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!

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!

Homeschool History How-to

homeschooling historyHistory is definitely one of those subjects that I love to teach. In fact, we love it so much in our homeschool that we usually do a family trip around what we study for history. I believe history is a subject that shows forth the amazing grace of God throughout the ages. To me history is just that… HIS story! Even though we see man fail, triumph, win, and lose… throughout it all we can see God’s hand.

As we look at learning history in the homeschool, however, there are many great ways to teach this subject and instill a love of history into your children. Here are just a few methods that work great for teaching homeschool history.

1) Literature study – this method involves getting as many good books as you can on the subject that you are studying and read this books together, or separately if your student is in highschool

2) Time Line – this method is great if you are wanting to study the history of the world since the beginning. Using a master time line – one that you can put up around your school room or your child’s room is very effective!

3) Using a pre-made history curriculum. You can find these in a variety of methods. This is often the easiest to begin with. You can use this to “get your feet wet” and then jump into your own ideas as you feel more confident.

4) Notebooking is probably my very favorite method to teach/learn history. We use this in conjunction with other methods, but it is very effective in helping the student remember what they have learned!

5) Unit Study is a great way to learn about history while incorporating all your favorite learning methods into one. You can use literature study in your unit study while you base it all on a notebooking approach. The unit study simply means that you are studying one section of history in depth for a set amount of time.

There are, in fact, a few really great free homeschool history curriculum offerings out there. One I just recently found is the Guesthollow American History. If you have older students, there are several great free history curriculum offerings for High Schoolers.

US History – free textbook online

A Biography of America – free online at Annenburg Media

Hippocampus Selection of History Courses for Free – online

FREE MIT History Courses

Below is a graphic categorizing some really great homeschool history curriculum. All of these courses can be purchased through various homeschool book retailers.

homeschool history

Tip of the Week: Writing Homeschool Lesson Plans

homeschool resource

Don’t you just love freebies? I sure do – that’s why I’m offering a freebie for each of you this week. In addition to an article about writing lesson plans, I thought I’d throw in a lesson plan template. There’s nothing more fun than being able to do a somewhat tedious task on a beautiful piece of paper. But first, let’s talk lesson plans.

I’m sure that most of you veteran homeschoolers have a tried and true method of creating your lesson plans for the various studies that you do. I have to admit that I do as well. If we are going to go rogue and create our own unit study, I need to create a lesson plan that allows me to incorporate goals and objectives and enable our learning to be right on target. There’s no better way to do that than by using a basic lesson plan. Here’s my take on this (just fyi… I learned this method from my Graduate School professor!)

1) Think about the overall goal that you would like to accomplish with your unit study. Write this out in sentence format. This will be rather broad!

2) Decide how long this study will be. Once you determine the length – write a more precise goal for what you wish to learn each week.

3) Take each weekly goal and make a daily objective that supports that goal.

4) Now is where the lesson plan comes in. You see you really can’t plan a lesson until you clearly know what your goals are. I like to follow what I call the GOMMA method. I use this acrostic to help me focus on the big goal, the daily goal, the method of teaching this lesson, the materials that I will need to gather in order to teach the lesson, and the assessment that I will use to determine if the students understood the lesson.

Lesson plan

 

5) Keep in mind that the assessment does not need to be a test. This can be an informal or formal assessment and can consist of a project, a worksheet, a discussion time, or even a test or quiz. Whatever you believe is appropriate on a daily basis to determine that student learning took place.

So, without further adieu – here is your FREE downloadable and printable lesson plan template.

GOMMA graphic lesson plan

 

Make Homeschool Science More Fun Than Play!

scienctific method printable

At our house, the kids are always up for a little playtime.  I’m always amazed at how much they learn even while they are playing. With that in mind, it has been my goal over the years to find ways to teach the kids while having a lot of fun. It really isn’t that difficult, and it give amazing results. I’ve noticed that when my kids are doing a learning experience that is hugely fun, they REMEMBER all of it. Here’s a few of my favorite ways to make Homeschool Science more fun than playing!

1) Make sure that your homeschool science curriculum is one that can easily lend itself to fun experiments and hands on learning. We’ve used a couple over the years and the two that really stand out to me is the Apologia science series, and Science4Us. Apologia has alot of accompanying experiments and activities that can be so much fun, while Science4Us is an online based program they have amazing science songs and even an online log/journal.

2) Keep it fresh and stay ahead of the game. Yes, it does take a bit of forethought to engage your kids in fun elementary homeschool science. However, this forethought is so worth it in the end. If you can organize your science time each week to include at least one hands on project that you spend one day to initiate and the rest of the week to review… your kids will enjoy science so much! For example, we are studying birds for science this semester. We are using the Apologia science text Flying Creatures. We created a bird watching journal and decorated it with every bird on the first day. Then for the rest of the week/semester we are watching for birds in our yard and using bird watching guides. We go on walks and try to find new birds each time.

3) Pass on an excitement for science by being truly excited yourself!! Your kids can see right through you. If you  hate science and hate doing science with them, they will know! Even if we don’t really love science as parents, finding super fun science experiments to do with your children can be a TON of fun!! It’s not the rote memory of facts or the bland reading of textbooks – it can be making slime or experimenting with which item freezes the quickest. It’s investigating off the page.

4) Don’t use boring worksheets – I know – I know… some kids just love worksheets. I get that – I’m one of those strange people. Yet, you can make it exciting by using or making out of the box and off the page printables. Try this free download of a  scientific method printable that I made.

5) Not sure how to teach the information/science behind the experiment or project that you had a blast doing? That’s easy to fix… you can google the idea, read it to your kids out of a science book, watch a youtube science video, or find a website with loads of science  information.

Get the FREE scientific method printable here!

Don’t forget to check out our other articles on science – Simple Tips for Teaching Science

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

5 Ways to Build Your Vocabulary

build your vocabularyEveryone knows that the fundamental skill of learning is the ability to read and comprehend. Along with that is the concept of vocabulary building. When read and learn new words, our knowledge and skills increase. All this by simply understanding more vocabulary. To top it off… this learning shouldn’t stop when you graduate from high school or even college. Sure, even us “adults” need to continue to build our vocabulary. As a dear friend of mine said recently, “Learning new things keeps my brain young!” This is definitely the case with vocabulary skill building. Here are 5 tips to help you learn and keep learning throughout life!

1) Get into the habit of looking up any words that you come across that you don’t understand. If you do this every time – you will assimilate hundreds of new words each year!

2) Make a point to use those new words in a sentence the day that you learn about them. This immediately puts the words into your schema and gives you a reference for future use. Put those new words on sticky notes around your house. This will help you remember to use them in a sentence. Throw them away once you’ve put them into practice.

3) Become a voracious reader. READ. READ. READ. This is by far the most important thing. Reading builds your vocabulary as well as your knowledge! Read and you will go far!

4) Read through the dictionary. Sure I know this sounds boring. Yet, you can quickly scan through the pages and highlight any words that you don’t know. You’ll be surprised  at the sheer quantity of words that you ALREADY know!

5) Read literary works that challenge you.  The classics are a great place to start. There is GOOD reason as to why these books have remained favorites over the years and even centuries. Most often their themes transcend time and will envelope you in their story before you know it! Reading books that were written centuries ago will increase your vocabulary with classic words. This practice will not just build your vocabulary, but will enrich it!

 

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!