What’s the fuss about learning styles? – Day 4

Brain Trust,

Dear BT,

My kids are so different; do I need to find different ways to teach them?

Love,
Learning Styles in Lincoln


 

Doodle:

Dear Learning from Lincoln,

I have five kids and am continually amazed at their differences. They each have their specific quirks, twitches and cowlicks. Yep, they are unique and weird, and I love (or at least appreciate) most all of it. So, even though I don’t doubt that there are a Heinz 57 of learning styles, I frankly don’t have time to cater to them. So, I try to expend my energy on passion. As I look back to some of the learning experiences that most shaped me, I realize those teachers didn’t know my “learning style,” yet their passion and joy over the subject matter is what ignited and changed me. Of course, every lesson will not be a passionate one, but hopefully our “joy to learn” as we teach our children is transferred to them. My goal is to pass on a true sense of wonder and discovery about this world we live in, which, I believe, can reach every learning style.

Love Dood

Click here to read Bull’s thoughts from Monday!

Find Snow’s post from Tuesday here

Read Hyacinth’s words of encouragment from yesterday here

I’m too crabby to homeschool! – Day 4

Brain Trust,

I don’t think I have enough patience to homeschool….my kids drive me crazy, is this a problem?

Love,
Impatient Patty


 

Doodle:
Dear Patty,

Wow! The Brain Trust is knocking it out of the park. Bottom line: we live in a microwave, drive-thru, texting society (unless, of course, you live in a place like Southern Sudan…but, even there, cell towers are popping everywhere), and we don’t like to wait.

We want things, and we want them now. In the day of internet, information is ours within seconds. Downloaded music blares through your speakers instantly. Before your microwave popcorn is finished popping, you are underneath your snugglie watching your instantly-streamed movie.

How about children? We want them to obey instantly. We want them to be educated today. We want them to assimilate all of our instruction the first time through. We expect their character to be formed and tested yesterday. MBA and NFL scholarships tomorrow. We forget that things of substance take time. I find that I am the most impatient when my expectations are unrealistic or have somehow been disappointed. The work of training, educating, and loving our children is not completed in five minutes; it takes a lifetime. As you are building patience, you are building a legacy that will last and endure (long past your microwave popcorn).

Love,
Doodle

Click here to read Hyacinth’s encouraging words from Monday!

Find Bull’s post from Tuesday here

Read what Snow said yesterday here

I’m too crabby to homeschool! – Day 2

Brain Trust,

I don’t think I have enough patience to homeschool….my kids drive me crazy, is this a problem?

Love,
Impatient Patty


 

Bull:

Dear Crabby Patty,

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Patty: Every one’s kids drive them up the wall from time to time. It’s just as God planned it. Our children are reflections of us… the good, the bad, and the ugly. The fact that they drive you crazy is even more of a reason to home-school them! Roll up your sleeves, Patty, and get busy shaping the character of your little angels so that they don’t spend the rest of their lives driving the rest of us crazy. You can do it!

Bull

Click here to read Hyacinth’s encouraging words from yesterday!

Snow weighs in tomorrow, May 2nd…

Doodle wraps it up on Thursday, May 3rd…

I’m too crabby to homeschool! – Day 1

Brain Trust,

I don’t think I have enough patience to homeschool….my kids drive me crazy, is this a problem?

Love,
Impatient Patty


 

Hyacinth:

Dear Patty,

I often hear people say this very thing, and I think it’s because people put patience in the same category as eye color or foot size. Here’s the good news – it’s not part of your genetic code! That saying, “patience is a virtue” is true, and since it’s a virtue, it can be developed over time when we commit ourselves to it. Lord knows (does He ever) that I’m imperfectly patient, but I’m better than I used to be. A couple of thoughts have helped me:

1. In the whole scheme of life, how do I want my kids to remember me as their mom and teacher? Red-faced and screaming, snorting like a Pamploma bull? Umm, not so much. So, when I feel myself becoming furious that my fourteenth stab at explaining the greatest common factor is an exercise in futility, I will often just quit. Yep, I quit sometimes. But I do come back later. When I’ve had a chance to think, pray, and eat chocolate, I’ll often have a new trick in my bag o’tricks. Bottom line: keep a long-term perspective and consider that they’ll remember not just what you’ve taught them, but how you taught them.

2. Later, you’ll probably laugh about this catastrophe that is trying your patience, so why not laugh about it right now? Seriously – just move yourself forward in time – it sometimes works!

Peace be with you!
Hyacinth

Keep reading each day to hear from the other Braintrust members!

Bull shares her thoughts tomorrow, May 1st…

Hear from Snow on Wednesday, May 2nd…

Doodle will wrap it up on Thursday, May 3rd…

Hubby’s Role – Day 4

Brain Trust,

What is the role of your husband in your homeschool?

Love,
The Mrs.


 

Hyacinth:
John and guitar
Dear Mrs.,

I think the issue of husbands in homeschooling prompts a lot of “the grass is greener” sort of thinking. I’ve observed that moms with very involved husbands often wish their husbands would butt out, and moms with hands-off dads wish they could have more help. These poor guys can’t seem to make us happy!

Like many of you, I used to be a career girl, and I ultimately gave up my career because I didn’t feel like I could raise my kids well because my career consumed my time, energy, and creativity. Consequently, I try not to unfairly burden my husband with the same expectations that I wasn’t able to pull off myself. A division of labor seems to work well in our household: I try to shoulder the majority of the homeschooling so that he can focus on his demanding career. I’m grateful that his hard work funds our homeschooling life.

One word of caution, here (and I’m really lecturing myself on this point): don’t become so autonomous that your husband feels left out. Ask him for his opinions – he will have great insights into the personality dynamics and quirks of the family members, yet he may be reluctant to offer his opinion unless asked. Also, ask the kids to tell their dad what they are learning. Not only is the War of 1812 a scintillating dinner table discussion in its own right, it will keep Dad connected to your homeschooling lives – everyone wins!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Read Bull’s thoughts from Monday…

Click here to see what Snow said on Tuesday.

Read what Doodle said yesterday.

Hubby’s Role – Day 3

Brain Trust,

What is the role of your husband in your homeschool?

Love,
The Mrs.


 

Doodle:

Ford Boys
Dear Mrs.,

If Snow were my wife and the mother of my children, I would be on a very long Carribbean cruise. Snow, when can I drop off the kids? And Bull? What are your discounted rates?

Each homeschool family has their own personality and dynamics. I am inspired by them all. Really, is it not amazing that these men all over the nation trust their wives and themselves to educate their children? It really is a call and sense of something much greater than probably any of us realize. I could not homeschool without the encouragement and support of my husband. His conviction has kept me trudging forward. He has never once asked about curriculum or our scope and sequence. But, on the other side, I have friends whose husbands are very involved in all of those decisions. So, each family needs to find their groove, and relax, knowing that they will find their way. Here are some pointers to include hubby:

1. Communicate. When I am overloaded or feel overwhelmed, I have learned that it’s not my husband’s responsibility to right all of the wrongs. He is my husband, not my saviour. (That’s where good girlfriends come in handy). But on the other hand, I also have learned to wave the “white flag” when I need some reinforcement. My guy is the first one to come to my aid and bring encouragement. He is a great sounding board and sometimes just having someone who has a vested interest is all I need.

2. Decisions. With our homeschooling, I do the research and have basically figured out what I want to do regarding curriculums, but I work to include my husband before making a major decision. This helps. This helps a lot. Two are better than one. And when the going gets tough, you have the moral support of each other. You are a united force in front of your children. Even if you make a wrong decision, at least you are making it together.

3. Older kids. As my kids have entered middle school and high school years, my husband helps in math, science and editing papers. My logical reasoning: I was an Art Major. He studied Biology and Chemistry. A match made in heaven!

Bottom line: like marriage, there’s no “perfect” arrangement; every family just has to find their own path.

Love,
Doodle

Read Bull’s thoughts from Monday…

Click here to see what Snow said yesterday.

Stay tuned to hear from Hyacinth tomorrow, April 26th!

How do you people do it all? – Day 3

How do you people do it all? – Day 3

Brain Trust,

I need to know how veteran homeschool mamas do it all: schooling, groceries, house chores, keep order, and still have energy past 3pm? Help!

Needing a nap,
Tired


 

Snow:
Dear Tired,
This is one of the most common questions I have heard discussed among all my fellow homeschooling parents. We are all trying to continually improve our juggling act, and often, when we have hit a good stride, something happens to change it! Children enter a new stage of development, the dance schedule for the year is completely different than last year, the day your trash comes changes… you name it, it can change!The best thing I can suggest is to put some systems in place that help you manage and maintain a routine. You are now hearing a common theme from all of us… Your standard or ideal will need to be flexible depending on what you have going on academically, and in your “outside the house” schedule. Flexibility is probably the best advice any of us could give!I use some outside resources to help me stay on top of chores. My favorite is called “Motivated Moms.” You can pay for and download a daily schedule for chores. I love it because it rotates through every imaginable house maintenance chore from daily things, to things you never think about. I like that it’s laid out for me, that it is a “no brainer” thing for me. You can find that at www.motivatedmoms.com

The second thing I do is to include my kids in the effort. It is not only important training for their future, but it reinforces the truth that our little family community is in this together. It’s never a one against all thing! Every morning, we write out on our giant white board each of our tasks for the day. This includes morning chores, academic subjects, afternoon chores, & scheduled events. I actually put my list up there along with my girls’ lists. It always helps them to see what the rest of their “community” has going on.
I trained my girls in chores as soon as they could walk. There is something psychologically satisfying to them being a part of the larger effort, even if it is a small thing!

Grace and Peace,
Snow

Click here to read Hyacinth’s answer from Monday!

Here are Doodle’s thoughts from Yesterday!

Be sure to catch Bull tomorrow, Thursday, March 15th…

How do you people do it all? – Day 2

Brain Trust,

I need to know how veteran homeschool mamas do it all: schooling, groceries, house chores, keep order, and still have energy past 3pm? Help!

Needing a nap,
Tired


 

Doodle:
Dear Tired,

Well, Hyacinth, I wouldn’t say I run a well-oiled machine unless you consider an espresso maker a well-oiled machine. I have found myself wrestling with the same issues through the years. I wear rose-colored glasses, and even after 20 years of being a mom, I still hold onto the idea that I can get it all done. Believe me, I know how unrealistic this is, but the difference of 20 years is that I don’t beat myself when I fall short. A girl can dream, can’t she? So, Tired, here are some of my pointers in my attempt to get it all done (yet not burn out) and have more than enough time for the kids and hubby:

1. Expectations: These change with my seasons. There are seasons when I have limited my “out of my home” responsibilities to maintain sanity in my home. and there are seasons when I’ve added “out of my home” responsibilities to help me keep sanity in my home. We must know our season. I have lowered my expectations to only turn around in the next season and realize that I need to raise my expectations. It can be hard to discern your season, and for me, this is when I call on my husband or ask a close friend. For years and years, I didn’t sleep much because of nursing babies. Now that my kids are older and can dress, feed, and usually wipe their own bottoms and noses, I sleep at night. And I can do more.

2. Lists. I am highly motivated by lists. Yep, I’m one of those. I make lists so I can cross things off. I am a crazy romantic when it comes to lists, even though I rarely get it all done. Those undone items get bumped to the next day and I start over. Writing down my goals gets me moving and helps me clear the cobwebs. A list cries out to be conquered, and it’s funny how motivating this is for me.

3. Crockpot. We eat pretty clean and simply. But it’s incredible what a chicken roasting in a slow cooker or a bubbly crock of chili does to entice my family to gather at the dinner table. I see it reenergize their (my) weary soul(s). Create a weekly or monthly menu list that you’d like to try. A menu plan and ingredients in the fridge ultimately save me time and energy. Double your recipe and throw the other half in the freezer, and you get two for one. Voila!

4. Motivators. I do well with a goal in mind especially when there is a reward at the end. I find my kids do as well. I like family my family to get up and get their school work done. I give my kids incentives (note: I did not say bribes) to accomplish their work. One of our incentives is a mid-morning snack. The next incentive is lunch. (I hope this doesn’t create food issues later – always something to worry about, right?) The next motivator is free time. So at the start of the week we set a schedule, we work in music lessons, projects, library visits, play dates, field trips etc. I work hard to ignore my computer and the phone. My commitment and discipline is paramount. One of our consequences to not getting our stuff done is called homework. Homeschoolers hate homework.

5. Divide and Conquer. Train your children to do jobs around the house. Two-year olds are capable of picking toys and putting things away. Three-year olds can sort silverware and set the table. So and so on. Early on, I realized that my children could do more than I expected from them. Teaching and training takes a lot of time and work on the front end. My kids can help keep a house clean. I believe this is a fabulous opportunity to teach my kids to have a good work ethic. and one day it will pay off to make them great employees and future husbands and wives. And besides, I’ve got bonbons to eat. See point number six.

6. Bonbons. What refuels you? If Mama isn’t happy, nobody is happy. When I first started homeschooling, after about 3 months when the honeymoon was over, I realized that I was running out of steam. I was burned out. I began to feel sorry for myself… teaching the alphabet was wearing me out. I knew pretty quickly that my attitude was going to do some damage if I didn’t get refueled. So here’s my advice: Love life. Love yourself. Love your husband. Love beauty and don’t deny the things that fill you up. Grab coffee with a friend. Go shopping. Eat your bonbon. Exercise. Take a luxurious bath. Light the candles and put on the music. Turn off the computer and go to bed early. Read for fun. You are worth it. You a more than your nursing breasts! You are more than your lists of accomplishments, roles and duties. What fills your cup? Out of a full cup, we fill others. It is hard to pour out to your children and your husband when your cup is empty.

Thanks for the question, Tired!

Love,
Doodle

Click here to read Hyacinth’s thoughts from yesterday!

Hear from Snow tomorrow, March 14th…

Read a load of Bull on Thursday, March 15th…

Insecurity

Insecurity

Dear Brain Trust,

I feel insecure about what I might be missing… what others are doing – I’m worried that there might be huge gaps in our homeschool.

-Sweating in Oklahoma



Hyacinth:
There’s not a homeschooling mother alive who hasn’t shared your fears, I’m sure of it. For me, my insecurity in this arena manifested itself in obsessive curriculum buying. Any time I perceived a gap in my child’s education, I’d buy a curriculum to fill the need – as if. Bleh.

After a few years of homeschooling, these failures (in the very tangible form of un-cracked-open books) began to pile up. Literally. At some point, these incriminating stacks made me reassess what I was trying to accomplish. It finally dawned on me that it was simply not possible to learn everything in the world. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But I was setting goals (and buying curriculum) in a way that indicated that I thought we could learn it all.

Now that I have a few years under my belt, I’ve learned to do fewer things better. I select 4-5 major subjects/areas of emphasis, and I make sure we do those things every day. I carve them out as non-negotiable – we’re going to get those things done come hell or high water, come runny noses or overflowing toilets. And we’re going to do it with joy – or someone’s gonna get hurt :) . I also have a second tier of subjects that we get to with less regularity. We’ll either work on these subjects a couple of times a week, or occasionally, I’ll designate a week here or there to work on one of our second tier goals.

We can’t teach our children everything we want them to know; our world is simply too complex. More importantly, I now know, we can imprint them with a love of learning and a commitment to disciplined work habits. With that, they can soar! Eventually, without me! Yippee!

Doodle:
When I began to homeschool my five year old, I asked myself, “How hard can this be?” I was gullible enough to believe that kindergarten was a piece of cake. That self-talk got me through the first month, but the doubts began to emerge as I tried to keep up with our public/private schooled friends. In fact, when I compared my son with his buddies, we were falling behind. We found ourselves in this “hare and tortoise” race and we weren’t the hare.

My doubts quickly turned to fears. Where did I get this notion that this homeschool “gig” would work? Was I willing to use my boy as a guinea pig in this “experiment” knowing that it would be years before I knew the results? I was nervous and insecure. But, I had to make a decision: if I was going to do this, I couldn’t fail. There was too much at stake…so, I began to research, talk to experienced homeschool parents, read books and begin to develop my homeschooling philosophy.

The responsibility to educate our kids was important and I needed to educate myself. And most importantly, I had to stop comparing. Why was I doing this? Was it to produce genius-like kids or were there other reasons? Who were we to be as a family? What were our goals for our children? Did I want my children to be on grade level? Did I want them to go to college? What were my other measurements of success? What was my measuring standard? We were our kids’ parents, so who, more than us, would know more what our children needed? This wasn’t just education, this was life goals and missions. We came up with some simple ideas at first: we wanted our children to be decent, life-giving, lifetime learners and contributors to humanity. Then we began to cater and build an education that would produce that kind of human. This was our map. This was our measuring standard. And it continues to evolve. But we are highly encouraged that this is not just our plan, but God’s.

We have seen over and over, with God’s help and wisdom, we can do this! And yes, we have embraced our tortoise-side. We take our time, which cultivates an environment to learn. We work hard to enjoy the view and the people God has put around us. And we don’t compare! We are on our own course; the one God has marked for us. At any given point somebody could look in and say “that we aren’t measuring up.” I am no longer intimidated. My measuring stick has changed. And I feel like the ultimate winner.

Snow:
Our evil genius of comparison sure can throw us into a tizzy! It used to be comparing jean sizes with our friends… now it’s curriculum… Oh, how we’ve grown up! Regardless, it’s the same bad habit!

The truth is that it is an improbable goal to hope for NO GAPS!!!!! Everyone, no matter what their educational path, has gaps! For example, I am a terrible speller. Seriously, it’s embarrassing.

I must remind myself that the purpose is not to have a gap free education. The purpose, in a classical model, is to learn how to learn and love learning! Through the process of home educating my own children, I have become a life long learner. Now, my hope is to send them down that same path of life long learning.

With that said, I am not suggesting that I don’t have educational standards. Like Hyacinth, we have chosen a few subject as our everyday focus. We are relentless about those. The other subjects are icing on the cake.

I think it is critical to have people in your world who are a few steps ahead of you. I glean a great deal of wisdom and knowledge from people who have already done it! In turn, I hope to help those a few steps behind me.

Skeptical on Homeschooling

Skeptical on Homeschooling

Dear Brain Trust,

I’m considering homeschooling, and I know all the traditional reasons people homeschool……better education, better way to transmit your values, etc.  I’m still not sure it’s worth the sacrifice of my life, though.  What are some other benefits?  Convince me, Brain Trust!

Sincerely,
Skeptical


Doodle:
We live together. We eat three meals together.  We do school together.  We play together.  We go to Walmart together.  When you homeschool your kids, you have to work out their issues with each other on a daily basis…through thick and thin and ugly and uglier.  Each quirk, twitch, and nuisance is well known.  Homeschool kids can’t jump from one clique to another when they don’t like each other.  They are the clique. No escapees.  No avoiding the issues.  They are naturally forced to work out their issues everyday, which I believe makes great friends and wonderful human beings.

Hyacinth:
This might seem like a curse to some people, but I love that I get to feed my kids three square meals a day. My oldest child, now in college, was not homeschooled. Let’s see…how can I say this delicately…he was a fatty. Oddly, I’m not sure how the kid became a chunk. It seemed to me that we were eating healthily at home, but I think it just boiled down to the fact that he cozied up to vending machines when he was away from home. With my homeschooled kids, I can bend their little palates to my will. They actually like roasted eggplant and pomegranate brussel sprouts (thank you, Bobby Flay!). I put kefir in their smoothies. They endure capers in their tuna salad when I need a little culinary escapade. (Privacy notice: in the unlikely event that my college boy ever reads this post, I’d like to state that he is now no longer fat, though he still wouldn’t be caught dead in the company of a caper.)
Snow:
Capers??? Seriously??? I don’t know that I would hoot and holler over that benefit… but then again, I ate French fries dipped in a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise everyday for lunch in my public school cafeteria. My thighs lecture me every morning in regard to that decision! My mind is racing with all of the intangible benefits I have seen along this journey. It is hard to narrow them down. One of the most rewarding things has been the education I am receiving right alongside my kids. Although I attended a good high school and great colleges, I really just learned to take tests well and write essays. I am not certain how much I actually learned. Now, I am truly learning and loving it! My kids and I can interact and connect through all that we are learning. It is quite enjoyable, and, yes, a little nerdy!
Bull:
Dear Skeptical, don’t walk, don’t even casually jog, RUN! Do you hear me? Run like your very life depended on it. You see, once you start batting the idea of homeschooling around your cerebrum, you’re in trouble. That’s how it started for all of us. And while my dear friends of the Brain Trust are waxing poetically about the “so-called” benefits of homeschooling, there’s some things they aren’t telling you.

You all know Hyacinth from P-Dub’s previous posts…..she’s the one with the adorable haircut and precious apron, right? What is she doing in 99% of the posts? That’s right. She’s cooking. She loves to cook. She loves to cook weird things, things most normal people can’t pronounce. Things most normal people wouldn’t touch with their dinner date’s fork. I love Hyacinth. I really do. But, make no mistake; her primary reason for homeschooling is exactly as she says: “to bend their little palates to her will.” I suppose there are worse things those kids could be subjected to than 3 squares a day of Hy’s culinary concoctions.

Then sweet Doodle lists the excessive amount of time homeschoolers spend together as an unexpected benefit! I installed a deadbolt on my bathroom door about six months into this little science experiment we call homeschooling because after a while, the kids lose all sight of appropriate boundaries. They misinterpreted, “Mommy’s using the restroom” to mean, “Mommy’s trapped and would make a captive audience.” Back on topic, the fact that Doodle cites “going to Walmart together” as a positive thing speaks volumes about her state of mind. The “no escapees” comment is a little troubling, but I’ve never been one to judge others.

Snow is a breath of fresh air, isn’t she? I can vouch for her nerdiness and lack of education, but I’ve never seen her thighs. She obviously went to a better public school than I did, because our French fries were inedible. Besides, most kids stopped eating the cafeteria food after finding innumerable quantities of the lunch ladies’ hairs tucked into the entrée du jour. Those are some good memories. What was the original question again?

Insecurity