Conflict Resolution Skills Chart

In our homeschool we also are tracking development of conflict resolution skills.  I have made a progress chart in MS Excel, but the formatting doesn’t come across correctly here so I will list the points we track for E – Emerging, R – Refining, M – Mastery.

Listen more, talk less.  It helps you understand the other person’s point of view.
Ask when you want something.  Making demands only makes things worse.
Focus on the problem, not the person.  It’s the only way to solve a disagreement.
Always deal with the problem at hand.  Never bring up old issues or resentments.
Take responsibility for your part in the conflict.  Your view may not be completely correct either.
Express your feelings without blaming the other person.
Always talk things out.  Never use physical force to express your anger.
Choose your words carefully.  Once a word is spoken it cannot be taken back.
Look for a solution that is agreeable to both parties.  If one person isn’t satisfied, the problem isn’t solved.
Step back and put the problem into perspective.  A problem you have today may not seem so bad tomorrow.



Sample Education Program Plan – Grade 1 (same template K-Gr6)

I’ve experimented with a few Education Program Plans over the last several years, and this is what I have come up with that we will use from K-Gr6 (Gr1 sample below).  I’m not sure how the formatting will come across but I use it in MS Word and have a new page for each subject.  Each term I discuss how the child has used the resources and what progress they have made on the goals listed, as well as add in any additional resources we ended up using.  Think of it as a living document that changes as we go along!  Mastery and a love of learning are very important to me, so we don’t rigidly stick to goals.  Sometimes we get ahead, sometimes we get behind.

For goals, I start with our provincial guidelines for each grade level from the school board.  You should be able to find generic ones by googling “learning objectives grade x”, or searching for your local or state/provincial school board of education.

I like to choose my own resources, and use materials from the library and inter-library loans, internet (YouTube, google searches, etc), books I find at the thrift store, and curriculum/books I order off amazon or (which has a ton of homeschool curriculum).

Our main focus is reading, writing, and math for age 5-9 so the rest of the subjects are very flexible in how in depth we cover things.

In education, learning objectives are brief statements that describe what students will be expected to learn by the end of school year, course, unit, lesson, project, or class period. In many cases, learning objectives are the interim academic goals that teachers establish for students who are working toward meeting more comprehensive learning standards.

While educators use learning objectives in different ways to achieve a variety of instructional goals, the concept is closely related to learning progressions, or the purposeful sequencing of academic expectations across multiple developmental stages, ages, or grade levels. Learning objectives are a way for teachers to structure, sequence, and plan out learning goals for a specific instructional period, typically for the purpose of moving students toward the achievement of larger, longer-term educational goals such as meeting course learning expectations, performing well on a standardized test, or graduating from high school prepared for college. For these reasons, learning objectives are a central strategy in proficiency-based learning, which refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating understanding of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn before they progress to the next lesson, get promoted to the next grade level, or receive a diploma (learning objectives that move students progressively toward the achievement of academic standards may be called performance indicators or performance benchmarks, among other terms).

Learning objectives are also a way to establish and articulate academic expectations for students so they know precisely what is expected of them. When learning objectives are clearly communicated to students, the reasoning goes, students will be more likely to achieve the presented goals. Conversely, when learning objectives are absent or unclear, students may not know what’s expected of them, which may then lead to confusion, frustration, or other factors that could impede the learning process.

The following are a few common ways that learning objectives may be framed or expressed by teachers:

  • Descriptive statements: Learning objectives may be expressed as brief statements describing what students should know or be able to do by the end of a defined instructional period. For example: Explain how the Constitution establishes the separation of powers among the three branches of the United States government—legislative, executive, and judicial—and articulate the primary powers held by each branch. State learning standards, which may comprise a variety of learning objectives, are commonly expressed as descriptive statements.
  • “I can” statements: Teachers may choose to express learning objectives as “I can” statements as a way to frame the objectives from a student standpoint. The basic idea is that “I can” statements encourage students to identify with the learning goals, visualize themselves achieving the goals, or experience a greater sense of personal accomplishment when the learning objectives are achieved. For example: I can explain how the Constitution establishes the separation of powers among the three branches of the United States government—legislative, executive, and judicial—and I can articulate the primary powers held by each branch.
  • “Students will be able to” statements: “Students will be able to” statements are another commonly used format for learning objectives, and the abbreviation SWBAT may be used in place of the full phrase. For example: SWBAT explain how the Constitution establishes the separation of powers among the three branches of the United States government—legislative, executive, and judicial—and articulate the primary powers held by each branch.

From: The Glossary of Education Reform

Education Program Plan (EPP)
July 2017 – June 2018
Student:  N Age / Grade:  6 / Gr1
Parents: Ed No. x
Family name:
VISION To develop the skill and desire for life-long learning * To develop excellence in reading, writing, and oral communication * To develop excellence in mathematics and spacial/abstract thinking * To engage critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making skills * To develop curiosity and imagination * To explore and understand the world using the scientific method * To build resilience and instill confidence in own abilities, strengths, and uniqueness * To critically evaluate the past and present of humanity including social issues * To understand and respect political, cultural, and religious diversity around the world * To develop introspection and reflection for self-evaluation * To build a healthy, active lifestyle * To build an appreciation for excellence in literature, art, and music * To lay a foundation of good citizenship, strong character, and healthy habits  * To prioritize relationships and empathic thinking  * To build a strong foundation of practical life skills * To develop strong character and values including: Courage, Decency and Propriety, Justice, Temperance, Transcendence, Wisdom and Knowledge * To develop a strong Biblical worldview
Method of Instruction:  Program planning will loosely follow the Provincial Education Programs of Study, covering materials in varying depths and in differing timelines.  Program planning will also include elements that align with our Vision as described above, following the Learning Outcomes for Students Receiving Home Education Programs That Do Not Follow the Provincial Programs of Study guidelines.  Instruction will mainly be parent-led, utilizing workbooks, textbooks, “living books”, audiobooks, biographies, DVDs, library reference materials, the internet, electronic applications, and various consumables.
Method of Evaluation:  Assessment will be based on parental observation, specific goal progress, assignments / workbooks associated with the resources used, and portfolio review by parents and facilitator.


Big Picture Goal:  To develop excellence in reading, writing, and oral communication; to appreciate excellence in literature; and to regularly exercise curiosity and imagination.


Goals: Progress in reading phonetic and sight words.  Understand the purpose of book covers, title pages, table of contents.  Use a variety of strategies, such as predicting what comes next, pictures, context, phonics, grammatical awareness, background, knowledge, rereading, and reading on, to decipher new words.  Identify the main idea or topic of simple texts.  Self-correct when reading does not make sense.


Phonics – BOB books

Hooked on Phonics

Scholastic Phonics Books

Dick & Jane Reader Collection

Term 1 Progress:

Term 2 Progress:


Goals: Progress in writing upper and lower case alphabet using correct pencil grip; Print letters legibly, from left to right, with appropriate spacing; Practice writing simple phonetic and sight words; Practice writing sentences via copywork; Creative storytelling / writing will be encouraged (oral).

Resources:  Handwriting Without Tears K & Gr1 Workbooks

 Term 1 Progress:

Term 2 Progress:


Goals: Learn basic sentence structure (capitalization, punctuation); Correct common grammatical errors in speech.  Complete ReadingEggs Gr1 Program (levels 60-121).


 Term 1 Progress:

Term 2 Progress:


Goals: Interact with quality children’s literature – asking questions and giving his thoughts on stories we read.  Critical analysis will be encouraged and comprehension will be assessed.  N will explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences and share about things that are important to him.  We will encourage him to tell his own stories and engage in imaginative play.


The Complete Brambly Hedge – Jill Barklem

The Railway Children – Edith Nesbit (complete & unabridged)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll  (complete & unabridged)

Term 1 Progress:

Term 2 Progress:


Big Picture Goal:  To develop excellence in spacial/abstract thinking, problem solving, and critical thinking as we approach the study of numbers and their application in our lives.

Goals (Gr2 – K&Gr1 covered last year):

Numeracy basics including place value, single and multiple digit addition and subtraction (up to 100)

Conservation of number

Solving for unknown

Basic word problems

Counting to 100 in different ways

Skip counting by 2& 5& 10 to 100

Even/odd numbers

Fractions – Halves and fourths

Comparing numbers and lengths

Expressing differences between numbers as inequalities

Representing and interpreting data in plots and graphs

N will learn how to tell time in hours and minutes (analog)

He will also practice identifying Canadian currency and making purchases and giving correct change

N will practice measurements and estimations using metric, imperial, and nonstandard tools (cm, inches, meters, feet)

N will continue to develop his spacial perception with 2D and 3D objects.

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving:

  • Practice word problems and story problems involving numbers
  • Practice discrimination skills including patterns


Math-U-See Primer & Alpha DVD, Teacher Text & Student Workbooks along with accompanying manipulatives

Life of Fred Apples, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Edgewood, Ice Cream, Goldfish, Honey, Jelly Beans, Farming

Mind Benders Warm-Up; Beginning Book 1 & 2

Think A Minutes, Level A Book 1

Visual Perceptual Skill Building Book 1

TimeLife I Love Math Series

Puzzle World

Agent Arthur’s Puzzle Adventures

Puzzle Journeys

MathStart books – Game Time!, Lemonade for Sale, Divide and Ride, The Best Vacation Ever, Super Sand Castle Saturday, Get Up and Go!

The Millionaire Kids Club: Putting the Do in Donate

The Millionaire Kids Club: Home Sweet Home

The Millionaire Kids Club: Garage Sale Riches

The Millionaire Kids Club: Penny Power

Board Games: Zooloretto, Chicken Cha Cha Cha, Junk Art

Workbooks: Dot-to-Dot, Mazes, Beginner Sudoku

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:



Big Picture Goal:  To explore and understand the world using the scientific method; to understand and apply Environmental Responsibility.

 Goals (Gr3 Core):

Explore how sound is produced by vibrations

Learn about animal life cycles – frog, butterfly, chicken, rabbit

Learn how animals adapt to their environments

Build structures using various materials, and test for strength and stability

Use simple tests and tools to describe and classify rocks and minerals based on characteristics like color and hardness.

Examine our role in protecting the Environment (environmental consciousness).

Explore other topics of interest.

Participate in care of Gerbils.




DK First Animal Encyclopedia

Basher Science – Rocks and Minerals

Busy Little Gardener – Helen Barden

At Home With Science – Bump! Thump! How Do We Jump? – Janice Lobb

My Big Science Book – Simon Mugford

50 Science Things to Make and Do – Usborne Activities

Science Crafts for Kids – 50 Fantastic Things to Invent & Create – Gwen Diehn & Terry Krautwurst

Brains-On Radio Broadcast


Dr Binocs series on Peekaboo Kidz:

Solar System ,  Formation of the Solar System, Light,  Energy, Black Hole,                              Stars,  Meteors,  Comets,  Lunar Eclipse,  Solar Eclipse, Kepler 452B, Structure of the Earth,  Layers of Atmosphere,  Types of Rocks                                     Magnetism

Hurricane                                             What is an Earthquake?

Tsunami                                                Volcano

Shadow                                               Gravity

How is a Rainbow Formed                  The Water Cycle

The Water Bodies                                 Parts of a Plant

Photosynthesis                                     Carnivorous Plants

Excretion in Plants                                Types of Asexual Reproduction

Parts of a Flower and Pollination


Invertebrates                                        Vertebrates

What is a Food Chain?                        Life of a Butterfly

Hibernation                                          Dinosaurs

Bats                                                      Migratory Birds

Why Does a Chameleon Change Colors?

Sharks                                                  Microorganisms

Zika Virus?


Parts of the Body                                 Circulatory System

Respiratory System                               Digestive System

Bones                                                   The Five Senses

How Many Senses Do We Have?        What is Sound?

Inventions that Changed the World


Netflix – Magic School Bus Episodes:

Gets Lost in Space (Solar System)                                For Lunch (Digestion)

Inside Ralphie (Germs)                                     Gets Eaten (Food Chain)

Hops Home (Animal Habitats)                                     Meets the Rot Squad (Decomposition)                                   All Dried Up (Desert Adaptation)                                 In the Haunted House (Sound)

Gets Ready, Set, Dough (Kitchen Chemistry)              Plays Ball (Forces)

Goes to Seed (Seeds)                                                  Gets Ants in its Pants (Ants)

Kicks Up a Storm (Weather)                                         Blows Its Top (Volcanoes)

Flexes Its Muscles (Body Mechanics)                            The Busasaurus (Dinosaurs)

Going Batty (Bats)                                                       Butterfly and the Bog Beast (Butterflies)

Wet All Over (Water)                                                    In a Pickle (Microbes)

Revving Up (Engines)                                                  Taking Flight (Flight)

Getting Energized (Energy)                                          Out of This World (Space Rocks)

Cold Feet (Warm/Cold-Blooded)                                Ups and Downs (Floating and Sinking)

In a Beehive (Honeybees)                                           In the Arctic (Heat)

Spins a Web (Spiders)                                                  Under Construction (Structures)

Gets a Bright Idea (Light)                                             Shows and Tells (Archaeology)

Makes a Rainbow (Color)                                           Goes Upstream (Salmon Migration)

Works Out (Circulation)                                               Gets Planted (Photosynthesis)

In the Rain Forest (Rainforest Ecology)                        Rocks and Rolls (Water Erosion)

Family Holiday Special (Recycling)                             Meets Molly Cule (Molecules)

Cracks a Yolk (Eggs)                                                   Goes to Mussel Beach (Tidal Zones)

Goes on Air (Air Pressure)                                            Gets Swamped (Wetlands)

Goes Cellular (Cells)                                                    Sees Stars (Stars)

Gains Weight (Gravity)                                                Makes a Stink (Smell)

Gets Charged (Electricity)                                           Gets Programmed (Computers)

In the City (Urban Wildlife)                                           Takes a Dive (Symbiosis)


Experimentation materials

Internet Searches

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:



Big Picture Goal:  To understand the unfolding story of humanity; To critically evaluate the past and present of humanity including social issues; To understand and respect political, cultural, and religious diversity around the world; To develop a foundation of good citizenship – rights and responsibilities, service to others.

Goals (Gr2/Gr3 Core):

  • Recognize own strengths and challenges
  • Learn basic mapping skills
  • Introduction to basic geography
  • Progress in cooperation, conflict resolution and consensus building
  • Participate in work around the home
  • Overview of Canadian communities (Inuit, Acadian, prairie)
  • Continue an overview of countries around the world (what life is like, similarities and differences)


World Map, Map of Canada

Community Events


Internet Searches


The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving

Hungry Planet: What the World Eats

Women in the Material World

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Children’s First Book of People and Places (Neil Morris)

First Atlas – Color Library Books

All About People – Lesley Newson

A First Atlas – Sue Hook, Angela Royston

Mapping Penny’s World – Loreen Leedy

Follow That Map!  A First Book of Mapping Skills – Scot Ritchie

World Book’s Celebrations and Rituals Around the World:

New Year’s Celebrations

Spring Celebrations

Harvest Celebrations

Winter Celebrations

National Celebrations

Everyday Celebrations and Rituals

Religious Celebrations

Birth & Growing Up Celebrations

Marriage Celebrations

End-of-Life Rituals

ValueTales by Spencer/Ann Donegan Johnson

The Value of Fantasy – Hans Christian Andersen

The Value of Caring – Eleanor Roosevelt

The Value of Curiosity – Christopher Columbus

The Value of Truth and Trust – Cochise

The Value of Imagination – Charles Dickens

The Value of Courage – Jackie Robinson

The Value of Giving – Ludwig Beethoven

The Value of Friendship – Jane Addams

The Value of Learning – Marie Curie

The Value of Responsibility – Ralph Bunche

The Value of Dedication – Albert Schweitzer

The Value of Love – Johnny Appleseed

The Value of Sharing – May o Brothers

The Value of Fairness – Nellie Bly

The Value of Kindness – Elizabeth Fry

The Value of Saving – Benjamin Franklin

The Value of Charity – Paul-Emile Leger

The Value of Respect – Abraham Lincoln

The Value of Patience – the Wright Brothers

The Value of Understanding – Margaret Mead

The Value of Honesty – Confucius

The Value of Believing in Yourself – Louis Pasteur

The Value of Adventure – Sacagawea

The Value of Discipline – Alexander Graham Bell

The Value of Boldness – Captain Cook

The Value of Facing a Challenge – Terry Fox

The Value of Foresight – Thomas Jefferson

The Value of Compassion – Florence Nightengale

The Value of Leadership – Winston Churchill

The Value of Helping – Harriet Tubman

The Value of Honesty – Confucius

The Value of Determination – Helen Keller

The Value of Humor – Will Rogers

The Power of Integrity – JC Penney

The Power of Overcoming – Helen Keller

The Power of Attitude – George Washington

The Power of Enthusiasm – Teddy Roosevelt

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:


Big Picture Goals: To build a healthy, active lifestyle through well-informed choices and behaviors

Goals (Gr2/3 core):

Work on establishing positive self-care habits including physical activity and healthy eating

Understand food classification via the Canada Food Guide

Discuss safety in a variety of environments including personal protective equipment

Learn how to set goals and work towards them

Learn who to trust in the neighborhood (Police, Block Parents, Mothers with Children)

Become confident to stand up to others and make safe choices in a variety of situations

Discuss emergency procedures (First Aid, Fire, Water Safety, Assault)




What Does it Mean to be Safe? (Rana DiOrio)

You Can Say No (Betty Boegehold)

Trust Your Feelings (C.A.R.E. Productions)

Your Body Belongs to You (Cornelia Spelman)

I Said No! (Zack and Kimberly King)

Safety Around Strangers (Lucia Raatma)

My Mom Says: A Safety Book for Kids (Debbie Middleton-Hope)

My Friend the Dentist

A Visit to the Dentist

Mind Your Manners, Ben Bunny (Mavis Smith)

Hello Gnu, How Do You Do? (Barbara Shook Hazen)

Don’t Slurp Your Soup! (Lynne Gibbs)

The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality

The Story of Me

Before I was Born

Sticky Situations 2

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:


 Big Picture Goal:  To build an appreciation for excellence in literature, art, and music

Creative Art


Increased fine motor control is an important goal this year for Nathan.   He will interact with a variety of materials and explore painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, fabric arts, photography, and computer graphics.  Nathan will learn how we interpret and communicate with visual symbols, appreciate the cultural aspects of art, and relate art to life.  Through reflection, depiction, composition and expression, he will notice that objects have form and function and he will develop unique decorative styles for his creations.


A wide variety of artistic media (fingerpaints, watercolor paints, acrylic paints, oil paints, pastels, crayons, pencil crayons, marker) and craft materials (fabric, papers, cards, construction paper, scissors, punches, glues, glitter, beads, recycled materials, etc), personal camera.  A variety of digital and print resources from many different sources.  OSMO – Masterpiece unit (iPad).

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:



Appreciation of different music styles.  Describe sounds around him and explore beats and rhythms.  Practice simple action songs and singing games, follow stories told by music, and understand how music can express feelings. Introduction to rhythm, tempo, and exploration of musical instruments.


A variety of musical instruments skin drum, keyboard, maracas, recorder, harmonica, mini guitars, xylophone, bells, castanets, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, clapsticks, wood block, kazoo, accordion.

Musical CDs – Classical, Opera, Orchestral, Putumayo Kids collection (Italian Playground, French Dreamland, French Playground, Asian Playground, Animal Playground, Australian Playground, Reggae Playground, American Playground, Latin Dreamland, Caribbean Playground, Hawaiian Playground, World Sing-Along, Cowboy Playground, Kids World Party, African Dreamland, Celtic Dreamland, Asian Dreamland, New Orleans Playground, African Playground, Latin Playground, World Playground)

Private Lessons – N will explore concepts of rhythm, melody, harmony, form, and expression with private keyboard/music lessons.

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:


Big Picture Goals: To develop the skills for utilizing technology as it evolves; To critically evaluate information from various sources


Identify a problem or query

Formulate a plan for investigation

Assess and retrieve information from electronic sources for a specific inquiry (computer with mouse and keyboard, internet, YouTube, Netflix, DVDs)

Process and organize information from more than one source and share what has been discovered

Formulate new questions as research progresses

Identify techniques and tools for communicating, storing, retrieving and selecting information

Demonstrate appropriate usage and care of technology equipment, including basic computer operations, keyboard and mouse usage, and audiovisual equipment

Demonstrate proper posture when using computer

Understand safe and unsafe practices when using technology


Desktop computer, laptop computer, keyboard, mouse






Microsoft Word processing software

household appliances

OSMO software – Coding.

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:



Continue to develop foundational skills of locomotion patterns (walking, running, galloping, jumping, skipping, hopping, rolling, leaping, climbing, sliding) and static positions in a variety of physical environments.  Practice receiving, retaining, sending, kicking, hitting, obstacles, and childhood games.  A continued goal is to increase proprioception and balance.  Discuss safety in and benefits of physical activity.  Understand what an active lifestyle involves and the physical and emotional health benefits of physical activity.  Practice fair play, leadership and teamwork in group games.  Goals include participating in some form of physical activity every day (formal lessons, walks, dance, obstacle courses, games, playgrounds, etc).


Playgrounds, natural environments, home environment, pools and lakes, obstacles, scooter, bicycle with training wheels.  DVDs – pilates and kids workouts.  Group games at dayhome.

Group lessons – Taekwon-Do

Private lessons – Swimming

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:


Big Picture Goals:  To develop a Biblical Worldview; To grow in discernment; To grow in personal relationship with Jesus Christ


Develop habits of attention to God and talking to God throughout the day – for help and thankfulness

Familiarization with God’s Character and Nature

Familiarization with sin and salvation

Practice discernment

Develop habits of obedience to God

Familiarization with Bible Stories and People

Familiarization with the basic Bible timeline from creation – national Israel – Jesus’ incarnation – Church Age – Jesus’ future return


Our Family’s First Bible Storybook – Ethel Barrett

The Victor Family Story Bible – V. Gilbert Beers, Ronald A. Beers

The Jesus Storybook Bible – Sally Lloyd-Jones

Hind’s Feet on High Places

The Lamb

Bible Atlas

True Account of Adam and Eve

I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God

Ronnie Wilson’s Gift

Halfway Herbert

The Ology

The Prince’s Poison Cup

The Knight’s Map

The Big Red Tractor and The Little Village

Cold-Case Christianity for Kids: Investigate Jesus with a Real Detective

God’s Apostle: The Adventures of Paul

God’s Missionary: The Faith of Thomas

God’s Outlaw: The Real Story of William Tyndale

God’s Pilgrim: The Real Story of John Bunyan

God’s Prisoner: The Story of Richard Wurmbrand

God’s Witness: The Courage of Stephen

The Story of Saint Nicholas: More Than Reindeer and a Red Suit

The Story of St. Patrick: More Than Shamrocks and Leprechauns

The Story of St. Valentine: More Than Cards and Candied Hearts


The Donut Man Complete Collection

Mr Henry’s Wild & Wacky World Collection

What’s In the Bible with Buck Denver:

Why Do We Call It Christmas?

In the Beginning – Genesis

Let My People Go – Exodus

Wanderin in the Desert – Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Battle for the Promised Land – Joshua, Judges, Ruth

Israel Gets a King – 1&2 Samuel

A Nation Divided – Kings & Chronicles

Exile and Return! – Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

Words to Make Us Wise – Psalms, Proverbs, Writings

God Speaks! – Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Prophets

Jesus is the Good News! – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

Spreading the Good News! – Acts

Letters from Paul! – Romans through Philemon

God’s Kingdom Comes! – General Epistles & Revelation

Theo Series:

God’s Love

God’s Grace

God’s Heart

God’s Truth

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:


Big Picture Goals: To build a strong foundation of practical life skills


Assist in dayhomes

Assist in home care and maintenance

Participate in gardening, camping, hikes

Progress in self-care, hygiene & personal habits

Progress in sleep regulation

Discuss basic first aid


Home life, dayhome

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:


Big Picture Goals:  Develop the ability to negotiate a variety of social situations with grace and skill; To develop a priority for relationships and empathic thinking


Exposure to a wide range of controlled social situations with adult guidance

Adult guidance through social problem solving and challenges

Focus on taking turns and choosing kind choices


Dayhomes, group experiences and lessons, home life

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:


Big Picture Goals:  Develop introspection and reflection for self-evaluation; Develop resilience and instill confidence in own abilities, strengths, and uniqueness; Develop the ability to manage the range of human emotions with dignity.


Identify and talk about feelings and behaviors – how all feelings are acceptable, but not all behaviors are

Progress in emotional regulation

Learn to control words and actions


Home life, dayhome

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:


Big Picture Goals:

To develop a strong character and values including:

Courage (Bravery, Persistence, Integrity, Vitality, Personal Initiative, Truthfulness, Fortitude)

Decency and Propriety (Cleanliness, Neatness, Order, Regularity, Diligence, Self-Discipline in Habits, Hard Work, Perfect Execution, Obedience, Self-Regulation, Self-Control, Even Temper)

Humanity (Love, Kindness, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Gentleness, Courtesy, Forgiveness, Good Manners, Generosity, Faithfulness, Usefulness, Social Intelligence, Mercy)

Justice (Active Citizenship, Responsibility, Loyalty, Teamwork, Fairness, Leadership)

Temperence (Humility, Modesty and Purity, Prudence, Self-Restraint in Indulgences)

Transcendence (Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Joyfulness, Humor & Playfulness, Meditation, Reverence, Outdoor Appreciation, Thanksgiving, Spirituality)

Wisdom and Knowledge (Creativity, Curiosity, Open-Mindedness, Love of Learning, Perspective/wisdom, Attention / Mental Effort, Imagining, Observation, Remembering / Memorization, Thinking)


  • Courage – continue in truthfulness and integrity; face family & life changes with bravery (group lessons, dayhome experiences)
  • Decency and Propriety – progress in neatness; regulate sleep & nutrition; encourage positive outlook
  • Humanity – encourage politeness and kindness, thinking of others
  • Justice – encourage fairness and teamwork in games and sports as well as life situations
  • Temperance – manage own money
  • Wisdom and Knowledge – encourage creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, attention, imagining, observing, memorizing, and thinking skills


Group experiences (dayhome, group lessons); Home life

Everyday Graces: Child’s Book of Good Manners

Term 1 Success:

Term 2 Success:

Homeschooling – Fantasy Versus Reality

I think many of us enter into homeschooling with this wonderful vision in mind of how it will go.  We set up our workspaces to the best of our ability, dreaming of workbooks and globes and vast libraries.c2746ec30cffe66f7bbe0ea7e2b9f098.jpg

In reality, our work area often looks more like this:


We dream of having deep and meaningful conversations with our children, who will be eager students.


In reality, our conversations are more often about Ironman and Aquapods.


I just repeating Proverbs 22:6 to myself – Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.  

We are an example to our children in the mundane, the everyday.  They are watching.  Do we turn to Jesus?  Do we talk about Him, do we talk to Him, do we read His Word?  We grow God’s kingdom not by leaps and bounds, but inch by inch…

These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life… Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.   Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Charlotte Mason – Atmosphere, Discipline, Life

Part of homeschooling is developing a vision.  A vision of what you want your “school” to look like, yes, but a vision of the Big Picture.  What do you hope to accomplish?  What are your goals with schooling?  This will affect what methods you choose.

The Charlotte Mason method is quite similar to the Montessori Method, but faith-based.  Charlotte Mason believed that we must educate the whole person, and that children are “whole people”.  This seems like an obvious thing to say, but is it really ?  Are children treated like whole people?  I would ask you to consider that in your interactions with children.

A Charlotte Mason method endeavors to educate as “an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life” – each as approximately a third of the child’s education.


We create an atmosphere  in our home environment, either intentionally or unintentionally.  What are you conveying in the atmosphere of your home?  What ideas drive you?  A child learns by observing.   Your child is listening and watching.  How can we improve the atmosphere of our home?

  • Is your home a “hands-on” place where everything can be safely explored?
  • Do you allow and encourage (or require) your child to participate in all the menial tasks in your home?
  • Do you encourage questions?
  • Do you take the time to explore with your child?  For example, your child asks a question about snakes.  Do you just answer the question, or do you then go look up a youtube video on a snake with your child?  If your child shows interest in something, it is great to not just answer but to pursue it.  Some of the best educational opportunities pop up that way!
  • Is your home peaceful?  It is hard to learn and concentrate if there is chronic stress, conflict, anger in the home.
  • How do you handle conflict?  Not just with your spouse, but with your children?  What about on the phone?  Or with door to door solicitors?
  • Is your home beautiful?  Not in the sense of ornate or expensive, but is it filled with quality over quantity?  Clutter can distract our minds.  (try Flylady!)
  • What are the sights, sounds, smells, and textures in your home?  Can you make these more welcoming and comforting?

Good resources for creating a learning atmosphere are Montessori materials and ideas, and I really liked the book Families Where Grace Is In Place by Jeff VanVonderen (as well as other attachment/gentle parenting books).


Charlotte recognized that if we “sow a habit, [we] reap a character”.  We cultivate our minds by developing good habits – specifically, habits of good character.  The habits we form in childhood will carry us through our lives if we are careful to maintain them!  There’s no secret to good habits – the key is practice, practice, practice!  Repeat the desired action as often as possible.  Practice forms brain pathways much in the same way as cattle make trails, or wheelbarrows form ruts.  The more often we repeat an action, the more established that brain neuronal pathway becomes.  This is obvious in sports, but it holds true in all areas of life.

Once we practice a skill enough times, which will be different for each skill, the result is a habit – we can do it without conscious effort.  “Practice Makes Permanent”.  The longer we have established that pathway, the harder it is to “get out of the rut”.  This is a bad thing for bad habits, but a great thing for great habits!  “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

One of the keys to forming good habits is that practice is intentional.  Choose one or two habits to work on at a time, and really focus hard on them for 3-6 weeks – providing lots of opportunities to practice, lots of reminders, and lots of feedback.

Another key to forming good habits is developing the desire to do so.  Searching for  inspiration  is important – particularly when you are trying to apply it to another individual (your child).  Here I don’t mean temporary external rewards (stickers or candy as bribes), but internal motivation.  Explain why good habits are important – physical health, mental health, spiritual health.  Character strengths and virtues tend to lead to increased happiness in ourselves and those around us; they also follow Biblical principles and the fruit of the Spirit.  In our home, we discuss how good habits please Jesus.

Here’s a link to our character charts – Character Charts

Suggested resources for character and habits are: Laying Down the Rails (Sonya Shafer, Laying Down the Rails for Children, Books 1&2 – need to be used with the regular LDTR book (Lanaya Gore), and A Child’s Book of Values (Lesley Wright).


Academics were a living entity to Charlotte Mason.  When we dump dry facts into children, it smothers the inherent love of learning.  Living books, on the other hand, bring ideas and thoughts to life.  Living books are written as narratives (stories), as opposed to textbook-style.  We want children to think about and digest what has been read, not just pick out facts and repeat them by rote.  Children are required to tell back, or narrate, the paragraph or chapter in their own words on a regular basis.  This anchors the story and ideas in their minds.  Handwriting, spelling, and grammar are taught by “copywork”, or taking interesting sentences from good books and having the student copy them.

Charlotte highly encouraged spending time outdoors, learning from nature.  (In this way, she was similar to Waldorf school of thought, which I would recommend for ideas).  Journaling and notebooking are great ways to apply this method, reflecting on experiences of life.  We hope to get into this more when the kids can write better (still working on that habit!).

A wide variety of subjects and learning experiences is offered to the student, like an academic smorgasbord.  The student samples and chooses how much of each to take.  Everything offered is of excellent quality, eliminating what Charlotte termed “twaddle”.  This has become an important word in our home, and everything we read or watch is evaluated as to whether it is “Good” (living/quality), “Mediocre” (has some value), or “Twaddle” (trivial/foolish).

Another great idea from this method is the Unit Study.  Instead of studying subjects separately (which is quite artificial), a unifying topic is chosen and subjects are all applied together relating to that topic.  An example would be baking muffins, which can incorporate math, reading, science, and life skills.

These are the principles from Charlotte Mason that we have found most helpful in our homeschooling journey.  More resources on Charlotte Mason can be found HERE.

Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles (Summarized)

Children are born persons – they are not blank slates or embryonic oysters who have the potential of becoming persons. They already are persons.

Although children are born with a sin nature, they are neither all bad, nor all good. Children from all walks of life and backgrounds may make choices for good or evil.

The concepts of authority and obedience are true for all people whether they accept it or not. Submission to authority is necessary for any society or group or family to run smoothly.

Authority is not a license to abuse children, or to play upon their emotions or other desires, and adults are not free to limit a child’s education or use fear, love, power of suggestion, or their own influence over a child to make a child learn.

The only means a teacher may use to educate children are the child’s natural environment, the training of good habits and exposure to living ideas and concepts. This is what CM’s motto “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life” means.

“Education is an atmosphere” doesn’t mean that we should create an artificial environment for children, but that we use the opportunities in the environment he already lives in to educate him. Children learn from real things in the real world.

“Education is a discipline” means that we train a child to have good habits and self-control.

“Education is a life” means that education should apply to body, soul and spirit. The mind needs ideas of all kinds, so the child’s curriculum should be varied and generous with many subjects included.

The child’s mind is not a blank slate, or a bucket to be filled. It is a living thing and needs knowledge to grow. As the stomach was designed to digest food, the mind is designed to digest knowledge and needs no special training or exercises to make it ready to learn.

Herbart’s philosophy that the mind is like an empty stage waiting for bits of information to be inserted puts too much responsibility on the teacher to prepare detailed lessons that the children, for all the teacher’s effort, don’t learn from anyway.

Instead, we believe that childrens’ minds are capable of digesting real knowledge, so we provide a rich, generous curriculum that exposes children to many interesting, living ideas and concepts.

“Education is the science of relations” means that children have minds capable of making their own connections with knowledge and experiences, so we make sure the child learns about nature, science and art, knows how to make things, reads many living books and that they are physically fit.

In devising a curriculum, we provide a vast amount of ideas to ensure that the mind has enough brain food, knowledge about a variety of things to prevent boredom, and subjects are taught with high-quality literary language since that is what a child’s attention responds to best.

Since one doesn’t really “own” knowledge until he can express it, children are required to narrate, or tell back (or write down), what they have read or heard.

Children must narrate after one reading or hearing. Children naturally have good focus of attention, but allowing a second reading makes them lazy and weakens their ability to pay attention the first time. Teachers summarizing and asking comprehension questions are other ways of giving children a second chance and making the need to focus the first time less urgent. By getting it the first time, less time is wasted on repeated readings, and more time is available during school hours for more knowledge. A child educated this way learns more than children using other methods, and this is true for all children regardless of their IQ or background.

Children have two guides to help them in their moral and intellectual growth – “the way of the will,” and “the way of reason.”

Children must learn the difference between “I want” and “I will.” They must learn to distract their thoughts when tempted to do what they maywantbut know is not right, and think of something else, or do something else, interesting enough to occupy their mind. After a short diversion, their mind will be refreshed and able to will with renewed strength.

Children must learn not to lean too heavily on their own reasoning. Reasoning is good for logically demonstrating mathematical truth, but unreliable when judging ideas because our reasoning will justify all kinds of erroneous ideas if we really want to believe them.

Knowing that reason is not to be trusted as the final authority in forming opinions, children must learn that their greatest responsibility is choosing which ideas to accept or reject. Good habits of behavior and lots of knowledge will provide the discipline and experience to help them do this.

We teach children that all truths are God’s truths, and that secular subjects are just as divine as religious ones. Children don’t go back and forth between two worlds when they focus on God and then their school subjects; there is unity among both because both are of God and, whatever children study or do, God is always with them.

Our Character Development Charts

Character Development is very important to me in our children’s schooling.  I have put together this chart as we track our progress towards character goals.  The formatting came across kind of crazy, but I have this as an MS Excel document and hopefully if you copy and paste it in there the program will know what to do.  (if not, I can email you a copy –

I’m aiming to give one sticker at the Emerging level (early elementary), Refining level (upper elementary/junior high), and Mastery level (high school). We try to focus on one character habit each month.

Character Development
There are 60 Character Strengths and Virtues selected here from the studies of Peterson & Seligman and extracted from Charlotte Mason’s works.  These traits are considered good by the vast majority of cultures and throughout history.  They tend to lead to increased happiness when practiced, and reflect Biblical character teachings.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Courage Accomplish Goals in the Face of Opposition
      Bravery Possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.  Having the courage to face things that are scary or difficult.
      Persistence Persisting, especially in spite of opposition, obstacles, discouragement; Persevering.
      Integrity Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
      Vitality Exuberant physical strength or mental vigor; continuation of a meaningful and purposeful existence.
      Personal Initiative Readiness and ability in initiating action.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Courage Accomplish Goals in the Face of Opposition
      Truthfulness Telling the truth habitually.
      Fortitude Mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Decency and Propriety Managing One’s Self
      Cleanliness Personally neat and tidy.
      Neatness, Order Habitually careful to keep or make clean and orderly.
      Regularity Managing one’s self with rhythmic frequency.
      Diligence Constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body and mind.
      Self-Discipline Discipline and training of oneself in one’s habits, usually for improvement.
      Hard Work / Perfect Execution Making an effort to do your best at any task (quality over quantity).
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Decency and Propriety Managing One’s Self
      Obedience The act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance.
      Self-Regulation / Self-Control Control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc. in a wide variety of circumstances
      Self-Control in Emergencies Control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.  in emergency situations
      Even Temper Not easily ruffled, annoyed, or disturbed; calm
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Humanity Tending and Befriending Others
      Love A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, which shows in the way you treat someone.
      Peace A state of mutual harmony between people; freedom of the mind from annoyance, anxiety or obscession; tranquility; serenity.
      Kindness Indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane; of a good or benevolent nature.
      Patience Waiting calmly for something or someone without making a fuss; the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like; an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay; quiet, steady perseverence
      Goodness Morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious; of high quality; honorable or worthy
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Humanity Tending and Befriending Others
      Gentleness Mild; moderate; easily handled or managed.
      Courtesy Excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior.
      Forgiveness Being willing to let go of the hurt and anger you feel when others wrong you; to grant pardon/remission.
      Good Manners Ways of behaving with reference to polite standards; social comportment.
      Generosity Giving to others without expecting anything in return.
      Faithfulness Being loyal and true in your words and actions toward others and toward God; reliable, trustworthy.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Humanity Tending and Befriending Others
      Usefulness Being of use or service; serving some purpose; advantageous, helpful, or of good effect.
      Social Intelligence The ability to form rewarding relationships with other people.
      Mercy Compassionate or kindly forebearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity or benevolence.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Justice Build Healthy Community
      Active Citizenship Behavior in terms of the duties, obligations, and functions of a citizen.
      Responsibility Taking charge of the things you do for yourself and others.
      Loyalty Faithfulness to commitments or obligations.
      Teamwork Cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause.
      Fairness Free from bias or injustice; evenhandedness.
      Leadership To guide in direction, course, action, opinion.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Temperence Protect Against Excess
      Humility Modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.
      Modesty and Purity Regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress; freedom from vanity, boastfulness.
      Prudence Caution with regard to practical matters; descretion.  Provident care in the management of resources; economy; frugality.
      Self-Restraint in Indulgences The act of restraining, holding back, controlling, or checking behaviors and indulgences.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Wisdom and Knowledge Acquisition and Use of Knowledge
      Creativity The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.
      Curiosity The desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.
      Open-Mindedness Having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments.
      Love of Learning Learning for its own sake is the best preparation for functioning competitively and creatively.  Learning for its own sake is wonderful, desirable, and enjoyable, but only after an individual has found a way to connect learning and life in a manner that influences everyday life – including earning a living.
      Perspective / Wisdom Coordination of knowledge and experience; deliberately improving wellbeing.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Wisdom and Knowledge Acquisition and Use of Knowledge
      Attention / Mental Effort A concentration of the mind on a single object or thought; a capacity to maintain selective and sustained concentration.
      Imagining Forming mental images of things not present in the senses.  To suppose, think, conjecture.
      Observation Noticing, perceiving, regarding attentively.
      Remembering / Memorization To retain in the memory; keep in mind; remain aware of.
      Thinking Thoughtful, reflective, rational, reasoning.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Transcendence Connect to a Purpose and Provide Meaning
      Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence Estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value; recognition of outstanding quality or superior merit; clear perception or recognition, especially of aesthetic quality; critical notice; evaluation.
      Gratitude Being thankful and showing your appreciation to others when they do things for you.
      Hope To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
      Joyfulness The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
      Humor & Playfulness An instance of being or attempting to be comical or amusing; fun or jest, as opposed to seriousness.
E – Emerging; R – Refining; M – Mastery
Transcendence Connect to a Purpose and Provide Meaning
      Meditation Continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation.
      Reverence A feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe.
      Outdoor Appreciation Placing importance on the natural world, spending time outdoors and caring for nature.
      Thanksgiving The act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgement of benefits or favors, especially to God.
      Spirituality The principle of conscious life; attention to sacred things or matters.  A sense of purpose and coherence.
Resources:  Laying Down the Rails (Sonya Shafer), Laying Down the Rails for Children, Book 1&2 (Lanaya Gore), A Child’s Book of Values (Lesley Wright), Character Strengths and Virtues (Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman – 2004), character studies from selected biographies.


Social IQ and Homeschooling – Social Skills Checklist

I have developed this social skills checklist to evaluate how the kids are doing socially!  (It was an eye opening process – do *I* do all these things?!?!)  Again, this is in MS Excel and I have columns for E – Emerging, R – Refining, and M – Mastery, but these don’t come across here.

Social Skill
Greets people appropriately and politely.
Asks how people are and listens to the response.
Starts a conversation by noticing a detail.
Maintains eye contact during conversation.
Asks questions, listens, and responds after listening.
Gives opinions that are generally positive and upbeat.
Isn’t overly critical.
Doesn’t talk about other people negatively.
Discusses ideas, opinions, and own anecdotes rather than other people.
Talks for about 15 seconds and then listens while the other person takes a turn to talk for about 15 seconds.
Doesn’t talk too much about him/herself.
Doesn’t share too little about him/herself so that the other person in the conversation has nothing to ask them about.
Visibly shows an interest in the other person.
Is not distracted from a conversation by cellphone, other electronic devices or other people walking by.
Doesn’t interrupt conversations.
Can wait and determine the proper moment to interject into the conversation with own insights.
Can interpret visual and auditory clues to people’s moods, such as expressions, voice tone, and gestures.
If exceptionally skilled, can articulate the other person’s feelings with empathy to encourage the other person to share further.
Gives encouragement and empathy when others talk about their woes.
Can exit a conversation politely and appropriately.
Social Skill
Knows the different levels of conversation and which is appropriate for different audiences and situations.  For example, level one is for making small talk with strangers, level two is sharing facts with acquaintances, level three is sharing beliefs and opinions with friends and lastly, level four, is sharing feelings with family and intimate friends.
Responds appropriately to constructive criticism.
Able to deliver constructive criticism to others.
Uses appropriate strategies to solve interpersonal difficulties.
Can handle minor frustrations with ease.
Takes responsibility for achievements.
Takes responsibility for mistakes.
Politely and respectfully uses statements beginning with “I think…”, “I feel…”, “I would like…”, “I am disappointed…”, to assert ones’ needs.
Finds common ground in conversation with people of different ages, cultures, religions, uniforms, genders and social status.
Knows when it is appropriate not to speak.
Comfortable with refusing to respond when appropriate.
Effectively manages his/her time.
Aware of other people’s feelings.
Able to participate and interact in group situations.
Strong sense of self – likes, dislikes, preferences, abilities, struggles.
Accepts other’s opinions respectfully.
Able to stop and think before acting.
Able to assert own feelings, preferences, and needs.
Able to delay gratification.
Shows awareness of social challenges (i.e. poverty, addiction)
Social Skill
Shares with others.
Takes turns.
Offers to help others in need.
Does not feel lonely in solitude.
Respects other people’s personal space (18″)
Uses “Please”, “May I”, and “Thank you” as well as “I’m very sorry”.
Knows own limitations and is comfortable saying “No, thank you”, to requests.
Know when you want to be alone and when you want to be with other people.
Asks permission to use other’s belongings.
Recognizes when needing assistance from others; requests assistance as needed
Initiates and co-operates with problem-solving for win-win solutions when there is a difference of opinion or plans.
Able to identify when getting angry or frustrated.
Responds to anger with appropriate coping skills/strategies.
Aware of your feelings throughout the day.
Able to express feelings in appropriate ways.
Able to talk about feelings and concerns/troubles.
Queue in public line-ups and do not let friends join into line.
Understands the consequences of behaviors.
Learns from past mistakes and tries not to repeat them.
Knows what constitutes private/restricted behavior and public behavior such as swearing, picking nose, and letting out gas.



Posted by Judy Arnall

Children are socialized by four agents in society – parents, school, communities and media, however, most people think that school is the only one. Yet, when pressed, many people admit that a playground of 200 children and one teacher or supervisor is not the ideal arrangement to teach children the proper way to get along with other humans.  Children are socialized at home, during sports and in other settings.

When people ask, “What about socialization?” what they mean is not “How will my child learn how to be a decent, compassionate, communicative adult with healthy relationships?”  but rather, “How will my child find friends?” This is a valid concern. First, friends do not always come from school.  Children thrown together because of age do not necessarily get along with each other due to different temperaments, cultures, and gender role expectations.  Friends are found everywhere in a child’s life, not just at school. Clubs, sports teams, church, interest-based classes and neighborhoods are a great way to meet a variety of multi-aged friends.

Second, children are more in need of adults than peers.  The smaller the child-to-adult ratio, the better.  Children learn proper behavior toward each other by the presence of aware adults, who teach positive social skills.  Adults are nurturing, not peers.

Third, there is a myth, not supported by research, that children exposed to negative socialization like bullies, sarcastic comments, teasing, etc., learn how to handle it better later in life.  Research proves the opposite; that a child who has had minimal bullying and teasing, tends to have better long term self-esteem and self-confidence in adulthood. Early exposure to nasty socialization leaves lifelong scars.  The best way to avoid this is to have a lot of adults around to monitor negative socialization and gently correct it, as well as model assertiveness skills, confrontation skills, kindness, manners, and conflict resolution skills to children.

Social Skills Checklist

 A person with good socialization skills…

  • Greets people with a “Hello,” and a handshake.
  • Asks how people are and listens to the response.
  • Can start a conversation by noticing a detail.
  • Maintains eye contact.
  • Smiles and nods while listening.
  • Respects other people’s personal space.
    (FYI!In North America, it’s a peripheral of 18 inches around a person.)
  • Ask questions, listens and responds after listening.
  • Gives opinions that are generally positive and upbeat.
  • Doesn’t criticize excessively and never criticizes other people.
  • Doesn’t talk about other people negatively.
  • Discusses ideas, opinions and own anecdotes rather than other people.
  • Talks for 15 seconds and then listens while the other person takes a turn to talk for about 15 seconds.
  • Doesn’t talk too much about themselves.
  • Doesn’t share too little about themselves so the other person in the conversation has nothing to ask them about.
  • Visibly shows an interest in the other person.
  • Is not distracted from a conversation by cellphone, other electronic devices or other people walking by.
  • Doesn’t interrupt conversations.
  • Can wait and determine the proper moment to interject into the conversation with own insights.
  • Can interpret visual and auditory clues to people’s moods, such as expressions,
    voice tone, and gestures.
  • If exceptionally skilled, can articulate the other’s people’s feelings with empathy to encourage the other person to share.
  • Gives encouragement and empathy when others talk about their woes.
  • Can exit a conversation by saying “Thank you, it was nice to speak with you,”
    and “Goodbye.”
  • Uses “Please”, “May I”, and “Thank you” as well as “I’m very sorry”.
  • Asks permission to use other’s belongings.
  • Articulates when not sure about a situation to seek other people’s guidance.
  • Knows what constitutes private/restricted behaviour and public behaviour such as swearing, picking nose, and letting out gas.
  • Knows when it is appropriate to not speak.
  • Politely and respectfully uses statements beginning with “I think…”,
    “I feel…”, “I would like…”, “I am disappointed…”, to assert ones’ needs.
  • Initiates and co-operates with problem-solving for win-win solutions when there is a difference of opinion or plans.
  • Knows their own limitations and is comfortable saying “No, thank you”, to requests.
  • Shares, take turns, and offers help to people in need.
  • Knows the different levels of conversation and which is appropriate for different audiences and situations.  For example, level one is for making small talk with strangers, level two is sharing facts with acquaintances, level three is sharing beliefs and opinions with friends and lastly, level four, is sharing feelings with family and intimate friends.
  • Is not feeling lonely in solitude.
  • Knows when they want to be alone and when they want to be with other people.
  • Queues in public line-ups and does not let joining friends into their space in line.
  • Can find common ground for conversation with people of different ages, cultures, religions, uniforms, genders and social status (bosses, police etc).

 It’s important to remember that most of these skills are learned in the school-aged, teen and emerging adult years.  It takes a lot of practice but will come with time!

Our Family’s Educational Philosophy

Educational Philosophy – M Family

Each child is a unique person, with different interests, strengths, and challenges.  Each child is capable of becoming a responsible citizen, developing good character, and making wise choices.  Progression will be at each child’s own pace; encouraging areas of strength and allowing extra assistance in areas of weakness.

Throughout our child’s education we will endeavor to develop:

  • The desire and skill for life-long learning
  • Excellence in reading, and oral and written communication
  • Excellence in mathematical ability and spacial/abstract thinking
  • Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making skills
  • Curiosity and imagination
  • Exploration and understanding of the world using the scientific method
  • Resilience and instill confidence in own abilities, strengths, and uniqueness
  • An evaluation of the past and present of humanity, utilizing biographies and “living books”
  • An understanding of social issues, and a discussion of root causes
  • An understanding of and respect for political, cultural, and religious diversity around the world
  • Introspection and reflection for self-evaluation
  • A healthy, active lifestyle
  • Well-informed choices and habits that contribute to the well-being of self and others
  • An appreciation for excellence in literature, art, and music
  • A foundation of good citizenship – rights and responsibilities, service to others
  • A priority for relationships and empathic thinking
  • Practical life skills, including: budgeting & work, cleanliness, communication, community, food & nutrition, hygiene & personal habits, survival skills
  • Strength of character – raising moral, responsible, authentic people of integrity, including: courage (bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality, personal initiative, truthfulness, fortitude), decency and propriety (cleanliness, neatness, order, regularity, diligence, self-discipline, hard work, obedience, self-control, self-regulation, even temper), humanity (love, kindness, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, courtesy, forgiveness, good manners, generosity, faithfulness, usefulness, mercy), justice (citizenship, responsibility, loyalty, teamwork, fairness, leadership), temperance (humility, modesty, prudence, self-restraint), transcendence (appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, joyfulness, humor, meditation, reverence, outdoor appreciation, thanksgiving, spirituality), wisdom and knowledge (creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, attention, imagining, observation, remembering, thinking)
  • Social IQ – the ability to negotiate a variety of social situations with grace and skill
  • Emotional IQ – the ability to manage the range of human emotions with dignity
  • Biblical discernment and worldview, including an understanding of place and purpose

We will endeavor to provide a practical, living education that maximizes each child’s potential.  Our approach is eclectic – a blend of Charlotte Mason’s unit studies and “living books”, Classical Education’s guidance through the three stages of learning: Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom, and Unschooling’s holistic child-directed learning and lack of rote memorization of isolated facts.

Unschooling – What it Looks Like In Our Home


If unschooling can’t work in the real world, nothing at all can. People will say “How will they learn algebra in the real world?” Is there algebra in the real world? If not, why should it be learned? If so, why should it be separated artificially from its actual uses? “Why?” should always be the question that comes before “What?” and “How?” There is a Sesame Street book called Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum. There is a “things under the sea” room and “things in the sky” room, but still each room is just a room in a museum, no windows, everything out of context. Then he opens a big door marked “everything else in the whole wide world” and goes out into the sunshine. There is unschooling.

One of the eclectic pieces we have added to our homeschooling repertoire is “unschooling”.  Basically, how I define this is intentional learning through life and interest.  It is how we learn as adults – new hobbies, new jobs, new skills.

What unschooling is NOT, is just a “fend for yourself/do what you want”.  I think that unschooling gets a bad reputation from people who say they unschool, but really do “noschooling”.  Unschooling involves deliberate learning, but in a way that relates to the child’s life and interest.  The topics are either practical or fascinating to them.

How this looks in our life, is that apart from math, reading, and writing:

  1. The kids are allowed to choose a topic of interest to them each week.  We then spend the week youtubing clips of interest, looking for documentaries, biographies.  We also check out library books around that topic.  It may even involve a field trip or real life situations.
  2. We utilize learning opportunities as they present during our daily lives.  I encourage questions, and direct them to further exploration if they are interested.

For an unschooling resource, I would highly recommend Teach Your Own by John Holt.  He is one of the fathers of Unschooling and a huge proponent of child-centered education.  In this book, he discusses the rationale of homeschooling in general and refutes common objections.  He has suggestions for living, learning, working, and playing with children to accomplish “schooling”.  It’s not a “how-to” manual, but I found it helped me wrap my  head around the philosphy of unschooling.  In the book Holt states “The best incentive to learn how to do good work, and to do it, is to know that the work has to be done, that it is going to be of real use to someone.”  For isn’t that why we learn as adults?  Something practical needs to be done (or we are burning with curiosity about something), and THAT is the motivation to learn.  By definition, however, you won’t find a manual on “How to Unschool”.  It’s kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method.

The Beginner’s Guide to Unschooling by Leo Babauta

It’s an educational philosophy that provides for more freedom than any other learning method, and prepares kids for an uncertain and rapidly changing future better than anything else I know.   The beauty of unschooling is in the search for the answers. If anyone had all the answers, there would be no search.

This is how I describe it — in contrast to school:

  • While school has classes with subjects, unschooling doesn’t.
  • While school has goals set by teachers and the school system, the unschooler (the kid) set his or her own goals.
  • While in school, knowledge is handed down from the teacher to the student, in unschooling the student is empowered to learn for himself.
  • While school has specific books or sets of learning materials, unschoolers can learn from anything — books they find, things on the Internet, siblings or parents, the outdoors, museums, people working in interesting fields, anything.
  • While school is structured, unschooling is like jazz. It’s done on the fly, changing as the student changes.
  • While students in school learn to follow instructions, unschoolers learn to think for themselves and make their own decisions.
  • While students in school are asked to learn at pace arbitrarily set by administrators, unschoolers learn at their own pace.
  • While in school, learning happens in the classroom at certain times, in unschooling learning happens all the time, and there is no division between learning and life.

Let me emphasize that for a minute: in unschooling, life itself is learning. There is no “doing school” … you are learning all the time.

Unschoolers learn just like you or I learn as adults: based on what interests them, figuring out how to learn it on their own, changing as they change, using whatever resources and learning materials they find, driven by curiosity and practical application rather than because someone says it’s important.  This is how I learn as an adult, it’s how our children will learn when they are adults – Why not have them learn like that now?

Why Unschool?

Let’s think about what school is about: preparing kids for jobs (and life) in the future … a future that’s probably a decade or more away. Now think about a decade or more of change: how many of us predicted 13 years ago what life would be like today?

If we can’t predict what our kids’ future will be like, how can we decide today what they should be learning to prepare for that future? We’re preparing them for today’s jobs, not tomorrow’s jobs. School teaches kids a set of facts and skills that they might not need in the future.

Unschooling takes a different approach: kids learn how to learn, how to teach themselves. If you know how to learn and how to teach yourself, then you are prepared for any future. The person who only knows how to learn from a teacher will need a teacher to teach him.

More reasons to unschool:

  • It’s how entrepreneurs learn. Schools prepare kids to follow instructions, like good employees, while entrepreneurs take charge of what they need to know and make decisions for themselves, navigate through uncharted waters. Unschooling prepares kids to be entrepreneurs instead of robots.
  • It’s much more natural. The school system is a fairly modern invention, and isn’t how humans have learned for the majority of our history. Unschooling is the learning method used for most of human history — including by people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, Mozart, Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.
  • It’s freer. The structure of school is good for people who like decisions made for them, but if you like making your own decisions, and figuring out things based on current needs, you will want more freedom.
  • We learn with the kids. While in school, many parents are removed from the learning process, and ask the teachers to take responsibility for their kids’ education, with unschooling you learn with your kids. The most important learning I’ve been doing is learning about learning. We figure out, together, how people learn, what’s the best way to learn, for each kid.
  • Learning is unlimited. In school, learning is limited to the classroom and homework time. Then kids believe they stop learning and they can go play and live life — as if learning is boring and they only do it because they’re forced to. But unschoolers learn that learning happens all day long, every day, no matter what you’re doing. If you’re not studying a textbook, does that mean you’re not learning? Can’t you learn from playing games, going for a hike, talking to strangers? How about from figuring out how to cook dinner, or fix a broken faucet, or make a fort? Learning is all around us, and it’s fun! That’s what unschooling teaches us.

How to Unschool

This is the hard part, because there is no right way to do it, no single way.

Why is there no answer? Because every kid is different. Everyone has different needs, interests, abilities, goals, and environments. What would you say if people told you there was only one way to live your life, one way to do your job? You’d hate it, because it would take away your freedom, and also all the fun.

Telling you how to unschool is like taking away your freedom and all the fun out of it. The questions are everything, and the finding out is the fun.

  • The power of questions. When the kids ask a question, that’s an opportunity to find out something. We’ll look it up together, or look for books on it in the library.

  • People you know are incredible resources. If your kid wants to be a chef, you might know someone who is a chef or owns a restaurant. If your kid wants to create iPhone games, you might know a programmer. If your kid is interested in science, you might know a marine biologist. And so on. Connect them with these people.

  • Games are your best friend. Play all kinds of games. Don’t be concerned with what they’re learning. They’ll have fun, and learn that life can be play, and so can learning.

  • Fun projects. Working on art and science projects can be a lot of fun.

  • Pursue interests. If the kid is interested in something, show her how to find out more, or play with it.

  • Deschool. If you’re new to unschooling, and your kid has gone to school for awhile, it’s often a good idea to “deschool”. That means to not worry about learning or schooling for awhile — a couple weeks, a couple months. The idea is to get them (and you) out of the mindset of schooling, which can be very difficult, because we’ve been trained to think in terms of school. We think we need to be productive teachers and students, and that school has to be done a certain way, and that if the kids aren’t learning something from an activity, it has no value. All that is crap, of course, so take some time getting out of that mindset.

  • Expose them. Learn to give kids a variety of stimuli — books and magazines lying around the house, watch shows about interesting things, play old board games, get out and explore your town, meet different people, find stuff together on the Internet. This exposure will help them to explore new interests — even if they don’t seem interested at first, the exposure will allow them to find new things on their own.

  • Learn as you go. The most important thing is that you need to figure out what works for you. Try different things. Play. Make things. Go out and do things, meet people, have fun learning about new things. Fun, always fun, never hard work unless it’s fun, never force, always get pulled.

  • Be patient. You won’t see “results” right away … changes in your kid will happen over time, as he learns that learning is fun and can be done all the time in lots of ways. You also might get frustrated that your kids doesn’t want to study or read or write papers or whatever. But instead, let him play music or play pretend games or read comic books or play outside.

  • Trust is important. It’s hard in the beginning (we’re still learning to do this), but it’s important to trust that kids can learn on their own, with minimal guidance, and that if they’re interested in something, they’ll learn about it. We all think kids can’t learn on their own, but they can.