Homeschooling: ENTP/ENFP learning style

I’ve started researching learning styles. Our #1 son is doing great with school, but I think there is always room to improve the process.

Most children in the early elementary school years love being active and have a hard time sitting still. This isn’t necessarily along biological gender lines, but boys tend to be more prone to the wiggles. This is my experience with our #1 son. And I don’t think him being a boy has much to do with it, but rather, his personality type. People have different opinions on the reliability of Myers-Briggs Personality Type, but the research behind it is solid. And if understood correctly, it’s a tool; a guide for explaining behavior, not so much predicting it. Also, each letter of a type is on a continuum. That means two people who have the same type, will still be very different from one another.

From what we can tell, we think that our #1 son is either a ENTP or an ENFP.

From the Myers and Briggs Foundation, ENFP adults are described as:

Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.

ENTP adults are described as:

Quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert, and outspoken. Resourceful in solving new and challenging problems. Adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing them strategically. Good at reading other people. Bored by routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way, apt to turn to one new interest after another.

 

But what is life like for these personality types as children? According to the latest research, some letters show up fairly quickly and are easy to spot (such as Extroversion and Introversion) by the time your child is toddler age. For the other letters, it can take years. The above types as children are referred to ENP’s. Kidzmet has an excellent description of the ENP child and it very much describes my #1 son well. Here is another place that describes the learning style of an ENP. That really hit home; I recognized some of the challenges we have during school. He needs an incredible amount of stimulation and gets bored easy, any little thing will distract him and our nickname for him is The Negotiator. Our #1 will not take a simple no for an answer, and your explanation has to make sense to him. And when our final answer is “no” on something, we’ve found that we have to very clear about it. As the page with learning styles states, “there can be no room for alternative interpretation.”

Since we homeschool, I think’s very important to create the best environment in which he (and his younger brother eventually) can learn and I can facilitate that learning well. I’m an ISFP and knowing what his type probably is explains so much. Especially the exhaustion! But part of living life well on this planet, is learning to get along with people that are different from you.

Homeschool: Handwriting update

I think that our decision to start cursive was a good one. So far, #1 son likes it and doesn’t have any difficulty learning the strokes. We’re using Kumon My Book of Cursive Writing Letters.

He still does some printing in Explode The Code (ETC) workbook; interestingly, his printing has improved as well. Although I suspect, it is more that his desire to try to print the best he can has improved. Why? I don’t really know, but I can speculate.

Maybe he likes the pace we go at now better than before and is more relaxed? Back in September, he was very resistant to handwriting. ECT has a few pages in each lesson where you have to write quite a bit and this is where he had little patience. We have since slowed down the pace of completing the ETC pages. There are nine pages in total and I originally tried to encourage him to complete all of them in one day. He wasn’t having that. I slowly realized that, even though he did not problems with the material, requiring a 5 year old to sit still and complete all those pages was an inappropriate expectation (it’s first grade work and I think expecting a 6 year old to sit still for that is a probably a bit much too). So now, we do the first five on the same day the lesson is introduced. We complete the remaining four by the end of the week. I don’t think the few cursive lessons he’s had has anything to do with his improvement in printing because we haven’t been doing it that long.

Most likely, his improvement is probably just increased maturity. It doesn’t seem like it, but there is a big difference between 5 years and 5.5 years.

We’re only a few pages into the Kumon book, but I will do another update in a few weeks!

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Winter/Spring

We made a few changes to our curriculum.

1. Handwriting. After going back and forth between considering print vs. cursive (I wrote a post on it here), we decided to teach cursive first. #1 son doesn’t particularly enjoy printing; at least he doesn’t enjoy having to write such straight lines. I think cursive will be more fun for him to learn, since it’s almost like drawing in some ways.

2. Reading/Phonics. We’re still doing Explode the Code, but have decided to do the lessons at a slower pace to account for #1 son’s impatience with writing. ETC is very writing intensive, so we’ll see if spreading it out helps. He loves reading, however, so we’ve added Hooked on Phonics to reenforce that. We did the first lesson today and he liked it.

Now I’m Reading is still a hit. The HOP books are similar, but I think the stories in NIR are written much better. Doing both is fine. I don’t think there can be too many ways to help with reading, as long as the child isn’t struggling or dislikes something.

3. Social Studies. These aren’t lessons, per se, but just reading books together. We bought a book series by Stuart J. Murphy called I See I Learn. The stories are based on four areas children are developing in: emotional, social, health/safety and cognitive. So far, we’ve read Percy Gets Upset and Freda Stops a Bully. He likes the stories, so for homeschooling, we’re going to both read and talk about what happens in the book.

4. Math. Still on Singapore Math and he has done well. Still, this is the hardest subject for me mostly because I constantly worry I’m not teaching it well. I think a confidence in math is super important, especially if a person ever wants a career in the hard sciences or technology. Basically, I don’t want the I’m-not-good-at-math virus to damage any future interest in the fields above.

Also. I am not sure how useful memorizing math facts is. I read this article on the matter. It seems to me mastering the concepts (with a good deal of practice, of course) is a better foundation for doing well in the higher mathematics (algebra, etc.). So, eventually mastering the concept of 10’s helps you do math better in your head, vs. memorizing addition facts.

I don’t know. Will be chewing on this for a bit.

Lastly, #1 son is taking a drama class at Oregon Children’s Theater. I think it’s about 6 or 7 weeks. I think he’ll enjoy it!

Homeschooling: Learning cursive before manuscript?

One of the many advantages of homeschooling is that you can switch things up whenever you want or need to. DH and I have been discussing handwriting and some schools of thought suggest teaching cursive before manuscript (print). In fact, many Montessori schools teach cursive first.

This blog post from Our Montessori Home presented the case clearly for teaching cursive first. A few things stood out for me:

1. Kids find cursive attractive

2. Cursive writing matches kids early drawing and writing squiggle attempts.

3. This I will quote directly from the writer: “Once children have learned cursive, it is very easy for them to learn print.  The reverse is more difficult.  Also, a child who writes in cursive can also read print, but a child who only learned print cannot read cursive.”

That third point I knew, but just accepted it as part of the process. But again, difficulty, in this case, doesn’t have to be a part of the process. There are options. Like learning cursive first. Also, the writer cites a paper written by a pediatrician that suggests kids brains are more primed  for learning to write printed letters later (between ages 6 and 9).

In addition, a recent article in Psychology Today suggests that learning cursive has benefits for brain development. This is particularly relevant for kids in public schools since, as the article states, learning cursive is no longer a requirement for elementary school children.

DH and I discussed whether to teach #1 son cursive at all. It seems to be going out of style, going the way of the dodo. But we decided against that and are now considering whether to just start with cursive. Whether or not cursive writing goes extinct is irrelevant. There seems to be many advantages to learning cursive that go beyond just having the ability to read it when needed.

Lastly, #1 son seems more interested in cursive letters and has little trouble recognizing them. His favorite cursive letter is what he calls “fancy G”.

We’re still thinking about it, but there are a lot of pros to learning cursive first.

 

 

 

Homeschooling: Two weeks into Kindergarten

It’s going pretty well!

We’re focusing on many of the same subjects that I outlined for my oldest son’s last year of pre-K: science, math, reading/phonics, art, social studies, cooking and handwriting. We do two subjects a day, one in the morning and one mid-afternoon, after little brother’s nap. Structured lessons are for an hour each, max. Many times, we’re at 45 minutes. DH does handwriting in the evenings, and those are only 15 minute sessions. We are also part of a group of other secular homeschoolers and we plan on meeting twice a week for group activities in the areas of science, language, cooking and anatomy. We had out first “class” Monday, for science, and the kids had a ball with a color changing milk experiment.

At home, the materials we’re using are:

1. Primary Mathematics

I really like this curriculum. For those unfamiliar, this is Singapore Math, which teaches kids to do mental math. We’re using 1A level. It is very organized and and includes a textbook and workbook for the kids and an instructor booklet. Very easy to implement. Right now, we’re working on number bonds and it was the first week where #1 son didn’t quite get it all the way; about 30 percent. The beauty of homeschooling, of course, is that you take as long as you want until your kid gets it. No timetable. The second lesson on number bonds, I did a review and we did a game using a 3-compartment plate, numeral cards and goldfish crackers. This isn’t original, I got it off the interwebs (just google it). He seemed to get it a lot more: that 5 is the same as 3+2, 0+5, and 4+1.

2. Science is Simple

Haven’t done much in this yet. One lesson so far: we borrowed Suddenly! from the library and read that together. It’s a book they suggest to help kids make guesses about what will happen next in a story. Basically, practicing the scientific method.  This can be done with any story. This is one of the first lessons, but it has tons of fun ideas for actual science experiments.

3. Beginning Geography (social studies)

Also have done just a few pages so far. Learning maps, direction (up, down, right, left, N, S, E, W), land masses, bodies of water, etc. Came with two huge colorful posters we hung up in the playroom. #1 son likes the activities and coloring the pages.

4. Explode the Code (phonics)

While the main focus of ETC is phonics, it is very writing intensive. After a couple of weeks, we’re now skipping the last page in each lesson because it’s JUST MORE WRITING. We already have a separate curriculum for handwriting so it’s feel redundant. I appreciate some writing practice, but in my opinion it’s a bit much. Other than that, the lessons are good and I am still happy using it (although we might supplement with Hooked on Phonics at some point).

5. Draw Write Now (art)

Right now, #1 son is taking a 5-week art class at Masterpiece Art Studio (which he loves), but when that is over we’ll be doing some different things for art and this book is one. It gives you step by step instructions on how to draw different animals and it’s great handwriting practice, too. My son likes following steps for things if it’s something he likes, like art. We’ll also be using project ideas from The Artful Parent.

6. Pretend Soup (cooking)

My DH found this book and I like it a lot. The recipes are made to allow the kids to do as much prep and cooking as possible independently (with adult supervision of course). There are also two versions of directions: one with words for parents and one with pictures and a word or two for the kids. We’ve made one recipe so far, “Green Spaghetti”, which is basically pasta and homemade pesto. The kids enjoyed making it. My younger son tasted some and liked it, and my older son (who is VERY picky) just ate plain pasta with butter, salt and pepper. It was actually really good and I added extra garlic!

7. Now I’m Reading (books for early reader practice)

So far, very happy with these. The illustrations are engaging and there is an actual story with a beginning, middle and end. We start each book with just looking at the pictures, then I read it a few times, then he reads it alone when he is ready to. If he can read it by himself with no help, he can put a sticker inside the book.

8. Universal Publishing Handwriting Series

Had a hard time finding handwriting curriculums. Weren’t sure what style to go with. At first, we thought maybe italics were the way to go and not even getting into cursive. There are so many choices. But we finally realized readability is most important, so regular old printing is best (and easier to learn), with cursive instruction starting in a few years.

Finally, at some point I will buying a children’s Bible to help introduce the kids to Bible stories. I think this subject can be called religious literacy or maybe mythology? The Christian stories and traditions are very much a part of American culture, down to the idioms or sayings people speak (read here). The great part from our perspective is that DH and I don’t have to convince our kids that these stories are true. They are free to think whatever they want to think about them. And we’re not focusing on just Christianity; we will delve into other religious traditions as they get older.

 

Homeschooling: Curriculum Evolution

I would say my education philosophy hovers somewhere between straight unschooling and eclectic homeschooling. So while I never gave myself ulcers trying to keep up on every jot of the curriculum I outlined for us last Fall, it was still too structured and not very exciting for #1 son.

DH and I put our brains to work and tried to figure out a way to not only make “lessons” more fun for #1 son, but also make it easier for me to implement.

It’s interesting because last year, the curriculum I found worked fairly well. This year, with the few tweaks added, not so much. I accept that sometimes, you have switch things up.

We do school three days a week, dedicating about an hour to each subject, one in the morning and one in the afternoon: math, science, reading, social studies, art and handwriting. That hour will usually include some worksheets and an activity/project.

Schedule

Photo by CB

 

The materials we’re trying out are:

School Sparks

Photo by CB

 

Worksheets for math, science, reading, writing, spelling

Worksheets for math, science, reading, writing, spelling
Photo by CB

 

Tangram game for math

Tangram game for math
Photo by CB

 

About 50 books with lessons/activities

About 50 books with lessons/activities
Photo by CB

 

Leap Frog Human Body

 

For a lot of activities, I just browse the web for stuff I think #1 son will like. My DH and I also tag team: we each take three subjects to plan for. And, because we are both perceivers, we only plan about a month out.

This past Wednesday was the first day using this approach and it worked well (really well, considering DH was home sick and the night before, #2 son was sick and up for a few early morning hours).

I measure success by #1 son’s acceptance or rejection. If it ever seems like things are forced or he is getting bored, we will certainly change things up again.

Supporting your child’s interests

I read a post today on a blog called Project-based Homeschoooling (go there please, it’s awesome) about basically the advantages of not just encouraging, but actively supporting your child’s interests.

The second comment on the post touched a chord in me. As a teen, the person was essentially manipulated by a school counselor into going to a college not of their choosing.

I thought about the ton of conversations DH and I have had about things we’d do differently with our education/careers if not for the interference (sometimes well-meaning and sometimes not) of the adults in our lives.

For me, I’ve always loved writing and reading fiction. My mom took us to the library very regularly. But once it was time to pick colleges, I was steered toward not only staying where I lived to go to school, but going to the city’s community college.

Now, not to slam community colleges. They are great options for many people. But considering my interests (writing/journalism) it would have been better for me to go to a school that had a good reputation for that and was affordable for me.

Luckily I lived in a city that had one: Temple University. And guess what? I ended up finishing my BA there. Why didn’t I go there to begin with? I have no damn idea, other than a vague memory of being talked into doing something else.

DH had a similar experience. He was actually home schooled and once it was time for college, he really wanted to explore attending college in California or possibly Seattle (he lived about an hour or so from the Emerald City).

What happened? He got talked into going to a two-year art school in the small town he lived in. Again, not that this school wasn’t a good option. But he says he would have chosen differently if he had been given both the freedom and support to choose himself.

It’s all well and good to expose your children to many things and be generally positive about what they are into. But once you see they are truly passionate about something, actively support it. And when they get older, and begin to carve their own paths, don’t make them feel like you have a stake in whatever choices they make.

Not long ago, I saw the documentary Being Elmo. It is a biography about Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Sesame Street character Elmo. What impressed me most about Kevin’s career was the relentless support he received from his parents early on. Not once did they ever make him feel ashamed for “being into” puppets and helped him seek out mentors for his interest. And look at him today.

 

Time for school!

Yup, in about two weeks it will be September. Can’t believe how quick the summers go. DH grumbled yesterday about how he noticed the sun going down a bit earlier…yeah, one of the telltale signs of Fall coming this way.

Well, I say there is always something cool about each season. Just focus on that until your favorite season rolls around again!

We’ve had a lot going on; a beach trip and family visiting for almost three weeks took up late July and much of August. We hope to make one more trip to Gig Harbor to visit DH’s grandmother Labor Day weekend and then #1 son starts school…homeschool that is.

Photo by Carisa Brewster

 

Last year, I followed a neat, simple curriculum from Brightly Beaming Resources, created by homeschool mom Katrina Lybbert. She is Christian, but does not weave in any religious ideas or materials into the lessons. It’s very flexible and you can use her ideas verbatim or add elements that you feel are better for your child.

We had a weekly theme (sun, for instance), letter and number to learn about, and books to read on the theme; plus some kind of craft project. There is plenty of other free stuff out there, but I really like Lybbert’s site. It gave me a wonderful foundation for organizing our curriculum.

This year will have those same elements, but with the addition of science and geography/social studies (learning very basic info about the different countries). Instead of a letter for the week, there is a sound blend of the week with one spelling word each day. For math, I’m using Kindergarten worksheets from School Sparks. If we like them, I’ll consider buying the books.

In addition to the above, we’ll have playdates with other homeschooled kids and some of his friends that are either not in preschool or in preschool part-time, plus field trips related to whatever he is learning for the week.

I’m looking forward to the year. The only challenge I’ll have is trying to keep #2 son (who is almost 16 months) occupied during the lessons at home!

 

Learning styles

I went to a free parenting/teaching workshop last night that talked about how everyone, but particularly kids, learn. Very interesting. The info is from educator Cynthia Tobias.

These are the three learning styles:

1. Visual (lots of color, images, etc.)

2. Auditory (need to talk)

3. Kinesthetic (need to move)

Most schools are geared toward the visual. So, as you might guess, the second and third type of learners have a lot of problems in school and get into trouble for either talking too much or being too active. These kids would probably do better being homeschooled (if their parent is not stuck in the there-is-only-one-way-to-learn matrix).

At a little over 3.5, it’s hard to tell which style my #1 son prefers, but the workshop reminded me to start paying attention now. I also thought about how I learn best. I am a visual learner. I also like the lighting a little on the dim side, need a drink/snack and to be generally nestled while reading/studying.

What is your learning style? What type of environment helps you learn best?