How do you make language arts fun and engaging? There are lots of ways you can do this, and it depends on your child's age, your goals, and your time, and perhaps your state's requirements. I'm sharing some of our favorite language arts resources below that can work for a wide variety of ages and stages. Continue reading »
Are you using audiobooks in your homeschool? If not, you are missing out on the awesome benefits that come from listening to books. Homeschooling parents embrace the benefits of audiobooks because audiobooks create a shared listening experience, with adults and kids on "the same page," like watching a movie together... Continue reading »
Sharing audiobooks is a great way for kids and parents to learn together. Hearing the same material at the same time means that moments for discussion are well-synchronized, and kids can ask questions or ponder meaning in real-time—leading to all kinds of opportunities for inquiry-based learning. Best of all, you can access many audiobooks for free! Continue reading »
Kids with right-brain characteristics have hit the jackpot when it comes to homeschooling! Although students with a right-brain orientation often struggle in traditional school environments, homeschooling provides the perfect flexibility and individualization to help these children shine! Previous articles explore specific techniques and strategies to help these learners be successful in math. But what about reading? Continue reading »
Children with right-brain characteristics can learn to read effectively! These holistic thinkers often just need a different approach - one with plenty of visual and kinesthetic stimuli, and a whole-to-part perspective. A previous article provided an overview of the characteristics of the right-brained reader, and Right-brained Reading Strategies detailed a variety of approaches and resources to help these kids read effectively. Don't stress out, homeschool moms - use some of these additional strategies to help your right-brained reader maximize his or her potential. Continue reading »
Children with right brain characteristics often need a different approach to reading. These children, who tend to be visually-spatially oriented, holistic, and "big picture" rather than detail-oriented, and tend to create meaning from words by developing three-dimensional pictures in their minds. It is not unusual for traditional decoding phonics programs or decoding strategies to be ineffective for right-brain oriented kids. Previous articles provided strategies for helping right-brain learners with math, and gave a general overview of how the right-brained student processes information for reading. If you have a right-brained reader, consider the following curricula and strategies Continue reading »
Journaling is a great writing activity because it’s very adaptable. Journal prompts are only limited by your imagination. A great extension of journaling is writing a day in the life story. Homeschooling families make excellent and interesting subjects--there’s always something going on... Continue reading »
Learning does not have to be boring. Hands-on, active lessons are best for engaging the child and for memory retention. Below are five fun activities to teach the parts of speech. The 9 Parts of Speech: Before participating in any of the activities, review the following parts of speech with your student. Continue reading »
After we'd met for a homeschool evaluation, a mom of a ten year old wrote to me with concerns about her son's spelling.
We have are having an issue (problem?) with spelling. Up until last fall we had been using All About Spelling with good success (I thought) and had made it through five levels. Since then, it's kind of fallen to the wayside, and every few weeks I have my son write a story, mark the words he has misspelled (which he always identifies), and then work on spelling them correctly. When he tries to write things out, he has a really hard time spelling and has to really think things through. Continue reading »
Literature opens doors to the world around us as well as to worlds inside our hearts and minds. For children and adolescents just beginning to understand the vast reaches of emotion, literature can expand their perspective and add a richness and depth to their social skills. Here are some great ideas and online resources to bring literature into your child’s life. Continue reading »
LibriVox is a great online source for free audio books. This means you and the kids can listen to lots of well known classic fiction, nonfiction, and children's books -- at no cost -- right from your personal computer, smart phone, or tablet, by either streaming or downloading the audio files. The books available on LibriVox are books whose copyright has expired, meaning LibriVox volunteers can record them without violating copyright laws, and you can listen without paying a purchase price. Continue reading »
"Bring me bad writing," I told my two homeschool co-op classes of middle school and elementary age writers. "Incorrect writing, wrong apostrophes, sentence fragments, typos, passive voice. Horrible stuff. Bring it."
The next week, they marched in with an array of bad writing they'd found on websites, on convenience store signs, on gas pumps, in a letter from a college administrator, in text books, in novels, and in their own journals.
They had snapped photos, hand copied passages, bookmarked pages, and printed screen shots. Continue reading »
The Writing Center at UNC has put together a large collection of writing resources for college writing that are excellent tools for teaching homeschool high school composition. The center's downloads and videos offer detailed explanations about research, sourcing, organization, editing and proofreading, voice, fallacies, thesis statements, and dozens of other writing topics. The resources are arranged alphabetically, making them easy to find by topic but not offering much in the way of an orderly progression for teaching. The following is a suggested order of study for using the resources for composition for a homeschooled high school student. In our case, we used this for a literature composition, but literature compositions can be the most difficult type to write. It might be more effective to initially use the process with a topic of choice instead of an essay on a particular book. Continue reading »
As regular readers know, I'm a big advocate of using accessible learning methods instead of curriculum. For some homeschoolers, this is in addition to their regular curriculum, and for others it's truly instead of any packaged formal curriculum.
I'm used to hearing that you can't learn math this way -- that's a common chorus among homeschoolers -- but I was in a recent conversation with a homeschool mom who was all for the "instead-of-curriculum" approach except for handwriting. And by handwriting, she meant printing--learning to print. Continue reading »
When I tried to throw our dictionary out my oldest threw a fit. This is a very old dictionary. It was owned by my Great Aunt Mildred. The book is huge, with indents along the side for each letter of the alphabet. It’s also not in good shape. Threads are hanging out of a nearly Continue reading »
A new year has arrived for our homeschool co-op, and I'm delighted to have a new bunch of kids to write with. Last year, I led ongoing weekly writing workshops for our high schoolers and middle schoolers. This quarter, I get to work with our elementary age writers. This gave me a chance to get started with my unorthodox approach to helping kids with their writing. Continue reading »
Among my favorite homeschooling resources are our audio recordings by storyteller Jim Weiss. These stories provided many important cultural touchstones for my children during their pre-reading and early reading years, introducing them to historical, scientific, literary, and mythological figures and tales. This is where my children first learned of Galileo, Tom Sawyer, Shakespeare, Robin Hood, and Sherlock Holmes. 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 »
It's not hard to imagine a future where keyboarding replaces handwriting altogether. Keyboarding, with its helpful cut-and-paste, deleting, and spellcheck, allows thoughts to be revised and refined easily, a technological marvel that many writers--particularly those of us who remember manual typewriters--hail right up there with sliced bread. But does that mean that handwriting, and cursive in particular, is antiquated and superfluous? With the media buzzing over recent news that Common Core Standards, which guide curriculum choices for school districts nationwide, no longer require the teaching of cursive writing, a lot of attention in educational circles has focused on how the physical act of writing affects cognitive development. 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 »