Thursday, March 31, 2011

How often have you heard the statement that all homeschoolers are fundamentalist Christians? This statement overlooks the vast numbers of people who homeschool for so many different reasons. I personally know Muslim homeschoolers and Jewish homeschoolers and even pagan homeschoolers. Even though there are many many homeschoolers who are not Christian it still becomes difficult to find a secular curriculum. Even though you may find a curriculum that does not focus on the Bible, it will still probably include such holidays as Easter and Christmas. I have not found a curriculum anywhere that includes a discussion of Hanukkah or Ramadan. Or something like the Summer Solstice or Yule. I would love to find a good well rounded curriculum that includes a discussion of these holidays and religious traditions as well as the Christian ones we all have learned about. We are going to check out Chester Comix as a start for secular US history.

There are so many great books out there. Chester Comix is just one of the many I have come across. Sometimes it's difficult to tell from the brief description on Amazon or even a longer description in a blog article. I know more than once I have bought a great sounding book only to find when it arrived that it was full of religious content that I did not want to read to my son. Fortunately now there are a number of blogs out there that do homeschool book reviews. A great one is There are many others that you can find online as well.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


We visited the Montclair Art Museum this week. A few years ago when we first started going to the museum Dakota hated it. As we left the museum he turned to me and said, :That place was sooooooooooooooo verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring. He never wanted to go again. But we kept going every month. Now, nearly four years later, he gets so excited when I tell him that it is homeschool day at the art museum. He loves going to see what Ms. Peggy is going to talk about. And he loves painting. Today we went to the Beczak Environmental Center where he was able to paint again. Today, they studied mammals that live in the Hudson River. They made beaver masks as part of the class. I think this is one of his favorite things to do now. He still does not like to color, but he loves painting. Now we are looking for other sources of homeschool art education. Fortunately, now that he is doing fourth grade language arts, they have added art education to his curriculum. I can't wait to get started on this great program to see how he likes it. He says he wants to be an astronaut who paints like Alan Bean.

One of the things that Dakota likes to do is to draw a picture and then write a story about the picture. I found a notebook that has a blank top half of the page and lines on the bottom half. This allows him to draw and write all on the same paper. He gets great practice with homeschool writing this way.

We've had a great time this week, painting and writing. Hope you've had a great week as well.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Challenging The Gifted Homeschooler

Do you have a gifted student at your house? Do you find it challenging to stimulate them? Often when you are dealing with a gifted student it becomes a challenge to provide enough material to keep them interested in the work. If they are bored with the work they often will not do it. This leads to more boredom for the student and increased frustration for the parent who is trying to keep them interested. I know when I was in school this was the case. Instead of finding ways to challenge my mind, the teacher was forced to teach to the level of the slowest student in the class. The result of this was that I ended up flunking out of high school. How can a gifted student flunk out you ask? If their mind is not stimulated, they just don't do the work any more. It's not a matter of not understanding the work. It's simply a matter of no longer caring about the work at all.

Frequently a student is gifted in one area and challenged in another. My son can design, build, and fly a rocket with no problem. He understands aerodynamics and engineering of the process. He also applies these engineering principals to lego building. But this same child struggles with reading. One of the advantages of homeschooling a gifted child is that you can create a curriculum that suits their needs. My son is currently working on a third grade level for most of his work. But he is still on first grade language arts extensions to help him build those beginning reading skills. This makes it so easy to homeschool gifted children.

Another way to help a gifted child is to encourage writing. Whether they are writing a book, a story, a sentence, or paragraph writing, writing gives the student the ability to go wherever their mind takes them. Encouraging your child to keep a journal is one way to help them develop the habit of writing. I found a notebook that has a blank top half of the page and lines on the bottom half and the back of the page. My son loves to draw a picture on the top half and then write about his picture on the bottom half.

So what ways do you encourage your gifted homeschool child? Do you have an special techniques to share with us.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our Progress This Year

I can't believe how fast this school year has gone. Last year we were struggling to finish our work by the end of June. This year he is almost finished with third grade language already. He will probably finish it by the end of next week or early the week after next. This week we are learning more about compound words and short vowel lessons. It is really helping him with his reading skills when he can break the word in to two parts before he reads it.

I wish I could say the same for his other subjects, especially science. We are still working on the first chapter in science. I HATE science. I will use any excuse to avoid it. I will even do science projects at home rather than work on the science curriculum. This is totally my issue, not Dakota's. He can't understand why anyone would not like science. We did a class through SuperchargedScience the other day about rockets. Dakota really liked that class.

Math is going okay. He is still struggling a bit with multiplication. He is doing okay with our curriculum as long as he uses a 100's chart. But without that, he's pretty lost. I got a Kuman workbook to help him build up his skills in multiplication. He is doing very well in the rest of his math work.

We are working on first grade Language Arts Extensions to help Dakota with his reading skills. He will probably finish this in a week or two as well. We will then move on to second grade language arts extensions. I' not going to move on to fourth grade language because I want to spend more time on the extensions.

Dakota loves social studies. He's pretty much on target for that subject. He will probably finish it mid-May.

We are still taking monthly classes at the Art Museum. We also go to an Environmental Center every month.

So that's how our school year is progressing. What's up with you and your studies?