Thursday, October 30, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Clued In Kids

Clued In KidsReview
What parent would turn down the chance to keep a whole group of kids happily and easily engaged and occupied for a half hour? You know you wouldn't - and neither did I! I was glad to have the chance to review Clued in Kids for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Clued In KidsReviewI was given two hunts to try out - Playdate Treasure Hunt Pad was the first one we did. To be honest, life has been pretty hectic here lately so I held it for a while and didn't do anything with it because I didn't feel like I would have time to set it up and give it a fair shake. How wrong I was!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Love and Logic Parenting - a Little Experiment

Our house has been a little "chaotic" lately for many reasons. One of those is that we have six children at different stages of development. Second to this is parents who would like to stop yelling, and still see the chores and helpful siblings happening.

I started doing a bit of research and stumbled upon this video:

Love & Logic Parenting, How to Get Kids to Listen

I wish they had it set up so I could embed it, but they don't. So please head over there and listen and then come back to see the results of our first shot.

The Challenge:

Yesterday, I asked each of my oldest three boys to do one less-often-done chore. One had a bathroom to clean that hadn't been touched in quite some time; a second had some sawdust to vacuum up in a particular area of the house; a third had the refrigerator to empty and wipe down. I asked them anywhere between 10 a.m. and noon, and told them I needed it done by bedtime, or by dinner, depending on the child because two of them had scouts last night, so their evening was somewhat cut short. This was not an unexpected event though, so I knew they were each capable of the job assigned in the time given.

Then - as the video says - I waited. I gritted my teeth and did not offer reminders when they went outside to play at 2 p.m. I gritted my teeth when I left to take them to scouts and the other son was watching a movie on Netflix. Wait. Wait. Wait.

When I left for the scout meeting, I told 5-year-old Buttercup that she had until I returned home to get her room straight or we would have to do it together when I returned and she would miss part of the movie. Then I kissed all good-bye and walked out with those who needed to go.

The Results:

I returned from scouts about 30 minutes later. Buttercup was exactly where she had been when I left. Oops. "I'm so sorry that you didn't do your room. Now you have to miss some of the movie to get it done with me. Let's go take care of it."

Without any screaming, yelling, hollering, and minimal complaining, we went upstairs and she was even relatively enthusiastic about getting it done and was proud of the job she had done. She even did not complain about missing the movie time! (Color me surprised!)

Still I waited on the boys. (Whew! That was hard.)

At bedtime, the boys wanted to all sleep in Maestro's room. Good night, boys. Good night, Moon. Good night, All. Prayers and bed. Curtains down on act 2. 

I did a few quiet night time things for myself. Had a piece of chocolate that my lovely White Knight brought me. He confessed at one point that he had seen how they left their rooms and the kitchen after dinner and almost yelled, but then remembered what we were doing and stopped himself.  

To be fair to Maestro, he did g back down and straightened the kitchen before heading upstairs to sleep. I almost felt bad about waking him. Almost.

1 a.m.

I went nicely, sympathetically, into the room where all three boys slept so soundly. I turned on the light. I spoke gently, with increasing volume about what a shame it was I had to wake them. How sorry I was it had to happen this way but I just couldn't rest knowing that those three jobs were still messy.

But we're sleeping! Can't we do it in the morning??

No. No, I'm sorry. I just can't rest knowing that those are still messy. Come on. It won't take too long and then we can all get our rest.

But once I'm up I can't go right back to sleep. It takes around an hour or more!

I know. I really do. But we'll just get this done and be right back up.

Down the four of us trooped in the dark house to do the three chores when the distractions of friends and TV were not such an issue. Their feathers were clearly ruffled, and I was working hard to stifle my gleeful and evil cackles as I watched them work. Oh the joy of seeing the jobs get finished without fighting, yelling, arguing! Oh the fun of watching them not bicker with each other or complain about why do I have to do this job. Amazing how much "complaint energy" just doesn't exist when they are so tired and want to "get'r done" and get back to bed!

Thirty minutes later, the jobs that would have taken hours to finish with all the daytime bickering, were done, and my precious Cherubs were back in bed, asleep. Soundly, all three. And (surprise to me!) they were even fairly pleasant getting up the next morning at the regular time.

Will we try this method in other areas and learn more from Love and Logic Parenting?

Yes. Yes, I think we will....


Friday, October 10, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Fortuigence Persuasive Essay Writing

Fortuigence Review

In our last church in Maryland we had a more experienced homeschooling father who mentioned once that a weakness he had seen in homeschooled children was an ability to write well. I must admit that writing is a less-observed area in our home program as well. So I frequently request to do reviews of writing programs to try out when The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew offers them. This time, I had the benefit of trying out Fortuigence's Essay Rock Star Persuasive Essay Writing Course.

From the "at home" perspective, the temptation is to think, I never write 'book reports' as an adult, so why would I need to make my kid learn to write one in school? The ability to write well is one that we use frequently as adults though, and many of us could do a little better, especially in the days of technology, social media, texting, abbreviations, and so on. Maestro is in high school now and this is definitely a box we want to make sure gets extra emphasis for a while until we pass the "I hate writing" stage and move into at least grudging acceptance.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: IEW Fix It Grammar

Fix It! Grammar Review
For the first time in our homeschooling lives, our family had to do standardized tests this year. We decided to use the results as a way to determine weak spots in the boys and to guide us in our teaching efforts this year. Each of them were weak in grammar and rules of writing, so the chance to review Institute for Excellence in Writing Fix It! Grammar - The Nose Tree (book 1) teacher's manual  and the companion student book was an excellent way to begin our September schedule. 
Fix It! Grammar Review
This program had a lot of positives to start with. First, it comes from a company that is known for its excellent programs in the finer points of writing. The books are spiral-bound, so they lay flat while the kids are working, and the lessons are designed to take only fifteen minutes a day! Now, we used these first-level books for each of our oldest four children - ages 14 down to 5. They are geared towards grades 3-5. 


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