Fun-Schooling in 3 Easy Steps for Your Younger Kids

Fun-Schooling basket

So often people imagine Fun-Schooling must be as difficult as every other method. But now that I’ve been doing it for years I find it’s soooo easy. Let me explain in three simple steps how to Fun-School the most stress-free way for ages 5 to 13.

1. Plan your semester by putting five Fun-Schooling Journals into a cute basket with fresh art and school supplies. Add in some mini games. Have a computer or iPad set up for educational videos, an online math program and research sites. You can block everything else. Get an assortment of books that focus on the child’s passion and career goals. Your child is set!

2. Set up your Mom-School. Make a Mom-School Basket with your mom Journal, planners, and books about things you want learn. Use your Mom-School stuff to enrich your heart and mind, and be an example to your child. Use your Mom-School a few times each week while your child is aware of your learning activities. Teach by example.

3. Daily you will need to remind the child to get their Fun-Schooling Basket and go to a favorite place to do… ten pages, or whatever. I let my kids choose what Journals to use on most days. I am available for questions and some collaboration. I don’t teach much. I collaborate and show an example. I only teach reading (but sometimes I don’t).  I let them learn to read with Starfall.com, Dyslexia Games, or readingeggs.com, and if I teach I use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. They learn to spell with Fun-Schooling Journals.)

I do projects with the kids using their passions. Or I just give them permission and supplies.

If kids rush and are sloppy, they don’t get computer time–they get chores after learning time. I check all their Fun-Schooling Journals every Friday. If they do awesome they get to some new art or school supplies from my little prize shelf.

For tips on Fun-Schooling your teens:

The Gift of Dyslexia

the gift of dyslexia

If you have read this post about my own homeschooling journey, you know that I am dyslexic. It was very difficult for me in 1st, 2nd & 3rd grades in public school. I failed 3rd grade, but over the summer my mom used the Narnia books to teach me to read.  Once I could envision the words as I sounded them out, I began to read. I felt like the words would swim on the page if I couldn’t visualize a picture in my mind.  At first I tried to think a picture for each word, but with Narnia I was able to visualize the whole story as a movie. My mom read the first part to me, and when I was really absorbed she told me I had to read it myself to find out what would happen next. 

I began homeschooling at age 13, and we did Library Based – Delight Directed Learning for the first year.  It was wonderful.  Then my parents got a tax return and bought a bunch of Abeka, Saxon and Bob Jones University Curriculum.  I lost the joy because it wasn’t fun and it brought back the challenges of dyslexia.  Later we started mostly un-schooling, but with a little more structure.

In high school, I had a grammar curriculum, a government and economics curriculum, and Spanish videos. Everything else was my choice, and I loved it. I majored in art, nutrition, architecture, and brain development all through high school. I always struggled with writing, but my mom encouraged exposure to a lot of poetry, copying poetry and scriptures, and reading biographies. I did a lot of creative writing in my homeschooling journals that I didn’t share. I was ashamed of my spelling.  Later we got a computer and spell check helped a lot.

When I was in 12th grade I accepted a job as a newspaper reporter and photographer. It really helped my confidence. I never wanted that job, but I wrote a story and took some photos about something interesting that happened in my neighborhood and gave it to the local paper. They published my story and offered me a job. All the Ds and Fs that I got in elementary school made me believe I would never have what it take to be a writer, so I thought I would be an artist. Secretly I was filling my journals with stories and poems, but I would have died if anyone would have found them and read them…I knew I couldn’t spell, but I loved writing. It helped me process my thoughts and feelings and ideas. Having the job as a reporter gave me confidence to speak up with my writing and open myself up to share with others.

Don’t feel like dyslexia is a limiting factor for your child. Do what you can to help them overcome the problems, but don’t think that dyslexia will keep them from being anything they want to be.  I am a good writer because of dyslexia. Dyslexics are storytellers. When they tell stories and create stories and reflect on memories they create whole worlds in their minds and think 1000 times faster than people who think with words.

I created Dyslexia Games for my daughter Anna.  She was a lot like me. BUT she was homeschooled, from a young age, so I could customize her education. I allowed her to major in the arts, and let her enjoy and direct her own education.  She couldn’t read or write before she was nine.  I was determined to use art and logic (her gifts) to teach her reading, writing, and spelling. But I waited until she was motivated. What motivated her to want to read? Yes, she was embarrassed at church, and constantly humiliated by relatives. That wasn’t her main motivation. She wanted to communicate and research and read a comic book, but she couldn’t. It was really sad because for a long time she tried so hard. We used 100 Easy Lessons and had a private tutor, she went to a Kumon learning center. Nothing worked.

That’s when I began trying the pattern games and the “what’s missing” art games that you see in Dyslexia Games.  I created about 100 little games with hidden letters and symbols.  Within 3 months she could read. She still had trouble with spelling.  But she would fill countless journals with her secret stories, songs and poems.  Now she is a singer and songwriter.

When I realized that she had a gift and desire in the area of songwriting I didn’t discourage her because of her dyslexia.  I got the best teacher I could find – Christine Dente from the band Out of the Grey. Anna’s lessons eventually inspired our “Singer and the Songwriter” Idea Book.   Anna has set the “Book of Matthew” to music and has produced a 30-song musical.  She still gets tired of writing so we uses a voice to text app. And that works for her. 

I shared this just to encourage you who feel like dyslexia can hold your child back, it is such a gift–it’s just that kids with dyslexia have a different timeline for developing skills.  Dyslexia Games can speed up the process of helping a child to read, write and spell… without frustration and without compromising creativity.  We focus on the gifting of the dyslexic mind, not the weak areas.  Trying to teach a dyslexic child phonics is like trying to force a left handed child to write with the right hand just because 80% of people are right handed. Dyslexic people learn differently and have talents that will amaze you. Just don’t expect them to be able to excel in reading, writing and spelling before ages 10 -13. In the teen years, with self motivation they take off and surpass others if given the right tools. (click here to continue reading)

Let Them Be Bored

(excerpted from advice offered via a Facebook post in 2016)

let your child be bored

Mom Tip: Boredom is not a bad thing.  When a child is bored don’t look for a way to entertain them. They need a little time everyday when they don’t feel like doing all the normal things they usually do. They need time to think, ponder, reflect, tinker, wander, and think some more.   Modern parents don’t realize that boredom is essential to childhood development and parents are quick to feed the child’s first desire: To be ENTERTAINED. 

What is your child’s DEFAULT MODE when they have a moment of boredom?  Some kids turn to a device, a game, TV, a book, a coloring book, go climb trees, start drawing, or of course they start whining, picking fights and complaining.

I will take a little time now to think of every person in my family and see if I can answer that question: What is the first thing they want to do when they have a moment of boredom or free-time?

Me:  I default to cleaning… or nit-picking everyone else for leaving messes.

My Husband: He defaults to… me… He wants to have time with me, if I am busy he thinks of some errand to run.

Isaac (16): Music.  He wants to go do something related to music.

Anna (15): Hmmmmm… 1st she wants to talk or play with her sisters. If they are busy she goes to her room and dumps out her creative stuff, or bakes or asks for the password for the computer, or bickers with her sister. She always finds something to do, and there is a lot of variety in her choices.  She is the child who is NEVER bored.

Esther (14): Guitar practice and reading.

Rachel (13): Piano and Journaling.

Naomi (11): She wants to play Minecraft, but usually she takes the dog for a walk. If the weather is bad she rearranges all her stuff in her room.

Susie (9): She asks to use the computer, but usually ends up getting out an animal encyclopedia and makes tiny animals out of paper, then she cuts them out and gives them as gifts.  She made a zillion little paper birds recently, I showed her how to create a book with them.

Laura (7): Wants to watch Dogs 101, over and over and over. If I say no, she finds someone to play with or fight with.

Joseph(6): Just started playing Minecraft a month ago.  So first he asks to do that. When I say no he plays with Legos or draws Minecraft pictures.

Ember(3): Dumps her clothing drawer and puts on something that is her “favorite color” of the day. Once she changes her clothes she joins in on whatever Laura or Joe are doing. (click here to continue reading)

Sarah’s Mom Tips — Setting the Example in a Paperless World

With our digital world we surround our children with adult activity that tends to be paperless.  They only see adults who use smart phones and gadgets for everything – so kids no longer see the example of parents reading a variety of publications, writing on a calendar, taking notes in a planner, or putting messages on a family bulletin board. What we ask them to do is no longer modeled in the home, so they have no example to follow.  This may not be the case at your house, but what I have found is that children who slop through their schoolwork need to see an example.

So that is why we developed the Mom-Schooling books  – so kids growing up in a digital world will see something real.

When my children were young, I didn’t use a small personal device.  I wanted my children to always be able to see what I am doing.  When I had a smart phone I could have been reading the Bible and my kids would assume I was playing Tetris!  I could be photo editing and they would assume I was just wasting time on stupid videos.  All they see is a mom on a smartphone ignoring them, in her own personal world.  I have gone back to reading real paperback books too, I want my kids to see me reading.  I have gone back to using a real camera, I want my kids to know I am enjoying my hobby and making memories, not just playing around with my phone.  My husband also stopped using a smart phone for the same reasons. We even chose to travel to 15 countries all over Europe last year with no smartphone, and no GPS so the kids would learn about maps and how to write things down- things like train schedules.   We put down the phone and picked up trail maps and bus schedules just to be an example to the kids of the real things that we are really doing in life. We even bought watches!

I loved all the fun and cool things that can be done with those little devices but all I was teaching my kids was how to be a mom focused on a device. 

I think we just need to be aware and be careful when we expect kids to use paper and books, but we don’t use those things too.  I know that many of you are rediscovering the joy of coloring, journaling and using real books.  If you do choose to use a device I would just encourage you to talk to your kids ALL the time about what you are doing.  If you are on Facebook, tell them I’m talking to Aunt Linda, or I am sharing a picture of you with my friends, and I just found out that Leslie is going to have a new baby, or ask them to pray for Rosie, because her grandma died.   If you are editing photos, videos, writing a blog, or publishing books – include your children in these wonderful creative activities, and snuggle them close so they can see the tiny pictures on your smart phone too. If you need to be on a device, include them.

Your kids have electronics out of balance? Read here: Sarah’s Mom TIps: Digital Devices

Transitioning Toward Adult Life

Here are some books that are very important for my 12 to 15 year-olds.  At this age, we are transitioning them from mainly studying what they love, to requiring some things that we believe they really need to master, to do well in adult life.

They will study their preferred majors and minors most of the time, but at least once a week, they need to spend a couple hours with some of these books.

At ages 12 to 15 I want my children to study leadership, economics and grammar while I expose them to many options for a future calling or career.  If they already have chosen an occupation, we get specific. For example, you can’t just major in horses. You need to choose one or two horse-related career options to train in.  You can’t just focus on general photography. You need a specific market. You can’t just major in the Arts. You need to focus your skill building in one main area, maybe two…like producing a musical. You can’t just keep playing around with lots of different artistic mediums, you need to master the one you love the most.

By age 14, they need to make a serious choice about what calling or career they want to pursue so we can focus on training, gaining experience, skills, providing equipment, volunteering or internships in the area they choose.

From age 14 to 18 we will help them turn their dream into an income source, or help them get involved with others who are living out the calling they want to pursue. They will gain 4 years of practical experience in the field. I will also ONLY require them to learn the math specialized to their future occupation.  If they change careers, they will have something to fall back on. And, they might just have a source of passive income to help them take the next step.

Why Do We Homeschool?

homeschool learning requires no desk

We love homeschooling because it gives us the freedom to customize each child’s education according to their strengths, weaknesses, interests, talents, needs, aspirations, hobbies, individual life callings, disabilities & careers plans. Not only that, it gives the family freedom to travel, see the world and put our family first. We can spend our days learning and living as a family.

Education is not the highest priority in the life of our family–love is. We don’t want school to be the main focus of the child’s life during these precious years of childhood. We want each child to have time to experience all the joys of growing up with freedom to play, explore, and learn through real life.

Because we homeschool, learning happens naturally in real life. In normal school kids learn how to live on paper, or on a computer, before applying that knowledge to real life.

Much of what kids learn in school is now irrelevant to real life. With homeschooling we allow learning to happen first in real life, and if needed we apply that learning to paper so the child can master the knowledge and research it further. When a child discovers their dreams, their callings or their desires to start a career, the training can begin…NOW.

Our children learn through Thinking Tree Books, YouTube, books they choose on Amazon, the library, and so much more. They spend lots of time traveling, volunteering, playing, creating, and engaging in music projects, art projects, animal care and research.

Thinking Tree Journals allow us to create beautiful portfolios of each child’s work and research to document their eclectic learning journeys.

How Your Child Thinks: The Inventors (Part 3)

visual thinkers inventors creators

The visual thinkers of the world were created to be the designers, inventors, the artists, the musicians, the sailors and explorers. We say they have a problem with obedience and respect or we call it Dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome or ADHD. We try to tame them. Honestly, we have failed them . If a child is failing in his classroom, it is the classroom that failed the child. The child is not the one with a problem just because he learns differently.

The child must be set free to be the inventor, the artist, the dancer. So who will teach the inventor? Who will train the artist? The child must become his own teacher, and his parents and teachers must become his students, to learn from him, to understand him, to realize that he has within him the power to become great. We need to discover how to help him become who he was meant to be. We must accept that it may never happen in a desk, in a classroom and behind a pile of textbooks, even if you give the child medication and take away his crayons. Do you want to be the one to take away Albert’s compass, Benjamin’s kite, or Leonardo’s paintbrush or little Thomas Edison’s mirrors?

What is the solution for the child who fails in the classroom? Set him free from the classroom. Ask the child what he wants to learn about. Ask the child what he wants to do. Take the child to the book store, take the child to the art store, take the child to the beach, the forest, the ruins of a castle. Give him pets and let him catch lizards. Read to him until he learns to read to himself. Search for learning materials that captivate the visual mind–things like compasses, clay, mirrors, and paintbrushes. Let him sail, play instruments, and dig in the dirt. Let him take things apart and give him colored pencils. Let him watch people at work doing all different things in the world, take him to the kitchen, take him to an art studio, take him into factories and show him how to use sewing machines, instruments, scroll-saws, and tools. Let her dance. (to continue reading click here)

How Your Child Thinks: Visual Thinkers (Part 2)

children who are visual or creative thinkers

My child has a totally different way of seeing the world! He thinks in 3D Pictures.

Stop for a moment and look up from your computer. All around you are things that were designed by someone. Even the webpage in front of you was designed. Your computer was designed. The room you are sitting in, and the clothing you are wearing? Everything was designed, and chances are they were designed by a person with the gift of being able to think visually.

Some people are able to imagine something in their minds that has not yet been created. They are able to envision a better way of doing things. They are able to envision an object and change the size, shape and color using the power of the 3D workstation called the imagination. The people who designed the objects all around you were often called bad students, day-dreamers and doodlers. They are the visual thinkers.

Creativity journal for artists, songwriters, poets, writers, dreamers, thinkers

What if your child is a visual thinker? Only 10% of the population has the power to think visually, rather than to think with words. The people with the most powerful of visual minds often have an imbalance when it comes to standardized learning situations. The visual mind swirls with colors, ideas, music, art, and creativity and drives the visual thinker into a state of constant creativity and movement. Standardized systems of learning try to conform the child and make efforts to normalize him through medication, punishment, and control so he will not be a disruption in the classroom.

The visual thinker learns differently, and if you ask me, I would tell you that they can not be taught, they must discover. They struggle with the lifelessness of flat pages, the discomfort of the desk, the buzz of the fluorescent lights, the dullness of flat words on a page, and concepts void of emotion, dimension and wonder. They will ponder the mysteries of measurement and time, but their minds go blank when sitting at a desk staring at repetitive lists of math facts. They create works of art and new inventions from items rescued from the trash can, but can’t hold a pencil correctly when asked to write down their spelling words. They can tell the most amazing stories and their words will take you to far off lands and fill the air with magic and mystery, but if asked to put a sentence on paper, they might just cry. They are brilliant, they are amazing, they are curious and brave… until they are forced to conform to a way of learning designed for children who have no dancing, no questions, no music and no colors in their minds.

The majority of students will be content to follow the instructions, fill in the blanks, and make their lists on paper, but the visual thinker was not created for desks, for charts, for lists, for textbooks, for flash cards, for teachers, or for chalkboards… they would dance on the desk, and challenge the teacher. They would add color to the chart, they would roll up the chart to make a telescope or a musical instrument, they would stack the text books and build houses for invisible people, they would turn the flashcards in to a magic trick and turn the chalkboard into a work of art that belongs in a museum. They are constantly in search of the third dimension, the music and the movement.

Find Part 1 of this series here: How Your Child Thinks (Part 1). Continue to How Your Child Thinks: Inventors (Part 3)

How Your Child Thinks (Part 1)

how your child thinks

You may have heard me, and some other moms of teens, joke about the “Brain Dead” Stage. Let me tell you what happens sometime between age 11 and 15…

YES, at our house we joke about the “Brain Dead” stage. It’s very real and happens even to the best behaved kids.

Of course they are not brain dead, but they sure act like it. There is a phase where kids CAN NOT follow instructions, CAN NOT make plans, CAN NOT think logically, CAN NOT answer normal questions in a normal way, CAN NOT see how what they do now will impact the future. They can not manage time. They can not have a reasonable conversation. They can not answer the question, “WHY did you do that?” They can not answer “What do you want to do?” Sometimes they are like “Whatever!” and show some disrespect out of nowhere.

The may lose interest in the things they once loved, and seem aimless. They tend to really love music at this stage. It’s like the only thing that makes sense. They might just want to crawl in a hole with piles of novels, or get lost in Minecraft like they are never coming out.

There is usually one thing that they hang onto. They tend to get really good at one thing in this time. Sometimes they find their life passion or discover God in this time. It’s a time of disconnection and refocus. It lasts 2 months to 2 years. If they get addicted to anything during this time, they may just stay in the “Brain Dead” stage for much too long, and not come out of it until they have their own kids. My kids usually stay in this stage for about 4 months. I try to help them make use of the gift of time to find their passion in it.

There is science to all of this.  It’s a pruning process the brain goes through when kids lose the childhood brain connections and develop the grown-up ones.  The transition from childish thinking to adult thinking is not a process that happens slowly over time. It is rapid–but to get there they have to go through an intense period of brain pruning and the death of all the childish brain connections that are not needed for adulthood, and then all those adult thinking connections start to form. Tools like our newest journal, Lost & Found: Art & Logic Therapy Brain Games can help especially during this time.

Take heart! Pay attention to the process, provide support and guidance, tie a knot, and hang on! It’s going to be okay.

Continue to How Your Child Thinks: Visual Thinkers (Part 2).

Fun-Schooling: Out with the Old, In with the New!

How to Fun-school

(Be sure to visit the tab on this site entitled “Flip to Fun-Schooling”, which gives lots of detailed information and links.)

Your first step in changing over to Fun-Schooling is to think about what is currently working well, and what current curriculum options and methods are not a good fit for your kids.

Take courage and get rid of all the stressful stuff. Take it out to the car right now, or burn it, or donate it. If your kids really hate it, let them burn it. Celebrate a new beginning and replace everything that didn’t work with Fun-Schooling.

New Fun-Schoolers often need to start with a few of the the smaller more focused journals, or just a Core Journal and stack of library books that the child loves.

The whole goal is to take away what isn’t working and replace it with something that brings your child joy. Some things need to wait, like reading or multiplication. You know these things matter, but your child isn’t ready to master them.  Your child may need an extra year or two to develop the mental skills for certain things. So focus on the skills your child is ready to learn and stop pushing the things that stress the child’s heart and mind.

There are so many wonderful ways to learn, we don’t have to settle for boring or miserable things, just because it’s always been done that way.

Also, celebrate your child’s efforts, talents and small accomplishments. It’s common to just hammer away at the problem areas and make our kids feel like failures. Everyone will have a happier existence if we focus on the good things and not our worries.

No one wants to live under a magnifying glass that is constantly  zeroing in on the flaws, yet that is what traditional education is all about… counting our mistakes and judging us and grading us based on all the imperfections in our work. This is no way to live, or raise a child. This method of education and parenting is the reason most of us to think we will never be good enough because we can’t be perfect.

This is why we don’t have grades and answer keys in Fun-Schooling Journals. They base the child’s education on research, logic, thinking, being resourceful, problem solving, creativity, a quest for knowledge–all based on the child’s passion and career dreams.

My children love learning because it’s a quest for the mystery of knowledge, power, understanding, beauty, skills, and invention. Learning something brings each of us closer to unlocking an ability or solving a mystery.

Remember when your child was four or five and they were so curious about EVERYTHING that they asked you 900 questions a day? Traditional schooling snuffs out that curiosity. Fun-Schooling nurtures it.

Bring back the wonder, the joy, the curiosity. It’s time.