Science with preschoolers

Little kids are fun. They have such a natural curiosity that it is very easy to lead them in learning about nature and science. Kyrie is 4 and she is fascinated by everything from grasshoppers to the funnel clouds we see over head once in awhile. She takes in information eagerly, almost gulping it in with great intellectual gasps. She observes everything around her constantly.
I think that for this age the very best way to learn about science is by reading interesting books and by interacting with nature. The Thornton Burgess nature stories are fabulous, and give lots of real information about the fictional animals.. and they are a great resource for the elementary science program.
Kyrie watches ants. What can she learn from that? Plenty! She sees how they respond to each other socially, she has watched them build anthills, collect food, and attack unwary caterpillars. There were times when it was tempting to pull her away because ants hold no magic for me anymore..they are pesky at best and being bitten by a swarm of fire ants is no fun. As I started to interrupt her concentration I saw that she was learning…a science lesson with I left her to learn what she could.
As with older kids we feel that we need to be involved with their education, we feel we need to direct it, sculpt it to match our own vision for their lives. We couldn’t be more wrong!
Children do not need to be busy or entertained all the time..they need to have time to be quiet, to think, and to observe and interact. If you don’t have a field nearby then a park will do, or even a walk around the neighborhood. See what you can find, how many squirrels you count, for example.
Webrangers is a cool interactive site for kids of all ages. I found it when I was looking at a cool blog called Mudpies And Paint. I want to say, one more time though, that I feel, while virtual programs like this are great, they cannot take the place of real life learning and experiencing nature.
When your child has spent time observign they will often run up to you to share what they have seen. Allow them to share, uninterrupted, because it iwll let you know that, yes, they are learning..and it iwll strengthen the bonds of communication. Let them talk now, and when they are 16 they will be talking as well! You might suggest that the child draw what he has seen and when he does..VOILA! His very first entry in his nature notebook. πŸ™‚
There, that was easy!
This blog has some beautiful nature photography…Progressive Homeschool

Self Directed Learning For Teens

Matt training Hope

The biggest temptation I have always had as my kids enter the high school years is to stop and grab curriculum so that I am comfortable that they are progressing at an *average * rate.
WAIT! I don’t WANT them to be average! That is why I am homeschooling!
I came across this fabulous article on self directed learning for high school,Self Directed Learning by Wes Beach. In it he totally reminded me why I began doing what I am doing in the first place!
Throughout our lives we will learn whether we are trying to or not. It is impossible for our brains to not take in stimuli around us. Right now I am typing, listening to Andre Reu on PBS t.v show that the youngest 3 are watching, listening to the older kids talking as they clean the kitchen…and wondering what a particular bird call I am hearing is. I am taking in information and processing it all the time. If one f the kids comes in right now and starts talking to me about something I am not interested in I will not hear it, altho I may respond without realizing it. When we try to teach our children something they are not ready for or interested in some of it might get through. Most of it probably won’t.
The 8 year old that was struggling with words last year and reading Box Car Children a month ago is now reading Eregon, easily a high school level book. He is interested in it so he reads it.
Don’t discount the things your kids are learning by just living. If they are sittng around watching Bonanza all day or playing Halo you have bigger problems in your school that self directed learning. Trust them to find their way to the things they really need to learn and you be the biggest cheerleader they have.
The world needs more cheerleaders.

Keeping A Journal or Blog For High School Credit

I mentioned on my other post that I have my kids keep a blog for credit. I don;t really cadr so much what they actually write about, only that they DO write. I also tend to get harsher with them as time goes on about spell check, grammar, and content.
My older kids love to create websites and chat boards. You can create a free chatboard at sites like, Proboards. Really it gives them good experience in web design, html codes and such. In fact, my 13 year old has gotten so good at it that his friends are hiring him to create boards for them! LOL.
The computer is here to stay, at least until some major catastrophe happens …and our kids really need to be computer literate. Being able to blog, design websites, market their traffic to the site…all of this is going to be helpful later on.
A cool site is Homeschool Blog Awards. This is were you can find links to some of the best blogs out there. It can be frustrating to find homeschool blogs that have the content you want because so many of us post randomly about our lives! This is a good way to narrow it down if you are looking for a particular subject.
It is going ot be 104 today. I say this, just as a random fact. The news said it will feel like 109. Oh. Joy. πŸ™‚ I imagine it will be a swim in the creek day. It is hot and sticky all ready. I am so ready for winter.
Please remin me of that when I am complaining that I cannot type with frozen fingers.

Dissecting High School English

Basically high school subjects are chopped up into the following catagories (not in order):
grammar, American Literature, EuropeanLiterature, creative writing, vocabulary
Geography, world history, government, american history
biology 1 & 2, chemistry, physics
Algebra, geometry, algebra 2, trigonometry/calculus
foreign language:
2 years
Physical Education:
2 years
The rest of the credits would be made up with classes tailored to the needs and interests of the student; art, computer, home ec, drafting, and of course my personal favorite, early release (which meant I got out of school by noon the last 2 years of high school).
Most of that is pretty straight forward but english, if you are not using textbooks, can be daunting.
Hopefully by high school your student has been reading voraciously and knows proper sentence structure by instinct. I have seen that in my kids-the more they read the better they wrote. If not, a program like Winston Grammar and Winston Grammar Advanced can be very good. It is easy enough to take a 4th grader through, only lasts about 6 weeks, and encompasses all learning styles even audio.( If you have an audio learner have them say the part of speech outloud as they lay the cards down.). Once they have finished that they really don’t need any more grammar, just make sure that they review the information once in awhile so that it stays fresh. Literature, both American and European, is also pretty easily done. There are numerous book lists on the internet, here is one that is by no means all inclusive but it gives you an idea. I like to have them read the book and then I causally ask them what they think as they are reading it…Usually while we are getting a meal, cleaning, or someother thing that doesn’t seem *school* related. It is easier to spark discussion if the student doesn’t think he is being assessed on the information.
Vocabulary can be done in a variety of ways. We have a game called, Balderdash, that is fun and teaches vocabulary quite well. Learning latin and greek roots will be helpful, in fact I require it.
Creative writing is one of those subjects that will cause you to be incedibly happy and satisfied with your high schooler (oh look, my 9th grader just had his first novel published!) or deeply depressed (no, 4 words does NOT make a paragraph). If you have the former congratulations and go away. We don;t want you here. πŸ™‚ However, if you have the latter there are some ways around it.
You need to rethink your definition of creative writing. Again, what is your purpose? Most of the time we are not looking for kids that write novels but for kids that can communicate effectively. Not many employers require a 4 page creative writing project. So creative writing becomes:
employment application
informative report
grocery list
essay questions and answers
reviews on books, movies, and video games
a blog
a journal
letters of every kind, from asking for information to complaining effectively.
and more.

It isn’t so hard when you break it down. Personally I have my older kids start blogs. Now, don’t be too impressed because the two that have blogs (13 & 15)haven’t written in them since May (remember we have had the summer from hell) but here are the links:
(and remember, I want them to WRITE I am not so concerned about what or how at this point.)Die Catfishing, Ryu Warrior.
Yeah, you can probably tell where their interests lie. πŸ™‚
You know, I try to find other blogs to link here so that you can get someone else’s view on the subject but they seem to be hard to find this morning!
I will try again later..I must head out to feed the horses and chickens and goats…and get my day started. be blessed!

High School Notebooking

This is an easy way to keep track of what your high schooler is learning. Basically your high schools student will write their own textbooks.
You need to get the 3 ring binders with the plastic cover that you can slide pictures into. Have the student, for now, just write the name of what it is that will be contained in the notebnook…Let’s say, biology.
Now, every time he does something related to biology study he will make a picture, a diagram, a report, a photo collage, or whatever, and put it into the notebook. Everytime he reads a related book he will add it to the book list and put it in the notebook. Everytime he watches a documentary on biology he will write it on the media list and put it into the book. A visit to the doctor can end up being rather educational if you ask many questions..and that *interview* would go into the book.
Get in the habit, and get your kids in the habit, of taking alot of pictures to document what you are doing. It is surprising, or it was to me, how much itme we spent actually learning things-far more than the 6 hours I used think of as *school*.
There is some excellent information on notebooking if you google it…
Home Hearts is a fabulous site with lots of information.
Notebooking Pages is an awesome resource with information AND materials!
A + Homeschooling has alot of information as well as information for different types of notebooks.
SO there you are. Note-booking is and excellent way for a student, especially a high school student, to learn. It encompasses all of the learning styles, it’s creative, and it is fun!
And it is great to thrust those boxes of old notebooks on them when they get married and move out!

Diploma? G.E.D.? How To Decide

A Day In the Life of a Homeschooler
It is a question I am asked alot.
It is very important to understand what a diploma is. A diploma merely states that a student has successfully completed someone’s study plan. SOmeone could be the state, a private school, or a parent.
A G.E.D. will officially tell people that the student is every bit as ready to graduate as the kid next door coming out of the public high school.
Normally your child is not going to need a G.E.D. When is the last time you had to flash someone your diploma when you went for a job interview?
The United States Military only requires a diploma…except the Marine Corps that has not, in the past, accepted a homeschool diploma. As far as I know, at this writing, the Marine Corps requires either a G.E.D. or Jr College for homeschoolers. My son has had a very successful 3 years (so far) in the Air Force and did it with only the diploma I issued him. πŸ™‚
I do always suggest that you do give at least a diploma to signify the end of high school. It is special that way, a turning point.

More On Socialization

I thought I was done witht his subject but this morning I was checking out blogs in an effort to pretend I was so busy I could not clean the kitchen (working so far!) and I came across a blog I had not read before but will be reading more of..Doc’s Sunrise Rants has a fabulous post about socialization and what it is and what it is not. I am so tempted to post all of it but you just need to check it out so I will post teasers here… yeah I know..not a term I like to use but it works.

Children are often bullied into associations with only members of their same sex, until puberty, at which time those associations are then deemed unnatural and replaced by the pressure to become sexual.

When the concept of schooling became a governmental authority, it ceased being a process by which students learned HOW to learn and became an assembly line of conformity.

and there is more..Oh my GOSH! I am so stoked over this post. I felt like yelling “YEAH!” as I was reading it.

How Do I Count Credits For High School? and Other Dilemmas

me 1978
Yep that really is me. 1978. ANd yes, that IS a Dorothy Hamill cut, thank you for noticing.
One of the scariest things about homeschooling through highschool is the idea that if you mess up your child will forever be an illiterate ignoramous and never move out.
You can probably relax on that one. You have doen a great job so far, right? πŸ™‚ There is, however, alot more record keeping that needs to be done and it can feel overwhelming if you have been a more relaxed type of homeschooler to this point. By ninth grade you will need to start counting credits and keeping track of grades. These are items that colleges, even Jr. Colleges are goin to want to see..really it isn’t that hard. Stop crying. Try breathing into a paper bag…there.
Credit hours are actually pretty simple. If you use a text book you can just count completion of the text as one credit. So, completing Apologia Biology, for example, would be 1 science credit. Math U See Algebra would be 1 math credit. That is pretty straight forward and that is why alot of homeschoolers move to curriculums like Switched on Schoolhouse which is computer based, or Abeka type textbook based curriculum even if they have been unschooling to this point. You just go to a website like Donna Young’s Homeschool Printables and print the transcript form and then fill it in.
But….why, if you have unschooled/relaxed schooled to this point and it has been working for you, would you want to change? There IS another way to count credits. You all ready know that there are alot of ways to learn things. Discussion, dvd’s, t.v. shows like Nova, and even real life experiences. You start thinking more about how much time your high school homeschooler is spending doing things and what he is learning while doing it. Then you divide that up into credit hours. The amount of credit hours required to make a full credit varies by each state so check your state but a good rule of thumb is 150 hours per credit. Let’s look at that.
Let’s say that Huck is working on a Biology credit. He loves to fish, so he heads out to the creek for an hour and catches a couple of nice bass. He comes home and cleans the fish and gets them ready for me to cook for dinner. He notices that there are eggs inside and he draws them in his nature notebook and does some research online on reproduction in bass. Later he watches an hour of Nova, which happens to be about the South American Rain Forest and the ecological balance there. He writes about it in his blog.
How does that translate into a credit hour or hours?
Fishing-1 hour…he was observing nature, he was doing physical activity, he was involved in practicing life skills.
Cleaning the fish- biology, dissection, home ec
Researching the eggs-computer skills, biology, english (researching skills), art
Nova-biology, Earth Science, English/writing skills, computer skills, geography

I would give him 2 hours toward science, .5 hour toward home ec/life skills, 1 hour toward computer, 1 hour toward geography and .5 hour toward english.
Now, if he goes fishing every single day he does not get the same point for doing the same things..he will get P.E. points for it but nothing else unless he does something new.
You can keep track of the hours many ways. Just a weekly diary with a list of the subjects and the number of hours spent on them is fine.
I can hear the next question…”But how do I GRADE that?” You know your high school student better than anyone. You can have them keep a journal of what they are learning and assess it or you can just discuss with them, through the course of the day what they are learning. You know how much effort they are putting into it, and how much they are getting out of it. You are capable of creating a grade out of that information. I know you are. πŸ™‚

On the company Porch has some great information on high school here, as well as some interesting links.
And there are some really good articles at Crosswalk
Need I say it? Maytag Repair Man contest ends tonight at midnight.

But Can I Homeschool High School???

The answer is a resounding YES! I know that I have talked about this before but as the new school year is ominously upon us I think it bears repeating. Plus, when you are my age repitition is a given.
I think I have said that we have homeschooled continuously since 1989. Do the math..I am still drinking my coffee…I think that adds up to a long time. We started out with our eldest child, Erin, pulling her out of second grade part way through the year. There is a long and heart rending story behind that I will share some time. In any case I found myself, at age 29, with a 7 year old and a 4 year old at home and rather than preparing to re-launch my career as an artist once the youngest was in school I was stepping off on my homeschool journey (insert appropriate music here). I had no clue that God was about to throw my life up in the air and allow it to fall in a completely different pattern.
Fast forward seven years. 1996. I have a 14 year old, an 11 year old, a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a new baby. And I am faced with the fact that all my friends that had homeschooled to this point, all my kids friends, were moving into high school mode and gravitating toward public and private schools. You know that was one of the hardest years I have ever had for many reasons but the feeling of being abandonned by my peers was oddly intense. I wasn’t sure I could continue but I knew that the choice to put them in school, for us anyway, was a mistake.
I used a unit study curriculum called Far Above Rubies for my daughter, Erin. In retrospect I think I would have just allowed her to pick and choose, as I am with my current high school student, Matt (also known as Huck or Thoreau) . However it was varied and it introduced her to many things and ideas. She realized, one summer, that she had a fascination with Marine Biology (not the same fascination I had had with it at age 22 when I married a Marine, by the way) and read literally every book in our small library on the subject. We called around and found her a volunteer job at the Dallas Aquarium and she gathered information by leaps and bounds. She honed her interest in photography. She helped at church and at home. She became my best friend. ANd she turned out reasonably well adjusted for having such an odd mom.
Chris hit adolescence with a vengence and some of that was due to a heart rending story I wll not share here. He has had a fascination with planes since he was small and by this timeit had turned into a passion. We got him involved in Civil Air Patrol and he did very well, having a solo flight at age 15 with only 8 hours instruction. He is now in his last year of commitment to the Air Force. It looks like he will not re-inlist at this point but that could change. He spent time in Iraq and, like Erin, he has done well.
This is a picture from last Christmas when he was home on leave. It is the first time that Kyrie was old enough to really bond with him and remember him. That is both good and bad since she now asks when he is coming home….daily.
I am not sorry that I stuck it out through highschool.

There are books that can help. I really suggest Senior High A Home Designed Form-U-La. I know it has probably gone through numerous changes since I used it way back in the 90’s but it changed the way I thought and gave me confidence. I learned about transcripts and forms, grading and recording credit hours.
I am going to spend the next couple of days on high school helps because I think it is so sad that people invest their lives in homeschooling their children up to a certain age and then stop…the frustrations are great but the rewards are greater. Maybe you will still want to put them in school but at least you will have been educated in other possibilities.
Check these out..

High school helps
Home School OasisBarb Shelton’s site
O.k..I have to head out to take Marc ot the VA Hospital..Yes . Again. πŸ™