All Ag Online

Posts Tagged reading

Realistic Charlotte Mason – How My Journey Began

by Catherine Levison

[Catherine is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the Charlotte Mason Method, having authored three books on the topic for Champion Press and appearing, to overwhelming praise, at numerous homeschooling conferences and book fairs around the country. Please see Catherine’s contact information at the end of this piece, if you wish to contact her. -- Mary Leppert]

Nearly twenty years ago I met my first homeschooling parent. We were introduced to one another in a parking lot. I was a working mother of two, she was the homeschooling parent of five children. I was positively dumbstruck by the lifestyle she had chosen and I am fairly certain my attitude and facial expressions showed it. No, I was not hostile toward her choice but I was bewildered. Stupidly, I asked her a series of questions which she answered graciously and confidently. She provided me with the opportunity to see for myself that people, real people, were taking on this responsibility. Up until that point I had only heard of homeschooling through the media and it had remained a mere concept in my mind. She put a face to what was then only recently legalized in my state of Washington. What the two of us did not know that day was how drastically both of our lives were to change and how quickly those changes were coming.

Within a year I had a complete conversion from working mother with one child in public school and one in diapers, to the very different life that is homeschooling. The brief meeting in the parking lot in no way prepared me for the task and I never had another opportunity to talk with the woman I met there. No, I was on my own and I was at a loss right from the beginning. Phone calls were placed to my State Authorities, pamphlets and catalogs were delivered and I had begun the process of research.

Soon after, I attended an extremely large Home School Convention and I will admit to the overwhelming emotions I experienced and fought against there, amid the curtained booths. I will further admit that I withdrew from the crowd and cried. Under normal circumstances I view myself as capable and confident, but it was clear to me that I had no idea what I was going to teach or how I was going to cover any of the basics in education. My exact problem was this: There were too many choices, approaches, methods and merchandise offered. Ultimately I made my choice and could hardly carry the materials back to my car. I was ready for my first year of homeschooling, or so I thought.

Burnout hit me like a runaway logging truck that first year. Yes, I said “first year.” Having barely endured it, I enrolled my children in the closest public school the following summer and sat back waiting for September. Just before the leaves started falling off the trees and the yellow buses began showing up in the neighborhoods, I had a sudden change of heart. I could not do it. I had thought I had made the correct choice but evidently the enrollment was a mistake. I cancelled that at the last minute and began homeschooling year number two.

Of course, I asked myself what had gone so horribly wrong that first year that I had wanted to quit. For me the answer was clear. It was the materials themselves that I had chosen. They were dry and boring. They did not inspire, they were incapable of that. Soon I learned about a completely different goal that came along with a multifaceted approach created by Charlotte Mason. She represented something new and foreign but it got my attention. In her writings she spoke of the love of learning. She insisted that it was the very key to education. She went further than that, however. Mason claimed that the love of learning was in my hands and was in fact my responsibility. But who was she and more importantly did she know what she was talking about or not? I was very skeptical and wary, having spent an entire school year covered in the dry dust of boredom.

Charlotte Mason, who she was and who she was not, are both important topics to me. Because she was born in the 1880s and wrote prolifically in her native country of England, many have come to think of her as a lace-covered Victorian, drinking tea by firelight in her parlor. Tea may have been her beverage of choice but that neither concerns me nor intrigues me in any way. In my second book, More Charlotte Mason Education (Champion Press), I previously had this to say.

“I keep a quite different impression in my mind. I imagine a sturdy pair of muddied boots with some otherwise sensible clothing to equip her for the field. Her frequent walks across the English countryside in all kinds of weather are well documented. I’m sure she was every bit as feminine as the next lady but I can visualize her casting off the bits of lace and other unnecessary fluff when it was time to head outdoors. My imaginings were somewhat proven true by this description of Charlotte’s college, ‘The actual surroundings, the books, the pictures, the simple furniture and wild flowers for decorations were a revelation in themselves in those days when the world lived in a crowd of ancestral treasures or the unutterable hideousness of the Victorian age.’ (Charlotte Mason College, p. 17) Personally, I love antique furniture, books and houses but the fact that Charlotte lived and wrote in another time is not the sole reason I’m interested in her teachings.” From More Charlotte Mason Education.

Rather than concentrating on what era she lived in, I instead, looked hard and long at what she was teaching parents and educators. I researched for the practical and the realistic applications that would benefit me and I found her to be ahead of her time — or maybe better yet — her concepts about children and education were themselves timeless. They were true, regardless of the century in which any given family lives.

With the love of learning firmly planted as my foremost educational goal I tackled the second school year with mostly new and far more interesting materials. That in itself helped to a large extent, but I had much to learn.

Mason’s methodology contained hundreds of ideas and techniques and a mountain as huge as this cannot be understood and applied overnight. Due to my fear of the unknown and my natural tendency toward skepticism, I held on to many standard practices used in teaching, such as the common textbook method. I used those and some other “school at home” concepts side-by-side with Mason’s. Slowly and carefully I tried one technique at a time. With my house quickly filling with Charlotte Mason’s original articles and books, I was able to read thoroughly on a topic and turn right around and try them on my guinea pigs — I mean, my children. When I found one tip or practice after another working better than I could ever imagine, I was the very happy mother of very happy children. My personal escape from early burnout and my apparent contentment was noticed by people in my community and soon I was making public appearances and writing books. I set a standard for myself at the outset, when I approached the task of helping others. I only write about homeschooling tactics and solutions that I have actually tried and found success with. And, as a firm believer in individuality, I have never pushed an all-Charlotte Mason Method for anybody at any time. Instead, I highly recommend taking the techniques provided and morphing them to your heart’s content. I know from personal experience that the practical aspects of this method are adaptable and are easily applied to any other style of educating, whether structured or unstructured. It also does not matter how many tips and tactics you implement — applying one or two at a time to whatever approach you already use is ideal and it will not feel like a drastic alteration.

That brings us to my foremost goal with this article: Realistic homeschooling is what I have lived, written about and I am certain it is what you are living, too. Parenting itself can be frustrating at times and so can teaching your own children. I prefer to acknowledge that for both you and myself. Accepting that you have limitations is realistic and it reminds me of how a person who has suffered the amputation of an arm or leg does not deny that this has occurred. Instead they acknowledge it and compensate for it to learn new techniques to cope with it.

Fantasy and escapism have their place in our lives, the dentist’s chair comes to mind, but to live there day after day is not practical. Typically, all parents face challenges and frustrations, even more so when they have taken on the responsibility to home educate. I have lived this. I have also lived a very busy life. In that light, I have always attempted to visualize my audience and what I see when I do so, is a busy person much like myself. I write for the busy parent who wants practical answers to his/her very real problems.

Let’s look at it this way: Picture your mailbox. There are two envelopes there that are not junk mail or bills. That’s a bit exciting right there. It turns out you have received two invitations to attend two different parties. One is printed on gray paper with black ink. Everything about it is boring, including the location, the theme and food. The other invitation promises diversity. Even its layout and colors are interesting. This party promises to be fun and promotes wonderful, delicious food and lively music. It appears to be an exciting and interesting time and now you do not want to miss it. You even look forward to it as you mark the date on your calendar. Now, picture your children and ask yourself which invitation to a homeschooled education do they want to receive? There is, and always will be, a boring way to present something and a far more intriguing, interesting way to do the same thing. That is one of your tasks. Out with the boring; in with the love of learning.

Not too long after that meeting in the parking lot, I also became the homeschooling mother of five children. This unforeseen possibility became my lifestyle. It was to become one of the most meaningful choices I have made in my life and has brought much fulfillment to me and my family. What happened to the first homeschooling mother I ever met? What was her drastic change that she had no foreknowledge of? She died of a brain aneurism quickly and without warning. She was very young and so was her family. Her husband, the father, took sole responsibility to homeschool the children. She was not able to mentor me or let me observe her teaching at home; she did not even recommend a book to me. But she did have an impact on me. A quick meeting between cars, my first homeschooler, taken at an early age, has taught me this: To value life, even when it’s difficult. To continue raising my children as best I can and not give up. To live each day to its fullest, while still allowing time for rest. To appreciate all of it. For that, I have a lot to thank her for.

Share

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Analytical Grammar – Complete English Courses for Success

3810-201 Lunceston Way
Raleigh, NC 27613

www.analyticalgrammar.com

(919)783-0795

 

Jr. Analytical Grammar, 11 “weekly” lessons Gr 4-5

Jr. AG Mechanics supplemental book

Beyond the Book Report & Essay and Research Paper – a middle-school-age writing course

Analytical Grammar – 2-year or 3-year course, books & DVD lessons and reinforcement & review materials, Gr 6-12

 

Analytical Grammar (AG) is a complete, broad spectrum series of books that cover every level of this important academic subject from 4th Grade to high school and beyond! Nothing is more important for academic and professional success than the myriad skills that come under the umbrella of “grammar”. If a student is mathematically challenged, there are calculators; if you are grammatically challenged, there is no pocket help and it is quite visible and significant. Your intelligence and knowledge will shine through a highly-developed ability to write, and grammar is the underpinning of all writing.

 

Robin Finley, creator of AG, is a knowledgeable teacher who has written her courses with deep awareness of the pitfalls and obstacles that students face in mastering grammar – one of the “scariest” subjects in school or out! There are many aspects of grammar: Punctuation, spelling, parts of speech and their usage, then applying these bits to effective writing techniques.  Her book “Beyond the Book Report” is a very valuable teaching tool, covering book reports, essays of all varieties and research papers. Being comfortable with writing a research paper or topical essay will make college and other upper-level academic work enjoyable. Even in the professional setting, knowing how to research and put it all together is a tremendous skill. Of course, mastering essay writing will help with the SAT and other such exams. These skills are acquired through clear instruction and practice. AG’s methodical approach of presenting the basic concepts and examples, then moving along to the next one, while reviewing the previously-learned material, helps your student reach mastery at the end of the academic experience. Eventually, a person makes habits of using correct grammar and can keep them for life! Please visit the website, www.analyticalgrammar.com for complete information and ordering. MjL

Share

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Six Ideas To Encourage Summer Reading

When summer break comes around, you couldn’t stop some book-loving kids from reading if you wanted to. But what about children who still struggle to read? What can you do this summer to encourage them? Here are six simple ideas:

 

  1. Keep reading!
    Even if you take a well-deserved break from other studies, most children benefit from continuing to read every day. This could mean sharing a read-aloud together at bedtime, having your children read to you, or setting aside 20 minutes a day for everyone to grab a book and read silently.

 

This steady little bit of work each day can pave the way for a reading breakthrough. It also keeps your kids from losing whatever reading confidence they’ve built up over the school year.

 

  1. Read to a dog
    Several different studies show that reading out loud to dogs can help kids gain confidence and fluency in reading. A quick Google search for “Reading to Rover” will turn up interesting studies and various library programs around the country.

It seems that kids love the fact that the dog won’t judge them, won’t correct them, and listens with endless patience. Plus, these pets tend to calm children who would otherwise be nervous about reading out loud.

 

So if you have a cooperative dog at home, consider encouraging your children to read one-on-one to their furry audience.

 

  1. Let your children read books a notch below their ability level
    Sometimes, we eager mothers want our children to push themselves all the time. But when you’re helping children fall in love with reading, that may not be the best strategy. It’s often better to let them read books that might seem too easy for them.

You want great stories to draw your children in so they’re compelled to keep going. But when kids are frustrated because they struggle with each page of a book, they will probably miss the joy of the story. They may decide that reading is an unwelcome, unrewarding chore.

 

But if children are allowed to read exciting books a bit below their ability, they will slowly gain confidence and (we trust!) eventually catch the reading bug. When that happens, they’ll probably shoot ahead and start choosing harder books Better to lay a foundation for the love of reading before pushing too far ahead.

 

  1. Check out audio books for long road trips
    Summer road trips are the perfect opportunity to catch some great books on CD. Just head to your library and check out some audio books before you take off.

 

When my husband and I would take the kids on car trips, I used to get audio books from the library and a small CD player for each child. The only thing we’d hear from the kids for hours on end was, “Can you pass me another book?” I must say, it’s a nice way to promote reading … and some peace and quiet in the back seat.

 

  1. Join (or create) a summer reading program
    Whether or not your kids are already hooked on reading, they might enjoy a local reading program. With fun events and prizes, these programs can have great influence in getting kids to read. If your local library or book store doesn’t host a program, consider creating your own. A simple sticker chart with some basic prizes (such as an ice cream cone or a special date with mom or dad) could be all that you need for some serious reading fun this summer.

 

  1. Model reading for your children
    Don’t forget to pick out some great books for yourself, too. When your children see you enjoy reading on your own, it helps them realize that reading is a worthwhile activity. So don’t feel guilty for heading out to the porch with a good book this summer. It may actually help your children!
Share

, , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

The Reading Game – Learn-to-Read Game for Ages 4 and Up

www.thereadinggame.com

 

Ph: 877-826-3782

Allsaid & Dunn

2727 De Anza RD, Suite SD21

San Diego, CA 92109

 

By Janet Esposito

 

The Reading Game is an amazing tool for all homeschoolers learning to read. Whether you have a pre-schooler, who is ready to move on from pictures, or if you’re teaching the basics to your kindgartener, or even if you are looking for resources for your struggling reader – The Reading Game is for you.. After completing all the levels of The Reading Game, your student will be able to read 180 new sight words. And it meets criteria for four skill sets in the Common Core Standards for Language and Literacy Arts. Although it may sound too good to be true, this program has been field-tested in a variety of settings (both in public school and homeschool settings) with amazing results.

 

There are six color-coded levels to progress through in The Reading Game: Skunk (red), Snake (orange), Bear (yellow), Penguins (green), Unicorn (blue), and Zebra (purple). Each character has cards to play the “matching game,” 3 large flashcards, and a book. All the materials are extremely well-made, user-friendly, and contained within a small box. The stories are fanciful and fun – perfect for sparking your young reader’s imagination.

 

Begin with the Skunk set (all red materials) – the match game cards, flashcards, and book. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the words that will be studied in the matching game, the flashcards, and the book, before you begin to play. Start with the first five words of the matching game cards (can, cat, is, me, and not); these cards are all red, with a skunk, and the number one. First, mix all 10 cards up and then place all of them face down on the table. Select two cards at random to begin playing the “matching game” with your student. Each player should read the words out loud as they pick cards during their turn. Repeat this process until your student has mastered these five words — but keep in mind this is not a race. Students should continue playing Game 1 (and every other Game) as long as necessary.

 

After completing the Skunk (red) Games 1 and 2, show your student the corresponding flashcard. The flashcards help students transition to short sentences, while introducing capitalization and punctuation. This is also an opportunity for you to assess your child’s learning so far. Those students able to read the flashcard then move on to play Games 3 and 4, then the 2nd flashcard; and then work on the last flashcard after mastering the words in Games 5 and 6. Once they have learned the 30 words contained in all the matching game cards, students can apply these new words to the Skunk book.

 

Students move on to the Snake (orange) materials after finishing all 6 Games for the Skunk level. The process is repeated and students learn 30 new words playing Games 1-6 for the Snake level. The 30 words learned previously are also incorporated in the Snake materials, bringing your student’s total progress to 60 words after finishing the Snake book. Each new level continues to incorporate the words learned in the earlier levels, allowing students to apply their knowledge throughout the entire process. The frequent play and fast-paced nature of the matching game stimulates students’ long-term memory; providing your student with the knowledge and confidence to successfully read the book at the end of every level. Kids also love the sense of accomplishment and constant positive reinforcement they enjoy through play. It’s not school, it’s a game!

 

For more information, including ordering information, supplemental worksheets, pricing, and more, please visit their website at www.thereadinggame.com. In the “For Educators” section, you can find pre/post assessments to better understand your student’s reading level. Try using the Pre/Post Card Game Sight Word Assessment before and after each of the six card games. You will be amazed at how far your student progresses and it allows you to identify any challenging words s/he may encounter. JE

Share

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

The Reading Game – Learn-to-Read Game for Ages 4 and Up

www.thereadinggame.com

Ph: 877-826-3782

Allsaid & Dunn

2727 De Anza RD, Suite SD21

San Diego, CA 92109

By Janet Esposito

The Reading Game is an amazing tool for all homeschoolers learning to read. Whether you have a pre-schooler, who is ready to move on from pictures, or if you’re teaching the basics to your kindgartener, or even if you are looking for resources for your struggling reader – The Reading Game is for you.. After completing all the levels of The Reading Game, your student will be able to read 180 new sight words. And it meets criteria for four skill sets in the Common Core Standards for Language and Literacy Arts. Although it may sound too good to be true, this program has been field-tested in a variety of settings (both in public school and homeschool settings) with amazing results.

There are six color-coded levels to progress through in The Reading Game: Skunk (red), Snake (orange), Bear (yellow), Penguins (green), Unicorn (blue), and Zebra (purple). Each character has cards to play the “matching game,” 3 large flashcards, and a book. All the materials are extremely well-made, user-friendly, and contained within a small box. The stories are fanciful and fun – perfect for sparking your young reader’s imagination.

Begin with the Skunk set (all red materials) – the match game cards, flashcards, and book. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the words that will be studied in the matching game, the flashcards, and the book, before you begin to play. Start with the first five words of the matching game cards (can, cat, is, me, and not); these cards are all red, with a skunk, and the number one. First, mix all 10 cards up and then place all of them face down on the table. Select two cards at random to begin playing the “matching game” with your student. Each player should read the words out loud as they pick cards during their turn. Repeat this process until your student has mastered these five words — but keep in mind this is not a race. Students should continue playing Game 1 (and every other Game) as long as necessary.

After completing the Skunk (red) Games 1 and 2, show your student the corresponding flashcard. The flashcards help students transition to short sentences, while introducing capitalization and punctuation. This is also an opportunity for you to assess your child’s learning so far. Those students able to read the flashcard then move on to play Games 3 and 4, then the 2nd flashcard; and then work on the last flashcard after mastering the words in Games 5 and 6. Once they have learned the 30 words contained in all the matching game cards, students can apply these new words to the Skunk book.

Students move on to the Snake (orange) materials after finishing all 6 Games for the Skunk level. The process is repeated and students learn 30 new words playing Games 1-6 for the Snake level. The 30 words learned previously are also incorporated in the Snake materials, bringing your student’s total progress to 60 words after finishing the Snake book. Each new level continues to incorporate the words learned in the earlier levels, allowing students to apply their knowledge throughout the entire process. The frequent play and fast-paced nature of the matching game stimulates students’ long-term memory; providing your student with the knowledge and confidence to successfully read the book at the end of every level. Kids also love the sense of accomplishment and constant positive reinforcement they enjoy through play. It’s not school, it’s a game!

For more information, including ordering information, supplemental worksheets, pricing, and more, please visit their website at www.thereadinggame.com. In the “For Educators” section, you can find pre/post assessments to better understand your student’s reading level. Try using the Pre/Post Card Game Sight Word Assessment before and after each of the six card games. You will be amazed at how far your student progresses and it allows you to identify any challenging words s/he may encounter.

JE

Share

, , , ,

No Comments

The Parental Approach Part 2

[Excerpted from The Homeschooling Almanac 2000-2001 Chapter 4, Copyright 2012 by Michael and Mary Leppert. All rights reserved.]

In Part 1, (12-21-12 issue), we discussed how we raised our son, Lennon, using what we call the Parental Approach. This second part covers some of the actual nuts-and-bolts matters you face as homeschoolers, such as using curriculum, etc.

 How Will I Know Which Curriculum to Choose?

This is a tough question for us to answer with our parental approach background. This is because you may consider one or two of the subjects we valued and taught to Lennon a complete waste of time. Or you may value something highly that we didn’t teach at all. The parental approach is completely individualized. But remember that we started with a boxed curriculum, heavily supplemented with storybooks and workbooks on various topics, until we grew into this experience. Our growth into homeschooling included talking to many, many other homeschooling families, reading countless magazines and catalogs, attending conferences and curriculum fairs, and shopping in educational and regular bookstores for things that caught our eyes. Some great-looking materials were dismal failures once we tried teaching with them—some dumbed down, others were not what Lennon responded to.

If I, Mary, had it to do over, I wouldn’t change a thing. The boxed curriculum gave us a great outline and high-quality, well-written materials to learn with, as teachers and pupil. After the second year, we began customizing our core work materials. By then, we had a clear picture of what subjects to teach Lennon, what would come in the near future, and what would come after that. We can safely say that we saw what his learning career looked like up to high school and somewhat into high school. Math considerations were determined by whether or not Lennon decided to “play the game” of college entrance (as David Colfax puts it). . . he did not.

Determining the Direction of Your Curriculum

Our family had compiled a curriculum we were very comfortable and satisfied with, chosen from among the many fine materials available to homeschoolers. Before using some of these materials, we tested them a little bit, doing a lesson here or there or the introductory lessons to see if we liked the entire program. Remember, however, that these are personal choices—as much so as favorite styles of clothing, food, entertainment, and friends. The materials that make up your child’s curriculum will become a part of your family for the years you use them. A poor fit can lead to negative, unproductive experiences common in mass-school.

In schools, most subjects are taught not when the child is ready, but when the system is ready. Schools group children by age, not because children of that age are magically capable of learning a particular subject, but because that is best for the system and makes crowd management easier.

As parents, we agreed that the ability to actually reason (rather than merely form opinions) and to discern is the most important intellectual quality. There are many excellent books available to aid you in teaching critical thinking and reasoning. For reading, we are firm believers in teaching the phonics method as opposed to whole word or whole language. In our experience, those who have learned by the phonics method are usually better spellers and overall better readers than those who learn with any other method.

I want to finish this article with some questions and answers from the Almanac that may shed light on your particular situation.

Q.  Am I really a good influence for my child all day long?

A.  This is an ironic question, but one we hear from parents all the same. We think it reflects a truly humble self-image, which is admirable but for its blind spot. What makes you think you are any less a good influence than a teacher who is doing his or her job? Or a group of children your child’s age? Any way you look at it, for better or for worse, your child’s destiny is to be your child, which includes your being his or her main influence. Just as your child has your genetic makeup, she or he should have your cultural and societal makeup as well.Homeschooling is also a wonderful reason for spending time to better yourself. The better you are as a person, the better parent you’ll be. So if you’re not the best influence for your child, become so!

Q.  What if I don’t feel qualified to teach my child myself?

A.   This is a frequent concern. Virtually every instructional book available—for math, English, history, writing—is self-explanatory because homeschooling is a do-it-yourself field. Many book/learning material companies are owned by homeschooling families; others want to court the vast, growing market in home education. These companies provide detailed instructions for the successful use of their products. Any parent with average reading comprehension skills can successfully teach his or her own children.

As a sidelight, most teachers at conventional schools don’t choose their own curriculum, but are assigned a curriculum selected by the school board or administrator. Teachers present textbook material to 30 or 40 children in a classroom each day, moving them through the school year on time. Homeschooling your own children is very different: The parent and student have much more time together, teaching is one-on-one, you can use your time more effectively and you can always ask someone else to teach a subject  if you find you don’t know it. This applies mostly to upper level math, where a math tutor comes in very handy.

Q.  Are all subjects taught in school really necessary?

A.  No. In some school districts the curriculum is determined by the school administration, based on a well-thought-out philosophy of what children need to learn to be well-rounded; in other districts, the decision is based on what books are available at a discount; in others, there are other forces are at work. But even well-thought-out and well-meaning educational philosophies can be “wrong” for your family or your child. That is why getting to know yourselves and making decisions based on this knowledge is important.

We had to find out the homeschooling style that felt most comfortable to ourselves and our family as a whole.

We sincerely hope that this article aids you and enhances your homeschooling journey. ML

Share

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments