Sunday, April 23, 2017

Living Like a Saint~ Saint John Bosco



"If one is to do good, he must have a little courage, be ready for sacrifice, deal affably will all and never slight anybody. By following this method I have always had significant success, in fact, marvelous success."

~ Saint John Bosco





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Friday, April 21, 2017

5 Days of Homeschooling the Middle School Years~ The Importance of Read Alouds

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We all read books aloud to our kids when they were little, but for some reason a lot of parents stop reading to their children once they are reading well on their own. It seems we focus too much on getting them to read independently. This is something we never did. Even after my kids were reading well, we would still sit down together and read books. We read wonderful stories like Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear, Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little. 

Reading aloud to our children is a great way to spend some quality time together. Reading together has been part of our history for many generations. Before the invention of TV and radio, families would gather around the fire and read together. Reading together is such a better way to spend time together than staring at the TV.  Families can share in a variety of adventures and then discuss the stories in depth. When we talk and discuss stories with our children we encourage their growth and the process thinking. We are helping our children develop their mind, morals, and values.

Reading aloud will help children build a rich and strong vocabulary. In everyday conversation, we often don't use words that we find in stories. We use slang. We certainly don't describe things in the way an author would in a story.  They use more descriptive words and often bring the picture to life in our heads. In everyday conversation, we use talk to get the point out.

Another important reason to read aloud to older children is we can read more advanced books to them. Reading skills differ from listening skills. Children typically read at their age level or slightly above or below, but their listening skills are usually a few years ahead. The difference between the reading and listening skill tends to differ until about the 8th grade. When older kids listen to stories being read, they can enjoy books that they couldn't read on their own or would find too difficult to read. This could be very helpful to a struggling reader!

I love to read. I was a slow beginner in the reading world, but once I got the hang of it I was hooked. I waned to pass this love of reading on to my children. Reading aloud together encourages their love of reading! They see everyone coming together and sharing in a charming tale or a wild adventure. Reading can take us anyplace we want to go!

Till Next Time,
Monique


5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

5 Days of Homeschool~ 10 Things to Know About Homeschooling Middle School

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As we wind down our second year of middle school homeschooling and preparing for our 3rd year, there are a few things I think I have finally figured out! At least I hope so.

1. Dig a little deeper into the subjects~ Don't be afraid to go into more depth. Offer your students harder material if they are ready. Add on to the lessons if they seem too bored. I love searching the internet and books for ideas. This is a great time to get the kids more involved and offer hands-on projects they can complete on their own,

2. Start preparing them for high school..grades, tests, reports, etc.~ For us this meant more graded assignments. I add to our lessons more worksheets, tests, reports, and projects. By finally seeing grades, the kids were able to see where they were struggling and were they were thriving. At the end of the year, they both will be given their first report card! I think they are a little nervous about this. Thankfully it's still middle school. Having graded assignments and a report will help them get ready for the graded and transcripts kept during high school. It's our trial run.

3. Encourage their interests or passions~ This is were some students will start to show an interest in certain subjects. This is a fantastic time to expose them more to the things they love. Do they enjoy sports? Drama and theater? Do they enjoy building things? Have them join clubs and groups that help them grow in their interests. Summer camps, co-ops, special events held at museums! The more they are exposed to things, the more they will see what they enjoy or not enjoy doing. We all know how preteens can be. Encourage them to give things a try even if they don't want to. Too often we hear."I won't like it!" How do they know if they've never given it a shot. Now I'm not saying put you non-athletic child in football. That would not be a good thing. We don't want to torture them.

4. Focus on life skills and character building~ Chores and life skills. Now is the time to teach the kids every day lessons. Can they cook? Can they do laundry? Sew a button on? Iron their shirts? Take care of animals? Fix a flat tire? Can they use basic tools? Paint? In today's world so many kids have no real life skills. I always wonder about hose kids who have no chores or life skills. How will they survive on their own. Are mommy and daddy always going to be there? I would hope not. My goal as a parent is get my children ready for the "real" world. I want them to leave the nest and flourish. I would never want to keep them locked up and in a small cocoon. They need to spread their wings and fly away.

5. Expose them to subjects that are of interest to them~ For example, Michael loves anything to do with animals and science. We've increased his science classes, signed him up for special science camps, and taken field trips that will help fuel his passion. We've already started looking into careers that he may want to pursue and what he would need to achieve his dream. Our local vet has even offered my kids a chance to go down and shadow her for a day. Real hands on learning! By exposing them to these things, they see that they are eager to learn more or they discover that they really don't enjoy it. 

6.Give them opportunities for hands on learning & opportunities for presentation~ This benefits both mom and students. Hands-on learning can lead to more independence and can give mom a little more free time while achieving that goal of them learning on their own. Having them figure things out and come up with a plan is essential for their advance learning. A great way to do this is art projects, science experiments, etc. Our local library has offers a homeschool exhibit where local homeschoolers can display projects. It reminds me of the science fairs we had back in school. Another opportunity to show of their work is the county fair. They have halls were students display art work, photography, science displays, their animals, etc.

7. Offer great literature~ For me this means classics and books that are not filled with frivolous junk. We don't read a lot of current books. As my kids say,,,"They are boring and filled with stupid ideas." I mean how many vampire and zombie books can one kid read! We need books that will help broaden our child's mind not limit it. Reading great books increases our child's vocabulary, helps their writing style, and helps them learn proper grammar. The benefits are endless. Do we really want a generation that can only read their text messages? Oh my, that's a scary thought.

8. Be prepared for the middle school slump~ This is real folks. I thought it was just my kids, but after talking to other moms they confirmed my worst fears. Your eager sweet child suddenly wants to do very little work. They complain and say its boring. They suddenly put very little effort into their school work. It's frustrating and you often feel like pulling your hair out. They say it will pass. I'm not so are since we are still in the middle of it. To help us get through this period I've change a few ways we do things. We do religion, math, and English first thing that way they're bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to go! They eat their second breakfast and head outdoors with the dog for 15. Fresh air does a body good. After that they work on a few of the subjects in whatever order they want to. We then break for lunch. After lunch we come back and do history and science. We work on projects and experiments. This keeps them a more involved.

9. Stay in contact with friends~ This is the time kids need their friends! Homeschooling doesn't allow for daily visits for many of us, but we always try to have them see their friends at least once a week. We have some weeks with co-op classes, field trips, and clubs that they see them almost every day. They need that time away from siblings,dad, and mom. It's nice when they can get together to hang out. They can play group games like dodge ball, kickball, tag, etc. They can just sit and talk about whatever the young kids are talking about. Close bonds can and are often formed. I still remember sitting in my best friends room as a 12 year old discussing all types of things. It was nice to have someone who understand what you were feeling or thinking. Thirty plus years later, I still talk to my best friend. I couldn't imaging my life without her.

and finally 

10. You're not alone out there!~ Find a few moms who can offer advice, an ear to bend, or at some times a shoulder to cry on. Just like with the kids, we too as parents need someone to offer advice and support. I love when I can get together with my mom friends and talk about homeschooling, our faith, the wold we live in over a warm cup of tea!


Till Next Time,
Monique

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

5 Days of Homeschool~ How to Encourage Independent Learning

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you.


We can read every article we find about the importance of independent learning with students, but we all know that it's essential for them to grow and thrive in the world around them. We won't always be there to hold there hand. As parents, our goal is to see our children succeed. 

Independent learning doesn't happen over night. Some children achieve the goal faster than others. They seem to have a natural ability to thrive when they are left to there own devices. They love discovering new and figuring things out. Other children have to be led. They need to be taught how to work independently. They just don't seem to know how to stay on track. They can't focus and have no idea how to manage their time well. I have one of each of these children. Therese seems to know have to manage her time well, while Michael seems to be having a little more difficulty getting into the routine of it all.

This past year, we have been focusing on getting both children to be more independent in their learning. One resource we found to help was an assignment book or planner. Therese has used her planner religiously through out the year. She writes down her assignments and when they are do. She goes back and crosses them off once she has completed them. She has stayed on top of everything and hasn't missed a due date. The planner didn't work for Michael. He didn't like how it worked. He'd fill in the necessary assignments with their due dates, but would never go back and check it. He missed quite a few due dates. He was banned from all electronics for his lack of completed work. His excuse was he just never thought to check the book. Maybe a digital planner on his tablet would work better, but we haven't tried that yet. What we did try was writing down his assignments into a notebook. For some reason this work for him. Maybe it was because he's used to looking at a notebook, maybe because it's bigger and he didn't misplace it as much. Whatever the reason, this option worked for him. He knew what was due and slowly worked through the list. He was still late with a few due dates, but he did eventually complete them all. Using a planner or assignment book does take time to get used to. The children are still trying to figure things out. Just be patient and they will eventually get it down.

Since we homeschool the majority of our subjects together, the kids only have a few classes they do independently from each other. We did add a few workbook style books this year to help encourage independent learning. Geography and Editor in Chief are two books the kids get to work through on their own. Therese has worked ahead, while Michael has chosen to work at the assigned pace. Flexible scheduling allows them to work on assignments and projects own their own. We start each day with prayer, Religion,Math (done independently, but done at the same time), and English. These three are done together. History and science are introduced together, but then they can work through the assignment on their own at their own speed. When they are done with them, they move onto Geography and Editor in Chief. This freedom and flexibility allows them both to work at a speed they are comfortable with. Usually one is done faster than the other, but that's O.K. Whether their work is done quickly or drug out for hours is up to them. They are in charge with how much free time they get in the afternoon hours. They can chose to have school done by lunch time or dinner time.

Independent classes or projects are a great way to encourage independent learning. Not all students are going to have similar taste in what they what to learn about. Even when the kids were little, they showed distinct difference. Michael loved dinosaurs, while Therese loved horses. Offering them chances to learn about topics and subjects that interest them often leads to independent learning. They can read books about the subjects, complete a project to go along with it. Notebook journaling and lapbooks are great for this. Of course writing a paper or giving a report is a fantastic assignment for this age group.

Give them a little more independence. Encourage them to handle some of their own outside commitments. Get them involved with volunteering at your church. They can join the children's choir, be an alter server, an usher, and aid in the younger children's religious education classes. They can volunteer to help with church functions, at a local food bank, library, etc. Have them purchase their own items at the store. Make them talk to leaders of groups and other adults. Ideally this should have been going on before this age, but practicing social skills are important. Getting them involved in clubs like 4-H, Little Flowers, Blue Knights, Trail Guides, and church youth groups are a wonderful way to get them out there. The skills they learn in these clubs and groups can help them in the future.

How do you encourage independent learning?




Till Next Time,
Monique

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Homeschool Crew Review~ Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) from Apologia Educational Ministries

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you. 





Over the past few weeks, Therese has been working through a new homeschool reading program from Apologia Educational Ministries called Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth). Readers in Residence Volume 1 is a new reading program created by Debra Bell.


Apologia Educational Ministries


Apologia Educational Ministries is a well trusted homeschooling curriculum company. I'm sure you've heard of the. They offer students and parents a variety of curriculum. Students can learn science, geography, history, language arts, bible, and worldviews. Families can also find wonderful resources like planners and homeschool helpers. 


Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence


For this review, we received the Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) full set. 

The full set comes with 2 books.
All in One Student Text & Workbook
Teacher Answer Key

Readers in Residence Volume 1 is geared for students in 4th grade and up. The program was created to help students process and understand what they are reading. Readers in Residence (RIR) is a reading comprehension, literature, and vocabulary curriculum all wrapped into one. RIR exposes students to great literature!  The program can be used with Writing in Residence. If used with Writers in Residence, students will have a a full years worth of language arts curriculum.  The nice thing about both programs is they can be used alone too!


Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence

Readers in Residence will introduce students to the following topics while having them read great literature.

How to Understand the Arthur's Thoughts, Choices, and Intentions
How to Recognize Literary Elements
Learn and Understand Figures of Speech
Differences Between Fiction and Non-Fiction
How to Bring Previous Experiences and Prior Knowledge into their Understanding of Stories
Learn New Vocabulary 
How to Figure Out Context of Unknown Words
Learn How Writers Use Punctuation, Capitalization, and Grammar to Achieve Understanding
The book is broken up into 6 units. Each unit has 1 to 4 chapters. The units cover various literary topics that the student will learn about. There are three books used throughout this program....Sarah, Plain and Tall, Charlotte's Web, and Because of Winn Dixie. These books will need to be purchased separately to be used along with the student text and workbook.
What We Thought of Readers in Residence Volume 1?
So far, we have enjoyed the program. We've completed Sarah, Plain and Tall and are currently working on Charlotte's Web. A few years ago, Therese was having difficulty with reading comprehension and struggled with her reading abilities. Readers in Residence Volume 1 has been a great way to help further her knowledge of comprehension and get her to dig a little deeper into the book she is reading. She's learning to understand the plot and the meanings hidden in the stories. I love how the program encourages students to strengthen their literary skills. RIR brings great literature to life for the students. I love how the literary topics introduced are taught.They are introduced in way that makes the information easy for the student to understand. It allows the student to take that knowledge and apply it to the book they are reading, and hopefully apply it to future books they will read. When students have the knowledge and want to read great books, the world is limitless.
Therese has enjoyed the books used in this program tremendously. She's already read Charlotte's Web before but is always willing to reread it. She is looking forward to reading Because of Winn Dixie. I have enjoyed reading the books along with her. It allows us to discuss the books more thoroughly.
I love that the student text and workbook are all in one! It makes it easier to keep rack for the book. No need to search for two different books.
It is recommended to use the program as a book club with friends. We didn't do that. We did an online book club with fellow reviewers, but sadly we have not participated yet. We have just been too busy with everything else. Therese and I have discussed the books together. I can see how having a book club could help students grow in their understanding, plus it would be fun to engage in the social events suggested in the book. With Sarah, Plain and Tall, a themed party is suggested. Wild flowers used as decorations was just one idea. Since it was winter, we didn't have any to use.
This would be a wonderful program to use in a homeschool co-op.  I think it would be a fantastic educational class filled with fun hands on activities!


Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence

Find out more about Readers in Residence Volume 1!
Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}
Till Next Time,
Monique
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5 Days of Homeschool~ How We've Adjusted to the Middle School Years

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you.


Since entering the middle school years, we've changed a few things but kept many of the things we've been doing. Teaching middle school doesn't have to be scary. I promise.

One of the big changes, I made in our homeschooling was taking our schooling a little more seriously. I look at the middle school years as practice for our transition into high School. I've increased their writing papers and have actually started grading more of their work. This was the first year that I actually gave the kids a report card to see how they were doing. The report card was a real eye opener to the them. They were able to see how a few good grades can be drastically changed with just one bad grade.

Greater independence with their schoolwork has been an important step for me this year. I want them to be able to think for themselves and learn how to manage their time. I'll be honest this is not going as well as I hoped. I've seen improvements as the year has gone on, but in the beginning it was a nightmare. At the start of the year, I bought each child a student planner. They were to use that planner to write done homework from their science co-op class and any homework that they may receive from me. Papers, book reports, workbook pages they can work on their own, etc. I will admit Therese has done exceptionally well with this. She often works ahead. Michael on the other hand, has struggled with managing his time. I added two workbook like curriculum to their learning this year. Memoria Press Geography and Editor in Chief. AT the beginning of the week I assign certain pages, it's their responsibility to complete the assigned pages by the end of the week. This gives them some accountability. I have tried to encourage some independent learning,but I haven't let them go completely off on their own. They still need guidance and will still have questions. They are not adults just yet. They are children still trying to find their way through this crazy world we live in. They will still need a loving word, a kind gesture, and the knowledge that you will always be their for them. The subjects are getting more difficult. The fears and frustrations are there. 
Since school is getting more difficult, do't forget the fun hands-on projects. Many kids still learn better doing a hands-on project. Last year while learning about the different biomes, I have the children create their own biomes. They used old shoe boxes, items we found around the house, a few and items from the dollar. They had to do heir own research to see what would be in each biome. They had a blast and really got into the project. Independent learning, researching on their own, and a fun project. It was a win! Just because the classes are getting more difficult and more information is being introduced, ti doesn't mean that the fun has to stop. 

Over the years, I have always tried to get Michael and Therese to give me topics they would love to study. This was a lot easier when they were little and we were doing our unit studies during the summer months. Everyone was able to study something they loved, even mama! It's a little trickier now that they are older. If they were working independently it would be easier. We do the majority of our subjects together. I still try to include at least one subject each one wants to learn about. The other student just goes along for the ride. I'm currently planning for next year and I'm eagerly waiting to see what they want to learn about next year.

Park days and play dates are a thing of the past. Gone are they days when you see them zoom down the slide. I miss those days, but a new day has dawned. They kids now get to hang out with their friends and us mamas actually get to socialize. While the kids hang out, we get to sip our tea while it's still hot and actually have an adult conversation. Seeing their friends is important. They need time away from mom and dad.They need time away from each other. Preteen and teenage moodiness is no joke. They need time to unwind and just do things with their friends.

Don't forget to plan field trips! This is a great time for filed trips. You can now skip the firehouse and head t more educational places. A lot of places actually offer classes to go along with the trip. Now that they are older, they can handle more in depth field trips. They can now walk further and sit still during a talk about a civil war battle field. All those places they thought were boring before are now on the table. It's wonderful way to spend time as a family as well. You're making memories!

The middle schools can bring a few challenges, but they can also bring you closer together. We often get told to enjoy the years when they are little. It goes by so quickly we're told. They're only little once. It does, but so do the teen years. I only have 6 more years until my babies are off to college.  Enjoy the young adults you're sweet babies are becoming. 
Nurture them and you'll be amazed even more at what God and you have created.



Till Next Time,
Monique


5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

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Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Days of Homeschool~Homeschooling the Middle School

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you.



The Middle School years generally refer to 6th through 8th grade. This is our second year into the middle school years. Last year, I joined the ranks of many other homeschooling moms when Michael entered 6th grade. This year, I was lucky enough to have Therese enter into middle school. Now I have TWO in middle school. It's kind of funny... years ago I thought middle school and high school were far away, but I was wrong. Those years arrived a lot faster than I thought they would.

Homeschooling the middle school years is like entering a new dimension. Your sweet little children suddenly are becoming young adults. They are experiencing a variety of emotional and physical changes. They have ideas of their own and are starting to express their independence. This can be done in a positive way, but for many of them they suddenly have emotions they don't understand. Those sweet loving children are mouthy, angry, crying over little things, etc. You often sit there wondering where those cute chubby cheeked kids went to. Hormones can reek havoc in a house. Patience is the key. Counting to ten, praying a Hail Mary (or 10) can help a mom diffuse a situation.

Our kids are trying out their new legs. They're trying to figure out who they are, what they want to do, and how they fit into the world around them. This is were we can help them out. We can help them learn more academically of course. We can teach them practical skills they will need in life, and we can teach them the importance of morals and values. We can help them build up their Godly character. Our goal as parents is to help our children reach eternal life with Jesus and become a saint in Heaven.

One thing I found that helped me with entering the middle school years was setting goals for our schooling and the kids. I like making list. It helps me stay organized and on plan a habit I want my kids to pick up. The goals I made for Michael and Therese helped us focus on what was important. They had clear goals in mind. I made sure that they had a say in some of their goals. Did they want to try a new sport, learn a new hobby, learn a specific topic in school. I encouraged them to look at what interested them, what they may want to study in the future, or something new and different they wanted to learn about or experience. This is the time for them to explore new things.

Don't be scared!
Will things get a little tricky at times?
Sure!
Every stage of homeschooling and child rearing has its ups and downs. Just remember that it can still be fun. You may not be making lots of crafts and playing anymore, but you are learning who your children are. The conversations and two discussions you can are amazing. How we handle this important time in our child's life will determine our relationship with our kids. We can become closer and build a stronger foundation; or we can weaken our relationship, allow it to become stressful, and slowly let it deteriorate.


Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry
~ Padre Pio



Be sure to stop by and see what the other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are blogging about!
Just click the link below...

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
Till Next Time,
Monique

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