Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Inspiration~ August 25, 2019

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review~ My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping

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.

It's that time of year again. 
Time to plan and keep track of all that important information needed to homeschool successfully. Recently, I was given the opportunity to review the Annual Membership Plan from My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping. This is our second time reviewing this online planner. They've made a few changes since we reviewed them last, so I'm eager to see what the new program is like.
Are looking for an online planner?
Well, stick around and see if this one is right for you!

For this review, I was given a annual membership for My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping. An annual membership costs $50 for the entire year or you can pay month to month. The monthly rate is $5 a month. If an annual membership is purchased, families can save 17%. Be sure to check the companies website for current and up-to-date pricing. If you're not sure if the planner is right for your family, don't worry the company does offer a 1 month free trial. This helps families see if this planner works for everyone.

In addition to the good, old-fashioned paper and pen planners I've been using, I've also used another online homeschool planner. Even though I like my fancy paper planner and my current online planner, I was more than willing to give My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping a try. Maybe I'd fall for the new features.

My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping is an online planner geared specifically for homeschooling families.  Homeschool families can use this planner to organize their lessons and daily lives. This online planner can help homeschooling families become more organized, more efficient, and more focused. Families can keep track of classes, lessons, co-op classes, extracurricular activities, field trips, book lists, clubs, awards, etc. It keeps everything in one location at your finger tips.

Lesson Plan Generators
Lesson Re-scheduler
Lesson Sharing
Attendance Tracking
Automated Grading

Reading Logs/Lists
Extra-curricular Activities
Standardized Tests

Lesson Plans
Course Descriptions
Report Cards

Families can customize their planner to fit their needs. Parents can adjust the grading scale and grading weight for different assignments. Parents and students can receive email notifications of assignments, upcoming events, and appointments. Classes can be set up as a core class or an elective. For older students, parents can set up dual enrollment and honors classes. My School Year has so many options and features for families to use. It actually can be a little intimidating when you first visit their site. 

What Did I Think of My School Year?

The initial set up for the school was super easy. I created an account, logged into that account, and followed the steps of the Registration Wizard. I set up our start date and end date. I marked out holidays, days off, and vacations.  

I assigned the dates for the 4 quarters. I set up both students with their classes. 
All this was fairly easy to do.

When I went to enter the student's lessons is when things got a little tricky. The problem I encountered was the actual lesson planning. 

I found 3 main options for adding lessons. I could add each lesson one at a time or use the create-a-plan. The create-a-plan option allows lessons to be added in Quick Split and Rapid Repeat. 

Quick Split~ will divide up the material into evenly distributed lessons. This is perfect for books.

Rapid Repeat~ will create a pre-selected number of lessons. This is great for chores, practices, or repetitive lessons.

Neither option in the create-a-plan worked form us. For basic and simple lessons that repeat again these options seemed to work, but for detailed lessons that varied every day it just wasn't working. I had to go back to add a lesson option. 

I couldn't figure out how to add individual lessons without having to go through too many steps. I don't have lessons that repeat day in and day out. Since I encourage my kids to try to work independently, I want them to be able to read their morning email and know exactly what to do. For me to put in detailed lesson plans for each day, I was having to click way too many buttons to just add one day. Once the lessons for that one day was added, I had to go through the whole process again for the entire year. I was having to add 100+ lessons one at a time with multiple steps. It wasn't confusing, it just was a giant hassle and took too much time. I couldn't figure out how to add bulk lesson plans on one page. It's a little too tedious to have to add each lesson plan, search for the date, click add, and then start the entire whole process again for the next lesson. Being able to do it all on one page and then click add would be a lot easier. Maybe I missed the instructions for this somewhere or didn't understand something I read. I searched and read all the helps for creating lessons, but they just didn't solve the problem I was having. This is the one area I disliked about My School Year.

Overall, My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping is great. I love all the different reports I can create. Transcripts, report cards, course descriptions etc. They are great for keeping all those high school records you need for college. I love how I can track books, test scores, outside classes, field trips, clubs, volunteer work, etc. I have to say they have thought of everything. 

With so many things to add to the planner, the instructional videos are a must. There is no way, you can sit down and know all that this planner has or understand how to add everything. There is a HUGE learning curve with this program. Be patience and take a few days to watch the videos. They will help! I'm still figuring things out! I remember from the last time I reviewed the planner that set up was rather confusing. It no longer is. The confusion comes when trying to add lessons. I still think they could improve this area a little. Maybe make the process less confusing and easier to to accomplish.

I'm still working through the planner and figuring out all that it has, but overall I am pleased with the new program. I'm hoping I'll have it all figured out by the time school starts in a few weeks!

Need more information about My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping online planner? 
Click below and see what the rest of the crew had to say about this new and improved planner.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Happy Homemaker Monday~ August 19, 2019

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.

Good Morning! 
I hope y'all had a wonderful weekend. We had a fun weekend. Therese and I went shopping on Saturday and had a great day out together. It's always nice to have a girl's day out. We both got some new outfits for fall. My main goal heading out was to find a pair of jeans that fit well. I always have a problem with jeans fitting right. I was thrilled to find 3 pairs that I loved. 
On Sunday, we had a relaxing morning. We head to Mass in the evening and then the kiddos head to youth group. My hubby and I had a date night while the kids were hanging with friends. We enjoyed our Mexican dinner and catching up. While we were out, it stormed for a bit, but we were then greeted with a rainbow at the end.

Enough about the weekend, let's get on with Happy Homemaker Monday. Be sure to stop in and say hi to Sandra over at Diary of a Stay at Home. 

~ The Weather~

It's hot and humid here at the moment. With the heat index, it going to feel like it's in the triple digits. We'll see temps like this for most of the week, but will be getting a reprieve by Friday! I'll be looking forward to the cooler weather. I'm ready for fall. I want to open the widows and air out the house a bit.

Monday~ Partly Cloudy, 92*
Tuesday~ Scattered Thunderstorms, 91*
Wednesday~ Scattered Thunderstorms, 89*
Thursday~ Scattered Thunderstorms, 89*
Friday~ Partly Cloudy, 80*
Saturday~ Partly Cloudy, 76*
Sunday~ Partly Cloudy, 78*

~What's for Breakfast~ 

Coffee and a buttered gluten free English muffin. I sneaked a few chocolate cover raisins too.

~On My Nightstand~

My glasses and a bottle of lotion.

~What I'm Doing Right Now~

Typing up this post and cuddling with a big, black lab. She is glued to my leg and is sound asleep snoring away. 

~What I'm Reading~

I finished up a few books and started a new one. I'm currently reading two books at the moment. 

Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank


The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery

~What's on TV~

BH 90210
I decided to watch the second episode of the Beverly Hills 90510 reboot. It was slightly better than the first episode. I may give it a try for a while. 

Therese and I have been watching the reruns on TV. I love watching this show. It reminds me of my days living in New York. I love my country life now, but I sure do miss certain things from big, city life.

~On the Menu This Week~

Smoked Sausage with peppers and onions

Honey Mustard Chicken, Potatoes, Green Beans

Lemon Chicken Patties with Rice

Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Peas

Potato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Not sure yet

Roasted Chicken, Scalloped Potato, Salad

~On the To Do List~

Nail appointment... my nails desperately need it. 
Doctor's appointment
Classroom set up for my religious class

~Around the House~

Donation drop off (outgrown clothes)
Finish organizing the schoolroom

~What I'm Sewing or Creating~

Nothing this week. Therese gets her wisdom teeth removed, so I'll be busy with her.

~From the Camera~

Not a great picture of Mr. Fluffy Pants, but he sure does look content. He was staring at our other male cat. They had been playing and I think they were debating on pouncing on each other again. When those two get going, it sounds like a heard of elephants running through the house. 

~Quote for the Week~

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Review~ CTCMath

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 years, we've tried quite a few math programs. Some were traditional, while others were online. One thing I've learned over the years is that it's always best to find what works the best with your individual student. A few weeks ago, we were given the opportunity to review the Family Membership from CTCMath. The family membership we received was a 12 month subscription for up to 5 family members.  

CTCMath is an online math program created by Pat Murray. As a homeschooling father of 10 children, he knew there was a need to create a math program that was different from anything else out there. He wanted to create a math program that was geared to different learning styles and more importantly not boring for the students. This desire led him to create a program that had short, interactive lessons that appealed to a wide variety of learning styles. CTCMath is geared for students in grades Kindergarten through 12th. The program is currently used by more than 200,00 students! 

How Does CTCMath Work

CTCMath is an online math program. After paying for a subscription, moms (or dads) will set up accounts for each of their students. Students will then be able to log into their individual accounts to complete the daily lessons. Each student will have his'her own username and password. They can log in on their computers, phones, or tablets. The student dashboard allows students to see their assignments, assigned tasks, tests, and speed drills that will help with math memorization! Students can play catch up, stay on target with their math, or move ahead. The program moves at the students own pace allowing them to master the skills they are learning.

The lessons are presented in short video lectures for the students to watch. They can also read the lecture in note form. They can download them in a pdf form and print them out for future reference.

After watching the video lecture, students will then work through the assigned problems. The problems are interactive and online.  A worksheet can be printed out for further practice and reference. For Algebra 1, the questions have been multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank. Michael preferred the fill-in-the-blank. He usually gets 10 to 12 questions to answer. Michael did need a separate notebook to work through the program. He would complete the work in the notebook and then type in the answer on the computer. He also needed a scientific calculator. 

While the students work through the program, they'll be able to track their progress and see exactly how they are doing. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your student. If they're doing well, it can lead to encouragement. If they are doing poorly, it can lead to frustration and discouragement. 

CTCMath offers a full online math curriculum. Students can work through a wide variety of courses.

Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
Grade 6
Basic Math and Pre-Algebra
Elementary Measurement
Elementary Geometry
Algebra 1
Algebra 2

After the students complete the sections they are working on, they receive different awards.

A perfect score of 100%

Average grade of 95% or higher

Average grade of 85-94%

The grade is based on the average of each lesson. Students are able to repeat a lesson if they do poorly on a lesson. The program doesn't just give the student a 100% then. It takes the average of the grades and calculates the students grade. The only way to achieve a 100% is to score it on the first attempt of the lesson. Students must achieve an 85% or higher on a lesson to move on.

These awards can be printed out for school records or if the student wants to display it. This is a great incentive for younger students. I found my highschooler was not all that interested in me printing it out. I wasn't overly shocked by his choice.

A new feature that CTCMath now offers is the Wizard Question Bank. This allows parents to create custom-made worksheets for students to complete that go along with the lessons. Parents are able to select the topics to cover, the number of questions to answer, and the time frame they have to complete it. This is great for added comprehension of the lesson.

Parents have their own separate log in to track their students. This area is called the Parent's Dashboard. Here parents can what lessons their students have completed, how they scored on the lesson, and see detailed reports on how they did on each question. Parents can also schedule lesson for students to complete for the week. I didn't use this section, since I already use a different online planner. I added my children's lessons into that planner. 

How Did We  Use CTCMath

For this review, Michael worked through the Algebra 1 lessons. I was looking for a curriculum that could help him learn Algebra 1 and get him through the course. We'd used a few other curriculum during the past year, but he just wasn't focused. I was hoping to catch him up and move him on to Geometry. Math comes extremely easy to him and he gets bored rather quickly. He likes learning math in a real world point of view. Throughout the past few weeks, he has progressed through the program. He's done an average of 1 to 2 lessons a day. He logged in on his tablet and worked through the program on that. We did have a problem with the video lectures loading. On most days, he would give up and read the lesson notes and examples. He did comment that he wished there were more detailed notes for those students who didn't have great internet. 

~Michael's Thought~
Easy to log in 
Lessons were short 
Not too many problems to work through
Still doesn't like online math programs...he did say this one was better than any other he had worked on

~My Thoughts~
I'm still up on the air with this one. I haven't seen any real improvement in Michael's grades or interest in math. I know he can score higher, but I don't see him taking this program all that seriously. I'm not sure if he's truly comprehending new concepts being taught. To me, the lessons seem too short and simple, especially for high school math. If he wasn't math orientated, I'd be afraid he'd be falling behind. This program may be perfect for a more visual learner, but Michael is definitely more hands on. I'm thinking he may need to go back to his old-fashion textbook and just complete Algebra 1 that way. I wish CTCMath had been a better fit for our family, but I just don't think it's working for Michael. I loved what I saw when I logged in and looked through the younger grades. The lessons seemed fun and thorough!

I didn't have Therese try CTCMath this time. She did use a few years ago when we reviewed and did well. We didn't stay with the program however. We found a different program that worked well for her and used that. Since, we have a program that works well for her, I wasn't going to have her change!

Discover more about CTCMath! 
Visit their website or social media accounts.

Want to learn more about the various grades CTCMath has to offer?
Click below and read a few amazing reviews from other crew members.

Math 12-month Family Membership {CTCMath Reviews 2019}

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Inspiration~ August 18, 2019

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.

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Choosing a Catholic High School Curriculum {Not Back 2 School Blog Hop}

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.

Finding the right curriculum for your child can be tough, especially if your a Catholic family. Many of the big curriculum companies are protestant and not always friendly when it comes to Catholics. Resources for Catholic families have grown, but we just don't have the selection like the rest of the homeschooling families out there. 

1. Mother of Divine Grace

Mother of Divine Grace uses a Catholic, classical approach to learning. The program follows the natural pattern of a child's learning process. The main focus of the curriculum is to teach the children how to think and apply their knowledge. Families can enroll with the school to receive counseling and tutoring or they can follow the curriculum on their own. They offer materials and lessons for grades Kindergarten through 12th. We've used the religion books recommended by Mother of Divine Grace. The books provide students with a strong understanding of their faith. If you're interested in knowing more about the Catholic faith ir just want to really know what are beliefs are, I definitely recommend reading the high school religion books by Fr. John Laux.

2. Seton

Seton Home Study School is based out of Virginia. Their approach to learning is a classic, scholastic style. Families have the option of enrolling or just using the curriculum on their own.  The company is nationally accredited and covers grades Pre-K through 12th. The early years curriculum is a workbook style, but changes once the students get to high school. It's known for being rigorous and developing great learners. We've never officially enrolled int he program, but have used a few of their workbooks over the years. There spelling and English workbooks are fantastic. I look over their high school literature suggestions when creating my students list. 

3. Mater Ambalis

Mater Ambalis is a free Catholic Charlotte Mason program. The curriculum is broken up into levels. The Pre-Level starts with children ages 4 to 6 and the program continues on until high school. This program is very heavy in reading and uses real life books to teach children. We used levels 1 and 2 when the kids were little. My kids didn't enjoy the lessons, so we ended up adapting the lessons to fit our needs. I did look at the high school books and lessons to plan out my own students high school path. 

4. Kolbe Academy

Kolbe Academy is an orthodox Catholic curriculum. The company offers curriculum for students in grades Kindergarten through 12th. Kolbe Academy is a full service curriculum provider and book store. Families can fully enroll in homeschool courses, online courses, or purchase individual courses to use. We've never used Kolbe before, but I've heard things about the company from others who have.

5. RC History

RC History is a Catholic, classical program. This one we know a lot about. We've used this program for the past few years.This company is not an all-in-one curriculum. It's main focus is religion and history with a little bit of science thrown in. The required reading books for the older ages are great for an Honors English class. This is our second year using RC history for high school. Both my kids will be reading books like Don Quixote and The Three Musketeers. The program is divided in to 4 years and is taught in chronological order. The best part is families can be taught the \same subject at he same time. Each year is broken up into 4 levels...Beginner (K-3rd), Grammar (4th-6th), Logic (7th-9th), and Rhetoric (10th-12th). This our second time working through this history time period. We started when the kids where in the Grammar stage and are currently in the Logic and Rhetoric stage. 

6. Homeschool Connections

Homeschool Connections is well known and loved by everyone that uses it. Sadly with out limited internet access, we are not able to participate in the live classes. We'd have to head to the library every day just to get our school work done. We would definitely be using this program if we could. They offer recorded and live classes for middle and high school students. They even offer dual enrollment for high school students through Franciscan University in Steubenville.

7. Memoria Press

Memoria Press is not Catholic, but is a Christian company. They offer a wide variety of resources for homeschoolers. Families can purchase a packaged curriculum or buy certain books to use for various subjects. We've used their Latin program, Literature study guides, science books, and geography books over the years. The program is a classical approach to education. They offer lessons for Kindergarten to 12th grade. 

8. Our Lady of Victory 

Our Lady of Victory provides Catholics homeschooling curriculum and books. The company has been a leader in the Catholic homeschooling community since 1977. They offer Catholic families a traditional education to raise steadfast Catholic children.

9. Rolling Acres School

Rolling Acres School is an online Catholic classical curriculum. They offer resources for co-op programs, online programs, and at home programs. They currently have full enrollement for 7th-9th grades. 

10. St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas is a classical liberal arts curriculum. They offer curriculum for students in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. They offer course plans and high school study guides. Families can enroll and receive report cards and transcripts.

2019 Annual Not Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Socialization It Really Is Not That Hard {Not Back 2 School Blog Hop}

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.

It's a such a big word and people have definite ideas and opinions on what socialization is. Whether you're a newbie or a veteran homeschooler, I'm sure you've heard the questions about socialization!

What will your children do for friends?
How will they ever learn how to talk to people?
Aren't you worried that they'll be lonely? 
You're child will be a social outcast!

Then they go on and on about that one, weird homeschooler they met and how he could't talk to anyone and just stared down at his feet. He was awkward, was dressed weird and they felt so bad for him. The poor dear.

Well, after 12 years of homeschooling, I have to say I'm no longer worried about the lack socialization homeschoolers supposedly get or don't get. Sure we've had some years when things were slower than others, but there have been years when we were too busy.
It was almost impossible to fit school in!

So what have we done over the years for socialization?
Well, you're in luck. Today I'm going to share a few ways we've found over the years.

1. Homeschool Support Groups

When we first started homeschooling, I joined two different support groups. One was a secular group, while the other one was part of a local Catholic church. Both groups offered field trips, park days, and parties to attend. This was a great way for the kids to just get out and play with their friends. Sure park days may stop when the kids get older, but they can till get together for field trips and to play a round of kickball. Over the summer both kids enjoyed hanging with their friends at the pool. I have already joined an local group that is planning field trips just for high school students. A local mom asked if there was any interest and she received quite a few yeses. So far, the field trips she has planned look great!

2. Homeschool Co-ops

We've participated in 4 different co-ops over the years. In fact, we joined a new one this year for the kids to take a science class and a few other classes as well. Over the years, the kids have learned art, music, science, history, government, etc. Some of the classes were large and met all day, while others were small and only met for a few hours a week. All you need is a few friends to get together to hold a class. It's not that hard to organize and get started.

3. Sports

This is an easy one if your child is into sports. Over the years, the kids have participated in our counties sport programs. Soccer, baseball, and swim have been taken. Therese even did a year of ballet! Now both kids are part of nationwide shooting team. If you look hard enough, you'll be able to find something your child will like. Karate, bowling league, cross country, and so on. Our kids don't participate, but in our area there are 2 homeschool sport leagues. They play other homeschoolers and private schools in our area. Kids can play volleyball, soccer, basketball, cross country, flag football, and track and field.

4. Religious Education Classes

Take part in the classes your church has to offer. Our kids attended classes in order to make their First Penance, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. If they start in the younger grades, the kids will be with the same kids for 8 or more years. Life long friendships can easily be made or just a few acquaintances to socialize with can be made too. Both my kids are out of the classes now, but they are now volunteering to help with the classes.

5. Clubs

Here the options are endless. Drama club, choir, 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, American Heritage Club, Troops of St. George, Blue Knights, Little Flowers, Debate team, Speech club, etc. There are so many out there, I could never list them all. If you don't have a club near you, maybe think about starting up one. A few years ago, I helped lead a St. Zita's Home Ec. club for our girls. It was geared for young ladies in grades 5th-8th. We played games, did crafts, baked yummy goodies, planned tea parties, and learn morals and values. The girls had fun and were able to see their friends.

6. Church Youth Group

You'll find that most churches now offer some type of youth group for the kids in middle and high school. My kids have been part of our church's youth group for a few years now. They spend time in prayer, visit with seminarians, watch up-lifting movies, listen to Catholic speakers, attend the Pro-Life march, have cooking challenges, outdoor game night, go on trips (hikes, tubing, amusement parks), and attend Mass together. This summer, Michael attended the week long work camp with over 800 teens from our diocese. They helped fix up people's homes and spread the word of God. Youth group is a great place to find friends and grow in their faith.

7. Volunteer Work

This can be done almost anywhere. Both Michael and Therese have volunteered at our local library. Michael shelved returned books. Therese helped with the toddler hour and signed young readers up for the summer reading program. They volunteer ever June with our church to hand out food from our local food bank. This year both of them are helping with our churches religious education classes. Michael is an usher and altar server at church. Look into summer work camps, Vacation Bible school, or just help an elderly neighbor do yard work. Friends can be made with people of all ages.

8. Old-Fashion Pen Pals

When the kids were little, they had pen pals they wrote. We found them through a homeschool pen pal group. I can't remember what it is now and I'm not sure if it even exist anymore.With all the online homeschool communities finding a pen pal should be easy. My kids wrote back and forth for about a year (maybe two). They were so young the friendships just didn't progress, but they enjoyed it at the time. What child doesn't like getting mail?

9. Family and Friends

This seems so obvious, but I think we often overlook what is right in front our faces. Family parties and holiday dinners, cousins hanging out, family vacations together, cookouts with friends, etc. Many of our children's friends are the children of our friends and family. Who doesn't have fond memories of Sunday afternoons with their cousins?
If you're lucky enough to have neighbors, kids can easily make friends with the kids in the neighborhood. This hasn't been a real option for us. Therese did have a little girl that lived nearby, but she moved away a few years ago. Now we have lots of little kids. Maybe she should offer a babysitting service.

10. Part time work

We haven't quite ventured into this one yet. Next year, we will though. We'll have to wait and see what they choose to do. Will they work at a summer camp or give fast food a try.

2019 Annual Not Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop

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