oak meadow

Sponsored Post: Learning and the Natural World with Oak Meadow

Through May 29, save 20% in the Oak Meadow bookstore and 10% on Oak Meadow enrollment. It's not always easy to find totally secular homeschool materials, and Oak Meadow's materials aren't just secular—they're also hands-on, engaging, and fun to use with your kids. 


Spending time in nature can lead to some of the most enjoyable and profound learning experiences. Nature-based learning touches on and connects every academic discipline imaginable while enlivening the senses and invigorating the body. It encourages curiosity and inquiry, exploration and experimentation, while the mind catalogs, analyzes, and compares. Homeschoolers are in a unique position to take full advantage of the learning opportunities that present themselves right outside the door. Families who discover Oak Meadow homeschooling curriculum find curriculum materials that actively support and encourage a close connection with nature.

The lessons that nature has to teach us are never ending. Being immersed in the natural flow of plant and animal life cycles, weather patterns, seasons, and the intricate dance connecting everything helps us find our own balance in the flow of life.

It’s not surprising that children who play outside are healthier mentally, emotionally, and physically. Human beings have spent nearly the entirety of our existence outside. Our connection to the natural world is so profound that when we are deprived of it, it’s no surprise that we don’t fare well. More and more adults are recognizing the importance of outdoor play for children, and the value of unstructured nature-based explorations. In addition to this shift to include nature-based activity or “green exercise,” teachers and parents, environmentalists, and policy-makers have realized that outdoor play and nature-based learning leads children toward a sense of environmental stewardship. Simply put, connecting with nature means appreciating nature and wanting to take care of it.

Getting children back to nature is easy, fun, and beneficial in every way. And it seems

the simpler the outdoor play, the better. Letting children loose with nothing more than a stick and a pile of dirt is about the nicest thing we can do for them.

 

Getting Back to Nature, Plain and Simple

Simple is almost always better when children play outdoors. The most elaborate playground or climbing structure can pale in comparison to a stream in the woods. Going to the beach with a bucket and shovel (and sometimes not even that much!) can provide hours of absolute absorption in play for children of all ages. But what if you don’t have time or access to the forest or beach? No worries—just stepping out your back door can be the start of an outdoor adventure. A small crack in the sidewalk can be a fascinating study of the industry of an ant colony and the tenacity of a weed. You don’t need to be a scientific expert to point out insects, bees, spider webs, and dandelions, or to discuss the difference between a pine tree and an oak. Collecting acorns and pinecones can reveal all sorts of interesting shapes, smells, and textures, and lead to endless explorations.

Photo courtesy of Oak Meadow

Photo courtesy of Oak Meadow

Hands-on outdoor learning is inquiry-based and self-directed, and nurtures a child’s curiosity, creativity and sense of wonder. As long as children are provided with time for unstructured play in a natural setting, meaningful learning will take place. Sharing your love and enthusiasm for the outdoors is the best way to bring nature learning into the lives of your children.

If your child hasn’t spent much time outdoors, be prepared to start small. The crack in the sidewalk is always a good place to start. Collecting sticks and building a little teepee is another simple way to get a child who is timid outdoors to start getting his hands dirty. Collecting rocks, shells, nuts, or just about anything will appeal to most children, and it’s just a small step from there to building and decorating a tiny, magical fairy house or woodland dwelling.

Here a few more tips for bringing the outdoors into your day.

  • Go outside early in the day (and often!)
  • Eat snacks or meals outside
  • Devote a section of your yard to dirt or sand play
  • Plant a bean teepee large enough to play inside
  • Make a living fort by trimming the bottom branches from bushes to make a crawl space
  • Make a row or circle of stumps (burying them in the ground partway makes them more stable)
  • Make a mud pit and enjoy the slippery, oozy possibilities
  • Create sculptures from natural materials (with a little imagination, a cluster of rock towers can look like a wise council of elders)

 

Child-Led Discovery

Sometimes it is tempting to become a bit too involved in a child’s outdoor play. There is something irresistibly appealing about a sand pile or a fairy house. However, it is important to allow children the time and space to explore on their own. This self-directed, unstructured play often yields the richest rewards. So try to resist the urge to get your children interested in your idea. Let them make their own discoveries, and allow them to make their own mistakes. Just because they aren’t doing something in the most efficient manner doesn’t mean it’s not right. We all learn from experience, and faster is not always better.

Be playful and curious, be interested and excited, but above all, respect the rich inner life of the child’s play. There is something very peaceful about creating a nature scene or just exploring the natural environment. Don’t force conversation. Sometimes it isn’t necessary to talk about a creative experience. Connecting with nature can be a very personal experience, and one that builds intricate and complex ways of understanding the world. By attuning to your child’s attitude, you will probably be able to easily feel when it is right to just let her be.

While educators (homeschooling parents and professionals alike) are perpetually open to the teachable moment, unstructured outdoor play is often a good time to let the teachable moment pass without comment. Trust that the learning process is in full sail without your guidance. There will be another time to give suggestions, instructions, information and advice. For now, just enjoy the beauty of nature’s classroom.

 

This post is excerpted from The Heart of Learning, written by Lawrence Williams, Oak Meadow’s founder, president, and a pioneer in homeschooling and distance learning. Its timeless lessons have informed homeschooling families for four decades.

Sponsored Post: Adjusting to Homeschooling Mid-Year with Oak Meadow

Making the decision to switch gears and begin homeschooling partway through the school year takes courage and faith. Whatever you were doing before wasn’t working, and whatever you are beginning hasn’t had time to feel routine yet. Here are ten suggestions to ease the way, whether you’re homeschooling independently or enrolling in Oak Meadow’s distance-learning program:

1. Different philosophy; different approach. Students who have been in school have likely become accustomed to an institutional approach where work is prescribed to the class as a whole and the teacher’s attention is divided among many students. Shifting to a creative thinking approach can be challenging for a student who just spent last semester trying very hard to figure out how to succeed in an institutional setting. In contrast, Oak Meadow’s approach is flexible and creative, and homeschooling can often allow for one-on-one support between parent and child. Switching gears to this degree is quite an adjustment and might bring stress or frustration. Be understanding and acknowledge those differences as needed.

2. Commit to riding out the transition. There is a progression in learning as your child adjusts, but it may take a few weeks or more to be able to look back and clearly see the progression. Don’t expect to see results right away. Trust the process and really commit fully to seeing it through for six weeks or so before you assess whether it is working for your child. Learning really does take place, even if it might not feel that way in the moment, and a few weeks’ perspective can make all the difference in understanding.

3. Go easy on yourself and your child. You’ve just left behind an educational environment that wasn’t working for some reason, and now you’ve switched to an entirely different approach. During this adjustment phase, don’t get too caught up in whether every single item was done properly in each lesson. What’s the main concept or what are the key skills being addressed? What is most important for your child to grasp before moving on to the next lesson? Make that your focus, and give everyone points for effort as you navigate this new way of learning. Students beginning mid-year may need to go back to previous lessons if they aren’t understanding something in the current lesson.

4. Consider downshifting or deschooling. Your child might need to ease into the new model slowly, and some children, particularly those who experienced trauma in their previous school experience, will benefit from a period of “deschooling.” This can be like an extended vacation from school, with plenty of nourishing rest, time to daydream, healthy activities of the child’s choosing, and supported emotional processing. It can be very helpful for some students to have a buffer like this between leaving their old school and beginning homeschooling. Often they will let you know when they are ready to jump back in again.

5. Keep good boundaries with those in your life who resist the idea of homeschooling. Even well-meaning loved ones can undermine confidence by demanding evidence or reassurance that your new educational plan is “working.” It is fine to say things are going well without elaborating. Let your child know that you will be keeping his or her educational details private. This allows your child to relax and focus on learning without worrying about what the relatives or neighbors might be thinking.

6. Structure and support are key. Set up a solid daily and weekly routine as a starting point. You may need to adjust it many times, but begin with a strong plan. It is easy to get sidetracked, so do your best to stick to the plan. Set aside focused time each day for academic work. Find a good place to work with your child where you can both be comfortable. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider consulting with one of Oak Meadow’s experienced teachers, enrolling in our distance-learning program, using a tutor, or asking an experienced friend for help.

7. Be resourceful and independent. Reach out to others. Make friends with your local librarian; it’s a great way to find out what resources are available and connect with other homeschooling families or groups in the area. Explore online resources. Oak Meadow’s social media offerings are a good place to start. Our Pinterest boards offer many inspiring hands-on ideas, and Facebook is a great place to connect with other homeschooling parents and find validation for this journey. There are many online groups for homeschooling parents. Seek support from like-minded people wherever you find it.

8. Go outside! Oak Meadow’s organic approach to learning encourages families to learn out in the world. This means spending plenty of time outside in nature and interacting with others in your local neighborhood or community. Fresh air and the soothing sights and sounds of nature are a good antidote for stress of any kind, including the positive stress of the important transition from school to homeschool. Schools tend to be very social places, and you will want to be mindful of how your child’s needs for social interaction are met while homeschooling. You might find this benefits you as well as your child.

9. Be patient. It takes a few weeks or more to settle in. It will be a little while before you get your bearings and find a good rhythm for your homeschooling days and weeks. Don’t panic! It’s okay if things aren’t perfect. There is a lot to be learned from trial and error. Have fun with the process!

10. Trust yourself. Remember that you are the expert on your own child. The decision to begin homeschooling was made in response to something your child or family needed enough to warrant such a significant change. Why did you choose homeschooling? Remind yourself of these reasons often. Continue to nurture your connection with your child, especially during this vulnerable time when he or she is weathering such a big transition. And remember to take good care of yourself as you adapt to your role as home teacher.

Oak Meadow’s winter sale is on now! From today through 2/28, save 20% on everything in the bookstore and 10% on new enrollment!


This post is sponsored by Oak Meadow. Thanks for supporting the companies that support home/school/life. Amanda Witman is a lifelong learner and an enthusiastic homeschooling mother of four. She enjoys writing, playing fiddle, tending her garden, organizing community events, learning new things, having family adventures, and connecting with other homeschoolers. She manages social media at Oak Meadow.

Sponsored Post: 10 Reasons Why Oak Meadow May Be the Perfect Fit for You

sponsored post: 10 reasons oak meadow may be the perfect fit for your homeschool

How can you tell if Oak Meadow will be a good fit for your family? Choosing a homeschool curriculum or a distance learning school may feel like a very big decision. There are many options available, and it can feel challenging to sort through to find the best fit. 

What are you looking for in a home learning program? Would Oak Meadow be a good match for your family? See if any of the following points resonate with you.

 

1. Being actively involved in your child’s learning feels right to you. You appreciate your child as an individual and enjoy spending time with them. You value the deep connection between you and your child, and you trust that because you are a loving parent, you are naturally well suited to be your child’s home teacher.

An Oak Meadow education means that you, the parent, are your child’s primary teacher. As an Oak Meadow parent, you remain closely involved in every step of your child’s learning. When they need help conquering a challenge, you are right there to help them in way that honors their unique personality. Your loving connection to your child qualifies you as the best expert on their needs.

 

2. Your child is keen to engage in creative, hands-on learning - and you like it, too. Learning by doing comes naturally to them, and you enjoy supporting their curiosity and efforts. 

Oak Meadow encourages students to learn experientially through real-world experiences. Take math skills out into the garden for a carpentry project, visit local historic sites, or go hiking with a sketchbook in hand. The small scale of home learning allows for one-on-one assistance with a wide range of projects. Experiments and creations can be spread out and returned to over and over. Depending on your child’s needs, you can be closely involved, or step back and allow their creativity to bloom with support as needed. The world is your classroom!

 

3. Your mind is open to a range of effective ways to approach education. You are eager to figure out how to help your child thrive, even if the solution is unconventional.

Perhaps traditional school hasn’t worked out as well as you had hoped, or maybe you just have an intuitive sense that it won’t be a good fit for your unconventional learner. Homeschooling and distance learning can be very helpful options for students who learn outside of the box, and Oak Meadow is easily adaptable for learning differences.

 

4. You believe nature should be a central theme in children’s learning. The natural world provides a multitude of catalysts for learning and growing, and it also provides a healthy environment for playing and living. 

Oak Meadow’s curriculum encourages students to keenly observe and develop a relationship with the natural world. Frequent outdoor play and exploration are encouraged and valued. The relationship between nature and the student is so important that it is a key theme throughout Oak Meadow’s curriculum.

 

5. You appreciate having the flexibility to adapt lessons to your child’s unique learning needs and interests. If something isn’t working for you or your child, you will modify it. You use curriculum as a starting point, then let your child’s passions guide your choices within and beyond the given material.

We know that every child is unique, and that’s why Oak Meadow’s curriculum is full of various possibilities for all kinds of learners. It’s up to you (and your child’s teacher, if you enroll in distance learning) to pick and choose from the options presented in the lessons. You might need to try different things to figure out what works, but in time, you and your child will both have a better understanding of how they learn best.

 

6. You believe that learning is a lifestyle that best involves the whole family. You recognize that the needs of all family members are interwoven, and you choose to create a home life that supports healthy learning and growth for everyone in the family.

Students who learn at home have the benefit of a holistic lifestyle where living and learning are totally intertwined. Siblings learn with and from each other, and the bond between family members of all ages is developed and strengthened. 

 

7. You feel that education should address the whole child, not just academic growth. You honor the importance of your child’s passions, talents, strengths, weaknesses, and insecurities and honor the role those things play in your child’s learning.

Many educational programs focus on academics without acknowledging the many other important facets of a child’s being. Oak Meadow’s philosophy is all about nurturing learning in a comprehensive way, weaving together the many different kinds of growth and development in a balanced, holistic approach

 

8. You have a good sense of when to ask for support, either through enrollment or through our homeschooling support service. You are willing and able to reach out to others in your community and beyond to widen your child's learning support system and make use of helpful resources. 

You know that nobody has all the answers. You trust that you’ll learn what you need to know along the way. The most successful Oak Meadow families are proactive and persistent in reaching out to those who can help them out in various ways on their homeschooling journey. 

 

9. You appreciate the idea of a secular (non-religious) academic curriculum. If your family opts for religious education, you supplement with faith-based religious curriculum or design your own course of religious instruction that honors your family’s beliefs.

Oak Meadow is one of few providers of complete secular homeschooling curriculum. Many families come to us because they are looking for an alternative to the many faith-based programs that are available. Some families choose to supplement our materials with faith-based lessons in order to incorporate spiritual education into their homeschooling experience. Oak Meadow supports the freedom of parents to choose the best way to support their child’s religious and spiritual education.

 

10. Whether you are looking for a comprehensive homeschooling curriculum or an accredited distance learning school, you value the wisdom Oak Meadow offers from over 40 years of experience in supporting home learners

Oak Meadow’s founder, Lawrence Williams, began with a thoughtful vision for home education that remains an inspiration to all of us at Oak Meadow. Our teachers and counselors are carefully chosen to support Oak Meadow’s philosophy. Many of us have used Oak Meadow materials and services with our own children. We hold ourselves to the same standards we would demand for our own families. Through the years, our program has gone through countless revisions to provide families with the best possible homeschooling and distance learning experiences, and we continue to revise and update our materials on an ongoing basis.

Is Oak Meadow a good fit for your family’s needs? Hopefully you’ve already begun to gain some insights into the possibility. Our website offers comprehensive information about our company, our philosophy, our homeschooling curriculum, and our distance learning program. The educational counselors in our office are available online or by phone at 802-251-7250 to answer your questions. Contact us and let us help you find your family’s unique path to organic learning!


This is a sponsored post submitted and created by Oak Meadow. We only accept sponsored posts from secular homeschool resources that we believe to be a good fit for our readers, usually based on our own positive experiences with the company in question. Thanks for supporting the companies that support home/school/life.

Sponsored Post: Take the Stress Out of High School with Oak Meadow

Good tips for homeschooling high school.

The prospect of high school can freak out even the most experienced homeschooler—as I’m learning now that we’re preparing for (gulp!) my daughter’s first year of high school next year. The stakes feel higher, the work feels harder, and the paperwork is, frankly, a little terrifying to contemplate. One of the great things about editing home/school/life is that I know I’m not alone—we get email every week from moms who are panicking about high school just as much as I am. So when the nice folks at Oak Meadow offered to help with some of the most frequently asked questions about homeschooling high school, I had no trouble coming up with a list. Now I can turn my panic to other scary things, like learners’ permits.

 

  • How do you grade a high school essay?

First, you must know what the aims of the essay/paper/thesis were. With assessment one must initially consider if the young writer completed the mission—what is the assignment? what does this paper aim to do? address/compare/prove/suggest/question/explore? Is it a persuasive essay, a personal narrative, an explication? So many types of essays, so little time!

Second, all good, powerful writing has three elements: 1. honesty 2. economy 3. voice. Students should understand all three before writing.

Third, cogent writing is grounded in sound mechanics and evidence of the writing process. Is there an organization to the paragraphs and sentences? Are all grammar conventions met? Spelling attended to?

A good style guide can help. At OM, we use Strunk and White's Elements of of Style and Write it Right, our high school writing manual. —Michelle Simpson-Siegel, OM Executive Director/teacher

 

  • Do we need to do standardized test prep?

We tend to associate standardized test prep with expensive classes, but SAT prep need not be pricey. The first step is to have students sign up for the SAT Question of the Day through the College Board website. Kids will get a sample question delivered to the email box daily; it is a great way to familiarize oneself with the content and types of questions you’ll see on tests. There are also practice books; then, if you feel like you need more prep, you can look at courses at a tutoring site, such as Kaplan or the Princeton Review. —Michelle Simpson-Siegel, OM Executive Director/teacher

 

  • How do you keep records?

Record keeping can be done in a variety of ways. The key is to set up a system that you can easily keep up with, creating a comprehensive homeschooling portfolio of work as you go. For instance, you might choose one exemplary piece of work each week (or every two weeks) from each subject and put it in a file folder. You might keep a running chart that shows at-a-glance what is in each folder, and maybe you can add a few notes about each piece. For instance you might note, "Essay on Harriet Tubman shows thesis statement, topic sentences, and good paragraph organization." Many parents use photos to document student work, particularly work that goes beyond the written response.

In addition to subject files, you can have a file for any extra documentation. If your student takes any organized lessons, courses, art or music classes, or other activity, this can be documented once per semester with a simple statement of the approximate number of hours and basic skills/experiences that were covered. You can have your child's instructor sign this documentation, but you don't have to. If you choose to have your child take standardized tests, the test scores also go into the file.

Ask around among homeschoolers you know or on homeschooling chat forums to get more ideas. The goal is to find a record-keeping system that isn't overwhelming (you don't have to keep every single thing your child produces!) but that provides you with ample evidence of your student's progress and accomplishments.   —DeeDee Hughes, OM Director of Curriculum Development

 

  • How do I know if my kid is covering everything s/he needs to graduate?

The fear of missing some crucial bit of learning can keep homeschooling parents up at night. It seems that no one is immune to this anxiety, but the good news is that there are ways to check your progress and make sure that your student is on the right track. One way is to use your state standards to make sure you have all the bases covered for each year. You can spend some time at the beginning of the year going over the general topics that are covered in your state (or in the Common Core, if your state has adopted those standards) and make a basic outline of what you want to address over the course of the year. Creating a simple checklist that you can mark off as skills and content are covered helps you feel you are making progress and gives you a clear picture of what's ahead.

Another way to feel confident you are covering all the bases is to use a list of graduation requirements from a school. Oak Meadow's scope and sequence for K-8 and high school graduation requirements offer independent homeschoolers a road map for their education. Rather than focusing on specific skills, you look at the broad scope of courses that students are required to take at an accredited school. Again, talking to other homeschoolers in your area can lead to more information and ideas.   —DeeDee Hughes, OM Director of Curriculum Development

 

  • How do I handle science labs?

Field science is super valuable! Get involved in programs such as river watch, birding clubs, outing clubs, recycling programs, and gardening. This is wonderful, productive time, and very educational.

Oak Meadow offers Biology with Lab and Chemistry with Lab courses and supplementary lab kits. Any materials that are not in the lab kits are often easily found in the home. Any supplies that aren't found in the home or at a craft store can be found in an online science supply source or even Amazon (for independent users)

We at Oak Meadow don't use microscopes in our labs, as that is not available to many homeschoolers, but some families choose to have their own and do additional investigations. A very cool brand new product is the microbescope, where you can use your smartphone to see microscopic organisms!— Julie West and Sarah Boggia, OM high school science teachers

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Find out more about Oak Meadow’s curriculum and resources for high school students. (And do it now, because you can score 15% off everything in the Oak Meadow Bookstore from Feb. 1-14! I am planning to snag a copy of the new Student Planner for my daughter to use as we start plotting out her freshman year. (Thanks for supporting the companies that support home/school/life!)

Stuff We Like :: 8.7.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

One of my friends was teasing me that my weekly stuff posts make it seem like I have my homeschool life act totally together. So just for the sake of transparency: I haven’t been completely caught up on laundry since one glorious week in 2011 and I do not include things like “ordered cheap Mexican because I was too lazy to cook dinner” on my lists because they are such routine occurrences that they don’t bear mentioning. In other words, I totally have my homeschool life act together — for about 11 whole minutes of every day.

around the web

This warmed my heart: What happens when you give a tree an email address?

This blog rounds up every line spoken by a person of color in hit movies. Wow.

Is our obsession with photographing every minute of our children’s lives shaping the way they’ll remember their childhoods — and not necessarily for the better?

 

at home/school/life

on the blog: Did you enter our Oak Meadow curriculum giveaway yet?

on pinterest: I am in love with this cozy, creative corner.

from the archives: Easy ways to turn around a not-so-great homeschool day.

 

reading list

Is anybody else dying to get her hands on the adult-novel sequel to Five Children and It, set during World War II?

I have been listening to this Oxford lecture series on the works of George Eliot, so of course I had to crack open Middlemarch again. (It's even better reading on the other side of thirty.)

It’s that time again: I’m doing my annual end-of-summer reread of Little Women. (And I’m totally okay now that Jo doesn’t end up with Laurie. But even Gabriel Byrne is not going to reconcile me to Professor Bhaer.)

 

in the kitchen

In my effort to squeeze every bit of flavor from tomato season, I made a batch of tomato jam. Verdict: Yum. (Think of it as a very posh ketchup.)

Shawne inspired me to try making onigiri at home, and these little stuffed rice balls have become a favorite afternoon snack. The recipe makes them sound complicated, but they are actually really easy. (Sometimes I stuff mine with smoked salmon and avocado, and they are delicious.)

If there are blueberries, I’m making blueberry boy bait. And there are blueberries.

 

at home

My daughter and I had our annual homeschool planning retreat — at the pool, this year. I just reported my July homeschool budget, but August spending is well underway.

Jason and I are trying to find a new television show to obsess over, but in the meantime, we’re digging the Harriet Vane Collection on DVD.

We’re totally obsessed with Quirkle, which is kind of like dominoes but with more sophisticated strategizing required. We’re always pulling it out and saying “just one quick game.”


Amy’s Homeschool Budget : July

A dollars-and-cents breakdown of one family's homeschool budget. #homeschool

So you know how any time you start to think, hey, I’ve kind of got this together, something comes along to knock you back to the starting line? I had my budget for the coming year all neatly planned out when I got the email that our homeschool group is increasing registration fees by a pretty hefty amount this year — such a hefty amount that signing our kids up for their usual classes there isn’t an option for us if we also, you know, want to feed them this fall. So it’s back to the drawing board to sort out some outside-the-house classes for the kids. I’ll let you know what we figure out. In the meantime, back-to-school shopping has begun. We don’t take a summer break, but we don’t officially start our new school year until after Labor Day, so I still have some time to make my mind up about a few things I’m dithering about. I haven't really drilled down to my final list yet. There were a few things, though, that I knew we’d want, so I went ahead and made a few purchases. Here’s what I’ve bought:

The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way for my almost-8th-grader. (Rebecca’s review totally sold me.) $15

I also picked up the Life of Fred Pre-Algebra set for her. I’ve mentioned before that my daughter has struggled with more traditional math programs, so it’s great to see her making progress with Life of Fred — but even more, it’s great to see her feeling confident about her ability to do math. (I borrowed a copy of Fractions and of Decimals last year but decided to buy the whole set so that we could work back through anything we wanted to.) $125

The next level book for Miquon Math for my almost-2nd-grader. If you have a math-y elementary kid, you should take a look at Miquon — it’s been such a good fit for us. $9

Handwriting is something we want to work on this year, so I bough a pair of lined whiteboards to practice on. (If you use dry erase boards and don’t know about this site that sells discounted seconds, you definitely should check it out.) 2 x $5 = $10

Total spent in July: $159 Total spent this year to date: $159
Total budget for the 15-16 school year remaining: $3,641
Total budget for the 15-16 school year: $3,800
(You can read more about our budget breakdown here.)

 

In case you’re interested, here are a few things we’re using that we didn’t have to pay for, either because they are free or because we already owned them:

Eighth grade is state history here, so we’re taking advantage of the free textbook available online from Clairmont Press. I don’t love textbooks, but I figure we can add enough fun field trips and conversation to make this one work — and free is my favorite price.

The Brief Bedford Reader (I picked up a copy of this last year for an essay-writing class I taught, and I liked it so much I'm planning to use it for our 8th grade writing spine)

ECCE Romani I and II (I talked a little bit about how we study Latin, including why I’m not buying a new book for Latin this fall, in this blog post from last spring)

Story of the World, volume 2, which we didn’t quite finish this year

My Pals Are Here Science 2A (I bought this when we first started thinking about homeschooling but never actually used it — I figure this is its chance!)

Oak Meadow 2nd grade (it’s an older version hand-me-down from a friend)


Stuff We Like :: 6.19.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

It’s a busy week here at home/school/life as we prep for our web relaunch, work on the summer issue (I just signed off on our summer reading guide!), welcome our awesome new intern Erin, and try to log as many pool hours as possible.

Around the Web

Obviously, this list of Myers Briggs book recommendations is spot on since it gave me Jane Austen.

There is no way I am not going to get a little excited about a new Anne of Green Gables movie, but Martin Sheen is not my Matthew Cuthbert.

Why hover boards aren’t going to happen: Way to break everybody’s futuristic-dreaming little hearts, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

I teared up a little reading this story about inclusiveness and kids with special needs. I’m going to do this better.

 

On home/school/life

On the blog: Starting next week, we’ll be featuring new content every single day for the next four weeks to celebrate the relaunch of our website. And y’all, there is some good stuff in the lineup—be sure to check it out!

On Pinterest: I love this idea for prettying up all those inevitable cords.

On the blog: Tracy tackles the question that never fails to stump a homeschooler: “Are you enjoying your summer break?”

 

At Home

Jason and I are listening to the audiobook of Wolf Hall.I love how the narrator reads Wolsey like a dissipated Winnie-the-Pooh — it feels so appropriate!

My daughter signed up for this anime drawing classthrough Craftsy — the instructor has been awesomely available and responsive. (Thanks to Stephanie for the recommendation!)

This Firefly t-shirt has found its way into Jason’s Father’s Day gift pile. (Shh, don’t tell him!)

 

Notable Sales

The KnitPicks summer yarn sale is going on now, with lots of yarns up to 40% off. I’m eyeing this dreamy gray fingering yarn for a second Boxy. (I love my first one, the worsted version that I knit last winter.) I’m also going to grab some superwash bulky for baby knitting, but I can’t decide between this avocado green color or a sunny but not-too-bright yellow. I’ll definitely be using it to knit this Fisherman’s Pullover, though. (I think it might be my favorite boys' sweater pattern.)

Get 20% off select items at Oak Meadow's Summer Solstice Sale this weekend (June 19-22). If you don't have Crafts for the Early Grades (such a great resource!) or a copy of The Heart of Learning, this is a great opportunity to scoop them up at a discounted price.


At Home with the Editors: Amy’s Homeschool (1st Grade)

At Home with the Editors: Amy's 1st Grade Homeschool

Shelli and I both passionately believe that our magazine should be inclusive of lots of different homeschool motivations and methods. We continue to strive to bring you a variety of resources that will inspire you as you consider what is best for your family. Because we know most homeschoolers enjoy sharing the resources and insights they have learned through homeschooling, we thought we would start a series on our blog about our own homeschools. If nothing else, you will get a behind-the-scenes look in the homes of the editors of home / school / life, but if something here helps you, all the better!

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Because there’s a pretty significant age gap between my kids (six years), I decided to do two separate posts to make things easy for myself. Today, I’m sharing some of the resources I use with my 1st grader.

The spine of our curriculum is Oak Meadow’s first grade program, which we use for language arts, social studies, art, and science. For these early grades, I really wanted something that would encourage him to try different things without worrying about whether there was a right answer. I like the way Oak Meadow emphasizes observation and imagination, and I love flipping back through his main lesson books (we have one for science and one for everything else) as the year progresses.

For history, we use Story of the World, which we do as a readaloud. While I read, he’ll draw a picture in his main lesson book related to the topic at hand — the Vikings and samurai were his favorites this year. We spend a little time discussing previous chapters at the beginning of every lesson, but I don’t expect him to remember everything. At this age, for me, it’s really about introducing him to important names and events. (My daughter often joins us for the readaloud — she still loves Story of the World.)

We use Miquon Math, which my son adores, for his math. We usually do a few pages in his book every day together, and he may keep going and do several more pages on his own. I let him set his own pace, though every once in a while, if I notice that he’s making a lot of simple mistakes, I encourage him to slow down. It took me a little while to get the hang of Miquon’s method — this is definitely a program where you will want to read the teacher’s manual in advance — but it’s proven to be a great fit for us. I wish the program continued through high school!

Oak Meadow’s science emphasizes nature study, but we also use The Nature Connection workbook and keep a daily nature journal. Usually, we stick to our backyard for journaling, but every once in a while, we’ll hike along the river or hit a nature center for a change of pace.

We started the year with BOB books, and now we’re powering through the Magic Treehouse series. My son was a pretty reluctant reader — maybe partly because he has a big sister who will pretty much always read him anything he wants — and it was really hard for me not to push him to read because books have always been such a big part of my own life. But I learned with his sister that pushing anything is the fastest way to make a kid avoid it, so I bit my tongue, and this year, he did start reading on his own. (I think it was mainly because he wanted to be able to play Pokemon without assistance, but I’ll take it!)

A lot of our literature comes from readalouds still, which we do a chapter or two at a time each day. We usually start the day cuddled up with a book. I keep a little notebook for each kid with a running list of what we read each year. This year, we’ve averaged about two and a half books a month, including Detectives in Togas, Henry Reed, Inc., The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Fablehaven, and The Island of the Aunts.

At Home with the Editors: Inside Amy's 1st grade

We use Oak Meadow’s crafts book and art lessons. I am not a naturally artsy person, so having the projects be both open-ended and spelled-out for me is great. (I highly recommend Oak Meadow's art and craft materials for non-crafty parents.) My son has really enjoyed finger-knitting, sewing, soap-carving, and making pinch pots. We are always done with lessons by lunch, so we take a few hours in the early afternoon for project-making.

On Thursdays, he takes a Philosophy for Kids class at our homeschool group, where he works on logic puzzles and discusses things like “Should you get everything you want?” and “What assumptions do you have about candy?” He really enjoys the class — this is the second year he’s taken it.

We also memorize a poem every week (or two, if it’s a tricky or longish poem) for Friday recitations. My son has been using the 20th Century Children’s Poetry Anthology (edited by Jack Prelutsky) for most of his poems this year. I think memorizing and reciting poetry is a highly underrated activity, and I frequently annoy my children by loudly and dramatically reciting poems when we are stuck in traffic.

We’ve also been cooking and reading our way through Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts by Jane Yolen. Every chapter has a Jewish folktale and traditional recipe, so we get in a little culture and cooking practice.

Writing it all down, this seems like a lot, but we’re pretty relaxed about all of it. If my son complains that he doesn’t want to do anything school-y one day, I don’t push. He’s always free to take the day off to do something else, but he usually opts to do a little work every day. (In fact, on days when I am running late, he’ll often come into my office with a stack of books, asking me when I will be ready for school.) I don’t want him to feel like learning is something you only do when you’re “doing school.”