Wednesday, November 28, 2018

100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls by Jean Fisher

100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls is lovely hardback book with of biographies of one hundred different women of faith.  The book has an incredible variety of women.  Each of their stories is  presented in a two page spread with their pictures on one side and biography on the other.  The book includes lovely women like Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Prentiss, Rosa Parks, Henrietta Mears, and Naomi from the Bible.  I found the women were from a variety of backgrounds, time periods and walks of life.  I learned a great deal reading the stories and was inspired by their lives.

Both of my daughters loved this book.  Every-time I tried to read this book it was missing because my 13 and 10 year old daughters kept borrowing it.  My 13 year old said she liked how at the end of each biography there was a Bible verse that connected with each of the women’s stories. This is a wonderful book that would make a lovely gift for a girls ages eight and up. I highly recommend 100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Reflecting on Home Educating a Gifted Student.

I was able to visit my son at MIT a few weeks ago. I was thrilled to see him, and he is so happy. He is doing better than I expected and I am so glad that I was able to home educate him.  I remember wondering how on earth I was going to home educate someone who was honestly brighter than I am and I desperately needed a compass.   These are some take-aways for me from home educating a gifted student.

1. Letting your student move through their schoolwork as fast as they are ready to is a good thing.

I remember hearing that back when my student was young. I let him go through math at his own pace. I am so glad we did that when he was younger, and continued to let him move at this own pace. College moves fast and no one at MIT is holding him back now. If anything, it has helped him.

 2.Teaching organizational skills, deadlines, and life skills are so important for your student. 

I was very worried about my student transitioning to college. I was afraid he would not meet deadlines and not use his time wisely. I kept asking him the first month how he was doing. Finally, he said to me, “You have underestimated your ability to teach time management.” He was surprised how other students waited till the last minute to complete assignments and did not have a schedule.  I was glad we had worked on that together.

3. Looking for math contests and other  opportunities to compete academically are  good for gifted students.

Bright students need challenges and competitions are good ways to do that.   For my students it was like a sport competition and good for them.  Things like Speech & Debate, Music Competitions, The National Latin Exam, and AMC (American Mathematics Competition) are great activities.

4. Online support groups are helpful for the teacher to grow.  

 I learned many ideas and learned what others were doing from online groups. Hoagies website, Davidson, and local groups were so helpful. I learned what to do next from other parents who had gone before me. They were so valuable on the journey.

5. Teaching your student to be an independent learner is a gift to them. 

There are times in college and life when you need to be able to learn independently. Don’t feel bad when your student has to self-study. They are learning a skill that will help them in the future.

The time with my student was so valuable, and I am so thankful for it. I remember being terrified I was not going to be able to teach my gifted learner. I am glad that the school made me frustrated enough to have to do it on my own. Because in the end, I was the one who had the best gift of all: watching my student learn and being part of that success.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins

The fascinating stories and origins behind Christmas traditions such as the colors of red and green, the Christmas tree, caroling, nativity scenes, the Yule log, gift-giving, stockings, advent wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
The cheer of a crackling hearth fire. Colorful cards from friends and loved ones. An evergreen tree festooned with ornaments. The golden traditions of Christmas—gifts, wreaths, stockings, carols, mistletoe, and more—infuse our celebration of the season with meaning and glowing memories. And, in ways you may not realize, they point us to the birth of Christ. Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas reveals the people, places, and events that shaped the best-loved customs of this merriest of holidays. Here are spiritual insights, true-life tales, and captivating legends to intrigue you and your family and bring new luster and depth to your celebration of Jesus’ birth. Discover how 

  • after eighteen centuries of all but ignoring the event, churches began to open the door for believers to commemorate Jesus’ incarnation.
  •  the evergreen tree, once a central theme in the worship practices of pagan cultures, came to represent the everlasting love of God.
  •  the magi’s three gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh—are filled with spiritual symbolism.
The traditions of Christmas lend beauty, awe, and hope to the holiday, causing people all over the world to anticipate it with joy. The stories in this book will warm your heart as you rediscover the true and eternal significance of Christmas.

My Review: 
Stories behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins is a wonderful hardback book about the history of Christmas. There are twenty-six chapters that are arranged in alphabetical order with topics like Advent, Decorations and Ornaments, and the Yule Log. Each chapter tells the history of the topic and how it has changed over time. The book takes you around the world with the traditions of Christmas. 

I was so excited to find this book. Last Christmas our son was fighting cancer, and this Christmas we decided to embrace Christmas in a new way. Mr. Collins has a wonderful writing style where you feel you are coming into a personal discussion with him about the history of Christmas traditions. This book is very readable and perfect for children ages five to one hundred and five. 

The chapters are the perfect length to read aloud to your family and you do not need to read them in order. We have been choosing a topic from the table of contents and then reading aloud. There are lovely black and white illustrations that enhance the text. I found myself looking at the Christmas trees in the aisles of Costco differently after reading this delightful book.

I highly recommend Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas for your entire family. It will help you embrace the Christmas season and learn the origins of the traditions.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Reflecting on Home Educating Special Needs Students. .. The Road Less Traveled.

Some of you know I had two students graduate last year. One is Autistic and currently in a work program and the other is gifted and is going to MIT. Two very different wonderful experiences in parenting and home education. I wanted to share my biggest take-aways from home educating each. Hopefully they are helpful to you and all who take the road less traveled.

What I have learned home educating a student with special needs. 
I still remember the day. I was wondering what I was going to do with our oldest son and schooling. He had been diagnosed with autism and multiple other issues. I knew he would not make it in kindergarten and the special needs preschool was not going particularly well. I remember trying to get him on the bus for preschool and he would lock himself in the bathroom. He would lock the door as I would unlock it. I knew elementary school would not work for him. I was praying and the thought hit me. . . I could home educate him. So I began the path of learning about home education and how to make that happen at my house.

Currently my son is in a work program called Project Search that meets at Children’s Hospital. He enjoys it greatly, and loves being there. I feel our home education help prepared him for this. Here are a few things I have gleaned along the way.

1. Time spent on Life Skills is time well spent!

I am so glad I took the time to teach life skills! Emptying the dishwasher, laundry, cooking, greeting people, pleasantness etc. It is easy to get wrapped up in the skills of school which are important, but at the expense of life skills. Those are the skills his job program appreciates. Those are the skills that help him now.

2. Sometimes it is easier to do it yourself than to depend on others.

I am glad I put my time and energy in my child rather than trying to get others to do their job. For me this was very freeing! Home educating was a good fit.  

3. On the flip side. . . I was able to use the autism scholarship to get help.

I was able to use the autism scholarship in Ohio to get  help  for my son. An OT, tutor and special education coordinator who shared my philosophy of education worked with my son. They listened to me and were on my team. He was able to be at home in a less stressful environment. It gave me a time to be with my other six kids. I am glad I reached out for help and did the necessary paperwork.

4. You get more done at home than they do at school even if it does not feel that way.

When my son went back to school his last 2 years of high school, I was surprised how well he was doing. He was doing well and could keep up. At one point they told me he was ahead. The principal nicely told me that the standards were not as high as they used to be.

5. I am so glad we went at our own pace and learned for mastery.

I would sometimes worry we were behind. Were we doing as much as they were doing at school? Would he be able to get back in school if needed? At some point I gave that up, and I am so glad I did. Right now I am glad for the mastery of skills he has, glad we did our own thing.

6. I wish I had worried less. Really.

Looking back, I am thankful for the moments I enjoyed my time with my student. I also probably worried too much about what they were doing at "school". He did not need more school, he needed more life. I was not school and could do amazing things the school could not do. I had chosen a different path. I was glad I did. 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Next:  Reflections on Home Educating a Gifted Student