Thursday, December 11, 2014

Discoveries


I'm learning in homeschooling that I am making my kids do what I think they should be doing or what I think will benefit them in life. But I am not asking if this is what they want. Mainly bc I believe they don't know what they want or need because they are children. But why is that? My kids are very capable of knowing what they need and want to learn.

I noticed the other day Ameera and I were working on multiplication when I asked her to think about the answer to a problem we were working on and she started to cry. I was really shocked as she had given no hint beforehand to any struggles. When I asked her why she was crying she stated fearfully that "it's hard." I told her that it wasn't hard and that she had to think about it a little. Recently, she had taken to guessing a lot during our math lessons.

Her guessing game started to increase even when working on the simplest of problems. What was happening was that because she wasn't enjoying herself, she was no longer thinking about what she was doing, therefore she was no longer learning. She was just interested in getting the "right" answer so we could move on and be done with it. And if she couldn't produce the right answer then she knew I would eventually give it to her. The lessons became simply a drag. Something she had to do because I was telling her she had to do it.

What I hadn't stopped to consider was if she was ready for this next step in math and was it even necessary for a 7 year old to know how to multiply yet? The only reason I was doing it with her was because it was the next chapter in our math book. I was moving through the motions and checking off the boxes of "ok that's done, now what's next?" Perhaps if I had waited for the subject to be introduced more naturally, like in a real world situation, it might not have been such a painful experience, but one that sparked interest. 

I realized that the way we are learning was not her style of learning. She is simply not a text and workbook type learner. She is more of an auditory learner . By continuing to observe my kids I am able to make adjustments as needed in our learning practices at home which is essential if we are to continue on this path. 

As the parent I have to let go of my expectations of what learning should look like or be like. I have to deschool myself first in order to really let change set in the household. 



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Accomplishments

After almost 2.5 years of worrying about Ameera's progress with reading, at almost age 7 now I can say she is finally picking up books on her own and reading from cover to cover. I had started teaching her to read at 4 years old. We had some success in the early stages but as we continued she became bored and very anxious and unsettled and I frustrated. I decided then instead of being a momster to shelve our reading lessons till a later time when she seemed more ready and willing. Over the course of 2 years I would bring out the reading book again and get through some lessons here and there but it wasn't until she turned 6 that we began to make it more routine or daily. Everyday I would sit with her and spend about 10 minutes or so on a lesson and she would be done and she did it without objection, a sign that she was ready for learning to read. After just a few short months we got through the remaining lessons in her 100 lesson book! It was a big day for us when she finished the book. And we both felt a big sense of accomplishment. I had watched her grow and learn something that I had taught her. It was a great feeling. And she felt proud as well, now she feels joy at going to the library and picking books that interest her, its a whole new world in a sense for her and for me to be able to observe and learn about what fancies her to read, when for 6 years I had been choosing her books mainly. She is reading at night during story time, in the car, and almost everywhere and its a joy to watch. She hasn't yet turned 7, but will in January. What I learned from this experience again is that when a child is ready to reach a milestone, they will do so on their own good time and do it willingly without struggle and force. This has definitely been a learning experience for both of us as we continue to shift and change our dynamics of teaching and learning.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tips for Homeschooling with an Infant

Our third child was born on August 17th by the grace of God. Luckily, I had begun our homeschooling year in the summer to ensure that I would have organized a schedule and activities so that we could just continue after taking maternity break. This plan worked out extremely well. After I had the baby I was able to take ample time off from schooling and once I was able and ready we got right back into somewhat of a routine. Although we don't manage to get through all our daily lessons every time I have come up with several tips to make this transition a bit easier for all of us.

1. When you know you will be busy with the baby, pull out some independent work for your child to complete.
This has worked really well for us in getting things done. Ameera who is now 6.5 is able to complete math worksheets, handwriting, foreign language, phonics and reading lessons on her own. That is a huge chunk of work. She also does Quran everyday via Skype with a tutor.

2. Use nap times to complete work that needs your attention and assistance.
When my baby is napping I will also usually put my toddler down at the same time for a nap. This gives me a good 1.5 hours to sit with my daughter and complete our history, science and literature lessons which are all done through read a-louds. We can also work on projects during this time.

3. Use weekends to catch up with school work.
The great thing about homeschooling is that everyday can be a weekend. This way I can utilize the weekends when my husband is home and I have some help to catch up on any subjects that have been neglected. This brings me to my next tip.

4. When possible have your spouse help with schooling.
If your spouse is good at something that you are not particularly strong in, have him help out in that subject over the weekend. For example, I am not strong in teaching math concepts, but my husband is so I will usually give him the task of explaining and teaching concepts to her that I am unable to do or do well.

5. Realize that every moment can be a teachable moment.
I will usually let my daughter prepare lunch for herself and her younger brother. Then she can clean up after herself by putting dishes in the sink. She is also able to change a diaper and quiet the baby by keeping her company. She can fold laundry, and perform loads of other household chores. This helps in character and confidence building and teaches her responsibility in the house and toward her siblings. She is also responsible for watching over her brother when they play in the garden and park.

6. No matter what make sure bedtimes are always consistent. (Same goes for naps)
Consistent bed times means energetic and fresh, focused children who are capable of very full days. Less tantrums and crankiness also come from well rested children. This also gives me time I need to recharge and have some much needed alone time. I can also do any planning I need for the following days.

7. Keep your schedule relatively free.
With a baby it is not a good idea to pack in so many activities or field trips through out the weeks. Pick one or two activities that you can manage to do consistently every week. Infants in their first few months thrive on routine and prefer being home to being shuffled along from one activity to the next and are more likely to have crying fits. At the moment Ameeras schedule includes 2 weekly activities, 1 biweekly activity and 2 monthly activities that require me to leave the house. I also sign up for filed trips that I feel are really beneficial and will be pleasant and easy for baby. Remember that educational field trips and activities can take the place of a days lesson. For example, a trip to the museum can be the days history lesson.

10 Grammar Rules Every Homeschooled Kid Should Know



1.       Beginning and Ending Punctuation

2.       Paragraphing

3.       The Parts of Speech

4.       The Sentence and the Fragment

5.       Subject, Verb, and Object Forms

6.       Verb Tense

7.       Punctuating Dialogue

8.       Rules and Uses for Commas

9.       The Apostrophe & The Dash

10.   The Semicolon and the Colon

 
Suggested Reading and Resources:

·         Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynn Truss

·         The Power of Grammar by Mary Ehrenworth

·         The Elements of Style by E.B White and William Shrunk

·         Sentence Composing for Middle School by Don Killgallon

·         Discovering Voice by Nancy Dean

When it comes to writing kids need to care about what they are saying. They need to feel a sense of purpose that sharing their stories matters. Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone’s voice is important. The sooner they understand this, the sooner they will take pride in becoming writers. Grammar should be taught not as a list of rules, but as a means to make writing meaningful and powerful. Therefore, Grammar should be taught to children through Story-telling and Narrative. Explain to kids the “Why” of Grammar and then demonstrate its power in writing through examples.

Ex. Why is Harry Potter a World Favorite? How does the author use her writing? Explore the structure of writing in favorite novels.
You can have your child write a story and then teach grammar concepts through his own story, explaining how each rule enhances their work. Or make up a story of your own, thereby engaging the child in the plot, you can have teachable grammar moments.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Let the Journey Begin

Up until a few months ago, my daughter has been in a Steiner School. This year I decided to homeschool exclusively, which was a big decision being that I also just had a newborn baby girl. I decided to start the homeschooling year early, a few weeks after Ameeras school officially ended, so that I could get into a routine and test the waters before the arrival of baby # 3. This plan worked out well. I was able to plan for the year, purchase any materials I needed and organize a weekly schedule. We worked off this schedule smoothly until the baby arrived. And then I had to take a break, which was fine, since when you are homeschooling you are no longer on any one's schedule but your own!

Now baby Aleena is 3 weeks old and we have started to slowly return to our schedule, doing short lessons and activities when time permits and attending the children's outdoor activities as well. This year we are predominately using the Charlotte Mason method and curriculums along with other resources from the Classical Method. However, my main goal is to work on family bonding with the addition of our new baby, and to teach the children about family transition when a new child enters the family and all the beauties and hardships that it comes with. Patience, compassion, and responsibility are 3 major characteristics that my children will take from this experience. They will be home to see first hand the demands of a newborn and the help needed to maintain the household and physical and emotional well-being of me (the mommmy) and the other kids. :)

So far we have had some meaningful trips and activities beginning with a trip to Kidzania (which is a a town created for children to work and earn money and then they can spend this money on activities and leisure's of  their choice just like in the grown-up world. We make weekly visits to the library for story-time and picking of new books. And we have begun our weekly Science-Coop with a small party and roundtable discussion on 3 topics the kids would like to learn more about this year. Ameera has chosen to further explore the Sun, the Earth, and babies. Homeschooling with a newborn has caused me to research more about unschooling which is a child-led learning method. This method seems to somewhat take the pressure off of following a specific curriculum or maintain a schedule, but Im not certain if it's any easier. It just makes me more aware of the questions Ameera and Noah ask me and I try to jot them down so we can further discuss their interests. For example, yesterday Ameera asked me about Sap because she was playing with sap from trees in our park outside. Then at dinner she asked me why money was important...(very good learning question, with lots to discuss there) and she asked me why numbers are infinite while she was playing with a calculator!!  Three very amazing questions that we could probably spend weeks on discussing and doing activities with.

I'm going to explore this method a bit and see what works out for us.