Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Tutoring

Summer is in full swing isn’t it? Are you able to relax a bit and enjoy at least a little down time? I like the beginning of summer when it’s not too hot. By this time of year I am hiding out inside where the cool AC is my best friend.

We used to homeschool year round. I liked doing that for several reasons.It kept us in the swing of things so we never got out of practice or out of our routine. We didn’t have to worry about transitions. It also allowed us to take our time and work at a slower, more comfortable pace. Last year was the first year we took the summer off. It was so nice we did it again this year. I think I needed the break more than my daughter.

When we first started homeschooling we were using a second grade online curriculum, but I still supplemented with lots of extras. I really  enjoyed lots of hands-on activities in those days. I think younger kids especially retain more and enjoy more of their schooling when they can did in and explore all avenues of learning, not just the text. As my daughter got older, somehow we gradually lost interest in hands-on learning, well, she did, I never lost interest. Anyway, now that we take the summer off, we do use an online resource for summer tutoring as needed. We are very low key with it, but it does help.

If you take the summer off, do you use an online tutor for a little extra help or enrichment? Please share.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Homeschool Trends

People homeschool for as many different reasons as there are homeschoolers. Some of the more common reasons include being bullied at public school, religious reasons, health, dedicated sports such as ice skating or horse showing, the need for a more challenging curriculum, safety issues, learning difficulties, and the list goes on.

Homeschool trends in the last several years confirm one main reason for homeschooling, dissatisfaction with public schools. As a public school and private school teacher, who turned to homeschooling, I can wholeheartedly agree with the reason.

My daughter attended private Christian school for three years and while it wasn’t perfect, she was nurtured and learned in a safe environment…she was happy. She attended public school, or tried attending public school three different times, once in first grade, once in third grade, and once in eighth grade. All three times were a disaster.

My daughter has CAPD, ADHD, and dysgraphia. The public school has programs in place to help children like her, but they failed her each time. She received virtually no help from them. She had teachers who told her she would never learn to read and that she was slow or lazy. As a teacher, I was SHOCKED that a teacher would actually say those things, but indeed they did. One of her junior high teachers commented, in a very derogatory way, about the fact that she was homeschooled.

Homeschooling has been the best decision we could have ever made. I no longer have a child who is under huge amounts of stress and suffering from panic attacks. That alone makes homeschooling worthwhile for us. My daughter has thrived and grown in a safe environment, and no, she is not a social misfit.

What’s your reason for homeschooling? Can you identify with my situation? How’s homeschooling working for you? Please share with us all.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Whew!

Whew is just about right. I can feel that big sigh of relief washing over me since we have finished our lessons for the year.
You know how homeschoolers suggest new homeschoolers take time to ‘deschool’ after leaving public school, well I think I need to ‘dehomeschool’ for just a wee bit. Smile
We used to homeschool year round, but last year we took the summer off. This year we will take the summer off again, well mostly. We aren’t going to use a tutor or anything, but my daughter is going to continue working on her economics/personal finance classes that she didn’t finish. We decided she would do this because she started her own business…Mercy Fox Photography. She does mostly cosplay photo shoots, but other kinds as well.
I asked my daughter if she is also experiencing the magic elixir of ‘whew’. Her response was a huge, “YES!” She reminded me that now that she’s 17, she realizes how close she is to being a full fledged adult. Her ‘whew’ feeling was realizing how close she is to graduating and becoming that productive citizen she has grown in to.
What is your ‘whew’ feeling?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Summer Homeschool Planning

This post is linked up with the April Let's Homeschool High School Blog Hop. You can link your high school blog post up too! The link is at the bottom of this page.

Wow! I can't believe summer will be here in the blink of an eye. While I won't miss the cold, rainy days, I will miss cooler weather. I like sunshine, I really do, but I am NOT a hot weather fan. I shrink in hot weather; always have.

What homeschooling plans do I have for the summer? Well, this summer we are going to slow way down and relax more in our homeschool high school plans. We will continue our unschooling life skills though because, well, it's life! My daughter will continue to improve her cooking and sewing skills, animal husbandry skills, yard work and gardening skills, and financial skills. She will also continue her reading and high school writing skills because she loves these. I sure won't complain about that at all. :)

What do you have planned for your summer homeschool high schoolers?



Monday, March 31, 2014

Homeschool Show N Tell

This post is linked up to Teaching Stars.Com: Show and Tell.
Vocabulary is really big in our homeschool. My daughter has always had a large vocabulary because we have always included it in our studies.

One of my favorite homeschool resources for supplementing vocabulary and reading is Vocabulary is Fun. This totally free site features sound educational games.

The games are divided into the following groups:  Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8), and High School (9-12). My daughter uses the high school section. This makes it easy to choose the level you want quickly. You can also choose by topic and then by grade level...analogy, opposites, keyboarding games, literature, parts of speech, and so on.

The site is good for:  Phonics--including Dolch words, literature, ESL, vocabulary, spelling, foreign languages (Spanish, French, German, English, and Latin).

The flash animation games help the student make connections between words and ideas, and between words and pictures. My daughter is a right brained visual learner, so this fits her perfectly.


The site also offers super resources for various topics such as speed reading, SAT, GRE Verbal Tips, GMAT Test Prep, How to Increase Your Vocabulary...There are so many of these articles I can't list them all.

There are no sign-up fees, no sign-up process, no setting up an account, or anything like that. You simply go to the site and select what you want to work on. It's as simple as that.

Types of Learning Games Available:

Analogy Games Antonym Games Compound Word Games Context Games Contraction Games English Language Games Foreign Language Games Hig Pig Games Homophone Games Idioms Games Latin Learning Games Literature Games Oxymoron Games Parts of Speech Games Phonics Games Prefix Games Root Word Games SAT Games Spelling Games Suffix Games Syllable Games Synonym Games Typing Games Word Play Games 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Getting It All In

In years past I ALWAYS had unused curriculum at the end of every school year. Throughout the season I just couldn’t refuse all the neat homeschooling resources, especially at homeschool conventions. Can I get an amen on that one?
The last several years our homeschooling has evolved into what I call semi-eclectic unschooling. My daughter uses Time4Learing High School courses (not on a daily basis due to data restrictions) and the rest of her schooling is whatever she is interested in learning more about. She loves the video lessons at T4L, just wish our Internet wasn’t satellite…hate, hate, hate the limits on data usage! 
Using an online curriculum means no wasted resources or $$$. I don’t have to try to sell stuff at the used homeschool book fair or on swap boards anymore. Smile The bulk of my daughter’s delight directed learning is Internet based as well, so I cut out soooo much waste from the homeschool budget. We put that money to good use--books! She loves to read.
I do have one tip for those of you who are looking for ways to organize all your homeschool resources, especially online resources. I have been using a site called Springpad. It is free to use. I even keep things like recipes there. You set up virtual notebooks, task lists… You can follow other notebooks, have people collaborate with you on notebooks and more. I love that if I see something I want to store in a notebook, I just email it and the whole page is there for me. You can store homeschooling sites or just specific pages. Here’s an example.
To sum this all up, using an online curriculum and letting her choose what she wants to study means we definitely do get it all in. How about you?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Time4Learning High School Review

My daughter used T4L from 5th through 8th grade and loved it. It wasn’t that way in the beginning though. I had to force her to try T4L. She thought it was much to babyish for her. Once she started using the program, she found it very engaging. The flash animation held her attention and the work-at-your-own-pace was perfect for my visual learner.

After 8th grade we more or less fumbled our way through 9th grade. We were kind of like a Weeble, except that we DID fall down.  “)

I was thrilled when Time4Learning announced it was offering high school courses. Whew! This was just what we wanted to hear.

My daughter enrolled and hasn’t looked back. The first thing she said was it had a much more grown-up feel to it than the lower level. Since she is a visual, right-brained learner, she loves the video lessons. Her comment to me was, “Wow! I actually understand what the math teacher is talking about!” She was referring to her Algebra I lessons. I must say, I also watched some of the math lessons and I was impressed with the thorough job of explaining the lesson, the math vocabulary graphic, and the review and quiz.

Many of the Time4Learnig high school courses contain quite a bit of writing. They do provide rubrics for the learning coach (parent) to help assess the writing. That definitely helps take pressure off the parent.
Record keeping is easy. T4L does most, if not all  of your record keeping making it so easy to transfer to a transcript.

If you are in need of a high school resource, I suggest you try the demos, take a look at the overview of each subject that interests you, and check out the High School Forum.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Blah, b Blah, b Blah, b Blah

Blah, b blah, b blah, b blah! Ever have a day like that? We sure do, in our homeschool and in our regular everyday life. Boredom likes to sneak in just when you think school is going so great.

Boredom doesn't have to be a downer at all, simply use it as a wake-up call to freshen up your schooling. If your homeschool highschooler is practicing for the SAT, try interactive SAT games to spice things up. If you study history mostly via a textbook, try watching Drive Through History videos. They are awesome--funny and educational. Add hands-on life skills to your day. Have school in the back yard or at the local park.

5 Boredom Busters for Homeschool

  1. Make a video about a particular topic rather than writing a report.
  2. Start a student blog. Take time to enjoy designing the blog.
  3. Hold a song writing competition within your family. (Yes, you need to award prizes!)
  4. Invent something using things found around your home. It doesn't have to be useful, just creative. 
  5. Let you highschooler be the teacher for the day. 
Please share your boredom busters with everyone by leaving a comment. 


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking Forward

Hello 2014, so glad you're here! I have to say 2013 was not very good to my family. We are all looking forward to all the wonderful things 2014 has in store for us. 

My parents are moving in with us toward the end of January--all the way from Texas. It took a few years of asking them to come before they finally gave in. They need us, and we are excited to have them come. Yes, we are all aware of the changes that are going to happen, and I know there are many things that will come as surprises to us. My goal is to embrace the hard changes with love and never make my parents feel as though they are a burden to us because they are NOT. My super sweet husband has agreed to give up our bedroom, huge closet, big bathroom, and our family room to them so they will have their own end of the house. It will be kinda like an apartment for them. We are moving into a tiny bedroom and sharing a bathroom with the teenager. Yikes--she's going to experience lots of change!

If you've ever done what we are about to do, please share your wisdom, tips, and encouragement with me. I know I'll need it. 

As for homeschooling high school, we are looking 'forward'. What about you? The 2013 school year started off a little slow. There have been lots of interruptions along the way, but I'm confident 2014 will move ahead more smoothly. We are still unschooling and using Time4Learing online high school classes. It is sometimes hard for my daughter to school because our Internet is satellite and we are restricted on usage. Lots of her lessons are video lessons which take more data. It's a good thing she is a HUGE night owl because she has to school very late at night or very early in the morning. Our 'free data' time is between 2am and 7am. That's what we get for living out in the country! 

This semester she will take an online writing course. She loves to write, but tends to write mostly fiction. She definitely needs to work on other styles and brush up on all her writing skills. I believe taking the course from someone other than me will be a benefit. It's easy to push Mom's buttons. 

She had her hopes set on attending a week long camp for 3D Animation this summer at the Atlanta Art Institute, but the tuition is $500! That quickly inflated all my tires! I don't mind paying tuition, but $500 is mighty steep for this family. I will say that my daughter is very resilient and will bounce back and keep pressing toward her goal of graphic design. 

We don't have any specific hard goals in mind for 2014, we just want to embrace each day with anticipation and be able to roll with the punches. The unschooler in us doesn't die easily and for that I am most grateful. 

This post is part of the January 2014 Let's Homeschool High School Blog Hop.