Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Homeschool Activities Good for Any Time of the Year

While wandering through Michael’s, you know like all normal people do, I saw these paper mache ornaments on sale for 50% off.  I didn’t really have a plan for them but I figured they were cheap and could be painted.
I love painting with the kids but there are times when it is too much work and mess.
So as I was wrapping presents, I realized that we could use the scraps to decoupage the ornaments.  Decoupage is great for kids because it is easy and doesn’t require perfect placement.  It’s been a while since I have had some new decoupage ideas pop into my head so I figured I better jump on this one.
As with all of my crafts, my style is simple and fairly quick projects.
Easy kids decoupage ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments.
All you need are:
Decoupage Ideas for kids: use leftover wrapping paper scraps on paper mache ornaments
  • Paper Mache ornaments (on sale at crafts stores because Christmas is near.  Or stock up after Christmas for next year!)
  • Modge Podge
  • Gift Wrapping scraps
  • paint (optional)
I don’t dictate to my kids how I want a craft done.  Normally, I will give them some guidelines but I like to leave the choice to them.
When I gave my son the wrapping paper, he immediately began to tear the paper into little pieces.
Easy kids decoupage ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments.
Easy kids decoupage ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments.
Easy kids decoupage ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments.
Pork Chop had some prior experience in decoupaging.  They worked on a project in art club. He was very particular in how it needed to be done!  He isn’t really one for deviating from the “right way.”  Hopefully, he will become more flexible because he truly is an artist.
My daughter asked if she could paint hers instead. Pea chose the stocking and picked her paint colors.  I wasn’t surprised to see that they were Frozen colors since the scraps she chose was from the Frozen wrapping paper.
Easy kids decoupage ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments.
She painted the front of it blue and purple and the back in a medley of sparkles. Then she covered up the purple with an Elsa cut out.  Apparently the purple was only there as a place holder.  She completely ignored her brother when he told her that she was decoupaging all wrong.
Easy kids decoupage ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments.
Easy kids decoupage ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments.
I think they both came out great!  The ornaments cost very little money and the wrapping paper was headed for the trash anyway so this was a great way to make memories and reduce waste.
Have you every crafted with your scraps?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Nationalized Education Guidelines Causing More Homeschool Initiatives

Michael F. Haverluck

The proliferating numbers of homeschoolers in America — estimates place the population at more than 2 million — have been boosted even higher of late due to increasing agitation from parents over the federally imposed Common Core in public schools from coast-to-coast.

Public uproar over this nation’s newly enforced controversial national education standard have brought to light what many consider to be the promotion of a political agenda — enforced through the Washington-funded curriculum currently being taught in public school classrooms.

With homeschooling becoming a more popular form of alternative education across the country, states with some of the highest numbers of homeschoolers are seeing the greatest jumps in their numbers. North Carolina is one of these states, which Heartlander Magazine reports experiencing a 14-percent climb in students being educated from home. California, New York and Virginia are other states that have also witnessed significant spikes in homeschoolers.

As many parents decide to homeschool their children because of beliefs and agendas taught in the classroom that run contrary to their faith, morals or philosophies, an upsurge in those exiting the public schools was anticipated. This has reportedly been spurred by the elevated discontent surveys have noted from citizens who have taken the time to examine what the Common Core is all about.

“If you look at national — and even state polls — you can see that the more familiar people become with Common Core, the more they dislike it,” Civitas Institute Senior Policy Analyst Bob Lubke explained to “They feel like they are losing control of what their kids are learning.”

This potential for declining numbers is recognized by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), as well. But officials within the institution, which is in charge running public schools throughout the Tar Heel State, contend that the increase in the number of homeschoolers statewide has not adversely affected public school enrollment at all — as the reverse seems to be true.

“We have experienced a statewide increase in enrollment over the past few years,” NCDPI Spokeswoman Vanessa Jeter expressed to “Since 2012-13, our statewide enrollment has increased by 27,512 students.”

In fact, putting to rest the complaint of many public school superintendents who blame homeschooling for taking away funding from public education, homeschooling is argued by National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) Founder and President Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., as saving taxpayers $16 billion annually.

An exodus in the making?

The trend of homeschooling being on the rise is something that is not expected to go away any time soon. Experts in the field of education express that the Common Core’s introduction into public schools this fall semester is continuing to upset parents after they see the extent of the changes and politically motivated curriculum within.

“The uptick in homeschooling has become a trend across the nation over the past couple of years, even in states like New York and California,” asserted Eagle Forum Executive Director Glyn Wright. 

“Americans have rejected the Common Core initiative because they are tired of unaccountable federal bureaucracy, especially when it comes to their child’s education, and because they are seeing first-hand the poor quality and content of the Standards that are meant to prepare children for the workforce instead of giving them a well-rounded, superior education.”

With official estimates of homeschoolers ranging from the United States Department of Education’s 1.8 million to NHERI’s latest approximation of 2.3 million, students educated at home are beginning to comprise a more significant percentage of American students. Currently, approximately 50 million children attend America’s public schools, with another 5 million attending conventional private schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). As more and more parents become familiar with the Common Core, the disparity between publicly schooled and homeschooled students is expected to gradually even out.

“It’s not surprising that we are seeing a lot of this as of late,” expressed Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Federal Relations Director William Estrada. “When it comes to Common Core, we see a hastening by parents.”

Getting fed-up

Estrada emphasizes that parents already on the brink of losing their faith in public education got the final bump that they needed to propel them into home instruction by the launch of the Common Core.
“For them, it’s the final straw after many concerns about the education of their children,” Estrada continued. "There’s been a battle for a long time, where parents feel that they do not have enough of a say when it comes to their child’s education.”

Originally, 46 states signed on to implement the Common Core in their statewide public school curricula. The four states that never signed on to the controversial curricula are Texas, Alaska, Virginia and Nebraska.

However, this number has already lowered to 43, as Oklahoma, Indiana and South Carolina have repealed the Common Core in their states. The number of states consenting to the Common Core is expected to dwindle even further in the near future to 40, as North Carolina, Louisiana and Missouri have also launched movements to repeal the controversial federally backed curricula.

In preparation to repeal the Core Curriculum from North Carolina public schools, the Academic Standards Review Commission was established. Its primary function was designed to form alternative curricula to replace the Common Core if the state’s efforts to oust the federal standards are successful.

However, many parent groups disgruntled with the Common Core contend that they will still opt to homeschool their children if and when their respective states repeal Washington’s education standards — due to skepticism over the way parental input has continued to be steamrolled by both the state and federal governments. For instance, parents in both Oklahoma and Indiana have contended that public school officials have merely switched federal standards with new ones that are virtually indistinguishable. They complain that the alternative curricula are carbon copies of Washington’s lesson plans, with the only changes being in the name of the materials.
Disgruntled parents from every state have been standing up to the Common Core both before and after its launch.

The 2014 fall semester marked the launch of the new federal standards in school curricula in virtually all of the states that initially signed on with the Common Core. But since September, parents, educators and policy makers have increasingly voiced disapproval over more than Washington’s control over the nation’s curricula. These skeptics have also challenged the objectionable content found in students’ textbooks and lesson plans, which they say have been devised to indoctrinate children into the political mindset embraced in the standards that were devised by federal bureaucrats.

Friday, December 12, 2014

What To Do When Homeschooling Doesn’t Work

Brani Riddle

One year ago at this time, my husband, son and I had packed up our apartment in Louisville, Kentucky (where my husband attended seminary) to move back to our home state of South Carolina.   My husband had graduated from seminary, and we were searching for God’s plan for our lives.
We had homeschooled our son while in Louisville for his kindergarten year and had completed that year with success.  We had planned to continue homeschooling him once we were settled back in South Carolina.  The plan didn’t work.  After a few weeks of trying to get a house organized, jobs secured, and boxes unpacked, homeschooling was not going so well.  I was determined that since I had already done it for a year, I could continue with no problems.  I was wrong.
I think the move and chaos that ensued after it (with trying to get settled) caused my son to become unsettled.  He didn’t want to listen to me anymore.  He didn’t want to “do school,” and everyday was becoming a constant battle.
One day as I sat there crying trying to figure out what to do, my husband suggested the unheard of: public school.  I wasn’t against public school by any means, and I think it has great benefits, but we had already decided that we would continue to homeschool, as it would allow us the freedom to travel to Guatemala (the place we feel called of God to serve).
I was not for the idea.  I liked having my son at home.  I enjoyed homeschooling him, even through the hardships.  It was a great way to spend time with him, to watch him grow and learn.  I thought about him learning to read and the satisfaction I had in knowing that I had not only been there to see him read the first time, but in knowing that I had helped him achieve that goal.  My brain began to go around and around.  “What will others think of me if I can’t continue to homeschool him?  Will they laugh at me?  Will they say, ‘I told you so.’”  So many emotions came rushing at me in that instant, but knowing that my husband really felt that we should at least look into public school, I agreed.
The next day we called the school that my son would attend and took a tour.  It turns out that the kindergarten/1st grade age cutoff is different here in SC than it was in KY.  My son would have to repeat K5 if he went into public school.  For me, it was just another reason to keep homeschooling.  My husband was able to see things differently.  After much conversation and prayer, we decided that public school was worth a shot, even if it meant he would have to repeat kindergarten.  Maybe it would give him an advantage since he already knew what most of the kids would just be learning.  I was so torn about him going to public school and repeating, but with my husband’s leading, I felt that it was the right thing to do.
We enrolled him and dropped him off all in the same day.  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I had been with him for pretty much the last 5 years.  I was sad because I was not able to see what he was learning (or relearning) each day.  I was sad because I simply could not physically be there.  It took me a few weeks to adjust to him being gone, but it only took about 3 days for him to adjust!  He was frequently bored at school in the beginning, but he still excelled in all that he did.  It also helped him socially.  He had always been very shy, but going to public school helped him learn to cope with that shyness.  He made many friends and loved his teachers.  I did, too!
So, what does one do when homeschooling doesn’t work?  Our best solution was to attempt public school.  For others, it may be private school, or it may be sticking it out to see if things change.  Yes, I still miss him being at home with me and teaching him, but I believe whole-heartedly that God gave my husband the wisdom to suggest public school to me that day.  I would have never suggested it on my own.  It turned out to be a great year for him and me.  I was able to engage as the “room mom” and help with school parties and events.
I think the thing we have to remember is that some things are just for a season.  That’s what homeschooling was for us.  It was a short season.  Some seasons last longer than others.  What we can’t do is beat ourselves up or feel like failures.  Just because something doesn’t work doesn’t mean we failed.  It may mean that God led us to that path for a short time and has something else in store for the future.

Monday, January 13, 2014

What Homeschool Books Should I Buy?

One of the benefits of homeschooling is having the ability to choose your own homeschool books. When shopping for homeschool books, you have to decide whether you want to buy a pre-designed curriculum set, or if you want to piece your own curriculum together by purchasing individual books. There are pros and cons to both choices, and while one choice may be perfect for one family, that same choice may not be good for yours. It’s important to have a clear picture of both your goals and your available resources.  

Benefits of Pre-designed Homeschool Curriculums

  1. Time: Picking out individual homeschool books for each and every subject that you want to teach is a giant time sink. It’s even worse if you aren’t really sure what you are looking for. Some parents may have a specific idea, such as wanting to use Singapore Math as their core math system. Knowing what you want helps you target your search. If you are unsure, choosing individual books can be exhausting and discouraging

 2. Money: With some comparison shopping, you can find some very reasonable rates on pre-assembled curriculums. Buying a bundle of homeschool books is usually cheaper than buying individual books from different programs.

Negatives of Buying Pre-designed Homeschool Curriculums

  1. Lack of Customization: You may not be able to get exactly what you want. If one subject of the whole package doesn’t fit your philosophy, or is not the right material for your child, you may have to supplement the package with extra material. This can make be an extra expense.

 2. Difficult to Change: If after you start using the materials, and you find they are not what you expected, it can be a very big problem trying to change books mid-level. Replacing an entire curriculum can set you back loads of money, and it can set back your child’s learning.

Benefits of Buying Itemized Curriculums

  1. Customization: You have the ability to design the program exactly how you want to. You can buy or create materials such as workbooks or reading books that fit your family’s beliefs, and you can make sure each book lends itself to your child’s strengths.

 2. Adaptability: If something is not going well, it’s easier to change directions. You are not stuck in a pre-established system, and you can alter your materials much easier.

Negatives of Itemized Homeschool Books

  Basically, the opposite of the positives. It’s time consuming and expensive. It also requires more experience than buying a whole set does, because you need to know what you are looking for. As you can see, there is no universal answer for what is best when you are looking at which homeschool books to use. One family may have limited financial resource compared to another which will weigh in their decision making process. Another family may have a parent with lots of experience in purchasing homeschool supplies compared to a new family. Whatever you choose, you have to make sure it’s the correct decision for your family, not for everyone elses. Be sure to do plenty of research, and remember, whatever you choose, you can always enhance the core set with supplementary material.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sometimes Overlooked Homeschool Resources

While textbooks make up the key portion of conventional schools’ learning materials, when compiling the best homeschool curriculum it’s important to not forget that there are other useful homeschool resources. Workbooks can add a very effective tool to your homeschooling arsenal. Whether used as a direct teaching resource, a teaching supplement, or for review, they provide a more kinesthetic/tactile approach to teaching your child, and they should seriously be considered as one of your homeschool resources parents that want to deliver the most effective education as possible.


Traditional textbooks are a great source of information, but they are only one of the many potential resources available. They also deliver information extremely well to visual learners, but they may not be the best delivery system for auditory or kinesthetic learners. Workbooks can be great homeschool resources to the parents of those who learn better through listening or writing, and for those who are easily put off by traditional textbooks.

 A key aspect of many workbooks is writing. For young learners, there are usually many simple activities that require circling correct answers or matching exercises. More advanced learners often must compete short answer activities, or answer open-ended questions and write longer essay style replies. All of the writing may help them remember and therefore recall the targeted material better than simply reading it. A hidden advantage of adding workbooks to your homeschool resources is that they also provide more opportunity for students to ask questions, which can be an invaluable bonus.

Some workbooks may also come with an audio CD, or with access to online audio files. Anytime an auditory learner gets the chance to listen to material instead of only read it, the potential for retention increases. Audio files can also act as a great reinforcement tool for visual or kinesthetic learners. For the extremely motivated parent-teachers, you can also create your own audio files as a supplement and additional homeschool resources to the standard textbooks or workbooks that you use.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to add workbooks or other homeschool resources to your homeschool supplies, supplementing some form of auditory teaching can have substantial positive effects. Besides catering towards the strength of auditory learners, listening activities and exercises can help change the pace of a lesson, or regain the interest of a bored child. They can also act as well-deserved break for parents that need a short rest due to fatigue or have the need to manage another household activity that is unavoidable during a lesson. You can never have too many homeschool resources.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to Choose the Best Homeschool Curriculum for Your Family

As you most likely already know, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Each state however has its own laws governing what is required of families that decide to homeschool. Some states, like Ohio, have many requirements and dictate which subjects must be part of the homeschool curriculum. Others, like Oklahoma and Mississippi do not make such demands. Ohio and Pennsylvania tend to have to most restrictive laws, like criminal background checks for households in PA that wish to educate at home. So how do you know how to get the best homeschool curriculum for your child? The laissez-faire states open up the choosing of the curriculum to the parent-teachers, while the stricter states still maintain some control of what is taught. They do so by either having subject requirements, annual standardized testing, or both. By forcing homeschooled children to pass state standardized testing, they force the homeschool curriculum to adhere, at least partially, to state dictated content. 

Anyone can Create the Best Homeschool Curriculum

Regardless of whether or not your state enforces some type of control over what you teach, with careful thought and research, it’s possible to put together the best homeschool curriculum that meets your personal philosophy and goals. There are many informational databases pointing parents to the newest or the best system, but it’s important to remember that you should find a series of learning tools that meet both your beliefs and your child’s learning style. The newest trendy homeschooling system may help some children, but does it fit into your core beliefs and play into your child’s strengths? Another important part of selecting proper books is to not put all of the weight of choice onto your own shoulders. The more considerate and thoughtful you are, the more you will end up second guessing yourself. There is nothing wrong with asking for advice from people that you respect intellectually. Your spouse or a brother or sister may offer a viewpoint that you did not previously consider. If you are a religious person, you may want to confide with your family’s priest, minister, or respective religious leader. It's always a good idea to take plenty of time and do a lot of research while putting together the best homeschool curriculum. You may also want to seek the advice of other parents with more experience than yourself. If you do not have any friends with home education experience, finding a support group could be useful. You can search for groups by state on this website. Another compilation of groups can be found here, but be aware that these groups are geared towards families of the Christian faith. If you have trouble finding a local group via the Internet, inquiring at your local community center could pay dividends. While building the best homeschool curriculum for your goals, no matter which homeschool supplies you choose, whether a shiny new complete series, or a used patchwork program, purchased books and supplements are only a portion of your education. Homemade materials can be equally effective, and make excellent supplemental aids. Another one of the wonderful advantages of teaching in an intimate setting is having the ability to alter and mold the teaching process to best suit your child. Your patience and creativity are just as important as the books you buy, so take your time and research all of your options when choosing a homeschool curriculum for your family.

What You Need to Know in Order to Choose the Best Homeschool Supplies

When teaching your child or children at home, choosing the correct homeschool supplies can be just as important as the initial choice of choosing to homeschool over choosing conventional school. The quality of your homeschool supplies not only directly affects the information available for your child’s learning, but it also provides you with confidence in your ability to serve as the prime source of education for your loved one. Searching only for discount homeschool supplies may seem like the most financially reasonable approach, especially since many homeschooling households are single-income households, but make sure to adequately research all available material to make sure you have the right tools for the job.

Various Types of Homeschool Supplies

Supplementary homeschool supplies and materials such as homeschool workbooks are often overlooked, but can be just as beneficial as the core books and material. It’s also important to provide a stable and comfortable learning atmosphere that is free from distractions. The comforts of home, and the easy access to a plethora of personal items, like toys, magazines and electronic gadgets, such as phones and mp3 players, are more of a problem for homeschoolers than conventional schoolers. Having everything prepared before each lesson can help limit the damage that these distractions can cause.

Proper preparation means to not only have all of the books and supplements organized, but to also make sure there are plenty of ready-to-use pens, pencils, erasers, and other homeschool supplies. One special supplement that many parents have available to them that is incredibly more convenient to access and use at home than in a conventional schooling environment is the Internet. With websites like youtube and PBS, you can support lessons with on-topic video. Other sites like Khan Academy provide another source for instruction, which is very useful for reinforcement. Just be sure to not rely on the Internet too much, as it could easily become a crutch, or an unwanted distraction.

Once you have your homeschool supplies picked out, and you have set up a distraction free yet comfortable learning environment, it will be much easier to focus on the delivery of information. You will be able to learn the best and most effective methods of transferring information to your child instead of worry about whether or not they have a pencil, or if the material you are using is of a high enough quality, as those problems will have already been dealt with beforehand.

Another important idea about the homeschool supplies you use is that while you can prepare for most situations and lessons beforehand, it’s still good to keep a running homeschool supplies’ list. You should keep track of what works well and what doesn’t, so you can properly adjust the material and your lesson delivery as time goes on. Sometimes material or lessons aren’t working the way you originally intended. Maybe you want to pick and choose information from both non-secular and secular homeschool curriculums. Keeping a clean and organized record can help you with future choices and organization. But never forget, no matter which homeschool supplies you use, you are still your child’s most important resource in life, and even more so while homeschooling.