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Right-Brained Vocabulary

by Rebecca Capuano

It takes some creativity to teach right-brain oriented children effectively.

These holistic, creative thinkers can keep us on our toes to find the best means to help them learn and remember. Intuitive, contextual, and visual, right-brain oriented learners often have difficulty learning concepts that are word-oriented, logical, and detailed. Therefore, like Reading and Math, vocabulary words can pose a challenge for right-brain oriented kids – especially when the traditional method of looking them up in the dictionary is used. Continue reading »

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12 Ways to Love Your Homeschool Wife This Valentine’s Day

by Rebecca Capuano

Valentine’s Day is coming up. And, guys, even if you haven’t thought about it yet, it’s highly likely that your wife has. And that she’s anticipating something from you.

Especially if she’s a homeschooling wife.

Because, let’s face it, she doesn’t get a lot of accolades for what she does from anyone else. No “celebration of the 100th time you got Johnny back on task without losing your cool” or awards for “Homeschool Mom Most Able to Overcome Learning Obstacles All On Her Own”. Not even any team excellence award. Because — oh yeah. There is no team. Plus she has to deal with the “I can’t do this” chair flops, overflowing science projects, and baby poop — often at the same time. Continue reading »

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My Secret to Managing It All

by Rebecca Capuano

Secrets of a Successful Homeschool Mom: I think every successful homeschool mom has a secret…her secret to managing it all.

Because the truth is that homeschooling itself is overwhelming; it’s just difficult to get it all done. When you add in the responsibilities of keeping the household going along with it, sometimes we feel like we’re on some roller-coaster that we can’t ever get off. Academics to teach, social skills to impart, character to instill, cleaning to complete, food to make, activities to attend, transportation to provide, jobs to fulfill…it’s just so much. Too much, sometimes. Enough that it usually takes some sort of plan, some sort of secret — to actually get it all managed well. Continue reading »

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20 Ways Homeschooling Is Like a Snow Day

by Rebecca Capuano

It was BIG NEWS at our house…the fact that a storm was coming, and we were going to get up to 6 inches of snow! And as I was bundling the girls up for some outside excitement, it hit me that there are some interesting similarities between snow days and homeschooling. Maybe I was just trying to justify eschewing academics for some romping around in white fluff, but hey. You never know when inspiration is going to strike. So, in honor of the winter months, here are 20 ways homeschooling is like a snow day. Continue reading »

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Creating Responsible Kids

by Rebecca Capuano

It hit me this morning, as I dumped dirty clothes into the washing machine. I started pouring in the soap, lamenting the fact that I had to take the time to do laundry when I had this and this and this to do, when I suddenly thought, “Why am I doing this?” Now, before you give me the obvious answer — “Because if you don’t, you and your family will wear dirty clothing and will probably have CPS come take your kids from you because you’re a homeschooler that goes around in stinky attire”, understand that my question to myself had more of an emphasis on the “I” than on the “Why”. In other words, “Why am I doing this, rather than my children?” Continue reading »

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Homeschool Resolutions

by Rebecca Capuano

The time just seems to pass by so quickly. And, lets face it, the year passes by quickly because each day passes by quickly. And isn’t that how it goes? Thinking about what we’ve got to do before we even do it, and then rushing to get it all done. So goes the day. So goes the month. So go the years. And when we look back, we wonder where the time went, and how we can get so much done and still wonder what, exactly, we’ve actually accomplished. This new year, I want to do it differently. I mean, just think about it. If somehow it all-of-a-sudden turned out to be our last moments in this world, and we had to reflect on what mattered to us to have accomplished in our lives, I doubt any of us would mention 90% of the things on our daily mental to-do list. Breakfast prep? Nope. Laundry starting? Nope. E-mail checking? Definite no. Of course many of those things do need to be done, so life can move forward. Yes, kids do need to eat. But what percentage of our time is spent doing the urgent rather than the important? And aren’t we homeschooling, at least on some level, in order to have more time for the important? Continue reading »

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What to Do About Christmas Giving

by Rebecca Capuano

It hadn’t even turned December when we were already starting to hide the Christmas boxes from the girls. The niggling question pricks every year at the same time: What do we do about Christmas giving? As irony works, I sifted through the most recent wave of gifts arrived via mail right after coming home from set-up efforts for the weekend Christmas Fair to raise money for impoverished orphans in India. Sometimes it’s those ironies of life that wake us up and allow us to see in a new way. Continue reading »

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Motivation System Examples, Part 4

by Rebecca Capuano

Don’t we all just run out of ideas from time to time for how to get our kids to address troublesome behaviors? Motivation systems can go a long way to help homeschoolers target specific behaviors upon which children need to focus. They are particularly effective with young children, and children who struggle with attention/focus issues. Once you have the principles of motivation systems in place, you can create systems that are as individual as your family. The following are some examples of motivation systems that can be used in the home, and the behaviors they address. Continue reading »

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Learning Grief, Part 2

by Rebecca Capuano

“Mom, am I going to die, like Dominic did?” The question knocked the wind out of me. You’d think that months after losing our newborn baby, just 4 days after he was born, I’d be ready for all of these things by now. Nope. It’s just one of the many things I’m learning in our new homeschool of grief — that just when I think I’m doing ok, and that I’ve experienced all of the emotions tragedy can bring… I get knocked a new one. These children I have left, my sweet girls, have taught me so much about grieving. Whereas before I was always the teacher, we’re definitely learning together in this new classroom of grief. And I’m so thankful to be doing it as a family. Continue reading »

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I Choose to Give Thanks

by Rebecca Capuano

Thanksgiving doesn’t come for me, this year, as a natural flow out of living in a season of abundance. Instead, this time, it must be squeezed, drop by drop, out of a desert of loss. But the desert makes each drop so much more precious and worthwhile. And this year, I am so much more keenly focused on the source of that gratitude — my God, the giver of all blessings — rather than on the objects of my thanks. And while I certainly do not give thanks for everything, I am learning how to give thanks in everything. Continue reading »

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A New Perspective on Thanksgiving

by Rebecca Capuano

How does anyone give thanks in seasons seemingly defined not by what has been enjoyed, but by what has been lost? It is a lesson we are learning this year. Probably the most important one of our entire homeschool. For us, Thanksgiving this year will, ironically, be sweeter. It will be deeper, it will have more meaning. In past years, giving thanks became routine, expected. It was a nice ritual to do with the kids, and a perfunctory process that I knew helped to stave off self-sufficiency and selfishness. Thankful for home, thankful for health, thankful for family… I could rattle off the list without much thought or emotion. Continue reading »

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Learning Grief, Part 1

by Rebecca Capuano

In this new normal, we’ve gone back to homeschooling. And it has been a tremendous blessing. Homeschooling affords us the time to be together, and to focus on ourselves. It gives us the freedom to have a bad day, or change around our schedule to accommodate wherever we are in our grieving process. Instead of rushing to get out to school each day, or hustling to finish homework before dinnertime, we are able to find comfort in each other and in the haven of home. We’ve had to put aside reading time more than once in order to answer questions about what Dominic looks like in heaven, or why he had to die in the first place. And upon finding out, during art time, that my youngest drew “an angel. He’s taking Dominic away. And he’s mean”, we decided to take some time to process that. Because, honestly, how is one supposed to focus on Math or English or History with those kinds of things going on inside? Continue reading »

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My New Homeschool Rules

by Rebecca Capuano

I tend to be a hyper-responsible, perfectionistic, stressed-most-of-the-time-about-something, uber disciplined homeschool mom. Yes, one of those. The ones for whom field trip days aren’t looked forward to as exciting opportunities for real world learning and fun bonding, but are dreaded as deviations from the schedule that must be accommodated so that in a few years our kids don’t feel like they’ve graduated from military school. OK, maybe I’m not quite that bad. But…close. Continue reading »

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Motivation System Principles – Part 3

by Rebecca Capuano

Motivation systems can provide that little extra “oomph” to help kids focus on specific behaviors they need to improve. Even better, they help parents be more attuned to responding to behavior in constructive ways. But for motivation systems to be most effective, parents need to keep in mind some basic principles of reinforcement (which apply to both reinforcement and consequences). Following these principles make the difference between whether a motivation system works or not, and they apply to any motivation system, whether it is done with stars, stickers, points, candy, or anything else. Before you set up any token economy for your child, be sure you appropriately incorporate the following principles: Continue reading »

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The Homeschool We Never Thought We’d Have

by Rebecca Capuano

I had the best of plans. We’d spent the whole summer preparing for the baby. I’d even prepared the girls for what would happen during the labor and delivery, because, in true homeschooling style, their baby brother was going to be born at home. And they were right there, in the midst of it all, as our long-awaited little man came into the world, in a surprise breech birth, on July 31, 2012. Dominic James Capuano: 7 lbs. 0 oz., with a huge head of dark spiky hair, and the most beautiful, perfect lips and his Daddy’s button nose. It was all crying and smiling and praising and enjoying the miracle of new life. And then, concern. Continue reading »

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Hitting An Educational Wall

by Rebecca Capuano

It’s happened with every homeschooler: you get to a concept, and no matter how much you go over it, your child just doesn’t “get” it. You’ve tried hands-on approaches. You’ve been extra interesting and dramatic in your presentation. You’ve attempted to teach it according to your child’s learning style. You’ve tried to sweeten the deal with motivators. You’ve even, um, raised your voice just a teeny little bit in frustration. All to no avail: your child has hit a wall. Continue reading »

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Surviving Project Day

by Rebecca Capuano

I realize that many of you reading this are free-spirited, artsy, Pinterest-devoted die-hard project people, and that the best part of your homeschooling lives involve doing hands-on activities with your kids. Good for you – I applaud you. And I hate you. Just a little bit. Continue reading »

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10 Reasons I’m Glad “Back to School” Means Homeschooling

by Rebecca Capuano

Where has the summer gone? It’s hard to believe that vacation time is coming to an end and it’s time for “back to school”! Even if you school year ’round, there’s just something special about starting fresh in the fall… new supplies, new curricula, getting back on a regular schedule… I just love the fresh start that the fall brings to our homeschool! While most kids, homeschooled or not, are preparing for the new school year, I can’t help but be so happy that, for us, “back to school” means homeschooling. With many of the daily challenges and frustrations homeschooling brings, it’s easy to lose sight of the myriad blessings this educational choice offers. So here are 10 of my favorite reasons starting up in the fall means educating at home: Continue reading »

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Motivation Systems, Part 2

by Rebecca Capuano

Does your child have trouble staying on task? Constantly forget to pick up after herself? Complain whenever it’s time to “do school”? Motivation systems to the rescue! Motivation systems, also known as token economies, can do wonders to help homeschoolers deal with problematic behaviors, recognize and encourage desired behaviors, and establish an organizing principle for children. Continue reading »

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Creating a Motivation System – Do You Need One?

by Rebecca Capuano

Everyone knows that homeschoolers manage their children’s behavior with patience, consistency and aplomb, always having the right response at the right time, and leading their children to higher standards of conduct with each and every interaction.

Right.

Now that we’ve dealt with what we are all sure happens in everyone else’s home, let’s get on with the reality of what really does happen in our own homes. Continue reading »

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