Back to School?

Is it really time for school… again?

Back to School?Okay – I have to admit that I look forward to vacation breaks from school just as much as the children do.  I have always looked forward to the breaks – even when I was a teacher.  I can remember feeling almost giddy after sending home all those wild first graders on the last day of school.  I have relished every moment of this summer vacation. Well, today it hit me – –  time is almost up.  I know, I really don’t want to remind myself.  Yet, in the back of my mind I have purposed that in this new year we will get a new start and hopefully a better go at things.

I am proud of the distance that the children have come in the last year, but know that we have gotten slack in some areas.  I guess my new  resolution would be to improve the “slack” areas, make sure Chloe really “gets” her multiplication tables, help Jordan get over the hump in Algebra I, show Slater how to write a research paper for the first time, and go on MORE field trips. I don’t know – maybe I shouldn’t make it such a tall order, but I have always been one for making big goals.

The new year is always a great time for a fresh start, especially when things seem to be too difficult to manage.  Homeschooling is no different. So often, by the end of summer, we feel like we are being dragged in to work.  I am sure that many of you feel the same way. Well, take heart! Look at the new year as an opportunity – a new book with no writing – – yet!  Start over – do whatever it takes to renew your outlook and encourage yourself and the children.  In other years I have been so discouraged with how the curriculum went that I completely changed what we were doing.  If you are feeling desperate – do something drastic.  I have found that a drastic change really perks the kids up too!

Personally, this past year went pretty well so for us so we will just tweak our program a bit and perhaps change our schedule.  Just a little “new” makes it more exciting to the children as well. I look forward to the fresh start – and new outlook.  Wherever you are on your homeschooling  journey – take advantage of the new beginning. It may make all the difference in the world, and by the way Monday morning will be here before we know it!

Where’s Your Summer Bucket List?

Summer Bucket List How to!I know we’ve heard a lot about bucket lists… but you’ve got to admit kids love making them. It’s almost like a wish list for doing things with your family and you can’t get much better than that! We’re suggesting you use the bucket list as a summertime way to get your kiddos writing and thinking. Here are ideas for making that creative bucket list for summer learning fun!

  1. Start by making the bucket list a way to have your kiddos use their writing and language skills. (sneaking it in!)
  2. Have some paper and colorful markers or pencils and stickers. (It’s gotta be fun!)
  3. Start by giving them 3 different sheets of paper. Tell them to make a list of crafts or things to do at home (watercolor, make cards), things to do away from home (feed the ducks), and places to visit (the kid’s museum in the next town over). Encourage them to make it as realistic as possible.
  4. Once they’ve made their 3 lists, have them review it and make sure it’s all things that mom and dad would actually do. Then have them compile their list onto one sheet with check boxes beside each item.
  5. Once they finish, have them decorate their bucket list!

For more bucket list ideas visit this cool collection of summer bucket lists.

Play fun summer vocabulary games!

Superheroes come in all sizes

Superheroes come in all sizes!

We all know how much children love super heroes. They are symbols of strength, justice, and good in an otherwise decrepit world. Superheroes can be much more than just a cartoon or a movie. Since superheroes are an awesome motivational tool why not use them to get your kiddos learning? Here’s a collection of some of our favorite superhero resources.

How Superheroes can inspire student to write

Superhero Writing

 

 

 

 

Be A Superhero with Spelling City Games

Game List

 

 

 

 

You Don’t Always Have to Be A Superhero

No Superhero Moms

 

 

 

 

 

Superheros Myths

Play Learning Games to Be a Smart Superhero

 

3 Things You Can’t Miss This Summer

3 Things You Can't Miss this Summer!For a long time summer learning was associated with punishment. Those who didn’t do well in school had to attend. But, today the education community at large is realizing that summer learning is far from a punishment but more of a necessity.

Research over the past 100 years proves the fact that summer slide exists and typically takes approximately 2 months of math skills and for lower income students 2 months of reading skills from their overall achievement. This in turn causes the teacher or parent to do a review every fall.  What if we changed that up and did something to keep from sliding at all?

What if I told you it only took about 30 minutes a day 5 days a week to keep away that “summer slide?” It’s true, that’s all it takes…and finding a few no cost ways to do it is like icing on the cake!

  1. Read.Read. READ. Most research suggests 6 books read during the summer will keep a struggling reader from falling behind. Remember not too hard and not too easy.
  2. Read ever day. Do something at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  3. Review what your student is reading each day to help them process and understand.

Sometimes, our kiddos need a little more than reading to maintain or catch up to where they need to be. We’ve found that summer is a great time to give specific attention to bridge gaps that have been widening during the course of the year. Whether you’ve been struggling with kindergarten math or need some help with standardized test practice for 8th grade or just a general drill and practice summer’s a great time to take care of it!

How to Train for Independence

How to Train for IndependenceWhen I started out on the parenting journey over 2o years ago, I didn’t realize that my goal would be to train my children for independence. Now that my oldest is about to get married, I’m a little sad that I did such a good job.

Why Train for Independence?

As a young mother desiring my children to learn independence seemed like the natural thing to do. I couldn’t do everything for them all the time, so to keep my sanity I began to teach them. I really didn’t realize at first what I was doing. I was just trying to survive. So, I taught my 4 year old how to operate the microwave, wash dishes, and carry laundry to the laundry room.  It seemed to work well… she was able to do far above what I expected from her and actually thought it was great fun to work like mommy. Boy, I had stumbled onto something!

Fast forward a few years, and jump into our homeschool life of learning with 6 children. It was hard for me to be there every minute trying to teach in the traditional style. (I learned real quick that didn’t work with 5 different grade levels.)  I had to once again teach my children to be independent in their approach to learning. It worked great. Many years ago I began to print out a weekly check sheet for each of my children. On the check sheet were all the things that were required of them each day. They simply had to do it, and check it off. No need for mom to holler, or get frustrated (unless they just ignored the check sheet – which happens sometimes!)

Each child had an individual set of assignments that they completed each day. Still today they have online lessons, but complete their other work independently unless they have questions about the material or particular problems. Independence!!

We are now in the process of building a house. With six children, there are alot of things that they can help with. Again, we come to the foundational idea of teaching them “how” to do something which in turn will enable to them to work independently now and in the future.

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime. Chinese Proverb

How to Train for Independence

  1. Teach your child HOW to do the desired task.
  2. Expect more from them than you think they can do… and they’ll surprise you!
  3. Treat them with respect and encourage them to think and act independently.
  4. Make sure to give them plenty of love!!
Beauty and the Beast Learning Ideas

Beauty and the Beast Learning Resources

There has been a lot of hype about the Beauty and the Beast Movie, both for and against. Yet, with or without this new movie, the “Beauty and the Beast” story line is one that spans the ages. It’s an age old classic that has not lost it’s appeal… movie or not… it’s a good story and one that our kiddos enjoy! The original story was written in 1740 by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. It was rather lengthy, so it was abridged by Beaumont in 1756 and later by Andrew Lang in 1889. These latest versions most closely represents today’s story line.

An interesting twist is that some believe the story was inspired by a man in the 1500’s named Pedro Gonzalez. He had a condition called hypertrichosis which causes an unusual amount of facial hair to grow. He was brought to royal courts across Europe as a novelty and ended up marrying a Lady. Interestingly enough, many of his children also inherited his condition.

 

 

Up for a challenge? Read the original version translated to English. 

 

 

Ready to incorporate this into your regular learning? Try this Beauty and the Beast Writing Unit.

Beauty and the Beast Writing Unit

Looking for a writing prompt and spelling list to go with your book study? Homeschool Literature has a Beauty and the Beast Interactive Book Review with both of those.

Finally, if you love those fairy tale endings and want more books that are similar to Beauty and the Beast, here’s a great list of Beauty and the Beast Inspired Books you’ll love.

Beauty & the Beast Book List

 

Get Techy with these 10 tools!

techtoolsDo you ever feel like a disk with out a drive when it comes to technology in your homeschool? Well, you shouldn’t worry about it. There are loads, and I mean. LOADS. of easy to use techy based apps and programs that will help your teaching and learn grow exponentially.

  1. Heads up– yeah the game. It’s super fun and easy to play… but did you know that it increases vocabulary? Sure – the idea is to use descriptive words to lead someone to say the “answer word.”
  2. Schoology – this is a free program that you can access on your PC. It is super helpful with putting together a course from a text, a pdf, an e-book, youtube videos, or even Khan academy. Great if you’ve got free resources you want to organize into something more cohesive. You can even add your tests and it will score them online! YAY!
  3. Kahoot – this allows you to create and share learning games for any subject!
  4. Padlet – great app that allows you to create a “scrapbook” of things that you need to remember or organize. Super tool for the homeschooling mom!
  5. Edpuzzle – you can use videos to teach your kids, but add a quiz or even your audio throughout the video. This means that as they are learning with the video you can track their progress with a quick check up quiz.
  6. Flippity.net – this is too cool for the homeschooler – you can easily take a google spreadsheet and turn it into flashcards, mad libs, spelling tracker – – lots of options!!
  7. Glogster – this lets you create multimedia posters. I can think of a lot of uses where the kids could use this as a reporting/project based learning.
  8. Mentor Mob this is somewhat like skillshare – where everyone shares “how to’s” with each other. You can learn alot of stuff on this site!!
  9. Explain Everything – interactive whiteboard
  10. Screen castify – this is perfect for using your own computer to teach something. Screencastify basically records what is happening on your own screen. Great for teaching a techy subject or a how to on a specific program.

…and just for a bonus you’ve got to try popplet! A super fun way to take notes, brainstorm, or study!

The Best in Summer Learning

The BestinSummer LearningUnfortunately our brains don’t stop once summer hits. Yet, who wants to work hard at learning – especially when there are so many fun things to do? Well, to be honest… I don’t. I’d rather sit by the pool and enjoy my summer… but I know… I know… we can’t let our brains (or our kid’s brains) atrophy. BUT – we gotta do it without stress.

Here are our favorite no -stress summer learning ideas!

  1. Need inspiration for learning – go to the king of inspiration – Pinterest!
  2. Find some great summer reading for middle schoolers and elementary age kiddos here!
  3. Choose an online summer school alternative!
  4. Bring a writing teacher along on your summer vacation!
  5. Get your kids hooked on a summer science program!
  6. Find great summer ideas for your homeschool highschooler.
  7. Have a garden? Use it as a learning tool – summer learning in the garden.
  8. How about a whole pinterest board on great books for summer reading?
  9. If “free” is your thing – check out free summer ideas for kids.
  10. Or – just break down and allow them to play computer games – but don’t tell them they’re learning games!

Getting “Out of the Box”

Education in America is compartmentalized, regulated, standardized, and even (I feel) dehumanized. When I hear the words public education, I almost cringe. In the context of public or government education it conjures up images in my mind of our teachers putting children into labeled boxes. Predetermining for them what they are and how they will succeed. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some great teachers in the public school system… my own sister is one of them… but just because the teacher is good – doesn’t mean that the system is.

If American public education is packaging our children into tidy little boxes…then what is homeschooling doing? My thoughts are this… homeschooling is the banner cry for freedom within education circles. Children over the past few decades that have been homeschooled have gone on to prove this point. Homeschool statistics demonstrate that it works! Childhood learning – with all of its amazing intricacies – can be experienced to its fullest within the freedom of homeschooling. The opportunity to educate your child the way that you deem appropriate and according to your own personal beliefs and preferences is the epitome of freedom… this isn’t home school fiction… this is the real thing!

If your child just hasn’t fit into the box of government education… it just may be time to give homeschooling a try – and get “out of the box!!”

It’s January… thumbs up or down?

Yep, here I go stating the obvious again. I am curious though, is January going well? or is it a serious thumbs down time?

As home school moms, we all know January can go either way. I usually try to end the previous year with some down time, hoping against hope that it will renew my outlook and refresh my attitude toward my children and homeschooling. It’s tough though, it’s the middle of the year and there are a lot of issues that could get me down. Most often I’m beating myself up about not accomplishing everything that I had wanted to accomplish thus far, and that always gets me down. Over the years, I’ve tried to manage these struggles because as sure as it will rain – these struggles do come. There are a few simple things that I do that tend to help me combat those “thumbs down” times.

  1. You home school, you are the teacher and principal… a lot depends on you. No one else is going to make sure that you are ok… so YOU make sure. Take time off. No you don’t HAVE to get that project done this week, and believe it or not you can even cancel those extra music and art lessons.
  2. Do something that heals your heart. It’s different for everyone. Sometimes reading a book will help me, sometimes I need to pray, and sometimes I need to go away for a day or two. Sometimes just going to the mall alone or with a best friend will work wonders. Whatever your happy spot is, take a day or two to relish in it and allow it to feed your soul. Mom, you cannot help your children or your spouse if you are empty.
  3. Take a day to rearrange your school room. Change always brightens my perspective. I always think better in a neat and organized environment. So, I take a day or two to empty out, clean, and refit our schooling area. This really works wonders on my psyche. I find myself with my interest piqued once again, and ready to dive in.
  4. Take a day to enjoy your children without “requirements” or “being the teacher.” I know we, as parents, never truly get the day off… but take some time to just enjoy them…their smile, their laughter, their silliness… It just might be catching!
  5. Review the things that require your attention and time. Take a fresh look at your schedule. Is there anything that you really don’t need in your life? Cross it off… is there negativity that just brings you down? Cross it off. Surround yourself with things that encourage and motivate you. (Of course, we all know that life hits… and it just happens. But, the regular unnecessary negativity that we CAN do without – do without!)