Monday, April 30, 2012

MassHOPE

We have just returned from a terrific time at a local homeschool convention, MassHOPE.  We always enjoy this convention with its many fabulous workshops and venders.  This year was no exception and there were some new opportunities to check out.  This was the first year the convention included talks the night before the convention.   These were talks that were more for new to, or those exploring the possibility of homeschooling.  But even to me they were very encouraging.  They were a good reminder of why we chose to and are still home educating today.  This year we took Matt along with us.  Being his first year of high school we knew there would be many opportunities for him to explore a bit on his own, and could sit in on some very informative talks.  He was thrilled that his favorite math teacher, via DVD, would be one of the speakers.  Steve Demme has been a part of our schooling now for thirteen years, through his Math U See program.  I highly recommend this wonderful hands on math curriculum that begins at the very beginning and continues on through Calculus.  Matt loves math so this was a must go to workshop for him.  Mr. Demme gave his talk as if he were teaching a class.  Matt was called on to answer some math problems, which he was excited to have answered correctly.  After the talk he spoke with Mr. Demme who graciously gave him a small devotional he had written, which he autographed.  This was just one of the many highlights.

I very much enjoyed a few talks by Diana Waring, who writes  history curriculum which includes the curriculum What in the World's Going on Here?  We have many of her history CDs.  Years ago Holly was inspired by her messages and that's one of the reasons she chose history as her major.  I was happy to share this with Mrs. Waring and she said that really encouraged her to hear.

I am always so encouraged by these wonderfully, gifted speakers. It however, was neat to let them know how much they have meant to us over the years, even if it is only through their media. But to be able to tell them in person how much we appreciate them was really fun for me. And They appreciated hearing that. So if you get to go hear one of your favorite speakers in person, let them know how much you have been encouraged by them. They are human like us and enjoy being encouraged as well.

Happy Homeschooling!

Mr. Demme autographs his book for Matt.

Matt and his Math teacher, Steve Demme

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What About Toddlers?

I had the wonderful opportunity of homeschooling while I had a toddler.  I know this is the adventure that many homeschoolers are now embarking.  Although it is a wonderful time, I can remember that it is also a stressful time.  Just as you get your older children ready to begin their school work, your toddler comes on the scene with many needs.  This is very normal.  My toddler had the tendency to climb up into the middle of the table to see what his brother and sister were working on.  I took this to mean that he wanted to be a part of it too.  And why not?  He was curious and just wanted to learn as well.  Children at this age have a brain like a sponge.  You just can't keep up with all that they are learning.  This is really a blessing.  I have found a great way to help a toddler learn is to involve him in everything that was going on.  If big brother is doing a lesson at the table,  little guy can join in with his own crayons and coloring sheet.  Pull up a high chair or booster seat and let him join in on the fun.  Or set up his own little table to work at with fun things to play with.

Another thing toddlers love is mixing and dumping.  This could be water, sand, rice or perhaps a baking project with mom.  Once the older children are busy, pull a chair up to the counter for your toddler to stand on and have him help you make a yummy snack for the family.

I am blessed to have a toddler around again.  My busy toddler is pretty much grown, and is in ninth grade.   But my daughter is a Nanny for our neighbor's two year old grandson.  She brings him to our house for lunch and other times of the day for a visit.   While my daughter and son study for a while, (my daughter is working on a history degree through College Plus! a post for another day), I entertain little guy for a short time.  Yesterday he was a bit demanding and wouldn't settle with his toys, so I told him to grab a chair and pull it up to the counter so that we could make some banana bread.  This thrilled him and so our adventure began.  As you can see it turned out to be a wonderful time for him, I had fun as well.  And he enjoyed eating the finished product.  It is wonderful to teach toddlers.  I just love it.
Happy Homeschooling!

Mashing bananas

Counting eggs while snacking on mashed bananas.

Yummy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Working With Strengths

    If you're like me you might feel the stresses of wondering if you've taught your children enough over the past school year.  When I look back  I know my children have worked hard in many different areas all year long.  I know this because they have grown in the strengths that God has put into them.  "Train up a child in the way he should go..."  God has given each of my children strengths and it is my job to train them up in these areas.  I was reminded of this recently with my son, while working on history.  We have been studying the medieval time period using the curriculum I purchased a few years ago from "Beautiful Feet".   My daughter loved every minute of it.  She read every book, finished the research projects and completed the timeline.   But my son has not enjoyed it the way his sister had.  I have been reading the books along with him and helping him more than I needed to help my daughter.  He confessed that he really didn't find it very much fun and I was sad that history wasn't exciting to him.  Then I decided to work with his strengths.   The lessons can be tweaked for every student.  So I asked him what he would like to do to help him enjoy history more and he decided it would be fun to build a crossbow that was like the type the knights would have used in this time period.  He loves wood working  and he loves weaponry history so I agreed.  This worked out wonderfully for him.  I encouraged him to research the weapons of the time period as well as read, and design a plan before he could make the project.  When he finished his crossbow he was thrilled.  The best part was it really worked!  He learned more with this hands on project than he would have by reading a story about it.

I have learned over the years that it is better to work with my children's strengths than to try to force them into a mold that they just don't fit into.   Happy Homeschooling!


Building

Shooting

The finished project.