Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Response to the 5Rs for New Homeschoolers

First you have to go read Jen's wonderful blog and her post on the 5Rs for New Homeschoolers.

Now that you have read that, I thought I would write about how I implement this in my household.

1. Research: Now Jen was specifically talking about researching homeschooling itself, as a new homeschooler searches out what will work best for their family. Since I'm an "old" homeschooler (we won't say how old, LOL) I don't necessarily have to take time to research every school year about homeschooling in general. But I do do research. I'm constantly reading about different teaching strategies; useful websites for exploration; the latest and newest way to teach a subject. I believe in being well educated myself in order to make sure my kids become well educated. I also use the beginning of the year as a time to evaluate where each child is at, identify any weaknesses I may see, and strategize on how to overcome these in the new school year. For instance, last year's goal for Cassie was to get her reading more. Mission accomplished. She is currently devouring Trixie Belden books as fast as I can find them for her.

2. Relax: This is my mantra! And I think I pull it off pretty good. I often have people say to me "you are so relaxed when it comes to homeschooling. I never see you stress out." I wish I could say I never stress out, because I do have times when that happens. But I do put more emphasis on relaxing. When Eric was writing half the alphabet backwards at age 8, and couldn't spell the simplest words, I didn't freak out. I let him explore his creative spelling and letter writing. I didn't push him to practice and practice. I didn't want him to hate writing. I love writing. I want my kids to love writing. So I relaxed and let nature take it's course. Boys are often late bloomers when it comes to writing skills. When he was 10, suddenly it became very important for him to communicate through writing. He was creating comics and he needed people to get his jokes. So he took the time to really concentrate on his letter formation and his spelling and before I knew it all his little mistakes and issues corrected themselves. He's now a very good writer and has a wonderful sense of humor and poetry in his writings. Though he does prefer to do this all on computer now. Oh, and he taught himself to type too!

3. Remember that learning is everywhere.
As unschoolers this is our entire philosophy of education. Learning is all around us! From the moment my kids wake up in the morning there is something happening that sparks their brain cells and they begin to learn.  I give my children plenty of free time to explore their own interests. Mastery tends to happen when given enough free reign in an area. That is why Adam is now an accomplished composer and song writer. You can find Adam's music here.  Les and I  take every opportunity to find teachable moments throughout the day and to involve our children in daily life. This past week they've learned about plumbing as we've fixed sinks, toilets and shower heads. Cassie is exploring with textures in art on her art table. Eric is learning coding for computer games. Stephanie is learning the difference between theater acting and movie acting as she does a small part for a short film.

4. Respect your kids' individuality.
My comments in number 3 pretty much mirror what I could write in number 4. We have artists, singers, actors, musicians, and writers in our family. Every one has different talents and different learning styles. All of our kids are sensitive to noise or touch in one way or another. A lot of the things we do with our kids reflect these unique personalities. I think this is one of the joys of homeschooling. We can fit learning around who the child is and create a program that is unique for each member of the family. And we can really get to know our kids!

5. Rest and Restore.
Over the years I have learned that this is the critical part of being a homeschool parent. You are with your children 24 hours a day for 7 days a week. There is no "break" when the kids go off to school. So it is vitally important that you figure this out and create rest and restore time for you or you WILL burn out. Exercise is important to me but it is hard. I finally found the perfect exercise for me, water aerobics, and I plan my days and weeks around the times it is offered. I need this "me" time to rest my mind and to restore my body. My husband and I also take the time to rest and restore together. For the past 6 or 7 years we have created an area in our home that is "our area". At our beach house it was a very nice outside garden area that we retired to every evening to sit and relax in and catch up with each other's day. In our current house we have a nice outside balcony garden area we can relax in and also a nice living room area of our bedroom that is a "kid free zone" when the bedroom door is closed. Making sure to have these quiet moments and private reflection places really helps keep our marriage strong and our physical bodies healthy.

I hope this encourages any new homeschoolers that homeschooling doesn't need to be  daunting task full of schedules and lesson plans. Yes, those can be important for some families and if it works for you, by all means use them! But don't forget the other things that make homeschooling fun and enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Here comes the music

For several years now, Adam, our second oldest son, has been composing and writing his own music. For the last two years, dad has stepped up to the plate to write lyrics and learn to sing these songs. At first he tried to get local musicians to help out with the projects, lending their voices to the songs. But it has become an exercise in futility trying to get someone outside of our family to commit to the music projects with as much enthusiasm that is necessary to bring these songs forward to the public eye.

So the burden fell on us. After much hard work, trial and error and many nights of singing, screeching, wailing or whatever you want to call it, The Desolation Sound is ready to be shared. This is the name Adam chose for his "band", after an area in BC, Canada where his dad used to work logging many years ago. There are other bands out there called "Desolation Sound". There is even a studio named Desolation Sound. But here we are on the other side of the world, wanting to bring a bit of our Canadian heritage into the music. So for now, this is the name that we want to use.

Here is a fifteen minute "suite" that portrays just a taste of what is to come from this collaboration effort of father and son. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Awesome Seminar Opportunity This Month

I want to take the time to post about an awesome opportunity homeschoolers on Guam will have this month. Author and Speaker Debra Bell (debrabell.com) will be coming to Guam and presenting a few seminars for homeschoolers and educators. Here are the details:

Plan to join us to be encouraged, inspired, and better equipped to teach your kids!  Homeschooling speaker and best-selling author of the award-winning Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, the Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens and Ultimate Planners  will be here soon to rejuvenate us in this challenging task we have to educate our kids! Tell your friends who are homeschoolers or educators!
May 23, 2012: Debra Bell Seminars!10:30 am -11:30 am (approx.) Faith Church, Mangilao. Celebrating the Journey in Awe and Wonder: Why a Love for Learning Glorifies God  (childcare provided) Debra has shared this talk at Apologia Live conferences and would like to share it with our group:
Description: God intends us to be wonderstruck by the glory and majesty of His creation for it is the irrefutable evidence that God exists and He is  worthy of our worship.  A honest thirst for knowledge is a longing to know the Creator. And a true love for learning at
its heart is a love for God.  This is the philosophy of education we should model for our children and infuse into our
homeschooling.  With Scripture to light our path, here’s how.
Break - Bring a sack lunch to eat together between seminars. Or, you can run to one of the nearby restaurants to pick up something. 

1:00 – 2:00 pm  "Raising an Independent Learner.  Faith Church, Mangilao. (next to Father Duenas School) (childcare provided)
Description:  Do you want an independent learner who initiates studies on his own? Then let go of the wheel  and start giving kids responsibility for their education.  Here are practical, inexpensive steps that will encourage kids to pursue their own learning, and prevent parent burnout as well.

May 24, 2012: Debra Bell on "Teaching Teens" with  Potluck Brunch!
9:30 am. Marianas Christian Fellowship. (255 E. Marine Corps Dr. in the Carl Rose Building, East Agana).Bring a dish to share

Cost will be:
GHSA members (as of May 5, 2012):   $10 for one session   $20 for two sessions  $25 for all three sessions
Nonmembers:  $15 per session.

Hope to see you there! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Most Fascinating Blog Award

Apparently my blog post “Musings of Late”  has been nominated for an award for The Most Fascinating Blog in 2011, Category: Teaching Blogs.

Wow, who’d have thought? The actual post was written in 2010, so makes me ponder. And 2011 was definitely not my year of blogging. It was more a year of reading rather than writing for me. It’s not like the year wasn’t fascinating or full of surprises, excitement and fun. It was a busy year.

One of our children attempted to spread his wings and explore the world, travelling from Guam to California for a few months then taking buses and trains across the US to live in Maryland for a few more months, until realizing Guam was a lot better place to be. That was Adam.

Another of our children decided that the theater life was for her and spent the year honing her acting and singing skills. She had a part in Guam’s GATE theater production of Camp Rock and was all geared up and ready to tackle the Phantom of the Opera (only to have the show cancelled for lack of interest, though certainly not MY daughter's lack of interest!). As a consolation prize, she joined a public high school Glee club and spent the remainder of the year learning what life was like on a public school campus (even if it was after school, only a few days a week). Now this year she has scored the role of “Anybodys” in West Side Story. That was Stephanie.

Our next child in the hierarchy, grew about 3 inches, learned how to skype and make online friends, created 100 worlds or more in Minecraft, and perfected his video game making skills. All the while entertaining us with his dry whit, endless chatter and crazy antics. That was Eric.

And finally our “baby” is no longer our baby. She also grew a few inches, enjoyed learning how to snorkel, build forts on the beach, expand her portfolio of artistic drawings and discovered the joy of reading. That was Cassie.

Not to leave out our biggest boy, Kevin has continued his career in the air force with a  move to Korea to oversee barracks of soldiers.  Our biggest joy will come in August this year when he will be stationed back on Guam!

So back to the nomination. I am honored, a little flabbergasted, but more than willing to pursue the bigger prize….so vote for my blog and I promise to bring more insightful unschooling teaching tips to you in 2012!

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