Monday, August 31, 2015

Celebrate High School- What Matters?

"As you walk through the last years of your student's high school journey, remember the final celebration is less about the knowledge stored up in the student's mind (though that is important) and more about whether the young adult understands his or her strengths and how those strengths will bring value to whatever he or she endeavors." 

Celebrate High School: Finish with Excellence, 2015 revised edition


Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Relationship Spanning Generations- Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web, one of my favorite first chapter books, from childhood through adulthood.

I couldn't wait to read my favorite literature pieces to my children, both picture books and chapter books.

As the parenting years have rolled along, I have now introduced Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, to seven of my learners. This week we revisited the work again, thanks to an online resource. 

When I begin a book, I introduce my children to the author. After all, the author's mind and hand crafted the work, often from personal stories and experiences; sometimes consciously, other times not.

In our study this week, I learned several things I did not know about Charlotte's Web or E. B. White. 

After reading the article aloud and doing a bit more research about E. B. White, we enjoyed the audio recording of the book, read by E. B. White. What a treat!

Today, the question resounded, "Can we listen to Charlotte's Web?"

Though most of my learners had been introduced to the work and the author prior, a love was rekindled.

I had successfully introduced, and reintroduced, my children to one of my favorite literary pieces. And, they loved it!

Delight!

More about E. B. White

  • His name was Elwyn Brooks White.
  • In addition to Charlotte's Web, White also penned the Trumpet of the Swan and Stuart Little
  • He authored seventeen books of prose and poetry. 



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Middle and High School Learning Environments

Though summer annual evaluation season ended a few weeks ago, I will continue posting frequently asked questions to help equip and empower parents. Knowledge in the high school years is power and adds confidence to the journey.

Recently in our area there seems to be limited diversity in learning environments for middle and high schoolers. Many venues provide only traditional classroom settings or online meetings. This is not the best setting for my child. What other opportunities are available and acceptable?

This is a tremendous question with valid concerns.

First, check the home education laws in your state

Second, having some experience with online learning is beneficial. Online education is growing. It did prepare our graduates for post-secondary education.

Those points being said...

Home educated middle and high schoolers have the opportunity to partake in a variety of learning environments; a definite advantage over their public and private schooled peers.

Our middle and high school students learn widely from a variety of environments. One started a business and learned on the job, everywhere from church fellowship hall craft shows to convention trade show floors. Another learned from independent study, volunteering, and conversation from professionals in the field. Still another learn from contractors, field work, job shadowing, and collaboration with peers. Our home education statute allowed us the freedom to utilize these means. We are all grateful we could fit learning with learning style and student interest.

When designing courses or considering courses for middle or high schoolers the learning environment is essential and often dependent on the learning style and strengths of the individual. For example, if the student learns best by observation, perhaps best fit environments would include laboratory settings, field work, internships, job shadowing, or apprenticeship. In these settings, the student can observe to learn. If the student is an auditory learner the best settings may be research laboratories or classroom instruction.

When the course is complete, if our students were applying for a university requesting course descriptions in addition to a transcript, I made sure to be specific about which environments the student used. Often the environments, being different than a typical classroom or online setting, were intriguing.

Yes, the reward was worth the effort. The contents of the course descriptions, transcripts and cumulative folder were the documents which set a solid foundation for resume writing.

And in the end, as we--student and parent--looked over documents, the accomplishment was a part of our celebration of high school and the ability to finish with excellence.

As you consider the potential learning environments your learner may have access to, ponder how those opportunities may benefit your young adult. The results can be astounding.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Simple Science, Profound Discoveries


Today one of my little learners decided she wanted to make a parachute. 


She asked wonderful questions. Solved problems as she worked. Experimented, and tried again.

The end result...a parachute. 

Busy with other learners, I served as a resource. But, I could hear her processing. She is an external thinker.

"Where can I find plastic?"

"Wonder if we have a bolt? Well, maybe something else heavy would work? I just need a weight."

"This piece of plastic is cut too big. Good thing we have more bags."

"I think this would float slower if the strings were longer and the plastic were smaller."

"I can stand on the bed, but the tall tree would be better."

Enter sibling.

"Can you make me one?"

And the two work together.

Enter another little learner, the one who was working with me.

"That's cool! Can I make one?"

A smile of accomplishment.

"Sure!"

And the experimentation begins again, with a different weight plastic and another type of string.

What a thrill to watch the learning and collaboration unfold!

Simple things--a plastic bag, some string, and a clip--provided an afternoon of trial and error learning with a sibling. Profound.






Friday, August 21, 2015

Magnificent, Make-A-Difference Middle School

Celebrating high school begins in middle school. Given opportunities to develop strengths and interests, the middle school years and their subsequent experiences set the stage for future decisions. Decisions move middle schoolers forward, or set them back,

Middle schoolers need coaches, cheerleaders, people to cheer them on, answer their questions, affirm their successes, and come alongside when ideas fail. Like adults, middle (and high schoolers) gravitate toward sources or encouragement and affirmation.

Our experience is that middle and high schoolers will hang out most with those who encourage and affirm them best. 

Mike and I were (and still are with our current middle and high schoolers) intentional to champion their interests. As a result we were (are) invited into their successes and their messes!

Middle schoolers need help understanding themselves. Mike and I have learned that before we can help our middle and high school young adults understand themselves, we must know them! To know them, we must spend time with them (even when it's hard to be with them). Spending time means observing, listening, and asking. We watch how they respond in both stressful and rewarding circumstances. We observe what activities they enjoy and what makes them smile. Body language and verbal responses are windows into their hearts. What they read expresses their interests. Who our children talk about gives us understanding into the character they emulate or respect. Knowing our children takes diligence and purpose, but is deserving of my time and energy.  

When we come to know our children--what motivates, intrigues, and captivates them--we can begin to help them understand themselves. 

Middle schoolers want to make a difference. Middle schoolers need time and experiences to help them understand who the are and what they can contribute to the family, community, nation, and the world.

They need something to ponder, practice, and pursue, a way to make a difference. 

Making a difference they feel the satisfaction of collaborating and contributing, serving and giving.

Middle schoolers need help managing their time. Several facets of life motivate middle and high schoolers to manage their time: knowing they have skills to solve a problems, having a project to complete or understanding their skills can contribute to a cause. When these aspects are discovered and fostered, managing their time matters.

Time management is a necessity for accomplishment.

Middle schoolers encouragement for organization. Middle schoolers are not usually naturally organized. They usually need parents to help them brainstorm ideas. They need someone to take them shopping for organizers.

Organization is often key to time management. 

Middle schoolers need help finding and using resources. Middle schoolers have ideas and interests they want to pursue. There are things they want to build, books they want to write, businesses they want to start, logos they want to design, and fish they want to catch. Resources, tools, and significant people put those ideas and interests in motion. One of the greatest resources is time--time to process, time to think, time to talk through ideas. In and through conversation and experience, middle schoolers learn to plan, design, analyze, and evaluate, all which work together for understanding.

Without time, these key life skills cannot develop. 

Middle and high school young adults are really not any different than adults. 

Adults thrive when they understand their strengths and have the freedom to grow in those strengths, when they have people to help them process ideas and adults, when they have access o necessary tools and resources to carry out the plan, and when they are surrounded by supportive family and friends. 

Middle schoolers will surprise you! Middle school years have great potential to directly impact a student's entrepreneurial ventures, employment, or college and career path by offering options of promising study. Be ready for your middle schoolers to surprise you! Ours have surprised us many times with their ideas and plans. They had solutions we had not discovered, insight we could not see. Theirs were not only better, but because they "owned" the plans, they were more excited and successful in executing the steps to reach their goals.

This content is excerpted from the new expanded edition of Cheryl's book,  Celebrate High School: Finish with Excellence, A Guide for Middle and High School Home Education.  You can order a copy of this book by emailing Cheryl at cheryl@cherylbastian.com. This book will also soon be available on Amazon.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"This is a Perfect Book for My Art Appreciation Class!"


Budget cuts in many school districts have cut art and music classes. 


A Harris Poll released in 2005 determined 93% of Americans believe the arts are essential to a well-rounded education.

In our home, art is not part of a budget cut. In fact, art can often be taught well for minimal cost and better yet through a mentoring artist or art enthusiast.

Today we headed to the local library to return items. We purposed only to be in long enough to return books and have the notary sign paperwork for a sports opportunity. An hour later, three floors of shelves investigated--because each child headed off on a rabbit trail (have I mentioned, not planned!) --we left with treasures.


While one learner found the books she needed to add items to her hand-made jewelry collection, another turned around and found Children's Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling by Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles on an adjacent shelf. She also found Drawing and Painting Animals by Bill Tilton.

From an aisle over I hear, "This is a perfect book for my art appreciation class!"

Appears my high school young adult with The Great Book of Currier & Ives' in America. This book, this HUGE book, is a BEAUTY, every 15 inches in height, 12 inches in width, and 2 1/2 thick piece of it! It has to be one of the biggest books I have ever seen! It set spine up on the shelf as it was too tall for the traditional shelving.

On the way home, two high schoolers seated side-by-side in the car, paged through American history by means of  Currier & Ives. Stunning art definitely appreciated. A great addition, student-interest led, to her art appreciation class.

I will keep you posted on how this book is woven into this year's art appreciation.

Note: I imagine for a student interested in art more than history, this book might spark an interest in our nation's history through its brilliant works. If a student with such interests resides in your home, perhaps a catalog search will reveal this treasure on shelves near you. Just be prepared for an arm workout while hauling it home!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ironing Out First Week Wrinkles





Wow! 
I didn't anticipate today!

How about you?

We read year round; even practice a few math problems throughout the summer. So, when today was a little wrinkled, well let's just say I had to iron faster to work on the creases.

Dad headed back to school this week and we pressed forward, beginning where we left off at the end of May.

Today was hard. I moved from learner to learner feeling like I my body needed roller skates and my mind was a million places at the same time!

First there was math lesson #1. The learner didn't remember the solution process of multiplying two 2-digit numbers. Review! In ten minutes, she was on her way. On to math lesson #2, dividing a decimal by a decimal. Ten more minutes of review and assigning ten problems. She was on her way. Little learner needed a snack.

Learners #3 and #4, high schoolers, needed assistance editing Spanish essays. Only ten sentences, but IN SPANISH! An hour later, though it felt like all afternoon, they were ready to move onto the concussion video (honestly it's called a course!) mandatory for their participation on the district high school sports team. I must admit, I was wondering how many students actually watch this "video".  My athletes wondered the same thing. We watched. Why? Because we have to sign a form saying we complied. A life lesson of integrity.

While editing Spanish essays there was another request for a snack, another question about a math problem, a "How do you spell?" request, the dryer buzzed, the baby needed a diaper change, dinner needed to be started. Should've used the Crock-pot, but it's our anniversary and I wanted to do something special. Phone chimes. Two text messages regarding the wedding our family will celebrate in a few short months. Oh, and the question about grad school (we have a learner filing application), and two high school transcripts to update for above mentioned athletes!

Those are just glimpses into a few hours of the day. There were several more with similar wrinkles.

How was your day? Many of us have days like this. 

To make it through the day, for it to be as successful as it could be, I had to keep perspective. I reminded myself to be intentional, moment by moment.

I had to work with the day instead of against it, even when there were more wrinkles than anticipated.

I was tempted to quit, to defer to the easier choice, but I knew the days ahead would be more difficult. Pay now or pay later. I pressed on.

The beginning of the year is like this (well, even days mid-year are like this sometimes) for home educators and for classroom educators. When I was a classroom teacher I remember wise words from a veteran teacher, "Hang in there and hang tough! If you give up early, ease up, the rest of the year will be even harder."

Yes, we read through the summer; even practiced a few math problems. But today was still a bit wrinkled.

It's okay. I am not alone. You are not alone. Many teachers, whether in the home or in the classroom are ironing out first week wrinkles, too!

Hang in there!