Monday, April 21, 2014

Mapping out your Homeschool needs

No one starts the homeschool journey in the same place,so its hard to give specific directions. The amount of variables per family are as numerous as the choices available. So while it is good to get advice from others to narrow it down, the only way to find what works is trial and error. This may seem daunting but it can be enjoyable. Homeschooling to me has become a journey not a destination. You don't need to have it all perfectly laid out planned to get started,...chances are a week in you will change it up anyway.
             Learning Style
  A great blog I found to help understand learning styles is   http://dirtbetweenyourtoes.blogspot.com/ look under getting started. Once you understand different learning styles you can start to classify your child or families needs. It may even be a mix. Ours is a mix of Charlotte Mason, Montessori, and we even use computer, and Tv a lot too. I DVR PBS shows and them plug them in when the theme fits. We like unit studies, and my kids enjoy crafting so lapbooking has been fun. Just about any curriculum can be tweaked to fit different styles of learning as needed per child or subject.
           Curriculum
  I suggest getting catalogs from a few places. Sonlight, (love this for science)My Fathers World, Heart of Dakota, Winter promise, GeoMatters, Timberdoodle(currently using gallop the globe for world geo) Tapestry of grace, These are unit study or themed type programs that blend history, science, literature, sometimes geography and art. These can be used with multiple age groups. One of the reasons they make my tops list. The other reason these stood out is they cycle through history themes chronologically. Meaning your children will go back through each usually three times if you start using from early1st or K. Each time at a different level. I have heard this called bus stop approach when teaching multiple ages. As a child goes through for the second and third time the material that is duplicated for them would be a review while intro or intermediate for younger siblings. The older child would then continue with assignments that dig a little deeper. Usually the upper grades are working much more on their own and a lot more reading and writing involved.  I  also use these catalogs often for book lists and then just get books at the library. While you cruise through these catalogs keep in mind one box does not fit all, a little here a bit from there is just fine. Ebay, Abe books, Amazon and homeschool share can save you a lot if buying used. I have found rainbow resources to be the most competitive and well rounded when purchasing new.
           The Basics
  You usually will need to add in math and phonics when doing unit studies and really these are the basic required skills. I have found Abeka, and Horizons to be popular choices and they come with teachers manuals if you need support. We did use Abeka in early K but found as a box (meaning 6 subjects) just to much seat work. Very thorough and not a bad place to start if you need to be coached through in the beginning.       
  What has worked best so for my family was workbooks from schoolzone, no teachers manuals and no real instruction. Just basic worksheets for basic skills. Full color matte paper, easy to erase but engaging. The "big" books they carry cover multiple levels and come with a Cd rom for computer games. I found this a great reward tool. 
  For math we use place value blocks and other manipulatives like they you in "math you see". You can always use beans, cars, coins, skittles, or cereal. I have found edible props in math get some attention.
 When it come to phonics/reading and getting hands on I have found a few games at Oriental t
Trading C.O. that have worked well. they are a great source of classroom type goodies. A lot of things are sold in bulk so if you cab find a buying buddy even greater savings. Scholastic has a huge selection of word family books. You can make word wheels, or slides on your own as well.
   I have found with my children the more senses you can involve the better they retain info. Anytime you can get bodies moving, food involved, crafts, or little outings really brings lessons alive. This is one of the great freedoms in home school. You don't have to be at home. Even a blanket in the yard or tent in a room can add excitement for a child.

                  No Commitment
    I love print as you go. Lapbooks, worksheets, cut and paste, Montessori cards, and color pages. I tend to find freebies on various websites just by searching topic + free printable. (I will have a website/blog list of favorites soon and will update here then) I also value T.P.T. (teachers pay teachers) and Curr-click both sites offer downloadable PDF's to cover almost anything, some freebies and great sales if you sign up for newsletters and follow sellers. It is useful to have an external memory box, (about 30 bucks) A good printer and a laminator. These tools come in just behind a library card on my must have list.

                               Little Hands
   For children that are not ready for a "curriculum" per say. Child who may not read or write or just not show interested in sitting still with a pencil. It is never to early to start. Learning is often found in the most simple daily tasks. While involving children may make this task less simple LOL. Ask anyone who has baked with a three year old! Involving children in things helps not only prepare them for the real world, but establishes an early foundation in the parent as teacher role. If you are short on ideas here or need some spark Williamson publishing has a great books. LittleHands  ( This is an Amazon affiliate link to a book list. If you order anything from Amazon by using this link I will earn credits. Please consider changing your current Amazon bookmark to this page above. It is a simple way to help a Mom out. I have another Mom's affiliate bookmarked for my shopping as well. :)

                 Legal
    Legal requirements can be found per state at http://www.hslda.org/ There are many support groups online and you may be lucky to find a good local group.

             Attitude is Everything
    Support is a great start. Patience and forgiveness for yourself, friends and family, not just your kids but other family members who might just not get it. Everyone has different reasons for this adventure. You can, but do not need to explain yourself to everyone. Wear your badge with pride even if you are still in sweats and have not seen makeup in a week,..or month.
  We will all hit hard times and go seeking the nearest bus stop to send them away. Things are not going to be perfect, what did your last pintrest project REALLY look like? No amount of space, books, technology, degrees or even desire will do it alone if your attitude is not there. You and your child are both entering a new world. Together you will have ups and downs. Its called learning not knowing. Enjoy the journey!! 
   I would love to hear about your successes, failures (they can be quite funny in retrospect) and help you find answers to questions you may have. Thanks for stopping in and be sure to sign up for email alerts. I will be doing several giveaways this summer, just another way to pay it forward. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Brain Pop Giveaway!

We have been using Brain Pop and Brain Pop JR. in this house for a few years. If you do not know about Moby you are missing out! They have great videos,games and educator links for help in lesson planning. Topics cover all subjects, science,history,math and language arts. This giveaway is for a free month to both Brain pop and Brain pop Jr. Even if you are not a homeschool Mom this would be a great summer tool to keep the wheels turning.
  The boys love the silly jokes and animated movies. I love being able to trust what the kids are watching with out hovering. No adds or links to outside sites. Great for all ages.
  I have not figured out how to launch that fancy copter yet LOL so we will do a name pull from all who link up to follow my blog. 

Big Questions

I am a homeschool Mom with boys ages 9 and under. When my son came to me last year with very big questions, big bang vs 7 days and Darwinism vs creation I was very taken back. He was listening to what I was teaching, and it was coming from two worlds and I did not know how to connect them. While we were reading the bible and matching stories geographically and even historically things seemed to lone up well, (at first look) but when it came to science??? So many gaps. I quickly answered well god was a scientist like you and perhaps God and his lab made a big bang? However when on an egg hunt at at church he mentioned to another mom that Adam and Eve could have been apes. I giggled inside at how he had formed this idea, the fact he was so willing to open the conversation and that in his brilliant Asperger's world he had no idea how offensive this was. She did not hear him clearly and shrugged him off with the typical oh uh huh ok.....OR atleast that hat I had hoped. However this took me to the drawing board looking at what curriculum we had been using, what did I want to teach him and more importantly what did I believe?
   While I did attend various churches growing up, I am not nor have I ever been strongly connected to any religion. I am believer in one simple idea there is good and bad, life is a balance and I will always walk in the light. There is life after this world and we were put her to prosper. I teach my children they have a light in their heart, we call it our Jesus light. When ever you are in need all you have to do is invite Jesus in your heart,and let your light shine bright. We say blessings at dinner and pray for friends in need. I was baptized by a hairdresser, (true story) and my children were christened by my grandfather. This was however not enough anymore. The questions my children have deserved to be answered and we were going to find the answers together.
    In many months of digging and reading we came to adopt a young earth theory and focus on creation. We came across many great products, answers in genesis,the zoo and aquarium guides http://www.answersingenesis.org/store/product/zoo-guide/  Exploring creation series from fullbright and apologia, these were a great addition to the shelfs. http://www.apologia.com/index.asp?proc=pg&pg=4
My older son who loves exploring classification of creatures enjoys the format for research.
     We also pulled a few DVDs Incredible Creatures that defy Evolution, and while studying dinosaurs last summer with sonlight science we added in Dragons or Dinosaurs. This movie sent us digging on into the world archeology and the digging for the truth series. Another wonderful tool was the Johnathan Park series. http://www.jonathanpark.com/It is audio and was unsure how the kids would take it,....what a great way to get some quiet! They actualy have to sit in listen. Great for lunch time
     I am know researching animated bible stories and have a few up my sleeve, so keep your eye out for that!
     Kids are always going to have questions. It does not make us any less qualified when we do not have the answers. I have learned the homeschool is not just something you do,...its is something you grow into as a family. It is the most fabulous journey I could have ever imagined having. Something you hear at my house a lot is "good question!" we write it down in a journal tittled just that and dig in right away,when time allows or save for when the dull drums hit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time 4 Learning


I am at it again. Now that my bookshelf's are full I am trying to balance with a little student lead electronic education.  The tablets, apps, games and computer clubs. My kids much like any other enjoys technology.
  I have looked into and used a few over the past year.

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Our Month is almost up!!
I have used this site for almost 30 days. My two monkeys are almost 6 and 9. Busy bodies who need something to do ALL the time. This had been a great addition to our day.
  The cute characters, animation and audio keep the kids attention. They look forward to earning playground time after lessons. Playground is an incentive built in that allows games and songs to be played and you can set timer.
    As a parent perk, this is kid driven! Less time for me spent hovering and helping. I do enjoy reading with the kids and doing science and history. We do math where my oldest struggles together. Lets face it we can not teach hands on all day. Someone has to do dishes, laundry, chase babies, cook, and ....write this blog. I am able to check in on kids progress from the parent dashboard, see what lessons have been completed and how they scored when scores are given. I also like the flexibility in grade level per subject. My kids are all over the place in skill level and having access to three levels at one time per subject is great. This is by far the most flexible and easily customizable program I have seen yet.
 
  The only suggestions for improvement I had was being able to bookmark lessons,..if you stop mid lesson and have a prolonged break it will log you out and you will have to start over. Bookmarking for parent review and being able to visit areas children struggle in lesson as well. You are able to see specifics on quizzes just not in lesson points.

 Overall it has helped me fill the gaps, reinforce skills, and keep a finger on my children's skill levels across the board.
 I have used reading eggs, ABC mouse, K12 and sampled switched on schoolhouse. (to name a few)
 For such engaging material in a range of subjects with the ability to plan and track. The price can not be beat.
                        You can try 14 days for FREE

Click Here For Trial

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Montessori,Charlotte Mason, Classical ?????



I have seen the question so many times. What curriculum is best for a wiggly kid? Mostly Moms who are new to homeschool,.have very active children who have been "labeled". In my opinion active bust children are intelligent curious children. Kids are not supposed to sit still! Its against nature. I fought this battle in the beginning trying to make home like school. We were miserable. One of the things we have enjoyed is Montessori methods. Lots of sensory involved, hands on, truly connecting the child to their world not just a pencil. Found a great contest today for those of you to get more info and connect with the Moms who know. Check out the pintrest boards these will keep you and the kids busy all summer.

http://livingmontessorinow.com/2014/04/03/4th-blogiversary-giveaway-montessori-print-shop-montessori-at-home-products/comment-page-6/#comment-167118

For more info on methods and how to find the best learning style for your child check out this blog
http://dirtbetweenyourtoes.blogspot.com/
Keep in mind you can adapt any curricula to meet a style of learning that best fits your needs, you may add a little or take a little away. Just as each child is unique the way they learn and the way you teach will be unique. Enjoy the journey!