5 Methods of Homeschool Scheduling

I must admit that I am one of the people who believe whole heartedly that if you can organize it – it will work better. So, of course, that ideology flows over into my homeschooling methodology. With six kids, I have been made aware that without organization our homeschooling endeavor really doesn’t work out well.  I am always on the look out for better ways to organize  our homeschool. Whether it is physical organization or the organization of how we learn – I always NEED ideas! So, while on the hunt for these ideas I came across some really great ways to organize your homeschool schedule.

First of all here are two things to remember… these two things help me keep my sanity!

1) Set your start time – I know some people are unschoolers and this just doesn’t work for that method… but for us… it does! Having a start time gives us a motivation to get going in the morning. Otherwise with this bunch we might just sleep till noon everyday and forgo schooling all together.

2)Stay flexible – I know, I know I just said set a start time and then I said – be flexible? Well, what I’m trying to say is – if you miss your start time or have many interruptions throughout the day don’t sweat it! You’re homeschooling! You can be flexible, it will work itself out.

Ok – now on to those methods of scheduling

1) Block scheduling – this method is when you divide your week into blocks of time and study one particular subject at a time. We have used this method in the past and we like it. It can be difficult when the kiddos start learning more advanced math… it seems to work better to keep that fresh on the brain daily!

2) Carousel scheduling – This is what we call a mix of all subjects every day. A little of this and a little of that scheduled throughout your homeschool day – just don’t forget to schedule some fun stuff too!

3) Daily scheduling – though similar to block scheduling this method sets aside one day for each subject.

4) Year round scheduling vs. 9 month/9 week scheduling. As a homeschooler you have the freedom and flexibility to choose how you want to homeschool. Of course, you will need to follow your state’s guidelines for how many days, etc… but you can work that into a full 12 month plan or fit it into 9 months.

5) Six weeks on one week off – this is a type of schedule made popular by the FiveJ’s and is referred to as a low stress schedule. This is the newest type of scheduling that I have found, and we just may be trying this next year!

…don’t forget to schedule some fun activities into your homeschool routines – like this make a word search resource! My kiddos love it!

Highschool Homeschooling Summer Courses

highschool homeschoolIn our last post we talked about summer learning. Yes, we are joining the ranks of those that homeschool all year round. As a former teacher, there is something in me that just “balks” at that idea. My mind, my body, and my soul need the summer break!!!!!!  Uh – hem… excuse that…

Anywayssss… it looks like we will be doing Summer School – Lite Edition. As I mentioned before each of the younger kiddos need a few specific areas worked on, and our highschool daughter has a few areas that we neglected this year.

We have tried to incorporate “dual enrollment” with our highschoolers, and have begun this as well with our oldest daughter. They are doing dual enrollment with a local Bible College that I work with. By the time she graduates, she will have an Associate of Arts degree in Bible. This doesn’t really assist her with credits or course load when she enrolls in university, however, it does prepare her for how college courses are given and what is expected and required. We are a dedicated Christian family, and since our daughters are attending state institutions, we want to make sure that they are rooted and grounded in their faith. During these highschool dual enrollment courses, it is a great time for them to take inventory of what they really believe, study it out, and take a stand for it.

Dual Enrollment also acts as a “Wow” factor with the university and – as with her sister- they eagerly grant acceptance into their program. Of course, in this Associate’s degree there are other courses besides Bible that are required  including such things as a world history highschool course, Biology, Physical Science, English Comp., and Speech. Though she takes the course from the college, it actually counts as her requirements on her highschool transcript. Ahhh… the beauty of dual enrollment!

Have you used dual enrollment with any of your homeschool students?

Study of Birds – Kid Ornithologists!

This year we have had an overarching study of birds going on in conjunction with our other homeschooling subjects. My two youngest have really enjoyed learning about birds and tracking which birds they have seen over the course of the year. We enjoy studying this way – it’s really great for unschoolers or even roadschooling. The learning is flexible and totally based on exploration and discovery! Science is really an amazing course of study. Whether you are conducting scientific experiments, playing a vocabulary game, or just plain observing… it can really be a lot of fun for children.

We started by learning about birds in general using the Apologia “Flying Creatures” text.

Zoology 1

We then created our own bird journals.

Photo

Then we put out a bird feeder with several kinds of bird food.

Then we began to keep track of what birds visited our yard.

Science for Homeschooling

Over the past few years, I’ve tried quite a few different science programs. Some of these programs were amazing, so were not so much. In any case we have posted homeschool science reviews throughout our blog, so I thought I’d collect them all here.

Our recent review of Science4Us – our youngest homeschooler’s favorite way to spend science time!

Great ways to teach preschool and kindergarten science with ideas and tips for getting their attention.

Teaching homeschool Vocabulary Tips is a great post to help us realize that vocabulary instruction does so much more than just help with spelling skills. Homeschoolers can use vocabulary methods and skills to enrich science and history.

How to Homeschool Elementary Science is one of my favorite posts outlining some of the basic methods that we use to teach science in our home school.

One of our favorite subjects to study in science in astronomy. The post Making Homeschool Astronomy Easy outlines what we do for our astronomy studies.

Our post on Homeschool Science has a great array of interesting topics on how to homeschool varying ages and topics.

The Gender Gap in Education… an argumentable post about this so called idea and how it applies to homeschooling.

Ways to Enrich Your Homeschool Studies

We have been homeschooling for many years, and of course – have several homeschool curriculum resources that we love and use frequently. However, there are times that we finish up early or that a particular course of study just doesn’t go as deeply as we had anticipated. It is during those times that we usually reach for a few of our favorite supplemental resources.

History Homeschool Supplements

We love to supplement geography with Sheppard Software online resources. These include games and puzzles, and have been very effective at teaching my children their geography. Sheppard has a lot of other offerings as well… we’ve just used their geography section as a regular school supplement.

Science Homeschool Supplements

online science curriculum

Another amazing program that works well for our family is the Science4Us online curriculum. It is only for K-2 grade so it’s span of use is limited, however, the kids enjoy it immensely.

For the older kids, we use Khan Academy quite regularly to help out with various Chemistry, Physics, and math questions. When mom isn’t around to give them help Khan Academy is the next best thing!

Core Subject Homeschool Supplements

home education

For general supplementary enrichment we use Time4Learning. It’s a great way to round out your child’s education. We always do a main curriculum, while working on T4L as well. It is something we do when we need a break from textbooks, or just a change in the regular monotony of school days. It works great for us, is very interesting and fun, and challenges my kids in areas that I sometimes overlook.

BrainPOP

Another online resource that is great for breaking up the monotony is Brain Pop Jr. We use the ipad app, and they have a nice educational video that they post every once in a while. It presents and very educational topic, and is given using a cartoon style. The children love it and it usually gives them a little brain boost to get back to their other school work.

Spring Ideas for Great Homeschooling

It’s tough to stay inside when the weather finally warms up! I we do try to stay in the house, I feel like I’m competing with something I’ll never overcome. The kids are distracted. Every bird that flies past the window grabs their attention. It’s crazy. So, during the spring and summer months I always try to incorporate something fun to make them still want to “keep their head in the game.”

1) Don’t fight ’em – join em… we are now studying birds. Since, the birds are so interesting and they can’t keep their eyes off them- I think we will study them. I’ve got the Apologia science book about flying creatures and we have several bird guides for our state.

2) Incorporate outside time into your daily curriculum. Some people find that reading is an easy subject to work into the outdoors. It works great for us – we have several comfy outdoor chairs and the kids find a cozy spot and get to it!

3) Use Homeschool Spring Resources – I love to pin ideas on pinterest and then get back to them when I have time.

4) Homeschool Elementary can be so much fun when you add a course or two that the kids CHOOSE!

5) Take time to do some outdoor physical education. This counts as part of your homeschooling as well!

Teaching Kindergarten Science

States of MatterFor most children, kindergarten is the introduction to school. It’s their first experience with what is expected and how they are required to function for most of the their school experience. It’s kindergarten that teaches the fundamentals… and that’s no different when it comes to learning about science at this fantastic age.

Before you jump in to learning and experiencing science, there is one huge thing that you must remember. The kindergartener learns by play! You can’t expect them to just sit there and read a book and learn everything they need to know. A kindergartener learns through experience via playing. So, as we teach this amazing child science we must remember this first and foremost. Science can be HUGELY fun, if they are allowed to experience the excitement of discovery first hand.

1) Make science fun, and to do this you need a good backbone. What in the world? Sure,  I am talking about your science backbone… your textbook. A really great text/or foundational science program can make a huge difference! We love using Apologia Science, and have recently started using the new Science4Us online program. Both offer very unique kindergarten homeschool science perspectives geared toward getting the young child very interested in science.

2) Use exciting ways to teach the facts. Don’t just assign your kiddos a page to read. Oh, I know not every homeschool parent is a science lover… but we’ve got to at least find a way to get across the facts in an exciting manner. If you have no clue how to teach a particular topic – relinquish it to the experts. You can show a science video for class one day – or watch a cool you tube science how-to, or even watch it yourself and then find a fun way to teach it to your kids.

3) Take that extra time to get prepared. I know… that takes some determination and planning but it will be well worth it in the end. Whenever I have taken the time to teach my kids science in an extraordinary way – they usually remember everything!!! I also love to use interesting and colorful printables for recording the science that we learn. Here’s a free science printable about the scientific method. You can use it to fill out inquiry about particular science projects/experiments that you are working on. Make your science experiments fun and amazing and you’ll have your kids begging for science every day!

Our 10 Best Homeschool Posts of 2013

It is so hard to believe that it is already the middle of January! Time really flies! To summarize our year of homeschooling in 2013, I thought I would share our best posts! We’ve posted on everything from a weather lesson to High School homeschooling and everything in between! Since, it’s easy to move on and forget exactly what we covered over time I thought it would be nice to have a little reminder! If you have an all time favorite post – I would love for you to vote for it in the comments below!

1) Pain Free Math for Homeschool Highschoolers

2) Homeschooling the Big Family – Just a Few Tips

3) Getting Your Students Writing

4) Using Games to Motivate

5) Top 6 Ways to Organize Your Homeschool

6) Learning History with Summer Exploration

7) Express Yourself

8) Writing for Early Learners

9) Making Independent Learners

10) Homeschool Sports and Special Needs

Getting Back to School

homeschool puzzlesThe holidays are such a wonderful time. In fact, for me… an oasis in the middle of the year.  I love just enjoying each day without the heavy duty schedule that we keep on a regular basis. This year, like any other it is hard to get back to the routine. To make things a little easier on “re-entry” I thought we’d have a warm up day. When we start back to homeschooling again this week, we’re going to begin with a day full of the fun homeschool activities that we rarely make time for.

1) Creative Writing – I thought it would be fun to use some figurative language prompts to get us writing creatively. We really enjoy fun writing, yet lately we’ve been all “business” with science projects and research papers.

2) Art – My children love for me to have a dedicated art class. Since, I almost became an art major – I LOVE it too… I just too often put it on the back burner!

3) Board games – these are our homeschool board games – they include games that help us learn multiplication tables, phonics blends, etc. We have a lot of these fun games, but again… put these on the back burner.

4) Critical thinking skills puzzles… my kiddos love these and I have a ton of books that I used when I taught school. I simply make copies and we do them together!!

5) Mazes. One of my all time favorite puzzle games… I have two very cool books filled with black line masters of the most awesome maze puzzles you’ll ever see. We are definitely doing some of these this week!