Category Archives: Education

Outside Opportunities ~ Back To Homeschool Blog Hop 2017

Outside Opportunities

Know your limits. This is the first rule of venturing outside the home for educational opportunities. There are so many wonderful one that you can easily become overwhelmed and not get in those “basics” that you deem necessary for education. So, know you schedule, make a plan, and set a limit. With this in mind, let’s explore some options that our family uses to further education.

  • Sign Language – A wonderful lady from the church we attend offers sign language classes to homeschool students. The cost is reasonable and the teaching is outstanding! Miss E has really enjoyed the classes and will continue them this year. This takes her out of the house two days a week for an hour but since it is just up the road, I don’t have to disrupt everyone’s schoolwork to take her to class or pick her up. With the quality of training, level of the class, expected practice, interpreting opportunities, and number of hours, this will be counting towards her high school credits.
  • Dance – All three of the girls enjoy dance and want to continue with this excercise and strengthening program. We take them to a local dance studio where they have excellent instruction. We do not do anything competitive and the girls are getting a firm foundation in classical ballet, jazz, and tap. With a formal recital at the end of each school year, this is perfect for us. My only wish is that there were classes during the day time so we didn’t have to always have evening and/or night classes. This year, it will take us out of the home two afternoons per week. But, knowing that, I took it into consideration when creating expectations and scheduling.
  • Violin – While I know my music education, I do not have a good string foundation. So, we are able to take advantage of a program at Baylor that offers string instruction to 4th grade students and up. Miss L has benefitted greatly from this program and we will continue it. They offer very reasonable prices for twice a week instruction and their music education students get classroom experience in teaching. Win-win. Again, I wish there were other time options but I will gladly go for their times when it is quality instruction for a very good cost.
  • Volunteering – Miss E is old enough this year to be able to volunteer at the library and we are considering this for her. She loved helping out in the church office but the hours of the secretary just are not good for our schedule so we have been unable to continue that. She would be able to do this while we are at violin lessons so it would hit two birds with one stone. I like that idea.
  • Church based program – We have several classes that the girls will be taking part in through our church’s Lads to Leaders program. From Bible Bowl, to teacher training, to leading singing in a ladies’ setting, to reading scripture in children’s and ladies’ classes, to learning to be a woman of God, there are many programs that the girls will be able to participate in and grow from. We consider all of these programs part of their education.

These are by no means the extent of the educational opportunities outside of the house. We have scheduled a Texas history trip in a couple of months where we will visit some historic sites. There are parks and museums that we visit. We are not too far from the big, big cities of Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin so we will probably visit them for some opportunities. Field trips of all sorts count towards learning and we try to take advantage of those as often as is reasonable. During the summer we are able to add mission trips, camps, and time spent outdoors with new adventures.

Even with all of this, there is more that we could access. And we might. But this is a lot and it fits the delight-directed learning that we strive for – while requiring certain things for the girls, we allow them to stretch themselves in ways that they find interesting.

At Home.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017From co-ops to National Parks to distance learning to dual-enrollment, visit the rest of the bloggers participating in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017 to see what they have to share about homeschooling opportunities outside the home. Here are a few to get you started:

Kym – Homeschool Coffee Break

Linda  – Apron Strings & other things

Lisa – Farm Fresh Adventures

Meghan – Quiet In The Chaos

Melanie – Tree Valley Academy 

Michele – Family Faith and Fridays

Missica – Through The Open Window

Monique – Mountain of Grace Homeschooling

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How To Homeschool ~ a Crew review

How to Homeschool is for everyone

No, I am not brand-new to homeschooling but after watching the introduction to How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook) I was very interested in reviewing the program. You see, we all struggle with confidence and the daily parts of home education and this program from Apologia Educational Ministries has really helped me with that.

How To Homeschool

Apologia sent me the How to Homeschool course and it is, like all of their materials, beautiful. The course consists of two DVDs and coursebook. The DVDs come in a plastic case that fully protects them for the journey to your doorstep. The course book is a softback, center stapled book of 72 information-packed pages. These two parts of the course work so easily together.

The course covers topics in the areas of

  • “Designing Your Road Map” (setting goals, support, curriculum)
  • “Finding Your Way” (how-tos, organizing stuff, organizing days)
  • “Navigating The Detours” (family, opposition)
  • “Arriving At Your Destination” (graduation, college, and more)
  • “Beginning Your Journey” (continuing education, opportunities)

There are 15 chapters, each with a corresponding video and text in the course book.

notes pageThe course is designed to encourage a first time homeschooling family to step forward in faith and courage. Rachael Carman and Leslie Nunnery invite you into the living room to sit and chat about what comes next. These conversations are comfortable and easy and they show us that there are many ways to approach the homeschool journey but that all of the journeys share one thing: love of family. That is where they all begin and in these conversations, Mrs. Carman and Mrs. Nunnery encourage you to take the baby steps necessary to equip yourself with confidence and knowledge to educate your loved ones.

I have been so encouraged in my homeschool journey by watching these videos and working through the book. While these are aimed at brand-new homeschooling families, I want to share that there is a lot of information in here to be gleaned by any homeschool family. We are about to begin our 5th year of homeschooling and I have been so uplifted in my dedication and desire to continue on with the girls. I have been reminded that not everything works the way we desire or imagine and that is okay. I have been given so many tidbits and nuggets of wisdom just by listening to the conversation of these two ladies.

So, how did I use this course? Simple, really.watching How To Homeschool

I read the chapter in the text. That was generally about 3 pages. I underlined tidbits that I wanted to remember or that caught my attention as I read. Those pages are followed by a space to complete the assignment for that chapter and then by a page for your notes. After reading, I would put on the DVD and watch and listen to the conversation of the ladies about the topic. While listening, I would take notes: things I needed to do different; statements that encouraged me; ideas to think on; reminders of things I have known. I found this to be a relaxing way to spend a few minutes at the end of my days and I would go to bed encouraged.

Each chapter takes only about 20 minutes to read the text and watch the DVD. The assignment time varies depending on how much of the assignment you might have already done and how much thought and prayer needs to go into it. These included writing down why you chose to educate your children at home, looking at options following high school completion, taking inventory of time commitments, visiting with veteran homeschoolers, or evaluating your strengths and weaknesses. All these are bit and pieces of assignments that will help you become who God is leading you to be in your homeschool journey.

As one who has homeschooled for a short while already, some of these assignments were already done and just needed revisited and touched up. For a brand new homeschooler, some of these will take a lot of thought. That is okay – there is not rush to complete this course in a set amount of time. Work through it. Process it. Absorb the wisdom that is shared. Take your time and get everything out of it you need so that as you walk this journey, you know that you are prepared.

My notes page

An additional resource is found on the Apologia website. When you purchase the course, you are given access to extras that are found only online. You will receive a web address and password code in the book that will give you access to these extras. From resource links to printable pages to lists and Pinterest boards, there are so many additional helps that I have yet to make it through them all. This is a definite bonus!

quote from How to Homeschool

If you would like to see a sample of the first conversation in this DVD series, visit the Apologia website for How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook)There is a video on their webpage or you can watch it here.

I cannot recommend this course highly enough. I found this to be such a pleasant way to renew my courage for home education, to find more joy, to brave the daily challenges. I found encouragement and really am moving forward with “stunning confidence, contagious joy, and amazing focus.” Well, at least I hope I am. I feel more confident, courageous, joyful and focused. And that? Well, that’s the whole reason to challenge myself in this way, isn’t it?

At Home.

Read about what other families thought about How to Homeschool as well as Internship for High School Credit by clicking the banner below.

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Following “Rabbit Trails”

following rabbit trails

Today’s middle school Monday post is going to ramble a bit about following rabbit trails. In home education, we often call it following a rabbit trail when we get off track trying to find out information about a question or get sidetracked on something we find interesting or just follow the trail that appears before us when working. It is definitely a delight-led path and it is strongly influenced by the student. All these are good things!

When you are having “one of THOSE days” – you know the kind: no one really wants to work but everyone knows they really need to work but everything is just kind of blah – rabbit trails do wonders for enthusiasm! And for us, today was a rabbit trail kind of day.

world book libraries

10 libraries available

 

I began pulling up some additional resources about China, Siberia, Trans-Siberian railroad, and Gladys Aylward (to go with the YWAM unit study we are reviewing). I had looked a bundle of things up on the library site and decided to wander through SchoolhouseTeachers.com to see what they might have to complement the study. From there, I clicked on World Book to see what the 10 different libraries there might have to add.

interactive map image

part of an interactive map feature

 

Miss E saw me looking at an interactive map of China and started asking some questions. So, we ended up looking at all of the main cities in China and watching a video about the first Emperor of China. Then, we listened to their national anthem, some traditional court music, and some ancient ceremonial music.

video audio maps images of China

part of the media features in the China article

 

From there, she wanted to look up Gladys Aylward and read about her. So we also talked about how we can keep notes directly IN World Book and how to properly cite articles and websites. After reading what was there about Ms. Aylward, Miss E then stumbled across some ebooks on the World Book library.

So, we looked up a bundle of different books and spent some time reading about giraffes with Miss J. Miss J spent a lot of time with the giraffe book and then followed it up with looking at the kids’ library within World Book for more giraffe information. Miss E found some books on mythology. In particular she found one titled Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome. Guess what she is now reading? All 448 pages of it, I expect.

giraffe book

Giraffe book that Miss J was reading

 

I also took a bit of time to show her the timeline feature and library of World Book. She was fascinated. She spent quite a bit of time looking at some of the timelines they have and also working with the features of how to make her own timeline.

I definitely see this rabbit trail having sparked some interest. And how much did these two learn? I have no earthly idea but it was a whole lot more than if I had pushed the regular school load at that time. Yes, they still did math and spelling and some of those “regular” subjects. More importantly, though, is that they each found something to be excited about and to follow the rabbit trail a ways. They will remember much about the trails they followed today and that is what learning is all about!

At Home.

Scheduling

Middle school scheduling seems to change daily sometimes. It can be so tiring. But, changing we are. This time, we have put a ton of thought into what we are going to try. Additionally, we have put some parameters in place for helping ensure that the schedule is followed. And, third, we gave options to the middle schooler and took her answers very seriously. So, here is what we are doing for her this year.Miss E scheduleThis is where we are starting and we have acknowledged that some students work well with only positive reinforcement. Some need the possibility of negative consequences to do what is required. We have chosen a couple of possible consequences for the girls if they are not ready to start school on time. I am not looking forward to having to enforce this but we are prepared just in case the situation arises.

Since we discussed options for this schedule prior to its writing, we do not foresee issues. If there are some, we will change her to what is going to happen with her sisters. Their schedules are still set with a start time and have noted the days and times that we have scheduled activities, such as dance or Art Center classes. But, the big change is that Miss L and Miss J will be working with checklists. This will be the concept of “get started, work hard, and get done.” Check things off as you go and all will be good. Here are their schedules.

I am sure there will be days when this just won’t work but that is the beauty of home education. We can change things to help them work so that the girls are getting what they need, rather than what fits the majority.

I always enjoy looking at other families’ schedules. Please share them with me if you have a post written about what you are doing.

At Home.

 

Favorites: curriculum

Favorites.

That word is quite loaded, isn’t it?

What does that actually mean? Well, if you look it up, it means “preferred before all others of the same kind.” So when we are talking about curriculum, it means what is our preferred curriculum.

Still, that is pretty loaded. Do I go with what I prefer and like? Or the giggly girls? And which giggly girl? For which subject?

Miss J – age 7

Favorite subject: Math

Miss L – age 10

Favorite subject: English (specially cursive and poetry)

Miss E – age 12

Favorite subject: art

 

Horizons math cover

 

For math, we are using Horizons for all three of the girls. It is working well and it has taken us a while to get to this point. Miss J really enjoys math and will ask to do more than one lesson each day. She enjoys math games and has fun with all things numbers. We also enjoy using the free games from Sheppard Software and they have some pretty challenging math games.

 

 
For English, we are very eclectic. It also kind of depends on what you determine English to be. If it is Writers In Residenceparsing sentences, we don’t do that. If it writing, Miss L has been using Writers in Residence. She still is enjoying that and I think it is still a very good curriculum. For cursive, we have used a couple of different things (see New American Cursive) but really, once she knew her letter formations it was just a matter of encouraging her to put it to use every day. She really enjoys working on making it beautiful now. If you are looking for literature, we are using NotebookingPages.com. This opens up the critical thinking options and gives each child the opportunity to give her own take on the story or passage we are reading. We have researched a bundle of different book lists and ask the girls to read some specific books but overall, their literature comes from unit studies we are working on. Poetry? Well, Miss L really meant writing poetry. She doesn’t mind memorizing poetry, which we are doing, but she just enjoys the flexibility and freedom of creating her own poetry.

mobileMiss E? Well, she would rather not have to do school at all. So, she has absolutely no favorites. She really seems to enjoy art and we do that locally with The Art Center of Waco. They do a weekly artist study during the school year and we love attending that. We tend to try to do some additional study of that artist during the week and we have learned a lot of techniques with that. (See three posts I have shared about the Art Center: Matisse, Art Camp, and Rendon/Chagall.) We have also used Artistic Pursuits several times and we do keep that available for picking up a lesson here and there. (See reviews on the grade levels and on Construct.) Additionally, we enjoy using the art lessons from HodgePodge. Quick and easy yet applicable to many different studies we are doing.

 

My favorites? History. I really enjoy studying history. We do that a number of ways, much of which is literature based. We read and study a number of non-fiction books for each topic we cover and so far, we have chosen topics based on interests from the girls. Will that continue? I don’t know. With Miss E in 7th grade this year, we probably need to focus on some more specific topics so this area is up for debate at the moment. Hopefully, I will have this all parsed out in the next couple of weeks.

We will jump back into full time school at the beginning of August so I guess I’d better get moving on those plans.

At Home.

Favorite Curriculum 2016
I am sharing these somewhat random thoughts as part of the TOS Review Crew Round Up of Favorite Curriculum Choices. Looking for something in particular? Head over to the lineup and see what others have shared. (This goes live on Friday, July 22, at 8 EST so if you click over there ahead of that time, you might get an error. Come back and visit after the link goes live!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making gifts – Middle School Monday

Making Gifts

One thing that I love about the process of home education is that so much falls under the heading of education. We can do something in the evening and it will fall under schooling. Take, for example, making dinner and/or cleaning it up. All part of what a home economics class would be. So is sewing. But sewing also includes design, textiles, and the actual construction of the product. That was what we did today. And, it was a project for a baby shower. How perfect! Learn and then bless someone else.

All of us did some sewing for the baby shower but I am going to start with Miss E, since she is the middle schooler AND she did the project all on her own with only a little bit of input here and there or instruction when something didn’t happen quite like she expected. Her project was a personalized, light-weight baby blanket with a decorative border.Making gifts Miss E with blanket

Making gifts by Miss E

 

She did a fancy zigzag stitch on the top of the blanket for hemming the edges. Then, she decided where she wanted the name, positioned the fabric, programmed the machine, and made sure it went right. It came out so sweet. I just know that it will be loved!

 

 

Making gifts by Miss L

 

 

Miss L decided that she wanted to make some baby washcloths. So she picked a super soft flannel and planned them double sided. She stitched the edges and then turned the square right side out. After pinning the opening closed, she then top stitched around the edges of the entire piece. They came out real cute! This baby is gonna enjoy the soft washcloths.

Making gifts by Miss J

 

 

 

 

 

Miss J made a burp cloth for the baby. She chose a soft flannel, as well, and added a ribbon embellishment to it. She then sewed the piece with the right sides together, turning it out and topstitching it to close and finish the piece. It came out just like she wanted it to, she says.

 

 

 

So, we are ready for the baby shower now. A life of education that can couple with service or blessing others is definitely one that I hope the girls learn. And we are certainly on our way.

At Home.

Reading Aloud – Middle School Monday

Do you read aloud to your children or family? Our family absolutely adores read-alouds. We have at least one going at all times and it is not at all unusual for us to have three or four going. I have one of my choice going, At Home Dad has one going most of the time, and we often have one or more going to school purposes. (Right now it is just one: Little Men by Louisa May Alcott but when At Home Dad’s school gets over, he’ll take up either the final Great Brain book or a new Half Magic sequel that he found last week.)

It may seem crazy to some people to be reading out loud to children who are completely capable of reading for themselves. It isn’t. The research is more than compelling about the benefits of read out loud. But, more than that, it is great family bonding time. It brings us together, gives us a lot more to discuss, brings new words and ideas into our language and thoughts, and so much more.

Reading Aloud

I am currently reading The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. It is not the first time I have read it but it just as fascinating this time through as it was the last time. Mr. Trelease goes through a bundle of research on the benefits of reading aloud. He also gives a large amount of anecdotal research and background. These are a joy to read as they encourage and support our choices and understanding in this area.

The second half of the book is a treasury of titles and short summaries of books that are good read alouds. I plan to go through these and mark the ones we have done, as well as the ones we want to do. I have looked through this book before, but it was a loaner from the library so I could not mark in it. This time around, I bought my own copy so I can mark it up as I wish to. It was not too expensive at a big-box book store and I am so glad that I have my own copy. This is one I think is a “must-have” for homeschoolers and parents who want to do the right things by their children. I am actually considering making it a baby-shower present.

I encourage you to read it and to take up reading aloud to your children. Everyone will benefit.

At Home.

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