How to Evaluate Your School Year

calendar-660670_150

I don’t know about you, but we are almost through the school year. Yay! At the end of the school year it is a good idea to evaluate what worked, and what didn’t.

Here are three questions to ask yourself at the end of the school year. These questions will help you evaluate your school year, let you get a good idea of how it went, and what changes you may need to make.

  1. Are the kids enjoying school? Yes, homeschooling is still school and can’t always be fun, but are your kids enjoying themselves? At all? If not then you may need to talk to them and revaluate how your school year is going. If they are then woohoo! Keep on keeping on J .
  2. How is your routine? Are the days all the same length? Are some days longer or shorter than others? Take a look at your routine and see if any changes need to be made. We had the same school schedule for years, and I had NO intentions on changing it. Until. I had too. I realized that something with my routine was no longer working for my older children, so we tweaked it and things have been going much smoother. Routines are made to add structure to your day. They are not made to be a slave too. So, make your routine work for you if something seems off.
  3. How is the curriculum working? Do you love your curriculum? Do the kids enjoy it? If not, now is the perfect time to evaluate what is and isn’t working with the curriculum. Maybe look online, or ask a friend if you can try out something they have. Don’t purchase anything else without looking at it in person. You may be surprised that what you have isn’t that bad, or you may fall in love with something new. Once you have seen it, and maybe tried it out, make the purchase!

Semester revaluations are great for finding what is working and what is not working in your homeschool. It is a time to evaluate your day, your student’s enjoyment, and your curriculum. Don’t feel obligated to keep on the same way if something’s not working, try something new and start your next year off fresh!

Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. 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. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

 

Interest Led Learning

fishing-453296_640

 

I have three kids, and each one has something they are passionate about! Unfortunately they are all passionate about different things, meaning this mom is pulled in three different directions ;)

As parents it doesn’t take llong to realize how different our kids are. They all have their own interests, their own style, and their own attention spans. One may love Math, the other may hate it! One may learn to read at 5, the other not till 7. There is not one perfect way for our children to learn. However, find something that interests your child, and they will make sure they LEARN more about it.  Children learn best by learning about what interests them. This is why interest led learning is so important in our homeschools.

With interest led learning a child can find something he loves and go and LEARN about it. Here is an example: Let’s say your child has a desire to know more about dinosaurs. So, you take him to the library and get tons of books (real books, not textbooks) and you come home and read them together, or if your child is a reader he reads them.  Then, you go on line and find a really neat Science experiment related to dinosaurs. You may make a dinosaur habitat filled with plastic dinosaurs, water, mountains and maybe even a volcano (which you later “erupt). Your child has learned Science, History, Vocabulary, Reading and maybe even some Math all while studying his own interests. This was all done with little to know real “teaching” from the home school parent. Instead your child was able to tap into their personal passion and study it.

Have you ever really wanted to learn something? How did you learn it? Did you take a class? Get a book? Look it up on the web? Once you set your mind to learn it you probably did it right? You found something you were interested in and you went for it! The same can be said for our children. Learning does not come from reading and taking a test. It comes from finding something you are interested in or passionate about and feeding that desire to learn. Testing, or telling a child what they have to know squelches that desire.

Homeschool parents, as we plan for next school year, let’s remember to take the time and ask our children what THEY want to learn next school year. Make plans to study something that interests your child. By doing this you will be giving them the opportunity to pursue their interests.  You will be allowing them to learn because they want to, in turn helping them develop an internal satisfaction for learning. This will last a child a lifetime! And cannot be taught.

Over Twelve Great Family Read a Louds

Family Read a louds

Do you want to make sure your child gets the best education they can? Do you want to ensure that your child has a head start in academics? If so, then the most important thing you can do for your child is read to them!

A study completed years ago title, “Becoming a Nation of Readers” found that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success is reading”. Research has also found that reading is an accrued skill. Meaning that the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Reading to a child at a young age encourages them to read later in life. It becomes a habit, it is engrained in them, and honestly it helps them to develop a love of literature.

So, what are the best read a louds for families? Here are a few of my favorites!

  1. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  2. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  3. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
  4. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  7. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  8. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  9. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
  10. Stuart Little by A.A. Milne
  11. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  12. Paddington by Michael Bond

These are just a few of some of our families favorite read a louds!

 

 

Homeschooling a Gifted Child

Homeschooling a Gifted Child

Is your homeschool child gifted? Most of us will say that all children have a gift. God gives each of us our own gift to use. But I’m talking about academically gifted. A gifted child may be very observant, curious and have excellent reasoning and problem solving skills. Socially, a gifted child will relate well with adults, may be oversensitive, a perfectionist and highly energetic. A gifted child may have an extensive vocabulary, be an early reader, and ask lots of questions. These are just a few traits of a gifted child. To read more, check out this site.

If you have a gifted child, you may be concerned that public school isn’t challenging enough for him. Many schools offer advanced classes, but sometimes it is not enough. Homeschooling a gifted child can seem overwhelming, and like a daunting task. How can you challenge him? How can you teach him? Here are some tips to help if you are interested in homeschooling a gifted child.

Know the Expectations for Grade Level

Most homeschool parents don’t worry about the grade on the front of the textbook, and that is fine. But, with a gifted child they may work 2-3 grade levels ahead. This could lead to not learning material necessary at a certain grade level. It is a good idea to have some sort of idea what is typically covered in a school year. Rebecca Rupp Learning year by Year is a great resource to have when it comes to knowing the expectations for each grade.

Recognize the Benefits of Homeschooling

For your gifted child, homeschooling can be a wonderful opportunity. The question “why” comes up a lot in a gifted child. The fact that they want to know “more” all the time can be seen as exhausting sometimes. However, with homeschooling your child has the opportunity to work at his own pace, to find out the answer “why” to all of his “more” requests. Through books, observations, experiments, and study the gifted child can be challenged, and will have the time and opportunity to learn as they go, without grade level limitations.

Recognize the Challenges

There are going to be challenges when it comes to homeschooling your gifted child, but don’t let that scare you! There are many resources available for homeschool parents of gifted children. Check out this link for some tips for curriculum, and a great list of support groups for families of gifted children.

Misty Bailey 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. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

Homeschooling Multiple Grades

Homeschool Multiple Ages

When I first began homeschooling, I was terrified about homeschooling multiple grades. My middle (at that time my youngest) was only two, but the thought of her being in preschool and teaching my oldest at the same time made me cringe. Looking back, I can laugh because I know that preschool isn’t difficult, and teaching Kindergarten is nothing like teaching 4th grade but at the time, it really stressed me out!

As a homeschool parent I am sure at some time you will be homeschooling multiple grades. Teaching more than one grade does not have to be stressful. There are resources and curriculums out there that can help you as well as tips from those who have been homeschooling multiple grades for years.

When it comes to homeschooling multiple grades, the first thing you are going to want to do is combine your children for as many subjects as possible. Bible, History, and Science can all be taught together as a family. Curriculum like My Fathers World, Mystery of History and Apologia are geared towards homeschooling multiple grades and can make it easier to combine your children.

Another popular method for homeschooling multiple grades is unit studies. Unit studies are fairly teacher intensive but can be done rather inexpensively. A unit study is where you learn about one topic for a set amount of time. An example may be horses. You can teach the history of horses, the anatomy of horses, read books about horses, and watch documentaries about horses. The older children would study the topic more in-depth, while the younger children got a basic overview.

Another thing to consider when homeschooling multiple grades is the level of teacher prep work and cost. Purchasing curriculum that has the planning already done for you will require a lot less prep work then creating your own unit study.  However, prepackaged curriculum will be pricier than making your own. Weigh your options and choose the method that will work best for your family.

Two subjects where you would want to keep your children separate are Math and Language Arts. If you have multiple children, it may be a good idea to purchase curriculum where the children can work on these subjects as independently as possible. Many parents enjoy computer-based curriculums like Teaching Textbooks or Switched on Schoolhouse. There are workbook-based options like Alpha Omega Publications and Christian Light Education that are also fairly independent.  I have found having my children work on these subjects at the same time helps me teach multiple grades. I can go back and forth between them as they need me and both are focused on the same topic.

Homeschooling multiple grades may take a little bit of preplanning but seeing your children work and learn together is worth the hard work. I have also been amazed through the years how much the younger ones pick up on while learning alongside their older siblings. For more information about homeschooling multiple grades as well as help for scheduling your day I recommend this article from Fruitful Families.

Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. 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. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.