Review: CHSH Download Club from CHSH-Teach.com

chsh-teach-com-2016-logo-350x350_zpscacxdhnnIs there a homeschooling family out there that isn’t living on a tight budget?  I haven’t met one.  Hunting down just the right materials to meet the needs of each and everyone of our child, on a budget no less, can be quite the challenge.  I was recently given the opportunity to review a website that can help us all meet these challenges.  It is the ChristianHomeschoolHub.com site, also known as CHSH-Teach.com. My familiy received a one year Subscription to their CHSH Download Club .

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CHSH-Teach.com is an amazing subscriber based website brimming over with over 50,000 downloadable pages of educational goodies!  This website was created by a homeschooling mom and former school teacher named Lynda Ackert.  Amazingly she’s created most of the materials the fill the site.  You’ll find so many treasures for your children from the preschool age all the way through high school in a wide variety of subjects.  There really is something for everyone! Truly my description here is going to fall very short of the true value and richness this site can offer your family.  Check this out too, I think this is pretty unique, of course content is regularly added but those who are members of the  Download Club can also upload their own creations to share.

Let me show you few screen shots of just a sample of the subjects they offer.  And let me tell you, even these screen shots do this website an injustice because everything you see is a clickable link that brings you pages and pages of more options and more links to click that bring you to even more content.  I’m not even scratching the surface here.

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They also have the website sorted out by grade, by months of the year, and they have sections of content that will you get organized.

How we used this website!

The uses for this website are pretty limitless and I struggled at first with where to start.  What I decided to do was find something that met my family’s most pressing need first.  My 6 year old Joyanna is in need of some site word practice and I was able to find just the thing.  It only took a few minutes for me to locate some Dolch site word flashcards… here is a little sample.

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We reviewed her site words with the help of these flashcards for several days and her reading fluency was greatly improved.  I loved that I didn’t have to take the time to make them up myself.  I just printed them on some cardstock, cut them down, and away we went.  Some people might have laminated them.

Next I thought of my son who is in constant need of reviewing his multiplication facts.  I found several fantastic games to help us do just that but I settled on one.  It is a fun and quick game that brings about quite a few giggles while the children have to quickly work through the answer.  A definite hit!

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While researching the math fact game I found this great wall poster on fractions.  My other son is studying fractions soon.  I printed that baby out and I WILL be laminating that one!

Next I found these things called Monthly Learning Packets!  My 6 year old does have her own full curriculum but some days she finishes so quickly compared to her older brothers that she just wishes she has more.  I downloaded the first day packet and put it in a binder for her.  Problem solved! Here is a little preview. There are over 200 pages in each of these packets!  Now my daughter pulls out her bind and flips to a page that looks interesting to her.  I might read the directions so she understands what to do.

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One thing my family loves to do is literature studies.  I was delighted to find so many… take a peek at just a few in the elementary age rang.

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We happened to be finishing up rereading Little House in the Big Woods so I downloaded that one.  It is 18 pages of reading comprehension and discussion questions. Some questions are quick multiple choice while others are more long form.  It was a great little companion to our reading.

Each and every time I log into the site I think, “Oh, we should do that and we should do this and I wonder if I can make time for that.”  This website could be ALL you need to homeschool.  It is that good!  This website currently only costs $25 annually or $99 for a lifetime subscription.  This site could save you hundreds if not thousands on homeschool curriculum.  It is an amazing value.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
 

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Review: CTC Math Homeschool Membership

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Math is such a funky thing in our homeschool.  I have one son who struggles with it.  He’s the free spirited one. He’d rather be drawing or day dreaming tha figuring out sums so has convinced himself he isn’t any good at math.  That isn’t exactly true however when he watches his brother who has a real knack for math he can’t help but feel that way.  My other son I call my mathy kid.  It just comes naturally to him without much effort.  We were given the opportunity to review the  CTCMath Homeschool Membership from  CTCMath.  We reviewed it a year or two ago.  We got a lot out of it then and I was anxious to see how my 8 year old son who loved it last time would respond to it this time.

What Did We Use It

Once our membership was reactivated I was all set to go.  It remembered my son’s accounts from the last time.

Each person is given access to the complete program from Kindergarten to Calculus.  Hopping around between levels to reinforce older concepts or just for extra practice is a snap.  I’m a big fan of review and practice so I appreciate that there is plenty to be found just by poking around through the levels a bit.

Generally speaking we used this program several times a week and my 8 year old was able to choose his own topics to work on and move at his own pace as he progressed.

How Does It Work?

This is program is web based and lives on the internet.  There is no software to install on your computer.  Therefore every child can use it from any internet computer. A strong connection will ensure smooth running videos.  Our general internet browser of preference is Chrome and the program runs perfectly with it.  I also tested it in Firefox and Internet Explorer and found no issues.

Every level operates pretty much the exact same way.  When you enter a subject you have the opportunity take a “Standard” or “Comprehensive” Test if you so choose.  When we restarted the program I had my son take several Standard Tests in search of the correct level for him to begin work.  As the names imply, the Comprehensive test has more problems and dives deeper in the topic testing for knowledge.

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Each lesson begins with a video followed by practice problems.  The videos are pretty short, usually under 4 minutes.  They work through several problems just like the ones that the child will get try in just a few moments.  The problem sets are often just 10 questions long, sometimes as few as 5.

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Once all of the lessons are completed in one topic, the child is awarded a certificate.  Perfect scores on all problem sets earns you a Platinum Certificate.  90% or above equals Gold Level.  There is also Silver and Bronze.  Children can redo the questions in the problem sets in order to achieve 100% and earn that Platinum.  It may take several rounds to get that perfect score though as the program averages all of the attempts together.

 My Thoughts… Do We Like It?

There are many great things about this program.  The ability to move around between levels is just wonderful.  Every child can move at his/her own pace with ease.  As questions are answered immediate feedback is given.  All scores are recorded and easily accessible in the parent log-in area.

The award certificates are a fantastic motivator.  We have something to print off and show off to Daddy at the end of the day.  My son loves that so much I often had to take cell phone photos and text them to Daddy because he just couldn’t wait for him to get home.

Ezra loves that he can move at his own pace.  I am even generally ok with him picking and choosing what topics to study.  He is mostly working at the 6th grade level though  he is only 8 years old. If he were in public school he would likely just finishing up 3rd grade. It is exciting to be able to cater his ability without having to purchase a whole bunch of different levels to figure out just where he is. To have a whole wide world of math to explore at his fingertips is an absolute Gold mine for this child.  The only hic-up if you will is that he actually has to stop and TRY a bit harder at this level.  It isn’t the automatic cake-walk that he was used to.  So he got a little frustrated… until I calmed him down and showed him he really CAN work at that level.  Then he was off to the races again.

I do wish this program had a hands in element. I do appreciate that children can move through lessons and practice problems repeatedly until they are solid in the skill.

Overall, I really do appreciate this program.  It is really well done and easy to use.  I love that kids can plug in and work at their own pace.  I love that it doesn’t take any preplanning from me.  I love that I can have a family account for all of my children.  Even my non-math loving kid can do very well with this program if I required it of him.  If this format appeals to you I encourage you to give it a try.

CTCmath Review
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Review: Math Game from Sunya Publishing

Sunya the magic and wonder purple_zpstmg0xcp4As a homeschool mom I think it is fantastic whenever I can find a way to make learning fun… particularly when it comes to math. That’s why I was excited to have the chance to review Sunya – The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing from Sunya Publishing.  This is a brand new product in the last phases of development that isn’t yet available to the public. It is a game that is recommended children of at least 9 years of age.  I used this with my 8 and 10 year old sons who are well versed in multiplication and division.

This game comes with an instruction book and sixty multiplication and division cards for play.  There is the multiplying & Dividing Number Line Too as well as 30 math and science cards that have facts and riddles.  This is certainly a game designed for children to learn new things as they play all while having fun.

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To play the game I first had to wade through the instruction booklet which is more than 25 pages long. The instructions are long on details with examples.  There are plenty of variations on the basic game that are included in the booklet.  Rounding out the pages are copies of the math and science fact and riddle cards. It was my goal to simply figure out the basic game before I attempted to play with my children.

I can’t deny the fact that instructions are complicated to figure out.  With perseverance and a little help from my husband I was able to get the general idea of how the game is played:

  • One person acts as the dealer and hands out the card.
  • The dealer lays out the number sentence which are the x and = cards.
  • Four card then dealt to each player.
  • Each player, on their turn, draws a card and then tries to make a multiplication (or division sentence if you are playing in division mode) sentence.
  • If you are unable to play you continue drawing cards until you are able to make a number sentence.
  • The goal is to be the first to use all of the your cards first.
  • The first person to use up their cards and call “Sunya” (which is Sanskrit for “empty.”) wins!

Sunya cards close up_zpsfjzakhziYou can block a person from going out though by preventing them from making a number sentence from what is in their hand though this isn’t always possible.

The winner is able to draw a card from the fact and riddles cards and then share it aloud or ask others to solve the riddle or answer the facts.

This is the most basic and simple version of this game and the way we liked to play the most.  There are several varieties explained in the instruction book and we did try to add other rules or change things up a bit but each time we did everyone was left incredibly confused.  In the end we decided to stick to the basics.  I do believe that the more we play it the more we will understand it and it can change and evolve with us over time.

Over all we enjoyed playing this game with the family.  My husband probably enjoyed it more than I did as he is rather math minded and tricky rules are a fun challenge for him.  With his help I do think we’ll further develop our understanding and be able to try other variations as time goes on.  It is a great tool for reinforcing the multiplication and division facts (as well as number sentences).  It is great for a change of pace in your homeschooling days.  It is often a relief to set aside curriculum and play a learning game for instruction and fun.

I’m hoping that as time goes on Sunya Publishing can figure out how to simplify the instruction booklet.  They try to explain to you why the rules are as they are and that is great.  But over all they are overwhelming and I felt a bit frustrated when I had to ask my husband for help to decipher the rules.

The instruction booklet I received was printed in mostly gray scale with just a few pages in full color.  Sunya Publishing asked to to give them their opinion of which of these variations I prefer.  I do prefer color of course as the examples on those pages was most helpful.

As I mentioned before Sunya Publishing is still putting the finishing touches on developing this game and preparing it for release.  They are also working on an adding and subtracting game that may be just right for younger children.  It may be something we look into in the future for my younger daughter.

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
 

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Review: D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths from Memoria Press

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There are SO many things I want to teach my children!  I personally have a fascination with Greek Myths.  Could it be because they are so absurd in some ways?  I mean the stories are just hilarious!  But there is such an educational value to studying them.  So when the chance to review  D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths from Memoria Press came up I was thrilled to be blessed with the opportunity.

What We Received:

DAulaires-Greek-Myths_zps41kctrttI was so thankful we received everything we needed to make this study happen.  In our box we found the Greek Myths Book, a teacher’s guide, a student study guide, and flashcards too!

The D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths books is just beautiful.  It is a sturdy softcover book with thick pages and gorgeous illustrations.  They are so well written and designed perfectly for children.  Each story is short and sweet and yet to the point. Some of the more touchy subjects that you will often encounter in Greek Myths (like affairs between Gods) is a bit glossed over.  As a homeschooling mom you can choose to pause and dive into that topic or just keep chugging on, saving it for day when you believe your children are ready to face these adult issues.  Either way, it is a pretty safe read even for younger children.

Inside the student guide you will find lots of questions, vocabulary words to study, and lots of activities to bring meaning to this topic for your children. The teacher’s guide provides you with the answers for all of these questions (thank goodness right?).  There are also tips and hints for teaching the Greek Myths and progressing through the study.

The flashcards are handy for review.  There is a lot of information here and they sort of solidify it all in your children’s brains.

How We Used It:

This study is a part of the 3rd grade set that Memoria Press offers for sale on their website.  I wouldn’t confine it just to your third grader though.  All 3 of my school aged children ages 5-10 totally enjoyed the book and it was my older son who was able to complete the Student Guide as it is designed for children in 3rd to 6th grade.

This program is divided up into twenty-five separate lessons.  There are also pages for drawing, review lessons, and a final exam.  Every lesson begins with information about what your will read from the text along with facts and vocabulary questions.  These are followed up by the comprehensions questions.  Finally you will end things with the activities.

The activities are simple and straight forward.  You will look back through the text for review as you fill in information or compare and contrast the Myths to Biblical stories.  There are drawing activities which my son loved!  You’ll find deeper discussion questions and even memorization practice.  There is also a pronunciation guide (thankfully), maps, and more.

The teacher’s guide follows along very similarly to the student workbook.  Of course the answers are avaible there for you the teacher.  You’ll find tests to photocopy and more answer keys.  There is a lot of information in here about how to use the program, how to incorporate the memory work and so much more.

The flashcards are numbered according to the lessons.  We typically used these as review just before we began a new lesson.  They are not only great for memorizing but they are also a handy reference tool.

Overall:

This is one of those studies that mommy liked the idea of but my son was skeptical.  It sounded boring to him.  However once I showed him the D’Aulaires book he interest was spiked and we totally enjoyed all of the discussion and activities after that.  If Greek Myths are on your agenda you will certainly enjoy D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths from Memoria Press.

 

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review
 

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Review: Heroes of History- Abraham Lincoln from YWAM Publishing

YWAM Publishing_zpswsszfqxbIt has been three years since my family was introduced to books from YWAM Publishing.  Since then these biographies of Christian Heroes and Heroes of History haven been a mainstay of our homeschooling lives.  We are almost always reading one of their books as a read aloud.  (My boys could totally read the books on their own probably in just a couple of afternoons.  Except then I’d miss out on such great books.  So we choose to read them aloud!) I stock up on these books big time every spring at our local homeschooling convention.  These are books that challenge and encourage our Christian faith, teach about God’s work in our world, and their newest history books give us a great deal of information about fantastic characters from our past.  This time we were given the Heroes of History- Abraham Lincoln from YWAM Publishing  along with the Digital Unit Study for review.

We chose the Abraham Lincoln biography as we figured it’d be a great supplement to our American History and Civil War studies.  In fact we received the book just after a trip to Washington D.C. where we got to view the Lincoln Memorial.

Abraham Lincoln_zpsqmzgytziLike all of the YWAM Publishing books, the story of the life of Abraham Lincoln is told in a fascinating way that makes all of the children beg for just… “One More Chapter Please!” Though these are technically geared for children ages 10 and up even my five year old adores these books.

We begin in Abraham Lincoln’s early childhood years where we learn great details about how and where Abraham Lincoln grew up, the tragedies and difficult life he faced, and the events that lead him to become the man that he was.  We learn exactly how this seemingly uneducated man made his way to the presidency during some of the most tumultuous days in our country’s history.  The book is completely historically accurate with so much fact buried in such a compelling story.  Your forget you are reading a historical biography.

The Digital Unit Study adds so much to the experience of reading the story. It helps you dig a little deeper and think a little more about so many details of the story.

The study guide provides resources for teaching:

 

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Creative Writing
  • Essay Writing
  • History and Geography
  • Quotes for Memorization

This Digital Unit Study can so much to a study of the Civil war.  It gives you ideas for building a log cabin, investigating flags and money from Abraham Lincoln’s time period, you’ll be looking at photographs too.  Such a great way to make some of the history come alive.

Our family focused mostly on the Reading Comprehension and Geography activities.  We discussed many of the quotes that are offered.  We also dug through whatever sights we could find on the internet to find the pictures I described above.  We haven’t quite finished the last 2 or 3 chapters of the book however when we do I’ll be asking the boys to choose either an essay or a creative writing assignment to finish up our study. Ezra is looking forward to creating a map of Lincoln’s journey’s.  Activities like that are right up his alley. Noah plans to write and illustrate a children’s book about Lincoln’s life.

Please if you haven’t checked out YWAM Publishing books and Digital Unit Studies you just must take the time!  These books are a treasure.  In fact, I’m headed to that homeschool convention this weekend.  Guess which booth I’m hitting first!

To find out more about YWAM Publishing:

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
 

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Review: Writers in Residence from Apologia Educational Ministries

apologia-logo.jpg_zpswpuj9gxgOur family has recently been given the opportunity to review a brand new writing program called Writers in Residence from Apologia Educational Ministries.  We’ve had the opportunity to experience a variety of writing programs over the years and we’ve loved various elements of pretty much all of them.  However, teaching writing to children seems to be one of the most challenging aspects of homeschooling.  I am grateful for the opportunity to present a new program to you.  Perhaps it is the perfect fit for your family.

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Writers in Residence is a program for 4th-8th graders that uses examples from wonderful high-quality literature as a model for children.  Sprinkled throughout the pages of the large, spiral-bound student text and workbook combination you will find interviews of Christian authors that your family is likely already familiar with.

How It Works

This program tackles grammar along with the writing.  In the first volume of the program you will find six different units.  These units cover writing short stories, narratives, opinion pieces, autobiographies and more.  I am impressed by the wide variety of writing presented here.  It seems other programs cover creative writing and nonfiction reports and not much else.

Within the units the children refer to examples of writing from experts, the learn vocabulary, they use graphic organizers, and they refer to student samples as well.   Each unit is broken down into something called a module.  Modules are much like chapters.  Debra Bell, the creator of this program, has laid out a fabulous day by day lesson plan. Her plans break the program down into four lessons per week for 32 weeks. Her plan generally has children taking two days to complete a module.

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This program is generally based on the Six Traits Writing Model which is a program developed in the late 70’s and early 80’s based on research done by with writing teachers and college professors.  They discovered 6 distinct traits that are used to teach and assess student writing.

These six traits are:

  • ideas
  • organization
  • sentence structure
  • word choice
  • voice
  • conventions

There is a rubric for parents to use to evaluate final drafts of writing.  Can I tell you how much I LOVE that!  It just takes the guess work out and gives my child and I something objective to measure the writing by.

This program takes a child systematically through the writing process and I love that it teaches children that this process isn’t always one-directional, that sometimes we have to go back and forth between the steps.  The steps as they are laid out here include:

  1. Planning
  2. Drafting
  3. Revising
  4. Editing
  5. Polishing

Also included is an answer key which is much smaller than the large student text.  It provides the answers (or give samples of) all of the student text assignment.  Here you will find the rubric and an explanation for its use that will help you evaluate your child’s writing.

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How We Used It And What We Thought

I’ve been using this program with my oldest son Noah who is 10.  Before we began the program he read a letter from the author of the program, Debra Bell, that is located in the front of the big Student Text/Workbook.  I think this letter gave him a new appreciation for the reason we need to learn to write.  In the letter Debra writes about how language is a gift from God and we need to learn to use those gifts to glorify Him. She says it helps us demonstrate our creativity which reflects God’s creativity.  She also includes her own email address so students can write to her, send her questions, or even their own writing.  What a person touch this letter is.

My Noah loves to write… in his own way.  Long, drawn out, imaginative stores with no punctuation, grammar, spelling, beginning, middle, or end!  Reining him in to write in a way that is interesting to the reader is a challenge.  He just doesn’t like to be told how to write!

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However, the lessons in this program are relatively short.  We were usually done in just 30 minutes a day. The schedule is useful not only for my own planning purposes but it also helps my son see ahead of time exactly what is expected of him. The four day a week schedule is amazing as we usually have at least one day per week that sends us away from our “at home schoolwork” as I call it.

The lessons are fun, light hearted, and easy.  Now when I say easy I don’t mean easy as in… this has no value.  I mean easy as in… what we are learning is so clearly demonstrated that the assignment comes with ease. The lessons also vary quite a bit day to day.  We’ve used other programs with something of a daily formula.  While I appreciate consistency sometimes my kids find it… BORING.  This program is not boring. My son looks forward to seeing what new thing he’ll do that day.  This program is full of amazing writing samples, research activities, kinesthetic exercises and more.

One of the most amazing things about this program is that it includes language arts lessons right within the pages.  For example, on of the first exercises has children writing about a favorite memory.  As the lessons move on they refer back to this first piece of writing to make changes as they learn about weak and vigorous verbs, nouns (common, proper), etc.  By the time these lessons were applied the first writing my son had created quite the polished, and focused piece of writing.  We were all quite proud.

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My only criticism about this program is that the student text is HUGE!  This has some pros.  Everything is located in one place which is awesome.  I have too many curriculums that make us switch from this to that book and back again.  Plus this thing certainly isn’t going to get lost. However, it takes up a hunk of space in the drawer and when we take school on the road it is usually left behind since no one wants it weighing them down in their backpack.  Plus, if I want to use this program with more than one child I’ve got to buy THE ENTIRE thing again which is pricey.  Most other programs allow you to purchase just the consumable portion.  No such option exists with this program.

OVERALL

My son and I love this program.  This will be our writing program for the next year.  Apologia Educational Ministries says they will be releasing more volumes of this program as time goes on.  We are very much looking forward to that.

Apologia on social media:

Apologia on Facebook
Apologia on Twitter
Apologia on Pinterest

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review

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Homeschooling the Perfectionist Child

The Perfectionist Child

Do you have a child that melts down over your slightest correction in their schoolwork?  One of my son’s tends to be this way.  Learning comes very easily to him.  He learned to read simply by watching his older brother’s lessons and now he can rocket through books far above the level typical for his age.  He picks up math concepts in a flash.  He has an eye for detail and the memory of an elephant. Even physical skills like riding a bike or sports come easily.  While this probably all sounds fantastic (and it is in many ways) the downside is it is tremendously difficult to challenge him.  As a result he doesn’t have much practice dealing with his emotions or working through mistakes.  When a mistake does present itself he tends to overreact and meltdown.  Pridefulness can set in and he can insist he is correct when in truth he is not.

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Helping our children have the right perspective with mistakes they make in their schoolwork or in life, helping them analyze their own weaknesses, can be tremendously challenging for any parent.  These character flaws in our children can even seem magnified when we, as homeschooling parents, work alongside our children day after day.

To read the rest of my article about how to handle the perfectionist child please hop on over to the Homeschooling with Heart Blog.

Homeschool Conviction

HomeschoolConvictionI recently had one of those moments of epiphany.  It was like a a huge bomb just went in my brain and I finally understood something I have spent years trying wrap my brain around.  The light bulb over my head was shining brighter than the sun.  It finally occurred to me why I find it hard to relate to or even whole-heartedly fit into so many homeschooling circles… including with some in the very group that I founded and have lead as president for over two years. I assumed it was something about me or my personality that made things not quite right.

Then a couple of weeks ago I was reading the latest edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine when I ran across an article by Familyman Todd Wilson.  I love reading his articles even if they are geared towards men.  His straight forward, humorous style, is captivating.  He “gets” this whole homeschooling thing.  You might recognize some of his hilarious homeschooling cartoons from around the web.  Like this one.. which fits me to the letter!…

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In his latest article called Dad-Conviction Todd shares an experience his wife had recently.  Because the family travels often for their ministry she had never been too involved in their local homeschool community or co-ops.  She found herself in a time in her life where she wanted to make some connections with local moms who also homeschool.  Off to different homeschool gatherings and events she went, children in tow.  They all came home smiling and reported back to Dad to that they had a great time and that they met some really wonderful people.  In the end, mom confessed  that she didn’t feel quite as over the moon about these new homeschoolers she was meeting as she wanted to be.  Something was just a bit off to her.  She shared with her husband…

“The thing is, they don’t homeschool for the same reasons or convictions that we do.  They seem to homeschool because it’s better than what they experienced in the school system, or out of convenience, or lack of money (for private schools). They homeschool one kid but not the others.  If they think the school is an okay option next year for whatever reason they’ll just switch and do that instead.”

He goes on to say that she perceives most homeschoolers she meets as homeschooling not out of conviction or a calling from God but because it’s the easier thing to do for now.  She worries that when the hard days come (and they will) “the modern day homeschooler will just look for another option to ease the pain.”

Oh my goodness I nearly jumped out of my seat!  I feel exactly like Todd Wilson’s wife!  My family has a deep conviction for homeschooling and it doesn’t seem like many other homeschool families feel the same way.  In a world where I already feel different because of our educational choice I can feel alienated even among those who have made a similar choice.  To talk with other women who don’t carry the same convictions, especially when things get bumpy, can actually be very discouraging.  I recently started such a conversation, or I should say I tried to, and the whole thing spiraled into a discussion about who was planning to send which child into what school next year. And all of the women were congratulating each other for this because they viewed the moms putting their kids in school as doing the hard yet brave thing.  NO! I was screaming inside! Sticking it out and doing what God has called you to do instead of taking the easy way out is the hard and brave thing! I was so disheartened.  It was certainly not the lift-up I personally hoped to find.  I found myself sitting in silence because to say anything to the contrary would have not have been the polite thing to do.

My family’s beliefs about education were born from my own experience as a public school teacher and our own study of scripture.  I saw first hand how absolutely inadequate the modern traditional school system is.  And I write those words with trepidation because I don’t want to seem as if I’m saying anything derogatory about my absolutely phenomenal friends and family still working in the traditional school trenches doing the very best they possibly can.  The fact of the matter is even with the most talented of teachers no school can provide the kind of learning environment that I think every child on this planet deserves.  One that is centered on God’s word, in the context of family, and full of individualization. In fact I do not believe traditional, institutionalized schooling was even God’s plan for children. Over the next month I plan to blog more about what I believe is God’s model for educating children and what I view as the ultimate model of education (an ideal I strive to meet yet will likely always fall short of).

Until then… convicted homeschool moms I’m praying for you that you can find the encouragement you need to run this marathon of educating your own children at home.  And I also pray for the homeschool community as a whole.  I fear if ever we face scrutiny or downright persecution from whatever powers that may be that we all find the strength to stick it out and now be blown away.

Review: Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press

 

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If there is anything in our homeschool that I am big on, and my children adore, is reading wonderful literature. We were recently given the opportunity to review the Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the experience.

Memoria Press is a family run company.  The focus on providing high quality classical christian eductaional materials for homeschools and traditional schools.

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Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set was created to help you and your students study Robin Hood, The Door in the Wall, King Arthur, and Adam of the Road, all books set in the Middle Ages. You will receive a workbook for students and a teachers manual for each of these books.

For this review each of my boys chose one book to read.  Noah chose King Arthur and Ezra chose Robin Hood.  I downloaded these books from Amazon for them to read on their own on their Kindles.  I assigned one chapter per day.  They would read their chapter and then fill out the answers to the questions in the workbook pages.

About the Guides

All of the guides are colorful softcover books and are laid out essentially the same.  The student workbooks are laid out by chapter.

  • You’ll begin with a section called ‘Reading Notes.’  I loved this section as it sort of sets the stage or gives you background information that will help the child in their reading.  It covers the names and places you’ll find in the chapter.
  • Next you’ll find vocabulary words to define.  I had my children look up any words they didn’t know in the dictionary.
  • After that you’ll have comprehension questions to answer as well.
  • An interesting thing I’ve never seen before is a section on quotations.  Here the children have to recall who said the quoted part and why the said it. This proved to be a bigger challenge than I imagined it would be!
  • Finally there are questions for discussion as well.  Also included is an enrichment section with ideas to bring the learning further such as acting out a scene or drawing pictures.

The Teacher’s Guide not only walks you through the answers to the student questions but there are also quizzes for the books, a midterm and final exam as well as all of the answers to these.

What We Really Liked About These Guides

We’ve been reading great literature together for years in our homeschool.  I do ask them lots of questions and I even pause to discuss vocabulary words and such.  This is the first time that we were more systematic about this.  I wasn’t sure if this would frustrate my boys.  I thought they’d get aggravated with the stopping and starting but in fact they did not.  They seemed to savor slowing down and checking their understanding more thoroughly.  These guides helped them pay attention to details they hadn’t before.

The enrichment sections was a lot of fun for them.  They are quite used to taking the books they read and turning them into big playful projects not unlike some of the suggestions that were written in these guides.  However, the suggestions sped up their creativity!  In fact they jumped ahead to the enrichment section before reading their chapters to get an idea of the fun they have later on.

Overall

If you want to take your literature studies to a new level then you really have to get yourself these study guides.  They are excellent.

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Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
 

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5 Days of Tips for Homeschoolers: How to Have a Great Homeschool Day

How to have a great homeschool day!
Coffee Break Smooth Day

Every family has a different flow to their homeschool.  These things are driven by our family and educational philosophies, our priorities, and the various stages of life we all live through (do you have teens or littles.. or BOTH for example).  I do think there are some pretty universal strategies to making a homeschool day generally run well… or at least give you the best shot at a well run day.

  1. Make your expectations clear with your children.  It may seem that your children should know exactly what you expect of them.  If you are anything like me you probably feel like you are telling them what you expect 100% a day.  I have found though that in my family we need occassional meetings where I layout what I see happening and what I feel should be happening.  I even write things down and display them some place common.  Then, if need be we’ll review that list daily.  A mantra in our home is… Maximum Effort ALWAYS!  We’ve discussed this idea nearly to death and I’m sure they are rolling their little eyeballs at me when I shout it out as they run off to do whatever task I’ve given them.  It does work though! Just three little words can make all of the difference in our home.
  2. Lay out their work ahead of time.  My kids LOVE to know what they will have to do for the day before they even tackle their sit down school work.  We use Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Buyers Coop for scheduling assignments.  I can enter assignments in days, weeks, or months at a time (and them bump them ahead if we don’t get to something).  Each morning they log on and check things off as they go along.  Having that daily list available seems to be the difference between having children with good and willing attitudes and children with unwilling attitudes.
  3. Let the Wiggle! In our home I allow my children to work in whatever position they deem most comfortable.  Often this includes standing.  They even pace while reading or writing out math facts.  If I see a child having trouble concentrating I ask them if they want to “hit the stairs.”  Sometimes running up and down a flight of stairs a few times gives them the kind of brain and body break they need.  Or I simply toss them outside for a little air.
  4. Be Flexible! There will be days when sit down schoolwork just isn’t worth it.  Maybe someone isn’t feeling well or the weather is extra good or the moon is full.  Who knows.  But know that it can be a very good thing to put the work aside from time to time and snuggle up for a movie on the couch or pile into the van for a trip to the park.
  5. Follow Your Instincts! From time to time you may get the feeling that something about your school plan, curriculum, or routine just isn’t working.  When this happens know that it is okay to make changes.  Trial and error may be necessary!  Just remember, you are uniquely suited to raise and educate your own child.  You are the expert on your child.  Move forward boldly.

 

The members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew are participating in a 5 day series… Tips for homeschool parents.  I encourage you to visit their blogs and read up on their best tips too!

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

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