Thursday, August 30, 2012

Staying the Homeschool Course: Encouragement

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  ~ Proverbs 27:17

Surround Yourself with Encouragement

Have you noticed how much easier it is to stick with something ~ a diet, your beliefs, a hobby ~if you are in it with someone else?  A partner or group provide accountability and encouragement.  Surrounding yourself with a community of homeschoolers will help you stay the course for the long haul.

There are numerous connection points for homeschoolers now, but at times you may see a need to start a group of your own.  Go for it!  The homeschool world appreciates your leadership.  Look for existing groups locally, regionally, and online.

Locally ~   
Meet-ups and Home Gatherings:  You may know some homeschoolers who live near you.  See if they meet regularly for fellowship or to discuss specific topics.  Even sporadic home gatherings are encouraging and informative.  Every family comes at an issue from a different perspective which can open your eyes to the possibilities out there and also help you determine your focus ("I'm glad that works for them, but it wouldn't work for us because....").  You can swap stories and resources and peruse curriculum and fill up your encouragement tank for the school months ahead. 
Co-ops and Classes: Some families love the structure and social aspects found in a co-op or homeschool class.  Many times the parents share the responsibilities for teaching and childcare and leadership, and the whole group benefits.  Field trips are often arranged via this avenue.  It can supplement your home teaching, and then you don't have to think about such things as art or music or Latin, especially if they aren't in your area of expertise.  They do take time and commitment, but you may find it more than worth it. 
Regionally ~  
Conventions: These large gatherings are a great reminder that you are not alone.  Speakers provide knowledge and experience at workshops.  Vendors provide every book or supply you never knew you needed.  Going with a group of friends provides a great time of fun and fellowship.  While all the booths and vendors can be overwhelming, going with a list will help you stay focused.  Many times they have special pricing for conventions; plus you won't have to pay shipping.  And the fact that you can browse through the books can be invaluable for determining if they are right for you. 
Videos: You can now find workshops, conferences, and training on video through Youtube or ordering from homeschool websites.  The cost is often cheaper than attending a convention and is wonderful for viewing with a group in your home.   
Online ~ 
Groups: Yahoo Groups or discussion forums supply a wider range of "we're in this together," especially if you need fellowship within your specific method.  Moms who have older kids are valuable for sharing insight because they've been where you are. 
Blogs: The blogging community adds regular content which can inform, encourage and humor.  Many times they provide free lessons or worksheets as well as paid services which could be of great use to you.   
Social Media: Is there anyone not on at least one of these:  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest?!  These groups can be great for getting questions answered quickly and finding out what's going on in the homeschool world. ("1/2 price tickets to the Medieval Fair on homeschool day!"  "Kindle is offering a free e-Book today only!"  "Who wants to get together at the park for a picnic tomorrow?")  

Find the fellowship that works for you without overwhelming your life.  A homeschooler could be gone every day of the week with the available options now.  But homeschooling is not a lone man's game.  Surround yourself with encouragement. 

Go to Guidance
Go to Ten Homeschooling Don'ts
You may be interested in How To....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Millie Fierce"

"This was pretty good for helping little kids to understand a bully," says my ten-year-old Elizabeth. Millie Fierce by Jane Manning is an engaging story of a mild-mannered girl who turned fierce in order to get noticed. It's recommended for ages 3 and up.

There was much discussion among my children about why no one noticed Millie when she was nice ~ about why a little thing like someone walking on her chalk-drawing set her off ~ and about what they would do if they decided to "go fierce" (this devolved into how big a piece of cake they would steal on someone's birthday and how many frosted flowers it would hold'll just have to read the book to get the connection).

I didn't make this association at first, but Elizabeth thought it was a great book to help younger kids understand why a bully acts mean.  She understood it to show that Millie acted meanly because others had treated her meanly.  I thought it was neat that she figured out that idea without input from me.
This was a great example of a living idea being passed along from the author to the child's mind (see this post on living books for more info).

Millie Fierce helped me understand better those kids who act out to get attention. I wish there had been a fuller example of how to help such a child. Millie had a turning point where she decided to be nice.  Because of her extremely bad behavior before, everyone then noticed her new niceness. But her mildness at the beginning of the book was what made her boring and easily passed over in the first place. Maybe I don't understand child psychology, but I think she might just go unnoticed again before long. Which makes me wonder, "What do kids need exactly in order to not go crazy trying to get attention?" Maybe a big dose of love and some spurring toward unique talents and traits would do the trick.

My kids and I all enjoyed reading this book and looking at the colorful illustrations. It's a compelling story which can lead into several kinds of discussions such as bullying, correct ways to get attention, and how to apologize after one has had a fierce sort of day.

This review is a part of a TLC Book Tour where many bloggers give their opinion of the same book.  You can find more reviews of this book here at TLC Book Tours.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Woodrow for President"

"He worked hard in school and -- all students note --
At 18 years old, he registered to vote!"

Woodrow for President: A Tail of Voting, Campaigns, and Elections by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes is a story of a mouse from "Moussouri" and his road to the Presidency.  It's for ages 5 and up.

This book breaks down the great unknown process of "How does one become President of the United States?" It "stresses the importance of civic and community involvement in good citizenship.  This includes volunteering, registering to vote, and participating in the political process...." I was glad they made Woodrow a family "man." From the very beginning they had him on the floor playing with his many children. They showed his rise through the ranks from town council to governor. Phoebe (age 6) noticed that he had to make lots of speeches. Debates and campaigns and voting were all covered in this tale.

Harrison (age 2) enjoyed the pictures, pointing out all the balloons. Sometimes the illustrations feel too crowded to me, but I enjoyed those that had one scene per page.  My concrete thinker (Jonathan, age 8) couldn't grasp the fact that a mouse was becoming President. All the cutesy mouse wordplay is lost on him. This book did spark a lively debate between he and Elizabeth (age 10) about whether a man or woman would make a better president. Whew! We had some fightin' words going on.

The Tail End section has some very interesting information, I thought. The authors share little tidbits from history and current practice concerning a number of topics.  For instance, under "Political Parties" they tell us: "Do you think everyone should eat vegetables?  If so, then you might have joined the Vegetarian Party! ....That is what happened in 1947 when a group of people thought that the only food we should eat were vegetables." That was a fun fact I hadn't heard of before.

We didn't fall in love with this book. It was a chore to read through it ~ not so much for me to read out loud but for the kids to listen. It may have been better if read over several days. I think sometimes adults believe children need to be enticed into learning. They can't fathom that ideas all on their own would be interesting to a child. But knowledge is food for a child's mind if we don't do all the work and chew it up for them beforehand. That's why I loved the discovery of living books a few years ago. It seems like Woodrow for President is trying to hook kids with their mouse mascot and cartoony illustrations and rhyming verse. And the information is compelling all by itself. I enjoy the Tail End section best because of that ~ it is short segments of information told interestingly with historical illustrations.

The best part of reading to my kids about Mr. Woodrow Washingtail was the conversation that came from it. Elections are coming up, so it was easy to explain what Dad and Mom will be doing for that process as Woodrow for President mentioned it throughout the story. It was also a great reminder to me of how the road to the Presidency works, so that later on, I can answer my kids' questions about it.

This review is a part of a TLC Book Tour where many bloggers give their opinion of the same book.  You can find more reviews of this book here at TLC Book Tours.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Latin Sale!

As an affiliate and enjoyer of Visual Latin, I get to let you all in on the last big sale of the year going on August 1-8.  Click the picture below and use the code "Augustus" to get 30% off all Visual Latin products!

You might want to check out their new Economics program also.