How To Focus On The Things That Matter With Joshua Becker

Hey, homeschoolers! Last week I shared my discussion with Dana White about decluttering. This week I am sharing my interview with Joshua Becker, who is known for his writing on minimalism. He recently published the book Things That Matter that you will want to get a copy of.

After our conversation about it, I found myself inspired to declutter the garage, focus on my family, and trust God with the crazy times we’re living in. To see the part of our conversation that inspired me most, check out my YouTube channel: YouTube.com/melaniewilson.

https://youtu.be/7uEydSs-fT8

Have a happy homeschool week!

Decluttering For Homeschoolers With A Slob Comes Clean

Hey, homeschoolers! Do you have too much clutter? Too many craft supplies? Too much stuff for science? Whatever you have too much of, I have help for you.
Now to introduce my guest for this episode–Dana K. White. She is the woman behind A Slob Comes Clean. She’s an author, speaker, podcaster, YouTuber, and (much to her own surprise) a Decluttering Expert. She’s written three books: Organizing for the Rest of Us Decluttering at the Speed of Life How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind A Slob Comes Clean is the completely honest (and never-ending) story of her personal deslobification process. As she finds ways to keep her home under control, she shares the truth about cleaning, organizing and decluttering strategies that actually work in real life for real people. I was thrilled when Dana agreed to come on the show. You are going to love the advice she gives us for dealing with clutter. We discussed:
  • What to do with craft clutter
  • What to do with science experiment supplies
  • What to do with all those books!
See my closet decluttering video here I can’t wait to hear how you get on with using the container concept. Have a happy homeschool week!

How To Edit Your Child’s Writing

Hey, homeschoolers! My homeschool mom friends frequently asked me to edit their kids’ writing. If you don’t feel confident as a writer, it’s hard to feel confident as your child’s editor. In this episode, I hope to give you some simple tips for growing in your editing confidence. Before I do, I want to announce the launch of the last volume of the Grammar Galaxy series called Supernova. This volume is for 8th graders or those who have completed the equivalent of Nova. Like Nova, Supernova is an extended review of material covered in previous volumes. It’s perfect for middle schoolers who need a grammar refresh. It also includes engaging, more advanced writing projects that you’ll be able to edit after listening to this episode. The volume and bundles that include it are 20% off for a limited time. Learn more at FunToLearnBooks.com.
If you struggle to edit your child’s paper, it’s not your fault. Here’s why: writing is subjective. Unlike math where there is typically a single correct answer, writing is more of an art than a science. We have preferences for writing just as we do for paintings. But the art forms we don’t enjoy aren’t wrong; they’re just not our style.

You may object that spelling and grammar can in fact be wrong.

For example, there is just one way to spell the word beautiful. But that’s not always the case with spelling. Take the word judgment. It can be correctly spelled with or without an e after the g. British spelling also varies at times from American English spelling. I wrote an article for a British journal once that returned a draft in which they had changed the spelling of several of my words. At the time, I didn’t realize why they had changed the spelling, so I changed it back. I have students using Grammar Galaxy from countries who use British English, so I included a lesson on the spelling differences so they wouldn’t go on to look as foolish as I did. What about grammar? Isn’t grammar clearly right or wrong? Some English grammar constructions are universally agreed to be errors. Like Me and Audrey went to the store. This sentence uses an object pronoun in place of the subject. However, as this construction is used more and more in casual conversation, that grammar rule may end up being applied more loosely. If you’re a grammar nerd like I am, you’re shuddering.
But let’s take comma usage as another example. There are sentences in which commas are required as when addressing someone. I bought you an ice cream cone, Lisa requires a comma before the name Lisa. But many other comma rules are preferences such as the last comma before and in a list. This comma is known as the Oxford comma. I’m a fan, but there are style guides that don’t require it. Let’s move beyond grammar and spelling. Aren’t there agreed-upon metrics for good writing? Yes. Good nonfiction writing has a clear thesis statement, smooth transitions, and enough supporting details for each point. But again, each editor has a different definition of clear thesis, smooth transitions, and enough supporting details. Have you ever had someone ask you how to homeschool? The question is so broad that you just laugh. When you stop laughing, you try break the process into very specific beginning steps. They are the steps you think are important, but another homeschooler may not agree. The question “how do you write well?” elicits the same reaction. If writing came naturally to you without specific step-by-step instruction, you may be at a loss to answer the question.

This subjective, broad nature of writing gave rise to teacher’s attempts to create a very specific, step-by-step structure for writing instruction.

Rules were developed for students to follow like you must use an adverb sentence-starter and no more than one linking verb per paragraph. These rules made editing and grading papers easier. If the student didn’t follow the rule, they lost points. But this imposition of structure did not advance the art of writing, in my opinion. I do agree with introducing writing practices like these and having students try them, but requiring adherence to the specific rules for an extended period can take away from students’ joy in creating. I have found them very restrictive for both student and teacher. If we agree that writing is a subjective art form, how are we to edit our kids’ work so they can grow as writers? I know it’s possible because it’s how I’ve taught students of varying abilities to be excellent writers. That’s my opinion, but they’ve also earned A’s in college composition.

Our first and most important task as writing instructors is to faciliate enjoyment of the process.

Kids who don’t enjoy writing will not practice and will not improve. I’ve spoken about other aspects of writing education that interfere with enjoyment before: How to Avoid Drill & Kill in Language arts Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Your Child’s Writing But specifically I want to address the editing process here. Have you ever made something like a dish or a craft that you were excited about, only to have someone immediately tell you how to make it better? It’s deflating. When any of us creates, we want someone to celebrate with us. We put ourselves into that creation. We experimented and had fun. We want to enjoy the creation for a time without worrying about making it better. That’s especially true when we don’t have the developmental capacity to make it better. We wouldn’t chide a two-year-old for coloring outside the lines. We ooh and ooh over the color and all the scribbles and our toddler enjoys the adulation. That’s appropriate for a two-year-old, you may well argue, but what about my eight-year-old who still isn’t capitalizing the first word in a sentence? I’ve been there. But here’s the interesting thing that we know from our own experience. When our child delights us with his writing, he will repeat the process again and again. Does a child ever tire of our attention and applause? The constant calls of “Mom, watch me. Watch this,” after we’ve been enthusiastic say no. How can we delight in a child’s writing that has errors in spelling, grammar, and handwriting? We do not want to lie, but we can always find something to enjoy in a child’s writing. I see those enjoyable aspects as a child’s gift in writing. When a child believes she is a gifted writer, she will work to hone that skill. I took my son for an initial drum lesson. The instructor kept marveling that he had never had a drum lesson before. He said he had never seen such natural quickness with a student’s hands. Every week it was the same praise and amazement at his skill. This approach, whether it was honest or not, worked beautifully to gain the instructor a new student, but it also inspired my son to play. I also saw this work with a friend’s son who was my writing student. I saw an emotional depth, attention to detail, and uncommon maturity in his writing and told him so. He soon told his mother that writing was his new favorite subject. He paid close attention to my suggestions for improving his writing as we continued in class. These are some gifts to look for in your child’s writing: sense of humor, excellent examples, use of statistics, detailed description, references to an area of interest, unique style, concise writing, illustrations, creative approach, strong vocabulary, humility, storytelling, and diligence in adjusting to a learning disability. Praise of the gifts in our child’s writing should be foremost. I’m saying this as someone who immediately wants to edit and proof. But I push myself to take in the writing as a whole before I worry about the mechanics.

After we have enjoyed our child’s writing and praised the creation, we can focus on one established skill and one new one.

Here’s what I mean. If you have been working on run-on sentences, you can look for those in particular. If you told your child that in this writing assignment, you will be looking for descriptive language, then edit for that. Your student then has just one new thing to focus on and another that you’ve focused on before. We won’t overwhelm him with critiques. Of course, if you aren’t confident in your own editing ability, this type of focus presupposes that you’ve reviewed or taught the lessons on run-on sentences and descriptive writing. You will be improving your own writing as you edit your child’s. If you aren’t sure you’re correct about an error, ask someone you know who’s a good writer for feedback. If you don’t have anyone else to ask, post the sentence in a question in a Facebook group like the Grammar Guardians group. You can also email it to me at grammargalaxybooks [at] gmail [dot] com. Eventually, you’ll have the confidence that you need. But what about punctuation and spelling as you’re focusing on these two other areas? You can either ignore them or mark them without comment, depending on your child’s reaction to edits. Simply add the comma or write the correct spelling. You can also have your student add spelling errors to a list to review regularly. If it seems wrong to you to focus on just a couple of skills, I’d like to give you an analogy here. I have taken tennis lessons for years. While I have hit forehands, backhands, overheads, volleys, lobs, and serves in one class, I have never gotten specific instruction and correction on all of those shots in one lesson. If I had, I wouldn’t have kept playing. I would have been overwhelmed and felt incapable of ever playing the game. Instead, classes consisted of instruction and correction on just one or two skills plus playing the game.

Conclusion

I want to end this episode with something for you to consider. If you don’t want to improve in your paper editing skills, why should your student want to improve her writing skill? Like you, your student could conclude that it’s just not her gift and stop trying. Not every student was created to be a gifted writer, but every student has a gift that they bring to writing that can be developed and enjoyed. My hope is that you will work at editing your students’ papers to build your confidence and help your writers blossom.
I have created The Better Editor game you can use for this purpose. First, your student will do his own editing. You will see if you find more errors than he did! Have a happy homeschool week!

How To Encourage Students To Be Responsible for Their Own Learning

Hey, homeschoolers! Many of the homeschoolers I talk with at Great Homeschool Conventions want to know if Grammar Galaxy is good for independent learning. It absolutely is! A student reading at a strong 3rd grade level or above can read the story and complete the mission with very little teacher assistance.

When I heard about friend Dennis DiNoia’s book on teaching independently responsible learners, I thought that’s what he meant. How can we get our kids to do schoolwork on their own? But that’s not what he meant! He was talking about how to go beyond independent work to encouraging kids to be responsible for their own learning.

Before I share our interview, I want to thank my sponsor for this episode: College Prep Genius.

There is a huge gap when it comes to preparing and paying for college. Without proper guidance, most families (especially homeschoolers) are at a loss on where to begin for college entrance as well as scholarships and often end up with twenty years of college debt. If this is you, it’s a must to Register for the Path to College at www.CollegePrepGenius.com/PPU free ($2995 value)

Now for my interview with Dennis. Before he tells you more about himself, I want to say what a phenomenal teacher and positive, caring person he is. Four of my kids have taken math courses with him and have loved them. I have marveled that he always sounds happy to be teaching. I can’t claim the same! He has also been a huge encouragement and help to me as we’ve exhibited together at Great Homeschool Conventions. Now that I’ve bragged on him, here’s our interview that will help you raise independently responsible learners.

Resources for Independently Responsible Learning

See a short clip on YouTube.

Have a happy homeschool week!

How To Implement Family Learning

Hey, homeschoolers! When you are teaching more than one child, one of the best sanity-savers is using a family-learning approach. I had to teach this way with six kids and I made sure that Grammar Galaxy could be taught to students at multiple levels. My guest Kathy Gossen gives us simple tips for getting started. Before we get to the interview, I want to thank my sponsor: College Prep Genius. Here’s more about it. There is a huge gap when it comes to preparing and paying for college. Without proper guidance, most families (especially homeschoolers) are at a loss on where to begin for college entrance as well as scholarships and often end up with twenty years of college debt. If this is you, it’s a must to Register for the Path to College at www.CollegePrepGenius.com/PPU free ($2995 value)

Family Learning with Kathy Gossen

Guest Kathy is a good friend and a homeschool momma to three precious girls. She is the author of And the Word Became Flesh and Encompass Preschool Curriculum, and is also the host of The Homeschool 5 in 10 podcast.  She loves researching and sharing streamlined homeschool tips, tricks, and resources at CornerstoneConfessions.Com. Kathy and I discussed:
  • the best subjects for family learning
  • the subjects that aren’t easy to teach using this approach, and
  • how to make the transition to family learning a smooth one.
I hope you enjoy our interview!
To read the transcript of our interview with links to curriculum, click here.
Have a happy homeschool week!
To read the transcript of our interview with links to curriculum, click here.
Have a happy homeschool week!

Special Replay: What to Do When Your Child Won’t Say I’m Sorry

Hey, homeschoolers!

If you have more than one child or if your child has had conflict with another, you know this situation. Your child has said or done something to hurt someone. Your natural inclination is to tell the child to apologize. But what if she won’t? Or what if he does, and everyone knows it’s not genuine? What should you do?

That’s what I asked my guest, Lynna Sutherland. You will love what she has to say. I know I did.

Sponsor: Homeschool Mom Science Podcast

Before I share the interview, I want to thank my sponsor for the episode: The Homeschool Moms Science Podcast.

This new podcast is specifically geared toward helping homeschool moms teach and enjoy science.

It’s hosted by homeschool dad, scientist, and former college professor, Greg Landry.
Topics include:
– When to take which middle and high school science classes
– Why you should laser focus on the ACT and ditch the SAT
– What they learned from finding and choosing colleges for their homeschooled daughters
– How teaching science should differ for likely science major students and non-science students
– Do you have a palmaris longus?
– What you should know about CLEP and AP
– The unusual benefit of daily graphing
– Your science teaching questions answered
– 4 science teaching mistakes and how to avoid them
– And much more
Listen to this upbeat, encouraging, sometimes humorous podcast for homeschool moms…
including the science story of Greg Landry meeting his wife.
Search for Homeschool Moms Science Podcast on your podcast app or visit https://www.collegeprepscience.com/podcast.

Solutions for Sibling Rivalry with Lynna Sutherland

Now to introduce my guest. Lynna Sutherland is a homeschool mom of eight kids ages teen to toddler. She loves to encourage moms to take a heart-based, gospel-centered approach to parenting and sibling conflict resolution. Lynna is the host of the Sibling Relationship Lab podcast and the creator of the Sibling Opposition Solution online course for parents and the Sibling Investigations devotionals for families.

Resources for Sibling Rivalry

Join me next time as I share six reasons you should homeschool this year.
Have a happy homeschool week!

Special Replay: Help for Homeschooling Distractible Kids with Carol Barnier

Help for Homeschooling Distractible Kids with Carol Barnier, podcast Carol BarnierI’ve been the recipient of Carol’s wit and wisdom for years, but I was still inspired by my interview with her. If you have a can’t-sit-still kiddo or you’re a what-did-I-come-in-this-room-for mom like me, you’ll love this episode.

Carol explains:

  • The kind of activity active children need while homeschooling
  • How to work with a child who takes forever to finish a lesson
  • How to help your kids remember how to add and subtract fractions
  • A simple way to make workbook problems fun
  • An advantage of being a distractible mom, and lots more!

Resources we mentioned in the show include, How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and on to Learning, If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Where’d I Leave the Baby?, and Sizzlebop.com, a community for parents of distractible kids.

Be sure to follow The Homeschool Sanity Show board on Pinterest and leave a review on iTunes so other families can find us. Thanks in advance!

Play Podcast

Special Replay: Help for Anxious Homeschool Moms

Hey, homeschoolers!

Did you notice the new intro? I thought it was time for a change as we begin a new year and a new decade.

As I also prayed about topics to share on the podcast this year, I asked myself what I see as the biggest need of the homeschooling moms I talk with. One subject immediately came to mind: anxiety.

I have done a show on helping your anxious homeschooled child. And I believe that the entire Trust Project series addresses anxiety in moms. But I want to share more on this topic personally, professionally, and Scripturally.

Sponsor: Homeschool Moms Science Podcast

Before we dive in, I want to thank my sponsor: the Homeschool Moms Science podcast.

This new podcast is specifically geared toward helping homeschool moms teach and enjoy science.
It’s hosted by homeschool dad, scientist, and former college professor, Greg Landry.
Topics covered include:
– when to take which middle and high school science classes
– What you haven’t been told about the ACT and SAT
– What we learned from finding and choosing colleges for our homeschooled daughters
– How teaching science should differ for likely science major students and non-science students
– The keys to studying science
– The unusual benefit of daily graphing
– Your science teaching questions answered
– 4 science teaching mistakes and how to avoid them
– And much more

Listen to this upbeat, encouraging, sometimes humorous podcast for homeschool moms…
including the science story of meeting his wife.

Search for “Homeschool Moms Science Podcast” on your favorite podcast app or visit CollegePrepScience.com/podcast

Resources for Anxious Homeschool Moms

Read the blog post

If you have a mild problem with anxiety, I recommend listening to How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. I highly recommend the audiobook version.

I also recommend The Anxiety & Worry Workbook by Clark & Beck. These books will help you to think differently, thereby reducing your anxiety.

Christian biographies by the Benges

Join me next week for another installment of the Trust Project. We’ll discuss how to trust God for our loved one’s salvation.

Have a happy homeschool week!

 

Special Replay: Motivation Myths That Hinder Your Homeschool

Hey, homeschoolers!

After 21 years of homeschooling, I know that motivation runs high at the beginning of the year. But it doesn’t take many weeks before that initial enthusiasm starts to cool. You begin looking forward to Christmas break sooner than you thought you would.

We realize that we need to use some motivational tricks for ourselves and our kids in order to finish the things that we’ve planned. The problem with our motivating efforts is we often buy into several motivation myths that I’m going to describe in this episode. If we do, we will likely continue to struggle.

If you are interested in motivating your homeschooler, I’ve created a video class that you can you use with your spouse or other caregiver that will help you create an effective motivational plan. It includes a handbook for taking action and not just taking in information.

Motivation Myths Resources

Read the blog post

Discipline Myths

More Discipline Myths

Join me next time as I share my thoughts on teen screen time.

Have a happy homeschool week!

Special Replay: Unschooling To Prepare Teens for Life

Hey, homeschoolers! Do you have teens or will you soon? When you are homeschooling teenagers, the day they leave your home looms large. Whether they plan to attend college, begin working, or start their own business, you want to give them the best preparation possible. My guest today is going to help us prepare our kids for whatever lies ahead.

But first, I want to thank my sponsor, CTC Math.

Sponsor

Before we dive in, I want to thank my sponsor, CTC Math.

Are you looking for a new Math Curriculum?

CTCMath specializes in providing online video tutorials that take a multi-sensory approach to learning. Favorably reviewed in Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks and The Old Schoolhouse Crew Review, the lessons are short and concise to help your children break down concepts and appreciate math in a whole new way!

The lessons are taught the traditional way, not to a “test”.

Each one of the video tutorials is taught by an internationally acclaimed teacher, Pat Murray, who is renowned for teaching math concepts in a simple, easy-to-understand way (and in only a few minutes at a time). Using a multi-sensory approach having the combination of effective graphics and animation synchronized with the voice of a friendly teacher together with practical assessment. This three-pronged attack makes learning so much easier and more effective. Even students who struggled with math are getting fantastic results! And ones who were doing OK before are now doing brilliantly.

Visit c-t-c-math.com today to start your free trial.

Now for today’s topic: preparing teens for life after homeschooling. My guest today is Karla Marie Williams, prolific author and homeschooling mother of six, whose new book is called Teens Unleashed. You’ll want to grab your copy and also give a listen to the excellent interview I did with Karla on unschooling.

Karla inspires me! If you’re not following her on social media, you’ll want to do that today. Find Karla on Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks again to CTC Math for sponsoring this episode. Join me next time as I discuss mistakes in homeschooling. Have a happy homeschool week.