Are You on the Fence about Homeschooling?

Is your child not performing up to your expectations? Are you dissatisfied with the level of education that your child is receiving? Do you just need a change? Are you considering homeschooling? Whatever your reasons… homeschooling is an outstanding alternative. There are so many options and so many ways to homeschool that homeschooling is now easier to do than ever.

Just like anything, there are pros and cons of homeschooling. We listed below a few just to help you get a better picture…

Pros

1. Homeschooling is flexible.  If you travel, it can go with you. If you love the outdoors, homeschooling can be done outside.

2. It meets the varying needs of the child, as well as the needs of the family.

3. It allows you to spend more time with your children.

4. It keeps your children away from much of the “peer pressure” influences.

5. It gives your child freedom to pursue studies that follow their strengths and their passions.

6. It allows your child to learn while feeling secure and confident.

7. It promotes the family in every way.

8. There are homeschooling options out there to fit almost every type of family and every different child.

Cons

1. It can be difficult for parents who work.

2. It can be a challenge for parents who don’t know how to teach. Yet, there are great curriculum out there that make allowances for this through DVD and online presentation.

3. The cost is all out of pocket.

4. There can be a bit of a learning curve. Getting to know what your children need, and how they learn best is the key.

Using the Performance Assessment

 

Making children learn facts for rote memory testing is simply a waste of time. I know thats a pretty bold statement, but really if children are learning and memorizing facts to just regurgitate them on a test they will not retain those facts for long. However, if a child is allowed to experience, manipulate, discover, and draw conclusions the information related to those facts will remain in their memories much longer. Take spelling lists for example, my children will not remember even popular word lists for long if they don’t use the words in practical applications.

One of the best ways to assess a child’s learning is through performance assessments. In a performance assessment children demonstrate their proficiency through a project, an online exhibit, a science fair, an oral presentation…etc. The performance assessment allows the student to show you what they have learning in real world context situations. Reliance on paper pencil tests should be limited and balanced with other methods of assessment. Homeschooling is a great setting to take advantage of performance assessment.

Learning with Special Needs

Homeschooling and the special needs child are an awesome combination that gives freedom to the child to learn and study in his or her unique way. Children challenged in a vareity of ways have seen success through homeschooling.

Research has shown that children with speical needs who homeschool spedn more time son task and have greater achievement than their schooled peers.

Every child given one-on-one instruction time and an individualized program of study will show greater improvement and achievement. Children with special needs can vary greatly, from highly intensive care to simple adjustments to how you teach. Yet, with each of the labels and multiple meaning words involved in diagnosing a child with learning disabilities the child should remain the focus. Not all children will exhibit all symptoms of a particular disorder. Get to know your child and how they tick. The child should always be the focus of the homeschool… not the disorder or disability.

Here are a few homeschool resources to help you teach your special needs child:

1) Parents should be cautious about signing the doctors papers regarding the diagnosis of their child. Often this paperwork will include requirements regardin the education of special needs children.

2) Parents should be dilligent to thoroughly research their child’s disability. If possible find out everything you can and the best way to educate a child with these particular needs.

3) Parents should join a network of others with similar situations. If you can get your whole family plugged in to other families that share a similar journey, it will be a great encouragement and inspiration.

Learning Challenges… just stepping stones!

I have six children, and each one is so different from the other. Two are self motivated, two are very visual learners… and two are undecided! 🙂  The two who are visual learners are very difficult to teach. We have a hard time with any type of listening skill. Read alouds are difficult with them, and I have had to find creative ways to build their listening skills. Yet, being creative and using alternative methods is a great way to learn new ways to teach. We have also found that though these two children are in need  of special education, they have areas that they are very strong in.

We have learned that if we use a highly visual and interactive method of learning, they engage and stay on task throughout their assignment. However, if they are left with simple verbal commands you may as well forget it! Learning the ins and outs of the “different” way they approach a subject is exciting and often feels like I am solving a puzzle.  With each bit of progress we make finding new ways to teach them that work, it makes educating them that much easier.

If your child has difficulty learning in certain ways, don’t despair – go at it another way! The best may be just around the corner!

Schooling out of the box…

What exactly does unschooling mean?

A term that is often defined by the user… unschooling is a method of homeschooling that essentially promotes the education of children in the most natural and student directed method possible. Each homeschooling family may define that in different ways, yet that is the beauty of homeschooling.

A common view between most homeschoolers that “unschool” their children is that this method promotes interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic, or self-directed learning. This can be accomplished in a myriad of ways, methods, and styles. From determined homeschoolers to accidental homeschoolers – unschooling can be a very motivating way to homeschool.

Even with unschooling the parents still must maintain goals and keep records. Though education should be taking place in a more natural real life situation, there should be a goal of reaching a set achievement each year. As with everything in life, if we have no goals… we will surely reach them… and accomplish nothing.

Starting Fresh in the New Year

At our house, we have had a big struggle with math over the past semester.  I have always been very careful to keep my children close to grade level or above… but for my oldest, Algebra did not come easy.  (This was hard for me to accept, both her daddy and I are math lovers 😉 …)  Yet, we kept at it and she has now finished Algebra I.  We decided since we are running a little late, that we would go ahead into Algebra II. The ending concepts of Algebra I are some of the beginning concepts of Algebra II.  She has already been introduced to most of the concepts in the first several weeks of Algebra II. I am hoping that this will lesson the anxiety and start her off on the right foot.

I am trying to develop some interesting alternative means of study for her as well.  It really is more difficult to do this with older children.  Math learning games are almost non-existent for Algebra II concepts, which is really sad because high school students (though they may not want to admit it) still like to play games. As I go through this course with her, I plan to incorporate different math curriculum, as well as other external resources to hopefully help her grasp this Algebra better than the one before.

Have any methods that you have used successfully to help your struggling math learner? Please share…

Special Education and Disabilities

I have been thinking alot lately about special education and children with learning disabilities. It is a whole entirely different world for them.  Education itself for these precious ones, must be presented in a different manner. Life even must be approached in a different way.

 I am seeing this close up…I have a very precious friend who is going through a tough time with her child.  She has known for a while that he is a bit different from other children, but has just tried to work through the difficulties as they came.  Yet, recently she took her son to their pediatrician and voiced her concerns. The pediatrician now wants him tested for Autism or possibly Asperger’s.  She is so concerned about what to do next, and how to handle things.  I want so desperately to help her, but just really don’t know how.

I know that there are alot of homeschoolers with children who have these disabilities.  I also know that there are alot of success stories for these wonderful little people. If you have any suggestions or advice on how I can help support my friend through this time, please share!

Let your voice be heard…

 

Have you ever tried Time4Learning? I am sure that those of you who read my posts have noticed that our family uses Time4Learning as a supplemental curriculum.  We enjoy the interactive computer based learning and the fact that most of it is just pretty fun!!  The kids love doing T4L and I am happy that they love learning this way.  For such a comprehensive, well designed curriculum, the price is quite nominal, but they have a really great trial offer… just thought that I would share it with you. 

First, you can try their program for a free month… all you have to do is submit a curriculum review at the end of the month.

Second, you can submit a review if you are already a member and recieve $25 for your first review.

Time4Learning wants to know how they measure up in the eyes of the parents and students that use the program.  In fact, they love to hear from us. 

That isn’t all – Time4Learning wants to help homeschool parents succeed, so they have developed a great online parent community.  This forum is free even if you don’t use Time4Learning.  You can access this forum 24/7 and get encouragement from other moms and dads that are in similar situations. In fact, most of the people on the T4L parent forum begin to feel like family.  It’s a great place to find answers, ask questions, find encouragement, and even encourage others.  It was in this forum that I learned how to deal better with my daughter who has a learning disability.  I was extrememly frustrated and didn’t understand how she could do some of the things she was doing… several people in the parent forum have chidlren with a similar disability, and were able to answer my questions and give me much encouragement!!  Great stuff… you gotta give it a try!

A Love/Hate Relationship

Language arts and math are the core of the core subjects, and the two subjects that present the greatest challenges to most students. In that respect, language arts most often presents a love/hate relationship to most people. They either love it and the English language’s impossible grammar, or they hate it. Yet, I wonder – is there a way to make all learners enjoy language arts?

With the broad range of inifinte learning style possibilities, there is not too great a chance that we will ever find a cure all for the hatred of language arts, but in the meantime I think we can improve the general opinion. 

Language arts tends to be a “dry” subject.  The general study of spelling words, grammar, syntax, and parts of speech just dosen’t lend much excitement.  However, coupled with a great reading curriculum,  excitement can be drawn into the “drier” side of language arts.  Yet, there are still other ways to bring excitement into the “hated” side of language arts. 

When I teach Language Arts,  I definitely steer towards a more interesting approach to teaching this subject, don’t stick with a plain “text only” approach.  Mix it up – make it exciting – you will see a BIG difference in how children respond. We like to use as many language arts games as possible such as compound word games.  Make spelling interesting by using games to teach the words. I have mentioned Spelling City in previous posts, but it really does make a difference. Children’s outlook on spelling has changed across the country in public schools and home schools because this program uses games to practice and quiz the student. Don’t limit your creativity – if you can think of something to make it exciting – try it!  Children respond to someone who seems to enjoy what they are teaching – and they assimilate that excitement.  They see you excited about your subject matter, and they get excited… it’s contagious.

Have you visited your home planet lately???

Have you ever wondered where your children are when they have that glazed-over blank daydreamy stare? Everytime I see that look – which is often – I wish I could go where they are and invite them politely back to our world. In our family, we lovingly refer to this place as our “own planet.”

I have one particular child that visits her own planet many times a day. She is a sweet little thing that loves art, crafts and being creative. But, whoa, when we pull out the science book or history text…. off she goes – back to her own planet. I was really beginning to get a complex about my teaching skills! I kept asking myself – what can I do?? Besides standing on my head, I was out of ideas.

         I must admit, I went about finding my answers in a formal way. I actually sat down and “researched” what I needed to do for her. I guess I have been going to school for too long – that is the only way I know how to find answers! Anyway, I cam up with a myriad of possibilities to try for her. But most important, I figured through what I knew about her – she was probably a “right brain” learner. She had to have that strong visual stimulation to keep her on task. She needed pictures, examples, hands on activities, just MORE visual stimulation.

        So, I began to adapt what we did and how I taught her. We switched to a very hands on method for learning. We incorporated the use of lap books, and journaling. All of this seemed to really help. Yet, there were still many times that I would catch her on her “own planet” again!

         I know some of you may be thinking – what is wrong with little daydreaming – we all do it! Yes, I agree wholeheartedly… look at my earlier post. But the difference here is that her cognitive processes completely shut off when she daydreams. My personal daydreaming experience did not do that to me – I was still able to know and understand what was going on around me. She has no recollection of what was said or who said it, etc.  Because of this,  I still felt I needed more visual stimulation to keep her from that state – at least while she was trying to learn.

       My revelation finally came one day when I noticed that she had spent over an hour consistently interested in an educational computer game. This was it!! A type of high interest activity that caused learning at the samet ime. We purchased several really great pieces of educational software and finally saw a means of learning for her that kept her interest peaked. We saw much progress for her during this time.

        This was a breakthrough for us, but there were still some gaps. We were concerned that what she was learning might not be meeting all the suggested standards for her age and grade level. Also parent reports were difficult to develop. We eventually subscribed to an online program of learning to consistently move her forward. We felt this would also help us know where she was at for her grade level and age. Since, changing to the online method of education – we are reassured that she is interested and learning in a way that she enjoys. Definitely a “no tears” alternative! This move has been a jump in the right direction, and a great move toward keeping our little girl right here on earth…well, at least while she is trying to learn!!!!

If you have a child that has similar tendencies, check out this page for more information and answers regarding right brain learners.