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.