Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are We Teaching All They Need?...

Albert Einstein was once asked by a student, “Dr. Einstein, how many feet are there in a mile?” To the utter astonishment of the student, Einstein replied, “I don’t know.”
The student was sure the great professor was joking. Surely Einstein would know a simple fact that every schoolchild is required to memorize. But Einstein wasn’t joking. When the student pressed for an explanation of this gap in Einstein’s knowledge, he declared, “I make it a rule not to clutter my mind with simple information that I can find in a book in five minutes. 

I heard this quote a few years ago and then came across it again the other day.  It put things into perspective for me because I, like many homeschooling mothers, worry that I'm not teaching my children everything that they should be taught.  Wow, I thought, if Einstein wasn't worried about memorizing all the details of the world, why should I worry about teaching all the details of the world?  Maybe I'm the only mom who worries about things like that, but I'll bet I'm not alone.  I hope Einstein has encouraged you this morning!  Happy homeschooling!

Career Planning for Your Homeschooled High School Students, 9 Tips and Thoughts

I came upon this post on the Timberdoodle blog.  Timberdoodle Co.  is a homeschool supply company.  They sell curriculum as well as other educational items.  This post was very helpful if you have high schoolers who aren't quite sure what to do after they graduate.  It discusses GEDs and I'm not really a proponent of them, but the article gives some very helpful insight.
Career Planning for Your Homeschooled High School Students, 9 Tips and Thoughts

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homeschool Wrap-Up

Is your homeschool wrapping up for the year?  Ours is.  This is the time of year that is great for using school time for wonderful learning experiences that might not be in your regular school year routine.  I use this time of the year for bird watching, nest and baby bird hunts, gardening, spring cleaning, chick raising, and any other activities that I've been putting off for quite some time.  This spring I'm hoping to tackle painting rooms in our house with my 13 year old son.  This will teach him some new skills and it will spruce up our home too.  We might as well enjoy the cool spring weather to take on this project, because once the heat of summer arrives it's difficult to accomplish a job like this.  It's nice to get away from the school books and still learn valuable life lessons and know this is part of our training up a child.  Have fun finishing up your school year if you are like us.  Happy homeschooling!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Mother's Love

Soul Culture
By H.E. Foster

I said unto my gardener,
"I want my vine to bear
The choicest, richest, largest grapes
To be seen anywhere."
So he tied it here
And he cut it there,
And he trained it along the wall
And, oh! The loveliest grapes appeared-
The wonder of us all.

God said unto the mother,
"I want your child to be
A godly, helpful, useful man-
A messenger for Me."
So she curbed him here,
And she taught him there,
And she urged him to what was right,
And o'er the heads of ill-trained sons,
He towered in moral height.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Evaluation Time of Year

In my state of New Hampshire we are required by law to submit yearly evaluations for each grade.  This can be a daunting process and many parents that I know get a bit stressed over it.  I have a few tips that have worked well for us over the years that I'd like to share.

What kind of test is best for your child?  Or should you even test at all?  New Hampshire has a choice.  You may test your child with a standardized test or you may have a portfolio evaluation.  The standardized test is fairly straight forward.  There are several, and I have to admit I don't know them all.  Some of these tests are the CAT  (California Achievement Test from 1970) Stanford, Iowa, and the PASS test.  All but the PASS  tests are timed tests and most, not the PASS or CAT, must be administered by a certified teacher.  I have opted to use the PASS and CAT tests for my children over the years because I can administer them myself at home.  I believe children will test better in their normal environment.  The PASS test only tests grades 3-8.  The CAT tests all grades and is timed.  When my children reached fourth grade I began to use the PASS test because I felt it would be much less stressful on them and they could work at their own pace.  This test covers math, reading and language.  The testing takes us three days, because we do one test each day.  So I set a week aside for testing in late April or early May.  After eighth grade we use the timed CAT test.  By high school they all know what to expect with testing and are less worried about being timed.  They actually have  liked being timed and think it's fun by this point.  I like using these tests because there is no need to use a certified teacher at all.  You simply submit a copy of your child's scores to your filing agent.  I use a private Christian school for my filing.

What about portfolios?  When and why do you choose them instead of a standardized test?  Well, I chose to use them when my children were younger than fourth grade for several reasons.  First, they are much less stressful on the child and are less stressful on the parents if the test scores aren't very high.  Some children just don't test well and that's okay.  I found maturity had a lot to do with that.  Second, it is fun to keep portfolios in the elementary years.  That Solar System project that your child spent weeks putting together, or the atoms that your child proudly constructed, or the pioneer costume that you made and visited an "Olde Village" as a field trip or family vacation all become part of the portfolio.  The reports on states and presidents and well on and on I could go.  Anything that you do over the school year can all be photographed and put into a portfolio along with all the spelling, writing and math papers. Scrap booking can even come in handy here.  All of those things are saved anyway so why not put together a fabulous portfolio of your fun year and show a certified teacher?   She or he, will be very impressed I guarantee!  I found some homeschooling moms who were certified teachers to evaluate our portfolios, they charge a minimal fee because they pay to stay certified themselves.  It's worth it!  Once the teacher reviews the portfolio, she will fill out an evaluation form, give it to you, and then you are responsible for submitting it to your filing agent.

I hope this little insight on evaluations has helped to keep you from worrying.  I don't know what other states require but you can contact HSLDA and they will provide each state's requirements.  If you are just starting out I wish you the best.  If you have been doing this awhile, I hope you are having a blessed end of the school year.
Enjoy homeschooling!