Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween Coloring Pages to Honor the Spirit of This Scary Festival

Halloween is a holiday celebrated every year on the night of 31st October, the day before Western Christian feast of All Hallows. Halloween can also be known by its different names such as hallowe'en, Samhain, All Hallow's Eve, Summer's End, Lamswool, Witches Night and Snap-Apple. Originated in Ireland, the festival is greatly celebrated in some other countries including USA, Canada, Japan, UK, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland itself. It is a belief that the main reason behind celebrating All Hallow's Eve is to honor the dead.
Typical Halloween activities include costume parties, ghost tours, trick - or - treating, lighting bonfires, visiting haunted houses, apple bobbing, playing pranks, reading scary stories and watching scary movies. Earlier turnip was traditionally used as a symbol of Halloween to remember the souls but later pumpkin gain popularity due to its availability in the universe.
There are several activities for children associated with the Halloween festival. One such activity is Trick - or - Treat in which children in Halloween costumes of ghost, witches, devils or monsters visit houses asking for treats of candies, money etc. or a trick to perform mischief on the housemates if they do not give them a treat. Other activities such as apple bobbing, walnut shells are also enjoyed by the children. Addition to this, children do Halloween coloring which is a fun activity for all age kids. Halloween coloring pages is a good craft activity which is so simple to color that kids love to do and that can be hung all over to decorate the house for the Halloween party. These Halloween coloring pages have the scary sketches of ghosts, skeleton, monsters, goblins, pumpkin and witches which entertain kids. There are also available Halloween printable coloring pages that let children to take the printouts of the coloring pictures and use their creativity and imagination to color those beautiful pictures. There are times when the printer does not work properly or it might have lost all its ink at the same time kids are demanding of Halloween printable coloring pages, in that case there is a great collection of Halloween online coloring pages which allows children to color cool pictures of ghost or haunted house online. They just have to click on their favorite Halloween picture and once the page has loaded, pick the color from the palette and click on the picture to color it in.
The people of Ireland brought the tradition of carving the turnip on the occasion of Halloween but later on they discovered that it was easier to carve a pumpkin because of its extra large size. However, along with other coloring pictures, pumpkin coloring pages in a variety of pumpkin shapes and sizes are available for kids that can either be printed or colored online.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Homeschoolers and College Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment (attending community college while still in high school) has become a very popular trend among many homeschool students. After all, the chance to reduce college costs is pretty attractive! There are some great benefits to this choice, but I've found that many parents are unaware of the potential pitfalls when their 16 or 17 year-old student participates in classes designed for older adults.
Our sons attended community college when they were 16 and 17, and one of the most surprising things we experienced was the abundance of pornography. There was pornographic material for sale in the student bookstore right next to the engineering books (because presumably engineers are males). One parent told me that her daughter signed up for an English class, and one of the pieces required for reading was pornographic in nature.
During one of our son's foreign language classes, they showed movies of unclothed people, in order to "experience the French culture". In their speech class, the class and the teacher were great, but another student in class gave a speech that was pornographic in nature. My children were trying hard to act cool, but as a parent, I was pretty mortified that I put them into that situation.
At a college fair I went to, a representative from one community college took me aside and told me to give a message to homeschoolers, that their children are sitting next to adjudicated adults - people who have just been released from prison and registered sex offenders. Community college is an adult environment. There is no way that adjudicated adults can be refused admission.
We were also astounded by the vulgar language. One of the calculus teachers would drop the F-bomb when he spoke all the time. I think he was trying to be cool and trying to fit in with the group. It's important to note that not all teachers do all of these things; we just found these to be true.
Community college is similar to a public high school atmosphere without the moderation that comes from being with other children. At community college you will see people smoking without being concerned that they're smoking, people swearing, etc. They bring this content into the classroom because they're all primarily grown adults; it's not a children's environment.
Students who are perfectionists tend to have more difficulty in community college. This is not an academic problem, because they can get an A with little effort. The problem comes when students transition from community college to a university. When they go on to university, all of the sudden much more effort is required to earn an A. When they realize they didn't get A's because they were a genius, depression can be the result.
Carefully weigh the pros and cons before you enroll your student in this environment; the costs just may not be worth it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Emergency Course Descriptions for Anxious Homeschool Parents

Some homeschool parents are really organized; they keep up with their high school course descriptions each year, so that when senior year arrives, they're ready to pop their student's comprehensive records into the mail with all those college applications, and sit back and wait for the scholarships to roll in. Then there's the typical homeschool parent, who just never seemed to get around to starting on those course descriptions...
If you find yourself sliding into that second category, now is the time to get caught up! Set aside just one weekend and you can pull together a pretty good comprehensive record in time for college application deadlines. Although this marathon approach is not the recommended way, here are a few helpful tips when you find yourself in a pinch and need course descriptions right away.
During this marathon weekend, take your transcript and expand it with as many details as you can from your memory, using any records you have, and adding as many details as you can. Even if you haven't kept records, you have kept some things. Perhaps you have receipts from your purchases which you can go through, and come up with as many details as possible of what you purchased.
If you keep a high school planning guide, which reflects each class your child takes each year, that will be a big help. If you start with the current year, that's usually the easiest to remember, and will encourage you to keep at it, all the way back to your child's freshman year.
There will be little things that you'll forget by doing it this way, because there is a lot to remember, but if you start with the current year, you'll remember that you did World History, which will probably prompt you to remember that you did American History last year, etc. List each curriculum or experience for each class on the planning guide, which is like a worksheet to help you fill out as many details as possible.
If you are completely unprepared for course descriptions and have no records of previous coursework, start by putting together a list of the classes you remember your student took. After you have that list, modify it into sentences, and if you can, change your sentences into paragraphs.
This is like having your child brainstorm ideas for an essay; take the list and just add some words in-between. Start with a writing prompt like "In this class, the student will utilize Saxon Algebra 1 practicing with 26 tests and 13 quizzes." Basically, just take what you've written in your list and write it into a whole sentence.
Cutting and pasting descriptions that others have already written will be a big help too. If your child is in a classroom situation, such as a co-op or an online course, you can use the description of that course in your own write-up. Do a Google search of the curriculum used, and edit it to reflect your student's experience.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Advantages of Education Games Used in a Home School Environment

The operations manual for the most important piece of equipment imaginable - the brain. There are resources and materials which can assist a child to access and apply their brains' immense powers. Parents can learn with their to assemble and paint their own planetarium model, highlight it to create the glow effect and charge it with any light source. Can you navigate a ball through a mind-bending obstacle course as quickly as you can? LET A CHILD SHOW YOU HOW!
*Teachers and Parents can easily access the Sentence Building and Farmyard Dominoes that teach spelling and counting. Cubes printed with numbers are an interactive and visual way to get to grips with mathematics. This hands-on manipulative kit can be used to teach a range of maths concepts to all ages. The Pizza Fraction Action Snap is a fantastic learning tool where teachers and parents can guide youngsters to experience learning with little formal teaching. These resources are invaluable as they are designed to encourage natural interaction, which gives the child a feeling of great satisfaction.
*Learning Physics with children can be quite exciting: The Sphere is an expanding and contracting ball. It cleverly combines mathematics and geometry to create a surprising motion that fascinates children and adults alike. Can you imagine how a toy such as this could lead to an interest in physics at University level?
*The British Isles jigsaw will test the memory of parents and teachers and enhance the visual and physical skills of young learners. Geography has never been easier. This jigsaw is multifaceted. Youngsters in a short time learn to connect shapes which are linked to counties, towns, rivers and other physical aspects of the United Kingdom. This style of learning lays down strong cognitive schemas which enlarges children's memory processes.
All the resources are easily accessible, very inexpensive and dispatched to reach the recipient within 24 hours. All the material is accessible for all children at all levels of learning from toddlers pre-school, through kindergarten, 3, 5 and 6 year olds, up to high school. Even parents will enjoy the vast array of educational toys and games that are available for their children.
The equipment encompasses primary learning, active, outdoor and intelligent learning. Many teachers such as those involved with International Baccalaureate schools, independent primary schools and nurseries find these games to be invaluable. So whether children are being educated at home or school is immaterial, the resources are excellent.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to Plan Successful Homeschool Field Trips

Field trips allow children of all grade levels to get away from the classroom to learn in more exciting environments. Public and private schools plan a few trips throughout the year to supplement classroom lessons, but you have an advantage as a homeschooling family. You can plan more field trips throughout the year and tailor them to the interests and struggles of your child.
If your child struggles to understand a lesson, a field trip may provide a fresh perspective that helps them understand certain concepts. If your child has a passion for a particular subject, regular field trips will help them explore that subject in new ways. These trips allow children to escape the daily routine and venture nut into the world, but they also give you fresh ideas for lesson plans, experiments, and classroom projects.
These trips are essential to the learning process, but they are also a lot of fun. It is one thing to read a book or do a project on a small scale at home. It is another thing entirely to see what those books are talking about in the real world and see those projects at work on a larger scale.
Trip Selection and Planning
Every trip you take should correlate to a lesson you are currently teaching. Research all cities within a reasonable distance from your home and make a list of all museums, state and national parks, aquariums, and galleries that may apply to your child's studies now or in the future. As you develop new lesson plans for your child, add to this list.
Once you find a field trip idea that you want to pursue, the planning process begins:
1. Plan lessons to be covered prior to the trip. This will introduce your child to basic information they need to fully comprehend what they see on the field trip.
2. Plan an activity to be completed during the field trip or generate a list of questions for your child to answer during the trip. This keeps your child focused on what you want them to learn.
3. Plan follow-up lessons to recap everything your child has learned in the classroom and on the trip.
Keep It Simple
Field trips do not have to be elaborate outings. A hike through a national forest and a picnic is one simple idea that can coordinate with a variety of lessons for all age groups if properly planned.
For instance, it may be important to select the most appropriate entrance into the national forest. There may be a reception center, museum, educational trail, or another feature only found at one area of the forest. It may also be important to visit at a particular time of year to coordinate with particular lessons.
Avoid cramming too much activity into one outing. It is better for your child to fully explore one location than to briefly visit three or four locations. Create activities that make the trip more entertaining. For instance, your child may go on a scavenger hunt when you visit a museum. You may have to visit the museum ahead of time, but you can make a list of items to be found in the museum and allow your child to check off the list during the field trip. Your follow-up lesson may hit on the importance of each item on the list.
Share Your Ideas... and Win!
Share your most successful homeschool field trips for a chance to win an Amazon gift card. You receive one entry into the gift card contest just for sharing the details of a field trip you have planned for your child. Share up to four pictures of your field trip and you will earn one additional contest entry per picture.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homeschooling and Socialization

Homeschooling, in spite of its growing popularity and acceptance, is still facing some issues. Some of those issues are quite valid, while some are not, and there are also others that are quite debatable. One of those lingering issues is about the supposedly negative effects that homeschooling has on the social skills of children who are educated through this system.
The issue of socialization is a very serious one, considering the importance of proper development of social skills in any individual's life. And when a whole educational system is being questioned about its alleged or supposed negative effects about socializing, it has to be considered very seriously. It is also important to note that this belief has been made and supported by professional educators. However, if it is analyzed any further, it would be proven to be something that's entirely untrue.
What has served as the basis of the belief that homeschooling affects the development of social skills is that those who say so feel that school is the sole place where kids have any chance of learning and developing social skills. To a certain extent, school does help in the much needed development of social skills, but kids who are home-schooled also have opportunities that are not really available to kids who go to a regular school.
Since their time is, shall we way a little more "flexible", home-schooled kids have more opportunities to travel and visit places such as museums, parks, beaches, and even shows. And they are able to do this when it is not too crowded, with just the right chance to socialize and learn about the place and the other people visiting it as well. It has also been shown that home-schooled kids are also active in different sports, are seriously taking up art, acting, music, dance, and many other kinds of classes.
For the parents who are really concerned about socializing but would like their kids to go through a homeschooling program, there are some things that can be done. Some of these things that they or their home-schooled children could do are the following:
  • It would help to seek out others who are also into homeschooling and make friends with them. With the kind of technology we have today, this is pretty easy. Or, you could opt to go the old route and try to meet them in public places such as libraries.

  • There are also groups that you can join, groups such as 4 - H. It is a youth development organization that kids can join and then make choices about the clubs within the organization that specifically cater to his or her interests.

  • Joining and participating in local sports programs and tournaments in your community is an excellent way of being exposed to other people and also developing one's social skills. And of course, there are several other activities that allow kids to meet others who are like them - with their likes and interests - than sports.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Structure the School Year

Now that you have begun your homeschooling schedule, there are various questions that trouble you. Should you study continuously, take a number of short breaks or a long vacation? What about public holidays? When should you take a break?
The answer to these questions and many more like these are actually quite simple: Do whatever suits you best. This is one of the appealing benefits of homeschooling. You do not have a set pattern to follow. You do not HAVE to take that autumn break, or close shop for a prolonged summer vacation. Flexibility is the key here. For some practiced unschoolers, even a definite curriculum is not necessary because lessons are a part of their day- to-day life. But this may not be the case with beginners. Beginners may need to chart out their activities to fall into a pattern.
Before you plan the structure of your classes, consider some of the most important issues. What method of homeschooling will you be following, what is your teaching style and your child's learning style, what are the work and play schedules, what are your vacation plans. Some families plan small 1-week vacations at different times of the year. Other families prefer to go away for a month or more. Consult with the members of your family, and chart out a holiday schedule that most suits you.
There are some positive benefits in following the traditional summer vacation schedule. Firstly, your children can benefit from the various summer activities, camps and classes. Your child's schedule will coincide with that of his school-going friends. A summer job may be possible. A longish summer break also means that both parents as well as children get a break from their daily lessons. This could also be a major drawback, as it is sometimes difficult to get back on track once the classes resume.
On the other hand, there are some advantages to taking numerous small breaks in the course of a year. Firstly, children do not get bored since they get time to explore other interests. You can cover more topics in the extra time that you save. You can also take family trips and vacations during the less popular periods of travel. This means lesser crowd and better prices. But beware if your child becomes restless when other children are enjoying their long summer vacations.
As far as homeschooling is concerned, you and your family are the people in charge. Taking care of the individual needs of the child is the primary focus of this system. So, tailor the school year to suit your child's needs. Periodic evaluation is a must. Set some realistic goals and see if you are able to achieve these goals. Most importantly, avoid burnout - both in yourself and your children.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Checking Out the So-Called Disadvantages of Home Schooling

Home schooling is more acceptable today than ever before. You can even go on to say that it is now in vogue and that more and more parents are willing to try it on their children. And this trend will probably not change anytime soon and will only continue until it becomes at par with the more traditional methods of educating children.
There are several reasons for this increased acceptance of home schooling, not the least of which are the benefits that it brings. Evidence has shown that those who undergo it usually perform better when taking standardized tests than their counterparts who were not schooled at home. That alone is a very good reason to favor this right there, and yet there are also the other reasons such as a child getting the kind of education that fits his abilities and personality better, among others.
Enough about the benefits of this, as there have already been plenty of discussion about that. What about its opposite, how about the so-called disadvantages of this? It is probably also worth looking at it, so that people can compare the pros and cons of this, which would allow them to make better decisions about whether to home school their kids or not.
Home Schooling Disadvantages
Even as we have noted the positive things about it, it is also important that we check out its perceived disadvantages. The following are some examples of those:
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage seen by critics of this is the limitations that are naturally set when it comes to the social exposure and interaction by the children who are under this educational system. And indeed this is a very valid point that needs to be looked at very seriously, since social exposure is one of the main benefits of going to school in the traditional manner, apart from the academic ones. While there might be some groups that help in addressing this by scheduling field trips and such, still that would hardly be enough to compensate for what is lost.
There are also some concerns about the supposed narrowness of the academic focus of it's curriculums. Now there is also some truth to this since the parents could either select from existing home school programs or they could choose to use the curriculum that has been adopted by the local school district. The said narrowness of the curriculum becomes compounded by the fact that it is taught by just one parent, thereby limiting the views and ideas that are passed on to the child, as this situation is seen to likely affect the way the child learns.
Opportunities that are always open to those who study in the usual way are also not open to those who are engaged in home schooling. This lack in the number of opportunities can be attributed to the limitations placed on the information that could reach a parent who is looking for advantages situations for his child - like financial assistance, scholarships, and the like.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Teaching Kids Creativity Through Science

Creativity is a subjective thing, usually considered an inherent trait and one most often associated with "soft" school subjects such as music and art class. You either have creativity or you don't, right? But is that really true? Can kids in particular be taught how to be more creative and can that happen in science class? I happen to think so and here's why.
Rote Learning Stifles Creativity
In the public school environment, creative answers and solutions are often not appreciated. And it's no wonder with all the red tape and national requirements that teachers face these days. They are more worried about getting their kids to pass standards tests than encouraging them to think about new ways to approach old problems. Fortunately, as a homeschool teacher, you can get past those barriers to creativity.
The biggest obstacle to promoting creativity in the classroom is rote learning - asking your kids to simply memorize facts out of context. There's nothing creative about that type of learning and it can actually be detrimental in the way it discourages kids from thinking outside the box or making decisions on their own.
Let's look at an example. If you are teaching astronomy this semester, you might be studying the planets in our solar system which, of course, revolve around our sun. That's a fact - but a pretty boring one. Your kids might be memorizing the names and orders of all those planets, again a fact but not one that gets kids excited. And learning those random facts doesn't result in good retention because they aren't associated with things within the child's environment.
Exploration Promotes Creativity
No matter what subject you are teaching in the home classroom, it can involve creative learning if you help them explore new knowledge while allowing mistakes to be made. Kids are much more likely to become creative when presented with "what if" questions without obvious answers.
In the above example about teaching astronomy, an easy way to get creative is to ask students to create a model of the solar system while talking about color choices based on what each planet's atmosphere is like. While you're at it, have your kids explore why or why not human beings might be able to one day live on other planets. Ask them about the elements necessary to support life and discuss which planets are most likely to contain those elements. There was a recent scientific discovery of a new planet in the Alpha Centauri system closes to our own which is very similar in size to Earth. Exploring science news such as this opens the door to creative exploration.
When it comes to teaching science, experimentation should be a major aspect of the curriculum. And there are few things better at promoting creativity than the ability to form hypotheses and then perform experiments to find out whether they are supported or found false. The less knowledge a child has at his disposal, the more likely those hypotheses are to be outlandish, but that's okay. He can hone his knowledge based on facts about the natural world as he progresses through the basics of science. Thus, making mistakes is itself an integral part of creativity because it leads to exploration of how to get it right next time.
Giving kids the answers to every problem and asking them to memorize those facts is one way to teach science, but a more effective way that also promotes creativity is by allowing them to explore knowledge. Help them get excited about the wonders of the natural world and they are sure to think of all sorts of fantastic new ideas. Creativity can be taught as long as the homeschool classroom encourages it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

3 Reasons to Choose Home Schooling Over Traditional Schooling

Reasons to choose home schooling over traditional schooling may vary from family to family. The three reasons presented in this article concern: (1) design of instruction, (2) small class size, and (3) utilization of resources.
Design of Instruction
"Curricula became as creative as parents chose to be, with choices ranging from printed materials to computer-generated programs, libraries/museums, field trips, resource facilities, networking opportunities, and public school resources (Hanna, 1996). Those who choose homeschooling today have many more choices available" (Hanna, 2012, 613). Parents administering a home school education are free to design the instruction of their students based on their preset objectives and budgets. The limitations of each home school project can be limited only by the time the planner spends on researching the state, its guidelines, its resources and other available resources in material and personnel.
Class size
Homeschooling class sizes can be limited to the students in one family or the class size can involve students from many families. In the latter case, the educational experiences that involve other families and larger sizes can be supplemented by individualized instruction from the educator inside the home. When researching material and instruction providers, also check on options for lesson credits to be recorded, transferred, and managed. Does the provider offer the option to purchase materials without the company's record keeping, instruction online or distant learning packages?
Utilization of family resources
Parents may choose homeschooling for their students to utilize the talents of a parent with educator skills that prefers to telecommute even as a volunteer teacher or learning coach. One income families may find that schooling for their students can be done more economically in the home. Parents with research and planning skills may also find becoming home educators to use of that resource. The lack of available funds for the homeschooling project does not have to be a reason to abandon the idea. The most important of the family's resources is its students. Each student should be considered individually to determine is homeschooling will be more beneficial than a traditional schooling experience.
The three reasons presented in this article should be the beginning of the quest to determine if homeschooling is right for the students in any given family. If the opportunity to make decisions about the instruction, class size and utilization of resources is not enough reasons to use homeschooling for the benefit of the students in your care, add more reasons to your research. Consider this article your beginning, not your ending.