In honor of President's Day, I made up an Internet Scavenger Hunt for The Homeschool Post. We hope you enjoy it!
In this 19-minute TED Talk delivered by the ever-brilliant Sir Ken Robinson, he argues that we have a culture of compliance, not curiosity.
And further, he states, "I just don't believe it's (ADHD) an epidemic...if you sit kids down hour after hour doing low-grade clerical work, don't be surprised if they start to fidget..."
This and many more things he will say to get you thinking...and make you laugh all the while...
As homeschooling parents we are accustomed to fielding all sorts of questions about what it’s like to homeschool. These questions are typically well-intentioned, however, some tend to be downright silly.
I decided to poll my almost 13-year-old and almost 10-year-old about the kinds of questions they get asked from other kids. They meet other children through many different venues, and it’s easy to forget that our kids are out there fielding questions, too.
One of the great things about homeschooling in an area rich in early American History is that many opportunities abound for academic enrichment on a variety of topics.
Case in point: if you are in the Northern New Jersey area, you might want to check out the homeschool workshops offered in Morris County. There are many programs for homeschoolers during the school year, many of a historical nature...registration is easy and inexpensive at typically $6 per student (one adult is free.)
Last week, we partook in a homeschool workshop offered at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown. The theme was Civil War Forts and Sieges. After getting acquainted with the museum's current exhibit, "Gone for a Soldier:" Jerseymen in the Civil War, and discussing possible strategies of fort-placement deployed in this time period, we sat cross-legged in the foyer of the grand nineteenth-century mansion and proceeded to build replicas of southern Civil War forts out of Legos!
My two chose to model Fort Walker at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (and you thought that was just a fancy vacation destination) but there were two major southern forts built there during the Civil War to protect the entrance to Port Royal Sound from Northern invasion.
After completing the models, we were able to find out more information about some of the lessor known characters that were not so lucky as to have graced the pages of our American History books. One of these characters, was the twelve-year old son of General Ulysses S. Grant, Fred Grant. At the tender age of twelve, he was allowed to accompany his father on his war campaign -- something that would certainly be unimaginable in our society today.
We created posters that listed some interesting facts about Fred Grant. In case you are looking to impress someone at a cocktail party, here are a few tidbits for your arsenal:
We came away with several thoughts, one in particular being that twelve year olds sure have it easy these days!
For your further Civil War edification, here are a few fun words and phrases from that time period:
I could go on, but if you want to know more, you're going to have to hustle on down to Macculloch Hall and pick up the full list of "Words and Phrases." They will also give you a neat reading list of Civil War themed literature (fiction and non-fiction) for kids ages 7-10 and ages 11 and up.
And if you are in the area, and are so inclined, please check out Macculloch Hall's homeschool workshops for the fall 2012, they are doing some great stuff, including professional art lessons that will focus on political cartooning (just in time for the November election) and in the spring, they will lead a series of four classes that will walk through the children's classic novel, The Secret Garden, utilizing the mansions house and garden. You can't get this stuff just anywhere!
For more info or to register, call 973-538-2404, ext 10 with name, number and age of children, and provide your contact number and email address.
Disclaimer: all information above was provided by Macculloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown, NJ on the day of our visit and is not necessarily complete. I received no monetary or in kind compensation for this article, only a warm-fuzzy-feeling for "doing good."
I have been meaning to sit down and write about how to achieve balance in one's personal life (whether or not you homeschool this is an important topic), but I just haven't had the time.
Clearly, it's time I took my own advice.
Spring is an unusually busy time of year for our family. Academic pursuits, field trips, music lessons, sports, martial arts exams, work, activities, responsibilities...the list is seemingly endless. I know as homeschoolers, we tend to think we have so much flexibility that we often end up booking every spare minute with something we believe is either necessary or enriching (wouldn't it be nice if everything necessary was also enriching?)
It's during these times when I am struggling to stay on top of the laundry, much less sit down and write, that I am reminded that obtaining balance is an art.
Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.
Unfortunately, as is often the case in life, this is "easier said than done." To this end, I have been pondering the top five indicators that signal we have become over-scheduled. They are, in no particular order:
Things that used to give you joy have become burdensome. This is a tough one, and can range from homeschooling (ouch), to your job, to a volunteer position that you once found rewarding. It may be time to ask yourself some difficult questions. Am I making this too hard? Can I do things differently? Is there someone I can ask for help? Is it time to hand this over to someone else? Make the decision and then stick to it, regardless of how disappointed you think other people may feel. Most people struggle with over-scheduling, too. They will understand.
Make a list of five things you love to do. If you are not doing at least one of those things every day, it's time to make a change. Extended thought: If you do not actually have five things you love to do, it's time to make a change. This got me to thinking of my five things. I had to think for a few minutes, which made me think I need to re-think things.
Little things set you off. We all have our buttons, but often we feel more in control if we can manage the little things. I hate crumbs on the couch and baseball sand on the wood floors. I spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning this stuff up throughout the day, when it's probably more productive to just wait until everyone has gone to bed to deal with it. The busier I am, the more I obssess about the crumbs and the sand.
You can't finish one thing before you are interrupted to start another. I'm not talking about every day mom-stuff, like being asked for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before you can even exit the shower (those things usually resolve themselves as children grow older). I'm talking about focusing on one thing, and getting distracted by another. For instance, every week I have to plan my world history lessons for our cooperative learning group. This usually takes about two - four hours of dedicated time. I can often be de-railed by a host of things that seem important at the time (emails requesting information or emails that need to be sent). If I fail to prioritize, teaching world history (which I love to do) could quickly become a burdensome chore (see Number 1).
The quality of your work (in whatever form that may be) has become sub par. If you have your hands in five different projects, but can only execute one or two proficiently, what is the point of taking on all five? Better to be brilliant at one or two things, than mediocre at many.
Sometimes we discover balance by crossing our personal lines and losing focus and sanity for a brief time. The trick is to recognize it in yourself and make adjustments before you lose sight of the ultimate goal.
And what is the ultimate goal? Is everyone healthy? Is everyone happy? Then it's been a good day. I'd write more, but tomorrow I have the third homeschool field trip in two weeks, and I'd better get some sleep.
"You must be so patient."
If I have heard that once, I've heard it a hundred times. I must be so patient. Patient to homeschool my kids.
Hmmm. Patient. Patient? What is patience anyway? According to Wikipedia (What? You don't trust Wikipedia?) patience is "the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast."
I definitely have not been patient.
I prefer the Buddhist take on the subject, "patience refers to not returning harm, rather than merely enduring a difficult situation. It is the ability to control one's emotions even when being criticized or attacked."
In my daily homeschool journey, I have definitely been delayed. I have definitely been provoked. I have definitely been under strain, annoyed, and angry. Seriously, how many times can one child drop a pencil? I have heard every excuse known to man and womankind. "My stomach hurts. I just hit my knee on the chair. I have a headache." These comments generally spew forth during the math portion of our day, just to be clear. Visions of children flunking SAT tests swirl round in my head.
In world history study group a few weeks ago, my energetic and ever-so-bright eight year old flung up his hand in answer to the following question, "Who invented the printing press?" His answer? "Christopher Copernicus!" Well, first of all it's Nicholas Copernicus (Chris Copernicus, Nick Copernicus, who can keep track?), but more importantly, the correct answer was Johannes Gutenberg. Yes, it was entertaining, but I mostly thought, "Gee, glad we don't believe in standardized testing."
So, yes, we doubt ourselves. And not just because of a wrong answer now and then. I am not necessarily patient, but I am brave. I am brave because even though every day is not perfect, I still believe this works.
It's easier to be brave when you know others are experiencing the same doubts. I rely on those in my homeschooling circle to straighten me out when I need it most. I have the good fortune of being in the company of some the brightest and best in the business. One afternoon in the presence of said circle, over a good cup of calming tea, I came to the realization that some of my recent struggles could be explained by a change that I had decided to make that wasn't being received too well. A little tweaking here and there can make all the difference. The biggest challenge of my life has been to let go of the idea of being "schooled." It is a daily exercise in self-control.
I don't think I am patient, but I am determined. And most days, I have to be brave, too. One of these days, I might even stop worrying about Christopher Copernicus. Pass the tea.
Kids say the darnedest things, right?
My eight year old is no exception. I could write a book titled "Crazy Things My Kid Says." Since we homeschool, I have the privilege of hearing almost all of these "crazy things" and enjoying them thoroughly.
During a world history class last week, which I facilitate through our cooperative learning group, we were discussing what it means to be a true "Renaissance Man" (or woman!). We were talking about the great Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. In learning about Da Vinci, we passed around images of his most famous paintings, one of which was the Mona Lisa.
In sharing the history of the Mona Lisa with the kids, we talked about some of the mystery behind Leonardo's most famous work, and how people often insist that he hid codes and clues in his paintings. As I was holding up the 8 1/2 x 11 color copy of the Mona Lisa, my eight year old jumped up and said, "Mom, I see a cat!" "A cat?" He ran over to me (yes, he got out of his chair without permission) and pointed to "the cat." Do you see it, too?
You may see it right away, maybe many people do. Or, it may have never jumped out at you as it jumped out at my eight year old.
What a glorious reminder that we all see things differently. Who's to say Da Vinci didn't mean to paint a cat on Mona Lisa's chest?
You never know. I understand he was a mysterious guy.