Friday, March 26, 2010

7 Keys of Great Teaching Inventory

The heart of Leadership Education is based on the 7 Keys of Great Teaching. These 7 Keys are principles that can be applied to many education methods.
  1. Mentors NOT Professors
  2. Classics NOT Textbooks
  3. Quality NOT Conformity
  4. Inspire NOT Require
  5. Structure Time NOT Content
  6. Simple NOT Complex
  7. You NOT Them
Keys 4-5 apply most readily apply to the Love of Learning Phase. This is the phase that La is in right now. Key 7 applies to me. Every so often I like to take an inventory of how I am applying these ~ so here it goes.

4. Inspire NOT Require

So I do a pretty good job of NOT Require. I try to not put academic demands on La and let her set her own academic goals. Right now she loves reading which makes the "productive mama" in me very happy. This is not easy for me. I LOVE worksheets & projects with defined parameters. La's brain works in just the opposite way, so it a challenge for me to let her go about her own way. But it is paying off ~ she has discovered she loves reading, history & art. I have a tougher time with Inspire. Most of what I do to inspire is interpreted by La as trying to control content. As soon as I see that glazed-over look I can tell she is shutting down to the idea and I know I need to change gears. The last thing I want is for her to develop a "hate of learning" by being is bored and uninterested. So I have found this next Key to be The Key to Inspiring.

7. You NOT Them

This Key is based in the idea that your children will rise to the level of education of the parents. It's about setting an example of a life long learner and getting a great Leadership Education yourself. When I do this I find La getting inspired. When I am setting goals, striving towards those goals, reading, writing, working on memorization, and developing skills, La becomes interested in what I am doing and dapples in it herself. The problem is the When. I am great at structuring this on paper, but mediocre at follow through. It seems there is always something happening ~ a broken washing machine, visitors, field trips, planning our history club~ that I let get in the way of my studying. It's a matter of discipline. I know it! Something to continue to work on.

5. Structure Time NOT Content

I have down NOT Structuring Content. This took a couple years to completely give up, but I have finally done it. I would go back and forth with one foot on the Conveyor Belt. I have stopped looking at State Standards and anything that tries to tell me what La "should" be learning. This has been a very freeing decision. I am with her everyday. I see her work. I know were she is ~ exactly were she should be ~ on her own individual academic and development schedule. Now, Structure Time has been a challenge. Again, I am great about writing out a schedule ~ but not so great in following it. When I do, we have great days. When I don't, our days are fair to worse. Not giving into the urgent, keeping our mornings at home consistent, disciplining myself to follow a schedule when I don't feel like it are challenges for me. It's not that everyday has to follow the same schedule. There are field trips, ski days, days we watch other children for friends, etc.. All of these things have great value and including them in our lives is a big reason why we homeschool. Still, there needs to be a balance between outside opportunities and regular home time. I would be happy with 3 consistent weekdays per week at home on a schedule. I would say this happens in spurts of a couple months at a time and then we get off kilter with something and need to fight our way back.

6. Simple NOT Complex

this Key is to say that learning should be simple. I have this one down. Our studying includes 3 methods.
  1. Reading great books ~ together & independently
  2. Me asking La what she wants to learn about and then we go about learning it through more books, the internet, games and projects which can take many forms
  3. La coming along side me in what I am studying
I don't think it can get more simple than that.

So, at the end of my inventory I come to two conclusions. You NOT Them is the key to Inspiring and in order to accomplish this, I need to develop more disciple and follow through with Structuring Time. This has been a life long challenge for me. I am so thankful I am not in it alone!

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Value of "Interruptions"

Nonna & La

March is turning out to be a crazy month. We had a wonderful visit from Chris's mother and sister this weekend. It was a huge surprise for both Chris and La. They left yesterday, so today I am looking at our week and month ahead getting reorganized. This month we have 2 more visitors. My niece is coming on Friday for a week. Cousins are coming to visit the last weekend of this month. I am so glad for all these visitors, yet when I look over our schedule I am left wondering when we will get in our study time. It seems that as soon as we settle in on a schedule and get rolling with some wonderfully inspired learning, we are interrupted. This stresses me a little, thinking that we are not getting in "enough" studying. Then I remind myself ~ one of my main reasons for homeschooling ~ The opportunity for our family to live life together. To not be separated and going in 3 different directions at once. So I decided to get down what value these types of "interruptions" have in getting a great education.
  • We practice and learn the art of hospitality. This involves putting another person's needs before your own.
"Use hospitality one to another without grudging." 1Peter 4:9
  • We learn to be flexible in our schedule and adjust to changes without an inappropriate attitude.
  • Family bonds are strengthened through tradition and time spent together. Our immediate family is in 3 different states so these visits our precious time to us.
  • When we have visitors we tend to get out there and explore our community and state more than we would if left to ourselves.
  • We create memories that enrich our lives.
  • Many of these visits involve excursions to "educational" places such as museums or National Parks.
  • Real life opportunities are created for reading (menus, maps, park guides), math (comparing new experiences to past experiences, splitting a restaurant bill, adding enough place settings to the dinner table), writing (journal writing, blogging), science (observing nature & weather), history (museums, parks, monuments), social (interacting with the community, family relationships).
I have come to the conclusion that these "interruptions" are what home educating is all about. Living your life as a family, learning and loving along the way. So, who wants to come visit us in April?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

Today our day reminded me of that children's book titled If You Give a Moose a Muffin. We started off study time planning what to do.
  • La (my 8 year old) wants to set up her own blog after seeing mine. We do this together and she gets some experience using blogger, photoshop, and dealing with how frustrating computer can be.
  • Then she is done and wants to make something with clay. She asks for some aluminum foil to use as structure for the thicker pieces.
  • She asks if aluminum is a metal. We do a little research on metals, alloys & minerals
  • She looks at our Great Scientists book.
  • Then she gets out her renaissance costume and plays in that for a while after being inspired by the people in pictures we saw about the Bronze Age.
  • After this she plays outside for a while.
  • Then she comes in and decides it's time to work on her blog. She writes a one sentence post which presents the opportunity for me to guide her in using our Spelling Dictionary, tell her about root words and remind her about plurals.
  • Then we are off to make a practice birthday cake. She wants a cake for her birthday next week that is rainbow colored inside. She reads the directions and follows through. I am their for questions and guidance.
So goes a day in a TJEd Leadership Education home with one Love of Learner. Interests running hot and cold and changing by the minute. Sound familiar?

Bloggy Beginnings

I have thought about starting a blog for a long time. Recently I decided that I needed an outlet for my own writing, a way of documenting our homeschool experience and a way showing my daughter that all the mechanics of writing have a purpose. A blog seemed like a great way to meet all these needs. I don't know if anyone will read this, but it will serve a purpose in our homeschool nonetheless.
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