Knights in Training review

knights in training book review

I love knights. I enjoy the stories of King Arthur as much now as I did as a kid. And I love studying the Middle Ages with my children. So what could possibly be better than tying in character training with knights and chivalry, right? When I stumbled upon Heather Haupt’s Knights in Training at the homeschool convention this year, I really felt like I’d hit the jackpot.

Knight training started out as a way to equip the warrior class in medieval times. It soon became so compelling that all nobles sought to have their sons embark on this training and take up the chivalry challenge. The principles are timeless and ready for a new generation of boys to take up.

Knights in Training is a creative way to teach 10 areas of character using inspiring knights stories to captivate our sons’ imaginations. This is habit-training that encourages boys to be boys—strong, daring risk-takers, protectors and champions. By shaping and nurturing their natural masculinity with biblical principles and character-building stories, we teach our sons to be men, in every sense of the word.

In the first few chapters of the book, the author explains the problems she is addressing with her principles. She discusses how the culture undermines our boys, the struggles they face to become honorable men, and the solution that knight-training provides. Her principles are based in Scripture and creatively presented to young boys. I agree whole-heartedly with the problems she mentions in these chapters, although there were a few areas I would disagree in practice. Nothing major, but for instance, we have no problem with superheroes at our house, while the author avoids them. So while, you may find practical ways to live out these principles that are different than the author has chosen for her family, don’t let that discourage you from reading this book. The meat of this book is phenomenal!

The rest of Knights in Training takes each of the 10 “codes” and develops them for you. Every chapter begins with a knight story to illustrate how the code was lived out and to inspire our young men to do the same. Then, Heather spends some time giving you practical examples of how to encourage and teach the character lesson in your day-to-day life. Finally, each chapter ends with a challenge to “throw down the gauntlet,” with practical goals and action steps for you to take on the journey.

Her website also includes a downloadable poster of the Knight’s Code. My boys have one hanging in their room, and my oldest has the code memorized without any prompting from me! He will remind me throughout our day which code applies to the situation we are facing. “That’s number 4, Mom,” he’ll tell me when he has the opportunity to defend or protect his younger siblings. 

I loved this book and the conversations it’s prompted me to have with my boys, and I’m really looking forward to implementing the code with my boys throughout this year, especially as we study knights and castles and medieval life in history. Knights in Training is aimed for your younger crowd, preschool to middle-school, I’d say. If you have older boys that you want to include in this training, they’d probably enjoy training your littler ones and even creating a Knight’s Training Camp with some of the ideas that Heather includes in her book. She also includes a ton of great books and read-aloud options for each principle in “the code.”

For a list of places to purchase the book, an audio sample, downloadable resources (including the poster), and a preview of the Table of Contents, visit Heather’s website.

When your child needs a brain break

homeschool brain break | Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks review

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My kids have energy. Energy that doesn’t wait for a math lesson to end or a school day to be over. My kids move (and talk) all day long. And even when I’m following my cardinal rule of “short lessons,” I can still see their minds straining to focus at the task when all their body wants to do is move. It’s part of being a kid, but it’s even more a part of being a kid with ADHD. And for my daughter with both ADHD and dyslexia, the effort to focus all of that energy on the task of processing information leaves her wilting beside me on the couch. Until I say those magic words…”Brain Break!”

 

homeschool brain break

This summer, we picked up the Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks (aff. link) at a homeschool convention, and already it’s been a huge life-saver in our homeschool. My kids love it, and I love having a variety of creative ideas that I didn’t have to come up with on my own. I used to have my kids do jumping jacks, plank, or do push-ups. Now, they “jump the river,” “tiptoe-heel race,” “climb a mountain,” act out a caterpillar turning into a butterfly or a seed sprouting from the ground.

I’ll see one child slinking in his seat after a challenging assignment and call out “brain break,” and kids come charging in from every corner of the house. (At least, it sounds like it. My three can easily sound like 14 kids stampeding through the house.) The child upstairs, the child in the next room, and the child beside me on the couch all rush to our brain break jar and huddle around to see what fun is up next. My 6th grader, 4th grader, and kindergartener all love these brain break ideas.

It only takes a couple of minutes, but oh what a difference those couple of minutes make! I’ve noticed, too, that these are great mood-changers. When one of my kids is in “a mood” about school, a couple of brain breaks usually helps her turn a corner and happily proceed to the next task. There aren’t many “miracle” products in homeschool, but I consider this to be one for us.

Could you make your own version instead of buying the product? Sure. There are a number of ideas on Pinterest. But I love how easy this product is to use. If I waited until I could find, print, and make my own, we’d still be doing jumping jacks. The ideas and explanations for those ideas are all ready for us. The $15 print-edition of the Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks are on thick glossy card stock, and all I had to do was cut them out and choose a jar. But you could also choose to print and laminate the ebook version for $10.
Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks

If you have an active or distracted learner, take a look at the Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks (aff. link). It’s a simple, fun solution to jump start your busy learners.

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Teaching Spelling While Homeschooling Dyslexia

teaching spelling | homeschooling dyslexia | right-brained homeschool spelling curriculum for kinesthetic and visual-spatial learners

Teaching my daughter to read was a challenge. We both fought hard to win that battle. But just as she was finally making strides in reading, her phonics curriculum switched from an emphasis on reading to an emphasis on spelling, and her performance plummeted while her anxieties surged. No matter what technique we tried, no matter how long we spent going over words, she couldn’t spell. Half way through her second grade year, it was clear we were dealing with dyslexia. Teaching my dyslexic daughter to read was tough; teaching spelling to my dyslexic daughter has seemed impossible on many, many days.

My daughter has a beautiful way of seeing the world that is uniquely her own. Unfortunately, this creates challenges for her when it comes to language. The spring of her second grade year, we abandoned teaching spelling with a traditional curriculum and opted for a homeschool dyslexia therapy instead. She completed Dyslexia Games level A that year, and we followed it up with Dyslexia Games level B her third grade year. My technique was constant exposure. Without a spelling curriculum, she practiced spelling on her dyslexia apps, her Dyslexia Games therapy, her keyboarding program, and some various copywork exercises.

This coming fall, we will be tackling our first spelling curriculum in a year and half. She’s still below grade level, but I’m hopeful she’ll continue to make strides with our new spelling curriculum, A Reason for Spelling.