stay the course for the long haul.

There are numerous connection points for homeschoolers now, but at times you may see a need to start a group of your own.  Go for it!  The homeschool world appreciates your leadership.  Look for existing groups locally, regionally, and online.

Locally ~   
Meet-ups and Home Gatherings:  You may know some homeschoolers who live near you.  See if they meet regularly for fellowship or to discuss specific topics.  Even sporadic home gatherings are encouraging and informative.  Every family comes at an issue from a different perspective which can open your eyes to the possibilities out there and also help you determine your focus ("I'm glad that works for them, but it wouldn't work for us because....").  You can swap stories and resources and peruse curriculum and fill up your encouragement tank for the school months ahead. 
Co-ops and Classes: Some families love the structure and social aspects found in a co-op or homeschool class.  Many times the parents share the responsibilities for teaching and childcare and leadership, and the whole group benefits.  Field trips are often arranged via this avenue.  It can supplement your home teaching, and then you don't have to think about such things as art or music or Latin, especially if they aren't in your area of expertise.  They do take time and commitment, but you may find it more than worth it. 
Regionally ~  
Conventions: These large gatherings are a great reminder that you are not alone.  Speakers provide knowledge and experience at workshops.  Vendors provide every book or supply you never knew you needed.  Going with a group of friends provides a great time of fun and fellowship.  While all the booths and vendors can be overwhelming, going with a list will help you stay focused.  Many times they have special pricing for conventions; plus you won't have to pay shipping.  And the fact that you can browse through the books can be invaluable for determining if they are right for you. 
Videos: You can now find workshops, conferences, and training on video through Youtube or ordering from homeschool websites.  The cost is often cheaper than attending a convention and is wonderful for viewing with a group in your home.   
Online ~ 
Groups: Yahoo Groups or discussion forums supply a wider range of "we're in this together," especially if you need fellowship within your specific method.  Moms who have older kids are valuable for sharing insight because they've been where you are. 
Blogs: The blogging community adds regular content which can inform, encourage and humor.  Many times they provide free lessons or worksheets as well as paid services which could be of great use to you.   
Social Media: Is there anyone not on at least one of these:  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest?!  These groups can be great for getting questions answered quickly and finding out what's going on in the homeschool world. ("1/2 price tickets to the Medieval Fair on homeschool day!"  "Kindle is offering a free e-Book today only!"  "Who wants to get together at the park for a picnic tomorrow?")  

Find the fellowship that works for you without overwhelming your life.  A homeschooler could be gone every day of the week with the available options now.  But homeschooling is not a lone man's game.  Surround yourself with encouragement. 

Go to Guidance
Go to Ten Homeschooling Don'ts
You may be interested in How To....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Millie Fierce"

"This was pretty good for helping little kids to understand a bully," says my ten-year-old Elizabeth. Millie Fierce by Jane Manning is an engaging story of a mild-mannered girl who turned fierce in order to get noticed. It's recommended for ages 3 and up.

There was much discussion among my children about why no one noticed Millie when she was nice ~ about why a little thing like someone walking on her chalk-drawing set her off ~ and about what they would do if they decided to "go fierce" (this devolved into how big a piece of cake they would steal on someone's birthday and how many frosted flowers it would hold and.....you'll just have to read the book to get the connection).

I didn't make this association at first, but Elizabeth thought it was a great book to help younger kids understand why a bully acts mean.  She understood it to show that Millie acted meanly because others had treated her meanly.  I thought it was neat that she figured out that idea without input from me.
This was a great example of a living idea being passed along from the author to the child's mind (see this post on living books for more info).

Millie Fierce helped me understand better those kids who act out to get attention. I wish there had been a fuller example of how to help such a child. Millie had a turning point where she decided to be nice.  Because of her extremely bad behavior before, everyone then noticed her new niceness. But her mildness at the beginning of the book was what made her boring and easily passed over in the first place. Maybe I don't understand child psychology, but I think she might just go unnoticed again before long. Which makes me wonder, "What do kids need exactly in order to not go crazy trying to get attention?" Maybe a big dose of love and some spurring toward unique talents and traits would do the trick.

My kids and I all enjoyed reading this book and looking at the colorful illustrations. It's a compelling story which can lead into several kinds of discussions such as bullying, correct ways to get attention, and how to apologize after one has had a fierce sort of day.

This review is a part of a TLC Book Tour where many bloggers give their opinion of the same book.  You can find more reviews of this book here at TLC Book Tours.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Woodrow for President"

"He worked hard in school and -- all students note --
At 18 years old, he registered to vote!"

Woodrow for President: A Tail of Voting, Campaigns, and Elections by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes is a story of a mouse from "Moussouri" and his road to the Presidency.  It's for ages 5 and up.

This book breaks down the great unknown process of "How does one become President of the United States?" It "stresses the importance of civic and community involvement in good citizenship.  This includes volunteering, registering to vote, and participating in the political process...." I was glad they made Woodrow a family "man." From the very beginning they had him on the floor playing with his many children. They showed his rise through the ranks from town council to governor. Phoebe (age 6) noticed that he had to make lots of speeches. Debates and campaigns and voting were all covered in this tale.

Harrison (age 2) enjoyed the pictures, pointing out all the balloons. Sometimes the illustrations feel too crowded to me, but I enjoyed those that had one scene per page.  My concrete thinker (Jonathan, age 8) couldn't grasp the fact that a mouse was becoming President. All the cutesy mouse wordplay is lost on him. This book did spark a lively debate between he and Elizabeth (age 10) about whether a man or woman would make a better president. Whew! We had some fightin' words going on.

The Tail End section has some very interesting information, I thought. The authors share little tidbits from history and current practice concerning a number of topics.  For instance, under "Political Parties" they tell us: "Do you think everyone should eat vegetables?  If so, then you might have joined the Vegetarian Party! ....That is what happened in 1947 when a group of people thought that the only food we should eat were vegetables." That was a fun fact I hadn't heard of before.

We didn't fall in love with this book. It was a chore to read through it ~ not so much for me to read out loud but for the kids to listen. It may have been better if read over several days. I think sometimes adults believe children need to be enticed into learning. They can't fathom that ideas all on their own would be interesting to a child. But knowledge is food for a child's mind if we don't do all the work and chew it up for them beforehand. That's why I loved the discovery of living books a few years ago. It seems like Woodrow for President is trying to hook kids with their mouse mascot and cartoony illustrations and rhyming verse. And the information is compelling all by itself. I enjoy the Tail End section best because of that ~ it is short segments of information told interestingly with historical illustrations.

The best part of reading to my kids about Mr. Woodrow Washingtail was the conversation that came from it. Elections are coming up, so it was easy to explain what Dad and Mom will be doing for that process as Woodrow for President mentioned it throughout the story. It was also a great reminder to me of how the road to the Presidency works, so that later on, I can answer my kids' questions about it.

This review is a part of a TLC Book Tour where many bloggers give their opinion of the same book.  You can find more reviews of this book here at TLC Book Tours.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Latin Sale!

As an affiliate and enjoyer of Visual Latin, I get to let you all in on the last big sale of the year going on August 1-8.  Click the picture below and use the code "Augustus" to get 30% off all Visual Latin products!

You might want to check out their new Economics program also.