How to Train for Independence

How to Train for IndependenceWhen I started out on the parenting journey over 2o years ago, I didn’t realize that my goal would be to train my children for independence. Now that my oldest is about to get married, I’m a little sad that I did such a good job.

Why Train for Independence?

As a young mother desiring my children to learn independence seemed like the natural thing to do. I couldn’t do everything for them all the time, so to keep my sanity I began to teach them. I really didn’t realize at first what I was doing. I was just trying to survive. So, I taught my 4 year old how to operate the microwave, wash dishes, and carry laundry to the laundry room.  It seemed to work well… she was able to do far above what I expected from her and actually thought it was great fun to work like mommy. Boy, I had stumbled onto something!

Fast forward a few years, and jump into our homeschool life of learning with 6 children. It was hard for me to be there every minute trying to teach in the traditional style. (I learned real quick that didn’t work with 5 different grade levels.)  I had to once again teach my children to be independent in their approach to learning. It worked great. Many years ago I began to print out a weekly check sheet for each of my children. On the check sheet were all the things that were required of them each day. They simply had to do it, and check it off. No need for mom to holler, or get frustrated (unless they just ignored the check sheet – which happens sometimes!)

Each child had an individual set of assignments that they completed each day. Still today they have online lessons, but complete their other work independently unless they have questions about the material or particular problems. Independence!!

We are now in the process of building a house. With six children, there are alot of things that they can help with. Again, we come to the foundational idea of teaching them “how” to do something which in turn will enable to them to work independently now and in the future.

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime. Chinese Proverb

How to Train for Independence

  1. Teach your child HOW to do the desired task.
  2. Expect more from them than you think they can do… and they’ll surprise you!
  3. Treat them with respect and encourage them to think and act independently.
  4. Make sure to give them plenty of love!!
Beauty and the Beast Learning Ideas

Beauty and the Beast Learning Resources

There has been a lot of hype about the Beauty and the Beast Movie, both for and against. Yet, with or without this new movie, the “Beauty and the Beast” story line is one that spans the ages. It’s an age old classic that has not lost it’s appeal… movie or not… it’s a good story and one that our kiddos enjoy! The original story was written in 1740 by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. It was rather lengthy, so it was abridged by Beaumont in 1756 and later by Andrew Lang in 1889. These latest versions most closely represents today’s story line.

An interesting twist is that some believe the story was inspired by a man in the 1500’s named Pedro Gonzalez. He had a condition called hypertrichosis which causes an unusual amount of facial hair to grow. He was brought to royal courts across Europe as a novelty and ended up marrying a Lady. Interestingly enough, many of his children also inherited his condition.

 

 

Up for a challenge? Read the original version translated to English. 

 

 

Ready to incorporate this into your regular learning? Try this Beauty and the Beast Writing Unit.

Beauty and the Beast Writing Unit

Looking for a writing prompt and spelling list to go with your book study? Homeschool Literature has a Beauty and the Beast Interactive Book Review with both of those.

Finally, if you love those fairy tale endings and want more books that are similar to Beauty and the Beast, here’s a great list of Beauty and the Beast Inspired Books you’ll love.

Beauty & the Beast Book List

 

10 Delicious Recipes for Ice Cream Sandwich Day!

OE4K Ice Cream Sandwich dayOh yeah… ice cream sandwiches… aren’t they amazing? I think they rank up there with apple pie as America’s summer time dessert. Perfect for an afternoon on the porch with friends. Not only do we love them as they are, but we love them created into even better desserts. Layers of ice cream sandwiches and cool whip or pudding. We love them store bought, and we love them home made… Oh my, so YES – I’m all for celebrating this holiday, you know – – just for the kids!

  1. The classic ice cream sandwich  – of course!
  2. The cookie ice cream sandwich
  3. Salted Brownie Sunday Bites
  4. Chocolate mint stacks
  5. Caramel Chocolate Chip
  6. Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches
  7. French Toast Ice Cream Sandwiches – more for the adults 🙂
  8. Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches
  9. Ice Cream Tacos (cuz really tacos are just sandwiches shaped differently!)
  10. Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches

So, today we are totally off topic. Although I could say these recipes are “online” and they sure are giving me an “education”… LOL! Which recipe will you pick?

5 Tips on Getting Kids to Help One Another

Do you have a striped shirt? I know I do… if not literally then figuratively. You know, the striped shirts worn by those men with the whistles… the ones that make the funny hand signals at the football game? Yeah… referees! I know after all of the arguments, disagreements, and even the “not so football” tackles that I’ve interrupted I’ve earned my stripes. Kids – especially siblings – are prone to… well, let’s just call it like it is… FIGHT. I don’t know about you, but it makes me a bit sad. I try to teach my kids how to peacefully negotiate, to talk through their anger, and to simply count to ten or say nothing at all. Yet, still… the ref shirt comes on…daily!

Well, on a homeschooling level I wish there were less arguments so that each of them could help each other more. I know there are times that I’ve taught a concept, but it hasn’t really gotten across. At those times, I think that the other children could probably “speak kid” better than I and help to get the concept across. How can we stop the fighting and get them helping one another?

I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve pulled together a few ways to help teach the foundational aspects needed to dwell peaceably and actually move to the positive aspect of helping one another.

  1. Respect – No I’m not reciting a line from an old song… it’s important to teach siblings to respect one another. If there are times that a disagreement has caused them to flat out disrespect one another, incorporate some measure of discipline. One method I like is to make them spend and entire day apart. No speaking, eating together, playing together, or even doing school together. Often, by the next day they really miss one another and will be ready to be respectful. Respect is a foundational idea behind helping one another.
  2. Don’t ignore bad behavior. Sure, I know the common opinion of our day. Ignore it – it’ll go away. I’ve been a teacher for many years, and I must admit that the concept of ignoring the behavior so that it will go away  – just doesn’t work.  Children learn in every instance. If they commit bad behavior and don’t receive their just rewards, that teaches them that the behavior really isn’t so bad. Instead of eliminating it, we inadvertently encourage more of it.
  3. Teach children how to work through anger and disagreement. This isn’t just something they face as children. This is a life skill and something that must be taught and encouraged for successful living. Help them identify the emotions that they are feeling, and encourage them to talk through it with one another. Helping them to understand the root cause of their emotion (anger, jealousy, irritation) will help them to understand how to work through it.
  4. Teach them to appreciate one another. This is definitely difficult. However, regularly pointing out things that each of your children do for you or each other and praising that good behavior is a step in the right direction. Ask them questions about their siblings such as, “Has your sister been helpful today?” or “Didn’t you enjoy it when sister helped you find your spelling book?”
  5. Help your children develop friendships with one another. Again, another foundation principle for teaching children how to be helpful. No one wants to help someone that they are enemies with. Developing friendships among your children isn’t impossible, but it requires us to be intentional. Often we’ll go around the dinner table and take turns saying something kind or positive about one another. Sometimes, I’ll give them a special responsibility they have to share. In this, encourage planning, preparing, and carrying out the task together. Extra credit if it’s something fun. I also like to encourage my kiddos to think about the future. Friends come and go, but family lasts a lifetime.

Getting Ready for Summer Learning

Cozumel, Mexico - Going here in January! Hope it is as beautiful as this picture suggests. :DI know, this post just might not be the most popular post – especially with the kiddos. Yet, this year I am realizing that I need my children to keep on working through the summer. There are alot of areas that I feel they are slack in and could use the extra work. We’ve talked about it this week, and I must admit I felt as if their stares would burn a hole right through me.

Though my children do school just about every single day, there are still some gaps that I have noticed. So, our goal this summer is to fill in the gaps and get ready for the next “official” grade.

My first grader has a bit of dyslexia. She is struggling with reading, and is getting pretty frustrated. I plan on keeping her working on basic phonics skills and small readers throughout the summer. We will use the first grade language arts lessons from T4L to help her review what she has already learned. I also love Bob books, and will use those in conjunction with a Disney princess early reader. (simply because she adores Disney princesses!)

My third grader does well with her writing and grammar… however, at our house this is the pivotal year for multiplication tables. She understands multiplication, but just doesn’t have the “facts” down. We will be working through those during the summer- getting them to the rote memory stage. I love using kids learning software along with other math learning games.

My seventh grade twins are both doing fairly well. They are currently writing their first research paper (translate- I’m losing my hair). They also have begun learning some basic algebra. So, during the summer we are going to continue using Time4Learning as a supplement and reviewing the spelling lessons through Spelling City’s customizable lists.

Homeschool Standardized Test Options

♥ TruthAs one of the fastest growing methods of education, options available for homeschoolers are growing accordingly. Over the years, the availability of different types of standardized tests has made testing our homeschool children much easier.

Getting Started with Standardized Testing

Standardized Test requirements by state is the first place you should look. It’s vital that you know and understand what your state requires from you as a homeschooler. Once you’ve determined if your state requires you to administer a standardized test to your children, you can move ahead with complying.

Which Standardized Test is Best

While there are many different tests available as options. There are a few that stand out simply because they are tried and true. A few of those are:

The Stanford 10 – We’ve used this test for many years. It’s a good option and one that can be given easily with a group of students. Typically this is a group administered test, however there are 3rd parties who allow for you to purchase this test from them and administer at home.

The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – This is a great test that I’ve used many times. This test cannot be administered by a parent, it requires that a professional with necessary qualifications administer the test. This test is great for students who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia. The proctor can account for those differences in each situation.

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills – another “oldy but goody”… I took this test as a young child. Though updated several times since then, this test is definitely a good example. This test is also typically group administered, but is available through many different 3rd party test providers.

The OLSAT and CogAT tests test School Ability Index or what used to be known as Intelligence Quotia or IQ.

Where’s a Good Place to Take the Test

While some people have begun to take their standardized tests online, I do prefer tests of this type to be done in person. However, ease of use makes the online option very desirable for most homeschoolers. You can usually take standardized tests with your local homeschool co-op. There are also 3rd party testing centers where you can test.

Which Tests Should We Take

There are two types of standardized tests that are most commonly given to school aged children. These consist of achievement tests, and ability tests (IQ). Achievement tests test what the child has been able to achieve or learn over the course of the year.   If you test every year, you don’t need to test IQ (School Ability Index-SAI) each year. The SAI tests a child’s innate ability to learn. Most often when taken together the tests compare the child’s abilities to what they are actually achieving… letting us as parents know if they are really applying themselves.  The School Ability Index doesn’t change dramatically over a year. I would suggest that the SAI test be given once every 3 years. In our state of GA, testing is only required once every 3 years. So, when we do test – I usually do a combo test. This year we will be using the Stanford10/OLSAT for the last time. The Stanford will be retiring after this year.

Should we take different tests for different grade Levels?

Whether your child is using elementary homeschool curriculum or high school you can use the same “brand” of test. In fact, I would suggest sticking with that brand of test as you school your children. It’s not a huge concern, but each test is a little different and staying with one style of test will help you compare their achievement more acurately.

Using Film Projects as Part of Homeschooling

Yes, I know this a rather random and maybe never considered subject. However, a recent article really made me sit up and take notice. Using film projects in your homeschool is a great learning tool. Video projects always captivate student’s attention… it involves their creativity and allows them to express themselves. Most student’s time during the day already contains a vast amount of electronic media… so why not harness that interest? Using film projects can also challenge  student’s in the area of language and expression… thus giving them the opportunity to realize how film can influence people. A film project isn’t limited to highschool students either – students using a third grade online curriculum could get involved as well!

Most mom teachers may be reluctant to incorporate this type of assignment into their homeschool simply because they aren’t familiar with filming. However, there are tons of great resources online that can help make this project a no brainer. However, to make the project a success the mom/teacher must create a rubric or lesson plan to give the project continuity and help the students with a goal. It’s great to give the students a standard for the quality of film and sound as well.

When introducing a film project it’s always great to start with a bit of instruction on basic filmmaking concepts. These should include the ideas of shot, take, montage, edit and export. Alfred Hitchcock once said that “the foundation of the art of making films” was the montage. Each of these means of expression gives the filmmaker the tools they need to create a successful film project.

Once you’ve taken the time to educate your students in the various aspects of film making its time to get started. Since, filming can be done on a multitude of devices there is a lot of flexibility with this project. First, request that your student use the best equipment that they have to shoot their film.

First your students should PLAN…

… then of course developing a STORY BOARD or SCRIPT is always important.

Then once your goal is formed and you know where your headed FILMING can begin…

however, your random shots even though following your story board must still be EDITED.

After editing, it’s time for the final review… and then you can submit your project. It’s always a good idea – even for homeschoolers to find a contest or some other to which you can submit your project. You can even upload to you tube and share on social media outlets! Be proud of your accomplishment and share it with the world!

Summer Field Trips = Learning

field tripsDon’t you just love the summer time? I sure do! I enjoy the freedom we have to do a little more “sight seeing.” In fact, each year we make it a goal that we see something new and interesting. Often, these events are historically based. This can really come in handy for the homeschool family. You see, you can always count days that are spent on field trips as learning days. To make the most of your experience try these three tips.

1)Prepare the kiddos in advance. If it is some pretty significant place you might want to take a little time before you visit to read some books about the history behind that location. You may also want to use it as a springboard for a unit study. You can have loads of fun creating free wordsearch puzzles and even unscramble games.

2) Take your time while you are there. If you see things that you studied about – be sure to point out their significance. Ask your kiddos questions, and allow them to take it all in at their own pace.

3) Finally, when you return home take a day to remember the amazing things that you saw. It’s always great to use these events as creative writing prompts. My kids always write profusely when we return from field trips.

The Rising Tide of ADD/ADHD

growth of ADDHas it ever seemed odd to you that ADD and ADHD counts have risen dramatically over the past two decades? Can anyone explain why? We have known about ADD and ADHD for a long time, yet it has now become an epidemic. I personally see an issue in two areas.

1) ADD/ADHD is intrinsically becoming more prevalent due to the increased use of television and video games. Children are used to a constant stream of high interest information flying at them, and then when a lone teacher begins a discourse about homeschool science on the topic of  tree frogs… their mind can’t focus on the lesson let alone the vocabulary word. There aren’t any flashing lights or unbelievable sound effects when the teacher begins her lesson. Learning is competing against an unbeatable foe.

2) In 1991, the wording was changed in a bill allowing ADD/ADHD disabilities to be included in the funding for “special education” services. It was after this change that the rise in ADD/ADHD cases became overwhelming. Could it really be? Is it possible that we are labeling children incorrectly in order to receive more funding for our schools? Sadly, I would say it’s definitely possible, for some reason money speaks louder than anything. In fact, here is the article brief about those changes.

While I understand that there are truly children with these debilitating disabilities, I also believe that there are frequent  misdiagnoses. It is my heart’s desire to see our schools focus more on the needs of the individual instead of the overall budget. Don’t throw more money at these kids, give them more time/help!

Tips for Teaching Middle School English

ThumbnailI have to admit English is not my best subject. I know it, but I often find it difficult to get the info across to others. My Middle Schoolers really struggle with many English grammar concepts and they need my help… which often leaves all of us a bit frustrated. Here’s where I call on my online resources… we all know if we can’t teach it there is always someone out there who can!

1) Learning vocabulary, syntax, and grammar can be alot easier with an online Middle School English resource. We love using Time4Learning, but have also used Learning Games for Kids to practice our parts of speech. My favorite part of speech? …definitely contractions!

2) We also often use spelling and vocabulary lists to help us practice the various parts of speech and what they mean.

3) Writing is a must – and yet… dreaded by my Middle Schoolers. They are working on a research paper currently, but when that is over I usually try to give them fun and interesting writing topics. One of our favorites for this is the “Rip the Page” series for young writers. There are some super fun ideas that really get my kiddos laughing and enjoying the writing process.

4) Use the good old “Schoolhouse Rock” videos to make learning those parts of speech a blast! (Now, that’s classic!)

5) Finally, the most practical way to learn English grammar, writing, and even reading comprehension is to do it! Practice, practice, practice!