Home Education

The Homeschool Pick Up Line

It never fails. There you are, shopping, or maybe enjoying a delicious Chik-fil-a lunch and she spots you from across the crowded room. Who is she? Oh, you know who she is. The woman who bobs and weaves her way through the crowd to get to you and asks “Do you homeschool?” “Is it that obvious?” You ask yourself as you try to finish chewing, and swallowing. then frantically wiping every delicious bite of chicken off of your face wishing you had a little more time to savor your “so not in the budget, but…” chicken sandwich before it gets cold. After all, haven’t you wolfed down enough cold meals in Mommy haste? You’ve done your time I lunch purgatory or lunch hell, (depending on the day). But you still manage a smile and reply sweetly, “Yes, I do. Do you?” You already know based on the fact that she is asking you and the “Call of the Wild” way that her children are hanging precariously from the playscape, that she does too. But you ask to be polite. And you swallow, although your hot sandwich is now a fading memory, knowing what is coming next…She squeals with delight and exclaims, “Me too!” You feign surprise as you longingly peer at your sandwich from the corner of your eye calculating the minutes until you are reunited. Then it happens. As predictably as a lioness pouncing on an unsuspecting wildebeest in one of those public television documentaries.
“So what curriculum do you use?” And so it begins.
Numbers are exchanged and play dates arranged. It is the beginning of a beautiful homeschool relationship and the end of your hot sandwich bliss as the two of you sit and swap stories of homeschool victories, defeats and everything in between.
It really is a beautiful thing, but can we homeschool moms PLEASE get some new pick up lines?! We’re supposed to be creative and out-of-the-box thinkers. Then why oh why do we ask the same questions every time we meet another HSM? Really? I ask too because I am always excited to meet other HSM’s and HSD’s. I love sharing stories and planning to meet up for play dates. But we have got to get some new pick up lines.

A Day in the Life

The Night Shift

Apparently I am working the night shift tonight. Or should I say this morning.
Not in my old rocking chair this time. I am nestled between my sweet husband and our two year old who is running a fever, and woke up to vomit on me, hug me and drift back off to sleep.
My husband woke once or twice during my hazmat containment phase to mutter “I love you.” And something else I couldn’t quite make out.
I am exhausted and now thinking about what my day might be like tomorrow in lieu of baby’s symptoms and my sleep deprivation.
But what comforts me is this: the Healer is here tonight and He doesn’t sleep or slumber. He works not only the night shift, but the life shift. He’s got me. He’s got my son.
And my dear husband may never know the impact of those three little words uttered between snores. But I will cherish them tonight, on the night watch, and years to come when our kiddos are gone and its just he and I again. I will remember how even in his sleep I am on his mind. A love like that is just the fuel I need to keep on going, to keep on working the night watch and handling hazmat containment.
And as for my precious son, I’m prepared to stand my ground and fight this virus with everything I’ve got.

Not on my watch virus, not on my watch.

” And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14 NKJV

Random Musings

32 Experiences Every Child Should Have

1. Camping-Not only does it help a psychologically and emotionally to spend time with nature, it teaches them to appreciate modern conveniences, and affords them a chance to unplug from media and electronic devices.

2. Kite Flying-Kite flying seems simple, but it expands their understanding of what is possible and it’s relaxing as well.

3. Playing in the mud-Playing in the mud is little kid therapy. Try not to discourage messy play. It nurtures creativity and helps development.

4. Having a pet-Learning to care for a pet teaches biology up close, and instills a sense of responsibility and can teach compassion. Also, when the pet dies, it is an opportunity to teach a child how to grieve properly.

5. Journaling- Journalling is great for kids because it creates a venue for the child to express themselves, record creative ideas and good memories to reflect back on. Also helps penmanship.

6. Never going to bed hungry-Food insecurity is a major cause of stress for children and can affect brain development.

7. Being looked in the eyes and told “I love you by someone who means it” every day.

9. Being read to and with every day-I might also add, creating a space just for them to read. Even if this is just a bin of books next to a beanbag chair. I know our lives are busy, but this simple activity strengthens relationships, develops of love for learning and helps a child’s ability to communicate and master language.

10. Traveling outside of the city/state/country they live in- This is important to help a child develop a balanced worldview and develop an understanding of other cultures and people groups.

11. Helping prepare a meal with loved ones- This helps teach responsibility, teamwork and life skills to be used later in life. It’s also a great opportunity for bonding.

12. Attending a funeral- This helps a child develop compassion, and learn how to grieve properly in a safe setting.

13. Attending a wedding/graduation/etc- This helps teach a child to celebrate the accomplishments of others.

14. Attending a live sporting event-This is just fun. It’s a good time bond and learn about the game first hand.

15. Attending a church service-This is important for a child to live a life anchored by faith and fed by fellowship with other children of faith.

16. Visiting a farm- This is also kid therapy, but more than that it helps children understand the human element behind the food in grocery stores.

17. Looking through a telescope into outer space- This is so important because it inspires children to know that there is so much more to the universe than what is contained within the walls of our homes and schools.

18. Building a fort out of anything- it’s just plain fun! It also encourages problem solving, creativity and much more.

19. A real life talk about stranger danger- The life saving information can protect their children (and teens) in a number of dangerous situations. There are definitely more today than ever. Whatever age they are have the talk with your child.

20. Permission to be who God made them to be-Try not to make them who you want them to be. Instead, help them discover who God made them to be and nurture that. Your love and support indirectly gives them permission to flourish.

21. Have something personalized by their parents in their bedroom. Not all licensed decor.- Your child is unique and at least one item in their room should reflect that you identify and celebrate their uniqueness.

22. Opportunities to enjoy age appropriate media regarding their specific interests- Children shouldn’t be burdened by adult issues in their down time. They should be able to enjoy magazines, books, websites, movies, music, etc on topics that interest them but doesn’t violate the level of innocence appropriate for their age.

23. People they love telling them no- While it’s awesome to always hear yes, sometimes we need to hear no. And sometimes that communicates love more than hearing yes.

24. Firm clearly established boundaries-Contrary to popular belief…children (yes, even teens) long for boundaries. They need boundaries. It creates a sense of safety, and helps them develop to their full potential. They will even respect you for it.

25. Having people in their life that think they are awesome just the way they are, but encourage them to reach higher.- It is obvious to a child when people don’t expect much from them. They rise or fall to meet the expectations of their parents. They need to feel accepted, loved and yes…challenged to be better.

26. Giving to the poor- Unfortunately so much of our culture feeds and reinforces selfishness. Giving to those less fortunate than ourselves, helps combat that.

27. Writing a thank you note-Also on the list of missing virtues of this generation is gratitude. This simple act can help cultivate that.

28. Holding the door for someone-This teaches a child to be considerate of others, teaches boys chivalry and is polite.

29. Giving up their seat for someone elderly or pregnant-Same as above

30. Learning to ride a bike-Just plain fun! It is great exercise, and also develops balance and coordination. Besides, it offers them a different form of transportation when they are older.

31. Learn to swim-Fun, exercise, relaxing…life saving!

32. Days when there is no schedule- Schedules are awesome. Routine helps children thrive, but sometimes our schedules are too aggressive and stressful to the kids. Relax! Let them relax too…once in a while.

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Random Musings

The Proverbial Elephant

I long sometimes to return to the pre Freudian days when not everything was a diagnosis or syndrome. People were individuals not always case studies. While the classification of symptoms and characteristics helps on a broad scale, help on a narrow scale seems to be non existent. People like Karyn Washington. ‘Wren Scott slipped through the cracks. It’s tragic and every loss counts…every life significant”. Yet there are many who aren’t on social media or famous, and they slip into the night unnoticed. (Yet they are never unnoticed to God). There is a bridge in Seattle that many people jump from to commit suicide. So many in fact that when drivers on their commute to work pass under it, they slow down to look for jumpers.

Most of what is done concerning mental illness involves sweeping symptoms under the rug due to the stigma.
We need the broad scale for research, study, and practical application. Yet that often involves “throwing medicine” at the problem. But what if we reserved prescriptions for those who really need it, took the focus off of making life easy, and people were taught how to manage and overcome symptoms.
Better yet, what if we put people on a path to wellness instead of a path to the pharmacy.

There is a video by TEDx Talks and it reiterates this point. The speaker, Stephen Ilardi describes depression as a disease of civilization. He presents a BOLD set of solutions with proven results.
Ted Talk

 

A Day in the Life

I Love What I Do…Most Days

I love what I do and I do what I love.
It’s a rare privilege to be able to utter those words and even more rare to mean it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days that are filled with excruciating inadequacy, and aching inability to produce the desired results. Yet there is something absolutely thrilling about the challenge.
So what do I do on those those days I’m exasperated and overwhelmed? I simply surrender, I give up.
I don’t mean quit or throw in the towel…I mean that I lay aside my type A-ness, my agenda, my modus operendum, and I embrace His. I embrace theirs.
God explains to us in a very loving way that His thoughts are higher than thoughts and His ways higher than our ways. He also urges us as a loving Father to trust in Him with all our heart and not to lean on or rely on our understanding. Instead we are to acknowledge Him in all our ways and He will direct our paths. The truth is…sometimes I am wise in my own eyes, I try to do it my way. That’s when I get overwhelmed and exasperated. Motherhood is tough stuff, The last thing we need to do is go it alone. We must go and surrender in prayer.
Not only do I embrace His way, I embrace theirs. I tear up the schedule (so to speak) and I build a fort under the dining room table. Or I may kick off my shoes and spend the afternoon in the backyard doing.whatever.they.want.to.do. I may even read the same book aloud eight consecutive times making the same sound effects each time.
Truth is, sometimes I can be like the The Very Busy Spider in Eric Carle’s book. We can entirely miss out on the Father’s call to worship, our husband’s call to simply be, and our children’s call to not do.
Slow down, Mama, slow down.
It’s a gift from God to do what we do and to love it. Don’t let your type A-ness get in the way of intimacy with those you love or in the way of enjoying what you do. Your effectiveness depends on it.

A Song for Parents

A Book for Parents

Home Education

A Glimpse

Phase 1: I restructured lesson plans to fit their passions.

For example, one child wants to be a pediatrician. We learn biology, Latin, business math, history of medicine, famous doctors, etc. She still has to learn everything else, but there is a focal point, not just casting a wide net and seeing what we catch.

Phase 2: Lots and lots of hands on activity.

One of my children wants to be an inventor. We supply magnatiles, erector sets, gears, tinker toys, etc. I decorate the area with blueprints, pictures of prototypes, and famous inventors. We read biographies and create timelines of when who invented what. We add episodes of Modern Marvels.
Then there are days I just supply raw materials and we see what they come up with. They enjoy the process of discovery, I enjoy cross curriculum teaching.

Phase 3: Don’t be afraid to get a little cray-c.

We did a unit lesson on eggs, when one of the kids was interested in farming. He still loves it. We learned the history, the science, the biology of eggs. We measured, we weighed, we tested the shells in various liquids. Then we went outside and played baseball substituting eggs for balls and a skillet for a bat. We call it egg splat now beat that. For extra fun, we hard boil some eggs and leave some raw.

Phase 4: Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

We use curriculum. We use Math U See, Mystery of History, Abeka, BJU reading, Horizons, and the list goes on. I couldn’t use just one because my children’s learning styles are different, I didn’t find any one of them to be all inclusive or completely comprehensive, and it bored me to tears. So, I mixed, matched, modified, ripped out, added in and tweaked. And then I did it again, and again and again. My kids are living and breathing and their education should be too. Furthermore, there are concepts they master quickly and some that require more methodical repetition while avoiding boredom and disinterest. It’s a fine line. I received a great suggestion from Byrdseed via newsletter email. He suggested instead of just regular spelling drills, try foreign words that we use in English. It was a big hit! One of my children loves all things French. So that was where we began.

Ooh la la!

Phase 5: Get off your Gluteus Maximus

We got moving. Into every lesson I incorporate movement. Whether its counting out jumping jacks or jumping rope to skip counting or going outside to hunt for dinosaur (turkey) bones that I hid in the back yard. We’ve even converted the dining room table into a makeshift ping pong table.
There are numerous studies relating increased physical activity to increased cognitive function.
Besides all of that we don’t want to raise sedentary kids.

Phase 6: Keep it Fun

I believe with all my heart that God never intended for life to be dull, routine and boring. Or for kids to be dredging through old, stale curriculum and forced into endless cycles of pointless rote memorization. Or for children to be be taught what to think instead of how to think. I definitely don’t believe that God intended for humanity to stop having fun just because children become adults.
There is this massive, beautiful, intense, complex world that He created. He wants us to explore it, discover it and to experience it. He wants us to live. Education should be full of life!

Phase 7: Get out!!

Go do, experience, breath, observe, test, collect, run, jump, spin and twirl.
There are no limits to the field trips you can do. Local farms, libraries, book stores, observatories, museums, fire stations, police departments, dentists offices, universities, airports, caves, Lego Land, cereal factories, chocolate factories, etc. Mt Rushmore, Washington DC, the Grand Conyon, you get the picture.

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Home Education

A Fresh Perspective

I’ve heard it said that February is “Rut Month” for homeschoolers…everyone wants to quit. I didn’t want to quit, although I did imagine myself running out of the front door flailing my arms wildly and screaming “Make it stop!”
No, I didn’t want to quit, but I did need a change.
I didn’t need all new curriculum. Been there, done that. I didn’t need more field trips, more computer time or more printables. Don’t get me wrong…printables are great, workbooks too. But I was mind-numbingly bored and one more printable on recycled paper was going to be enough to push me over the proverbial edge.
The kids were learning and having fun but there was something missing. Something was awry. Downright rotten in the state of Denmark.
It was me, I was bored. I’d lost my passion for teaching. So I did what I always do, found some good organic chocolate and went to God in prayer. Prayer changes everything. It changes us.
It’s sort of like Clark Kent going into the phone booth for me.
So out I emerge with new vigor, new energy and new excitement! What could be so exciting about homeschool?! A completely new approach.
For starters, we would no longer call the dining room that we repurposed, the homeschool room.

It would be forever etched in the annals of history as…(insert drumroll) The Innovation Station. That’s our educational goal- Innovation. To inspire creativity, abstract thinking and problem solving. To nurture a passion for independent lifelong learning and love for God. To raise a generation of autodidacts who discover new ways to solve old problems.
We filled the Innovation Station with passion centers. Yes it still contains, reading, writing, and arithmetic. But also clothing design, an inventor center, and a worm rescue center. It’s a small space so some centers are seasonal and we rotate. Bottom line is this, fill the space they live in with what they love. That passion will fuel their learning as well as your teaching. It’s emergent curriculum meets Montessori via vocational training. I don’t have a name for it yet…if you any suggestions leave it in the comments.

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Neurodiversity

The Next Step

Once you check the checklist and have them tested, what happens if you test and find out that your child is not gifted? So what?! A gifted person and average person have the exact same value to the Lord. One is not better than the other. Just different. Pat yourself on the back. You still have a child with potential.

However, if you test and the child or children do turn out to be gifted, you have your homework cut out for you. Research, study and search out all you can on how to meet the educational, emotional, social, etc needs of the child or children that you’ve chosen to educate at home.

Here is a good starting point: http://www.teachersfirst.com/gifted_strategies.cfm

After that develop an action plan. Re-evaluate your lesson plans in light of your new awareness of their educational needs. Have fun and stay creative!

Lastly, find a community of people with similar challenges to you and your family for support.

It can be a wonderful yet challenging journey educating the gifted child at home. Trust God to lead you and be patient.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes…” Prov 3:5-7

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

*Be careful of online schemes to charge you for “free” IQ tests.

Neurodiversity

First Things First

The first step should be to identify whether or not your child is gifted. Some parents struggle with this because they don’t want the child’s life to change or the child to somehow pack their tiny bags and go on an ego trip. The truth is, that even without the test results, their lives are already being affected.

The main benefits that I ave found from testing and proper placement is that
1) the child no longer feels as though there is something wrong with them. 2) The teacher or caregiver can now be pointed in the right direction to best help the child be guided through the learning process.

Prior to testing, check the checklist.
Here are some links to get started.

Could Your Child Be Gifted

I found this one the most helpful:
Identifying Gifted Children

And here’s another:
Characteristics of Gifted Children

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Neurodiversity

The Angst

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” -Albert Einstein

I’ve dreaded writing this post for many reasons. One of which is that regarding the topic of intelligence I find it to be open ended and worthy of further research. Secondly, it forces me to deal with my own childhood issues. Thirdly, I would have to admit that my child/children are gifted. Lastly, if in fact they are, I’d have to come up with answers to the difficult question…now what?

So often parents lay awake at night and dream about having and raising a gifted child. Not me. I know what it means. I know the isolation that the child and parents can feel. I know the frustration the teachers teaching them can feel. I know the ridicule that can be endured living in a culture that idolizes ignorance. (Dumb and Dumber and it’s sequel, and viral videos of self inflicted injuries)
But don’t break out the Kleenex just yet. If I have learned anything I’ve learned this: it’s neither better or worse to be gifted or raise gifted children. It’s not cause for celebration nor is it cause for mourning. It’s simply a condition in life to which one must adapt.
The problem is however, that it is not always easy to tell if a child is gifted. They often are perceived as difficult, problematic, high maintenance anarchists who resist authority, in varying degrees. Not only that, but people who are not gifted in the traditional sense can be talented, hard working and determined, and achieve the same results as (and in some cases better) than the gifted person. In fact, there are many gifted people in life who end up utter failures or at least falling short of what they could have been.
Why? Because of simple misunderstanding.

There are traits common to the gifted, that without proper understanding, can seem more like a burden than a gift. Take, multipotentiality, for example. Or you could say, “good at too many things.” On the surface, it doesn’t appear to be a problem, yet it can be. Many people select a career based on their strengths and abilities and their interests follow. Now imagine standing before 12 doors and being told you must choose one. The average person faces these same doors, but only one or two may even open. With multipotentiality, 10 to 12 doors may be open and in a conventional education setting, you are told to pick one. Yet in picking one, you are saying no to 9 to 11 other doors. Furthermore, any door you say yes to will not lead to complete satisfaction because all of the strengths and abilities that opened the other doors will not be used. This dissatisfaction can lead to “bouncing” around from endeavor to endeavor, because we still erroneously assume that only one choice can be made.
Now assume that there actually exists the potential for a thirteenth door. One that utilizes all of the gifts and abilities and interests of the gifted child or adult. The only stipulation is that you have to create it for yourself.
The gifted child will never be satisfied stuck behind a desk, in a classroom surrounded by tasks that present no challenge, or within a class in which there are no opportunities for discovery, exploration or synthesis of information aquired. Moreover, the gifted adult will never be satisfied in a cubicle, office or traditional 9-5. The needs of the gifted don’t change as we age…we just learn to adapt our behavior to conform to societal norms.

Many professional educators will admit that having a gifted student or a special needs students requires the same patience and additional attention diverted from the main group.

Traditional ways of educating the child don’t work for gifted children. ( I would argue that traditional ways of educating the child don’t work for all children-Children are diverse and so are learning styles). It won’t work at home anymore than it will work in a more conventional setting.

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