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

Oct 162016
 

There are a few subjects that strike fear in the hearts of homeschoolers. Advanced math and high school science are a couple that are usually on the list. But there’s another equally scary subject and that’s…

FOREIGN LANGUAGE!

Why is foreign language so scary? The simple fact is that most of us in the US are not bilingual. And it’s really hard to teach something that you don’t know. So by necessity most homeschoolers either look for someone else to teach their students a foreign language, choose a foreign language that isn’t spoken like Latin, or choose a foreign language curriculum that teaches directly to the student with little parent/teacher involvement.

When I was approached by Speekee to review their Accelerate Spanish program for homeschools, I jumped at the opportunity because I’m one of those typical Americans who isn’t bilingual. I’m also stretched for time, so I’m always happy to find educational opportunities that don’t require much input from me. Speekee provided me with 1 year of free access to the program in exchange for my honest review.

Speekee Accelerate Homeschool Spanish

The Facts

Speekee Accelerate is a video-based Spanish curriculum designed for students ages 8 and up. In addition to short videos, Speekee Accelerate includes worksheets, audio clips, and activity ideas for additional instruction. Each of the 40 weekly lessons is divided into 4 parts. On day 1, students watch the entire video (about 15 minutes). This video is completely in Spanish, spoken by native Spanish speaking children. There is very little explanation in the video, rather it immerses the student in the language. For the next 7 lessons, various sections of the video are watched again with emphasis placed on a different topic that was covered in the video like numbers, colors, greetings, etc. There is also an option to receive a weekly e-mail with activities and links for each lesson.

Speekee Accelerate Homeschool Spanish Screen Shot

A peek at the lesson interface

My Opinion

The video lessons are quality productions. We did not particularly entertaining, but these are not designed to be entertaining.  The videos allow the student to hear the language spoken. They have kept the dialogue to a minimum. I think that makes them not as overwhelming as watching a regular television program in Spanish. (We do find it interesting to do that occasionally, just to hear the language, but we could definitely not learn Spanish that way.) It’s really not possible to create a very exciting storyline with limited Spanish vocabulary.

I love the fact that the lessons are short. It makes it much easier to fit into our busy days. The weekly e-mail is a fantastic idea and the activity ideas are extra helpful and add some fun to the program.

Speekee Accelerate is a great way to add elementary Spanish instruction into our homeschool day.

Speekee Accelerate Homeschool Spanish Sample Worksheet

A sample worksheet

The Cost

Speekee is a monthly subscription product. You pay just $7.50/month for access to 4 different learning products. In addition to Accelerate, there is Speekee Fast Track for ages 4-7 and Speekee TV which I previously reviewed here. Speekee Play is an on-line game to reinforce and learn more Spanish. If you’re unsure about Speekee, they offer a 2 week free trial and you can cancel your monthly membership at any time.

If you’re looking for an easy way to add some elementary Spanish to your day, I recommend that you try Speekee.

 

Sep 102016
 

We have finished 3 weeks of homeschool for this new school year: my 14th year of homeschooling and I’m still a homeschool curriculum junkie. Have I really been homeschooling that long? Many of my homeschool curriculum choices this year are back to my old favorites.

My oldest son has started college and is living 3 hours away from home. He is doing great! And I am doing better than I expected. It’s definitely been an adjustment though. I took the leaf out of the table this week and can’t get used to how small it looks now.

Below are what I’ve chosen as our homeschool curriculum this year. Please note that I do use affiliate links to help pay for maintaing this blog.

11th grade

My oldest daughter, Anna, is in the 11th grade. This year we have loaded her up with classes outside the home. She is in 2 different co-ops: 1 meets twice per week and the other once per week. We found last year that outside deadlines and accountability to someone other than me are a great thing for her. So we loaded her up!

She’s taking:

Pre-calculus taught by an instructor, but using Teaching Textbooks.

US Government and Economics with the Notgrass materials

World Literature

Art

Health and Nutrition

Physics (Apologia Physics with labs done together in co-op)

So far, it’s going well for her. She has her driver’s license (or I would be going batty!)

Homeschool Curriculum Mess

8th grade

My son William is in 8th grade this year. He has been my struggling learner, but I am really encouraged with his progress this year. He remembered his math concepts over the summer which thrilled me!

He’s using:

Christian Light Math 7 – He has been using this program for several years. We finally found a math program with the right amount of review for him!

All About Spelling – He’s finishing up the last level of AAS this year! It has been a fantastic program for him.

Memorize Galatians – I really love the material from Brookdale House. He is doing great working through the book of Galatians. He will be memorizing the entire book using this program!


Story of the World 2
– ? – Yes, he’s a little old for this, but he does better with audiobooks, so I want to get him a good base for history before high school. He will listen through the series.

Around the World Geography – He is taking this class at a weekly co-op. There has been some homework and projects to do at home and present to the rest of the class.

General Science – I’m still not sure what I’m doing with this. He is taking a general science lab at a weekly co-op (his first experience and I’m happy to report it’s going well.) I pulled out the Apologia General Science book and I just can’t see him making it through the reading. He likes science though, so we may continue the way we have been and allow him to study science topics as he is interested.

5th grade

Lizzie is my 5th grader. She is a bright student and sometimes hard to keep occupied.

She’s learning from:

Singapore Math 5A and 5B – this has been my favorite elementary math program since I started it with my now college student. I love the emphasis on word problems and mathematical understanding.

Latin – She’s finishing up First Form Latin and will start Second Form Latin probably after Christmas.

Classical Composition Fable – I bought this for her last year, but we didn’t make time to do it. I pulled it out again this year and it’s going well. She loves to write and embellish the fables with her own details.

All About Spelling 5 – I love how simple this program is to use. Just pick up the book and go.

Considering God’s Creation and Apologia Elementary Science books – We’re using Considering God’s Creation loosely as a springboard into more in-depth study using the Apologia elementary books. I like the lapbooky aspects of Considering God’s Creation, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a stand alone science program.

Tapestry of Grace Year 2 – I am trying out Tapestry of Grace again. We used it for several years when my oldest 2 were upper elementary to middle school. I had to put it aside because the discussion aspect of the program just wasn’t working for us as a family. The reason I loved the program so much was to have the whole family on the same “page” in history. It was just not a good fit for my oldest. But I felt a nudging toward it again, so I decided to see if we can use it with my 2 younger children. So far we’ve completed the first 2 weeks and it’s going ok. I am feeling a little flustered trying to keep up with everything.

Kindergarten

Miquon Math Homeschool Curriculum

My baby, Andrew, has started Kindergarten! We are keeping things really light for him and using some old favorites.

Alpha Phonics – This is just simple, no non-sense reading instruction


Handwriting without Tears
– Seriously. No tears. He loves it!

Miquon Math – He’s starting with the orange book. He loves to use the Cuisenaire rods.

Verbal Math – This is something new that I’m trying. I like the way it teaches math without writing the problems down.

So far, everything is running relatively smoothly though I do constantly feel pulled in a thousand directions. I should be an expert by now, but I still make mistakes and struggle to get everything done!

 

 

 

Aug 032016
 

Compass Classroom recently released a new modern history class entitled Modernity, and they gave me the opportunity to preview the course. Covering a wide range of topics from modern history including the Enlightenment, Napoleon, the Industrial Revolution, and the World Wars, the high school level class consists of 27 weekly lessons. Each lesson includes 5 video segments with instructor Dave Raymond that are approximately 20 minutes long.

Along with the video, there are accompanying reading assignments available in Kindle, pdf, and epub formats. In addition to the lecture and reading, the student works on a portfolio and several projects over the course of the school year. The modern history projects include a Reformation Imitation Project, a Speech on Tradition, a Research Paper, and the Hour Project.

The Hour Project is an open-ended final project of the student’s choosing. It should be something that takes a substantial number of hours to complete (they recommend 30-40) and can showcase the talents and interests of the student. Some examples in the teacher guide include copying a famous paintings, making a reproduction of a piece of Victorian furniture, or creating an illustrated children’s book.

 

4 things to love about Modernity

  1. Easy to teach – The course is well-laid out and teacher friendly. It’s divided into daily lessons so it’s very open and go with little to no planning required.
  2. Interesting presentation –  Dave Raymond is excited about history and it shows in his presentation. He’s interesting to listen to. While much of the video is lecture, there is a nice blend of related images mixed with the video of the speaker.
  3. Christian Worldview – There is plenty of opportunity to study history from the politically correct, secular worldview. This class not only teaches history from a Christian perspective, but also provides the Christian perspective of why history is important to study.
  4. Variety – While the format is predictable with 5 daily videos and corresponding readings, the projects and portfolio pages add the opportunity for students to be creative and truly own the content.

If you’re looking for an American History course you can read my review.

Discloser: I received a free download of 8 lessons of Modernity in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. This post includes affiliate links.

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