Golden Grasses

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Waiting on Spring, Now



Both Flower and Cub are reading, note-taking and costume gathering for their "Faces of History" paper and presentation. Flower had a last minute person change to Shirley Temple Black. She is mesmerized. Read one biographer who said something to the effect that like all youngest children she was doted on and spoiled. Flower (youngest of 5) counters with a comment that being the youngest is the best because you can learn from the mistakes of your older brothers and sisters and then she proceeds to pounce on Feeche sitting near-by and revel in the fact that she is a totally loved little sister.

Cub is doing George Washington, of course. 'Cause he has loved him since he was 3, and still does. I can get behind that superhero.

We are making the switch to MathUSee for Math. I am hoping this does the trick for certain super smart and not very math minded individuals. Math has been our nemesis on more than one occasion.

We have done 2 homeschooling groups this year (as we have in the past) and love both for what they are. Classical Conversations on Tuesdays. So wonderful on so many levels. Hard core memory work, Science Labs, Fine Arts, Presentations and Essentials: Grammar on steroids, Writing and Math Games. Our Thursday group this Spring has consisted of dissection (perch, crayfish, grasshopper, earthworm so far) led by a science minded Mom (thank-God for friends like that!), Poetry, the Grammar of, of course, and WaterColor with some cool field trips thrown in, tons of laughs and great snacks.

I've contracted for Classical Conversations Challenge A Director and our class for fall is half-full already! Can't wait to get started! Fantastic info meeting last night and more to come!

Feeche is back to work doing construction and classes and enjoying early mornings and working hard. He is like a human vacuum when he gets home!

Spring is on its way. We have tulips and lilies popping up. It's almost flower season!

Tons more reviews coming up so stay tuned. And check 8 Ways to Fail as a Homeschooler and 9 Ways to Succeed!

 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Monday, March 23, 2015

How to Suceed as a Homeschooler


1- Learning All the Time  I mean you, the Homeschooling Teacher. The first law of the teacher is to know the material, which takes time and energy.If you want to succeed as a homeschooler, model learning. Model reading, Model intellectual enthusiams, fed on a diet of good books, high standards and cultivated interest in things that matter beyond ones self. Embrace the pursuit of knowledge.

2- Be Humble  You are one of many, with unique talents, skills and abilities, areas of weakness and lack. Serve, even if you are unsure or unqualified; you'll gain skills, talent and wisdom by doing so.

3-Thirst for Knowledge and Wisdom. Ask questions, taking a stance of vunerability; willingly admitting that you don't have all of the answers and that there is always more to learn. You can be both expert and student at the same time.

3-Be Generous and Open Handed (in keeping with #2). You believe in the law of more begets more, and that  a rising tide raises all ships-  share opportunities, people, competitions, curriculum, knowledge.

4- Be Extravagant Homeschooling is the adventure of a life time and you get to share that adventure with some of the coolest people in your life- you family! There is so much to learn, people to met, place to go! Share what you have, what you know, the amazing people in your life. 

5- Be Industrious Homeschooling takes being intentional and proactive. You really need to show up, be prepared, and have a plan and DO IT.

6- Be Tolerant of others shortcomings and lack, along with your own and those of your kids. Allow your kids the time it takes to learn. 

7-Be Responsible Education is the transmission of culture. Not taking responsibility for your kids- their behavior or education- teaches them a culture of postmodern slothfulness. 

8- Be Godly Live your faith outloud, praying and worshiping with your kids, seeking God's goodness and mercy and wisdom. 

9-Focus on Being Faithful and leave the Outcomes to God -We've homeschooled long enough to know about every homeschool failure out there- runaways, drug addicts, felons, teen pregnancies, truly rebellious young adults that have caused their families heartbreak. I've learned some hard lessons in my tenure as a homeschooler and probably the most personal and the most painful has been this: I am called to live my life faithfully. God has called us to homeschool. God hasn't guaranteed, in return, that we get brilliant, faithful, kind, obedient, ambitious, focused, academic, Godly, moral people as a result. In fact, homeschooling is not an insurance policy. We don't get x for investing y. Every person, every child, every young adult that has been homeschooled, public schooled or raised by wolves, has to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. And their salvation is between them and God. No amount of homesschooling, prayer or pleading can guarantee any outcome in regards to another person, be they our beloved child or not. This is not something you are going to hear much about in homeschooling circles. Truth rarely sells well, and formulas do. Guard your heart against them because the only person you get to choose for is yourself. If you are homeschooling, do it wholeheartedly as unto the Lord. Leave the outcomes, and your children, in His hands. 


 @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Rush!

*1*
The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome
Cub's broken arm (3 places) and my sprained ankle have changed things up a bit. For one, the laundry is hard pressed to get folded and put away as stairs are my nemesis and he can't fold. We are having an official laundry folding party today.
*2*
And it's changed school up a bit, too. He's delving head long into SWB's History of the Ancient World (he is so a Susan Wise Bauer fan-boy). Advanced Bio finds him dictating study guide and "on your own" questions to me. We are getting by but his one-fingered typing is slowing things up a bit.
*3*
Meanwhile, Flower is studying hard for Classical Conversations Memory Master - 24 weeks in 7 subject areas word perfect. By Tuesday she needs to be to the point of missing 3 or less in each category. She's so there. We are all marinating in the Timeline song and the first 12 elements of the periodic table by number,element and mass. It's all good and I am once again impressed with how the simple (albiet not easy) task of memorization brings clarity and understanding.

*4*
Speaking of Classical Conversations, we are down to 4 weeks of Community Day. Half my fantastic Master's class has already registered for Challenge A! Woot! This summer is going to whiz by with Drama Camp, Shakespeare Camp, Conferences, Practicums and, hopefully, a Bridgeway Academy Learning Lab thrown in! I am already putting fall events on the calendar- Cub wants to make it to TP Survival and Feeche has Challenge Extreme on his mind. He just has to coordinate that with college/ work.
*5*
We've had some 70 degrees days already and trying to keep the kids contained and focused on math, science and their research paper for Essentials Face of Hisory has been challenging. They are desperate to get outside. Thankfully, our enclosed porch (think 1920's farmhouse, windows all 'round) is where we tend to live, once it's gorgeous out but we still need to get stuff done.

*6*
Spring!
Art-ish: Freshly dyed sheep run in view of the highway near Bathgate, Scotland. The sheep farmer has been dying his sheep with nontoxic dye since 2007 to entertain passing motorists.

*7*
Recent Reviews: 

I will really, truly post How to Succeed as a Homeschooler on tomorrow! 
Here's the How to Fail post, in case you missed it! 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Critical Thinking Company- TOS Review

The Critical Thinking Co.  has been part of our homeschooling adventure for a good long time. We love their products and have used several of them including history, science, mind-benders and pre-K. I was eager for this review and thrilled to be chosen for it. 
We were given the opportunity to reviewWorld History Detective Book 1 (physical book) (Gr.6-12+). Once again  The Critical Thinking Co. did not disappoint. This is a soft cover text/workbook that covers World History, divided into Prehistory, Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Civilization and Early American Civilizations. There is a short Teacher Overview at the beginning which discusses the lessons, unanswered questions and supporting evidence, drawing references and conclusions and distinguishing between facts and opinions; all very important issues to be critically considering as one examines history. 

Each lesson contains a reading selections, often with a time-line and a map included, then multiple choice, where the student must find the supporting sentence that justifies their answer, a written response questions, Venn diagrams or concept maps. This book is chock-full of maps, diagrams and illustrations, making it a unique work-text. There is also a complete answer section in the back. 

Flower took one look at this book and claimed it for her own. We are huge history lovers around here and she was not at all intimidated by the reading, maps and charts. The reading sections are about a page long, so succinct and doable in less than half-an hour. Also, the reading is challenging but not overwhelming.  In fact, I think this book is the perfect segueway between elementary level skills and higher level critical thinking skills about history and civilizations. 

Because we are studying American History this year, we started the Early American Civilizations, which is towards the back of the book. No matter, each section, and each lesson, is self-contained so you can use it by going through it from beginning to end, using a section at a time depending on what history cycle you are on, or picking and choosing lessons that are applicable to whatever history lesson you are teaching at the moment. You can use this book as a stand alone text for World History or as a supplement to a spine. Or like us, as part of a unique, hand-picked package to study a specific time period. 
Flower used this book somewhat independently. The reading was challenging, but very do-able for my newly turned 12 year old, but some of the questions required my coming alongside of her. As each lesson follows basically the same pattern, once your student understands the pattern, they can definitely take the lead with the study. 

Again, we are studying American History this year using some amazing resources. Adding in World History Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co. is a wonderful addition to our already rich line-up. Our favorite parts of this workbook are the detailed geographical maps as well as the concept maps. They add a whole new way of thinking and conceptualizing the material. As always, two thumbs up and hats off to The Critical Thinking Co. for another stellar product that keeps our kids happily engaged while challenging to grow in skills and content area.
To take a look inside go to World History Detective Book I (I'm having photo upload issues at the present).
Find the award winning The Critical Thinking Co on Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/TheCriticalThinkingCo
https://plus.google.com/114500823774999703181
https://twitter.com/criticalthinks
https://www.pinterest.com/source/criticalthinking.com/
Critical Thinking Company Review


 @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Freedom Project Education - TOS Review

FreedomProject Education
Mother, Should I Trust the Government?
Freedom Project Education Review

This was an 8-week Family Course that met for 2 hours weekly. Upcoming Family Courses can be found here: 2015 Courses Along with the class, a book was included. The book is divided into 2 parts with several chapters; Part 1 is an overview of the History of American Government, Part I is a "Small Selection of Jake Jacobs' Ideas on Government." Each chapter is chock full of quotes, opinions and continued reading. We received 2 CD's in addition to the book, one on Common Core and one titled, Who Owns Your Children. All items that we received were of excellent quality. The course is taught by Jake Jacobs, Ph.D. Dr. Jacobs has degrees in history and Biblical Studies. He is passionate about conservative, libertarian values and political viewpoints.

 
This course met for 2 hours a week on Monday nights and is based on the book, Mother, Should I Trust the Government, by Jake Jacobs, who is also the teacher. It is a lecture and discussion-based course with weekly reading assignments from the book. If you miss a class, there are recordings for you to go back and catch up on what you missed. While there were many recommendations about further reading, movies and resources, there was no further reading, tests or quizzes required. FPE  has other 8 week family courses such as the up-coming courses on Critical Thinking and Bible as Culture. 
Log-in was easy; we were sent an access code each week, and Mr. Jacobs spent time chatting with both live and on-line students at the beginning of each class period. He has an easy and engaging manner with the students, joking and setting a relaxed tone with the students participating live, in class as well as those participating virtually. He is obviously an experienced presenter and has an easy and engaging manner during class as well, with a broad base of understanding and materials to draw from. 

I was confused, however, because there did not appear to be  specific or clear objectives for this course other than perpetrating the stance that big government is a terrible idea and that it should not, in fact, be trusted. Our family is fairly involved politically; we discuss politics, government, history and geography as a matter of course in our home, work on campaigns, write letters to government officials and promote causes that we believe in. Our kids live in a fairly rich politicial environment. What we were hoping from this course is that Cub's natural inclincation towards politics would be challenged and honed. 

What occurred however, was that the presentation was often so idealogically specific that Cub felt very frustrated. On the few occasions that Cub tried to disagree with a point put forth ("Soldiers behave badly"), he felt that his points were not respected or interacted with appropriately. While this was occurring on the chat board and not coming directly from the Instructor, Mr. Jacobs was not monitering the chat enough to weigh in on the discussion. So, a vulnerable 15 year old was left to defend his beliefs against a chat board full of adults who disagreed with him. While I understand the pros and cons of on-live chat, this is hardly a win-win learning environment for teen-ager. While we are definitely in the small government camp, we do believe in government. While we agree that some soldiers behave badly, we know and love many soldiers that have served their country proudly and well (including Dr. Dh, his brother, father, other family and many personal friends). This course caused Cub to feel defensive about his own experience and political stance, rather than causing him to consider, grow and develop in his beliefs, understanding of various government systems or the positive role of government.

Again, the materials and presentation format were of excellent quality, Mr. Jacobs has a clear and broad understanding of the material he is presenting. I would have liked to see a more definitive syllabus (even for a Family Class) as well as a more balanced approach to a complex subject, especially in an environment where fledgling adults are involved. 

Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/FreedomProjectEducation
https://twitter.com/fpeusa
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyUPngKLxiB3xkUfHVDxGeg

For more reviews from the excellent Crew: 
Freedom Project Education Review
Crew Disclaimer
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

How to Fail as a Homeschooler


It's that time of year when parents are re-evaluating schooling options for their kids. I hear over and over again, "I want to homeschool (or my kids want to homeschool) but I'm so worried I'll fail." Having homeschooled for 25 years, we've seen it all. Wild homeschooling success and wild, abject homeschooling failure. Here is my not so subtle list about how to fail as a homeschooler. Check it out. Maybe it will help you evaluate whether or not you have what it takes to succeed as a homeschooler.

1- Stop learning I mean you, the Homeschooling Teacher. The first law of the teacher is to know the material, which takes time and energy.If you want to fail as a homeschooler, model NOT learning. Model NOT reading, Model intellectual apathy, fed on a diet of social media, low standards and cultivated disinterest in things that matter beyond ones self. Embrace the heresy of antinomianism, but apply it to homeschooling God loves you, no matter what, so you can do whatever you want.

2- Be Prideful You are all that. And you are happy to let everyone know it. You are willing to be sought after, but rarely, if ever, serve. You keep the good info, classes, curriculum to yourself and let everyone else know that you have what they don't. Your kids are all that, too, and you cultivate a subtle, but effective, narcissism that intentionally keeps you aloof and ohsospecial

3- Never Ask Questions. Cultivate the attitude of disinterest; what you don't know is boring. Asking questions requires vulnerability and humility. Don't show either.

3-Be Stingy & Hoard (in keeping with #2). Opportunities, people, competitions, curriculum, knowledge; you need to keep whatever good thing you have to yourself. Don't share, promote, develop or go beyond your circle. Keep in mind the Toddler Rules, What's Yours is Yours.

4- Be Fearful Homeschool because the world is scary and public schools are of the debil. Be reactive. Be closeted and fearful. Homeschool because there is nothing better. Hunker down for the coming of apocalypse zombies.

5- Be Lazy Have the attitude, based on #4 above, that no matter what you do or don't do as a homeschooler, it is better than what the public schools do or don't do, so if you really don't "do" school or even train your kids, that's o.k., because at least it's better than what the public schools are doing, anyway, right? Good. Plus educational antinomianism (see #1 above).

6- Be Tolerant Let your kids run wild, in the name of homeschooling freedom. Allow them to break rules, to be rebellious, to set a low standard for others at classes, co-ops, field trips, to subtly jeer and undermine. This gives the impression that all homeschoolers have low standards and ensures that no homeschoolers will be allowed that field trip in the future, that any homework assigned will be mocked, that work itself is not really that important, that co-ops should cater to the lowest common denominator, that homework is stoopid and they are all that.

7-Be Irresponsible  Make excuses; make them often and frequently, for yourself and your kids, regarding academic standards, character issues, things left undone and overdone. Don't take responsibility to educate your kids. Use the term unschooling often and bank on the fact that other homeschoolers continue to consider it a pedagogy but that they are not enlightened or read enough to actual understand the term (which is most often the case).

8- Be Idolatrous. Idolize your child, and their individuality to the point of extreme. Idolize creativity while sacrificing discipline. Buy into the cheap imitation of chaos theory that free expression without tools, time or discipline will produce creative talent beyond our wildest dreams. In keeping with this, teach to your kids strengths (if you teach at all) and let their weaknesses go unchecked).

I'm sure that there are other ways to fail as a homeschooler, but these are the ones I've personally most often encountered over the years. And, True Confessions, My name is Lisa, and I'm a Homeschooling Failure myself, having particiapted in all of these at one time or another. Admission, so I'm told by those in the know, is the first step towards recovery. Good thing, that. Because  tomorrow, in honor of those in recovery as Homeschooling Failures, I'll post How to Succeed as a Homeschooler.

Until then.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Friday, March 6, 2015

In Between Netanyahu and Nimoy

If you did not watch PM Netanyahu's full speech, do yourself a favor and take the time to d do so. Find it here . Then, discuss it with your kids. Homeschooling at it's best.
*2*
Classical Conversations was cancelled due to too many ill and inclement weather. We spent the day getting a ton done; Memory work, Essentials grammar, spelling, history and science. 
We are coming to the end of some things- the Spelling Book (Spelling U See- hands down a winner in my book!). Another review of Spelling U See coming up this spring! Wootwoot!

Our weekly co-op included another fun day of learning and fellowship- we love these families!. For a quick 5 min warm-up for Poetry, I had the kids write Burma-shave type ads. Great fun all around. Plus, ome fantastic poems in the style of Beowulf. We have decided to put together a book for the year, with each student submitting at least 5 poems. 3 of the older kids are in charge, working out budget and style, taking pictures, and getting it all organized. Good stuff! 


And then I slipped in mud and twisted my ankle but good, along with wrenching my neck and giving myself a terrific head-ache. Great friends brought dinner, prayed for me, visited and provided crutches. This falling thing is a decidedly bad habit.


The weather vaciliated from sub-zero to almost 50. We saw 8 robins in the yard this week and are determined that this heralds the beginning of a new season. Flower has big plans for gardening this year and has been busy cataloging seeds and discussing where we'll put the garden. 

Flower finished the Wilderking series this week. She absolutely loved it. If you haven't read it yet to your kids yet, do yourself a favor and do so. Good, clean literary fun.


The week ended with art class, math tutoring, ballroom dancing and Mr. A spending the night. 
--- 7 ---

Zicharon tzaddik livracha – May the memory of this righteous man be a blessing.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!