17.1.14

No homework pays off




Students may do better with less homework.
When I went to school we didn't have "homework" until 7th grade. We had to write a few reports in elementary school, but we didn't have homework every night. We didn't carry backpacks stuffed with books, we didn't have homework contracts that our parents had to sign so they knew what was required.
We left our books at school in our desks.
In the 1960s, I came home from elementary school, changed my clothes (because we had to wear dresses to school) and went out to "play" --  I put on my "play clothes." I ran around outside with my friends.
Later, when I got books and homework, I thought I was pretty grown-up. And I took it seriously and did my work.
My first two kids went through public school. I was fully involved with all the parent responsibilities and I knew the rules for homework. Twenty minutes in kindergarten, and adding more minutes each year.
When my third child started 5th grade, I became fed-up with some of the silly homework his teacher was sending home. (Please write an essay on how you figured out that 7 x 6 = 42.) I pulled him out and homeschooled him along with his older brother who was in 7th grade. It was my first year of homeschool. I found out that we could cover more work in less time. Instead of six hours of school and  three to four hours of homework, my kids did it all in four to six hours.
Now this is what I've noticed. My 5th and last child is 17 and has started college. He loves his classes. He loves his homework and even reads the textbook for anthropology. He enjoys his homework.
I think kids get too much homework in traditional school and then they burn-out in the higher grades. Other parents are noticing the same thing and some elementary schools have dropped the homework.


















16.1.14

Fun Pinata Anatomy Lesson


I saw this over at Carmichael Collective and thought it would be a fun idea for young kids to learn a little anatomy. I'm sure you can think of even better candy items for some of the parts. Start with an animal pinata or a human if you can find one, and then cut it in-half. This sure beats guts, and your kids will be looking forward to science today. Let me know your ideas for the innards!


Arteries (red)
Veins (blue)
Heart
Intestines
Stomach
Brain
Trachea
Teeth
Tongue
Lungs
Liver
Kidneys
Spleen
Gallbladder
Bladder
Bones
Spinal Cord

Additional Sources: 

14.1.14

How to pay for homeschool



You may think homeschool is free. But it isn't. You have to buy books, subscriptions, online courses, and all the things that make for a good classroom. Sure, you can get some free stuff, but not everything you want is without a cost. It's a shame you have to pay your taxes for the schools when you don't use them. I like to day dream that we would get the same money that the state does (wouldn't that be a bonus?) Here are some ideas that are working for me right now:

1.  Sell your old books on Amazon.com. Some books get a good price, such as Teaching Textbooks.   But sell everything you will not use again or didn't work for your students. Even if it is for only $8, it will add up. Don't have a seller account? It is easy.

2.  Sell anything you can on Amazon.com. Look through your kids old video games, I have sold a number of these. We had two game consoles, one xbox and one sony playstation. We sold the playstation. I have a signed copy of Nixon's Memoirs up for sale. Try eBay as well.

3.  Buy books that are used on Amazon or eBay.

4.  Combine your buying power and buy with a Co-op. I use the homeschoolbuyers co-op. They save you money.

5. Search the garage, clean out and sell anything you do not need. An extra fridge? A saw your husband never uses? I have sold a cement mixer, a fridge, a saw, a lawnmower and leaf blower on Craigslist.

7.  Ask grandparents if they want to contribute to a class or curriculum.


8.  Check your school district or county board of education for any homeschool programs funded by the state. In Southern Calif, we had one that was in the district for K-8 and one that was county-wide for 9-12. We used both of these at different times.


8.  Enroll in free courses online.

9.  Community colleges often waive the fees for high school students. Look into that option.

10.  Check the Library for materials to supplement. E-books are now available and audio books over the internet.


6.1.14

Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr. to get the day started


Brain Pop is a great way to let the kids explore their own interests. I've used it as a warm-up, to get the day rolling. Maybe that's because some of my kids are not morning larks. It can take a little time for them to get moving in the morning and I've found that Brain Pop is an activity that creates lots of interest and it's all online. Good animation, video, and lots of topics. It's also nice, because you can work on other things while your kids do Brain Pop activities. There are two levels to chose from:

Brain Pop Jr for kids ages K - 3



Brain Pop for grades 4 - 12



Here is an example:






Also, check out the Brain Pop Educator for ideas:



If you want 25% off on the subscription rate, click here

31.12.13

Bread mold that kills bacteria -- science lesson


Time to learn about the good things in bread mold and blue cheese. Yep, let's teach the kids about penicillin. 

In bread mold, Penicillium consists of a network of filaments (hyphae) known as a mycelium (white). It has numerous reproductive spores which are the green/grey areas. The mold is penetrating the bread, using the moisture and nutrients to grow.




There are many forms of Penicillium, some of which we eat -- in cheese. I love Brie and I love blue cheese. It's also used in making gorgonzola cheese. And of course, it is used as an antibiotic.

Penicillium notatus which produces penicillin:



Camembert of Normandy - French cheese
Camembert of Normandy - French cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  • Penicillium roqueforti used in making Roquefort and Danish Blue cheese


Danish Blue cheese
Danish Blue cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


More Educational reading for you and your kids:

Fun Facts about Fungi
Fleming Discovers Penicillin

30.12.13

Learn the periodic table with science cupcakes


I saw this on a blog and I thought it would make a great project for homeschool chemistry -- lots of sticky fingers and fun. What do you think?

Image credit


10.12.13

Learn to Multiply with 16,000 Honey Strings


It's called Korean Honey Strings, or The Kings Dessert, or Dragon's Beard Candy. Watch this guy go from two plus two to four plus four to...16,000 strands of honey candy. It's entertaining to be sure.
I'm not sure if this guy knows his multiplication tables, but I thought it might be a fun way to teach it to the kids. Yea, it probably makes a bit of a mess, but on one of those homeschool days when you just have to get out of the grind, this may be the ticket -- or a trip to Korea. If you make a big mess, don't blame me. But leave me a note if you have success. If your kids are little, I think you better do the pulling and let the kids do the multiplying.


If you want to make it, see the recipe and instructions at Instructables. Its made of sugar, water, maltose or corn syrup, and a teeny bit of vinegar (to help the sugar crystallize). The fillings vary, but they can be ground nuts, or at this place, cookies and cream.





These photos are from a little stand in Irvine, at the Irvine Spectrum, just where I used to live and shop. I'm going to see if I can find the place next weekend when I'm there.







13.11.13

Homeschool or Public School?


Ever wonder if you are doing the right thing by home-schooling your kids? This may confirm that you have made the right choice. The New York Times has an article, "Would You Want To Be Home-Schooled?" Students, 13 years or older are asked to leave their comments at the end of this short article (no last names, please.)

I read the first handful of comments, which confirmed my belief that our home-schooled kids are getting the best education. Just read a few of these poorly written comments, the grammar and spelling speaks for itself. I especially like the comment from one public-educated student, "some parents may sugar code the kids." What is this sugar code?  I think we could definitely use that, I love sugar.

Here are a few of the comments:


In my opinion, i would never turn to home schooling. When you are home schooled, you automaticly loose the whole social experience of school. In the real world you need to be social. 
Otherwise you’re going to get know where. I understand that the learning education might be to an advantage while homeschooling because its all one on one and you are the only student reciveing all the help you need whenever you need it. I would never home school my child because I would be holding them back from friends and the social life they will need in the feature. I would never even consider home schooling.

— Macie P.

I believe that home-schooling doesn’t prepares children and teenagers for the ” Real world”. It doesn’t let children that chance to be in a social community with more kids or people. I think Home-schooling has his dos and dont’s.

— Ilenia P

I think homeschooling is dumb. I think homeschooling doesn’t prepare kids for the real world. they don’t learn how to socialize with other people. Some parents may sugar code the kids. So they might not know everything there suppose to know. no i do not agree.

— Leslie R

“ I homeschool and I am *IN* the real world daily. I am not cloistered and learning from a pre-approved, test-ready curriculum created for a myriad of students. I learn from the real-world and its many examples across the subjects.Today I spent my afternoon in an art museum learning not only about the art around me, but about the collectors of the art and why they choose to spend their money collecting art.On Monday, I, with a group of homeschooled friends, dissected a deer brain, heart, and trachea harvested by a hunter friend.Tomorrow I am playing golf with a public-schooled friend because he has the day off for Veteran's Day. But we won't go until after my dad and I put up our own tree stand and prepare for hunting Saturday morning.And next week, I will gather with friends for handwork and hanging out. I'll also go to work with my dad where I participate in and watch him operate a very successful manufacturing business.”
— Patty

“ In my experience, home schoolers actually spend lots of time in the real world, doing real things, with people of all ages. Which is what your life is like after you graduate from school. It's schooled kids who aren't in the real world, because where else in life are you locked away for 7 hours a day with only your same aged peers to hang out with? ”
— Winnie

27.10.13

The Good Side of Dyslexia


Dyslexia -- the word itself is difficult to read. But dyslexia has an upside, like many things that get the bad stamp, this "learning disorder" should be redefined to include the positive side.

I have a son with dyslexia. I also have a hubby with dyslexia. I am relieved that research is finding a gifted side for those with dyslexia. My husband has always claimed that he can see the big picture in difficult engineering tasks. True, he suffered in the reading department as a child, especially since no one recognized it as dyslexia. Many kids were made to feel stupid or slow. Many still feel that way. But they shouldn't. They are gifted in other ways.

The word "Dyslexia" comes from the German root dys (difficult) + Greek lexis (speech)

It's a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols. (p, d and b all look the same). It's like looking at a chair, held upside down, lifted into the air. No matter which way it is held, it's still a chair. That's why the p, d and b all look the same to the dyslexic. 


It has nothing to do with intelligence. In fact, many have a high IQ and are gifted in the arts and sciences. Look at the likes of Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Leonardo de Vinci. 

Here's the good news:

Research has found that people with dyslexia have an enhanced peripheral vision; it's called absorbing the "visual gist". They see images in the periphery that are missed by regular people.


This gift enables the dyslexic to solve difficult images faster (like the images of Escher, that depicts impossible pictures of stairs or flowing
 water). 


Another study found that graduate students with dyslexia can learn and make use of difficult astronomical images whereas non-dyslexic students were unable to catch on. They concluded that dyslexics may be superior learners. 
Dyslexics also tend to be more curious, creative, and intuitive than average. They tend to be highly aware of the environment, inventive, and good at real world tasks. Their special mode of thought also produces the gift of mastery: once they have learned something experientially, they understand it on such a deep level that they know how to do things intuitively without thinking about how. (ref)
Some parents of dyslexic kids didn't appreciate this new discovery, mainly because of the struggle to help their kids learn to read. (New York Times) From my perspective, public schools are not adept at teaching kids with dyslexia, and that's one reason I homeschooled my son. I worked with him for years, using many different programs, and we avoided all scenarios of failure. And we had success. And now I can appreciate his other talents of creativity and visual gist. See the available programs we used for dyslexia here.

4.10.13

How To File The California Private School Affidavit


If you homeschool in California, now is the time to file your required paperwork. Every year I have to file an affidavit to homeschool in California, which is called The Private School Affidavit. There is no such thing as filing as a homeschool in this state. Instead you must file as a private school. This is very easy to do, in fact I just filed mine online, answering some questions about how many students I have and then signing electronically. Filing with the California Department of Education is required yearly. Once filed, print a copy for your records and save a copy as a pdf for your electronic files.

Here is the link to file the form: Private School Affidavit for California

Illustration by Christopher Healy
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