We've been working to compile some tips shared by our authors during our January Facebook party. We are so thankful for each of you who joined us and participated in such a fun night! Read on to glean some great homeschooling wisdom...
My tip for avoiding or at least diminishing burnout is to recognize your child's uniqueness. I would get way more frustrated & want to throw in the towel when I tried to force my square peg of a child into my round hole of expectations on how things "should" be done. ~Loree' Pettit One thing I always say at workshops is thank you. Thank you to the parents who sacrifice so much! Your children will one day realize what you're doing for them and they will say thank you too. Keep going! You are on the right path but it is also the harder path. ~Ashley Wiggers Everyone experiences burn out at one time or another... and even on more than one occasion. Recognize this is normal and strategize in advance what you can do to avoid or lesson the effects. Identify what causes you to reach your limits. For me it is a messy house. Seems trivial, I know, but I can flow along with a lot of stress, until my house gets trashed—THEN I just don’t bear up with the pressure nearly as well as when it was orderly. It served me well as a home school mom to pick up every evening before I went to bed or first thing in the morning before the children got up. Identify what topples your stack and decide in advance ways to avoid it. ~Cindy Wiggers Do things that help you see what's ahead—we used to go to our state's graduation every couple of years just to keep our thoughts going in the right direction. It was so great to see how so many different types of kids had been so successful! ~Debbie Strayer I think the best way to combat burnout is to build in ways to keep perspective... the hard part about burnout is it seems to be such overwhelming evidence! The truth is you are part of a larger process that is producing good fruit.... hanging in there is the hard part. Step back from time to time and think about where your children started and where they are now.... ~Debbie Strayer
DEVELOPING THINKING SKILLS
One very important part of letting your student think something through is helping them understand that THEIR opinion matters to you! It is a powerful thing. ~Ashley Wiggers I am convinced that children have the ability to think and evaluate from a very young age. Treating them as such is the first step in developing thinking skills. Learn to ask questions, lots of questions, ones that provoke thought and provide a opportunities for the child to express his opinions. Then wait for the answers. One of the greatest roadblocks we place in front of our students is not giving them enough time to process a question and to put their thoughts into a response. We step in and give the answer or tell our own opinion - eliminating the need for the child to speak. Often it just takes them longer to think it through and respond. Let the silence work. ~Cindy Wiggers Another great idea for teaching thinking skills is thinking aloud. You model the thinking process for your children...sort of like talking yourself through a problem.... ~Debbie Strayer
Geography is really the big umbrella - includes culture, literature, science and history.... everything connects! Unfortunately, school taught us to compartmentalize everything. We can take back so much of our children's learning by integrating! ~Debbie Strayer Using real books, you can find geographical terms easily as the story unfolds and the author establishes the setting. I used a 3x5 card as a bookmark, jotted down the geography terms and we used them for vocabulary. ~Cindy Wiggers A simple but wonderful thing we did is just use laminated maps as placemats. The children would read them during lunch... then when we would hear about a country during the news they would run and get their placemats and find them! Geography for the directionally challenged! ~Debbie Strayer Use natural tie ins whenever possible. As some have mentioned here. Map the travels of your favorite sports team, locate the places of current events, locations of movies, missionaries, servicemen and women. Regardless the reason your students get into the atlas, the more they use it the simpler it becomes. Being able to read and understand maps is a life long ability that should be on every students skills check list. ~Cindy Wiggers Olympics is a great time to do country studies! We learned about the host country together. Each child would choose a country to learn about. They would write the country's embassy or tourism board to request info, make food, learn about the location, climate, features, etc. They'd root for their country during the games. ~Loree' Pettit Current Events is a great way to pull geography into your everyday life! Just keep an atlas handy during the news. ~Ashley Wiggers Most people don’t realize how connected geography is to other subjects like literature, history, science and more. Tie in a geography activity naturally while reading historical novels by giving students an outline map of the area and have them label the places where the story takes you. Watch for food, plants, animal, climate and more. These all tie into geography. ~Cindy Wiggers
Can I toss timeline notebooks into the ring? What a phenomenal way to learn how people & events fit together! We use GM's timeline nb page. Each page can be for any time span that you desire. Most of our are for 40 yrs, but some cover 10 or even just 1 year. Place or draw a figure or simply write the name of the person/event on the top half of the page. Then have the child write something about the person/event on the bottom half. (Using colored ink is helpful in keeping things separate.) As the child gets older & revisits a topic & needs to write more, don't start a new page. Simply cut a new bottom half & place in from of the original. That way you have a record of what they have written at different stages. When studying a biography, we do a bio timeline. Most people need 2 pages. The first tick mark on the nb page is their birth year. Above that line is the subject's personal events. Below the tick marks is national/world events to show how they correlate with the subject's life. ~Loree' Pettit A notebooking approach brings with it a number of additional benefits. It supports a child's natural gifts and learning style. The content reflects your child’s original thoughts and ideas (rather than circling an answer worded by the author in a textbook) and it becomes a natural portfolio of your child's progress. Students will often go the extra mile and do a better job in a personal journal or notebook that they would not do in a workbook. Don’t you love to see your child take special care to do the work at hand! ~Cindy Wiggers I love how notebooking brightens the eyes of the child. When this journal of school work includes their own drawings, writings, and personal style they often take more active role in the learning process - in a natural way. We really want our children to be engaged in the learning process, not just ambiguously “doing school”. I found just that with my children. They are all married now and have these awesome notebooks of their homeschooling experience. You know, they always seemed to remember more details of any study that they recorded in their notebook. ~Cindy Wiggers
From Geography Matters: One of the most common questions we get regarding The Trail Guide to Learning Series is about the future of the curriculum. The first three years have thoroughly covered American history, but what comes next? Co-author Debbie Strayer has graciously taken the time to answer that question here. Enjoy!
Setting the FoundationThe Trail Guide to Learning Series began with a three level tour of American History. Not only do these three levels cover all the main events of American history from our beginnings as a nation through modern times, but they also lay a foundation for understanding nation building. The model of explorers, settlers and builders and the scientists and inventors demonstrates the importance of purpose and connecting history, geography, science, and literature to fully understand the course of a society.
Looking ForwardWith that foundation laid, we will go back to the beginning of time. Starting with Ancient Civilizations, we will apply the same kind of connections and critical thinking to the early peoples of Israel, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and Mesopotamia. We will travel from there to the Middle Ages, concluding our look at World History with the study of the Renaissance, Reformation and the era of colonization. In all of these studies, connections are key as we examine the geography, literature, history and science of each time and place. By evaluating events in the context of these connections, a richly-woven picture emerges that not only describes the past, but teaches lessons for the future.
High SchoolUpon reaching high school, we will take a novel approach as we cover content that meets course requirements in a way that maintains our commitment to the integration of studies in language, literature, history, science, geography, humanities, and many areas of enrichment. Developing thinking and communication skills is our goal, with the history, culture, science, government, and economics of the nations of the world as the stage for applying these skills. We will go continent by continent, looking at the nations that make up the continent, their relationship to the whole, and then their relationship to the world. Since our world has grown smaller, students need to learn about the past and the present with the ability to evaluate and act with integrity, wisdom, and confidence in the future.We invite you to join us on our journey through time. Like many explorers, settlers and scientists, our journey is far from over, but the connections and discoveries along the way make it all worthwhile!