October is Fire Prevention Month in the U.S., most often communicated to us with reminders to check the batteries in our smoke detectors as Halloween approaches. Here are some ways that as homeschoolers we can do more than check smoke detectors to prepare for what may come, whether that be fire safety or another emergency. Continue reading »
This calendar for Financial Literacy Month has ideas and activities that will engage and educate your middle school and high school students. These FREE resources can be used sequentially, or you can pick and choose to suit the needs of your students. Continue reading »
I'm a fan of natural consequences, but sometimes the lessons are too big - with consequences that last a lifetime - for the maturity level of the child. One such example is when a child wants to take on significant debt in the form of college loans. Most 17 year old high school students do not have the life experience to be able to understand the impact that taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt will have on their lives.
While I encourage young adults to have freedom in making their own decisions, wise and carefully presented parental input is imperative in this issue. Most people would never consider advising a 17-18 year old to purchase a $80K house with payments deferred for 4 years (and a home loan has collateral -- if you go into default, they foreclose and the debt is gone), yet are comfortable with student loans that have even more of a financial impact. Continue reading »
Homeschooling teens means a lot of questions about preparing for college admission or getting experience and training for a vocation or artistic endeavor. We wring our hands over curriculum and credits, and we help our teens learn to drive and manage their money.
But another little piece of life experience we can help our teens with is being able to work in "a third place."
Typically, a third place is talked about in the world of adults, as the place that is "not home" and "not work."
College students and some high school students often study or socialize in a "third place" that is "not home" and "not classroom." Continue reading »
Nutrition is an ideal homeschooling topic for the 10 - 14 year olds in your family or homeschool co-op. These middle years are an excellent time to go into more depth about what we eat and how it affects our health and growth. Tweens and early teens are especially interested in the changes brought by adolescence, and nutrition is a "safe" topic where kids can think about how their current choices affect their future. Continue reading »
I grew up participating in 4H, and while I recommend the 4H program itself, I also find myself thinking a lot about the four "H's" as they apply to homeschooling: head, heart, hands, and health. If you want a holistic way to personally assess your homeschooling, think about whether what your kids are doing is working in each of these areas. Continue reading »
During my busy season helping families meet Virginia's annual evidence of progress requirement for homeschoolers, I enjoy seeing all the resources parents use to help their children learn. This year, one of the resources a child was most excited about was DIY.org.
At DIY.org, children can choose to complete challenges for different "Skills," earning both virtual and real embroidered patches (purchasing the patches is optional and is the only cost involved in the program), and developing a portfolio of videos and photos showing when challenges are accomplished. Continue reading »
The teenaged years are actually the most rewarding of the homeschooling years. That's what we've found with our four homeschooled kids. And that's what I was told by many of the 110 families I interviewed for my book Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. People in Ireland, Australia, India, and the U.S. described coming to this realization in similar ways. Their concerns about helping a young child master the basics or their struggles to find the right homeschooling style gradually resolved. Parents grew to trust the process of learning much more completely and, perhaps as a result, they saw their children mature into capable and self-directed young people. Continue reading »
A great activity for your homechool group or co-op is a library scavenger hunt. Working with your librarian, plan a gathering for homeschoolers that includes sending the kids throughout the library to find resources, so they'll get to know the library better. If the scavenger hunt is promoted by the library, you might even find some more homeschooling friends in your community if they show up at the scavenger hunt. You can organize the kids into pairs or teams (and have the youngest kids hunt with an adult), and send them out with a list of things for each child to find or do in the library. A sample scavenger list might ... Continue reading »
This year in my role as a homeschool evaluator, I met a number of tweens and teens who are interested in fashion. As we went through their portfolio of work and talked about their year, I was fascinated with the ways they had woven their interest in fashion with their academic studies. Two of the teens I met with had taken their interest in current fashion into the past -- studying the typical dress and accessorizing of women and men in earlier periods of history. They also took their fashion interest international -- studying the current typical dress of modern-day people in other parts of the world.
Both of these girls (who did not know each other -- they had arrived at this independently) had done extensive research to be able to portray the styles of other times and other places, and they could explain how the fashion reflected the culture, religious beliefs, gender roles, classes and roles in society, and daily life. They were articulate about the historical times and geography of the world as they discussed the observations they had made about fashion in these distant centuries and far-off places. Continue reading »
No matter how many times someone claims that humans are naturally selfish and aggressive, they’re wrong. We’re constructed for compassion. It’s easy to tell. Our bodies function best when we’re in a state of cooperation and caring. Research shows this in our skin, our brains, nervous systems, our hearts. Research also proves this whether looking for physical, emotional Continue reading »
Is your home ready to weather an emergency? Is your family ready to respond? Might your kids be home alone in an emergency situation? Working on emergency preparedness as a unit study is a great way to develop important life skills. Continue reading »
The reputation of homeschooling has progressed to the point that in addition to the occasional vitriol, I frequently get compliments for homeschooling my kids. The compliments often come from other moms who say, "I could never do that."
There are many reasons they say they couldn't do it, but maybe the most frequent one is, "I'd kill my kids."
What they mean, of course, is that they would not get along well enough with their kids to be able to get through it. The conflict and distress would be too much; parent and child would be at each other all the time. Continue reading »
Tax time, in general, always provides a reminder to discuss how government works. Regular dinner table conversation at our house has always included tax issues. What is the world history of taxation? What is the U.S. history of taxation? How do governments justify their taxing authority? What services would our family miss if tax-funded agencies did not provide them? How would that differ from other families? Why is representation so important in a government that can tax its citizens? How was the American Revolution motivated by "taxation without representation?" How does "withholding" tax money from workers' pay checks affect the impression tax payers have about their earnings and the amount of tax they pay? Continue reading »
Just try talking about an issue of substance in front of your kids. If they're like mine, they dig right in with questions and opinions. That's what makes dinner table conversation so lively. No surprise, research says that family discussions about current issues boost kids' reasoning and mathematical skills. Unlike more casual chats, conversations about social and political concerns help kids make sense of big concepts including numbers. That's because parents tend to give examples, use real life mathematics, and ask children to think for themselves. Continue reading »
Mom doesn't have to do it all. Homeschooling Moms, repeat this to yourselves three times. Because even though we may know it in our heads, often the reality in the home is that Mom ends up taking on more than her fair share of the household tasks. Continue reading »
Let’s face it – there’s just too much to do and not enough time. Homeschoolers have the challenge of educating children while also maintaining a household; a household that children are actively (albeit creatively) working throughout the day to dismantle! Homeschoolers’ houses are well used, and it can be overwhelming for Mom to try and manage the workload of cleaning, maintaining order, cooking, and keeping up with household tasks while also providing creative, interesting, effective lessons each day. Fortunately, Mom shouldn’t do it all by herself! Continue reading »
Although the last article examined the fact that borrowing money leads to overspending and poor financial health, it is natural to ask the question, "Just how, then, does one purchase items for which he/she does not have the money?" The answer to that question ties in closely with principles addressed in Part 4: 1) Children must learn to delay gratification and 2) Children must be taught to live within their means. When borrowing to purchase an item is not an option, parents can teach children another method to getting what they want, an approach often called "the envelope system". Continue reading »
A fourth major principle for helping kids learn to manage money effectively is to avoid borrowing. In our culture it is nearly a given that people must borrow money in order to purchase things they want. This philosophy, however, has led to tremendous debt. Continue reading »
When my children were small, I was a SAHHM (“stay-at-home”-homeschooling-mom), and laundry responsibilities were a natural part of our "curriculum." This was because I intended for my children’s education to include equipping them with basic life skills, like self-care, financial responsibility, and household maintenance. Continue reading »