Thursday, September 16, 2010

day 243: more comprehension and study skills with text book previewing—helping our kids in their new subjects part iii of iii

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” Robert M Hutchins


I wanted to add some more thoughts to yesterday’s “study skills with textbook previewing.” These are in no certain order or age group—just some things that haven’t really fit in the last couple! (How’s that for organizing and study skills???)


1. Taking the textbook preview further


There are a number of ways that you can take the previewing of textbooks that I discussed yesterday even further with your children for more comprehension of the material:


a. Do his first few assignments out of the book with him, pointing out the things again that you observed in your first preview. This will help him see that those things are not just good things to know, but also helpful for completely homework quicker and more accurately.


b. Help him prepare for his first test with his textbook and you by his side. Show him how he can use the glossary, sidebars, table of contents, etc. to quickly fill in his study guide or quickly determine what the most important aspects of the chapter are in order to prepare for a test.


c. As you are previewing a text (for the first time or an additional time), use a large sticky note to record what you find. Write the title of the text at the top, then make notes about what it contains as far as study and homework helps. Stick this in the front of his textbook and help him refer to it when he is doing homework or test preparation. You could even record a plus and minus system, such as


+++ Table of Contents


+ Some graphs


- No study questions at end of chapter






d. Help him “label” different sections of his book with sticky notes along the edges. For example, you could put a yellow one at the beginning of each chapter and a pink one on the page that has definitions for that chapter, etc.






2. Prepare your younger student for textbooks by using user-friendly non-fiction books


Maybe you are not in the textbook stage with your kids; however, you can begin preparing them for those all important study skills that I described yesterday with quality non-fiction books. If kids at ages five, six, eight, and ten, learn to navigate around Dorling Kindersley, Eyewitness, and Usborne books (among many others), they will be heads and shoulders above other children who have only been exposed to fictional stories (more on the benefits of fiction later!).


These outstanding non-fiction books have literally hundreds of topics that interest kids, but they are so colorful and alluring, you do not feel like you are “teaching” at all. Additionally, they have many aspects that your child’s future textbooks will also have: glossaries, Tables of Contents, sidebars, graphs, pictures, inserts, definitions, bold font, italics, etc. Reading these to and with your children when they are younger will provide a natural step into textbooks later on.






Note: We teach our students (in our home, our cottage classes, and in our language arts books) a simple memory device for remembering fiction and non-fiction:


Fiction=fake (both begin with f)


Non-fiction=not fake (both begin with nf)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

day 242: comprehension and study skills with text book previewing—helping our kids in their new subjects part ii of iii



“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” Robert M Hutchins






Try these specific strategies for previewing textbooks with your student to help him or her get the most out of his or her texts this year:


1. Graphs and charts—Remind your student that charts and graphs usually restate (in another form) what is indicated in the text. He can use these for quick overviews, as well as for reviewing before tests.


2. Enumerations—If his text uses a lot of enumeration, it could be that this subject has a significant number of lists to be learned. Point him to these lists and show him that often what is listed in the margins or sidebars is also expounded upon within the text.


3. Section headings—The more headings a book contains, the easier it is to learn from. The student is constantly reminded, by the headings and subheadings, of what the section is about. Show him how helpful these headings can be as he uses the book during his reading and for test preparation.


4. Pictorial aids—Maps are always in included in history textbooks. If his textbook contains a large assortment of maps, show him how they can help him see the big picture. Maps usually show where something that is discussed in the text occurred.


5. Glossary—Books that contain glossaries give the student an easy way to find definitions that may be more obscure within the text. Teach him to use this for quick finds, but encourage him to use the text itself for most studying since students who learn vocabulary in context retain it better.


6. Tables of Contents—The Table of Contents can be used somewhat like an index to find where information is in a particular chapter. It is especially good for getting a big picture about a whole chapter.


7. Prefaces, introductions, and summaries—If a text has any of these three, some of the work is already done for the student. Show him how advantageous these are for quick previewing of a chapter.


8. Footnotes—If a student is in a class that requires research papers, footnotes can be a real plus. We teach our research paper students to use lengthy works’ footnotes to find other credible sources that they might use in their papers.


9. Appendixes—Appendixes are the “extra credit” of the book. I always like to thin of myself as a prized pupil, so I tend to gravitate to these right at first, since they’re usually for those who want additional information—and I always want to know more! Tell your students that sometimes the appendixes aren’t even used in the actual course, but they are good for learning more, for research-based reports, and for cementing what is found in the text.


10. Indexes—If a book doesn’t have an index, I say send it back and get a new one! Show your student how quickly he can find information with the index. The more specific the index, the better it is for the student.


11. Bibliography—The bibliography gives lists of books, articles, and documents relating to the subjects in the textbook. Like footnotes, we direct our research paper students to these.


12. Pronunciation guides—These guides give the phonetic markings to aid in reading unfamiliar words. Many texts do not have these guides, but they are helpful in a class where a student will be giving presentations so the can pronounce unknown words correctly.






Any signaling or sign posting that a book contains is that much more opportunity for the visual learner, especially, to learn and retain. If you have an auditory learner, you might have to record his vital info on cd or cassette! Smile…More study skills coming soon!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

day 241: comprehension and study skills with text book previewing—helping our kids in their new subjects part i of iii

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” Robert M Hutchins



I want to touch on specific “how to’s” of study skills without getting so technical that I lose “non-teachers” out there! When I find a good idea or method in learning that seems to work, I have a tendency to get so excited about it. (You didn’t know that my “chores” and “prioritizing posts,” did you??) So I will alternate between practical suggestions (evening routines for studying) and techniques (teaching our kids to “read between the lines” in their books), etc. So bear with me!


Comprehension and study skills are not necessarily as much remembering all of the details that were read as much as knowing how to read for meaning, remembering the most important parts, and being able to locate information as needed. Students’ textbooks in the content areas (science, history, government, health, geography, etc.) lend themselves greatly to comprehending the information they contain.


I recommend that you have your kids bring their textbooks home, one at a time, and follow some of the tips below previewing their books with them. This will help them (and you) determine the signaling systems, layout, study tools, etc. that each book includes.


A student needs to now quickly how to find information in his book, whether there’s a glossary or index for quick vocabulary help, how each section is summarized, and many other tips that can be discovered right when he begins using that text (with some help from Mom or Dad). By previewing his whole text at first, he will know how user friendly it is, how to set up his notes, and even which study strategies will and will not work for that particular text.


Tomorrow I will give a lengthy list of specifics to look for in previewing your students’ textbooks with them. Invite your friends to join us!

day 240: strong study skills begin with strong habits and routine—beginning study skills for young children




I know I sound like a broken record, but these things are true! Our children will only develop strong study skills to the degree that they have developed other strong habits and routines.


We had a rule of thumb for when “school” began in our home: When a child learned to obey and do the every day things required of him, he was ready to “do school.” This was not some half-baked theory we had. We knew that if a child could not be counted on to brush his teeth in the morning, he could not be counted on to do hard math problems. If a child did not come when he was called, he would certainly not follow through on his reading assignments when Mom or Dad was not there checking up on every move he made.


That is why we have stressed “Preventive Parenting” so much in this blog. There are certain orders to things that just plain make sense. When we do this, this happens. When we are successful in smaller things, we can be successful in larger things. And on and on—all biblical principles that we see played out in all areas of our lives. Every time we fashioned a part of our life after these principles, we found success. Every time we tried to “put the cart before the horse” in some area, we did not.


In our home, each child got a morning routine chart around the age of three. This picture chart (links for many of these concepts will be given below) tells the child what he needs to do fist thing in the morning. Following through on these task, “reading” a chart and being accountable to Mom all help prepare the child for later “study skills.” Once the child has mastered morning routines consistently, he is ready to move on to “chore time.” Again, we used a picture chart for this.


After the morning routine chart and the chore chart were accomplished, we moved onto daily school charts—charts that showed what the child should do each day in the area of devotions, school, independent work, etc.


Obviously, if you have a five year old in school who doesn’t obey or brush his teeth, you probably do not have the option of going back and only doing these things until they become habitual. However, emphasizing those things, bringing in daily habits a little at a time, etc. will go a long way in helping your child also become a good student. A person who is lazy at home is nearly always lazy at work and at school. It is up to us parents to help our children become successful in life—and in school.






Links from previous posts:


After school routines: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/09/day-239-creating-after-school-routine.html



Slowing down activities: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/09/day-230-introducing-study-skillsslowing.html



Start each day the night before: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/08/day-224-organizationpersonal_31.html



Priorities are what we do: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/08/day-207-priorities-are-what-we-do.html




Links for chore charts, reading charts, and more: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/07/day-186-links-for-charts-for-reading.html


Resources for chores, home management, and more: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/04/day-113-114-resources-for-chores.html

Monday, September 13, 2010

day 239: dad’s role in the evenings




“All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” John W. Gardner




Yesterday I described what I would consider the ideal scenario for setting children up for a successful evening in terms of homework, free time, family time, etc. With after school activities, etc., children often do not come straight home from school on the bus. With working parents, children often do not come home to a mom or dad waiting with a snack, either. I am not so na├»ve as to believe that the “perfect” scenario always happens.


My sister and brother-in-law are such excellent examples of two working parents being sure that their kids do what they need to do in the evenings—in spite of two parents working full time and after school activities. Can you guess why they are successful in this from the title of today’s blog post?


Tami and Leonard are successful with their two girls’ homework management (and evening schedule) for one very good reason: they do not see evening parenting (and evening housekeeping) as Mom’s responsibility only. While we have chosen to have less money than two income families (by my not working during my kids’ early years) and more time than more activity-driven families (by limiting our kids’ activities to one choice activity per semester), Tami and Leonard make their busy circumstances work for their family. Putting aside whatever you might believe about women working full time or not, we can surely all agree that if a woman does work full time, just like her husband, she is no more responsible for the house getting cleaned or dinner being on the table than he is.


Ray and I have always felt that if a husband and wife chose to have both of them work outside jobs, they also chose to give up a homemaker. There is nobody there cooking and cleaning—and it all must be done when Mr. and Mrs. are home from work—and by both of them. (And even when a woman is a homemaker, the husband and wife are still co-parents. Homemaking duties should never include parenting by oneself (if two parents are in the home).)


Now I know that this wife-working-husband-carrying-household-duties-too concept is often not the case. Statistics prove this at consistent rates. (See “A Housekeeper Is Cheaper Than a Divorce” http://www.amazon.com/Housekeeper-Cheaper-Than-Divorce-Afford/dp/0967963605  and “Who Says It’s a Woman’s Job to Clean?” http://www.amazon.com/Who-Says-Its-Womans-Clean/dp/0898792150/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_7  ) We cannot figure out how Christian men could even begin to expect their wives to work full time and do all the housework and parenting. Somehow that does not seem like the “love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” mandate to us.


But I digress into a sermonette here, so I will get back to the topic at hand: evening schedules for Mom and Dad. Tami and Leonard’s evening schedule for homework is a good one for busy two-career homes. Leonard cooks dinner while Tami sits down with the girls and does homework. (It could also work the other way, but Tami is a teacher and Leonard likes to cook, so this arrangement works well for them.) In the thirty to sixty minutes that Tami is working with the girls (elementary school age), Leonard has the meal ready, and they eat. Then, when the girls were younger, one cleaned the kitchen and the other did baths. I mean, they are both going to work a full day tomorrow, so sharing in the evening tasks just makes sense.


Regardless of whether all of your kids are in activities after school or not, there HAS to be a connecting point. Make it right after school, right before dinner, right after dinner, at eight p.m., or whatever. But do make it. And make sure it includes Dad—because Mom and Dad’s attitudes and emphasis on learning (and working) sets the stage for the kids attitudes and enjoyment of learning (and working).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

day 239: creating an after-school routine for a successful evening

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn…” Carl Rogers




I know, I know…this blog is filled with things that you, the parent, have to do. Believe me, I know it feels overwhelming and even unfair, at times, to have such a huge responsibility as raising sons and daughters. So much to think about in raising children for the Lord. We have to be good examples of what we want our kids to become; we have to be in charge of their eating and healthy habits; we have to discipline them so that they grow up with self-control; we have to oversee their education and spiritual development; we have to teach them God’s Word; and on and on.


Today we are starting a series on study skills. And regardless of whether we homeschool or send our children to a school, we are truly responsible for their education (as well as the condensed list from the first paragraph). The first study skill that I would like to present to you is that of developing a study environment/routine for success—starting with that all-important after school hour.


A couple of years ago we had an editor working for us who had three children (elementary) in school. One day I stopped by after school to drop off a document and found what I would consider to be one of the most ideal after-school practices (as far as helping her children with school is concerned).


This gal was standing at the bar with backpacks open in front of her. All three children were seated at the table eating snacks that she had laid out for them when they got off the bus. Mom was opening each backpack, checking to see what each child brought home, looking through homework folders, etc. and dialoguing with the kids about upcoming assignments, what their day was like, etc.


Contrast this with kids coming home, dropping backpacks on the floor of the back porch, grabbing a Twinkie, and going in to the tv or game system.


Yes, kids did just work hard all day at school. Yes, they do need breaks. However, taking part in an after-school routine with Mom or Dad, such as the one described above, does a number of things:


1. The parent, not the child, is determining snacks. I am sure kids are starving when they get home from school. And we all know that when we are hungry, we often reach for convenience, not health. Mom can have healthier snacks ready than what the child might choose.


2. Mom is checking homework right away—not hoping that the child remembers later. No surprises at ten o’clock!


3. There is uninterrupted (by electronics, anyway) dialogue about the kids’ day.


4. In the long run, kids will actually have more free time in the evenings if things are at least checked when student first gets home. They might not have it when they first walk in the door, but there will be a plan for the evening’s activities and schedule—and play time/electronics time may be earned by completing assignments, etc.


5. Lets Mom and Dad know how much they will be needed that evening. No mom or dad likes to be told at ten p.m. that the child needs poster board for tomorrow!


6. Mom can find things lurking/hiding in the backpack—field trip permission slips, note from the teacher, etc.






Now obviously, this is just one scenario that would work. And, once again, the success of this depends on each family’s priorities. If a family prioritizes after school activities or sports, then this meeting might not take place until later in the evening. Each family has to make those choices.


Homeschoolers can benefit from these ideas, as well. My children do much better with their daily chore and school charts when I check them every afternoon before they get “off” for the day.


Homeschoolers and school-away kids alike benefit from accountability and structure. It is our job as parents to provide both of these.


Tomorrow: Dad’s role in helping kids with homework. Upcoming: study schedules, pre-reading strategies, test preparation ideas, and more.

day 238: family favorite freezer entree--cheesy potato casserole

I am going to start posting recipes occasionally for those who are asking about freezer cooking. However, you do not have to be interested specifically in freezer cooking to enjoy these recipes. For example, the one I am posting today we did in bulk for a One Heart Disability luncheon (fed over a hundred) and friends of ours used it for our daughter's rehearsal dinner that they "catered." There are so many uses for mega cooking--for our families, to help others in need, to serve in capacities that others are not trained or experienced in, etc.

Today's recipe--cheesy potato casserole--was one of my first freezer recipes. It is so simple and nearly everybody loves it. It is not very sour-creamy-tasting, so children enjoy it too. I am posting it to feed ten, twenty, and thirty (single, doubled, and tripled). I know you could do the math yourself, but my program does it for me, so I thought I would share all three. Happy cooking!

Cheesy Potato Casserole serves 10

1 Bag Hash Browns, cubed, frozen 32 oz

1/2 Cup Butter 1/2 cup = 1 stick

2 Cup Half N Half

1 Pound Velveeta Cheese May use another 1/4 lb

1 Package Cottage Cheese 24 oz; small curd; may

use 4-6 oz more





Instructions

1. Pour hash browns in greased, 9 x 13 baking dish.

2. Melt butter, half and half, and Velveeta in micro or on stove top.

3. Dissolve cottage cheese in hot mixture until heated through some.

4. Pour over hash browns.

5. Let sit at least one hour or overnight in fridge if using immediately and

follow baking instr below.

6. Freeze covered tightly with foil and label as shown below.

7. Label: Date/Cheesy Potato Casserole/Thaw. Bake uncovered for one to 1

1/2 hours at 350 convection or 1 1/2-1 3/4 regular. Not cooked yet.

8. Note: Freeze unstacked until thoroughly frozen.



*************************************************************

Cheesy Potato Casserole -- (Doubled) serves 20




2 Bag Hash Browns, cubed, frozen 32 oz

1 Cup Butter 1/2 cup = 1 stick

4 Cup Half N Half

2 Pound Velveeta Cheese May use another 1/4 lb

2 Package Cottage Cheese 24 oz; small curd; may

use 4-6 oz more





Instructions


1. Pour hash browns in greased, 9 x 13 baking dish.

2. Melt butter, half and half, and Velveeta in micro or on stove top.

3. Dissolve cottage cheese in hot mixture until heated through some.

4. Pour over hash browns.

5. Let sit at least one hour or overnight in fridge if using immediately and

follow baking instr below.

6. Freeze covered tightly with foil and label as shown below.

7. Label: Date/Cheesy Potato Casserole/Thaw. Bake uncovered for one to 1

1/2 hours at 350 convection or 1 1/2-1 3/4 regular. Not cooked yet.

8. Note: Freeze unstacked until thoroughly frozen.

***************************************************************


Cheesy Potato Casserole -- (Tripled) serves 30


3 Bag Hash Browns, cubed, frozen 32 oz

1 1/2 Cup Butter 1/2 cup = 1 stick

6 Cup Half N Half

3 Pound Velveeta Cheese May use another 1/4 lb

3 Package Cottage Cheese 24 oz; small curd; may

use 4-6 oz more


Instructions


1. Pour hash browns in greased, 9 x 13 baking dish.

2. Melt butter, half and half, and Velveeta in micro or on stove top.

3. Dissolve cottage cheese in hot mixture until heated through some.

4. Pour over hash browns.

5. Let sit at least one hour or overnight in fridge if using immediately and

follow baking instr below.

6. Freeze covered tightly with foil and label as shown below.

7. Label: Date/Cheesy Potato Casserole/Thaw. Bake uncovered for one to 1

1/2 hours at 350 convection or 1 1/2-1 3/4 regular. Not cooked yet.

8. Note: Freeze unstacked until thoroughly frozen.

-----------------------------------------------------------


Printed by Advantage Cooking! 30 Day Gourmet Edition

www.advantagecooking.com www.30DayGourmet.Com

day 237: “mega cooking” resources part ii of ii




Last day of “mega cooking” resources:


Mega cooking site: “Thirty Day Gourmet.” This is the site I use for mega cooking help nowadays. Their basic freezer cooking manual looks wonderful (“Thirty Day Gourmet’s Big Book of Freezer Cooking”), but I use the software (see below). This site will help you immensely if you desire to do freezer cooking of any kind: http://www.30daygourmet.com/



Software: Thirty Day Gourmet Edition of Advantage Cook Software. This is the software that I use now for all of my recipes. It is a long process getting them all switched over from WORD (and some from EXCEL) to this, but it is so worth it since this software lets you adjust the servings at the push of a button. After many years of adjusting recipe amounts on napkins, in my head, and on scrap paper, I so appreciate that aspect of it. In addition to being able to plug your own recipes into it, this software comes fully loaded with the Thirty Day Gourmet’s Freezer Cooking recipes (again, fully adjustable). I love this program—and I seldom like computer programs since I am not computer savvy. (Recipes I will be posting on weekends will be ones that I have inputted in this program—and then scaled using the “scale” feature. Amazing!) Available at http://www.30daygourmet.com/Products/Freezer-Cooking-Advantage-Software.aspx

Next weekend, I will post some of my favorite recipes—scaled to various needs. So stay tuned!


Tomorrow—we are switching gears for the weekdays in September to cover study skills—helping our kids with academics as school begins, developing good habits, and more. (We will still do recipes and reviews on weekends.)