GPS or Map?

I love maps. Maybe it’s the visual and tactile learner in me. Maybe it’s the unexplored possibilities of a map, the roads not taken. Perhaps it’s the interconnections a map shows between every place and every one. I just don’t get that sense of the Whole with GPS.

This weekend I was driving through Indiana, enjoying the mellowness of rainy days with unhurried schedules. I realized I’d taken the wrong exit for Highway 31. I discovered Peru, Indiana, is the birthplace of Cole Porter; but, I wasn’t headed toward Indianapolis. I stopped, pulled out my trusty AAA map and found a connecting road. The road was barely more than a paved path and curved through fields of sprouting wheat and Spring puddles. It was a leisurely trip and made more connections than just getting me to Highway 31, fresh air filled with mist and new growth. I wondered if a GPS would have the same sense of adventure.

Our lives now are so compartmentalized and digitized that we rely heavily on other voices to direct our ways. Sometimes it’s the most expedient and concise thing to do. But if you are not an audio learner, you can be lost. Yes, Lost with GPS!

Most people only remember seven per cent of what they hear. So if you rely on the GPS voice to direct your travel, will you arrive at your destination seven per cent of the time? Will you be lost or confused ninety-three per cent of your life’s travel.

What does this have to do with anything, especially learning? Homeschool curricula come in many formats, and it’s important to know what matches your child’s learning. If you are an audio learner, or think it’s wonderful to have books on tape; it may not be the best match for your child. I talked with a young lady who told me her homeschool curricula was on CD’s, and she listened to them for several hours every day. That was her homeschooling. Indeed, I watched her throughout the homeschool conference sitting on the floor, headphones in place for hours. It kept her quiet and tethered to one spot. But I wondered where is the wonder?

The best part of homeschooling children is the time you spend with them, asking questions and listening to what they say. Really listening as a child learns is amazing. You can see them thinking as they formulate ideas and put these together to make connections. I couldn’t do this if I relied on a digital voice to provide the lessons.

Whether your child is an audio, visual, or tactual learner, life requires we absorb information from all methods. The more senses we involve in learning, the stronger the learning and the greater the retention. One of my favorite movies is Akeelah and the Bee, where Akeelah jumps rope as she’s spelling. The cadence, rhythm and body movement anchored the learning and helped her win the State Spelling Bee.

Curricula should provide learning though all senses. It’s one reason I admire Nancy Larson so much. Her science lessons incorporate all the learning styles, so that every child learns, remembers, and achieves. Homeschool parents talk about how the Science Program improves the confidence of their children, because it’s written so that everyone succeeds. Let’s see: there’s multiple learning styles, activities, study skills, reading, and confidence building, all interconnected to help children learn serious science content. Sounds like a good map to stay on the path.

Daisy and Maisy invite you to celebrate Earth Day!

It was a sunny spring day in Connecticut. Daisy was intently looking out the door at the outside world. There were birds enjoying seeds in the bird feeders, breezes moving the grass, and bees buzzing in the flower garden.
Surely, this would keep Daisy busy, but not our Curious Science Cat. Daisy calls Maisy to come and join her and plan their next mission.
While they look out the window, Maisy says to Daisy 'Hey! You know that Earth Day is coming soon.' Daisy replies, 'Yes! That’s it!'
Daisy crawls up into Nancy’s arms. She has her right where she wants her.
Daisy purrs into Nancy’s ear, 'Earth Day is coming on April 22. It will be the 40th Earth Day. Let’s make it special. We want to help children learn about protecting and preserving the Earth. What can we do, Nancy?'

Nancy had just the answer. “We’ll give all the homeschool children our Earth Day lessons from Science 1, 2, and 3. Their families can learn about Earth Day together.”

“Purrrfect!” thought Daisy and Maisy.

Earth Day is April 22. Enjoy these Earth Day lessons from Nancy Larson® Science.

Midwest Homeschool Expo at Cincinnati, Ohio

We had a terrific time meeting homeschool families in Cincinnati at the Midwest Expo, April 8–10. Arielle Corcoran, who was the chairperson of the Expo, said approximately 10,000 homeschoolers attended that weekend. Others said the Expo was fifty per cent bigger than last year. I’m not sure about the exact figures. I do know we had a steady stream of visitors all weekend. It was a great time!

Madon Dailey and Kathy Tabor
Kathy Tabor joined me at the Nancy Larson Publishers’ booth. Kathy lives near Columbus, Ohio.
Kathy taught for many years and has personal success stories using the strategies Nancy has written into the science programs.
We had a very special guest, Patty Betounes, a homeschool mom from Hebron, Ohio. Patty is using Science 3 with her eleven-year-old son. She called our office and shared how much she enjoys teaching Nancy Larson® Science.
Patty then volunteered to visit with other parents and tell them her story. It was so exciting to hear her tell about the success her son is having using our program. We were thrilled that she joined us in Cincinnati.
Our Nancy Larson® Science program is age appropriate for children 5–11. Nancy chose the topics for each program around a child’s natural curiosity. Homeschooling parents can group their children in the program. It’s easier, takes less time to teach, and frees parents to handle other needs.

Our next homeschool conference is in Kansas City, Missouri at the KCI Expo. I hope we get to “Meet & Greet” you there!

–-Madon Dailey
Madon Dailey

Critical Thinking – Anthony & McDonalds

Critical thinking gets a lot of attention in the homeschooling world. You can find all kinds of workbooks, dealing exclusively with teaching critical thinking. Maybe one of the problems I have with these is the way critical thinking is isolated from all other thinking and learning. It’s really a part of everyday living.

Last Friday, little Anthony decided to join me running an errand. Anthony will turn four this month, and he’s just beginning to really start conversations and tell us what he’s thinking. I told him we could go out for lunch when we finished, and asked him where he’d like to go.

“McDonalds” jumped out of his mouth.

“Why McDonalds?” I asked.

“It’s my eating place.” It was hard to suppress my laughter, “My eating place,” where do they come up with these?

“What do you like about McDonalds?”

There was this wide-eyed, awe struck, “deer in the headlights” look coming from the backseat.

“Why is McDonalds your eating place?”

More wide-eyed awe, with an open mouth added. Nothing came back as a response.

Then I had one of those “Aha!” moments. I was asking Anthony to make an evaluation, to engage in critical thinking, without any basic knowledge and analysis. These are absolutely necessary steps.

“Anthony, what’s one food you like at McDonalds?”

“Chick Nuggets”

What’s another food you like to get at McDonalds?”


“I know you like juice or milk to drink. Which do you like best?”

“Chocolate Milk”

Now we’ve laid the groundwork. I’ve allowed him to identify three foods he likes, and make a choice on drinks.

“Anthony, you like chicken nuggets, apples, and chocolate milk at McDonalds. Which one makes McDonalds your eating place?”


“Okay. That’s a good reason.”

And just like that, Anthony was making critical decisions and evaluations. At almost four, he’s critically thinking. Is he unique? Not at all—critical thinking is part of life at all ages. It seems to me that often in our conversations with children we don’t provide them the structure, the questions to guide them to these higher levels of thinking; and, we haven’t labeled it. Anthony had already decided he liked McDonalds, but he didn’t know why. When I asked him open-ended questions (Why McDonalds?) he didn’t know. It’s like asking your spouse, “What do you want for dinner?”

“Don’t know. Don’t care. You choose.” There are too many options. If you narrow the choices, chicken or pizza, peas or corn, potatoes or rice; then, people make choices. They do critical thinking. Inside of each choice, there’s a flurry of mental activity before they say “Chicken.”

“What did I have for lunch? I’m having pizza tomorrow. Pizza is expensive. Chicken rice casserole is budget friendly. I like the color of peas with rice.”

What ever these thoughts were, they happened in a flash. It’s more like a micro-flash, so fast we aren’t consciously aware of what’s going on up there in the gray matter. A fascinating book of the subject of flash decisions is Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I find his writing and research intriguing, and Blink is an amazing study of human behavior on decision making (critical thinking at its upmost).

Back to Anthony and all the other young learners: it’s easy to teach critical thinking. Just think and ask them simple questions that build up to more complex conclusions. Gather basic information or facts from them. Then review and let them analyze the information. Finally, they can make a decision, think critically and evaluate.

Here’s something to try with your young thinkers. Let’s say you’re at the local grocery and you need laundry detergent. Let one (or more) of the children decide which one to buy. Perhaps you set guidelines, like price “Nothing over $6.00” or size, “Nothing over 64 ounces.” If the child understands the unit price of detergent, ask them to make that one of the decision-making factors. Ask them to consider at least four detergents. Also tell them beforehand that you want to know what they were thinking and the decisions they made during the process. Then when they return with 64 ounces of lavender vanilla Sun detergent, have the conversation. And, guide the conversation. Their choice may give you clues. Is the bottle a favorite color, or perhaps the fragrance is special? You know your children.

Be aware of the small decisions we make everyday. Talk with your children about these. They will become experts at critical thinking and being able to explain their process. You’ll smile and feel that warm proud-parent glow. They will be blooming!

–-Madon Dailey
Madon Dailey