Monday, August 19, 2013

Homeschooling - When and How

Parents begin teaching their children from the moment of birth. Supporting that learning, expanding upon their experiences and knowledge, is homeschooling. It begins early, and flows into childhood. Every parent does it, they just may not view it as such. 

When my oldest was 18 months, while visiting with my parents, we realized that he had been too quiet for too long. We found him with a phillips head screwdriver methodically taking apart everything he could reach.

We told him he needed to put everything back together, and he accurately put every screw back into where it belonged. Door hinges, door knobs, metal floor thresholds, the back on the remote, some of his electronic toys, etc. He had devised boosters where needed to get up to where he wanted, some of them quite inventive. We watched him reassemble each one.

Little bro taking after big bro!
Yes, screws are choking hazards, yes, batteries were uncovered that could have harmed him, yes, he exposed electrics that could have harmed him, yes, he could have poked his eye out with a screwdriver. 

But it was what he was led to do. 

It wasn't the first time that my little guy had shown an innate NEED to figure out how the world works around him. So we provided him with a variety of things he COULD take apart and put back together as he chose and proceeded to supervise him closely, offering a straight screwdriver when needed. 

While I had supported him in every quest to learn, this was truly the moment when I knew, looking into his serious little eyes, that if I took this opportunity to explore away from him, a part of him would be lost. Possibly forever. I've had that gut feeling many times through the years, and unfortunately, along the way, especially when he was in public school, pieces of him WERE lost because he didn't fit the mold.

I think schooling at home, beyond the support of traditional baby-hood learning, begins when a parent recognizes that NEED within a child to explore, know, experience, and truly UNDERSTAND beyond their capabilities or environment. 

All children have this innate desire, some more so than others. But ALL children have their passions, whether that be trucks, trains, princesses, horses, machines, or nature. Finding that subject of passion sometimes takes exposure through books and outings. 

For instance, my cousin's 3-year-old just went through an animated dinosaur exhibit this last weekend. Now she wants to know everything possible about dinosaurs. 

Her parents bought her a coloring book from the gift shop and are picking out library books and hunting down video on dinosaurs. She is advanced, most likely gifted, as both her parents are, so they can continue to add resources applicable to her interest and development until her interest wanes, if it ever does.

Depending on the family, this flow of teaching may remain in "project-based" exploration, become more child-led with maturity and be termed "un-schooling," or morph into more organized set curriculum. 

My oldest indicated even in preschool that organized schooling was not for him. His teacher said that he would leave the class. Not physically, but mentally, he'd fade out and they had trouble getting him reconnected. She said he would get bored and simply go away. I asked him where he went in his head. He said, "My happy place. School makes me sad."

While I wanted to homeschool, knew I NEEDED to homeschool my 2e gifted child, because the school system quickly began robbing him of so many things and shutting him down from the world, I couldn't work out the logistics.  

We struggled with public school for years, trudging nightly through homework he felt tortuously repetitive and boring ,until I would give in and let him work on what he truly want to work upon, usually some form of science, often physics, which I facilitated...homeschooling in the evenings. He learned more, retained more, and was HAPPY learning this way.

When he finally was able to homeschool, it was as if the sun shone on his soul for the first time in years. We could work around his good/bad days. He could race through what he already knew, spend some extra time on anything he struggled with, and be done with his day with plenty of time to explore his passions. 

The youngest has only been in public school for one grade, fourth, and it didn't go well. His passion is coding and programming, subjects he would not be exposed to through the school system, at his level, until college. His reading, math, and science skills are advanced not due to his intellect, but due to his profound need to constantly learn more, to create better programs, and push his capabilities.  

Homeschooling DOESN'T begin at a desk or with a worksheet.

It all starts early, with that first moment that a parent sees a driving need to learn within their child. When a parent makes the choice to provide inspiration, motivation, and means to open the door to knowledge.

We read a lot of worm books that week!
It doesn't take a lot of time or money, unless you have them to spare and choose to do so. Free resources are readily available and there is a multitude of support within most communities, and if not yours, then others that you can outreach. If you are called to support your child in their learning, find a way. 

Coop with other homeschooling parents if you need to work. Homeschooling can be accomplished at any time you can make available, and children are often their own best teachers if given resources to explore. 

Our vet has a 12 year old homeschool girl that shadows their vets for 4 hours 3 times a week. He says she knows more than most 2nd year veterinary students. That's her passion. If you seek resources, you will be surprised how the community will provide.

There is a reason "JUST DO IT!" is such a popular slogan...

Tags: homeschooling, gifted, education, home schooling, homebloghop, school, passion, chi
The Gifted Homeschool Forum is keeping a running list of the other “Homeschooling: Where & How to Begin” links as they are submitted.

Below you will see that ANY PARENT can homeschool successfully...

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up
Source: ldren, parents, child, learning, 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Yarn Art - Painting and Texture

This is another one of those seemingly simple activities that I end up finding complex skills emerging during the process. This is definitely PROCESS art, although the product is pretty wonderful.


I LOVE this paper. 
  • First, because it is FREE. In this economy, whether you are a teacher or parent, FREE is ALWAYS good. I'm constantly surprised by the things people throw out for which we find some amazing uses. Look around you, and hit up everyone you know for anything they think you could possibly use. You can always pitch it if you can't use it. These are a shipping topper to Doug's game tickets, so he collects many each week. 
  • Second, they are a heavy card stock with one side slick and the other side matte, giving us many options and holding up well to any project.
  •  Third, they are a great size, 8 X 16 inches. The children can easily reach to the top of the paper and to the supplies in the center of the table without standing up or leaning so far forward they drag their paint shirts or body parts into their projects.  
  • Fourth, they are still wide enough that the children can get a good-sized project accomplished but not so large that they don't easily fit as many as we need upon the table or become unmanageable for the children to carry about.

The first step was using a piece of yarn about 3 inches long, clipped into a clothes pin, as a painting tool.

Their inclination was to open the clothespin, which dropped the yarn, which left them with the dilemma of getting paint on their hands to place it back into the clothes pin or to just attempt to grab the yarn with the clothes pin. All got it back on through independent decision making, experimentation, and observation of their cohorts.


It also took some logic/reasoning skills for them to figure out that to load their yarn with paint, just dragging the it through the didn't get the job done. Using the tip of the clothes pin to smoosh the yarn all around in the paint and get it good and sopping, was MUCH better.

They started out dragging the yarn back and forth on their papers, and eventually started doing circles, curves, up and down, zig zags, and transferring the smooshing technique to color in areas.

The next day, we added our 3 dimensional component, yarn pieces, to the dried art work.

Working those scissor skills, the children began by cutting some pieces, dragging them through our glue sponge, and placing them on their art work randomly.

Soon into it, though, they decided the glue sponge was too icky and not getting enough glue on for them, and they wanted the bottles. With the bottles, they decided that putting the glue down FIRST, then placing the pieces or cutting the yarn TO LENGTH, was a better choice.

Even the youngest did a great job in assessing the length of the glue and cutting pieces appropriate in size. Excellent spatial and observation skill work.

They became more precise and intentional in their placement. This led to some more interesting textures and formations.

Miss H - "A Playground and Lips"
The finished pieces are pretty awesome!
I love the movement and texture.

Tags: art, craft, yarn, preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, Pollack, paint, glue, scissor, fine motor, color, rainbow, homeschool, child, children, children's, cut & paste,

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rules for Reasons

Parents, please don't make your toddler's life at child care, playgroup, Gymboree classes or any multi-child setting, any more difficult than it needs to be!!

As a child care provider and preschool teacher, I create...

While few and simple, they are very important for all children to be successful and SAFE.

When doing an introductory meeting with parents, I discuss how school rules need to be followed at home so that the child has consistent expectations and can trust his home and school environments to the extent that the child can make appropriate choices in actions and behaviors at both. 

There are some experiences I have had that really get this point across.
  • I had a 2 year-old hitting all the other children with large blocks, seemingly taking great glee in their pain, suffering, screams and tears. He was laughing and having a good time of torturing the others. Nothing stopped him, or even slowed down his seeming quest to attack everyone. I finally had to exclude him from the other children.
This surprised me, as hitting is the capital offense at school, with instant time-out and a stern lecture. He hadn't shown a penchant for it prior to this particular instance. In discussing this with his mother, showing the bruises and tears of the other children, she admitted that they had bought their boys play light sabers over the weekend and had a great time all beating each other up. " was so cute...he had such a great time!"

Unfortunately, a 2 year-old is completely incapable of reasoning between a play lightsaber against his 5 year-old brother and parents, and a block against the head of another toddler, or a stick into the eye of another child. 

Baby Boy Star Wars Nursery Art Jedi with red lightsaber Illustration Digital Print 5x7 sky blue
Artwork used with permission from Let's All Make Believe
Print available $12 from her Etsy shop
These parents, over a weekend, taught their son that hitting other people was not only okay, but strongly encouraged, attention getting and FUN! A recipe for child care disaster on Monday. 

Parental attention and encouragement 
will ALWAYS trump school rules.
  • I also see this happen with ball throwing around the 18mo-2yo range. A father was so proud of his son's strong arm until he threw a rock into the face of another child. Even after discussing this with the father, he didn't stop throwing with his son, he just tried to "teach" him to only throw balls. (Not going to happen at this age range.) The child was constantly in trouble at school for throwing. The father FINALLY decided to wait on the ball throwing until the boy reached at least 3. What was the catalyst for his abrupt about face? The child chucked a toy into his dad's private parts. The dad found out just what a good, strong arm his boy had on him.
This one happens FREQUENTLY...Dad's and their obsession with their son's pitching ability! GEEEEZ! 

Another dad did the exact same thing...didn't stop the throwing, and tried to "teach" his toddler to only throw balls, even after I relayed the previous story. This one didn't last as long, since his son decided to chuck rocks in the driveway, with all the strength his little arm could muster, at daddy's new Lexus while dad was showing it off to a friend. Within an HOUR of purchasing it! 

Unfortunately for him, the little boy didn't stop throwing all together as quickly as his father would have liked. A few days later, this dad got a golf ball into his private parts. The height difference between toddlers and fathers is perfect for this. 

I couldn't help myself: "Yep, he really does have a very STRONG arm, doesn't he? Imagine if that would have been a block against another kid's head."

Dad: "Yeahhhhh, sorry."
What I didn't say,


But I wanted to!
This isn't just boys! My cousin was talking about her daughter playing pirate and hitting the dog with her foam sword and how "funny it was. We were dying laughing. The poor dog, though, was terrorized." 

I basically told her everything I've written here, and extrapolated it to a stick being hit against her baby niece. She immediately called over her husband and said, "NO MORE SWORDS!" I reminded her that it was only until Sadie showed some sound reasoning after she turned three. Not too long to wait.

 Child Pirate Costumes

Until a child's reasoning between objects and actions, and a semblance of self-control emerges, throwing and hitting, in any manner, in any form, of any thing, is a FIRM NO!! What is okay with an older sibling or parent, at home, is NOT OKAY in any multi-child setting.

It's simply not fair to the child to be reprimanded harshly elsewhere for something that is not only approved of, but ENCOURAGED at home. Every child wants adult approval, and they get very mixed signals when their parents and their teachers or caregivers have dramatically different responses to what the child perceives as the SAME ACTION.

Even worse, is when a parent has actively encouraged a particular action or behavior, and then, when it is done in a manner the parent deems inappropriate, harshly punishes their child. Praising and laughing for the child throwing a ball, then spanking them for throwing rocks at the car, is WRONG!

Tags: lying, children, development, discipline, punishment, toddler, preschool, childcare, daycare, parenting, parent, girl, boy, rules, consistency, behavior, tantrums, child, limits, care

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Moment of Teaching

I walk over and write a number on the sliding glass door. By the time I'm done writing, the children have gathered from their various activities, drawn by curiosity. Miss A shouts out the number "83!" 

I erase it and write another number and point to the first digit "ONE HUNDRED" and underline the last two. Miss H shouts out "57!" 

"Yes, ONE HUNDRED...fifty-seven." 

They get the next several 3-digit numbers, up to 999, that I simply write up then erase once they say them. 

I walk off. They disperse. 

In less than two minutes, I have provided a second introduction to 3-digit numbers. 

Teaching and learning doesn't have to be time consuming or complicated.

The children all turned 3, 3, 4 and 5 within the last two months. 

Tags: preschool, pre-k, teaching, homeschool, homeschooling, math, numbers