Once upon a time I was a teacher. A reading specialist, actually. I pulled children out from the classroom and held small group and one-on-one instruction with them. I watched second grade students reading at the kindergarten level (still working on letter sounds) advance to their proper grade level over the course of a semester. It was incredible to be a part of that transition for those children!
Sometimes, though, I think I learned more than they did during that time. I learned that the BIGGEST contributing factor to reading success is not instruction time, flash cards, or hands on techniques. It is simply time spent reading together. Working out those sounds, together. Encountering new words, together. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t have to be a teacher and student interaction. It can be parent with child, classmates, siblings, friends, and even stuffed animals.
I have a memory of reading in third grade… My teacher put us in small groups of two or three to read together. She must have seen the future teacher in my eyes, because she whispered to me when she partnered me with the child reading at the lowest level, “I think you can be a great helper for Tina. Can you help her read today?” I will never forget the pride I felt being able to help my friend.
When I taught Bean how to read, we focused a lot on sight words alongside basic phonics. I learned in college that children worked best with a combination of phonics and whole word methods, so we utilized both. It was exhilarating to watch her learn to read before kindergarten with our Preschool Prep Company Meet the Sight Words videos, flashcards, and books. Her excitement over each learned word was infectious.
While Bean is a fantastic reader today, reading at least two levels above her grade level, she struggles with the rules of the English language. She is more likely to take guesses at long unfamiliar words than she is to sound each letter or letter combination. She has a terrible time remembering spelling patterns and has been known to read entire books while mispronouncing names, places, or other words. At some point that will interfere with her comprehension, I am certain.
As I have learned so many times on our homeschool journey, passing time means furthering society’s knowledge about education. As research has continued, data has been collected, and new conclusions have been drawn, the ever-changing world of education, well, changes…
One day last year, I stumbled upon a YouTube video, where Denise Eide explains the logical side of English. After watching it, I sort of had an “aha!” moment and decided I needed to learn more, so bought her book, “Uncovering the Logic of English: A Common Sense Approach to Teaching Reading, Spelling, and Literacy,” for my Kindle and did some reading. After just a few pages, I knew she had the right ideas. I wasn’t even half way through the book before I decided I’d check out her homeschool program.
My last post was about discipline and being open to changing your parenting philosophy, rather than living in misery with misbehaving children. So, what does daily life look like in our home with our “well-behaved children”? I’ll start by saying it is far from perfect.
But despite the stressful moments, our home and our homeschool function fairly well. My children know what is expected of them and what the consequences are of failing to do what is expected. They also know they are loved deeply and we all exchange hugs and snuggles and “I love you’s” multiple times throughout the day.
We start the day with our Morning Routine Chart, a marker board with all of our goals for the day written for each child. They know to get started on their list as soon as they are up and dressed. I’m not too picky about this first thing in the morning, though, so if they stop and play a bit, most days that’s okay. They have all day to do school! If it is a busy day though, and I know they won’t have an opportunity to work on it later, I let them know. Continue reading
I often tell parents who are considering homeschool that they should have a good handle on their discipline before they begin homeschooling. It is so important that children do not argue or second guess every direction you give, and you especially don’t want meltdowns! Balancing life at home with the children is hard enough as it is. Adding in meltdowns, arguments, and outright defiance can make the job nearly impossible!
I am sharing our story, but not because I think this way is the best way for everyone. I am sharing it because I often meet people who are unhappy with their child’s behavior or attitude, but for some reason or another are unwilling to change their parenting style. I was once like that, but now I feel it is important to try something new if what you’re doing isn’t working for you. In the cases where parents are not getting the results they want, they need to look to themselves, not their child. All too often parents just give up, saying they have a “wild child” or a “strong-willed child”. The PARENTS are the ones who need to make changes in one way or another to alleviate the problems.
Now, if your child is a little monster and you are perfectly happy with that, then by all means continue down the path you are on, but if you want something bigger and better for your kiddo, then read, learn, experiment. Find what works. Do not give up. You will get there, mama. You will. Be open-minded and find the method that works for you and yours. Continue reading
Yesterday was the last day of school for the public school students in Hawaii. Some schools are on a track system (they share classroom space, so the student body is divided into 4 groups, only 3 of which are ever attending class at any given time), so they will continue a bit further into the summer, but for the most part, school is O. U. T. What does that mean for homeschool families? It means the lines at the water park will be long, the beaches will be crowded, and the parking lots full. Homeschooling families will have to share our coveted day time playground space, our empty malls and grocery stores, and all the “fun” spots with thousands of other carefree little people. Ugh.
The. struggle. is. REAL.
But I have to say, the WORST part about public school being out for homeschoolers is that we need to get our end of year reports typed up and sent out. In the state of Hawaii, we have to turn in a yearly progress report to our local school to demonstrate that our students have indeed, learned this year. Sounds easy enough, right? But sifting through the laws and the completed school work, plus the way my mind overthinks EVERYTHING, makes this a fairly stressful experience. Someday, I swear, I am GOING to stop overthinking everything, but for now, it works for me.
Signing up for this whole homeschool gig can be intimidating, that’s for sure. You have to worry about following the law AND not screwing your kids up at the same time. It’s a delicate balance. When I found out I had to write a letter of intent to homeschool, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Writing, then subsequently turning in that letter meant that I INTENDED TO HOMESCHOOL. I was deeming myself and my husband as wholly, completely responsible for the education of our child. Which, of course, means I was deeming MYSELF responsible, because let’s face it, if sh*t is going to fly with this homeschool gig, it’s going to land on the parent-teacher… ME.
But alas, it had to be done, so night after night I worked through my intense nerves (which involved much stomach cramping, nausea, and sweating) googling what others had written for their letters, and I finally managed to write up our letter of intent to homeschool. Because I want your experience to be a little less stinky than mine (see what I did there? Sweat, stinky? hehe), I will share this document here with you. You only need to turn in a LOI once at each school your child should be attending in the state of Hawaii, so if you move, you need to send a new LOI, if your child is promoted from elementary to middle school, you need to send a new LOI, and if your child is promoted from middle to high school, you need to submit a new LOI. My LOI is written mostly for those residing in this great state of Hawaii, but with a few small alterations it could be used for other states as well. Please feel free to copy it, alter it, and use it for your own. I only ask that if you choose to share it, please do so by directing people here to get it for themselves. Here it is: LOI Template Hawaii
Recently, I was asked to create a fun Earth Day craft to share in an e-newsletter for a local social media company called Moms In Hawaii. I am honored to do so! My kids were pretty excited about the opportunity as well, so we went to work on it a few weeks ago, thinking up some exciting activities that families can do at home to celebrate Earth Day. We came up with LOTS of ideas, of course mixing in a little homeschool in the process (hehe), and we settled on: Earth Day Veggie Stamps! Read on to find out how you can enjoy a fun painting session with your children to celebrate Earth Day on April 22.
We started by reading some Earth Day-themed books together. In addition to those shown below, we also read Dr. Seuss, The Lorax. This helped get the kids to understand a bit more about why we celebrate Earth Day and what it means for our futures. The library always has lots of book on the subject and is a wonderful resource if you don’t have any on-hand. And of course, if you’re just in it for the craft, you can totally skip this part!