Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Challenges of Homeschooling High School: Math


This is a part of the series I am doing on overcoming challenges in homeschooling high school.  
The purpose behind these posts is to assure people that even if they do not feel confident in homeschooling some subjects in the formative high school years, there are still options other than enrolling them in a brick and mortar school.  Of course, you can always enroll your kids part time in the local public school or you could enroll in a charter school to get extra help.  And if you can afford it, you can enroll your homeschooler in an online program.  We, cannot afford it however, so I have had to come up with other options!  And here are some of the things I have discovered.


Sorry.  I got nothing for you.  Good luck with math.

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Just kidding!  Honestly, though it can feel like math is the hardest thing to overcome for us.  I used to hate math and it wasn't until years of teaching it in the formative years that I began to see math as a puzzle.  A bit of adventure to solve.

The upper grades in math can be hard to teach if you are not very mathematical, however.  And even though I enjoy math more than I used to, I would hardly call myself qualified to teach high school mathematics.  

There are lots of programs out there and some are better than others.  It is a matter of finding what works for your student and you.  We use Saxon.  We have found that it is by far the best program and has far more resources to help you.  We have tried other programs and have always fallen behind.  Saxon is straightforward math and when we stick to it we always far exceed expectations.

One of the things that has really helped us in getting through the high school years is Khan Academy.  It is an extensive collection of videos teaching mathematical concepts.  I have heard of homeschoolers using this program solely for their students math and we did try this last year.  I think that it would only really work with someone who is very motivated and would be willing to really dedicate time to it everyday.  Since there aren't really chapters it isn't like you can easily track progress.  I created a teacher account and I can see what my students do.  But I found it hard to really track how well they were doing or how to really grade the progress.  So, if you use Khan Academy as your high school math program you and, more importantly, your student will need to be very motivated and organized.

If you do a more traditional approach to math, you can use Khan to help further explain difficult concepts.  Just search for the topic and voila!  Watch the video.  This has helped a lot over the years.

If you use Saxon, like us, I recommend the Art Reed series.  He gives the lesson for each section in the books.  There are also the DIVE cd's, but the Reed discs are cheaper and I find more thorough.  The Art Reed discs start at Saxon 8/7 and up.  You can find them on Rainbow Resource.

One more resource I want to share with you is really aimed for younger grades (K-8th) but can also be used for high schoolers for basic drills.  Sometimes we all need a little refresher for our math facts and AAA Math is a great place for this!  Just click on what you need practice on and there are little online facts drill that you can do. It will keep track of how many you got right (and wrong), so you can try and get better everyday.

Do you have any other resources you would like to share?  Please leave them in the comments!

I have received no compensations for the recommendations made in this post.  
They are solely my opinions.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Challenges of Homeschooling High School: Language Arts


This is a part of the series I am doing on overcoming challenges in homeschooling high school.  
The purpose behind these posts is to assure people that even if they do not feel confident in homeschooling some subjects in the formative high school years, there are still options other than enrolling them in a brick and mortar school.  Of course, you can always enroll your kids part time in the local public school or you could enroll in a charter school to get extra help.  And if you can afford it, you can enroll your homeschooler in an online program.  We, cannot afford it however, so I have had to come up with other options!  And here are some of the things I have discovered.

 My background is in language arts.  I have a degree in English with an emphasis in education.  My intention was to become a middle or high school English teacher, but I decided to homeschool instead!  So for me the language arts is not something I am too afraid of.

Don't get me wrong, I have questioned myself and tried many different things over the years.  But so far all my kids have always tested into college level writing before they graduated high school.

In the early years leading up to late middle school and high school, kids really just need to read good books.  They don't all have to be classics, they should really just read great books that will incite their imaginations.  There are fabulous places to find excellent booklists.  The Mother of Divine Grace, Mater Amabilis, RC History websites have fabulous lists of books for all ages.  Here in the Bonny Glen, Heart of My Home, Shower of Roses are some blogs with great reading lists, too.

When they get to high school have them read great literature that goes along with the time period they are studying for history.  You can always supplement for something else if the curriculum you are using chooses a book that your teen hates.  Also allow them to pick a piece of literature or even whatever Shakespeare play they want once in awhile.  Once they have read the book, write a paper.  It is that simple.

Wait, you are asking, what do I have them write about??

Well, if you are using a curriculum they will give you some ideas but if you are making up your own or are supplementing, I am going to give you my very favorite resource.  And best of all, it is FREE.  Y'all know I love free.

Spark Notes has almost every book you could ever imagine.  Like those yellow and black cliff notes we used to get, Spark Notes gives a synopsis of the literature piece and will give you essay questions prompts, and sample quizzes.  This is a great resource for parents, as it is hard for us to read everything that comes across our kid's desks.  This is a place where you can get the gist of the book and also give you ideas for their essays and what those essays should include.

Spark Notes can also be a great resource for your student too.  I have always made it clear to my kids that they can use Spark Notes to help them, but they are required to do the reading in the actual novel. Spark Notes is simply there to help them understand more fully what is being presented to them.  It is not cheating, so long as they actually read the text.  And as a homeschool parent, you should be able to check on this easily.  They should also jot down quotes from their text to use in their papers.

Another important resource to prepare them for college writing is Purdue's Online Writing Lab, also known as OWL.  This will help you and your student know how to format their papers.  Your student will need to know how to put quotes in their papers, how to head their papers, and how to write bibliographies.

Ok, so, I may be loosing you at this point.  It seems like a lot, but honestly the most important thing for language arts is to just read and write.  Give your student plenty of time to write good papers.  Give them a week to write their rough draft, give yourself a few days, if not a week, to grade it, and then a week for them to edit their paper.  When they turn in the final draft it should be nearly perfect.  They will have your notes and any notes from anyone else they have had edit their paper.

There are also more great resources to help with writing, but sadly are not free.  The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has great grammar and writing programs.  And something that I have been dying to try is Brave Writer.  This program spans all the ages and Julie Bogart is simply amazing!  I am playing with the idea of using her program next year.

Also, don't forget to look into your communities resources.  They will often have creative writing classes and book clubs which will also encourage your child to read and write!

Do you have any other resources you would like to share?  Please leave them in the comments!

I have received no compensations for the recommendations made in this post.  
They are solely my opinions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Knitting This and That


I thought I would join in with Nicole (Keep Calm and Craft On) and Ginny (yarn along) this week for a little knitting fun and show you what I am up to... well and not up to, too.

I love the little dress I am working on for Sofia, but it being a size 6 and fingering weight yarn, it is taking its toll on me.  I have to admit I got a little bored and knowing that I have a whole other side to make is really making me a little sad knitter.  


I figured a break might be in order and I had ordered this really lovely yarn from Knit Picks awhile back.  It is the same kind of yarn as the Fiona tunic but this time I'm making socks!  I wanted something fairly simple and I have made Hermione's Everyday Socks before.  I thought this yarn (Koi Pond) in particular would look great with this pattern.

As for reading, I am still working on The Lady of the Rivers.  I am really loving this book; this is a period in history I really enjoy.  I did a lot of research on Henry V in my school years for various reports, and such, and this takes place after his reign, with his son.  I am also motivated to get through the series as they are making another mini-series out of the books, so my goal is to get through the series before the show comes out... or at least not watch it till I have read them all!

 So, what are you all up to?  Any good books?  Knitting up a storm and putting me to shame?