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ADVICE & COUNSEL FROM A HOMESCHOOL EXPERT
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But mom, the sun is shining!

>> Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This is, hands down, my most favorite time of year. Spring is a wonderful promise of things to come, summer is great with its balmy breezes ... we won't even mention winter ... but autumn is, in my opinion, when God lets loose with his creativity!

So it's no wonder that beginning school in September has always seemed wrong to me somehow. I remember sitting in a classroom, listening to the teacher drone on, while my eyes constantly wandered to the window and the sunshine. My kids have been no different.

What a blessing homeschooling is ... to be able to flex your school schedule in order to maximize outdoor time. Are your kids antsy to be outside? Are you finding that concentration is sorely lacking? Then work the great outdoors into your school schedule! Pack up a tote bag of books and head to the local park. Sit on a park bench or under a tree and read together. Call an impromptu science field trip and hunt for leaves or cocoons or evidence of squirrels preparing for winter.

Time enough for indoor "table" work and serious studies when the temperatures are frigid and the snow is blowing. Autumn is the perfect time for breaking away from the schedule to relish God's creativity. Don't waste it!

Blessings ...
~Judy

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What Happens if it Doesn't Work?

>> Thursday, September 10, 2009

I was chatting with a new homeschooler via phone this morning. She's about two weeks into her school year and her son is just whizzing through the math and history products she chose. Her greatest concern was that she had chosen the "wrong" materials ... and what should she do about it?

I suspect this is a perennial question for many homeschoolers ... both new and veteran. And I don't know that there's any "right" answer to the question. But as I shared with this mom today, I do think there are a couple things to consider.

One ... are you concerned about the choice you made because your student doesn't like the material? While I'm always willing to listen to feedback from my kids, and will certainly consider any "legitimate" concerns ... "liking" your math or science curriculum is not a prerequisite for using it. I do agree that products that are boring or not well written are worth re-evaluation ... but I've also come to the conclusion that bells, whistles and making you "feel happy" are not necessary when it comes to learning.

Two ... are you concerned about the choice you made because the material doesn't seem to be a good fit for your student? This is an entirely different issue from your student not liking their school work. Now "not liking" your math or language arts may indeed be a symptom of a "poor fit", but if your student is whizzing through 3 or 4 math lessons each day and is acting bored ... or if you're utilizing a workbook based language arts program and your child is just not "getting it" ... then you may want to consider a different approach. Not all children learn the same ... some do better with hands-on tools, others excel with textbooks and workbooks. Sometimes there is some trial and error involved in figuring out which approach works best for your student. The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias is a great resource for discovering your child's learning style (and your teaching style!).

So make a change if a change is needed. Invest a bit of time now figuring out how your child learns best ... and make adjustments to fit that need. This is not a failure of your curriculum choosing abilities, but rather a great opportunity to tailor your homeschooling to your child's strengths. A momentary "glitch" in your school year that will reap years of benefit is not a bad thing!

Blessings ...
~Judy

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Mom is my teacher?

>> Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This is the time of year when veteran homeschoolers are getting back in the routine, and those who have chosen to move their students from public or private school to homeschooling are facing the unavoidable transition time.

There have been times in our 15+ years of homeschooling that my kids have given me the look that says "who says you get to be our teacher?" Or when we've faced a particularly difficult math or science concept, they seem to be thinking "are you sure that's right? I mean, it's not like you're a teacher or anything!" If these "doubts" come from students who have known nothing but homeschooling, imagine the leap of faith it takes for kids who are used to "real" teachers.

The fact of the matter is, we are "real" teachers. From the day we brought those wee ones home from the hospital we have been teaching them ... how to speak, how to eat, how to dress themselves, how to avoid the dangers in life, and so on ... In fact, I would argue that I am my child's best teacher.

So if you've made the leap to homeschooling this year, and your children are doubting your credentials for teaching ... loving persistence is the best response. If *you* believe in yourself as teacher, you will be better able to present a confident front as you begin each school day. In those areas where you doubt or struggle with your ability to teach, be transparent with your kids and tell them you'll be learning together. But never let them doubt your "right" to be their teacher. Give them space to adjust to this "new" role you've undertaken, but remain firm in your expectations of their respect.

Blessings on your new school year!!

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