Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Enrich Calendar 2015-2016

We know we have just celebrated the Fourth of July and our homeschooling schedule is the farthest thing from most of our minds....yet some of us await this announcement with as much anticipation and excitement as for fireworks! (Drumroll, please.....)

The Enrich calendar for the coming year is ready for viewing!! :)

All silliness aside, just click on the link below to go to the calendar. As always, any questions, please email pat.martelle@gmail.com

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Enrich Calendar 2015-2016

Friday, June 26, 2015

Seven Tips for Curious Learning

 By Karen Andreola

A pudgy one ’n-a-half-year-old holds his toy telephone to his ear, listening intently to its stop-and-go tune. He presses a button, talks gibberish—impersonating his mother remarkably well. He toddles across the room with his phone to his ear like his mother who tidies the house with a dust cloth in one hand, her telephone in the other. I laughed when I saw it. The toddler is my grandson. Not only is he cute, but he also provides a good illustration. Curiosity and imitation are active in young children. Children are sponges, natural learners, eager learners, nosey and inquisitive. This is what the nineteenth-century Christian British educator, Miss Charlotte Mason, aimed to safeguard in her students. She took advantage of this child-nature by tailoring a method of passing along knowledge that keeps the doors of curious minds open. Here are seven tips I gleaned from Miss Mason for a happy, curious lifetime of learning.     

Tip #1

Choose individual books for general knowledge.

An author with a special interest in his subject will write a book with juicy details—details left out of a typical textbook overview. Such a book has the power to open the doors of a child’s mind in ways no textbook can, because it may be full of facts, the same facts found in a textbook, but the information is presented in literary form, in a more palatable and memorable way. An example of an author who delivers facts through literary genre is Holling Clancey Holling. You can find his books in most public libraries. They have been around since 1926. A student, the average age of 10, will be intrigued by the combination of story, facts, illustration, and extraordinary detail. Paddle-to-the-Sea, Tree in the Trail, Seabird, and Pagoo are four of his titles. Add up the details and it might surprise you how they surpass those of a textbook. A wealth of such books is available on a myriad of topics. Freely and confidently use them as legitimate schoolbooks. 

Tip #2  

Take advantage of the talking recourse.   

When a child enters a first-grade classroom he is trained to sit still and be silent for long stretches of time. In the homeschool he has more opportunity to chatter. Like tapping a sugar maple for its sap, Charlotte Mason took advantage of this talking recourse. She replaced the classroom lecture with reading aloud. The authors of well-written, carefully worded books were the teachers. She believed in a child’s ability to narrate (to tell back in his own words what is read to him) to be an amazing gift that every normal child is born with—and the best way to gain knowledge from books. To spark a narration, use a short but meaningful passage such as an Aesop fable, for example. To get the quiet child to say more, simply ask, “What else?”

Over time, the skill and power of narrating will carry over beautifully to the student’s writing ability. Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and true-and-false tests do not facilitate writing. In the homeschool we can replace these classroom conveniences and the teacher’s lecture with the intelligent chatter of narration from books.

Tip #3 

Do some science in the fresh outdoors.

Lessons are only as long as they need to be in the homeschool. When one lesson is completed, the next is begun. With a student’s full attention, a string of lessons can be accomplished in nearly half the time of a conventional school schedule—and with no after-hours homework. Time is available for getting outdoors.

Once a week, my children and I would take a nature walk for firsthand observation. We’d record a nature find with a sketch of it, be it insect, wildflower, bird, etc., and keep a field guide handy to identify it. The find might be as common as a dandelion, ant, pinecone, or robin. “Look, Ma, a butterfly landed on my sweater.” Nature poems abound. The time taken to choose a relevant nature poem to be copied into a Nature Diary is time well spent for English.

Tip #4 

Cultivate an appreciation for art and music.

I home-educated my three children through high school. These now-adult children meet with friends who were not home-educated and are sometimes struck with how words call to mind different associations. In conversation the name Leonardo was brought up in reference to a painting on a Christmas card. A friend blurted out, “Oh, I didn’t know Leonardo could paint.” She was referring to an American actor. My children thought this was funny. The sad part is that the friend knew nothing whatsoever about the Italian Renaissance artist, Leonardo Da Vinci.
A simple way to become familiar with some of the world’s greatest works of art is to open the pages of an art print book. Art appreciation provides children a storehouse of beautiful or thought-provoking images. Charlotte Mason recommends we display six pictures of one artist’s works throughout a semester. Let the children look and look and then describe what they see. No fancy or expensive curriculum is needed.

Music appreciation is just as simple. Pop in a CD of greatest hits of, Bach, Vivaldi, Scott Joplin, or Gershwin. Play a composer’s music while you wash dishes, travel in the car, draw, or give the little ones a bath. Classical pieces and folk tunes are part of our cultural heritage. Art and music appreciation will inoculate your students against grotesque noise and images they are sure to stumble upon in their lifetime.
Tip #5 

Read history that has muscle.

In the homeschool we are free to look for heroes in history. History has much to teach us about the choices of mankind and the consequences that result. The sacrifices made, the human struggle for discovery, the perseverance of invention, etc. give us hope that there are people who care to make a contribution to the world, care about future generations. Who are these people? What did they believe? To keep history from being dull or flabby, its pages need to be inspiring. History with the muscle of right versus wrong will help children develop their own willpower to do what is right, to choose to follow God and to do it with all their might. We can highlight our history curriculum with “hero admiration.” The Bible, biography, and historical fiction can supply inspiring heroes whose virtues children may choose to emulate. “Character is king,” said Ronald Reagan. It was a priority with Charlotte Mason as well. 

Tip #6 

Instill good habits of quiet discipline.

The homeschool is an ideal place for instilling “habits of the good life.” Charlotte Mason tells us we can instill one habit in children at a time, keeping watch over those already formed. It is remarkable what routine and good manners will do for the atmosphere of the home. Saying “thank you” and “please,” sharing, taking turns, and waiting patiently can all become habit. Speaking the truth in love, using determination, counting our blessings, and remembering others in prayer are virtuous actions that do not need strenuous moral effort once they have become habit.

A mother strives to be consistent. She knows a habit needs her watchful eye until it is formed. The greatest care will be at the onset. But once formed, the quiet discipline it brings is worth all the effort.

Tip #7 

Keep growing, Mom.

To keep from feeling weary or overwhelmed, the home teacher can take part in what I call “Mother Culture.”® Homeschooling is a parent’s responsibility and noble pursuit, but children need to see that there is life outside of homeschooling. To dabble in an interest brings refreshment to a mother’s soul. How about rummaging in your closet for the red wool you purchased three years ago to knit that hat? Let the children see that Mom can take her own nature walk, sew a curtain, memorize a psalm for Thanksgiving Day, go on a “field trip” with Dad, or enjoy any number of recreations of her choice that demonstrate to her children that life does not so completely revolve around them. Delicately pour into your cup diversions of the enriching kind—small portions yet regular servings. Keep growing into the person God is creating you to be. Your cup will overflow into the family circle.
Home educators know Karen Andreola by her groundbreaking book A Charlotte Mason Companion. Karen taught her three children through high school--studying with them all the many wonderful things her own education was missing. The entire Andreola family writes product reviews for Rainbow Resource Center. Knitting mittens and sweaters and cross-stitching historic samplers are activities enjoyed in Karen’s leisure. For encouraging ideas, visit her blog:  www.momentswithmotherculture.blogspot.com.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The registration process for our Spring Session has begun! The Class Grid is available for viewing by clicking on this link: Enrich Spring Class Grid
Teacher Registration Documents are due Wednesday, February 11. Returning Family Registration Documents are Due February 16. New Families will register during Enrich on Thursday, February 19. If you (or anyone you know) are interested in joining us, please email pat.martelle@gmail.com
Our Spring Session dates are March 5, 12, 19, 26 and April 2, 16, 23, and 30.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Winter 2015 Class Grid

The Enrich Winter 2015 Class Grid is now available for your viewing pleasure! Our Class Development Committee and Teachers have put together a great variety of classes from which to choose! Head on over to the google doc by clicking on this link.......

Registration emails to Teachers will be sent this evening. Teachers' Registrations are due back by 5 pm Wednesday, December 3. Registration emails for returning and new families will be sent Friday, December 5, 2014 and are due back to pat.martelle@gmail.com by 5pm Tuesday, December 9. 

If you would like more information or a registration email, please contact pat.martelle@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Homeschooling When Money Is Tight

By Mary Hood, Ph.D.

This is the first of a two-part series. This article will focus on the years up to age 12 or 13, and the September issue will deal with making it through the teenage years on a tight budget.

The first thing you have to do is get over your fear of operating without a set curriculum. The Bible has many promises that tell us that “all things are possible with God.” Stand on those promises, trust your mom’s intuition, trust your kids’ desire to learn, and trust God! You can do this! Stop saying you can’t, because that will be a hindrance as you try to help your children develop a healthy level of confidence in their own abilities.

Second, you have to lose the assumptions you are carrying around from public school. Yes, you will “miss something” once in a while. That’s okay! No, your children will not have horrible consequences if they aren’t exactly on “grade level.” Focus on developing lifelong learners with skills to continue learning as they become adults. Try to forget all those assumptions you are carrying around from your own public school days, set some worthwhile goals, and get busy having some relaxed, joyful learning experiences!

Next, without believing you have to do things just like the schools do, identify the basic subjects that you want your children to learn. Then plan some free or very inexpensive ways to help children reach the goals you have set for them. Following are some examples/suggestions:

1. Reading. This one is simple. Use the public library! Don’t say it is too far away or that your children are too little. When I was in elementary school I walked (alone) more than 2 miles to get to the nearest library to get my weekly fix of “Cowboy Sam” books. Do you live in a rural area? Find out if a bookmobile visits your area regularly, or go once a month and load up! Just read, read, read . . . and make sure most of the books are real books you can hold in your hand, whose pages you can turn, and which your children will learn to love!

E-Books may have their place, but I don’t see them fostering the love of books the way that a printed-on-paper one can. When your children are small, read to them. Learn about good authors, and above all, don’t kill off their love of reading. When something isn’t working, back off before damage is done.

2. Are your children not reading yet?1 Remember that not everyone learns at the same speed or in the same manner. Do phonics work? Get some cheap workbooks from the grocery store, or make up your own phonics games. He isn’t “getting” it with phonics? Maybe your child isn’t ready, or maybe, like my oldest daughter (who graduated with an English degree and is a freelance writer/counseling master’s student), he or she will never be able to learn with phonics. Relax. Be flexible. Keep reading to them until they are able to do it themselves, and then . . . keep reading to them!

3. Writing? Language arts? Abraham Lincoln didn’t use a grammar book and managed to write the Gettysburg Address. Reading will lead to writing. Just have them write about their experiences, edit a little at a time with common sense, and watch the literacy build!

Is spelling an issue? Don’t worry about it too much when they are this age. If you want to do a little something, you can make your own lists out of words they misspell, or have them do spelling bees in the car.

4. Math! Before the age of 12, the key is to build their understanding and the basic skills. Just consider what those math topics are: an understanding of numbers (setting the table for 4 people . . . oh, wait, the grandparents are coming tonight, that makes 6) and time, measurement, and money (buy a real digital watch, measure in the garden and the kitchen, use an allowance to teach money management). Practice adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, working with fractions, and using decimals in daily life situations. Always strive for understanding.2  

Use Cheerios and M&Ms to group and focus on understanding that 3 x 4 means three groups of four . . . and 4 x 3 means four groups of three—and you’ve just taught the commutative property of multiplication! Use some grocery store workbooks to supplement your instruction, along with lots of real-life experiences.

Fractions can be taught with pizza and apples and a few little workbooks once they get the idea. Dividing can be understood first, then learned and practiced a little with the long-division algorithm, and once they really understand it, let them use a calculator. That’s what adults do!

Forget the pre-algebra for now. We’ll talk about that next month.

5. Science and social studies can be taught through relaxed unit studies. If you need ideas, look at curriculum materials and make a list of topics. Pick one in each area, and focus on those two things for a month. For example, in science, you can study natural things, such as insects, snakes, birds, the weather, rocks and minerals, or dinosaurs. Follow your children’s curiosity to learn about things.

Get some good non-fiction books from the library, and set up a learning center with an aquarium, terrarium, binoculars, and a bird feeder. Consider diving into topics like earthquakes or tornadoes or something like levers and pulleys or mechanical things for the upper elementary years. Use a combination of books, real-life experiences, and educational videos.

Do the same for social studies. Pick a topic, such as a particular country or U.S. history or the Great Depression, or the World Wars or whatever, and go in search of interesting materials. It will be so much more fun than using dry textbooks!

6. Don’t forget the fine arts. Set up a learning center for art, as discussed in one of my recent articles for TOS. Get books about artists, and include music and theatre in your children’s lives. Radio programs are free! If you have a little money, get a baritone ukulele, which is a stepping-stone to a guitar . . . or better yet, get a small keyboard.

7. Do some physical activities each day. Hike, bike, play tennis, and climb trees together. Yes, you!

8. Focus, above all, on developing their character and the values and habits you are helping them appreciate and acquire. Start the day with Bible stories, end with prayer, and spend some time on your knees planning for the next day. One day at a time! You don’t need a lot of expensive curriculum materials to homeschool in the early years.

Look for inexpensive experiences in the community to enjoy too, such as community theatre, church activities, and sports leagues. Above all, relax and enjoy it!

1. Listen to my CD titled Reading and Writing the Natural Way, if you can.
2. If this is a problem, read my booklet, Taking the Frustration out of Math.

Mary Hood, Ph.D., and her husband, Roy, homeschooled their five children since the
early 1980s. All have successfully made the transition to adulthood. Mary has a Ph.D. in
education and is the director of ARCHERS for the Lord, Inc. (The Association of Relaxed
Christian Home Educators). She is the author of The Relaxed Home School, The
Joyful Home Schooler, and other books, and is available for speaking engagements.
Contact her via her website, www.archersforthelord.org.

Copyright 2012, used with permission.  All rights reserved by author.  Originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine.  Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Updated Calendar and Final Class Grid

For ease of use and to find everything easily, I've linked the updated calendar and Fall class grid below.


Class Grid for the fall

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Get Organized for Homeschooling By Stephanie Green

For many families, the decision to homeschool opens infinite opportunities to teach and mold their children academically and spiritually. With the varied landscape of today’s homeschool curricula and learning aids, the possibilities to tailor-make the schooling experience seem endless. “It seems as though you could do everything,” says homeschool mom Kelly Adams.

And it may be tempting to try to do everything. But as you get ready and get set to homeschool, the best and first thing to do is to get organized. Let’s go!

First Things First

When getting organized to homeschool, it may seem that the most logical place to start is with your environment—after all, some portion of space will be dedicated to learning. Or one might think it’s best to dive into creating a schedule. Kelly Adams, who has homeschooled for the past seven years, knows firsthand and advises other homeschool families to first assess their priorities: “The first thing we did was to make a list of what was important spiritually, academically and socially,” Adams said. “It was also important for us to look at the needs of each of our children and their levels.”

Then the family made decisions about the best curriculum and activities for each child. “You’ve got to take a hard look at what God is calling you to do,” Kelly said. “Remembering to seek the Kingdom first is the biggest thing, because everything flows from that.”

Setting Schedules

With priorities established, the next step to getting organized is being prepared, which homeschool mom Abby Character says is essential to an organized homeschool: “It helps to organize each day, but I know it’s important to be very flexible and to change as priorities change,” Abby said.

Kelly agrees and points out that schedules require balance and actually allow her to be flexible. “It reminds me that God is in control. Don’t let the schedule rule you. Use it as a tool,” she said. “Schedules also will vary depending on the number of children you have and what you’re doing with each one,” Abby added. For the Characters, that means seven children, ranging in age from newborn to 8. Abby knows that “sometimes one kid needs more help than the others, and that’s when having a system can help.”

It’s why long-time homeschooler Marsha Corbin staggers her children’s lessons with work they can do independently versus work that she assists them with. “This allows me time to interact with each child,” Corbin said. After more than twenty years of homeschooling, Marsha knows that “organization gives structure. It’s a framework to operate within,” she said.

In the Corbin home, that structure is clearly outlined on a chart that lists each family member’s responsibilities and school assignments. “Our day starts at 8 a.m. There are things each child must do before beginning their academic work. The chart incorporates personal responsibility with studies,” Marsha explained. “We try to balance our school schedule and work time with play time. That way, we’re not focusing too much on one area,” Marsha added.

Tracking Schedules

Whether you have one child or ten or prefer a paper system to a digital one, all homeschool families need some way to track activities, appointments, and assignments. “I’m a calendar girl,” Kelly said. While she says she’s always been a very organized person, she finds the calendar is a useful tool, because it not only helps her to see what’s going on but also helps her discern when too much is going on. “You can absolutely get too busy,” she said. When that happens, “then I know that we may have to pull out from something.”

To keep track of her family’s comings and goings, Abby keeps a master calendar in Google. And to stay on top of who’s doing what lesson, Abby said she figured out two years ago that “I’m a lesson plan person. I keep a non-dated lesson plan book together with each child’s curriculum,” she said.

Non-dated lesson plan books are good no matter when you begin your school year, and they help to avoid a feeling of being “behind” if you miss a day or two. “You have to figure out what works for your personality,” Abby advises.

Maintaining Paperwork and Other Stuff

Among the many hats worn when homeschooling, one is administrator (or one who keeps up with the paperwork). Organizing and keeping track of daily papers and a variety of documentation doesn’t require anything fancy, just a system.

Abby shared that they keep track of their children’s work by creating a notebook for each child. “The book is organized for each weekday, and not every subject is covered each day,” she explained.

Marsha encourages homeschool families to learn their state’s legal requirements and keep a file for each year for each child, including items such as declaration of intent, attendance report, and year-end report.

Organizing Your Work Space

When the Characters started homeschooling in 2006, they did schoolwork at a picnic table. As their family grew, they moved to the kitchen table, where most of their schoolwork is still done today.

“We had to organize our space more, because each year, we’ve added more kids,” Abby said. That space has now spilled over into what was once the living room but now houses student desks, an adult desk, and a computer station. Abby said the biggest consideration in organizing their work space was accessibility: “We have a space for each part of our curriculum,” she said. “And you don’t have to have a schoolroom; a simple cabinet will work. The key is to make the items easily accessible to the kids and to keep them in the same place.”

Just like organizing and adjusting their work space, the same is true for organizing any aspect of homeschooling. “It all gets better with practice more than anything else,” Abby said.

I hope these tips from experienced homeschooling moms will prove helpful to you as you prepare for the new school year. May this be the best year ever for you and your family!

Stephanie Green is a wife, mother of five, and writer who lives in Augusta, Georgia. She has been writing for more than fifteen years and enjoys writing about parenting and family topics.
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.