Diana's Homeschool Blog

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!

Should Learning Be Fun??

Should learning be fun? Many people scoff at that idea. . .after all, learning is WORK. And, as many have personally experienced, work is not fun. I have a different philosophy on that. . .And I'd love to share with you how learning can be both hard work AND fun!

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3 Tips for Breaking the Wall of Inertia

3 Tips for Breaking the Wall of Inertia

Is there a wall of inertia looming all around you right now? Sometimes that happens in the gray days of winter. . .When inertia takes hold, homeschooling is tedious.

Is there a solution—apart from gritting your teeth and waiting till spring? Absolutely! Here are 3 Tips for Breaking the Wall of Inertia:

      • Inspire
      • Discover
      • Play

First of all, Inspire. When facing a Wall of Inertia, or obstacles of any sort, read someone else’s story about how they overcame the odds, broke through the wall, and achieved their goals. Inspiration provides hope, which is the first step—it helps us to believe that it is possible to keep going. That is why we love stories of people like Joni Eareckson Tada and Corrie ten Boom, because they remind us that there is incredible blessing on the other side of our challenges. So, I want to encourage you to read or reread a story that will inspire you. I am currently rereading an old biography of Billy Graham by Stanley High.

3 Tips for Breaking the Wall of Inertia, Diana Waring BlogNext, Discover. Take time to ask yourself what specific factors are weighing you down, and then share that with your spouse or a wise friend. Discovery provides insight into our fears and worries, which is the second step—it brings those fears and worries into the light. Are you gripped with fears that you aren’t doing enough (even though you’re doing more than anyone you know)? Are you staying awake at night, worrying about the future for your kids? Are you convinced that you’re a terrible homeschool mom? Once you have exposed these hidden fears— sharing them with someone safe, who knows and loves you—you can bring them to the Lord in prayer (which is the best way to decisively deal with fears). Fear and worry are two of the most insidious destroyers of peace and joy, so don’t keep “entertaining” them. "Lies Homeschool Moms Believe" by Todd Wilson is VERY helpful.

Finally, Play. One of the best ways for beating the winter blues is to regularly laugh and have fun! Honestly, playing recharges your homeschool. Laughter wakes up the brain, a merry heart is like a medicine, and providing extra doses of fun for your kids is guaranteed to add energy to the day. So, take your planner right now and block out time for reading a funny book out loud, playing a game that makes your family laugh, and going outside to make snowmen (or sand castles). Playing will provide an energizing zest for both you and your children, making each day easier and, believe it or not, far more profitable when it comes to learning. "Hank the Cowdog" by John Erickson, read out loud, is hysterical!

You CAN do this! That Wall of Inertia is tumbling already.

And, remember, spring is coming!

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The Flaw in “Hurry Up & Rest!”

The Flaw in Hurry Up & Rest

Christmas is over. Whew! All the work and flurry ended a few days ago, and, hopefully, you weren’t so exhausted that you missed the celebration. You may be wondering if this is a time to get some rest. . . Hmmm.

School doesn’t start for another week. This in-between week, where one project is finished and the next hasn’t quite started, can be tricky. That’s what I want to talk about today. . .

As homeschoolers, we have taken on not only the enormous tasks of teaching AND parenting our kids, we’ve also taken on a 24/7 workload—or, at least, from first thing in the morning until late at night. Once you gear-up for the task, the pressure makes it hard to take a break. You’ve put on the mind of a homeschooling mom, so that means you’re trying to fit everything in by scheduling every moment of each day.

We know that this is a perfect week to relax, to have the leisure to play, to sit, to read, to sleep. . .But, it is also an empty week in the schedule, where we could get SO much done from our never ending to-do list!

What if Susie worked every day this week on her math problems and caught up?
What if Johnny took this week to write that paper he’s been avoiding?
What if I cleaned out all of my cupboards and closets every day this week?

It looks so good on paper. . .An empty void, waiting to be filled. There is that voice in your head saying that, if you work hard this week, your to-do list will be finished. And if you can just persevere through Thursday, you can all enjoy a nice, long rest on New Year’s Day.

But there’s this odd thing that happens when, deep down, we know that every other teacher on the planet is taking this week off. Though we may try to accomplish a lot, it will feel like we’re wading knee-deep in molasses. . .And the hurrier we go, the more we’ll bog down. “Susie, stop complaining and get the work done, and THEN you can play!”
“Johnny, hurry up and finish that paper, and THEN you can go outside!”

You can't rest and get your to-do list done at the same timeAnd you tell yourself, “Hurry up!! Finish those cupboards and closets and THEN you can rest!!”

What I’ve learned is that you can’t fool your heart. It knows that this is a week off—a week that you REALLY need. And you can’t rest and get your to-do list done at the same time.

So, my advice is to acknowledge to yourself and to the rest of the world that you are a legitimate teacher, and that this week is truly a break.

And, then, enjoy it. All of you, enjoy it to your hearts’ content. Let your kids enjoy the break in the ways THEY find delightful. Even more challenging than that, let yourself enjoy the break in the ways that YOU find delightful. Then when the legitimate start date in January rolls around, you’ll all be refreshed and ready.

You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make!

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Need more time for homeschooling?

Need more time?

Time. Don’t you wish there was more of it in your life? Time to accomplish more, rest more, read more, laugh more, play more? Especially when your life is filled to the brim with to-do’s? I have written about this before in Slow Down and Enjoy This Time, Intentional Living, and Give Yourself a Break.

But, when it comes to homeschooling our kids, how do we find more time? After all, they’re kids, not robots! They don’t just sit and absorb endless amounts of data. And they have this habit of going off on tangents, don’t they?

Poof! There goes the schedule. . .and your stress levels.

Stop and smell the rosesSo, what do we do? How do we find more time for learning? Well, I’m going to share a radical suggestion: Instead of pushing harder, stop and smell the roses. Surprisingly, this produces HUGE educational benefits.

Here’s a story to illustrate.

Years ago, as we were driving cross-country, my son saw on the map that we were not far from Galena, Illinois, home of President Ulysses S. Grant. This held a special fascination for Michael, because he had just recently learned that he shared a birthday with this famous man. Though we were under pressure to get to the next homeschool convention, we decided to drive the extra hour to Galena. After all, it’s not every day that a teenager wants to learn more about history!

Our Objective: Learn more about President Grant.

Truthfully, though, it grated on my nerves to leave the interstate for this slowly winding road. As time kept ticking, I became more and more anxious. . .until, finally, around one more curve, we arrived. And, it was literally breath-taking—gorgeous, stately, historic, a survivor from a different century.

At the local Tourist Bureau, we found someone who explained why this place looked so amazing. He said that, prior to the Civil War, Galena had been the site of lucrative lead mines, resulting in lots of wealthy people with lots of money for spectacular architecture. And, unlike most places in America, this mid-1800s architecture was not torn down to make room for new styles. When the city was unable to afford to dredge the river, business dried up and most folks moved away, abandoning their mansions. This was, essentially, an elegant 1800s city, frozen in time.

Remember our one objective? In taking a few extra—and incredibly fun—hours to visit Galena, we learned so much more than we had planned:

      • the geography of northwestern Illinois, its topography and river systems;
      • river-dredging on a tributary of the Mississippi;
      • river transport;
      • flood gates and river levees;
      • lead for military weaponry;
      • architectural styles popular among the wealthy in the early to mid-1800s;
      • economics of town planning, and of housebuilding;
      • U.S. Grant’s home (yes, we did get there!);
      • U.S. Grant’s presidency.

All that learning, and we had a fabulous adventure, too!

Learn more than one factAnd, that’s what slowing down and smelling the roses can do for you, when it comes to education. Your kids learn far more than one fact. With time to explore and discover, they come up with their own questions and find their own answers. They engage the material. They become self-motivated. Spending this extra time makes learning fascinating and memorable. And, amazingly, they will accomplish more, read more, laugh more, and play more—all while learning far more—than you would have thought possible. Go ahead, give it a try!

If you would like a curriculum to help you with this exploration and discovery, with engaging your students, and making learning both memorable and fascinating, here's a place to start:

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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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