Archives for March 2012

How you think is more important than what you know.

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

A note from Jamie: I’ve been thinking about this post and its message recently. It originally published on March 21, 2011. Hope you enjoy it!

We live in a distracted world. So do our kids. Information rapidfires at us from multiple directions, faster than we can process it. In fact, it’s impossible to process it all anyway.

When it comes to education, we’re encouraged to focus our efforts on the skills our kids need to learn: how to read, how to write, the five paragraph essay.

Check, check, check.

“Oh no, Stacey can’t read yet?”

“Uh oh, no multiplication tables memorized?”

The foundation of our school system, back when it originated, centered around having children learn these specific skills.

But the world has changed. If we want to send our kids off with the best chance for a full and fruitful life, we must change too.

The transformation we need to make starts in our heads, with the more than 10,000 thoughts trickling through it each day.

Teaching our children to think is the key. Here’s how.
[Read more…]

Weekend Links

The winner of the Oak Meadow giveaway from yesterday is Jennifer Tuminaro. Congratulations! If you didn’t win, take time to check out Oak Meadow’s creative homeschooling curricula. We have really enjoyed their inspiring resources in our home.

“Education is one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.”
~ Bertrand Russell

Weekend Giveaway: Oak Meadow

This giveaway has now ended. Thanks for entering!

I am especially happy to welcome you to this weekend’s giveaway as it is a resource and company that has enriched my family’s personal homeschool journey–Oak Meadow Curriculum and School.

Their uniquely creative curriculum includes:

·         Creative, artistic assignments for all learning styles
·         Lessons integrated across subject areas for added relevance
·         Flexible weekly lesson plans to accommodate travel, artistic and athletic pursuits
·         A choice of assignments to encourage meaningful student involvement
·         Adaptable for different grade levels in different subjects
·         Print-based and online alternatives

Oak Meadow’s philosophy of education is founded on the following principles of learning:
[Read more…]

Finding a Happy Medium

Contributor Amida writes for Journey into Unschooling

My friends and I were recently lamenting the end of our carefree days. It used to be that the group of us met up at the zoo or park every single week to play. This was when all our oldest were 7-years-old.

Seven years later, they are swamped with extracurricular activities and more rigorous curriculum, making it almost impossible to schedule a regular, weekly get-together just for fun.

The saddest part is that the younger kids in the group end up with the short end of the stick and never really get to experience that playtime that their older brothers and sisters did. In most cases, they end up tagging along to classes or worst, are left to fend for themselves as we work with the older ones on their algebra or science.

With high school looming ahead, the days of weekly play dates slip away from us even more. Even for those of us striving to attain a more free range education, it’s not always easy to ignore the pursuit of academics so ingrained within us.

We want the best of both worlds — one without institutionalized schooling and standards shoved down our throats and still be considered as “educated” as the next traditionally schooled grad. We want to be accepted into the best colleges. We want our kids to succeed in real life and somehow, in our minds, the two are directly related to each other.

I think as homeschoolers, and especially homeschooling parents, we are often left with a sense of guilt, no matter what we do. Whichever end of the spectrum we fall on, we’re either not doing enough for our kids or over-committing them.

If we follow a rigorous curriculum, we are depriving them of a carefree childhood and ruining their lives. If we don’t, we are not preparing them properly for the “real world” and ruining their lives. In my own experience, I often feel a need for my children to get more done and be up to standards, or I have ultimately failed.

Photo by scui3asteveo

Coincidentally, this feeling of pressure usually manifests itself around testing or reporting time.  Does this need to constantly prove ourselves mean that, as our older children climb up the academic ranks, we instantly have to give up on fun as more time is needed for serious study? I don’t know about you, but, even with a teenager in tow, I am unwilling to put away the finger paints just yet.

Lately, as I chauffeur the kids back and forth between their extra curricular activities, I find myself fantasizing about a different sort of routine. One without commitments. No attendance sheets to turn in. No classes to hurry off to. No assignments to complete. No tests to study for. No accountability.

But I can’t let it go. At least not all of it. I’ve come to realize that while the idea of an academia-free childhood fascinates me, it doesn’t really suit our family, at least not all of the time. We strive more towards a happy medium.

My children are still in this great experiment known as homeschool, so I don’t have all the answers. We may not get to play everyday nor are we always able to figure out at what time two trains leaving opposite stations at varying speeds will cross paths.

We don’t know what a hydrostatic skeleton is, or how to conjugate Latin verbs. But luckily, Google does. And if we really needed to know, we will figure it out.

As our family evolves from one child to four, so does our homeschool. I can rest assured knowing that one day (or week or month) does not determine our success as homeschoolers.

I am confident that, whether we spend any given day playing with LEGOs or cranking out 500 word essays, it will most probably all turn out ok in the end. I may forget often but hopefully, I can come to savor the days, as varied and imperfect as they be, and remind myself that it’s not all or nothing.

Today may just find us at home and frantically trying to cram for the algebra exam, but come tomorrow, we are going to the zoo.

Have you found your happy medium?

4 Ways to Simplify (Home) School Meals

Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats

Over the last six weeks, I’ve been reevaluating our homeschool. At the turn of the year, I found myself more than ready for a do over. So, I set my sights on an extreme homeschool makeover.

We’ve made some great progress. It took a little while to iron out the wrinkles and get my bearings. I purchased some new curriculum, spent every waking moment for a month reading about homeschooling, and generally put family stuff as top priority. You should have seen my inbox! I ignored everything until I knew we were on a better track.

(And it felt really good to make sure that my day job got the best of me.)

One of the best things I’ve figured out was that I’m not very good at multi-tasking during the school day. If I try to do anything else, I’m liable to get distracted (at best) or completely derailed (at worst). So I developed a time budget for our school days that is really helping me feel a little more on top of my game.

A little.

I’ve got a set block of time in each day devoted to each child. It’s a wonderful time for me to reconnect with each of these sweet people without distractions. And the days are flowing so much more smoothly! Everyone is productive and feeling good about their accomplishments.

One of the things that seems to come up every single day, however, the one thing that has the potential to derail our days is, well, that thing about eating. Ya just gotta eat, dontcha?
[Read more…]

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