Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Project Based Learning

Do I have a great resource for you! The Buck Institute for Education has a free online self-paced workshop on PBL. I intend to take the workshop myself this summer and incorporate what I learn into my teaching this fall. If you want to join me, I would love to begin a forum for idea sharing. Let me know and enjoy the resource!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Star Gazing

For SF Bay Area homeschoolers, here is the latest email from Pt.Reyes NPS. If you have star gazing, nature loving children then this is a good list to subscribe to. Enjoy! This summer is packed with celestial events!  Keep those annular eclipse glasses handy for the Transit of Venus on June 5th beginning around 3:05 pm PDT and lasting until 8: 24 am - the planet Venus will appear as a speck against the sun.  A partial lunar eclipse of the full moon occurs early Monday morning, June 4 in the wee hours between 4:12 and 5:06 am. Fire season has begun across the park and Marin County. Fire danger ratings are posted at park visitor centers.  Use extra precaution with fires; extinguish with plenty of water.  Check power equipment for spark arresters and inspect cars parked in dry gas areas to insure no catalytic converters come into contact with grasses. In extreme fire danger - Mount Vision Road is closed. All park visitor centers will be open on Monday, Memorial Day May 28. A special Memorial Day commemoration is scheduled for 2:00 pm on Monday at the Coast Guard/Claussen Family cemetery off Sir Francis Drake Highway.  Four surfmen are buried there and a Coast Guard honor Guard will conduct a short ceremony along with park staff.  The Historic Lifeboat Station at Chimney Rock will be open from 4-5 pm. Bear Valley Visitor Center just received the new "military" annual pass for active duty military personnel and their dependents.  The one year pass allows free entrance to national parks and is available with appropriate military identification.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Curriculum Crazy

Any veteran homeschool parent will tell you that searching for the right curriculum can drive you crazy. It might be easier for you, if you follow a particular educational philosophy, such as Montessori or Charlotte Mason, in your homeschool. But if you are like me, an eclectic homeschool teacher, you are on the dangerous road to insanity. There are hundreds of choices and countless websites devoted to helping you choose, implement, and purchase the right curriculum for your child. It can take up hours of your day and wake you up at night. What's even worse is that after spending countless hours and a hefty investment, the publisher may stop producing the curriculum. If this happens with a math curriculum, for example, you may have to reteach certain topics in order to be in sync with a new scope and sequence or different methodology. You may end up starting all over for each child, in order to teach to their unique learning style. You get the point. I do have some suggestions. For really thorough and helpful reviews, check out both Cathy Duffy's website and the Rainbow Resource online catalogue. Rainbow's prices are pretty good, and they carry almost everything you are looking for, including manipulatives and educational games. Frankly, I don't know how they do it, but I'm glad they do. Happy searching!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Should You Homeschool?

I was being interviewed on the affordability of homeschooling versus private schooling. The interviewer asked me if I would recommend homeschooling to others. I was surprised by what rolled off the tongue. "Yes," I responded, "if when summer rolls around you are happy that you will be spending your days with your children, and if you have an interest in education." I am not sure of my exact wording, but I do believe it's true.

Homeschoolers spend a lot of time with their children. A friend of mine who began homeschooling her previously schooled children said that it was like having toddlers again. You are constantly "on" for driving, feeding, answering questions, providing entertainment, and educating. At my house, it is like Grand Central Station from about 7 am until 10 or 11 pm when the teenagers finally turn out their lights. That makes for a very long day spent with your children.

Homeschoolers also spend a lot of time reading about, thinking about, and researching education. Even unschoolers, who may not use a set curriculum or "teach" their children are immersed in education. Homeschoolers talk about learning styles, multiple intelligences, curriculum, art supplies, testing, phonics, models of education, John Holt, and transcripts.

Homeschooling parents "work" at homeschooling. We research the best math curriculum, and if it doesn't work, we may try another, find a tutor, or look for a class that may have us crossing a bridge during rush hour traffic. It can be type A parenting on overdrive.

Yet, it is somehow all worth it. There is unbelievable joy in having struggled through the first 13 lessons in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and finding that you can toss the book aside after lesson 37, since your child just picked up Little House on the Prairie and is on chapter 2.

So, is homeschooling for you?

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Welcome!  In 5 years of homeschooling, I've learned a thing or two and am still learning a thing or two.  I've weeded through curriculum, have homeschooled three children (all with different temperaments and learning styles,) have transitioned one child onto high school, and have homeschooled a child with learning differences.  I have homeschooled grades K-8 in all subjects; some subjects of which I am very proficient at and some of which I have very little experience.  I have hired tutors as well as teachers for small classes, started co-op's, and taught classes myself.  It has all been a journey, and I hope to take you along with our family on a homeschool day.