• Secular Homeschooling

    by Published on 07-27-2015 06:32 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. Homeschooling Styles,
    4. General Homeschooling
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    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!)
    Instructions:
    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 07-20-2015 10:54 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. Homeschooling Styles,
    4. General Homeschooling
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    To interact with the original thread on the From Soup to Nuts forum, click here.

    Whenever I mention that I homeschooled my kids all the way through high school, I get looks of disbelief. The most common response is, "I could never do that. I have a hard enough time helping them with their homework. We'd kill each other!" From other homeschoolers I hear, "By the time we hit middle school, I knew I couldn't teach all those subjects, so we sent them to school."

    My response is always, "It's not that hard! It's not bringing the classroom into your home, it's following your child's lead and staying out of the way." Then I get blank stares like I'm speaking a another language. They nod politely and move along.

    I hope I can demystify this type of homeschooling for you and show you just how easy and effective it really is.

    What unschooling?

    John Holt is the go-to man on this topic. He defined it as "not school." We need to erase the school model from our brains and think clearly about how children learn.

    From Holt's book How Children Learn:

    "This is also known as interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic, or self-directed learning. Lately, the term "unschooling" has come to be associated with the type of homeschooling that doesn't use a fixed curriculum. When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. The advantage of this method is that it doesn't require you, the parent, to become someone else—a professional teacher pouring knowledge into child-vessels on a planned basis. Instead you live and learn together, pursuing questions and interests as they arise and using conventional schooling on an "on demand" basis, if at all. This is the way we learn before going to school and the way we ...
    by Published on 07-13-2015 12:38 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. General Homeschooling
    july-13-jpg

    Hello! My name is Drew, I am excited to be here this week to answer your questions and to talk about homeschooling from my perspective. This coming school year I have decided to give public high school a try. I like experiencing something new and not looking back wishing I had a chance to try it. I am excited about this new adventure. I love art, anime and have been learning Japanese. I plan on attending college for graphic design once I graduate high school. Here are some of my thoughts on homeschooling.

    Parents Just Want the Best

    I understand many parents worry for the well being of their children, wanting them to have the best education and being able to have the best experience. Homeschooling allows that to happen.

    The S Word

    That dreaded socializing question! “Well how can your child make friends if they are not in that public environment?” I have friends! A few of my friends are homeschooled themselves and they seem to be ...
    by Published on 07-06-2015 04:49 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. General Homeschooling
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    With all the reading programs available, you would think that there needed to be a different one for each student. Just like shampoo, pharmaceuticals, and paper plates, they all claim to be effective.

    Research from the last 20 years has shed light on vital elements to look for in an effective reading program. The methods used in this research can appropriately be called neuro-developmental, because they not only incorporate knowledge of how the brain acquires skill in general, but how language skill is acquired specifically. Here’s what you should look for (and what you should reasonably expect) when trying to make a decision:
    1)Look for programs that begin with pre-phonetic, spoken language skills: Research shows that reading difficulties most likely result from spoken-language skill deficits, which need to be remedied at the spoken-language level. Look for programs that will improve awareness of what the child sees, feels, and hears when making speech sounds, and integrate those features efficiently in the brain. Programs should also emphasize phonological processing skills (the ability to identify, order, and manipulate all 44 English language sounds), but be wary. Many programs have activities that may use phonological awareness (rhyming activities, identify the first sound activities). However, that’s not the same thing as building processing skills. Also, make sure the program strengthens these skills before emphasizing letter/sound association and phonics! Research also shows ...
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