Developing Critical Thinking Skills Through Literature

Last week, my teenage daughter said to me, “I love talking about books.” I couldn’t agree more. And the popularity of book clubs is evidence that we’re not alone. What a pleasure it is to read a good book and then talk about it!

Thankfully, doing these two simple things is an effective way of developing critical thinking skills — provided you ask and discuss the right questions. So, as I promised in my last post, here is a list of questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy that you can ask your children/teens to help them think critically about the books they are reading.

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Our Favorite Homeschool Curricula This Year (2018 – 2019)

It’s spring! Time to start planning for the coming school year. In years past, I used to spend hours browsing home school curricula. This year, with our second teen heading to highschool in the fall, there isn’t that much browsing to do. We’re pretty much sticking to the stuff that we know has worked for us in the past. For those of you who are deciding on curricula, here is a list of our favorite books from this year:

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Teaching Your Child to Read with Short Vowel Stories… and a free give-away!

When my oldest was a kindergartener, I wrote some super short stories to help her learn to read. I then used them to teach all my other kids to read, along with a variety of other phonics books. Variety is the spice of life, so it is good to give your emerging readers a mixture of books  with which they can learn to read.

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How My Kids are Keeping Busy this Summer

When I was a child, my mother used to say, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” I find myself saying the same thing to my kids whenever boredom leads to trouble. Not that I’m against boredom. A certain amount is healthy — it allows children to use their imaginations and creativity in a free and leisurely manner. Excessive boredom, however,  makes children want to eat when they’re not hungry and waste time on video games (which we don’t do here). It also incites kids to pester their siblings because they have nothing else to do.

The warm, care-free days of summer are a wonderful gift. But children still need structure. They still need to use their time constructively.  Besides play-dates, swimming, biking, and sports, here are some things we are doing to make the most of our summer days.

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Motivating your kids to READ!

There is no question that one of the single most important skills to teach our kids is to read.  I would argue that it is not only our job to teach them HOW to read, but more importantly to LOVE to read. The amount kids read has a direct relationship to better scores on standardized tests and an easier time with grammar, spelling, and writing.  As we approach the summer months, how can we motivate them to spend part of their days reading and not lose all of those skills we have worked so hard on during the school year?

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Books to Give Your Kids this Christmas

Around this time of year as I think about Christmas shopping, I know I have to tackle the toy closet in order to make room for more stuff. However,  one look at our toy storage, which is a dangerous undertaking, makes me want to revolt against plastic toys, toys that need batteries, toys with a million little pieces, and toys in general. The thought of having to buy even more toys makes me feel like this:

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Treasure Seeking: How to Find the Best Children’s Literature

I can never seem to find enough good books for my children. My daughter can devour an entire chapter book in a day or two. My  sons can, too, but they tend to be more picky. Or perhaps there just isn’t a whole lot of wholesome quality literature written for boys between the ages of 8 and 12. Unfortunately,  many books written nowadays just don’t make the cut. I want my kids to read books that will inspire and ennoble them, books that show them what it is to be heroic, courageous, and generous, books that help them develop a moral compass while appealing to their imagination. Books that preach without preaching.

So here is where I go when I’m treasure seeking:

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Beyond the Readers

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Once your child is reading fluently, you’ll want to introduce him/her to books that will whet their appetite for independent reading. Here are some of our favorite books my children have enjoyed.

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The Three Keys to Teaching Your Child to Read – Part 3

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Once your child is ready and willing (at least most of the time!) to learn how to read, the third key to the door of literacy is easy to obtain.

Back in the days when I was a piano teacher, I had to teach children as young as five to read music. For most children, learning to read music is even more challenging than learning to read words. A single note has pitch, duration, volume, and articulation. When you give a child a string of notes to read in the treble clef and a completely different set of notes to read in the bass clef, you are asking the child to process several things at once. A lot of mental exertion is needed, so much so that the only way to learn the music is by repetition, repetition, repetition.

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