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Teachable Moments

I just wanted to remind myself (and perhaps you too) that some of the best learning that takes place is away from the formal lessons. I can get caught up in teaching and making sure my lessons are “just right” and be disappointed when things just don’t seem to be clicking. Then a funny thing happens, something else happens that reinforces what I have just been trying to teach. The lights go off and my students say, “I just found out about ______!”

Funny, that’s what I have been teaching this whole time! Most of the time our children are going to get the lesson from other sources that our class time and that’s okay! The more exposure, opportunities to hear, and ways to interact with a new concept, the more we understand. Here is what I have learned helps me to teach and also learn.

Take your time– New concepts may take days, months, maybe even longer for your child to understand. Knowledge is built one idea at a time. Think about when you learned to drive. You just didn’t take off and get on the highway. The first time my oldest drove he was going about 10 miles an hour and said, “Boy! This is fast!”  It took a bit of time for him to feel comfortable to drive on the interstate. 🙂 No, this isn’t our car, but I DO love sports cars, especially red ones!

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Small steps Taking learning in small, bite-sized pieces is better than throwing the whole lesson with new ideas at your son/daughter and expecting the material to be understood right away. You can’t eat a plate of spaghetti in one gulp, neither can your student learn to multiply 2×8 if they don’t know that it is really 2 sets of 8 items is the same thing.

Partner Learning thrives when we partner with our child.  We do it, we do it, you do it, is what my boss says when I am tutoring a student. In order to build understanding and confidence, a LOT of partnering needs to take place. There are still going to be mistakes made as your daughter learns something new. Reminding her of where she began and what she can do now helps her to continue on.  I helped my mom make brownies a dozen times before I got to make them myself. I was never so disappointed when I read the recipe incorrectly and added an extra cup of water to the mix! I think I needed just one more time with my mom before I did it myself… maybe not! lol

Step away It’s okay to put that lesson away and come back to it another time.  Just because your curriculum says the next lesson is about adjectives, don’t teach it if your son is still not understanding nouns. Add some hands-on activities before introducing adjectives.  (find nouns in the store ads, identify objects in the kitchen, build a model, make a list of favorite characters, games, foods,etc.)

Review It is important to review the concept/ idea you have been studying before moving on. If things are still unclear, don’t move forward until you feel they can be given more information without being overwhelmed.

Have a great week! ~Lisa~

Helping your Child Take Chances

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I love Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus books and videos. She is the cool science teacher who says to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy,  She is the kind of teacher that I wish each of us could have had some time in our school career.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could let things go and have that mantra for our children as well instead of trying to stick to a textbook? Well, I think we can if we take small steps, which I hope will lead to bigger steps, and then a lifestyle of grace and seeing possibilities.

Start with something in which your child is good to build confidence. Does she write fantastic stories or does he fly through his math computation? By showing them they are good at something they will have the confidence to try something that is not the easiest for them to do.

Start small. You can set a goal in what you want to accomplish, but make sure it is achievable and not overwhelming. If you want your son to write a book report, start with having them just give the book a thumbs up or a thumbs down. The next time they read a book they can still give it a thumbs up/ down, but add one sentence about why they rated it that way, and so on until they have written a paragraph and then another, and another…

Go s-l-o-w-l-y. By taking the time to build confidence, your daughter/ son is more likely to try something harder. Are you trying to teach the multiplication tables and it just isn’t working? Go back to addition and show him how 2 + 2 + 2 = 6 and that 3 sets of 2 are the same, only faster! I found food always helped. 🙂

Enjoy the process. Too many times all I can see is what I have not accomplished and just want to give up. If I can set a small goal and meet that, then take a break and relax  (and eat chocolate) for a few minutes, then I can come back to what I am working on. I like to review what I have done and set another achievable goal until I finish what I have begun. This doesn’t all have to be done at once, it can take several days or months, depending upon the task or subject area. Allow plenty of time so that you have a confident, risk-taking learner.

Give lots of praise! I know when I hear a parent say their child is doing well because of what I have taught them I feel like I can leap over a tall building in a single bound! Show your daughter/ son what they have accomplished and let them see how proud you are of them.

Be a role model. I am confident that you can teach your child to take chances and good risks. Let your daughter/ son see you are taking risks too. For instance, you might be shy and you show your child you are going to reach out and talk to someone at church. You might not feel confident in your writing abilities, but you read your story to your son during sharing time at the end of the lesson. You can ask for feedback and suggestions.

Have a great week! ~Lisa ~

 

 

 

Living in Thanksgiving

 

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While Thanksgiving is a national holiday as well as a historical event that we commemorate, I like to personally take time out to ponder those things in which I am thankful. How can I be thankful each and every day? How can I cultivate an atmosphere of thankfulness in my home? As I am working on this in my own life I hope you will join me.

Here are some ways you can model and teach thankfulness to your child.  Put out a plate of cookies and make some hot chocolate to prove a cozy atmosphere to think, write, create, and share. Grab some lined and plain paper, writing utensils, markers, and crayons. Here we go!

Make a list of the people and things that you are thankful for. Share with each other. Did anyone else have the same ideas as you?

Write a note. Choose one person from the list to make them a card and tell them why you are thankful for them. Mail it! There is nothing like getting a personal note in the mail.:)

Create an acrostic poem out of the word Thanks or Thanksgiving. If you have a young write, partner write. Have your daughter/ son decorate it. Hang up your poems in a place to read often.

Make a thankful jar. Use a decorative jar or have your son or daughter decorate a jar and add slips of paper of what you are thankful for. Pull out a slip each day at breakfast (or dinner time) and talk about what was written.

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I’d like to take a moment to tell you that I am so thankful for you! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my blog and a huge thank you to teaching your family. Many thanks to those of you who sent me notes of encouragement with my husband’s recent triple bypass surgery and recovery. It meant so much to me and helped when I was feeling discouraged.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy the holiday in making great memories with your family and friends.

~ Lisa ~

The Growth Mindset

The buzzword, “growth mindset”, has been around in the field of education for several years now and I think it is worth considering when you are teaching your daughter/son. It can also help you as a teacher and a student.

What is it? According to an article that I was reading at Mindsetworks.com, “Dr. Carol Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.”

Did you know our brains are able to be rewired? The connections can be strengthened, changed, and reinforced depending upon the actions we take. You can do that for your child as you homeschool.

Praise your son/ daughter in the areas where s/he is strong and encourage in the areas where there are weaknesses. For instance, if your daughter is a great speller but is having difficulty with more complex words, praise her and show her all the words she can spell with ease. Show her what she has done with single-syllable words and help her break those longer words down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Praise her efforts and come alongside her.

Does your son struggle in math? Perhaps long division is a difficult concept.  Try pointing out the concept that he knows, “Wow! You did a fantastic job on this short division problem (16/4).  Now let’s try 168/4. Work on the problem together and do several more. You can encourage him by saying, “I know you can do this; I will help you.” give lots of high fives and fist bumps along the way.

It is important to come alongside your student and show her you are supporting her and that she can do it. Think about when you were learning to ride a bicycle. You had someone else run alongside you, holding the bike up so that it wouldn’t tip over. You needed this until you had the confidence to balance and do it yourself. That process and the mastery of a new concept or idea is what having an, “I can do it.” mindset is all about.

Here is a book that I believe will help your child to understand the power of thinking, the power of their brain. You can click on the image to read about the book.

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Everyone makes mistakes. That can be hard for a child to understand and give themselves grace to learn or grow from that experience. I have to remind myself of this quite often as well. 🙂 Here are some books to read and discuss:

Beautiful Oops! is a quick read, but there are so many things you can talk about with your son as you read it. Don’t see mistakes as failures, but as possibilities.

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I have a confession, when I was a little girl I said’, “I can’t!” A Lot.  I remember my mom saying, “Can’t never did anything.” She didn’t let me quit on things and I wasn’t all that happy with her at the time, but I have come to realize that she was teaching me a life lesson that I try to apply in my life when things get tough. I can’t do it by myself, but with God’s help, I can. The title of this next book is a sentence that I want to adopt in my own thinking.:)

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I want to encourage you today; you can teach your child. You can help them because you are a good tutor. Your son/ daughter will get the difficult concepts that at first may seem monumental. Keep praising them, walking alongside them, and pretty soon that tough thing will be added to the growing list of things they can do.

Have a great week!  ~ Lisa ~

 

Combating Isolation in Homeschooling

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Homeschooling can lend itself to becoming isolated. I remember once when the boys were young I was desperate for another adult voice. Anyone. Would. Do. I have never been a fan of recorded messages, but I remember vividly the one that began, “Hello! This is Bob from Hollywood!” I was so happy to hear his voice, even though it was a recording and he really didn’t call me to chat. I realized then that I needed to find other women who had chosen to homeschool. I don’t think I would have done very well had I not found others in whom I could confide and be encouraged.

I consider homeschooling to be a profession, a calling, and a lifestyle and not always an easy thing to do. As we embark on this school year I am encouraging you to find others who you can talk with, who you can share about your struggles and your victories. You need a cheerleader who can rejoice with you as you tell them about listening to your son read a book on their own, watching your daughter divide 3,978 by 32, or helping your son write a story.

Maybe you are thinking, “That’s all good for you to say, Lisa, but how do I do that?” I am glad you asked! I do not have an exhaustive list, but I pray that these ideas can happen for you or give you ideas to help.

Invite a family over for a play date.  You don’t want to mess up the house or them to see your mess? That was my case, the house was a mess and I just wanted to get out for a while.  You could meet at a park for PE, share a picnic lunch, give the children a chance to meet others, and burn off some steam.

Join a homeschool support group. There are Facebook groups of homeschoolers and you could see if there is a group that meets in your area. If there is not, would you be willing to create a group? You can meet at a park, library, or a coffee shop. I was thrust into being the leader of a group, but I loved it and that group was a lynchpin for me throughout my years of homeschooling.

Listen to podcasts about homeschooling. Here is one that has all sorts of topics; I am sure you will find something to encourage you. This can help you not feel so isolated.  Homeschool Snapshots 

Call a friend or family member who is homeschool friendly and ask them if you can get together regularly. They don’t have to be homeschooling themselves, but that would be a bonus!

Talk to your husband. If you are married and your husband is supportive of you homeschooling, talk to him. I would start off with the good things that happened today and then discuss any difficulties you are having. There were many days where all I could think of that was positive is we went to school. 🙂  I did find it very helpful to just have a listening ear. Dale couldn’t solve the problems, but he could give me his time, which I really appreciated. I also realized that if he somewhat “knew”  what was happening he felt more involved in our school.

Find a mentor. I can’t thank the ladies who helped me enough when I homeschooled. I was scared I was going to mess up my children, forget to teach them something vital (like their name), or wonder why I was doing this. The women who had been homeschooling longer than me were a Godsend to encourage and help me. If you don’t have anyone local, you can still meet online and share concerns over a cup of coffee or a soda.

Have a great week! Find some people to encourage and support you and be a blessing to them too!

By the way, The picture at the beginning of my post made me laugh and I hope it brings a smile to your face.

– Lisa-