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    Published on 04-01-2015 08:00 AM

    SecularHomeschool.com is thrilled to partner with BookShark for their first ever featured monthly giveaway on our site!

    BookShark is a complete literature-based homeschool curriculum for students from kindergarten through eighth
    grade. It uses a variety of educational resources including literary fiction and nonfiction, biographies, illustrations and hands-on experiments to deliver an engaging and complete education that extends beyond textbook memorization. BookShark combines a proprietary History, Science and Language Arts offering with a wide range of math options, including Teaching Textbooks, Saxon and Singapore, to ensure you have everything you need for an entire school year.

    BookShark’s literature-based homeschool curriculum is easy for parents to teach. All of the planning and preparation is done for you, so you can enjoy learning together. Bookshark provides you with a 36-week, 4-day schedule designed to save one day a week for sports, field trips or other extracurricular activities.

    SecularHomeschool.com members could win either a BookShark Science Package or a BookShark Language Arts Package during our April 2015 giveaway! (AND if you order any of these items from BookShark in April and win the giveaway, BookShark will refund your purchase plus give you a $25 coupon toward your next purchase!)

    BookShark Science Packages are packed full of experiments and resources that keep science interesting! The 36 week school year is fully planned with an instructor's guide, multiple books, an entertaining DVD that walks you through the experiments and science kits with all the materials needed to do the experiments. All of the work and preparation is done so you can focus on teaching! (Retail value between $150 - $210)

    BookShark Language Arts is new and improved! After interviewing numerous focus groups, they found what parents wanted:
    1. They wanted to know what skills they were teaching.
    2. They wanted to know exactly what to say to their students.
    3. They wanted to know if their students had mastered the skill.

    Bookshark had classroom teachers work with homeschool moms to add these changes to their instructor guides. To address those needs, they added:
    1. Weekly overviews to ensure parents know what they are teaching.
    2. Daily lesson plan scripts so parents to know exactly how to instruct their students.
    3. Weekly rubrics to help parents evaluate their student's progress.

    The Language Arts giveaway includes the Language Arts Instructor's Guide as well as the corresponding Readers. (Retail value between $150 - $210)

    Keep up with the latest at BookShark:

    To enter this giveaway, simply comment below and let us know whether you would like to win the BookShark Science Package OR the BookShark Language Arts Package (you may choose only one prize).
    You may earn up to five additional entries for this giveaway by sharing this giveaway on Facebook and coming back and commenting to let us know, by sharing this giveaway on Twitter and coming back and commenting to let us know (with your Twitter ID), by sharing this giveaway on your Google+ profile and coming back and commenting to let us know (with the URL link of your share), by pinning this giveaway post on your Pinterest profile and coming back and commenting to let us know (with the URL of your pin) or by sharing the giveaway on your personal blog or website and coming back and leaving a comment with a link to your post. (Each additional entry must be entered via a separate comment)

    Click here to view the official rules for this giveaway

    by Published on 04-27-2015 02:26 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling
    Article Preview

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if every single town had a secular homeschooling support group, or at least one so inclusive that the issue of religion really wasn’t even an issue? ((Pause for deep and longing sighs)) I know. For years our local area had one large homeschool support group which required a statement of faith to join. Having been a fundamentalist Christian up through my mid-20’s I actually did the funniest thing. I’ve always had a difficult time bold-face lying about anything, so when it came time to sign the statement of faith, I would post-date it. In other words, I made sure that the date next to my signature was something like 05/04/93 (a year when I knew I still believed in each of the tenants listed there). Funnier still was that no one ever even noticed, as far as I know!

    Maybe that’s a little extreme, and definitely wouldn’t work for everyone, but I was determined that my kids were going to experience some “socialization” and if that meant joining a faith-based homeschooling support group, then I was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. And sacrifice we did.

    Our experience with that support group lasted about four years - - four of the most discouraging years of our entire homeschooling experience. Eventually the stress of trying to fit our family into the square peg of a group that was extremely faith-focused and politically charged became too much for us and we left to become “free-agents.” As you might expect, our socialization shrank sharply, but I felt it was the trade-off for not being tied to a peer group with so much judgment and so few positive experiences.

    Looking back six or seven years later, I still feel like we made the right choice - - at least for us. However, for many secular homeschoolers, that isn’t a trade-off they are willing to make. They feel strongly that their homeschooled children need a peer group - - even if it is a peer group of families homeschooling for religious reasons. So, for these parents, I’ve thought long and hard about what I might have done to improve our experience had we not thrown in the towel. The following suggestions are based on that hindsight, and I hope they will at least give you some starting points for exploration if you are in a similar situation.

    1) Be true to yourself
    Growing up as a true southern gal, I can tell you that nothing comes easier than acquiescing for the sake of politeness. I’m pretty sure it’s written in my DNA. But nothing put me in more awkward situations in our support group than when people assumed things about me or my kids that they shouldn’t have...simply because I didn’t have the wherewithal to answer questions directly and truthfully. I think if I could have found the delicate balance between honestly answering questions ...
    Published on 04-15-2015 12:52 AM

    Welcome to our new feature!

    Every couple of weeks we will be showcasing a blog from one of our members. This is our first one and longtime SHS member farrarwiliams ​will start us off!

    Here is how farrarwilliams describes herself:

    I'm a longtime educator. I've taught in public schools, private schools, and, of course, a homeschool, as well as every level from elementary from high school and every subject, even P.E. I live and teach in Washington, DC, where I ferry my twins around town to pursue their various passions and try to sneak in a spelling lesson with them here and there. I direct Shakespeare plays for children and occasionally find a little time to write. My blog, I Capture the Rowhouse, covers children's books and whatever we happen to be doing in our homeschool at the moment.

    Here is a blip from her latest post- The Book Talk:

    If you have a kid who just loves to read everything you throw at them, then you’re lucky. Mushroom and BalletBoy like to read, but they’re not quick readers or book devourers most of the time. Frankly, they’re picky readers.

    I think a lot of parents throw their hands up when it comes to picky readers. Sometimes I feel the same way, but I try to reframe my mind to see it as a challenge, not a problem. Starting a book is hard business, even at age ten. Really, even at age not quite forty, it can be a pain to get over that hump.

    There are several ways to help kids overcome that hump a little easier. One way is to be willing to read the first chapter aloud to kids. Another is that if it’s a new book, it may have a book trailer. However, I wanted to talk about a more old-fashioned, personal method, which is the book talk. Many teachers, reading specialists, and librarians know the book talk, which is an old method that used to be used in schools a lot to try and hook kids’ onto a book.

    You can read the rest of this great post and more on her blog, I Capture the Rowhouse.
    by Published on 04-12-2015 12:34 AM
    Article Preview

    Ok, I have to say for my friends who are in New England area or Canada.... I am truly sorry for the continuous snow they are still receiving.

    I almost HATE to post the weather in the Pacific NW on my Facebook page.
    We have had a mild Winter here.

    Kiddos and I have been able to get out and walk or play outside in sunshine and mid-60 temps for over a month. Not every day mind you but enough that it has become our thing several times a week.
    I even have been able to plot out the garden, done some weeding and work on the chicken pen!

    So, has Springlike weather arrived at your area or are you still buried in snow and ice?
    Is the thaw around the corner or have you broken out your shorts and flip-flops?
    Kids still stuck inside with cabin fever or have you been out homeschooling in the fresh air and sunshine?

    I honestly hope it is thawing and nice where you are!
    Click here to let us know! ...

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