Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thank Goodness for Rachel

I'm often asked how I can teach my child every subject. The questions are asked as if we learn in a vacuum. I suppose most people think that homeschoolers must be all alone at home all the time. AH and I strive to be out in the community: both the general and the local homeschooling community. The homeschoolers I know read blogs, Internet sites, books and magazines for inspiration and help. They love to share what they learn. Most of my inspiration and ideas come from others who are homeschooling themselves. The most helpful suggestion I've ever received came from Rachel, a homeschool mom in St. Paul who I found myself working with during the Minnesota State Fair. What wise ideas did she impart? She simply recommended a book, Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of your ADD child, by Jeffery Freed and Laurie Parsons. AH doesn't suffer from ADD (we've had him tested) but he is extremely right-brained. Rachel also has a right-brained learner, so I immediately requested the book from our library. I read the book with interest, not thinking it was going to change our homeschooling lives, and was intrigued with the author's ideas. It was the chapter on spelling that changed everything for us. AH has had an extremely hard time with spelling. His is atrocious! We've tried all sorts of systems and books and methods to no avail. Here was one chapter of a book that unlocked the mystery of spelling. I remember thinking to myself, "Could it really be this simple?" As the author suggested, I chose a word that had multiple syllables and that he wouldn't know how to spell: Cartography. I spelled it out on a sheet of paper like so:


I called AD in from another room and asked him to study the word and make a mental image of it in his mind. I gave him 20 seconds. Then I covered the word and asked him to spell it. Without much hesitation, he spelled it correctly! This is a child who had difficulty spelling the word from! The author then tells you to ask the child to spell it backwards. I thought there was no way AH would be able to do that, but I tried anyway. With that mental image in his mind, AH spelled it backwards correctly! I cried that day and almost everyday that we work on spelling. It's fun to see the pride on his face when he remembers how to spell a word. And, yes, he can still spell cartography correctly!

Thank goodness for Rachel! Sometimes inspiration is sitting right next to you.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Frozen Dreaming

January in Minnesota can be beautiful and bitterly cold and dangerous at the same time. I do love living here even though I have been known to complain about the weather (Minnesotans are notorious for complaining about the weather All. The. Time.) Before we have our famous January thaw, one of my ways of coping with the bitter cold is to brew a hot cup of dark roast and open up my seed catalogs. I am instantly transported to warmer days. It is heavenly reading. I take notes, draw up diagrams of the garden, research plants. Does any real garden come close the the frozen dreams in January? So many goals, hopes, dreams, and plans. I'm an idea person so I love to let my imagination fly. The gardens of my dreams are lush, beautiful and practical, and there are never any bugs! Though my real garden never quite measures up to the garden in my head, I do believe it benefits from these moments in the middle of January when all is possible.