Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum

What is your favorite first grade homeschool curriculum? What makes it your favorite? Does it meet your child’s learning style? Is it easy to follow, totally scripted, and quick to implement?

Finding the perfect homeschool curriculum is almost impossible. It is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Mos of the time you will not find a ‘perfect’ curriculum, but several really good ones. A curriculum that claims to be the ‘end all’ sends red flags up for me.

When I’m looking for a good first grade science curriculum, for example, some of the things I look for are lots of hands-on activities with textbook or online learning. I like something that is laid out very well, but that I can stray from when I choose. I check demos or excerpts of the lessons to see first hand the quality of what I will be getting. I want to know if it is aligned to state and national standards. I want to know if the cost includes everything I need, or will I need to purchase extra items. I want to know if the company I purchase from has some type of warranty or refund policy.

You will have some of the same requirements I’ve listed and many more. Just keep in mind that even when you think you have thoroughly checked out a potential curriculum, once you get it home, it just might not be what you need or want. That’s what homeschool swap boards are for.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Solid Foundation

Learning to read involves practice, practice, and more practice. A healthy blend of phonics and sight words lays a good solid foundation for learning to read. Playing short vowel games helps kids understand those sounds that can be hard for some kids to master. If your child is a right-brained visual learner, then you might want to consider online flash animation games, charts, graphs, use of colors…to stimulate them.

Let your child read into a recorder so they can hear themselves. Have them practice by reading to a younger sibling, their pet, or a stuffed animal or doll. Create language experience stories with your child. Help them write the stories down. Encourage them to practice reading those stories. Have one night every month or so where your child reads a short story to the whole family.
Just keep practicing, practicing, and practicing!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I know you have explained what syllables are to your first grader. So what are they? According to Dictionary.com, a syllable is an uninterrupted segment of speech consisting of a vowel sound, a diphthong, or a syllabic consonant, with or without preceding or following consonant sounds: “Eye,” “sty,” “act,” and “should” are English words of one syllable. “Eyelet,” “stifle,” “enact,” and “shouldn't” are two-syllable words.

Breaking words into syllables helps kids decode words. It is one component of phonological awareness. Students gain the ability to hear phonemes that comprise words and to explore speech sounds as syllables. Students who have well-developed phonological skills generally learn to read with more success. Kids can “clap” syllables, put their hand over their mouth and see how many times their mouth opens, or play other syllable games.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Rainbow of Gifts and Talents

Homeschoolers comes in a rainbow of gifts and talents. Some are gifted mathematicians, some hate math. Some take hours to complete a lesson and others zip right through them. Some need remedial help. Some have physical challenges. Some are gung ho and some are burned out. Some are sweet all day and others need a nap twice a day. Despite their gifts and talents or lack thereof, all are unique and precious. They just want to know you believe in them.

Special needs learning represents a great many homeschoolers. Parents who homeschool their special needs child feel they can give their child more attention and a better quality education because they have their child’s best interest at heart. They understand their child’s needs. They know their child can achieve whatever they set their mind to. They sound like every other homeschool child to me...able to achieve whatever they set their mind to. Isn’t it wonderful that kids can be taught in an atmosphere where the sky's the limit. They are nurtured and expected to achieve, so they do, regardless of their special education needs or their academic giftedness.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Popular Homeschool Word Lists

Does your child cry when it comes time to practice spelling? Are they bored or frustrated? Regardless of which, it might be time to change the way you handle spelling.

Frustration and boredom can both be averted, to some degree, by adding spelling games to your curricula. Use popular word lists for spelling practice. Base your spelling practice on problem words you find in your child’s writing. Start by learning to spell basic Dolch words

Let your child be the teacher and test your spelling. They can give you a spelling test which they grade. They will have to know how to spell the words they give you, or have an answer sheet. Even if they use an answer sheet, they will be focused on the correct spellings in order to grade your paper. Be sure to miss a few so they can correct them. It makes excellent practice for them.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Homeschool Phonics

Learning to read is foremost for all first graders. If a solid foundation is laid down in the beginning, all other skills will come much easier. Phonics is a huge part of laying down that crucial foundation.

Actually a healthy blend of phonics and sight word curriculum works best. There are just some words that cannot be sounded out. Dolch Words are a good place to start. Some kids benefit from drill and repetition while others need hands-on lessons, visual stimulation, or games. If you are unsure of your child’s learning style, choose a variety of methods. That will make sure cover the most senses.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Homeschool Summer School

Unless you homeschool year round, summer is time for fun and relaxation. We used to homeschool year round, but during the summer we were very laid back and took things much slower. How do you handle the summer months?

Some kids need a little extra practice during the summer months just to stay sharp. Some kids need remedial help during the summer. Online summer school is one answer. Kids can work at their own pace on specific areas of need. If your child just needs help in one area, say online tutoring in writing, then just have them work on that one area so that they don’t view themselves as being punished over the summer.

Keep summer learning relaxed and loose. You will be surprised at how much your kids pick up and retain.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Homeschool LIterature

Homeschooling is an adventure. You get to choose how and what to teach your child. You get to choose the books you want you child exposed to. Literature for homeschoolers is rich. You can choose living books if that is your fave. You can choose books about homeschoolers or written by homeschoolers. You can even have your child join a homeschool book club. How great is that?

It is easy to setup literature-based word lists to cover spelling exercises each week. Many popular books have spelling lists already created. They are free to use at SpellingCity.com. Literature games are another way to review favorite stories. Online educational games have become very popular among homeschoolers. Let you kids play a few today.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Homeschool Keyboarding

When I was a kid, typing classes were not taught until high school. I can still remember sitting in a class full of clicking and buzzing typewriters. I was one of the lucky ones though, I snagged an electric typewriter.

Time and technology marches on. First graders learn keyboarding as part of their homeschool curriculum today. Kids learning software requires to use a keyboard to answer questions and create things.

The hunt and peck method just doesn't cut it in today’s techie world, although my husband is king of this style of typing. Just don’t challenge him to a typing test unless you have an extra hour!

Keyboarding games are the most popular method for teaching typing today. Kids are encouraged to push harder and harder with each game, trying to beat their last time with fewer errors. The flash animation and arcade style games capture their attention and they learn to type in a low pressure situation.