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! :)