Packing Up and MOOVING. To Blogger.

I’ve been working on this for a while and have a pretty good start (only 46 more posts to move – whew!)  That’s down from 66 just the other day, so progress is being made!

Please come over to Blogger and check out my newly designed homeschooling blog.  I’m in the process of moving posts and editing here and there, but overall I think it’s ready to rock.  Here’s the address:

http://www.highonhomeschool.blogspot.com

I will no longer be adding new posts here on WordPress.  If you like what I have to offer the homeschooling community, please come and follow me on Blogger.  I’d love to see you over there! 

Over the next month I should have all posts moved over and will be adding new materials.  I have Lauren of Designer Blogs to thank for working with me on the new design.  Thanks, Lauren! 

Come get High on Homeschool on Blogger!!!!!!!!!!

 

Building a Child Up

If I stop the merry-go-round that is life and sit still for a minute or two or longer, my mind can scarcely believe that Max is a fifth grader.  Where does the time go?  We all say that, don’t we?  How did that little guy who once topped out height-wise at my knee turn into a kid who is nearly as tall as I am (and he can even wear my tennis shoes without tripping)????  If we stop and examine each frame of our lives one by one, we don’t get a sense of how fast time is moving.  If we jump back onto the merry-go-round and hit the ‘go’ button, time whizzes by.  Time plays with our minds and sometimes shakes us silly.  My kiddo is eleven and now has his own ideas, his own agenda, his own game plan.  Thankfully he still respects me enough to allow me to interject now and then and kindly guide him in the right direction.

I’ve been thinking about this whole concept of time a lot lately.  I’ve also been thinking about the quote that is written on the left sidebar in this blog that states:  “What we feed our children everyday – in body and in spirit – is what they will become.”  Wow.  That’s heavy stuff!!  But true and important and I think we must pay attention to it.  Every word, every gesture, every nuance is read acutely by our children – they look to us to see who they are, who they can become.  I find this responsibility daunting, challenging, and one of the most wonderful things all at the same time.  There’s an opportunity if you ever saw one! 

Feed – in two contexts, right?  I’m a bit of a stickler about what is put into one’s body nutritionally.  I hate stuff like Vanilla Coke Zero and think it has zero value.  I love stuff like fresh avocados or tomatoes out of the garden, or a really good cantaloupe.  I’m trying hard to feed us with nourishing foods and focus a fair amount of energy on that task.  Definitely not perfect, but on a track and learning more about it every day.  So, working conscientiously on the ‘feed in body’ part.    

What about feeding our children in spirit?  What exactly does that mean?  What are some things that you do to build your children up?  One core way to show a child that you value him or her is to stop whatever you are doing and look at the child when he or she is talking to you.  I try hard to do this – to stop what I am doing and look right at him when he is talking.  This one is challenging because he talks A LOT, but he usually has something interesting to say.  I have issued a ‘Mom-Time’ no-fly zone after 9 p.m. wherein I can sit and concentrate on tasks that need tending to, like planning out the next school day, catching up on some reading, or blogging!  This is the time when the chatter is supposed to wind down and Max is supposed to head off to bed and call it a night.  My husband is an early bird, so he’s generally in bed before nine.  I’m a night owl all the way and am most productive in the wee hours.  Pay attention to whether or not you are looking at your child when he or she is speaking – it really does make a difference.  It helps, too, to acknowledge that you understood what your child said by saying something that indicates that you did.  We humans can sometimes do a miserable job of communicating because we forget about the basics.

Another way to build a child up is to let him participate in some decision-making within the family.  We recently sold two vehicles and purchased a new one.  Max’s dad takes two wheels to work everyday, usually on his bicycle.  Since we are homeschooling, we can manage well with one car as long as we communicate (bingo!  That word!) about the comings and goings of family members.  While researching the new vehicle, I told Max that his  input was very important.  We listened to his thoughts about each one we test drove.  Down to the final two candidates, it was Max who gave the thumbs down on one of them due to the cumbersome set up for the backseat.  Even though he grew tired of test driving this and that, I think he felt that if he had an important comment, we were listening, and he has a sense of ownership in the new vehicle.

We are about to embark on a trip to the Pacific Northwest for a week, just to see what’s going on up there.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  Max has been doing some research using the Connect the Thoughts Mini Vacation Unit to help us determine what activities we are going to engage in while we are away.  Here’s a picture of the curriculum – it’s short and sweet and kind of fun:

This was $2.00 and is available in pdf format.  It’s an organized way to approach a family trip while letting the child have some say in the matter! 

Building a child up isn’t necessarily about oooing and ahhhing everytime he does something or draws something or plays a neat beat on the drums, even though that’s pretty cool when it happens!  I guess my job as a mom is to show him how to survive in the world as he grows up and in so doing, I must try to be real.  I must let him make mistakes.  I must encourage him without sounding ridiculous, because he’ll surely pick up on that.  Kids know when you are not being sincere.

Here’s the book I’m bringing with on vacation to read:

 It’s what’s on my mind at the moment.  What are some of your ideas for building a child up?  I’d like to hear them :).

Preference Projects from Currclick – in Case You Have a Preference

Maybe you’re like this, too.  You hear about something, you become curious about that thing, and then before you know it you surround yourself with all things THING, whatever that thing may be, so you can learn all about it.  Substitute any of the following for the THING:  gardening, skydiving, kayaking, tandem bike riding, Photoshop, chickens, rabbits, lizards, landscaping, eating well, or pick from thousands and thousands of other topics.  Adults who follow their noses according to their interests are generally pretty happy folks, as long as their noses keep them out of trouble, that is :).  Why should it be any different for our children?  What an awesome thing (no pun intended) to teach a child – that it’s wonderful to follow your interests and dig in as you see fit, learn as much as you like!

Last year we followed our noses somewhat while doing unit studies (before setting up a unit study, I sat down with Max and asked him what he wanted to learn about.)  Even though the main topic was one of interest, like whales and dolphins, we still incorporated many of the other subjects like math, science, geography, writing, etc.  It was an all-out look at a topic, which of course, is the basis of a unit study.  I think Max learned well under these criteria and rather enjoyed himself.  I liked it a whole lot, too, although it took a fair amount of set-up and planning on my part.  Unit studies are kind of like that, aren’t they?  You can find many of the unit studies we did last year on this blog – just click on the unit studies category over there on the left.

If you sit back and watch your children on the sly, you will notice that they sometimes show a preference for a particular subject.  If you can manage to get yourself out of the way, your child will happily figure out ways to surround him or herself with information about that subject.  This all starts quite young, doesn’t it?  The Spiderman phase.  Thomas the Tank Engine.  Dora the Explorer?  Teen Titans.  All of these were derived from the TV.  Children without access to the TV (living the best life ever!) might show an interest in caterpillars, constellations, birds of prey, endangered animals, or nifty ways to disassemble your microwave.  Still, the best life ever.  It’s that natural curiosity which is such a beautiful and endangered thing – our public school systems somehow seem to squash that natural way of learning for children.  Homeschooling has some sneaky advantages, and this is one of them; you can unleash the curiosity monster in your child, calmly step out of the way and let the happy learning happen!

Currclick has some newer offerings called ‘Preference Projects’ which may or may not fit the bill for you and your child.  My interest was piqued by them, so on the blog they must go. 

Click on each project to go to Currclick to see the previews and to learn more:

 Bugs……can’t say favorite would land in the same sentence for me.

Easy.  Hummingbird!

There are a few others on horses, constellations, numbers, etc.  Note that these are fairly structured.  Having flown precariously by the seat of my pants last year for our fourth grade adventure, I’m beginning to understand the grandeur of structure and ordered things, although I still think it’s important to inject lots of fun and alternative ways of learning in there – strike a nice balance.  You could easily supplement one of these preference projects with other materials and put a fun spin on it.  Of course, that would involve YOU getting involved, and maybe that’s not the point here.  This is kind of about letting a child follow a trail of interest.  You’d have to use your very best judgement :).

I like Currclick.com for the most part. The name stands for ‘Curriculum in a Click’.  I am a secular homeschooler, so some of their materials don’t jive with my worldview, but that’s something I can easily work around.  Visit their site if you haven’t already – all of their materials are available for immediate download in .pdf format (printer cartridges at the ready!)  The materials are incredibly well-priced and they run awesome sales, so watch for them.  Get on their email newsletter list and you’d be all set.