17 October 2016

Back in the Saddle

Another new year is underway. I can't believe this is the beginning of our tenth year of homeschooling. That's right. TENTH!!! Where have the years gone???

K is in 8th grade, but working on her first few high school credits this year, including a half credit in Spanish! I'm so proud of her. It's like something clicked in her when the words "high school" were muttered, and she does so much more without me having to constantly remind her.

H is really coming out of her shell this year. She's taking a performance-heavy load of classes at our co-op, including worship dance, hand bell choir, and choir. She really seems to be enjoying them all, too. She's come a long way from the girl who picked gymnastics over dance because gymnastics didn't have a recital!

And then there's the little guy. J is beginning kindergarten. In addition, he's taking tae kwon do, a science class called Growing Up Wild, a music and movement class, and Lego club. Most weeks he doesn't really want to be dropped off, but he's getting better at it all the time.

 I really can't wait to see what the year brings in terms of development for all three of them!

31 May 2016

Strengths and Weaknesses

I'm always talking to people about teaching children to their strengths. Learning styles are so important to me, and I'm always striving to find what works for the students I'm teaching, whether they're mine or someone else's. No child left behind - in working form! 

But the thing that doesn't get talked about as much are the PARENTS' strengths and weaknesses. I've read about how it's just as important as a teacher to know your learning style and your strengths as it is to know those of the students.

Well, for my first Truthful Tuesday, I'm here to confess that I'm well aware of my strengths and weaknesses. And they are not all strengths, I assure you!

I am a planner. I love everything planning! My husband always tells me how I like to plan to do things, just not do them. And there is certainly a whole lotta truth in those words! I am constantly planning how I want to organize my school stuff! See Exhibit A:

I will also admit that on warm, humid, sunny days I would MUCH rather be working on the OUTSIDE of the house than the INSIDE of the house. See Exhibit B:

As far as my learning style goes, I see some traits that are similar to each of the girls. I Iike to read and watch videos and take notes. I use colors on my notes because my memory is visual. I talk to myself when trying to understand a difficult concept because saying it and hearing it helps me to get it. Sometimes having music in the background helps or I like to bounce ideas and facts off other people. Sometimes, you need to leave me alone so I can concentrate. 

Fortunately, my malleable, moldable kids have proven to me time and again that they are totally fine learning in an environment with less organization and more outdoors. The differences and similarities in our personal learning styles and strengths and weaknesses have not created too much of a hindrance. 

The girls and I just went for a walk tonight, which ended up turning into some science education about ants and chimps and research as a career. 

So while my learning style and my strengths and my weaknesses might be different than those of my children, I've become quite proficient at making it work so everyone is happy. And after all, knowing is half the battle.

05 January 2014

My Home Management Binder Project #2

Rather than drone on and on about my household binder, I figured I would do a post that was mostly pictures. My binder is still a work in progress, so I'll probably have one more post once I finish tweaking the binder to work for me the way it should. If you missed part one, check it out to see what this is all about!

Winter is a horrible time to try to find a pencil pouch for a binder! I looked around at Target, Walmart, and Office Depot. Each place only had one or two options. Rather than settle, I decided to look up how to make one with duct tape. This one was super quick and easy to make. I used a gallon-sized freezer bag and duct tape. I think it only took me 10 minutes, and if I find one that I love when the back-to-school season is in full swing, I won't feel like I wasted a lot of money on this one!

I'm still in the note-taking stage of my routines. We're going to be moving in a couple months, so I'm hesitant to solidify anything just to have it change under the circumstances of a new house. In the meantime, I've jotted down my workout and laundry routines. Those are less likely to change!

On the back of my Finance divider, I put in a copy of the all-important steps to financial freedom. I'm hoping it serves as a great reminder each month as I'm paying bills.

I've added a temporary section with all things moving. We have things we have to do to our current home as well as things to prepare for the move. The binder is fantastic at keeping it all in one place!

What are your plans for reorganizing your life in 2014?

02 January 2014

Why I Encourage Screen Time

To be (plugged in) or not to be. That is the question.

All parents are faced with it. Until recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that screen time should be limited to two hours per day. With so many educational avenues that are screen-based, I've always found that to be an undesirable goal in our home. And our children have never suffered because of it.

As an infant, K used to love to watch Baby Einstein videos. If she was seemingly inconsolable, we could put her in her bouncy seat and turn on Baby Mozart (if I was in charge) or Baby Bach (my husband's choice) and she would stop crying as soon as the caterpillar appeared. It was like magic. Once she was a toddler, she graduated to some of the other videos, such as Baby Neptune and Baby MacDonald. The first time she laughed spontaneously at something other than funny faces or being tickled, it was during one of the Baby Einstein puppet shows. Not only was it cute, but I knew she was learning. Colors, shapes, animal names and sounds...

After that, it was Leap Frog's The Letter Factory and Talking Words Factory. She also learned how to use the computer to play on Starfall. Did we regret all of her screen time? Did we do a disservice to her? Absolutely not! In fact, by the time she was four years old, she was reading Dick and Jane books. She continued to play her games and watch her shows, soaking in all the knowledge about rainforest animals that Diego had to offer!

H was usually by her side. In addition to what K was watching, H also gravitated toward reading shows. Her favorites were Word World and Super Why! Even now, as "tweens," they still occasionally watch Martha Speaks and Word Girl, which are both excellent for their vocabulary.

Now that I once again have a toddler in the house, things have not changed. J has his favorite shows, too. He likes Blue's Clues and Team Umizoomi. Team Umizoomi is his favorite, by far. At two years old, he is always counting and sorting. He sees the shapes that comprise everyday objects. He has learned all of his letters, shapes, colors, and numbers by playing iPad and iPhone apps. I set my phone down one day and was shocked to see him pick it up, find Netflix, and start watching Super Why!

Do I limit screen time at all? In a way, yes, but not with a clock. The kids aren't allowed to watch things like Sponge Bob. We monitor movies they watch. They have chores to complete. We encourage them to turn off Minecraft and play with their toys once in a while.

If I felt for a second that watching television and playing video games was interfering with their ability to learn and grow, I would absolutely unplug them. But that is not the case in our house. At least not at this point in time. So we will continue to allow it until we feel differently.

How does "screen time" look in your house? What rules do you have governing the television/computer/iPad?