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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Give Yourself a Break!

Give yourself a break

When I began homeschooling in 1985, I was naively oblivious of the time commitment I was taking on. . .for the next twenty years!  But it didn't take long to figure out that being a homeschool mom tends to be a 24/7 career because our kids are always there, always needing something to be fixed, explained, picked up or cooked.  Now, don’t get me wrong—there are amazing benefits to this job that money can’t begin to buy.  If you want to have the ongoing energy to stick with this demanding career, however, there are a few things that can make a real difference.  One of them is giving yourself permission to go “off-duty” at times.

For me, one of the lifesavers of homeschooling was the daily quiet zone we had after lunch.  Once the dirty dishes hit the sink, we would each go to our rooms to sit on our beds for an hour!  (You're dubious, right?  But your wrigglers are no wigglier than mine, and you are already training them to sit for meals and church and car rides.  We just took one more step.)  As long as the activity was quiet, each of us could do what we liked.  For some, it was the perfect time to build with Legos, for others, it was a treasured free reading time.  For me, I could rest, read, chat on the phone or contemplate new thoughts over a cup of coffee—ALL BY MYSELF.  If you can imagine lounging amidst the palm trees and water of an oasis after hours toiling in the sun-baked desert, you will understand how welcomed this daily break was for each of us.  

Go off dutyOnce a week, I had a date with my husband, while a friend baby-sat.  Because we had limited funds, it was always a cheap date. Sometimes we just walked and talked, other times we splurged on a bite of food, while discussing everything under the sun. It was vital time for us as a couple to catch each other up on our thoughts and ideas, and, since sharing about our respective jobs was a big part of what we needed to share, it also provided me with a sounding board for the difficulties I had encountered that week. These weekly breaks provided fresh perspective, renewing my zest for work (that 24/7 homeschool mom job!).

And, for a time, I was scheduling monthly friend time at a lovely English tea shop with another homeschooler.  What refreshment!  In that completely "off duty" time, we enjoyed the break, enjoyed the pampering, enjoyed the friendship. And, by the time we had laughed and cried and shared the daily challenges we were each facing, we had not only gained an understanding that our unique problems weren’t all that unusual, we were energized and excited to get back to our kids.

I know that nowadays, interaction with other homeschoolers is as close as your internet connection.  But the luxury of tea served in a china cup, with a precious friend to share it, and the mini-vacation aspect of a few hours away still makes it richer and more deeply refreshing than our daily face time with a computer screen.

Daily, weekly, monthly. . .taking time for restoration and renewal is time well spent.  It will pay huge dividends for you and your family, because the old saying happens to be true: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  

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Teaching Tip 1—You are ALL smart!

Teaching Tip 1—You are ALL smart!

Is it true? Are we all smart? The answer, believe it or not, is YES!

Does that surprise you? If your experience in school was to convince you of the exact opposite, you may want to keep reading. . .

Today begins a series of tutorials on my History Revealed curriculum. Element by element, phase by phase, we are going to drill down into the details.  So, if you are using (or thinking of trying) Ancient Civilizations and the Bible; Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries; or World Empires, World Missions, World Wars, this will be the place to ask questions and find answers.  

If you don’t qualify as a customer, but are increasingly weary of treading down a very tired education trail, you are welcome to join us in discovering what happens when you work with your students’ Learning Styles, their 8 Kinds of Smart (Multiple Intelligences), and their interests and passions. These dynamically transform the learning experience.  It’s true.  Kids can actually LOVE learning!

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The 5 senses bring history to life

Bringing history to life

My very first book in 1989 was all about bringing history to life. The premise was that American history could come to life—and be FUN—when a folk song and its history were connected to actual events. But there are lots of other fun, hands-on ways to play with history! You can learn ancient history, medieval history, modern history, ANY history through utilizing your five senses.

The 5 senses bring history to lifeHere are just a few "5 senses" suggestions to get you started:

Experience “living history” through planting a garden using heirloom seeds favored by Thomas Jefferson OR planting a dead fish underneath your corn seed, á la Squanto. Make a mouth-watering bite of the American frontier in a Laura Ingalls Wilder gingerbread, OR get a taste of Bible history with milk and honey. Create a cardboard medieval castle, OR fashion a Roman-arched bridge with sugar cubes. Let your puppets perform history from the other side of the couch, OR set the stage and costume your kids for their unique take on an event.

Touch, taste, see, hear, smell as much history as possible.

Then, to make it really stick, sing and dance, plant and eat, design and display, or write and read something fun of what has been learned.

Trust me on this one: they’re gonna love it!!

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With time and effort

Working with a horse

A few years ago, I was invited by visiting friends, who are horse-lovers, to attend a natural horsemanship clinic with them. They were thrilled that this traveling clinic was going to be so close to my home—because it was a lot closer for them to attend than from their home in Australia!! During one section of the clinic, we all sat watching in amazement as an instructor demonstrated the relationship she had developed with an "untrainable" horse. The two of them played together, performing beautiful and intricate maneuvers, while constantly reaffirming the special love, trust, and respect they had between them.

Two things struck me about this incredible relationship:

1) It took a LOT of time. The trainer, working little by little, day after day, unobserved by others, eventually developed the extraordinary trust and working relationship which we were seeing.

2) We were the passive audience. Very few of the thousands of the people entertained by this beautiful sight would be willing to invest the necessary effort to experience it for themselves.

 FewPeople-1

What a rich analogy this is for homeschoolers!

Have you noticed how much time you spend with your kids??  Of course you have. That's one of the inescapable facets of homeschooling. So, right from the get-go, you are already spending what is absolutely required to develop a relationship with your kids—hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks, months and months, years and years together.

And, you are working at it. You've probably heard someone say that they would never be able to homeschool because they couldn't stand being around their kids that much. It's sad, but, oh, so common.  You, on the other hand, are already miles down the road toward building relationships with your kids because you are investing the effort to figure out how to do this in real life. You keep learning, moment by moment, how to get along with each other. You keep discovering the nuances of how to teach them math facts while you learn important subjects like "laundry off the table and dinner on the table!"

You have chosen to take the time and effort to be "corralled" with your kids. . . And I, for one, want to take this moment to recognize the amazing progress you have already made, and enthusiastically say, "Well done!!"

Now that you recognize that you have made progress in leaps and bounds toward achieving a relationship with your kids, I have two quick suggestions (that take a lifetime to implement):

mini-pony working with trainer1) Laugh more. A lot more. Intentionally find ways to add humor into your daily life.  Read funny books out loud, practice funny jokes, play funny games, observe funny animals. You name it.  If it's funny (the good kind of funny—not making fun of somebody else), do it!

2) Enjoy your kids. Right now, just as they are. Those things that drive you crazy are actually the immature version of their adult giftings. (Can you imagine Mikhail Baryshnikov's parents trying to get him to sit down and be still? Or Barbara Walters' parents trying to get her to stop asking so many questions??)

Take the time. Savor the journey. Reap the healthy relationship with your kids. Believe me, THIS is the life!

And, just for your delight, here is a beautiful video of Parelli foals.

 

 

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The Adventure of Art

Art is Relational!

When it comes to the arts—and how to nurture your child’s inner artist—I have some opinions.   At one time, all three of my children were majoring in the arts in college: one studying classical ballet, one studying piano at a conservatory, and one studying theater.  Life happened, challenges came, and only one graduated with an arts degree. (The other two graduated in other fields.) However, the arts play a huge part in our family's culture.

So, how does this happen? How does this sort of arts-loving, beauty-making thing develop in kids?  Obviously, there are natural giftings and talents that come into play.  You already know that.  But beyond what is hard-wired into them, there are two suggestions I would make that can inspire and nurture your child in the arts.

The first is to recognize the wonderland of opportunities moms and dads have for exposing their children to greatness in art. 


When the land belonged to GodWhen the land belonged to God, by Charlie Russell

My husband taught me this when our kids were 9, 7, and 5.  He knew we would be driving through Helena, Montana, and was aware that this city boasted a number of Charlie Russell paintings.  To prepare our kids to really “get” this great American painter of the West, he went to the library and found a children’s book of Russell paintings.  As we traveled, my kids—especially seven-year-old Michael—pored over the pages.  When we actually arrived at the museum, I was stunned to see my elementary-aged son stand mesmerized before one of Russell’s paintings, “When the Land Belonged to God,” which depicts vast herds of American bison on the plains.  After many minutes of his absorbing the painting, I tentatively suggested that we leave.  Michael turned to me with shining eyes and said, “Mom, that’s MY painting!”  He was noticeably moved by the greatness of what we had seen.

So, think about it.  What can you see, hear, or watch in your local area—or on your upcoming summer vacation—that displays the beauty of a master painter, composer, dancer, or playwright?  If at all possible, prepare your children beforehand for what they will see, using books, CDs, or DVDs.  It will help your kids “own” the actual art as something uniquely special for them.

Second, consider your own approach to the arts. 

Nurture your child's Inner ArtistIf you want to nurture your child’s “inner artist,” how do you personally respond to art?  Whether or not you find that music, painting, dance, and theater touches your heart, you can still be supportive as you intentionally begin to appreciate the beauty, power and expressiveness of the creative arts.  Your children learn a lot from your responses.  If you are interested, chances are they will make a note of it.  If you are bored, they will pick up your cue.

Art is a very relational subject.  The way you expose your children to its greatness, and the way you respond yourself, will be the most significant ways you can help your children develop a love for the arts.

 

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