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Ideas for Teaching Subjects for Homeschool

Teaching subjects can get to be a bit overwhelming. So, how do you teach all of them? Where do you find the time? When students are just beginning school and in the primary grades remember attention spans are short, so teaching a lesson needs to be short too. Take small breaks and return to subjects if necessary. For example, 15 minutes of explaining and showing examples, 15- 30 minutes of practicing/ doing what has been taught.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to be concentrating on teaching elementary students.  I don’t want these posts to be too long so I will be talking about a few subjects each week. I can see just concentrating upon just one subject at a time, but I’ll save that for a later date. So many years of teaching, so little time to explain. lol  If you have an older student, I promise to address teaching junior high and high school students in future posts; please stay tuned. 🙂

Language Arts

Reading- I believe that teaching a child to read is the single most topic she needs in order to succeed in life. As far as language arts is concerned, my concentration would be to only teach reading in Kindergarten and 1st grade until your daughter is reading fluently. Incorporating spelling, grammar and handwriting can be done informally through writing the alphabet, her name,  street address, creating homemade cards, writing simple stories, etc. If you are interested in teaching these with a formal program, this can be added to your studies once reading is progressing well.

Spelling and grammar- The best way to teach spelling and grammar is by incorporating these into reading and writing. Practice writing the words you are teaching your son to read. If he is able, he can write simple sentences and perhaps a story using these words, which will reinforce what he is learning.

Handwriting- While many schools are opting not to teach cursive, I have read studies that say this is good for your brain since both hemispheres are involved in the process. It also requires less of the pencil to be taken off of the paper and nearly all letters are made in a forward fashion. I think teaching handwriting formally with a program is important since you want your son to be able to not only write it (neatly lol), but also to be able to read it. I am encountering junior high students who can no longer read cursive. I wish I had the time to instruct them so that they can read old documents, communicate with others who use cursive, etc. Don’t you want your student to have every means of communication available to him? Copying passages of favorite literature or poetry or writing out spelling words or science terms is an easy way to incorporate this into your lessons.

Social Studies (Geography, History)

Geography- While teaching young students geography and history can be taught by learning your address, what state and country you live in. When reading a book that has a specific setting, have your daughter investigate where that is located. Have you used Google Maps or Google Earth? These are fantastic apps to see the world and where we fit into it. Do you have relatives that live out of state? Use google to show her where this is in relation to your home and to the world. Still using the app, you can pick a destination such as the Statue of Liberty and take a virtual tour. I think it’s a pretty cool way to teach geography.

History- With young students, I like to begin teaching history that is relevant to them. For instance, create a personal timeline with your son. Choose events such as his birth and things that are memorable to him (learning to ride a bike, losing a tooth, the birth of a sibling, etc.) Creating a family tree gives meaning to history as well. This can involve interviewing grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc., which can be a lot of fun.  Once the concept of things occurring in the past has been established, history takes on a bit more meaning since much of it is about people. Field trips are a fun way to teach history. You can go to a local history or museum and discuss what you see and the time period in which it occurred. Dressing up in period clothing like we did when we studied Ohio presidents, and reading a famous speech or reading a short biography such as the series of books by David Adler brings history to life. (Click on the book for the link.)

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Homeschool Subjects to Teach

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Reading, writing, arithmetic are the core topics for your school, but what do you need to teach besides these three? The best place to check would be your state’s homeschool laws because when you notify the school officials most states require specific topics to be studied. If you are teaching here in Ohio these are the topics that are required:

(a) language, reading, spelling, and writing;

(b) geography, history of the United States and Ohio; and national, state, and local government;

(c) mathematics;

(d) science;

(e) health;

(f) physical education;

(g) fine arts, including music; and

(h) first aid, safety, and fire prevention.

It looks like a long list and you may be wondering how to cover all of them. This week I will concentrate on these subjects and how to schedule them. The good news is you do not need to teach every subject every day. Of course, the 3 R’s, as they are frequently referred to (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic), need to be taught daily due to the amount of information that is taught and learned.

Social Studies, Science  If you have purchased a textbook and it is for an entire school year, then you will need to teach each of these subjects daily. But, if you have not and you have junior high or younger students, Social Studies and Science can be covered by dividing them throughout the week. For instance, you can teach Social Studies on Monday and Wednesday and teach Science on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, or vice versa depending upon your curricula or topics you are studying for the year.

Health, Physical Education These subjects can be taught once a week and can actually be incorporated together since many times when you are discussing health topics you include physical education.

Fine Arts This too can be taught once a week.

First Aid, Safety, and Fire Prevention The first two topics can be taught in conjunction with Health and Physical Education since you discuss injury prevention and naturally teach first aid as you care for scrapes and bruises. Fire Prevention needs to only be taught a few weeks for the entire school year and reviewed as necessary.

These are only recommendations and you can teach subjects as you like since there is nothing stated by law on how many days you teach or how much time you spend on each one. However, keep in mind that you are preparing your son or daughter to one day leave your home and be able to support themselves. Lay a strong, solid educational foundation for your student. The world job market is highly competitive and employers are looking for well-educated people to work for them. You are the perfect teacher to equip your scholar to succeed. 🙂

Looking ahead: Next week I will give you some ideas on how to teach each of these subjects. The following week I will discuss teaching high school subjects. 

 

 

 

Illness: How to Keep Going

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I have had one of those lingering colds where you just can’t seem to find the energy to do even the simplest of tasks. Teaching, doing lesson plans, cleaning the house and going grocery shopping seem like insurmountable tasks. I need a backup plan to get through this time. I am sure you have been there too. One piece of advice that I would like to give to you is to plan ahead in the event that you might not feel well sometime during the school year. So, while I am less foggy-headed, I thought I’d write some ideas that you can use if you find yourself under the weather.

Math

Here are some websites for math worksheets that will help your student stay on track and review concepts.

Homeschool Math

Math Drills

Soft School 

Looking for educational videos? Here are a few that I think your children will like.

Brain Pop It has some free videos and quizzes on a variety of topics for your daughter to take after she watches them. You can assign one or more depending upon your need. If you enjoy what is offered, you can sign up for a year’s subscription.

Social Studies

Liberty’s Kids are great for American history that I think your son will enjoy. They are well animated and would be great to use.

Ducksters has a variety of articles and games that are interesting that include topics of geography, science, and history.

Board and Card Games can also be educational as they teach children to do some of the following: Read and follow directions, strategize (checkers, chess, tic-tac-toe, Sorry, Monopoly), count money (Life, Monopoly), and add (Yahtzee, card games).

Educational Online Games

Sheppard Software would be a way of reviewing all sorts of topics.

 

Stay well!

~Lisa

 

 

 

 

Starting School

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When thinking about the first week of school, consider easing into routines and subjects. Sometimes setting a new routine can be one of the most difficult things to do after you have had a break from school.

Consider starting school midweek. As far as setting a routine for school, I always began school on Wednesday.  That way we had three days of school instead of a full week. It was an easier transition for the children AND for me.  We could get used to the routine in a more gentle way than hitting the school year full force.

Get a good night’s sleep. The day will be much better if you allow time for everyone (including you, Teacher) to get a full night’s rest. Going on little sleep makes it difficult to concentrate and focus. I know from personal experience! 🙂

Start every day at the same time. Whether you plan on starting at 8:00 or 9:00 (or later), have everyone ready to begin school and stay consistent. The first week may be begun an hour later since you are easing into things, but I actually found that when I did that, my sons were not happy with me when they had to get up early the following week. Instead, I shortened the day that we finished school, and I made sure that emphasized that. lol

Eat breakfast. For years I would skip breakfast and then have to listen to my stomach gurgle, keep my mind on my work,  while always wishing it was lunchtime. That was not that smart and now I have my husband to thank because every morning he makes us a delicious, nutritious smoothie that he either puts on my desk or hands to me as I am flying out the door to teach. Breakfast breaks your fast and sets you on the road to teaching and learning.

Go over your schedule. I think it is good to preview the day with your daughter or son, even if you just say, “This morning we are going to be learning our numbers and practicing our ABC’s.”  Your child knows what is going to be happening and you have said it, providing some accountability to yourself as well.

Begin with a few subjects. As far as subjects are concerned for the first week, I just concentrated upon reading and math. I found a good read aloud book to begin our day. With everyone beginning the school day on a pleasant note, we then went into math. Reviewing formerly learned concepts and providing successful experiences will set a positive tone for the year.

Celebrate the beginning of your new school year. You can end the day with a fun activity, a special dinner, or a board game your son or daughter likes to play.  Relax before going to bed so that you are ready to begin again.

You are a remarkable teacher and mother. You are going to have a great year!

~Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning Your School Schedule

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Books: check!

Planner: check!

Calendar: check!

Something to write with: check!

You are off to a great start. Now, it’s time to begin planning your school schedule. Without warning, you come to a sudden and violent screeching halt. Your brain turns into a blob and no thoughts of how to even begin this process are coming to you. Does this sound familiar? Well, don’t worry, this post is to help you overcome being stuck and getting you back on the right track. I will give you some ideas on how I organize my week and please take what you can use and use it for your own schooling situation.

Look at your calendar Check to see when you are going to start and when you are going to finish. Ohio schools are in session for 180 days, so this will help to keep that in mind when you are planning.  A rule of thumb for many homeschool families is to generally follow the local school district’s calendar, but you are not required to do that. Consider times you will want to off time for holidays such as Thanksgiving, or anything that you know is going to happen that you will not be schooling, such as the arrival of a baby. 🙂

Take a big task and break it up into smaller tasks. My suggestion is that once you have looked at your academic calendar and have the beginning and ending dates set, that you only plan for a week or two at a time and write it in pencil. Plans change, and the unexpected happens. Great opportunities arise, or your student buzzes through one topic and gets stuck in another area, someone gets sick,  and you need to rearrange things, that’s OKAY! If you have only have one or two weeks planned you can rearrange your schedule easily.

Look at your curriculum Perusing through one subject at a time, how many chapters, units, pages, are there for your child to complete the subject being studied? For the sake of keeping this simple, let’s say the math book has 360 pages, 2 pages of work will be completed each day to finish the book. (360 pages divided by 180 days). Do that for all your subjects and write each of those subjects in your planner.

Plan for co-ops and extra-curricular activities. If you know you are going to be gone to a co-op all day and no one is going to do any work before or after, don’t plan anything academic for that day.  You can plan a four day school week, just keep in mind your student will need to double up on the work somewhere. So, instead of 2 pages of math per day, you add 2.5 pages on lighter school days.

Plan your time Consider what time you are going to begin your day and approximately how long it will take you to finish. At the beginning of the year things move slowly because everything is new.  But, as you get into the routine and repeat topics and routines, the time will decrease. The alphabet song that took 10 minutes to sing?  Later it will only take 2 minutes as your daughter learns the letters.

Okay, that’s enough planning for today! Take a break and enjoy the fact that you have just completed planning your school week. Way to go!