Help! I’m a Self-Learner, and I Can’t Figure This Out!

January 22, 2013

Questions curriculum questions picWith the advent of the Internet and search engines like Google, many of us have become self-learners simply because information is literally at the tips of our fingers.

It’s AWESOME, isn’t it?

Yes! It’s so awesome that my daughter Lilienne, who will be 11 on Saturday, deduced recently that school really wasn’t necessary once you learned to read because you can now look up everything you want to know on Google as you need to know it.

I concur with her….to a degree. Nowadays we have no excuse not to know the answer to a question (that actually has an answer) aside from lack of time to research or laziness or lack of motivation or something lame along those lines.

I’m not a Webhead, but I enjoy playing around with my websites and junk online. I can usually figure stuff out on my own with a little persistence, sometimes accompanied by tears and frustration. Recently I ran into a situation where I needed to figure out how to put an RSS feed both here and on my Author Page on Amazon.com.

Step one: I googled something about RSS feeds. Well, after going here and there ~ info specifically for wordpress blogs, etc. ~ I wasn’t getting it. (Perhaps a mental block because I was born about the time color television hit the American scene.) Google really wasn’t helpful. Not because I was lazy, but because I was kinda overwhelmed with the lingo.

What is a self-learner to do when stumped?

Step two: Ask someone else who might know the answer to the question at hand.

I asked my fabulous son-in-law, Brandon, but he couldn’t help me right that minute. I asked my daughter Lauren, who is a whiz at setting up Websites (www.beadboxbargains.com) but she had something else going on at the time, so she couldn’t help me either.

So I did what I do best: I moved onto another project and forgot all about it.

Until this week during a conference call with my publisher who asked me if I had put my RSS feed from this very blog up on my amazon.com author page. Heh heh. Oopsie. No, I hadn’t done that yet.

After the call, I mentioned to my husband that the RSS feed thing was driving me nuts, and I was fixin’ to cuss (not that I would actually ever DO that. no way. not me.)

Yesterday Tim came over to my desk (one of them, anyway. I have desks all over the house) and he told me how to add the widget and what to put in the URL. I knew how to do the widget thing, but the URL is what had stumped me.

Isn’t widget the cutest word EVER?

Tim had done a little research for me and figured out the missing piece to the whole thing! Wasn’t that nice of him? Yes. It was. Thank you, Tim. And now I will make him salisbury steak and smashed potatoes for dinner tonight. 🙂

So now I have an RSS feed!! AND I’m still a self-learner because I learned how to do the RSS feed thing. I know you think I’m not a self-learner because I had to ask around, right? I can read your doubting mind.

Self-learning simply requires knowing where to go to find out what it is that you don’t know.

I had to ask someone else ~ multiple people, in fact ~ before I found someone who was able to help me learn what I needed to learn. I now know how to set up an RSS feed.

Self-learners tend to think they shouldn’t ask for help; they should be able to figure things out on their own. That is not always true. Asking for assistance is a really good way to learn at times, although seeking out the answer yourself first is kind of the rule of thumb in our home school.

But if you’re stumped, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her best-selling book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.

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Motivation & Perfect SAT Scorers (Part 2)

December 6, 2012

forestSo what did Dr. Fischgrund’s Perfect Score Study reveal about kids and motivation?

The study found that these high-achieving students set high standards for themselves. Notice: they set them for themselves. Their parents didn’t set the standards for them. Dr. Fischgrund found that “they’re rarely satisfied that they’ve accomplished enough, and they see their education as a path of discovery as opposed to a destination.”[1]

It is so important that our children realize that education is more than a desk, textbooks, and a teacher.

I love the “path of discovery” thought because that is exactly what happens when the self-propelled student is allowed to explore his interests. He takes the road less traveled and meanders here and there, not controlled by linear thought. He doesn’t have to go from Point A to Point B because it is the most expedient way to learn. He’ll master a concept and go on to the next thing; however, if he wants to take a side trip and explore something more deeply, he is going to do that on his own.

He will chase his thoughts wherever they may take him.

[1] Tom Fischgrund, PhD, 7 Secrets, pp. 64-65.

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


Motivation and Marshmallows

November 30, 2012

Pink and White marshmallowsMany moons ago, in 1972, a landmark study was done by Walter Mischel of Stanford University using marshmallows to assess the ability of preschool children, ages four to six, to delay gratification.

Children were placed in a room by a researcher, and each was given a marshmallow. The children were told that if they could wait until the researcher came back into the room before eating their marshmallow, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. Then the researcher would leave the room for fifteen long minutes. (Remember how long fifteen minutes seemed to you when you were a preschooler?)

The results? Some of the children resisted eating the marshmallow—others didn’t. Out of the roughly six hundred children who participated in the study, only one-third were able to resist the call of the marshmallow and receive a second one as a reward.

While the original purpose of this study was to confirm a hypothesis about delayed gratification and age, this experiment has been repeated many, many times to prove or disprove various other hypotheses.

In fact, Mischel performed a similar experiment on the island of Trinidad using chocolate bars in order to see if ethnicity had any effect on delayed gratification. He found that while ethnicity did not, social and economic status did. Isn’t that fascinating?

But what fascinates me even more is a follow-up study that Mischel did on a group of the original “marshmallow children.”

Researchers interviewed them years later and discovered that those who were motivated to hold out for the second marshmallow, exhibiting self-control at a young age, had become more successful as adults than their counterparts who had given into temptation.

What does this study say about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?

The kids who waited those fifteen long minutes weren’t thinking intrinsically, were they? I mean, they weren’t focused on the good feeling they were going to get from successfully waiting out the researcher. No, they were looking to the end goal which was two delicious treats instead of just one.

They were able to see the big picture which enabled them to demonstrate self-control.

They definitely liked marshmallows, right? It wasn’t that one-third of the children hated marshmallows. We can say they were motivated extrinsically—but one marshmallow wasn’t enough. One marshmallow just didn’t make sense when they could have two.

This study reveals that some children aren’t satisfied with what just anyone can have; they want more, and they will do what it takes to get more of what they want—in this case, marshmallows. They weren’t trying to make anyone happy by their choice. They were just doing what came naturally: “Well, if I can have two, why settle for one? This is easy! All I have to do is wait.”

The other, larger group of children apparently couldn’t see the big picture. They could only see what was before them: a fat, squishy, deliciously-tantalizing marshmallow, and the motivation to get twice as much out of the deal just wasn’t there. They gobbled up the first marshmallow (although some of the children played around with their marshmallow first, licking it a bit and holding it in their hands before giving in), and their reward was only one marshmallow.

Conclusion?

From this study, it was concluded that those who had the ability to wait for gratification became more successful adults, and I am assuming that by successful, the study means better jobs and all the trappings that go along with such things, which may not be everyone’s definition of success. A pretty impressive study and conclusion, nonetheless.

Danggit. Now I really want a marshmallow or two!

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


It’s Here! Get the Replay of my Webinar on The Self-Propelled Advantage!

November 15, 2012

I’ve got some good news!  Tuesday evening I had the honor of being a guest on a Webinar presented by CHEO: Christian Home Educators of Ohio. Thank you to Dawn Borris and Jen Gorton for inviting me, and for always providing the replay link for my friends and fellow Moms to catch at their convenience.

In this Webinar, I outline the three elements of The Self-Propelled Advantage and give you an overview of how to use them in your home. There is so much content in this 80-minute presentation, and then a 40-minute Q &A session afterwards.

It is possible to raise smart, happy, respectful, self-learning kids whose bottom line is the pursuit of excellence in education as well as in life.

Replay Link: Click Here!

And enjoy!

I offered some special things to the CHEO group on the webinar which are also available to you if you tune in as well. I think you will be blessed!

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


How Children Succeed

November 5, 2012

This evening I listened to a fabulous recording of Dan Pink, best-selling author of Drive, interviewing Paul Tough, author of the best-seller How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.

The topic of the interview is–not surprisingly–Tough’s new book which deep-dives into the commonly-held belief that IQ is the major predictor of success in kids. So much of our educational system in 2012 is based on this score, that score, and of course of IQ scores.

Tough examines other important predictors of success that are NOT innate, that CAN be taught to parents in order for them to in turn teach to their children. Character strengths are what Tough calls a group of traits which include:

grit, determination, curiosity, optimism, persistence, self-control, and initiative.

Grit is basically defined as stick-to-itiveness and having long-term goals that you believe in and work towards.

If you are curious about how much grit YOU have, personally, here is a link where you can take a peek at a 12-question grit test, take it yourself, and score yourself. It’s fun and revealing. Click here for the Grit Test.

If you take the grit test, come back and tell me you score! 🙂 Maybe I’ll tell you mine.

I’ve just purchased Tough’s book from Amazon.com, so I will be blogging more about it once I get my hands on my own copy. But here’s why I’m so excited after listening to Pink’s interview with Tough: they are talking about and emphasizing many, if not all, of the principles of parenting that I discuss in my new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage.

Paul was asked a question about what parents can do to help their children develop these core character traits, and do you know what he said?

Do Less.

Let them learn to handle their lives without constant intervention.

Don’t be a helicopter parent.

Sound familiar?

Here’s the other major takeaway from this broadcast: Attachment to parents especially within a child’s first two years is extremely important as a predictor of success. Close relationships with parents and siblings is extremely important to children as a predictor of success.

If you’ve read my book, I cite a 2003 study of perfect SAT scorers by Dr. Tom Fischgrund. He studied the families of 160 students who scored perfectly on the 2003 SAT, and he studied the students themselves. He learned that 90% of these perfect score students came from “intact” households, meaning neither parent had been divorced. I think that stat alone talks illustrates the importance of relationships in a child’s life. (SAT Perfect Score: 7 Secrets to Raise Your Score)

How do children succeed? The ways may not be as varied and random as we’ve thought previously.

If you’d like to hear the interview I’ve just listened to, click Here.

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


So How Does a Child Become Self-Propelled?

October 31, 2012

Great question!  How DOES a child become self-propelled?

The answer is gradually and steadily.

Think about how you teach a child to ride a bike. Initially, you may take your baby or toddler for rides via a child-size seat on the back of your bike. But once the child is capable of learning to ride a bike independently, you offer him his own little bike as well as support in the form of training wheels. The child rides around the garage, around the driveway, and maybe even around the block with training wheels on his bicycle. Those training wheels are what support him, what keep him upright at that stage.

You also begin to teach him the rules of the road, right? You are going to make sure that the child understands the basics of bike riding. Learning safety rules is essential. We don’t expect the child to learn those on his own; we make sure he is well versed in safety and cycling rules before he is allowed to proceed to the next step. Before long, the child is ready for the training wheels to come off probably long before you are ready for the training wheels to come off!

Once the training wheels are off, the child needs to develop his own sense of balance. He has had a small taste of balance with the training wheels on, but the ultimate test comes once they come off. When the parents and child feel he is ready, off they come. How exciting! However, before the child learns to totally balance on two wheels, Mom or Dad needs to hold onto the bike seat and walk (or run) beside the child as he learns to balance on his own.

Before long, though, he is ready for you to let go.

You do.

He wobbles a little, but off he goes on his own. There may be a fall in the near future, but hopefully not many. You trust that he will obey the rules of the road, and you watch to be sure that he does so when he is within sight. Once he is out of sight, you have to trust him.

You begin to allow him to ride further and further from home, as you are confident that he is able to ride safely. You will make sure he is out of high-traffic areas as he begins to ride independently. He will not have the endurance yet to ride for long periods of time or to ride up long hills that require focus and greater athletic ability than he possesses initially. All that will come later with time and experience.

When you let go of that bicycle seat, your child becomes truly self-propelled!

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


A day in the life of your family

October 28, 2012

Ah! Sunday mornings! Peaceful, restful, and refreshing here at the Calderwood hovel.

We take our day of rest seriously. Not legalistically, by any means. But the day has a distinct rhythm to it that is slower and calmer for my kids, especially.

Isn’t there something that just feels different about the weekend?

I, however, am busiest on the weekends. This is when I check over essays and write personal notes to all of my VLA students. I happen to enjoy it, but it is still something on my plate. But because Sundays are days of rest for the rest of the household, the environment is peaceful. Unless the Titans are losing. Heh heh. Just kidding. We’re used to that by this point in the season.

How do your weekend days compare to your weekdays? Every family is different, and I completely respect each household’s design. It is the very nature of our society that weekends are usually more laid back. I hope you have some laid-backness in your weekend. We all need downtime.

The truth is that Monday is just around the corner though, peeking its head into our thoughts even on the weekend. I don’t know about you, but my weekdays are really not much different than the weekends in tone.

Tomorrow I will have completed another weekend of working with my students, but then there is the specter of 40 more pages of vocabulary pages to design by Friday.  Monday means back to it, as it most likely means for you. But what will your household FEEL like tomorrow? Will it have an easy, relaxed-ness (not a word, I know, but it is now) to it? Or will you hit the ground running when your alarm rings Monday morning?

If you have young children, your life is pretty much controlled by their needs, right? 🙂  Yes. I remember those days. They can be trying, for sure. But you can also stay in PJs if you like. I remember trying to see how many days in a row we could stay at home without having to go anywhere. Why? Because there is just something peaceful about being together at home. When the rhythm of life is slow and steady, unmarred by the exclamation points of Mom’s voice hollering at everyone to get their stuff together and be ready to go out the door in ten minutes, everyone is much more peaceful.

Sure, we do have to venture out into society. As a mother of  a lot of young children and as a mother of four girls, ages 10 to 16, I like to be at home as much as possible.

There is a season for being gone from home a lot ~ for us it was volleyball season ~ but hopefully there is also a season for being home a lot.

Children should be able to entertain themselves and each other without constantly having to go see this or that movie, or go hang out with this or that group of friends. Friends are wonderful, and socializing is a fun part of our lives as a family. There are special times when the girls visit with friends, of course. But being together as a family ~ just you and your family ~ shouldn’t be the “special time” part.

In our society, so many have lost the feel of a solid home life. Do your children know what that feels like? All families are different, but all humans have a need to belong. The family is the primary place for receiving  a sense of belonging and acceptance. A family is a group that respects each member, yet there is a structure of order and authority that brings peace. Sure, there are times when corrections to behavior must be addressed. That happened here yesterday. But once the corrections were made, peace quickly returned.

Tomorrow is a school day in our home, but not much will be different about the environment. I will engage with my girls regarding their school work as needed, but they don’t really need me to be engaged very much these days. They are self-propelled. Sure, they prefer having days without studying because school work is still work, but they will do their work and move on to something else: chores, reading, hanging out outside, cooking something, etc. One daughter has a piano lesson in the afternoon, and another daughter will most likely volunteer to drive her. Other than that, we’ll be here at home working together and enjoying each others’ company.

The one thing we do as a family at some point during the week is that we’ll go hang out at my married daughter’s house with her and her husband. I love the way all five of the girls enjoy being together! What a blessing that Lauren and Brandon live so close by.

And of course there certainly are things that pull us from home during the course of the week, but for the most part, we are home as a family more than we are out and about, pulled this way and that way with our family all chopped up day in and day out. Having a husband who works from home with me is a beautiful blessing, but it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, it has only been since July of this year that he’s been home. But the peace of God can reign in the home regardless of your situation.

I just want to encourage you to take the pulse of your family and see if you are enjoying each other in your lives together, or if you are more content being off doing your own things are family members. I also want to encourage you that it is okay to say NO to outside activities if you are feeling overwhelmed by activity in your family’s life right now. We all have choices to make on a daily basis in order to protect and nurture the family God has given us. We’ve said NO to a lot of really good activities including church activities. The good is the enemy of the best.

Do what you have peace to do as a family, and don’t let others hound you about being more involved here and there. When your children are grown, you will have plenty of time for outside activities. If you want to be the major influence in their lives when they are young, then you have to say NO to those things that you feel hinder your calling as a family. Trust the Lord to show you and your spouse what things are edifying to your family in this particular season of life.

If you were to take a typical slice of your family’s time together, what would it look like? Are you happy with the overall flow of your family life? If not, call a family meeting and prioritize. Talk to your spouse; chances are he or she is feeling the very same way. Be as busy as you CHOOSE to be or as you choose not to be.

Children LOVE when Mom and Dad are relaxed and peaceful. Be it a weekend or a weekday, may your home atmosphere be relaxed and peaceful.

Food for thought. Blessings to you and your family! 🙂

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.

 


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