It’s National Poetry Month! I just happen to love poetry and have been writing it and reading it for a long time. I’ve also taught it over the years to students in my Creative Writing, Lit & Comp and Poetry classes. Poetry is word art and if you are going to study writing, you must, in my opinion, study poetry!
Firstly, it’s a great way for even very young children to learn the rhythm and cadence of good writing.
Secondly, if you have your kids memorize poetry, they commit beautiful words and word pictures to memory to draw on later as they learn to write. You are giving your kids a jump start on great writing styles.
Thirdly, as every professional artist knows, real talent at art takes dedication and commitment to learning the forms; in other words, discipline and adherence to traditional structures and styles of each type of creative expression. For a dancer, these would be the 7 movements, for musicians, the scales, for writers, excellent sentence structure and the ability to turn a phrase. Learning the basics well, memorizing them so that they are second nature allows one to play and create in new and expressive ways. The true artist takes what has been and turns it on its head. For the musician that means practicing scales. And for the writer, learning traditional poetry is like practicing scales.
What is Poetry?
Simply put, poetry is a combination of rhythm and imagery. It is the use of forms, meter and rhyme to create memorable word pictures. Don’t all of us have a fanciful picture in our heads of Jack Sprat who ate no fat and his wife who ate no lean? Or a regal thought about the official-looking King’s men whose best efforts did not put Humpty Dumpty together again?
Poetry, by its very nature, makes an excellent mnemonic, as evidenced by our ability to recall rhymes and simple poems we learned early in life and haven’t heard for decades. This would explain why Shakespeare is so quotable, as he wrote primarily in Iambic Pentameter (a poetic form that uses 5 meters of |da-DUM| – interestingly enough, the same pattern in which our heart beats- |da-DUM| |da-DUM| |da-DUM|, etc.
Will my kids take poetry studies seriously? I would say a resounding, “Tomorrow and Today!” Young kids love the fun wordplay of simple rhymes and poems and take great joy in tropes such as awesome alluring alliterations and phosphorical rhetorical questions.
Once you empower them with forms and tropes they often reveal at the challenge of it, laugh uproariously at the ability to be ridiculous and shock even themselves at the profound appreciation they feel for simple things. Things that they can now fully express without embarrassment because the form demanded their full attention and in giving it they discovered they felt and thought deeply about important things.
Yes, I believe your students will take poetry seriously.
How to get started
Memorize nursery rhymes and simple poems
Memorize Shakespeare or Horatius at the Bridge
Gather fellow homeschoolers for a recitation night
(The following post is a guest post from Nicole Henry, True North Homeschool Academy Junior High teacher.)
I cut my teaching teeth at a private, Christian school in inner-city Chicago.
I found the job posting on a lunch-hour visit to my alma mater, Moody Bible Institute, which happened to be just down the street from the receptionist job I was working at an architectural firm to put my husband through his last semester of undergrad. I hated that job, which was why I found myself staring at the “Teachers Wanted” flyer stabbed haphazardly into the tack-chewed bulletin board.
“Huh,” I thought to myself, “I could do that! I mean, how hard could it be?
Anything is better than being chained to a desk answering phones all day.” I had a theology degree. I had taken the one required class on Philosophy of Christian Education to graduate. True, I had slept through most of it, tucked comfortably away in the back corner of the lecture hall, but I’d passed, so that’s all that mattered, right?
My husband and I were very newly married and living in a cute little apartment in Wrigleyville at the time. He would happily bike to class and I would despairingly trudge to the “El” and sleep-sway with the rest of the commuters to our various low-end jobs. After getting to work the day after seeing the job posting, I took a minute and found the school’s location on the giant map of Chicago that had pins on it wherever the firm’s projects were located. There were no pins even close to it.
“Hey,” I asked the nearest architect squinting into his computer screen, “What’s this area like?” He got up and squinted at the map. “That’s the ghetto. Don’t go there.” While I studied the area, he sat back down without another word. I called the school that afternoon.
“Do you have a teaching degree and any teaching experience?” was, of course, the first question the principal asked.
“Uh, well, no. I mean, I’ve taught some Sunday school classes, but not much else.”
“How do you get along with Jr. High kids? We need an 8th-grade homeroom teacher, who can also teach 6th and 7th grade literature, and maybe some history.”
I couldn’t remember the last time I had even been in the same room with a Jr. High kid.
I had no idea how I “got along with them” and I was a theology geek, not a literature and history geek, though I did love to read science fiction and fantasy.
“Oh, yes! I’m sure I could do that!” I said.
“Great! When can you come in for an interview?”
I met the principal the next day after work. I took the “El” to the ghetto and prayed for protection. I didn’t die, which is always a good thing.
She hired me after 30 minutes.
“Ok, so you’ll be teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade literature, 8th-grade American History, and 7th and 8th grade Bible. Ok?”
“American History?” I questioned.
“Yes, are you ok with that?” she asked.
“Well, I should remind you that I’m Canadian,” I said.
“Yes, but you said you had a work permit, correct?”
“Yes, I have a work permit, but I don’t know anything about American History,” I said.
“You will by the end of the year! Here’s the textbook!” she said cheerily as she handed it to me. “Oh, so just so you know, the salary is $14,000 per year and, unfortunately, we don’t offer any benefits. Is that ok with you?”
Apparently, it was, because before I knew it, I had given notice at the architectural firm, it was Back to School night, and I was throwing up in the bathroom because I was going to be meeting parents whose kids were only six years younger than I was. Parents who were expecting the 8th-grade teacher to prepare their kids for high school. Parents who were trusting me.
Only by God’s extraordinary grace (and, I’m convinced, His sense of humor), I pulled it off.
The night ended, and they were all still going to send their kids to school the next day. I think about it now, 25 years later, and it still amazes me. I didn’t know then that those parents were desperate. That some of those homes were so ravaged by drugs and gangs and death that the school stood like a beacon of hope and light in the chaos, and the teachers there, who were willing to work for a pittance with no benefits, were like saviors come to give life to their children. They would have taken anyone with a pulse.
From Day 1, it was crazy.
The kids were slouchy, grumpy, jaded, and hurting. I was a know-nothing white girl, just another teacher using the school as a stepping stone to better things – I’d be gone before they could blink.
“Miss Henry, you can’t wear those colors to school! You’re gonna get shot!” We had moved to the ghetto to be closer to the school. We were in the “neutral” territory between two gangs. I’ve never worn black with green again.
“Miss Henry, I didn’t get my homework done because the cops showed up at my house last night.”
“Miss Henry, I don’t know where that porn magazine come from, I swear!”
“Miss Henry, how come we don’t read nothin’ about Puerto Rico in this book? We’s a territory, right?”
“Miss Henry, try this chicken adobo. My abuela made it. It’s amazing!”
“Miss Henry, does God harden my heart like he hardened Pharaoh’s?”
“Miss Henry, what does it mean to ‘die to self’? That just sounds weird.”
“Miss Henry, you really gonna take us to DC? I ain’t even been to downtown Chicago!”
“Miss Henry, my brother got shot last night.”
“Miss Henry, my brother died.”
“Miss Henry, will you come to my brother’s funeral?”
I can’t count the number of times my heart broke for, and with those kids. But on the flip side, I can’t count the number of times I laughed with them, questioned with them (remember, I was only six years older than they were), and, surprisingly, ate with them – Puerto Ricans make delicious food!
It was never about what I was teaching them, although of course, that was important, it was about what God was teaching me,through them. That to teach most effectively, one must love the students and be invested in their souls.
Yes, I learned how to make lesson plans, and scope and sequences, and subject goals. I even found that I have a talent for writing curriculum that I still use today. I also learned to love American History – all history in fact – and classic literature. But when I left Chicago to teach 4th and 5th grade at an affluent classical school outside the Beltway in Washington, DC, I left part of me behind. Those Jr. High kids, with their ubiquitous snark and silliness, and unending questions, as well as their increasing cynicism and sadness, quickly found a tender spot in my heart that I didn’t even know was there.
It’s been many years since I first walked into that 8th-grade classroom, and many, many students have sat with me and learned, but those kids have never left my mind.
Some of them have been lost to me, swallowed up by the ravenous pit that is inner-city life, but some have sought me out on social media and we have connected again in a new way, though they insist they must still call me “Miss Henry”. Now their children are in school. Now they are meeting the terrified teacher on Back to School Night. Some of them even chose to be teachers. I’d like to hope that I had a small role to play in that decision.
Nicole Henry is the Executive Director of Invictus Classical Press, a start-up company whose mission is to create unique classical curriculum for use by private schools and homeschools. Nicole’s first passion is teaching the Bible, which dovetails nicely with her love of history, geography, art, and literature – she’s a humanities girl through and through!
When she’s not writing curriculum, homeschooling, running (or attempting to), and trying to keep her four kids fed, she can be found merrily reading through various books, listening to podcasts about all kinds of things, and teaching herself to draw. Nicole will be teaching 7th and 8th-grade History and 7th and 8th grade Bible this year at True North Homeschool Academy.
At True North Homeschool Academy, we are all about launching our kid successfully as young adults. Ideally, we like this launch to be with little to no debt, and in a way that equips them to succeed vocationally, as well as in life. One of the ways we are doing this is by providing CLEP prep classes.
What is CLEP?
CLEP is College level Exam Program. There are over 33 exams available that are accepted by 2900 colleges and universities in the following areas:
Literature & Composition
History & Social Science
Science & Mathematics
By taking a CLEP test, you can save “Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.” CLEP exams have been in existence for over 50 years and had over 1800 test centers. This program allows students to demonstrate mastery in college-level material and earn college credit through testing. There is no minimum age at which your kids can start taking CLEP exams and your test scores will “bank” for up to ten years!
Not every college accepts every CLEP exam, and if you know where your high school student plans to attend college, you can check with their admissions counselor or website. If it’s not stated on the website, and you are assured by someone on staff or faculty that the CLEP exam will be accepted for credit, get that in writing. In my state, the state college system will take up to 10 CLEP exams toward a degree, but it varies by major and school.
If you are interested in taking some CLEPs as upper-level high school courses, I would suggest starting with some basic general education requirements: College Algebra, English Comp I and II, Environmental or Natural Science, Psychology or World Religions or Government. Taking just 5 Clep exams totals 15 College Credits (and can go on a High School Transcript for one credit as well and can be counted for a higher weight, which affects the G.P.A.) which is an entire semester’s worth of college. Considering that even inexpensive school cost around $20,000 a year, half of that is significant savings!
If you are looking to earn you Associates degree or even entire undergraduate degree through Clepping, Dual Enrollment, and other less conventional methods, be sure to check out the “Big Three”; Thomas Edison State College, Excelsior State College, and Charter Oak State College. All of these consider life experiences, extensive CLEP exams, and dual enrollment creidts towards an Associate of Arts or a Bachelor’s Degree.
We have a friend who got their entire undergraduate degree in two years through Clepping and then went on to Medical School. Of course, he had terrific MCAT scores and references along with his degree, but it is doable to take an unconventionally earned Bachelor’s degree and go on to a competitive graduate program.
True North Homeschools Academy is committed to utilizing the freedom and unique opportunities we have as homeschoolers to bring classes to you that prepare your students to take CLEP exam.
This fall, for instance, we have an amazing group of young adults (10th-12th graders) meeting weekly for 90 minutes to study Psychology. This class has been challenging and thought-provoking, required a boatload of homework, reading, studying and learning vocabulary, provided great discussions and some good laughs and readied participants to take the CLEP exam at the end of the semester.
This class is offered for one semester (just like a college class would be) and uses Zoom and Moodle (also, like many college classes) and counts for 1 High School Credit. If the CLEP exam is taken and passed 3 College Credits under the General Education requirement of Social Science will be earned. Not only are our students receiving college credit for pennies on the dollar but they are avoiding the social indoctrination that is so prevalent on College campuses, especially in the area of Social Sciences.
Why pay for these classes when our kids can study and take a CLEP test on their own?
For the simple reason, that upper-level classes are challenging, and difficult things are often more exciting and enjoyable when done with others (Ecc 4:9), the teacher brings their experience and expertise to bear, and the kids have incentive to keep going even when the going gets tough!
If CLEP tests are not something you’ve considered before, I hope you take a look at them. We’d love to partner with you to guide your student through some fun and challenging High School classes that also prepare your students well for CLEP exams!
(This spring we will be offering Civics as well as Environmental Science– both count towards one credit of High School and are also CLEP prep classes. Check those out today!)
We all know that homeschooling is fantastic right? I mean, we can tailor our children’s education to their specific needs. There’s also plenty of time to be spent together, meaning that we can build deep and lasting bonds with our children. However, if we are honest, there can be some downsides. Group projects are hard to come by, and sometimes it’s hard to instill a sense of deadlines and responsibilities that come with a group school setting. So what’s the remedy? Live homeschool classes of course! See five reasons why we love live homeschool classes.
(So what if you are ALL for live homeschool classes but there are none offered near you? True North Homeschool Academy has a solution for that too! Keep reading.)
The first reason to love live homeschool classes is the fellowship.
This is often an overlooked aspect of live online classes and one of the big differences between live and self-paced or pre-recorded classes. At True North Homeschool Academy our students can see and hear the teacher and each other. They know each other’s names and even work in small groups in our zoom break-out rooms.
They have a sense of community and fellowship with classmates in a controlled, adult-directed setting. A setting that is geared toward academic growth, and based on Judeo-Christian values. For instance, in our Writing Club, the kids regularly send each other their writing outside of class for critique and evaluation. Kids are meeting and growing in relationships with teachers and students around the country — and outside of it!
Another great reason to love live homeschool classes is that they provide accountability.
Live online classes require that your student shows up ready and prepared at regularly appointed times. Given assignments have deadlines and our teachers provide a rubrics and standards of expectations. Students learn to understand the importance of a Syllabus, how to use it, and how to negotiate if they can’t meet deadlines.
The Goldilocks Principle makes another case for live homeschool classes.
The Goldilocks Principle is an often overlooked and powerful principal! This principle simply means that people yearn for novelty and new challenges. Kids want to be pushed to explore and expand beyond what they know in a way that allows them to excel- not too easy, not too difficult, just right. Live, online learning can help you achieve that sweet spot.
At True North Homeschool Academy, our teachers have taught in a variety of classroom settings for a long time. They understand how to personalize the material. This personalization means that students who are struggling can continue to grow and excel, while students that are ready for more significant challenges can take off and fly fast. Our classes are personalized and prepared to accommodate students so that they can excel, regardless of their starting point.
Live homeschool classes can also help your students acclimate to someone else’s standards.
Let’s face it, as homeschooling mommas, sometimes we give our kids a lot of leeways. Maybe too much. If our kids don’t make our deadlines or perform up to our standards, they know we are still going to love them, and they probably will still “pass.” In fact, one of my daughter’s friends in college told her that she was “spoiled” because she got to learn to mastery- never having suffered through a failed test or deadline.
Having an external person to be accountable to can take a lot of pressure off of both parents and students. Our expectations are clearly stated at the beginning of each class and students know where to find the syllabus. Students receive regular feedback and assessments, and our teachers are available to talk with parents through each course. Instructors also give semester and year-end grades, along with a Certificate of Achievement, upon course completion. Because class standards and expectations are clearly stated ahead of time students get no surprises and can work towards stated expectations, knowing that they’ve accomplished along the way. Sometimes this falls by the wayside with busy homeschool parents.
Finally, live online classes can help your homeschool student become more tech savvy.
At True North Homeschool Academy, we utilize tech that your students will encounter in college, like Zoom Rooms and Moodle. Our teachers spend time allowing the kids to explore and use the tech we have at our disposal, such as electronic chats, hand raising, break-out rooms, and whiteboard capabilities. Students learn about email, how to submit homework electronically and how to interact with teachers who live in different time zones and perhaps in different countries. Students learn first hand about the valuable and beautiful connections tech provides. These tech skills will serve them well for life.
So now, what if you are convinced that live homeschool classes are something that you HAVE to have in your homeschool, but you are MILES from even the closest co-op? Well, True North Homeschool Academy has a solution for you! We offer live ONLINE homeschool courses. And we hate to brag, but they are kind of amazing. We have top-notch technology, amazing teachers, and a fantastic course line-up. Don’t just take our word for it, check it all out today in our course catalog!
For a Limited Time all courses are 10% off!!! Hurry and shop now, these prices won’t last forever!
Executive Functioning a big “buzzword” in education right now. If you have a child diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Autism, Aspergers or a Learning Disability, you have probably come across the term Executive Functioning.
So, how does Executive Functioning affect your child? Have you seen any of the following?
Easily frustrated – fights or quits tasks easily, melts down easily.
Anxious – worries about things out of their control, or about making mistakes excessively.
Worried or bothered by seemingly “little” things – could by physical things or academic things.
Frustrated by sitting still – constantly on the move, needs to have hands/body moving
Following directions is arduous labor – can follow one direction at a time (well, maybe sometimes?), may have difficulty with more than one direction at a time.
Difficulty completing tasks – may start things and not finish, or gets frustrated and stops rather than ask for help.
Struggles with getting started in tasks – even seemingly simple assignments (or larger ones) are difficult to get started because they don’t know where to begin
Strains to keep track of the processes of math and reading – forgets to go back to the passage to help find answers or reread, loses their place in a multi-step math problem or with long division/multiplication type processes.
Easily bothered or distracted by light levels (high or low) or noise (too loud or too quiet) – textures, sounds, lights, cold, heat, blue skies, gray skies, dogs barking, someone says something unexpected – these and more distract and bother our kids at times.
Flexibility is an issue; may struggle greatly with being able to “switch gears” when life demands it.
Planning and prioritizing are difficult or impossible to the chagrin and frustration of the person.
Working memory can be faulty and frustrating.
Response inhibition (ability to control one’s own emotions) is a struggle or lost battle.
What is Executive Functioning?
The official definition from LDONLINE (LD Online) is:“The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.”This means that a lot of the above behaviors that are sometimes considered “careless” and “willful” can be traced back to issues with Executive Functioning.
In the course description for True North Homeschool Academy’s Creating Priorities Class for Executive Functioning, I describe it as it looks at my house…Perhaps your child struggles with executive functioning skills, as mine does. When it is time to do his schoolwork, my son loses his pencil, loses his worksheet, will solve the problem with blocks but forget to write the answer, disappears, jumps up and runs around the house, find a million other things to do, and then will finally sit down, solve two questions, and then he’s off again….My son, like many others, struggles with executive functioning skills. He doesn’t MEAN to be unorganized and distracted, but his brain just can’t help it. Like many people with a diagnosis, he also struggles with time management, self-control, memory and other cognitive issues; common for those whose brains are developing differently. As a family, we are working on many things to help him learn how to better manage his time and his work.
What can be done to enhance and teach Executive Functioning Skills?
You can focus on specific skills that may be lacking. For example –
How to study – how to make outlines, study key terms, pay special attention to charts, summaries and footnotes, go over review questions
Using a checklist – provide younger children with a checklist of tasks (you might have to begin with 1 at a time and slowly increase), have them check off tasks as they complete them. You can even work in breaks or “rewards” as tasks are completed.
Using a planner – older students can utilize a planner with assignments for the day or week to be completed. To gain independence, allow students to complete the assignments in their own order. If needed, specify which tasks can be done on any day, and which must be done on specific days (if your child needs repetition in math, set the expectation that one math assignment must be completed each day instead of doing them all on a single day).
Using graphic organizers for writing, or reading – graphic organizers are great tools for analyzing fiction and nonfiction literature, and for brainstorming and organizing writing assignments.
Using anchor charts or a math notebook to show the steps needed to solve math problems – Math notebooks (classrooms usually also use anchor charts) are great tools to help students remember how to solve specific types of questions, and to follow step-by-step directions on more complicated math (like long division or multiplication)
Create vocabulary or sight word flashcards – index cards create great flashcards to review sight words, vocabulary for any subject or to create your own math fact flashcards.
Give choices (make sure all choices presented are acceptable to you) – A child who is easily frustrated or tends to “battle” you about schoolwork is sometimes feeling out of control of the situation. So they work to regain control by fighting against what they see is the source of the problem (you). When you provide choices, it helps them feel back in control. The catch is, you only present choices that are acceptable to you. If it is not acceptable, it is not a choice. If there is still an argument, write the choices down or draw pictures. You can’t argue with something that is written. If they continue to try to argue with you, you just point. Eventually, they will make a decision from the choices provided. (It might take a little while the first time, but it gets easier as you continue).
Where can you go for help?
There are a lot of resources out there to get help. Here are a few suggestions of things to consider:
You can address the auditory/visual processing issues that come with these issues through a neurodevelopment brain training program like Dianne Craftor LIttle Giant Steps.
Fall Freebies for the astute and frugal homeschooler
As a homeschooling Momma, you are probably on the lookout for quality, inexpensive materials. I can do you one better and offer you up to $150 in Fall Freebies. Over 13 Free Homeschooling Resources such as high-quality Unit Studies, Copywork, Lapbooks, and Notebooking.
These are high-quality goods, related to all homeschooling things fall and so much more.
We will definitely be downloading a copy of Paul Revere’s Ride- Copy working in Print, Cursive and Manuscript Style by Bonnie Rose. There are several copy workbooks to chose from. We’ve used Copybooks for years and love them. It’s just a simple, easy way to learn great truths, memorize beautiful words and copy your handwriting. Perfect combo to my way of thinking!
Also, Philosophies at a Glance- the Pre-Socratic Edition by Stacy Farrell. We studied Philosophy last year and I’m excited to add this to our high school homeschool morning basket. We’ve also used Stacey Farrell’s Philippian’s Bible study in the past and found it to be excellent. Love using products from homeschooling authors that we know and trust. Stacy’s work is always well researched and excellent- this will be a great way to cement our understanding of philosophies and a perfect tie-in to our continued logic studies this year.
And because my 15-year-old has taken over most of the cooking, I’ll be downloading Cooking up History with the founding father- a 4-week micro unit. Coupled with the Culinary Arts course that she is taking through True North Homeschool Academy. They had us at the pie featured on the front cover. We are definitely pie people!
Of course, don’t forget to grab a copy of the Freebie we’ve included! We’ve learned so much through celebrating biblical feasts and festivals and it all began by celebrating Sukkot years ago. You can read a bit more about our adventure, what it all means, how to get started and download some colorful printables, including prayer cards as well.
All you have to do to claim one, two or all of these amazing freebies is to head on over to Homeschool Freebies and Giveaways and get the links for all or part of this amazing Curriculum Bundle.
Use them now or stash them for stocking stuffers, pull them out during the dead of winter or save them for a rainy day. Mix and match and create your own unique study, the sky’s the limit and the choices are amazing.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
3rd Party Cookies
This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.
Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!