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    by Published on 07-27-2015 05:32 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. Homeschooling Styles,
    4. General Homeschooling

    As a former high school English teacher in a traditional New England classroom, a current online elementary and middle school teacher for Time4Writing, and a stay-at-home mommy of two “after-schoolers,” ages 5 and 8, I’ve met my fair share of reluctant writers. I’ve witnessed the struggle and the tears (and even shared them). I may have even been the unintended target of a few misdirected, projectile pencils launched in frustration.

    Well, aside from learning to be very quick on my toes in real-time (I often feel like the Muppet, Swedish Chef), dodging pencils (or chickens), I’ve tried out some simple recipes for the reluctant writer in my own test-kitchens (at home and online)—and fun ones! In turn, I’ve seen the resulting smiles from pride in one’s work and new-found creativity. Now not every tip will be a hole in one (er, um chickie in the pot), but many of them WILL work. For my students—and my children—the short term goal may be just finding and assembling ingredients onto the dish (moving meaningful words onto the page—or screen), but the long term goal, and reward, is becoming a tried and true celebrated chef (a truly confident writer).

    My menu of recipes below will illustrate ways to get from here to there:

    Appetizers are up! Dig in to these pre-writing favorites!

    1. Fish Soup (Let’s go Fishing for Ideas!)
    Set up a small bowl or box on a table. Cut out paper fish templates. The idea is that writers will fish for ideas for any kind of writing activity. You can include rules, such as only being allowed to throw the fish back twice. On the fish, you can include words/ideas or actual topic sentences (depending on your skill/writing goals). For the most reluctant writer, you might choose words or ideas to encourage free-writing in a writing journal. Words on the fish might include: my pet, the beach, the summer, favorite movie, etc. For a more focused writing project, you might choose “the park,” “my friend’s house,” “the kitchen, or “the car ride” as possible settings for a narrative paragraph or essay on the writing prompt, “An important life lesson I learned was….” Alternatively, the fish can include topic sentences for an expository how-to paragraph, such as: “Writing a song is fun and easy to do,” “Minecraft is a challenging game that requires skill,” or “Making loom bracelets is a fun and easy way to pass the time.” The ideas are endless. You can even craft your own fishing poles out of branches collected during a nature walk, using letter magnets as bait and coins taped to the back of each fish.

    2. TED Tartare (Reflect and Respond!)
    If your student is having a hard time brain-storming ideas, how about showing them how screen time can be productive? There are lots of TED talks available on a variety of topics that will interest your less than eager writer. Some of these talks are even given by kids—how inspiring! With just a couple of clicks, you can search for topics that specifically interest your child. Here are a few talks to view together: TED Talks for Kids. Afterwards, have your learner respond by writing about what they learned, reflecting on how they felt inspired, or better yet, writing about what they would say in their own TED talk. Ask, “What are you an expert on?” Have them write that script! Their confidence will soar.

    3. Deep-Fried Debate (Exert your Inner Expert!)
    Don’t even tell your children that this is a pre-writing activity. Many kids just love to talk and have an opinion on EVERYTHING, so hand over the reins and man the spotlight! Here are some topics: where to go on vacation, the best toy, the best book series, the best sea creature, the coolest dinosaur, or what to
    by Published on 07-26-2015 12:31 AM

    Welcome back to our new feature! It took a little hiatus!

    Every couple of weeks we will be showcasing a blog from one of our members.

    This week is SHS Member: capsfans6366

    Here is how capsfan6366 describes herself:

    I have been homeschooling my two children (aged 11 and 13) for the past 6 years! I have been married for 16 years and have a very supportive husband and he often helps with teaching! We lived in England for nearly five years and I started blogging as a way of letting our families stateside know what we were doing and where we were traveling. We moved back to the states last year and are continuing to homeschool and travel within the United States. We would love the opportunity to return to live in England one day! I intend to homeschool both children all the way through high school and I will continue to use this blog is a way of documenting the many wonderful school activities we do as well as the our travels!

    Here is a blip from her latest post: 2015-2016 Curriculum choices

    July 15th was the start of our official beginning of a new school year! I can't believe I have been homeschooling for over 6 years! It has been an interesting ride and every year I ask the kids if they wish to return to school and every year they say NO!

    In the past I have pretty much done school with both kids sitting around a table for most of the school subjects. I set assignments and always expected a little more from my oldest and for the most part that worked out great! Starting a little last year I have been separating some subjects out and while we had a few growing pains it worked out and I saw some tremendous leaps in my daughters abilities. This year we are going to push the independent work a little more and up the expectations of school work as my daughter wishes to go to college and she has already chosen William and Mary as her college destination! My husband is thrilled as that is his alma mater!

    You can read the rest of this great post and more on her blog, (Our) Life's Adventures.
    by Published on 07-26-2015 12:12 AM

    So, I watch the boards and have noticed so many parents are starting their homeschool year already! Yay for you!

    Ours normally starts early August but because of Grandparents and their schedules plus our family vacation time.... there was no way to make it all work. Our vacation is all this week, boys are headed down on 14th of August to party with the grandparents..... so we just decided to wait until Sept. 1st. Mom stress was taking a toll and I swear I had brain freeze from marking, unmarking, checking with family, changing it up, etc.

    Besides.... *sniff, I only have 1 homeschooling this year. Oldest son finished in June. I could cry.
    Youngest is a Senior this year. So freaky to me.

    Maybe I am stalling because seeing just 1 kid sitting at the table makes me sad.

    We will be sitting down this week to decide on electives and lessons. Then Mom will set it all up while they are at the grandparents! Then come September 1st or whatever that Monday is... school will start for youngest and oldest will be off looking for work!

    Times change!

    So, does your new school year start soon?
    Take the poll and then tell us more in the comments!
    Click here to tell us!

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