Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Foreign Language Study

Why do Americans shy away from foreign language study? I am not exactly sure, but I think that Americans - due to the fact that the major language of a very broad expanse of land mass is English - think that there really is no point to learn another language. Often, even the students who take a foreign language in high school, lose it before they are 30 because they never use it. Yet, I am here to say that foreign language study, increases your aptitude and enables you to think better in your own language. Have you ever met an ignorant person who knew many languages?

Most Europeans know several languages...not just 2 most often 3-5 different languages. Amazing really! Yet, these people because the countries are smaller in Europe find it necessary to learn several languages due to the fact that travel between these countries is often extensive. My goodness you can take the Chunnel from Britain to France and be there in just a few hours. Hop a flight to Italy from France in a couple more hours.

So have Americans used the fact that English is spoken over most of our continent as an excuse for not learning another language. I believe so. Learning a foreign language is probably one of the best courses of study. Don't be afraid to offer it to your homeschooled child. There are many really great programs out there that are either computer based, or online. Don't hesitate to get your sixth grader learning another language- you won't be sorry!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Making it Count...

You know, homeschoolers have a big advantage over the typical schooled family. The blessings are priceless...Can you guess what I am talking about?

Homeschool families have so much more time together. More time to bond - more time to make memories - more time to make the moments count. Homeschooling our children can leave an amazing impression with our little ones. The family unit becomes the most important thing in their little lives. It really is beyond compare.

Children grow up so quickly. It seems like years are actually weeks, at least to us adults. Do you remember how it felt when you were young. Time seemed to stand still. Now that we are older, we can't get it to slow down. Days tick by like minutes, and weeks like days. How can we make it count, when it moves so rapidly? Cherish each day, and each opportunity to invest in your child. Make it count today!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Making adjustments...

Why do you homeschool? Each family has their own personal reason for embarking on this great journey...some families do it because their normal is different. Some families have a need to have school during different hours. This need may reflect a disability or a lifestyle that requires changes.

Homeschooling makes it possible to school to your families' particular needs. Rearranging your schedule to make it possible to have family time. It really is amazing.

Often a child with learning disabilities can benefit from rearranging their school day. There are some students who have had great success with school after an arduous morning running and playing.

Whatever your reasons homeschoooling gives you great opportunity to be flexible, and to put your family first! Be free to make adjustments!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Learning Disabilities

Have you ever wondered how children with learning disabilities were educated before we had our unique system of "labeling?" For years I have felt that the large amount of children that our public education system labels as special education was really ridiculous. As a teacher for more than 15 years, I have seen students with many different types of disabilities. One thing that I have found in common with many of them is that they don't appreciate being labeled. They want to be treated just like you and me, even if their educational needs may be different.

Labeling a child, separating them and sticking them with a "stigma" for the rest of their lives may be the worst thing we could ever do to them. Instead of just labeling them, we ought to find out how they tick. Find out the ways that they learn, and begin to apply methods that will reach those ways. Programs such as Brain Balance and All Kinds of Minds seek to approach these children without labels, but as children who need to be educated in a different way. They minds are just "wired"differently. If we treat them as disabled, we do them a great disservice.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Science Studies

Science...another one of those enigmatic studies that students either love or hate. Science can be a high interest topic or one of disdain. How can we make science interesting for all of our children? Typically, the type of curriculum, or how the subject is presented makes all the difference in the world to how our students perceive it.

If we can present science in an interesting manner - one that corresponds with our student's learning styles - and engage our students in science that they can do. They can make real live connections, and applications that will last a lifetime. Teaching science with hands on experiences, including experiments and projects makes it real to students.

There are many homeschooling curricula out there that have been written expressly for this purpose. We particularly enjoy the Apologia series. It makes the connections and allows for experience making science real for the student!

Monday, October 10, 2011

History and Homeschooling

How do you do history? History can be presented to the student in many different ways. Yet, the key to history is making it come alive. History can be dull, factual, and as old and dusty as the books that the facts come from. Yet, making history come alive is really quite simple.

As we mentioned before - literature or "live" books can make history an interesting subject - one the student will want to devour. You can also make history interactive by using online courses, materials that incorporate intense activity such as creating timelines, making projects, and the best method...visiting historical sites. This is the best way to make history come alive! Visiting places such as Monticello, Mount Vernon, the Statue of Liberty, and even Washington, D.C. Students who see history - can really understand and feel history. Experience is the best way to make facts come alive!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writing in the Homeschool

Writing is definitely one of those subjects that can lose a student's interest rapidly. So, making writing interesting and keeping it lively is often a very difficult task. As we have posted about before, using a blog can really bring it to life. Yet, the important thing is to get the student writing.

I have noticed over the years of teaching, that students who just can't seem to write - often write very well once they start doing it. Practice...practice is the key with writing proficiency. Yes, the basic tools are necessary - correct grammar and syntax, correct usage, and correct punctuation are essential to good writing but the young writer must practice to gain proficiency.

Finding the key - they passion that the young writer needs to begin writing is what makes the difference. Find what they love - use it to get them writing - and then have them write...write...write!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Literature Based Learning

Homeschoolers use various methods of teaching, consequently one of those commonly used is literature based learning. Using literature as the foundation for education is an excellent method of teaching. Students can learn by reading "live" books, or in other words books that make learning the facts come to life.

Many subjects can be integrated into this type of learning method. Science, history, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and even mathematics can be learned through this method. In fact, this type of teaching/learning was initiated and made popular by Charlotte Mason. She believed that "live" books were written by people who were passionate about their topic. Thus, the information given through those books would be more appealing to the reader.

A student can learn about far away lands, about WWII, and about many other interesting facts just by reading great literature. An exciting way to learn...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Homeschool spelling

Once upon a time, I was a very frustrated mother when it came to spelling lists for my 5 homeschooled children. I tried (insanely I might add) to do each of them as separate grades with separate lists and separate tests! OHHHHH that was nuts! Then I tried to incorporate a few of them into levels, and then give combined lists - and tests. A little less nuts, but still pretty crazy. I searched endlessly for a way to tame the huge paper tiger that I had looming over me every week.

I finally found Vocabulary and Spelling City.com! It was love at first sight. Truly amazing..... My children could use the lists I wanted them to use, or choose from others that they have available and practice their lists with really cool animated interactive games. They could also take the test right there on the internet, with it scoring it as they went. (Ahhhhhhh) Then came the icing on top of this wonderful sweetness.... all that I had to do was go and check their records and print off their grades. Wow... I was hooked - no more headaches and no more paper tiger! Amazing....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Homeschooling is a wonderful endeavor - a worthwhile endeavor, but sometimes when the whole house seems to be falling down and the children just don't want to be still, the bills need paid, and Susie just won't get the math concept you have been teaching her...it just seems like too much! Have you been there? I know that I have. The only way that I can make it through is to take a step back and look at what I have put on my "proverbial" plate. If I can remind myself what the most important things are - streamline my life so to speak, I usually can focus on those things and get back to the fight. Yes, some days it does seem like a fight - but a good fight. Your children are learning every day. Even though progress may seem slow and you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel - TRUST ME - they are learning!

Just don't let the frustration build to a breaking point. Take time out. Take a few days off if you need it. Find your focus, and streamline your life to include the most important things. You are making an investment in your children...and they are worth your time and effort. Even when Susie doesn't get it...remember one day she will - and you will be right by her side to cheer her on!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

6th Grade Grammar

Grammar is not the most exciting subject on the table, yet grammar is one of the most necessary foundational subjects that we learn in our lifetime. Grammar is an abstract logic based subject and requires deep thought and some memorization. Knowing the 8 parts of speech is key to getting a good grasp on the nuances of grammar itself. It also doesn't help that our language has so many rules and exceptions to those rules.

Teaching grammar to 6th graders can often be a challenge. The sixth grader is entering into the abstract phase of thinking, yet their minds are still leaning toward seeing the concept in its concrete form. If you can, in some way, make grammar instruction concrete for these students it will aid in their comprehension of the facts. My 6th grader so enjoyed doing the grammar lessons in her online course. The course gave the instruction in an animated and exciting way, and then allowed for interaction which translated to drill and practice of the facts that she had learned that day. Finding a method of doing grammar which translates to a bit of fun for the learner is often the key!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Homeschooling 6th Grade Math

Math is one of those subjects that most people have a love/hate relationship with. They like some of it, and hate a lot of it. I personally love most all of it! I began to enjoy math when I was in 9th grade. I had a terrible teacher in the public school that I went to, and I began to fail. My parents sent me back to the Christian school that I had been in, and I had a math teacher that really cared. She began to make sure that I was getting the concepts each day. It was amazing, I immediately began to do better and within the year I had an A average.

The moral of the story is that though math is a subject that many people just express a dislike for, the dislike typically comes from not doing well at the subject matter. Once a person feels accomplishment in what they are doing, they usually say that they like it. Math is no different. If a student can begin to feel confident and experience success at what they are learning, it won't be long before they will say- they like it...OK maybe even just a little..."It's okay."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Legal Issues to Contemplate

Homeschooling is gaining popularity, but there have been certain areas of our country that have not been exactly homeschool friendly. In these areas, families have felt like they were being watched like fish in a fishbowl. It is sad, that the few homeschooling families that have neglected their responsibilities should make it difficult for those of us who truly homeschool to the best of our abilities.

One way to protect yourself from the unwarranted complaints of people who don't understand what you are doing, is to join a legal defense. There are several homeschooling legal defense groups who advocate homeschoolers when their freedom to homeschool is called into question. Though we have relative freedom to homeschool at this point, there are politicians who desire to take that freedom away. These politicians believe that a child's educational responsibility belongs to the state and not to the parent. In their eyes, the parent should have no right or say in how the child is educated. I believe this is morally and ethically wrong. The parents are the ones who brought the child into this world, and they are the ones ultimately responsible for the child's well being and education.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Creative Writing for Sixth Grade

Are you looking for new ways to incorporate creative writing into your child's curriculum? I had been for quite a while, and finally it hit me! I could use blogging to encourage my daughter to write creatively. I was a bit nervous at first, because we have been pretty conservative about our children's use of the internet. However, after doing a bit of research I found a few homeschooling blog sites that have protection against unwanted issues.

After going over these things, I found that I could work with one in particular. So, I signed her up. She began to get busy on the creative side of things, and had a great looking blog in no time. Then began the real work! She began writing about the simple things in life, her little adventures, and it was quite amazing. She couldn't get enough of it. She began writing and writing. The creative part began to come as well, it was absolutely amazing. We were stunned at the quality that she was producing as well and the quantity. Gone were the days of pressuring her to write creatively. It was the best move I ever made!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sixth Grade Requirements

Homeschool parents fluctuate on the issue of keeping their children up to state standards. Each states' basic homeschool requirements differ, and some states do not require students to reach a specific achievement goal. However, many states do require the student to be standardized tested at least every 3 years. To meet the typical standardized test levels the students typically need to meet the state standards in their yearly studies.

For sixth grade these standards include:
1) Reading at grade level with corresponding vocabulary skill
2) Students should have grade level literary comprehension skills
3) Comprehensive grade level knowledge of grammar and sentence construction
4) Research and writing skills
5) Skills in math should include - measurement, geometry, algebra, and data analysis & probability.
6) Science includes astronomy, hydrology, meteorology, and geology.
7) Social studies should include geography, government and civics, economics, and history study.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What are learning styles?

Have you ever heard of learning styles before? If not, you are missing out on an incredible way to find the key to unlocking your child's potential. Learning styles are the specific way that your child applies his/her strengths to how they acquire knowledge! Tap into their learning style, and you will know just how they NEED to learn!

If you can sit and watch your child play, work, think, act, and speak for a day or so, you will pickup on his/her specific learning method. Every child has a strength, or an area that they find easier to learn with. If we can determine this and use curriculum that maximizes the specific learning strength that our child is blessed with. The key to making this work is finding the specific learning style and the right curriculum that corresponds to it. So get your notebook, and start your investigation! You won't be sorry!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keeping it simple

Homeschooling is a very rewarding and honorable choice for educating your children, but it isn't always a bed of roses. There are days when your child(ren) doesn't respond like they should, days when you feel terrible, days when nothing seems to work right, days when you just can't get across a concept...even though you have tried 500 other times! Yes, there are times when even the most long term homeschoolers just want to quit. But the decision to homeschool must be rooted deeper than just a surface desire. If homeschooling is a deeper heart issue with you, then facing the days when homeschooling isn't the at the top of your list...won't be the end of the world.

Keep your homeschooling endeavor simple. You don't HAVE to be teaching your child advanced classes. If your child is struggling with something go back and start over. If your child is doing great with a course - let them go - let them satiate their hunger for more. Go with what feels right - and keep it simple!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Raising Responsible Children

Homeschooling is by nature - different. So naturally, we would understand that the product it produces is different. Oh.... am I so glad of that. The school system is producing young people that are... well, down right scary! They are so confused about everything from education to who they are... I am seriously concerned about our future.

The homeschooled students that I am acquainted with tend to be mature, responsible, and respectful. In fact, they are so nice that you just enjoy being around them! So, in my experience - homeschooling produces really great kids! But why? What is so different about homeschooling that changes how these children turn out? It's simple really. Homeschooling removes the peer pressure, and the student is left to focus on school, family, and developing themselves according to their individual gifts. The homeschooled student doesn't have to have the right clothes, the right shoes, look perfect, do cool things (like drugs and sex), and act tough just to feel accepted. They are loved and accepted by those around them, just because of who they are... part of the family!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tips for Beginning

Once you have made your decision to homeschool, and then delved into the wide world of curriculum options, how do you set up? There are a few things that every homeschooler needs to do to be successful.

1) Choose a curriculum that matches your children's learning style. Allow them to express themselves in how they learn, and encourage their strengths...let them fly!
2) Enroll in a homeschool program or enroll with your state as an independent homeschooler.
3) Keep good records. I like to keep my children's test papers or portfolios for several years, after that it is up to them if they want to keep them or not.
4) Keep attendance records. - You can count your field trip days!!!
5) Don't be afraid to change something that just isn't working for your family. It's better to waste a little bit of money, than to be totally frustrated all year because of a curriculum that isn't working!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Types of Curriculum

There are many great curriculum options out there for homeschoolers. As I mentioned in our last post there is so much out there, that it may just be overwhelming for you. I hope to help you simplify a few of the main types of homeschooling materials available.

Text Based Materials
These materials are often workbook style books, or they may be similar to regular text books that a student would use in school. There are several great homeschooling curriculum companies that have organized a comprehensive approach to homeschooling. They have developed everything that you would need to educate your child - from the text to the teacher book to the tests/quizzes. We often refer to this type of curriculum as "out of the box" curriculum, simply because the material is ready to go right out of the box. A few examples of these would be ABEKA, BJU Press, and Alpha/Omega.

Computer Based Materials
This type of curriculum uses the computer to educate the child. The education presented in this manner is usually available through software. The student reads or studies the lesson via the software, and then answers questions or completes activities that are presented via the software. There are typically record keeping options for this type of material. Examples of this include Switched on Schoolhouse, Rosetta stone, etc.

DVD/ prerecorded sessions
This type of material uses prerecorded sessions to teach the child. The teacher is recorded while actually teaching the course to a group of students. This method works, and has been used for many years in private schools and public schools. Many parents like it because the student feels like they are in a class. Others don't like it because the material is presented with no way for the child to ask questions. Examples include ABEKA, Bob Jones, some Apologia press, and some Saxon math.

Online Curriculum
This type of curriculum allows the student to use the web to access a web site that then teaches the student. Often this type of curriculum will use cartoon characters to present the information and then interactive responses to test the students retention of the information. Examples of this curriculum include Time4Learning and Monarch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Curriculum Options

Research shows that homeschooling is the fastest growing method of education in America today. Many people ask why...but it should be obvious that our public school system is just not making the grade. We keep throwing money at it and making ridiculous tests the determinant for everything. Yet, good education comes from something deeper, a desire to learn. We have a whole culture that is ungrateful and self serving...this carries over into the expectations we have from education. What is the difference between American students and Chinese students? Could it be that they value their education more, so they take it more seriously? These are deep thoughts, but I believe this is the root of why America isn't producing the top education youth of the world. Parents with little or no education are producing better educated children with no high cost involved! That always amazes me!

Since homeschooling is one of the fastest growing methods of educating - so the curriculum made specifically for homeschooling is also growing! There are a huge amount of options out there waiting for you to explore. So many, that it might actually be overwhelming for a beginning homeschooler. Though this blog is dedicated to online curriculum, which there are many great options for, I will also point out some other helpful types of curriculum.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Big Decision

So, you've decided to homeschool - Now what? Well, the road that you have taken to arrive at this decision was probably a thoughtful one. Each homeschooler has traveled that way, and probably remembers it well. It isn't the easiest decision that you've ever made, but it will surely be one of the best!

Homeschooling is a choice, and thankfully a choice that we as Americans have the right to make. There are many politicians who would love to take away that right. In light of the freedom that homeschoolers have to train up their children the way that they see fit. Though I am not a supporter of the UN - one of the foundational premises that they made when forming the UN included the parents PRIOR right to educate their children as they see fit. Our Constitution clearly gives us that right, in many of the points of the Bill of Rights as well as in other places.

So, you've made the decision... a good decision. Just take the next few steps to make sure that your decision is backed up by good practice, good resources, and good record keeping.