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With Thanksgiving over and Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Las Posadas, and more just around the corner, we are definitely in the throes of the holiday season. As you’re stocking your lessons with seasonal plans, don’t miss out on the great items and curriculum extras to outfit your class.

Here is a sampling of categories from our Teaching Extras section. This is just a handful, so have fun perusing the entire collection!

• Alphabet Letter Patterns – Bring your class bulletin boards to life, or use for wall posters, writing games, theme units, and more!
Candy Cane
Christmas Theme (Member Section)

• Holiday Bookmarks – Encourage your budding bookworms with holiday fun! They come full-color or black and white, and are filled with themed graphics and cute sayings.
Bookmarks

• Border Paper – Get creative! Browse the collection for great ideas for writing prompts, personalized notes, theme units, and more!
Border Paper

• Calendars – Keep track of progress, upcoming events, or classroom activities. Calendars come in holiday, seasonal, and anytime themes, and are available in full-color or blank templates.
Calendars

• Candy Bar Wrappers – Tasty craft idea! Wrappers display cute graphics, fun sayings, and come colored or black and white, so students can color them..
Candy Bar Wrappers

• Desk Tags – Tags are great for handwriting practice or decorating desks with subject and seasonal fun. They can be used flat or in tented form, and come fully colored, or as black and white templates.
Desk Tags

• Flash Cards – Versatile cards for everyday use! Try them with bingo games, spelling and vocabulary practice, memorizing, ESL activities, and more.
Flash Cards

• Greeting Cards – Send personal notes to friends, family, teachers, and loved ones. They come in cute holiday, seasonal, and anytime themes, and are available in full-color or as blank templates.
Greeting Cards

• Newsletters – Fashion them for classroom reports, personal accomplishments, special announcements, and more! Newsletters come fully colored or black and white.
Newsletters

• Recipes – Cook up fun holiday learning! Use in class or at home for tasty treats, learning clubs, and practicing core subject skills.
Recipes

Happy Holidays!


Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Thanksgiving Lesson Plans

November 11th, 2012

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, pairing holiday-themed activities with lesson planning is an easy way to keep students engaged and feeling festive. The following samples are multi-subject classroom activities, along with supporting abcteach materials, to help you get this accomplished in no time.

 


Math

• Holiday cooking – During your Thanksgiving parties, use recipes to practice skills such as measurement, fractions, and time. This can be done as an at-home assignment for students to bring in, or as a larger in-class activity.
• Holiday Calendar – Create a November calendar and count down the days until Thanksgiving. How many days have already gone by? What percentage of the month is it? What fraction of the year does November represent? How about fall months?
• Reinforce key math skills, such as addition and counting, with holiday-themed interactives.

abcteach Categories
Fractions
Health and Nutrition
Interactive Math Files

Science

• Landscapes – Recreate the eastern shore landscape, along with regions inhabited by Native American tribes. Create drawings, mobiles, or clay figures. Discuss how the tribes’ homes were different. How did their clothing reflect this? What is the weather like and how does that affect their lifestyles?
• Flora and Fauna – In addition to the physical landscape, what were common plants and animals of that region? Draw a picture or paint the scene. How did that differ with various tribes?
• Mayflower – Discuss the makeup and mechanics of the Mayflower. How did it sail? What were the components? What are the parts of a ship? How might weather play a role? How does the Mayflower differ from other types of boats?

abcteach Categories
• Habitats and Biomes
• Animals
• Weather
• Boats & Sailing

Languages
• Vocabulary – With bingo flashcards, practice Thanksgiving-themed vocabulary words in multiple languages, including American Sign Language.
• Holiday Celebrations – Do other countries celebrate Thanksgiving? If not, do they have similar holidays, traditions, or customs? Create a word puzzle with abctools that includes key terminology.
• Watch a Thanksgiving movie with foreign language subtitles. Include a Turkey Day treat that’s either made as a class or at home. In the language that you are teaching, display the recipe, review the steps to make it, and identify the ingredients.

abcteach Categories
• Bingo Flashcards
• Recipes
• Thanksgiving
• abctools (Member Site)

Language Arts
• Books: “Thanksgiving Day,” by Anne Rockwell; “Thanks for Thanksgiving,” by Julie Markes; “If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620,” by Ann McGovern; “The Very First Thanksgiving Day,” by Rhonda Gowler
• Story Reporting – Have students select a book for at-home reading. During class time, students will share about what they read in a variety of fashions: create a poem, sing a song, be a TV reporter, or conduct a group interview.
• Play Time – Choose a holiday book to read in class, at home, or both. Pick a favorite scene and have students act out the scenario. They can be in traditional dress, include props, etc.

abcteach Categories
• Writing Forms
• Book Report Forms
• Interactive Reading Comprehensions

Art
• Puppet show – Recreate a Thanksgiving scene using felt, paper bags, or paper roll puppets.
• Thanksgiving Collage – Create a collage of holiday images or Thanksgiving-themed shapebook with holiday terms cut from magazines.
• Leaf Turkey Wall Hanging (Member Activity) – Hand-craft a turkey wall hanging from leaves. Take a playground field trip to search for leaves, or have students bring them in.

abcteach Categories
• Paper Roll Pals
• Paper Bag Puppets
• Thanksgiving Clip Art
• Shapebooks

Social Studies
• Map It Out – Create a colonial community, complete with homes, gardens, and activity places. Include a compass and have a discussion about directions and location.
• Role Play – Take your students back in time and have them play certain figures in the community. How were the responsibilities of men, women, and children different? How did they feel? How did the viewpoint of Pilgrims differ from that of Native Americans?
• Thanksgiving Lessons – What lessons did the Indians teach the Pilgrims? Vice Versa? What do we think life was like during the 1st Thanksgiving? Research the facts and compare how they are similar or different. Use “KWL” (Know, Want, Learn) or graphic organizers to display students’ responses.

abcteach Categories
• Native Americans
• Pilgrims
• Graphic Organizers
• Interactive Social Studies

____

The Thanksgiving season offers great opportunities to get festive, but more importantly, it instills the value of sharing and caring for others. We hope these activities help relay that message and add excitement to your classroom plans.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Posted by Lindsey Elton and Nancy Elton, abcteach Team

Our concluding post in the “Let’s Talk Bullying” series peers into the overall strategy at an alternative high school. The approach in this setting includes consistent discussion, personal responsibility, and immediate action.

Alternative High School
MSW case manager, Gina Sineni, counsels teens at an alternative high school in suburban Chicago. What is unique and challenging about this environment is that anti-bullying behavior therapy is directly and indirectly infused in everyday class, and is even more imperative due to the background of her students.

The Daily Routine
As an alternative high school, our job is to break through the emotional barriers that students face so that they can deal with their stressors in a healthy manner. Our counseling approach addresses their current behavior (and precursors to it) so that they can experience more positive outcomes at school, in relationships, and at home. They are very much a part of this conversation. A lot of the children we see cannot cope with everyday life due to their past, but we don’t accept this a predetermined condition for their present or future. We face the situation, as hard and unfair as that may be, and make action plans for what they need to do. They need to know that they have the resources and the power to create change. They also need to know that that change can and will only come from within them.

Specifically addressing bullying, we do activities on a consistent basis. Overall, students are receptive, but they need to think through the scenario and their actions more comprehensively and with higher frequency than their peers.

• Weekly Round Up Discussion – Each week we talk to our students in an open format about various topics that they want to cover. We go over specific behavioral issues, how they feel in certain scenarios, give proper anger management tips, etc. This is their chance to speak whatever is on their minds at the time. Outside of the benefit of giving positive instruction, these meetings also allow staff and students to deal with issues and not to have them build up.

• Anti-Bullying Discussion – During our weekly meetings, the specific topic of bullying is sometimes addressed. We discuss questions such as: why/how do people bully? What are the feelings inside? How does this makes people feel? How do you stop the phenomenon by taking away the power exerted by bullies (stop being vulnerable, taking away the control)? We want the students to think through the harm that these behaviors are presenting to others and themselves.

• Confronting on the Spot – Inappropriate behavior simply isn’t tolerated. If we witness a student doing or saying something out of line, it is confronted on the spot. Oftentimes we’ll say something like, “You are being mean and that talk/action will not be tolerated.” We are trying to change their behavior, so passive approaches and insinuations are not effective.

• Speaking Up – Students who witness bullying are encouraged to tell an adult and speak up. They are also given the description of what a bully is so they can see if their own actions are similar. If they see similarities, we strategize a plan (based on their own opinions) for them to change.

• Secure Environments – Students need to know that they have a support system and that they can feel safe reaching out to adults. Our school provides an encouraging environment where there are outlets (i.e. teachers, social workers, counselors), both for the bully and the victim.

• Cyberbullying – This is a big problem for our students because phones and Facebook are the main ways that they communicate. Like other activities, we use the same discussion platform as other bullying topics and address cyberbullying, sexting, and “trolling” directly, with a no-tolerance stance. (For our students, “trolling” is when someone sets up a fake account and writes mean or derogatory messages on FB, blogs, etc.)

• No-tolerance School Policy – There is a school-wide no-tolerance bullying policy. If it’s witnessed at all, students are written up and are given an in-school detention. The only way to end this is by the student directly addressing their behavior, why it was wrong, and how they will amend it.

Additional Resources

If you have any questions or comments regarding the types of activities that Gina’s students engage in, please let us know.

This article concludes our “Let’s Talk Bullying” series. We hope that these varying perspectives – an elementary school teacher, a parent, a special needs teacher, and a therapist – have provided you with additional support, direction, and/or assurance that, although bullying happens to our students and children, we do have resources at our side. We can do something about it.

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team; and Gina Sineni, MSW

The final posts in our anti-bullying series take us into two unique learning settings: a middle school special needs class and an alternative high school. Our special needs story will be presented first, with the alternative classroom in a separate post. We’ve selected these environments to shine light on classrooms that experience bullying on a different level than their mainstream counterparts.

 

A Special Needs Class: Middle/High School
This classroom perspective comes to you from abcteach staff member and retired specialist, Janie Quinn. Janie taught moderate cognitively-impaired and autistic spectrum students for over 30 years, with most of her experience in the middle and high school settings.

Austism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Being a special needs teacher, many of the students I worked with were prime suspects for bullying. Across the board, our approach was always to handle situations proactively. When we knew one of our kids was being placed in a class where their peers were not familiar with ASD, we did an educational intervention. During these events, one or more staff members would present general information about Autism, along with examples of the many “quirks” our students could exhibit. We tried to explain the background of ASD and why the students’ autistic classmates may act/respond in a certain way.

Normally, a special needs teacher or assistant was frequently in class with an ASD student. If things seemed to be getting dicey, the staff member would often ask for 5 minutes at the beginning or end of class to do a brainstorming session. They would propose a hypothetical situation similar to what they were observing, e.g., a student in one of your classes is making odd noises or comments during class. Why do you think they are doing this? How can we help them control this and be more appropriate? Even in middle school you would be amazed at how perceptive students are. Having a better understanding of why something is happening and how they may be able to help often leads to a better experience for all.

Students generally have lots of questions and often ask about situations in other classes. We stressed to them that we are working together in an adult fashion, and spoke about the importance of confidentiality. Laughing, inappropriate behavior, or comments are handled by letting everybody know they are not “adult-like” responses, and are not helping the situation.

ASD and Cognitively Impaired (CI)
In the ASD and CI classrooms (CI is the old “mentally retarded”), our main goal was self advocacy. The underlying theme in that approach is that everyone is different and unique. Students learned about their individual strengths and areas that needed improvement, while at the same time, were taught that everybody has different capabilities. We reinforced that it was ok not to be the best in everything, and that patience was needed when others didn’t perform as well as they did.

The following are a handful of activities that we used with our students:

• Create a “Script” – these were for students to say if confronted with a stressful situation.
• Role Play – this was mostly done with special needs students. I used many social situation scenarios and had my students role play to help them practice and comprehend the nuances of social interactions.
• Focusing on Strengths – Most of the ASD kids who were capable of progressing in the general ed classes were happy about being with their peers in a more academically challenging environment. These children generally see only the black or white of a situation – for them, there are no gray areas! Life unfortunately does have gray areas, so this is where we focused a lot on their strengths..

• Example – A student was in a general 7th grade math class. In order to be successful, he attended class and got backup instruction in special ed. He wanted to be part of his class, but socially he was a few years behind. One of his strengths was somehow knowing what day a date fell on – no matter what the year. He was amazing! He would ask when you were born, and then give the date, including the year, or would say “Oh, you were born on a Monday!” As far as I could tell, he was always right! We used this strength during the first few weeks of class, trying to get other students to perform the skill, then asking him. His peers were really impressed and afterwards were much more inclusive with him. They frequently asked about his “talent” or had him show off to their friends. After this, the peers were much kinder and more helpful when the student struggled or acted differently.

• Problem Solving Strategies – Students were taught a number of strategies so that they could identify what worked best for them. These strategies included walking away from a conflict, finding a friendly group to go to, walking to an area where an adult was present, etc.
• Secure Classrooms – an important component of working with these kids was to create an environment where they felt safe. We talked about the class being a “family,” and that we needed to look after each other. If they witnessed bullying, they needed to notify an adult. We stressed that it was not “tattling,” but rather that it was following the correct steps to resolve a problem.

Janie’s Picks

• Ready to Use Social Skills Lessons and Activities, by Ruth Weltmann Begun. It’s a great series with different volumes for grades PreK-K, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, and Grades 7-12. I used the one for Grades 4-6 most frequently.
• Life Skills Activities for Special Needs Children, by Darlene  Mannix. Part IV – Getting Along with Others has great activities to help special needs youth navigate in the “normal” world.
• ”The 411 on Disability Disclosure” – available online at www.ncwd-youth.info. It’s a great (free) resource for young adults in High School and beyond, providing info for their rights as an adult and how to use them in the workplace.

Anti-Bullying Resources for Special Needs

• Bully Free World – Secial Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit

If you have any questions or comments regarding Janie’s strategies, please let us know. Our last post will introduce you to the overall approach of anti-bullying at an alternative high school. This article will summarize the thoughts and activities of MSW therapist, Gina Sineni.

Posted by Lindsey Elton and Janie Quinn, abcteach Team

In support of Anti-Bullying Awareness Month, abcteach and Early Childhood News and Resources have collaborated to bring you insights from teachers, parents, and a social worker, to aid in your anti-bullying efforts. Our first blog covered the elementary classroom, discussing activities that lay the groundwork for healthy behavior and safe learning environments.

Our next article – “Can parents raise their kids NOT to bully?” – comes from Shara Lawrence-Weiss: mom, educator, and owner of Early Childhood News and Resources. Shara relays her personal experiences being bullied, the ways her parents proactively addressed bullying behavior, and how the lessons she was taught have been passed on, without direct intention, to her own children.

Shara’s Story
Below is a peek into Shara’s story. We invite you to view the full article on her site and, if so moved, encourage you to share your own experience.

When I was a kid, the term “bullying” wasn’t used all that much. We heard terms like “playground bully,” “mean kid,” or “angry kid,” but it wasn’t the epidemic it seems to be now. I attended private school from grades 6-8 in Oregon. I remember being called “Four Eyes” in primary school and “Wall” in Jr. High (meaning I was flat-chested). It got worse for me in High School…

My Parents’ Advice:

    • • We were a faith-based home and my parents often talked about our responsibility to love others.
    • • As a family, we gathered gifts for the poor year-round: single moms, single dads, seniors, children, veterans, kids of prisoners, and others. My parents taught us that no matter how little we had, we always had more than someone else. So we could always give. No matter what.
    • • My parents told us that two wrongs never make a right.
    • • More tips continued on blog…

 

My Teenage Son’s Life Lessons: (when asked what I’ve taught him)

    • • How to count
    • • How to be nice
    • • How to use a toilet
    • • To be generous
    • • To not bully…

 

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The last blog in our series walks into a special needs classroom and an alternative high school in suburban Chicago. We’ll share the personal directives given to LD children and their classmates, and the culture of a therapeutic learning environment.

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team; and Shara Lawrence-Weiss, Early Childhood News and Resources

Bullying: today’s figures range from 20-30% of 6th -12th grade students experiencing it daily at school. Bullying incidents harm the victim, the person bullying, and bystanders; can indicate abuse in the home; and result in detrimental long-term effects, including mental health issues, decreased academic performance, highly risky behaviors, crime, and violence.

Since 2006, October has been deemed Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. With this designation, the month is dedicated to addressing every dimension of the issue, along with giving teachers, parents, and administrators the tools to provide the safe and healthy environment to which their students are entitled. The following are national sites with resources relating to anti-bullying:

• StopBullying.gov
• PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center
• Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
• Ambassadors 4 Kids

This blog is a collaboration between abcteach and Early Childhood News and Resources, and is the first in a three-part series. The following examples are by no means exhaustive, but are here to provide substance and peace of mind during your anti-bullying efforts. With the perspectives of a teacher, a parent, and a social worker, our aim throughout this series is to empower you with diverse-scenario examples that address bullying, ultimately in the name of preventing it.

Elementary Classrooms
The following activities were provided by retired elementary teacher and abcteach staff member, Nancy Elton. Her focus, and that of her school, was not on combatting bullying, but on laying the groundwork for healthy behavior and appreciating and accepting diversity.

Peace Circle – This was done every Monday morning with K-3rd classes. Each class would meet in the gym and form one or two large circles. The staff and/or the principal made announcements to recognize successes from the past week or for the one coming up. Parents and/or grandparents were always welcome, and would sometimes speak about a group they led or activity they participated in. (Parental involvement was heavily encouraged and practiced at our school.) At the end of the meeting, a staff member who played the piano would start the intro to “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Everyone would then hold hands (some not so willingly) and sing the song. Afterwards, we’d quietly walk back to our rooms and begin our week. Some years we even had children sign the song.

The peace circle was a wonderful way to begin the school week by setting a positive tone. It was an opportunity to let all shine with uplifting messages and recognition of all types of success.

Where Do you Live – This activity began with each child receiving a piece of paper, while I did the activity on the overhead. Starting in the middle of the page, we would all draw a small stick figure of ourselves inside of a house. We’d then drawn a circle around it. The following circle layers were comprised of our address, then city, county, state, country, continent, planet, etc., culminating with the last circle as the universe. The essence of the lesson was to teach how, although we have different families and street names, overall, we’re very similar and a part of the same world.

Map It – Another similar exercise would be to take a county map and identify each student’s home. Find out where each person lives, where the teacher lives (which they always got a kick out of); you can even coordinate this activity with graphing skills and tallies. I would make this part of a larger unit, combining math, social studies, reading, etc., and encourage parent participation with ethnic customs, food, or family traditions. It demonstrated how unique and special we are as a country and as a school.

Along with this activity, we would also watch “The Great American Melting Pot” and read Coming to America, discussing how different each country’s experience was, and the difficulties that each had to endure.

Lunch with the Teacher – Throughout the year, a time was set aside to share lunch with my students. Two or three names were drawn at random and we would get together and eat in a quiet area, i.e. classroom, library, or conference room. Kids got to know me as more than an authority and they also got to know each other in a setting that was safe from possible critique. It eased their comfort level so they could talk with me about problems other than scholastic ones.

Books
These books were effective because of their messages and stories, but also because the characters were similar in age to the students.

Trumpet of the Swan – The basic premise of this book was that everyone is unique and has his/her own struggles. I’d ask the students questions: what do you think it felt like for Louis not to be able to speak to his family and friends? How frustrating would it be, even after discovering his own talents and a means to relate, to still be different from his community? We read the book as a class, relating students’ own feelings to Louis and Sam’s journey.

The Story of Ruby Bridges – The main character, Ruby Bridges, was the first black child in a white elementary school. It was extremely powerful in showing the difficulties she encountered just being her, let alone being in school. The age similarity also struck home because students could envision taking those first steps into the school with her.

Pink and Say – This is a civil war book about two young boys, one black, Pink, and one white, Say, who met on the battlefield. Say is wounded and taken in by Pink’s family, who nurses him back to health. The story delves into race relations, what was happening in the country at that time, the feelings of each character, etc.

At our school, we, as teachers, did not ask how we could prevent bullying. Our objective was to develop empathy, acceptance, and the appropriate way to address feelings. We also covered topics like personal space and touching. As a whole, these helped reinforce their concept of respect for self and for others. It also offered a sense of security knowing that they could talk to us, or any adult, about what they were feeling or experiencing.

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Our next blog comes from Shara Lawrence-Weiss: mom, educator, and owner of Early Childhood News and Resources. Shara shares her personal story, parenting insights, and tips on how to address/better prepare children to deal with bullying.

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Fall, fall, glorious fall. If it’s not obvious, I can’t deny that our present season is a personal favorite. The smell in the air, leaves changing, cool autumn nights… just writing it makes me smile. And let us not forget the cider mill donuts (and football!) on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Autumn also offers plenty of opportunities to blend seasonal excitement into your lesson plans. The following categories are a mixture of holidays, observances, and other topics and themes to help create festive theme units in no time at all.

Common Core Standards New!

English Language Arts (ELA)
ELA – Grade 1
ELA – Grade 2
ELA – Grade 3

 

 

Math
Math – Grade 3
Math – Grade 4
Math – Grade 5


Audio and Video More Videos Added!

Math Videos
Science Videos
ASL Videos
PPTs with Audio


Seasonal

Fall
Halloween
Hispanic Heritage Month
Italian Heritage Month
Fire Safety Month


Sports

Physical Education
Football
Soccer
Field Hockey


Theme Units

Apples
Pumpkins
Safety
Scarecrows

We wish you and your students all the best during this harvest season. If you have a new or fun activity going on, please let us know. We love sharing your classroom success stories!

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

That’s right: free memberships for all undergraduate education majors and their professors. With college tuition soaring, we could not be more proud to provide this to our collegiate community.

abcteach’s University Partnership Program is designed to promote education and support future educators through their studies, and into their new classrooms. Education undergraduates have unlimited access to interactive activities, theme units, worksheets, and more, providing tangible materials to teach the concepts that they’re learning now in class.

As for professors, many use our site to enhance their teaching methods, for reading materials, and math supplements. Along with supervising university professors, they also find the flexibility and customization of our abctools to be a huge asset for student projects and lesson plan creation.

University Partnership Program Highlights

• The program is totally free for undergraduate education students and professors (including Special Education and Early Childhood Development).
• Unlimited access to the abcteach member site: 45,000+ materials; abctools® custom worksheet generators; a massive educational clip art/photo collection; whiteboard interactives and PPTs; specialized sections; and a growing video library.
• Both students and professors can enroll their college in the program.
• All colleges and universities can apply!

“I think it is wonderful that such a great website for teachers is willing to give the student teacher a free membership. abcteach.com is the best resource that I have found since beginning my education program! Thank you.”
Tess, Special Education Major

“I have found this site to be an invaluable asset to my own work as well as that of our BYU students. Thanks so much for including our university in this fantastic program.”
Teri, BYU Professor

With abcteach, students are better armed to handle student teaching and better prepared to succeed as full-time teachers. For more details or an enrollment application, please contact University Partnership Coordinator, Sheryl Schreefel, at sheryl@abcteach.com.

We thoroughly enjoy our ability to “give back to education” in the abcteach way. If you have a student or professor who you think would benefit from this program, please help us share the word.

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team


National Homeschool Month is a great time for families to celebrate the unique and wonderful adventure that is homeschool. My husband and I have educated our two sons for the past ten years. It has been challenging at times, but the rewards have been much greater than we expected. This new school year will be our last one, since our youngest son is now a senior. It is a bittersweet time, knowing that this particular adventure will soon come to an end; but it is so rewarding to look back on the great memories and accomplishments.

As I prepared to write this blog, I asked each of my sons what they loved best about homeschool. I was not surprised that their first answers were the same: “Not having to get up at the crack of dawn!” We are all night owls at our house, so it has been great to set our own schedule. In fact, my sons named several favorite activities that were made possible by the flexibility that homeschool has provided. When the boys were younger, we attended homeschool group swimming and skating at hours when other children were in school. We could go out for lunch, take a break to enjoy good weather, or attend special events. Our favorite treat has always been to attend the first showing of a new movie on opening day. As teenagers, my sons have been able to attend midnight releases of their favorite video games and movies, without fear of being sleep deprived for a test the next day. I remember many school day outings when my young sons encountered adults who asked why they were not in school. My sons always answered boldly and proudly, “We’re homeschooled!”

Flexibility was not limited to our schedule. It allowed both boys to study and learn at their own paces. They could stay on a subject until they reached mastery, then move on quickly without boring repetition. My oldest son said that he enjoyed the flexibility of studying topics of special interest to him. His fascination with computers dominated his homeschool activities. He used the Internet to learn about computer hardware, basic electronics, and some programming languages. As a junior, he built his own gaming computer from scratch. In college, he has studied computer networking and is now moving into robotics. My youngest son has had the flexibility to pursue several interests, including medieval armor and weaponry, and auto mechanics. He has an impressive collection of reproduction armor and swords. Currently, he and his dad are restoring a classic car.

As for my husband and I, we are most grateful for the time that homeschool has given us with our sons. We have grown very close as a family and still enjoy spending time together. The experiences we have had together are priceless. Of course, there have been doubts and concerns along the way. I am sure that many homeschool families have them. However, it is wonderful to come near the end of this adventure and feel confident that it has been a great success. I want to encourage all homeschool families, especially the young ones, to work past the difficult times and embrace the good ones. Educating your children at home does not last forever, so enjoy it will you can. It is definitely an adventure worth taking!

Posted by Carol Welch – Homeschool Mom, abcteach Team

By Shara Lawrence-Weiss, Mommy Perks

What mom doesn’t need to recharge, eh? Whether you have one child at home, or six, kids can push our energy buttons to the OFF mode in no time flat. I have four children ages 13, 5, 3 and 4 months. When I had just one kiddo, I devoted my time and attention to his education, play groups, schedule, diet, craft time, music time, outdoor time, social emotional development and more. With four kids, some things have gotten easier (because I’ve learned over the years to streamline various teachings) while other things have gotten harder (finding time to relax and de-stress).

I recently came across this article: How to prevent stress from shrinking your brain. I found it helpful to know that there are ways to combat stress; some of which I already do.

Here are ten ways I attempt to de-stress and recharge in between the diapers and teen tantrums:

Go for a Drive

Getting out of the house and away from the routine can help. I enjoy driving and find that it can help to relax me. It helps that we live in a small town where the drivers are polite! Even when I lived in the city I would go for drives along quiet country roads in order to de-stress.

Music

I find that music is a key de-stressor for me. I sing, dance around with the kids (or the baby in my arms) or I put music on in the background while I work. I’ve read studies that show just how effective music can be for boosting your mood and lifting depression (given that you listen to uplifting music, that is). Classical music can do wonders for your brain! Here’s a quick article highlighting the many benefits of listening to music.

Vitamins

Taking vitamins can help to boost my energy and keep me going. Just as the article mentioned above (from Psychology Today) – fatty acids can help to block stress! This is good news – it’s easy and inexpensive.

Reading

Reading relaxes me, especially if I read something proactive and useful that can be applied to my life or work.

Reflecting

Reflecting on our lives is a key factor in future success, in my opinion. If we reflect on what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what we could do better and what our lessons have taught us, we are being proactive about our choices. Making good choices leads to better and better choices… and in return, a better/happier life.

Journaling

When I feel as though I can’t control what’s going on around me, I write it down. I write down my anger and fears and frustrations. No one else needs to see it but it sure can help me GET IT OUT!

Television

I’m not a big TV watcher but now and again I allow myself to zone out. I find a movie or show that’s witty or funny or silly and I let my brain shut off in order to think about… nothing at all.

Walks

Exercise is a well documented and scientifically proven de-stressor. Humans need fresh air and exercise and it does our brains/bodies good. I enjoy going outside for walks around the forest or in our little town.

Vent to a Friend

I have a few select friends that I trust with my private thoughts, ideas and frustrations. My husband is #1 on my list and I have about four friends in addition that I trust to listen, empathize and give me active ideas for coping strategies.

Prayer

As a person of faith, prayer is always a part of my life. When busy and rushed I have to remind myself to slow down, stop and pray. Not just when things are rough but also when things are going well. Giving thanks and having a grateful heart are simple ways to live a contented life and those who are content are, of course, happier!

Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy PerksPersonal Child StoriesKids PerksEarly Childhood News and Resources and Pine Media. She is the mother of four and the wife of one. Shara has a background in education, early childhood, freelance, marketing, special needs, nanny work, and business ownership. She’s secretary of her town charity group and a Board member of her local library. Shara and her husband run children’s events for their small-town fundraisers and in their spare time, mentor various teenagers in the community.

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