Category Archives: Uncategorized

Schooling through the Summer

Summer school or no school? How about some school, or light days of school? Those are questions that homeschoolers get all the time. And the answers to those, are just as varied as the people asking them!

Many homeschoolers follow the school schedule. Usually it’s because their kids have friends that go to public schools, and they want their kids to have the same breaks as their friends.

Just as many homeschoolers though, don’t have a set plan as far as summer goes. They start their school year in August and September, and just take breaks when they need…or do a little summer unschooling. Maybe they intentionally schedule breaks throughout the year, knowing that they can work through the summer months.

Either way, there is no wrong or right way to plan your homeschool year or your summer breaks. So do school. O take it easy. Or take a vacation. Or browse homeschool curricula for next year. However you spend your summer, just enjoy it and make the most of it!  🙂

Help with Social Studies?

One of the biggest struggles I have as a homeschooling parent, is knowing when to admit that I need help with teaching my boys about something. I mean…if I made the decision to educate them I home, I should know how to teach everything from Pre-K to high school calculus, right?

It took a long time for me to finally acknowledge that the correct answer to that is NO. I don’t have to know every little thing about every subject they’re going to learn at home. What I do have to do though, look/ask for help when I realize I’m hitting a wall.

This means that I give up on having my younger work from a social studies textbook one afternoon, and relent to letting him play social studies games online instead. Or this might mean getting an online writing tutor for my oldest son when he tells he wants help with his creative writing and I have no idea where to start with that.

Have you found yourself needing help teaching your kiddos? What did you do?

April Showers…

Ah, spring. You bring us sunshine and warmer weather. You bring us pretty flowers. You also bring some of us pollen allergies, but you know…win some, lose some.

While my favorite season is fall, there’s a lot to be said for spring. I enjoy what little winter we have here in the south (although, after this past year, I think Mother Nature could use a little weather lesson as to how seasons are supposed to change), but by the time spring rolls around, I’m generally ready to start breaking out the shorts and the sandals.

There’s another reason I love spring. Spring Vacay! That’s vacation, for those of you who aren’t up on their “teen speak,” lol. Since we have a flexible homeschooling schedule, we enjoy taking trips to the beach with other homeschooling friends, and doing so after the public school spring break, but before the schools let out for the summer. Cheaper prices and far less tourists. Since both of our families are homeschooling families, and we like to find something educational in everything we do, we call our annual trips “roadschooling adventures.” 🙂

Do any of you homeschoolers out there take spring trips? Where to?

Plan a family Christmas pageant for your homeschoolers

One thing my kids miss from when they attended public school is the annual Christmas pageant.  They would sing Christmas carols, perform some short skits, and other holiday fun.  It was usually held in the evening, when parents and families could attend, and everyone dressed in their Sunday best for the occasion.  There was usually a reception of cookies and punch afterward.  When we started homeschooling several years ago, this is one of the school traditions we missed.

So last year we started our own Christmas pageant!  Of course, it helps if you have a big family, but you could always arrange something like this in your homeschool support group or co-op group as well.  Get the kids together to learn about Christmas traditions in other countries, sample some traditional Christmas goodies, sing holiday carols, and maybe plan some arts & crafts projects for the children.

It’s these kind of group activities that homeschoolers miss out on.  But they don’t have to!  Our family puts together a short skit each year to perform for visiting family members.  It’s become a tradition now, and just as much fun as those Christmas pageants we used to attend at the public school.

teaching third-grade math

Having trouble sifting through the piles and stacks of math curriculum out there?  Welcome to the club!  If you’ve been homeschooling a while, you know how numerous the choices can be.  If you’re already using a math program that works, you’re all set.  But speaking for myself, I’m always trying to improve.  Not reinvent the wheel exactly, just trying to tweak the math curriculum I use with my kids so they’re learning as the level they need to.

There are many math-in-a-box programs, like Saxon for example, that give parents everything they need.  This would include workbooks, math manipulatives, and even scripted lessons so you know exactly how to teach the material.  I’ve heard that Math-U-See uses videos of the instructor teaching the lessons, and Teaching Textbooks does a similar thing through the computer.

Other programs are more flexible and may require more input from parents.   The Life of Fred, for example, actually takes a narrative form to teach math concepts through storytelling.  It’s always been a favorite in my family!  We use a little of this and a little of that, always trying to find the perfect combination.  It works for us though!

Have the kids help you plan a healthy Thanksgiving meal

Always looking for ways to incorporate homeschooling and educational opportunities into our everyday lives, I figure Thanksgiving is a good a time as any to teach the kids about nutrition.  There aren’t too many forms of nutrition curriculum for homeschoolers, so sometimes you just have to take advantage of these “teachable moments” in everyday life!

So I asked the kids, besides a turkey, what else should we cook for Thanksgiving dinner?  Check out the “Choose My Plate” initiative, which is the replacement for the old food pyramid we’ve all learned about in the past.  It teaches kids how to eat proper proportions of food, to balance meals.  Of course, vegetables should be at every meal.  You really can’t overdose on those, and kids are so much more likely to eat them when they’ve had a say in the meal planning process.

My kids decided green bean casserole would be a good choice, but we’re balancing that with corn too.  Salad may not be a traditional Thanksgiving food, but it’s certainly healthy.  We serve a salad mid-afternoon to keep everyone from feeling hunger pains until the big meal is done.

Enjoy the holiday, and if your kids liked helping you plan the meal, maybe they’d like to learn to cook it too!

I’m thankful to be homeschooling!

It’s that time of year again, when we look back and realize how good we have it, how blessed we are in our lives, and how grateful we are for the gifts we’ve been given.  Thanksgiving.  I’m awfully grateful to have the opportunity to homeschool my kids.  We all homeschool for different reasons, such as poor academics in the public schools, bullying or other issues in the school environment, learning disabilities that are not adequately addressed otherwise, etc.  We all have our reasons.  But this time of year, I try to stop and just be thankful for this opportunity.  My kids will be better for it, and although homeschooling is sometimes a sacrifice of my time and energy, what a worthwhile venture it is.  All of you homeschoolers out there, congratulations on making this difficult choice and I wish you all the success you could hope for.  Happy Thanksgiving!

standardized testing

Whether or not your homeschooler will need to take a standardized test varies state by state, and essentially depends on your state’s homeschooling laws.  If you’re new to the area, or just not sure, ask other homeschoolers or look up the laws yourself.  In many states that require some sort of assessment or paperwork to be filed, standardized testing is only one of the available options.  Sometimes a portfolio assessment of the child’s work throughout the school year, often reviewed by a certified teacher, will suffice.  Other states will require a record of time spend homeschooling, or a list of curriculum or materials used.  It’s best to check to be sure!

When testing is required, often the local school district can help homeschoolers by either connecting them with the testing authorities, or by allowing homeschoolers to test alongside the public school kids.  Parents may or may not need to pay a fee to participate in the district’s testing program.  So while it is certainly not required all the time, or in all states, parents should definitely become familiar with the laws where they live.

Columbus Day for homeschoolers

Celebrating Columbus Day is so popular for third-grade schoolkids that it’s almost a requirement.  Don’t we all remember learning about Columbus and his three ships, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria?  Of course!  There are countless art and craft projects for this holiday, and who can forget the popular rhyme about Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492?

One thing I’ve learned as an adult is that many states have cites named Columbus, after the explorer himself.  Columbus, Ohio has a replica of his ship, the Santa Maria, docked in the river downtown, and available for tours.  So guess what I took my kids to do last Columbus Day?  They do book up early, but we went in a group with some other homeschoolers and had a great time.  I suspect that other towns or cities named Columbus probably have something similar – maybe not a full ship to tour, but some kind of historical documentation or special activity to commemorate the holiday.  It’s worth looking into!

apple theme unit

Elementary school is the ideal age to learn about nature, when students have minds open to the beauty and wonder they encounter.  In the fall, an apple them unit works especially well.  You could learn about the many different types of apples, for starters.  I take my kids on a field trip each fall to a pick your own apple orchard.  They love it, no matter how many times we’ve already been.  Getting out in the cool, crisp fall air to pick apples is the highlight of the season!  There are numerous recipes out there for apples too, so it’s a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen.  There’s plenty of science that can be incorporated into an apple unit study, and of course plenty of nutrition to learn too!  There are many free printables online, and library books galore about apples and fall.  Johnny Appleseed is often celebrated in the fall, and there are biographies of his life written for even a third-grade reading level.  There are so many apple-related resources and activities that you may have trouble narrowing down your choices!