Why should you attend a homeschooling conference or convention this year? Conferences help you adjust your course and recharge your batteries. If you need to refine your homeschooling style, find new curriculum or resources, or re-consider your children's needs, a homeschooling conference can provide the stimulation you need to help you figure out how to tweak and improve your homeschooling life. You'll also have a chance to re-charge your own batteries; hearing informative speakers and being surrounded by other homeschooling families can inspire and refresh you. Continue reading »
Elementary age homeschooled kids are often eager book group participants. However, parents sometimes struggle to move their kids to more literary discussion about books as they grow into middle school and early high school years. One useful idea to smooth this transition is to pair a book with its movie adaptation. I've found that kids frequently find films to be more accessible, and creating a scenario where kids will naturally compare the book and the movie is an easy way to create deeper discussion points. Here is what that might look like. Continue reading »
A library of field guides is an important resource for homeschooling families, and with spring just around the corner, it's a great time to make sure you have what you need on hand to help with identification of birds, trees, insects, spiders, snakes, turtles, frogs, toads, and wildflowers. Here are some tips for making sure your field guides are frequently-used. Continue reading »
For the first time since Nick was four years old, he doesn't have a spring soccer season. He is a U15 player for a Richmond Kickers competitive youth travel team, and at his age and level, his teammates will be trying out for their public high school teams. Therefore, club soccer takes a break, with the understanding that players are getting their soccer in their community's public schools. In 29 other states, Nick could also try out to play on a school team. But not in Virginia -- because the Virginia High School League says kids who legally meet the state's education requirements through home education are prohibited from participating in these publicly funded athletic programs. Last year, with this day looming on the horizon, our family was featured in a TIME magazine article which included a two-page photo of Nick -- who has since gotten a much shorter haircut and much longer legs. I blogged about the details of that experience here, and between the article and the blog post, you can get the gist of the situation. Continue reading »
A great project for the New Year is making a calendar with your little ones. I'm talking about making a calendar the old fashioned way, using fresh heavy art paper and your favorite combination of markers, colored pencils, oil pastels, or other media. I first got this idea from the Oak Meadow first grade curriculum, a Waldorf-inspired curriculum which I loosely followed from time to time and adapted for other ages as my family grew. Continue reading »
My co-op kids have had fun with the warm-up we often do for our homeschool writers group. Before we begin writing and critiquing, we warm up with oral word games. In our writers group, by the time we've finished with the word warm-ups, the ice is broken, and the linguistic gears are well-oiled. We're ready to settle down to read our poetry and short stories and practice offering precise and supportive critiques of what each of us has written. Continue reading »
Why do some homeschoolers choose not to use one of the many complete math curricula available today? And what do they do instead? To many homeschooling parents, math feels like the one thing that must be taught and learned in a systematic way even for very young children. Even many people who are otherwise attracted to or influenced by a version of interest-based learning or unschooling often say-- "except for math."
Sometimes we have had a designated nature table, something which is suggested by both the Waldorf-inspired approach and the Montessori-inspired approach to homeschooling, and something many Charlotte Mason homeschoolers implement as well.
Other times, we have just gathered seasonal treasures together as a kitchen table centerpiece. A walk in the brisk air, the scavenger hunt for natural objects that are lovely to see and touch and smell and shake, the artful arranging and rearranging of the bounty -- these refresh the senses and clear the cobwebs out of minds. Continue reading »
Homeschooling parents can pique their kids' interests by incorporating educational information right into the decor. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make use of the large block of space that is your shower curtain. The easiest-to-find educational shower curtain is the world map. These are commonly available at discount department stores. Our current world map shower curtain came from Target, but you can frequently find a similar world map shower curtain at Walmart, JC Penney, or Amazon. Continue reading »
Homeschoolers have lots of options when it comes to physical education. First, we can remind ourselves that what we do for P.E. doesn't have to look like what schools do for P.E. We can get our kids moving, learning about fitness, improving their coordination, building strength, and enjoying their physical selves in a variety of ways. Let's take a look at some possibilities. Continue reading »
I've been using Microsoft OneNote 2010 and OneNote Mobile for Android as tools for homeschooling and organizing our activities. Microsoft will tell you that OneNote is a note taking and information management system that can capture your to-do list and important information.
What I will tell you is that OneNote lets me create notes at home on my Windows computer that I can access on my mobile phone -- when I need to know the soccer schedule, when my son needs access to a science quiz in the car, when I need my notes for work, or when I need to remember my errands. Continue reading »
As homeschooling parents, we have a prime opportunity to encourage musical development in our children. Maybe there are genetic factors that will limit how far the kids can develop, but parents can provide an environment that helps musical talent have a chance to flourish. Continue reading »
The Homeschool Calendar: New homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers frequently wonder about whether the "homeschool year" follows or needs to follow the traditional calendar used by most public and private schools in the United States. Long-term homeschoolers frequently find their answer to that question changes as their children get older. Casual observers of homeschooling might think "of course" homeschooling has to follow a school calendar in order to be legitimate and sufficient.
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In the midst of back-to-school sales and school orientations, many homeschoolers are now planning something different for September—a Not Back To School event. Even homeschoolers who don’t organize academic learning by a traditional school calendar enjoy this type gathering, which celebrates the distinctiveness of homeschooling. Continue reading »