Posts Tagged ‘children’

Keeping Home Education Organized: Part 1

Howdy to all of you!  For a while there I thought it was almost spring… until I heard the weather report on the radio while driving the kids to the 4-H building to pick up their fruit orders from the fundraiser.  As fundraisers go, it’s one of the better ones we’ve had to do over the years. At least it’s useful and I can definitely come up with something to do with a box of cooking/baking apples (apple pie comes to mind) or 6 whole pineapples (like freezing them for smoothies or other later use.)

With temps. being below normal all winter (except for a freakishly nice streak last week), it’s too early yet for the many gardening tasks ahead, a so far only a few precious tomato seedlings just beginning to sprout this week, I’ve been turning my attention to other tasks… teaching the kids to cook, trying to keep school lessons graded on-time and recorded in the grade book, looking over the lessons for the rest of the spring term and doing lesson planning, making lists of curriculum subjects we need more of before the rest (so I don’t have to pay over-night or 2-day shipping fees, or else lose a week or two waiting on books) and planning for our trip to the nearest home-school convention in May.

A lot of these tasks are paperwork organizational ones.  I don’t claim to a paper organizing guru… especially in some areas… like the incoming mail from my (snail) mailbox.  On the grade-book, lesson planning and student planner front I’ve gained a great deal of confidence in the last year.  Through trial and error, we’ve learned more about ourselves and what works (and more importantly what doesn’t) for our family.  I’ve tried a lot of planners and planning pages that are out there in the marketplace (mainly 2 types… those available in the stores and those that are available online that you can print out and use), but they always seem to end up requiring a goodly amount of “tweaking” in order for them to work for my family and I always end up with this random mix of pages I printed out that really don’t look like they belong together.  From an artistic point of view, I find the lack of cohesion annoying at best.  My main complaints of store-bought student planners are number one that they are almost always dated and lack flexibility and two that they are typically designed for high school students.  Research has shown though that these organizational skills are best formed in 2nd/3rd graders, not jr. high and high school.

The best store-bought planners I’ve found for Elementary students are little spiral-bound assignment notebooks made by Mead (yes the people that make notebooks and Trapper Keepers that you remember from your school days.)  These are inexpensive (usually $3 or so) and I can find them at a couple my local (non-chain) grocery stores.  Each page has sections for 3 days and (Subject, Assignment, Date) at the top of each section.  You can use it one of two ways: 1 section per subject and all the assignments for that subject for a week (probably how the manufacturer intended it) or you could use it like we do.  I simply list all of the subjects/assignments for one day in a section and where it says Date:  I write the day of the week.  Then I just cross the completed assignment with a highlighter.  It’s simple and it works… for assignments… but it lacks planning pages for activities, home- school co-op, sports/clubs, church and for longer-term school and club projects… you would have to get another different planner for that sort of thing.   My kids’ complaint with these little planners…” THEY ARE SO BORING-LOOKING MOMMMMMM! ” I ask you… just how many planners should a 2nd to 5th/6th grader really be asked to maintain (even with a great deal of adult help)?  The answer to this question should never be more than ONE!  These are kids who have trouble keeping track of their shoes, toys, mittens and just about everything else that comes in pairs or more… so a pair of planners (one school-work and one social life) is just too much!

Having your student’s “paperwork organizational brain” all in one book makes their life and yours a great deal easier.  I had some specific requirements I struggled to find elsewhere (or if I did find it the format was super boring or not quite what I needed in some aspect or other.)

My Requirements:

* We school 6 days a week,  so we need either a 3-day per page or 6-day per page

* Longer-term Project planner pages for research papers (which we will be starting in the Fall), literature log/book report to ensure independent reading, and projects/goals for 4-H etc.

*Social organization pages.

*Month at a glance calendars to accompany the 5 weeks of assignment pages every month.

*Cohesive artistic design.

 

To this end result I used the Printmaster Platinum 6 program on my computer to design something that would work for my kids,  a planner that met our needs and wouldn’t bore the children to tears.  I may eventually design another version or two… or three…. as we all know that all children are very different.  For now the boys and decide we all like the “chalkboard” look… so we went a little old-school for our first home-school student planner.  I am going to try to add this on here as a downloadable file (you all let me know if it didn’t work.)  I will add pictures of the completed project after I try my link myself from our other computer which is the one that works with our printer.  It is meant to be copied with additional copies of the assignments, social and project pages for each month.

Daily Assignments

(Please Note: You are welcome to download and print it for personal use only, but please be respectful and don’t copy for commercial use.)

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New Frontiers in Education Part 2

(The 1st “Homeschool” many of us remember, reading aloud with grandma. Pictured are Aimee Packard’s sons, Theo and Charles being read to by her mother Patrica Wells)

Welcome back if you are returning to read this sequel to New Frontiers in Education (Part 1- The Why’s of Homeschooling).  If you are a new reader to Modern Pioneer Family and interested in the topic of Homeschooling (or interested in supplementing the education your child is recieving from a public or private school), then we encourage you to read our previous post on this subject.

I asked my dear friend, Aimee Packard, a homeschooling mother of two wonderful boys, to write a guest post for us on my blog about Homeschooling (as a New Frontierr in Education.)  It just happens that Aimee is very passionate about this topic and not only did a fabulous job writing about it, she went above and beyond and wrote 2 guest posts for us to read and consider here on Modern Pioneer Family.

One of the reasons I wanted to cover this topic is that in the Colonial and Pioneering periods in North American (both in the United States and Canada, our northern neighbor), education of the family within the home was a mainstay of our culture.  Even when those homes were represented by a covered wagon for families moving westward, children were being educated.

There still exists in North America today where public schools are so few and far between that parents consider homeschooling a better option than busing their children 40 miles or more one way to the nearest school (that would be the length of the trip if the family drove it, add in the school bus route and you could easily end up with a 2 hour trip one way  or more for students to just to get to school and another 2 hours + to return home.)  If school began at 8:20 am and got out at 3:30 (an average school day most places), this could easily put a kindergartener getting on the bus at 6 am (probably waking up at 5 am) and not  returning home until after 5:30, if they happened to be the kids furthest from the school.  This is a situation my own family has faced at our current public school and when the school district was considering consolidation with the next nearest school which would have added at least another 45 minutes each way, well that would not have been an option we’d have chosen as a family had it materialized.  By the time our boys get home, do their few little farm chores (feeding the dogs, rabbits and chickens and gathering eggs) and eat supper they are too tired or too irritable to really apply themselves to doing any assigned homework.  Thus both their grades and their learning is compromised.  If, I want to keep them caught up to their grade level, I must supplement their education on weekends, school holidays and in the summer.

Another reason I asked Aimee to write these posts, is that my oldest Farmer Boy, Charles is deeply interested in doing  his “schooling” as it was done during the Pioneering Period of American history.  He longs for a one-room schoolhouse and a tiny class consisting mostly of his siblings in which he can get all the personal help he needs to learn.  The larger public school classroom (while it does help with many of his social skills challenges) seems to be too distracting for him to adequetly  learn his most difficult subjects like reading for comprehension and other subject matter heavy in reading skills (social studies, science).  Farmer Boy Charles, has requested to make his sister’s playhouse into a one-room schoolhouse (at least for summer use) until his sister is old enough for playing house with her dolls, which will probably be 2 to 3 years.  The playhouse in question is larger than most storage/garden sheds, approx 10 ft x 14 ft and nearly tall enough for a small loft area to store things. (We already have 2 folding desk-chairs we found 2nd hand for $10 each and there is probably just enough room for 2 1/2 students (baby in a playpen), Ma a small table as teacher-desk, a blackboard and maybe a bookshelf for reading and art materials.  Given we have a busy, sometimes chaotic household with several dogs and other distractions, we are definitely considering using this space as a schoolroom for a time, because both boys are having serious struggles in education and the school doesn’t do the excellent job we would like to see them doing in many of the major core areas.  There is also our decided lack of a Sunday School space in which to do much of their religious education and such learning begs for a “special space” without in which to really study and play WITH GOD. (I have been teaching a curriculum of Sunday School Education called “Godly Play” based on Montessori method for over 10 years.  For info you can check out www.godlyplayfoundation.org & for resources  www.godlyplayresources.com.)

And now that I have gone into some depth about why I asked Aimee to cover the topic of Homeschool (because I felt my own children would benefit from my learning more about it mostly), here is her post for you to consider and ponder in your hearts.

New Frontiers in Education

(Part Two)

The “How-To” of Home Education

by Aimee Packard

*REPEATED Disclaimer:  I am going to discuss how to home school; actually I am going to discuss how to gather information if you want to really research home education for your family, this post really doesn’t talk about the how-to of homeschooling at all, not in a daily schedule or curriculum for a certain grade level sort of way.  However, none of this, or any of my comments should be taken as an attack on parents that choose to use the public school as a tool to educate their children.  This piece will be pro-home education

There are many basic steps to “seriously thinking about homeschooling”.  I will list them out, and talk about them, give you a few options and starting places.  Again, remember entire books are written about this topic, and actually about some of the subtopics; this is a brief concise starting point, how-to get started in seriously considering the option to homeschool or the option to supplement a lackluster education being provided in public schools at home with additional help for struggling students or to cover subject matter NOT covered in local schools.   However I am not going to be put them in a strict order.  I’ll order them for the sake of writing clarity; but the order you choose to approach the steps in doesn’t need to conform to my sequence.  Everyone thinks, takes in data, and processes information differently, that is what makes homeschooling work.  Adults are no different than children – and we all have our own “needs” when approaching a new, or not so new, topic.

Let me say from the start I LOVE my library and I love my librarian and I LOVE that she does Inter-Library-Loan (I.L.L.) for me.  (I love her for many reasons, but her active I.L.L. is on the top of the list).  It is a strict rule of mine I do not buy any homeschooling book – either for my own edification, or to use directly with the kids – with out physically viewing it first.  I have requested so many books I.L.L. (because we have a small local library) and been so glad I did when I did not like them; or after reading the book once did not feel it was worth buying to own.  Get to know your librarian!!!  He or she will be an amazing resource for you now, and especially as you start to educate at home.  Request books you library doesn’t have; check them out, read books before you buy (or decide not to).  There are so many good books out there; search on amazon.com and then go to the library.  You’ll find some you need to own; you find some you don’t read more than a chapter of and some you will be glad you read once, but can always request again later if you want to reread it.

  1. There are many “schools      of thought” on home education; Montessori (http://www.montessori.edu/) ,      Waldorf (http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/),      classical, Charlotte Mason (http://simplycharlottemason.com/      — one of my all-time favorite homeschool websites, by the way),      un-schooling.

We are a classical education family that schools at home: that means our education at home some what resembles the school classroom, with many text books, work books and seat work.  We seek a classical education; one based in great books and a challenging outline (see more here: https://scribinglife.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/classical-education-at-home/ ).  When you start reading, you will find a “theme” that fits your personality and your family, and your faith, and then go from there.  Look at all the books and websites and media available as a big buffet.  It doesn’t hurt to look, even to try a taste.  Take what you want, what works, and leave the rest; but do not be afraid to LOOK,

1.    One free resource is http://www.currclick.com/product/22668/Homeschooling–The-Other-Side-of-Education?it=1  Homeschooling- The Other Side of Education.  It is a much more complete look at what I have been discussing in these two posts.  It is free and a fast easy read.  This e-book is worth the time to cover the basics.

2.    http://classicalacademicpress.com/images/free_resources/20091210_ICE.pdf  is another FREE e-books (about 45 pages if I remember correctly) that give a solid introduction to Classical Education.   It is an excellent resource.  Even if you do not feel drawn to Classical Ed it is a good (FREE) read to start you thinking and asking question about education.

3.    State laws for the State you live in.  Every state has laws that govern home schooling, school attendance and school recording.  LEARN YOUR LAWS.  If you are in a highly regulated state and thus will be expected to do a great deal of reporting and recording, that could realistically affect you schooling choice.  http://www.hslda.org/laws/ is certainly a starting point; just be sure you are aware of what is legally required of you in your home state.  Knowing the laws to which you are required to adhere will help you in making your homeschooling decisions and it also will help you defend your rights to homeschool, if there is ever a problem with your school district, local or state government.  If you know your rights as a homeschooling family, then you will know if educational officials ever try to encroach on those rights.

  1. Network.  Find support.  Most states have yahoo groups.  My locations have live support groups (Park Day and other events are very common).  Make connections, homeschooling can be very lonely; and experienced home education families can be a Godsend to get you up and running and though that first year (or that first year of high school). Join a message board to two; great conservation and tons of experienced parents happy to help you.
  2. Surf the web!!!  There are some great sites (and some real losers too).  Look around, browse.
  3. A good site, not so much how to, or why to: but to show you what tools are out there to help you, to guide you, and to assist you in educating your children, either full time or after school if you decide the education they are currently receiving is not up to muster (and trust me, test scores be damned, it is not) go to your local library and check out (or request on inter-library-loan) 100 Top Picks for Home school Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child’s Learning Style by Cathy Duffy.  The last actual publication was 2005 (I hope there will be a new one soon) but there is up-to-date data on her website.  http://cathyduffyreviews.com/.
  4. http://oldfashionededucation.com/
  5. http://www.homeschooldiner.com/ is a fun site, and not overwhelming.
  6. http://www.welltrainedmind.com/  join the discussion board too – very active.  (I am there)
    1. Finally, most important, is READ, read, read, read…..here are a few suggestions to get you started.  Look them up on amazon.com and look at all the linked books, explore – be a kid again, nothing you look at or read can hurt you.  If you do not like it leave it and go on.  There are many many good books out there, and many great websites.  All you have to do, all you can do, is start reading and educate yourself about your child’s education.
    2. The Well Trained Mind. http://www.amazon.com/The-Well-Trained-Mind-Classical-Education/dp/0393067084/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333066699&sr=1-1  It is a blue print to home education, both they why (not from a Christian stand point, from and education stand point) and the how.  Read it now, even if you never plan to home school
    3. Honey for a Child’s Heart. http://www.amazon.com/Honey-Childs-Heart-Gladys-Hunt/dp/0310242460/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333066983&sr=1-1   By Hunt the power of reading with your children, no matter where they do their school work.  The greatest power a parent has is the power of reading.
    4. When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today  http://www.amazon.com/When-Children-Love-Learn-Application/dp/1581342594/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333068776&sr=1-1
    5. Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home http://www.amazon.com/Real-Learning-Education-Heart-Home/dp/0971889511/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333749060&sr=1-3
    6. Finally one I have not yet read; but really want to:  Educating the Whole Hearted Child — Third Edition http://www.amazon.com/Educating-WholeHearted-Child-Third-Edition/dp/1932012958/ref=pd_sim_b_24

Remember if you choose to educate your child fully at home, or to supplement, you are not facing teaching everything a child needs to learn and you have forgotten off the top of your head.  There are books and full curriculums to walk you though it; you are not alone.  There are  many resources out there that are available for free or of little cost, so do not be daunted in your desire to educate at home by advertisements for expensive full-curriculums that all insist they are THE BEST, you can pick and choose from affordable and/or free lesson plans and materials to piece together a curriculum that will suit your child’s needs.

The Littlest Pioneer Girl’s 1st Words

New Frontiers In Speech

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Today, our Littlest Pioneer Girl, Anna Elizabeth, uttered her first spoken words.  She is exactly 7 months old today, at exactly 6 months she got her first tooth (followed closely by the 2nd tooth less than a week after the first.)  The Littlest Pioneer Girl, seems to like being right on the mark with major milestones and making it easy on Modern Ma to remember the dates (‘cuz who has time for scrapbooking just now???  With a garden to plant, animals to care for, house to clean and 3 children and a husband to feed, Ma sure doesn’t!)

Anna’s first word was “Mama” plain as day this afternoon and often repeated and well practiced, especially whenever “Mama” left her sight.  Pioneer Pa was a teeny bit miffed, the boys 1st words were always “Dada” and he expected his daughter to follow suit.  Her second word, so close on the heels of the first, was a very good attempt at “love” and a budding effort at her third word a slightly shreiky “I”.  Then after Mama repeated them in correct gramatical order, Anna kept trying to repeat “I love Mama.”

I, Ma was of course thrilled, Henry was about 9 month before he tried “Mama” (I remember him saying “Dada”, “Dog” and Meow (at the time we had a cat and meow=cat) well before he said mama.)

Charles first word was “dada” as well, followed by “wawa” = water/swimming, dog, duck, peep-peep (chicks), fish and egg by a year old.  Then Charles began losing language rapidly between 18 and 24 months.  Charles had to be re-taught all over again to speak at about 4 years old and did not finally say “mommy” until he was 4 1/2 years old (a huge milestone.) Prior to 4 1/2 Charles always used and understood, but silent “hey you” to address me.

So having my only daughter’s first word be “Mama” is a huge reward for all those years I waited to hear her oldest brother say it.

Pureed Beets

(A Gluten Free & Casein Free Baby Food Recipe)

Indredients:

4 medium sized beets, washed and stems removed

Water (enough to barely cover beets in saucepan)

Equipment needed:

cutting board, disposable gloves (beets stain EVERYTHING), paring knife, chef’s knife, small to medium sized saucepan, Baby Bullet or other powerful blender, ice cube trays made of silicone (regular  ice cube trays will work but cubes may have to be slightly thawed to release them from the trays and I’ve had a few of the cheapo trays crack on me), 1 qt. zip-top freezer bags.

Instructions:

PUT ON GLOVES!  Wash beets and remove tops. Peel beets with paring knife (if you have chickens, other poultry or a hog, reserve peelings and tops for a treat for your livestock).  Using cutting board and chef’s knife, dice beets into 1/2 inch pieces or smaller (smaller pieces cook faster).  Place diced beets in pan, use just enough water to barely cover them.  Put pan on burner and bring to boil.  Cover with a lid, reduce heat to a simmer and allow beets to steam until very tender to a fork test.  Turn off heat and allow temp to drop until they can be handled comfortably, but are still warm.  Place 1/2 of the beets in the bowl of your blender or Baby Bullet, along with approx. half the water.  Secure lid and puree as per the appliance manufacturer’s instructions until of baby food consistancy, add a little cool water if neccessary to thin.  Pour into trays and place in freezer.  Repeat with other  1/2 of beets and cooking water.

To thaw for use:  Remove 1 or 2 cubes from freezer place in a small covered dish such as a recylced baby food jar or yogurt cup.  If to be eaten at next meal, allow to thaw at room temp for an hour or two.  If to be eaten in the next 2 days, thaw in the fridge.

Number of servings will depend on size of beets used and age of your baby.

Pureed Beets are also an awesome addition to vanilla or chocolate cakes, lending their rosy color, vitamins/minerals and a bit of fiber to your family’s diet (an idea I borrowed from one of my favorite cookbooks, Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld, long before our family went gluten and dairy free.  Do check out a copy of her book from your local library or bookstore for more ideas on adding veggies and fruits to you kids’ diets, even if your family has special diet needs, many of the recipes can be adapted to your needs.  We draw inspiration from this book pretty often.)  Pureed beets in a vanilla or yellow GF cake mix and a little organic Chocolate Extract and frosted with coconut yogurt frosting makes AWESOME Red Velvet Cakes/cupckes. Red Velvet is Charles, favorite cake flavor, so we will be posting this before the end of the school term when his class celebrates the summer birthdays.  Stay on the look out for a from scratch GF/CF version of that.

Beets are one of Anna’s all-time favorite foods!

The Next Generation of K-9 Pioneers

We first began our new frontier in raising Autism Service Dogs in 2009, when our son’s Charles’ A.S.D Black Pearl’s Black Daffodil (aka Narcissa or The K-9 Pioneer) was born into our 1st litter between our foundation female, Fish’s Sable Nyghte Arastaya (aka Kacy), and our foundation stud dog, Blue-Eyed Cowboy X.  This mating consistantly produces litters with about 50% of the puppies having temperments desirable for Service Dog work with young developmentally disabled children and also with adults who have autism.  We would have liked to use Narcissa for breeding service dog puppies, but had to have her spayed due to an auto accident that broke her pelvis.  Since then we’ve kept several of her sisters (litter sister, Kindled Flame, aka Kindlelyn, and younger full-sister, Shiny Bauble, Shiny for short) who have similar dispositions and also one of her nieces, SweetPea, out of her elder 1/2 sister, (Cashmere & Silk aka Sasha, who is no longer with us.)

The newest K-9 Pioneers (pups w/ pontential to help a special needs child) were born early this morning to our youngest mama dog, Shiny.  This is a litter of 5 puppies: 1 blue merle female, 1 red merle female, 1 pale (diluted) red tri-color female w/ a white blaze, 1 pale (diluted) red tri-color male (less white than his sister) and 1 blue-grey (diluted black) tri-colored male. The dilute color modifying gene pops up sometimes in bloodlines that carry the “harlequin” and “tweed” merle pattern modification genes, both of which are carried by Shiny’s mother Kacy (who has produced pups and grandpups of both patterns) and this litter’s sire who is himself a harlequin merle.  In coloration, this is one of the most unique litters we’ve had born and we can’t wait until their little individual personalities begin showing around a month of age.

Pictured is Black Pearl’s Shiny Bauble as a youngster and second picture is of Shiny’s 1st litter of babies. 2 males and 3 females.

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