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I've been all over the board when it comes to homeschooling.  Well, maybe not all over the board, but pretty close to it.

We started homeschooling  way back in , gosh, what year was that?  My daughter was in 5th grade when we pulled her out.  She's now a senior in college (doing really well, thank you!) Wow.  What an adventure it has been!  When we first took her out, we spent the remaining months of the school year (it was March) in a rather relaxed state.  Not as relaxed as I would have liked it to have been knowing what I know now about all the different styles of homeschooling, but relaxed for what I knew.  Her emotional and physical health were my priority.  They were definitely more important than academics so since math and science totally stressed her out, we didn't do much with it at all.  Oh, I got raised eyebrows on that one all right.  Especially from family members and others that just don't get the concept of homeschooling or that education does NOT have to look like what it does in public schools.  I have to admit I allowed it to unnerve me a bit and I really wish  I hadn't.  I wish I would have read more about Charlotte Mason and more about unschooling back then.  If I had, we would have dumped ALL academics the rest of that year and just focused on nature study and art study. Oh well, I can't change the past.  But I can learn from it and from the experiences of others.

The following year we added my son to our homeschool (he finished out 1st grade but wanted to be home with us) and it was more of a school at home setup.  We did okay, used Sonlight for most things and Abeka Math.  We enjoyed the Sonlight materials but threw out a lot of the fluff by the end of the year.  The rest of the years was me piecing together this and that- but still looking for 'curriculum' for most subjects-  other than science the year we still lived in York and the kids did Envirothon with the homeschool group there.  Oh , THAT was grand!  I think they still look back as one of their best homeschooling experiences.

Time went by and now I have my senior in college, a senior in high school (yes, still at home!) AND an almost 7 year old.

My schooling style with THIS young man is completely different.  It's even progressed during the last year.  I started out completely on board with the Charlotte Mason approach but quickly decided, that while I love her philosophy,  a mixture of her methods and unschooling methods may be more along our lines of educational philosophy at this time in our lives.  And it's definitely more in line with my son's needs and learning style.

I'm looking forward to sharing with you the things we are doing - the reading, the memory work, the nature walks, the timeline, the US map, Life of Fred, and, most importantly, the amount of FREE PLAY he is allowed.  Oh yes, and the JOY.  🙂

In the meantime, I have dinner to cook, a Lemongrass Spa event to plan, a 6 year old to read to, and lots of things to catch up on from the week before driving my oldest son off to his girlfriend's grandmother's home where he will be leaving for a trip to Florida to see his girlfriend.  So while you are waiting for the next Homeschool Update Segment,  WHAT KIND OF CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE ON YOUR HOMESCHOOL JOURNEY?

 

 

 

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2015-03-27 21.11.36March is Read Aloud Month.  I can't believe I almost missed this opportunity to blog about what I consider to be THE MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do for your child's educational success!

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I'm a HUGE advocate of reading.  Anyone that has seen the stacks of books I bring home from the library or that are on my own bookshelves knows this.  One of my favorite times of the day is the time I sit down with my sons to read.  Yes, I read to the older one as well as the youngest.  I will read to my oldest son for as long as he will allow me and I enjoy the coziness of cuddling up with my youngest on the couch under a soft blanket and all the giggling that ensues. So when I hear or read about other parents who say they just don't have time to read much to their kids, it boggles my mind.

The importance of reading aloud is often overlooked as parents sometimes miss the role that reading to their children plays in the child's development.  Only 48% of kids are read to daily in the United States. Yet research has shown time and time again that reading aloud to your child is actually the single most important thing you can do to prepare him or her for reading and other learning.  Not only does this social time offer a chance of emotional connection with your child, but it promotes vocabulary, literacy skills and improves the child's overall language development and reading ability.

Furthermore, it's important to KEEP READING to your children, even AFTER they have learned to read on their own. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends reading to children beginning at birth.  This is wonderful, but lets not forget to keep reading even after the child develops the skills to read for themselves.  Studies have actually shown that those children that are read aloud to will read for their own pleasure more than the kids who are not read to.

Sharon Younger of Chicagonow.com wrote an article describing 7 reasons why reading aloud to older kids is important including enjoyment, life lessons, building of vocabulary and the fact that children LISTEN on a different level than what they READ on. When you read to them at a level above their own reading level (in other words, at their LISTENING level), they will get excited about the plot which is more complicated than he or she can read for themselves and this will further their hook for reading.

Reading aloud to your child is a true predictor of their success in this world.  Success in reading which leads to success in life.  Take time to read aloud and expose your child to not only the story knowledge of a quality book, but rare words and ideas that you truly do not always cover in your day-to-day conversations. Take time to read aloud and give your child this quality time to practice listening - a skill that is of utmost importance not only for academic learning but to prevent YOU from having to repeat things over and over .  There is SO much skill provided in just sitting down and reading to your child each day.

So turn the TV off or yeah, even the LeapPad in my own home, and read to your child.

One of his favorites!
One of his favorites!

Readaloud.org states that just 15 minutes a day can have a HUGE impact.  Check out their information on this@http://www.readaloud.org/15minutes.html

I challenge you!!  Read to your child today for 15 minutes.  Then do it again tomorrow.  Then do it again the next day, and the next and the next......

 

What Book(s) Did You Read To Your Child Today?

 

 

Resources:

Readaloud.org

Trelease-on-reading.com

Study Finds Reading to Children of All Ages Grooms Them to Read More on Their Own

7 Reasons Why Reading Aloud to Older Kids is Still Very Important

Reach Out and Read

Read To Your Children

 

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I love being a mother.

All Photos by Pixabay
All Photos by Pixabay

I love raising my children.  I love nurturing their every need: protection, food, shelter, love and all that this entails.

I also love bears.

black-bear-50293_640Maybe it's because I can so closely relate to the stories of how a mamma bear will protect it's young.

abcnews.go.com  - woman plays dead

newser.com   - Mama bear mauls jogger

Is it any wonder that they use the term mamma bear in a parenting safety app on phones?  (  http://mamabearapp.com/ )

In my life as a parent, I've played all sorts of 'mama bears':

The mama who goes about doing her own thing, but always watching with those eyes in the back of my head.  Oh yes, young ones, I know what you are doing...

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The mama bear who convinces the young child it's quiet time, so that I CAN TAKE A NAP!

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The mama bear who trees her cub (time-out in human terms) to teach them a lesson or protect them from harm.

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The mama bear who GETS RIGHT IN  YOUR FACE and says "Hey! That's my kid - don't you DARE treat my kid that way!"

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And the mama bear who will FIGHT.  The mama bear who  will stop at NOTHING to defend her child and protect that child from ANY PERCEIVED harm.  Yeah, that's the one.

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Don't mess with mama bear!

And it doesn't really matter what that perceived harm is, does it?  Whether it's the bully on the bus, the stranger who makes a nasty comment, the neighbor woman who somehow thinks it's okay her child tripped yours, the doctor who wants to inject toxic poisons into the bloodstream,the librarian who doesn't get your child's special needs, the guy next door, the boys walking in the mall,  the school district that doesn't truly know the educational needs of your specific child,  or the chemicals that wreak havoc on your child's brain that so many people are fooled into thinking is actually 'food'....

We mothers can all identify with those protective instincts of a mama bear.  We will leap in and defend our child from whatever we perceive as harmful. Don't mess with this mama bear's cubs.  Don't toy with them, don't hassle them, don't mess with their brains.  I'm watching.

 

Can you identify with Mama Bear?

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Book Title:  A Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling How-To Manual

Author:  Catherine Levison

Genre: Homeschooling; Education

Pages:  89

Publisher: Champion Press

Why Did I Choose It?  To give myself a better overall picture of the Charlotte Mason method to help determine if it truly is the method I wish to use for my youngest child.

A Bit From The Back Cover:  The immensely popular ideas of Charlotte Mason have inspired educators for many decades.  Her unique methodology as written about in her six-volume series established the necessary protocols for an education above and beyond that which can be found in  traditional classroom  settings. In A Charlotte Mason Education, Catherine Levison has collected the key points of Charlotte Mason's methods and presents them in a simple, straightforward way that will allow families to quickly maximize the opportunities of homeschooling.  With weekly schedules, a challenging and diverse curriculum will both inspire and educate your child.  A Charlotte Mason Education is the latest tool for parents seeking the best education for their children.

Review:  Why did I not pick up this book over 8 years ago when I began our homeschool adventure?!  Oh, I know why.... at the time I was just overwhelmed by all that was happening in our lives to extensively learn anything other than what I already knew... but oh I wish I had!  I believe Catherine Levison gives a wonderfully simplistic overall introduction to the Charlotte Mason method and demonstrates how to begin the journey in a way that is not over boggling to the homeschool parent's mind in any way.  The book, though only brief, is chock full of resources and suggestions on how to approach the subject areas using the Charlotte Mason approach.   It is well-organized and easily understood.  Each chapter is only a few pages long at most and gives a brief but thorough overview on how to approach the subject with Charlotte's methodology, an approach unlike that of the public schools of our day  - school days should be fun, relaxed and igniting a passion for learning within our children. It has given me the affirmation that I needed that this is the approach for us and that it will be most doable and, most likely, by far less time-consuming than any other method I've used previously. This will be a resource that I will keep handy to refer to over and over again.

Other Books By This Author:

More Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling How To Manual,  A Literary Education

 

Fellow homeschoolers, let me know what you think of this book! And feel free to list other recommendations for my other readers!

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This post is being written impulsively and I already know I'll be posting more in the future as this will be rather incomplete but, as I sat down to write about one topic, this topic just leaped out of nowhere into my head and I decided to go for it.

From the perspective of being a mom, I know it's very important to teach our kids about natural health and the difference between food products that is the main makeup of the standard American diet and REAL FOOD.

From the perspective of a homeschool mom who sometimes looks through health curriculums, I know there's not a whole lot out there that comes from this perspective.

So what I want to do here is suggest on HOW to go about teaching your kids about REAL FOOD and the differences between conventional thought and non-conventional, the latter being the thought I find to be scientifically proven and the better, healthier way to go.

The first and foremost thing you can do is have discussions with your child.  Involve your child during food preparation time and while washing your fresh greens, cutting tomatoes and onions, and sautéing some grass-fed beef or chicken, discuss WHY you have chosen this meal.  What nutrients is it providing?  Why did you choose organic greens over conventional greens that are less expensive?  Why did you choose the grass-fed beef from the farmer down in the valley instead of the bonus pack of conventional beef on sale at the local grocery store?

Secondly, involve your child in recipe selection, menu prep and grocery shopping.  Give your child hands on experience in selection of nutrient dense foods, delectable treats that are actually healthy and teach them how to pick out the best produce and meats at the store.

Thirdly, find what reading materials/curriculums are available.  This is the part I hope to add onto in the future.  Thus far I have two particular sources that I find beneficial for kids.

  1.  The Omnivore's Dilemma Young Reader's Edition - This is an edition of MichaelPollan's book written specifically for younger readers.  You can easily assign an older child to read this, but I suggest it as a read aloud to do as a family.
  2. Real Food Nutrition & Health  - Kristen Michaelis has an astounding blog Food Renegade and is a mother and passionate advocate for real food.  Use this book and her blog as tremendous sources for endless hours of discussion and education on Real Food.  She actually has a number of books and classes on her site. I was pleasantly surprised when looking for a link to include here that she has an edition of Real Food Nutrition and Health for younger kids now!  It looks really good and something I'll have to check out for my younger son in a couple of years 🙂
  3. Blogs - There are lots of blogs out there on real food.  I already mentioned Food Renegade written by Kristen Michaelis.  Others I recommend are 100 Days of Real Food, and Rubies & Radishes. There are a LOT more, but like I said - this post is written a bit impulsively.  I plan on working on searching out more books and completing a list of good blogs.  Blogs can be read by you and then posts you feel are pertinent or relevant can be read by your child and then followed by a family discussion.

Give me some feedback.  What are some other sources on Real Food that you use in the education of your child?