Posts Tagged ‘homeschooling’

Portrait of a Homeschool Kid

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 by by

Many misconceptions abound regarding homeschool kids. As a homeschool family, we have heard them all: the kids aren’t socialized, they aren’t educated enough, they aren’t exposed to the real world, they miss out on the opportunities to x y and z. All negative opinions from those who have never been there and have no idea what being a homeschool kid actually means. Most of us weren’t homeschooled as kids (I wasn’t), so our “reliable” source of information on the topic hails from television news stories notorious for sensationalism and one-sidedness. Six years ago, we decided to use our own brains and parental intuition to decide what was right for our children, and we’ve never regretted it!

What biggest thing does homeschooling offer that traditional schooling does not? Time. Plain and simple, it offers us the time we need to pursue whatever the kids want. (more…)


Structured Learning Activities with a Young Toddler

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 by by

Recently, I’ve begun implementing structured learning activities into our day for Peanut. Although she is just over 16 months old, I can already see the benefit these early learning sessions will have! We plan on homeschooling, so getting into a routine of daily learning will also be really helpful when she starts more formal preschool studies.
When I first started researching homeschooling, I thought for sure that I would not have to worry about it until she was at least 3. But the more I learned about early learning, and the more I watched her develop and grow, I decided to start doing structured activities with her, even if just for 15 or 30 minutes a day. The great thing is that she has fun and is learning without even realizing it!

I’ve been able to find quite a few free young toddler curriculum online, and so far we have been following Pam’s House Young Toddler Curriculum. I love how flexible it is and how you can just pick and choose what you want to do. I also love the Christian teachings included. Since Peanut is still fairly young and not really talking, I can just repeat lessons a few times if I need to. This is going to come in handy when I am busy taking care of a newborn at the same time. These lessons are structured so that you can quickly start and stop different activities if needed. I borrow books for the week from the library and am working on getting our “school” supplies stocked so I can more easily do projects that involve things like construction paper, glue sticks, basic craft supplies, or crayons.

If you’re interested in teaching babies and toddlers, here are a few more links I found that were helpful:
Infant and Toddler Lesson Planning Ideas
Toddler Curriculum
Children’s Songs with Lyrics
Sample of Bible Study Concepts for Toddlers
I Can Teach my Child: 1-2 Years

What Do We See, Under the Sea?

Friday, September 16th, 2011 by by

The last couple of weeks, we have been exploring ocean life. I got the idea to do this “unit” because Jonah really had a lot of fun at a recent trip to the aquarium. He sat at each exhibit, wide eyed and taking in all of the colors and combination of shapes and textures, as I kept a very simple conversation with him about the names of the creatures and what he thought they were doing.

We started the theme by discussing what animals swim in the ocean. We had this conversation a couple of times: At breakfast, in the car while driving to speech therapy, while we were shopping and he was sitting in the grocery cart. I simply asked him, “What do you think swims in the ocean?” He could come up with a pretty impressive list on his own – fish, seahorses, whales, sharks. Then I asked him about various specific animals. “Do cows swim in the ocean??” or “Do jellyfish live in the ocean??” He thought this was a hilarious game!

Later in the week, we added to our conversation: “Where is the ocean?” We looked at a map and various pictures of coastal beaches, boats, and harbors. We talked about how we would get to the ocean if we wanted to go (plane, car) and looked at pictures of a vacation we took to the ocean.  We also talked about what to bring to the ocean/beach on a trip! If only it were possible to follow this particular lesson up with an actual trip to the ocean.

I wasn’t sure how much Jonah would be interested in a whole lesson plan geared toward an Under the Sea theme, so I had originally planned for it to only last a week. He was so interested, and Eve was also having so much fun, that I extended it and we are just now wrapping it up after two and a half weeks! This might be something that we will visit again if we have time later in the year.

My take on Handwriting Without Tears

Friday, September 2nd, 2011 by by

Let me preface this by saying we’ve been using the program for a grand total of two days now, so I am subject to change my mind on this at a later time. But I don’t think I will: everything I’ve seen thus far with our new Handwriting Without Tears workbooks has me excited. I did some research over the summer (but mostly I lounged around the house in the a/c), and I knew this particular line of books existed, but I had never paid much attention. Everything I’d heard from friends touted its greatness, but I personally like to see and feel my books in a store before making a purchase, so if Wal-Mart or Books A Million didn’t carry it, I didn’t own it.

I was thoroughly impressed with the HWT website; they seem to have included just about everything: samples, PDFs of actual pages, research, lots of reasons to use their curriculum because of their unique approach, and even access to free online tools. If nothing else, they have a slick marketing team. (more…)


Back to school

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 by by

Today was our first day back to school after a leisurely summer break. A first day of school juggling three elementary students in different grades and a rambunctious toddler goes something like this:

I kick everyone out of bed and make them get dressed and assembled for school pictures. An opportunity to torture children with the camera would be a pity to pass up.

Alexei is in 5th this year and has an attitude to match.


Book: HomeSchooling At the Speed of Life

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 by by

Whether you’ve been homeschooling for a while, are just starting out, or think you could never manage it – this book is for you! Marilyn Rockett offers a wealth of knowledge and ideas for balancing home, school, and family in the real world. In addition to the abundance of workable systems and solutions, she also features an array of encouraging Bible verses and other quotes throughout to support her ideas. The included CD-Rom in itself more than pays for the book, as it offers a bounty of helpful, printable files for your endless use. Health and school records, household chores and routines, student assignments and lesson planners, menu and project minders, field trip minder, test records and high school transcript files, and more! You have it all. It doesn’t matter whether you are organizationally challenged or could just use a few more tips to stay on the ball, you’ll love this book. HomeSchooling at the Speed of Life. It’s amazing. How do you possibly manage to keep up with the laundry, pay the bills, make the meals, and teach Latin, math, and science in a day? It may be a work-in-progress, but it is possible! Buy the book and find out!

Museums and Nature Centers: The importance of exposing the arts, science, nature and creative exploration

Thursday, July 28th, 2011 by by

The last few Fridays, we delighted in some day trips to the museums in Grand Rapids and with the area Nature Center. The value in these explorations and exposure to art, nature, and creative expression is priceless. I’m convinced it will instill a life-long appreciation from a young age when these opportunities are used to our advantage.

Recently, we fit in a morning trip to the Grand Rapids Art Museum with some of our homeschool friends. GRAM is featuring an excellent John Audubon exhibit on the second floor – there is a kids’ scavenger hunt they provide that automatically helps engage the kids in studying each painting up close. Love it! My daughter took in a lot as we evaluated what it was like when they didn’t have cameras to take a picture of the birds they observed outside. After a quick lunch, we strolled down the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for the afternoon – always an awesome adventure. If you’ve never been to the GRCM, you don’t know what you are missing. Two floors of creative, imaginative, hands-on fun for kids of all ages, and they always have something new in store as well as the stand-by classic favorites.

The following Friday, we attended an amazing Geology Rocks! class at the Howard Christensen Nature Center. It was our second trip out there this month (see our trip for the JND here), and it was phenomenally amazing. The dedication and passion the volunteers have are beautiful, and the resources they have are great. We had one-on-one attention to the interests of my kids as they explored and discovered; it was a spectacular day of blissful education.

I always am amazed when I ask my children afterward what their favorite part of the day was. Not only is this giving them the opportunity to practice reflection and review, but it shows me how much they are taking in – it’s always more than I suspect they are at the time.

“Education is all a matter of building bridges.” -Ralph Ellison


Junior Naturalist Day at the local Nature Center

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 by by

The Howard Christensen Nature Center in Kent City, Michigan, has had it’s share of funding ups and downs. It has closed and been re-owned multiple times over the years, most recently shutting it’s doors this last January due to lack of funding. Lucky for nature-lovers (and area homeschoolers!), they found a way to re-open in May and maintain management by a new independent non-profit group, Lily’s Frog Pad, Inc.

They featured a free Junior Naturalist Day for all ages on July 14, and we picked up a fellow homeschool friend to join us for an afternoon of adventure. It was a wonderful day. Their Red Pine Interpretive Center was filled with various stations of exploration. The kids got to move at their own pace for hours as they studied salamanders, bug specimen, animal exhibits, and more. They had great activities, such as using various tools like tweezers, staple removers, pliers, droppers, etc. meant to represent the different beaks and bills of various birds to pick up fish, worms and stuffed mice, and to break open seeds.

We signed up for some future classes and really look forward to returning soon. If you live anywhere near the area, I highly recommend spending a day there, even just to visit the amazing trails they have featured throughout the 135 acres, or to check out some of the fantastic educational programs they have lined up. It is an exciting blessing to have this establishment available to the public. It needs support from those who value environment, education and God’s design in nature to keep it alive for good. (more…)

Highlights from our Homeschool Week

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 by by

A glimpse in the life of our normal homeschool week.

Monday: We started out the week learning about natural disasters, specifically studying Joplin, Missouri, and the tornadoes that devastated the area. We put together Animal Relief Kits to send to the animal shelter down there. You can read more about those activities in my Lessons from Natural Disasters post. That afternoon, we headed out to the playground for our designated Monday playdate with my kids’ friend Gabbie and her baby sister. We arrived early, and as my son cat-napped in the car, my daughter and I enjoyed some books we keep on hand for “car-schooling” moments like these. My car-tote includes dry erase learning books, library books, flashcards, BrainQuest cards, etc.
Making a Tornado, see my Disaster Post for instructions.

Manatee Moments

Monday, May 30th, 2011 by by

We were gifted a subscription to Your Big Backyard magazine, and my kids adore it every month. Not only is it something fun to look forward to in the mail, but it spurs spontaneous adventure when we turn any topic of their choice into a unit study for the day. The feature in our recent issue was the Manatee. We read up what the magazine had to say, drew a picture of a Manatee with YBB’s step-by-step instructions, and found amazing free education resources online at the Save the Manatee Club website. They have free printables, games, videos, and sound clips – you can hear a lot of the different sounds a Manatee makes! My kids loved it, very cool! We also made a diorama: the Manatee’s Habitat in the ocean, complete with real rocks, since manatees love to scratch their backs by rolling around on the ocean floor. We had all the materials on hand already and used a potato as our new pet manatee! It was a really fun study for the day. (more…)