The 5 (6) Paragraph Blog: Resources for your Home-School, High-School Edition

When our family started this home-schooling adventure, it was such a big and scary thing! As the years went by, it did not seem such a big deal and my boys were frequently complimented for not only their knowledge, but their behavior and kindness towards other. Then, the High-School age began to loom over us and I was uncertain how to handle it as there were not so many helpful blogs and services out there for that particular age group at the time. In fact, the few places I could look went from education in a fun and interesting way to a sudden dry and uninteresting format. As if people hit a sudden block to making learning fun in the high-school years. It’s bull.

I must not have been the only one to feel this way, because more and more authors, blogs, sites, families, companies, and more began offering ideas and products that continued to make learning fun even for the maturing high-schooler. I was thankful and so were my boys. There is so much out there for high-schoolers these days, but perhaps you are wondering where to find them? We have free services, boxed curriculum,  and the more niche fitting curriculum a person can use.

So…free you say? yep, there are free and good resources out there for high-schoolers, such as Easy Peasy All-in-One High School, which I consider very user friendly. For a more classical approach, some free resources are: The Classical Curriculum and Ambleside -leaning towards Ambleside more-However, not all materials and needs that go along with it will be free. You can do further research to find matching/similar  free book materials here. Ambleside does have some links to free resources available and I feel the format is a bit easier to follow. Still, neither is as easy to follow along as Easy Peasy, which is also pretty all-inclusive when it comes to curriculum needs. One last free resource I think is fabulous is Khan’s Academy. I can not say enough about it. it’s good and can help even the most math reluctant individual out there into learning something.

One site I have used and found great and chock full of helpful utilities at a fairly low cost is SchoolhouseTeachers.com. You can find my review for them here. You can also look into a really fun math and science focused site called Supercharged Science. They have a lot of free online classes and events as well as paid for services (Money Back Guarantee, even). My boys always enjoyed her classes in the past. Another fairly low-cost option is Time4Learning, though we have chosen to go other routes.

For our family, we tend to prefer a combination of resource types and do not rely on only online. In fact, one year we stayed away from it entirely due to the fact one son was not very good at staying away from games and videos having nothing to do with his schooling. Hard to block such things when many online curriculum happen to use the same sites! Not to mention, teenagers figure it out, hmm? For years we relied on My Father’s World curriculum. It was fabulous until High School, where it suddenly got dry and boring and my boys were really unenthusiastic about it. I still think it is wonderful for the grade-school ages, but for High-School we went with Master Books curriculum, which my boys enjoyed far more for their High-School needs.

The thing about learning is this: It truly is life long! Not only do my boys use books, videos, curriculum, and multiple resources to expand their knowledge, I do as well! You are never too old to learn something new or to increase your knowledge on an already known subject. The resources I listed are only a drop in the hat. We are so fortunate to live in an age where so much is at our fingertips. Take advantage! Whether you home school, are seeking additional schooling support, or just want to learn for yourself, these resources are sure to help you get there.

 

Until next time

*This post contains a few affiliate links, though no one asked me to write it and I was not provided any incentive to.

The Damage You Do

Everything we say or do has an effect. In fact, there is not a time where the very existence of you has an effect. So, what prompts tonight’s topic? You hear of that one person who finally got someone on the right track. Well, sometimes that one person is not a good thing.  In fact,  It was a teacher who was one of the biggest reasons we started the home school journey. It’s also why Mr. M struggles to this day when it comes to applying himself to certain things. What this teacher said and did in a single moment resulted in Mr M being afraid to write. Not only that, it made him think he was worthless. She affected him, and still does, in such far reaching ways that I feel this single person reduced his chances at success.

I remember how hard it was trying to communicate with Mr M when he was in early grade school. He had severe speech problems, a very high pitched voice, and great difficulty expressing himself as a result. Because he was at school I was not around to immediately know what was going on; such as the bullying he was suffering from other children. It was not until he got a terrific teacher who specialized in behavioral issues that we became aware of what issues were dragging our son down. She stopped the bullying and began to get Mr M to participate and flourish. It was amazing and I felt like this was it!

And then they shuffled teachers and classes around.

Mr M was placed in another classroom despite the fact this was the first time he was on target and had made progress. My request he stay with the first teacher was denied despite my phone calls and efforts. Now, to better understand the situation, Mr M disliked writing and this first teacher had him writing. In fact, He was writing beautifully. When the teacher change occurred, he even wrote for the new teacher. One time. Why just one time, you ask? Because, when he gave his paper to her, she looked at it, ripped it in half, and threw it away. She informed him it was “not good enough”. It was then he stopped writing all together and began the entire sitting there for hours on end not saying anything or responding. We also learned the bullying had returned.

I tried, as I had with every other teacher,to try and keep updated and know Mr M’s progress. As in previous years, information was hard to get and because of speech issues, Mr M was unable to fully share with us what was going on. I suppose I should count it a blessing this current teacher was so confident that he was worth so little, she felt comfortable telling me outright how annoying his voice was when he whined about the other children bothering him. At the time I felt powerless to help my son and my pleas for changes were largely ignored. Mr M became more and more withdrawn while falling further and further behind. Eventually,  things came to such a head; I thought there was no way home schooling could be worse than public school when it came to his education.

I was correct. It took a lot of time, but I was eventually able to stop Mr M from staring into space or looking at us blankly for literally hours on end. He even wrote a little off and on after quite a bit of effort. Despite the fact what he writes is always beautifully written, has terrific sentence structure and a very well understood topic with support, it’s never easy getting him to write. He believes his ideas are no good and will not write without a heck of a lot of pushing. I feel I can not force him to enjoy writing. The best writing curriculum in the world wont instill a love of writing to a broken-hearted child. Honestly, I’m not sure if he will ever appreciate the act of writing despite the fact that when he does, it’s very good.

What happened years ago still affects his confidence to the extent he would much rather not try at all. Just in case he fails. In fact, we just faced this exact same issue tonight.  It all ties back to that one teacher. He is  convinced it’s not going to be good enough. That he is not good enough. He knows we would never do what that teacher did to him in his head, but emotionally? He still pays the price of one person’s actions to this day. I know he has progressed, but I wonder if the battle will ever be over where he realizes how smart, creative, and good he is. Even at writing. Especially at writing.

In closing, I wonder if there are others out there that battle anything similar? Perhaps not with your child. Maybe it was you that was treated in such a way that it broke a part of you. Perhaps you were even the one that hurt another. I just want my son to know how amazing he is and strive for success. To stop being so afraid of failure he is afraid to even try. I see he has come along way, but that one incident hurt him so very badly that it still haunts not only himself, but the family as we struggle to help him overcome it’s effects.

Review: SchoolhouseTeachers.com Yearly Membership (Affiliate Links!)

Well, good morning my fellow homeschoolers and bloggers! Today I have the great pleasure of sharing this review of the Yearly Membership for SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This is a product I could not wait to get my hands on as we have used it with our family more than once over the years. To be frank, the only reason we had not used it the last couple of years were two things. 1. The boys got older and much of what they had was still aimed at younger learners until recently and 2. I need to curb online education a bit since they were getting old enough to easily get distracted opening other web pages and the like.

As with everything in life, things change and/or needs have to be reassessed. The boys continued to mature and be more responsible and I could begin reincorporating online curriculum without worrying or needing to stand over them the entire time. This new maturity enabled me to pursue many things, including applying to become a 2017 Curriculum Reviewer on the Homeschool Review Crew and also caring for children/families as a “for hire nanny” to help earn a little extra income for our family. You see, I have yet to make money off this blog. Not even for the “Crew”. This may change, but until then…I have to earn money somewhere 🙂

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}So, imagine my excitement when I was offered a free Yearly Membership in return for my review! Here was an excellent way for me to check things out again to see if there was anything useful for high school aged young men who are very independent at this point. This, of course, was offered smack in the middle of what is our Holiday Break (We take off from Thanksgiving until after the New Year so we can focus on quality family time and service to others) and ‘Lo and behold…I got some groaning from those teen boys when I asked them to peruse the site and pick one or two things that interested them and give it a go.

Don’t get me wrong, I used the site myself and got hooked on their free Silver Membership to Applecore. Oh..My..Gawd..I could not be more excited then when I realized this was part of the Yearly Membership! You also have the option to upgrade to Gold for Applecore.

  • The Silver Applecore Plan Includes: Course Tracker, Grade Reporting, Report Cards, Portfolio, Attendance
  • The Gold Applecore Plan Includes: Course Tracker, Grade Reporting, Report Cards, Portfolio Assistance, Attendance, Scheduler, Transcripts (recommended plan for high school)

sir-a-applecore

Ok, enough about my own experience. As I mentioned, my boys did groan a bit, one more than the other! The eldest simply did not bother, but my youngest, the 15-year-old, was more willing and cooperative and tried a few things, most notably the Web Game Design course. Keep in mind I left it entirely up to them what they would pursue. They already have a full course load for this school year and are already independently completing work and I wanted them to explore interests on their own to continue helping them prepare for the world as an adult. There are so many courses available now to choose from and this is the result of his exploration. Keep in mind it might appear simple, but he made this using HTML5 in the ‘HTML5 Canvas and JavaScript’ section of the course in Lessons Three-Six. It was also completely on his own with no help from me.

 

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Sir A’s Picture with HTML5 Code

 

While this product was offered to our family when we already have the 2016-17 school year figured out, I know where I will be getting 2017-18 curriculum from! The courses, information, help, and ideas for teenagers has improved tremendously since the time I was using it for spelling help in the younger years. Not only that, I found myself intrigued by their Just for Parents section under the resources drop down menu. There is so much available there for those new to the idea of homeschooling all the way to grandparents who support a new generation of homeschooling. You have everything from faith building links to special needs support available for your use!

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List of the many subjects found on SchoolhouseTeachers.com!

Yes, I know this is getting long for some of you, but I wanted to be sure you knew that right now New members can try a 1-month-trial offer; just enter the code: TRIAL at checkout to get your first month for just $1. I assure you, the resources you find there during that one month is worth far more than $1. Just check out the price of many other curriculum sites after you look over the courses for yourself and you will be amazed that you can get a Yearly Membership for as little as $90 a year until January 15th 🙂 Enjoy!

 

*Note* In mid-January,  SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a price increase. The promotion is to LOCK IN NOW at the $9.95/month rate so that you save 50% on the NEW prices. In about a week and a half this same monthly service will be $19.95/month–approximately twice as much!

Until next time!

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}Crew Disclaimer

The 5 Paragraph Blog: The Beauties and Beasts of Parenting

Ah, trying to fit such a topic into only 5 paragraphs will feel very limiting. However, the liberation of knowing I will choose only 3 highlights of such an all encompassing part of my life may provide a focus I rarely have while parenting. I believe I will focus on 3 aspects of parenting that bring both pros and cons, aka “Beauties and Beasts”. One I can think of immediately is this: You are your children’s main example. Another is the fact you watch your children grow. But, what should the 3rd point be of this little essay? Hmmm..let me think. Ah! I have it; When they begin to leave “the nest”.

We are going to assume you are a part of your child’s life in today’s topic, therefore they should be spending enough time with you for you to have a huge impact on their lives. For many, most the time spent will be in the earlier years, but for some families (such as mine) we have chosen to home-school. This means I spend a lot of time with my two boys. They see how I act. Whether or not I am lazy. How I respond to both the mundane and during a crisis. Watching me, they learn a lot. This can have both a positive and negative impact on how they proceed through their own day. Because I am not perfect, and they live with me, they have seen both the best and worst of who I can be. I would say my saving grace is; I keep trying. If there is one thing I hope to leave as my legacy as they observe and learn from me as an example, it will be “Never give up and always love others”. Hopefully, it won’t be “Cry and kick doors in frustration while screaming”.

 

Oh, the joy of watching your child go from wobbly headed newborn to inquisitive crawler…only to have you dropping them off their first day of Kindergarten. Wait?! Where did the time go?? Now they are doing high school curriculum, my daughter is working at the hospital, and my youngest has started looking like a..man? What…the..heck?! The parental pride and joy I feel as I get to watch my children grow into young men and woman is nearly always accompanied by missing being able to hold them in my arms and smell that perfect little spot on the top of their sweet little heads. That time is forever gone, but seeing them continue to care about others and take a sincere interest in being helpful to others really does help me through those bittersweet moments. Yeah, watching them grow definitely has it’s pros and cons, doesn’t it?

 

So, I’ve reached the point where one has already left the nest. I miss her every single day. It’s been a few years already and I feel quite blessed that I almost always see her each week. She comes over to eat lunch with me, lounge on my bed, raid the cupboards, and tell me the trials and joys of her “adulting”. Both my boys are even reaching a point where, though they still live at home, they don’t need me quite as much. This has given me some opportunities I did not have when they were younger and I had to constantly be on my toes just to keep them out of the oatmeal, which was on the top shelf of the pantry. You know, the one just inches below the bloody roof? Not being needed so much by your children as they become more independent can be both a thrill of parental excitement and pride, but leave one without direction. What do I do now with my life? Well, I suppose this blog might be part of the answer.

While I know this topic was not quite what my reader was looking for, if you read between the lines, you will get a lot of hints of how it is going with our family. Everyone is growing up! It has forced me to look into other areas of my life to find what will bring me joy in my older years. I will never stop being their parent and I will always provide the best example I can, or at least take responsibility when I mess up. I will always be there for them, even when they leave “the nest”. That’s the beauty of it all. The beast is I am coming to a new path in my life, but that has it’s own sort of beauty as well.

When You Need More

I’ve reached that point in my life where I am feeling a “hole” in my life. My 2 boys rarely need my direct help with their schooling. Mostly reminders and consequences of being responsible. While my niece is soon to return to my educational care in about a week, that too is something that I handle with ease.

Kids and Greg at Turkey Creek 2016

Niece, hubby, eldest boy, youngest boy

However, it is those very children that promted me to seek my next step forward in my own life. I am going back to school this fall. My area of study? Communication Sciences & Disorders. I’ve been toying with this in my personal fantasies for such a long time, but never felt I was in a place where I could properly dedicate myself to ensure I did well and could turn it into a successful and meaningful career. In short, I could not afford to waste time and money on it.

Now, I did not suddenly come into riches, so money is still an issue, but I went ahead and took that step and re-applied to the college I attended back in young adult-hood. I actually have quite a few credits and it should only take about a year before I am able to move on from my AA to my Bachelor’s degree. Once I knew what classes I should sign up for this fall, I applied for FASFA online. I am awaiting the results to see what I will receive to help me achieve my goals. Fingers crossed!

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I have several reasons for pursuing my career. The first being; I have had a passion for helping children and families achieve their very best. I narrowed it down to the field I have due to speech challenges being rather common in my family. I had it to a small degree, my eldest son (my youngest as well, but he was a “sympathetic speaker” and was actually just mimicking his older brother for awhile), and my niece. My niece is 10 years old and her challenges are far more severe than mine or my own children have ever been. She can not really even read, write, or verbally communicate too well.

The second reason I am pursuing my career is to be able to earn a high enough income that would allow my husband to pursue his passion. He is very good at computer repair, building, solving program challenges, and most other things in running a computer. He would love to have his own business in doing this, but having a steady income insures we can pay the bills. I want to earn enough that this will not be a worry and he could put his time and energy into that dream.

Fooling aorund in BBB

Hubby, myself, and our daughter

After all, there is no reason I can not help the members of my family, earn a great income, and encouraging my husband to pursue his dreams as well.

Teaching High School: Week 1

July 2014 sprint phone 092

I started teaching High School to two teens this week. I was so worried it would be very challenging and overwhelming. Perhaps I should have had more confidence considering I’ve done this for four years and I have prior teaching experience with younger children. Still, this was High School I kept telling myself!

As we close up our first week, I’ve already had the Friday meeting with my nephew. I asked him what he thought about this year’s curriculum. He told me he found it much more interesting. he also informed me he was looking forward to French next week!

I decided I would share with you not only his Argumentative paper, but my son’s. They chose two completely difference topics. I’m very proud of both of them. My nephew’s was a very challenging topic for a 15 year old to take on. Not because of his writing skills, which are actually quite good, but in how to word what can usually be a sensitive topic for many. Religion and politics are both such sensitive topics and he chose religion. I admit, it would have been much easier for both of us if he had chosen a topic like my son did. Still, I feel he did very good for his first attempt at an Argumentative paper. Please keep in mind I do not share my nephew’s paper to try and convince anyone what to believe. I am sharing it to show his work. If you comment, please keep them professional and focused on the actual writing style and ability. So, without further ado, here are the two papers.

Putting the “Team” in “Team Fortress 2”
By <Name removed for privacy of a minor>
August 1, 2014

I play quite a few games. My favorite game is “Team Fortress 2”. In this game I have to work with others on my team in order to successfully achieve the current objective. It is also extremely important that team members interact in a positive manner in order to win the match. “Team Fortress 2” can provide a way to learn teamwork skills and mutual respect for others.

One time I was on a team who went off to do their own things. They did not work together at all. The other team however, did not have such a problem. Despite the fact that I warned my team that there was a sentry gun ahead of us, they would rush in blindly and get mowed down. This experience taught me that good communication is quite important.

Many times, I would plan ahead with one or more friends. Usually we easily defeat the opposition and win the round. An example of this is I would choose demoman (demolitions) and my friend would be a spy. I would distract the enemy while he or she would sneak up behind them and backstab them. Also, when we find our path blocked by a sentry gun, my friend would disguise himself as a member of the enemy team, walk in, and sap a disable the sentry gun. Then, I would come around the corner and blow up the sentry and the engineer who built it.

One person I’ve known for years is Lion of Sparta. Lion is a great player, able to sneak up on someone as a spy without getting caught. He can also pull off headshots without missing as a sniper. However, his true merit is that he is a good team player. He listens to whatever other players ask of him, be it to switch to another class so they could play as that class or to protect a specific area against the enemy. Lion is one of the best people I’ve ever played with. Not just because of his skill, but also because he goes out of his way to help his team.

Team Fortress 2 can teach you how to work as a team and have a mutual respect for one another. This applies to real life as well as in a game. Working together as a team and respecting each other will help you achieve your objective, such as constructing a building such as a hotel. If people didn’t work together, they couldn’t accomplish much. How could we have built the Statue of Liberty if the workers went off and did their own things and didn’t respect each other? It is through teamwork that some of mankind’s greatest feats have been accomplished.

It Had to be Jesus
By <Name removed to protect the privacy of a minor>
August 1, 2014

The evidence of sin is all around us. Yet we continue to sin. We can sin due to Ignorance and denial of consequences. Because of this, God needed a way to provide humanity with a way to avoid eternal death. There was only one way. We needed Jesus, the only perfect sacrifice, to be willing to die for us so that God’s justice was satisfied.

We mentioned the ignorance of God’s will as a reason some people sin. Not knowing what God wants from you can easily be leading you to make choices that can harm not only you and others, but your relationship with God. Being ignorant will not save you from eternal death any more then you not knowing your car breaks went bad will prevent you from being in an accident. Ignorance of God’s will is dangerous and can prevent us from realizing our divine potential. Lack of knowledge is not the only reason we needed the sacrifice of Jesus.

Sometimes we sin even after knowing it is against God’s will. We think that somehow, the consequences will not apply to us. This can be similar to ignorance, but denial of the effects of our actions reveals a lack of understanding faith in God’s plan. Learning God’s will and trusting in it can go a long way in helping repair our personal relationship with our father in heaven, but only if we recognize that Jesus provided salvation when he died on the cross. So, why did it have to be Jesus?

Why did he die for us? He died because Jesus and God love all of us the same. Jesus was nailed to the cross, suffered every sickness, and was beaten. He was the only perfect man to ever walk the earth. God himself had to give up his only son so we may be forgiven and have the power to follow in Jesus’s footsteps. There could be no other sacrifice. There is only one, and he served us. So the least we can do is trust in him and strive to be like him.

The only way God’s justice could be satisfied was to sacrifice the only perfect man, Jesus. Not only that, but Jesus had to be willing to die. Ignorance and denial of God’s will, results in eternal death. We must not only accept what Jesus did for us, we also must follow his example. Trusting in Jesus is the only way we can repair our relationship with God, and return to heaven.