Too much of a good thing?

The controversy about education continues to rage in our country. As we, in our complacency, continue to rank lower than most modernized countries around the globe. As a proponent of homeschooling, many would tell me to mind my own business. Yet, as a patriot of our great republic I want to see America’s children grow up to be global contributors. Yet, with all the money, dialogue, effort, laws, and standards that we are throwing at public education… it still continues to limp along.

Thomas Jefferson warned against too much government control of education. He realized that if education was completely controlled by government it would be badly managed. “The key to local school districts, according to Jefferson, is that they give parents direct and ultimate control over how their children are educated…Elementary education should be the concern of local communities under the supervision of parents; it should not be controlled by the Federal or State governments.” (See Thomas Jefferson on Education)

Talk about having prophetic vision. Thomas Jefferson truly could see the future. I am thankful that our founding fathers had enough insight to “build in” some safety features in the form of government checks and balances. Though over the past decades these limiting walls to our federal government’s extent of power have been crumbling. We are now looking at the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) as the future of education. The Federal government without directly requiring it, will bring the US States games into one arena. If unanimously adopted the CCSS will allow the government even more control. Simply put… it translates into more government control over education. Everyone answering to a common rule or standard. How can that work? The local communities, individuals, and parents are what make our nation great and what can once again bring education around.

Though there are a myriad of pros and cons of homeschooling, the easy thing to see here is that homeschool can play a huge part in bringing the level of education up in the US. I understand that many people feel it isn’t a big deal to lag behind these other countries. Why should it be when we are still a global leader in many areas? The issue is, we may not have that privilege forever. As a result of our complacency in this area we may quickly lose this privilege before we realize it.

What are your thoughts about education in America? What is the answer?

Homeschooling and the Chair of Cheer…10 Fun Homeschooling Resources

chair of cheer tips for homeschoolingThere is this mysterious disease that my children get every year right before Christmas. It ends up being so contagious that they all come down with it, and everyone in our house is affected. In fact, some days it is so bad… that we can barely do school! Have you guessed what I am referring to?

You got it… it’s that crazy “visions of sugar plums” dancing in their heads… the general-  fever inducing excitement over Christmas! I have to admit that it really drives me nuts at times. The kids are more wiggly, more talkative, more easily distracted… just more of everything! So, at our house it really isn’t the chair of cheer – but the chair of insanity that I reign in!

In any case, what do you do during the pre-Christmas insanity? There are days when I can get a regular work load out of my kids, but some days it’s all I can do to just to get them to play “games.” So, here is my list of favorite – crazy holiday – Chair of Cheer Games!

1) Vocabulary Games and Word Search Galore!!

2) All things Geography and Social Studies related!

3) Science games and videos for loads of learning and fun!

4) Cool math games and even more fun math learning!

5) We also use you tube to look up videos on things that we are studying in science and history and watch short videos! (Mom does this job!)

6) Story starters are fun ways to get your kids writing – and laughing!

7)Bible games to get their brains thinking!!

8) Input your own spelling lists and sit back and watch them have fun!

9) Art and music learning games!

10) Learn a new language with these free online language lessons!

Making the Most of Your Homeschool Days

homeschool disciplineI enjoy being at home with my children, yet there are days that I feel more like a referee than a mother. Do you ever feel like that? I really hate feeling that way, and have recently been trying to find ways to keep my children from fighting and focused on their homeschooling and other positive things. Trying to get kids to think positively instead of negatively at every turn is a real feat. I have come to realize that my correction must be consistent and thorough to keep them on the right path.

This week I have determined that I PERSONALLY am going to be consistent with correction whenever they argue and are disobedient. Many times out of my sheer frustration or possibly laziness I’ll pass that responsibility on to my husband or even a later date. Yet, in reality that does nothing but provoke the issue, because the perpetrators are getting away with it! So, whether it is convenient for me or not… this week we are all going to be toeing the line. Not only kiddos, but parents as well!

Our homeschool is quite eclectic this year. Blended with everything from first grade homeschool curriculum to middle school writing we are using workbooks, videos, online curriculum and everything in between. Maybe the broad mixture is keeping it interesting… because all of them seem to really be “into it!”

I’ve also noted that for our family – a good routine works wonders. I have changed my organizational pattern this year to reflect more independent study. I am sad they are growing up, but it is my duty to teach them those skills that will make them successful without my help. So, independent study skills…here we come. I’ve noticed this week that all of my kids have responded very well to this and have actually seemed to enjoy getting down to business each morning.

Getting your students Writing

writingOver the years of homeschooling ups and downs… I realize that one of the most difficult things to get across to my children are good writing skills. I have found that the challenge has many multiples…

1) I have to get them motivated… this is huge. If I can just find the key, find a thing they love, and get them interested in talking about that thing… I’ve got it made. However, finding the “thing” is the issue.

2) I have to get them to practice good grammar, which means teaching grammar skills. (collective groan)

3) I have to teach them fluency, agreement, syntax, etc. All of which takes practice… so just like learning how to play an instrument or a sport… writing takes PRACTICE.

…sigh…which they won’t get unless they write… and they won’t write unless they are motivated…

This past year I had to teach my highschooler how to practice essay writing for standardized tests… in the middle of it I almost despaired and sought out a writing tutor…but we kept at it even though there was very little motivation…essay prompts are really just not fun!

Now you can see my ongoing dilemma. This past year, I purchased several very interesting and very fun motivational writing books. They were responsible for the best year of writing that we’ve had so far. So, if I had to hang my hat on ONE key thing… it would definitely be the motivation! If you can motivate them to write something they are interested in… you have won the battle!

Middle School Homeschooling Tips

This is my month to focus on Middle Schoolers. Yes, I have TWO this year that are in seventh grade. I am blown away by how fast this is going. Seems like I was just starting to homeschool them just the other day! I’m not old enough to have all these college, high school, and middle schoolers….

1) The first place that I always start when planning my homeschooler’s year is their “passions.” What are they really interested in? I want to make sure that I include this in the classes and plans that I make for them each year. Yes, even if they LOVE science… they still have to do English too! I just don’t want to expect perfection from them if they aren’t gifted in that area.

2) Plan to include fun things. My kids really love art. Yet, if I get busy I’ll put this on the back burner. Yet, when I do – I notice that all of us get worn down and begin to just function in the rut. Remember… all work and no play? That’s exactly where this is going. They need to do fun things to learn. That’s another reason why I love using make a word search to use words that we are studying in both  homeschool science, history, math and LA.

3) Try to teach them to be more independent. For some of my children this has been an easy task, for others…..insane! Remember your goal…they need to eventually be able to work and go on to college WITHOUT you. Independence is difficult for the mom… sometimes… 🙂 It means your child can work alone, figure out problems, and continue on with their homeschool day even if you aren’t there. This also means that you aren’t needed as much as you were when they were little. I know, it’s hard but it’s a good thing.

4) Number 3 really hinges on this… teach them organizational/study skills. This is the key to getting them to be independent. If they can self organize and study on their own… they obviously will be become more and more independent.

5)Find a curriculum that meets their particular learning styles. My twins are very different from my other children. My older kids liked workbooks and writing, while the twins prefer something more engaging. Listening skills aren’t exactly their forte either, so finding something that keeps their attention and keeps them busy is a challenge for me.