Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!
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The Satisfaction of Learning

The Satisfaction of Learning

What does it mean to have "satisfaction" when we learn? To answer, let me introduce you to one of my former mentors, the brilliant international educator with Youth With A Mission, Rosalie Pedder. 

When Rosalie walked into a classroom, you never knew what would happen. She was hilarious, direct, and always having us do things we had never done before. As a result, her students began to learn in ways they never knew were possible! 

For instance, the first day she lectured in our YWAM school in NZ, she tossed each of us aDSCN0207 koosh ball at the beginning of class.  Yes, a rather unusual start! 

In her delightful Kiwi accent, Rosalie announced that some of us would discover that those koosh balls interfered with our ability to listen to her.  If that was the case, we were told to set the koosh ball down. 

Others, she said, would discover that, while the koosh ball was not interfering, it was not helping us, either.  If that was the case, we were told to set the thing down. 

But, she exclaimed, for some, playing with a koosh ball would allow them to actually hear and understand what a teacher was saying—for the first time in their lives!  For these remarkable students, they were to pick up a koosh ball each morning upon entering the classroom—because God has wired some of us to learn best while touching things or moving!

And, just as she had described, there were two students—one from Switzerland and one from Korea—who found that they could actually learn in a classroom, while listening to a teacher.  For each of these women, the discovery was actually life-changing.

Because Rosalie was, hands-down, the best educator I had ever seen, I asked her if she would mentor me. She graciously agreed, and for the four years prior to her death, we used to talk on the phone about learning issues, and about how to open the door for all kinds of learners to be able to learn, to experience a love of learning in their own unique design.  As part of this discussion, she assigned me a huge list of books to read—including her own four booklets:  Starting Well, Thinking Well, Learning Well and Teaching Well(You can download each of these books here.)

In Starting Well, Rosalie writes, "All learning is not fun. Most of it is very hard work, but it does not also have to be unpleasant. Gardening in spring is delightful—it's hard work, but pleasant.  Only a fool would try to carry out the same activities in winter.  Why add unpleasantness to something already difficult?  But we do that in learning all the time.  Something hard but satisfying often unnecessarily becomes something both hard and unpleasant."

In case you do better with visuals, let me illustrate with photos from my former garden.

It is summer.

The weather is lovely, the plants are growing and blooming.

If you love gardening like I do, this scene invites you to jump in and work to your heart's content!

By the end of the day, you'll be tired and dirty, but, oh, so satisfied with the results!

Now, notice the difference between this photo and the one below.

This is the exact same plot of land, the exact same possibilities with the same bit of dirt.

What has changed?

It is winter.

The weather is freezing cold, the ground is covered in snow.

If you love gardening, this scene reminds you to go inside by the warm fire and look at the seed catalogs for next spring!

The garden is still beautiful, but there is absolutely no invitation to come and dig. In fact, the idea of trying to work in that bit of ground is rather grim, isn't it? If you tried it, it would be much, much harder and it would result in much, much less. In fact, if this was your only experience in working outside in the dirt, it wouldn't take long before you decided that you HATED gardening.

And that is exactly the point Rosalie makes.  Learning, though it requires hard work, does NOT have to be grim. It can actually be pleasurable.


When you work in a garden, you get tired, right?  Because you enjoy working in a garden, being exhausted afterwards is acceptable, even somewhat pleasurable.  

In the same way, if you enjoy learning something new, being exhausted afterwards holds its own reward.  There is an immense satisfaction in having accomplished a feat, discovering something fascinating, in answering that question that was so puzzling. 

Makes sense, right?

Unhappy learnerNow, with that in mind, consider this contrast. 

Rather than the joy and delight you can experience in learning (like the avid gardener in spring), what would it be like for you, instead, to be enslaved to a mind-numbing drudgery that seemed to never end, where you were required to memorize and regurgitate unrelated, unconnected facts (like trying to garden in frozen ground)?

Hmmm.

Joy or drudgery?

Well, frankly, if I were given a choice, I would want joy.

Your children choose joy, too.

We'll talk more about this next time.

Remember, stay relational.

Diana

If you want to see a curriculum that frees you and your students from the drudgery and invites you into the joy of learning, click the yellow button below.

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High School Students Can Love Learning

High School Students Can Love Learning

Is it legitimate for our kids to enjoy learning?

I know, I know.  You're surprised that I would even ask.  I mean, isn't it obvious that little kids do better when learning is fun?

But here's the real question:

Is it legitimate for our high school kids to enjoy learning??

Aha.  I bet that just made you uncomfortable, didn't it?  I mean, isn't it obvious that, once students get to high school (if not middle school), that it's time to knuckle down, do the unpleasant stuff, and just get it done?

That's why I asked if we could talk. . . Because, though the topic is uncomfortable, I think that there are some ways of looking at this that just might make a healthy difference for you and your kids.  The way I like to describe it is education that's relational.

To start, may I tell you a story?

Monte digging for rocks.001At the Mid-Winter Conference in Michigan some years ago, one of our speakers, Monte Swan, shared a bit about the work he does as a field geologist.  And, right there, in the midst of his presentation, he made an astonishing statement.  It went something like this: 

"I loved being outside as a boy. . . Becoming a geologist means that I never had to grow up—I still get to play outside!"

Monte described for us a bit of the real life of a geologist, and decisions he and Karey made to include the whole family. . .packing up their vehicle and heading out to the hills for him to do his research on the rocks.  Believe me, you can't listen to Monte without knowing clearly that he loves his work. . .and that, in fact, his childhood love of nature was a major factor in the decision to pursue geology. 

This pursuit of something loved as a child did not stop with Monte, however.  Travis, Monte's son, developed a love for music as a child, while his family was writing songs, playing instruments, and singing together.  As an adult, Travis now makes his living working in music and other creative arts at a Colorado church.

That is one family's story.  And, since we each have our own incredibly unique story, I'm not trying to tell you what your story is supposed to look like.

What I do want to talk about, however, is the widespread notion that, when our kids get to high school age, academics and enjoyment don't mix.  In other words, education—to be legitimate—should be irksome, unpleasant, even painful. The more they struggle, they more they accomplish?

Well, yes and no. 

If someone works hard to learn something new—something they want to know—they will accomplish a lot.  So, yes.

Unhappy learnerIf someone is pushed, forced, shamed, manipulated, threatened to learn something new—something they don't want to know—they will accomplish a little.  So, no.

I know, I know.  You are thinking, "My high school son doesn't WANT to know anything about Napoleon (or, fill in the blank________), but I think he should!"

The thought lurks in our brains that, because we didn't enjoy our studies (and look how great we turned out!), our children don't have to enjoy their studies, either.  Many folks look down their nose at this whole concept of connecting academic education and enjoyment.

To address this thought, I'd like to talk about the concept of playing.

Over the next several blogs, let's consider what it would look like for our high school kids to play with their academic studies by looking at how our kids can actually enjoy learning, how enjoyment increases the memory's retention, and the outcome of enjoying what you do.

Hope you'll come along for the ride!

Remember, stay relational.

Diana

Click on the yellow button below if you would like to explore how our History Revealed curriculum helps students to enjoy their learning!

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Read the instruction book. . .

You know, I hadn't watched TV since 1992 until this past year.



Wow, what a statement! It rather resoundingly puts me into that category of "weird people," doesn't it?



However, this post is not actually about the pros and cons of TV-watching.



So, to continue. Though I don't watch TV  hardly ever, we do watch the occasional DVD. My family jokes that I only watch movies I've already seen—which is pretty close to true.



However, this post is not actually about the pros and cons of DVD-watching.



We own a flat-screen TV which we use solely for watching said occasional DVD.  We bought it on sale four years ago, after our long-lived 13-inch TV became unusable.



At last!  We have now arrived at the point.



Because we were extremely busy four years ago, we never bothered to read the instruction manual from the manufacturer.  We just hooked up a few wires and fiddled with it until we managed to get it to work with our DVD player.



When my children introduced me to the new technology of streaming movies from my computer, I was intrigued.  I had a computer, I had a flat screen TV, and, fortunately, the two were easily connected.



What we were surprised to discover was that, though we could see the movie, we could not hear the movie. 



Huh.  I would have thought that the folks designing flat screen TVs would have figured that out before they put them on the market.



But, you can't have everything.  So, anytime we wanted to stream a movie, we would dutifully hook up our little old speakers to my computer.  They didn't work well, but, at least we could hear something.



Until Saturday night.  While watching God of Wonders, our speakers decided to play only a loud crackling, hissing sound.  No voices, only hiss.



Enter the Manufacturer's Instruction Manual.



Suddenly, I wondered if the unused cables that came with our flat-screen, currently residing in my desk drawer, might possibly have an application to this situation.  We dug out the unread Instruction Manual, and began to try to decipher its techno-language.  To our amazement, we found that those cables DID, in fact, have something rather startling to offer.  When we hooked them up to the flat screen, following the diagram given, and then plugged them into the computer, the built-in flat screen speakers brought forth glorious sound!!



As it turns out, the manufacturer actually had thought through the issues and had clearly addressed each one in the instruction manual.  It was rather humbling to find out that we could have actually been listening—for four years!—to richly rewarding sound, if only we had taken the time to read it. 



Do you know where I'm going with this?



I started pondering right away about how many other areas of my life may have been much less than they could have been if only I had taken the time to read the instructions. What had I missed?  And, dear friend, what have you missed?



Because, you see, we live in an age that does not have time to stop and read and listen and learn. Culturally, we are running just as fast as we can, and there is NO time to "waste" on instruction manuals.  I'm not speaking only of technological toys, either.  It's reading the Teacher's Guide before we toss the curriculum to our kids, it's reading the garden manual before we plop that flower in the ground, it's reading the cookbook before we throw the casserole in the oven.  And, most of all, dear friends, it's reading the Bible—the most important of all Instruction Manuals, given from the Creator of each one of us—before we engage our day.



If this resonates with you, I encourage you to read Proverbs 3:13-18.  It will open your eyes to the amazing possibilities!



Remember, stay relational!



Diana



 


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Intentional living. . .

I made a mistake yesterday.



Actually, I've made the same mistake time and time again.  And, as I thought about it this morning, I thought YOU might take some good from my mistake.



So, here it goes.



I had been speaking at a wonderful homeschool convention in Michigan. One of my friends from the 1990s was there, presenting with her husband.  Karey Swan is one of those people that you just want to sit down and listen to, drinking from her stories and her perspective.  In her presentation this weekend, she, once again, reminded me of our deep need to have space in our life for quiet, for creativity, for living.



I remember being impacted by that notion when I first heard it.  We had had the privilege of spending some time at Monte and Karey's home in the Rocky Mountains back in the mid-90s, and I can still remember how amazed I was at how much living these two accomplished.  It wasn't that they did it all. No one can. But what Monte and Karey did do was make choices of what was important, of what was worth spending time and energy on. Her example of intentionally keeping her life uncluttered from the crazy busyness that can engulf homeschoolers helped me to make some choices to simplify my life, too.



However, I am done homeschooling. My kids are grown, our life has changed. So, what have I done to fill the gap? Work! Work, work, work, work, work!! Now, don't get me wrong. Work is good. But as with all good things, too much of it is bad. As I can personally attest, "All work and no play make ______________ (fill in the name) a dull woman, wife, mom."



But Karey's presentation reminded me once again, as she spoke deeply of the need, even in this season of life, to celebrate life, to rest, to savor and enjoy quiet, creativity and living. I was in awe of the way she has continued to live out her life in an intentional, hospitable, creative, mentoring, serving, loving way. And, once again, I thought, "Yes!! I need to walk with this celebration and joy in my life!!"



But, what can I say? Old habits die hard.



We drove home Monday from the convention, through the snowstorm, to our little home. And yesterday, instead of savoring and resting and crocheting my grandson's birthday present (which is what I really wanted to do), I jumped with both feet into answering emails and writing newsletters and all the minutiae of stuff of coming home. By the time the day was over, I was disgruntled, disappointed, disastrously tired.



Like I said, I made a mistake.



This morning, however, I recognized that what I need to do is give myself permission to not do it all. I need to recognize the need for rest. I need to make room for my need to be creative with my hands, not just my words.



And, dear friend, with all that is on your plate, I imagine you might need that same kind of permission.



So, here it is. For what it's worth, I encourage you to take time in your day-to-day life for space, for quiet, for creativity, for celebration, for laughter and fun.  



 


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Demystifying Education, Part Two

Demystifying Education, Part Two

In the last post, we looked at the first Demystifier—children are always learning.  Today, we'll take that a step further.

Demystifier #2:

It's not really learning until it changes you.

Learning changes you. Getting it right on the test doesn't mean you have learned it. I took a test to get my driver's license, and I had to know the speed limit in order to pass the test. But if I blithely drive twenty miles over the speed limit, did I really learn it? The police officer who stops me will not be impressed when I say, "Oh, I know the speed limit." He will write me a ticket, I'll pay a lot of money, and my insurance will go up. What are the odds that from that point on, I will pay attention to the speedometer, and actually drive the speed limit? If I do, then I will have learned my lesson.

Learning changes you. If I learn French, then that means I can actually speak it or read it. If I learn punctuation, I will correctly place my commas. If I learn percentages, I will save money at the grocery store. These are all indicators that real learning has taken place.

So, are your children really learning history? Are they adept at using their math facts? Have their biology lessons made a difference in food preparation? Are they able to write a letter to the editor concerning a local issue or, if they are much younger, a thank-you note to Grandma? Can they remember what they read in the story yesterday?

Mastery

When we begin to see the importance of letting them learn until they actually have mastered and are able to use the material, we will slow down our mad rush through facts. We will make sure that our children understand what they are studying, that they have time to interact or play with the subject matter, that they have processed and reviewed the material in a way that brings the meaning to life, that they have had the light bulb go on. In short, when what is being studied is no longer a factoid that can float out of the head just as easily as it floated in, but has become a living, interwoven part of their being, then it has been learned.

If you will put these two basic truths -- to help them love learning, and to have them interact with the material to the point of mastery before you move on -- into everyday practice in your homeschool, your children will astonish the world.

Remember, stay relational.

 

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