Friday, February 13, 2009

Homeschool Mom's Night Out

What a great time we homeschool moms had last night! I am so grateful that God has led me to these encouraging and fun ladies! There were about ten of us last night. We enjoyed soft drinks and tea and coffee (thanks to our wonderful Keurig machine), as well as delicious mexican dip and tortilla chips, mini quiches, crudites, crackers and cheese, brownies, and blueberry bread. While we were eating our refreshments, I couldn't get anyone to sit down, but it was fun just mingling in the kitchen. After eating, we adjourned to the den (pictured below), where the program portion of our evening commenced.

Faith Markle got us started. She is a mom who has homeschooled several children all the way through school; her youngest is a senior this year. Faith has such a gentle spirit and is also wise and knowledgeable. Many of us homeschool moms benefit from this true Titus 2 woman. She had us put our names in a bowl to draw for which mom would share about her family. Sharon LaFreniere spoke, and I was interested to learn that she is originally Canadian and has been in the US for about 13 years. I didn't know that, but I could hear her accent in her "out"s and "about"s as she continued to talk. She and her family enjoy riding their horses. Sharon shared how her family has moved from an unschooling approach to a slightly more conventional route and what curricula she explores. It was so nice to have this sharing time because at co-op, we mothers don't always have the chance to really get to know one another, as we are all teaching a class or volunteering in a class or keeping up with our kids.

After an open sharing time where we had the chance to ask questions or share concerns or celebrations about our homeschool journey, the presentation began. Cindy Blackwell shared her knowledge of the impact gender differences make on learning styles. I was excited about this topic because I have already seen how differently Will and Emily Anne approach learning!

Cindy shared that from birth girls hear better than boys. Therefore, boys prefer teachers who are louder, whereas girls prefer softer-spoken teachers. There are also gender differences in vision. Boys are more attuned to motion, where girls are more attuned to color. I remember several times where I've tried to encourage Will to use more color in his drawings, and I probably looked right over any action that he was trying to portray!

Stress affects boys and girls differently, too. For example, if you scold or fuss at a boy, his heart rate goes up, his adrenaline is increased, and his attentiveness increases. Stress, however, causes girls to shut down. Boys also prefer cave-like atmospheres, which is why you often may find them under the table! Girls prefer warmer environments (74 degrees F is optimal), while boys are more comfortable when it is cooler (59-65 degrees F).

Joanne Ludwick, who has two daughters, made the point that there are learning style differences even among the same gender. We went on to talk about how much more kinesthetic most boys are and that they need to be moving or doing something with their hands as they learn. Faith made the great suggestion of making play-doh letters or cookie dough letters that they can shape into letters and then eat when making the alphabet. I will definitely be trying that with Will!

Julie Watkins then shared my greatest take-away of the evening. She encouraged us to look at the gifts that God has given our children and not to neglect them or to push them to the side to try to fit in all the curriculum or even to try to do what other homeschool families are doing. She stated that God blessed our children with these gifts in order to help Him achieve His purposes, and we should not squelch them in our attempts to get everything done that we think needs to be achieved. Moms also made the point that these gifts help our children to learn. For example, a child who loves to sing will often learn best by making up songs about the subject matter.

After a touching prayer time where we prayed for each other's requests, we ended the night feeling encouraged and renewed. Most of us will see each other today at the homeschool group's
Valentine's skating party.

I hope that you have a great weekend and a meaningful Valentine's Day, realizing that Christ loves us with an unsurpassing love.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight . . . .

Philippians 1:9

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

Celly, so glad everything went well last night. What a blessing to have each other for encouragement and wisdom!!

As I read about encouraging each child according to his (or her!) individual and unique gifts and talents, I was reminded of a story that I was given by Katy's first preschool teacher nine years ago. It's kind of long for this space, so I've edited it a little. (It's kind of sad!)

The Little Boy
by Helen Buckley

Once a little boy went to school. One morning, when the little boy had been in school awhile, the teacher said, "Today we are going to make a picture."

"Good!" thought the little boy.

He liked to make all kinds; lions and tigers, chickens and cows, trains and boats. So, he took out his box of crayons and began to draw.

But the teacher said, "Wait! It is not time to begin!" And she waited until everyone looked ready.

"Now," said the teacher, "We are going to make flowers."

"Good!" thought the little boy. He liked to make beautiful ones with his pink and orange and blue crayons.

But the teacher said "Wait! I will show you how." And it was red with a green stem.

"There," said the teacher. "Now you may begin."

The little boy looked at his teacher's flower. Then he looked at his own flower. He liked his flower better than the teacher's, but he did not say this.
He just turned his paper over,
And made a flower like the teacher's.
It was red with a green stem.

On another day, the teacher said, "Today we are going to make something with clay."

"Good!" thought the little boy. He liked clay. He could make all kinds of things with clay: snakes and snowmen, elephants and mice, cars and trucks.
And he began to pull and pinch his ball of clay.

But the teacher said, "Wait! It is not time to begin!" And she waited until everyone looked ready.

"Now," said the teacher, "We are going to make a dish."

"Good!" thought the little boy. He liked to make dishes. And he began to make some that were all shapes and sizes.

But the teacher said "Wait! And I will show you how." And she showed everyone how to make one deep dish.
"There," said the teacher, "Now you may begin."

The little boy looked at the teacher's dish; then he looked at his own.
He liked his better than the teacher's, but he did not say this. He just rolled his clay into a big ball again, and made a dish like the teacher's. It was a deep dish.

And pretty soon, the little boy learned to wait, and to watch, and to make things just like the teacher. And, pretty soon,
he didn't make things of his own anymore.

Then it happened that the little boy and his family moved to another house in another city, and the little boy had to go to another school.

The very first day he was there, the teacher said, "Today we are going to make a picture."

"Good!" thought the little boy. And he waited for the teacher to tell what to do.
But the teacher didn't say anything.
She just walked around the room.

When she came to the little boy, she asked, "Don't you want to make a picture?"

"Yes," said the lttle boy. "What are we going to make?"

"I don't know until you make it," said the teacher.

"How shall I make it?" asked the little boy.

"Why, anyway you like," said the teacher.

"And any color?" asked the little boy.

"Any color," said the teacher.

"If everyone made the same picture and used the same colors, how would I know who made what and which was which?"

"I don't know," said the little boy.

And he began to make a red flower with a green stem.