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.