So we are at the end of the first semester according to some school calendars. Whether you closely adhere to such a calendar or just do your own thing, you have some idea where your child could be struggling by now.
I think homeschoolers are sometimes hesitant to engage a tutor because they feel it reflects poorly on their ability to teach. But the fact is, NO ONE is an expert in every subject at every grade level. It just isn’t possible. There are several other reasons a tutor might be helpful.
Your child may have a learning disability that you are not able to address on your own.
Your child may get easily frustrated and may work better with someone who is not so focused on their success. Not that a tutor doesn’t care about the student’s success, they just don’t have an emotional attachment to the child the way a parent does. Sometimes the stress of the parent wanting them to succeed so badly puts pressure on the student. This can cause a disconnect between the parent and the student. A tutor is a neutral party and can focus just on the subject or subjects she is addressing and leave all the other areas to the parent.
There may be many students for one parent to work with and having a tutor for specific areas eases the load a bit so each child can get the attention they need.
Perhaps a parent is also trying to work outside the home and just doesn’t have the time and energy to address something more challenging right now.
No matter the reason, there is evidence that having a tutor for a season is of great benefit.
What makes tutoring a successful investment?
Consistent sessions – usually an hour long and no less than once per week.
One-on-one rather than group sessions.
Working on processes and skill building rather than “studying” information. In other words, teaching the student how to study effectively, not spending a lot of time helping them study for specific exams.
Not giving up too soon. Learning takes time. Bad habits that have formed need time to be relearned in a more productive way.
There are several ways to set up a tutoring relationship. I personally do much of my tutoring at my home. It sets the mood to learning for the student because it isn’t the comfort of home with all the distractions. I also sometimes work with a student at a library. With the ability to do sessions over the internet, there is also that option and online tutoring can be much easier to schedule. It’s still a one-on-one relationship and can have great benefit to the student in an easier format for the parent. All you need is a quiet room and a computer that will run Skype.
Here is an article to check out as you consider whether tutoring is a good addition to your homeschool.
My latest experience was with an elementary student who was bringing home Ds and Fs on his language arts papers. We began working together and after a couple of months, he brought home these two papers. He was so proud of his improvement!
A tutoring relationship can be a short-term activity. Usually, a student just needs help to get beyond a specific skill challenge. Sometimes a more long-term plan is good, especially in the case of a student with special needs. Working closely with your child’s tutor can help direct you as you make the best decisions for your child.
If you would like to discuss your situation on a personal level please contact me.
In our highly technical age, we are all aware that the love of books and reading takes more effort to build in our children than it used to. There are so many other things that compete for their time that reading gets pushed aside. Renaissance Learning published a great resource listing ways you can encourage your kids to love reading:
You can also take every opportunity to involve your kids in library programs. It’s a step beyond just taking them to get books. Most libraries have regularly scheduled storytimes as well as special events throughout the year. Many libraries also offer reading programs in the summer and some even during the school year. Check with the children’s librarian at your local library to find out what is available to you.
I think most homeschoolers look for bargains when it comes to buying curriculum. That’s why the market for used curriculum material is so hot.
I ran across this post this morning for free educational books you can download for your Kindle. You don’t own a Kindle? No worries…you can download Kindle apps for your browser, smartphone, or tablet here. This means you can download and use these books even if you don’t own a Kindle. All you need is an Amazon account.
If I had to pick one book on homeschooling to recommend it would be You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick. In my twenty-two years of homeschooling, I have never read a more useful book for grades 4-8. Actually, the concepts Ruth discusses in this book will be useful for your entire homeschool journey.
This book is not a curriculum that you can pick up and use directly for instruction. What you will find is page after page of sensible, practical suggestions on how to teach the subjects you need to be teaching your children. The author gives you dozens of examples of ways to teach using books you already have or books from the library. You can still choose to purchase a standard curriculum like Abeka or Sonlight and use the ideas in this book. But you can also use this book as a guide to help you create your own personalized curriculum that meets your student’s unique learning style.
The book’s approach is simple, natural learning. It focuses on taking what is available to you and making it a tool for learning. The author doesn’t give you lesson plans and information to teach. Instead, she helps you find ways to gain confidence in yourself and your student and helps you relax in your homeschool journey. That makes it less stressful and much more enjoyable. Learning becomes a natural part of everyday life and not something artificial and irrelevant.
Ruth’s methods are easy to understand and easy to implement. You will find that you refer to this book over and over. My copy is falling apart!
Great news for those families that homeschool in Ohio. Legislation was just passed that provides “… the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities offered at the district school to which the student otherwise would be assigned during that school year.”
In other words, a student is no longer required to enroll in their local public school system to be able to participate in sports, music, and other extracurricular activities.
Another significant provision of the bill is that homeschoolers can receive funding from the state’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Program (PSEO). This program pays for dual enrollment college courses at participating Ohio institutions of higher learning.
At our house, it has become a tradition to spend the cold days of our Iowa winters listening to books on CD. We are often finished with our schoolwork shortly after lunch which leaves the long afternoons to work together on a jigsaw puzzle while we listen to a book on CD. We have listened to some wonderful books over the years and I wanted to share our list of favorites with you.
As my children have grown we have chosen more challenging stories but while they were younger we listened to books like these:
You would think with the busyness of the holidays I wouldn’t have time to read. Wrong! I always have time to read. It is definitely my sanity safety net. This month I have been reading a variety of things. Sometimes whole books, sometimes just portions of a book. Either way, I have found some interesting reading lately.
One book I have been enjoying is Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe. This is a fascinating culinary tour of the world that highlights a vast collection of foods and places. From the cherries of northern Michigan to vanilla from Madagascar, to the mushrooms of central France, you are treated to delicacies that will intrigue you. And the book is published by National Geographic so the photos are amazing. This book reminds me of the Peter Menzel books. We’ve enjoyed two of his books.
Books like these allow you to experience the world from the comfort of your home. I know it isn’t quite like being there, but for large families like ours, on one income, the opportunity to actually travel the world is not really an option. This is one way to bring some of the worlds diversity to your family in a very satisfying way.
Another book I’ve been reading is called Homeschool Your Child For Free by LauraMaery Gold and Joan M. Zielinski. This book contains more than 1,400 resources that you can take advantage of for free. The book is divided into subject areas and then further grouped in smaller subtopics. Every entry has a brief summary of what is available and then the web address. Most are totally free. Some do have subscription options that give you access to more of the website’s resources should you choose to pay the fee. I have found some great websites that I will be using with my boys.
Finally, a book that has given me much to think about is Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World by Dr. David Jeremiah. This book is sort of a follow-up to a previous book he wrote called What in the World is Going On? Last winter we listened to a series of Dr. Jeremiah’s messages (on the prophecies from the book of Revelation) that became the book What in the World is Going On? We were fascinated by the information he shared. Now I am reading this latest book and find that his suggestions about how we are to live, in light of the end times message, are very helpful. His focus is on what we can do that is positive in an increasingly negative world. It has really helped me to redirect my energy to something more productive than living in fear of the future. I highly recommend any of Dr. Jeremiah’s books. He seems to have a very realistic view of how we can face the future with anticipation instead of apprehension.
Well, that’s all I have for now. I’ll have a new list in a couple of weeks when I finish these books and start on the pile I have waiting for me!
This year marked the 100th birthday of Charles Darwin. With that fact drawing attention again to his work, there has been a renewed interest in the age-old conflict – Evolution vs. Creationism. My older boys have shown an interest in this topic and have read several books about the subject. We have had an opportunity to discuss what a Christian worldview is and how it is in conflict with the other popular worldviews of the current era.
We have found several resources that have been particularly helpful in our studies of Creation and of the ongoing controversy surrounding it. I have listed some of the best that we have examined so far. We are certainly not finished with this subject and will probably find many more reference materials being published in the near future. Therefore, consider this a list in progress, subject to change as more information becomes available.
Probably THE best source of information concerning the study of Creation comes from Creation Ministries International. They have the most up to date information and the greatest presentation that I have seen so far. You could spend days on their website and still not see everything.
Another great resource is Answers In Genesis. Founded by Ken Ham, this organization has spent 30 years sharing information on topics such as the age of the earth, the flood and the significance of archaeological discoveries. There are many answers to the questions that people have been asking for decades.
Since our homeschool method is pretty relaxed, I usually use mostly library books for history. No dry textbooks for us. We’d rather find a story, be it fiction or biography, that helps us imagine what it was really like to live in a particular time period. So I am always looking for interesting titles that I can read aloud to my younger boys or recommend as independent reading to the older ones. I try not to assign them specific books but rather allow them the freedom to choose titles that they find interesting.
There are many resources available that help you choose a variety of books to interest your children. Since I have all boys, I have found a book called Great Books for Boys by Kathleen Odean particularly helpful. The author has organized her recommendations first by reading level and then by genre. She gives short summaries of each book and the age group recommended.
Another general title is What to Read When by Pam Allyn. This resource begins with a section of ideas to get your child motivated to read and then she gives a list of books recommended by age group. Finally, she lists suggestions of books that relate to 50 different topics that she has chosen to address. Some of the topics she deals with include adoption, death, divorce, siblings and loneliness. All the topics are things many children are going to face in their lives and the author has given several books in each category to help kids grow through the challenges they face.
I have also found a couple of more specific resources helpful. As I said, I often rely on historical fiction when I am talking about history with my children. A couple of resources have been designed to make this easier. One is Let the Authors Speak by Carolyn Hatcher. This book goes through the eras of history with recommendations for books that are sorted by setting. The author has noted the reading age and type of book as well as a comment to help you in your search. There are hundreds of titles that you might not ever run across on your own. This book has been a valuable resource for us for many years. It is out of print now and available used at a pretty high price. The best way to get your hands on this book might be through inter-library loan. Check with your local library.
Another similar title, Turning Back the Pages of Time by Kathy Keller is also out of print but still available used. This is just a small, 35-page booklet but it is packed with great reading suggestions sorted by era and then by reading ability. It is worth finding if you are using fiction to teach history.
That’s all I have for now. If you have come across other resources of a similar nature I would love to hear about them. Feel free to add a comment to this post with your recommendations.