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ADVICE & COUNSEL FROM A HOMESCHOOL EXPERT
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Teaching Boys How to Read

>> Monday, October 4, 2010

Are boys really all snips, and snails, and puppy dog tails? Do they really have little interest in all things academic?

Someone shared a very interesting article with me recently. It's titled How to Raise Boys Who Read. Since I happen to have one of those critters living under my roof and attending our homeschool, I thought this might be a good read. I wasn't disappointed!

The author points out that a recent report by the Center on Education Policy states substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. This disparity goes back to 1992, and in some states the percentage of boys proficient in reading is now more than ten points below that of girls.

The article then goes on to describe how many publishers appear to be attacking this problem by catering to a boy's "untutored tastes". Which means a whole line of literature centered around crude humor often related to bodily functions. It also addresses the approach some parents are taking by bribing their sons to read using technology as a reward.

What a great opportunity we have as homeschoolers to help turn this trend on its ear and reverse those statistics. Homeschooling is all about learning to develop a love for reading, in both young girls *and* young men.

I love the author's ending comment ... I offer a final piece of evidence that is perhaps unanswerable: There is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls. How many of these families, do you suppose, have thrown grossology parties?

Keep those boys reading!!!
~Judy

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And another year begins ...

>> Wednesday, August 25, 2010

All over the world homeschool students are breaking out their books and sharpening new pencils. I love the smell of new pencils. It brings back fond memories of my own school years and of those when my children were just beginning school. Even if there was an unopened package of pencils in the drawer, I always bought my kids new pencils for the first day of school. We looked for other ways to make that first day special as well ... new notebooks, a fun picnic or visit to the park with a book to read together, a new basket to hold all their books ... and the list goes on. August always held the promise of the start of a new adventure.

This year August held a different kind of adventure for us. Our oldest daughter was married and headed off to begin her own family memories. As she walked the aisle with her dad two weeks ago, I was remembering those school days with her, among many other things we did together. Bittersweet ... but also exciting to think that someday she may be making her own school day memories with her children.

Our other children are in high school and seemingly beyond the need for a "first day of school" celebration. Although ... my 17 year old did look at me this past weekend and ask why we hadn't gone out to buy new supplies for school this year. "We can't start school without that fun stuff" she lamented! So off we went to buy some new notebooks and pencils (even though much of their work is done on the computer these days).

What will you do to celebrate the first day of school this year?

Blessings ...
~Judy

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Summer Jobs

>> Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thankfully most kids aren't doing yard work with this type of mower anymore, but once upon a time we did. We *really* earned our money in those days! (Now I'm beginning to sound like my dad)

Summer jobs are another great resource for beating boredom. They are as wide and varied as your imagination. Cleaning brush, mowing lawns, weeding gardens, flipping burgers at the local hamburger joint, and the list goes on.

Summer jobs accomplish a whole list of things:

  • the value of scheduling (have to be to work on time)
  • the value of responsibility (most bosses won't step in and clean up your messes)
  • the value of saving money
  • the value of spending your money wisely
  • the joy of cashing your first (and subsequent) paychecks
  • the self-confidence related to a "good job" from your boss
  • the experience demonstrated on a resume
Now tell me ... what curriculum is going to accomplish all this for the price of transportation? Even if there aren't any local summer jobs to be had, find projects around home that you're willing to pay to have done. Help your kids become resourceful ... perhaps they'll want to try their hand at a home business.

You never know what opportunities will open up as the result of a summer job!

Happy hunting!
~Judy

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But Mom ... I'm booooored!

>> Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Summer is quickly approaching. I know this because my snow shovel is no longer residing by my front step and the sound of many lawn mowers is in the land. Another sound may also be heard as you finish up your school year. That is the sound of children bemoaning their lack of activity. "Moooom, there's nothing to do around here!"

I have the perfect solution! It's biblical, it looks great on a high school transcript or job resume, and it teaches character and servant hood. A very wise friend (who has been somewhat of a mentor on my homeschool journey) once recommended the age-old concept of volunteering. She shared how a volunteer position was/is a requirement for her junior high and high school children. Happy to take her up on that suggestion, we have also made volunteering a requirement for our students.

It was amazing to me the volunteer opportunities out there if you just begin looking. Our oldest child (now in college) spent some summers volunteering for an organization that runs an adaptive riding program for disabled children and adults at a local horse farm. Another child enrolled in a teen volunteer program at the nearby medical center and has had some awesome opportunities to work in the nursing home with aging adults. Our youngest began volunteering at a local Rescue Mission store not too long ago.

The cost is minimal ... transportation back and forth, schedule juggling, but the rewards are too numerous to count. So the next time you hear that familiar whine of boredom, tell your children about the perfect plan you have for their summer!

Blessings ...
~Judy

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Say that again?

>> Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My kids are beginning an on-line writing course this week. I've endured all the expected weeping and gnashing of teeth ... followed by the standard explanation of why I will not graduate children who cannot write well.

Coming directly on the heels of those conversations, a friend shared the funniest web site I have yet to see related to the massacre of the English language. WARNING: Be sure you're sitting down, not drinking anything hot, and have a full box of tissues handy. This is just too funny. (Standard disclaimer: I have not read the entirety of this site nor have I clicked on every link. So proceed with caution.)

Enjoy!
~Judy

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The faster I go ...

>> Friday, February 12, 2010

the behinder I get! That seems to be a common theme in the month of February. The holiday "high" is over, motivation is hard to come by, and for some of us, winter is lasting forever. Every day I wake up feeling "behind".

I was thinking about this as Jill, Kelly and I recorded our most recent series of webinars: "Has Your Homeschool Dream Become a Nightmare?" Take some time over the next week or so to listen to the three-part series. Each session is about 45 minutes long. I think you'll be encouraged!

But back to being "behind". As I had the opportunity yesterday to interact with a mom who is feeling "behind" ... it caused me to evaluate just what that means. I asked her to define "behind" for me. Does she feel behind because her kids aren't at the same place their public or private school peers are academically? Did some holiday conversation amongst cousins or in-laws leave her feeling as though she was lagging in her homeschool journey?

Comparison can be just as lethal for homeschool students as for others. Especially when it is combined with mid-winter lethargy and lack of motivation. Invest a few moments to set some concrete academic and spiritual goals for your children. Just 2 or 3 apiece. Write them down and refer to them often this time of year. Learn to compare your child's progress to your *goals* and not to their peers.

Don't give in to comparing and measuring yourself to others ... enjoy the freedom that comes from setting your own goals.

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