Work or Play? Why not BOTH?

Whenever my kids are playing hard and having the BIGGEST fun doing whatever kids do, when no one is telling them what to do I always ask them, “What are you working on?”  I use the word “WORKING”.  I call their activity a PROJECT.   They never say “Nothing, I’m just playing.”  No, they go into a detailed description of something amazing, that starts with: “I’m trying to build a… I’m figuring out how to… I am making a…  I’m taking this thing apart… I’m putting together a new!”

When they are playing they are often doing work that is very meaningful and important in their eyes.  I have a daughter who was always very, very busy, I was always trying to pull her away from her “play” as if it were a waste of time, because I didn’t yet see the value of play. After all, she was 9 and should be doing things that look like school. She knew how to read and write, and she was always in her own world.

One day it was raining outside and she was looking out the window.  She had been there for a long time. She was supposed to be in the school room with her science book.  I was about to tell her to stop sitting around and get back to work.  Then I noticed she had a notebook with all these strange little marks, pictures, checks and numbers.  So I asked, “What are you doing?”

“Oh, I was just charting the storm, timing the lighting and the thunder and measuring sound and distance.  I’ve been charting the weather for about a month.”

I started unschooling that child on that day, and at that point I began to ask my kids what they are working on when they seem to be playing or busy.  They always amaze me with their answers.I couldn’t find anything in the 3rd grade school books that could have been more educational and meaningful than the research our daughter had been doing on her own. I just began to ask more often what she was working on and then I began doing everything I could to support those interests. She is the one who recently gave me the ideas for the 10- and 12-Subject Portfolios! I think it is funny that my unschooled child would be the one to want to design such a structured subject-by-subject learning plan for herself!

She has learned so much about so many subjects over the years and now she wants to put all her knowledge together in a Portfolio that is well organized. 

All of my children need differing amounts of structure, motivation, instruction, teaching, guidance, assignments, evaluation, and follow-up with their learning.  They are all unique.  My dyslexics need a lot of my help and investment when it comes to learning to read, write, and spell.  Dyslexia Games makes it easy, now that it exists. (continue reading by clicking Page 2 below)

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Making Writing Fun!

Don’t worry about having children write before they are ready. The Thinking Tree spelling books are really good for children who are not ready for writing. They color the words and write the specific words and they also do a lot of drawing. As the books advance, some of them give the child an opportunity to do creative writing. If your child is not ready for the writing the BEST BEST BEST thing to do is ask the child what YOU should write for him. When the child sees you writing it stirs something up in their minds and they begin to develop the ability and desire to write.

If I am writing a story for my child (think 3 sentences) and I arrive at a word that I know that they know, I would say “How do you spell ‘cat’?” They giggle and are happy to tell me how to spell. Next I will stop writing when I get to a word that they can write, and just say “Your turn!” and hand them the pencil so they can add a simple word. One nice thing about this method is that the child will try to mimic your letter size and style. Another fun way to get a child writing is to have the child DRAW a small picture of the nouns in the sentence.

If you do get to a place in any of the Thinking Tree Spelling books or Dyslexia Games where the exercise is too advanced (for example, if the “spaghetti lady” causes dread), I would be an example and say, “You don’t want to do the spaghetti lady? That’s GREAT because I WANTED to do that one! Can I PLEASE do your spaghetti lady?”

This advice may go against everything you have learned from being in school yourself. If your child complains that something is too hard or too boring – DARE to do it yourself. Say “Oh really? Can I give it a try? It looks interesting to me!” But if it is super boring, agree with the child, give it a try and have fun. It’s okay to say, “You are right this is SOOOO boring. Let’s have a snack, and turn on some music! Don’t you think that music will make this more fun?”

Now, if the schoolwork is totally irrelevant, and you are unwilling to do that kind of work yourself, maybe you should pitch it.  I know we worry about the money we spent on nice curriculum – so put it on the shelf and tell your children they can use those books to “play school” with their friends or stuffed animals. If you are trying to FLIP to FUN-Schooling and spent all you had on something boring, and it’s not in your budget to buy a homeschooling journal – let me know, I can help you with a PDF version of a journal.

When I was a kid in 1st to 5th grade I HATED spelling tests. I got Ds and Fs on my report card in Spelling. No one knew it was dyslexia. I could not memorize; but when I would take a spelling test I would forever remember the spelling that I came up with on the test – WRONG or RIGHT. I was so emotional while being tested that the negative feelings burned the misspelled word into my brain. I would have 45% correct on the test, and the teachers NEVER worked with me to correct the mistakes. That is why I now create spelling books that work for visual thinkers. I would advise you not to give spelling tests to a dyslexic child. Just look at their creative writing projects. If they write, color, trace and say the letters WITH the correct spelling SEVEN times they will remember the correct spelling, by the time they are 14 years old. Most spelling problems do self-correct by age 14 if the child does a lot of reading. That’s why we have just a few spelling books that cover the words that are foundational to learning to spell – AND are commonly confused or misspelled.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Prioritizing ALL the Things!

As you plan to Fun-School a child under 10, don’t feel like you need to do everything on your list every day.

Listen to your child and watch for what brings them joy. You will learn what subjects and topics your child is passionate about, and those are the ones you should do every day and spend more time on (if the child wants to spend extra time researching their favorite topics).

Many teachers focus the most on the child’s weakness and problem areas. I do not focus more than 20 minutes a week on the problem areas – if the lesson or activity burns them out. If reading is a struggle, I use Dyslexia Games, but only 15 minutes a day – unless they want to do more. Usually they like Dyslexia Games, so it isn’t a struggle.

If math is a struggle, use games, calculators, and our new book 100 Numbers.

If they seem confused when trying to learn math, stop using a memory approach and teach then the WHY and HOW of numbers. They may need time to mature to be able to grasp new concepts. Children need to understand, not just memorize.

Make a lot of time for play, curiosity and discovery.

Children who are entertained constantly, over scheduled, or are addicted to gaming have a lot of issues. You can avoid MANY problems by making sure your child has time to use their imagination and PLAY without constant electronic stimulation. Kids often opt to be entertained. Boredom is okay and leads to innovation.

Healthy children often can’t sit still for more than 20 minutes at a time. They are wiggly by design, children need to move their bodies while learning.

If there is a topic or book that you want to use that they don’t enjoy, you can let it go OR do the work together OR you do it while the child watches you do it.

Make sure your child watches you write – in print and cursive, that’s what the Mom School books are for.

Feel free to use audio books in place of reading, so the child can learn on a higher level.

Throw out anything that makes your child miserable when trying to learn.  Try the fun and joyful methods.  If there is no fun and joyful way to learn, you may be dealing with a maturity issue.

Kids on sugar may seem crazy and out of control.

Kids who do not sleep enough may seem moody and out of control.

Kids who see adults fighting or are exposed to violence on games and movies may seem depressed and unmotivated to learn.

Kids who text all night are often lazy all day. Is your child sleeping with a phone?

Find your child’s passion, and feed it.

It is good for kids to learn to research. Research is an awesome skill that is learned best when a child studies their passion.

Some of most important things to teach your children involve:

1. Reading

2. Research

3. Relationships

4. Responsibility

5. Resourcefulness

6. Rest & Reflection

Put first things first. Outline your goals for each child and help them grow in the things that really matter.

Ignore anything on this list that you don’t agree with, this is my method, and may not be right for your family.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Challenging Attitudes During School

Is your child freezing up, looking for an escape, or fighting and arguing when it’s time to do schoolwork?

When your child picks a fight or freaks out at school time, do what you can to change the mood.  You may need to change your attitude and expectations. 

Here are some ideas to de-fuse the stress:

1. Give the child a sweet and healthy snack to munch on while doing schoolwork, make this part of the routine, they will look forward to it.

2. Don’t use fluorescent lighting – it causes anxiety for many children. Natural warm lighting is much more comforting.

3. Turn off the distractions and turn on peaceful music.

4. Give your child some words of encouragement or a compliment, and avoid harsh words, criticism, and forcefulness. If you must correct the child first give a compliment, next give the instruction, then say something positive.  The goal is to keep learning time from triggering stress, fight, and flight mode.

5. Give your child a hug, cuddle, pat or scratch their backs.  Comforting touch is a powerful de-fuser and helps the child to ease into a good mood. Compliment, next give the instruction, then say something positive.  The goal is to keep learning time from triggering stress, fight, and flight mode. Children need the home to be a place of comfort, acceptance, and unconditional love.  Children need mommy to be a source of peace, encouragement, and gentle guidance.

6. Use a calm voice and be helpful.

7. Get out of teacher-mode and into mommy-mode.

8. Make the first and last activity of learning-time their favorites.

9. Smile.

10. Dump curriculum that stresses them out – there are many options that can work better, children can’t learn under stress.  Skip journal pages or workbook pages that the child is not ready for.  You can come back to them later, or do those yourself while the child watches.

Guess what? These behaviors should be a warning sign that your child is slipping into “survival mode” because they associate schoolwork with failure, humiliation, confusion, or fear. What do they fear? It could be many things.  Usually fear of failure or a fear of being humiliated if they make mistakes. Children need to home to be a place of comfort, acceptance, and unconditional love.  Children need mommy to be a source of peace, encouragement, and gentle guidance.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – How to Inspire Your Child to Learn to Read

My girls 7, 9 and 10 are all using the same Reading and Research book. It works great for all of them because the ten year old recently learned English, the nine year old has symptoms of Dyslexia and the seven year old just wants to do what the bigger sisters are doing. So she tries to keep up.

I don’t worry much about reading before age 9. The longer they play the better! When my children start asking me “Mom, how do you spell…?” That’s when I know they are ready for reading. When a child is ready to learn to read it’s so easy to help them.

When it comes to learning to read there shouldn’t be a struggle. Dyslexic children and creative kids struggle because we are trying to teach them too soon. Dyslexia Games helps prepare the mind for reading and writing without stress, and helps to teach reading in a self directed way that works for creative kids.

Still, sometimes the brain just isn’t ready for the job of reading before age 9 (for some it may be age 11, kids who learn to read late tend to be very artistic and creative.)

Fun-Schooling Themes for 2022

In the Fun-Schooling with Thinking Tree Books-Mom’s Support Group, we have a theme for every month, complete with contests, projects, and giveaways! Come join over 26,000 moms and mentors! Here are our themes:

How to Flip to Fun-Schooling!

 1. Choose a Main Curriculum Journal – For Library Based Homeschooling
These are the most important Thinking Tree books and usually have over 300 pages, you will use them with library books, documentaries, audio books, tutorials and any books you have on hand that your child can use for research. This will be the CORE of the child’s learning experience. They should use this book at least 3 days a week, along with a collection of books and videos. 
How to Pick a Journal: Let your child choose the one with the cover that inspires them the most. Just make sure the age level is correct. If the child chooses they will feel ownership of the learning experience. 

2. Choose a Spelling Activity Book, or Vocabulary Book  
The spelling books have poems, activities, and specific words that the children practice. The spelling books introduce each word in about seven different ways. The student will master these words without memorizing. We make sure we cover sight words and commonly misspelled words in our spelling books. 

The Main Curriculum Journals have spelling games and copywork also- Students will learn to spell many random words this way. They will learn many words from their library books, this way they will be able to spell words associated with their “Major” and special interests. 

3. Choose a Theme, Special Interest, or “Major” and Make a Fun-Schooling Basket.
They should study the “Major” for at least ONE full day per week. Let them study and explore their passion without distraction from other subjects. They need to dig deep. 

You can find lots of themed learning books at your library or choose to use Usborne Books.

Thinking Tree does cover many popular themes. Here is just a sampling: 
Fashion Theme
Animal Theme
Horse Theme
Bible Theme
Cooking Theme
Nature & Wildlife Theme
Minecraft Theme
Travel Theme
Drawing & Doodling Theme 
Musical Instruments Theme
Cat Theme 

4. Choose a Fun-Schooling Math Book on Your Child’s Level
This will help your child to get over the fear of math, and maybe choose a math curriculum after they overcome the fear. Include math 2 or 3 days a week, math can really mess with the mind and cause children to have learning issues in other areas, so don’t push it every day if your child is struggling:

5. Choose a Creative Writing Journal for Kids 10 and up and Choose a Copywork Journal for Kids Under 10 

There may be enough creative writing and copywork in the Curriculum Journal, but for some kids these books are fun and inspiring! 
MOM TIP: Do not correct your child’s grammar or spelling when they do creative writing, BUT do correct the copywork.   

6. Start Your Mom-School
Be an Example to Your Children! Choose a Mom Schooling Journal and make a Mom-Time Basket.
You may need a Mom-Schooling Journal &  Fun-Schooling Planner.

7. Choose a Few Subjects to Study as a Team
Add Important and Required Subjects and Choose Books to Use with the Family as a Team – If you want to add in “required” subjects the fun-school way, add some of these awesome books, maybe one day per week, they are very deep and intensive, yet fun. We use one book for multiple kids, and work as a team with these. Don’t use these on the same day that your child uses the homeschool curriculum journal, unless they want to:

Science – Nature Study
Science – Experiments & Research
United States – Geography & History
World History – Make Your Own Timeline
World Geography & Social Studies – Travel Dreams
Money, Business & Economics for Teens
Occupations for Kids

8. Document Your Child’s Work if Needed
This happens automatically if you use a Curriculum Journal. If you live in a state with strong requirements, or if your child is collecting high-school credits, you can use our 10 or 12 Subject Portfolio for your child’s best work in every required subject:

9. Relax and Enjoy Homeschooling
 If you are stressed out or confused, read my book “How to Homeschool” 

10. Get Help and Learn from Other Fun-Schooling Moms
Join over 26,000 Fun-Schooling Moms in our Private Facebook Group. We love to encourage each other.  If you have a questions ASK them. Moms who are experienced with fun-schooling will answer.  
Visit Linda’s website to learn more about each Thinking Tree Book, and watch videos about each book: https://training6hearts4him.blogspot.com/

11. Help Your Child Overcome Serious Reading and Writing Problems
If you have a child with symptoms of ADHD, Dyslexia, or has reading delays, memory issues, attention problems, and writing problems, reading confusion, letter reversals, or a fear of reading aloud –  use www.DyslexiaGames.com

12. Let It Go! Let It Go! Here are some Ted Talks on Education that will Help! 
If you are doing something that doesn’t work, brings stress, is confusing, makes your child cry, or is boring… DUMP IT.

5 Tips-How to Help a Dyslexic Child Improve Reading Skills at Home

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1. If you have a child that has been struggling with reading, writing and spelling it’s important to take a break from any schoolwork that is causing stress for 3 to 6 weeks to focus on therapy.

2. During this break from conventional schooling provide your child with creative learning tools like art supplies, cooking opportunities, audio books and games they enjoy. Don’t push them to do school at home.

3. Once the child is relaxed and enjoying games and creative activities introduce a gentle Dyslexia Therapy. The therapy is most effective when the child is not stressed out by his or her learning challenges. Turn on some classical music and provide the child with a peaceful place to focus.

4. Print out dyslexia therapy pages and provide the child with gel pens. Dyslexia Games is a therapy can be used at home, without professional help. The child will use 3 or 4 worksheets per day, no help is needed because the games focus on the child’s abilities, curiosity, creativity and logic. Find it at DyslexiaGames.com

5. Parents can relax while kids spend about 45 minutes playing games to overcome reading confusion. Dyslexia Games are easy for kids to use without help from a teacher, tutor or parent. Kids will be able to get ahead and improve reading skills without the stress!

Welcome!

Hi, I’m Sarah.  About 10 years ago, I designed a new style of homeschooling called Fun-Schooling.​Fun-Schooling is fun for kids, effective at helping them learn, and EASY for moms!​

Fun-Schooling is using kids’ natural talents and passions to ignite a love for learning.  Then, no more nagging and prodding is needed and homeschooling becomes fun!  Many thousands of families have Flipped to Fun-Schooling and aren’t looking back.

At the core of Fun-Schooling is the Fun-Schooling Core Journal.  We have over 50 different Core Journals based on a myriad of interests.  These journals organize the learning of all the core subjects revolving around their passions.​

Along with the Core Journals, we use books from the library or bookstores, card and board games, art supplies, internet and video games, like Minecraft and Prodigy.​

I have kids that love horses, so we do Fun-Schooling with the Horses Journals.  I have kids who love Minecraft, so we Fun-School with Minecraft Journals.  And the same with kids who love musical instruments, making money, baking, dinosaurs, and pets, etc, etc.​

We have many other add-on books in all the subjects to supplement the core journal.​ So if you want to make homeschooling fun for the kids while making sure they are learning, and you want it to be easy for moms, try Fun-Schooling!​

To get started, click over to the bookstore and watch the video about “How to choose the right books”.  You can also visit the active Facebook Group or Forum to connect with thousands of other Fun-Schooling moms.​

Blessings,

Sarah Janisse Brown

Mom of 15