Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 10

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We studied Ancient China, chapter 10 of The Story of the World Volume 1 mostly in the car. I knew the Story of the World CDs would come in handy. The kids enjoyed the story of the silk worms. They had no idea about how silk is made. I feel so privileged – all over again – to be the one introducing them to such facts about the world.

They did their mapwork. My daughter colored the page with Chin and his dad, but my son put it off. Again, I do not insist on coloring if he does not want to.

We read some of the books recommended. My local library did not carry these particular titles, but they got them for us in about a week through the inter-library loan program. Meanwhile, the children’s librarian brought us similar books which they did have. One of them actually had the same title as the one recommended by Susan Wise Bauer, i.e. “Ancient China,” and it made it confusing later on as I was returning both titles.  Continue reading »

But we sorted it out and moved on from it. My librarians are very relaxed and if we make a mistake or they make a mistake, they take it all in stride. I appreciate such a working partner.

I chose not to make pictograms or Ming dynasty bowls. My kids have been playing with clay a bit too much lately on other projects and I am tired of cleaning up after art projects. It’s my classroom and my prerogative. I give you permission to do the same when you get tired of cleaning, in case you needed to get permission from somebody.

We are totally behind in our history curriculum. This is school week 15 for us and we should study at least chapter 15 in Story of the World Volume 1 this week. Oh well. This is a good challenge for me: figure out how to get history done. It’s all about priorities and planning, of course.

The temptation for any homeschool mom is to wonder if  kids finish things better in a classroom environment. Here’s the short answer: they don’t. And now, for the long answer…

I have recently spoken with a teacher who told me the older the kids get, the less they get done in class. “If you wait for 15 kids to get their math books out, you can spend 15 minutes… That’s why we give them homework. Because we can’t finish the lesson in the class.”

It was like a boost in the arm mid-year when I heard that. January and February can be dreary months for a homeschooling mom, you know. In fact, Susan Wise Bauer says that February is burnout month and we are a few days away from February. So I choose to relax, take each day as it comes, do my work and even if I don’t get everything done, I go to bed with a positive spirit.

Homeschooling feels like a privilege to me. When I look back on the time I get to spend with my children, nobody can take that away from me. And, if things get dreary in winter, I can always look forward to next year. I have already ordered some second grade curriculum for my son. I can’t believe I just typed that. My son, in the second grade? Yup! It will be here before I know it. No time to mope around!


Thoughtful Thursday Week 1 – Stop Learning

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Last year, I published a series of weekly devotional posts for homeschooling moms called Mom Monday. Fifty-two weeks later, it is time for a new series. A new series for a new year. Introducing Thoughtful Thursday, a collection of essays about homeschooling and how it forces everybody to think outside the box. In some cases, it forces people to think. Period.

It’s sad, I know, but some people go through life without thinking, simply accepting the status quo, just believing everything that is handed down to them by the previous generation, and feeling scared and challenged when someone comes along doing a new thing.

Thoughtful Thursday Week 1 - Stop learning

When I started this blog, I knew I was going to focus on homeschooling. I also knew that homeschooling touches so many aspects of our lives – because it is a lifestyle – that it inevitably brings about some basic questions about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Which is why a personal friend unfriended me on Facebook and declared herself “highly offended” by one of my posts on socialization, for instance. She chooses to put her children in public school and once told me, “I believe in public school.”  Continue reading »

Well, I believe in God. And when God called me to homeschool my kids, I listened. I wish I could say that I accepted the calling right away. As some of you may know, it was a struggle and I bothered quite a few homeschooling moms online with my questions. But, finally, the Holy Spirit prevailed and I surrendered.

Homeschooling brings about a revolution of ideas and concepts which people take for granted. Revolutions aren’t pretty. People get hurt.

Warren Buffet is quoted to say that “simple is not always easy.” While homeschooling is a simple concept to grasp – parents taking responsibility for their children’s education – it is not easy to accept and execute.

Which is why I love homeschooled kids doing TED talks, like Logan LaPlante or Jacob Barnett. They fly in the face of traditional school options and prove school psychologists wrong. Take, for instance, Jacob Barnett’s case. He was diagnosed with autism and his parents were told he would never speak or amount to much. A few years later, he taught himself advanced math in two weeks so he could sit in this one particular calculus class.

One day, when a particular theorem bothered him, he started working on it obsessively. His mom brought a Princeton professor to look at his calculations and try to prove him wrong. The professor told his mom, “Your son is right in everything he put forth.”

In a nutshell, his talk encourages us to do three things, in this order:

1. Stop learning

2. Start thinking

3. Start creating

We will look at these three steps for the first three weeks of Thoughtful Thursdays. This first week is an invitation to stop learning. That’s right. This home educator is asking you to stop learning.

Once thinking starts, the creative process starts. And once you create, you fulfill God’s desire for you, because He made you in His image and He is the Creator.

Unless you forget what you know, you will never be able to advance past the generation that just handed you the knowledge they have. Jacob Barnett gives poignant examples of geniuses like Newton and Einstein following the above three steps. And that’s how science was pushed further. No doubt, Jacob Barnett is a genius. All homeschool kids do not have to be like him or revolutionize science or be interviewed by Glenn Beck.

But there is something to be said about forgetting what we know and looking for a new path. A thoughtful path. A homeschooling path.

I invite you to stop learning, start thinking, and start creating this year. Forget what you know and open yourself up to new thoughts and ideas. Join me here on Thursdays for a thoughtful discussion about what education means.


Wonderful Wednesday – Veggie Garden Update

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I have a small garden where I play “Farmer.” It’s only 4’x8′ and I don’t expect to feed my family from it. But if we can get some veggies every year while the children experience the cycle of sowing, weeding, watering and harvesting, I am happy.

This year, we already learned some lessons from it. Now, I’m back with an update.  Continue reading »

It has been raining almost every day for the past three weeks. I have not had to water my garden. Yeah!

I did have to clean up after our cat, who had been using our garden patch as a litter box. Yuck!

My husband came up with a solution: plastic fencing that can be wrapped around the four poles of the garden bed. I knew those poles would come in handy one day…

So here’s my veggie garden in full swing, with the new fencing around it.

Veggie Garden - Summer

My small garden is producing a lot this year.

 

Our one and only blackberry bush

Blackberry bush - almost ripe

We picked about 15 blackberries today and, from the looks of it, we will have more

 

Our one and only grape vine

Green grapes on the vine

This would be the first year we would enjoy grapes from our backyard

 

One of our blueberry bushes

Green Blueberries

We always get lots and lots of blueberries

 

A baby cucumber

Tiny cucumber

I showed this baby cucumber to my son. He touched it, got hurt and blurted, “It’s prickly!” all before I could warn him.

 

Tiny tomatoes

Green tomatoes on the plant

It looks like we will get some tomatoes this year.

 

Tiny peppers

Tiny green peppers on the plant

We love green peppers and grow them every year. They are so sweet compared to grocery store peppers.

 

These pictures are quite the metaphor for children. Growing, developing, not yet fully matured, but perfect in every way. And cute.


Mom Monday Week 13 – Pretty, Stinky Flowers

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Depending on the weather, I take a walk in the morning. Our neighborhood is 10 minutes away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – a perfect place to homeschool.

Mom Monday Series on Homeschool Ways

I did not learn the concept of a nature walk until two years ago when I was researching homeschooling and fell in love with the Charlotte Mason approach. Nature walks are my time to be by myself, with God and His creation. I ask for clarity on certain issues. He delivers.

Three pine cones, small, medium and large

Pine cones in different stages of development remind me of the growth process we all go through

The other day, I found some treasures that reminded me of a few lessons about life in general and homeschooling in particular.  Continue reading »

First, I found three pine cones, each a different size, each perfect in its stage. Perfection does not mean the end of growth. It simply means organic matter, in its different stages of development, contains everything it needs to function well and continue to grow to the next level.

Children are that way. Perfect at every stage, they have all they need to continue their process of growing, learning and maturing. Are we faithful, like God, who sends sunshine and rain on His creation, to oversee our children’s development?

Small white flowers which smell awfully

Beautiful, stinky flowers from a neighborhood tree

Secondly, I spotted a twig covered in small, white flowers. It had fallen from a tree. I brought it home and my children put it in a small container with water. While having breakfast, my daughter kept saying something smelled bad. I could not smell anything, but children are always right.

I decided to smell the twig. Wrong move. These horribly smelling trees may look glorious in spring, but their flowers reek. Appearances can be deceiving. Let’s make sure that our homeschools look good and smell good, too. Literally and symbolically.


Great Homeschool Conventions

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Are you going to a homeschool convention this year? Which one? Please leave me a comment.

Check out the homeschool event of the year, with speakers like Dr. Ben Carson, Susan Wise Bower and Heidi St. John, among others.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that you can buy a ticket for this conference at no extra cost to you and I receive a small percentage. Thank you for your support!

Homeschool Convention Discount Ticket Price Extended


Mom Monday Week 8 – The Charlotte Mason Series

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Some of you might know how much I enjoy the Charlotte Mason method in my homeschool: the gentle approach to learning, living books, awe-inspiring nature walks, foreign languages, habit training. I have read great books about the Charlotte Mason approach, like For the Children’s Sake. I recently started A Charlotte Mason Companion.

It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to read the lady herself. To listen to her own words, if you will, and try to penetrate the meaning of those Victorian phrases myself.

Charlotte Mason Series

I especially thought about her Home Education series – a six-volume set. Too much to read? Perhaps. So I put the thought aside. I have a few too many books on my night stand at this moment.

The other day, I got to spend half an hour at Cedar Springs Christian Bookstore in Knoxville, which features a whole section for homeschool curriculum, some gently used. I have had some luck in the past finding treasures over there. Continue reading »

When I saw the Charlotte Mason six volumes in a box by themselves, they called my name. I was delighted.

The Charlotte Mason Six Volumes on Home Education

The six volumes, quietly waiting for me to go through them in the next few months.

Now that Downton Abbey is over for ten long months, I will have to travel to England by means of these great books. I don’t have a deadline to finish these volumes by. I will think of them as my reward at the end of a long homeschooling day. When I finish, I finish. That way, I can enjoy every turn of phrase, every concept, and every new idea.

Six volumes may sound like a lot. And it is.

Well, one must start somewhere. Slowly but surely, I will get it done.


And the Winner of “The 12-Week Year” Book Is…

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Very excited to announce the winner of “The 12-Week Year” book: her name is Geanina and she lives in Georgia. How cool is that?

Geanina from Georgia, a homeschooling mom of two teenage boys, with a third on the way. Congratulations are in order… twice!

One autographed copy of this New York Times bestseller coming your way, Geanina! Thank you for being a faithful subscriber to Homeschool Ways blog and newsletter.