Friday, August 30, 2013

The Hectic Schedule of a Working Homeschooling Parent

*POW! You're OFF

That's pretty much how I feel when I consider my homeschool and work schedule.

THE METHOD TO THE MADNESS

But there is a method here. One of Madness, Fun and Learning!

My work schedule varies but I'm the EARLY one and my Hubba is the LATE shift.

Days - Varies (5 Days) between Mon-Friday but we are changing to 4 days the 1st week of Oct- so if there's a bump in the schedule we adjust

Tools - Abeka DVD Academy disk and books, Workboxes, Teaching Textbooks, Youth Digital Game Programming online Interactive (www.youthdigital.com), TypingWeb (www.typingweb.com), and workbooks.

Ch-Changes: Tiger Lilly wants to add Japanese to her packed schedule O_o how will I fit that in? She doesn't like working independent really.

THE SCHEDULE

5-6am - The Day gig calls for mom

11am - Dad wakes up kids (either he drops them off at daycare or my MIL or BIG FAB FUZZ brother or BIG SASSY SIS are there with them)

2pm - Mom/Teacher/Driver/Sports Team Mom shows up after working her full day outside the home.

2:30pm - School begins. (Mom facilitates with use of Abeka DVDs)

3:20pm - Snack

3:45pm - Resume School

4:20pm - Snack

4:45pm - Resume School

5:45pm - Sandwich, Drink, And Fruit To Go

6pm - Leave for Sports (Cheerleading or Tumbling for Tiger Lilly and Soccer or Breakdancing for Speed Racer)

8pm - Home eat Dinner (Yeah, I know everyone says it's bad to eat this late, but hey have you seen our family schedule?)

9pm - Resume School (Dad Teaches  - using Abeka DVDs & Teaching Textbooks, Youth Digital) - Meanwhile mom is making lunches for everyone for the next day.

10:30pm - School's done (even when it's been a rough day early on, they seem to finish up by this time)

SO DO YOU HAVE A METHOD TO YOUR MADNESS?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

30 Days into school year 2013 to 2014


WE MADE IT!!!!


Yep, 30 Days into our school year and I've got to give an update. I hope to use this as kind of a school diary for my kids. Just in case the forget all of this great adventure we've gone on.

CHALLENGES STARTING THIS YEAR

To start we had some major hurdles to overcome. Niether one of my youngest 2 kids were self motivated learners. Both had challenges with Public and Private education. So, I created a list of things I wanted us to work on during our homeschooling time.

- Speed Racer's anxiousy and dislike of school.
- Tiger Lilly's lack of enthusiam for self directed learning
- Speed Racer's temper tantrums (although he didn't have them at home, he sure had plenty at school. and we were concerned that this bad behaviour would start at home when we merged home (safe environment to school-hostile environment).
- Deficiencies. Both kids had areas in Math and Science that they needed serious help in recovering or gaining skills. Yet, I didn't want to bring them all the way back to square one when they excelled in 80% of the facts but only needed Remedial help in 20% of the areas.

SOLUTIONS TESTED

So, to begin our first year I came up with solutions to the above challenges. I've tried them for the first 30 days of school and have tweaked them some to the point where it matured with the students.

- Anxious Behavior.

We use a CALM DOWN LIST (Link To It Here) that we recite before school starts, whenever I see a temper tantrum brewing, or when Speed Racer gets in trouble. *This is a KEEPER*

Timed breaks and goals. We use a timer for snack breaks, homework time, quiz time and even class time. *This is a KEEPER*

Stress Ball or Small Dry Erase Board for drawing or note taking. The kids use the stress ball when they want to do something with their hands but have to stay tuned into their DVD lesson. The small dry erase board they use to draw when they are in Bible but they have to draw a theme based on the topic. *This is a KEEPER*

- Enthusiam for Learning.

Interactive tools as 'Labs' to give different perspective on learning. We tried Time4Learning first. Mainly we used it for Math Lab, but then started poking around in other subjects just for the kids to 'play a game' which is really a learning tool. *This CHANGED* The kids enjoyed it but felt like there wasn't enough order to the lessons for them to do independently.

More directed curriculum tools. We used Teaching Textbooks to help build up areas in math that were lacking. This was a more direct approach and was totally student led. *This is a KEEPER*

Electives of choice. We allowed the kids to pick their electives themselves with the agreement that they would stick with it for at least 60 days (1 quarter). *This is a KEEPER*

- Behavior and Tantrums

The Calm Down List, involved 10 things Speed Racer could do to release his anger in a respectful manner. Read daily. Recited just as an issue is starting to arise. He has the list memorized and WOW, this has worked out as an amazing resource. I came up with this idea totally on my own, and I'm glad I did. He no longer has any tantrums. When he's starting to get 'bored' or irritated, he ask for a 5 minute break. We set the timer and he plays with our dog, watches TV or gets a quick snack. Then he's back on task. No anger issues now. Not even outside the home. We will keep this EVERY year just in case he forgets, lol! My husband even says he uses the list. Go figure. *This is a KEEPER*

Stress Ball. This has been iffy. Sometimes the ball becomes a distraction. So...I took it away. Slowly. It was a good start but not a good long term solution. *This CHANGED*

- Fixing Deficient Areas in Education.

Time4Learning was supposed to be a good fit for this. But for some reason the kids just didn't catch on. It's a great program, but it didn't work well for us. Mainly because the kids said too many subjects were available to them which made it seem like more work. So we dropped it.   *This CHANGED*

Teaching Textbooks. This was a major hit. We turned this extra learning into *MATH LAB* that the kids do for 30-40 minutes using the Teaching Textbook software. They loved this. Since it's so different than their core math curriculum this was a perfect solution. In addition Math was the only area where they needed the most remedial help. Writing is another but I plan on tackling that one next year since the Time4Learning didn't work out as well.   *This is a KEEPER*

SCHEDULING FEEDBACK

Well we started with a 5 day school week with 3-4.5 hours of school. After some play we decided that a 4 Day school week would be great and that the kids would use their 'Friday, makeup day' to do homework or makeup assignments so they could have their weekends completely free.

So, starting in October we will have a complete 4 week school year.

Also, we had to cut back on some of our electives because the kids said they don't want to be overrun with too many activities O_o so we didn't sign up for the Bowling League, Hip Hop Dance Team, or Jujitsu this year.

But we added on a Co-op Art class (because the kids want to meet other homeschoolers), Tween monthly meetings at our Co-op, and Field Trips to 1 time a month starting in September.

TEACHERS

Our original plan for teachers were Mom, Dad and Big Sis. Well Big Sis won't be able to help as she will have a full course load. We ditched the Nanny idea to save money and I found a daycare provider who takes Homeschool kids and only cost 30% of what a private part-time nanny would've cost. So the list of teachers are Day Care Provider 5% (who does curriculum with kids who have a boxed curriculum), Mom 60%, Dad 20% and Co-op 5%.

CURRICULUM CHANGES

Well I realized that using Abeka DVD is a great timesaver for me, but I didn't know if the kids would stay onboard with it.

They prefer Abeka DVD academy compared to all the other curriculums they've tried out. My husband and I love it because it's easy for both of us to administer.

The kids love it because they like the classroom feel and knowing what lesson they are on. This shocked me but they don't like being the only 'student' the online teacher is talking to.

We added Teaching Textbooks and it's definately a keeper. Also Youth Digital Game Design 1 was an elective my daughter fell in love with and we ordered Game Design 2 for her to complete for the year.

Typing Web is a free typing class and it's working for us. My daughter says it's boring, but she'll keep at it. I may try to find one that's more fun.

Yearbook. We decided we wanted to do a yearbook for the kids. So my daughter is taking this task on and we are happy we added it. We are collecting the photos and using Shutterfly.com to put the book together.

Class T-shirts. I'm adding this because I thought it would be fun when we go to field trips and other events.

ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES

We are using the Workbox System. The first few weeks I followed it specifically by filling the workboxes every night. Having only the number of the box on the box and giving the kids a daily schedule.

This was too much work. So...it changed. I only fill boxes now on Sunday's. I do a weekly schedule for the kids. And, I put the subject on each box with the number.

SO HOW's YOUR SCHOOL YEAR CHANGED?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Great High School Homeschool Supplement Resources

Using an out of the box curriculum doesn't mean I have everything I need or want to use to school my daughter.

SUPPLEMENTS? WHY BOTHER?

Once you've paid for a curriculum that seems to have all you want - or even put several different curriculums together to create the best option for your child, it may not be enough.

Sometimes your student may need a different perspective or way to learn the same information. My kids always needed that, even when they were in traditional schools.

It improves their overall understanding of difficult subjects without boring them to death.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A GOOD SUPPLEMENT

When I've searched out a supplement to a subject such as Algebra, Chemistry, Biology, Writing or even History, I try to look for a compliment to the core curriculum.

I want it to be fun, fast, and reinforce the facts.


HERE's MY HOT LIST of SUPPLEMENTS I've used for my older daughter

1) Rapid Learning for Chemistry and Biology- https://www.rapidlearningcenter.com/courses.html - then I follow up with a more traditional DVD school program. My oldest daughter loved this quick approach.

2) Algebrator - (http://softmath.com/adv/algebra-class.html) breaks down any algebra problem entered by the student. Is a good tool/resource for any algebra program. Another good tool to do this is, Mathway: http://www.mathway.com/problem.aspx?p=algebra

3) Time4Learning - (www.time4learning.com) is now doing High School Courses starting in Aug 2013. (only used for remedial help and a change in look and feel of subject matter)

4) Time4Writing - (www.time4writing) I use in addition to the standard English Curriculum

5) SAT Review - Chalkdust (www.chalkdust.com) is what my oldest daughter liked most of her choices. Also a good resource is YourTeacher.com which also offers other great courses and references them to actual textbooks that is an option. Otherwise all the teaching is done online.

6) Currclick - (http://www.currclick.com/) online classes that are reasonably priced(I plan on using this for my kid's Spanish class - they have online courses)

7) Youth Programming Video Games - (www.YouthDigital.com) a great primer for more advanced programming topics

8) Homeschool Programmer (http://www.homeschoolprogramming.com/) I order this with the DVD and books.

9) Teaching Textbooks MATH- Yes, I use this as a supplement for high school Algebra 1 and 2. The subject matter in TT Algebra 1/2 only covers the 1st year of High School Algebra.We call it our 'MATH LAB' class. (www.teachingtextbook.com) I've tried to purchase this used but the prices almost match getting it new.

10) Kinetic Books - This is like having a living book to learn Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 & Algebra 2. www.kineticbooks.com

11) Bagatrix - Pre-Calculus and Calculas tool that will walk through any Calculus problem you put in it. http://www.bagatrix.com/calculus.aspx

12) Froguts - use for disection like video for science, http://froguts.com/

13) Organizing Our Homeschool using WORKBOXES - List of different examples of the Workbox System, http://www.squidoo.com/workboxes

14) Online Music Instruction - I do this before the kid takes formal lessons to see if they are really intersted.  Guitar Lessons: http://youtubeguitarlessons.net/   Drum Lessons: http://www.drumeo.com/members/

15) Spanish Help and Free Curriculum - Main Page Link of Spanish Freebies: http://www.examiner.com/article/fabulous-free-resources-for-spanish-language-learning-for-all-ages





Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Your Homeschooled High Schooler CAN have the Best of High School

When I decided to homeschool my high schooler, she and I had some major concerns. SHE WOULD MISS ALL THE BEST THINGS ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL - not!

Here's what I did to ensure she got the best parts of High School without feeling as though she was missing out on anything.

(1) Put her in a lot of extra curriculur activities similar to her High School counterparts (she played Lacrosse, loved to do talent shows, events, clubs focused on high schoolers and bowling so putting her in leagues and recreational sports was a great way for her to stay plugged in)

(2) Joined an active High School Umbrella Group (we were lucky enough to find one in our area - YOU can also create one!)

(3) High School Friends, Family Focused Meet Ups (we planned monthly outings with neighbors, friends, family of high schooled teens that were low cost and fun-the teens ran the group.)

(4) Ask friends, family who have kids attending traditional schools to 'invite' your High Schooler to their dances. (Believe it or not, this is a very easy thing to do and made my daughter feel like she wasn't missing anything.)

(5) Summer Camps geared at High Schoolers of like interest (sleep away camps worked best for us)

(6) Year Book Creation (we created a year book for her time at home and gave her the completed one at her 'graduation')

(7) Similate a graduation and celebration (Our Umbrella group does an end of the year party where the Graduates can wear their cap and gown or not and exchange words of encouragement from family and friends)

(8) Buy a Cap And Gown. A Class Ring. Take Graduation Pictures.

(9) A Graduation

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Working Parent's Quickie Curriculum 2013-2014 (7th and 4th)

My 2013 - 2014 School Year Has Already Started!



And as a WORKING and HOMESCHOOLING parent who works outside of the home. I've had to forego being overly creative with my curriculum since I will have several 'teachers' for my kids. However, if I didn't have those restrictions I'd probably piece a lot of different things together, but this is working well for my family.

Although we've already started school for this year, I had to make 2 changes to our curriculum.

Teachers: Mom and Dad
Assistant Teachers: Drop in Daycare provider, Mother In Law, and Big Sister

School Year: July 2013 - May 2014
Amount of School Days a Week: 4 Day School Weeks (either done Mon-Thu or on weekends)
Time of School: Flexible (from evenings, weekends, even early morning depending on location of child)
Changes made: Replaced Time4Learning with Teaching Textbooks as our Supplement to use with Abeka math to give our students a different way to reinforce their math skills. I wanted something that was more contained and focused for math. And the kids liked the demo for Teaching Textbooks after they had done Time4Learning for a few months this summer and during the first 3 weeks of our homeschool.

How our DVD based Schooling works: Teacher for the day (see above) sits in a chair in the middle of both students during school time. The student is actually taught the via DVD teacher. The in home teacher acts as a Teacher's Assistant or facilitator. My 7th grader has on earphones. The 4th grader and teacher for the day physically participates in learning. Teacher makes sure 4th grader is engaged. When kids on DVD read, or do an exercise, teacher has at home student do the reading or exercise. Also, the teacher administers the test, quizzes, and checks each workbox for completeness before 4th grader places 'Done' sticker on workbox (or class finished). Breaks are administered by a timer and snacks are pre-made for speedy redirection back to work.

Paperwork and Recording of Grades: We belong to an Umbrella group (www.mpnl.org) which is a great help to us. We have to turn in paperwork at the end of the year and do 4 in person reviews during the year. In addition I will be doing a report card for each student given quarterly.

Organization Method: Workboxes! A life saver for this Type A, organization freak.

Tiger Lilly

My 7th Grader will be tackling the following Curriculum:
Tiger Lilly is transitioning from private school to homeschool. Her curriculum in private school was Abeka. She'd been in public school up until the middle of 6th grade and was considered an 'Advanced' placement student with great school MSA scores. However, I found she needed a little tightening up on core math facts. Abeka did a great job of moving her forward and re-enforcing what she lost. We are working hard to prepare her for Algebra 1 next year.

Duration of School Day With Homework: 4 to 5 hours
Number of Breaks: 2 - 20 min. snack breaks

Bible - Abeka DVD 7th Grade

Math 7 - Abeka DVD 7th Grade (Remedial Math) if she can finish daily work without problem she doesn't have to watch the DVD class
Algebra 1 - Ask Dr. Callahan - Algebra 1 (DVD course and book)
Teaching Textbook Algebra - Teaching Textbook is being used as a Supplement and done in 4 lessons a week.

Game Programming 1 and 2 - www.YouthDigital.com

Typing - www.TypingWeb.com

English 7 - Abeka DVD 7th Grade

World History - Abeka DVD 7th Grade

Life Science - Abeka DVD 7th Grade

Art - Small Craft Projects purchased from Micheal's craft store (only 1 time a week)

PE - Cheerleading, Basketball, and Lacrosse


Speed Racer



My 4th Grader will be tackling the following Curriculum:
Speed racer is also transitioning from private school to homeschool. He personally requested to be homeschooled and is loving it so far. We decided to keep it basic for him, but he is also alright with the extra math time. He catches on fast, but really needs to work on speed and calculation of multiplication and division facts.

Duration of School Day With Homework: 3 to 4 hours
Number of Breaks: 3 separate - 15 minute breaks

Bible - Abeka DVD 4th Grade

Math 4 - Abeka DVD 4th Grade
Teaching Textbooks - Teaching Textbooks Math 5 as a Supplement done daily as part of math homework

Reading - Abeka DVD 4th Grade

Spelling - Abeka DVD 4th Grade

Peotry - Abeka DVD 4th Grade

English - Abeka DVD 4th Grade

US History - Abeka DVD 4th Grade

Science - Abeka DVD 4th Grade

Art - Abeka and Small Craft Projects purchased from Micheal's  (only 1 time a week)

PE - Soccer, Basketball, Lacrosse