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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?

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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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How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

This is an AWESOME visual way to see how homeschoolers measure up!

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up
Source: TopMastersInEducation.com

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2013 in Getting Started

 

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Keeping it Real – Changing the Pace and Being Flexible

children on aframeWell another year has come and gone.  Once again I have learned many things along the way.  I’ve learned to not push ahead when we’re having a bad day.  Instead it’s better to change the pace and choose a different activity for a while.  Some ways we do this are to play a board game, put together a jigsaw puzzle, do a simple art project, watch an educational show on DVD or Netflix (National Geographic and the History Channel have some great ones).

Another thing I’ve learned is to be more flexible.  Home education requires quite a bit of flexibility because children bring many surprises to life.  Children get sick, have dentist appointments, eye exams, and those dreaded injuries that require a doctor visit ASAP.  (Earlier this year our 5 year old somehow stepped on a rusty nail that went through her shoe and cut her toe.  We had to squeeze in a trip to the doctor for a tetanus booster into our already planned out day.  She was fine, but better safe than sorry!)

Occasionally YOU, the teacher, will have a headache, lose your voice, or get the flu.  These are the days it’s better to just smile, say a prayer, and lounge on the couch.  The children might enjoy reading books to each other or watching National Geographic on these days.  Our 8 year old will proudly tell anyone about the deadliest creatures in the world from watching “The Deadliest Dozen” many times on Netflix.

You may be wondering how to catch back up after taking time off for a prolonged illness, or too many hectic days where things didn’t go as planned.  Well, first you need to think about what are you trying to “catch back up” to?  Are you trying to keep pace with your local public or private school?  If so why?  Are you trying to finish a specific book or curriculum before the end of the school year?  The beauty of home education is you can set your own schedule and even teach year-round if you want.

color puzzleOne thing to keep in mind is the first couple of chapters of the next book will often review what was learned the previous year.  No matter how long you take for a summer break, keep reading to each other and keep talking to your children about all sorts of topics.  Discussing new vocabulary they come across in a book, places you visit, and situations as they occur are all part of the process of learning.  Children are ALWAYS learning, whether you are actively teaching them or not.  Take advantage of this by giving them materials geared towards their interests.  Take the time to answer their billions of questions or point them towards the resources with the answers.   🙂

 

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Curriculum Confusion

As a homeschooling parent who likes to research things to death, I find it so very difficult to decide which curriculum to use for next year.  It’s the sheer number of choices that always stumps me.  I want something fun, engaging and a little challenging to stimulate our children’s minds.

With 100s of different books to choose from, how does a parent choose one for each subject without having to buy and sell repeatedly to find something that works for their child?  I found this curriculum website to help me out, so maybe it will help you as well.

There are many curriculum choices that I like….. but then there are so many more that I don’t like.  One of my biggest pet peeves are the hard-core Christian publishers which feel the need to put Bible characters and Bible verses in every single subject.  I love Jesus and the Bible, but from a child’s standpoint, no child wants to copy Bible verses, read Bible stories and diagram sentences about Bible characters.  A simple daily Bible reading and memory verse is sufficient.

We are Christian parents and want to raise our children to know and love God, but we don’t want to bore them to death or shove the Bible down their throats either.  What child seriously wants to write out Bible verses?  I think it’s much better for a child to write about what they enjoy doing or places they’ve been.  Our son enjoys writing little notes to us, things like I love you Mommy or My name is Tom Riddle.  He recently put a note on the door to his room that read No more Legos for Luke (he wrote it after getting in trouble for something).  We didn’t ask him to write these things yet in writing them he is practicing his handwriting, sentence structure and spelling (he often asks us how to spell certain words).  I much prefer the more natural approach to learning.  Education shouldn’t be forced, but should be a kindling of a flame.  With time and patience a child will learn a love of learning.

So, you’re probably wondering what curriculum I plan to use next year?  Well, I already have Shurley English 2 for grammar and ABeka for reading, so we’ll most likely continue those.  For science I have ABeka, but definitely need to get something else to supplement it with.  ABeka’s science program is a bit too basic and quite repetitive from year to year.  I have no idea what I’m going to use for math, but it definitely needs to be something more challenging than what I’m using this year (Scott Foresman Math).

Feel free to share your thoughts on how you managed to wade through the choices in curriculum out there to find the ones that work best for your child.

Edit note 10/27/11: After taking some time to reflect on what I’ve written above, I feel the need to explain a bit more.  Our son is only in first grade.  So for this young of a child, I feel that writing out Bible verses and learning to read using Bible stories are not in his best interest.  For an older child (perhaps third grade and up) writing Bible verses may be a good way to help them with memorization, handwriting and spelling.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Curriculum

 

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