Child-Centered Homeschooling
Most parents have noticed how quickly children make friends.  No sooner do they step onto the playground and they have a new best friend.  This is in stark contrast to many adults who are more cautious in making friends.  Another remarkable fact is that many times children call each other "friends", yet when the parent asks their child the name of their new friend, the child does not know.  It all seems so simplistic really.  Children want to play, there are other children around, so their natural conclusion is to become friends and play together.

How are children able to make friends so quickly and effortlessly?  Is it because they have but one common goal which is to play and have fun?  Is it because they are less private and guarded than adults are?  Maybe it is in part because of their innocent nature.  Children play, fight, make-up, and play again.  While this cycle is often repeated many times (even on the same day), the end result of playing together is almost always the same.

Adults, on the other hand, take time to get to know each other before deciding if they will become friends.  They talk to one another and perhaps get together several times to see if they have similar interests and lifestyles.  Forming an adult friendship is neither effortless nor quick like their children counter parts.  Adults are more private and protective of their personal lives and personal space.  This could stem from past experiences of betrayal by friends.  Perhaps it is something that is just inborn and becomes a more dominate part of our personality as we grow older.

So, who is right?  Maybe the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  Adults could be more open to forming friendships in less time than they would normally take to do so.  We could lower our walls to let people in and trust that people are basically good.  Children could use more cautious when forming friendships to make sure the values and morals of their friends align with their own values and morals.  What do you think?

Hurricane and fire season is upon us in Florida.  Now is the time to take a fresh look at safety and get prepared.  In addition, children need to be taught about fire, hurricane and tornado safety.  There are many good websites out there full of fun activities to make the learning fun and informative for the little ones.  Kids can get involved with making a list of items to keep on hand in case of an emergency.  They can draw maps to show the exits from the home and a meeting place for the family.

Hurricane season runs from June through November, so preparedness is key.  The time is now.  Fema has a wonderful website loaded with information for children on hurricane safety.  You can view it by clicking here.  On the site, kids can lean how to protect the home, pets, what to pack in a disaster kit and play games to name a few of the tools.  By getting the kids involved and informed, they will be less fearful and feel more prepared. With hurricanes come tornadoes.  Fema also has a page dedicated to tornado safety as well.  You can view it here.

It seems like there are fires all around those of us living in central Florida.  Flagler and Volusia counties have been hit especially hard lately.  With the fires threatening homes, this can be a very frightening time for children.  They need to learn how to react and how to prepare for fires.  Luckily, there are dozens of websites dedicated to fire safety for kids.  A few of them can be accessed by clicking the following:

From the CDC,

Fire safety for kids

Smokey Bear

On recent trips to various museums in St. John's County, Volusia County, and Flagler County, the employees and volunteers were very helpful in providing additional information.  At the Pirate and Treasure Museum, one staff member in particular was very eager to engage in conversation.  He retold the story of a pirate that was hit with a cannon ball, but continued to fight on while bleeding to death.  He also told stories of Blackbeard and how he would create the illusion that his beard was on fire to frighten anyone around him.  Fort Matanzas likewise has very helpful and informative staff and volunteers.  One gentleman was willing to demonstrate how to carve images into wood like the soldiers on the island may have done to pass away the hours.  Another gentleman was busy making a leather pouch.  The Pioneer Settlement Center in Barberville is full of information!  Demonstrations such as weaving, candle dipping, education, and more are provided.  The staff is eager to share additional information and many offer private classes for groups if you so desire.  Finally, Florida Agricultural Museum employs helpful staff.  From stories while riding on the tractor to hands-on demonstrations, a good time will be had by the whole family.

When you visit a museum, no matter where it is located, be sure to engage the staff in conversation.  They are full of stories that they have learned over the years while working at the museums.  Many of these stories are not depicted during a regular tour nor are they written on plaques.  If you engage them in conversation, you will not be disappointed.  If you are unsure of how to begin a conversation, you can start by asking them, "What is the most interesting thing you have learned since you started working here?"  Once the initial line of communication is open, enjoy the stories they have to share.

I have been selected to write for a local online website called Examiner.  Here is my first article:

            Reactions are part of everyday living.  Some reactions are automatic, like stopping at a red light.  Likewise, some reactions are based on instinct.  Think of when a child falls and the mother rushes to the child, scoops her up and kisses away the boo-boo.  People react in all different ways to a variety of situations on a daily basis.  At times people overreact or do not react at all.  It is the rare person who can artfully react in an appropriate manner most of the time.  Why is that?  Perhaps, unlike subjects we are taught in school, reacting appropriately and behaving properly is not something that is formally taught.  After all, there is no one acceptable guideline to follow when teaching a person how to react in accordance with the situation they are in.

            Overreactions are very common today.  Think of the teen girl whose mother just told her that her 11pm curfew would not be extended.  The teenager runs to her room crying out that her mother must hate her and is ruining her life.  What’s frightening is that overreacting has become not only accepted behavior, but also expected behavior!  What if we could change that mindset?  What if we could teach our children how to react to situations while maintaining dignity and respect for all involved?  This world would be a kinder, gentler place for sure.

            Is respect reserved only for our elders like the adage “respect thy elders” states, or is it something that should be shown to all?  Everyone deserves to be respected no matter their age, gender, race, religion or color.  Everyone has feelings and is facing some sort of challenge in their personal life.  Therefore, children are taught from a young age to respect everyone, respect will come back to them. 

            Think about how you would react to the following situation.  A young child is in a restroom washing her hands as the mother waits for her.  As the child is washing up, a middle-aged lady nudges the girl out of the way so that she may use the sink.  The girl then moves over to the hand drier and begins drying her hands.  Before her hands are dry, the same middle-aged lady begins drying her hands on top of the little girl’s hands.  The child slinks away toward her mother and says nothing with her head down.  The mother has witnessed it all.  Is this a teachable moment, and if so, for whom?  Could this be a teachable moment for the little girl, the mother, and the middle-aged lady?  The answer is yes.  If the mother had said nothing and done nothing, then the lady would learn that her behavior is acceptable and would likely act the same way again.  The little girl would learn that she should not stand up for herself and also that she is not deserving of respect.  The mother would have failed to teach her daughter that she is indeed entitled to respect.  If however, the mother started yelling at the lady (or worse yet, the child), then the child would learn either that her mother will need to solve her problems or that she herself should yell at people when they offend her.  The lady would have reacted in a defensive manner and possibly yelled back escalating the situation.  After reflection, the mother would have learned that she taught her daughter the way NOT to behave.  Finally, if the mother could took her daughter by the hand and lead her back to the drier explaining to the lady that her daughter had not yet finished drying her hands, everyone would have learned a valuable lesson.  The lady would learn that her behavior was rude and she was not showing any respect for the child.  Perhaps she would behave differently in the future under similar circumstances.  The child would learn that it is okay to stand up for herself and that she deserves respect.  The mother would see that her child was learning from this experience by seeing her reaction to similar situations in the future.  Children are always learning from how adults behave.  Teachable moments are all around us if only we open our eyes enough to see them.  How would you have reacted if this were you and your child?  Would you want your child to react the same way?  Be careful how you act because you are always teaching and your child is always learning.

You can check it out at 
This week we will be reading about the Wright Brothers.  This will likely spill over into next week (our final week) as well.  We'll use this biography reading to build on science lessons about inventors and inventions.  We will also study manners and customs of the early 1900's to those of today.  Compairing and contrasting these will make for some interesting conversations. 

Map skills will be addressed this week through making a map of Teardrop Island from this week's book, Samantha Saves the Day.  Scale, directions, and legend will be addressed during this lesson.

As always, we will continue with our normal studies in math, spelling, and grammar.

Check back next week as
Week 4 was very interesting for us.  We learned that Samantha, GrandMary, and Cornelia all had different views on women's rights, specifically the right to vote.  We learned what the term suffrigist meant.  Additionally, we studied the 19th Amendment and copied it in our best penmanship.  We read a biography of Susan B. Anthony.  We continued with our normal program for mat
I recently ordered this magazine.  While so far only some of the articles are of interest to me, I love the advertisements in the magazine.  I have been introduced to new products that I didn't know were out there for homeschooling families.  I must also admit that I love the free trials that come along with membership!  :)  Even if the product is not something that we can use right now, I can file it away for future use!

One of my new favorite products is Beautiful Feet.  Telling history through a story is right up my alley.  I never liked the dates, wars, remember this and that, blah blah blah approach to history.  That's probably why I would go into shut-down mode whenever I entered my history class in high school.  Now, I love history!  I attribute it to the new approach.  Learning through literature instead of fact after fact is so much more appealing and more interesting too!

I'll update Samantha week #4

Here is the rundown of what we did this week while studying Samantha.

Spelling ~ Spectrum 3rd grade
Math ~ Horizons 2nd grade
Literature ~ Samantha, A Christmas Story
Geography ~ Continued reviewing the 50 states, map quiz
Social Studies/ History ~ Life in the early 1900's,  Then and now graphic organizer, Women's Rights, Wealthy vs Poor family life, Factories and Progress
Science ~ Inventors (Edison and Wright Brothers)
Arts ~ Music and Art of early 1900's

Puting it together ~ Field trip to The Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, FL.  We were able to view what life was like in the early 1900's.  Furniture, accent pieces, architecture, music and art are a few of the aspects we learned about.  We were lucky enough to hear various instruments of the early 1900's and see their inner workings.  We were also able to view fashions and artwork of the day
Okay, okay, I know I said I would update everyday.  I'm sorry.  We have been extra busy this week and this was one thing that I could cross off of my list.  So, here is what we did this week during school time:

Spelling ~ Normal spelling program
Science ~ Continued to examine forms of energy, focusing on electricity
Biography ~ Thomas Edison.  Took notes using 5 w's sheet and wrote a short report on his invention of the first practical light bulb.
Geography ~ 50 states review, SC, GA, FL, MI w/ mapping skills
Reading ~ Samantha Learns a Lesson
Grammar ~ Normal grammar program
Math ~ Normal math program
Phys Ed ~ Swimming and Basketball
Arts & crafts ~ Easter crafts
Social Studies ~ Continued with Victorian Era and e
Today was field trip day!  We went to The Casements in Ormond Beach.  What a beautiful home!!  I can only imagine how magnificent it would have been when Rockefeller actually lived there.  The home is set near both the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean.  Your nose is greeted with the wonderful aroma of roses immediately upon exiting your vehicle.  I could sit on the porch of this home for hours looking at the water and smelling the sweet smells from the flower garden.  What a blessing that the city of Ormond Beach purchased the property and restored it (as best they could) to it's original state.  It would have been tragic if the property had been torn down as was slated.

We learned so much today about life in the early 1900's.  We were even able to see a photograph of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford that was taken during one of their trips to Rockefeller's home.  We learned just how important giving back is.  Rockefeller believed that you should work hard, make as much money as you could and donate as much money as you could back into society. 

Anyone who lives or visits the area should spend an hour or two touring the home.  The tours are free with a donation box near the gift shop if you are so inclined.