ABC’s for Your New School Year

It’s time for school to start! 
Parents and children look excitedly to the beginning of a new school year. Lists are made, curricula is purchased, and schedules are written.
If you are just starting the journey into homeschooling or are preparing for another homeschooling year, may these ABC’s for Your New School Year be a help and encouragement to you.
  1. Appreciate the opportunity to teach your children. Begin each day with thanksgiving to God asking for His guidance and blessing.

  2. Begin with the basics. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are fundamental. Focus on these subjects first thing each day. That way if you have an interruption, the fundamentals have hopefully been covered.

  3. Celebrate each child’s victory over a difficult assignment with a word of affirmation.

  4. Declutter throughout the day. Put away items as you finish with them so that you are not overwhelmed at the end of the day with clutter.
    Manipulatives make learning fun.
    Manipulatives make learning fun. However, they can create clutter if not returned to their proper storage containers.

  5. Establish a routine but don’t be ruled by it. If a learning opportunity arises that will be beneficial for your children, then take advantage of it.

  6. Fortify the foundation. Review a few minutes every day. For example, drill math facts every day.

  7. Gather all needed materials for the next week before it arrives. For those who struggle with this, collect some small storage boxes and label each as one subject. Put all materials for that subject in that storage box. This will save you time and freedom from frustration.
    Make sure you have gathered all the materials you will need to teach your lesson before you begin your presentation.
    Make sure you have gathered all the materials you will need to teach your lesson before you begin your lesson presentation.

  8. Have a wish list of needed items for grandparents or others who wish to purchase gifts for special occasions. What child wouldn’t like a microscope, telescope, or gem collection?

  9. Instill in children the desire to read. Set aside a specific time each day when children may read a parent-approved book of their choice. Younger children can look at picture books. This also gives you time to read or unwind.

  10. Journal your homeschooling accomplishments each day. On days when you feel like you are getting nowhere, pick up your journal and see how far you’ve come. It will encourage you.

  11. Keep a list of helpful resources. It may be librarians, internet addresses, professionals, wildlife officers, support group leaders, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you need help.

  12. Launch the new year with a special learning activity, field trip related to the first few lessons, or a New Year’s School Party. It may be just decorating notebooks or pencil boxes. Make it a memorable day.

  13. Mishaps will happen. Mistakes will be made. Maintain your testimony during these times. Don’t be shocked when they happen. Just pick up the pieces and start over. Life’s lessons can sometimes teach what we cannot. Learn from the mistakes and adjust as needed. Misplaced items will eventually be found.

  14. Network with other homeschooling parents. Share bits of wisdom and encouragement.

  15. Outline your objectives for the year in each subject. Keep the list before you each day to help you stay focused and not be led away by activities that do not support your school year.

  16. Prevent burnout with proper breaks, but keep progressing productively. Periodically check each child’s performance and adjust schooling as needed.

  17. Quiz orally and give children ample time to answer. Have older students defend their answers with facts.

  18. Revise curricula as needed. If a lesson plan needs to be retaught, do so. Try different ways to present a lesson.

  19. State simply what is expected from each lesson each day. Children need to know what is important.

  20. Tape recorders are great helpers. Children can use them to help with vocabulary drill, math drills, practicing oral communication, etc. Older children can record stories for younger children to listen to while you are teaching older ones.

  21. Utilize time wisely. Schedule your day. Be creative with chores and naptimes.

  22. Variety is the spice of life. Vary the way lessons are presented. Lecturing every day will bring learning to a standstill.

  23. Wake up to a new day and know that it is another opportunity to instill in your children what you wish for them to learn. Wisdom goes far beyond simple understanding.

  24. Expect your children to learn. Examinations are part of life. Test their skills.

  25. Yah is an informal word for yes. Yes, you can do this. Just remember that you are learning to discipline yourself just as you are teaching your children to discipline themselves. Yield to God’s leadership in this area.

  26. Zeal is required to finish any race. The course that you are on requires patience and devotion. Be committed to cross the finish line.

    I hope these ABC’s for Your New School Year have been helpful and encouraging. May your homeschooling journey be the great adventure into learning that it is meant to be.

 


Does your family have a special activity for beginning the new school year?
Do you have any helpful ideas for those beginning their first year of homeschooling?

©2017 by Peggy Clark

 

ABC’s of Finalizing Your School Year

Finishing Your School Year Successfully

The time comes when the school year must end and the next begin.

Whether you school on a nine-month, year-round, or quarterly schedule, there are items that all administrators must do to finalize the school year.

If you are winding up your home school year, may these ABC’s of Finalizing Your School Year guide you to a successful finish.

ABC's to Finishing Your School Year

ABC’s to a Successful Finish

 

A — Assess your school year. Note your children’s accomplishments. Accept what you did not accomplish and adjust plans for the following year accordingly.

B — Brainstorm ideas for the following year.

Broaden your vision by attending homeschooling conferences, teacher’s conferences, writer’s conferences, and support group workshops.

C —Clarify your goals for each child for the next year.

Create new folders for each and make comments to remind yourself of why you chose those goals. Those goals can be changed later, but your comments will help you as you plan for the next year.

D — Dedicate a small portion of each day during your school break to plan for the next year so that you will not be overwhelmed as the new year draws closer. This time should be devoted to research curricula, gather needed materials, make plans for field trips, and develop lesson plans.

E — Enjoy your school break by exploring the environment with your children. Engage in meaningful activities that will peak children’s curiosities and enrich their learning experiences.

F — Finalize and fax or mail required forms with your state’s Department of Non-public Instruction. Keep your own file copies of these forms for future reference.

G — Gift graduates.

If your own child is graduating, host a great graduation reception.

H — Have a holiday and relax. Take some much-needed time for yourself.

I — Invest in storage containers for children’s assignments that you wish to keep.

J — Join online homeschooling groups/blogs to stay encouraged.

K — Keep a journal of summer activities

L — Lobby legislators during your break from teaching. Let them know of any concerns you have concerning home school legislation.

M — Make final reports of grades for the year.

Even if you do not issue official report cards, your children still need to have that feeling of having passed to the next level. Give a report card, certificate, or statement of completion for the school year.

N — Notify family members and acquaintances of school year accomplishments, graduation dates, or other pertinent information you wish to share.

Nominate your children for scholarships to academic camps that may be of benefit to them.

O — Own up to any failures during the past year. Make a commitment to yourself to avoid those failures next year.

P — Persevere to the end. Prevent burnout but stay productive.

Praise progress and promise something special when all lessons have been completed. Follow through with that promise.

Q — Quiz your children. Develop a questionnaire that allows your children to critique their school year. Make it simple. There are no right or wrong answers. Let your children be honest with you.

What did they like most about the school year?

What was their favorite lesson/project?

What did they find most difficult?

What would they change if they could?

Ask a variety of simple questions. Use the answers to critique your teaching style versus their learning styles. You may be surprised at their answers. What may have been most difficult for you may have been most enjoyable for them.

R — Revise your schedule. Don’t just fill in lessons to fill up time.

If your children are through with lessons for the year in a certain subject, then utilize that time for completing your records, putting away unnecessary resources, and finishing other end of year projects.

Check registration due dates for graduates furthering their education through college or vocational schools.

S — Smile a lot. Don’t allow yourself to get stressed out with end of year tests or to start rushing through lessons to get done by a designated date. If your projected end date needs to be adjusted, do so.

Don’t let pressures ruin your testimony before your children. Be as excited about ending as you are about beginning. Success is not measured merely by pages completed.

T — Transcripts should be completed. This is an important record of each student’s accomplishments especially during the high school years.

U — Unexpected interruptions seem to be more frequent during this time of year. Plan your response before they happen.

Some interruptions may be valuable opportunities, but weigh each carefully before you change your schedule. Are they worth extending your school year?

V — Vary your teaching style. As subjects taper off, use the extra time to add variety to the rest of your lesson plans.

W — Welcome the school/summer break with a well-deserved end-of-year party.

X — Exalt your children for jobs well-done. Recognize achievements and victories from the school year. It is okay to give your child a certificate of completion, a certificate of victory over some difficulty they experienced, or a certificate of accomplishment such as learning cursive.

Y — Yesterday is gone. It is in the yearbook of life. Don’t beat yourself up over it, but learn from it. What do you wish to do better next year? Write it in a simple statement and place it on the first page of next year’s school planner.

Z — Zip up the pencil cases and notebooks and enjoy time away from the kitchen table.

Zoom to the zoo. Zoom to the beach or to any other of your favorite getaways.


I hope these ABC’s for finalizing your school year have been helpful.
What other activities are necessary to finalize your school year?
Does your family have a special end of year activity?

 

Create a Magazine – Make It a Family Affair

Enrich your homeschool by creating a magazine that reflects your family’s interests.

Learn about writing, editing, and publishing.

Children have different talents and gifts. Why not utilize those talents and gifts by making a family magazine?
This may seem like an overwhelming task, but it needn’t be. Just follow a few basic steps and your magazine will become a pleasurable accomplishment.

Discuss the different parts of a magazine.

Take some time letting your children leaf through various magazines taking notice of what they find interesting. (If you do not have access to interesting magazines through family and friends, then plan a trip to your local library. A large selection is available for viewing and for checkout. It would be advantageous to have your first lessons completed there.)

Then continue by pointing out pages with specific purposes. Included in these should be the copyright page, contents pages, editorial pages, features pages, product pages, etc. Any discussion should also include the type of and purpose for advertising articles and advertising posts.

Children will probably notice that some magazines appeal to a wide variety of readers (mass magazines) and some appeal only to a select few (class magazines).

Discuss the job descriptions of those who are responsible for each step in the process of development.

From editors, illustrators, reporters, printers, to photographers, the list of people who do the work of producing a magazine is varied.

Responsibilities involve layout, design, news departments, sports departments, editorials, photos, images, production, marketing, etc. It truly takes a team to produce a successful magazine.

Discuss the idea of producing a family magazine.

Discuss the idea of producing your own magazine. This could be a family magazine or group magazine. Get the children excited about producing their own work.

If you feel your family is too small to do this, engage the assistance of other homeschooling families or your local homeschool support group.

Let Your Magazine Reflect Your Family's Interests
Let Your Magazine Reflect Your Family’s Interests

Enjoy the process.

Don’t let the process bog down your family. If you decide to just do a few pages within a single week or if you make it a year long process by collecting material accomplished during the year, the important thing is to give children the knowledge of and opportunity in developing their individual gifts and talents. Make it an adventure they will remember as they continue their educational goals.

Set guidelines and give job descriptions.

Some children love to write stories, but others love to tell them. Some like to draw or doodle while others have fun painting or crafting.

Some like to tell riddles and read comic strips, while others would rather grab the camera and catch family members in fun.

Some children like the outdoors (so what critters are in the area?) and others like hanging out with Mom in the kitchen (so what’s their favorite recipe?).

Some like to play sports (so how do you play that game?) while others seem to know all the sports statistics (batting averages, anyone?).

Some are great at playing musical instruments, but others like to listen to the radio, know all the top hits, and can tell you where their favorite artists will be next week.

Utilize those individual characteristics to make a magazine that will reflect the children’s talents, interests, and gifts and not just your own.

Yes, specific guidelines and deadlines should be set, but let the children do the work as much as possible.

Make the Publishing Process a Learning Experience
Items to Consider in Publishing Your Family Magazine

Let each child do what they find interesting.

Some will enjoy writing about their topics of interests. Some will hate writing altogether, but may love doing the illustrations or creating graphs for a sibling’s articles.

As much as possible, let each child do what they find interesting. This may take some insight on your part.

And when it comes to publishing the material, everyone will probably want to know how to use the copy machine. Even if you must do this at a local printer, ask the manager if your children can watch the process.

Enjoy creating your magazine and just think about all the areas of publishing to which your family has been exposed.

And if you decide to let the children ‘sell’ the magazine to family and friends, you may discover that you have a successful entrepreneur under your wings.

 

Division: Laying the Groundwork, Part 3

Manipulatives make learning fun.
Manipulatives make learning fun.

 Laying the Groundwork for Teaching Division, Part3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of Laying the Groundwork for Teaching Division, I discussed ways parents can begin laying the groundwork for the future teaching of division to their children.

Teaching division may seem like a complicated task but using manipulatives makes the skill easy to teach and to acquire.

For our purposes in this post, we will use recycled ice cream sticks. Family members could assist in recycling so that you have a useful amount.

Ask extended family members to save items that can be used as manipulatives to teach mathematical skills.
Ask extended family members to save items that can be used as manipulatives to teach mathematical skills.

(Another alternative would be to use tongue depressors. Just ask your doctor for a handful next time you have an appointment. If you tell him or her the purpose for your request, you may find yourself with a generous handful free of charge.)

Let’s Review Place Value First

Before we continue let’s take a moment to discuss the place value of numbers. This is just for the parents’ information.

The number 2 is a one-digit number which is made up of 2 one’s.

The number 23 is a two-digit number which is made up of 2 tens and 3 ones.

The number 234 is a three-digit number which is made up of 2 hundreds, 3 tens, and 4 ones.

In the number 2, the digit 2 is in the one’s place.

In the number 23, the digit 2 is in the ten’s place.

In the number 234, the digit 2 is in the hundred’s place.

In other words, a 3-digit number has 3 digits, one which represents the hundred’s place, one which represents the ten’s place, and one which represents the one’s place.

In the number 2, there is only one digit. This tells us we have 2 ones.

In the number 23, there are two digits. This tells us we have 2 tens and three ones.

In the number 234, there are three digits. This tells us we have 2 hundreds, 3 tens, and 4 ones.

Prepare Your Manipulatives
Choose your colors.

Back to our ice cream sticks. Choose a color you wish to use to represent the hundred’s place. For our demonstration we will use purple.

Choose another color to represent the ten’s place. For our demonstration we will use red.

Now choose another color to represent the one’s place. For our demonstration we will use yellow.

Use markers, paints, crayons, etc., per your color choices

Use markers, paints, or crayons according to your color choice to dye your assortment of ice cream sticks.  If your budget allows, colored ice cream sticks may be purchased inexpensively at various craft stores.

Teaching the Skill of Division Using Your Manipulatives

Now that you have your own manipulatives, let’s see how we can use them to continue laying the groundwork for teaching the concepts of division. You will find it much easier than you thought.

Ice cream sticks may be used to represent numbers.
Ice cream sticks may be used to represent numbers.
To represent the number 234, we will use 2 purple sticks, 3 red sticks, and 4 yellow sticks (per our color choices).

(To make this task even easier, you may decide to only use even numbers for all digits, especially if your child/student is very young.)

234/2 = ____
The example problem we will be solving is 234 divided by 2.
  • Lay the sticks out in proper order to represent the number 234.
Place value represented by manipulatives
Representing place value
Explain to your child what the colors represent.
  • Explain to your child what the colors represent. Always use the same colors to represent the same place value.
  • Tell your child to “pretend” he or she has two friends. The number 234 can represent marbles, cookies, building blocks, or whatever your child likes to play with.
  • Tell your child to divide the 234 between his or her two pretend friends equally.
Direct them through the process.

Draw attention to the 2 “hundred’s” sticks (purple). Share these two sticks equally.  They will place one stick in each pretend friend’s pile.

The “hundreds” divided.

Then direct them to divide the three “ten’s” sticks (red). They will place one stick in each pretend friend’s pile. But what will they do with the third stick? No, they cannot break it.

Problem represented thus far

Show them that they can solve this by trading the “ten” stick for ten “ones” sticks.

Now show them to place the ten “ones” sticks with the 4 “ones” sticks. How many “one” sticks (yellow) do they have now?

Ask them to divide these 14 “ones” sticks between the two “pretend” friends. 7 “ones” sticks should be placed in each pretend friend’s pile.

7 yellow sticks go to each friend
Explain the answer to the problem.

234 has now been divided into two equal but separate groups. The answer to the problem is the amount in one of the groups.

  • So, if we share 234 building blocks equally between two friends, each friend will have 117 blocks.

Therefore, 234 divided by 2 is 117.

234 divided equally between 2 friends.
234 divided equally between two friends.

This is an example of the division of a three-digit number by a one-digit number.

Where to start
  • Begin with the division of a one-digit number by a one-digit number, continue with the division of two-digit numbers by a one-digit number, and then the division of three-digit numbers by a one-digit number.
  • Go at your child’s pace.

Remember this is to be a time of enjoyment. Don’t get stressed if your child struggles at first. Eager learners will pick up on what you are requesting as you continue along.

I do hope these posts have been helpful. Parents can do a tremendous job of helping their children enjoy learning these somewhat difficult tasks.

Just take a few minutes each day to lay the groundwork for division and your child will find this task conquerable.

You may leave any questions in the comment box below.

Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark

 

 

Laying the Groundwork for Division, Part 2

Laying the Groundwork for Teaching Division, Part 2

The process of division may seem intimidating to students and parents. However, it is not as complicated as many think.

Parents can make the passage to proficiency of this skill easier by laying the groundwork early in their child’s life.

In Part 1 of this post, two ways were discussed that parents may employ.

In this post we will discover another easy and inexpensive way to further aid in helping children develop the skills necessary to achieve mastery.

That way is through a simple technique that employs the use of manipulatives.

Manipulatives make learning fun.
Manipulatives make learning fun.

Yes, manipulatives may be costly to purchase but they can be readily made by recycling items already found in most households. One only need the imagination to come up with a variety of useful tools made from simple everyday objects that are usually thrown in the garbage.

For our purposes in this post, we will use recycled ice cream sticks.

Enlist the aid of extended family members in recycling so that you have a useful amount.

Make this a fun game. Your child will be learning concepts of division without realizing it.

Do this discovery activity.

Pile a number of ice cream sticks on the middle of a table or other flat surface. Ask a variety of questions that will engage thinking skills.

Ask extended family members to save items that can be used as manipulatives to teach mathematical skills.
Ask extended family members to save items that can be used as manipulatives to teach mathematical skills.

Change the amount of sticks. Then continue asking questions for that amount.

Adjust questions according to your child’s skill level.

Let your child discover the answers.

Whether your little one can count past ten or not is not important. Mathematical concepts such as one-to-one correspondence is being developed.

If your child is older, he or she should be able to give you a numerical answer through this discovery activity.

Some sample activities when working with one child:

Divide the pile of sticks so that you and I have the same number of sticks. How many sticks do you have?  How many sticks do I have?

Put all the sticks back in the middle of the table.

Now pretend that there are 3 people here. Divide the sticks into three equal piles. (Give the child time to complete the activity.) How many would each of us have?

Put 10 of the sticks in the middle of the table.

Divide the sticks into two equal piles.

Put 8 sticks in the middle of the table.

Divide the sticks into four equal piles or groups.  How many sticks are in each pile or group?

Use mathematical terms as you see your child progressing.

As your child progresses in understanding, begin to add in mathematical terms.

In the last question above, the word groups was added to the instruction. This is a simple but nonthreatening way for your child to begin understanding mathematical terms. Do this in a gentle way. When the child has grasped the understanding of the new term, use that term instead.

For instance, when you perceive that your child has grasped the understanding of what you are requesting when you use the word group, drop the word pile. “How many sticks are in each group?”

Don’t rush.  Just add in a new term as you see your child progressing.

Another example from above is the use of the term equal. The term equal should eventually replace the words same number.

Do a few minutes of discovery activities each day.

Adding just a few minutes of this activity to your child’s playtime each day will go far in laying the groundwork for what will not be daunting, but will actually become a welcome task of teaching the process of division.

More to come in Part 3.

Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark.

Think! Part I

When I taught at a local private school, I would give my students a handout. The purpose of the handout was to help them with their assignment schedules.

It wasn’t that my students couldn’t think for themselves. They were just immature in their thinking abilities.

Let’s face it. Sometimes we all get stuck. When we are headed toward a deadline, we may get confused and panic which reduces our ability to think clearly. That happens with our students also.

So, to help with this, I would like to share some of the ideas I passed on to my students. Maybe they will help you in your schooling activities.

  • Make a mental picture of the information. Create a mental picture in your mind. If necessary, draw a picture on paper.
  • How does this relate to what I already know? Relate the problem to something you are already familiar with or to something you have already experienced.
  • Think out loud. Sometimes it helps to talk out loud to yourself or to someone else. Saying your thoughts out loud helps you to think things through, make wise decisions, plans, etc. Plans will come together. Ask yourself if this answer makes sense. Is this a good idea or not?
  • Make a chart or a graph. Make diagrams, lists, etc.
  • Brainstorm. On projects, seek out as many possibilities as you can before you make a decision. Then follow through with your decision.
  • Ask a lot of questions. Ask yourself questions. Ask others questions. Do you still think your plan will work? Is it a good idea? Can it be implemented? Do you have enough information? Your first idea may not work. Don’t give up. Keep at it.

I’ll continue this on the next post. Hope the thought processes discussed thus far will give you direction when you face that next difficult assignment.