One of the most helpful tips you can teach your kids is how to use a to-do list. I love to-do lists because they are very helpful if you want to get to a high stress level quickly. They are also helpful if you like to wake up and see how much you did not get accomplished the day before.
No, seriously, those problems only happen to people who let to-do lists get out of hand. The mistake I notice those people make most often is that they forget who is in charge. Remember, you are in charge, not the list. If you find that your to-do list is not helping, then here's all you need to do: just mark items off whether you actually did them or not.
Sure, the toilet paper might continue to be dropped in the toilet since the holder is broken, the mess in the hallway where the dog got sick might get a little smelly, and your family might be setting a record for the longest continual time wearing the same pair of underwear, but you'll feel so invigorated knowing you checked everything off the list anyway. Your family can go another week without clean underwear. Besides you can teach them the principles of reduce (they can go without), reuse (wear them inside out), or recycle (it won't hurt your spouse to wear some of those sexy bikinis of yours you never seem to wear anymore). It's all about the teachable moments.
In the interest of making sure everyone understands to-do lists, I want to show you the most recent list I prepared for myself as I'm getting ready to start the New Year:
1. Watch exercise tapes while baking cookies. (I have a resolution to work on my multi-tasking ability.)
2. Figure out where I put my HOW TO BE ORGANIZED book. (The one where I learned about making to-do lists.)
3. Do the stupid, good-for-nothing, never-works, positive thinking affirmations.
4. Check bank balance to see if I have enough money to buy KEYS TO FINANCIAL SUCCESS.
5. Transfer reading of HOW TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION to next week's list.
6. Write next chapter of my TO-DO LISTS FOR DUMMIES book.
Wow that's a lot to do. I better go get my pen so I can start marking them off at random before I take my morning nap.
I know I risk also irritating my blog readers as much as I do my family, but listen, this is important. You never know what can happen from even a basic mistake. We can all easily imagine the things that could change by omitting just a single tiny little word like 'not.'
Oh and sure, we have spell-check, but we need to be careful about that as well. I can see some of you rolling your eyes and not quite believing how bad it can be so I guess I'll have to give an example of what happened several years ago to poor little John Doe (I'm protecting his identity of course).
Little Johnny Doe decided one day he wanted to try his hand at writing an essay and since it was an election year, the topic he chose was "keeping promises." He was just learning to use the new-fangled technological advance called computer spellcheck and when he ran the software, he noticed he spelled the word promises wrong. He saw several choices offered and so he picked the one that looked right. And below is how his paper came out:
The Importance of Keeping Promiscuous
By John Doe
Keeping promiscuous is very important. It tells people what kind of person you are. It tells people about your character. It is not fair or right to cross your fingers or your legs to get out of keeping promiscuous.
You should listen to your parents because they know all about keeping promiscuous. When they got married, they told the whole world about their intention of keeping promiscuous. This is very important to your future husband or wife.
Keeping promiscuous is also very important when you are someone like the president of the United States. I think most people believe President Clinton has done a good job keeping promiscuous.
When you owe money, sometimes you sign promiscuous notes. This means you’ll pay in order to keep promiscuous.
When I grow up and become an adultery, I will always be keeping promiscuous because that’s important to me.
NOW tell me it doesn't matter.
Oh gosh I can't lie, it's Christmas! Okay I'll confess, I've been playing Guitar Hero with my son, who is in town for the Holidays. He and his girlfriend were supposed to arrive Monday but called Friday night and said they were on their way. I guess he enjoys the fact that he needs no reservations to come home and I think he does this on purpose to keep some spontaneity in my life.
And speaking of reservations, during his visit he introduced me to a very cool show on the Travel Channel called Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. This guy is a veteran food service worker, chef and author who travels around the world and sampling different foods and cultures. He is funny and irreverent.
Keith has loved watching food shows since he was very young and is quite the chef himself. He beats his mom spatulas down when it comes to cooking. But I can still beat him at Guitar Hero. So far, anyway.
See, it didn't matter how old we were, how much knowledge we had of the topic, etc. What mattered is that we had a common interest. We had a great time with these people, learning all about the science of rocks.
One of the members took quite a liking to us and I guess sort of decided he would be our mentor. He even took our whole family on a special, private field trip to collect rocks and fossils. He had been granted special permission to go inside a local quarry and invited us to come along. He showed us how to find crystals and fossils, how to extract them from the adjoining rock and explained the details of each rock, fossil and crystal we found.
In short, he was our teacher for the day. But none of us thought we were in school.
We were having so much fun and my husband was too, but he still thought it was kind of strange, that we were all so interested in rocks. While we were taking a lunch break, my husband kind of offhandedly joked, "Gosh I hope we don't turn our kids into nerds."
And that's when our new-found friend really went off. He reminded us that this was just our old way of thinking that we learned in school, that if you were interested in scientific ideas and such, then you were generally called names like "nerd" and teased a lot. I could tell by the way he relayed this information, that he suffered through this himself.
He taught John and I a lot that day, and it wasn't all just about the science of rocks.
I decided to play around a bit for myself and found a video of a guy explaining how to use food when teaching fractions. But he wasn't using food. He was using notepaper and had drawings of a pizza and a loaf of bread on his notesheet. What's that all about? I mean, if you're going to make a video about using food to teach math, doesn't it makes sense to use real food?
This site is all about freedom and fun so of course I recommend using real food. Real food is much more fun, whether it's used for fractions or for food fights. (And every homeschooling family should be having food fights.) Can you imagine having a food fight using drawings of food? That would certainly have changed that scene in Animal House. Really now, get the real stuff and have some fun.
If you don't I'll have to put you on double-secret probation.
But a word of warning based on experience: If you use real food, it's possible that for the rest of your life, you'll be like Pavlov's Dog and salivate every time you look at a written fraction.
Which can be really embarrassing on a field trip to visit a stock market.
So I guess I should be sharing ideas for those days when you get a good amount of snow. If it was totally up to me, a good snow day would be filled with sleeping, eating and either watching a movie or reading a book set somewhere in the Caribbean Islands.
But since kids usually want to actually get out in the stuff, here are three things you can do in the snow to bring out your family's artistic side:
1. Build a snow fort or castle. Bread loaf pans make great molds for snow bricks by the way.
2. Make snow sculptures to scare away annoying little neighbors.
3. Or make snow sculptures to attract crazy cartoon fans.
Great news readers. Melissa and Keith have decided they may occasionally want to participate in my blog! Apparently yesterday's topic convinced them that it could be useful if they came on and gave their perspective once in a while. I guess they have more to add which would help my readers understand our homeschooling experience better. You know, like my book did.
Is that right, Keith?
Well, yeah Mom, we just decided that sometimes you can be well, umm, forgetful, I guess. And the details you forget we think are important for readers to know.
Hmm, so I forgot something about the park hopping? Do tell.
Okay, well, readers, the reason mom 'invented' park hopping wasn't really so that we could enjoy the various benefits of different parks in a single day. It came about because of more, umm, practical reasons.
Keith what are you talking about? That's not how I remember it.
Well, I didn't think you would. Let me give an example of one day I remember in particular. One of my favorite parks has a great merry-go-round. But mom insisted on joining us and got sick and threw up all over the ride. Once that happened, there was no use staying there, so we left and went to another one to have lunch.While at the next park, after lunch, mom was playing with my magnifying glass and set fire to the shelterhouse. So of course we stopped, dropped and rolled quickly from that one and headed to another park.
This next park had some great swings and by this time school was out so there were a lot of kids there already. I remember Melissa and I grabbed the last two regular swings and Mom strained into the only swing left, one of those baby swings with the full plastic seat that has leg holes in them.
We had to call the paramedics to get her out.
Hey now wait a minute-
Which certainly was embarrassing enough for us. But then they had to call the neighboring city for help. I remember the paramedic saying something on his radio about needing "the jaws of life for herculean hips."
Keith, I don't remember it that way at ALL. Maybe this isn't such a good idea.
Different parks usually have different offerings, whether it be equipment, or terrain, or activities and usually no single park has everything your family enjoys doing. But with park hopping, you can have lots of fun enjoying your favorite parks and their unique offerings all in one day.
So if you ever start to feel like the blahs are setting in, maybe you should just dump your previous plans and try a day of park hopping.
Some families desperately want to do this, but just don't know how to start. What's the best way to really find out your child's interests?
The most obvious way, by just asking them, isn't necessarily the best way for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the child is already a bit jaded by previous schooling experiences and tends to give answers that they think you want to hear. Sometimes they just can't articulate it or even really understand what you really mean when you ask.
So here's my suggestion. Take some time off from whatever structured learning you may have currently set up, (I recommend at least a week) and just let your child do what he wants to do.
Then get out your binoculars and your deerstalker hat. You can skip the pipe if you want. :)
Now start observing and looking for clues. What does he talk about? What is the activity he did most often? Take notes and at the end of your observation period, look over the notes for any patterns and ideas on what your child is into for the moment.
Now it's time to get creative. Think of ways you could used these natural interests for even more learning. If you need help after you've created your list, let me know and I'll be glad to help.
Most of all, have fun!
But in reality, every child performs at varying grade levels depending on the subject. We all have natural talents and interests which means we would likely be ahead of our age peers in that particular area at the very least.
I suppose the idea of grade levels started because institutionalized schools needed a way to organize and group large numbers of students to help keep everything in order.
So if you are homeschooling, don't concern yourself too much with grade levels. It's just not that important. What's important is that your child is learning and growing. And if you relax and have fun together, that's going to happen naturally.
Of course, the answer to this question is as individual as each family who decides to take this step. But over the years, I've noticed the question morph a bit into:
Why do you homeschool?
A. Religious reasons
B. Academic reasons
Apparently society has a need to propose this question in multiple choice form. Fine. I'll accept that. Except they forgot one.
It's a very important one that I don't think enough homeschoolers even consider to give as an answer. But we should. I guarantee it would lead to much more interesting follow up questions and everyone involved in the conversation would learn and benefit and see education differently. Here it is:
C. Fun reasons
How about we do an experiment? From now on, every time someone asks you why you decided to homeschool, answer C.
Let me know what happens.
My interest in this survey isn’t really about the specific results because it’s no surprise that students cheat on tests. The real issue to look at here is WHY students cheat on tests.
If the point of our educational system truly is to help students learn, then there would be no reason for someone to cheat on a test. As a matter of fact, there would be little reason to even use artificially-created tests at all.
IF students are given freedom to learn what interests them.
Students become interested in a topic because something is going on in their daily lives to make the topic relevant. For example, if a child wants to paint his bedroom, suddenly the idea of calculating the area of a given space becomes relevant. If the child wants to draw realistic pictures, suddenly perspective is an interesting topic to study. If a child wants to complain to the manufacturer of the defective product she purchased, suddenly learning how to write a clear, organized letter becomes relevant.
No artificially-created testing is necessary.
This is a prime advantage to homeschooling, especially in the states where homeschoolers are not stifled by regulations. You have the freedom to help your children learn topics they want to know more about when it is relevant to them. I encourage you to do this as much as possible. If you do, you will know what I mean when I say you won’t need to test your children. You’ll know they are learning.
And learning is what education is supposed to be all about, isn't it?
Mr. Adler is right. These groups could have done much more to educate the attendees and given them more information to learn. It wouldn't even have to be that extensive because those interested would then be able to take that information and do more research and investigating of their own.
This method of doing something interesting and making connections is what learning is all about.
It's a prime example of how education can just simply be a part of an individual's daily life. Many people who have not had their curiosity sucked out of them through ineffective schooling experiences are hungry for educational opportunities such as these.
My husband and I perodically subscribe to Actors Theater and I am usually disappointed in the programs they hand out. I want to know much, much more than they tell me in the program. It's often just page after page of advertisements. Certainly I understand they need to create the revenue needed to maintain their programs, but a bit of extra value would be great. I would even be willing to pay a dollar or two for a separate program hand-out created to give interesting information about the presentation.
People are hungry for information on topics they are interested in, so why not find a way to feed that hunger?
Attending a wide variety of local events and activities was a huge part of our homeschooling 'curriculum.' The more the organizers of these events and activities can do to educate attendees the better.
There are several places online where you can learn how to play Peanuts. Here's one. Here's another.
Each player needs a deck of cards to play so the first thing we had to do was find grandma's stash of cards. We ended up with new slick decks, old decks that were so sticky you had to wonder where they had been, and two decks that had the same design on the back so someone differentiated between them by putting a big black slash mark on each card of one deck. This was called the Slash deck. We had one set of Scooby Doo cards which no one could read very well because they had huge pictures of the cartoon characters and tiny pictures of the suits.
Our next problem was finding a place to play. We put together two large rectangle tables to form a larger, almost square, table. This makeshift table was so large we didn't have room left for chairs, but that didn't matter anyway because everyone had to stand up in order to reach all the cards they needed to play the game.
Our family has added new rules to the game to make it more fair, since most of us like to complain that the winner must be cheating. One of the rules is that after each hand is played, everyone moves over one spot. This means that throughout a game everyone has to put up with bad table positions and also less-than-ideal decks. Before we change places, we all make sure to shuffle the deck for the next person too. None of this ever makes any difference for me. I always lose badly.
I read some of the rules online and noticed that one site says that if you get more than 5 people playing, it begins to get out of hand.
So of course my family played with 11 people.
But with Guitar Hero, I can just pick up the guitar and feel like I'm playing those songs immediately. I love it. Our whole family, from grandma on down, has played with this game. Players can improve quickly, people of different abilities can play together, with each player playing at his individual level.
You won't get a blister on your little finger; you won't get a blister on your thumb.
However, I do have one word of WARNING: If you are unable to do the splits before playing this game, you will not be able to do them while playing.
Now, please excuse me, I need to go find my ice pack.
In order to figure out how useful they might be as a learning tool, I started to play with him. Or should I say I tried to play with him. It soon became apparent that my brain couldn't send messages to my fingers fast enough to keep Super Mario from dying an early death. A very early death. I would pick up the controller and before I knew it, the poor little Italian man would be free falling to oblivion. Whenever I was playing the game, the little plumber boy spent a lot of time in a horrible pixel purgatory.
With this lack of ability, my son always beat me. Badly.
This is when I decided we needed to limit video game time. Yes, if I was ever going to have the chance to beat him, I would have to take charge as a parent and lay down some rules. Rules are important if parents want to be able to beat their kids. And I love beating my kids.
However, my plan did not work. He continued beating me at every video game I tried. Super Mario Brothers, Monster Truck Madness, Warcraft. Oh, and that stupid game where you had to quickly recall your multiplication facts. Seven times eight always messes me up. But now I'm quick to know it's 57.
So if you're like me, and you enjoy beating your children, then you should definitely limit video game time.
Watching a young child discover something for the first time is an experience all parents find amazing. Parents usually do everything they can to promote this curiosity and help their toddler learn and, in most cases, it happens naturally and easily.
But then suddenly, at a certain age, the parent's confidence in this approach can change. It can be sucked right out of them, quicker than a vacuum cleaner can suck up last year's Milk Duds your child stored inside the heating vent.
Parents are told, either outright or by implication, that just relaxing and helping your child learn what they are interested in is not good enough. No, no, the child needs to go to a formal institution and learn the 'right' way, the way educational experts have decided is best. Other people now know exactly how and what your child should be taught, in what order, how long it should take (or else they are labeled in some way), etc.
What a bunch of bunk. You don't need to send your child to an institutional school to learn. Learning happens naturally. Homeschooling is a great way to keep it natural, relaxed and fun.
Hey, by the way, as I wrote this post, I was curious about the word bunk and looked it up. Did you know that the word bunk comes from a congressman from Buncombe County in North Carolina, who, in the 1820s gave a long nonsensical speech that did not relate to the matter at hand? Apparently he wanted to make a speech 'for Buncombe' and thereafter when someone spoke nonsense it was called Buncombe and was shortened to bunk. We currently have so much bunk flying around Congress now that I think OSHA is going to start requiring safety helmets and...
Oh, sorry, I just went off the track of my post. Or did I?
I saw the video and now I say, so what? Why all the fuss when in fact there is a bigger point here and Joy Behar was the one who made it:
Barack and Michelle should homeschool their kids!
And all homeschoolers out here should be spreading the word to other homeschoolers to support and encourage these parents to take charge of their children's education.
The Obama family should have as much right to have fun homeschooling as my family did. The Obama family should have as much freedom to direct their own children's education as my family did.
And I'll be glad to support them and I'll do all I can to show them how to have fun with it.
Can you imagine how much more fun this whole family will have if they just decide to homeschool those cute little girls? Those kids will have the most amazing education ever. Think of the activities they can do, the people they can meet, the things they can learn hands-on. It's such a great idea I'm getting jealous.
Just imagine. Your dad is President of the United States and you are homeschooled. That would rock!
Think of all Barack and Michelle could do with their kids if they weren't trapped in ANY institutional school, private or government.
So come on, Mr. and Mrs. Obama, you can do it! I know you can. Don't be afraid or feel like you don't have what it takes to do it as many parents are when they first consider the idea. You'll have a lot of support as homeschoolers everywhere will be there for you.
Why not give two of the best gifts you could ever give to your entire family: freedom and fun through homeschooling.
When I hear about other states, I feel fortunate that I live in Indiana and did so the entire time I homeschooled my kids through highschool. Indiana is known as one of the most free states for homeschoolers. In Indiana, homeschools are simply non-accredited private schools and do not have to follow laws and regulations set up for accredited or government schools.
This is a big reason I think our family was so successful. We had the freedom and flexibility to do what made sense for our family. We could change things quickly and there was no bureaucracy or heavy-handed regulation.
Well, unless you count the forms my kids made me fill out when I wanted permission for 5 minutes of privacy in the bathroom.
I know from experience that homeschooling parents often get so mired up in the details that they sometimes can't see how well it's really working and how much fun homeschooling can be.
If you want to homeschool, you can. One of the very best things about homeschooling is the freedom you and your children gain from the experience.
You are in charge. You get the freedom to make the best decision that fits your family.
You get the flexibility you need to find options that best fit your family's needs and situation.
With this freedom and flexibility, you also get to have lots of fun with your children.
What could be better than that?
Simply answer the questions below and send them to me at:
Remove the parentheses inserted above before sending.
You can answer these questions yourself or get the whole family to participate.
I look forward to seeing your responses. :)
1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?
2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?
3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?
4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?
NOTE: Please tell me what state you live in, whether you want me to mention your full name or just your first name, whether you have a blog or other link you want me to mention, and finally, please submit a photo if you have one.
By answering 4 simple questions, each family shares valuable insights as to how homeschooling works. Each family is unique, yet you will quickly discover similarities in their ultimate goals and desire for the freedom to reach those goals in a way that fits their family’s individual needs.
These 4 questions demonstrate how to raise curious, life-long learners in an atmosphere of freedom and fun.
Please browse around and see for yourself what educational freedom really means.
And if you are a homeschooler yourself, please join in this project! Learn more here.
And of course they're right. Therefore, I have decided to start a Dear Debbie segment on this blog, sharing any helpful advice I can on homeschooling, parenting and whatever else comes to mind.
Here we go...
Do you have any good ideas on how I can make money so I can stay home with my kids? Keep in mind that I am lazy and really don't want to have to do any actual work. You seem like the perfect person to ask this question so tell me, any ideas?
You're correct, I am the perfect person to answer this inquiry. If you are indeed as lazy as I am then I already know your house has that lovely lived-in look. And smell. Well, lucky you, because now you have some great ways to make money at home! Here are ten suggestions to get you started:
1. Offer your kids' services as earthmoving equipment. In one afternoon, a child can move literally tons of dirt from outside the house to the inside, so this ability has to be valuable to construction companies. Just charge a bit lower than the nearest Caterpillar Rental Center and you're set.
2. Contact Global Positioning Manufacturers and offer your teen's room as a testing center. If their satellite system can find the GPS unit's location in the room, the company knows it's ready to market to the public.
3. Be a part of the lucrative movie business! It's easy. Just continue to let your home get as dirty as possible, have a movie sound technician team set up their equipment, and then invite your mother over for a visit. The sound technicians will be able to record their best screams ever.
4. Take note of the steps and moves you make while dodging Legos under your bare feet on your way to sneak some ice cream out of the fridge. Again. You can then sell these as dance steps to the choreographers for Dancing With The Washed-Up Stars. (Then maybe you'll be able to afford a pair of shoes, which of course is a much better idea than actually expending any energy picking up and organizing the Legos.)
5. Finally, if gambling is legal in your state, then take bets on what's in that plastic leftover container in the back of the fridge. Keep 20% of the take for the house. As a bonus, let the winner keep the bowl.
I hope these five ideas help you get started Susan. Yeah, I know I said I had ten but I've worked so hard already and desperately need a nap so 5 will have to do. Good luck!