Archive for the ‘Teaching Tips’ Category

When to STOP READING to your Child

February 15, 2014

Family reading.Something amazing happened in our house recently. The challenging process of learning our letters and sounding out each one is long behind us. My youngest child is thirteen, and she’s a strong reader. My other children are twenty and twenty-four. So it’s been quite some time since I read aloud to my children.

Shared Reading Time



Refried Beans And Molasses

February 11, 2013

PHOTO-Refried Beans“Here’s your breakfast!” said Mom, as she cheerfully placed in front of her awakening children a plate covered with smooth refried beans and a little dollop of molasses.

The children went suddenly silent. This was new. However, they had been taught not to complain, so they dutifully ate what was put before them. Yet, each secretly looked forward to lunch.

At noon the children eagerly waited to see what tasty treat Mom would produce. Once again there appeared another plate of refried beans and molasses. Lunch was a rather quiet affair, except for Mom, who burbled quite happily about giving only the best to her family.

Dinner … same story.

Three days and nine meals later, Dad finally spoke up. (more…)

MATH-in-MOTION Mondays-Changing it Up

November 26, 2012

Sometimes it’s not about the math. Often, our kids are perfectly capable of handling the math concepts in front of them. They’ve done it before. It’s very familiar. In fact, that can almost be part of the problem.
How’s that–you ask?

Well, if they are learning a new concept, they have to focus really hard to learn it. The newness of it may be enough to keep them paying attention. But when the math skill being reviewed is one they fully understand and have seen many times before. . . they may be more likely to lose their focus.

That’s when you need some ideas in your arsenal that add an element, making the old new again.
That usually involves motion, or fun, or both!

Here are some ways to take a traditional math lesson and change it up a bit. (more…)

MATH-IN-MOTION Mondays — Minor Motion

November 5, 2012

Here’s what you typically hear for “keeping your child focused”–
Clear your desk
Sit still.
Feet flat on the floor.
Elbows near your sides.
Be silent.
Breathe deep.
Exhale slowly.
Get ready to work.
Now. . .focus, focus, focus.

Isn’t this what we typically hear as instructions on how to focus?
And for most kids, this might be useful advice. <though I remain skeptical>
But for the Sizzler, this simply won’t work. It can’t.
They have a movement requirement as part of their learning process.
Truth is. . . (more…)

The Best Teaching Advice No One Ever Told You

October 17, 2012

Be quiet. That’s right. Stop talking sometimes, especially at critical thinking moments. This is one of THE hardest things for me to do. Here’s how I typically get it wrong.

“So Glenn, you’ve got two fractions and you need to divide one by the other.”

He begins to think. He’s working it out in his brain. He’s sorting. Accessing. Processing.

But before he’s able to complete the newly forming thought, a little mommy bird begins chirping in his ear.

“Do you remember?”

“What’s the rule again?”

“Think. There’s something special you need to do.”

“How does that little math rhyme go again?”

Peck. Peck. Peck. (more…)

APPS for Sizzlers

August 16, 2012

When it comes to APPS, I am clueless, hapless, and most certainly APP-less. That’s because I haven’t yet crossed over into iPad and Smart phone territory. But I’m hearing the praises of these devices all over the place. So we put out a call for apps you like so that others may hear of them. We got a couple of suggestions. But one Sizzle Bop member gave such a wonderfully helpful (and organized response) that I think we should give her/him a round of applause <begin clapping now.> Seriously, it was an amazing resource that was sent in.

So, for all of you who are APP-savvy, this is for you.
The rest of us will join you just as soon as we’ve taken our horse and buggy to the barn. (more…)

New Curriculum Survey-Results are IN!

August 4, 2012

We asked thousands of parents with highly distractible, brain-cells-off-the-trail kids just what materials they like to use in their homeschool. It’s not about what curriculum is most popular in mainstream homeschooling or who has the biggest advertising budget. The question we asked is WHAT WORKS? The answers are posted on this blog. Visit our Curriculum Survey Results by clicking the link HERE or going to our main pages and looking RIGHT– where you’ll see “Curriculum Survey Results” Happy hunting.

A Different Kind of Writing Class

September 1, 2011

Dog typing Pictures, Images and Photos There are a bazillion writing programs out there. And there is usually something of value in each of them. I’ve tried many of them, with mixed success, depending on the particular child, their age, what they had for breakfast, and the current tilt of the moon.

But I’m going to share with you the most successful writing program we ever used. And the good news is. . .you won’t need to buy a thing.

The place where my kids got stuck it seemed was on starting.
And then producing.
They had great ideas, but they never got beyond that.
They were waiting for inspiration.
They had writer’s cramp.
They had writer’s block.
They had a cramp in their writer’s block.

I grew weary of the excuses.
I just wanted them to write.
I didn’t even care if they said anything worthwhile.
I just wanted them writing.

And that’s when it hit me. (more…)

Letting Go of the TEACHER in You

July 3, 2011

Ever think about quitting homeschooling?

Yeah. Me too. The question is. . .when you get to that point, what do you do next?
Take a look at a note from a mom who is right at the crossroads.

I am homeschooling my 2 very active boys. Age 7 and 5 and I am stuck. I think the biggest reason I am stuck is that I taught special education in the public school system for 9 years and I just have in my mind how our school day “should look” and it doesn’t fit and honestly homeschooling is really frustrating and I don’t like it.
 I just can’t seem to break out of that and embrace what works best for us! I also think I have “too many” ideas and things I want to cover and have trouble focusing on what is best.
Anyway…. I would love your thoughts and prayers.

                                                                                                                   –Losing Heart

Dear Losing Heart,

I have SO been where you are. I understand your heavy heart.

You might expect I’ll give you a pep talk saying “Never give up! You can’t surrender! The collapse of family structure is on the line” and so on. But those talks tend to heap loads of guilt on someone who’s simply looking for solutions. My guess is you already have guilt (It’s a mommy’s way). The truth is you can give up and it would not be the end of the world. I won’t join the ranks of those who tell parents that if they quit homeschooling they’ve failed.

All that said, I still don’t believe you need to give up. There is so much of value in the homeschooling life that I’d hate to see you and your boys lose out on. So we’ll go straight discussion B.



January 21, 2011

We’ve covered ways to put major motion and minor motion into math, keeping things ordered, watching for details, staying on task, making math into a game, even doing math in the bathtub. But there was one bit of motion that was conspicuously absent because I was saving it for the last day. That of course would be. . .ditties!!!

The Power of the Ditty
If you’ve known me for awhile, you know I truly believe in the power of the ditty. But if you’re new to Sizzle Bop, let me explain.

The ditty is an amazing tool.
Information can be learned and cemented almost effortlessly.
And yet, for years, I had missed the value of this incredible learning tool.

You see, my son is not musical.
He has no natural rhythm.
He cannot even clap on the beat.
So it never occurred to me to use rhymes or rhythm in teaching him. I assumed it would be a pointless and frustrating exercise to even try.

But then one day . . . (more…)