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Let Them Lead

When I was a little girl, there were lots of things I wanted to be when I grew up–mainly a writer, but also a detective, a librarian, a professional dancer, a singer/guitarist in a rock band… Well, you can see my interests were many and varied.  I had teachers who encouraged my writing as a skill, but no one really ever took any of my dreams too seriously.  No one told me that back then, all you had to have to be a librarian was a high school diploma.  By the time I decided to go for it, I had to have college and certification to be eligible for the job.   No one Ever told me the steps I might take to become a detective.  And by the time I got to high school, the constraints and social tiers of public school had me just letting go of most of those dream balloons and watching them float away into the sky.

Not writing, of course.  I can’t Not write.  Don’t have that in me.

Anyway, when Middle approached me about 6 months ago and said he wants to be a video game designer when he grows up, I realized I had an opportunity to make his life different.  So I found a wonderful unit study from The Old Schoolhouse called “I Wanna Be a Video Game Designer” from the WannaBe Series. I printed it out, hole-punched it, put it in a binder (you know my love of binders!) with some school paper, and told him to read the unit and start writing down his ideas.

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I swear, that kid never goes Anywhere without that binder.  He has come up with ideas for 3 video games, and has notes on everything from levels to characters to skill trees to settings.  He talks about designing constantly.  He reads magazines and e-articles about designing.  We’ve researched the best degree to aim for in order to be a designer.  He has started to learn coding, though it has been a bit of trial and error, since the little I know about coding comes from writing this blog.

But here’s the thing.  Today, my favorite thing about homeschooling is that whatever my Littles decide they’re interested in, they can learn about it.  Even if I don’t know much about it, I can find resources and peers who can point me in the right direction.  Even if I’m not remotely interested in it, I can act enthusiastic and encourage them to follow that dream to fruition or till it dies of its own accord.  I can set them up to learn extracurricular-ly or I can make it part of our curriculum like I did with chemistry.  They have the time to put real effort into it and as long as they have Mama being their constant cheerleader, they truly can do Anything they put their minds to.

I can’t wait to play Middle’s first video game, even though I don’t even like video games. I believe he will design one. ( If you saw his borderline obsessive behavior, you would too. haha)

Sometimes, as homeschool parents, it is our job to sit back and listen.  Find out what our littles want out of life, even if they are only 10 and 12, or 6, or 3.  Let Them lead us.  The absurd fact that we’re grown-ups does not always make us right.  It doesn’t even make us smarter.  If we listen, we can encourage, and if we encourage, we blow our littles’ lives wide open.  The possibilities are truly endless.  And they don’t have let go of those strings and let their dreams float away.  They cried when they lost balloons when they were small.  Do you think it feels any different to them now?

Love wins,

KT

Making Math Fun!

Use homemade games to teach your littles multiplication and division

Because I struggled with math when I was younger, I have learned that some people just learn it differently.  I am not so good (at least I wasn’t then) at reading directions in a book and then applying them to solving problems.  I have to have an experience to which to apply the math.  Once I have that, I am a calculating fool.  So when I noticed Littlest still having problems doing basic multiplication and division within more complex problems, I fretted and brooded about why he couldn’t get the basic memorization.  I made up worksheets that showed how each times table is basically counting by the number given.  3, 6, 9, 12, etc.  I printed off copious worksheets from other sources for practice.

Still… he wasn’t getting it.  So I brooded some more.  I watched how he behaved while learning other subjects.  And, as always happens when we homeschooling mamas put our minds to a problem, an epiphany occurred.  Littlest learns best with hands-on tools.  Games are his favorite things in the world.  Board games, dice games, card games, video games.  He never has a problem doing math when faced with a game.

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Midway through National Reading Month

You may or may not know that March is National Reading Month.  Of course, you know the Lit Mama, Every month is National Reading Month at my house.  But March is a great time, beginning with the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on the 2nd, to encourage littles to get in the reading habit.

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This month encourages us to remember the value and joy of shared reading, of reading alone, of utilizing our libraries, and of trying a new genre or author.

There are a great many activities to celebrate National Reading Month.  Here are just a few:

1. Visit your local library each week and pick up new books for your littles to enjoy.

2. If you don’t already do so, pick a chapter book and read aloud with your littles for fifteen minutes a day.

3. Hold a book club with your littles, assigning a set number of chapters for each week followed by a discussion of the chapters at week’s end.

4. Set up a contest where the little who reads the most books by the end of the month wins a prize–a fancy bookmark, a book light, or a new book.

5. Pick books with settings in different countries and have a ”read around the world” month.

6. Find an appropriate audiobook to listen to in the car while running errands.

7. For older littles, break out your old picture books and have a carefree day of easy reading!

8. For those not yet reading, use picture books to have fun phonics lessons and letter recognition.

9. Donate well-loved books to less fortunate children so they have the same opportunities to learn and explore your littles have had.

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If you do a Google search, you’ll soon find that there are other months designated as National Reading Month–National Family Reading Month in May, National Book Club Reading Month in October…. Actually, I saw stuff for just about every month.  I like March because of the Seuss tie-in (honestly, who truly does not like Green Eggs and Ham?).  But you could just follow our lead and make every month National Reading Month.  Your littles will be better off for it and even two weeks of reading aloud 15 minutes a day can lead to a habit.

Celebrate reading.  Remind your littles there’s nothing better in the whole world.  All hail the Great Seuss.  And if you have any other ideas about how to recognize Reading Month, please share them with me.

Love wins,

KT

Marvelous Meandering Homeschool

Here’s what I love about spring:  It never sneaks up like we imagine it will.  It just appears suddenly, right when you think winter will never end.  Last week a foot of snow covered my farm.  Today it is 65 degrees and sunny.  That is the way spring works, like an unexpected package in the mail that comes just when you are feeling like no one cares.

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Spring brings so many changes to our homeschool.  The obvious being the desire to get outside and use the world as our classroom again.  But my favorite part?  The way it invigorates us to learn even when we’re still stuck inside because the yard and meadows are muddy puddles of melted snow.  This morning the sun shined through the classroom window, the sky was a deep, everlasting periwinkle, and our brains felt wide awake for the first time in weeks.

Our Everyday Edit this morning was about Mount Rushmore.  It was a grammar lesson, but when we got to the part that https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Mount_Rushmore_National_Memorial.jpg?resize=252%2C191described whose faces grace the stone hill, the Littles had (of course) studied George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson–my personal fave.  Theodore Roosevelt?  Not so much.  So I told them a bit about our 26th president–his role in the Panama Canal, the Square Deal, and the famous Rough Riders charge on San Juan Hill in Cuba.

Here’s where the meandering came in.  Discussing Cuba led to the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Cold War to Star Wars (the strategy, not the films) to a debate about communism to China to the Middle East to Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope to Henry Hudson and back around to the Panama Canal.

We hadn’t even actually started grammar and the lesson had already lasted almost 45 minutes.  Spring sprang our brains wide open and we had more learning in that winding conversation that we probably did in all our planned lessons.  The Littles were engaged, I was excited (politics and their history being among my favorite topics), and all felt right in the world.

Homeschool offers so many opportunities for meandering learning.  On this beautiful spring day, if you ask me what I like best about homeschooling, I will answer, wholeheartedly, “Being able to discuss anything and everything without worrying about time constraints.”  Of course, if you ask me on another day, my answer may be different–there are so many things to love about homeschooling.

https://i0.wp.com/www.skaveo.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/spring-peter-cottontail-rabbit-bunny-trail.jpg?resize=344%2C233I love spring.  I love its audacity.  I love the way it makes us audacious.  If you are having similar experiences right now, when the whole world–including education–feels brand new, follow that rabbit trail.  Let your littles ask whatever they want and if you don’t know the answer, Google it or break out the encyclopedias.  Engage.  Have fun.  Shake out those snowflake cobwebs.

Sometimes the best education comes from a rabbit trail.  Rabbit trails prepare littles for future lessons or remind them of past lessons.  So meander.  Take a stroll through Cuba, China, and the Middle East.  End up in the Arctic and swoop back down to South America.  I promise, none of you will regret it.

Done any meandering lately?  Feel free to share; I love to hear about your lives.

Love wins,

KT