Welcome to LOLIPOP

LOLIPOP began as my master's thesis - an experiment in group learning with twenty homeschool families, including over sixty kids between six and fourteen years old. I coordinated 2-4 projects happening simultaneously, in 6 week sessions. The kids had a lot of fun, and the parents learned a lot about how this energetic and enthusiastic age group can have a successful learning experience. Since this first experiment, I have conducted seminars and webinars based on the LOLIPOP concept, and published For the Love of Learning: Giving Your Child a LOLIPOP Education.
This BLOG is for all those out there, trying to give their children and students the foundation they need to grow into great scholars, thinkers, and leaders. The principles align with the Leadership Education model and foster a love for learning, build individual confidence, and teach learning strategies that apply to a life time of great learning.
Check out more info about the book, seminars, webinars, and more at www.sdlaa.com.

Lolipop Learning, and terms and concepts such as "Love of Play", "Love of Sampling", and "Love of Producing" are the sole property of Amy Edwards. “TJEd", "Leadership Education", “Love of Learning Phase”, “Inspire, not Require” and other similar terms and concepts are taken from the works of Oliver & Rachel DeMille, and are used by permission and under license. For more information, visit http://tjed.org/.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Creating a Story

The Peasant Wins the Princess
A Fairy Tale
by Sammy Edwards 

     Once upon a time there was a peasant boy.  He was in love with a princess.  She had a lazy lady-in-waiting.  The princess said, "Lady-in-waiting, I'm waiting!"
     Then there was a prince, and he was a knight.  His name was Jack.  
     The peasant went to a wizard, because he wanted to be made irresistible.  So the wizard turned him into a cheeseburger.  The wizard said, "Everybody loves cheeseburgers."  But the peasant said, "But they don't marry them!"
     The peasant and the prince entered a joust.  The peasant lost in the joust, because his armor fell off.  But the prince was really afraid of dragons, and so the peasant defeated the dragon and won the princess.
The End

     This is a story that my son narrated to me recently.  I wrote it all down as he said it.  The words are all his.  The spelling and punctuation are mine.  Then I typed up each part onto the bottom of a piece of paper, printed out all the pages, and gave it to him to add pictures.  
     Creation requires material.  Although he put all the pieces together, he used material from his environment.  This story is the result of books we have read, movies and TV we have seen, and experiences playing with friends.  It's just fine that he's repeating parts of stories he has heard elsewhere.  Simply piecing his own version together is an important step in writing.  Even Shakespeare took his basic plot lines from well-known stories.  
     To help your children become writers: 
 - Create a rich environment for them.  Read good books to them.  
 - Write your own stories, especially about them or even about your own experiences as a child, and share them with your children.  
 - Listen to their stories
 - Write them down
 - Encourage them 
 - Don't criticize (all unsolicited advice is criticism).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Writing Naturally

     I want to teach writing in a natural way, because I believe that is the only way to inspire a love of writing and develop confident writers.  Throughout nature, we can see cycles.  When a plant is permitted to move through its natural cycle, it develops and grows into a beautiful flower, with little interference from us, and absolutely no force.

Natural.  Nature. Cycles!

     There is a natural cycle to writing, and understanding this can empower you to inspire your children to love writing and grow into great writers.  Some home school parents neglect writing in the early years, only to stress highly academic writing as college entrance approaches and they begin to panic.  Although we should not force our children to write when they are in Love of Learning Phase (typically before puberty), that does not mean that we neglect the development of writing.  So what can you do that will lay a foundation for great academic writing--essays and research papers, and perhaps a publishable novel--when it is needed (later)?
     The seeds of the natural writing cycle are stories.  Any stories.  Stories about dreams. My son loves to tell me about his dreams, and then I record it in a journal with space for him to add a picture.  Stories about their every day life.  Each evening, sit down together and ask your child about his favorite thing that happened that day.  Record his life stories in a journal.  Write these stories exactly as your child describes them--verbatim.  Do not correct wording or even comment on the stories at this point.  You can insert correct punctuation, which is a great way to model punctuation, but don't explain the punctuation unless the child asks.
     Have you noticed that you are doing all the writing?  Before the child writes, you write for her.  Allow her to simply tell her stories.  Speaking, narrating, simply forming her life and dreams into words comes before she does any of the writing herself.  All children are different, and each child will want to write down her own stories at different ages.  Allow your child to be the guide.  Do not push and decide for her when she should do the writing herself.  If you encourage your children in telling their stories, and then show them the stories in print, they will want to write on their own eventually.
     Many children evolve to creative stories, and you can record these as well.  As the child and the stories mature, you can ask questions to help the child embellish the stories--question the details of the setting or physical appearance of characters.
     The next step in the natural writing cycle is the seed of essay writing.  It is the act of encouraging a child to express his opinion in writing.  These are not formally structured essays.  They are simply the child's opinion, and eventually some evidence to support that opinion.  Young children may write a note to their parents to express their discontent with a family rule or situation.  Great!  They are viewing writing as a tool of personal expression.  I don't recommend assigning topics before the age of 12-years-old, and only within the context of a class or project the student has bought into.  But we can encourage children to express their opinions and to include their reasoning and any evidence or examples they can think of in writing.  They can even incorporate that story-writing to make their opinions more compelling.
     According to the California State Standards for Language Arts, children should be writing paragraphs by 1st grade (that's 6-years-old for any home schoolers not keeping track), and essays by 4th grade (9-years-old).  The standards then explain how the essay is continually taught for the next 5-6 years of school.  What a great way to get kids to hate writing!  I disagree with this approach.  Students do not need to be introduced to essays until they are 12-years-old (about 6th or 7th grade).  And it doesn't take 5 years to teach essay writing (unless you start too early).  However, they do need a foundation that is building up to that point.  Allow them to tell you stories.  Write down their stories, and (very important) show them their stories in print.  Encourage them to write down their stories.  Encourage them to write down their opinions and then support them with stories and examples.  If children gain this foundation between the ages of 8 and 14, then teaching essay writing becomes very simple.
     Happy writing!

For more information about LOLIPOP Learning check out our Facebook page or the book For the Love of Learning.