If you're looking for the blog belonging to Mary Hood, author of "The Relaxed Home School", please visit The Relaxed Homeschooler. Their website is Archers for the Lord.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Importance of Staying at Home

One thing I have found to be of the utmost importance in maintaining a relaxed homeschooling atmosphere, is keeping our schedules as open as possible. Nothing stresses me out more than the pressure to be getting ready and going somewhere all the time.

As much as possible, we stay home. I believe that the simplicity of this is overlooked. Children and mommies alike need lots of time and room to, well, RELAX! And if we are driven by our outside activities, relaxation often turns to frustration.

We were very fortunate to find a piano teacher that even comes to our home to give lessons. Otherwise, we have never had music lessons away from home until this year. We started violin, but as a compromise, I asked our teacher if we could do lessons twice a month instead of every week. Two lessons less a month is a big help.

If you find yourself stressed from outside activities (or little ones who seem frustrated), maybe a schedule overhaul is in order!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Relaxed Homeschooling is About Sparking Interest--Here's an Easy Way!

Something we have found to ignite sparks of interest and learning is simply playing a game of question and answer. Years ago, I started out writing a curriculum built on the premise of using a simple question as a spring board for exploration and learning.

For example, I had a list of ten questions on a page. Questions like:

What is the fastest mammal? Name three constellations. Who was Patrick Henry?

The "rule" was that when the kids had answered all the questions on the page, they got some treat (a night out, ice cream, etc.)

But the trick behind it was that in the quest for their answer, they would become engrossed in the exploration, learning all kinds of things along the way.

I never finished the curriculum (I had added Bible verses, activities and character traits to go along with the questions), but my mother gave me a handy set of some similar questions last week.

"Brain Quest". They vary in difficulty, and I think you can get them for different grade levels.

My kids beg me to ask them questions. As I ask, I try to engage them a little further, if the question allows.

If we run across a particularly interesting fact, I may suggest that they look up further information about that subject.

I try to remember: It's not in how much they know, it's how much they want to know, and whether they can find it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Educational Play Time

Play, educational?


We're relaxed homeschoolers, don't we know that?

But often, don't we get so tangled up with "what they're learning", that we forget to nurture the soil of that learning?

Quiet time, thoughts allowed to decipher themselves, fresh air, and, even according to medical studies--"a healthy dose of magnetism from the earth", are all essential in growing our little ones.

If ever we live in a "noisy" day it is now. A recent public service announcement said, "Parents, make sure your child plays at least one hour a day."

We have to be told?

What seems so natural, so God-ordained has been crowded out with newer technology, louder toys and more visually-stimulating activities.

Put those kids outside for a good, heavy dose of play time!

"Play is the mother of creativity."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Don't Underestimate the Little Things!

There are so many learning opportunities in one day that we could never monopolize on all of them. And depending on the age of your children, everything could be turned into a potential learning experience.

Here are a few things I try to be mindful of with my littles...

  • I try to make a habit of quoting Scripture to my children as soon as they are born, every time I change their diaper. The hearing of this poetic, beautiful language builds the foundation on which memorization and literature will flourish.

  • I count when I'm with my babies and toddlers. I count everything. Fingers, toes, the stairs we're climbing, the Cheerios we're picking up ;-)

  • I use big words on purpose with my toddlers and emphasize their meanings. For example, maybe we are walking. We see a flower, which the three year old finds exquisite. She says..."Fower, mommy!" I say..."YES! Isn't it a beautiful flower? That's a clover. Clover's are exquisite (or whatever word comes to mind.) I may repeat the chosen words a few times. Don't underestimate the vocabulary base you are building!

  • Point out the colors of everything.

  • Be as detailed as possible when discussing pictures, objects, etc. (Textures, specific types, other details.)

  • I try to remember to talk out loud when I'm doing things. Small children are sponges. They want to know. So tell them! "I'm going to crack this egg and add it to the batter. See how God put the egg into this shell? When the batter is mixed, we'll pour it up in pans and cook it in the oven..." You get my drift ;-)

Reading & Vocabulary

Memorizing Psalm 105, 1-6, hopefully in time for Thanksgiving.

Reading "The Story of Our Nation" aloud to everyone.

As we read today, ship was referred to as "vessel" several times. I stopped and asked, "What is a vessel?"

I cupped my hands together and explained that "vessel" refers to a container for holding things. Then gave several examples...this cup (pointing to my coffee cup) is a vessel for holding drinks. And always pointed out that the Bible refers to us as vessels.

I tried to reinforce this "relevant" vocabulary word by prompting several more times throughout the day..."Now what does 'vessel' mean?"

Vocabulary words, in my opinion, are best learned in the context of information, rather than standing alone in a list.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Creative Science Curriculum for Relaxed Homeschoolers

Since my daughter loves to write, loves to take pictures and loves nature (particularly taking pictures OF nature), I had a great idea to faciliate her love of science (without a text book:-)

I allowed her to start a "Nature Journal/Photography" blog, which she named "Candid Creation".

She is really enjoying the challenge of researching and documenting accurate information as well as trying to maintain a command of grammar and syntax. There is something about going public that puts the pressure on...in a good way!

Not only is she hoping to learn from her posts, but also that other homeshcoolers could use her blog as an on-line directory of interesting information about the wonderful creation in which we live.
And as she discusses her exciting discoveries, her siblings learn a ton!

Just an idea you may want to adapt to your children's interests!

Of course it's always a bonus that they must learn basic computer and typing skills to blog!

What is "Relaxed Homeschooling"?

I've written in more detail about what it means to be a relaxed homeschooler in my ebook "Think Outside the Classroom".

Understanding relaxed homeschooling has a lot to do with breaking out of certain educational molds that have shaped the way we think about education.

Because most of us grew up sitting behind a desk in a classroom, with a teacher giving us information, we have perceived that as the only acceptable model of learning. But history has repeatedly shown us that the classroom setting is not only not the only way to learn, but is really not the optimal way.

Classrooms operate the way they do because of necessity; in order to coral many children and instruct them in an organized way, it becomes necessary to be more rigid.

But ideally, because we are born with an insatiable curiosity, life is best learned from through a relaxed atmosphere, not inside the four walls of a classroom.

All too often, homeschoolers try to imitate the inferior model of the classroom, only to reap frustration and dread.

Relaxed Homeschooling is the idea that learning is life, and life is about learning--all day, every day. While structure is acceptable and even desired at times, relaxed homeschooling allows us to throw off the burden of time and curriculum pressures, and embrace an all-encompassing education with God at the center.

May your journey be blessed!