Learning Styles

So you may be seeing from my reviews and posts how I talk about my children's learning styles.  Every person has a learning style.  It is similar to how people have personality styles. 

When I first read about learning styles, we were in our 3rd year of homeschooling.  The first year went rather smoothly, but the 2nd and 3rd year were frustrating to say the least.  We were using a traditional textbook curriculum (and it's a GREAT curriculum if that's your learning style) and it was just so much busy work.  Jonathan and I didn't mind some repetition but this was beyond insane.  There was several (10+) pages of work to do.  Much of that was copy work.  For a child entering 1st and 2nd grade I feel it was too overwhelming.

The 1st grade was also a struggle because this curriculum felt it was ok to teach cursive at that age.  I could see for a girl, MAYBE, but for a boy, DEFINITELY NOT!  Fine motor skills are still being learned at that age and writing in cursive requires a LOT of skill!  Why teach something in 1st grade (they actually do Kindergarten but I chose the manuscript program for K) when they aren't developed in that area yet?  Had things changed so much in the 20 years since I was homeschooled that it was necessary to teach cursive in Kindergarten/1st Grade?  I would hope not.  I think that 3rd grade is plenty early enough.  But that's my personal opinion. 

Ok, back to the Learning Styles!  :)  (my ADD moment above)

So I didn't know a thing about learning styles when I started homeschooling Jonathan in Kindergarten.  I just chose what my parents used on me.  By the time our 3rd year rolled around we were stressed, frustrated and I was ready to quit!  Yes, you read that right, READY TO QUIT!!!  So what do I do when I am ready to quit?  I purchased a book about homeschool curriculum!  The title of the book was 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child's Learning Style by Cathy Duffy

That book was probably the BEST investment I ever made!  In it I learned many things.  You have to have goals for your homeschool!  You should have a Mission Statement for your homeschool.  You should know your child's learning style and your teaching style. 

What happened with Jonathan and I is my teaching style and his learning style were clashing.  No wonder we were so frustrated with each other.  We both shed tears and unfortunately there was a lot of yelling and frustration for both parties.  I don't like to yell.  It's not good for either person!  Especially when trying to encourage learning.

I learned so MUCH from reading this book.  How to determine my children's learning style and my own teaching style.  I also learned that I needed to adapt.  And let me tell you.  That is HARD!  I was so used to the way I was taught and learned as a child that I pressed that onto my child who was totally different.  No wonder we butted heads! 

So in learning his style, I changed curriculum (yes, I did this mid-year), adapted my teaching style to his needs and we finished that year fairly successful. 

Homeschooling is such a learning experience.  Not just for the student, but also the parent.  I had no clue about learning styles and the types of curriculums available for each type.  But reading Cathy's book was such an eye opener.  It really helped me make better choices for my children.

So whether you are new to homeschooling or a seasoned homeschooler who thinks/knows that things might not be working completely, I highly recommend this book!  It has been a GREAT help to me and I know my kids are enjoying learning now that I know HOW they learn.  :)


TouchMath was started by Janet Bullock about 30 years ago.  She was an elementary school teacher and was looking for a way to guide her students through learning math.  She knew that learning math was not only hard, but it could also leave a child feeling low about themselves.  Read more of the story about Touch Math here.

With our first son, Jonathan, we used a traditional text book approach to teach math.  I began homeschooling him in Kindergarten and that style suited his learning personality.

When it came to teaching our 2nd son, Jordan, I knew from reading all the books about learning styles that I wouldn't be using the same approach.  As we came closer to the beginning of the school year, I was still at a loss on how to teach him so we would go over number flash cards, sequencing and such. 

So the opportunity to review the TouchMath Kindergarten program came up and when I saw it I just had a feeling that it would fit Jordan's learning style.  So naturally we stalk the mail/ups/fedex guy after we knew the product has been shipped.  It's like Christmas when new curriculum arrives at our house! 

I received the e-mail with the Kindergarten Modules and teacher info and immediately started to read it.  (There is quite a bit of reading to do, but well worth it)

Each Module covers different sections of math learning.  Module 1 covers Counting, Adding, Subtracting within 5.  Module 2 covers Adding & Subtracting within 9.  Module 3 covers Understanding numbers 1-20.  Module 4 covers Measurement, Data & Geometry.  We decided to go ahead and start at the beginning to make sure we had everything covered. 

So now we waited for the manipulatives that TouchMath was sending us to use and I printed up the first Module.  **Cue Final Jeopardy Theme**  Then the box arrived!

It was filled with all sorts of manipulatives!  We received the 3D Numerals, the TouchMath Kindergarten Tutor Software & the TouchMath TouchShapes.  Again, this was like Christmas for Jordan. 

He was SO excited that he wanted to start that day, but I wasn't ready yet.  I wanted to make sure I understood how to use the manipulatives.  (There is great training online to use here)  So I spent about an hour reviewing the videos and preparing myself for the next day.

To say that Jordan was excited to start his math would be an understatement.  I got Jonathan set up with his math and had Jordan (and Josef) sit down with me as we opened up the 3D Numerals and learned about Touch Points.  The boys loved it.  Even my youngest son (who is 3) enjoyed the 3D Numerals.

Touch Points are a unique way of learning to count and also learn the numerals.  If you can see in the picture of Jordan holding them, each numeral has a dot or point on them.  The videos on the training teach you (the parent) how to show your child how to count them so they can learn to add (using 2 different ways with the touch points).  For example Numeral 3 has 3 points.  You count each point once.  Now when you get to Numerals 6-9 it may look tricky but as you look closely, you will see a ring around the Touch Point.  This means you count that point twice.  Now, when I first got these out, I was confused and didn't know what to do so that is why we waited a day so I could go through the training!  It's free and online at the TouchMath Website (listed above).

The Touch Points are a great way for the hands-on child to learn their numerals and be able to count and add quickly.  He caught on so fast and I was really pleased with it.  There is also a CD with the 3D numerals that has printable worksheets to help reinforce the learning of the Touch Points.  We have used these several times.

We spent about 5 minutes working on our Touch Points then I had Jordan work on a couple of worksheets.  You really only spend about double there age in time.  This is good because they don't get burned out.  However, if you have a child who loves manipulatives and working on papers then it may not be enough.  We often spent more time because Jordan wanted to keep going!  (but really never more than 20minutes)

About 2 weeks into the program, I decided to let him go ahead and use the Tutor Software.  It wasn't called for yet in the curriculum, but Jordan was choping at the bit to use it!  (He is a techy person like his father & I)  This was another success and I let him use the software for at least 15-20 minutes.  (mainly because I forgot to set a timer and he was enjoying himself so much)

The software is great not just for math, but learning the states.  You click on a state to do the activities there.  I really liked that part.  Jordan just loved being on the computer doing math.  I really had to make sure that he didn't over-do it with the time.  I didn't want him to get burned out in any way.  (but it doesn't appear that he will at this point)

Jordan is such a hands-on kid that this curriculum is a great fit for us.  He grasps the concepts fairly quickly and seems to be retaining them well too.  He loves the manipulatives.  They really are a great addition!  That said, the manipulatives aren't absolutely necessary to utilize the program.  The program itself is complete as it is.  But I felt that Jordan grasps things better with manipulatives.  So, depending on your child's learning style you may or may not need the manipulatives. 

I really like this program.  The Touch Points really make it unique.  It is great for the child who needs a more hands-on approach.  Even without the manipulatives you can teach Touch Points (this is shown in the video training).  I like how it is broken out in to modules versus the child seeing a text book that can be overwhelming.  Not that textbooks aren't good, but it's nice to be able to print out what you need for your child.  They don't see how much is left and feel like they can't do it.  Jordan would not do well with the textbook style at all. 

I am really glad we were able to review this product. We will continue to use it through Kindergarten so he gets a strong base in math. I will also be using it with Josef as well since it seems that he has the same learning style as Jordan. Plus he seems to be grasping some of the concepts we are doing already.

TouchMath Kindergarten for Homeschoolers is broken up into 4 separate units.  Each Unit covers something different.  You can see where your child is and start in the appropriate unit.  That is one of the really nice things about TouchMath.

So how much does this curriculum cost?
Each Module is $59.95.  You can get all four modules for $199.95.  That's a savings of nearly $40 dollars!

The Manipulatives that we received are priced as follows.
3D Numerals - $79.00
TouchMath Kindergarten Tutor Software - $99.00
Touch Shapes - $30.00


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Little Big Things

I write to you today to say how important it is to secure your tall and even lower furniture (even if you think it might be secure).  Last fall our son, Josef, decided to try and climb the tall white dresser in the bedroom he shared with his brothers. 

My husband and I were downstairs in our den when we heard our oldest son crying and calling for help and heard Josef calling for help.  (He was only 2 1/2 at the time.)  When we walked in we saw Josef pinned between the tall dresser and bunkbeds (they actually kep the dresser from falling completely on him due to their position in the room).  I went to Josef to see how he was doing as my husband lifted the dresser back into place.

We both checked over Josef and kept him up till we decided to go to bed.  We were lucky.  The bunkbeds broke the trajectory of the fall.  He was pinned by the dresser drawers which slid out at the top.  Still it was one of the most scary moments in my life! 

Josef went to his pediatrician to make sure all was well and passed with flying colors.  What a sigh of relief for us! 

So this short post is to tell you the importance of securing your furniture.  I don't care how secure you think it might be!  Even something low could potentially fall and cause life threatening injuries.  You can get these things that screw in to your wall and the furniture.  Be sure to mount them to a stud in the wall as that is the most secure!  You will need a longer screw than what they give you.  A screw in drywall will not stop it.  The force from the furniture falling will rip it right out.  But if it's in a stud (solid wood) then that gives extra protection. 

Think of things children like to climb.  Bookshelves (short/tall), cabinets, hutches, dressers (short/tall), armoires (computer/TV) pretty much anything like that.  Those are your danger zones.  Your TV is another thing that can fall on your child if it isn't mounted.  Especially the new flat screen TV's.  The base is no where near wide enough to stop the TV from falling. 

Don't think it can't happen to you.  It can.  We were lucky that our situation wasn't worse.  So take the time this weekend to get the supplies and secure your house. 

ARTistic Pursuits

At a very young age I knew my son, Jonathan, was interested in drawing.  He would draw on anything we gave him.  Thankfully he contained it to the mediums appropriate for drawing. 

As we began homeschooling I just let him draw whatever he wanted.  I never had a curriculum, nor could I find one that I liked enough to get him.  I wanted something to help enhance the natural talent that God gave him.  But I also wanted something to educate him in art.

Enter the opportunity to review ARTistic Pursuits: Elementary 4-5 Book 1.  ARTistic Pursuits was developed and written by Brenda Ellis and Daniel D. Ellis.  They created this curriculum because they believe that children can understand the concepts of art and put them into practice.  To read more about the philosophy of ARTistic Pursuits click here.

In going through this curriculum, I felt that they really encouraged kids to think outside the box.  So much so that my son (who is kind of used to being told what to do) had a slight difficulty in the very beginning.  But as he read and I encouraged him, he was able to grasp the concepts that were being taught in the curriculum.

Jonathan and I would take 2 (sometimes 3) days a week to work on art.  He often begged to do it daily but I really needed to keep him on track to not rush through things.  He got so excited about art.  I think for a time before this he was getting rather bored with just drawing without direction.  But now with a guide at his fingertips he started to enjoy it again. 

We sat and read the lessons together and also enjoyed the American Artwork that was introduced in each lesson.  Sometimes we would move on to the activity, but sometimes I would have him research the artist studied and tell me about his life, some other paintings he did and basically give me an oral report.  I like to see that he is learning about artists as well as techniques.  Together we would spend 15-30 minutes and then I would let him work on his own for 30-45 minutes (or longer if he needed to).

I loved how after a couple of lessons he really began to broaden his perspective on things to draw.  He began this course drawing the same things over and over but toward the end of the review period he really opened up.  He even went to my refrigerator to get some vegetables to practice drawing.  That was a first!  I was SO excited to see him do that.  It really made me glad to see him change what he was concentrating on for drawing.

ARTistic Pursuits teaches focus.  Focusing on a certain aspect of drawing to really hone in on that skill.  I think that was one of the things that impressed me.  They didn't just say to draw an apple.  They have you looking at all aspects.  Outline, shadowing and detail to name a few. 

Overall, I am really pleased with ARTistic Pursuits.  I feel that my son does well with a lesson and then hands on application.  I also love the incorporation of American Art!  Definitely something I had been wanting to do and now I have the best of both worlds.

ARTistic Pursuits has curriculum from Preschool through Highschool.  From being able to use the 4-5 Book 1 with Jonathan, I definitely like what I see and feel that it is going to be in my family for quite some time.  I am already planning to get the books for my younger children. 

Something to note:  You do want to make sure you have the supplies listed.  I did go purchase some things for Jonathan as we didn't have certain types of erasers or pencils.  But these can be easily found on amazon.com or at your craft store.

To purchase ARTistic Pursuits 4-5 book 1 click here.  It is $47.95 and for ages 9+. 


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Say what?

So I was trying to type a status about the weather today and well I had a mental lapse.  I was trying to spell a word to describe the weather and for the life of me could NOT figure it out. 

Have you ever had that happen?  You type the word, it doesn't look right, you type it again, still not right...You ask your hubby who is sitting next to you "How do spell this word?"  He is distracted by the video game the kids are playing...not good when trying to spell and you need help! 

So what do you do???  You figure out another adjective!!  Yup, that's what you do!  Luckily for me I was able to do that fairly easily.  But the best part was when my husband who finally heard my plight and heard my correction, laughed at me cause he realized I was having trouble spelling the word "gorgeous"!  Yup, couldn't figure it out for the life of me.  So instead, I used "Beautiful". 

Yes, mental lapses happen to all of us...  ;)  Hope you enjoyed this little note of about my mental lapse.

Waiting for Spring!

So we are anxiously waiting for Spring to arrive in Southwest PA.  Well maybe more than anxiously!  Staying couped up in the house for winter is just no fun at all!  We had some snow, but it wasn't anything to write about.  I think the most we got at one time was 12 inches.  That's small in the grand scheme of things.

We really like to go outside and do things.  Walks, the park, digging in the yard for worms and bugs, climbing trees, getting the activity in outside instead of jumping off of mommy and daddy's furniture!  The boys have SO much energy!  (want to learn how to use some for myself) 

So spring, come on over!  Today was a GREAT preview!  LOVED IT!  Keep up the good work!  :)

Abraham's Journey - A Book Review

A dream is a wish your heart makes.  Or so the song says. 
The American Dream!  Now there's something for you to think about.  So how does one go on Inspiring the American Dream

My son and I were able to review the book Abraham's Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream.  When the American Dream seems lost, I was glad to see that it wasn't when we read this book together. 

Abraham's Journey was written by Kathleen Basmadjian & Robert Basmadjian Jr.  Kathleen has worked for the pharmaceutical industry in the public and private sector.  She also volunteered her time to mentoring and tutoring children in the DC area.  Robert has more than 15 years in the publishing industry.  He also has worked in advertising and public relations.  You can read more about the authors here.

Today it seems that all you hear is negativity.  What happened to the American Dream?  It seems so lost amongst all the things of this world.  It's not only going to affect the adults but it will affect our children as well. 

Reading Abraham's Journey was such a treat to see that the American Dream is still alive!  Abraham is a young boy who's father lost his job.  (Something I think we can relate to today)  It's approaching Christmas and he wants to get gifts for his family.  But he doesn't know how. 

So he is surfing on his phone and is led on a journey by President Lincoln.  They travel through the past and meet several historical figures along the way. 

As they go through the journey, Abraham discovers some things.  He discovers that to achieve the American Dream it takes hard work, dedication, faith, creativity and a persistent attitude. 

Those things are what we as parents need to instill in our children.  But we can't do it alone.  Everyone needs to be on board.  Parents, Teachers, anyone that has an influence over our children.  If we don't do this, there is a chance that the American Dream will be lost.

This book is beautifully illustrated and written so that it is easily understood.  My oldest son, Jonathan (10), read it as an assignment alone.  (it is geared toward ages 7-12)  Then I read it myself.  I also took the opportunity to read it aloud to my children and 3 children I am watching right now.  (ages 10-2)  They loved to look at the pictures.  I even found myself tearing up as I read it aloud to the children.  It is something that struck me as we go through these times.

The American Dream is defined as such.  The ideal that the American system of self-government allows for any and all individuals to pursue and achieve a fulfilling and successful life.  This is something I really want to have my children achieve.  My husband and I work really hard to instill the values necessary to achieve the dream.  So with a lot of prayer, faith, hard work, creativity, dedication and persistence, hopefully one day they can achieve  the American Dream. 

If you want to share the American Dream with your child, I highly recommend reading this book to your children.

Abraham's Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream is available here.  It is $14.99. 


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Giveaway at Eternal Encouragement & SALE!

Just a quick note to my readers!  Eternal Encouragement has partnered with 10 different companies for a GREAT Giveaway! 

Here are the prizes!

§  First Place Winner will receive a Kindle Fire AND a $100.00 gift certificateto the Eternal Encouragement Shop.

§  Second Place Winner will receive a Nook Simple Touch eBook Reader (Wi-Fi Only) and a $50.00 gift certificate to the Eternal Encouragement Shop.

§  Third Place Winner will receive a $50 Amazon card and a $25.00 gift certificate to the Eternal Encouragement Shop.

§  Fourth through Tenth Place Winners will receive $25.00 gift certificate to the Eternal Encouragement Shop.

Also, over at the Eternal Encouragement shop EVERY product is 50% off!  What a GREAT time to get some of the things you have wanted!  This sale is only through Friday the 8th at midnight!

College Common Sense - Going to College and Paying for it

My oldest son, Jonathan, is 10 years old.  Going on 11.  When we found out we were pregnant with him we looked into how much college was going to be to attend.  It was anywhere from $20k - $40k depending on where you were going.  And those were community colleges, mixed with some state colleges.  Now if you wanted a private or Ivy-League college you might as well double to tripple the hightest amount.  You could buy a house with what some colleges charge for tuition! 

So we had every intention of putting money aside for college as our children grew up, but we weren't the best in making financial decisions and that didn't happen.  Fast-forward almost 11 years and we have no idea how we are going to pay for college.  Plus the cost of college has gone sky high.  Even community college is expensive!

Needless to say we need some help!  We had trouble navigating financial aid as highschool students and even as adults wanting to further our education.  Enter College Common Sense and their product Going to College and Paying for it  (online video & workbook). 

College Common Sense and Going to College & Paying for it was created by Denise.  She works in the financial aid department and really knows what you need to know to get money for college.  Click here to view a short introduction by Denise.

Jonathan is going into 6th grade next year.  That means 6 short years from now he is going to be entering the world of college!  My heart goes faint and then screams at the thought of funding school! 

Jonathan and I would watch the videos together in the afternoons and go through the workbook together.  I found it very informative.  It told what YOU (as the student) need to do to prepare for college.  The 6 videos go over the following: The Big Picture, How Financial Aid Works, All About The Free Money, The System That Works, You in the Process, & Put it All Together.  She emphasizes that it is all up to YOU to work hard to get the money.  Whether it's scholarships, grants, loans, you have to do the work.  It's not something that just magically falls into place.

Another  thing we did was we signed up for the FREE lesson plans that Denise offers. These are great ways to involve your child. And even though Jonathan is only in 5th grade right now, I don't feel that it is too early to start preparing him to do things to save money for college. In the lesson plans, Denise suggests some videos to watch and activities for your child to do.

Each activity she suggests are age/grade appropriate. I liked how she suggested he make a spiral bound notebook called "all about me." He loves to draw and write so that was right up his alley. Denise suggests a different activity each week for you to work on. I highly recommend signing up for the free newletter with lesson plans.

I think at this point this might have gone over his head a little bit.  But I am glad we were able to do it as it let me know what all I need to help him do in preparing for college. It has been many years since I had done anything regarding college so this was a great refresher for me as well. 

Overall, I felt the program beneficial for us.  My son might not have realized it was beneficial, but I think as we go through it over the next 6 years he will.  He did start to ask questions about the videos and about the topics covered. I was glad he did that because it did show that he was paying attention.

I feel so strongly in my son being able to pay for his college that we will work together to get this accomplished as much as possible!  But not oly will I be working with him, as my other children come of age, we will do the same thing with them.

To purchase Going to College and Pay for it (online and workbook) click here.  It is $25 for 12-months of access.
There is also a DVD with the workbook option as well.  It is $50 + $5 S&H.


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