Do you have a budding writer or a reluctant composer in your home? Would you like a way to get your young author to the next level? A+ Education Solutions is offering a creative writing class Mondays, 12:30-1:30. Students in middle or high school may participate in person or online. Classes take place at A+ Education Solutions. Online classes are offered through this service. Students will learn from models of good writing to compose original work in various creative writing projects. Classes cost $15/student weekly and meet from Jan. 13-May 18, excluding March 30. Tuition is paid at the beginning of each month. Students need a composition notebook, and should expect to work an hour or two outside of class each week. For more information, call/text 502-438-4680 or email email@example.com.
By Heather Walton
January is traditionally a time of new beginnings, new resolutions, and for many, new vision. However, in the academic world, it’s not the beginning of the year, but rather the half-way point. Whether you approach this time of year as the beginning or the middle, it is an excellent time for reflection, assessment, and realignment.
Perhaps you aren’t as enthusiastic about your homeschool goals, curriculum, or routine as you were in August. Maybe you don’t homeschool at all … yet. Or, if you’re like me, you generally take this time of year to consider which things you’ve been doing you want to continue and which you’d like to change.
For example, in reflecting on my homeschool year, there are parts that I believe have gone very well, such as converting from some workbook-type activities to almost 100 percent reading real books and requiring narrations in all subjects (except math, though that may be coming). Another thing I am satisfied with is our “together time,” in which we sing a hymn or two, read Scripture, read classic literature, and do picture study.
However, I feel we could do better in a few areas. For instance, I have not incorporated composer study well into our “together time,” and I need to do a better job of keeping our environment tidy. As a result, I have developed a plan for the children and me to tidy as we go, attending to a few problem areas and regular chores at various times throughout the day. After all, education isn’t just about academics; if my children can’t keep an orderly house or understand that they need to contribute to the home, they won’t be prepared for life.
I am a homeschooling mom, but I don’t only homeschool my own children. I have two additional full-time students and one part-time student. As an educator by profession, I have been called to teach. I know not everyone who would like to homeschool is able to do so, so I enjoy being able to partner with families to educate their children according to a Biblical worldview. If you find yourself needing a full-time homeschool solution, I would be glad to discuss that with you.
If, on the other hand, you would simply like your middle or high school age student to meet with other students a couple mornings per week to discuss real books and do some hands-on learning in a group setting, check out New Day Academy, a cottage school program I’m starting Jan. 14. This program features Charlotte Mason philosophy and a Biblical Worldview. Students will have assigned readings from living books, and they will complete written narrations. We will meet on Tuesday and Thursday meetings for discussion and activities. Students may attend Tuesday or Thursday or both. The days compliment each other while being independent of one another. If you are interested in joining New Day Academy’s cottage program this school year, please let me know by Jan. 6. Those who enroll this year will have first option to enroll again in the fall.
January may be a great time for you and your family to make an educational change that will breathe energy into your homeschool and into your home.
For more information, contact Heather Walton, 502-438-4680, firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete the form below.
by Heather Walton
If you are considering homeschooling, just starting out, or burning out, check out the following tips for homeschooling any child.
- Relax. You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to do it all right now. You don’t have to do it all at the same time. Enjoy your children’s childhood with them.
- Make a list of goals for each child and check it at intervals. Include spiritual, academic, social, emotional, physical, and life skills goals. Check them at predetermined intervals, such as monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly.
- Curriculum is a tool. Make it your servant. You are not its slave. You do not have to have prepackaged curriculum. If you choose textbooks or packaged lesson plans, you do not have to do everything that is recommended by the publisher.
- Balance is important. Homeschooling takes a lot of time and energy, but you also need time for other things, like housework, errands, and exercise. You may even have a part-time or full-time job. Trying to work on academics 6-8 hours per day is likely to burn you and your child out.
- Delegate when possible and practical. Which chores you can teach your children to do? Do you need to partner with tutors or homeschool enrichment programs, such as cottage schools or cottage schools? Are there things that other family members, such as Dad, grandparents, or your older children, can teach or model?
- Education is not just academics. You can count a variety of things, such as life skills (grocery trips, chores, etc.), social skills training, creative arts, specialty lessons, swimming, exercise, nature walks, therapy sessions, service, theater and museum visits, and more.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Find a homeschool support group, in person or online. There are lots of local and national groups on Facebook and elsewhere. Some are even specific to certain ideologies and methodologies. Meet other homeschool families for outings or just to hang out. It helps to know you’re not the only one. On difficult days, you have someone to reach out to for encouragement. You also can bounce ideas off each other.
- Invest in homeschool PD (professional development). Give yourself permission to buy books, watch videos and download materials that will help you learn more about homeschooling. You may even want to attend homeschool conferences. If you don’t have a budget for this, there are many blogs and other resources available online for free. Taking time to educate yourself will make you a better homeschool teacher.
- Know your state’s laws and follow them. Ask veteran homeschoolers in your state how they comply with the regulations.
- Join HSLDA and your state homeschool organization. These groups work hard to keep our homeschool rights intact. They also have many resources available, including consultants in a variety of areas and legal support. I would not consider membership in these organizations optional.
By Heather Walton
Sometimes parents wonder if they should homeschool a child with special academic, social, or emotional needs. Even if they believe they can properly educate a neurotypical child, they may feel intimidated about working with their children who struggle. Others are considering homeschooling specifically because they have a child who is having difficulty in school. Though homeschooling any child has its challenges, an individualized education can be a delight and a blessing, both to the child and the parent. Here are several reasons to consider home education for a struggling learner:
- You can create a program that targets your child’s specific needs. You can remediate those areas of challenge, while also giving him opportunities to do things he’s good at, so he experiences success.
- You eliminate the social stigma that comes with being “different.” Often kids (and even teachers) will look down on a student who struggles academically or socially. Unfortunately this is par for the course in many schools.
- You can work with your child when she’s at her peak time of day to be successful. You don’t have to keep the same schedule as the schools do. Your state may require a certain amount of hours, but that doesn’t mean you have to work at the same times as the local schools operate.
- You can incorporate the educational components that most schools leave out, such as life skills and social skills. These are important for all young people to learn, but even more for struggling learners. Home education provides you the opportunity to spend necessary time on instruction in these vital areas.
- Children who need to see therapists and tutors have more time in the schedule to do so, and it counts as part of your home education plan. Often parents of children with special needs spend afternoon and evening hours shuttling exhausted kids to appointments. However, the sessions would likely be more effective, and the family less frazzled, if they could be fresh for these appointments.
- No more fighting over homework after an already long schooldays. Since you can create a tailor-made education program for your child, no need for homework, and hopefully you can have an enjoyable learning experience with your child.
- Avoid bullying. Many kids, especially kids who are perceived to be different by their peers, deal with bullying, which is so destructive to a person’s self image. Today, more than ever, bullying presents huge risks, including and up to suicide. It’s not something to mess around with.
- Avoid social pressure to conform. Let’s face it: Everyone wants to fit in, and kids with special needs are often tempted more than neuortypical children to do whatever it takes to be accepted.
These are several great reasons to homeschool a child with special needs. The list could go on and on, as reasons are as diverse as are the children we love. Now that we have explored some reasons to homeschool your child, stay tuned for tips on how to successfully work with students who have challenges.
Homeschooling is often challenging, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes a helping hand is all you need to go from frazzled to thriving. A+ Education Solutions offers homeschool consultation/coaching services, working together with you to troubleshoot and create an individualized plan for your family. You may benefit from checking in biweekly, monthly, or just every once in awhile. You might just need a one-time consultation. Having someone to consult with can give you the boost that you need to get a solid start in homeschooling or to stay the course. Coaching takes place in person and online to accommodate your needs. Whatever your need, A+ Education Solutions is here to help. Call 502-438-4680 for details.
I’m done! I guess God doesn’t intend me to homeschool anymore.
These were my thoughts in 2009, when I just didn’t know how to do it. I had loved homeschooling my daughters for six years, but with two babies, and with the girls getting older and pushing back on me, I decided that season of our lives was over.
I loved teaching, though, so I went back to school and got my Master’s Degree in elementary and special education, and then I taught for the next eight years. I learned many skills and strategies that I wished I would have had when I was homeschooling. Now I am back to homeschooling, this time with my boys and a baby girl.
By no means am I saying that you should have a teaching credential if you’re going to homeschool. However, if you are struggling because you’re overwhelmed with curriculum choices, or because you have a child with learning or behavior issues, it can be helpful to work with someone who has some expertise in strategies and research-based learning.
Over the past eight years, I’ve worked with hundreds of students and families in schools and in private tutoring. Many of those parents struggled to find and educational fit for their children, and many of those children struggled academically, socially, or behaviorally. I have been able to assist those families and students in formulating plans to see academic growth and to increase positive social and behavioral interactions.
Sometimes we just need some informed encouragement. I am able to come alongside you and encourage you to stay the course, and to collaborate with you to formulate a plan for success. Whether you need to evaluate your curriculum options or to have a tutor for a few hours a week (in person or online), I can work with you to meet your family’s individualized needs.
I understand a good deal of what homeschoolers struggle with, because I’ve lived it. And I have children with special needs and academic challenges. So as a fellow traveler, I can relate and help you form a workable action plan. If this sounds like the thing you need, contact me at email@example.com or 502-438-4680.
I started A+ Education Solutions in 2013 because I had a strong desire to help students who need a little extra help to reach their goals. In the process, I started a cottage school that morphed into a more traditional model of a school, partnered with my husband as he pastors our church, moved, had a baby, had a couple of children leave the nest, taught at another wonderful Christian school, and most recently, realized that I need to return home and center myself there. Through all of it, my mission for a vocation has not changed: I believe God has called me to creatively facilitate Christian education for a diverse population of students.
Though I no longer run Jubilee Academy, the model I began there still lives in my heart. What is that model? Well, for starters, it’s a kinder, gentler model of education — an individualized model, where students are seen as real people who have struggles, but who also have much to offer the world. God created each of us with unique gifts, and those gifts are meant to be shared with the world. However, some people buy into the cultural lie that academics and athletics are the prized intelligences, and that others are inferior. Can you imagine a world without artists, mechanics, electricians, fast food servers, and on and on? Two of the most important jobs in the world are plumbers and trash collectors. Think about that for a moment.
But we all have to get through the academics, at least for 13 years. Some of us really struggle, though. And we just need a helping hand, maybe just for a season, and maybe all the way through. Sometimes the student needs direct help, in the form of tutoring and assessment. Other times, the student needs indirect assistance, such as an IEP advocate at school or homeschool support for his parents. A+ Education Solutions is here to help with these needs. Rates are reasonable and assistance is personalized to your family’s needs. Because I’m focusing on health and family, slots are limited, but there are a few left and I am happy to put others on my waiting list. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call 502-438-4680. I look forward to hearing from you!
In today’s world, where ideas fly around at speeds too fast to catch, much less verify, it’s imperative that we raise our children to think. You may think I’m stating the obvious. I wish I were.
There is a difference between knowing a good deal of information and knowing how to think. It’s important for our kids to learn a variety of concepts and to memorize facts and formulas. But that’s not enough, especially not in today’s culture.
Children raised in Christian homes are abandoning the church, their faith, and Biblical values at alarming rates. These aren’t just public school kids. These also are kids who attended Christian school or who were homeschooled. I’m sure there are myriad reasons for this trend. I want to focus on one that I’m passionate about–a lack of thinking.
Many well meaning homeschool parents (and Christian schools) employ traditional methods of teaching and learning. They require their children to memorize facts and to diagram sentences. They require daily Bible reading and Scripture memorization. They teach them all of the required subjects and their children get high scores on college entrance exams. This is all excellent, but is it enough?
What about thinking? Do these children grow up to be able to think for themselves? When a college professor or a work colleague challenges them about their faith, will they be prepared to stand strong? If they are taught to think from an early age, they probably will be.
Public schools are far from perfect, but at least in the schools where I’ve taught, this is one thing they’re doing right. They’re teaching kids to understand the why behind the how. They’re teaching them to examine their own thinking and be able to give an explanation that supports it. This reminds me of 1 Peter 3:15, which says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” We’re prepared only if we can articulate our thinking and support it with evidence.
It’s been my passion to empower Christian children and youth with an understanding of what they believe and why. This is of utmost importance if they are going to keep the faith as they go out into the world. I believe our children must first understand the truth of the Bible and what evidence there is to support a Biblical worldview. They need to apply Scripture to situations in their own lives and to consider how they will respond to situations they may encounter in the world. While they do need to be sheltered to an extent, especially early on, they also need a gradual release into responsibility for their own decisions and learning about contrasting points of view. If they’re able to do this under our authority, we can talk and work through those things with them. In contrast, if we over-shelter, we run the risk of releasing them into the world all at once, with substandard preparation. If we under-educate, by not teaching them to think, someone else will end up telling them what to think. If their argument seems logical enough, our children, whom we raised to know better, just might abandon the faith–maybe all at once, or perhaps little by little. Either way is devastating and tragic.
How do we practically educate our children to be thinkers? One of the most effective ways is to ask them lots of questions, like Socrates did with his students. Ask them questions that will require them to justify their thinking. For example, if you are studying the origin of humans, ask them questions like, “How do you know we didn’t evolve from lower life forms?” You want them to be able to give both Biblical and scientific support. If you are discussing the government’s role in healthcare, they should be able to articulate and defend what they believe. Ask them questions that will get them to think deeply about their position, to clarify it, and to defend it. Be flexible. They may be able to support a different point of view than yours on some positions, and they may have Biblical justification.
One thing is apparent: Children who don’t learn to understand and articulate their faith are not likely to stand strong in that faith as adults. We owe it to our children to teach them to think.
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 4:14
- Part One: Teaching Children Biblical Truth (vineoflife.net)
Teaching writing intimidates many homeschool parents. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are some good writing curricula available, which make good tools. But the approach I use works whether or not you supplement with a published curriculum.
What do you think is the single-most-important factor in becoming a successful writer? Practicing? Grammar instruction? No. The most important part of the writing curriculum doesn’t require a pencil or keyboard. The best way to become a proficient writer is to read. A lot. Voraciously, even. Read a balance of fiction and non-fiction. Read a variety of genres. Reading well written literature and high quality non-fiction exposes the writer to proper grammar, spelling, and conventions, as well as to the author’s craft. I encourage students to read both fiction and non-fiction daily.
Students also should practice writing each day. They need to write about a variety of topics, including things of interest to them, experiences they’ve had, books they’ve read, their opinions, their hopes and dreams, their frustrations, their fears, how to do things, and anything else that comes to mind. I start by brainstorming a list of things with them. They keep the list and refer to it when they need an idea. I also provide a list of writing prompts they can use. Some days I let them pick what to write about. Other days I tell them the topic. I require them to write a certain amount (for example, a 4-sentence paragraph) and for a certain amount of time (for example, ten minutes). They must meet both minimums. In the example I gave, the student would need to write at least 4 sentences and she would need to write for at least ten minutes. I increase the requirement as skills and stamina develop. Research shows that students need at least 45 minutes of writing instruction and practice daily to make significant gains.
I generally pick a certain skill or technique that the student needs to improve. I teach him that skill and give him some practice. A curriculum would work for this, but there are other options. The Internet has lots of interactive and printable resources, many of which are free. Or you can create your own exercises.
Then I have the student write about the selected topic, being careful to apply the targeted skill. After she finishes, she needs to reread the piece to check to see if she correctly applied the skill. She should underline anything she notices that needs correcting, and make the corrections above the original writing. (It’s a good idea to write on every other line for this purpose.) Underlining, rather than erasing, helps the writer to be reflective and to see growth over time. It also helps you to see how your student has grown. It’s a good idea to have your child keep all of the writing in a binder so you can see the chronology of skills developed through the year. This also can serve as documentation of homeschool progress in Language Arts in many states.
Twice a week I suggest selecting one piece of writing to proofread. I don’t advise you to correct your child’s writing everyday, as this may take some of the joy out of writing. Look over the selected piece, specifically looking at the current skill being taught and any others you have taught. Make corrections to those skills, but not to everything. You don’t want to exasperate your child as a writer. After you have made suggestions and corrections, return the piece and require that it be rewritten. Making the necessary corrections will help your student to learn the targeted skills.
When teaching writing, remember that the goal isn’t perfection, but growth. I have been writing seriously for about 25 years and have had a career in journalism, but my writing still isn’t perfect.
If your child practices these techniques–reading fiction and nonfiction daily, writing daily, self-editing daily, and making your suggested corrections twice weekly–you are likely to see him steadily grow into a successful writer.
As I spoke at a homeschool conference this past weekend, I seemed to get a similar question phrased in different ways: What curriculum should I use? The answer is both easy and complicated. The easy answer is that you should use the curriculum that fits your child best. But, of course, that can be complicated.
Here are a few tips to get you started with curriculum selection:
1. There is no perfect curriculum. No matter which approach, method, or program you choose, there will be times when it falls short. That’s OK. Nothing, including curriculum, is perfect, at least on this side of heaven. So you make adjustments. You compensate. Maybe you pull from various sources to come up with a compilation that works for you and your child.
2. Curriculum is a tool. View it as such. You are the master of the curriculum–not vice versa. You don’t have to do things exactly like the curriculum publisher suggests. You don’t have to do every problem, read every passage, fill in every blank, complete every exercise, and finish every page. You decide what to use and what to leave out. There is one exception to this: if it’s a research-based, direct instruction program designed for intervention purposes, you usually do need to implement it exactly as instructed by the publisher.
3. You may just need to pick something and try it out. Rather than stressing about the differences between a couple of well-respected curriculum publishers, you may simply need to choose one and get to work. Again, the one you choose isn’t going to be the perfect fit, but the other one wouldn’t be either.
4. You don’t have to have a pre-made curriculum. You can write or compile your own curriculum from the Internet, library, teacher-supply stores, and what you already own. Decide what you want or need to study and start getting things together. Discover everything you can about the subject alongside your children. This provides an excellent model of authentic learning for your child and it’s often more engaging and informative than pre-made curricula.
5. Sometimes it’s easiest for families to buy pre-packaged curricula, especially to start out. Using pre-made curricula generally instills confidence that you are giving your children all they need. You feel like you are on track and that you have a good framework for your homeschool. There is nothing wrong with that. But as you gain confidence as a homeschooler, you may decide that you want to make changes. Either way, remember that you are in charge of the curriculum. It is not in charge of you.
6. If you find that a curriculum isn’t the right fit, it’s OK to abandon it. Consider it a “buying error” and move on. Don’t stress yourself and your child out by insisting on seeing it through to the end. Your relationship and your child’s education are worth far more than the money you spent on that curriculum. Besides, you can resell it and recoup some of the money.
7. You might want to try an online program for some things. You may want to work with your child on the things you enjoy the most, but allow your child to use a research-based online curriculum for things you find tedious, that you don’t feel qualified to teach, or that you find yourself arguing with your child over. Online programs generally are engaging to students and many of them adjust to fit each student’s needs.
8. You are probably not going to mess up your child’s learning, no matter what curriculum you pick. In fact, your child is highly likely to be ahead of his public school peers just because he is getting much more individualized attention than they are. Even if you decide to unschool, this will likely be the case.
9. The best curriculum you can possibly give your child is discipleship. If you are teaching your child to follow in your footsteps and are investing a good deal of time and relational energy, your child is destined for success. Reading and discussing good literature (especially the Bible), serving the community together, talking about life, having fun–these are the things that make for the best curriculum you can provide. The monetary investment is minimal but the time and relational costs are significant. In the end, you’ll find that you won’t regret a second you spent investing in your children.
- An Often Overlooked Essential of Homeschooling (apluseducationalsolutions.wordpress.com)
- How to Save Money on Homeschooling & Tutoring Expenses (epicafinance.com)