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Back to School: Preparing the Whole Child {Momma Shaffer}

We are so excited to have Momma Shaffer with us today.  She is an inspiration to all of us.  And, she is stinkin' fun to be around.  The kids love being at Momma and Poppa Shaffer's house.  They love fishing, visiting local sites, working, and being with Grandma and Grandpa!
We hope you love the great advice coming from this wise Momma!

Hi loyal followers of Shaffer Sisters!
Scarey asked me to guest post today on getting the kids ready for back-to-school. I am very honored to be able to share with so many outstanding parents. I learn from you every time I read your linkups and hope that you can find something of value in my post.
 Poppa Shaffer and Bubba comparing their catch.

I am Momma Shaffer. My greatest accomplishments are whatever positive influences I have had on my husband, son, three daughters, daughter-in-law, three sons-in-law, seven grandsons, and three granddaughters. I am so proud of each of them, with their own unique personality, talents, and courage. Before I was married, I worked as a school teacher in grades K-8 and as a college counselor. My most unique experience was teaching in a one room K-8 country school with no telephone, school bus, cook, or custodian. When we got married, I became a stay at home wife and mom raising four of the good citizens and leaders of today.
Most of the Grandkids, getting sand for the sand box.

I feel the most important back-to-school preparation for success comes from the home and not the store. As a parent it is very important that we help each child find the tools necessary to become a confident and productive independent learner.
  Spiritually, I want my children to know that each is a unique and special child of God. Along with that, they need to realize that the teacher and every other child is also a child of God and be taught the proper way to act with respect towards themselves and all others.

Socially, I want my children to know how to share with others, take turns talking and listening, listen to the teacher, and ask permission before touching another person's belongings. (If you are lucky, the greatest attribute on a report card will be that your child is kind, courteous, and considerate.)
Jo's boys hiking the trails
Academically, it is very helpful if all summer long you have continually reviewed the skills taught the previous year. Every summer we had Shaffer Summer School which included everything from swimming lessons, remodeling, building fence, 4H livestock, sewing, cooking, camping, and testing computer software games. We used every possible opportunity to show the relevance of the reading and math skills that were taught during the regular school year.
Jo's boys at a local volcanic site
Reading is a set of skills that needs to be modeled and encouraged in the home. Road signs, store signs, and labels are excellent sources for increasing sight word vocabulary. You can even label objects in your home and car. I like to use word families to give added confidence to the child in his ability to decode. They are amazed how many words they can read if they only know their consonant sounds and the words “am, an, and, at, ed, in, is, it, on, up, and us.” This also helped with their ability to spell and their confidence to do it orally. Help them write their own books and write and illustrate some for them about the things they love. The best tools I found for boosting reading comprehension included orally reading books to them that were beyond their reading level but sparked their interest. I would often have them draw a picture after the day's reading and then retell me the story the next day before I started reading. I would ask questions as if I didn't personally know the story so they would have to think and make inferences. As we live in the country, I always liked to sit on the step reading stories aloud as we waited for the bus. I love playing nonsense rhyming games with preschool children and reading Dr. Seuss books. I like children to read aloud to younger children and their dogs for pleasure. I enjoy alternating pages with them as we read something a little more challenging aloud. There are some great books out there for adults and beginning readers to co-read. I have been amazed at the progress of young struggling readers as they read scriptures with their families. It is honestly one of the most dramatic methods of improving reading I have witnessed.
The Lovely Volcanic Lake
Math is often under appreciated and unrecognized as being relevant. This is a huge mistake as it is vital for budgeting and living in modern society. I made certain to have analog clocks in my home and if I got a watch for the kids, it too was analog. This was a great opportunity for them to see when counting by fives and multiplying by fives were necessary skills. Counting games played with real money were better learning experiences than those with play money. Dinner menus or family stores make great opportunities for practicing counting change. Good activities for measuring can be as simple as helping the child see how many of his body length, arm length, or foot length a room or toy is across. More advanced ratios and measuring skills can be taught through building a toolbox or sewing a pair of shorts or a skirt. Fractions become much more comfortable when there are lots of opportunities provided to half or double or triple recipes. Planning trips while using printed maps provide excellent practice with scale, latitude and longitude, and identifying geographical symbols. Yahtzee, Multiplication War, some YouTube videos, coloring graph paper, and assorted math tricks can aid in the mastery of the multiplication facts.
Wolf prints in the snow-educational opportunities can be found all around if you are looking for them!

Science and Social Studies and English may be best taught in the summer or on family trips because they are everywhere and schools are so pressed to teach Reading and Math. Science and Social Studies provide excellent opportunities to outline, journal, graph, and hypothesize. Handwriting and English naturally follow these experiences. We live really close to the Craters of the Moon National Monument and have the opportunity to hike and explore the geology and terrain of this unique area. We have also been able to go to the underground Shoshone Ice Caves on the other side of the lava flows. Learning is a never-ending wonder!
"Wow check it out, the water is warm!"

Expect much and keep the bar as high as you can continually raising your expectations. Make learning a fun experience where it is safe to ask for help. When they ask for help, don't be too quick to give it. Help them discover as much as they can for themselves as you guide them through their inquiry. Remember, mediocrity isn't good enough! Recognize and celebrate their individual strengths! Your children won't disappoint you!

Historical Marker along the way-with Jo's boys

Anyone interested in additional information can let Shaffer Sisters know and I will try to help.

1 comment:

  1. I love all of these tips. There are so many opportunities for learning in our every day lives and I hope I remember to always take the time to teach them to my girl. I'm so amazed when at 2 she absorbs everything I tell her. Even when I think she's not listening. Think about how many teaching moments we miss on a daily basis. Mama Shaffer is a smart lady :)


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