My new FAVORITE homeschool site!

I can’t believe I didn’t hear of this fabulous site sooner! Where has it been all my life?

Curriculum Choice Homeschool Review Blog

Real reviews about real homeschool products by homeschool moms who know what they are talking about (and who know how to blog) and who know the sorts of questions we all want to ask about the books and programs we’ve never tried before.

This site is a must-read for homeschool moms!

 

Advertisements

Organic Movement

As in, organic dancing. Think soft and gentle movement, as opposed to the harsher, ligament-endangering dance styles:

My daughters have been attending a fabulous dance school that teaches dancing in a way that taps into the body’s natural ability to move with beauty and grace, rather than forcing it to fit some acrobatically challenging or dangerously joint-crunching moves (as is the case with ballet, gymnastic dance, and some other forms of dance that teach children how to manipulate the body’s natural capabilities in order to win points or earn money).

This healthy, more organic form of dancing is called the Isadora Duncan method. Here is an example:

I wish my own camera had been good enough to capture the amazing movements of my girls as they moved across the dance floor at their recital, but alas, someone else’s YouTube video will have to suffice. Here are some great stills of the girls, though:

Note the modest costumes? The lack of sparkles, spangles, and stage makeup? Yeah–it is another aspect of Isadora Duncan’s dance methods that I LOVE. It is Au Naturel in EVERY sense of the word!

And the boys?

Well, they were bored silly through the entire recital. They made poor Dad miss out on most of it, as he toted fussy toddlers around in the foyer to try to keep them quiet. Oh well–we can’t all be lovers of the arts! 🙂

The Search for Quality School Books

Jennefer at the Smooth Stones Academy blog has recently posted an excellent, informative run-down of the different books they have tried in their homeschool, complete with her notes about what is and is not working. For parents who need advice and guidance before making those school book purchases, this is a must-read! You can read her post here: http://smoothstonesacademy.blogspot.com/2010/03/reflections-on-academic-hits-and-misses.html

For other great book ideas, you can also check out Cellista’s weekly homeschool reports, which chronicle the weekly books read, assignments completed, and activities undertaken in her home school (though I’m biased in recommending this site–Cellista uses the same curriculum that I do!). Here’s a recent report from her blog:

http://cellista.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/weekly-report-21-2/

Art Lessons for Kids–From the Masters

My daughter Prima is the artist of the family. She’s always sketching, painting, and even constructing 3D projects, like the time she crafted this 3-D elephant out of twist ties and painter’s tape:

I used to bemoan the fact that we couldn’t find an art teacher to help guide Prima’s talents, but now she’s learning art from the masters, thanks to this home-based art program:

The program: Artistic Pursuits.

Don’t let this book’s poorly drawn cover fool you (in fact, I’ll bet it was drawn by a young child who studied it!), these books are excellent. Basically, each lesson introduces the child to a well-known art classic, asks the child to notice certain aspects of that work (color, line, shading, perspective), then teaches the child how to do the same in their own drawing.

To see some sample lessons, click HERE, then scroll down to see the sample pages.

Needless to say, art is one of my daughter’s favorite subjects!

Teaching Poetry

Do your children know the difference between a quatrain and a couplet? Between Haiku and Limericks? If not, head on over to the most helpful Small World blog, where she is hosting an excellent WordSmithery for kids. Her fun exercises will have your kids composing poetry in various forms in a way that will help them better identify those forms in their literature studies! 🙂

Holiday Learning Fun

The idea that the holidays are a time to cease learning and take a vacation is detrimental to young minds. It teaches children to view learning as a chore from which one must escape in order to have fun. Instead, I teach my children that continued learning is not only good for the mind, but a fun time to be shared with friends and family! 🙂

In our home school, we continued to do schoolwork during the holidays (except Christmas Eve, Christmas day, or the weekend). However, my children were rewarded with a fun activity after they accomplished all ten subjects each day! Here are some of the things we did:

CRAFT DAY:

We went to the home of another homeschooling family and made glitter snowflakes and candy cane reindeer!

BAKING DAY:

On a different day, we invited our homeschool friends to come over for some healthy baking and treat-making!

First, the kids learned about whole grains and good health while they learned how to grind whole wheat flour. Then they baked their own miniature bread loaves with the fresh-ground flour:

Next, they got to make fun (though less healthy) chocolate mouse treats:

The end result: our children continued to learn during the holidays, but they worked with greater motivation, knowing that if their assignments were completed with excellence, they would enjoy a festive educational activity for the remainder of the afternoon.

Children Need Time to Create

Charlotte Mason (the renowned educator/founder of Ambleside teacher’s college in England) taught parents and educators that,

“The morning . . . is much the best time for lessons and every sort of mental work; if the whole afternoon cannot be spared for out-of-door recreation, that is the time for mechanical tasks such as [crafts], drawing, practising . . . ” —Home Education, p. 23

While in public school, my children did not have afternoon time to explore the outdoors or to be creative, because they spent their entire evening doing homework!

But in the more natural, organic setting of our home school, all EIGHT subjects are easily completed before lunchtime (because home schools move quickly, due to the lack of crowd control issues), and afterwards, my children are free to explore and create the things that interest them!

Here’s one example–my daughter Prima wants a pony. I told her “no way.” So what did she do? She began to construct one herself, out of old cardboard boxes:

See the pajamas? If I had let her, she would’ve stayed up ALL NIGHT working on this thing. Charlotte Mason was right–afternoon/evening is definitely the time to let children explore their creativity!

I couldn’t believe she was able to design and implement this entire project without any patterns or adult assistance. In school, every project had instructions and a list of requisite supplies. But Prima apparently prefers to create things freehand:

During Prima’s public school days, projects like this were unheard of–she was too busy trying to get all of her homework done before bed.

A few weeks ago, the kids saw me making a pie. This is something they didn’t get to see when they were in public school, because I prefer to bake at midday (while the baby naps). This time, they got to join me:

And while they rolled, cut, and baked, you can bet that I was teaching about the art of pie-making (and its historical roots in the American colonies) which put a tangible (and tasty!) spin on history that led to further discussions of early colonial life. I actually had to get out the history books to answer their questions!

Our discussion became so lively and educational that I found myself wishing I had started inviting the kids to help me out in the kitchen a lot earlier–little Buttercup actually showed more interest in history that day than I ever experienced at her age!

But the best result that day (aside from yummy pies!) was the passion for learning and the feeling of accomplishment that my children experienced that day–proving that education isn’t all about worksheets and standardized tests.

Learning MUST include the feeling of accomplishment that comes from creating something meaningful, while at the same time recognizing one’s place in history!