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To Assess or Not

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Spring is finally here and that means we as home school parents in Ohio must have some type of academic evaluation done for each of our children if we are going to continue to homeschool for next year.

“Should  I have my student assessed or should I have them take a standardized test ?” is a question I hear quite often from home school mothers. There are many advantages to a portfolio review (also known as a narrative assessment). Here are some reasons to consider:

  • This is a terrific way of reflecting on all the work you and your student did over the course of the academic year. It causes you to evaluate your curriculum and your schedule and decide what worked well and what needs to be changed for the upcoming year.
  • It is a marvelous option for younger and older students alike. Younger students may not be reading at an independent level that is required for testing, while older students just don’t want to take one-more-test!
  • Alternate studies You may have used a curriculum that would not be covered on the standardized test such as in the area of history. You may have used a curriculum that concentrated upon ancient history instead of doing American history like all the rest of the children on your block. That is the beauty of homeschooling!
  • Your child is an individual. Nationally normed tests do not allow for any differences. Questions may be interpreted differently by your child and because they did not what was being asked they get it wrong. It’s difficult to watch a student ask you about a test question and knowing you could clarify their misinterpretation of it, but not being allowed to do so under the testing conditions. 
  • Feedback from a certified teacher Test results only confirm what you know are strengths and weaknesses of your student. You might have a question or concern about your child. Narrative assessments can provide you with an opportunity to ask me, a certified teacher, for ideas and resources to help your student. I can also provide encouragement with areas of strength and progress your child has made. We can also discuss areas where we see your student will want to pursue for the coming year. 

If you are a resident of Ohio this fulfills the requirement in order to continue to school your children for the upcoming year.

I believe in you and your role as a teacher. I  believe in homeschooling and the opportunities we each have to teach our children according to their unique ability and gifting. Please contact me if you are in need of a teacher to review your student’s work. 

Have a great week! ~Lisa~

5 Tips on Beginning School

apples-3616102__480It seems like summer has flown by (again!) and I like to start out the year with a few tips that I liked to do with my children.

  1. Begin the day with something fun. How about a fun read-aloud or a favorite breakfast? Not sure what books would be good? Here are some titles to consider: Swiss Family Robinson; The Great Brain; The Secret Garden; Caddie Woodlawn; Little House in the Big Woods; Miracles on Maple Hill are all books that the family will enjoy.
  2. Let your children know what you expect of them. I thought it was important to come to class dressed (no pajamas). This may not be the case in your house, so do not mention it if does not apply. We also discussed the importance of a good attitude and completing assignments cheerfully and on time.
  3. Get out the school supplies and let your son/ daughter label and organize their things. Let them choose what color notebooks they want for math, science, history, reading, etc. They can decorate their binders or notebooks too.
  4. Start out with a few subjects and gradually add more as the week progresses. We always had reading and math each day and started the year off with these. I would include a fun outdoor activity that was science related (a nature hunt or examining something such as a plant) and would try to end the day with a game of some sort for PE such as bike riding or swimming.
  5. Celebrate the first week of completing school with a favorite movie and some popcorn or go out for a treat.

Have a great year!  ~Lisa~

 

 

 

Fun Summer Outdoor Ideas

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Summer is here and that means more free time for your children. How can you help them find more constructive things to do than sit in the house and play video games? How about trying some of the following ideas?

Bike, scooter riding– You can also tackle safety topics and have this crossed off your list for school should you need to teach this. (In Ohio it is a requirement.)

Water activities– Water table, running through a sprinkler, squirt guns, water balloons, are all fun ways to be active AND cool.

Sidewalk activities– Hopscotch, sidewalk chalk, sidewalk paint, drawing a “road” with chalk for the children to drive their bikes and scooters along will keep the children busy.

Reading books– How about putting out a blanket under a tree and providing ice cold water and some fruit to nibble on while enjoying a book? Do you have a porch? What about letting your youngster set up a “library” there? With a medium-sized plastic bin, a pencil, and some index cards for customers to check out a book,  your daughter/son can act as a librarian and have family and friends check out books. The books don’t have to leave your house unless you want them to do so.

Picnic lunch– My mom would pack us a lunch, put it in a brown paper bag, and send us outside to eat at the outdoor table. I enjoyed doing that since I felt like I was on an adventure. You make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish.

Make a fort- This can be indoors or outdoors. With a couple of sheets for the shelter and a few old pillows to sit upon, your son will have a blast! Your daughter might decide to decorate the inside of it and never want to come out. 🙂

Enjoy your day!  ~Lisa~

 

 

 

 

Nature journals

Living here in Ohio is wonderful because we have four seasons and we can take advantage of the days by observing how plants, animals, and weather changes as the seasons pass. I think it is important for children to be outside as often as possible, for as long as possible.

One idea for your children to do something outside is to keep a nature journal. These journals are a way to not only observe, but also to write, take notes, draw, and respond to the world around them.  This can be done seasonally, weather permitting. I found some great resources to help you get started with this and explain it in more detail.

Keeping a Nature Journal, Clare Walker LeslieScreen Shot 2018-05-28 at 5.32.50 PM

Here is a blog post that describes what a nature journal is and how-to steps by Rhythms of Play

If you don’t have the time or inclination to make a journal, you can also purchase one. This is a nice journal to get you started. My Nature Journal: A Personal Nature Guide for Young People, Adrienne Olmstead

Nature journals can be for ALL ages, including you! You think you’d like to try it? Here are some ideas and tips that will come in handy! click here

One thing you will need in addition to a journal and items to sketch with and perhaps color are some pocket guides to have on hand or take along if you go somewhere. I have a variety of them ranging from wildflowers to rocks and minerals to animal tracks. In this electronic age, you can even get Ipod/smart phone apps such as bird or leaf identification. I love it! When I went out west my husband I took ibird with us and were able to identify scrub jays and ospreys. There were some small birds we were unsure of so we played the call of a warbler and you should have seen all the birds come near the feeder where we were for a closer look to see what strange bird was making that sound!

Here are some various paperback guides that are compact and lightweight. Golden Guides are easy and will help you get started with nature journaling. I only listed a few since there are many to choose from and it will depend upon what you want to study.

Mammals

Reptiles and Amphibians

Insects

And here are resources to use when you get further along on your nature observations and identifications.

Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Comstock This book has been in use for a long time and has recently been reprinted. It has fantastic descriptions of the plants as well as observations that can be modeled for younger children by reading it aloud. This can be used independently by older students. Look at the Handbook of Nature Study blog that uses this book for its newsletters and ideas.

The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors, Ernest H. Williams- actual photographs and ecosystems where you would find them

Are your children unsure about how to draw something? Here are some books that will help get you started.

I Can Draw Animals, Ray Gibson (for beginning artists)

I Can Draw Animals, Tony Tallarico (for experienced artists)

Enjoy the nice days and feel to post a journal entry of what your naturalists (and you) chose to draw and study.