Welcome to The Contemporary Homeschooler

FeaturedWelcome to The Contemporary Homeschooler

Welcome to The Contemporary Homeschooler! Academic excellence, lots of experiential learning and high-quality books are hallmarks of our household. With a good structure in place, homeschoolers are able to complete their academic work in around half the time of a typical conventional school day. We like to use that extra time to engage with the world and follow our passions.  I don’t box our family into following a particular homeschool philosophy. Rather, I  see myself as an entrepreneur for my family: nimble and adaptive to our needs and learning opportunities.

I  see myself as an entrepreneur for my family: nimble and adaptive to our needs and learning opportunities.

As a homeschool family, you have the freedom to put your children on the cutting edge of education. You can customize and personalize their academics. There is a huge selection of curriculum, both web-based and paper-based, available to homeschool families. You can incorporate abundant experiential learning opportunities into your schedule. I will not squander my time away with my kids as a slave to excessive busy work or  dawdle around the house all day. We finish our work and get out into the world. Now, more than ever, there are wonderful opportunities for homeschoolers! Carpe diem!!!!

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Review of California History Curriculum: California Out of the Box

Review of California History Curriculum: California Out of the Box

California Out of the Box, an interdisciplinary California history curriculum, uses story as a platform for history study and exploration. There is a big hole for a cohesive California history curriculum, so I am delighted to share with you more about this holistic approach with a strong literature component. If you love Story of the World, then I think this may be a good fit for you.  1726672271

It is a 36-week study with 3-5 lessons/activities each week based on 4th grade California state standards. However, it is designed with 3rd-6th graders in mind. While it was written for homeschoolers, it could be easily adapted for public/private schools. Additionally, I think it would work great for a co-op setting. The curriculum book is also the teacher’s guide.

California Out of the Box is an interdisciplinary curriculum. Your children will make connections as various aspects of learning are woven into the curriculum including:

  • Literature
  • History
  • The arts
  • Life and earth science
  • Social studies
  • Folklore and mythology
  • Geography
  • Poetry and literature
  • Research

I like that there is a strong emphasis on quality literature.  Five historical fictions books are used:

Three other resources used are:

It’s easy to use:

  • Reproducible sheets found at the back of the guide are easy to find and photocopy
  • Teacher’s don’t have to dig for maps; they are in the book.
  • Answer (keys) make grading/discussions easy.
  • Activities are geared for multiple learning styles.
  • Suggestions are made for further study.
  • Picture book list included to engage younger siblings.

It’s engaging:

  • Students will enjoy the links to videos, etc.
  • Visual learners will enjoy looking at images on Google Earth/Images and drawing their answers.
  • Interesting websites are mentioned such as the David Rumsey Map Collection.
  • Historical fiction books contextualize the time period quickly and create memorable learning.
  • Reflection questions encourage older students to draw inferences over time periods and their own lives.

It’s complete:

  • The curriculum covers prehistory through the 1930’s
  • Timeline activities help students place events in historical order.
  • Review activities are interspersed throughout book.
  • Students will explore the land and habitats as they study about the history of that particular area.

Some unique moments:

  • Exploration of the pygmy mammoth skeleton on Santa Rosa Island.
  • After a discussion about migration to California, students will explore requirements to be a US citizen.
  • After studying the San Francisco earthquake, students will explore a unit on geology where they will conduct rock tests.
  • Students will create models of a Gold Rush town or a “Come to California” poster while studying the Gold Rush.
  • Las Posadas and Dia de Los Muertos as cultural traditions are explored; students will learn how piñatas are made.
  • Students will read stories about ways kids have advocated for natural places and explore issues they are passionate about.
  • Habitats such as the coast, chaparral, oak woodlands, Sierra Nevadas, coniferous forests, salt marshes, desert, and grasslands in California are explored (throughout curriculum).

This is a secular curriculum, so you should be able to use charter school funds.

As I am a big fan of homeschooling with lots of great living books, the author sent me a free copy of the curriculum to review. I hope you found this review helpful and enjoy California Out of the Box!!!

You might also like:

How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ Education

Communism Study through Literature

Fun Ways to Teach Writing Without Buying a Curriculum

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

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Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a small commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

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Seven Habits of Kids Who Make Friends Easily

Seven Habits of Kids Who Make Friends Easily

Is your child struggling to make friends? Are you hoping to help him? I’m happy to tell you that, just like learning to play an instrument, making friends draws upon a skill set that can be developed with knowledge and practice.

The United States has seen a surge in depression, anxiety, bullying and suicides over the past few years. Last week, a 13-year-old boy in my community killed himself. He was described as not having many friends and seemed to be almost invisible to his classmates.  A strong group of supportive and encouraging friends is a powerful weapon against depression, anxiety, bullying and suicide.  I believe it is time to go on the offensive if your child does not have a strong cohort of friends and equip her with the tools to make stronger connections.

My family has a wonderful group of friends. We make friends easily. I want to share what I have learned over the years to help any of you who want this for your children. I was highly influenced by the classic Dale Carnegie book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.  Since reading it in college, the lessons percolated in my mind and influenced by behavior.  If your child is lacking in the friends department, I suggest you purchase this book. Read it first by yourself. Highlight the items you would like to discuss with your child. In this article, I will draw upon his book while augmenting it with additional strategies for making friends.

I would also like to add that the ability to make friends and engage people will serve your child well throughout her life.  Not only can it help her emotionally and in her personal life but will also help her professionally. These powerful soft skills can have a big impact on earning potential. The ability to get along well with other employees and customers is enhanced as is the ability to persuade others to her point of view.

Here are some techniques for making friends:

  • Smile–People prefer to be around happy people much more than crabby or glum people.  A warm smile is one of the easiest and most impactful things you can do to draw people to you.
  • Project confidence–People are attracted to confident people. People want to follow confident people. Look people in the eyes when you speak with them. Stand up straight with good posture. Address people by their name. Don’t speak lowly of yourself in your conversations with others. People are attracted to winners.
  • Be someone you want to be around–Be positive, friendly and encouraging. Display enthusiasm and energy.   Don’t whine or gossip. Think about the people you most like to spend time with and how they behave. Model some of those best traits.
  • Be a good listener–People love to talk about themselves. In fact, folks who are good listeners are often considered the best conversationalists. Be an active listener who makes it clear you are paying attention by making appropriate eye contact, orienting the body in the direction of the speaker, remaining quiet, and making relevant verbal responses. As you listen, you may find some common interests. Even if it turns out you don’t have much in common, you may learn something. In fact, when you listen more and talk less your knowledge as well as insight on life is significantly expanded. listeningquote2
  • Show up–You are more likely to make friends with someone if you see him often. Go to parties, park days, field trips, hikes, sporting events, etc. Create your own events. Invite peers to your house.
  • Use technology as a tool to bring you closer to people and not further away–Technology can be a great tool for keeping up with friends and sharing what is going on. For homeschoolers who don’t see their friends every day, it can be especially helpful. My kids have a pretty big group of friends that chat on Google Hangouts. Technology can become deleterious in building friendships when it causes you to want to stay home and not have face-to-face contact and experiences with others. Additionally, if you are out but are on your phone the bulk of the time then that hampers relationship building. Finally, uncivil behavior on social media will make it more difficult to make friends.
  • Make the other person feel important–Become genuinely interested in people. If you find someone interesting and want to be friends with her, talk in terms of her interests. Show sincere appreciation for others.

While some of these techniques may sound contrived, when you become genuinely interested in other people you will often find that life is much more interesting and there is much more to learn.

“Curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”–Walt Disney

Your child may consider doing some detective work before approaching a conversation. Listen to conversations amongst the friends she would like to know better. Then, discuss the conversations she heard at home. With your child, role-play joining in a conversation about those things and building upon what she heard. You may also use this tool from Parenting Science to help your child decipher facial expressions.

Special consideration should be given to the children your child is pursuing in friendship. Personally, I like for my kids to spend time with kids who share most of the values that our family does. One of the benefits of homeschooling is we have greater control over who our children spend time with. As the child starts moving into his tweens, the influence and impact of friends play a greater role.

 

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Special Note for Homeschool Parents

Homeschool families have a tremendous opportunity to make wonderfully close friends because you can be out in the world together engaging in such a diversity of experiences. This creates a very strong bond. On the other hand, homeschoolers can become isolated if they don’t make an effort to build relationships.  Here are some tips:

  • Build your tribe--I wrote this article about proactive steps you can take to build a solid community of friends. Once you find families you have chemistry with, be deliberate about creating social outings and building relationships.
  • Break the crutch of parents and siblings–Some children who have a hard time making friends stay close to their mom or siblings at social situations with other homeschool kids. This actually inhibits them from engaging with other kids and making friends. When you go to homeschool events, be mindful of this. Try being out-of-sight so your child can’t cling to you or her sibling.
  • When possible, sign your children up for homeschool classes or activities to meet other homeschoolers– Most of our best friends we met at our homeschool co-op six years ago. We have continued the co-op each year and most of our homeschool activities are done with our co-op besties. If there is not much in your area, build something–even a weekly park day should work. You know the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” A local homeschool Facebook group is a great place to get started inviting people.
  • Sign your child up for sports or other after-school programs–My kids are quite active with sailing. The majority of the kids they sail with are not homeschoolers. However, they’ve made some wonderful friends who they greatly enjoy spending time with and adventuring together out on the water. Additionally, many life skills are developed when playing sports. 

One side note I would like to mention is that waiting tables in high school and college helped me tremendously with my people skills. If you want to make decent tip money, you have to learn to smile, be friendly, make people feel important, project confidence, be positive–so many of the skills I talked about above. If even for just six months, the benefits of working as a waiter can be tremendous on an individual’s social skills. While your child may not yet be old enough to wait tables, it is certainly something to keep in mind for the future.

I hope this article is a springboard to get you thinking and help your child to start making good friends. If you see that I missed something, please send me a message. This information is intended to help people.

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

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You may also be interested in:

How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

Is it Time for you to Consider Homeschooling?

Fun Ways to Teach Writing Without Buying a Curriculum

If You are New to Homeschooling or Thinking About It….

Six Reasons We Homeschool Year-Round

Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a small commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

 

 

 

Communism Study through Literature

Communism Study through Literature

Winston Churchill said, ““Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”  Communism is the bloodiest form of government in the history of the world with more than 100 million people killed under Communist regimes. 

churchill learn from history

This past year we did a fairly extensive study on Communism. I wanted to share some of our favorite books if you have an interest in exploring this topic in your homeschool.  Seeing the impact Communism has had on our own history in the United States and, to a greater degree, many unfortunate places in the world, I found it vitally important to spend a substantial amount of time immersed in this topic as we covered 20th and 21st-century history.

Soviet Union

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace  0375867821Fleming is an absolutely gripping narrative of Russia’s last royal family.  My kids especially enjoyed learning about the Romanov children and Rasputin. This non-fiction work is anything but dull. We started here because we wanted to better understand the events that led to the Communist Revolution.

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin is a simple yet powerful story of a 10-year-old 1250034108boy who has always been devoted to Communism, the Communist Party and Comrade Stalin. His world is shaken after his faithful father is arrested. This compact novel also features dramatic black-and-white pictures.

Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan is the first in a quartet series of  0064408795Communist Russia. It shows both sides of the Russian Revolution opening in 1913 when this aristocratic girl goes to live with the Romanov family because her widowed mother is lady-in-waiting to Empress Alexandra. We get to know the Romanovs in a warm and personal way and see what a doting father Nicholas II is to his children. However, she also witnesses the exploitation of workers in the cities and the terrible living conditions of peasants. Meanwhile, war is spreading throughout Europe and Russia is collapsing. We give this fast-paced and absorbing book our highest review possible.

The Impossible Journey by Gloria Whelan is the second in the quartet series of Communist 0066238110Russia. This book, which opens in 1934 in Leningrad, a generation after the Communist Revolution,  is every bit as engaging as the first. The children of the heroine and hero in Angel on the Square are alone and desperate after their father is arrested and mother is exiled to Siberia. They are determined to find their mom and embark on a 1,000-mile journey in hopes of reunification. Filled with adventure and suspense, the children encounter many obstacles and confrontations and even a beautiful experience with the Samoyed tribe in the Siberian wilderness.

East Germany

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen is an engaging, fast-paced book about the Berlin Wall from the perspective of twelve-year-old, Gerta. When the Wall was erected, her father and brother were on the other side looking for work in West Berlin. This left the family divided. We encounter Gerta’s struggles along with her other brother, mother and others surviving in East Berlin as well as their persecution in this Communist city controlled by the Soviets.  One day she spots her father on a viewing platform giving her clues to tunnel beneath the wall. This is risky because, if they are caught, the consequences are death. We loved this book. It is highly recommended at any time but especially if you are studying the 1960s and Communism.

China

Red Scarf Girl, a memoir by Ji Li Liang, takes the reader to the destructive turmoil of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 0064462080 led by Chairman Mao in Communist China.  Twelve-year-old Ji Li is an accomplished student and athlete and joins her classmates in frenetically denouncing The Four Olds:  Old ideas, old culture, old customs, old habits.  She witnesses relatives, teachers, neighbors and friends publicly humiliated and tortured but still remains fervent in her Communist ideology. Her family eventually becomes reviled due to their wealthy family background including her grandfather being a landlord. Friends and neighbors turn on them, and they are constantly afraid of being arrested. After her father’s imprisonment, Ji Li is forced with a big decision. This autobiography received multiple awards including Publishers Weekly Best Book. ALA Best Book for Young Adults and ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice.

Mao’s Last Dancer (Young Reader’s Edition) by Li Cunxin is the riveting 0802797792autobiography of a peasant boy born into extreme poverty in 1961 just before the Cultural Revolution. Despite his poverty and witnessing the brutality of the Mao regime, he revered Chairman Mao and Communism. He details life in school that is focused more on Communist indoctrination and Mao worship than the basic educational tenets of reading, writing and arithmetic. At the age of 11, Li was selected from his village by delegates of Madame Mao’s art program to study ballet at the Beijing Dance Academy. The opportunity opens many unimaginable doors including a cultural exchange in Houston with the Houston Ballet in 1979. While in Texas, he begins to realize much of what he was told about the USA was a lie. He loves his taste of freedom in America and is in awe of such abundance and modernity.  The story is of his defection, the climax of the book, is nail-biting!

Cambodia

The Clay Marble by Minfong Ho, set in war-ravaged Cambodia after the fall of the 0374412294Communist Khmer Rouge in the early 1980s, tells the story of twelve-year-old Dara. When the story opens, Dara along with her mother and brother are making their way to a refugee camp along the Thai border. As with most Cambodians at the time, many of their family members had been murdered by the Communists.  They are greatly relieved when they arrive at the camp to find plenty of rice, rice seed and tools. However, fighting erupts and Dara is separated from everyone she loves. The author is someone who actually worked at refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border and shows great respect for what these determined people overcame. Continue reading “Communism Study through Literature”

Keep California on the Cutting Edge of Education by Withdrawing AB2926

Keep California on the Cutting Edge of Education by Withdrawing AB2926

Dear Assemblywoman Eggman and Assemblyman Medina,

Bill AB2926 was brought to my attention. If it were to pass, it would be a step backward for education because California homeschoolers are on the cutting edge of educational innovation and customized learning. The ecosystem of classes, programs and enrichment opportunities is enormous for California homeschoolers. With such a tremendous infrastructure in place, California homeschoolers have created a thriving and dynamic place to receive a 21st- century education and explore one’s passions.

Personalized learning, also referred to as individualized learning, is all the rage in education circles these days. Unfortunately, when we hear about this in a conventional school setting, this usually just refers to adaptive computer programs. On top of that, many of those adaptive computer programs are not very effective. Homeschoolers have truly been personalizing their children’s learning for years because we are free from bureaucracy and a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Parents know their children better and love them more than any other person who wants to get involved in their education. Homeschool parents spend tremendous time and energy in researching and finding the optimal education for our kids. We can be most successful with a hands-off approach, so we can effectively tailor our children’s education to best meet their needs. Homeschoolers shine because we aren’t required to follow a government standard that doesn’t meet the needs of most children on an individual level. 

In my opinion, homeschoolers are the most progressive in terms of reimagining what educating the whole child can be. Sir Ken Robinson so passionately makes the case for this in the #1 Ted Talk of all times called “How Schools Kill Creativity.”  

Please join me in supporting the California homeschool community and all we have accomplished. We respectfully ask you to withdraw AB2926 which would stifle homeschool families who are true educational entrepreneurs. We are nimble and adaptive to our children’s needs and learning opportunities because of our freedom to be educational entrepreneurs.

California prides itself on being progressive. Let us continue to be progressive with cutting edge, personalized education and a role model for other educators around the nation and world. Please withdraw AB2926 and let homeschoolers continue to innovate.

Sincerely,

The Contemporary Homeschooler

Is it Time for you to Consider Homeschooling?

Is it Time for you to Consider Homeschooling?

The Parkland, Florida shooting has many families wondering if they should take a closer look at homeschooling. I want you to know there are so many amazing reasons to homeschool that have nothing to do with fear or safety.  In fact, Business Insider says that “homeschooling is the smartest way to teach kids in the 21st-century.”

In this post, I will discuss five benefits of homeschooling: 1) Academics; 2) Socialization; 3) Mental Health; 4) Family Relationships;  5) Love of Learning.

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Academics

Homeschooling offers you the opportunity to craft a 100% customized education for your child.  Multiple factors will go into how you decide to personalize your child’s education including her learning style, skills, and passions as well your family’s priorities and values. You can speed up or slow down depending on your child’s needs and interests.

Sixteen-year-old homeschooled student, Christian Williams, who has just been accepted by MIT,  summarized this well:

“I’m able to do so many academics, so many customized learning programs through my homeschooling, so I was able to take advantage of my love for math, my love for sciences, and was able to do math way above my grade level. I was able to do any science I wanted to. That’s how I discovered half of my passions.”–Christian Williams, 16-year-old admitted to MIT

Homeschooled students typically score above average on standardized tests and the SAT and ACT compared to their public school counterparts. Impressively, many homeschoolers complete 1-2 years of junior college before they turn 18 years old and are admitted to top universities across the nation without ever having to take the SAT or ACT. Additionally, you can choose to school year-round so you don’t lose ground with summer slide.

Homeschoolers don’t use a one-size-fits-all curriculum and don’t teach to the middle or a test. We aren’t bogged down by hierarchies and bureaucracies to make change. Quite the opposite, we are entrepreneurs of our children’s education and are nimble and adaptive to their needs and learning opportunities.

Many cities have homeschool learning centers and co-ops. If you don’t feel equipped to teach a subject to your children, you can seek out the best instructors. This semester, for instance, some classes my kids are taking from other teachers include physics, chemistry, debate, art, and theater. In California, we have the option to receive educational funds to pay for some of our educational expenses including classes.  Because of the customization we are able to do with these educational funds and the tremendous ecosystem that has emerged, I believe Southern California hoomeschoolers are on the cutting edge of education.

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The Well-Trained Mind is an excellent place to start if you are considering homeschooling. The book’s authors provide a how-to homeschool plan including multiple curriculum recommendations for each grade level.

Socialization

Many homeschool families chuckle at this question about socialization. Yes, there are some homeschooled kids with quirky behavior, but you find plenty of that in conventional schools.  I firmly believe my children’s socialization is superior to what you find with traditional schooling.

They are not confined to the same desks, playground and cafeteria day-after-day. Instead, they are often out in nature enjoying the freedom and purity of those landscapes together. Other times they are interacting in places as diverse as museums, nature centers, restaurants, galleries,  performing arts theaters, farms, and more. This stimulates tremendous creative interaction amongst the homeschoolers.

They are more actively engaged in conversation, thought, movement and play with friends. Their friendships are strengthened as they learn and play together in a wide variety of interactive environments. This is in stark contrast to the humdrum of being in the same classroom with the same teacher in the same desk each day.

Additionally, homeschooled kids build relationships with peers of a wide age range. Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, wrote in The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined:

“There is nothing natural about segregating kids by age. That isn’t how families work; it isn’t what the world looks like and it runs counter to the way that kids have learned and socialized for most of human history…As anyone who’s every spent time around children can tell you, both younger and older benefit when different ages mis. The older ones take responsibility for the younger ones. The younger ones look up to and emulate the older ones. Everyone seems to act more mature. Both younger and older rise to the occasion. Take away the mixx of ages and everybody loses something.”–From The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined by Sal Khan

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Mental Health

The mental health of our nation’s youth is, sadly, declining rapidly. You don’t need to read statistics to know this is happening. You hear sad stories in the news all the time and probably hear many of them from your own child’s school. Depression, anxiety, anger, bullying, and suicide are all on the rise.

A teen suicide in my community last month prompted a Newport Harbor High School principal, Dr. Sean Boulton, to write a letter in which he stated:

“Our teachers and district have simply created and maintained a system that our community/country has demanded from us over the past 20 years since college admissions mania went into hyper drive, since vocational training programs were dismantled, and since earning “A’s” in AP classes became the norm.”

“Our teachers feel the pressure, administration and counseling feel the pressure, and now parents/students are really feeling the pressures.”

“When we grew up nobody asked us what our GPA was, and it was ‘cool’ to work on the roof of a house. This competitive culture has significantly impacted our young adults. We endlessly discuss test scores, National Merit Scholarships, reading scores, AP scholars, comparisons to other school Districts and this is when we start losing our collective souls–and our children.”–Newport Harbor High School Principal, Dr. Sean Boulton

When you homeschool, you can get out of that rat race. Instead of living in comparison and competition, homeschoolers are so generous in helping one another out to succeed with their homeschooling. Blazing a different trail than the masses is so empowering.

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Many factors that contribute to children’s mental health problems are lessened with homeschooling:

  • Bullying is greatly reduced.
  • Students are less likely to get on ADHD meds because they are not being confined to a desk in a classroom for hours each school day.
  • Parents spend more time with their kids building bonds, sense of love and security, and transmitting values.
  • Children usually eat healthier when they are with parents.
  • There is less rushing around because school can be done much more efficiently than in a large classroom of kids.
  •  Kids are happier because they are getting outdoors much more and have extra time to play with their friends. This also reduces the need for ADHD meds.
  • Homeschooled children, generally, are not dealing with developmentally inappropriate topics and situations.
  • Homeschooling does not have the hyper-competitive atmosphere you see in many schools today.
  • There is much less risk to personal safety for homeschooled kids.
  • The teach-to-the-test culture is absent.
  • Involvement in drugs, alcohol and sexual activity is much less.
  • Image consciousness, such as the clothes you wear and people you hang out with, is greatly reduced.
  • Homeschooled students don’t usually know who struggles with math and reading and who excels. Those are typically done at home at a customized pace. As a result, it is much less likely that less academically-inclined kids will feel dumb. That insecurity and damage can take years to get over–if ever.
  • Parents often play a greater role influencing with whom their kids socialize.  As peers play such a big role in our children’s lives, this can’t be underestimated.

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Family Relationships

Homeschool families are typically very close. I think part of it is because we have so many shared experiences together. I have been told many times by parents who left public school to homeschool that the whole family is so much more relaxed, and they are finally having time to enjoy one another.

 

Most of our homeschool family friends have siblings who get along well as do my own children. My hypothesis is because they do so much life together. They have so many meaningful experiences together out in the world. They know one another’s friends well because we are experiencing the world with them, too. We read aloud books as a family and discuss them which is, also, a powerful bonding experience.  I don’t know the precise reasons homeschool kids typically get along so nicely with their siblings, but it is wonderful and sweet.

Love of Learning

Earlier this week, The Harvard Gazette published a story featuring three of their homeschooled students. The writer pointed out the following: “The three profiled here share a spirit of curiosity and independence that continues to shape their education.”

This is one area that homeschoolers really shine. Because we aren’t caught up in competition and standardized tests, homeschoolers usually exemplify love of learning!

 

In fact, homeschool parents have tremendous fun learning with their kids. I have a master’s degree and have completed some executive education. However, none of my prior education comes close to what I am learning as a homeschool parent. It is nice to be surrounded by other parents who enjoy learning and discussing ideas. I find the lifestyle of a homeschool parent extremely rich and gratifying.

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There are quite a few other compelling reasons to homeschool. However, I covered some highlights for you.  I am so grateful to homeschool and feel it is one of the best and most important decisions we will ever make for our family. Additionally, I love it more and more each year. It is an incredible journey to go on with your children, and  I hope you will strongly consider it. As I remind my friends who are in public school and on the fence, there is no wait list to get back in school. If you try it and it doesn’t work, then you can always go back. However, most people I know who take that step only regret they didn’t start sooner.

Please share this post if you believe others should learn more about homeschooling. I believe with all my heart that with devoted, loving parents who can make the time for it, in most cases, it is the optimal choice for kids, families and our nation.

Finally, I highly recommend Richard Louv’s groundbreaking book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Children From Nature Deficit Disorder. “He links the absence of nature in156512605X the lives of today’s wired generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends: the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. This is the first book to bring together a body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions to heal the broken bond.”

You may also like:

Six Reasons We Homeschool Year-Round

The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ Education

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

How We Homeschool First Grade

How Much Does it Cost to Homeschool?

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Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

Are you looking for homeschool curriculum ideas for your 9-11- year-old? We are eclectic homeschoolers and try to pull from the best of each homeschool philosophy as well as the best publishers.  Because homeschoolers often don’t fit into just one grade level at any given time, you may consider the curriculum below for your 4th/5th grader and even 6th grader.

Math

We use two math programs because they are completely different offering my daughter alternative ways to look at arithmetic. She does two pages of Math Mammoth and one page of Horizons Math each day.

Math Mammoth, by Dr. Maria Miller, is a mastery-based curriculum that focuses on conceptual understanding, number sense and mental math. While mastery- based is excellent so the students can explore a concept in-depth, I do not feel comfortable without the repetition of a spiral program.You may consider purchasing the color version for just a few dollars more.

Horizons Math is more traditional. I like that is a spiral curriculum so concepts continueB0021KTP2Q to be reinforced.  Each set of exercises are in short chunks, so it does not feel cumbersome like some other more tedious math programs. Additionally, the colorful pages and puzzles make it very visually appealing.

My daughter uses MobyMax as an online math supplement. About 3 times per year, she cycles through XtraMath to ensure she remains fluent in math facts. She sails through it faster and faster each cycle.

Language Arts

We use IEW’s U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons. While enjoying tea together, I sit down  with my 10 and 11-year-old children and do our IEW. You kill four birds with one stone using this program as it covers history, literature, grammar, and writing composition. IEW develops strong writers. I have spoken to multiple homeschool kids who have found writing in college a breeze, and they attribute that to their IEW training. It is scripted making it easy for parents to teach.

NaNoWriMo Junior Writer’s Program provides resources and B008GU1DD4encouragement for young authors to pen their own novels. I taught this class at co-op with the free curriculum during our fall semester. This spring, I am using the IEW Student Resources Notebook to help the writers edit their novels.

My kids love to read and spend a great deal of time engaged in pleasure reading. However, I do have a bookshelf from which they can choose for their 25 minutes of daily required reading. I load up on great books at the library, so they always have many choices. After completion, they email me a summary of what they read. It is only about 4-5 sentences. It also serves as a record of what they are reading. 

Daily Grams are an efficient and painless way to learn grammar. It is short and to the point. There is a corresponding text to which you may want to consider alongside your Daily Grams called Easy Grammar. However, my children do not enjoy it. I feel our time is better spent with me editing their writing as well as using IEW.

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is reading aloud to my children. It is a tremendous bonding activity for our family as we go on so many book adventures together. During snack and meal times, I read from a variety of great books. The morning includes most of our non-ficton.  Later in the day, we shift to novels.  map-pics-002

For spelling, we are using Spelling Workout D. However, my kids also love this well-done spelling website.

History

We are big fans of  living books,  field trips and travel for our history studies. We follow1933339179 the classical method of studying history chronologically. I highly recommend Story of the World audiobooks.  Additionally, I appreciate the many wonderful book lists from Charlotte Mason inspired groups.

Science

We explore science out in the world. We are in a nature group that gets together weekly and learns from experts such as park rangers, naturalists, marine scientists,  and farmers. Additionally, my daughter takes a physics/chemistry class at our co-op, and we all read the material together during the week. Co-ops are great because they can spend the entire class period doing experiments to reinforce what we learned during the week from our reading. My kids also took marine science at a facility on the Pacific Ocean for the fall semester.  Hands-on is best, in my opinion.

 

Extracurricular

We believe music and sports are important aspects of education. My kids race sailboats, and we play basketball together as a family every Saturday morning. They also play woodwinds and piano.  We do other extracurricular activities but believe at least one sport and one instrument are non-negotiable.action kate

I hope you found this post useful if you are homeschooling or considering homeschooling your 4th/5th grader. You can see that you can give your child a quality education spending very little money.

Note: My daughter is actually in 4th grade by her birthday. Due to homeschooling, she has been able to accelerate her learning and use 4th-7th grade curriculum.

You may also like:

Fun Ways to Teach Writing Without Buying a Curriculum

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The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ EducationTop Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

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How We Homeschool First Grade

How We Homeschool First Grade

Are you looking for curriculum ideas for your 6, 7 or 8-year-old? After homeschooling her two older siblings, I am now homeschooling my youngest with curriculum I think is well-done and a good fit for her. Additionally, it costs less than $100. We are eclectic homeschoolers and try to pull from the best of each homeschool philosophy as well as the best publishers.

  • Writing with Ease Workbook: Level 1 is a favorite of my daughter’s. It provides 1933339268copywork, dictation and narration assignments as well as reading passages from classic children’s literature. I like that it is also entirely scripted so that I do not need to prepare. The publisher states the workbook lessons “are the only materials you’ll need to provide your student with a complete first year of writing instruction. ” Tip: If your child doesn’t remember a detail from the passage you read when you question her, you may gently give her the information and allow her to answer the question back to you in a complete sentence. 
  • Spelling Workout A is a phonics-based program with a variety of activities including riddles and puzzles. I do not buy the teacher’s manual, and she is able to do most of this independently.
  • Reading for Comprehension: Level B is full of short, fun, non-fiction articles and questions to reinforce reading skills. My daughter enjoys this book a lot, and it builds her confidence. She works on this independently. 
  • Math Mammoth by Dr. Maria Miller is a mastery-based curriculum that focuses on conceptual understanding, number sense and mental math.  It is largely self-teaching and requires little involvement from me. I do not find it necessary to purchase a teacher’s manual for this age. I pay a couple dollars more for the more visually-appealing color version instead of just the black-and-white.
  •  Reading–We do not use a reading curriculum or sight words flashcards. Rather, we go the library often and pick out loads of fun books. We snuggle together and she reads to me. Learning to read and enjoy books organically is so beautiful!
  • Science–We explore science out in the world. We are in a nature group that gets together weekly. Additionally, my daughter takes a physics/chemistry class at our co-op as well as marine science at a facility on the Pacific Ocean.  Hands-on is best, in my opinion.1933339179
  • History–We are big fans of  living books,  field trips and travel for our history studies. We follow the classical method of studying history chronologically. I highly recommend Story of the World audiobooks.  Additionally, I appreciate the many wonderful book lists from Charlotte Mason inspired groups. nice kas sarworkmar sarapple hq mom and kidssweeney ridge sdadbehind
  • Literature and Read-Alouds–One of my favorite things about homeschooling is reading aloud to my children. It is a tremendous bonding activity for our family as we go on so many book adventures together. During snack and meal times, I read from a variety of great books. The morning includes most of our non-ficton.  Later in the day, we shift to novels. map-pics-002

I hope you found this post useful if you are homeschooling or considering homeschooling your first or second grader. You can see that you can give your child a quality education spending very little money.

An upcoming blog post will reveal the curriculum used in our home for our 10 and 11-year-old children.

You may also like:

Ten Ways to Teach Your Child to Read and Love Books

If You are New to Homeschooling or Thinking About It….

Six Reasons We Homeschool Year-Round

Give Your Kids a World-Class Math Education for Free

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

You can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. Also, join our community on Facebook.

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Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!