Homeschool Blessings

"For many the homeschool year is starting to wind down..."

For many the homeschool year is starting to wind down. Some of you may be done already and others are counting the days until the summer break begins. Whether this is the case for you or you plan to school through the summer, taking some time to reflect on your homeschool is always worthwhile. Recently, I had the great privilege of speaking with 3 families who are considering home education for their families. As I began to plan for that "kitchen meeting" I thought about some of the blessings of home schooling.  The more I thought the longer the list became. Here are five of the many, many that came to mind.

"Homeschooling gave me the opportunity to spend time with my children when they were at their best..."

1. I got to spend lot of time with my children. When our oldest went to school he often came home tired and frustrated after a long day and a long bus ride. I never felt I got him at his best. Homeschooling gave me the opportunity to spend time with my children when they were at their best. Of course since we were home all the time we also had those "other" times as well, but by and large it was so nice to be together and have both quantity and quality time.

Quality Family Time
 "Once school was over we were done for the day..."

2. We never did homework at night. I remember taking my children to community swimming lessons and hearing all the other moms talking about all the time they had to spend doing homework with their children in the evening. This blessing had never even crossed my mind until then. Once school was over we were done for the day. The only exception to this was on the rare occasion when someone had not been cooperative during the school day.  As a result they might get the opportunity to finish school with Dad after supper. That was generally an experience that you didn't want to repeat. Hence it was a real rarity.

3. Our struggling learners could do school at their level without ridicule or pressure from others. We had a good crop of struggling learners in our family. What a tremendous blessing to be able to teach them where they were at. They didn't have to leave the room and go to "resource" and get help. Most of the time they never knew how far behind they were. We just worked away at programs specifically tailored for them and their needs. There was no pressure to be in any particular grade at any particular time.

"...homeschool parents have the freedom to teach what they feel is appropriate for their children and their family philosophy."

4. As parents we controlled the content of what our children were being taught. In this day and age where certain agendas and curriculum are being pushed, homeschool parents have the freedom to teach what they feel is appropriate for their children and their family philosophy. This is as it should be.

share the truly important things
"...take the time to share the truly important things..."

5. Last but certainly not least, we could take the time to share the truly important things with our children. Christian principles were a part of every subject we taught. Whether we shared about the order of God's world in math, the wonders of creation in science, or "His Story" of the world through history our faith and beliefs could be a natural part of every lesson

This list could go on and on. In the future I may share some of the other blessings that came to my mind. What about you? What are the blessings that come to your mind as you consider your family and  homeschooling? Feel free to share with others in the comment section below. Sometimes just seeing something that someone else has thought of will bring blessings to mind for you.

God bless you as you homeschool.

"Unless the Lord Builds the house they labour in vain to build it"


Things to Remember if You Start to Homeschool Mid-Year

Recently I have spoken with a number of parents who find themselves starting to homeschool now. In most cases this was not the plan but circumstances have made it necessary to make a change in their child’s education. Often parents feel overwhelmed and frantic as they try and put together a plan. Here are a few quick tips if you find yourself in this position or if you are coming alongside a friend who needs help and encouragement.

Often parents who find themselves home educating suddenly, are doing so because of a crisis. This could be a bullying situation that could not be resolved, health issues of a child, or a myriad of other reasons. Regardless, making a change mid-year can be stressful. The first thing to remember is that this does not need to be sorted out in a day. You can take some time to figure out what you will do for teaching resources and an educational plan. If you have brought a child home as a result of a crisis the most important thing is to give them some down-time. Lots of reading together and some relaxing can go a long way to making your future homeschooling successful.

Since you are beginning to school mid-year it can be hard to know where to place a child. Should you move forward to the next grade or should you purchase the current grade level? Often parents may not even be sure at what grade level their child is really functioning. Compound this with the fact that many homeschooling programs are more advanced than those of public school and parents have a real conundrum.  Placement tests can be a real help in this situation. While not available for every program they are certainly available for many math programs. It is important to place a student correctly so that work is neither too easy or too hard. We have many of these posted on The Learning House website.  If a placement test is not available, looking at the Table of Contents for various programs can help you place a student based on the information you know they have mastered.

As we have said before, math and language arts are the core. Work to figure those subject areas out first. Then you can look after science, history and any other subjects you would like to add to your program. As you choose your materials you will most likely be purchasing a program that is for a full year of school. Keep in mind that it may not be possible to complete this by the end of June. That is just fine. It can simply carry over into the next year. Many tell me that they will just push through and do it over the summer. Personally, I feel that working through the summer is highly over-rated.  Some summer work is fine, but creating pressure to try and double up and do 10 month’s work in 4-5 will just create stress and rob everyone of their joy. 

Remember that homeschooling can be a wonderful adventure. However, adventures don’t happen all at once. They take place over time. Homeschooling is a process. It may take some time to adjust and get your rhythm.  That’s okay. Take the time you need to meet your children’s emotional needs as well as their academic needs. Given time, serious thought, and lots of prayer you will come up with a plan that fits your unique family.

Feel free to share your thoughts, experience, and comments below!

"Unless the Lord Builds the house they labour in vain to build it"


Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner in the High School Years.

Recently,  we had the privilege and joy of presenting our "Help for Homeschooling High School Seminar".  We met so many wonderful people and presented a number of sessions about how to navigate through the deep waters of home educating in the teen years.  As I reflected on our day and the material we covered I got to thinking that perhaps we had not offered enough direction for those homeschooling less academic students.  Indeed, I did have some feedback with some questions about this that sparked my thinking.  So here are some thoughts on making high school work when you have someone for whom academic learning may not come easy.

1. Focus on the main subject areas.  This would include math, science, and english. Work at the level that the student is performing at.  Do not try and jump into programs that are too deep and heavy.

2. Keep things as practical as possible.  Try and find a practical use for the skills that you are working on.  For example if you are working on english skills, then have your student write about things that would be of interest to them or possibly about things they would need to know about in the future.

3. Look at the requirements that are generally required for high school.  If you need to modify courses to make them more achievable, then do so.  As long as the student does not need to have a certain level of study to proceed into college then be content to provide simple solid content that your student can understand and hopefully enjoy.

4. If you look at the normal high school requirements and feel that they are beyond the capabilities of your student, then plan on having your student write a GED after high school.  This will give high school equivalency.  You can even use your Gr. 12 year as a year to study and prepare to write the GED. Remember, that if you do not pass a couple of sections of the GED you can write those sections again.  Your GED will not say how many tries it took to get it.

5. Consider using PAC (Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum) if you have a struggling learner. This is high school curriculum that was written for students who struggle academically.  Each subject has a set of five soft-cover texts and five workbooks that students complete their assignments in.  It is simple, straight-forward and very doable. 

6.  If algebra is a mystery for your student consider practical business math, consumer math, or a study in personal finances as a math credit.

7. Where English is a challenge consider Edcon Literature Study Guides that have an abridged novel in the workbook with simple comprehension questions.  Teach essay writing using WriteShop I and II over two or three years,to have a good basic approach to writing. Try to master the five paragraph essay.

8. Use co-ops and work placement experiences liberally.  These have two benefits.  Often our struggling students shine in work placements.  This is encouraging to them.  Also, it may lead to future employment or at least give a student some idea about the kind of work they might want to pursue.

9. In Ontario, where we live, many colleges will accept high school students into courses based on a CAAT (Canadian Adult Achievement Test) plus a sample essay.  In many cases students with identified learning disabilities can receive accommodations to write the test. Ie. perhaps the student will write their essay on a computer with the assistance of Grammar and Spell Check.

10. Work on character.  Really, in the grand scheme of life and future employment, good character will go a long way in helping your student work well in the workplace and in their personal relationships.

11. Many struggling students may be challenged in the academic subjects but excel in skills that are part of the trades.  Try to find opportunities to try out various trades.  In Canada, young people must have a diploma or a GED to apprentice.  This is another great reason to work on that GED in your final year of high school. 

Above all try to make these years as enjoyable as possible. Focus on positives and strengths that your student has. Take time to pray about where God wants them to be and what His plan is for them.  Being at home during these years gives you a tremendous gift of time to continue to train and disciple your young person for the King.  Above all remember:  "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me".

Feel free to share other ideas on homeschooling your struggling learning through high school.  We can all learn from one another!

Unless the Lord Builds the house they labour in vain to build it.


History in the Making

It's been a while since I've posted.  Our very busy fall at The Learning House was all consuming.  We do want to thank all of our wonderful customers for helping to make it a resounding success.  I do have several posts in the works and you will see them in the coming weeks.  However, it occurred to me yesterday that with our election literally just around the corner a quick mini-post might be in order.

Next Monday we will have a federal election in Canada.  Many of you may have used the past few weeks to teach a unit on our electoral system.  Others may have thought this would be a good  idea but not have been able to carry through.  This is not a time to feel guilty about what we haven't done but a great opportunity to teach our children about voting as we "walk in the way with them"

I would like to encourage you to make Election Day a learning day. It doesn't need to take much time to teach a few basic principles.  You don't need a big fancy curriculum. You do need to take a few minutes and explain to your children why we vote.  Teach them that this is how we have our say in who will govern our country.  Talk to them about the various candidates in your riding and how you have decided who you will vote for.  Share about the issues that are deal breakers for your decision on who to vote for.

Then take your children with you when you vote.   Let them see how this works.  Explain that voting is private and that no one else sees our ballot. Talk about the fact that there are many places in the world where people would give their lives to have the freedom to cast their ballot.  This is a privilege and a right that men and women have fought and died for. We have a responsibility to participate. it is important and we need to communicate this to our children not only with our words but also with our actions. This is teaching living history at its best.

Even though there are many times we despair over the state of our country we cannot deny that we are blessed to live in a nation where freedom still reigns.  As our children grow we can share our love for our country with them.  While we may not know the future the Lord does. Perhaps, our lessons in government and our political process will spark one of children to consider political involvement in the future.

Unless the Lord Builds the house they labour in vain to build it


Summer Reading Ideas - Part 1

A little while ago our friends from Essentials in Writing asked me to send them a list of my favourite five books for each grade level. Oh the agony of keeping the list down to five.  Still, it was fun to think about which ones I would include.  I decided with summer here you might be looking for some really good reads for your children. Many of these will be old favourites. However, you may find an unfamiliar gem that you would like to try out. Summer is a wonderful time for kids to have some lazy days and get lost in a good book. If you have some on hand they are more likely to pick them up and give them a try.  As always, remember that grade levels are quite arbitrary.  Any given child may move up or down several grade levels. These were chosen with your average student in mind (whatever that is). Take a look and enjoy. The next blog post will cover titles for grade seven and up.  Happy reading!

2 & 3 Years Old

Very Hungry Caterpillar

4 & 5 Years Old

Grade One and Two

Grade Three and Four

 Sarah Plain and Tall
Hana's Suitcase

Grade Five and Six

Farmer Boy
The Cay

If you have a favourite book, for a certain age, I would love to hear what your children have enjoyed. A good book list is really never complete because you don't know what the next great read will be.  

On another note, we just made our new website live this past week. Check it out at The Learning House .  We would love to have your feedback. We are in the process of adding images as we know we are missing quite a few. Any and all suggestions are welcome.  

Have a great summer and keep reading!