Friday, October 25, 2013

Enjoying Science

The holidays are coming upon us. Some of us will be taking breaks. Our family tries to take a break from Thanksgiving to the new year.  However, as homeschoolers, we never completely stop learning. And since we also have teenagers now, they can't always take time off from all of their subjects. So we may still do a little work here and there through the holiday season, or even learn through our daily activities.

There have been times that we've taken very short or no break at all, and I can tell you that between preparing for the holidays, having family visiting or visiting family, it was a recipe for burnout. When burnout has happened, a good anecdote has been taking a field trip, participating in community service or an event that is set up to serve others, like Operation Christmas Child.

Something my children enjoy and helps with the hum-drum of daily work is science experiments. Science experiments are a great way to get kids together of differing ages and incorporate some hands on learning, whether we homeschool preschool or are homeschooling high school. We invite my kids' friends over and can easily have kids ranging in ages from 5 on up to 17. The older ones help with the younger ones, and enjoy it just as much as the younger kids. It's easy to find simple experiments on the internet or at the library.

It's not always easy to plan ahead for science experiments; therefore science can sometimes become a subject that is not studied in depth, is studied through textbooks alone, or even skipped altogether.  A homeschool science curriculum is not only essential, but can make learning more enjoyable.  An online science curriculum can still provide the visual of a science experiment with online simulations and scientific processing skills, especially if we don't have the supplies needed for experiments. This is one way to ensure they're investigating, exploring, experimenting and learning to love science on a regular basis. Our students can be engaged in science experiments without mom and/or dad having to prepare lessons or gather supplies. Of course, there are times we can still do hands-on experiments, but these virtual experiments are engaging and thorough, and can include vocabulary activities, note-taking, worksheets and testing.

As I mentioned earlier, as homeschoolers we learn through everyday activities. Science can be brought into the kitchen as we prepare a meal or make edible science experiments such as an edible Graham cracker earthquake or phases of the moon with Oreos.
How about you?  What kind of creative or edible science experiments have you done?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thinking About Homeschooling

As a veteran homeschooler of six children,  I love it when people tell me that they are considering homeschooling. Not because I think everyone should homeschool, but because I know the great joy that awaits them once they begin that journey. It’s often in October, once the first report cards come out that many parents realize that school isn’t working for them.  Besides August, October is the month for the largest amount of school turnover. In my opinion, October’s a great month to get started!  You see, homeschooling though it’s tough and it requires a lot of personal sacrifice and just plain hard work is a huge investment. Investing in your child’s future and their education is worth every headache and every inconvenience.
I believe that anyone that sets their mind to homeschooling can do it. Whether you are educated or not, love teaching or not… there are so many options, so many homeschool trends,  and so many different ways to homeschool, that it has become easy to be a success!
As a homeschool newbie, I thought that homeschooling had to look just like my classroom did when I taught in school…children in neat rows, with books open while reading and working silently. HA! That vision disintegrated within the first few months of homeschooling all my kiddos! Moving from the preconceived ideas that I had of education and opening my mind up to the various innovative methods that homeschoolers use really set our homeschool free. I began to ask other homeschoolers what they did. I looked at research and information online and found homeschool forums where I could ask other homeschoolers pertinent questions. It all began to make more sense. Homeschoolers are really truly free. Free to educate as they please and free to learn at their pace and in their own interest-led way!
If I were to give one piece of advice to someone new to homeschool it would be this…Don’t be afraid of being different and doing what fits your family and your children.  So, if you are entertaining thoughts of homeschooling your children look around, ask questions, and investigate. The more you know the more informed a decision you can make. Though not everyone might feel “cut out” to homeschool, homeschooling is the most flexible and most personalized way to learn. You just might be surprised at how much fun it is!



Bio – Jamie and her family live in the Deep South and love enjoying iced tea on the front porch swing. Married to her high school sweetheart for 20 years she enjoys homeschooling with her six children. As a previous school teacher/principal she understands the shortcomings of systematized schooling and loves to share about the joys of homeschooling. She is currently an educational consultant and a freelance writer for Let’s Homeschool High School, Time4Learning, Online Education for Kids, and MomSCHOOL.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Coming soon: Guest post by Jamie Gaddy

One of my favorite bloggers has agreed to write a guest post for us.  Jamie is a veteran homeschooler who has many gems to share with her readers.  I'll be adding her post in the next few days, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, please allow me to introduce Jamie Gaddy:

My high school sweetheart/husband of twenty years and I have six children. We started homeschooling in 2004, and just recently graduated our oldest daughter, who is now enrolled at Mercer University. Homeschooling is probably the most rewarding task I have taken on… but it is also the most challenging! I am a veteran school teacher of 14 years, I also have 3 college degrees… all that to say that homeschooling is still challenging even for the educated parent. Yet, every day holds its joys!

We have six children ages 17, 15, 12, 12, 8, and 6. Needless to say our house is always busy, always crazy, and we are always headed to the grocery store! I retired from teaching when we made the decision to homeschool all of our children. It was a good decision, and though I still tutor and teach college courses… we never looked back! I also enjoy freelance writing for Let's Homeschool High School, Time4Learning, Online Education for Kids, and MomSCHOOL. My husband works for a local charter school and is a Pastor at our church. He is a great supporter and encourager of our homeschool endeavors! We couldn't make it without him!

New To Homeschooling

I was visiting some friends last night and was introduced to a very nice lady who was there with her two daughters. She's in her first year of homeschooling her younger daughter, about 7 years old. Her 12-year-old daughter was sitting next to her mom and I was curious as to the reason why she was choosing to homeschool the younger, but not the older daughter.  As discreetly as I could, I asked her.  She explained that her daughter doesn't want to be homeschooled, that she's very ambitious and very smart. Daughter has already selected the colleges that she'd like to apply to, and both are afraid these colleges may not accept her if she's been homeschooled. Mom would then feel at fault for hindering her daughter's career goals. Her daughter also added that she has friends in school and doesn't want to leave that behind.  As we continued in conversation, I was impressed by how well her daughter was communicating with the group of adults. We were in a group of four homeschool moms.  So naturally, we spoke about homeschool statistics and how more and more colleges and universities are actively recruiting homeschooled students.

The more daughter talked, the more I thought to myself that she would benefit from homeschooling.  There was so much she wanted to achieve. She mentioned several extracurricular activities that she would love to get involved with, but doesn't have the time because of her schedule. We spoke about the many homeschool resources that are available to us. They recently moved here from Italy. The family speaks 3 languages.  Daughter spoke with ease about all the things she wants to accomplish. I hope she excels in school and continues to grow.

As for the younger daughter, they are extremely happy with their choice to homeschool.  They've joined a local support group and local co-op.  They're making many new friends and learning new things. They're happy with their co-op and the time they get to spend together.  Mom asked some questions about homeschool requirements.  A couple of the moms in our group are military homeschoolers. It was interesting to hear of the different requirements for the different states they have lived in.  It's always interesting to hear how different homeschooling can be in different states, especially if you live in a small town where there may not be many homeschool families.  We have a very large homeschooling community where we live. What is it like to homeschool in your town?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Vocabulary

I'm doing as much reading as I can with our youngest daughter, even choosing books to read about math.  I've found vocabulary games very helpful for her. One of her favorites are Literature games because we use the words that are in the book we're reading for her to practice. So when she comes across them in her book, she already is familiar with the words. We've been reading Madeline.  She loves any books that are about girls.  She loves the Madeline movies, too.  I also add these words to spelling practice and have her make flashcards to carry on a big ring when we go out. She loves playing with cards in general, so I take advantage of that little fact to make some cards for her that she can really use in her learning.  On Wednesdays she writes sentences using her spelling and vocabulary words.  This is still a little bit of a struggle for her.  I try not to exasperate her. So if she's having too much trouble with some words, we'll carry them on to another week. Sometimes all the words, sometimes only a few.

As we're focusing on comprehension, right now she's having difficulty with understanding analogy.  I've tried different ways.  I think it's just going to take a little more practice and repetition.  Even while we're out running errands, I'll practice analogy vocabulary with her. I think she'll get it in time.  She just needs more practice. 

This is one of the beauties of homeschooling.  She can work at her own pace. We are able to challenge her without exasperating her.  The online learning games and vocabulary games really help to make it fun for her. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Homeschool Down Syndrome

I can't believe we're already in October!  In honor of Down syndrome awareness month and because I have a daughter with Down syndrome, I want to share a little of our experience.

Each individual with Down syndrome is unique. Individuals with Down syndrome vary in their abilities and their related medical issues.  You may have seen actors with Down syndrome, like Chris Burke, Sarah Gordy, and Lauren Potter.  Thanks to early intervention programs and therapies like speech, physical and occpational therapies, individuals with Down syndrome can do almost anything a 'typical' person can do.  Many individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities or challenges are going to college.  We shouldn't place limits on our children with special needs.  They need to be challneged just like any child, which is one of the reasons we chose to homeschool Down syndrome...or to homeschool our daughter with Down syndrome. 

Children with Down syndrome can be and should be included in extra-curricular activities such as dance, soccer, karate, cheerleading and acting. Our daughter has enjoyed participating in a homeschool ballet class for the last 3 years and in a physical education class.  She's also learned to read, is learning to write well and is learning math. We just need to repeat concepts more often than I did with our other children.  She loves the computer and can easily navigate the learning web sites we use.  Not because I taught her, but because she taught herself.  Because she's a visual learner and she needs a lot of repetition, the online curriculum for all her subjects, including our homeschool spelling curriculum is the best choice we've made for her education. In addition to her curriculum, we spend a lot of time reading good literature for homeschoolers.  We often read together.  When she reads alone, sometimes I'll ask her to tell me what she read so she can get her thoughts together.  Once she's expressed herself out loud, it's easier for her to write a short paragraph.  Reading is her favorite pastime, besides dancing and singing. She can get lost in a book for hours.

Again, all individuals with Down syndrome are unique. So while my daughter loves to read, her struggle is with math. I've met children with Down syndrome whose strength is math. So each child with Down syndrome is different, just like each typical child is different.