Helpful Tips for Beginning to Homeschool Mid-Year

Starting to homeschool is never easy, but it isn’t any more difficult to start in January. In fact, it’s a great time to start.

Homeschooling Mid Yearsummer homeschool

I’ve noticed over the years that many people take the homeschool plunge in January. I know, some of you might think… Really? Well, it’s not so weird when you stop to think about what they might have gone through last fall. Usually, those who start in January have just endured something that causes them to not put off homeschooling another minute!

Just a few pointers…

  • Check with your state guidelines for homeschooling to see that you have complied with everything that is expected
  • Take time to find out how your children learn. Ask their previous teachers, sit down with them and do a few “worksheets” or watch an educational video. Perhaps you could even find a few online homeschool sites and try them out. Discover how they learn! (auditory, visual, kinesthetic(hands on)
  • Decide on how you want to homeschool. If you are new to this you might want to start with something that does most of the work for you like an all-in-one curriculum or perhaps an online homeschool program.
  • Research the different curriculum options that fit your child’s learning needs as well as the needs of family
  • Purchase the curriculum
  • Set learning goals for your children – what do you want to accomplish this year?
  • Set your schedule – decide on how many days that you want to homeschool and then divide up the lessons and assignments to reach your goals in the allotted amount of time.
  • Set a side a place where your kids can learn comfortably.
  • Get learning!!

 

New Year’s Eve Celebrations for Kids

I know celebrating the New Year isn’t always a kid friendly situation. As a parent of six, I’m always looking for kid-friendly options to ringing in the New Year. At our house we definitely feel that the holiday is best when we celebrate it together. We don’t particularly enjoy leaving the kids out of the fun – memory making!

In the days leading up to the holiday we use holiday related themes in our homeschool. I love incorporating history and background information during this time along with monthly holiday lists, it lets the kids understand more of why we celebrate various holidays and where the holiday traditions came from. We also love to use the New Year as a time to refocus on our education and to learn new things in the New Year.

My crowd loves to stay up late, so the hour has never really been an issue for us. Yet, other parents and children really can’t do the late hour… so let’s get started with #1…

1) Have a New Year’s Eve… noon party or celebrate New Year’s in another part of the world. Depending on where you live, this could get the kiddos in bed at a decent time!

2) Have pre party craft time – and make New Year’s Noise Makers. What kid or grown up for that matter doesn’t enjoy making NOISE!!??

Learning Creating Living: New Years Noise Makers  Ideas for children!  These sophisticated noise makers are fun to make, too, especially by older kids.

3) Plan for games or other activities every thirty minutes with these super fun lunch sacks filled with everything you need for that particular game. With the time attached to the front… it’s so easy. Visit the Coake family to see what else they do on NYE! Or check out the other version of the same idea and get free printables from the Idea Room.

Fun idea for a Family New Year   new-years-eve-game

4) Have a New Year’s Eve balloon drop. Then use the balloons to play another fun game! Or add a twist and fill the balloons with confetti (use a funnel)! The kids can then pop the balloons and confetti will fly! (That is if you don’t mind a good bit of clean up!)

new years I have done this with fish net from dollar tree and it works! Lots of blowing up, so use an air compressor  Confetti Filled Balloons, Black and Gold, Confetti Balloons, 1st Birthday, Photo Prop, Bridal Shower, Baby Shower, New Years Eve, Wedding on Etsy, Sold

5) What party is complete without party hats? Decorate store bought hats or make your own with these amazing free printables!

Confetti New Years Eve Party Ideasnew years eve party hat printables

6) It wouldn’t be the best party of the year without a photo booth! There are lots of great ways to put this together easily… you can order photo booth background from stores like Oriental Trading… tape metallic shapes on the wall, or use wrapping paper and photo booth props! What’s even better… these props are free printables from iheart naptime!

printable photo props   

7) Of course, there has to be games! Try this New Year’s Eve Bingo printable from Capturing Joy or this one from Crazy Little Projects.

Free Printable Christmas Bingo Cards  New Years Eve Bingo Game Printable, the perfect way to ring in the new year!

or this old faithful – with a New Year’s Twist..

have dancefloor with spots in these patterns or hanging dots and this as prop décor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

or make your own NY resolution jar. Have cards available for each guest to write on and put in the jar. Put a twist on your typical resolutions, and make it a “Charitable” resolution. Each person writes down a way that they will help out a local charity or community resource. Sometimes our resolutions are better kept when we’ve actually written them somewhere.

New Year's Eve Party Game with Printable Cards and Jar DIY from Rosy Glasses.

8) Create a New Year Time Capsule. This is a great activity – and Pretty Providence has even give us a free printable to get the kids going…

2014 Time Capsule for Kids! Such a sweet and EASY way to freeze a little memory of your littles in time each year! I love how it's small and easy to store too!

9) Have the best of food…  with Tuxedos and Pearls… and sparkling cotton candy (made with sparking selzter water and cotton candy- def. kid proof!)

50 Amazing New Years Ideas   Sparkling Cotton Candy Drink | perrier and cotton candy | magic cotton candy drink | try with champagne or sprite | New Year's Eve ideas for kids

and finger foods of all kinds!

10) Don’t forget to decorate! I love using old frames that I’ve spray painted and then adding a new “inspirational” picture every month or so… here’s a great free printable from the 36th Avenue to help you decorate for NYE!

   DIY Happy New Year Garland

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!

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.

 

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!

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.