Monday, December 12, 2016

An Interview with a Homeschool Alumini

Meet my friend Devora. She is a beautiful, smart, funny and very spiritual woman in her early 20's. She was homeschooled until the age of 9 and is here to share her homeschooling experience with all us nervous mothers wondering and praying how our kids will turn out because we homeschooled them...

A Homeschooling Interview with Devora:
Me: Until what age were you Homeschooled? 
Devora: Until 3rd grade (9 years old).
M: What was your mothers teaching method? Did she follow a Curriculum? 
D: My mother visited different schools in different states and collected the curriculums to see what each grade level is up to. She took the information and lessons she wanted to give us and made it real and alive! For example, when learning about the Exodus from Egypt, the house was transformed into a dessert (we live in the Midwest). She put tarp on floor covered with sand on top, a huge sun mural on the wall and heaters to feel the desert heat. We also drove over to the hardware store and bought cement to make our own bricks at home. 
We would learn Chumash one on one in the morning followed by other Torah subjects. Then in the afternoon English, math and other secular subjects along with lots of extracurricular opportunities (I took ceramics, art, gymnastics, Karate, Basketball, ballet, ice skating with homeschoolers and drama. We had so much fun being outside, exploring nature… nature is the best playground! We'd go to amusement parks and museums for kids.
M: What did you enjoy about being homeschooled?  
D: I really enjoyed the freedom to blossom in a nurturing place, where parents are sensitively catering to each of their children's specific needs. Parents are always there to directly take care of any issue that might come up immediately and they are there to constantly create a loving and accepting atmosphere. Another aspect that's great about homeschooling is that children's curiosity is allowed to flow and the learning can be based on where the child's curiosity leads them. 
M: What were some of your biggest challenges being homeschooled? 
D: It was challenging that there were no kids like us, and my parents were worried that our lack of social experiences with children of the same age might affect us negatively.
M: How were those challenges overcome? 
D: It came naturally. By having an open and loving home and utilizing any sort of social experiences, it did not cause us to lack in our social skills.
M: Would you homeschool your children?
D: YES!! I cannot imagine not. My children would be nurtured in the best possible way by people who care about them the most and know each child’s individual needs. The parents set the tone of the environment the children are in and that is key! An accepting, genuine, open minded, free, adventurous feel along with  rules, values and morals let the curious and quick minds of children to express themselves and be the best they can be!
M: Where did you go after 3rd grade? 
D: To a Hebrew Academy for half a day (Judaic Studies) 1 ½ hours away and all secular subjects taught at home. By 5th grade I was a full day in the Hebrew Academy and by 6th grade (11 years old) I went away from home to school 6 hours away from home.
M: Were there any issues socially? 
D: Definitely no negative differences. More children in schools have issues from being bullied and there is no space and time to calm down or think. When in a safe environment the child could talk about their feelings, and be taught effective coping skills, good communication skills and model good examples.
M: What were the biggest challenges entering a mainstream school? 
D: Academically, I was not used to school rules and the classroom structure. I had to catch up on some material, but after a few months of learning with tutors I was on par with the class. Socially, it was weird being around all these kids that are the same age as you and to see people being mean and bullying is almost a normal thing in schools. Parents should prepare their child before entering a school from homeschooling very well so there is less things that could be a little shocking. For example,  the style of learning, how other children might act, what kind of clothes is generally worn in that school etc.
M: What is your message to mom’s homeschooling their children? 
D: Tune into your children! Figure out their specific needs so you can help them grow. You also don't need to be scared that you might not be doing everything like a regular school..it's ok, you are not a typical school, you are YOUR unique school. Make adventures, be creative, give experiences. Of course always be on top of  your game, tracking what skills your children are accomplishing and where they might be taking a longer time to advance. 
Also remember, homeschooling is not for everyone, it can be very stressful for parents and not the most beneficial to children if not done properly. However, if one is committed to making it work and being 100% dedicated to their children's education and growth in all areas, it can be the most rewarding path for parents and their children!
Thank you my dear Devora!
May you all have a wonderful week and I hope this interview was helpful to you on your homeschooling journey,
Always,

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Beautiful Dvar Torah Book for Kids- a Book Review

Let your child shine at the Shabbos and Yom Tov table!
This is a beautiful compilation of Divrei Torah written in a clear and simple style for children to read and share at the Shabbos table.

Here is a sample Dvar Torah from Parshas Lech Lecha:


The font is large, the words and ideas are simple. This book is such a wonderful addition to your Shabbos table.
Books can be purchased
and Here

Habe a wonderful week!
Always,

Monday, November 28, 2016

TeachingMarket.com Launches New Teaching Hub Guest Post

TeachingMarket Launches New Teaching Hub 

A newly launched TeachingMarket.com is one of the fastest growing online teacher “hubs,” making online teacher resources easy to search, find, and download.  While the vast majority of the hundreds of files are geared towards pre-school and lower elementary; TeachingMarket will be launching “Middle School” in the very near future.



TeachingMarket.com is easy to use making digital files immediately available for classroom use with the touch of a button.  Simply search by subject and download  a lesson in seconds.  Gone are the days of tedious lesson planning!

Another stand-out feature of TeachingMarket is the user’s option to upload their own files and get paid for sharing.  It is a great way for teachers to share what they’ve found to be successful in the classroom while making some extra income.  Why make another lesson when surely someone has done it already? It is easy to share and give students a quality educational experience while keeping teachers sane!



With a growing number of files being uploaded every day, lesson sharing is a time saving resource for teachers!

Homeschooling has seen a huge surge as of late and TeachingMarket is now offering Jewish Homeschool blog subscribers a special.  Simply upload a file, sign up for monthly e-mails & promo codes, and you are entered to win a $10 gift card towards any educational files available for download on the website.
With Chanukah around the corner please stay tuned for discount codes and special giveaways for educators and parents.

TeachingMarket is a one-stop hub for all your teaching needs.

Looking forward to a successful year!
For more information, please visit www.TeachingMarket.com

Chew it Over- a book review

How often do we try to teach our kids (and ourselves) to think things through before doing anything. Before eating something, before going somewhere, before bringing someone into our lives, pretty much everything we do requires us to think it through or as this wonderful book written by Getzel Rubashkin says, 

I love how he has taken the lesson from how Kosher animals need to chew their food a few times before it gets digested and turned it into a very applicable life lesson for everyone, both adults and kids alike.
 It coughed it all up again and it chewed it again.
  All kosher animals chew that way too
 What is that lesson? What could it be?
Here is a peek at some of the wonderful illustrations and words from Chew it Over:
Chew it Over is such a fabulous addition to any children's library. You can purchase a copy Here- buy one for your kids, your nieces and nephews, your next door neighbor... and it makes a really special Chanukah Gift!
Wishing you all a wonderful week!
Always,
 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Menus!!!

I find it humerous when people come to my house or meet me in person and tell me how organized I am. They see the charts on my walls, my printable schedules and lists and it truly does give the impression that I am, indeed, organized.

But you see, the thing is, the reason I make and post all these charts is because I am so DISorganized and I need these things to help keep me focused and somewhat sane!

I am an avid follower and admirer of organizing and time management guru Rivka Caroline (author of From Frazzeled to Focused and www.sobeorganized.com/). She often says, in her lovely English accent,  'You need to make your life as boring as possible when it comes to setting up systems. So boring that you do not have to think.'

Lets translate that into my own life right now.

Its two and a half weeks until Rosh Hashana. Thats four entire Shabbos meals and about 54 meals to cook for my family. I have many other things going on in the next 2 weeks so the less I need to think about and plan, the better.

So today I sat down and made 3 menus: Rosh Hashana, Week day meals and Shabbos meals. I'm so happy to share them with you to give you ideas, inspiration or just the plain enjoyment in reading what we'll be eating for the next two and a half weeks and over the Holidays!

Rosh Hashana Menu
I get most of my recipes off of Pinterest and tweak them to my families liking. Feel free to search for them and tweak them to yours.


Shabbos Menu
 These are all my go to dishes. I make one type of fish, 2-3 dips, 2-3 salads, 1 soup, 1-2 Main dish, 2 sides and 1 dessert, always served with tea


Weekly Menu


~Enjoy~

Always,

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

When your child has ODD

I have a 7 year old son.

He has the most delicious toothless smile you have ever seen and the most infectious laugh you will ever hear. His nose is doused with freckles and he always has a band aid on at least one if not both of his knees. Everywhere we go, people tell me how cute he is and what a great personality he has. He's that kid. I'm sure most of you have at least one.

The thing is, this sweet boy of mine has some serious anger issues. Issues I figured were just a part of his passionate personality.

He has tantrums. Really bad tantrums. Tantrums that involve throwing things and ruining things, hurting anyone in his path and saying some really, really nasty things.

All my kids had their fair share of tantrums and meltdowns.

But none of them had this anger attached to it. They all would ultimately calm down and realize what they did.

Not with this little guy of mine.

He always seems to blame everyone around him. It is never his fault. He hit because... he yelled because... he always has a long drawn out reason (which always makes perfect sense, mind you) justifying his actions.

I keep telling myself he will 'grow out of it' but something just was not feeling right.

A week ago I sat down and googled 'angry child, tantrums, disrespectful, wont take responsibility for actions, disrupting family'

And I found the answer to everything.

ODD. Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Google it if you feel your child may have these qualities.

I don't like labels, but this label fits. And after a huge amount of research and professional advice, my husband and I have put a great plan into action that WORKS.

He is a new child.

I wanted to wait at least a week before blogging about this to see if the changes we implemented actually worked. And they did. And we will continue doing this until we don't need to anymore. And I truly hope that our experience and changes can help any of you that are dealing with a similar situation.

Dealing with a Child with ODD:
Step 1: 
Kids with ODD need CLEAR and CONCISE rules, along with CLEAR and CONSISTENT consequences. We have family rules, but we reworded them and put them up in the kitchen. Although the rules are geared toward this specific child, we didn't want to single him out, so we made them 'Family Rules'. My husband and I had a meeting with the kids and we all read the rules together and put them up on the wall. (Below is the unedited version that I had on my computer, aside for grammar, the edited version is exactly the same)


Step 2:
Help your child identify the things that set them off. It baffled my mind how one minute he was the perfect most adorable child and minutes later, a serious little monster, screaming and hitting and destroying things. It just made no sense. What was making him do these things?

So after some more research, I printed this paper and we went through it together. He checked off the things that he felt pressed his buttons. 

Now that he was aware that when certain things happen, he is feeling triggered, he is able to say, 'Mommy/Daddy, my buttons are being pressed,' or 'I'm being triggered.'

We told him that any time he feels this way, don't react to what is triggering him, but walk away and come tell one of us, mom or dad, and we will help him deal with it right away.

It was almost like this little sweet guy breathed a sigh of relief. I wanted to cry.



Step 3:
Kids with ODD don't WANT to be angry and out of control. They don't want to constantly argue and test us. But a child does not have the tools to change their behavior by themselves. We, as parents HAVE to step in and guide them in the most loving and gentle way we can.

So we made him his own daily checklist. Now that he is aware of the clearly marked rules, at the end of each day before he goes to sleep, we take out this sheet that I made for him. I laminated it and we keep it next to his bed. We use a dry erase marker and we told him that if he is able to put a smiley face in every single box, he gets to pick a prize. We told him he gets the opportunity to get a prize EVERY day if he can.


Step 4:
All kids, but especially kids with ODD, need constant positive reinforcement. Its not easy as a parent to be conscious all the time and to recognize seemingly normal behaviour in our kids when that is what they are 'supposed' to be doing.

But here are some things we have been telling our little guy as often as we can:
'Thank you for taking your plate to the sink, that's so helpful!'
'Your bedroom is so tidy, you must have worked really hard.'
'I really appreciate you telling me your sister was triggering you. Great job in not reacting and telling us right away, can I give you High Five?'
'Wow, I saw how you took a deep breath when you were starting to get upset. What a responsible thing to do, keep up the great work.'
'I see you are beginning to feel worked up, lets go sit outside for a few minutes and work it out.'

His eyes light up when we say these things. 

It took a few days before he was able to get ALL smiley faces.
BUT- since implementing this new system he has not had a tantrum ONCE. He has not been disrespectful ONCE. He has not lost his temper in a week, which is HUGE.

Mind you, he has faught with his siblings and yelled and did things that most 7 year old boys do. He is far from the perfect child! But for HIM, to not completely lose his cool for one week straight is nothing short of miraculous.

So last night, after an entire day of being calm and dealing with issues as they came along, my sweet little guy was able to get an entire page of smileys.

I need to remind you that it is not easy for him to get a full page of smileys, and every day is a huge challenge for him to work through keeping calm and dealing with issues that come up. I know it will not be easy to get another full page. But I know how good he is feeling about himself. The prize is just an added bonus.

He was so excited to pick a prize.
We printed this from a website and are tweaking it a bit.
But it works. And he feels so good about himself and so in control of himself.
Something he has never been able to do.
Finally.


He picked the Trophy, by the way. I bought 8 5" Plastic Gold trophies on Amazon and gave him one with his name written on it. He proudly displays it on his shelf next to his bed.

So please, do your own research. And if you find that your child fits the description of having ODD, deal with it as soon as you can. It will save your life and most importantly, your childs life.

Good Luck, and have a wonderful week,

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