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Posts Tagged ‘homeschooling’

Photo credit: Aiyaz Kidwai

Photo credit: Aiyaz Kidwai

Did you know that the largest man-made explosion prior to the atomic bomb happened right here in Canada?

Our family’s been delving into Canadian history with Canada: A People’s History. I always thought that Canadian history was more boring than counting snowflakes, but homeschooling has given me a second chance to fall in love with learning about the history of our beautiful country.

I feel like it honours those who have gone before us to learn their stories and share them with our children.

Back to the explosion—it happened December 6, 1917 when two ships—one of them full of explosives—collided near Halifax. A pressure wave from the blast flattened the community of Richmond, and a Tsunami that went out from it completely destroyed a community of Mi’kmaq First Nations people.

 

To learn more about the Halifax explosion, check out this interactive website: cbc.ca/halifaxexplosion/

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Photo credit: Lusi

I always have a niggling dread as the end of summer approaches. I just don’t feel ready to launch back into being teacher to my kids. I wasn’t prepared when the first week of September swept upon us; I hadn’t made up lesson plans or even had a good look at this year’s curriculum.

Life was just that busy. Last year’s school schedule was still on the wall, though, and it gave us the framework we needed to start the school year. (Ominous drum roll.) We faced the first day with fierce determination. But it was an awesome day. It felt so right to be back in the books. The children got along better. The hours of our day flew along with incredible efficiency. (I didn’t feel like I should be doing housework!)

I love being teacher to my children, but I forget that sometime in early spring. By Easter we’re tired and cranky and need a break. And by September, as the days cool off and the leaves start to change colour, we’re ready for structure and intensive learning again—even if I don’t know it yet!

To all the homeschooling moms out there: I wish you passion for your journey. May you pass onto your children a love of learning that will last a lifetime. ❤

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 I love it when my older children teach the little ones. It’s a homeschool mom’s dream come true! My four-year-old son William was recently teaching his two-year-old brother how to count.

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William and Joel

“One,” said William. “Say one, Joel.”

“One,” echoed Joel.

They continued this way up to five, and then William—proud as a banty rooster—kept on counting. He skipped 13 (not an important number), counted perfectly to 29, and jumped to 50.

There might have been a time when I would have been concerned that Joel would learn mistakes from his brother, but I’ve come to appreciate how quickly children learn from each other. It’s my belief that someone who has recently learned something is actually a better teacher because of it. I realize that this directly contradicts a tenet of our society: “Only an expert shall dare to teach.”

I was recently doing some research for an article and I came across a telling statistic: on standardized achievement tests, homeschooled children outperformed public schooled children by an average of 37 percentile points. That’s a huge discrepancy. And the vast majority of the parents that are teaching these kids are not certified teachers. Obviously there is more to being a great teacher then being an “expert.”

Moving on to the alphabet

Moving on to the alphabet

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slamming experts; I really do think that a surgeon should have pass a number of criteria that demonstrates that he or she has sufficient knowledge and skill. And teachers in schools have my great respect and admiration. But I think that our society’s focus on experts has made most people feel inept when it comes to passing on their skills. Here are a few points that make my four-year-old son a great teacher.

Love. William loves his little brother. That is something that a teacher in a school setting can’t always have for her students. Love overcomes many shortcomings!

Passion. William loves to count. He’s proud of counting, and he passes on the passion to his little brother. When we learn from someone who is passionate about a topic, it is almost impossible to not get caught up in the excitement. Passion makes learning fun, and fun makes learning effortless.

He knows what it’s like to be a beginner. Because William has recently learned to count, he know the steps involved. He knows the frustrations and how to encourage along the way.

The ideal class size. One on one is a pretty perfect ratio. It allows the teacher to move along at the best possible pace: not so slowly that the student gets bored and not so fast that steps get missed.

I’m not worried about William passing on errors to his brother, because right now he’s teaching Joel to count to five, and he can do that very well. By the time Joel is ready to count past there, William will have remembered what number comes between 12 and 14. 🙂

You don’t need to be a certified expert to pass on a skill, just teach what you’re passionate about…teach what you love.

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It has been an exciting year for us as we’ve had opportunities to become involved with other homeschooling families. We did our first field trip in the spring and we’ve been able to attend a weekly homeschool skate this school year.

I’m still very independent in my homeschooling style and I’ve still chosen to register my children for schooling instead of distance enrolling them (which gives us considerably more freedom and considerably less funding!) but it has been a growing experience for all of us to be able to interact and grow with other families.

Yesterday, we went on our second field trip with a homeschooling group, a tour of both the Fire Hall and  the Ambulance Station. The tours together took 2 hours and were very informative. The kids loved going in a real fire truck and got a real kick out of constructing their cardboard ambulances. I’ve heard that if a child ever needs to go in an ambulance, that having a tour of this sort before hand can alleviate much of the fear of the unknown.

I’ve been reminded of the importance of making sure the children know their street name and house number, as many children don’t know this information off hand (guilty part here!) And apparently good parents 🙂 post this information on their fridges, so their children don’t have to try and remember under stress. Paramedics appreciate it if you kennel your dog before their arrival, and flashing your porch light on and off can help them find your house more quickly. (See, I was listening!)

Something that I found especially interesting was that a cell phone that is disabled can still contact 911. This creates a real problem for the 911 dispatchers, because they must try to pinpoint where the call originated using satellites and find out if the call was an emergency. So…. we were told to PLEASE remove the cell phone battery before giving a cell phone to a child as a toy, and do not put 911 as a speed dial number because of the risk of accidentally dialling it.

About 40 people (including parents) came for the tours which seemed like a pretty amazing turnout for such a small community. A big thank you to all who did the organizing and led the tours!

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the event. 🙂

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No doubt about it: being a homeschooling mom is hard work! What can make the job even harder is the fact that much of society is trivializing the role of mothering. Few people today value the position. Mothers are told that they are wasting their talents, suffocating their personalities, and forfeiting their futures. But is this really true?

I won’t try to speak for others, but in my own life the opposite is true. My talents are being used to bless the lives of the people that I love most: those of my husband, children, family and friends. My personality is tempered and realized fully as I have ample opportunities to die to myself and find true joy in living for others. Instead of forfeiting my future, I am investing in it, with the love poured out into the present. I am raising children intentionally, realizing that their lives will affect the lives of others for many years to come, and that they are in fact eternal.

Though I know all these things to be true, I still face times of doubt, fatigue and frustration. One thing that I find tremendously encouraging is the fact that I have dear friends who have homeschooled many years, whose children’s lives testify to the fact that homeschooling can have awesome results. I also try to read books, magazines and blogs that uphold the value of mothering and homeschooling. But I think the most important thing is the need for a vision.

It seems to me that most things that are really worth doing in this life are wrought with trials and difficulties, and the reason why people persevere is because of the belief that what they are doing is of eternal value and will have far-reaching consequences. The same holds true for raising and homeschooling children: knowing what my vision is can help me to see beyond and live above the daily trials and challenges I face. Having a vision can enable me to face the most difficult obstacles with joy, knowing that the outcome is more than worth the effort.

My vision is to raise up children who will be a light in the darkness, who will see the value of putting others first and caring for the needy. It is to raise children who have an unquenchable thirst for learning and discovery, and are equipped with the ability to find the answers that they seek. I want them to have the courage to stand for what is right and even to take risks when risks are called for. I want them to be diligent, purposeful and decisive. I want them to be wise in the face of adversity. And when it is time to send them out into the world, I hope that they will change it for the better as they interact with those around them, like ripples on a pond. That is my vision.

At times I marvel at the years of preparation needed to climb Mt. Everest: the training, the risk, the unbelievable hardships and trials and even suffering involved in reaching the goal. If others can overcome such obstacles to reach the top of a mountain, then, with God’s help, I can overcome the daily trials of raising children to impact the world for generations to come!

This post was originally a guest post on the Hip Homeschool Moms website.

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Many homeschoolers do their work year round. We’ve tried schooling through the summer with a few subjects, but when September arrived and we started everything again, the children were grumpy and there was no enthusiasm. We’ve found that taking a break really works best for our family, but review is important over the summer as well. I hate to think of them forgetting much of what was learned the previous year!

There are two requirements for summer learning in our home: it must be different from our regular schooling and it must be fun! The three things that we focus on are: reading, family learning games and computer learning games.

Reading

I read to our family every night. Being read to aloud helps to build comprehension and an appreciation for great literature. I try to read many books over the summer about the historical period that we will be studying the following year.

It is also important that the children read books on their own each day. I have them choose a read aloud book that they read for 8 min per day. I also have them choose another book for reading to themselves. New readers should choose a book that they can easily read by themselves, but I have the older children (grades 3 and up) find something that is quite challenging. The idea is to keep pushing their comprehension level forward.

They read 15 min a day from this book and then they must narrate it back to me, which is simply telling it back to me in their own words. This helps me to see that they are comprehending what they are reading, but it also helps them to read actively and attentively. Besides these two books I encourage them to read whatever they want on their own.

Family Learning Games

My children love it when we play games as a family. I try to play one game each day. We made a game that reviews the facts that we learned studying human anatomy last school year. I have another series of games that teaches and reviews math concepts from addition and subtraction through simplifying and multiplying fractions. Other games that we choose from are memory games and various trivia games.

Computer Learning Games

I have downloaded a few free games that help my children review their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. My children’s favourite is Timez Attack. It probably isn’t for everyone as it is a full blown video game that you move to the next level by attacking the enemy with the answer to multiplication or division questions. It systematically builds confidence and knowledge of the tables up to 12 x 12 and happens to be a lot fun too. The free version comes with 2 levels that can be used again and again and does cover all of the facts. If you want more variety, you can pay for the rest of the levels. They will be releasing an addition and subtraction version of the game later this year.

We also have a very basic facts review game that simply states the fact and then you choose the answer. It can be downloaded here.

There are many, many websites that have tons of great learning games. I haven’t explored them too much because we do pay for the amount of time we are on the internet. One website that I have found and that we do enjoy though is Sheppard Software.

And now for some giveaway fun…

Giveaway Day I have been planning to do a giveaway for a few months now and here it is! I won one recently and was so thrilled that I wanted to pass on the joy.

I will be giving away a $25 gift certificate for Amazon.com or Amazon.ca (your choice). Much of our curriculum is purchased from Amazon as their prices are quite good and I love the free shipping on orders over $25.

This giveaway is open to everyone and all you must do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Additional enteries may be obtained by:

-subscribing to my blog. And if you are already subscribed you receive two entries when you comment. (Let me know in your comment if you are a subscriber.)
-post about this giveaway on facebook. (Please mention in your comment.)
-tweet about this giveaway on twitter. (Let me know in your comment.)
-mention this giveaway on your blog. (And let me know you did in a comment!)

Each person can receive a total of 5 entries. The deadline in August 16th and the draw will be August 17th. Have fun and enjoy the rest of the summer!

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Sarah from Scott School recently interviewed me and posted it to her blog this morning. I have never been interviewed before and it was a whole lot of fun! You can read it here- Meet Rachel!

Believe it or not, Sarah lives in the same town as me, we both blog and homeschool and are even part of the same homeschooling group, and yet we’ve never met!

Sarah has a beautiful blog with oodles of great craft ideas and fun activities for children. She journals about homeschooling her little ones and life on their farm. Some of my favourites posts are:

Nature Study-Bracelet Tutorial
Why Homeschool?
Nature Journal Tutorial

Please take a few moments to visit Sarah’s blog and leave her a comment if you’ve been inspired by her creativity and joy.

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