Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Getting Started in Homeschooling

We are half way through our first year of homeschool. We still love it.  I thought would share a few things I've learned about getting started in homeschooling as well as a few websites that I have found helpful. Hope you will find some use in these things too.

1. Pick a Curriculum to guide you. I've found having a solid curriculum has helped me stay on track. I like having the lessons prepared for me out of the box and having teacher answer keys really saves time checking the work of two students in different grades. I looked at a LOT of curriculum vendors before deciding on A Beka for our kids. I'll do a more detailed review of that later on in the year but for now a few thoughts on choosing a curriculum.

* Find out how your children learn best. Are they hands-on kinesthetic learners, learn by listening and watching, or reading and writing? Choose a curriculum that teaches the way they learn the best whether its the traditional workbook or and online program.

* Decide if you want to follow the trend of your states government schools. If you are thinking about only homeschooling temporarily or up to a certain grade you might want to keep them in the same scope and sequence as their peers in there current grade. Here's a website, The Homeschool Resource Roadmap, that tells which curriculum vendors follow common core or not. 

* Take into consideration how far the curriculum you are considering goes. Some programs only go up to 6th or 8th grade, while others cover preK through High School. If you are in it for the long haul til graduation and you skip around to different curriculum you could be missing some key components because different curriculum cover subjects in varying order. The scope and sequence in which they teach the material may be different between grades. Look beyond the current grade of your child and consider the future for each curriculum.

* How much does it cost? Homeschool is not free just like public school isn't free. You still have to buy supplies, pay for field trips, sports, etc. Curriculum is probably the biggest chunk of your homeschool budget. Don't overspend on fancy curriculum that gives you way more than you need or could make on your own. But also don't try to get by with too little that you don't stay focused on all that they need to learn in a year. Homeschooling your kids is an investment. Invest wisely!

2. Helpful Websites for Homeschoolers
 We are part of a homeschool community called Classical Conversations and we love it. I can't imagine homeschooling without it. It covers all the subjects, we just need to buy math, grammar/language/reading curriculum. While there is no need to really add anything to this outstanding program, it's fun to mix it up a bit with some new review games every now and then. Here are a few places I've gone for extras.

Homeschool Blogs
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood  This family is amazing and has been homeschooling a lot longer than me. There is a ton of information and free resources on this site.

Confessions of a Homeschooler Also a helpful blog full of planners, reviews of materials, and she has even written some of her own material. I used her PreK program with my youngest son when he was three and we liked it a lot. 







http://www.discoveryeducation.com/free-puzzlemaker/  Allows you to quickly create your own word searches, word puzzles, and word games out of your own spelling words. 


Writing Wizard


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This year we flew to Texas for Thanksgiving to visit the Mearse side of the family. We were able to fly out Monday evening and spend some time with the grandparents and cousins.

On Tuesday, Tutu and Jan (husband's Grandmother and Aunt) drove out from west Texas to visit with us and have an early Thanksgiving lunch.

Wednesday morning we headed out early for breakfast before going to Dallas for the rest of the week.

Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington are three distinct cities that sort of melt together in a vast and sprawling city. It's very flat so you can see a long way. There's a lot for families to do there. We enjoyed going to tour the Texas Rangers Stadium. Our 9 year old especially loved this since he's all about baseball. Also, our own Hickory Crawdads are the minor league team for the Rangers so it was neat to see some of the players that have moved up from here. 

After lunch we checked in our hotel next to Medivial Times and rested a while before the show. Medivial times takes you into an ancient castle for a banquet feast and a tournament of knights. Everyone is in costume (and in character) and there are live horses, jousting, and eating with your hands! What's not to love, especially for boys. 

Thursday, Thanksgiving day, we ate a quick fast food breakfast before getting to the mall for our appointment at LegoLand! Kids old and young loved this place. It's kind of a mini version of the one in Florida or California I think. There are rides, 4D movies where you get snowed on, hands on building activities, a playground, kerioke, a snack bar, and a whole exhibit of the city of Dallas made out of Legos. It is pretty awesome, even for grown-ups. The kids could've spent all day there I think. They close early on Thanksgiving so we only spent about three hours there and then it was lunch time. 

All made out of Legos!

We had Thanksgiving lunch at Applebees close to the Lego place because it was agreeable to everybody and there was no waiting. Then we took a short drive over to check in at Great Wolf Lodge. It's basically a huge hotel with an indoor waterpark and game area (think Chuck E Cheese) for kids. There's also a Magi Quest game you can play where you buy a magic wand and look for clues and go on this big LONG scavenger hunt through all 8 levels of the hotel to find the objects. It's a lot of climbing stairs. The waterpark was the highlight for the kids I think. They loved the huge waterslides, ocean wave pool, lazy river, play ground, and pool basketball. We stayed there til we flew home on Saturday. 

Friday night we had dinner at a really cool restaurant called the Magic Time Machine. If your in Dallas you should definatley check this place out. It's a weird kind of place with different themed rooms and servers dressed up as characters like Woody, Spiderman, Arial, and more. It is fine dining in a quirky, fun, adventurous admosphere. The food was fantastic and the whole evening was hilariously entertaining. As you can see below, we ate in the schoolbus and Woody was our server. 
"Help yourself to the salad car." 

We did a lot in six days but it didn't feel rushed to me. Thanks to the Mearse Family for a Thanksgiving to remember.