Wednesday, December 29, 2010


It's that time of year when many high school students begin thinking about sending out college applications. One of the things they need on these applications is the score from their SAT test. SAT's can be frightening if you have never taken them before. Many homeschool students have never taken a test before. So it's probably a good thing to practice. You can find some practice tests online. I know there are tutors who specialize in SAT Prep Classes. You can also find many online SAT Courses. These are great ways to prepare for the test and to help get over some of the fear associated with it. Writing classes can be a huge help in this area.

Another way to prepare for the SAT is to play games. There are many SAT Games pages found online that can really help your student prepare. You would be surprised how much learning can happen while playing games.

I think the most important thing we can do to help our students prepare for this important step in their lives is to remind them that we support them no matter how they do on the test. Yes, the test is important for getting in to the college of your choice. But a lower than desired test score is not the end of the world. Let them know that they can take the test over again if they need to. If they don't do well on the test, talk to them about other options. I started out in a community college and then moved on to the university. By doing that I did not need SAT scores on the admission application. I simply submitted my transcripts from two years at the community college level. If your student freezes up during test time this is a great option. It is also a less expensive way to take some of the preliminary classes that most colleges require.

The night before the test, your student should eat a good dinner. Then go to bed early so they can wake up refreshed and ready to work. A good breakfast also helps.

Good luck to your student as they prepare to move on to higher education.

Friday, December 24, 2010

As we come to the end of the year

The last couple of weeks have been so busy. We have had parties to attend and we had a party at our house. There was baking to do and gifts to wrap. Oh, and we were supposed to have school as well. It was hard to find time to do our regular school curriculum so I started looking around to find something else to do. I thought a good place to start would be games to improve vocabulary. I found a great website full of games for this. The great thing is they have games in French, German, Spanish, and Lain. It's fun for him and I have plenty of time to get everything finished that I needed to do. He still plays all the great games at LearningGamesForKids too.

As we come to the end of this year, I have been looking back over the work he is doing. We still struggle a lot with reading. But I find him improving bit by bit. He does really well in math and he loves science. But reading is a struggle. At times I think about looking at special education tools for him. Most of the time I just think I need to wait for him to grow a bit more. I know in Waldorf circles they don't even start to teach reading until the kids are 8 years old. So why should I worry that my 8 year old doesn't read well yet. Like I said, his reading is improving all the time. He got a lo of Captain Underpants books for holiday gifts. Last night he was looking through them. I think they will help a lot with his reading. They are cute and funny and geared to a third grade boy. He spent a lot of time looking at them. And he was laughing at some of the jokes so I know he was reading them.

We're at the halfway mark in most of his subjects. I'm sure we will finish everything by the end of the school year. I'll post an update in a few months to let you know how things are going.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December What A Busy Month

December is such a busy month. It seems like we have been on the go so much this month that I have not had time to even do much of the holiday baking I love to do this time of year. I finally had to cancel a couple of activities this week just to have time to bake. We haven't even had any time to focus on school this week. I love our homeschool curriculum. It is easy to do. Most kids would have no problem working on it by themselves so that mom could be busy taking care of all the holiday preparations. Dakota just can't stay focused enough to follow through and finish a lesson by himself. It takes lots and lots of reminding him to pay attention and focus on his lessons to get any work done. Up until this week he has been doing very well on his third grade work. He is beginning to do a bit of independent writing. Although I usually have to spell a lot of words for him. He loves writing stories. He also likes to print them out so he can show them to other people. I found online writing classes that I may sign him up for in a few more months. It would give him basic writing skills and teach him some grammer and sentence structure.

We are just about halfway through third grade work in most of his classes. That makes me feel pretty good. We won't be struggling to finish on the last day of June this year. The work is a bit harder than second grade work is. Since he still struggles so much with reading, he gets easily frustrated. But we continue to move ahead.

I started out talking about our busy month. I can see that even I become easily distracted right now. There is so much to do. Fortunately the shopping is all done and the gifts are all wrapped. I even got most of the baking done now. We just have to finish frosting the cookies and they will be done. Then we will prepare for a round of parties. Tomorrow we are going to the homeschool holiday party. I will get up early tomorrow to bake something special for that. On Saturday, we will host our annual Yule party. I have the lists all made for that. We are serving mostly hors d'oeuvres so preparation will be fairly easy. On Sunday we have a party at Bob's job for the children. I'm still not sure what we will be taking to that event. Monday is Bob's birthday. We will either be taking him out to eat or I will cook something yummy for that. Then on Tuesday we will be going to a Winter Solstice party at a friend's house. Then we have a few days off. Before we have Christmas Eve at Gov's house and then Christmas Dinner here at home.

Like I said, busy, busy, busy. Well, I'm going to go frost those cookies now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Week and What We Are Learning

Kids love animals. I don't know a child anywhere who doesn't love animals. How about you? Have you ever met a child who does not love animals? Who knew that you could learn so much with animals. While surfing the web this week I cam across a great website for games to learn about animals Well, okay, they're not animals but amphibians. But they're still cute little critters. Anyway, this site has videos to learn about amphibians. And they have games to learn using amphibians. How about learning to spell while helping the little mouse get away from the cat. There are also word scrambles. I don't do so well on them. But I love the word search games. I love playing all the cute games on this site. Yes, I know they are kids games but I still love them. We've been using these games a lot this week. They certainly give a breather from working on other learning skills.

With all the excitement about the holidays it's hard to get Dakota to focus on learning. He would much rather be looking online for the next thing on his holiday wish list or watching the next holiday special on tv. It seems they are on every night now. A while back he started asking me about the Norse Gods and Goddesses. So I bought him a few books about the Norse and Greek Gods and Goddesses. I wasn't sure how much he was understanding about what I was reading. It can be a difficult subject to understand. But when I asked him questions about what he were reading he seemed to understand it. In fact, his reading comprehension was usually better than mine.

We have also been working a bit on multiplication again this week. So far he has been doing okay with 1's, 5's, 10's, and 11's. He still doesn't really care about multiplication, but he's willing to work on it a bit.

We're trying to get the house ready for our annual party next weekend. But so far that is going very slowly. I don't know why I scheduled so many activities for us this week. Oh well, it will slow down in a couple of weeks, right?

So that's what we've been doing this week. How about you? Are you doing anything exciting this week?

Friday, December 3, 2010

New To Homeschooling

This seems to be the time of year that people decide to pull their children out of school. Have you noticed that? Some people decide not to put their kids in school in September. But another group decide to not send their children back to school after the holiday break. So I thought that I would write a bit this week about being new to homeschooling. When we first make that decision to pull our children, I think the first thing we feel is a great sense of relief. It's over. The decision is made. Then we start thinking, "Oh, No, What have I gotten myself into?" It can be a very scary place to be. But it will be okay. The first thing you need to do is relax. Take a few deep breathes. Now go turn on your computer and do a yahoo search for homeschool in your state. I'm sure you will find several links to groups in your area. Read about each group and join all of the ones that sound like they would be a good fit for you. Once you have a joined a few local groups, start attending events in your area. Then check out the museums, art centers, historical places and environmental centers in your area. Ask if they have homeschool classes. Start signing up for some fun ones. You will want to take some time to deschool so only attend fun events for the first little while. Park days, bowling, game nights. These are all fun ways for you and your children to meet other homeschool families. After a while, you will want to start taking classes that have some educational value to them.

The next thing you want to do is make sure your library card is valid. Get a card for each of your children. Introduce yourself to the children's librarian at your local library. Let her know that you will be homeschooling. She will become your best friend very quickly.

Look at the ways your children like to learn. Do they like computer games? Or do they like reading books more? Maybe they would rather be actually doing things instead of learning them out of books. This is how you can narrow down your choices of curriculum. Also look at what works best for you. Do you want to spend the time researching everything and teaching like a school teacher standing in front of the classroom? Or do you want a curriculum that is all spelled out for you?

We love the curriculum that we have chosen. Time4Learning is all laid out for me. All I have to do is turn on the computer, log in, and let him start working. Some kids would be able to sit down and do their work by themselves. Unfortunately, my son has the world's shortest attention span. So I have to sit with him to keep him focused on his work. But the cartoon like characters keep his attention pretty well. I've also heard that they are having a get acquainted sale, only $4.99 for the first month. If you try it and don't like it, you just quit. No contracts, nothing.

If you're one of those who have just decided to pull your children out of school, welcome to the wonderful world of homeschooling.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Haircut

My son has, no had very long hair. He has often said "I'm not never gonna cut it ever. Not as long as I live." But any of you who have long hair know that it can be very hard to brush and even harder to wash. Being a little boy who is allergic to water, this is a real problem. Every time he has to take a bath it is a struggle of an hour or more to get him into the bathtub. Then, being who he is, it takes another hour or two to get him out of the tub again.

The other night after a particularly long battle to get in the bathtub I decided to have a talk with him. I reminded him how much he hates to take a bath and wash his hair. I also reminded him how much he hates getting his hair brushed every day. Then I reminded him of last winter when I didn't have any hair. I told him how my head would get so cold I couldn't stand it. Then I talked to him about his friend who is recovering from cancer and doesn't have much hair. I asked him if he thought his friend would like to have hair. Finally he said that he wanted to give his hair to some little boy or girl who didn't have any hair at all. He said it could be his Christmas present to them. I told him it was a great idea. We made plans to go out the following Monday and get his hair cut.

Over the weekend he kept thinking about it. One minute he was not sure he wanted to do it. The next minute he said he was sure he wanted to cut it. "It will just grow back anyway." Monday came and we headed off to Super Cuts. The lady struggled to cut off his braid. She had to go at it in little bits and pieces. She finally got the whole braid cut off. Then she went on to trim up the rest of his hair. When we got home I measured the braid. It was 14 inches long.

Yesterday we wrapped up his braid and sent it off to Locks of Love. There it will be made into a beautiful wig for a child who has not hair. From what I have read, it takes 8 to 10 braids to make one hairpiece for a child.

My new son.