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.

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

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!

Homeschooling for FREE… it is possible!

I have many people tell me that there is no way that they could homeschool, because they could never afford to buy all the materials and supplies. Well, just to set the record straight… you don’t have to buy anything fancy or spend a fortune on homeschooling your children. In fact, there are so many inexpensive ways to homeschool, it’s almost funny! I do have to admit that there are things that you can buy that do make it easier… just like a dish washer makes doing dishes easier. Yet, just like doing dishes… you don’t HAVE to have the dishwasher. :)

There are several ways in which you can go about homeschooling on a very slender shoe string… I completely understand, and have actually been there many times! This year, I did splurge on ABEKA videos for my Junior High School kiddos… just because I had to concentrate on getting my youngest reading. Up until now, it has definitely been “homeschooling on a budget”… a small one for six kids!

Homeschooling Offline

One of the best ways to homeschool on a budget – offline- is to use your local library. It is amazing how you can put together an awesome homeschool curriculum just by using what is free at the library. To make the most of the library and truly maximize on its potential, you will need to visit the library frequently. Obviously this will cost you fuel (not completely free). However, you can find teaching resources, student resources, and general educational information all in one place. You will have to invest alot of your time to benefit from this method, but if you have more time than money… then this is a good choice. I would suggest starting with a resource book for teachers or use the internet at the library. Find out what your children need to cover for the grade levels in which they are currently learning. From this information, you will want to make a scope and sequence for each of your children. The easiest way to do this is to make an “outline” type list of topics that they will cover during the course of the year. Divide this list up into the months that you will be doing school, and then further down into weeks. From this list, you will be able to search for resources to use to teach each of the topics on your weekly goals. If you are near a rather large library, you will be amazed at the wealth of materials that the library holds on each topic. You’ll probably have a difficult time choosing which book to use. I get so wrapped up in the cool information that I get distracted and want to take home every book… but I’m sure that never happens to you!

There are definitely other forms of homeschooling offline, and one of my favorites is to find textbooks that are used or are discounted. You can do this by developing what and how you plan on teaching for the next year, and then going on a treasure hunt to find things that fit your plan. If there is a curriculum that you know fits your plan, you can search for used textbooks from that set. I love to use ebay, amazon, or half.com to find my discounted books! There is also a nice homeschool curriculum sharing site called Curriculum Share that you might want to check out.

Homeschooling Online

This is my particularly favorite method of homeschooling. Simply because the cost of my internet access each month more than covers everything I need to homeschool. It’s absolutely unbelievable when you look at the amount of amazing high quality content that is out there FREE to use for homeschooling. There is so much!! I’m not even sure that I can completely cover this topic – but I’ll give you a nice sampling of some high quality free resources.

Let’s start off with one of my favorites, Lesson Pathways. This online curriculum used to require paid access, however, now it is free! That’s good for all of us. You can go to Lesson Pathways and sign up for a free account. There are what they call “pathways” that you can view and determine if they are the lessons that fit your needs, or you can actually build your curriculum within the Lesson Pathways site. You can use their student planner and set it all up right there. The lesson pathways will give you a list of weekly units from which you can view links to various activities and printables and often a video. Everything you need is right there at your fingertips for FREE. Nice…

Another pretty nice FREE online curriculum is the Easy-Peasy All-in-One Homeschool. It has every school grade as well as special subject such as art and music. We are using the art and music this year as electives. It is pretty nice, and works on the idea of links for the information and knowledge base.

There are other places that offers specific subjects for free. The USHISTORY.ORG site does just that. They have U.S. History, Ancient Civilizations, and American Government courses for free.

I could really go on and on with this… like I said before there is a WEALTH of information out there just begging to be used. To make it easier for you to find what you are looking for, I’ll just list the curriculum by subject. Please note that this list is definitely not comprehensive, these are simply the free resources that I feel bear repeating. There are so many out there, but not all of them offer a quality education.

Bible

Kids World teaches Bible lessons for kids with accompanying quizzes

Bible for Children has a lot of resources for homeschool and those who teach SS or Bible school

Calvary Curriculum has a very nice Bible series for children with the lesson AND puzzles and fill in the blank printables!

Ministry to Children also has very nice lessons

Truth Chasers Club – one of my favorites! This is the online club portion of the Good News Club for kids. There is also a free mail version of this club that your kids can sign up for!

Math

Homeschool Math has a lot of super nice printables to accompany your homeschool math lessons

Math.com has alot of nice math tools for the homeschool parent

Khan Academy is super for videos on subjects that parents just can’t get across!

Math