Summer HomeSchool Whether They Like It Or Not

Summer is here!  Well, it doesn't feel official yet because my son is STILL in public school.  Tomorrow is his last day.

Why Am I Schooling in the Summer?

I loved homeschooling this year and I don't want it to end.  My selfish reason is that I enjoy the activities and time with my child.  I feel like we lost some of that as she has gotten older.  When she was in public school and doing a gazillion extra-curriculars, it was almost impossible to find the quality time to spend together.  We'd veg and watch movies or play a board game at best when we were not on the go.  So, homeschooling has been a great way to reconnect.  What a perfect time to bond, too.  With puberty starting a girl needs her Mom.

With my son, I want to be able to make up for all the time I did not see him this year!  He went to full time school for the first time and he played sports all year.  He went from soccer to wrestling to baseball to track!  I miss my little guy!

Practically, I can't stop schooling, not entirely.  When my daughter gets even a few days away from school she forgets math.  I kid you not.  For example, she has done long division all year. Every school day she has this type of problem in the beginning of the day as part of her math warm up.  If she is off for more than two days from school, she forgets what to do when she sees a division problem.  She does not know the steps or her facts.  After I teach her again it comes back, but it's a really strange phenomena.  I am supposing this is linked to the Dyscalculia, but whatever the case, math needs to continue.  I also want to keep her writing sharp and have her keep reading.  As for my son, I want to get him reading fluently before he goes into first grade and we need to work on his speech.

How Am I Schooling in the Summer?

I want the kids to feel like they are off so I am going to do things differently than we do them during the school year.  Honestly, they only need to put in about 40 minutes of work a few times per week to keep themselves sharp.

I created a notebook for A.  She'll have just four math problems to do each day, three days per week.  One long multiplication, one long division, one addition, one subtraction.  This should be enough to keep the steps fresh in her mind along with reinforcing the math facts.  Then, she'll have a writing prompt.  She can write one day, edit the next, and re-write on the final day.  Reading will happen naturally because we go to the library at least once per week.  I also want to have a bonus item each day.  She can either watch the Times Tales DVD, play games on, play on the Mystery Math Town iPad app, do her computing programming on Khan Academy, or work on those free online piano lessons.  It sounds like a lot but really it isn't.  I am thinking about incentives for them if they complete this work and a couple of chores each day.

 For "the boy," I have two speech apps to get. One is actually a reading app but his therapist says it helps with speech as well.  That one is called Montessori Crosswords and it looks really good.  The speech app is specially designed for kids to work on Phonological Processes (which also happens to be the title of the app).

I am going to use a great free reading program that you can find online called Sight and Sound Reading.  I also have an awesome book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons that I used with A when she was little. I was considering getting Time 4 Learning for C for the summer as well because I think he'd enjoy it.  As you can see I am still all over the place with what I am doing with him.  I'll zero in on a concrete plan over the weekend!

Last summer I made these really cool activity boards for them.  They actually liked these so I should probably try to figure out how to make things more hands on again!

This is a board I made for C to use every day. There is a letter of the day made with pipe cleaners to trace with a finger (Montessori style). Everything is velcroed so he will stick on pictures that start with that letter. Then you have a math problem, which he loves, matching upper to lower case letters, some sight words, phone number (I will start mixing up or leaving out one number, and his name (I will also mix up letters for this). On the back is the alphabet which we will sing normally and phonetically
This is the board I made for A. She can quickly velcro the answer to her math facts each morning. We'll go through addition and multiplication. A cursive letter in pipe cleaners inspired by Montessori. An index card with a paragraph written by one of the American Girl characters with no capitalization or punctuation. She has to correct it for them! Then an exercise that involved counting and following multi step directions. For example- count how many hearts, put the answer on the board, then put the same number of dolls on the step. Helping to build focus and organizational skills!

 I have a Marine Biology book for kids here that is field trip based.  I may try to do that with them this summer.  It'll be a great excuse to head to the beach often and we can finish up with an Aquarium trip!

Why I Am a Mean Mom

My kids are not happy about working academically over the summer.

I am a mean Mommy.  Sigh...

Are you planning to do any learning activities with your kids over the summer break? (And do they hate you for it?)

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The Homeschool Socialization Myth

image courtesy of (edited by me)

I've only been homeschooling for a year, and I am already sick and tired of hearing the socialization argument.  In fact, I am sick and tired of the word socialization at this point.  It's like the go-to word for those against homeschooling.  I often wonder if this argument has even been thought through.  I would really like to finally dispel this myth that homeschooled kids are anti-social and put the whole issue to bed.

First of all, do you remember your kids before they were school aged?  Remember when they would happily talk to just about anyone and made friends with other toddlers in an instant regardless of their age, size, race, or religion?  I remember this in my children.  They were born naturally sociable, so much so that I was sometimes afraid they might run off with a stranger! They did not need school to make them socialize.  School, in fact, caused my formerly outgoing daughter to become more shy and self-conscious.  After being laughed at, insulted, picked apart, and turned on by friends and teachers at school, kids can become more withdrawn and less trusting.  I am not saying that everyone who goes to school will have these negative experiences or interpret them the same way, but it can happen that school makes one less social.  I have certainly never seen any evidence that it makes people more social.  I am a naturally shy person and going to school did not make me more outgoing!  The bottom line here is that human beings are social animals.  We live in families, commuinities, tribes.  It's in our biology and has been long before the public school system was invented.

Another point I would like to make is that kids do not get to spend much time socializing in school anyway.  As early as preschool, my daughter was not allowed to sit near her friend, not even on the bus when they had a field trip.  The teachers avoid letting friends sit together to keep the classroom quiet.  Recess is a mere twenty minutes.  Lunch is also twenty minutes and less if you have to stand on a lunch line and wait for your food.  I don't know how other schools run but in my daughter's former elementary school she was not allowed to sit with friends from other classes at lunch (so when she wound up in a class with none of her friends she was out of luck) and she would often tell me the lunch aids made them be quiet.  So sure, you meet people in school and you are in the same room with them and it gives you the opportunity to reach out to the people to socialize with outside of school.  However, actually socializing within school happens for 40 minutes at best.  Rarely do you find a teacher and classroom that focuses much on "getting to know you" activities or social skills.  The common attitude is that socializing is for after school and school is for learning.

Here is another enligtening fact: Most homeschoolers are rarely home!  Homeschool moms do just as much running and shuffeling around as public school moms, or more!  Most of the homeschool families I have met do co-ops (places where you have classes with other homeschool kids), music lessons, sports, foreign language classes, museum days, field trips, art and sewing classes, AND MORE!!!  These kids are out and about.  More than that, they are gaining experiences in many different environments and with many different people.

Finally, let's think about where our social skills actually come from.  Where do we find the social experiences that shape us for the rest of our lives?  Do we tend to marry someone who reminds us of our first grade teacher or someone who reminds us of our dad?  Do we wind up re-enacting experiences we witnessed on the playground or experiences we witnessed at home?  Home and family are where socialization comes from.  When you have a secure view of the world based on your home life you will be more social unless some outside trauma interrupts this.  You will learn how to have relationships from your family.  When you have good family relations it sets the tone for the rest of your life.  Working on this at home is the best thing you can do.  I am not saying everyone should homeschool.  In fact, I have a child in public school.  I am just saying that if your child is never home and spending time with you that will be the thing affects him socially.  Shipping him off to school and camp will not replace what he needs to get from his family.  The bottom line here is that the home life shapes future relationships more than school does.

At school, kids learn to blend in.  As they get older they see that there are a few categories (jocks, skaters, nerds, etc) and they have to choose one.  Then they try to make sure they fit into that mold.  They learn quickly that being different gets you negative feedback.  In some ways, this helps one to assimilate to the culture.  In other ways, it is terribly oppressive.  It prevents kids from truly realizing all that they are.  Then, they wind up spending their 20's (and sometimes their whole lives) trying to rediscover themselves.  What kind of social relationships are you having when you have to change in order to be accepted?  In my experience so far, I have found that homeschooled kids seem to have more freedom to be themselves.  They don't have to grow up faster than they want to or pretend to like things they don't really care for.  When they enter into the world of college and work, I think they will have a good sense of themselves and a firm foundation that won't be easily shaken.

In the end, I will say that my homeschooled daughter leads a very active social life.  She has sleepovers just about every weekend with kids from the neighborhood or her extra curricular activities.  She has people over and goes places with her friends.  She is also a member of many organizations and teams like scouts, swimming, band, a library group, and more.  She calls and texts her friends daily and her calendar often has overlap where she needs to miss things because she is so busy being an "unsocialized homeschooler."

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More FREE Lapbooks

This post is about FREE Lapbooks.  However, there are a few affiliate links in this post for books that you can choose to use with the lapbooks (or not).  These are from and if you were to use one of these links to buy a book, I would get paid a very small commission.

I know a lot of people are out of school already, but we are going until the end of June and I plan to work, at least a little each day, through the Summer.  A finished fourth grade science and more than half of fifth grade so I was looking for something sciencey to do outside of the Time 4 Learning curriculum.  I wound up finding this page with lapbooks for every subject and they have a ton of Science.  We are working on Computers now.  Now, it's not all done for you.  The pages ask you questions but it is up to you and your child to find those answers.  So, it takes planning on the teacher's part to figure out where we are going to find the info- whether we want to read, go to the library, look online, or watch a video, and then how to teach it.  

I really love lapbooks. They are fun and crafty and in the end you have a folded up wealth of information you can refer back to later.  We did a lapbook in the beginning of the year on astronomy and we had a blast learning about all the planets.

Homeschool Share also has a lapbook on Oceans here.  This is meant to be used with Amanda Bennet's Ocean book, but I think it can be used without it just as the other lapbooks do not have a text.  I had also picked up a book called Marine Biology, Real Science, Real Kids  that is mainly comprised of field trips and experiments to learn about aquatic life, so I am thinking of putting these together and working on them over the summer when we can take beach trips!

Finally, what A is most excited about are these American Girl Lapbooks!  I also found these on Homeschool Share.  There is a template that can go with any of the girls and books, but the lapboks that look the most fun are designed for the "world" books such as Addy's World, Samatha's World, Felicity's World, Kit's World, etc.  These books do not appear to be in print any longer but Amazon has them mostly from private owners, used, for very cheap.  These books are not so much stories about the girls, but a description of the historic time period in which they lived.  So rather than a literature project, it is more of a history lesson.

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Character Building

This picture is an Amazon affiliate link.  If you click it and buy the product I would be paid a small commission.

I love working on character building with my kids.  This is such an important and often overlooked part of education.  In fact, if I had to choose between my kids growing up with the ability to cope, be happy, and be good people  OR having them be smart and know all their facts, I'd pick the first one.  I want my children to be happy and to lead a full and moral life.

A while back I found the Agape Land videos on Youtube.  You can find them from this user online for free.  The cartoons are adorable.  Yes, they are a little dated, but I prefer older cartoons most of the time anyway and so do my kids.  Each character builder is about 12 minutes long in total.

Then, I was lucky enough to find these free character building lapbooks on Homeschool Share.  Scroll down and you'll see a section for each trait.  I match these up with the movies so that we watch a movie and then do the activities about that trait (or the trait most closely related to it).  It works out great! 

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Free Online Piano Lessons

My daughter joined a homeschool band this year and based upon her age she only had one choice of instrument: the recorder.  The recorder is a really neat instrument and you can play almost anything on it from medieval fugues to the latest pop music.  Aside from the songs her teacher gave her to learn and practice, A was able to play some of "Call Me Maybe" and the Super Mario Theme on her recorder.

Despite all of this cool-ness surrounding the recorder, now that band has ended she refuses to play it at all and swears she is never playing it again. I don't want music to end so I knew I had to come up with something fast.  A has always had a good ear for music, she is a linguistic thinker so she reads music really well, and I think it is a great creative outlet for her.  She gets sick of the rules involved in learning to play like sitting up straight and having to practice every day, but I know she'd be sad down the line if she let this go. I also don't want her to go back to playing music in the fall only to find she is rusty and forgot everything she learned.  I wanted her to stay with music in some capacity.

She received an electronic keyboard for her birthday from my mother-in-law and she expressed an interest in playing piano so we started there.  At first we worked on playing her recorder songs on the keyboard but that got old really quick.  Since I have no experience with the piano I knew I needed to find a teacher for her.  Not wanting to start a new activity we have to go out to, I looked to see if there was anything online and there was.  The best part is it's free!  This way if she sticks with these online lessons and still likes the piano we can pay for an instructor with the peace of mind that comes with knowing she will enjoy it, and if she starts hating it that's fine because we spent nothing and so she can choose something else.

Here are some places I found with free online piano lessons.  I  put them in order of how much I like them:

The Hoffman Academy

Zebra Keys

Piano Nanny

Go Piano

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Movies That Move the Imagination

This post contains sponsored links from Amazon.

I watch a lot of movies with my kids.  Even though I try to make sure my children spend a lot of time outdoors, I like cuddling up and winding down with a movie at the end of the day if we can possibly fit it in (which is usually only on weekends).  We see all the new ones when they make it to "On Demand" or the premium channels and if it's something we are really excited about we'll see it in the theater.  We loved Maleficent and The Muppets, but I find that the majority of new movies for kids follow the same formulas over and over again.  Rarely do I leave a movie with the kids feeling really inspired.  I love the films that stay with us and make a lasting impression.

Here are some of my top picks if you are looking to really stimulate the imagination and have a movie adventure with your kids.

The Never Ending Story- This movie was one of my favorites when I was a kid.  I remember renting the VHS tape over and over again!  It's the story of Bastion who gets a very special book about a place called Fantasia that is made up of all the dreams of children.  Here you'll find talking luck dragons, trolls, and more.  Turns out Fantasia is in trouble and only the boy reading the book can save it! 

Indian in the Cupboard- I never get tired of watching this movie.  A boy gets a cupboard and when he places a toy Indian in it, it comes to life!  Soon there is both a tiny Indian and a tiny cowboy living in his room.  This movie beats out Toy Story any day.

Howls Moving Castle- Words cannot express how much my kids and I enjoyed this movie!  I don't think I have ever experienced more imagination and originality in one film.  The American version also has excellent actors like Christian Bale and Billy Crystal. 

Ponyo- It does not get any cuter than Ponyo. A little fishy turns into a human girl and befriends a boy.  Her dad is a alchemist and her mother is a sea goddess and they do not approve of this transformation.  This movie is amazing for all ages.  It'll make you laugh and cry! 

The Last Unicorn- The only thing that has not stood the test of time in this movie is the terrible 80's ballads, but the strength of the story makes sitting through a couple of bad tunes well worth it.  The last unicorn is turned into a girl.  She and her companions embark on a quest to find out what happened to the other unicorns.  There is a great romance that unfolds but not so much that it will be a turn off to the boys.  There's also plenty of magic and a battle to be won. This is the ultimate unicorn movie.

 If you click on any of these movie links and purchase one,  I would make a very small commission.
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Fox brought back Cosmos, the show that used to be hosted by Carl Sagan "back in the day."  My family and I love this new version even more than the old one.  It is so visually striking and Neil deGrass Tyson encourages viewers to board the ship of the imagination, just as Sagan did, to embark on fascinating adventures.  I think it is so important to remember that imagination is a key element in science.  Einstein said this was more important than knowledge!  Kids should know that being into science does not mean you can't be creative.

Some people in the media have said they have a problem with the show because they feel it discredits or dishonors their religion. I don't see this at all.  I think Cosmos causes one to marvel even more at their Creator.  The more that is revealed about the Universe the more my faith is solidified, personally.  I believe the deep thinking that is triggered by the show can lead people closer to the truth of their Spirituality.  Very little explored on Cosmos is stated as fact, anyway.  Must is theory and speculation, thus why a ship of imagination is used!

The show is on Fox on Sunday nights and again on Nat Geo on Fridays.  You can even watch full episodes online.   This series holds the interest of both my ten and six year old.  It is not boring at all!  The best thing about it is that it makes my kids think, really think, outside the box!  It also puts them in a state of awe, which is a state we should all be in a lot more often!  It is amazing and wonderful to exist, to be alive, to share this beautiful, perfect planet.  It's nice of Cosmos to remind us.

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