Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Children's Literature

One of my favorite classes in college was Children's Literature. The professor would actually read excerpts of good children's literature to us. I was always transformed back to being a little girl while I was listening to her read. It's a shame, but for the life of me I can't remember the professor's name although she was my favorite teacher in college. She exposed me to many children's books that I had not previously ever heard of and she taught me about what reading should be for elementary aged children - that it should be an enjoyable experience and not one of drudgery. She told us of a time when she taught in public schools and the school system she worked for bought new basal readers. She totally disagreed with the use of basal readers and didn't want to use them. The administration in her school told her that they spent a lot of money on these books and she must use them. Her solution was beautiful. She told the kids to take the basal readers out of their desks. Then she told them to stand up, place the books on their seats and sit down. She looked at her administrator and said, "There, now we are using the books."

Charlotte Mason advocates using whole, living books. Basal readers take one tiny excerpt from a book and ask a ton of questions at the end of the reading to "check for comprehension". This robs the child of the opportunity to have a relationship with the characters or to ruminate on what was read. Instead of asking a lot of quiz-like questions, CM suggests to have the child narrate to check for comprehension. When you ask questions, you are checking to see if the child caught what the teacher wants the child to get. Through narration, you find out so much more about what the child "comprehended" from the reading. Narration also opens the doors for further discussion. Can you see how this helps the literature to stick with the child so much longer? If you ask a bunch of specific questions, the child thinks, "Oh thank goodness that's over with. Now I can get on with my life." There is a risk that the child won't retain what was read.

To start narration, read a paragraph (or a chapter) and ask the child to tell the story back to you in his own words. Sometimes, I will take a history reading and ask my 11 year old to tell the story to her 4 year old brother. That works beautifully. It may be difficult at first, but after your kids get the hang of it, it can be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Roman Roads

A special project we did today involved making a Roman road. The Romans built roads over 2000 years ago that are still in existance today. I find that completely amazing. Compare that with the roads we drive on today in America.

As we work through the Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, we supplement with activities from other resources. Today we used an idea from Ancient Rome! Exploring the Culture, People & Ideas of this Powerful Empire. We first read about the roads the Romans built and then we made models. All 3 of my kids enjoyed this project - from the 11 year old to the 4 year old. Here are some pictures.

I thought the Playmobile Roman soldier was a nice final touch.
That's grass seed on the sides of the road, so the kids will be able to water it and watch the grass grow, too. My 9 year old asked if she could cut her grass when it got tall enough. The 11 year old wanted to know if she gets paid to cut her grass (like when she cuts the neighbor's yard.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricane Study

For anyone studying hurricanes this season, here is a very useful website that includes tracking maps you can print out and use.
Accuweather. com

Depending on which direction you go, the study of hurricanes can cover many subject areas in your portfolios. It doesn't have to be through a purchased unit study either. The internet and your local library are great resources to find the following information.

Geography - Tracking maps: find out in what parts of the world hurricanes form
History - Study the impact of some major hurricanes from the past and how areas recovered
Safety Ed - What people should do in the event a hurricane is headed their way; What the flags for tropical storms and hurricanes look like.
Civics - Study ways people volunteer in a hurricane aftermath. Perhaps find one volunteer or a group of volunteers and find out what they do in a day.
Reading - Check the daily paper for stories on the current hurricanes.

Don't feel like you have the time to do the research? Go to the library, find books on hurricanes and bring them home. Give your child a blank notebook with the above questions and let him go to it. You might need to set a time limit - tell him this needs to be done by the end of the week. You might be surprised at what he will produce.

I'm sure there are more subjects to be covered, please post them in my comments because I would love to hear your ideas.

NOTE: All of the above subjects were chosen based on Pennsylvania homeschool law.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Credit Suisse Bulletin

I didn't want to tell anyone about this until I actually read the article. I wanted to be sure that the article wasn't bashing homeschoolers.
Last January, I received a phone call from a reporter in New York. He explained who he was and said that the periodical that he writes for (a Swiss financial journal) is doing an education issue and he wanted to write a story on homeschooling. We set up a time for him to come and interview my family and me. He was a wonderful person. When he realized that we were Steelers fans, he told us about his interview he did with Ben Roethlisberger! I thought that was really cool.
Any time I get the opportunity, I try very hard to choose the right words when talking about homeschooling. I had a couple of weeks to prepare for this interview. In the end, it was a lot of fun. He interviewed 3 other families for this article and I think the facts are presented well and that homeschooling is put in a good light with the article.

Here is the link to the article:
Credit Suisse Bulletin Feb 2008

One of my favorite parts of the article is where my husband talks about the disadvantages of homeschooling.