homeschooling

The Providence of Patience…

Recently, I made an interesting discovery. The very best curriculum I’ve used has been free or cost almost nothing! I know this sounds funny, but I’ve discovered when I rushed out and purchased things that I thought my children needed to succeed, we would barely go through the first few pages. However, when I least suspected it, someone would give me something that didn’t work for them, and “ta-dah” it was perfect for my homeschool! Throughout it all, I’ve realized that had I been patient from the beginning, instead of going nuts trying to obtain the “it” thing, I would have gotten what I needed, not what I wanted, right from the beginning, and saved myself and my household a lot of time and money. This has truly taught me the power of giving even small things to God in prayer. This year I resolved that I would surrender my wants for his will. I would not become obsessed trying to afford things that I could not afford, and I would not make a budget that was a suggestion… I would remain disciplined knowing that God would provide what money could not.
Even at the convention which was the source of much anxiety last year, I could see his provision. I wanted to purchase a transcript software, but it was not in the budget.. I found one for free in the gleaning at the end of the HEAV convention. It works wonderfully. I wanted a high school literature program.. it was on my heart, but not in the budget. Again, another free find. I had been desperately searching for an algebra program for my daughter and another homeschool mom blessed me with just what I needed… no charge!
My prayer for you is that you will not allow budget constrictions to keep you from being the best homeschool teacher you can be. Delight yourself in the fact that God answers prayers and that through your faithful patience; he does provide.

homeschooling

Time Vampires

As I began to look to a new homeschool year with my 3 children, I am constantly confronted with newer and more exciting opportunities to have my “home” time sucked away.

It is hard not to become a victim of time vampires. It starts innocently enough. Why not join an organized sport group? Why not meet at the library once in a while? Why not help out at your church once or twice a week? Why not join a play group twice a week? At some point you began to realize that what started out as harmless opportunities for a bit of socializing or self-esteem building quickly become “suckers” of your valuable time.

I am certainly not innocent in this. I get “sucked” into all sorts of things all of the time. I’ve truly had to learn to say no to a lot of things that “sound” good, but really just become another burden of time. I have a mental checklist that all “new” opportunities must pass to get a “maybe”; instant yes’s are reserved for necessities only (things required for academic survival).
1. Does this activity massage my personal ego, but offer little to uplift my family or homeschool values?
2. Will this require me to spend as much time as money in order to fulfill the long-term obligation of this activity?
3. Is this an activity that will require an extensive travel commitment on my part?
4. Does this activity provide an enrichment opportunity for my entire family or will I need to wait with younger siblings for this event to finish for an older sibling and then shuttle the youngers to another activity?
5. Will this activity occur on a day I have absolutely set aside as a sacred “school” day?
6. Will this event take away precious family time?
7. Will this activity create more clutter in my home or life?
8. Is my child actually interested in this activity or do I think taking them to this activity will peak their interest?(This is tricky because you want to broaden their horizons, but you don’t want to kill yourself doing it… motive is the key to your answer).
9. Will this activity solidify concepts and themes I am teaching at home?
10. Do I really need another activity in my life?

Limiting yourself to a few expected and scheduled activities will go a long way towards increasing homeschool harmony and success. My mantra is the right thing at the wrong time; is the wrong thing.
Now, go take back your day!

homeschooling

Just Discovered…10 Rules of thumb for choosing teaching materials

10 Rules of thumb for choosing teaching materials

Rule #1: Invest in yourself first. Like it or not, you are the glue that will hold this home schooling endeavor together, so you need to develop a strategy for staying sane and on top of it all (even if it means scheduling a nap every afternoon). You wouldn’t dream of trying to build a house without a plan, the right materials, and the necessary tools. Home schooling is like building a house–you need to determine your plan, gather your materials, and be sure you have the right tools for the job. Take some time to read, to look around, to compare. Invest in some of the “tools of the trade” like the “must haves” and parent resources listed in this ejournal.

Begin rearranging your house so it will accommodate study without becoming too cluttered or stressful. Think through what you will do with infants and toddlers during school times; how you will handle meals, house cleaning, and laundry; and how you will deal with the other changes schooling at home brings.

Don”t feel guilty about spending money on yourself. After all, if you were a professional teacher, you (or your parents) would have spent tens of thousands of dollars getting you ready to stand before a classroom of children. So think in terms of what will make you more confident and able to create a learning environment for your household. What will smooth your way mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually?

Rule #2: Consider your situation. A farm family will have many opportunities for “hands on” learning in the areas of math, science, economics, etc. A city family has access to museums, libraries, cultural events, and more support group activities. You can make the most of the real life learning opportunities God gives you, perhaps never needing textbooks and teaching materials in certain subject areas.

I once had a missionary call me bemoaning the fact that she lived in a large foreign city and her children weren’t able to do much nature study. She completely overlooked all the wonderful opportunities her children had to learn foreign languages, history, and geography, and to interact with other cultures. So, look around. God may have already arranged a learning environment for you that is better than a classroom.

Rule #3: Choose teaching materials that compliment the learner. Textbooks developed for classroom use tend to be “teacher directed” and chalkboard oriented, seldom taking into account children’s interests or of the different ways children perceive and process information. Each student has a style in which he learns best.

Different children have different learning strengths and weaknesses that the perceptive parent will take into account when choosing teaching materials. For example, visual learners may do well with workbooks, while auditory learners need songs or spoken instruction and kinesthetic learners need to manipulate objects. (In a future ejournal we will discuss different learning styles and preferences.)

Rule #4: If you don’t like the material, you will resist using it no matter how good it is. All teaching materials have a bias, not just in the subject matter, but also in the way the subject matter is presented. Every teaching parent, whether he or she recognizes it or not, has an educational philosophy–some set of values and beliefs about what and how children should be taught.

Sometimes we will have an unexplained inner resistance to certain teaching materials. It could be that this inner resistance arises from a conflict between our educational philosophy and that of the teaching material.

Trust the Holy Spirit and choose from your spirit as well as from your head. No matter how much your friends rave about a particular product, don’t buy it if you don’t really like it yourself. A key question to ask is: “Does just looking at this curriculum make me feel tired or pressured?” Your body knows what’s good for you. Listen to it.

Rule #5: Avoid programs that require a great deal of teacher preparation. Unless you are a researcher-type or high-energy person, you will be frustrated by programs with detailed teacher’s manuals to wade through, supplemental books or seminars that are necessary to fully utilize the program, or lots of activities to prepare beforehand.

Rule #6: Expect to waste time, energy, and especially money. You will soon discover that often it is you, not your children, who are being educated. So loosen up and accept the fact that some of what you buy will be a total waste of time, energy, and money. This is all a part of learning what works for you and for your children. Consider it payment of your tuition in the University for Home Educating Parents .

Rule #7: Be aware that there are various schools of thought concerning the teaching of any subject. Some examples: In math there are programs that are primarily problem solving with manipulatives and programs that are primarily problem solving on paper. In reading there are programs that focus on learning phonics before learning to read, programs that focus on learning the rules while learning to read, and programs that focus on just learning to read and letting the rules come later.

Each school of thought has produced excellent mathematicians, readers, and spellers, but sometimes products will be advertised as better than the rest because they follow a particular school of thought.

Rule #8: Realize that there is no perfect curriculum. What works with one child won’t necessarily work with another. What worked one year may not necessarily work the next. Your family’s needs and interests will change. Buy materials that meet present needs. Mold the curriculum to the child, not the child to the curriculum.

Also, be aware that not all books in a series are equally as good. For example, the fourth grade level of a particular program may be excellent, but this does not mean the other levels are.

Rule #9: God gave you YOUR specific children because there is something in YOU that He wants imparted to them. Teaching materials are only tools to help you impart yourself to (disciple) your children. You can trust the Lord to lead you to those materials that will help you best disciple each child.

Rule #10: Remember that teaching materials are often the least important elements of your home school. Books are easy to discard if they don’t work for you, but attitudes and destructive family dynamics are not. According to a survey of home schooling families, five major reasons families fail at home education are: (1) they lack the personal conviction to persevere through the difficult times; (2) the father is not involved; (3) the children are undisciplined and resist parental instruction; (4) the parents cannot handle the added responsibilities; and (5) the family has unrealistic expectations.

The best teaching materials in the world are going to take a back seat to the attitudes and family dynamics in your household.

This article was taken in its entirety from:
http://www.homeschoolmarketplace.com/

I wish I had this before I went and spent a fortune at the HEAV convention!