Homeschool Resources

At your wits end? There are tons of great homeschool resources that you can grab to make your adventure with homeschooling a lot easier to accomplish.

Struggling with math – check out math-u-see – or buy some really cool math games – or use online math games to help drill and practice.

Struggling with language? Use some homeschool specialty workbooks, rent schoolhouse rock videos, use an online program like Time4Writing.

Struggling with science? A homeschool specialized curriculum like Apologia science makes teaching several grades of children easy! Using science videos and even online science resources can also make it come alive.

Struggling with History? There are a lot of great history programs that make history really come alive. Things like The Mystery of History or Time Traveler’s History are great!

Online Learning

Technology-based (online) learning has its place in today’s homeschool curriculum. There is a plethora of sites on the Internet just waiting for your child to visit them. You are sure to find a resource suited to meet the educational needs of your gifted child or your learning challenged child. These sites help the parent or teacher simplify and demystify the educational process. Multimedia tutorials, certified teachers, and/or skill assessment tools make teaching something complex less of a challenge. Most record keeping is also automated so you don’t even have to grade a paper or record it in the grade book!

However, please keep in mind that with every benefit, there may be some drawbacks. Some drawbacks to consider include time spent online rather than outside playing or being creative, cost of the program, eye fatigue, isolation, loss of ability to modify a lesson, printing costs, cyber bullying, hand fatigue or carpal tunnel damage, Internet safety for kids

As with most things in life, moderation is the key. Make sure you offer a healthy balance of lessons–online, in the classroom, or out of a book.

Life Skills

Life skills seem to be taking a back seat to technology these days. While technology is very important and a skill sure to be used by most everyone, life skills are just as important, if not more so. If you can’t boil water, read your electricity bill, or navigate your way to the grocery store without a GPS, then how on Earth are you going to hold a quality job? An interesting study found that many young kids know how to operate a computer and use a smart-phone, but fall short when it comes to knowing their own home address or how to write their first and last name. That is more than a little bit scary! It seems we are raising kids to be very tech savvy, however, they will most likely be dependent on their parents or others to actually survive out in the world jungle. Balance is the key. Make sure your child’s homeschool curriculum has a healthy mix of life skills and technology lessons.

Music Education

According to the nation’s ten most important educational organizations, including the American Association of School Administrators, the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, and the National School Boards Association, every student in the nation should have an education in the arts. That is the opening statement of “The Value and Quality of Arts Education: A Statement of Principles”.

Many benefits are gained by children participating in music education. Cooperation and team building skills are learned when kids preform a dance or musical. They exercise self expression and build self esteem. Music education or the arts boost creative thinking and problem solving skills. Skills learned through a music program and/or music games transfer to study skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills useful in every part of a child’s education.

Students in high-quality school music programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs. Students in top-quality music programs scored 22% better in English and 20% better in math than students in deficient music programs. Students in top-quality instrumental programs scored 19% higher in English than students in schools without a music program. Students in top quality instrumental programs scored 17% higher in math than children in schools without a music program. Students at schools with excellent music programs had higher English and math test scores across the country than students in schools with low-quality music programs. Students in all regions with lower-quality instrumental programs scored higher in English and math than students who had no music at all. – MENC Journal of Research in Music Education, Winter 2006, vol. 54, No. 4, pgs. 293- 307; “Examination of Relationship between Participation in School Music Programs of Differing Quality and Standardized Test Results” Christopher M. Johnson and Jenny E. Memmott, University of Kansas

Homework

The term “homework” refers to when a teacher assigns certain tasks to a student and expects them to complete the work outside of the classroom, mostly at home, thus the term “home” work. The objectives of assigning homework are based on the assumption that the student will practice that which was taught in class, thereby improving their academic skills. However, sometimes homework is assigned without the student being taught a needed skill. The student must rely on their own skills. The purpose is simply to take up time. Also, some people think homework is tedious, boring, busywork which serves no true purpose or offers no real benefit.  A review of over 60 research studies showed that, within limits, there is a positive correlation between the amount of homework done and student achievement. The research also showed that too much homework could be counterproductive. The research supports the “10-minute rule”, the commonly accepted practice of assigning 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. For example, under this system, 1st graders would receive 10 minutes of homework per night, while 5th graders would get 50 minutes’ worth, etc.

Have you checked your child’s homework lately? Is it an appropriate amount? Has your child been taught what to do beforehand?

Foreign Language

A foreign language is a language spoken by someone who is not a native of the country in which the language is based. Many children learn one or more foreign languages as very young children because it is much easier to learn a different language the younger a person is. They are considered bilingual or multilingual.  If you only speak one language, you are considered monolingual. Most schools around the world teach at least one foreign language. Supposedly there is a wonderful cognitive benefit for learning a second language. Learning a second language has been correlated with improved reading ability in sixth-graders, to improved scores on the ACT and SAT, and academic success in college for high school students. Studying Latin and Greek also benefit students.

In the United States, Spanish is the most popular foreign language taught at the junior high and senior high level. Spanish is followed in order by French, German, Latin, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Italian, and Japanese. Many schools are beginning to offer Spanish at the elementary level since it is much easier for children to learn a foreign language at a young age. Does your school or homeschool curriculum offer a foreign language? If not, perhaps you should consider enrolling your child in an online program or local program. Whether your child is learning at school or taking a course at home, you can help reinforce what they are learning, by also having them play foreign language games.

Handwriting

Penmanship, or handwriting as most call it, is the art of writing with the hand and a writing instrument such as a pen or pencil. Styles of handwriting are also  called hands or scripts. There are various styles of handwriting today–Palmer, D’Nealian, Spencerian, Zaner-Bloser, Getty-Dubay, Harcourt-Brace… Whichever style is selected depends upon personal preference. Does your school or homeschool curriculum include handwriting? Penmanship and cursive are losing their place in many American schools today due to the increased use of and dependence on computers and word processing systems, not to mention texting and IM. Many folks actually question the relevance of learning penmanship at all. While handwriting was necessary for documents, reports, etc., this is no longer the case today. According to the College Board, in 2005 and 2007 only approximately 15% of students taking the SAT writing portion preferred to write in cursive over print. Typing, or keyboarding, and technology skills are the focus in schools today. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, students in grades 8 and 11 will be required to compose the writing portion of their standardized testing on the computer in 2011 and fourth graders will have the same requirements by 2019. So, what do you think? Does penmanship still have place in today’s curriculum?

Field Trip Fun

Field trips, or outside of the classroom experiences, can greatly enhance learning and make great real world connections for kids. Most kids are very excited about going on a field trip. Fifth graders have a keen willingness to learn, especially if what they are going to learn about is something they are interested in.

Field trips are not just for the classroom, parents can take field trips with their kids any time, they do not have to depend on school sponsored field trips. Some suggestions for great field trips include going to a discovery or exploratory museum, attending a live theater performance, going to hear the symphony, strolling through the zoo, going to the local aquarium and discovering water animals you never knew existed. For 5th grade science, you can watch a movie at the IMAX, which will give your child the opportunity to see and hear enhanced visual and sound on the big screen. Educational movies about space, archaeological discoveries, and nature are popular options for a great field trip, too. Many fifth grade classes have begun learning about space missions and archaeology in class, so this will help them appreciate these advances.  Try asking you child what he is interested in, then seek out trips that relate to his interests. Oh, and don’t forget that there are lots of interactive virtual field trips just waiting for you on the Internet.

Language Arts

Fifth graders are required to read a large variety of books. Because they read so often, they are able to easily pick books they enjoy. Make time to take your fifth grader to the library and the book store as often as you can. Reading for pleasure helps your child build vocabulary and it also fosters a lifelong love of literature. Fifth graders also learn to analyze characters, plot, and settings, as well as to recognize an author’s purpose for writing and his organizational strategies.

Fifth graders are skillful writers using their own individual styles. They produce and present research projects, and write more complex narratives and creative fiction. They are taught editing marks and then are expected to edit their own writing, using what they have learned about the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation. Encourage your child to explore writing for personal expression. Suggest they write a poem, a song, or a story.

Vocabulary and Spelling

Vocabulary and spelling are a very important part of your child’s education. While reading, a student encounters unfamiliar words. This is the time they should note any they do not understand. Later, they should look up the meaning and make note of the spelling. A good vocabulary is an asset in life. Reading is one of the best ways to increase spelling skills. Vocabulary and spelling become even more important when your child has writing assignments.

Increasing Your Child’s Vocabulary

Here are tips from the Learning Resource Center, www.learningresourcecenter.net:

  1. Ask ‘Do you know what this means’ when your child reads an unfamiliar word.
  2. Talk to your child about many different things using new words.
  3. Take your child to different places, then talk about what you see.
  4. Explain everyday activities using the special vocabulary specifically associated with such activities.
  5. Play vocabulary games, such as Scrabble, Boggle, Charades, and Crosswords. Ignore the rules on the game’s box – keep a dictionary on hand for looking up new words before and during play.
  6. Play word games everywhere, including naming and rhyming games.

Improving Your Child’s Spelling

Spelling doesn’t have to be boring.
Here are activities from Child Development Institute, www.childdevelopmentinfo.com:

  1. Talk with your child often. Good spellers need good verbal skills.
  2. Let your child write stories about favorite subjects.
  3. Help your child write letters to relatives or friends.
  4. Help your child trace the words in a book or on a paper.
  5. Use finger paints to write out words.
  6. Play with magnetic letters on your refrigerator or another magnetic surface.