Summer is a great time to encourage reading!

Teaching Tip:

Summer is a great time to encourage reading!

While it is important to take time off during the school year, summer is a great time to encourage reading. The long, lazy days of summer just beg for you to curl up with an ice cold glass of lemonade or iced tea and a book!

How can you encourage your children to read this summer?

One way to encourage your children to read this summer is by example. If you read this summer, and your children see you reading, they will be encouraged to read! One way we have done this at our house is to set aside time as a family to read.

Have a family “reading time.”

Last summer, we set aside 30 minutes in the evenings after dinner as family “reading time.” We gathered together in our living room with our individual books and read silently. We set the timer, and when it rang… we were done. At the end of reading time, sometimes a few family members shared something about what they’d read. But mostly, we just read. We enjoyed this time so much as a family that we carried it into our school year!

These days we steadily get to reading time about 4-5 nights a week. Sometimes the boys don’t want to take time out of their busy schedules to read. Yet, when we do take time to read, all of us seem to end up enjoying it. My husband and I really look forward to reading time. I finished several books this year I never would have found time to read had it not been for reading time!

What types of books will tempt your children to read this summer?

Summer seems to be a time for a different kind of reading. If you’ve ever walked through a book store in the summer, you will notice tables of books labeled “beach reads.” These are books that are easy to read on a beach or outdoors somewhere. They often are absorbing books you can take breaks from, return to, and easily be caught up in again. Books like this also work well for the family “reading time” I described above. Sometimes “beach reads” have a lighter, more carefree feel to them. Other times they have a brisk and thrilling pace. Overall, they are enjoyable, easy to read, and have simpler phrasing and diction. They are books that are just less work to read.

Series books work well for summer reading.

Summer can be a great time for series books. Series books often have the “beach read” feel. They have simpler phrasing and diction, have similar plots, follow a definite pattern, and require much less work to read because you already know the characters. Plus, if your child gets invested in a series, he/she can just keep on reading from one book to the next. Of course, not all series books are good. Many are not. So, you’ll have to use discernment to discover the series books that are acceptable for your family.

Take time to cultivate the habit of summer reading.

Time spent cultivating the habit of summer reading is time well spent. We’ve discovered our children curled up reading on the couch, reading in their beds, reading in the bath, and reading late at night. They started a book during “reading time” and just had to know what happened next! Try a family reading time and see what you think. Who knows, you may find yourself burning the midnight oil to find out what happens next in your book too!

Blessings,
Carrie

How much “together time” is beneficial?

Teaching Tip: 

How much “together time” is beneficial?

In my last teaching tip, I mentioned how we can always be assured of plenty of “together time” in a homeschooling setting! One thing to weigh is how much “together time” is truly beneficial? Often as homeschool teachers, we default into thinking that anything done together is better. Often we think that knowledge shared in a group is better, because it is shared.

How do you learn best?

Think through the way that you learn best. Would you say that the “group experience” is the only way or the best way for you to learn? I know for me this isn’t necessarily true.

Be specific in choosing which experiences are shared.

This is why it is important to be specific in choosing which experiences are shared and which ones are individual. Sometimes experiences are shared only between teacher and one student.

What kind of experiences are best done one-on-one?

Personal/private sharing is best done one-on-one. Difficult subjects are best done one-on-one. Subjects that require concentrated attention are best done with few interruptions.

Make a conscious choice about how to handle each subject.

Try making a conscious choice about which subjects are best as a group experience and which subjects are best one-on-one. This specific choosing will make each subject more meaningful. It will also help each subject be better suited to your students’ needs! Try make conscious choices today, and see if your school day goes more smoothly!

Blessings,
Carrie

Do you have too much together time?

Teaching Tip:

Do you have too much together time?

When homeschooling your family, typically there is automatically plenty of “together time.” It is interesting to think about how constructive some of that “together time” really is. Sometimes there can be too much together time! Just as adults crave time alone, students do too. When we as teachers make everything a group activity, school can quickly fall into the category of too much together time.

Choose group activities wisely.

It is important to actually choose when to have an activity together and when to have students work alone. There definitely should be some subjects where a student is able to work alone in a quiet environment.

Be creative in finding quiet work spaces for your children.

You might have to get a bit creative in finding space for your students to have quiet work time alone. I know we had to use my bedroom for one of our older students as a work space! At the time, it was the only quiet spot in our busy household of boys!

Train your children to make good use of their quiet work time.

Often students need to be trained to make good use of their quiet work time. It is wise to keep track of your students when they are first trying to work alone. To help me keep track of my students, I sent my boys up to their quiet space with a timer. The timer was set for the length of time their work was supposed to take. I also set a corresponding timer downstairs to remind me to check on the child after the allotted time. When the timer rang, the child had to check in with me. If the child hadn’t successfully progressed, then he had to work near me for the next subject. This helped train my children to make good use of their quiet work time.

Train your children to be diligent workers.

Through this process, my boys have learned to crave a quiet work environment and to be diligent, independent workers. Try training your children to work alone, and see if they learn to desire a quiet work space too! You may find that when you balance together time and alone time your students will be more attentive during group time too.

Blessings,
Carrie

Why homeschool? The principal, teacher, and students love your children!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? Your children will always be loved by the principal, the teacher, and the other students!

In this Heart of Dakota From Our House to Yours series, we are exploring reasons why you should homeschool. When you think back to your own elementary, middle school, and high school education, do you remember a principal or a teacher who just didn’t like you? Maybe you dreaded being called upon in their class or being summoned to their office. Or, maybe a fellow student or two just seemed to have it in for you? No matter how you tried, they just didn’t like you. Maybe you dreaded being partnered with them, sitting by them, walking past them, sharing a locker with them, standing in line by them, or going to recess or gym class with them. Negative experiences such as this impact children’s learning and hamper their potential to do their best.

In contrast, what if your principal loved your children?

The ‘principal’ of many homeschool families is also known as ‘Dad.’ He is often the support system, and the behind-the-scenes driving force that makes homeschooling possible.  The ‘teacher’ of many homeschool families is also known as “Mom.’ She is often the manager of the home, making homeschooling happen in the day-to-day.  Sometimes these roles are reversed, shared, or done solo, but no matter which scenario fits your homeschooling, one thing remains the same: both principal and teacher love the children. The bond between parent and child is strong. In homeschooling, having the support of both the principal’s governing force and the teacher’s educating capabilities just helps children have a better opportunity to do their best and meet their highest potential.

What if every single one of the ‘other students’ in the class loved your children?

The ‘other students’ of many homeschool famlies are often known as ‘siblings.’ They are the other members of the ‘class,’ and they make up the team that year-after-year attends ‘school’ together. They are there to encourage one another, to support each other, and to cheer one another on as they celebrate milestones and victories. They take an interest in one another because they are truly invested in each other’s lives, not only for the present, but also for the future.  Why? Because they love each other. Forever. That is how God designed families; blood truly is thicker than water.

What if every school year, you knew your child was absolutely, completely 100% loved by the teacher?

Do you long for your child’s teacher to love your child and give him a bright future? What if you started every school year knowing your child would 100% absolutely, completely be loved by the teacher? And what if the teacher woke up every day dreaming of how she could make just your child’s future better? What if, year after year, she moved up with your child grade by grade? And she really got to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses, honing in on just what your child needed the most?  What if she hugged your child every morning? Personally read to him every day? Asked only him discussion questions to make sure all was well-understood? Well, look in the mirror… that teacher is YOU!

No one will love your children like you will.

I had 7 years of public school teaching before I homeschooled my own children. Admittedly, I cared for each of the children in my 7 classes.  I tried my best to teach them all that I could and to give them a happy, safe environment in which to learn. However, I didn’t LOVE them like I love my own children. I wake up each day thankful I can homeschool my own children. I know the ‘principal,’ and he loves them with all of his heart too. Furthermore, I know all the other ‘students,’ and they think the whole ‘class’ is great – every one, best friend material. Finally, I know the ‘teacher,’ and she loves my children to the moon and back. I know because I am her.

One of the best reasons to homeschool is your children will always be loved by the ‘principal,’ the ‘teacher,’ and the ‘other students.’ No one will love your children like you will, and that makes for a pretty amazing learning environment. So, why not start homeschooling today?

In Christ,

Julie

What did 2018 hold for you?

Teaching Tip:

What did 2018 hold for you?

As we turn our eyes toward the new year, it is also the time when we reflect back on the year that has passed. What did 2018 hold for you? Was it a year of joy, a year of struggle, a year of change, or a year of adjustment? Did you accomplish what you desired, or did you feel like you were falling short most days?

God was not taken by surprise by what your year held.

Whatever your year held, remember that God was not taken by surprise by anything that occurred. He knew what your year would hold before you ever ventured into 2018. He knows what 2019 will hold for you too! That means that whatever is ahead, you will not walk alone. For our family, this has been incredibly important to remember this past year.

Our year held joy and struggle, change and adjustment.

Our son Greyson was diagnosed with colitis in March. After difficult months culminating in a month-long stay in the hospital, he was taken to Mayo Clinic by ambulance and had his entire colon and appendix removed. More surgeries have followed and are still to come. After his most recent hospital stay, we were blessed to bring Grey home the day before Christmas Eve. He is being treated for an abscess that was a complication from the second surgery. Yet, through this all we have watched Grey grow in his faith and so have we!

The Lord has a plan for your good!

We take heart that the Lord has a plan, and His plan is for our good. My Dad’s favorite verse is one that I have had to cling to often this past year: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. So, even when we can’t see the good in what is happening, we can rest in knowing that God is working behind the scenes for our good. Remember the story of Joseph in the Bible? That is our glimpse into how God works in times of great trial in ways we can’t imagine for His good and for ours.

Did we accomplish everything we desired this year?

We did not accomplish a lot of what we wanted to do this year. Yet, we have moved forward with life and with school as best we could. Our older boys have had to pitch in and be the teacher for our younger one. They delayed starting their college classes this fall, so they could be here and keep things running. Family watched over our boys when we couldn’t be here. Friends, and family, and churches, and people we’ve never met prayed without ceasing over Grey and continue to do so. Looking back on 2018, we can say our lives are richer for the united, loving body of Christ.

Faith is strengthened is times of struggle.

As we look back on 2018, we realize that the greatest gift we can give our boys is faith in the Lord. The academics are important too, but a deep and abiding faith is what matters for eternity. In times of struggle, we are teaching our boys to pull together as a family. They have learned to set aside their own wants to serve others. As a family, we have been driven to our knees to call upon our heavenly Father. Blessedly, He opens His arms and draws us to Him.

In 2019, reach for your Father in heaven.

So, as you look toward 2019, reach for your Father in heaven who loves you. Know that He will walk with you no matter what is ahead. Join with us in fervently praying that your children will come to know Him more deeply. If that is what you seek to accomplish this coming year, you will be doing what matters for eternity!

Blessings,

Carrie