Learning How to Learn…And Loving It!

Learning How to Learn...And Loving It!
Learning How to Learn…And Loving It!

When I retired as Homeschool Teacher, I started blogging because I enjoyed writing and wanted to learn more about using the internet. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising, but that was right before the internet came to be, so my education didn’t include anything about it. I haven’t always enjoyed writing, either. I went to school before the days of word processing when writing anything, either by hand or typewriter, meant writing and re-writing, and using a bottle of Liquid Paper, to produce a paper worth turning in. All of that time, not to mention the tedious assignments, made me dislike it. In a seemingly short time, the world had changed a lot because of personal computers and the internet.

Inspired by My Students

I was inspired by my kids because they had learned how to learn. During their childhood, they had the benefit of the internet to look up anything they wanted, at pretty much any time. They didn’t wait to take a class, they figured it out theirselves. I’d been a little envious of that. When I was growing up, the only resource I had at home was a set of encyclopedias, and it wasn’t exactly up to date.

Learning How to Learn

Nurturing the Love of Learning

One of our homeschool goals was for our children to learn how to learn. More specifically, we wanted to nurture the love of learning that they’re naturally born with. It’s the same principle as the common proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Every education is going to have gaps. We can’t know what the future holds for our children, or what they’ll need to know. Additionally, technology changes at such a rapid pace that by the time it’s in a textbook it’s out of date. But if our children learn how to learn, then they can learn anything. Knowing how to learn is more than a skill, it’s having confidence in one’s self to learn independently.

Fostering Independence

So how do we foster this independence? I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have some suggestions based on my personal experience.

There are a variety of approaches to homeschooling, and one of them, Unschooling, is child-led, and follows their interests. While many families follow that style of homeschooling, all families can implement its principles to some degree.

  1. In kids’ free time, during holidays, and school breaks, encourage them to pursue their interests.
  2. Make sure your children have free time. Don’t over-schedule them.
  3. Design a purposeful environment by providing your children with materials that are educational, wholesome, and are in keeping with your beliefs. Consider culling anything that doesn’t meet that criteria.
  4. As they mature, give them more responsibility in planning their classes and activities.
  5. If you see an aptitude, look for opportunities to nourish it through extra-curricular activities, online classes, clubs, or camps where they can learn more and meet others with the same interest. Look for a mentor or apprenticeship. Don’t be shy about asking fellow homeschoolers for ideas. You never know, another homeschool parent or grandparent may have just the expertise you’re looking for, or know where you can find it.
  6. Don’t get so caught up in following curriculum that it doesn’t allow kids to investigate other things. Learning is learning, and they learn better when it’s their idea. Like another famous proverb – “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” – you can force kids to do homework, but you can’t force true learning. Learning is more than memorizing facts, it’s an internalizing or synthesizing of the information, being able to dissect it and recombine it in new ways, and explain it.
  7. Don’t underestimate your child’s desire or ability to learn. They will all have their own pace and capability, but God created us to learn. They’re like little sponges. If they seem unable or unwilling to learn, it may be that the natural love of learning has been driven out of them because current subjects or methods aren’t meeting their needs. Re-examine your method and materials to see if some changes are needed.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Carry On, Mr. BowditchYears ago we read a book called Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham. We’ve read a lot of good books through school, but this one was particularly inspiring. It’s a biography about Nathaniel Bowditch, who, despite adverse circumstances, found ways to learn the information he craved, such as borrowing books or finding apprenticeships. Primarily self-educated, he was a mathematical genius, and considered the Founder of Modern Maritime Navigation. Nathaniel Bowditch knew how to learn.

Learning Curves

A steep learning curve can be exciting, yet stressful. I’m more empathetic about that now. I already knew how to write, but all of the technology related to blogging was totally new. Since the beginning of my blog, I’ve learned a slew of new terms and skills, and there were a few times that I needed to learn so much so fast that I felt like my head was going to explode.

Learning How to LearnHomeschooling my kids helped to revive my own love of learning, and watching the variety of interests they’ve pursued has inspired me to pursue my own.

Learning should be a life-long pursuit. At least I hope it will be for me. It keeps life interesting and my mind stimulated. What new things are you learning?

This post has been shared on some of my My Favorite Blog Hops.

Related Reading

Boredom: Gateway to Creativity

Raising World-Changers…second-generation unschooling

Thinking Outside the Desk while Homeschooling

When we first began homeschooling, I was a voracious reader about teaching styles and methods. I read many books that caused me to rethink education and convinced me that I didn’t need to recreate my own school experience. Maybe it was even better not to. With my mind opened to new possibilities, I was motivated to think outside the desk, and determined to find what worked for our family – what allowed our children to flourish and didn’t burn me out as the teacher. I wanted all of us to enjoy our homeschooling lifestyle.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use one of my links to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. It doesn’t cost you any extra, but helps to support my blog.

Living Books

When studying different approaches to homeschooling, the Charlotte Mason, or  “Living Book Approach” most appealed to me. It relied heavily on literature (versus textbooks) and allowed me to teach both of my children, who were four years apart, at the same time in many subjects. As a result, I spent a lot of time reading out loud to both of them in subjects such as Bible, Literature, Science, and History. A few years into homeschooling I discovered Sonlight Curriculum and we used it for over ten years.

Experimenting

I had read The War Against Boys when our son was about four years old. In her book, author Christina Hoff Sommers wrote that many schools were cutting recess time, or doing away with it altogether, and how that negatively affected boys, in particular. It made sense to me that young children needed to move around, so when we started homeschooling I did as much school outside as possible. While I read aloud, I would let Hayden (and later, Margaret) swing, climb a tree, or even ride his bike nearby, as long as he could hear my voice. When we had school inside I also let the kids keep their hands busy. Hayden usually played with Legos while Margaret usually drew. I stopped often and asked the kids to tell me what I had just read. It amazed me, that even though they were being active, they could usually repeat what I had read, pretty much verbatim.Thinking Outside the Desk While Homeschooling

Kinesthetic Learning

In 2006 there was a movie called Akeelah and the Bee. It was about a young girl who discovered she had an aptitude for spelling, and she advanced through the local and regional Spelling Bees, eventually winning the national Spelling Bee. The movie followed her through the process and chronicled how she came to find and hire a coach and the methods he used to prepare her.

Jump rope

At one point he discovers that she retains the information better while she is doing something rhythmic such as jumping rope or bouncing a ball. This type of learning is called “kinesthetic.” I had already discovered for myself that my son learned very well while having the freedom of movement.

Also consider this report from Plymouth University and Western Sydney University which considers the impact that outdoor learning has on a child’s quality of life. Student Outcomes and Natural Schooling.

Homeschooling Advantage

This is one of those areas where homeschooling really gives us an advantage to cater to the needs of our kids. I started homeschooling with an assumption that, in order to learn, kids needed to be sitting quietly at a desk (or table). Not only is that not true, but from my own homeschool experiences, I now believe that by meeting the physical need for muscles to move, it frees the mind to learn even better. Not all children have this need, but for the ones that do, it makes a huge difference.

If you are new to homeschooling and have young children, try letting your kids be busy with their bodies, or even just hands, while you read aloud and see how it affects their listening and retaining skills. If your kids are older and you have similar experiences, I would love to read about them, so please share in the comments.

This post has been shared on some of my favorite blog hops.

Helpful Links

Sonlight Curriculum

Five Homeschooling Styles

What Schools Can Do to Help Boys Succeed

Characteristics of Kinesthetic Learners

Student Outcomes and Natural Schooling

Thinking Outside the Desk While Homeschooling
Thinking Outside the Desk While Homeschooling

Have a Merry and Memorable Flea Market Christmas

As we approach the holiday season your thoughts may already be turning towards Christmas and everything it entails. Most families’ celebrations are steeped in traditions that everyone looks forward to year after year, but just in case you’d like to shake things up a little bit, I wanted to share an idea with you.

Several years ago my family wanted to do something different so I suggested that the adults shop for each other at flea markets. We still exchanged gifts, but at a fraction of the price. That Christmas was different, alright. Where normally we would remove price tags, that year we gleefully bragged about how little we’d spent on the gift. We all had so much fun laughing.

Even though you’ll spend less shopping at flea markets, that doesn’t mean that less thought goes into the gifts. You should give some thought to what others might like, what they collect, or what they definitely would not want. Spending a large amount on a gift doesn’t guarantee the recipient will like it. At least this way, if they don’t like it, they don’t have to feel as guilty about wasted money.

What do you collect?
What do you collect?
Affordable Jewelry
Affordable Jewelry
Thrifty Fun

Because it’s thrifty, this is a way for everyone to feel equally involved in gift-giving since differences in amount spent are not as evident. It’s possible to find a treasure – something that is worth more than its price, or that will appreciate with time. You can also include “White Elephant” gifts (things you already have but don’t use) or homemade gifts.img_1944

Flea Market Christmas Decorating

Gifts aren’t the only thing you can find at flea markets, you can find some great decorations, too. You can find things to fit any decorating style, or recreate the feel of your grandmother’s house.

Flea Market Christmas Decorations
Flea Market Christmas Decorations
Santa Claus
Santa Claus
Have a Merry and Memorable Flea Market Christmas
Crafty Snowmen
Christmas Games

Need a gift for one of those crazy Christmas games? Look no further than your closest flea market for something that will be the life of the party!img_1938

Record Your Memories

I think I can guarantee that if you have a Flea Market Christmas it will be one you will never forget! Be sure to take some pictures, and you might want to record the details in your Email Journal so you can relive it at future family get-togethers.

If I were shopping for a gift for you, what should I look for?

All photos taken at Bella Vista Vintage in Bella Vista, Arkansas.

Post shared on Hearts for Home Blog HopThe Homesteader HopOur Simple Homestead Blog Hop and The Modern Homesteading Blog Hop.

Related Reading

Let’s Go Flea Marketing!

Have a Merry and Memorable Flea Market Christmas
Have a Merry and Memorable Flea Market Christmas

Save Your Memories with an Easy Email Journal

I have kept an “email journal” since my children were small. Periodically, I would write an email to my parents and sister about my family’s activities, then I would print it out and keep a copy for myself. I’ve put about twenty years of journals into 3-ring binders. It’s fun to go back and read through them and remember some of the things we’ve done. I especially enjoy re-reading the funny things my kids said and did when they were younger. Here are a few examples:

October, 2004 (Margaret, 6 yrs)

Today the kids and I went to our new Walmart Supercenter for the third time since it’s grand opening, yesterday. I was trying on sunglasses and all of a sudden, Margaret started crying and yelling at me, “MOVE! MOVE! Go somewhere else!” I had no idea why she was so panicked. I asked her if she was feeling sick, or if she had to go to the bathroom. No. She was upset because she had touched a watch, and at that moment, someone over the loudspeaker said, “Call the police!” (Hayden said that they said something else with “please” in it. I didn’t hear it at all.) I tried to convince her that they wouldn’t call the police on her just because she touched a watch, but she wouldn’t believe me. She did calm down, though. When we got home, I suggested that Margaret take a bath before gymnastics, which she did. Hayden started playing a new PlayStation game that he had bought – a racing game complete with police sirens. When Margaret heard the sirens, she thought the police were coming for her, so she jumped out of the bathtub and ran to get dressed. Then she realized that the sirens were coming from Hayden’s game. I’ve been chuckling about this all afternoon!

June, 2005 (Hayden, 10 yrs)

You may have noticed that Hayden is drawn to anything electronic and technical. A few days ago he changed the ringer on my cell phone so that it clucks like a chicken when I’m getting a call. Yesterday I was sitting in the library looking at a magazine while the kids were watching a movie. The clucking started and people were looking around with the funniest expressions, trying to figure out where it was coming from. I suddenly realized it was my phone, grabbed my purse and hustled out of the library.

The email journal was an efficient way to keep in touch and preserve memories at the same time. I tried the scrapbooking craze, but found that it was a time-consuming and expensive hobby. This method worked better for me.

Steps to start An Email Journal of your own
  1. Write a newsy email about what you’ve been doing lately. Remembering to write periodically may be the hardest part. Frequency is up to you, but the more often you write, the more memories you’ll preserve.
  2. Send to its intended recipients.
  3. Print out a copy for yourself.
  4. Use either a 3-hole punch or plastic page protectors to put them in 3-ring binders.
  5. Include photos in your journal, optional. You can buy plastic sleeves for that purpose. This is something I wish I had done from the beginning.

It’s never too late to start. You may also want to include emails you receive from friends and family. Do you have a funny story to share?

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Caution: Warnings from a Retired Homeschool Mom

Shared on Blessed MOMdays Link Up Party and Homestead Blog Hop and The Homesteader Hop.

Warnings from a Retired Homeschool Mom

If you arrived at this post while researching homeschooling, I’m glad I caught you in time. I need to warn you about some things before you make this life-altering decision for your family!

  1. Once you begin to see learning everywhere you just can’t unsee it.
  2. Once you’ve learned to think outside the box, it’s really hard to get back in.
  3. Being with your children all of the time is really tough…to let go of when they fly the nest.
  4. Your children may not learn to stand in line or raise their hand to speak until they’re in their teens.
  5. When they start college classes they may do annoying things like attend class, answer questions (if they’ve learned to raise their hand), visit the teacher’s office (gasp!), work ahead on their own, and turn their homework in on time.
  6. A day may come when you are no longer needed as a teacher and you will be demoted to taxi driver and counselor.
  7. You may have to duck under doorways while wearing all of your different hats (teacher, cafeteria worker, custodian, chauffeur, nurse, etc.)
  8. When your final student graduates you may have feelings of withdrawal from field trips and park days.
  9. Homeschooling is a very independent venture. No two homeschooling families are alike. In fact, no two homeschool students are alike, either. From year-to-year and semester-to-semester you will constantly be tweaking to tailor your homeschool to the changing needs of your students. At times you may feel alone, overwhelmed, and like no one understands.

If, after reading this, you are still thinking about taking the plunge, then go for it. Your life will never be the same, and I mean that in the best possible way. There’s nothing I can say to prepare you for the unique challenges of a Homeschool Mom, but I can’t begin to describe the joy it brings, either.

If you are an experienced Homeschool Mom, what would you add to this list of warnings?

Related Reading

9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling – A step-by-step guide to help new homeschoolers get started quickly and stress-free.

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7 Lessons I Learned from “The Animal School”


Jamie’s Restaurant, Harrison, Arkansas ~ Worth the Drive

My husband and I prefer eating at local diners when possible. We just think it’s fun to get a feel for the local flavor and support small businesses. Occasionally, we stumble onto a real gem. That happened when we stopped at Jamie’s Restaurant in Harrison, Arkansas.

Jamie’s Restaurant, Harrison, Arkansas

Located on the end of a strip center, Jamie’s had a cute exterior, but it didn’t give away the secret of what was inside. The waitstaff all wore black uniforms and delivered dishes that looked like they were coming out of a five-star restaurant kitchen.

Jamie’s Restaurant Interior

As I was looking over the menu, I couldn’t help but overhear the couple at the next table, “oohing” and “aahing” over their lunch. So I turned around and asked what they had ordered. One of them had gotten chicken strips and French Fries. I couldn’t help but wonder what could be so special about that ordinary dish to make her rave like that. Her husband had gotten the Creole Blackened Catfish, and he, too, raved and said it was “excellent.”

Returning to all of the tempting options on the menu, I decided to try the Broiled Lemon Pepper Catfish ($9.99) It came with a small Strawberry Salad. My husband, Scott, ended up ordering the Hand Breaded Chicken Strips and French Fries. ($8.99) I rushed to get a picture before he dove into it.

Hand Breaded Chicken Strips and French Fries

Afterwards, I asked him how he liked them. He said, “They were fresh and moist, not overcooked. They were excellent,”and then added, “they exceeded my expectations.”

I could say the same for mine. The catfish fillet, served over a bed of rice, was moist and cooked to perfection. The salad looked amazing with fresh mixed greens, strawberries, orange segments, and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. I asked for the dressing on the side. I don’t know exactly what it was but I would describe it as a strawberry vinaigrette. It was delicious and a little went a long way. I loved seeing the red stem of a baby chard leaf in there! So pretty!

Broiled Lemon Pepper Catfish and Strawberry Salad

They served their drinks in quart-sized Mason jars, and even the black straws kept with their black theme. Their menu had an amazing variety of old favorites, healthy options, and gourmet adventures. We felt the prices were very reasonable, especially with the high quality of the dishes. We couldn’t help but notice all of the beautiful presentations as meals were delivered to tables around us.

If you’re ever in the vicinity of Harrison, Arkansas, then you should definitely make a point of visiting Jamie’s Restaurant. Take it from Michelle and Scott – it is definitely worth the drive.

Jamie’s Restaurant Facebook Page

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Greater Inspiration ~ An Interview with David Hunt

Stitch Fix September 2016

Yea! My Fall Stitch Fix is here! I think fall is my favorite season to buy clothes for because I like the cozy fabrics and layering, and with the cooler weather that’s possible again.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you use one of them to make a purchase, I earn a small commission. It doesn’t cost you any extra, but helps to support my blog.

Stitch Fix News

Before we dig into the box, there is news to share with you – Stitch Fix now offers styling for men.  They are also accommodating exchanges. To learn more, you can visit Stitch Fix by clicking on any of the links or banners in my post.



First Impressions
Opened Stitch Fix Box
Just-opened Stitch Fix Box

When I first opened the box, I saw the “duster bag” and knew there must be some shoes in there, so I opened it and pulled them out.

Petite Ballet Flats by BC Footwear
Petite Ballet Flats by BC Footwear

They were a beautiful burgundy and my first thought was that I liked them, but I didn’t think I had anything that color in my wardrobe. Still, I tried to keep an open mind. Turning the wrapped bundle on it’s side, I saw a lot of dark colors, which was okay, but the lack of contrast made it a little harder to distinguish the different items. They were all colors I would wear, though, so that was a good sign.

Stylist’s Note

I pulled out the Style Card and read Cindy’s note. She referenced items I bought previously and I really liked that, because I was hoping that over time she would help me build a wardrobe of things that worked well together. She also referred to my Pinterest board, showing that she had paid attention to what I’d pinned there.

Lazarus Quilted Puffer Vest, Corinna Brushed Dolman nit Top, and Molly Ankle Zip Detail Legging
Lazarus Quilted Puffer Vest, Corinna Brushed Dolman Knit Top, and Molly Ankle Zip Detail Legging

(I wouldn’t normally wear these shoes with this outfit, but I didn’t like the tennis shoes I tried on with it. I’ve ordered new ones but they weren’t here yet.)

Corinna Brushed Dolman Knit Top by Market & Spruce ($54)

When I first touched this top I was struck by its softness and looked forward to trying it on. It’s a nice length, and colors I would wear. I like that it has 3/4 sleeves, and also how they directed the stripes on them. This top is one that I could wear a lot so I decided to keep it.

Lazarus Quilted Puffer Vest by Tart ($88)
Back Detail of Lazarus Quilted Puffer Vest
Back Detail of Lazarus Quilted Puffer Vest

This black quilted vest has a lot of gold-tone hardware on it. It’s something that could be dressed up or down and seems good quality. After sleeping on it (figuratively), I tried it on again and really liked it. I also noticed that the zipper on the back of the collar concealed a hoodie. I tried that on and it’s nice and roomy, unlike some. I think this vest is something I could use a lot, and I like how it goes with the top. Kept.

Molly Ankle Zip Detail Legging by Kut From the Kloth ($78)

In my note to the stylist when I scheduled this Fix, I suggested that maybe I could try some things that fit the new athleisure trend. My husband and I have talked about trying to have dates that included walking, so I thought it might be nice to have something for that. These leggings are very nice. They could be dressed up or down, and the fabric feels like good quality. They have zippers at the ankles, and a permanent sown pleat down the front of the legs, but that may be hard to see. I tried these on again the next morning, and decided not to keep them. They don’t ride high enough in back to feel comfortable to me, so I’m going to return them.

Freida Skinny Jean and Petite Ballet Flats

Freida Skinny Jean and Petite Ballet Flats (top and cardigan from previous Fix)
Freida Skinny Jean by Mavi ($98)

These were super skinny jeans. I know that they’re in, but I’m just not sure about them. They really weren’t all that comfortable to me because they hit too low in the back. For that price they would have to be perfect and make me feel great. They fall short of that so they’ll be returned.

Petite Ballet Flats by BC Footwear ($60)

When I first pulled these shoes out I didn’t think I had anything to wear with them, but in her note, my stylist, Cindy, suggested trying them with the pink cardigan and polka dot blouse that I bought in the August Fix. They do look nice together. They’re a pretty shade of burgundy and feel like suede. They’re very comfortable. After debating about these, I think I’ll keep them. I really don’t have any colored shoes in my wardrobe, and I think that since they are flats that I’ll be able to wear them for many years. I have several pink things that I could wear them with, and it’d be fun to ask for something in my next Fix to wear with them, too. I also wanted to mention that I’ve enjoyed the duster bags that Stitch Fix shoes come in. They’ve come in real handy when traveling.

How Stitch Fix Works

In case you are new to Stitch Fix, I want to give you a quick run-down on how it works. You can get an even fuller understanding from reading my previous posts about Stitch Fix, as well as see other things I have received from them.

  • When you set up your account, you will fill out your “Style Profile.” It doesn’t cost anything to do this, so I encourage you to check it out. The Style Profile is how your stylist gets to know you, everything from your sizing to your style preferences. Tip: You are able to include a link to a Pinterest board where you can pin pictures of clothing and accessories, whether from Stitch Fix, or not, for your stylist to study in preparing your Fix. Take advantage of this for the best Fix possible! You are welcome to pin photos from my blog if there is something you’d like to try.
  • When you schedule a Fix, you are charged a $20 Styling Fee. Your stylist will choose five items from among clothing, shoes, bags, and jewelry. If there are any categories that you don’t want things from, you can specify that in your Profile. If you keep at least one item, the Styling Fee is deducted from your total.
  • Once you receive your Fix, you have three business days to try everything on and make your decisions. Even if your first impression of something isn’t good, go ahead and try it on. That’s part of the fun, to let your stylist help you get a little out of your comfort zone and choose things you wouldn’t choose for yourself. I would further advise you to have someone take pictures of you. It has really helped me make decisions and I’ve changed my mind several times because of them. You also have time to “sleep on it,” and make sure of your decisions.
  • Stitch Fix sends a pre-addressed and pre-paid return envelope, so all you have to do is put the unwanted items into it, seal it, and drop it in a mailbox. Extremely fast and easy!!
  • Go on line to your Stitch Fix account to check out. Here each item will be listed and you specify whether you are keeping or returning. There is also a box for you to type notes to your stylist about what you did or didn’t like about it. Please take advantage of this opportunity to give them feedback. It helps you get the best Fixes possible.
  • If you choose to keep all five items, you receive a 25% discount. Sometimes ladies buy all five pieces for the discount and then sell the ones they don’t want in Facebook Stitch Fix groups, so there’s another option.

I hope you’ve had fun peeking at my Fix. If you’re ready to try it for yourself, I would really appreciate it if you would use one of my affiliate links by clicking on one of the Stitch Fix banners or links in my post.


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Stitch Fix July 2016

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Stitch Fix September 2016