How To Use Writing To Learn Thinking

I’ve always wanted my kids to be thinkers, not the sort of people who can be led around by the nose by advertisers, politicians, and people in authority. I have been homeschooling since 2003 and my two oldest boys are now 19 and 18 respectively.  They are thinkers.  So I’m going to tell you now how to use writing to learn thinking.  It’s not as hard as it sounds. You do this: Have the child summarize information he’s read into his own words. Write down the summary. Give his opinion of the reading. But the process takes years so here’s the progression in more detail. Start with Narration Narration is an effective technique to use with younger students, up to about 4th grade or until your child can write comfortably on her own. It’s also really simple and requires no preparation for the teacher. All you do is read aloud a … click to read more

Teaching Kids to Write a Story

Teaching kids to write a story is about a lot more than just saying, okay let’s all write a story.  Real authors plan their plots, think about their character’s motivations, think about character roles, create a world, and begin with a problem and a solution to that problem before they ever start to write.  Even if much of that happens in their heads.  It’s these tools, this knowledge about planning, that makes for a real writer. For years now I’ve felt frustrated that we give kids substandard tools when asked to perform tasks.  We hand them dinky, kid sized hammers when they build their first bird house.  They get gifted these cheapo brushes and horrible watercolor trays to learn to paint with.  We even hand them stupid plastic knives and then tell them to practice cutting up vegetables, as if it’s even possible. No wonder so many kids feel talent-less. … click to read more

Quadrama

Have you ever made a quadrama?  I try to fill our home school with lots of projects to make the learning as memorable as possible. . . always looking for things that stick in their minds!  We do lots of reading and I have my kids make book projects of their choice about the things they read.  Today my daughter finished reading Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne (we love the Magic Treehouse series!).  It was time for a book project!  {Oh, and to find out more about book projects and other things we do to encourage reading at our house, go take a peek at our Bookworms page.} She decided to craft a quadrama for her project since a pyramid is the perfect shape for a book about Egyptian pyramids.  She loved the project so much though, that I predict many more quadramas in our future, whether … click to read more

Old School Spelling

Every single one of the English topics we study has been approached higgeldy piggledy from the very beginning, and that includes spelling.  Recently, like two weeks ago, recently, we went back to doing old school spelling.  We start with a pre-test on Monday, practice all week, and then have a test on Friday. My kids, shockingly, are loving it.  In fact, I asked Isaac what homeschool thing we’ve done lately that he likes (in hopes of inspiration for a post) and he said “spelling”.  I pressed him for why he would say spelling.  Does any kid ever say, “You know what I really liked today?  It was my spelling practice.”   No, they do not.  He couldn’t give me a reason so I am forced to speculate. Old School Spelling We’re using this ancient little brown speller that was written for one-room schoolhouses back in 1928.  It smells strongly of … click to read more

Travel Diaries

Travel Diaries

The inspiration for these travel diaries that I’m doing with my kids right now are based on a few truisms in my personal life. I loath crafts.  LOATH them. If we have a craft scheduled into our day, I will put it off until last and then find a way to not have to do it.  To me they are not fun, they are stressful.  Crafts with kids are something akin to getting your teeth drilled at the dentist, except the dentist really isn’t that bad. Karen and I were talking about that the other day.  Do you know that if she has a craft scheduled to do with her kids she actually has to exert self control to make herself make them wait till their seat work is done?  They use the craft as a reward.  I know.  Crazy. Also, I realize that Karen and I have created a curriculum that … click to read more

History Detective

Try out this history detective approach for your next history lesson.  Let your kids sleuth out the truth about a historical event. I’m a big believer in keeping a historical framework and teaching the history of the world in the order it happened, but that doesn’t mean my kids have zero choices when it comes to learning.  Each unit we do has all kinds of events that happened during that time period.  I almost always sit down with my kiddos as we start a unit and we glance through it together.  They choose some explorations and books they are interested in and we begin to form a unit.  As my kids get older (I’ve got a middle schooler and a high schooler now), I want them to do more of their own research and independent learning instead of relying so much on our read alouds and discussions.  Don’t get me … click to read more

Homeschooling an Extrovert

Public school is tailored quite well for extroverts, but homeschool can provide a unique challenge for an extroverted kid.  Extroverts get energy from people, so being home and quietly tending to the tasks of schoolwork can feel draining for an extrovert.  While your introverted child will sit quietly with a book, doing research, and writing thoughts out, your extrovert will likely struggle with the monotony of these quiet tasks.  They’ll likely long for the social life of public school. My husband is an extreme extrovert.  Me?  An ambivert – smack dab in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum.  I have two extroverted kids and two ambiverts like me.  My particular flavor of ambivert is that I like having a changing, stimulating environment, thrive in discussions, and enjoy group gatherings, but I also crave calm, peaceful, alone time and have an intense need for things to be organized and in their … click to read more

Homeschooling An Introvert

homeschooling the introverted child

I am the parent of six introverts.  I am strongly introverted so it’s no surprise that my kids are too.   Homeschooling an introvert is, in general, easier than homeschooling extroverts.  This is because two of the hallmarks of introverts are quietness and a desire to be at home.  Your extroverted children may clamor to go to school for the social life, but your introverted children will probably be much more content with the homeschool lifestyle.  Still there are a few pitfalls of this personality type that the homeschooling parent should watch for. What is an Introvert? An introvert needs quiet, alone time to recharge and feel comfortable and content.  Too much stimulus from their environment and they are going stir-crazy.  It’s like the opposite of cabin fever. Introverts are not necessarily shy.  Shyness is a fear of what other people think and say about you (or what you think they … click to read more

Playing Store For Math

Learning about money is about more than just knowing what each coin and bill are worth, it’s about actually using money confidently to do everyday things.  Money is of course used primarily in financial transactions, especially when we go to the store.  So playing store for math makes sense. I’ve been doing math intervention, going back over basic principles of arithmetic with all four of my younger kids, because the older two were struggling with algebra.  You can read more about our math intervention. Money Basics First of all, kids need to know the basics.  You should learn or review these things before you begin this lesson. Names and values of coins and bills How to count money amounts How to count money amounts using different coins, like making 75 cents with 3 quarters or making 75 cents with 7 dimes and a nickle. How to make change.  The video … click to read more

Circuit Training With Kids

Circuit training with kids can be fun for them and you. The stations are short and the pace varies, keeping the interest of kids for the duration. I started doing circuit training with my kids this spring because three of them had Boy Scout merit badges or achievements they were working on for physical fitness.  The first day they whined a bit, but by the end of that first workout they were hooked. Here’s what we do First of all we have five stations each day because there are five of us, the four kids and me.  Then we rotate through the stations. Each rotation takes about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. We vary the stations each day. But every day includes the running portion, that’s a given. The time for each rotation depends on the runner.  When the runner gets done with his course, we move to the next … click to read more