Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Painting A Picture

Teaching a visual-spatial learner keeps me on my toes in making learning fun and creative.  We're working on reading comprehension now.  Teaching a child to read is the first step. The next steps to making a good reader are teaching the child to understand what they've read and to predict what may happen next in the story.   As I read to my daughter, we often stop, close our eyes, and picture what we just read. I will help her paint a mental picture of the scenario we just read.  I have her do worksheets to help her practice her handwriting and to help her put her thoughts or 'pictures' into words.  After reading a paragraph for which she has to answer questions on a worksheet, I ask her the questions orally first.  If necessary, I will also give her visual clues.  Visualizing the story has had a dramatic improvement in her reading comprehension.

It can be a pivotal point for a child when they can paint a picture of what they are studying, whether it's a mental picture or a picture on paper, and whether it's for reading comprehension, mathematics, or science.  The pivotal point for my daughter came when she started using an interactive animated online learning program.  Time4Learning provided her with pictures she needed to understand or make that connection.  She could now remember what she had seen on the computer screen.  She was now not only hearing it, but seeing it pictured as well. It was different than reading it herself in a textbook or just hearing me teach it to her.  She was getting that third element that she so needed. She was now visualizing it. She could now retain and bring back to memory the pictures she had seen. Learning started to become interesting and fun for her. We can take advantage of the visual elements that a computer can provide in teaching any subject or concept.  The computer is an essential tool for my visual-spatial learner.  Online interactive games, lapbooking, drawing pictures, manipulatives, educational songs, picture cards or flashcards are also creative tools we can use.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kindergarten Games

Usually kids are so excited to start school.  Each of our children were excited to start school....even though we homeschool.  They were eager to learn the sounds of letters, put the letters together to make small words, to begin forming lines, circles, and then letters. It was so exciting for me, too, to watch my kids as they learned new things. I guess that's one of many reasons I wanted to homeschool.  I got to be there when each of my kids learned to hold their own bottle, learned to take their first step, learned to read their first word.  I didn't want to give that over to someone else. I wanted to be there for each milestone.  I wanted to watch them learn.  Little did I know that I'd be learning with them too. :)

I find the first years of homeschooling the most fun.  Maybe because it's so easy to learn through play, whether the games are hands on, at the park, at home, or on the computer.  I recently read of a study done with 122 preschoolers enrolled in a Head Start program.  They were divided into two groups. One group was given 15 to 20 minutes per day to work on educational games on the computer. The second group worked on standard Head Start curriculum.  The group that had worked on the computer measured higher for Kindergarten readiness. Apparently, the use of computers not only increased their cognitive development, but also their visual and gross motor skills.

I use Kindergarten games online.  My daughter loves interactive games.  We use games for alphabetical order, phonics, vocabulary, keyboarding games, math.  I have found that with a subject like math, using some of these learning games helps to reinforce a concept we've covered in her math lesson.  I've had my daughter play a literature game after reading a book together to help with reading comprehension.  The computer has been a huge benefit for our family.  After reading the results of that study, I am even more encouraged by the use of the computer for schooling our children, but especially our daughter with Down syndrome.  

Friday, March 08, 2013

Homeschooling

Although homeschool statistics inform us on the number of homeschoolers and the increase from year to year, the best indicator for me is the number of families attending our state homeschool convention each year.  I was amazed at the huge number of families that filled the resort hotel at our last convention.  A few reasons families homeschool may be discouragement with the public schools, the cost of private schools, safety concerns, personal or faith convictions, special needs.  Your reasons may even change over time.  We homeschool for many reasons...but that's another blog post.

While parents have options of educating children at either a public school or private school, if you choose to homeschool, you also have options.  You can choose to attend a co-op or an educational program for homeschoolers, which is usually once a week.  Another option for homeschoolers is an umbrella school. Or you can simply choose your own homeschooling method for your family to do on your own at home.  

Just to name a few homeschool methods, we have the eclectic, literature-based, classical, textbook-based, notebooking, unschooling, classical, unit study, computer-based or online, and lastly there's the Charlotte Mason.  These are just a few.  I'm sure I missed some.  You can also choose to combine some of these, as we do.  The important thing is that you find what works best for your family.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Homeschool Highschool Graduation Celebrations


Lets Celebrate our Homeschool Graduations Together
Lets Celebrate our Homeschool Graduations Together

If you are a homeschooler graduating this spring, you should think about ways to celebrate. 

You can both celebrate  as a family and publically as part of a larger homeschool community.

LetsHomeschoolHighschool.com has  a list of statewide graduations for 2013 for  homeschool seniors.

Consider your options. Maybe you and a few other homeschooling families want to do a small group. Or you might want to be a small group within a larger community. It's nice to know your options!

And thanks to homeschoolonline.org for making me aware of this option for group celebrations of homeschool highschool graduations.



Friday, March 01, 2013

Around the World - Geography

Much like reading opens up a whole new world for us, in the same way geography opens up different cultures for us.  Learning can be so much fun, which is why I love homeschooling.  Geography is often included in studying history.  However, geography, taught on its own, can be so interesting.  It's also necessary with so much going on politically around the world right now.

Through our homeschool support group we have participated in an event called Around the World where students choose a country to speak about.  Students will speak as a family or a team of families or friends.  One year we chose to speak about Spain.  We have family in Spain, so we were able to get some costumes of Flamenco Spanish dancers for our girls to wear. Our son dressed as a Spanish bullfighter, otherwise known as a Matador. That was easy to put together on our own. We did a study on the climate, population, foods, cities, and culture of Spaniards.  Each of the kids picked a topic to speak on and did their own short presentation.  We had a table set up with a poster, money from Spain, Spanish foods and candies.  Not only was it fun putting it all together, but it was interesting to learn of all the different countries presented by all the families.

There are so many ways to make learning geography easy. If your student likes drawing, why not have him map different sections of the world.  Have a globe and a children's atlas easily accessible for everyone.  Hang up a world map where it's visible, and as you read or 'visit' different cities or countries, mark it with a tack. Maybe even mark the different cities or countries where you have family, friends or pen pal.  Play games searching for different cities or countries.  Use geography lists to play fun games on the internet and to create a Bingo game.  Keep a world puzzle out on a table to work on together.  LearningGamesforKids has some simple and fun geography games.  A fun game to play together is Where in The World.  I like to keep books on our living room table.  I'll switch them up every week.  So why not include some books with pictures of far-away places. Geography can be so much fun!  If you have any ideas or things you have used, please share with us.