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.

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!

Carnival of Homeschooling – Fall is in the Air!

homeschool life

 homeschoolingAs I’m sitting down to put together this October 15th Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling, I glance out my window and see the beginning signs of fall. The leaves on the trees around my home are turning those beautiful well-known shades of red,orange, purple, and even yellow. Though Spring is my very favorite time of year, fall is equally amazing. The beautiful colors, scents of baked goodies, apple picking, pumpkin carving, and the oh-so-fun hayrides. Each is guilty of making incredible memories that last for a life time. So, as this beautiful season commences, I’d love to encourage each of you to be grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to experience the richness of another fall, and the blessings of freedom to homeschool. So, without further ado… let’s get to the goodies…

Homeschooling this Fall…

Talking about freedoms…  Homeschool vs. Public School reviews our Constitutionally given rights in his posts The Bill of Rights Part 1 and The Bill of Rights Part 2.

ChristineMM over at the Thinking Mother talks about how she’s doing with homeschooling her eighth grade son this Fall in her post Grade 8 Curriculum Part 1.

This post by Zesty Mom talks about the benefit of self imposed challenges versus the challenges that life throws at us in her post On Choosing Challenges.

Just not sure if you can homeschool high school? Yes, You Can! It really is a lot easier than you think. This article entitled Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling High School was very encouraging to me!

homeschool graduate

Speaking of being grateful, I am so grateful for the richness that others bring to my life. There are so many things that we can do to be a positive influence in other peoples’ lives.

This post by Laura Grace Weldon encourages us to do just that!  International Hosting:How Strangers Become Friends is a post about a family that made a difference in a child’s life, and how you can get involved too.

Every Bed of Roses discusses the Dad’s place in our homeschool in her post Dad’s Helping Hand in our Homeschool. Dad’s don’t always homeschool, but they play a very important part!

Are you Burned Out and Fed Up? Barbara Frank Online gives encouragement for those of us who are there… and even those of us who aren’t!

Need some homeschool inspiration?… how about poetry? Reading-Writing-Learning shares an original poem called Teach Me to Fly. This is destined to become a favorite poem!

Need a few tips to help your homeschool run a bit smoother?  Here are 5 Tips for Homeschooling a Large Family from the Time4Learning Community Blog.

Ahhh… the fundamentals. As I’m enjoying the fall scene before me, it’s the fundamentals that make it beautiful. The simplicity of the leaves. The beauty of the sky, and even the crispness of the air. It’s the fundamentals of homeschooling that give it such beauty as well. Here’s a bit of fundamental inspiration for your homeschool…

homeschool life

Find out what Fill Your Bookshelf is up to with history in her post Egyptian History Unit Study. This post has alot of great links and information to help you get started on your own history unit.

Florida Homeschooling gives us great advice in her post Homeschool for Free! Lots of great pointers get you saving money in a few simple steps.

Need some fresh ideas about math? Introducing the World shares how her math didn’t work out too well at the beginning of the year and how she adjusted to make things better… true homeschool style! Her article Math Remix tells about her success!

Discover more about nature and how to make a great interest led unit study with Down a Rabbit Trail and her post The Reality of How We Do Nature Study.

Joyous Lessons makes The Case for a Non-fiction Home Library in her post. She gives a perfect example of how non-fiction can enrich your homeschool studies.

If you are looking for a way to enrich your highschool homeschool Dual Enrollment and Homeschool: What to Expect can help you find the way. Dual Enrollment during high school can save alot of time and money in the long run!

Learn about a new book called Talking Math with Your Kids. This book review by Let’s Play Math! will get you wanting to read it and get mathematical with your children!

That pretty much wraps up our Carnival of Homeschooling for this week. I hope you enjoyed the posts, I know I sure did! If you are enjoying the fall like I am, add a picture of your landscape when you make your comment!

> Carnival of Homeschooling

Don’t forget to join the Carnival of Homeschooling next week!

Tips for Keeping Burn out at bay…

homeschool stress“Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.” I Peter 5:7

I know homeschooling isn’t the easiest job I’ve ever done. Though it is very rewarding, it requires so much of me… personally, physically, emotionally, etc. Sometimes, I need to just step back and review what I’m doing and how my life is going. If I don’t… well, let’s just say I feel like I’m holding my breath!

Here are a few things that I do on a regular basis to keep myself sane, and to keep the stress at bay… (You can find more along these lines at Time4Learning)

1) Make time for the important things in your life… your family, God, your spouse. Don’t just mark off a time slot in your busy schedule, slow down, take a walk, play a game, do something completely relaxing and enjoyable and TALK with those your love! Seriously… take time to smell the roses! Don’t just rush through your day, live in every moment.

2) Don’t allow the small pesky things that will tend to keep us crazy busy… to build up. Say “no” to things that aren’t all that important… (just don’t forget to return the 40 library items that you checked out last month… or you might have a $30 bill!)

3) Adjust your educational goals if they are just not doable for the time being… (You won’t believe how freeing this can be. If you have set goals and are not able to make them, an automatic level of stress accompanies this. Formally change your goals. Write it down if you need to. You won’t believe how big of a difference it makes!) Make a no stress plan for your life.

4) Take a moment to just enjoy life… take a warm bath… sip a cup of cappuccino… light some candles…paint your toenails a wild shade of purple…take a bike ride and enjoy that sunset… do something completely relaxing! Enjoy the blessing of life!

Out of the Loop… Sick and Tired…

I can’t believe it has been several weeks since I posted. We have all had the nasty yucky cold/flu thing that seems to be going around. Of course, mama got it the worst, and I have been fighting it for 3 weeks now! So, needless to say… it’s been difficult to try to post anything.

Yet, while I was sick and tired… I realized how important it is to have a few “aces in my pocket” to help us make it through a homeschool sick day. At our house, when I’m sick it doesn’t pay to just do nothing all day. That usually makes me nervous and on edge. My children area active and busy… so if they don’t have something to occupy their minds, they will simply… get in trouble! ( or drive me crazy in the process)

I think having an emergency list of things to do in those situations can be a life saver. Things like pre copied logic puzzles,  lists of activities, educational videos, and even an online web search can make a sick day a little less crazy! So, in the next few weeks, I will be working on my “emergency plan!” So, stay tuned!

Losing Your Mind Shouldn’t Be Part of the Equation…

Homeschooling, motherhood, being a wife … it can all be alot of stress. It doesn’t help that most of us self inflict that stress. I, for one,  am very guilty of that. I get it in my head that I have to something at a certain time, or in a certain way and if I can’t… Boy am I stressed!!! That isn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I don’t REALLY have to do those things in a set time frame, especially since I homeschool! I guess that comes from having a goal in mind that I think I should reach by a certain time. I usually let it really get to me… recently my precious Lord and even my family has been helping realize that this is not a healthy way of thinking. You see, I not only let that stress ME out… but it affects my family too!

Changing how I view my life is the first step, the second step is to change how I view homeschooling.  I must put my personal relationship with God and my family first. Any thing else is of secondary importance. If my family can’t see by my actions that they are more important than these other things… then I am inadvertently telling them that other things are more important than they are. These other things may be good – even great things. It could even be church related activities…  but if it takes away from necessary time with your family it could be too much. I have known missionaries who labored for Christ in distant lands,  but sent their children to boarding schools and lost them to bitterness and even a hatred for God. God is my strength, and in Him I find joy and peace. Yet, HE has given me my family – that is my DIRECT mandate from Him.

Secondly, I have to consciously MAKE time to cultivate relationships with those that I love. It seems like everyone is busy these days, and making time to show someone you care is even more important.  Time means so much…

Third, organize yourself. Organize your personal space, your home, and your homeschool. You can be more efficient when you can find what you need to complete a task. Organize your time – use a calendar that you can get to easily and put everything on it! Print out a calendar with important dates and place it on the fridge. Then everyone in the family can be on the same page.

Finally, make homeschooling work for you. Don’t allow homeschooling to be your task master. Yes, there should be goals and objectives and we should strive to help our children learn at their maximum potential… but that can be done without stress and worry! Make your goals, but be flexible to allow life to happen… and enjoy those different seasons of life before they are gone!


Lines, Shapes, Balance, Symmetry… Teaching Homeschool Art

I must confess, I love art. Art has been a passion of mine since I was in Junior High School. I love the smells, I love the messiness, but most of all I love making something beautiful. Because of this, I enjoy teaching art to my children. I do realize that not everyone shares this passion of mine, and for many art is one of the “if we have time” classes.

I can’t say that I really blame people for feeling that way, but I know that including fine arts education in our homeschool really makes a difference. I could list dozens of research studies that demonstrate the power that creative expression has on achievement… but I’ll spare you! I’m sure you are grateful! Anyway, one other statistic that did stand out to me was the fact that teens who were involved in fine arts were many many times less likely to battle depression and or suicidal tendencies. This tells me that art is important to our mental health.

So, with that in mind… teaching art in your homeschool can be done SIMPLY! Here are a few easy ways to establish a balanced art curriculum.

  • Introduce your children to art appreciation. This should begin early with a simply appreciation of beauty… nature, people, plants, flowers, photography. As the child gets older this can become more formal by introducing them to art museums and galleries.
  • Be sure to teach art history. Introduce your children to Monet, Degas, Picasso, and Van Gogh. Tell them the funny stories behind some of their famous paintings!
  • Finally, be sure to experience art. Get your hands dirty and have fun! Many times I will use a theme and incorporate all three of these aspects of art education into my lessons. For example, I will show my kids famous art, then talk about the famous artists that did the work, and then  try our hand at replicating something in that style. Although when we first begin to learn art, we usually use Mona Brookes book “Drawing with Children.” This is  an awesome book to get kids to see lines and shapes and begin to draw.

I also use old art encyclopedias, art teaching books, and even online art curriculum. T4L has an art curriculum called Time4Art. It brings out all three of these aspects of art education,  but you’ll have to make sure your child gets a chance to really make some art of his own!

Carnival of Homeschooling – Homeschool Makeover Edition

Can you believe we are already saying “goodbye” to summer and “hello” to fall? With fall comes cooler weather and spending more time inside. Whenever, the weather starts to turn cool I always want to get my house cleaned, organized, and ready for us to be there most of the time. With this in mind, I typically do a household and home school makeover. I go through closets pulling out things that have been pushed to the back and forgotten. I go through shelves of school books removing things we haven’t used in years. I clean off the tables, chairs, shelves, and even go through all of our stockpiled supplies.

We makeover everything in our schoolroom including how the furniture is arranged. Because we spend so much time in our home school room-  making it different each year helps keep us from HATING it. Here are some great ideas to makeover how your school room looks!

Hannah Anderson at Full Time Nanny helps us makeover our school room by planting a flower box for kids.

1. rearrange furniture

2. Put up things that the children have gotten “bored” with – pull them out six months from now and they’ll be new again…

3. Put up some bright posters, make some decorations together

4. Organize their personal belongings into crates, tubs, boxes, etc… and then let them personalize their own space

Our school room isn’t the only thing that needs a makeover. I run out of ideas throughout the year, and am always in need of fresh fun things to do with the children. Here are some awesome ideas from fellow bloggers that just might give you the inspiration that you require… (I had a hard time getting this carnival written – because I spent so much time reading all these great posts!!!)

Homeschool Online shares their concerns about homeschooling a senior in the post Back to School… With a Senior.

Cristina at Homes Spun Juggling tells us about how her homeschooling has changed over the years in Not “Write”, Just a Rough Sketch Right Now.

Christine of The Thinking Mother answers the question: “Will my kids turn out alright if they quit school and begin homeschooling?

Henry helps us tie it all together with Relearned Lessons – Using the Right Tool over at his blog Why Homeschool.

Summer Nanny Jobs gives us some great advice on how to keep our kids entertained on a rainy day with their blog post 10 Things Your Kids Can Do on a Rainy Day.

After I finish organizing all of the physical things in the room and freshen up our outlook. I then turn to WHAT I use to teach. For me, the appearance of the room is the easy part. Reviewing and determining what we’ll use for our curriculum requires so much more thought… that I usually put it off til last. (Not a good practice…to say the least.) Sometimes the curriculum that we used last year is awesome, and we want to stick with it. Then there are times, that … well…we just don’t fit together. Usually, we sell or donate that curriculum and find something more suitable to meet our needs. Here are some experienced homeschoolers thoughts on different types of curriculum…

Roberta at Letters from Nebby gives us some great ideas for math curriculum in her post Life of Fred Math.

Annie at Learn at Every Turn encourages us to take advantage of keeping good homeschooling records in her post Homeschool Organization and Record Keeping.

Nerdwallet has launched a personal finance management contest. A great way to teach your kids to manage their finances.

Misty  from Homeschoolbytes shows us that there is lots to learn from 4H clubs in her post Amazing Homeschool Adventures with 4H.

The Great Wall of Krispies posted by Karyn gives us a great idea on how to make history come alive for our children.Check out her blog at Teach Beside Me.

Of course, there are always Good Reasons for Teaching the Basics While Homeschooling. Find out while reading this post by Barbara Frank.

Kathleen really gives some practical pointers in finding What Curriculum to Use? over at her blog Art’s Chilli Pepper.

Another great way to update your homeschool is to get up close and personal… that’s just what Baby Steps Blog did in their post Visiting the Hive!

Nutrition for Healthy Kids shares with us some great ideas on teaching kids their ABC’s in a fun and engaging way with their post entitled Alphabet Soup.

Chris gives us a great idea for curriculum in his post Use This Book to Design Your Curriculum over at his blog Homeschool vs. Public School.

Are you wondering How to Teach a Toddler Spanish? Martina tells all at her blog Become a Nanny.

Kaye gives us insight on how to have Artful Fun for the Sandwich Generation at her blog SandwichINK.

Once I’ve gone through organizing the room and organizing our curriculum, I then take a look at our schedule. It’s so easy to get caught up doing too much, and it’s so hard to say “No” to someone who needs a little help. We have found that if we keep our focus on the few things that are most important in our lives (like our family) and say “no” to anything that detracts from that, then we can stay sane. To make sure we aren’t letting too much extra stuff creep back in, each fall we do a schedule makeover as well! We streamline our week to make sure that everything from school – to sports – to work all flows well together. Make sure you check out these blogs for great ideas on how to make your schedule work for you.

It seems like many of us must have this on our mind… Lisa shares her thoughts on How to Avoid Homeschool Burnout at her blog Golden Grasses.

Liz from Homeschooling in Buffalo helps us focus on our purpose while she shares hers in Reunions and My Decision to Homeschool.

Erin from Nirvana Homeschooling gives us some great ideas about scheduling in her post Our Homeschool Plan for Kindergarten.

Susan at Corn and Oil encourages us to think about our homeschooling freedoms and take action to keep them in her post about Over-Compliance Demands for Homeschoolers.

If you still aren’t sure about your schedule… here’s one for you. Annie shares her Un-Schedule with Grades 12,10, 7, and 5 at her blog Tea Time with Annie Kate.

10 Reasons Why Homeschooling With A New Baby Is Going To Be Do-able at her blog “Homeschool is not a Typo.

Does scheduling our homeschool day help us get into a routine or a rut? Let’s find out…

Last, but not least in importance is the fact that sometimes our friendships need a little “makeover” as well. Phyllis posts about that in How to Cultivate Proverbs 13 Friendships on her blog Proclaiming God’s Faithfulness.

It’s been so fun hosting the Home School Blog Carnival here… hope that you got plenty of great ideas to start your own Homeschool Makeover!

Carnival of Homeschooling

Road Weary

This summer has really been crazy – but fun. We have traveled from West Texas to Eastern Ohio, and have been able to see most of our family. That itself was a huge treat. We live in Georgia and the rest of our family lives 850 miles in two different directions.  It so great to see children connect and enjoy memories with those we hold dear.  Though it’s been crazy and difficult… it has been so worth it.

This week I am buckling down and getting my homeschool organized! I spent nearly 9 hours today putting together my “baby’s” Senior year of highschool, while it wasn’t easy… I think it will be good but challenging year for her.

Bet you’ll never guess what this is supposed to be??? :)