Finishing Strong #138: Girls & Boys

Welcome to Finishing Strong ~ a weekly link-up dedicated to families homeschooling middle & high school kids. Each Wednesday, moms just like you share their best tips, encouragement, advice, and more for teaching older kids at home.

Finishing-Strong-500x500I am delighted that families homeschooling middle and high school age students are coming together and finding inspiration in one another. That has been the goal of Finishing Strong since its inception. Thank you!!

Finishing Strong is hosted by me here at EvaVarga along with my friends – Heather from Blog She Wrote, Megan from Education Possible, and Heidi from Starts at Eight.

I know you will find the posts that have been shared with us inspiring! Grab a cup of tea, kick back, and take some time to check out the wonderful posts shared below. What are your favorites?

STEM

Girls in STEM

My daughter has been interested in engineering, sciences, and mathematics since she was just a wee little one. I thereby seek out opportunities and experiences to challenge and inspire her to pursue these areas as a possible career.

I’ve shared several tips and activities to encourage girls in STEM. Take a few minutes to browse the materials available here – Encouraging Girls in STEM – as well as learn more about upcoming events.

The annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day will be here before you know it (it’s February 22nd) and events are being planned across the nation. In preparation for this annual celebration of Girls in STEM, there is an opportunity to take part in a webinar (Wednesday, November 8th at 12pm EST) to help make this the best Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day yet!

Sign up for the free webinar and you’ll get ideas to help jumpstart your planning and:

• Learn about new resources and programs
• Hear two Girl Day Role Models share their experience
• Discover how you can make a difference in a girl’s future
• Get Inspired!
• And more!

Finishing Strong

We hope you’ll take some time to check out the amazing posts that have been shared with us. We are so thankful to all of our readers and contributors who help make Finishing Strong a key resource for everyone homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

The top posts shared last week

Below are a couple of the posts I most enjoyed from last week. The first post is the one that received the most clicks. You won’t want to miss it! alt title
Boyschooling Homeschool Curriculum for 5th and 12th Grades (2017-18)

from Cindy at Our Journey Westward ~ Cindy coins the term, boyschooling … I love it! Hop over to learn more about the curriculum choices she has made for each of her two boys.

What Some Days in a Girl’s Year 7 Look Like

from Carol at Journey and Destination ~ Carol provides us with a little peak into “a day in the life” of her daughter as they work through Ambleside Online Year 7.

Fall Nature Walk – Scavenger Hunt Lists & Resources

from Heidi at Starts at Eight ~ Nature study is near and dear to my heart. I really miss doing it with my kiddos and need to carve out more time in our week. Heidi shares a great list of resources and materials to implement nature study in your homeschool.

@ @ @

As always, thank you for helping us to make Finishing Strong a key resource for families who are homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

What are you going to share with us this week?

Guidelines:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 4 sites. If you were featured, we would love for you to use the “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

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Mentors & Role Models: The Importance of Positive Adult Influences

According to research, for parents trying to raise a young man in our current culture, there are numerous obstacles: changes in the educational system, video games, ADHD medication, endocrine disrupters, and a lack of positive, masculine role models. Years ago, upon recommendation by our pediatrician, I read the book Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax. The ideas presented in the book still resonate with me today.
boys_mentorsExperiential Learning

In the book, Boys Adrift, Leonard Sax claims that boys need to have more experiential or hands on learning experiences, they need more contact with nature, they need to read a variety of books for fun, boys excel with competition, they need to interact with good male role models, and they need hands-on training in working and serving. Lastly, Sax explains in depth why video games are especially addicting to boys and the reasons why they are so harmful to their motivation and progress.

In our home, we try to balance video games with time outdoors and thrilling, real-life experiences. Though we certainly can improve, I feel we do a good job being consistent in this regard. The area I want to discuss today, however, is the importance of role models. Most of us would agree that children learn from role models and imitate behaviors of those they admire.

Mentors

It is thereby important to provide children with positive role models and mentors, men who exhibit the qualities you want your son to emulate. Role models are highly important, helping to guide us through life during our development, to make important decisions that affect the outcome of our lives, and to help us find happiness in later life.

When we are growing up, we look to our role models for inspiration and use this as a blueprint for how we should behave when we’re older. A good role model should be someone hard working, creative, free thinking and moral.

We had a chance to catch up with one such mentor a few months ago, a friend who works for the city’s public works department. We stopped by one afternoon as he was putting away the equipment. My son was delighted to get to climb on board.

I was impressed that during our visit, my son even asked numerous questions about his work. “How did you get started working here?” “What kind of training or studies are needed to do this type of work?” “What do you like best about working here?”

A few weeks later, my son was sharing an anecdote about this visit with his Mandarin teacher and referred to him as a friend. I love that as homeschoolers, he doesn’t feel constrained by age and is comfortable carrying on discussions about topics of interest to him.

Because of the influence of this mentor, my son has also had a life-long interest in model trains. On Saturday, I will share with you The Science & Math of Model Railroads.

Master Builders, It’s Lego Party!

My little man turned 9 this month and early in January, he expressed interest in having a Lego themed birthday party.  Fortunately, a local start-up offers Lego Robotics, Stop Motion Animation, Computer Programming, and 3D Printing classes as well as summer camps, field trips, and birthday parties for youth. We had previously participated in a 3D Printing class so when I suggested we do the party at Build It, he was ecstatic.

I could not have planned it better for the new Lego Movie was released just a week prior to the party so the anticipation of going to the party was very high!  They knew they would get a chance to create their own Lego stop motion animation. What could be better?

Lego Bday14web

It’s a Lego Party!

This was one of the best parties ever – both from my perspective as a parent (no stress and mess) and from the feedback received from the boys. There were many activity stations to choose from and the boys were actively engaged the entire time.

Everything is awesome!!

When they arrived, they were immediately drawn to the center table where a dozen bins filled with Legos awaited them.  Without prompting, they got started right away building vehicles to test on the ramp.  When a few cars didn’t make it to the bottom, they were encouraged to modify their design and try again.  No hints were given .. the perfect hands-on, inquiry activity.

When the green screen was discovered – it became a great hit.  The boys loved using the props and remote control to take pictures of themselves inside the Minecraft world.  The pictures were saved and will be available for download in a few days.  Buddy was also able to select something to be printed with the 3D Printer. The boys enjoyed watching the printing process every so often as they bounced from one thing to another.

invites

The highlight, of course, was the Stop Motion Animation station, particularly with the older boys.  They spent a lot of time here tweaking their scene and recording their storyline.  I can’t wait to see all their videos when they are available for download soon.  They will then be able to use iMovie to import audio and sound to their animations.

The Lego party invitations helped set the tone of the party – Buddy helped to select a mini-fig image representing the interests of each of his friends.  We printed these out on card stock and on the backside we adhered a mini-fig template with the party particulars.

My little man has now requested the iStopMotion 3 software (affiliate link) so he can further pursue his new passion … how can I say no?

Art of the Brick :: Lego Sculptures

A few months ago, we had the opportunity to see Nathan Sawaya’s “Art of the Brick” exhibition when it was at our local science museum.  Like most young boys – my little man LOVES Legos so this exhibit was fascinating to him.  My daughter loved it too!

Nathan Sawaya is a New York-based artist who creates awe-inspiring works of art out of some of the most unlikely things. His recent global museum exhibitions feature large-scale sculptures using only toy building blocks. Born in Colville, Washington and raised in Veneta, Oregon (My home state, yay!) Sawaya’s childhood dreams were always about fun.  He work connects with us because he uses items we are all familiar with … his Lego sculptures captivate our imagination and everyone thinks to themselves, “I could do that!”

What I love about his work is that while his sculptures appear to simply be snapped together from LEGO bricks, there is a little more to the process.  Like many sculptors, Sawaya makes preliminary sketches of his pieces. He also uses graph paper to translate these sketches into LEGO reality.

art brick

 

As a train enthusiast with an impressive collection of HO trains for his years, Buddy’s favorite piece (shown above) revealed a remote train depot, part of Sawaya’s ‘In Pieces’ series.  The ‘In Pieces’ series features isolated individuals standing in recognizable but chillingly empty minimalist scenes with geometrical design, derived from common features of the American landscape. Incorporated into the piece, the figures have elongated limbs, referencing society’s idealized bodies.  Juxtaposed against a desolate, American realist environment, the images are both appealing and ambiguous.

There were several other pieces in this series on display and we enjoyed each one. Using the style and content of the American Postcard as a reference, the photographic elements have been color graded with pastels. As the viewer begins to examine the piece closely, the series reveals its brick-by-brick fabricated construction.  This process also represents the direct processes involved with digital photography today.  Clear references to pixelation and technology are apparent through the stylized manipulation and digital enhancements.

If you are interested in seeing this exhibit yourself, check out Sawaya’s website, The Art of the Brick for more information.

The Virtue of Contentment

A big part of homeschooling – especially Charlotte Mason homeschooling – is cultivating our children’s characters through good habits.  Some may feel that time spent on habit training is not as important as academics. I admit, I am even guilty of overlooking behaviors and attitudes that I have hoped will go away on their own.

“Here is an end to the easy philosophy of, ‘It doesn’t matter,’ ‘Oh, he’ll grow out of it,’ ‘He’ll know better by-and-by,’ ‘He’s so young, what can we expect?’ and so on.”

contentment

Yet I have come to realize that cultivating good habits is a valuable time investment.  It takes a lot for me to admit, but over the years, small anecdotes have struck me in the heart and I’ve felt uncomfortable in the presence of others because of something my son has said or done.  He is impatient, demanding, obstinate, and can be disrespectful at times.  He is never satisfied and is always wanting more.

Additionally, he does not respect the property of others and frequently gets into things that do not belong to him without permission – his dad’s tools, craft supplies I’ve set aside for school projects, and his sister’s things – and then doesn’t care for them properly or return them to where it was found.  His behaviors have escalated and ultimately broke through the blinders I had unknowingly put before my eyes this past week.

My husband is very tech savvy and he saves the boxes for all electronics, even a $10 pair of earbuds.  When we upgraded our iMac earlier this year, he repackaged the old one in its original box for resale and again saved all the original packaging for the new one.  He is meticulous and admittedly a little overzealous.

The Fatal Error

While playing with a friend recently, my son inadvertently decided that the box for our new iMac [which we had stored on a high shelf in the garage], would make the perfect target for their sword play.  Without checking with me, the two of them somehow managed to get the box down and proceeded to stab and pierce it repeatedly.  When I came out to check on the noise – my heart literally stopped. The box was destroyed.  Needless to say, Dad was furious.  This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.  Things need to change.

“The habits of the child produce the character of the man.”

Thus, as I have made plans for the upcoming school year, along with the academics, our focus for 2013-14 is the virtue of Contentment.  The first step to overcoming his selfishness – for me – is to grasp whole-heartedly that he won’t grow out of it or know better on his own.  He won’t overcome his selfish behavior by-and-by unless we teach him better. And we are teaching, either intentionally or unintentionally.  The habits learned from us – his parents – have the greatest impact upon his developing character.

“Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.”

Consequences

Fortunately, we were able to find a replacement box online (eBay rocks!) and Buddy will need to repay us the purchase price, including shipping.  It comes as a hard lesson – particularly just weeks before our departure for China.  He will have no money of his own to spend on souvenirs and keepsakes.  Undoubtedly, each time his sister makes a purchase, it is going to sting.

It is so true that punishments are often harder on the parents than they are on the child.  Patrick and I will need to stay strong on this one.

So which habits are you planning to focus on this year? What strategies have you had success with to combat selfishness?  Leave a comment and share your ideas.

(All quotes taken from Charlotte Mason Volume 1, page 118)

 

Conversations with Indiana Jones

Have you ever sent your child to his room with instructions to pick up everything from the floor only to check his progress half an hour later and discover the Indiana Jones Lego mini-fig in a stand off against the Playmobil Roman gladiators??

Of course you have.

indiana grand canyonImagine my surprise the first time I found an Indiana Jones mini-fig excavating the archeological ruins of the Romans when nothing should have been on the floor by that point, let alone more things. It is not uncommon when I say, “do your Mandarin homework” that Sweetie dutifully sits down to finish writing out her characters while Buddy has somehow found a piece of string that has now become a whip, and apparently I am René Belloq; because Buddy and his whip have thwarted all my efforts to get him on track.  Then again,

Nothing surprises me; I’m a scientist.

Turns out you don’t need to speak like Marion to get a young archeologist’s attention, you simply have to know what motivates him and use it accordingly. Perhaps the promise of a new Lego set if the trash is taken out each day for the entire month. Maybe an enormous carrot like an Indiana Jones themed birthday party will entice your young explorer to avoid arguments with his sister for three months.  Find your little man’s motivation and use it to encourage positive behavior. And when discussing his behavior and choices, it is important to remember,

Choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.