Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Upcoming Review: Accelerated Education Curriculum

"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."
Albert Einstein 

One problem I have had in homeschooling is that so far in my five or so year journey, I always seem to have to reinvent the wheel.

On one hand it has been because I have always had very little money to work with and therefore instead of buying a curriculum, I would just make my own.

On the other hand, and the far more prominent reason I always found myself "reinventing the wheel" and making my own curriculum, was because I could never find anything that was suited to my and Hunter's wants / needs. Usually just because I thought all the stuff that was intended for the "early years" was too boring / slow so I would have to [want to] take more advanced things and simplify them for Hunter's comprehension level.

But the longer I have homeschooled, the more I have felt the pull of the simplicity of a pre-bought curriculum. Not for every subject level necessarily, but at least for some things, to have it all already planned out for you would be really nice.

Math was one of those things. I knew how horribly the traditional American education model generally fails in math education. And I also knew that even most of the best private curriculums were still based off of that failing system, at least in essence if not always in exact content.

They were too slow. Does it really take six or seven years (pre-k through grade 5 or more) to just teach basic arithmetic? (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) And what was more, you would think that after spending so much time on a subject, it would be thoroughly mastered, right? But we all know that that is not the story here.

Is math really that hard? Is it really that complicated?

I knew it wasn't, but designing my own accelerated curriculum baffled me. I have tried, and Hunter has learnt a great deal of mathematics using Doman as a jump start, but I created every schedule and sequence basically on my own and in so many areas have been lost with what do next. The thought of attempting this until high school overwhelmed me, to say the least.

That is until I found Jones Geniuses.

Jones Geniuses Accelerated Education is an accelerated curriculum developed by Dr. Miles Jones based on years of research and implementation first in the classroom and more recently in the home. The math program aims to help children learn mathematics four times faster than the traditional model and with greater accuracy and speed than most college-educated adults.

His main focus is math, but he also offers courses in speed reading, Spanish language learning, and memory training.

Dr. Jones has kindly offered to send me his first year early learning program, to try it out with both Hunter and my daycare kids. I'm very excited about what looks like an amazing program and an amazing company and look forward to sharing my experiences with you all very soon!

Update: read the full review of Math One here

Jones Geniuses Accelerated Education
"...Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them." 
Deuteronomy 5:1

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sunny-Side Up in the Water: Learning How to Float

Yay for back floating!

Surprisingly Hunter was unable to do this until recently. I have seen people teach little babies how to float on their backs as a life-saving technique if they were ever to fall in the water. I'm not sure how they did it though. Hunter was first introduced to back-floating in his brief YMCA swimming class when he was two. But for the life of me I have not been able to get him to do it until this summer.

He hated it!

He actually did this for the first time during our long Fourth of July weekend camping. We had been practicing a little bit most every time we swam, and he finally built up the confidence (and balance) to independently defy gravity (well, sort of).

I have now started a new technique.

Instead of helping him by lifting him up to his back and then gently releasing him to float, I have been, well, not helping him. I usually throw him in and have him flip over and kick up his legs himself. He even ends up getting a little water splashed in his face or moving waves sent his way while trying to stay relaxed. (I'm lovely, I know)

But in the end my playful antics have helped him become a better floater and, more importantly, he has learned to use this technique to rest and relax despite the circumstances. Because I think that, even more than a wonderful exercise in balance, full body control, and as a result of that - brain development - that it is good to be able to rest and stay calm while mid water. You know, just in case.

His current time floating: two minutes. It was originally thirty seconds at a time.

I hope to be able to work up to five minutes straight by the end of the summer. But either way, we'll see. We're just having fun and learning something in the process, as always.

"Now therefore be not grieved... for God did send me before you to preserve life." 
Genesis 45:5
Hunter is 5 years, 4 months old

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Periodic Table in Song, part one

We tend to make up a lot of songs to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".

I know. It's not all that original. But it's the memory part that counts, right?

This particular little jingle (starring the names and numbers of the periodic table of the elements) is one we made up a learned a long time ago (I'm guessing a year and a half or more) but have recently been revisiting.

We're singing along to the next ten elements now (sodium through calcium) and hoping to work our way through all 114 or so, ten at a time.

This has recently provoked an interest in what elements are and a fascination of the idea that "everything in the world is made out of these element" and, also, having the names come up other random places (such as oxygen and sodium) which provoke more learning.

It is nice how that works, isn't it? You learn something "by rote" but then, of course, you have that information in your brain. Which tends to pop up everywhere, like finding Van Gogh in bathroom art or seeing Texas in clouds. Or realizing that neon is the element that makes up those neat lights and helium is what makes those balloons float.

Connections. It's all about making connections. But you have to have the facts there in order to connect them.

And singing those facts? Well, that just makes it all the more fun. And I think that, perhaps, kindergartners really don't have a preference for one, two, buckle my shoe over hydrogen, helium, lithium.

Just sayin.
" the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat..." 
2 Peter 3:10
Hunter, in video, is 5 years, 3 months old 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Playing with the Properties of Light

"Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea." 
Job 36:30
Hunter is 5 years, 3 months old

Monday, July 12, 2010

Head First: Diving and Streamlining

Step 1: Position feet so they are flat on the wall, knees together, bottom near edge and hands together above head

Step 2: Lean forward and dive out (not down), attempting to get hands and head in water first (not belly, which is kind of what he did in this picture). Push off wall with feet.

Step 3: Keep straight and kick with flutter kick (kicking from the hips and keeping legs straight, in small, quick kicks, not kicking from knees)

Continue to kick straight forward as far as possible until needing to come up for air

Dive. Kick. Swim.

Nothing really new (except the fact that he has gotten much more graceful at it) as I did these exercises with him since that lovely fall of 2007 when we managed to get to the local YMCA's pool once a week or so. (Hunter, at the time, was two).

But in our new swimming journey (in which Hunter has made his way above the water and made the adventure a lot more exciting) diving and streamlining has suddenly begun to take a key role in refining his swimming technique and improving his form, endurance, and confidence.

The benefits I have suddenly realized from this activity:
  1. Helping him learn to keep his body straight and parallel with pool floor
  2. Helping him learn the flutter kick (which is hard for him, he always wants to kick from the knees) by isolating it and being in a relaxed position
  3. Improving his ability to hold his breath as he tries to get as far as he can before coming up for air

Convenient how these benefits perfectly line up with one of our big end-of-summer goals: learning the crawl stroke.

Which I only realized recently, what a nice activity this is. And so much more than learning how to dive.

Yay for those great realizations.

"Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness... make thy way straight before my face."
Psalm 5:8
Hunter is 5 years, 3 months old

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Physical Excellence: A Day's Hike in the Mountains

"Our hope is for them to be participants in life, not spectators. Our definition of Physical Excellence includes being able to solve any physical problem encountered during life. This may include saving one's own life, or saving someone else's. Physical Excellence should also help children expand their intellectual and social horizons. At The Institutes, our formula is: Physical Excellence = The Ideal Environment + Maximum Opportunity.
Glenn Doman

"LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong..." 
Psalm 30:7
Hunter is 5 years, 3 months old

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pet Stores and Encyclopedic Knowledge

Window shopping education. Who knew?

We have recently discovered the educational (and entertaining) joys of window shopping at Petsmart, a fun little venture that came about by us randomly wandering through the strip mall stores in town for lack of anything better to do and essentially, because it was fun.

We have been on little excursions to pet stores before. The last time I wrote about one was when we went to this little downtown shop, over two years ago. But although our previous pet-trecks have been great fun and also quite educational, our more recent visits to Petsmart have been all the more enlightening because of one simple thing: labeling.

See, Glenn Doman believed that, if at all possible, you should give your child the most exact, precise, and clear information you can. That means telling your child that "There is a pretty robin!" not just a "bird" (or even worse, "birdy" or "tweet tweet").

Even better than telling your your child there is a pretty robin would be to tell your child that "There is a pretty bird called an American Robin [its actual name] and the pretty bird's scientific name is Turdus migratorius!" If you have that information, of course.

They both take the exact same amount of time and effort. But as you can quite obviously see, they both don't have the exact same amount of impact or effect by far.

And while browsing through the awesome variety of reptiles, small mammals, arachnids and birds in the super store, we were delightfully enlightened by such precise, clear, discreet (and interesting) names as the veiled chameleon, the red-eared slider turtle, the rose-haired tarantula, the ball python, the bearded dragon lizard, the zebra finch, and the fancy green-cheeked conure, just to name a few.

What was equally delightful was that they not only had such wonderfully specific names below each creature's cage but also little bits and pieces such as its scientific name, its habitat, lifespan, species' characteristics and fun facts.

What a splendid (and free) way to not only enjoy the turtle munching lettuce or the mice flipping each other on the exercise wheel or the parrots having conversations but also to learn so much right then and there without any effort or researching on the parent's part.

All at just a stop at the mall.

"And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." 
Genesis 2:19
Hunter is 5 years, 3 months old

Friday, July 2, 2010

Babies Love Flashcards (Ro's First Maths)

Today, "Ro", my little crier, found comfort in something "most" adults would consider quite strange: math dots.

Now, granted, I have been around a lot of babies and a lot of little kids and it comes as no surprise to me that tiny tots love flashcards. Babies, especially, seem to have a special love affair with the math dots (quantity cards) which tend to produce smiles, laughs, and intense concentration and fascination.

But even Ro (nineteen months) surprised me today with his initial introduction to the math dots. Being my little crier (who doesn't appreciate being away from his mama) the quantity cards seemed to have an instant effect on him beginning with the usual peculiar yet fascinated focus, followed by smiles and then laughs. Typical response, really.

The surprising part? When I put them away, he started crying. When I got them back out and continued showing them to him, he would smile and giggle, and then burst with laughter and dancing each time I got to ten. Rewind and repeat fifteen times before I finally distracted him by showing him some presidents bits to look at on his own.

Yes, babies love flashcards. And Ro, well, he really loves them.

Babies Love Flashcards
"For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy..."
Ecclesiastes 2:26
"Ro", daycare child, is nineteen months old

Thursday, July 1, 2010


"And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion..."
1 Samuel 17:23
Hunter is 5 years, 3 months old