What Grade Are You In?
Thursday, 13 November 2008 16:32
When an adult meets a child, it is very likely that the first question asked will be, “What grade are you in?”
For our homeschool students, the answer might be, “I’m in first grade reading, fourth grade math, and everything else is second grade” or “I get to go at my own pace, and we don’t worry about what grade I’m in.” Sometimes the real answer might even be, “It depends on the day – my mom teaches us all together, and sometimes the lessons are for my grade level and sometimes they’re for my sisters’ grade levels.”
Is this a problem? It doesn’t have to be.
When we plan lessons, we need to consider where our children are developmentally as well as what they’ve mastered in the subject. Sometimes a precocious homeschool student could move ahead and study subjects usually considered appropriate for older students. If we choose to do this, we need to make sure that the method used for presenting the subject matter fits the student’s developmental stage, even if the topic is more advanced. The same is true when our student needs to review concepts from an earlier grade level. When our expectations are out of sync with our child’s developmental stage, we’re asking for frustration, for ourselves and our children.
So a young child can understand, learn, and enjoy algebraic thinking concepts using toy animals to manipulate, but not using an algebra workbook. An older student who needs more work on basic reading can get good practice by using magazines and other materials written at a basic level, but might be embarrassed at being asked to read a book labeled “easy reader.”
Equally, when we want our children of different ages to study a subject together, we have to be ready to adapt the lesson to the different developmental needs of the different ages. A group of children may listen to the same online lecture or piece of music together. The youngest children might color while they listen, since it is hard for them to sit still and pay attention as long as the older ones. The older students might take notes in order to help organize their thoughts and develop this useful study technique. In this way, all the students can gain what they need from the shared experience.
What if your student is advanced in some areas and not in others? There’s a temptation to spend more time on the areas where the child has trouble, in hopes of catching up. Yet it is often true that the area in which the child excels is a source of pleasure for him. If he is forced to work extra on math in order to catch up with the reading that he loves, he may resent math and find it even harder, while losing some of his strength in reading through lack of practice.
In our own lives, we know and accept that there are some things we’re better at and enjoy more. We don’t expect ourselves to be equally good at everything. Yet we often do expect this of our kids.
Instead, let your student use her strengths to shore up her weaknesses. For example, if she loves science and struggles with writing, let her write lab reports about experiments, or keep a nature observation journal. If music is his pleasure and history is a chore, study history through music.
We can also recognize that our children may need more support for some subjects than others. That’s one of the advantages of homeschooling: that we can let our children work at the pace they need.
Christ gave His apostles what they were ready for, and didn’t insist that they learn and understand everything at once. This is a good example for us as eduators.
Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of LearningByGrace.org the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.
Giving Homeschoolers the Sense that they Belong
Friday, 25 July 2008 12:02
Before a child can develop these important qualities, he must have deep within himself the assurance of basic acceptance by those closest to him, usually his parents. The success of adolescent and adult with will be jeopardized if a sense of identity, of belonging, first of all to the family group, has not been firmly established in childhood. Children who are unwanted and rejected, what ever the parental defect or situation. Responsible for it, may suffer serious personality, distortion. Such children tend to be sick clues to, detached, apathetic, and unable to respond to the affection extended to them by others. They may be restless, fearful, and insecure. Sometimes they become aggressive and rebellious, as though they are out to snatch for themselves. The feeling of being wanted, of belonging, of being recognized, which is the basic to the building of a healthy personality.
Closely linked with the need for a sense of belonging is the child’s development of self-confidence and self-reliance. These are important pillars upon which growth toward maturity rests. Self-confidence is the awareness one has that he is in the world for a purpose which he alone can fulfill. That duty requires that he applied himself to the God-given task self-assurance. “I can” are two magic words which are the “open sesame” to life. At the same time, we must remember that, although it is important for a child to be in himself, it is also important for him not to be too easily convinced. We want our children to know that they are not the only people of importance in the world.
Frequently the amount of confidence a child has in itself is not determined so much by his real abilities as by his attitudes towards himself and his abilities. Faith in one’s self begins with the feeling, “I am all right”, “I am a person of worth”. “I do have assets.” “I do have strengths as well as weaknesses.” “I am a person worthy of respect.” Children first learned these attitudes from the parent’s attitudes towards them. The parental attitude is not always expressed in words that may be communicated to the child long before he can understand the meaning of words. A parent smile of approval, the tender way in which he handles the baby, but parents efforts to make the telecom triple, he’s responding to the child needs, his expressions of love for the child, the tone of voice in which he speaks to the child. These are all the ways in which the parent tells his child how he feels about him. These actions, as well as the parent spoken word, provide the primary source from which the child learns his attitudes towards himself.
In a process of growing up, inevitably the small child encounters many failures and mishaps. He spills his drink, he break the glass, he takes his mother’s cherished roses on her most prized Roche rose bush, thinking that he is doing her a favor. In the midst of such happenings, even the most well-meaning child may become discouraged and feel that everything he does is wrong. It’s such accidents as these are minimized, if they are treated as casually as possible by adults who understand that the child has not made these the state to the Britney or with malicious intent, the child will bounce back and will soon recover his self-respect. He will find that his 17-year-old put it, everybody spills his milk sometimes.
No factor is more important in successfully teaching the child’s self-confidence than the example set by parents who have flexibility in self-assurance, who know how to savor the sweet experience success, as well as how to bow to the bitter experience of defeat. Small child who has observed that his parents are not snobbishly dependent upon the favorable opinions of others. And that they know how to admit failure is receiving a first class method in the art of building self-confidence. Children naturally imitate parents ways of dealing with problems. The child who has legitimate reason to believe that his parents attacked their problems enthusiastically and with verve, even though they do not always succeed, has his own self-confidence reinforced. Albert Schweitzer. When asked how he could best pass on to their children the proper attitude toward self-confidence and responsibility, said there are three ways. One example to example and three example.
Some have raised concerns that the founding self-confidence can cause the child to become egotistical and prideful. Experience with children seems to show that this is not usually the case, unless there has been inculcated in the child a false concept of his abilities and of itself. On the other hand, it is the bully, the boastful braggart, was most likely to have feelings of inadequacy. His overbearing manner is simply his way of concealing his belt inapt myths and insecurity. Usually the competent child does not have to wage campaign to convince itself, and others, of his abilities. Of course, all children are given to bragging at times. The times when they’re most likely to post, however, come one errantly self-confident. Listen to your own children. If you hear them say such things as I don’t know whether I can do this or not, but I’m going to try hard: let’s think about it and maybe we can find a way to do it: let’s talk it over with daddy. Maybe he can give us an idea about how we might swing it, you know you are busy growing self-confidence.
em>Mimi Rothschild is the Founder and CEO of Learning By Grace, Inc., the nation’s largest provider of online K-12 Christian homeschooling programs and homeschool Christian curriculum. For more information about how online homeschooling is revolutionizing homeschooling, please go to www.LearningByGrace.org today.
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Questions Before, During, and After Reading: Part 2 of 2
Thursday, 15 November 2007 10:18
By Mimi Rothschild
Here’s part two of “Questions Before, During, and After Reading.” I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
How Can You Stretch Students’ Thinking?
The best way to stretch students’ thinking about a text is to help them ask increasingly challenging questions. Some of the most challenging questions are “Why?” questions about the author’s intentions and the design of the text. For example:
“Why do you think the author chose this particular setting?”
“Why do you think the author ended the story in this way?”
“Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from the point of view of the daughter?”
“What does the author seem to be assuming about the reader’s political beliefs?”
Another way to challenge readers is to ask them open-ended question that require evidence from the text to answer. For example:
“What does Huck think about girls? What is your evidence?”
“Which character in the story is most unlike Anna? Explain your reasons, based on evidence from the novel?”
“What is the author’s opinion about affirmative action in higher education? How do you know?”
Be sure to explicitly model your own challenging questions while reading aloud a variety of texts, including novels, subject-area textbooks, articles, and nonfiction. Help students see that answering challenging questions can help them understand text at a deeper level, ultimately making reading a more enjoyable and valuable experience.
As students become proficient in generating challenging questions, have them group the questions the time they were asked (before, during or after reading). Students can determine their own categories, justify their reasons for placing questions into the categories, and determine how this can help their reading comprehension.
When Can You Use It?
Students who have similar interests can read the same text and meet to discuss their thoughts in a book club. Members can be given a set of sticky notes to mark questions they have before, during, and after reading the text. Members can then share their question with one another to clarify understanding within their group. Since students’ reading level may not necessarily determine which book club they choose to join, accommodations may need to be made, including buddy reading, audio recordings of the text, or the use of computer-aided reading systems.
Good writers anticipate their readers’ questions. Have students jot down the questions they will attempt to answer in an essay or short story before they write it, in the order that they plan to answer them. Stress that this should not be a mechanical process – as students write they probably will think of additional questions to ask and answer. The key point is to have students think of themselves as having a conversation with the reader – and a big part of this is knowing what questions the reader is likely to ask.
Students can ask questions before, during, and after solving a math problem. Have students think aloud or write in groups to generate questions to complete performance tasks related to mathematics.
Use before, during, and after questions when beginning a new chapter or unit of study in any social studies topic. Select a piece of text, and have students generate questions related to the topic. At the end of the unit of study, refer back to the questions and discuss how the questions helped students to understand the content.
Use before, during, and after questions to review an article or science text. You can discuss articles related to a recent scientific discovery with students and then generate questions that would help them to focus their attention on important information.
Lesson Plan: Questioning, The Mitten
This lesson is designed to introduce primary students to the importance of asking questions before, during, and after listening to a story. In this lesson, using the story The Mitten by Jan Brett, students learn how to become good readers by asking questions. This is the first lesson in a set of questioning lessons designed for primary grades.
Lesson Plan: Questioning, Grandfather’s Journey
This lesson is for intermediate students using the strategy with the book, Grandfather’s Journey, by Allen Say.
Lesson Plan: Questioning, Koko’s Kitten
This lesson is designed to establish primary students’ skills in asking questions before, during, and after they listen to a story. You can help students learn to become better readers by modeling how and when you ask questions while reading aloud the true story, Koko’s Kitten, by Dr. Francine Patterson. This is the second lesson in a set of questioning lessons designed for primary grades.
Lesson Plan: Asking Pre-Reading Questions
This is a language arts lesson for students in grades 3-5. Students will learn about asking questions before reading and will make predictions based on the discussion of the questions.
Lesson Plan: Asking Questions When Reading
In this lesson, the teacher will read The Wall by Eve Bunting with the purpose of focusing on asking important questions. The students and the teacher will then categorize the questions according to the criteria for each.
Daycare linked to Misbehavior
Thursday, 29 March 2007 09:30
By Mimi Rothschild
In other news, new study shows water found to be wet. In all seriousness, it gets my goat that the results of this study would be considered surprising. This eCanadaNOW report explains:
A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class — and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade.
Parents, your children’s formative years are not worth it. Even if you can’t make those mortgage payments without a second income, consider finding work that would allow you to be at home taking care of the children.
The New York Times hits on an even more pressing issue, and one that should raise eyebrows among homeschoolers:
That the troublesome behaviors lasted through at least sixth grade, he said, should raise a broader question: “So what happens in classrooms, schools, playgrounds and communities when more and more children, at younger and younger ages, spend more and more time in centers, many that are indisputably of limited quality?”
If daycare centers are linked to bad behavior, couldn’t we extrapolate and assume that elementary schools are as well? I don’t need to conduct a scientific study to tell you that the average homeschool student is better-behaved than the average public school student.
As a society we’ve come to assume that the natural way for children to grow and develop socially is through constant peer-to-peer interaction. While peer socialization is important, parent-to-child socialization may prove to be more critical. Homeschooled children look up to their older siblings and parents, desirous of their maturity, knowledge, and social status. This is a good thing!
Public schooled children, on the other hand, spend a majority of their waking hours for twelve straight years surrounded by peers who are no more mature than they are. How can we expect our children to transcend behavior problems when we place them in such an environment?
Service Learning Pt. 1
Thursday, 1 March 2007 16:55
By Mimi Rothschild
I would like to take an opportunity to discuss an interesting supplement to a homeschool education: Service Learning. Wikipedia defines service learning as follows:
Service learning is a successful method of teaching, learning and reflecting that combines academic classroom curriculum with meaningful service, frequently youth service, throughout the community. As a teaching methodology, it falls under the category of experiential education. More specifically, it integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, encourage lifelong civic engagement, and strengthen communities.
Service learning has several benefits.
- It helps the community
- It gives students an invaluable learning experience
- It is great for resumes and college applications
- It fosters personal enrichment
- It gives Christian homeschoolers a servant’s heart.
When Christian homeschoolers go out into the community to learn, they are given a hands-on experience. They are able to apprentice under experienced volunteers. Even public schools have adopted similar programs where students are required to spend a certain number of hours each year involved in community service.
There are a variety of opportunities for homeschoolers to reach out to those in need and learn something in the process. I will be listing specific opportunities throughout the next few weeks. Feel free to submit your ideas for service learning activities.
Children of the State
Thursday, 1 February 2007 13:26
By Mimi Rothschild
Religion and Ethics has a transcript of a PBS special on home education featuring advocates such as Bruce Shortt and Voddie Baucham.
The show highlights opinions from both sides of the playing field. A professor declares that homeschool students are not well socialized. Another claims that the government has an interest in ensuring that homeschool children are exposed to beliefs outside of what their parents believe.
I don’t think that most homeschooled children run the risk of not being exposed enough to ideas that oppose their parents’ worldview. Every single media outlet is constantly sending messages to our children that conflict with a Christian worldview.
What Professor Reich is essentially saying is that its the government’s responsibility to make sure your children believe what’s right and what’s wrong on their terms. There is a “You birth the babies, we’ll take over from here” mentality.
He claims that he does not want to see homeschooling banned. Yet he argues that parents should be forced to expose their children to ideas that are antithetical to their own. Although I think it’s healthy for children to understand what the world thinks, I think that’s a decision that’s up to the parent. Yes, there will be kids lost in the system. There will be occasional abuses. Some kids will graduate from their homeschool program with poor social skills. However, that’s no reason to throw so much red tape down on homeschooling that it hampers all of the “good” homeschool parents.
Bruce says it best:
SHORTT: I think it’s ironic that someone with an obviously authoritarian agenda is attempting to lecture others, and unfortunately education seems to be one of those areas in which the failures astonishingly insist upon trying to regulate the successful.