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Homeschooling in the Great Outdoors

I don’t know about you, but my family and I love spending time in the great outdoors. We camp a few times a year. And by camping, I don’t mean camper and electricity. I mean pitching a tent and really camping. Why? Because there is SO much that can be learned by spending time in the great outdoors.

One may even call it homeschooling?

Don’t believe me? Take a look!

Life, survival, and cooking skills

Camping allows us all to learn many things that can carry on for the rest of our lives. Things like cooking over an open fire or using a camp stove. Knowing multiple ways to start a fire and then put one out. Storing food safely outdoors is important to keep critters away. How do you pitch a tent and take one down? What about keeping hands clean when there’s now running water or staying warm without electricity?  These are all things one can learn while camping.

 Botany

Take along some books on plants and leaves and see how many your kids can collect and identify.  Which plants can you eat? Which plants do you avoid? These lessons can be learned in the woods while camping.

Hiking and Mapping

While camping you can teach your kids how to use a compass while taking a hike in the woods. Along the way you can show them how to follow a map (if the trail has one) or you can teach them to read the campground map.  Show them how to not get lost while hiking, or even how to find your way back if you do get lost. These are all important skills that many kids now a days don’t know.

Have you tried homeschooling in the great outdoors? Getting outside and enjoying nature is a great way to learn. Try camping this month and homeschool in the great outdoors!

Stargazing

Have you ever looked at a night sky without all the hustle and bustle of the city or the sounds of neighboring houses? You can do this while camping. Find the Big Dipper and the North Star. See what other constellations are out there. Kids love this and it’s not something that you can always do in your own back yard.

Contentment

Food, water, shelter. Really that’s all one needs right? Camping helps you learn that you really need very little to survive. After spending a few days roughing it outdoors everyone will be happy to have the comforts of home.

In addition to the above kids can also learn while fishing, they can bird watch, play in the creek and learn about rocks (Geology), they can find animal tracks, identify critters they see along the way and much more.

Camping is an affordable, fun and memorable vacation opportunity for many families. So, head out there this month and take advantage of the many things you and your family can learn while camping! And while you’re at it call it school ;)   


Misty Bailey is a work at home homeschool, mom.  She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

Internet Safety Tips for Teens and Tweens

If asked, every parent would say they want to keep their kids safe online. However, statistics have shown that children are more and more at risk online than ever before. Teens and tweens are more at risk than any other age due to the fact they have increased independence, and are more likely to seek out relationships online.

So, what is the secret to keeping our teens and tweens safe online? Educating our children about the dangers online can be done a few simple ways. Here are a few internet safety tips for teens and tweens.

 Teach The Important Things!

Teach your kids the important things! Here are a few things you want to make sure your kids know:

  • Never share passwords with anyone that you and your parents haven’t agreed on.
  • Don’t purchase anything online (even free items) without parental permission
  • Never share addresses, birthdates or other personal information online.
  • Don’t open documents or files from people you do not know. This includes pop-ups and email.
  • Show your older children how to check the privacy policy on games and apps. They may be surprised to see what information is being shared with the developer of the purchase.

Communicate Often!

  • These conversations can happen anywhere and must happen often! Share teachable moments when issues of online scamming and identity theft come up on the news. Share what could have been done to prevent the crime.
  • Be available for your children on a regular basis. Create an open door that allows your children to come to you when they have done something wrong.
  • Continue these conversations regularly. Online safety is not a one-time conversation. Studies have found that 93% of parents have talked to their teens about online safety, but only 61% of teens say they have had this discussion.

As parents we need to do our best to educate our children about how to stay safe online. These internet safety tips for teens and tweens can help us do just that!

Be Cautious!

  • One of the most important tips we can teach our children is to be cautious. If our children are aware of the dangers out there, they can be taught to think twice before falling for a scam.
  • Teach your kids to trust their instincts. If something feels uncomfortable it probably isn’t right.
  • Make sure they know to NOT meet individuals they have met online in person without a parents’ permission. Explain the dangers of online predators in a way that won’t scare your tweens and teens but that will make them aware that there are dangers out there.

Our children are growing up in a world full of technology. This opens up a whole new world for our kids but also a world full of dangers.   As parents, we need to do our best to educate our children about how to stay safe online. These internet safety tips for teens and tweens can help us do just that!


Misty Bailey is a Christian wife and work at home homeschool mom. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio.  She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.  You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

4 Great Writing Programs

When I began homeschooling I researched tons of curriculum. Language arts, math, science, you name it, I researched it.  We found curriculum we liked and began our homeschool journey. Fast forward a few years and we are still homeschooling, and still using some great curriculum.

But, I missed something. In all my researching, in all my teaching, there was an important area of homeschooling that I missed. What was it?

WRITING

I didn’t even realize I had missed it until my daughter took a creative writing course in 4H. At that point I realized how lacking her writing skills were.  You see, I had assumed that the basics would be taught in her Language Arts course. I assumed she would just “know” how to write.

But… I was wrong. So, I began researching writing programs. I began gathering up information that would help me make the right choice when it came to a writing program for my children.

What to Look For in a Writing Program

When looking for a writing program I knew what I wanted, and I believe no matter who you are you are going to want these things out of a writing program.

  • The first was that it offered step by step instruction and clear directions. Both for me and my children.
  • I wanted to be able to use the program for multiple children with different learning styles
  • Does the program lay a good foundation?
  • Is the building process taught?
  • Is it fun for kids and not just busy work?
  • Is self-editing taught?

I found four writing programs that consistently received great reviews, met my list requirements and seemed to turn out happy customers.

Looking for a writing program for your homeschool? Here is some great information that can help you make the right writing program choice for your children.

Write Shop

Write shop is a program that not only teaches your children how to write but teaches YOU how to TEACH writing.  It helps introduce and review the building blocks of the writing process. Write shop offers programs for all grades from Kindergarten through high school.

Essentials in Writing

Essentials in Writing is a video based homeschool writing and grammar curriculum. Students will learn how to communicate with readers through written language and become confident writers. This is great for those looking for an independent program, or those who struggle teaching grammar and writing.

Institute for Excellence in Writing

IEW users say the program is easy to use, and provides step by step instruction. Children enjoy going through the program and have fun while writing. The program is flexible and spans a wide variety of ages.

Brave Writer 

Brave Writer expresses that their goal is designed to enhance the parent-child relationship through the teaching of writing and for writing to become a safe playground instead of an intimidating foreign country. Brave Writer does this through products and classes that lead you through all the steps from thought–origination to published writing.

If your homeschool child has not been through a formal writing program I highly recommend any of the above programs. When choosing a program for your child it is important to look through reviews, examine the curriculum, and see how or if it will meet your child’s needs. I am confident that at least one of these great writing curriculums will work for you and your child.


Author Bio: Misty Bailey is the wife to Roger, and mom to three active kids.  She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

What to Teach in Middle School

Homeschooling middle school is a time of transition for the homeschool mom and the student. It is a time of more responsibility, fewer hands-on cutesy stuff, and more independent learning. Last week we talked about homeschooling middle school and what we can do to prepare. This week we are going to discuss what to teach in middle school.

Here is a list of what your child needs to learn by the end of Middle School. This week we are focusing on Language Arts and Mathematics.

How to Teach Language Arts 

Middle school children study reading in a variety of ways. At this age, they will read many different types of material including poetry, plays, literature, nonfiction books, newspapers, and more.  In writing, they will learn how to organize their ideas, use and analyze information from different resources and hone in on their grammar.

This is the age when many parents quit reading aloud to their children; however, teachers in schools have found that reading aloud to students can help. How? It is teaching the reading fluency, comprehension skills, and the process of reading. Here are a few things your child will need to know in middle school language arts.

  • Figure out the theme of something they read and support their answers with evidence from the text.
  • Compare poems, stories, and historical novels, explaining the plot of each and how the characters react to the action.
  • Use a number of reading strategies to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words.
  • Learn both the figurative and implied meaning of words and phrases.
  • Identify specific claims or arguments in reading materials and decide how valid they are.
  • Write arguments or opinion papers using clear reasoning and supportive facts.
  • Write for longer periods of time for a number of different tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • Participate in class discussions and do short research projects using many sources to answer a specific question.

 Middle school! Preparing for high school can be overwhelming. Wondering what to teach in middle school? Here are a few basic concepts that need to be taught in middle school.

 How to Teach Mathematics

Homeschooling Middle School Math is a topic that many homeschool parents fear.  At this age, many students are studying math that is beyond the capability of their parents. Think about it, do you remember algebra? Ratios? Exponents? This is the time when parents need to make sure they have a solid math curriculum. A few to consider are Math U See, Saxon Math, Teaching Textbooks and Khan Academy. Here are a few things your middle schooler will need to know in middle school.

  • Understand concepts of ratios and unit rates, and use the correct language to talk about them (such as the ratio of ears to noses in a class of kids is 2 to 1, because for every 2 ears there is 1 nose).
  • Use multiplication and division concepts to divide fractions and multi-digit decimals.
  • Understand that you can find positive and negative numbers on opposite sides of 0 on a number line. Know that the number 2, for example, is the same number of spaces to the right as ?2 is to the left of 0.
  • Use number pairs to find a point on a graph.
  • Use the properties of operations to solve problems, including those of area and volume. (For example, know that 2 (5 + x) is the same as 10 + 2x.)
  • Understand that solving a problem with a symbol is asking “what number does this symbol stand for to make the problem correct?” (In order for 2 + x= 10 to be right, x has to equal 8.)
  • Understand that assigning different values to independent variables affects the value of dependent variables. (In the equation y= 3x – 2, the value of y depends on the value assigned to x.)

These are a few areas to focus on teaching in middle school. Language arts and mathematics aren’t the only subjects you will be teaching in middle school though.  Head over to part three to take a look at teaching middle school history, science, health and even the dreaded S word (social skills!).


Author Bio: Misty Bailey and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

 

Oh the Places You’ll Learn! Five Tips to Organizing Your Homeschool

Oh, the bane of our existence! OR the cause of swoon – worthy ogling of Staples’s shelves! Whether your mantra is “I know it’s here somewhere” or you’re an everything-in-its-place, color coded planner junkie, one thing’s clear: In order to manage an effective homeschool, maintaining a sense of order is key. Here are a few practical ways to preside over your family’s educational and extracurricular lives while keeping clutter and paperwork at bay.

You need a plan

Kudos if you’ve already got a system in place!  For those of you who don’t, you’ll be surprised at how very helpful  a  planner, calendar and/ or a  checklist system is, once you establish what feels natural to you. For littles, a weekly chore chart system, complete with large pictures and easily checked- off boxes works well AND incorporates the kids pitching in with house work. For the older set, a color coded dry erase monthly calendar in a highly trafficked area has proven its efficiency many times in our family. A quick glance at the shelves of any office supply mega store and you’ll be in heaven plotting out who-gets-what-color on the weekly or monthly family calendar! Since I’m a huge planner devotee, I  also carry a pocket organizer in my bag. The boxes on the calendar are just big enough to jot down everyone’s commitments. If you’re more into scheduling digitally, there are many apps to add to your phone that will keep your family’s appointments and deadlines in one place. Streamlining is vital, regardless as to the tool you use.

You need records

Test records,  children’s portfolios,  year to year files, that is. Have a space in a file drawer or magazine holder  for your school year and your long-term records and plans. Depending on what your state requires, you may need to save portfolios or grade level files for longer than the school year. Be sure to have a designated space for this. And consider saving reports you’ve sent to your district in digital form in more than one file in case of computer error.

You need a command center

Do you regularly have to go somewhere else to get what you need to accomplish? Or, worse yet, are you hunting down a workbook, bill, art supply or calculator?  Ask yourself if items can be stored closer at hand, or if it would be practical to have  duplicate items kept at the task location.

You need to simplify housework

Declutter and free yourself from “stuff.” That chore chart  system?  Let it help you  narrow down  household routines or stop you from getting off-task in your housework.

Streamline the kitchen. Gain counter and drawer space by paring down the number of gadgets you own and don’t – or rarely  – use. Get rid of extra cookbooks that haven’t seen the light of day since Christmas 1995. Throw out  that horrid assortment of fake-Tupperware and purchase  a few matching sets that stack and match. (I bought several at the Dollar Tree for a super minimal investment! ) Make your kitchen kid-friendly. If you want them to fix their own breakfast, put the cereal or other breakfast items where they can reach them.

Do you struggle with organizing your homeschool? Here are 5 tips to help you whip your homeschool space into shape!

You need to whip your homeschool room into shape

Wow, there are so many fun ways to do this! At a very low cost, you can purchase colorful and practical crates, bins, magnets, dividers, stands, racks, pins, plastic page protectors, binders, magazine holders and more!  Tackle  paperwork now instead of later. We homeschool moms have a herculean task managing paper. Have one location for library books  such as a labeled library basket. Remind the children to always return books/videos to that location. Tape to the basket a list of the library materials your family has checked out to be sure you have all the books upon your return trip. Give each child his/her labeled book basket which will contain texts, workbooks, papers and supplies as well. Teach the children to manage their paperwork. And regularly  walk them through the purging/organizing process. As for your home library? Alphabetize your fiction, categorize your history by era and your science by topic. At one point, we owned  just over 6,000 books. Your family may scoff at the “unnecessary” time you are “making” them  spend on categorizing. But they’ll come to realize it’s essential when someone is looking for The Red Badge of Courage or Washington’s farewell address or animal skeletal systems and voila! Found immediately!

There’s not a magic formula to manage your home and your homeschool. Organization is individualistic and creative and   just one way to help us function efficiently. I wish you many “a-ha” moments when you find what works well for you and your home!


Author: Chris Capolino

A bit about me?   Wife, mom, writer, teacher, traveler, party giver, encourager.  I’m a freelance writer who contributes  to a variety of digital and print media. And   I love blogging  all things family,  faith, travel,  homeschool, crafts at  my home on the web, Campfires and Cleats

If you’d  like to contact me, you can do that right here~ campfiresandcleats@gmail.com.

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