Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seventh Grade Foreign Language

Yes, most seventh graders are not thinking about learning a foreign language. They often look at that subject as something reserved for high school. Too bad...

This summer, I met a young lady from Latvia. She was selling educational software, to help pay for her college education. She was very friendly, and just sat down on my front porch one afternoon and began to tell me all about her life. She was from a country where it is illegal to homeschool. Her country has suffered persecution from the Russians throughout history. She works very hard to put herself through college. However, this young lady knew 5 languages. At age 19 she spoke Russian, Latvian, English, Spanish,and another language that I cannot remember. We discussed why Europeans seem to be well versed in multiple languages while Americans are lucky if they know two.

While we spoke about this, it dawned on me. Yes, the European community has many countries that are small (like our states) and within the European community people travel freely from country to country. Because these varying countries are so close - it makes sense to know more languages. In America, we have a broad expanse of land that knows English. From our southern border - all the way to the North Pole - English is spoken. The only other language widely spoken on our continent is Spanish. Yes, there are substantial numbers of people who speak French, German, Chinese, many people who within their ethnic community within the U.S. still speak their native languages. But overall - English is the majority language of a very broad expanse of territory. Does that give us excuse? I think not! Learning languages not only expands the mind, but it also gives us a better understanding of how other people think - and an appreciation of our own language.

Don't wait until your child reaches high school, let them start learning a foreign language now. There are so many great programs out there, even fun foreign language games to make it that much easier for your child to learn. So, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Legacy...

Homeschooling has so many advantages. I know we've spoken of many of these in our other posts. From the flexibility that homeschooling provides to the many options it leaves us in teaching our children, homeschooling has a great effect on families. Homeschooling allows for much more family time than I would have if my children were gone for 8 hours every day.

Just recently I have been thinking about just how fast time has been going by. Our weeks seem more like days. I feel like I am watching my children grow up in fast forward. I want so desperately to slow it down. Remember what it was like when we were young? Time seemed to stand still. Now that I am older and I want to hang on to every minute, it slips like water through my fingers. Because of this, I am determined that I am going to make every moment count.

Each day my children get another day closer to being grown up. I want so desperately to be sure that I have invested my all into making them great adults. I want to be sure that I am leaving a legacy that will be passed down to my grandchildren, and then to their grandchildren. A legacy of care and commitment, of love and appreciation. I want to make each day count to be part of the legacy when I am gone...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homeschool flexibility...

When life gives you lemons...make lemonade! That is exactly the flexibility that homeschooling gives you!

Having difficulties with learning disabilities? Have a change in your work schedule? Need to make adjustments so that you can have some family time? The purpose of homeschooling is to make it possible to make adjustments so that the important things in life can be more meaningful.

If you child struggles with learning disabilities, you may need to rearrange your schooling schedule. Some children, can do much better with learning when they physical exert themselves before sitting down to concentrate. Some families take the morning to exercise and physically expend energy, before taking time to learn. Doing school in the afternoon actually makes for a better day.

Some families have one parent who works during the night. They have found that if they rearrange their schedule to allow for family time in the morning they sleep better, and the children are fulfilled by getting to spend time with their parent. The schedule is arranged so that school happens in the afternoon. Allowing for flexibility in their schooling...gives them freedom to enjoy what is important.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Special Needs Students

Children with learning disabilities/special needs learning are people just like you and me. So often it seems that educators just want to pick them out and label them without mercy. Is it because it just takes too much time to figure out just exactly how they learn? Yes, often these children learn in a different manner than other children, but do they need a label? Do they need to have the stigma that the label brings to every day of their lives?

There are several up and coming programs that reach out to children with special needs, like Autism. These children are not treated as disabled children, but simply just as children "wired" a bit differently than most. If educators can figure out just exactly how the child learns or the different way they are wired. The child can be reached by various education methods, without labels and the stigma that accompanies them.

I have taught for over 15 years and have seen many young people come through my classroom that were just simply wired differently. Traditional educational methods didn't work for them, but they were still people who were very intelligent and who could learn. I had a particular student who transferred to our school. Her file was at least 3 inches thick. I remember my principal telling me to read over it and learn how I needed to teach her. I asked him if he would allow me to use my method. He did - and over the next few weeks I spent time treating her just like all of the other students, and also learning just what it was that made her tick. I ended teaching her for several years, and during that time she blossomed. She was never treated like a dummy - she was never labeled at our school. She went on with confidence that she could learn whatever she wanted - just in a different way.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seventh Grade Science

Seventh grade science is an important subject. The presentation of science for this grade is extremely important. Seventh graders will enjoy science and enter into an appreciation of how scientific principles apply to real life when they have had the opportunity to experience it. Science cannot be a dry word based subject, especially for this grade level.

Incorporating a subject type curriculum that makes an application of principles to real life is a great way to help the seventh grader enjoy science. We enjoy the homeschool curriculum Apologia. This was written for the especially for the homeschooler, and attempts to incorporate practical concrete concepts into the seventh grade curriculum. We also enjoy using the Time4Learning curriculum to augment our science studies. This curriculum uses a web based curriculum that allows for interaction and an exciting format to engage the students in learning. In any case, there are many great opportunities for the homeschool student to make science exciting!

Monday, October 10, 2011

History Alive?

Ok, so many kids think seventh grade history is boring...if it is presented with dry, dusty, boring facts - it IS boring. Who can remember facts...dates...unconnected bits of information? BUT what would happen if we switched things up a bit and made history become a subject full of application and even experience? What do you think would happen?

Yes, of course, students would actually begin to like history - begin to enjoy studying and learning about what happened years before they were born. If we could get students to see that learning from history's mistakes, helps us to realize what not to do in the present. If we can use the mistakes made in history to learn from - the future can be made better. Yet, still making application from history may not be enough to get them excited. How about visiting history... seeing where it took place. Making concrete connections from real places to actual events in history. This is key to making history real for our children!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Get Busy Writing

Writing is often considered a difficult subject matter. Many students run away from essay writing, writing exercises or even creative writing. In reality, there are many ways that writing can be a subject of enjoyment and one that students actually look forward to. As we have posted previously blog writing is an excellent way to encourage your student to write.  Yet, finding your students point of interest or something that they are passionate about, will give them cause to write creatively from their heart.

Of course, interest is key to writing, yet practice is the thing that produces proficient writers. Yes, the writer needs the tools - good grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling and vocabulary. Once the student has the tools in hand, proficiency in writing comes only one way... practice, practice practice.

Have a student who doesn't want to write? Find their interests and encourage them to write about them, and then have them write, write, write... The more they write - the better they will be!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Homeschool literature learning

Have you ever heard about literature based learning? Or learning through reading great literature? A superb method of teaching/learning for homeschoolers is literature based learning. Students can use great classic literature and literature-based word lists to learn about far away lands, historic places, historic events, and amazing inventions.

This method was made popular by Charlotte Mason. She encouraged her students to learn by reading "live" books or books that made the subject come alive. She asserted that these "live" books were written by people that were passionate about their topic. They enjoyed the subject and wrote more interesting work than the typical textbook authors did. Students can benefit from the various subjects that these fiction, non-fiction, biography, and autobiographies provide.

Students can vary the homeschool curriculum they use, by using literature based studies for a while and then rotating back to workbook or online study. An excellent method of learning, and a great way to integrate language arts into each subject across the curriculum.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

7th grade spelling and vocabulary

I used to hate doing spelling and vocabulary with my children. It was crazy 5 children at different spelling levels. Who in their right mind could handle doing 5 spelling lists with 5 spelling tests every Friday? I know that I sure couldn't, it was really driving me nuts! I went back and forth for a year or two on what to do to tame that terrible paper tiger. I finally ran across Vocabulary and Spelling City.com if you haven't looked at this website, you need to check it out now. It has absolutely revolutionized how our family does spelling.

Let me tell you, it is a lifesaver for me. This site not only allows me to enter whatever spelling lists by grade I want for my child, but also has hundreds of other lists for me to choose from. On top of that, it allows my children to practice these lists with really awesome games, and then when it is time to test - they take their tests right there on the website - AND (here is the kicker) it even scores it for them. All I have to do is check out their records, and print out a grade report. No hassle - no headache - spelling is now under control!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Feeling Frustrated?

Do you ever listen to those people who always sound so happy - so chipper - like they never have a problem in the world? There is a part of me who just wants to give them the raspberries...you know just be juvenile and stick my tongue out. There is never anyone who can always have the perfect homeschooling life. There are stresses and pressures that no one can relieve at times. We have been created to be resilient creatures. We can handle a lot more than we realize, yet there is no reason for some of the stress that we put on ourselves.

When you are feeling that homeschooling is becoming more stress and negative than positive. STOP...and take a step back from it. Take a day or two off from schooling and just examine your life. Examine what you are doing in your homeschool. Try to determine if changing something would help remove the stress. Take a look at what you have on your "proverbial" plate. Is it all absolutely necessary? Or are there some things that really could be removed? Are your children one of your primary priorities? Rearrange and refocus - you might be surprised at how much stress just those few little steps can alleviate!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grammar for 7th grade

Grammar is another one of those courses that students usually hate. It can be tedious, and it is definitely not something that involves concrete thinking. This subject is almost totally abstract thinking. Using visuals and possibly manipulating words with cut out cards can bring a concrete/visual aspect to the learning of grammar,but it is typically one of those subjects that we gain a greater understanding of as our minds mature into abstract thinking.

I personally was a good student during elementary, middle,  high school, and college. Yet, I find today as I teach grammar I see the logic in it much more easily than I did then. It is true that as our minds mature logic and abstract thinking come more easily. As we teach seventh grade grammar, try to make it as concrete as possible. I enjoy using an online homeschool curriculum with my children, do to the fact that it gives interaction with the concept as well as fun drill and practice for the student.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Teaching Homeshool Math

Math is a very special subject. Some people love it, and some hate it! I guess you could say most people have a love/hate relationship with it. I am one of the oddballs. I love math! Yet, I didn't always love it. I started out rather ambivalent toward it, then in Junior High I began to like the pre-algebra that we were doing. Anticipating algebra, I began ninth grade only to be disappointed. By mid-terms in 9th grade, I was failing. My parents realized this and sent me back to the private school I had previously attended. It was only a few months, and my grade was back to an A. Why? Well, it really is quite simple...I had a teacher that cared.

Math is like that. You can have a good book, or a bad book, but the teacher can make the difference. Higher math is just one of those subjects that really needs some type of instruction. Parents can obviously do the job, but they need to give positive influence as the child is studying this subject. Most of the people who say that they hate math, usually say so because they don't do well with it. If they can experience some success and feel achievement in what they are learning and doing - their attitude toward math usually changes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Homeschool Legal Issues

You know the wonderful thing about being an American?.... our freedom!  Yet even within this country of ours there are correct legal procedures to follow simply to protect ourselves in case of someone out there who doesn't appreciate our freedom. There are several non-profit organizations that help homeschool families stay abreast of current issues, and also help them if a disgruntle neighbor of family member complains and causes issues that may ultimately infringe upon our right to homeschool.

In many cases, homeschool families have simply been just doing "their thing."  They have been looked at as being different, or possibly having too many children and someone has made a complaint.  Yes, homeschooling is different and many people don't understand things that are different. However, we need to protect our right to the freedoms that we have been granted as American citizens.  This includes the freedom to educate our children in the way we see fit, as long as the child is achieving and making significant gains in learning.

The sad thing is,that there are parents out there who for some reason choose to say they homeschool - yet do nothing of the sort. They don't teach their children,and they don't nurture them. Their children are basically in prison. These are the parents who cause the rest of us to have endure criticism and hardship.  Let's be responsible with homeschooling and make sure that we are encouraging our children to be the best that they can be!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Adding Creative Writing to Your Homeschool

What makes creative writing such a difficult subject? Why do young people hate doing it? Why can't they just jump at the chance to make beautiful pictures with their words? Ok...reality... some need creative writing help. Creative writing takes time, effort, and some foundational tools. The seventh grader needs to have a good grasp of the English language, the ability to use grammar, and a solid comprehension of spelling and vocabulary. Yet, if all of these tools have been integrated into the education of the Junior High School student prior to this time, they will fall into place as they begin to write.

Usually, the difficulty arises when the student doesn't know what to write. I recently realized a quick and easy way to get my daughters writing creatively without pain and torture....blog writing! In this medium they were able to express themselves creatively not only in writing, but also in the presentation of their own blog. The loved the ability to make their blog cute, and then writing became easy for them as they wrote about things that happened to them everyday. It was the best revelation I have had in a long time!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Basic Requirements for Seventh Grade

It is often difficult for homeschooling parents to keep track of the state standards that are present for each grade level. Some parents just school their children without worrying about their grade level or where the state thinks they should be at particular stages.

However you view this - go for it. However, if you are concerned about where your student needs to be at or above public school students - there are a few things to know.

1) Seventh grade should be able to read at grade level.
2) Students should be able to write a cohesive paper of considerable length, using prewriting, drafting, rewriting, and final writing.
3) In mathematics, number and operations, geometry, algebra, data analysis and probability is covered.
4) For seventh grade science, students should study cells and genetics, biology, and beginnings.
5) Seventh graders should be able to study geography, government/civics, economics, and general history.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Learning Styles

Have you ever wondered what all the hype about learning styles is? Well, to be honest...it really isn't just hype. Learning styles are the way our children learn. The amazing thing is that each child learns differently, and has different learning styles. No two children are alike...wow! They were each created to be individuals. This is why home education works so well. The individual needs of each child can be met!

Learning styles are the key in determining what type of homeschool curriculum to use, and how to teach your children. It is the key that unlocks the door of frustration! So, if you are facing a brick wall - take time to figure out what type of learner your child is. You can easily do this by watching them study, work, and play. But don't just watch - take notes. Putting it on paper will help you see just exactly what you may have been missing. Once you've discovered the way your child prefers to learn and do things, then search for a curriculum that will encourage this particular learning style. Finding this key has truly unlocked many families' frustration in this area.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Simple is best

Ever feel like everything you are doing is so complicated? I have...but I have learned to try to keep things simple about our homeschooling endeavor. If I can stick with the primary objective...things go much smoother. I have friends who think that they have to make their children experts in every area. This is just crazy. The child will soon become frustrated with this type of thinking.

I have found that if we are getting bogged down in what we are doing, and I go back and simplify things - or get back to the basics so to speak - we have a much better day. If your child is struggling with a course - even if they have almost completed it...just have them go back and do it over. Don't ever try to push a child beyond what they truly are capable of. If your child is doing great with any of their seventh grade subjects and they are just eating up everything about it, let them fly! Encourage their strengths and let them find the knowledge that they are seeking in their studies. Finding the balance and keeping it simple is one of the keys to successful homeschooling!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Teaching Responsibility

It never ceases to amaze me at the great people that homeschooling produces. I have met a lot of young adults that are homeschooled and they are just really great people. Sadly, they are young people that are diametrically the opposite of what we often find in the school systems. The homeschooled young person is typically a mature, responsible, respectful young adult. But why?

I personally think that homeschooling teaches the young person responsibility simply by its nature. The nature of homeschooling brings the student to finding things out on their own, taking responsibility for their own actions, and the individuality that working independently brings. I also believe that removing the peer pressure from the mix of adolescence changes the whole scope of things. Instead of focusing on having the "best" clothes, and the right boyfriend, and listening to the coolest music - the homeschooled student can simply wear their jammies and focus on their seventh grade science! Staying at home removes alot of the issues of our modern society pressures.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tips to Start off Right

Parents, who are new to homeschooling, ask me frequently what I would suggest that they did to start things off right. It really isn't just an easy cut and dry question. There are many things that I would suggest, but to sum things up there would be about five things that would be the most important.
  • Enroll in a homeschool school program or submit your declaration of homeschooling to your county.
  • Determine which homeschool curriculum you should use by matching it to the needs of your children. Look at their learning styles and determine what type of curriculum would make them fly!
  • Keep attendance records - remember you can count your field trip days!
  • Keep good grade records - try to make each child a year end report card. I keep their tests for a few years, as well.
  • If your current curriculum is a source of daily frustration... CHANGE IT! It's better to waste a little money (try to sell on ebay) than to suffer for a whole year.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Resources for Homeschooling II

In our last post, we mentioned the huge amount of great homeschooling teacher resources that are now available. Yes, it really gets confusing once you start looking! But, a few points of interest may help you understand what you need to be looking for.

1) There are many types of homeschool curriculum, but here are the main categories.
  • Text based - out of the box curriculum - This type of curriculum is usually workbook based and is comprehensive for all subjects and all grades. "Out of the box" simply means that it is ready to go right out of the box! A few examples would be ABEKA, Bob Jones, and Alpha Omega.
  • Computer based - This type of curriculum used DVDs or software to educate the student. The lessons may be computer based where the student reads them and then does activities or answers questions to practice the information learned. A DVD or prerecorded lesson is a program where there was a teacher that taught the course and someone recorded them while they were teaching a live class. Many homeschoolers like this method because it makes the student feel like they are in a class. A few examples of this are ABEKA DVDs, Switched on Schoolhouse, and Bob Jones Hard drive.
  • Online Curriculum - This type of curriculum is totally based online. It is "live" or synchronous education. The student is being taught by something that is happening at that moment. This method of education is very easy for the parent, in that the parent just "directs" what the student is learning. Most online curriculums also offer the parents record keeping options. This allows the parent to see how the child is doing, and also gives them the option to make the child go back and do over the lessons that they did poor on. A few examples of these would be Time4Learning, and K-12 education.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Resources for the Homeschooler

Wow! Today homeschooling families have tons of curriculum options available to them! This is a big change from what it was a decade or two ago. Parents often had to use public school texts, Christian school texts, or just make their own. In reality, this is why there is such a plethora of really good curriculum options. The last generation of homeschoolers DID make their own, and are now offering them to us for our enjoyment.

Homeschool is now the fastest growing method of educating in America. This is obviously not what the public school system "tenured" teachers want to hear. Yet, what option do we have if the system isn't working? America is the land of freedom, of opportunity, and of choice... parents can exercise each of those options each day they choose to educate their own child.

There are so many good options available out there for the beginning homeschooler that it may seem very confusing. Though this blog is dedicated to seventh grade online curriculum, I hope to point you to the "tried and true" curriculum that is available. Our family actually uses a mixture of both text, computer, and online curriculum.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Your Decision to Homeschool

So, you have been thinking about homeschooling? Every family that makes this choice has a different reason for doing so. From physical reasons, to educational reasons, to religious reasons each family has their own unique "reason" for choosing to homeschool their children.

We are blessed to have the right to choose what type of education that we, THE PARENTS, deem best for the children that WE brought in to this world. For the most part, parents are seeking what they can do to make life better for their children. Parents know their children better than anyone else in the world, and often intuitively know what they need. Yes, parents are not omniscient, but they also aren't idiots. Parents are usually the best educators for their children.

Typically, beginning homeschool parents are a bit gun shy of "teaching" the whole curriculum themselves. This is easily remedied by the various great online homeschool curriculum options that are out there. I have been a teacher for many years in a private school, but when I chose to homeschool all of my 6 children I chose to incorporate an online curriculum called Time4Learning into our studies. It works great for us and even helps me to keep records of their grades.