• Homeschooling Styles

    by Published on 09-07-2015 11:16 AM
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    2. Homeschooling Styles,
    3. Parenting
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    You would think homeschooling your second-born would be a given if you are homeschooling your first, right? But even though the special needs of my oldest had necessitated him getting his education at home, I didn’t really consider it for my active, happy five year old (who I’ll call “P”). Yes, he was quite speech-delayed, but he had a lot of ear infection troubles as a toddler, and our ped always attributed the delay to that. So with speech therapy and a half-day kindergarten program, we felt like we were right on track with P.

    Until we weren’t.

    Only three weeks into the school year, P became lost on a school field trip. He had simply wandered off from the group - - something we had dealt with multiple times in the past, and had again attributed to simple causes. Thankfully, he turned up just down the road from his group, but a couple months into the school year, the speech delays just weren’t improving much, and P was getting frustrated at not being able to communicate well with his peers and teachers. And following Christmas, we were having an unexpected sit-down with the school therapist who felt at the minimum he was likely to have dyslexia, and at the maximum, well...just might be on the Autism Spectrum.

    So, upon finishing the one and only school year he ever partook in, we brought P home to be educated at home with his older bro. To boil down the rest of our homeschooling story, I’ll break it down into some major highlights. (And when you read these, do NOT interpret them in any way as advice, but rather just personal choices I/we made which felt right at the time)

    • Because we were homeschooling, I never felt the need to go through an official diagnosis protocol. As his mom, I’m 99% sure he’s has ASD, but we’ve never applied for special services or even acted as if there were anything he couldn’t accomplish because of his unique differences
    • ASD affected just about every aspect of homeschooling P - - from curriculum choices, to schedules,
    by Published on 08-31-2015 02:33 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Homeschooling Styles,
    3. General Homeschooling,
    4. Curriculum
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    I'm Becky, mom of 5 kiddos through adoption, foster, and birth. Because we have such a mixture of cultures in our house (China, Ethiopia, Mexico, US) I began to look for ways to celebrate our heritages and learn about world celebrations, cuisine, etc. I founded KidWorldCitizen.org initially to share ideas with other multicultural and adoptive families. It grew and grew, and now I am happy to share ideas with families and teachers to help kids learn about all world cultures and geography.

    The most common question I get is "How can my kids learn about the world when we don't have the opportunity to travel?"....or "when we live in a homogenous community?"

    Between libraries and the internet there are hundreds of ways we can connect to the world!

    Here are 10 ways you can incorporate culture TODAY into your children's lives- but this is not an exhaustive list! Please add your comments and share ways you learn about the world in your family.

    1) Snuggle up with a book. As parents, we read to our kids all the time. By carefully choosing the books, we can:

    * explore culture in books that feature kids real lives (such as these books about kids in Ethiopia)

    * read books that defy stereotypes by showing more than one side of the story. When studying "Africa," for example, choose a specific country instead of an entire continent. Pick stories from rural and urban settings, in the past and the present, folktales and nonfiction. Often times Africa as a continent is portrayed as vast rural stretches of land with abundant wildlife (which does exist, but is not the whole story). There is a danger to a single perspective or stereotype, and kids should not be surprised to learn about bustling cities, where families live, work, and go to school. These stories show some of the kids who live in South Africa’s different areas and lifestyles..

    * join the Global Read Aloud. This world-wide book club uses Twitter, Skype, Edmodo, their wiki, email, regular mail, Kidblog, Tackk, and any other tools you can think of to make connections and discuss the book. There are several books to choose from, and kids in kindergarten through college can participate!

    2) Feast.
    Searching out restaurants and supermarkets from different cultures has double the benefits: not only will you be exposing her to diverse ingredients and flavors, you also will meet people who the culture. Cook cuisine from around the world with your kids. Aside from dinner, try to find breads, typical snacks or breakfast foods- or desserts!

    3) Become part of the community. Community centers are gathering places in the local community for many ethnic groups and immigrants. We have been welcomed into our local Ethiopian church, who recently invited adoptive families to their Easter feast. The outdoor buffet was brimming with injera and different kinds of wot, and crowds of kids were running around playing basketball, soccer, and visiting the face-painting clown. Our Children's Museum frequently hosts cultural groups and we have made Turkish marbled paper with the Turkish community, and Norwegian hearts at Christmastime. For Chinese New Year, the Chinese Consulate opens their doors for the celebration: dancers, music, games (how many grains of rice can you pick up with chopsticks?) copious amounts of food, and a gallery of photos from China. I have heard parents express their discomfort at being in the minority at such events: step out of your comfort zones and surround yourself with the new culture.

    4) Celebrate! Learn about traditions and customs for festivals, celebrations, holidays, birthdays and select some favorites to celebrate. Start small: research the holidays and find out where the closest celebration is. If possible, attend the event, parade, or party as a family. If there is nothing close-by, re-create it in your home: watch clips on youtube, talk to friends of the same culture to gather details, research it on-line to learn more. Don't stop at home- bring the celebrations to your co-op-- who doesn't love a reason to party? Here's an example lesson plan that I created for preK- elementary school for Chinese New Year.

    5) Learn some new words. Language is such an important part of any culture. If you cannot enroll your child ...
    by Published on 08-17-2015 12:37 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. Homeschooling Styles,
    4. General Homeschooling
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    As I write this tonight, I’m sitting in the ICU waiting area outside an area where the son of one of my best friends is suddenly, unexpectedly, fighting for his life. This friend and I met each other a little over six years ...
    by Published on 07-27-2015 05:32 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. Homeschooling Styles,
    4. General Homeschooling
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    As a former high school English teacher in a traditional New England classroom, a current online elementary and middle school teacher for Time4Writing, and a stay-at-home mommy of two “after-schoolers,” ages 5 and 8, I’ve met my fair share of reluctant writers. I’ve witnessed the struggle and the tears (and even shared them). I may have even been the unintended target of a few misdirected, projectile pencils launched in frustration.

    Well, aside from learning to be very quick on my toes in real-time (I often feel like the Muppet, Swedish Chef), dodging pencils (or chickens), I’ve tried out some simple recipes for the reluctant writer in my own test-kitchens (at home and online)—and fun ones! In turn, I’ve seen the resulting smiles from pride in one’s work and new-found creativity. Now not every tip will be a hole in one (er, um chickie in the pot), but many of them WILL work. For my students—and my children—the short term goal may be just finding and assembling ingredients onto the dish (moving meaningful words onto the page—or screen), but the long term goal, and reward, is becoming a tried and true celebrated chef (a truly confident writer).

    My menu of recipes below will illustrate ways to get from here to there:

    Appetizers are up! Dig in to these pre-writing favorites!

    1. Fish Soup (Let’s go Fishing for Ideas!)
    Set up a small bowl or box on a table. Cut out paper fish templates. The idea is that writers will fish for ideas for any kind of writing activity. You can include rules, such as only being allowed to throw the fish back twice. On the fish, you can include words/ideas or actual topic sentences (depending on your skill/writing goals). For the most reluctant writer, you might choose words or ideas to encourage free-writing in a writing journal. Words on the fish might include: my pet, the beach, the summer, favorite movie, etc. For a more focused writing project, you might choose “the park,” “my friend’s house,” “the kitchen, or “the car ride” as possible settings for a narrative paragraph or essay on the writing prompt, “An important life lesson I learned was….” Alternatively, the fish can include topic sentences for an expository how-to paragraph, such as: “Writing a song is fun and easy to do,” “Minecraft is a challenging game that requires skill,” or “Making loom bracelets is a fun and easy way to pass the time.” The ideas are endless. You can even craft your own fishing poles out of branches collected during a nature walk, using letter magnets as bait and coins taped to the back of each fish.

    2. TED Tartare (Reflect and Respond!)
    If your student is having a hard time brain-storming ideas, how about showing them how screen time can be productive? There are lots of TED talks available on a variety of topics that will interest your less than eager writer. Some of these talks are even given by kids—how inspiring! With just a couple of clicks, you can search for topics that specifically interest your child. Here are a few talks to view together: TED Talks for Kids. Afterwards, have your learner respond by writing about what they learned, reflecting on how they felt inspired, or better yet, writing about what they would say in their own TED talk. Ask, “What are you an expert on?” Have them write that script! Their confidence will soar.

    3. Deep-Fried Debate (Exert your Inner Expert!)
    Don’t even tell your children that this is a pre-writing activity. Many kids just love to talk and have an opinion on EVERYTHING, so hand over the reins and man the spotlight! Here are some topics: where to go on vacation, the best toy, the best book series, the best sea creature, the coolest dinosaur, or what to
    by Published on 07-20-2015 09:54 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. Homeschooling Styles,
    4. General Homeschooling
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    Whenever I mention that I homeschooled my kids all the way through high school, I get looks of disbelief. The most common response is, "I could never do that. I have a hard enough time helping them with their homework. We'd kill each other!" From other homeschoolers I hear, "By the time we hit middle school, I knew I couldn't teach all those subjects, so we sent them to school."

    My response is always, "It's not that hard! It's not bringing the classroom into your home, it's following your child's lead and staying out of the way." Then I get blank stares like I'm speaking a another language. They nod politely and move along.

    I hope I can demystify this type of homeschooling for you and show you just how easy and effective it really is.

    What unschooling?

    John Holt is the go-to man on this topic. He defined it as "not school." We need to erase the school model from our brains and think clearly about how children learn.

    From Holt's book How Children Learn:

    "This is also known as interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic, or self-directed learning. Lately, the term "unschooling" has come to be associated with the type of homeschooling that doesn't use a fixed curriculum. When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. The advantage of this method is that it doesn't require you, the parent, to become someone else—a professional teacher pouring knowledge into child-vessels on a planned basis. Instead you live and learn together, pursuing questions and interests as they arise and using conventional schooling on an "on demand" basis, if at all. This is the way we learn before going to school and the way we ...
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