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.

 

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?

Carnival of Homeschooling – April Fool’s Edition!

April the first stands mark’d by custom’s rules,

A day for being, and for making fools: —

But, pray, what custom, or what rule supplies

A day for making, or for being — wise?

(Rev. Samuel Bishop, 1796)

This is one of the earliest known mentions of April Fool’s Day. Though the exact origin is a bit cloudy, most historians trace a general air of tomfoolery back to antiquity.The Romans celebrated a festive holiday during the end of March known as Hilaria. The Jewish festival of Purim is also celebrated during this time and incorporates costumes, carnivals, and pranks.While I’ve heard that an ancient Dutch poem mentions April Fool’s and was written in 1561. So, in any case we can see that playing pranks and making all sorts of general merriment is the custom for this time of the year!

 

I personally just love April Fool’s Day, and at our house we are always on the lookout for some fun and exciting ways to celebrate this quirky holiday. So, in conjunction with our typical article submissions we’ll have some great ways to celebrate this silliest of all holidays!

 

Of course, as homeschoolers a great way to celebrate this day would be to research the history, make a spelling list that coordinates with the holiday, and possibly do a few science experiments, and even some art that may include making some incredibly fake April Fool’s Day food!

 

april fools day food.jpgApril Fool’s Idea #1

Make some fake food!!! You can use clay, or even other foods to make it crazy! We like to get daddy with this one! Another fun thing… try to eat with chopsticks!!

 

I love homeschooling for the simple reason that there’s usually time to do the fun stuff! Here’s a few other fun homeschooling ideas to fill your day!

 

Leah Courtney at As We Walk Along the Road shares a great way to blog through the alphabet with her article, Blogging Through the Alphabet.

 

Want to see A Typical Day in the life of a homeschooling family? Diamonds in the Rough has shared what they do!

 

Solagratiamom has shared one of her posts about presidents day. I love learning news ways to connect holidays to regular homeschool learning and she has done just that with her post, Presidents and Heat Flow.

 

Phonemic Awareness for Pre-Reading is a necessary aspect for pre-readers to gain the fundamental knowledge that enables them to be successful readers. This article gives some great online resources for teaching your child how to read.

 

Brave Writer has shared You Have Time with us this week re-afirming to us how to slow down and enjoy what we are doing.

I have been looking for some advice on the topic that Natalie shares with us today from her blog, Fill Your Bookshelf. Grammar Unit Study offers alot of ideas for homeschoolers to get their kids having fun with words!

 

packing pnuts.jpgApril Fool’s Idea #2

 

One of our favorite yet slightly messy ideas is to fill something with packing peanuts. My teenagers have taken this as far as filling up someone’s vehicle, but you could make it simple by filling up their bookbag or may be even one of their drawers in their dresser…loads of fun! (Warning: this can get rather messy!)

 

Yet, play can be messy…

 

Sharon share with us The Importance of Play in Nursery School from her blog, Reading-Writing-Learning. It is a definite truth that children need play, and even learn through their play!

 

If you’re in the mood for some fun learning stop by Online Education for Kid’s post on 10 Fun Homeschooling Resources! We always need some fresh ideas to breathe life into our homeschooling!

 

I’d love to throw in one of my favorite blog posts – Make Homeschool Science More Fun than Play… don’t you wish that was the case with all our homeschool subjects every day!

soap.jpgApril Fool’s Idea #3

 

Cover a bar of soap with clear nail polish, our highschool children love doing this kind of thing to each other, uncles, and even poor daddy!

 

With high school in mind, here are a few great homeschooling articles that top the list!

 

Don’t miss out on Let’s Homeschool High School’s 30 Questions in 30 Days! It’s definitely going to cover a lot of homeschooler’s FAQ!! While we are over at LHSHS you need to visit their High School Curriculum Directory, it is loaded with great curriculum options that even veteran homeschoolers might not know about. I found several things to use for my higschoolers this year!

Dee shares with us a great post on Why I’m Not Making My Kids Do Dishes Anymore. I know mine would love for me to say this for sure!

 

I love this article from Pandahoneybee on Digging into Writing. I don’t know about you guys, but writing is always an issue at our house.

 

bad jokes.jpg

April Fool’s Idea #4

 

Make Your Own Jokes

 

I love to use this fun exercise to get creative juices flowing and to get my kiddos writing. It’s an easy way to have some fun, and to get a little April Fool’s Day going! You can even have them illustrate it like a cartoon!

We all know how important technology is in our homeschooling endeavors… Why Homeschool shares a great blog post entitled, Homeschooling and Software Development.


And last but definitely not least, our final homeschooling article… My Joy Filled Life shares with us one of her guest posts – The ABC’s of Homeschooling!

Homeschool Curriculum Review – Vocabulary Spelling City

Learn spelling and vocabulary

I have been trying to slowly work through the curriculum options that we have tried throughout the years and make a public review of them. I know I haven’t gotten very far with this, but I hope to remedy that in the near future! So, without delay… today I will be reviewing the Vocabulary Spelling City website.

First let me tell you about VSC. Vocabulary Spelling City is a website that hosts your own specific lists as well as most well known curriculum spelling lists. That means that most of BJU press, Saxon, and ABEKA’s lists are already constructing and are just waiting for you to download them to your account. There are also other grade and subject specific lists such as a third grade science list that we really enjoyed!

PROS – VSC allows me to host all of my children’s spelling lists in one place. Prior to using VSC I was doing 5 different spelling lessons per week, using 5 different spelling books, and giving 5 spelling tests. It was definitely a picture of insanity. However, once I discovered VSC my whole world changed! I was able to simply choose and assign the lists that I wanted each of my children to complete. They were able to log in, follow their assignment, complete the practice games, and then take the spelling test. All I needed to do was check to make sure that they passed the test. If they did not, they repeated that week’s worth of assignments. All of the kids love most the practice games which include everything from writing assignments to hangman style games. Another aspect of VSC that I appreciate is the free printable handwriting worksheets. These offer a great way for you to get your kiddos working on their handwriting skills! As a lover of all things math related, I enjoy the fact that VSC has specific math vocabulary that I can use to make sure my children understand the math concepts that we are studying.

CONS – Though I love the ease of simply setting my kids loose on VSC, the time that it takes to create the assignments for each child is a bit extensive. Although, in all fairness it saves me so much time that I really don’t mind. Yet, I think if there could be a way to “bulk assign” the lists to kids with pre-made settings… that would make it awesome! There are a few of the practice games that my children really don’t like. They say they take too much time. However, the games that they dislike are very few, and there are more than twenty to choose from. All in all, the PROS definitely outweigh the CONS… making me a definite fan of VSC!

3 Homeschool Tips for Vocabulary Learning

vocabulary learningSure, I know learning vocabulary is almost like a tradition in America. We’ve been writing our spelling and vocabulary words for decades. We’ve also been finding those science and history bold faced terms that sound like Greek, and trying to look them up. Vocabulary is everywhere… it’s in our math, our language arts, our science, our history, even in art and music. So, are we missing it by requiring students to mundanely write out vocabulary definitions that are longer than my arm? Can it be done another way?

For the most part vocabulary instruction in America has been based on a written or oral learning process. Yet, we know that learning vocabulary works best when the new words are connected to old meanings. That simply means that the new knowledge is taught via connections to the knowledge the student has already (aka schemata.) These connections to meaning are like routes on a map, and they enable understanding.  Proverbs 14:6 says, “…knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.” It is the connections that make the understanding, and it is these connections in learning that I have based my teaching methods on for over 20 years. If you want a child to learn something – connect it to what he already knows!

Secondly, learning is easy when we can see the process. Just like doubting Thomas in the Bible. He didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he saw His wounds and touched them. Who knows… maybe Thomas was a visual/tactile learner and just really couldn’t “get it” without seeing and touching. so many children are just like that. Allow them to use more than just their ears, and they have understanding for life.

Third, if we can get the student to apply this knowledge or internalize it through use they will be able to solidify it in their thinking. We’ve heard so many times, if we do something more than 14 times it becomes a habit. Similiar is true here, if the student can use the vocabulary word (or other new knowledge) in a real life situation it begins to become part of his/her daily life.

Several popular vocabulary instruction strategies that incorporate these three key ideas include:

1) Pre teaching words prior to reading

2) Using the context of words within a story to understand their meaning.

3) Word walls

4 ) Shades of meaning – using paint cards with hues of a color – give students words that are varying intensities of the same idea. The student organizes them according to what they believe is the most intense (darker hue) to the least intense (lighter hue).

5)Root word analysis – use picture cards of the root word – and then add prefix and suffixes.

6)Vocabulary Bingo

7) Charades with vocabulary words

8) Synonym lists for vocabulary words – finding synonyms that they already know is enabling them to make connections!

Check out my other article on 5 Ways to Build Vocabulary

Christmas Break Boredom Busters

Yes, it’s that time… all of the busy -ness of Christmas is nearing an end. The presents have been wrapped and are under the tree… and the kids are on Christmas break. Even for homeschoolers, that spells “boredom.” My kids are already beginning to complain of that diabolical disease. It drives me crazy. Just a few days ago they had too much to do, and were telling me how desperately they needed a break. Well, if that isn’t just like life… the grass is always greener…

So, as we are awaiting the “big day” and have finally spent out the tireless series of Christmas parties… things are beginning to settle down and the kids are now claiming “boredom.” To counteract this cry… here is a quick reference list for homeschool boredom busters!

1) Try your hand at making your own Christmas cards or try this Christmas coloring book

2) Make your own Christmas ornaments

3) Make some Christmas placements for Christmas dinner

4) Listen to some great old time radio Christmas stories!

5) Read aloud some of the christmas classics!

6) Watch a few of the good old Christmas movies – some of our favorites are White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th St., and The Christmas Carol.

7) Try these fun Christmas printables

8) Make some Christmas cookies

9) Make your own Christmas word search

10) Listen to the Christmas story together!

Pinterest and the Homeschooler…

pinterest homeschooling

I think most of you know that I contribute to the Time4Learning Community Blog. This week I created a post that I think is very important to the homeschool community. A combination of two of my loves… Pinterest (ahhhhh….) and homeschooling! (Almost as good as chocolate and peanut butter… maybe) I thought that I would share the link and a repost of the article. It was so much fun to create and I felt like you all could get alot of benefit from it.

If you could take a minute and stop by the Time4Learning Community I would appreciate it, and I know that you’ll definitely come away with something useful. It’s a great place to share and become a part of a huge and varied group of homeschoolers. The parent forum is bursting with tons of information on all aspects of homeschooling, and the blog has so much… well, let’s just give you a little taste here…

Yet, in regards to the subject at hand what is your opinion? Do you think that pinterest led learning might be a viable new homeschooling method? I think it could very well be possible, IF… and this is a big IF… we could somehow keep on the task of homeschooling! Pinterest has such a wealth of information that it is often extremely difficult to NOT get distracted. So, good luck making it through my list…

 

The Top 25 Reasons Homeschoolers Should Use Pinterest

Organization Ideas

1)Get organized for Homeschooling!
2) Simplify your Homeschool Room
3)Organize your Schedule
4)Use technology to organize your Homeschool Planning
5)Make your homeschool beautiful… (my dream homeschool room)
Learning Ideas
6) Find amazing resources for nearly every subject
7) Give your kiddos a pinterest board and let them pin their favorite ideas
8) Use pinterest for science projects
9)Find great pictures to incorporate into your lessons
10) Use pinterest as a lesson in itself. Teach the kids how to create pins and boards and how useful it can be for their learning experience.
11)Find specific grade level materials.
12) Use the great book resources on pinterest to start literature units
13) Use the printable resources to enrich your lessons
14)Use various pins to create a virtual field trip for a particular study
15)Use resources to find fresh ideas for Hands-on activities
Enrichment Ideas
16) Take advantage of the plethora of craft and art ideas and have some fun
17) Encourage your kiddos to make Christmas presents for others
18) Use pinterest to post your own amazing photos of your learning
19) Have your kiddos use Pinterest as an online collection of knowledge for a research report
20) Teach photo editing skills using tools such as PicMonkey
Personal Enrichment Ideas
21) Use pinterest to connect with other homeschoolers – follow their boards
22) Find amazing new teaching/learning products
23) Keep abreast of learning trends and homeschool news
24) Find tutorials to help you teach various subjects
25) Find encouragement through educational posts and homeschool blogs

Five Tips for Competing in the National Spelling Bee!

spellinig bee

Sure, we’ve all heard of the National Spelling Bee, also referred to as the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee because of it’s sponsor. This spelling bee has been around since the 1920’s and was started in order to “help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives”(from the official website). Over the years, this spelling bee has helped encourage and motivate thousands of youngsters develop their spelling and vocabulary skills. The Scripps’ National Spelling Bee starts with the individual schools, co-ops, and homeschool organizations across the country at a local spelling bee. These spelling bees then feed a state competition which in turn allows the winner to go on to the National Spelling Bee.

The growth of homeschooling has also seen a rise of contestants in the National Spelling Bee. An article titled “Homeschoolers Lead Spelling Bee” claimed that 10% of the finalists were, in fact, homeschoolers. That is amazing! I am sure the percentage would be even greater if more homeschoolers knew how easy it was to register! It really is quite simple and doesn’t take much time at all…

spelling bee1

1) Find a participating homeschool co-op or association that is already registered with the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee. If you aren’t sure you can search of list of registered schools and homeschool organizations to see if one in your local area is listed.
2) If you cannot find a participating organization, you can register as an individual. There is a fee that you will pay, but it includes the cost for all spelling bees as well as the complete spelling list to study for your grade.
3) Make sure you register before the deadline – as of now… they are still taking registrations but it is their “late period.”
4) Once you’ve completed your registration process the rest is fun… you’ll get your list of study words and be able to get started. You can even join their Spelling Bee Word Club for a small fee. This membership will give you weekly emails as well as words of the day.
5) It’s fun to start a spelling club with the other members of your local group. You can get together and have mini – practice spelling bees to help you get acclimated to how the real thing will go.

If you’ve ever participated in a Scripp’s National Spelling Bee – please share your experience!