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January 24, 2013

The Ever Changing Homeschool Curriculum

One awesome family losing sight of the shore…and searching for the next laundromat!

Guest Blogger Mary Carlton

As many of you seasoned homeschooling moms (and dads) know, the homeschool curriculum is a growing, changing beast.  That dark, negative voice that we attempt to suppress on a daily basis sometimes breaks through to the surface creating a blanket of doubt and fear.  Are we pushing them too hard? Are we not challenging them enough?  Are they falling behind in Math?  Should they be reading at a higher level?  These questions, and many others, lead us on an almost constant quest to find the perfect homeschooling curriculum.  Well, my friends, I have a nugget of wisdom that I am willing to share with you (and yes, it’s free!).

There is no such thing as the perfect curriculum.

*GASP*  Shocking eh?

The fear of failure is a massive motivator.  But when we, as homeschooling parents, take a look at what and who we would be failing, it creates a deep seated panic down in your belly.  For me, it’s like falling from a great height, knowing you are going to crash, but still having time to reflect on where it went wrong…it drives me to distraction.  I am constantly wondering if I’m doing it all right, or all wrong.  This fear has created a revolving door in regard to our courses of study. However, after a measly two years, I think I just might have pieced together a curriculum that suits our family rhythm.

When we started homeschooling we lived in a house.  I went to the resale homeschool bookstore and grabbed a few basics in the three R’s.  This worked well for about a month and then the ugly beast took control and I went searching.  We added in a few more subjects and I felt a bit better about what we were doing throughout the day.  When we decided to hit the road, we also decided to revamp the manner in which we studied.  We wanted to try to go digital with everything.  So, off I went in search of a curriculum that would help us do that.  I looked at boxed sets, they were too heavy (weight is an issue in the camper) and too expensive for us. I also looked at the curriculums that offered 100% online courses.  The only thing I worried about with that was how I would handle it if we didn’t have internet.  I eventually came across a curriculum that seemed to be the perfect fit.  It was all on a CD which would allow me to print anything I needed or just use the computer.  The library of classic literature that came with it was astounding.  The entire curriculum was based on reading, which we all love, and pushing the kids to be self-reliant.  Sold!

A few months went by and I realized that I needed to be able to have a book in my hand, along with a schedule for each subject, in order for me to feel in control of our progress.  So, off I went searching again.  And through a few trials and errors, I arrived at the curriculum we now use in our roadschooling family.  It’s a hodge podge of items that seem to work well with the ebb and flow of our daily lives.

As I look back at what we went through to arrive at this point, I realize that it’s not a curriculum that I was searching for.  It was more about finding what made me comfortable in my position as teacher rather than the subjects and courses I was teaching.  You see, kids really can learn anywhere.  It can be by reading something in a book, watching a video, visiting a museum, or simply exploring the outdoors.  Along that same line of understanding, parents can teach in a multitude of ways as well.  We can buy lesson plans, use boxed sets that have all materials included, use the online/virtual schools that are very hands off, or we can pull together daily and weekly lessons from local resources as we see fit.  I realized that my job wasn’t to necessarily teach them science, or fractions, or diagramming sentences.  My job is to teach them how to find information while still encouraging that love of learning new things.  And for me, the best way to do that is to have a scheduled way to measure progress.  I can see, daily, what excites them, interests them, and bores them.  For me, not having to create lesson plans allows me to direct my focus on other aspects of our traveling lives. Such as finding locations that jive with their interests J Not having to worry about where a library is, wondering if we’re going to have internet, or figuring out what comes next takes a load of weight off of my shoulders and frees me to simply enjoy the day with them.  Sometimes, I find myself learning right beside them!

So no, there is no perfect curriculum.  And realizing that has helped me figure out what works.  Once I figured out the “how”, then the “what” followed along quite well.  The kids have a workable schedule that encourages them to be self-sufficient, while allow me to see, at a glance, where they are in their day.  And we all know that a happy and relaxed Momma means a happy and relaxed family!

Information regarding roadschooling can be found here.

You can read more of Mary’s blog at http://travellingawesomes.com.

Fun–and fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

December 14, 2010

The Arts–the Perfect Gift!

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures,Homeschool Welcome Message — dailynews @ 2:00 am

Legacy Learning Systems is offering Homeschool.com readers an exclusive offer of 50% off any of their award-winning courses! The Legacy Learning Systems series of Homeschool courses, guitar, piano and painting, are some the most comprehensive DVD-based courses on the market today. Each course is taught by an accomplished instructor; from the Grammy-Award winning Will Barrow (Learn & Master Piano) to Steve Krenz (Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar).

Their three courses – Learn & Master Guitar, Learn & Master Piano and Learn & Master Painting – are perfect for hands-on training and true multi-modal instruction (reading, watching, doing and listening).

The courses include DVDs, a lesson book, jam-along CDs and unlimited access to the student support forum. They also include a teacher’s guide to help walk you through the material and track your child’s progress.

With these courses, you do not need to know anything about guitar, piano or painting. Everything is included that is needed for your son or daughter to learn and master the skills. Plus, if you aren’t satisfied with the course for any reason, you have 60 days to return it if for a full refund of the purchase price.

Legacy Learning Systems has stated, “It just makes sense for us to provide the #1 Homeschooling Community with the #1 Homeschool courses for learning guitar, piano and painting!”

The arts are certainly educational and fun.

And as we all know, fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

September 15, 2010

Take Those Ear Infections Seriously!

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures,Main — dailynews @ 1:00 am

Per the website, www.howtolearn.com,the University of Sydney, has found that persistent middle ear infections in young children can have a detrimental impact on their language and literacy skills.

The author of the study, Dr. Heather Winskel, states that middle ear infection or otitis media (OM) is the most common childhood illness.  Per Dr. Winskel–”The peak incidence of OM occurs when children are between 6 and 18 months, which is the most critical period of language development, when the infant is tuning in to the speech sounds that characterize their native language. This process allows young children to break into the stream of speech and eventually map sound onto meaning. Fluctuating hearing loss due to OM during the early years of life presents the child with an intermittent speech signal that is difficult to process.”

The Doctor adds, “There was a general tendency for children with a history of OM to achieve lower scores on phonological awareness skills of alliteration, rhyme and non-word reading, semantic skills of expressive vocabulary and word definitions and reading compared to non-OM children.  Extensive research has indicated that phonological awareness is a necessary skill children need to begin reading.”

Clearly, chronic ear aches require medical attention and resolution!

Ann Simpson

May 11, 2010

Congrats Zoe!

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures,Homeschool Welcome Message — dailynews @ 2:00 am

Thirteen year old unschooler, Zoe Bentley came in 2nd in the NASA No Boundaries National Competition–and she competed with high school students!

The NASA No Boundaries Project slogan, “Education is very much like space itself.  Limitless.  No Boundaries.” seems especially appropriate to the unschooling philosophy and to homeschooling as a whole.

Zoe has her own website up, http://www.exogeology.info/ and it’s pretty darn impressive.

Congratulations Zoe!

As always–fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

April 21, 2010

St. Augustine, FL – Virtual Fieldtrip

Filed under: Main — kate @ 1:00 am

Yesterday we visited Castillo de San Marcos, which is located in St. Augustine Florida. Castilla de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fortification in North America. The fort was built between 1672 and 1695 and was built of Coquina (fossilized crushed shell stone) and other material (You can really see the shells on the walls of the fort!). Workers were brought in from Havana, Cuba, to construct the fort. The coquina was quarried from Anastasia Island across the bay from the Castillo, and ferried across to the construction site. Construction lasted twenty-three years, being completed in 1695.

This place is an impressive piece of history and is so much fun! It has a double drawbridge entrance which is located over a 40-foot dry moat. The fort stands on top of a hill located right next to the water. The structure is very impressive! It’s hard to believe this has been here since construction began in 1672! Each room in the fort presents information about the fort. The info varies from the ruling parties to the weapons to the people who lived in and defended the fort as well as the settlement. In one room, a video is constantly playing about the weaponry used during the battles fought at this fort as the Spanish (the original settlers and the ones who eventually stole it back from the British) and British (the ones who took it over after two sieges) fought for Florida. The fort even played a role in the Civil War as the confederacy held on to Florida. While here, make sure you go to the top of the fort and take in the views of the water, the historic downtown, and of the beautiful seaside homes lining the water across the way.

This monument also does a canon firing on the weekends and it is so cool! Find a spot early where no one can get in front of you and get ready for a history lesson for the kids. The gift shop has some cool stuff that is not too overpriced, which is nice for those of us who like souvenirs. Overall, it’s a great way to teach kids about history and have fun doing so. It’s also not expensive to get in either, and the tickets last for a week, so you can go back during your stay in St. Augustine.

We had a great day exploring this wonderful fort and the demonstrations were amazing. I would definitely go back.

Here are some great curriculum lessons to use with your kids when you go. Or, use it as a virtual field trip with your kids and teach them about St. Augustine without actually going.

http://www.nps.gov/casa/forteachers/index.htm

Never stop learning,

August 9, 2008

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