Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Using The Scout Program In Homeschooling 

My kids love scouting! It's hard to believe, but we've been scouting for 15 years. It all started this time of year with a 7 year old Lexii attending her first Brownie Girl Scout meeting. Now, Nate is a First Class Boy Scout and Mason is a Wolf Cub Scout.

Girl Scouts call achievements "Try-its" and Cub Scouts earn arrow points and belt loops. If you are a Boy Scout you are probably working on Merit Badges. Regardless of the name, all of these activities can go hand-in- hand with homeschooling. Now that the boys are getting older, I really want them to be involved in deciding what they study and be led by their interests. After the basics are done, they can pick things in their scout books to work on. It's amazing how well rounded the programs are. Some of the things Mason has done lately are: cooking, recycling, safety, healthy lifestyles, sports, computers, art, drama, citizenship, gardening, birds, fishing, woodworking, etc. Nate has earned several merit badges and they are far from "easy". They don't let the kids slide with partial or shoddy work. They must complete all the requirements. They are very in depth. So far Nate has earned: Environmental Science, Citizenship in the Community, Family Life, Personal Management, Citizenship in the World, First Aid, Archery, Leatherwork, Astronomy, Fingerprinting, Fish and Wildlife Management, Photography, Plant Science, and Rowing. He's started work on Communications, Cycling, and Woodworking.

We've found that scouting provides a great alternative to the  "elective" classes that are offered through the public school for jr. high and high school age kids. I'm really grateful for scouting and the asset that it has become to our family.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012 
I just realized that I never finished the final post on the LDS Homeschool Conference. I guess I'm not much of a series writer :) My last 2 classes were 2 of my favorite. The Key to Building Youth, Instead of Teens by Nicholeen Peck and Mothers, The Heart of Homeschooling by Myra Johnson.

I always enjoy Nicholeen Peck's classes. This is one she taught at the UHEA Conference in June, and I liked it so much I went again. She reminds us that the "invention" of a teenager is very recent. When our grandparents were between the ages of 12-18 they were called youth. A youth is totally different than a teenager. They are training to become an adult. They are learning to be responsible and preparing for the future. Teenagers are self absorbed and live for today. She played 2 short video clips. One was of Justin Beiber being interviewed and the other was Alex and Brett Harris being interviewed. Justin was talking about himself, his fans, and very worried about his appearance and popularity. Alex and Brett Harris were talking about what they learned from their father and about the book they wrote called Do Hard Things. We then talked about the differences in both interviews. Can you guess which one was a good example of being youth instead of teenagers? Our youth should "Live with purpose and have a vision". I love that! Here are some things that our youth can do:
1. Raise your standards high ( example- Joan of Arc and her loyalty to God)
2. Do hard things
3. Learn self government
4. Know where you are going
5. Network ( find great adult mentors)

When my grandfather was 18, he was in WW11. While fighting overseas, his father died. He was given 1 week of shore leave to go home and settle his father's estate. He went back to his rural hometown of Grouse Creek and sold his family's property to the neighbor. He then went into Brigham City and bought a house for his mother and sister. He asked my grandmother to marry him and they ran off and eloped. He was back in the middle of the war by the next week. I look at many of the 18 year-olds today and wonder if many of them could do something like he had to do. I think it's very important to raise our kids to be able to do hard things. They are a choice generation- they need to be ready when the Lord needs them.

The final class was Mothers, The Heart of Homeschooling by Myra Johnson. She talked about working on ourselves so that we can bless others. If we do things the Lord's way we find joy, peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment. When we do things Satan's way we are tired, depressed, and burned out. Things that can help us do it the Lord's way are: 
1. What is our attitude?
2. Are we willing to serve/sacrifice?
3. Are we willing to build and strengthen ourselves?
She encouraged us to find joy in homemaking and nobility in motherhood. We should serve were the Lord wants us to serve. We should also get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat healthy.

This was such an amazing Conference. There were so many classes to choose from. I wish I could have taken so many more! I'll be excited for the recordings to come out so I can get some of the classes I missed.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

1st "Official" Day Back To School

 Monday, August 20th was our "official" first day of school. We school year round with a month off here and there, but the school district dictates how many days and hours we need to be in school each year. To make the counting easy, we pick a day in August to "officially" start. Here's a little glimpse into our first day.

It's our tradition to go out for breakfast on our first day back. This year the kids picked Burger King.  Isn't it great having your picture taken with a mouth full of food?

At 9:00 we all meet in the living room for our morning devotional. We always start with a hymn and a prayer. I've found that working on hymns through the week helps the boys participate better in sacrament meeting on Sunday because they are familiar with the words. We also take this time to talk about a gospel principle relating to our theme: Adam fell that men might be: and men are, that they might have joy.  -2 Nephi 2:25. We also work on memorization. This could be Articles of Faith, The Living Christ, The Family Proclamation, scriptures, etc. We also do a quick review of the daily schedule and I find out what has already been accomplished that day.

No uncomfortable school desks here! We do have a school room, but the last few years the boys have migrated to doing their work wherever they are comfy.

In past years, we have been very structured with what we learn and when we do it. Nate has always thrived with a strict schedule. That's something that a lot of children with Asperger's need. As he get's older, he needs to be able to do better with change so we are working on that. This year he will know what he needs to do for the whole week and then work on structuring his own day. We will be here to help him make a plan- but he needs to take ownership too. He also has days when he won't be home much (art class, swimming, youth 4 freedom group) so he needs to learn to schedule around those activities.
One of the things I love about homeschooling is that my kids can do the things they love. Nate is very academic. He loves to read- especially the classics. He has a notebook full of papers he's written and notes he's taken on books and historical figures. He wants to be a scientist some day, so he reads a lot of science text books and studies the lives of mathematicians and scientists. Mason loves to create. He has built a playhouse out of scrap wood, loves legos, and loves to make crafts. We have a craft cupboard in the school room that I keep stocked full of supplies so he can make "projects". I really think the 4 R's are important- Religion, Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic, but after that they get to decide what to study. Mason studies Spanish, while Nate has decided to study Latin this year. Mason wants to focus on animals and astronomy and Nate has decided to follow a stricter science curriculum (Apologia) because he wants to be a scientist. In history, we will be studying ancient world history. Nate will pick his own books and keep a history notebook, while Mason will do more hands-on activities and books he's picked on his level. There's so much more we do- a post for another day!

No half-eaten lunches at our table! My kids never wanted to eat PS lunches unless it was pizza day. I really don't think they were that nutrition on most days either. Around here we try to have plenty of fruits and veggies and save the sugar for after school hours. Nate's favorite concoction- pizza tortillas. Mmmm.....
Our current lunch read is The Black Stallion. When the kids were younger it was easy to get them to sit still and listen to a book if I occupied them with food! It's a tradition that we've continued even though they are older. 1 chapter everyday with lunch. Sometimes 2. Some of our favorite lunchtime reads have been The Great Brain series and The Little House on the Prairie series.

Music is a really important aspect of our day. There's nothing better than having the house full of hymns and other great music in the middle of the day. Being homeschooled gives the kids an opportunity to really focus on their music studies. If they had to put in a full day at the local school and then come home for homework, chores, scouts, and instrument practice, I don't think they would love it like they do.

So- there's just a little peek into a normal day around here. Some days are smoother than others, but I wouldn't trade any of it!