Posted in Free Homeschooling Resources, Homeschool Information

Can You Homeschool on a Shoestring?

Potential homeschoolers are always asking if homeschooling is expensive and how to make it more affordable. So, can you homeschool on a shoestring? Absolutely!

homeschool on a shoestring

Can You Homeschool on a Shoestring?

Entire homeschool curricula can be found online, as can books, games, worksheets, you name it. I don’t know how homeschoolers did it before the advent of the personal computer! To peruse a whole bunch of homeschooling freebies I’ve found, you can click on Free Homeschooling Resources to see a list of everything I’ve shared in the past.

Online resources:

Other than using the internet, here are some simple things that we do or use to save money in our homeschool…

  • Library – we do not buy books we can find at the library – I use our local library’s website to search from home and can take a trip to the library weekly
  • Dollar store – there are so many things we can use at the dollar store, from bristol board and tape, to books and workbooks
  • Freecycle or any free exchange group – we used to belong to our local Freecycle group before it closed down and then joined a Facebook exchange group. We’ve received all sorts of great books and freebies as well as gifted unwanted items to others
  • Re-usable curriculum – we use Tapestry of Grace. Once you’ve bought all 4 years of the program, you have the outline for all 13 years of school, for as many children as you have. Plus, I have always saved the curricula that I use with my eldest to use with my youngest when she gets to that level.

There is also a book named Homeschooling on a Shoestring that you may want to check out for more ideas.

What’s your favourite resource for homeschooling on a shoestring? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Getting started homeschooling? Get your free Getting Started Checklist!

Please note: This article was originally published in August 2010 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Posted in Homeschool Information, Resources

Homeschooling Your Child with Special Needs

homeschooling your child with special needs

Homeschooling Your Child with Special Needs

Are you considering homeschooling your child with special needs? Many parents choose to homeschool their children with various special needs such as autism, ADHD, Downs Syndrome, giftedness, diabetes, and deafness.

A friend of mine started homeschooling her special needs child a few years ago, because his medical issues made being in the classroom downright dangerous. A simple fall could be deadly and the public school wasn’t willing to out necessary measures into effect. We started homeschooling our son in part because he was playing chess at age three and was bored when we put him into public school for his Kindergarten/Primary year.

The article, Homeschool Best Option for More and More Families With Special Needs Children, mentions a poll of homeschoolers that found 38% were homeschooling special needs children. If you are homeschooling your child with special needs, you’re not alone! Here is another article, sharing Perspectives on Teaching Special Needs for some encouragement from fellow homeschoolers.

If you are homeschooling your child with special needs, there are resources you can take advantage of:

I hope this helps you on your journey, whether you are homeschooling a child with special needs or considering it. Check out more articles on Meeting Your Child’s Learning Needs at The Canadian Homeschooler website.

 

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Posted in Free Homeschooling Resources, Homeschool Information

Free Online Homeschool Conference!

free online homeschool conference

Free Online Homeschool Conference!

I love homeschool conferences! They are a great way to learn about different curricula and meet new homeschooling families, and the sessions can be invaluable. I always leave refreshed and energized to tackle a new year of homeschooling.

I try to make it to as many as I can but since the Nova Scotia conference is usually the same weekend as my daughter’s dance recitals (as it was again this year), I usually don’t get to go. Of course, there’s also the fact that it’s almost a five hour drive to get there! Some years I haven’t been able to go due to finances or a lack thereof.

Now there’s an online conference I can attend, yay! The Digital Homeschool Convention offers more than 30 different sessions over four days next month. Topics vary from special needs homeschooling, to creating homeschool portfolios, to finding margin as a homeschool mom! You will enjoy these encouraging uplifting words from amazing homeschool moms.

I am especially looking forward to Creating Margin as a Homeschool Mom (something I often struggle with) by Heather Bowen and How to Make Art Appreciation a Natural Part of Your Homeschool Life (because I would love to) by Erica Johns.

The best part of this conference is that you don’t need to leave your house. You don’t have to spend money on food, gas, or hotels, and registration is free as are the sessions! Mark it on your calendar now – it all happens July 22-25. You can register here, free!

Have you been to a homeschool conference? What do you think is the best part about attending a homeschool conference? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

 

Please note: This article includes affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I make a few pennies to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support!

Posted in Homeschool Information

Homeschooling Through it All

homeschooling through it all

Homeschooling Through it All

There are so many advantages of homeschooling, such as being able to go on field trips as often as you want, and time for exploring passions and extracurricular activities. But how do you homeschool through illness, family stress, or crisis?

When we first moved provinces almost 10 years ago, my then 8 year old son had a little trouble adjusting. He missed his best friend and he missed simply being able to walk over to his friend’s house almost anytime, having moved from a suburb home to a rural one.

For the first few months of homeschooling that year we were able to keep a light homeschooling load. We took a day off whenever he felt overwhelmed by it all, and we spent a lot of time outside on our new 50 acres of land as well as sight-seeing across our beautiful island of Cape Breton.

Minor illnesses are easy. Whether I am sick (as I am right now) or my kids are sick, we usually still homeschool to a certain degree, but it’s often limited to some light reading, with perhaps a few educational videos. If any of us are experiencing some stress, we can take a day off, a few days off, or even a week off. Then we come back energized and ready to dive right back into homeschooling again!

In our first year of homeschooling, when my son was 6 years old, he contracted influenza. My poor child was ill for weeks and felt a lingering weakness for some time afterward. We were able to take it easy and introduce homeschool work gradually once he started feeling a bit better. I hate to think about how stressful it would have been if he was in public school and stressed out about catching up on all the work he’d missed. Even worse, we might have been pressured to send him back to school when he was still in a weakened state.

Recently, one of my family members in Ontario was sick in the hospital. My 17 year old son and I were able to drop everything and drive out to visit. It was time well spent and we were very happy to help out and see our loved one get released from the hospital before we came back home again. My 12 year old stayed home with her father and went about her usual extracurricular activities. working on some light homeschooling while we were gone.

The flexibility of homeschooling through it all is a wonderful advantage – homeschooling is flexible and we can adjust the work load to suit us at any given time, including taking some time off.

Have you experienced the advantages of homeschooling through it all? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Thinking about starting to homeschool? Check out the Getting Started Homeschooling Checklist!

Posted in Homeschool Information, Resources

Homeschool Math with the Abacus

What is an abacus? Do you imagine one of these?
math with the abacus
That’s more of a baby toy and can’t be used effectively for calculations any more complex than addition and subtraction, but a real abacus can be.

Homeschool Math with the Abacus

math with the abacus
The abacus is an ancient calculator that has been used for thousands of years. It is still in use today, especially in Asia and the Middle East. The word “abacus” originally comes from the Greek word “abax” for “counting board”. The Greeks used boards with sand on them to draw out their equations. The Romans used boards with grooves and beads or rocks. The Abacus we are more familiar with originated in Asia.
The Chinese abacus has 7 beads on each rod, with 2 on the top and 5 on the bottom, separated by one horizontal beam.

math with the abacus

The Japanese abacus is called a soroban and has 5 beads on each rod, with just one on the top and 4 on the bottom, divided by one horizontal beam (the reckoning bar). It has at least 9 rods, and the number of rods is always an odd number.

math with the abacus
Each abacus is set to zero when all of the beads above the bar are up (not in contact with the reckoning bar) and all the beads below the bar are down (not in contact with the reckoning bar). The Japanese abacus pictured above is set to zero. The units rods on the Japanese abacus are the rods with the dots on them. The units rod on the Chinese abacus is the one on the far right.

For either abacus, on the units rod, if you raise one bead below the bar up to the reckoning bar, that represents 1. Two raised up to the reckoning bar represents 2 and so on. A bead above the bar lowered to the reckoning bar represents 5. To the left of the units rod, you will have the tens. A bead above the bar lowered to the reckoning bar in the tens rod represents 50. Two beads below the bar raised up to the reckoning bar represent 20, three represent 30, and so on. On the soroban, you can also show decimal places, to the right of any units rod.

Did you know the abacus, especially the soroban, can be used not only for addition and subtraction, but also multiplication, division, and also square roots? In 1946, a person using the soroban outperformed an electric calculating machine!

The abacus can be a very useful tool in your homeschool. It is visual and tactile, and its usage can be transferred to mental math easily. Once a child has done calculations repeatedly using the abacus, they can start to visualize them without using the abacus – math calculations can become a mental “picture”.

Your child can make a Japanese abacus out of Popsicle sticks! Here’s a great how-to at Education.com. Once you have made or bought your own abacus (I recommend a soroban because it’s a bit easier to use and handle), you can start using it with your children to make homeschool math fun!

Here is an article on How to Teach Mathematics Using an Abacus. (Please note that they are using a Chinese abacus in the article, but you can easily follow the steps with a soroban as well.) Your children will have fun clicking those beads for a change instead of the usual pencil and paper. It sure beats counting on your fingers!

Start with addition and subtraction and then give multiplication and division a try. You may find your visual learners memorizing the patterns each number makes. Once this starts happening, they may be able to “use” the abacus in their mind. Here is a handy, step-by-step lesson plan designed for Grades 4-6 at the PBS website, complete with worksheets.
If you would prefer your child learn about the abacus and mental math from someone else, you could try a UCMAS centre. UCMAS has locations all over the world and their programs are for ages 4 and up.

Let me know if you make or try out math with the abacus in your homeschool!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Posted in Homeschool Information, Things to Do, Places to Go

I Hope You Dance!

dance in your homeschool

I Hope You Dance!

I have dance on my mind since my daughter participated in the final dance competition of the season this past weekend. In fact, I got in the act as well and competed in a big studio number on stage with my daughter. Here we are backstage at the competition:

dance in your homeschool

When did you last dance with your children? Whether you are a trained dancer or can only step side-to-side to the music, you can dance in your homeschool day. There are many amazing benefits to dance! It’s also an easy “physical education” activity you can do inside the home, especially on rainy or snowy days.

Here are some ideas for having fun with dance in your homeschool:

  • Pop some orchestral music on and hand your children each a scarf to move with to the music. You can throw the scarf, sway with the scarf, make circles with the scarf, or anything the music moves you to do. The William Tell Overture finale is excellent for this, as is Holst’s The Planets, or even your favourite movie soundtrack.
  • How did people dance from the historical period you’re studying? If you’re studying the 17th or 18th century, try a Minuet. If you’re studying Modern times, have some fun with the twist, the polka, or the bunny hop!

dance in your homeschool

 

 

dance in your homeschool

 

  • Put on some music from your youth and show your children how you used to tear up the dance floor in “your day”.
  • If you enjoy having fun with different styles of dance, pick up or rent a Zumba DVD and give it a try. Zumba is dance as a form of exercise, and incorporates many different styles.
  • Do you have a Wii? Enjoy “Just Dance” or the Wii Fit. Parents can dance too, it’s a hoot and it’s great exercise! (We like to pull Just Dance out for birthday parties and often the parents will dance in the background to some of their favourites while the children play).
  • If worship dance is more your style, put on some worship music and dance unto the Lord.
  • Do you or your children want to explore a particular style of dance?

    dance in your homeschool

    • Check out this series of how-to videos for jazz
    • Whatever the style of dance you’re interested in, there are likely videos and books available at the library or YouTube videos online.
    • Of course, nothing can compare to lessons at a terrific, local dance studio, whether it’s for your children, yourself, or both. Enjoy classes at the studio then have fun practising daily as part of your homeschool day!

“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…
I hope you dance,
I hope you dance.”
~ from “I Hope You Dance” – song by Lee Ann Womack

Do you ever dance in your homeschool? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Posted in Homeschool Information

Fun Schooling History

fun schooling history

Fun Schooling History

History is often the dry, dreaded class in a public school setting, but it doesn’t have to be in your homeschool! Here are some tips for fun schooling history in your homeschool.

Eat Through History

What did the Vikings eat? How about the Ancient Romans? What were popular dishes in the Medieval period? Many of these dishes are still eaten today in different parts of the world. Have some fun in the kitchen with recipes from a book such as the Usborne Children’s World Cookbook, or look for recipes online. You may even find some of your historical dishes become family favourites! One of our favourites is a Viking fish dish we found on the Parks Canada Heritage Gourmet app

Include Primary Source Material

There is nothing like reading first-hand, personal accounts of wars and different times in history – using primary sources. These first-hand accounts can be so exciting, or at the very least eye-opening! Here is a great collection of primary source material from different periods in world history.

Read Historical Fiction

Historical fiction can really bring a period in history alive! While historical fiction isn’t all true, generally the setting and way of life will paint a good picture of the time period in a very compelling way. The Book of Negroes is an excellent example (for older teens). I thoroughly enjoyed reading it myself and learned so much about slavery in the U.S. and Canada that I hadn’t known about before! Once you read the book, watch the miniseries. It was filmed here in Nova Scotia!

Enjoy Historical Arts, Crafts & Trades

There are so many arts, crafts, and trades that have been enjoyed over the centuries by different cultures around the world. Many of them are simple and can be done with items you already have around your home, such as the fibre arts. Sometimes, you can even find local tradesman and artisans that will let you try a historical art, such as glass blowing or working at the forge, like my son is doing here:

Fun Schooling history

History Through Song and Music Videos

It is so much fun to learn history through music! There are many great audio CDs out there to learn from and sing along to, such as the History Songs from Audio Memory and the Presidents’ Rap and the Prime Ministers of Canada from Sara Jordan. Bring them with you in the car for some “car schooling” fun. I learned more about our Canadian Prime Ministers through that one CD than all my years of public school!

You can find a great example of fun music videos that teach all about history on the “historyteachers” channel on Youtube – for example, learn all about Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia set to Lady Gaga’s Pokerface!

Dress Up Time!

Have your children dress up like a famous figure you have been studying. They can memorize and recite a speech or piece of writing that the famous person is most noted for. You can make it simple and use clothes or sheets you already have around the house, or teach sewing and make more elabourate costumes. Some heritage sites offer a chance to dress up, such as the Fortress of Louisbourg here in Cape Breton:

fun schooling history

Integrated Learning

Another way to keep history interesting, is to study it in context. It doesn’t have to be a separate subject. Learn the relevant geography along with your history. Look at old historical maps and compare with present day maps. These black line maps to print out and label are a great resource. You may even want to use a unit study or an integrated curriculum such as Tapestry of Grace.

History doesn’t have to be boring! How do you make history fun in your homeschool? Please let me know in the comments below.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Posted in Homeschool Information

Delay Formal Math?

delay formal math

Delay Formal Math?

Are you unsure about how to handle math with your child? Does paper and pencil math move them (and you) to tears?

When does your child need to begin formal math instruction?

Kindergarten/Primary? Grade 1? Or can they begin even later? You might be surprised to know that in our homeschool, formal math instruction began around Grade 4 age. This wasn’t something we arrived at before we began homeschooling, but something that happened gradually.

Learning math naturally

When each of our children were merely toddlers, my husband would naturally engage with them in ways I didn’t think of myself: counting stairs when going up and down or asking them to point the way while they were riding on his shoulders – left or right, north or south. He instinctively started dealing with spatial consciousness and numeracy. We played games in the car that involved estimating speed and distance, such as guessing what time we would reach our destination and seeing who was closest.

When our firstborn was three, my husband started playing chess with him, along with other board games. We started giving him a small allowance at age three so he could naturally learn how to count and handle money. Already a Star Wars fan at about age five, we bought him the Star Wars Math CD-Rom. We were delighted to see that he was learning so many great math concepts simply by playing games.

A formal math curriculum

We were starting to see that math fun could happen anywhere. However, we still thought he had to use a formal math program and tried a few math curricula. Our son hated pencil and paper math and resisted it – there were complaints and even tears. We were frustrated, but knowing that he had an aptitude for math and not wanting him to develop an aversion to it, we backed off. We encouraged him to keep playing math games on the computer, and board games too, including chess.

When our son was about nine years old, we gave a computer-based curriculum a try – Teaching Textbooks. It was a hit! He loved spending time on the computer and, being a very auto-didactic child, loved doing the work on his own. But how did he do? Did having very little experience with formal math instruction up to that point doom him to struggle with it? Not at all. He had no problem jumping right in.

We followed the same path with our daughter – no formal math instruction to begin with. She didn’t show the same aptitude for math as her brother, but she had fun with Cuisenaire rods, math shape blocks, board games, and video games. And she also started receiving an allowance at age three in order to learn about money. Like her brother, she began learning about fractions and measurements through baking in the kitchen with me as a toddler/preschooler.

When our daughter was eight years old, we had the opportunity to review an online math program, ALEKS, for a few weeks. She had no problem picking it right up, and in just a few weeks had completed a quarter of a full year program. When she began studying Grade 4 level work, we started formal math instruction using Teaching Textbooks as well. While our daughter does complain about math from time to time, and takes her time with it, she usually gets things correct on the first try.

Math instruction in history

I am not the first to delay formal math instruction – historically, math instruction was delayed until age 10 or even later right up into the 20th century. Research has been done that supports the delay of formal math, finding that children’s brains aren’t ready to think abstractly until around age 10 and that they ultimately do better with formal math when it’s delayed.

There are a number of books and resources available to read more about delaying formal math:

• The Bluedorns recommend delaying formal math until age 10. You can read an article at Trivium Pursuit or check out their book, Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn

• The Moores believe in delaying formal studies of any kind until around age 8-10. You can check out their book for more information, Better Late Than Early by Raymond & Dorothy Moore

My hope is that my children will both continue to enjoy math, having been able to have fun with it from a young age. Math in the kitchen is still a big hit!

Have you delayed formal math instruction in your homeschool? How do you make math fun? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

This article contains affiliate links, if you click through and buy, I make a few pennies to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support

Posted in Homeschool Information

Attending Homeschool Conferences

I LOVE attending homeschool conferences! I love the books, the products, the camaraderie of other homeschoolers, not to mention the speakers. Years ago when I lived in Ontario, I loved attending various conferences within a one or two-hour drive of my home. Living here in Cape Breton, the closest one is almost five hours away, so I don’t get out to it every year. It often conflicts with my children’s dance recitals. But I do attend as often as I can. I have even attended the wonderful homeschool conference in New Brunswick.

attending homeschool conferences

Attending Homeschool Conferences

When attending a conference, it’s a good idea to prepare before you go. Bring a list with you, otherwise you may find yourself unable to make choices, or even worse, buying everything in sight when you’re on a strict budget!

Conference Planning List

Add to the list:

    • resources already on the shelf to use for next year
    • resources still needed to purchase for next year
    • resources you want to sell at the conference (if applicable)
    • a firm budget (so you don’t go overboard)
    • the speaking sessions you most want to attend

The fantastic thing about conferences is that there are homeschool vendors all gathered in one place. You will be able to check out any curriculum or product you’ve heard of, but haven’t been able to touch and peruse in person. Be open to the possibility of finding things you haven’t heard of or hadn’t planned on purchasing that would be a perfect fit for the next homeschool year. Beware though, it’s EASY to go overboard! Setting a budget before attending homeschool conferences is essential!

I have found some amazing resources at our Nova Scotia conference over the years, from wooden math pattern blocks (that got a lot of mileage with my kids) to great little BIble verse colouring books. I am always able to pick up some curricula that I was planning on buying. Buying in person saves on shipping and you can also get advice on what to choose directly from the shop keeper or curriculum designer.

The speakers at homeschool conferences are always thoroughly enjoyable and give just the boost you need to look forward to and get excited about the next homeschooling year. This is especially important if you’re dragging your feet in your homeschool by the time the conference comes around or already dreading the coming year. It can and does happen, even to the most enthusiastic homeschool parents!

Write down the speaking sessions you most want to attend and the times so you don’t miss them – consider inputting them in your smartphone calendar so you don’t get distracted in the vendor hall and miss one! You may want to also leave some room in your budget to purchase the conference recordings. You can listen to them again whenever you need to, and catch the speakers you missed because you chose to attend a conflicting session.

If you’re looking for your local homeschool conference, try your provincial or state homeschooling organization website (there’s a handy list of North American homeschool organization links at the end of the article here). If you’re in Nova Scotia, check out the upcoming Nova Scotia conference in June on the Events page here.

If you’re like me, a distance away from your local conference, consider “attending” an online conference or workshop. You can find many webinars under Online Events on the Events page here.

Do you love attending homeschool conferences too? Please share any favourites and stories in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Please note: This article was originally published in March 2011 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Posted in Homeschool Information

Geek Schooling: Learning with Angry Birds

learning with angry birds

 

Geek Schooling: Learning with Angry Birds

Does your child love playing Angry Birds? If you don’t know what all the fuss is about – give Angry Birds a try now. You can have so much fun learning through playing Angry Birds in your homeschool! Learn how to have fun and enjoy Learning with Angry Birds at GeekSchoolingGuide.com.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly