The Power of Praise

In my days as a private school administrator, I cannot guess how many times I heard parents tell me that their child was gifted and they thought… once enrolled, the child would simply need to be advanced a grade. It is funny, but most of those children were just good, healthy, “normal”, yet wonderful children. However, in the eyes of those parents they were so much more.
It is only natural for parents to feel that their precious little one is a “child progeny.” I am personally thrilled when parents think their children are special (in a healthy way, of course). There are so many children who live life with no encouragement or praise from their parents. Parents who cherish their children and give them healthy praise are rare, and definitely give their children an edge by doing so. Many research studies support the fact that children who are encouraged are more confident and determined than other children who are not encouraged or praised.
Yet, praising children is more than just a pat on the back and the obligatory “Nice job!” Many child psychologists say we need to praise our children, but if it isn’t SPECIFIC praise then it may be harmful. That’s interesting isn’t it? So, praise and encourage your children, but identify the specific behavior that they are doing so well. It is the effort that matters most – not the innate gifts that we have such as intelligence, strength, or beauty. Isn’t it true for all of us, “It isn’t what we are given that matters, but what we do with what we have been given.” Give it a try – praise your children for the effort that they put forth, a good attitude that they displayed, or even good personal discipline that they exemplified, and that will encourage them to keep at it.
But wait – can there be too much of a good thing? These same psychologists seem to think so. I guess that would compare to chocolate… I love chocolate and could (probably) eat it all day long. Yet a complete diet of chocolate is not good for me. In the same sense praising a child too much can lead to serious problems. Research has shown that children who were excessively praised were less confident and less determined to face difficult challenges.
In our personal lives we are often very busy – yet we try to be as involved in our children’s lives and education as possible. This moment by moment influence is truly one of the core reasons why we homeschool. Yet, in the midst of all of that, it is common to lose sight of the “big picture.” Whether they are doing handwiriting, spelling, or even their online schoolwork there are always opportunites to encourage them, especially in areas that they have had struggles!
This little study into praise has made me more determined  (and I encourage you also) to be a proactive parent and to foster admirable qualities in my chidren. I plan on doing this by first, praising them and encouraging them; second, being there for them; third, spending quality time with them; and finally, by letting them know just how special they are to me!

This post was reposted here from my personal family blog, faith and a full house.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations for Kids

I know celebrating the New Year isn’t always a kid friendly situation. As a parent of six, I’m always looking for kid-friendly options to ringing in the New Year. At our house we definitely feel that the holiday is best when we celebrate it together. We don’t particularly enjoy leaving the kids out of the fun – memory making!

In the days leading up to the holiday we use holiday related themes in our homeschool. I love incorporating history and background information during this time along with monthly holiday lists, it lets the kids understand more of why we celebrate various holidays and where the holiday traditions came from. We also love to use the New Year as a time to refocus on our education and to learn new things in the New Year.

My crowd loves to stay up late, so the hour has never really been an issue for us. Yet, other parents and children really can’t do the late hour… so let’s get started with #1…

1) Have a New Year’s Eve… noon party or celebrate New Year’s in another part of the world. Depending on where you live, this could get the kiddos in bed at a decent time!

2) Have pre party craft time – and make New Year’s Noise Makers. What kid or grown up for that matter doesn’t enjoy making NOISE!!??

Learning Creating Living: New Years Noise Makers  Ideas for children!  These sophisticated noise makers are fun to make, too, especially by older kids.

3) Plan for games or other activities every thirty minutes with these super fun lunch sacks filled with everything you need for that particular game. With the time attached to the front… it’s so easy. Visit the Coake family to see what else they do on NYE! Or check out the other version of the same idea and get free printables from the Idea Room.

Fun idea for a Family New Year   new-years-eve-game

4) Have a New Year’s Eve balloon drop. Then use the balloons to play another fun game! Or add a twist and fill the balloons with confetti (use a funnel)! The kids can then pop the balloons and confetti will fly! (That is if you don’t mind a good bit of clean up!)

new years I have done this with fish net from dollar tree and it works! Lots of blowing up, so use an air compressor  Confetti Filled Balloons, Black and Gold, Confetti Balloons, 1st Birthday, Photo Prop, Bridal Shower, Baby Shower, New Years Eve, Wedding on Etsy, Sold

5) What party is complete without party hats? Decorate store bought hats or make your own with these amazing free printables!

Confetti New Years Eve Party Ideasnew years eve party hat printables

6) It wouldn’t be the best party of the year without a photo booth! There are lots of great ways to put this together easily… you can order photo booth background from stores like Oriental Trading… tape metallic shapes on the wall, or use wrapping paper and photo booth props! What’s even better… these props are free printables from iheart naptime!

printable photo props   

7) Of course, there has to be games! Try this New Year’s Eve Bingo printable from Capturing Joy or this one from Crazy Little Projects.

Free Printable Christmas Bingo Cards  New Years Eve Bingo Game Printable, the perfect way to ring in the new year!

or this old faithful – with a New Year’s Twist..

have dancefloor with spots in these patterns or hanging dots and this as prop décor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

or make your own NY resolution jar. Have cards available for each guest to write on and put in the jar. Put a twist on your typical resolutions, and make it a “Charitable” resolution. Each person writes down a way that they will help out a local charity or community resource. Sometimes our resolutions are better kept when we’ve actually written them somewhere.

New Year's Eve Party Game with Printable Cards and Jar DIY from Rosy Glasses.

8) Create a New Year Time Capsule. This is a great activity – and Pretty Providence has even give us a free printable to get the kids going…

2014 Time Capsule for Kids! Such a sweet and EASY way to freeze a little memory of your littles in time each year! I love how it's small and easy to store too!

9) Have the best of food…  with Tuxedos and Pearls… and sparkling cotton candy (made with sparking selzter water and cotton candy- def. kid proof!)

50 Amazing New Years Ideas   Sparkling Cotton Candy Drink | perrier and cotton candy | magic cotton candy drink | try with champagne or sprite | New Year's Eve ideas for kids

and finger foods of all kinds!

10) Don’t forget to decorate! I love using old frames that I’ve spray painted and then adding a new “inspirational” picture every month or so… here’s a great free printable from the 36th Avenue to help you decorate for NYE!

   DIY Happy New Year Garland

Great List of Amazing Homeschool Organization Resources

plannerYes, one of my big hangups is definitely organization. I LOVE.LOVE to be organized and to have a clean house. Do I always get what I love? No. Way.

With six kiddos I’m happy if I get clean and organized on occasion – or at least one or the other… some is better than nothing!

So, with our large homeschooling load I love looking for online freebies that can help me get myself and my students organized. It’s even a better if the organizational tool is amazingly cute!! So, below you will find my list of some of my all time favorites that have been a huge help to my homeschool organization.

1) Planners are amazing – I know everyone is always talking about planners. I’ve even recently seen an online site charging $15 just for a personalized binder. Wow! I like to use the app “Stencil” to create some pretty amazing personalized graphics. I can send these to my computer and then enlarge and print – binder size. AND the cute factor is through the roof.  A graphic design program like “Canva” would also work well for that.

For those of you who work daily with your computer – you need to check out the online DAYVIEWER at http://www.dayviewer.com

For those of you that prefer the written word – here are several really CUTE printable planners for you.

Printable Planner from Peaceful Mom

A Homeschool Organizational Link Up Party – woohoo!

One of my favorite – Tina’s 7 step Planner  CUTE!!

2) General homeschool planning

Great ideas and printables to organize your homeschool Using Evernote

Organizing the Unorganized Learner

Homeschool Scheduling can help organize your homeschool and give you sanity!

High School Transcript template

Other downloadable templates to help you ROLL!

desk3) Homeschool Room Organization

Using the drawer system changed our day! – I have a craft drawer caddy for each child and each of their course along with requirements are in each drawer. They simply move through the drawers in the course of the day. No more asking mom – “What’s next?”

My post on the “homeschool makeover”

Using Pinterest to Homeschool

Houzz homeschool rooms – have you ever visited there? Oh. my. word. Some of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen…

This list is by far not exhaustive, but it’s some of my go to resources to get my homeschool in shape.

 

Carnival of Homeschool – The Ages and Stages Edition

Homeschooling Elementary

These are the magic years…everything is new and exciting. Making the most of creativity and firsts… it’s an amazing part of life that is the foundation for lifelong learning.

Introducing our youngest children to learning in a way that is fun and exciting gives them a beginning we will never regret. With that said, let’s join Monique over at Living Life and Learning to get 5 Days of Teaching Toddlers and Preschoolers.

The Journey and Destination blog shares that it’s best to start homeschooling our children from the beginning. Her post about Large Family Homeschooling really points out the benefits.

Adventure Hollow lets us see just how much fun a typical home schooling day can be. In her post Back to School Smarty Pants she shares how much fun their first day of school was for them.

Life With Tourette’s is a post that exposes us to what it must be like to find out your child has a disability.

Why Homeschool leaves us with another great post for Elementary age homeschoolers. The post entitled Public School Would have Ruined Another Kid is encouragement to stick with what you value.

Homeschooling Middle School

This level of homeschooling has it’s own individual characteristics and definitely challenges. Middle School is the time when your child is changing and growing into the adult they will one day become. Teaching character, having fun, and beginning in depth study are all just part of the Middle School process.

My Own Mind shares how she educates her Middle School Son (13) using creative and alternative methods. Check out her post entitled Live Today: Inhabit this Moment.

At Home & School gives us an encouraging post for when we encounter the negativity of non-homeschoolers. Her post 9 Ways to Defend Homeschooling without Joining a Homeschool Organization has a lot of great ideas!

In this post post entitled, But… I HOMESCHOOLED You! Kelly talks about the struggles associated with a homeschooled child that isn’t making the right decisions in life. As we reach the Middle School years with our children this becomes more of a reality.

Online Education for Kids gives us some great ideas on how to teach Middle School Language Arts. The post, Tips for Teaching Middle School English is a can’t miss!

Homeschooling HIgh School

These years are often by far the most challenging for homeschool parents. They require us to dig deeper. Finding ways to inspire and encourage our young adults to figure out how they want to prepare for the future is one of the largest challenges. Couple that with keeping detailed transcripts and finding courses that match their career needs.

Let’s start this off right with a post from Letter’s From Nebby. School Plans 2014-15: The High Schooler shares with us just what Nebby and her homeschooling family plan to do this year for High School.

Laura Grace Weldon shares with us an amazing post. Successful Teen Homeschooling: Two Vital Factors lets us have a peek at what an experienced homeschool parent has done to educate her teenagers.

Dewey’s Tree House is back with another amazing thought provoking post. In When Just Playing Around is Not Enough we find out that math manipulative use doesn’t always “add up!” (Dewey’s pun…)

Here’s a great idea for your high school science course! Electric Conductive Paint Projects and Ideas gives us an inspiring post on how to use paint that conducts electricity.

Not trying to be self serving, but I feel like this article could be helpful to someone who is trying to graduate their first homeschooler! In the momSCHOOL article Tips for Graduating Your High Schooler you can find practical points that we followed in order to prepare our daughter  graduation and for college.

Here is an article that really gives you the “insider track.” You’ll find curriculum guides with free resources for creating your very own highschool homeschool courses for free. Don’t miss the Let’s Homeschool Highschool Curriculum Guides.


I’d like to thank each of you that submitted a post to this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling. I really enjoyed reading all of the amazing homeschool insight in each article. Don’t miss the next carnival you can find out where it will be hosted at Why Homeschool. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Summer Literature

Summer Literature

Summer Literature – Big Adventure – Small Investment

Yes, most of us just don’t have the budget to see amazing sights and have the dream vacation that we would love. So, this summer instead of just being dissapointed about not have that perfect vacation… take your own “book-cation!” A vacation with a book. Sure, you can travel all over the world – even the universe if you want to, have amazing adventures, and even have a little romance.

Summer is a great time to catch up on that reading that you have been putting off all year. Take a few days and just block them out… set them aside… and read!

Not sure what to read? Check out all the great online book lists that are age specific.

1) Homeschool Literature has an awesome site about all things involving homeschool and literature… you can even join their online book club!

2) Check out these great lists of books suitable for various ages.

3) I have the book Read for the Heart, and use it for reading suggestions for my children.

4) Go to your library and get a stack!

Tip of the Week: Writing Homeschool Lesson Plans

homeschool resource

Don’t you just love freebies? I sure do – that’s why I’m offering a freebie for each of you this week. In addition to an article about writing lesson plans, I thought I’d throw in a lesson plan template. There’s nothing more fun than being able to do a somewhat tedious task on a beautiful piece of paper. But first, let’s talk lesson plans.

I’m sure that most of you veteran homeschoolers have a tried and true method of creating your lesson plans for the various studies that you do. I have to admit that I do as well. If we are going to go rogue and create our own unit study, I need to create a lesson plan that allows me to incorporate goals and objectives and enable our learning to be right on target. There’s no better way to do that than by using a basic lesson plan. Here’s my take on this (just fyi… I learned this method from my Graduate School professor!)

1) Think about the overall goal that you would like to accomplish with your unit study. Write this out in sentence format. This will be rather broad!

2) Decide how long this study will be. Once you determine the length – write a more precise goal for what you wish to learn each week.

3) Take each weekly goal and make a daily objective that supports that goal.

4) Now is where the lesson plan comes in. You see you really can’t plan a lesson until you clearly know what your goals are. I like to follow what I call the GOMMA method. I use this acrostic to help me focus on the big goal, the daily goal, the method of teaching this lesson, the materials that I will need to gather in order to teach the lesson, and the assessment that I will use to determine if the students understood the lesson.

Lesson plan

 

5) Keep in mind that the assessment does not need to be a test. This can be an informal or formal assessment and can consist of a project, a worksheet, a discussion time, or even a test or quiz. Whatever you believe is appropriate on a daily basis to determine that student learning took place.

So, without further adieu – here is your FREE downloadable and printable lesson plan template.

GOMMA graphic lesson plan

 

Make Homeschool Science More Fun Than Play!

scienctific method printable

At our house, the kids are always up for a little playtime.  I’m always amazed at how much they learn even while they are playing. With that in mind, it has been my goal over the years to find ways to teach the kids while having a lot of fun. It really isn’t that difficult, and it give amazing results. I’ve noticed that when my kids are doing a learning experience that is hugely fun, they REMEMBER all of it. Here’s a few of my favorite ways to make Homeschool Science more fun than playing!

1) Make sure that your homeschool science curriculum is one that can easily lend itself to fun experiments and hands on learning. We’ve used a couple over the years and the two that really stand out to me is the Apologia science series, and Science4Us. Apologia has alot of accompanying experiments and activities that can be so much fun, while Science4Us is an online based program they have amazing science songs and even an online log/journal.

2) Keep it fresh and stay ahead of the game. Yes, it does take a bit of forethought to engage your kids in fun elementary homeschool science. However, this forethought is so worth it in the end. If you can organize your science time each week to include at least one hands on project that you spend one day to initiate and the rest of the week to review… your kids will enjoy science so much! For example, we are studying birds for science this semester. We are using the Apologia science text Flying Creatures. We created a bird watching journal and decorated it with every bird on the first day. Then for the rest of the week/semester we are watching for birds in our yard and using bird watching guides. We go on walks and try to find new birds each time.

3) Pass on an excitement for science by being truly excited yourself!! Your kids can see right through you. If you  hate science and hate doing science with them, they will know! Even if we don’t really love science as parents, finding super fun science experiments to do with your children can be a TON of fun!! It’s not the rote memory of facts or the bland reading of textbooks – it can be making slime or experimenting with which item freezes the quickest. It’s investigating off the page.

4) Don’t use boring worksheets – I know – I know… some kids just love worksheets. I get that – I’m one of those strange people. Yet, you can make it exciting by using or making out of the box and off the page printables. Try this free download of a  scientific method printable that I made.

5) Not sure how to teach the information/science behind the experiment or project that you had a blast doing? That’s easy to fix… you can google the idea, read it to your kids out of a science book, watch a youtube science video, or find a website with loads of science  information.

Get the FREE scientific method printable here!

Don’t forget to check out our other articles on science – Simple Tips for Teaching Science

3 Homeschool Tips for Vocabulary Learning

vocabulary learningSure, I know learning vocabulary is almost like a tradition in America. We’ve been writing our spelling and vocabulary words for decades. We’ve also been finding those science and history bold faced terms that sound like Greek, and trying to look them up. Vocabulary is everywhere… it’s in our math, our language arts, our science, our history, even in art and music. So, are we missing it by requiring students to mundanely write out vocabulary definitions that are longer than my arm? Can it be done another way?

For the most part vocabulary instruction in America has been based on a written or oral learning process. Yet, we know that learning vocabulary works best when the new words are connected to old meanings. That simply means that the new knowledge is taught via connections to the knowledge the student has already (aka schemata.) These connections to meaning are like routes on a map, and they enable understanding.  Proverbs 14:6 says, “…knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.” It is the connections that make the understanding, and it is these connections in learning that I have based my teaching methods on for over 20 years. If you want a child to learn something – connect it to what he already knows!

Secondly, learning is easy when we can see the process. Just like doubting Thomas in the Bible. He didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he saw His wounds and touched them. Who knows… maybe Thomas was a visual/tactile learner and just really couldn’t “get it” without seeing and touching. so many children are just like that. Allow them to use more than just their ears, and they have understanding for life.

Third, if we can get the student to apply this knowledge or internalize it through use they will be able to solidify it in their thinking. We’ve heard so many times, if we do something more than 14 times it becomes a habit. Similiar is true here, if the student can use the vocabulary word (or other new knowledge) in a real life situation it begins to become part of his/her daily life.

Several popular vocabulary instruction strategies that incorporate these three key ideas include:

1) Pre teaching words prior to reading

2) Using the context of words within a story to understand their meaning.

3) Word walls

4 ) Shades of meaning – using paint cards with hues of a color – give students words that are varying intensities of the same idea. The student organizes them according to what they believe is the most intense (darker hue) to the least intense (lighter hue).

5)Root word analysis – use picture cards of the root word – and then add prefix and suffixes.

6)Vocabulary Bingo

7) Charades with vocabulary words

8) Synonym lists for vocabulary words – finding synonyms that they already know is enabling them to make connections!

Check out my other article on 5 Ways to Build Vocabulary

5 Ways to Build Your Vocabulary

build your vocabularyEveryone knows that the fundamental skill of learning is the ability to read and comprehend. Along with that is the concept of vocabulary building. When read and learn new words, our knowledge and skills increase. All this by simply understanding more vocabulary. To top it off… this learning shouldn’t stop when you graduate from high school or even college. Sure, even us “adults” need to continue to build our vocabulary. As a dear friend of mine said recently, “Learning new things keeps my brain young!” This is definitely the case with vocabulary skill building. Here are 5 tips to help you learn and keep learning throughout life!

1) Get into the habit of looking up any words that you come across that you don’t understand. If you do this every time – you will assimilate hundreds of new words each year!

2) Make a point to use those new words in a sentence the day that you learn about them. This immediately puts the words into your schema and gives you a reference for future use. Put those new words on sticky notes around your house. This will help you remember to use them in a sentence. Throw them away once you’ve put them into practice.

3) Become a voracious reader. READ. READ. READ. This is by far the most important thing. Reading builds your vocabulary as well as your knowledge! Read and you will go far!

4) Read through the dictionary. Sure I know this sounds boring. Yet, you can quickly scan through the pages and highlight any words that you don’t know. You’ll be surprised  at the sheer quantity of words that you ALREADY know!

5) Read literary works that challenge you.  The classics are a great place to start. There is GOOD reason as to why these books have remained favorites over the years and even centuries. Most often their themes transcend time and will envelope you in their story before you know it! Reading books that were written centuries ago will increase your vocabulary with classic words. This practice will not just build your vocabulary, but will enrich it!