Saturday, June 29, 2013

School on Vacation

That trip I talked about to Orlando in my last post?  It's just something I slightly thought about doing, but it's going to happen after all.  My youngest sister T is here from Costa Rica with her family.  A relative passed away and they came for the funeral. So her family has decided to visit our other sister D in Orlando, and they asked my family to join them. We're leaving today!  My other sister D and her daughter K were here a few days ago and left with our daughter S.  Even though our daughters had not seen each other in years, they were so happy to see each other and play together.  They're close in age and just love being together. Our daughter is overjoyed to get to visit with her cousin.

We're packing and getting ready now to drive up to Orlando for a few days.  My niece just called me.  She wants to know if it's okay if they go on our daughter S's Time4Learning account so they can do some school.  This made me smile.  "Yes, of course, honey. You can do some school together."  Now what mom would say no to that!  I'm sure once S gets on the computer, she'll also want to play some keyboarding games with her cousin.  She loves playing games on the computer, so why not make them learning games, right?

My sister has had some concerns about kids using the internet.  We both have older kids, so we know the dangers involved. Like us, she keeps the computer out in the family room. We've talked about internet safety for kids and have applied some of the safeguards suggested in articles we've read.  I don't know what we would do without the internet.  It's an integral part of learning and working in our home.  My kids in high school, college and elementary all use the computer.  I don't know how homeschoolers did it without computers.  That brings me back to when I first started homeschooling and I purchased a whole set of encyclopedias.  My husband was so happy the day I donated them to the library.  There are several books in addition to the encyclopedias that I donated, because the information they provided were easily accessible on the internet. However, having said that, there are plenty of books I would never get rid of, fiction and non-fiction. There's nothing like curling up on a couch with a good page-turner.  A real book! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Schools Out!!!

School's out!!!  That's what I keep seeing on my social sites and hearing from our nieces and nephews who attend public school. Well, not here in our home. We just got back from our homeschool convention a few weeks ago. We had a wonderfully relaxing long weekend. But you know what? I'm still feeling like we need to take some more time off.  My sister just called me this morning to tell me she's finally in Orlando. She just moved from Montana to Orlando, Florida. I think she's going to need some help unpacking some boxes. ;)  And maybe we can reward ourselves after unpacking with a trip to one of the parks.

I think it's mostly my son and I that are feeling most burnt-out. He's still working on finishing his Algebra 2 and Anatomy.  Also, he will soon be getting some SAT writing help with an online tutor.  My daughters, on the other hand, seem to be fine. My oldest is dual enrolled in only one college class for the summer (Psychology), and finishing up Anatomy with me at home.  My youngest is doing her online summer school, which she enjoys.  I'm still working with her on her reading comprehension and playing spelling games.  It's not unusual that we school through the summer.  So the kids are used to it.  

We do have a holiday coming up. 4th of July!!  So I think we should start planning a short trip to Orlando.  It's really only a 3-hour drive for us.  I'd also love to see my sister and her family. Montana was too far away for us to visit much as a family...and a bit too cold for this Floridian. :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Homeschool Statistics

We attended our State homeschool convention a couple of weeks ago.  It was held at a very large hotel, which was filled with homeschooling families.  I have friends who couldn't get a room a couple of months before the convention because there were none available. The last night of the convention the students had a graduation dance.  The following morning the Graduation ceremony was held. There were more than 300 graduates. And I'm sure that only a small number of our state homeschool graduates attended and make up this number.   I am amazed  at how much the homeschool community has grown in the last 12 years since we started homeschooling.

As the homeschool community is growing, myths about homeschool are being disproven.  Homeschool statistics indicate that students  educated at home score in the 65th to the 89th percentile, while students who are traditionally educated score in the 50th percentile.  More and more colleges and universities are recruiting students who are home-educated because of their well-known dedication and high achievement level.  There are many homeschool-friendly colleges.  As for the question of socialization, homeschoolers who have the opportunity to interact with siblings, parents and have options to attend groups with students of all ages are far better communicators and more well-rounded.  In the real world we are not confined to an office or a room with 30 other people who are our own age.

So if you're considering homeschooling your children, or if you have been homeschooling and still have family members who are skeptical, don't worry.  The proof is in the pudding, as they say.  I have family members who used to test my kids when we visited them, drilling them with academic questions.  I remember one summer how my son impressed one of these relatives by solving the Rubic Cube, and he was only 10 years old at the time.

If you're thinking of homeschooling, my advice is educate yourself on your State laws on home education.  Find all the information you can from other homeschoolers on their experiences, the curriculum that is available for you to choose from, and support groups that you can join in your area.  We all have different ways of learning, so read up on homeschool learning styles to find out what your child's style of learning may be.

Homeschooling frees us from the educational and social chains that bind us from exploring, learning and growing individually.  Let me leave you with a great video I found of homeschoolers in Bulgaria.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Summer Lessons

If you've read my previous posts, you may have figured out that my favorite subjects to teach are Language Arts, grammar and reading.  But have you guessed that my least favorite is math?  Years ago I made the mistake of saying out loud, with small ears listening, that I don't like math.  I think that affected my children because they say the same thing.  And in retrospect, it's not that I don't like math, but that I've lost my practice in math.  I actually remember having a good math teacher in high school who made math interesting.
With my older kids, I switched math curricula too many times.  We started with Miquon Math, changed to Abeka, changed to Saxon, changed to MathUSee, and then changed back to Saxon in high school with my son because that's what his co-op class is using. My highest recommendation for math is to stick to one math curricula, especially around 6th grade and beyond. 
The hardest thing for me has always been fractions. Yet a few weeks ago, as I watched my youngest daughter doing her math fraction lessons on her Time4Learning, it was like I was learning it all over again and it was clicking in my brain so easily.  Please don't laugh at me.  I know fractions should be simple for most adults. Maybe it's just me!  Also, I'm pretty visual, so seeing the pictures was helpful for me.  Oh, wait, we're talking about curriculum for kids.  Yes, it was very helpful for my daughter, too.  One of the things I love about her math lessons is if she answers a question wrong, the program is prompted to explain the concepts to her in different ways until she understands it.  
As I've mentioned before, we usually do light school work through the summer, especially in elementary.  Most importantly for math.  I cannot imagine not doing any math for two or three months.  But I also cannot imagine not reading or writing for two or three months.  Math is a subject that should be practiced every day, even if only for 20 to 30 minutes. 
What are you doing this summer?  Do you do some school through the summer? I think most of us are, even if we think we're taking time off.  Every day can have a learning experience in it.  For example, Spring is a time when most of us do some planting and working on our gardens, Summer can be a good time to do a short plant lesson with the kids.  Even if all you do is plant the seeds in the ground and watch them grow, isn't that a learning experience?  Our neighbor has an avocado tree, and she's always giving us avocados. One year we took the seed, placed toothpicks all around it, and placed it on a cup filled with water. Weeks later it had roots!  We planted it in a pot, and my son used it for his 4-H project a few months later.
There are so many things we can include in our Summer that can add to our learning experiences.  Don't forget to take pictures!