Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A Look Inside and a Life of Learning

I shared briefly in the previous post about this pocket journal, but it was brand new and I hadn't gotten a chance to use it yet! It has a different feel than some of the others so is worth some extra attention.

My 8 year old thought it looked amazing and she wanted to use it right away, but I personally think it would work best for possibly 6th grade and higher or for a child who loves to read a lot and isn't as into the coloring and drawing and much.  The small size makes it feel more doable and less intimidating for children who don't enjoy writing as much, or for adults who want a book to guide their own studies but don't have a ton of time to put towards them.

This post will give you a peek inside this journal and how it can look to use it, but since I was the one using it, I will also share how it can be used for a mom book.  Or some people say "awesome adulting" or other people call it being an example, or modeling how to learn for our kids.  Whatever you want to call enjoying being an adult and learning what YOU want to learn is what I am going to talk about.

You wouldn't have to color the borders and pictures at all if you didn't want to.  This book has date to date pages so it could be for 60 days as this says or you could do one set of date to date pages in a week.  This book will probably last me a year as I am only planning to do one set of date to date pages a week.
When I first filled out these pages I didn't do any coloring at all.  Actually today when I was watching a documentary and making dinner (on and off) was when I went back and added some color to the borders and pictures.  I love color so this makes me happy, and personally, I remember what I listen to better if I can color, doodle, or knit or something while I listen.
The setting up almost feels like it takes longer than actually doing a days worth.  Got to really think about what YOU would want to learn.  Us moms tend to lament that our kids aren't self directed in their learning, but we need to lead the way and get interested in our own stuff!
This is the page of specific books, but because I am reading aloud from our "morning basket" and doing math with my kids and other things that I am doing with them I decided to use most of this in combination with what my kids are learning!  Instead of trying to learn my own stuff totally seperate (which, who has time for that?) I decided that it would be beneficial to use this as a little bit of a record to write down highlights of what we are learning together and also those things that I find interesting as we do school!  The two books on the right side are my own "fiction" and "non-fiction" because I usual have a few going and need to be reminded that it is okay for me to read my own stuff and watch a documentary that I am interested in even in the middle of the day!  Sometimes we feel like we have to wait till all the kids are asleep or doing other things.  It is a good reminder to say that we aren't around to entertain them, and it is totally okay for them to feel bored while they see us enjoying our own rabbit trails of learning!
This book has a Bible spot for each date to date section.  When I use these pages I don't always do them in order.  Usually I go back and fill stuff in that I didn't get to at first.  You might have a student that would enjoy knowing they can do the days section of pages in any order.  If everything is getting done, does it really matter what order it comes in?  Of course there are some people that will want to do everything very much in order and that is fine too.
Before and after I colored (and doodled) on these pages.  I actually love the room to doodle!  I haven't yet gotten to the reading time page.  I more naturally like to copy down quotes and such though so I was more interested in seeing how the other pages could fit into my life and how we homeschool.
Because I am teaching math to my kids I have decided to use the little math section to write down some things that our "Life of Fred" book is talking about and I am sure I will write down other such notes about math related learning that happens here.  I could even use it for a tiny graph to keep track of points in a game!

Also while reading aloud today I hit on a few word that I didn't know well (or at all) and stopped the read aloud time so I could write down the word for myself and google their meaning!  I just marveled in them myself and my girls got to enjoy learning these new words (or not) with me as they chose.  I even got to tell my husband a word he had never heard (and he had JUST read this book, but hadn't bothered to take note of this new word!)  "Taradiddles" - and we hadn't heard this before because it is a British word.
So, yes, modeling learning can be as simple as being curious and writing down some words and looking up their meaning!  We do this in other ways too if we hear a name of an animal that we never heard of-- Out comes a Google search for pictures of that animal!

I had already pulled out the flash card page.  I am still kicking around ideas for how to use this page.  Obviously you can make your own flashcards, but of what?  Spelling words?  Bible verses?  Math equations?  Those are great ideas for the typical student, but for us moms... ?  Well, one idea that I had was writing notes to my girls and the littlest especially adored this!  Another idea that my 8 year old loved was just my giving her the page so she could make her own notes and letters for her toys to send to each other.  Great way to encourage writing in a playful way in our home!
This for instance (of how to use a graph paper math page) was from the other day!  For my 8 year olds math page in her "journal for 2" we played "Sushi Go" and made a graph of the score (in different ways.)  My 10 year old thought this was so brilliant that she pulled out her graph paper book (she uses it for bead loom designs) and we did another game and graphed the scores again! 

The creative writing page is pretty much already a thing I do on my own (just not regularly) so that feels easy to incorporate into my life.  The logic page I love!  I have been doing some of the dyslexic games pages along with my girls and they are so fun!  Great for aspiring artists of course and a good exercise for your brain.  Figure out the pattern and complete the picture (fill in the missing parts.)  They seem to match the style from the series C which was designed for ages 10 to adults.  (Yes, if you are an adult with dyslexia or dysgraphia you can use that series and it can be fun and beneficial!)  It is also fun and helpful for the more right brain dominant learners and artist like me too.

The logic page and also coloring can be a great thing to do while waiting for a kid (who is dragging their feet!) to finish solving a math problem... sort of helps one stay calm and patient if one has something nice to do.  This happens practically every time with one of my kids and I appreciate the extra help to stay calm.
The fiction and non-fiction books I am reading now are these.  "A Million Little Ways" has so many quotable quotes of encouragement!  The "Women of Christmas" because it is getting to be that time of year again and I haven't finished this book yet!  The Hobbit because I got all three movies from the library and watched a documentary on Tolkien and got to thinking how often I do this with my girls around a book we are reading but don't as often do this for myself.  I might switch to listening to the Hobbit as an audio book though.  "It's not Fair" is a new one, but fun and funny even though it talks about dealing with tough things in life.  And of course, gel pens which are great to color and doodle with, but I might need to find something with a finer tip for the actual writing as the gel pens made it difficult to write small enough.  

How many of us (likely!) have several books waiting on our shelves that we want to get to "some day" right?  I only have a hard time with having too many choices and needing to make the options more manageable.


I love how beautiful these journals are and how I can make them more beautiful by adding color to them as well.  It seems natural to me to recognize that our emotions around what we learn is essential.  If we were introduced to math in a negative way and decided that we hated it or aren't good at it then it doesn't matter as much later if we are just as capable as the next person at long division because the emotions around that bit of learning have effected us so deeply in a negative way.  Possitive experiences can be very powerful too! As I shared before about how much it meant to me to see my own Mom reading aloud so well and learning new skills on her own and other "awesome adulting" that she did.

Too often, I think we value "a rigorous curriculum" more than an individual child, right in the moment, needing a comforting hug or cup of tea or something to bring enjoyment and beauty to their work.  Creating an atmosphere where a love of learning is built happens by paying attention to the little moments and the ways we can bring joy and beauty to our own lives and our children's.  I like these books and share about them so much because I had been trying to make our homeschool be what this offers.  It doesn't mean every day my kids (and I) are all happy and joyful to do school, but adding beauty helps a lot.

An article I am reading now is about how emotions are tied to learning and how beauty effects us.

Even in academic subjects that are traditionally considered unemotional, such as physics, engineering, or math, deep understanding depends on making emotional connections between concepts. For example, one study using functional magnetic resonance imaging found that when mathematicians see equations that they judge to be “beautiful” and elegantly formulated instead of “ugly” and awkwardly formulated, they activate the same sensory, emotional brain region that activates during experiences of perceptual beauty, such as when admiring a painting.... In the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, we have found that this region also activates during experiences of moral beauty, such as those associated with feelings of admiration and compassion...... This and other evidence suggests that meaningful learning is actually about helping students to connect their isolated algorithmic skills to abstract, intrinsically emotional, subjective and meaningful experiences. Though supporting students in building these connections is a very hard job, it appears to be essential for the development of truly useful, transferable, intrinsically motivated learning.

Traditional school models like to take apart the subjects in school and put them all in heir boring little slots, and yet they are all connected.  You can learn and use art, math, language, history, and science all in the study of animals (for instance) and if you have a child who loves animals then this emotional connection is that wonderful sticking point and motivation to learn!  My 10 year old started using the "All about animals" journal that is in the video above and it is just the perfect level for her right now.  The other two journals she has started will just wait a bit for her to come back to and that is perfectly fine!  It is wonderful to see progress and interest and enjoyment in my girls school time!

I kind of wish I were working in my own journal rather than blogging about it, but I hope his post can help other people and possibly bring some encouragement as well.

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