Why Homeschooling…the series – How to Homeschool (part 3)

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If you’re like me, whenever embarking upon a new endeavor, you do some pretty thorough recon. You may scour the internet, read up on an influencer in that field, or ask people who’ve already walked miles in the shoes you’re still trying to put on.

The first two installments of this blog series cover the “Why” and the “What” of homeschooling. If you’d like to learn more about that, you can check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this “Why Homeschooling” series and then meet me back here.

What I aim to do in this post is set a compass in the direction you may be headed. Its up to you to forge your own path. Here’s my take on how to homeschool.

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Do this first:

When you set out to homeschool, its helpful to gain an understanding of the plethora of educational philosophies “out there”. This way, you begin formulating your own and can move forward in confidence. I found out about the greater world of homeschooling philosophies through Deborah Taylor-Hough’s book, “A Twaddle Free Education: An Instruction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas“.

Towards the end of this very practical book focused primarily on the Charlotte Mason Approach (to homeschooling), Taylor-Hough gives a brief history of modern homeschooling and unpacks some of the most popular homeschooling methods.

The family behind the Eclectic Homeschooling website has also laid out a pretty in-depth list of the various homeschool philosophies complete with resource lists! Check out their comprehensive overview here.

Next:

Now that you know what you believe about how people learn, it would be prudent to head over to your state’s department of education website to become familiar with any and all state homeschool regulations. Another helpful site to visit would be your own school district’s website. If there is a liaison whom you can contact directly about any necessary requirements to ensure everything checks out with your homeschool set up, this would be the time to do so.

Its’ Time to Find Your Curriculum:

Once armed with your educational philosophy and the specific regulations from your state, you can breathe more easily as you set about finding a curriculum.

Finding this needle in the ever growing curricula haystack can be whittled down so much easier when the curriculum you choose compliments your educational philosophy. You wouldn’t use wrench when all you really needed was a hammer.

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In the same way, if you identify with the Classical Education Approach, popularized by Susan Wise Bauer, you wouldn’t go with a Montessori based program.

I have found an invaluable cache of information in Rebecca Rupp’s book, Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School. In it is housed a catalog of curricula of all sorts that is unrivaled in comparison to any other similar lists I’ve seen! The thoroughness of the resources from preschool to high school will help you find the curriculum to best suit your family’s needs.

After You Find Your Curriculum:

After you find your curriculum, the next logical step is to organize it into some semblance of a schedule. One caveat I’d add is if you chose an Unschooling Approach (promoted by the late John Holt) back at the philosophy step, this scheduled layout might not exist at all.

If that’s the case, let me introduce you to Karla Marie Williams, an experienced homeschooling mom of six who knows a lot more about the beauty of unschooling than I do. Karla recently published the book, Homeschool Gone WILD: Inspired Learning Through Living. Its here that she better explains the Unschooling Approach to homeschooling.

However, if you’ve found that you landed on a path that allows for scheduled subjects and classes, this section is for you.

There are a host of planners, schedules, calendars and an other organizational tools available to assist you as you plan your days, weeks, months and school year. Any office supply store will have this. Shoot, even a Google search of “free homeschool schedule templates” would do the trick!

Its at this step that if you’re like me, you can get a bit creative with the lay out of things. The beauty of homeschooling is its yours to navigate and wield as you wish. Are you and your children of the “Early Bird Gets the Worm” persuasion? Then why not start promptly at 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning and get ahead on some extra daylight hours? But, if you and your kiddos are more of the “Snooze Button Crew” then you’re free to begin your day of structured learning later on.

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One thing to remember as you plan your schedule is to take into consideration your state’s allowances for counting days versus counting hours. If your children are fairly young, then this requirement might not even apply to you.

I love, love, love the fact that in my state, I’m free to count days because the reality is that even if I only cover one subject for that day, it still counts as a school day. Now granted, we don’t take advantage of this by going all willy nilly, only doing recess everyday! LOL

But there are days in which due to illness or necessary appointments, our structured learning time is more flexible. And there’s always the road schooling approach in which you take your learning on the road. That’s a another blog post for another day!

Oh, and don’t forget about the glorious weekend! There are some days we attend a special program at our local museum or go to a cultural celebration down at the pier. These activities count towards days of school. My daughter also attends a book club once a month on Saturdays so I’m always sure to count this as well!

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When Distractions Arise:

For those who have littles in the mix but they aren’t yet at the schooling age, there’s no doubt distractions will arise. For this reason, I’ve always appreciated how nap times are a prime opportunity to tackle the most important subjects. This way, my older kids have my undivided attention without little feet pitter pattering around.

But, if and when you can’t avoid younger siblings being around, why not allow them to take part (as much as they can) in the learning environment? This is both training for them for when they become of schooling age as well as a way to teach the older kids how to be loving, patient and present when possible distractions arise. It builds character. Not only that, the littles will most likely be excited to be “doing school” just like big brother or big sis. They get enthused about learning and to be honest, isn’t that the point of it all?

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Last But Certainly Not Least:

The last thing I will say as this blog series comes to an end is the fact that homeschooling and its scheduling is meant to work for you so be creative and think through how to best utilize your time.

If and when you hit a wall, take time to evaluate what might be going on in the grand scheme of things. Has your family gone through a series of illnesses, is there tension within the home, have the kids been off their normal schedule, are your children having trouble grasping some newer concepts? These are all questions to get your wheels turning to discover what might be the source of the problem.

Also, something that freed me ALL the way up was the revelation that its okay to get mid way through the year only to have the realization that the curriculum you chose no longer works for your family.

That’s okay!

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Don’t be afraid to change things up.

Take a break.

Rework your goals for the year…sometimes less is more!

In all, no amount of time invested in your children is ever a waste. Your kids are always learning even when what may seem like a setback occurs.

Most important of all, have fun!!!

Thanks for reading and best wishes to you on a successful homeschool journey!

Blessings,

Courtney

P.S. As 2018 comes to a close, and 2019 is right around the corner, I pray you and your loved ones experience joy, rest and all that is good in this coming year. For those who have subscribed to my little old blog site, I greatly thank you and for those who continue to lend your eyes to this journey my family and I are on, I thank you. Most importantly, I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you may be rooted and established in love, and that you grasp how wide and how long, high and how deep is the the love of Christ (my paraphrase, Ephesians 3:14-21)!

Happy (early) New Year!!!

I’ll see you next year! 😉 

 

Why Homeschooling…the series – What is Homeschooling? (part 2)

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In the last installment of this three part series, “Why Homeschooling”, I covered my “Why” for why I’ve chosen to homeschool my children. Today, I’ll turn my attention to what exactly is homeschooling and what it isn’t. In a day and age in which so many blog posts, podcasts and websites are dedicated to the ever deepening homeschool rabbit hole, I found it fitting to tackle this buzz worthy topic. So without further ado, let’s explore some answers to the question, “What is homeschooling?”

Homeschooling is…

  • Necessarily Relevant

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The fact remains that the options to the educational smorgasbord are endless. Why then wouldn’t homeschooling be found amongst some of the most sumptuous selections? I can recall, over six years ago, when my husband and I first made the decision to homeschool being asked over and over again why we wouldn’t just send our eldest child to a traditionally “brick and mortar” school. When I look out into the vast ocean of educational choices and see such varied alternatives such as public schools, private schools, Christian schools, charter schools, parochial schools and boarding schools (to name only a handful), I must say homeschooling belongs in the conversational fray as well. There is no denying that homeschooling is a necessary and relevant alternative to all the many forms by which to educate one’s child.

  • Doable

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Following the discussion about why to homeschool, the statement I most likely hear next is, “That’s great but I know I could never do that!” It’s emphatic declarations such as this that make me take a sorrowful sigh. I’d be the first to tell you that I know homeschooling requires effort but it most certianly doesn’t require perfection.

Is it true that homeschooling requires patience? – Yes

Does homeschooling require skill? – Yes

Does homeschooling require care? – Yes

Does homeschooling require planning? – Absolutely, YES!

But in all honesty, what endeavor ever worth embarking upon doesn’t require things such as these?

So, to those who are unsure about the “do-ability” of homeschooling, from one homeschooler to a possibly inquisitive soul such as yourself, if you’ve ever wondered if homeschooling was something you could ever “do”, I would say an unequivocal, “YES! Homeschooling is doable!”

  • Time Consuming…or At least It Can Be

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I’m just going to be honest y’all, homeschooling has taken many hours out of my life. Whether it was in the excited planning of a new unit or because I was concerned about one of my children struggling to grasp a certain concept, or simply due to navigating the sometimes choppy waters of my role as my kids’ “mommy-teacher”, homeschooling requires time, effort and mental energy. But I have to put in the time to see the results, right? Its hard to go about this half-heartedly. It is sometimes challenging to shut my homeschooler brain off. But, then there are those equally refreshing times in which I force myself to rest and take a breather from it all.

  • Not a Competition

Homeschooling is not a competition.

Sadly, in today’s social media driven world of likes, followers and subscriptions, I’ve seen quite the opposite.

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Whether intentional or not, there’s a darker side to the wonderful world of homeschooling in which some homeschoolers perpetuate a need to show off their instructional chops through their homeschool lives. I must admit that at times, I too have succumbed to this very sneaky temptation to puff myself up by putting my own homeschool achievements on display. That is why I have to constantly be on guard against my own heart’s sinful tendency to brag and boast.

But let me say this so the people in the back can hear me…

HOMESCHOOLING IS NOT A COMPETITION! 

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My goal for this blog and my Facebook page of the same name are purposed to be quite the contrary. In fact, I started both as a means to counteract this truly damaging tendency to compete for likes by encouraging the reluctant, the discouraged, the tired, the weary and the resource starved homeschooler.

My heart’s verse for this mission is simply this,

“The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach and patient.” 2 Timothy 2:24

  • Worth It!

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Some of you may have been expecting different content from a post entitled, “What is Homeschooling?” But I purposely decided to go the more theoretical route rather than outline a list of criteria. That being the case, when I think about what homeschooling exactly is, in all its necessary relevance, “do-ability”, time consumption, and non-competitiveness, I must summarize that it is truly worth it! Good intentions go a long way.

Was there ever a child who didn’t thrive when paired with a dedicated and passionate teacher who was equipped with a personalized curriculum for said child?

Think back on the most ideal learning conditions you experienced in your formative years. Were they marked by challenging yet engaging material? Did you have a willing teacher who was patient while you grew? Was there a sense in which your strengths were played to while your weaknesses weren’t held against you?

If this isn’t the essence of an ideal homeschool environment, I don’t know what is. So, as you continue your own exploration of what homeschooling is (and isn’t), I leave you with the charge to do your due diligence in setting out to create the most ideal of learning environments for your young scholar(s) in which to thrive.

Trust me, it IS worth it!

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for the final installment of my “Why Homeschooling?” blog post series in which we tackle the all important issue of “How to Homeschool”.

Until then, if you enjoyed this post and want to see more like it but haven’t subscribed to receive regular posts from me, what are you waiting for (lol)? Go ahead and hit that “follow” button!

Blessings,

Courtney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Homeschooling? (Part 1)

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“Why do you homeschool?”

Is a question I’m asked more times than I can count. Usually, what’s loaded in this query from a curious onlooker is more than just the why to my homeschooling journey.

Rather, they are really interested in much more. They’re also asking about the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of it all. Because “homeschooler” is just one of the many titles that compliments my role as a mommy, I’ve wanted for some time now to write a blog that clearly lays out this answer. In this “Why Homeschooling” three part series, I will answer: Why I chose to homeschool my children, What homeschooling actually is and How do I happen to pull this “feat” off day after day.

With no further ado, here’s the answer to “My Why”.

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In 2012, I made a conscious decision, together with my husband, to homeschool my then almost five-year-old daughter. I had no clue that choice would lead me on a journey that has blown all my plans for my life out of the water!

But, if I may back up just a bit, in 2002, I entered undergrad on a mission to become a pharmacist. However, I soon switched course following an eye opening first semester as a freshmen in which I couldn’t even get out of Biology 101! At that point, it was made crystal clear that you would not be seeing me anytime soon behind the counter of your local CVS pharmacy!

After which, an unexpected interest in the Psychology electives I was taking put me on a different path. Following graduation, in 2006, I entered a Christian Counseling master’s program. I just knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was going to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.

I’m happy to say, that psychology and counseling were more my speed. And I did graduate with my goal still in mind. I soon accumulated various social services and counseling work experiences to get me there. First, as a Case Manager in North Philadelphia, then as a drug rehabilitation partial-day program intern in Center City.

After a couple of smaller gigs in-between, I finally landed a job as a Mobile Therapist in Montgomery County. At the time, I was very pregnant with our third child and I found myself going from client home to client home providing individual and family counseling.

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It was at this particular point in time, we had a rising preschooler in our midst. The looming question of where she would go for school was fresh on our minds. We knew we weren’t comfortable putting her into a public school setting as she had never been away from us even to go to daycare. So to go from that cocoon to a troubled school district, despite the best efforts of some hardworking teachers (a few of which we have the pleasure of knowing), was something were weren’t willing to do.

Not only that, the thought of private school was far from our minds as finances for our young family had always been a pressing issue for us. We simply could not afford it.

I had met only a handful of homeschoolers in my lifetime but never cared to investigate beyond what I perceived was the family’s awkward social skills. And the concept of wearing pajamas all day while doing math problems was foreign to me.

Plus, after watching my mother tirelessly serve for 40 years as a public school teacher along with my own amazing experiences as a product of the public school system, I had a standard in mind of what I wanted for my kids. It was all I knew. Homeschooling seemed distant at best and weirdly antisocial at worst.

But, what could we do?

We needed to make a decision with the school year quickly approaching. The idea of home education was starting to seem like more of a possibility since two very close friends were homeschooling their own children.

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They were not weird. Their children were ANYTHING but awkwardly social and more than that, they were good kids. Though slightly intrigued, we also had no clue where to begin or how to even sign up.

As God, in his divine leading would have it, we stumbled upon an advertisement for a “How to Homeschool” seminar in our neighborhood. And my hubby and I thought, “Well, why not go to hear more, what was there to lose?”

From the moment the first speaker began breaking down the statistics of how most homeschoolers measure up to their peers in standardized testing, there wasn’t even a comparison!

What’s more, we found the options of how to exactly homeschool your child are endless.

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If you need a more specialized course of study for your struggling child, have at it. If you want to homeschool year round only taking a few longer breaks throughout a 365 day period, go for it! If your exceptionally gifted child gets bored easily and enjoys pushing themselves to the limit, who says your 13 year old can’t begin taking college courses?

What Curtis and I took away from that homeschooling workshop in Northeast Philly was we could make homeschooling exactly what we needed it to be for our child with no reservations.

I know I’ve laid out the more practical reasons for my why but now let me switch gears to zero in on the spiritual factors that ultimately led to this decision.

My husband and I have both committed our lives to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and put ourselves under his authority. The Bible calls this discipleship. We are life long disciples of King Jesus!

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With that being said, He has called us to raise children to know and learn about who he is.

There are amazing parents doing a phenomenal job raising their young ones to follow Jesus, whether your children attend a “traditional” brick and mortar school or if you homeschool!

There’s many ways parents can do this, and, if you are a follower of Jesus, he would call you to the same great, holy and lofty task to raise disciples.

I like to call this parenthood discipleship.

When we finally decided to take the plunge into the world of homeschooling, we chose to carry out this call to discipleship while using just another means of God’s grace to do so. For us, its been through the vehicle of homeschooling. Homeschooling as just another tool to accomplish that purpose.

So when we are asked, “Why do we homeschool our children?” the only answer I can give is “Why not?”

Thanks for reading!

Blessings,

Courtney

 

I Am a YouTube Homeschool Junkie (Part 2)

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Hey guys!

I’ve been itching to crank out the second installment of my mini blog series “I Am a YouTube Homeschool Junkie”. In my last post, I covered all things science. Today’s post will take you back in time to find the perfect YouTube channels to get your History fix!

Well what are we waiting for, let’s get to it!

First up…

1.) A subscription to the Educational Videos for Students (Cartoons on Bullying, Leadership & More) channel is your one stop shop for knowledge!

Educational Videos for Students (Cartoons on Bullying, Leadership & More) is a REALLY long name for a YouTube channel! Lol But I personally love it because just like this channel’s name, it comes jam packed with information. If you need a brief overview of a particular individual in history, this channel won’t disappoint. Take this video on 5 amazing facts about Michael Jackson for instance:

2.) Bino and Fino are not only educational, they’re entertaining too!

Bino and Fino, an online series from Nigeria featuring a brother sister duo will leave your kiddos asking for another episode. My only beef with this channel is the episodes aren’t long enough! Their episode when, “Mama Mama”, makes snail soup keeps my kids rollin’! And can I let you in on a little secret? I low key get excited when my kids ask to watch them! 😂 Here’s their episode on the ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu:

3.) The History for Kids playlist on the Smile and Learn YouTube channel will have you smiling and learning! (Sorry, my corny side had to come out eventually, lol)

Stuck on what to cover for your Renaissance lesson? Have no fear, turn to this YouTube channel and your dilemma will be solved in no time! Their videos are concise, easy to follow and always full of good information.

4.) Tinga Tinga Tales puts the how into the why!

What do I mean by this? Well if you’ve ever wondered why something is the way it is then Tinga Tinga Tales tells you how that something came to be. Think Anansi with a twist. What we especially love about these folklores are their lovable characters. Check out this episode on why bat hangs upside down:

5.) Homeschool Pop gives just the pop you’re looking for! (lol)

If you haven’t noticed by now, I like quick, I like simple and I like to learn. Now if we combine all three of these into one YouTube channel, with Homeschool Pop we have a winner! I liked this video on Davy Crockett as we’ll be studying his life a little later this school year.

6.) Liberty’s Kids makes American History come to life!

Liberty’s Kids gives you the in-depth experience of what life during the Revolutionary War was like for individuals on all sides of the conflict. A reporter for Ben Franklin’s newspaper, a rebel colonist and a young Englishwoman to name a few contribute to a well rounded view to the American Revolution. If you want to know what happened with the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, check out this episode:

7.) To say the Ted-ed YouTube channel is cool is an understatement!

Ted-ed brings intriguing historical phenomena such as the mysterious Terra Cotta Warriors to life. This amazing discovery in the mid 1900s was an archeological gold mine. These stone warriors actually made a trip to my city earlier this year. When I saw them up close and personal they were majestic! Check out this Ted-ed video for more:

8.) Extra Credits will keep you coming back for more!

Extra Credits has so many videos about little known historical events and facts it seems they’re too numerous to count. Ever wonder when it became “all about the Benjamins”? Well, in The History of Paper Money video, you just might find that out and so much more!

9.) Simple History gives you the facts…and fast (at least that’s what they say)!

Pick a time period, any time period, and chances are, the Simple History YouTube channel has it covered. So, whether you’re studying the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World or the evolution of technology, you can find it all here. Take this video about the trebuchet for instance…before I watched this video, I couldn’t even pronounce the word trebuchet!

And last but certainly not least…

10.) Culture Queen gives her own spin on African history!

When I stumbled upon the true story of Queen Nzingha of Angola from the 1600s, I couldn’t get enough. This phenomenal warrior, military strategist, regal monarch and confident diplomat was single handedly responsible for fending off the enslavement of her people against the colonizing Portuguese for nearly forty years! Though I’m sure this Culture Queen video doesn’t quite scratch the surface, you still get an idea of how excellent this mighty woman actually was. Check it out!

Well that’s all folks! But in the meantime, are you the sort of person that history tickles your fancy? Do you have a favorite YouTube Channel dedicated to your passionate pursuit of historical knowledge? If so, share it in the comments!

Thanks for reading! Oh, and do me a favor, why don’t you go ahead and hit that follow button if you haven’t subscribed yet. Trust me, you won’t regret it! I never spam and I promise you’ll come away having learned a thing or two! 😉

Until next time my friends…

Blessings,

Courtney

 

I Am a YouTube Homeschool Junkie! (Part 1)

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I don’t stay up til all hours watching angry cat videos. And despite the timeliness of certain hair tutorials for the latest crotchet style, I’ve found a far greater use for Youtube as a homeschooler. I must admit, I am a YouTube Homeschool Junkie! 😱

Let’s go on a journey to discover my ten favorite YouTube channels for science. Who knows, at the end of this, you might become a YouTube Homeschool Junkie too!!

1.) Mosa Mack Science Takes the Mystery Out of Science

Any of your kids like a good mystery? My middle daughter enjoys playing detective. I found Mosa Mack Science is exactly what my pretty little brown girl needs when looking for inspiration in the field of science discovery. Mosa Mack Science has plenty of mini episodes to wet your science whistle! As an added bonus, this song is pretty catchy too!

2.) The StoryBots Aren’t Just Cute They’re Pretty Educational too!

About two years ago, my oldest became infatuated with the solar system. As I sought out a means to quench her thirst for knowledge, we stumbled upon the StoryBots channel! Check out this little toon about the Solar System:

They also have plenty of others, we especially like their song about the sun. The title alone, “I’m So Hot”, cracked us up!

Best of all, the StoryBots were recently made available on Netflix!

3.) Dr. Bionics Knows a Whole Lot About a Whole Lot!

As we leave summer behind, have you ever wondered why mosquitos bite? Do you know the cause of your tiny tike’s constipation? Or how about the invention of the substance every homeschooler loves to hate, Play Doh? Well, Dr. Bionics knows! This clever show featured on the Peekaboo Kidz YouTube channel is jam packed with science discovery tell alls! Take a look.

4.) Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’ Youtube channel rocks!

I’ve always been intrigued by our vast universe and how unknown it is. As a child I remember my parents packing us into the car for a trip to D.C. to explore the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Well, they have a YouTube channel here and if you’re feigning for more, check out their related Facebook Page Stem in 30!

In the meantime you can Ask an Expert about what the preparations for human space flight are like.

5.) Get Your Green Thumb On At Kodesh Gardens

I have a literal and figurative “brown thumb” y’all! I kill everything green. 😥 The sad thing is my grandmother grew just about everything that found its way onto my plate as a child. You’d think a little bit of her garden savviness genes would have been passed down but alas, nope! Anywho, I’ve found some good gardening advice and tips from the Kodesh Gardens YouTube channel. They also have some cool non-gardening related videos about beekeeping.

6.) Check out Nat Geo Kids aka National Geographic Kids

I LOVE Nat Geo! I mean, they’ve got everything you’d want to know about all things weird, wild and wacky. Satisfy your curious child (or inner child for that matter) from the comfort of your couch, with the Nat Geo Kids YouTube channel!

7.) If Nat Geo Kids Wasn’t Enough Head on Over to Nat Geo Wild!! 

I said it before, we love Nat Geo! So why not fully go wild with their sister site, Nat Geo Wild?! Live animal safari feeds, Shark Fest and Animal Fight Night are just a few of Nat Geo Wild’s heavy hitters! You can also see the more rare and beautiful sights of the wild with this footage of a new Bird of Paradise species!

8.) What Plants Talk About Documentary

I know this one isn’t a YouTube channel per se but its still fascinating nevertheless! The kiddies and I began watching this documentary and were sucked in from the first scene! The What Plants Talk About documentary is beyond amazing if you’re looking for another way to enhance you’re botanical studies!

9.) SciShow Kids Explores What Makes You Go “Why?”

Ever wonder what the world’s ugliest animal is? Well you’ll find that out and more on the SciShow Kids YouTube channel!

10.) How the Body Works with Chloe and the Nerb

And for our finale, you’ll discover how the body works with Chloe and the Nerb on the KidsHealth.org YouTube channel. Chloe and the Nerb are funny and fascinating all at the same time. If you want to know how your skin works you can find out here:

One final YouTube channel that is a great runner-up is none other than Nasa! They’ve got so many interesting live videos you’ll want to be careful you don’t get sucked in for hours!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this rundown of awesome science related YouTube channels. Please let me know in the comments what some of your faves are! And be on the lookout for my next installment of I Am a YouTube Homeschool Junkie (Part 2) where we explore YouTube channels dedicated to history ! Thanks for reading.

Blessings,

Courtney

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hesitant Reader No More!!!

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Guys its here!

The day has come!

Hesitant reader in my house??!!

…Pssssssh!

NO MORE!

I don’t know if I could necessarily nail down the exact date my middle daughter went to bed a hesitant reader only to wake up a blossoming one. But one thing’s for sure, she is hesitant no more! I cannot begin to express the joy, pride and relief I feel even writing these words. So much so I couldn’t sleep and had to get up at 6am to pen this post!

It also feels anticlimactic for my soaring six year old to make such huge strides in her academic progress and I not share it with the world!

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Her hard work and perseverance deserves no less! But how was she able to do all this you may ask.

This is why I write this post.

Today, I’ll switch gears from concerned mama and let you see things from the side of a teacher determined to make a difference in her pupil’s life. We needed a fresh approach…a sort of happy medium. The all or nothing kinds of full on phonics or sight word only reading programs never quite clicked for my girl.

In fact, my last post was all about things coming to a head and my decision to chuck it all! And if you go back to January 2017 when I first realized I needed to have hope for the hesitant reader in my home, you will be able to appreciate this post even more!

Hence, the second reason I write this post.

I’m happy to say we’re now at the end of Week 5 of our most successful approach. By God’s grace, I figured out a way to marry the two previously insurmountable concepts.

Here’s my method:

1.) File Folders for Focus:

Using simple file folders, I devised a Five Week “trial period”. I labeled the folders by the week: “Week 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9” (FYI, by the time we switched approaches, we had already completed four weeks of school).

5 Week Trial folders

Each week, we’d focus on two word families and no more than two to three sight words.

Word families group similar ending/rhyming words together and sight words are the immediate identification of words you aren’t able to sound out. Together, these early reading skills are supposed to ease the reading process.

However, this, ladies and gents was the root of all my daughter’s troubles! She wasn’t connecting the fact that when she read words from say Dr. Seuss, she was in fact simply reading word families and sight words.

This kid knew her letter sounds. Yet, her knowledge almost seemed to be a crutch. It kept her from really excelling. She was sounding out EVERY word! Even if she read something like,

“Dot hops. Hop Dot hop.”

Don’t you see the repetition in this sentence? Well, for some reason, my lady love didn’t.

And don’t get me started on sight words! For my little literal one (and trust me, I mean this literally! lol), sight words

Just   

Didn’t     

Make  

Sense! 

She was so bent on sounding out each letter that by the time she made it to the sentence’s end, the meaning was lost and she was frustrated beyond belief.

To remedy this, we focused on the folders. In them, I placed a book featuring word families from that week, related worksheets for each day of the week and instructions for a possible craft or activity.

2.) Youtube Playlists:

I created a Youtube playlist for each week’s set of word families with no more than five or six videos. On Monday, she would tune into that particular playlist to build a familiarity with what we were trying to accomplish that week.

Here’s an example of one video from the Week 8 playlist when we covered “at/op” words:

3.) Read the House:

Then we moved on to an activity called “read the house”. I forgot to mention that my mother who is a proud 40 year teaching veteran from the public school system was my secret weapon in all this. She suggested this simple yet effective activity.

For Week 5, (the first week), I wrote as many words I could think of related to the two word families on sticky notes and posted them all over the house. I also included the sight words I had chosen as well. We then went on a mission to “read the house”. We used this funky pointer stick she loves to point with that has a weird plastic hand on it (don’t ask, lol) to read the words out loud.

Read the house

For subsequent weeks, my daughter was tasked with the responsibility of making her own sticky notes and posting them throughout the house and completing this activity.

4.) Worksheets CAN Work!

We then moved on to the set of worksheets I previously selected for that week. After reading the directions together, she completed it independently.

This day, or any other in that week we also got out a related easy reader stashed in her week’s folder. We then plugged away at it for the rest of the week until we had read it all. A sampling of some of our books:

5.) Games aren’t just for playing:

After a day’s work, my daughter then played a game related to the word family. One game consisted of her standing at the bottom of our steps. I’d call out words from the walls and she had to spell them. A correctly spelled word meant she could hop up one step. The goal was to make it to me at the top for a hug or high five.

Another game all my kiddos joined in to play was this one:

ABC Letter Game

She was also able to get in on some online gaming action too. My girl loves to play games on sites like Starfall, Abcmouse, Abcya, Teach Your Monster to Read and PBSkids. I preselected games focusing on the word families and copied and pasted their links into a Word document I had created for the weeks’ activities. Under each day, I pasted a link to one of the games. Playing it was  her reward by the end of her lesson.

For instance, Week 5 was all about “an/en” words so she played this game on Starfall:

Make a Word: EN

6.) Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate!!

Each week, we continued in a similar rotation in which we reviewed the word families, completed worksheets, played games, and read related books. But, MOST importantly, we celebrated! We were sure to celebrate even the tiniest milestone!

Layla progress

She received stickers, hugs, small pieces of candy and even got to FaceTime with daddy when he was at work to tell him about her success.

But you may be asking, “How’d it REALLY go?”

As far as her progress went, the first two weeks seemed rather routine but something clicked somewhere into Week 3. Like I stated earlier, I don’t know when exactly or how but there was a day I can remember distinctly in which the kid went from sounding everything out to simply saying the words with ease. Compared to five weeks ago, her pace, her flow and her confidence are like night and day!

Honestly though, after Day 1 of Week 1, I did feel a change in the air. I even remarked on the refreshing feeling our school atmosphere had when my husband got home that night. There was a sense of relief and enjoyment in both of us. But by Week 3, there was no denying that this new approach really was working!

So now at the end of Week 5 (and the formal end of my trial period), I am beyond thrilled to let you all in on my excitement. I’ve been bursting for weeks!

Here’s a link to how each week was specifically mapped out:

Five Week Reading Trial

As I close, I hope more than anything that this is not just a braggy post. I mean let’s face it, I HAVE to brag on my girl because I’m so proud of her! But more than that, I hope it gives you a sense of the reality that homeschooling succeeds when it’s flexible. Likewise, if you’ve got multiple children, what works for one may or may not work for the others.

My little love bug couldn’t afford for her mommy to give up on her. I had to be in tune with how she best received information. I especially had to know what didn’t work for her. Had I not taken the time to become a student of my student, we’d still be banging our heads against the wall!

If you are at your wit’s end, my prayer for you is that this post will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to jump back in the saddle. Your hesitant reader is counting on you!

YOU GOT THIS!!!

Blessings,

Courtney

Hope for My Hesitant Reader – a follow up

Black Mother And Child Doing Homework

Some months back, I wrote a post about the hesitant reader living in my home. It was hard but also encouraging for me to list the ways in which my girl was on her way to reading, though not yet fluently.

Well here we are, a good deal later and she’s still not fluent. She’s much further along but just not quite there yet. So I felt the urgency to keep it real and share what’s been happening over the course of time but also share the hope I have for her and what she WILL be able to do with ease one day.

Two weeks ago, I was at my wits end!

I had had it with the reading program we were using. It wasn’t clicking for my remarkable six-year-old. You see, she’s really intelligent. And I don’t say that just because I’m her proud mama. I say that because it’s REALLY true!

This kid is so smart!!

We practice the Charlotte Mason Approach in some areas so when it comes to narration (basically your kid/s retelling all they’ve heard and remember from an oral reading), let me tell you, this girl can go on and on! She remembers every single nook and cranny of the reading. There’s times my mind wanders while listening because she hasn’t skimped on any details.

CM

Not only that, she is witty, hilarious even and it comes so naturally. For someone not even able to always lace her own shoes it’s a wonder to me she picks up on punch lines and humor and quirky observations that can be transformed into stand-up comedy.

Any who, with all this in mind, I was confounded as to why whenever it came to picking up where we left off with our reading program it was a fight, push back was always present and amnesia from what we studied the previous day was her modus operandi.

Honestly, I have spent countless hours in prayer when it comes to this school year. I’ve felt like a major failure when it comes to teaching this particular middle child how to read. I didn’t go through the same battles with her older sister. Academics and the like come differently for her and that’s okay. But for my poor baby who so desperately wants to read, I was feeling the pressure of teaching her and badly wanting her to experience success.

Not to mention the anxiety I feel whenever she is around kids her age and sometimes even the casual four-year-old who’s already reading with ease. To be honest, I felt defeated as not only her teacher but also as her mother. Here I am participating in an unconventional form of home education, yet, with nothing to show for when it came to what my kid could do.

The ugliness of how much selfish pride oozes from that statement is almost too embarrassing to write.

But its real. 

At the end of the day, I was worried about her. But beyond that, I was worried about ME.

How would people view ME?

What would people think of ME?

…and ultimately,

What, if any good was I if I couldn’t even teach my own daughter how to read?

addiction-selfishness

So about two weeks ago, I made a decision to change. I had to change up our whole approach. I mean, the curriculum. The staleness of it. The way it didn’t mesh or connect with her personality. But most importantly, my heart posture towards my own abilities and the lack there of. As well as I had to change my mind about my need for my Savior to intervene in this seemingly non-spiritual issue that had become the ultimate issue of my spiritual life.

Would I root my identity in my performance as a homeschooler and hers as a student? Would I insist on disciplining my daughter for her short comings? Would I allow her the freedom and relief from the pressure I was applying? And would I endeavor to teach her how she would best learn the information?

The answer is yes!

Yes to ALL of that!

ProjectConfidence_SayYes

After one particular time in prayer, I literally jumped up from the kitchen table, began grabbing many of the supplies and resources I already had on hand and began busily hammering out a whole new phonics and reading “trial” curriculum. I say this because I wanted to test this new approach for five weeks before committing to it for the remainder of the school year.

I can truly say this was an answer to prayer! What I had been stressing about over these past few months and worrying and praying and worrying some more over, God answered me that day.

We started this new approach on October 2nd and I could already tell the difference of how refreshing it felt after only day one. Tears were shed by me on Thursday the 5th but that comes with the territory *shrugs shoulders*.

All that to say, we have been on an upward trajectory and I can do nothing but thank God for his intervention in my daughter’s academic life. But even more meaningful to me was his intervention in my heart as it related to seeing Him as primary for all my needs. Even my needs as a homeschool mom.

Over these last two weeks, this scripture encouraged me and I pray it does the same for you…

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.”

1 Peter 5:6-7

humble-pie

I’m looking forward to sharing what exactly we are doing in the coming posts starting tomorrow. But I had to share this confessional sort of post first and foremost.

Thanks for reading!

Blessings,

Courtney