Monday, August 27, 2018

Little Kid Art Supplies

Rachel loves making art.  She loves drawing, painting, pastels, and more.  She has been doing some art lessons online and I have let her use some of my nicer art supplies.  

As we were getting ready for the new school year, I had her help me clean out the art closet.  She was excited to find some supplies that had gotten buried and forgotten about.  But she also turned her nose up at what she called, "little kid art supplies".


While I'm always happy to get rid of stuff on my de-cluttering mission, I found myself actually sad about giving away these particular items.  It was a sudden reminder that my babies are growing up and we are getting rid of our last Crayola crayons and big foam stamps.  As a parent you don't usually know until after the fact when will be the last time your child will ask you to push them on the swing or the last time they will want to sit in your lap while you read a book to them. This was just one of those moments that stuck with me as we got rid of those "little kid art supplies".

Savor the days.  

Friday, August 24, 2018

Foster Puppies

The kids have begged us for years to get a dog.  Stuart and I didn't want to have to deal with something else making messes and tearing things up so we've always brushed them off with "maybe someday".  But after some of the stress our family has been through this year, we started seeing it in a different way.  Maybe a dog wouldn't be so bad.  The kids are old enough to take care of it and if we wait much longer to get one then the kids will have moved out. 

So one day I saw a post on our community Facebook page with this picture.


The caption read, "Anyone want to foster 3 widdle bitty puppies? Any amount of time appreciated! Harry, Ron and Hermione are 7-8 weeks old and well socialized. Expenses provided."  I thought they were adorable and by fostering we could just temporarily try life with dogs and see if it was what we really wanted.  I asked some more questions and got a little bit of information about them.  No one knows about their dad.  Their mom is a 25 lb. Wheaton Terrier that looks just like Benji.  This is her.


We had a little discussion and we did realize that what we might go into as "just fostering" to see how we might like having dogs but it could end up with hearts too attached to get rid of them. The kids and I met with the lady in charge of the rescue group and brought the three puppies home.  She provided us with the crate, baby gate, towels, food, treats, toys.  It was going to be just a 2-3 week foster and in the mean time she would get the word out and try to find permanent homes for them when they were ready but we would get first claim on them if we wanted them.  

So starting with the white puppy, meet Harry, Hermoine, and Ron, creatively named for the three main characters in Harry Potter.  


We set up their area to be in the kitchen because, well, tile floors are easy to clean.  We put the crate in the hallway between the kitchen and the schoolroom to block them from getting out that way and then we put the baby gate up in the kitchen entrance at the living room.  I tried to get a picture of the kids with all three of them looking at the camera.  Ha!  They were constantly on the move so this is the best I could get!


Below is just one of many videos of their cuteness!


The kids were so delighted.  I felt bad that we hadn't gotten dogs before now because they have been begging us for years.  They had fun playing with the puppies.


Here's another video of Harry trying to play with a ball that is a bit too big for his mouth to hold!


And of course we had to take them in the backyard for more adventures.  They really enjoy wrestling with each other and biting toes.


They are just so cute!  Lots of playing and sleeping.  And lots of pee too!



Hermoine hugging Ron in her sleep.  The puppies had been diagnosed with mange and had received treatment.  They were safe to be around at this point but some of their fur was still thin and hadn't grown back in yet.

Monday, August 20, 2018

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn (Review)

Each summer I have my own list of summer reading.  The list includes some fun books but there are always several books that I include on my reading list to remind me of why we homeschool and to inspire me for the next step. These books are my way to recharge and renew for the next school year.  This summer I added God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco to my summer reading list and I have written a brief overview and review of it below.

God Schooling book
The book begins with Dispelling Myths in which Ms. Polanco discusses how the Bible supports natural learning, sometimes referred to as "unschooling".  Natural learning is guided and self-directed by the child based on his or her interests.  We as parents should lay out a feast before them and expose them to the wonders of the world then let them have input and choice in what they want to learn more about as well as how and when they learn it.  While I can't quite fully grasp letting my children have so much control over their education, I do love the idea of letting them have more freedom to take the rabbit trails to explore more about areas that they are particularly interested in.  We will still cover the boring necessities, whether they want to or not.  However, I want my children to have a passion for learning so I believe in giving them a lot of freedom to pursue those areas that excite them.

The author states that homeschool parents don't need to spend tons of money on fancy curriculum and plan out every moment of their child's education in an attempt to just imitate traditional school at home.  Although I understand the value in experiential learning through field trips, plays, and every day activities, I personally need the structure and ideas in our curriculums to help me stay accountable.  But I do not believe in being a slave to curriculum.  We choose curriculum with each child's particular learning styles in mind. I won't expect my children to fit into some cookie cutter curriculum because one size does not fit all.  Homeschooling offers so many more options than a traditional school and that allows it to be so much richer than traditional schools.  The freedom of homeschooling also allows time for parents to have more influence on their children's character development which I feel is just as important as academic development.  

The author states that we need to pray about our children's education and seek God to lay the path for them.  She says that unschooling "casts off grade levels, grades, tests, scope and sequence, records, scores, and all the other trappings of school that we have been brainwashed into believing are necessary.  God did not create schools.  He created families.  Jesus Christ did not teach His disciples by doing what the Romans did.  He taught them through His relationship with them and using stories and experiences that would capture their hearts." (p. 20)  I love this quote because it is such an important reason to homeschool.  As homeschool parents, we get to spend all day with our children, not only helping them learn but also influencing their growth into the amazing man or woman God has created each of them to be.    If they were in a traditional school all day for 5 days a week, we would not have that important influence in their lives.  They would be guided more by worldly-focus rather than Jesus-focus. 

Next the book covers Motivation and Excellence.  Ms. Polanco states that giving children rewards for doing good work is a hinderance for them because it encourages a external motivation for their behavior.  We want to instill intrinsic, internal motivation for children to want to learn and do well.  Children look up to their parents and want to be like them so as parents, we can inspire our children to excellence as well as how to persevere through difficulties through leading by example.

The remainder of the book is mostly about how to implement these concepts into your homeschool by age group which includes children under age eight, children age eight to twelve, and teens.  For children under age eight, I completely agree with Ms. Polanco when she states that children should be allowed a lot of time for active play. She cites research that shows that nerve growth in the brain which helps with executive decisions and emotions is enhanced through play.  But play does not mean playing video games.  I love this quote - "If the child has to physically build it, mold it, move it, provide the sounds, imagine it, create it, etc. then it is true play. Pressing buttons is not playing." (p. 56)  Too many people think that video games are an acceptable way for children to spend all of their free time.  I disagree. Young children need to learn through exploring their world and using their creativity and imagination.  I would add that playing outdoors and exploring nature is really the best form of play there is.  At this age, free time to play and explore is more important than desk work and learning math facts.

For children age eight to twelve, Ms. Polanco states that play and movement are still an important mode of learning but she also discusses the importance of serving others.  "Service builds character, selflessness, and better relationships between themselves and all whom they come in contact with.  They learn how to see needs in their community and strive to fill those needs.  They feel needed, useful, and gain empathy.  It helps them connect with others and learn more about themselves in the process." (p. 72)  In addition to service, children this age are able to do meaningful work and might be interested in pursuing entrepreneurship.  I wholly support this idea.  Many parents would say this age is too young to really do or make anything of any consequence.  However, I think children will rise to the level of expectation we set for them and many amazing things have been done and invented by children age twelve and under.  The author also goes into more detail about how her children naturally learned math, reading, and writing at this age.

The section on teens was very helpful as Nicholas is about to enter high school.  It talks about the stereotype of teens as being lazy and irresponsible.  Why does society still look at them as children?  "A teenager should be doing everything you do, including cooking, mowing the lawn, fixing things, and going on errands alone.  If you expect responsible behavior and set teens up for success, they are more likely to meet your expectations." (p. 101)  Ms. Polanco also points out that other countries around the world give teens the same responsibilities as adults but in America we seem to allow them to slip into a stage of idleness where they don't strive for much and therefore don't accomplish much.  It doesn't have to be this way. Teens can spend their time in productive ways that contribute to their community and help their family while building their skills and self-confidence.

The author talks about the importance of teens finding their identity so that they better understand what their true passion are.  "Time to think and explore is still vital.  How else will they find their passion?  A life stuffed full of classes and extracurricular leaves little room for inner discovery.  Pressuring teens to decide on a career when they may not even have a grip on who they really are often leads to false starts and wasted money later." (p.109)  Many teens feel anxiety and depression because they don't feel they have much direction or control in their own future. 

The book then goes on to discuss some creative ideas for paying for college, college alternatives, as well as how to prepare transcripts and record-keeping.

While I might not agree with the concept of 100% natural learning and bypassing those enticing curricula that look so promising, I did find this book to be a refreshing reminder of several of the reasons why we chose to homeschool our children.  It ultimately comes down to the freedom for our children to have the time to pursue their God-given interests, to develop a passion for learning, and to grow in their relationship with us and with Jesus.

For more information about the author, Julie Polanco, check out her website: http://www.juliepolancobooks.com/.  If you would like to read more reviews about God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn from other members of the Homeschool Review Crew, please click on the link below:
God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}

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