Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We Choose Happy Over Normal

A fellow homeschool mom forwarded this article to me. It just amazes me that even when "some" people see the facts in black and white they still refuse to "see" the truth. This is long but well worth the read!

What Are They Doing in School All Day?

Some homeschoooling moms require their children to sit at the table for 45 minutes to an hour doing math. They insist the entire hour lesson of grammar be completed before moving on to science. Within weeks the kids are burned out, mom is burned out; everyone hates homeschooling.

But this is unnecessary. First, studies show that short lessons achieve far greater results in academic retention and retrieval than lengthy lessons. Second, we must conquer the lie that the kids at school are getting more of an education than our children because they are at school all day long.

We see the neighbors hop on the school bus at 7:30, returning at 2:30 each day; and we are certain that they are engaged in learning most of those hours away.

Well, several recent research studies have shown that for every 50 minute class period, only 28% of that time is spent in engaged learning. That means that for every subject in school, the students only spend about 14 minutes being taught or involved in learning activities. The rest of the time is wasted on lining up, changing classes or rooms, taking books out, putting books away, dealing with discipline issues, answering unimportant questions, handing out papers, handing out assignments, giving homework assignments, explaining what is expected, and lecturing on topics unrelated to actual academic learning.

The subjects covered in school are math, social studies, science, physical education, language arts, foreign language, health and arts. Generally, arts and physical education alternate, as do science and health. Thus, in a typical school day, the students only have 84 minutes of actual learning time, that's less than an hour and a half each day. They are gone seven hours to receive less than an hour and a half of instruction and actual learning.

Here is what one classroom teacher writes in her weblog:

As individuals, with some notable exceptions, I like every one of my 180-or-so students this year. But en masse, they make me freakin' crazy! They assume that any time there are not actual words coming from my mouth, they have permission to talk. I then spend 3 minutes getting everyone back on task, only to be interrupted by a request to sign something, a phone call, or a p.a. announcement. Actual time spent teaching is probably 3% of the class period.

Though she is guessing, if her calculations are correct, the time our neighbors spend at school equals only about nine minutes of instruction the entire day. Giving the schools the benefit of the doubt, we'll stick to the hour and a half calculated in the scientific research studies. Remember, also, these studies spanned grades K - 12.

So, do your children spend an hour and a half each day learning - either reading, writing or discussing school subjects with you? Are their minds engaged for an hour and a half throughout the entire day? If so, you are doing better than the schools across the nation.
Let's think this through further; if the school children only have fourteen minutes of instruction or learning during each subject, what if they are not paying attention during those crucial minutes? Most students are so distracted by the noises, movements and issues encountered in a typical classroom, that it is difficult to focus on the subject at hand. The fact is, as home educators, when we engage our children in any kind of learning, we are very aware of the moment they quit paying attention. The one-on-one instruction of homeschooling is far superior to a teacher lecturing a class of 25 students. So many distractions to education are immediately eliminated in the homeschool environment. If our children only spend 14 minutes on each subject, they are still more engaged, more attentive and more focused than they would be at school.
As far as academics and instruction goes, homeschooling wins hands down. Do not believe the lie that your children would be better off in school. Don't listen to those voices in your head telling you that you can't do this. You can! You can do it better than they do it in school. You are capable. Your children are capable of doing it mostly on their own! In fact, that's the second point I would like to make - if we embrace the ideal that our children should become independent learners, we release a great deal of the burden of homeschooling.

Because I've been getting inquiries about the studies I mention, here are a few references you can use to begin your research into short lessons and the Active Learning concern in public schools.

To learn more about Learning Time for Schools, read this article: Washington Post

Several paragraphs down, you'll see a reference to the study mentioned above:

"She cites a fascinating 1998 report by BetsAnn Smith of Michigan State University showing a typical school day in Chicago delivered less than 240 of the state-mandated 300 minutes of daily instruction because of start-up routines, unnecessary interruptions, test preparation and poor classroom management. A 1980 study of teacher behaviors and competencies by Charles Fisher and David Berliner found that in certain subjects, students were getting no more than four (that is not a typo) to 52 minutes a day of actual learning time."

The study on short lessons is:

Russell. I.J., Hendricson, W.D., & Herbert, R.J. (November, 1984). Effects of lecture information density on medical student achievement. Journal of Medical Education, 59, 881-889

Here is a quote from the study:

"Statistical results clearly showed that students in this study learned and retained lecture information better when the density of new material was low."
Jeannie Fulbright
http://www.jeannief/ ulbright. com/articles/ article/5406998/ 94084.htm

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Museum Pics

I have no idea what or how he did that to his hair. :)
In an "Ice Cave"

Digging for Fossils

An earthquake Simulator

Pattie giving the kids a Drawing Lesson-They had to draw one of the giant bugs and write facts about the bugs.

The girls working on thier drawings together.

A Cute Group Picture of the girls!

Just to give you an idea just how big these mechanical bugs are!

Bre checking ut the real bugs!

Ty in the Giant Bug Room

Ty playing with his little buds

Ty and Sam Doing a weather report

Matt and Bre doing a weather report. This was cool, we were able to send the video to ourselves and it looks really cool!

Bre on the rock wall

Bre and Friend in the "clouds"

Matt in the Clouds

Ty in the "clouds"

Bre and Matt manuevering a submarine with a video camera

Friday, December 12, 2008

What We've been Up To...

Making Snowmen at Mandy's House on Thanksgiving

Let's see, it has been awhile since I last posted. It could have something to do with packing to move. :) I am super excited about moving into a bigger house with a bigger homeschool room. But, I do not like moving AT ALL. What sane person moves in the winter. lol. We do! I am most excited about the big kitchen with a double covection oven and the fenced in back yard. The lake is a benefit also. So, I should stop whining about packing and moving. We have WONDERFUL friends that are going to help us move since I cannot lift anyhting and Matt's knee is in bad shape. Speaking of these wonderful people we had Thanksgiving Dinner with them, which was very nice, relaxing and fun! We had taken our table apart and down a week before Thanksgiving so we couldn't have it here. My mom had just had surgery and wasn't feeling up to company. So, when Mandy invited us we were delighted. The kids had fun making snowman and playing games. Mandy and I had fun looking at all the sales online. Mandy's mom Marty is an amazing cook and makes the BEST stuffing. Next to my mom's of course. ;)
Monday we spent the day with the group at the Science Museum ad had a blast! They have a new bug exibit and the kids did a drawing lesson. There are three floors and we could have stayed even longer if I didn't have so much neck pain.
Bre and Ty had ice skating and field hockey today and they love it! Cassie has ben busy at school and church, oh and all the Christmas parties!
Bre is trying to spend as much time with her back yard budy as she can, which I understand but I need the girl to pack her room! :)
We sold our beautiful sage green furniture because I wanteed something different. We bought a sectional on craigslist for a very good price and it is very nice EXCEPT it is made for LITTLE people I think. I am not a small person. This couch is so low to the ground that I literally grunt when I get up. ugh! I guess it is modern and some of the modern couches are like this. Whatever, I do not want to be eye to but level with my dog, thank you very much. I want to sell it and get something taller. Actually I would love my old couch and loveseat back. I will wait until we are settled and then I will start looking.
Anyway, that is all that I can think of right now. The kids are doing great with schooling considering that they no longer have a school room or even a dining room table to sit at. :) They have been doing thier lessons either on the couch or at the coffee table which by the way is higher than the couch.
Once we get settled I am going to blog weekly reports on the kids lessons and such. Okay, that's all for now! I will post pics from the museum later.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Bre and her friend Avery having fun in the first real snowfall this year! Too cold for me. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Joys of Chores and Homeschooling

Do you ever have one of those "down" days when you feel nothing got done? "I spent all day just helping the kids clean up the house," you moan pre-emptively to your husband, forestalling any questions about how your day went. "I was so tired afterwards I asked them to make supper." You then give hubby dearest a look that suggests it's probably best not to ask about the lumps in the casserole. "We did get a few loads of laundry done, too, and neatened up the garden, but not a speck of math or language arts," you sigh.

Well, you might not have accomplished great things academically, but take heart, because you were teaching your children priceless real-life skills that not every kid today knows.
You see, there are teens, college students, and even adults out there who do not know how to:
Sort and wash laundry
Mop floors
Organize toys, books, and clothes
Bake cookies, pies, and cakes
Make dinner
Do the dishes
Sew on a button
Mow and edge a lawn
Weed a garden

You might find this unbelievable, but I have heard of children who do not even know how to use a can opener or to measure with teaspoons!

A Can of Beans and Thou
While today we don't live in the "Little House on the Prairie" world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, we still need some practical skills. We might not have to track and snare rabbits, but it should be possible to track and snare an open can of beans. Cooking, baking, cleaning, gardening, basic health care, basic car care, and much more are all necessary for comfortable existence in today's world... even though they are not covered in any academic curriculum!
In other words, chores are curriculum. And kids need to learn to do them.

Top Chore Traps
You might be tempted to do most of the chores yourself, because it is always easier and simpler - at first - to do the work than to teach it to someone else. Also, those of us with a "progressive" or "liberal" background may feel some guilt about making kids work. (And no kid on earth has ever wanted to do the dishes, night after night, for "fun"!)
But kids do not live by "fun" alone. Self-confidence can only be obtained by knowing how to do work, and do it well.
Which leads me to the second trap: letting kids get away with sloppy work. After all, you're already tired and overworked, and don't feel like getting into a battle over the dust bunnies in the corner. (
It takes less time in the long run to "come alongside" your child, show him how to finish the job properly, watch him finish it, and then commend him. Your child may initially gripe, but he'll actually feel better inside from doing it over until it's done right.
You don't have to be a cranky "white glove" perfectionist to see the benefits in not accepting poor performance. If your child is at an age and stage when he can do the work, but somehow always manages to do such a ghastly job that you end up redoing it or assigning it to another child, you're seeing "strategic incompetence" in action. Or should I say, "in inaction"?
The proper response to strategic incompetence is to assign more of the sort of work the child is attempting to avoid. Don't treat it as a battle of wits, though; let him know your goal is for him to be able to do the original chore quickly and well, so he'll have more time for himself. After all, dawdling away all afternoon pretending to work is actually both tiring and boring.

Top Chore Tricks
Here are a few tricks for your chores grab bag:
Time it! Set the timer for 10 minutes and tell everyone to clean their rooms as much as possible. A prize for the "most improved" room adds incentive.
Model it! Show them how to do it, then have them show you how to do it. And have them show you again. And again. This is also helpful with etiquette transgressions, such as plopping on the couch or slamming the front door. A kid might feel resentful the first or second time he has to close the front door properly, but when he does it 10 times in a row, usually he finds it funny by then - and the lesson is learned.
Team it! Often a "people person" personality who hates doing chores alone will perk up when working with another person.
Schedule it! "We'll have lunch when the living room is cleaned up." Hunger is a great motivator!
The main chore "trick," though, is not a trick. When kids realize their work is meaningful, real, and appreciated, you will not only have taught them to do chores with a good attitude, but you'll also have made a start on giving them a sense of mission. All this, and a cleaner house, too.

You can read more of Mary Pride's articles here:http://www.home-school.com/Articles/phs56-marypride.html

Five Homeschool Tips for New Homeschool Mama's

I found this on another blog and was impressed with the reality of it. If I only realized the truth of this when I started. :)

1. Give yourself some time to deschool. Letting go of preconceived notions about school and learning, is a gift you can give yourself, and your child/ren. My own deschooling is a work in progress and the more I see unschooling first hand, the more I question what I once thought about education and learning.

2. Expect a period of deschooling from your child/ren. It's been said that one month per every year of school is common. As I said in this post about deschooling, "your child/ren has probably their natural desire to learn squashed and will need time to recover from that. With a parent's help, they can gain back most, if not all of what they lost and begin to see the world as a place where learning is enjoyable, and all around us."

3. Let your children feel your energy and passion for life. Light a fire within yourself. Let it burn so bright that they see it! What are your interests? Is there something you've always wanted to learn? Do It! Let them see YOU learning and living life to the fullest. Be curious. Be interested.

4. Don't make the mistake of duplicating at home, what you didn't like about school. Sometimes we just automatically repeat the same patterns, without even thinking about it, just because it's all we know, it's what we're used to or it's what we've always done. Replace school with a full and interesting life. The public school system can not compete with that. They can't even come close.

5. Don't make cookies just to teach math. Make cookies because they taste good. :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mallory Town Canada

Ok so the day trip to Canada we envisioned didn't exactly turn out how we expected. BUT, we had a great time anyway! We ended up leaving the nondescript little ghost like town and headed back to the states to Alexandria Bay to find out that it too was a ghost town because everyone left for the season. Before leaving Canada we stopped and let the kids exchange american money for Canadian money for souviniers. They also had fun posing with the bear as you can see.We did find Bonnie's Castle Hotel and Restaurant across the lake from Boldt castle (which was also closed) that was open and serving lunch. It was an enormous elegant dining room with a beautiful view of Boldt Castle. Matt's great Grandfather helped build that castle so he being the history buff he is REALLY wanted to go tour the Castle. We decide that come May we are going up there for the weekend and take boat tour and everything. It was overall a fun time. We got a big laugh out of Mallory Town which we were "bragging" to all that would listen that it was named after one of Matt's Ancestors. Oh, well humbling one self is a good thing. hehe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When the Boys go a Hunting the Girls go A Picking...

Apples that is. :) I'm a few weeks late on posting it. We as in Cass, Bre and I took my mother in law to the local apple orchard. We had so much fun and the weather was absolutley beautiful! My mother in law Maggie had her first hayride EVER! I couldn't believe it. We all had so much fun and we had cider and donoughts afterwards. We ended up with 3 huge bags of apples. Cassie mad 4 pies and I made homemade applesauce. I also dehydrated 4 baggie sized bags of cinnamon sugar apples for on the go snacks. I love Fall and sad to see it leaving so quickly.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Halloween Fun

Bre and Ty had a great time Halloween night at ALCC;s Church Bash as you can see from the pictures. Bre's costume won first place in her age division. Another Homeschooler won first place in the younger age division. HOMESCHOOLERS ROCK!! Crassie was Edog and helped out with everything from filling candybags to face painting. There were hayrides and Bouncy thingys among other goodies. Bre and I had a blast making her costume and thinking up things to add to it. Ty opted out on a costume this year. Cassie dressed up as an Toy Army Figure using her brothers CAP uniform. Even thought the kids didn't go trick-or-treating they had a ton of candy! They still have more waiting for them at NaNa's house. The ladies at Chiropractor's office took pity on the poor kids for not trick-or-treating and gave them each a bag of candy. lol. They are very sweet.