Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Homeschool in the Woods

If you know me, you know that I wouldn't actually do homeschool in the woods. I'm not exactly an "outdoor" girl. No, that's the title of the history series we have fallen in love with. (yes, I just used a dangling participle. We don't do much grammar in our homeschool).

This is a Christian lapbook series focused on American history, beginning with New World Explorers. We weren't exposed to it until a friend used some of the Colonial Times lapbook for pilgrim class in co-op. We did the American Revolution, were greatly saddened (or at least I was) when I realized that we hadn't taken advantage of the Early 19th Century (call me a dork, but I was confusing it with another century!), and have just finished the Civil War.

I had one of those "You know you're a homeschool mom" moments when I went online a month ago and was perfectly giddy when I saw that they had just completed the "Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression" lapbook. Perfect! Just in time!

They also have an Artists lapbook and a Composers lapbook (we learned so much from those!) and also Old and New Testament which we have not tried but are always tempting me.

I like them because they give us lots of fun projects to do and makes history come alive for the kids. The only downside is that the text is, well, textbook like, rather than a story. I prefer living books so I supplement with those.

Our new lapbook DVD arrives next week with some friends coming from the States. We can't wait! We're such homeschool geeks.

The cover of our lapbook - we took out some projects that are supposed to be in here, and put in some that are supposed to be in the notebook, so ours is a little crammed!

Motivate me

For 6 years I have homeschooled, and for 6 years I have pondered the question, "What motivates my son?" Megan is like me - internally motivated, driven like a little hamster on a wheel both to please me and to accomplish much. She's my above and beyond girl. But Ethan? Despite his compliance and general cooperative spirit, he just doesn't care too much about school.

Until I gave him a D on his math test.

Only recently have I bothered with math tests, and not until Monday did I translate one of their scores into an actual grade. But looking at 13 out of 20 made me think, "That seems really low - what is it really?" None of his mistakes but one were caused by a lack of understanding (and honestly, that one I had to go back and review myself!). They were simply carelessness. As I look at our homeschool environment, it forced me to realize that my good efforts and desire to keep school relaxed and flexible may have swung the pendulum a little too far in that direction.

So I didn't feel badly about giving him a D because I knew it wasn't saying, "You really don't know this stuff." It was saying, "Up the ante kiddo - you can do better than this." I had no idea that it would be so motivating to him. Now he's asking me to grade everything - including spelling practice! He even suggested I give him two grades - one for whether or not he spelled the words correctly, and one for how neat his handwriting was. And even in 3 days, I have seen improvement.

We've hit on something here people. I really shouldn't be surprised. Hello? Who's their mother? I was all about grades. Now, granted, one of the reasons I like school is the freedom from things like that, but I think this is showing me the value of seeing the standard and letting it push us to do what we are capable of doing. Yay for finding motivators!