Monday, June 28, 2010

Reaping the Benefits of Summer Reading

K finished Borders and Barnes & Nobles' summer reading programs and we went today to get her free books.  At Borders she chose "Johnny Tremain" and then at B&N she was so happy to see an American Girl book on the list and got that one.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Homeschoolers Outperform Private AND Public Schoolers

Here is the average overall academic score comparison showing that homeschoolers outperform private and public schoolers.

This chart shows you public school students scoring at 50 percent overall on the Stanford Achievement Tests and then look at the homeschool scores. 

I think you can clearly see that as a mother, you can educate your child better than anyone can! ;-)

Image credits: Apologia Online

The Public School Trojan Horse - Online "Homeschool"

"Exposing a Trojan Horse interviews leaders of Christian state homeschool organizations, researchers, and parents to uncover the hidden costs of parents participating in government-funded programs for home educators."

Read more here.

Many articles on these public "homeschool" programs:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Independence Day/ 4th of July Lapbook

I'm happy to say we finished our very first lapbook!  I also have to say that I'm absolutely hooked and addicted to lapbooking now and can't wait to start the next one.  We chose to do a lapbook for the 4th of July/Independence Day to use this week in our study of what Independence Day is all about since K will not get American history till 3rd grade.  We already went over a lot while making the lapbook but will read books and listen to audiobooks on the subject this week as we study it.

I was going to use cardstock paper for the whole thing but realized you could get by with regular printer paper easily on most of the items.  I did use cardstock paper on the leader cards and revolution wheel.  For glue, we used glue sticks and a glue pen for the ones that had a paper fastener.

It was so easy to do when I understood how it all worked and K loved it as well but gave up on the writing so I had to finish the rest.  I printed out some 4th of July worksheets, bookmarks, sun visor and coloring pages for K to do this week for fun as well and they fit nicely in the lapbook section for handouts!

I was almost done and working on the pledge of allegiance and before I glued the cover to the booklet, I realized that the words "under God" were not in the provided pledge!  I was a bit upset but I just went ahead and cut it out and wrote it myself including UNDER GOD! 

You can download the lapbook for free here

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Reading Programs

Here are available summer reading programs:
  • Barnes & Noble - read 8 books and get a free book!  Download your passport here, fill it out and turn it in for your free book.
  • Borders - read 10 books and get a free book!  Download form here, fill it out and turn it in for your free book.
  • Books-A-Million - ages 7-12 ONLY; pick up or download your passport and Jack & Annie travel pals; read six (Magic Tree House) books between May 20 and August 1 and receive a free, exclusive Books-A-Million Magic Tree House tote bag
  • Half Price Books - read every day for 15 minutes and get a $3 gift card that week and every week up until July 31st; download reading log and reward certificate.
  • Chuck E. Cheese - download reading rewards calendar; read and mark your calendar and get 10 free tokens; you can also fill out the other reward calendars for free tokens. 
  • H-E-Buddy - download the reading log; read 10 books and mail in your log and you will receive your prize (I think its a tshirt) in 3-4 weeks.
  • Local library - Pick up a reading log and stamp card at the library; for every 20 minutes you read, update your log.  When you have read the required time (10 hours) turn it in for your free "special certificate and prize, including a free pass to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium or Northwest Trek, or a coupon for free pizza at Round Table";  Also, after 5 visits on your stamp card you get a free Kids pack from Subway and free ice skating.
Make sure to check your local library for YOUR summer reading program.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Treasures in Heaven File Folder Game

We have started doing lapbooks recently and I also made a file folder game today and K loves it!  The reason I chose this one is because it teaches about being wise with our finances and not loving money.  It's a great way to teach children about handling money!

You can download and print the materials for free here.

Rod and Staff English 2

Rod and Staff English 2 arrived today!  I was very pleased with it as I looked over how it was laid out and anxious to start it this fall.  Below, you can see the teacher's manual, student text and there is also a test booklet.  The teacher's manual has a small snapshot of the student's text and then the lesson.  The student text has a dictionary in the back for the introduction on dictionary skills that is learned in R&S English 2.

I've updated our 12-year Grammar snapshot so you can see how we are going about combining FLL and R&S English:

Apologia Zoology 1 Bird Seed Feeder Project

This week we made a homemade bird feeder out of a juice container, pencils for the perches and a wire coat hanger to hang it from the tree! K loved this and we had fun.  My dad had built her a bird house and then mom painted and decorated it, so we also placed it in the tree.  Now, for the birds to find their goodies!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Story of the World Volume 1 FREE Lapbook & Video

Original blog has been removed, not sure what happened.  You can find the pdf download for this on another blog and she also has 2 more lapbooks for SOTW.

Monday, June 7, 2010

School Bus Indoctrination

As if the indoctrination of children in the public school institutions wasn't enough, now they get more indoctrination on the ride to and from school:

Thanks to Candy for the info.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

1st Grade Reading

After we have finish "The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading" we will use that time for the 20-30m morning reading:
  • 20-30 minutes of reading during school-time; books will be in relation to what we are studying in history, biographies, myths, fairy tales, poems and novels that are above K's reading level; narrations 2-4 times a week
  • 30 minutes of "fun" reading in the evenings - books at or below reading level
K will be reading on her own for about an hour a day using the schedule above.  Then we will also be reading to her during parent-reading time.  My husband has decided to read the classics list to K this year and I will be reading the library books that are too hard for her to read; most will correlate with our history/biography studies.

With K's assigned reading, she will also give me narrations of what she read in two to four sentences.  We plan on doing the narration 2-4 times a week for reading assignments, since we are already doing narrations for history and science. 

For parent-read alouds, currently my husband is reading the complete, unabridged "Chronicles of Narnia" to K.  The whole series consists of 7 books.  Then they will move on to the next classic that we have on K's 1st Grade classics reading list.

We will also be practicing reading for fluency once a week using "McGuffey's Third Eclectic Reader".

Audiobooks are playing everyday - when K cleans her room, when she plays and if she chooses, during her quiet time as well. 

Memorization will consist of about 8 poems for the year and 2 history lists - pharaohs of Egypt and the first twenty emperors of Rome.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Classical Education & Age

It wasn't until I started homeschooling that I've learned how many people don't understand this - including myself at one time.  The public school system has set a certain age and a deadline of which the child must be at that age before being placed in a specific grade.  A lot of parents, especially homeschoolers, don't understand the importance of age vs. grade level but it needs to be understood fully in order to ensure your child's learning is not hindered now or in the future.  Most parents also do not realize they can HOLD their child back a year if they choose to do so - which has proved in many to be better for the child.

I've been reading research, studies and also how curriculum is made and why it is important that age be taken into consideration with grade level.  What I have learned is this - most curriculum/textbooks are written and made for a certain age and mental level.  Although with history and science - some can be taught at different levels but not traditional textbooks.  With grammar and writing - it is crucial these subjects are taught at the child's level or ability.  Reading is reading - it only BENEFITS your child to advance in reading - there are no hindrances in a child who can read on a higher level!  Actually, the sooner you get your child reading, the better but ONLY when the child shows "readiness".

Giving a child advanced material to which the child is NOT ready for - will only frustrate the child and actually hinder their learning.  If your child is gifted, you will know - trust me!  I've read about other moms whose child started talking before 2 and reading by 3. For the rest of us - children are either average, above average or below average.

So what grade should your child be in or what curriculum should you use to match their mental ability?  It varies but the average ages are below:
  • Kindergarten - turn 6 within the school year and be 6 for most of the year
  • 1st Grade - turn 7 within the school year and be 7 for most of the year
  • 2nd Grade - turn 8 within the school year and be 8 for most of the year
  • 3rd Grade - turn 9 within the school year and be 9 for most of the year
  • 4th Grade - turn 10 within the school year and be 10 for most of the year
And the list goes on.......ending with 12th grade were the child will turn 18 during the school year.  Ask yourself this question - Who is better equipped and would score better on the SAT?  A child who was pushed ahead or a child who was held back and had an extra year of learning?  I think you can easily see the answer.

Asking a 1st grader, who is 6/7, to do the writing of a 2nd grader, who is 7/8 - is only going to frustrate the average child and hinder them.  If you were to push your child 1 or 2 grade levels ahead in writing and they are just average, what happens when they are doing 5th grade writing and are only 3rd grade age?  Will they be able to use logic and come up with proper creative writing?  Or would not they be better suited to excel at 3rd grade writing and spend more years perfecting their writing abilities?

If only the parents would realize this - they might actually have honor roll children if they were placed in their proper grade level!  Instead, they have below average, struggling, frustrated children trying to be on the mental level to which their minds can't grasp just yet.  If the child turns 5 on Sept. 6th - you should wait till the next Sept to start Kindergarten.  Why put them at a disadvantage to the other children who will be turning 6?  Not only then but you MUST look at the future as well.  Unless they are gifted, most children hit a "wall" around 3-4th grade who were pushed ahead.  It is better to catch it now then regret it later.

A lot of the research I've read proves that even just a few months in age makes a HUGE difference and I have witnessed that with my own daughter.  I look back on K 6 months ago and she was struggling on a 1st grade reading level and now - 6 months later she is on a 3rd grade reading level.  So yes - 6 months makes a HUGE difference in learning!

With homeschooling, even in my local area - I hear moms bragging about how their child is this far ahead and doing this grade, etc.  It is the spirit of elitism that even Susan Wise Bauer has spoken about in her articles - of which convicted me a few months ago because I had succumbed to its allures. Here are some quotes from one of her articles:

One thing classical homeschoolers really need to guard against is a devastating level of elitism: “We are doing the best homeschooling because our young children are doing such advanced work.” This kind of elitism is non-Christian, it is unloving, and it is unproductive. I was recently asked, “What do you think of third-graders doing Saxon 5/4?” I said, “I can’t think of a single thing you would gain by that. Some of them will be able to do it, but a lot of them aren’t developmentally ready for it. You are going to finish advanced mathematics by the end of high school if you keep them on the normal schedule. What’s the rush?” What do you gain by asking a seventh-grader to read the Iliad if that seventh-grader hasn’t developed the maturity to understand and appreciate what he’s reading? Nothing at all. You gain nothing in the way of emotional and mental development by pushing difficult tasks down to earlier grades.

I am not talking about the lowering of academic standards. I don’t want them lowered; I am just talking about extending the time needed for children to meet those standards. Children move from grammar to logic stage thinking, and from logic to rhetoric stage thinking, at different times in different subjects. We should focus on this, rather than focusing on age or grade level. And I hope that classical schools will also begin to think seriously about what is being gained in the classroom if immature students are being asked to do work that continually frustrates them. Is our goal to educate as many students as possible, or to identify a small, advanced, elite core of classical scholars? I hope it’s the first, and not the second. I think there is a very high level of achievement that all children can reach, given the appropriate amount of time. Keep the standards high, but give each child the appropriate amount of time for those achievements.
That is why I believe in the classical education model - it does coincide with age but in the best way - the grammar years, the logic years and then the rhetoric years.  This aligns curriculum and expectations with the mental period the child is in.  I encourage all to read about why these 3 tiers of classical education are so crucial.  Once you have placed your child in the proper age grade level - then place them in the proper trivium level:
  • Grammar Stage - grades 1-4 (age 7-10)
  • Logic Stage - grades 5-8 (age 11-14)
  • Rhetoric Stage - grades 9-12 (age 15-18)
Then you buy curriculum that is suited for a child in that stage.  It can't just be any curriculum - some curriculum is so childish, it is not even "on-level" to begin with.  However, with true Classical Educational curriculum - you will find it is not only on-level but very rigorous and gentle at the same time for the child at his/her proper age.  Curriculum designed for the trivium - is systematic, organized and fits the child's mental abilities as well.  Basically, you could summarize the 3 stages as this as shown in the article above - "the mind must be first supplied with facts and images (grammar stage), then given the logical tools for organization of facts (logic stage), and finally equipped to express conclusions (rhetoric stage)."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Geography K-1

We are not doing any specific curriculum this summer for geography but rather a compilation of many different sources.  I had originally not planned a geography curriculum because I thought K would get enough with Story of the World and Bible maps but seeing how we are just dealing with ancient times, we needed something extra.  I want her to learn the continents, oceans, countries and major landmarks of the world.  I also wanted her to learn about volcanoes, hurricanes, mountains, etc - basic geography topics.  After much brainstorming, we have a plan!

We are going to use "Usborne's Geography Encyclopedia; With a Complete World Atlas and Internet Links" as our geography spine.  It is 400 pages and full of a wealth of information.  I found many, many websites online that offer free printables, flash cards, worksheets, and videos that will give us any extras that I feel we may need. You can find many geography videos on youtube, howstuffworks and of course the library.  Information is so readily available to us now, it makes learning so much easier and right at our fingertips!

We already have a great globe but I also wanted a wall map for K that would be fun for her to use.  We got this cute children's world map that is laminated, so we can use dry erase markers on it.  Then AFTER I had bought the map, I realized I had maps of each continent in my flip charts in storage - oops!  Oh well, who can have too many maps right?

Continents and oceans will be our first goal to learn and then we will move on to countries.  There are some great games out there for geography and we plan on utilizing those in the future as well.

*Update: Here are the other maps I already had that I had forgotten about.  One is a book with 50 detailed maps and the other contains 16 flip charts that are sure to come in handy!