Saturday, February 27, 2010

I am a homeschool Mum

I believe in strong Character Education.

Today I taught my son about Chivilry.

Put down the shovel and say sorry to your sister."

I am a homeschool Mum.

I believe in giving my children a solid grounding in the Sciences.

Today I taught my children about physics: cause and effect...

"If you drop that it will break. See."

and natural history: animal behaviour...

"If you pull that cat's tail it will scratch you. See."

and biology: Human anatomy...

"Honey, there IS still blood inside you. Stop crying and let's just wash that"

and Chemistry

"Dirt will come off better with soap and water. Go and wash your hands again."

I am a homeschool Mum.

I believe in teaching my children about the Scriptures and Worship.

Through Bible study...

"...and King Darius called down to Daniel...What? No, there aren't lions under your bed. King Darius called down...put that down, now. King Darius....YOU stand THERE, NOW. YOU sit THERE, NOW. Keep your hands on your lap while I am reading please. Now, King Nebuchadnezzer...What? Oh yes King Darius, clever kid. Oh, you learned that from VeggieTales. Take your finger out of your nose please."

and singing songs of praise...

"Jesus loves me (put that down now) this I know (NOW) for the Bible tells me so (that is disobedience, come here) little ones to HIM belong...."

I am a homeschool Mum.

I believe in teaching my children about the world around them...

"Did you know that pizza comes from a country named Italy kids? No, not THIS pizza. Yes, you're right, Daddy did buy this one from the shop."

and events of history.

"You know, before cars people rode in horse carts and buggies. No, cars were invented before I was born. Yes, that is a long time ago."

I am a homeschool Mum.

I believe in giving my children life skills.

"Go and make your bed. Now. No, don't argue, now. What? HOW did the sheets get wet? Oh. Just leave it honey, I will do it in a minute. Can you empty the dishwasher instead please?"

I am a homeschool Mum.

I believe in giving my kids the best education I can.

I believe HOME is the most important part of HOMESCHOOL.

It has been one of those weeks, but it's Friday now and I am still glad that I am blessed with these children, this home and this life.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Schooling the introvert

WHAT is an introvert?

My husband and I are both introverts. Let me define exactly what I am saying when I say we are introverts. I am saying we are energised by being alone or in a situation that does not require us to be socially active where as being in a very social situation (such as a party) can be quite draining - even if we enjoy it. Our introversion is of different degrees. Papa Bear enjoys having people around but also needs a bit of alone time with his own thoughts. Mama Bear, however, could quite happily live in a cave. Forever. Especially if I had a computer and a decent library.

Being an introvert is NOT being shy. "Shyness has an element of apprehension, nervousness and anxiety, and while an introvert may also be shy, introversion itself is not shyness." In fact, paradoxically, I have known EXTROVERTS, people who crave and are energized buy the company of others, who are painfully shy!

Being an introvert does NOT mean we lack social skills. Papa Bear is much better than tact than I am I admit, but generally we can conduct ourselves fairly well. How many people do you know who are extroverts, life of the party types, who are often quite rude? i.e. LACK SOCIAL SKILLS!!

Being an introvert does not mean we are depressed or mentally unbalanced or had a traumatic childhood.

Psychologists will argue at length over the merits of "nature vs. nurture" (were they born that way or did the environment make them that way) but the fact that Papa Bear (introvert) + Mama Bear (extreme introvert) = Princess Doc (Extrovert!) makes me think that God made us all very special and unique and our social inclination is simply a part of that.

HOW did being an introvert effect your (Mama Bear's) schooling?

Throughout my school years the fact that I preferred to read during recess rather than play netball or socialise 'with the girls' caused many school staff members a great deal of concern. Numerous report cards worried and fussed over my "lack of social skills", however every single one of those teachers would also say that I could participate in class discussions, group activities and general class life as well if not better than most of my peers and maintained good relationships with my small group of friends. Their concern was that I seemed to prefer my own company for large portions of the day. If asked why this was a problem, I doubt many of them would be able to give adequate reason. However for most of the years I spent in school - even going through to my tertiary years (my teaching internship report card almost had "does not play well with others" on it because I preferred to eat lunch in the classroom rather than the staff room) - I was told or it was insinuated that I needed to CHANGE. That I needed to be different. That I needed to fit into the social mold being presented to me.

You see, it is easier for a school to function if the student body is homoginised - if the students are fairly uniform in composition and blend together easily. When a student doesn't blend in for whatever reason, it usually makes life more difficult for the staff and sometimes for the other students. Hence, there is pressure placed DAILY on students to blend in many classrooms and school settings. Being that introverts compose a minority in society (as one article puts it, "a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population.") and that by their very nature they find constant social interaction taxing - if not downright stressfull - what load does the average school setting place on the introverted child? What effect does it have on the introverted child to be labeled as "anti-social", "weird", "freaky" or "an outsider" not only by their peers but by the trusted adults who are meant to be mentoring and guiding them? Think on that for a while. It sort of makes me wonder if the stereotypical "strange, weird kid who simply snapped one day" used to be a perfectly normal introverted person who was subjected to pressures, bullying and bombarded by messages that they needed to be different until they really DID become unhealthy!

WHY does the world need introverts?

Well, I would say that Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison made contributions to the world. Hans Christian Anderson and C. S. Lewis certainly made an impact on the world of literature. I would suggest that the reason introverts compose "a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population" is because introverts like to spend time with their own thoughts - giving their energy to figuring stuff out. Introverts have a special and unique contribution to bring to the world that is just as vital as the contribution made by extroverts. Introverts are a beautiful colour on the spectrum of human creation, NOT a defect. And God made us too!! There is an excellent article on evangelism for introverts here.

So, HOW do I handle the social aspect of my introverted child?

So far I have one baby bear who I can identify clearly as an introvert (Farm Boy) and another who is showing signs along those lines (Pigeon). Princess Doc is a clear extrovert and Tool Man could go either way at this point. Catering for the varying social needs and desires of our brood is simply part of parenting. Here are some insights we have gleaned from our own experiences being and parenting introverts.

First of all, let them be who they are! An introvert who is comfortable with the fact that they enjoy time alone will be far more functional socially than an introvert who feels inferior or defective because of their preference for alone time. It can be tempting for a homeschool family to push a child to participate in various groups and social events to assuage parental paranoia about raising an anti-social child. Don't do that! It is one thing to require a child to engage in family life and attend regular social events with the family, it is completely another to force arbitrary social stimuli on them for no logical reason other than to change their personality. "Introverts do like to socialize – only in a different manner and less frequently than extroverts." If an introverted child is to attend groups, camps, clubs etc. it needs to be primarily motivated by that child's passions and interests such as astronomy groups, Bible Studies, nature clubs or music camps rather than arbitrary 'socialising opportunities' which will likely be boring and counterproductive at best.

Second, take a look at your objectives in teaching your child about socialisation and society. Are you working to give them the tools they need to function successfully in society? Or are you trying to change them into an extrovert?

Third, recognise social skills as just that, a set of skills. The general consensus in most schools is that the "sink or swim" method of teaching social skills is woefully inadequate in terms of success. Therefore many schools are implementing programs for directly teaching social skills - many labeling these programs as 'anti-bullying' as bullying seems to be a major side effect of the sink or swim method. In our home we explicitly teach things like empathy, humility and conflict resolution through our character education. We help our children maintain friendships by having letter writing as a part of our 'language program'. We make time to hang out with our friends and family in low pressure situations (i.e. around a BBQ) and we watch how our kids are handling associating with others to see where we need to instruct them. The ability to politely decline an invitation to play is a VITAL social skill for an introverted child, something you can role play with them very easily. Both extroverted and introverted children, however, need social skills. Ironically, social skills come most naturally to our most introverted child!

Fourth, create a home environment that allows for privacy and solitude. We live in a house where there are 4 kids sharing a bedroom and our living/dining/kitchen area is small and open plan. Even the bathroom in combined with the toilet so retreating into there is a limited time option! However, if Farm Boy is laying on his bed with Red Bear, it is like hanging a do not disturb sign. If Mama Bear and Papa Bear close the bedroom door, you better be bleeding or have broken bones if you disturb them! If Princess Doc is curled up with a book or bent over a project - you simply let her be unless there is a very good reason to interrupt. We allow each other space because we could not function otherwise. Allowing space and solitude alleviates pressure to constantly socialise and creates opportunity for each of us to cultivate our personal relationship with God as well as recharging our batteries. Long term, this is a positive move for the social life of the whole family, not just the introverts. It also teaches the extroverts among us to respect and value the introverts rather than bullying or harassing them into being constantly social.

Last, ignore the critics and focus on what is best for your child. I have had people tell me that they could not possibly homeschool their child because the child is introverted and if they were homeschooled, they'd never speak to anyone! The reality is that I, and many other homeschooled introverts, found socialising MUCH easier once the pressure to be a social butterfly every day was taken off. Most introverted people still desire solid friendships and like all people they want to feel loved and valued. They just don't want to be talked at constantly! Even today, I find small talk taxing and it is an effort to engage in discussions about the weather etc. for more than five minutes. My friends have learned to, if not understand, tolerate this as one of the wonderful quirks that make up me. Isn't allowing the unique quirks of each child to develop a compelling reason to homeschool in the first place? I have learned to avoid, politely extract myself from or grin and bear small talk situations, to function within society without compromising my own integrity. Another good goal of a homeschool in my opinion!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Socialisation is the major 'issue' bought up by well meaning family, friends and strangers in the street. It is the question that makes many of us want to tear out our hair in frustration! It is also the question that makes many homeschoolers nervous and worried. In fact, some homeschoolers are so paranoid about it now days that they spend more time shipping their kids out and about to 'socialise' than they do schooling!

I could wax long and lyrical about this subject, and many, many homeschool advocates (and critics) have, but at the end of the day what I have to worry about is what does this mean for US and OUR homeschool.

First, let's define WHAT we want in the way of socialisation.

In my opinion, a well socialised individual can interact effectively with a person or group of people, regardless of that person or group's background, status and abilities.

I ain't quite there yet!!

It is a life long thing to learn this socialisation thing. I aim to start my kids on that journey.

WHY is this important to my kids?

Well, there is the great commission to start with "Go and make Disciples of all nations...". In order to do that you need to be able to communicate with and interact with people effectively.

Also, friendships and relationships with others are important. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" Proverbs 27:17.

Plus, I have been around homeschooling circles long enough to have come across kids who are rude, disrespectful, judgmental, condescending, sneaky, or otherwise unpleasant individuals who I don't want to be around. In other words - unsocialised! So I know that homeschooling isn't the cure for all things. And I will be spending ALL DAY MOST DAYS for the next however many years with these kids. Call me selfish, but I would like them to be the kind of people who you can be in the same room as for more than ten minutes without wanting to strangle them!

So, HOW are we going to 'do' socialisation?

2010 Socialisation

It is the aim of Our Family Homeschool that each child will be given every opportunity to:

• Form positive and lasting relationships with friends and family

• Develop skills to manage and resolve conflict

• Interact effectively with people from a variety of social, cultural and religious background and with various abilities.

• Demonstrate a range of social skills in a variety of social settings

• Actively participate in the local community and our church community

This year, as well as our general lifestyle, Princess Doc will be given opportunity to:

• Attend our statewide church family camp where she will participate in activities with her peer group as well as spending time with families from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds and of varying abilities.

• Regularly participate in the Active After School Program at the Mole Creek Primary School OR participate in a local gymnastics program with her peers from a variety of social, cultural and religious backgrounds

• Regularly attend our local church where she will interact with people from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds, age groups and abilities

• Maintain friendships that she has already made via personal contact and letter writing

• Maintain family relationships with her immediate family (which, I am sure, will develop her conflict management skills!) and her extended family

Complex, ain't it!!

And if all else fails, I can point out to the nay-sayers that I was homeschooled and if I am talking to them, possibly, I managed to pick up a few social skills! (or, you know, point out their school attending child being anti-social and kindly suggest they homeschool)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Homeschooling in a Minor Key

Life, being what it is, and home, being what it is, can be somewhat unpredictable. You can be sailing merrily along and next thing you know, for one reason or another, you are in the doldrums.

When this happens, when grief or sickness, pain or depression strike, it is inevitable that it will have an effect on schooling. If people know about the troubles you face, the naysayers will often take this opportunity to chip away (with the best of intentions) at your resolve to homeschool at all. To tell the truth, this is often when we DON'T FEEL LIKE SCHOOLING ANYMORE. There, I said it. I, lover of all things homeschool and passionate advocate for homeschooling, have admitted that it isn't always sunshine and roses. Sometimes the key goes from major to minor. We wonder "if I find it an effort to shower today and preparing food for the family seems like an insurmountable challenge, would my child be better off at school today?". We question "surely if I could just sent them off to school I could get it together more, have some peace with no demands for a few hours."

We read homeschooling blogs, books, forums and support sites. We listen to the other Mums at homeschool groups and co-ops. We watch the Duggars on TV. And we wonder, am I the only one that doesn't have it together? The truth is, so many of us in the homeschooling world have had to defend our choices so often to everyone from our in-laws to the old lady in the grocery shop to actually admit that we feel sad and today life is tough IS HARD TO DO! But the fact is, friends get sick, accidents happen, people die. Life happens. And it's sad sometimes. If you think it is "un-Christian" to feel this way, I invite you to read Ecclesiasties, Lamentations, a fair portion of the Psalms, the stories of Israel in Exodus. I invite you to remember, Jesus wept..

Some things to remember:

* Teachers have off days and down times too. They struggle through and try not to let it touch the kids for the most part, but they are not on the top of their game. One teacher I knew lost her mother, had major surgery and experienced major trauma within her family all in one year and still kept teaching all year. Yes, she did an OK job, the kids didn't get bells and whistles and things were kept simple. My point is, how do you know that if you send them to school they aren't going to be taught by another grief affected person?

* Grief and sadness is a part of life. There is an article on Grief and Homeschooling which challenges the idea that it is best to isolate children from grief. Perhaps it is best to experience this together as a family. Perhaps it underestimates our children to think that they will not pick up on and be affected by our grief simply because they are out of the house 8 hours a day?

* It is OK to go vanilla! Julie from Brave Writer talks about experiencing grief and homeschooling in this article and insightfully recommends dropping the bells and whistles. It will not harm your children to spend a year just doing the three R's - and the basics of those. They will learn.

* Plan 'slack' into your program. There are the 'big' griefs, like a family member passing away or major illness touching the family, but there are also the 'little' griefs that rock your boat. Like the dog dying. If there is 'slack' in your program, like slow days planned into each week and a catch up week for the term, it is much easier to relax about having a few days of doona therapy where 'schooling' is a few read alouds and DVD's.

* Take a break. Now I don't have many family or friends who I can drop all four of my kids off with for the day. This pretty much only happens when I am going off to add another bundle! But, I can feed the kids fish and chips, on a quilt in front of the TV, then put them to bed early and they consider it a special treat. I can ask Papa Bear to watch everyone for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon while I take some time out to pray, meditate, journal or window shop on Etsy. I can even ask Papa Bear to take the two older ones away for the weekend which leaves me naptimes and evenings of complete quiet and solitude - something I need to heal. Get inventive, but there is a way. Even if it is to throw your apron over your head and refuse to come out for a while!

* Get Help. If you suspect you are suffering from depression (which I have dealt with more fully in my old blog here) this goes double! Help may be professional counseling, or it may be letting your husband, friend, mother, pick up the slack for you a bit.

So what about you? What have your experiences with grief and homeschooling been like? How do you homeschool in a minor key?

How do you remember that you WILL come out of the doldrums and one day, you will be in full sail again?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

mapping out our week


WHAT does your weekly plan look like?

Well for the visual among you click here and take a look. I created a table in Word (the program I'm used to and have easy access to). It has five columns titled day, read alouds, independent work, hands on work and other.

In the Day column I rather prosaically put the name of each day in each row.

In the Read Alouds column I put the books we will be reading that day with the page numbers if applicable, including scripture readings and things that Princess Doc will be reading to me.

In the Independent Work column I put any work that I will not have to directly supervise and instruct. Things that can be done at the table while I am washing dishes or doing some other task with just casual input from me. This includes copywork and math-u-see work that has already been explained.

The Hands On Work column is for any work that requires direct supervision and/or may make mess! This includes artwork and crafts.

The Other column is for other stuff that fits with our over all aims and goals but doesn't fit into any other column. This includes visits to the library and other excursions.

Because it is for my eyes only most of the time, I use a personal short hand that most people wouldn't be able to understand (for example, TBAS p20-30 is The Book Of Animal Stories pages 20 - 30).

Forty weeks worth are printed out and put into a ring binder which lays flat, a week to a spread.

WHY do you do a weekly plan when you have already got your Big Idea plans?

I have already blogged a bit about our BIG planning. That is, the planning that we do with the big picture in mind like our nature and science rotations etc. However, the weekly where-the-rubber-hits-the-road is what I wanted to talk about today. You see it is all very well to have these lovely big reading lists and lofty goals and aims, but you actually have to DO something to get these things DONE. If you know what I mean.

One needs to take into account the fact that there are four children and a pregnant Mama involved here. Yesterday, for example, there were three changes of pants for Tool Man, four molars cutting for Pigeon, Farm Boy desperately wanting to read a reader in spite of not being able to identify his letters, Princess Doc had a broken night due to a nightmare (therefore Mama Bear had a broken night), the boys played Tarzan with the curtains in the bedroom and destroyed them, the little ones didn't take their nap because Tool Man climbed in Pigeon's cot and played with her the whole time and we expected visitors in the evening. Our day just had to adjust. There is a rhythm and a logic to it all, but it is like abstract art - not everyone gets it at first glance! If I had to stop and rifle through all the big plans, it would soon get overwhelming.

The planner also meets our state requirements for attendance records.

HOW do you use this planning format?

Through the day we have a routine where specific tasks fit which dovetails with our weekly plan. Having the weekly planner laid out on the ironing board where I can see it means that if our routine is disrupted (as it often is) and I am occupied I can direct Princess Doc to an independent task. Because I tick the tasks off as we go I can see what is still to get done and at the end of the day evaluate what didn't get done that day. If something doesn't get done I mark it with either an X if I fell it is best to just scrap that activity or if I felt I was going to be able to get to it another day, I would put an arrow next to it to remind me to plan it in at a later stage.

I fill in our planned activities using my "big idea" plans each week, referring back to check if there are any pending arrows, factoring in expected events (like our once-a-month trip in to town to the library) and allowing one light day to catch up on school work or house work that has dropped behind or just to have a REST! A light day also gives room for spontaneity (is it still spontaneity if you plan for it?) because if something comes up on Monday, I know that any little arrows I put in can be taken up on our planned 'light' day (usually Wednesday).

When all the baby bears are schooling I plan to colour code. Grey pencil for things for all the family, pink for Princess Doc specific activities, Blue for Farm Boy, Red for Tool Man and Purple for Pigeon. Things that two or three are involved in will probably be written in grey pencil and underlined in the appropriate colours.

So where my "Big Idea" planning is like my Atlas, shows where I am in the world and where I want to go eventually, my weekly planning is like my itinerary and street map, it shows me what I am doing and where I want to go today.

I just pray that I use my Compass, the Bible and the Holy Spirit, Every day!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday Funny

We all face 'the comments' from well meaning people curious and/or judgemental about our choice to homeschool.

Once, I got offended.

Then I got defensive.

Then I got evangelical (no converts sorry to say).

Now I just shut up and let my kids be the proof of the pudding.

I don't need to defend or convert anymore.

But every now and then, on a cranky day, I feel like this:

Based on an article from here

But this, this is what is really in my heart now:

To the lady with the blue jacket and the disapproving tone.
I am glad you enjoyed sending your kids to school.
Your eyes look sad and I wonder how much joy you have had in your life.
I wish you'd enjoyed picking them up as much as you did dropping them off.

To the man with the football beenie and the concerned frown.
I am happy for you that you met your best friends at school.
It sounds like it was a very positive experience for you.
I hope my friends have good mates like you as they grow up.

To the lady with the purple hat and the laugh lines.
Thankyou, I think my children are lovely too!

Because the comments people make, are often not about me but about them.

Have a good weekend!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The creation of a routine

Our routine is in a constant state of evolution. Every time things start running smoothly, someone drops a nap or schoolwork needs change or we have a baby or I get pregnant and need more rest than usual... You get the picture!

I have gained a lot from peeking into the routine planning of other Mums - especially homeschool Mums - over the years and I thought I would walk you through ours - What! Why? HOW? style.

WHAT is a routine?

For me a routine is the habitual sequence of steps our day follows. In my mind a routine differs from a schedule as a schedule is more clock oriented, a routine is more goal oriented.

WHY plan a routine?

All human beings have a routine of some sort. There are times when our routine is to float around in the morning until we get so hungry we eat breakfast, do some school work, have some lunch mid-afternoon, fly around and do some housework, get distracted and do a craft before packing up just before Daddy gets home (or after), eat tea FAR to late and get to bed even later. Generally though, we try and be a little more deliberate than this! Sitting down and planning a routine means we can put our priority things in first (worship, naps, meals, cleaning) then plan extra FUN stuff around them and not have to feel guilty when we are doing extra fun stuff because we know the important stuff is done or will get done.

HOW do you plan a routine?

I open a document in WORD and make a table with a column for me and each of the kids and a column to show the time chunk.

I chunk our days into periods of time then list the things each member of the family do during those time chunks, starting with priority or time sensitive items such as naps, meals, worship, cleaning etc.

The reason I do time chunks rather than specific times is because I find chunks more flexible. It means I can stop and deal with our latest toilet training accident or to kiss and cuddle a hurt child without worrying about how it throws out our day too much. Follow this link to an example of our routine I have drawn this one up recently and have yet to work out the bugs. I will revisit this and 'tweak' it several times before I am happy with it. Then, I'll have a baby and we will begin all over again!

For more ideas in creating routines, try these websites:

FlyLady (Especially Here)

Large Family Mothering (especially Here and Here)

Large Family Logistics
While this lady has moved to a different blog now, this one is still a treasure trove of good advice!)

The Lockwood Family (especially Here and Here)

How about you? Do you have a routine? What does it look like? Do you have any tips or links to do with routines?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Product Review: Child-Size Masterpieces

I have had my eye on this product for a few years, since before the baby bears started coming along! I first came across it when I was training as a teacher at University. I hadn't seen the actual product, just read about it in my research into Montessori, classical and other styles of schooling. When I bought it, I almost did as an impulse buy, adding it to some other purchases I had already made with Adnil press. I have only been using it for about a fortnight and my kids LOVE it! The cards on the cover were meant to be used to put on the cover of folders to store the other cards in, but my three oldest each claimed one and have them hanging on the wall above their beds. They love sorting through the cards, looking at them, talking about them and painting or drawing pictures 'inspired' by them.

Princess Doc has developed a love of Renoir as her chosen picture is Renoir's "A Girl With a Watering Can". This is an excellent artist for her as so many of his paintings are beautiful images of families, children and domestic life I feel sure she will find many paintings of his to relate to and love. Farm Boy has found many pictures of animals to love (of course!) and has amazed me with his eye for detail as he examines the pictures so closely and picks out things that I missed quite often. Even Tool Man sits on my knee and participates in matching the pictures and talks excitedly about what he sees in them.

Even I have found something to love with this resource as it has reawakened my love of many paintings I have not thought about for years! It has been wonderful to share this with my children and it has injected our own experimenting with drawing and painting with even greater enthusiasm. Of course, it has also awakened a strong desire to travel to Canberra to see a post-impressionist exhibition next year, but I don't think our budget will stretch that far!

I love this resource because it is:

*Easy to use with little preparation and clean up once the cards are cut out.

*Adaptable and appealing to a wide age range.

*Accessible to all of us and brings fine art into our home without trivialising it or making it less than what it is.

*Able to be used in a number of ways to keep it fresh and interesting. As well as the ways mentioned in the instruction manual, I intend to use the prints as narrative and writing prompts for the children.

*A starting point to launch so much further. Because of Princess Doc's reaction to "A Girl in a Watering Can" ("Oh, I want to paint like Renoir Mummy!!) I am getting her some age appropriate books on Renoir and other artists from the library which she devours and she is drawing and painting daily at the moment.

*It can be built on. Not only are there others in the series, I can also purchase other art post cards when we visit art galleries and museums and add them to the collection, and easy way to tailor the collection to include Australian art.

So if you were umming and ahhing about purchasing this one for your homeschool, know that it gets thumbs up in this house!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

We struck out

Yes, it happens, I don't always get it right!

We have been planning to study birds in the first 'term' of this year. I had chosen Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day Young Explorer Series by J. K. Fulbright as our 'spine' text. I pre-read it and I thought that it MAY be a little above the kids but I was excited about it. Well, I learned a lot from it! Forgetting, of course, that it was actually the KIDS who were meant to be learning not me!

I read the first few pages today and it sailed completely over their heads. Their eyes glazed over as I talked about Latin names and taxonomy. They had nothing to contribute when I asked questions and asked no questions of their own. Honestly, they learned more about birds from our reading of the Ugly Duckling this morning!

It was an honest mistake. I got excited about the information and know it is stuff I would love them to know about, but forgot about THEM in the mix!

So the brain cogs start whirring. What do I want Erin (the boys are pretty much just along for the ride on this one) to know about this? How can I teach her effectively and light her spark for the subject matter without drowning her in dry 'facts'? Honestly, the best way I think Erin can learn about the basics of taxonomy and scientific names is by labeling sketches and pictures for her nature journal with common and Latin names. And that's it! In my passion for this subject I forgot the golden rule of teaching a five and a half year old: KISS! Keep It Simple Sweetheart!

So I am putting this book on my bedside table to read. I will probably mention things I find out about to the kids as we brush over each subject area and I daresay it will be getting some airplay when birds next come around in our Nature subject rotation. But for now, I'm going to leave my kids alone, let them look at bird books and peek through binoculars and do my own learning - leave them to do theirs!