Foreign Language

Thinking about adding foreign language to your current curriculum? Wondering what to choose? You don’t have to get get a second mortgage for one of those big name foreign language programs. There are tons of free courses online! Some of my favorites are:

In fact you can find a list of great free foreign language resources in this slideshow. Yes, this list is geared to high school. But many of the resources listed can also be used for younger students. There is likely to be one in this list that will work perfectly for your budding linguist!

To Cursive or not to Cursive?

There has been an ongoing debate among educators as to whether cursive handwriting is obsolete or not. With the increased use of computers, email and texting it seems that we hardly have a reason to pick up a pencil anymore. You can even bring your grocery list to the store on your phone! Some argue that handwriting is still important. How is a young person to put their signature on important documents if they don’t know how to form the cursive letters of their name? Besides, it helps to develop important hand-eye coordination. I wonder if some of us aren’t simply sentimental about seeing cursive become a lost art.

Back to Homeschool!

All the stores are displaying their back-to-school sales at this time of year. You can see class supply lists made available in the stationary isle. You are probably pulling together your list of needed supplies for homeschool. What curriculum will you use this year? How well did last year’s curriculum work out? What do we need to do differently? These are all questions that run through a homeschool mom’s mind as she gears up for the new year. If you are like me, you’ve been pondering these questions all summer and are pretty close to making some decisions. This is one my favorite parts of the school year! Aside from letting out for summer! It’s a brand new start and a chance to avoid the mistakes I made the year before. Of course, I will make different mistakes this year, but my kids and I will learn and grow from them!

Let’s Play!

Summer is a great time to encourage your kids to play educational games. Not only does it help to break the “I’m soooo bored!!” cycle, but it also helps prevent brain drain over the summer. There are so many great sites with learning games that kids love. In fact, you might want to consider having a scaled down “summer curriculum” for your kids. Spelling City has one such offering. If science is your kids’ thing, they would love the Science4Us summer program. We have a writer in our family, who would appreciate the lessons on Time4Writing.com. Whichever way you choose to go, with summer learning games, you can’t go wrong!

Summer Reading Lists

Reading is obviously an important activity for kids in 4th grade. But how does one find reading lists for elementary age students? Certainly your local library would be a great place to start. However it’s always nice to have something to go on before you arrive. One great site for homeschoolers to check is Homeschool Literature.com.

Some favorite books for 4th grade include:

There are so many good books out there, you may want your child to read them ALL. Remember to let them choose books with themes that interest them even while requiring certain classics.

Annual Testing

There are different laws in each state regarding annual testing. Some states don’t even require it. However, the majority of us are asked to assess our homeschoolers’ progress each year. In past years I have always waited till mid July to have our testing done. This year it dawned on me, why am I waiting so long?? I should be having it done as soon after we finish for the summer as possible, while the information is still fresh in my students’ minds.

With that in mind, I called our chosen tester to schedule our appointment. She informed me that the test has been updated. Oh, boy! This year the kids will be asked to edit sentences and then write their own sentences. Not something that we have practiced a lot of. Instead of panicking I turned to one of my favorite sites. Time4Writing has some great free resources which will work wonderfully to prepare my kids for this year’s testing.

Homeschool Mom Guilt

I think this is the season when we moms tend to start feeling like we haven’t done enough with our kids during the school year. With summer coming up and testing time looming, we feel the pressure. Sometimes it can help to stop and remember all the non-traditional learning that your kids got during the year. Like that trip to the Renaissance Fair where they got a healthy dose of hands on history. Or the trip to the beach where they learned about low tide, high tide and different types of sea shells. Don’t discount the numerous trips to the park where PE was in play. With a bit of reflection, I think you will discover that you and your kids spent much more time learning than you realize!

unit studies

You’ve probably heard of them, but what exactly is a unit study?  A unit study is simply learning about a particular subject, whether it be grasshoppers, ocean currents, or a particular book.  A unit study could be about anything, as long as you’re able to cover the material in depth and from different angles.  This method is great when you’re homeschooling multiple children, because the older kids can learn about predicting weather from ocean currents, for example, while the younger ones learn about the life cycle of a fish.  It’s all connected as a unit study about oceans!

Unit studies allow for superficial review of less interesting aspects of the subject matter, while allowing kids to explore particular areas they enjoy.  A unit study on oceans should probably include some geography, but could be expanded to include things like scuba diving and deep sea drilling too.  The flexibility appeals to moms and kids alike.

writing prompts

Besides online sources, there are books and teacher magazines galore with suggested writing prompts for kids, which are suggestions for what topic to write about.  Quite often these prompts will consist of a sentence or two and the child should complete the thought in a story.  For example, “If I had a million dollars, I would…..” or “As Sally got off the school bus this morning, a squirrel came by and grabbed her lunch bag.  Then he ran up a tree with her lunch and Sally…..”

Creative writing and storytelling are great ways to expands kids’ minds and sharpen their writing skills too.  Who ever said there was no room for imagination at school?

schoolwork while on a road trip

With our Thanksgiving trip to Grandma’s house this week, my family did some test-driving of the concept of roadschooling. What’s roadschooling? You know, homeschooling while on-the-go…In this case, we were just driving 8 hours to Grandma’s house, but lots of families employ this technique to their everyday lives. An image of RV’ers comes to mind, driving across the country in a motorhome and seeing the sights along the way. We stick to home base most of the time, but thank goodness for the internet, because we can do some schoolwork online while driving. My kids played online nature games and did some workbook pages about Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving hundreds of years ago. I brought the Schoolhouse Rock DVD for them to watch in the car, too. Every little bit counts, right?