Monthly Archives: February 2015

The One Man Who Could Have, Didn’t

Only one man has ever had the power to utterly destroy his torturers, body and soul. But not only did he allow them to live, he also stuck around and submitted himself to the torture, allowing them to finish their work, even as He finished His. The fear of torture freaks me out more than anything in this world, and I just can’t wrap my mind around anyone will the will-power to purposefully accept it.Cross

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Hobbies for the Blind?

Here’s an interesting question that my son and I are just now discussing: what hobbies would you pursue if you were blind? Last I checked, my vision was 20/400 in both eyes, so this is something I have thought about for quite a while now. My best answer is to become intimately familiar with an instrument and learn to play by ear. Ian thinks it would be nice to work with modeling clay and create sculptures by touch. I’m thinking the tactile sensations alone would be pleasant and beneficial. What would you do?Eye Chart

Apple Fasting

Has anyone ever tried an apple fast?Apples

I believe fasting is good for clearing the line of communication between myself and God, but even if you aren’t religious, it is widely known for being good for us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I say spiritually because, even if you don’t believe in a higher power, I assume everyone reading this believes they are more than just a mere cloud of atoms (a phrase borrowed from C.S. Lewis). The greatest benefit in my own life has been two-fold: clarity and self-discipline. I believe it is a powerful tool that Christians (or dieters, lol) can use to overcome fleshly temptations, and it is so powerful that I don’t understand why it is so often overlooked and rarely spoken about, even in Christian circles. I am assuming it’s because we aren’t supposed to brag about it? Or to make ourselves look hungry, etc? But is this any excuse not to teach our children and mentor others who have the same needs? I don’t think so.

I am asking about the apple fast because Ian is interested in fasting. (He is 10.) However, everything I have read says that children should not fast. The apple fast is a happy medium in which you can consume as many apples as you want for 1-3 days, but nothing else (except water and apple juice). It is supposed to have many of the same physical benefits as regular fasting. I don’t know if the discipline benefits will be all that much though, but I figure it’s a start.

Ideas or comments?

A new idea for teaching spelling

It’s important to me that Ian become a pretty decent speller someday. In this day and age, he especially needs to know his homonyms apart, because most spell-checkers can’t catch them.

Lately however, we have completely ditched spelling as a separate course. It just didn’t seem like it was clicking for us. I remember a conversation I had with my husband about the topic. The fact is, there are only a couple of words that I remember the spellings for because I learned them from a list. They are (drum-roll, please): calendar and separate.

I think that’s it.

Now, I am usually a pretty good speller (although this particular post will probably be full of errors, just to make a liar out of me, lol). The thing is, I don’t actually remember learning the spellings of words. I just know how they’re spelled. In an effort to figure out a better way to teach Ian, I had to ask myself, How? How did that happen?

And then it hit me: I was an avid reader as a child. I saw commonly used words spelled over and over and over again. I’m no expert on teaching spelling, but I am pretty convinced that reading lots of books has more impact on a person’s ability to spell than any spelling curriculum.Spelling

So, part A of my method, if you’d like to call it that, is lots and lots of reading.

Part B is spaced repetition, and here’s how it came about:

After a while, reading, with no other review, began to seem like the lazy way out. I was still afraid that maybe I wasn’t taking an active enough role in helping Ian become the speller I want him to be. The beauty of being a homeschool mom is the fact that I love my child more than any other teacher ever could. So when I find myself second-guessing his future, I am quick to analyze our habits and make changes if need be.

Then we started dictation exercises. I have written about this before, but here it is in a nutshell: To help him improve the actual physical skill of writing (which is the hardest part for him), I used to read three sentences to him every day from a book that is slightly below his reading level. He wrote the sentences down as I read them aloud. I thought: here’s my chance to help him with his spelling! When he came to a word he didn’t know, he would attempt to spell it, and I would help him. Then, if there were any spelling rules that would help him understand better, we would review them immediately (such as the difference between hoping and hopping).

This method worked for months, and he has accumulated pages and pages of a hand-written copy of “Little House in the Big Woods.” However, being the kind of mom that I am, the kind that wants to over-prepare for life, maybe, this method still seemed to be lacking. Even though his spelling was improving as time went on, I felt drawn to a more traditional approach to spelling.

But I hate the traditional approach! Why? Because, you learn a list of words, whether you know them already or not, you study them for a mere four days, and end by taking a quiz on day five. Study is usually accompanied by mind-numbing oral repetition and hand-cramping copying of 5 times each. Then, poof! The word disappears. And, magically, you never have to spell that word ever again. Sorry, but I just think it’s a waste of time. His and mine.

Three or four days ago, we sort of stumbled upon the solution. It was actually more Ian’s idea than mine. He had missed a fairly simple word that day during dictation. It was a word I was sure he would remember if only he had a little more exposure to it. So, as the day progressed, I asked him how to spell it. I interrupted his dinner, his video game playing, his exercising – I made myself very annoying, lol. But he didn’t mind too much because I was only asking for 5 seconds of his time, three or four times for the rest of the day. (That’s what we have been doing with any difficult math facts he encounters every day, and it really works.)

The next day, right before dictation, I asked him again – he still remembered the spelling. Ian said: “I really like spelling, but I like spelling out loud.” Then I felt guilty. I thought I had been saving him from unnecessary repetition, but he truly enjoys being able to spell. He enjoys the feeling it gives him when he does it well. So, we stopped short at only two sentences that day, and reviewed the words he had just missed. We have been adding to the “list” every day, reviewing spelling rules as we go along. Some words he only has to review once, and he spells them right after that no matter how many times I ask him. So I don’t ask him those every day. I mark the ones that are particularly difficult, and I have been asking after those throughout the day, just like on the first day. And here’s the beauty of it: we only ever review words that he misses. No wasting time with things he can figure out on any given day.

Now we have both been using flashcard programs lately, and the spaced-repetition system is really working for both of us. We are both learning Spanish, and Ian is firming up his times tables. So I have decided to work out a spaced-repetition system, where he reviews words that he misses every so often, spacing the words out farther and farther with each successful spelling. Who knows, I might even create my own Anki or Memrise deck for him.

Wish us luck!