Online Education For Kids

…where homeschooling and learning is fun!

   Oct 10

What is the Common Core about anyway?

The Common Core State Standards is definitely the education buzzword these days, and with good reason. Even homeschoolers, of which I am proud to be, are concerned about the long term affects it will have on our freedoms to educate. Though many people look at common core as a way to get everyone on the same page with learning… others ( mostly our government) look at it as another way to control what happens across our country. A perfect example of good intentions gone awry – or maybe it is simply a bad intention cloaked in a “good” cover.

As a classroom teacher, I realize that fundamentally the common core just can’t work. There is no way that someone in Washington can determine what Susie needs in my 1st grade classroom even if it is 1st grade online curriculum. The power to decide how a child is educated must remain with the parent and those that are local. Whose child is it? Definitely not the US government’s child. It is my child and I should always have the right to decide just how he/she is educated.

How did the Common Core get started?

The idea began in 2008 with the National Governor’s Association. Soon after NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officials began accepting grants to develop the CCSS. In 2009 and 2010 Race to the Top funding is set aside for schools that adopt the Common Core State Standards. (HMMM… this looks like a bribe to me???)

Is the Common Core already in effect?

Each state is different but initially there were 45 states that adopted the CCSS. However, once these standards went into implementation states began to see the major flaws and issues surround the standards. Many of these states have now backed up and decided not to adopt the standards.

The Federal Government’s Involvement?

Technically there are three sets of laws that prohibit our Federal Government from delineating state education requirements. Yet, our government went out of its way to promote the standards by: setting conditions on grants that make them contingent on implementation of the CCSS, offering waivers for the most difficult parts of the No Child Left Behind Act if states began implementing CCSS, and awarded millions of dollars to the state consortia to craft assessments for CCSS.

Does centralized education work?

The US has spent billions of dollars over the past decades to improve our educational system. However, with all the money involved, we still have only seen a marginal increase. Financially, a very poor investment. However, in Finland the educational system ranks nearly the highest on earth and their government has increasingly DEcentralized education. Taking Finland’s example would not only save us money – but make education better for everyone in the long run!

How will CCSS affect homeschoolers?

As the federal government gains increasing power of the educational decisions of our nation, I believe that this will carry over into homeschooling as well. There is supposed to be a nationwide educational database that will be formed as the states implement CCSS. This database would give information regarding every child that is educated. The other aspect that will affect homeschoolers is the alteration of the assessment instruments. Homeschoolers still take the same standardized assessments that their public school peers take to enter college. These tests are actually changing this year, so we will see soon enough.

So, what’s your opinion of the CCSS? Do you think it will impact your homeschooling efforts?


   Sep 04

Homeschool Scheduling Variations

I know one of my major concerns in homeschooling is that we break up the monotony. Sometimes, doing the same thing over and over or having the same schedule year after year – really makes for a BORING day. I appreciate change and I believe that my children do as well. Here are a few variations on daily scheduling that might be an encouragement to your homeschool.

First of all the best schedules for learning are based on your student’s needs. If you have a particular need – more time for math – or more time to do fine arts – make that your priority in creating your schedule.

1) Typical schedule – Many people use this type of schedule regularly. This is a good method, and you can get creative with this type of schedule. You can rearrange it – or create it with fun classes in between the heavy serious classes. This is great for the fourth grade online curriculum level. You can schedule your online classes then intersperse art, music, or PE between computer times to get the kiddos moving!

2) Block Scheduling is another creative way to adapt the schedule. This is when you take a particular subject or subjects and focus on them for a set amount of time. Then you move to another focus block. For example, you could teach History, Geography, Foreign Language, and Grammar/Writing for the first 9 weeks of school. This could also be accomplished with a daily schedule of four 90 minute sessions. The second nine weeks you could teach Math, Reading, Literature, and Science. Some people love this method – others feel that it leaves to much rest time from the subject and students begin to forget.

3) Block schedule variation – Another way to use the block schedule method could be adapted by having Language Arts  for 90-105 minutes each day, and then science/math alternate days with 90-105 minutes, and then scheduling your other courses like history, art, etc. at 50 minutes each.

4) Alternate block scheduling – Divide your courses into 8 blocks. Students do four the first day and the other four the second day. In the course of two days students will cover their “block.”

5) A four day week is a method that can really help busy families or families that have music, athletic, or art lessons each week. You would simply spend a bit more time schooling each of the four days that you are in school. Doing an extra lesson throughout the course of the week.


   Aug 07

5 Tips for HighSchool Career Exploration

Success Sign Stock ImageI know homeschooling is amazing… all these years learning together with our children. Yet, in the back of our minds we know that all good things must come to an end. We see these beautiful little people growing into awkward pre teens, and then blossoming into amazing adults. What in the world do we do now? Well, homeschooling highschool is just as exciting as homeschooling the little ones. Though it presents a totally different set of challenges, it is something that each of us can do!

One of the biggest challenges in homeschooling a highschool student is that of directing them and encouraging them to find a career or life work that plays to their strengths, interests, and passions. The best way to really really prepare them is to encourage them in middle school. Using seventh grade online curriculum to prepare for highschool career centered courses can give them the preparation they need. As adults we all know that getting stuck in a job that we hate can be the worst “life sucking” experience that we ever have. Starting early on with tips on career exploration is the best way to help your child avoid falling into that disappointing job experience.

1) The first thing that I like to encourage my children to do is to understand why it is so important for them to choose a career that plays to their passions. At first my teens looked at me like I was crazy. Then I explained. If they LOVE doing something, and they are able to get paid for doing that… that equals job satisfaction. Of course, there are the other factors that play into making that job something they love… like a good boss, job perks, and colleagues that are kind and easy to work with.

2) The second important aspect of finding the right career is getting to know yourself. I usually have my teens write down at least ten things that they love to do, five subjects or topics that they are passionate about, and what they feel they actually “do” best.

3) I love to encourage my kiddos to sit down and take a few of those “career exploration” tests and quizzes. Though some of those online tests and quizzes aren’t all that statistically sound… taking several of them helps round out the margin of error and allows them to see if there is one specific career that keeps surfacing. Most likes that career is really one they should consider.

4) Once they have a career area in mind, it is time to do a little research. We usually get online and find out everything there is to know about that specific career. It’s beneficial to find out what educational requirements, job skills, and even actual demands that are placed on the individuals holding that career.

5) Finally, if that specific career requires college or vocational training… now is the time to start preparing for it. During your student’s high school career make sure that they take the courses needed to prepare them for that training. It is also a great time to find a place where they could volunteer to get a realistic “feel” for the career they have in mind.


   Jul 16

10 Reasons Why Homeschooling is Exploding!

homeschoolAs a parent of six children, I truthfully cannot imagine our life without homeschooling. Yes, I know just from those few words I fit the “norm” of the weird – unsocialized- homeschool mom. For many that has been the big dividing line for homeschoolers – the opinion that others have of them. Which often these opinions aren’t based on any facts. Yet, in reality homeschooling is becoming more and more popular. People are turning to homeschooling by the hundreds, and the homeschool statistics are still rising. There are millions in America today that claim homeschooling as the method of educating their children, I believe that the following reasons have a direct correlation to this trend!

1) Desire for a safe school environment. (27% of homeschoolers cite this as their reason to homeschool)

2) Moral and religious reasons. The moral fabric of our nation is undoubtedly deteriorating and our children are the most susceptible.  The homeschool movement was greatly propelled by this reason to homeschool, and still to this day the statistics reveal that 78% of homeschool parents attend church regularly. (21%)

3)Dissatisfaction with academic instruction (19%)

4) People who move around alot, or who travel extensively –  this includes the military. I’ve been surprised to see just how many military families have chose homeschooling!

5) Health issues are often another motivating reason to homeschool.

6) Freedom to learn at one’s own pace- or to provide a non-traditional form of education. (5%)

7) Special education and the ability to educate without stigma. (5%)

8) Financial reasons

9) A desire to have more family time.

10) For all of the above reasons!


   Jul 09

Summer Field Trips = Learning

field tripsDon’t you just love the summer time? I sure do! I enjoy the freedom we have to do a little more “sight seeing.” In fact, each year we make it a goal that we see something new and interesting. Often, these events are historically based. This can really come in handy for the homeschool family. You see, you can always count days that are spent on field trips as learning days. To make the most of your experience try these three tips.

1)Prepare the kiddos in advance. If it is some pretty significant place you might want to take a little time before you visit to read some books about the history behind that location. You may also want to use it as a springboard for a unit study. You can have loads of fun creating free wordsearch puzzles and even unscramble games.

2) Take your time while you are there. If you see things that you studied about – be sure to point out their significance. Ask your kiddos questions, and allow them to take it all in at their own pace.

3) Finally, when you return home take a day to remember the amazing things that you saw. It’s always great to use these events as creative writing prompts. My kids always write profusely when we return from field trips.


   Jul 03

The Rising Tide of ADD/ADHD

growth of ADDHas it ever seemed odd to you that ADD and ADHD counts have risen dramatically over the past two decades? Can anyone explain why? We have known about ADD and ADHD for a long time, yet it has now become an epidemic. I personally see an issue in two areas.

1) ADD/ADHD is intrinsically becoming more prevalent due to the increased use of television and video games. Children are used to a constant stream of high interest information flying at them, and then when a lone teacher begins a discourse about homeschool science on the topic of  tree frogs… their mind can’t focus on the lesson let alone the vocabulary word. There aren’t any flashing lights or unbelievable sound effects when the teacher begins her lesson. Learning is competing against an unbeatable foe.

2) In 1991, the wording was changed in a bill allowing ADD/ADHD disabilities to be included in the funding for “special education” services. It was after this change that the rise in ADD/ADHD cases became overwhelming. Could it really be? Is it possible that we are labeling children incorrectly in order to receive more funding for our schools? Sadly, I would say it’s definitely possible, for some reason money speaks louder than anything. In fact, here is the article brief about those changes.

While I understand that there are truly children with these debilitating disabilities, I also believe that there are frequent  misdiagnoses. It is my heart’s desire to see our schools focus more on the needs of the individual instead of the overall budget. Don’t throw more money at these kids, give them more time/help!


   Jun 26

Using Vocabulary to Homeschool

One of my favorite methods to teach is through the use of Vocabulary. Now, I admit this could go wrong… very wrong if not done in the proper manner. However, using vocabulary to teach other subjects besides building language skills and reading vocabulary is not a common choice. Yet, the research does support the use of vocabulary to enrich and solidify instruction in other subjects.

Dr. David Chard, a consultant with Houghton Mifflin Math says, “While young students learn how to “do” math, they must also learn how to articulate what they are learning. Children must learn to recognize and answer why questions in order to develop problem solving skills. And for teachers to accurately assess student progress, children must first need to acquire the means of explaining how they solve problems as well as what concepts might not be clear to them.”

You see using vocabulary instruction for other subjects simply enriches and increases a student’s understanding and ability to communicate within that subject. In fact, at the Vocabulary Spelling City website, you will see not just vocabulary to increase literacy skills, but also vocabulary to assist in learning science and even math vocabulary.  Yet, I hope you realize that that isn’t all you can use vocabulary with. I love using vocabulary to polish and build foreign language skills, study social studies, and develop geography skills. So, the next time you start developing a homeschool unit of study – make sure you add vocabulary to your instruction. You might be surprised at how quickly your student’s start putting it all together!


   Jun 19

My opinion about Homeschool Learning

Forgive me… but today I just have something to say. I’ve been hearing so many “wonky” ideas on learning lately that I just have to put my opinion out there! So that is what today’s post is… my opinion.

Homeschool Learning takes on many forms from learning through vicarious experiences, online resources and even educational songs to texts, workbooks, and literature. From every aspect the homeschool learning process is amazingly flexible and resilient. There really is no limit to what you can do with education in your own home and done your own way.

The opponents of home school education will often downplay the positives focusing on things like socialization, political correctness, and religious education. Yet, the success of homeschooling I believe comes directly from what I mentioned above… it’s flexibility. You see, learning doesn’t take place in  a vacuum ( or classroom) as some people believe. Learning is organic and comes naturally in its most pure form. So, the natural learning that takes place in the process of homeschooling is essentially fulfilling each person’s innate desires to learn. Every person was created with a hunger to learn, how else can we explain the huge amount of information that is learned in the first few years of life. It’s the experiences that we have in life that altar that desire to learn, sometimes even snuffing it out.

In contrast, the simply homeschool life that encourages and appreciates learning the little things along with the big things is what makes our children life long learners… so there… my opinion.


   Jun 12

5 Steps to a Great Essay

Since I have a wide assortment of school age children, there is always one of them that needs writing help. Right now, it happens to be my Middle School aged kiddos. They are of an age that the essay should be second nature to them. In fact, this past year we spent a considerable amount of time learning a few basic pointers to nail down the art of writing essays. Here are my five favorite steps…

1) Brainstorm – depending on the breadth of the essay this may include research. However, if your essay assignment is rather extemporaneous you will not have time to do research and thus must pull from your pre acquired knowledge. Encourage the student to think about the topic. To remember any books/ classic movies they have read that support an argument for or against the topic. Take these examples and formulate them into an opinion or idea.

2) Thesis and outline- Write your thesis which is usually a sentence that summarizes the main point of your essay. The thesis will often contain your title, and the title is what will induce your readers to spend time on your essay. Once you have a thesis written down  - start a rough outline. The outline should include your introduction, main ideas (points), and conclusion.

3) Start your paper with an introduction that contains your thesis and main ideas. Make sure that it consists of at least three sentences and that it catches the reader’s attention. Move on to the body of the paper. Each main idea will have a corresponding body paragraph. Make sure that you start each paragraph with a topic sentence that restates the main idea. Finally, construct a concluding paragraph. In this paragraph you should restate your main ideas and your thesis and summarize your position.

4) Don’t forget to follow whichever style of writing your teacher/parent instructed. There are many different formats including MLA, APA, and Turabian.

5) Last but not least, make sure that you polish your work before turning it in. Read and reread your essay checking for spelling, syntax, and grammatical errors.

If you are still struggling with getting your kiddos to write cohesive essays why don’t you try online tutoring in writing?


   Jun 05

Why do You Homeschool?

So, yeah… this post is a little personal. So, let’s just have a chat…

I hope that you, my blog friends, will respond and give me a glimpse into what your motivation is to homeschool your children. For me, it’s several things. First and foremost, the freedom to teach my children the way that I feel they should be taught. That does encompass the fact that we are a Christian family and do believe that our country was founded on Christian beliefs and those historical and Biblical beliefs should continue to be propagated. Thus, we are doing our part to teach the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith as well as the historical foundations that our once great nation was founded upon. I believe that my children can be a part of changing our world and our nation for the better because we educate them in this manner.

Secondly, the fact that our American public schools are riddled with bullies, peer pressure, inferior academics, and substance abuse makes it repulsive to me to think of putting my precious children in such a place. I understand that there are still “grassy knolls” left out there. My own sister is a public school teacher and is free to teach “the old fashioned” way. Yet, those outstanding examples are few and far between.

Christian homeschoolers constitute a large portion of the general homeschooling population. In fact, Christians were historically the main population group to spearhead the homeschool movement. Today, we see a large movement toward homeschooling from all demographics and religions. Consequently, homeschooling is now the fastest growing form of education. Even the public schools are trying to monopolize on this trend through their online public school version of homeschooling.

It’s really quite amazing how homeschooling has grown and changed over the years… so back to my question… just why do you homeschool?