Sunday, April 29, 2012

Get Started Homeschooling

Read this article o to help you get started homeschooling. It's a simple list of do's and don'ts for starting homeschooling. Also included is resource links.

The Do's and Don'ts of Starting Homeschool

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Have You Thought About Christian Science Courses For Elementary Grades?

Author: Teresa Dear
When educating your children at home, you have the freedom to teach them sound science that is presented from a Christian worldview. "Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space," geared at elementary students, fits the bill very well. This text is part of a series by Stephanie L. Redmond which include Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. I enjoyed teaching from this text for a number of reasons including: it requires little to no teacher prep time; it is enjoyable to work through; being from a Christian worldview, it is God-honoring; and it is written in a conversational tone that is easy to read aloud and appeals to the younger audience.
The text has 24 lessons, 2 on the Earth in general (including Creation); 5 covering the lithosphere; 4 covering the hydrosphere; 4 covering the atmosphere; 5 covering weather; and 4 covering all of outer space. The maps, forms and coloring sheets are reproducible. An applicable scripture has been chosen for each lesson. In addition, there is an appendix of recipes and additional activities, another on how to make a folderbook, and another including additional books and resources. We took the book to our local copy center and had them cut off the binding. Then we separated the reproducible sheets and had the text spiral-bound with all the glossaries and appendices.
Altogether, I found this course to be a good core text for my second-grader that was easily supplemented in a few areas. I will be using it again with my younger kids when they hit second grade. And although my second-grader and I completed the entire course, we definitely amended and expanded it to be more in-depth. One example of this was finding all nine planets covered in one short chapter! I thought this was neglecting an opportunity to excite kids about outer space, so we expanded on that section with outside materials. There is no chapter at all about biomes, which I found startling, as there is so much to intrigue children about the variety of habitats and temperature zones on this planet we call home. Again, we supplemented the study of Earth with outside materials.
In a few of the chapters it seemed as though the bulk of the reading is about the author's own experiences, although this contributes to the 'talking to a young child' tone. One of the main things I noticed about Christian Kids Explore was the lack of consistency in material from chapter to chapter. It is a curious mix of technical definitions and conversational banter.
It's always great to find a science course that gives glory to God for his creation. The first lesson was about Creation, but neglected the "on the first day, on the second day..." so we supplemented that with some reading from Genesis. In Lesson three she goes over the theory of Pangea and the worldwide flood, how some scientists and theologians have conflicting ideas. She presents it flawlessly and intelligently. Although the coloring sheets are beautiful, they have a lot of black space that can't be colored. In addition, there is one sheet for the entire unit, not individual sheets to work on while mom reads each chapter.
The benefits in this book for the upper elementary students include lots of definitions in the margins and timelines listing scientists and scientific discoveries. One thing that would have been helpful was a 'year-long list of copies to be made' in case you don't have a copier at home to do it chapter by chapter. I think this book is a good value, especially if you supplement with library materials instead of buying them.

Teresa Dear is a homeschooling mother of four. She and her husband do not worry about socialization. You can follow the blog exploration of Classical Christian Education in general and their homeschool lifestyle in particular at Teresa divides her time between education, the home, shopping for curriculum, and stocking her storefront where you can find handmade cards and vintage photos.

Review: 7 Strategies for Developing Capable Students

Author: Pat Fenner 

Homeschoolers or not - who doesn't want a capable student? Although not a new book (copyright 1998), the message inside is very timely.  The authors, Dr. H. Stephen Glenn and Michael L. Brock,  seek to provide parents with  encouragement and tools to help them enable their kids to grow into capable students and human beings.
For the most part, the case studies they look at and analyze revolve around the situations kids in public or private schools might face, but there is still much to glean here, as homeschooling families may experience similar behavior problems and relational struggles as well.
Interspersed with "School-smart Parenting Tips", this book is very practical. Because we are with them 24/7, it's very easy for homeschooling parents to fall into the trap of "doing for" our kids, and the authors show just how disabling this behavior is. Truly empowering our children happens when we create conditions that enable them to act effectively on their own behalf.
By identifying and describing "barriers" (parental behaviors which reduce children's confidence) and "builders" (parental behaviors which increase the same, parents can begin to recognize and increase the latter. Builder behaviors include:
  1. checking
  2. exploring
  3. inviting/encouraging
  4. celebrating
  5. respecting
Divided into 18 chapters and 3 sections: The Capable Student, The Capable Family and The Capable Team, homeschoolers already understand how these areas interact - hey, we live it! But I understand this may be a new concept for others (smile!)
Part One describes 7 significant attributes that a capable student possess. Part Two looks at important areas to develop to create and maintain a positive family environment. And Part Three explores ways teachers and parents can "combine forces" to help develop capable students. Homeschooling families can glean much from Parts One and Two. I really appreciate the authors' perspective that any change (and in this case, in the classroom or learning arena) always begins in the home.
So, while that concept is one we all may be familiar with, it's really helpful to find a book that goes on to give you some practical tools for developing behaviors in our children that will better enable them to be stronger students and individuals when they eventually go out into the "real world"!

Pat Fenner encourages homeschoolers - both newbies and veterans - from her site "Help 4 Your Homeschool". Having graduated their 2 eldest from high school, and shooting for the same with their 3 elementary-aged children, Pat helps others look "outside the box" of standard curricula for educational resources and inspiration.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Curriculum Review: Dynamic Literacy’s WordBuild

Reviewed by Janice Campbell
I love the study of words. Words are the building blocks of communication, and the more of them you know, the more likely it is that you will be a good writer and speaker. In addition, words are just plain fascinating!
For many years, I used and recommended vocabulary programs based in Latin and Greek roots, and I still like those programs. I realize that roots-based programs seem inaccessible to some people, so I’ve found an alternate program that’s amazingly user-friendly, highly effective, and fun. It’s WordBuild: A Better Way to Teach Vocabulary, and the entire program is contained in two comprehensive levels. WordBuild is “based on morphology, the study of the units of meaning in words. Just as phonology is the study of the sounds that make up words, morphology is the study of the meaningful pieces of words. A mastery of phonics helps students “sound out” unfamiliar words; a mastery of morphics helps students “mean out” unfamiliar words.”
The first series, Foundations, contains two levels and is designed to be used anytime after phonics have been taught. This level focuses on building words by adding prefixes and suffixes to words the student already knows. The second series, Elements, contains three levels and moves into the teaching and manipulation of Greek and Latin root words. After five years of study, the student should have not only a vast vocabulary, but also the tools to decipher virtually any word they encounter in the future.
Each week the learner is presented with a morpheme (word piece) such as “mob,” which means “to move.” There is a page of Word Fun Facts and a 15-minute activity for each day of the week to help the student learn and retain all the variations of the word. The very helpful teacher’s guide provides objectives and examples, as well as talking points, suggested dialog, and extended learning activities.
On Day 1, the student is presented with a Root Square, which provides more morphemes and challenges the student to combine two or more word parts to make as many words as possible. In the “mob” square, choices include four other forms of the root, plus “ive,” “auto,” “ize,” “com,” “im,” “ion,” “re,” and “ile.” If you play with those for a few minutes, you’ll get an idea of how many possibilities there are.
On Day 2, the student breaks apart words and matches them with their definitions, placing the number of the answer in the corresponding square of the Magic Box. When the box is correctly filled, the sum of the numbers is the same both across and down.
On Day 3, the student will use another visual aid, the Stair Steps to fill in words they discover from provided definitions.
On Day 4, the focus is on using newly acquired vocabulary in context. Students use an optional Comprehension Booster worksheet to choose the correct word to fill the blank in a sentence.
On Day 5, there is a 10-question multiple-choice assessment. I’m not usually a fan of multiple choice, as it’s just too easy, but when all the possible answers are based on the same morpheme, it boosts the challenge level. For example, one question asks the student to choose “Which word means to cause to be able to move?” The answer choices include “mobilize, mobile, or motile.” It’s clear that the student will need to have a good understanding of the morphemes in order to satisfactorily complete the questions.
The Foundations level would work very well in the elementary years, while Elements (from which the “mob” example was excerpted) would work well for middle and/or high school students. Students who complete the five years of WordBuild study early may wish to move into a root-based program for further study, or simply take Latin or another foreign language along with a solid literature program such as Excellence in Literature to build vocabulary naturally.
Each level of WordBuild comes with
  • Individual softbound Student Activity Books covering a full year’s curriculum
  • Complete Teacher’s Manual with Answer Keys (written so that it can be used in classroom, co-op, or homeschool)
  • Customizable software to quickly create additional exercises
  • Access to online printable exercises
In addition, the Elements levels come with a free CD of WordBuild The Game®. This CD-based game installed easily on my computer and was an entertaining way to practice word building. There are several choices of accompanying music, from Vivaldi to techno, or the music can be turned off entirely while playing. The CD is compatible with both Mac and Windows.
Overall, this is a sound, comprehensive program that will provide a good vocabulary foundation. The Teacher’s Manual is an integral part of the program and makes teaching the units absolutely simple. The short daily lessons are compatible with Charlotte Mason’s belief that short lessons result in better retention of knowledge. WordBuild is well-done and visually appealing, and is a great option for vocabulary study.
Visit for more information.

Janice Campbell, author of Get a Jump Start on College! A Practical Guide for Teens,Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High School Paperwork, and theExcellence in Literature series, has been writing and speaking in central Virginia since the late 1980’s. She homeschooled her four sons from kindergarten into college, using the principles she now shares in her books, blog, workshops, and her free e-newsletter.  Sign up for it today.

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About the Author: Melissa Van Horn is a work from home, homeschool mom. She has spent several years for legit work from home. She has finally found that in freelance writing, you can read about her experiences on Examiner.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Starting the Journey

I know that I am starting this blog a little late, but I will catch it up. This is our first year homeschooling, I am currently homeschooling grades 8, 5, and pre-K. This past year has definately been a learning experience for all of us. We have had to find which curriculum and routines work best for us. Although this journey has not always been easy, I know that homeschooling is the right choice for us. Who could have more emotional investment in our childrens education than family.


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About the Author:
Melissa Van Horn is a work from home, homeschool mom. She has spent several years and several thousand dollars searching for the perfect home based business. She has finally found that with Ameriplan®. She has a passion for sharing her experiences with others through Examiner. In addition to running her Ameriplan® business, Melissa has a Barefoot Books business and does freelance writing for several clients.Melissa can be contacted here.