Saturday, July 23, 2016

First Day of School Scavenger Hunt


First Day of School Traditions can set the tone for the rest of the year.  We always take a picture the first day, each boy individually, and then together, in front the same tree.

Last year we added a First Day Scavenger Hunt. I hid clues around the house, with a prize at the end. It only took 5 to 10 minutes, but was a huge hit. We had to learn teamwork, making sure to take turns with who got to read the clue.  If you have older kids, you can make it challenging by hiding in harder spots in the room (like in the pillowcase of the bed instead of on top the pillow).

If you know your child's love language, the hunt is also a way to fill their love  tanks; one of my boys is gifts and loved receiving the prizes.  The other boy is quality time, so he enjoyed the hunt done as a family.  I also made a prize a game  we can play together this year, to extend on the quality time. If you child is words of affirmation, maybe add encouraging words to your clues (I like you because), or act of service for the prize (no chores for a week)

Prizes can be anything you want, ranging from small piece of candy to clothes or school supplies.  Last year's prize were Star Wars wrist watches I had bought at an after Christmas Clearance Sale, which had a double meaning of setting the tone of increasing responsibility for the year. This year's prize is going to be new chapter books and the spelling game Appletters.

As a homeschooler, we did only one or two subjects after the hunt, very gently introducing the curriculum & theme for the year.



First Day of School
Scavenger Hunt

  • CLUE #1 Give to the child
  • CLUE #2 Hide in a bathroom
  • CLUE #3 Hide on any bed in the house
  • CLUE #4 Hide with your broom
  • CLUE #5-Can be hidden in fridge, or in your garden
  • CLUE #6 Hide in game chest or shelf where you store board games
  • Prize- Hide by your family computer


CLUE #1

The dentist says you’re good with a tooth brush,
now go to the room where you give the toilet a flush


CLUE #2

Personal hygiene is good to keep, now go to a room where I can sleep


CLUE #3

You like to play toys in your room, now go to the place we store the broom


CLUE #4

Now you’re in a cleaning mood, go the place we get healthy food


CLUE #5-

Eating food is quite nice, now go to the place we store dice.


CLUE #6

Games are really a lot of fun, but in the computer room the hunt is done.


PRIZE


HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

I want to Homeschool in Indiana... Where do I start?

How To Start Homeschooling in Indiana.
Many are surprised by how much homeschooling law varies from state to state.  I live in Indiana, and we are blessed to have homeschool friendly laws, BUT that doesn't mean every district/principal/superintendent is homeschool friendly.  Indiana's Department of Education (DOE) Website is also quite misleading, so  I highly recommend seeking information from Homeschool Legal Defense Associatin (HSLDA)  and  Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) 

Indiana Homeschool Laws

Basic Info: Indiana Homeschools are considered non-accredited, nonpublic schools. You must have 180 days in your homeschool year.  Indiana has no stipulations on what a "day" looks like in your house, or how many hours it is; which means Indiana can not mandate your curriculum choices, pace, or yearly schedule.  Your child does not need to participate in any testing. 

Are you transferring your child from public school to homeschool?

  • Written letter of intent to transfer- Sample transfer letters for principal
  • Indiana Homeschools are considered non-accredited, nonpublic schools, which is why (IAHE) recommends using the term "transfer" instead of "withdraw" when informing school.
  • You can take your child out of public school ANYTIME of the year, no need to wait for semester breaks, after testing, or end of school year
  • Become a member of HSLDA if your district gives you any problem. 
Are you homeschooling from the beginning? 
  • You DO NOT need to register with the state (even though the DOE's website strongly implies this).  Parents may choose to register, but this is your family's decision.  We personally have never registered our children with the DOE in 5 years of homeschooling.
  • If you do choose to register with the state, the Age of Compulsory attendance is not until 7 years old. 
Homeschooling Styles- What's the Flavor of your house?
Many moms make the mistake of looking for curriculum before first spending a little time researching homeschool styles. Not many curriculums are purely one style, but knowing your personal bent can take hours off your curriculum search. See this post for  5 Main Home-school Styles.
  1. Traditional
  2. Classical
  3. Unschooling
  4. Unit Studies
  5. Charlotte Mason 
  6. Eclectic- A mixture of a few or several of the above  

Homeschool Curriculum

We are in a golden age off curriculum choices, but that can also be extremely overwhelming. Seek help from friends and great reviews for Secular and Christian curriculum from Cathy Duffy Reviews. While there several options of styles (see above),most curriclum fits into a few different types  based on your family needs.

Boxed- Open and Go
Boxed curriculum come with a teacher's Manual, and all the books you need for teaching your child.  No hours of planning or seeking out books, just open the manual and teach each day from the books provided in your box. You can go at your own pace, but the template of the teacher's manual is extremely helpful. I am heading into my 5th year, and still love my "open and go" curriculum, My Father's World. Also See this post for my 4 "Open and Go" Home-school Curriculum.

Eclectic -Make your Own

Many moms piece together their curriculum from different publishers, and use a homeschool planner to plan their day. The increase in homeschooling families equals more resources available, meaning you can pick the curriclum that best meets the needs your family and child. 

K-12 Online Public School
K-12 is a free online schooling option. Please note this option is not technically homeschool, it is public school at home, meaning you have no authority over your content , pace at which you cover the materials, or school schedule.   That said, it is an option that has helped many families! This is a good option for the mom who wants their child to stay lock-step with the public schools. This could be for someone who knows for sure homeschool is just a season, and their child will be going back into public school eventually.

Find Homeschool Friends (for you and your kids)

Find a Local Homeschool Group on Facebook 
This step will help you with all the rest.  I can point you in the first direction, but your local homeschooling can give you info on local field trips, play-dates, curriculum choices, dealing with unsupportive in-laws, and finding resources in your area.

Attend Home-school Classes and Activities 

Check your local YMCA, Library, and/or local Parks and Recreation for Homeschool-geared activities.  The homeschool community has grown in the past 20 years, which includes communities who have begun to offer resources and activities during the  school weekday.

Homeschool Cooperatives (Co-op)

A Co-Op is just short for Cooperative.  Not all homeschoolers enjoy co-ops, they are just another resource if you choose to use them.  It is only a true cooperative if the parents all have a job, helping teach or assist in some way. Co-Ops are all different, because they are what the Moms make of them.  Some meet weekly, some monthly, some just for field trips.  A Co-op can be big with dozens of families, or just you and one other family. See more on my post- What is a Homeschool Co-Op?






Four "Open and Go" Boxed Homeschool Curriculum

For the new homeschool mom, an "Open and Go" curriclum can be the best way to get your feet wet.  You don't do the planning, just open your teacher's manual and go!  That said, I am heading into my 5th year of homeschool, and I still use an "Open and Go" curriclum, and I love it. Small Warning  for any boxed curriclum, remember your teacher's Manual is not god.  Our current curriclum, My Father's World, has more than enough to fill our day, and we tend to leave out what we don't need, or is covered in another aspect of your day.  For example, my kids attend Awana, so we don't use MFW's Bible memorization.  We also don't do their art or music.

I asked around for recommendations and below are 4 of the the best "Open and go" Christian curriculum , in order of costs, including their homeschooling style, link to their site, and some short pros and cons based on mine.


Styles-Traditional for the most part,

Pros-
  • No need to add any other subjects, like language arts or math.
  •   Very child directed, they log in and do their assignments for that day
  •  Very good if your child is going back to public school some day.

Cons-
  •  Online, if you are doing more than one child, you need more than one screen. 
  • Lots of screen time for the day  (you can cut back on this by getting books from library instead of them reading them online)




SMALL COST- Heart of Dakota- About $100- $300 (depending on supplements)
Style-Charlotte Mason

Pro-
  • SUPER easy to implement, teacher guide very easy layout to use and implement.
  • You can keep your kids in separate programs or combine them into one (combines up to 4 grade levels with supplements for adding older kids to each grade).
  • 4 day week, with 5th day for catch-up.

Cons-  
  •  If you combine more than 2-3 year gap in ages, you have to buy separate supplements packages for older kids.
  • For older grades (above 1st grade) You have to buy and teach Math and Language Arts separately, depending on ages (they have recommendations on their website for those subjects or you could do math & L.A on Easy Peasy free website).  
  •  You would also have to go to library once every few weeks to pick up books from book list. A lot of writing in a notebook (pro if your child likes to write)




MIDDLE COST- My Father’s World- $200- $400 
(I use this and we use the least expensive basic package and it is still plenty to do)
Styles-Traditional, Unit studies, Charlotte Mason 

Pros-
  • Easy teacher guide with subjects for the each week. Easy to skip activities you don't need or don't fit your child. Example-We made homemade tortillas when learning about Mexico, but never made any of the global art projects suggested. We also skip all their Bible memorization because the boys go to Awana.
  • Best for a family teaching several ages together. A multi-age classroom, you teach only ONE geography, science, and history lesson to all your kids, no matter their ages.  
  •  4 day week, with 5th day for catch-up.
  • Majority of their profits go to Bible translation around the world.


Cons-
  • For older grades (above 1st grade) You have to buy and teach Math and Language Arts separately, depending on ages (the have recommendations on their website for those subjects or you could do math & L.A on Easy Peasy free website).  
  • You would also have to go to library once every few weeks to pick up books from book list.
  • There are several hands-on activities with the units which can require more planning (we skipped a lot of these on busy days), less writing and copywork (could be a pro if your kids like hands on)


HIGHEST COST- Sonlight $900 for a full grade package
Styles- Charlotte Mason

Pros-
  • Open and go, easy to implement. 
  • All books are included, so no need to ever run to library, or sub a book that isn’t at your library.


Cons-
  •  Not a multi-age progam.
  • You have to buy and teach Math and Lanagues Arts separately, depending on ages.