Summer Fun Activities

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Now that summer is here, we are all looking for something to do with our kids.  Probably, if you are like me, you are looking for something cheap in between a couple vacation weeks.  There are so many things you can find to do with only dollar store items, and all kinds of cheap supplies.  In this post I will share a few that are really fun and simple for the younger crowd.

Sponge Necklace

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This is a really “cool” idea – I mean “cool”.  Get some basic sponges, cutt them in small cube shapes.  Thread a needle and run the thread through all the sponges making a necklace long enough for each child.  When you are done, wet all the sponges and wear to keep you cool while playing out side.  You can also use a toothpick and tie the thread to it so your kids can make by themselves.

 

 

Shower Curtain Dry Erase Board

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This is fun for any age!  Get a white shower curtain liner, spread it out anywhere (I prefer on the grass).  You can do this inside as well, great for a rainy day actually.  Get some dry erase markers, and away they go.  The shower curtain can be washed off again and again to re-use it many times.

 

 

 

Painting With Glue

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This can be done at the picnic table!  All you need is glue, food coloring and tooth picks.  You can do this on a plastic lid, aluminum foil, or just about anything really.  Put some glue on your surface, and use the toothpicks to dunk in the food coloring.  Then take the toothpick and swirl it around in the glue, making any designs you like.  When the glue dries, you have a masterpiece!  You can frame these, or have your kids make sets to hang in their rooms.  This is so much fun for the junior age set.

 

 

Match Box Car Track

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This is a great idea for those kids who always have a car in their hands.  Take some painters tape (will be able to remove easy) and make a roadway on your carpet or bare floors.  You can add stop signs, road signs, trees or just about anything really.  The bigger the track the better by the way.  This actually is a two fold craft, your kids can get construction paper and cut out just about anything they want to put on their road map.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget your local Home Depot and Lowes stores!  Home Depot has Kids Workshops on the first Saturday of every month.  Lowes has a Build and Grow program with great opportunities to join your young ones to create something wonderful.

My boys really loved this when they were younger.  The great thing about doing these things at Home Depot and Lowes is that they provide all the supplies you need.  It makes for a great father/son or father/daughter day!.

Feel free to let me know of any ideas you may have, I always enjoy hearing what other people are doing over the summer.  Hope you are able to get some much needed family time in, and remember, kids don’t care what it is, they just whant to be with you.

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Why Do I Homeschool?

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Some days I think, how can I keep doing this.  The days seem to stretch on, and the years just start to blend together after a while.  My two oldest have graduated – so I’ve been at this for quite some time.  My youngest is only 12, so there ya go – I still have some time left in this homeschool thing.  I was asking myself the other day, what has motivated me through the years to keep this up.  Not only the fact that I love my children dearly, and would do anything for them.  But, what has truly been my motivation for keeping them out of public school.  I’d like to share a few thoughts about this with you in the post.

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Google Searches That May Surprise You

Someone shared this search with me one day, well needless to say, I was overwhelmed.  When I started homeschooling 23 years ago, there was no way to find this kind of information.  I remember that friends of mine would complain about certain things going on in public school, but I never thought it would come to this.  I originally chose to homeschool because I wanted my kids to have a Christian education, and we couldn’t afford private school.  I realized after I started getting more involved with some of the issues that were showing up in the news and around town, that I knew we made the right decision.  Now, again I realize not everyone is able to homeschool, nor even wants to.  I just want to make aware some of the things that motivated me.

With the internet available to almost every child out there, the influences they are getting are not always the ones we would choose for them.  Cyber bullying, stalking, any kind of predator out there that wants to get at your children.

Childhood Depression

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Statistics from NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) has some very scary information.  There is so much pressure put on them to succeed and do well, and being picked on or made fun of by their peers, it’s too much to bare.  I’m not saying homeschool so you can shelter your kids from these issues, but if you can deal with them on a day to day basis, rather than them not telling you about it at all (which is half the problem) you will be ahead of the game.  The important thing to me is keep the lines of communication open, sure you may not know everything that is in their lives, but this will help them feel open to talk to you.

By the way, my kids did have issues, still have issues actually, but if nothing else – they will talk to me.  They know that I will be there for them no matter what, some of the issues have been pretty heavy, but they know I’m there!

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Peer Pressure

You can look at peer pressure in two ways.  While peer pressure is mostly viewed as negative, sometimes your friends influence can be a good thing – they might stop you from doing something that you may regret later such as smoking, drinking, or taking drugs.  Almost everyone has experienced peer pressure before, either positive or negative. Peer pressure is when your classmates, or other people your age, try to get you to do something.  It is so easy to give in to peer pressure because everyone wants to fit in and be liked.  Especially when it seems like “everyone is doing it”.  Sometimes people give in to peer pressure because they do not want to hurt someone’s feelings or they don’t want to be that kid who isn’t “cool”.  Unfortunately, there are more and more of these pressured situations out there today.  With the internet so easily accessible your child has more and more chances to feel this pressure.  I mentioned cyber bullying before, but this is one of the greatest growing problems with children today.

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The following are some positive ideas I would try to have my children focus on:

  • Understanding your own values and beliefs
  • Have Self-confidence
  • Choose your friends wisely
  • Talk to a trusted adult
  • Don’t make excuses – say exactly how you feel

 

child-945422__180One of the other main issues I had was what they are learning.  I wanted the curriculum I used to have some Bible influences.  I didn’t want them learning about evolution, but yes, creation.  I wanted them to have a more focused school day and not be one of thirty in a classroom.  If you are not involved with your child’s everyday learning process, you may not even know what they are doing in school.

HSLDA has collected some statistics on different ways children learn.  This is another reason you need to be involved in your children’s school and everyday lessons.  If your child is having issues, there may be a way to greatly improve their learning experience.  I have noticed, just with my children, all three of them have certain learning styles.  For instance, one always had issues with math, while the other had problems with English and Literature.  I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to stay on top of your child’s learning patterns and what works best for them.

Information taken directly from HSLDA website.

  • Lookers (technically termed visual/spatial learners) process information best when they see it.
  • Listeners (called auditory learners) are most efficient when they can hear information.
  • Movers (kinesthetic or tactile learners) function best when they can physically interact with information in a hands-on way.

So whether you do decide to homeschool, or if public school is your only option, be a part of their learning experiences.  Know what they are doing in school, see who their friends are, who are they texting?  Another words, stay involved, be aware, and by all means, let your children know you care.

15729A Mom After God’s Own Heart: 10 Ways to Love Your Children 

by Elisabeth George

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Social Media and Children

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In these days of technology and growth of Social Media, it is almost a given that you will use this for any of your educational needs.  There are many ways you can look up information, share with homeschool groups or even Pin some of your favorite things to do.  There is no doubt this can enhance your children’s interests and keep them motivated.  Please keep in mind, Social Media can also be used in a wrong way if you don’t monitor your youngsters.  There are people out there with not so good plans when they use the internet.  Be wise in your choices of what you’ll let your child use without your guidance.

As the number of families choosing to homeschool grows, the needs and interests of these homeschoolers continues to grow.  There are many reasons why people choose to do this, not only is it because of their religious beliefs, but for the flexibility of the daily schedule.  Also, to be able to choose your own curriculum that allows creativity, arts and sciences.  For parents whose work schedules require extensive travel, homeschooling or even unschooling, allows for few interruptions in the learning process.  In fact, traveling is often incorporated into the curriculum.  Social media has just added to the extent to which you can follow your interests and friends.

Sharing Insights

You can share just about anything from pictures, videos, website links or whatever you want.  Your homeschool groups can definitely benefit from this, especially if you are working on a project together.  Kids like learning this way and being a part of the overall technology that’s out there today just about everywhere.  If you work with the closely, they will learn their way around and also learn to be smart about decisions they make online in general.  You can learn to use your computer in a fun way, and also join groups and sites that have things to promote your ideas as well.

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Social Media is basically their so you can chat with friends, family and interact with those on other networks.  Students tend to prefer Facebook, and this is one of the most famous platforms out there today.  Again, there are people out there that stalk naive children and grown ups alike.  You are able to build a big network, just be sure you know the people you are dealing with.  You can use a smart phone, tablet, notebook to access your social sites, making this that much easier for you to connect with your friends.  As a homeschool parent, you can use this to grow a homeschool group in your area.  Great to have your children meet new friends and interact during field trips and other such outings.

High Schoolers

This is not only for socializing, but high school students can find job postings, tools and online courses to prepare for college.  Nowadays, they can dual enroll when you are a Junior in some states and Senior in others.  They have classes in just about anything – if you just want to better your grade or continue on into education while you work.  You can also research companies you are interested in, join job blogs or Facebook groups to gain some information you may need.  In addition, many colleges and universities are using Twitter to share new job openings and internship offers.  You can basically follow any site on Social Media to keep updated on employment and other opportunities out there.

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So why would anyone participate in a Twitter chat?  For homeschooling, if you choose to participate in a Twitter chat, it can provide forums where everyone has a voice and the opportunity to contribute, and an audience willing to listen.  Oftentimes we go about our homeschooling routines without giving consideration to someone who is feeling overwhelmed.  Social media makes it possible to interact with thousands of people whom you may never meet, right from the comfort of your home.  For those willing to make an effort to connect, step outside of their comfort zone, social media has the potential to be very enlightening.  You can definitely find some good homeschool groups through Facebook as well.


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Homeschool Testing Services

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Portfolios, evaluations and tests Oh my!

It’s that time of year when you are getting your samples together for your evaluator or portfolio.  Don’t panic, especially if you are new to this whole process.  If you were organized throughout the year, there is really nothing to worry about.  If you learn nothing else today, remember you don’t need every single item to show to the evaluator.  It can be overwhelming sure, but believe me – I always bring way too much, and they tell me every time.students-148163__180

HSLDA has information on a state by state basis that shows what is required of your student to be promoted.  You may be surprised, you may not need very much for your evaluation.  You want to start by knowing all the facts, do some research and you will be prepared.  One more thing is don’t make this a big deal for your child.  They will sense if you “panic”, so do your best to keep cool.  From past experience, homeschooled students, for the most part are usually over achievers (parents are anyway).

There is a list of guidelines by Robin Sampson with checklists for evaluating progress in language arts, math social studies and science (k-8th) as well as character development.  Most parents find it reassuring to have some guidelines for their children’s progress.  Check out this book:

What Your Child Needs to Know When: According to the Bible, According to the State–Expanded Edition
By Robin Sampson / Heart of Wisdom Publishing

God and the state are not always on the same page when it comes to your children’s education. Sampson looks at their differences and explains how to teach and evaluate your kids from a biblical perspective using the “Heart of Wisdom” approach—a strategy of reading the Bible while incorporating all academic subjects. This edition of Sampson’s bestseller includes new evaluation checklists. 296 pages, softcover from Heart of Wisdom.

Some states may require periodic progress reports, while others require standardized testing or some other for of evaluation.  No matter what the legal requirement, you may want to have a more formal assessment done for your own personal peach of mind.  You know when the results come in, you feel like the results are about you, and if you did a good job with your child.

The three most commonly used methods of assessment are standardized testing, evaluations, and portfolio submission.

Standardized Testing

testingMake sure you are aware of your state’s deadlines for the tests and assessments.  You will need to have everything in hand before the testing materials are due – so order what you need ahead of time.  It could take weeks to get some standardized testing results back, so be prepared.  Below are a few of the commonly used tests.  You can go
online and familiarize yourself with all of them, and decide which would be appropriate for your child.

  • Basic Achievement Skills Inventory (BASI) for grades 3–12
  • California Achievement Test (CAT)
  • Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)
  • Stanford Achievement Test (Stanford-10 or SAT, not to be confused with the College Board SAT)

No matter what test you decide to use, it is very important to test with integrity.  You must make sure you honor the time limits on the test, if this will be an issue with your child, I suggest you choose a more fitting test for your child (Standard 10).  If we, as homeschoolers, don’t faithfully complete and follow all the directions, this will only hurt our chances of using these options in the future.

Evaluations

Evaluations are used many times for the pure non-pressured environment this gives your child.  This is simply an assessment given your child to see and learn the progress of your child.  It is given by an educational professional, usually a certified teacher or other professional.  In some states this can even be someone with a master’s degree in any certain discipline.  Again, you can check this on a state-to-state basis as to what would be appropriate for you.  The evaluator will normally let you know what will be expected before hand so you and your child can both be prepared.  You will most probably need a portfolio of your child’s work, and your child will have to spend some time talking to the evaluator.

A few things to ask a potential evaluator:

  • What do you charge?
  • Do you have any references I may call?
  • What are your educational credentials?
  • Will you include recommendations or suggestions for me?
  • What will you need from me/my child when you arrive (or we meet you)?

There are, of course, other questions you can ask, and don’t be afraid to get some feedback from other homeschoolers who have used certain evaluators.  Word of mouth is usually the best idea when searching for something as important as this.  Remember all of this is at the discretion of the school superintendent in your state/county.  They will want to make sure your child is making adequate progress in the areas of language arts and math especially.

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A portfolio is really no big deal either, it is just a sort of scrapbook or a collection of your child’s work for the year.  Some states will let you turn this in without using a professional evaluator, so again, so important to find out your state’s law.  You will automatically have all these items on hand, especially if you kept a month by month folder perhaps, to keep track of those extra special items you are proud of.  Some items you may want to include in your portfolio are:

  • Reading log – books that were read though the year
  • Scope/sequence of the curriculum used for language arts and math
  • Photos of your child doing school work, on field trips, on sports teams, socializing with others, etc.
  • List/description of projects and achievements.
  • Samples of your child’s work at various times during the year- make sure these are in chronological order so progress can be seen

Again, if you have been prepared throughout the year, this will not be too much of a hill to climb for you.  As I stated at the beginning, you do not need a ton of work, just enough to show progress.  Some parents can lug around huge 3-ring binders full of book reports, science projects, math quizzes – well don’t get carried away.  You really only need “one” 3-ring binder!  Make this part of your child’s everyday schedule – let them start to make a scrapbook of the things they are most proud of.




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Famous Homeschooled Athletes

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Homeschool students have truly come very far to gain recognition not only as homeschoolers, but as professional athletes as well.  Studies have shown that standardized tests for homeschoolers have grown some 20 points above average.  There are colleges all over the United States who realize the standards of homeschoolers and are opening their doors to them.

There is always the question, can homeschoolers receive athletic scholarships to college.  Both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) recognize the legitimacy of homeschool diplomas and transcripts, making them eligible for athletic scholarships in colleges throughout the country.

The homeschool student athlete attending an NCAA Division I or Division II school must have the institution submit an initial eligibility waiver application to the NCAA national office. The waiver application must include the following:

  • Homeschool transcript
  • ACT and SAT test scores
  • Description of the homeschool teaching environment
  • List of titles of all textbooks for homeschool courses
  • Copies of the table of content for textbooks utilized in core courses (a sampling)
  • Samples of work completed, such as papers by the students In addition, the NCAA also requests a letter from the parent indicating that the homeschooling was conducted in accordance with applicable state laws.  (This information received directly from the NCAA website.)

 

NCAA STATEMENT:  “If you want to play NCAA sports at a Division I or II school, you need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center if you were home schooled for any part of high school. If you are planning to attend a Division III school, you do not need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.”

NAIA STATEMENT:  “Home schooled and GED students must still meet entering freshmen requirements, though the criteria for meeting those requirements have been adapted to fit the distinctive high school experience.”

It has also been noted by Gretchen Carlson who currently serves as anchor of FOX News Channel’s (FNC) “The Real Story”.  The following is a clip from Gretchen’s Take:  Let homeschooled kids play school sports.  (Click Picture to follow link to video.)

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Just A Few Famous Homeschooled Athletes

80px-Tim_Tebow_TebowingTim Tebow received an athletic scholarship in 2006 to attend the University of Florida to play for its famous team, the Gators.  He was homeschooled by his mother, who instilled in him the family’s Christian beliefs throughout his early years.  His standards and views are well known throughout the football community with the use of his eye black/verse and the prayer stance we have come to know and love.  He is also the first homeschooler to have won the Heisman Trophy.

120px-Serena_and_Venus_Williams_(9630777503)Venus and Serena Williams, the well known tennis superstars, were both homeschooled through their elementary years and on into junior high school.  They were happy they could focus on what they loved, and grow their talents into who they are today.  They were definitely blessed with a gift, but their father took their schedules in hand to make sure both girls would not burn out. The sisters have both went on to do great things with both winning Wimbledon titles in 2012, and also a list of other championships.

120px-Jason_Taylor_Jets-Dolphin_game_Nov_1,_2009Jason Taylor played football at the University of Akron on a NCAA scholarship and later signed a contract to play with the Miami Dolphins.  After some research I see that Jason Taylor is the first homeschooled player in the National Football League.  Jason Taylor was homeschooled during high school, but he played sports for Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

michelle kwanMichelle Kwan is a five-time world champion figure skater and two-time Olympic medalist.  Michelle left public school at the age of 13 to be homeschooled and continue to practice and grow her talent.  Michelle Kwan is also known for writing an inspirational book for children titled, The Winning Attitude: What it Takes to be a Champion, and at the age of 17, wrote an autobiobraphy titled, Heart of a Champion.

Importance Of Academics

It’s not only important to be up on your game, but it is even more important to have your academics in good standings.  You need to be on top of the course standards and core course requirements for the colleges you are interested in.  Have all the information you need ahead of time, as far as transcript requirements and/or scholarship information needed.  Start getting your stuff in order, contact the colleges you are looking at to find out their specific athletic requirements.  It’s common for high school juniors to have already contacted these colleges for specific course requirements.

The HSLDA has done extensive research into the qualifications for entering the NCAAimages with athletic scholarships.  The NCAA has a PDF entitled “Eligibility Center“, which talks you through the process and helps you know ahead of time, the necessary items needed in your transcript.  I have learned that approximately 100 homeschool students each year successfully complete the academic eligibility.

For the Christian homeschooler, the ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God.  We need to remember that God requires us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  We realize, it is only by God’s grace and mercy that we have these gifts at all.  So, with all this said, it is so important to stay focused on your studies, and not give up on your dreams.  From the examples I have given above, we can see this is very doable.  Nothing is easy or is handed to you – so keep focused and have a good outlook on the tasks needed to achieve your goals.

007285Through My Eyes
By Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker / HarperCollinsOver the past five years Tim Tebow has established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history and a top prospect in the NFL. In Through My Eyes he shares his inspiring story. From the circumstances of his birth to Christian missionaries in the Philippines to his homeschool roots and record-setting career with the Florida Gators, Tebow tells how his Christian faith, family values, and determination to succeed propelled him to achieve his dreams.

 

 

Michelle KwanMichelle Kwan: Heart of a Champion  An Autobiography  At sixteen, Californian Michelle Kwan claimed the women’s World Champion crown. A bright and appealing role model for kids and adults alike, her story is one of hard work and true achievement.

 

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The Winning Attitude: What it Takes to Be a Champion  Here Michelle helps readers to see their own potential – and how to become a champion in their own lives. Reading about Michelle’s experiences will inspire readers and allow them to peek inside the interior world of a champion skater. Quizzes at the end of each chapter will help readers to evaluate themselves so that soon they too can be on the road to making their dreams come true.

41hKjw-HgkL._SL110_On The Line  In this compelling and poignant memoir, Serena takes an empowering look at her extraordinary life and what is still to come.

 

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Homeschool Affiliate Programs

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How to Make a Living as A Blogger

If you are wondering how bloggers and businesses work together, one option is affiliate programs.  In the beginning the blogger may not have a great payout as it would in private ads.  There is some growth potential with using affiliate programs for both bloggers and businesses.

There are so many more home school sites that have opened up into the affiliate program world – reason being, affiliate marketing creates easy advertising for them.  If you are a homeschool blogger you can jump on this bandwagon and start an easy line of income for yourself.  So you see, it’s a win/win situation.  The affiliate programs benefit and so do the bloggers and businesses out there.

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Starting To Promote

When you are starting to promote, find a company you like, you can usually sign up with very little information required.  When you have been approved, you will have links and access to promotional items such as banners.  Also, look for companies that have products you are already promoting, there are many more out there than you think.

Take advantage of the affiliate banners that they provide – you can place the affiliate ads in the top and sidebars of your blog and also within the posts as well.

Now you want to write some posts that will be centered on your affiliates.  You want to incorporate your affiliate links within your posts whenever possible.  This makes it a natural way for your readers to link to the affiliate marketing site.  The easier it is for them to find it, the more likely they will return to your site.

Some times an affiliate company will offer you a kickback for introducing others to their affiliate program.  Do some research to find out these opportunities, this is really worth your while.  One I am familiar with is See the Light Shine.  Don’t forget to let everyone know you are working with affiliates.  You need to disclose this information somewhere on your site, for instance you can tag the words with “affiliate links” or you can write something at bottom of post stating “this post contains affiliate links”.  The more up front you are with your readers, the more likely they will return.

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I would like to show you some of the affiliate programs out there, of course there are many more (I am familiar with these.)

Now you want to choose an affiliate platform that will make it easy on you and easy for the blogger.  I don’t choose affiliate platform just based on the cost, but it is definitely a good thing to check out some reviews and do a little homework.  You can learn about the brands you will be dealing with and how they are doing through reviews.

If the affiliate company you work with allows you to set your own payout threshold, be sure to set it at a dollar amount that isn’t some crazy amount.  When a blogger is only receiving 5% per sale on $25 products, it takes a long time to reach a $100 payout.  Keep this in the back of your mind.

Affiliate platforms and software:  (Again, these are a few I am familiar with, do some research, there are more out there I’m sure.)

Hope I’ve Helped

If any of this information has been a help to you, please let me know.  It’s always good to here from other homeschoolers and how they are working with affiliate programs.



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How To Focus On Your Goals

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It Was One Of Those Days

I’m sure, as you start winding down your year, you are going to feel the same wayend of school some days.  We have to get ready for our evaluation, portfolio ready and hope you did OK throughout the year so your child can move on.  There are so many things to think about when homeschooling, sometimes I say to my kids, don’t you just have a bus to get on.  These are the times you buckle down, fix those suspenders – have that 30th cup of coffee, whatever it takes, but we never want to give up.

I was thinking, this is my third child, my other two have graduated – I can make it a couple more years to complete my task.  It is such a good feeling when the year starts to wind down.  Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.  Remember, how many times have you heard, I don’t know how you homeschool your children, I could never do that.  Just the other day I was sitting at the doctors office, started talking to another mother about what we do during the day.  I mentioned I homeschool so my day can be busy at times.  She said, I would never have the patience to do that, you see my son now? (he was being a little crazy I must admit).  I told her it can be a thankless job, but there are great rewards to seeing your child grow and thrive!  She was not convinced of course.

accomplish-1136863_960_720What Have You Accomplished

We may look at our accomplishments on a day to day basis, but if you can take a moment and look to the future, especially if you are just starting out.  I can attest to the fact that the rewards are great – when you get to the part where you are getting their diploma ready, you can hardly believe they finished.  You look back to those earlier grades, and if you are honest with yourself, you have said once or twice, I’m ready to pack this in.  My message for you today is, DON’T GIVE UP, it is totally worth it.

We are not only preparing and focusing on their education, we are preparing them for life.  If they learn the values and morals from you on a day to day basis, how much more will they be ready to face this world.  It’s hard enough out there if they don’t have loving parents standing behind them every step of the way.  I understand if you are a single parent and this is just impossible for your to do, if homeschooling is not an option, do your best to be involved with your children.

Society today throws enough negativity at us, we don’t have to help them along bee-1296273__180
the way.  I must admit there are more and more people homeschooling their children, they are starting to see the benefits.  Homeschoolers are finally getting the recognition they deserve.  One area is the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, which has been recognized as one of the leading spelling bees in our country.  Homeschoolers started making their way into the National headlines about 10 years ago and have been slowly moving up the ranks in the spelling bee.  People are not only shocked how well they are doing, but some might say, even a little jealous.  The impressive turnout of homeschoolers should give you some motivation to stay with it.  No, not everyone can make it to the National Spelling Bee, but this is a possibility if we keep it one of our goals.

Psalm 84:10

I was reading Psalm 84:10 – For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.  I can’t imagine that being a doorkeeper is a very exciting job either, but back in David’s day, he would be grateful to be doing something for God, rather than doing something that would not glorify his Lord.  This is what I think about when I’ve corrected that Math test and once again, they’re just not getting it.  Or doing the dishes, because I am waiting for them to finish a subject before we can go out.  Sure I could have already had my errands done if they were at a school – but would you be the first one to see their face when they got 100% on their spelling test.

With all this said – just wanted to remind you how very important our job is.  We have the responsibility of molding our children into God honoring and respectable people.  Don’t give up the fight, stay the course, encourage them and hug them.  They are the future, let’s be proud of what we have accomplished.

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Cooking Ideas With Kids

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Cooking With Your Childrenfrog-927768__180

We all want to give our children a well rounded education, so let’s add one more fun thing to their day.  My kids love to cook – so I just decided to add a homeschool cooking curriculum.  There are so many different recipes your children can try.  Desserts, main dishes and even let them create a whole menu.  It’s fun for them to set up a whole meal – if you have time, and the patience of course.  Just go ahead and let them take over lunch or dinner one day.

MyPlateWe all remember the food pyramid, well in 2011 the Federal Goverment did away with the pyramid in favor of a “Plate”.  You can find out all the information at ChooseMyPlate.gov, where it explains portion control and each of the food groups in more detail.  Today these facts are more important than ever, with all the fast food places, soft drinks and an overall downhill turn of children’s eating habits.  The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) can be a great source of information for everyone. They have a ton of sites at your finger tips, anything from food alergies, foodborne illness, to food labeling guides.  This really is a great resource not only for homeschoolers ,but for everyone to stay informed.

Now Let’s Get Busy

It would be great, if it’s possible, to have a chef from a local restaurant come and join your home school group and share some of the tricks of the trade.  If you are unable to do this, just get some tips from the online world, and away we go.  Also, if you can get another mother who is not involved with your homeschool group come, this makes it new and exciting for the kids.

Cooking teaches kids valuable skills that they can carry with them through life. Children practice basic math when they measure ingredients, reading comprehension as they follow a recipe, team building as they work in groups, and they also build a strong foundation for healthy eating. All of these skills are mixed in with delicious food and fun.

In addition to essential cooking skills like chopping, grilling, and sautéing, they will learn many skills that will stay with them for years. They will also learn important organizational skills, how to work as a team, cooperation, and taking turns.  There are also curriculum based cooking plans set up with menus, schedules and food plans to follow.

Here Are A Few Examples Of Cooking Curriculum

Go!Chefs is a hands-on cooking and nutrition education curriculum for young people ages 6 through 21. The kids cooking classes introduce youth to the pleasures of preparing and enjoying “real food” that is both nutritious and delicious – an essential step toward health and well-being. Students learn basic cooking skills, the joy of eating and cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables, and how to become empowered and conscious consumers in a marketplace that spends millions to persuade children to eat high-calorie, low-nutrient products.

Serving Up MyPlate – A Yummy Curriculum A new and improved version of the Food Pyramid, MyPlate illustrates the five food groups of a healthy diet. Provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service’s Team Nutrition Initiative, this curriculum brings MyPlate to first and second graders, providing an introduction to healthy foods and nutrition. The curriculum includes three lessons, a pacing guide with the time required for each activity and multiple fun activities to keep students interested and learning, including three original songs. Source: Choose MyPlate

Read It Before You Eat It – Teach your children to read the Food Nutrition Facts labels on all food items.  This will teach them to make informed decisions as they learn to pick the foods that will be beneficial to them.

historyCooking Through History

Another great idea is combine your cooking lesson with your history class.  Find out what the menu was back in the 1800’s, or what the pilgrims ate.  Do your best to recreate one of these meals – your children will not only remember the lesson more clearly, but will be able to appreciate what they used to eat all those years ago.

Now remember, with this kind of cooking plan, getting everything together first will be key to your success. You may THINK you know what you are going to do – but unless you have fully prepared (by printing out the recipe and pulling together the ingredients), then you may just stumble at the first hurdle. Once I am totally prepared, then I’ll schedule it for a day in the near future.

I am sure that once you begin to include homeschool cooking lessons in your  curriculum, then you will begin to see the kids gaining in independence.  Children that are confident in the kitchen are often more confident overall. Kids are funny, now that they can make a peanut, butter and jelly sandwich they think they are all that.  When in fact, this really does boost their self-esteem.  They can get knocked down out there in the world, why not give them a step up once in a while if we can.

Recipes Kids Will Love

Pizza Cupcakes – Ingredients

  •  1 – can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 1/2 – cup Muir Glen™ organic pizza sauce
  • 1/4 – cup mini pepperoni slices
  • 1/4 – lb mild Italian sausage, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 – cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz)

           Directions

  • 1 Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 8 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray. Unroll dough; separate into 8 triangles. Press into muffin cups.
  • 2 In small bowl, mix sauce, pepperoni, sausage and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Spoon about 2 tablespoons mixture into each dough-lined cup; sprinkle each with about 1 teaspoon additional cheese.
  • 3 Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately remove from cups and serve.

30-Minute Mini Meatloaves – Ingredients

  • 1/2 – cup ketchup
  • 2 – tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 – lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1/2 – lb ground pork
  • 1/2 – cup Original Bisquick™ mix
  • 1/4 – teaspoon pepper
  • 1 – small onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1 – egg

           Directions

  • 1 Heat oven to 450°F. In small bowl, stir ketchup and brown sugar until mixed; reserve 1/4 cup for topping. In large bowl, stir remaining ingredients and remaining ketchup mixture until well mixed.
  • 2 Spray 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. Place meat mixture in pan; pat into 12×4-inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise down center and then crosswise into sixths to form 12 loaves. Separate loaves, using spatula, so no edges are touching. Brush loaves with reserved 1/4 cup ketchup mixture.
  • 3 Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until loaves are no longer pink in center and meat thermometer inserted in center of loaves reads 160°F.

Kid Salad – Ingredients

  • 4 – canned peach halves, drained
  • 4 – ruffly lettuce leaves
  • 16 – celery sticks, 3 inches long
  • 4 – large marshmallows
  • Raisins, if desired
  • Shredded cheese, if desired

          Directions

  • 1 For each salad, place 1 peach half, cut side down, on 1 lettuce leaf on plate. Add celery sticks for arms and legs; marshmallow for head; raisins for eyes, nose, buttons, hands and feet; a piece of maraschino cherry for mouth; and shredded cheese for hair.
  • 2 Refrigerate until serving.

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So get busy, get those eggs out (you’re going to loose a few for sure), flour, mixer and anything else you may need to give those kids a chance to have a little fun.  You’ll be surprised how great they will do!!  Enjoy, and more importantly, have fun.

 

 

 

 

Kids Cookbooks (click on pic for link)

better homes and gardens

Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book (Better Homes and Gardens Cooking)

 

american girl

American Girl Baking: Recipes for Cookies, Cupcakes & More

 

 

quick & easyChildren’s Quick and Easy Cookbook

 

 

Cook BookNational Geographic Kids Cookbook: A Year-Round Fun Food Adventure

 

 

SeeBOOKS AND SUPPLIESfor more items your kids will love to use while cooking!

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Free Homeschool Art Lessons

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Art Lessons Online For Kidscolor

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to school my kids favorite subjects are art and lunch.  Of course lunch was number one.  They all just loved to pull out that clay, paint or paper and scissors and just create something.  The bigger the mess the better.  Art happens to be one of my favorite things to do as well and I have used so many different online ideas, library books – art for dummies, well you get the idea.  Pinterest and YouTube have so many videos now as well.

You can start with the basics, say the color wheel, and learning the different elements of color.  There is a great site on Pinterest called, Color Wheel Art.  They have several ideas all related to the color wheel, and learning the warm and cool colors.  The way they tie it together can be effective for all ages.  As they get in the high school levels they will learn about color theory – hue / saturation / value.  The more they will be detailing and bringing together all that they have learned.  These are just a few of the very good online sites I have found.

  • Jerry’s Artarama
  • The Virtual Instructor
  • Art Factory
  • Artist Network
  • Teach Art At Home

 

pencilKeep in mind, well this is what I tell my kids, you can’t really mess up doing an art project.  One child’s idea of how to draw an elephant, is different than another.  Children’s levels and interests will be totally different, but each in their own way, can come up with a really cool thing.

On YouTube they have some great lessons on how to draw – they start with the very basic techniques and work their way into some super detailed projects.  They teach about holding your pencil, shading, perspective – it’s just not about drawing a bowl of fruit anymore.  I think it is so great that you can actually watch a video tutorial, get some of the basics down yourself, and then get a project ready for your children.  Personally, I don’t normally buy any art curriculum because of all the information and ideas you can get online now.

There is no excuse not to get the creative juices flowing.  As far as online goes, there are a ton of free sites that have lessons, with different skill levels.  This makes it so great because if your children are in three different grades, you can basically do the same project, you need only adjust certain aspects to fit the age group.  Now don’t get me wrong, for the little ones this would not work – once you get to middle school, give it a try.

Your Local Library

There are some really good art books at your local library – which I’m sure as a homeschooler, you have used the library many times by now.  Once again, you don’t have to be a professional artist to make art fun for your children.  They will appreciate taking a break during the day and heading to the library.  You can take your pencils and pads with you.   Many libraries today have areas to work, whether it be on computer or little sections with tables and chairs set up for you.  Like the online videos and tutorials, these books are similar in how they talk you through each step of a project.   These are a few books that I have seen and can help you as a beginner or for the high school students as well.

  • Keys To Drawing, by Burt Dodson
  • Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner, Claire Watson Garcia
  • Draw Anything, by Arthur Zaidenberg
  • Drawing: The Only Drawing Book You’ll Ever Need to Be the Artist You’ve Always Wanted to Be, by Kathryn Temple

Follow link to “Books and Supplies” to find where these books can be purchased.

My son loves to draw, and is always sketching little pictures everywhere.  This is a way to find out what they really enjoy doing – gives you something to talk about and you will learn something else about your kids.  He loves to draw sharks, but this has led to all kinds of animals that live in the deep.  The bigger the teeth the better.  I like to always encourage the kids to draw, paint, mold some clay – just use your hands and create whatever.

Ok, now who doesn’t like to make a mess with their hands, well just about every kid I know.  Recently I made homemade play dough.  This was really neat and the kids loved it.  I get the plastic forks and knives so they can cut it up or make a snake or blocks to build a tower. Whatever they want to build, it doesn’t really matter, are they enjoying it, do they get a chance to use their mind for something other than Math.  They need a change of pace just like the rest of us.

Recipe For Homemade Play Doughplay dough

  • white flour – 1 cup
  • warm water – 1 cup
  • salt – 2 tbsp
  • cream of tartar – 2 tbsp
  • cooking oil – 2 tbsp
  • Jello – 1 3oz pack

 

earth

 

Another fun thing to build with is paper mache’, we’ve made our planets using this and I’m sure you’ve made an Earth or two in your day.  The ingredients can’t be easier:

  • Bowl of water-flour mixture (one part flour for two parts water) or use starch
  • Tear strips of newspaper (1/4 – 1/2 in)
  • A balloon
  • – they even have continent printouts online they can color

 

So Time To Get Busy

Now I know these are just a few ideas for you to use, but my point was that there is so much information at your finger tips – please take advantage of it.  You don’t have to pay a million dollars, get some basic supplies in the house so you have them on hand.  Keep a project in mind while you’re out in case you need to pick up something extra from the store.  But by all means, don’t give up, don’t think you have to be this great artist, and whatever you do – CREATE!

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Homeschool High School Diploma

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Can a Homeschooler Get a Diplomadiploma-309947_960_720

What we are always afraid of when we start to get in the high school grades of homeschooling, is whether or not I need an accredited homeschool diploma.  We always want to do what is best for our children, and definitely not do anything to harm their chances of getting into college.  No one wants to reduce their children’s opportunities for anything really.  But to answer the question, yes, homeschoolers get a diploma, usually issued by their parents.  As to an accredited diploma, probably not from an accredited institution.

In most cases, this does not affect their chances of continuing on with their education or college of their choice.  There are also institutions called “umbrella” schools, which will provide an accredited diploma.  What is an “umbrella” school you ask?  Well;  An umbrella school is basically a third party organization which keeps records for you and may issue transcripts or diplomas. In some states, such as Florida and Tennessee, enrolling your homeschooler in an umbrella school is a legal option. Some schools, such as Abeka and Calvert provide all your teaching materials, but some don’t Sometimes there is an actual school that also enrolls homeschoolers; but in most cases they don’t.  Mostly people appreciate having that third party to be able to have the self assurance they are on the right track and can get that accredited diploma.

But let’s take a look at the more involved answer.

rules-1339917_960_720Homeschool Laws

First and foremost, you need to really understand the homeschool laws in your state.  These laws are different in each state and you need to be completely aware of what is going on.  Especially if you decide to remove your child from the pubic school setting, there are definite rules and regulations to follow.  The state school authorities do not have the best information about homeschooling – and some can be put off that you are even going to remove your child from school in the first place.  National groups, for the most part, are unable to keep up with changes in all fifty states, let alone if laws are being changed in each of them.  School authorities themselves do not understand the expectations of a homeschooler, they may unintentionally give wrong information.  Your best bet is to contact your statewide homeschool organization.

With all that said, homeschoolers get a diploma when their parents give them one. They do not typically receive a diploma from their local department of education or the state where they live. While school authorities often make a big deal out of whether teens will have or won’t have a diploma from their school, most of the time, this is not an issue for homeschoolers.

Job & College Applications

When your high schooler graduates and they are asked on any job application, “Are you a high school graduate?” they can put yes.  They graduated when they completed all their work and their parents gave them a diploma.  This means they completed work similar to that of their peers who attended school, maybe not exactly the same, but qualified with the courses they took.  You have to understand, no parent would purposely want to lie about this situation, it would only deter the plans for their future.  Same thing if they’re asked if they have a diploma, yes, they have a diploma.

Typically you should provide written proof through a transcript and other evidence of the work you have done.  It is very important to save records and grades, they will want the GPA.  If your child wants to attend college, their parent should be preparing, starting around 8th grade, having them take the courses so the will have what they need for higher education.  Homeschoolers will have to show they can do college level work, by providing transcripts or by being a dual-enrolled high school student. Some colleges and universities may want test scores and SAT.  Most college admission policies allow for homeschoolers and are very welcoming.  They are seeing that the quality of the homeschoolers has and continues to improve – they are usually well versed in all subjects needed.

If the importance of getting a diploma has been brought up to you by family members as a reason not to homeschool, now you have the information to prove your point on this issue.   Homeschoolers with parent-awarded diplomas are doing great things in the world without doors being closed to them.

What are the graduation requirements for a homeschool high schooler?

Basically check online at other high schools and what they require, and you can customize a program for your child.  Your township or county usually has a website with the graduation requirements needed.  They will also have the type of credits required and even how many hours equal a credit.  So you can be pretty flexible here setting up the courses and direction your child wants to go.  Of course college bound students should complete more than basic math and first-year Algebra. A good understanding of chemistry, biology, and physics is necessary.  All students should be able to write well so include literature classes, and a foreign language.

Bottom Lineroad-1030878_960_720

We as parents are obviously going to do what is best for our children.  We are not going to purposely leave out something that our child will need to either further their education or what is needed in the work force.  There is so much out there online (and through other homeschoolers who have been through it) that there is no excuse for not finding what we need.  The most important thing is to do the research, and keep your children motivated and on course for whatever path they choose.

sat

The Official SAT Study Guide Second Edition

 

 

rosetta stone

 

Learn Spanish: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) – Level 1-5 Set –  (Rosetta Stone offers many other languages as well.)

 

 diploma

Smooth Imprinted “Diploma Of Graduation” Certificate Cover 8 1/2″ x 11″

 

 

 

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