Thursday, December 30, 2010

The end of a year..... Goodbye 2010...Hello 2011!

The end of a year......
Can anyone believe that it is the end of 2010? I cannot, nor can I grasp that it is almost the end of our Christmas Break from homeschooling and here I sit not ready...
I do this every year, I plug in 2 weeks off over the Holidays with great plans that I can get it all done PLUS be ready for our next 9 weeks of school. And somehow it always flies by and I spend the weekend scrambling to be ready..... of course the boys LOVE this.... they cross their fingers that Mom will NOT be ready and they get a bonus day or 2 off....
Give them an inch, they will take a mile!
What will 2011 bring.....
Well, my oldest son turns 14 tomorrow and will be finishing 8th grade May 2011. We will have to sit down and make some hard decisions on his high school years. Will we homeschool or will we send him to public school? He has ADHD and trouble processing steps, especially in Math. This may or may not plug him into some special education programs at public school. I know there are many kids out there in need of special education and ADHD is low on the list, but his way of processing or handling things greatly affects his schooling. It is the main reason we pulled him from middle school in Fall 2008, he was being left behind. We are really focusing on his Math skills, test taking skills and to improve on his vocabulary and spelling. He is the WORST speller and doesn't try, he would rather ask me or his brother and for years we have been his crutch. Whether we homeschool into his high school years or we send him out into the wide world of public school, he needs to be ready to take steps on his own and my goal for 2011 is to spend it getting him prepared for this.
Many people set resolutions for themselves, my resolutions are to homeschool my boys to the best of my ability so that they can become the best they can!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Writing.... it's a good thing!

As we finish the year with gifts and goodies.... it brings up writing, especially Thank you notes. My kids HATE this time of year because Mom makes them sit down and put pen to paper to write Thank you notes to their family and friends for the lovely gifts they received.
I love it, because not only am I giving them a tradition(I had to do it to and when I was a kid...hated it) but they get to practice their writing skills.
Out of all the homeschooling lessons I have had to cover over the past 3 years, teaching writing is one of the hardest. Kids are SO computer oriented these days, they do not get WHY they need to learn how to write properly. And because Mom said so... well, that doesn’t always work. So, having a time of year to instill these reasons is all the better!
We work on writing 4 days a week. My Mom is in charge of their writing program for the most part, she comes up with the plan and I enforce it. We sit down at the end of their school day to teach writing. We learn writing prompts, punctuation, proper use of capitals, spelling and even how to read and write in cursive. They mumble and grumble about it but I notice as well as their grandparents that each year.... the Thank you's are written better and better. And they were also able to read all the cards they received which were written in cursive! Writing...... it's a good thing!(Sorry Martha Stewart..... had to steal it for this one!LOL)

Monday, December 20, 2010

New to Homeschooling?

If you clicked on this post then you must be new to homeschooling or are just being nosy! Of course, either is good in my book, because -in my opinion, you can't be a successful homeschooling parent without wanting to learn all you can. When I started on this journey, I was scared, nervous, excited, happy and a little sad. Now let me tell you why I was sad, I am sure that you can realize why the other emotions were there anyways. I was a little sad because my boys were ending something that was normal for everyone in my family or friends. They had at least one good friend in school and I didn't want them to lose those friends. Also for all the extra things that they could do in school that I didn't think that I could do at home. Boy, was I wrong about that one! Even the books they were reading were about kids who go to school, I didn't know of any homeschooling books who shared experiences about homeschooling! Again I was just not informed on any of my reasons for being sad to end something that wasn't working for my oldest at least!

I can honestly tell you that I have all of the emotions I listed above from time to time, even now after homeschooling for over three years! I think that most parents or grandparents feel the same way. These emotions are good for all parents to go through, it keeps us on our toes. Well , me anyways! Just yesterday my oldest was invited into a 9th grade English class that one of the homeschooling moms is starting up. I was so nervous about him being in the class, mainly because it would contain a lot of writing. (which is something that we are still working on) But isn't that part of the overall schooling process? You decide (sometimes together) what would be best for your child's education and just take a leap of faith. The outcome,from experience, is usually positive in one way or another and you have just given your child something new to excel in!

So if you are looking at starting to homeschool you kids, pulling them out from an existing public school or maybe you are thinking of doing it from the very beginning. Just know that you are not alone whatever you decide to do!

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Confession and Compound Words

Well for those of you that know me you know that language arts isn't my strongest subject to teach from spelling to grammar! I do try my best and I do love to read and listen to stories with my boys. We read a lot of different stories and try to work our spelling,writing and grammar to go along with our favorite stories. This last week because of the holiday season we did "A Christmas Carol" which we borrowed an audio version from the library so that we ALL could enjoy the story. While we listened we did our art project for the day, making our gingerbread train(yes a kits but fin all the same!). By the mid point of the story we were done making the gingerbread train and on to EATING IT!

After the story was done we started talking about what happened during the story and started making our spelling lists. We came across several words that were hard for my 3rd grader to say or spell out so we found a compound word games for him to practice. I have to tell you that I had as much fun as he did with these games, they were well put together and very entertaining! We stayed on the site for a long time just playing that game and others that looked like fun. One of the things that I love about homeschooling my boys is that if we get off subject there is no bell to stop our learning fun. I tell a lot of the moms that I talk to that,especially if your kids have ever went to public school, that go with the fun and the learning will come.

Taking stock in what we did this year

I am having a hard time believing that this year is almost over seems like just yesterday we were celebrating 2010! But atlas, 2010 is almost gone and now it is time to take stock in everything that we have learned this year. (both good and bad!) I have learned that my boys do well when I give them jobs or tasks to do, that they are only too happy to complete tasks this way. But what about them taking it on themselves to do lessons that they know are coming due. (without me always saying something) My boys, a 3rd and 8th grader, are developing well in almost every area that I test them in. Something that I like to do to make sure that they are completing their assignments is to go in a check in on their daily log in on our favorite online teaching program, Time4Learning.

I love being able to check in quickly on what they have been doing (or not doing sometimes) during this busy time of the year. This way I can go into further discussion with them on the things that they aren't quite getting, like for example.. my youngest was having problems with the difference between rhyme and rhythm . After explaining what they were, we went onto a learning game for him to practice a bit more on how to tell the difference between the two. This is just one of the reasons that I love being able to have a backup way to "check up" on my boys progress. It also allows me to see areas that they might even know that they are having a problem in.

How Happy Holidays become Homeschool Lessons....

Turning the chaos of the holidays into a homeschool experience! Well, once again... another year has flown by and the holiday season is upon us! WHEW! Where did the year go... my baby is going to be 14 in 2+ weeks....*sniffle. Christmas is around the corner and this means that we get a break from homeschooling! But, I am not going to let the opportunity pass to make this a homeschool experience. My 7th grader and 8th grader are old enough to help and this in itself presents an excuse for Mom aka ME to turn it into learning! -Insert evil laugh here- The long list of holiday baking is a Science experiment as well as Math! You need to read the recipes and understand the abbreviations aka Language Arts! You mess up, then the whole creation is a disaster. Wrapping presents is definitely math! The item is an object and you need to figure out the area of paper needed! And the story of Christmas could be considered Social Studies depending upon your point of view. And whatever else I can think of to turn into lessons! So, despite my boys being off of "homeschool" for 2 weeks..... Mom will be sneaky and their "helping" will be using the lessons that they have learned to help me! And as far as I am concerned it is a double bonus because I do not have to do it all alone, plus I get some great one on one time with my boys! SCORE!
Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Key to learning.......

I feel that the biggest part of being a homeschool parent is to find what works for your child and use that to encourage learning. We all know that is we are really into something we have a tendency to go full throttle and learn all we can about it. Why not use this for our kids! If they are not strong readers or have trouble with reading comprehension, then find books(for their grade/age/reading level) that pertain to what they are interested in. We are not all born readers and the key to getting your non-reader hooked is to find something that turns them onto reading. My oldest child is that way. He was never a reader, it was an avoidance for him. He struggled through public school and when we pulled him to homeschool, I was surprised how behind he was. He was and still is a Star Wars fan and that apparently was the key. We started by bumping up his reading with reading comprehension programs and getting the lower level Star Wars books. Easy reads but it made him hunger for more. We gradually bumped up the level to where he is in 8th grade now and reading the adult Star Wars books. My younger son is and always has been a strong reader. He read at an early age, he devours books and many times he will be in his room reading instead of playing video games or on his computer. Which is great since hubby and myself are both that way. I love to read, always have and I am a fast reader. My only problem is time!LOL I am a Mom who runs her business out of her house as well as full-time homeschooling SO.... reading is usually 5 minutes before bed now. So encouraging my younger son in his reading is easy since he is an animal lover. Even this year for Christmas, he will be getting books on animals. Finding other ways for them to practice reading that isn't in a book is by finding online games that they need to slow down and read the steps. I look for any games that encourage this and with my younger son, online animal games are great! Finding Star Wars games online are a bit harder, but they are out there! This has really improved their reading comprehension and their spelling abilities which makes me a happy homeschooling Mama!LOL

Monday, December 6, 2010

Using the homeschool buddy system!

The best thing about homeschooling, besides knowing you are doing the best for your kids... is the online parent community. You may not have time to talk to other people face to face with our busy schedules, but you can jump on your computer, cellphone, etc. and post your question to a wonderful group of people and get real answers from people who has been there and done that!LOL I cannot tell you how many times I have asked what I deemed stupid questions only to be told they are not stupid, but valid and ended up with many helpful suggestions. I love getting parent input on curriculum reviews, because who really knows the programs, books, etc. that we are wanting to use but the parents that have bought and used it. My favorite joke is that I am thankful for my computer because all my friends live in it! And it is true, while I have a support group of local homeschoolers..... I have an even larger group of computer friends and supporters whom without I could not do my day to day homeschooling. I always suggest to anyone new to homeschooling that they check out several online parenting communities as well as look for local online homeschool groups in their area. The buddy system always works!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Great Games to End 2010 With

This is the most exciting time of the year for us. No, not a deluxe vacation some where warm.( it would be nice) I am talking the the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. My mother always made this time of year special for me, with being allowed to help in the kitchen (with the cooking not so much the dishes!) or having a candy making party! I try to make my boys holiday season as special as she made mine. But being the mother, cook, housekeeper, therapist and most important teacher can have its draw backs sometimes! Why you ask? Well because some where between the candy making and decorating the house for the holidays, we have to squeeze in some lessons as well. That's why I believe a lot of homeschoolers take off a good chunk of "school" days during this busy time.

I have to admit our load gets lighter during this time or should I say my load of tasks to do with them get lighter. They are still required to do some work, that we must get done on a day to day basis. Like, oh I don't know, SPELLING! Lucky for them and myself I found some online holiday games with spelling lists for them to accomplish, this important subject in my house. Another subject that we had just gotten into was Spanish, so I hate to take a break for too long in it. So to break up the amount of time that we spend together on it, I found some great games in foreign languages. My youngest said " Mom, aren't we going to do our Spanish today?", then I explained that he just did. He was totally impressed with being able to play a game and it counted!

During this holiday season don't forget to give yourself a break and let the kids play some great educational online games!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It is the small things to be THANKFUL for.....

Well, we are almost 3 months into our homeschooling year and I am THANKFUL that it is Thanksgiving week! That means a breather for me! I love homeschooling my 7th grader and my 8th grader, don't get me wrong. But, this time of year with EVERYTHING going on.... plus homeschooling, it can get a little crazy. Having a week of not having to deal with school, means 2 happy kids and a Mom that can concentrate on the other 100's of things she has to do before we leave for Thanksgiving weekend at my parents.
And it gives me a chance during our 6 hour drive to reflect on our schedule and curriculum and adjust anything that is or isn't working for us. Any printable resources that make my life easier are a godsend! I am constantly scouring the internet for any free printable lists or printable resources for 6th grade, 7th grade or 8th grade. It gives us a break from our online learning and gives the boys a chance to use a pencil!LOL I know that while the next week of family, friends, turkey, snow, driving and chaos will be BUSY, but I also know that my little break from homeschooling will allow me to come back refreshed and ready to attack our next few months until Spring Break! Only 4 months and counting!LOL
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Math and Science-a perfect marriage;)

Hi all! I have been doing some research- yes again! But this time about trying to accomplish mixing two subjects together, you guess it- math and science. Several sites offer an online math and science program, that work with each other to get each lesson done. I have found that for my oldest son this works well,and it seems to be just what he needs. I am hoping that the math and science will make more sense to my oldest and allow him to grasp the subjects better. He is a very visual learner. So that theory behind showing why he needs to learn a certain type of algebraic problem will make sense once he sees that it ties to science.(his favorite subject right now)

We accomplished a fractions lesson last week while working on a science experiment. We doubled the ingredients needed so he could practice his adding of fractions. It worked and he was smiling the whole way through the lesson. BONUS! Of course, this is a simple lesson with math and science but it was my first attempt at it. Afterwords, he even asked to play some online math games that deal with fractions. There is so much information on the web that it is easy to find what you need to help your child succeed in life, and sometimes its FREE;)

Where are we?

Geography is falling by the wayside in our school systems! That is my opinion and I feel it is a fact.
I remember that in 5th and 6th grade my biggest obstacle was to learn States and Capitals. We had to pick 2 States to write to their information center for a packet on that State and do a report on it. I picked New Jersey and Hawaii, don't ask me why those States..... I am sure I had good reasoning then!LO
And to this day, I can still get 90% or better on any States and Capitals quiz. One of my few parlor tricks!LOL
I was SO surprised when my own kids went thru public school Kindergarten thru 5th grade and they had no idea on ANY States and Capitals.... not even the State we live in, Oregon. Our first year homeschooling we didn’t touch on it. I had enough on my plate with 2 middle schoolers, new to homeschooling for all of us, etc.
But, our 2nd year homeschooling I knew that my kids were missing out on a large chunk of their education. We added Geography to our curriculum. We added many US 50 States games, both online and on paper. I bought them board games, flash cards and books. We used our State homeschool info to learn more about our State. They each had 26 States and had to do full information sheet on each of them, then they shared their books with each other. I do not expect them to know their States and Capitals in their sleep but I do expect them to know a little about the Country and State they live in!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eclectic and Secular Homeschooling, make a recipe for success!

Are you an Eclectic homeschooling parent? Most of us are but have you ever really thought about it?

In our household we adapt many of our studies around what my boys are interested in studying. I believe that it is the corner stone to homeschooling successfully. This technique of homeschooling, allows my boys to move at the pace that is most comfortable for them. While also providing the most challenge for them as well. We also love adding some other activities to our lessons to make them even more memorable to the boys. During our cave man studies, we took about a week reading, making cave drawings ( on paper of course), and even discussing eating habits of our ancestors. The boys even loved the idea of starting a time line from the beginning of human civilization.

Almost every homeschooling parent I talk to does something like this with their children. After all, it is why I became a homeschooling family to have the freedom to adapt our academics to best suit each one of my boys! One of the very first sites where I realized that I was an eclectic homeschooler was on my favorite secular homeschooling site! The members on that site, gave me ideas on how to mix things up for my boys. The inspiring homeschooling stories that were shared on the site made me push the envelope when it came to teaching my boys. I started going into further depth with science projects, letting my third grader speed ahead in math until it was starting to get harder for him.

What type of homeschooler are you? You just might be Eclectic and Secular homeschoolers!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Playing to Learn and Learning to Play!

Running a daycare in 2010 is nothing like it was in 2000. Kids today know more about computers than I did last year!LOL
As a childcare provider who also offers preschool to her clients.... finding a program that works for my kids is important. These kids enter Kindergarten and start computer skills.
Finding an online preschool curriculum was important to me, because I want them to start learning the basic computer skills as well as add to their current preschool curriculum that I offer. Children learn thru many different ways and each child has a unique way. Running a daycare, you get to see and deal with that first hand! WHEW!
I can guarantee that I sleep good each night because I spend my day with these kids! Preschool learning games that teach basic colors, numbers, letters, sounds and shapes with cool and cute characters are GREAT! It keeps the kids interest for a short period, is entertaining and they learn! We do lots of hands on learning here but the kids all get to have a short amount of computer time each week to help their preschool learning along! I feel that this will prepare them for entering their elementary school years.
My daycare motto is Learning to Play and Playing to Learn and I feel we definitely accomplish this on a daily basis!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It All Comes Down to Spelling

For me, spelling is always an issue. Anything after the basics are always a challenge for me to get it through to the boys. To be honest, I have an older son with ADHD and repetution is the key, but not only that I have to make it enjoyable to constantly repeat the lessons over and over. I don't know if anyone else has these kinds of problems but I am thinking that they do! Since the internet has exploded with online lessons and spelling/vocabulary game galore! OK maybe it happened long ago but since I started homeschooling I have so many sites that I can go to if I have any types of problems to do with spelling or vocabulary.

Like the other day, when my youngest was doing his aloud reading we came across contraction words. So that peaked his interest in what other words you could "get away" with not spelling the complete words. So I got online and found a great site that had some wonderful contraction word lists for him to look over. He was amazed and even was telling his dad about all the new contractions that he could now read and write. Those are the days that I can go to bed and be happy about the day. I am wondering what things others struggle with and what they do to make it through?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Art.... how do I love you!

I love art! That was my original college goal.... to be an art history major. That was before kids, before running a daycare and before homeschool.
Since that is not in my future..... I still try to include art as much as possible in both my children's homeschool day and my daycare kids day!
Finding new ways to get them interested is always a challenge. Once again, my love for the internet comes to play!!
I love looking for online art programs! There is SO much out there and so many ways to express art that there is no way you cannot find something that appeals to each child's personality! Any online games ALWAYS appeal to my boys, you say "game" and they would do it! Art games are a perfect way to meld what I want them to learn and how they want to learn! Best of both worlds!
And the best part is, that art can be mashed together with many other learning areas and kids will not even know they are learning! You need Math for figuring out how much material you will need or how big of a canvas. Reading to understand the way to properly use the supplies. Science for mixing colors.... and the list goes on and on!
Just think how many ways you can add Art to your kids lives!! The possibilities are endless!!!
Go and Create!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Do you ever feel like a big dummy when you open your mouth? Well I do! Sometimes I wish that I had taken more interest when I was in school. I mean really wouldn't I just love to open my mouth and make people stop in awe at how the words just flow from my mouth. It is definitively something that if I could I would go back in time and pay more attention in school. I often find myself listening to people talk and realizing that I don't know what the words that they are saying mean. So what's a mom to do but look silly and ask OK what does ... mean? It also helps show my boys that it is perfectly fine to ask people questions and that you don't have to know everything. And that every day is another learning experience for all of us including Ms Know It All MOM;)

So in my house importance of vocabulary is always on my mind, with my boys. We play
vocabulary games both online and off, and the weekly challenge of a new word to learn is always something that I am searching for in their writing assignments. Some week I allow them to find a word that they want to learn and others I pick words that I want. And we incorporate them into sentences and writing journals every week. I am consistently asking others in the homeschooling community about what they do with kids, to make their verbal skills excel. So my question to all of you is... What do you do with your kids that makes them remember those vocabulary lists?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The dreaded T-E-S-T-I-N-G......... *sigh*

I do not know about you, but I HATE testing! I am not a good test taker, I fail miserably not matter how well I studied. I do not know what happens or why, but I freeze up, mind goes blank and test goes down the drain!
So, when it comes time for my boys to take tests that are important and pertain to moving on in their homeschool challenge.... I like to make sure they are as prepared as we can be for the test. Mom cannot sit next to them during the test, so I try hard to get them to be able to work alone and understand it is ok.
As my oldest approaches High School(next year....*sigh*....where did the time go), I know that we need to not only do his standardized testing by the State that is required at the end of 8th grade but we need to look ahead at SAT courses to prepare for his SAT's.
I will do this several ways. First, as his Mom and homeschool teacher I will check into all the info I can from my end on how to best approach this. Then I will get reviews on several online courses and books available. We are not rich and I am frugal and hate to spend $$ on stuff that is worthless! I think reviews from others are very important! Esp. from other homeschooling parents, as I think we tend to want to get our $$ worth and the most bang for our buck! Then, we will start off with the easiest books or online courses I can find and work our way up to the harder ones so that I feel he is fully prepared when the time comes.
8 months from now, I will be dropping him off to do his standardized testing by the State and I am working with him daily to improve not only his testing ability but his ability to do it without my assistance. And when he comes back out, I will no longer have an middle schooler.... I will have a high schooler because I have prepared him for his testing!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Magic and Mystery Books, your kids can read..

I have been looking at books for us to read for Halloween, and while we have some classics that we love to read every year. I am looking at incorporating some mysteries and ones with magic into the mix as Halloween gets closer. So I looked into finding some books about homeschoolers to see if any would fit that category. You know something perhaps the boys could relate to the characters more. And I found that some of these books have been around for a bit, I had just never heard of them before. Some even have some lesson plans and spelling lists/games to go along with them! Bonus in my book!

Here are a couple that I found out where mysteries with homeschoolers as the main characters in the story. Gunrunner Moon has a homeschooling family trying to solve a Civil War mystery. Cross Country Treasure Hunt, again has a homeschooling family driving across the US while trying to solve clues left got them. Skellig has a boy (who goes to public school) and his next door neighbor( who is homeschooled) trying to find out who or what the character Skellig is. There are at least four more books on this site that either have magic or mysteries to solve for us to check out. But so far the boys are enjoying the stories and even the spelling/vocabulary games that go along with some of them as well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spooktacular Fun!

I love holidays and I love incorporating a holiday into our homeschool and my daycare day! I usually will spend the 2-3 weeks prior to a major holiday doing things with the kids!
Crafts, word searches and fun foods have been our favorite ways to celebrate in the past. Now that my kids are older, they are not as into holiday things as I would love them to be. Homeschooling and our flexible learning program allows me to come up with new and creative ways to incorporate holidays into our everyday teaching! Holiday spelling lists cover this! The boys get some extra spelling words, but it seems like fun because it has to do with the holiday we are celebrating. I usually try to make it a fun contest, something hidden in the words, etc. so that it doesn’t make the holiday feel like a school day, ykwim?!LOL Right now, we are celebrating Halloween and while we have been on break for the past 2 weeks from school.... Monday morning we will be using a whole list of fun Halloween words for the last week of October! I have a jar of small candies that I will use as rewards for who can complete it correctly, the fastest, use the most words in a sentence, etc.
What creative ways do you incorporate school into fun!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tests, tests and more tests....

So you are homeschooling whether it is for one hour or 20 years, and what is one question that most people ask you? Yes how are the kids being socialized, not really a problem with anyone I have talked to. I guess I should have said the top five questions and you have this one asked for sure! What test do you use, if any and what SAT courses are available to homeschoolers? The SAT testing is one I am personally looking into for our near future, I want to have all the information possible that I can about this well recognized test. From what I have gathered together so far, the most important part (at least for us anyways) is the writing section. This is an area that we have struggled with since the boys were in public school and we have been working hard on since starting our homeschooling adventure 3 + years now. And it is one I am always talking about as well, but giving information of what I have found and asking more questions.

Another question that I get a lot of people just starting out is about how we as homeschoolers keep up with standardized testing by state laws. Well some states don't have required yearly tests while others give you the test that they will accept and no others will be accepted. I personally look for different sites that I frequent like, and many blogs or websites on homeschooling that give you samples of how to judge if you are ready for your tests. Here in NC the state test given at the schools are the EOG, which is lacking in my opinion. But I am able to give my boys a test that I believe fits their learning styles, we use the Woodcock Johnson tests given by a certified tester. Even though, here you can administrator certain tests yourself with no requirements.
So that's my two and half cents on testing, whether you are the one giving it or not. Personally I think it is a good idea if families see where their children are at every year. It gives me a jumping point for the following year;)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

So now you are homeschooling......

Where do you go from here? What do you use? How do you go about it?
This runs through the minds of ALL homeschooling parents, whether you planned this from the beginning or are jumping into it later in your child's schooling!
I had these thoughts and I still do on a yearly basis!
Finding a curriculum for homeschooling that offers enough to provide your child with a good basis is essential! It takes a lot of research on the parent's part to find something that works for both you and your child. Not all curriculum's will work for all people.
Before we became accidental homeschoolers, I had already toyed with the idea of homeschooling. My husband was not into it, flatly refused, etc. so I quit checking out curriculum's. Then it happened and suddenly homeschooling was real, it was here and I needed to figure out what to do!
I searched online and stumbled upon Time 4 Learning! It looked AWESOME! We could work at our own pace, he could use different grade levels if needed- not the grade society stuffs him in, etc. We signed up and have never looked back! Their curriculum for homeschooling allows me to set up all the need to do, it is on their computer right in front of them, I can check their progress, their grades, we review together what they need to redo, etc. and it allows me to add to our curriculum the fun, extracurricular stuff!
For their writing classes, I have and use 2 choices. We have their Grandma, the retired schoolteacher who has created a writing thing between them and herself. Plus we have online writing classes. These essentially give the boys 2 versions of writing, so I feel they have a well-rounded basis for writing.
Will I still think and wonder about their curriculum for homeschooling next Fall.... you bet. We wouldn't be good homeschooling parents if we didn’t review, ponder, update and fiddle with our curriculum! That is part of the joy of homeschooling!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is this your first year homeschooling?

Are you struggling with your curriculum? Or maybe just one subject, like writing or spelling?
I remember that first year we started homeschooling I was a mess but of course I tried not to let anyone see me sweat! There are so many homeschooling curriculum choices out there, it can be so overwhelming to someone who is looking at homeschooling their kids. I know that I researched for a good 6 months while the boys were still in public school to make sure that I was prepared. Or so I thought anyways;) I think that best advice that I received from a veteran homeschooling mom was relax, I thought yea right and let my boys become dumb under my supervision! But of course she was right ,but it took me the entire year to finally admit it. Now we are in a better homeschooling frame of mind, there are days that we are working hard all day long and others well we are lucky to finish the basics.

One area that I know I talk a lot about is writing and spelling, well because I feel like they are my weaknesses and I don't want to pass that along to the boys. So I source out those subjects both through online games and programs, but also through our homeschooling group classes. I am always on the look out for any homeschool writing classes or tips on making my boys stronger spellers. (I am consistently thanking the person who developed spell check!) I always feel better after they go through someone's class and they say , "Your boys did a great job".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Lost Art of Handwriting!

Many public schools are doing away with handwriting aka cursive. They are doing so because kids are more computer oriented and therefore are needing less and less to know how to do cursive or handwriting. I beg to differ! Handwriting is a lost art as far as I am concerned and while it is SO easy to jump on the computer to jot off an email to someone..... to take the time to sit down with a pen and paper and put words onto paper is special! I believe that kids need to know how to write and read in cursive! It is an important part of growing up and one I feel all kids need to know about!
My Mom is in charge of the boys writing program and since she is a retired teacher, she is a firm believer in cursive! YEAH!!! So, not only do the boys do most of their writing on paper but they have to do cursive. Once a month they get to write a cursive letter to her and she insists that they do their spelling words as cursive! I love the
printable handwriting worksheets at Spelling City! They are AWESOME!!! Not only do the boys practice their spelling words but they get to practice their cursive at the same time!! Homeschool multitasking!! When they are not doing their writing by hand, they get to use the computer and for that my Mom requires that they practice online keyboarding games. Basically it is the dreaded typing class we all had to take in high school, but flipped around and made fun!! Where was this when we were kids!!!LOL The boys think they are playing games yet.... in reality they are learning how to use their keyboard more efficiently!! Another homeschool multitask!! Love those!!!

Is math easy or fun at your house?

Is math easy or fun in your house? If so please gloat below;) Well I guess that I could half gloat, my 3rd grader loves math at the moment but my 8th grader... does not! I think that because I started homeschooling when my youngest was in 1st grade, we would try to find interactive math programs or online math flash cards. It helped him discover that learning the math facts can be fun and not stressful. Unlike my oldest who went through public school until 5th grade, math was a subject that he didn't think he was good at. But in fact he was, he just couldn't say the math facts as fast as others could. He now loves to play games where he is racing the clock instead of the student sitting next to him. We especially have liked the cartoon based math lessons that we receive from Time4Learning, my boys are usually laughing at something that the character says or does. And a bonus is they are learning as they go!

Positive reenforcement at its best! When a cartoon character can tell you that you are doing a great job, what else would make a boy happy?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What a week......

Anyone have one of those weeks that you are just exhausted when you start the week? That is how this week seems have gone!
I started out tired from the busy weekend(one of those that one little project snowballs into a ton more!) and it went crazier from there!
Not only am I a homeschooling Mom of a 7th Grader and an 8th Grader but I run a daycare/preschool! I have 2 new boys starting this week to go with the 2 boys I already have in my care and starting on Wednesday, I had (2) 2 yr olds and (1) 3 yr old and (1) almost 4 yr old plus my 12 yr old and my 13 yr old! Can you say drowning in testosterone!LOL Having new little kids in the house means I shadow them until they learn the rules at my childcare. Doing this allows me a lot less freedom than I would normally have, which means for the first week or 2..... our homeschool schedule slacks off because I just cannot do it all!LOL I consider myself Superwoman(as most Moms do!) most of the time, but I can only stretch myself so thin.
This is where I am SO glad that the boys are online homeschoolers for most of their schooling!!! I can let them chill at the kitchen table and work on it with little supervision from me during this crazy week, yet still be close by for any help or questions they might have!!! They do either Spelling or Geography in the morning online, then during naptime we do Time 4 Learning, then afternoons are usually their writing program which is run by their Grandma, so any questions or issues they have can be directed towards her! I just store the papers to mail back to her!LOL
I am glad that my week ends on Thursday night, as I know I couldn’t retain my sanity if I didn’t have Fridays off completely... though this week is the start of a once a month homeschooling activity we take the boys to on Friday afternoon..... Ok, so I will rest and relax........ummmm, maybe Saturday!LOL
Stay tuned for next week's blog from crazyville!!LOL And in the meantime..... you can send me peaceful, positive thoughts so I can survive!! THANKS!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How excited are you about your literature studies?

If you said "not very", then I think that we are all on the same page! I rack my brain every couple of weeks trying to add some fun literature activites into our schedule, sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don't! We have been doing alot and I mean alot of online help with spelling, grammar and comprehension questions lately.

Recently the boys took a online writing course and I was sooo relieved that someone else was going to be doing the grading of their work for 8 weeks. They loved getting online and seeing what their online teachers said about their work and even showed dad when he got home the grades. Of course, we still had to practice handwriting but it wasn't as painful for them or myself since we just practiced the letters that looked like chicken scratch.

We also have been checking out a site that has stories about homeschoolers with some lesson plans already done for us. Along with some fun vocabulary online games links and online spelling games from words in the story to make it easier for the boys. We loved two of the books on the site and my oldest asked the last time we went to the library if they had the next book in the series. A big deal for us,since he has only been into fantasy as of late. He even commented on how in one of the books the character had to put up with kids in middle school that were not being very nice. He told me that he was glad that I was homeschooling him so he didn't have to worry about that everyday.

So all in all we had a great week with our literature studies this past week, now this week is another story. Oh well you can't win them over every week, right?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Westward Ho, Oregon!

The best part about homeschooling is finding other people in your area that are homeschooling as well! It gives you the sense that you are not alone in this adventure! When we first started homeschooling, the first thing that I did..... being a computer nerd and prefer finding out info via the world wide web..... I went online and found groups and info about homeschooling in my State of Oregon! And being that I think kids should know info about the State they are living in, I also look for State games to enhance their learning!
And this is SUCH a bonus for us now, since my son has completed his Social Studies online and we are kinda floating for his 8th grade year. I decided that he should learn all he can about Oregon. And he loves it, because he will be reading a book about the State or doing an online game and the place will be somewhere he has been and knows! Little does he know that this shows me he is LEARNING!!! Doing the Homeschooling Mom happy dance!LOL So, hop on the computer and check for some great info on homeschooling in your State, State Groups and State games online! You will be amazed at what is right at your fingertips!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Book 'em homeschoolers......

As a homeschooling Mom, I feel it is very important to let your kids know they are not alone! Homeschooling used to be the oddball in terms of education for kids. Nowadays it is becoming the mainstream choice for many parents and because of that, there are lots of books by homeschoolers and for homeschoolers! Homeschool literature is wonderful because it shows our kids that their education is not considered different, lots of other kids do it and it is wonderful!! Books by homeschoolers show our kids that they can do anything that they put their minds to! Writing a book, flying a plane, being a Mom, a chef or a teacher! I love finding new books written by homeschoolers for homeschoolers OR books where the kids in the story are or were homeschooled! It just makes my day!! And to the authors out there, that are letting the world know that homeschooling is here to stay and we are proud... I thank you!!!! Keep up the good work!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Are your kids learning the US states this year??

Well another year has come and gone, with that passing I realized that I hadn't done an in-depth US state study, yet! I am centering the state studies mostly for my 3rd grader but my 8th grader is coming along just for fun;) We are learning the state capitols, state bird and state motto just to name a few. I found a great online site that helps my game crazy boys learn more about each state. It has a great nature calls game, state vocabulary game and many more state related learning games. I found myself playing the memory match game, shhh don't tell them.

But I also adding in a study of the animals, birds, reptiles and insects from each state as well. I have two animal lovers in my house and I felt like it was a great way to add in learning about our animal friends from each state. This way when I actually have the time and money to go to these states I am sure that the boys will be able to name some of the animals, etc that we see! (at least I hope so!) Speaking of learning more about animals I have a site that has some awesome animal sites listed on there home page right now. So check them out and let me know what you thought about them!

My Favorite State Support Group

Ok, so are you new to homeschooling, or not clicking with your local groups? Well I have the solution, think online support. Since I began homeschooling in 2007, I have become members of many different support groups. But I have to tell you that I get alot of my information from my two favorite online support groups. The first one is NC state support group, (the state I live in;) and the other is a secular online support group with members from all over the world! What I love about the NC state support group is finding out about local events in my area and connecting with other Tarheels in my area. The secular support group offers over a 1,000 members (so far) who are willing to share any information that you could think of! Between those two groups I am pretty much set , they offer a great online support on the days that I am stuck at home (especially over the cold winter months!) Its funny what you can learn from a total stranger, with only one thing in common! Homeschooling my two boys has been the most rewarding experience I have ever done and now with the support and friendships that I have gotten from mainly these two groups I can see myself going all the way through high school with my boys;)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back to school with online lesson plans;)

Are you back to school yet? Knee deep in learning about something new? I find that every year we are all very excited with taking on new subjects or taking new classes at local museums. This year I sat down the month that we took off (July) and tried to see what was working for our family and what wasn't. We have added some new things and kept the old ones that kept our interest through out last year. But of course some have to go, I mean there is only so much time in the day right?

Well we have been back for a over a month now and I am finding that I need to get some more online lesson plans to help with spelling and writing. (seems to be a yearly need!) And I have added some really cool sites that help with spelling, and teach grammar through games. Our favorite for this year has to be, we just upgraded to the premium membership so that the boys can enjoy new games that they did not have access to, through the free membership. Hands down "Letterfall" is our favorite at the moment, reminds me of that game we used to play as kids with the alien spaceship trying to destroy your spaceship.(of course I can't thinkg of the name at the moment) But my youngest giggles as he tries to catch the right letter as the mouse drops it, in my book that makes for a great learning game, LAUGHTER!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So fun to say....

Slime-Time-Lime-Mime-Rhyme.... rhyming words are fun to say and usually one of the first major steps kids take unknowingly towards learning Language Arts. Little kids LOVE to rhyme words, I think because it feels funny on the tongue and just seems silly! LOL My kids were no exception and I as a Mom and Daycare provider still do it on a daily basis! I think it is because I am just a kid at heart. I love being silly and making the little kids giggle or my teenagers roll their eyes.... but I do see the hint of a smile or smirk they are trying to disguise!
I love finding great things online that reinforce these simple and easy games we do in just every life! Rhyming word games are a perfect way to expand on being silly at home. And it helps your child in their Language Arts lessons! Words are mainly a pattern and when we can show kids that there is a pattern, they can expand their vocab and usually the next step would be learning to read!
You can also reinforce these rhyming words by creating online spelling lists for fun and practice! Sit down and check it out along with your child and you will be amazed at the bonding time and fun you will have together.... while they are learning!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Is Art Important in Your Child's Life?

Art is very important in my house, partly because both my husband and I are artists to one degree or another. So by default my boys are doing art almost on a daily basis. Whether it is through crafts that go along with our Story of the World lesson or drawing a bug on our new nature study trip. We are adding this to our everyday life as public schools are dropping this important subject due to budget cuts, throughout the US.

I was excited to find an online art program that teaches my son about art, and he gets to practice some of what he learns afterwords. Then I stumbled onto a learning site that features art games that I can use as part of their art learning lesson.
These would be a great supplement for all those public school children who are now losing art classes.My oldest is the one taking the online art program right now but showing or working through some of the lessons with my younger son. I love it because he doesn't complain about doing his daily online art program like he does sometimes for his math! Between these two sites I have alot of our art bases covered and it gives me some extra time to plan out our day, which is always a bonus for any homeschooling parent.

This is why we feel art is important, what you do think? Is it a part of your child's everyday life?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Riddle me this, and spell that!

My youngest has always been into riddles and silly sayings, he loves to sit there and watch me try to say the words in Dr Seuss books. Usually laughing the whole time because I get my tongue all twisted up trying to go faster , it makes him smile bigger and bigger. So recently I tried to see if I could get him to for his writing assignment make up funny sayings or riddles. But we has some problems getting started. I was doing some research on ways to make it easier for him to write down a story about his dog, only to make it into a riddle for his brother to guess what he was writing about. He did a pretty good job on his first attempt and for his reward we did some online riddle games.

All of our families writing assignments have exercises to help with our spelling skills, which is always a struggle for my boys. I have found that if we bunch as much of grammar, spelling and sentence into every writing assignment, that we improve every time. I am trying to do this with all our assignments this year to see if we can improve our test scores for next year! Time will tell!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fall is in the air......

And that can only mean one thing..... back to school time! As any other normal homeschooling parent... I need to spend a few minutes running around screaming because once again... my best laid plans for the Summer to get organized so we have a smooth start.... well, they somehow disappeared....AGAIN! I do this every year! I even count down, have goals, etc. and then the nice weather hits and I am putting those plans in the recycle bin and heading outside!LOL
Needless to say, the first week back to school is mild and very loosely planned because we are just not ready. I have found making lesson plans of some sort seems to keep myself and my boys better organized in the chaos of this! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE online lesson plans because 90% of my downtime is spent at the computer! If the lesson plans are right there in front of me, I have no excuse for not updating them or following them! Of course, I can and will still make an excuse but they are SO easy to use and keep track of what we are doing and when! Plus my husband can look and see what we are doing in our homeschool day, which helps keep him on board!
An organized homeschool is a plus when it comes to juggling homeschool, teenagers and normal everyday life in general!
So, stop running around screaming.... grab a cup of tea or coffee and sit down to make some online lesson plans for your upcoming school year and relax!
Hugs for a Happy Homeschooling Year!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A helping hand thru Middle School!

Let's face it, whether you homeschool or public school your kids.... Middle School sucks! It sucks for kids and it sucks for parents! As the Mom of 2 Middle Schoolers.....each day comes with its own trials and tribulations! Let me tell you.... I never know WHO is going to walk out of that bedroom, Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde!LOL I am sure by the end of it, my forehead will have a flat spot from smacking my head against the wall in frustration!
Don't get me wrong, I love my boys with all my heart.... but there are days that I do not like them!LOL I feel for them though! I totally remember that stage as an awkward teenager with braces, no sense of style, liking boys but not really liking them, pimples.... and the list of Middle School horror goes on and on!
It is a transition stage of puberty, hormones, scheduling and chaos! Kids are no longer "babies" but they are also not the "grown-ups" of high school. They spend a lot of time learning who they are and what they are about. It is the beginning of serious social networking and because of that.... many kids have trouble keeping up with lessons.
Either way, you can supplement their daily lessons with tutoring but who wants to try to find the perfect tutor! You can also look for online after school help! Time 4 Learning is PERFECT for that! They have complete lessons in Math, Language Arts, Social Studies and Science in Middle School grades to give you child that extra push to make it through the school year! And the fact that it is online and animated for most subjects, just makes it that much more fun for your child!
My boys are homeschooled and have been since the start of Middle School. It was a personal choice for us, as our local Middle School was rated very low and we tried it for 5 weeks for my oldest son and it was a disaster! If we had stuck with it, I know we would have used something like T4L to help supplement him! As it is, we signed up for T4L as homeschoolers and it has raised his Math grade from an F to a solid A.
As we approach the start of another school year, if you have a Middle might want to consider checking into some online after school supplements to give them the best school year they can have!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love, Love, Love Literature with my boys

Are you like me always looking for the next good book to read to your kids? This year I am continuing to read out loud to the boys, mainly because it makes all of us really get into the same story together. We all really have fun listening to the stories and the boys tell me things that they remember from past stories and how it relates to this one. Plus even though I have a teenager who loves to read by himself, he still enjoys listening to a story read by someone else. (Shhh don't tell his teenage friends)

I just finished another story about homeschoolers with the boys, and they loved it!
We read the Cross-Country Treasure Hunt (and the Mystery that Followed), which took a
homeschooling family on a road adventure across the US. I am totally loving that there are
books about homeschoolers out there for me to read to my boys. And for them to read as well!
Along with a great states study, I also used it to make up my own spelling list for the boys
to use and of course plays games with both the states and the spelling words. You know when you just have a great day with your kids, and there wasn't any tears or "Do I have to do that?" You can sit back and realx that night knowing that you taught your kids something that they will most likely remember for years to come. (not just for a test!) Well I had one of those days yesterday and I am looking forward to doing more lesson activities with them like this again, SOON!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Latin.....the ancient Internet!

The internet is EVERYTHING nowadays! It basically is the root of everything we do. We email, we google, we search, we read our news online, we chat with others and the list goes on and on.

Well, the easiest comparison for me to that would be Latin! Latin is the root system for the majority of our words! If you don't believe me, google it!LOL

When it comes to learning Language Arts, learning where our word roots come from is VERY important. Because once you have the foundation for your words, you can learn ANYTHING! And you can understand the meaning and reasoning behind the word itself and the definition!

Latin root vocabulary skills are a good way to get started! Kids can easily learn through flashcards, Latin matching games or create your own method that works for your kids!

But, once you start.... remember that your word "root" system will grow and grow and pretty soon your kids will have the tree of knowledge!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stories about homeschoolers

OK, could there be a better literature lesson then having your kids read about other homeschoolers as the main characters in books? I didn't even know that stories about homeschoolers existed. I did my famous research and BAM there it was a site for homeschoolers to go and find books about characters that they can related to! I never knew that there were so many and new ones are coming out all the time now. Since homeschoolers in general have doubled their numbers over the last ten years. I had my oldest read two of the books from the site Schooled and Surviving the Applewhites and he loved them both. And he even went online to see if they were a series. OK you have to understand that he never reads anything for fun but fantasy and graphic novels but he devoured them in a matter of days. Something I only see with books like Eragon or the Percy Jackson books, etc. It means alot to me to see him expanding his reading list to include books that are not in his normal area of interest.
It gets better along with these books there were lesson activities to go along with the books. So basically I had literature based word lists for each book for him to go over. In my option that makes for a much better well rounded book comprehension reading experience, wouldn't you say?I can't say that there are space alein homeschool books yet but who knows I am bookmarking the site to come back to!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homeschooling - My Way!

I am not one of those people that likes labels, to be told what to do and how to do it, or made to conform with society! I have always danced to my own beat, dressed how I wanted instead of the latest fad, picked my friends because I liked them for who they were inside not their looks, and colored outside the lines! This is how my Mom raised me!
I guess that is why when we made the decision to homeschool and learned all the different labels..... I decided we were definitely eclectic homeschoolers! None of the programs we found were covering 100% of what we wanted, nor did we want to be stuck homeschooling something that was a by-the-book curriculum. I researched MANY different programs, tossing each one aside for various reasons. Too religious for us, we are more secular homeschoolers. Too regimented, we were trying to get away from regiment. Too much like public school, YIKES... that needs no explanation!LOL We finally stumbled upon Time 4 Learning and it was perfect! Followed federal guidelines so we could stay on track enough to pass our required State tests when needed!! Not religious, so we could add in what we believed as we saw fit! No regiment, we can work at our own pace! AWESOME! And most of all.... definitely NOT like public school!! We add in other things like a writing program designed by my Mom, the retired schoolteacher. A spanish program thru their Nintendo DS. We use TV shows like Junkyard Wars or Dirty Jobs as learning programs! I would definitely consider this eclectic homeschooling!
We start our new school year next week and while we are starting out slowly just using T4L, we will definitely still be eclectic homeschoolers because within a few weeks we will be adding our own way of homeschooling to it so it fits us!
Happy Homeschooling - My Way!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Homeschooling Parent Communities and Reviews

What are you looking for when you hear the words curriculum reviews? I know what I am wanting to hear from actual users of the products/service not for someone who has never used them. I mean sure its nice to hear someone who can write a beautiful piece about a product/service that I am interested in. But too many times I have bought or subscribed to something only to be disappointed when it didn't meet my expectations. Has that ever happened to you? Come on be honest now!

Well lately, I have discovered that by finding an online parent community and asking other parents who are homeschooling , what they thought of what ever it is that I am interested in , that I seem to get better results. People who have actually purchases the product/service are the best, in my opinion, of a review that I can trust. I recently was looking for a great online writing program for my oldest to do for his writing time. For me, having to teach all those rules and grade his work was more than I am wanting to take on right now. And yes I do plan on taking an active role in his writing work, I mean kind of mother do you think I am? But this is a nice break, and it is thanks to a member of one of the online parent communities that I am a member of. So the morals of this story is to..... find people you can trust before you shell out your dough!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Pig did a Jig in his Wig.....

The Pig did a Jig in his Wig......

I don't know about you, but I love Word World on PBS! It is geared for younger kids and since I do daycare, we watch it. Not only are the animals entertaining but everything on the show is made out of a word. And they love to rhyme and do fun riddle games. Kids learn how to sound things out, how to rhyme same sounding words and how just changing 1 letter can make a huge difference. Kids love animals and kids love to be silly and I think rhyming words or tongue twisters that make their tongues dance and feel silly are fun, and when paired with animals....well, that is more fun than the Pig who did a Jig in his Wig!LOL I look for things that will get my kids to learn and understand anything better! Both of my boys LOVE animals and when I can tie learning and their love of animals together by using educational animal games... I jump right on that! Kids learn better when you can get something they are interested in as the core and then work with it so it becomes educational as well!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer help with starting back

Well summer is almost over and some of us have already started or want to have started!
I decided this year that I needed a little more time off for me, not the kids. So again, I began to
look for some online summer courses to get them started. I mean they need to get back in the swing of things and I was looking for some help. This is the time that they need to do some refresher work and I searched for some summer educational games. I figured that it would be the best idea I ever had, to save me hours of banging my head on the wall!

And you know what? It worked we finished our time off and I set up trying slowing to have them work a couple of hours here and there. I had them play the games and do some simple worksheets for the first couple of weeks. We are now on our third week and I am confident that I
will not have the tears I had last year when I started them full force into our school day.

Time will tell but now I have one less thing that I have to do when we start up~ reteach the last months of our year OVER!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


You are making history as you sit here and read this blog! I am making history as I type it! Might not seem like much, but somewhere in cyberspace this will be archived and will seem important to someone!LOL History is an important part of learning, it teaches our children how our world was shaped, what it could become if the wrong or right decisions are made, and what they can do about it. As a homeschooling parent and a internet junkie, I am always looking for help via the internet with all of their subjects. History seems to be the one though, that we prefer online. Nothing worse than a dry, boring textbook that makes history seem SO boring. I remember sitting thru high school history class as the teacher droned on and on, then would assign us a chapter of the most boring stuff to read. UGH
Well, tell you what.... that has changed and we as homeschooling parents have the choice to toss those dry reads out and find something SO cool online!
I do not expect my kids to know and remember every little detail but I do think things like Wars,
US Presidents, Women in History, Men in History and Important Timeline Events should be learned about! Google is my lifesaver, plug in something like online history program and you will get lots of cool things! It is just a matter of finding a program that works for you and your child!! The internet can and will make history come to life!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Starting out and Learning about the States

When I began my homeschooling journey several years ago, I was at a lost for what I supposed to do to get started. I was very lucky in the sense that I had been thinking about doing this for some time and had been slowly getting schooled myself on the subject of homeschooling. I found several helpful sites in my search to find state homeschool info on homeschooling laws and advice on what to do first. Several sites gave me great information and were just full of helpful members. I had one parent forum on homeschooling that I just clicked with immediately. Everyone from the staff to other newbie homeschoolers were on there asking questions and giving their take on things. They gave me helpful advice on ways to save money on books, by going to the local library and used book stores. I also had a lot of great tips on what books I should start reading before I started the first day. Saving money was another thing that I got from this forum, they were all too happy to tell me what worked for them and what didn’t. Fast forward to this year....

Now with a 3rd grader this year, it is time to learn all 50 states/ capitals and other important info.
I again turned to my faithful friends that I have made on the site, looking for anything to help me with this task. I needed everything from what they used online and offline! I was relieved to find a US 50 state games site as well, because as you know we are a game family! I will keep you posted on my progress and would love to hear your take on how you taught the states and capitals!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Contractions are easy to teach if you have the right tools;)

Ok, coming from a house of reluctant spellers, I have to say that to teach contractions wasn’t that hard. We all use contractions in everyday life from texting, emailing and even when we are talking to someone else. My kids have no problem saying the contractions, but were a little confused on what stays and what goes when you add two words together.
I first started by giving these two definitions of contract and contraction.
Contract Definition: To draw together. To shrink or shorten.
Contraction Definition: Pulling together two words dropping one letter or some letters substituting an apostrophe (a comma that hangs in the air) for the missing letters.
Then I made up flash cards for each of the most common words that we use... can not becomes can’t and do not becomes don’t. And so on, we made a memory matching game out of these to play which was both fun and a great memory lesson. Next I made them write out simple contractions like..... I + am =,You + are =, She + is =, because with my kids it is necessary to have many different hands on experiences as possible.(and its good for their writing practice) Lastly it was time for fun learning time, and guess what? I found online contraction games that goes over everything that I just taught them! I love the Internet and the wonderful people out there that make my homeschooling life easier.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Math.....our albatross!

We are accidental homeschoolers, this was not really a choice but it was in the back of my mind for a long time that it could eventually become reality. My oldest son is SO much like me when it comes to certain parts of school that it is scary. He has issues with Math, it is his albatross and it was and still is mine as well. I spent all my schooling years learning I had a mental math block, math issues, math learning it whatever you want.... math was never easy for me. I took algebra 4x in high school and really still have no clue about it. When my kids started school, my fear was having to help them with their homework and it be math. When my son started Middle School we knew trouble was brewing and it was brewing in Math. He was floundering, we talked to the teacher and she really did little to help him or help us. Her solution was tutoring 3 hours a day after school and not by her, but by another student. 4 weeks into the school year, she gave the students an almost impossible problem and 2 weeks to complete it. We sat down and worked on it as a family, figuring it out daily until we had it complete or so we thought. He turned it in on time and came home with an "F" on it. The teacher refused to explain what we did wrong. I was done, he was feeling as low as could be and we knew right there and then that we had to make a choice - homeschool! We haven't looked back over the past 2 years! But, I was back to the same feelings of math being an albatross for both my son and myself. I was the main teacher, could we do it or would math be our downfall. During a quick week of research, I found Time 4 Learning and their program was just what we were looking for, online-animated-adjustable levels for each subject. After a doing our first Math lesson, I knew that we could do this and it was no longer and albatross for either of us! I quickly learned that he was behind for his 6th grade level and we needed to find ways besides our lessons to catch up. He has a hard time with memory retention on paper but can describe to me a computer or video game in minute detail. I started searching for online math flash cards to help his memory retention. Amazing how many other child oriented interactive math programs there are out there. I knew if it was online and fun, he would get it and retain it! We are now getting ready to start our 8th grade year and while we still stumble over areas in Math, we have come a long way in a short time. He is caught up to his grade level and I do not think that he would be this far without Time 4 Learning or the online math flash cards and other interactive math programs we found! I consider that a success!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Games and Learning go hand in hand (in my house anyways)

As a mother, with two boys 5 grades apart, learning games online are a must in my house. It keeps them both busy while I work with the other one. Language Arts is the most intensive subjects we do, just think about it, spelling,writing,comprehension,phonics, reading and more all in one subject!

Recently we started going over compound words, mostly as a refresher for my older son, or so I thought. He has ADHD and finds it very helpful to go over things on a regular basis, and once he gets the concept its there forever. But my younger son was having problems getting the concept of compound words, so both myself and older son tried to explain and show him as many of different combinations as possible so he could understand it. Finally we were all exhausted and took a break, well they did not me. I went online looking for compound word games, for both of my boys we have found that if we get stuck or they need some extra practice that finding a site that has learning games for them to use they always get the concept after a couple of minutes. Come to find out he understood just fine but he was trying to break down the words too far (into smaller sounds). Problem solved, well at least until next time!

Can't, Won't, Don't Make Me!

We as parents go thru contractions to bring these bundles of joy into the world, whether we are the Mom sweating, huffing and puffing or the Dad having his hand contracted into pulp as he gives support!LOL Who knew that years later we would use another definition of the word on a daily basis and as homeschooling parents have to TEACH contractions! The mere thought of teaching things like phonics, punctuation and contractions sends me into chills. Why do they need it, what will it ever be used for.... who cares?! It is not my strong point and usually spent with many, many, MANY phone calls to my Mom, the retired teacher so she can walk me thru it.....again! I am sure she could make $$ writing a book on how to teach your daughter this stuff so she understands and retains it.....LOL! Because as much as I would like to look the other way and not have to teach it.... we ALL use a contraction at least once a day! By Websters definition a contraction is; a shortened form of a word or group of words, with the omitted letters often replaced in written English by an apostrophe. For example, do not becomes don't, cannot becomes can't. Think back over your day, your emails, your conversations..... how many times did you use a contraction today?! Amazing isn't(another contraction) it, when you start to think about it!
Got to love modern times and thank goodness for the Internet! Search engines are a lifesaver when it comes to figuring out cool sites that correspond with what you are trying to teach! We have found that spelling games and contraction games are the way to go, to instill the correct usage of a contraction.... along with a little fun!LOL
Now, you have no excuses to tell your kids they "Can't, Won't, Don't Make Me" teach them contractions! Instead, go online and say I can, I will and PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE Make Me and then have fun with contractions and your kids! I promise it isn't as hard as you think!

Friday, July 9, 2010

More than just a box of crayons....

As an Art and Art History lover, I naturally thought that my children would somehow be born with that love. Silly, I know.....
Yes, they loved sitting down with me and opening a box of crayons(awww, that new crayon smell!) and coloring in their newest coloring book when they were 3, or learning to use scissors,glue sticks and glitter to create a magical Christmas gift made just for Grandma when they were 5. By the time they could hand draw Pokemon characters themselves, Mom time was forgotten. And Art was nothing more than drawing something simple that they were interested in. You cannot imagine my excitement when a few months ago, Time 4 Learning started offering an online art program. And not just any art program. It allows kids to express themselves freely while learning about Art! Suddenly my kids were interested in Art and allowing Mom to hang with them while they learned! YIPPEE! One more convenient thing that Time 4 Learning has added to their ever expanding core curriculum, which we use for homeschooling.
This gave us the interest to explore what other online art programs were out there! We found several but they were not equal to what Time 4 Learning offered. Then we found some offered Art in game form, so we refined our search to art games. Jackpot! We have now opened new windows in our continuous homeschool adventure! Art was a test program added to our 2009-2010 school year and will become an staple for our 2010-2011 school year! I have already plugged it into our schedule! One more thing off my never ending list for homeschool!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A little bit about Me.....

My name is Katrina and I am a homeschooling Mom of 2 busy boys! Happily married for 17 years to my husband Chris, a Medical Assistant. We have been homeschooling for 2 school years and getting ready to start our 3rd year in August. We were accidental homeschoolers, after my oldest son had issues entering Middle School. My husband and I feel that this was the best choice for our kids we have ever made and wish we had made it sooner! We use Time 4 Learning as our core curriculum and I swear by it! It has turned my "I hate school" ADHD child into a smiling, learning, happy boy! It has made my gifted, school didn't challenge him child love to learn again because he can work at a pace and level that works for him! Luckily, my Mom is a retired schoolteacher so she handles the writing portion! It worked well for us last year and we are using her again this year! While we use Time 4 Learning as our core for Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts - we also add our own few touches like Spanish on their Nintendo DS's, Free Reading, Hands on Science using an awesome kit from Grandma, Spelling and the afore mentioned writing program. I am a WAHM, work-at-home Mom! I run a daycare/preschool out of my home and have for almost 20 years, so things are never dull and slow around here! I am currently upgrading my license, so I will go from 3 toddler/preschoolers to 6! Nothing like a good challenge!LOL With 2 tween/teenage boys, 3 toddlers, a new puppy, 2 crazy cats, a frog, a chameleon and 14 chickens life can get a little bit hectic. I know that I could not homeschool like we want to without Time 4 Learning, it is a sanity saver! Happy Homeschooling!

Online Writing Courses

Hi, my name is Michelle and I am like most homeschooling parents, wanting to make sure that my boys have a well rounded education. Along with that, there are areas that I can not teach as well as I would like. We all have our favorite subjects to teach but writing has never been one that I have excelled in teaching my boys, so I went to the internet and found a homeschool online writing program. The wonderful thing about this program is that your child has a real life writing teacher, that grades their work for you. My middle school son has gotten much better in his writing since taking the first Middle School Basic Writing Mechanics course. Another plus is that I decided to start having my son be responsible for getting their work done without me having to tell him. Everything is laid out for the students once they log in, and when they finish a section the teacher grades it before they move on. I was a little worried about if he would finish on time but he did a great job! For him writing is not the favorite subject but he got a B, proud mother moment.

This is a great way to get some homeschool writing class in this summer, without it being alot of extra work for the parents.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Help for the Helper in Getting Writing Help!

Okay, so my niece needs help with her writing but I can't seem to find the one size fits all online writing course. Now if I were rich and famous I would just hire a tutor or send her to a Kumon center and just like my car they could diagnose her and fix the writing problems. But I'm a person of humble means and those aren't financially accessible to me right now. So I had checked out Time4Writing writing courses before and was very impressed by their selection of writing courses for kids of all ages. And at less than $13 per week of instruction, this is a steal of a deal.

But to be honest, I was always overwhelmed at the choices and had no idea which one made sense to fix her problems. So today when I visited the site, I found this nifty writing problem diagnostic chart with the solution or best class paired up with typical writing problems. What a releif for me. I easily found her problem - she can't seem to stay on topic when given a writing assignment. I found her problem on the chart and finally I can move forward and enroll her into the Welcome to the Essay class with confidence. And even after 2 weeks of the 8 week class, if we need to change, we still can without penalty.

Check out writing class selection chart and select the perfect class for your writer with confidence!