Homeschool Gets More Media Publicity

Okay, this is one of the best articles I’ve ever read about homeschooling–ever!

For those of you who have never heard of the Onion, I should probably explain that the incredible, hilarious article about homeschool that I’m about to post here is a comic piece–meant to be funny–but one that hits so close to home that you have to laugh. And oh, how I laughed!!

The Onion’s aim is to help us laugh about current events, and while I don’t endorse them often (because their videos and articles sometimes have expletives and other un-family friendly content), I wholeheartedly endorse this article, giving it a homeschooling mom’s five star rating! 🙂

Here is the article: http://www.theonion.com/articles/increasing-number-of-parents-opting-to-have-childr,17159/

A Week in the Life of a Homeschooler

I’ve got to confess how much I LOVE reading Cellista’s homeschool blog! Her weekly reports always illustrate the wholesome, balanced nature of home school life, including not just school work, books, and academic projects, but family time, boy scouts, even cozy, Olympics-watching pajama parties! To see a recent example, click here: http://cellista.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/weekly-report-20-2/

More Science Fun

For those of you who missed my posting about science, click HERE to learn my secrets for helping children learn to love science!

In that vein, I thought I’d share some pictures from our most recent expedition to our local science museum, where they hosted a lab that taught my children to design and build their own circuits that work like alarms:

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! 🙂

Benefit of Natural Learning #10: Book-Loving Kids!

I discovered yet another benefit of natural, home-based learning last month:

My daughter asked for BOOKS for Christmas!

(I couldn’t get her to keep her eyes open for the camera flash. That’s okay–we’ll save those peepers for reading, I guess, LOL!)

That’s right–while everyone else was rushing to the toy stores, looking for animatronic hamsters or computerized dinosaurs, I was calling up a small, independent publisher in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, requesting their entire series of Native American children’s novels!

It all began when I bought this book for our in-home history studies: Naya Nuki

Naya Nuki is the (partly fictionalized) account of Sacajawea’s actual childhood friend; a girl who–like Sacajawea–was kidnapped and sold into slavery. But unlike Sacajawea (who remained in capitivity long enough to bare her captor’s children and to help guide the Lewis and Clark expedition), little Naya Nuki escaped!

This precious book chronicles the 1,000+ mile journey of Naya Nuki towards her home. After reading Naya Nuki, Prima loved it so much that she begged for another. So I bought Doe Sia (because our library doesn’t have any of these books on their shelves–boo!):

Doe Sia is the true (also partially fictionalized, to help fill in the blanks) story of a Native American girl who helped guide and protect a group of white settlers in their journey across the prairie.

After reading this book, my daughter said “Are there any more books like this?” I visited the publisher’s web site, and sure enough–there’s an entire series!

But our library didn’t have any. Neither did local bookstores. Prima was crushed.

When Christmastime came around, Prima’s constant refrain was, “All I want for Christmas is a set of books like Naya Nuki!” So we contacted Grandview Publishing in Jackson Wyoming, who not only shipped the entire series to our home before Christmas, but who also included a delightful book on CD, and a poster of the artwork from Naya Nuki!

If your children do not yet love history, I encourage you to check out these books, which are very entertaining and educational, and help history come alive in the hearts and minds of young children (whereas history textbooks only fill them with lifeless dates, dry facts, and summarized events).

Raising Readers

You might say that my kids like to read. Check out these pictures!

Hanging out at home:

Alone in their rooms:

Reading with siblings:

Even reading with friends who come over to “play”

So people often ask me–“How do you get your kids to read so much?”

Here’s my secret:

1) Parenting

Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook is a parents’ guide (now being used as a teachers’ textbook by many colleges) that helps turn kids into avid readers, even if they are currently T.V.-addicted or unmotivated! Once we implemented his advice and strategies in our home–from nightly readings and strategic book-placings in the home to the more scientific “how to discuss books with kids in a way that makes them want to read more”–we noticed a huge change in our family as our children gravitated away from the television and towards books!

2) Education

From Bauer’s book The Well-Trained Mind, we learned how children of the past were taught–you know, the kids who devoured books like they were candy, back in the days before television. Whether you are a homeschooler, or just a parent wanting to enhance their child’s public education, the Well-Trained Mind is THE must-have guide for how to instill a love of learning and a passion for books in your child.

3) Activities

If your child struggles with reading comprehension, try using these Writing With Ease worksheets, which help enhance a child’s reading abilities through writing! This ingenious book takes sentences and paragraphs from classic children’s literature and asks students to read, respond to, copy, or put into their own words the things that they read. This easy-to-use program (small, 5-minute exercises!) introduces so many great books to my children that I am constantly driving to the library to feed my daughters’ “hey–I want to read that book, too!” requests after each lesson. I HIGHLY recommend these worksheets to any parent whose child struggles with reading or is not motivated to read.