Category Archives: Planning

2014-2015 in Review

Standard

(This post contains referral links. If you click on a referral link, I earn a small commission. Thank you for your support!)

Crestview Heights Academy School Year in Review 2014-2015Crestview Heights Academy School Year in Review 2014-2015Crestview Heights Academy School Year in Review 2014-2015Crestview Heights Academy School Year in Review 2014-2015

Whew! It is hard to believe how fast this school year has flown! We are almost to the end of our year, and I am deep into planning our next school year. I would have to say that this was one of our best years yet. We got a lot accomplished! And it turned out that high school isn’t so bad after all. Smile

Here are some thoughts and comments on the past year and the curricula that we used:

I have worked hard this year at simplifying and organizing. I have a lot I want to do this summer, but I do have to say that it has made our year easier. I have declutter a lot of extra items and gotten much more organized with regular cleaning chores. My Well Planned Day planner bears testament to the fact that I am using it regularly as well.

Curriculum

We used some favorites this past year and then added some new ones into the mix. As my kids get older, I am learning more and more what works for them. That means that I hit the mark with the curriculum choices more often!

Bible:

Boo had lessons with my mom, read her Bible, listened to teachings, and went to Bible study each week. We are working her into a more adult-style way of using her faith.

Buddy read from his Bible and worked on AWANA memory verses.

Language:

Boo used Applications of Grammar this year. I love this curriculum for her because it is thorough, but easy for me to use. She is my traditional-style schooler, so workbooks are a good fit for her. I put together a literature curriculum for her, and she made it through all of the books. She doesn’t love reading, so that was quite a feat for us! I did allow her to listen to a couple of the books on mp3 from Librivox just to shake things up a bit and make it easier. And she also looked up and defined a number of vocabulary words.

Buddy used All About Reading and All About Spelling again this year. I can’t say enough about this series. His reading has improved dramatically since we started using them. It fits right in with his right-brained, artistic mindset. He also did choice independent reading, and I read aloud several books to him.

Math:

Boo used Math-U-See and finished up Pre-Algebra and is working her way quickly through Algebra 1. We took some extra time last year to make sure she had a solid foundation before we got into higher-level math, and that time has shown this year.

Buddy is still doing some Math-U-See as well, but we have moved onto Life of Fred for most of his Math work. The quirky stories fit his learning style very well. I am very happy with this choice and ordered the next few books for next year.

Science:

Boo completed Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology from Dr. Jay Wile. With the exception of microorganisms, which is necessary but not really our interest, we loved this book. I worked with her on this one most days, and we both learned so much. We had a lot of fun with the experiments, as well.

Buddy worked through two of Apologia’s Zoology books. He will finish the third one next year. He preferred the land animals one, but had fun with them both. His favorite activity was the candy activity that showed how camouflage works!

Social Studies:

Boo studied World Geography using lessons I created using several books. The base for the study was DK’s Geography of the World book. With tons of full-color photos and information, I felt like she got a really good overview of the world. She also completed maps and did some reading from Operation World. I intended for her to do more hands-on activities, such as cooking and art, but we just ran out of time. I do think those activities would have been helpful in learning about the cultures, though.

Buddy also studied geography, with a brief look at each continent, some map activities, and study in geographical terms. I used books from the library, and the online games Stack the States and Stack the Countries to work with him, too.

Arts:

Boo worked hard for her music performance credit this year. She had a solo in our church program and sang solos and duets for other events. She has had several years of piano lessons. This year she has begun working on accompanying someone singing for praise and worship.

Buddy had piano lessons and a speaking role in our church program. He also had an art lesson each week and is learning to draw.

P.E.:

Both of my kids spend many hours practicing for ball and playing games. Boo spend some time at the YMCA working out, and both kids do Wii Fit. I am hoping to improve on P.E. next year, because Buddy will be old enough to go upstairs at the Y and  use the treadmills and other machines.

Other:

Boo used online programs to learn some Spanish and for Keyboarding. I liked the Keyboarding program, but will add some bookwork in for Spanish 2.

Co-op:

We had a great year at co-op. Both of the kids were in a wonderful poetry class and completed books of their own poems. They also had a creative writing class and wrote short stories. It stretched them both and was fun as well. They also learned some Spanish from the Spanish pastor at the church that hosts co-op. Buddy enjoyed a study on pioneer days. Both kids had choir.

All-in-all, this was a good school year. I am happy with what we accomplished, but I have some goals for next year. I am hoping to have both kids work a little more independently so that working with them one at a time will be easier. And I am hoping to have some more hands-on activities for our studies in World History (Boo) and Ancient History (Buddy). For now, though, we are going to enjoy a summer break and some ball games!

Advertisements

Are We Done Yet?

Standard

Crestview Heights Academy Are We Done Yet?

It’s that time of year again for us. We are finishing up books and the end is in sight! Every homeschool family is different. For some of you, your school year may follow the regular school calendar, like ours does. Others school year-round or follow a different schedule. Still, at some point, you get to the place where your year is DONE!

When I plan out our next school year each spring, I always keep in mind the changing seasons. I know to plan a little lighter around the holidays and in the spring, when we have started ball season and I’m on to planning the next year. But, at some point, we are just DONE. All capital letters. And DONE doesn’t always mean the books are completely finished. Believe me, school teachers across America are DONE in the next few weeks, too, whether the books are finished or not.

So, how do you know if your school year is done?

  • If you or your kids are hanging from the chandelier, your school year may be done.
  • If you can’t stomach the idea of correcting one more paper, you may be done.
  • If the warm spring air is calling your name, you may be done.
  • If you have all of your books, workbooks, worksheets, and every activity you planned for the year complete, you are DEFINITLY done…and probably deserve some kind of medal! Smile

Here’s a truth about schooling in the public or private school: most curriculum is designed to review much of what was learned the year before in the first few weeks of the new school year. And much of what is learned is repeated multiple times before a student graduates. It is okay to take a look at your books and decide what doesn’t need to be completed before you end your year. Is there anything that will be reviewed the next year? And, as homeschoolers, there is no reason we can’t just pick up where we left off in a book the next year. I’ve done that several times with our Math curriculum. For other curricula, I contemplate whether we will miss anything if we don’t finish it.

To be clear, please be sure that you are completing everything the state requires of you. I am not recommending that you ignore your responsibility to educate your children. But if you have completed your requirements and are pressing on to finish a book or list of activities simply to get them done, rethink that plan. Is every chapter, every book, every worksheet or activity really necessary? If not, your school year may simply be DONE.

Hands-On Learning with Field Trips

Standard

Homeschooling allows us to provide our children with a unique, tailor-made education. And what better way to provide this than to give our children real-life opportunities to learn? Real-life learning can take many forms, including chores and life skill lessons, jobs, ministry, and apprenticeships. Arguably one of the best methods of real-life learning is taking a field trip. It certainly is one of the most fun!

You can use field trips to add to your curriculum in a number of ways. For example, our family will be taking a road trip this summer from here in the Midwest to sunny California. We decided to take a side trip and visit Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon on the way. Not only will this allow me to check a couple of things off my bucket list, but it will be a great jumpstart to our studies next year. Boo will be studying world history using Exploring World History from Notgrass, and Buddy will be spending the year in ancient history with Ancient Civilizations and the Bible from Diana Waring.

There are many reasons field trips make education more memorable. Field trips:

  1. Can show students a variety of occupations they may be interested in pursuing. Consider a trip to a newspaper office, bank, sports arena, hospital, farm, veterinarian’s office, dentist, or factory, among others.
  2. Allow opportunities for hands-on, interactive learning. Many historical sites have learning experiences, and some have lessons and programs that you can attend. Try historical locations, science museums, and children’s museums.
  3. Give students the ability to see artwork, fossils, and artifacts close up. Even small towns often have local museums, and larger ones will likely have a natural history or art museum.
  4. Show children how and where the government works. Locally, try your police department or city government offices. Consider visiting your country seat or the state capital as well. Many states also have tours of their governor’s mansions. And, if possible, a trip to Washington, D.C. can be a fantastic adventure.
  5. Get you out of a rut. Sometimes we can get bored with just the same old, same old every day. Taking a field trip can breathe life into your school year.
  6. Make a great wrap-up activity. After you have spent some time reading about and studying a topic, taking a field trip can bring the topic to life.

Crestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field Trips

Crestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field Trips

Crestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field TripsCrestview Heights Academy Hands-on Learning with Field Trips

Considering the fact that there are so many fantastic reasons to take a field trip, why don’t you start planning one today?

When It Doesn’t Go As Planned

Standard

I love to plan.

I mean, I love it. So much so, that I actually begin planning for the next year as soon as we start the previous one. It’s the actual carrying out of my plans that I sometimes struggle with. I think there are two reasons for that. First of all, it’s a character flaw that I fought even before I was a homeschooling mom. But even more, I think it is because, no matter how well I plan—no matter how much time I put into it or how hard I try to meet every one of my children’s educational needs and learning styles—my plans don’t always work out the way I had “planned” (pun intended). And, I’ll be honest, this is disappointing.

I remember one of my early years of homeschooling. I had spent several months picking out the “perfect” curricula and supplies, writing out wonderful plans, copying, stapling, and hole-punching. The night before we began our new year, I stayed up late, carefully laying out each book and activity. My children had been begging for several days to start the year and use those brand new books. We woke up early and began our lessons with bright shining faces . . . and less than two hours later I already heard groans and even an, “I’m bored.” I was crushed. Didn’t they realize I had spent all of that time working hard for them? By noon I really wanted to lock myself in my bedroom and have a good cry.

I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. I used to imagine the “perfect” homeschool day with my children gathered around me as I serenely read to them from one of my favorite books. We would gleefully traipse through the woods collecting leaf specimens. And my children would willingly and obediently complete Spencerian handwriting worksheets and read out of The McGuffey Original Readers. In spite of all my planning, it never did turn out that way.

So, what have I learned about planning?

1. My plan always goes much better if I ask God what his plan is first. (Tweet this!) This is something I need to constantly remind myself. He helps me see through things to find the best way of doing something. When I listen to him first, our school days always go better.

2. My plan is my plan. I cannot copy someone else’s plan, no matter how wonderfully it works for them. While I can certainly glean wisdom from those with more experience, they do not have my children, nor do they have my schedule.

3. My plan needs to take into account my children’s personalities and learning styles. I have one child that does not sit still and another that learned to read standing on her head. I simply cannot plan marathon reading lessons or expect them to be quiet for hours. It frustrates us all.

4. My plan should not be written in stone. It is merely a guide. If it isn’t working, I change it. Now, sometimes I do train my children to do something they don’t really like, or punish them for rudeness—but if what we are doing really isn’t working, I put it on the shelf, sell it, or give it away. It is not worth it!

5. My plan needs to be written in pencil. Rarely do we complete a whole week exactly as I planned it.

Following this wisdom, my planning more often meets the mark. And when it doesn’t, I’ve learned to laugh, throw up my hands, and move on.

Originally published at hedua.com.

A Homeschooling Primer

Standard

So, you’re thinking about homeschooling. Maybe you have a tiny one, not yet in preschool, and you just know that this is what God is calling you to do. Maybe your friends homeschool. Maybe your child is registered to start Kindergarten at the local public school, but you have a niggling feeling that that isn’t what is right for him or her. Maybe you have a teenager, and something is going really wrong at school. You have to pull her NOW, and you just don’t know what to do.

Regardless of the reason, if you are just thinking about homeschooling, here is the nitty-gritty basics of what you need to know NOW to get started.

What to Do First

So, you have decided to homeschool. What do you need to do first? Unfortunately, the legal aspect needs to be taken care of immediately. Each state has its own idea of what this looks like, and it varies from low to high regulation, depending on where you live. Before you let that discourage you, let me assure that many, many people do this each year, so it is completely possible. But, unless you live in a state like Idaho, you will likely have to jump through some hoops in order to homeschool. In our state, we need to file several papers, including a proposed monthly hour count and a list of curriculum. If you aren’t sure what the requirements are for your state, you can check them out at HEDUA.

Be sure that you follow the letter of the law concerning your homeschooling paperwork. Do not pull a child out of school until you have completed whatever procedures are required, or you may be subject to truancy laws.

Find a Friend, Homeschooling Group, or Co-op

If you can find a veteran homeschooler in your community, it will help you immensely. For one thing, if you haven’t been at home full time before you may find it very lonely. Having another adult to talk to can be a real blessing. For another, she will understand the laws for your state and can help you navigate them (and if you live in a high regulation state you will especially appreciate this!). Most veterans are happy to lend a helping hand to a newbie, since they were there once themselves. If you don’t know any homeschoolers, try your local library. They often know families in the area that homeschool and can help you get in touch. If your area has a homeschooling group or co-op, get in contact with the leader. If you can’t find a local group, try searching for a state-wide group online. They will probably be aware of any smaller groups in your area.

After You File the Paperwork

Now that you have your paperwork filed, what should you do next? It’s time to decide what you are going to teach. If you are homeschooling a Kindergartener, this is pretty simple. Most of your child’s day should be spent exploring and learning in a very organic, natural way. Play dough, nature study, cooking lessons, listening to audio books, singing, listening to music, coloring, drawing, playing pretend. Lessons for a Kindergartener that require sitting and concentration should be short and include breaks in between. There are literally hundreds of homeschool sites online for early learning with free ideas and printables. If you want some regular curriculum as well, a basic language and math curriculum are really all you need.

If you are pulling an older child, your situation will probably be quite different. It depends on what caused you to pull your child, among other things. Leaving school, for whatever reason, will likely be emotional for your child. And, if you are pulling a child out of a bad situation, even more so. Allow both you and your child some grace in the early days. While you do need to teach-you have made a commitment to do so-you can still allow your child some time to ‘deschool.’ Others with more experience have written about this, but in short, take some time to read aloud, go on field trips, spend time outdoors, go on long walks, and TALK. Then, gradually add in school subjects. If you are pulling mid-year, you might consider continuing whichever courses your child was completing in school. But this is not absolutely necessary, so do what is easiest and best for your family.

Your state may have curriculum requirements as well. Ours requires language, math, social studies, science, and health. Start with those and Bible, if you intend to teach it, first. If your state doesn’t have subject requirements, start with Bible, then “reading, writing, and arithmetic,” and then move on to social studies and science. The extras can be filled in later. You can choose ready-made curriculum for the core subjects. We’ll discuss that in a minute. But, you can also use free resources online. There is a ready-made course of study for each grade at World Book Encyclopedia that is helpful for creating your own curriculum.

Finding Resources

There is so much homeschool curriculum out there that it can be overwhelming. As a beginner, know that no curriculum is perfect. If you find yourself emergency homeschooling in the middle of the year, keep it simple. One tendency of beginning homeschoolers is to think that they have to do it all, teach it all, and not miss anything. As a former classroom teacher, let me assure you that even the best public school teachers skip things, miss things, or run out of time to finish a book before the end of the year.

Ask homeschooling friends (or online groups) what curriculum they use. Get their input, but don’t choose it just because it is what your friend uses. Choose what you think will be best for you and your child. Also, know that most homeschoolers make choices in curriculum at some time-often more than once-in their homeschooling career that they are not happy with. It is perfectly acceptable to realize that something isn’t working for you, ditch it, and find something else.

Here are some of my favorite resources for purchasing curriculum:

Getting Ready to Teach

Now that you have your paperwork taken care of, decided what you are going to teach, and purchased curriculum, it’s time to prepare to teach. Spend some time looking through your curriculum. Then, set up a basic weekly schedule. Be flexible. It may take awhile to figure out what works best for you.

Set up a teaching area. For some families, that means a schoolroom. For others, it means a cupboard. For our family, we have a closet and a dresser that contain the majority of our “active” school supplies (we have bookshelves and boxes in the basement, and tubs in the attic for supplies we are not currently using). We mostly school at our kitchen table and in our living room, with the kids doing independent work in their bedrooms. If you are just beginning, start simple and allow yourself room to grow. You do not need a full-fledged classroom with a chalkboard and school desks. I repeat, you do not need a chalkboard and school desks. Start simple. A table or regular room desk will work just fine. If your child is like mine, you will spend most of your time sitting on the couch or floor anyway!

Once You’ve Gotten Started

After you have your homeschooling under way, it is helpful to learn more about homeschooling. There are many resources on this blog to help you, including my list of top homeschool how-to books.

A Final Note

If you are thinking of homeschooling, especially if you are considering pulling an older child, I’m guessing that you might feel overwhelmed right now. Take a deep breath. I want to encourage you that YOU CAN DO THIS! Just take it one step at a time and don’t worry about trying to make it look like what you think everyone else is doing. You will soon be the homeschooling veteran offering help to those who come after you.

 

 

 

Our 2014-2015 Homeschool Schedule

Standard

Our ballgame days are heading to the finish line, so I have been turning my attention to getting everything in order for the start of our new school year. I am planning to start the last week of August. While I actually have been doing some planning for months now, particularly for Boo’s high school classes, the next month is the time I focus a concentrated effort on it.  So far I have most of Buddy’s assignment’s scheduled and about half of Boo’s. Because I decided to write my own literature and geography curriculum for Boo (WHAT WAS I THINKING! Smile ), I am still working on writing up questions.

This year looks very different from other years. Between Boo being in high school, my working part time, and both kids becoming more independent, the kids will be doing more work independently of me and each other. This makes me a bit nostalgic for the days of working together on various projects and reading aloud, but I am also very excited about the different possibilities.

Our Schedule

Although this is our pen-and-paper (or in this case, word processor) schedule, one day rarely looks like another around here. I am also giving Boo the freedom to rearrange her independent classes to whatever suits her best. But this gives us a general guideline:

2014-2015 Schedule

 

Pink is Boo’s independent color, blue is Buddy’s. Boo with me is orange, Buddy with me is purple. All of us together is green. You can see that after 1 PM consists of independent work for the kids, which will allow me to get my own work done.

So, how about you? Do you make up a schedule? Is it very different this year or pretty much the same?

A One-of-a-Kind Blog Planner

Standard

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase planners through these links, I will receive a small commission. Thank you!

100_3085

 

One part of my job as assistant print editor at Home Educating Family is to help edit the planners that HEDUA sells. Because I edit them, I get to see them months before they are out in print. I could hardly wait to introduce the newest planner in HEDUA’s line-up, My Blog Plan, created by our CEO with the help of several other HEDUA staff members. And now it’s finally here!!!

Not only does My Blog Plan include plenty of space for planning out your blog, it contains twenty-one fantastic articles on topics such as affiliates, plug-ins, giveaways, media kits, and SEO–plus many others. As my friend Jenny says, it is the Mary Poppins of Blog Planners–practically perfect in every way!

Here is some of what is included:

  • pages for goal-setting and starting a blog
  • monthly at-a-glance pages
  • weekly planning pages
  • monthly pages for tracking reviews, giveaways, and income
  • evaluation pages

Here’s a peak inside:

100_3087100_3088100_3089100_3091

My Blog Plan is sure to have your blogging organized in no time! While you are purchasing your own My Blog Plan here, be sure to check out the other planners offered by Home Educated Family as well.