Author Archives: Sharon -Admin

About Sharon -Admin

Homeschooling mom of 2 active youngsters in the suburbs of Mobile County.

Summer Reading

As our children have gotten older their love of reading has grown. Back in January I chose the book Holes, by Louis Sachar for our 6th grader to read. He complained about it a bit, but once he got a few chapters into it he seemed to enjoy the story and finished it in just a few weeks.

At the beginning of each summer I carefully select 6-8 books of various genres that are at or a little above their reading level and let them choose two to read over the summer. For our daughter, who will be entering 4th grade, I gathered books like Pippi Longstocking, The Baby-Sitters Club Mysteries, Ten Kids, No Pets, the Mandie series, and the Animal Ark series. Well she was having nothing to do with the books I had chosen and told me they were all too boring. She wanted something with more adventure off her brother’s bookcase. After browsing his shelves for just a few minutes she quickly chose Ferals, by Jacob Grey. While this book is a little dark for her age-wise, it is at her reading level and is full of adventure so hopefully she’ll love it.

For our soon to be 7th grader I chose Where the Red Fern Grows to be his mandatory summer reading book, and then he chose One Eyed Cat, by Paula Fox from a selection of books I had chosen. Our son has been stuck on reading The Warrior series, by Erin Hunter, and anything about Greek Mythology or Percy Jackson for the past year. I’m quite happy to have him branching out and reading a few different things between the other books he loves.

Did you miss my previous post on Encouraging Summer Reading?

***This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for more info.

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Posted by on May 30, 2017 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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Mid-Year Curriculum Update

This year we changed things up quite a bit curriculum-wise for our 6th grader. If you read my post Our 2016 – 2017 Curriculum Plans then you may remember our 6th grader had a full line-up of workbooks plus online curriculum. Around October I realized he was greatly lacking in his history knowledge and I was struggling to find a way to make the subject fun and memorable. (History is my least favorite subject.) Researching online I stumbled upon the Acellus Academy homeschool program. I tend to research things to death, so I watched MANY of the sample lessons and talked to fellow homeschool parents in online groups who also use Acellus.

Acellus Academy is an online video lesson program where students watch videos of a teacher teaching a lesson, then answer 5 – 20 questions after the video. A typical day’s lesson may include 3-5 videos, depending on the length of the videos. Best part of all? It’s an app you can download to a laptop or tablet, and the children can wear headphones so they aren’t disturbing others.

On Acellus, our 6th grader is taking:
6th Grade Math (once a week)
6th Grade Language Arts/Reading (5 days a week)
6th Grade Science (3 days a week)
Ancient Civilizations (2 days a week)
Middle School Health (2 days a week)
Middle School Finance (2 days a week)

In addition to Acellus, he’s continuing to take:

Saxon Math 7/6 (4 days a week)
Easy Grammar 6 (3 days a week)
Switched on Schoolhouse Spanish (3 days a week)
Spelling City (4 days a week)
IXL online (2 days a week)
Computer Coding

All in all, most of the book work he now has is the Saxon Math. He likes math, but like most kids, he doesn’t want to spend a lot of time doing problems. It takes coaxing, prodding, and sometimes even bribery to get our son to complete the number of math problems Mom deems appropriate.

Fast-forward to this week, we started our 3rd grader on the Acellus Academy homeschool program as well. I had noticed her watching some of her brother’s science and health lessons she seemed to really enjoy them.

Here are the courses our 3rd grader is taking on Acellus:
3rd Grade Math (once a week)
3rd Grade Language Arts (5 days a week)
3rd Grade Social Studies (3 days a week)
4th Grade Science (2 days a week)
Ecology (2 days a week)
Fine Arts – Music (2 days a week)

In addition to Acellus, she’s using:

Horizons Math 3 (4 days a week)
Sequential Spelling (LOVE this spelling program!) (5 days a week)
Easy Grammar (3 days a week)
IXL online (2 days a week)

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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Curriculum


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Our 2016 – 2017 Curriculum Plans

This school year our children will be in 6th and 3rd grade. Well, those are their “official” grades anyway. (More about this at What grade are you in?)

This will be our 6th year homeschooling; wow time flies! Before I list what curriculum we’re using this year, let me preface this by telling you I know some people would go crazy without having an all-in-one curriculum. If this is your first year homeschooling then I recommend an all-in-one curriculum for your sanity. The curriculum we’re using I’ve found to work best for our children’s learning styles.

For our 3rd grader we’ll be using:

easy grammar 3Horizons Math 3
IXL Math (online)
Khan Academy (online) for additional help & instructional videos
Switched on Schoolhouse Language Arts (trying this out for the 1st time)
Easy Grammar 3
Spelling City (online)
IXL Science (online)
Harcourt Science 3rd grade
IXL Social Studies (online)
Learn Our History dvds
Typing Teacher (online)

For our 6th grader we’re starting on:

math lukeSaxon Math 7/6 & Teaching Textbooks (haven’t decided which one we like best yet… they’re both new to us this year) *See update below
IXL Math (online)
Khan Academy (online) for additional help & instructional videos
Easy Grammar 6
Spelling City (online)
IXL Language Arts (online)
Reading Comprehension 6
IXL Science (online)
Science Is…
IXL Social Studies (online)
New World History & Geography (Abeka)
Switched on Schoolhouse Spanish (1st & 2nd quarter)
Computer Coding (online) (3rd & 4th quarter)

scratch games

IXL online consists mostly of practice questions/answers, but it’s a wonderful resource to assure we don’t miss an important topic. What’s even better is we have access to all of the grade levels at once! This is hugely helpful when a child is ahead a grade level in some subjects, but not in others.

For reading both children have daily silent reading requirements and read-aloud several times a week as well. Both children also keep a writing journal throughout the year. Their typical writing assignments include poetry, fairy tales, idioms, short essays, book reports, etc. This is simply what works for us.

This year our children are also enrolled in these classes outside of the home:

  • American History – co-op (3rd grader)
  • Plant Biology – co-op (3rd grader)
  • Literature – co-op (3rd grader)
  • Chemistry – co-op (6th grader)
  • World History – co-op (6th grader)
  • Art History & Elements of Art – local artists (both children)

***Update 9/2016: We’ve decided on Saxon math for our 6th grader. He didn’t like doing his math on the computer and now that he’s been using Saxon for a few weeks I’m in love with it. 🙂

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Posted by on June 26, 2016 in Curriculum


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School During the Summer?

Whether you choose to do year-round schooling or not, sometimes it’s nice to go at a different pace for the summer months. There are many different ways for children to continue learning over the summer without even calling it “school”.

Summer Projects:

Teach your child how to code! They’ll have a blast learning how since it’s more like playing a game than “learning”, plus it never hurts to know more about computer programming.
Our favorite websites for learning to code are: Scratch and  These are geared towards all ages, so even adults can practice and learn how to code quickly. There are examples and an assortment of projects for all levels, so the challenge never ends.

2015-12-29 10.50.08  2015-12-29 11.35.30

Work on science projects, science experiments, engineering skills, life skills (lawn care, cooking, automotive care, etc.). The list is limited to only what you can imagine.

Here are some links you may find helpful.

Engineering Ideas

Science Experiements

History & Geography Projects

Summer Camps:

Music camps, art camps, science camps, sports camps, theater, dance, and gymnastic camps, and so on. For those living in the Mobile area the possibilities are endless. Check out MobileBay Parents for a list of available camps.

summer reading 5thgradeSummer Reading:

We can’t forget about summer reading! Our children are both pretty good about reading daily, but for the summer I try to make sure they expand their interests a bit more and try other things.

Here are some of the books we’re reading this summer. The Greek Gods book I’m reading aloud to them and the I Love People is a writing/thinking book I have both children working through together.

There are many Summer Reading programs available to help encourage your children as well. The Mobile Public Library has a great one, plus there’s the one from Barnes & Noble where your child can earn a free book.

Summer Schedule:

A typical week-day in the summer when we’re at home looks like this:

2016-05-25 11.31.04

This is a simple checklist I use to make sure we stay on track.

  • Wake up (typically 7 – 8am)
  • Listen to music, read, draw, or play in their rooms
  • 9am Read with Mom (I read, they listen, we ask questions and discuss after each chapter)
  • Get dressed, eat breakfast
  • Morning chore
  • Play outside
  • Write & Draw/practice Cursive (twice a week)
  • Math/Language Arts (twice a week)
  • Social Studies/Science (twice a week)
  • Eat lunch
  • Electronics time (I break up the electronic time into 1 hour segments)
  • Art
  • Read Aloud
  • Outside chores
  • Play a board game/card game
  • Silent reading
  • Electronics time
  • Play with Legos
  • Afternoon chore

On the days when we have VBS, music camp, martial arts camp, etc. our typical day looks like this:

  • Wake up (typically 7am)
  • Get dressed, eat breakfast
  • Morning chore
  • ———-> summer movie, visit the park, VBS, etc.
  • Play outside
  • Outside chores
  • Silent reading
  • Afternoon chore
  • Read with Mom
  • Electronics time (typically this is right before dinner)

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PE isn’t a Real Subject… is it?

As homeschooling parents, one of the often overlooked subjects is Physical Education.

But is PE a “real” subject?

Of course it is! It’s also very important for a child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Learning to stay active as a child will also help a child remain active as an adult.

There are many studies which show regular physical activity helps reduce stress levels and provides for a better night’s sleep. Don’t believe me? Check out these links: Kids Health and Exercise for Children and 10 Benefits of Physical Activity

Physical activity for children doesn’t have to be typical sports like baseball, football, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. There are also activities like:

  • swimming
  • tennis
  • martial arts
  • gymnastics
  • dance
  • fencing
  • horseback riding
  • golf
  • ice skating
  • roller skating
  • laser tag
  • bowling
In addition to being great exercise, martial arts helps with self discipline, respect, and confidence.

In addition to being great exercise, martial arts helps with self discipline, respect, and confidence.

Keep in mind many sports are seasonal, while others are year-round. No matter which activity you and your child choose, make sure they stay active even in the off-season.

In our family we are quite partial to martial arts. I just can’t say enough great things about how much karate has helped our children. Sure they’ve learned self-defense and have greater flexibility and muscle strength, but the most important lessons they’ve learned are discipline, respect, focus, and confidence. My very wiggly, “can’t sit still longer than two minutes” 6 year old became a focused and calm 7 year old after just a few months. I highly recommend martial arts for ALL children, (it’s not just for boys). The benefits are for life!

Can’t afford to pay for special classes for your children?

family fun run

Our daughter, age 5, walking with my husband in a kids fun run downtown.

No worries! Try some of these ideas:

  • Schedule 20 minutes twice a week for your family to walk around the neighborhood.
  • Go for a family bike ride.
  • See who can do the most push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks.
  • Have a hula-hoop contest. See which member of your family can hula the longest.
  • See who can jump rope across the driveway first, or see who jump rope the longest without tripping.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt at the local park or around your neighborhood.
  • Go Geocaching. If you plan a route where there are many geocaches you’ll get plenty of exercise by getting in and out of the car frequently and seeing who can find the geocache first.
  • Enter the whole family in a Family Fun Run or Walk-a-thon. Most of these everyone walks and/or runs at their own pace.
  • Go roller skating on their cheap-skate day/time (often this is only $4 per skater)
  • Take them to a jump house place like Pump-it-Up, House of Bounce, Jumps-a-lot, Kangaroos, etc. on a regular basis.
  • Join your local YMCA. They offer family memberships which include swimming pool and gym access, plus many other benefits. Staying active as a family is well-worth the cost.

The key is to actually get out there and do it. Children watch what we adults do. If we’re sitting on the couch day after day and aren’t interested in going for a 20 minute walk, why should they be interested?


Haven’t seen an activity your child would be interested in yet?


Ice skating (and roller skating) is great exercise. It also improves balance, coordination, and confidence.

As parents sometimes we just have to give them a little push. Schedule a time for them to go for a walk or bike ride with friends. Offer to take them bowling, roller skating, or to play laser tag with friends. Think laser tag isn’t physical? Ha! You obviously haven’t played it. There’s a lot of fast-walking, ducking behind obstacles, poking your head around corners, crouching down to avoid on-coming fire, etc. Trust me, you’ll be sweating after 1-2 games. We try to go every couple of months and use it for report card rewards as well.

While ice skating isn’t available year round, roller skating is! Both activities will improve balance and coordination. Plus working all those different muscles takes a lot of energy. Invite some friends. Exercise is ALWAYS better with friends. Even for us adults!

Horseback riding helps build core muscles, strengthens leg muscles, improves balance, coordination, and focus.

Horseback riding helps build core muscles, strengthens leg muscles, improves balance, coordination, and focus.

When it comes to getting children active, horseback riding is often overlooked. I think most people consider it a leisure activity, but really it takes a whole lot of muscles to stay balanced and seated properly when walking, trotting, turning, and stopping a horse. It doesn’t matter whether your child is interested in English or western style, both will improve your child’s physical and mental health.

How much exercise should my child get each day?

According to the CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, 60 minutes each day. Think it’s not possible? Don’t worry, it IS possible! It just takes planning it into your family schedule gradually. Start with the above tips, slowly adding in some activities several times a week and go from there. Oh, and if your child begins complaining they’re tired after an activity, that’s okay. It’s GOOD to be tired after exercise. A child who has worked hard exercising will work up an appetite and sleep better.


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Posted by on March 11, 2016 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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Benefits of Standardized Testing for Homeschoolers

standardized test - ITBSThough some states don’t require standardized testing, many cover schools (aka umbrella schools) require standardized testing yearly. There are many varying opinions on the pros and cons of giving standardized tests to homeschooled children.

I rode the fence for a while because we homeschoolers often don’t stick to teaching what is expected at certain grades. For example, you may plan to teach Alabama history to your 3rd & 5th grade children the same year rather than teach one child at a time. In most public and private schools however, Alabama history is taught in the 4th grade. If you were to give a standardized test to your oldest child, a 4th grader, he would be certain to score lower in the Social Studies section simply because you hadn’t covered Alabama History yet. As long as you take that into account and don’t stress over it, it’s not a big deal.

Some of the most common standardized tests given to K-12 are the Stanford Achievement Test, Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), and the California Achievement Test (CAT). Commercial test publishers developed standardized tests to give you a snapshot of the academic skills and abilities of a large number of children in the same grade level. Many people think standardized tests indicate how your child compares academically to grade-level expectations, but really the test shows how your child compares to other children of the same grade level, during the same time-period. (7th month of grade 4, for example).

standardized test2 - ITBSEven if your cover school doesn’t require standardized testing, you should consider having your child tested every 2-3 years starting around 3rd grade. (Though there are tests for the younger grades, I personally feel the hours spent testing puts too much stress on such young children.)

Think of standardized testing as a way to reassure yourself, your spouse, and other family members that your child is learning on-par with other children at their grade level. The key here is to go into testing with the knowledge that your child will very likely be below average in some areas, average in some areas, and above average in some areas. The results are simply comparing your child to others in the same grade and does NOT reflect on your child’s overall intelligence, nor your teaching ability.

How should you use your results? On the days you’re short on teaching time, work on the areas your child scored lower in. Don’t forget to use a variety of teaching methods that include listening, reading, writing or drawing, and hands-on elements when applicable.


standardized test1a - ITBS

Sample results from a homeschooled 3rd grader.


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Posted by on December 22, 2015 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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Curriculum Plans for the 2015 – 2016 Year

As August is quickly approaching I’ve been gathering our books and jotting down plans for the upcoming school year. Our oldest is starting 5th grade and has stayed on target or a little ahead of schedule in most subjects. Our youngest technically started 2nd grade in February (the joys of having a late birthday), but for ease of explaining what grade she’s in we’re considering her to be in 2nd grade this coming year.

5th grade booksFor our 5th grader:
Harcourt math (we’ve moved on from Horizons math since we needed better instructions on the “how” behind the math), IXL math (online), Khan Academy (online)
IXL language arts (online)
Easy Grammar 5
All About Spelling, Spelling City (online)
Literature K12 level 5 (this is our first time using this curriculum… we’ll see how it goes)
Writing K12 level 5
Music K12 level 5
Art K12 level 5
Vocabulary – Sylvan, Spelling City (online)
Reading Comprehension – Sylvan
Social Studies – unit studies
US History – public school book & online resources
Science – unit studies & ABeka Health grade 5

2ndgrade booksFor our 2nd grader:

Horizons Math grade 2, IXL math (online), Khan Academy (online)
IXL language arts (online), Daily Language Review
Shurley English 2 (grammar)
All About Spelling, Perfection Spelling
Horizons Phonics & Reading, Explode the Code
BJU Reading 3
Social Studies – unit studies & Famous Americans
Science – Lifepac, ABeka Health grade 3
Music & Art – assorted online resources




daily weekly assignmentsAs for when to do which subjects… that’s where the planning and organizing comes in. Obviously all of the subjects can’t be done on the same day. Otherwise we’d be doing lessons and school work for 8+ hours a day.

Subjects like math, reading, writing, and spelling are done daily, while grammar and science are twice a week. Music, art, and health are typically once a week subjects. I use a simple system of post-its on the books to keep track of which books are done which day while planning. Then I can list my plans in Evernote (or a notebook if I’m feeling old-school).

You’ll notice I like to use multiple resources for teaching some subjects. Some things, like IXL, are simply for practice, but not geared towards learning new concepts. Resources like Khan Academy and Spelling City are great for teaching, practicing what they learn, and then applying the knowledge in their book work.

So, this is my basic plan curriculum-wise. It may change a bit as we get past Christmas (things always seem to evolve as we go) but staying flexible is key. Hope your school year planning is going well.

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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in Curriculum


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Encouraging Summer Reading

summer readingDon’t let reading stop just because it’s summer time. Here are some great ways to encourage reading:

  • Keep books easily accessible to your children. Put some on a bedside table or on a low, reachable shelf.
  • Take your children to the library frequently.
  • Visit a bookstore (or browse an online bookstore) together. Ask your children which books look interesting to them.
  • Don’t worry if your child only wants to read comic books, or books about a specific topic. Let them choose the books and they’ll be more enthusiastic about reading.
  • Consider e-books or audio books as well. Some children do better with listening to a book, and then gradually will become more interested in reading.
  • Surprise your children with a couple of books they would be interested in. Even better, have them shipped to your house with your child’s name on the package. All ages enjoy getting surprise packages in the mail.

nonfiction books

Have 5th grade or older children? Select 2-3 books you want them to read over the summer in addition to the books they want to read. Don’t forget to include both fiction and non-fiction. Maybe a biography and some poetry for example. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get a child to read a topic they aren’t interested in. Don’t give up though. Simply give calm encouragement and bribe them. “Bribe them to read?!!” Yes. It’s easy and there are no downfalls (except maybe for your pocketbook.)


reading rewardsGive small rewards for finishing each book. Inexpensive things like notebooks, colorful tape, special pens, small toys, etc. Most of the rewards we use come from the $1 section at Target or were found on clearance. For older children you can use rewards like a trip for frozen yogurt, a movie rental, iTunes song, etc. As long as the reward comes quickly after they finish their book (immediately for younger children) and within 48hrs if possible for older children it doesn’t really matter what you use. Just choose something you know your child really wants. I try to stick to the $1 – $2 range for a single book and $5 – $6 range for 6 books (for my older child). Adjust this however you need for your children and their reading needs. Reluctant readers do better with a reward after every book.

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Tracking Grades and Why I Create Report Cards

math testWhy Keep Track of Grades?

Tracking grades helps me have a record to look back on to see how the children have progressed in each subject.

In some states keeping track of grades is mandatory, however many states (such as ours) require only attendance records and mention nothing about grades. It’s up to you if want to record your child’s grades. Some parents use a portfolio which may include samples of their child’s best work, photos of projects, a list of field trips, and a list of any community service work their child has done. Other parents record numerous tests, daily grades, project grades, and so forth.

I don’t recommend grading every piece of paper your child completes, nor do I recommend putting a large amount of emphasis on the grade for each test or project. It’s more important to encourage a child to do their best, follow directions, and use neatness. For this reason I rarely discuss grades for individual projects or quizzes with the children. After a written test they immediately want to know how many they got wrong, but this is typical for everyone, no matter our age.

science social studies exampleHow Can I Grade Subjects Like PE and Art?

I keep track of grades from tests, oral quizzes and project grades for most subjects.Then at the end of the quarter every subject gets a daily work grade which is usually decided based on these three factors:

1. Completed daily assignments on-time
2. Neatness
3. Followed Instructions

For subjects like PE where there typically isn’t any written assignments I grade the children on:

1. Participation (always trying their best)
2. Attitude (willingness to do what is asked with minimal complaining)
3. Following Instructions

These same factors can be applied to Art or Music as well. Don’t be too easy or too hard on your children. Think about their work from an outsider’s perspective. Did they really put forth effort and try their best?

What do I Use to Track Grades?

Some people use a teacher record book or homeschool grade book.

Other families use an app like Homeschool Helper, which can be really helpful if you have a tablet or smart phone. (I’ve used it only briefly, but I liked what I saw).

I use a spreadsheet software called LibreOffice Calc (it’s very similar to Microsoft Excel). Any type of spreadsheet software should work. When I first open a new document I rename the tabs at the bottom my children’s names. Then each child has their own page.
Next I list the subjects across the top and simply copy/paste the subjects to the other children (modifying any that may different for a child in a different grade). After that it’s simple to list the date on the far left and each graded item under the subject column. Be as specific as you want to be. I’ve found giving more details helps me when I look back a few quarters later.

grades example sm

Example of spreadsheet with grades. Note the child name tabs at the bottom.

As you can see above, I put the final quarter grades in blue. For the next quarter I just skip a few lines and then keep going. It’s much easier to keep all of one year on a page, plus if you name the document Grades 2014.2015 or something similar you can easily find the year you’re wanting later on.

I HIGHLY recommend putting a copy of your child’s grades in a cloud storage place such as Google Drive or similar. Computer hard drives go bad, lightning strikes, and all sorts of mishaps can happen. A backup of their grades in a cloud storage will allow you to retrieve their grades from any computer no matter where you are, all you’ll need to do is log-in to Google.

Why Would a Home-schooled Child Need a Report Card?reportcards 2014

While a report card isn’t a NEED for most homeschool families it sure has its benefits.

#1 Our children have answers ready for the inevitable question of, “What did you make on your report card?”

#2 Local rewards for As!
Get a free doughnut at Krispy Kreme for each A (up to 6 for free). Get a free Happy Meal at select McDonald’s for straight As. Get a free game of laser tag at Lazer Zone for straight As. I’m sure there are other places that give rewards for As, but these are the ones I know of.

Get your own report cards.

Get your own achievement certificates.

Do you do things differently? Have any suggestions or comments? Please leave a comment.


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Posted by on December 21, 2014 in Record Keeping


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6 Things Homeschool Parents Forget to Teach

#1 Independence

“The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.” – Frank A. Clark

Ready for her 1st AWANA meeting.

Sometimes children get this “deer in the headlights” look when they don’t see their parent, grandparent, etc. in sight. This is acceptable at ages 4-5, but once they get to age 6 and higher they really need to learn to be okay with having another adult in charge. Some of you may think this is obvious, but for many homeschooling families the children just aren’t left with any adults other than the grandparents or another close relative.

Here are some easy ways to help your children get accustomed to not always having mom or dad in the room.

  • Have the kids join a co-op class where you are NOT in the room. Perhaps you help in another room at co-op instead.
  • Take them to Sunday School regularly
  • Take them to Vacation Bible School (I know it’s only 1 week, but they will learn some independence in just that 1 week.
  • Let them join Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, AWANA, American Heritage Girls, 4H, or one of the other clubs that meet regularly.
  • Sign them up for a summer day camp, or similar week-long half day or whole day program.

#2 Basic Safety Knowledge – Not Just 911

boy confusedToo often homeschool parents put off safety knowledge until their children are older. But why? Children age 4 and up should know their full name, birth date, parent’s first names, parent’s cell phone #s, and their address. Think this is too much for a 4 or 5 year old to know? It’s not! Try putting your phone number or address to a favorite tune. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they learn it.

For children age 8 and up: be sure they know the phone number of a nearby relative or neighbor you trust. A list of important phone numbers on the refrigerator is a great thing to have as well. Just make sure it’s low enough for the children to easily see it and keep it up to date. Things happen and it’s best to have your children well prepared.

Add to this, children as young as 3 should be taught about gun safety, fire safety, and water safety. When visiting friends and family it’s very easy for young children to come across a gun if it isn’t locked out of sight. Don’t assume others will keep your child safe. Teach your children the skills they need, so they’ll know how to react in advance.

#3 Speaking Skills

Make public speeches a regular part of learning. Perhaps have your child stand up and recite a poem or sing about prepositions in front of their grandparents or in front of a co-op class. Don’t let this be just a once in a blue moon activity though. Requiring it at least once a month would be best. Children need this very important life skill. This will help them build their confidence, learn to speak clearly and at the correct volume, as well as how to make eye contact with the audience. Start them young and they will continue to improve as they get older.

#4 Organizational Skills

organized studentChildren need to learn to be responsible with their books, papers, art supplies, sports equipment, etc. If you are always packing their bag for them or cleaning and organizing their work space what will they do when they get to college? Would your child lose some important book or paperwork if you didn’t organize for them? Perhaps, but it would be a valuable lesson learned and in cleaning up their own stuff they can find what they need.

I’m not suggesting you leave them to their own devices, but help them find ways to organize things. Suggest ways they can organize books on a bookshelf, or have them help you re-organize the kitchen cabinets. Here’s a great article that may help. Organizational Skills If you’re looking for a book to help you teach your middle-high school age child organizational skills I recommend The Organized Student.

#5 Finance

Understanding finance is important for everyone. From a very young age children should be taught the importance of money. They need to understand how hard it is to earn it and how to use their money wisely. Too often parents teach children to “save” their money when they should be teaching them how to “invest” their money. I highly recommend the book Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids
Also, here’s a brief list of some great financial books and blogs for teens: Financial Reading Your Teen Won’t Tune Out  Don’t worry, they aren’t all books.

#6 Making Friends

gardeningwith friendsThis might seem very basic, but for many children making friends is difficult. While some of the homeschooled children I’ve met are quite outgoing, others just don’t seem to have the skills it takes to approach an unknown child and start up a conversation. Teach your child to approach another child with a smile and say something like, “Hi, I’m Sarah, what’s your name?”  Then they could say something like, “Have you seen the movie ________?” (a popular new movie) or “I really like your _________.” (hair, shoes, shirt, necklace, etc.)

After basic introductions teach your children to invite others to come play with them by saying something like, “Do you want to play basketball?” or “Anyone want to have a turn on my ______ game?” (tablet or smartphone game).

Role playing while teaching these scenarios is the key to getting your child more comfortable with meeting others. Start off pretending to be your child while he/she pretends to be another child. Go through some of the scenarios above or create your own, then reverse roles. It may always be difficult for them to make friends, but with practice it will get better.

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Posted by on September 13, 2014 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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