How to Homeschool on a Limited Budget
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Decided to homeschool but have a limited to zero budget? That's perfectly fine. You don't have to purchase a fancy curriculum or fancy supplies. Sure, those can be nice, but they're really not necessary for a quality education. All you need is the good old internet, the library, nature, and an open mind. I will show you how to use the above resources to your full advantage.
Utilize the Public Library
This is a very powerful resource if you take full advantage of all it has to offer. The most obvious resource a library has is the books. There are so many books with so much information in them waiting to be checked out and read. There are regular storybooks, reference books, books on many topics your kids will study, and some libraries even have textbooks.
But, what other resources does a library have?
All libraries will vary, but they usually have tapes, compact discs, and even VHS and DVD videos. Especially look for National Geographic videos when doing science lessons. You can also find how-to videos at most libraries that will be useful in a variety of different subjects.
Another good resource at a library is story-time. Although story-time is listed for younger ages, many elementary-aged children still enjoy it. Who doesn't enjoy listening to and acting out their favorite stories? There are also many free classes and workshops available at the library that can be very useful lessons. Some of the lessons I have seen include pottery making, drawing, American History, Ancient History, all about frogs, reading under the stars, and much more.
Just keep the librarians informed of what you are doing and what you need and they will help you. In fact, you will probably become good friends with the librarians because you will find yourself at the library often.
Take Advantage of Nature
Using nature to learn can be very effective as well as fun and exciting. Taking a simple nature walk can enrich the mind as well as the soul. Any park, zoo, or even your backyard or neighborhood field will do for a nature walk. See how many different animals and insects you can find. If you are studying leaves, collect and examine different types of leaves. Maybe you're studying mammals. See how many mammals your children can find and have them study their habits.
Whatever you're studying, be sure to observe it in it's natural state and bring home samples of it wherever possible. Nature holds an unlimited wealth of information. Be sure to use every opportunity nature gives you. Even if you come across something interesting that your child is not studying, it is still beneficial to take advantage of it.
Remember that nature does not always act in your favor, so if you see something you may be able to use later, study it as if you are learning about that subject. If you can, film it or at least document it in some other way (take pictures, write down everything, draw pictures, etc...). That way when you learn about it in more depth, you will have it to reference back to.
Peruse the Internet
There are many, many websites filled with the information you need. You don't have to be a pro to find it. Sure, it helps, but it isn't necessary. All you need is any search engine. I like to use a variety of search engines, to mix up the results a little. Some of the results will be the same, but some will not. Whatever you're looking for, think of the simplest way to word it and also in a way so you get more results.
Say you need an early fluency reading lesson. While early fluency is exactly what you want, sometimes words like this can give you results for items you'll have to pay for. Instead, try typing in "free reading lessons grade 1" or "free reading printables grade 1". Phrases like this produce the exact results you're looking for.
However, this can go both ways. Sometimes you do need to be very concise rather than wording it a certain way. Maybe your child is doing a research paper on Mary McLeod Bethune. You would just type in "Mary McLeod Bethune" because you want information on her. When you are just looking for information, type just the subject you're looking for so your info will be aplenty.
Another useful way the internet can help you is by networking. You can find lots of other homeschooling moms who are usually more than willing to share their ideas with you. Try searching homeschooling blogs, homeschooling forums, teacher forums, parenting forums, and even popular websites parents use that have their own forums.
Keep an open Mind
Sometimes life just throws learning opportunities at you. They may not always be the subjects your kids are learning at the time, but regardless, they are still important. Everything you say and do in daily life is a learning lesson. Don't underestimate the power of a grocery trip, a walk, a bike ride, a camping trip, a car ride, a talk during dinner, or any other daily activity.
Draw on life to teach your child new and exciting things daily. When your child asks a question, don't ever shrug off any question. No question is too big or too small. If you don't know the answer, look it up on the internet. you don't have to let your child know you don't know the answer. Just say something like, "That's a good question.Let's see what we can find about that." That way you don't sound unintelligent and your child still gets the answer.
Joining a homeschool group can also help. If your city doesn't have any, sometimes a city right outside your city can have one that would welcome you and your child. You'll probably learn so much teaching your child that you didn't learn in school. Homeschooling can do that to you.
Don't ever discount anything that can help your child learn. Some ideas people give you may seem outlandish at first, but as long as they don't harm anyone, most everything is worth a try. Your outlook on life will probably change a lot once you begin homeschooling. Who knows, you may even start your own homeschooling group.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Math should be an important part of your child's daily life. The problem we sometimes face is the kids don't want to do math drills every day. So, what do you do? You play some easy and effective math games. This turns math into fun instead of a chore. These games can be used in classrooms, homeschool, or just for regular home study. Parents and teachers alike will find them quite useful.
Mix it Up
Variety is important when it comes to teaching and interacting with children. Not only does it show them how to do things in different ways, but it also keeps them interested. Variety can be a leading motivator in getting your children to learn quickly and efficiently without the fuss. Be sure to rotate the games for each subject the children are learning. It's OK to play a favorite game more often than the others, but the others should still be thrown in as well to provide that variety you're looking for. Keep in mind that some of these games will require the Everything Math Deck, so you may want to make or purchase one ahead of time.
Fact Triangles are another form of flashcards. Make your own fact triangles by cutting out 3x3x3 triangle shapes out of poster board or card stock. You will need enough to cover facts for each number from 0 to 13. You can make these for addition & subtraction or for multiplication & division.
Fact Triangles consist of three numbers that work together to form a fact family. For example, if you are making Fact Triangles for addition & subtraction, one of your fact families could contain 3, 4, and 7. You will place the largest number on top of the triangle and the two smaller numbers on the side corners of the triangle. As you make the cards, you will need to keep track of which numbers you have already made so you don't make duplicate cards. The easiest way is to write down all the facts for the set you are making and cross them off as you go.
The basic way of using the fact triangles is to hold them up in front of the child with a finger over the factor or product you don't want showing. Then, you ask your child the appropriate question. This can get boring, so sometimes you'll need to mix it up a little and have fun. How about turning it into a game show and awarding the winner a small prize? You could also try making up a fun song that will help them remember how to find the answers.
Another fun game with the fact triangles is something I call "Triangle Collect". Every time someone gets a correct answer, they get to collect the triangle. When all the triangles are gone, the players can count their triangles and see who got the most. Don't give a reward every time, but sometimes you can give a small reward. It will be appreciated more if it's a surprise and they don't expect it.
You can make flashcards for any subject your child is studying. Making the flash cards is fairly simple. You can use index cards, card stock, or poster board paper. If you use index cards, you won't have to cut out anything, but I suggest using colored card stock or poster board so your child cannot see the answer through the paper. First, determine how many cards you will need. Facts can be written on both sides with the answer to the problem on the opposite side at the top or bottom in small print. This saves paper and makes it easy for the person giving the flash card quiz to know what the student is looking at.
Flash cards are used much in the same way as fact triangles. You hold them up for the child to see and wait to hear the correct answer. This regular method can be useful at times, but can also get too repetitive and dull for the child. While it's important to use this basic technique a couple times a week, you can also try playing different games with the flashcards.
Flashcards usually come with a parent card that has game suggestions. Use those as well as some of your own. Try playing "Around The World" using flashcards rather than questions. "Around the World" is a popular game played in schools all over the U.S. If you are not familiar with it, try doing an internet search for "Around The World Flash Card Game". It should be easy to find.
Bingo is a game most children enjoy. Now you can use it to teach your kids as well. There are many different versions of this game. You can make a Bingo Game for just about any math subject. All you need to do is make the calling problems, make boards with the answers to them, and make marking pieces or use pennies as markers. If you don't feel like designing these yourself, you can also do an internet search for "printable math bingo" or other such terms. I suggest laminating all the game pieces for prolonged use. That way you won't have to keep printing them up. My children will still play the versions for facts they already know, simply because they're fun, so try and keep them in good shape to make them last.
1. Skip Toss (instructions below)
2. Addition Top-It
3. Name That Number (can be used for all operations;+,-,x,/)
4. Penny Grab (Two-Fisted Pennies)
5. Math Rummy
6. Who Wants Pizza? (fun online method for learning fractions)
7. Bug Splat (online fraction addition game)
8. Equivalent Fractions Game (online)
9. Baseball Multiplication
10. Murb's Fun & Furry (can be used for all operations;+,-,x,/)
This is a multiplication game I invented for my kids.
Form a circle of players (if there are only 2, stand across from one another. if there are 3, form a triangle).
Player one has the ball.
The object is to skip count 14 times per number. Zero and One will not be used. Start with 2's.
If the number in play is 2, player one tosses the ball to the player on the right and says 2. As that player catches the ball, he/she says 4 and throws the ball to the next player. As that player catches the ball, he/she says 6 and so on. Continue until the number has been skip-counted 14 times. Then, move on to the next number. Play this for at least 20 minutes each day. This can replace the flash cards., but be sure to rotate with both.
(purchase these or download printable ones)
1. Base 10 Blocks
2. Graph Paper
3. Graph Paper w/multiplication
4. Coordinate Grids
6. Pattern Blocks
7. Fact Triangles(assorted and blanks)
8. Play Money
9. Fraction Manipulatives
10. Attribute Blocks
11. Charts (100 chart, multiplication chart, etc...)
12. Pattern Blocks/Tangrams
13. Base 5 Blocks
14. Rods(use w/color tiles for fraction practice)
15. Color Tiles
16. Pattern Block Grid Paper
17. Geoboard Paper
18. Beginner's Graph Paper
19. Polar Graph Paper
Manipulatives are an important part of various math lessons. They will help the children to visualize what the problems stand for and how the answers make sense. Many games and math lessons include the use of manipulatives, so you will find yourself using these often. I recommend using cardstock for your manipulatives and laminating them after you make them. Another way to make your manipulatives sturdy is by using thin cuttable plastic sheets (stencil blanks sold in craft stores work well) to make them. You may want to print and make several copies of all of these and store them in plastic tubs or containers. For the graph papers and charts, I still suggest laminating them and letting your students use write & wipe markers. That way the charts will last longer and the students can use them over and over for more practice.
Notes: Math games should be played for at least 20 minutes every day, in addition to your child's regular math homework or study. This makes the lessons stick in your child's mind and also makes the math more fun.
*A version of this article was previously posted on the Yahoo! Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Comprehension is an essential part of learning and surviving in today's world. No matter what subject your child is learning, comprehension skills are vital. Comprehension skills are those that help your child to recognize and remember the important details of a story or the methods to solve a problem.
In Math, comprehension is the understanding of the mathematical process being performed to find the solution. In Reading, comprehension is the understanding of what is being read. In Science, comprehension is the understanding of what is read and also what is performed during experiments. Those are just some examples of the importance of comprehension.
Without comprehension, not much can be accomplished. Comprehension is used daily, even by the minute. In order to cook, clean, drive, or sing a song, we need to comprehend what we are doing. In order to write this article, I need comprehension. As you can see, comprehension is vital to succeed.
Here are two great activities that will help build and enhance your child's comprehension. These games were invented by me for my own children to use.
Find My Details
Materials: A book or story
Number of Players: 1 or more
Directions for sentence details: A child who is just starting to recognize details and main ideas or a child who is struggling, should start out with sentence details first.
Point to a sentence in the story. Have the child read the sentence out loud. Once the child has read the sentence, the child needs to go back and read the sentence again, this time only reading the important details aloud. If the child struggles with which words are important, explain to your child how words like and, to, but, and if are only necessary to form a sentence, but when you need to remember important details, they are not so important. For example, in the
sentence "Tom ate three apples while swinging on a branch", the child would read aloud for the details: "Tom ate three apples swinging on branch". While the sentence, of course, does not make any sense, it makes the details stick out. Teach your child that when reading a sentence, they only need to remember the important details. They don't need to remember the sentence word for word.
Directions for paragraph details: The directions for the paragraph mode are the same as the sentence mode. There will just be more than one sentence to read. Start out with shorter paragraphs and progress to longer ones as your child advances.
My Amazing Mazes
In this activity, your child will look at mazes in a different way. While the goal is usually only to get to the end of the maze, this is a little different.
Materials: mazes (Mazes can be easily found and printed from the internet for free. Just do a search for "free printables mazes".) and a pencil for each player
Number of Players: 1 or more
Directions: Once each child has a maze and a pencil, you will explain this to them. Tell the children that they need to first solve the maze. Then, you will do something fun and interesting with it. Once the children have solved their mazes, tell them it's time for the fun part. Next, tell them to examine the mazes and figure out how the artist made the maze direct them the way it did. They should trace the lines with the pencil or their fingers. They should be thinking about what would have happened if the maze was drawn a different way. Ask them each individually what would happen if certain lines were taken away. Would it create a new way to solve the maze? Do this with several different sections on each child's maze. This helps to build comprehension in that it shows the child the importance of details and how and why things are done.
More Reading Activities on Life Successfully
Create a Library, Classroom, and Playroom All in One Room: The Read and Play Class
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
When you have children, you likely want to have a library, a classroom, and a playroom. Here you'll learn how to incorporate all three into one special room that you and your children are sure to enjoy for years to come. As a homeschooling mother, as well as a live-out nanny, this type of room is vital to our household. This is a room I have created more than once. Even in households where the children are not homeschooled, a classroom area is beneficial, as it gives a designated and comfortable area for completing homework assignments, as well as reading, crafting, and playing.
Step 1: Choosing The Room
Some people might only have one possible room to create this space in. Others will have a few selections. Remember that extra bedrooms can be used as well. The ideal location of the room is on the first floor. However, if you do not have an extra room on your first floor, the second floor will work as well, providing you are not doing childcare out of your home. An in-home childcare facility must be operated only on the first floor. If your kitchen has room for a table
and you also have a dining room, consider using the dining room for your playroom/classroom/library, or what I like to call the "Read & Play Class". When you choose your room, be sure to choose the largest room available. This can be done in a small room, but larger rooms are ideal for maximum storage and use of materials.
Step 2: Choosing and Applying A Theme and Colors
Some people prefer a theme and some color and others don't. A popular theme is to just use the primary colors (red, blue, yellow, green) in all the furniture and to accent the walls with decor that matches those colors. If you want some color to the wall for this theme, but don't want it too loud, I suggest using a pale version of one or more of the primary colors. It could also be done in a teacher theme, which usually uses the primary theme, mixed with rulers, pencils, paper, and other teacher-related accent items. You can find many of these items at a variety of different stores, especially during "back to school" season. Whatever theme you choose, be sure it fits well with the ages of your children and also with what you plan on using the room for. Be sure that if you're going to paint, you do it while the room is empty. Cover the floor with a plastic tarp or other paint protector. Let your paint dry thoroughly with the room well-ventilated before placing anything inside the room. Save any accent items and art for the last step.
Step 3: Choosing Or Gathering Furniture - What You'll Need
There are key items that you'll need and some people may prefer to add extra pieces of furniture that are geared toward their personal needs. The basic pieces of furniture needed are a desk for each child (or a large table/desk that will seat all the children), bookshelves, craft unit (usually a unit comprised of shelves, drawers, and cabinets), toy storage units, comfy seats (this can be pillows, bean bags, armchairs, a loveseat, chaise loungers, or whatever fits into your family's lifestyle preference), and a "circle time" rug where the children can sit around you for stories and other activities (pillows can be placed in a convenient area for taking out during this time). If you will be creating activity centers for each subject, you will also need a table and chairs for each station.
This room may sound expensive, but if need be many of these items can be gathered from family, friends, around your house, at yard sales, thrift stores, and even on someone's curb waiting for trash pick-up(providing it's in good shape). Another option is to find out if any area schools or daycare centers are closing. Sometimes they just give away items to anyone who needs them, or at the very least, sell them for cheap.
Remember to be sure you have enough shelf space for all the books, with extra room for display. Be sure that all the toys will be able to put away neatly, with extra room for display and for adding more with time. To be sure this will work, it may be easiest to sort books and toys before picking furniture. Below, you'll see how to choose and/or gather books and toys, as well as how to place them. That should help you determine what you need. Also be sure you will have enough room to store craft supplies and school supplies with extra room to add more later. If there will be a computer in the room, go ahead and set that up when setting up the furniture and allow for a pice of furniture to accomodate the computer and any accessories.
Step 4: Arranging Furniture For The Best Look And Convenience
The furniture will need to be arranged to look appealing, but also in a manner that will allow for easy access. First, arrange the furniture in a way that is appealing to your eye. Next, consider whether all items will be easily accessible once put away. For example, craft supplies should be as close as possible to the craft area. School supplies and computer supplies should be as close as possible to the desks. Everything should be arranged in an appealing, but accessible way. Some may get it on the first try. Others will want to experiment with new ways until they have found one that will work.
Step 5: Choosing Or Gathering Books
Choose some books that fit well with your theme and decor to display as open books standing on the shelves. You may already have some appropriate ones in your home. Look through the books in your house to see what you can find first. The amount you will need will depend on the size of your shelf, as well as the number of shelves you'd like to display the books on. There will be more about arranging the books below.
I also like to hide a few new books the kids will like in with the old for the kids to find later. First, set aside the new books, including the display ones. Sort the other books into stacks according to size and type. In otherwords, put all paperbacks of one size together and all hardbacks of one size together. Do not mix paperbacks and hardbacks. If you have any books that belong in a series, keep those together.
Step 6: Choosing Or Gathering Toys
Depending on the ages and stages of the children that will use the room, the toys will vary. If you already have kids, chances are you have the toys you need already. Some people still like to buy a few extra just for fun. I like to place them along with the old toys and see how long it takes the kids to find them. Gather all the toys you have and sort them out by category. For instance, all building blocks should go together and all cars should go together. Dolls and their accessories should go together. Make piles of each toy category. You may need help from the kids over 5 (or capable of sorting accurately) with this one if there is a considerable amount of toys.
Step 7: Arranging Books, Supplies, and Toys Neatly, but Accessible
Now that you have the furniture picked out and the toys and books sorted, it's time to begin putting everything away. For the toys, start with one category at a time, placing it in the drawer, shelf, or other area you have designated for that category. Continue in this manner until all toys are put away. Some toys you will want to leave out for easy access, such as a favorite pull toy or just toys you want on display. Set these aside as you go along and save shelf space for them. When you are finished with the other toys, set up your display toys. There may also be stand-alone toys. Consider these part of your furniture because they will take up space as well.
Once the toys are finished, you can move onto the books. Arrange the books by type (paperback together, hardback together) on the shelves. Start with the tallest books first. Then, end with the lowest on the end. Remember your piles should already be sorted by size and type, so this will be fairly easy. Don't forget to leave empty shelves where you want to display books. Some may choose to do this only on one shelf. Others may want a display on every other shelf. It's all about personal taste. If the display shelf is out of reach of children, you might consider adding some of the accent pieces mentioned in the theme section.
Put away all crafts and school supplies in their designated areas. Be sure to leave space for adding more later. Supplies will likely grow over time.
Once you are done arranging the furniture and putting away all the toys, you may have accent items you want to add such as picture frames, decorative boxes, or other knick-knacks. Place these in the spot/s you deem appropriate. Just be sure they are out of reach of the children. Remember, this is mainly a room for children. Although other family members will likely use it to read and study, center the focus around the children and keep it safe. If you have a place for circle time, this is the time to store away any pillows you will need to take out during circle time. A low, roomy cabinet works best for this.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
How to Homeschool With Minimal Stress
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
When you made the choice to homeschool, I bet the first thing on your mind was not the stress. You probably imagined some fairy tale where all the children sat still and listened to you lecture or followed along with everything you said and did. Then, once you got started, you were snapped back into reality. I can't promise you a fairy tale, but I can help you get things running much smoother. When you're fully organized and prepared, each day will be easier. Exact organization layouts will be different for each family, but by reading the following, you should be able to get your schoolwork and homeschool organized easily and effectively.
1. Tear out and laminate workbook pages and put them in binders for each subject. Arrange the page order according to level. If you make a big one that contains all levels and areas of math, you won't have to purchase any more math workbooks the following years and you have work for all your kids. Just pull out the pages one at a time and give them to your child with a write & wipe marker or crayon. Then, when your child is finished and the work has been gone over, you can easily put it back in. You may want to take a Sharpie and number the pages in the order you want them. That way if more than one child has a worksheet, you can easily remember where they belong.
2. Take some relaxing time for yourself each day. If your kids nap, instead of cleaning during their nap, you could take a soak in the tub, curl up with a book, or do something else you enjoy. Your relaxing time may come after the kids are asleep, but be sure to take it. Even five minutes of locking yourself in the bathroom and praying can go a long way.
3. Plan ahead. If you try to do the assignments as they come, this can stress you out. I recommend taking a weekend to plan a month or so of assignments. That way you can easily give the assignments to your child/ren when it's time.
4. Organize each subject for each child. Each child should have a folder for each subject. The assignments should be placed in those folders in order of when they are to be completed. Even though some assignments won't have a worksheet, there should be instructions for each assignment (even if it's just reading). All assignments should have a date on them. You can even stick the write&wipe sheets in the folders, too. This makes the day run much smoother.
5. Never ignore a question your child asks. If you don't know the answer, don't stress. Just look it up.
6. Use different methods for teaching (chalkboard and lecture, books, games, worksheets, drawing, writing...). That way your child/ren won't get bored and they will also learn many different methods for solving problems.
7. Have Fun!
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Busy and Enriching Activities for Babies & Toddlers While You Homeschool Older Kids
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Are you struggling with trying to homeschool or do homework with your older kids when you've got babies or toddlers running around? As a veteran homeschool mom and former nanny, I've got some simple and enriching activities to keep babies and toddlers busy. The main idea is to be sure the smaller ones always have something to do so that they will feel included and won't have a reason to distract you.
Make the kids a special place. If your older kids do work at the table, make a spot for the younger ones as well. They will also need a schoolbox with safety scissors, glue sticks, and sharp pencils. Keep this box at the "school" spot. Be sure to also keep on hand, and within reach, construction paper, crayons, finger paint, washable markers, puzzles, write & wipe markers, and workbooks. Stay tuned for a handy workbook trick.
Paper crafts can be very entertaining for babies and toddlers. The general rule with paper crafts is to have everything ready ahead of time. That way, when the time is right, the craft can be easily placed in front of the child without causing a bunch of commotion and excitement from trying to cut out everything. Make sure that a glue stick is handy as well. Glitter is pretty, but a bad idea for little ones. It will be a never-ending clean-up job for mom. I suggest using sequins instead if you must have something shiny. Here are a couple of my paper favorites.
Pre-cut three white circles of 3 different sizes, 1 scarf of your child's favorite color, 2 black boots, 3 button holes, 2 black eyes, a carrot for the mouth, a button for the nose, 2 sticks for the arms, and some clouds for the sky. Create one yourself, so the child will have something to look at. Place all the supplies into a baggie or plastic tote with a lid. When you are ready for your child to use it, you can take it out at a moment's notice. All you need to do is hand the child the kit, a blank paper to glue it onto, and a glue stick. Note that there are alot of pieces to put together. This makes the project take up time. The child will not feel the need to ask you for help because all the supplies are there and there is a picture for reference, so there is nothing to ask.
Cut out tons of shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle, octagon, etc...) in many different colors. Place them all in a baggie or small plastic tote with lid. When you are ready for your child to do this, simply take out the baggie, hand the child a large piece of construction paper and a glue stick, and tell the child to make you a city. I recommend making lots of these shapes and keeping them in a larger container, as they can come in handy for other ideas you may have. You can put a small container of them in front of your child to minimize the mess.
Busy toys will keep your babies and toddlers entertained for hours on end. These will vary from child to child, but here are some that are usually universal.
Dolls with lots of accessories
Cars with tracks or play stations
Doll Heads (the ones that allow you to comb and style the hair)
Keep your babies and toddlers busy with schooling as well. If the child is under a year old, scribbling on paper will do just fine. It will keep the child busy and make the child feel included. If the child is 1-2, tell the child to draw a particular thing. Depending on how advanced your child is, at this age, shape, letter, and number tracing can also be done.
Make schoolwork last longer to keep younger kids occupied
1. Make reusable practice sheets. Buy a pad of manuscript writing paper and write and wipe markers. Draw a shape, number, or letter on each one (both sides can be utilized) until you have all 26 letters, the numbers from 0 to 10, and square, triangle, circle, rectangle, and diamond. Draw a dotted version next to your version. On the letters, make sure to represent the uppercase on the top half of the sheet and the lowercase on the bottom. Now tear out all the sheets and laminate them. You now have practice sheets for your child to use over and over again. These can be placed in a binder if you wish or kept in a plastic tote or baggie.
2. Make reusable workbooks. Buy various preschool and kindergarten workbooks or one thick one. Make sure you get the ones with tear out pages. Laminate all the pages and put them in order from easiest to hardest. Punch holes in them to fit in a binder and place them all in a binder. You now have a "forever" workbook that can be used with write & wipe markers. Your child gets lots of practice and it's ok if the workbook gets done in one day or scribbled on. It can be erased and done again. (fun for the kids, less stress for mom) I also suggest keeping a small amount of baby wipes or a wet cloth handy for the child to wipe away the writing.
More Handy Tips
1. For smaller babies (0-4 months), a bouncy seat with toys can be fun. Try placing it on the table in the center of everyone, so the baby feels like he/she is part of the action. This will make the baby feel more secure and there will be less crying to distract the teaching. If you are doing "circle-time" (group reading), place the baby in the center of the family circle. The baby can listen to the story and watch everyone pass around the book while she/he sits in a comfortable seat. Sometimes if you turn on the vibration motion in the seat, the child will fall asleep during this time (an added bonus).
2. For older babies (6 months to 1 year), a favorite blankie with toys on it is entertaining. Always place the baby near everyone else. If you are doing "circle-time" (group reading), place the baby's fun blankie in the center of everyone. Add a soft book to the toy collection. The baby can listen to the story and watch everyone pass around the book. The baby will also feel like he/she is part of the "game".
3. Laminate a bunch of the paper shapes from above with thick laminate. Keep them in a plastic tote. Give them to preschoolers (over 3 because of choking hazards) for some busy fun. They can also be used to make patterns with for preschoolers who are learning about patterns.
4. Design the younger kids' activities around whatever the big kids are learning. Maybe the big kids are learning about dinosaurs, so the little ones can build a Lego dinosaur or make a dinosaur collage.
The basic idea is to take out an activity your child enjoys during the time you will be lecturing your students. Save the not-so-engaging toys for the non-learning times. Don't forget that your younger ones still need attention and lessons, too. Just because they are not school-aged, doesn't mean their learning isn't just as important. Sometimes the babies and toddlers can get ignored or stashed in the playpen for too long because of the hard task of teaching the older kids. Just remember to always include the the younger kids in everything. Even if they are not doing the same exact thing, they will still feel important when they get their "work" or they get to do their activity because they're doing it with you and their siblings just like the big kids.
The Social Scene for Homeschooled Teens: How Homeschooled Teens Can Get or Stay Social
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
I have been asking readers their concerns about homeschool. Sometimes parents worry that teens educated in the home may miss out on prom and other activities. Layla Lair was wondering if I had any suggestions on things homeschooled teens could do to stay social and continue to develop relationships.
Like teens in a traditional school setting, homeschooled teens also can participate in team sports. Sports are great for social skills. Teens not only learn how to work with others, but they may also find lasting friendships. Many areas have teams for homeschooled teens. However, they also are often allowed to play on local high school teams or other co-ed teams that are open to all teens, regardless of schooling method. This actually gives a homeschooled teen more choices in some instances.
Volunteer work is not only a very noble and useful act, but it can also add to the social life of a teen. Depending on the type of volunteer work, teens may interact with people that are a wide range of ages, including their own. This gives valuable work and even friendship experiences. Plus teens will come away from something like this knowing they've made a difference in someone else's life. Homeschooled teens may have more options to choose from when it comes to volunteer work because their school schedule could be more flexible.
Afterschool Clubs & Organizations
Afterschool clubs and organizations are not restricted to teens in traditional school. Homeschooled teens can attend these social gatherings and activities as well. Organizations that provide great social, physical, and educational activities, such as the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club, are open to everyone.
Just like a teen in traditional school may get an afterschool job to earn college funds or simply to learn responsibility, so can a homeschooled teen. This not only provides valuable work ethics and experience, but it also can be a great social environment. In many job settings, teens will come across a variety of people every day.
Community College Classes
Because homeschooled teens have a flexible schedule, this leaves many open to taking extra courses at the community college. This is excellent for earning college credits, but homeschooled teens can also use this as an extra social opportunity.
Homeschooling allows for more flexibility as far as where school takes place. For many homeschool families, school is not always about the books. Of course, it has to be for some things, but homeschooled teens have the opportunity to learn things through doing them versus only reading about them in a book. For instance, when learning about certain things in natural science, a homeschooled teen could study the natural environment. When learning about other things, the teen may go to a museum tour, take an extra course outside the home, or the parent may hire an expert to give a lecture. Children in traditional school do this with some things as well, but a homescholed teen has more freedom and opportunity to do this with many more lessons. In doing many of these things, there will be social interaction.
Church Clubs & Activities
If the homeschooled teen happens to be one of certain faiths, he or she may belong to a church. Many will have classes, activities, clubs, and events that the teen can get involved in. Some of these might include choir, praise dancing, drama, Sunday school, or even volunteering. By joining church activities and clubs, the teen can add another opportunity for social interaction with peers.
Prom and Other Teen Activities
Many worry that their teen will not have a prom or be able to attend school games or other events if they are homeschooled. This does not have to be a reality. Not only do many homeschool organizations and groups hold events like these for homeschooled teens, but they may also get invitied to the events at the local high schools. A homeschooled teen may have friends that attend the local high school and most will allow students to bring along someone from another school. This includes homeschooled kids.
Homeschool Group Activities
Some families who homeschool choose to join homeschool groups. These are groups of people who also homeschool their children. They meet a certain number of times each week or month for social activities, field trips, events, and more.
Homeschool co-ops are when parents of homeschooled children hold various classes for the children at scheduled times. One parent is generally assigned to each subject and the group agrees to meet at a specified time a certain number of times per week or month. Some homeschool co-ops are meant as a supplement to what the children are learning at home, as well as a way for the children to socially interact with each other. Yet others are used much in the same way as traditional school.
Family as Friends
Some teens may have one or more siblings or relatives they spend time with frequently. While these friends are part of the family, they still can be considered and do have an important role in social interaction. Whether a friend or group of friends comes from inside or outside the family, interacting with them adds to the overall social skills of a teen. The same is true for the parent-child relationship. Varied relationships and opportunities put together create a great social network for a teen.
Ordinary Teen Activities
A homeschool teen is still a teen, just like a public school kid is a teen and a private school kid is a teen. They are all individuals, hopefully not defined only by which type of school they attend. On that same note, teens do not have to attend the same school or even the same type of school to maintain a friendship. Ordinary teen social activities, such as hanging out with friends, going to the mall, going to movies, and more are all activities you might see a teenager doing. A homeschooled teen is no different in this regard. If they had friends before starting homeschool, those friends don't automatically disappear. If the teen has been homeschooled all his or her life, there are (and likely already were) plenty of opportunities to make friends, such as at any of the activities listed above, interacting with neighbors, and much more.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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Homeschooling: Enhancing Social Skills
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Some may assume that because parents homeschool, their children will not be social. However, this is generally far from the case. Does homeschooling mean the child is locked up in the house all day? While that may be true for a fraction of families, this is not the case for most. I'm a veteran homeschool mom who has been dedicated to enhancing social skills in my kids for years. Have no clue how to keep your kids social? Just curious? Read on. You may find a new idea you hadn't thought of. There are various ways to go about increasing social skills. Many of them will come easy because they are simply an extension of your child's daily learning and activities. Being social is generally a part of a homeschooled child's daily routine by default.
Take elective courses, such as art and music at a separate location from your home. You can even do this in a group of homeschooled kids or a co-op. This way the core subjects will still be taught by you and your children will get a little extra knowledge in something they love. Some community centers and private organizations offer these classes for free or at a low-cost.
Offer arts & crafts time at your house. If you cannot find a resource, consider becoming one. Chances are, other families have been looking for something similar. Try scheduling craft activities a few times per week for children the same ages as yours. If you don't know many people in the neighborhood, try posting about the events at the local library, schools, or anywhere else you are allowed.
Attend story time and other activities at your local library. Depending on the ages of your children and what's on the schedule, your local library could have a great deal to offer. Some libraries offer special classes on a variety of subjects. At the very least, there will be story times to take advantage of.
Take field trips often. Visiting parks, museums, zoos, and other educational venues can also help enhance social skills. Because these trips will naturally be a part of the homeschool curriculum, this one is simple to implement. Don;t just visit the places. Talk to the tour guides and other visitors. Take the extra informational courses, workshops, and special classes. This gets the kids interacting with people of all ages, which is vital to social development. When visiting the park, go during times many other children will also be there. Let the kids make friends and schedule play dates.
Be sure that your child also has many opportunities to play with friends, attend birthday parties, attend family gatherings, and other social activities. The next time you go to the grocery store, let your child do the shopping and have the child ask the store associates for help when an item cannot be found. Also ask the child to pay. Have a bake sale and sell baked goods and lemonade. Plan a neighborhood block party once per month. You and the kids can volunteer to help out at a local church, soup kitchen, or other social organizations. This can help with not only enhancing social skills, but in teaching humility and caring. Maybe your child is a baker.
Homeschooling offers so many more ways to be social than other schooling methods because of its flexibility. Just be creative and go with the flow. In the end, your child will grow immensely. When I first started homeschooling my children, I was worried about social skills. But I soon realized that my kids had more opportunities to enhance social skills than they ever did before.
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Your child's learning is essential to success as an adult and in the business world. We must make sure our children are learning every day. This is not only important during school time, but also necessary during playtime and during normal every day activities. As a veteran mom, I have seen what incorporating learning into your child's daily life can do.
Go through the motions step by step. If you do not emphasize to your child what is going on while running through the normal daily motions, they will become just that, motions without reason. Your child needs to not only learn the hows of doing things, but learn the whys as well. Explain these things in a way your child will understand. For instance, there is no need to go into extreme details with a toddler. But an older child will want to know more information.
One way to make things easier for your child to pick up on is by playing mini games. You could turn a house cleaning into a trivia time, asking the child/ren related questions. Maybe you're doing dishes. Ask your child, "How come we have to wash the dishes with soap instead of just rinsing them with hot water?" The child may answer, "because soap gets them clean". Your response could be: "That's right because if we don't use soap, nasty germs can spread and cause infections. Yuck! We better make sure we always use soap and rinse it off really well so we don't have to taste the soap. Ewwww." So, you can see how easy that was. The child learns how to correctly do dishes, but also learns why it is important. When children know why something is important, they are more likely to complete the task than if you just tell them to do it "because you said so". This also gives them knowledge they can use in their adult lives.
Add extra bits of information to conversations with your child. Your child might be playing with her dolls and a question pops into her mind. She says, "Mommy, how come some people have dark skin and some people have light skin? Instead of saying a quick response like "That's just the way God made us", try saying something like this: "Well, honey, there's different weather in different parts of the world. Some people are around the sun more, so they get darker from something called melatonin that comes from the sun. We are all the same on the inside though, because that's the way God wants us. Wouldn't the world be boring if we all looked the same? How weird would that be? How would we tell each other apart, then?" A response like this not only teaches your child to respect everyone, but also teaches your child about melatonin and makes her think about why there are so many different colors of people, rather than just dismissing it, as the first response causes.
Make sure that none of your child's questions go unanswered or short-answered. Yes, sometimes we can inadvertently ignore our child's questions when we are tired, but we have to remember that their little minds have to be constantly fed. Ignoring their questions or telling them "not right now" can not only hamper their chance for finding that answer they're seeking, but it can discourage them from asking further questions. Not having the desire to question things can adversely affect your child's learning process.
Draw on what your child is learning in school. Take extra time after homework to go over what your child has learned. Research your child's topics further. If your child has been learning about frogs, go to a pet shop and have the pet shop owner tell your child all about them. Look up frogs online. Maybe your zoo or museum has a frog display. Buy a frog book. Play leapfrog. Just be creative and come up with ways to make the lesson "sticky" in your child's mind.
With these things in mind, be prepared to take your child to a whole new exciting level of learning and life. Don't be limited to just my ideas. Come up with your own as well. Have fun and happy learning!
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Reading is Good
by Richard Rowell, Staff Writer
As a writer, it seems rather obvious that I should say that “reading is good.” But let me tell you. As someone who didn’t pick up a book for a long time, until this past weekend, I had forgotten just how true that statement was. Sure, I’ve been reading plenty of blogs and articles, but there is something about sitting there or laying back and reading a full-length book that reading short-form material simply doesn’t provide.
For some time, I had been feeling my writing was particularly lacking. A couple of people pointed out that I wasn’t at my best, and I couldn’t help but agree. It seemed to be lacking emotion. Some of my pieces were too straight-shooting and bland to even dare put my name on and so I held them back to rewrite them. When I did rewrite them, they showed a tinge of frustration and it was clear I was trying too hard to make the pieces sound like they actually had some passion behind them. While they were okay posts, they were clearly not my best work.
It seems that my writing became very two-dimensional for a while. For some topics, that was fine. But there were a lot of things on my mind that I simply could find no way to properly express. But lately, I read a couple of books that made me think about a lot of things that I’ve thought about for a long time. They put things in perspective, and helped me to gain back that third dimension to my thinking that I had apparently lost due to lack of reading. In between those two, I read something much less serious, a biography of former Red Sox manager Terry Francona. But the act of simply reading the books has helped me to regain a little bit of myself that I had lost.
One of my main issues with reading is that I simply cannot read more than one book at a time. Sometimes I’ve been able to push two. But I have a strange problem where if I try to read more than one book at any one time, I tend to not remember much of what I read. When I was younger, I would speed read through a lot of books, remember just enough for a book report, then totally forget what I read. I wouldn’t retain a thing. Other times, I’d pick up a book and if it didn’t hold my attention after the first 20 pages or so, I’d put it down and never pick it up again. Even worse, I would get about halfway through a book, then put it aside for months, then pick it up again and feel like I have to read the whole thing over. So I wouldn’t read it again, as it obviously didn’t hold my attention before, so why would it now?
While I never really wanted to admit this, my reading comprehension skills were actually quite awful all the way through junior high. Certain things, like books about baseball, I would retain fairly well. A few biographies stuck with me, as well. But a lot of books I’ve read over the years I simply did not retain. It wasn’t until freshman year of high school when I implemented my one-book-at-a-time rule. Then I started actually retaining and comprehending what I read.
It may have something to do with how my brain likes to hyper-focus on things. When it comes to books, my brain simply can’t go from book to book. Articles I can blow through because they’re so short. But when it comes to 150 or 200 pages of text, my brain simply cannot switch back and forth between texts. It gets confused and so everything I’ve read apparently goes into a big bin of clutter in the back of my head. I don’t think I actually forgot everything I read – it just wasn’t possible for me to recollect things with any sort of ease. But for a time after I left college, I couldn’t read almost any book without forgetting what it was about almost immediately after putting it down – with a very few exceptions. My reading comprehension skills seemed to evaporate on me. And every time I stopped consistently reading books for any real length of time, my writing thusly suffered badly.
On the other hand, I retained lectures very well if I took written notes. I rarely ever read textbooks because the same problem would happen – I’d never retain it unless I took notes. I considered taking notes as I read books, too. But then it felt too academic, so I never did it and simply gave up reading for a while. Occasionally I’d go on a binge where I’d read a bunch by one author, but I still wasn’t retaining much. It’s only recently that I’ve apparently regained enough of my sanity that I can actually sit down and read without my mind horribly wandering off. That was another problem that I’ve had – my mind wandering as I’m in the middle of a sentence, putting the book down and never coming back to it.
I just need to keep finding books that make me think, so I’m focusing on non-fiction. The pattern of having a book that makes me think and a more leisurely book like a biography then another thinker is probably one I’ll keep to for a while. The most important thing for any writer is to read, but even if you’re not a writer, reading helps you expand your mind and exposes you to a lot of ideas. Reading helps you find new ways of thinking about things, or teaching you how to express ideas you’ve always had but never knew how to actually put forward.
Reading is good, not just for writing, but keeping your mind fresh. Mine apparently was rotting, finding itself too easily distracted. While I’m no longer going to try to force my brain into reading too much at once, I do at least need to coax it into at least finishing a book every couple of days. It’s a bit of discipline that I’d lost, and right now, I need all the self-discipline I can get!
Good thing I started forcing myself to read again. I probably wouldn’t have been able to write anymore. And that would’ve been bad.
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
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