Entries Tagged 'Homeschooling' ↓
April 18th, 2013 — Homeschooling, Resources & Links
IT’S NOT easy navigating the muddy waters of copyright. For instance:
- When is it legal to photocopy a workbook?
- Is it okay to use an acetate overlay in order to keep workbook pages pristine?
- Can I resell a workbook that my child used but didn’t actually write in?
Last fall, Practical Homeschooling magazine published a piece I wrote: When Frugal is Illegal. Recently, they added the article to their website, and it has created a flurry of controversy!
When Frugal Is Illegal: Avoiding the Copyright Trap
As a whole, homeschoolers are a thrifty bunch. Feeding, clothing, and educating a family—usually on one income—presents challenges, and prudent moms are always searching for ways to save.
To cut curriculum costs, homeschoolers share e-books, scour used curriculum sales, or copy fill-in-the-blank workbooks. Confused by copyrights, they’re often unaware that some of these activities are legal . . . and some are not.
The Issue of Ownership
In our world, the concept of ownership goes something like this: I bought it. It’s mine. Therefore, I can use it any way I want. However, there are laws that supersede personal ownership. For example:
- It’s illegal to park next to a fire hydrant even when you own the car.
- Though you’re the owner, your homeowner’s association can forbid you to paint your house blue.
We understand these laws. We may not like them, but we typically obey. Why, then, is it so hard to wrap our heads around copyright?
Maybe because we’re dealing with something intangible: creations of the mind known as intellectual property . . .
(Take the copyright quiz and read the complete article here.)
Let’s talk! Do you tend to respect or ignore copyrights?
I realize copyright is one of those hot-button topics that’s sure to ruffle a few feathers and stir up some passion. So please, let’s keep the discussion civil.
February 25th, 2013 — Homeschooling, Writing Across the Curriculum
SPRING is just around the corner, and with it the joy of finally stepping outside for hands-on learning. Like many moms, you probably look forward to a new season of field trips. But if you always assign the five paragraph “What I Learned on my Field Trip” report the moment your family returns home, your kids may not quite share your excitement.
If you already use a writing program, an extra report can be overwhelming to an elementary child. Reports can also frustrate a student who spent so much time enjoying her outing that she forgot to take notes. Why not follow up your field trip with a writing activity that appeals to your squirmy son, imaginative daughter, or inquisitive preteen?
Make a Word Bank
After a fun but tiring excursion and a long drive home, your child might be overwhelmed at the thought of writing a report the next day. He can easily show some of the things he learned simply by making lists or word banks!
First, encourage your child to think of one or two things that stood out to him. Was your third grader especially fascinated by the jellyfish at the aquarium? Help him make a list of adjectives, nouns, and verbs that remind him of this awesome creature. Perhaps you’ll want to do this together (out loud at the dinner table?). Or, set your kids loose in the backyard with sidewalk chalk, and take a picture of the word lists they create.
Write a Story
Perhaps your book-loving daughter has just waltzed through the halls of a Victorian home or romped through the fields and cabins of a living history farm. She’s already aglow with dreams of adventure in other times and places. Why not encourage her to write a short story inspired by her day?
Structure the assignment to keep it manageable. Ask her to introduce the main character and the character’s main problem in the first paragraph. The middle paragraphs should show the character attempting to fix the problem. The final paragraph should provide some kind of resolution or closure.
The story might follow a wealthy man attempting to send an urgent message in the days before telephones. Or, it might revolve around a farm girl who wants to make her mother a present for Christmas. Whatever the story, make sure your child includes historical details learned on the field trip, such as the clothing, inventions, or entertainment of the time.
Super Sleuth Research
If your student displays a scientific bent, a trip to the science museum is merely the first step in feeding his ever-growing curiosity. Instead of asking him to rehash what he just learned in a post-field trip report, consider assigning a series of questions and answers—all prepared by the student himself, of course.
Begin by asking him to write one, two, or three genuine questions based on his new knowledge. Which exhibit in the museum left him wanting to know more? Which train of thought did the docent leave unexplored? Questions should focus on hows and whys that require explanation, rather than simple when or where questions that can be answered with a single phrase. For example: Why had no one invented a practical light bulb before Thomas Edison? How do scientists agree on carbon dating?
After you approve the questions, set your student free to conduct research. Then, ask him to write one (or all) of his answers in paragraph form. When finished, have him check his own work for organization, clarity, and proper grammar!
* * *
Your home may be the training ground for budding artists, novelists, and scientists alike. By combining the hands-on learning of field trips with customized follow-up assignments, you are teaching your kids that writing is not only relevant, but fun!
Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science. Daniella blogs at www.waterlilywriter.wordpress.com.
July 30th, 2012 — Homeschooling, Teaching Writing
WHENEVER I talk to parents who homeschool, I’m surprised at how many still treat the experience as if their children were in a traditional, structured classroom.
As a homeschooled child myself, I remember my folks being pretty adamant about making the process one of fairly unstructured personal and academic discovery. In terms of writing, my mother took full advantage of the fact that we didn’t have to be glued to our desks while attending class!
No matter your homeschool style, try these four dynamic writing prompts to inspire your kids as they learn the basics of writing and expressing themselves in a perhaps less-than-traditional way:
Have your child pretend she’s a reporter by interviewing people in the community.
It’s important for children to learn early on that the process of writing is deeply connected not just with their own thoughts, but with the opinions of other people. The best way to learn this is by talking to others about a specific topic or issue.
For example, ask your students to interview older neighbors about what life was like when they were children, or talk with a community worker about his or her job, and them compile these interviews into an article, story, or essay.
Go on an outdoor adventure, and then have children write a descriptive essay about what they saw and felt.
Inexperienced writers can forget to include descriptions of scene and setting in their work, often because they’re stuck indoors where they must rely on their own imagination.
To ameliorate this problem, consider taking them to a local park, zoo, or wildlife sanctuary. Have them take notes about their surroundings, and then later write a short essay or story containing details about what they saw, smell, heard, and felt.
Allow kids to choose their own books and write reports or reviews about them.
Too often, kids become disenchanted with writing because they can’t really pick what they’d like to write about. The same goes for reading. While most standard reading curricula are well intentioned, they can’t account for young readers’ diverse tastes.
Put the ball in their court by encouraging them to pick their own books and write summaries, reviews, or book reports about their selections. If a particular child needs boundaries, you might give him three books from which to choose the one he wants.
Invite children to write a short play and perform it together.
Whether they’re young or old, it can be very difficult for writers to master an ear for spoken language. To improve this specific skill in a fun way, have your kids write and act out a short, five- or ten-minute play.
When they can hear out loud what they’ve written on paper, they start to understand how to make their writing sound more natural and conversational. It’s a great way to improve your students’ speaking abilities as well.
When you aren’t stuck in a traditional classroom, the sky is the limit as far as learning goes. Take advantage of the opportunities afforded by homeschooling, and think of as many different, off-the-beaten-path learning methods as you can!
This guest post is contributed by Barbara Jolie, who enjoys writing about trends in the academic world. Even when she’s not blogging, Barbara is always contemplating and considering issues concerning education and modern society. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 11th, 2012 — Homeschooling
When I was a young homeschool mom (back in the days of dinosaurs, and just before the Model T and home computers), I had limited sources for support and resources:
- A close-knit circle of homeschooling friends
- My homeschool support group
- Our annual homeschool convention
- A small handful of local curriculum stores and catalog companies
- The public library
Today’s homeschoolers have so much more at their disposal! With the advent of the Internet, the world has become a smaller place. Now, with the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger, homeschool moms can access articles, experts, discussion forums, online stores, virtual conventions, product reviews, e-books, apps, and printable downloads.
And blogs. Blog upon wonderful blog.
There’s really nothing quite like the homeschool blogging community, “which puts so much inspiration and so many great ideas right at your fingertips, without ever leaving the comfort of your home.” ~Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
The homeschool-mom blogosphere has exploded.
Not only are there tons of amazing blogs, both established and emerging, there are now blogging conferences such as Relevant and the 2:1 Conference.
These conferences refresh, inspire, challenge, and equip women to become more successful bloggers as they tell their stories and share their journeys, lives, and faith.
Though next month marks the 4th anniversary of my own blog—In Our Write Minds, I’m excited to dip my toes in some new water as WriteShop helps sponsor three sweet bloggers who will be attending the 2:1 Conference in April.
Want to meet them?
Maureen of Spell Outloud homeschools her six children. I love her blog! It’s loaded with ideas and projects, free printables, helpful articles, loads of activities for preschoolers, and curriculum reviews and giveaways.
Stephanie blogs at Bowmania. She’s mama to five kiddos, including a new baby. She blogs about family, homeschooling, and life in the trenches (her family lost their house to a fire last year). Stephanie also does book reviews and giveaways.
You’ll find Shay blogging at Wonderfully Chaotic. A mom of two with diverse talents and interests that range from homeschooling to home birthing, Shay writes with refreshing honesty.
Please visit their blogs! I pray that the 2:1 Conference meets each of these women in a specific and fresh way. I’m excited to watch them continue to grow as writers, and I know I’ll learn a thing or two from them as well.
May 25th, 2011 — Books and Reading, Homeschooling
Mariana Ashley joins me today as a guest blogger here at In Our Write Minds.
Having homeschooled from age seven until about fifteen, I can say without reservation that the most important thing I gained during my homeschooling years was a love of reading. And I’m convinced that had I not been homeschooled, I would not possess the enthusiasm for reading that I have now.
Here are some tips based on my personal experiences reading at home:
1. Create a book culture at home.
You’ve heard the age-old saying “charity begins at home”? Actually, any life-long habit is always first established among your closest kin—the people you live and learn with every single day. As such, if you want your children to learn to love reading, they will have to see you reading often, too.
If you have a book collection in storage, take everything out and display your books properly. This sends a message that books are valuable and worthwhile! And when children are surrounded by books, you increase the chances that they’ll want to eventually read them.
2. Start by suggesting books based on movies.
I know, I know. The book is always better. But if your child is already familiar with a character or plot after having seen the movie, her interest will be more greatly piqued. This is especially helpful for children who find reading boring or whose attention span is so short they have trouble getting through a book.
3. Make oral reading a tradition in your household.
For many families, story time ends when children reach age five or six; when they don’t have trouble falling asleep anymore; or when other forms of technology begin to entertain them. First, don’t stop reading aloud! That rich bonding time continues to send the message that reading—in all its forms—is held in high esteem in your home. Keeping that oral tradition alive is also important for further developing reading, writing, and comprehension skills.
And don’t forget to include other oral activities. When I was homeschooled, my parents had us memorize poems and short prose pieces, which we’d recite out loud. This is a great tool for helping young children acquire an ear for good writing, and it gives students of all ages a chance to “marinate” in passages of great literature and poetry.
4. Turn it into a game.
Many schools offer reading incentive programs or competitions in which children earn “points” for reading books. You can set up a similar game yourself. For example, my parents assigned points based on book length. Books that were longer or of greater difficulty earned us more points. Whoever had the most points at the end of the month got to spend a day out with mom and dad for pizza and ice cream. Even better, why not set a “points goal” based on age and reading ability? This way, every child who reaches her personal goal can earn the special treat.
Picking up good reading habits can help your child in other ways too. For example, the verbal section on the SAT was so much easier for me because I’d been an avid reader since I was seven. Reading also helps lengthen attention span and generally improves cognitive skills. Reading and writing often go hand-in-hand, and while reading alone won’t turn your kid into the perfect writer, it will surely go far.
Lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of a good book.
Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.
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May 12th, 2011 — Homeschooling
I was a hands-on homeschooler. I loved lesson-planning, teaching, and learning alongside my kids. But now and then, and for various reasons, we participated in outside classes.
Often, I was the one who gathered a group of children and taught a four-week art class, a semester of California history, or a year of writing. For several years, we were active in a KONOS co-op. And when my children were in high school, they took an occasional course in biology or chemistry or speech.
I know the value of teaching my children at home. I also appreciate the fresh perspective they gained from experts in various subjects. But I never lost sight of the fact that we were homeschooling, which for the most part meant—and here’s the shocker!—schooling at home.
Don’t get me wrong—co-ops and other classes certainly have their place. But here’s the caveat: They should not become a substitute for teaching one’s own children, nor do they give parents permission to abdicate their role as primary teacher.
Ab·di·cate v. 1. to relinquish or hand over responsibility. 2. to give up duties.
1. resign, quit, bail out. 2. abandon. 3. step down.
Used as a helpful tool, outside courses can be an excellent supplement to your home teaching. However, when one class becomes three, and you’re spending more time in the car than at the schoolroom table, it could be time to question whether you’re actually homeschooling at all.
Falling into the Trap
You are still the primary teacher and the one responsible to oversee the work, so even if your children are taking outside classes, you must know what’s being taught. Believe me, I know it can be a relief to have someone else take over a subject you struggle with, but it’s not the tutor’s or teacher’s job to homeschool your kids; she’s simply in your service.
As a homeschooler, your mantra should always be: I am the parent. I am the primary teacher. But when someone else is instructing your children and assigning homework, projects, or tests, it’s easy to kick back and think:
- Ahhhh…I finally get a break. It’s OK to enjoy the time they’re in class, but you’re still the primary teacher.
- That’s one less subject for me to teach. Someone else may be presenting the material and giving assignments, but you’re still the primary teacher.
- Julie learns better from other people. Some kids do take direction better from others, but don’t excuse your kids. If they won’t listen to you, it’s not an academic concern, but a character issue. Take the opportunity to work on obedience, respect, teachability, or cooperation. Remember: You’re still the parent AND the primary teacher.
- Johnny needs to learn to take responsibility for his own assignments. This is true. But whether he succeeds or fails, he must do it under your supervision. You can set schedules and oversee his work, but if he waits till the last minute to write a paper for his class, it doesn’t mean you need to stay up with him till 2 a.m. to finish it. If he gets a poor grade, let it be because you allowed the consequence, not because you were clueless that he was behind. After all, you’re still the parent and the primary teacher.
Availing Yourself of Opportunities
Again, there is nothing wrong with outside classes, so once you accept and embrace your role as primary teacher, you can begin to look around at the many opportunities that exist, including:
- Homeschool co-ops and classes that teach literature, science, writing, etc.
- Private tutoring or lessons in art, music, carpentry, etc.
- Online courses for homeschoolers such as Torrey Academy.
- Community college for age 16+.
Putting your children into outside classes can stretch and enrich them, especially when the subject matter is completely foreign to you. Outsourcing:
- Is ideal when you know you’re weak in a subject.
- Provides opportunity for group interaction, such as a drama workshop or a speech and debate class.
- Helps students learn to take instruction from others.
But when choosing an outside course for one or more of your kids, it’s also wise to remember that it shouldn’t become:
- A substitute for homeschooling.
- An excuse to get your kids out of the house (or your hair).
- A purely social experience.
- The answer to your insecurities about homeschooling.
Keys to Successful Outsourcing
Having made the decision to enroll a student in an outside class, how can you make it work with homeschooling?
- Meet the teacher and stay in touch. (You’d be appalled at how many parents NEVER ONCE stepped into my home to meet me face-to-face during an entire year of teaching their kids.)
- Study the syllabus to understand course expectations.
- Become familiar with requirements and assignments.
- Plug assigned reading, writing, and studying into your master homeschool lesson plan book.
- Go over weekly assignment sheets and other materials the teacher sends home.
- Discuss assignments with your children.
- Supervise their writing or other work and help as needed.
- Give feedback.
As with any curriculum you employ in your homeschooling, outside courses are simply tools you work with to enrich and strengthen your children’s academic foundation. Used judiciously, they can expose kids to new experiences and challenge them academically. But remembering that you’re the parent and primary teacher-–and taking appropriate responsibility as such—will ensure that you’re still on top of things, even if someone else is teaching.
Copyright 2011 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
October 25th, 2010 — Encouragement, Homeschooling, Reluctant Writers, Teaching Writing
You’re in good company if you think teaching writing is downright painful. Many homeschooling moms feel completely inadequate and unequipped for the task. As a matter of fact, if I were to take a poll, most of you would probably say you’d rather have a root canal.
Sometime we dream about how nice it would be just to plunk a workbook down if front of our kids and watch clear, engaging, organized stories and essays take shape before our very eyes. But in reality, writing needs to be taught.
Yes, a handful of us have children who will figure it out all on their own, but most children need modeling, teaching, and feedback in order to learn and improve as writers.
Beyond your own self-doubt, you may be struggling to help your kids overcome issues like writer’s block, laziness, perfectionism, or other hurdles that prevent progress. Most students want to scribble out a paper and call it done. Then they want you to rave over it! But at the first sign of a suggestion from you, watch out—here comes the meltdown!
This creates tremendous frustration for the parent because you can’t seem to figure out how to make this whole writing thing work. Your kid is a mess, and you feel like a failure.
Isolate the Source
- Does your child complain that he can’t think of what to write about?
- Does he dawdle?
- Does he have learning challenges that may require special attention?
- Is he unwilling to take correction or accept feedback?
- Do you feel overwhelmed?
- Are you trying to teach many children at different levels?
- Are you disorganized and flying by the seat of your pants?
- Are you unpredictable in your editing and grading?
Alone or in combination, these factors can contribute to incredible stress, irritation, and discouragement.
Make Simple Changes
You can take small steps toward reducing the level of frustration in your home. These ideas work wonders with all types of learners:
- Keep writing assignments short and specific.
- Use brainstorming worksheets and graphic organizers to help your child think his ideas through before he begins to write.
- Break the assignment into bite-sized chunks, giving mini deadlines along the way.
- Choose writing materials that are flexible enough to use with several children at once.
- Have a plan: Know what you want to teach and when, and then schedule writing into your week.
- Use objective, lesson-specific editing and grading tools to help you evaluate your children’s writing fairly.
Small successes will begin to usher frustration right out the door, leaving encouragement and accomplishment in its wake!
Copyright 2010 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
June 7th, 2010 — Editing & Revising, Encouragement, Homeschooling, Teaching Writing
Grading and commenting on your kids’ writing is one of the most valuable elements of writing instruction. But it also gives the most grief to parents, who often feel underqualified to identify and evaluate written strengths and weaknesses.
Seeds of Doubt
A host of “ins” and “uns” seems to attack parents when it comes to writing, making us doubt our ability to edit and grade objectively. With regard to teaching or evaluating writing, do you ever use any of these words to describe yourself?
Many of us wear these monikers like millstones around our necks, allowing the weight of our insecurities to immobilize us. At worst, teaching and grading writing don’t happen at all, or at best we’re sporadic, leaving Mom feeling guilty and our children awash in frustration.
It’s not that we don’t think it’s important to give our children input. But don’t we all have excuses?
- I’m afraid I’ll be too hard on my child.
- I don’t know how to grade a paper—there’s too much guesswork.
- What do I know about writing? I’m just a math-science person.
And heaven forbid Mom should set aside her worries and actually make a comment. The smallest hint of suggestion from you and the drama begins.
- But I like it this way!
- You’re always so critical.
- You never like anything I write!
Myths about parent editing
As a parent, perhaps you simply don’t know how to give objective input. So either you don’t give feedback at all—and therefore see no improvement—or you offer suggestions that make your child feel picked on or rejected. To help you renew your perspective, let’s look at three myths about parent editing.
Myth #1 – Editing and grading writing are too subjective.
- Fact: Learning to edit is a process for both student and parent.
- Fact: Many aspects of a composition CAN be evaluated objectively.
Myth #2 – It’s too difficult to edit and grade writing.
- Fact: The more you edit and revise, the easier it will become.
- Fact: Familiarity produces recognition—you will catch on!
- Fact: There are tools (rubrics and checklists) to help you.
- Fact: You don’t have to find every mistake. Even addressing just a few errors can help your child’s writing begin to change course.
Myth #3 – Editing and grading writing is for professionals.
- Fact: Many parents cannot find mistakes in their children’s writing—but you can improve your skills! If you feel weak in a particular area such as grammar or spelling, take a “crash course” to refresh yourself. Buy a second student workbook and study the subject alongside your kids. Or, consider a resource like The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation to help you brush up on key rules.
- Fact: You CAN learn to edit and grade. Programs like WriteShop and WriteShop Primary are good examples of homeschooling products that guide and direct parents through the writing and editing process.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll not only gain tips and tools to make editing and grading easier for you, you’ll also learn ways to help your children participate in the process through self-editing and revising.
We’ll start next week with tips for Editing and Evaluating Writing: Grades K-3.
I also know that parents tend to panic more as junior high and high school draw near. So if you have older kids, you’ll be happy to know I’ve got you covered as well. Stay tuned!
Copyright 2010 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
June 1st, 2010 — Holiday & Seasonal Ideas, Homeschooling
“Summertime … and the livin’ is easy.”
When George Gershwin penned those memorable lyrics, he pictured warm, languid days, fish jumping so high they fairly begged to be caught, and plump bolls of cotton bursting like popcorn in rich brown fields.
He never gave a thought to the homeschooling mother of five whose 2-year-old keeps standing in the toilet and whose dog just plowed through the newly repaired screen door. The only thing jumping at her house is the frog the 8-year-old let loose in his bedroom. There’s a month of schoolwork left but only a week in which to do it, because Mom has finally announced, “I don’t care what the teacher’s guide says—on June 14, we’re DONE.” She’s looking for a break, and summertime shimmers on the horizon like an alluring mirage.
Even if you homeschool year-round, everybody’s happy when Mom declares time off. Whether just for a week or till the September leaves start turning, a well-deserved vacation gives everyone a chance to regroup, at least for a little while.
As you cut up the first ripe watermelon of summer and look forward to a bit of a breather, do enjoy that juicy— albeit temporary—slice of paradise. It won’t be long before the chanting of the summer mantra begins: “Mom, there’s nothing to do!” So when boredom rears its lazy head and tempers rise along with the thermometer, it’s wise to have a strategy to keep the kids happy and maintain harmony in your home.
It’s easy to plan away the summer, filling the days with activities for your restless kids. Just remember: If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Grammar issues aside, there’s a mountain of truth in those seven words. Refill your own empty cup so you have plenty to pour over your family when school starts up again.
Read a book. Who has time to read for pleasure during the year? Don’t let summer slip away without a satisfying novel under your belt. Stretch a hammock between two shady trees some lazy afternoon and indulge in a selection from your “I’ll read it someday” list. And just in case it should cross your mind, curriculum does not count!
Ask your husband or a trusted friend to occupy the children so you can go for a walk, work uninterrupted on a project, or take a needed nap. Or get away for a little while. Don’t even think about getting the dog groomed or dropping off the dry cleaning. I’m talking about refreshment! Bible in tow, enjoy a quiet time at the park. Browse a nearby book or fabric store. Window shop. Meet your sister for coffee.
For many women, a 30-minute retreat to the tub can multiply into hours of patient parenting later on. Grab a bath pillow, some fragrant salts, a glass of iced tea, and a favorite magazine or devotional and get lost among the bubbles. Whatever you do, don’t forget to post a “Do Not Disturb Under Penalty of Death” sign.
Ignore the notes the kids slip under the door.
And those little peanut butter- covered fingers wiggling under the crack? Ignore them too.
Outings and Activities
Why not turn your house into a cool refuge by playing board games or listening to books on tape as you sprawl out on the living room floor with the fan blowing? Set aside Wednesday afternoons for renting videos and whipping up chocolate milkshakes. Chairs, card tables, and sheets make a great fort. Build your fortress and enjoy a picnic under the dining room table.
Exercise is another great way to fill time productively. Kick a soccer ball around the yard, or hop on bikes or roller blades. Sign everyone up for a sports workshop or swimming lessons. Explore a nearby creek or hiking trail or simply traipse around the neighborhood.
Homeschool moms are pros at sniffing out good field trips … but why limit them to the school year? Fit in some outings to the zoo, beach, or city. Take in a children’s museum or look into special summer programs at other venues, such as a farm, botanical garden, or space center. Contact your fire or police department to arrange a tour. Don’t plan to go out every day, but do budget time for occasional treks to the library, movies, community pool, or pizza place.
How do you maintain your cool when the temperature takes an upswing? At home, pull out the hose and beat the heat by dousing your brood with a surprise squirt. Keep in mind that kids have long memories, so you probably shouldn’t turn your back on them anytime soon, if you get my drift.
You can bring a bit of winter to a sweltering summer day by visiting an indoor ice rink. For a cheaper chill-and-thrill, buy a couple of ten-pound blocks of ice and head to a grassy slope for some “ice blocking.” Simply set a towel atop the ice block, hop on, and whoosh! Off you go—sledding in summer!
And when you’re melting in the shade, there’s nothing like a frosty refresher to soothe irritable dispositions. Stir up a chilled pitcher of fresh-squeezed lemonade or treat everyone to frozen delights from the ice cream man. Even better, make smoothies, homemade ice cream, or floats.
(Next week, I’ll post Part 2 of this article, Summertime: No Excuse for Chaos, which will include some fun summer writing activities.)
Copyright © 2006 Kim Kautzer
Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Summer 2006. Used with permission.
May 14th, 2010 — Conventions, Homeschooling, Teaching Writing
This morning I presented a jam-packed workshop at the Schoolhouse Expo, a virtual homeschool conference sponsored by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The hour whizzed by as I shared tons of ideas for ways to creatively introduce and expand your children’s writing vocabulary. Here are just a handful of suggestions from today’s session.
Be a Writing Role Model
You’ve heard that if you want your children to become readers, they need to see you reading. Likewise, to raise writers, you must make sure they see you writing. When your child writes, think about stopping to write as well.
- Draw attention to your writing. Point out times that you use writing to communicate with others.
- Talk about writing opportunities. Explain the purpose for each kind of writing and the target audience, handwriting vs. computer, etc.
- Let your child see you prepare for a Bible study, keep a prayer journal, or take notes during church.
- Have your child help you write letters, even such routine ones as ordering items from an advertisement or writing a letter of praise or complaint to a company. This helps the child to see firsthand that writing is important to adults and truly useful.
- Take time to write in your journals together.
Copywork has so many benefits, including providing students with excellent writing models. You can use various copywork passages as opportunities to look up unfamiliar words, which is a great way to naturally expand your children’s vocabulary.
You can purchase resources specifically intended for the purpose of copying. Or simply encourage copying Bible verses, hymns, favorite poems, passages of literature, or famous quotations.
Suggest Making Lists
Making lists is an effective writing tool for all ages. Most children like to create lists anyway, but writing out lists—from the mundane to the meaningful—also helps them become more organized. Taken a step further, when list-making is used as a brainstorming tool, it can even help students plan the elements of an essay or story. And it also helps build context-specific vocabulary.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Show them how you keep a calendar, make grocery lists, write daily to-do lists, add to an ongoing list of projects, etc. Then your kids can make their own lists of schoolwork, dates for soccer practice and games, family birthdays, etc.
- They can inventory furniture in a room or items in a junk drawer, jewelry box, or medicine cabinet. Talk about different ways to name common objects.
- Likewise, they might make lists of their various personal possessions such as baseball cards, stuffed animals, shoes, or CDs. Collections, such as seashells or Matchbox cars, often have specific or specialized names. Learning these helps contribute to vocabulary growth.
- Another suggestion is to create word lists: Your child can begin a list with a word that describes a texture such as rough or slippery, or a character quality such as gentle, brave, or faithful. Then have him use a thesaurus to look up synonyms for that word to expand the list.
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If you missed it, you can still get an Expo to Go ticket that will give you access to all the MP3 audios beginning May 31, 2010. It’s been a wonderful event, and I highly encourage you to grab a ticket so that you can take advantage of the encouragement and ideas that each outstanding speaker has offered. At $19.95, it’s an outstanding deal! Just click the Expo to Go image to the right. >>>
My homeschooling days are well behind me, but I still gleaned so much from the excellent sessions. Hope you take advantage of “Expo to Go”!
Photo courtesy of StockXchg.