Thursday, November 22, 2012

Great learning opportunities ahead!

Attention homeschooling parent….you have a great learning opportunity approaching!
Ok, now that I have your attention, let me explain what I mean. Between Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year there are a lot of different holidays. Many of these holidays are major holidays for the different major religions of the world. You may not celebrate any of them. But it would be a great opportunity to share the beliefs of others with your child. Even if you have a specific belief, you could use this opportunity to explain to your child why you believe the way you do and compare it to the other beliefs.
Some people shy away from explaining or teaching about the other religions besides their own. The problem with that is that the world is getting to be a smaller and smaller place. Two hundred years ago, I might never meet a Jew or a Muslim. Now I might live next door to one. Years ago, I might not have ever heard of Hanukkah, or Ramadan, or Winter Solstice, or Kwanzaa. Today, we are much more likely to encounter someone who celebrates the holiday. You do not need to believe the way someone else does to be willing to learn something about what they believe.
In fact, in an age where you might live next to families from all over the world, you probably even have people who believe differently than you do in your homeschooling group, especially if it is inclusive, or interest based. Wouldn’t this be a great time to have the children share different religious beliefs? I’m not saying have your child believe in something different than you do, I’m just suggesting having them learn something about other beliefs.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reading and more reading

Did you know that some people believe that reading is the most fundamental skill you can teach your child? I am very fortunate in that my child has always been an excellent reader. One of my homeschooling friends has a child with dyslexia and reading is a struggle every day for them. And it probably will be a struggle for the rest of the child’s life.
Someone once said, “If you can read, you can do anything.” I think what they meant by that is that if you can read, you can read the instructions to learn how to multiply, or tie a knot. Beyond the educational value of reading, there are other benefits as well.
If you can read, you can escape the world you live in, take flight, and explore worlds you will never have the opportunity to explore in real life. Reading can be a stress relief, and it can spur your imagination. You will learn cultural and societal references.
This is a great gift to give to your child. Read to your child, even if they think they are too old (they are not!). Read with your child. In our house, one of us often reads the same book as my daughter, at the same time, and then we discuss the book. Let your child listen to audio books. Amazingly many of the benefits of reading also apply to listening to audio books, especially if your child is an auditory learner. Finally, let your child see you settle in with a good book. It shows your child that you think reading is important enough to take time to do, and it models a behavior that you want them to have.
Enjoy reading!

Monday, October 22, 2012

ADHD and homeschool stress

Homeschooling a child with ADHD can sometimes be trying. I know in my home, there is a certain amount of noise and chaos associated with my daughter.
For the parent who works outside of the home, coming back to this inherent chaos can sometimes be distressing. Homeschooling in general sometimes means that the house is not always perfectly clean and straight. This is also a source of stress for the parent who works away from home, only to return to a house that looks like nothing has been done.
For the parent who stays home to homeschool, there is another kind of stress. ADHD students can be demanding, difficult, and hard headed.
Add to that that they tend to be loud, flamboyant, and messy. It is hard to contain school to one area, because the ADHD student needs to move around, and needs to take frequent breaks.
I won’t say that I have the answers as to how to fix these sources of stress. At this point, just know that both parents may be having some stress associated with homeschooling and ADHD. This may translate into less patience with the student.
Consider taking frequent breaks from school. We have five minute clean ups, where we try to regain some peace and order among the chaos. Consider a “clean desk” policy. If it is clean and straight at the end of a school day, then at least you start out with a clean desk each new school day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

US Government--Social Studies

You know there is an important election coming up, right? That question is asked, tongue-in-cheek, because if you turn on the television you know that there is little else on television. I’m not here to push any candidate or political philosophy.
What I do want to remind you of is the idea that this could be a great learning situation for your children. If your children are young, then let them learn the basics of our form of government, for example, the three branches of government. If they are a bit older, maybe help them learn about the duties of the president, and the importance of our form of government. Take it a step further if your child is late middle school, or high school, and learn how the electoral college works.
It is also a great time to share what you believe with your children. Discuss which candidate you would consider to elect and why. Tell them why you made that choice. Discuss the pros and cons of each candidate, as well as the benefits and detriments of keeping the incumbent. It is possible that your child will choose a different candidate than you do, but this is a great opportunity to open dialogue about what your think is important as far as our country, our government, and our future are concerned.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Field Trips

In most areas of the country the weather is either getting nice, or is still nice. Fall is a great time of year, and there are a wealth of field trips that can be done at this time of year that cannot be done at other times of the year.
Let me give you a few examples. Farms and orchards in many parts of the country open up their pumpkin patches, and apple orchards for do-it-yourself picking. Visiting one of these places, or both, will allow your family to create traditions.
I know that creating traditions is something I have to work on. When I was growing up, my family was not very traditional or sentimental and we did not do things that created the types of memories that traditions create. My best friend’s family had all sorts of traditions, ranging from canning apples and baking apple pies, to baking cookies and making gingerbread houses. I see the richness in her family, and try to incorporate some of that in my own family. They even had one day during the school year where her dad let them skip school for a day to go on the annual skip-school-to-go-fishing-with-dad-on-a-weekday outing. She has great memories of this.
Other outings with your homeschool child might be trips to the zoo or local wildlife park. Animals like the cool weather, and you will see many of them active in their exhibits. Consider field trips that would be miserably hot during the summer during this time of year as well, the example I can think of is visiting the local battle ship. Wow, a battleship is an extremely miserable place to visit in the heat of the summer!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Art and home education

We talked about including music in your homeschool curriculum last time. This time I would like to encourage you to use art in your homeschool program. Some of the same things apply, cost of a private teacher would be a good example. But, just like there were ways to get around that in music, there are ways to get around that in art.
As part of my child’s core curriculum, the company offers an art program, Time4Art. It is basically an art appreciation program. It introduces my daughter to color, texture, different art techniques, art history, and the art of the great masters.
The reality is that my daughter has taken this course two times already, and is taking it a third time. It is the same course, yet as she gets older, and gains more knowledge in other areas, she finds new things within the program to learn. Just as her own art work grows and changes over time as she learns new techniques, taking the course again lets her put new things into practice, and recognize various artist by their techniques.
Last year, in addition to the online course, my daughter took group art lessons. These were very reasonably priced through our local art council. The price for a month was about equal to the cost of one private lesson session. There are other online courses to consider as well. Do a little search on the internet for online lessons, or pictures of great works of art. Maybe do a study of a sculptor or painter, let your child try to mimic their techniques and use of materials.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Music and home education

Music is a great thing to add to your homeschool curriculum. I know, music lessons are expensive, and might require an outside tutor. But music provides so many benefits to a child, and it doesn’t have to include an outside tutor, even if you are not musically inclined yourself.
First let me tell you about a few of the benefits of music. Students who have music instruction do better on standardized tests. They show better reason abilities, and they tend to do better in math. Additionally, students who have regular music instruction learn discipline, the value of practice, and commitment. Any or all of those benefits make considering including music as part of your homeschool program worth the investment.
Speaking of investment, music teachers are expensive! Yes, I know that. But the benefits of music do not have to be gained from individual, private lessons from doctoral candidates from the local university. Students who participated in music appreciation courses also showed benefits to some extent. Consider studying a composer, his life, his times, and his music. Go on the internet and listen to his compositions. Discuss the music, and what it made your child think of or feel.
Some communities have free concerts and even reduced rates on matinee orchestra performances. Any exposure to good music is a good thing!