Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: Ten things this mama taught her kids about having their own businesses

Ten Things This Mama Taught Her Kids About Having Their Own Businesses was a short, free e-book that I downloaded after reading a really good article by the author, Rhea Perry. Perry is a homeschool mom who writes for homeschool magazines. While this book had some really good ideas and principles, I also had some issues with it.
I’ll talk about the good things first.
I love some of the principles that she talks about. All the principles can be taught to children from the beginning. My favorite is to do your share of the work and to pick up after yourself. In other words, take responsibility for yourself.
Another principle she talked about was to plan ahead and set long term goals.
I love how Perry aptly describes this principle: “If the fish ain’t biting, sell your bait to the sushi bar.” It’s the same thing as “If life hands you lemons, make lemondade.” If things don’t go as you’d like, make it work for you anyway.
She also advises that we teach kids to get help, to build a team when they are starting a business. Don’t think you can figure it all out on your own. Surround yourself with smart, reliable people.
So there were lots of good things. But now I’m going to talk about the things that drove me nuts to read.
The first problem I ran across in the first chapter. I feel like she places moms up there with God. I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean to be quite so offensive, but it irked me to no end. Moms just aren’t perfect and they don’t know everything. And they’re not on the same level as God. And this is a mom saying this!
It also bothers me that she says, “Don’t give no free rides to nobody!” Sometimes we should to help those who can’t give us anything back. If nothing else, we just get one step closer to heaven.
And then her chapter on women. “They want a nice house where they can raise a bunch of great kids, watch Oprah in the afternoons, eat great food (hopefully that they don’t have to cook) and live a peaceful life.” Yes, women want security, but we’re not that lazy! I have no desire to sit around and watch TV and eat food I didn’t cook. I can live without a nice house. I’m not that shallow, and I don’t think most women are, either!
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have been taught that you don’t put marriage off for career or education. So I don’t agree with her view that you should wait to get married until you are financially secure. I believe you should trust God to take care of you instead of thinking you need to be in control of everything.
And finally, Perry writes like she’s from Hickville. It bothers me that she tries to sound uneducated.
I hope this review isn’t too harsh, because she had many good ideas that I hadn’t thought about. It is a wonderful idea to teach your children to be entrepreneurs and to take care of themselves.
Have you made it a point to teach your children to be entrepreneurs? How have you done that?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teaching letters and their sounds

Charlotte Mason suggests that you teach children their letters as soon as they can talk, about two years old. Well, Little Pink Girl could talk really well by the time she was two, and I was so excited to teach her. I had all sorts of ideas about how to introduce letters.
My original plan combined Montessori and Mason techniques. I was going to use sandpaper letters to introduce the letters so she could trace them with her finger, as well as using her three-step process (association, recognition, remembering). I was also going to make some foam letters that she could just play with between lessons, and I was going to use Mason’s letter game (having them find the letters on a page in a book) that she describes in Home Education. We’d read books that were related to the letter we were learning, and we’d make crafts and do all sorts of things. I figured that we’d focus on one letter per week, and have them learned by spring.

I made some foam letters for Little Pink Girl, but she tore them up almost as soon as I handed them to her. I didn’t dare give her the sandpaper letters. I decided to wait until she was older and just use them to teach her how to write in a couple of years.

I found that I didn’t need them to teach letter recognition. While we were reading, I would point letters out to her. I would also tell her the sounds. I basically used Montessori’s three-step process—association, recognition and remembering. Originally, I tried focusing on one letter a week, and just talking about it when we read books. But after the first week I found I didn’t have to wait that long. She was learning a letter a day.

After she was able to remember a letter without fail, I would ask her to find all the A’s on a page, or all the B’s, or whatever letter we were working on. After she found them all (often with help), I would ask her what sound it made. She’s not even two and a half, and she already knows all the letters and their sounds.

This process complimented Little Pink Girl’s learning style. She hears things, remembers them and repeats them. Before she was two she would say words like chemistry, dividend, vertex and bonjour. Language and learning things by hearing them seems to be her strength.

I was amazed at how easy it was to teach her letters. We did it all while we were reading stories!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Review: Charlotte Mason Companion

A kind friend who had homeschooled her children gave me a stupendous book. Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning, by Karen Andreola, is a book that I’d heard of, but I don’t think I would have read it if it hadn’t been given to me. I’d read two of Charlotte Mason’s books (Home Education and School Education) and didn’t think I’d find anything new or interesting in someone’s rehash of her philosophy.
But I was wrong. This book was great! It wasn’t a rehash at all. Andreola wrote about how she had implemented Mason’s philosophy, what they had gained from it and how it had affected their homeschool, as well as adding her own thoughts and personal insights.
I’d read this book after teaching Little Pink Girl her letters using a combination of Mason and Montessori. But I was fascinated to read that Andreola had done a very similar thing. At that point I knew we must be kindred spirits.
Although Andreola is not of the same faith I am, I find that she believes many of the same things I do. In her chapter on Greek Myth, she talks about how the Greeks lived the truths they knew, and so God gave them more. All good and truth comes from God, and they seemed to have a lot, especially at first. She explains that they did originally believe in one God who had created everything. And she believes that children can benefit from the truth that they did have. Does this sound familiar?
I also love her thoughts on narration. I, too, have thought that when a child narrates back to you what they have read, that they have to make it their own. They have to integrate it into their thinking, and therefore they really learn.
I wasn’t so sure about the chapter on hero worship. I’ll have to think on that one.
Reading her chapters on nature study convinced me that we can use it for science for kindergarten through 4th grade. I didn’t realize what you could do with nature study. You can use star gazing, rock collecting and zoo trips! I also believe that when children form “relations” with things around them, and they are used to watching certain phenomena in nature, that they will make connections when studying out of a textbook that are amazing. The stuff in the book will come alive in their minds.
Andreola also gives lots of ideas for books to read and activities to complete. She also has some good suggestions for picture study.
Do you use Charlotte Mason’s ideas in your homeschool? Why?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Applying Montessori’s 3-step teaching process

Today I’m going to share how I’ve been applying a few of the things I learned about teaching very young children.
Montessori, in her book The Montessori Method, wrote about a process she used to teach colors to the children in her schools. The process involved 3 steps.
It’s incredibly simple. She would hand a child a red object. “This is red.” Then she would hand them a blue object. “This is blue.” That was the first step. She called it associating the sensory object with its name.
For the second step, she would ask, “Hand me the red block.” Or “Hand me the blue block.” (I think they were blocks.) This was called recognition of the object corresponding to the name.
The third step was more difficult for the child. “What is this?” This was called remembering of the name corresponding to the object.
Before I’d even read Montessori’s book I had been doing basically the same thing with Little Pink Girl to teach shapes and colors. I feel that this method is intuitive. Its simplicity is the best thing about it. You don’t need to buy books or DVDs or toys.
It’s amazing what kids can learn without any extra frills, sounds, images or games. In fact, I feel that when you strip it down like that, the child learns much faster and at an earlier age. At least Little Pink Girl seemed to learn faster. She knew her colors and shapes and could count to ten before she was 2.
It’s not much different than what we do with children all the time. We show children a picture and say, “This is a cow. It says moo!” That’s about all we do to teach about animals and their sounds. We tell them, directly or indirectly, what things are all the time without a game or video. We don’t include music when we explain what our couch is called or what the tree outside the window is. Little children can pick things up so much easier than we expect.
These realizations sold me on the idea.
Now that I have the process spelled out for me, I can use it more purposefully. I used it, combined with some Charlotte Mason ideas, to teach Helen the alphabet and all the letter sounds.
This is an A. It says ă. This is a B. It says buh.
Which one is B? What does B say?
What letter is this? What does it say?
Karen Andreola, in Charlotte Mason Companion, talks about how she used Montessori’s method. She says, and I’ve found this to be true, that you may have to do step one over and over, and then steps one and two, over and over, before they are ready for step three, and really have the concept down.
Little Pink Girl now knows all the letters, big and small, and their sounds. It was so simple!
Have you heard of Montessori’s three-step method? Have you used it? How did it work for you?

Monday, February 2, 2015

My educational philosphy

I have been reading a lot of books about educating children the last couple of years, and I feel that I have come up with my own “philosophy of education.” It may change with time, but I’ve written a list of things I want my children to know about learning. I want these things to guide what I do with my children. Here is the list below:
·       The Holy Ghost is the real teacher, so you can learn anything, anywhere, from anyone, if you have the Spirit with you.
·       The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important thing a child should know.
·       There is a balance between book learning and experiential learning, and both should complement the other.
·       A child should be developed as an individual, taught to be independent-minded, to take a stand for what’s right, to be a leader and to take initiative.
·       A child should also be taught a Zion mindset, that we should take responsibility for helping others.
·       We learn so that we can be a power for good in the world. We learn so that we can serve others and contribute to society as God’s leader/servant.
·       A child should know that all truth, since it comes from God, is consistent with His existence. Man’s knowledge only extends so far, so sometimes we don’t see the whole picture, and the part we do see may not appear congruent with our faith. But if something is truth, in the end it will always lead us to more fully believe in God. We just have to be patient.
·       Faith as a principle of power and obedience to God’s eternal law are two of the most important tools we have for learning.
·       All truth, all beauty and all goodness come from God, and all evil comes from a lack thereof.
What are some things you have learned about learning, and that are important for your children to know? Please comment and share.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Protect our Nestlings

I remember hearing the video clip below in conference. It made me think about some families I knew growing up. It's true, with all the new technology, our children aren't safe even in our own homes. We can't ban all the technology from our homes, because then we limit so much good that can be done. But we have to fortify our children early.