A Spoonful of Sugar: My Philosophy of Homeschooling

I am often asked about my philosophy of homeschooling. I have come to think Mary Poppins knew best, when she told the children that, “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, in the most delightful way!”

I truly don’t think learning could ever be as nasty to take as medicine, but apparently some teachers seem to dish it out rather distastefully, unfortunately. Think of high school math, chemistry, ancient history . . . In homeschool, we have the privilege of dishing it up deliciously, with a “spoonful of sugar”, so to speak.

I have been homeschooling for 24 years–my goodness! And Ican truthfully say it has been quite fun! We were meant to have joy. Happiness is the design of our existence. Learning is fun! Being with your children can be happy times. Teaching them the truth in every subject–from the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to science to math–brings joy! Watching your children grow and learn and enlarge their talents is wonderfully satisfying.

I can’t think of a richer, fuller, more fun and joyful lifestyle than to have your precious, impressionable children as your best friends who prefer your company. What better daily work could you choose to be involved in than learning about God’s world and his laws and how to grow into a righteous influence for good among mankind on this earth? I think this lifestyle can bring us to say that we live “after the manner of happiness”.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t often feel overwhelmed as mothers, or feel the burden of our enormous task before us. It is a challenge to homeschool your children, but it can be fun and most rewarding. All homeschooling families have that day that never seems to get started, and there are days when math frustrates my teenager to tears. But, as parents we have assurance that there is no job as meaningful, or as worthy, than to be committed to doing the best for your children so that they have what they need to develop into righteous men and women prepared to go forth and make a difference in this world!

There is tremendous joy in moving steadily forward to the realization of this goal. There can be joy and fun in every day of homeschool. The way I see it, my children and I get all the fun. I feel pretty bad for my husband as he doesn’t have a fraction of the fun we have. Together my children and I explore the nearby river bottoms, we sculpt things out of clay, we read an exciting new library book about how Mt. Rushmore was carved. We cook and invent new recipes together, and sing and laugh in the kitchen until we can hardly read the cookbook for the tears from laughing. We read stories about how it pays to be honest. We play math games, and learn to be polite and sensitive to each other. We laugh over the baby’s funny antics, we memorize scriptures, and collect wildflowers to press, we find different kinds of leaves, and all race outside to see a newly discovered rainbow together. We read book after delicious book, making friends with all the inspiring characters of great literature. We take care of our chickens and ducks and cow. We grow huge pumpkins. We discuss politics. We learn to identify God’s signature in all of his creations. We talk and talk and talk and talk together. We are together. Don’t you feel sorry for my husband, too–that he misses out on all of this fun?

Let’s talk about ways to maximize the joy and happy times. What can you do to increase your chance of enjoying the homeschooling lifestyle, which is just really another name for “close family life”.

1. Commit Yourself

First of all, I think it takes being committed to the noble calling of Mother/Teacher. That means taking your children’s education seriously enough that you say “no” to the things that would distract you. My friends are invited to come in the late afternoon. I don’t make dental appointments in the morning. I try not to talk on the phone during school time. I just try to keep that time sacred in the sense that the children know that school is important and won’t be bumped, unless there is an emergency. Interruptions and distractions lessen our chance of having a joyful time together.

2. Catch the Vision

It takes catching the vision of the delightful occupation and lifestyle of raising righteous, intelligent children; spending each day’s best effort training and teaching them. Remember that love is spelled “T-I-M-E” to a child. They want and need your time and attention. Learning how to live, development of character and virtues, their disposition and attitude–these are the things they learn from their teacher and companion. That companion is most ideally you. Spending your time with them is how they become like you. If you aren’t perfect, then you can point to the Savior, foremost, and then to all history’s great heroes as models. This is why studying history and classic literature is such a wonderful way to learn: we can be surrounded with greatness in spite of our own weakness.

Daniel, my oldest son, comments (or complains) from time to time that I have raised clones of my daughters. He’s wrong: in many ways, my daughters are better than me. But, he is right in the sense that we are our children’s mentors, their tutors. Whether for good or bad, they watch and follow us. The greatest and loudest sermon that can be preached on the face of the earth is practice. No other is equal to it. R. Evans has said:

Abstract qualities of character don’t mean much in the abstract. It is how we live, how we serve, how we teach our children, what we do from day to day that both indicate what we are and determine what we are; and all the theory and all the speculation, all the quoting of scripture . . . don’t in the final and saving sense amount to very much.

One of my favorite homeschooling scriptures is found in Deuteronomy 11: 18-19:

“Lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul and ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up”.

We listened together to the original book of Pinocchio in the car as we did our errands one summer. This is nothing remotely like the Disney version. This is the real story of a very naughty and naive puppet, who without the influence of a mother and unwilling to listen to those who would advise him, gets into horrible and constant trouble. As soon as he gets out of one ordeal and feels repentant, Pinocchio meets up with evil companions, a fox and a cat. Pinocchio is on his way to repent to his puppet-maker father for his naughtiness, and has 5 gold coins to give him. Unfortunately, the conniving fox and the cat convince the trusting and naive puppet to bury the gold coins in the ground, so that he can grow a money tree laden with thousands of gold coins. Over and over again, I heard my children exclaim while we were driving and listening, “How can he be so dumb?!” Whether a puppet or a real boy, all children need guidance! They need teaching and virtues and values to live by. No one loves and has such interest in your child’s outcome as you do.

Here I would put out a plea to fathers. I am not asking you to tutor your children, in the sense of teaching them classes. Life seems to be way too busy for fathers trying to earn a living. But, you can work side by side with your children while you are cleaning up the yard, or fixing the car, and in the process teach them so much about how to live and how a man should act.

3. Use the Best Tools

Get the best tools you can for the job. You can’t run a carpenter shop with a dull saw, a broken hammer, and bent nails. Neither you nor I want to go to a dentist with an outdated, old-fashioned hand power drill. Yet many mothers try to wrench an education out of garage sale books that are outdated and dull.

I love to go to yard sales and sometimes I find great stuff. But when it comes to teaching my children, I want the best I can get. These children grow up so very fast. The number of teaching hours and books they can work through is a finite amount. Your career is short. If you do a good job with homeschooling, you are going to work yourself out of a job, because children grow up. I want the healthiest, most life-giving food for my children’s growing bodies. Even so, I want the best quality food for their minds.

I’d like you to imagine that you are a 9 year old boy in my homeschool. Today we are studying China. You can take your pick of resources, or learning tools. I have a comprehensive, black and white textbook that I picked up at a thrift shop. I know you could learn a lot about China from it if you tried hard. Or, you could choose to learn from many interesting things: a CD of Chinese singing, a costume from China, a video, a doll in Chinese dress, color photos of the Great Wall of China. “Let’s try these chopsticks and Chinese food for lunch.” Excellent resources makes learning so much more effective and joyful. (See my recommended resources in the “What?” section of this website!)

4. Take Advantage of the Power of Patterns

Patterns, good habits, and routines make life go smoothly. If you get children into a good pattern, they can operate on “cruise control” and they will go about their day and their work without much urging from you.

All of us have probably known someone who holds their pencil wrong and struggles to write. It is just like the tree without a stake that bends in the wind until it has grown into an inflexible trunk. Good patterns taught early to children can make a difference in the amount of joy you have in your homeschool.

My children know the pattern of the school day from the time they are toddlers. They know that the day starts with scripture study. They know that they do chores while breakfast is prepared. They know that after breakfast, they bathe and dress and come to school. They have wall charts in the school room that show the younger children exactly what to do each day. They come into the schoolroom, get their daily work out, and do it.

Summer and vacations always prove to me just how important the routine and pattern is to children. It seems my children can follow the pattern faithfully day after day all winter long, and yet a week of goofing-off seems to take another week of so much stress and reminding the children, just to get back on track. If you want peace in your homeschool, teach your children some good patterns. Be very consistent in training them what you expect every day in homeschool, and you will find that they enjoy the pattern and managing their own time, and you will get far more accomplished in learning together.

One of those good habits needs to be obedience to parents. Without this, it is impossible to be your child’s teacher. This job is best begun at birth, and finished by 8 years old.

5. Build Meaning into their Schoolwork

Accumulation of information is not our goal in teaching homeschool. We want to help our children grasp God’s great plan for mankind, and how we fit into it and what their special part will be. Busy work isn’t the way to do that.

I want to tell you how I teach my children to write. I have tried a lot of methods over the years. We have done worksheets, and games and penmanship practice and creative writing workbooks. But teaching the children to write with a God-given purpose has proven far more successful than anything else.

I begin teaching my children to write when they are about 4 years old, starting with their name. By 5 years old, we are ready to start a school journal. I start by having my child tell me a sentence that he wants to write in his journal and I write it down for him. Then he draws a picture of what he said. I progress to writing the words in yellow felt pen so that he can trace over the letters in pencil. As my child matures and learns to write his letters, I help him spell and write his own sentence. Incrementally, year by year, tidbit by tidbit, he learns the mechanics of writing: letter formation, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, good sentence structure, writing a paragraph, and other English skills.

This writing is meaningful. At the end of each year, we take these journals to the printer to be bound. I remind my children as they write, that their children and grandchildren will read it someday, and learn to know them through their journals. I often remind them of how delighted their children will be to read all about their life and adventures. It helps them feel motivated to do neat work. We also share their finished journals with grandparents and friends.

I find my children making lists of important things they want to remember so they can write them in their journal. This journal is becoming an important family history for generations to come, and my child is learning to read and write as well. If you can get your child to catch the vision of where he is headed in homeschool–that we aren’t just doing English, but that we are writing a book for our posterity, for example–then there is a greater chance for joy in learning.  (See my Journal and Language Arts program.)

6. View Opposition as Good Practice

Training children is rigorous work. I don’t think any of us thought it was going to be so hard as it is. Yes, parenthood also has its moments of great joy. But each child is born with an independent will and trying to help them bridle and use it for good can be an exhausting job. If we could just see opposition or difficulty with our children as good practice, practice in learning or teaching to obey, practice in refining our communication skills, practice in being better Christians. . . perhaps we wouldn’t feel so bad about the hard times. We are in a family to learn. We have to experience the “whole enchilada.” Trying to duck out of it doesn’t seem a practical way to become more Christ-like.

Whenever people find out that I homeschool, it seems that their pat answer is, “Oh, I don’t have the patience for that”. I have found myself wanting to answer back to them (although I don’t!), “Just when did you plan on developing the patience with your family? Better now than later. Do it until you get it right.”

7. Look to Truth

If we are looking for joy, we must look to the Lord. I have never experienced greater joy than when I feel that warm, clean and full-of-light feeling that comes from the Lord. Whenever truth is taught, the Spirit promises to witness to it. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth . . . ” (John 16:13). As we inculcate Biblical principles into every subject, we will be blessed with the joy that comes from having the Spirit testify of truth. No subject is boring when the Spirit is present!

I am a structured homeschooler. I assign my children their daily work that must be done. But, every subject can be enriched and a joy to learn if you are there learning right along with them. I also teach them the “law of appeal”. I want them to obey, but as long as they move to obey, and are respectful, they can “appeal”. So if a subject is not interesting to them as it is presented in the book or program I have assigned, they are welcome to ask respectfully for something of more enjoyment to them. And I try to accommodate. We want to enjoy this learning time together!

I do hope that you can add a “spoonful of sugar” in your homeschool, and that homeschooling will be a great joy for your family. Joy comes from the companionship of the Lord, the company of your precious family, and being useful in raising intelligent children that love the Lord. There are few comforts so sweet as to know that we have been an instrument in the hands of God in leading someone else to safety. It has been an incredible blessing to me to homeschool my children, and I thank my Father in Heaven for the privilege often!

 

First, a Relationship

First we have a relationship, then we have an educational method.” —Karen Andreola

And so it is.

As homeschool moms, we sometimes get involved trying to figure out what philosophy to follow, what type of teaching we should do, or what curriculum we should select. We eagerly read books, buy curriculum, and “try on” educational methods as if we were shoe shopping. But no “shoe” fits until we have a relationship. No method can make up for a strained relationship with your child, your student. Until the relationship is working right, the educational approach doesn’t really matter very much at all.

So, instead of focusing on what educational philosophy or curriculum you are going to use in your homeschool, think instead of how you are going to build your relationship with your child. Brainstorm ways to reach each child’s heart. Co-operation and a desire to follow you will come naturally when the relationship is strong! As you bind your children’s heart to you in love, you will be creating the very best environment for learning, no matter what method you end up choosing.

Here’s some ideas for knitting your hearts together:

*Listen and give eye contact when your child talks to you.

*Take a walk and hold hands.

*Give a sincere compliment.

*Smile.

*Lay on her bed and talk while she is getting ready to go somewhere.

*Look at what he has put on his bedroom walls and comment positively.

*Say “yes” whenever you possibly can.

*Give her a shoulder rub when you are sitting together.

*Ask him to cook with you, and let him choose the meal.

*Sit on the floor next to your child while she is building with legos or playing dolls.

*Tell another how capable (or kind, or helpful, etc.) he is—loud enough so he can overhear you.

*Resist the urge to set something straight (his hair, his room, the way he set the table, etc.)

*Actively encourage your child in following his special interest by getting him the necessary supplies, mentor, books, and opportunities.
(This, more than anything else I have done, has spoken “love” to my eager, curious sons.)

*Read aloud together.

*Remember your child is young and trying to figure out life. Be forgiving.

*Go swimming together.
(Sometimes we moms are a bit reluctant to get our hair wet or to put on a swimsuit, but it really is a playful, bonding time.)

*Don’t criticize ever. If he needs instruction, do it privately and kindly, reassuring him of your love.

*Make something together—a candle, a skirt, a clay sculpture, a pizza . . .

*Listen.

*Listen.

*Listen.

Just Wants to Play

Question:

I’ve just started homeschooling, and I’m having a horrible time with my 6 year old son today. I’ve said he had to do the lessons before going outside, but playing outside is all he wants . . . what do I do?

Answer:

Easy answer: Go outside with him!

Six years old is pretty young to “do lessons before going out”. Why not make going outside part of the lessons? There is a lot to learn from the real world, and the lessons will really stick when he experiences them in real life, hands-on, rather than on a worksheet!

Start off with your devotional for sure. Every child needs that. Then do chores or breakfast or whatever. Now, when it is time to begin school, have a little “ceremony”. Flag salute, sing a song, check the weather and temperature and mark it on a graph. Put a sticker on the calendar and say the date. Have a prayer. Recite the memory verse or poem aloud together. That should all take about 15 minutes.

Take a little walk together and observe clouds or look for bugs or collect leaves, or etc. When you do go inside, put the leaves into big books to press, or look up the bug you found together on the internet, or read a library book on clouds, etc. Learn together and enjoy it! Plan ahead and do one science unit per week (insects, clouds, seeds, leaves, trees, etc.), getting library books and craft books and experiments lined up ahead of time, and make the most of being outside, observing nature and collecting things.

Don’t dump lots of paper work on him. He is young, and so much of learning can be done hands-on, even math. Boys need lots of big muscle action. I keep a chin-up bar in my school room doorway, and most of my children still swing on it while doing their memory work. You actually learn better when you are moving! I can vouch for that bit of research!

One child of mine had trouble doing bookwork, so I took his Saxon math lesson, and pulled out legos and crayons and toy cars, and taught the concepts that way. I remember one lesson that focused on learning the ordinal numbers (first, second, third, fourth, etc.). I got out toy cars and lined them up. I wrote numbers on little papers. I asked my son to line up the numbers in order. Then I asked him to park his cars, one on each number. Now, we practiced: what color is the fourth car? Which car is first? How many cars down the line is the 6th car? It only took 10 minutes for him to master to concept that he would have grueled over on a math worksheet.

My Happy Phonics reading program is all games. I created it because my young son just needed a fun way to learn.  Little boys can be restless creatures!

You don’t have to sit at a desk and push a pencil to learn. In fact, a 6 year. old probably cannot tolerate much of that. When it is time for history, read him real stories of history aloud, with lots of pictures. Make some hands-on craft, like building a little fort out of twigs, or popsicle sticks. Look in my catalog or in my curriculum guide (free online) for ideas and resources. There are lots of great hands-on craft idea books. Add historical videos to your list of fun things to do.

I am not saying that children don’t have to do their “lessons”. I am just saying, “make it fun!”. Let him go outside, and teach him all about the marvelous world. Do what you can to help him realize that learning is deliciously fun.

An Assignment Chart for Young Homeschoolers

My younger children enjoy having a wall chart of their assignments so we can both see at a glance what they have to do for school the day, and see their progress. It makes schoolwork seem more manageable and as they check off each subject, they can see just what is left. I used a large 12 x 18″ piece of butcher paper and wrote e

assignment chart

ach subject next to a blank box. Then I cut up index cards in squares to fit into the blank boxes.

On each square, I let my child choose and place a sticker. Then we laminated the chart and the sticker squares. We use “sticky-tack” to put the sticker squares in the box next to the subject as it is completed. I can quickly see who is done with their schoolwork or how much each child has left to do. At the end of school, we move all the sticker squares back to the bottom of the chart so it is blank and ready for the next day’s school assignments.

The chart shown above is our reduced summer schedule.

During the school year we add Math Facts, English (or Phonics for young ones), the Subject of the Day (Science, History, Art, Health, etc.) and Typing practice. The winter chart is on the reverse side, so we just flip it over and move the sticker cards to the other side.

Worked wonders in my homeschool!

Summer Skills Maintenance

Summer time, and our kids’ brains go on vacation. At least, that is what it seems like when we start up school again in the fall!

I have always been amazed that math textbooks are written so that the time period of September through Christmas vacation is “review” to try to help the children remember all the skills they forgot over the summer! As a homeschooler, if you finish a Saxon Math book mid-year you can go immediately into the next Saxon Math book at around lesson 40 and never miss a beat because lessons 1-39 do not teach any new concepts but just review the previous math book. You can get ahead fast in math this way, if you don’t take big breaks of summer forgetfulness!

So, instead of letting those brains veg all summer, how about a daily bite-size? Just enough to keep skills sharp!

This is how my friend Kathy runs her summer homeschool. When summer begins, Kathy makes “Summer Packets”. These are just a few pages stapled together and put in a folder with the child’s name on it. Every morning her children come after chores and breakfast and get their Summer Packet. The work is fun, can be done totally independently without Mom, and takes about 20 minutes. Each packet has a short page of math review, an English page, and some project page that sends them off on a science experiment or nature collection. The children also do their daily free reading. This way the 3 R’s are covered. Kathy buys workbooks and rips the pages out to staple into her Summer Packets. When school starts again, their skills have been maintained, and she can jump right in where they left off. Summer no longer takes a big toll.

At my house, I make each child a chart that must be checked off daily. Louisa’s chart has a column for each of these ‘daily do-’s”: Chores, Scriptures, Journal, Math (10 problems), Piano, Secret Service, and Free Reading. (She has a lot because she is older and used to this system. If you are just starting out, 3 or 4 items on their charts are enough!) I ask each child what is important to them to set as a summer goal, and we add those items too. (I make myself a chart also, and stick it right up on the wall by the kids, so they see I am working on goals every day too).

Each day, before any kind of play, the charts must be complete and checked off. This is just as much a means of keeping me, their mother, on track as it is training them to do some daily maintenance! It is amazing the difference you will see in your kids if you do a little every day!

Using Muscles for Memory

Wiggles! Kids seem to be full of them and they can make sitting still, learning, focusing, and concentrating extra hard!

If you can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em. Time to use those big muscles to help kids learn!

I have a chin-up bar hanging over a doorway near where we do homeschool. Over the years of raising lots of wiggly, restless boys (and girls), I have found the chin-up bar to be worth its weight in gold! Tape a scripture or poem to the wall in view of the chin-up bar, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly those children can memorize while they swing.

One mother I know told me she taught her very active son his phonics sounds by placing big flashcards around her large family room and having him run, jump, hop, crab-crawl, somersault, and otherwise use his big muscles to retrieve the cards, making the phonics sound as he went. Pretty creative. Pretty hard to forget information taught that way!

Ammon, my son, was a very wiggly little boy—so restless in fact that he had trouble holding still during school. (He is the one who caused me to write Happy Phonics, a game-based phonics program to teach wigglers to read!) Whenever I tried to go through flashcards with Ammon, he would end up upside down on the couch: his head touching the floor and his feet sprawled up in the air. Rather than spending my time lecturing him, I learned to work with it. I think Ammon learned to read upside down! (He is a studious, intelligent 15 year old now, who can sit still and concentrate longer than I can!)

“Thanks to advances in brain research, we now know that most of the brain is activated during physical activity—much more so than when doing seatwork. In fact . . . sitting for more than 10 minutes at a stretch ‘reduces our awareness of physical and emotional sensations and increases fatigue’ . . . [resulting] in reduced concentration and, most likely, discipline problems. Movement, on the other hand, increases blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water, and glucose (‘brain food’) to the brain. And this can’t help but optimize the brain’s performance!” (More Movement, Smarter Kids by Rae Pica)

So, if you are having a tough time getting your kids to hold still and learn, how about getting them to move and learn?

What Do Preschoolers Need?

Rebekah loves to puzzle, just like her Daddy

What do preschoolers need?

That’s an easy answer: they need YOU!

Yep: they need Mom, in all her constantly loving glory, with lots of hugs, snuggles, toe-kissing, hand-holding, hair-tousling, kisses, pats, holding-on-her-lap and listening. That’s the #1 need. And in your moment-by-moment interaction, be sure to lead them to the one who loves them most of all: God. In this, you will be doing the best thing you could for your young child.

#2 Routine
Little ones thrive on routine. Can you imagine living your life without a watch or a clock? Preschoolers can’t read the time (or figure out what significance it has) quite yet. They gear their daily living off of routines such as bath-time, meal-time, nap-time, a daily walk, bedtime and other regular activities. That is why vacation or Sunday can be so disruptive to them. If you want them to be content, set into stone some daily routine that they can depend on.

#3 An Enriched Environment
Preschoolers are trying to make sense of the world, and learning rapidly. You can help by providing sensory experiences for them, including taking walks outside in nature, reading them endless amounts of stories, setting up water play, teaching them grooming, cooking with them, enjoying animals, helping them remember good manners, playing puzzles, smelling flowers, interacting with other people (not necessarily children), and providing real toys and tools. Toys are fun, but real stuff is what learning is all about! My preschoolers always preferred playing with my wooden spoons and pots and pans to playing with toy pans. Little snatches of learning are great too, such as a 10 minute phonics game, but don’t tire them with much traditional academic work.

#4 Physical care
Good nutritious food, plenty of sleep, daily run-and-play exercise outside, and some small chores to work on will help them be healthy and happy.

And what don’t preschoolers need?
Television, running too many errands, lack of supervision, staying up too late, computer games, too many toys, listening to mom talk on the phone, getting their way all the time, video games, scolding, junk food, too much shopping, movies, lack of discipline . . .

Two of my grandbabies, Abigail and Rebekah, with me!

May I recommend:




A Way to Grade

My kids: Ammon, Mark, Julianna, goofing off

by Carol Johnson
Gainesville, Florida

I had heard all the arguments for and against grading your children in homeschool, and had decided not to grade. Going along with the theory that they will learn better when something is interesting to them; I teach them until they understand, or until I completely lose their interest. I couldn’t figure out how to use grades in this form of “school.”

However, like most people, my children weren’t learning self-discipline without any consequences. They had been excellent students, but now they were developing bad school and study habits. As a result, I implemented a grading system that works in their four problem areas:

Attitude
They complained and fussed about every assignment. Even the “fun” ones. This was getting difficult to deal with as a teacher.

Completion
If I wasn’t watching, my children would tuck the assignment away without finishing it. Most often, they would not complete their assignments unless I was standing over them. If I left, they put them down and did something else more interesting. I found myself constantly nagging them.

Speed
My kids love to dawdle. Whether I was in the room or not, they took much too much time over each assignment. They loved the idea of time limits, this meant they didn’t have to finish the page. When I assigned it as “homework” they would not do it without me nagging them (back to the second problem).

Accuracy
. . . However, when they rush, they tend to be less careful. Without grades, they had no feedback about how they were doing. With this grading system, they like knowing they’re learning and able to do things “right”.

Actually, I’ve used this “system” two different ways. When I started, I used this for every assignment they did. I have a simple little database set up on the computer, that I use as their student logs. At the end of each assignment, I would put in the grade as they watched. They could get anywhere from 1 to 4 points per assignment, and that averaged out for a daily grade. If they got a perfect 4 points for the entire week, we’d give them some type of reward—as a parent, not a teacher.

This was very effective. After using this system for a few months, the kids had really gotten much better. After four months, they were doing so well, I stopped grading them. Ironically, they didn’t like the change. At their request, I started it up again this year, but I only grade them per day. I no longer give them a treat for a perfect 4­— that’s just expected.

Life in our school is great these days— I am feeling a lot less frustrated! We do workbooks for math and language arts, but then we do unit studies for everything else. It has really worked well for us, and my children are excellent students. We all really enjoy school. We have a lot of fun—that’s probably why I think my kids weren’t taking me serious enough. I do the logs for my benefit, more than theirs.