More on Home Schooling Without Curriculum

Well, thank you for all the great feedback on my last post.  I am glad it struck a chord!  Sure, I’ll share more!  Thank you for the requests.  And so I continue…

4. No screen time or limited screen time. My children grew up without television.  Especially when they were younger (birth to 12 yrs) we limited their screen time to little 1/2 hour, quality educational shows.  Their computer access was also limited to 1/2 hour bits of stuff like Reader Rabbit, Magic School Bus, and math game/word game stuff.  We watched movies as a family, to be sure, but again, we strived to make these times worthwhile in terms of quality and content.  The movies we watched served to bring us together as a family, create opportunities to grow in the Faith, and acted as springboards to greater learning and meaningful discussions.  Documentaries, Period Dramas, and films that took us deeper or had us laughing together.

Over the years I’ve had lots of opportunity to learn more about the impact of screen time on the brain (young and old).  I’ve found out more about cognitive stunting, how it reeks havoc with the order of attachment, interferes with curiosity and imagination, and stifles wholesome ambition and initiative.  Screen entitlement can become a monster.

If you are home schooling and want your children to be critical thinkers, creative, enthusiastic and on your side, be a dictator when it comes to the use of devices and having access to too much entertainment.

Later, when they are bigger, encourage the cultivation of self-discipline and continue to model using time in a godly and balanced manner.

The Internet and such has a place in the home learning environment.  We’ve benefitted from science spots on youtube, investigating something online, taking online courses, etc.  You be the master, though.

5.  Entertain and visit interesting and knowledgeable people. People are a great resource to the educator-parent who wants to teach without curriculum.  We’ve had so many encounters with people who have special skills and knowledge, who’ve shared so much with us over the years.  This means going places and having people in to our home.  In B.C., it was a salmon farm, talking to the guy who works the fish steps, or the park worker near the suspension bridge who told us all about relocating black bears into the wild, or the monk who toured us around a monastery, or the man who stayed with us and showed us his electronics gear and talked up wave lengths…and on it went.  I remember the first lady who showed us chicken lungs while we were butchering chickens (raising chickens, yes, we went on to do as a family).  I love the fellow who talked quietly about horses while giving my kids a ride.    This is the kind of learning that sticks.  Relationship equals greater meaning in learning.  Make it happen!

6.  Use nature to enhance learning.  Sitting on the bank of a pond, sketching the geese and swans is a beautiful memory, or the time we my son made an ice boat and sailed across the slough in the dead of winter.  We’ve spent a good chunk of our home schooling outside, learning from God’s creation.  Making dams in the ditches and studying the diverting water, or staying up late to examine and appreciate the Northern Lights, who can beat it?  I can’t imagine forfeiting all our outdoor hours of learning for the experience of being in a desk too many hours per day.  The petrified wood along the gravel road, the skulking around Dinosaur Park in southern Alberta, and hanging out at Pembina River, looking at the cliffs and the natural formation of the land  the river has created there – who can beat this kind of real-life exploration.  As a result of these times outdoors, we’ve drawn it, made flour and salt maps, written poetry of our experiences, read more history on these locations, described them in narration, learned songs, and told others all about it.

Non curriculum learning is relaxed, is opportunity for excellence, creates openings for more elaborate learning, stimulates the mind, is fun, and bonds the family as they set out cooperatively to explore and discover together.  It really is a happy and pleasant kind of learning.  Want more?

I’m happy to take you on my own home schooling journey in a talk I have prepared on this topic.  If you and a group would like to book me for a speaking engagement, reach out to me at: 4theresemcd@gmail.com

God bless you!

Therese

Attaching Hearts to Home

ah2h long

 

Teaching Without Curriculum – The Report is In.

Last year I finished my home schooling journey, having my last child graduate.  I home educated my four, right through, beginning to end.  Formal curriculum was dropped early on and I went with a classic, discussion-based (Socratic), interest driven, model.  How about I share some thoughts, after 22 years of letting the winds of learning blow us in many directions, well outside the norms?

I like to think about what is natural to the human person.  When did we get the idea to educate by batches according to a date of manufacture?  -All ten yr. olds together, learning formatted material, covering subject matter, regardless of interest or use?  The classroom model comes with the need for “management”, and management needs “sameness” in order to maintain order.  It makes sense when you have 25 + students you are preparing systematically in an age of productivity, top-down industrialization, and work-market results.  But learning at home allows for far less “management”, and far greater emphasis on curiosity, wonder, interests, passions, why and how come?, individual talents and gifts, and most importantly calling and personal mission

What is natural then to the learner, to your child, and what does that look like in day to day formation and growth?

We are born curious.  What keeps curiosity alive?  Keen interest.  And what is interesting to us?  That which gives purpose, pleasure, growth, motivates us to learn more, has us talking about it, wanting more, and spurs us down more trails of study and exploration.  When I see someone tuning out, having difficulty concentrating, looking at the clock, procrastinating, wasting time, or showing behaviour issues, I see it as a time to inject meaning into the activity and stimulate curiosity.

A primary way of doing this is using high interest materials or creating a rich environment.  A sure way to get someone engaged and thinking is by asking intriguing questions.  Remember, I’m talking from experience. 🙂

This post isn’t intended to be a brag scene, but the results have been super!

Let me start by first sharing that not all my teaching was curriculum free.  I have used materials, worksheets, text books, and pre-formatted – especially with Math.  There is a sequence to learning Mathematics and skill builds on skill.  That said, I readily skipped large portions of a text/workbook if my child(ren) mastered a skill or lacked readiness.  Sometimes I changed the order of learning and did not go according to the program as presented in chapter by chapter.  There were times where I needed to find greater meaning (or my child did) as to why we needed to learn certain math skills (as in upper Algebra).  I waited until it had relevance.  I also probably gained a certain security in using a variety of Math curriculums, as I considered it my own weakest subject.

Regarding Math, all my children did better than I ever did  because of good logic skills, an ability to reason well, and the freedom found in being an “explorer” They were able to enjoy math with fewer hang-ups.  -Understanding and finding purpose, over  performance and memorization.  I appreciated my husband over the years as he seemed to connect better on a math level than I ever did.

OK, now that math is aside, how about some samples of learning without walls, and certainly without pre-packaged and subject segregated, materials.

I’ll share with you my top ten ways of freedom-learning in three blog posts. So here are my first three means of learning without packaged curriculi:

  1. Read the classics aloud and discuss what you read.  Do this for an hour each day.  This will build vocabulary, give the pace and beauty of language, create good brain attention span, stimulate imagination, and bring the family together in a most beautiful way.  Another bonus from read-alouds, is the benefit of having had a common experience that can be drawn upon in conversation and expression.

If we read Jack and the Beanstalk together and explore the question – Was it right for Jack to kill the Giant?  Is the Giant human?  Does it make a difference if he is human or not when it comes to killing him?  You can see I’m working on critical thinking skills, the formation of the mind, and growing my children in philosophical/ethical/and moral thought.  Even when they are little, they have the ability to think beyond comprehension questions.

During each reading time, we look at faith implications and how our Christian beliefs speak to issues, ideas, and questions.  This is opportunity to make Faith come alive in meaningful discourse and deeper thinking.

When words come up that are new, difficult, or confusing, this is a great time to seek out proper meanings.  Sometimes, once we discovered a new word together, I would have the children act it out.  “Show me what a perplexed face might look like.”

In discussion, when a child shared a gem of a thought, I would have them write it down later.  “The giant shows thinking and feeling qualities.  This means he isn’t like an dumb animal.  He is aggressive and dangerous, and wants to eat Jack.  I think Jack is allowed to defend himself and protect those below.  In this case, even though the giant is human-like, I think it is OK for Jack to chop down the beanstalk and save himself and others.”

Now the written form might have spelling mistakes,  grammatical errors, or lack logical flow.  I might spot missed words or needed handwriting correction.   Better for us to use something straight from the child, meaningful to them, and something of which I’ve given specific praise.  Using their own thoughts in expressive writing is far more motivating than something out of a workbook. Why write about pandas when you’ve got something to say yourself?

I accomplish many goals in reading and discussion.  – Listening skills, expressive verbal skills, spurring on thinking, patience and letting others complete their thought without interruption, good conversation manners, coming to deeper relationship with family, writing something from what is spoken, honing writing skills,….it goes on.  I truly could write a book on the benefits of Socratic Dialogue.  It is a means for finding that which is good, true, and beautiful.  It works for all ages.  Sometime I’ll write about how to effectively give all ages opportunity to share in a discussion.

2. Create a rich environment. Plant those positive learning traps. 🙂  -A pile of seashells left in the middle of the kitchen table (what is this about?).  – A stack of books from the library on different fish. – A Zoomy (https://www.learningresources.com/product/zoomy–8482-+handheld+digital+microscope.do), a hand held microscope that displays on your computer screen. –  An owl pellet ready for investigation.  – A recipe challenge.  – A virtual trip to the Louvre.

The possibilities are endless.  These are the ways passions and interests are developed.  A child can become an expert when the learning fever is caught.  What started as a seed of learning, such as a poster book on World War II, becomes months or years of investigation and learning.  There is potential to leave you in the dust as they embrace the time, leisure, and opportunity to learn intensively with your help and guidance.  This happened in our home with opera.  I introduced the kids to The Magic Flute and one daughter ended up becoming an opera nut, and over time teaches us all much more than I had in my own small experience of this art form.

Good learning leads to better learning.  Having the freedom to explore with fewer time boundaries allows a child to develop organizational , comparison, evaluation, cooperative, analytical, and investigative skills.  The only thing that can get in the way of imaginative and curiosity-driven motivation and initiative is wasteful hours of screen time.  It is the truth.  If you want to kill a child’s drive to learn, let him fill his hours with T.V. , videos, and gaming.

Be the guide and provider of interesting resources and ideas, and then help the younger child work with those tools.  As the child matures, get out the way as much as possible, and let them be project/topic oriented and self-directed.  Amazing stuff happens!

3. Expose your children to culture, the arts, and the best of Western Civilization.  I suppose this links strongly to my previous tip, but it deserves singular highlighting.   Reach back in time and give to your children the best of the past.  We truly do stand on the shoulders of giants.  Let them hear the music of the past, view the art of the great masters, experience the writers of masterpieces, and understand roots and where we come from.  Our Faith has a story, a history, a witness of the trials and victories of mankind.  Look at architecture, hymns, mosaics, sculpture, poetry, plays, …. so much to dive into!  Why bother with twaddle? Why waste time on Captain Underpants, Angry Birds, or impoverished nonsense that will not stand the test of time?  Experience the originals.  It is so interesting and marvellous.  Build, bit by bit, an enormous reservoir of the best of the best.

We are quickly becoming a society of dullness, the mundane, and shallow entertainment.  There is great excitement in becoming generalists – a wide knowledge of many things and topics, makes for people of real zest and abilities.

I’m going to leave it here for now.  Just writing this has taken me down memory lane, where our family experienced such lovely learning times.  I don’t regret for a moment spending our home education days in freedom. Our learning will never go obsolete.  I’ll have to share the results of where my big kids (now all adults) ended up (so far) without any official paper trail coming out of high school.  That is another blog post!

If you would like to host a talk on this subject, email me at 4theresemcd@gmail.com

God bless you!

Attaching Hearts to Home,

Therese

ah2h long

 

 

 

How Do We “keep wisdom in view”?

Proverbs 17:24
A discerning man keeps wisdom in view,
but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

Do you have focus?  Do you have a vision that isn’t too broad and all over the place?  Do you set wise goals and keep a sense as to how they are going?

We are in a fly-by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants, world.  There is a lot of reacting, without much pondering, planning, or intentionality.   Spending time to pray, discern, and thoughtfully make decisions for your family is important and necessary.

There is great fruit that can come about when couples set time aside to make sure they keep wisdom in view and make concrete choices for their family.  I recommend two kinds of meetings.

The first involves mother and father coming together at least once per week to pray for God’s direction, to set out the week’s challenges, needs, and write down short term and long term goals.  This is a good time to evaluate the quality of the goals, how things are going, what changes to make, and what to leave be.  Assessing and weighing progress is essential.  Goals are often set without evaluation.  We can easily lose sight of our goals, lose our plan, or end up with a fool’s eye, wandering to the end of the earth if we do not revisit our vision regularly.  Create plans for the various aspects of family life – faith, each child, education, finances, leisure, work, etc.    One or two sentences in each category can contain much wisdom and keep intentional focus.

A second kind of meeting involves the children.  Meet once per week all together, discussing ideas, plans, and goals. Bring each person in on the meeting, taking time to look at each category together in team fashion.  With Mom and Dad at the helm, having already met together first, you can guide the conversation and lend your own experience and wisdom to this meeting time.   Each child can contribute toward the vision and concrete ways of staying attentive and focused on the goals at hand.

Intentional resolve does not mean rigidity.  It doesn’t mean goals bind us in some sort of strangling fashion.  Goals should free us and give us room to breath easier. Good planning anchors us, and liberates us from the sense of free-fall.  We really do better when we’ve taken some time to deliberate on God’s will, and set a course to fulfill it as best we can.  Children thrive on knowing what is next.   Direction brings security and a sense of well-being.  Make sure not to take on too much.  Keep goals simple and achievable.  Measure them as you go along.  Approach them with joy and see them as a means of avoiding foolishness and growing in wisdom.

If you think you’ve been leaving too much to chance, have been wandering rather directionless, or find your path vague and fear-filled, this can be a time to change all this. Maybe it isn’t all that bad, but you would like to tweak your goal-setting habits. Perhaps you find it difficult to make time for plans.  Making a new resolve in a better direction can happen now.  Choose out specific times to meet and begin your vision-making in the next week.  Pray and do!

If you would like to host a talk on goal-planning, email me at 4theresemcd@gmail.com

Proverbs 17:24
A discerning man keeps wisdom in view…

God bless you.

ah2h long

 

 

 

Parents, Be Faithful in the Small Things

Mother Teresa once said, ” Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”  There is a lot to think of in that short statement.

Being faithful in the small things doesn’t get much attention or give off a lot of pizzazz.  When you get up at a reasonable time, get a load of laundry done for the family, say your prayers when you are tired, wipe a nose, or read that bedtime story for the umpteenth time, is it true that these things make you stronger?  Can we really say that being the guy who mows his lawn, takes the garbage out, or carries the groceries in for his wife,  has a special kind of strength?  Does the woman who puts her smartphone down so better to listen to her child, or washes a sticky doorknob, or takes time to visit the elderly neighbour next door, somehow more resilient or formidable?

I say YES!  It really is that dying to self, the sacrificial life, the many little ways of giving, and paying attention to the details, that grows a person bit by bit into someone solid and forbearing.   It fashions the kind of strength that is noble and good – the salt of the earth.  Most of us live the kind of life that seems small, but God takes all of it and embraces it into His mighty universe.  Our small is big, our weak is strong, our invisible is visible….because HE IS.

Parents, be faithful in the small things, for therein lies your greatest strength.

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Is anyone interested in this Wednesday’s talk?

Hello!  Greetings in the Lord.  I may have overestimated interest in a talk on changing opposition to cooperation.  I have scheduled a presentation this Wednesday from 7-9PM at our residence (Chesterton House) in Mundare (1 hour East of Edmonton).

Before cancelling, I’m reaching out one more time to see if there is a need or interest.  Kindly RSVP at 4theresemcd@gmail.com.

I will be addressing the reasons behind non-cooperation in children and how to remedy it.  I’ll have a Q and A time as well.

This talk is 20 dollars per person or 25 dollars per couple.

This is an Attaching Hearts to Home presentation.

God bless you,

Therese

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Talking to Baby in the Womb

Marcs Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development at Western Sydney University conducted a study (Dr. Anne Cutler) where it was found that newborns are particularly attentive to the voices they’ve heard in the final trimester of pregnancy.  Nice to have science chiming in on this one!
It makes sense doesn’t it?  The study also relates that babies who are spoken to while still in the womb are more inclined at birth to calm for familiar voices, Dad included.  An old perception that the watery world of the pre-born prevents clear transmission of sound is incorrect.  In fact, the opposite is true – sound travels quite well.
Talk to your baby!  Pray with your wee one!  Sing, recite, and sooth.  Have siblings talk daily to the pre-born.  Dad can give a daily blessing, and words of love and strength.
What an extra joy when that baby is born into familiar voices!  What comfort and security!  What a lovely way to build early attachment!
God bless you and your day!
Therese

A Few Practical Ways to Keep Your Marriage in Good Shape

When looking back to our time of courtship, before we made our marriage vows,  we can recall how determined we were never to fight, not to let anger get away on us, and to give our best to making life harmonious.  These resolves were very good and beautiful.  Do you still believe it to be so?  This little blog posting today is to encourage you out there who may need to give your marriage a recommitment to self-control and intentional effort toward greater peace between you and your spouse.

These refreshers may seem obvious, but heroism is found in doing the day-to-day, well.

Don’t cultivate anger.  If any of you have read or seen Pride and Prejudice, you’ll recall the character, Mr. Bingley – a joyful sort who gives people the benefit of the doubt and works at making optimistic excuses for others.  What can you choose to do to see your spouse in the best light?  What interior conversation can you have with yourself to change anger to understanding?  “He means the best for me.”  “She has been so tired and giving so much of herself to the family.”   Letting the cork come off the bottle in anger makes for a type of madness.   When we let it blow, it is hard to control what we say and how we say it.  It is better to discuss things when emotions are in better control.  Do not see your spouse as the enemy.  Change the channel on such thoughts.  Do not foment anger, but rather choose to solve problems shoulder to shoulder.  Don’t let the problem come between you, but rather, approach troubles as a team.  Put anger in check.

Do not wall each other off. Communication leads to reconciliation.  As challenging as it can be, opening your heart in humility, gentleness, and with care, great growth can happen in a marriage, with real progress being made in overcoming troubles.  Walling your heart will make it such that Satan will take advantage of the gulf between you.  It is up to us to let our guard down for the sake of the other.  This means a squashing of pride, the risk of exposing the heart, and letting go of fears.  Without practicing vulnerability, we can become hardened to each other.  Being rational is a choice.

Be the first to say “I’m sorry”.   There is no guarantee the other will respond with grace the first time we apologize, but there the Lord will be where there is generous contrition.  If each is doing their best toward taking responsibility and seeking peace, it is more and more likely it will come.  There is always a way of being sorry.  Sorry for injury, sorry the other has experienced pain or sadness, sorry for misunderstanding, sorry for going over the top emotionally, sorrow for not being present….a multitude of reasons.  It isn’t hard to find something.  That “sorry” that is said with gentle eyes, and gentle words, paves the way for active love, forgiveness, and healing.

Don’t get into the blame game.  What comes out of blaming?  Escalating anger, meanness, lack of self control, and a sour attitude.  Blaming is immature.  It clogs up the works – when we blame we waste time when we could be figuring things out and coming to successful solutions.  Look at constructive questions such as “What could we have done differently?”  “What has worked before?”   “What do we most need now and for the future?”  Blaming often has roots in shaming.  You want to lift your spouse high!

Have a plan for conflict resolution. Do you have a system for how you discuss problems?  What is the pattern?  Who talks first?  How are problems presented?  What is your systematic approach for dealing with issues?  When? Where?  How?  Do you fly by the seat of your pants/skirt, or do you return to a method that works well for you as a couple?  If not, set that up, write that down, and use it.

Pray.  Your marriage needs prayer.  You need to pray together….period.  It takes three to get married.  You, your spouse, and the Lord.  Is He in the mix ?  Every day?  Make it happen if it isn’t.

If you need any assistance with your marriage, I regularly meet with couples to help them in their journey.

Email contact:  4theresemcd@gmail.com

 

Available Dates – Want to have me out for a talk?

Hello,

I’m looking at my calendar and thought I would share some dates of availability of you would like to have me come out to make a presentation to your group or gathering.  Get a dozen or so people together and I’ll be there!  The topic can be of your choice and we’ll do some Q & A time as well.

June 28th – daytime or evening.

June 30th – daytime or evening

July 10, 11, or 12th – daytime or evening

July 18th or 19th – daytime or evening

I also have dates in August.

Do get in touch at  : 4theresemcd@gmail.com

 

Be Bold in Family Freedom

I’ve been watching and experiencing, as you have, the trampling upon the freedom of family life.   It can make us weary, can it not?  All we need and want is to live according to our beliefs, our unique identity, and to receive respect for God-given parental authority and choice.

There is a need for a confident boldness in being, family.   What does this confidence look like?  It means being unapologetic for the choice to have children and the truth that families are the cornerstone of civilization.  Society, powers, economies, and countries cannot survive without families.  Whether it be the myth-makers who spout lies about over population, or those who denounce families for harming the environment, or accuse them of interfering with “real” progress by holding fast to archaic ways, namely those of surrounding belief and world view.

Our strength must not wane in face of government that wants to raise our children, that wants to create laws that we know to be wrong for them, that wants to recreate and define nature, and that forces an agenda that removes parental attachment.

Do not be afraid to speak your mind to others.  Do not shy away from stating your beliefs.  Participate in the political process – unite in holy and righteous causes.  Draw encouragement by gathering together with like-minded people so that you do not feel isolation in your family.  Do not self-censor your thoughts, your expression, your voice.  When you see or hear someone express the truth about family life, let them know you agree.  Stand with them.  Find a common voice with those who speak common sense.

Do not be afraid.  Trust in God Creator of family life, in Jesus who lived in a family and is close to you, and the Holy Spirit who breathes love into our homes.  Pray without ceasing that you retain family joy, peace, and are protected from the assault of the evil one.

If you might benefit from gathering a group together to hear me speak on the topic of Be Bold Families!, I am available to you.

Email : 4theresemcd@gmail.com

Attaching Hearts to Home,

Therese

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Thank you Lethbridge!

It was super joining a lovely group in Lethbridge at Free Grace Fellowship church.  It isn’t often I cover two major topics in an evening but we did it! 🙂  Parenting Without Punishments or Rewards/ How to Motivated the Unmotivated Child.  Several of you have said you would like me to return.  I would love that!  Thank you to Holly for organizing with J. and L. and to the K’s, thank you for your marvellous hospitality!

Until we meet again….

-Therese