Tag Archives: Pepper

A Lie and the Truth–A Bridge Unit


It’s been awhile. But I’m still here, and I feel compelled to share a potential lie and the truth behind it. In doing so, I want to dispel the myth that all homeschooling activities go well and that all homeschooling children are happy.

Here we go . . .

This week, I decided to try something very different for our homeschool adventure–a unit study. I know, I know, you’d think at this point (9 1/2 years), I would have done this before. Believe me, I’ve tried.

But my children complained, whined, and cried. “I don’t like this.” “This isn’t fun.” “I’m bored.”

They can be hard to please. So I gave up. The years have passed–the complaining ones are older.

Since my early attempts, I’ve done considerable research about my kids’ learning styles. I’ve learned more about what makes learning easy and hard for my kids. I learned, in particular, that I have several kids who are afraid to try ANYTHING new that they don’t have direct experience with.

I decided to try again. I chose to do a unit on “bridges.” Six weeks–two days a week. Lots of hands on activities. A variety of subjects incorporated into a package. My goal was NOT to teach particular information (that will come later), my goal was to simply see IF we could do a unit study together . . . and survive.

Now for the lie– Continue reading



Filed under Examples and Stories

Life of Fred

Life of Fred PictureWhy do all math books have to seem so boring? Pages and pages of problems. Standing in rows. Like soldiers in a phalanx that must be mowed down to  conquer.

But math isn’t about mowing down soldiers are moaning at the kitchen counter . . . at least it shouldn’t be. Math is all around us. It’s what gives structure and explains why and how things work.

But we often teach it in neat little rows and columns. We divide and segment it. We isolate it from everything else in the world. And then we wonder why kids think it’s boring.

Except we don’t ALL teach it that way. Continue reading

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How NOT to Inspire Learning

It was one of those days.

I got up a little late and didn’t feel like exercising. The kids rolled out of bed a little out of sorts. Breakfast was blah.

I got distracted by the computer when we should have been cleaning the kitchen, and They Might Be Giant science videos on youtube kept us all entertained for half an hour.

Looking at the clock, I realized that my plans for the day were already rearranging themselves. I tossed family housework time, and we headed straight for morning devotional and reading. PeaPod (7) complained about her seat on the couch. Bok Choy (5) complained about the book we’re reading (Secret Garden).

I soldiered on. After reading time, I asked Lima Bean (9) to clean out his overflowing inbox–a plastic bin where he keeps all of his finished drawings, stories, and projects. Forty-five minutes later, he had papers and toys in piles all over. The living room was a mess, and he was overwhelmed! I could see where we were headed . . . I offered to break down the job into smaller steps . . . it didn’t matter. (Remember how Lima Bean obsessively worries about everything?!?)

That’s when the crying and moaning and whining started. Continue reading

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Wrong Answer!

A lot of life can feel like its all about getting the “right” answer. When we take a test, interview for a job, or raise our hand to answer a question in church, it often seems like there’s one answer that everyone is searching for. And whoever figures out what that answer is gets labeled as “the smart one.”

But what if giving the wrong answer was the right thing to do? What if it actually stretches you and opens up new possibilities?

Pepper (11) constantly reminds me of this potential. Continue reading

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It Happened!

Is it possible to have complete faith in something and still have fear lurk in the corners?

I figure it must be . . . because that’s how I often feel about the methods I use to homeschool. Even though I believe with all my heart that inspiring the desire to learn will be more effective in the long run than requiring my children to slave away at worksheets and spelling lists, I still worry when our “school work” looks nothing like what I think a “normal” schooling should look like.

On days when one child chooses to do nothing but embroider letters on to a piece of cloth, the fear creeps up and sometimes I have to go have a little talk with myself in my room.

“Deep breath, it will be okay,” I tell myself. “Owning their own learning is more important than doing math problems. They’ll get there. When the time is right, they’ll motivate themselves to do the kind of learning that they’ll need to be successful in life . . . to get into college . . . to get a job. Trust the process. Trust them. Truuuuuuuust them!”

Then my kids start asking through the bedroom door why they can hear weird chanting. It’s not a good thing. . . .

However, the other day, a breakthrough of momentous proportions occurred. I wanted to leap for joy. I wanted to shout from the rooftops. I wanted to proclaim, “It happened!”

Here’s how it went down: Continue reading


Filed under Examples and Stories, Purpose