Back to School, or Not Back to School?

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Homeschoolers, is it Back to School at your house, or do prefer the phrase Not Back to School? Neither is more correct than the other, but we do the Not Back to School thing around here.

Why? It sounds more fun. ;)

If you like to have a themed NBtS day, here are some things you can do to spice up the celebration:

*Pick a theme and stick with it. For everything. From breakfast to bedtime and all that’s in between. Fiesta? Sounds fun. Maybe you want a “Zoo Day?” That sounds great too!

*If you think that a theme would be too distracting, but you want to throw something out there that’s a little different than your “normal” school work, try either of these Not Back to School spelling/vocabulary lists:
Not Back to School list 1
Not Back to School list 2

What about if this Back to School/Not Back to School is your first in your homeschooling journey? Are you looking for curricula and other resources? Here is a great Secular homeschool curriculum directory and a How to Homeschool ebook.

If this isn’t your first homeschool year, but you’re starting your homeschooling high school journey, well don’t worry…I’ve got some help for you too:

Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling High School
Getting Organized for the New High School Homeschool Year
High School Curriculum Directory

Now it’s YOUR turn? What do you guys do to celebrate Back to School/Not Back to School?

 

 

 

Free Trials, Giveaways and More…

Most homeschoolers are frugal. In this day and age, most everyone is frugal. If you can try before you buy, or win stuff, or find a way to get something for free, you’re going to. Right? ;)

In that spirit, and knowing many homeschooling parents are browsing curricula and programs/websites to use for their upcoming school year, here are a few opportunities to enter a giveaway or get a couple of free trials:

Science4Us is an excellent resource for elementary science. They have just launched their homeschool review program, which gives you free access for 30 days, in exchange for your review of your experience. Click on the image below to learn more. image001

Time4Learning is an interactive, online curriculum for grades Pre-K through 12. Homeschoolers can use it as a core/complete program, they can use it to supplement other materials, they can use as a way to prevent summer learning loss, etc. They are currently offering a free 14-day trial to a limited number of folks, so if you’re interested, follow this link to learn more and sign up: Time4Learning Forums – FREE 14-day Trials

Secular Homeschool has a great giveaway for July. One lucky winner will receive a prize package worth $75. To enter, just follow this link: Secular Homeschool July 2014 Giveaway – All About Spelling

Know of any other giveaways or free trial opportunities? Please chime in and share in the comments below! :)

Sharing Our Successes…

This time of year is always the time when we as parents/teachers/homeschoolers reflect on the school year that we just wrapped up, or will wrap up over the summer. Instead of stewing over what might have gone wrong (we all have those things, don’t feel bad), let’s share and celebrate each other’s successes.

Homeschool Celebrations

I’ll start. ;)

We finished our first year of high school homeschool this year! I was a nervous wreck before we started, and had been worrying about high school for years. As it turned out, it really went just as smoothly as every other year. There were some initial struggles with how much time we spent on school (prior years we were more relaxed and took a more interest led approach), but when my son talked to other kids who were in high school in public school, and was told about just how much time they spent doing homework AFTER school…well, those struggles were quickly overcome.

Now, let’s hear from you! After you’ve shared in the comments below, take a look at some of these incredible homeschool success stories:

http://www.pinterest.com/lhshs/in-the-news/

 

Where It’s App…

It’s no secret that we love all things shiny and gadget-like around here, so you’ll understand my excitement when I announce the newest way we’ve been able to access our online homeschool curriculum.

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The Puffin Academy App and Time4Learning have made my boys SO happy! Why? Because they can now do their school on their tablets. Laying on the couch, sitting outside, in the car (ok…that pleases me much more than them, but we spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car…), and anywhere else they can access the web. We have a mobile data plan on our cell phones, and use them as hotspots all the time, so we have a whole new appreciation of the phrase “learning on the go.”

The app is available in the iOS app store, and in the Google Play store, so check it out! :)

Graduating a Homeschooler…

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So many people think that homeschoolers don’t worry about things like graduations, or continuing their education via trade schools or colleges/universities.

While that may be true for some, that certainly isn’t true for most. Many colleges and universities are becoming more and more homeschool friendly, and more and more homeschoolers are excelling at college. Here are some resources that can help you and your high school homeschooler prepare for “life after graduation:”

~ Dual Enrollment – There’s no better way to prepare for college, than to earn high school credits AND college credits at the same time.

~ High School Requirements for Educational Goals – Whether your high schoolers are considering community college, or have hopes of attending an Ivy League school (or they fall somewhere in between those), you want to know what the high school requirements are for where they want to go.

~ Homeschool-friendly Colleges – I firmly believe that homeschoolers have a shot at attending ANY school they apply to, but there’s nothing wrong with setting your sights on a school that happily accepts homeschoolers, without any additional hoops to jump through.

~ College Alternatives – If a major college isn’t something your homeschool high schooler has their eyes on, that’s okay! Here are some excellent ideas/resources for those who have a different post-graduation plan.

Fun with Social Studies

Social studies can be such a fun subject to teach and learn. Whether you and your kids prefer a workbook or textbook based social studies curriculum, or whether they prefer an online homeschool social studies program, there are ways to have fun with the subject.

Field trips can be tons of fun and really educational, all at the same time. Check out some local history spots, or visit a museum.

Play games! Learning Games for Kids offers quite a few (and FREE!) social studies games on their site.

Historical television programs and documentaries. Yep, I said it. Use your TV as an educational tool. ;)

What are some of the ways that you and your children have had fun with teaching and learning social studies?

 

Summer Learning, Had Me A Blast…

Wait…that’s not how the song goes, is it? ;)

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So let’s talk gearing up for summer. How many of you fabulous readers do school, in some form or fashion, during the summer? Do you have public/private schoolers that have to go to summer school? Is the summer a time when you need a little help with tutoring?

What about the homeschoolers out there? Do you take a summer break, or do you do the year round thing?

We homeschool and technically do the year round thing, but usually we end up finished with the current grade level by the end of July or so. So, there’s some time off because we don’t start the next school year until after Labor Day. This works out well for us. Because, my guys…I tell ya, if they had 2.5 – 3 months off from school, they wouldn’t remember A THING, lol.

In our break time, or if we need a light school day because we want to play, we focus on some things they don’t find “school-ish.”

Apps and games!

There are tons of educational apps out there, and honestly, spelling games on their Spelling City app is the least frustrating way we have to get them to do willingly do spelling.

Online games are a great way to reinforce and retain. You can find websites that offer free games; everything from math games and art games, to literature games online and Latin learning games. Game play usually equals fun, and I’m all about trying to make learning fun!

Now tell me. What are your summer learning plans?

Multi-tasking…

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For some parents/teachers, their curricula doesn’t multi-task well. Math is math. Science is science, and so on. But for some of us, we need the programs and materials we use to be able to be used across multiple subjects. Here are some examples of how we cover more than one subject at a time:

Incorporate reading into math. Even though we probably all hate those math word problems, lol, they do help with reading comprehension.

We fuse art lessons with history lessons (learning about period pieces and how artists and the materials they used differ than those today).

Using words from our current homeschool social studies lesson to practice word study and vocabulary building skills.

While we use spelling lists from a variety of sources, some of our favorites are actually the geography lists over at SpellingCity.com! We learn about local geography (states and state capitals), but we also learn about other countries. All the while, we are working on our spelling!

I’ve shared a few of the ways that WE multi-task/multi-subject. Now, won’t you please share some of YOUR ways?

Homeschool Math

square rootMath. Around here, saying the word “math” means pouting faces and whole body shudders. It means bargaining for less math time, by offering more language arts time or less math time with more handwriting (which is a very close second on the Most Dreaded Subjects list) time.

What I’ve learned over the years is, as with other subjects, the Internet can provide a huge number of resources to help those homeschoolers who are struggling with homeschool math. Some of my favorite things to use for my math-anxious kiddo are not traditional math worksheets or activities, but things like math flashcards and online math games.

Tell me…what are some ways that you have found to helpabacus ease the math pain? :)

 

Homeschooling Through the Holidays

Most homeschoolers are fortunate enough to be able to alter their school schedule around their winter holiday of choice. Our family, for example, generally tries to take off from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. It’s a long break, but one we really need.

Having said that, over the years I’ve discovered that my boys don’t do well with extended breaks. It’s not so much that they can’t remember what they learned prior to the break, but that it just takes so long to get back into the swing of things.

december-month-winter-kidsSo now, we do “school-lite” during the holidays. I take words from the holiday we celebrate, Christmas, and plug them into the website we use in place of a traditional homeschool spelling curriculum.  They can then use that word list to play games, practice handwriting, etc.

We also enjoy learning about other holidays. How the holiday started, what traditions do the holidays carry, foods that are traditionally served, etc. After extensive “Googling” and “Wiki-ing,” (I think “Wiki-ing” should be an actual word, don’t you?), they enjoy doing unit studies or little mini essay writing exercises, talking about the different holidays they’ve learned about.

What about you? Does your homeschooling schedule change around the holidays? How so?