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Up High, Down Low – ONE simple method to celebrate your kids each week!

Up High, Down Low – ONE simple method to celebrate your kids each week!

When your house rolls seven deep, it’s tough enough to make sure everyone is still alive at sundown.

It’s even tougher to ensure that the more important family-building, “good parenting” stuff gets done too, especially in recognizing and celebrating each individual child.  And not only that, if we’re not careful, we can go in a very opposite direction.

“Don’t you ever close the door behind you?”

“Stop touching your brother.”

“ENOUGH with the noise!”

In order to turn the tide in our own family, we started creating space to specifically and publicly celebrate each child. We added “High Fives” to our weekly family meeting as a way to celebrate those moments when the kids really did play together nicely or show perseverance on the soccer field or actually stay in bed at bedtime. During High Fives, anyone can raise a hand and offer a shout-out to another family member. We encourage the kids to think back on the week and high five anyone who has done a great job, particularly in living out our family values.

I want to high-five Marcus for helping me pick up my legos yesterday.

I’d like to high-five Emily because she showed toughness when she got hurt on the playground.

High five to mama because she made us a yummy lunch.

Here’s why you should look to add this to your weekly routine – be it in a family meeting, long car ride or simply once a week at dinnertime:

Positive specific praise shows love and builds confidence.

I don’t care if you’re seven or seventy-seven, a genuine compliment feels great. In fact, words of affirmation are so powerful that they’re one of the five main love languages Gary Chapman identifies in his national best-selling book, The 5 Love Languages. It’s a proven way to express and experience love.

When one of our children hears a high-five is coming at them, the change is visible: he sits up a little taller and wry, proud smile spreads across his face. It reinforces family values.

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We have five family values that we talk about on a weekly basis with our kids. Even the four-year old can identify and give examples for the values because our high fives reflect them. “Cam showed me love (one of our values) yesterday because she played with me in her room.” These values aren’t just random words posted on some hipster typography canvas hanging in our home (although we’re suckers for typography art). Our kids know what they are and why they are important to our family . . . even if they don’t model this behavior all the time. Simply knowing is step one.

It encourages positive language between siblings.

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    Not only do high fives encourage the kids to think positively about each other during the week, but they’re also learning how to respectfully interact with one another. Most children tend to be kind and respectful to people they don’t know, but it’s not necessarily the same with their siblings. Sometimes they’ll have to dig pretty deep (and it’s usually pretty funny) to find something high-five worthy, but the act is worth the effort even if it’s not the most poetic praise. Also, it’s one thing when mom says you done good, but hearing it from a sibling makes it extra special.

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    Parents can celebrate each other.

    It’s important that kids 1) realize how much both mom and dad do for them and 2) hear mom and dad loving each other. Equally important is that the other spouse hear words of appreciation because we know it will rarely come from the kids. This models a loving marriage for your children, and it also reminds them just how much mom or dad sacrifice for them. In turn, your kids will tend to reflect gratitude a wee bit more for you throughout the week. We take what we can get, yes?

    Whether you insert them into a weekly family meeting or simply do a few rounds at dinner each week, high fives are an easy way to love and value your kids. It provides a simple framework for the kind of intentional parenting that we all know is vitally important but often gets swallowed up by the busyness of kids and work and life.

    Even just talking about high fives makes you want to give one, right? Go catch a kid doing something good and celebrate it!

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    Published on November 7, 2018

    How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

    How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

    In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

    The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

    Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

    How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

    After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

    Figure Out the Laws

    Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

    The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

    Decide on an Approach

    Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

    Supplies/Resources

    Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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    A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

    Find a Community

    Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

    Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

    7 Different Homeschooling Methods

    1. School-At-Home

    Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

    The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

    • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
    • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
    • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

    2. Classical

    One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

    Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

    3. Unit Studies

    Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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    For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

    • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
    • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
    • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

    4. Charlotte Mason

    This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

    Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

    5. Montessori

    Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

    With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

    6. Unschooling

    Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

    For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

    7. Eclectic/Relaxed

    As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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    Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

    How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

    One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

    Email

    Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

    It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

    Google Drive/Calendar

    Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

    With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

    Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

    Ebooks

    Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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    E-Courses

    When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

    From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

    The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

    Some recommendations:

    Youtube

    Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

    Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

    Some recommendations:

    Final Thoughts

    Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

    Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

    Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

    Reference

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