Jan 232017
 

VCF Exploring our worldThis week’s topic for the Virtual Curriculum Fair is Exploring Our World. I’ve been looking back through old posts about some of the ways we’ve studied history and geography. One of the things that I love about the Virtual Curriculum Fair is that it encourages me to look back over old posts. There is a lot of our homeschool history on this blog. I found that my Virtual Curriculum Fair posts are some of the best.

Last year I wrote Encouraging Curiosity About the World which focused on my oldest son and our years homeschooling him. The year before I described Unschooling Science and the previous was Raising Map Nuts. I looked at these and thought, “What can I add to this?” (Don’t worry, I thought of something!)

There is one activity that has been especially helpful for learning history in our home – reading historical fiction. Both of my girls have read many historical fiction books that they have chosen themselves from the library. I’ve let them read about a variety of historical topics in no particular order. In that way, they’ve built up a basic history knowledge with essentially no effort from me. As a result, they’ve developed an interest in various historical time periods and had a desire to learn more.

Literature-Based History Curricula

While just reading historical fiction is helpful, the love of historical fiction can be built upon with literature-based history curricula. I’ve used a couple of different history curricula that utilized historical fiction and provided a more systematic and logical approach to learning history than random library checkouts. By the way, you can read how I keep track of library books, if you have trouble turning books in on time.

The first one, Truthquest, provides books arranged by topic for specific time periods. You can read my complete review of Truthquest.

The other literature-based history program that we’ve used is Tapestry of Grace. We used it for several years when my older children were younger. We’ve started back with Tapestry of Grace this school year with my 5th grader, Lizzie. Here’s my review of Tapestry of Grace. I also have all the posts on Tapestry of Grace tagged. In addition, I have compared Tapestry of Grace to two other popular literature based history curricula: Sonlight and My Father’s World.

Historical fiction is not just for the kids. I’ve found that reading historical fiction inspires me to learn and study more about particular time periods. There are a couple of  mystery series set in World War I that I have enjoyed so much that I keep looking for more books about that time period.

 

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Exploring Our World this week:

Note: all links will be LIVE by Monday 1/23 at noon EST.

Notebooking Our Way through History by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Studying the Where and How by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

The History of Our Mysterious Struggle With History by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Social Science, Science and Exploring our World – Our Path by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

History in Our Homeschool by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Exploring Our World Through History And Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Bringing History to Life! by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

History, Living Books and the Imagination by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Exploring our world comes in many different forms. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Bible, History and Geography by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Beyond the Books – Social Studies and Science by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Exploring the World with Living Books by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

High School History & Science without Textbooks by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Exploring the World Starting with Canada by Annette @ A Net in Time

Visit The World Through Video by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Nature Study is Our Favorite Way to Do Science by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

What A Wonderful World by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Time we got Lost in the Woods by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acres

Jan 152017
 

Virtual Curriculum Fair teaching mathThis week’s topic for the Virtual Curriculum Fair is math. I love math. However, my love of math doesn’t equal a love of teaching math. I have written quite a bit about math during my years participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair. In fact, I’ve written so much, that I don’t have anything further to add to this topic today.

Instead I will share some of my previous thoughts.

In From Counting to Calculus I discussed much of what I’d learned about teaching math during my first 13 years of homeschooling.

I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t have the answers in The Post Where I Admit I was Wrong.

For some background on my math background, see How I Choose Math Curriculum.

Even though I didn’t have much new to add to this topic, I’m sure that the other participants can add a lot more to this topic. Be sure to check out their posts below.

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences this week:

Finding Our Math Equilibrium: Our Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd Grades + Free Printables! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Math Resources and Programs for All Ages by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Math (doesn’t) Stink! by Jennifer King @A Peace of Mind

When Math is NOT Your Thing by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

Math U See and All the Supplements by Laura H @ Four Little Penguins

Discovering Patterns in Our World: STEM Studies by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Junior High Math by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Science & Math for Struggling Learners by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

Maths: a subject in progress by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Taking Mathematics out of the Textbook by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acre

Maths for a Very Maths-y Boy by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Practical Math by Annette @ A Net in Time

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Math, How I Loathe Thee by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Math and Logic in Early Elementary and Preschool {virtual curriculum fair 2017} by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Low Stress High School Science and Math by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Are these toys or manipulatives? This is math? by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

When You Don’t Have a Math Plan by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Clear Horizons by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

 

 

Jan 082017
 

playing-with-wordsI would like to begin this week’s submission to the Virtual Curriculum Fair with a disclaimer. I am not an expert on special education, and I have no training in teaching children with reading delays. What I have is experience with my own 14 year old son who is on the autism spectrum. However, we have not found any perfect solutions to his reading delays, and we’re still plodding along this educational journey.

Letter Recognition

We knew that William, our 3rd child, was different from our older children by the age of 3 or 4. There were several little clues. (For the sake of brevity and keeping to the topic of reading, I’m only going to discuss differences in the area of reading and reading readiness.) One is that William was a late talker, but not alarmingly late. He liked to look at books and be read to, but at the age of 4, I realized that he wasn’t learning things that my older two had learned naturally. For example, he could sing the alphabet song, but he couldn’t  recognize the letters and didn’t know any of the corresponding sounds.

Decoding

We worked on letters and sounds for a while, waiting on further reading instruction knowing that a child must be ready developmentally in order to read. When William was about 6, I started trying various phonics programs to teach him to read. All About Spelling finally seemed to crack the code and get him started reading. (The companion curriculum, All About Reading didn’t exist at that time.)

Reading comprehension strategy

Reading Comprehension

However, reading is not just decoding. William is a pretty good decoder. What he lacks is reading comprehension. Sadly, his reading comprehension level has not improved very much over the years that he’s been successfully decoding words. His lack of comprehension has negatively impacted all his other school subjects because reading is an integral part of most curricula. Even in math, he struggles with understanding the instructions. Word problems are a big issue. A huge portion of history and science knowledge is most easily acquired by reading.

audio-and-video-curricula for reading comprehension

Moving Forward

This delay has left William with deficits in all areas of his education. I’ve tried a few different strategies and ideas over the last several years, but the main thing that I’ve done is wait. I work through his math word problems with him. He’s learned science through videos and a small amount of history from audio books. I guess I’ve been hoping that one day the reading comprehension will just be there.

reading delay strategies

I’m not saying it wasn’t a good idea to wait. However, the time has come to revisit some of the former things we tried briefly and give them more time to see if they help. I think that I tend to expect results quickly or at least some indication of positive results and am discouraged without that. I doubt I’m alone in that desire.

Strategies

Here are some things that I am or will be trying. I haven’t decided how much to do at once. Right now, I’ve only started on number one.

  1. Reading Detective – This is a program from The Critical Thinking Company. I bought this a couple of years ago and tried about 2 lessons then put it away because it was too frustrating. I pulled it out again last week and tried the 3rd lesson. As much as I want this to be an independent activity, I can see that for this to work, I’m going to have to guide him through this for a while.
  2. Immersion Reading with Kindle books – This is something I also started a couple of years ago, but with technical difficulties I didn’t continue to use it. I am ready to start this again. I know immersion reading has been tremendously helpful to other struggling readers.
  3. Visually appealing factual books – I have some great Usborne and other books that I need to subtly encourage William to read. Short snippets of text for gleaning facts that he’s interested in can help him to enjoy reading and increase his confidence.
  4. Brain Balance Therapy – I read Disconnected Kids by Dr. Robert Melillo a couple of years ago and found that his ideas made a lot of sense. Part of me wants to try the exercises, but another part of me is hesitant. I think, “What do we have to lose?” but then also worry about my trying to “fix” him. I will be looking over the book again trying to decide whether to try it.

Do any of you have experience with teaching reading comprehension? What are some strategies that have helped your student?

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are writing about Playing with Words this week:

All posts will be live by Monday, January 9th at noon EST.

Delight Directed High School English by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Act Your Part Well- 2017 VCF by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

The Search For Language by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

Our Top Picks for Language Arts by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Multiple Approaches to Language Arts in 2017 by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

How We Cover the Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Use Your Words by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

The Art of Perfecting Macarons by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Loving Languages Every Day by Jen K @ A Peace of Mind

Speech Therapy & Elementary Latin by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

The Readin’ and Writin’ Part of Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Children Who Love Books by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Customizing High School Language Credits by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

A Poetry Feast by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Teaching Language Arts without Curriculum by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

I know your pain and it is worth it! by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Language Arts: Our Style by Annette @ A Net in Time

Words! Words! Words! by Lisa M @McClanahan 7

10 Wonderful Word Games (+1) by Lori @ At Home: where life happens

Finding the Right Words by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Teaching Grammar and Writing Through Discussion by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Jan 012017
 

It’s January 1st. The first day of a brand new year always brings a level of excitement. For a perfectionist like me, it’s like a clean slate, an unmarked page, or a fresh untracked snow. I’ve been studying about goal setting over the last few weeks and I have learned a few things.

Goals need to be concrete and measurable.

You have to be able to tell if you’ve met your goal.  I may have a tendency to make non-measurable goals because if your goals are nebulous, then you can’t really fail, right? Maybe so, but with non-specific goals, you can’t succeed either. I confess that I am afraid of failure. I hate it. But while that fear may keep me from failing, it also keeps me from succeeding.

goal weekly hands-on

A measurable homeschool goal might be to add 1 hands-on activity per week. NOT Do more hands-on activities.

Goals need to make you stretch.

I could make a goal and to avoid failure, I could set an easy goal. I could set a goal that is measurable, but is something that I’m probably going to do anyway. There’s no benefit to that.

catechism goal

We have gotten stuck in memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism. My goal is to resume memorization of the catechism and memorize through Question 50 by June 1. That is not an easy goal.

Goals need to be possible.

There is a balance between stretching and over-reaching. I could make a goal of making a million dollars this year. That would definitely be a stretch. But there is not a pathway to get there. You don’t have to know every step you’re going to take to achieve your goal, but you do need to at least know how to start in that direction.

The catechism goal that I mentioned above is a stretch, but it is doable. We will have to review and memorize about 2 questions per week to achieve the goal.

Keep the number of goals small.

With a smaller number of goals, you can focus on really accomplishing them. The worst thing that can happen is you achieve them all before the year is up. Then you can set more goals!

I have not completed my goal setting for this year, but I am giving myself permission to work on them more on January 2. I intend to make goals in 5 categories keeping my total number of goals less than 10. 

Since the New Year is a convenient time for setting goals, it is also a perfect time to evaluate how we’re doing with the curriculum and plans I so meticulously laid out in the beginning of the school year (or didn’t, but meant to.)

I have been homeschooling a long time. This year is my 14th year! Homeschooling has become a very natural and automatic part of my life. It’s comfortable. But it has become a little sloppy. There are things that I know I should be doing a better job of.

virtual curriculum fair

Over the next 4 weeks I will be participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair. This is an excellent opportunity for me to take a closer look at how I used to homeschool and how I’m homeschooling now in very specific areas.

  • Are there things I used to do that I should start again?
  • Should we be moving in a different direction?
  • Am I using the best curriculum for this student?

The Virtual Curriculum Fair is also going to help me to get started working towards meeting my blogging goals for 2017, which include posting weekly. So stay tuned for more updates on how we homeschool.

 

I invite you to see how my fellow bloggers learn in their homeschools (note: all posts will be live by noon EST, Jan. 2nd):

The Evolution of Our Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Us-School Because We Are Us, Not Someone Else by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
It’s All About the School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Setting the Stage- the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair! by Lisa N. @ Golden Grasses
New Year, New Goals, New School! by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Homeschooling – A Glimpse into How We Do it by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Spotlight on How We Learn in Our Homeschool by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Our Unique Eclectic Homeschool  by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
How We Learn on the Go by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Home Education – 10 Ways We Make It Work by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Schedules, where would I be without them? by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Education at Our House by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Starting the Day Well by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Making a Change – Accountability and Responsibility Through Routine by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
A time to be encouraged is coming.. the Virtual Curriculum Fair by Annette @ A Net in Time
Loving the Moment! by Jen K @ A Peace of Mind
Keeping Our Homeschool Organized by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How We Choose Curriculum by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart
This Is How We Homeschool by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
How we don’t learn in our homeschool & how I don’t plan {2017 Virtual Homeschool Curriculum Fair} by Meghan @ Quiet in the Chaos
Learning Our Way by Lisa @ McClanahan 7
Limping Along: Our Semi-Eclectic Approach to Homeschooling by Debra @Footprints in the Butter
2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair: See How We Learn by Dana L @ Luv’N Lambert Life

Mar 212016
 

This is the last week of the Virtual Curriculum Fair for 2016 and the topic this week is the arts. I have probably mentioned that art is not one of the things that we do exceptionally well in our homeschool. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important, it’s just one of those things that gets pushed aside.

I’ve been using this time to look back over the last 13 years of homeschooling and talk about what we did right and what we’d do differently this time. David actually did a lot of art on his own, he was always drawing when he was younger and we supplied him with many books on art and plenty of supplies. Most of his talent for drawing is now used in his work on computer graphics.

Music for David was another story. When he was 5 he asked for a piano for Christmas. That wasn’t a feasible gift at the time, so we bought him a small keyboard. Not too long after that we were able to move my parent’s piano to our house. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to pay for lessons for David at that time so I tried to teach him piano.

It is difficult to teach piano to your own perfectionist child. Or at least it was for me since I was already teaching him everything else. So his formal training in piano was very short-lived. We offered to get him piano lessons a few years later, but he wasn’t interested.

That is something that I regret. I wish there had been some way to get him lessons when he asked for them or that I had insisted that he try at least a few later when we offered them. The other children have all had music lessons. Anna plays the violin and in addition to lessons this year, she has joined a youth orchestra. She helps teach Lizzie violin.

William takes piano lessons. Playing piano, especially at recitals, has been very helpful in building his confidence. His teacher has just begun teaching Lizzie piano as well.

So with all the practicing going on here, it’s not uncommon to hear the Sounds of Music in our house!

Sounds of Music Virtual Curriculum Fair

This is the final week of this year’s Virtual Curriculum Fair. Visit these other great blogs to see how they teach art and add beauty to their homeschools.

 

Chareen @ Every Bed of RosesSeeking Beauty Through the Arts
Yvie @ Gypsy RoadArt Museum Staycation & Elements of Art Unit
Sarah@ Delivering GraceFirst Things First
Laura @ Day by Day in Our WorldAdd An Element of Beauty with Fine Arts in the Homeschool
Lisa@ Golden Grasses What Are We Fighting For?
Annette @ A Net In Time Art, art, and more art
Kristen @ Sunrise to SunsetThe Sounds of Music
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee BreakMusic and Other Beautiful Things

 

Mar 142016
 

I’m continuing my look back over the 13 years of homeschooling my oldest son, David. This week the Virtual Curriculum Fair focuses on Exploring Our World. I think that my statement of Starting Gently, Finishing Strong, may be less applicable to this topic.

We did indeed start gently. We used Story of the World in the elementary years and I thought it laid a good foundation for later history studies. We used the Apologia Elementary science series and also enjoyed learning about plants and animals with that series.

I do plan to use those books again, but I think I was a bit too concerned with remembering the facts. Not that I spent a lot of time drilling my older children on history and science facts, I didn’t. But it was something that I always felt that I should be doing more of. We’ve always managed to complete the “skill” subjects while the “content” subjects took a backseat. I worried when it came to my attention that my children didn’t know their history dates.

So when high school came, I decided it was time to really get serious about these subjects and make sure that we did them well. So we muscled our way through Notgrass World History and the Apologia Science courses. There wasn’t really much enjoyment there.

Honestly, that was not what I had envisioned for high school. I wanted us to have discussions about history. I wanted my students to read real books and original source documents. I pictured complex science fair projects with original research. OK, I know I dream big.

So high school didn’t look how I’d originally envisioned. It ended up being a whole lot more like traditional school than I thought it would. But I have realized that there are 2 things that we provided throughout the years. These things were good for encouraging curiosity about the world. Those are providing

  1. Easy access to resources and information about topics of interest.

  2. Time to explore those interests.

David is currently taking Psychology at the community college. He has recently told me how much time he spent reading a book about the brain when he was around 8-10 years old. He was fascinated by the brain and how it works. He studied it so much at that time, that now, all these years later, he remembers studying many of the things he’s learning about in his class now!

David had time to read about the brain when he was younger. He had time to learn about making videos. Even in high school, he has spent countless hours researching topics for videos and making and editing those videos. He had time to spend doing things that he’s passionate about.

And the kid who never showed any interest in social science has spent hours researching the presidential candidates. It turns out he needed a reason to be interested. Aren’t we all like that? Why did I expect my kids to be interested in everything?

Encouraging Curiosity Virtual Curriculum FairYou can read other posts about Exploring the World at the 2016 Virtual Curriculum Fair.

Yvie @ Gypsy Road – Bringing It to Life! History, Geography, & Science 

Jen Altman @ Chestnut Grove Academy – Virtual Curriculum Fair 2016: Exploring Our World, How We Do Social Studies and Life/Earth Science 

Laura @ Day by Day in Our World – Learning About the World Around Us 

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses  – Social Studies a Science of Relations

Lisa @ GoldenGrasses – Exploring & Discovering Around the World 

Annette @ A Net In Time – Science and Culture Around the World and at Home

Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break –  Exploring History and Geography 

Laura @ Four Little Penguins  – Going Around the World at Our Kitchen Table

Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory – Our Tackling of the Social Studies and Science
If you have a post to share about how you explore the world in your homeschool, you can add it to the link below.


Mar 072016
 

Finishing Strong Starting Gently

Last week I talked about my somewhat unusual position of graduating my first homeschool student this spring, and starting my (presumably) last student in Kindergarten this coming fall. David, my senior, is a math natural. But teaching him math was not without struggles. In fact, there were many battles fought over math.These included getting him to write anything down and memorizing math facts. He did however consistently demonstrate understanding of mathematical concepts. He was able to study Calculus on his own in our homeschool last year using Life of Fred, but we decided to have him study Calculus again this year at the community college.

Thinking Mathematically

This post is still true for How I Chose Math Curriculum.

Preschool and Kindergarten Math – Keep it Simple

With Andrew, I’m taking a similar approach to math as we are for reading. We are doing nothing formal, instead talking about numbers. He counts. He’s beginning to add. He’s even figured out how to add numbers when the sum is over 10 with his fingers. At this point, I plan on using the same Singapore and Miquon combo math that I used with the other children in elementary school.

About Preschool Printables

You know all those absolutely adorable preschool printables? It seems like every blogger has jumped on the free printable bandwagon. If you’re like me, you might be enticed by every cute and fun looking printable that crosses your inbox. Yes, you can use them if you want to. But no, you do not need them! I give you permission to ignore them. Really. I know it’s tough, but many of those take more time to prepare than they provide in value. Before you print, think about whether or not you can practice that skill orally or on a white board.

What if my child doesn’t get math?

OK, I admit it. Everyone is not equally gifted in math. My ultimate goal is still mathematical understanding, but with my middle son, I’ve had to take a different approach.

I explain about it here in The Post Where I Admit I was Wrong.

What I Hope to Do Differently

I have the same general plan for homeschool math for Andrew as I had for David. I plan to use programs that stress exploration and understanding. I do hope that I can encourage Andrew to memorize his facts better than David did, but I also hope to do so without all the tears. (Mainly shed by me!) Math is important, and I will make sure it gets done, but I think seeing the end will help me to be patient along the way.

Here’s last year’s post for the Virtual Curriculum Fair: If I Knew Then, What I Know Now.

To read more about how to homeschool math, check out these other posts in the Virtual Curriculum Fair.

Homeschool Math Virtual Curriculum FairChareen @ Every Bed of RosesThoughts on Math and Science
Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset  – From Counting to Calculus
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World  – How We Approach Math in This Homeschool Year
Annette @ A Net In TimeStruggling with Math, Loving Science
Annette @ A Net In Time  – Lego Pulleys and Levers
Yvie @ Gypsy Road Hands – On Math with Special Needs Learners
Chelli @ The Planted Trees  – Chemistry Using Living Books
Lisa @ GoldenGrasses  – An Appalling Lack of Curiosity
Edie @ Carter Chaos  – Our Favorite Ways to Study Numbers
Tracey @ A Learning Journey  – Robot Area and Perimeter Art Project
Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life  – Math and Standardized Tests
Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy  – Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science
Sarah @ DeliveringGrace  – Learning Multiplication Tables
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom  – Multisensory Multiplication
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break  – Science and Stuff
Kemi Quinn @ Homemaking Organized  – Math in Our Homeschool for a Later Elementary Organized Reader
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory  – Math and Logic – Our Steady Path
Laura @ Four Little Penguins  – Math and Science Love

Missed the deadline? Share your link here!

Feb 282016
 

A Unique Perspective

I think I’m in a somewhat unusual situation this year. I am graduating my oldest student this spring. This will mark the end of the homeschool journey that started with him over 13 years ago. But as we’ve gone through all the college application process and getting ready for the next stage of his life, I have a 5 year old waiting to begin the homeschool journey. (Officially anyway.  Children are learning since birth.) So as I’m finishing the race with one student, I’m also preparing to start all over again with my youngest. I get the opportunity to look back over what I have done with David over the last 13 years and think about what I would like to do differently this time.

This is the first week of the Virtual Curriculum Fair and the focus is Language Arts. So I am going to start this series with thinking about language arts.

Finishing Strong

In David’s 9th grade year, we tried to do some literature study at home. And while he did read the books, overall it was a flop. Literature classes became a priority when we began to search for outside classes. Amazingly, that was just what he needed. Does he love literature? No. But the discussion environment, the concrete deadlines, and a different teacher made a huge difference. This year he completed an English composition class at our local community college and earned an A.

He was able to do well because we had built a strong foundation in English in the elementary and middle school years. We used a variety of curriculum including Rod & Staff and Analytical Grammar. I really liked IEW for writing instruction.

Starting Gently

David was ready to read at age 4 and I was a brand new homeschool mom itching to get started. So we began reading instruction. Andrew is also ready to read. But we haven’t started anything formal. We’re sticking with reading aloud and just talking about letter sounds and rhyming words. We look at words and work on sounding them out. I know now that an early start in reading is not going to result in long-lasting higher reading achievement.

I do plan on beginning kindergarten this fall and will use some of the same books I used for David, like Alpha Phonics and Handwriting without Tears, but I plan on being a lot more relaxed and flexible than I was 13 years ago. Now that I’ve made it through this marathon once, I know that it’s ok if our pace is different. There are times and seasons when much progress is made, and others where growth is not as evident. I don’t want to rush through these early years, but savor them.

This year the Virtual Curriculum Fair is hosted by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World, Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses, and Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset.

Visit these blogs to read about Language Arts in their homeschools.

Virtual Curriculum Fair 2016 Finishing Strong

Language Arts: Words Make the World Go Round by  Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

The Language Arts in Our Homeschool and Everything Relating to it   by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Teaching Elementary Latin by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

How to Learn ASL & Spanish in 20 Minutes a Day by Rochelle @ RochelleBarlow

Classical Word Study by Lisa @ GoldenGrasses

Language Arts Means and Methods by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Sprechen Sie….  by Jennifer King @ A Peace of Mind

The Art of Eloquence  by Jennifer King @ A Peace of Mind

Love Languages by Jennifer King @ A Peace of Mind

3 Reasons You Don’t Have To Be Afraid To Grade That Essay – And It’s Free @ LJSkool

High School Language Arts by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Words, Words, and More Words by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Finishing Strong – Starting Gently by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Jan 262015
 

Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links.

Missing Art?This week’s topic for the Virtual Curriculum Fair is Seeking Beauty: The Arts. Our hosts areSusan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds  and Lisa @ Golden Grasses. Even though I’ve participated in the Virtual Curriculum Fair for several years, I have never written on this topic. The simple reason is that I have never felt like I had much to share because our schedule is usually missing art.

I still don’t think that I have a lot to offer on this topic. It’s not that I don’t have good intentions. I’ve even purchased lots of fantastic resources for studying art.

On my shelves I have drawing books and curricula like:

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Drawing with Children

I Can Do All Things

Feed My Sheep

I honestly don’t know why I keep holding on to all those books. I guess I keep hoping that I’ll make the time to use them with my younger children. Since, my oldest son was very interested in drawing when he has younger, we also collected many other drawing books at that time. We have books at various levels on drawing animals, drawing people, drawing cartoons, drawing buildings, etc. And rather than using a curriculum regularly, what my younger kids tend to do is pull out one of those specific books and see how to draw whatever they’re interested in drawing at the moment. But if one of them expresses at interest in regular drawing lessons, I guess I’m prepared.

And while I had grand ideas of studying great artists as we were studying their time in history, that has also never happened. Once again, I do have a couple of good books on famous works of art that are child appropriate. I like the concept of a book basket. (I believe it’s from My Father’s World, though I’ve never used that curriculum). I’ve never fully implemented the book basket idea, but especially for art study, I think it’s a great idea. The idea is to have a rotating collection of books (from the library or personal shelves) that are put into a specific place (like a basket) for children to choose from during a specific time.

I also think that the concept of learning centers is a great way of studying both artists and their art or actually doing art. Here’s a pinterest board with some ideas for art center activities. Space is a factor with creating centers though, and it would be important to keep the activities in different areas updated. But it is a way that we could do art in a more child-directed way. (Because I know that relying on me to get art lessons done doesn’t work!)

Music is an area that we’ve done better at studying consistently, but only because 2 of the children take music lessons. Anna has taken violin for 5 years and William takes piano. David learned the basics of piano from me when he was younger. At that time, we couldn’t afford outside lessons, so he didn’t get as far as I would like because music lessons at home were difficult for us. Music lessons are definitely something that can be hard to fit into the budget, but they are so worth it for the child that is interested in learning. There are ways to save on lessons. For example, there may be an advanced student who would be willing to teach a beginning student. Or there may be a homeschool mom you could barter with for lessons. You could tutor math in exchange for music lessons.

Music is easier than art to incorporate into the typical day. One simple way is to have classical music playing as background music. Anna, my 15 year old, has classical music playing in her room most of the time. Another easy way to add music is to listen in the car. When you’re driving you have a captive audience.

A couple of good resources for more formal music study are –

A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers

Zeezok

Another option that I’m considering for Anna is the Easy Peasy Music Appreciation course for high school. I love how it’s so clearly laid out with daily lessons. I also love that it’s free!

Hopefully you’ve found some ideas for adding a small amount of beauty into your homeschool days. I’d love to hear how you teach art or music.

Don’t miss the other posts in this week’s Virtual Curriculum Fair.

The Art of OrganizationÖor How Clutter Almost Ruined My Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The Shadow of Divine Perfection by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Relaxed Homeschooling: Fine Arts in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Fine Arts {Art Appreciation, Art, Composer Study Hymn Study} for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Adding Sparkle to Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

And All the Extras by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Teaching Art Using the Bible by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

Art In Every Subject by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Letting Art Just Happen in Homeschool by Amy @ One Blessed Mamma

Missing Art? by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Do YOU Have Time for Extracurriculars? by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

Fine Arts in Our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

The Science of Beauty for a Delight-Directed Daughter by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

Seeking Beauty: How we Tackle the Arts in our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Learning To Appreciate Beauty With Fine Arts Resources@ As We Walk Along the Road by Leah@ As We Walk Along the Road

 

Jan 102015
 
unschooling science

Photo credit http://www.mymemories.com/store/designers/StoryRock

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of the links, I will receive a small commission.
This week we’re talking about Math and Science in the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds  and Laura @ Day by Day in Our World. I’ve spent an interesting couple of hours going through old posts on my blog and I have come to the following conclusions.

I have a ton of posts about math. Some of the best ones are the posts for previous Virtual Curriculum Fairs.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Math

Spiral Math: The Post Where I Admit I Was Wrong

Thinking Mathematically: How I Choose Math Curriculum

Besides those, I’ve written reviews of my favorite math curricula as well as various other math curricula and supplements I’ve been asked to review over the years.

There are also posts lamenting my oldest son’s lack of speed in math calculation and the need for more drill.

(He still doesn’t show his work on his math, but if you check out this video he made for a national math video contest last year, I think he’s doing just fine. He placed 2nd!)

Then I did a search for posts about science and found fewer posts.

There’s a review for Apologia Elementary Science. I used several of their books for my older kids when they were younger. It’s a great program. Now both my high schoolers use Apologia Science text books. And in theory William and Lizzie are using the Apologia Elementary ones. But practically speaking…

We’re unschooling science for the younger kids.

I’m not totally satisfied with that fact. Really it’s a big experiment. (Seems fitting since I am talking about science, right?)

But the truth is, I just don’t get science done with my younger kids.

It’s on my list every year.

It’s always a goal.

But I’ve yet to achieve it.

Even though we don’t “do” science very often here, that doesn’t mean William and Lizzie know nothing about science. We own the entire collection of Magic School Bus videos. Lizzie and Andrew watch them all the time. (William is too old for them, but he watches them anyway.) We also have many of the Magic School Bus Books, lots of Usborne science books, animal books, and the entire set of Moody Science videos.
679657: Moody Classics, 19 DVDs

We also have fun science kits that the kids think of as toys. Today William built an egg beater with K’nex. Another fantastic science “toy” are these Snap Circuits. These get a lot of “play” time!

snapcircuits

 

Will my unschooling experiment end up with high schoolers who can’t learn science?

I seriously doubt it. But I’ll probably still feel guilty occasionally about our lack of formal science instruction. Then I’ll try to remember all they are doing on their own for science.

 

Don’t miss this other great posts about Math and Science.

Learning about Patterns in Our World Through Math and Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Relaxed Homeschooling: Mathematics in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Using a Bible-Based Math Curriculum by Tauna M @ Proverbial Homemaker

Math, Science and Logic for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Playing with Numbers by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Unschooling Science by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Logically Speaking: Math, Science, and Logic for 7th Grade  by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Numbers and Molecules! by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Math and Science in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

5 Math & Logic Resources We Love by Becky @ Milo & Oats

Giving Your Kids The Right Start With Math by Amy @ One Blessed Mamma

Math in Our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Classical STEM by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Math, Science and Logic – How do we Tackle Them? by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

The Physics of Delight-Directed Learning by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

Tackling High School Science by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Choosing Math Curriculum for Special Learners by Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity

Math for all ages by Denise @ Fullnest

Middle School Monday – Math With Fred by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Learning With Math and Science Resources  by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road