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Making the Most of Your Library's Summer Reading Program!

April 24, 2016

Making the most of your library’s summer reading program.

Each summer your library promotes reading with their program that offers up little prizes and even county fair ride tickets or a free treat at Dairy Queen for those who participate actively. Keep your child reading over the summer- it’s a great program. But you can make it even more worthwhile from a homeschooling perspective if you add one simple caveat. Your child needs to read books from a list you’ve prepared.

This allows you to stack the deck. You can use this opportunity to encourage your child into a new genre of reading material, or simply encourage a wider exposure to topics you’d like them to explore.

Consider these titles and authors when putting together your list (also keep in mind your child’s reading level, maturity and age):

Dear America Series (historical fiction- female lead characters)

My Name is America series (historical fiction-male lead characters)

My America (historical fiction for early readers)

Little House series

The musical life of Gustav Mole

Childhood of Famous Americans (series)

Me on the Map

Max Axiom series

How Much is a Million

 Counting on Frank

Even Steven and Odd Todd



The Magic...


Tags: home school, homeschool, homeschooling, reading program, summer

Posted at: 04:38 PM | Permalink

New Year's Resolutions, homeschool style!

December 27, 2015

By Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

New year’s resolutions come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s an idea for homeschoolers. Resolve to try something new each month for a year. A new food, a new hobby, a new activity, a new game, a new experience. It doesn’t have to be all laid out on January first. But before each month wraps up, you must have tried something new. As a family, or challenge each family member individually. Whatever works for you.

We all too easily fall into patterns and habits. These form blinders that keep us locked into the same old routine. By making a resolution to try new things, you will start to intentionally seek out new experiences and broaden your world.  Write the message on your fridge, or on your bathroom mirror – wherever you will see it often. “TRY NEW THINGS”. You could even keep a journal of just entries about your new experiences each month. You’ll have amazing things to talk about in next year’s Christmas letter!

Here are some ideas to get you thinking: Snowshoeing at a state park, kayaking, a cooking class, a book club at your library, take up knitting, try a pottery...


Tags: alternative learning strategies, curriculum, educational approaches, home education, home school, homeschool

Posted at: 01:21 PM | Permalink

When it's not working

December 18, 2015

As much as you might want to homeschool, life and families can be complicated and you might need other options. Knowing your options means you can make the best choice for your family within the current circumstances.  When circumstances change, you can always make another choice. There are no absolutes when it comes to education.

Sometimes you just need some time for things like a pregnancy with complications, a grandpa’s heart surgery and recovery, or for medical treatment for someone in the family unit. It’s ok to take a few months off and adjust your calendar planning to make up for it during the summer. Or you can make use of videos and documentaries to cover material while you need to be occupied with other family matters.

Consider the full range of educational options and choose what’s best for you and your family:

Homeschooling usually means instruction is primarily done by a parent, but you can also shift to attending a co-op that meets once or twice a week with follow-up work done at home, if having that structure would help. You can also enlist a tutor or college student to assist with homeschool work. Some homeschool in a very...


Tags: alternative learning strategies, curriculum, educational approaches, home education, home school, homeschool

Posted at: 07:08 AM | Permalink

Making the most of field trips

December 12, 2015


Check out the website ahead of time so you have some idea what you’ll see at your destination and to pin down the hours the site is open. Do this far enough in advance that you can do a little preparatory learning with the kids, if that’s warranted. Some places offer guided tours, so evaluate if that would be beneficial (and a good fit with your kids ages and interest level) and plan accordingly.  

Check to see if tickets or passes are offered at a reduced rate if purchased in advance. Is there a homeschool discount? If you live in Mn, children’s admission will be deductible on your state income taxes under the education subtraction, so you’ll want to get a receipt for admission that itemizes each admission rate (if the receipt doesn’t itemize each admission, grab a flyer that lists the admission rates for kids and adults and attach it to your receipt for record keeping) and be sure to get a receipt for any parking fees, too. Some locations offer little classes on certain days. If that’s something that would be of interest to your family, schedule accordingly. If there’s no homeschool discount, but there IS...


Tags: alternative learning strategies, curriculum, educational approaches, home education, home school, homeschool

Posted at: 09:13 AM | Permalink

Public speaking ideas

December 6, 2015

You're homeschooling, and don't have access to an audience everyday, but you can still develop public speaking skills. It can be as simple as having your child prepare a presentation (visual aids and a little talk) to summarize what has been learned on each topic as you wrap up. Practice a couple times and then share with grandma and grandpa, neighbors or other friends/family who are supportive of your homeschooling process.

Or when you study the weather, have each child pretend to be the weatherman and give a "weather wrap up" at the end of the day or a forecast in the morning just to the family members on hand. A white board with a drawn map of your area is sufficient for these family weather reports. 

Trying to decide what the family will do on a given weekend? Let the kids try a sales pitch for their chosen activity. Or at the end of the weekend, have your little newscaster do a report on the events that filled your time. 

You can also creat opportunities for these small presentations by making videos-- a critique of a new toy or video game, a food prep video for how to make...


Tags: alternative learning strategies, curriculum, educational approaches, home education, home school, homeschool

Posted at: 08:06 AM | Permalink

Grammar... it can be fun!

November 13, 2015

One of the biggest surprises to me as I homeschooled my sons was that grammar could be fun. I had hated grammar growing up, so I knew this would be a tremendous challenge for me to teach. When I decided to Homeschool I also decided that I would try to find an interesting way to address each topic. I might not be able to make each subject truly FUN, but I was determined to keep it interesting. With grammar, a fun approach fell into my lap in the form of madlibs. These goofy fill-in-the-blank stories soon had the boys rolling on the couch laughing at their choices of adjective, adverb or interjection. They learned about these parts of speech as they snorted and howled.

With boys at just the right age for bathroom humor, their favorite verb was “toot”. And they quickly mastered verb tenses - “tooted” and “toots”. “Drools” was another go-to verb. Favorite adjectives included: sticky, slimy, gooey, and smelly. Favorite adverbs: desperately, tearfully and famously. Favorite nouns: barf (which also joined the verb list), underwear, toilet, diaper and armpit. I pass along these time tested favorites, because if you, their parent, actually conjure up one of these...


Tags: alternative learning strategies, curriculum, educational approaches, home education, home school, homeschool

Posted at: 05:40 PM | Permalink

Testing options for 8th grade and older

November 9, 2015

Whether you have tested with me using the PEABODY or have done a more traditional pencil test in the grade school years, you have additional options once your child reaches 8th grade. If your child performs well on tests (scoring above grade level) it makes sense to start steering things in the direction of the college entrance tests. It’s certainly a better use of your time and testing dollars.

8th and 9th graders can take the ASPIRE test. It’s the newest incarnation of the EXPLORE and PLAN tests- which were the previous options for this age group. These are precursors of the ACT college entrance test. The ACT can be taken by 10th graders for practice and is generally given to Juniors and Seniors.

If your school district balks at these testing options to fulfill your homeschool testing requirement (as is required in MN), direct them to the Act website where they can confirm that the ACT family of tests are, indeed, academic achievements tests. The SAT family of tests are NOT. This is a key difference between the sets of tests. The SAT is a “college aptitude test”.  Obviously, the ACT is standardized (given to...


Tags: alternative learning strategies, college transition, curriculum, educational approaches, home education, home school, homeschool

Posted at: 02:35 PM | Permalink

Homeschooling Strategies for the Working Parent

October 30, 2015

Can I work and homeschool my kids? It’s a frequent question. Some parents are wondering if they can remove their children from traditional school to homeschool and still keep working. For other families, one parent has been at home doing most of the homeschooling, but now finances have changed and part-time or fulltime work is needed to keep things afloat. Each scenario has different factors to consider, so I shall do my best with both.

First, continuing to work away from home and pulling kids out of school:

Obviously, if your children are young you’ll need to arrange some kind of daycare or supervision for them while both parents are away. Once you have that worked out, you can certainly take care of the educational part of your day when you’re at home, regardless of what time of day that might be. You can homeschool in the evenings no differently than homeschooling in the mornings or afternoons. To keep the costs of childcare to a minimum, you might consider working a different shift than the other parent. Shift switching is an option if you work in a medical setting, factory or light industrial field or retail. You might still...


Tags: alternative learning strategies, curriculum, educational approaches, home education, home school, homeschool, work and homeschooling, working parents

Posted at: 03:11 PM | Permalink

Phy-ed options and ideas

October 23, 2015

By Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

The goal of physical education is to teach kids about exercise and activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s also about exposing them to a variety of activities and games that might lead to hobbies or just fun with friends and family. And it’s about trying new things. With this in mind you might want to make a list of the things you want to cover with your children over their years with phy-ed. Your list might include: soccer, baseball, kayaking, rock climbing, fencing, ballroom dancing, horseback riding, hiking, swimming, sailing, archery, martial arts, tennis, badminton (which doesn’t get the respect it deserves despite being an Olympic sport), table tennis and gymnastics. During an Olympic year, you might try various Olympic events, and be sure to try the seasonal activities as you have the opportunity as well (sledding, skiing, skating, golf, biking, waterskiing, etc). Whatever activities are important to your family and your interests are fine. There’s no required list or comprehensive list to work from, so just build your own. Personally, I made swimming lessons non-negotiable. I wanted my sons to be safe around water and have a respect for the risks...


Tags: alternative learning strategies, curriculum, educational approaches, home education, home school, homeschool

Posted at: 12:07 PM | Permalink

Life Skills for Teens

October 16, 2015

If you have teens (and if you don’t yet, you soon will – it seems to happen overnight), you will want to be sure to include life skills in their learning line up. Some of this used to be called Home Ec or Shop class, but those never seemed to really cover the skills in a real life way.

Cooking- how to follow a recipe, not just directions on a box, and the lingo that goes with it. The Cooking shows on TV help with learning the difference between chopped, grated or minced. It’s a good idea to also point out how to know if fruits or veggies are ripe or damaged. The first section of the Betty Crocker cookbook covers a lot of basic food prep skills and is a nice starting point. Also talk about how to know if food has gone bad. WHat needs refrigeration and what can be safely stored on a shelf in the pantry, and for how long. The life you save could be your own, if your child one day invites you to dinner at their place. Community Ed programs often have cooking classes, and they can be a fun way to pick up...


Tags: alternative learning strategies, college transition, curriculum, educational approaches, home education, home school, homeschool

Posted at: 05:26 PM | Permalink

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