Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nay to Scheduling

We are pretty laid back when it comes to homeschooling high school. We began as traditional homeschoolers. Our journey took us along various roads, but in junior high we stuck our foot in unschooling and it just seemed to mesh with my daughter. I must admit it took much longer for me to come around (the teacher in me just couldn't believe it could work). But guess what, it does.

We are still semi-unschoolers. My daughter uses an online high school resource and whatever else she is interested in learning more about. Since she is in high school, she doesn't need as much homeschool help from me. The classes are mostly video and they do a great job of explaining things.

Right now her focus is on graphic arts totally. She got an early Christmas present from the grandparents, Intous Touch and Draw Tablet. She is at it every day!

The unschooling bug in us means we don't really follow a schedule, so I'll say "Nay" to scheduling. I've tried scheduling her off and on for years with no luck. She is ADHD and it is a struggle getting her to stick with a set schedule of any kind, though you'd think a schedule would really help her. I think other issues combined with the ADHD make scheduling a chore for her and a nightmare for me. I will say that when she sets her mind to learning about something, she goes full steam ahead. She has ambition and drive, so I know she will use those characteristics to carry her through to reach her aspirations.

So how do you handle scheduling for holidays or any time? Share with me.  :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How Thankful Can You Be?

Fall is my favorite season; colorful leaves, cooler temps, a nice feeling of change, and holidays. It just feels so good to me. I love smelling the fireplace and watching the flames. I love enjoying my homemade Starbucks caramel apple cider drink or sea salt hot chocolate. Bliss!

I am also thankful my right-brained visual learner has curriculum that fits her learning style. She does much better watching video lessons than having me teach her in person. I didn’t let that hurt my feelings. LOL  She does much better working at HER own pace rather than having me tell her how long she has to complete something. She even prefers to take an spelling test online rather than have me call out words old school style. If I could go back to her age, I’d prefer it too! I hated spelling tests as a kid because I always had to stay in at recess and write over and over the words I’d misspelled, which was usually quite a few. My spelling improved with time, thank goodness. I’m also thankful for spell check. Can I get an Amen on that?

I’m thankful I have the freedom to homeschool my child in the way I see fits her needs the best. I am very thankful I have the freedom to include God in her studies. And finally, I’m so very thankful my daughter has finally reached a point in her schooling where she finally likes most of her schooling. That’s saying a lot for a kid who has always HATED school.

So, how thankful can you be? I believe you can never be thankful enough for all you have and all God does for you. What about you, what are you thankful for this season?

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Trouble with Teens! by Guest Author, Katrina

Today I'd like you to join me in welcoming guest author, Katrina, to 3D Learners. Katrina is a work-at-home homeschooling Mom of 2 teens boys who also runs a small childcare out of her home. She is active on many homeschool sites, a contributing moderator for and writes for her daycare blog!

Please take time to leave comment for Katrina; I know she'd love to hear from you. 

                                      The Trouble with Teens!

Teen activities that is! Why do people think that teens can amuse themselves? Usually that is the reason for many issues among teens! Granted those statistics are usually for public school kids. 

I mean REALLY. Some of my brother's and husband's stories about when they were teens, just makes my hair turn gray! They are NOT allowed to confess those to my boys, though most of brother's are well-known as basically a what NOT to do rule!!! LOL

And with more and more parents turning to homeschooling, finding activities for teens as part of their homeschooling is hard! I mean HARD! They are not adults, they are not babies, they do not have public school interaction ,or events put on by the school. What do you do with them?

Luckily, not only do we live in a large city, but we have several great homeschooling groups that we belong to. Many of us find ourselves in the same boat, parents of teens, and have started to plan events with this age in mind. Plus, our local Parks and Recreation has noticed this lack of homeschool teen activities and added daytime events and classes geared JUST for teens. Thank goodness!!

I think as teens, my boys are busier than they were when they were in public school! 

Right now:
  • They attend a weekly PE class at the community center with a bunch of their friends. 
  • They have a regular Olympic style shooting class put on FREE by one of our local gun ranges and I am proud to say, my older son has 5 advancements to his name. Again, attend this with many of the same group of friends. 
  • They have a monthly homeschool teen meet-up at the indoor airsoft range. 
  • And late Spring through Fall(weather permitting), there are weekly park days and while I am home running my childcare.... one of our friends, gladly swings by to take the boys with her and her son. 2-3 hours of hiking wears my boys out!
  • Plus in 2 weeks, they are attending the Homeschool Costume aka Halloween Dance! It is put on for homeschool teens all around the Portland area and brings in about 100+ kids.

So, guaranteed 2 days a week they have TEEN only activities outside of the house! Not baby stuff, not adult stuff, but activities geared for them! And while they socialize with all ages, parents, grandparents, parents of the daycare kids, the daycare kids themselves, etc. on a daily basis.... I still say there is something to teens being able to be around other kids their age and be able to talk about things, be dorks, and have fun.

How do your teens get out and about? Does your area have things planned for teens? If not, maybe you can form some!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

All Kinked Up or Kinkless and Proud?

We are slowly getting underway with our high school homeschooling this year. We have had a late start due to so many family situations pulling us in different directions. Of course one of the beauties of homeschooling is being able to go with the flow…being flexible and creative, right?
It doesn’t matter if you are new to homeschooling or if you are a seasoned veteran, kinks happen. My unschooling daughter has been transitioning back to using an online curriculum this year. She didn’t totally give up unschooling at all, but is trying to get used to signing in and working on lessons in a timely manner. I must say she needs to work a bit harder at it. She does enjoy the online lessons though and likes the grown-up feel to them, especially the video lessons.
When your child is at one with unschooling it can be problematic to adjust to a semi-regular style of schooling. Her heart takes her back to unschooling activities more than it takes her to traditional lessons even though she knows why she needs to complete the traditional lessons. I guess you can say we are “all kinked up” at this point! I know with time our kinks will be worked out, but neither of us are good at playing the waiting game.    Smile
So how would you classify your homeschool year so far? Is is “All Kinked Up” or are you “Kinkless and Proud” ?
This blog post is featured on the Let’s Homeschool High School October Blog Hop. If you homeschool high schoolers, join the Hop today by linking your high school blog. The theme this month is the title of my post.
LHSHS Blog Hop - 250x250

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to Homeschool High School

Well, back to school is officially here. We are still gently easing our way in mostly because we are displaced. We are in Texas helping my parents prepare for a move to where we live in Georgia. We have been here almost three months and I sure do miss my husband, animals, and my own house. I am enjoying spending time with parents though. They aren't getting any younger and I want to enjoy them while I still can.

This is our second year of homeschooling high school. Last year we more or less muddled through, so we were thrilled when Time4Learning announced they were going to offer high school homeschool courses. My daughter signed up to take English II, Algebra I, Biology, World History, and Economics/Personal Finance.

We will continue using Drive Thru History (I love it), Vocabulary Spelling City (love the vocabulary flash cards), and whatever life skills/art/music my daughter delves into. I am considering having her take a high school writing course as well. She is an o.k. writer as far as story writing goes, but she really needs more help with other forms of writing and I don't think it will work for me to be her teacher. She doesn't always see eye-to-eye with me or my ideas.

She is interested in taking some type of class like karate. She took classes when she was little so at least she knows what to expect. I really wish there was an anime group in our area. She loves anime, especially Hetalia.

I hope to work in a few road trips (field trips) in this year. It was always fun to take field trips when she was younger. I just need to be a little more creative now that she is in high school. She's pretty picky!

So, what are your back to school plans this year? I'd love it if you'd leave me a comment.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Homeschool High School Future

When I started out homeschooling my daughter I used a traditional schooling method because of my background as a teacher. I soon, and I mean very soon, learned my teacher background was more of a hindrance than help to me. I had to learn that homeschooling involved lots of flexibility and much less direction from me. I had to learn to let my daughter take more of a lead.

Several years and tons of curriculum and teaching styles later we settled in with unschooling. It was a good fit for my daughter. I am not so sure it was a good fit for this lesson plan writing, hands-on momma! I truly had to (and still have to) learn to loosen the reigns a whole bunch.  :)

Last year was our first year of homeschooling high school. Wow! I must say I was intimidated and more than just a little bit scared. We had been using Time4Learning the last several years as a supplement to her unschooling and really loved it. For this traditional background mom and teacher, T4L gave me great comfort that my child was actually learning something. I know, I know, she was learning with her unschooling more than I ever realized at the time, but I could see something tangible with Time4Learning's record keeping. Anyway, we jumped into high school and the initial jump was as fast as it got. After that everything slowed down. Like I said earlier, I let high school intimidate me I think mainly because we entered as unschoolers. I just couldn't see how to record life skills on a transcript so I didn't even attempt a transcript last year. (I will say I read another blog in this awesome blog hop that gave me great ideas on using a binder method for setting up a transcript this year--thanks, Teachable Moments!).

This year I envision a much different year for both my daughter and myself. I am going to use the binder method for keeping up with the transcript PLUS, and most exciting to me, my daughter is enrolling in Time4Learning's new homeschool high school courses. Yeah--they finally added high school classes.

Since we are already familiar with how T4L works this was an easy choice for us. And since they do the record keeping I can simply transfer the courses and descriptions to her transcript. That is going to make things much easier for me this year, and I know I will be more at ease.

My daughter's future is already looking brighter. I let her choose what she wants to take. She selected Algebra I, English II, World History, Biology, and Economics/Personal Finance. They also have an online writing tutorial that I am interested in her exploring. She enjoys writing, but she needs to sharpen it up and explore other types of writing than just story writing.

What do you envision for your homeschool student this year? Please share. I'd love to read what you have to say.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Homeschool Learning

It's here, summer that is. What a great time of relaxation for many homeschooling families! Some families take the entire time off and just let life happen. Some families pull back just a little and allow for more down time and chillaxing while other homeschoolers continue schooling full steam ahead. What about you? How do you handle summer homeschooling in your family?

Around our house we normally continue homeschooling during the summer but in a way more relaxed atmosphere. We like to do enough to stay sharp. Summer weather allows for plenty of outdoor learning. We have been known to catch tadpoles as we learn about food chains, visit the library for special programs, go on nature walks with a "gotta find list", play at the park by our house as we experiment with lessons on force, stargaze at night, work in our vegetable garden and play chef in the kitchen, help Dad with fencing projects and caring for animals around the farm, and when it's too hot outside, we like playing online educational games like the ones at Vocabulary Spelling City.

This slower pace helps recharge us, Mom included. I think we all need to take time to unwind and recharge ourselves. When back to school creeps up, we are once again excited to get going AND we are still in the habit of schooling, which makes life so much easier for all of us.

Please take time to share what your family does during the summer season.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Fun and Homeschool Reading

Summer is here and you are going to make sure your kids not only have a super fun summer, but also work a little “fun school” into the mix. You just planned a killer rocks and minerals summer fun unit study and it has a good bit of reading in it. STOP! Your child is still having a few problems learning to read.

Don’t let that get you or them down. Summer can still be fun while you help your child grasp learning to read, but in a gentler, or maybe I should say, laid back summer fashion kinda way. Cut down on the amount of reading, or put some of it on tape for them to listen to.

Learning to read can be frustrating for many kids. Sometimes it just doesn’t click because the child is simply not ready to read yet, even if they are 12 years old. My daughter struggled with reading until about age 12. She does have dyslexia and CAPD, but also, she just hadn’t found anything worth reading. Once she stumbled upon books that drew her in, she was off and running. Does she still struggle now and again, of course she does, but she IS reading, and more than that, she is enjoying reading.

Listening to what your kids talk about gives you clues as to the type of books that just might be the spark they need to get going. Maybe your kid loves fantasy, or horses, or historical fiction, or mysteries. Maybe your child is wondering if there are any stories about homeschool children, or if there are any books written by homeschoolers. Well, yes there are!  Books by homeschoolers are becoming more popular. Many are written by homeschool highschoolers and homeschool graduates.  Others are written by homeschool parents.

My daughter loves Eargon by Christopher Paolini. I remember a few years back telling her that he was a homeschooled kid. Well, that was all she needed! She decided if at 15 he could write a bestselling novel, she could too. She began writing her book. While she didn’t finish, it was a huge catalyst in her learning more about writing and improving her writing skills. She has since moved on to fan fiction.

You never know, you just might have a budding author in your homeschool!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Homeschool Resources

I realize school is coming to a close for most homeschoolers, but now is the time to begin thinking about homeschool resources for next year. You have worked with your current curriculum and resources for the last eight months or so and have an idea of what did or didn’t work for you and your kids. You also have a better understanding of what you might like to try next year.

I like to “try before I buy” whenever I can, and I LOVE freebie resources. Some free resources are not too great, but now and then you come across some that are very educationally sound. I will list some of my favorites later.

One important aspect of considering new curricula or resources is gathering as much feedback about what you can. Talking to other home schooling families about what they use is one way to achieve this. Just because one or two families don’t like a particular product, resource, or curriculum doesn’t mean it is not a fit for everyone. Their needs are not your needs. Things that didn’t work for them very well be just what you are looking for.

Another method of obtaining feedback is by visiting educational forums and blogs. Homeschool reviews are quite popular these days and you will find as many pros as cons about almost everything you read. The trick is to analyze the pros and cons against the needs of you and your children. Does the resource of program meet your teaching style? Does it meet the learning styles of your children? Is there a contract involved? Is it affordable? Is a science curriculum offered? Is a math curriculum offered? Does the program offer resources for language arts, math, social studies…? Does it lend itself to multiple learning styles? Is it flexible enough for all of my kids to use it? Is the record keeping done for you? These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself as you look at the multitude of possibilities.

Here are some of my favorite free resources: (various grade levels and subjects covered at each site)

Learning Games for Kids
Vocabulary Is Fun
Khan Academy
Vocabulary Spelling City
Homeschool Literature
Time4Writing (is a paid site, but has lots of free resources available)
Mr. Donn
Let's Homeschool Highschool 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Word Search

I am all about building a great vocabulary, but sometimes it can get rather dull for my daughter. Truthfully, it gets down right boring just coming up with interesting sentences to demonstrate mastery of each new word on the list. I was searching for ways to spice things up when I remembered how much fun word search puzzles are. Right?

Yes, I believe a good old fashioned word search will do the trick. I know I love solving word searches. I am considering having her also make a crossword puzzle for the words, after all this is high school homeschooling. The challenge will be good for her; make her put her thinking cap on.

The crossword exercise will take more time because you really have to plan out where to put words so they have at least one letter to share. Plus, you have to come up with clues that don’t give away the answer. I guess we could both come up with a crossword puzzle and switch them; I solve hers and she solves mine.

She is a visual-spatial learner though, so she should be able to handle it.

How about your homeschool, what interesting activities do you have your child work on to cement vocabulary words? Please share!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Homeschool Writing Courses

Lately there seems to be a push toward homeschool writing courses. Maybe I just notice it more since my daughter is in high school now and writing is very much a critical skill for high school kids who want to enter college. Actually, writing is a critical skill for everyone, not just those wishing to go to college. Good writing skills are helpful to those in the workforce and even those who do not work. At some point even those who do not have an outside job have the need to draw upon their writing skills whether it’s a letter to the editor, a letter to a business, letters to a family member or friend, keeping  a journal, or even learning to write a blog.  Writing is crucial!
   "For a change [students] are owning rather than renting the language of the classroom. . . .For a change they are applying theory and thinking creatively." -Larry Levy, Delta College Instructor Emiriti
Learning to write is important, but writing to learn is just as important and facilitates learning to write. Does that make sense? Writing enhances a person's learning of content. For example if a student is working on a science experiment, the simple act of writing about the steps involved and the conclusion helps them reflect upon and summarize their understanding. It helps them synthesize material and learn critical thinking skills all the while they are also improving their writing skills.
According to Diane Boehm, Instructional Support Programs, Saginaw Valley State University, the following are benefits of writing to learn: (easily adaptable to homeschooling)
1. WTL promotes active learning.
2. Students use their own language to understand course concepts; they "own" rather than "rent" the language and ideas.
3. WTL stimulates participation and discussion (/every/ student has a response to the question).
4. Teachers discover what students are thinking and learning, what's clear and what isn't.
5. WTL creates opportunity for teacher/student and student/student dialogue.
6. Students can "rehearse" ideas and strategies before tackling formal writing assignments; they can "practice" before the "big game."
7. WTL creates a way for students to reflect upon what they are learning, to think meta-cognitively and personally about their learning processes in the course.
8. WTL assists students in discovering what they know and what they don't know.
9. WTL gives everyone a stake in the class.
10. WTL can be adapted for whole group or small group activities.
11. WTL creates opportunities to write for audiences other than the teacher.
12. WTL allows for formative (assisting in the process) rather than only summative (evaluating a product) assessments.
Maybe helping your student see how writing to learn will benefit them, learning to write will not be as big a chore for them.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How To Homeschool: Many Opportunities

How to homeschool is a question many prospective homeschooling families want and need answered. Often times even homeschoolers of just a few years would like helpful information about how to homeschool because they are not confident they are actually “homeschooling properly”.

The first thing I would suggest to new homeschooling families or families thinking about homeschooling is a wonderful free e-book written by veteran homeschooling families just for new homeschooling families. It is comprehensive without being overwhelming. The book includes where to begin, homeschooling basics, homeschooling laws, homeschooling basics, using the Internet, connecting with other homeschoolers, creating a schedule, using a calendar, keeping a portfolio, and even includes a glossary of homeschooling terms so you can learn to “talk the talk”.

Another great resource is a You Tube video called 5 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Homeschooling.

Lots of families are interested in either Christian homeschooling or secular homeschooling. There are wonderful forums and support groups for both. Sometimes it is possible to pick and choose from both to work into an eclectic curriculum.

Today, many families are hitting the highway and seeing the world. They realize the many opportunities road schooling offers their children as far as education is concerned. Possibilities are endless for these adventurous families. How exciting it is to actually visit places you have studied.

There is no one perfect way to homeschool and one size doesn’t fit all. It takes time to find a good fit for your family. Don’t give up, it is worth it for you and your precious children!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Homeschool Lapbooking

According to Squidoo, lapbooking is defined as:

…making mini-books covering details that you’ve studied. After making a variety of mini-books about a larger topic, all the books are put together in a large folder. The finished product is called a lapbook because it’s large and covers your lap.

Homeschool lapbook writing is very popular, and can be done by anyone, even adults. This educational method engages the learner in several hands-on mini-book projects covering details they have studied. After making a variety of mini-books about a larger topic, all the books are put together in a large folder. Any subject or event can be turned into a lapbook--math, history, art, science, poetry, a field trip, a vacation, the new puppy… Hands-on learning is important because academic learning is too abstract for many students. According to John Goodland, students need to see, touch and smell what they hear, read and write about.

While creating the lapbook, ideas and thoughts are turned into something visible and structured. It brings together your left brain (words, logic) and right-brain skills (images, color, rhythm, space) which dramatically increases your mind power.The right-brained visual learner is right at home with this learning method as are many other students.

Our brains think in unique and logarithmic ways. Chunking refers to the strategy of breaking down information into bite-sized pieces so the brain can more easily digest new information. A mini book is a chunk of information about a particular theme or subject.

Lapbooking is also an excellent way of storing and recalling information and presenting things to others. The completed lapbook can serve as a review tool as your children refer to it over and over again. Many homeschooling families use lapbooks as a record of what their student studied during the year. If you have to keep a homeschool portfolio to document learning each year, lapbooks can be a very impressive addition.

Lapbooking incorporates a wide range of modalities, thus the student is going to be more engaged and enthusiastic. According to Educational Testing Service in 2001, students who participate in hands-on learning activities outperform their peers by 72% of a grade level in math and 40% of a grade level in science. This study indicates that the most effective class.

Read what Dee says about lapbooking and see her example of a lapbook. If  your child is artistic, have him draw the graphics. But if drawing gives your child fits, then find some nice clipart for him to paste into the mini-books. Search the Internet for images related to your topic

What kind of mini-book should you use? In the beginning, start small. Make some basic books with easy folds, and add your information into them. As you gain experience, you can venture out into some of the more complicated mini-books.

What kind of lapbooks have your children completed?