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!