Online Teaching ~ Some recommends from my own life

I'm in a season of learning.

As homeschoolers we place a high value on lifelong learning. In fact, it's one of our family's core values. Not only do Damien and I make time for our own learning because we want to grow, but we do this to model for our children what a lifetime of learning looks like. It's looks just like it sounds. We never stop learning. We never stop applying ourselves to study.

Study does not look like what it did when we were in school, cramming for exams, reading textbooks, and writing papers. Nowadays it looks like lots of reading (Damien does most of his online), accessing online courses and tutorials in audio and video formats, applying ideas to our life, and discussing with family and other people what we're learning. That's what I do here at FIMBY - the "discussing" part. Writing this blog is part of my learning.

Even though we're learning all the time there are seasons in our busy lives as "grown-ups" that are more conducive to study. I'm in one of those seasons. I make time most every day for intentional study. I am able to do this because of our lifestyle and my children's ages and growing independence.

I'm studying for my own purposes - the things I want to learn. I'm studying to set an example for our growing children. And I'm studying to actually keep up with their homeschool curriculum (remember I define curriculum as the whole picture, not a set package of materials we use to teach a subject).

In case you think I'm hunched over textbooks, I'm not. Like I said above, study looks like reading, watching, listening, exploring, discussing, and writing at the edge of my growth curve. Funny, that's what my children's study looks like also, with not so much writing (that's a skill that takes years to develop).

In the coming weeks I will be sharing a post with some of the books I'm into these days. I'm learning about Eastern Europe; what a fascinating area of the world. I just finished a classic on faith and beauty in the midst of hardship and persecution. And I'm processing the life lessons we learn from Jean Valjean and Bishop Myriel and more. I'm so jazzed about what I'm learning right now.

This is what self-directed learning should feel like - exciting. (Homeschooling hint: that's how it should feel for your kids also).

But I'm getting ahead of myself because what I want to share with you today are some online resources and courses I'm participating in or that we use in our homeschool. And some others that I'm not able to participate in right now but love the premise and message (and feel they are worth sharing here).

In no particular order:

Rocket French

Parlez vous français? (Do you speak French?) I don't, but I'm learning. This fall Céline and have started online French lessons, supplemented of course with our everyday involvement in a francophone community. We live in a French culture and part of moving here was the motivation to learn a second language. I will share more of why we are using this program vs. others in my forthcoming homeschool curriculum post.

As part of my application and practice I may be slipping in some French in my blogging, perhaps in comments with francophone readers. Any takers?

Whole Food Kitchen

Heather's online workshop starts next Monday. I am contributing a new piece on Kids in the Kitchen and Heather will be re-running previous articles of mine: One Pot Wonders and How to Start a Food Buying Club. But there is so much more to this workshop than just my contributions, of course (in fact mine are just a drop in the bucket of all the good stuff Heather offers).

Khan Academy 

Who knew? Well, lots of people know and if you don't, I'm here to spread the word about this fabulous resource! Yes, it's worthy of an exclamation.

It's been a while since I've visited Khan Academy since it wasn't a good fit for our children when they were younger. But now, well, now it's a different story. Khan Academy is a major piece this fall for Céline's curriculum. (Laurent and Brienne don't use this resource right now). Khan Academy is the democratization of education - high quality, free, instruction accessible to anyone. Truly, it is possible for homeschoolers to provide their children a world class education (not just with Khan, but with everything else that is available to us these days). I get so excited about that.

This is a new generation of homeschooling. This is not about isolating our children for religious or other reasons and then eeking out an "education" with mail order textbooks. This is about knowing our children - their strengths and challenges, building a world class education around our children's interests and their mission (building an education around our own interests and mission!), and having access to amazing resources to support this learning. Can you tell this stuff excites me!!

Ok, I'll calm down now (maybe).

How To Mentor

I am a huge fan of the Leadership Education model and philosophy. We incorporate many of these principles in our homeschool. But I've been kind of stuck at how exactly to mentor our students. Which is why I would so love to take this course by Oliver DeMille.

Unfortunately there is only so much I can be actively studying at one time and my fall learning plate was full before I heard about this. I am passing this time but planning to take this in the future, if it's offered again. This course is on my "someday-soon" list.

Harmonize Your Hormones

I love Lisa's work (I'm an affiliate for this reason). Her free teleclass Clear Up the Hormone Confusion and this blog post on PMS prompted me to contact Lisa to ask for some resource recommendations. Specifically, I want to better understand what's happening in my body (physically, emotionally and spiritually) during my monthly cycle. I've wanted to learn more about this for over a year now.

I enjoy excellent health and vitality so I don't need a course to help me prioritize my health or cope better with stress. I'm actually on top of those areas in my life. But what I want to understand better is how to really follow and honor the natural rhythm of our feminine cycle. I want to tune in more to this part of myself. Lisa invited me to join the course and I'm really looking forward to learning more about my body and also teaching that to my girls.

If you want to sign up for this course, don't delay. It starts Monday. (October seems to be a popular month to start courses.)

The 10 Day Family Re-Charge

Speaking of tuning in - how about tuning into your family life? My friend Erin Goodman is offering a fall session of her Pay What You Can (isn't that fabulous) Family Re-Charge. I love supporting courses that are meant strengthen family life and relationships.

Just a quick note about how I make time for digital teaching.

I love the flexibility of online courses. Instead of listening to the radio (or some other media) while cooking this is a great time for me to listen to audio or video teaching. Not every day of course, as sometimes I'm teaching my kids how to cook while in the kitchen.

Alternately, you can download mp3 audio files and listen while driving or doing other tasks. Most video teaching does not require me to watch the speaker, they're just communicating ideas. Then I can work in other aspects of the teaching - journaling, reading, etc. into my afternoon reading time (if I so choose).

What are you studying this fall?

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Michelle

    Michelle on Sept. 27, 2012, 4:16 p.m.

    Je peux parler en francais. Mais juste un peu. So, I am out with that. I am learning Art History right along with Athena. Also Composer studies and I am so excited about that. I even have my own notebooks. We are starting a tree study next week. Life long learning has always been my mantra too.


  • Kika

    Kika on Sept. 27, 2012, 4:24 p.m.

    I'd also be happy to chat en francais - as long as you don't mind no accents as my laptop/software does not support french accents.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I am ALWAYS learning and always looking for people to discuss with. Currently, I am:

    1.Loving Marie Forleo for the free bits of wisdom she shares on her blog/videos (found her through you, so thank you). 2.I am almost finished reading "The Charge: Activating The 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive" by Brendon Burchard. It is taking some time because I'm taking notes and constantly pausing to consider the applications to my life - actually he gives little assignments in the book as well. 3.I am currently studying with the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, for fun, and while I've had to take some time off for surgery and recovery, will be picking up those books again soon. 4.I've been taking time for some great novels like "The Kitchen House" which, while heartbreaking, are important in that they teach us about history but also provide examples of courage and strength. 5.I am doing an online Bible study: Mercy Triumphs (studies the book of James) by Beth Moore. 6.And finally, while this may sound super cheesy, I am learning through very challenging life circumstances right now. Fighting hard to choose gratitude, to trust God, to look for the joy. This really can mean a life or death battle and I by making the choice to forge ahead, wholeheartedly (as opposed to numbing myself or curling up in bed for days),I am learning and growing. I do NOT want to leave this season of life unchanged.

    It is so fun to see other moms at home fully engaged and excited about growing and learning.

    P.S. actually I can think of other learning I am doing too: new skills (like making horehound losenges or vapor rub), the gleaning I do from blogs and articles, and so forth :)


    • renee

      renee on Sept. 27, 2012, 4:29 p.m.

      Kika, I don't care about no accents. I don't use a special keyboard or software, I use google chrome as my browser. So how it works is this, if i'm in a google chrome window and typing say Céline, when I get to the second é I hold down the key and up pops a little box and I can choose which accent I want. That's what I'm using to make accents in my French writing. Céline's name has always been spelled with an accent, but I never used to write it that way on the blog because I didn't know how! I love what you're learning. And I love talking with you about it!


    • Laura

      Laura on Sept. 29, 2012, 3:53 p.m.

      Kika, I don't think your sixth item sounds cheesy at all. I think that is an awesome and brave thing to be learning! I am in the midst of a trial and have asked God what He wants me to learn through this time. I love the way you worded it. I pray that God will help you to come forth as gold!


  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on Sept. 27, 2012, 9:55 p.m.

    I am studying several things : ) (thanks for asking)

    I just started On Guard by William Lane Craig (Christian apologetics) and and eager to dive into the world of apologetics. I'm also working my way through Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders with other Compassion International Advocates.

    I'm also studying Nehemiah with my women's group at church and I'm personally memorizing the Sermon on the Mount.

    What else....oh yes, I set a goal to read 3 classics this year and I've got one left - Gulliver's Travel's by Jonathan Swift.

    I'm taking a group from my church down to Mexico next year, so I need to dust off my Spanish skills and work on conversing.

    I also need to choose a new piece to learn on violin so I have motivation to practice myself.

    That's about it for me right now!


  • Jen @ Anothergranolamom

    Jen @ Anothergranolamom on Sept. 27, 2012, 11:47 p.m.

    I am trying hard to keep ahead of my young adults in their learning and reading. This month I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest -- a book I now consider a must read, Unschooling Rules by Craig Aldrich, another very inspirational book, and The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.

    I tried an online class through Coursera about two months ago, and enjoyed it very much, but didn't have time to complete all the coursework. However, if you have the 4-6 hours per week required, I highly recommend their courses. The one I tried was on World Music, and the lectures I got to listen and respond to were very enlightening.

    Looking forward to the winter months, I am hoping for a little less outdoor time (sigh) so that I can spend some one-on-one time with my piano.

    Hard to find time for everything I want to study!


  • Johanna Hanson

    Johanna Hanson on Sept. 28, 2012, 1:27 a.m.

    I would love to converse in French with you. :)

    This fall (actually this entire year) my focus has been on reading and learning about educational philosophies. Gearing up for our homeschool. I am currently reading Leadership Education and really, really like it. I'd love to take that course, too!


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Sept. 28, 2012, 5:36 a.m.

    Wow! I love to learn too! I am a self-directed learner too. Right now, I am listening to some great Naomi Aldort talks, as well as some of Pema Chodron while JF drives. I hope you will report back about the hormone balancing class. It sounds very interesting! Oh and I recognize the If you lived here I'd know your name story of Tom on your Kindle! I really enjoyed that book! Thanks a bunch for the recommandation!


  • Laura

    Laura on Sept. 29, 2012, 4:08 p.m.

    Renee, this post is so inspiring to me! I enjoy learning along with my children, but I realize that I need to be learning on my own, as well. One of the great loves in my life is reading, so I guess I am always learning that way. But, I haven't specifically made plans that I am going to learn __. I like that idea and am going to ponder it a bit. Then I am going to make some plans for my own education. One place I am going to begin is with the piano. We moved to another state almost a year ago. We had to leave our piano. Monday we are picking up a used piano. I am so excited! I want to set aside specific times during the week for practicing. If I don't plan it, it won't happen. I would also like to learn more about photograpy. I have a Nikon D40 and love it, but I usually just shoot automatic. I would like to learn how to adjust the settings and take better pictures. And that will require me to plan specific times in my schedule. I am excited! Thank you for the inspiration! I love your blog!


  • Erin Goodman

    Erin Goodman on Oct. 2, 2012, 12:42 p.m.

    Thank you so much for including my course among all this wonderful inspiration, Renee.

    I am also participating in Heather's Whole Food Kitchen class this fall and am so excited to be back in the kitchen with her -- and you. I jut finished reading one of your articles and it's got me really thinking about how I could shift things up a bit here.

    Many thanks to you, my friend.



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