Don’t Ever Use the Word “Gifted”

Gifted Children @ Three Cornered Hug

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about gifted children. These have ranged from complaints that the public schools can’t handle them, to comments on how teachers think you’re saying your child is “better”, to parents who want people to wake up and realize that every child is gifted. While all of these have elements of truth to them, when I hear this word, I’ve a completely different thought. Grandma.

If you’ve read my blog regularly, you may know that my paternal grandmother was a retired teacher who fully supported my homeschooling endeavors. At an early age, she recognized that my son was extremely bright. And although we were both excited at the opportunities that homeschooling offers for such a child, she gave me one piece of advice that I’ll never forget: “Sarah, never use the word ‘gifted’ in front of him”.

I didn’t ask her what she meant, but have followed her directions to this day.

Now this is the place that I could go on forever with commentary about my thoughts on this subject, but I think I will leave you to ponder this statement, the ramifications of using such a word, or whether it matters at all…just as she allowed me to do.

You NEED this compass

You know those irritating compasses? The ones that are half eye-stabber, half pencil, and 100% irritating? The ones that somehow keep getting bigger as you use them, so instead of making a nice circle, you wind up with a drawing of a snail?

Well, leave your snails behind and get this great SAFE-T compass. While it’s not perfect, we’ve found it to be SOOOOOOOO much better than your average math tool. At this cheap price (just over a buck+shipping), you can’t lose!

Find it here.

SAFE-T Compass @ Three Corneered Hug

Beat Winter Boredom: Things to do inside

Ideas to Beat Winter Boredom @ Three Cornered HugOld Man Winter has teamed up with Jack Frost and Punxsutawney Phil this winter to make a very miserable season for much of the US. If your kids you are tired of being cooped up, check out these ideas.

  • Play “Pockey” We invented this game a couple of years ago. Move all of your chairs away from the kitchen table and play ping pong–using your hands as paddles.
  • Have a sock fight in your living room. (Remember to hide behind a chair!)
  • Two words: SHRINKY DINKS
  • Put a pan outdoors to catch the snow, and use it make some snow cream.
  • Learn a useful skill with your kids. Grab a length of rope or paracord and head over to this knot tying guide
  • Learn how to finger knit
  • Make a PVC pipe fort (see this post to get started)
  • Roast marshmallows over your stove
  • Take apart broken appliances or electronics to see how they work
  • Let your kids do art in the tub! Color some dollar store shaving cream with a little food coloring (mix thoroughly in bowls before giving it to them)
  • Dance! Teach your kids to do the ChaCha Slide or look up vids with some old dances like the Twist or the Charlston.
  • Pull out the old home videos. Your kids will love to see themselves, and it will remind you to cherish your time together.
  • Make some new home movies–maybe of you trying the dance moves above!
  • Go to the Weather Channel’s site to search weather all over the world– from the equator to the poles. You may think yourself quite fortunate when you see what the temps are elsewhere!
  • Invest in a little indoor trampoline or a pedal exerciser (about $25 each)
  • See if any of your older neighbors would be interested in playing some games, or check to find out what you can do for them
  • Pick op a fridge box at Lowe’s (you’ll have to get there early) and make a house or castle
  • Order some pre-refrigerated bulbs to force indoors or start a potato or onion plant in a jar of water
  • Make up your own board game
  • Set up an indoor obstacle course
  • Have an indoor Nerf war!
  • Have your kids Facetime or call Grandma.
  • Make a card or some art to send to a grandparent or shut in. (After my Grandma passed, we found all of the cards and art we had sent her over the years in a chest)
  • Make your own play-dough: oatmeal, cinnamon, kool-aid, or fun cloud dough
  • Do a Google search to try to find possible volunteer opportunities in your area
  • Hang out at the pet store if you think you can do it without your kids begging for a furry friend!
  • Clean out your kids’ rooms. They are sure to find some old books or games they forgot they had!

If you have other ideas- please submit them in the comment section below!

Picky Eaters & Persimmons OR How to NOT Raise a Picky Eater

Picky eating @ Three Cornered HugAs a child, I was a horribly picky eater, and so thin…food struggles were pretty regular around my house. Fortunately, I was still exposed to a lot of different kinds of food, having so many multicultural friends and experiences, and as an adult I’m not so picky.

Still, I determined to try to change that for my son, and I am blessed to have a child that will try pretty much anything. While some of that has to be genetic (from Dad), I’d like to think some of my crazy methods worked:)

And so, without further ado, let’s get down to business!

1. From day one, let your child determine when they’re hungry and when they’re done eating. Now please understand I do think it’s wise to offer a child milk, and later, food at regular times. However, if they’re not hungry don’t force it. Note that I am not an advocate of allowing a child to skip meals only to eat junky snacks later. If my son didn’t have much breakfast when he was younger, for instance, I’d save his food for later or pack some healthy food if we were going out. Also, some parents try to push their kids to eat– but really, when’s the last time you heard of a normal child starving themselves to death?

2. Starting when your child is very young (if you still can), try to keep a lot of variety in your diet, and encourage your child to try it all with you. Don’t make a big deal about it, just serve it on their plates with everything else. Remember, sometimes it takes several exposures to a food before a child will try or like it.

3. Early on, institute a “try one bite rule”, and stick to it with a no nonsense attitude as if there was no other option. I do not condone trying to force a child to eat any more than that, however.

4. Make trying new foods like an adventure. Many times, we like to pick up something new and strange when we go to the grocery store. Here we have a neat store called Sprouts, where we can score good deals on a large variety of fruits and veggies. One day my mom was incredulous over the phone as I told her I was looking up how to serve persimmons. “You mean you bought them and you don’t even know what to do with them?” Yep, that’s just what we do. Buy first, then figure it out. I had never seen persimmons sold in the other 2 states we’ve lived in and we were curious. Delicious!!!

5. Try foods from other cultures. Okay, this one actually rides the coattails of the last one, but it was getting a little long. We’ve made excursions to Asian or Mexican grocery stores for years. You will see some wild things there (or they might seem wild to you if you are a US native), so for young kids it best to try to stick to certain kinds of foods to start. In fact, I guess I would mostly recommend sweets (even though I’m usually NOT really big on giving kids sweets) so your child gets a nice first impression. One such food is ice cream Mochi. Basically, these are little ice cream balls wrapped up in sweet rice flour dough. Yum! (there’s also a more traditional sort filled with bean curd, but try the ice cream first). Botan are little square candies made from sweet rice flour, and they’re so cool! You take off an outer wrapper and there’s another wrapper underneath made of rice that dissolves in your mouth. Kids think that’s pretty neat. Pocky are little cookie sticks dipped in chocolate or strawberry flavored goodness. If you want something less sweet, you might follow this recipe for Russian blini’s (like crepes), or you can pick up some Polish pierogi’s (dumplings filled with mashed potatoes, usually) at the regular grocery store in the freezer section.

ID Card for Homeschoolers

Homeschooler ID's

Getting a student ID is one of the cool things about going to school. As a kid, you feel like you’re carrying a driver’s license. Fortunately, homeschooled kids don’t have to miss out on this.

Some years ago, a friend pointed me to where you can print out a personalized student ID for FREE at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. It’s best if you laminate it. As an alternative you can have one printed out on nice plastic similar to a “real” identification card for about $8. If you want, you can also have a teacher’s card made for yourself.

These are not only “cool” but you can use them to prove your homeschooling status and receive great discounts at many stores or other attractions around the country.

Boys & Writing

Boys & Writing @Three Cornered Hug

“Boys just struggle more with writing. In fact I wouldn’t even try to put a pencil in a boy’s hand til he was 6, or maybe even older.”

This came from my grandmother, who was a retired teacher. The statement shocked me, but I took her word for it. There was nothing about kids that she didn’t understand.

For the next two months, when I did schoolwork with my reluctant writer, he told me the answers and I wrote. This way, frustration with lack of fine motor skills disappeared, and he zoomed ahead. One day, he asked me, “How come you never let me write anymore?” Boy, was I thrilled! “You can write…want to?” The rest is history. Well, sort of. We still have to do what we can to avoid
“Male Writing Fatigue Syndrome”.

After years of experience in this area, I thought I would share some of the things we’ve done to work around this very common problem.

For younger kids:

  • First of all chill out!
  • Find dotted fonts and print out pages with words based on a child’s favorite subject. For instance: my son has loved cars for years, so we printed out pages with car names on them. We would talk about the cars as he traced the dots. For your child, you may use the names of the engines on Thomas, or Spiderman related things. Even if he can’t read them all yet, he’ll like it if you tell him what it says.

Here are some fonts you might choose from:

KG Primary Dots (dafont.com)
Dotness (dafont.com)
LL Dot (dafont.com)
BP Dots (found at Font Squirrel)

  • When my son was little, his grandma got him a doodle toy very similar to this. I would say a glow writing app on an ipad would do a similar job if you have one.
  • Get a dry erase marker and let him write on your mirror.
  • Oddly enough, sometimes just an interesting type of paper may spark interest. A friend of ours worked at a printing company, and gave us a whole box of different papers. Some were just thick like index card stock, and some had textures or were colored. This really sparked an interest in writing and drawing at our house.
  • If you are a homeschooling mom, one of the biggest advantages you may have is the time and ability to do schoolwork one on one with your child. While you need to make sure that he can form letters, and learn proper punctuation as he gets older, do as much work as you can orally. This may mean, for instance, writing only during Spelling and English, and answering questions for science and other subjects orally.

For older kids:

  • The advice directly above still applies. We write out in nice proper sentences with properly formed letters for some subjects. For others we may do the work orally or even use a dictation app or something similar to get words down quickly and efficiently and then print them out.
  • IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) is a wonderful writing curriculum for boys. Very engaging. We have changed it up a little, however. If the paper is written right with all the proper elements the first time, there’s no need to write several drafts.
  • If your child has other interests you may be able to incorporate writing with those. For instance, my son loves to draw up his own maps (hello Tolkien!) and although he may write sloppy at other times, I notice that he’s very careful to write the names on the maps nicely. Same for drawing comics, or names on concept car and plane plans. I’ve been amazed at the beautiful writing he applies to these, and try to encourage it!

Hopefully, this will be enough to get started. If you have any other ideas- please submit to comments.