Friday, December 12, 2014


My husband became eligible for early retirement from NASA a year ago, and so he's been looking into possible other jobs for a while now. Neither of us are too fond of Houston summers, hurricanes, or the flatness. We knew we didn't want to live here forever, so when the government started offering "early outs" for which he was eligible, we decided it might be the right time for us to leave.

My husband began looking almost 2 years ago for possible jobs near San Antonio or the Hill Country in Texas (we did still like the rest of Texas!), but not much turned up. Then, he branched out and started looking at jobs in other states. I wrote about this once before, about a year ago when we had a potential lead on a job. That one fell through, though, so we stayed put.

Just a few months ago, after we'd pretty much accepted that nothing better was available right now, my husband got in contact with a NASCAR team in North Carolina looking for engineers. He flew up there for an interview, and it sounds like it's a really good match. They want to hire him, and we are finalizing the details now. So, just like that, it sounds like we're moving to (near) Welcome, North Carolina!

It is tricky enough to move with three young kids, but adding that to the typical busyness of Christmas is maybe not the best idea! They want my husband to start work there in January, so we are going to try to sell the house as soon as we can. We had a POD delivered a few days ago, so we can start de-cluttering. Painters have come the past 2 days to freshen the paint indoors and repaint our front deck, which is very worn. We are in contact with a few realtors, both here and in North Carolina. So things are really starting to get moving. I am already tired of packing. We have way too many books! And so much dust.... (yeah, I don’t dust much around here.)

December has also been very full of music. I have various rehearsals and concerts happening every weekend, and throughout the week, both for me and the girls. We have travel plans to visit my in-laws. We have parties to attend. We have houses to look at online. And my husband is trying to finalize all the retirement paperwork with NASA. Not to mention still trying to homeschool the kids. So, I may not write again for a while....

Got to go – more books to pack!

Monday, November 10, 2014


My middle child, Reanna, was baptized yesterday! She asked Jesus into her heart over a year ago, but she was not ready to be baptized then. Over this past summer, she started asking more questions about it, and by this fall, was more than ready to be baptized. We met with the children's minister at church, and she agreed that Reanna understood quite a bit, and knew the significance of baptism - that it was to show others that she had already accepted Jesus as her Lord, and had asked Him to be her Savior.

So, a week after turning 7, she was baptized. She was so excited that morning! We got there plenty early, and stood waiting in the dressing room behind the baptistery (she was too excited to sit).
She had wanted the children's minister, Karen, to baptize her. Reanna was all eager to get started, but when the time came to step into the water, she turned a little hesitant. The water was deep for this little below-average-height child! But she made it down close enough to grab Karen's hand, and floated the rest of the way to the brick to stand on.

I think she was a bit distracted, and thinking a million thoughts, and so had to be asked twice if she had asked Jesus into her heart, but then she answered with a quite loud, "Yes!" to the amusement of the congregation.

She held her nose, and was dipped below the water, and came up spouting water with a slightly panicked look on her face, but after a few seconds, that bright smile popped out, and she was grinning ear to ear. She talked non-stop after that, while I dried her off and got her changed.

The children's minister also gave us a good idea to help us remember this day. Many times, when children are baptized this young, they don't retain a solid memory of the day. I know I don't have too many memories of my own baptism, when I was 5 or 6, though I do remember some moments. Karen suggested that we make a celebration of this day every year, like a second birthday. Celebrate with some sort of gift that has spiritual significance, like a prayer book, or Bible verse bookmark, or something similar that is age appropriate. Then, this day, and the exact date, will be remembered much more easily. So, for Reanna, this will be easy to remember - her baptism day, or her spiritual birthday, however we decide to call it, is just one week past her regular birthday. What a wonderful way to celebrate her new life in Christ!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Getting Into the Groove of Things

My “resistant” students (see my last post) have gotten better over the past week or two. We are getting into our schedule fairly well, and are managing to get everything done within a fairly reasonable time, with minimal whining and pouting. Our days (or at least, my days) are longer than last year, due to having an additional student (my youngest), and due to my 4th grader having more work to do this year. On Mondays and Tuesdays, we tend to not finish until close to 3pm or so, after starting around 8:30 (but taking a long lunch break). Wednesdays and Fridays are a little shorter, since I put several of the “once a week” topics (piano lessons, geography and health for the littles) on the first days, to get them over with. Science with my oldest is only M/Tu/W. We have modified a few things, and streamlined the schedule, and I’m sure we’ll do more of that as the year passes, but things are pretty good right now.

On Thursdays (today), all 3 kids go to a once-a-week Academy that has recently started up in our area, offering a variety of elective classes in one location from different teachers in the area. My youngest goes to a K-1st enrichment class, mostly dealing with science and animals. My girls go to several 2nd-4th grade classes, including geography, art, and science. They all have lunch there, and my youngest also has an hour of recess/playtime with other kids his age. And I get a break!

This is just our 2nd week of this Academy, but my youngest is still quite resistant to it. He has cried both times I’ve left him there. I’m hoping he grows to like it, since I hate leaving a crying child for the teacher to deal with. He was happy when I picked him up last week, though he still said later that he didn’t like it. I pick him up right after playtime, at 12:30, so it’s not really that long of a time for him, but he feels that it is. It might also be hard for him since he’s also started several new classes at church, and it just takes him a while to get comfortable with new situations.

Anyway, so today I have time to write, though I’m hanging out at church instead of going home. Our church and the Academy are both about 35 minutes away from our house, so instead of driving so much, I figured I’d try staying in the area until I pick them up after lunch. We will see how it goes!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Resistant Students

This past Monday, we started up with our full load for this school year. I had already started the full load with my younger two a couple weeks ago. But now we're doing the full load with my 4th grader too. And it has been a difficult week. Is it only Wednesday still?

I have 2 rather resistant students - my youngest and my oldest. They both would really rather just play. We have had a number of talks these past few days, about the rules for when we're doing school (like no electronics, no talking or sound effects while I'm reading aloud, no pestering me with questions about what time we eat lunch while I'm in the middle of a lesson with another child, etc.), about the value of education, about the value of persistence, about obeying your parents....

My youngest is having adjustment issues since this is his first year of homeschooling. He went to preschool 3 days a week last year (and loved it), but has been very insistent that he wants to be homeschooled for kindergarten. I'm not sure he understood that this involves doing actual work at home, and not just perpetual playtime. We are mostly working on learning to read this year, but he struggles with blending. I've tried (over the summer and up til now) All About Reading (not quite ready for level 1, I don't think), and A Beka (not sure the consonant-vowel blend ladders are as intuitive as word families for him), and now we're taking a break and trying Reading Eggs, with him sitting on my lap in front of the computer as he does the lessons. He is ok with this, though not too happy. We'll see. The only other main things I'm doing with him are math (using MathSeeds for that right now, again sitting on my lap), and Sonlight Core A for Bible/literature/history/science. He likes the Sonlight stuff best, and it only takes 15-20 minutes, but he still has to be scolded almost every time for playing (noisily) with his toys while I read. His full load is not that long - maybe an hour altogether - so hopefully he'll settle into it soon. Once reading starts to "click," I think it will be better too.

My oldest is having adjustment issues since 4th grade is requiring a bit more work than 3rd grade. I'm trying to push things a bit more this year. She's way ahead in reading ability, history, science - but still struggles with handwriting, writing, spelling, and math. So, that's the work she resists doing, of course. In the past, I have let her drop some things that she struggled with, thinking that at her grade level, it wasn't that much of a big deal. But this year, I'm not planning on letting her drop much at all. So, our days are rather long (due to all the scolding and "pep talks" I'm having to give, and having to re-do some things when she wasn't paying attention). But I am hopeful that once we get into the schedule a few more days, she will get used to it, and things will go more smoothly. Today was already quite a bit better.

So, it's been a tough few days, but we're still going, despite my threats of packing them off to "big school." My middle child is my inspiration. She is eager, happy, and determined to do whatever I ask her to do. She loves worksheets, she loves reading, she loves math - she just loves school. She is a joy to teach. Of course, she's not perfect either, but she is an encouragement. And the other two have their moments of teaching joy too - my youngest's giggles of happiness when he recognizes a rhyme, and my oldest's amazing inventions she comes up with, with intricate detail and surprising links to what we've been studying (when I didn't think she was listening).

Your new school year may be starting out tough too, but try to find the high points, no matter how rare. It will get better. Just keep at it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Curriculum Update for the New Year

I just updated my curriculum page for this coming school year. We actually started most of it this past week, so I figured I should really update this page! Either click on "Curriculum Choices" up above, or click here to see the page.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sonlight for real!

I have been using Sonlight material, to some extent, since my oldest started 1st grade - so, for 3 years now. But we haven't actually bought a full core until now.

For 1st grade, I bought a used Core A instructor guide, to see how we liked it. We were using BJU Distance Learning videos for 1st grade also, so we just did the history/geography/missionary readings, and not any of the language arts or Bible parts. I discovered that the read-alouds were really fun for the kids, and that Rebekah learned the most through that style of learning (rather than textbooks or workbooks or even videos).

I debated our future plans quite a bit, considering combining Sonlight with BJU videos (which we eventually decided to not use, mostly due to worldview differences, plus they took too long and did not take advantage of the one-on-one instruction that my oldest does best with). For 2nd grade, I finally just bought many of the Sonlight Core B history books listed on their webpage, and we just read through them at our own pace. Again, this worked really well. For English, we ended up trying a variety of things - CLE (which she hated- though she loved CLE math), various workbooks (done orally mostly), Writing with Ease, Wordly Wise, Sequential Spelling, and the Sonlight Grade 2 readers, which I just bought separately and had her read as she wanted. The only thing she loved and did well with? The Sonlight readers. At this point, I began to come to terms with the fact that the Charlotte-Mason method of language arts was really the best fit for Rebekah, and that she really was learning without all the grammar drill and details. At least at this age.

For 3rd grade, we continued with our "relaxed" history method of buying the Sonlight Core C books separately, and just reading them at our own pace. For English, we started out with Rod & Staff, and made it through 3/5ths of the book before burning out and switching back to a Charlotte-Mason method. I should have known. Despite various workbooks I used for grammar, Rebekah just never really liked them, and, due to her stubborn personality, she never learned from them. But I let her read Sonlight books as much as she wanted, and her reading ability soared. Her test results this year showed her to have a 6th grade reading level (91st percentile in her grade). She finished all the Grade 3 Sonlight readers early, and I bought the Grade 4-5 readers - which she has now finished also. She's also writing more on her own now, without any prompting on my part, though that area does still need more work. Oh, and her "social studies" test scores? Her grade equivalent was 7.8 (eighth month of 7th grade), and she scored in the 99th percentile.

So, for 4th grade? I bought Sonlight Core D in its entirety. It's just simpler this way! For 2nd and 3rd grade, I'm still happy we did them the way we did, at least for history. At those grade levels, we didn't really need the full structure of the instructor guide, and I think the language arts wouldn't have been a good fit for her, especially as far as writing ability goes. Maybe it would have, I don't know. But it's worked out fine. We will use Sonlight Core D for Bible, history/geography, and language arts this coming year. And we are both very excited!

For my younger two, I plan to use our old Sonlight Core A schedule again. It's been long enough that I am looking forward to reading those books aloud again! Ryan will be in kindergarten, and Reanna is somewhere between 1st and 2nd grade, so I think Core A will be good for them. (I'll write about English plans for them later.) For the next two years, I'm not sure yet if I'll just read through the Core B and C books like I did with Rebekah, or if I'll break down and get an instructor guide. My guess right now is that I won't, since I've already been through those books once and have a good grasp of what discussions to have. But starting with Core D, we are going all out, and doing the whole thing! Sonlight for real!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Update on Update on BFSU

Ok, I have posted my list of Discovery Education video links, correlated to BFSU lessons. It does not have all the lessons, even from just the first volume, but at least it's something! I will try to add to it over time. Click here to see this list, or click on "BFSU Links" above, under the title bar.

Update on BFSU

For science this past year, we started (finally) using Nebel's BFSU (Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding) curriculum. I last wrote about this back in December of 2011, so I need to give an update.

I still really love this curriculum, and think it is wonderful and comprehensive and accurate. It is a good fit for a more exploratory, hands-on style of learning, and is easily adapted to add more (or less) writing, books, videos, etc. It does take a bit of teacher preparation, depending on how much you want to add and how much you already know about science. If you're fairly competent at basic science, at least, then you could probably just open it up to a lesson and go through it with your kids, finding materials as you go for experiments or demonstrations, at least for most of the lessons. A little more preparation, like reading through the lesson first, will let you be more polished and cohesive in your lesson. And with a little more preparation, you can find videos and books to go along with the lesson to reinforce things and offer a different perspective. A few lessons will probably need materials you might need to get at a store or even order ahead of time.

We have a subscription to Discovery Education (through the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op), and so I decided to find videos to link to each lesson, covering at least a similar topic. I made my list into a file and put it on the kids' computer, so they can just open it up, click on the link they want, and watch the video. Sometimes the videos cover more than the BFSU lesson, or cover topics in a different order, or in some way aren't a complete match, but it still was very useful for my kids. They really love documentary-type videos. I plan to put my list on here soon for others to use, for at least the lessons I've done so far. I'm sure there are other sources of good videos too.

We did run into some problems using BFSU, though. The main issue was that my oldest, who is 8, got bored too quickly when I kept things at a level my 5 and 6 year olds could handle. She considered most of it to be below her (and a lot of it was, since she's done a lot of science already), and didn't really appreciate being lumped together with her younger siblings. I ended up just focusing the lesson on my younger children, and let her sit in the background doing whatever she wanted. I found that even though I told her she didn't need to participate, she still listened, especially when we covered something she hadn't heard before, or when we did an experiment or demonstration. It still didn't stimulate her as much as I would like, and I think she didn't get enough science this year (other than the resources she searched out herself - our bookshelf, and videos).

So, for next year, I will split them up, and do 2 different science classes - one for my oldest, and one for the younger 2. They may still listen to each other's lessons, but that will just be their choice.

Another issue was due mostly to me. I had a hard time scheduling lessons. I guess I need more structure. The free-flow method of BFSU - just picking a lesson to do next - didn't inspire me to prepare well enough. I did good at first, but then, especially as Rebekah zoned out, we did fewer and fewer lessons. I even had made a list of what order to do the lessons in, but we got sidetracked by other subjects too much, and science got pushed out. I think only scheduling it once a week was not good for us, since it was too easy to say, well, since we're busy/tired/bored, let's just do it a different day.

So, another change for next year is that I'm going to use something else as the main structure of our science plans, and just use BFSU to fill in where relevant. I'd still like to use most of BFSU, but we're going to try it differently this year, at least.

For my younger two, we are going to follow the schedule of Sonlight Science A, since I will be doing the Bible and history part of Core A with them this next year already. I will try to find which BFSU lessons might fit in with different topics, or we might just do BFSU on the side, when desired.

For my oldest, I asked her what main science topic she'd like to study this next year, and she said chemistry. So, I have pulled together a plan that combines many different resources, and will will do that 2-3 days a week. I have gotten a few chemistry experiment kits for us to do, and I will also go over the BFSU chemistry-releated lessons from Book 1 and Book 2, covering pre-requisites as needed. Other resources I am using are the sample lessons from R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey's Chemistry 1 course, Intellego Chemistry 1 and 2 for grades 3-5, and a selection of books from NOEO and Sonlight chemistry courses. I've made a lesson plan for the year, scheduling which chapters from which books and which experiments to do when. (I do like planning, I think I've said before.) I will make this plan available at some point, but I think I should go through it with my daughter this year first, since I'm sure we'll make changes along the way.

So, that's the plan, and my updated review of using BFSU. I will try to write more posts about science this next year as we get into it!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Shower Tile

Our shower walls have brownish tile with lots of waves and squiggles and color variations, and I often imagine seeing images in the tiles while I shower, sort of like looking for objects in the clouds. This morning, one section of tile looked like a little bird, maybe a sparrow or something. I observed it more closely, trying to determine what patterns made it appear that way, and noticed that a curve here, a protrusion of color here, and the overall shape and size just managed to convey the outline of a sparrow. It had just enough detail to draw the eye and brain into filling in the rest with the appropriate details. This is how graphic artists, or even all artists, produce the impression of an object with just simple lines and shapes and colors.

Then I noticed a collection of shapes just below the little sparrow, and saw, instead, an eagle soaring in flight. Wings outspread, talons grasping forward, head and sharp beak poised in solemn control – a perfect image of a bird of prey.

So which was it? A dainty sparrow, or an attacking eagle?

Well, neither – it was a shower tile.

I then had the thought that we view life like this a lot of the time. We see or hear the outline of something, some vague report of a new thought or philosophy or theological truth or conspiracy, and we fill in the rest with our eyes and minds. We see this, or we see that, and we attack those who see something different. While in reality, it’s more like a shower tile. It’s not a new thought or profound philosophical revelation. It’s just some basic, simple fact or observation which we have blown all out of proportion. We add so much of ourselves to simple observations that it is hard to back off and see just the basic truth. We like to make so much of everything (like me making a philosophical discussion about a shower tile) that we tend to obscure the truth.

Father, please grant me the ability to see simple truth, and not try to make mysteries out of everything!

There is simple, non-relativistic, truth out there, but generations of human thought have managed to obscure so much. Whether we are modern, old-fashioned, realistic, a dreamer, atheistic, agnostic, liberal, conservative, an all-encompassing tolerant, mystical, simplistic, or whatever other label people might put on us, we all have moments of non-truth. Now, imagination and speculation are wonderful things, I agree, and there is definitely a place for dreaming, but we need reality too. I long for the day when we will no longer see things dimly, but will see things plainly and clearly. Face to face.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

100th Post

According to my blog account, this is my 100th post! It seems appropriate to talk about math then, for this post, since it is of numerical importance.

We have been doing a lot of math lately, actually. I recently ordered some math manipulatives - unit cubes and tangrams. I've also stuck the MathTacular! video into the computer my 5-year-old son uses, and showed him how to play it.

So he's been playing it, and playing it, and playing it. I think he watched it for about 2 hours straight the other day, before I realized he was just sitting there for so long and made him go outside. ("Stop doing your math! Go outside and play!") He is enamored with Justin (the main actor in the video). He thinks he's hilarious. And I think my son has just about learned every kindergarten math concept in the past 3 days. He's been spouting out addition and subtraction facts, declaring numbers odd or even, counting up, counting down, counting by tens, and so on. I have MathTacular 2 and 3 also, and so my son has also watched the 2nd one, and enjoys it just as much. I think it's a little above him though, and he's mostly just watching it for Justin. I'm holding MathTacular 3 in reserve for later....

I have been thinking I would consider my son in kindergarten this next year, which is where he would be in public school, since he has a November birthday. But he has shown so much interest and improvement in math lately that I think I may go ahead and start him in Horizons Math 1 in the fall. After all, that's still quite a way off. I have some kindergarten workbooks, leftover from my girls, which I was going to use, but he may be already past those. They will be good practice off and on throughout this spring though, when he's not in preschool, and then in the summer. Then I'll check the readiness test for Horizons 1 and see if he's ready.

And yes, I've decided Horizons Math might be the best fit for him, and maybe for my middle daughter too. I did try Mathematical Reasoning this year for my middle daughter, after she grew frustrated and tired of CLE Math, and she loves the color and variety, but it just seems too disjointed to me, and doesn't flow well. There is little direct instruction too, but just problems. It is good for a supplement, and the more tricky problems are good to get kids to think about math differently, but I don't really like it for a complete program by itself. And it is rather expensive for a supplement.

I tried Mathematical Reasoning for my oldest daughter this year too, to supplement Life of Fred. I was worried that my daughter's computation skills were declining with just Life of Fred, so I wanted to add more worksheets. She likes parts of it ok, but she is really set on doing Life of Fred only. She stopped liking IXL Math after a month or two also, and would only do the simplest levels without protest.

And you have to understand, my oldest is incredibly stubborn. If she doesn't want to do something, she will protest mightily (usually by silently pouting, not with any loud demonstration), and if I force her, she will still learn absolutely nothing, and I will have wasted my time. So it is best for everyone to find something she likes. The more fun pages in Mathematical Reasoning she will do, but it was still not her favorite.

So I let her continue with just Life of Fred, and observed her math skills. What I found is that her ability to add and subtract multi-digit problems was actually improving, and her speed was increasing too. I would leave her with a "Row of Practice" to do (from Life of Fred), and she would finish long before I expected her to. And I found her knowing the answers to multiplication problems I didn't expect her to remember. All in all, I think Life of Fred is really going to work for her, with just a few additions of some word problem work (maybe I should try Singapore's Challenging Word Problems?). She is a reader, and a story-lover, and overall, my Charlotte-Mason style girl, so I guess Life of Fred is a perfect fit for her.

I did try some Miquon Math with my oldest too, and that was a total flop. Then I tried it with my middle girl - and she absolutely loved it! She is very active, and very hands-on and kinesthetic, so I guess it is obvious that the hands-on aspect of Miquon would appeal to her. She loves the Cuisinaire Rods - she was actually play-acting with them when I left her alone with a worksheet one day, making the rods talk to each other like with her dolls! ("I am a 2 and you are a 4, and together we are a 6!") I had been hesitant to try Miquon for a while, since it seemed complicated to teach, but once I actually just started using it, it was simple. The Annotated Lab Notes can be a lot to read at first, but once I realized that the information at the beginning of each section was just for me, and that I didn't need to figure out how to teach it all myself (the worksheets do that themselves), then it was simple. Plus, I've even been learning some math tricks I hadn't known before! Subtraction by place value is pretty cool.

So we've been doing mostly Miquon with her lately, with a few Mathematical Reasoning worksheets thrown in, but I do want to try Horizons with her next year. For one thing, Miquon only goes through about 3rd grade, so I'll need something else soon anyway. For another, she will like the colorful pages in Horizons as a nice contract to the single color Miquon worksheets. She is very quick at many things, if not gifted, so I think these 2 math programs together will be good for her. I'll have to give an update on what I think of Horizons after we've used it for a while.

So, Life of Fred for my oldest, Miquon and Horizons for my middle, and MathTacular and Horizons for my youngest. I may try Miquon for my youngest too (he's the one I originally got it for, after all), but we'll see. He didn't seem nearly as thrilled with the Cuisinaire Rods as I thought he would be. You may think me crazy to be trying out all these different math programs, especially since at the beginning of homeschooling, I was set on using one program only from start to finish, saying that jumping from one to another was counter-productive. Well, my youngest two are still mostly at the very beginning anyway. And I really love math. If I were to teach anything to other people's children, I think it would have to be math (or science, but I digress). I am loving experimenting with all these different programs just for myself. And, it is letting me find the best fit for each of my very different children.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Summer Is Coming

I almost considered turning the air conditioner on in my car today. It was stuffy, a bit humid, and it was about 78 degrees outside. I turned the fan up and rolled down the windows instead, but still, I am reminded that summer is coming. The weather report said it's supposed to be in the 80s tomorrow.

For those of you who live up north (anywhere north of Houston is North), you may be jealous of our warmth, and be thinking that the fact that summer is coming is a good thing. Well, you may be cooped up inside all winter with freezing cold outside, but we are cooped up all summer with unbearable heat outside!

I thought last summer might have been our last one in Houston, as my husband was looking for a new job. He was interviewed for a really promising one in North Carolina this past December, and we were starting to get our house ready to put on the market, but that job fell through, we recently found out, and we are back to square one. So we may end up spending another summer here after all. It's all still a little up in the air, as my husband is still looking for a job in various places. He doesn't need a job - he has a perfectly fine one, but he is eligible for early retirement this year, and so we decided it might be worth looking to try and move away from the Houston climate. (and it's ok for me to post this publicly, as his bosses know all about it anyway)

I have to admit, I love warm weather. 80-85 is about perfect for me. So as long as I have air conditioning in the summer when I want it, I'm really ok staying here. But I wouldn't mind losing the humidity either.

The near-move this past month or two is probably why I haven't blogged lately. At least that will be my excuse. Uncertainty about our plans has made planning extracurricular activities for the kids difficult too. I purposefully didn't sign the kids up for too much this school year, fearing that we might move half-way through. Now, it's about time to start signing up for the more popular programs for next year, and I'm not sure what to do. Pay a deposit now, and maybe have to lose the money later if we do move this spring or summer or fall? Wait until we know more, and risk the most interesting classes being full?

I bought a nice, large whiteboard last fall, which we are using for spelling, math, and many other things. For the longest time, I had it propped against a wall, and had the kids (and me) sit on the floor to use it. It was a bit awkward, but I didn't want to put more holes in the wall if we were going to put the house on the market soon. Well, when this recent job opportunity fell through, I decided to just go ahead and hang up the whiteboard. It's so nice to be able to stand at the board, and not sit hunched over to write on it!

I think we just need to trust that things will happen when they're going to happen, and not worry too much about planning ahead. I don't mean not to plan - I'm a devoted planner, after all - but just to not over-plan. Do what seems best right now, and don't worry about what else (or what two trillion potential possibilities) might happen later. I think God lets us see just as far as we need to, and wants us to trust Him for what's around the corner. He'll handle it. I don't need to worry about it. Plan, yes, but worry, no.

Summer is coming. That's a fact. But God's got it all under control.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Visual-Spatial Learners

A mailing list I follow had some recent questions and discussion about visual-spatial learners. I've heard of the term before, though I had never read much about it. The recent discussion seemed to have some relevance to my children, though, so I did a search on the term and found some interesting articles.

This article ( discusses what a visual-spatial learner is, and how they might have difficulties in school - at least traditional school.

This article ( has a wonderful comparison chart showing the typical differences between a visual-spatial learner and an auditory-sequential learner. The article focuses more on gifted visual-spatial children and how they learn best.

You know, I don't think any experts knew stuff like this back when I was growing up. At least, I hadn't heard of learning styles being discussed much, or how to best teach different children. But it is fascinating to read now, and I think I'm learning as much (or maybe more) about myself than about my children.

I remember in college, studying physics, coming to a conclusion around my junior year that I did not learn like most of the others in the class. I thought it was because I was female, and pretty much everyone else was male (there were 2 other women I remember in my classes). But I think now it might have been more this visual-spatial phenomena. I distinctly remember realizing that I needed to learn the big picture first. Learning the details first just didn't make sense to me, because I had to understand how everything was going to fit together first. I just couldn't wrap my mind around the concepts until I understood how they went together. In my year-long electromagnetism class, we studied electricity the first quarter, and then magnetism the second quarter. I was struggling considerably with electricity, but once we started on magnetism, it suddenly all clicked, and my grades shot up. The professor even noticed, and asked me to meet with him to figure out why I had suddenly seemed to understand it all now. He was a wonderful professor, and I think he wanted to know what he had done that made it easier for me, so that he could duplicate that type of teaching in the future. The main reason was that magnetism was the "other half" of the concept that I was missing during the first quarter. It is "electromagnetism" after all, and I couldn't make sense of it all until I could put both halves together.

Anyway, that seems to be a common issue with visual-spatial learners. Also, visual-spatial learners tend to think in pictures, not in words, and to have a hard time putting into words something that they seem to  instinctively understand. That describes me exactly. That is one reason I like writing much better than talking, and why I go over and over what I've written until it is right. It takes me a while to put my thoughts into words.

I am pretty sure my oldest child is also a visual-spatial learner, and probably my youngest too, based on that checklist of traits in the 2nd article I listed. I'm not sure about my middle child. She excels at everything so easily that she can probably learn both ways, so I'm not sure which describes her more. In any case, learning about things like this can help with homeschooling. It can help us pick the best curriculum (or method of teaching for any curriculum) for our particular children, and it can help us not be so frustrated when they don't learn things the way we think they should!