Sep 05

Homeschool Portfolios

Keeping a homeschool portfolio has become very popular lately. Some states accept them as your form of record keeping. Check the homeschool laws in your state to see if a portfolio is acceptable

A portfolio is a little like scrapbooking or lapbooking in my opinion. You save samples of your child’s work during the year and store it in a binder of some sort. I guess it does not have to be a binder. You can use whatever type of storage system that works for you. You might try a box, an accordion file, a scrapbook, or so forth. You will want to keep work that shows areas of strength and areas of weakness. This demonstrates how your child is progressing.

Some kids like to help select samples of their work to include in the portfolio. That is a great way to involve them in their education. It also helps motivate them to try their best.

A portfolio is a neat way to build memories. When your child is all grown up, they might enjoy looking back through their schoolwork. It is also really fun for your children’s kids to look back at Mom or Dad’s school work. It helps them identify with their parents and see that Mom and Dad have really truly gone through some of the same things they are going through.

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Aug 26

Homeschooling with the Internet

I use the Internet for so much these days. I check out reviews for things I am interested in purchasing. I find good recipes so my family will have tasty dinners. I connect with friends and family through social networks. In addition, I find tons of great resources for homeschooling.

You Tube and Khan Academy have fantastic teaching videos that we sometimes use a supplement. Lesson plans are available for most any subject. Printable worksheets are plentiful. There are even virtual manipulatives for math. What more could you ask for?

We use the Internet for most of our schooling. We enjoy online learning. Our main online resource is Time4Learning. It is an automated, self-paced curriculum. We supplement with various things of interest. It makes planning much easier. Moreover, you know what they say, “If momma aint happy, aint nobody happy.” Well, this momma is happy.

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Aug 05

Are You Ready?

Swimming, going to the beach, staying up late, and sleeping in are ending around our house. Why, you ask? Well, I cannot believe it, but summer will quickly be over. It is time to begin thinking about what will be needed for this year’s homeschooling.

Making a checklist is the way I like to get organized. I work best with something to keep me on track, so thought I would share my checklist with you. Maybe someone else will benefit from reading it.

  1. Get the house back in order.
  2. Start making everyone go to bed a little earlier each week so that we will be on schedule when school begins.
  3. Make a list of general supplies needed–markers, paper, pencils, glue, tape, pens, binders…
  4. Ask my kids what they are interested in learning this year. When they have input into what we learn, they are more willing to do the work.
  5. Look at the homeschool curriculum choices, read curriculum reviews, order samples or look at demos on the Internet.
  6. Fill out my Intent to Homeschool notice.
  7. Set up a family school calendar for the year. I keep field trips, co-op classes, attendance form dates, homeschool group meetings, and more on the calendar.
  8. Shop for used curriculum once I make a decision on what I want to use.
  9. Relax, breathe, and drink lots of coffee!
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Jul 26

Right-Brained Learner

My daughter is a right-brained visual learner. Another term is visual-spatial learner. She thinks in pictures. She sees the whole, not the parts and needs to see the ending before she starts.

You or your child might be a right-brained learner if:

  • You take notes but lose them
  • You struggle making decisions
  • You are good with people
  • You seem dreamy, but you’re really deep in thought
  • You like to write fiction, draw, sketch, or play music
  • You might be athletic
  • You like mystery stories
  • You tend to lose track of time
  • You are spontaneous
  • You’re fun and witty
  • You struggle with verbal directions
  • You are unpredictable
  • You get lost
  • You are emotional
  • You don’t like reading directions
  • You need to listen to music while studying
  • You read lying down
  • You like creative writing assignments

Right-brain learners excel at the following:

  • Big picture thinking
  • Visual input
  • Leaps in thinking
  • Concepts
  • Differentiation through color
  • Humor
  • Unstructured thinking
  • Awareness of options
  • Pictures (storing information as a unit rather than as parts)
  • Music
  • Metaphors
  • Intuitive thinking
  • Creativity
  • Rhythm
  • Holistic thinking
  • Synthesizing
  • Subjective thinking

If your child exhibits strengths in one or more of these areas, they may be a right-brain or visual-spatial learner.

  • Drawing / Art
  • Computers / Video Games
  • Theater / Showmanship
  • Fashion / Sewing
  • Music / Dance
  • Building / Legos
  • Math / Numbers
  • Puzzles / Mazes
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Jul 06

Memory

Does your child have trouble learning or remembering their math facts? My child does. She has dyslexia and it makes it hard for her.

I have tried various techniques and tricks to help her. It amazes me that she knows the words to her favorite songs and can even recite the dialog of her favorite movies, but just cannot remember her math facts.

I finally decided to look for online math flash cards for her since she is an auditory/visual learner. I realized she needs flash animation to capture and hold her attention. Let’s face it, playing  fun online math games are way better than having Mom flash the fact cards.

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Jun 23

Unschooling

There are so many varied styles of homeschooling that it is impossible to bunch everyone together. That flexibility to teach your child the way you choose is important.

At my house, we use a mix of unschooling and eclectic studies. We do so because it works for us. If you are not familiar with the term “unschooling,” you might want to do a little research. It is far from sitting around doing nothing. It is about making choices that compliment your individual learning styles without formal, traditional, or maybe I should say “restrictive” structure. It is about living and learning at the same time–interest driven, delight driven, or natural learning. It is the freedom to learn in a more natural way…, which does not necessarily mean a more irresponsible way. Unschooling does not mean that my child never uses a textbook or takes a class–she does.

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Jun 05

Staying Current

Even though it is summer, your child does not have lose any of the skills she learned during the school year. It is easy to keep her creative academic juices flowing.

Here are a few suggestions for staying current:

Encourage your child to read silently every day for at least 30 minutes.

  1. Read to your child every night.
  2. Ask your child to help you in the kitchen. The kitchen is a super place for learning math. They can convert measurements as they practice fractions, weigh things, measure things and so on.
  3. Challenge your child to read billboards when you are out running errands. See if they can find words they don’t know. Have them look them up when they get home.
  4. Tell your child they are responsible for helping with the grocery shopping. Teach them to comparison shop according to price. The cheapest item is not always the cheapest. Teach them to compare by dividing the price by the quantity, weight or however it is packaged in order to decide what the best price for a particular product actually is.
  5. Encourage your child to write letters to the grandparents and thank you notes to sharpen their writing skills.
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May 26

Reading Pyramid

Have you ever seen a reading skills pyramid? It visually depicts the patterns of concept acquisition that children follow in becoming successful readers up through third grade. This guide helps take the guesswork out for you, the parent.

According to the reading pyramid, a third grader reads at 114 words per minute, continues to build his vocabulary through daily reading  practice, knows fact and opinion and can explain cause and effect. They can also handle confusing passages or words and ask clarifying questions.

Reading and learning to read should be fun for your child. If it is not, try to analyze the causes and find solutions.

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May 09

To School or Not to School, That is the Question

I don’t know about you, but we have always schooled year round so that precious learned skills didn’t become weak from too much time off. We also school through most of the holidays that the brick and mortar schools take off. We generally take a day or two off, but not a whole week. It has always worked for us. However, this last year, for the first time since we have been homeschooling (6+ years), we took the summer off, and I am considering taking a little more time off for holidays. .

I actually enjoyed taking a much-needed break from schooling year round. It was so refreshing not to have to make lesson plans or teach a lesson. I guess you could say it was “freeing”, not that I don’t enjoy homeschooling. I guess everyone needs a little break now and then.

So what kind of schedule do you use? Do you homeschool year round or stop during the summer? Do you take a week or more off during holiday times? How is it working for you and your kids?

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Apr 27

Rock Collecting

Have you ever used any of the following idioms?

  • as solid as a rock
  • between a rock and a hard place
  • be on the rocks
  • rock bottom

Rocks are everywhere. Many kids enjoy collecting rocks. I love rocks and I am a grown-up. My daughter loves to pick up rocks when we are traveling to various places. She tries to find unique rocks.

You can find rocks along the side of a quiet country road, by a river stream, in your backyard, or at the local park. You might even want to plan a rock hunting field trip if you get serious about rock collecting. Lots of people collect things–rocks, stamps, spoons, coins, dolls–just to name a few.

So think about teaching a unit on rocks.

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