August 18, 2017

Dear Homeschool Mom ❤ {5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop}

Dear Homeschool Mom~ An open letter
Dear Homeschool Mom
(or whoever you are),
Hi. It's me, another overwhelmed homeschool parent. I am like you right now. Staring at another year in the trenches. Taking deep breaths. Trying to convince myself that I've got this. I've already knocked out six years, so I should be a pro now. 

Except I'm not.

August 17, 2017

How We Take the School Outside The Home {5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop}

Taking School Outside The Home {Back to School Blog Hop}
There is a myth among some in society that to homeschool means that you school at home. We keep inside our four walls, never to leave. We only stay among ourselves. No interaction with the world. No SOCIALIZATION beyond each other. THIS IS A LIE! Today, I want to talk about how our family, and many other families take school OUTSIDE of the home on a regular basis. By the end of this post, I hope you will see how ridiculous the idea of homeschoolers only interacting with each other truly is and how "socialized" homeschool children really can be. But also to encourage you as a homeschool parent (if you are one) to take advantage of our freedom to take school OUTSIDE the home!

When you were a child, did you only learn about how to do things and function in society and the world by going to school? Was that the only place that learning occurred for you? Did you learn how to cook there? What about how to drive? Finances? How to interact with others? What about taxes? Sports? Music? How to change a tire? What a bird sounds like? How to grow food? What a fort looked like? Did you only learn about the beach by reading or being taught about the beach? What about marine life? Animals on the African savanna? Was your learning confined to the four walls of a classroom?

Please tell me you said, "NO!"

August 16, 2017

Homeschool Planning and Record Keeping w/Free Printables {5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop}

One of the biggest questions that homeschool parents have for each other is “What curriculum works best for (insert age)?” The next question most common is “How do you plan out your year?” Followed by “what do you do for grades?” I have chatted all about picking curriculum in a previous post you can read here (Homeschool Curriculum Planning) and here (5 Mistakes I've Made With Curriculum), so let’s talk a little bit about planning curriculum lessons, and then recording WHAT we do—i.e. record keeping.

Lesson Planning

When it comes to lesson planning there are sooo many different styles and methods you can use. You really just need to find a way that fits you best. Ask yourself a few questions:

●Do I prefer paper/pencil style of planning or would I rather have it all digital?
●Do I want to see a year at a glance? Monthly assignments? Weekly?
●Do I want to be able to plan in detail all in one place, or just have a general idea of what is to be done?
●Do I want to see all my children’s lesson plans at one time?

Once you know the answers to these questions, it is a LOT easier to know what you are actually looking for in a lesson planner. Many curriculums provide you with suggested lesson plans. These are very helpful when determining how the curriculum will look spread over your year. You can simply then copy into your own planner what THEY suggest is done. Maybe tweaking it as needed. If you are a digital planner, you will have to set aside time to sit and enter in all the information into a program. It can be tedious, but having an email pop up with everything your children need to do for the day, may be just your style! Or clicking one button to shift everything around instead of having to erase.

Once you have decided HOW you want to do it, just start looking at different planners! There are MANY free downloadable ones available. Pinterest is full of links to them. Maybe you have a spiral binding machine, or a print shop that can put it all together for you? This might be the way to go to truly customize WHAT you want in a printed binder. Another option may be to look at pre-designed, printed, and bound homeschool planners. Places like Apologia and Mardel are two companies which publish best selling planners—they include a lot of sample pages for you to look at. I have reviewed the Apologia planner before—and I actually BOUGHT the Mardel "A Simple Plan" for me to use this year.

If you want to get an idea of some planners I myself have used before, here is a video I did dedicated TO talking about different planner ideas. I cover two digital ones, three paper ones, and two children planners.

I wrote another blog post about planning out your homeschool routine that you can read from last year which I think may be helpful too!

Recordkeeping

Now—states are different in regards to the homeschooling rules for how much recordkeeping needs to be done. You may live in a state with NO rules for homeschooling so you can basically just do whatever you want—keeping in mind the long term goal of transcripts for high school that will be transferable to college. I live in the next level of states—the ones with minimal rules. I have to do progress reports which follow the local school districts time frames, and a final report card—as well as attendance. The next two levels of homeschooling states increase the amount of record keeping required—so it’s very important you know WHAT is required for your state. I urge you to join HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) to stay on top of that.

So let’s get back to what my rules are for my state (Kentucky)—I need attendance, progress reports, and a report card. There are so many different ways to make progress reports! The local ones for the public schools usually include letter grading for grades 3+. The early elementary is still pretty much the pass/fail, excellent/satisfactory/needs work style. So what do I do? I use the grammar school style of excellent/satisfactory style. Why? Because this way I can do a clear assessment of progress throughout a year towards mastery. I like to see how work has improved as the year continues.

When it comes to end of the year reports, there are some subjects which DO have grades. But these are few, not the norm. And it is usually because of whatever type of curriculum I am using.

So how do I calculate the progress? Before I “grade” them, I make a clear list of my goals and expectations for the subject/curriculum. I include things like comprehension, neatness, completion of work, etc. This allows me to give realistic progress reports.

But what about Kindergarten? It’s so basic—how do you do a progress report?

I did a progression of things like:
*Writing their name
*Writing a sentence I dictated (The black cat sat by the dog.)
*Identifying colors/numbers/sight words/shapes
*Does he know his phone number or address?

With our progress reports those years, I did the SAME questions so that I could have visible documentation of their progress in these areas. Then I just made notes of the strengths and weaknesses’ they displayed. This is why you can easily just type out a progress report. Maybe even a page per topic/subject. Or just paragraphs for each one.

If want something a bit more “official” looking I have designed three different progress report pages for you. Feel free to print these out and use them as desired! One has the standard subjects already added; one has the subject area blank. The other allows for a more documented progress with room for paragraph writing.



Another big thing for record keeping is the attendance. Some planners have attendance sheets, while others do not. So, if you need a quick and easy sheet you can add wherever, I've got you covered!



I hope that these simple sheets will help you get started with your recordkeeping. One of the bonuses of having an account with Schoolhouseteachers.com is that it comes with a FREE subscription to AppleCore Recordkeeping. I use Applecore for creating my final report cards because I can quickly enter the subjects and have it spit out the "official" record. I can also enter my attendance into it for a quick calculation of my total days. If you get the PREMIUM subscription to Schoolhouseteachers, you also get the GOLD AppleCore subscription which even allows you to make transcripts! here is a video to learn more about AppleCore...


Remember, there is no extra cost for AppleCore Recordkeeping IF you have the inexpensive subscription to the super fabulous Schoolhouseteachers.com--full curriculum for K-12 website! There are also FREE printable planners available as a membership bonus!

Finally--when your year is over, and you are going through everything that your children created, be merciless! LOL! If you don't NEED to save all of their work--DON'T! It's not like taxes! Every year, I pick the best demonstration of how they have improved through the year--maybe an exemplary report, or paragraph they wrote. A few tests. A completed workbook. But here is the catch--if it doesn't fit in a manila envelope, it doesn't get saved! Each boy gets ONE manila envelope for me to keep their best work in. When I have it all together, I finish by sliding in their progress reports and report card. Then I label the front with the name and school year. Now it's EASY to store! I can put them in a file folder container and keep it in our loft.

Well I hope you have gotten an idea about how you can stay on top of planning and recordkeeping from our chat. I hope that at least one of the printables I have created will benefit you in some way!

There are 35 other bloggers doing the blog hop this week, so make sure you pop over to the Homeschool Review Crew to visit some other blogs this week! Join me tomorrow when I share ways that we take Homeschool OUTSIDE the Home for Day 4 of the 5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop for 2017! Have a simply marvelous evening!