Homeschoolers: Get Your Kids Ready for Real Life From Real Life

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As homeschoolers, our main goal should be to get our kids ready for real life. That is the goal of education of any sort: Preparing students to succeed in life. Our definitions of success may vary, and that is something that some of us may still need to determine.

I define success as: having a vibrant personal relationship with God; having good relationships within your family and with others; basically doing what God put you here to do – fulfilling God’s purpose and calling for your life; and being able to provide for yourself and your family, preferably through doing something that you enjoy.

Your definition may be different, but these basic ideals are the foundation for the way I have chosen to build my homeschool and family life. It’s a good idea for us to think through these issues and decide what is most important to us and how we can aim toward these priorities as we plan and live out our homeschool days and daily lives in general.

Relationship with God

To me, this is the most important goal for keeping my children at home to learn and grow and develop. I know that, ultimately, they will choose whether to follow God or not, but I intend to give them every opportunity and incentive to get to know God for themselves and develop a close, intimate relationship with Him.

There are some things we can do as parents to lead our children to Jesus. One is to consecrate our children and turn their education and training and discipline over to His leadership and control. We need to realize that they are God’s children and He has given us the privilege of loving them and guiding them through their lives, according to His will and direction for them.

As such, we should pray about everything that concerns them. He is their Father, and some day He will be the One they obey and get direction and instruction from, with just friendly advice from us. We should teach them the Word of God, speak His words of life over them, and teach them the two Greatest Commandments: to love God and love our neighbors. We should teach them to listen for what God is saying to them. We should model for them how to put God first in all things. We should pray together as a family. And we should ask our kids what God is saying to them and share with them what He is speaking to us about. We can teach them how to pray effectively.

We should teach them the Bible and biblical principles that we need to live a godly life. Encourage them to pray on their own and develop their own relationship with God. Teach and model for them praying for their own needs and needs of others.

And teach them to praise and worship God. Show them that it is possible to get to know God.

A book I’m reading right now is helping our older children get closer to God. It is called “Translating God” and is written by Shawn Bolz.

Relationship skills should be an important part of our “curriculum”.

Teach your children to:

Do everything out of love. Protect the connection between yourself and the other person. Choose to walk in love toward that person no matter what. A great tip I learned from Danny Silk is: “Without the foundation of unconditional love and acceptance in a relationship, we simply cannot be free to be ourselves. It’s only when we remove the option of distance and disconnection from our relationships that we create a safe space to be ourselves. We cast out fear, inviting each other to bring our best selves forward.” This is from his book, “Keep Your Love On”.

Build good relationships. A very important skill that we all need to have in life, for the sake of our family life, our job success, our level of contentment in life and many of our interactions with others is our ability to build good relationships.

Always forgive. It never does any good to hold things against another person. If you hold unforgiveness, you keep thinking about it, you develop negative feelings and bitterness, you are miserable, and the person who offended you is not affected or hurt at all! It is worthless and futile to think that you are accomplishing anything by holding unforgiveness against someone. So don’t do it. Teach this to your children.

Repent quickly. Humble yourself to admit when you have done something wrong. Tell the person you have wronged that you are sorry. Resolve not to do it again. And make it a point to try really hard to restrain yourself from ever doing it again.

Teach them to communicate. Clarity is essential. Cloudy, unclear communication or lack of communication leads to lots of misunderstandings and lots of problems. It is my job to communicate clearly to you. It is not the job of the listener to try to figure out what I’m thinking or feeling or saying. And the goal of communication is to make sure that my listener understands what I’m saying or feeling, not to convince or force them to see things my way. In everything we do, we should convey love – not control, manipulation or trying to get our own needs met. We need to do whatever it takes to protect the connection between ourselves and those that we live with and encounter along life’s path.

Establish good boundaries. This is something that I think many of us struggle with. The book, Keep Your Love On, specifically chapter 9, spells out so clearly how we should set good boundaries. In how we spend our time and how we communicate, it all comes down to taking care of ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t take good care of anyone else. When experiencing conflict with another person, the way to keep it from deteriorating into something toxic is to say to them, “I’ll be glad to have this conversation as long as it stays respectful.” And then make sure that you follow through with it. If the person you have conflict with becomes abusive in any way, in language or actions, walk away from him.

I read “Keep Your Love On” by Danny Silk, and it helped me so much in many of my relationships and my satisfaction with the way I deal with other people, that I can’t recommend it highly enough. I think we should read it aloud to our children when they get old enough to really understand and process these concepts. And all through their training years, we should model and talk about the principles laid out in this book.

Have a Mindset of “We are Building a Strong Family”

In all of your plans and activities, one of the primary goals should be to build a strong family. If our children have a strong sense of belonging and security, they are far less likely to go looking for love, affection or comfort from the wrong sources like immature friends who are seeking a family and have no foundation or anchor of morality.

One way to do this is to develop a family mission statement. I have written about this Family Mission Statement.

We should do things that make good memories with our children. And we should do things within our family in such a way that we build a strong family identity – like this is what the Douglas family does – and a family culture based on good practices like reading aloud every day. Or something that your family enjoys doing together that encourages interaction and communication with each other.

Family vacations and trips would be good, too, if you can afford such things, as long as good relationship skills are practiced during these times together.

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

And now I invite you to think with me about basic skills. Basic skills are the building blocks of all of the learning that happens later on. We must teach our children how to read and write and do arithmetic. Many of these skills can be taught and reinforced through workbooks, real life activities, games, and for those who have learning differences, we may have to use specialized tools and techniques. Charlotte Mason methods of narration, dictation, and copywork are some of my favorite ways to teach reading and writing. And real life math using cooking and grocery shopping give meaning to the numbers and concepts we are trying to teach our kids. Many children naturally learn many skills because of things they want to do themselves, such as make a list of things they want for Christmas or a letter they want to write to a friend or relative, or a video game they want to play that involves reading or some kind of math. So real life can help them learn basic skills, and many times that kind of learning sticks better than what they learn from a workbook. And has direct application to real life occupations they will choose later on.

After our children have learned the basic skills until they are automatic (mastered), we can let them move on to bigger and better things like science, history, geography, government, finances, economics, world affairs, current events, advanced math, multiple sciences, worldviews, psychology, philosophy, arts, and more. From this point on, I think we should let them help decide what they want to learn more about. I believe that we should pray with them about what their God-given gifts, talents and interests are. We should choose books and subjects with an eye toward preparing them for the future that God has for them. And I think it’s important to take into account their learning styles and the ways that they are smart.

All along the way, we should spread a feast for them of living books, paintings and art, music, and exposure to great artists, composers, and authors. We feed their souls by letting them feed on great ideas and by letting them interact mind to mind with great thinkers and authors throughout the centuries by reading the Classics with them.

We should also let them specialize in subjects that they have more interest in. We should encourage them to dig deeper into subjects that excite and inspire them. We should provide resources for them to study and activities that we can afford to provide for them.

There is more I would like to cover, but this post has gotten longer than I intended when I started writing. I will continue to write about this topic in a future post. Future being the operative word here. Our kids’ future is important, and we need to keep it in mind as we educate and prepare them for what lies ahead. Let’s make sure we don’t get bogged down by details of how old they are when they learn to read or whether they do things according to our plans or expectations or in a way that is convenient to us, and really take care of the biggest needs of our children. The needs of their hearts and skills they need to do life well.

Fun and Educational Thanksgiving Books Plus Bonus Printables, Videos and Other Activities

 

I found these neat Thanksgiving printables at The Crafty Classroom.

I printed them out and can’t wait to use them this Thursday for our Thanksgiving table. It would be good to laminate them, but my laminator is still in a box. I’m going to tape the place mats to our old place mats that are shaped like turkeys.

The place cards have a conversation starting question or task for them to do, such as “Tell a silly story about yourself.” or “What are you thankful for?”.

We are getting pretty excited about Thanksgiving around here.

We have read “‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving”.

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

It was really funny. We all enjoyed it.

We also read “Thanksgiving at the Tappletons”.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons

It was also really funny.

Some other good books to read in the days leading up to Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving Day at Our House Kelsey’s favorite. She reads this to the younger kids every Thanksgiving.

Thelonius Turkey Lives Kelsey likes this story and the recipe at the end for Sweet Potato Casserole. There’s another recipe in it, too, for Thelonius’ Feather Cookies.

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh – enough information to be interesting, story about the Hopkins family, but easy enough for younger readers to read. This is a chapter book and covers the main topics of the Pilgrims, Indians and the First Thanksgiving.

Pete the Cat and the First Thanksgiving This is a lift-the-flap book. I haven’t actually read it yet, but I like Pete the Cat’s other books, so I assume I will like this one, too.

The Story of the Pilgrims Introduction to the story for younger children.

If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 Informative, makes kids think about what it must have been like to be a Pilgrim.

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks Helps younger children understand why celebrate Thanksgiving – so we can give thanks! To God, for those of us who believe in Him. And to have a thankful attitude, in general.

The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving Good for ages 4-8, tells what it was like for Pilgrims in terms children can relate to, but describes hardships in a way they can handle.

Squanto’s Journey – lots of information about the details of Squanto’s life.

Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl – uses actual photographs of a 10 year old girl in period dress who reenacts Pilgrim life at reconstructed Plimoth Plantation.

Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy Same format as Sarah Morton’s Day, but for boys!

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas – well-researched, historically accurate.

Another fun book to read is A Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. The price for this at Amazon is ridiculous. I would get it at the library if it’s available. There are no copies available in our library system here. It is a very popular book. Here’s a summary of the story:

“Every year Grandmother invited a guest for Thanksgiving dinner and allowed Maggie to do the same. “Ask someone poor or lonely,” she always said. Thanksgiving was Grandmother’s favorite day of the year. The cooking was done and her famous cranberry bread was cooling on a wooden board. But she wasn’t happy to find out Maggie had invited the unsavory Mr. Whiskers to dinner. Would her secret cranberry bread recipe be safe with him in the house? After a long absence this delightful 1971 classic is back. So is Grandmother’s secret recipe!” The recipe is included at the end of the book.

Here is a fun way to learn more about Thanksgiving. A project pack from Hands of a Child for only $3.00. I recommend the lapbook ebook download or the Note Pack, which is like a lapbook but made to just put in a notebook instead of cutting little booklets. Students write information which is provided in the research guide.

Thanksgiving Curriculum from Hands of a Child

And no Thanksgiving celebration would be complete without A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

http://youtu.be/VayAyAr-xqI

This cupcake idea would be fun to do to go along with the movie. This idea is on my Pinterest page and comes from here.

And here’s the story of the First Thanksgiving told by the Peanuts gang. Click on the YouTube button so it will go automatically from one clip to the next.

http://youtu.be/8xlY4B0y_Pg?list=PLbmsjgfVXtPQRB8kgTkQeMUV3c8BXfiqS

Planting Wildflowers

I would love to go see this field of wildflowers!

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These are pictures of wildflowers that we have discovered here in Texas. The state of Texas lets wildflowers grow. They don’t mow along several highways and roadways, so you get to see wildflowers in the spring as you drive along, and I personally find it quite refreshing.

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I just did a little research and found out that it is not really illegal to pick Texas Blue Bonnets, but they do stress that trespassing is illegal, so you better make sure you are not on private property if you stop to pick some and take your annual kids-in-the-bluebonnets photo. You are also not supposed to dig them up for transplanting. And you are supposed to be careful not to block traffic or do anything dangerous in your endeavor to get next to the coveted state flowers.

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Blanket Flower

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Years ago, I looked at pictures of flowers that grow in Texas and saw Blanket Flowers and thought they were so pretty that I decided that I wanted to grow them some day. Then one day a couple months ago, Shawn came back from a walk and brought me some flowers that he picked. They happened to be Blanket Flowers, growing wild!

These flowers are growing wild in our backyard.

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These are Evening Primroses.

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Yesterday we did a little unit study, based on two books by Tomie DaPaola, The Legend of the Bluebonnet and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. We just happened to have a packet of wildflower seeds, so I gathered the kids together and read the books to them, then we went outside and planted our wildflower seeds.

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The kids planted seeds.

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They watered the seeds.

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We got the seeds in the mail from a local hospital and saved them for now.

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These are the books by Tomie DaPaola. I read them to the kids as part of our unit study. These legends are part of the history of Texas. So we were able to study some Botany and History through the same lesson.

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Indian Paint Brush

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Texas Blue Bonnet

If You’re Not Sick of Snow Yet

I know a lot of the country has had lots of snow recently. But you still might want to do a unit study about snow.

We haven’t had any here in Houston, Texas. But we had snow in our living room throughout the Christmas season!

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I made most of those snowflakes! Fiona made a few of them. She had made some last year, so we used some of them, too, in our snowflake display.

I wrote a post two years ago about making snowflakes. It was the first time I had ever made intricate, lacy snowflakes, and I was so proud of myself. That post is right here. It includes lots of helpful tips for making beautiful snowflakes, including video tutorials. It also provides titles of many books for further study about snowflakes.

Now I hope you’re not sick of snowflakes or snow, because I have some other neat ideas to share with you that involve snow.

On a blog called Blog Me Mom, I have gotten some great ideas for sensory bins and fantasy worlds.

She has a Fantasy Winter World that I think looks like a lot of fun. It involves fake snow, which I haven’t been able to get yet. I might order it soon and make this fantasy world for my little girls. They already have several of the My Little Ponies, so we should be able to make it pretty easily. The children of the blogger made pine trees out of party hats. It looks like the children will have fun with this fantasy world.

This post is about making a cute magnetic snowman.

Here’s another cute snowman activity that we actually did. It was Emma’s first effort with pastels. She had to wait until she turned 7 years old to use pastels, so on her birthday she got to use pastels. And this is the project she did. A snowman painting a snowman!

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You can find the post with the tutorial right here at Hodge Podge Mom.

And don’t forget to study snowflakes with Snowflake Bentley! I have checked out the book about Snowflake Bentley from the library and will read it in the next few days.

If you want to buy it, you can get it at Amazon.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to talk about how there are no two snowflakes that are just alike, and God has made each of us unique in the same way. It really is a wonderful thing to think about how special each of us is, and how much care and thought God puts into us as He creates us.

There are lots of winter lapbooks and resources here at Homeschool Share.

Carisa at 1+1+1=1 has lots of great winter activities here and here.

Enchanted Learning has some great study tools and crafts for learning more about snow here.

I hope you enjoy this winter unit study. Do what you want from it, or do everything! Especially if you live here in the South and haven’t had any real snow, your children can experience a little bit of the winter fun that the rest of the children in the country have had plenty of this year. At least in their imaginary play. Without getting all the hats, gloves and boots out and having all of the snow tracked in the house.

Can I tell you a little secret? I don’t miss the snow at all! I’m very happy to live here where it doesn’t get so frigid. But I still like the snowflakes and snowmen. They’re some of my favorite decorations for Christmas!

I do miss ice skating on our frozen pond in Ohio. Now that was fun!

The Tale of Peter Rabbit Unit Study

In the same vein as living books, here is a “living” video. This is a presentation of Peter Rabbit as you have never seen it before. At least I had never seen such an enchanting version of it before!

In this video we learn some background of Beatrix Potter and the reason she wrote Peter Rabbit. We even see her pet rabbit who was the inspiration of this famous story. Then the stories of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny are told through excellent animation and voice talent and sound effects.

If you would like to extend this lesson you may follow up with a lapbook that you can get free from HomeschoolShare.com. You can get if for free here.

This lapbook includes lessons for Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Math. There is enough information included to complete the lapbook, but you can do more research and add more to it yourself.

To extend this lesson even further, you may want to watch this video of the “The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends Complete Tales Volumes 1 and 2”. You would probably prefer to watch one segment a day, as this presentation lasts almost 4 hours! There are nine stories, I think. Some of them I have read before, but several of them are new to me.

And here is a link to the official Peter Rabbit Website where you can find “The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit” and “The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Emma Thompson. But you will have to go to Amazon if you decide to order them, because the prices are marked in pounds on the website! You can find them on Amazon here if interested. Further Tale of Peter Rabbit