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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Teaching Tip 4 — Learning Styles

Teaching Tip 4 — Learning Styles

If you think back to your days in a classroom, can you remember the kid that was always fidgeting? And, what about the one who was always talking? You probably noticed the studious types who knew every answer in English, history or science class, and the gregarious types who knew every person in school. In P.E., some kids could run laps without breaking a sweat, while others could barely make it once around the track. In art or music, some made it look easy while the rest tried to not look stupid. There were labels—from top student to teacher’s pet to ADD to daydreamer to troublemaker—whether positive or negative, given by teachers and other students. Do you remember?

Why do some students thrive when they sit at a desk with a book and an assignment, while others struggle? And, more importantly, why do we consider the former “smart” and the others not? Why do we find some easy to teach—dream students—while others frustrate us? These questions are critical to answer because we want ALL of our kids to thrive in their learning experience.

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Meeting another Von Trapp!

Meeting a von Trapp!

Previously, I blogged about my unexpected introduction to Rosemarie, the eldest daughter born to Captain and Maria von Trapp. You can read it here. But, surprisingly, that is not my only experience meeting the von Trapp's.

At a homeschool convention a few years ago, I was presenting History Via the Scenic Route, a workshop about making history come to life using music, geography, science, literature, and more. . . The room was packed out, but, in the midst of all the different faces, I kept noticing this lovely, elderly woman in the back. There was something about her that was striking, and I remember thinking at the time, "She looks like such an interesting woman. . .I wish I could meet her!"

My next presentation would begin only fifteen minutes after History Via the Scenic Route ended, and, because it was in a different room, I had to hurry to get my computer and notes packed up and out the door. As is common, though, lots of folks had questions about the workshop. (Side note: it is not EASY to make sense when you are scrambling!!)

As I was frantically packing the last cord, I heard a warm and cultured voice say, "Oh, you are not leaving yet, are you? I wanted to share something with you!"

I looked up, and there was that charming woman I had noticed earlier. She had such an engaging smile, and I was delighted that she wanted to talk with me—but there was no time. So I asked, "Would you mind chatting as we walk to my next room, as I only have a few minutes to set up for the next workshop?" She graciously complied, and, with her husband, strolled down the hall with me, sharing stories of some of the beautiful things she had seen in Europe—stories that, based on my lecture, she thought I would enjoy.

She had such an engaging smileJust as we got to my next presentation room, as I prepared to reluctantly say goodbye to this marvelous conversationalist, she said, "I have one more thing I would like to tell you, but I am going to whisper it in your ear." This was endearing, and I assumed it was something of an earlier generation's manner.

Imagine my utter surprise when she whispered, "I am one of the von Trapp children. You must not tell anyone here, as there are always publicity hounds in every crowd."

I looked at her with astonishment and delight!

"Oh!!! I met your sister several years ago in Florida!! She was with Bill Anderson, and they came to our hotel room for dinner, stories and singing with my family!!!"

It was HER turn to be astonished. But, yes, she remembered having heard about that meeting a decade prior.

Huge smiles all around. So many things to share, no time left. . .Then, with a quick hug and a gratefully amazed heart, I bid adieu to a second daughter of Captain and Maria von Trapp!!!

Thought you would enjoy that story. . . I cherish the memory!!!

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Let kids MOVE!

Let kids MOVE!

What on earth do we do with those kids who seem to constantly fidget and bounce and doodle and roll and jump and run and dance? Prepare yourself, because this might seem simplistic. The answer to the question of dealing with kids who won’t sit still is: Let Them Move!!

Goodness, why didn’t I think of that?

It took years of having a tree-climbing, hall-running, constantly-in-motion child before I finally realized that trying to force him into the sit-down-and-don’t-move-while-you-study mold was utterly worthless. He didn’t learn, we didn’t enjoy our efforts, and I was weary of trying to hold back the irrepressible energy of youth.

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Teaching Tip 3—The Connection

Teaching Tip 3—The Connection

 

Last week in this blog series, we considered the importance of a first impression when introducing our students to an academic subject, or, in this case, a historical era. We looked at how to make this initial introduction through an auditory, visual, and kinesthetic experience, and how this brings a sense of eye-opening FUN to the students.

Today, let’s delve further into this idea of an introduction, and talk about what happens when students begin making connections. . .

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Why engage your child's interests?

Engage a child's interest

A mom recently asked me about the idea of following our kids interests. After reading Why Quit Homeschooling, she wrote, “I ended with the same question that I often do when I read about moms who've 'ditched' the textbook method and are allowing their kids interests to lead in homeschool.  My question is "So how do they make sure that the appropriate math and language arts gets learned by the end of the school year?". . .If I let my kids' interests lead our homeschooling, my 12 yr.old son would play with Legos, do science experiments (with no writing involved), and read G.A. Henty history books (and don't ask him to summarize chapters either!).”

These are excellent questions, and I love her obvious  hunger to give her kids the best.

So, let's consider her statement about: "moms who've 'ditched' the textbook method and are allowing their kids interests to lead in homeschool".

There is one view of homeschooling that marches down that path without flinching, and it's called "Unschooling."  Though there are folks who are devoted to unschooling and its philosophy (pioneered by John Holt), I have never been comfortable with this as an overall approach.  The reason?  Because I also had kids, who, if left to follow their own interests, would have built Legos full-time and never written a paper!

There is another view of homschooling, however, that has a different foundational philosophy.  I call it "Education That's Relational." Rather than simply following a child's interests throughout the day (and hoping they someday want to know about grammar!), education that's relational seeks to engage your child's interest in the course being learned, in each academic subject they are studying. And it works with every age and every grade.

What interests your child?

NOTICE: This second approach requires some initial preparation on your part, but because it helps students to become engaged and self-motivated, it will save you time (and tears) later!

There are three major components:

#1) Be careful to observe. Watch, listen to, and pay attention to your child—to his/her interests, challenges, passions, struggles.  Does she LIGHT UP when you pull out a book?  Or not?  Does he come to life when he gets to go outside?  Or not? Does she struggle with the worksheets that her sibling loved?  Does he shut down when you ask him to tell someone outside your family what he just learned?  All of these things are powerful insights, clues to what makes your child tick.

#2)  Become equipped. Learn about Multiple Intelligences and the four Learning Styles. (I've linked to my DVD that describes this for homeschoolers. There are many other resources available!)  They will be the key to unlock the door to your child's interest in each subject.  So, for instance, if you have a student who is always on the go, always moving, always into things, they have a strong  Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence. When it is time to learn multiplication tables, instead of making Johnny sit quietly to memorize it (good luck!), instead, invite him to practice jumping jacks as he shouts out each part of the times table:  "2 x 2 is 4, YAY!!!" This equipping on your part will make a difference in the ways your children can learn and engage with every subject.

#3) Be flexible. Having a planned schedule is one of the best ways to navigate the demands of both teaching your kids and caring for your family.  The key to being relational, though, is to be flexible. For instance, if you have a plan that Suzie will learn the differences between nouns, verbs and prepositions on Friday, but she is really struggling to understand the concepts, then take a few steps back.  Set your schedule aside temporarily, and take the time to do some hands-on work with these parts of speech.  After a refreshing weekend, you might have Suzie touch the nouns you name (chair, door, shoe), act out the verbs (jump, sit, run), and dance the prepositions (under, over, between).  On Tuesday, have her touch the nouns SHE names, act out the verbs SHE says, and dance the prepositions SHE chooses.  Though the schedule has to be adjusted, Suzie just engaged with her own learning. And, suddenly, it makes sense!

Being educationally relational in these ways will allow your kids to thrive in their learning experience.  And, as an added bonus, your job gets a LOT easier.

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