In our family, changing the lyrics to “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands” is essential to the song. We substitute words like silly, grumpy, snotty, and even verklempt for “happy.” Making up appropriate accompanying motions, well, that’s the fun part. Continue reading »
Before notebooking, our school days were chocked full of a variety of learning activities and curriculums, but the learning was so dry and dull. By the end of the day, and I mean the-END-of-the-day, the kids were wiped out and so was I. Do you have days like these? Notebooking will refresh and rejuvenate your homeschooling. It opens the door for meaningful learning while saving you time, money, and those precious hours you currently spend (if you’re like most homeschooling moms) trying to tweak everything that you currently do to make your day better. Continue reading »
Back in 1964, sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke introduced a program on future predictions by stating: The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So, if what I say to you now seems to be very reasonable then I’ll have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen. Among other developments, Clarke predicted the emergence of the Internet, telecommuting, and remote surgery. Fantastic. Just like the predictions kids gave when I asked them about the future at a multi-age homeschool program. The youngest ones jumped in eagerly… Continue reading »
Challenge your 4th-8th graders to write 100-word stories! Not only will this activity appeal to more reluctant writers, it helps drive home the importance of writing descriptive, concise sentences. Continue reading »
Spring has sprung… along with a serious bout of spring fever! How can you help your children stay on task while allowing them to revel in the joy of an April morning? For a welcome break, why not take writing outdoors now and then as the weather beckons?
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Writing a composition doesn’t necessarily mean starting from scratch. As your children practice writing different kinds of paragraphs, stories, articles, and short reports, you can help them expand their skills by tweaking a piece of writing they completed in the past. What a great way to get more mileage out of a writing assignment! Let me share six tips for taking a former piece of writing to a whole new level. Continue reading »
Pre-writing activities disguised as games make it so much more fun to learn and practice skills. Depending on the activity, you can teach or reinforce spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and writing. One of my family’s new favorites, Speed Scrabble (also known as Boardless Scrabble), would be a terrific way to address both spelling and vocabulary. Continue reading »
Words, words, words! A variety of research, such as that by the University of Kansas, has demonstrated that the number of words children know dramatically impacts their success in other academic areas. While reading to children is one of the best ways to help them gain a strong vocabulary, at some point it is helpful to study vocabulary words in an intentional way. For older children this is often incorporated as part of English or Reading curricula, but for young children, such as those who have just learned to read, what options are there for learning vocabulary? Continue reading »
Because writing is a process of discovery, it’s doubtful that your student’s first draft will be his best work. Mind you, he will beg to differ. Why, he already likes it the way it is! But whether or not he agrees that his composition should be edited, the truth is that every paper benefits from a second opinion. No matter how many times your child reads and re-reads his own writing, it’s easy for him to miss typos, grammar goofs, or awkward sentences. He knows what he meant to say, so that’s what he sees. Continue reading »
As homeschool parents often discover, there is no one right way for a child to learn to write. We often try various methods, curricula, tools, and motivations. What might work beautifully for one child may, for another, bring tears—our child’s and our own! Continue reading »
As holiday decorations come out and the tree or menorah take center stage, children can become increasingly distracted, sidetracked, and fidgety in anticipation of upcoming seasonal celebrations.
Homeschooling doesn’t need to fall by the wayside during December! The holidays can be a great time to assign writing activities that focus on the festivities, allowing children to immerse themselves in the fun while encouraging productivity. This month, have your kids write a paragraph describing a holiday-themed process where they explain, in a step-by-step manner, how something is done. Continue reading »
Author Aldous Huxley wrote, “Everyone who knows how to read has it in their power to magnify themselves, to multiply the ways in which they exist, to make their life full, significant, and interesting.” Although most homeschoolers have an awareness of the importance of reading for children, it is always helpful to review the evidence that backs up our feelings. With the cooler weather coming, fall is the perfect time to take a fresh look at why reading is such a critical factor for children’s success, as well as get reinvigorated toward making reading one of the foundations of the homeschool curriculum (and part of everyday family life).
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Cooler weather outside gives homeschoolers just one more reason to focus on reading! Although reading aloud is an excellent family activity for children of all ages, including those who have long been reading on their own, it is particularly important for children in elementary school. During this critical time period, parents have the opportunity to truly instill a love for reading that has the potential to influence the child’s academic development throughout his or her school years. Continue reading »
Okay, so your child loves to watch television, play video games, surf on the Internet, and listen to music. And there’s nothing wrong with those activities, as long as they’re used in moderation. Most parents would also love to see their kids participate in more constructive activities — like reading children’s books — but the trick is to get your little ones to actually sit down and crack open a book a few times per week. Continue reading »
Just as a LEGOS™ vehicle can’t take shape without the intentional efforts of a builder, your child cannot learn to write without intentional effort from you. At conferences and conventions, we often hear parents ask, “How much time does this writing program require of ME?” We’re a busy bunch, so believe me when I tell you I understand what it’s like to homeschool while trying to juggle laundry, meal preparation, ministry obligations, and a social calendar. But I also learned during my 15 years of homeschooling that certain subjects just don’t teach themselves, and writing is one of them. Continue reading »
Lesson 3 [of the WriteShop curriculum] presents a unique set of problems for students. They must describe a person in detail and place the subject in a setting; yet they must not end up writing a narrative, or story. Even with WriteShop’s careful guidelines and instructions, many still end up focusing on the activity and Continue reading »
The great thing about following your child’s interests is that they are infinitely more interesting than anything you could dream up on your own. I’m not exactly the spontaneous type. I like my ducks in a row (a really, really straight row). The only thing I like better than making a list is crossing things off that list. But what I’ve found is that if I rein in my compulsiveness a bit, my children lead me to heights my list would never permit me to go. That’s how our love affair with “The Phantom of the Opera” began. Continue reading »
Many people who struggle with reading have low self-esteem and feel stupid. They may have been called “stupid” or “lazy”. All research has been conclusive in proving that difficulty with reading has nothing to do with intelligence. If you know someone who feels this way, them know that their reading struggles have nothing to do Continue reading »
Reading the words from left to right can be a difficult task for struggling readers. Often the words appear to move around or the space between words us unclear. It helps to use a finger or a card underneath the words to help your eyes “track” and focus on each word and letter you are Continue reading »
Have you ever had to read a book on a topic that you didn’t care about? We all have. (Think back to those dry history books filled with a series of dates, or overly technical science tomes.) And sometimes that is part of life – at times we have to read, even if we aren’t Continue reading »