Friday, February 5, 2010

What do you do when your child appears to be "Lazy" and "Unmotivated"?

Sweet, Caring, Others-Centered......, Lazy, Unmotivated, disorganized. All of these statements sum up one of my children. Isn't it funny how our strength's can also be our weaknesses? I cannot tell you how many times I've worried about my oldest son over the years.

Sure, I could tell you all of his strength's. He is a strong people person, he can interact with anyone no matter how old or young. He loves others, he loves his lord, he cares deeply for complete strangers and he would give you the shirt off his back. However, what you wouldn't hear me talk about where the fears that had swirled around in my head for years.

From the time this child started schooling he is the one that I'd have to wake up again and again to get out of bed. He'd forget to do his math and wouldn't even realize it till I would check his work at the end of the day and ask him. If I didn't wake him up he was my child that sleep until one in the afternoon. I would begin to worry about him as an adult. I knew he'd have no problem getting hired, but who would want to keep him if he couldn't get himself out of bed?

Last May at convention I heard Linda Werner speak and she encouraged homeschooling families to have our ourselves and our children take this scientifically based test to tell us our top five strength's. WOW! It was so eye opening. Imagine my surprise as I went through my sons results and saw that his #1 strength is ADAPTABILITY!

Adaptability- "You live in the moment. You don't see the future as a fixed destination. Instead, you see it as a place that you create out of the choices that you make right now. And so you discover your future one choice at a time. This doesn't mean that you don't have plans. You probably do. But this theme of Adaptability does enable you to respond willingly to the demands of the moment even if they pull you away from your plans. Unlike some, you don't resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours. You expect them. You are at heart a very flexible person who can stay productive when the demands of the work are pulling you in many different directions at once." (Taken From Strength Finder 2.0)

Let me tell you what I have seen happen in my child's life that confirms the above statement and takes away the fears I carried for years when he was younger!

He got a job working for a family friend who owns their own business. The rule was that he had to get himself up, make his lunch, do his school and chores, have a good attitude with his brothers. That first day I set my alarm to get him up and there he sat at the table already working on his math with a cup of coffee. He looked up with a big smile and a "Good Morning". I'm embarrassed to say that I was afraid it was a fluke because everything was new, but in the six months he worked for our friends business I never once had to get him up, make his lunch or had to tell him to do his school work.

What I found was that those who have a strong "Adaptability" theme tend to rise the the occassion when they see the purpose of it. He struggled getting up to do school each day because mom said it was the right thing to do, but he didn't see how it would benefit him because he struggles to see down the road and only looks at the moment. All those times my husband would tell him he'd better get more serious about math if he wanted to get into a good college never motivated him because college was too far away. However, when we said he'd better do math or he wouldn't get to go to youth group, that seemed to do the trick!

However, because of his adaptability he needs to understand the purpose of what he's doing, where he's going and why he's doing it. He is no longer working as he completes his senior year and we've found a system that works for us with his school work alone.

He and I sit down with our coffee and calendars and we look at his week. I want to tell you we do this each week because that is my goal, but sometimes it just doesn't happen that often. I find those things that he most wants to do and I allow his academic goes to revolve around those activities. If he wants to go to youth group or to hang out with his friends on Friday night then he needs to have so many math lessons, so many language arts lessons, so much reading, etc..,

As he is preparing for technical school and things are about to really heat up I plan to let him set his own goals and we will put them in both our calendars so I can now walk alongside him for accountability and encouragement. However, I will be shifting all of the responsibility to his plate!

If you have a child that appears to be lazy or unmotivated you NEED to help them manage that by putting a system in place that gives them accountability. However, don't waste time worrying about 10 years from now! Our kids will amaze us when it's time for them to fly. We can't imagine or fathom it when they are young and muddled in immaturity, but I promise if you faithfully and lovingly continue to help you children rise to your standards they will know how to do that for themselves as adults!

How about you? Anyone here have a child you suspect has the strong theme of Adaptability?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Don't Forget Dear Old Dad

In the overwhelming majority of homeschool families, the children's education is Mom's job. Of course there are some fathers who teach their children, but do dads whose wives are primarily responsible for educating the children play any role at all in the process?

We asked some homeschool dads to share what they do to support their children's home education. Here are the top five responses.

1. Most of the fathers surveyed mentioned financial considerations. All were the primary wage earners for their family, which allowed Mom to stay home and teach the children. One dad said he supported his wife's efforts by agreeing to buy additional curriculum without fully understanding the necessity of the purchase himself.

2. All of the dads considered themselves cheerleaders. They applauded their wive's efforts and took an interest in the kids' school work. One family had a sort of show-and-tell before dinner every evening, with the children sharing their favorite school projects with their father.

3. Several of the husbands were sensitive to their wife's need for an occasional break. One routinely takes the kids on an outing for a couple of hours on Saturday, so Mom gets a little time for herself. Several have instituted weekly date nights with their spouses.

4. A couple of the fathers were responsible for teaching one or more subjects themselves. One dad is a math whiz, so the children save this subject until after dinner, when their father is able to tutor them. Another has a special interest in science and has chosen to share his pet projects with his kids.

5. All of the dads mentioned the various ways they incorporate educational activities into daily interactions with their children. Bedtime stories, board games, sports, and field trips to support thematic unit studies are popular ways for fathers to enjoy spending time with their families.

What role does Dad play in your homeschool?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Quality Time Verses Quantity Time?

I don't know about you, but I feel as though I wake up, my feet hit the ground and I am going, going, going until I fall into bed at night. Life is WONDERFUL and I wouldn't change one single thing, but it's fast paced and goes by too quickly. Anyone else ever feel this way? (understanding smile) We blink and our children are all grown up. I don't want to miss one moment.

I remember a few years ago there was a big movement that had psychologists saying that "quality" was better than "quantity" time. As a mom of four children 1st through 12th grade I've come to find that they need BOTH!

I have found that it's easy to take for granted one or the other. Because I am home all the time I can pacify myself with the fact that my children get to be with my all the time. (Quantity Time) But then If all they see is the back of my head while I spend time on the computer what good is that? On the other hand, when I worked full time I remember scheduling a Chuckee Cheese date or park day (Quality Time) with the kids and after we'd get home I'd let them watch television while mom caught up on the laundry, chores and grocery shopping. It's so easy to lean one way or the other. However, I really want to get it right because what I do today is the memories they will have tomorrow.

I have to be very purposeful about my "Quality" time. It is so easy to take for granted my little ones gathered around during the day. If not careful I can let them do school and play with one another while I spend all my time on the phone or computer. Now there is nothing wrong with computer or phone time in balance, but in excess all they'll remember is the back of mama's head. I want to take time to sit and watch shows or play games with them.

Some tips I've found to make sure that I have "Balance" are:

1) Reading one chapter a day out of a good book with my kids snuggled up next to me.

2) Working one-on-one with one child while the others are working on their Time4learning lessons.

3) Doing a mini unit study on something we've learned from Time4Learning or a book we've read.

3- Sitting around the dinner table at night no matter how much easier it would be to sit around the t.v. or at a bar.

4- Picking one night a week for game night and another for a movie night.

5- Choosing one day to go to the park just as a family.

How about you? Do you tend to be stronger in Quality or Quantity time and what helps you find balance?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Let's Mix It Up!

Is any curriculum provider the total solution to all your homeschooling needs? Page through a few curriculum catalogs and you'll find that many of them imply they are!

I'm the kind of person who believes the laundry is cleaner when the detergent, bleach, and fabric softener are all the same brand. I love those skin care kits, with matching containers of cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. If I buy a Betty Crocker cake mix, my hand just naturally reaches for the Betty Crocker frosting.

It isn't surprising that my first curriculum purchase was a "complete curriculum package" from A Beka. I loved the student texts with matching teacher's manuals, the flashcards and math manipulatives, all laid out to make it "easy" for the teaching parent. The problem was, I didn't find it very easy! I realized a schedule that included separate texts for language, phonics, spelling, penmanship, and reading . . . every day . . . was not for me. Alas, A Beka wasn't working out for us, and I started looking at other options. The problem was, I really LIKED A Beka's lower level social studies.

And so began my quest for the perfect homeschool curriculum! I would get excited about one company's science lessons but turn up my nose at the way they presented phonics. I liked almost everything another program had to offer, but couldn't stomach the penmanship style. Frustrated, I decided to make what I considered a bold move. I would mix and match curriculum!

Fourteen years later, I realize I have lots of company. There's even a name for people like us: eclectic homeschoolers. We choose curriculum based on our student's needs, our own preferences, and, sometimes, just to try something different!

There's a dizzying array of choices out there, and sometimes I'm convinced I've tried them all. Here are our family's favorites. How do they compare with yours?

Five in a Row is a regular part of our curriculum, useful for teaching multiple children of various ages.

Considering God's Creation is a unique science program that each of my kids has used for one year.

My all-time favorite penmanship curriculum is Handwriting Without Tears. We like Draw, Write, Now for extra penmanship practice with a fun drawing lesson thrown in.

I believe nothing beats Time4Learning for phonics. An online program includes audio, which just makes sense when you're studying sounds!

In fact, Time4Learning is our curriculum of choice for all language arts. I can always find just what I need in either their core language lessons or the language arts extensions.

I love Math-U-See for focused study on a math concept that my student is struggling with. The pace is too slow to use it as an everyday curriculum for my own kids, but it has been great for remedial work.

I used to love Spelling Power, but it takes quite a bit of time when you have multiple children. These days, my kids practically study spelling on their own at SpellingCity.

La Clase Divertida is our choice for Spanish. Songs, chants, crafts, and cooking projects reinforce the language.

I make sure each of my children goes through the seventh grade social studies lessons at Time4Learning. It's an animated and efficient overview of American history.

I like Rod and Staff's plain little workbooks for second grade social studies, science, and health. They also have some easy-to-use and inexpensive Artpacs that my children enjoy.

And I still love A Beka's lower grade social studies!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Learning with Literature


When my boys were in the early elementary years, I had homeschooling fantasies of reading great books together from morning till night.  Hey, if I had been homeschooled as a kid, it’s what I would have liked! And although I quickly learned that boys aren’t going to put up with sitting cozied up on the couch together for 12 hours a day, I found that they still got a lot from our adventures in literature.

We began, where many homeschoolers do, with a jaunt through Five in a Row.  How can you go wrong with classic children’s books and activities that make them come alive?? After that, we experimented with Sonlight, and picked and chose our favorite parts of the curriculum to customize a learning plan for each child.

By the time they hit middle school, though, my boys were definitely feeling the lure of technology.  Those years of patiently putting up with mom and her book-addiction were over, and they wanted something they could interact with - - something multimedia – something less…well…bookish. 

When my youngest began his first year with Time4Learning™, I sadly shelved our collection of must-reads, and watched with dismay as the flashing lights and bright colors held him captive.  But not one week into this new curriculum, he hit upon his first assignment based on a book excerpt.  The assignment was called “My Brooklyn Grandmother”, and gave students insight into the life of Chinese Americans. He interacted with the reading, got his multimedia fix, and then can you guess what my son asked soon thereafter? 

That’s right…he wanted to read the REST of the book.  So off we went to the library in search of the full autobiography, “The Lost Garden” by Lawrence Yepp. 

I kept my Cheshire cat grin safely hidden behind the spine of our newly checked out book, and drove home, quickly - - anxious to get back to that couch again and start reading!

What about you?  How do you fit books and reading in with your current homeschool curriculum?