Pezze e Piselli by Tammy

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A hodge podge of things I’ve been reading. I hope you find something of interest.

From MIT: What Kids Should Do in High School

Setting Goals for Your Dyslexic Homeschooler

Briana shared this recently on Facebook, but in case anyone missed it: Bullet Journal for Homeschool Planning

My son is a rising high school freshman. He turns fifteen in August and is chomping at the bit to get his driver’s permit. I’m having to move over as he takes more control of his education AND his driving. Moving to the Passenger Seat

 

The more relaxed days of summer are a perfect time:

How to Teach Your Kids to Cook

Summer Ideas for a Better Homeschool Year

Charlotte Mason on Helping Children Form Good Habits

Join Jen and some of us in a Middle Earth Summer

 

An Audio Lecture Series From The Great Courses Plus: An Introduction to Formal Logic

I’m just discovering Professor Carol. Boy, have I been missing out!

Art is Empowering (podcast)

Finding Amber

Knowledge lightens our hearts and our souls. It eases and inspires our minds. It fuels the great God-given capacity we have to learn in the abstract and to apply our learning to the concrete.
So, stop the bus from time to time. Pull off your shoes, especially as the summer has come and more structured learning can take a back seat to spontaneous discovery. Run on the beach and let the sunlight guide your eye to those chips of learning that are the unexpected jewels. Gaze in delight at them, and put them in a secure pocket. Their light will warm our souls and light they way through the dark days of winter.

 

My husband and son both enjoy these during the warm months (but we use plain graham crackers instead of cinnamon): Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Enjoy the long weekend. Fire up the grill. Spend time with friends and family. But also teach your children what Memorial Day is truly about; bear witness to the sacrifices that have built our country. To quote General Patton: We should be thankful that such men (and women) lived.

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Self-Education: How I Do It, by Jane-Emily

Georgiana’s post about self-education got me thinking about the many projects I’ve taken on over the years.  I’ve been homeschooling classically for ten years now, and I’ve spent a good bit of my time filling in my own gaps and continuing my education.  In fact, the more I looked at the classical curriculum, the more gaps I realized I had.

I am the product of a mediocre public school education. When I went to school, teaching grammar was not in fashion.  I got only the sketchiest idea of American history and even less of world history.  The first good math teacher I had was for Algebra II in my senior year of high school, and it took a good community college math course for me to realize that I’m not inherently bad at math.  I did go to an excellent state university, but I was ill-prepared for the work. I missed quite a bit because I wasn’t at the level I should have been.  I felt woefully underprepared to teach my own children.

I did have a huge advantage, though.  I decided early on to classically homeschool my children when my oldest was just three.  I had the gift of time – years in which I could expand my own education while my daughter did the early-grade work that I was confident in teaching.

First, if I have to give just one piece of advice, it is that developing a habit of reading widely and with intent will help you the most.  It is very easy for me to retreat into comfort reading of fluffy mysteries and other light material, which has its place but should not be all we moms read.  Choose books that widen your horizons, that you can learn from, and have one going at all times.  (I usually read more than two books at once and always have a fluffy one for relaxing along with more serious reading.  If you aren’t a multi-book-tasker, adjust accordingly.)

The rest of this post isn’t so much advice as it is talking about what has worked for me.  You may find that audiobooks are the answer to the Great Books Question* or that watching MIT lectures online is your thing.

Now for the nitty-gritty.  Georgiana was absolutely correct when she said

When I decided to self-educate, I wanted to learn everything but soon realized it was a trap! Unless you have a blank appointment book and scads of free time, there aren’t enough hours in the day to master all the subjects at once. With so many amazing interests to pursue, you must choose wisely.

I usually worked on on thing at a time, although I was always reading books as well.  I can’t live without reading.  But when it came to math or Latin or logic, I could only do one at a time.  I used a lot of summers this way because that was when I had a little more time and energy to work on something that needed concentration.  I prefer to do exercises with pencil and paper, so I have used spiral notebooks for note-taking and practice sets.

Math: Luckily for me, Khan Academy came along right when I needed it!  It was fun to practice arithmetic and fractions on the Khan website and earn badges (the site has changed a lot from when I was using it heavily, but this has reminded me to jump back in).  I strengthened my skills and cleared up some points that had always confused me.   Then, when it was time for my daughter to start real algebra, I went through the entire textbook over the summer so that I could be sure that there were no nasty surprises waiting for me.  When we did geometry, she and I filled out flashcards together, each making our own set of postulates.

Latin: I was a somewhat reluctant convert to Latin.  I kept reading all these articles about how great Latin was, and I was skeptical – as I’m sure many are!  But I thought Memoria Press’ Prima Latina wouldn’t be too much of an investment, so I tried it out.  I was hooked!  I learned so much myself from that course for 6-year-olds that I decided I’d better do Latin in our home.  For that I needed to learn some Latin, so I invested in Henle I for myself and started doing the exercises.  I did a lot over a summer–even on a road trip while sitting in the car–and I learned quite a bit about how Latin works.  Henle is a Catholic text that prepares the student to read Caesar’s Gallic Wars, so the exercises really made me laugh; the sentences are nearly always either something like “Mary prays for the people” or “The centurions slaughtered the Gauls at the gate.”  If I were to do it over again, I might choose the Cambridge Latin program instead, but Henle was quite enjoyable and inexpensive too.

Logic:  I’ve tried several logic texts.  The more math-y they were, the worse I did.  I eventually had some success with Peter Kreeft’s Socratic Logic, a text for adults. I ordered it from Amazon, grabbed a notebook, and worked through the book and exercises, mostly over a summer.  I also read through my daughter’s book,  A Rulebook for Arguments, which I really liked.

Science: We talk a lot about science in our house.  My husband is very interested in physics, astronomy, and technology, while I like chemistry and astronomy.  Mostly what I’ve done for self-education has been to read popular science books, such as Richard Muller’s excellent Physics for Future Presidents (I think all high-schoolers should read it) and Oliver Sacks’ lovely Uncle Tungsten.  There are so many really interesting, enjoyable, and educational science books out there to benefit us.  Head on over to the library and see what you find.

History:  This one was fairly easy because I really enjoy reading history.  I sought out history books that would help me with whatever period was coming up in the my children’s curriculum.  Although American history is still not my strong suit, I did enjoy watching Joanne Freeman’s American Revolution lectures from Yale.  They are fabulous and really fun to watch!

I also got Susan Wise Bauer’s three volumes of world history for adults.  They are excellent.

Literature: I’m a librarian and a literature major, so in a way this has been the easiest area for me.  On the other hand, like anyone else, I sometimes balk at the prospect of reading Aristotle!  For a long time, I would pile up Great Books that I meant to read, but somehow I just wouldn’t get to them very often.

I’ve improved my serious reading skills by doing several things recommended by Susan Wise Bauer in The Well-Educated Mind.  I’m better now at keeping notes and reading deeply.  I also enjoyed Mortimer Adler’s classic how-to-read manual, How to Read a Book, and I even found (in a homeschooling store) a workbook titled How to Read ‘How to Read a Book‘ and went through that.  Note, though, that Susan Wise Bauer covers literature and biography, while Adler talks about science and history and doesn’t deal as much with literature.

What really worked for me was not a Coursera course (I would love to…someday) or willpower or a book club. I saw people online joining reading challenges, and I liked that idea.  It’s a blogging thing, so I had to figure out how to start a blog, and then I joined a bunch of challenges.  Somehow, having a list of things to achieve makes it easier and more fun.  Having a little online community of people interested in the same sorts of books and doing the challenges really helped me become more ambitious in my own reading, find interesting new books and ideas, and stick to it instead of retreating into reading mostly fluff.  It’s easier to tackle an intimidating work of literature if we do it together, as a readalong; I’m currently participating in one for The Faerie Queene.  I read so much more serious and/or classic literature now!  Having a blog forces me to record my thoughts clearly, and I can look back at the hundreds of books that I’ve read in the last six years and feel accomplished.  A blog certainly is not the answer for everyone, but do keep some sort of record of your reading so you can see what you’ve accomplished.

Now that my children are teenagers, I am really seeing the payoff.  I can keep up with one kid’s algebra work and spot problems.  I can do a home chemistry course and enjoy teaching it.  I can talk modern history with my older child and explain background or fill in gaps. Just the other day we had a conversation comparing Dante’s use of Christian and Greco-Roman figures with Spenser’s.  So I’m here to tell you: if your kids are little (or if they’re not), take time now to train and fill your mind–for your own benefit and for your children.  Before you know it, they’ll be asking tough questions about history and science.  Besides, it’s a good feeling.

 

 

 

*The Great Books Question is, of course, “How do I read Plato when I have all these kids to care for and a house to run and all I really want is some chocolate??”

Image courtesy of FreeImages.com

 

Jane-Emily–Jane-Emily is a classically homeschooling LDS mom of two girls, and a librarian at the local community college, very part-time. She loves to read and will pick up almost anything. She also loves to sew and mostly does quilting, heirloom sewing, and smocking. And she’s a Bollywood addict. Jane-Emily is our Webmistress.

The Panicked Feeling of Being Behind, by Lynne

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Every year, about this time in May, I start to feel a little panicked because THERE’S NO WAY WE’RE GOING TO FINISH ALL MY PLANS!!!

I’ve been homeschooling for six years, and I still have the mentality that we must accomplish a certain amount of work in the same time frame as the traditional school year. I’m unsure why this is.  We have regulations in my state, but nothing that requires me to follow the same schedule as the local schools. No one is going to come knocking on my door to see if we covered the entire biology book from September to May.

For the past two years, I’ve really tried to let go of the idea that we have to finish certain curricula in a nine-month timeframe.  We’ve carried math, science, grammar, and history over into the next “school year.”  And nothing bad happened.  In fact, we’ve been able to get a lot more out of each subject by taking our time and not hurrying through just so we could tick a box on our list of accomplishments.

So, why do I still feel that panic?  I think my own traditional schooling has ingrained the traditional school year into my being.  Posts on social media from friends with kids in traditional school add to it as well.  When I start seeing Field Day posts and school trips to the Zoo, I think, “It’s the end of the year!”  Then I realize we are only halfway through that book on African and Middle Eastern history in the Middle Ages, and my brain instinctively screams that “WE ARE BEHIND!”

Behind what?

That’s a good question.

I don’t follow anything at all like the scope and sequence of the local schools, so I just have to remind my brain that everything is fine, and we’ll finish the book when we finish the book. Did I want to finish the math book by May?  Well, yes, I actually did, but does my son thoroughly understand the math by taking it a little more slowly?  Of course, he does.  It’s fine. All in due time.

Not only do I get panicked about the traditional school year, but I also have high school looming over my head.  My soon-to-be-7th and -8th graders do not seem to be fully prepared for high school level work.  Maybe they will be by then; maybe they won’t.  I’m trying very hard not to panic about that, as well.  I tell myself that they’ve come a long way in the last six years, so the next five should show major improvements.  And anyway, there is no law that says a kid has to go to college at age 18.  If they don’t feel ready to graduate from high school, they can spend an extra year or two working on things.  I don’t think it will come to that, but it’s always an option. (Or a secret dream of mine to keep them home longer.  Shhh.  Don’t tell.)


Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for over 5 years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.

Pezze e Piselli, by Briana Elizabeth

Did everyone make it through? Christmas is over with Easter on its tail, and poof, now that’s gone too. Suddenly it’s May!

I can’t think of anything more wonderful this time of year than to be outside. Whether you’re in fall or in spring, the changing of the seasons is perfect to be mucking about, and if you’ve not picked it up already, I encourage you to buy Exploring Nature with Children, and perhaps trying your own Book of Firsts.

Where I live the salamanders and peepers are making their trips to the vernal ponds, and at night, on a rainy evening, the roads are covered with them which is why the Forestry Service blocks off roads. However, getting out your slickers and flashlights is encouraged! Watching the wee monsters make the trek is a memory children will cherish forever. Plus, they get to stay up past their bedtime, which is always a bit of excitement.

It’s also a month for wonderful poetry. Bring a blanket and some snacks outside for a poetry reading, host a poetry tea where the kids can recite all of those memorized poems, and have some watercolors and paper for painting en plein-air. Break out the nature notebooks, and if you can get them, The Country Diary of an Edwardian LadyThe Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady , The Country Flowers of a Victorian Lady, and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life  are wonderful books to browse through and be inspired by, for both young and old. In my row of arborvitae, there is a community of finches and we’ve spent countless hours looking out windows as we watch them gather grasses and tufts of hair (that we put out) for nests. The chattering and goings-on are delightful, and really, is there anything better than watching twitterpated birds?

Spring is also the time that in my house we reread The Wind in the Willows. If you haven’t yet read it aloud, I encourage you to do so. Even better if you do so on a blanket by a stream.

Happy Homeschooling!


Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.

When It All Falls Apart, by Briana Elizabeth

Somehow, in September of 2015, we’d had an amazing 8-week semester. It was one of those glorious periods where everyone was ready to hit the pavement running, and we just didn’t stop. Everything meshed just the way it was supposed to, and we even went further than I had planned. Not just in work, but in ability. The kids worked hard for things that were far above their ability, and they attained it.

November 2015 I was diagnosed with Lupus.

It now all made sense. The extreme exhaustion, the constantly being cold, the rashes and hives, the swollen joints that some days just would not work. The brain fog that made me question whether I was an adult most days.

School had been a struggle for me, but after those eight weeks of amazement, I crashed. I crashed hard. I limped through November and into December, and after Christmas I didn’t get off the couch for a week. I went from the couch and sleeping to bed and sleeping. In Lupus talk, it’s called “a flare.” My joints were on fire, I was freezing all of the time, I could hardly cook a meal, and I spent most of the day sleeping and reading or trying to knit so that my fingers wouldn’t stiffen into wooden blocks. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come, and my family was going to suffer some serious trauma that we’re still trying to work through. I had no spoons left. Not one.

This is when I seriously started to think about putting the kids back into school. You probably don’t not know me well enough to understand the severity of that admission, but it was severe. I was sick, and I knew that things were serious. Enrolling them in school was the only responsible thing to do because I was too incapacitated to homeschool them. I started to reconsider my refusal of medications (another huge consideration for me), but again I searched for a different way out of this pit because I knew that I was young and those medications are serious. I begged God to show me how to fix things. If taking meds was my way out, then I would, but I needed to know that I had done everything possible, everything within my ability, before I went that route.

Rest started to work. In February I started to be able to *moderately* function. I didn’t have many spoons, but I could manage to oversee the kid’s self-directed learning. My planning last summer had worked, and though I was currently unable to participate in their schooling, they were able to see my bullet-journaled lists and calendar for them, and when that failed, which it sometimes did, Do The Next Thing was the rule of the day. I made it through Easter, and let me tell you, I was hoarding spoons. I spent them  judiciously, and when I did, it was on my children and husband.

However, the day after Easter, I made a huge life change (bigger than ever before) and I have to say, I’m feeling so good, I’m almost at my pre-lupus levels of energy and health. My fingers and hands still get blocky, and I’m still cold a lot. But I can teach my kids, and last night I planned out another beautiful eight weeks. This time I’m going to focus on the self-care which is keeping me healthy, and I’m going to be able to be present, which is a gift.

It was a hard few months, but there were true blessings that came out of it. My kids own their education. Before I was sweeping them along. Now, it’s theirs, it’s a part of them, and if we have another time like that, they know how to soldier through it and drive in spite of it. They grew in both grace and grit.

When I was planning out the next two months and was checking the last eight weeks we’d accomplished way back in October, I was shocked to realize that they were almost done in all of their subjects. With this last section I’ve planned, they will have finished their respective grades of work, and I will have rising 5th and 8th graders, two 9th graders, and an 11th grader on my hands. No one is more surprised – or grateful – than I am. Then we’re joining Jen with her Middle Earth Summer, which I am very much looking forward to. A Hobbit Holiday is just what is needed after this year.

Homeschooling is a full part of our lives. It’s so interwoven that there is no beginning or end, except maybe when our last student leaves our home. And that home can sustain us or shatter us. I had always been a proponent of Do The Next Thing, and I knew it worked when life got bumpy, but I didn’t realize how well it worked when everything falls apart. So I want to encourage you: If it starts to spiral, just do the next thing. Make sure your kids know what the next thing is, and let them do it. They too will grow in grace and grit – and your heart will swell with pride and gratitude.

Image courtesy of FreeImages.com


Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.

The Basics of Self-Education, by Georgiana

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If you’ve chosen to homeschool, then you already know the value of education. Perhaps, like me, you desire to give your children a better education than you received. The only problem is how to educate them in areas where your own experience is lacking.

Gaps in my experience began to show themselves when we started digging into history and literature. I already knew I had deficiencies in upper-level science, and don’t even get me started on the fact I had zero experience with Latin and logic. But what could I do about it? How could I lead my children into territory where I’d never ventured?

Self-education. I realized I didn’t have to mourn over the classic literature and languages I’d never been exposed to, but that I had the power to enlarge my own knowledge base and make a date with the Greats without having to be spoon-fed.

Self-education:

  • Enlarges your own vision and context of the world. It’s a personal journey that builds upon and enhances what you already know. There’s pleasure in learning for its own sake.
  •  Encourages those around you. What better example to your children than you cracking the books alongside them? Plus it establishes a base of knowledge that you can share. Remember, you can’t effectively lead your children where you’ve never gone.

There are a few things to keep in mind as you begin the journey, tips which will keep you from getting bogged down and giving up and will help you stay focused in order to make the most of your time.

Choose your subjects carefully.

When I decided to self-educate, I wanted to learn everything but soon realized it was a trap! Unless you have a blank appointment book and scads of free time, there aren’t enough hours in the day to master all the subjects at once. With so many amazing interests to pursue, you must choose wisely. Multum non multa. But how?

  • Look ahead to potential problem areas. These are subjects where you were shorted and either need to brush up on or start learning altogether.
  • Identify your children’s areas of interest. Even if your gap in science never bothered you before, you need to shore up the basics if you’ve got a budding Einstein under your roof.
  • Consider subjects that fascinate you. If you have a particular passion, dig in and learn everything you can. You might just pass the passion on to your children.

Decide which method to use.

If you’re a classical homeschooler, it’s easy to choose that method of learning for yourself. But also consider other options, especially if you need to learn it sooner (kids are approaching that age/level) or have limited time. Talking to experts, video classes, online instruction, and taking classes from places like Coursera are all valid options.

Establish a time.

As busy homeschoolers, most of us recognize the value of scheduling. If you’re anything like me, if it’s not scheduled, it’s not going to happen. When do you have the most uninterrupted time? For me, it’s while my kids are doing independent reading in history. If your kids are quietly busy, you can be too.

Make adjustments.

It’s okay to let a subject go. Let me repeat that—it’s okay to let a subject go. I’m a fanatic about finishing something I start, and it bothers me to the core to walk away from a project. But self-education doesn’t have to be that way. If a subject isn’t working for you, determine why. It could be something as simple as not using the right learning method or perhaps you chose the wrong level to begin. You can make a course correction or let it go altogether—you have the power to choose!

Keep in mind that self-education is for you, hence the “self.” You can dig deep and become an expert, or you can shore up the basics so you can help your kids gain a foundation. You can learn in order to teach or you can learn for pleasure. Now that you’re an adult, the choices and the responsibilities belong to you.

Do you self-educate? What subjects and methods have you chosen?

georgiana-daniels

Georgiana– Georgiana resides in the beautiful mountains of Arizona with her super-generous husband, and three talented daughters. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, and now has the privilege of homeschooling by day and wrestling with the keyboard by night. She’s the author of Table for One and A Daughter’s Redemption, and is exceedingly thankful for her own happily ever after. You can find her blogging regularly at www.georgianadaniels.com.