The Art of Introducing a Lesson
Often, the most challenging part of giving a lesson is getting the children excited and ready to learn. Here are seven strategies to ensure your presentation gets off to a good start.
1. Check your attitude: You need to believe in the value of what you're going to present. The children will smell your fear or hesitation a mile away. If a particular topic scares you, spend more time with it. Read, listen to podcasts, watch videos, use your hands to explore the concept, and find new ways of lo…
Connecting math, language, history and other academic subjects to your child's real-life experiences makes learning relevant, increases participation, and supports development. A hands-on home calendar is an ideal tool to learn and practice a variety of skills (whether you homeschool or not!). It also provides many opportunities for cultural explorations. Here's how we use it in our home... MATH: The first day of each month, I take down the calendar numbers, divide them into three piles (1-10…
Long Live the Short Chains
The Montessori Short Chains and Arrows pack a big learning punch and are often under-utilized. They're great for a homeschool environment because they don't take up any shelf space. Their initial purpose is to help the child first count linearly and then skip-count. But when your child is comfortable with these two concepts, you can use the chains for much more! Here are four ideas...
Find the number: Ask the child to set out the hundred chain with the corresponding arrows, while you c…
Unschooling: Soap Bubble Edition
Sometimes learning is what happens while you're busy decluttering the back patio...
My four-year-old found an old bubble wand and asked if we could make bubbles, so I googled this recipe and we set to work. She had a great time measuring, pouring and stirring, and she got to experience sugar disappearing in water to make a solution (yay, science and vocabulary!).
We were having so much fun blowing bubbles on our back patio that my seven-year-old decided to join the party. He wanted to see ho…
The Entitlement Myth
A few weeks into his first-grade year, my formerly sweet and relatively cooperative son began acting sassy, cocky, and entitled. Requests for help were met with groans and eye-rolls. Limits were countered with sighs and "whatever"s. We gave him the benefit of a doubt: Surely he was just imitating his older classmates' rude behaviors. Or maybe this was a misguided attempt at being more independent. All my friends' children were acting the same way, so it was probably a developmental phase.…
An American friend and colleague who lives in Asia recently shared with me that her in-laws had moved out of her house. They had been very involved in raising her children, so I asked if she missed having the help. She texted back, "No. I'm forced to be the mom and it's what my kids want and what family is supposed to be."
As I sat staring at her words on my screen, the last seven years of my life - my entire parenthood journey - flashed before my eyes. I remembered how both times I had had…
If you're a teacher or homeschooling parent who uses checklists to encourage a child's organization and accountability, then you already know just how quickly checklists can turn into a battle of wills between adult and child. You also probably sense that checklists hinder freedom of choice. And you've surely noticed that checklists shift the focus of the child's work away from self-development and flow, and towards task completion and industrial efficiency.
While checklists can work beautifu…
Moon-tessori (haha, couldn't resist)
"You're great at this homeschooling thing because you're a teacher... I don't think I could do it because I don't know much about anything."
I can't tell you how many times I've heard this phrase since we started homeschooling two months ago, coming from the most capable and well-prepared mothers in my circle of friends. So here's a little secret... I don't know everything. Heck, I don't know most things! But I don't let that hold me back from learning and sharing with my children.
The "Annoying" Seven-Year-Old
Seven-year-old Zachary learned how to build a popscicle-stick catapult at a free library workshop last week. Over dinner that night, I "casually" asked my engineer husband if he knew the difference between a catapult and a trebuchet. A brief but interesting discussion ensued, and my son hung on to every word.
Sitting around the kitchen table after breakfast Monday morning, I asked Zachary: "What would you like to explore today?"
He pouted and crossed his arms. "Nothing."
I tried again. "Y…
Kingdom of the Sun
"Where do the names of the planets come from?", asked 7-year-old Zachary. I knew they were first named after Greek gods and then were changed to the equivalent Roman gods, but didn't know much else. Then I found Kingdom of the Sun, where we learned that Aristotle, the astronomer who originally gave the planets the names of Greek gods, "did his best to match the character the gods were supposed to have with what he knew about the planets - their speed, brightness, and color."
This sets the s…
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