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.

Helpful Tips for Beginning to Homeschool Mid-Year

Starting to homeschool is never easy, but it isn’t any more difficult to start in January. In fact, it’s a great time to start.

Homeschooling Mid Yearsummer homeschool

I’ve noticed over the years that many people take the homeschool plunge in January. I know, some of you might think… Really? Well, it’s not so weird when you stop to think about what they might have gone through last fall. Usually, those who start in January have just endured something that causes them to not put off homeschooling another minute!

Just a few pointers…

  • Check with your state guidelines for homeschooling to see that you have complied with everything that is expected
  • Take time to find out how your children learn. Ask their previous teachers, sit down with them and do a few “worksheets” or watch an educational video. Perhaps you could even find a few online homeschool sites and try them out. Discover how they learn! (auditory, visual, kinesthetic(hands on)
  • Decide on how you want to homeschool. If you are new to this you might want to start with something that does most of the work for you like an all-in-one curriculum or perhaps an online homeschool program.
  • Research the different curriculum options that fit your child’s learning needs as well as the needs of family
  • Purchase the curriculum
  • Set learning goals for your children – what do you want to accomplish this year?
  • Set your schedule – decide on how many days that you want to homeschool and then divide up the lessons and assignments to reach your goals in the allotted amount of time.
  • Set a side a place where your kids can learn comfortably.
  • Get learning!!

 

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!

Homeschool Housewives With Attitude?

arguingIt’s typically that time of year when many homeschoolers start rethinking and reviewing their homeschool experiences and begin planning the new homeschool year. I typically try to turn a critical eye on all that transpired in the last year. Sometimes it’s pretty and sometimes it isn’t. It seems like there is always something that needs to be changed with our curriculum, how we worked, or our schedule. …And that’s ok… this isn’t a bad thing – it’s actually pretty great. You’re wondering how making mistakes can be great? Well, it isn’t so much the mistakes as it is the correcting of (ahem) said mistakes. That is moving forward… getting better… learning from those mistakes.

Which brings me to my recent observation… there are many times that I meet a homeschooling mom and we begin the typical homeschool “chatter.” You know how it goes… you’ve been there. It’s all pleasantries at first, but then… the first blow is struck when one misguided mother degrades another because of what curriculum they use, or what schedule or method. It isn’t blatant… at least not usually. It’s kind of that… “Oh… you use that curriculum.” “Well, we use such and such. We think it’s the best.”

You’ve been there, and you have walked away wondering if you are a fit parent or why you ever started homeschooling in the first place!  Maybe I’m over sensitive, but those conversations used to really knock the wind out of me!  Why -when we are all aiming for the same common goal – can’t we congratulate and encourage each other? It isn’t difficult to say something positive to another parent when you see/hear that they are doing something very different than you. Isn’t that what homeschooling is all about? People who believe that they can make a difference? People who want to do things “differently?”

Let’s just remember how incredibly deep our words can pierce and take time to 1) encourage those homeschool families around us (you never know who is struggling today) 2) Don’t expect everyone to be just like you – different is GOOD! 3) Be yourself to others – don’t try to be perfect – sometimes the best thing that we can do to encourage ourselves and others is to talk about our own struggles 4) Pray for those who homeschool along side of you… we have so many things in common that our differences are often minute! 5) Always think about what you say before you say it. Run your words through the filter of God’s love!

Homeschool moms we have one of the greatest opportunities…we educate our own children. We can teach them about God’s love in the best way possible… through example. Together – if we stop being petty – we can have a huge impact on America for good! Yet, not without showing each other support and kindness… it really is that simple. Who can you make a difference with today?

The ADD/ADHD Epidemic

Photo: It's time to #wakeup

One of my friends posted this graphic on facebook this morning. While I know we see these things all the time, something about it really triggered my thinking. Could it be true? and if it was that would mean – yet again – that money speaks louder than anything else. Sad… very sad…

As my brain was running through these wild and depressing thoughts, I began to click on a new tab and google it. (Well, isn’t that the answer for anything we don’t know these days?  ) What I found was that apparently it is true. In 1991 legislation was passed that included ADD/ADHD in the funding for special education. Of course, the more special education children you have in your school the more special funding your school receives, in addition to any grant money. Though, from what I understand over the years the government has become more particular about what that money is spent on. I believe that it has to be spent on the special education department, so at least the money stays in the correct department. (I’m not sure if that is any consolation, though.) Anyway, this occurred in 1991, the numbers for ADD/ADHD rose dramatically since then. We aren’t talking hundred of thousands, we are talking millions! So, of course, I began to google to find out just how high the cases of ADD/ADHD have risen since this legislation was passed. …And for your viewing convenience here is a neat little graphic that sums it all up!

Jamie Turner Gaddy's photo.

So, yes… I would say that the numbers have drastically risen since that legislation was passed. So, the evidence is in… however, I have to admit I don’t think it is all “filthy lucre’s” fault in this case. You see, I believe that there are two issues at play here. Yes, the misdiagnosis of many children across the U.S., but also the rise in use of technology. Don’t get me wrong… I love technology (as I sit here on my laptop with my ipad and phone beside me…) I just believe that our children are suffering the effects of sitting too long in front of the television and playing too long with video games. Teachers just can’t compete with the amazing graphics, interesting plots, and super sound that comes with all that technology. So, in all honesty I believe that there are two evils at play here.

1) Money – I think every American would admit that most American public schools are often more concerned with the budget than with the individual child.

2) Abuse of technology – I believe that there is a right way to use technology. That is for educational purposes and as tools for productivity. Letting television and video games babysit our children is a big mistake and we (our children) our beginning to pay for it!

Making the Most of a Busy Time

photo (6)I must apologize… it has been quite awhile since I’ve posted some good material! It’s been pretty crazy around here for the last couple  months. My grandfather passed away from a stroke back in March, and my grandmother has been having some issues. Grandpa was 84 and grandma is 82, and both were/are amazing people! Anyway, I’ve flown/driven back and forth from Ohio three times now in the last few months. Needless to say, we’ve been doing the best we can with homeschooling. Sometimes life is just like that. God’s grace is sufficient, even in these times.  I must say, I’m so proud of my kids. They really did much better than I thought they would on their schoolwork while I was gone.

There are still some gaps in the big picture and some things that need a bit more work in order for them to be where they need to be – but all in all – we are getting there. We will probably do a bit of summer school focusing on the subjects that they just didn’t get this year, and of course – having some summer fun with a new pool. AND… maybe a mix of the two!

When life throws curve balls… what do you do?

Proverbs 3:5-6

        Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

What are your Summer Homeschool Plans?

Photo: If only I could remember this in those aggravating moments!

Yes, it’s been one of those crazy years. You know… the kind where you feel like you are just making it by a hair’s breadth. There have been a lot of triumphs, but also a lot of tragedies. It’s just been a tough year. However, by God’s amazing grace (yet again) we will make it to the finish line.

As I look back over my children’s homeschool accomplishments, I realize that though they did well… we didn’t make it as far as I felt they needed to go. I’m disappointed… but I realize that it isn’t the end of the world. After all tomorrow is another day… Another great reason for homeschooling. To make up those areas in which we have a few deficits, we plan on homeschooling throughout the summer. Not a full fledged all subject homeschool endeavor… but a focused academic pursuit. Each of the kiddos has a specific area in which they have a weakness. We plan on working through that weakness during the summer, and look forward to fall finding each of them on top of their game!

First grade daughter needs to work on reading fluency. We will be doing Time4Learning Language Arts as well as some other phonics based programs.

Third grade daughter needs work on multiplication and division. We will be using some online math resources to help her gain mastery in this area.

 

Seventh grade twins need work on math skills and spelling. We will be using Vocabulary Spelling City and Time4Learning in those specific areas to boost their mastery levels.

Do you find yourself in this same situation? What are your plans for this summer?

Homeschool Curriculum Review – Vocabulary Spelling City

Learn spelling and vocabulary

I have been trying to slowly work through the curriculum options that we have tried throughout the years and make a public review of them. I know I haven’t gotten very far with this, but I hope to remedy that in the near future! So, without delay… today I will be reviewing the Vocabulary Spelling City website.

First let me tell you about VSC. Vocabulary Spelling City is a website that hosts your own specific lists as well as most well known curriculum spelling lists. That means that most of BJU press, Saxon, and ABEKA’s lists are already constructing and are just waiting for you to download them to your account. There are also other grade and subject specific lists such as a third grade science list that we really enjoyed!

PROS – VSC allows me to host all of my children’s spelling lists in one place. Prior to using VSC I was doing 5 different spelling lessons per week, using 5 different spelling books, and giving 5 spelling tests. It was definitely a picture of insanity. However, once I discovered VSC my whole world changed! I was able to simply choose and assign the lists that I wanted each of my children to complete. They were able to log in, follow their assignment, complete the practice games, and then take the spelling test. All I needed to do was check to make sure that they passed the test. If they did not, they repeated that week’s worth of assignments. All of the kids love most the practice games which include everything from writing assignments to hangman style games. Another aspect of VSC that I appreciate is the free printable handwriting worksheets. These offer a great way for you to get your kiddos working on their handwriting skills! As a lover of all things math related, I enjoy the fact that VSC has specific math vocabulary that I can use to make sure my children understand the math concepts that we are studying.

CONS – Though I love the ease of simply setting my kids loose on VSC, the time that it takes to create the assignments for each child is a bit extensive. Although, in all fairness it saves me so much time that I really don’t mind. Yet, I think if there could be a way to “bulk assign” the lists to kids with pre-made settings… that would make it awesome! There are a few of the practice games that my children really don’t like. They say they take too much time. However, the games that they dislike are very few, and there are more than twenty to choose from. All in all, the PROS definitely outweigh the CONS… making me a definite fan of VSC!

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