It is usually about this time of year when the homeschooling catalogs start coming in the mail. I gather them into a big pile and, like a kid in a candy shop, I pore over the pages. I love browsing homeschooling curricula. There is so much promise and potential in new school books.
But I have learned that beyond glossy pages and full-color pictures, there are certain things that make for effective curricula. There are good books, and then there are great books. Here are ten criteria to think about when shopping for next year’s school books:
Continue reading “What to Look for when Choosing Curricula”
Do you ever have doubts if what you’re doing as a homeschool mom is working or making a difference? Here’s an article I wrote for Mercatornet:
George Washington, first President of the United States, was homeschooled. So were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the 3rd and 4th Presidents of the United States. Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, novelist Louisa May Alcott, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell were also educated at home, as were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison, Robert Frost, 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt (in fact 14 American presidents were home educated), scientists Edith and Agnes Claypole, and geneticist Francis Collins.
Continue reading “Homeschooling in the USA: Yesterday and Today”
A little background….Mary and I met over 15 years ago in Tempe, Arizona when our husbands were in graduate school at Arizona State. We have been great friends for such a long time. God has blessed our families with kids who are the same age and sex and obviously, the call to homeschool. We now live in different states but try to get together several times per year. The kids disappear for the weekend, the husbands work on research, and Mary and I laugh, serve meals, and talk about all kinds of great stuff!
A few years ago we decided to meet weekly via FaceTime to work on writing. We wanted our oldest daughters especially to have more time together. What we didn’t realize was how effective our weekly meetings would be.
Continue reading “How We Use FaceTime to Improve Writing and Reading”
That’s a question a friend asked me last spring. I think I gave her a most unsatisfactory answer, something along the lines of: Well, it depends on the day.
It seems to me that more and more parents feel as if they have no choice but to home school. Some parents feel compelled to homeschool in order to provide religious and moral instruction. Others are concerned about the safety of school environments or the quality of education their children would otherwise be receiving. In any case, the number of homeschooled children has been increasing. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Education found that about 1, 096,000 children were homeschooled. By 2013, that number increased by over 60% to approximately 1,770,000, which is 3.4% of school-aged children. So we know that many parents feel obliged to homeschool, but do they love homeschooling?
Continue reading ““Do You Love Homeschooling? Or Do You Homeschool Because You Have to?””
If you read last week’s post, Christmas Gift Ideas, I promised a list of homeschooling curriculum that could easily pass as gifts under your Christmas tree. Mary and I talked again on Friday and came up with some ideas. These are the nice-to-haves, the supplemental things, the stuff I often pass on in July when I am ordering all of the core subjects. (A few disclaimers – Most of the links go to Amazon. My advice would be to shop around for the best prices. Secondly, I only gave one example from the series in the interest of space and time. If you have a specific item you are looking for from something I mentioned, drop me a comment and I will do my best to get you a link.)
Continue reading “Christmas Gift Ideas Part 2”
Is it possible to homeschool a large family in a small home? How about homeschooling eleven kids in a three bedroom house? Today’s post is an interview with Helen Helmers, a homeschooling mom whom I have long admired. She shares with us her experiences and the valuable lessons she has learned as a homeschooling mother of a large family.
Continue reading “Homeschooling the Large Family in a Small Space”
With one of our favorite Feast Days just around the corner, I thought I’d share with you some of our saint costumes. Mind you, these are not professionally made costumes. These are the “not perfect but good enough” projects of a busy mom who has to make four costumes in one weekend or so. After several years of making these, I’ve come up with a method to the maddness. Here are five tips for sewing All Saints Days costumes which I hope you may find useful.
Continue reading “Sewing Easy All Saints Day Costumes”
How was your first month of homeschooling this year?
Here’s how ours began: at 4am in the morning of our first official day of school, Sparky came running into our room. “I’m sick!” he gasped. Then he rushed into the bathroom and threw up.
The rest of the day went downhill from there… or rather uphill, as in rolling a boulder up a hill. That’s how much effort it takes to begin a new routine and get the kids back into the school groove. That first day of school, I felt like a zombie trying to herd a pack of monkeys. As soon as one child would settle down to work, another would get up and wander off. Or one would complain that the work was too hard, or start drumming on his desk. All day long I found myself barking, “Sit down! You’re not done your work!”, “Stop talking and focus on your math!”, and “DON’T WAKE THE BABY!”
By the end of the day, I was in the doldrums of discouragement. And I was asking myself, Why is homeschooling so hard? What am I doing wrong?
Continue reading “When Homeschooling is Hard”
For my first several years of homeschooling I did not keep track of my kids’ grades. I corrected their work and made them fix their mistakes but did not maintain a grade book. I had a general idea of where they were at and what they needed to improve, so it seemed like more work for me.
About 5 years ago, I decided to prepare report cards for a number of reasons. My homeschool evaluator encouraged me to. I wanted to confirm my assumptions about their progress. Finally, my kids were wanting to win a prize at the dentist office based on their report cards. What I did not realize was the incredibly positive effect the report cards would have on our homeschool.
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Have any of you used the new Story of Civilization curriculum from Tan? This year, our family will be delving into Ancient History. In past years, I was quite satisfied with using the popular Story of the World, vol. 1 for teaching Ancient History. This year, because I really like the audio CDs, we’ll be using the Catholic version, Story of Civilization.
Yes, I ordered the whole kit and kaboodle – activity book, test book, teacher’s guide, time line, CD’s, and text book. Everything except for the DVDs. When the books came in the mail, everything looked great… except for one thing: when I looked at the teacher’s guide, there was no book list of recommended reading for each chapter! Picture books and novels are really what makes history come alive. So….
Continue reading “Story of Civilization Book List and Pictures”