Non religious homeschooling from a scientific perspective.

Posts tagged ‘kids’

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Best Free Homeschooling Resources

Here begins the second instalment of my So you think you wanna homeschool series. In this post I’ll be sharing all of my favourite free to use curriculum sites. It’s a great way to get started and see what’s out there without spending a ton (or any!) money.  Once you’ve decided to make the jump into homeschooling you’ll quickly learn that there is a veritable plethora of curriculum options and it can be incredibly overwhelming.  Starting here will give you the chance to try some different ones out.

First on my list is one of the best maths and science programs out there, Khan Academy. It’s got instructional videos on every topic, progresses kids through their maths levels at their own pace and lets them collect points to level up their creature. What kid doesn’t love monster animals? They also send you a detailed report to your email each week so you can keep track of and see how much time your kids are spending on the program and what they are learning at the same time.

This next one has both a free and paid version. You can download and print out worksheets and sort them by grade level or subject. The aptly named Education.com has great paid for features as well, but I’m saving that info for another post.

Discoveryk12 is great for the busy parent who needs more time to work, either at home or away. Or has a larger group of children to teach, or babies who need constant attention. Everything is laid out on a 180 day schedule, meant to be used from September to June but children can start at any time of the year. They also recently added a grade specialising feature in which a child can take different subjects at different grade levels.  This all in one curriculum is very structured, not well suited to a parent looking to take a more relaxed approach.

The next two are amazing language learning resources;  Doulingo lets your child learn any number of foreign languages. My kids both do French as well one does Gaelic and the other Japanese. There’s a lot of reading involved in this program though so it’s only good for children who have learned to read independently unless you have the time to sit with your kids and read the lessons to them.  Lifeprint is an amazing resource for the whole family if you are interested in learning about the rich culture and language associated with American Sign Language and the deaf community.

Who doesn’t love a good spelling list? These ones are organised by grade level, easy to download with different activities for each day.  Free educational resources also has links for many other subjects.

In today’s world learning to use a computer and navigate the World Wide Web is important for anyone’s future career. That’s why it is important that kids learn to type quickly and efficiently. Dance Mat is great for introducing young children to the keyboard, it’s interactive and fun with cute cartoon characters and audio cues to let them know when they have made a mistake. Typing.com is better for older children, or those who have graduated the Dance Mat program. Like Khan Academy it allows kids to rack up points like a video game so they have tangible proof of their success and progress.

Music study is a great elective for any student and even if you aren’t musical yourself Opus Music Worksheets can help you give your child a basic understanding of how to read music. This can be great prep for a child heading into music lessons, or just interested in music and an understand of the musical language. There is also The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra run by the Carnegie Hall website, which is a great game kids can play to learn about the different instruments that make up an orchestra. My son has played through it probably 10 times!

Last on my list is a great blog with an even bigger collection of free resources. I told you this would be overwhelming. However it should be more than enough to keep you all busy for another week until the next instalment of So you think you wanna homeschool.

*Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

What about socialization? 

What is the number one question all homeschooling moms get asked when they mention that their children are homeschooled?

What about socialization?

I personally hate this question. Hate is a strong word and I don’t use it often but in this circumstance I feel like it is warranted. This is always the first question people ask when learning that my children are homeschooled. Which seems ridiculous to me for a number of reasons, the first being that homeschooling isn’t about socialization it’s about education! If you are going to make your opinion known about my choices for my kids shouldn’t you be more concerned with whether or not they are getting what they need intellectually?

Second and potentially most relevant is the idea that children can only achieve “proper” socialization by being surrounded by peers only within a year of their birth. Elementary education is the only time in a persons life in which they will socialize almost exclusively with people who are of the same age and educational level as themselves. In a life presumably that will last 80 years (at least), 8 years of elementary education represents only 10% of your life.

So why is the automatic assumption that if your children do not experience this 10% and instead spend that time interacting with a wide range of ages, education levels etc. they are somehow lacking? Why do people assume that homeschooled children spend their time locked inside the home and never interact with anyone else?

This assumption is laughable to me, and I would guess the same is true for most homeschooling moms. My children spend their time getting a quality education but also with others, my almost 14 year old daughter for example I didn’t see for most of the weekend. We communicated via text and phone calls but she left Saturday morning to go to the mall ended up going to the mall, park and swimming pool, sleeping over at a friends house and both girls were back here for much of Sunday afternoon. My son has friends within my circle of friends both very near his age and a couple of years out, he also plays on a local baseball team with girls and boys within 2 years of his age group. As well we make weekly trips to a local cafe where we do our lessons in their comfy lounge area and each get a treat (latte for mom, brownie for him). This gives him the opportunity to interact with friends of mine and their babies, as well as the cafe owner and other customers. It teaches him how behave in a public situation as well as how to interact with adults that are not family.

So please explain to me, what about socialization? Are my children missing out by not spending 6+ hours a day surrounded by other children within the same year of their birth? Are they missing out by not being bullied or picked on? Are they missing out by not being pressured to look or behave a certain way?

This is not an attack on tradition schooling but simply a look into the life of one homeschooling family that will hopefully open the eyes of those who fear for the socialization of homeschooled children. And maybe make you think twice before you ask the most popular question, what about socialization?

Summer fun time

Summer is almost here! I wrote about camping the other day as one of our family’s favourite summer time activities, but I wanted to write today about the unique circumstance of the approaching summer for our homeschooling family.

For most kids in more traditional schooling summer time means summer vacation, a whole 2 months to play outside, ride bikes, maybe go on a family get away. But what about for home-schooled kids. Does school time stop just because we’ve reached an arbitrary date on the calendar? I’m sure every family is different but the answer here is heck no!

2 months is a long time for a child and my biggest fear is watching all the work we’ve put in over the fall and winter come undone as kids proceed to play all day (which is great) and not exercise their brains. We definitely plan to dial it back for the summer, mostly because I don’t want to be a hindrance on their social lives, or mine! Both my kids have friends who aren’t home-schooled and so are looking forward to week time play dates and trips to the park, trips to the mall and movies for my older daughter who will be 14 just in time for this summer and is enjoying some new found teenage freedom.

My sons two best friends however happen to also be the children of my life long friend and we are already planning out play dates, trips to the swimming hole and park for our boys in the coming months. All of this fun doesn’t mean we will be neglecting our education though! I’m currently looking into educational day camps as one option to keep them engaged throughout the sunshine and nice weather. We’ll also being doing “school at the park” where we take our books and gear to the park down the street with a picnic and spend the day outside, the kids can do their lessons in the grass and run around outside on the jungle gym in between. The fresh air is great for mom too!

How do you deal with keeping home-school going during the summer? Its so hard with the beautiful weather beckoning. Or do you give it all up and revisit in September with everyone refreshed and ready for a new school year? I’d love to hear some new ideas!

New this week!

In the interest of not turning every post into an advertisement and driving everyone bonkers I’m going to be limiting myself to a once a week product spotlight for my Etsy store. These posts will be short and sweet featuring a single item that has gone live in the store within the last seven days. They’ll all be titled New this week! so if you want to skip them and stay tuned for more substantial posts about homeschooling, crochet and my kitchen adventures you are more than welcome to. That being said, here is this weeks product spotlight:

Rainbow nesting baskets!

Rainbow nesting baskets! These baskets are great for teaching the colours of the rainbow, and practicing fine motor skills. They fit snugly together and stack up easily. They are soft, a great alternative to hard plastic for babies.

Handmade by me with love and care. Available here. Thanks for reading!

A-Z Challenge Z: Zippers!

So I’m a couple of days late finishing off the A-Z challenge, I’m still calling it a win! In my defense I had a very busy weekend and just couldn’t find the time for blogging. Anyways the last post of my challenge is going to be about zippers!

Zippers are one of those things that when you start sewing you think “One day, one day I’ll be able to sew a zipper.” I know people who can sew, have a used a sewing machine more than once but will still take their clothes to a seamstress or contract a friend to fix a broken zipper. I too had this same fear of zippers until one day when my son broke the zipper on his favourite fuzzy bear pajama onesie. Where previously a broken zipper would’ve meant the article of clothing was destined for the trash can (this is also a product of my pre-eco friendly bad habits that I have since broken, yay me!) I couldn’t throw away his favourite jammies. He would never forgive me. Especially since I had made something of a reputation for myself in the house as mom; maker and fixer of all things!

Instead I hit the local fabric store and purchased a new zipper of the appropriate length and set to reading all about zippers and manically studying pictures of them being sewn to try and figure out how to fix it myself. I discovered in the process that it’s actually really easy! It’s basically just like sewing two pieces of fabric together. Take the zipper apart and line it up with the opening you want to zip closed, sew one side of the zipper to one side of the opening, sew the other zipper half to the other side and voila! Fixed pajamas!

I don’t have real instructions or even a picture of those pj’s that I fixed but I can assure you he still wears them and the zipper I put in has held out for quite a while now. The point of this post is really don’t be afraid to try something new. If there’s one thing I’ve learned especially over the last 6 months of making major changes to the way I and my family lives our lives its that we can do way more than we think we can and tasks which seem daunting, time consuming or just way to hard actually aren’t, just give it a try!

Thanks for sticking with my through this challenge, not to worry I’m not going anywhere! I’ve got lots more projects on the go that I can’t wait to share 😀

Etsy Store

I opened an Etsy store! I want so badly to share the new exciting things I am making throughout my home made adventures. As of right now there is only one dice bag available I will be updating with more stock and as I create more stuff.

Items made using the patterns featured on my blog will be available for purchase, washcloths and dice bags et cetera. As well as toys, plushie monsters and more. I’ve got a long way to go building up my stock and creating new patterns to sell. Let me know what you are most interested in seeing me attempt to make! Thank you!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/EmeraldBsCreations?ref=hdr_shop_menu

A-Z Challenge U: Unconventional learning styles

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about homeschooling and different ways to expand your home-school experience beyond pencil and paper and seat work. Today I wanted to talk about different ways kids learn, this can be especially useful for children who have trouble learning through more conventional means.

Its generally accepted that there are 4 different learning styles, you can follow the link for more information but I’ll list the 4 styles here with a brief description:

Visual learners; learn best through use of images, such as maps, infographics etc.

Auditory learners; learn best through listening and speaking. Use of mnemonic devices work very well for these type of learners.

Reading/writing learners; learn best through reading and assimilating information as well as writing things out, taking notes etc.

Kinesthetic learners; or “hands on” learners learn best through touch and physical experience.

We’re a bit of a mixed bag in my house. My 13 year old daughter is a hands on/kinesthetic learner through and through. She’s definitely able to do other types of school work but she retains the most knowledge through physically doing things and that’s where she gets the most enjoyment out of learning. We do a lot of technology based teaching for her as it simulates the hands on type environment that it sometimes is difficult to provide in a home school setting. I am confident however that she is going to thrive when she transitions into traditional high school in the fall and is able to take part in classes like drama, art, wood working, etc.

My son is more of an auditory learner, he picks things up by listening either to me explain something or to a video demonstration. (Bill Nye and the Magic School Bus are some of our favourites) it never ceases to amaze me the amount of information he can retain after hearing something just once or twice at only 6 years old. He thrives in the homeschooling environment because I am able to provide him with direct auditory instruction all the time and he has so far moved far ahead of where he should be according to the Canadian curriculum.

In my experience I’ve found that traditional public school education is generally geared towards kids who fall into the reading/writing learning style. That’s me! I retain knowledge best by reading about it in textbooks, history books, stories etc. And by writing things down, as such I excelled in a public school setting and it took me a long time to figure out why my very bright children weren’t also excelling when placed in the same school system. Obviously all of these things were factored into our decision to home-school and it has worked out great for us so far. Being able to cater to different learning styles has made all the difference in my children’s learning experience and brought the fun and excitement back into learning for them both.

Come by tomorrow and find out what V stands for… until then :D!

 

 

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