Thursday, October 31, 2013

Standardized Testing...Oh My!

I didn't think I'd do it...but I did. I ordered this for my kids and I'm so happy I did.

This week has been a bit chaotic. My mother in law came to visit and not only did I have to clean my house like you wouldn't believe, but I handed my kids over to her for administering the Stanford 10 standardized test. I ordered it through Abeka Testing.

WHY DID I DECIDE TO TEST MY KIDS

I really wanted to document their academic growth. My kids have been taking standardized test for years through the public and then private school system.

Both did relatively well in certain areas but it was hard for me to tell where they really needed the help.

Not only that, but I want them used to taking tests since testing is in their future with PSATs, SATs, CLEPs, DSST and AP exams I plan on them taking. I wouldn't want them unfamiliar with the process which would cause test anxiety.

ABOUT THE TEST

* To administer they want you to have a College Degree
* It takes 3 days and about 2-3 hrs per day
* There is no time limit on the test
* You mail it back to the scoring provider (in my case we used Abeka Testing)
* Scores come in 2 ways, I decided to get results both ways
* Do a test at the beginning of your school year - THEN do one at the end to see how the child has grown

WHEN TO TEST

After talking with my MIL I realized I started their initial testing WAY too late for my purpose. I should've tested them for their perspective grades in the very beginning of our school year. But now we are 90 days in. All I can do now is hope the test show some growth but to me the scores will not be a true indication of how much I grew them from the time they started homeschooling this July.

So I will test at the beginning of the school year and at the end of the school year in order to see how my kids improved their learning, what areas they need more help in, and to give them practice on taking standardized test.

THIS WEEK of insanity

Well testing was interesting. My poor MIL realized that my 10 yr old Speed Racer was finishing the test way too fast. After she reviewed some of his answers she asked him if he even read the passages and if these were his best answers.

Speed Racer said they weren't but he knows that stuff, why does he have to do the test. (my mouth dropped when she told me this)

But MIL an experienced educator told him, if he couldn't prove to her he knew it, what was the point in knowing them? After he thought on that, he asked her if he could correct his answers.

Then we decided to do school after the testing. I won't do this next time. I believe it was way too much and the kids did get their work done but they were grouchy about it. They didn't give MIL too hard a way to go. Thankfully, my Hubba took over around 8pm when the kids were getting off track.

As far as the rest of the house, dinner was thrown together 2 days this week, and we didn't eat until 9pm which is way too late compared to our 8pm dinner time (lol! I know but our schedule is packed).

DISTRACTIONS

My MIL was quite entertained while schooling Speed Racer and Tiger Lilly. My Speed Racer is so full of energy that I allow him 20 to 30 jumping jacks or push ups after each subject completed. But for his grandma he did several hand stands. Yep - this is why the kid didn't fit in at traditional school, he's got way too much energy.

Some major things that took us off schedule was the Stanford 10 test that was given to the kids and my crazy work schedule that had me working later than usual. But other than that, the kids had a great week.

However, I plan to take this Sunday off and sleep in, going to the late 6pm church service which they have dinner provided.

 

Monday, October 28, 2013

FREE HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM


While looking around for curriculum and decided to create a list of FREE ones that I liked. Here they are:


FREE CURRICULUM CHOICES

This one has ALL your subjects and it's completely FREE:
Education-Portal: www.education-portal.com
Complete Curriculum: allinonehomeschool.com
Complete Curriculum: http://schoolhouseteachers.com/
Biology: http://quarksandquirks.wordpress.com/biology-hs-level/
Chemistry: http://quarksandquirks.wordpress.com/chemistry-hs-level/
Writing: http://quarksandquirks.wordpress.com/research-paper-class/
Languages: http://www.italki.com/what-is-italki

Free ONLINE School:
Educational Portal
http://education-portal.com/academy/how-it-works.html

REINFOCE WITH FREE WEBSITES:
www.abcteach.com/
www.Space.com
http://kids.discovery.com/gaming
www.brainpop.com
www.internet4classrooms.com
www.funbrain.com
www.lessonpathways.com
www.starfall.com/
www.enchantedhomeschoolingmom.com
kids.nationalgeographic.com
http://www.icanteachmychild.com/3-5-years/
www.kidzui.com/
www.teacherspayteachers.com
www.typing-lessons.org
www.enchantedlearning.com
allinonehomeschool.com
www.homeschoolshare.com
http://www.homeschoolshare.com/levels.php
www.schoolexpress.com
http://www.wolframalpha.com/

DO YOU KNOW OF ANY FAB FREEBIES?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Working And Homeschooling Not An Impossible Feat


Working And Homeschooling Not An Impossible Feat

I know the thought of home educating your child while being a working parent or even a single working parent appears to be an impossible feat. BUT...it is not.

HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN

Do your research. Believe it or not the number of working parents and single parents deciding to home educate their kids is growing daily. Homeschooling isn't what it used to be perceived to be. It doesn't necessarily mean mom is sitting at the table playing teacher.

Figure out the Logistics. Childcare is a major issue for the working parent who is outside of the home. In this situation consider being creative. Flip flop work schedules with a spouse or even a friend who also homeschools their kid or needs childcare. Call daycare centers, home daycare providers and ask them if they will take 'drop ins' or homeschool children. Believe it or not, many will. Hire a nanny. I know this may sound expensive but in some cases it isn't when you do the hire yourself of a young homeschooling teen, a college student, or even some services are reasonably priced.

Find a curriculum that is portable. Even though as a new prospective homeschooling parent you want to be creative with your kids learning or you have no idea how to teach them, there are ways to do so. If you don't have money to purchase a curriculum - there are even free, step by step, day by day curriculums online you can use. Also consider online schools if you want accreditation or a report card managed by another institution. Find one that meets your needs as well as your child's. Don't bite off too much at first. Spend the first year homeschooling learning your child and how they learn. Research the most easiest, spelled out curriculum you can find to make your transition easy. Also, don't feel obligated to follow the curriculum 100%. Tweak it, and shape it to fit your needs.

Find an Umbrella Group or Homeschooling Group nearby. This is important to do prior to pulling your kid out of school. Take the time to meet people who are doing this journey with their family. Ask them the dumb questions and for guidance in dealing with your state and the laws. Also for finding resources for your kid.

Inquire with your Board of Ed to see what is required. Use the internet as a resource and contact your state to find out what the rules or laws are for homeschoolers there.

Have a backup plan. Always have a backup plan for childcare and support. As a working parent who is outside the home childcare and making sure your student is learning are most important. The best way to make sure this happens with as little stress as possible is to have a good support system.

Drop over and read up on some great tips on how to keep your home running smoothly at


YOU CAN DO IT. BE CREATIVE. MAP YOUR PATH. CHANGE YOUR CHILD's FUTURE.

Skipping Middle School as a Homeschooler


Skip...Skip...skip to the next grade.

SKIPPING YOUR KID A GRADE

I never even considered skipping my kids a grade before we started this endeavor homeschooling. However, both of my children have seemed to sprout butterfly wings while learning at home.

When they were in public school, their wings were clipped. My daughter, the 7th grader, was placed in advanced math and science classes but wasn't classified as 'Gifted and Talented'. However, after spending the last several months teaching her, I realized that, although she didn't grasp facts the first time their were introduced, she did have a real understanding of subjects. Also, she's a hard worker, rather thoughtful, and a fabulous writer.

This school year I've had to change two of her classes in order to keep her challenged, and it made me really put some thought to SKIPPING MIDDLE SCHOOL.

COMPARE COURSES for DEPTH

Okay, so with the thought of skipping my daughter in mind, I compared the MIDDLE SCHOOL grades curriculum (from my provider for all my curriculum materials) and 6TH GRADE with 9TH GRADE.

Math - MIDDLE SCHOOL math from 7th, 8th grade is just the SAME as 6th GRADE math. ONLY more problems and an introduction to Algebra and Geometry concepts.

English - MIDDLE SCHOOL for grades 7th, 8th really is just a lighter version of 9th GRADE English, with book reports and less difficult literature. Also, 7th and 8th grade drive home those grammar facts.

Science - MIDDLE SCHOOL is debatable for science. A smart kid can go from Earth Science or Physical Science straight to Biology (used in 9TH grades).

SKIPPING 7th and 8th GRADES is a DOABLE action for HOME SCHOOLERS

I truly believe they put Middle School in there to give kids time to grow up and mature. Also, to solidify skills of Basic Math, Intro to Algebra and Geometry facts.

So, I plan on having my youngest son finish 7th grade, then skip straight to 9th grade materials. Or if he continues to eat up subjects as well as he has, I'll move his courses up to 9th grade level in the areas of his strength.

THE TRICK TO DO THIS SUCCESSFULLY IS....

In order to pull this off, you have to make sure that your child REALLY KNOWS, the following:

- Rules to Grammar
- Math Facts with Speed and Accuracy (addition, subtraction, complex division, complex multiplication, fractions, percents, comfortable with Algebra facts and Geometric understanding).
- Science (strong ability to read and understand techincal or scientific dialogue, good memory or understanding and strong writing skills)
- Writing and Reading (child should be able to read above grade level and be able to write well).

Extra Assignments to Get Your Kid Ready for the big SKIP

- Book Reports (start as early as 3rd grade)
- Journaling (start in 3rd grade)
- Math Fact Test (find fun ways to really solidify the core math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to the point of Mastery)
- Science Experiment (add mini-experiments to your curriculum to teach kids how to reason for science)
- Logic building (The Art of the Argument is a great tool to teach at 6th grade) also games like Lumosity or mind bending games will help

WHAT ABOUT GROWING UP TOO FAST?

They can take their time in Community College once they've finished their High School classes which gives them the ability to improve their grades. Taking 2 classes a semester instead of 4 required to be full-time.

Also, at this time they can benefit from being both a Community College student and a high schooler, still able to participate in age appropriate activities and see what a beginning to College is like. Many Universities also allow 'Early Entrance' programs and the classes can be taken online. You don't even have to take the class to gain college credit you can 'audit' a class to just be able to learn about a specific topic.

Camps, work in real life internships, or go for it by CLEPing their courses and enrolling into some of the online colleges to earn out 2 years of school before transitioning to a traditional 4 yr college.

The sky is the limit if you are creative.

*Going to College early allows your student to enjoy Co-ops, Internships and even study abroad, yet still graduate at the same age as their peers, experiencing college and the advantages of that explorative time in life in a much fuller way but in less time.

HOMESCHOOLING ALLOWS US TO TEACH OUTSIDE BOXES

The best part of homeschooling for us has been the ability to 'teach outside the box'. My7th grader never would've been ready or permitted to skip to 9th grade material in public school. However, after moving her from Math 7th Grade to Algebra 1, then adding Geometry (at her request) I knew she could rise to the challenge of 9th grade work.

There are no boundaries to learning when done at home.

SO WOULD YOU SKIP MIDDLE SCHOOL? 7th or 8th GRADES?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Those Seemingly UnProductive Days

It has happened to all of us. Now that I homeschool in addition to the tons of work I do outside of the home, those days where things just don't work out can be frustrating.

THINGS THAT DERAIL US

Let's face it. Our home students have good days and DOG days. You know, they don't want to wake up. They argue with you for hours about how BORING the work is. They want to take tons of bathroom breaks and you want to scream. Sometimes you do.

IT's OKAY

Well on days I have like that when I have to go to work. Sometimes guess what? I leave early or I just don't go. I even take a long lunch break just to get my head back in the game.

TAKE A SIESTA

Times like this. I give us all a 'timed' break. I set the alarm and tell the kids they can do anything BUT play video games or go outside. Usually, they just get a snack, watch a show, or read a book of choice. Me - I take a short nap.

Why? Well because if Mom's cranky, her kids know it and mom/teacher can't redirect when cranky.

MAKE UP DAY...

Sometimes the day is a totally wash. So...we make it up. I move the work and lesson to the following day. Or do school on a day I had plan to have no school.

SHORTEN THE LESSON

This is another secret weapon. On days where we have somewhere to go, the kids are not engaged, or I'm too distracted to do an entire lesson. We shorten it. I don't do their DVD teaching section, I teach the new subject myself to the student. Or we don't do every homework practice problem or even cut our any of our electives for that day.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR DAY's GONE TO THE DOGs?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

There IS a SOCIALIZATION Issue with HOMESCHOOL





Many, many, many times I considered the 'Socialization' aspect of homeschooling my kids. I have to be honest, I wasn't on the homeschool bandwagon for very long. Before, I was one of those parents who thought homeschooling was unrealistically keeping kids in a bubble.

Now my opinion has changed, but having kids in both public, private and now homeschooling them has taught me that YES, there are SOCIALIZATION concerns for the homeschooled child. But now, to be honest, 'I don't care'. Because the socialization my kids got in public school and private school introduced them and pressured them into things they weren't necessarily ready to handle.

TRADITIONAL SCHOOL SOCIALIZATION

In a traditional school setting whether it's public or private there are clear and concise 'Social Rules' for students engaging with other peers there own age.

Social Realities of Traditional schools that homeschoolers don't get

- Social Cues like 'what not to say', 'how not to say it', 'what is the cool term of the week' and how to 'talk like the teens' in that specific school or group.

- Appearance Cues like being able to tell what a kid's 'school social class is' by the way that kid dresses, carries themselves, or wears.

- Class, Pecking Order Cues like the jocks, the nerds, the grudge groups and more. Kids have ways of classifying each other and ranking status in the school just by how you talk, who you hang out with, how you carry yourselves and more

WAYS TO SOCIALIZE

Mix your homeschooled kids activities with kids who aren't homeschooled. Kids don't mind sharing the ins and outs of their peer group to newbies. Therefore, confining our kid's 'socialization' activities with other homeschooled kids keeps them in a small pond without giving them the resources to find out what's in the beyond.

- Join local Recreational sports leagues, activities for teens, teams and more.
- Have your kid hang out with a friend or cousin who isn't homeschooled
- Camps, sleepaway that isn't restricted to your kid's group of typical peers or friends

and also, DON'T STRESS ABOUT IT

IN THE END - WE ARE ALL THE SAME

At the end of the day, we all turn out the same. Why? We grow up. College is much different that high school. And your kid will learn.

If they don't learn, who's to say they ever would've fit into to what the 'cool' group was in school. I never did, my younger kids never did. Now my oldest son was a 'Jock' on the top of the peeking order in high school - but guess what, none of that mattered when he went to college. He and many other kids have to find themselves again.

DO YOU SEE ANY WAYS YOU CAN IMPROVE SOCIALIZATION?

Monday, October 14, 2013

YOU CAN DO IT ALL-Work & Homeschool

Yes, there are only so many hours in a day, but if you use them wisely you can DO IT ALL. You can effectively work outside your home and school your kids.

PLAN IT OUT


Yep, I know, this part sticks, but it is effective. Plan out every single second of your day. Identify the places where you can multi-task reasonably. Also, note what tools you need to help you complete that task for the day.

DIVVY IT OUT


As a working mom, there are many task I have moved on to my kids since I no longer have the time to do it. When our Mother In Law, or Babysitter is watching the kids, she doesn’t do homeschooling with them. My kids just don’t perform well when they aren’t being watched by Mom or Dad who is their typical teachers. But they will do other things.

Now my kids cook dinner, clean the entire house (broken up as a task per day) and even make up Mom and Dad’s bed for extra allowance money.

WORKIN IT OUT

This is a part I really have to stress, find a job that can be flexible. My husband took one that he works mid-days and even night time. My job is extremely flexible. I can go to work whenever I want as long as I work 80 hours in a 2 week period. I changed my career to give me this type of flexibility when I was pregnant with my first child. Even then I knew I wanted to work while my children were young. I’ve never really been a stay at home mom, but my husband and I had periods where either one of us was always home. My husband worked a home business for 4 years while our youngest two kids were babies which allowed us to forego the constant need for childcare.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

Don’t be afraid to get help. Luckily for us, we have family close by. My Mother and my Mother-In-Law both helped out with the kids. At times we’ve even had our siblings pitch in as we supported each other. I’ve even kept my nieces for an entire summer since my sister had to work and couldn’t afford childcare for them at the time. Also, a friend of mine had a teen daughter who wanted to work for the summer but couldn’t drive. We paid her a reasonable bit to be our summer nanny. It was much cheaper for us, but a great opportunity for her.

SCHOOL TIME
This is where you have to really be creative when you are a working parent. Find curriculum that doesn’t require you to actually teach. If time is the issue, try to find a curriculum that will be doable in 2-3 hours or can be broken up into a 7 – day school week with only doing 1-1.5 hour a day.

Take school on the road. While I’m at one kid’s cheerleading practice, I’m schooling my other kids using our portable workbox notebook with all of their subjects. Since they are using a DVD based school, I take a small portable DVD Player and headphones and my son can do his school lessons while waiting 2 hours for his sister to finish practice.


SLEEP? IS THERE TIME LEFT
Yep, but not much. I have to admit this is the one part of this working outside the home and homeschooling that never seems to even out.
However, I take Sunday’s off and sleep in, going to the late 6pm church service.

 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Finally They Have Assimulated!

Assimilated!

Okay I'm giving away some of my STAR WARS and the BORG fan fare.

But it's true! My kids are getting it.

This is now our 70th Lesson (9th week) of homeschooling and the kids and I are really enjoying it.

CLASSES and School Time Targets

Yep, we have started a Co-op Art Class. We are in our 3rd week of it and I never thought they'd be able to participate in it because as parents who work outside of the home, doing an activity in the middle of the day is difficult. But myself and Hubba worked things out so they could do this 8 week session on Art Appreciation.

As far as regular instruction goes, the kids are used to having at least a quiz a week per class and about 3 to 4 test a week. They are on board now and have a rythm worked out for completing thier video lectures, seatwork and homework all in the alloted time. Speed Racer at 4th grade is consistently finishing in 3.5 hrs with his 2-10 min breaks. My Tiger Lilly has increased her courseload and is now taking her 6 hrs to finish school.

CHANGES...

Aha! Always a change.

Four day weeks are in full effect now! Woot!

Added Classes are:

Speed Racer - Spanish 1 (Spanish Town & Individual Software Easy Spanish)

Tiger Lilly - Biology (This took the timeslot for Typing. This is non-intensive with no labs-she just wanted to explore more biology so I added the Thinkwell Biology program). Art of the Argument (logic course) will also be tackled this coming January.

Both: Art Co-op


Dropped or Ended Classes:

Tiger Lilly - Typing - She's accomplished her 30 wpm and so typing ended for this school year. She will have lots of practice

Tiger Lilly - Abeka Bible - we are using our Teen Devotional.

Independent Art - This ended since she started at the Art Co-op


oh my! more PLANNED CHANGES COMING...

Mid year I plan on adding some additional subjects or supplements to Tiger Lilly's curriculum

I plan to have her CLEP test for Algebra 1 and English Composition.

So in February, she will be finishing up her Teaching Textbook Geometry/Algebra 1 (free's up 1 hr) and we will start the CLEP study classes (I found a CLEP lesson plans by Tricia McQuarrie book she will be working through) and we will be doing Analytical Grammar to pull in loose grammar edges before testing and starting 9th grade English. Also, Speed Reading, 20 minutes a day using a ACE software package I got on sale.

YouthDigital.com the amazing (did I say AMAZING!) Game Design 1 and 2 curriculum my daughter's been working is supposed to last a school year, but my Tiger Lilly LOVES it so much she works on it when she's not scheduled to and instead of finishing it in May, she'll be finishing it in February. So we will start her on Java by Homeschool Programming.


WHY MORE CHANGES...

Well the truth is, I knew nothing of CLEP testing. I kept going to several forums like The Well Trained Mind Forum and saw parents talk about it. After some research I found that my kid could test out of college courses, earn credit, for taking a CLEP test on a subject I'm already teaching her at home. So it just made sense to pursue it for my Tiger Lilly who is an avid learner.

Lastly, my kids are absolutely blossoming under homeschooling. They are turning into HAPPY little geeks, even my Speed Racer. How could a mom ask for more?
WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEEN WITH LABELING?