12 Ways to be Flexible During Your Homeschool Day

If you’re a student who is learning at home, congratulations! There are so many ways you can benefit from the flexibility that home learning allows. Here are a few possibilities. Can you think of any others?

  1. Follow your body’s rhythms. Go to bed when it feels right, then wake up when your body is done resting. If you need a mid-day nap, go ahead and take one.
  2. Wear whatever you like. Stay in your pajamas all day if you want! There are no dress codes when you’re learning at home.

    Photo Credit: Kim Bessent (Oak Meadow Archives)
    Photo Credit: Kim Bessent
    (Oak Meadow Archives)
  3. Get comfortable! Choose any room in the house or a nice spot outdoors. Put your feet up if you want to. Find a quiet spot without distractions. You know your needs best.
  4. Organize your day as it makes sense to you. If you are sharpest in the morning, concentrate on academics at that time of day. If you’re a night owl, save your work for when you feel most alert.
  5. Set your own pace. Skim over topics you already have experience with, and spend as much time as you need on topics that are challenging or unfamiliar. If you get excited about something, dig deep and enjoy! Take your time when that feels right. You are the captain of this ship.
  6. Get up and move around! If you’ve been sitting and focusing on academics for awhile and you start feeling antsy, put down your work and go outside for some fresh air and exercise.

    Photo Credit: The Allen Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
    Photo Credit: The Allen Family
    (Oak Meadow Archives)
  7. Eat when you are hungry. Put off breakfast if you want to. No need to wait for lunchtime to roll around if you get hungry sooner than that. Snack at will. Listen to your body!
  8. Make the most of your energy highs and lows. Optimize your productivity by working hard when your energy level is high and giving yourself a break when you need to take it easy. There’s no external schedule to follow, so you can mold your work flow to your needs.
  9. Enjoy a change of scenery. You have the freedom to take your work anywhere you go! Take advantage of the opportunity to travel and explore. Even if you stick close to home, you can get out and work in the library or a cafe or a beautiful park.
  10. Visit popular spots when crowds are smallest. Weekends and afterschool hours are notoriously busy for libraries, museums, historical sites, and other attractions. Show up on a Monday morning and you may just have the place to yourself.

    Photo Credit: Wendy Hawkins (Oak Meadow Archives)
    Photo Credit: Wendy Hawkins
    (Oak Meadow Archives)
  11. Integrate life with learning. Balance your academic work with the other kinds of work that are important – housework, animal care, community service, volunteer work, and/or a paid job if you have one. Your role in your family and community are just as important as your role as a student.
  12. Relax! There’s no hurry to go anywhere. Put your feet up and enjoy the peace and quiet while you learn at your own pace and in your own way.

An Oak Meadow Homeroom!

If you are enrolled in the Oak Meadow 7th or 8th grade and you have an Oak Meadow email address,  you can join the Oak Meadow Homeroom Group.

A “homeroom” is a place where students in schools gather together before school starts to share ideas, have conversations about the day or a specific subject, and basically check in with each other.  Since at Oak Meadow we don’t have an actual place for middle school students to gather, and our students all over the world are waking up at different times and studying at different times, that makes it a challenge to gather together. Still, the teachers really wanted to form a group that might serve the same purpose even without an actual room. Thanks to the internet, we can do this!

If you’ve received your Oak Meadow email address, you’ve noticed that you can share emails with other students in the group. One conversation is about where they live and why they are homeschooled. One is enjoying talking about their pets. Another conversation has been suggesting good books they’ve read. These are books they’ve been reading for pure pleasure. I’ve posted the titles here so that you might try some of their favorites.

Thanks so much to all for your contributions of good books and if you haven’t joined the Homeroom yet, give it a try! It’s fun!

These are their favorite books so far. They’re not in any special order:

Series they like:

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Books they like:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

 

The Arrival of Fall (From the Archive)

by Lawrence Williams, EdD
excerpted from Living Education (October 1981) 

As the Fall of the year arrives, we experience once again the familiar contraction of Mother Nature, reminding us that all things must pass, and even the beautiful expansiveness of Summer must recede to allow Winter to work its magic.

Children often experience this contraction as a desire to focus their energies, after a long summer of either relaxation or unharnessed exuberance. For those who have been homeschooling for a while, the seasonal extremes are usually not as pronounced. However, for those exploring home study for the first time, the Fall can be a time of difficult adjustments to a new situation.

Often our instinct is to establish firm schedules of “schoolwork” within the home, as a natural response to the seasonal contraction which we feel. However, though it is true that children seem to appreciate more of a focus at this time of year, we should look for ways to integrate this focus as naturally and warmly as possible, to avoid the inevitable reactions that arise from trying to maintain a strict form.

Use this time to seek a deeper understanding of your children’s changing needs — this understanding will be a tremendous asset as you progress through the course of the year.

____________________________________________________________

This article first appeared in its original form in Living Education: The Monthly Journal of Oak Meadow School in October 1981. The early incarnation of Living Ed (as we fondly refer to it) provided a then-rare space for homeschooling parents and Oak Meadow staff to explore and share their thoughts about learning, parenting, and related topics.

What do you think of Oak Meadow founder Lawrence Williams’ thoughts in this article from years past? Do you agree with his recommendations? How do you approach the transition to Fall in your own family’s homeschooling rhythm?

As parents and educators, reading others’ thoughts, asking challenging questions, and considering new ideas will open up different opportunities for ourselves and our children. Our ideas continue to evolve as we move along our journey. How have your own thoughts grown and changed since your homeschooling adventure began?

Plagiarism

I received this well written essay on plagiarism from one of my students. I asked her if I could share it on the Middle of the Meadow blog so that other students could read it. I’m so glad she gave me permission! I think you will be impressed with her clear and complete understanding of plagiarism.images-3

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work and saying that it is your own. The University of North Carolina, says this about plagiarism: “The deliberate or reckless representation of another’s words, thoughts, or ideas as one’s own without attribution in connection with submission of academic work, whether graded or otherwise.” http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/plagiarism/

Plagiarism is just copying someone else’s words and pasting them onto your paper. When you do this, you are not really learning anything and it is a bad thing to start doing. When you write a paper, you should show that you know what you have read and write about YOUR analysis in the paper. Once you’re done, you should refer to the sources where you got your ideas from. You do this to show your reader that you have learned and know what your writing and talking about.

People plagiarize because they might be too lazy to do it themselves or they might think that people might not be able to understand them. When you don’t understand something, you should ask your parents or your teacher to help you on your report or your paper. Your teacher or parents should always be willing to help you.cheating

You should stop plagiarizing before you get to high school because if you plagiarize in high school, you will most likely fail on your paper if your teacher finds out you plagiarized. They even have plagiarism software and computer websites that can automatically find out if something has been plagiarized or not.

An example of plagiarism today is from Shia LaBeouf. Shia LaBeouf is an actor who decided to make a short movie. However, when people watched it, they noticed that LaBeouf made his movie extremely similar to Danial Clowes’ comic, Justin M. Damiano. Some of the movie script was word-for-word exactly the same as the comic book! Shia LaBeouf later apologized to everyone and to especially Daniel Clowes. He Tweeted:

“Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work,” he tweeted. “In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation … I’m embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration … I was truly moved by his piece of work & I knew  that it would make a poignant & relevant short. I apologize to all who assumed I wrote it. I deeply regret the manner in which these events have unfolded and want @danielclowes to know that I have a great respect for his work.” http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/shia-labeouf-plagiarism-ew/

Plagiarism is a horrible thing to be caught up in. You can get bad grades and a bad reputation from it. It is better to write even a short essay in your own words than to plagiarize somebody else’s work. I plagiarized once and had to write my paper all over again! It was not fun. I hope you will learn from my mistake and not plagiarize, because it is not worth it.

My Journey with Oak Meadow

by Lucy Enge, Oak Meadow high school student

Photo Credit: Chris Enge (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Chris Enge
(Oak Meadow Archives)

My journey with Oak Meadow began in the fall when I was almost six. My parents had decided to homeschool me (for kindergarten) using Oak Meadow’s curriculum; they liked the Waldorf influence. And we continued our journey with OM homeschooling through the eighth grade! It has been ten years now, I am almost sixteen, and I am about to start my second year enrolled in Oak Meadow’s high school program as a tenth grader.

During my eighth grade year, when my parents and I were deciding about what to do for high school, we knew that I (and my mom, too) loved homeschooling. However, as my mom had worked in college admission for years, she thought it was important for me to look at and consider all of my options before deciding what to do for high school, in hopes that I would avoid second guessing my choice later.

Photo Credit: Ruby Enge (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Ruby Enge
(Oak Meadow Archives)

So, we created a list of the possibilities: homeschooling (using OM independently), enrollment in OM’s distance learning school, two magnet schools, a parochial high school, and two nationally acclaimed private schools. My mom wanted me to see it all! Then, we explored each option/school further. We researched online, attended some open houses, took tours, and participated in shadow days.

Separately, my mom, my dad, and I created a list of pros and cons for each option/school. My parents did not share their lists with me as we looked so that my final decision was truly mine. But, they certainly did listen to all I said about each option as I sorted things out in my mind! Finally, after hours and hours of “work,” I narrowed it down to three: homeschooling, enrolling in OM, and the parochial high school. After another shadow day, I eliminated the parochial high school.

Photo Credit: Lucy Enge (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Lucy Enge
(Oak Meadow Archives)

We discussed continuing to homeschool as we had since kindergarten, but, after a lot of talking together, we decided that enrolling in Oak Meadow would be the best for me and my high school journey. It would require me to be accountable to other teachers (outside of my mom), provide me with a rigorous curriculum and an accredited transcript, and also give me a flexible schedule and the freedom that homeschooling had allowed me in the past – the perfect bridge (for me) between homeschooling grade school and attending college.

And so I enrolled! Starting with our first conversation with Rachel, my education counselor, we were warmly welcomed to Oak Meadow and well guided in what courses to enroll in. For my ninth grade year, I took Algebra I, Environmental Science, French I, Introduction to Literature and Composition, and World Geography. Once I began my courses, I felt myself being positively challenged, enjoying everything (well, except, rewriting an essay, but from that, I know I became a better writer), and truly flourishing!

Photo Credit: Julia West (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Julia West
(Oak Meadow Archives)

My teachers, Antony, Jacquelyn, Julia, Lydia, and Marnie (I love you all!), are amazing and are everything I (and my parents!) wished for and more. They have pushed, encouraged, and inspired me. Whenever I have a question, they are happy to answer and do so timely, and their comments on my lessons are constructive and helpful.

With their assistance, I have also created projects for myself that let me explore a particular topic that relates to the material that I am studying: I have written poetry; painted watercolors; read books; cooked meals from Peruvian cuisine, to a Jewish Shabbat dinner, to vegetarian sushi; made a Malaysian kite; studied children’s literature; and watched many documentaries. Truly, I could not have imagined a better first year of high school!

Photo Credit: Ruby Enge (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Ruby Enge
(Oak Meadow Archives)

When I look back at myself a year ago (before ninth grade) and at my early ninth grade work, I see that I have come a long way. I am more confident and poised, I know myself (my values and my beliefs) more clearly, I am a much stronger writer, and I have gained a lot of new knowledge. Oak Meadow is not for everyone – it is hard, in a good way, and you have to want to learn and be an active part of your education! – but it certainly has been right for me. I love Oak Meadow and could not be happier with my high school choice! 

____________________________

Lucy Enge lives in a small Connecticut river town with her family. Her interests include (in no particular order) reading; classical music; baking/cooking; old television shows; poetry; walking/hiking/biking; sewing/knitting; watercolor painting; (almost) all things Peruvian, British, and French; and traveling. She also enjoys living simply; eating local, organic food; and going to charity shops and estate sales.

From the Archives: Guidelines for Home Teachers

Last week’s K-4 blog focused on “Helping Your Children to Express Inner Potential”. Oak Meadow founders, Bonnie and Lawrence Williams, believe that, in order to manifest a child’s education successfully, certain guidelines must be followed. Here are detailed guidelines for helping in the teaching process:

Clear a physical as well as psychological space: There should exist a particular spot where the student does work. It should be well stocked with supplies: main lesson book, additional paper for first drafts, crayons, pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, highlighters, folders, notebooks, etc. In addition, it should be organized in some designated way so that order may be restored at the end of the learning period. Most importantly, it should be a pleasant place to be and one that is well lighted, with maybe an appropriate poster on the wall. There should be a comfortable chair with back support; however, chairs that encourage lounging are to be avoided.

A time must be set aside so the student knows not to plan other activities for that period of time. It does not work well to choose the time on a daily basis. The brain needs a rhythm and will come to a focus more easily as the lesson time approaches if it is a consistent time each day.

When a physical as well as psychological space have been cleared for schoolwork, half the battle with the undisciplined mind has been won.

Focus: If a student is having difficulty with focusing attention or understanding, the home teacher should sit beside the student and act as the “grounding agent” to bring the student to a point of focus. Ungrounded students must slowly be drawn into their lessons. For example, in grade 4 (and higher), a new sense of independence is encouraged in the coursework. However, this does not mean the student does everything independently. At the beginning of a new lesson, the home teacher should ask the student to read a paragraph, then ask the student to share the main idea of the paragraph. Highlight the word or words which are the main idea. Proceed to the next paragraph repeating the process. At the end of each page, the student should read back all the material that has been highlighted. Then putting paper or books aside, the home teacher should ask the student what was just read.

It may be slow and tedious at first, but as the brain stretches, the student will pick up speed. Always emphasize quality understanding over quantity of work done. Perhaps the student only does a fraction of the assignments while learning how to focus and organize the brainwork, which is fine. Accept this and praise the student for the fine progress. The only requirement is that you witness sincere progress.

How long each day should a home teacher focus with a student? At least one hour a day should be set aside for this kind of focused attention. The home teacher should not be in and out, but rather seated with the student for the whole hour without interruptions. Perhaps the home teacher may cover social studies and language arts three days a week and science two days a week in this manner for half an hour each day; and math for half an hour every day. Then the student should be left alone for another hour every day to do the assignment that can reasonably be done independently. This time should be eventually lengthened to three hours a day for a total amount of time spent on school work, with two of the hours being independent learning. More than that would be discouraging for the student who needs lots of time for physical activities.

When learning is difficult and a student is asked to spend more than three hours struggling through without help, it leads to burn out and the student shuts down altogether. Balance is very important. After each hour, the student should get up and do something physical. If the student has low blood sugar, offer at least one snack during the three hour period. The most important consideration is the rhythm of the schedule. The student should not be allowed to get up and go outside and get involved and forget the schoolwork. It should be more like a fifteen minute recess with an expectation that the work will be continued until the work for the day is completed, even if it is short of the assignment in the curriculum. (If enrolled in the school, Oak Meadow teachers are always willing to work with a student who needs a reduced load.)

Caring: Children need to feel that somebody cares about their work each day. The home teacher should read over the work and discuss it with the student. Praise and celebration for victories won are very important for all students, but especially the unfocused student. They need constant reminders that they are progressing and doing well. It is important to remind students where they have come from and how much they are accomplishing.

Accept your student with the present abilities: Do not present material the student is not ready for. Pressure creates negative stress and causes the mind to shut down. Begin with a review of material the student already knows, to get the mind moving and flowing. Then present the new material.

Remedial Students: If your student needs remedial work, choose one thing at a time to work on. For example, when working with reading comprehension and writing, do not be concerned about grammar initially. Then when the student is comfortable with the daily process, add grammar. Work with one grammar rule at a time. Start with each sentence beginning with a capital letter and ending with a punctuation mark. Proceed to capitalization rules, then punctuation, expanding sentences with adjectives and adverbs, then conjunctions, etc. If a student is a poor speller, present five words a week from the Dolch list. Also provide many ways to learn these words. Focus is the key to success.

Physical Activity: Emphasize the importance of daily physical activities to help the integration process. The martial arts are a wonderful tool for integration, as are walking and dance. Studies indicate that academic performance improves with daily vigorous physical activity. Discourage TV watching during the day.

Learning Styles: Become aware of your student’s learning style. Some people learn auditorily, others visually, and some are bodily kinesthetic learners. The best teachers use all three modes of teaching.

If your student is a visual learner, drawing pictures or diagrams will help to remember information. If your student learns best through hearing the information explained, share an hour each day with your student and explain the material being covered. Make up songs and jingles to remember key points. Some students learn best by teaching it to somebody else. Be a willing student and let your student teach you the material. Skits are great for learning.

Purchase a lap-size white board with marker (fruit flavored without the toxic fumes) so your student can draw, diagram, write jingles, and teach. Use it daily and you will be amazed at its effectiveness as a teaching tool.

I hope these guidelines will be helpful in making your home schooling adventure a very successful one. Wishing you all the best for an exciting year of learning!

New MLA Guidelines for Citing Sources

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework. ~Lily Tomlin as “Edith Ann”

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. ~Kahlil Gibran

I’ve taken these quotes from The Quote Garden that I love using to find good quotes for a piece I may be writing. I would cite it like this:

Guillemets, Terri. “Quotations About Teachers.” The Quote Garden. www.quotegarden.com/teachers.html

When writing a research report or an essay, it’s important that you know the rules and guidelines for writing a bibliography, using images, or using quotations from research sources. Oak Meadow students are asked to use the MLA style of creating and formatting citations. There are new guidelines this year! The goal of the new MLA citation guidelines is to make things easier to read and write, and more consistent, regardless of medium. Hooray!

Quick Guide to MLA Citations 2016

MLA released its 8th edition in 2016, unveiling simplified citation guidelines. Let the rejoicing begin! The following information has been updated to reflect these new guidelines, which aim for a more universal, consistent format regardless of the source medium. Most notable are the following changes:

  • No longer include the city of publication for print publishers.
  • No longer include the medium (print, web, film, etc.).
  • Include URL in website citations.
  • No longer include n.d. (no date) if website/article date is unknown .
  • Date accessed by you is optional for website citations.
  • Make entries as consistent as possible in terms of information and punctuation.

Feel free to continue to use the previous MLA style as long as you’d like–it’s still correct. The new style is more streamlined and hopefully will be easier to learn, use, and read. For those who want all the details, read this.

MLA Guidelines for Citing Sources (updated 2016):

For print sources, include the following:

Author last name, first name. Title. Publishing company, year.

Here is an example:

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island. Dover, 1993.

When citing online sources, use this format:

Author last name, first name (if known). “Title of article.” Website. Organization,

publication date (if known). URL (without http://, brackets, or ending punctuation)

Here is an example:

Bradbury, Lorna. “25 Classic Novels for Teenagers.” Telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph, 5 April 2012. www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/9189047/25-classic-novels-for-teenagers.html

Website dates are given in this format: day month year. Longer months are abbreviated: Jan, Nov. You can delete the http// from the URL.

When citing an online video clip (such as YouTube):

Author last name, first name (if known). “Title of article.” Website. Organization, publication date. URL

Here is an example:

Schlickenmeyer, Max. “The Most Astounding Fact—Neil deGrasse Tyson.” YouTube. YouTube, 2 Mar. 2012. www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU

When citing a film, here is the format:

Film Title. Dir. First name Last name. Perf. First name Last name. Distributor, year of release.

Note: Dir. stands for director, and Perf. stands for performers. You can list as many or few performers as you like.

Here’s an example:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Dir. Chris Columbus. Perf. Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltraine and Tom Felton. Warner Brothers, 2001.

For most purposes a simple citation that includes the creator’s name (if you can find it) and/or the original source is enough. If you found the image on the web, try to provide a link back to the source.

When in doubt, visit the MLA Citation Guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Your Children to Express Inner Potential

As you begin to help your children learn throughout the new school year, it is important to take a moment to reflect upon what it is you, as the home teacher, are providing for them. At the most basic level in grades kindergarten through fourth grade, you are helping your children with the learning process in the areas of language arts, mathematics, social studies and science, as well as the creative arts and health. As we all know, helping them learn these subjects well is very important. However, if you wish to make the most of this school year, you need to recognize that you are doing more than just helping your children become knowledgable in these areas. At a deeper level, you are helping them express their inner potential. The above mentioned subjects are just the focal points you will use in the process.

What do I mean by “expressing one’s inner potential”? I am referring to how we take what is inside – what is not visible – and express it outside of ourselves, so that the whole world can see it. This process of transforming the inner into the outer is called manifestation.

Oak Meadow founders, Bonnie and Lawrence Williams, believe that, in order to manifest our children’s education successfully, certain steps must be followed.

You need to have clear intention with your process and your goals.
You need to clear a space for learning.
You need to assess your progress daily and make adjustments.

Next week, I will share more of Oak Meadow’s detailed guidelines for helping in the teaching process. Until then, I wish you all the best for an exciting year of learning!

Tips for the new school year!

images-1

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.”
Taylor Swift

It’s a new school year for some of my students and I was thinking about some tips to pass on about beginning a new grade. Here are some of my thoughts!

  • Think about last year: Reviewing the past year helps a lot! Take a look at last year’s lesson work to help you see the progress that was made from beginning to end. It’s fun to review and note the exciting lessons, the challenging ones, and the favorite activities. Where were you most challenged and what did you love?
  • Try using new stuff: Going over the materials used last year, cleaning out items not used any more, and making a list of new items needed helps to prepare you for the new year. If you can afford new pens and pencils, that’s great for starters! What materials are needed in the new curriculum you are using? Get a new space ready. Create a new workspace, clean off your desk, and organize your stuff. Try using a calendar or a planner for scheduling yourself.
  • Think of some goals for the new year: Looking at goals for the next school year is helpful. Maybe you want to become more independent in some areas? When will you need help or family support?
  • Make a display space: Let the work shine by showing it off! Find a place to display a certain page or project that was completed!

I hope these simple tips are helpful. Enjoy your new school year!