Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
We have nearly finished Year 2 Unit 3. That also means that we have nearly finished reading Colonial Living by Edwin Tunis. Though the book is fascinating, it has been a challenging read aloud. Several times I have allowed the girls to work on a craft project while I read to them. Today we only had a few pages to read, so I thought that we could just sit on the couch. They kept talking, getting up, and trying to play with their two year old brother. I assumed that I would need to re-read the passage later in the week.
Tonight at dinner my seven year old explained in reasonable detail how dogs were put on treadmills that were attached to the spit so that the meat would turn over the fire. (see what I mean about fascinating?) Well, who would have guessed that she was listening?
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
5 families will be given a gift worth more than $1,200. Make sure that you give yourself the chance to be among them.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
My husband and I both grew up under this system. I am sure that many of you can relate. Reading meant pizza, good grades meant movies, and good behavior was rewarded with popcorn. And really, what did this communicate to a school full of learners? My mom would argue that it communicated that reading is a chore. I agree with her.
"The learning is the reward" is a lovely catch phrase for a teacher to adopt. However, without concrete examples, the phrase is meaningless. Here are a few ideas from my bag of tricks. Please leave a comment sharing ways that you remind your student(s) that the learning process is the reward.
- books are given as treats (vacation entertainment, Christmas presents, just because . . .)
- a map reading geography adventure
- handwriting practice becomes a letter exchange between friends
- increasing freedom in the kitchen (my oldest is often allowed to assemble simple recipes; math and reading; I suppose that one could argue that there is still an edible reward at the end of the process. I assure you that she enjoys the actual work involved. Most children are quite proud to help with the family meal.)
- casual dinner table discussions reviewing the week's history lessons (most recently my husband was explaining that in the 1600's many people came to America searching for religious freedom; "yes, that reminds me of reading about the Huguenots," was the reply. The "reward" for such detailed reading? A huge grin from dad.)
- saying things like, "oh, I love these kinds of problems" or "wow, this is a thinking question! You will feel great when you figure it out." That may sound cheesy, but you are the gauge by which your student will set his attitude. You can coach him towards the mindset that challenges are to be relished or towards the mindset that challenges are to be avoided. You can validate a student's sense that this problem looks tricky without bemoaning hard work.
My mom recently published her fourth book. In one of the chapters she offers suggestions for classroom teachers to build "intrinsic motivation." While the book is written for a teacher facing a room full of students, I think that teachers with only a hand full of students will find it thought provoking and motivating. Hopefully intrinsically so. After all, for any teacher, and especially for a homeschooling mother, the work is the reward.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The harsh truth about stretching the school budget: IT IS TEACHER INTENSIVE. There you go. Can you home school on a dime? If you have access to a library, then the answer is yes. The world is full of free or nearly free resources. The difference between your inexpensive home school and your neighbor's costly home school is most likely preparation time. Having said that, here are a few things to get your brain turning about ways to save:
*use your state's Standard Course of Study for each subject to help guide you on topics to include for each grade level (you should be able to access this on-line) Take that information to create goals for your student.
*trade resources with another family - -Most of my friends aren't ready to part with their materials, but are willing to loan things out. This year I loaned my Saxon 2 materials to a friend who returned the favor by loaning me a grocery sack full of reading material for my oldest.
*for younger students buy one of the grade level Critical thinking books (Mathematical Reasoning). I have been using Saxon and Mathematical Reasoning. I have enjoyed the combination, but Mathematical Reasoning covers the same material. If you do this you will need to be sure that you include homemade flashcards, skip counting exercises, and additional work on calender information. Those are all things that you can do yourself for little to no money.
*nearly anything can be a math manipulative - - Don't be convinced that you have got to have the silly linking cubes. Surely you have 100 grains of rice. Ok, maybe something a bit larger, but you get my point.
*find out about your library's interlibrary loan policy. I live in a small town. Our library is nice, but small. That has not hindered my ability to borrow books. If the book I need is not available locally it can usually be borrowed from another library. I have to pay the return shipping. That amounts to significant financial savings. Again, the real issue here is time and effort.
*science - - (again, teacher intensive) plan the year based on your area; Plan one activity a week and select several library books to read, for each week create a supplies list and buy the supplies a week at a time. I bet that you can average $5 a week. Yes, you can buy a teacher notebook that has done this for you, but you are trying to save money. Use your state's Standard Course of Study as a guide line or better yet your student's interests.
Things that I would spend money on:
a reusable writing space (dry-erase board or chalkboard; I used lap boards until I was able to devote a wall to this; you will save money on paper by doing this)
a great map (in a perfect world: a world map, a U.S. map, and a map of your state)
resource books that would be used for many years (children's dictionary, student dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, children's Bible)
teacher training (podcasts, webinars, books, magizines, etc.)
a place to store things (even if you are not buying much you will need this; my students are little so I asked my husband to create a shelf about 16" from the ceiling. It is ugly. It is out of reach. We used a bunch of "L" brackets and two long unfinished boards. Hopefully you can come up with something better.)
an integrated Language Arts curriculum (this is just my opinion; History/Geography/Literature/Art/writing would be a huge thing for me to plan. At some point my time is worth something. I have chosen to use Tapestry of Grace. )
Crunching the numbers
In this scenario my expenses would look something like this:
Tapestry of Grace year plan $260
2 mathematical reasoning books $60
reusable writing space (including chalk/dry-erase markers) $30
long-term resource books $50-100 (I was able to get mine used for much less)
teacher training free-$100 (I have found the library and the internet to be great sources for free materials)
storage items (shelving/plastic containers with lids/cabinet) $100
Grand total: $500- $700
The things that are glaringly missing are basic supplies (paper, crayons, pencils, etc.),science lab supplies, group fees (do you join a local homeschool group, HSLD, or a state group?), field trips, a specific class your child might take (My girls take a P.E. class at the local college. We spend $50 a year for both girls to participate in this.) Most of these things do not come up all at once, so I find it easier to budget for them. I would guess that I average $10-$20 a month on these kinds of things.
One closing thought, balance is key in determining your school budget. Every decision will impact how your home runs. For example, I bought the reccomended math manipulatives. With four small children my house never seems clean. I decided that I would rather eat rice and count linking cubes. I figured that I would use the vaccum cleaner less. The trade off for me was an atlas. I wasn't able to find a used one last fall, so we check one out from the Library every few weeks and use a globe that I bought at Target for $1 the rest of the time. Think through every aspect of your home as you consider purchasing school material. How will an item benifit you and your students? Will the lack of an item offer an opportunity for creative use of other items or will it create another mess? Enjoy the number crunching and take pride in the extra effort that you are putting into your child's education.