Category Archives: Parenting

Homeschool Perk #3

Homeschool Perk #3: Family Bonding

top tenI have been writing on a continuing theme over at Heart of the Matter Online for the last few months, with the emphasis being on the many perks of homeschooling. Head on over to Heart of the Matter to read all about it here. While your there, feel free to read through the previous homeschool perks, listed at the bottom of my article on their site. See you there!

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Filed under Encouragement, Life, Parenting

Hey Lady, You’re Over the Line!

angrymob“What line? I don’t see a line.”  This was what I actually spoke out loud less than two weeks ago. I quickly scanned my environment,  naturally seeing nothing but mere spectators. I was after all,  in hot pursuit with my camera in hand, trying to catch a photo of my daughter as she took off from the starting line for the 100 meter race. It was the annual year end Small Christian Schools Track Meet, and I was working hard to capture her energy in motion.

“Excuse me, your standing over the line!”

There it was again. This time I looked more carefully, slightly annoyed that I was going to miss my photo opp. To my horror, I discovered those weren’t mere spectators, but annoyed parents – who happened to all be staring at me,  due to the fact that I was standing  r-i-g-h-t  -i-n- t-h-e- m-i-d-d-l-e  of the runway for the L-O-N-G   J-U-M-P   P-I-T!

Whoops…..

Needless to say, I missed my shot.

We did; however, win the meet!

VCHS Trackmeet 2009

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Filed under Humor, P.E, Parenting

Cogito Ergo Sum

I was asked to write an article pertaining to how I am able to implement critical thinking with a Christian perspective into my homeschool, but before I explain how we do it, I feel I must firstly explain what critical thinking is, and what it is not.

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As a Christian home educator, I find myself constantly thinking about what it is I’m teaching my children. I am after all, their biggest influence. Not only am I responsible for teaching them the three R’s and other academics, I am also responsible for modeling good manners, for helping them develop good work ethics, for demonstrating love, acceptance and forgiveness, and for giving them the skills they need to think for themselves. My focus for this article; obviously, is the latter. What is this critical thinking and how are we able, in this process called homeschooling, to find success in the arena of teaching our kids to think for themselves?

 

Webster defines critical thinking as: the mental process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion .I am speaking of course, of a higher degree of thinking. I am not speaking of merely forming an opinion, but rather to be able to logically support an argument – based on a solidly formed premise. Sound intimidating? Not really, if you have been taught the basics of critical thinking. And what better a place to start the process of critical thinking than with our own faith? How many of us are able to comfortably support an argument about Intelligent Design? How many of us can skilfully use rhetoric to support a creationist world view? Could you hold your own against an individual who holds an opposing evolutionist world view? How about a university professor? Is this a skill you hope your children will one day posses? Is this a skill you value?

critical-thinking-cartoon

Teaching our children to think is probably one of the most important life skills to obtain, and sadly it is often overlooked. It is also not obtained; however, without a serious degree of effort on our part. If you have been learning along side your children in your own homeschool journey, then you will feel quite comfortable with this process. Unfortunately, you can’t teach this skill by handing your child a workbook – though some mind bender exercises (found in a workbook) can definitely help a young brain to stretch its muscle so to speak.

 

I have found the most effective way to teach critical thinking is through discussion. You can pick almost any topic: from mathematical word problems, scientific processes, literary analysis, and creative problem solving – to name a few. Lately, I have been focused on a combination of biblical and scientific fact. More specifically, using the bible alongside a wonderful children’s reference book on intelligent design titled It Couldn’t Just Happen. Many lively discussions can be brought forth as a result of exploring this book together with your children. Your objective should be to simply ask open ended questions. Try not to lead your child in their answers – remember your job is to give them the tools they need to start to think for themselves. Think more of gentle guidance, and less of leading the witness. Help turn over the soil in their young minds, pretty soon they’ll be asking you for the shovel.

shovel

I have also felt the Lord gently guiding me towards what I have coined God’s own World Wide Web – the www here standing for world history, world religion and world view. They are all so closely interrelated, intertwined, and interwoven. Are you seeing the relationship here? I myself am just starting to get the gist of it, but it starts with a foundation of basic critical thinking skills.

 

May God bless you richly in your homeschool journey.

signaturecheryl

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Interview Your Kids: All About Mom

microphone

Madison  Age:9

Paris        Age:12

1. What is something mom always says to you?  

    • M: “Good Morning!”
    • P:  “Please get ready for school”

2. What makes mom happy? 

    • M: “Not complaining when it’s time for school.”
    • P:  “When we do our school work without being asked.”

3. What makes mom sad?  

    • M:  “All kinds of things.”
    • P:  ” Not enough money for fancy clothes.”

4. How does your mom make you laugh?  

    • M: “Her jokes.”
    • P:  “Calling us Alice and BettySue in her Southern voice.”

5. What was you mom like as a child? 

    • M: “I wasn’t in your times – I don’t know!”
    • P:  “Annoying, ’cause she was a little sister.” 

6. How old is your mom?

    • M: “40”
    • P:  “40”

7. How tall is your mom?  

    • M: “Can I measure you?”
    • P:  “5 point 7”

8. What is her favorite thing to do?  

    • M: “Teaching.”
    • P:  “Take photos.” 

9: What does your mom do when your not around? 

    • M: “Works on the computer.”
    • P:  “I’m not there to find out – mostly cleans the house I think.”

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

    • M: “The best teacher.”
    • P:  “Photography.”  

11. What is your mom really good at?  

    • M: “Teaching.”
    • P:  “Photography” 

12. What is your mom not very good at?  

    • M: “Swimming.”
    • P:  “Bulding things.”  

13. What does your mom do for a job?   

    • M: “Homeschools.”
    • P:  “Homeschool.”  

14. What is your mom’s favorite food?  

    • M: “Chicken – ’cause she makes it all the time.”
    • P:  “Sushi?”  

15. What makes you proud of your mom?

    • M: “She’s helpful.”
    • P:  “Being who she is.”  

16: If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? 

    • M: “Tweetie Bird.”
    • P:  “Pennelope Pussy-Cat.” (Pepe le Pew’s girlfriend) 

17. What do you and your mom do together? 

    • M: “Alot.”
    • P:  “Bible time.”  

18. How are you and your mom the same? 

    • M: “We’re both not game people.”
    • P”  “We’re both serious.”  

19. How are you and your mom different?  

    • M: “She’s taller than me.”
    • P:  “She has Facebook and I don’t.”  

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

    • M: “Cause of all the things she does for me.”
    • P:  “When I’m upset, she gives me a hug.”  

21. What does you mom like most about your dad?

    • M: “She loves his humour.”
    • P:  “His sense of humour.” 

22. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go? 

    • M: “Out for dinner with her friends.”
    • P:  ” A clothing shop.”  

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Filed under Humor, Kid Quotes, Life, Parenting

How to Homeschool and Still Have a Life!

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Help! I’m drowning!

Every now and then I like to check in on my blog stats. Blog stats can be both amusing and helpful as they can provide very useful information. The stats can tell you which posts received the most traffic, how many visitors visited your site that day, and my personal favorite: what searches were used that directed someone to stumble upon your site. This morning the following search parameters caught my eye: How to homeschool and still have a life. This one caused me to both relate and laugh out loud!

Surely, most homeschool families can relate. Homeschooling can take on a life of its own. It can become ones lifestyle, can govern ones major decisions, and if one is not careful – it can define who you are. I enjoy homeschooling. I find it challenging yet richly rewarding – yet I do not feel I am defined by it. I’m the type of person that enjoys a challenge and doesn’t mind being stretched – on occasion. However; one does not usually desire being continually stretched; in fact, that can be downright unhealthy.

Unfortunately, some of us can enter a realm that causes us to be just so. We delve ourselves into our homeschooling lifestyle, we eat, breathe and sleep it – right? Isn’t that what a homeschool life entails? A continual life of learning – it takes on a life of it’s own, it is our home it is our school. The answer to this question I believe, is both yes, and no.

reflection

Take time to reflect....

What I mean is, there needs to be a balance between living out a homeschooling lifestyle and maintaining a “life” of our own so to speak. Let’s look at relationships. Relationships are interpersonal, and need to be maintained. This extends beyond the relationships with our children. It extends to our spouse or life partner, it extends to our parents and siblings, and it extends to our close friends. I encourage you to look introspectively and ask yourself who your close friends are. I encourage you to look deeper and evaluate the relationship you have with your husband or wife. How are those relationships doing? Do they exist? Or are they co-existing? These are reflective questions indeed, but I believe they are worth thinking about and maintaining as part of our being able, as homeschooling parents, to “still have a life”.

You may be reading this post and noticing a connection between a healthy homeschooling lifestyle balanced with healthy thriving relationships. Why the emphasis on relationships? Well, I believe that we were not designed to do it all ourselves all of the time. The founding relationship being the one with our creator God, if that is your belief – followed by relationships with our spouses, children, family and friends. It is the strength that we will draw from these relationships that will carry us through the difficult times. The times when we are feeling stretched. The times when we feel we simply do not have a life of our own that exists beyond homeschooling.
busy1I also believe that making time for ourselves is highly relevant to be able to homeschool and still have a life of our own. Some of you may not know what that looks like – this taking care of ourselves. It might even appear selfish. But my experience has told me that it is not only highly relevant, but also a necessary and a very healthy part of “still having a life”. Are we so busy with homeschooling, and meeting learning outcomes, and trying to finish that curriculum, and squeezing in every field trip and extra curricular activity that we cannot take time for ourselves? If so, what kind of example our we displaying to our children? Are we not modeling a life of busyness? 

 
Some of you may be nodding your heads, or are already familiar with the healthy balance needed to be able to homeschool and not completely lose ourselves. However, if any of this is speaking to you personally, I’d encourage you to take stock and evaluate. Which of these elements is blatantly missing in your life? Do not try to employ them all at once, that will only leave you frustrated. Try employing one. Perhaps give that gal you’ve been admiring from a  distance an invite for coffee, or a playdate  with the kids. Go ahead and buy that book you’ve been eyeballing for yourself. Dust off that camera that has been sitting idle for far too long, and take an afternoon to yourself.

Whatever “having a life” looks like to you – go ahead: embrace it, welcome it, explore it, re-discover it. Don’t shut it out.

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Register or Enroll? What’s the Difference?

While recently attending a community based homeschool meeting, I was once again faced with the opportunity to witness someone in perpetual confusion about the difference between registering or enrolling. Our home learning environment can provide us with many options and varied choices when it comes to making this decision – and ultimately much confusion. While pondering this very issue this morning, I thought I’d share an article I wrote a while ago for our own community based website: www.vchs.ca.

The decision to register or enroll your child can be a confusing one. However if you wish to home educate legally in British Columbia, Canada, you will need to pick one.

Simply put, if you would like the most freedom to educate your child with out having to follow the Provincial Learning Outcomes, or do not wish to be burdened with handing in portfolios or weekly learning reports, then registering your child is probably the right choice for you. The BC Homeschool Association says this about registering:

Registered Home Schooler

The traditional approach to homeschooling under sections 12 and 13 of the School Act is in effect. Under this approach, students are registered and there are no accountability issues for parents. Parents provide their children with ‘a program’, but do so with no interference or supervision by a teacher and/or the Ministry of Education. The grant to the independent school for a homeschooled student amounts to $175.00 per student and $250.00 funded to a public school.

In addition, sometimes it is easier to register during your first couple of years of homeschooling, in order to get your feet wet. For instance, if your children are very young and you are very new to homeschooling, parent and child may find that registering allows them a little more freedom to explore home educating without any added pressure or deadlines. Parents of children with learning difficulties or parents of gifted children sometimes appreciate the ability to be able to choose how, what and when their child will learn certain skills or subjects based on their child’s abilities, readiness and interests.

The other option for home learners is to enroll. Enrolling your child is a good idea if you’re really not sure about the whole homeschooling thing and you think you may end up putting your child back in school. This would ensure that they will still be learning the same things as their public schooled peers. Of course enrolling is also a safeguard if you’re really not sure you can do this thing and the thought of having a home educating facilitator there to help you sounds appealing. The BC Homeschool Association says this about enrolling:

Enrolled Home Learner

For those parents who do not mind the accountability and prefer being under the supervision of a teacher, and whose home program will meet the prescribed learning outcomes in the required courses, students can be enrolled with a DL (Distributed Learning) program. The parent loses some freedoms in this program, but in exchange for the accountability there are increased resources, amounting to several hundred dollars. Additionally, the student receives regular report cards each year, up to and including a Dogwood Graduation Certificate. A public school program receives the base grant for students in BC. Group 1 independent schools, receive only 50% of the base grant. Religious materials are not permissible in any public education program in BC but may be used by students enrolled in an independant DL program, as well as by traditional homeschoolers.

Whatever you decide you can be pretty sure that parent and child, together, will ultimately figure out what works best for them. Many home educating parents have tried both options over the years. Homeschooling is a personal journey that ebbs and flows as the family grows and learns together. You may find that one approach that worked well for you for a few years may now seem lacking, and you may wish to change it -kind of like a favorite sweater, once full of familiarity, but now needs to be exchanged with something different.

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Back To School Madness?

Or is it? How was your first week back to “Home”school?

I’ve been rather absent in the blogosphere this summer. A first for me, considering I started this blog at the beginning of last summer and I had an abundance to write about. This summer; however has provided other opportunities. Opportunities to find rest, relaxation and time to reacquaint myself with lost loves of sorts – photography, running, and poetry to name a few. You can read about how I’m learning to find balance between time for my homeschool and time for myself here, at Heart of The Matter on Wed. Sept 17.

Which brings me back to my topic of this post: Have you been able to strike a balance between work and leisure? If so how have you been able to make that work for you? Does starting a new ‘Back To School’ year translate into barely manageable busyness? Are you already feeling overwhelmed?

In the past, I have found that sticking to a reasonable amount of routine, having a plan, and most importantly: cutting back the extra curricular activiteshas been a tremendous asset to finding such balance and maintaining peace of mind for all parties involved. The best advise I received from another homeschool family was to keep the extra curricular activities to a minimum. For this family that translated into 2 or 3 activities total for the year. Out of a need for a less busy routine myself, I gave it a try last year. my children had to pick only two activities per term. They could pick another activity during the next term as long as there was no more than two activities per term – total. This means that we were only out twice a week. And guess what? It worked! Harmony was restored. Last year turned out to be a very productive and fun school year. Not only did we have more time to focus on academics, but there was more time for field trips and social opportunities, because I wasn’t worried about having to rush home in order to only go out once again.

This year we are following the same guidelines, and even though my girls are getting older and their interests are becoming their own, we are still able to stick the the ‘only two’ rule, and hopefully (with any luck) we will be able to continue a sense of harmony and balance in our day to day routine.

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