Teaching History in Your Homeschool

History is not focused on so much in school these days. I was disappointed to learn that it isn’t even included on the big, important ACT test. But a knowledge of history is vital to Americans. History is where you learn the average length of time the world’s civilizations have endured, and where we are currently on that time clock. It’s where you learn from the past about what works and what doesn’t so you don’t make the same mistakes as a society. But it can also be one of the driest subjects to children. The teacher must have a fire for the subject herself and then be able to transmit that excitement to her students.

Take a page from my own childhood experience. I entered sixth grade very excited to have my first encounter with world history, but it quickly became an overwhelming bore, what with dozens of end-of-chapter questions that had to be answered in complete sentences, hundreds of vocabulary words, memorization of meaningless facts. History did not come alive for me at all, and I actually made a D, yes, a D in history, my only one ever, and only because of so many incomplete assignments. That class effectively killed my budding love of history for the next 10 years.

So we do history differently in our homeschool. Yes, there are still assignments, and I do like my children to be familiar with a few key dates (Columbus-1492, Civil War-1861-1865, etc.) But my goal has been to really bring out the importance of history and its effects on all of our lives, as well as to inspire with the curious and innovative spirits of so many historical figures. Both of my kids have indicated that they “get it”, and one has even stated that he likes history. A beautiful moment!

So for our “spine”, as it’s called (the main resource you use as an overview of history), we used some good textbooks, just your basic, “This happened, followed by this happening, etc.”, not always fascinating by itself, but I like my children to get the big picture of the history of the world to date. The supplemental resources we’ve used are really where it’s at, where you get the words of people who say, “I was there and this is what it was like.” In that vein we read lots of books and watched lots of documentaries and films. There are many interesting biographies, written on a children’s level, that you can buy or check out from your local library. Many homeschool websites provide resources and recommendations for history supplements that include hands-on activities, games, crafts, stories, and other things which make the subject come alive for kids.

Timelines are very effective for seeing how events fit together in history, and to see what was going on in different parts of the world at the same time. We have a large, comprehensive one covering one wall of our schoolroom, plus each child has their own sketchbook where they keep a timeline with small drawings of each entry. History can become a favorite subject in your homeschool too.

Homeschool Support Groups – 7 Questions to Ask Before You Join One

Many veteran homeschoolers advise other homeschoolers to join a homeschool support group. They can provide encouragement, support, advice on state standards, and socialization. There are so many support groups available, chances are there is one meeting in your area. Before you join a homeschool support group you will want to ask a few questions to make sure this group is a good fit for your family.

1. When are the meetings held and how are they run? Do the meetings fit in with your schedule? Are they meeting during a nap time or when your husband doesn’t want you to be gone? Are they regularly scheduled or just as needed? Do they meet too often, more than you have time to attend or just about the right amount?

2. What is required of me? Is there a membership fee or required time commitment? Do I need to sign a statement of faith or is anyone allowed to participate?

3. Do most of the homeschoolers have the same philosophy of homeschooling that I do or is there a variety? Do I have enough in common with the members of this group to feel comfortable or benefit from their input?

4. Do they have someone you can contact if you are new to homeschooling or need help along the way?

5. Do they communicate well? Is there a phone or e-mail system set up to relay messages about group events?

6. Are there enough/too many activities for you to participate in? If a group is not active in meeting or planning activities, you might not get the help or support you need. On the other hand, if the group is too active and make you feel that you need to be at most of the activities it, may hinder your homeschool year and cause you to burn out.

7. Is everyone doing their share or are just a few people doing all the work? If everyone does at least a little bit and contributes their special talent, then you’ll find that the group and leadership are well run and satisfied.

As with anything in life, balance is the key to finding the right support group for your family. You need to know what you want and what you are willing to give to a support group. If you decide that this is not the right time in your life to join a support group, then don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for making that decision. Sometimes one or two homeschool friends that you can call on for support or advice may be all that you need. If you desire to join a homeschool support group, then these questions should help you find a group that will meet your needs.

Homeschool Classroom Setting

If at all possible, the homeschool education classroom setting should be a specific room, or at least an area of the home. And even better, this room or area should only be used for your homeschool education organization. It’s important that your students associate this room with that of focus and learning. If a separate area for home study schooling is not possible then make sure the area you do use is free from clutter and other non topical material that could be distraction when the home school is in session.

Allowing for, and keeping your homeschool classroom organized is also a key ingredient for success. Not only should you provide for your organizational needs but let’s not forget about the child’s homeschool supplies and materials too! Be creative with the space you have. You don’t need a big budget to get your classroom organized and setup. Use various sizes of boxes for cubby holes. Even bigger boxes could serve as partitions for the room! These boxes can even be painted (instead of your walls!) and have educational accomplishments even stuck on them…. You get the picture! And, if needed, at the end of each day they can be folded up and put away!

Visual materials for the home education are a must. If you don’t have a big chalkboard, invest in an easel and a big flip chart type notepad. Always sitting next to the child or children isn’t always the best way to illustrate instruction. For one, you hand will generally always be in the way so the student can’t see your visualizations as you speak. When this happens your verbal instruction doesn’t match what the child is able to see. Kind of like watching one of those foreign films where the English is dubbed in! The conversation has already happened before you see their lips move!

Of course, there are many aspects and pieces to a successful homeschool education. The home school classroom is but one of them. With a little planning and some attention to detail, as a homeschooler, you will create an environment that is conducive to the child’s learning.

 

Homeschool Graduate: Now What?

If your homeschool student isn’t the type who wants to immediately head straight to college out of high school, don’t despair this does not mean you have failed in your job! As a parent, your work during high school includes planning for and providing the best possible education for your child so they can learn the life skills that they need, preparing them to be ready for a variety of different possibilities, and then encouraging them to pursue the work skills and things they’ll need to know in order to function in their job, whether that includes college or not. In the midst of the variety of different options for high school graduates, distance learning and working are two great alternatives you might want to look into.

Although it seems very trendy today, many people will be surprised to learn that distance learning is not a new phenomenon; it has actually been around for decades. Years ago, people did distance learning as well. They would mail in their tests and their papers instead of emailing or faxing them, but it was really the exact same thing. Resources for distance learning have been around for a long time. One of the books we used for distance learning is “Bear’s Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning,” which was published for the first time decades ago! There are many reasons that distance learning might be a good fit for your student, including finances, work schedules, and environment concerns. For more great information, I recommend the book “Accelerated Distance Learning” by Brad Voeller.

Education is not just a matter of climbing up the ladder; it’s also about what you’re going to do after you’ve climbed up the ladder–where you’re going to work. Many students will decide that they want to work after high school. I have a friend whose teen-aged son said he was going to work and not go to college. He got a job working at a local fast food restaurant and he loved it. He was getting higher and higher in management as a teenager, and finally decided that he really wanted to own a business. He quickly found out that this required a business degree, so he decided that he wanted to go to college. He easily passed the college entrance exams, because his mother had taught him everything he needed to know during high school. The message here is that you always need to be prepared remember that kids will change their minds! You just don’t know what the future is going to hold; kids mature and change their minds and the next thing you know, they want to own a business of their own and they need a degree. If you’ve prepared them in high school, then they will be ready for whatever they ultimately choose college, distance learning, work in whatever order they need it! That’s success in homeschooling!

Home School Methods – What Do Parents Use to Homeschool?

There are as many ways to home school as there are people out there that home school. Basically most people will range somewhere in the broad spectrum between “school-at-home” and “let the kids play all they want and they’ll learn what they need to know”. You need to know your style and the temperaments and learning styles of your children to be able to come up with an educational philosophy that you can both live with.

Children can learn with workbooks and they can learn with games. Some children love to work through a textbook and don’t want to be bothered with games while other children may complete a workbook but not remember anything they did.

There are all kinds of terms that are used to describe the styles of home schooling such as Eclectic, Classical, Unschooling, Traditional, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and Unit Studies.

Homeschooling does stretch a parent but it doesn’t have to bend them out of shape. Each parent needs to evaluate what type of learning methods they feel comfortable with in teaching their children. Some people wouldn’t feel comfortable using anything but a structured curriculum that tells them exactly what to say. While others would feel very stifled to have to be tied to a curriculum that told them exactly what they had to do.

Homeschooling is mostly about relationships. If you have a great relationship with your child or work on relating with your child, you will be able to work through any curriculum struggle by communicating.

Children need some boundaries in their day. They may not learn anything by playing around all day, but then they may not learn anything by completing a workbook page either. They need some structure that they are required to follow and be held accountable if they step outside those boundaries. When you have some “have tos” in your life it builds character and makes the unstructured times more fun.

Random Facts Versus Whole Science Approach to Homeschool Teaching

When it comes to learning science, most of us were taught in the public school system, which is a big proponent of the random fact teaching methodology. In other words, science was a single subject taught in a vacuum separate from other subjects. When it comes to teaching difficult or complex subjects such as science, it makes more sense to take a holistic approach. Here’s why.

The Science Random Fact Junk Drawer

There has been much news lately about the American education crisis in regards to a lack of interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) disciplines. The United States is falling behind other developed countries when it comes to new technologies and discoveries, mainly because it is producing fewer graduates with related degrees.

One of the reasons for this lack of interest in STEM disciplines is due to the way kids are taught. Students often learn a bit of science here and a bit of science there without being provided any logical way to connect the dots. This collection of random facts can be likened to your junk drawer at home – you know there’s a screwdriver in the midst of all those rubber bands and paper clips and batteries and gadgets somewhere, you just can’t find it amongst all the clutter.

The same holds true for kids learning science. For instance, if a child learns a little something about the earth and the moon and how the shadow of our planet can cause a lunar eclipse, that’s an interesting, but random, fact. You might also have taught your child some astronomy concepts and explained how the moon affects the ocean’s tides. Perhaps your child has also learned something about gravity and the moon’s gravitational pull. But if you are using many mainstream homeschool science curricula, those facts were never pulled together to show the student how the moon is at the core of all these facts and they are interrelated. That’s why it’s so difficult for many kids (and adults alike!) to make the leap between one science fact and how it impacts so many other areas of the world around us. This also makes it very hard to extract a random fact later because the child must rely on rote learning.

The Whole Science Teaching Approach

A better, more effective way to teach homeschool science is through an exponential approach. By helping kids make their own connection between subjects, they are much better equipped to draw broader conclusions. This is also a great way to encourage their natural curiosity and develop hands-on experimentation that offers exciting new discoveries in the child’s mind.

The whole science homeschool teaching approach is all about extrapolation. Once your student has assimilated some core concepts they are prepared to expand that knowledge and apply it to different, everyday situations.

For instance, let’s go back to that random fact about the moon’s gravitational pull on earth. That’s a physic concepts and that explains much about a lunar eclipse, which is a topic generally brought up in astronomy. Those same gravitational forces are at work when it comes to oceanic tide cycles, a topic that may be part of biology learning. By painting the bigger picture, a student can connect the dots between physics and astronomy and biology herself and become excited about learning more.

This approach also compartmentalizes and organizes bits of information so they can easily be retrieved at will and on demand. And it aids the homeschool science teacher, who often doesn’t understand the information herself, present complex concepts and help the student come to a conclusion that need not be foregone.

When it comes to teaching a difficult subject such as science, the homeschool teacher would be wise to use a whole science approach rather than relying on a random fact methodology.

Homeschool Laws

Homeschooling is permissible in all the states, however, there are different laws governing the process to safeguard children’s future and interests. 20% of the states do not have any laws and are free from any liabilities to contact the local officials. A majority of other states simply require local officials to be notified of the process. However, in a select few states, parents and children are subjected to varying assessment of their capabilities and progress to ensure the child’s development. Here are some homeschool laws that you need to bear in mind before attempting to homeschool your child.

Homeschool Options

There are different homeschool laws in different states. In some states, the parents can homeschool their child under a homeschool stature. In others, they come under private laws. Different states also allow umbrella schools and private tutors to homeschool the child. Furthermore, some states have diverse packages and options for a highly customizable homeschooling plan to offer the best solution to both children and parents.

Notification

Certain states require parents to notify government officials of the homeschooling plan or package. In other states, the homeschool law is different and parents are thoroughly assessed before being permitted to homeschool their child. Still, other states are different and require no notification procedure at all. Hence, the state also determines the type of homeschool law prevailing in the area and the laws that every parent will abide to.

Parent Qualifications

Naturally, you need to have a decent education yourself in order to be able to teach your child. Where it is not as important to prove your education in most states, certain states have homeschool laws in place that require parents to have high school diploma or GED to be eligible to homeschool their children.

Subjects

Moving on, certain states have even more thorough rules and regulations. They require children to have certain necessary subjects in their course. Also, they require that parents give their children a certain amount of time on a daily basis and can even provide instruction manuals for parents to follow. This allows states to ensure that every child is provided with fundamental knowledge, even if they are homeschooled.

Assessment

About half of the states have academic assessments that assess the progress of your child. This is only to ensure that your child is progressing. However, many states don’t have strict regulations and allow parents to bypass any such requirements. Also, many states don’t need a passing score for the academic performance of your child and can accept homeschool certifications, created by the parents themselves.

Clearly, there are different homeschool laws for different states. You would do well to have a look at all these different rules and regulations before attempting to homeschool your child. Having good knowledge of all these different laws will help guide your homeschooling accordingly. Plus, it will also help avoid many complications later on.

Homeschool: Teaching Older Children About Business

One of the mental challenges of homeschooling is the process of taking complete and total ownership of your child’s education. It can be quite a burden to break out of the molds that society would label “education”. The beauty of homeschooling is that you as the parent/educator is that you can weave your child’s passions, interests, and abilities into the subjects you bring to the table.

  • Why wouldn’t I take the time to teach my children something they want to learn, something they see value in, and sneak in a few “educational lessons” along the way.

I currently am teaching 3 of my children how to build an online business. I have their complete and total attention because they are very motivated by the fact that they believe they have something to offer people online. The bonus is that because they believe they can make a few dollars, I have their undivided attention.

  • The same way that we might puree carrots and squash to add to a sauce and sneak in nutrition, I sneak my core goals into everything I teach my kids as we research and pursue their passions.

As I teach the process of brainstorming and running toward an online business, I am able to teach many “academic” subjects, masquerading in the interests of my kids.

  • Math is easy to sneak in. For business, they need to know and practice statistics, math, and accounting.
  • Language is covered in every part of these projects in the form of content, marketing, and research.

I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to better prepare my young men for this new and crazy world. My oldest son is a sophomore in college and we are constantly discussing his future, his career choices and the fact that what he does today profoundly impacts his tomorrow. He is well on his way to earning his degree and reaching his lifelong dream of being a history professor, but he has dreams or being a business owner.

So why build an online business with him?

  • Because I can.
  • Because I am learning the processes myself and am very excited about my own progress.
  • My enthusiasm is contagious.

I believe this is the perfect time in history to teach our children more than their ABC’s and 1,2,3’s. Technology was basically birthed into these young sponges. They are bored with traditional educational processes, because everything they need to know is at the tips of their fingers or on their smart devices.

Find what your children are passionate about and wrap their education like a learning burrito.

Ask your kids if they are interested in learning something like building an online business. If you do not know how, learn the process together.

The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook – A Must For Homeschoolers

Parents deciding to homeschool their children often experience some anxiety about making this important decision. This is quite understandable, considering homeschooling is life-changing–for parents and children alike.

If you have thought about homeschooling without making a commitment yet, or if you are already homeschooling with a desire for greater excellence in your children’s education, Dorothy and Raymond Moore’s book, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook: A creative and stress-free approach to homeschooling may be the resource you need.

I offer this brief review of a book that offers extensive advice with foundational research to parents who are already homeschooling, and those who are considering homeschooling. The information contained within this volume offers sage wisdom lighting the path to successful homeschooling for all families.

Success or stress?

Moore and Moore start off their book by addressing the issue of stress in schooling at home. The truth is, teaching a child at any age or grade level is incredibly challenging. This is even truer when your own child becomes your student, and you their teacher.

Although the public school system may not be ideal for your family, you must give much consideration to the reality that you will become a teacher. Just as certified teachers holding a college degree are required to constantly update their skills and qualifications to teach students in the public sector, it is as equally (if not more) important that you do the same.

Reducing and eliminating stress.

Homeschooling can absolutely be a success in your family. However, it can create a tremendous load of stress, too. It is important to be aware of this and be prepared to deal with it productively.

To maintain a healthy homeschool, there are a myriad of aspects, some of which have a tendency to be overlooked by homeschooling parents. This oversight or avoidance leads to stress. A few areas Moore and Moore discuss include (along with many others) standardized testing, socializing your children, and organization.

Tried and true.

Moore and Moore conclude their research and insight with two final parts in their book that provide encouragement and advice from fellow homeschooling families. These two sections offer wisdom from parents who have “been there, done that” in the world of homeschooling. These personal stories show just how successful and rewarding homeschooling can be for any family. Finally, the Moores close with their own offering of knowledge to help encourage parents, as well as additional information on the history of learning at home.

8 Simple Tips For Selecting The Best Homeschool Writing Curriculum

When I was an English teacher, curriculum planning was a breeze. The curriculum committee at the school district decided what learning materials were appropriate for the students in my classroom. At the beginning of the semester, everything I needed was delivered to me in a large, heavy box.

With the help of the dense-packed teacher’s manual and numerous ancillary materials, I was able to create daily lesson plans with little difficulty. But for most homeschool parents, the curriculum planning process is seldom so straightforward.

Because writing is a foundational academic skill, many homeschool parents place special emphasis on selecting an appropriate homeschool writing curriculum for their children. But with so many options, finding the best homeschool writing curriculum can seem like a formidable task.

As a foster parent, I’ve investigated a variety of homeschool writing curriculum options for the child currently in my care. Here are some guidelines to make the decision-making process a little easier for you and your family:

1. Build your homeschool writing curriculum from any item or opportunity to help you teach writing. This includes activities as simple as writing poems or song lyrics. Young children especially are natural poets. Inspiration to write poetry can be found anywhere. Reading some children’s poetry books can help stimulate the creative process.

2. Since writing is a fundamental skill, buy your homeschool writing curriculum first. To keep from being overwhelmed by all of the options in the marketplace, read reviews online and talk with other homeschoolers about their experiences with the curriculum.

3. Because writing covers a broad range of topics, some families buy more curriculum than they actually need. This problem can contribute to impulse spending, as some parents fear they won’t do a good job unless they have all their bases covered.

4. Not all homeschool writing curriculum needs to be purchased. Library books can be used for teaching literature, and you can share books with other homeschoolers.

5. Keep your own personality and needs in mind when considering a purchase. Some writing programs, such as those published by Bob Jones University Press, require active planning and participation by parents while other programs, such as Houghton Mifflin English Curriculum, tend to be self-directed and require less parental involvement.

6. Keep your child’s personality and needs in mind as well. A child lacking motivation to write would not be engaged by a traditional homeschool writing curriculum emphasizing grammatical rules and formal language structure. A better option might be a workbook that’s fun and breaks the writing process down into manageable sections.

Many students enjoy the sense of accomplishment they feel when they complete a writing workbook. These positive feelings can carry over into their next writing workbook. You can also supplement any written work with oral assignments.

7. If you don’t like writing, or if you prefer to have everything organized and planned out, consider using a traditional textbook and teacher’s manual. Although this option is more expensive, you’ll benefit from having expert guidance to take you step-by step through each concept.

Teacher’s manuals also assist parents with evaluating their children’s written work. Some include extra printable worksheets and other instructional materials on CDs.

8. Above all else, remember that teachers teach, books don’t. The actual amount of learning that occurs depends largely on the quality of interaction between you and your child.