Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Like it or not, as parents we are setting an example for our children every single day - right or wrong, better or worse.  Since becoming a mom, setting a good example is something that I've tried to do.  At times I've been more successful than at other times, but succeed or fail, I'm always an example.  Over the past several years it's really dawned on me how important the example we set for our children can be.  I had been being a lousy example, and I was seeing the fruit of that lousiness.  How could I ask our son to do what I was not willing to model for him?  I couldn't, plain and simple.  I then had my light bulb moment.

As a child I was never given any household responsibilities.  I didn't even have to make my bed.  We had a cleaning lady that came in twice a week, and on the days she wasn't there my mom would take care of things after we left for school.  So not only did I not have to do anything around the house, but since I was in school all day long I never saw anyone else doing it either.  It just magically got done!  How cool is that?

As an adult I've never been a "happy" housewife.  Somewhere deep down inside I felt that it wasn't my responsibility to take care of the house, and I'd get downright angry about it.  It took a while - a very long while - for me to figure out what was going on, but one day I finally understood.  Instead of waiting around for "someone" to take care of things, I needed to step up and be "someone" and take care of things myself.  That understanding has changed my attitude about lots of things, not just the housework.

Since my "aha!" moment I've noticed something else as well.  Our son's attitude has been improving.  He's always helped me around the house when I've asked for help, but now there is about 98% less hemming and hawing that comes along with the help.  He's even begun taking the initiative to do some things on his own.  And all of this has happened without any badgering from me.  It's been wonderful.

So, is there an area where you'd like your child to improve or a habit you'd like them to acquire?  Step back and see how that is being modeled to them.  Sometimes it can pinch a little to take a look at ourselves that way, but our kids are worth it.  Let them see that behavior in you and you just might be surprised at what happens.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Good Day Starts the Night Before

There are many things that go into successful homeschooling.  As I've mentioned before, routines are a very important part of that success whether it's routines for school, housework, or cooking.  Another very important routine is the bedtime routine.  This is not only important for your children, but for you, too.

I used to have a terrible time getting to sleep at night.  I'd stay up until whenever I was done with whatever I was doing and then try to get to sleep.  The next day I'd feel like, well, something the cat dragged in.  It was not a good thing.  Then I decided to get myself into a good bedtime routine.  At first it was a little difficult to exercise that self-discipline, but it's been well worth it.  Now, once I start that routine, my body starts to relax and my mind starts settling down (usually).  Where it used to take me forever to fall asleep, now I am able to fall asleep within a more normal period of time.  It really has been a blessing for me.

Bedtime routines are a wonderful gift we can give our children as well.  It will take some getting used to for everyone involved, but it will be worth the effort.  Baths, bedtime stories, and snuggling can all be part of your child's routine.  Once they become accustomed to it they will look forward to it and will be able to settle down quite nicely. 

Now, I know that not every child will take to this like a duck to water.  There are always exceptions and special circumstances.  But if simple routines can be introduced, I believe any child can eventually follow and benefit from them.  As with everything homeschool, make it a fun, enjoyable time for you and your family.  Everyone will have a better chance at getting a good night's sleep so your days can be better.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Choosing Curriculum

If you're going to be homeschooling this year, now is the time to look into curriculum (if you haven't yet decided what to use).  There is a seemingly endless choice of materials out there, each one vying for the homeschool family's attention - and dollars.  But how can you choose from all that is offered?  And what if you make the wrong decision?  First of all, don't get stressed or overwhelmed.  Here are a few tips to help you narrow your selection.

First of all you'll want to look at your budget.  A full year's curriculum can run anywhere from around $200 for a boxed set of worktexts to well over several thousand dollars for a private online learning experience.

Next you'll want to look at your children.  Are they very active, hands-on individuals, or are they more bookworm-ish? (As a hardcore bookworm myself I use that term with all respect and dignity.)  A very traditional curriculum requiring lots of sit down book work time might not be the right choice for an active child.  And a course that is highly hands on might not work out well for a child who soaks up their knowledge through reading.

Then you'll want to figure out how much planning and grading you want to do.  If you have one child planning and grading might not be an issue.  If you have several children it might get quite time-consuming.  Just remember that you are the one who knows your children, your family, and your budget best.

Once you've taken all of these things into consideration you'll be able to narrow your choices.  If you're new to the homeschooling game don't let the fear of buying the wrong curriculum freeze you in your tracks.  Flexibility is paramount in homeschooling and, once bought, any curriculum can be tailored to meet your children's needs.  Remember, homeschooling isn't about perfection, but about fostering a love of learning in your children.  We need to enjoy the journey and keep it fun.  That will build memories for you and  your children that will last a lifetime!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

It's Never Too Early

Well, it's Independence Day here in the United States, and that's got me thinking about the new school year.  It's never too early to start planning your school year.  I actually sat down and scheduled our first two months already.  I know that if I leave things to the last minute I get stressed, our son gets stressed, and well, it's just no good for anyone.  I guess that's really what helps homeschooling run smoothly - planning.  Well, planning and routines.

During this summer I've been trying to get myself into some good routines with the housework and meal planning, two areas that have always been challenging for me.  But now that our son will be starting high school (how did that get here so fast?), I knew that I needed to have my ducks in a row to give us a better chance for success this year.  A little planning and good routines can make days go much more smoothly and diffuse any stress that might try to show up and spoil things.  With only four more years of school to go, I want to enjoy every day with our son and not be scattered and worried about things that don't deserve that attention.  I'm feeling very good about how things are shaping up so far.

Now, don't let me fool you.  I know it sounds like I've got all my stuff together and everything run smooth as silk all the time.  Well, no.  But I have tried to say no to procrastination and get things on a better track.  That's another thing about homeschooling - our children aren't the only ones who learn.  We parents learn a thing or two along the way as well.  With that in mind, I'm very please to announce that my new book, The No Nonsense Guide to Homeschooling, is now available on Kindle and Nook!  It's packed with practical tips, ideas, and encouragement for those thinking about homeschooling, those who have decided to take the homeschooling plunge, and for anyone who might be interested in learning more about homeschooling.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I am very happy to announce the release of our first unit study - Green Eggs and Ham, a Springboard Unit Study for the Very Young.
Green Eggs and Ham, a Springboard Unit Study for the Very Young, is a unit study designed to nurture a love of learning in young children.  Following the story in Green Eggs and Ham, your child will learn about poetry, mammals, the water cycle, and much more.  Any parent can follow this easy to use unit study to help their children have fun while learning. 
The Green Eggs and Ham unit study is now available on both Nook and Kindle.  Click here to get it on Nook, and here to get it on Kindle.
Find out more about Springboard Unit Studies here!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Being a Tree of Life for Our Children

The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. - Proverbs 15:4

I was just posting to another of my blogs (Under The Shadow Of His Wing) and this verse really struck me.  I can't tell you how many time I've barked at our son, wanting nothing more that immediate obedience.  I don't do it too much any more as I've learned that this is completely unfruitful and counterproductive.  I had to wade through mountains of "expert" child rearing data and advice including that from "expert" Christian sources.  One of those sources even went so far as to say that parents need to break their children's spirits, punish them by spanking with wooden spoons, and citing Scriptural references to back up his point. (First of all, I am not citing who this was as I don't want to start a kerfuffel.  Second, any verse of Scripture can be pulled out of context to support any point of view which can be very dangerous.)

Over the years I have come to a place that is challenging at best.  It is a place where a parent is a hands-on, interactive parent who treats their child as a person, not a subordinate.  While a child does need to learn to be obedient and respectful to their parents, I don't believe that beating them into submission is the way to go.  Is is better for a child to obey out of fear or out of love and respect?  This place where I've come to has lots of long talks, with the parent listening and the child sharing his hopes, dreams, concerns, and fears.  It is a place where the parent sets aside him- or herself in order to nurture and encourage their child.  It's a lot of work and can be quite tiring at times, but it's well worth it.

Going back to Scripture for a moment, the image of a shepherd is used quite often.  The shepherd has a rod and staff.  The majority of Christians now-a-days take the rod and staff Scriptures as a license and mandate to use corporal punishment in their homes.  But a shepherd doesn't beat his sheep.  He guides and protects them, showing them where to go and making sure their needs are met.  He does use these instruments to protect his sheep from wild animals and will beat those animals, but he never beats his sheep.  Then if we look at the Messiah, our Shepherd, and His treatment of the disciples we have another beautiful picture of how we should treat our children.  He never beat or abused His disciples.  He lovingly and patiently taught and corrected them.  Yes, sometimes He got frustrated, but he never became abusive.  What better example could we have?

Yes, some days I still get snippy, but when I keep in mind that I'd rather be soothing and bring life to my child rather than crush his spirit it helps me get back on track.  I take a deep breath and keep on going.  Remember, homeschooling goes far beyond schooling.  We are nurturing and shaping our children and the way we speak has a big impact on them.  Let's be trees of life!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Helpful Resources

Last time I mentioned that several months ago I had to tailor our son's curriculum to accommodate his sensitivities.  Until fairly recently the thought of "flying by the seat of my pants" scared me no end.  But after I took a couple of days to collect my thoughts and settle it within myself that this would indeed be the very best for our son it didn't seem quite so daunting.  No, I didn't just pull an outline for his studies in science or history out of thin air.  I had some help!

"Home Learning Year by Year - How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School" by Rebecca Rupp is an excellent resource, even if you aren't designing your own curriculum.  Ms. Rupp has broken down each school year by subject.  Within those subjects she has listed what is normally required at that level along with resources for those topics. 

"The Educated Child" by William J. Bennett is another nice resource, although it's geared more towards families whose children attend public or private school and what the families should expect their child to be learning.

So, in plotting out our son's education I started with these two books.  I checked each year from first grade through seventh, making sure that we had covered what was suggested.  If there was something that we didn't cover or that I wanted to review with our son I placed a sticky flag in the book and kept on going.  Once all the flags were placed I grabbed a pencil and paper and started making a list for each subject.  Then I consolidated like topics within the subjects.  It really wasn't too bad at all

For history I took a little different approach.  Over the years we have studied American History and some world history, but it always felt disjointed to me.  How did it all fit together?  What cultures were living at the same time?  I wanted there to be a continuity to our son's study of history, so I decided we'd start at the beginning and work our way forward!  With the help of a fairly detailed civilization timeline put together from a Biblical perspective I was able to put together our son's history curriculum for the next few years, taking our time to really explore the cultures along the way.

Our local library plays a major role in our schooling as well.  I order books from them a few weeks in advance of when we'll need them.  In this way we have access to just about any topic we need without breaking the bank.  And our library has a wonderful inter-library loan system so if there is something that we need that they don't have, chances are one of the other libraries in the system will have it.  We are using a bought pre-algebra curriculum and for grammar we're using Daily Grams/Easy Grammar. 

Because we don't have text or workbooks to record our son's learning, we make lapbooks document his progress.  Lapbooks are a wonderful tool and lots of fun to put together.  I'll talk about those next time!