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    Educational Philosophy, Home Education, Other Thoughts

    Seven Quick Takes on Gardener Birthday Gifts, Having a Teenager, Getting Organized, and More!

    May 22, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    What does an aspiring gardener ask for for his birthday? Well, when the neighbor’s cat takes to using his garden as a litter box, he looks around and eventually settles on a PestAway motion-activated pest and cat repeller. What he really wanted was a motion-activated sprinkler, but they cost more and also The Drought, so high-pitched noise it is. We’re hoping it doesn’t bother the rabbits too much when it goes off.

    :: 2 ::

    Speaking of birthdays, my oldest turns thirteen on Monday! Gasp! I can’t even believe it. This is one of those monumental birthdays that makes me feel like I’m getting old. My own birthdays have never phased me, but my children’s birthdays I always find shocking. He’s a joy, though, so I can’t complain.

    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2011:

    How to Evaluate Technology

    Using I John and a book by Peter Leithart, I reflected on a question to ask ourselves in order to better evaluate technology.

    Because, apparently, I have always had technology angst.

    :: 5 ::

    There has been a ton of use of my contact form lately. As in: lots and lots. That’s great, and I read every single one. But I do not have the time to reply to many of them anymore, unless they are asking something that only takes a quick answer. I’m sure you understand, since many of you asking how I “do it all.” The answer is that I ignore my contact form. 😉

    Some of the questions are similar, which is why I introduced this Q & A feature. So … if you happen to use the form, watch the Seven Quick Takes posts for an answer because that is where one will be most likely to appear!

    :: 6 ::

    I’ve gotten a few questions on organization for the disorganized lately, so I thought I’d share a couple thoughts here. First, you know how much I love Mystie’s Simplified Organization Self-Paced Course. You can buy the whole thing, or you can just buy one module at a time and see what you think. Mystie is totally my life coach.

    With that said, I really, really, really think that we have to look for root causes in order to solve the problem. A lot of what goes on is more inconsistency than disorganization. Let’s think about why that might be. I’m thinking about these sorts of questions:

    • Are you tired?
    • Are you under an excessive amount of stress?
    • Have you gotten overwhelmed by the amount of things that are left undone?
    • If you started something that was good, why did you stop? Were you bored? Did you something else turn your head?
    • If something turned your head, was it really a better thing?
    • Would you do better with a flow chart in comparison to a strict schedule with times on it?
    • Do you have babies or toddlers?

    There are a million questions we could ask. Keep going because the goal here is to try to identify root causes or root problems. Think about weeds. They can grow tall and become a big mess, but if you work with the roots, the mess just sort of disappears.

    Some of us need more sleep. Others of us are just in a season where we can’t be consistent. And others of us need to set a wake up time and make it our one goal over the summer to keep at it.

    Some of us need to make plans. Some of us need to stop looking around so much at others. Some of us need to turn off the screens.

    Some of us are just being perfectionists and it isn’t really even that bad. 😉

    Becoming a self-disciplined person so that you can accomplish what you want with your days isn’t so much a destination as a daily battle that we all have to fight. Just remember: the point of discipline is to be set free, not put in bondage.

    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: Didn’t you write a post a while ago on how to run a book club for children? I have searched your blog and can’t find it. Could you tell me where I can find it?
    • Question: What are your thoughts on using a kindergarten curriculum such as Sonlight?
      • Answer: First, I need to say that I literally know nothing about the Sonlight curriculum. So my answer here is just a general answer as to what I think about kindergarten. Please don’t think of this as a Sonlight review. 🙂 With my first child, I did a formal kindergarten curriculum. I had designed it myself, and it was quite academic. This is one of the big regrets of my life, and with my subsequent three children, kindergarten was a very informal affair. The reasons for my regret are many, but the top two are: I think my child should have spent more time outdoors learning about real things and honing observation skills than reading books inside, and I think I took a type-A child and encouraged him to put a lot of pressure on himself. With all of my other children {including my current kindergartener}, the kinder year has basically consisted of three things:
          1. Sitting in on Circle Time. No narration required, but they do learn to sing some of the songs and recite some of the poetry.
          2. Phonics lessons. What I do for reading lessons is available over at Teaching Reading with Bob Books.
          3. A bit of math. I use MEP’s Reception Year. If I was a fun mom, I could just play around with stuff and have my child learn these things, but since I don’t ever think to play around with much of anything, this was a fun and gentle introduction to math.

        The rest of the time, they are playing and running around with our many animals, usually outside. We still do reading aloud, but not to the point where it impedes upon the child’s many hours out in the sunshine. Please don’t consider this a criticism of formal kindergarten. I wouldn’t go that far, and I have had enough gifted children to know that some of them need more than others. {I had one child who demanded to do geography at age five.} BUT. And this is a big BUT. I think as a culture we overemphasize academics in the younger years to our detriment. I do not think my oldest is better off than his siblings for having more academics at that age; in fact, I think the opposite is true. So I would simply caution you and perhaps encourage you to read Home Education by Charlotte Mason, or if you want to read another AO-er’s advice on Kindergarten, check out Kathy’s.

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  • Reply Ashlee May 30, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Thank you so much for the recommendation of the Math Program!! Just what I was looking for.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 30, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      I’m glad it was helpful! 🙂

  • Reply Melissa May 25, 2015 at 4:29 am

    Brandy gave an excellent answer to the Sonlight in kindergarten question! Since I used SL in K, I thought I’d piggy back. I must confess, at the time, we really liked it, but we were coming off BJU’s K-5 Beginnings, which was way overkill…yes, we did two years of kindergarten….please don’t cast stones 😉 This was my “genius” child with a Sept. birthday so of course we started k at age 4…turned 5 nine days after 🙁 Anyway, if I’d known then what I know now things would have been different.

    We just had this conversation last night, as our ds prides himself on never attending an institutional school. You see we have older adopted children that started in public school before being homeschooled. However, I will keep this regarding our younger birth children….so dd started preschool at age 3, turning 4 nine days later; next child, started kindergarten at age 5; third child will not start formal education until age 6 or 1st grade. My point being, I’ve learned so much in the past 8 years and I think there’s something to be said about delaying formal education with young children.

    Now with that said, if you are required to start at age 5, I think SL or Five in a Row are excellent. Ambleside also has a Year 0 that looks great!

    Sorry to hijack your post Brandy…just meant to be helpful 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 26, 2015 at 8:10 am

      Don’t you EVER apologize for something like this. 🙂 Seriously, I love what you added here and I was hoping someone with actual Sonlight experience would chime in! We are all Afterthinkers here, so please always feel free to share your thoughts. 🙂 ♥

  • Reply Michele May 23, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Those shoes are great! And I have a son turning 13 today. 4 teens in the house now 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 24, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      FOUR teens. You are amazing, Michele. 🙂

  • Reply Julie Z May 22, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I couldn’t find your older guest post by Jim Ryan of Signs and Season, so I am commenting here. I subscribed to his newsletter, which came last week–chock full of wonderful news about our sky this summer. We have been going out each night to watch Jupiter and Venus in the sky. Thanks so much for having him post. We have all enjoyed looking up and actually knowing what we are looking at!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 22, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      Oh, that is so great, Julie! I’m so happy for you — looking at the night sky is a favorite thing for us, too. 🙂

  • Reply Pam May 22, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Oh man, so excited about Karen’s book. Vol. 6 has been on my reading list this spring. Now I can just read hers instead before I decide if I want to do the “real-deal” too.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 22, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Me, too! I am especially glad to have something more reasonable in length to recommend to newbies. I feel guilty when a mom asks me how she can read more and I’m like “Here read these hundreds of pages written by CM” — and I KNOW she won’t! This will be great. 🙂

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