Thursday, 26 September 2013

Giving the 'Happiness Advantage'


This weekend I read an interesting article in the Times about 'Dolphin Parenting' Which was Shawn Achor's reply to 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom'.

If you haven't heard of Shawn Achor I highly recommend listening to his TEDtalk on 'The Happiness Advantage' in the video below.

I've never been comfortable with the Tiger mom style principles, and although it's a little corny, I do love the 'dolphin parenting' idea. We have been able to implement a few of his ideas into our daily  homeschool routine and I'm already seeing positive outcomes.

So, if you want to join me in 'Dolphin Homeschooling' here are the ideas we are using so far:

1) watch a funny video on youtube and laugh about it together. 
Yes, daily. Laughing together is not only fun, but it releases endorphines which help you learn faster and retain information for significantly longer. Plus it's bonding.  

2) write down three things that you are grateful for. 
Teaching your child to scan the day for positive outcomes, within 21 days this becomes a habit, so make a month (or longer) of daily gratitude journalling.

3) One happy memory.
Also in our journal we write out one happy memory/favourite thing that happened today. I write this for Cosmo, as I don't want his emotional experience to be limited by frustration of spelling etc... I let him tell me his happy memory and then I ask leading questions like 'what happened next?' and 'how did you feel about that?'

4) An encouraging/positive note.
My children have facebook accounts. Don't worry, they don't know their own password and they are only friends with family members. It is useful for this exercise though, where I ask him to send one encouragement or note of praise to somebody.

Shawn Achor points out that IQ isn't really a great predictor of success or happiness. How positive you are and how well connected you are with your support network are much more important predictors of both. These exercises done daily will build habits, and habits become character and destiny, according to someone much smarter than me.

'Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny'

                                                      -Samuel Smiles
 In just three days my son is already way more positive. He is finding all kinds of things to be grateful for, he's stopping during the day to point out that 'this is going to be my happy memory when we journal!' and he's saying encouraging things to me and his sister.

This stuff works, so let's give our kids the Happiness advantage :0)

Photo credit

Friday, 13 September 2013

Brain Quest

Cosmo was lucky enough to be bought a gift from one of the boys we live with, all the way from the United States!

The gift is a set of flash cards called 'Brain Quest' which I had never heard of, but they are brilliant. Each little pack is a notebook full of strips with different categories of questions on and answers on the card behind.
Brain Quest Grade 3 Revised 4th Edition
Cosmo was bought a grade 3 pack, bearing in mind that he is pre-K age, I was a little skeptical, but actually he really likes them. The math and science sections are still easy, but language arts, social studies and miscellany are all brand new to him.

Actually, it turns out brain quest have a huge website with downloadable resources and apps for the iphone/ipad too. It's only £2.99 so I've bought it and we'll be playing it later on today.

These sets are a great way to build encyclopedic knowledge, which is perfect for the developmental stage we are currently at.


The app is AMAZING! It allows up to three users, so the kids can work at their own level each time they come back and not miss any stages/have to start again.

It's easy, multiple choice style means that even Lychee can play as I read the questions and she has to choose an answer. It's great for reading practice as I ask 'Which describes a girl? He or She?' and she has to look at the two answers to work out which one says 'she'.

Obviously Cosmo has zoomed through to level 24 in just half an hour, but he's enjoying it and building knowledge, so I'm really pleased. I also have no idea how many levels there are, but it hasn't shown any signs of being completed any time soon.

£2.99 well spent :0)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Cousin day and the natural history museum

This week saw the first 'cousin day' that we are attempting to add into our schedule. The plan is to have my sister and her kids over for a day and take turns teaching them, giving one of us child free time every fortnight so that we can get more done.

Depending on what your criteria is, cousin days was a success. 

Work was slow, distracted... Etc but everyone had fun. The children learned a little about life cycles of various animals and then each gave a presentation ins particular one. Cosmo chose snakes.

Lychee coloured some butterflies and we talked about symmetry. I was fairly surprised to see that she actually understood the concept. 

On Tuesday we went to the natural history museum with our homeschool co-op and had a great time. 

Cosmo was a little upset because his digital camera got broken on the bus, but he soon enjoyed looking around, particularly when we got to the human biology section. 

Lychee's favourite part was the butterfly exhibit (no surprise there!) and as well as loving all the butterflies she was completely overwhelmed with all the beautiful plants and flowers. She could not be a girlier girl. I have no idea where she gets it from! 

The children were both excited that they already knew the life cycle of a butterfly, but enjoyed stamping the stages on cards provided and watching the chrysalises hatching. 

You can see more photos on our travel blog if you use the links at the top :0)

Friday, 6 September 2013

Art and maths

Yesterday was sunny and my kids got excited about having an 'art' lesson outside.

The only problem is, I had planned to do maths. 

Problem was easily solved though, because it turns out, if you think about it carefully enough, art and maths overlap quite a lot. 

First lesson was pattern recognition. Cosmo loves patterns, but lychee has struggled with being able to repeat a pattern in the past. 

With a bit of help though, we coloured in a huge area of paving slabs using chalks in a repeated rainbow pattern and talked a bit about colour theory (primary colours blending through secondary colours... etc...)

Cosmo helpfully brought up colour temperature too, so we discussed that briefly, because this term our co op is focussing on light, so I figure wavelengths will be worth knowing a little about. 

Then we made a giant number line, by writing one number on each paving slab of our path. I used our 'mathematical reasoning' book and had the kids work out exercises by running along the line instead of drawing arcs on a page. 

It all went pretty well, and there was also some fun naughty and crosses, pictures of hearts and people's names scribbled around. 

Who knew you could fill an entire day, just playing with chalk?