Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Homeschool Plan and Goals

Our daughter S just had her evaluation.  She did better than I expected. She has improved overall in math and in reading, which includes vocabulary, spelling and reading comprehension. After last year's evaluation I decided to focus most on math this past school year. So I'm happy to see that it made a difference. Math is the most difficult subject for her. This year we will continue to work  on her math, but we also need to focus on writing this year.

I'd like to follow some guidelines on a writing standards overview.  Up to now, she's been doing copy work, focusing on spelling, capital letters and basic punctuation. She's also been journaling, but only to put her ideas on paper without being concerned with mommy grading or correcting her journal. This year I want to help her organize her thoughts and put them down on paper. We'll work on basic sentence structure, verbs and nouns, break up run-on sentences with proper punctuation, and maybe even work on some simple short poems.  We'll incorporate what we find from the writing standards overview into our homeschooling lapbooking writing.  I've already planned on lapbooking with our homeschool science curriculum.

For my older kids, Time4Learning has just added homeschool high school to their program, and we are so excited. I'm especially excited to see they are offering Economics/Personal Finance and Geography. Although we covered geography in elementary and middle school, I think we need to cover it again in high school. And of course, Economics and Personal Finance is essential. I'd like to also teach them to budget. They've both started working part-time, so now is a perfect time to help them learn to invest in others by tithing, invest in their own future by saving and how to spend their money wisely.

So what are your goals for the new year?  I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Homeschool High School Interactive Multimedia Curriculum

Homeschool Highschool Curriculum
Here's some news. Time4Learning, a long time supplier of an interactive multimedia online curriculum for homeschoolers, has expanded. Until now, they've been very popular for PreK- to 8th grade but have not had a high school offering.

This week, they announced a complete online interactive high school curriculum available for this school year.  They say that it'll be up and running by mid August.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Science at the Museum

It's been some time since we visited our local science museum.  For a couple of years we volunteered at the Museum of Science working in the garden with a few other homeschooling families.  We'd get together once a month to help keep the garden clean.  The kids really enjoyed this because they were with a group of friends, we were taking learning outside of our home, and they were serving the museum by cleaning and maintaining their garden. I think this is when our son developed a love for gardening.  It was rewarding and gratifying to see the change in the garden over time. Our first day there was shortly after a hurricane, so the garden was a huge mess.  The kids and some of the parents worked on gathering and discarding the debris caused by the hurricane, weeding, cleaning foliage, planting new plants and maintaining old plants and trees.

So now I'm toying with the idea of getting a group together again to go back to the museum. It would be fun for our daughter S as a supplement to her science curriculum.  We could cover some things that are in her curriculum overview for this year like ecosystems and living things and how they interact with one another.  In addition to working in the garden, the staff at the museum also provided a room for us and a short lesson covering either plants we were working with, a topic we were covering in our own science curriculum, or different exhibits that were being featured at that time in the museum.  I'm thinking we can use some of this teaching time in the classroom to do some lapbooking together. The more I think about it, the more excited I get about it. 

Speaking of excited, there were some changes in my older son's homeschool class options this year and I wasn't sure what we were going to do for science and math. As you know from my previous posts, math is the one subject I don't teach, especially at the high school level. I've been weighing all our options and wasn't sure what we were going to do. So here's where the exciting part comes in. We just found out that Time4Learning has added an online high school curriculum. We've always been so happy with this program. This couldn't have come at a better time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Learning Disabilities

There are so many resources for teaching our kids at home now.  Because we've been homeschooling so many years and we've tried so many different curricula, we receive several curriculum catalogs from different companies.  There is one in particular that is thicker than our Yellow Pages Directory.  I can see why it's difficult to decide what curriculum to choose or to resist temptation to switch curriculum when what we've been using is working just fine. I'm not going to say perfectly, because there is no such thing as a perfect curriculum.  I often cringe when I hear or read someone's criticism of a particular curriculum to another homeschool parent simply because what may have been a bad choice for one child, may work nicely for another. 

It was most difficult to find just the right curriculum for our daughter S, who has learning disabilities or learning challenges. While I've heard parents say that a particular curriculum has too much repetition, it is precisely what I need for my daughter but had not found until we started with Time4Learning. Not that it's repetitive, but that it allows us to choose to repeat a lesson as often as necessary.  A child with Down syndrome needs lots of repetition.  Before finding Time4Learning, I was wasting paper and money making extra copies of worksheets for her to repeat lessons until she fully grasped a concept.  The lessons online have made it so much easier. It's also a plus that she's easily picked up some computer skills and feels so comfortable using the computer. When she's done with her Time4Learning, on her own she will switch to her literature games online or her spelling lists by grade that we've created for her. 

Though it can be tempting having so many choices, it's encouraging that we have so many resources and options available to us. We all have different learning and teaching styles.  The catalogs are good to read through, also, because they offer free detailed product reviews. If you cannot sample a curriculum before purchasing it, I suggest you read several reviews from different sources. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

4-H

We're still visiting with my family in Orlando. Living with my two sisters and their families under one roof.  We're actually having a wonderful time together. Altogether we have 9 kids in the house. We have 14 kids between the 3 of us sisters, but the kids that are not with us are adults and stayed home with their own families, or are working or in school. 

So we are now at the mid-point of our vacation.  Tomorrow is the 4th of July.  Because there are so many tourists here in Orlando at this time of the year and traffic is CRAZY, we've planned to stay at the house. We've purchased our own safe fireworks and Sparklers for the kids.  We've planned our meals for tomorrow.  Now we're just praying for good weather.  It's been raining every day this week for a few hours each day. Florida weather is very unusual.  Some of our older kids will be coming by to hang out with us, which will be nice. There's a game called Monopoly Deal that we all love to play together.  So we're looking forward to that.  

Time is going by too fast.  We all have a lot in common and yet are different in other ways, but we get along great.  Taking turns cooking and cleaning has not been an issue. We like the same kinds of food. Our kids like to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  So that makes planning meals and snacks easy.  I brought a bag full of mangoes and avocados from my tree and my neighbor's tree.  Mango is my favorite fruit. My son grew this mango tree from a seed of a mango that we had. He enjoys gardening and planting fruit trees.  He started very young when we joined a homeschool 4-H club. It was a wonderful experience for all of us in more ways than one.  My daughter learned about horses, and went on to take lessons in English Riding and then volunteered at a ranch with children with special needs.  My son learned science about plants and took that further as he grew trees and plants in our garden.  We all made new friends who are still in our lives today.  Our 4-H group was very diverse as we had African American homeschoolers, Latin American homeschoolers, and one homeschool family who were American, but had just moved back to the States after 6 years of living in Africa as missionaries.  That's one of the things I like about living in Florida.  It's a melting pot. 

Now, because we're on vacation, we only have one computer to share between 3 families.  My daughter and my niece are waiting for me to get off the computer because they want to play some keyboarding games.  The boys are all in the game room playing on the XBox and playing pool.  And a few of the adults and the older kids are going to play Monopoly Deal.  So I'm off to play and have some fun.