After the family vacations, barbecues and fireworks have died down, it’s time to prepare for another year of homeschool. “Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success,” according to sage-like advice from Henry Ford. This is especially true of homeschooling as we take full responsibility for our child’s education. Here is a checklist of activities to help you enter the new school year more prepared than ever.
• Read curriculum reviews at: homeschoolreviews.com, homeschool-curriculum.org, homeschooling.gomilpitas.com, cathyduffyreviews.com, and time4learning.com.
• Buy new curriculum on Amazon, Craigslist, Ebay, or your avenue of choice.
• Try the library for curriculum ideas with books like 52 Nature Adventures for City Kids and Playful Learning.
• Choose a few fall extracurricular activities. You may choose acting camp, nature camp, art camp, or look into your local history museum’s programming.
• Begin a list of field trips. You can attend concerts, plays, go to the local botanical gardens, visit a science center, visit a dairy farm, and plan a few seasonal / holiday outings.
• Look for flash cards, books, board games, and art supplies at garage sales.
• Read up on the art of homeschooling. Try: 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, Homeschooling for Dummies and The Homeschoolers Book of Lists.
• Revise the kids’ chore chart and your daily activities schedule.
• Ask your kids what they want to learn about or do this this year. It may be making music videos for YouTube and it could be Krav Maga. At any rate it will be an interesting and fun year.
• Add volunteer opportunities with a local charity to the year.
At the end of the day, your kids will be well-rounded if you can pack a lot of diversity into their days. You not only want them to have a strong educational foundation, but you also want to prepare them for real world tasks, introduce them to the arts, and instill a spirit of giving that will transform them into warm-hearted adults. With homeschool you really cater the education to the needs of the child… something you just can’t do with most public and private school options.
What exciting plans do you have for homeschool this year?
Lately, it just looks like a whole lot of play…
December was a short “school” month obviously so I do not have as much to report as far as cool new-to-me resources. But I do have a few.
I find that we are not using the Oak Meadow curriculum I bought. I guess even that is too structured for me. I think we are basically a mix of eclectic homeschoolers and unschoolers and we tend to learn in units and based upon our interests. We don’t feel like tackling each subject every week (or month) or often times we want to incorporate those subjects into other ones and learn by doing. For some things I like textbooks and book reading and for others I like worksheets and labs.. history, math, science. Writing and spelling happen by doing the first three. So we have been using some of the resources below and using some more unconventional means of learning. We have been taking hikes a couple times a week and identifying birds, trees, and other aspects of nature. I signed my son up for Art lessons at a local studio, plan to enroll him in a gym class with personal trainer, and we visit the zoo or the science museum to see the exhibits, due sponsored activities, or take in the latest IMAX documentary. A documentary on The Great Lakes and one on Geckos is coming up. This week he is going to a Monster Truck Jam. I swear the kid knows all the trucks and drivers as well as what they have going on mechanically.
One interest lead unit we just completed lasted from November through December. My son wanted to study up on Bearded Dragons. He read library books about them, did Internet research, watched YouTube videos, and learned as much as he could about these reptiles. Then he did a display project all about them… what they eat, where they come from, the conditions in which they live, how to care for them ,ect.
Then we ended the unit by buying him a Bearded Dragon and the needed setup. The Bearded Dragon was a gift for doing such great research and he worked for and paid for much of the needed gear. My husband managed to get some great deals for him. The 20 gallon starter tank, lid, and UVB light were only $10 at an auction!
Meet Sammy… I have to say I was not anxious to bring a Bearded Dragon into the home but he/she is a cutie!
We have also taken a step beyond our unit study and my son has started (with my help) a blog all about Bearded Dragons. The education continues as he writes and makes videos for YouTube and his blog.
Homeschool is Cool Resources
History Odyssey: Ancients – We are loving this history curriculum. It essentially uses the books pictured at the top of this post… The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1:, and History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations, as well as several books we can get via the library. All of these resources are beyond excellent and can be used in conjunction without the History Odyssey curriculum but I like how it is presented and executed.
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History – This book gets its own section because it ROCKS! The photos are beautiful, the info is wonderful, and it has Internet links that accompany each section that you can explore for fun stuff and more info. The section on Ancient Egypt for example has links to a resource for helping you recreate an Egyptian board game that young Egyptian kids would have played. Also a link to a place where your child can type in their name and see how it is spelled in hieroglyphs. This book could be a stand alone curriculum!
Educaching – We haven’t tried this yet but it is on our too-get list. We do not have a GPS device as of right now but we have wanted one for awhile so we can start doing geocaching which is to use a GPS to find hidden caches. It has become a popular past time and this is the first curriculum to pop up that caters to the idea. It uses geocaching to teach math, science, and social lessons. Any curriculum that requires hiking and exploring sounds good to me!
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain – Good book alert! My son and I enjoyed this book as he read to us. William Dufris’s homey voice invites listeners to settle in for a favorite family story. As Jonathan’s mother plans for a family christening celebration, she realizes that only Aunt Emma’s pot is large enough to hold stew for 20 relatives and that only Jonathan can be spared from the farm work to fetch the cauldron. Dufris coordinates his pacing and mood to Jonathan’s trek over the mountain–speedy and jaunty as Jonathan sets off reciting his mantra “there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain,” poky as Jonathan stops to feed forest animals, and elongated and exaggerated as darkness falls. How alone IS Jonathan as he hides under the pot to wait for help?
Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities to Turn Travel Time into Learning Time – Admittedly we don’t drive so much that we need to make travel learning a big concern. But travel fun is always good right? Once every other week we do usually make a trek up North to visit with grandparents so this book has been nice for ideas. Mostly it is full of games that you can play on the road like Backseat Spelling Bee or Highway Hangman… good stuff.
This article on Making Curriculum Work for You from the Weird, Unsocialized, Homeschoolers blog.
This will likely be a new monthly feature here as I chronicle our homeschool adventures. I have found so many wonderful new resources or fallen in love once again with ones I used previously. Even if you don’t homeschool these could provide you with some great weekend activities too.
One thing I have noticed about the Oak Meadow curriculum I am using is that it, at this point anyway, is more like an outline rather than a full curriculum. Instead of giving you concrete lesson plans it gives you ideas or general instructions on what to do and what to teach. Thus I spend 30 minutes reading through the weekly lesson and then finding other resources to make it all happen. I am essentially using Oak Meadow as a guide while I create my own curriculum or utilize parts of other curricula. In this way it is very similar to K12 but K12 went a step beyond and gave you EVERYTHING you need, word for word, activity by activity. I would rather the loose structure of Oak Meadow but it also has me thinking I could just create my own piecemeal curriculum next year since I am kind of doing that anyway. We shall see. I do admit that I might be slightly lost since I started mid year and many of the current lessons are referring back to concepts and material we haven’t covered. Thus I skip those and do my own thing.
Anyway, here is my “cool resources” list for the month of November:
Pandia Press – LOVE, love love, their R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey curricula. They have 3 basics areas of study.. Earth and Space, Life, and Chemistry. We are working our way through the Earth & Space book right now and it has 12 unit studies and corresponding lab projects for each unit. Weather and Seasons for instance (Unit One) has six labs. It is VERY much a learn science by doing it method of study. PERFECT for my son.
I just ordered the History Odyssey (Ancients) as well so it looks as though we may be using Pandia for Science and History. The only issue I see with the History curricula is that it requires several other books, some of which are kind of pricey and not available at the library. I will have to use it for awhile and see if we can work around that. But again, since we are jumping into this mid year I think this will help with our history lessons.
BrainPop – Educational videos on tons of different topics. My son really enjoys them.
Handwriting Practice Worksheets – My son really likes to write and he enjoys copy work. I was psyched to find these handwriting booklets in various topics that interest him… ala Titanic. This is a GREAT resource. FREE too!
Netflix – Their streaming video service is wonderful for homeschoolers! There are an absolute ton of educational videos from documentaries about dinosaurs and WWII bombers to the Holocaust. Oh and plenty of documentaries and videos about the Ancients like Greece and Egypt.
Drawspace – Great tutorials and activities for art and drawing instruction.
Home Spelling Words – Lists of spelling words by grade and by week. This is very handy since Oak Meadow doesn’t provide spelling words for you.
Passport Template – I am going to teach social studies and geography by living it instead of by the book. We will taking an “imaginary” trip once or twice a month and I wanted a passport to stamp during our travels and found this one. During our travels we will be cooking food from that region of the world and observing their customs.
So what wonderful homeschool resources have you found lately? Please share!
I am homeschooling again! Is it weird that I am the one most excited about it? Well, anyway a move and the many, many issues at the local school have given my oldest son and I reason to decide that homeschooling is in his best interests. This go round I have smartened up and decided NOT to use an online curriculum. Yes it kept me accountable and yes we knew exactly what to do and when to do it but it was so stressful and felt more like 5-6 daily hours of grueling homework rather than a relaxed school at home environment. This time I have decided to use Oak Meadow for our curriculum (with no online support). I bought a used syllabus on eBay and it is quite perfect for us I think… it has a slight Waldorf feel to it and it is no wonder because the creators of this curriculum were Waldorf teachers.
Also this time around I will not be his only teacher. I was VERY put out recently by my husband’s employer when they decided to switch him to second shift. I think I am going to be grumpy about it for a loooong time to come BUT it will mean my husband is home every day to help out with homeschooling. So I guess that is a bit of a silver lining.
One thing I have done this week is re-subscribe to all my favorite homeschooling blogs. I missed them so!! I prefer secular blogs but don’t mind a little Christian slant as long as it isn’t ONLY about that. Here is a list of my favorites.
1. Simple Homeschool – This blogs has several writers and lots of great info on keeping homeschool simple and organized. Today’s post was all about Circle Time, which is a part of the Oak Meadow philosophy.
2. The Homeschool Classroom – Every post is FULL of great resources and links.
3. The Curriculum Choice – This blog seems to center more on homeschool product reviews which is really helpful. it gives me ideas for new tools and resources.
4. Magic and Mayhem – This blog by homeschooling mom Alicia is awesome. I read it daily and wonder where does she get the energy?!? I love that much of their learning seems to take place by doing and living rather than by completing worksheets.
5. Stitching Life – Great project ideas on this blog. I bookmarked the Scream artwork post because I think my little artist would really enjoy that.
6. Teach Mama – MANY great projects and resources including many posts on outdoor learning.
Do you have any to add?