Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Some Blog Business: FAQ, my spam policy & social media

 

This post will serve to tell you about three new things:  my FAQ page, my spam policy & other places you can find me on the Internet.

~  My NEW FAQ Page:  I have just added a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to my site.  I thought it would be good to answer some basic questions that people may have when they meet a homeschooler for the first time.  Most of them are questions or comments I have received from other people.  A couple I threw in because I know other homeschoolers have been asked them.  Please read over it when you have time and send me some feedback.

~ My Spam Policy:  Just thought it would be a good idea to mention that while I love comments, I will delete any comment from a person who uses a link that goes directly to a page trying to sell something.  Even if it’s homeschool curriculum and the comment seemed to come from a legitimate homeschooler, I will consider that spam.  Bloggers can and should promote their blogs by making comments and fostering online relationships with each other, but I don’t think it’s cool to search the web for possible site pages related to what you are selling, make one bogus comment, leave the link and never return.

~ Twitter:  Though I have neglected Twitter ever since my second son was born, I have started to use it again.  Hopefully I’ll keep at it.  If you’d like to follow me, I’m at @mamaofletters.  And, FYI, I have created a second account for my photography business, which is at @S_P_Photography.  While that one will focus only on photography related topics, @mamaofletters will have a little bit everything: my writing, photography, and of course, daily life.

~ Facebook:  I don’t advertise my Facebook account very much because it’s mainly used for my face-to-face family and friends.  I keep them in touch with my boys and my life.  However, I also follow some of the people I have met online and have formed a mutual, friendly online relationship with.  If you are one of these people, you’ll know who you are, and I invite you to find me on Facebook.  If I don’t accept your friendship, please don’t take it personally.  I just keep Facebook rather private.  (Well, as private as a Facebook account can get.)

As always, thank you for visiting me here on my blog!  Have a great week!

May 26, 2011

Free places to take kids in Athens, Georgia

Above is a photo of the Kugel at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, which I wrote about in my column.  My son loves to spin it and point to Georgia.

Recently I realized that some local friends who live here in Barrow County had never been to my son’s hot spots over in Athens, which is a short, 30-minute drive away.  So I wrote a column about our favorite places to go, and they also have FREE ADMISSION.  You can click here to read the column, or you can just go straight to the websites of these places, which I’ve listed below for you.  If you live around here, you don’t want to miss these places.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia:  http://www.uga.edu/botgarden

For Memorial Park, Bear Hollow Zoo, which is next to each other, and then also the Sandy Creek Nature Center, you need to go to http://athensclarkecounty.com/ and type in the name in their search box.  It will take you to the page that tells you where and what these places are about.

Please tell me what your children’s hot spots are!

Note: If you are looking for other places to take your kids in Georgia (whether free or not), take a look at my Resources for Georgia Homeschoolers page.  I am writing a column about each outdoor area and state park that we visit.  It also includes information on indoor activities or field trips specifically for Georgia homeschoolers.

May 23, 2011

Buying a Family Vehicle

It’s inevitable – every family gets bigger.  And as we get bigger, we need more space, especially in the car.  So I wrote about our adventure buying a family vehicle in this column for the Barrow Journal.

May 20, 2011

Kindergarten and Homeschooling

I have to admit that when it comes to Kindergarten, sometimes I wonder if I should enroll my 4-year-old in public school.  I have little memories of my Kindergarten, but it seems like a good time to me.  It’s a place where my son could get used to other kids his age and simply have the “school experience.”  But then I see how well he is doing now, and I think about all the things we can do in our “home school.”  I know it will be a different experience, but a good one.  Maybe a better one too.  In addition to this, I know that if I want to homeschool, it will be much easier to do it from the get-go.

While mulling over the possibility of sending him to school, however, I looked up how to enroll him.  I noticed that the requirement is that he must be five years old by September 1st to enroll in that school year.  That made my mind up immediately.  I would not enroll him in Kindergarten this coming year, even if I was going to send him to public school.  You see, my son’s birthday is August 25th.  If he were born only a week later, he’d have to wait another year.  But if I send him to school, he would be the youngest five year old in the class.  There would be a big difference between his “five years” and the five years of a child that was born in, say, February or March.

This was brought to my attention when I read part of The Little Boy Book by Sheila Moore.  (I should note that I didn’t finish the book because it seemed a little outdated, and I had already gotten similar information from Michael Gurian’s book, The Wonder of Boys. But I do think it was a helpful book.)  She notes that boys develop differently than little girls and sometimes they need more time when it comes to entering school.  As I mentioned, I had also learned a lot about the development differences in boys and girls in The Wonder of Boys.  I highly recommend that book. (FYI: He wrote a book about girls too.)

I don’t know many girls of my son’s ages to compare them with, but I sense this advice is true.  Academically my son is already in a Kindergarten level, but in other ways, I feel that my 4-year-old would benefit from waiting a year to enroll in Kindergarten.

Recently I met the daughter of one of our neighbors who happens to be a Kindergarten teacher at the school my son would attend, if I were going to send him to public school.  She asked me if my son would be going to Kindergarten soon.  When I told her I was planning to homeschool, she said, “Wonderful!”  Then when I told her his birthday and my thoughts about waiting another year for Kindergarten if I were going to send him, she nodded and said, “I highly recommend that, especially for boys.  Sometimes they seem to have a harder time adjusting to Kindergarten.”

It felt very gratifying hearing this from a Kindergarten teacher that could possibly be my son’s teacher!  She was also very encouraging and positive about homeschooling, so that felt good too.

I am going to continue working with my son in a no-pressure way this year on his academics.  Since we are homeschooling, I don’t have to worry about holding him back a year, but I can go at his own pace.  I found this encouraging post on Simple Homeschool about going at a child’s pace, especially at this age, and it says everything I would say on that topic.

What are your thoughts about sending your child to Kindergarten?

Update June 3, 2011:  Just found this interesting article, which says it all!  Psychology Today: Early Homeschooling Can Save American Schools

Update June 29, 2011:  Be sure to read this post about How to Homeschool Kindergarten (with information about the law in Georgia.)

For more of my posts on how we do kindergarten, click on “kindergarten” under Mama’s Main Matters in the left-hand margin.

May 17, 2011

Interview with a Barrow County Homeschooling Family: The McGarrys

Carrie McGarry sent this photo of her beautiful children to share with you.  (Thanks, Carrie!)  Above is Alexandria, age 8, Gavin, age 5, and Samantha (Sam), age 1. 

This is a column that I wrote for The Barrow Journal.  The McGarrys are a local homeschooling family who have three young children, age eight and under.  They are using a variety of resources to homeschool, including project-based, and like many families who homeschool, they feel that public schools are putting too much emphasis on standardized tests instead of the quality of learning.  They are involved in the Barrow County Homeschooling Group.

Click here to read the full interview with this awesome family.

For other interviews with homeschoolers, be sure to click on the “Interviews with Homeschoolers” in the margin.

May 15, 2011

What I Have Learned From my Polish In-Laws

My 4-year-old calls my in-laws (above) by the Polish names for grandmother and grandfather, Babcia and Dzia Dzia.  That’s pronounced like BOP-CHA and JA JA.

This is a column I wrote for the Barrow Journal.  My in-laws are incredibly hard-working people who want to help their children in every way.  This is something I want to do for my children, and ideally, I think every generation should help each other more than I usually see in this culture we live in.

Click here to read the column.

May 9, 2011

Storytelling, Murder and what that has to do with Homeschooling

Above is a photo I took in the upstairs of the log house at the William Harris Homestead.  Oh, what those walls could tell us if they could talk!

There is nothing I love more than old, family stories.  I have written a few of my grandmother’s stories for the Barrow Journal, and recently I wrote a story about the Harris Family, whom I am related to through marriage.

My Great Aunt Jesse Harris wrote down a story about her husband’s great uncle, who committed murder in 1841 very near where I live today.  It was a heinous act that makes a fascinating story all these years later, and if you’d like to read it, click here.

But what does this have to do with homeschooling?  For that matter, what do stories have to do with homeschooling?  Everything, I think!

The word “story” is such a buzz word for me.  Within that one word, I think about life, lessons, wisdom, writing, creativity, entertainment, history, and the story that is mine ~ my life as it unfolds.

In The Wonder of Boys, Michael Gurian writes, “Kids of all ages, adults too, often learn more from listening to the tale and its in-depth interpretation than they do from a lecture by a parent, mentor, or educator.  Stories ‘speak to their souls’ in a way nothing else can.”

I want to teach my children where they came from by sharing with them the stories their great-parents passed down to me.   They’re not going to learn only the names of their ancestors, but they’re going to hear these stories and anything else I can remember about my grandmothers and other family members.

I want to teach them about their local history as well as their world history by sharing with them, for example, tales from the Harris Homestead, or visiting locals museums and reading the local literature.

With these stories and with other stories, whether real or made up, I want to teach my children about life.  I truly believe that stories can help us make wiser decisions as we piece together the stories of our own lives.  Children may see themselves in the characters they hear about, and they can evaluate for themselves whether or not those characters made good decisions and see what the outcomes were for those characters.

I want to teach my boys the value in oral storytelling and how it has informed many different cultures and religions about their own identity.  As we do this, we will be helping them create their own identities.

I had the privilege of knowing the late J.J. Reneaux, an award-winning storyteller and musician.  In the short time that I knew her, she taught me much about the value of stories, and because of her urging, I went to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN.  It’s one of my goals to take my boys one year when they are old enough to appreciate it.

Last but not least, stories are a wonderful way to teach children the basics of reading, writing, language and even math and science!

I could go on and on about stories, but I won’t.  Please tell me what you love about stories, any resources that you might know about, or share a good story that kids might love to hear!

Meanwhile, here are some interesting links/resources that I have found relating to storytelling and teaching:

Tell Me a Story by Chase Collins ~ a book recommended by Michael Gurian in The Wonder of Boys.  I have ordered myself a copy, so I’ll be sure to write about it someday.

National Storytelling Network’s Overview ~ lists some good points on why storytelling is important

Using Stories In the teaching of Life Lessons by Hermann A. Peine, Ph.D.  (PDF format)

Stories as Teaching Tools: The Humane Society of the United States

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Note: To find more resources on how to start telling stories to your children, see my Storytelling Page.


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