Thursday, March 18, 2010

Don't Miss the Magic!

Making a lapbookImage by Andrea_R via Flickr


I found this quote today, and it really captured my feelings perfectly:

Sometimes when your kids comprehend something new, it happens after a lot of effort and study. Sometimes it has to wait until their mind is ready to grasp the concepts. When my daughter has trouble fully understanding a math concept, for example, I’ve found it’s helpful to just leave it be, work on related but different lessons, and go back to the trouble topic in a couple of months. Always, she then understands the concept with no effort. I’ve been lucky to have been able to have so much time to study how my kids learn. Because of this, I am always on the lookout for those telltale signs of learning. Passion for a subject, paying attention with no difficulty, asking unexpected but completely relevant, Keep Watching Your Kids Learn, Mar 2010

I hope you will read the entire article. It espouses exactly what I love most about the entire homeschooling adventure!

Not everyone enjoys spending time with their children. Not everyone gets excited about learning. Not everyone notices the unique abilities, interests, passions and gifts that their children possess. Too bad! They're missing so much!



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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lifeskills Lessons

Too often, education focuses on traditional school subjects. Life skills don't always receive the attention they deserve. Our children may be able to function quite well in the world without having spent a year learning algebra, but they will not do well if they aren't able to prepare food.

Ree Drummond, better known as "Pioneer Woman" is a homeschool mom and a multi-talented, fascinating woman. Her website is filled with tons of useful, interesting information about her life on a ranch, her fascinating family, their homeschool experiences, her talent for photography AND her amazing culinary skills!

Ree has added a new area on her site, called Tasty Kitchen, Favorite Recipes from Real Kitchens! The Tasty Kitchen is filled with a wide range of recipes, from various contributors.

A recent post, by Erika, was titled The Theme Is … Homemade Ingredients! In the post, Erika shared links to numerous recipes on the Tasty Kitchen blog. Included were recipes for homemade baking mix, homemade brown sugar, homemade vanilla extract, and many other mainstay ingredients.

I immediately thought that this is something that young cooks should learn. So little attention is given these days to creating your own ingredients when your cupboard is lacking. I remember the surprised look on a group of teens faces, when I explained that I had to use applesauce in my brownies, because I had no vegetable oil in my cupboard. They had just been discussing how tasty the brownies were, but now they stopped mid-bite, and stared at the brownies in their hands. "You mean there's applesauce in these?" Total shock!

I reminded them that they had just been saying how good they were, and that applesauce can easily be used to replace oil if no oil is available, or just to make the brownies a little healthier.

Knowing how to create these homemade ingredients can, also, inspire young chefs to be a bit more creative. They will start to notice food textures and tastes, and may begin to experiment with making some substitutions of their own. It's a great learning experience!
Photo by Kylia Radney, used with permission.
Salad created by Chef Katie

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Change for the Better!

I have been writing a lengthy monthly newsletter for lifelong learners, for almost 12 years. This past November, I realized that it was a struggle for me to keep up with all the work that was required to make the newsletter what I wanted it to be. In addition to a monthly article relating, in some way, to learning, each issue included events, resources, ideas, lesson plans, holiday celebrations, announcements of upcoming classes and workshops, auditions, opportunities for volunteering and a few other sundry items.

Each month, I spent weeks preparing the newsletter, usually resulting in at least 30-35 pages of information. The entire issue was then emailed to each of my subscribers. It was a popular newsletter, and something I loved to prepare. In November, I finally realized that as much as I loved writing the newsletter, it required more time than I had to offer.

Because my subscribers had been so loyal and supportive, I wrote to them, explaining my situation. I indicated that I was working on a new and better way to prepare the newsletter, and that when I resolved the problems that I was currently facing with its publication, I would again publish, and at that point, all subscriptions would be free, rather than paid. Most of the subscribers enthusiastically thanked me for making the newsletter a free publication, and most, also assured me that they didn't care how often they received it, they just wanted to read my articles. I was relieved to have a bit of time to play with the format, and to develop a better method.

Over the past 4 months, I have considered about 20 different approaches to newsletter publication. Finally, I have settled on a method that I think works well. I'm still making the final tweaks and adjustments, but I'm pleased. I hope my subscribers will be pleased as well. I'm expecting to have everything ready for the debut next week. I've very excited, a bit nervous, and ready to get this show on the road again! It's been far too long! Stay tuned!