Today I have a guest post, How to Write an Essay, from my son, Yak. This is actually, from a couple of months ago. I wanted to give him incentive to improve his writing, so we started polishing up his work to post on our blogs, and send out for publication. I only suggest corrections to his work, I don’t rewrite it for him. This is all his, including the title. Enjoy!
In this essay I will teach YOU how to write a half-decent essay!
Read the basic requirements! That is the basic way to create a simple essay! You can get more complicated with more paragraphs or maybe mixing up some stuff! You can create really complicated essays by using the simple requirements! You can create stuff to make money, earn reputation and more stuff like that!
So that about covers the basics! You can create epic essays the more you practice! You can create essays about gaming, outside life, animals, everything and anything! You can create so many things! You can even write a short story about some old person living in a shack in the woods! You never know what you can create out of a Microsoft word document and a keyboard!!!!!!
I should get to wrapping this essay up, but feel free to subscribe to my youtube: Golden Ore Gaming, Twitter: Golden Ore Gaming, Facebook: NONE, Instagram: NONE, and feel free to write essays about the object of your hearts desire! I really love to make these little essays about random things! Remember to check out some awesome games I found recently on the internet: Slime Rancher, Scrap Mechanic, Subnautica, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Undertale and Beseige! You can purchase all these games at: Steampowered.com
We have been planning for high school for several months, now. Yak, currently taking a fun break, will spend a couple more months in “8th grade”, then start “9th grade” in or around September. According to conventional standards, he should be in 8th grade in September. The beauty of homeschool is not having to bow to conventional standards. Some may ask how I determine his grade level. I pretty much go by the math book, as his abilities are all over the board. To take a standardized test would just defeat the purpose.
To place him in high school now, is to give him a challenge that he is ready for. More targeted studies. Preparing to decide if he will continue to study in college/university or learn a trade. Or start a business. To give him the responsibility to choose a direction and explore it in detail.
He will continue with Algebra and higher math, but also complete a consumer math course. He will continue with daily essays and reading. He will start to look at different career paths and explore courses and activities related to them. He will start practicing for the SATs. We are using High School of your Dreams, by Nancy Nicholson, available through Catholic Heritage Curriculum as a rough guideline. It provides general information on credit hours required for each subject, to qualify for “graduation”. We will use that guideline and Yak’s SAT scores to determine when he is ready to “graduate” high school.
There are many tools available online to put together transcripts. We have also been keeping records, a portfolio of Yak’s work, and lots of pictures and videos of his projects. We will continue this record keeping, so that he will have a detailed portfolio and transcripts when and if he applies to colleges.
Right now, though, we’re enjoying a couple weeks of summer break before hitting the books again.
Routine helps increase self discipline. In high school, I would get up, throw on my clothes and go run for a couple miles before getting ready for school. Fifteen years ago I moved out to the country to live a less stressful, richer life. I decided that I needed to get up and have prayer and meditation time each morning no matter what. Except for a couple of years when I had to seek outside employment, I have done so ever since and it makes all the difference in my day. A few years ago I realized I needed to stretch my sore muscles every day or I would develop painful knots which would lead to headaches and other problems. If I follow my routine of up, coffee, pray, stretch, I feel much better, more energetic, less pain or pain free. When I miss my stretches, tension builds, my muscles knot and soon I am having headaches and visual disturbances, even leading to dizziness and more.
When I find that we are veering from our routines, I pull us back on track. I get the boy up when his alarm goes off (usually about 8am), remind him to say his prayers, then let him wake up a bit before breakfast. Gadgets get turned off while we’re eating. Then he has some free time until he has to wash up, get dressed and start his chores. At 10am we start math. If I let him do something else first, by the time he gets around to math he has been procrastinating so long that he cannot bring himself to focus. By doing the least favorite subject first, we get it out of the way and get on with the rest of the school day. We also do corrections right away. I have found that by leaving them for the next day, neither one of us wants to deal with them and the school day drags on.
After school, the routine is finish chores, get out and move around, ride his bike, check and see if dad needs any help, then free time. On days he is highly distractable during school, I will frequently send him out to run, ride his bike or do something strenuous for 10 minutes to get it out of his system.
When we stick to our routines, we build self discipline by doing what needs to be done. When something is being neglected, we find a place to plug it into the routine. If the routine becomes overwhelming, we reassess and cut the fat. I am one that tends to overschedule myself and then become overwhelmed and do nothing. That is when I have to sit down and pick out the 3 most important objectives to complete that day and just concentrate on them. Same with Yak’s schoolwork. If things are fizzling we may cut back to math, reading and writing for a few days. If nothing else gets done, at least the most important stuff did.
It is hard to be productive in my work. I know what I need to do but getting it all done proves to be an insurmountable task. Some days the best I can do is homeschool, write 1000 words and update the blog. Other days I manage to make a few sales calls, find some new customers, new markets and keep up with social media. Mostly I struggle to find time for making product, recording videos and keeping up with household maintenance. Much like most working parents. I am still tweaking my work routine. And working on my self discipline.
Working and homeschooling is a tricky balance. A child intensive curriculum, one in which the child is responsible for his work and corrections is wonderful in theory, but doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to in practice. Some children just want to be doing something else. Anything else. So they need a certain amount of supervision and motivation to get their assigned work done.
My son is this way. Even though on a good day he can get all his work done in a couple of hours, except for his reading, many days he will daydream, get distracted, hug the cat, get up to get a snack (5 minutes after breakfast), try to sneak and check his email, his blog or his skype messages, etc. It is hard to get anything done in this chaos. I know his frustration. As a work at home writer, I tend to do the same thing most days, allowing anything to prevent me from tackling my job.
Enter self-discipline. As a child, I took piano lessons. My teachers recommended I practice at least an hour every day. I was no child prodigy (although I knew several) but I did fairly well with practice. Mrs. Allen always knew when I didn’t practice and she did not hesitate to point it out to me with irritation. I took up the flute and that was a bit more natural for me. I began reaping the benefits of practice in chair assignments. By high school, the only time I was less than first chair was for 2 weeks when I changed schools. In college I commandeered practice rooms for several hours a day, at one point even practicing for 8 hours a day. I was determined to be a pro. That fizzled, but the improvement in my playing and the advancement of my musical skill was without question.
I think of those times whenever I find myself lagging. I want my son to experience that confidence and satisfaction that comes with knowing your self discipline and hard work has paid off. I guess he gets some of that with video games, but I want for him to experience it in other aspects of life. He has also experienced some of that in playing hockey. A few years ago, he spent about 10 months straight playing hockey. He kind of burned out. Now he thinks he is ready to play again, so I think that maybe a short season would be good for him. We also have bikes to ride, now and are going on weekly hikes. Discipline in one area tends to help breed discipline in other areas.
It was to be a quick, overnight trip to my daughter’s to pick up Mrs. Susie and Mr. Cuddles, our 4 legged companions. The truck starter seemed to be giving out, but I was confident we would make it 300 miles and then install a new one and head back home. The truck had other ideas. Halfway to our destination, it stalled out and we had to make use of our AAA roadside service to be towed the rest of the way. After we deposited the truck at a local repair shop, my son-in-law brought us to their house. The reunion with pup and kit was joyful for everyone. Especially my daughter and her husband, who were more than happy to anticipate the departure of Yak’s “fat cat”.
We didn’t even pack a change of clothes (just pajamas), as our other clothes were dirty and we would be right back to wash them, anyway. Forget packing the schoolbooks, right?
So there we are, by the grace of God, in a familiar home, with a familiar fridge, stocked with familiar food, and a familiar bathroom, washer and dryer. No schoolbooks. No math book. This makes the boy incredibly happy, as he has been having “alternative education” ( activities, day trips, etc.) For the last couple weeks, anyway. So we shower and change into our jammies, then wash the clothes we were wearing. That worked.
What to do about school? Certainly he has his chores when we are at big sis’. Litter boxes, help with feedings, clean horse stalls. How to learn without books. Of course, “Mr. Gamer” brought his computer, and big sis has great wifi, so I went to my stash of homeschool links and made some strategic choices. We have been in reevaluation mode, lately, as Yak has felt bogged down with bookwork. He enjoys www.coolmath.com, but I don’t think it really challenges him so much, anymore. So I pulled another link from a Clickschooling newsletter, for Egyptian Heiroglyph math and sent him there. He had a great time for his math session and also found it challenging. Finally, he had enough and I allowed him to unwind on coolmath for a few minutes.
Creating computer games has been of interest to Yak for awhile, now, but we have struggled to find free resources for him to use. He had downloaded a game creator some time ago, but could not figure out how to make it work. For his next assignment, he chose to go on YouTube and watch tutorials on the particular software he was using, and then apply what he learned to creating a game.
The rest of our time waiting for the truck to get back on the road, we will continue to use free links from Clickschooling newsletters for math, science, history, and grammar; he will read the one book we did bring; we will use you tube for more computer programming skills, bicycle repair and maintenance how-tos and other areas of interest Yak might have. We will also continue to use Overdrive to check out library ebooks and audiobooks.
Handmade Soaps and Lotions; Simple Living, Slow Travel; Homeschooling, Roadschooling