Happy Homeschooling

It’s All About Perspective

Old barn on Kentucky Farm

Our old barn - the wood is so hard you can barely nail or screw anything into it, BUT that hard wood has kept it standing through storms and tornadoes through the years.

I used to love watching Monk. People would talk about how amazing it was that he noticed the tiniest things and he’d always say, “It’s a blessing AND a curse.”

I kind of had a revelation the other day as I was doing some writing. Over and over throughout the years, I’ve been told (in different ways) that I was too sensitive, that I take things too personally, or that I care about things too much.

Yet as I was writing, it occurred to me that my sensitivity was actually what often helps me to connect to other people. I tend to reach out to others who seem to need a friend. Or when I was working, I was good at putting the right people on the right tasks because I was sensitive to their strengths and how much they enjoyed certain tasks.

Yes, my sensitivity can be a downfall when it causes me to take things too personally or to focus on the things going wrong, but I read a great article called How Your Greatest Insecurities Reveal Your Deepest Gifts.

Over the years, I realized that the characteristics of my clients which I found most inspiring, most essentially them, were the ones which frequently caused them the most suffering.

Now, that author is specifically relating his Gift Theory to dating relationships. (It’s his specialty.) But I really saw how many of us stumble because we fail to see the gift behind what might be a challenge for us.

Or what about your child? We laugh that every one of my husband’s report cards said, “Talks too much,” but that talking is considered his strength as a salesman.

I remember going to one of Lisa Whelchel’s MomTime Conference years ago and she talked about how one of her kids was a REAL talker. He talked A LOT, even at inappropriate times, and could get himself into a lot of trouble even with the things he said. One night as she was discussing the latest incident with him, she told her son that she KNEW that God gave him his wit, humor, and gift of gab, yet that when God gives someone a strength, often times Satan will try to find ways to block it or make it into a bad thing. Basically, she was saying, I embrace who you are and this special quality about you, but you’re just going to use discernment so that you use your gift in good ways rather than bad ways.

That’s always stuck with me because I have three boys with the gift of gab and a strong sense of humor.

Carol Barnier also talks a lot a lot about looking for the gift in your child, whether it’s bouncy, bouncy energy or shyness. As parents we have to learn to focus on God’s vision of our children  . . . not the world’s. If you get on Carol’s Sizzle Bop email list, she’ll remind you of many great things about highly distractable people.

And do you remember the Beijing Olympics? Michael Phelps wowed everyone there with his swimming. He was like the poster-child for ADHD as a kid.  In an interview with Good Housekeeping, his mother, Deborah Phelps, described him as a kid:

He was always full of energy. He’d talk constantly, and ask questions nonstop. He also had trouble focusing in school, and his teachers said they couldn’t get him to interact during learning time. He was always pushing, nudging, shoving, and fidgeting. It was hard for him to listen unless it was something that really captivated his attention, so you can imagine what bedtime was like!

Then she describes how swimming became a great way to channel those qualities:

Swimmers have to develop good time management when they’re juggling school work and hours of practice. The pool itself helped Michael, too. ADHD children need parameters. There’s nothing better for that than two lane lines! Even if Michael’s mind was all over the place, he could focus on going up and down the pool. Plus, water itself has a calming, soothing effect. I think the pool became a safe haven where he could release his energy. But it’s not just swimming that helped Michael; it was finding his passion and channeling his energy in that direction.

If you find yourself struggling with some of your qualities or qualities in your children, why not pray and ask God to reframe those things for you? Ask HIM to give you His perspective and to see if those challenges might actually be gifts in disguise!



Ruth Beechick & the Schoolhouse Birthday Bash

 Homeschooling naturally is natural. Don’t work too hard at making it artificially schoolish. -Dr. Ruth Beechick

The Old Schoolhouse Birthday Bash Blog HopToday I am thrilled to share a few questions that I personally got to ask Ruth Beechick as part of the Schoolhouse Birthday Bash Blog Hop. Did you know that The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is officially 10 years old this year? Why yes it is! And they are having 10 days of celebration full of fun giveaways and interviews with the new Family of Columnists on the Homeschooling with Heart blog.  Plus you can download The Curiosity Files 9-pack bundle featuring Professor Ana Lyze as a free birthday gift!

Ruth Beechick, Debbie Strayer

Ruth Beechick & her dear friend, Debbie Strayer

Many of you probably already know Ruth from her It’s Just Common Sense column in The Homeschool Minute e-Newsletter with Debbie Strayer. Maybe you’ve read some of her articles in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine before.

Or maybe you’ve heard about her common sense approach to teaching children from some of your other homeschool friends. (That’s how I first heard about her!) I was stressing about not making progress with one of my boys on something and one of my friends loaned me The Three R’s Series. I felt such freedom after reading those little books. That’s probably where I began my journey as a relaxed homeschooler.

The Three R's by Ruth Beechick

These little books made our homeschool a MUCH happier place!

Ruth is already a regular columnist at The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, but you’ll get to read even more from her as TOS launches their new monthly interactive digital format starting in January 2012. (Woo hoo!)

Dr. Ruth Beechick, a retired educator, began writing for homeschoolers in their “early” days of the 1980s and has happily watched the movement grow. She sees these families as being the strongest part of our society. From her wide knowledge of teaching, she tries to give common sense help and to encourage parents to follow their intuition and not be slaves to published curricula. Her books are available at www.HomeschoolingBooks.com and from other suppliers.

You can learn more of her story from this 2006 Tribute to Dr. Ruth Beechick on the TOS website.

And books? She’s written a lot of them! She’s a fountain of knowledge. Here’s a basic list:

So, without further ado, I’ll get right to the interview. (But be sure to keep reading. I’ve got an extra giveaway at the end to share with y’all!)

Nancy: Are there any common mistakes that homeschooling parents make when teaching their children to write? How can we avoid those mistakes?

Ruth: The greatest homeschool mistake in teaching writing is to emphasize grammar. Knowledge of grammar does not improve writing. Researches over and over have confirmed this. Actually, children learn much grammar through daily conversation and reading. Grammar courses add some terms like noun and verb, but children already use nouns and verbs correctly, and other parts of speech, too. When a child writes something ungrammatical, just read it aloud and ask him if that’s the way it should sound. Usually he can correct it orally. Then he will be able to correct his writing.

Nancy: Is there a certain age at which you recommend that children learn to read? If not, how can homeschooling parents decide when their children are ready for reading?

Ruth: People wonder when to begin teaching their children to read. But they usually have already begun when they read picture books or other books aloud. Through this reading, the children learn that books tell things, that words are in books. They begin to learn some of the words and letter sounds. “This word that begins with J is Jesus.”  “This word is table. It begins with T like your name Tom.” Consonants help reading more than vowels do. Try reading these lines of consonants and vowels.
Lttl Mss Mufft
St n  tfft
E  e  u  e
Lng  cm  spdr
Nd st dwn bsd r
A i  i u a a

On familiar books, you pause now and then for a child to fill in the next word or phrase. Is this reading? You could call it beginning reading. This is tutoring, the powerful method that homeschoolers use. It is individualized. You teach on-the-spot, or the many-spot teaching that happens naturally.

Sometimes children memorize whole books and can read them to you. Sometimes they read parts. For this, it is best to use real books, not the committee-written textbook readers. Real books are more interesting for the children. They help them grow a large vocabulary, as they are not limited to “grade-level” words as textbooks are.

Nancy: Do you think preschool-aged children should do “formal” school work in order to be ready for kindergarten?

Ruth: How do you help children be ready for kindergarten? This question need not worry homeschoolers. Since you always tutor at the child’s current level, you need not be concerned about schoolish terms like kindergartens or any grades. And your tutoring and parental attention usually bring high levels of learning. It is the main reason that homeschoolers do better than classroom children.

Nancy: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Ruth, and thanks for joining our new TOS Family of Columnists. I really look forward to reading even more of your encouraging words.

Now, are the rest of y’all ready for the big giveaway?

It’s Giveaway Time! (imagine party horns blowing and confetti flying)

Today, we’re giving away two great gifts from TOS. One winner will receive a one-year digital subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, and a second winner will receive a digital copy of the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner.

One-Year Digital Subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

What do you look for as you homeschool? Motivation? A little encouragement? Perhaps a unit study? Maybe an art activity? Within each issue of The Old Schoolhouse® you’ll find amazing resources, candid interviews with business owners, glimpses into the routines of other homeschools, articles from the experts in homeschooling, as well as up-and-coming innovators helping our days run a little more smoothly. Find them all in our pages along with their insight, expertise, and honesty as we all homeschool together!

Along with your subscription, you’ll receive free access to Teacher’s Toolbox, our exclusive, subscribers-only website packed with daily recipes, “This Day in History” lessons, printables, unit studies, and more!

E-Book: The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner

Jump into a great year with The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner! Erase the frazzled feel of disorganization with the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner and bring order and efficiency to your school year. Packed with relevant articles, clever calendars, useful forms, handy lists and so much more, this planner is the key to meeting your many goals for the 2011-12 school year. We put our heart into the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner so you’ll have more time to put your heart into your home. Click here to view sample pages from the Planner.

To enter, just a leave a comment here by midnight Thursday, October 6, 2011! Winners will be randomly selected from the comments and will be notified via email on October 7th. You can get an additional entry for sharing this post via Facebook, email, or Twitter (handy buttons at the bottom of this entry), or for subscribing to my blog via email (top right corner). Just leave me an extra comment for each of those that you do, m’kay?

Rules: Must be 18 or older to enter and provide a valid email address. TOS employees, contractors, product reviewers, and Crew members are not eligible to enter.

The Homeschool Minute Hits Radio

A few weeks ago Gena shared with me that the American Family Radio wanted to begin airing some 1 minute Homeschool Minute encouragement for their listeners. We were all ecstatic and many on staff quickly began writing brief little practical tips and words of encouragement. Brief being the keyword. Like 40 seconds brief. I can barely say, “Hello” in that amount of time.

Anyway, Gena prayed, practiced her best radio voice, and went for a recording session. Want to hear how they turned out?

Find more encouragement like this on The Homeschool Channel

I feel like a proud parent, y’all. I think these sound wonderful and will be a blessing to homeschoolers who just happen to be listening or for people who might even just be considering homeschooling.

I don’t know what time of day they air, but they are going to put the recordings on bottom of the front page of The Homeschool Channel after they air each one, so you can listen to them there. Or I’m wondering if this little embedded player on my blog is going to update as they add new ones. We’ll see I guess.

Just wanted to share the exciting news!


Wanna help a mom out?

After going through such a battle with my health and the fog that surrounded it, I’ve recently been trying to get a grasp on things again financially.

My parents were great role models financially. They were always financially conservative, don’t buy anything unless you can pay cash kind of folks. Tony’s folks were the same way.

Before Tony and I were married we went through pre-marital counseling where we discussed financial issues, objectives, and the envelope system. We had a pretty good grasp on things.

But life throws curve balls sometimes, and we’ve made our fair share of mistakes.

I’ve read Financial Peace and the Total Money Makeover. We understand the concepts, it’s just that life throws you curve balls. The emergency savings account gets wiped out with car repairs. You begin to need prescriptions that not only cancel out your savings, but start putting you into the red. You pay for lots of doctor visits in hopes of getting well. The bills begin to stack up. Now, you can’t even work because you’re barely even coping. Husband already has a second job. The car that you paid to fix, broke again and you couldn’t afford to fix it so you just sold it.

Dave Ramsey would say, “You don’t have a spending problem, you have an income problem.” But hearing that isn’t much help right now. I know his tips on selling things, bartering, etc… But I’m a little jaded to his tone of voice. Sometimes life throws you curve balls and his pat answers aren’t much help.

Through our struggles, what has helped most is understanding friends. Friends who have been there, done that, and gotten the t-shirt. They offer suggestions without condemnation or pressure. They are faithful to pray for us and love us through the hard times.

I know my boys have learned a lot as we’ve gone through this season.

However, I’ve been thinking that I’d like the boys to learn some financial advice from more than just the School of Hard Knocks.

Are any of you using a financial curriculum with your kids? I’d love to know which one and if you’ve been happy with it.

I know that Dave Ramsey has a high school curriculum called Foundations in Personal Finance. Of course, I have to laugh that it’s $99.99.  Oh wait, that’s why Dave doesn’t have an income problem. He sells his stuff to people who have income or spending problems, but are trying to do better. (slight note of sarcasm here)

Then I’m familiar with Crown Financial Ministries. I think they were the program with the envelope system our counselor used with us in premarital counseling, and I think we’ve gone through one of their courses at a church before. Always seemed like very sound advice without the flash and attitude of Dave’s program.  However I’m having a harder time finding what I’m looking for on their website. They have a college level program, which would be a whole whopping $40. (Take that, Dave!) They also have The Secret of Handling Money God’s Way designed for ages 8-12, which again would be an affordable $24. (That makes me much happier than $99.)

So, I’m still undecided about which program would be best and am wondering if there are some others out there that I should consider.

Help me out. Let me know what you think.


Win a Talking Microscope!

I’m going through a season of cleaning out curriculum that the boys won’t be using again. It’s kind of hard. I *love* those early years of teaching ABC’s and 123’s. I look back through the curriculum and remember doing the different things with each boy and trust me, now that they are getting older, even those tough times of thinking that they’d *never* learn to read or that people thought that I wasn’t even *trying* to teach them to have nice handwriting, are fond memories now.

If you’re not to that place yet, I’m just letting you know: It all works out.

Anyway, as I was digging through things, I kept coming across old cards that went to our GeoSafari game. Remember those?

Classic GeoSafari Game from the 90'sI found this one for sale on Ebay. Even though I keep finding cards, I haven’t found the actual machine thingie yet. I think it’s even older than my boys because I bought it when I was student teaching Kindergarten and then just kept buying cards here and there as my boys got older. sigh . . . We loved that thing.

Anyway now GeoSafari has something new and exciting, an electronic talking microscope!

Enter to win an Electronic Microscope!Doesn’t that look like a TON of fun?! Head on over to Confessions of a Homeschooler for your chance to win! I bet you’ll make many wonderful memories with it too.