Needle Movers

pressure-guageI attended a webinar the other day about “needle movers” in different areas of life. For example, the three most important factors that “move the needle” towards better health are 1) sleep, 2) exercise, and 3) nutrition.

As I listened, I began to wonder if there are three factors that make the most impact on our home schooling as far as making it most effective and successful with the least amount of stress and strain on us or on our children. (Yes, I’ve seen just about as many burned out homeschool kids as I have seen burned out homeschool moms.) [Read more…]

Coddling Our Children’s Minds

baby graduate-croppedOK, I admit it. This post is pretty much a rant.

Several things happened last week that spurred my thinking. First, my son Seth sent me an interesting article about how colleges have become so concerned with making sure none of their students are “offended” by what’s being taught that campuses are being scrubbed clean of “words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.” Just a sampling of perceived offensive statements included: asking Asian or Latino Americans “Where were you born?” (could be perceived as implying the person is not a true American), stating that “America is the land of opportunity” (could be perceived as a put-down of other cultures), or saying “I believe the most qualified person should get the job/award” (could be interpreted as a “qualification and/or racial bias”). [Read more…]

9 Essential Skills Every Child Should Learn

In my book, I Saw the Angel in the Marble, I shared that when I graduated from college I felt like I’d been prepared for a world that no longer existed. It was quite a shock to have spent 18+ years getting an education only to discover that many of the things I had been taught had no relevance to the world I found myself in after graduation. I was trained in a skill set based on the jobs that were in demand when I started school, not when I graduated.

I have a friend who works for what was once one of the largest newspapers in the U.S. Over the past five years he has watched one budget cut and layoff after another. The paper has shown a consistent loss for the past ten years and now operates on less than half of the staff it employed five years ago. And circulation has dwindled to a third of what it was just a few years ago. Why? Because people don’t read newspapers that much anymore. With the proliferation of internet news sites, smart phones, and cable TV, there are much easier, more efficient, and less expensive ways to find out what’s going on in the world. [Read more…]

12 Brain Rules for Learning

Brain RulesI recently ran across an interesting book called Brain Rules by John Medina. It’s a compilation of all the research on how the brain operates best, particularly when it comes to learning.

It’s written in an enjoyable, non-techie way that anyone can understand and apply. However (major disclaimer) be forewarned that the author does express an evolutionary worldview. But his personal opinions in no way diminish the validity of the research he shares.

Medina explains 12 “Brain Rules” that are essential to learning. I’ve summarized them below. Take a look and see if you can incorporate as many of these brain rules as possible in your home schooling. [Read more…]

Winter is a time for special projects

snow-familyWinter is a good time to set the regular books aside for a while and concentrate on a special project, particularly a unit study.

Unit Study takes a theme or topic (a unit of study) and delves into it deeply over a period of time, integrating language arts, science, social studies, math, and fine arts as they apply. Instead of studying eight or ten separate, unrelated subjects, all subjects are blended together and studied around a common theme or project and all ages study the same topic together at the same time, just at different levels of difficulty. [Read more…]

How Homeschoolers Measure Up

The content below was taken from

There’s a great infographic I’ve reproduced HERE>>

Once upon a time, all children were homeschooled. But around 150 years ago states started making public school mandatory and homeschooling eventually became illegal. It wasn’t until the 90’s that all states made it legal again. Today, with more than 2 million homeschoolers making up 4% of the school-aged population, it’s the fastest growing form of education in the country. [Read more…]

The Importance of Being Awestruck

The GiverTwo things interested me this past week.

The first was that, In anticipation for the movie release last week, I have been re-reading Lois Lowry’s book The Giver. The book was originally written, as are most of Lowry’s books, for a young adult audience, but the concepts it introduces are so profound, The Giver is on my list of books everyone should read, even adults.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I don’t want to give spoilers for either the movie or the book, but the basic premise of the story is that of a utopian society in which there is nothing but “Sameness.” The organization of the society is such that people are not much more than drones with nothing but mildly pleasant memories of their pasts. There is no concept of a history beyond what currently exists. Because of this, there is no emotional pain. But there is no real joy either.

I don’t want to be too metaphysical here, but the book really made me think about the pain of being human and the joy of being alive that offsets that pain. [Read more…]

How Handwriting Trains the Brain

writing-story-600x411Well, it’s about that time of year again—summer break! Of course, most home schooling families tend to continue some sort of learning activities during the summer, but the daily home schooling schedule falls by the wayside for a few months. And about this time every year, we start hearing about the dreaded “Summer Slump.” [Read more…]

Don’t Help Your Kids With Their Homework!

girl_studying-600x399Well, one more cherished notion about education bites the dust.

A recent article in Atlantic magazine reported that having parents actively involved in their children’s education—meeting with teachers, volunteering at school, helping with homework, rewarding for good grades and punishing for bad, and doing all the other things the PTA and school administrators have told us can help our children succeed in school—can actually be detrimental to their children’s success in school. [Read more…]

7 Common Approaches to Homeschooling

I thought this little video was cute. Dads are the best.

Back to the subject at hand…. Bookfair season. Since bookfair season is upon us and our thoughts are turning to what we are going to use in the next school year, this is the last in a series of posts about choosing materials

So far I’ve covered different ways children learn, different educational philosophies, and 10 rules of thumb for choosing teaching materials. In this post, I want to delve into the major teaching approaches you’ll find in homeschooling materials.

Sometimes when you are searching for teaching materials for your children, it’s not just the number of products that is confusing, but it’s a shock to discover that the products are coming from different ideas of how children should be taught and what they should be learning.

A home school curriculum fair is kind of like an interdenominational meeting, but there aren’t just doctrinal differences–there are different educational philosophies, different teaching approaches, and different convictions about what kinds of lifestyles home schooling families should have. [Read more…]