What are your kids missing?

Peer pressure…Stress…Bullying…Potty mouths…Hourly schedule…Drugs…

Homeschoolers are missing a few things… but they are things that we certainly are broken hearted over! In fact, homeschool children have the opportunity to take their time during the day. Instead of being rushed from one class to the next, the homeschooler has the opportunity to study, and even day dream. Yes, I said it… day dream!

In fact, children are really missing out when they aren’t given time to  play and dream. Does your child have the opportunity to dream about what they want to be when they grow up? Every child should. It’s part of what makes us who we are… give them time to dream… and then allow them room to make that dream possible.

Appreciate your children. When a child feels appreciated they feel free to become their best.

Our children are missing one of the most detrimental of childhood experiences… peer pressure. By homeschooling our children we are allowing them to be who they want to be without fear of whether the majority will accept or reject them. Most homeschoolers miss that junior high/high school level of needing their peers to validate who they are. They simply go from their day dreaming to having a purpose to accomplish that dream. They don’t need their peers to acknowledge or approve it.

To be honest, I am very glad that my homeschooled children are missing some things. I am especially glad that they have the time and opportunity to dream… and hopefully I can have a part in helping them fulfill their dream. I am always telling them that they can be whatever God leads them to be, whatever they believe He has created them to do… they can do!

Making a Great Test

Having pre-made tests are great, but that option isn’t always available. Homeschoolers, even though we need to be using alternative means of assessment… often have to make their own tests. It really isn’t a difficult thing to do, but there are a few things you should always keep in mind when designing your own test.

  1. A test should always cover what was learned in the lessons. This means that if you use goals and objectives, your test should cover those exact objectives. Never pull test questions out of thin air, this isn’t fair to the tester.
  2. The best type of test is the essay test. This test requires the tester to completely pull all knowledge from their own resources.
  3. Tests should typically be a variety of questions.
  4. Tests should not be repetetive. Don’t repeat questions. Don’t give away answers with nonsensical options.
  5. Don’t ask only simple rote memory questions. Make sure that your questions build in the Cognitive learning domain. Begin with rote memory questions that test the facts, then move to questions that make students analyze what they have learned, then the students to synthesize the knowledge and facts, and then finally ask questions (such as essay ) that require them to evaluate and apply what they have learned.

Mastery Learning and the Homeschool

The typical school format really does not provide for any type of mastery learning. However, the best way to educate is through mastery learning. In fact, the big picture of your child’s education should be a plan that includes both elementary and high school learning.

In the elementary years, we should be educating our children for breadth. This simply means that we introduce our children to a variety of subjects, genres, and methods of learning in order to discover where our children’s talents and interests lie. By the time they reach middle school or high school you should have a pretty good idea of what they enjoy and what they do well at.

Once in high school these are the areas that you should focus on for mastery. So, in high school you no longer need the breadth that you had in elementary school, but now you are looking for depth in your child’s education. You have found the subjects and areas that interest them and in which their talents lie; now you coach them or encourage them to pursue these areas. This is where mastery comes in. Throughout high school you can help them to arrange their schedule to allow for opportunities to study further in these areas. You can also encourage them to find an outlet to apply experientially what they have been learning.

Giving them these opportunities will help them as they prepare themselves for their future ministry in whatever field or area God calls them to. Isn’t that what home education is all about?

Play Ball!

Have you ever noticed how intently kids will invest time and effort into fine tuning skills that have to do with sports? It seems that they willingly practice and invest extra time and effort into making themselves better.
Why don’t they respond this way to school work and learning? I am sure some of this comes from the athletic focus of our culture, but the rest I believe stems from the ability to apply these skills immediately. They enjoy the fact that they discover if what they are learning works. They like the relevence of investing time to become better at something. How can we translate this enthusiasm to education?
I believe that answer to making this work for homeschooling to make the learning relevant. They won’t be motivated by being told they’ll use this knowledge years down the road. They need ways to apply it now. Through contests, projects, pen pals, competition…whatever you can find…work to make it relevent for them now!

Teaching Intuitiveness in Every Day Learning

Are you thinking… ??What?? I know it sounds off the wall, but what I really mean is that we must teach our children the meaning, and the usefulness of math, language, science, and history… while we are teaching them. Research has shown that education today is very disjointed. High school students can add, subtract, divide, and multiply but when asked a word problem evoking a practical situation…only 70% can apply the math to a real life situation. Then when asked a question that would result in 1/2 or a 1/4 of a person… only 33% of students realized that the answer would need to be a whole number.

…There is obviously a disconnect somewhere…

I believe it is the fact that so much learning today is solely text book oriented. What happened to learning while working and doing? Remember the days when young girls practiced fractional math while baking a double batch of something? Or young men helped dad build a shed and measured and cut and planned the dimensions. In pushing for test scores, and specific subject performance… we have left out the common sense equation in education.

Good news… homeschoolers have a wide open opportunity to make their child’s education apply to real life. For example, when you begin teaching your preschooler math it shouldn’t start with a text book or flashcards. It should start with games. “Can you get momma 5 apples for this pie?” or “Can you divide your candy in half and give half of it to your sister?” They must see the numbers and their meaning in a concrete form before they begin formal instruction. Yet, this doesn’t negate using flashcards and drilling the facts after they have the understanding. Before children can move into higher math they must be able to rattle off their elementary math facts without hesitation.

This is the foundation of education that lends to common sense. Children can see “why” they are learning math, science, and history when they see how it helps them and affects their daily life.

Education that Reflects the Future

The face of education today is changing. Though much of the subect matter remains the same through the centuries, there are aspects that change, that must change. Some of those aspects include things like technology.

As homeschooling families, teaching our children should be an effort in including those things that historically have been taught, yet including things that our society demands our children be educated in. Teaching our students in the 21st century with an 18th century model of education just won’t be enough. We have to keep in mind the things that our children will need to face the future. 

Education should be geared to help them face the realities of real life. Traditional yet meaningful.

Teaching Your Child How to Read – Part 2

Vowels and consonants and blends

In the first edition of our series on how to teach children how to read, we discussed the beginning steps of phonemic awareness. Many homeschooling moms are terrified of teaching their children to read, but taking one baby step at a time will naturally bring your child to the place where they not only read, but read well!

Baby Step 2

Differentiating between vowels and consonants can be something that you incorporate with your beginning letter awareness or something that you really bring out after your child has already learned their alphabet and the letter names and sounds. There are alot of really great games that you can play and songs that you can sing to help bring out the concept of vowels. One of my children’s favorites was “Old McDonald” but on his farm he had vowels… with an aa here and an ee there… you get the point. They loved it, and my four year old still loves it! We played memory with vowel cards, and then of course they would have to tell me their sound and one word that began with that sound.

It is easiest to start with the concept of vowels, because then you can state that all the rest of the letters that aren’t vowels are consonants.  After your child has mastered these two concepts and completely understand what vowels and consonants are, you can move on to blends.

Blends are simply the combination of vowels and consonants. When I begin to teach this I usually make blend families. These are little groups of blends that have the same consonant but use each of the vowels. For example, b-a, b-e, b-i, b-o,bu. Introducing a new blend family and then reviewing it each day is an incredibly important step on the road to reading.

As with every step toward reading, making sure the child enjoys a print rich environment is important. Surround him or her with plenty of books that they can “read”, and then be sure to read to them each day.

Help I’m Drowning…Friday

Homeschoolers across the country will agree that even with the best laid plans, there are days that you just can’t do it all and sometimes you just can’t get to any of it. This week has been that way for us. We had a funeral and then a day of counseling to follow. Two very disrupted days don’t bode well for a schedule. In times like these… you have got to “just go with it!”