Saturday, April 28, 2012

Is the number of people homeschooling increasing?

It seems like wherever we go I hear more and more about the increasing number of people that homeschool. When we are out in the community during "normal" school hours, occasionally we will get asked, "Oh, is there no school today?" This starts the conversation about the fact that we homeschool and more often than not the person will mention that someone close to them (relative,neighbor,friend) either was homeschooling or they knew an adult that had been taught at home.

 I am happy to report that the negative comments we have gotten are rare. The only negative situation that I have encountered this year was when it felt like a cashier and bagger ganged up on my kids,drilling them with a math story problem. A tricky one that they could not answer, much to the employees amusement. Most of the time the comments I get are more along the lines of how wonderful they think it is to be able to teach your own children and how well behaved and polite mine are (typically hahah, NO child is perfectly behaved) in public.

If homeschool statistics are any indication home education is indeed on the rise. Now,do I think that everyone should homeschool? No. Do I think less of people that choose to send their children to public or private school? No. Do I like the fact that it is becoming more acceptable to educate at home? YES! I know  that a person should not base their choices on people's opinion but I admit, it is encouraging for people to see that educating at home is a viable alternative to educate a child.

The possible reasons for homeschooling are infinite- 
  • Wanting to give a Christian centered education
  • Choosing to have a secular education
  • One on one education for a child with special needs
  • A child being bullied in regular school
  • One of my personal favorite reasons is integrating learning into life.
This list could go on and on obviously, but all of the reasons boil down to the fact that homeschooling is increasing and a majority of the children that are being homeschooled are being given the opportunity to achieve their own personal bests!

I found this fact sheet this week that illustrates how well statistics show that homeschooling does in fact do what it sets out to accomplish!

Homeschool Domination
Created by:

Friday, April 27, 2012

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me...

This is a verse that my father instilled in me as a timid, shy, insecure child. The truth today just as much as it was       30 years ago.

Philippians 4:13

New King James Version (NKJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stress for special needs parents

Recently I have wondered how parenting typical children compared to parenting children with special needs  stress wise. As parents we all have stress and obstacles. Several time a year we go through some really difficult special needs situations and we are currently smack dab in the middle of a HUGE one.

Today I had to go and talk to the case manager that keeps track of A~man's services and explain what has been happening this last month. I'm not a big talker, and to talk to this man about a VERY uncomfortable subject has drained every ounce of strength out of me. The anxiety I experienced talking about the issue hit a 9.0 on the Richter scale.  

 Meanwhile, he mentioned to me that he has recently discovered some major water damage to his home that he has only had a couple years that is going to amount to a lot of $$$. I feel bad for his family. What he has is a major financial hardship (btdt btw), and a disruption to his family, and mine involves yet a new challenging situation arising after thinking "what else could happen?" BUT I couldn't help thinking how I would trade my families current stress for his.

Mine doesn't involve any loss of money. Mine involves me getting very little sleep, when I do sleep I have nightmares, and my heart is hurting that what's going on can't be "fixed" (although we are arranging some new Dr appointments) and I'm clueless how to handle it. New things are popping up and I'm not sure if it is due to puberty, an imbalance (going to the endo to get some levels tested), him needing a medicine change or possibly some new stuff that was passed down genetically from his biological family. That leaves me looking for answers with a couple of doctors and possibly a counselor or child psychologist.The case manager suggested RAD. (A~man had very little physical contact until he came to us at 4.5 months old, it took him a LONG time to actually like being held as a baby) After talking to hubby and a good friend of mine though I do not think that is it. He has strong bonds with all of us.

I wonder. Do"normal" (what IS normal?) families have the same reactions to there everyday stressors as I do to my not so normal stressors? Does my body/mind get used to this periodic upheaval that can occur with special needs parenting? Also, due to the fact that we CHOSE this special needs parenting path, how does my journey compare with those parents that didn't choose this special needs path?

Oh and one last question. Has anyone seen my super mom cape? I seem to have lost it!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Homeschool Sick Days?

It seems like this spring we have had more than our share of colds! Just as we are getting over one, the next week a new one comes to visit. Thursday night my two were complaining that their throats hurt. Friday morning I woke up with a temperature! Unfortunately Friday was also the day we were supposed to have our homeschool spring party so needless to say we did not attend.

Saturday we woke up and everyone felt fine so in the morning Z had a soccer game. (not sure why all my soccer photos turned out so blurry)

After lunch A~man had his first baseball game EVER. He has never played before and our city has an awesome special needs team with varying abilities participating. A~man was even on the same team as his buddy from preschool that also has Prader-willi syndrome! They hugged liked they were the best of friends.

We were supposed to go to a Kite Day event after that but by then we were all worn out!

This morning we all woke up sick again. (well except for hubby) So maybe we over did it yesterday. I'm curious how other homeschool families handle sick days. Obviously if a child has a fever,flu,or stomach flu all schoolwork would be cancelled. For us though when we just have a cold, we normally stay home (or at least away from other people so we do not share our cooties) but the kids are easily bored if we do not do something!

Today is Sunday so we are obviously not doing schoolwork but hopefully soon we will be taking a walk to get some fresh air. On weekdays if one of the kids are sick we may do our online computer curriculum or play some alphabetizing games. Also we sometimes will just sit down with a good book, either alone, or together. (Z is reading A "Bear Stories" :)

I'm hoping the sickies will move along though and soon. Tuesday we are supposed to go see a play of To Kill a Mockingbird!

How does your homeschool family deal with sick days?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Earth Rocks! TOS Review


  Recently we have been checking out Earth Rocks from Aims Educational Foundation. Both of my children are avid rock collectors and explorers so this is a fun book for them!

Earth Rocks!
The book is for grades 4-5 and 50 activities are included. Students are able to subjects like: soil,rocks,minerals and the water cycle plus the properties of water.
It provides many activities such as books you can make, experiments, and worksheets.

I really like the fact that even though it is a workbook with worksheets it still requires to explore the environment in a hands on fashion! It is simple enough for my son with special needs to grasp the concepts but also provides enough information for my daughter to want to explore subjects further.

The price is 29.95 which I think is reasonable for the amount of information covered. (it's a THICK BOOK!) This would be a super fun book to even use during off time during a summer break if you are like us and spend a lot of time outdoors exploring during the summer.

The Crew also reviewed other science and math books from the Aims Education Foundation. I encourage you to check out the TOS CREW to see reviews on the other books!

Disclaimer~ I was provided this book by Aims Education Foundation in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Using Workboxes

The way our family homeschools could definitely be described as eclectic homeschooling. I've tried to concentrate on different homeschool styles like classical homeschooling, but always end up having to mix things up a bit. Also,what I use for my 10 year old typically developing child often doesn't work with my 12 year old son that learns differently. With him I usually have to approach a subject or concept several different ways before it fully sinks in.

Years ago we did a workbox system. I had about 8 plastic shoe boxes filled for each child with different learning activities in each box. Some of the activities could be done independently and others needed my assistance. I'm thinking about going back to that system next fall. A big part of our curriculum comes from using Time4Learning so there would be a computer card maybe listing how many things they were to pick while using the computer. In another box could include a Time4Learning worksheet to go with what they were learning on the computer. In the past I also included crafts,puzzles,stationary to write a letter,tangrams,books that I wanted them to read a chapter in, and fine motor activities especially for my son.

Here is a workbox photo I "borrowed" from the web. This is similar to the way we did it when our homeschool room was in the basement. I'm thinking about moving things down there again now that we have wireless but, we will see. It's so dark in our basement that we always end up migrating up to our sunny upstairs!

With workboxes you are able to use various curriculum and sort of mesh it together and make it work. I really like the idea of combining their computer work with more hands on activities. It worked really well years ago and I cannot remember why we stopped doing it that way. The only thing I can think of is that it could be really time consuming loading up the boxes each evening or morning.  I'm going to be brainstorming ways to simplify it so check back as I will share my ideas. I welcome anyone else that uses workboxes ideas too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Truthquest History -TOS Review


Awhile back we were given the opportunity to try out a history curriculum that is the creation of Truthquest History . The guide in particular that we received was American History for Young Students I. This guide was written for elementary students in grades 1-5. The wording used is milder and made more positive than some of the guides written for older more mature students. My daughter who is 10 is at a 4th/5th grade level and my son with special needs is 12 and at a 2nd/3rd grade level. This particular guide is a good match for their particular levels.

This curriculum strongly uses literature as the basis of the history study. The focus is richly based on God's direction during the story of mankind rather than being based on man himself. It is very flexible which makes it easy to move through the curriculum at your own pace. It is also very family focused and I like this as growing up my history education was very weak and I enjoy learning along with what I am teaching my children!

All of the guides (grades 1-12) are available in either print or pdf format and the price ranges from $24.95 to $34.95 for print, or $19.95 to $29.95 for a pdf file emailed to you. Supplemental lapbooks are also available that are made specifically to go with many of the TruthQuest guides. I think these prices are very reasonable for the wealth of information given in the guide. I am seriously thinking of using this particular guide (The American History for Young Students I) after we take a short summer break in July.

Disclaimer- As a member of TOS Crew I was supplied with a pdf file from Truthquest in exchange for a review of this product and my unbiased opinion of this product. Please check out the other reviews done on Truthquest History from the other TOS homeschool crew.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Homeschool testing

Depending on what state you live in, sometimes it is a requirement to do yearly testing. Here in NC after a child turns 7 your children must have standardized testing done. There are several types of tests that can be done for North Carolina standardized tests but the one that we have been doing since we started homeschooling is the Woodcock-Johnson III.

The Woodcock-Johnson tests the following-reading, oral language, math, written language, and overall academic knowledge. It is often used with children with special needs as the testing is one on one. This eliminates a lot of distractions that come with a group of children which can affect the accuracy of the test. When you have a child that is easily distracted, being able to concentrate is a must! Most of it is also oral which is also very necessary when your child struggles with reading.
I know some do not like to do testing but for me it is encouraging to see your child's progress and it also is very important in determining what your child needs to work on the next year. I'm not sure if it is like this in all cases but our particular tester, (we use the same one yearly) has excellent feedback for me after the testing on what types of curriculum would work best for each of my children. It also helps that she has homeschooled, and graduated her own three children. What type of testing do those of you that homeschool use?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Learning to read with developmental delays using sight words

My son who has developmental delays that go along with his special needs is now 12. We first started on this "learning to read journey"six years ago. It has been a journey full of mountains and curves.  I have used everything and anything to help him learn to read. One of the most useful things we did early on is teach him sight words. Sight words are the most frequently used words in the English language. Learning to recognize and read sight words will help your child read more fluently and help them be more confident about their reading. Many of the words on the Dolch list are not words you can sound out phonetically. If you think about it we all use memorization of words as adults to read. We do not sound each word out anymore, (unless it is an unfamiliar word) but instead, just know the words from seeing them repeatedly.

Don't get me wrong I still put a lot of value on learning to read phonetically, but especially with a child who has delays, it is invaluable to initially teach them some key words with flashcards, sight word books (my kids liked the Bob books especially!) and also with games.

 Here is a site that has the complete list of the dolch sight words. This site also lets you make flash cards for your child and plugs the words into the games at the site. Another thing you can do with kids that have mastered the basic list of sight words is to make a list of the words they consistently have problems with when they are reading you a book. Spelling City lets you make your own list of such words. Recently I scheduled our annual homeschool testing  (eeeeek! ) to take place in June. We are taking spring break this next week but the two months we will have before testing I am going to take A~man's "trouble words" from his books and make a list to practice with. We may even review the basic words although he pretty much knows all of them.

Reading is one of the most important things (scholastically speaking) you can teach your child. It creates the opportunity for a life long of learning plus the pure joy of reading for pleasure.