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".