Our Reasons for Home Education:

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Although he was achieving good results, he wasn't reaching his full potential because his love for learning had been destroyed & hence his grades were steadily declining.

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Completely failed by the system, he hated school, was always tired & homework time was a major frustration for both of us. He was severely frustrated & quickly heading to become yet another ADHD statistic.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival #10

~ Math Focus

math confused logicpuzzlesI still have vivid memories of Maths going wrong for me during my school days. I had an ex-university lecturer for Maths in Standard 8, but although she knew the material she had no clue how to teach… Within the first term of that year my Maths dropped from the high 80% to below 70% on higher grade. Eventually I dropped down to standard grade but it wasn’t going to stop there. By the time I got to Matric my Maths had dropped down to lower 60% although I achieved around 80% for Algebra. I barely passed Geometry & Trigonometry with my ability to memorize the formulas, but unfortunately I just never “got” the Geometry & Trigonometry. I wasn’t able to apply the formulas I had learnt. Had it not been for my high Algebra results, I would have probably failed Maths altogether. I felt so stupid because my brother “got” it and achieved high results when I asked him to help during holidays, I just couldn’t “get” it.
math_artThis was one of the main reasons why it took me 3 years to give in to hubby’s requests to home educate our boys when we first noticed Misha had problems at school. I was afraid of having to teach Maths, after all my eldest was supposed to start High School this year. After all, how was I supposed to teach our boys Maths if I couldn’t remember much of it myself.
Now I realise that it had a lot to do with the way I learn… My ability to read an memorize well had been my saving grace during my school years. Sadly nothing stuck much after an exam was done. With Misha, I suddenly relived much of my own schooling experiences.
imageWe started him up with Le-Amen in August last year when we discovered his struggling at school was caused by serious foundational issues. By then he was in Grade 2 & still not able to read. He hated school & homework time was terribly frustrating for both of us. Unfortunately at the time I knew nothing about learning styles & took the “school at home” approach which was met with great resistance. For this year they supplied Classroom Mathematics ~ Grade 3 for him. Because he hates workbooks the 10 activities would take anything from 40 minutes to 2 hours to complete and if it weren’t for the overall improvement in other areas, I’m sure I may have stuck him back in school by now had I not stumbled across the Custom Homeschool Curriculum ~ Teach How Your Child Learns page on the internet.
I set out to find ways to help him overcomeimage the lack of self-confidence caused by his struggles through school by finding ways to teach the material the way he learns. I resorted to asking him the Maths questions whilst he was jumping on the trampoline and then writing down his answers. I was amazed that he actually could do the Maths. When allowed to do the worksheets verbally, he would often give the correct answer, but then write down a wrong answer. I later learnt that was a result of midline crossing inability. Hence I decided to replace the worksheets with online & downloadable Maths games & set out to make Maths more fun.
In my searches to find material to help him through school I stumbled across learning styles & brain dominance. I recently read the book “In Their Own Way ~ discovering and encouraging your child's multiple intelligences” by Thomas Armstrong. It has helped me understand how my sons learn. I am currently reading "The Fine Line between ADHD and Kinaesthetic Learners". Leave a comment at this link if you would like to receive a FREE introduction. Finally I understood why I had a struggling learner on my hands. I discovered he is a strong Body-kinaesthetic (Body Smart / using the whole body & hands) and Visual Spatial (Picture Smart / ability to visualise pictures in one’s head or to create them in some two- or three dimensional form) learner. The classroom environment just didn’t work for him because they teach mainly for children who are Linguistic (Word Smart / ability to use words effectively) and Logical-Mathematical (Number Smart / capacity to work well with numbers and / or be adept at logic or reasoning). I am learning so much and it seems I may have a Kinaesthetic Right Brain Learner on my hands. In order to learn effectively, Misha needed to be able to move a lot.  He also needed many pictures and lots of colour to re-enforce his learning and of course PC activities seem to work like a charm.
imageIn April I stumbled across the Teaching Textbooks website.  I decided to give this a try because Misha loves playing PC games. The results were astounding. I found that he was suddenly able easily finish 2 lessons, containing 5 sample problems and 24 problems per lesson in 20-30 minutes whereas he couldn’t complete a 10 question worksheet in less than 1 hour before. Teaching Textbooks comes with a workbook as well as CDs to teach the concepts. After watching the lesson on the CD, the student can choose to complete the activities on the PC (with auto-grading up to 7th Grade) or fill out the worksheets in the workbook. All concepts taught are constantly tested in future worksheets thus ensuring mastery of concepts. However, after six months working on it daily, he’s now bored with it as it’s not colourful & doesn’t have enough variety in animations for him.
imageI’m currently looking at adding the Times Alive CD rom from City Creek Press to help him memorise the times tables. The software is also available as a download.
For next year I’m also looking to add the Times Tales to help him learn the upper times tables.
Misha is currently scoring an average of 95% on his Maths and even the occasional worksheet is becoming easier because we seem to be slowly conquering the “mental block” towards those dreaded papers as he masters the concepts with Teaching Textbooks and Maths games. Yet it seems my challenge has just begun, because no matter how good the curriculum I choose, he gets annoyed with it after a few months regular working on it. He needs constant variety lest he gets bored…
imageHonestly, I still dread the High School Maths though. Jesse was using the Classroom Mathematics ~ Grade 8 textbook this year and unfortunately it was all Greek to me. I have no idea how to help him, but fortunately thus far he’s coped fine on his own & the few times he did get stuck, daddy was able to help out. He will be doing Alpha Omega Academy from next year. This will give him will have access to online Tutors as well as online classes. I’ve decided to get him Teaching Textbooks to assist with the Maths just in case he needs some additional assistance & I mightimage even use them to brush up on my own Maths skills so I can help Misha when he gets to high school.
imagealso offers a few Maths programs that can help children practise Maths with a more fun approach. I will be looking into a few of these as opposed to the traditional “worksheet wasteland” approach in order to accommodate the way my sons learn best.
Some of our favourite recourse links:
  • Khan Academy offers 2,400 FREE videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history to help your student learn whatever they want, whenever they want, at their own pace. They have also added 125 FREE practice exercises to enable students to practice concepts. Parents can also sign up as coaches to track their students’ progress.
  • clip_image002Timez Attack has revolutionized multiplication games. It’s as polished as a high-end real video game, yet as effective as a top math tutor one-on-one. The built-in assessment, adaptation, and post-test research data guarantee total mastery. FREE Basic Version teaches multiplication facts 2 – 12 and paid version has additional themes & features.
  • Maths is Fun offers FREE maths resources to help your children learn Maths, covering Numbers, Data, Geometry, Money, Algebra & Measurement using puzzles, games, activities & worksheets.

Please visit my Mathematics page for many more resource links.

Carnival submissions…

mathI have received a few submissions for this carnival and was glad to see that I am not alone in my quest to find ways to teach Maths although I myself was not so good at it in my days. These pages cover teaching young ones with manipulatives, free recourses for Middle & Senior students, as well as encouragement for teaching High School Maths.
shares a just fun port on Maths Lessons. After they finished maths lesson for the day she overheard this one-on-one tutoring by the big brother for little brother.
  • In her post, The Decimal System, Linnie Lues, from Back to Ancient Ways  shares how math-pic1from personal experience, she believes Maths is so much easier and much more fun, when one understands the decimal system. Thankfully, the Lord sent Steve Demme from Maths-U-See over their homeschooling path.  He reminds her in so many ways of her Middle School Maths Teacher - his countenance lights up when he starts teaching maths and his whole curriculum evolves around the decimal system and place values.   

  • I trust you’ll find as much encouragement and assistance from these posts as I did.

    This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers (SACH Bloggers) where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more.  You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!

    SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival #10

     Untitled image image
    homeschool math online
    TenMarks Math Programs|Online Math Help

    Trixi’s HomeEd Academy Page Updates:

    I have added new links to several of my resource pages. Amended pages are indicated with ~*~ below.
    Home Education Resources
    Homeschooling California Style
    Preschool Learning Extravaganza
    ClickN KIDS Teaching KIDS to READ and SPELL One Click at a Time
    ClickN KIDS Teaching KIDS to READ and SPELL One Click at a Time
    Learn & Master Series

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    To Worry or Not to Worry: Your Child’s Development

    By Deborah L. Woodward, BSN, AuD, CCC-A


    Mother’s intuition is priceless but unfortunately not always an accurate gauge about whether a child is developing normally or not. Thankfully, there are several excellent checklists available to evaluate social interaction, speech, and hearing and physical development, regardless of your child’s age. So take a deep breath—it is emotionally difficult to look at your child this way, especially if you have some fears. Hopefully, there is nothing wrong. If there is, early intervention is highly effective. Reputable checklists, resources, and practical information, some of which are included in this article, will help you evaluate your child.

    Developmentally, as an infant, it is important that a child gazes at his parents’ face and as the child gets older, smiles. The smile should not be random or primarily at objects but communicative with good eye contact. As the child develops, more eye contact, smiles, and face-to-face interaction are expected. Hearing is another early skill that is a necessary prerequisite for speech. An infant should turn toward sounds. At early ages, a slight delay in response is not unusual. As motor control matures, faster head turn response times are expected.

    A big “red flag” of concern is if the child suddenly stops interacting, making eye contact, babbling, or responding to sounds. This would be an indication for immediate medical attention, because these types of symptoms may occur with untreated ear infections, as well as several other completely treatable conditions; however, please be aware that these clusters of behaviours may also be early signs of more serious issues.

    Between the ages of 3 and 15 months, your child’s body is undergoing tremendous growth. An excellent website that summarizes motor and physical development is Pathways Awareness, a non-profit early identification organization ( or 800-955-2445). This website has detailed photographs or drawings, by age, which effectively illustrate signs of motor weaknesses that need further evaluation. For example, by 6 months, a physical “red flag” would be poor head control or stiff legs. By 9 months, inability to straighten back, take weight on legs, or difficulty crawling. By 12 months, concern would be raised if the child has difficulty standing because of stiff legs and pointed toes, sits with his weight to one side, or strongly flexes her stiffly extended arms. By 18–24 months of age, a young child should be able to walk up and down steps with one hand held and scribble on paper with a crayon, feed himself table foods with a spoon, and take all liquids from a cup. An excellent chart that compares a typical young child’s development with that of an atypical child (who has motor delays) may be found at the following link:

    Speech and language changes occur rapidly in the young child. A toddler should know the names of familiar objects or body parts and be able to point to them. Sentences should be two to four words in length. Detailed speech, language, and hearing developmental milestones through 5 years of age are well documented and readily available by brochure or on the Web from reputable sources such as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association ( or 800-638-8255) or a division of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders ( or 800-241-1044). In general, as the child becomes older, speech should become clearer with increased understanding and word usage.

    In the school-age child, typical “red flags” are concerns about the child not following instructions, poor attention, or difficulty with auditory or reading comprehension. Initially there is a sense of failure—that the parent has done something wrong to cause his or her this problem and fear that the child will be unable to learn. A homeschooling parent who has successfully educated other children may quickly understand that her child has a learning difference and have the confidence to modify classwork or try something new to help improve learning, which may or may not work.

    It is important to realize that a child may not have the maturity to successfully complete the task even if the skill is “age-appropriate.” A thorough list of behaviours that are signs of good sensory integration in children is available here:

    Typical Sensory Development, and a unique chart that equips you to track your child’s development can be found at this link: Pathways Chart

    Sometimes a skill may be successfully taught by adding in more frequent breaks or providing a child specific sensory diet of physical activity for optimal learning. The homeschooling family is in an excellent position to modify schoolwork, breaking it into small pieces of more easily understood steps or choosing to wait until the child is physically, emotionally, or intellectually ready. If the child is not progressing or the family is overwhelmed, further professional evaluation may be needed to (hopefully) find out whether the root “disorder” is primarily related to speech, language, attention, sensory issues, auditory deficiencies, developmental issues, or some combination of those areas. At this point, accurate diagnosis is necessary in order for effective therapy, and this cannot be stressed enough. For example, hearing loss may look like an inattention problem, poor memory, or lack of comprehension, regardless of age.

    The first step is an accurate assessment. Where you go will depend on your child’s age and whether you choose to look publicly or privately. Financially, it greatly behooves a concerned family to seek help before the child is 3 years of age. In the U.S., the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers With Disabilities programs are an excellent public resource, available in every state, providing free assessment and intervention if indicated. The easiest way to locate these services is to search adding your state name or contact your paediatrician and local hospital nursery social worker, since the exact name varies by state. Another option is to call (202) 245-7629 and request a local contact. Once a child is 3 years old, free and public services are provided by your local school district regardless of whether the child is in public, private, or home school. This initial evaluation will help initiate referrals to other appropriate specialists or resources as needed. Even in these economic times, services for children may be obtained through insurance, extended income Medicaid, or school insurances. Private or university therapists may offer sliding scale or reduced rate group therapy. Finally, in attempt to make the most of each professional visit, ask the therapist for a “home program” or therapy instructions for additional therapy at home, by you, to provide more intensive intervention and possibly better results.

    Paediatric evaluations last about one hour, with generally a very nice therapist, because it is important that you and your child feel comfortable and willing to participate. The therapist will ask you a series of questions and observe, as well as play to interact with your child while evaluating speech, language, and fine and gross motor development. The therapist frequently takes notes during this assessment to document both normal and other findings. These notes and standardized test results are used for report writing purposes. Generally, the therapist or team of therapists will review the findings with you the same day as the evaluation, with a follow-up report with recommendations provided in writing within a few weeks. Sometimes the plan is to monitor the child in three to six months. Sometimes early intervention is recommended and scheduled.

    The assessment process itself can be emotionally stressful, because now there are words, some unfamiliar and scary, to describe your child. Using professional jargon, even a description of “normal” may sound like there is something wrong. Be sure to ask for clarification. Remember, too, that the purpose of this type of assessment is to identify abnormality—and as such, necessary in order to proceed with appropriate help.

    When weak areas are identified, it is common to think about the child only as “the disorder.” Sometimes the knowledge that something is wrong can cause emotional withdrawal from your child. Sometimes there is already a barrier in bonding because of the problem your child has. This is especially common with communication disorders. As a parent, you may appear calm or analytical one moment and filled with panic at the next. One or more family members (husbands included) may deny the existence of a problem, even in the case of obvious delay or illness, and tell you to stop worrying, that there is NOTHING WRONG! In the midst of this anguish and confusion, there is your child, still needing to be loved, fed, and held by you. These are the terrifying aspects of an abnormal assessment. A valuable tool for assessment may be found at this link: Pathways FAQs.

    A common tactic, especially for the self-reliant, is the self-evaluation of a child. This path possibly avoids some financial stress or the anxiety of professional diagnosis. However, the research, therapy materials, and the real possibility of error make self-diagnosis and treatment a very time-intensive and costly venture. Having attempted this myself, I can say from experience that often the problem that you suspect is not the actual one at all. Valuable time and money, necessary for your child’s recovery, may be lost and your overall fatigue increased when the very important step of professional assessment is eliminated.

    It can be difficult for someone emotionally close to the child to objectively evaluate. That said, there is no one who cares about your child as much as you and your family. The best advice to be given here is to simply love your child and try to provide help where you can. You are the only parent(s) your child has—the only one who will fulfil that most important role in his or her life. With professional guidance, it is possible to help provide effective treatment. However, if you need to participate in therapy, take care to not let the therapist role usurp your parent role.

    Once therapy is initiated and as your child improves and the therapist strengthens areas of weakness, other areas of weakness may become evident. For example, a child may appear to be inattentive and angry. Evaluation may show fine motor weakness with sensory integration disorder that is causing the child difficulty with handwriting. Once the child’s fine motor skill is improved, the child may appear to pay attention better because the daily task of handwriting is easier.

    One final comment regarding therapy is that it may not be possible to “fix” every weakness. My recommendation is to provide therapy, when possible, with the hope that whatever is left will be manageable enough for your child to compensate for. If compensation is not enough, then classroom and/or other academic modification may be made for the school age, middle, high school, and older student. One effective modification is extended test times, even for standardized examinations (i.e. SAT or end of grade testing).

    I would like to end with a few notes of encouragement. Children respond well to therapy, and most get better as they get older, with, as well as without, therapy. This storm of worry over your child, which feels like a crisis, adds some good things to a family that are experienced only by slowing down and getting to know your child intimately. You will be forced to recognize and separate your performance expectations from the unique skill set of the child that you have the pleasure and challenge of homeschooling. For my family, when my son developed Tourette’s Syndrome, and we began to homeschool, I had a lot of difficulty changing from my arbitrary, rigid time schedule in order to minimize needless stress and tics for my wonderfully talented son . . . but that’s another story.

    Deborah Woodward, BSN, AuD, CCC-A, the proud mother of homeschooled, musical son, James, enjoys life as an audiologist at Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro, North Carolina, and participates in church, Revolutionary War re-enactments, and tending chickens with her husband, Jeff. She is developing a helpful website Tools4Hearing.



    2. Early Intervention—Infant Toddler Program,, (202) 245-7629 (telephone)

    3. Family Support Network of Illinois,



    Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, Summer 2011.

    Visit The Old Schoolhouse® at to view a full-length sample copy of the magazine especially for homeschoolers. Click the graphic of the moving computer monitor on the left. Email the Publisher at


    Friday, October 21, 2011


    We stopped by Le-Amen on our way to gym on Tuesday on the way to gym to fetch Misha’s portfolio that was handed in for monitoring last term.
    Honestly, I must admit I wasn’t very impressed. For starters when I arrived at around 2pm I was told “I’m on lunch, but I will help you.”, as if she was doing me a favour fetching Misha’s portfolio. When I asked for the feedback on their evaluations, I was told we weren’t getting any this term. So much for support & feedback.
    Then I noticed that they didn't give any feedback on the worksheets etc. in his portfolio except for his painting. Except for “Beautiful” on his painting, they didn’t comment on any of his other work although he had many 100% worksheets in there.
    The poor kid was quite upset about that. "All that Work for nothing. That's just mean!" he said. I can just imagine how disappointing the lack of positive comments must be for him. Of course, now I still have to try motivate him to do more worksheets for the rest of this term. I can already hear him replying why should he do them if they’re not even going to comment on his work.
    Unfortunately his laptop also caved on Tuesday morning. It seems the hard drive has gone. Fortunately Clive was able to swop the hard drive with the one from my old laptop with the broken screen, so at least now it’s up & running again.
    Of course Jesse reckons the laptop broke because I made them do “school” on it. I suppose for them anything would be a good excuse not to do school. Smile He’s quite happy that his Switched on Schoolhouse is not yet running again, as it gives him a valid excuse not to do it.
    I may need to reconsider how we’re going to address doing school the way he learns next year. I have noticed that Switched on Schoolhouse seems to have too much textbook approach with lots of reading & not enough interaction. I’ve signed him up for a 2 week trial at Time4Learning to see if that will help. So far he says he likes it more than SOS. I may just let him continue with Time4Learning instead for now, until he’s conquered the reading / worksheet resistance. We can always transition him to Switched on Schoolhouse in grade 7/8 in order to get him used to the system by grade 9 when he would ideally need to start Alpha Omega Academy.
    I have also found some very cool educational iPad apps that could make a huge difference to their learning on the long run. Only problem is that Clive takes his iPad to work so they can only use it when he’s home Sad smile. I must admit the Kindle App for iPad has revolutionised our reading. Both the boys & I prefer the eBook reading to real books. I like to hijack Clive’s iPad to read in bed whilst he’s asleep as it’s more comfortable & doesn’t disturb him.

    WoW, I can’t believe another week’s gone again. I’m amazed at how fast the time’s flying. We have just 5 & half more weeks to final hand-in for this year.

    Watch this space next week. I’m hosting the next SA Carnival of Homeschooling Blogs. If you wish to contribute, please visit the Carnival home page & complete the submission form. Next week’s topic is Math Focus & from the submissions I’ve seen thus far you’re in for some awesome tips & resources.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    The Uncomplicated Homeschooler

    imageI am the uncomplicated homeschooler. At least, I want to say that; I wish I could say that. Why does homeschooling seem so complicated sometimes? From the number of letters we get from readers all over the world, I see a common running theme. It's like what public schooled high schoolers sometimes put on their Facebook profiles regarding their latest status of "relationship" with whomever significant other they have (at the time). They say, "It's complicated."
    That's what these letters convey, too. Things are difficult, confused, hard to keep up with. Their lives are crazy and lacking peace. They can't balance it all, nor are they necessarily even sure they want to anymore. They feel like failures, ready to give up and put Johnny back in school again where they think by doing so will soon make things "less complicated" once again in their lives. What they don't realize is that so many others, just like them, are saying the same thing. Why is this and what does it mean to live in a complicated state? Is there hope for change?

    It means to muddle.

    Do you feel like your life is a puddle of muddle? Are you blundering through your days looking for direction? Are you a top which needs to quit spinning? Round and round you go, but nothing really happens. The antonym for muddle (which is both a noun and a vimageerb by the way) is order or organization. To muddle through your days is to have a deficit of organization. Hours pass, you look at the clock at the end of the day and say, "What even got done here?" It's discouraging to go through the day without a plan; it's walking directionless. Or even worse,

    It means to confuse or make difficult.

    Are you "Homeschool-Mama-Speedy G"? Is it possible you're making things difficult without realizing it? Don't get me wrong; your motives are probably all good. You simply want to homeschool those kids properly, get them graduated with their future schooling or careers successfully launched, and see them as happy, responsible, God-loving adults. But you're sweating the small stuff and moving too fast all the time (that's me right there). Maybe you're not relaxing with them for long enough, making time for lingering conversations. You keep checking the clock because your public school upbringing taught you to respond to the bell so you could move on to the next indoctrination session. But in your homeschool, you don't necessarily need a clock to get through each subject. There should be no such thing as "fourth period" or "assembly hall." Let's drop the confused flurry of difficult expectations on ourselves and on our children. You'll get so much further with them if you slow down and make learning fun. Seriously, ditch math today (or spelling) and go outside and play. Or head to the park where you can sit on the swings together and talk about what he/she wants to do when they grow up (or chat about something else they want to spill their hearts about).

    It means things are tangled, or even twisted.

    Kid-tummies can get twisted. If Mama is mad or rushing them along, it can be really stressful. I remember when I was in third grade, my mom (bless her soul; she is with the Lord now) was having a particularly hard morning with me (I was being a stinker like I often did), trying to get me ready and out the door. It was picture day at school where all the kids were herded into the hallway near the office to smile for a cameraman so that our mugs could be recorded forever in time on those little school picture sheets we got to pay a fortune for when they came back from the studio. Smile! Say cheese! But in my mom's haste (and perhaps a few cross words) in getting me dressed up nicely for picture day, she sent me off to school maybe without enough closure after our "tangle" that morning, and I arrived having cried angrily on the way. I remember feeling very frustrated in the picture line, and not at all desiring to smile for the cameraman, yet I tried. The picture recorded my twisted-tummy-smile, and even today when I look at it, it's a reminder to me that really, I should have been kept at home where I belonged. Back then, though, few knew about homeschooling, and my mother certainly did the best that she could under the circumstances. In fact, as soon as she finally heard about home educating, she did it! My younger sibling was homeschooled until Mom passed away from cancer when I was in my 20s. Now is the time for relationship, when they are young and so needy of us. Our words can twist. I know my own can at times, and even typing this out is very convicting for me. I need to go hug my children; I am sure I have given every one of them a twisted tummy at one time or another. Slow down--help ensure that their smiles can be genuine.

    It speaks to things convoluted.

    imageWhen we complicate our homeschools, things start to feel very convoluted, or they can. Doubts creep in just like dark thunder clouds, and you begin to wonder why you're even doing it to begin with. Let me remind you, ok? The Lord your God has called you to it. He has given these children to you (for a time) to train up in Him, to bring Him glory. He loves these children even more than you do, and look what He's done: He's given them to YOU to cherish, to raise up. He has placed them squarely in YOUR care. God has equipped you through His word to do this task that's set before you. You just walk; you follow. He will do the rest. Our homeschools do not have to be convoluted, confused, tangled up, nor must we slowly and without direction muddle through the season of homeschooling we're in. It can be orderly, lovely, light, and fun. Rewarding, fulfilling, blessed. Drop the extra junk even if it means the house doesn't stay as clean as it used to. Shrug off the daily stresses that come from those "spelling words tantrums" or the messy bedroom you expected cleaned up three hours ago. Exhale all of that.
    Start anew today. Look around your house and at each child. What is living, what inanimate, dead? Will the living room care in ten years if you clean it today? Will your kids care ten years from now that today you dropped everything to play and talk with them, smile instead of scowl, skip instead of drudge through the day? Believe me, friend, I am SO speaking to myself right now. Bummer to me for not being the poster child for this (since I so easily advise everyone else). But I can't be that poster mama; I won't pretend to be what I'm not. No one is perfect except the Lord, although we are called to strive for it, to be more like Him (Matt 5:48). I have to remind myself at times to stop and grin. Stop and chat. Stop, put away the laptop, and spark a conversation. I think tonight Paul and I will choose ONE kid (one of the middle ones) and take him on a date. Just us and him. He needs to know he's special. I want to stop and smell the flowers with him —while I still can. What if I, like my own mother, pass away when he is in his 20s? Lord forbid it. But it can happen; it happened with my mother. Now is the time for relationship.
    I am quite the complicated homeschooler living in a very complicated world in a rather complicated day and age with an even more complicated life than some. My house is a whirlwind of activity, I get too many emails per day, and we travel a lot (thankfully, with the kids). Yet I am determined to change my moniker. I want to be the uncomplicated homeschooler. I want to simplify. I will choose to be an uncomplicated homeschooler from this point forward, Lord willing. And He will help me if I stop and read His word, pray, and lean on Him for direction. Lord, make me like You, orderly and lovely, without complication. Remind me to stop and smile on my children the way You have smiled on me.


    imageCopyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally published by The Old Schoolhouse®. Visit The Old Schoolhouse® at to view a full-length sample copy of the magazine especially for homeschoolers. Click the graphic of the moving computer monitor on the left.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    In Their Own Way (Book Review)

    We recently took on home educating our boys and I decided to read this book in an attempt to help me find ways to help our "struggling learner" to reach his full potential. I also needed to find ways to help restore their “natural love for learning'”
    It had me hooked from the first chapter & I’ve just finished it. 294 pages in 1 day, a new personal record for me. WOW, what an amazing source of useful information. It has helped me “see” why the system has failed our sons so miserably & why it has killed their love for learning. I “saw" many areas in which to amend my teaching strategies to better fit in with their learning styles & preferences. It has given me insight on how to restructure their next school year in a way that would make our home education journey less stressful and yet more productive…
    This is an absolute MUST read for ALL parents as well as educators. I believe if all schools  implemented teaching strategies that addressed ALL learning styles in  the classrooms, schooling in our country could be revolutionized. Unfortunately regular educators care only about competence in its most traditional & bookish sense – reading, writing, science, social studies & Maths in boring text and worksheets. Students who are talented in art, music, dance, mechanical repair, computer programming, or are creative in not-traditional ways wither away & become the underachievers, learning disabled & ADHD labelled.
    Parents will be able to discover where their children “fit” into the system. They will be able to determine whether the school is nurturing their children’s multiple intelligences. Textbooks (and their accompanying worksheets) structure 75% to 90% of all the learning in our schools whereas the part of the brain that thrives on lectures and worksheets probably takes up less than 1% of the total available for learning. The current “worksheet wasteland” would be transformed and instead we would have happier & less stressed children in our schools. Less children would struggle through school and end up labelled “learning disabled” or “ADD/ADHD”, instead their true gifts and abilities will be drawn out & developed. These stale teaching methods are referred to as being “brain-antagonistic” and shut down potentials rather than open them up.
    " What happens to the learners in this worksheet wasteland? The truth is that most of them learn to comply and remain passive and may outwardly appear to be very successful students. Other children, unable to go along with such stale fare as they're given  daily in the classroom, begin slipping in their achievement but are able to keep up appearances to a greater or lesser degree. These are the underachievers that we keep hearing so much about. Lawrence Green in his book Children Who Underachieve, estimated that up to 50% of our nation's children are underachievers. Finally, there is a group of children totally unable to keep up with the charade, mostly because of their own unique ways of learning clash so severely with the narrow way that the schools go about educating them. This group has earned a couple of unjust lapels in recent years: learning disabled (LD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disordered (ADHD)"
    "It's been said that if we taught children to speak the way we teach them to read, we'd have a nation of stutterers. This is just another way of saying that our schools are selling millions of kids short by putting them into remedial groups or writing them off as underachievers, when in reality they are disabled only by poor teaching methods. We hear so much about the learning disabled or ADD child in the news media. It's probably truer to say that these children are "worksheets disabled", "curriculum disordered", or simply "dysteachic".
    The schools fail our children when they limit their teaching methods to lectures, textbooks, worksheets and tests.
    They dampen the thirst for knowledge in all children by teaching them things that have little relevance to their personal lives."
    Parents with children that have been labelled "learning disabled" or “ADD/ADHD” will receive insight into the reasons why your kids have been labelled and equip you with information & ideas on how to change their learning experience. It will enable you draw out their inner strengths and abilities in order to help them learn.
    "ADD seems like a matter of convenience to many adults who are in charge of "round kids" who don't fit into the "square holes" of home and school. The label helps a teacher get a troublesome child out of a regular class and into a special education room, helps a parent get a drug prescription to set the problem right (instead of first considering other more fundamental changes, and even helps many students get more time to take tests and complete assignments in class. Unfortunately, though it's the child who gets saddled with the disability label and has to go through school looked upon as less normal than the other kids. Nowhere in this litany of deficit, disability, and disease is there the recognition that these children may learn very well IN THEIR OWN WAY."
    After reading this book, parents will be more aware of labelling and the affects that psychological testing can have on their children. Parents will be able to make more informed decisions regarding testing, instead of willingly accepting educators’ recommendations.
    "And yet, when these children enter school, virtually all the focus of teachers and parents gets placed upon their "disability". It reminds me of the story about the animals who decided to create a school for climbing, flying, running, swimming and digging. They couldn't agree on which subject was most important, so they said all the students had to take the same curriculum. The rabbit was an expert in running but almost drowned in swimming class. The experience shocked her so much that she never could run as well after that. The eagle was a whiz at flying, of course, but when he showed up for digging class, he was so inadequate to the task that he got assigned to a digging remediation program. It took up so much of his time that he soon forgot how to fly. And so on with the other animals. The animals no longer had the opportunity to shine in their areas of expertise because all were forced to do things that did not respect their individual nature. In much the same way, we're doing that with our children, neglecting their gifts and talents while at the same time forcing them to waste hours of time in boring inappropriate remediation groups and special classes. Eagles are meant to fly!"
    In short there are 8 different kinds of intelligence and we need to teach all relevant to our children in order to help them reach their full potential.
    1. Linguistic ~ Word Smart / ability to use words effectively
    2. Logical-Mathematical ~ Number Smart / capacity to work well with numbers and / or be adept at logic or reasoning
    3. Spatial ~ Picture Smart / ability to visualise pictures in one’s head or to create them in some two- or three dimensional form
    4. Body-kinaesthetic ~ Body Smart / using the whole body & hands
    5. Musical ~ Music Smart / capacity to carry a tune, remember musical melodies, have good sense of rhythm or simply enjoy music
    6. Interpersonal ~ People Smart / ability to understand and work with other people
    7. Intrapersonal ~ Self Smart / self-understanding & knowing who you are, what you’re good at & what you’re not good at
    8. Naturalist ~ Nature Smart / ability to identify the natural forms around us
    Address all these styles & your children are bound to succeed
    This book is available as paperback & for Kindle. If you don’t own a Kindle, download the FREE Kindle for PC application below in order to read this and many more Kindle books.

    KONOS 5 D’s of Learning motivate through FUN:

    DO Children love hands-on. A wise teacher uses the five senses as an ally, capitalizing on the child’s God given curiosity and interest.
    DISCOVER Hands-on increases opportunities for children to figure out their own answers, thus developing their critical thinking.
    DRAMATIZE Children remember, NOT merely cover, the things they dramatize whether it is a starfish, an explorer, a poem, or an atom.
    DIALOGUE Parents, NOT textbooks, are the best teachers. KONOS teaches parents how to dialogue with children to reinforce learning .
    DRILL After immersion in a topic, NOW it is time to drill and wrap-up to crystallize concepts and information.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Cake Cup Rosettes

    2011_1006_174518We didn’t do very much art this year, but Misha has suddenly taken to becoming crafty of late.

    He loves to watch Mister Maker and Art Attack on Disney Junior. I could never remember all the instructions afterwards, but I managed to find their sites online & on Friday he attempted the Mister Maker Cake cup rosettes. 2011_1006_182335After finishing the first one he went on to do two more. The joy and excitement after completion was astounding & visible all over his face on the photo on the right.

    For the rest of this term, I’m looking at taking him for art lessons every 2nd week in order to help him develop his natural talent. But this time, Edward will focus on more age appropriate art projects.