Do a little at a time

Don’t try do it all!  It is impossible and it shouldn’t be your goal.  Throughout our homeschooling journey, we have usually taken a few hours each day and only do a 4-day week, and yet we have managed to have a rich, deep and wide education all the way through to graduation.  

Keep your basic lessons short and sweet.  (I’m talking about the 3 R’s ~ Phonics, Handwriting and Maths.)  No lesson should take longer than 20 minutes for primary school children.

Once you master the basics of your curriculum, just aim to do a little bit extra.  I even added “after lunch” so that it was perceived as an extra.  (My children often fitted in this lesson before lunch so that they could enjoy a “free afternoon”.)

My theme of the day saved me from feeling that the complete schedule was too much.

Daily themes 2015

Instead , by allocating one “extra” subject per day, it felt like just a little add-on for that day. With this approach, we enjoyed a wide, varied and rich curriculum.

Don’t underestimate the power of short, informal lessons.  It is amazing just how much children learn and absorb in frequent, enjoyable exposure to all the extra subjects such as Poetry, Nature Walks, Science, Geography and Fine Arts.

It can all be done, most the time. Just do a little at a time.

Blessings, Nadene

Changes I wish I could make

Thinking back over more than 20 years of homeschooling with my daughters, these are some changes I wish I could have made sooner ~

  1. Take off the teacher’s hat.

Def.: have your teacher’s hat on

to be acting as you do when you are working as a teacher, lawyer etc., which may be different from the way you act in other situations.

ea55a13213221ebd3de36dfd7a9c4003Your professional skill as a teacher does not actually help you in those early years of homeschooling,  In fact that “school-at-home” approach kills your young children’s natural built-in joy and delight to learn.  Learn to learn alongside your kiddies and aim to be their facilitator instead.  Let them lead the way and make many more choices!

2.  Not everything needs to educational! 

Every outing doesn’t have to be a homeschool lesson. It’s okay to let life happen without a lesson plan, a notebooking page, or oral narration.  Stop focusing on end results and enjoy life’s journey together.  You will kill nature study, hymn, art and music appreciation if you make it a formal lesson.  Your teens will refuse to go into any museum!  Just trust that a regular yet informal approach will yield enormous results.

4-mother-and-child-in-a-boat-mothers-children-mary-cassatt-360x3603.  Avoid the tears!

When lessons produce tears, meltdowns, even tantrums, leave it alone.  Stop and put it aside or try something different. Tears often have a root of fear.  Find ways to reassure your child and encourage them to try a different way.  Make allowances for tired or sick or stressed children (or mom) and take the pressure off.   Just read aloud, go on a nature walk (but do not make it a formal lesson, see #2) or create art together.  Determine if your child is just not ready and try again in a few months time.  Unschool or deschool if your child has just come out of the school system and fears or hates school.  Offer a variety of opportunities to find their spark and gently encourage them to explore what interests them.

4. Be affectionate.

If your children are super sensitive, insecure or uncertain, give them more cuddles.  Even when you feel like you are wasting time and getting nothing done, just keep hugging.  Cuddle together when you read to them.  Sing together, skip together, get down in the dirt together, lie under the tree together.  (My youngest daughter often told people her favourite part of homeschooling was that she got lots of cuddles.)   Schools and systems don’t allow this physical affection at all.  Even your distant, independent teen needs hugs, or back rubs and time alone with you.  Aim to create a loving environment for your children to grow up and blossom in.

5. Relax and trust.

Just relax.  Your children will turn out great.  Enjoy each moment. Lean into their homeschooling experience without holding your breath, waiting for something to go wrong or trying hard to “do everything right”.  Let me repeat ~ your kids are all going to turn out great. Not just okay, but great.  Breathe … release those fears.  Trust.  Despite your best and worst efforts, they will be great!

mary_cassatt_mrs_cassatt_reading_to_grandchildren_postcard-r2e5db6cb5603484b8186d407360f7508_vgbaq_8byvr_324When we know better, we do better. 

I always tell my children and myself that we can always try again and start over.  When one of us has hit a wall or struggled or things don’t work out, I tell them that we can wipe out the day, like a whiteboard, and try afresh the next day.

The Lord makes all things new.  With this hope, forgive yourself, let it go and choose to do it differently.

What do you wish you had done differently?  What do you wish you could change?   Please share with us in the comments.

In Grace, Nadene

Images of one of my favourite impressionist artists — Mary Cassat

Head Hands Heart for teens

head-heart-hands-conceptLooking for balance while homeschooling your teen through high school?
A balanced view would be to find subjects, skills and activities that inspire, feed and grow your child in Head, Hands and Heart

“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”  

-Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

We should look for ways that encourage our teens to grow in every area instead of simply focusing on academics.  But since academics are what most parents consider most important, let’s start here ~ Head.

Here are some questions you and your teen should consider:

  • What does your state/ country require for highschool graduation?
  • What further study/ career does your teen intend to follow after school?
  • What are their aptitudes?  (Do online tests to find out.)
  • What curriculums/ courses/ credits are available for your teen?
  • What are their learning styles?
  • Do they prefer online studies/ tutors/ peer study groups/ working alone?

Once you have answered most of these questions, you will then need to fine-tune your teen’s high school course, and select the subjects, course material and accreditation methods that best meet your child’s preferences, as well as your state’s/ country’s requirements.

May I suggest that school academics should not overshadow your homeschooling approach.  Please leave large margins around your teen’s schedule and give them space, options and encouragement to also follow their own interests and passions, such as investigating other career options, to read a wide variety of books, or delve into interest-led subjects besides those the state or country may emphasise.  Aim to provide living books that feed their mind and soul, in Charlotte Mason style, instead of sticking to “safe”, but dry, fact-based textbooks.

Now, let’s discuss Hands ~ 

We should aim  to educate our teens in lifestyle and life skills.  All teens should manage to work with their hands, make things, create art, fix and repair things, work safely and effectively with tools and equipment.  Give them opportunities to learn and master life skills from simple chores, to running a household.  Teach them how to do their own washing, ironing, plan and cook meals, as well as baking, sewing, mending, also cover basic car mechanics, etc.  Teach them how to use power tools such as drills, saws, etc.  Include your teens in DIY projects.  Include charities and missions or service to others in some of these hands-on skills, such as mowing lawns, washing windows or servicing cars for neighbours, single moms or the elderly.   Many teens can earn extra pocket-money with these skills.  And who knows, they may even build an entrepreneur business out of this skill-set!

Allow them creatively experiment with arts and crafts, use new mediums, use different materials, copy masters.  Encourage your children to build things, from Lego robotics, to building a treehouse for a sibling.  Again, offer your teen a variety of opportunities to grow and develop themselves outside of “head-stuff” in books, tests and exam results.

Lastly, let’s talk about Hearts ~

Homeschooling your teen is a ministry to their whole person; body, soul and spirit.  Many schools and parents focus heavily on “thinking” and “doing”, but don’t concentrate on who the teenager is “becoming.”  Engage in your teen’s heart.  Build their faith, encourage their prayer life, secure their knowledge of their basic doctrines and allow them to discover and develop their unique calling, gifting and ministry in life.  Again, provide a margin of time in their schedule to attend youth groups,go on church camps, outings, join ministries, support missionaries, go on outreaches, be involved in worship teams, lead children’s groups, and so on, if possible.  Encourage your teen to watch faith-building movies and read inspiring books.  Inspire a relationship with them that allows you to hear their spiritual views, thoughts and hopes.

Homeschooling allows you to tailor-make your child’s education, and I suggest that you and your teen collaborate when planning their high school journey.  And after early years of delight-directed, happy homeschooling, don’t choose a path that is dull, dry or dead just to “graduate”.  Aim for balance.

What aspects do you recommend?  How do you manage to include a balanced, wholesome approach to your highschool homeschooling?  Please share with us in the comments.

In Grace, Nadene

Unrealistic Expectations

2014-02-18-05-10-37I don’t know about you, but my kids cried a lot in my first year of homeschooling, mostly due to unnecessary stress that I caused .   I also found myself floundering under the weight of my lofty ideals and unrealistic homeschooling expectations.

Today I want to encourage new homeschool moms how to plan and prepare so that you don’t burn out, feel discouraged or think that homeschooling doesn’t work for your family.

Plan Big

By all means, plan your homeschooling with lofty goals, aims and high hopes.  Then pray, and break it down and hone in on just one area at a time.

Introduce new routines, skills, subjects or approaches slowlyGradually encourage your children to learn and master these before adding another.

Practical Preparation

I love being practical!  (You get my blog name, right?)  I have found that if I express  my expectations the night before, my children do better the next day.  This is especially important if there is some level of anxiety about the coming activity or event.  Children can visualize themselves and plan how they will respond and react.

Here are very normal, everyday suggestions that can help elevate your homeschooling routine and prepare your family, especially after a break, illness or life interruptions:

  • Explain clearly how the next day will unfold and what will happen and how you want your child to respond.  Answer any questions and discern if your child needs to talk about their fears or anxieties.  Reassure your child with gentle encouragement.
  • Set up a specific routine for your day the night before.
  • Ease into good meal times, bedtimes and daily habits so that your days flow more smoothly.
  • Lay out breakfast and the school area ready for the new day.  Nothing throws good plans out like early morning chaos and confusion.
  • Avoid your cell phone, social media, answering phone calls or accepting interruptions.  These kill smooth, flowing, productive  homeschooling.
  • Use a timer.  Keep lessons and chores short and sweet.
  • Use music.  Nothing sets the tone of the activity quite like music.  Use soft, sweet background music for quiet times and activities that require concentration, and music with a beat for action and fast activities.

Be Specific

  • Habit training is your best friend!  Train your children in their routines, chores and activities so that your days flow smoothly.
  • Explain the details of your expectation, e.g.:

In 5 minutes, when the timer rings, we are going to pack up your toys and get ready for bathtime.”

Set the timer and prepare for bathtime.   Then, when the bell rings, help your child clean up with a song (we loved Barney’s ‘Clean up’ song) and quickly move on to the bathroom.  Moms, you must be ready and available to execute the routine with your children until they can do this with a simple prompt. Your expectation should be gradual, but you are aiming to eventually give a one word prompt like “Bathtime” and set this in motion without explanations, repetitions, remonstrations or refusals.

This will work for school too.  “

“After breakfast and morning chores, I would like all of you …. on the couch for storytime/ … at the school room starting …./  …. dressed and ready for ….”

  • For schooling, explain the activity and then show them exactly how to do it.  This is vital for handwriting, maths, spelling and new skills.
  • Help and encourage them through each step.  Repeat and work on the same activity for several days before expecting your child to do it with more confidence and independence.  For some children this may take a long time, especially in some subjects.  Put your mind at ease and simply continuing tutoring and gently urging your child through their fears.  (I had to tutor my junior high schooler side-by-side through almost an entire year of maths, but when she started her next grade, she worked independently and only called for help when she needed it.)
  • At first each subject requires your hands-on, detailed approach, but gradually your child will learn and master the work or activity and only need your quiet presence next to him/her as they learn to work more independently.

Build up

I recommend you do not start your homeschooling expecting to do the whole package.  Ease into the full curriculum gradually adding one or two subjects each week over a month.

  • Grow your expectations gradually, e.g.: if you want your children to do their work independently, first start with a hand-in-hand approach and do it with them.  Then tell them that the next time they will do it on their own, but that you will be there with them.  Only when they are working correctly and with the correct attitude, can you back off and allow them to work independently.
  • Whenever your child hits the wall or has some block, go back to where they last mastered the work and try another approach or substitute another method.
  • If your child is fearful, stressed or uncertain, take a break from the written work and do something practical, concrete or hands-on.
  • If you or your kids keep failing to achieve the goals you had in mind, stop and ask whether your children are ready and mature enough for the expectation.  If not, ease off and start at the point where they can master the activity.

Attitude Adjustment

Real parenting and homeschooling work is in addressing your child’s attitude.  This is by far the most draining, difficult aspect, and will require grit and determination to stay on point, encouraging and admonishing their best attitude and response.

Many of my homeschool days seem “wasted” with character issues that we addressed.  Often parents feel that this is a burden too hard to bear, and they feel like a failure.  But it is ultimately is our responsibility.  It may seem easier to “send them to school” than to work on the underlying issues, but this is the most important reason we chose to homeschool!

Poor attitudes may only rear its ugly head in your child’s teen years, but always address attitudes while your children are still young.  Do not accept their bad moods, negative talk and sulks and tantrums.

State your expectations in the positive,

“Next time we do (whatever activity) … let us be really positive/ cheerful/ and do our best …  / or … Next time this work makes you feel really (name the emotion) …. call me and I will come and help you and we can work on it together … /  Tomorrow when we start … we are going to (be specific and positive)  …. “

Again, in my first year of homeschooling, I disciplined my children far too much and  I expected immediate changed hearts and attitudes, but found that this didn’t happen.  I quickly realized that I needed to pray for Godly wisdom, search for alternative approaches and find the underlying causes for negativity or rebellion.  Parenting is done on our knees, isn’t it?

Fresh Beginnings

You can always start again.  When we had epic meltdowns, or fail days, I would encourage myself and my kids that we would start again the next day.  More than once, we simply stopped our work and we cuddled together to read aloud from our favourite reader, or went on a nature walk or did some Fine Arts instead.  Most new days start with hope.

The Lord is so gracious and meets us with fresh mercy and grace each morning!  Begin again in hope.  Just start small, work slowly and keep moving towards your expectations.  Don’t give up!

In Grace, Nadene

Prepare for High School exams

What Works! 

I often say to new homeschool parents,

It doesn’t take 12 years to prepare for Matric/ final exams.”

https://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/4955e-310882_285912091448900_996350184_n.jpgMany new homeschoolers worry about homeschooling through high school and how their children will cope with formal exams.  As a result, and very sadly, many new homeschool parents opt for strict curriculums that require regular tests and exams to ensure that they cover their bases.  It is really a shame to waste early homeschool years of a love to learn by following a strict, rigid, formal, school-at-home approach.

Tests and exams are used to evaluate what the child has learnt and remembered.  It is often the means to prove that the teacher is good at her job and so that parents can see specific results to show how their child is progressing.  With large classes, it is often the only way a school teacher has a good idea how each child is learning.  Homeschooling is a one-on-one approach and, especially with daily narrations, parents can immediately assess their child’s knowledge and skill set.

Over the past 20+ years of homeschooling I have used a Charlotte Mason approach for https://i1.wp.com/kibabiiuniversity.ac.ke/library/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/kibabii-exam-papers.jpgall my children until they decided how and what they wanted to do to graduate/ matriculate.  In 2013 my eldest daughter opted for a NSC Matric (National Senior Certificate = South African nation-wide public school matriculation) and she used a curriculum that required regular portfolio assignments and quarterly exams at done under strict exam conditions at home.  She only wrote her first external, formal external exam for her Prelims exams (the exact version of the final exams in the same exam venue) and these prelims helped her prepare for formal her formal exams more than anything else!

Here are some tips to prepare your children to write formal exams ~

  • Complete the work~  It seems obvious, but it is vital that you ensure that your child completes their course material and portfolio projects.  Marks given during the year are a very important part of the final mark, adding to the exam marks.
  • https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/38/0b/84/380b845b4f227133d16ca6795d3eabcf.jpgSummaries~ Teach your child to make good, clear summary notes for each subject.  Show them how to simplify summaries with mind maps/ drawings/ labels or numbers or first letters of each main point in the margins.  Use colored markers and highlighters.
  • Use past papers ~ We downloaded past papers for each subject and printed them at a printers.  It cost a bit, took up an entire box file, but it was an excellent investment.
  • Exam memorandums ~ Ensure that you include the answers to all these past exam papers. This is a vital component!  Allow your child to work through an exam under exam conditions (timer and no books or notes) and then they need to work through the results. Check the mark allocations and ensure they do not miss steps that would cost marks.
  • https://emergencypedia.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/90-0019-2.jpgUse a timer~  This is a vital skill = to first check through the whole exam and look at the mark allocation and then work out how many minutes per section.  (You can find an example here.) Do this will all past papers!  It is vital to prepare your child to keep on track in exam situations.  Many exam centres have a clock on the wall, but if your child sits far from the front, they may struggle to keep their eye on the time. Many exam centres allow the entrant to use a small clock on their desk.
  • Prelims~ Prelims taught my daughter how to write matric exams!  Read the post here. Everything was learnt in this experience = from a good night’s sleep the night before, eating a good breakfast, time needed to travel to the exam centre, comfy clothes, the necessary identity and other documents, her stationary, meeting other exam candidates, to the exam room protocol and the actual exams.
  • Manage stress ~ Exams are stressful. While studying, eat well, take breaks, exercise, stretch, meditate, write motivational notes and messages to yourself, take extra nutritional supplements and herbal nerve support.  Teach your child slow, abdominal breathing.  Pray together.  Write out faith-building scriptures and promises.
  • Join the group~ Learning with others in a study group is important, especially for isolated homeschoolers.  It may help to join some other exam candidates for an early coffee and chat to discuss issues, fears, and share important tips.  It somehow helps to know that others fear and feel the same as you!

In the end, I believe that these exams are NOT about information my highschooler may have learnt. Exams are simply a life skill = learn how to complete the course work in the prescribed format.

Dear moms with young children, enjoy a simple, relaxed homeschooling journey.  Take your time.  Enjoy your child and their unique learning styles.  Focus on these delicious years of freedom.

Wishing you and your child writing the 2016 matric exams the very best!

Blessings, Nadene

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Original PP Facebook Page Closing

At the end of this coming week, my original Practical Pages business page with be deactivated. (They cannot merge the two similar pages due to changes in Facebook policy.)

Facebook Practical PagesPlease, pretty please 1,300+ followers, would you please pop over and click to follow the new page … I’d love you to easily receive all my posts, notifications and follow interesting threads and conversations  on my new Practical Pages Facebook. 

Click and like now so that you do not miss out.

Blessings, Nadene

Painted School Room

Earlier this year I shared our fresh-look schoolroom.  I had pinned study decor ideas and hoped to paint my desk and all the bookshelves before the end of the year, and I did!

Here’s the before:Study1 Lara helped me move all the books and craft suitcases to the guest room.

During:StudyMy friend Mindy, an amazing artist and expert chalk-painter, helped me paint my desk.   She’s even making me customized glass drawer knobs to match my color-scheme!

I ran out of store-bought chalk paint and so I followed the DIY chalk paint recipes I found on the Internet and made my own using white grout.  It was rougher than the bought chalk paint, but worked just as well.  I painted the bookshelf backs in a lovely dusty blue.  Waxed and buffed, it was all done in 2 days.

And here’s the after:Study2While my kids were away, I sorted and repacked the books.  Despite my hubby’s initial comments that everything looked too white while I was still painting, the completed schoolroom looks delightfully fresh and light!

Painting with chalk paint is as easy as all the online tutorials say it is.  Quick and delightfully textured, the results were lovely!  I love it!

Blessings,

 

End of Year Activities

This year is fast rushing to a close … Christmas goodies are already filling the shops and our December summer holidays seem just around the corner.

It is also the time of the year when we conclude and congratulate ourselves for the work we have covered during our school year.

I often tell moms that I stretch a 12 month curriculum over 18 months, so we don’t always actually “finish” the curriculum each year.  At some point though, we declare official school work closed for the year and focus on these other activities.   Sometimes we continue  these activities through the December holidays as they are fun and I love my children to have something meaningful to do during their holidays.

Here are some of our end-of-year activities:
(not in any particular order … just some of the many ideas that sprang to mind …)

  • Finish any year-long project.
  • Go on outings or field trips.
  • Join other homeschool families or co-ops for an end-of-year party or activity.
  • Catch up and finish any read alouds.
  • Do all outstanding Science experiments.
  • Focus on hands-on activities and have practical fun on subjects neglected during the year.
  • Prepare an exhibition of their work and invite family or close friends to see their work.  Children love to explain what they did or present their projects and art work!
  • Hold a ‘graduation’ party.  Young children, even teens, love to receive a certificate!  Sonlight builds this aspect into their curriculums.
  • Hold an end-of-year celebration or graduation party.
  • We love to make Christmas gifts.
  • Listen to the year’s music highlights on a special playlist.
  • Watch a historical movie covering the time of your studies.
  • Create and act out a play or puppet show for a real audience.

Some administrative activities:

  • Rearrange, refresh and decorate the schoolroom.4-20150123_065037-1
  • My youngest loves to hang mobiles!
  • Prepare their new notebook files and stationary. (Look at some of our cover pages.)
  • Refresh the Theme of the Day poster.
  • File away the year’s work and store art and craft projects.
  • Review and look through the whole year’s work.  I ask my children to comment, select, highlight and rejoice over work they have done and accomplished.  I ask these basic questions:
    1. What was your favourite activity/ theme/ or topic?  Why?
    2. Show me your top 5 favourite books – read alouds or readers.
    3. What did you least enjoy?  Why?
  • I spend these weeks planning, printing and preparing the children’s school work for the new year.  (It is an exciting time , yet slightly scary time for me.  Every. Year.  Even after  +18 years of homeschooling, I’m not always sure what will work, how long it will take and if we will enjoy it.)

Remember that homeschooling is a long journey.  and just as travellers love to show their photos and review their trips, an end-of-year program  is a wonderful way to ease into the new year with enthusiasm and motivation.

Blessings in your homeschooling journey!

What 3 Ingredients?

A Food Channel on DSTV recently interviewed several famous chefs and asked,

What 3 ingredients would you have in your kitchen?

Most of them stated the obvious – basics such as eggs, milk, pork (as either ham, bacon or meat) and one insisted on the versatility of rice, but several focussed on (what seemed like to me) extravagant non-essentials – condiments, chillies, some obscure nut, spice or sauce.

It got me thinking, “What essential 3 ingredients I would have for homeschooling?”
Would it be the standard basics – open to a hundred different options – or some exotic extravagant items that would make learning unique and unforgettable?

So, at the moment, I would probably chose these basics  ~

  • my nifty little travel art set
  • Notebook with blank pages – nice large A4 hard-covered
  • A classic novel to read aloud … or an atlas ( our good old large Reader’s Digest illustrated atlas)

Back in 2007, when we were on the road for 18 months, before buying our farm, and in the ‘dark ages’ before I owned a smart phone, all our children’s homeschool basics fitted in a small onboard-sized suitcase!

This list has more than 3 items , but these basics covered every subject for all 3 children for our entire year-and-a-half travels ~

  • Footprints On Our Land (South African literature-based History curriculum – visit their website here.  I have used and re-used it and it is an amazing family friendly curriculum!)
  • An atlas, our large, blank laminated map to record our Footprints journey,  and a mini dictionary
Footprints map

Our “Footprints On Our Land” map filled with our trips in different colours, photos of family and friends and places we visited, and the circular discs for each book we read on our Footprints journey

  • Maths books, a calculator, Maths Mini Office and a maths set (protractor, set square and compass)
  • An art set (waterpaints, coloured pencils and some felt-tipped pens) to share, and a wad of blank paper
  • A “365 Simple Science Experiments” book and a magnifying glass (for nature study)
  • A Children’s Bible
  • Book of Centuries or a Timeline
  • Laminated handwriting chart

Asking my children what they would grab now as their homeschool essentials, Lara (13yrs) said ~

  • Pen, pencil and rubber, and a watercolour paint set with waterbrush
  • Maths books & Mini Office
  • Apologia Astronomy book

and Kate (16yrs) listed ~

  • Maths Mini Office
  • Black ink pen – for writing and drawing
  • Notebook with lined, blank and quad lined pages

Now, as a more techno-savy mom, many of my basics are conveniently available as apps on my smart phone ~

  • Kindle – with current ebooks, novels, and pdfs loaded
  • Bible – I use You Version, and enjoy the different Bible versions and reading plans and Bible studies.  Some good plans for teens and family devotions.
  • Dictionary and Thesaurus (download the offline versions)
  • Google Translate for 2nd language studies
  • Wikipedia
  • YouTube
  • World Atlas
  • Google Sky Map
  • Google calendar
  • Music – with our Hymns, Geography Songs, classic music to play in the background
  • Timer for Maths drills

What exotic and unusual items would I choose to make our homeschool experience amazing?

  • An amazing novel, or beautifully illustrated story book (for younger children)
  • A detailed reference book on our current theme/ topic
  • A poetry anthology book

When I asked Kate and Lara what special items they would choose ~

  • A brilliant book for read aloud (Lara)
  • A really good, classic leather-bound, genuine waterpaper sketch book (Kate’s suggestion)
  • Good playlist on the shuffle – they love to listen to music while working

What essentials would I choose for young children and kindergarten?

  • Unifix cubes (for sorting, counting, grouping, building and Maths)
  • Playdough and some cutters, rolling stick and stamps
  • Activity bags to rotate each week
  • Beautifully illustrated children’s story book and Children’s Bible
  • Large jotter for their illustrations and dictated narrations with some chubby crayons and water-based markers.

What essentials would you choose?  Please share in the comments.

Write on.

Loved Danny’s humor on the loss of cursive handwriting!

Danny Gregory

The old cliché of the teenager spending hours talking on the phone has been replaced with a new cliché: The teenager spending hours talking with her thumbs.

The positive aspect of this development: we all write a lot more than we used to, typing endless texts and emails to communicate on virtually every subject. We write a lot but not necessarily well. We have to rely on ALL CAPS and exclamation marks and acronyms (LOL! OMG!) and emoticons 🙂 to overcome the deficiencies in our vocabularies.

All this writing is really typing. The keyboard has replaced the pen and apparently for good. Virtually every one of the United States has recently changed the core curriculum for their schools eliminating a cursive learning requirement. They’ve replaced it with a mandate for keyboard proficiency.

Now, malcontents have been bemoaning the decline of handwriting since the invention of the typewriter 150…

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