Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tips for NOT Making Good Readers

Ok... I am being a little sarcastic... but humor me... We are always hearing tips on how to make good readers, how to get them to love  5th grade reading... and yes, I am guilty of it! But who doesn't want to make better readers?

Anyway here's how NOT to make a good reader...
1) Place a lot of requirements on your child to read.
2) Don't read aloud to your children
3) Choose books for your children to read that are too difficult for them
4) Never let your children see you read
5)Don't allow them to read when they feel like it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Schooling on a Budget

Homeschooling is an awesome adventure, but it isn't free. We are responsible to support and fund our own homeschool endeavors even though we pay taxes to cover our children's education. This wonderful endeavor we call homeschool does cost. Yet, the good news is that there are great ways to avoid breaking the budget.

Make your goals for homeschooling meet your budget. Are you more interested in homeschooling or having a fancy car and a big house.

Use online homeschool resources that are free or very inexpensive. For example: online learning games.

Look for used homeschool curriculum and buy from online sites like ebay or amazon.

Use coupons to help make ends meet.

Don't eat out... try to make healthy home made dinners... they are more frugal!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Scheduling For Fifth Graders

I get asked quite frequently how we schedule our homeschool, and what we do on a daily basis. This has not always been an easy question. Some years we have had a rotating schedule, some years we worked off and on with a variety of different projects.

Yet, this year finally we have a schedule that seems to be working for each of us. We started this year using block scheduling. Each day we focus on one primary subject. Though we do smaller subjects such as Bible and Latin each day. The key to making a schedule that works for you and your family is to find exactly what you need. Sit down and map out exactly what you want from your schedule. Write down your daily goals and focus your schedule on the best way that will meet those goals.

Sometimes using a planner, or writing out your daily schedule on a white board works to keep everyone focused and headed in the right direction. Whatever your method... be consistent and it will work for you!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fifth Grade Math

Math... ahh... it elicits either very positive expressions or very negative expressions. Either way - many people view this subject as the curse of all education. Yet, I love it! It is definitely one of my very favorite subjects.

Math is an essential core subject, and it is integral to all other parts of education. Mathematics enables students to develop abstract concepts, logic, and critical thinking skills. Mathematics gives students the ability to use logic to reason through complex situations and problems.

Yet, with all of this we can't get around the fact that many people still really hate math. Whenever, I teach math I never present it in a difficult light. I always try to find the easiest way to go about teaching the concepts, by using math games for example, and I always try to put it into their language. In fact, the best way to get their interest and keep it positive is to present math problems as a puzzle! If they look at it in that light - it is no longer negative but positive and fun!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Use Your Freedom

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if we no longer had the freedom to homeschool? I know that I truly would be broken hearted. Homeschooling is a vital part of our lives. It is who we are, how we learn. Yet, I believe that I take that freedom for granted.

The freedom that we experience in America is much more open than what other countries or nations have for their citizens. We have the freedom to be what we feel that we need to be for our children. This may include everything from eclectic homeschooling to homeschooling online.

Our freedom to homeschool is precious and dear. Take your time today to enjoy that freedom and consider it sacred!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Secular Homeschool for Fifth Grade

There are homeschoolers out there from every different facet of life, every religion, and every philosophical bend. Homeschooling appeals to people across cultures, races, religions, and economic backgrounds. The one thing that we do have in common is that we all feel that homeschooling is the best choice for our family.

There are many differing opinions on just exactly what secular homeschooling means. Here is a definition provided by a homeschooling mom named "topsytechie."

A secular homeschooler is a person who, whether or not they
ascribe to any particular religious faith, is not homeschooling for
religious reasons, but because it is the best choice for themselves and
their child(ren).

This pretty much sums it up, and seems to me to be a positive viewpoint of what secular homeschooling is meant to be.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Considering Homeschooling?

Have you been toying with the idea of homeschooling? Are you thinking about giving it a whirl? I hope that you do... it was one of the best decisions that I ever made. But there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when beginning this journey.

1)Review all of your options and speak with veteran homeschoolers
2) Speak with your spouse and determine what is best for your family. The entire family will need to work together to make it work!
3) Determine what style of homeschool curriculum fits your family's needs. Each person and each family has specific needs that will determine exactly what curriculum will work best for them.
4)Determine where you will learn. Some do better with a specific place, and others do well wherever they find a spot.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Supplementing Homeschool Online For Free

Are you always trying to figure out fresh new ways to educate your children? Do you children get bored with the same old same old? I know mine do. They get in a rut, and eventually they begin to get bored - they lose interest and things get old. But - it doesn't have to be that way. There are lots of great ways to get your kids excited about learning by supplementing your existing curriculum.

Here are a few great sites that you can do this with simply and for.... (drumroll please).... FREE!
1) Visit learning games for kids
2) Make spelling a no brainer by using Spelling and Vocabulary City
3) Get vocabulary help with Vocabulary Games for Kids
4)Practice multiplication facts with Timez Attack

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Put some Spring into Your Homeschool

Some people homeschool year round, either using their regular curricula or a summer school program, while others just stick with the summer off schedule. I personally, like the latter simply because it gives me the much needed break that I require to get recharged and ready for another year. It may also be because I am a teacher and some habits break hard... Yet, each year as school is winding down and we are trying to put the finishing touches on our last few lessons. Things seem to get tedious. The weather is beautiful and no one wants to be inside. We all get ready to be finished with schoolwork. Yet, finish we must...

There's no reason you should suffer through monotonous final days... change things up... energize the whole bunch to get through the last few days with a bang. Give yourself a change of scenery - have school in the back yard! If that doesn't work, take a day off and go have some fun. Have a picnic or go fishing - or go to the zoo. Give them an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather, and then having refreshed yourselves - you can dive back in to finish!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Raising Responsible Fifth Graders

Many years ago, when I taught first grade I had a student whose parents really babied him. They would actually carry him to class - in first grade! He had difficulties doing almost everything we did in first grade. He was less mature than the other children, and just couldn't keep up with the subject matter.

From this experience, I learned that parents who expect much of their children are actually teaching their children responsibility and even fostering maturity in them. If we expect age appropriate behavior from our children, we are more likely to get it than if we expected nothing of them. If we teach them how they should act, or how to perform certain behaviors and they don't - they typically receive a punishment. If they do act as they should and behave appropriately we reward them. All of these actions are part of the wonderful cycle of teaching our children responsibility. Fifth graders are ready and able to be given the responsibility of doing many things around the house. Remember, their maturity level will correspond to what you expect from them!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Strengths = Success

The traditional method of teaching a child by determining all the areas that children are deficient in and then focusing on those areas in their learning is not the most beneficial method of education. Children often don't do well in an area simply because they are not proficient in it. It may just be an inherent inability. We often focus on these deficiencies and the student can only see that they aren't measuring up.

However, if we change our focus of education to majoring on a child's strengths and encouraging them to really pursue those things that they do well on - this can make a huge difference in how they learn. Finding your child's strengths and discovering homeschool curriculum or materials that help them to develop and grow these strengths can change their entire outlook on learning. Instead of focusing on the negative, they are focusing on the positive and they find confidence and strength in doing well!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Grammar Studies for Fifth Graders

Learning grammar may not be the most exciting studies that we have our children do, but it has meaning and relevance to many other subjects. Grammar study can be difficult and most children don't just "love" it. Yet, the study of grammar is definitely one of those foundation studies that is essential.

Grammar studies can help your student become a better writer, and even a better reader. As they study grammar the principles of language become intrinsic to them, and therefore enables them to understand proper syntax. In fact, a good writer is a writer who uses good syntax and grammar. It makes it easy to understand writing when the words flow. Good grammar makes this possible.

Grammar also makes us able to answer questions clearly and concisely. Grammar study also enables students to be successful in other subjects when writing projects and papers. So, clearly grammar study is beneficial to not only the 5th grade Language Arts, but to all other subjects as well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fifth Grade Foreign Language

Learning a foreign language is not just for high schoolers! We can get a head start on being more fully prepared in language study if we can encourage our younger children to begin foreign language study earlier.

I am not talking about pressuring our children to be superstar brainiacs. I am just talking about getting more out of language study. To be honest, when I was in high school I took three years of Spanish. You would think after all that time that I would be able to speak the language fluently. Yet, I can't.

I encourage younger children to begin language learning, simply to get more out of their language study. If they can get an early start they will be able to invest more in their study and become fluent. There really is no point to studying a language if you don't intend to fluently speak the language. Introducing your child to a language program like Rosetta Stone and foreign language games when they are in fifth grade can make a huge difference in the long run!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Support Through Connections

Sometimes homeschooling can get lonely. If you have moved, or just don't have any connections to other families in your local area it can get very lonely! The best way to avoid being lonely and having your kids sad is to get connected.

I suggest looking online to see if you can find any local co ops or homeschool groups that you could become a part of. Join little league or get involved in 4-H. You will meet lots of homeschoolers that way and have fun while you are at it!

Another great way to make connections is through homeschooling parent forums. This is an awesome way to ask questions, or voice concerns about homeschooling, and to find friends in your own area. Make connections and feel the support!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fifth Grade Science Ideas

I love teaching fifth graders. They are not quite grown, yet they are not quite "little." It's exciting and fun. There are so many things you can do with fifth graders. One of which is adding a bit of excitement to science class by incorporating gardening into you lessons.

You can introduce the various aspects of seed germination and growth and experiment with it by planting your own seeds. You can even review with online science games.

Students will enjoy studying how the various plants like different types of soil, or amounts of water. Students can examine the roots systems, watch how the plants grow leaves, and then observe as the plants begin to blossom and fruit.

At harvest, students can study the correct times and ways to harvest the various plants, and then plan on how you would keep and store the harvest. A garden can provide your fifth graders with an outdoor science classroom!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

No Stressin' on Testin'

Do your children love to take tests? Do your children get totally stressed out when they test? I guess most of my children are somewhere in between. They don't really get crazy stressed out, but they do get pretty nervous. Yet, I have tutored young men between the grades of 3rd to high school that actually get so nervous, especially math anxiety, that they fail every test. I am not even talking about high stakes testing. I am talking about regular weekly class tests.

When your child has an issue with testing stress you need to learn a few ways that you can help him/her find peace. First, tell them that this isn't the end of the world. Though their stress may compound with each test that they fail they may not be able to see this. In our homeschool, I have told my children that if they fail the test we can always retest. We can go back relearn the subject matter, and then retest on the material. No stress! Also make sure that when they are in the day of the test, that they are not rushed or stressed out about other issues. Even if they have been able to calm themselves about their test stress, other stresses may affect their ability to test well! Help them be as relaxed and prepared as possible!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Instilling a Love for Reading

As we've talked about before, reading is the gateway to knowledge. Every language and every culture has admitted this. Even ancient writing, such as the Bible tell us that knowledge and wisdom are found through study. Yet, bringing that realization to a love and desire to actually read is another situation.

Instilling in your child a love of reading as they are learning to read, is not easy, but it can be accomplished through EXPOSING them to good literature, good reading examples, and to good libraries. I have seen even my reluctant 10 year old son get excited when entering a library full of good books. There is just something about the stacks of stories, adventures, and interesting facts that just call to you.

Grow a love for reading in your child by reading with them and reading to them. Fifth grade is not too old to still have read alouds with their family. Enjoy it together and see the love grow!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Change is Good

Have you even bought what you thought was an awesome homeschool curriculum? Have you even changed your mind once you started using it? Wow... I sure have. I have invested time and money into things that were just absolutely wrong for our homeschool. I have had to stop mid year and just admit that it wasn't working. I have found that if I just remember that CHANGE IS GOOD... I can look at what we were doing and find a plausible solution that meets our needs much better.

I don't worry that I wasted money - you know you can always sell your old curriculum on ebay! Yet, before you actually commit to a new curriculum make sure that you review what it was aobut the old one that you hated, and what you would like to see the new curriculum accomplish. With this in mind, you can search all related curriculum options for the subject matter and find a curriculum that better suits what you were looking for. So changing in the middle of the year actually brings you to a place where you are more in tune with what you are looking for out of a curriculum. We can always learn from our mistakes!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In the Moment

Our children learn so much from us. Sometimes that is really scary! Yet, in light of all of the moments in every day that we spend with them,there are times that we can really take advantage of to teach them awesome life lessons.

Some people refer to these opportunities as "teachable moments." That is exactly what they are. They are incidental moments in which our children have done something or are invovled in something that just naturally lead us into teaching them!

Keep your eyes peeled for these opportunities. These moments don't come everyday... and it's these moments that usually give our children the most meaningful lessons that stick with them throughout life. Use the teachable moments of life...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Get Your 5th Grader Thinking

One of the buzz words in education today is critical thinking skills. Yes, over the past decades we have allowed this area of education to become very neglected. In fact, it is so covered in cobwebs that most of us can't even tell you what it is.

Critical thinking is that ability of a child to logically reason through situations and experiences. In the past, critical thinking was taught to students through the lessons of logic and the rigorous requirements of classical education. The study of logic is an ancient study. One that brought us the great philosophers of the enlightenment. So, why have we neglected this?

It really is simple. There is just not enough time in schools to get all the children to the levels that they need to be at (to keep funding or accreditation). So, there just really isn't time for the uneccessary stuff like critical thinking, art, and even music classes. WAIT! That is just wrong. Critical thinking is necessary and so is art and music. Homeschoolers have the freedom and time to include this in their studies. It can be included even for young students by doing fun puzzle games and logic games. Don't forget to get your child thinking!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

5th Grade State History

History is one of my favorite subjects. I enjoy learning all of the interesting facts and people and places. I love learning about what the people before me were like and how they lived. Their lives have had an impact on time and influenced what our culture is like today. We owe them much gratitude.

Studying state history can be so much fun for 5th grade social studies. You see, you have all of the information, locations, and artifacts right at your fingertips. You can access state parks, visit your states museums, and even your state official historical locations. You can find these interesting places online, study them, and then to make history really come alive you can load up in the car and go for a visit. Your children will get excited to see how history comes alive when you see, feel, hear, and experience where these things really happened.

In our homeschool we try to do this at least once a year. It is an exciting way to experience history beyond the facts!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Blame Game

Homeschooling is an adventure! Wouldn't you agree? I am not new to homeschooling, as I have been doing it for quite some time, and the further we go on this journey - the more I see that it is a great adventure. Every day we learn something - even if it is something that we shouldn't do! We can learn from mistakes as well as from the perfect and right way to do something.

When something you've been working on in your homeschool goes awry... don't focus on the problem... and don't play the "Blame Game." Sadly, I am speaking from experience. I have so often picked a bad curriculum or just didn't teach the kids something right and then beat myself up over my failure. I want to hang around there and just play that blame game until I feel that I have punished myself enough.

Do yourself a favor and don't go there. Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, making mistakes is how we learn not to do something! So,if you've had some problems with homeschooling over the past few months... don't let it get you down. Just learn from your mistakes and move on!