Google The Unplanned Homeschooler

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to throw a homeschool Valentine's Day party

Each year one of the biggest events my homeschool group holds is our Valentine’s Day party. Parents, and even some of the kids, fondly remember Valentine’s Day parties from their days in public school and thoughts of pink frosted cupcakes, candy hearts and boxes full of valentines stoke their excitement.

From the moment our party was announced this year, families began submitting their RSVPs. Building on the success of last year's party, we're carrying over several of the favorite activites and adding a few new ones as we move to a larger space.

Here are some of the things our homeschool group has done to create successful Valentine's Day parties. I hope these tips can help you have a memorable celebration, too.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Puppy update - three weeks old today

I don't have much to say today. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

It's about 60 degrees in Oklahoma, and we're playing outside with the puppies. 

They turned 3 weeks old today. 

Blue, the lucky little Australian cattle dog, seems very content to let us love on her puppies while she enjoys some time out in the sunshine. I think she's a happy girl!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Yes, you can teach science at home

Let's talk science! I've noticed that one of the subjects parents are most nervous about teaching at home is science. Whether it is because of the equipment needed to do laboratory science or the fact that many people had limited exposure to math and science in their own education, parents are often nervous about taking on the STEM subjects on their own.

But you don't have to be afraid to tackle science. In fact, homeschooling can be an incredibly effective way to explore the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. 

Exploring, discovering, solving problems

According to Dr. Patricia Fioriello, “STEM education attempts to transform the typical teacher-centered classroom by encouraging a curriculum that is driven by problem-solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and require students to actively engage a situation in order to find its solution.”  

This type of exploratory learning is what kids do naturally when they are allowed to seek knowledge on their own.  Clearly, the engaged learning that is the goal of STEM education is possible to achieve at home, you just have to give your child access to the tools they need to learn.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Another unplanned learning adventure - PUPPIES!

When a sweet, but very timid young dog showed up at my folks' place a couple of weeks before Christmas, we didn't know what an amazing adventure would soon follow. This beautiful Australian cattle dog, or blue heeler, showed up in the field, hungry and cold but scared to approach the house. Eventually she was convinced that the people living there were kind.

Dogs are routinely taken out and dumped near rural farmhouses and on lonely country roads around here. It wasn't the first time a stray had stopped a while in the fields, but for whatever reason, it was the first time my parents decided, "This one's special."

But just days after they made their minds up that she could stay, it became very apparent that Blue was pregnant. Within another week and a half, the puppies arrived. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Creating a cozy reading space for your child

I can't really say enough about the importance of reading. There are so many benefits that kids can reap, either by reading on their own or by being read to by a parent or loved one. Not only does reading help build cognitive and communication skills, it can also increase self-esteem and creativity, according to the Family Literacy Foundation

But how can you encourage your own kids to read more, especially if reading just isn't their favorite activity? One great way is to create a cozy reading space especially for your child. Here's how to do it right.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Writing for a magazine

I'm enjoying writing for Learning Tangent magazine. I've had articles featured in the last two issues, along with an advice column for homeschoolers. I get a lot of joy out of helping others learn to homeschool happily and successfully, even as I continue learning and growing with my own kids.

Here's a link to my latest article, in the Winter 2014 edition of Learning Tangent, entitled, "Reaching out to New Homeschoolers in Love." It's all about finding ways to break down arbitrary barriers that so often prevent new homeschoolers from finding the support they need in their local communities. I tried to provide a number of ideas that groups can implement, no matter how inclusive or exclusive they want to be, in order to help new homeschoolers in their area.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the magazine. It's free to read online, and there is a photography contest for homeschoolers detailed inside. I'd also love to hear from you if you have a homeschooling question you'd like to see answered in the Unplanned Homeschooler's column in the next issue!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

To break or not to break? Deciding on a holiday schedule for your homeschool

Winter break is just around the corner for millions of public school kids. A couple of weeks off to celebrate Christmas and the new year are a welcome break around the midpoint of the school year. But for homeschoolers, the question of whether to take an extended break over the holidays really depends on individual families.

My family typically does not take an extended winter break from school, although we do take off on Thanksgiving and Christmas for sure. Winter is a great time for us to ramp up our focus on school work, since we spend most of our time indoors.

Taking weeks off at the turn of the year, just because that's what the public schools are doing, doesn't make sense for us. We don't like to lose our momentum just when things are getting good.

We also like to save our breaks for times when the weather is better and our friends are up for getting together outdoors. Living in Oklahoma, spring and fall are definitely our favorite times to take extended breaks because it's not too hot and not too cold.

But there are some great reasons to go ahead and schedule a long winter break around Christmas. Here are a few to consider.