Public School or Home School?

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Abigail and Eliza
2nd Gr and K-4

We’ve had a lot going on these past couple weeks.  It all started when my husband and I finally went on a long overdue date, thanks to our wonderfully gracious Mothers who offered to watch the kids for a few hours.  We were able to talk through many things that have been looming over our heads during the summer months.  One topic in particular was the topic of this year’s homeschooling curriculum.  I had been asking him for weeks to help me get things set in stone for our 7 year old to start 3rd Grade Math and 2nd Grade Reading, Writing, Science, and so on.  We had gone through most of her 2nd Grade workbooks last year, but we were interrupted by my husband’s new job and our newborn baby boy, Timmy.

My husband had been able to help with homeschooling up until March of this year when he started his job as a web developer for a new company and was no longer able to work from home twice a week.  I had especially been needing help since our baby boy, Timmy, was born in December of last year.  Plus, I’m not always on top of things when he’s not there cheering us on.  So, needless to say, we were feeling a bit overwhelmed by the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.  Our heads just weren’t in the game like they should be.

Our conversation began over a couple of mocha shakes around 7pm.  We knew it was going to be a long night, so coffee sounded like a good choice at the time.  We began talking about what our schedules were going to look like for the Fall Season.  My husband talked about his desire to improve his health and activity level and I expressed the same desire.  We talked about the time we would need to focus on that and added that into the schedule.  Then, we began discussing our spiritual health.  We both would be signing up for our separate small groups in addition to our Sunday morning meetings with another couple at our church.  These things were all added to the schedule. Add in the date nights and grocery shopping trips every week and we had a full schedule to say the least.  Plus, my husband decided then and there that he would be signing up for a History course at our area technical college!  Well, that would mean that he would be maxed out for time.

After taking a few good sips of our mocha shakes, we came to the topic of education for our children.  Since being married, we had always thought that homeschooling would be a great adventure and superior to any public school education.

Some things we thought homeschooling would offer:

  • Flexibility with schedule and curriculum
  • A closer relationship with our children
  • A faith-based alternative to public school curriculum
  • The ability to advance our children as we see fit
  • Giving our children one-on-one teaching
  • Allowing our children to take part in daily activities and chores
  • A superior education and learning experience

What we’ve now discovered that homeschooling offers (in addition to those listed above):

  • An often stressful environment for parents with many small children
  • Distractions are everywhere!
  • Organization is a MUST!
  • Learning can take place at any time, not just during the day
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Having Mom in your face every day doesn’t.
  • “… with many advisors they succeed” Proverbs 15:22.  Having more than one teacher is a good thing!
  • A superior education and learning experience may be hindered at home

After discussing our findings from the previous homeschooling year, we trudged on to our options for the upcoming school year.  It was already mid-August!  What could be done?  We reflected on our public school experience and the statistics for the schools in our area.  We knew that our children would be in good hands if we were to enroll them in the public elementary school close to our home.  Our county schools are known for educational excellence.  If we were living in the city, we would not even have considered enrolling them in a public school.  But, we love the county we live in and know many of the people in it.

Our conclusion?  Add “start 2nd grade at the local elementary school” on to the schedule for our 7 yr old and call it a night!

The weeks following our date night were busy to say the least.  My days have been filled with paper work, e-mails, and phone calls to the school.  I was able to get my 7 yr old, Abigail, enrolled in 2nd grade and couldn’t be happier about our decision.  Everyone at the school has been very helpful and Abigail is super duper excited to start school next week!  I will still be homeschooling my soon-to-be 5 yr old (on Sept. 7th) since I couldn’t get her enrolled in Kindergarten for this year.  She is sad, but I know she will work extra hard this year to prepare for Kindergarten next year.  She may even be able to skip right to 1st grade!  Not sure she’ll want to, though.

We’re all excited for Fall and look forward to a year filled with learning and growing!

 

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10 Best Apps for Homeschooling: Early Education (Pre-K, K5, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and 3rd Grade)

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The iPad and iPod have been instrumental in educating our young daughters. They use the iPad almost every day to learn and play. Our oldest daughter, who is 7 now, has been using the iPad and iPod for homeschooling since she was 3. Our youngest daughter, now 4 yrs old, also uses the iPad and iPod for homeschooling. I’ve found that my oldest daughter has excelled through this type of interactive learning. She has a very “hands on” personality and enjoys learning more when she can interact with it. On the other hand, my youngest daughter has been doing well with, and enjoying, her workbooks. But, she has also come to love the educational apps we have gotten for her on the iPad and iPod. Every day there are new, fun children’s educational apps introduced for the iPad and the iPod/iPhone.

We believe that the use of tablets, such as the iPad, in schools and for education will increase exponentially as our children get older. We would be doing them a disservice if we did not teach them the latest technology. The iPad and the iPod have ushered in a new form of homeschooling. It’s a form of homeschooling that is more efficient and more fun! As a parent, I’m always looking for the best ways to educate my children. With the iPad, I feel confident I’ve found the best tool for teaching my children at home.

 

Eliza with the iPad

My 4 yr old with the iPad

10 Quality Educational Apps We Use for Home Schooling and for Fun

  1. TeachMe: Toddler, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade
    These educational apps are by far my favorite homeschooling apps for the iPad and iPod!  They’re only $0.99 each and my children love them!  They are fun, educational, and super easy to navigate.  You can also change settings and add/delete users quickly.  I love that I can just hand the iPad or iPod to my girls and they can navigate through each app easily with little to no help from me.  I can not say enough good things about these apps.  They are wonderful!
  2. PBS Kids Video
    This is the best free app for early educational videos on the iPad and the iPod.  I love that my 2 and 4 yr old can watch Curious George, Sesame Street/Elmo, and Cat in the Hat for free without being subjected to advertisements.  We also have Netflix, but I would rather have them watching only educational videos.  PBS Kids Video is easy to navigate and I feel comfortable letting them use the app unsupervised.  My 7 yr old also likes this app.  She watches Arthur, Word Girl, and some of the other educational shows on PBS Kids Video for iPad and iPod.
  3. BrainPop Jr and BrainPop
    The BrainPop Jr and BrainPop Featured Movie are free educational video apps that add just a little extra knowledge to our weekly routine.  These apps offer 1 free video and quiz each week, but you can upgrade at any time in order to view more videos and take the quizzes that go with them.  (WARNING:  The videos available through this app may teach the theory of evolution and may need to be monitored by young earth creationist parents and others apposed to the theory of evolution.)
  4. Kids Reading Comprehension: Level 1 and Level 2
    These reading comprehension apps are a great choice for any child that is ready to read on their own.  My 7 yr old has gone through Level 1 and is now going through Level 2.  I love these apps because they aren’t only teaching reading comprehension.  Each Level is filled with short, educational reads that contain photos and illustrations.
  5. Monkey Preschool Apps
    Monkey Preschool Lunchbox and Monkey Math School Sunshine are great apps for 3 and 4 yr olds.  My 4 yr old daughter has lots of fun just playing with them.  The fact that they are educational is just a bonus.  The 99 cent price tag is great too!
  6. ABC Pocket Phonics
    When it comes to learning how to read and write, this app is a great option.  It is great for that extra practice time that is often needed, but not always wanted by you know who.  My girls never had a problem sitting down with this app and using the “magic pen” with the iPad.  It’s a great addition to our Reading/Writing time and a welcome tool for homeschooling.  The full version of this app is $2.99 and well worth it.  A great find!
  7. Stack the States and Stack the Countries
    If you’re looking to get your youngster started on geography, then these are a great way to get them excited about it.  These geography apps for kids are colorful, cute, and fun.  Stack the States is only $0.99 and you can get Stack the Countries for just a dollar more.
  8. Telling Time
    A wonderfully customizable teaching tool for learning how to tell time.  I can start my youngest homeschooler out with the simple hourly and half past analog recognition.  After those are mastered, I’ll just switch on the quarter past analog recognition and move forward from there.  A very clean and comfortable app.  Love it!  $0.99 for an app you can grow with.  The developer has many other apps I would like to try soon.  If you’d like to check them out, the website is www.grasshopperapps.com.
  9. MindSnacks: Learn French, German, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and English
    After going through a French immersion week, my 7 yr old was delighted with these free language apps.  Although the first level is the only free part, it’s enough for a beginner to start off with.  We may choose to upgrade once she has the counting down.
  10. Nth Fusion Apps
    The app that my daughter is using right now is the Geometry 4 Kids app.  It teaches geometry basics in a clear and easily understandable manor.  I’m excited to try out all of the other early education apps by this developer.  I will definitely be getting the Book Report app and the Body Organs app.

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Save on Your Education and/or Homeschooling

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We home school our 6 year old daughter.  She has really excelled in math, so we were looking for a platform where she could learn at her own pace and work on her own.  My husband is also always looking for free educational resources for himself.  Through his searches, he has found one website in particular that we use every day now.  It is called Khan Academy http://www.khanacademy.org.

My daughter now logs into Khan Academy every day to do Math.  She loves it!  And, we love it too!  Plus, it’s free!  It’s a great free resource for anyone wanting to continue their education or home school their children with little to no expense.   So, if you’re looking for ways to save on your own education or home schooling your children, check out Khan Academy.  It’s free!  Still can’t believe it!

A free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. They’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere. 
All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.
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Homeschooling A to Z

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Always plan ahead

Be willing to sacrifice

Clean up with your child(ren) at the end of each day

Desire growth

Everything works together for good to those that love the Lord

Fun educational games should be played often

Give incentives for a job well done

Have Patience

Inspire through God’s Word and real life examples

Join a support group

Keep track of progress for your and your child(ren)s benefit

Laugh often

Make time for discussion

Never discourage or put down your child(ren)

Own an iPad

Pray without ceasing

Quiet time for naps and/or reading should be scheduled every day

Resist the urge to do the work for them and choose to guide them instead

Spend time discussing creative teaching methods with your spouse/children

Take a breath and trust God

Understand what you’re teaching

View yourself through the eyes of your child(ren)

Work along side your child(ren) so they may learn by example

eXtra credit should be given weekly

You can only control your own actions

Zebras are black with white stripes, just in case you were wondering

 

 

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Easy to Say But Hard to Do

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My husband and I have been trying to stop spending money and save for the past 5 years, but we just recently got serious about it.  There’s nothing like taking a look at all of your debt added up and realize that you owe more than you make in a year!  We started using Mint.com, a free online financial software website where you can see all of your accounts in one place.  This free tool has helped us both analyze our financial situation and create a budget.  Other free features include creating and managing goals, free tips on how to save money, and charts that help you track your progress.

We’ve been using this free financial tool for about 2 years now, and they’ve been making it better and better as time goes on.  They’ve added tons of free resources to help the user plan for their financial future.  It suggests what credit cards would be the best for you based on your spending habits.  It suggests retirement funds and other investment accounts in order to plan for your future.  I think my favorite feature, though, is one they just introduced, and that’s the free credit card debt elimination plan.  You can customize a goal/plan for paying off all of your credit cards and other debt.  Then, Mint will track your progress and help you stay on track.

This tool will be especially useful for us, since we just got done with a major home improvement that went way over our budget.  We have racked up quite a bit of credit card debt, but we hope to be able to pay all of that off by the end of 2012.  Mint has helped us to see that light at the end of the tunnel. 

So, if you need a bit of help getting started on the road to saving, then check out all of the free tools at Mint.com.

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Just Stop Spending and Save Already!

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Just before having my third child, I worked at a call center for a large bank in the loss mitigation department.  I talked to people that were on the verge of losing their home, and let me just say that I was exhausted mentally every day.  What is wrong with the people in America today?  Well?  What’s wrong with you?  What makes you think that you can just keep spending money day after day, living paycheck to paycheck?  To be honest, I’m talking to myself here too.  I know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck.  Being a home owner, you have unexpected and even expected expenses that can make you sick to your stomach.

Believe me, I’m sick of it too!  So, let’s do something about it.  Let’s stop spending and save already!

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