Oak Meadow Curriculum Giveaway

Remember the awesome iPad Giveaway DenSchool had a couple weeks ago? What an amazing organization and now they are partnering with others to giveaway something to help prepare your curriculum for next year!

We have teamed up with DenSchool and Teaching with Cents to bring you this great giveaway from Oak Meadow! Enter today on the Giveaway Tools form below.

One lucky reader will receive a Complete Curriculum Package (of their choice) from Oak Meadow. Imagine that, everything you need for homeschooling your child next year – for FREE!

Complete Curriculum Package Review

Oak Meadow has specialized in homeschooling curriculum for 35 years! They are committed to providing creative, innovative, and child-centered educational materials that can be utilized towards every family’s needs and routine.

We believe that true intelligence arises when children are given opportunities to engage not only their heads, but their hands and hearts as well. Our curriculum includes assignments that ask children to read, write, and think, and also to paint, draw, play music, write poetry, and build things, encouraging balanced and healthy development.

Oak Meadow

Have you begun planning your next homeschooling year and not sure where to start? Stop by DenSchool to read reviews for some of your favorite curriculum packages! There, you will learn all about Oak Meadow and what this great giveaway has to offer you!

Visit DenSchool’s Oak Meadow Reviews

DenSchool has reviewed curriculum packages for Grades 3, 4, and 6 – with an 8th grade review coming in August!

Contest Information:
*This great giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada, ages 18+.
*Giveaway ends on July 24th at 11:59 p.m.
*DenSchool Contributors, immediate family members, and group giveaway bloggers are not eligible to enter DenSchool giveaways.

IPad Giveaway from DenSchool

ipad-homeschooling

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

….and you could learn anywhere with a

brand new IPad Mini from DenSchool!

 

DenSchool makes online schooling easy breezy with FREE lesson plans, Creative Learning in a Pinch (CLIP) and tons of resources to make learning fun, creative and easy to manage.

Record keeping  & Lesson Planning · Online Courses

DenSchool provides free tools, record keeping, lesson planning, downloadable courses and live classes for homeschooling families. Record keeping can be concerning, but you can take control with fast and easy to use online tools which will help with your state’s record keeping requirement.

Summer Classes Start June 17th – (Early Bird Discount!)

This summer DenSchool will be offering self-paced, teacher supported classes. Some of the classes are Accounting, Algebra, Art, Beginner Guitar, Social Studies, English, Science, Journalism, World History….the list goes on and on. Remember these are not just for High School learners. Normally these classes are $59.00, but if you order by June 10th the cost is only $29.00; that’s more than a 50% savings!  These classes offer flexibility; with a 9 week format and learners are free to complete the class at their own pace taking more or less time. They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all the courses.

mobileSchooling

Creative Learning in a Pinch (CLIP)

CLIP classes are free and there are some fun ones to choose from….Remember National Doughnut Day on June 7th? Oh boy we did in this house!  While we enjoyed the doughnuts, it would have been more fun to have a lesson. From Summer Solstice to 4th of July there are lots to choose from.

 

 

So what are you waiting for?

 

Oh the places you’ll go with an IPad Mini and

4 DenSchool Online Classes from DenSchool.com!

Ready to win? Enter here!

 

Note: This is a sponsored post by DenSchool. Please see a full disclosure on giveaways.

 

 

Summer fun!

I’m all about sharing BLOG love and ideas, and I couldn’t pass these two ladies up. As I started writing a “to do” list for this summer of fun activities I’d like to share with the kids I ran across this post: Summer Lovin Bucket List for the Pacific NW!  Oh the places we will go…. some of them I forgot about, some of them we’ve done….and some I’ve had on a wish list for a while. Hopefully we can cross off a few more, and add a few of our own (like Olympic Game Farm Park in Sequim, Wa.)

As I was reading that post, I came across making Glow in the Dark Bubbles! Our twins will be all over this one, as they love to play at night. We might even do the glow sticks in the pool this year, so they can swim well into the night.

We’ve been doing a lot of work in our yard so we can spend the summer having fun and not laboring in the hot weather. our strawberry plants have finally flowered – and boy are there a ton! Yesterday the Hubs spent sometime securing a fence so the birds and the rabbits don’t chomp them down before we get a chance to. This is one of the kids favorites so it will be great for them to hop out and grab a chemical free snack. In the meantime, we’ve had a few bbqs with friends and family the last couple of weekends and have noticed the mosquitos have gotten bad. So, in an attempt to try to keep a bug free back yard…. I’m thinking of trying this homemade mosquito trap…hope it works! We’re trying to attract humming birds, butterflies, lady bugs and pollinating bees; as well as keep out wasps, yellow jackets and mosquitos…. the battle of the bugs! 🙂 Should be interesting….

Enjoy the day! Namaste.

Second Chance Ranch & Rescue

We took the opportunity, on the recommendation of a friend, to take a home school class out at Second Chance Ranch & Rescue in Rainier, WA. It was truly a treat to take the girls out there, they had a great time!

As soon as we got there we were greeted by teacher/trainer Amy. The girls were both very excited, as they carried around their bike helmets their eyes got bigger and bigger with all 50+ beautiful horses they had on the property. However, after walking around, Emma generated a certain bond with a particular horse. This kindred soul was called Greatful – a retired race horse, 18 hands in size, strikingly gentle and handsome, from a local racetrack in Auburn. Katie took the time to get down to E’s level and talk to her about how it was ok to cry and be scared but that at one time Greatful was afraid of people as well – just like she was afraid of him. E trusted Katie enough to let her teach her how to feed Greatful a carrot, and once E accomplished that she bonded with Greatful, and Katie, with ease. Even after looking at all the other horses she didn’t want to be with anyone else but Greatful. E’s spent the rest of the aftenroon writing about Greatful in her journal, as well as telling her story at dinner time.

K, a little braver, wasn’t quite as afraid to feed the horses, until she had two carrots in her hand and walked by five horses in stalls to get to a white horse she desperately wanted to feed. As she was walking by, all the horses tipped their heads out of the stalls and because she is so tiny she was face to face with all of them. As a parent, looking at it, it was a tad funny because the horses all new and wanted what she had in her hand. However, in her little mind all she knew was when she zigged a horse came down to greet her, and when she zagged a horse said hello! Amy came right over and explained to K that the horses wanted the carrots and they thought she was going to give them. She took K over to the white horse and fed it. On the way back around the barn, the horses were still checking her out, but this time she thought it was pretty hilarious and went and got more carrots to feed her new friends.

K had one more hurdle to overcome in riding. She was so excited, but when she got ready, standing next to Greatful she panicked. The more she panicked, the worse her Sensory overload became. It became so much that she was rocking back and forth in my arms and shaking. Amy and Mommy to the rescue. I lifted K up and took her over to Greatful and had her put her hands on the blanket under his saddle. Amy stepped in and softly spoke to Kayla explaining the Greatful was also afraid at one time, but to try touching different parts of his saddle and shoulders. As soon she was at the same height as Greatful and touching him and the saddle she started to calm down. I told her she wouldn’t get another chance to ride because I was afraid she might go through this again. Amy walked around to one side and I lifted K up and as soon as she was on the saddle, her entire self just relaxed and a huge shine came over her face. I went to go walk with her and she said “No, MaMa, you can stay – I got this.”

I was really blown away by not only those situations with my kids, but the time the staff took with all the kids. Amy taught the kids about grooming the horse and gave them each a chance. She explained about the farrier and horses nails. She talked about saddles, what they eat and exercise. The kids had a ton of questions and she patiently answered all of them. After riding they were treated to a show by another horse from Germany called Konjak (I thought it was Konji, but the twins have promptly corrected me!). He did addition problems, played hide and seek, gave hugs and kisses and poses for pictures. What a great group!

Amy, the trainer, and Katie, the owner, were amazing with all the kids. They both have a lot of education and experience with kids and animals. They both took the time to help the girls over their fears and created a sense of confidence. The classes are more than reasonably priced, as well as the riding lessons. While we only took a beginning class, we will be heading back to take a few more classes.

Please go out and visit, or contact Amy or Katie for the next class. They also offer riding lessons at a very reasonable rate. By visiting them, not only are you supporting local business, but your supporting a cause near and dear to our heart, animal rescue. We promise, you won’t regret it!
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Inspiration

The school year is on the horizon and while I feel our own sense of overwhelming lists of things to do, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate our personal path and all those people I spoke to, and those I didn’t who made a conscious choice about their children’s education this year.

While many know I’m a staunch supporter of structured alternative schooling so kids can explore their desire to become what they want to be as an adult, some don’t know that I struggled with my own decision to homeschool our kids. I spent three years before they were even school age researching the best methods for educating children from private school, public, charter, Montessori, co-op, private tutor, homeschooling, the list goes on…. As it came closer to the time to make a decision I acted like I was very self-assured in what I was doing, but inside I was quivering like a leaf in a windstorm. What I learned this last year is that it isn’t about what you know, it’s about what you believe you can do. If you have confidence in the fact you can teach your kids, you can. If you trust you can’t teach your kids, you can’t.

When I hear people say “it takes a Saint to homeschool” I snort internally and think what a smug declaration. I’m no Saint, I’m a parent – who is strong-minded (and that’s an understated use of a word) to provide a healthier opportunity at life for our kids than what we had. Teaching your kids is about desire and passion for an improved future, and understanding it’s a journey – putting one foot prudently in front of the other as to not dive off the cliff, but just skate the edge – learning all the while. And by the way, when you ascend the cliff of teaching your kids and you get ½ way through the year, you’ll pat yourself on the back in reflection and say – “damn, I knew I could do this, I just had to do it”.

Providing alternative education for children in a country where education gets a lot of lip service for enhancement, but not a lot of achievement by politicians is a mandate. Your child’s education must be taken control of by you as the parent – not left to the government. I’m not anti-government, when I hear from US friends living in Norway, Germany and Korea that their kids are receiving a better education in a foreign country than most US children obtain – how could you ever expect your child to be marketable and a contributing member to society if they can’t compete with others in their own generation. The answer is merely that you must handle your child’s education, the government has tried and failed – with no accountability – to get the US to be competitive in education. Hopefully that will change, but for now it is what it is. I’m not a proponent of waiting around and seeing, I am a proponent of current action and the ability to be flexible if circumstances change.

The bottom line is this – educating your kids on your own without a net is scary as hell. I promise you this though, for selfish reasons it’s the most enlightening, heartwarming, educational (no pun intended) and freeing experience you will have the privilege of being involved in. Helping your child to understand a subject and seeing the light turn on, watching you when it all connects or seeing them follow their passion and develop is worth every second of giving up your career, self-doubt, self-sacrifice, second guessing, sacrificed purchases, coupons clipped, personal shopping trips given up, date nights missed, hours of sleep gone, lack of inspiration, hair pulled out, frustration ridden days and tearful arguments with your spouse over life changes. It’s worthy every ounce of everything you have to give because every child hungers to become what they aspire to be, and if your role in that is alternatively educating them, isn’t that the least you can do to help them succeed?

“I shall argue that strong men, conversely, know when to compromise and that all principles can be comprised to serve a greater principle.” – Andrew Carnegie

Parent/Teacher Role in Home Schooling

While I love the fact that we home school, being new to this I have struggled with the boundaries between the parent and teacher role. I want to be an excellent parent and when I think of that I think of someone who is compassionate, caring, encouraging, loving, kind, and supportive; challenges their children, supports growth, requires respect and good manners, but allows freedom and independence while encouraging alternative thinking. Aren’t those the very same qualities I would look for in an excellent teacher? Yes.

Over the last seven months of home schooling, I’ve learned that there is a blurred line between teacher and mother. I always thought they would be well defined. Prior to becoming aware of this I allowed myself to go over without transition into the role of teacher. Murphy’s Law number one, without a bit of a defined change there is chaos. I would feel overwhelmed by wanting to answer every question, pay attention to every whim, listen to every story, read every emotional queue and sometimes that just isn’t reality. Now I say to the girls, we are starting school, I need you to put on your student hat, raise your hand, wait for others to speak and we will address each need one at a time. This I feel is a teacher role, not a parent role. As a parent, I juggle 100 balls up in the air and deal with them all at once and hope not one falls. As a teacher, I must recognize the difference between vying for Mom’s attention and true needs for assistance and support. I find by explaining to them that we are now in a student/teacher situation eases their transition as well. It generates a verbal definition of transition and helps them to respect each others learning boundaries. As my daughter says “no questions are bad questions” and I agree, but learners need to encourage each others growth – not have  a competition to see who can speak the loudest to get the attention first.

Some naysayer will say ‘don’t you provide that same time and attention as a mother?” The answer is yes, I do, but defining boundaries during school makes all of us more successful. As with life; work, home, education, family – everyone has boundaries and transition it’s part of life and it gives us room and energy to evolve.

“Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The First Six Months of UnSchooling

Our family has flourished during the first six months of home schooling; completing Kinder and moving to 1st grade. This is intriguing/interesting because when we started the process of home schooling I was petrified as to what the outcome might be. Would my kids hate me? Would I be able to get them to concentrate? Would they absorb any of what was being presented? Would I run screaming at the end of the day out the door with my hair on fire as soon as my husband walked in the door? Am I providing them with the right lessons? None of that happened, we had good days and we had bad days. After experiencing Kindergarten and having success, I see that we are more of “unschoolers” than I thought. Our unschooling is a way of providing our children with curriculum, but still emphasizing on life experiences, rather than what’s in the text book. After all when stuck in a deserted mountain range, your kid is not about to pull out a “How To Survive Being Lost in a Mountain” book, their going to remember back to life experiences and draw on those tactics for survival.

Unschooling a child teaches them to be as effective as possible and provides them with critical thinking skills, feeding natural curiosity, building self-esteem, being open to learning, and many other attributes which are crucial to development. The idea is to become educated about what the child is passionate about, not just sit and “do school”. We have materials which are provided to us, and we loosely follow those materials – but then there are always those questions – as in when we began to learn about the human body including skeleton lay out, bones, blood, skin, muscle etc… this prompted one of the twins to ask – “how are dogs made? How do dogs work like humans?” Did I squelch this and say it’s not part of what we were learning today? No I used this as fuel for learning and said “let’s table this and work on it next.” We did and there was a greater excitement to start school the next day. Since that day our child’s favorite subject is Science and as of the last six months she’s determined to be a Vet when she grows up. Will that change? Probably a hundred times before she graduates. Had I ignored her request to veer out in a different direction with the lesson who knows what spark I might have put out? My motto to them has always been question everything; ask every question you want – there are never too many questions. (Believe me they’ve tested me on this theory!)

Developing critical thinking in a child is difficult because many studies show that portion of the brain is not fully developed until after college begins. Critical thinking is the process of being able to reflect on lessons or actions and then take those and build upon or alter them to better suite your current situation. It reminds me of what my college professor said once about always evaluating the evidence provided and be willing to question everything; even yourself, your historical assumptions and your own expectations and evaluations of the outcome. “Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.” (Bob Bhaerman) Critical thinking is difficult for many adults; and I see now having had this as a core part of my degree – that often this is because it was not encourged and developed upon during childhood. Our children’s quality of life, which is most important to every parent, depends on nurturing ciritcal thinking and real life experiences.

I’m not saying to answer your child’s every whimsical fantasy, but I am saying be reasonable and nurture curiosity, encourage questions and move beyond what is given to follow your child’s lead. This encouragement leads them out into the world with the openness to ask questions and seek answers just like George Washington, Joan of Arc, William Blake and Clara Barton (Teri Ann Berg Olsen). As I read in an article once: “Learning is learning whether or not it’s planned or recorded or officially on the menu. Calories are calories whether or not the eating is planned or recorded or officially on the menu.” (Pam Sorooshian)

http://www.americanhumanist.org/What_We_Do/Education_Center/HELP/2_Critical_Thinking/2.1_B/Developing_Critical_Thinking

Teri Ann Berg Olsen, http://www.famoushomeschoolers.net/

http://pamsoroosh.wordpress.com/

Well Hello There…..

Last year I decided to take on the project of writing a BLOG. Not just for my kids and their historical record, but to share stuff we do.From homemade laundry soap to a trip to Zoolights we shared it.  That’s what we humans do we share stuff and build community. So after a year on another BLOG service I find not all BLOG sites are created equal. So here we are landing at WordPress….

Writing a BLOG is not an easy thing to do in my opinion. Other of my blogging friends make it look so easy – I have to wonder what their process is. There are about 500 things I want to write about, so trying to shift through the ideas is like trying to get sap out of a maple tree in January. From cooking and gardening to teaching and volunteering there are so many things I’ve experienced this year and so much I’m looking forward to this year it’s difficult to know where to start.

Also when you’re a Mom champions a family of 5 humans and 2 pets  you wonder if your typing and sending thoughts out into the space of the universe actually makes a difference. I’m not looking to type the next BLOG that ends up on the Today Show, but I am looking to share experiences. I find often as an avid reader of books; it is those authors I relate to whom share real life stories which I find have similarly happened in my own life. From the mother who has the screaming toddler in the middle of a major shopping chain, to the frustrated step-parent whose hands are tied, the first time parent of twins, to the person who has a mother in law from hell, to the nervous homeschooling parent and the wife/partner who wants to have a fulfilled relationship with her spouse. We’ve all been there and we all have stories to share, it’s just how much your willing to show  in public.

I hope as I begin to build this blog someone will find comfort, inspiration or share their own stories.