Category Archives: Homeschooling Help

Memorization & Learning Fun

Mom with two children learning

Flash card drills.  Math fact tables.   Do they matter?  With so much to learn is it really necessary to drill the same things over and over again?  Well, opinions may vary but I would give a whole-hearted, YES!  Simply put, fact mastery makes all the higher level learning smoother.  While math is the obvious focal point for memorization, it is useful in every discipline:  bible verses, grammar rules, science tables and more.

Education from Kindergarten through graduation involves incremental learning.  In many ways, each year is a review of the previous year with exciting expansions in content and application.  Understanding the basic system encourages us to instill deep learning in our students.  Rote memorization is a foundational tool that allows us to build a terrific academic structure.  Now that offers motivation for we teachers, but how do we keep our students attentive and interested?

Learning through play is definitely one possibility.  Wonderful books on incorporating games into learning sit in the library waiting to share their secrets.  Hopscotch math was a favorite when our children were young.  Rolling over-sized diced to get the numbers and hopping out the math fact made for laughter and learning.  Old-fashioned board games, hand-held math fact timers and computer programs with spaceships offer diverse ways to prevent boredom in learning.  Instilling a love for learning begins with fun in learning.  Get all the senses involved as often as possible and get their bodies moving!

Music is a definite aid.  Put facts to music or rhyme.  Teach silly acrostics to help memorize disconnected pieces of information.  ROY G BIV and “My Very Educated Mom Just Taught Us about Neptune” are nonsense words that keep great information accessible. Clapping or other rhythmic motion may keep the attention of a very kinesthetic learner.  Very young children have learned the entire genealogy of Christ by putting it to song.  The power of music and movement is a great asset in learning. Use the things that speak to your student’s heart and help them take nuggets of knowledge deep into their minds.

Finally, grab every teaching opportunity!  Life is learning.  Opportunities to practice math facts at the grocery store begin with counting tomatoes in the package and progress to unit pricing and family budgets.  Calculating the miles per gallon of gas and the cost for every trip to Wal-Mart may just change your own spending habits—while your student practices multiplication and division.  Reading grocery labels, learning new words…even foreign words is possible on nearly every trip.  Listen to the interests of your students and look for lessons in those arenas. 

As home school parents, we have the potential to design curriculum that fits the hearts of our students.  It is a high and holy privilege.  Use the opportunities life presents, use the personality and preferences in your home…and enjoy the learning adventure!

Writing Encouragements

Two Girls Writing Papers

Writing does not have to be a chore–although our students often think it is. Reliance on spell-check and electronic communication is a reality–but not a full-time necessity.  Pulling in some creative, fun projects is an easy thing to do!  If you are careful in the presentation, they might not even know they are ‘doing school.‘ 

Children especially love to receive notes and cards.  Pen pals are an old-fashioned idea with great potential.  Explore a foreign country and culture by locating a pen pal online.  Encourage a bit of history learning with ‘interview’ letters to aged family members (or friends).  Very young children who are learning to read and write will enjoy exchanging notes with you!  A little mailbox created for a doorway is a great way to encourage reading and writing.  Leave a note each day for one another.  If you have a particularly artistic student, taking the handwriting challenge up a level to calligraphy cards may appeal sometimes.  Other times, cards made with cut-out letters are a way to keep the writing projects fresh and fun.

A favorite writing project in our past was called “Thankful Thursday.”  Each week the children chose someone to send a card to and tell them they were thankful for something about that person.   The recipients were pleasantly surprised and the children practiced penmanship, grammar and kindness!

As the children grow in ability, cards can grow into longer projects.  Stories sometimes simply flow from their hearts and pencils.  You will enjoy the illustrations as much as the stories!  A journal that is not corrected for grammar is a useful tool.  Simply writing helps the children know they can write.  Grammar and punctuation can wait for the curriculum if you choose.  As stories and projects increase in size, the logic of utilizing computers enters the picture.  (Cards and letters do not have to leave the picture though!)

Online writing contests and forums are a great motivation when the natural desire to tell stories begins to wane.  Competitions, passion-specific projects (e.g. Mustang Horses) and writing websites are tools to keep our children learning to communicate.  Even in a world of texting, the ability to string sentences together remains a priority and hand-written notes are a treasure easily given.

Beginning Homeschooling

Mom with Laptop Beginning Homeschooling

Are you wondering if homeschooling might be the lifestyle for your family? Does the appeal of nurturing the flames of learning in your child, speak loudly to you? Maybe the frustration of seeing your child’s special gifts (or needs) being overlooked edges you toward the leap of home education. The speakers of Homeschooling 101 bring years of experience to bear on all of your questions. Answering those heart-wearying questions about socialization, patience and how-to opens the conference day. Understanding curriculum options, nurturing preschoolers into a lifetime love of learning and accepting your limitations are all part of the day.

Homeschooling for Excellence 101 helps questioning parents flesh out a plan for their family. In a small group, personal setting questions and concerns are answered by experienced homeschooling mothers. Children ages four and up have a workshop option of their own: KidsZone. While you explore home education, your young ones will explore fun learning with folks who share a love of learning and children! The lifestyle of home education knits the hearts of families together in a very unique way. If you would like to know more about this incredible opportunity for education, make time to attend the Homeschooling 101 conference at the Homeschool Expo! This one-day conference takes place one day before the Expo and provides admission for the entire Expo weekend.

A Vision for Homeschooling

Homeschool vision

 Do you have a “Vision” for your home school? It is important.  Vision draws us forward when life bogs us down.  Every home school parent knows there are tough days that sometimes drag into tough weeks.  Vision is the Light that will beckon in the wearying seasons.  In fact, a right Vision becomes a Legacy Light!  Do you remember singing this song with your children? 

“Be careful little eyes what you see,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.”

The beauty of teaching young ones is that those lessons are the ones we often forget to practice ourselves.   Teaching is a great reminder to implement!  It is a pathetically simple truth that we see what we look at.  When we allow our eyes to be drawn to difficulties or shortcomings (in ourselves or others), our eyes become filled with the negativity. 

This life, this endeavor of intensive parenting we call home schooling, is an assignment that demands a vision.  Vision is sometimes defined as “a clear, concise and compelling picture of what the future can be.”  What is the vision you have for your children, for yourself, for your family?  Is it a God-given vision that trumpets out truth like Jeremiah 29:11? 

‘I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you hope.’?  

Or it is a vision infiltrated with personal striving and fear of failure? 

We struggle to remember that faith is the substance of what we do NOT see.  Sometimes as home educators, our eyes see only incomplete curriculum, hectic schedules and friction in our relationships.  The illusion of the ‘perfect’ home school family taunts us with our imperfections.  Those are the times we need to sing the childhood rhyme again and look to our Vision. 

The intensity of home school life gives us a great opportunity to model ‘eye placement. ‘As parents, when we diligently look toward God (instead of relying on our strengths or fearing our weaknesses), we teach a vital lesson to your children.  We teach–by example–the key to living victoriously is living in the Light of Christ.  Truly, there is no greater joy than having our children walk in Truth.  Keep your eyes on Truth!

Feeling Bogged Down? Refuse It!

The school year is whipping by and worries about progress sometimes cloud homeschooling skies at this point. It does not need to be that way. As home educators, we are accountable for our children’s education, but we must never forget, education is not all about the books. We teach children, not lessons. The academics of home education include a step-by-step process that requires discipline and diligence, but much more is learned along the way. Learning to persevere when a subject is hard (or just plain boring!) is a vital character lesson. While our children may argue that they will never use what they are learning (we said it, didn’t we?), we know they will encounter things in their future that will seem pointless too. Completing the task at hand is a valuable skill for life!

We must review our annual plans and evaluate progress toward completion, never let that be the engine of homeschooling. Monitoring progress allows us to see where more work may be needed or a schedule rearranged. It does not need to throw us into a pit of despair and fear. If you have never created a Mission Statement for your home education endeavor, let me encourage you to consider it. Vision is a great encouragement when the struggles and details of the homeschool year begin to drown us. As a family talk about what education means to you, discuss how the time together deepens your family bonds and teaches lessons public education cannot. Establish goals together and use the vision to pull you forward when you begin to feel bogged down. Home education is a lifestyle choice that builds children and families together. Enjoy it!