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    by Published on 08-01-2015 07:40 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Site News

    Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Yes, August is here, and what better way to celebrate those last lazy hazy days of summer than with a BLOCK PARTY!!!

    So, this Tuesday, August 4, from 1-4pm, SecularHomeschool.com is hosting our first ever "Block Party" here on-site. Our home page will be our base of operations for webinars and videos, a live chat stream, door prizes, and more. All around the theme of ORGANIZATION.

    We'd all like to get a little more organized, wouldn't we??? In preparation for the Block Party, I'd like to invite everyone to share a pic of your MOST organized homeschool area on Instagram. Maybe it's your official homeschool room. Maybe it's a map area you've created in your kids' bedroom. Maybe it's your lesson planner. Maybe it's a screenshot of your curriculum list for the 2015/2016 homeschool year. WHATEVER it is, we want to highlight your organizational pics during the lead up to our Block Party.

    Inspire your fellow SHS'ers by sharing those on Instagram with the hashtag #letsgohomeschool, and we'll feature them here on our home page all this coming week!
    by Published on 07-27-2015 05:32 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. Homeschooling Styles,
    4. General Homeschooling
    Article Preview

    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
    Article Preview

    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 08-01-2015 11:52 AM
    Article Preview

    And because it is that time of year, 56% of you said that you were starting the school year SOON in last week's poll... I decided to play off that and ask you another school year question! Plus it has been all over this forum and any homeschool board or group I belong to....

    Homeschool planners!
    Do you use one? Do you love it? Do you hate them? Want to start using them but not sure how?!

    I tried. I honestly did. I loved as a kid the neat teacher lesson plan book my Mom would get every Summer to plan our her school year(she was a school teacher for 37 years but fully supports our homeschooling choice!). It was always pretty and color-coded and filled with her neat handwriting and her whole main year laid out by the end of August.

    We started homeschooling and I ran right out and bought one and BOOM! We didn't do enough stuff outside the home, we used an online program that laid it out for us and it didn't look like the planner in my dreams. *sigh

    Every year I try.

    This year, there is only 1 child homeschooling. He will be a Senior. I will do my usual. I will make a little chart that states how many of each subject he is to do, laminate it and post it at his desk. Call it good.

    But, I am attempting to try and use our Secular Homeschool Activity Planner! I want to see how it works for us. And while it may not be needed for homeschool, my childcare preschool could CERTAINLY use an organizational boost!

    So, do you use a Homeschool Planner? Love it? Hate it? Tell us in the comments!
    Click here to tell us! ...

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