Categories
Book Reviews

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane – Lisa See- Book Review

As A-ma said, every story, every dream, every waking minute of our lives is filled with one fateful coincidence after another. People and animals and leaves and fire and rain—we whirl around each other like handfuls of dried rice kernels being tossed into the sky. A single kernel cannot change its direction. It cannot choose to fly to the right or to the left nor can it choose where it lands—balanced on a rock, and therefore salvageable, or bouncing off that same rock into the mud, becoming instantly useless and valueless. Where they alight is fate, and nothing—no thing anyway—can change their destinies.

Lisa See – thank you. This book was the shining gem in the pile of other somewhat bland books I got recommended for my new year. I read it slowly, I let it simmer and now, after a month, it has had time to settle down in the most unbelievable story I’ve ever read.

The story takes us through stories of rural China, of discrete family relations, of tea-picking and tea-making, of what it means to grow up as a woman in a country where that is being looked down upon, of adoption and loss and most importantly of how destiny can shape a life until it becomes unrecognisable from where it started off.

Categories
Book Reviews

Laugh and Learn – 95 Ways to Use Humor for More Effective Teaching and Training

Humor can be a valuable resource in the learning environment. It isn’t just about puns and one-liners, and even if you’re not a “funny” person, it’s easy to bring creactivity, entertainment, emotion, and yes, even some laughs to almost any educational setting. Here’s a book that will help trainers loosen up and create memorable programs that both they and their students will remember – and use.

Although this hardly constitutes a scientific study, to me it suggests that people instinctively see a difference between humor and joke telling. And there is a difference. Humour is a state or quality. Joke telling is an action—only one of many actions by which you might express humor. In other words (take a deep breath, now):You can use humour beautifully and expertly without telling a single joke.

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Amacom (1 Dec. 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0814407455
ISBN-13: 978-0814407455

Categories
Growing Up

Tips on How to Teach Your Kids to Save Money

Teach your kids to save money upA lot of teens nowadays do not understand the value of earning and spending money. They were not oriented that investing is necessary even if they are still students. As parents, you play a crucial role in this area.
You should be able to teach your kids on how to save money. They should be able to understand the concept of money and investment as early as childhood. This will prepare them to learn money management, as they grow old.
Here are some tips on how you can teach your children how to save money:
1. Your children should be educated of the meaning of money. Once your children have learned how to count, that is the perfect time for you teach them the real meaning of money. You should be consistent and explain to them in simple ways and do this frequently so that they may be able to remember what you taught them.
2. Always explain to them the value of saving money. Make them understand its importance and how it will impact their life. It is important that you entertain questions from them about money and you should be able to answer them right away.
3. When giving them their allowances. You need to give them their allowances in denominations. Then you can encourage them that they should keep a certain bill for the future. You can motivate them to do this by telling them that the money can be saved and they can buy new pair of shoes or the toys they want once they are able to save.
4. You can also teach them to work for money. You can start this at your own home. You can pay them fifty cents to one dollar every time they clean their rooms, do the dishes or feed their pets. This concept of earning little money will make them think that money is something they have worked for and should be spent wisely.
5. You can teach them to save money by giving them piggy banks where they can put coins and wait until they get full. You can also open bank accounts for them and let them deposit money from their allowance. You should always show them how much they have earned to keep them motivated.
Money and saving is not something that is learned by children in one sitting. You should be patient in teaching them and relating the value of money in all of their activities. Children will learn this easily if you are patient and consistent in guiding them and encouraging them in this endeavor.
 

Categories
Growing Up

Homeschooling – Structure the School year

Homeschooling hours

How many, how often and when? These are some oft-repeated questions when it comes to homeschooling hours. Flexibility is of course one of the key underlying principles behind homeschooling.
This flexibility applies not only to the curriculum but also to the number of hours. It is only natural that parents, especially if they have just started out on homeschooling should feel that their children should be at their books all the time when regular school-goers are at school. This is not only fallacious but can also be damaging and counter-productive.
Wilcoxs-Homeschooling-Schedule
One of the most ignored but glaring drawbacks of the public schooling system is the sheer waste of time and energy that it causes. Many periods are simply wasted away and the child effectively derives only 1-3 hours of study everyday. Then, there are days when the studies become too intensive and other days when it’s only games and no work at all. There is a lot of ‘invisible wastage’ involved here.
Early on in your homeschooling practice, work out a schedule. It is advisable to stick to the same hours everyday. A routine makes it easier to learn and gives structure to the learning experience.
It also tells the students that parents are strict about their learning. A routine also allows your child to free his mind from other activities and concentrate on studies. He knows that a particular time is strictly set aside for learning.
The actual number of hours that you need depends on the curriculum you have chosen and the learning style that suits your child. If you are dealing with a subject that seems to be more complex, you may need to sit with the child for a longer period. Using various techniques, it may be necessary to demonstrate what you are trying to teach. For instance, a lesson in Algebra may take more time than a lesson in English.
Homeschooling does not refer to the practice of sitting in front of the books and learning the printed matter. Field trips, watching documentaries, visiting factories and libraries also make up an important slice of the homeschooling process. It makes sense to intersperse these activities so that learning becomes fun. You may want to finish off the few hours of textbook learning in the morning and dedicate the afternoons to these kinds of activities.
Given the fact that too many public school hours are wasted in meaningless activities ranging from talking to extra-curricular activities, do not allow public school hours to dictate the time you should spend teaching your child at home. Remember that at home, he is getting a high-quality one-to-one time that is highly productive. About 1-3 hours of study is enough in the primary level. It is of course true that the more number of hours you put in, the more learning takes place. This is also the reason why homeschooling children are much smarter and more balanced than
regular school going children.

The School Year

picture068bb9Now that you have begun your homeschooling schedule, there are various questions that trouble you. Should you study continuously,take a number of short breaks or a long vacation? What about public holidays? When should you take a break?
The answer to these questions and many more like these are actually quite simple: Do whatever suits you best. This is one of the appealing benefits of homeschooling. You do not have a set pattern to follow. You do not HAVE to take that autumn break, or close shop for a prolonged summer vacation. Flexibility is the key here. For some practiced unschoolers, even a definite curriculum is not necessary because lessons are a part of their day- to-day life. But this may not be the case with beginners. Beginners may need to chart out their activities to fall into a pattern.
Before you plan the structure of your classes, consider some of the most important issues. What method of homeschooling will you be following, what is your teaching style and your child’s learning style, what are the work and play schedules, what are your vacation plans. Some families plan small 1-week vacations at different times of the year. Other families prefer to go away for a month or more. Consult with the members of your family, and chart out a holiday schedule that most suits you.
There are some positive benefits in following the traditional summer vacation schedule. Firstly, your children can benefit from the various summer activities, camps and classes. Your child’s schedule will coincide with that of his school-going friends. A summer job may be possible. A longish summer break also means that both parents as well as children get a break from their daily lessons. This could also be a major drawback, as it is sometimes difficult to get back on track once the classes resume.
On the other hand, there are some advantages to taking numerous small breaks in the course of a year. Firstly, children do not get bored since they get time to explore other interests. You can cover more topics in the extra time that you save. You can also take family trips and vacations during the less popular periods of travel. This means lesser crowd and better prices. But beware if your child becomes restless when other children are enjoying their long summer vacations.
As far as homeschooling is concerned, you and your family are the people in charge. Taking care of the individual needs of the child is the primary focus of this system. So, tailor the school year to suit your child’s needs. Periodic evaluation is a must. Set some realistic goals and see if you are able to achieve these goals. Most importantly, avoid burnout – both in yourself and your children.

Categories
Growing Up

Homeschooling hours

Home-schooling-gains-traction-among-US-familiesHow many, how often and when? These are some oft-repeated questions when it comes to homeschooling hours. Flexibility is of course one of the key underlying principles behind homeschooling.
This flexibility applies not only to the curriculum but also to the number of hours. It is only natural that parents, especially if they have just started out on homeschooling should feel that their children should be at their books all the time when regular school-goers are at school. This is not only fallacious but can also be damaging and counter-productive.
One of the most ignored but glaring drawbacks of the public schooling system is the sheer waste of time and energy that it causes. Many periods are simply wasted away and the child effectively derives only 1-3 hours of study everyday. Then, there are days when the studies become too intensive and other days when it’s only games and no work at all. There is a lot of ‘invisible wastage’ involved here.
Early on in your homeschooling practice, work out a schedule. It is advisable to stick to the same hours everyday. A routine makes it easier to learn and gives structure to the learning experience.
It also tells the students that parents are strict about their learning. A routine also allows your child to free his mind from other activities and concentrate on studies. He knows that a particular time is strictly set aside for learning.
The actual number of hours that you need depends on the curriculum you have chosen and the learning style that suits your child. If you are dealing with a subject that seems to be more complex, you may need to sit with the child for a longer period. Using various techniques, it may be necessary to demonstrate what you are trying to teach. For instance, a lesson in Algebra may take more time than a lesson in English.
Homeschooling does not refer to the practice of sitting in front of the books and learning the printed matter. Field trips, watching documentaries, visiting factories and libraries also make up an important slice of the homeschooling process. It makes sense to intersperse these activities so that learning becomes fun.
You may want to finish off the few hours of textbook learning in the morning and dedicate the afternoons to these kinds of activities.
Given the fact that too many public school hours are wasted in meaningless activities ranging from talking to extra-curricular activities, do not allow public school hours to dictate the time you should spend teaching your child at home. Remember that at home, he is getting a high-quality one-to-one time that is highly productive. About 1-3 hours of study is enough in the primary
level. It is of course true that the more number of hours you put in, the more learning takes place. This is also the reason why homeschooling children are much smarter and more balanced than regular school going children.
 

Categories
Growing Up

Homeschooling and the family

According to the National Center For Education Statistics, almost 1.1 million children underwent homeschooling in 2005 alone. That’s a lot of children. Once upon a time, homeschooling used to be a radical statement – something like a declaration of independence. It was the conservative Christians who advocated homeschooling in the ’80s and legalized it in every State. But the typical homeschooler of the day is not religiously motivated.
home schoolingRecent surveys indicate that parents are actually quite fed up of the public school systems where much of the learning is superficial and compulsory. They are also concerned about negative school environment ranging from drugs and abuse to negative peer pressure. As a result, we have a surprising mix of people who form the homeschooling world of today. They cut across all religious
and regional borders. Their main aim is providing meaningful and productive learning through a method that strengthens the bond between the various members of the family.
All these families have one thing in common – a long enduring commitment to the sanctity of childhood. The children in these families are accorded a primary position. Many believe, and rightly so, that homeschooling allows parents to bring up children in a more natural and nurturing environment. Public schools can make one nervous, diffident and downright mean. Children who get schooled at home are protected from these damaging negative influences till they reach an age where they can handle it.
Homeschooling draws the whole family into the almost religious task of schooling. Everyone is put to work. The parents together form a bond with the children. Any experience can be turned into an educational experience. Both the parents are aware of exactly what is going into their child’s head. Parents also have greater control on the kind of religious and moral values that the child imbibes. Even watching a movie together can become a learning experience. Trips to the libraries and other places become educational as well as recreational.
A homeschooling family is primarily dependent on the income of one earning member. That means that often spending has to be curtailed and proper planning of expenditure is a must. This helps to bring the family members together and everybody gets involved in the process of saving money.
Having a parent at home to supervise, to nurture and care for the children brings with it a lot of love and caring. Even your husband chips in and there just is no room for boredom. Yes, problems do crop up, and there are a lot of misgivings in your
mind. But when you know that your kids can always count on you, and your kids know it too, then homeschooling becomes a richly
rewarding experience.

Categories
Growing Up

Record keeping in Homeschooling

homeschooling_record keepingA topic that frequently comes up in meetings and forums that deal with homeschooling is record keeping. The importance of record keeping cannot be ignored. It is not only legally required in various States, but also provides important milestones in your child’s learning experience. An interest-initiated homeschooling approach means that the topic of studies is far ranging and multifarious. Thus, it can be something of a challenge to write quarterly reports for the school district, when it is difficult to classify learning into neatly pigeonholed areas.
Record keeping is important not only for the sake of regulations.
It is also an exciting way to record and document the learning process of the child. When most of the learning is done through play and there is no clear cut index of topics that have to be covered, it is necessary for the parent to keep some sort of a log which records the child’s progress.
The records you keep can be as simple as a daily journal, or as elaborate as a software program. If you participate in a support group, you probably have set forms and requirements. But even so, keeping track of daily work makes reporting easy and efficient.
There are various record keeping methods used by various homeschools. Some of the more popular ones are:
Journal:
This can be maintained by the teacher or the student. This basically aims to keep a log of what was learned and what was done. Recording memorable events that happened in the course of the year is a great way to reminisce later on.
Daily planner:
Lay out the plans and the assignments for the week in a teacher’s planning notebook. Check each item as it is covered. Maintain a separate area where any additional things can be recorded. This includes educational trips, visits and videos etc. Any extra topics that were covered are also recorded in this area. Make a summary every quarter.
Portfolios:
This consists of a collection of varied materials that show what the child has achieved and done during the course of study. Portfolio assessment is a very effective way to chart the child’s progress. It gives structure to the otherwise loose and flexible form of schooling called homeschooling. A drawing portfolio will consist of some paintings or sketches that are considered the best in that quarter. A language portfolio may consist of essays,
stories, reading-logs, spelling samples or letters. Progress in mathematics, fine arts, history, science and social studies can all be recorded this way. The biggest advantage is that portfolio assessment places control in the hands of the children. Having a tangible record of what they have established eggs them on to greater heights.
Other than the above-mentioned systems, there are also purchased record-keeping systems that lay out a good checklist. Some of these allow one to personalize the organizer. Irrespective of the methods used, record keeping in one form or the other is essential. Your child’s future may well depend on the well-maintained record that you have meticulously kept over the years.