Our twins, now 13, are in eighth grade. When we started the academic year, I sat down with each twin (a boy and a girl) to discuss what they wanted to learn about this homeschool year and to share what I had planned for them as well. Homeschooling middle school is a fluid, flexible few years. I have an older son, now in high school, and he was my test subject and helped me loosen up my rigid thoughts and fears that middle school had to JUST be a launching pad to high school. We're interest-led with a dollop of what I call my "non-negotiables." Continue reading »
Homeschooling is boring, your child is resistant, the curriculum seems “complete” but moves on quickly and without depth. You can improve this kind of homeschool experience by opening yourself to following the rabbit trails. What are rabbit trails? They are the paths you make as you help your child follow an interest or a question from one resource to the next. Continue reading »
Early on in our homeschooling journey, we tried many methods and styles of homeschooling. As my kids got older, I had to step back and evaluate what type of learning environment I wanted to create in our home. I had one vision, and it included all of us still sitting around doing as much together as possible because it was easier for me and because I thought that I had to do that in order to be ticking off the boxes for homeschooling the right way. However, my kids had other ideas. And, because it's their education, I really needed to listen. This felt good and scary. Continue reading »
Do you use educational podcasts for homeschooling? If not, you should! Podcasts are a great way for homeschoolers to explore a variety of topics and current events. Podcasts can be easily integrated into nearly all subject areas. Depending on the podcast platform you're using, you can search for topics, people, events, etc. We've recently had some great conversations about the Loch Ness Monster, Amelia Earhart, and King Arthur. Continue reading »
Homeschooling middle school is a new season of life. I prepared by buying a new prepackaged curriculum, and while I loved everything about this curriculum, I had forgotten to take my kids' learning styles and desires into account. I assumed they would be happy to go along with whatever I put on the table. I had to accept that we were in a new season of homeschooling. I had to acknowledge that my kids were growing up and had developed their own interests. They had their own strengths and weaknesses. They were ready to let go of some anchors in our days that I was clinging to for dear life. Anchors that I thought were required to have a “good” or “productive” homeschool. Continue reading »
At some point, every homeschooler has probably asked, "How do I know if I'm doing enough?" The short answer: “It’s always enough, and conversely, it’s never enough.” Helpful, right? The long answer: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about one-third of college freshmen take remedial courses. There are no statistics for how that breaks down into public, private, and homeschool graduates, but homeschool students only account for 3-4% of the K-12 student population. Odds are pretty low that those in remedial college courses are all homeschoolers. Continue reading »
What is interest-led learning, and how can it fit into your homeschooling?
Interest-led learning is just what it sounds like -- letting a child's interests lead the learning process.
This means parents take note of what a child is curious about, enjoys doing, and is naturally drawn to. Then parents help a child learn about that interest. Since this may involve field trips, library books, research, projects, and more, there are many academic skills which are practiced, and a lot of content knowledge is learned -- just by helping a child pursue specific interests.
What might this look like in a homeschool? Continue reading »
I'm cautious about twisting every interesting thing into a "learning opportunity" that can turn off otherwise interested kids, but the Olympic Games are compelling, and your kids will probably want to know more.
Watching actual competitions on television or via internet is surely the hook. Competition is its own drama, and the personal stories of athletes who have trained for so many years are interesting.
But with the 2016 Olympics in Rio set for August 5 - 21, what are some good resources for additional learning? Continue reading »
This year as I was making my rounds as a homeschool evaluator in Virginia, I ran across a number of homeschooled kids who were using an affordable mini-computer called a Raspberry Pi in order to do computer projects and learn programming. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation: The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It's capable of doing everything you'd expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games. Continue reading »