Monday, August 15, 2016

Core Phase of Childhood Education: Age 0-8, and Always Thereafter

This post is the second in my Back-to-Homeschool Series for 2016.

As described in my previous post, there are three phases of learning in childhood and the early teen years and the prevalent conveyor belt model of schooling can hinder the advancement through these phases. The three phases are:
  • Core Phase, which focuses on character development and typically lasts from age 0 to 8 (or 9 in boys), 
  • Love of Learning Phase, which focuses on giving the child the opportunity to fall in love with learning and typically lasts from age 8 to 12 (or 13 in boys), and 
  • Scholar Phase, which focuses on the child studying a wide range of topics with increasing ability and commitment, and typically lasts from age 12 to 16 (or 17 in boys).
In this post, I will discuss Core Phase in more detail.

The Foundation For All Other Phases

Core Phase is the foundation upon which all the other phases are built. In Core Phase, the
"curriculum" is essentially the development of good character. This is accomplished through:
  • focusing on and improving family relationships, so that children feel loved and supported as individuals and know that their parents are "on their side",
  • participating in family work and responsibilities, wherein children learn how to be responsible and the inherent value of a job well-done,
  • being immersed in a home culture that demonstrates what it means to have good character, and
  • exposure to great books, music, and art in an environment where learning is celebrated and unpressured.

     

    Academics in Core Phase

    Academic pursuits are to be freely explored and enjoyed in Core Phase, without any pressure. This sets the stage for the following phase of learning, which is Love of Learning. Core Phase does not include forcing children to accomplish academic tasks such as reading, writing, and math.

    To readers who may feel panicked or uneasy at the idea of kids "falling behind" if they are not forced to do schoolwork at a young age, I would recommend these articles:

    Examples of Core Phase Activities

    To help readers get a better idea of what Core Phase looks like in practice, below are some examples of Core Phase activities.
    • Focusing on family relationships:
      • Spending lots of time together in daily home life as well as enjoyable activities such as playing games, circle time, going for walks, and visiting the zoo
    • Character development:
      • Being surrounded by people, and specifically parents, who demonstrate good character and an earnest desire to continually improve themselves
      • Giving the child lots of unstructured play time, wherein they have the opportunity to explore and understand who they are as well as the world around them
      • Exposure to books, audio books, and media that propagate good ideals and examples of good character
      • Discussing virtues while reading aloud books, such as when characters make poor choices or have tough decisions to make
    • Family work and responsibilities:
      • Working alongside each other to accomplish tasks such as dinner preparation, kitchen cleanup, and yard care
      • Teaching age-appropriate responsibilities such as getting dressed, feeding pets, and brushing teeth
      • Doing service as a family, such as helping an elderly neighbor, providing clothing to a homeless shelter, and helping at an animal rescue organization
    • Unpressured exploration of academic pursuits:
      • Following the children's interests, wherever they lead, with no pressure to continue when they lose interest
      • Helping children create a homeschool compass every 3-6 months
      • Making trips to the library, wherein the children are allowed to select picture books about a wide variety of topics (such as animals, vehicles, planets, etc.)
      • Enjoying nature study together, using things such as nature notebooks, microscopes, and field guides to encourage exploration
      • Playing math games such as Uno, Yahtzee, and Sum Swamp
      • Reading aloud math books such as Anno's Magic Seeds and Bedtime Math
      • Parents setting a good example by focusing on their own educations, reading, writing, etc. 

     

    My Experience With Core Phase in Our Homeschool

    I started out homeschooling with an intense focus on academics when my daughter was just 4&1/2 years old. By the time she was 6, she had lost her joy in learning. I had felt like there was such an urgent need to push the academics that I didn't have enough time to work much on her character development, because I didn't want to be pushing her all day long. Our relationship was suffering because of our interactions surrounding school work.

    Then I found Leadership Education.  It was hard for me to let go of the desire to keep pushing my daughter academically, but yet I knew that something needed to change. I started implementing Core Phase into our lives, and things started to shift. Being able to focus so much more on our relationship, and on building good character, resonated deeply for me. 

    It took a leap of faith for me to really stop pushing my daughter academically, and numerous other times when I had to re-commit myself to that principle. The conveyor belt mentality was so strong because I was raised within that system of education myself, and we are surrounded by it in this culture.  But, inch-by-inch, we made headway as I was able to change our priorities away from academics and onto improved relationships and character development. 

    The results have been amazing: my relationship with my daughter has improved, she has more time to enjoy her childhood, she loves home school, and she even loves math now. More importantly, she is a kind, sweet kid who has great character and fulfills her household responsibilities. She's 9 years old now, and she transitioned into the next phase (Love of Learning Phase) about a year ago.

    My son is now 6 years old, and still solidly in Core Phase. He has had the benefits of Core Phase since well before being school age, so he loves school, has good character, and is becoming increasingly responsible. He's right on track.

     

    Core Phase is Life-Long

    Core Phase does not end when the child transitions into the next phase (Love of Learning Phase).  The lessons of Core Phase, such as having good character and being responsible, are foundational to all other phases of life and learning. As described in Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, "Core Phase is always part of any other phase, and its neglect negatively impacts the student's whole education and life."

    When there is a pattern of repeated issues involving poor character (such as lying, shirking responsibilities, disrespect of parents, and unkindness), a weakness in the Core Phase is a likely cause. No matter how old the student is, revisiting the Core Phase is good starting place for correcting issues such as these.

    Parents transitioning from using the conveyor belt model of education into following the phases of learning should also start back at Core Phase, regardless of the age of the children. Once the foundation of the Core Phase is laid, the child will naturally transition into Love of Learning Phase. I will discuss Love of Learning Phase in more detail in my next post.

     

    Resources for Learning More About Core Phase

    Want to learn more about Core Phase? Check out these resources:

     

    Have you heard of Core Phase previously? Does it resonate with you as it did for me?



    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

    Sunday, August 14, 2016

    Improving Children's Education with Phases of Learning

    This post is the first in my Back-to-Homeschool Series for 2016.

    Do Children Learn Differently Than Adults?

    There has long been a debate about whether 1) children learn just the same as adults do, or 2) children progress through phases of learning that should ideally be taken into account in their educations. The first view has led to the development of our public school system, which essentially operates as a conveyor belt wherein all children are expected to learn all of the same things on a specific schedule.

    The second view of children's learning, wherein it is believed that children progress though different phases of learning, has been promulgated by psychologist greats such as Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget. This view of children's learning is at the heart of the Leadership Education philosophy. As described in Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, in this model of education it is affirmed that "children, youth, and adults actually learn differently and that this must be taken into account in the setup of their educational environment and in the approach of their parents, teachers and mentors."


    My Experience With Both Views of Childhood in Our Homeschool

    I started out our homeschooling trying to replicate the conveyor belt model of education, and focused on my daughter acquiring as much knowledge as possible, as early as possible. I was using a rigorous, classical schooling method within the framework of modeling our school after the conveyor belt-type school that I grew up with myself. After several years, this schooling approach led us to homeschool burnout, resulting in a 6-year-old daughter who no longer liked math or writing, and a mom who was wondering where it had all gone wrong.

    I started implementing the Leadership Education model into our homeschool 3&1/2 years ago, including its emphasis on honoring the different phases of learning throughout childhood. This model of education is leading us to much different results than the conveyor belt model of education did. Through my focus on making my educational methods and environment be appropriate to the phases of learning of each of my children, my kids are thriving in our homeschool. They love our homeschool so much that they both excitedly chose not to take any summer break in our schooling. My now-9-year-old daughter has had a complete turn-around in her attitude towards school, and I am feeling blessed to have found this method of schooling.

    What are the Childhood Phases of Learning?

    During the childhood and early teen years, there are three important phases of learning. When the phases of learning are respected and purposefully developed, they are:
    • Core Phase, which focuses on character development and typically lasts from age 0 to 8 (or 9 in boys), 
    • Love of Learning Phase, which focuses on giving the child the opportunity to fall in love with learning and typically lasts from age 8 to 12 (or 13 in boys), and 
    • Scholar Phase, which focuses on the child studying a wide range of topics with increasing ability and commitment, and typically lasts from age 12 to 16 (or 17 in boys).
    These phases of learning do not happen on their own. A child does not move from Core Phase into Love of Learning Phase into Scholar Phase just because they are getting older. Rather, these phases must be purposefully developed in order for the progression to happen.

    How the Conveyor Belt Schooling Method Hinders the Phases

    The prevalent conveyor belt model of education actually hinders the advancement through the childhood phases of learning because it often instills in the student a hate of learning instead of a love of learning. Even when there is not an overt hate of school or studying, students educated in the conveyor belt model typically come out of that system having learned to do the bare minimum required to pass tests, having killed their own passion for their own interests which they were never given the time to develop, and having bought into the mistaken idea that their own self-worth is tied into how well they perform in school and whether or not they get a "good job".

    I learned those same negative lessons in my own conveyor belt education, and they led me to an impressive career that was wholly unsatisfying to me. What was the point of being a NASA aerospace engineer for ten years, when engineering was never actually a true passion of mine? I suddenly realized what true passion felt like when I became a mother, and henceforth did everything in my power to enable myself to leave that illustrious career that I had worked so hard for.

    I want my kids to have a different future than the conveyor belt model leads to. Instead of going to school with the ultimate end goal of getting a "good job", I want their educations to support them as individuals, to enable them to develop their own unique talents, so that when they go out into the world they are able to follow their passions and find their own life missions. One big component of reaching that goal is honoring my children's phases of learning as they grow up.


    Want to Learn More About the Specific Phases?

    You can learn more about Core Phase here.

    I'll be writing more about the other two childhood/early teen phases of learning (Love of Learning Phase and Scholar Phase) over the coming weeks. 



    Have you heard of the Phases of Learning? Do you have any experience to share about kids and how they learn at different ages?



    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

    Friday, August 5, 2016

    Dressing For Positive Body Image - Including Before and After Pictures

    This is the final post in my series on positive body image.

    I've never been much into fashion, makeup, and jewelry. I never really liked clothes' shopping, as it always seemed so hard to find clothes that fit my petite-yet-curvy proportions. Often, I'd end up buying clothes that fit fine, but that I seldom wore. Part of my underlying body image dissatisfaction was the feeling that finding the right clothes was hard, and that some styles that I admired on others never felt quite right on me. But I didn't know why.

    A couple years ago I ran across the "Dressing Your Truth" program, which is designed to help people dress according to their energy type. It includes guidance for clothes, hair, makeup, and jewelry for each energy type. This was intriguing to me. Could it be possible that the reason I never liked fashion was because I was going about it all wrong? Could it be that there was value in such a program?




    Spending Money on Learning How to Dress?!?


    I've blogged a few times about how energy typing has greatly improved my marriage and my parenting skills. Well, it all started with me finding the Dressing Your Truth (DYT) program. I took a headfirst dive into learning about the energy types and found so much value in being able to better understand myself, my family, and friends.

    Yet I vacillated on whether or not to buy the Dressing Your Truth program. I didn't want to spend the money; what if this program didn't work for me? I was skeptical about whether it would work, but I had found the energy type information to be so valuable that I kept wondering about DYT. Since I was on the mailing list, I finally received an offer that the DYT course was on sale for $99. My sister-in-law was willing to split the cost with me (since we are both Type 3's).

    So I finally bought the DYT Type 3 course. That $50 has been one of the best purchases I've ever made. It would have been worth the $99 price, too. (And probably much more, but I could never stand to spend hundreds of dollars on something as inconsequential as "fashion".)

    Now for the Before and After...

     

    Before Dressing Your Truth







    After Dressing Your Truth

     



    Life After DYT


    Dressing for my energy type has been life-changing. Shopping is easier because I know exactly what I'm looking for. Getting dressed is easier because, even though I have fewer clothes than I used to, I love everything I have. And best of all: dressing for my energy type makes me feel great. I actually feel more energetic when I am dressed for my energy type, and I can really tell a difference when I am not dressed for my type as I feel sluggish and "blah".

    When I am dressed for my energy type, I don't feel dressed up; rather, I just feel like I'm being myself. This has helped my body image, too, because I feel content with the clothes and style I'm wearing. Dressing as a Type 3 with a secondary Type 2 just suits me!

    Life after DYT is also different in that random strangers will complement my appearance. That is not something that used to happen. Several people I know have said that I look younger, and I have seen the same in friends who have are also dressing for their energy type with DYT. One friend summed up the change in my appearance by saying she just thought my life must have been going very well lately, because I seemed different.

    DYT has been so tremendously beneficial for me that I recommend it to everyone. It is such a wonderful resource for being true to ourselves and reflecting our true selves in our outward appearance.

     

    More Resources About Dressing Your Truth

    Want to know see more Dressing Your Truth makeovers? Check out these videos and articles:

    Type 1 Makeover
    Type 2 Makeover 
    Type 3 Makeover 
    Type 4 Makeover 
    Free Energy Profiling Course to Determine Your Type
    Dressing Your Truth Course
    3 Live DYT Makeovers of Grandma, Mom, and Daughter

    Have you heard of Dressing Your Truth? Do you feel content with you style and fashion?

    Sunday, July 24, 2016

    Promoting a Positive Body Image in My Daughter

    This post is the second in a series about positive body image.

    I think there is way too much emphasis in our culture on physical appearances. Already overly-thin
    models are airbrushed to make them look even thinner and yet with larger chests. Normal events such as aging take on a dark cast, as we are told again and again that the normal processes of aging such as wrinkles and gray hair are not okay. It would be a rarity for a girl to grow up in this culture and feel completely content with her own appearance.

    Having grown up with my own insecurities about my appearance, I want things to be different for my daughter. She is now 9 years old, and just coming up on the age when I first became self-conscious about my own body. I want her to accept herself as she is, to not be overly fixated on her appearance or judge herself as inferior just for looking the way she was made. I may not be able to prevent appearance-related insecurities altogether, but I'm certainly going to keep trying to make it happen. This post is about the steps I'm taking to allow my daughter to grow up feeling content with her appearance and yet not overly focused on her appearance.

    Don't Focus on My Daughter's Appearance

    One of the most basic ways I am teaching my daughter to not be overly focused on her own appearance is by not focusing on her appearance myself. I'm sure I have told my daughter she is pretty perhaps a handful of times in the 9+ years of her life, but this is not something I comment on regularly with her. In her book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, Meg Meeker MD writes about the damaging effects of focusing on a girl's appearance. When we repeatedly focus on our child's appearance (whether through positive or negative words), the child gets the message that their appearance is very important, and that their intrinsic self-worth is related to their appearance. This kind of thinking can be a huge factor in the development of eating disorders. I choose not to propagate the message that physical appearance is important with either of my children, instead focusing on traits such as honesty, kindness, and perseverance when I want to praise them.


    Don't Talk About My Own Appearance in a Negative Light

    For good or bad, whatever my kids see and hear me do repeatedly, they will be likely to do themselves. If I talked abut my own body and appearance in a negative tone, I would likely start to hear my kids do the same. I have seen this happen numerous times with mothers and daughters: mothers who frequently berate their own appearance have daughters who do the same. I purposely do not talk about my own appearance in a negative light. This benefits my own self-esteem as well as my daughter's.


    Limit Media and Exposure to Commercials

    Our society's preoccupation with appearance can be seen very clearly in video media, internet ads, and especially commercials.  Through those outlets, we are clearly told that we need to correct ourselves to look more like the "beautiful" people, through things like hair-dying, anti-aging products, dieting, tooth whitening, and the like. Repeatedly exposing ourselves to those messages serves to undermine any attempts at being content with ourselves and our appearance.  I purposely limit my children's (and my own) exposure to these influences so that we do not become overly preoccupied with our looks or judge ourselves harshly.


    Guard What is Coming Into Our Home

    Even checking the mail afforded opportunities for my children to become overly focused on appearances. A few years ago, I ordered undergarments from Victoria's Secret, only to then start receiving catalogs in the mail on a regular basis which were filled with images of scantily-clad, overly thin models. Something inside me revolted when my young daughter went to check the mail and returned carrying a VS catalog, which of course she had looked at on the way back from the mailbox. So I searched for the not-easy-to-find place on their website where I could unsubscribe from all mailings, and I will have to do so again in the future if I ever order from them again. 

    I also purposely do not read magazines that propagate the messages that we must be beautiful in a certain way. I know that anything I bring into the house would certainly be looked at and read by my children, so I purposely do not read those types of publications.


    Home Schooling

    One of the unfortunate aspects of the school environment is the focus on appearances.  During my own childhood, I remember kids at school (including myself) becoming overly focused on appearances and what others were wearing. Kids were teased for looking different or for wearing clothes that weren't "cool". This would likely be exacerbated nowadays with the current bombardment of appearance-related images and videos that we can all be exposed to. 

    While this is not the primary reason that I homeschool, it is certainly an added benefit that my kids are not being exposed to the school culture that includes such a high focus on appearances. My kids do have friends that they socialize with regularly at homeschool group activities, but I've never heard any of the kids talking about appearances in a negative light. The closest I've seen to any focus on appearances was one child admiring another's shirt.

     

    Discuss Appearance Issues At Opportune Moments

    As we go about our normal lives, opportunities arise when I can talk about body image with my children.  I purposely take time to discuss this with my children at those times. For instance, in reading the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, we talked about how absurd it seemed that as a young girl Laura was jealous of her sister Mary's blond hair. In the later books, as Laura moved into young adulthood, she complained of her own appearance and longed to be more long-and-lithe like some of her friends.  My children and I discussed this, as well.

    In these discussions, I make the point that there are things that we can change about ourselves and there are other things that just are as they are.  For instance, we can work on learning to control our tempers, on learning to persevere when things get tough, and on choosing to serve others instead of ourselves.  But the overall shape of our bodies, the color of our hair and eyes, the color of our skin: these are things that are just part of how we are made, and choosing to be dissatisfied with those is pointless and can even be damaging. My hope is that these discussions will help my children keep a healthy perspective on themselves as they grow older.

    Creating Contentment

    My goal in all of this is to help my children be content with themselves, and to learn that there are much more important things to focus on than their appearances. There may be more challenges to this as my children grow older, but with this foundation laid I hope that they will have a more positive experience in adolescence and early adulthood than I had myself.  I will continue to find ways to promote positive body image and less focus on appearances as the years go on, because I think this is an important aspect in teaching my children to be kind to themselves and others as they mature.

     

    Do you have any tips for promoting a positive body image in children? Or have any experiences to share?

     

    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

     

    Thursday, July 14, 2016

    Cultivating a Positive Body Image

    This post is the first in a series about positive body image. 

    8th grade - I hated looking younger than everyone else







    A Pattern of Discontentment

    From adolescence onwards, I was never quite satisfied with my body and appearance. In the early years, it was that I was too short and looked too much like a little child. I was a "late bloomer" in that I didn't start menstruating until just before I turned 15 years old. Combine that with being younger than most of the kids in my grade, and the stage was set for having body image issues.

    As I moved on into adulthood, I could still always find plenty to be dissatisfied about in my appearance: my freckles, my lack of 6-pack ab muscles no matter how much I worked out or how slim I was, the gap between my front teeth, my different proportions compared to the "ideal". And after becoming a mother, I could easily find ways to be discouraged in my appearance, with my new stretch marks, bigger hips and abdomen than before pregnancy, and an overall different shape than pre-pregnancy.
    2008 - early motherhood

    Although my negative body image was never severe, and never caused me to do anything drastic, it was like a splinter wedged under my skin, that inexorably kept poking me for over 20 years. Did I really want to let that splinter keep festering for the next 50 or 60 years?

     

    Deciding to Change

    A couple years ago I had an epiphany: I could just decide to let go of being dissatisfied with my body.  I could decide to be content with being as I am, knowing that I take good care of my body by eating a healthy diet and getting a good amount of physical activity. Rather than continuing to be unhappy with my appearance for the rest of my life, I could just decide to let it go!

    This was a big shift for me. I made the decision to stop the internal self-criticism of my appearance, and promised myself that I would be happy to be just as I am. It was a tearful, sweet moment when I looked in the mirror and told myself that I was fine, just as I am. That I am just as I was made to be. That I would love and accept myself, just as I am.

    Content to be me in 2016

    Settling in to Contentment

    Making the decision to change how I viewed myself has been one of the best self-care steps I have ever taken. Although there have been a few times when I have seen myself shifting back into that old negative thought pattern, by reaffirming my decision to accept myself, I have been able to quickly shift back into being content. Making the conscious choice to change this aspect of myself really has worked and allowed me to live the last couple years feeling happier and more whole.

    In future posts in this series on body image, I will share how I am actively promoting positive body image in my daughter and the life-changing system that has revolutionized my wardrobe and appearance.

    Do you harbor negative thoughts about your own appearance that are keeping you from finding joy?  What has helped you overcome negative body image?

    Monday, June 27, 2016

    Book Review: The Child Whisperer

    In the 9+ years that I've been a mother, I've read many parenting books. Among the parenting books I've read in the last few years, one stands out far above the others: The Child Whisper: The Ultimate Handbook For Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children by Carol TuttleOver the last two years since I read this book, it has really improved my life and my relationships with my children.

    What Is Unique About This Parenting Book?

    Most parenting books provide one-size-fits-all guidance for raising children.  The Child Whisperer is different. Instead of giving guidance that can be applied to all children, it seeks to give parents an understanding of different types of children.  By focusing more on understanding each of the different types of children, this book lays a strong foundation that can be used for parenting children who are very different from each other. 

    One of the things that really surprised me as a parent was how different my son and daughter are.   They move through life differently, they need different things, and they react to corrections differently. Techniques that work for one of them often do not work for the other. The Child Whisperer has finally given me the framework to understanding my children, and how they are different from each other as well as myself. By knowing more about who they are as individuals, I am able to parent them each uniquely, and am better able to meet their needs.

    The Different Types of Children (and Adults, Too)

    The Child Whisperer describes four energy types that apply to children as well as adults. For children, the four types are summarized as follows:

    image from http://thechildwhisperer.com/getting-started/

    One thing I love about using Carol Tuttle's four energy type system is that it is much bigger than just a personality profiling system.  When determining a person's energy type, a person's body language and facial features are actually used in addition to personality and tendencies. This method seems to really capture the essence of each person, and that allows for a much greater understanding of each other.

    Practical Tips for Each Type

    Once the foundation of each energy type is laid out, The Child Whisperer includes tips for parents in supporting their children by gender and at different ages (Baby, Toddler, Pre-schooler, School Age, and High Schooler). The Child Whisperer provides insights into the learning and developmental tendencies of each type, and provides guidance on how to help each type develop their own unique gifts. One of my favorite sections in the book is the list of the Top 10 Things each type needs from their parents.

    Understanding My Children

    Understanding my children's dominant and secondary energy types has allowed me to finally
    understand them at a much deeper level so that I can support them as individuals. Previously, I would often get frustrated at certain aspects of both of their personalities, mostly because they were different from myself and the way I do things. Now I am able to look at them from a perspective of understanding who they are and how they move through life, and that makes such a huge difference in having a happy, well-functioning household.


    Here are some examples of how The Child Whisperer has made me a better parent:
    • I am a Type 3 with a secondary Type 2 energy. With my dominant Type 3 nature, I tend to move through life with swift determination, and love getting things done. With my secondary Type 2 nature, though, I am emotionally sensitive and love connecting with family and friends.
    •  My daughter is a Type 1 with a secondary Type 2 energy. I used to get frustrated with the fact that she would start a gazillion different projects, but finish hardly any of them. I would often tell her that she wasn't allowed to start anything else new until she finished her other projects. Well, it turns out that Type 1's have a gift for ideas. Ideas are the Type 1's gift to the world! I was imposing my own nature (that naturally wants to finish things) onto her; in doing so, I was stifling her own gift for having many new ideas. Now, I allow her to start as many different projects as she'd like, and instead of trying to make her finish them all, I help her learn to determine which projects are important enough to her that she would like to finish them. 
    • My son is a Type 2 with a secondary Type 4 energy.  Before learning about the energy types, I would very often tell him to hurry up, and would get frustrated that he seemed to take so long with tasks such as getting dressed, eating, getting buckled into the car, and many others.  After learning about the energy types, I realized that my son naturally has a much slower movement than I do. That doesn't mean that either of us is "wrong"; we're just different. Now I make sure to give him plenty of time for tasks, and I make sure to find other things to do while I am waiting for him so I don't get impatient and keep hurrying him.
    • With her fun-loving Type 1 nature, my daughter likes to turn everything into a game. With my own get-it-done mentality, I was often frustrated by this aspect of her personality, and would tell her to stop messing around. Now that I know about the energy types, I try to give her more freedom to find her own fun ways to accomplish things. I definitely still have some room for improvement with this, but I'm trying to support her nature. 
    • With his Type 2 nature, my son naturally plans things out in advance. His plans are very important to him, and with his Type 4, more serious secondary nature, he does not take it lightly when his plans are interrupted. Obstructed plans were the main cause of many of my son's emotional upsets, but I didn't quite understand that until I read The Child Whisperer. Now I can respect his plans, and let him take part when those plans need to change (often after giving him some alone time to process that there needs to be a change). This has made a tremendous difference in the number of emotional meltdowns.
    These are just a few examples of how The Child Whisperer has helped us. It has been a real game-changer. Our relationships are better and I am now able to help my children overcome the challenges unique to each of their types, instead of trying to mold them to be more like myself.  I can't recommend this book enough!

    Have you read The Child Whisperer? What is your favorite parenting book?



    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

    Monday, June 20, 2016

    Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Chocolate chip cookies are such a classic recipe, and for good reason. The chocolate is melty, in a chewy, sweet base of cookie dough. Mmmm.

    I like baking cookies with Einkorn flour. Einkorn is an ancient variety of wheat that has never been hybridized. It is naturally lower in gluten and higher in protein than modern wheat. Combined with butter, sucanat, sugar, and chocolate, this is an stupendous cookie.

    I like to make these cookies using a combination of sucanat and sugar for the sweetener, for classic chocolate chip cookie flavor. However, sucanat can be used exclusively if you prefer to stick with only unrefined sweeteners.

    Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Makes about 32 cookies
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, baking soda, and Einkorn flour. Whisk it all together to break up any lumps.
    3. In another bowl (or stand-mixer), beat the softened butter, sucanat, and sugar together for a couple minutes, until well mixed and slightly lighter in color.
    4. In the meantime, combine the egg and vanilla extract in a small bowl. (I find that a Pyrex glass measuring cup works great for this because the pour spout makes it easy to add these ingredients to the mixer while it is running.) Do NOT mix up the egg at this point.
    5. Once the butter, sucanat, and sugar have become lighter in color, mix in the egg. With my stand-mixer, I can just pour in the egg while the mixer is still running.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated well.
    6. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is combined. Do not overmix this recipe, since there is gluten in the Einkorn flour and overmixing gluten results in tough baked goods.
    7. Mix in the chocolate chips. 
    8. Scoop the cookies onto greased cookie sheets (or line the cookie sheets with exopats, which are wonderful since the cookies never stick and are less likely to burn).  I like to use a 1-Tb scoop for consistently pretty cookies, but you could just use a spoon. Flatten the cookies slightly with the back of a spoon (or your fingers).
    9. Bake the cookies at 350 F for about 10-12 minutes. They are done when the edges are golden brown. Watch these closely, as extra time in the oven will make these cookies crunchy instead of chewy. If you have to cook subsequent batches on an already-warmed cookie sheet, start checking them for done-ness a couple minutes earlier.
    10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.
    11. Once cool, store these cookies in an airtight container.  They can be stored at room temperature or in the freezer if you won't be eating them all in the next few days.  When eating these cookies from the freezer, I like to re-warm these cookies briefly in a toaster oven, for ooey gooey chocolate yumminess. Storing them in the freezer will also remove the pressure of having to eat them all in a week or so, as they will last for months in the freezer. 


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    Thursday, June 16, 2016

    Homeschool World-Trip Without Leaving Home

    Although we homeschool year-round, each summer I like to shift the focus of our homeschooling a bit. Some years, we have focused more on music and art, other years we have focused more on learning to swim, and other years we have focused more on nature study. This summer, I'm planning for us to take a trip around the world, but we'll do it without leaving home.

    Taking a World Trip Without Leaving Home

    To accomplish our world trip, I will be bringing together elements from different cultures around the world.  I plan to incorporate books, art, music, and recipes for each destination on our world trip.
    This should be an engaging and entertaining way for us to learn about different cultures around the world.


    Books That Highlight Different Cultures

    The inspiration for our Homeschool World Trip came from three books that have recently come into our home:
    • "Hungry Planet: What the World Eats" by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio - This large book, filled with full-color photographs, shows what people around the world eat. While it focuses specifically on each family's weekly groceries, it also includes family recipes and a glimpse into the culture in each country.  
    • "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" by Peter Menzel - Like "Hungry Planet", this is a large book filled with full-color photographs. Instead of focusing on food, though, this book highlights the possessions and living conditions of people around the world. 
    • "Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time" by Jamie C. Martin - This book contains a wealth of information about books that give kids global perspective.  It includes over 600 children's book recommendations, categorized by different continents or areas of the world.
    With these three books in-hand, it seemed like the next logical step to go on a virtual world tour with my children.  Each week, we will focus on a different country or region of the world. I will focus on places that are highlighted in "Hungry Planet" and "Material World", and will choose children's books from "Give Your Child the World" to supplement each location that we are exploring. 

    Music and Art From Around the Globe

    To broaden our perspective, I will be including art and music from around the globe during our world tour. I will feature international artwork in our ever-changing living room Art Appreciation display. We will also be digging further into art using Khan Academy's Art History resources, which include videos about art from many areas of the world. For music, we'll be relying on the World Music CD's available at our local library.

     

    Recipes from Around the Globe

    To get a taste of foods from around the world, we'll be trying out some of the recipes from "Hungry Planet", checking out books from the library about world cuisine, and sampling some of the international foods that are available at local restaurants. This will be a fun way to try out new foods, and perhaps find some new family favorites.

    Language, Geography, and Science

    We will also be spending a little time learning about the language, geography, and flora/fauna of each region that we visit on our World Tour. My daughter's eyes lit up when I asked if she would want to learn some simple phrases in the different languages from each region, as she thinks it will be so fun to speak to each other in different languages. I'll be relying on the internet to give us simple phrases in the languages spoken in each area. For geography, flora, and fauna, I'll be relying on library books. I generally find that the books in the adult section of the library are the best for finding beautiful, large pictures.

     

    Putting It All Together

    Our World Trip will be a fun way to expand our horizons this summer. I'll likely need to spend an hour or so each week planning out our world explorations for the coming week, but it should be well worth the time.  We're looking forward to the fresh, new experience of our summer World Tour.

    Let me know if you are interested in seeing which specific resources, recipes, books, and CD's we end up using for each destination on our Homeschool World Trip.

    Are you going on any trips this summer? What do you do differently during the summer in your home educational environment?

     

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    Monday, June 13, 2016

    Peach, Goat Cheese, and Basil Appetizer (grain-free : gluten-free)

    With summer in full swing here, we are starting to find locally grown summertime fruits at the store. Early peaches have arrived, much to our delight.  I have crafted a very simple, delicious appetizer that combines peaches, fresh basil, and chevre (goat cheese). Yum!

    Peach, Goat Cheese, and Basil Appetizer
    1. Slice the peaches and pick some basil leaves.
    2. Place one basil leaf on each cracker. Top with a couple crumbles of goat cheese and a slice of peach.
    3. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Add a small drizzle of honey if the peaches are not very sweet.
    4. Serve and enjoy!


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    Friday, June 10, 2016

    Why I Purposely Eat Both Refined and Whole Grains

    There is much hype these days about eating whole grains. Breads, crackers, and cereals are covered with labels about their whole grain content. Amidst this, why do I purposely eat a combination of refined and whole grains?


    Whole Grains in Traditional Diets

    Weston A. Price's research into traditional diets around the globe showed that people who eat  nourishing, traditional foods have much better health than those who eat modern foods.  Rami Nagel's more recent research has increased our knowledge of traditional diets, and has uncovered the fact that, in traditional diets, much of the bran and germ from whole grains was actually discarded when the grains were ground into flour. It seems that the people knew, not from scientific research, but perhaps through experience and intuition, that there are parts of grains which are not nutritious and even act as anti-nutritients. Nowadays we have a name for the anti-nutrient in grains that is of most concern: Phytic Acid.
    image from ask.com

    Phytic Acid - Whole Grains' Dirty Little Secret

    Whole grains are touted to be higher in nutrients than refined grains, and it is true that they do have more potential nutrients than refined grains. However, whole grains also contain phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient because it can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. This is why, in some cases, eating a lot of whole grains can actually have a detrimental effect on health, and lead to increased cavities.

    Yet, traditional peoples the world-'round knew to discard much of the bran and germ from whole grains, thereby reducing the phytic acid content of their food. By reducing the phytic acid content of grains, they were likely able to assimilate more of the nutrients in their food. In Rami Nagel's research, he found that "the calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium in diets made up with 92 percent flour (almost whole wheat) were less completely absorbed than the same minerals in diets made up with 69 percent flour (with a significant amount of bran and germ removed)".

    Sprouting, Souring, and Soaking to Neutralize Phytic Acid

    image from wildyeastblog.com
    In addition to discarding much of the bran and germ from whole grains, people in traditional cultures purposely used techniques such as soaking, souring, and sprouting in the preparation of grains. Now, we have scientific research which clearly shows that soaking, souring, and sprouting whole grains reduces their phytic acid content. The bottom line is that, in ancestral diets, people purposely discarded parts of the whole grains, and they used soaking, souring, and sprouting to increase the nutrient value of the grains they consumed.

    The vast majority of "whole grain" foods sold in stores are missing these vital steps which would reduce the phytic acid. When whole grains are consumed without these special preparation techniques, it is possible that the phytic acid in the grains can actually lead to worse health, as the vital nutrients in food won't be able to be used by the body. So instead of having increased nutrition due to their whole grain content, such whole grain foods can actually lead to nutrient deficiencies!

    How My Family Eats Refined and Whole Grains

    Grain-based foods form a significant part of my son's and my diet.  (My husband and daughter both still do best eating little or no grains, so they only eat grains occasionally.) Given unlimited time and resources, I would do as they did in traditional cultures by grinding fresh whole grains, discarding much of the bran and germ, and then soaking or sprouting the grains prior to cooking them. But the reality is that, over the last few years whilst homeschooling and practicing homeopathy, I have chosen to spend less time in the kitchen. There are too many competing priorities for me to spend hour upon hour preparing food each day. (Been there, done that, during the GAPS Diet, and I do NOT miss spending an average of 6 hours per day in the kitchen.)

    So, instead of making all of my own bread and grain-based foods, I often rely on storebought items. I still try to roughly replicate what was done in traditional cultures, though, by doing the following:
    • My son and I eat a combination of refined grains and whole grains, so that the overall balance is more similar to what was consumed in traditional cultures.
    • I ensure that most of the whole grains we eat have been prepared with sprouting or soaking to neutralize the phytic acid anti-nutrient.

     

    Our Current Favorite Grain-Based Products

    The storebought grain-based items we currently rely on are:

    In my home-prepared, grain-based foods, I rely on the following:
    I feel like I have found a happy medium between the techniques used by traditional cultures and our modern-day lives. Within this framework, I don't worry much about getting things perfectly right. Stressing out over food is likely just as detrimental to health as eating poorly, so I strive for a relaxed attitude within our mostly-nutritious diets. 

    Do you eat grains? Did you know about phytic acid - whole grains' "dirty little secret"? What have you found works best for you? 

     

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