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This blog is dedicated to meeting the needs of new homeschoolers. Why is our program and support different? Because we have personally spent many years conducting workshops, speaking to new homeschoolers and supporting them through our program.

You are not just getting support based on our experience but on the unique experiences of the many, many new homeschoolers we have helped throughout the years.

The blog pace here is designed to SLOW you down by spreading out our articles. Exhale, sit back and enjoy the slow relaxing pace of our articles.

And as always, be sure you have watched the free 2 hour web workshop and look at our other workshops. The main way we help new homeschoolers is through our program.

Tina also blogs at Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus. You can follow both blogs.

When you don't know where to begin.......We Do!!!

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Note: This blog use to be the place Tina shared for both new and seasoned homeschoolers. She has a new blog at WordPress where she shares for ALL homeschoolers at Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus.

This blog now is the place both Kelley & Tina share JUST for new homeschoolers.

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Products We Love & Use

Family Time Fitness - Fitness 4 Homeschool

   

BrimWood Press history and worldview curriculum for homeschoolCurrClick

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New Bee Homeschooler - Blessed are the Flexible

Posted on December 6, 2013 at 9:55 AM


Over time I have learned that one of the beauties of homeschooling is that it can be just about as flexible as needed when life happens. The question is can you be as flexible as needed when life happens?

I look back to our first official day of homeschooling. What a day that was and for all the wrong reasons.

My mom and dad had been gone all week and arrived at our house with my dad having severe back pains. I could tell that something was very wrong and called 911. Thankfully the ambulance arrived within minutes and rushed him to the hospital. The doctors were able to unblock his artery (98% blocked) and stave off a heart attack.

It was so close and so scary and in no way how I pictured my first day of homeschooling.

Now comes the part about how homeschooling is flexible but you have to be flexible first. I must have missed that lesson somewhere because I wasn’t flexible. Nope we were going to push on through, no matter that my parents were living with us at the time while their house was being built, no matter that it would have been okay to take some time and come back to our kindergarten curriculum (it sure wasn’t going anywhere), no matter that the focus needed to be on my dad and helping him heal.

Oh sure I was at the hospital and home helping, but I put my daughter and myself through the wringer trying to get school done each day. Never mind that we were exhausted and I was cranky trying to be superwoman and making sure everything/everyone was being cared for.

What a mess and what a learning experience. My daughter who had loved learning up to this point was not liking anything to do with learning after a short time with crazy inflexible momma. I wonder why, it couldn’t be me could it? Of course it was.

I wasn’t able to enjoy homeschool freedom and flexibility at that time. I just knew we HAD to school each day and complete all of our lessons each day. Needless to say it wasn’t working so I went to the other extreme and stopped schooling altogether.

Was that the answer, at that point no, but I am an all or nothing type of gal. I wasn’t flexible nor balanced at that point in time. I did learn some things though. Oh I still wasn’t as flexible or balanced as I needed to be, but I learned that I had to start working on that.

When Life and Homeschool Meet Up

So what will you do when life throws you a curveball? Will you be so determined to get it all done that the love of learning and teaching gets lost? Or can you step back from the situation and objectively look and see what adjustments can be made to keep everyone’s sanity?

It doesn’t mean that homeschooling gets shut down completely, but it could mean that only the 3 R’s are focused on, or even just math and reading aloud for a bit until things settle down enough to start folding back in subjects as life settles down.

There may be times when you have such a huge curveball that you have to revamp homeschooling and opt for a computer or dvd program to help you for a while.

Each situation is different and each solution will be different as well. They key though is your being able to be flexible in your thinking about homeschooling, discerning enough to see when you can work your way back to your full schedule of homeschooling, patient enough to give yourself the break you and your family may need during this time and keeping your long term homeschool goals in sight so that you can adjust to your current situation and move forward as your circumstances allow.

If you can learn now to be flexible in the small things, say when you or one of your children are sick or when the weather is just beautiful and the park seems to be calling your name, then when something major happens you will have some practice at being flexible. 

Homeschooling is a part of your life and when life changes then adjustments have to be made, just like any other part of your life. As you learn to adapt to the present and keep your long term homeschool goals in view you will find success in your homeschool journey.

Kelley

New Bee Homeschooler - When you Begin to Homeschool In the Middle of the Year

Posted on November 21, 2013 at 2:25 PM

It is nerve-wracking, but kind of exciting at the same time when you begin to homeschool in the middle of the year. If you have already started, it still is a good time to reevaluate and determine what is working and what is not working.

 

Delightful New Beginnings

 Look at these steps to help get you off to a great start when you may be overwhelmed in the beginning.

Don't Play Catch Up. Resist the urge to think you have to stay up with the public school year or to think you have to step up your pace because you are in the middle of the "so called" year. What you need to understand now is that this is a new beginning and that many school years will come and go. This could mean that once you start to homeschool, you may not stop for long periods ever again like public school.

Have you considered the advantage of schooling year around with a mosey attitude? If you have this means that you will resist the urge to bring extra pressure on you and your children to think that after the winter break you have to crack the whip so to speak. Relax. You have PLENTY of time to choose curriculum and find a schedule that fits your family. Do not start your year already feeling behind because the truth of it is that as homeschoolers a lot of us homeschool year around. We take short breaks spaced throughout the year. It really does not benefit your family to think you have to step in sync to the public school you left.

Avoid Super Subjects. I know you must have a long scrolling list of ALL the curriculum you have looked at and researched too. I know because my scrolling list when I started scrolled so long I wasn't quite sure what I had on it, but wow it was impressive.

Instead of overwhelming myself with ALL the subjects that EVERY child should cover and trying to race for the trophy of super mom (never have won that trophy), I wished somebody would have given me permission to just investigate one or two vital subjects for each child. Again, you have time to decide the fun subjects like history, art and science. Concentrate now on the essentials like math and reading and depending on your child's age like phonics or composition. That is ENOUGH to consume your time so that you make a good fit.

By spacing out your subjects and not teaching them all at once, you also have time to learn how to use each new curriculum or teacher's manual. Please avoid this frightening scene of you sitting down with all your children at one time and starting all 9 or 10 subjects you have decided they need for the day and worse yet, thinking they can all be completed in one day.

Keep it simple, avoid super subjects by just focusing on one or two for now and gradually add in the other subjects as you plod along.

No Hemmed Up Homeschoolers Allowed. Part of beginning to school whether you are in the middle of the year or whether you have been at it for a few months is to enjoy getting out of the house and learning.

Have you heard the quote? The World is Our Classroom. It's true. In the first year, it is hard to fine the balance between enjoying too many activities and being exhausted and being hemmed up in the house all day. It becomes more important to be creative and find opportunities when you begin in the middle of the year because of cold weather. If you live in a place that is not so cold but has nasty rainy weather, the problem still comes up because the kids can't get outside. Think now or prepare now for those times. What is near your home where you and the kids can escape to for some time away? Do you have a friend that started homeschooling too? Sometimes going to each other's homes allows the kids a change of scenery and play mates. Taking a class or two at the local museum during the winter, gives you something to look forward to each week.

Try to remember that beginnings only happen once. You have so much time to do all the things you have planned but allow yourself time to learn and allow your kids some time to enjoy the new routine. It doesn't hurt to sleep in for a few days and catch up on rest while you are establishing a new routine. Many new homeschoolers find it exhausting both physically and mentally starting off in the new year whether they had an easy time or difficult time pulling their children out of school. You are due for some rest and there will be plenty to learn and read.

When you want to read some more, look at these other things I have for you:

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round - So Get Off!

Also I have a 5 Day Series on Homeschooling Mid Year & Thriving

Resist the Urge to Homeschool in the What If ...World

Do You Really Have Time to NOT Play Games

What is Year Around Homeschooling Part 1

What is Year Around Homeschooling Part 2

Also, I wanted to let you know that we formed a new Google+ page so we can chat some if you have questions. Come on over and follow us there too.

 

Hugs and you know I love ya,




New Bee Homeschooler - What is the Difference Between Spiral & Mastery Learning?

Posted on November 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM

I am glad you found your way here and hope to keep this blog slow relaxed. I know you may be racing and I do mean racing to get in all this information, but what I have learned through the years is that it takes time to appreciate all the facets of homeschooling. Overwhelming you with topics before you experience them doesn't really help you to appreciate the value of our program or our experience. It just takes time, but there are things you should be reading about now or understand about the learning process so you make better decisions on both how you choose curriculum and on how you present it or teach.

Understanding the differences between spiral and mastery learning or at least some fundamental basics, which is what I am talking about today is sometimes more important than understanding the different approaches that curriculum takes like unit studies, Charlotte Mason and classical, etc.

There are basically two schools of thought on how children learn best. I have always felt you as the homeschool mom even though you are new and inexperienced have a better handle on how your children learn best. Sure, it will take some trial and error but you are willing to put forth the work and effort.

One school of thought and it is the one that has been around the longest and probably the way a lot of us learned is the spiral approach. Think of a large winding stair case with many steps or facts on them. The idea is as you study or go up in grade level each year, you make your way up and wind around these facts and "pick them up" so to speak as you go along. They increase in difficulty as you go up in grade level and they get reviewed each year. This is the way a lot of textbooks teach too. Let's take the subject of science for example. The idea is that you study about a variety of topics from the function of the heart to chemistry and cover a multitude of subjects and facts one year only to only cover them again in more depth the next year if you stay with that series.

The second school of thought is more topic focused and the idea is to stay on the subject from the easiest to most difficult concept until the child has mastered the subject.

 

Right away, you can see both positives and negatives for each approach. On the spiral approach there may not really be much depth but a lot of review. Also the material may have been mastered but you keep reviewing it only to aggravate you and your child both.

 

On the other hand, if your child is not grasping the information, then a review of it later when he is more mature is of value.

Regarding mastery of material, this can easily end up frustrating you too because the idea of this concept is that you stay on a topic until you get it. This may take a few days or few months. Who wants to study one concept that you don't understand now and may not understand later either for a long period of time? But, then a child who wants to move faster and is grasping content this can be a life saver because they don't repeat previously mastered material.

What are you to do?

 

Tips to Decide How To Choose Spiral Or Mastery Learning

Like I mentioned it takes time to understand your child's needs. Don't try to make this more complicated by thinking you have to choose one way or the other. For example, your child may struggle in math so he may need a math program that has more built in review.

However, when it comes to science he may want to investigate deeper because he has an insatiable appetite for learning about those topics. Look for topic studies then.

A lot of homeschool curriculum tout that they try to offer the best of both learning approaches in their curriculum and this is true. Key to knowing that is to ask and investigate first.

Don't do this:

  • Don't assume because your child is struggling in a subject, it is because it is too hard. It may be the opposite. They may be ahead and need to move onto something more meaty.
  • Also, don't assume they grasp a concept just because they are that grade level.

Do this:

  • Take free online tests, use free worksheets online to give your child a kind of "testing period" so you can see what they grasp or don't. You already have some idea as mom, so trust that. If you make a wrong decision, you can change immediately.
  • Talk with knowledgeable personnel at stores or online stores through phone or talk in person with them at conventions. Read reviews about their curriculum and take your time choosing curriculum for each child.
  • Try to determine what you are using now and if it working for you. If not, read, investigate and try another one.

Focus more on how your child learns best and then you will make better decisions instead of choosing curriculum because your next door neighbor used it, it works good for your best friend or you read about it. Though, they are good places to start, your children are unique and you are blessed with teaching them.

You can do this!

Hugs and love ya,

P.S. If you haven't stopped racing yet, please look at our FREE WORKSHOP: Here We Go and download the free outline too. Education for YOU is of far more value in your first year.

#Schoolhouse Review Crew - Review of Geography I:The Middle East, North Africa & Europe by Memoria Press

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 11:25 AM


Because I like geography that is more hands-on I am always looking for resources that are thorough and rigorous, but simple enough to follow along so that my sons can do any written part or map work independently. So I was excited to review Geography I:The Middle East, North Africa, & Europe by Memoria Press.

Here is what I received in this nifty bundle: Geography I: Teacher's Guide; Geography 1 Student Text, Geography 1 Student Workbook, The United States Student Workbook: States & Capitals Review and The United States Teacher Key, Quizzes, & Tests.

Geography has always been a subject that is important to me during our homeschool journey because I struggled with it in school. Though I was fascinated with it and wanted to learn more, I still struggled with locating countries on a globe or map. Too, the way it was presented to me I wondered why it was important to learn all those terms. 

Frankly, finding the longitude and latitude is something I still don't care for today. Of course I realize the value of the science and math behind knowing that, but to me the history of a country was so much more appealing. That is what I liked right away about Geography 1: Student Text. The Student Text gives the History's Headlines of a country at the top of the page and then a Tour of Today at the bottom. Though we enjoyed the whole course, the value of how the geography was presented in the student text made sense to us because it tied it to some piece of history that we could understand.


Geography is so much more than just looking at maps. Though maps are foundational or key to understanding any civilization, it is the combination of both the background information and the map that I feel piques your interest.  For example, in the Student Text, a map of the country is on the right side of the page while key information is on the left.  In addition, each country has a Fast Facts section. All of this together makes geography come alive. It does not stand alone as a bunch of maps that are not informative.

What I really liked is that the student text gives the modern name of the country at the top of the page and the ancient name of it underneath. Again, a child will care about something that he can make a connection with to the present. Using only the ancient terms of these countries does not help them to apply it to the present. I love that feature.

Inside the books was a suggested teaching guideline of covering 2-3 countries a day. I found the schedule very doable for us. We did go faster on some countries we had studied about in our unit studies like Turkey,  but slowed down on others found in North Africa that we had not studied as in depth.

Then when your child works on the Student Workbook afterwards which is map work that includes writing the name of the country, the capital, the ancient name and other facts, the maps are full of meaning then.

One side point to make about the books is that they are all black and white and the maps are gray because these are workbooks. But I feel workbooks have their place in our school. Workbooks are made for students to do the majority of writing in. These workbooks are no different. After the student text is read, the maps are labeled and colored in the workbook.

One point to note in all of this is that the geography of the Middle East, North Africa & Europe covers what was the Roman Empire. You know I have told you before that my homeschooling roots are classical and so I appreciate that covering the lands of the Ancient Greeks and Romans is significant because of the many contributions to our modern day society. Its hard to build a government study for your kids when they are older if they do not appreciate the model that was instituted by the Romans and Greeks. I am pleased that this course exist for an elementary aged child.


When I got this bundle I have to admit that I wondered why I received the United States Workbooks along with this series. After reading through the workbooks, I understood the thinking behind learning and reviewing the states and capitals. These books serve as a review and encourage retention of material that should have been previously taught. I wholeheartedly agree with this because in our particular case when I started homeschooling, we focused more on Ancients and the Renaissance and then covered the states and capitals later too.

In other words what a nice little bundle this set from Memoria Press is because you can learn about the Ancients right alongside learning and reviewing the modern geography of the U.S.  It didn't seem like a likely pairing, but if you have homeschooled for any length of time you understand the struggle in teaching the 4 year cycle of history and still being sure you have covered enough of the states and capitals

For the teacher in you, the books have quizzes, tests and reviews.

If you are struggling to teach geography or just want to review some of the ancients you will enjoy this bundle.

Thank You Memoria Press for another excellent product!



Product Name: Geography I: The Middle East, North Africa, & Europe

Website: Memoria Press

Price: $48.00 as a Set:

Grades: 4th to 8th.

Type of Product:  Workbooks

Customer Service: My books arrived promptly as promised. Customer service was prompt and excellent.

Hugs and love ya,

All product information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.





#Schoolhouse Review Crew - Review of Go Fish For Ancient Egypt by Birdcage Press

Posted on June 10, 2013 at 8:05 AM


Benjamin Franklin said, "Games lubricate the mind and body." I agree and so that is why I am so excited to tell you about the fun we have been having with Go Fish For Ancient Egypt  by Birdcage Press. I am especially excited to use it because it tied in nicely with our Ancient Civilizations and Ancient Empires study.


I was delighted from the moment I opened the box not just because playing games makes learning come alive, but also because of the beautiful and appealing playing cards. I was impressed too with the quality and durability of the cards because we plan on using these again.

The boxed set contains 36 color playing cards and a 34 page fact book. I wanted to let you know that the cards do cover the Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Egyptians. Everybody feels differently about how to explain pagan Gods and Goddesses of any ancient culture in their school.

I prefer to introduce them so that my sons are aware of how their beliefs affected the every day lives of the Ancient Egyptians. However, introducing and actually studying and learning their beliefs are two different concepts. Playing Go Fish For Ancient Egypt, I feel, is a way to quickly introduce topics that you don't want to cover deeply in your everyday study of history or that you are not going to spend time learning about.


There are basically 6 cards in a set to cover 6 topics which are Gods, Goddesses, Symbols, Pharaohs, Mummies and Afterlife.

What I liked too about the cards besides the eye catching artwork and pictures is the tidbit of information at the bottom of each card.You will find one or two sentences about the picture on the card and beneath those sentences are the answers for the other objects or persons found in that set. For example, if you had the Ramses II card in your hand which is set 4 Pharaohs, then reading at the bottom it is easy to see that Akhenaten, Amenhotep II, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III and Tutankhamun are the other pharaohs listed in the set.That is a clever way to teach repetition and aid in memory. Having fun or learning is hard to tell the difference in this game as it should be.

Another true gem about playing games and especially Go Fish is that it can be played by any age. Any age from K to adult knows the object of the game which is to find sets. For younger children who cannot read, the picture about Ancient Egypt is key to remembering which card his partner has.

For the older kids, they will not only recognize one of the topics but read the few sentences about it. It can't get any easier to learn about history than that. Whether you are a history lover or abhor history, it is easy to be won over by this card game.

The 34 page fact book was a nice added feature to the card game. It is a small book jam packed with interesting tidbits about Ancient Egypt. One part in the book we plan on doing next week is how to write like an Egyptian or should I say draw like an Egyptian. It is just an added bonus to the game that is already fun, but gives a little more background on each theme. Mr. Awesome read it aloud to all of us and as he and Tiny were playing together.

I want to admit another prejudice of mine and that is many times I prefer physical games over digital games. I love all my techie devices and the boys do too. But physical games bring a spirit of camaraderie in our school day that you can't really get when you connect to digital games.  Most of us homeschool so that we engender sibling togetherness and games like Go Fish For Ancient Egypt make it easy to foster family time.

I always encourage any homeschooler, new or seasoned to not get out of balance by collecting only curriculums or workbooks and not adding in quality educational games. We need to let go of the thinking that learning should not be fun or is not meaningful unless we are sitting at the desks pounding out a writing lesson. Break the cycle and add in quality games.

I can't help but share a few other games from Birdcage Press because I am so over the top about all of their products.


They have games on art, wildlife & nature, air & space and history. I think my only complaint, appeal, plead would be add to more history games. Of course as history lovers, the boys and I could never get enough of games like that, but I could imagine ones on the great empires like Ancient Greece and even modern U.S. history.

I have been swooning over what might be my next purchase: The Renaissance Art Game.


I encourage you before you make your final curriculum selections for next year to add in card games. They not only stir the heart and soul, but can be done by all ages as you learn valuable skills together.

Thank You Wenda O'Reilly and staff for a delightful educational product!

Switching gears here, but can you believe it is the 3 day countdown at Circle of Moms contest? Thank You for your votes. It means a lot. Can you take just 5 seconds today and vote?  Click on the Circle of Moms and look for my blog button.

 

     

Product Name: Go Fish for Ancient Egypt. Card Game & Book Set

Website: Birdcage Press

Price: $10.95

Ages: 7+.

Type of Product:  Physical Card Game - Museum Quality Cards

Customer Service: My cards arrived promptly as promised. Customer service was prompt and excellent.

Hugs and love ya,

All product information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.




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