Back to School – Five Tips for Making it Real!

chloe

Yep, so here we go… back to school… In some ways, it is thoroughly refreshing, yet in others it’s like a huge heavy wave washing over me! (Ugh, washing – reminds me I have about 4 loads backed up as I write…) So, in reality that wave might be the huge landfill of clothing that needs washed due to my ever vigilant presence in our homeschooling room. Anyone else out there feeling the laundry pain? Ok… enough commiserating… on to the good stuff…

This year has really been great so far. Though at times I do feel more like a referee than a mother… I think that the few improvements that we made to our schedule and curriculum are really paying of. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Improving every year? Making it better and better? Sure – so that by the time your last one graduates… you are THE MASTER!!!! Then what? I guess we could homeschool our grandchildren? (I am definitely in a mood today…)

Ok…so my five tips for making it real… drum roll please?

1) Keep changing, working, reworking, organizing and reorganizing to find the right mix for your family. When you do, it will flow and you will know that you have “nailed it!” (I’m feeling a good bit of flow this year, almost ready claim that… )

2) Keep exploring new curriculum. There is ALWAYS new homeschool curriculum each year, and what is so amazing is that it actually seems to be getting better. I never would have thought that some of the curriculum we love would have been so awesome, unless I TRIED it! :)

3) Mix it up – sure… giving kids a variety of things to do each day really makes for happy kids! When I make my kids sit at their desks for long stretches of time… well let’s just say it isn’t pretty. Give them workbooks, videos, literature books, and online curriculum for a wide variety of experience throughout the day!

4) Get your own habits established. I know, some people balk at this one… but I have found that if I can get a good habit established of studying and learning each day during specific times… it is so much easier to keep that going! Less whining, less ugly… you name it!

5) Give the natives a snack! Ok… that sounds really trivial… but seriously this year we went to a new organizational method and are using the 10 drawer caddies… one drawer for each subject and they proceed in a linear fashion each day… completing their tasks without my reminding them (amazing by the way!) and one drawer – right in the middle is left for a snack… oh my word! You would think that world had turned upside down and somehow my children switched from grumpy trolls to sweet little fairies…. amazing what a snack can do!

So, keep it real… and don’t forget that life changing snack. :)

Homeschool Curriculum… just the basics

Choosing and using a homeschool curriculum can be more daunting than the actual decision to homeschool your child. Finding the right curriculum for you family’s needs and your individual children is absolutely necessary. Talking about it is easy… but actually getting there is the hard part.

There are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help you discover the perfect curriculum:

Read the rest…

Carnival of Homeschooling – Spring Refreshment Edition

homeschool encouragement

I don’t know if you are anything like me, but as a homeschooling mom of six… there are times that I just need a bit of refreshment. Schoolwork becomes overwhelming, housework becomes tedious, and patience runs thin… it is then that I know I need to get my “cup filled” back up. How can I continue to give to my children and my family when my cup is empty. Frankly, it’s nearly impossible. That’s where these carnival of homeschooling editions come in. There have been so many times that I have felt exhausted and my homeschool motivation level way past E… that I’ve opened up one of these Homeschool Carnival blog posts and have found refreshment and encouragement in so many areas of my life. It is my hope and goal to return the favor for each of you this week. I hope that somewhere in the posts of this blog carnival you will find the refreshment, motivation, inspiration, or just plain old laughter that will help you get through the next few months of school! It really is so great when the homeschool community helps each other…


So, sit back, relax… and get your cup filled today…

Sometimes refreshing can come in different forms. There are times when I can read a fellow homeschool mom’s blog post and immediately I can see that I am not alone in this daily struggle to make sure my children go forward and not backward. At other times, just hearing about a new curriculum can give me hope that it might possibly be the one that will help us turn the corner! In any case, I hope that these posts inspire you with a breath of fresh air…

homeschool tipsLaura Grace Weldon gives us a new perspective on Respecting a Child’s Urge to Discover in her blog post about encouraging our children to discover on their own.

Dewey’s Tree House reminds us of some great time tested homeschooling “tools” in Tools of an Old Homeschool Mom: “Key to” Math and more.

Remember, You Are Not Alone! is a great post by the Read Aloud Dad… he encourages us to keep up the “good work” of reading to our children daily!

Here’s something that was fresh for me… Dorothy Sayers and the Lost Tools of Learning by Petticoat Government present a different perspective on how to compare the study of math and science at home to this book.

Sometimes we can see the “big picture” when we look at the pros and cons of something… The Drawbacks of Homeschooling is presented this week by Letters from Nebby.

How we teach affects how our children learn… The Thinking Mother encourages us to …Stop Telling Students, “Said is Dead.”

New Curriculum ideas are another great way to add some freshness to your homeschool. Just because it’s spring doesn’t mean you can’t start something new! In fact, that may be “just what the doctor ordered.”

Online Education for Kids submits a post delineating all the homeschool greats… in their post The Super Heroes of Elementary Homeschool Curriculum.

A great way to get a fresh perspective is to get outside! Gardening – Project Based Learning You Can Eat!  is a great blog post by the Time4Learning Community Blog to encourage you to do just that!

I love to look at making plans for next year and Homeschool vs. Public School encourages us to do so with their post Homeschool Plans for Next Year by giving us a glimpse of unschooling.

DenSchool provides much needed inspiration in her post about a March Homeschooler of the Month. You can read about this achievement and learn how to submit an entry for another Homeschooler of the Month award!

Fill Your Bookshelf has a great idea for a new unit study, read her post John James Audubon unit study and see if your family might like to try this!

homeschooling

Sometimes refreshment just has to come through taking a look at things that are bigger than ourselves and even our homeschool. Sometimes it just takes a word from a friend… I often realize that my struggles are very small in light of what so many others have to face. Getting a look at the “bigger pictures” often cures our frustration with the little things!

Proclaiming God’s Faithfulness really makes it plain on how we can “finish the race” well in their post, Don’t Be Blue; Strategies for Fighting the Winter Blues.

Katherine over at No Fighting No Biting helps us take a look at why we have an epidemic of underachieving boys and men who don’t want to grow up through her post Underachieving Boys.

Nerd Family Things presents a great post called 10 Math Card Games. It gives us 10 math card games to try with our kids.

I love a recipe for new things… In fact, craft recipes are such fun I know that whenever I pull one of those out –  my kids are usually thrilled!

Homemade Goodness sends us a post about Two Easy Homemade Glue Recipes that would work great for your next craft session with the kids… or if the wiggles get really bad… you could even use it to glue them to their chairs.

Sometimes we have to respond to negativity… Alasandra does this over at her blog Alasandra’s Homeschool Blog.

I’m so glad  that you stopped by, and I hope that this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling “filled your cup” and refreshed you today!

carnival of homeschooling

Next week the carnival of homeschooling will be hosted by Home Grown Mommy.

If you want to find out more about the Carnival of Homeschooling you can visit the link, submit a post, or even host – if you are brave enough!

Bubble Science for Preschoolers

Making bubbles uses a scientific process, and can be a simple way to introduce preschool children to scientific investigation and exploration. I love preschool science!

1)     Begin by making a bubble solution.

  1.  ¼ c liquid dish soap
  2. ½ c water
  3. 1 tsp sugar
  • Ask the children questions about how the solution feels and how it looks.
  • Have objects available to make bubbles with (chenille stems, six pack holders, funnels, open ended tin cans, plastic straws)
  • Ask preschoolers questions about which tools made the best bubbles
  • Touch a bubble with a wet finger and then touch one with a dry finger… what happens?
  • Write down your preschooler’s discoveries and talk about them later

2)     Sing Pop! Goes the Bubble ( to the tune of Pop! Goes the Weasel)

Soap and water can be mixed.

To make a bubble solution

Carefully blow,

Now, watch it go!

Pop! Goes the bubble!

3)     Make a favorite bubble gum chart. Use empty wrappers on the left side to represent the types and then draw bars for each vote from your preschool children.

4)     Make a bubbly beverage-

6 oz frozen OJ

6 oz frozen limeade

6 oz frozen lemonade

6 oz frozen pineapple

1L lemon-lime soda

1L club soda

5)     Take a bubble bath – don’t you love homeschooling?! :0)

4 Reading Rules to Boost Literacy

#1 Consistency

There are several different approaches to reading instruction. Yet, the most widely accepted and proven method to teach reading is through phonetic instruction. Even within phonics instruction some teachers begin with letter sounds, and add vowel blends moving to the right… others learn by word families such as “hit”, “bit”, “sit”, “wit”, and “kit.” The connection between these words are based on rhyming. Most new words we learn are decoded from words we know already and that rhyme. Once you’ve begun phonics instruction, it needs to be practiced daily. After they’ve gained a foundation, then introduce early readers to your children. Daily work with consistent rigor will yield success!

(If you are worried about just how to introduce phonics check out “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”, or “You can Teach Someone to Read” or use the website “Explode the Code.” My favorite early reader books are the Bob books, inexpensive, simple and easy to read. Don’t go for the expensive reading programs, you have everything you need in your local library and your computer.)

#2 SSR – Sustained silent reading

This is a well-known teacher strategy. The more a child reads silently and on their own the better they can read. Setting aside a specific amount of time each day for reading will grow a successful reader. You just might find that after you begin this, it will become a habit that your child will keep for life.

#3 Read for Understanding

Teaching you children to read for a purpose should be a primary objective. This should begin as early reading skills emerge. When a child reads his first sentence, understanding should occur. This should grow in to a process of analyzing and critical reading. There are several great books to help parents direct their children. “Critical conditioning” by K. Stout is great for exercises reinforcing these skills.

#4 Develop Expression and Love for Literature by Reading Aloud

A great way to hook you children on classic literature is to read aloud to them. Find a great story that they otherwise would not choose to read, and read it aloud to them. Another read aloud benefit is to have them read aloud to you. This develops expression and opens them up to dramatic reading opportunities.

Don’t let your children settle for poorly written literary works. Always encourage them to vary the genres that they enjoy, and challenge them to explore the classics.

A good reader is a good learner!

The Power of Praise

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

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

Homeschool Peer Tutoring

I know some of you are probably wondering what I mean. Peer tutoring can be a very beneficial way of keeping your children on task or even getting them caught up. Most of the time, homeschool peer tutoring is free. You know… older siblings helping the younger ones.

Using peer tutoring is a great way to keep things flowing and children on task when their are several young students homeschooling at once.

A great way to integrate this into your homeschool is to establish a contract of sorts with the older child that you want to be the tutor. Arrange some form of compensation for them. Whether it’s a credit for a certain chore around the house, or a free day every now and then,it will make a big difference for the older student to feel as if they are benefitting in some way. Then discuss it with the younger child as well, and lay down the ground rules. Then finally, schedule it into your weekly/daily plan.

Incorporating Christmas into Your Homeschool Lessons

this time of year can turn a homeschool mom into a grump… or into a holiday cheer-meister. How can we turn the christmas chaos into homeschool “holiday whoo-be-whatty?”

A great idea to achieve this is to introduce a holiday unit study to your homeschool young- ins. You don’t have to stop learning, or stop with your skill building lessons. Just put a bit of sparkle into everything else with a Christmas unit study. Here are a few suggestions.

1) Study the Christmas traditions from countries around the world.

2) Use books from the library for history and even reading assignments

3) Make writing assignments that incorporate these traditions

4) Use famous christmas quotes or Bible passages as penmanship copy work.

5) Make a map that marks the countries that you’ve studied

6) Put bits of information about these various holdiay traditions into your christmas cards!

Bustin’ Burnout Blues

Yes, stay at home moms, working homeschool moms, and even homeschooling dads can face burnout. Is there a way to keep ourselves intact before we become a casualty? Sure there are great ways… stick around and we’ll talk about a few!

1)Delegating is a great way to find the help you need! If things are causing you to feel overwhelmed ask for help from your husband or older children. You can apply this to every aspect of your home life – from homeschooling to laundry. If you have trouble getting the kids to get on the ball, give them an incentive. Assign chores, yet reward them if they do their jobs!

2) Teach your children how to learn on their own. Some parents think if they don’t sit with their child all day every day and teach them everything they need to know… they won’t learn it. Truthfully, those parents are doing their children a world of hurt. They are not teaching them how to be self-sufficient. If you can encourage your children to be independent learners, they will always be able to do school – even if you are not able to be around. This is also a gift that will serve them well once they arrive at college.

3) Find a parent homeschooling support group. There are homeschool groups throughout the country, and supportive parents that go with almost every one. If perchance you are far from a group, get online. There are tons of great homeschool groups within the touch of a button.

4)Take a field trip… sometimes the best thing you can do for the day is to just take a break! Go somewhere and explore and enjoy yourselves!

5) Use a homeschool co – op… you can find a co – op that teaches certain subjects that your children need this year. If it has become overwhelming, you can delegate some of your teaching authority to the co op teacher. Yet, typically with a co-op mothers who aren’t teaching must contribute somehow to the group. Keep this in mind…