Monday, December 26, 2011

Rolling down the highway...learning about America.....ROADSCHOOL TRIP!

Since we became accidental homeschoolers, I have wished we could roadschool. I think that concept is the bomb! Hope in the car, go hit the open road and learn along the way. You get to travel the places we live, stopping at your whim, learning what America is about. What better way to learn history than actually being at Custer's Last Stand, Battle of Bunker Hill or heck, even where Elvis lived because let's face it...he is The King! LOL
Unfortunately, with Hubby's job and mine....this is not a reality. But, we do take every opportunity to roadschool when we hit the road to Grandma's, take our family vacations or just travel around Portland while we run errands. We leave a little earlier so we have time to stop at our whim, or we plan stops into our schedule IF we know about them.
So..... as I sit at home with my 8th and 9th grade sons....working on yet another complex math issue....I dream of hitting it big on the Lottery and becoming a roadschooler.
I would love to hear from other homeschoolers who DO roadschool, whether like us...when you can OR all the time. I can live vicariously through you!LOL
Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Becoming a book lover.....

Growing up, reading was second nature to me. I learned to read by 4, I was reading college level by 2nd grade and reading anything I could get my hands on for the rest of my life.
I worked and volunteered in the school libraries at any school I attended. In fact, my 9th grade year I worked as extra curricular the whole year and made a goal for myself to read at least 1 book per day. I ended up reading 380 books during those 9 months of school. Part of that was traveling on a school bus for an hour+ each way 5 days a week, the rest was I was a teenager and could stay up late and read until 1 am, get 4 hours sleep and function at school the next day! LOL
Before I even had my first child, I had a collection of children's books for them. By the time my oldest son was born....I had a huge bookshelf full and read to him daily. By the time my second son came along, that had doubled. When the military moved us for the last time, we had 10 boxes of just children's books... needless to say, I hoped my boys would LOVE reading.
Neither of my boys learned to read as early as I did but they did know by the time they finished Kindergarten. I worked with them at home and they had a really good reading program at their school. One of the few things that was good about that school....but that is another story. My oldest son was not a strong reader, he was not into reading and it was a chore for him. I felt bad, I really hoped that my boys would be like their father and devourers. I tried every trick in the book, I bought books that would appeal to his interests, I bought books that were companions to movies that he liked, I even bought comic books and cartoon books in hope that it would spark his interest more....nope. I hoped that his brother being a reader and sharing a room with him would help, nope.
I thought it was a lost cause with him......
Now that he is homeschooled and we have learned how poor of a reader he was and his lack of spelling knowledge....I am thinking that a lot of that was the issue. Over the past 3+ years of being homeschooled, he has not only become a better speller and reader but he has learned to read and LOVE IT! We have a hard time telling the boys to turn off the lights at bedtime because they are reading. They never go out of the house without a book now, just like their Dad. Because you never know when you will have to sit somewhere and a book will keep you busy.
I get requests from both of them for new books, companion books to the series they found at the thrift store, wanting to go to the library to look for new books..... it just makes both of us proud that they are now book lovers!
My motto is you can never have enough books. Every Christmas and Birthday, every one of our nieces and nephews receive a new book from us. My boys get multiples, especially if I find a new series I would think they like. I cannot wait until this Christmas because of the books I bought them! I love giving them, especially when it is to book lovers!
Have you read a good book lately?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Is Spelling part of your homeschool day?

Anytime I hear spelling, I do not think of Tori Spelling..... but of winning 2nd place in the Siskiyou County Spelling Bee in 6th grade! That is my major accomplishment of my young life!LOL I lost the first place win with the STUPID word, mathematics. UGH! That should have been my first clue that Math would be the bane of my existence!LOL
I was really surprised when my own kids were in public school and I realized that spelling was not part of the curriculum. My oldest son was a horrible speller, he could barely spell his name. Something was wrong with this picture. So, when I started homeschooling them...I knew that I was definitely adding a spelling curriculum to our lesson plans.
Not only did they do the spelling on Time 4 Learning but I plugged in their lists on Spelling City so they could use them to take tests, play games and become better spellers.
It has worked because my oldest son went from barely being able to spell his name at the start of 6th grade to being able to send an email or chat with a friend via online and Mom doesn’t have to hover over him, correcting his grammar and spelling! I am so proud of him, because I know it was hard but I feel that if spelling were part of the every day curriculum in public would be better off. Nothing is worse to me, than reading a post or an email and it is written poorly, the spelling is atrocious and you know they could do better.
So, is spelling a part of your homeschool day? If so, what do you do to make it work best for you and your kids? I am always interested in other ideas!

Writing for a blog.....what to do, where to go, how to get started!

I cannot believe it has been over a year since I started writing on this blog. It was already established when I came in so it was easy to step into others shoes. I love writing for others to read!
But, I did start my own blog back in April( talking about my chaotic life of raising my own teens and homeschooling them while running a full-time childcare and teaching preschool lessons.
I had to learn how to create a blog page from scratch, set it up to my liking, add my d├ęcor, learn how to post, what the heck are widgets and how to eliminate all those comments from spammers!!
What is the easiest way to figure all this out? Take a blog writing course! I did and it helped BIG time! I went from not knowing which button to push, how did that get there and why, what the heck is this widget word you keep speaking writing, posting, deleting spammers, adding widgets, adding sponsors, adding friends blog buttons.....
I am a blog queen now! Ask me about my blog! I am very proud of myself, because I am not really a techo person....heck operating my basic cell phone is confusing sometimes....but I was able to set up my own blog!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Making homeschool work for your Visual Spatial Learner!

Do you have a visual spatial learner at home?
I do and I am one!
I prefer the hands on approach for ANYTHING I do. Show me, do not tell me or let me read it.
Most textbook approach to things is SO boring, I am lost. Forget it, done deal.
Give me the same thing on TV or hands on....I got it, I enjoy it and I will retain it.
My oldest son is like this.
Very rarely does he read directions, he can look at this 1,200 piece Lego kit and know EXACTLY how it goes together and completes it within a short time period.
It amazes me! I would at least have to look at the picture directions for part of it!
So...when it comes to his homeschooling we tend to switch things up so that it works best for him to learn at his optimum!
Homeschooling math is our biggest issue, as my readers know! It is my bane of existence and his as well!
So..... writing the problem down on paper does not always work.
Instead, we use objects or if I do have to write it down....I try to do it in relation to something he can relate Legos.
Science, that is ALL experiments or I find an experiment that goes with the reading he HAS to do.
Social Studies....well, this one is harder. But, I do try to find videos that go along with as much as I can find.
So....if you have read this and realize that you DO have a visual learner and might need to shake things up to make homeschooling work better for them!
Jump on the old computer and find answers on how to do that!
I did!!
Happy Homeschooling!

Do you lapbook?

Are you and your kids lapbookers?
We are just starting to get into homeschool lapbook writing!
I first heard about this right after we started homeschooling in 2008, we were accidental homeschoolers and had NO clue about homeschooling and thought it sounded really cool to add to our curriculum!
Bought a ton of supplies and then we forgot......
Our goal this year, once the holidays are one of our 2012 New Year's Resolution is to each create a lapbook.
I do not care what subject they pick, just that they each put their heart and soul into it and come up with something great that they enjoyed making!
There are lots of great sites out there to help you get started! Basically, if you have some paper, poster board or manila folder, scissors and crayons you can make a lapbook.
If you want to get even more can get sticky pockets, pop-ups, stickers, etc.
It is basically something that creativeness in your child is GREAT because they can get as crazy or as simple as they want!
So.... when you are stuck with what to do....bring out that art box and let them learn to lapbook!
Get creative!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What are these phonics you speak of?

I dislike phonics! I would go so far as to say I hate them. Which I know isn't cool but that is the way it is!
I can read and write perfectly well since I write for 2 blogs, am published, etc. BUT.... when it comes to the breakdown of phonics...
I rely heavily on the internet, my Mom and many handbooks we have around the house!
Yes, I was taught phonics in Elementary school. I learned more in High School! I even took a course in College on phonics to see if as an adult, I could retain it better....NOPE!
Luckily there are great cheats on remembering phonics, helping with phonics, teaching phonics, etc. so as the homeschooling middle schoolers at least come across like you have some understanding!LOL
We do ok, we all 3 fumble along but usually between the 3 of us and unlimited long distance calling to my Mom(LOL!) we can get through any phonics lesson!
So, do not despair. If you are phonics challenged like I am, there is help out there! Just jump on your computer aka lifesaver and you will find some great places to help!

Things that are lost in public school education.....

You know, they say that Cursive is a lost art in public schools nowadays and I have a tendency to agree with them! But I also think that the importance of Spelling and things like knowing States and Capitals are too!
Therefore I make sure that in our homeschooling week, if not every day we do some of each! Their cursive is through the writing program my Mom does for them. Not only do they have assigned cursive from her but they take their Spelling words and because we use Spelling City, I can turn them in to practice cursive pages. I love Spelling City because not only can I make lists for my boys but I can also pick from a great bunch of popular word lists when we run out!
When I pulled my son's from public school, not only could my oldest son barely spell but neither of them could pick out easily identifiable States on a map, knew nothing about the State they live in and their handwriting was barely legible.
They now can sit and write a letter to anyone using cursive, it is spelled correctly about 95% of the time and given a map of Oregon, they can tell you a lot about it.
I am proud of our homeschooling choice! I am proud of what I have taught my boys and how far they have advanced in just a little over 3 years!

Algebra.....the Horror Story!

Who doesn’t cringe when you hear the word ALGEBRA! If you're hindered with a Math block in your learning like I am.... and my oldest son is.....the word ALGEBRA ranks up there with Zombie Attack, Head Lice and the sound of the dog throwing up next to your bed in the middle of the night! Basically all give me the shivers!
I knew when we started homeschooling in Fall 2008, that Math would be our biggest challenge! I took Algebra 6x in High School! Yes, you read that right. I took pre-Algebra in 9th grade and got it. Understood it, not a problem! Felt like a genius! Hit 10th grade and Algebra....big fat F. It didn't compute, I thought my brain had fallen out. I went down to a class that was Algebra in the most basic degree..aka baby Algebra. I took that same STINKING class for 10th, 11th and 12th grades BOTH semesters. And to this day... I still stink at Algebra. FF to the past 3+ years of homeschooling and homeschooling math to be more specific and building up to learning Algebra....YIKES!
I have to say thank goodness for the computer and ALL the smart people that create TONS of online algebra help! I swear I should send all of them muffin baskets or something!
Last year for 8th grade and this year for 9th, we have spent many challenging days working on Algebra and if it wasn't for GREAT search engines to help us find out answers on MANY great sites.... I am sure my son and I would both be bald from tearing our hair out, crying and ready to give up!
So, my word of advice.... if you have an albatross of any not despair! There are plenty of places online to assist you in wading through it. Maybe not enough to master it, but enough that you can get through it and learn a little bit while you are at it!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti...... The Sound of Music!

Do, a deer, a female deer.....

You know everytime I hear that... I think of Sound of Music.
So...public schools have band and choir taught be a music teacher.
You are a homeschooling parent, you are not musically inclined and your child wants to learn about music OR take up a musical instrument!
What to do!
Let your fingers do the walking...on the internet!
So, if they want to play a musical have 2 choices....Choice 1, hire someone local. You can get suggestions from your local homeschool group, check the yellow pages, look on the bulletin board at your local library or even ask at your local public school. Choice 2, purchase or download one of those DIY lessons from the internet. I have seen them for piano, organ and guitar and that is just skimming the internet so I am sure there are others out there if you delved deep enough!LOL This to me would be if your child can be self-taught or not.
Or...if they want to learn about music...there are many great choices out there. Music games, music books, music websites, etc. and it greatly depends on the age of the child learning.
Elementary grades, less intense. Middle school or High School(which is when band and choir are typically introduced) can get a lot more intense.
The internet in my opinion is AWESOME! And a little research goes a long way in making your homeschooling day go easier for ANY of your lessons!
So, go research and then ROCK ON!!!

How did I chose my homeschool curriculum...?

In my homeschool search 4 years ago I was all over the internet, checking out homeschool curriculums. There are MANY choices out there. Religious, Secular, Montessori, Waldorf and the list goes on and on! I had to decide what I felt would work best for my son and myself as inexperienced homeschoolers. Once I narrowed my choices down, I started checking the homeschool curriculum reviews on them. Some looked great on paper but when you got real time reviews from people who had used learned that they were no good. I tried to find curriculums that had better than 50% satisfied. There is always going to be someone that doesn’t fit and the whole world is full of complainers. If you go through the reviews on ANY curriculum, you can learn to spot which ones are people who genuinely liked and used it, people who got offended about 1 word and people who didn’t really use it but decided to lodge a complaint for the sake of complaining.
I also joined forums and posted my questions of several different curriculums, getting real people reaction from other homeschooling parents.
In the end after an intense 2 week search, we chose Time 4 Learning. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. My oldest son used it for 3 years and my younger son is on his 4th and final year of it as their main curriculum!
So, check out different curriculums for your homeschooling. Then check the reviews on them. Research, talk to people and research some more! In today's day and age of the have no excuse not too! Good luck in your search!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gosh....raising a freethinker....the horror!LOL

So, we often get asked a lot as to WHY we decided to homeschool.....
Well, how much time do you have!LOL
My boys started out in public school..... they were like every other kid. We were happy with their schooling but then....government budget cuts started, the recession started and schools among many other things started having budget cuts and those affected our kids.
They were no longer allowed to be kids, they were shuffled through their day...missing out on things that make kids..well...KIDS! No recesses, eat lunch like you are in military boot camp(aka 5 minutes to shovel as much in as possible), no arts, no science, no field trips, no extras.....
I grew up with a Mom for a teacher, back when things like ART, BAND, RECESSES, LUNCHTIME, FIELD TRIPS were all the norm. Kids learned, kids were kids and school was fun.
We decided after several issues that public school was no longer an option for my boys.
We wanted them to be free thinkers, freethinking homeschoolers to be specific!
We wanted them to learn at their pace, at our pace, to give the donations required weekly at public schools back to US, to learn that they can stop and take a break when wanted or needed.
And guess what.... they are smiling, happy, normal, well-adjusted kids who have learned MORE in the past 3 years homeschooling my boys through middle school than they did in 6+ years of public school.
Would we do it again, you betcha!
Not only am I a firm believer in homeschooling is the right choice for my kids, but my husband is and my Mom, the retired public schoolteacher is a believer!

Creating a Homeschool Portfolio!

Every year as we start back to school, I start a folder for my boys!
I guess it would be considered a homeschool portfolio of their school year. It is where I keep their weekly printouts, a copy of their homeschool paperwork from our county, etc. I label and date each one and at the end of the year, I put them in a file box just for this.
Why would I do this....well, it is proof of their homeschooling. I live in Oregon, which is a pretty easy State to homeschool in and other than regular testing every couple of years... we have little laws telling us what we have to prove. BUT....that does not mean that I do not want to have the proof in case lawmakers decide to change the rules.
Some States are more lenient, some are intense on what the law requires in order to homeschool.
So, what I tell new homeschoolers...check the laws in your State, check with a homeschooling group and double check these laws. Then start a homeschooling portfolio for each child you want to homeschool. Keep it somewhere safe and accessible, update it as not procrastinate.
I love the curriculum we use, Time 4 Learning because it is SO easy for me to go every weekend and print out a record of their weeks work.
So, whatever program you use...whatever curriculum you use.....check your State laws and get your homeschooling record started! You will be glad you did!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Up, down, left, right, backwards and diagonal! WORD SEARCH TIME!

I love word searches!
My kids love word searches!
I think they are a great way to get those spelling words into their brain or just a good brain teaser to keep their mind active!
The best way to expand your knowledge is to keep your brain active!
And you can find word searches on the internet for ANY grade level from Kindergarten to High School.
For ANY holiday or activity from MLK to Easter to Columbus Day to Boxing Day!
Even on a down day where we are just not into homeschooling or they have run out of things to do.... Mom pulls out a word search!
I even found a word search game for the car! Came with a little stylus and runs on batteries. It is a great thing to have in the car for those times we have to wait. Traffic jam, Dad getting haircut, Mom ran into grocery store, etc. And I am looking for a 2nd one, because they fight over it!
Who knew my kids would fight over the educational toy!LOL
So, if you are looking for something for those bored kids to do on a rainy day(and yes, they have rainy day word searches!LOL) then get online and find a free printable word search! You can even find sites that allow you to make your own and print them out! Think of the possibilities! Hints for the next family trip, announcements about a new baby, surprise class you signed them up for....
I don't know about you.... but I am off to find one for my boys right now!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Go, Research, Learn and Decide!

As the homeschool year starts, as homeschooling parents we start to work on curriculum.
So, how to decide what to teach this year.....
Of course there are the basics of Math, Language Arts, Social Studies and Science.
But those cover a broad expanse of subjects.
Math, what are they ready for? What is geared to their age? And once you get into the high school age... you have even MORE choices, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, calculus, etc.
Language arts covers English, Writing, Spelling, Reading and then some. What is geared for their age? What are they ready for?
Social Studies covers history, economics, geography and more. Again, what is geared for their age and what are they ready for?
Science covers Health, Chemistry, Biology, Green Living, etc.
Now as a have the freedom to choose and set it up how it works best for you!
There are TONS and I mean TONS of programs out there that can completely cover, enhance or help each subject!
The problem is picking which ones! Well, that is a very personal decision for both YOU and your child! How cool are you with teaching homeschool language arts for example? Are you totally capable? Then maybe some workbooks are ok for you. Have no clue what you are doing? Then maybe an online program would be better.
The best thing I can offer new to homeschooling parents is RESEARCH! And breathe! Because we are homeschoolers, we have the luxury of picking and choosing things that work and if they do not work, toss them and find something that does. We are never tied down by anything other than ourselves!
Go, Research, Learn and Decide!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Butter+Fly=Compund Word! Who made that butterfly and why!LOL do you explain compound words to your kids.
Like I said previously, the English language is hard enough.
You have taught your child what butter is, how to spell it, the meaning, etc.
You have taught your child what a fly is, how to spell it, the meaning, etc.
And now we have a compound word "butterfly" which has nothing to do with butter OR flies.
It means something TOTALLY different, has the same spelling but is 2 words now squished together AND a totally different meaning!
Compound words can be fun, they can be confusing, they can be silly.
They are usually introduced towards the end of Kindergarten or the start of First Grade and make for a learning experience!
Learning about compound words helps your kids understand the English language, builds an interest in words and their creation and meanings and will help prepare them to learn prefixes, suffixes, and word roots which comes later in their studies!
I like to get my kids started on these and then give them a challenge to see how many compound words they can come up with!
Kids love challenges and a challenge that lets them learn at the same time is even better!

So, now we will let the "Butterfly" wake up with the "daylight", have some "breakfast" and then seal the purchase on his new cocoon with a "handshake"!

Friday, September 2, 2011


How did you learn about how to count syllables? I learned to place my flat hand horizontally under my chin and say a word, how many times my chin touched my hand... was how many syllables the word contained. Try it, it does work! Now, you can end up adding extra syllables into words because of how you say the word or saying it to slowly or putting emphasis on spots that don't have them.... but overall, if you just say the word like normal..this trick does work.
I have used this for my own boys as they work on their writing lessons from Grandma because she has where they look up dictionary words and must write down the number of syllables in each word as part of it as well as creating a sentence, etc. When we learned about haiku and they had to create their own haiku's, they used this trick.
It goes back to my emphasis that if you give kids some creative tools for learning, they will stick with them for life and always have a good base for understanding!
Now, how many syllables does the word "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" have?
Try the chin trick and see!

Read this blog post so you can say you read it.... Multiple word meanings!

The English language is said to be one of the hardest languages to learn. If that is true... how, as a homeschooling parent do we best approach teaching it.
We have words that have multiple meanings, we have words that are spelled the same but sound different, we have apostrophes that change how a word is used.... confusing to say the least.
So think about this as we start back to school and our kids are learning this in English or Language Arts....
When it comes to things like multiple word meanings or words that are spelled the same but sound different, I think a good visual approach works better than most other methods. Think back to basics and yes, your kids will think it is babyish but it will help establish in their minds the differences. That way, later on in like when they have a job in a fish market and have to scale a fish, then cut and weigh it on the scale for a customer.....they will know the difference! Please read your book, but Mom... I have already read the book. Things like this will be understood because you as a parent gave them a good base to work with!
Now go wind up the cords on the blind before the wind blows them away so you can learn how to scale the fish you just caught but weigh it on the scale before you do that. Then read this blog so you can tell your kids you already read that!
And that is my lesson for the day.....!LOL

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Start of Our School Year!!!

Monday is the first day of the 2011-2012 school year for my boys and I have once again added more Geography to our lesson plans. They will be using the Social Studies/Geography on their Time 4 Learning lessons but I always want to go one step beyond. This means adding it from several other sources. My older son is starting 9th grade this year so we are adding World Geography for him and my younger son is in 8th grade so I am concentrating on the USA.
I am mixing it up with some US States Games, some workbooks and some board game playing. My older son will be playing with Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego for his computer, some workbooks and a few World Geography games websites I have found. 2 years ago we did the whole United States where each of them had 26 States and had to research, write and learn about them. And while that was cool.... I try to switch things up each year so it isn't the same old stuff. Hey, that is the whole point of homeschool isn't it... we can adjust, change, modify and switch around things as we see fit and our kids are the winners(for the most part) from it!
So, as I complete last minute lesson plans, charts, schedules..... I am getting the groans, moans and stink eye because as the teacher... I am ready to start the new school year and they are not. I am hoping that despite their disgruntles, they find the new year cool, exciting and challenging!
So..when does your school year start?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What the heck are Dolch words?!

What are Dolch words?
As you go into your homeschooling year, you may see this and ask yourself WHAT?!
That is what I did!
Turns out, I already knew this.... just as a different format!
When my boys were little, they were called Sight Words.
And this is great, because as I am prepping for not only my boys school year... I am prepping for my preschool daycare kids school year and had planned to incorporate some sight words!
I stumbled upon Dolch while looking for things and I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks because I have learned what it means!
A list of English sight words, The Dolch Word List, was compiled by Edward William Dolch, PhD, in 1948. The list was originally published in his book "Problems in Reading". Dolch compiled the list based on words used in children's reading books in the 1930s and 40s. The list contains 220 "service words" that must be quickly recognized in order to achieve reading fluency.

So, as I plan our school year for 8th grade, 9th grade and preschool lessons..... I will be going through this list and using Dolch words to enhance our learning experience!

Oh and here is a whole list of the words:Dolch Word List

Friday, August 12, 2011

In the immortal words of Spongebob..... I'm Ready!

We are accidental homeschoolers starting our homeschool journey almost 3 years ago when my oldest son had barely started 6th grade at public school. The school sucked in my simplest basic opinion, they failed my child and they failed me. Pulling him and homeschooling was the best thing we ever did! This was to be a middle school thing and then send them back out into the world for high school.
Since the economy has made the local schools 3x worse than they were instead of better.... he will continue to be homeschooled through high school. This means that Mom aka me has to really come up with a good program for him that I know works for him. We used Time 4 Learning for middle school and he loved it. The animated lessons worked for him. He has ADHD and the attention span waivers. If he were still in public school, he would be labeled special education and put into the system. This was the problem before, he was lost and did not have help.
Since he has been homeschooled he has blossomed! He passed his required State testing with flying colors! Needless to say, we were thrilled when opened the envelope and saw his scores! We knew what we had been doing for him worked!
So... Mom has spent the better part of her Summer using any spare moment(and those of you that follow my blogs know those are few and far between!) to research online programs, curriculums and whatnot to find something that I know will work for him! And I have to say my diligence has paid off!! YEAH!
He was signed up for a program that is a lot like what he has been using this week! I signed up a week ago but it takes a few days to get our account up, so I did not get to play around with it and really check it out until this week!
I have to say a big weight was taken off my shoulders because not only did I have an easy daycare week which allowed me to get our 2011-2012 Preschool year planned out but I was able to get my 8th grader's Time 4 Learning lesson plans completed and my 9th grader's lesson plans! I still need to laminate their personal charts that I place by their workstations but they are printed out. Plus I cleaned out the 3 boxes of homeschool books, supplies and misc. papers I had and have been ignoring! Recycled a whole box of 2 year old papers! Realized how little supplies we needed and made a list of books to sell on eBay and craigslist that I bought and haven't used! And I hit the few places that had what supplies we were lacking and we are stocked up and ready to go!
I say bring on the 2011-2012 school year!!!
In the immortal words of Spongebob, I'm Ready-I'm Ready-I'm Ready........

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The homeschool world is my oyster!LOL

Again more lesson plans for our Fall 2011-2012 school year...
Apparently, I am stuck on their vocabulary/spelling words and games and trying to incorporate it into all their subjects! But, I cannot help it. There are SO many great websites, games, pages, tidbits out there on the internet that I HAVE to incorporate it for all subjects.
This week, I am working on expanding their Math program to work over into their Vocab/Spelling program with some Math vocabulary words. I think to get a better understanding of Math, it doesn’t hurt to know the words. Kinda like going to the Dr. and he starts throwing Medical terms at you for your ailment.... NO, give it to me in layman's terms please! But, it doesn’t hurt to have a few basic Medical terms so you still can understand what he is saying..... YKWIM?!
So.... I think in terms of schooling, this applies to each subject and you can really expand your program by mixing each subject with Vocab/Spelling!
The homeschool internet is my oyster!LOL Hmmmm, Math this week.... maybe History next week or Science? Stay tuned to see!LOL

More Lesson Planning...... the 2011-2012 year is approaching.

And yet more lesson plans for our Fall 2011-2012 school year...
I honestly wish my boys would put as much effort into their schooling as Mom puts into their lesson plans!LOL They would be A++++ students!
I am working this week on more vocabulary/spelling word games like word unscrambles. These seem to be one of the better choices for the boys because they do not seem easy and now that the boys are teenagers, it becomes a case of Mom needs to find stuff that is not babyish! UGH
This makes my homeschool chore WAY harder! I do not know if it is just ME or are there other homeschool Moms of teenagers out there that have trouble finding GOOD older educational games, online programs, etc.? I can find TONS, and I mean TONS of stuff geared for 6th grade or less and could be even used for 7-8th graders in a pinch but now that my older son is starting high school..... WOW. My fingers have been busy searching the internet for curriculum that works for ME and for HIM. Luckily I have stumbled onto some great sites and I am really good about saving anything remotely interesting into my favorites folders so that I can easily go back to it if needed. That is my tip to homeschool parents, if you stumble onto or find a site you like or slightly like... SAVE IT. You will be glad you did and regret if you didn’t because trying to remember the name of the site, how you found it, etc. just seems to elude us....... probably because our homeschool Mom brains work overtime with all that we do and accomplish on a daily basis!LOL
You can always go back later and trash it but if it is something you want to check more in depth at a later date....... saving it has kept me sane many a time!
So, where are you on your 2011-2012 Lesson planning for your kids?! Enquiring minds want to know!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Monet, Manet, or Seurat..... which Artist is which?

When we start back to school in 5-6 weeks, I will have a 9th grader and an 8th grader. This creates a whole new batch of crazy for me to work through as the main homeschooling parent. Basically 2 different curriculums to plan for. I do know that there are several things I want to carry through for both boys so we have some cohesiveness to the day. Art is something we have touched on before here and there but I want to make it a weekly or bi-weekly thing starting this year. High school is where I really got into art, I was in the National Art Honor Society and was always very artistic. Both my boys are very creative in different ways but creative none the less! So, I am checking into art games, online art study programs and some really kid friendly art books that reach out and grab their attention. I do not expect them to know everything about art or to become artists but I do think that they need to have some idea what pointillism is versus graphic art. Or who Monet, Manet or Seurat is and why they are different.
I will let you know how it goes for the year..... And if you, my faithful readers have any input on some great programs for Art.... please let me know!

Comparing an elephant to a vacuum....

Now that it is Summer break for us..... I am thinking ahead to our 2011-2012 school year while my boys practice not thinking!!LOL It is Summer ya know!
I am working on our Language Arts curriculum and figuring on how to add some analogy study along with similes and metaphors.
Nothing is harder than trying to remember which is which, who is who and what is what. If I compare an elephant to a vacuum.... is it a metaphor, simile or analogy or all 3 or both or none? And the hard part is.... it seems the more 2-3 people start to figure out what it is...the more confused we become!LOL
So, per our usual curriculum.... I am checking into online games. I am looking for mainly analogy games at this time because I know that once I start to really look and play with stuff.... I can easily go off on a tangent because I get sidetracked by all the cool things out there...... ohhhh, the woes of a homeschool Mom.... too many cool choices out there!LOL

So, does anyone know the answer.... when comparing an elephant to a vacuum..... is it a metaphor, an analogy or a simile?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lesson Plans...... Part 2!

Well, now that we have explored writing options for Fall 2011 Lesson plans..... I am onto Social Studies. We have covered a lot in the past 3 years but from my standpoint.... history is only exciting if you MAKE it exciting. And most textbooks do not do history justice... in fact they seem to turn a lot of kids and adults off of it. I would prefer that my boys learn a good bit and learn that history is very cool.
I am exploring several homeschool social studies option including social studies games. Over the past 3 years we have used Time 4 Learning and while my younger son still has 1 more year of this... my older son is starting high school and I need to come up with options that work for him.
I have a whole folder on my computer of curriculum options that I have been researching. I have also been talking on my homeschool forums about options, opinions and ideas! Important business contacts!LOL
So..... that is 2 things down, writing and social studies.... many more to go.
Stay tuned for further lesson plan discussion!

Let the Lesson Plans begin...... Part 1

Well, school year has wound up. My oldest son has completed and PASSED his required homeschool standardized State Testing-YIPPEEEE! And now that our Summer Break is in full swing, Mom aka ME is working on the lesson plans for our next school year.
My Mom is in charge of their writing program and has decided that this year she is upping the program a bit in order to better prepare them for high school, college, life, etc! She is researching writing software programs to expand from cursive and workbooks into online programs. There are lots of choices out there and thankfully we have 6+ weeks to figure out which one is the best for us!
Over the past 2 years the boys have really improved their writing just by using their workbooks and practicing cursive via their spelling words on Spelling City but now that they are an upcoming 8th grader and 9th grader....both my Mom and I feel that their writing needs to be stepped up.
I want to know as a homeschooling Mom that I have done everything I could to prepare them completely for the outside world!
So.... let the lesson planning begin! Stay tuned for further adventures!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kids are almost done...... but a Homeschooling Mom never is!

As we are winding down the last few days of school...... I am working diligently on our lesson plans for our next school year, aka Fall 2011.
I would LOVE to ignore this until the last minute but.....
I will have one in High School and an Eighth Grader so I have to basically create 2 totally different set of lesson plans. More work for me so that it makes a smoother year for them!
We will definitely be doing Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Spelling. We will be using our Spelling words for online vocabulary games as well.
I think we will be expanding our Spanish and our Geography into more in depth lessons as well.
This means lots of research, talking to other homeschooling parents on both forums and in person to find what I feel is great programs that they will love and understand while learning!
For the past few years, we have really improved our schooling compared to how my boys were when I pulled them from public school but I still think we need to do more.
I want them to graduate high school and feel that they are ready for the real world whether they choose a trade school, college or just go out and work.
My job as a homeschooling parent is to give them all this info, prepare them as best as their father and I can and be proud of who they become!
I figure I should complete my lesson plans about 2 weeks before it is time to start school again!LOL

Starting a blog!

Well, my blog PreschoolersDaybyDay has been up about 6 weeks and I have to tell you... starting a blog is hard, fun, easy, confusing and satisfying! You will laugh, cry, get mad, be happy and get frustrated all within the same 20 minutes! But, when you get your first real comment and know that people are reading what you wrote.... you get this feeling like WOW!
When I decided to start my blog, it was choice of what to write about. I figured I should write about what I knew, preschoolers! And since I decided to start my preschoolers on Time 4 Learning doing the preschool games and activities section.... what better to write about than our experiences weekly on how it it going.
When you start a blog, write about something you know because the words flow out of your better. And that presents itself as something cool to read, therefore you get more readers, etc. I cannot tell people that enough when they ask.
Yes, there are weeks that I do not feel like writing. Living a normal crazy life, homeschooling, running a childcare, writing articles and being an Urban farmer all take a lot out of my day..... and some days I just want to not even look at the computer. Other days, I could write all day. I usually end up writing extra articles during this time and saving them for when I do need something and do not feel like writing!
So, if you have been thinking about writing a blog.... I suggest checking out some blog writing courses, find a blog site and do it! You will either love it or hate it, but you do not know until you try!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

MUSLENRBAC........UNSCRAMBLE! Did ya get it?!

I love word games! Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Boggle, Password(that dates me doesn’t it!LOL).....
I love crosswords, word searches, word jumbles in the newspaper.
Not only does it keep your brain on track and in constant learning mode but it can be switched around and worked into your homeschool curriculum!
Think of the possibilities, spelling words, keywords, vocab words, etc. all put into game form..... your kids wouldn’t know what hit them!
We play many games here because if you do it correctly, games are educational! There are word games as mentioned above, math games like Yahtzee, geography games like Monopoly(there are MANY versions out there), etc.
So... it is safe to say that I love to use my kids spelling words and do word scrambles or unscrambles! We also play games where they have a word and then have to create as many words out of that word as possible! There are many online versions of this but you can also put pen to paper and sometimes this will drill those spelling words into the brain better than anything else!
Since we have started word games such as unscramble for their vocabulary and spelling words..... their spelling has greatly improved as well as their retention for spelling words correctly! Rarely does Mom have to double check their work or help them spell a word!
Gotta love things that do double duty!
You can do this for kids just starting out spelling and use it all the way through adulthood! Just by increasing the toughness of the words!
It also makes for easy games to pack for car trips!
Imagine the possibilities!!!!!!
*Insert evil laugh here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

math...MATH.......M-A-T-H! Next school year prep already!

And while the school year is winding down for us(2 weeks left!) I am already thinking ahead to August and our new school year 2011-2012! I imagine teachers in public school do the same thing as homeschooling parents. I am constantly checking out curriculum's, sites, ideas, forums, blogs, etc. for input on anything that might be a better help for my boys! Always planning ahead, so that when I turn around twice and the new school year is due to start.... I am reasonably ready!LOL
Math is always a big subject in this house, because despite having 2 opposite Math kids(1 loves it, 1 HATES it)... Math and Math vocabulary is something that is in use in our world constantly!
So finding programs that work for an upcoming 8th grader and a 9th grader who really needs to work on his algebra skills..... is a challenge! One I like and relish, because I love my computer time and I love a good challenge!
I have favorite folders on my computer filled with all sorts of sites I have found! Now comes the challenge, checking each one out in depth, comparing prices, reading reviews and then deciding which one will work best for my boys! And since it is a challenging year with 1 in middle school and 1 starting high school..... we may end up with 2 different programs or bouncing back and forth between several so that they get the best of Math available for each individual!
So, are you getting ready for the next school year already.... despite that you are just ending this one?! Or am I the only kooky one?!LOL

Sunday, May 22, 2011

State Testing.....

Well, after a week of emails, forum postings, more emails and forum postings.... I think.... I have an idea about my son's State testing!
WHEW, I am exhausted. It hasn’t been easy, as this is our first time testing so while we are experienced homeschoolers of 3 yrs.... we are new testers.
I found sample tests online, just to see where he was. He did GREAT in Science, Social Studies and Language Arts but Math was a different deal. UGH!!
I knew this and he knew this. Math as I have previously posted is his hardest subject. Luckily, they grade the tests overall and add them up... and he only has to be better than a low percentile number to pass! So, even if he does poorly on his Math... if he stays strong in his other subjects he should be ok.
Though because of his Math issues.... in hopes to get him caught up or at least a better start.... I am considering private tutoring as a solution. Maybe hearing it presented from someone else besides good ol' Mom, he could understand the Algebra part of it better. It was NEVER my strong subject.
Has anyone else used a private tutor as part of their homeschooling to help their child boost a subject? If so, I would LOVE to hear how it worked!
And check back for updates on his testing!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Proper writing..... a good foundation!

My boys are Middle Schoolers..... at least for a few more weeks..... then my oldest will be a 9th grader! JEEZ
Writing for this age is a lot more important than it was in Elementary school. Elementary was learning your letters, pronunciation, how to write and eventually cursive. They would learn how to create stories but it was just the basis for expansion!
Middle School is the stepping stone to High School which is the stepping stone to College. And in the age of computers, typing or keyboarding is important. Because how you use your computer efficiently will either make your writing harder or easier! Your child may be a natural at typing/keyboarding or they may be like my husband and a hunt and peck person! Either way, a good typing game or keyboarding program is an easy way to get them up to speed.
Middle School writing is where they learn to really write. How to create stories that bring the reader in, how to do proper research to support their stories, how not to plagiarize, etc. It is not easy, your kids will complain..... at least mine do. But, they will get over it! I promise because teaching them to write correctly NOW means that in High School and eventually in College... they will have a good foundation for writing A+ papers, resumes, business propositions for loans, etc.
So..... even though your kids might whine, complain, pitch a fit...... giving them a typing or keyboarding class as Middle schoolers will improve their writing throughout their life.
Just buy yourself some earplugs so you can avoid listening to their whining!LOL

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spelling supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

As the 2nd best Speller in Siskiyou County, CA. during my 6th grade year..... I feel Spelling is important. I am one of those people that will redo an article, letter, etc. just because the spelling and punctuation is wrong OR I am the kind that gets an email or letter and the first thing I notice is the spelling mistakes. It is a sickness!LOL Makes my husband and kids crazy but I feel that in the 18 yrs of marriage my husband has greatly improved his spelling and the way her writes. Now, the USAF could take credit for part of this but I like to think it is my nagging!LOL
It does make my boys crazy because Mom insists on Spelling every year as part of their homeschooling curriculum. No ifs, and or buts about it. I lecture them and tell them the importance of Spelling and how it gets them further in life to be a decent speller.
Not only do we use Time 4 Learning spelling section, I then transfer those words to our program at Spelling City! I love Spelling City, if you have not checked it out.... do so. It is SO worth it. I have passed it onto many homeschoolers as well as public school parents. As part of their spelling curriculum AND their writing program via Grandma... they have to do handwriting worksheets. The best part is, you can take your word list and have it printed out in cursive so they can trace the words and then use cursive to write them themselves. Not only does this help them with their handwriting practice but it also drills those spelling words a little more into their brain! Double duty! I love things that do double duty, esp. as a homeschooling parent!
Now, sit down and see if you can spell: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Good luck!LOL

Teaching an old dog new tricks!

A few weeks ago, or even a month plus I wrote about learning to blog. I have been taking a blog writing course, in my spare time.... insert maniacal laughter here since spare time is a rare thing for me! After spending a couple of days feeling like I should pull my hair out, wanting to cry, throw my computer across the room and decide that I have no brain cells to spare for something like this...... I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and am slowly but surely figuring it out.
I mean, WTH is a widget and where do I put it and WHY? I am an educated woman. I run my own business, I made my own business website, I homeschool my boys(one would be considered homeschooling special needs with his ADHD) and yet I am letting something like a widget take me down.
Not today, not ever!
You see, as I am learning to write a blog... I am also learning how to set up my blog site. At one point I was pretty sure it was a bunch of symbols, numbers and letters that only a Native American Code Breaker would understand because I sure as heck didn’t! In fact I sent several emails to the site teacher telling her this was suicide! I had no business doing this.
But, several deep breathes later..... inserting and uninserting stuff, checking out my homepage and just sheer practice has led me to believe that I can do it. I can be a viable person on the 21st century and I can hold my own in a conversation about blog writing!

Not to toot my own horn or pat myself on the back.... but I have learned that you can teach an old dog new tricks!LOL
Stay tuned for the next adventure in my blog writing saga.....

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Enquiring Minds want to know....

I don’t know about you, but we are winding up our school year! We have about 6+ weeks left! Part of me is doing the happy dance and the other part is sad because that means my boys will be finishing 7th and 8th grade....*sniffle which means they are growing up. Totally off the subject but... Did anyone read Sunday, 4/24 Zits cartoon.... it showed them tucking him in as a little boys, then tons of calendar pages flying around.... they as they were looking at him as a teenager....and it said the days are long but the years are short. Man, as a Mom... I totally agree with that statement. It just seems like I was walking them into Kindergarten.... But enough sniveling!LOL
Since it is that time of year, we are finishing our main curriculum as well as our homeschool writing curriculum and our Geography which includes U.S. State Games. Luckily we finished spelling last week, so that means all our time is concentrated on our other stuff. The boys whine a lot but they are always excited to cross off a subject! That means closer to the end of the year, closer to Summer, etc.
So, how is your year winding up? Almost done, still lots left to go, done already? Enquiring minds want to know!LOL

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spelling sucess!

As the year is winding up for us, 8 weeks left I think.... I am trying to get them to finish some of their subjects. Spelling is our continual subject though because I want them to be the best spellers they can be and have a good vocabulary. In order to do that, we do vocabulary games weekly using both their spelling words and any games we can find online. The better to test them I feel by giving them games that are not words they are familiar with. We also work on their assigned spelling words using Spelling City but we also rely on spelling words and lists such as the Dolch Sight Word Lists that Spelling City provides which make it great! The boys love all the games because they think its more games than schooling and I love that they are learning while having fun. Next year I will have to expand either the vocab games and/or the spelling words because my boys have really become good spellers. I am proud of how far they have come in a few short years! At times I worry that our homeschool choice or our curriculum choice was wrong, as I know we all have those days but then my son who used to send emails that were SO badly spelled for simple words that we as his parents were embarrassed he had sent them unsupervised.... the last email he sent, I had to correct nothing! It was written and spelled perfectly! Homeschooling success!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pack of Hungry Snails: Turnoff Week

Pack of Hungry Snails: Turnoff Week I work so much on the computer these days, that honestly, I never need anyone to tell me to put it away. Other than a few visits to FB and blogs during the day, I can't WAIT to get rid of the thing! I don't even watch that much on TV, BUT giving up my Netflix would be really hard. Thinking of you......

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How do you homeschool.....

I get told by many people that they do not know how I homeschool. Not questioning my ability to homeschool, like I am to stupid to do it but my ability to spend all day with my kids and not go insane! This comment always floors me, because not only do I love my kids but spending time with them is important to me. One day soon, they will be grown and move on. IMHO, homeschooling is easier than sending my kids to public school. I no longer have to deal with fundraisers, crabby teachers, lunch money, hours of homework, tired kids and parent supervised field-trips for lots of unruly kids. My first advice to new homeschoolers is always are you or are you planning on being a religious homeschooler or secular homeschooler. We are secular but many people are religious and would prefer a more Christian approach to homeschooling. Either choice can limit what curriculum I recommend, lest someone get offended by content. Next is get organized, because it makes your job as the homeschooling parent a heck of a lot easier. Figure out where you will do the homeschooling, kitchen, dining room, living room, the whole house, etc. We do ours in the kitchen. We refigured the layout, we added shelving for the daycare toys AND homeschooling. We bought covered storage containers for all the supplies, books, curriculum, paper, pencils, etc. we might need. When we started, they had a few things in them. Now, they are packed and in need of a go-thru. Our first year, we did nothing but Time 4 Learning(our curriculum of choice) while our whole house got used to the idea. Lots of change to have both my boys home now, for them to be together 24/7, Mom to lose her quiet time, etc. Our 2nd and 3rd(current) year we have added lots of other stuff to our daily regimen but I tell others that how they organize their day is totally up to them, homeschooling is a choice not a sentence! To me the biggest joy of homeschooling is catering it for my family, doing what we want-when we want and the fact that I get to spend some wonderful years with my boys before they grow up and become men!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The sound of silence!

The sound of silence! I love my kids, I really do! But, they are at their Grandma's for our version of Spring Break and it is nice to sit in the silence! 2 middle schoolers who are opposites in personality tends to make for tight tensions. Not that I am sitting on my butt..... While they are gone, I am tackling their room. YIKES! 1st we had mold, yuck! Almost new IKEA dresser tossed, wipe the room all down and put it back together. Spent a few days looking for a replacement dresser on craigslist, I love CL! Then I upgraded their beds, ordering all the stuff off the internet BEFORE they left! My 8th grader is almost 6'4" so we had to get him more room and my 7th grader will eventually get at least 6'. So, twin xl beds were in order. Mattresses arrived right after they left but bed frames are MIA. GRRRRRR How do kids accumulate SO much stuff. I do not get it. Of course I remember being a kid and having shelf after shelf of stuff!LOL So, Hubby and I added shelving at ceiling height for all their little stuff. Now that the week is ending and they are about to come home.... I think I am MORE exhausted than when my kids are here.. I need a vacation from my kid-free vacation!LOL But, I did enjoy the sound of silence!

Monday, March 14, 2011

2 weeks off!!! WAHOOOOOOOOOOO

Can you tell Mom is excited that not only are we off schooling for 2 weeks BUT..... the boys are gone to their Grandparents for this whole week!!!
This gives me time to not only breath a bit but play catch-up on lesson planning for the next 3 months of school!!
Because the boys learning styles are SO different(as previously blogged) it makes creating lesson plans a bit more difficult but I love the challenge.
I am hoping to include some typing for the last few weeks. As other things like Spelling and Geography are winding down, I like to fill that free space with other things... like typing. I am on the lookout for some typing games because it always seems that if I find a "game" for the subject the boys are more receptive to learning it. And since I am cleaning the boys room, YUCK.... I am hoping in my decluttering of their room.... that I will also find the missing Nintendo DS Spanish game. If I do, then we will add that as well.
And I need to buy a new notebook... I need to start planning out our NEXT school year. Oldest son will be a 9th grader aka HIGH SCHOOL and we are still planning on homeschooling him so.... all these great ideas floating around in my brain..... well, I need to put it to paper or else it will be lost!LOL
But first..... I am doing the happy dance to have some down time!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Can we just outlaw Math!? Honestly!!LOL

Ok, as readers know.... or may not know.... I have 2 boys, middle schoolers. They are polar opposites in every way! I swear, I do not know how 2 kids came out of the same parents and are SO different!
This makes our homeschool day a bit difficult as they operate in each subject very differently.
Math is especially hard because my youngest son is a MATH lover and my oldest son is a MATH hater! And I know hate is a strong word but when it comes to this.... he would rather do anything than Math, even clean the catbox I think! EWWWWW
So, in order to make our Math curriculum go as smoothly as possible for things that are not on Time 4 Learning(our main curriculum), I try to find Math games both online and hands-on that have several options, multiple grade levels so that each boy can play them for his strong points and at least learn while they do something educational.
This isnt always easy but it does make my time on the computer challenging!LOL
But, I think many homeschooling parents would agree..... we could just outlaw Math and it would make the day go a bit smoother....
Whatcha think? Want to start a campaign?!LOL

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Testing time is approaching.....YIKES!

And the countdown is on.....
My son is in 8th grade and in Oregon, in our county.... the law requires standardized testing at the end of 8th grade as well as 3rd, 5th, and 10th but those are mute to us right now. This will be our 1st time for testing since we started homeschooling in 2008. He is like me and doesn’t test well nor is he strong in Math, so I am concerned as to how he will do. I have had my ear out listening for hints and tips for other homeschool parents in Oregon for our best way to do this, how hard the test is, etc. but for some reason it is not really talked about. I am worried, just because it reflects on my son AND it reflects on myself as a homeschooling parent and teacher. Are we doing enough? Is he learning? Am I ruining my kids lives? Which just seems to coincide with this time of year, when homeschool parental panic sets in and we doubt ourselves. I know I do and after cruising the blogs..... it seems I am not the only one! WHEW! I do not know why I do this every year, but for some reason after holidays are over.... I worry. This year, we are on a deadline because of testing AND because of the fact that he will be in High School in Fall 2011 and we do not have a plan. So, I have spent money on testing books at our local teacher store, chatted online, and looked and found several testing websites in order to get us prepared for his testing. I do not care for his overall score, just that he passes. I know his Math will suck, as long as he passes we are good. We have found some SAT games, which I know are not what we need at this time but it cannot hurt as I am sure part of the testing will be based on that. And I also know that what I learned in high school 20+ years ago is being taught in middle school today because of how they have restructured the system.
Most days I feel like a chicken with it's head cut off, running around like crazy but I am one of those people that would rather be OVER prepared and we pass with flying colors rather than under prepared and we mess it up royally, esp. when it pertains to my kids schooling. My kids well-being is very important to hubby and I and we want them to be all they can be with their lives and their schooling. So, we over prepare and hope for the best!
So, if you(my faithful readers!) have taken the standardized testing for Oregon homeschoolers...... and feel like giving me some hints, tips, etc. feel free to comment on this post!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Making my homeschool week easier.....

Every weekend, I try to sit down and make up quick lesson plans for the coming week. This doesn’t always happen and we wing it(one of the joys of homeschool), but I prefer to be organized and have a lesson plan for the week. It just makes my week run easier, because with 2 teenagers and a houseful of daycare kids(ALL boys)..... things NEVER go as planned!LOL And if Mom's week runs easier, the ball rolls downhill and the kids week is easier because Mom is calmer, cooler and more collected!
Lately we have been focusing on vocabulary. The boys seem to be struggling with their writing pages their Grandma gives them, in the vocab area on proper use of words and phrases. Which means lots of googling for answers, digging around in the book closet for our vocab books, etc. which is a pain. So, I made sure this week to do an online search to find some alternative practice vocabulary games for 7th grade and 8th grade. We found some great ideas out there and hopefully it will help it sink it!LOL Who knows if they will help, it can't hurt and who knows if my homeschool lesson plans will go as planned.... but it gives me a good base each week so I can try to stay on track!
How do you make your week smoother?

Monday, February 14, 2011

And the game is on.....

Somewhere, somehow in my crazy daily life...... I plan on attempting at starting a blog. I would love a place to vent about my life, homeschool, my job, craziness that becomes my day, etc. I realize that I need to basically go back to school to do this, except that I do not have to leave the house to do it!LOL I can take a blog writing course online to learn all the in's and out's of what I should do, need to do, etc. to make it legible and computer literate.
Basically, it is an adult form of what writing my kids are learning as part of their homeschool curriculum! They need to learn house to write correctly, learn the in's and out's of proper communication by writing, what they need to do, what they should do and how to make it legible!
Maybe, since Mom is competitive and my boys are competitive......we should make it a challenge. Mom learns how to write a blog and they do their homeschool writing curriculum and at the end..... see who learned the most. Have to get Hubby to be the judge, to make it fair......
Now to decide WHAT the prize should be...... any ideas?!LOL
Well, they will be presented with this challenge ASAP and I will keep you updated on how it is going.... chances are..... they will beat me but I will not go down with out a fight!
Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Worksheets or Online Games- What works best for you?

How do you help your child get a new concept? Do you bang your head into the wall until you just think that they understand? (tried it- doesn’t really help) I have two boys with two very different styles of learning. One has a difficult time with new concepts, fractions and spelling. The other is gung-ho about learning anything new, he devours anything that I put in front of him! So my need for extra work for both of them is one that I find myself searching for every morning. My youngest always seems to need help with handwriting, it’s terrible! So for him I have found some nice handwriting worksheets, that he can work on while I am working with his brother. I also have several sites that I go to for any and all the homeschool printables you could ever want or need. I do try and mix things up with my youngest so that he has just the right amount of work and activities to do through out the day.
Now for the oldest, I am always torn between what is age appropriate and what he needs to learn. We have struggled with fractions forever, it seems like, I mean he gets the concept of how to do the different functions involving fractions. And quite honestly does well when working with them right after an example is given. BUT when he goes to actually do word problems for instance, he totally blanks out how to add or multiply to get the answers needed. Finding the right homeschool printable worksheets for him to practice on, is sometimes difficult, he can always find a way around writing out how he got his answers. (and I know I hid the answer key!) This doesn’t present a problem until he gets something wrong, then I have him go to the dry erase board and work it out in front of  me (so I can see where he went wrong- or at least I hope that i can figure that point out!)

So tell me what do you use to help with re-enforcing new concepts? Is it a mix of online games and work sheets or do you refer to the second sentence of this post?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Homophones or Homonyms or Homo Sapien? Say what?

Gobbly gook! That is what trying to remember what the difference between homophones and homonyms are when it comes to Language Arts! Hard to believe I wrote for my school paper, was in AP English both in High School and College.... yet you give me things like metaphor or simile, phonics(how does a long A sound, etc) or what is the difference between homophones and homonyms..... I am at a loss!
Thank goodness for internet, dictionaries and those lovely little cheat books some nice publisher has come up with to help parents understand their child's homework!
I don’t care if you are a homeschooling parent or a parent of a public schooled child... at some point you will come across the stuff they drummed into us in English class and because I believe the human brain is only capable of holding so much info...... we have misplaced our ability to understand this somewhere!!LOL
Every time the boys are at this place in their Language Arts..... they ask me, who refers them to the internet or this lovely all info dictionary thing my Mom gave us! Love that book, it is like the internet on paper!LOL
We then do our Language Arts lesson and then we try to find some elementary games online to coincide with those homophones or homonyms or whatever they are... and MAYBE, just MAYBE they will retain more of it than I did!!LOL

Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

For anyone thinking of homeschooling, you must weigh the pros and cons of homeschooling for your family needs and lifestyle. No one call tell you to homeschool or that you can't homeschool, if they do kindly tell them to mind their own business! I have heard a lot of stories moms (usually~ sorry dads) being the only one who wants to homeschool their child. It is usually from trouble that their child is experiencing in school whether its being bullied, struggling to keep up or being totally bored. For anyone who has made it to the step of considering homeschooling, you should write a list of the pros and cons for yourself and any doubters that are in your life! For my family, it was because after moving around so much and thinking that we were in a great school district.Where we could stay until the end of time, then getting redistricted to a school (after checking it out of course) that would have swallowed my boys up whole with fights, where a police present was required and basically being so over crowd I would feel claustrophobic myself!  For me that was the end to "regular" school for my boys, BUT I was very lucky my husband was on board (well after a couple of "Are you serious?"). Since we had moved around from state to state since my oldest was 2, I didn't feel the need to "get" approval from our families. They didn't sound to worried, I guess because we had done everything on our own for so long they had faith in me/us. ( I am not going to lie about that, I didn't need any approval but I liked the fact that they thought that I could do it!) They did worry about socialization or where I would be able to get all the homeschool resources that I would need. However, I assured them that I had already looked into that and my boys would not suffer in anything ever again!

Feeling pretty good about my decisions still today, in the first years I posted everything on Facebook (mainly for family) so they could see the experiences that the boys were getting being homeschooled. Even now I find myself posting things here and there more as a record for our family. I am not going to lie there are days where I feel like I am doing everything wrong but my youngest can always bring me back by asking to play with him or read  him a story. My homeschooling story is one that is filled with wonderful memories of my boys growing up with me and my husband, being a closer family than I would ever believed possible.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Moms Need Socialization, Too!

We all get busy with our lives and sometimes forget to make sure that after we have taken care of the homeschooling and household duties to take care of ourselves as well. I admit it is really hard for me to get everything done in the day and then at the end of the night I realize that I didn't take even ten minutes for myself the entire day! I am so lucky that I have great support groups and forums that I am a member. Because even if its too late to call a friend I can always get online, and spend a couple of minutes (or in some cases hours) reading about what my online friends are doing. Or even reading up on the latest curriculum that they have tried out, because I have to admit something else I am a curriculum junkie! I have saved a lot of money just by reading the pros and cons that someone from my group has had with new curriculum. The current subject that I am looking for help in is spelling, and the options out there are mind blowing. I have my reliable online spelling games that my boys use at least three times a week, but since it is the subject all three of us are having problems with~ it is always great to get the low down on what others are using and why!

Every homeschooling parent/grandparent needs help and support from like minded peers. You can't put a secular homeschooler into a very religious group of homeschoolers, because the out come would be disastrous!  So I guess that I am posting this so that you all will know that you are not alone out there! Please if you haven't been able to find a local support group to help pick you up when you need it. Find an online one!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Siblings... or how to make Mom to go insane!LOL


This is a vent blog today!
I am sure homeschooling parents of close in age siblings can relate!
After weeks of bickering between my 7th grader and 8th grader..... starting next week.... they will be separated for schooling.
In the past, they have been on the same schedule but they are driving me nuts!LOL
I feel bad, as they share a room and they are both home all day for homeschooling so they do not get away from each other much.
And 2 different personality kids are they! WHEW!
One likes peanut butter but not jelly, the other son likes jelly but not peanut butter. One son likes bright colors and always has, the other prefers blues, greens, black, greys.
One son has ADHD and therefore twitches, bounces his food, taps his fingers, etc. and this makes my other son NUTS! My gifted son whizzes thru his school which makes my other son angry because he struggles with some subjects.
And being that they are 14 and almost 13...... they LOVE to egg each other on with name calling which leads to punching,etc.
And I have daycare kids who do not need to be influenced by my lovely children!!
So.... our homeschooling day is about to be shuffled! Instead of a nice relaxing weekend, I get to pull out our schedule and create one that works with only 1 child at a time in the kitchen doing work, while the other has time alone in their shared room. Needless to say, this will probably not be without challenges, grumbles, etc.
And I may go completely insane before it is over! But, I think that the end result will be a more harmonic household!
At least that is the plan......
Check back in a few weeks and I will let you know how it went!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What makes a good homeschool day go bad?

What makes a good homeschool day go bad? Getting to a section in a subject that is HARD for your child! The child gets frustrated and in turn..... we get frustrated trying to help them!
MATH is the bad word in our house for my oldest son! He hates it, it makes him cringe and in turn..... I want to avoid it OR make it so simple that we whiz thru it!
Fractions give him fits and what makes it bad.... you need fractions in everyday life, so he HAS to have some basic knowledge of them. Cooking, measuring for wallpaper, weight, etc. are all things that need the use of fractions daily. When we get to fraction lessons, we slow down and move thru it at a snail's pace so that he gets it with the least amount of frustration.
Math vocabulary is another downfall for us! I swear, I need to check online and see if there is a Math Vocab book! Some of our online classes have a glossary section with words that explain what they are talking about, others do not and we are floating in cyberspace trying to understand what they are talking about. It makes for a LONG day when that happens! Learning what something means or to be able to break it down into layman's terms really is helpful when teaching a Math reluctant student.
So, what subject do you dread? How do you get around it? Tips, tricks or hints that will help fellow homeschoolers in the same boat?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My New Goal~ Make An Awesome Blog!

Well the New Year means setting goals, right? Well mine this year is to become better at blog writing 
for all the blogs that I post on. Now you may not know this, writing is always a struggle for me. Not necessarily, writing any and every thing that comes into my mind but making all those words/ideas making some sort of sense to others! I have several friends that ask me to clarify something that I email them because I have not taken the time to reread my emails. Because you know that they made sense to me(or at least in my head!) LOL For me, finding a course that I can do at my own speed, super fast one day then take a day or a week off is important to me. Now don't get me wrong there are several wonderful writing courses online but I needed to find one that tailors to "how to write a successful blog".

I long for the day that I have a blog up and going where people come to because they just love to read about what I have been doing! I wish to blog about not only my homeschooling adventures but also my other interests like gardening! I have a wealth of information that was passed down to me from my grandma, and I figured that it is one of the best ways that I can honor her is to pass it along to others. One added bonus is that I can get it out of my head and then have a place just in case I forget as well. Plus, it is a record for all to see,especially my boys to see and remember everything that we did on our homeschooling adventure! Maybe they will brag one day, "My Mom loved me soooo much that she homeschooled us!" OK maybe not but let me have my fantasy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bending for your kids learning!

My kids are computer freaks! They love the computer, whether for school or downtime! I love, love, LOVE when I can find educational games that work for my 7th and 8th grader. They get some fun computer playtime that isn't mind draining and Mom knows that they are learning something! They have their favorites and I have mine, but even those they will still play with very little grumbles!LOL I think the key to your getting your kids to learn, is finding something that works for both you as the homeschool teacher and the kids as the students. Kids and grown-ups all learn differently and what works for YOU, the adult may not be what works for your kids. And to save the battles, I try to bend and find ways that make my kids happy and want to learn because then I know they will do their best! What do you do for your kids, in terms of bending for their learning?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Still struggling with Spelling? We are!

What I have realized so far this year is that we are still behind in spelling! I can't seem to get this subject up and going for my boys. They can read well BUT when it comes to writing the words down then that is where we have the problem.  I think this is why my boys are not writing like I know they could because they are still struggling with spelling. We use several online spelling lists and they can retain the words for that week. But when we go to the next week and I surprise them with a word from last week~ that's when we have a problem. We use several other sites for educational games that also have spelling games or help with the rules of spelling. But there is so much out there I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the choices. I just want to make it fun for them to learn spelling or at least something besides just spelling lists. Maybe I am wrong and just need to have them do the lists and still work on phonics to help sound out the spelling of difficult words? I am at a loss here, I feel like I am banging my head on the wall consistently and that we are in a constant state of review. I know that I can't be alone here but it sure does feel like it!

I am just wondering how many of you have this same problem or is this your best subject? Do you struggle with another subject?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What is unschooling to you?

What is unschooling?
This is a term throw around in the homeschool world and it is one of those words that there really is no right answer as to what it is. Ask 20 homeschool parents and get 20 different answers! Some people think it is just taking time off from ALL schooling so that they and their child can decompress from public school, clear their minds from what has been drilled into us by the public school system and be fresh and clear to start the homeschooling adventure. For some people, this can be a few days, a few weeks or as one woman told me....1 month off for each year in the public school system. For other people, unschooling is a way of life. They abandon traditional teaching methods and either fly by the seat of their pants, teach their children what they deem fundamental or even teach something daily that pops into their head.
None of these is considered wrong! The joy and benefit of homeschooling is the adaptability to make your homeschool day what it can and will be to work for you and your family!
I love that part of homeschooling!!!
We used unschooling to be take a short break for 1 of my sons from public school, approx. 2 weeks and this was more so Mom had time to get a plan together!LOL He was an accidental homeschooler and basically, I felt he had been beaten down in public school and lost his way. I felt that taking a short break would let him get his head together and let Mom decide what the heck we were doing! With my other son, we did not do unschooling at all! He LOVES school and had already played around with the homeschool program we use, Time 4 Learning and jumped right in on a Monday after we had pulled him from public school.
Even during our breaks and holidays we still do not really unschool. We still do spelling printables, free reading, science experiments that need to be tended and PE using those new bikes Santa brought them!
Even before we homeschooled, I was a firm believe in an idle mind is a wasted mind. We used Summer Vacation to read, practice math drill and spelling practice because I felt that 3 months off from ALL learning just let kids mind go to waste and most teacher's worked too hard to get my child working to let it go away.
So, in our house unschooling is a short break that we debrief from either public school or homeschool but we still manage to squeak in some sort of learning.
What does unschooling mean to you?

Phonics made easy at HOME!

Remember going to school and having to do phonics? Well to be honest I never learned phonics but it was something my boys experienced in the short time they went to "regular" school. Ok well in some of the states we lived in anyways! Since it wasn't anything that I was taught, I was taught by site, I dreaded those read aloud days where you had to read a paragraph in front of the class! I would be reading mine in my head then read it really fast so that if I messed up a word maybe they wouldn't notice! (but of course someone who was a better reader than me always did)

Since I decided that my boys could get a great education at home, phonics was one of the areas that I dreaded the most. We have been working very hard on making sure that my boys don't have the same handicap that I had with regards to reading and sounding out words. And double bonus, mama is getting smarter too! We accomplish this by our wonderful online program that teaches the boys and myself with animated lessons. The other extra practice is with use of wonderful phonics games, and printable games that make learning the phonics sounds easier for us all. I think that my boys will come out ahead of the game with all the extra help that we are doing in this subject which almost helps with our spelling! (my other down fall!)

SO don't be afraid to learn something with your kids, especially if it is something that you always had problems with. They might just teach you something along the way!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Working around learning disabilities

Unless you have sent your child to public school of some kind, you probably wouldn't label your child as having any learning disabilities. Most parents, if you are like me at all, just see your child as having trouble in an area and working on it until your child can understand the concept. Well as you know my boys did go to school and my oldest was labeled as having "learning disabilities" in Math and English. The two most important subjects for any child in school, I was crushed as a parent, thinking of the labels others would put on him. And in truth when he was in school those labels hindered him greatly in making friends because he went to a special class a couple times a week. I ,of course, knew that it took him longer to understand concepts and do the mountains of homework that he was given. These labels that he was given in kindergarten followed him from school to school and is one of the reasons we decided to pull him out of "regular school".

Since I do know that he has certain ways he can grasp new or hard concepts, I have tried to make it easier for him with very visual lessons. We have several online sites/programs that we use on a daily basis along with playing board games that cause him to think about his moves. Our main supplement curriculum uses funny cartoons to help teach the lessons, which often leave him laughing. We also find that playing games online for our tougher subjects helps both him and his brother retain the information much longer. One area that we have been working on since the beginning is spelling, and it is still a struggle for us. But once I found some fun spelling games to help with those spelling lists/tests we have every week, things have gotten a little easier for us all!

Homeschooling your child leaves you open to not having to label your child with having "learning disabilities". I know that my son is better off since we started homeschooling, oh don't get me wrong he still has issues learning new concepts. BUT now here at home he isn't afraid of asking for the help to understand the lessons, something that he would never have done in "regular school".