Vicki and I are going to the
Titus 2:1 homeschool blogging conference April 12-14, 2013.
I had the chance to go last year, and here's a video journal of my top-10 reasons why I loved it so much that I'm counting down the days until I can go back again!
If you're interested in learning more about the 2:1 conference, visit www.2to1conference.com.
By the way, anybody going to Great Homeschool Conventions in Cincinnati next year? We are!
What are some of your favorite conferences and conventions to attend?
Check out our Drama resources
in the EBookstore, including our free script for The Christmas Carol War.
7 Sisters isn't just helping high schoolers....we love the little guys, too!
Have you seen our literature study guides for classics like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH or Sarah, Plain and Tall? And if you have a pre-schooler and you're planning for Kindergarten, you won't want to miss our Developmental Approach to Teaching Kindergarten. It will equip you to understand when your child's developmental process so that you will be able to choose developmentally appropriate activities for learning...instead of just frustrating your little learner. Each of these resources is just $3.99, and is available for immediate delivery to your desktop in .pdf format.
Click here to visit the EBookstore for these and other great resources!
This week we are linking up to Angie at Many Little Blessings for a Top-Ten Tuesday Post.
Here are 10 questions we get asked about homeschooling, and our most common answers to them.
If you are someone you know is curious about homeschooling, this post is a good "at-a-glance" resource for getting a basic foundation fo information, based on the experiences we've had at 7 Sisters.
1. How do you homeschool legally?
The question used to be, "Is it legal?" but most folks nowadays have heard enough about it to know that there's SOME way we do this without being thrown in jail. But people still regularly ask what we have to do to keep it legal. Our favorite answer: "The laws are different in each state, and some states are easier to homeschool in than others. For where I live __________________________ (quick summary of what you do with reporting to the state, using an umbrella program, etc.). But anyone who's curious about it should start with a website like Homeschool Legal Defense offers to find out up-to-date info for their own state, because requirements vary greatly."
2. If you homeschool, how can they get in to college, or have graduation, or play competitive sports?
Because we are geared more toward high school support for homeschoolers, we get this one A LOT. Our answer goes something like this: "Colleges LOVE homeschool graduates; in fact, many both Christian and secular schools actively recruit homeschoolers now. The important thing is to keep careful records during the high school years to create a solid, well-rounded high school transcript. There are lots of resources to help homeschoolers do that now. As far as graduation, many families plan a ceremony together with other homeschool families they've schooled alongside over the years, or perhaps they join a homeschool diploma program (we have all been a part of Mt. Sophia Academy in our local area) that hosts the cap-and-gown traditional ceremony; lots of families simply plan their own ceremony, with family and friends invited, and find their own unique way to mark this milestone in their child's life. The possibilities are endless! Competitive sports requires some effort, but more and more opportunities exist for homeschoolers in the community now. Cooperating with public or private schools works in some areas of the country; other more creative approaches are necessary for other folks, but if your kid is gifted and determined to play a sport in high school, you can find a way to make it happen!"
3. How can you teach Physics, or Trigonometry, or French or whatever subject you're not good at? And how do you do science labs?
Again, because our focus is on high school much of the time, people really scratch their heads over this one. An answer might be: "I can't teach certain subjects myself because, you're right: I'm just not good at some things! (It's good to admit this up front; it seems to reassure people that you don't suffer from delusions of homeschool grandeur!) We cooperate with other homeschool families and learn some things together in a group that meets once a week, or does science labs together for a day once a month. I'll offer to teach their kids a subject I feel confident teaching if they will help my kids learn areas that are weak for me. Also, the internet is a tremendous resource. There are online classes, all kinds of video help, really amazing resources. Enrolling in a class at the local community college is sometimes a good option, too."
4. How do you do that with multiple grade levels?
If you have three kids, people are usually dying to know how you can find time to hold THREE different Math classes, and THREE different Science classes, and THREE different English classes. They are thinking inside the model they experienced, and it just takes a gentle explanation to open their eyes to the fact that there ARE educational options. We typically say something like: "It's a challenge when I'm planning my year to decide which subjects we'll need to do separately and which subjects we can just study all together. Actually, many of our subjects don't need to be broken out by grade level; we study the subject together, and then the assignments I give each child to have them use that new knowledge vary according to each child's ability. Math is one of the only things that I almost always do separately for each kid, but even with that, teaching Math doesn't require a full 40-minute class period of teaching time each day. Sometimes all the child needs is a moment for me to go over the lesson, and then she works independently, just asking for help if she's stuck. But honestly, much of our learning just takes place together, and then the kids do individual work as a follow-up at their separate ability levels."
5. What about socialization?
Yep, this one still gets asked. We don't typically waste a lot of time on it. We chuckle, followed by, "Today's world offers us SO many options for involvement in social settings, classes, clubs, the arts, sports, community service, and so on.....if my kids get any more socialized, I'm never going to see the inside of my house again!"
6. Do you wear your pjs all day?
Pajamas are a really fascinating topic when people hear the word "homeschool." I wonder if there's a deep-seated envy in most people; they wish their job allowed them to be in jammies all day, or something. When I'm asked this, I say, "Actually, sometimes we do. I mean, honestly, who wouldn't want to on the occasional day when we're not going anywhere? But most of the time we have lots of places to go and people to see, so real clothes have to happen!"
7. How do you do that without fighting all day?
It's kind of sad how many families are so accustomed to strife that they assume more time together equals more arguing. Again, starting with honest vulnerability is a gentle approach to the answer: "There are rough days, just like there are in any household, but honestly the fact that we "do life together" so much means that overall we fight a lot LESS most of the time. There's sort of a "We're all in this together" mindset that helps. Additionally, there's less of a me-vs.-them mentality that often is reinforced by traditional schooling. Most kids in public school don't think of their teachers as anything but teachers -- authority figures who assign homework and hand out bad grades. My kids see me as teacher, but they also see me hug on them when they're having a really hard time. They see me as a wife, or as I spend time with my friends, or on days when I am sick. I think we probably fight a lot LESS than we would if they weren't schooling at home."
8. What about standardized testing?
This one is easy. "Our kids can take various standardized tests any year that we make arrangements for them to take them; there are lots of options for setting this up. They are a great tool for seeing where our kids are confident and where they are struggling."
Typically people who ask this question don't have much personal connection to professional teachers in the traditional education system, so they don't realize that those teachers don't just "magically know" what grade an assignment should be given; they either use a rubric to evaluate specific pieces of the assignment, or they have determined that the assignment should be evaluated in a more general way. An answer like this usually helps: "It depends on the age of the student and the type of assignment. For many assignments I grade using a rubric to evaluate the work, just like most teachers in traditional schools do. A certain number of points is possible for each area on the rubric, and when I total up the points earned divided by the number of points possible, I have a grade. Other assignments are pass/fail, and if my kid hasn't understood enough of the material to pass, I know we need to go back and spend more time on it. Grading is just a way of checking to see how well my kid has mastered a particular piece of learning."
10. How do you know you're not leaving holes in their education?
The best answer is an honest answer, right? "Oh, but I AM! Every child's education has holes in it. No educational model will graduate a child with a perfect and complete measure of learning, because no such measure exists! I graduated from traditional school with all sorts of holes in my education, and by the grace of God I continued learning things even after I graduated, so it all worked out okay. I figure the same will be true of my homeschooled kids. There are plenty of resources available (particularly via the internet, and by using standardized testing) to check on our progress from time to time, and homeschooling in community with other parents is a great help in noting "holes" to be filled. But really, what education doesn't leave a hole somewhere? We learn forever, not just until high school graduation!"
And a BONUS question we LOVE to answer:
"Can I buy you a cup of coffee? Let's spend some time chatting!"
Click Here to visit the EBookstore and download curriculum you will find nowhere else, unique to 7 Sisters.
We have Literature Study Guides, Drama resources, Human Development, Intro. to Psychology, Career Exploration, Middle School Essay Writing, Poetry Writing Guides, and More!
For the next several weeks we are linking up to Angie at Many Little Blessings for Top Ten Tuesdays. This week, we're sharing our Top Ten Read-Alouds.
Here at 7 Sisters we are ALL about homeschooling in community, and asking SIX of us homeschool moms to agree on just TEN titles for this post was....well, not conducive to building community!
So we've compromised (call it "homeschool math," if you will) and listed our :
Top 15 Read-Alouds:
1. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein (click the link to view an excerpt from our study guide to go with The Hobbit!)
2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
3. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
4. Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien (another study guide available in our EBookstore)
5. The Bible by God
6. All Creatures Great and Small and others in the series by James Herriot
7. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (This study guide is loaded with vocabulary, but the list is separated from the comprehension questions so you don't have to feel overwhelmed by it. Use as much or as little as you like....the guide is adaptable.)
8. A Separate Peace by John Knowles (often overlooked...a tremendous coming of age story)
9. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
10. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (Focus on the life-lessons to be learned from each stop along Pilgrim's allegorical journey!)
11. Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
12. Lightning on Ice Series by Sigmund Brouwer
13. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (Part of our Great Christian Writers series...a popular title in our EBookstore!)
14. We were divided on this next one, but hey...homeschoolers don't have to agree on everything! Some sisters enjoyed reading aloud the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. Others sisters are not fans of the books.
15. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
When you read-aloud with your older kids, do you do all the reading, or do you pass the book around the room and each take a turn?
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Click Here to visit the EBookstore and download curriculum you will find nowhere else, unique to 7 Sisters.
We have Drama resources, Human Development, Intro. to Psychology, Career Exploration, Middle School Essay Writing, Poetry Writing Guides, Literature Study Guides and More!
For the next several weeks we are linking up to Angie at Many Little Blessings for Top Ten Tuesdays. This week, we're sharing the Top Ten Reasons Our Kids Like Homeschooling.
Our kids are on the older end of things, and many of them have already graduated, so the reasons here may be a little different than those of families with little ones in the thick of the early years. Our kids have the benefit of hindsight, so when we asked them for their thoughts, we got that hindsight reflected in their answers!
1. Academics took less time. Once a concept or process was mastered, there was no need to beat it to death just because some other students in the class still didn't understand. Homeschooling made efficient and effective use of their time, and they liked not having their time wasted.
2. Establishing a personalized education plan meant they could study courses that excited a passion in them (cinematography and acting/directing for some of our kids; photography, equine studies, and fitness for others....and probably many more that we're forgetting!). We were able to turn into academic credit some things that would have to be extra-curricular pursuits if they went to traditional school. Life is learning, and we were able to let them learn in a vast array of settings.
3. They could explore their interests. Instead of committing to a full-year of a class they might find they hated, they were able to dabble and see how something sparked their interest, and then move on if it wasn't a great fit. They could tailor their reading to a subject area that grabbed them. They could build on topics that arose in their science or history or civics academic assignments and pursue projects that fascinated them.
4. They liked being able to work at their own pace - going faster, or slower - depending on their styles of learning. This is the other application of making efficient and effective use of their time; when something was a struggle, there was no clock ticking, creating pressure to master a skill at the same pace as others around them. It was okay to throw out one approach entirely and try another take on the problem. They were also able to observe and learn about their own learning styles (as we moms observed and learned about them), and they took that self-awareness into college and the work world as young adults. It made reaching for independence easier because they understood how they needed to approach learning new skills.
5. They got to spend time with friends and their homeschool buddies. Moms could coordinate days to go someplace cool and do something fun instead of book work for that day. Co-ops meant that we learned together from books and papers and movies and discussions, but we also went on field trips together, played in bands together, did plays and had drama classes together, swam and played volleyball and hiked together. Many of their childhood friendships have moved easily into adulthood because they spent such quality time together, learning in traditional ways, and doing life together in all sorts of ways.
6. They were able to take off-season vacations. That meant the family dollar stretched farther, the lines for attractions were shorter, and they were able to enjoy breaks at various points during the traditional school year.
7. They appreciated having a flexible schedule. Some of them were night-owls and would do their best work hours after traditional schools have packed everyone onto the buses to go home. Others were bright and fresh early in the morning, and would finish all of their work before lunchtime, freeing up the afternoon for....anything!
8. They loved the environment and the relationships among their peers (without some of the distractions of a school setting). Sometimes it does help to have a village involved in raising your child...as long as you have lots of input on who lives in that village! By like-minded families banding together to homeschool in community, our kids got to grow up in an environment that had safe, godly boundaries. There was an authority structure that quietly purred in the background, reassuring sometimes impulsive young people that their actions DO matter and they must THINK before they act. None of our kids were afraid they might get beat up in the bathroom at co-op. They take that as a positive!
9. They had greater opportunities to participate in homeschool & community activities, to hold part-time jobs, apply for internships, etc. since school hours are flexible. Being able to say, "Yes!" to an opportunity that meets from 12:00 - 3:00 every Wednesday was a wonderful thing. The rigidity of the traditional school day would have knocked our kids out of lots of activities they now are very grateful for having explored.
10. Last but not least, while we cringe at the stereotype....they liked being able to do school in their pajamas, being able to sleep in when there was no pressing reason to get up early, and being able to lie on their bellies on the couch while studying fractions. Those stereotypes start from some point of reality, don't they?
Are you going to GHC Northeast next week in Hartford, CT? Comment on YESTERDAY'S POST with "See you at GHC!" for your chance to win one your-choice item worth up to $30.00 (must pick up your prize in person at our booth at GHC. Contest closes midnight Sat. 6/9/12).
For the next 9 Tuesdays we will be participating in a link-up with Angie at Many Little Blessings sharing our top 10 homeschool ideas in various categories.
Click the button below to check out the other posts in this link-up...what a wealth of resources in the internet homeschool community!
10 of Our Must-Have Homeschool Items
1. Kids - our own, of course, and some homeschool buddies. Learning is more fun when you have friends to join in the experience. We love co-ops, group field trips, and day-school classes. We especially love cooperating for science experiments, book discussion groups and foreign language practice.
2. Moms - Virtual and IRL community has given all of us a wealth of inspiration, problem-solving strategies, and friendship. In some ways it DOES take a village to raise a child...as long as the child's parents get to choose who lives in that village! Times when we have encountered sickness, frustration, financial crisis, or A.O.E. (Accumulation of Everything) meltdowns, our homeschool mom friends have come to the rescue. We absolutely, positively wouldn't want to homeschool without community!
3. Books - When Sabrina and Allison's father was a young man, he received sage advice from a professor. "Eat less; buy more books." A wide variety of types of books really encourages your children to be interested in their contents: paperbacks that can be dragged along for the ride on the way to anywhere; hefty, beautiful, leather-bound, illustrated volumes that inspire awe; reference books; Ebooks; books you are encouraged to write in, making notes as you read; books you wouldn't dream of writing in, but they look so beautiful displayed on your coffee table; textbooks with sidebars and text boxes and bold-type; comic books with loads of pictures.
4. Bookshelves - We need some degree of organization about us! Whether you place them on the shelves according to the Dewey Decimal System or take an entirely haphazard approach to shelving, many bookshelves make for a more-functional homeschool.
5. Computer and Printer - The Digital World: that's the world we live in. Hiding from technology does not make our children holy, it just makes them ill-equipped to deal with the world they were commissioned to evangelize. Learning good ways to use the computer (and being able to print their work when appropriate) is a super-important part of homeschooling.
6. Library Card - just in case you really can't scale down the food budget any farther! The local library is a wonderful resource for learning materials of many kinds. Don't be afraid to ask your librarian for suggestions and help; there are often resources available that you have never encountered before.
7. Paper, pens and pencils, crayons, colored pencils and markers. Although we live in a digital world, creating things on paper is still a core skill to master. Every year it is a shock that the huge pile of supplies we bought in August has dwindled to almost nothing before the end of the school year. Smart homeschool moms take advantage of the back-to-school sales to really stock up on these simple supplies; the price is often 4 times as high at other times during the year! Smart, GREEN homeschool moms recycle used paper to print non-formal work, to take notes and make shopping lists, to keep little ones happy with drawing time.
8. Calendar - Keeping organized is essential to a successful homeschool. Don't make a mental note of it....write it down! If you need encouragement taming an unruly calendar, download our free time-management tool Scheduling Backwards.
9. Dictionary, Atlas, Thesaurus - Yes, we know all about Dictionary.com and Google maps, but teaching your kids to thumb through the traditional alphabetical listings in the print forms of these references is still a handy skill. It can actually be much faster to look up a word the old-fashioned way (especially if your sibling is using the computer right now or your smartphone battery is dead), and map reading is helpful when you're at a mall, a state park, or a museum and you find yourself in front of a poster that says, "You are Here."
10. A firm conviction that homeschooling is what the Lord wants you to do - Homeschooling is not just an educational option. In our experience, the families who decide to homeschool simply because it looks like a smart choice have a lot of struggles. Conversely, the families who have prayerfully reached their decision to homeschool and are convinced that this is God's will for their family at this time, and who continue to seek Him (daily!) as they follow Him in their homeschool....these families thrive in their homeschools! Wouldn't you rather thrive than survive?
HOW ABOUT YOU? WHAT'S A MUST-HAVE THAT WE FAILED TO PUT ON OUR LIST?