Thursday, August 19, 2010

Even More of "My" Best Homeschooling Tips

Alrighty then, are you done implementing all the tips I gave you in the last post? 
Of course you're not - and that leads right in to my next tip. By the way, I'd like some bonus points for this one because it's mine-all-mine (as far as I can remember.....)

(6) As avant-garde home educators, with internet access, library cards, magazine subscriptions, cable (I wish!), amazon one-clicks, email loops, and cutting-edge blogs (ahem....) - information surrounds us. And homeschooling moms are all about knowledge. Curious is our middle name. We want answers (preferably without having to pay extra for the answer key.) 

That's all good, but we need to be sure we give ourselves ample time between all that knowledge-seeking to apply some of the great stuff we're learning. Maybe before we check out another how-to book or drive to another workshop, or read another blog (except mine....My blog is immune to this tip) we should make time to do a few of the things we heard about in the last book, blog, or workshop.  Inspiration is meant to arouse some sort of activity.

OK, enough for the heavy-hitting, conviction-laden, Nazi-Blogger talk. Here are a few practical ideas that I really like. 

(7) Instead of just assigning books for your child to read this year, give them a little ownership in the process. Make a pile, including nature study books, biographies, character-building fiction (Lamplighter books),and books heavy on geography (like the Holling C. Holling series), and let them choose five. Or take turns choosing. Your son picks the short one with mostly pictures, then you get to pick the next one :)

(8) This goes along with #7, and I think I remember seeing this idea on the Ambleside Online site. And if you want to totally ignore #6, you could spend some serious knowledge-gathering, inspiration-seeking time on the Ambleside Online site. I'm not saying don't go there. I'm saying go there. But don't go until you're ready and able to apply some of what you'll learn there.

Instead of making a list of the books your child reads this year, make a color copy of each  book's cover when they've completed their reading. It's really fun to look back and reminisce about the contents and to decide if you really could judge that book by it's cover.  For you overachiever-mommies, you could even have your younger children give you an oral narration to be written at the bottom or back of the copy. For older students, the copied cover can be placed in a page protector and a book summary can be slipped behind it. Won't that be impressive in this year's portfolio?!

(9) Here's something I learned years ago (that I APPLIED - because I learned #6 the hard way...).
Instead of being an eager-beaver starter this year, why not begin with just one or two subjects the first week, then when those are going well - and you have a realistic idea of how long they will take - add a few more?  So many times we start the first day enthusiastically with a full schedule, only to experience burn-out on Day Two. Did you know that private schools get most of their inquiry calls (from homeschoolers calling anonymously) during the first week of school? (I made that up. But it could be true!)

(9b) Daily consistency - if only for short periods of time- gets far better long-term results than trying to work for six hours once every two or three months when the mood strikes. A few subjects done thoroughly and consistently is better than many subjects done half-heartedly and occasionally.

(10) Here's a tip by J'Aime Ryskind, Homeschooling Today, March/April 1999. (I told you I was overdue to clean out my files...)  I struggle to apply this, but very much appreciate the theory.
"Once the child has completed his portion of the work for the day, let him stop. It may take him only ten or fifteen minutes to read a chapter of his book or do a page of math you've assigned. If he has done the work correctly and neatly (always insist on that), he is finished. The child is rewarded for working accurately and efficiently by being able to do what he wants to do - practice music, play ball, putter with computers, read, invent, draw, imagine, daydream - the rest of the day."

I would add a caveat to Ms. Ryskind's admonition. Some children can't handle large amounts of free time. They tend to bother a child who isn't quite finished, or nag their mom for snacks, or nag their mom for Wii time, or gravitate towards the same activity day after day (and it's usually a borderline-approved activity).
At the beginning of each school year I like to make a list, with the help of the children, of lots of different free-time choices. The children know that anything on that list is mom-approved.  If it's an activity that needs permission (or involves food, paint, or fire), I put a * by it and they know to ask first. Seeing the list of ideas, which includes things like Knex and Lincoln Logs, paper dolls, stamping, sidewalk chalk, jumping on the trampoline, listening to a story tape, rollerblading, lizard hunting (as long as they don't show mom their 'catch'), chess, taking digital photos (with the old camera...), and writing thank you notes (Now that's a popular choice!)

OK, On your mark, get set, Apply! :)


Cathy said...

Last year we had so much going on personally that 9b did not happen, it was quite the opposite (we were Goofus in the homeschooling cartoon version of this one!)...

Hopefully by the end of this year we can complete the cartoon and offer up an illustration of Gallant! ; ) I've focused in on a few subjects for each child that we will focus on, and if they get done we will move on to the things Mommy LIKES to do. : ) I need a carrot too!

You are a blessing, and I agree with are one of the women who I will look back on as people who helped me stay the course by sharing their hearts. I hope you two friends are enjoying one another's sweet company! I prayed you'd encourage one another greatly last night!

Laura said...

#7 - check! Working on the rest.

brite said...

1999...that would mean I was finished with school by then. True confessions: it used to bug the you- know-what-out of me to be finished with math, only to be told "Great! Go do another lesson!" Some kids need goals and like to meet them with a reward of being finished at the end. Live and learn...firstborns are guinea pigs!

We are sort of applying the "add a few new things each day" principle to our "school" schedule. (I probably got it by osmosis from you.) It's also helping me to see- before we're really into a full schedule- how much time everything really takes, so I can adjust as needed. I've realized I need more time for chores while my kids are young, because I am still doing the bulk of things.

I'm going to pass on your blog tips to Christina, who is having a Homeschool Bloggy Conference this week. I can tell you are more at home (no pun intended) and in your element homeschooling than you've been the last few years. Glad you are starting out excited (and realistic).

Debbie @ Cheaper By the Bakers Dozen said...

Brite! You should've told me (and I there's a slim chance I might have even listened :)

There are two camps on this issue -One believes your child should work a certain amount of time and go forward as far as they can (two math books in one year....) and the other is the one I posted. It's only taken me 11 children to find out which camp I'm in. I'm a big believer in (directed) free time. Too bad you didn't stick around long enough to benefit :)

I love you dearly and am thrilled to have my grandchildren home educated by my sweet guinea pig :)
Love, MOM

Book Lover said...

I love the idea of taking a copy of the front of the book for a memory. I've never heard this idea before.
Thanks for gentle reminders and overviews of great HS wisdom!

Lynn said...

I love the idea of taking a copy of the front of the book (in addition to keeping a running list of books read). Great idea!
Thanks for the reminders and your overviews of great HS wisdom.

brite said...

In your defense, you were a Pioneer Homeschooler back then. The world was flat, A Beka and Konos were your only options, and everyone was memorizing the 21 Rules of This House. I think I can forgive you. :)

And I guess the photocopying book covers would work better for chapter books...I was all excited about it until I realized how thick our notebook would, full of 25 page books. :)

Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen said...

Oh, Brite, definitely copy some of the easy readers and picture books you are reading to your kids (the cutest kids on earth!)

The best part will be letting them narrate to you, writing it up, and putting it on the back or bottom of the copy. They will love looking back on those. Just do one or two a month to keep your notebook a reasonable size :) I SO wish I would've done this when ya'll were younger. I think it's one of the best ideas I've ever stolen :)

Kathryn said...

I just started reading your blog..heard you speak at the Homescooling Curriculum thing back in May...we just started homeschooling..Pat made me laugh and you made me cry..that is a compliment though. The story you told about wanting to stop the "homework" and go help a neighbor rake his yard made me want to homeschool even more! So now that I am reading your blog and have totally now stolen some of your ideas (one of your quotes about spontaneity is quoted on my FB page..and I gave you credit) I am wondering what do I do now about all the paper you are creating for me in my files...I've printed your last two posts off...that doesn't seem right does it :)

Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen said...

Kathryn, Welcome! And it's great that you're printing off my posts! (...and I'm seriously thinking of printing off your comment :)

The key is to keep what inspires us, apply it until it becomes second-nature- or until it's accomplished its purpose - and then go on to something else (maybe even throwing out the paper it was printed on.)

Feel free to FB me and ask to be my friend. I'd do it first, but I couldn't get any info on exactly which Kathryn you are. You're a Mystery Kathryn :)

Dayna said...

Thank you again! This is helpful, even with a graduate and only four left. I need to be reminded of things I haven't put to use in a while. We're still compiling our curriculum for the year. (I say "still", but I mean "just beginning".) Gabriela's science was the first to arrive, and she's ready. I've struggled with starting a little at a time, but I know it'll be a good way to start - especially since we won't move into our house for two more weeks, and all of our other books are in storage.

The list of free-time activities is a good idea. I've done this in the past. Thanks for the reminder. I'll have to update those lists. I don't think Gabriela or Graham will find the Little Tykes art easel to be a fascinating middle school activity.