Two Roads Diverged a poetry unit for the elementary aged child(1)

I Homeschool So They Can Daydream

Not that you can’t daydream anywhere.

importance of daydreaming

It’s one of those easy-to-pack, take anywhere hobbies.

But it isn’t always the most respected. Take a few moments to gaze out a window, allowing yourself to be transported to another world, and someone will snap you back to the present.  With a

“Get your head out of the clouds,”

or a gentler

“Would you care to join us?”

or my favorite,

“Earth to Dana. Come in Dana.”

you are called back. And it’s always with a little jab, suggesting that this here is what is important and the flights of fancy off to “la la land” need to be controlled. For all our talk of embracing our inner muse, finding our creativity, thinking outside the box, reaching for our dreams and finding our inspiration, we really don’t respect the source of all this creative energy. Because we don’t respect daydreaming.

But this is where creativity is born. Where problems are worked through. Where self awareness is discovered. Where the brain finds rest.

When I see my children lying on the hill, staring at the clouds as they pass overhead, I have been known to set aside my plans at least for a little while. History can be taught any time during the day, but these moments come when they come. Since I first began homeschooling, I have sought to build a reflective homeschool, a place built on reflective learning. It only makes sense that I would encourage my children to reflect. And not interrupt when those reflections . . . those daydreams . . . come.

Daydreaming has been found to be anything but counter-productive. It may just be the hidden wellspring of creativity and learning in the guise of idleness.

~Jessica Lahey, The Atlantic

Perhaps being a bit of a dreamer myself, I knew the value of these flighs of fancy intuitively. Perhaps I just empathized with my children and wished to allow them a bit of freedom that was all too often interrupted for me. But science, also, has discovered the value of the daydream. It promotes creativity, improves memory, alleviates stress, and improves mental health.

And the more we fill our days with structured learning and structured downtime through television and other media, I worry about the effects of not allowing the mind to simply wander from thought to thought and world to world.

Children are trained to think linearly instead of imaginatively; they are taught to read slowly and carefully, and are discouraged from daydreaming. They are trained to reduce the use and capacity of their brain.

~Tony Buzan
So I let them daydream. And encourage it, even.

 

This is part of the Blogging Through the Alphabet Challenge, where I am sharing some homeschool encouragement, from A to Z! Check out what I’ve written so far!

A is for Adventure
B is for Boredom
C is for Christ
D is for Daydreaming
E is for Every day
F is for Failure

Two Roads Diverged a poetry unit for the elementary aged child(1)

I Homeschool to Keep Christ in All We Do

I’m Christian. It shouldn’t be a surprise that our faith is a large part of why we homeschool.

Christian homeschooling

When I say I homeschool to keep Christ in all we do, I don’t mean that we pepper Scripture verses throughout the lessons. I mean that I try to keep my teaching spirit filled.I try to model love, patience, gentleness and grace. And for all the times I fail (in a day . . . in an hour!), I try to model humility as I apologize and try again. My goal is to take them alongside me and teach them, here a little, there a little, precept upon precept (Isaiah 28:10). It is a gentle approach that builds a little each day and focuses more on character than on worksheets.

I try to find books that are factual, that tell the story of our history, our literature and our world from a basis in truth. That doesn’t always mean that it is overtly Christian. But as we’re reading about Jamestown and they are getting caught up with the hero John Smith, I ask them now and again to stop and to think. He’s a hero because he helped save a colony that became a part of our national heritage and our family’s pesonal heritage. We have family buried there. Victims of a native attack. But these settlers were on their land and these settlers did not always behave in the most Christlike manner. I want them to know that side of history. Because not all of our heroes always acted heroic. And not all of the church always acted Christ-like.

When we read a novel, I do not hold myself to the classic list of great Christian books. We do not look for Christ where he isn’t. But we do look closely at the characters and their motivations. What does the author hold up as good? What is evil? Everyone has flaws, but do the characters work to improve or overcome their flaws or do they work to accept them? I view literature as the first opportunity to introduce the philosophies of our world, to analyze them and to compare them to Christ’s teaching. All their lives, they will be inundated with messages from our culture. I strive to protect them from some of it, to be sure. I strive even more to teach them to evaluate and discern.

For science, we now have a purchased textbook, largely because I needed a break from creating my own curriculum. But I still try to supplement that with quality books from the library and real life exploring in the woods, on the prairie, at the pond and under the majesty of the night sky. We roll over logs, dig in the dirt, follow tracks in the snow all to catch just a glimpse of the breadth of this creation we are all a part of.

I try to introduce them, a little at a time, to this God we worship. And then support them in their growth, challenging them, reassuring them, comforting them and helping them to grow as much as I can. But with each step of the way, I try to let go just a little more and let them take those first wobbly steps of faith, moving away from me and toward their Creator.

This is part of the Blogging Through the Alphabet Challenge, where I am sharing some homeschool encouragement, from A to Z! Check out what I’ve written so far!

A is for Adventure
B is for Boredom
C is for Christ
D is for Daydreaming
E is for Every day
F is for Failure

Also check out the Homeschool Nook Link Up!

Two Roads Diverged a poetry unit for the elementary aged child(1)

Bringing Beauty Into Your Homeschool Through Poetry

What is poetry but life condensed? This week, the Virtual Curriculum Fair’s topic is Seeking Beauty. And, as Edgar Allen Poe said, “Poetry is the rhythmic creation of beauty in words.

teaching poetry

It’s like a juice machine, squeezing out the essence of an idea, an emotion, an experience and then ejecting the pulp. In this condensed form, every word is significant.

In this form, literary devices become more obvious and more meaningful. And easier to teach.

I have taught two semesters of poetry in a co-op setting now. That’s two semesters of children, not yet able to read, who can discuss and create examples of such literary devices as allliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor and imagery.. But we never open a textbook. We never fill out a worksheet. Because the trick to teaching poetry to children is to keep it playful.

So for onomatopoeia (always the favorite), I might introduce a poem like The Bells, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Hear the sledges with the bells –
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

For added effect, you could even ring a small jingle bell along with every example (in bold) of onomatopoeia. Then I have the children come up with their own examples. Sometimes they need a little help to get started (suggesting an animal noise or two starts a flood of ideas) and then we begin research for our own sound poem. At home, we go outside. At co-op, we just go out in the hall. We then sit quietly, eyes shut, concentrating on all the sounds we hear.

After we are back to our seats, we talk about the sounds we heard and come up with our own “sound words” for our “sound poem.” Each child adds their sound word to the poem and I usually come up with some concluding line to tie it together.

And the continued practice to retain these new concepts is not a worksheet or a drill, but the continued reading of great books. Because literary devices are all around us, in poetry, in song and in prose. Whether it is the “jingle” of Jingle Bells or the “click, clack” of the typewriter in Click Clack, Moo, oppotunities to notice them and what they add to a text abound.

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Now I invite you to visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about seeking beauty in their homeschools:

Links will all be live by Monday at 12 noon EST.

Living & Loving Art by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Putting the Fun in School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Art Fun In Our Homeschool by Amanda @Hopkins Homeschool

Fine Arts Is The Fun Part by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Washing Dust Off Our Souls by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Bringing Beauty Into Your Homeschool Through Poetry by Dana @ Roscommon Acres

Seeking out the beauty… by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Joy in Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Teaching Drawing (When You Can’t Draw) by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Homeschool Art for the Artistically Challenged by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Jesus, Peace, Freedom & Our Homeshool by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Fine Arts Options in High School by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Reluctant Artist? What do you do? by Annette @ A Net in Time

Making Fine Arts a Priority by Lisa @ McClanahan 7

Creative Pursuits by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Arts and Crafts in Our Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Where Do You Find Beauty? by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Looping our Beauty Topics Saved our Homeschool by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

 

Two Roads Diverged a poetry unit for the elementary aged child(1)

I Homeschool So They Can Be Bored

Yes, you read that right. I homeschool so they can be bored.

homeschool boredom

So they can have time to get bored.

I think we as a culture have too much aversion to boredom. And we’ve filled our children’s calendars with so many good and wholesome activities that we sometimes fail to give them one thing they so desperately need: Down Time.

Down time without the television, the video games and the social media.

Down time to sit upside down on the couch, feet in the air and head on floor declaring,

I’m so bored!

Down time for those little brains to decompress and to languish awhile in the tedium of inactivity and understimulation.

Down time for those sparks of creativity to light their fires and drive them to self-directed activities and projects of their own choosing.

I began homeschooling for very different reasons, but the longer we do this, the more I appreciate the fact that my children have undirected free time. And after they hang there upside down long enough, they amaze me with some of the things they come up with.

Marble tracks made from cut up cereal boxes, forts out of things they find in the barn, artwork and stories and invented games. Pursuits of their own creativity.

And they only find that creativity after inactivity that stretches long enough for boredom to strike.

I used to think it was just about having free time. Free time would sometimes lead to active and creative pursuits and would sometimes lead to boredom. I didn’t used to value boredom as anything inherently valuable. I only saw it as a necessary side effect of having enough time to do other things.

But as I watched my children struggle through their boredom, trying not to announce it lest I give them a chore, I noticed that their greatest feats of creativity always came after these periods of boredom. It’s as if the boredom itself were paving the way for something better. It’s as if the boredom ietself were a necessary part of shifting gears.

So it didn’t surprise me much when I found out that science, too, was beginning to appreciate the creative power behind boredom. Or, as fantasy author Neil Gaiman says,

” … boredom is the place you create from in self-defense.”

So feel free to let your children get bored from time to time. And then watch their creativity soar.

This is part of the Blogging Through the Alphabet Challenge, where I am sharing some homeschool encouragement, from A to Z! Check out what I’ve written so far!

A is for Adventure
B is for Boredom
C is for Christ
D is for Daydreaming
E is for Every day
F is for Failure

Also check out the Homeschool Nook Link Party for more great homeschool posts!

Two Roads Diverged a poetry unit for the elementary aged child(1)

That Time We Got Lost in the Woods

This week, the Virtual Curriculum Fair’s theme is Exploring our World. What better place is there to explore than the woods? And what better story than that time I got lost? With all my children? As the sun was setting?

Getting lost in the woods

It started off simply enough. I drove out to Mahoney State Park, intending on watching the kids at the playground while my daughter attended an event. Except we were supposed to be at Mahoney Park in Lincoln, not Mahoney State Park in Ashland. Thinking back, maybe I should have taken this as some sort of omen. I mean, we couldn’t even get to the right public park on public roads using GPS. Why ever did I think it was a good idea to take my entire brood — six children aged 2 through 17 — traipsing off into the woods?

But I had just been thinking about how nice it would be to get out more with the children. Explore some of Nebraska’s natural beauty. Combine exercise, family time and getting to know Nebraska. And here I was, the brand new owner of a State Park Pass. It was perfect.

And this is Mahoney State Park. 690 acres which consists mostly of lodges, meeting areas a campground and a golf course. I go here for writer’s conferences. What could go wrong? Seriously. My fellow Nebraskans are probably laughing at the idea of anyone getting lost in Mahoney. It’s not like I just skipped off into the back country of Yellowstone. It’s more like I wandered into the trees in a city park and couldn’t find my way out.

So, yeah. I mentioned a hike in the woods and the children cheered. They wanted the longest possible hike. I picked one that had options. The entire trail was a couple miles, but there were several points where we could just leave the trail and go back to the road and walk back. Because it was late on an October afternoon and I didn’t want to be in the woods in the dark, no matter how small and nearly urban those woods may be.

The trail was rough. Far rougher than I was expecting. Most of our hikes have been on the tamed and heavily mulched trails of Pioneers Park in Lincoln. Suddenly, we were met with obstacles. Drop offs. Places where injury could occur if you didn’t stay on the trail. And it didn’t take long until even staying on the path was no guarantee for safety. Not that it was dangerous, per se. Just that it wasn’t like walking on a mulched trail in Lincoln. There were steep inclines and places where you just sort of had to try to keep your feet under you and slow the descent as much as possible. One such spot landed me face first in the mud at the bottom.

Which was actually kind of funny.

But this was not exactly what I had in mind. Upon reaching the first such descent, I contemplated turning back. But the children were so . . . alive. All their senses were alert as they took in the woods and the activity and this sense of real adventure on a real trail that they actually had to climb to navigate. So I staged the children on the trail, passed Asa down to my son who then passed him down to my daughter and we embarked on this adventure.

And it was an adventure. The children decided they were members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and perhaps the first white people to ever traverse this untamed wild. We saw so many tracks. Deer, raccoon, coyote. There is something about being on a rough-hewn trail in the wilderness that sparks the imagination. And the sense of togetherness.

It was all so right. It was everything I hoped to share with my children through my vague plans of exploring Nebraska’s state parks.

Until the trail we were on just didn’t seem to end. We walked and walked, following the trail, eyeing the sun as it sank lower and lower in the skies. It was below the trees, now, shining through the trunks, calling for us to hurry. It would be getting dark soon. And while I was sure the lights from the campground and the interstate could guide us back to civilization, I was not so sure I wanted to navigate these trails in the dark. Where we could just walk off a drop off and possibly break a leg. I looked at the trail map. It wasn’t a perfect map. But it clearly indicated that this trail should be circling along the outside edge of the treeline and heading back to the campground. But it just kept meandering, on and on. I began to suspect we were not on a trail at all.

At least not one made by park rangers and plotted on a map.

This was one of those spontaneous trails that sprout up in the woods. Trails that seem to be for a ways and then fade away. Trails that disappear when you turn around to try to make your way back.

And I had all my children with me.

I called them to a halt. The first reds and oranges of the sunset were already appearing above the horizon. We had to think through what was best. We could continue forth and hope this trail was indeed the correct one. We had to be close. We had already been walking for too long. Or we could go back. If we got to the creek, it would lead us to the outer fence that would lead us back toward the trail head . . . and several outlets near the campground. This ground was flat. A little less intimidating in the dark. But heading back was heading toward something that was known.

We decided to turn back and move quickly. But the trail instantly turned into a dozen trails, winding this way and that, confirming that we were not on a trail at all.

“We might be spending the night here,” I said aloud.

I hadn’t really meant to say it. I was just trying to figure out what to do.

“We’ll freeze!”

We were just standing in the woods, looking first one way, then the other. I kept staring at the now useless map, trying to make these passageways through the undergrowth into an actual trail.

“No. It’s only supposed to get down to 45 tonight. That’s cold, but I’ve slept in colder. Did I tell you about the time my hair froze to the side of the tent?”

Their eyes were wide. I thought better of telling them that story just then.

“We’ll be fine. We’ll be cold, but we’ll be fine.”

I looked at the colors of the setting sun. That was west. That meant this way was south. South should be the quickest way back to the park road. I could keep us going south as long as there was light on the horizon.

“We’ll brush away a little hollow at the base of one of these trees and you will all snuggle in a family pile. I’ll spread all of our jackets over you like one big blanket and your body heat will keep you warm. I’ll stay up to make sure you’re safe.”

I wanted to give them some sense of calm. Some sense that even the worst case scenario wasn’t that bad. It wouldn’t be a comfortable night, but there wasn’t really anything to be afraid of. But I so wished my husband were home. If he had been home, I would have been certain that at some point, he and a park ranger would come marching through the woods with flash lights until they found us.

Instead, we left what hints of a trail surrounded us and I marched them straight south through the undergrowth as fast as we could move.

We came out of the woods in a clearing and were greeted by five deer. Five breathtakingly beautiful deer. We were on the horse trail. The kids were convinced we would be jailed for walking on it because there were signs at the gate warning against entry. I just felt relief. The trail was broad and clear and regardless of which way we went, it would end up back at the horses.

We were safe. We were free. We were on our way home.

And it amazed me how thin and fragile this line is between civilization and the wild. A trail had been left to overgrow and sent us wandering through the woods, less than a mile from roads and houses and people, and yet there had been a very real chance of getting stranded. One mistake, one miscalculation and we were lost in the wooded area of an otherwise busy state park. There was a time when people hiked off into the wilderness and simply lived off the land for months at a time. Now we aren’t sure what to do for one uncomfortable night and the thought of being forced to fills us with fear.

But adventure is just hardship that ends well.

And do you know what my children ask for every time we go out for a family day? A hike at Mahoney State Park.

I haven’t quite had the courage to go back. But when we do, it will be with a flashlight and a cell phone.

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Exploring Our World this week:

Note: all links will be LIVE by Monday 1/23 at noon EST.

Notebooking Our Way through History by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Studying the Where and How by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

The History of Our Mysterious Struggle With History by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Social Science, Science and Exploring our World – Our Path by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Learning History Through Fiction by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

History in Our Homeschool by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Exploring Our World Through History And Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Bringing History to Life! by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

History, Living Books and the Imagination by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Exploring our world comes in many different forms. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Bible, History and Geography by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Beyond the Books – Social Studies and Science by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Exploring the World with Living Books by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

High School History & Science without Textbooks by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Exploring the World Starting with Canada by Annette @ A Net in Time

Visit The World Through Video by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Nature Study is Our Favorite Way to Do Science by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

What A Wonderful World by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Time we got Lost in the Woods by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acres

What a World by Jennifer King @ Worth A Bowed Head