Carnival of Homeschool – The Ages and Stages Edition

Homeschooling Elementary

These are the magic years…everything is new and exciting. Making the most of creativity and firsts… it’s an amazing part of life that is the foundation for lifelong learning.

Introducing our youngest children to learning in a way that is fun and exciting gives them a beginning we will never regret. With that said, let’s join Monique over at Living Life and Learning to get 5 Days of Teaching Toddlers and Preschoolers.

The Journey and Destination blog shares that it’s best to start homeschooling our children from the beginning. Her post about Large Family Homeschooling really points out the benefits.

Adventure Hollow lets us see just how much fun a typical home schooling day can be. In her post Back to School Smarty Pants she shares how much fun their first day of school was for them.

Life With Tourette’s is a post that exposes us to what it must be like to find out your child has a disability.

Why Homeschool leaves us with another great post for Elementary age homeschoolers. The post entitled Public School Would have Ruined Another Kid is encouragement to stick with what you value.

Homeschooling Middle School

This level of homeschooling has it’s own individual characteristics and definitely challenges. Middle School is the time when your child is changing and growing into the adult they will one day become. Teaching character, having fun, and beginning in depth study are all just part of the Middle School process.

My Own Mind shares how she educates her Middle School Son (13) using creative and alternative methods. Check out her post entitled Live Today: Inhabit this Moment.

At Home & School gives us an encouraging post for when we encounter the negativity of non-homeschoolers. Her post 9 Ways to Defend Homeschooling without Joining a Homeschool Organization has a lot of great ideas!

In this post post entitled, But… I HOMESCHOOLED You! Kelly talks about the struggles associated with a homeschooled child that isn’t making the right decisions in life. As we reach the Middle School years with our children this becomes more of a reality.

Online Education for Kids gives us some great ideas on how to teach Middle School Language Arts. The post, Tips for Teaching Middle School English is a can’t miss!

Homeschooling HIgh School

These years are often by far the most challenging for homeschool parents. They require us to dig deeper. Finding ways to inspire and encourage our young adults to figure out how they want to prepare for the future is one of the largest challenges. Couple that with keeping detailed transcripts and finding courses that match their career needs.

Let’s start this off right with a post from Letter’s From Nebby. School Plans 2014-15: The High Schooler shares with us just what Nebby and her homeschooling family plan to do this year for High School.

Laura Grace Weldon shares with us an amazing post. Successful Teen Homeschooling: Two Vital Factors lets us have a peek at what an experienced homeschool parent has done to educate her teenagers.

Dewey’s Tree House is back with another amazing thought provoking post. In When Just Playing Around is Not Enough we find out that math manipulative use doesn’t always “add up!” (Dewey’s pun…)

Here’s a great idea for your high school science course! Electric Conductive Paint Projects and Ideas gives us an inspiring post on how to use paint that conducts electricity.

Not trying to be self serving, but I feel like this article could be helpful to someone who is trying to graduate their first homeschooler! In the momSCHOOL article Tips for Graduating Your High Schooler you can find practical points that we followed in order to prepare our daughter  graduation and for college.

Here is an article that really gives you the “insider track.” You’ll find curriculum guides with free resources for creating your very own highschool homeschool courses for free. Don’t miss the Let’s Homeschool Highschool Curriculum Guides.


I’d like to thank each of you that submitted a post to this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling. I really enjoyed reading all of the amazing homeschool insight in each article. Don’t miss the next carnival you can find out where it will be hosted at Why Homeschool. Thanks so much for stopping by!

What are your kids missing?

Peer pressure…Stress…Bullying…Potty mouths…Hourly schedule…Drugs…


Homeschoolers are missing a few things… but they are things that we certainly are broken hearted over! In fact, homeschool children have the opportunity to take their time during the day. Instead of being rushed from one class to the next, the homeschooler has the opportunity to study, and even day dream. Yes, I said it… day dream!

In fact, children are really missing out when they aren’t given time to  play and dream. Does your child have the opportunity to dream about what they want to be when they grow up? Every child should. It’s part of what makes us who we are… give them time to dream… and then allow them room to make that dream possible.

Appreciate your children. When a child feels appreciated they feel free to become their best.

Our children are missing one of the most detrimental of childhood experiences… peer pressure. By homeschooling our children we are allowing them to be who they want to be without fear of whether the majority will accept or reject them. Most homeschoolers miss that junior high/high school level of needing their peers to validate who they are. They simply go from their day dreaming to having a purpose to accomplish that dream. They don’t need their peers to acknowledge or approve it.

To be honest, I am very glad that my homeschooled children are missing some things. I am especially glad that they have the time and opportunity to dream… and hopefully I can have a part in helping them fulfill their dream. I am always telling them that they can be whatever God leads them to be, whatever they believe He has created them to do… they can do!

Using the World As Your Classroom

Taking advantage of the world around us is not something new for homeschoolers. We use our backyards for nature studies and our kitchens as science labs. How about our travels as history lessons? Sure, the best way to learn history is to live or re-enact it. This past week we spent several days reliving what we’ve been studying all year… Colonial History.

We took an opportunity to visit family and turned it into a history field trip. We spent several days in the Williamsburg, VA area putting meat on the bones of the history facts we’ve studied all year. The fact that we did this off season really enabled our children to get hands on quality instruction from the very knowledgeable guides. It was probably one of the best trips we’ve ever taken. In fact, one of my son’s favorite colonial heroes was Patrick Henry. He was enthralled to learn that Patrick Henry was the governor of Virginia and lived there in the governor’s palace in Williamsburg. Later, as we toured the Williamsburg capitol the guide took us to the high court and explained that the governor presided over this court. It was my son’s priveledge to be able to sit in the governor’s chair (Patrick Henry’s at one time…) while the guide presented her history lesson.

What an awesome way to remember history and make it come alive. Making connections to the past enables us to make connections in the application of our knowledge. Use the world as your classroom to make history live… it really works!

Homeschool Scheduling… routine or rut?

For many people  – including homeschool families – these words have the same meaning – a dull, dreary, and repetitive behavior. Yet, a routine is anything but dreary. In fact, routines can be life savers! Could you imagine how many decisions you would need to make during the course of a homeschooling day without some type of routine? The routine that you do each day saves you from a myriad of decisions, and ultimately saves you time!

The same applies for homeschooling. We each define homeschooling success differently, but most would agree that engaging learning must be accomplished. If we have an established routine, or framework for our day, then we can simply fill in the blanks with the specific items for that day. This routine doesn’t have to become a rut if you vary what happens in those “blanks.” For example, if your children wake up, dress, clean their room, eat breakfast, and then read for 30 minutes every morning, that’s just your routine or framework for your day. What separates the routine from the rut is what you do with the rest of your time. Creatively planning engaging lessons and varying your studies keeps it interesting and keeps your homeschool schedule from spinning its wheels into a rut!

Effective Spelling Strategies

Spelling ah… can you remember all those spelling tests? How about writing the words 3x every evening… We can definitely say, “You’ve come a long way wa, baby!” about this subject!

At our house, spelling is still vitally important, but it is completely different. We use an online program that allows me to enter my choice of spelling lists, but provides games, practice, and even sentence writing for each of these lists. To top it off… on Friday… the infamous test day… they take their tests online and it scores and records the grades for me. I must admit I love it. But not just because it has taken away the headache of teaching 5 levels of spelling. I love it because it supports what I believe are strategies for an effective spelling program.

1) It uses multiple strategies to teach the learner. A variety of games and learning tools is a must.

2)Words need to be used in the context of natural writing/communication. Sentence writing is part of the drill and practice.

3)It encourages the learner to self correct.

4)Gives them a multitude of opportunites to practice the words, so their success can out weigh any failures.

The Power of Praise

In my days as a private school administrator, I cannot guess how many times I heard parents tell me that their child was gifted and they thought… once enrolled, the child would simply need to be advanced a grade. It is funny, but most of those children were just good, healthy, “normal”, yet wonderful children. However, in the eyes of those parents they were so much more.
It is only natural for parents to feel that their precious little one is a “child progeny.” I am personally thrilled when parents think their children are special (in a healthy way, of course). There are so many children who live life with no encouragement or praise from their parents. Parents who cherish their children and give them healthy praise are rare, and definitely give their children an edge by doing so. Many research studies support the fact that children who are encouraged are more confident and determined than other children who are not encouraged or praised.
Yet, praising children is more than just a pat on the back and the obligatory “Nice job!” Many child psychologists say we need to praise our children, but if it isn’t SPECIFIC praise then it may be harmful. That’s interesting isn’t it? So, praise and encourage your children, but identify the specific behavior that they are doing so well. It is the effort that matters most – not the innate gifts that we have such as intelligence, strength, or beauty. Isn’t it true for all of us, “It isn’t what we are given that matters, but what we do with what we have been given.” Give it a try – praise your children for the effort that they put forth, a good attitude that they displayed, or even good personal discipline that they exemplified, and that will encourage them to keep at it.
But wait – can there be too much of a good thing? These same psychologists seem to think so. I guess that would compare to chocolate… I love chocolate and could (probably) eat it all day long. Yet a complete diet of chocolate is not good for me. In the same sense praising a child too much can lead to serious problems. Research has shown that children who were excessively praised were less confident and less determined to face difficult challenges.
In our personal lives we are often very busy – yet we try to be as involved in our children’s lives and education as possible. This moment by moment influence is truly one of the core reasons why we homeschool. Yet, in the midst of all of that, it is common to lose sight of the “big picture.” Whether they are doing handwiriting, spelling, or even their online schoolwork there are always opportunites to encourage them, especially in areas that they have had struggles!
This little study into praise has made me more determined  (and I encourage you also) to be a proactive parent and to foster admirable qualities in my chidren. I plan on doing this by first, praising them and encouraging them; second, being there for them; third, spending quality time with them; and finally, by letting them know just how special they are to me!

This post was reposted here from my personal family blog, faith and a full house.

Using the Video Project in Homeschooling

filmingVideo projects can be a huge way to cultivate an interest in the arts for your child. There are lots of reasons to try video projects in the homeschool.

1) This is a creative endeavor and your child will have to reach deep for ideas

2) Students spend so much time on electronic media each day – this is an opportunity for that time to be spent producing something meaningful.

3) Video projects can also teach students how to use language and film elements to influence people’s lives

I can imagine hearing most parents say, “But HOW?” It’s true most of us have no clue as to how to create a film, but with the extensive resources on the web… we can be fearless! But we need a few things…

1) Planning – as the guide for this instruction we will need to plan the project and set some goals. A three to seven minute video is probably a great start for Middle School to High School

2) Plan the content – You may want to use web sites that introduce the basics of filmmaking.

3) Determine the type of project such as a demonstration, narrative, public service announcement, or research.

4) Plan how the student will be graded on the project. Creating a rubric for this will definitely make it easier for both the teacher/parent and the student.

Once you’ve made your plans… it’s time to get started. However, that begins with you!

1) Introduce the concept to your student.

2) Teach them the basic premises of videography. Use a variety of methods, and make sure that they understand the process and the method of taking video, editing video, and exporting the video. You may have to have a video editing software.

Once you’ve passed along the information – it’s time for the students to begin!

1) Planning is always the first step in any great project! Plan the general concept and then share their idea so that parent/teacher can give guidance.

2) Scripting/Story boarding is the next crucial phase in creating a video project! The more organized and planned a project is – the better it will flow!

3) Film!!! This is the fun part… if your students have done all of their previous homework – this part should be easy. If your student is using a phone or ipad/ipod sound may be an issue – you may want to suggest a limited amount of dialogue. If this is the case the student will need to get their message across through the film alone.

4) Editing – this takes much longer than the actual filming. You may want your student to download a free video editing software. This article shares several of the best.

5) Submit!! Don’t let your students create a project that goes unnoticed. Help them find a way to publish their work. Easy places include Youtube, Schooltube, and even Godtube as well as Facebook – or even a video contest. Make the most of their accomplishment!

Homeschool Achievement Testing

For years, testing has been a great concern for many homeschoolers. In our state, Georgia, standardized testing is required every three years. If you are not part of a co-op that gives these tests, then you are faced with finding an organization or school that will let you test with them. Sometimes that is a pain!

I’ve recently discovered test point. This is an online testing service that makes it easy for homeschoolers to take their standardized tests. I would look into it if you are required to have a standardized test this year. I think that you have to register your own “home” school. However after that you can buy the number of licenses that you need and go from there.

I am not an affiliate nor am I receiving remuneration for this informational post…

Great List of Amazing Homeschool Organization Resources

plannerYes, one of my big hangups is definitely organization. I LOVE.LOVE to be organized and to have a clean house. Do I always get what I love? No. Way.

With six kiddos I’m happy if I get clean and organized on occasion – or at least one or the other… some is better than nothing!

So, with our large homeschooling load I love looking for online freebies that can help me get myself and my students organized. It’s even a better if the organizational tool is amazingly cute!! So, below you will find my list of some of my all time favorites that have been a huge help to my homeschool organization.

1) Planners are amazing – I know everyone is always talking about planners. I’ve even recently seen an online site charging $15 just for a personalized binder. Wow! I like to use the app “Stencil” to create some pretty amazing personalized graphics. I can send these to my computer and then enlarge and print – binder size. AND the cute factor is through the roof.  A graphic design program like “Canva” would also work well for that.

For those of you who work daily with your computer – you need to check out the online DAYVIEWER at http://www.dayviewer.com

For those of you that prefer the written word – here are several really CUTE printable planners for you.

Printable Planner from Peaceful Mom

A Homeschool Organizational Link Up Party – woohoo!

One of my favorite – Tina’s 7 step Planner  CUTE!!

2) General homeschool planning

Great ideas and printables to organize your homeschool Using Evernote

Organizing the Unorganized Learner

Homeschool Scheduling can help organize your homeschool and give you sanity!

High School Transcript template

Other downloadable templates to help you ROLL!

desk3) Homeschool Room Organization

Using the drawer system changed our day! – I have a craft drawer caddy for each child and each of their course along with requirements are in each drawer. They simply move through the drawers in the course of the day. No more asking mom – “What’s next?”

My post on the “homeschool makeover”

Using Pinterest to Homeschool

Houzz homeschool rooms – have you ever visited there? Oh. my. word. Some of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen…

This list is by far not exhaustive, but it’s some of my go to resources to get my homeschool in shape.

 

Homeschool Housewives With Attitude?

arguingIt’s typically that time of year when many homeschoolers start rethinking and reviewing their homeschool experiences and begin planning the new homeschool year. I typically try to turn a critical eye on all that transpired in the last year. Sometimes it’s pretty and sometimes it isn’t. It seems like there is always something that needs to be changed with our curriculum, how we worked, or our schedule. …And that’s ok… this isn’t a bad thing – it’s actually pretty great. You’re wondering how making mistakes can be great? Well, it isn’t so much the mistakes as it is the correcting of (ahem) said mistakes. That is moving forward… getting better… learning from those mistakes.

Which brings me to my recent observation… there are many times that I meet a homeschooling mom and we begin the typical homeschool “chatter.” You know how it goes… you’ve been there. It’s all pleasantries at first, but then… the first blow is struck when one misguided mother degrades another because of what curriculum they use, or what schedule or method. It isn’t blatant… at least not usually. It’s kind of that… “Oh… you use that curriculum.” “Well, we use such and such. We think it’s the best.”

You’ve been there, and you have walked away wondering if you are a fit parent or why you ever started homeschooling in the first place!  Maybe I’m over sensitive, but those conversations used to really knock the wind out of me!  Why -when we are all aiming for the same common goal – can’t we congratulate and encourage each other? It isn’t difficult to say something positive to another parent when you see/hear that they are doing something very different than you. Isn’t that what homeschooling is all about? People who believe that they can make a difference? People who want to do things “differently?”

Let’s just remember how incredibly deep our words can pierce and take time to 1) encourage those homeschool families around us (you never know who is struggling today) 2) Don’t expect everyone to be just like you – different is GOOD! 3) Be yourself to others – don’t try to be perfect – sometimes the best thing that we can do to encourage ourselves and others is to talk about our own struggles 4) Pray for those who homeschool along side of you… we have so many things in common that our differences are often minute! 5) Always think about what you say before you say it. Run your words through the filter of God’s love!

Homeschool moms we have one of the greatest opportunities…we educate our own children. We can teach them about God’s love in the best way possible… through example. Together – if we stop being petty – we can have a huge impact on America for good! Yet, not without showing each other support and kindness… it really is that simple. Who can you make a difference with today?

Common Core – The Truth from a Homeschool Perspective

I recently read the article The Truth about Common Core in the Guardian. I loved the fact that they presented several different views of the common core. However, since I homeschool the one on homeschooling really seemed to stand out to me. What is your opinion about the Common Core?

The view from home-school

By Nicole Reuter, home-schooling parent in upstate New York ( quoted from the article The Truth about Common Core – in The Guardian.com)

One of the things that shapes the typical home-schooling parent’s mentality about education is the ability to teach my kids what I want, when I want – as well as the freedom to move at a pace that’s appropriate for each child and to teach them in a way that is best suited to their learning style.

My biggest concern about the Common Core State Standards is how long we’ll be able to maintain our freedom to educate our children in the way that works best for us. There are no federal home-schooling standards but, in New York State, we already agree to cover certain specific subjects, report grades to our school district, and track our children’s progress with standardized tests (like IOWA or CAT tests) or written end-of-year evaluations. National standards, both directly and indirectly, could be devastating to home-schoolers by forcing us to abandon the very reason many of us chose home-schooling in the first place: flexibility.

Even if we maintain the legal right to be free of Common Core, we might well still have to cope with its effects. Some educational companies that market to the home-school community have already begun altering their curriculum in alignment with Common Core. Worse yet, we are told that college entrance exams are likely to change to reflect the new Common Core standards, rather than being tests of general knowledge. If that happens, home-schooled students would be disadvantaged in their pursuit of higher education unless they adhere to the standards, regardless of what they actually know or what skill sets they posses.

I also worry that politicians could just decide that home-schooling parents need to comply with all of the picayune standards of Common Core, full stop. At that point, I would lose the freedom to decide on behalf of my children – my students – how to help them grasp certain concepts, and instead be beholden to teaching them certain things at certain times as determined by the government. How much does it matter if a student masters fractions in the fourth grade or the fifth grade?

My husband was a public high school teacher at the time we chose to home-school our oldest two children, so he’s seen the educational system from both sides and knew this would be a good choice for us. Common Core standards want to make cookie-cutter students that get a one-size-fits-all kind of education. I know that’s not what’s best for my children, and I don’t think it’s what’s really best for any child.

 

The ADD/ADHD Epidemic

Photo: It's time to #wakeup

One of my friends posted this graphic on facebook this morning. While I know we see these things all the time, something about it really triggered my thinking. Could it be true? and if it was that would mean – yet again – that money speaks louder than anything else. Sad… very sad…

As my brain was running through these wild and depressing thoughts, I began to click on a new tab and google it. (Well, isn’t that the answer for anything we don’t know these days?  ) What I found was that apparently it is true. In 1991 legislation was passed that included ADD/ADHD in the funding for special education. Of course, the more special education children you have in your school the more special funding your school receives, in addition to any grant money. Though, from what I understand over the years the government has become more particular about what that money is spent on. I believe that it has to be spent on the special education department, so at least the money stays in the correct department. (I’m not sure if that is any consolation, though.) Anyway, this occurred in 1991, the numbers for ADD/ADHD rose dramatically since then. We aren’t talking hundred of thousands, we are talking millions! So, of course, I began to google to find out just how high the cases of ADD/ADHD have risen since this legislation was passed. …And for your viewing convenience here is a neat little graphic that sums it all up!

Jamie Turner Gaddy's photo.

So, yes… I would say that the numbers have drastically risen since that legislation was passed. So, the evidence is in… however, I have to admit I don’t think it is all “filthy lucre’s” fault in this case. You see, I believe that there are two issues at play here. Yes, the misdiagnosis of many children across the U.S., but also the rise in use of technology. Don’t get me wrong… I love technology (as I sit here on my laptop with my ipad and phone beside me…) I just believe that our children are suffering the effects of sitting too long in front of the television and playing too long with video games. Teachers just can’t compete with the amazing graphics, interesting plots, and super sound that comes with all that technology. So, in all honesty I believe that there are two evils at play here.

1) Money – I think every American would admit that most American public schools are often more concerned with the budget than with the individual child.

2) Abuse of technology – I believe that there is a right way to use technology. That is for educational purposes and as tools for productivity. Letting television and video games babysit our children is a big mistake and we (our children) our beginning to pay for it!

Making the Most of a Busy Time

photo (6)I must apologize… it has been quite awhile since I’ve posted some good material! It’s been pretty crazy around here for the last couple  months. My grandfather passed away from a stroke back in March, and my grandmother has been having some issues. Grandpa was 84 and grandma is 82, and both were/are amazing people! Anyway, I’ve flown/driven back and forth from Ohio three times now in the last few months. Needless to say, we’ve been doing the best we can with homeschooling. Sometimes life is just like that. God’s grace is sufficient, even in these times.  I must say, I’m so proud of my kids. They really did much better than I thought they would on their schoolwork while I was gone.

There are still some gaps in the big picture and some things that need a bit more work in order for them to be where they need to be – but all in all – we are getting there. We will probably do a bit of summer school focusing on the subjects that they just didn’t get this year, and of course – having some summer fun with a new pool. AND… maybe a mix of the two!

When life throws curve balls… what do you do?

Proverbs 3:5-6

        Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

What are your Summer Homeschool Plans?

Photo: If only I could remember this in those aggravating moments!

Yes, it’s been one of those crazy years. You know… the kind where you feel like you are just making it by a hair’s breadth. There have been a lot of triumphs, but also a lot of tragedies. It’s just been a tough year. However, by God’s amazing grace (yet again) we will make it to the finish line.

As I look back over my children’s homeschool accomplishments, I realize that though they did well… we didn’t make it as far as I felt they needed to go. I’m disappointed… but I realize that it isn’t the end of the world. After all tomorrow is another day… Another great reason for homeschooling. To make up those areas in which we have a few deficits, we plan on homeschooling throughout the summer. Not a full fledged all subject homeschool endeavor… but a focused academic pursuit. Each of the kiddos has a specific area in which they have a weakness. We plan on working through that weakness during the summer, and look forward to fall finding each of them on top of their game!

First grade daughter needs to work on reading fluency. We will be doing Time4Learning Language Arts as well as some other phonics based programs.

Third grade daughter needs work on multiplication and division. We will be using some online math resources to help her gain mastery in this area.

 

Seventh grade twins need work on math skills and spelling. We will be using Vocabulary Spelling City and Time4Learning in those specific areas to boost their mastery levels.

Do you find yourself in this same situation? What are your plans for this summer?