Heart of the Matter
Staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 4 Super Summer Learning Centers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 6 Falconry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 8 Water Games That Teach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 10 Backyard Summer Olympics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 12 A New Beginning: Homeschooling High School for Freaked Out & Terrified Parents . . . . Page 14
Autumn Treasures, A Free Unit Study Excerpt from Amanda Bennett . Page 17 Planning for Next School Year . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 22 Twenty Years in the Trenches: What I Learned from Two Decades of Homeschooling . . . . . . . . . Page 24 All About Spelling Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 28 Homeschool Science on the Web: Thinking Beyond Google . . . . . . . . Page 30 BreadClass.com Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 34 Making the Most of Fieldtrips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 36 Annual Planning and Goal Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 38 Study Skills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 40 Back to School Math Resolutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 43 Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 44 Heart of the Matter Online Conference Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 47 Heart of the Matter
Angela DeRossett - Co-Owner Angela is a married-to-the-military, mother of four chaotic kids. She is passionate about ministering to homeschooling families, disability rights, theology and coffee. Angela has a BAS in Christian Ministry and is currently working on her MA in Christian Education. She and her husband of fourteen years, Jason, have been homeschooling their kids for five years. Angela can be found, every once in a while, blogging at Living the Chaotic Life.
Amy Stults - Co-Owner Amy is a devoted wife to her husband of 12 years, a Classical homeschooling mom to an eight-year-old Ninja and the co-founder of Heart of the Matter. As a professional genealogist, Amy has a passion for helping others trace their family roots. Amy was a partner in founding the ministries A Woman Inspired Conferences, and Inspired Hearts Media.
Laura Delgado - Digital Magazine Copy Editor and Writer Laura has been married to her husband, Henry, for 14 years. She gave birth to four children in exactly 40 months, but cheated since the last two were twins. She now happily homeschools her 8,6, and two 4 year-olds. She earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rice University, but finds that she uses her undergraduate Great Books education far more in her homeschooling pursuits. In addition to writing for various homeschooling publications, she creates educational materials for edHelper. For homeschooling helps and curriculum reviews, please visit her blogs at Living as Martha and Salve Regina Homeschool.
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Robin Montoya - Digital Magazine Designer Robin is a California native, but her family relocated to Colorado in 2008. With her new Rocky Mountain backdrop, she continued the mission she began in 1996 to educate her children at home. After homeschooling traditionally for more than a decade, Robin stepped outside of her comfort zone and tried alternative methods for teaching. She wanted to share what she had learned through her homeschooling endeavors, so in April of 2010, she launched her website, Stone Soup Homeschool Resources.
Amy Fleeker - Director of Social Media Amy is a part of a great family that includes a husband of 12 years, 3 children, a dog and a cat. Her homeschooling style is eclectic with a emphasis on classical teaching. When with her family, you can find her watching movies, playing board games, and living life with a great sense of humor and knowing that God is all around. In her spare time she enjoys scrapbooking, tatting, crocheting and doing a little family history. You can visit Amy at her blog, Counting Change Again.
Pamela Swearingen - Director of Reviews Happily homeschooling in the beautiful Pacific Northwest for several years now. Pamelaâ€™s currently homeschooling her middle and high school aged kids and the lessons in their homeschool (and in life) are getting very exciting! Books, unit studies, notebooks, and nature journals are all part of their homeschooling week. She truly feels that God has blessed her family with the opportunity to homeschool and her goal is to inspire other families to homeschool greatness by pointing them in the direction of some really great books, resources and field trip ideas. Her homeschool reviews and suggestions can be found at Mustard Seed Homeschool and all of her non-homeschooling reviews are located at Mustard Seed Book Reviews.
By Cindy West Are you tired of hearing the words, “I’m Bored”? Are you looking for ways to actively engage your children in learning this summer without “doing school”? If you can answer yes to either of these questions, I have a great idea for you! Set up some summer learning centers.
I usually develop mine around a theme like science, nature study, history, a holiday, or an artist. I start by deciding on a topic, then I walk around the house looking for things to include in the center. Only rarely do I make a trip to the library or dollar store to supplement because the point isn’t for me to What are summer learning centers? They’re spend my entire summer planning more simply enticing displays you place around school lessons! Some of the things that have your house which will be irresistible, fun, and been part of our centers in the past include: full of unsolicited learning. Books Card games I generally have two or three center areas set Board games up around the house at any given time during the summer. They are changed every couple Craft kits of weeks to keep interests piqued. I might Art supplies place centers on a rarely-used tabletop, in a Science kits basket near the couch, on a dresser in my Science experiment books & supplies children’s bedroom, in a bucket on the back Puzzles porch, in a box near the tree house, or even Coloring books in a basket in the bathroom. My children Math manipulatives never know when or where a new center Listening CD’s or tapes might show up, which is part of the excitement! Fun worksheets Recipe books Just what might a summer learning center look like? Your imagination is your only limit! Handicraft how-to books and supplies P. 6
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Buckets of Building Supplies I won’t worry too much that the center covers everything there is to know about insects because the time spent is more about selfdirected discovery than fulfilling a checklist. After the kiddos go to bed, I’ll take a few minutes to prepare the display so it’s ready and waiting the next morning. As if they’ve found a gift on Christmas morning, my A few insect related books children will spend at least a few hours the An insect field guide following day immersed in the world of Some plastic insects and play dough (for insects. younger children) Some plastic insects and drawing Sometimes I choose to be involved in the materials (for older children) fun. Other times, I simply let them An insect themed nature notebooking “play”. Occasionally, the topic sparks such an page from the Internet interest that we end up right in the middle of A bug viewer or magnifying glass a mini-unit study full of family reading, field A few insect experiments (from a book or the trips, baking and/or crafts. Summer fun and Internet) and the supplies needed to learning at the same time, who could ask for complete them more? It only takes a matter of minutes to pull together several items! And the best part: I can plan centers to include topics we “never got around to” during the school year. For instance, let’s say I had planned to cover insects, but time slipped away before summer break rolled around. On a quick walk through the house, I might gather:
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Weâ€™ve found a master falconer willing to take him on and he is eager to pursue this adventure! In order to prepare for the work out on the field, I thought it would be good to spend some time focusing on the sport of falconry and the birds with which he will work. Perhaps you have a child in your home who loves birds of prey. I hope this unit study will open up new possibilities for your summer adventuring!
Where does falconry have its beginnings? Who used falconry? What birds are used for the sport and what meaning did the bird choice have in history? Falconry is the use of birds of prey to catch small game- the young birds are trained to catch and kill small animals without eating them. My twelve year old son has had a keen interest in birds of prey since he was about six, which included a knights and castles phase when he learned about how people hunted with birds of prey. Since then he has continued to read about them, visits them at every opportunity, and loves to keep a sharp eye out for them along the wires and fields as we are driving around or walking.
Write a letter to a master falconer to ask permission to become an apprentice, study various birds of prey, and write or display information about them.
My Side of the Mountain, On the Other Side of the Mountain, and Frightfulâ€™s Mountain by Jean Craighead George.
Where does falconry have its beginnings? Who used falconry? What birds are used for the sport and what meaning did the bird choice have in history?
So, of course, it was with great excitement that we learned he will be able to begin a falconry apprenticeship Language Arts: Write a letter to a master this fall. In New York State, you must falconer to ask permission to become an apprentice to a master falconer for two apprentice, study various birds of prey, and years in order to become a licensed falconer. write or display information about them. P. 8 July 2011 Heart of the Matter
My Side of the The Falconer’s Apprentice Mountain, On the Other Side of the By William C. Oakes Mountain, and Frightful’s Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Falconry: The Essential Guide by Steve Wright Movie Connection: Ladyhawke (preview this movie for appropriateness- it is a love story The Kings and Their Hawks: Falconry in set in medieval times) Medieval England by Robin Oggins
study of birds of prey (habits, types, diet, size, habitat) particularly those most Media Resources: Birds of New York Audio suited for falconry, study birds of prey and CD, Peterson Field Guide CD how they are designed for what they eat and compare to other bird species. The purpose of this study for my son is to Math: problems on cost of beginning refresh his memory on birds of prey and to falconry, Plan a hawk house project including explore his area of interest. I am hopeful that the design- materials, cost, space needed, once he reads and prepares over the summer for this apprenticeship, he will be able to cost of caring, etc. for a bird of prey concentrate on learning to handle the birds Life Skills: state regulations on how to and how to care for them in the fall. I know become a falconer. How do you do it? How they will do some bird trapping and small much does it cost? How do you begin? game hunting. We are excited to see if he will Current role of falconers? What birds are stay focused to become a licensed falconer. In legal to capture and train? License required- New York State, you can become a falconer how do you get it and how often must it be by the age of 14 if you have experienced a renewed? How do you feed a captive bird? two year apprenticeship. How do you exercise it and how often should it be done? Take a hunting safety class and get your small game hunting license. What Our twelve year old just finished his last are the risks and hazards of working with season of organized sports given he cannot birds of prey? How do you trap a bird? How play as a homeschooler. The sport of falconry has much history with a lot to offer still today. do falconers train a bird to hunt for them? We are very willing to pour resources into Visual Art: sketches, paintings of hawks and this passion for our son in the hopes that this falcons/bird of prey of choice, create a will be what he goes all in for throughout his collage of birds of prey and facts on falconry teen years. Unlike team sports and other or the birds, put together a power point or a pursuits for the young, this will be a skill that video presentation on birds of prey. This will last him a life time. Furthermore, falconry could make a great 4-H public demonstration is the sport of “gray hairs” as our falconer topic. explained to us. Mentoring apprentice Book Resources: Usborne Internet-Linked falconers is a way to ensure the sport will Discovery Birds & Knights, National Geo- continue. Perhaps this study will inspire one graphic Field Guide to Birds of North America, of your students to seek out an Birds of New York (or fill in your state!) apprenticeship!
By Debra Anderson Water play is a classic and welcome activity during a hot summer. Whether you school year round or you take a summer break from formal learning, combining play with concepts can never be wrong. Here are just a few ideas to add a fresh element to your child’s water fun.
Fruit Float Materials needed: apples, grapes, a lime*, a lemon*, blueberries, coconut, bananas, and a watermelon. Test them all in a very full kiddie pool or the shallow end of your swimming pool to see if they float or sink. Keep the principle of floatation in mind as you try to explain why most float but some don’t. Law of floatation: a body floats on water
Ice Houses Materials needed: Ice cubes and a shaker of salt. If you’re not up for getting wet but still want a cool activity, let the kids build towers and structures with the ice cubes. Let them try this on their own for a bit and see how tall they can make it. Then show them how sprinkling salt on one cube before pressing another to it will cause them to stick. This happens because salt lowers the freezing point of water so when it comes in contact with the first ice cube it begins to melt the ice, but the temperature of the second ice cube will refreeze it sticking them together.
When the density of the object that floats Materials needed: colored marbles* and/or a is less than that of the water. handful of loose change. When the shape of the object provides for adequate water displacement. (Archimedes You can use a kiddie pool for smaller children said, “A floating object displaces its own or a regular pool for older kids. Assign a number to colored marbles. Toss them to the weight of the fluid in which it floats.”) bottom of the pool. As the children pull If you have a swimming pool and older kids, turn the experiment into a watermelon them out, add, subtract, multiply or divide race. The object is to push the melon to the their numbers according to their ability and other side of the pool without putting your the color of marbles they brought up. If feet on the bottom of the pool. Come up you’re playing with more than one child, see with other fun ways to use your floating fruit. who can get the highest score. A second *Stumped on the lemon/lime results? game for younger elementary kids is to toss One answer can be found at http:// in a handful of loose change and have them www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/ practice adding up the total as they surface floating-lemons-and-sinking-limes with their coins. P. 10 July 2011 Heart of the Matter
*You can also use a larger item like silver and gold keys from your junk drawer for children who might mouth the marbles. For this age set you can just practice counting as they reach in to retrieve the items.
Fish Factors Materials needed: Just a swimming pool and at least two players*. Shark and Fish or What Time is it, Mr. Shark? are classic pool games that kids of all ages enjoy, but you can use the same structure to practice simple multiplication and division with your older kids. Here’s how it would look. First, agree on what factor you want to practice with. 6? 8? One person is the shark at the far end of the pool. He or she will call out a product of that factor times a mystery multiplier. The second player must give the correct multiplier and swim forward that many strokes. If he’s incorrect, the shark can “eat” him. For example, you agree to work with the number 6 as a factor. The shark calls out a multiple of six such as 18, which would be the product of the problem 6 x 3. The fish must call out “3” as the correct multiplier and swim forward three strokes. If he answers correctly until he reaches the shark, they trade places. If he answers incorrectly at any point the shark can chase and tag him.
This game is a blast for your extroverted kids and their friends. It requires some set up and a second pair of hands to run either the mp3/ speaker set up or the water spigot. Keep the sprinkler off at first, but begin the first song. The children move around the sprinkler head dancing to that particular style of music. Spontaneously turn on the sprinkler. When you do, the children have to freeze in whatever position they are in, no matter how cold that water is! As soon as a child shouts out what country that music is likely to be from turn off the sprinkler and turn on the next song having them move around again dancing to a new style of music.
Sprinkler Gossip Materials needed:
A garden hose attached to a low flow sprinkler head. This character-teaching idea comes from April Black at the Suite 101 website. For full directions on applying this principle see her article at http://www.suite101.com/content/ gossip-water-game-a134759. She had a fun idea on how to demonstrate the ease through with gossip can spread. The water represents gossip. The ground represents the ears all around us. The less gossip that gets out in the *This also works in groups with one shark (or world around us, the better. Kids can try to two!) and several other children acting as fish. stop the gossip by clogging the sprinkler, but they will see how difficult it is to prevent it Musical Sprinkler Materials needed: A compilation cd of various entirely. So, the kids need to act as “sponges” ethnic music from different countries or a keeping the water from hitting the ground by programmed mp3 playlist of the soaking it up as much as they can. This same speakers to feed the music demonstrates that while we can’t help but through and a spinning hear the gossip, we don’t have to pass it lawn sprinkler attached to a on. Put the sprinkler in a dry spot and see how garden hose and a dry they can keep the ground. Obviously, spigot. they’ll get soaking wet and have a blast. Heart of the Matter July 2011 P. 11
By Carol B. Summer’s a comin’. To school, or not to school—THAT is the question. Choice A: continue with our schooling because heaven knows we don’t want to lose any ground that took us nine months to conquer in the first place. Choice B: Take a much needed break because we’re inches away from all killing each other and, frankly, Mom needs about a six week nap.
If you want, this could also be a good time to touch on some of the major gods of Greek mythology.
A poster board sized Olympic flag was created and colored in by all the participants as they learned that each of the five rings represented a continent competing in these games. Why weren’t all the continents included? See if they can figure it out. The There is a choice “C”. To not school, but to do best answer? Because penguins aren’t it in a way that is still educational and maybe permitted in the games. even. . .gasp. . .fun? There are plenty of We recreated the passing of the torch with a things you can do that will feel like a break construction paper model—brown paper for from academics to your kids, and yet will still the torch with yellow and red “flames” be a learning experience. Consider one we spouting out the top. We made certain that did in our house many summers ago. each child in attendance carried the torch for at least some of the time along our path until We decided to devote a whole day to Ancient the final “lighting of the big torch” occurred. Greek Olympics by having our own version in Let your kids know that the torch begins in our backyard. We hosted this event in a year Olympia, Greece and is passed off through in which the Summer Olympics were being the hands of various runners until it reaches held, but it could easily be done any year. the current location of the games.
The day was filled with many fun activities and learning experiences.
We taught the kids the translation of the Latin Olympic motto which translates as Swifter, Higher, Stronger. They had to repeat it several times, and at any point in the game an official could ask them to recite the motto. We put a picture of the Ancient Greek God If they couldn’t remember it, they had a push Zeus on the wall and explained that these -up penalty. You might also want to give them games were originally done in his honor. the original, in Latin: Citius, Altius, Fortius. P. 12 July 2011 Heart of the Matter
At the end of the games, there was an award ceremony complete with medals (we ordered plastic ones from Oriental Trading) and a tape recording of the Olympic theme song) In the current games, the gold medal winner’s national anthem is played during the awards ceremony. Several interesting throughout the day.
Originally, winners didn’t get medals. Instead, they got a crown made of olive branches. (Laurel leaves were awarded at a different set of Greek games.) Contestants competed in the nude. Yikes! We happily went with modern traditions in this department. Women could not compete in ancient Olympics. Indeed, it is believed that if they were married, they could not even come to watch, under penalty of death! This competition rule didn’t change until 1900 when women were finally allowed to participate, but even then only in lawn tennis and golf.
We had a variety of games that simulated some of the actual Olympic events. Discus (two Frisbees, duct taped together, filled with something to weight it), Javelin (a wooden dowel), Long Jump, Broad Jump, Running Dash, etc.
In the 1936 games, the youngest contestant ever to win was a 12 year old from Denmark who won the 200-meter breaststroke. Watch this short clip of Ten Things You Should Know about the Olympics.
We had a great day of activity and learned bunches about the current Olympic events, as well as the history of the competition. We also had some games that were silly and Word of warning: keep the fluids flowing. We more in the interest of fun. Your youngest had this event on a particularly hot day and kids can’t compete one-on-one with older realized that water was going to be crucial. children, so have some events that are just for young ones. Who can stand on one leg So go ahead—school through the summer. the longest? Who can kick off her shoe the There are plenty of great activities that have farthest? Who can blink his eyes the most in learning at their core. You can call it academic achievement. Your kids will just call it fun. 20 seconds? Heart of the Matter July 2011 P. 13
By Lee Binz
There are two kinds of parents who consider homeschooling high school. Some parents ooze confidence and super-human academic and organizational capability. They often have near-perfect children, compliant in every situation. They have plenty of time to digest detailed information about high school. They thrive on research and enjoy learning the nuances of senior year before their child becomes a teenager. Fortunately for my business, there are only a few of these parents, because I like dealing with the other folks much more.
Middle School: Preparing for High School
For freaked out and terrified parents, I can help. Let me explain high school in the simplest terms so you can enter the next stage confidently. There are five stages of home-schooling high school. To be honest, you only need to pay attention to the first two, because you have plenty of time to learn about the others.
going to college. For that reason, planning a college prep prep education can save a lot of headaches later on. Simply planning on college can save a ton of headaches, and if they don’t go to college it still won’t hurt anything. College preparation is simple. Four years of Enlglish,
Middle school or junior high is grade 7 and 8, and it begins about age twelve or thirteen. That’s when you’re teaching children to be prepared for high school. For children, that means you cover reading, writing, and math at their level. If they are behind, it’s the chance to get them up to grade level. If they are ahead, you can give them high school level subjects when they are ready. For parents, this is the time to learn about homeschooling high school and practice Freaked Out Fans record keeping. You don’t have to know it all th My biggest fans are parents who live in “the by 7 grade. That’s just the starting point real world” of real stress. Freaked out and where you begin to learn about high school. slightly terrified, they often feel overwhelmed by details and crave simplicity. They need Freshman Year: Thinking about College minimal information in order to retain their Freshman year is grade 9, and children sanity. If given too much information, they begin the year at about age fourteen become immobilized with fear. Some even or fifteen. Has your child ever panic and bail out of homeschooling. I have changed their mind about anymet these parents at conventions. I know you thing? I’m guessing they have! are out there! I know how much you love And if so, you know they could your children and want to do a good job. waffle back and forth about
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Four years of math (at their level each year) four years of social studies and history, three years of science (and at least one science lab), two or three years of a foreign language, two years of PE, one year of fine arts, and enough other stuff to add up to 22 credits or more. It may seem intimidating, but it is really just regular-old homeschooling, keeping children working at their level in each subject. For parents, freshman year is when you begin to learn about high school record keeping. You don’t have to learn it all, or learn it perfectly. t’s just the time to start. Try making a transcript and begin a reading list. A reading list is just a list: title and author are all you need. If you feel like it, write a paragraph about each class. It’s called a “course description” but don’t get intimidated by the name. It’s really just a paragraph – truly, a fifth grade writing assignment for you.
Sophomore Year: Prepare for College Sophomore year is grade 10, and children begin the year at about age fifteen or sixteen. Prepare for college by making sure you cover the basics and you have begun a foreign Language. Learn about college tests so you’ll know if the AP or SAT subject test might be necessary for your student. Have your child take the take the PSAT “just for fun” this year, while their score doesn’t matter.
For parents, it’s the perfect time to learn to write a transcript. New drivers can get a “good student discount” with a home-chool transcript. In other words, some-one is going to reward you with money for doing your job. Awesome!
Junior Year: Find a College Junior year is grade 11, and it begins at age sixteen or seventeen. To be honest, there are specific things that have to be done during junior year. As long as you keep learning about high school, you can learn those tasks that are unique to junior year. If you complete those tasks, things usually turn out marvelously. For now, just remember that the key is not senior year; junior year is where the rubber meets the road. When you are ready for more information, read “The 9 Keys to a Successful Junior Year.”
Senior Year: Apply to College Senior year is grade 12, and it begins when students are seventeen or eighteen years old. The first day of senior year is the best time to begin college applications. Scholarship money is often “first come, first served” so applying early can mean big bucks for your family. Private colleges have more scholarship money, so don’t shy away or be nervous about the price. Colleges love homeschoolers, and they are used to homeschool transcripts, whether or not they are accredited, so don’t be nervous about that either.
Infant or Four-year-old It’s important to remember that dramatic changes occur over the four years of high school. Maturity happens. You have seen huge changes in the lifetime of your child. The infant barely resembled the four-year-old. Same child, same personality, but huge differences in abilities and maturity. Similar dramatic changes occur during the high school years. Seventh graders don’t look anything like 10th graders. Freshman and and seniors are miles apart. You are a different parent than you were with your first newborn. You have learned confidence that comes with experience. That will happen again as you face this time in your life.
Like you learned to diaper and bathe your baby, you can learn about transcripts and college admission tests. Your child will mature and be ready to graduate high school. You will mature with them and learn how to do high -schoolish things. For now, though, take it easy. You have four years to learn how to do it. Now is no time to panic! Just relax, and learn a little bit at a time. You’ll get there. I promise. Huge changes take place between freshman year and senior year, so don’t give up hope. Huge changes will take place in YOU between freshman year and senior year, so
Ah, the mornings of early autumn are beautiful! There is a sharp snap in the air, and the cool morning temperatures are invigorating. The days are growing shorter as the leaves begin to change colors. Apples and pumpkins and gourds are showing up at the farmers market and produce stand, and apple cider is simmering with cinnamon in the slow cooker. Itâ€™s time to rake the leaves, enjoy the changes, and learn more about this season and its treasures. The following pages are from our unit study/lapbook Autumn Treasures. I hope that you and your crew enjoy these pages as autumn moves across the U.S. and takes us into a new season! Blessings, Amanda B. Heart of the Matter
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Collecting Autumn Leaves
Interactive Lea Guide to Iowa Trees
Tree Leaf Silhouettes
Basic Leaf Identification Key Common West Virginia Trees
Trees With Leavesâ€”Tree Leaf Key Illustrations of Common United States Trees
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Black Bear and Cubs in Hibernation
When Birds Migrate
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By Lisa Van Dong Although the boys and I are still completing the current school year, my thoughts have turned to what curriculum we'll use in the fall. We plan to continue with most of what we are presently studying. However, we may look into My Father's World or other options for science and social studies, both of which were mostly hit and miss this year.
Our Current School Year
Last fall, we emphasized the basics and added topics of interest as we had time. While our children have been reading at a high school level for a couple years, their writing needed improvement. With the boys at 13 and 10, we needed to get more serious about our studies, as they'll be reaching high school all too soon. We start our day with Bible. This time includes reading the Bible according to a schedule, keeping a prayer journal to record prayer requests, answers to prayer, and verses that we can share with others, and memorizing verses for Kids 4 Truth, our church's Wednesday night program. Following Bible time is mathematics. We've been using Math-U-See since we started home schooling seven years ago and have been pleased with it every year. The children are currently in Zeta and Pre-Algebra. We may continue math in the summer. We hit language arts hard this year and found many good resources for our studies: â€˘ Both boys have used A Reason for Handwriting since we started home schooling. Once our seventh grader completed level F, we decided to end formal handwriting practice for him. Our fifth grader is in level E. â€˘ We discovered Daily Grams this year. Each lesson includes a page of capitalization, punctuation, grammar and sentence combining to keep their skills sharp and reinforce what they've learned. Typical grammar programs may spend weeks on nouns and then weeks on verbs. By the time they get to punctuation, the children have already forgotten about adjectives. Our younger son uses Easy Grammar in conjunction with Daily Grams, while our older, kinesthetic son does better with Advanced Winston Grammar.
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• Our boys are on level 2 of Rosetta Stone Spanish. Midway into our year, we decided to forgo the worksheets, quizzes, and tests, and focus solely on the computer parts of Rosetta Stone. • For writing, we completed a Meaningful Compositions book the first semester and transitioned to Institutes for Excellence in Writing level B in the spring. We did not have a formal writing program before this year, and I liked that the videos do most of the instructing. • Another winner this year is Spelling Power, which places kids on the level where they need to begin and uses research-proven words and techniques to help them learn to spell. • We do dictation every Friday. The boys write a verse I read aloud to them. • The kids also keep journals at night to record the day's happenings and work on their rhymes, which they enjoy. For reading, our younger son is currently studying Noah Webster while our older son is learning about General Patton. They both read The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, and Clubhouse magazine on a regular basis. They use Mavis-Beacon software for typing and email their dad or grandparents daily. For science, we're using R.E.A.L. Science Earth and Space, and for history we've used American Adventures. Our boys are heavily involved in basketball and baseball, which we count for health. They call their grandparents every Friday as part of speech class and serve as greeters at church while handing out bulletins.
Looking Ahead For the summer, we may continue with pre-algebra, grammar, and spelling. We've heard good things about My Father's World for science and social studies, but the rest seems to be working and we plan to continue on in the fall.
Heart of the Matter
By Lisa Nehring Back when we first started homeschooling, I sought out everyone I could who had homeschooled (the few that there were) and interviewed them; literally, I was writing a Master ’s Thesis on “Why Parents Homeschool”. I learned a lot by doing so. Those brave trail blazers shaped my view and perspective of what it meant to create a life style of learning and what pushing the educational envelop could mean. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned along the way in the hopes that it will help others shape a vision of what a lifestyle of learning and living relationally can be about.
Incorporate your spouse’s expectations into homeschooling. It will be richer, more diverse, and more successful, challenging, and fun if you do so. Work together, if at all possible, to make homeschooling all that it can be (Two are better than one, for they have a good return for their labor. Ecclesiastes 4:9). My husband is a logical, sequential scientist. I am a random-global artist. We approach things from radically different perspectives. He is all about measuring outcomes (tests) and building precept upon precept in a straightforward line of logical reasoning. P. 24 July 2011
I am all for creating with images, words, and materials and am far more experientially driven. We have spent many years struggling to find a balance between his need and desire for order and outcome and my need for creativity and experience. Our kids have benefitted from our constant search and conversation to meld our diverse personalities in a home that educates.
Expect more, both from your kids and yourself. Education can be passive or active, overview or mastery. This means having a clear understanding of what exactly education is. I believe that education is about meaning, value, and the transmission of culture, but also, very importantly, about the transmission of “why.” Why and how things are meaningful and valuable. There is a lot of passive learning these days, which is a form of learning. For instance, rubbing elbows with folks around the globe on-line can, indeed, be a way to gain a deeper understanding of their perspective. But really, digging deeply into learning a difficult subject, gaining specialized knowledge and skill, like language or history or math, allows the student to develop their own perspective, as well as their own ability to pursue value. Heart of the Matter
This takes the student from passive consumer of information to active synthesizer of information. Don’t sell your student short by keeping them, or allowing them, to stay passive learners. Expect more from them. In most cases, (mine, for sure), this means that the homeschooling teacher will have to expect more from themselves. Training oneself to become an active synthesizer of information takes perseverance, practice, and a plan. Which leads me to my next point…
If you teach, get teacher training. Learning and growing as an educator is beneficial to both the teacher and the student. If you are homeschooling, then your vocation is education, albeit alternative education. Educate yourself on what this means. Understand the history of education, develop pedagogy, seek out master teachers and emulate them. Keep a list of books and MP3 downloads to tackle, get to conventions, and join an on-line community. Shore up your own areas of academic weakness and build on your strengths. Learn along with your kids. Set goals for yourself and complete them. Create an accountability group with your kids, spouse, real life, or on-line friends. Your kids are watching what you do you all of the time. If they see you willing to learn and grow and struggle to grasp situations and concepts, they will be more apt to do so themselves.
Develop a personal, intimate relationship with your children. Mirror your kids - they want you to make eye contact with them, smile at them, give them unexpected hugs, and encourage them. For those of us who are task, rather than relationally oriented, this can be a challenge. Get over yourself and be the parent your kids need. This means knowing your own strengths and weaknesses as well as knowing your kids strengths and weaknesses. It’s generally fun and easy to encourage your kids’ strengths but you’ll be doing them a favor if you work on shoring up their weaknesses as well. Most people tend to avoid or ignore their areas of weakness. Our super shy introverted daughter has learned amazing coping skills through drama and political activism. She didn’t jump into these situations on her own, we basically dragged her, kicking and screaming at first. Persevere for your kids, despite their opposition. You are their older, wiser, brother or sister in Christ. It is your role to lead the way for them as you train them to fight the good fight. Training includes difficulties and hard work.
Some kids’ personalities, learning styles, and quirks are easier to understand than others. Keep studying them. Keep learning about ages, stages, and the package that makes up your unique children. Do they have Perfect Curriculum doesn’t make you a disabilities, areas of giftedness, a strong will? successful homeschooler. I love good Find creative solutions to compensate for curriculum and there is a lot to be had of it areas of weakness or inability. Arm these days. But, one could homeschool with yourselves with knowledge so that you can very little “stuff.” What you do need, be a proactive educator and their strong ally. regardless of the amount or type of Your kids need to know that you like them curriculum you have, is commitment and even if they are quirky or irritating or going perseverance. There is always more and better through a difficult stage. They look to you to curriculum to be had. THE best curriculum is understand themselves. Give them a tool the curriculum that you use with consistency. box that is full. Heart of the Matter July 2011 P. 25
Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, Your kids need to know that your love and like eat decently, stay in control of caffeine, drink water, get exercise and schedule regular quiet time. If the care taker isn’t taken care of, probably no one else is either. I plan my work and work the plan, and make good use of as many “helpers” as I can find and afford such as co-ops, academic class days, CD’s, camps, educational computer games. This doesn’t mean that we join everything that comes along. We are choosy, but we do utilize what’s available if it fits with our overall vision and mission.
your spouse, even though you will disagree and even argue with them at times. They need to know your love story. They need to know about your faith, why you believe what you do. More than anything they need to know Who you believe in. Your kids need to know the Great Romance of God to His people corporately and to them personally. Children, and even young adults, need to know that there is something, and Some One bigger in the world than just themselves.
Your kids need to know some stuff. Homeschooling has, in many regards, shaped They need to know that you will always tell them the truth, no matter what. At times, in our house, this has taken the form of, “We’ll talk about that when you get older,” If you are raising people of integrity, they must know that among people of faith there is zero tolerance for lying, stealing, cheating, and sneaking. Set an excellent example for them and install controls in your life such as firewalls on the computers, limits on what’s appropriate to view, etc. Kids need to know that you will set appropriate boundaries for them because you love and respect them, not because you are punitive. They need to know that you have high expectations of them because you want them to become all that God has called and created them to be, not because you’re are a perfectionist. They need to know that you wiling to give them grace, because grace abounds, but that you will not simply give in to their every whim and fancy because you love them too much to allow them to become entitled. Your kids need you to teach, train, and mentor them. They will, inevitably, not like the discipline or you because of it. Teach, train, and mentor them anyway. P. 26 July 2011
our lives and the life of our family over the past two decades. We have gone places, done things, and been surprised over and over again. Along the way we’ve made amazing friends, been stretched beyond our expectations, and learned a ton about people, faith, and academics. We’ve developed and live a life style of learning that goes beyond merely educating our kids in the three “R’s” and demands the very best from all of us. It’s been an amazing adventure!
Heart of the Matter
I love All About Spelling It will be my spelling program forever and ever, amen.
In fact, the phrase Neat and Orderly actually comes out of my mouth on a pretty regular basis. I'll bet if my husband made a top ten list of Ways in Which My Wife is Annoying, hearing "guys, let's do this in a Neat and Orderly Fashion," all the time would be on it. IF there were such a list. But there isn't. Right, Sweetie?
When I was looking for a spelling program, I was overwhelmed by all the choices out there. I read every single review of every single spelling program I could find, scrolling through pages and pages of opinions on sites Speaking of organization, I like that AAS like Home School Reviews, Cathy Duffy teaches all the letter sounds of all the letters. Sure, after the first few Explode the Code Reviews, and The Homeschool Lounge. workbooks my son knew the basic letter What really took All About Spelling to the top sounds and the short vowels, but wondering of my list was that it consistently received when to introduce the 4th sound of U or the very high marks from a huge variety of moms 3rd sound of Y stressed me out a little. Should and students. Moms who homeschooled from I teach all the sounds all at once or would that the beginning liked it. Moms who pulled be overwhelming? On the other hand, saying, struggling readers/spellers out of public "Hey! You mastered all the sounds! Guess school liked it. Moms who had kids with what? - There's a bunch more!" seemed like a dyslexia or other learning challenges liked it. dirty trick. Besides, my son was advancing Moms who had kinesthetic learners liked it. more quickly in reading than he was in our What is so different about it? It uses a multi- phonics workbooks, and got frustrated sensory approach to learning. We can work when the words in his books did not follow orally, with flash cards, with the letter tiles, or the phonics rules we had covered so far. with regular old pencil and paper. It has all Luckily, All About Spelling answered those these different avenues built into the questions for me and I could stop wasting all program, and that makes it easy to connect my valuable freak-out time on vowels. with the visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. Even though I'm not entirely sure what kind of learners I've got, this is going to • There is no student book. Only the teacher's cover all the bases. manual. This is a plus to me, because we can work through each chapter at our exact pace, rather than trying to get 10 pages per week done or Mommy's Schedule is ruined and Mommy doesn't cope well with that. I allow • It is organized. It progresses in a very logical approximately a week and a half per chapter. manner. This appeals to me, because I am logical Some chapters we work on for 3 days, some and like to do things in a Neat and Orderly Fashion. take 6 or 7 days (10 to 20 minutes per day). P. 28 July 2011 Heart of the Matter
Here’s why I like it
Plus, no student book means no badgering my child to write, no listening to my child whine about writing, and we can work at the speed of his brain, not the speed of his hand. (Of course, if you have kids that aren't so averse to writing, you can spell on paper.) No student book also means no consumables, which means I can save everything for my daughter and avoid buying more stuff. On the other hand, it is a very teacher-intense program. There is ZERO preparation, and all the lessons are scripted and very specific about how to get the point across; but the teacher must be there, working with the student. This is not a drawback for me since my kids are very young at 6 and 4 - I'll be fine doing spelling with them every week for the next 6 years if they will just attain Bathroom Independence.
The letter tiles.
Again, the letter tiles allow us to learn to spell without all that pesky writing. My son likes to work with the tiles. I don't know why exactly - something about them is fun. Pretty much everything is more fun compared to some dry old workbook that makes your hand hurt. Fun means I never have to cajole him into doing spelling. Fun means he asks to do spelling. Fun means spelling isn't even really considered schoolwork. Fun makes it a win all around, is what I'm saying.
• It is a mastery program with lots of review.
All About Spelling focuses on both phonics and rules, and does so in such an organized way that I no longer worry about sight words or gaps. Rather than having kids memorize long lists of words, AAS teaches the how and why of spelling. I feel confident that by the time we have completed the entire program my kids will be able to read and spell almost any word they are confronted with.
• Other Awesome Features. AAS
has its own
set of readers that correlate with the spelling lessons, and it is also in the process of writing an accompanying reading curriculum called All About Reading. AAS has a site called the Chatterbee where you can talk to other users and ask questions. It's a great resource. Marie Rippel herself (the author of the program) will respond to questions and emails with amazing promptness. Also, there are no grade designations. We started from the beginning, but if you have older kids, it's nice that AAS does not label each step as a grade, but rather as a level. It’s arranged by spelling concepts, so it's only logical to start at the beginning – and older kids can do this without feeling like they are doing baby work. I really can't think of any cons to this program, except that some people think it's a little on the expensive side. I don't, because ‘readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmatic are huge priorities to me and I don't mind spending money on them; further, there are no consumables which reduces the cost dramatically, depending on how many kids you want to use it with.
We are in chapter 22 and not only do our spelling words focus on the phonics rule we just learned, there are also spelling words that incorporate rules from previous So if you are overwhelmed at the number of chapters. We tend to think that spelling the choices out there for Spelling, or if you aren’t English language is confusing, but in reality, getting the results you want from your 85% of our words are spelled phon- current program, check out All About Spelling etically and with specific spelling rules. and see if it would work for you. Heart of the Matter July 2011 P. 29
By Brian Brown They say you can find everything on Google. As a librarian and homeschooling parent, I am here to tell you that this is not correct. When it comes to doing research, you may find something on Google, but is it the best thing for your homeschool science research?
We ask them to question and evaluate. Science research on the Web should be no different. The Web is an effective tool for doing research, perhaps even more important than the books we find in our libraries. And this coming from a librarian!
Let’s remember that the main function of search engines is to make money, and they do this by selling advertising. This does not always coincide with your research needs. There are many alternatives to using Google that will save you and your homeschool student time and energy when doing research.
The Web provides an abundance of quality resources which may not always be available through our libraries in the printed form. As homeschool educators, we should utilize these effective online based resources for the benefits and knowledge they provide.
One of the first lessons that we as educators and our homeschool students should learn is As a biomedical librarian, I often do research there are alternatives to search engines like on the Web related to science and medicine Google and an encyclopedia such as and remind myself to evaluate the materials Wikipedia. that I examine and not always accept at face As a homeschool educator, are you familiar value. My belief in God helps to ground this with things called Directories? experience and evaluation. I ask God for Directories are often organized lists of links wisdom and insight. chosen and evaluated by professionals in that Three times a day in the Jewish religious field. Many times they have indexed terms or service, there is a prayer known as the tags that make it easy to find what you Shemonah Esrei prayer; the Talmud simply want. Directories provide our students with refers to this as The Prayer. One of the the opportunity to take advantage of blessings within this prayer makes the request someone else’s expertise and work. of God for wisdom and insight. “You graciously endow man with wisdom and teach Here is one to start with. The Internet Public insight to a frail mortal. Endow us graciously Library (IPL2) provides a list of Resources by from Yourself with wisdom, insight, and Subject (http://www.ipl.org/div/subject). The discernment. Blessed are You, Hashem, IPL has been on the Web in some form for over 15 years. This is an excellent directory of gracious Giver of wisdom”. subjects where the researcher can follow links As homeschool educators, we not only strive to from broad things like Science & Technology develop our children to have a deep faith in God, or Social Science deeper into subjects like but also instruct them with lifelong learning skills. earth science, geography or history. P. 30
Heart of the Matter
Directories: lists of links del.icio.us links tagged by the people del.icio.us BUBL Link librarians use Dewey decimal system to organize subjects bubl.ac.uk InfoMine links infomine.ucr.edu
Intute links chosen specialists Intute.ac.uk
DMOZ open directory project dmoz.org CompletePlanet completeplanet.com/ ABCTeach: http://www.abcteach.com/
Cross Subject Learning Web sites: Worksheets for K-8 on various subjects, or create your own. ALA Great Web sites for Kids: Ala.org Extensive list of Web sites on a variety of topics created by librarians. Discovery Channel Education: Discovery Education.com Free resources for a variety of curriculum needs. Educators Reference Desk: Eduref.org/ Virtual/Lessons/index.shtml Large list of lesson plans for k-12 across the curriculum. Education Place, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Eduplace.com/MonthlyTheme/Themes.html Pre—K—6 resources for teachers, students, and families to support instruction in the classroom and at home. Listed by themes. Garden of Praise: GardenofPraise.com Free educational materials on a variety of subjects, including Bible lessons.
Internet 4 Classrooms: Internet4Classrooms.com/ grade_level_help.htm Filled with links for PreK-12 on subjects to Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Kids.Gov. US Gov’t Portal: www.Kids.gov Detailed list of sites broken down by age and subject. Learner.org Annenberg Media: Learner.org/ Grade related education materials and videos for teacher resources across the curriculum. PBS Teachers: PBS.org/Teachers Resources for teachers across the curriculum.
Science: Understanding Science: UndSci.Berkeley.edu Everything you need to know about the nature and process of science. Chambers Elemenatry Science Readers: Gutenberg.org/files/18217/18217-h/18217-h.htm A science text from 1912 for elementary grades. Many other books can be found through Project Gutenberg. NASA Education: N a s a . g o v /o f f i c e s / e d u c a t i o n /a b o u t / index.html Information for students and educators broken down by grade levels. National Geographic Xpeditions: National Geographic.com/resources/ngo/education/ xpeditions/lessons/matrix.html Filled with lesson plans from National Geographic.
TeacherTube: http://www.teachertube.com Teach the world through instructional videos. WatchKnow: www.watchknow.org Videos for kids to learn from. Curriculum based which can be filtered by age.
Scholarly information Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/ SearchMedica relevant, authoritative, and timely clinical information HealthMash Scirus WorldWideScience OAIster (catalog of digital resources)
Scitopia.org VADLO biomedical and life sciences nova|seek search Medline and US Grants NationMaster good for statistics and visual tools.
With this valuable list of Web sites and resources, we can better educate our homeschoolers to use the Web as an effective tool when doing science research. There are many comprehensive directories and resources for science available on the Web. How do you find them? Easy. Just search Google.
Heart of the Matter
By Pamela Swearingen Have you tried to bake bread, but in the end your family has pretty much been eating bread bricks? Are you looking to add simple nutritious homemade bread to your family’s menu, but really you are at a loss at how to create those luscious smelling fresh-from-the-oven loaves in your own home? That is exactly why Lori Viets created a bread making program at BreadClass.com. The program consists of a video series along with an accompanying well-named book, No More Bricks. The wonderful comprehensive program available at BreadClass.com really can teach beginners the basics of bread making. Ms. Viets’ bread making program consists of the video and book components which can be used alone or in conjunction with each other, depending on your interest and skill level. The first part of the program is Ms. Viets’ great book titled, No More Bricks. P. 34 July 2011
This book is sold online either as a physical book ($19.95 and free shipping) or it is sold as an e-book ($9.95). This book is WAY more than a simple how-to guide or a collection of recipes. No More Bricks is a 146 paged book that consists of two main parts. The first section of the book is the true bread class where beginners learn the very basics of bread making. Chapter titles include topics such as “Getting to Know Grains and Flours” and subtopics such as “Oh No! What Happened to My Bread?” For novice bakers (like me) the depth of info contained in the book is crucial to bread baking success. Perhaps expert bread makers might find the info to be elementary, but as a beginner I found that this book met me exactly where I was at. As a person with no bread making knowledge and equipment, I really appreciated the vast amount of knowledge found in the book. Types of flour, how long to store grains, what constitutes “whole grain” flour, and much more are all meticulously covered in the book No More Bricks. Heart of the Matter
The second part of the BreadClass.com program consists of the handy online video series, appropriately named video “slices.” The video series is normally $27.00 but currently it is on sale for $19.00. Great for those who love to learn by watching others, this video series covers the same wide range of topics found in the book No More Bricks, although I did feel that the book was MUCH more comprehensive. Since my past bread (brick) making reputation was already well known, I incorporated these break making video lessons into our homeschool days and called it Homeschool Life Skills 101. Each day the kids and I watched one of Ms. Viets’ video “slices” covering everything from the parts of a wheat kernel (our favorite educational video in the series) to how to bake cinnamon bread (the best tasting lesson of the video series). By the end of a couple of video “slices” my kids proudly made bread all by themselves! The website BreadClass.com also contains links for purchasing fancy grain mills and Bosch mixers. I can appreciate these wonderful machines as much as the next lady, but what I respected most was that the book and video series contain lessons on how to make bread without all the fancy kitchen appliances.
When my kids made their yummy cinnamon bread using information from the video, we used the tools we had on hand. Our recipe was mixed in a mixing bowl and the dough was kneaded by hand. It might have taken longer, but it did work and tasted fabulous, thanks to Lori’s videos and books that cover ALL aspects of bread making. I’m so thankful that Lori Viets of www.breadclass.com offered to help me bake some bread that my family would love. After completing her bread making video series and reading her book, the kids and I were successful in baking some decent homemade bread. Lori Viets and her complete program at BreadClass.com is pure bread making genius!
Karen DeBeus The fall is a great time trips. Schools are back means fewer crowds, and way down in many places. to be a homeschooler!
of year for field in session, which seasonal prices go It is the ideal time
Two years ago, in September, we took advantage of a great educational opportunity by taking a trip to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. We had the time of our lives! We were able to get a GREAT deal on a fully stocked home in the area to rent for two nights. The cost was way cheaper than a hotel would have been! Most homes will give huge deals since they would much rather rent than their home than to have them remain vacant. Not to mention, at that time of year the weather was perfect and the area was not filled with tourists. We arrived at the site early and had practically the whole place to ourselves! We had been learning about the Pilgrims in our homeschool, and the opportunity to actually go and see the Plimoth Plantation site was amazing. I will never forget the kidsâ€™ faces when they arrived at the plantation and they saw all that we had read about. It truly made history come alive. You could picture the pilgrims being there, imagine the hardship, and see how they actually lived. There was so much to see. P. 36
Heart of the Matter
The people at Plimoth Plantation are all dressed in period clothing and will speak to you and answer any questions you have. They stay in character as if it really is 1629! It’s like going back in time to speak with the actual residents. Since we love living history resources, this was just perfect!
where the debating and signing of the Declaration of Independence took place. We saw the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross House, and had dinner at an historical tavern where everyone was dressed in period clothing. We dined on a Colonial period meal, using period dishes and cups, and for a time it felt like we could picture We were also able to board the Mayflower II, Ben Franklin sitting at the table next to us which is a replica of the actual Maydiscussing the events of the day. flower. That was truly amazing. Then we visited the cemetery where William Bradford These trips were amazing, yet we are also was supposedly buried. We also walked fortunate to have some great historical sites through town to see the actual sites of where in our own backyard. We live in New Jersey the different homes were at Plimoth and have visited Jockey Hollow and Plantation. Washington's Headquarters. There is a ton of history close to home as well! We visited The following year we took a trip to see the soldiers’ huts and learned about the Hard sites at Jamestown and Yorktown, Virginia. Winter of 1779-1780. Next we will hopefully Again, we had been studying these places in go see Boston and get to Gettysburg one day. history all year. There was nothing like standing on the actual site of Jamestown and Focusing on hands-on learning by visiting telling the kids, "This is the actual spot of the actual sites that we have learned about is one fort." Standing on the battlefield at Yorktown o f the top reasons I love and imagining the surrender of the British homeschooling. These special trips are one gave me the chills! We visited Revolutionary step above. The kids are able to immerse period farmhouses and the kids were able to themselves in history, and there is no better help water actual tobacco crops growing. No way to be sure they have remembered what hoses or sprinklers-wooden buckets with a they learn than by letting them live it hollowed out gourd for watering. Everything themselves. Seeing it. Touching it. was so hands on! It is our family’s dream, to one day have an We witnessed reenactments of battles and RV and travel to all the sites we learn about. we visited the recreated soldiers’ We'd love to travel west and learn all about quarters. The kids were even able to see a the pioneers. cannon fired and were allowed to try firing a So this fall, as most children head back to musket. I don’t know any boy who wouldn’t school, I encourage you to take advantage of love doing this! this time of year and visit some great places We also took a day trip to Philadelphia, in this country. Fewer crowds, deep Pennsylvania. One of my all-time favorite discounts, beautiful weather, and real life moments of this trip was standing in learning await along with great family Independence Hall and knowing it was memories! Heart of the Matter
In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength… Isaiah 30:15 As mothers we sometimes live in the urgent. This hungry child, that weepy one, another needing a push on the swing… However, it’s beneficial to step out of the urgent, into the quiet, out of our regular spot and look to our source of strength. Jesus set the example. (Luke 4: 42-43)
Once a year I purposefully take the time to think on each of my five children. I set aside a special time to make goals for the next year. Homeschool goals, a life skills assessment but most importantly time in prayer for each child. How is she doing spiritually? How can we give him a bit more of challenge in this subject? What do I imagine this child like as an adult? And, yes, I did say we’d… I do my goal setting and planning on family vacation but save the work for home. I bring along my current favorite spiral notebook and pen. And I rise early and meet with the Lord over matters. Maybe on your own turf you steal away on the back porch or front step.
In the past I spent an hour just one morning. You’d be surprised the thoughts you can record in one quiet, early-morning hour. This year, I decided ahead of time I’d spread my planning over five days. That equals a planning session for one child each weekday. (We are in a stage of two early risers so I anticipated I’d only get 15-30 minutes each morning. Know ahead of time you may be interrupted. It’s ok. God places those appointments for a reason too.) I really anticipate this annual time on vacation. I’ve seen the results. Been surprised at what the Lord puts in my head. On your own turf: you might even be able to arrange for a morning away. July 2011 Heart of the Matter
I start with prayer. I thank God for this child. For the privilege of parenting and teaching. I ask again for wisdom. Oh, that is daily!) I gaze on the sunrise, sip my coffee, listen to the surf, and I write what comes to mind… (the Lord will fill in the blanks for you. Here’s a sample of how mine went)
“…Specifically, I pray for a close, happy, loving, and fulfilling relationship between (name of child) and (name of family member) for all the days of their lives…” “…Manifest Your love to this child in a real way today and help him (her) to receive it…”
Goal planning for Mama: While it is im…yes, at this age I was already practicing portant to seek the Lord’s guidance in goals driving in the neighborhood. Maybe we just for your children, it is equally important to set let her drive from the mailbox to the garage aside some time for the same for yourself! like her cousin does. During the drive time my husband and I …dance mat typing would be a fun thing to dreamed of where we might go on anniveradd in again even this month… sary trips. (Great ideas in Kendra’s Getting …yes, it’s time to remind ourselves about Away). Such a fun way to pass the time! And, if we don’t plan, it won’t happen. good table manners. Maybe there is a hobby you’d like to start … our last year before high school. Two middle schoolers this school year. Hmmm, we or get back to? How about that stack of books need to focus on even more independent on your nightstand? Start small and plan now. Just 15 minute slices of vacation each day will work get you started. All in the family benefit when … what about those preschool activity bags I Mama practices continuing education. was so keen on? How can we roll those type On your own turf you could take late evening things in to our schedule? It has to be easy… walks with your husband after the children … how can we, as parents, help develop are tucked in bed and discuss the same type this child’s interest and skill by investing in thoughts about your future. lessons or supplies? I keep all my thoughts and notes from goal Bonus: Help from Gregg Harris in visualizing setting time tucked in my spiral notebook. goals with children, Outgrowing the Green- When I get back home and am in the thick of house, the cover story for the May 2009 school planning, I pull out my list and incorpoHSLDA Magazine. Another great resource is rate all the Lord inspired during those 15 miDoorposts’ A Checklist for Parents. nute sessions. The best part? Now the inspiration is all out of my head and on the calendar or in my spiral notebook. Less distraction in my mother brain so I can handle the day-to-day urgent. Being in a beautiful setting really helps with Especially something to do daily on your own planning. Being open to the Lord’s guidance turf! and direction is key. “…May he (she) hear the call You have on his (her) life so that she doesn’t spend a life- “We should make plans – counting time trying to figure out what it is or miss it on God to direct us.” Proverbs 16:9 altogether…’ Heart of the Matter July 2011 P. 39 Next, I spend a bit of time praying through needs using the little pink Book of Prayer. Specifically, the section on Power of a Praying Parent.
Study skills are often neglected in our homeschools. We forget that outside teachers and college professors won’t hold our kids’ hands each step of the way like we can. We’re able to tell our children to read that science chapter all the way through tonight and review the main concepts tomorrow in order to be ready for a test the following day. We set the schedules; we divide the book into the number of chapters or pages to be read each day. But what happens when we’re not around to be their personal reminders and coaches?
FACEBOOK (and Twitter, blogs, email, texting on your cell phone, etc.) = NOT! Turn it off for a while! ONE thing at a time. Even if you think you can multitask, it's best to concentrate on doing one thing WELL at a time. You'll find that you're really more efficient in the long run. CONCENTRATE on whatever is in front of you. Don't be distracted by the TV, kids jumping on the trampoline, or the cats chasing each other.
It’s never too early to instill a sense of Bonus: CAFFEINE helps—sometimes. orderliness and organization into our You know yourself; if it helps, have children. By the time a student is ready for high school level work, she should be able to some. If not, don't. monitor her own schedule, take notes from a UNDERSTAND that you will have book or lecture, write a decent book report, compose a variety of types of essays, and interruptions no matter how good your intentions (and/or instructions) are. study efficiently and effectively for tests. Sometimes your own thoughts will interrupt Summer is the perfect time to focus on some you with other things you have to do; write of these areas. Even for those of us who down whatever pops into your mind so you school year round, summers are usually a bit can get it out of your head and focus on slower and a bit more relaxed. Thus, it gives what you're supposed to be doing. more time to concentrate on a necessary academic skill that doesn’t necessarily STAY on task for a specified length of translate into a credit to go on the transcript. time (start with 10 to 15 minutes and work Study skills cover many areas. Here are some your way up to 30 or 40 minutes at a time) or basics for focusing and reading—two of the until you meet a certain goal. Make short most difficult and common areas—to get you goals (to write an essay outline, to finish a set of math problems, to make one project, started. or whatever), meet each goal, and then take Sometimes I think I have adult ADD, so I a short break. created this little acronym to help keep myself on track: Bonus: SLEEP. It's a good thing. Get some. P. 40
Heart of the Matter
By Bethany LeBedz
Here are some more focusing tips: It is perfectly okay to listen to music while you are studying, but choose carefully. Educational psychologists have discovered that slower rhythms (such as Baroque-era music) can actually help you learn; however, most contemporary music is too fast, which lowers your brain's ability to retain information. Don't believe it? Try it! And music with words is distracting when you’re reading or trying to memorize things.
Question—ask questions for learning. The important things to learn are usually answers to questions. Ask what, why, how, when, who, and where of the content as you read or study. As you answer these questions, you will help to make sense of the material and remember it more easily. You may want to write your questions in the margins of textbooks, on lecture notes, or on a separate piece of paper.
Read—read actively. Read to answer questions you have asked yourself or Look at information more than once. questions the instructor or author has Take short breaks every 15 to 30 minutes, asked. Always be alert to bold or italicized and longer breaks every one to two hours. print. The authors intend for this material to Be physically active. It clears the receive special emphasis. Also, be sure to fogginess from your brain and helps you study tables, graphs, and illustrations. Often retain knowledge better. they can convey an idea more powerfully than written text. Make sure you’re getting good nutrition— little sugar and lots of fruits and vegetables. Recite—stop reading periodically to recall Reading is fundamental to learning at every what you have read. Try to recall main stage in life, but only if you actually retain headings, important ideas of concepts what you’ve read. Reading is not just presented in bold or italicized type, and running your eyes over the page once. The what graphs, charts, or illustrations indicate. SQ3R method has been proven to sharpen Develop an overall concept of what you study skills. SQ3R stands for Survey, have read in your own words and thoughts. Question, Read, Recite, Review. Try to connect what you have just read to Survey—get the best overall picture of what things you already know. When you do this you're going to study before you dig into the occasionally, the chances are that you will details. It's like looking at a road map before remember much more and be able to recall going on a trip. If you don't know the material for papers, essays and objective territory, studying a map is the best way to tests more easily. begin.
Did you face math struggles last year? Do any The game actually is your lesson for the day. I of these sound familiar in the context of math assure you that the very same math problems that caused tears in a workbook will be lessons? considered “fun” when there is a board game Sighs, groans, and tears involved. It is one of those mysteries of Messy papers, crumpled in frustration children’s logic that we cannot understand, but we can take advantage of it! Threats, timers, and rewards It’s okay. You have a fresh start with a new school year. If you truly want to improve your math instruction, I have three simple math resolutions for you. If you implement these, you are sure to see improvement in math motivation and comprehension.
I will use math manipulatives. You may think that your child is too old for manipulatives. She shouldn’t need them. But we parents and teachers usually take away the manipulatives far too soon. Using physical objects to understand a math concept is not a crutch; it is a legitimate learning technique. If those counting bears or buttons help your child understand arithmetic (rather than merely going through the steps without truly understanding), why would you refuse your child’s using them?
Games don’t have to be elaborate. Generic board game templates and a die are often enough to make math fun. But if you need more structure, I recommend Family Math. It has ideas (and reproducibles) tied to specific math concepts.
I will integrate math into real life & projects. Like games, these projects have the best benefit when they are done in place of a normal lesson of math textbook and workbook exercises. Imagine telling your children that today’s lesson will be
about fractions—in the kitchen, making homemade pretzels. about graphs—in the front yard, counting the vehicles that pass. I will play math games. about decimals—in the grocery store, For best benefit, use a game figuring savings with coupons and adding instead of your normal lesso n. prices.
Heather is a homeschooling mom of four kids ranging from middle school to preschool and wife to a handsome chemical engineer. Before raising a family, she taught middle school science (with a BS in biological sciences) and has a masters degree in curriculum and instruction secondary education. Now teaching at home means the chance to provide the extraordinary for her children. She’s been homeschooling five years and you can read about those adventures on her blog, Blog She Wrote.
is an eclectically Charlotte Mason mom of three who loves learning alongside her children. You can find her blogging at Our Journey Westward and find her nature study curriculum at Shining Dawn Books.
has three sons ages 11 and younger. Her passions are education, mentoring, her husband, writing, church ministry and missional living — not in that order. She has her seminary Masters degree in Christian Education, is married to her pastor-husband of 16 years, and resides in their newish home in Denver, CO. In spite of moves between four different states, she has always home educated her boys — even on the hard days. She maintains a blog at Emergent-Homeschool.Blogspot.com.
has been homeschooling her 5 kids (2 of whom have graduated) for the past 20 years. She holds Master’s degrees in Human Development and in Marriage and Family Therapy. Lisa has been involved in creating co-ops, class days, and camp experiences for homeschoolers, and was instrumental in bringing TeenPact to South Dakota. She writes regularly for the Homeschool Village as well as other magazines, websites and newsletters. Lisa and her husband of 25 years, David, a Christian Psychologist and Biblical Counselor, speak on marriage and parenting, education and homeschooling. Lisa blogs regularly about “crafting the extraordinary from the ordinary” at Golden Grasses.
Pamela Swearingen, Director of Reviews.
Happily homeschooling in the beautiful Pacific Northwest for several years now. Pamela’s currently homeschooling her middle and high school aged kids and the lessons in their homeschool (and in life) are getting very exciting! Books, unit studies, notebooks, and nature journals are all part of their homeschooling week. She truly feels that God has blessed her family with the opportunity to homeschool and her goal is to inspire other families to homeschool greatness by pointing them in the direction of some really great books, resources and field trip ideas. Her homeschool reviews and suggestions can be found at Mustard Seed Homeschool and all of her non-homeschooling reviews are located at Mustard Seed Book Reviews. P. 44
Heart of the Matter
is a homeschooling mama with a loud one-room classroom filled with four children, aged ten to two. She likes a Saturday morning with her husband and his guitar, a good cup of coffee, and a fresh sheet of paper. She has a BA in Literature and a MEd in Teaching, but more importantly, she thinks outside the box. (She believes the box is a conspiracy.) Visit Aubrey online at AubreyLively.Blogspot.com.
is a biomedical and health sciences librarian and also a homeschooling parent of two children. Working in the world of health, medicine and science has provided Brian with the expertise in doing Web based research. His tips and tricks for using the web for research has been featured at homeschool and library forums. Brian writes a column for Examiner.com about library issues. Brian can be contacted at email@example.com, and followed on Twitter.
is married to the love of her life, Steve, and a homeschooling mom of 4 children ages 10-2. She was called to homeschool when her oldest was kindergarten age after thinking, “I could never do THAT!” Now she is passionate about encouraging others on their homeschool journey. She is also working on simplifying all areas of her life,including homeschool, and putting God first in all she does. Read more about her journey to simplify at SimplyLivingforHim.com.
gave up life in the drive thru lane for the joy-filled road home. She homeschools five children from preschool to middle school. You can find her facing that daily dose of chaos at Hodgepodge. There she writes about practical schooling strategies and shares how she is saving bucks and her sanity with the frugal recipes of her Southern roots. Tricia is also known as Hodgepodgemom.
is a veteran homeschooler, professional editor, writer, and speaker. You can check out her business website at www.bethanylebedz.com. Bethany contributes regularly to Heart of the Matter Online, has a regular column in the Home School Enrichment magazine, and occasionally writes for other magazines, websites, and newsletters. She lives in North Carolina with her family and she enjoys music, reading, scrapbooking, sewing, genealogy, and keeping up with friends in her spare time. Be sure to follow her blog, Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom, at www.bethanylebedz.blogspot.com.
is a former public school teacher turned homeschooling stay-athome-mom. Her only child, Sprite, is a creative middle school student who loves the arts and living books. Jimmie uses a loosely Charlotte Mason approach with lots of notebooking and field trips. Visit her blogs Jimmie’s Collage and The Notebooking Fairy.
Heart of the Matter
is The HomeScholar. Her mission is "helping parents homeschool high school." Her free mini-course, “The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make When Homeschooling High School,” is a great introduction to high school essentials. Her free newsletter provides monthly encouragement and support. Her homeschool transcript solution teaches parents how to create high school transcripts for every homeschool style. You can get a daily dose of high school help at her blog, The HomeScholar Helper, recently voted as the "best homeschool business blog." You can find Lee online at www.TheHomeScholar.com and on Facebook.com/ TheHomeScholar
is a fresh, fun and popular conference speaker unlike any you’ve heard before. Her objective is to have the wit of Erma Bombeck crossed with the depth of C.S. Lewis, but admits that most days, she only achieves a solid Lucy Ricardo with a bit of Bob the Tomato. She is a frequent guest commentator on Focus on the Family's Weekend Magazine broadcast, has been a guest on many radio programs and is a speaker to conferences nationwide. She's the author of three books about dealing with (or possessing) a non-linear mind in a linear world: How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning, If I'm Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where'd I Leave the Baby?, and The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles. Her main websites are CarolBarnier.com and SizzleBop.com. You can also find Carol at her blog for moms with distractible kids at SizzleBop. And for fun, see her church humor blog at CarolBarnier.
Lisa Van Dong
has been teaching her two sons since 2004 and attempts to incorporate study, work, service, and play into their homeschooling days. She takes an eclectic approach to homeschooling and enjoys reading, writing, editing, and essential oils. Lisa blogs publicly at Pockets of Time and privately at Scooter and B.
Deb is a knitting, cooking, home schooling mom. Who is way cooler than that sounds. Really. She blogs about all sorts of random and sometimes even mildly interesting things at Not Inadequate.
Heart of the Matter