Friday, March 16, 2012

How Math for Homeschoolers With Special Needs?

Math can be a challenge for children with special needs, leaving many homeschooling parents-not to mention kids-feeling overwhelmed. However, there are many math games and activities that can make learning math concepts easier and more enjoyable. Using a variety of games, especially those that are hands-on, can help children with learning disabilities retain more of the concepts being taught. Grasping the meaning of the math lesson is also essential to successful learning, as math tends to build on the lesson that comes before it.

So where do you start? And with so many to choose from, how do you know which math activities will work for your child? First of all, you need to keep in mind that all children learn differently. Therefore, they will need lessons that are tailor-made to fit their particular learning needs.

When it comes to choosing math for homeschoolers with special needs, try to seek out activities that you can center around their interests and fit to their learning styles. For instance, you can personalize math lessons or activities by including a favorite hobby or game-turn a favorite board game into a math lesson. You can use real events or experiences and even include some of your child's own ideas. Try making a trip to the grocery store a lesson on decimals or addition.

Math games are a great way for your child to practice his skills. He may have so much fun that it may be difficult to convince him that it is actually a math lesson! Math games and other resources are readily available online and in many curriculum packages. If cost is a factor, there are many activities that you can put together on your own. Just do a simple search online for "free math games."

Some of the more popular math games include sequencing games, picture-to-count sets, and math bingo. Other fun, hands-on activities may include humorous word problems using fun props like toys, puppets, etc. that you or your child demonstrate the problems and solutions to each other. Math memory and concentration games are also popular learning tools for kids. Flash cards can be used for a variety of games and are easy to make yourself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Do You Know You Are Capable?

Do you feel overwhelmed in your job as a homeschool parents. Many parents do. I have heard from so many people asking how they can know that they are capable of homeschooling their high school student. There are a few encouraging verses from the Bible that can help relieve some of those concerns.

Psalm 1:39 13-16 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful..."

Your child was given to you. You are the perfect parents for your child and your child is the perfect child for your family. Together, the two of you were meant to do this and that's how you'll know you'll be successful.

Think about Philippians 4:13 where it says "I can do all this through Him who strengthens me." That will include homeschooling high school. Also, 1 Peter 4:8 says "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." When something goes wrong, you can know that you can still homeschool high school because the love that you have for your child is going to cover everything.

This child has been given to you; you have been given to your child. You are the perfect partnership for homeschooling high school. You know that you are capable because God will provide what you need to do the job that you have been called to do. And you know that when these steps occur, it's going to be okay because the love for your child is going to cover all of it.

The scriptures say a lot about raising a child, but it does not say anything about forking your child over to the government for their education. It's all about the parent and the child. Even when it talks about rendering unto Caesar, it is not talking about your children. Your children have been given to you.

Also in scripture, God often provides step by step answers to problems that are faced. When Jesus changed the water to wine at the wedding at Cana, He did not tell His servants to change the water into wine; that would have been slightly overwhelming.

Instead, he gave them three steps:

   a. Fill jars with water.
   b.Draw water out of jars.
   c.Take a drink to the master.

At no point does Jesus say to graduate your child today and get them into this college. He's telling us to take one step at a time. So when you learn from me about college preparation, think about all the things that I talk about but realize that you do not have to do them all today.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Homeschool Transcript Tips

Making a homeschool transcript does not have to be a difficult thing. For those new to homeschooling high school, I want to start by putting you completely at ease about this from the very beginning.

A transcript is simply a piece of paper written in Times New Roman 12; it's just a regular paper with no notary on it. It can be printed on normal computer paper or if you would like you can buy a pack of parchment paper to use, but that is completely not necessary. There is nothing scary about it and you can do it at home.

The thing you do need to know about the transcript is that however you make it, it will look good. Without a doubt, if you put it out on print, it will look good and you will be amazed at how great your child looks.

The reason they look so great is that making a transcript is your chance to brag legally about your child. It's your opportunity to say everything wonderful that they've ever done; things that you wouldn't necessarily tell your friends because they might think that you are bragging.

Transcripts do tend to look a bit foreign to us. When I ask about your homeschool, you might talk about the pond and the nature study as well as the great unit study that you've done recently.

While that is a wonderful education, it doesn't make a lot of intuitive sense to colleges. Colleges think in terms of words and specific numbers. When preparing your transcript you need to be able to put your wonderful homeschool experience into the words and numbers that colleges understand.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Solution for Homeschooling Multiple Children

The Problem: New home schooling families are often overwhelmed with just the idea of homeschooling all of their children at the same time. Some will begin homeschooling one child one year and adding another the following year. That, in itself can add the problem of having to plan your schedule around the school's schedule because at least one family member goes to school. One of the big benefits of homeschooling is to be together as a family and to schedule life around the home and the education of the children. If the family "brings school" home and sets up a school schedule with textbooks for each subject for each child, teaching multiple children in a family would be very tedious and overwhelming.

The Solution: Unit studies --- This is a method of study that allows most of the curriculum to center on a topic of interest to one or more members of family.

For example, in the state of Washington, the home school law delineates eleven required subjects for students K-8: Math, Reading, Writing, Grammar, Spelling, History, Social Studies, Health, Science, Occupational Education, Art/Music. If your state does not specify subjects or classifies them differently just modify your list. Most of these subjects can be covered well by using this method. Exceptions include: math, grammar and early reading skills. In those cases you would need curriculum that follow a "scope and sequence" - a list or chart that shows what will be covered and in what order. Since math builds on skills, order and practice are important. I would include these subjects in a unit study so that your children understand that knowledge and skills are not separate, but unified.

Steps in Forming a Unit Study:

1. Choose a subject. Keep in mind the longer you want to stay on a subject, the broader the topic.

2. Use a "Mind Map" or "Web' to brainstorm the different parts of the unit.

3. Based on # 2, decide how long to study this topic. For beginners and younger children, I would begin with a two-week unit study. Later, larger topics / longer studies may be planned. Older students could use this method and follow the scope and sequence of an American History book to "complete" this required high school subject with a series of unit studies.

4. Make a list of subjects and plan activities to cover each of the subjects.

5. Gather materials - personal library, public library, Internet, local attractions etc.

6. Evaluate - during longer studies, you should periodically evaluate what has been learned and what remains to learn. You may decide to shorten or lengthen the unit study.

7. End the Study with a Culminating Activity - this could be a notebook, video documentary, display or a play for Dad and other family or friends.

Homeschooling parents can use the unit study method to keep everyone learning about the same topic using age-appropriate materials you own or you can get from the library. While there are many products available that have ready-made unit studies, I personally like the flexibility of planning my own unit studies. In my opinion, aside from academic excellence, the greatest benefit of the unit study is building family unity.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Can I Begin at the Highschool Level for Homeschoolling?

I am often asked if it is okay to start homeschooling at the high school level when you have never homeschooled before? The answer is a definite, YES!

It's perfectly fine and actually I am seeing this happen an awful lot as public schools are having more and more difficulty. A growing number of parents are trying to find the best possible education for their children. Yes, it's perfectly possible.

When you are a beginning homeschooler it is sometimes nice to have someone to hold your hand and help you through the process because it can be a bit scary until you get your feet wet. I usually recommend for beginners to take a look at Sonlight curriculum. That is the curriculum that I used when I started homeschooling and it really helped me figure out how much schoolwork was a normal amount each day as well as what I needed to cover.

Sonlight is a literature-based curriculum, and it is not right for everybody, but I do like recommending it as the first place for people to look at when they start.

It is very easy for you to begin homeschooling high school. The only difficulty is if you want to put your children from homeschooling back into a public school. The reason for that is that public schools care very much about accreditation, unlike homeschoolers and unlike colleges. While homeschoolers can continue all the way to high school and get into college without difficulty, sometimes the public schools have a great deal of difficulty accepting your transcript as a homeschooler.

One thing that you should make sure of is that at the high school level you are pretty much committed. If you don't feel like you can commit then you should make sure that you are going to commit for the first two years and then have your child perhaps do dual enrollment or some other option afterwards.

Yes, I believe that homeschooling is a great option for your high schooler and it is very possible to begin homeschooling in high school.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Twelve Ways For Cyber School Students To Refocus

Ever have one of those days where you have a bunch of stuff planned, but then you sit down to start doing them, and your brain seems to reject anything productive? That's me today. Mark your calendars because this is the worst brain fart I've had during Cyber School. Really though, I made it about a month without a really bad focusing problem so I'd call that a success!

It started yesterday when I decided to finally sit down, and work on the Sunday school lesson (I am teaching at my church this weekend). I got the fun stuff done, but anything remotely work related like reading a couple of chapters in the bible started to feel like a situation where you have to lick your elbow to save your life. I just couldn't do it and it frustrated me. So I stopped, went upstairs to read a bit, and went to bed.

That's my usual method for getting through stressful situations like mind block, just get away from it for a little while, then revisit it once your mind is clear. But what do you do when the stressful situations and mind block are because of school? You usually can't just get up and give it some time to process. No, you have to get it done in only a short amount of time or you are penalized with something like a tardy or a bad grade or other important stuff doesn't get done!

Today my 'To Do' list looked something like this

1. School= Finish an English report, three lessons of math and some sociology

2. Put up a blog post

3. Contact a bunch of churches around the area about the Christian club at school

4. Clean up a bit

5. Tennis practice, leave house at 2:30

After Tennis there were a couple other social events I had made a commitment to go to allowing me only the time between 8am and about 2pm to work. That gave me about six and a half hours to complete everything, keeping in mind that school work took me about two and a half hours today and contacting churches took out about another hour in my day. That leaves me with about three hours to clean and finish my blog post. Along with that I also need to feed myself and get ready for tennis. Also I am a girl so getting ready is a slightly lengthy process.

My day was booked! I couldn't take any time to slack off or take long breaks. So how did I get through? Well I did what any desperate to be done with work kid would do, I pushed on through completing some work only to the level of proficient rather than to an advanced level.

It wasn't very fun today. A lot of the tests and lessons I had to do today were extremely simple and easy, but more than once I'd find myself totally out of it just staring at the screen willing something, anything to put the correct answer there so that all I would have to do is click the 'Finish' button.

Somehow I got through, and then decided I could give myself a couple minute breaks to play a Wii game called 'Just Dance.' I don't mean to brag, but I got the high score in each dance.

The dance game helped a little, and is probably the reason I am able to write this post, I couldn't help but wonder what are some other little tricks and ideas to help us focus better. So I have compiled a list from three different articles:

1. Create a good learning environment with minimum distractions

2. Practice concentrating by doing things like listening to your breaths and heart beats

3. Use the number five. For example five more minutes or five more problems

4. Create a routine around your most productive and least productive times of the day

5. Set Goals/ Bribe yourself- If I finish these last 5 problems I can eat a piece of cake (I recommend not always using food)

6. Write out a 'To Do' list so you can work on things one at a time.

7. Make sure your body is healthy- enough sleep, good diet (less sugars), exercise, etc.

8. Set some time in the day to allow your mind to wander and think through things

9. Cup your hands around your eyes to give you tunnel vision so distractions are blocked.

10. Develop an interest in what you are doing

11. Limit the time where you have to focus a lot

12. Don't procrastinate because it distracts your mind from other activities

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How Teaching Math With Interactive Online Tools?

Teaching math can be a challenge, especially if you're trying to teach kids who are struggling. Today's math curriculum requires kids of all ages to learn and retain particular skills at each grade level, making it essential to ensure that they master each idea as it comes so that they don't get lost or confused when higher concepts are introduced.

Offer An Engaging Environment

Kids respond well to learning environments that are fun, interesting and engaging. When you give kids the opportunity to work in such an environment, teaching math can become much easier. One way to do this is to take advantage of the growing use of technology in education by introducing online math games to student curriculum. These games are accessible from any computer with an Internet connection and so can be used in the classroom or at home to supplement math education. Though using games to teach math skills isn't a substitute for the traditional educational environment, it can be helpful to kids who learn better with audio-visual tools than with standard print materials.

Encourage Mastery of Skills

Math is one concept that requires kids to master one skill before moving on to another. If you don't teach math skills such as number recognition, counting and basic addition and subtraction to kids at a young age, they won't be able to understand the concepts that they encounter as they move on to higher grades. By encouraging kids to pay attention to each concept as it comes and learn how to apply it to many different kinds of math problems, you give them the tools that they need to excel at math throughout their academic careers. Teaching math this way requires diligence and patience since each child will learn at a different pace. Online math games take this into account by giving kids the opportunity to move on when they're ready, rather than forcing them to continue before they've fully grasped the current lesson.

Include Positive Reinforcement

All learning processes come with both successes and failures. Kids need to learn how to accept when they have trouble with a concept and be willing to put in the effort necessary to understand it. Online math games and interactive learning aids give kids a chance to go back and work on anything they find hard by giving them an easier, more inviting way to address their struggles. By taking difficult concepts and presenting them with the aid of colorful settings and friendly characters, games help to ease kids' fear of failure and offer support as they work through things that might otherwise baffle them if presented in a textbook or on a worksheet.