Let’s Build Lifelong Learners Together
There’s a lot that goes into your child’s education and we want to help by giving you the tools you need to succeed.
Since we have a lot to talk about, we’re breaking things down and giving you all the answers in our upcoming webinar series about our Math-U-See and Spelling You See products.
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• Learn from experts and get your questions answered in real time
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• And much, much more!
How Math-U-See Will Lead Your Student to Mathematical Success
Is your student struggling with math? Join me for a brief webinar to discover 5 reasons how Math-U-See can help build mathematical confidence for your student.
WHEN: Tuesday November 5th at 11:00am Eastern
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Stewardship, 2nd Edition
After six months of writing and filming (and four months of editing and proofing), the New Edition of Stewardship has been released.
Stewardship is a personal finance curriculum taught from a biblical perspective. With Steve Demme’s signature humility, humor, and sharp math skills, practical math instruction is combined with Biblical principles of finance and discipleship material. This edition is updated with current topics relevant to young people aged 15 and older, who are beginning to explore more independent financial opportunities and responsibilities.
Watch a short video about Stewardship below.
What’s Included in Stewardship?
There are three books that comprise the written material: the Instruction Manual, Biblical Studies, and Student Workbook. The video instruction may be viewed or downloaded via the Internet.
This book is where you will find teaching, several examples of the new materials, and the answer keys for all 36 lessons. Study this book and watch the video instruction to learn the content of each lesson.
As this book was written, it was I assumed that students would have some knowledge of algebra, and would be between fifteen and seventeen years old.
This book has two sections: one on Biblical Principles to govern our treasure, and the other on Scripture Studies to instruct our heart. As stated earlier, Jesus says in Luke 12:34, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be.” Steve’s objective in pulling these studies together is to impact our heart and our treasure (money, time, gifts, talents, and energy) with the eternal Word of God.
After you’ve watched the video portion and read the Instruction Manual (along with the two Biblical Studies portions), then you are ready to begin work in the Student Workbook. Each of the 36 lessons has five worksheets per lesson, for a total of 180 student worksheets.
Each worksheet has ten questions. Questions 1-7 are taken from the math involved in personal finance, 8-9 are from the Biblical Studies, and number 10 is a discussion question to facilitate interaction between students and their parents and grandparents.
The Stewardship curriculum provides solid, practical lessons that gave my student a strong start to real-world financial decision-making. The worksheets challenged my student to think through real-life situations that she will face coming into adulthood. The Biblical Foundation and Discipleship portion frame the study and clearly show Mr. Demme’s heart for helping parents build lives of consequence. Our family highly recommends adding Stewardship to your homeschool plan! – S. Cooper
It’s Kyla from Little Footsteps Big Learning, and today I will be discussing the pros and cons of homeschooling. Before we get to this, I thought I’d give a little background on myself. I’m a mom to three boys, age 6, 5 and 2, and I’m currently homeschooling them.
I studied elementary education, and after that, I had several years of experience teaching in a variety of situations, including working at an elementary school, working with special needs kids, and teaching preschool. Preschool is kind of my main area of focus that I spent the most time in and love the most, and now I teach homeschool. My oldest son went to kindergarten in public school, and then first grade we started him in homeschool. So we’ve had a little bit of both, me from the teaching side, and him from the student side, and me also from the parent side.
This blog post was originally published as a video.
The Pros of Homeschooling
1) Being Involved With Your Kids
The top reason for me is being involved with your kids. Obviously, with homeschooling, you’re going to have them at home more, and you’re going to be more involved in their education and what they’re learning. You have a little more control over what they’re learning and just knowledge about what’s going on in the school day. I’ve appreciated being able to discuss things at the dinner table to reinforce what they’re learning. When Dad comes home, we have dinner together. I can prompt the kids to tell him about their day, and if they just say, “Uh, I don’t remember,” I remember what they learned, and I can prompt them in that.
2) Control Over Your Schedule
You get to choose their schedule if you homeschool, customize your schedule, and make it work for you. There’s a lot of flexibility in that.
3) Not Confined
With public school, you have a start time for school and an end time for school. You might have a bus coming and picking up and dropping off your child at a certain time that you need to be at the bus stop, and your whole life runs around that schedule and being there.
With homeschool, that’s usually not the case. You may have your child signed up for certain classes or activities that happen at certain times, but usually the schedule is pretty flexible.
3) Lots of Options
When I first started looking into homeschool, I didn’t realize how many options there were. I kind of thought the options were you homeschool, or you do public school or there’s other private schools and whatnot, but it’s mostly a classroom setting or a homeschool setting. And as I started looking into homeschool, I realized there are a lot of different options.
There are some state funded homeschooling programs that you can use their curriculum and teach them at home. There are online public school options, which is kind of public school, but it’s also kind of homeschool. It’s a little mix in between. You can also just buy your own curriculum, find your own curriculum that you love, and do your own thing. Lots of different options to choose from.
4) Snow Days & Sick Days
If your child is sick or if there’s too much snow outside that a public school would call a snow day, that’s not something you have to worry about really at home. You don’t have to worry about driving on the roads to get someplace because you’re already at home where you’re going to have school, and you can still do school like normal.
On sick days, those are a little more flexible depending on how sick your kid is, but you can still squeeze school in. You’re at home; maybe taking things a little bit slower, but you don’t have to worry about your kid going to school and getting other kids sick.
Instead of having snow days or sick days, where your kid is not going to school, something that’s really nice with homeschool is being able to do things like sunny days that instead of taking the day off of school when there’s snow outside, I would much rather take the day off of school when there’s sun outside, when there’s really nice weather and say, “You know what? Today we’re going take a break. We’re not going to have school today. We’re going to get outside and do something outside because the weather is so nice.”
5) Opportunities & Flexibility
I have chosen to have my kids involved in a nursing home. We get together with a group of other homeschoolers, and we go to a nursing home. We sing songs to them, and what a great way to get out and serve and to have them involved in that. We have a lot more flexibility of our time because we homeschool, to be able to pick a time that works for us, and that ends up being part of our school day once a month.
Another thing is swimming lessons. Since we’re home during the day, our hours are more flexible, and swimming lessons can be at an earlier time instead of just needing to cram everything into those after school hours. That was something that was a really hard thing for me when my son was in all day long kindergarten. He would be gone majority of the day, and then when he got home, it was rush, rush, rush from one thing to the next. If you wanted to do any extracurricular activities, it needed to happen during those times after school, between after school and bedtime, and that can make your family time really stressful. With homeschool, you have a little more flexibility in your schedule to choose to have swimming lessons earlier in the day, or some sort of extracurricular activity where it’s not taking away much family time in order to do those things.
6) Kids Learn From Each Other
At school, obviously at a public school setting or a classroom setting, but also at home, it’s really neat to see how my 2-year old picks up on the things that my 6-year old and 5-year old are learning. We’ll do calendar time right here in this space, and I involve our 2-year old. It’s really neat to hear him chanting what different letters of the alphabet and see him mimic what his older brothers are doing. Even though he’s 2 and I’m not doing any formal schooling with him, he’s learning. By time he gets to be the age of doing a little more formal schooling, I hope that he already has ingrained in him a little bit more of the schedule of things.
The Cons of Homeschooling
1) Not Feeling Prepared
The number one con that I hear people talk about when they are considering homeschool is not knowing how to start, or if they are ready.
“How am I going to know where my child needs to be at?”
“How am I going to know if I’m teaching them the right things?”
“If there are any gaps in their learning, am I leaving anything behind? How am I going to know that?”
There are definitely resources that can help you with that, but that’s definitely a con of homeschooling versus not homeschooling. It’s your responsibility to make sure they’re learning what they’re supposed to be learning.
2) The Schedule
We talked about customizing your schedule as a pro, but there’s also a con to that because you have to choose your schedule. You have to figure out what you’re doing and what’s going to work best for your family. It’s not already built in; it’s something that you have to do.
Also with that is the flexibility. I talked about that being a huge pro, but it can also be a con because, depending on your kid’s personality, too much flexibility could lead to laziness, to not getting the things done that you’re supposed to. What’s your personality like? Is flexibility going to help your kids stay on top of things, or is it going to be more damaging for you and your kids?
3) Being With Your Kids All the Time
I talked about you getting to spend a lot of time with your kids and how great that is, but that can also be a con because there are a lot of things that needs to be done in life. And doing homeschooling, I have constant responsibility over my kids, and that is great. I love spending time with them, and I love teaching them. However, it does make it a little bit difficult to schedule doctor appointments, to have just me time, getting home projects done, those other things that need to be done can be a little more tricky when your kids are with you all the time.
4) All the Options
I talked about how many options there are with homeschool and choosing different options, and that is really great if you know what you want and customizing that to your child. That can also be overwhelming because there’s too many options, and it’s so hard to know how to choose.
5) Limited Access to Teachers & Specialists
Wen you’re doing homeschooling versus something like public schooling, you do not have the access to lots of teachers and specialists that can help you out. For example, if your child has speech delays or another disability that you might not detect but a specialist at a school could detect, not only are they there to help hone in on those things, but then you also have the resources for those. And not just for things like special needs, but also having all of the classes like art and music and gym. You have teachers who have gone to school for that specific area, and they know that so well. And if you’re doing homeschool, you don’t have access to those right at your fingertips like you normally would with something like public school.
6) A Sense of Community
Something that I really loved about sending my kid to kindergarten in public school was this built-in sense of community. My child already has kids in his class that he’s getting to know, kids that he’s friends with. There are events that happen at the school. There’s the wonderful PTA that puts on events like the science fair project or talent shows or cultural events, just lots of different activities like that that are already built in.
You already have that community, and with homeschool, if you’re wanting a community like that, it’s something that you need to seek out, which is great because you can customize and know what you’re getting into and not just, “This is what’s given to me.” But you have to go to the work to go out and find it, and that can be a little bit of a challenge. There are lots of online groups that you can find in areas, but it is definitely something that you have to dig out and you have to find.
About the Author
Kyla Shurtz is a mom of 3 boys (ages 6, 5 and 2) with a baby girl on the way! She studied Elementary Education in college, taught 8 years in a variety of school settings, including public school, working with special needs children and teaching preschool. Kyla now homeschools her own children and is enjoying the adventure! She has been married to her wonderful husband for 9 years, she enjoys photography and loves the outdoors-especially hiking, camping and family bike rides. Kyla has a love of learning and a love of teaching. She is passionate about bringing encouragement and sparking ideas for other moms and teachers.
Many families who are considering homeschooling first want to look into the demographic data of homeschoolers. It is important for homeschoolers to have support and confidence in their
journey so that they can have a successful and enjoyable experience, and the good news is that the number of families engaging in home education has grown significantly in North America in the last twenty years and continues to increase.
‣ Homeschooling rates are growing at a rate of 2-8% each year.
‣ There are about 2.3 million home educated students in the United States.
‣ 3.4 million adults in the United States have been homeschooled at some point in their education.
‣ The average homeschooler educates at home for 6 to 8 years.
‣ In 2011, 91% of homeschooling
parents were concerned about the environment of other schools.
‣ Homeschooled students score 15-30% higher on average than public school students on standardized academic achievement tests.
‣ Only 83% of families continue homeschooling past their first year. However, 89% of those families continue home education for a third year and beyond.
‣ Whether or not homeschooling parents are certified teachers does not impact their children’s academic achievement.
Why People Choose to Homeschool
Some of the most common reasons for homeschooling include:
‣ Being able to provide an individualized learning experience for each child.
‣ Achieving higher academic accomplishments than traditional schools.
‣ Using alternative approaches to learning.
‣ Enhancing family relationships between parents and siblings.
‣ Fostering meaningful and healthy social interactions with peers.
‣ Providing a safer environment for their children.
‣ Teaching a particular set of values to their children.
Being the oldest of seven kids, I was reluctantly appointed the family’s official tutor from a very young age. My parents weren’t very educated and so it fell on me to help my younger brothers and sisters with their learning. So, it was no surprise to anyone that I became a math teacher.
Today, I homeschool my boys and still do some tutoring on the side. When I ask homeschooling parents why they are seeking a math tutor for their child (other than their student having a hard time with math), the number one answer I get is that they don’t understand it. This is then followed up with negative responses such as “Math was my worst subject in school” or “I just hate math!”
Now, these parents know how to add, subtract, multiply, or divide but beyond that, math is like trying to decipher hieroglyphics. So, what do homeschooling parents do when their middle schooler begins taking pre-algebra courses that go beyond their scope of mathematical knowledge? They enroll their child in online courses or they hire someone like me to tutor their child. But here is where I ask parents to reconsider their decision to do either of these methods.
Enroll in an Online Course?
First, if your child is in need of help in math, the last thing you want to do is to enroll them in an online course. Most online courses are only suitable for students who are proficient self-learners. They are for those students who can open a book, understand what they are reading, and have the ability to apply it to their studies easily.
Parents should also be aware that some online courses do not have moderators to help your child. And if they do, they are not easily available for one on one help.
Hire a Tutor?
Now, as for hiring a tutor, this is where I caution parents. Again, I say this from experience. Remember that our children learn from example and we are their number one role model. So here are the signals our children receive when parents hire a tutor because of their limited knowledge in math:
● Kids feel they are being forced to learn the kind of math that their parents obviously did not master.
● Kids feel that they don’t really need to learn that much math since their parents seem to be doing well in life without it.
● Kids come to believe that the only people who seem to need or use this type of math are math teachers (and tutors).
When you couple these messages with a parent who verbally groans and proclaims that they hate math, parents are saying to their children: “I can’t be bothered with math and so I’ll just shirk it off to someone else.” Now, I know this is not any parent’s intention but these are the cues our children receive…
Learn With Your Children
So what can we do about it as homeschoolers? We can learn with our children. We can take this second chance to finally get it right. We can show our children how important all subjects are. We can take this wonderful opportunity as a lesson in never giving up. And when we don’t have all the answers, we seek help and don’t pass the buck.
Take language arts and writing for example. What math is for most people, language arts and writing was for me. When I started homeschooling I was anxious about tackling this subject because I didn’t do so well in my writing and language art courses. I had no idea what a transitive verb is or the purpose of the indirect object.
So, to help me help my children, I bought a standard type of language art course, the kind most schools use with a textbook and workbook. As my children learned new concepts, I learned with them. As they practiced problems, I also practiced them too. Over time, I began to understand all those things I missed during my own learning as a child.
Now please don’t get me wrong when it comes to hiring a tutor or enrolling your child for online classes. There are situations when this becomes necessary. If you know that your child is a self-learner, then, by all means, enroll them in online classes. But understand that having a smart child is not a sign that they are self-learners. You really need to observe them and see how they go about solving difficult concepts when they arise.
If you work outside the home or homeschool multiple children at different grade levels, then yes, hire a tutor. And, naturally, if you are struggling yourself as you try to teach your child concepts you still find difficult, then you will definitely need a tutor. However, take the time to sit with the tutor as he/she helps your child. I am almost certain the tutor will not mind you learning with your child. I know that I don’t and, in fact, I welcome it.
About the Author
Dionne is the mother of 13-year-old twin boys and wife to a Navy sailor for over 21 years. She is a middle-school math teacher turned homeschooler since 2013. When she’s not blogging at Home Made Our Way, she enjoys audiobooks while crafting, organizing, and inventing things for her husband to put together.
When you’re first considering homeschool, whether it is your child’s first educational experience or you’re switching paths, it’s an exciting and potentially overwhelming time. So many choices! So many options! Which curriculum do I use? Wow, look at all the fun, character-building, educational activities that are available! LET’S DO ALL THE THINGS!
Whoa. Pump the brakes. Take a breath.
You will have a much more successful, much more peaceful and satisfying time if you ease into things. There is no one correct homeschool path; that’s the beauty of homeschooling. You have the opportunity to make it your – and your student’s – own unique, custom learning path. You may feel pressured or overwhelmed to make big decisions right away, before you feel fully informed or ready. Keep in mind, there are very few hard and fast deadlines once you decide to homeschool. There are no “shoulds” when it comes to where your student should start, or where they should be at a certain age. Grade levels are provided for the convenience of schools so they can place students with similarly aged peers; it can make it easier to teach a large group, but you don’t have that problem. You can start where you are, and as long as you can demonstrate progress in some way in the subjects your state requires, you will be just fine.
Talk to experienced homeschoolers. These savvy veterans can give you great advice on how to make things work from day-to-day and year-to-year. But keep in mind, your homeschool experience is just that: yours.
But not everyone has access to a community of wise, experienced homeschoolers…or do they? The internet has a plethora of resources. There are homeschool bloggers who write on all kinds of topics, and most of them keep it real. We’ve included advice for new homeschoolers from six of our personal favorites. Their blogs are great places to start whether you’re looking for practical advice, encouragement, or just to know that you’re not alone in this endeavor.
This piece was originally written for our free Homeschool 101 eBook. It’s filled with information, from the history of homeschooling to going over the different homeschooling styles.
6 Homeschool Tips
1) Research Homeschooling Before You Start
“When I first started homeschooling, I had all the answers. I had been homeschooled myself, I was going to use the same curriculum I grew up with, I had little desks and planners with carefully planned lessons months in advance…and it didn’t work! It was a disaster from the start! I wish I had known that there are different styles of homeschooling. I wish I had understood my children’s learning styles beforehand and taken the time to really figure out what curriculum would have worked based on that. And MOST of all, I wish I had known to have more realistic expectations, to use curriculum as a mere tool, not to be a slave to it! I homeschool completely differently now, we are more at peace, more flexible, and whole lot more fun! I love sharing real life, helping new homeschoolers see that they are not alone, that there is another way to homeschool, and that homeschooling doesn’t have to be mimicking a school setting.”
Homeschooling for over 5 years.
2) Your Homeschool Experience Is Your Own
“There will be multitudes of people giving advice, scores of curriculum to choose from, and various methods for doing things. At times the abundance of information (although a blessing) can get noisy and distracting. In the end, trust that if God called you to this journey, He will equip you. He will provide all that you need. Your homeschool is not intended to look like anyone else’s. God has a unique purpose and plan for your family and that is exciting! Don’t get caught up in trying to recreate what someone else is doing, but trust that the Lord is going to lead you each step of the way to develop your homeschool uniquely for your family, and ultimately to glorify Him.”
Homeschooling for over 11 years.
Simply Living for Him
3) You Don’t Have to Look Like a Public School
“Your homeschool doesn’t have to look like a public school classroom. If I could go back and do those early years over again, I’d have spent much more time reading quality books with my kids (historical fiction, captivating biographies, and both classic and modern literature) and learning through hands-on experiences (playing, field trips, nature study, etc.).
It’s important to remember that sometimes it takes awhile to find your groove. Homeschooling for the first time is like being a new parent. Everybody has an opinion, but no one is an expert on homeschooling your child. Sift through the advice and tips, take what works for you, and discard the rest. You’ll probably make mistakes or look back and wish you’d done things differently, but that’s just part of being a parent – homeschooling or otherwise. You’ve got this!”
Homeschooling for 14 years.
Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
4) Don’t Feel Pressured; Take Your Time
“It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure and advice about what you must do the moment you start homeschooling. Many parents feel like they need to run off and purchase curriculum right away and start immediately with a rigorous school schedule. Don’t do that. Give yourself some grace, give your kids some time. It’s okay to start homeschooling slowly. Bring the kids home, and take the time to read and research, play and explore the big beautiful world out there. Take time to get to know how your kids learn and how they tick. You really do have time. Take it.”
Homeschooling for over 5 years.
Only Passionate Curiosity
5) Learn to Say No When It’s Too Much
“Stretched a little thin on your time outside of the home? Feeling overwhelmed with over commitments is very common! Take a good hard look at the various co-ops, extra classes, sports, volunteering, and events you are involved in and evaluate if they are truly necessary.
We ALL need breathing room and running ourselves (and our kids) ragged is only going to burn us out in the end. You need to be the best mom (or dad) you can for your kids – and sometimes that means saying no to something that is good, but not good for you at the moment. This can be so hard, especially when there are many things that are beneficial – just maybe not in this season for you or your family.”
Homeschooling for over 11 years.
6) Be Flexible in Your Homeschooling
“Homeschooling looks different for everyone. It is unique to each family and sometimes even each child within the family. I think my best advice is to be flexible and go with what works best for your family’s needs. Don’t compare yourself to others because what works for them, probably won’t be what works best for you!”
Homeschooling for over 10 years.
Confessions of a Homeschooler
In the “olden days,” when I was homeschooling, parents had to order from catalogs or go to a homeschool convention to purchase materials. For encouragement, we depended on co-ops and support groups. Now, online ordering and social media have made homeschooling much more convenient. However, there are still some really great reasons that homeschoolers should attend their state convention or local conference!
Sections in this blog post:
• 5 Reasons to Attend a Homeschool Convention
• Tips on How to Survive a Homeschool Convention
• Homeschool Convention Packing List
• Online Homeschool Conventions
• Additional Homeschool Convention Resources
• See Demme Learning at a Homeschool Convention
Let me offer five reasons why, in my opinion, all homeschoolers should attend a homeschool convention.
1) Support Others
Think back to your early homeschooling days. You can probably identify at least one person who helped you get started, answered your questions, and encouraged you over the rough spots. The homeschooling convention provides an opportunity for you to offer that same support to others. When you’re walking the convention hall, watch for the newbie with the “deer in the headlights” look or the veteran homeschooler who droops with discouragement. You never know who you might be able to encourage!
2) Educate Yourself
Education is a constantly-changing field. As a home instructor, you owe it to yourself and your family to keep abreast of the latest developments. What new curriculum materials are available? What new ideas or techniques will help you in your teaching? Attending a homeschool convention will help you answer these questions.
3) Renew Your Vision
Why are you homeschooling? This question might take you aback for a moment, but it’s important to stop regularly and revisit why you made this important decision. The homeschooling convention can help you focus on what’s really important — the vision for what you do on a daily basis.
4) Visit the Vendors
If you’re a homeschooling veteran, you may be tempted to visit only certain vendors or bypass the exhibit hall entirely. But wait! Curriculum providers depend on customer feedback to help them determine whether they’re on the right track. If you let vendors know what you like and don’t like about their programs, the quality of homeschooling curriculum in general will improve, benefiting everyone.
5) Excel in Your Calling
If you have been called to homeschool, then you should train for your calling. The homeschooling convention provides the perfect opportunity to listen, learn, interact, and grow so that you can pursue excellence in your ministry as a homeschooling parent.
Notice that the first letters in the numbered points above spell out the word “SERVE.” A homeschool convention is an opportunity to serve — serve your family, serve other homeschoolers, and serve the vendors. Homeschooling conventions are an important resource; make sure you take advantage of the one nearest you this year.
Whether it’s your first time or your fifteenth, attending a homeschool convention can be a challenge. You can come home enriched and encouraged, or you can come home defeated and drained—physically, mentally, and financially.
The following tips are offered to help you become the victorious conqueror of the homeschool convention.
Avoid the temptation to procrastinate — start planning early!
There are several important considerations to keep in mind when deciding how you will spend your time at the convention.
Think Through Travel & Lodging
Consider both economy and convenience. It may be cheaper to stay at a friend’s house, but it may make more sense to book a hotel that’s close to the convention.
Take advantage of any “early bird” discounts, and get all the information you can about the convention ahead of time: featured speakers, workshops, vendors, map, directions, etc.
With this information in hand, you can begin planning your personal agenda.
Review the Schedule
Highlight the sessions you really want to attend. Consider alternate choices so that, if your first choice is full or turns out to be a dud, you can quickly slide into another session. Don’t feel that you need to attend a workshop every time one is offered.
If it’s a vendor workshop, you may be able to get the same information by visiting the booth in the exhibit hall.
Many conventions provide recordings of the sessions, which you can purchase for a nominal fee.
Think ahead to the exhibit hall. Be sure your personal agenda includes plenty of time for visiting the exhibit hall and for just plain resting. Homeschool conventions can be exhausting if you don’t stop to recharge your batteries.
Before You Go
Print out your registration confirmation, lodging information, directions, maps, and any other materials that you will need. See this section for a detailed list of things to consider packing.
At the Convention
Into the fray! Armed with your personal agenda, you arrive on time and find a seat in your first workshop. Not what you expected? Don’t feel obligated to stay! Either slip into your alternate selection or revise your agenda – it’s meant to be a guide, not a dictator.
Perhaps you decide to visit the exhibit hall first. Be sure to give yourself time for at least three laps around, if the venue is not too large. The first time, look over all the booths, without stopping, to get a general overview of what’s available. Then take some time to decide which booths you want to visit more extensively.
On your second trip around, stop at the booths where you would like to get more information, enter drawings, or pick up catalogs. Now plan an extensive break that will allow you to make your final purchasing decisions.
Since you have scheduled your day wisely, given yourself breaks, and kept hydrated, you will come to the end of the convention feeling tired but happy. You will have gained inspiration and a renewed focus, ready to continue leading your family in its homeschooling adventure. You — yes, you! — have survived the homeschool convention!
At the very least you’ll want to pack your bag with comfy walking shoes and a notebook or electronic device for recording information.
If the venue allows, pack your own water and food, as you will be talking a lot.
Take a large tote bag (or, better yet, a bag on wheels, if permitted by the venue) for catalogs and purchases.
The following is a list of other items you may want to include in your homeschool convention packing list:
• Shopping list
• Phone chargers
• Small first aid kit
• Activities and games for the littles
• Sweater or jacket
If attending a homeschool convention isn’t possible for you, consider an online homeschool convention. It can be more affordable (often free), and more convenient for your schedule.
NOT Back to School Summit (HECOA)
Special Needs Conference (HECOA)
There is a plethora of helpful information about homeschool conventions on the internet. Here are some resources that we’d like to share with you:
Homeschool Conferences & Events (Listed by state with an interactive map)
Homeschool Convention Survival Guide (Free eBook)
At the Demme Learning booth you can stop by for a personalized demonstration of our Math-U-See and Spelling You See products. Our knowledgeable staff is happy to answer any of your questions.
Homeschooling a child who is easily distracted can be a frustrating challenge, especially when you have other kids. Here are some ideas on how to keep that child focused on their school work so that you can have a successful homeschool day.
12 Tips for Homeschooling a Distracted Child
1) Use a Timer
Timers can be a great way to teach your child to stay focused. As long as you set a realistic amount of time for them to succeed, having that visual cue to stay on task can really help. Knowing that when the timer goes off that they can stop what they are doing often means they put effort into that time frame.
2) Do Learning One on One
If your child is highly distracted, they probably do better in a setting where they are getting sole attention instead of in group learning where it is easier for them to allow their brains (or bodies) to wander around without getting noticed. Sitting them beside you and guiding their learning experience draws their attention back to what they are supposed to be doing.
3) Use Short Lessons
The shorter, the better. Don’t expect a child who can’t stay focused to sit through a long, drawn-out lesson. Short bursts allow a child to learn fast and absorb information before they think of something else.
4) Reward Successes
If a child manages to complete a task with limited attention loss, call it a win and give them a reward for their efforts. This could be as simple as free time, a snack, computer play, or hugs and high fives. Creating a positive response for success means that they will try to replicate that feeling again on their next effort.
5) Cut Out Distractions
In a houseful of children, it can be really hard to remove noise and action and business that can be real deterrents to focusing. If you can move to a quieter area of the house to work, where there aren’t windows to stare through (close blinds or curtains) or screens to look at, or toys to play with – it can make a world of difference.
6) Take Breaks
Give them gaps to allow themselves the freedom to be distracted.
7) Use Music
Try to use music without words that has a rhythmic or calming beat. This can trigger a brain to be able to focus more clearly as it’s got something to keep it busy while the child is working on what you’ve given them to do.
8) Vary the Delivery
Doing the same thing over and over gets boring. Is there a way you can change up today’s lesson to catch your child off guard and gain their surprised attention?
9) Use Highly Visual or Interactive Learning Opportunities
Videos and computers can be really fast paced, which is exactly what children who can’t stay focused need. The constant change in picture keeps their brains stimulated and wanting to see what’s next. Another idea is to get hands-on. If a child is trying to figure something out and loves what they are exploring, they can actually hyper-focus instead of letting their brains wander.
10) Find an Area of Interest
A child who wants to learn will be much more focused than a child is doesn’t. Find something they are curious about and you will see how much better they are able to learn.
11) Avoid the Rabbit Hole
Sometimes a distracted child will just randomly start a conversation about something completely off-topic. It becomes an obsessive topic that they want to deeply discuss right then. Try to find a way to direct that conversation back to the subject at hand, or take a note down of the topic with the promise to talk about it after learning time is done.
12) Exercise Before Focusing
Studies have shown that kids who spend time doing active exercising before they need to be focused do better in school. Go for a run around the yard or up and down the stairs, use exercise equipment, or any other of your favourite morning fitness routines before you sit down to work.
It can be a real struggle to find a helpful solution. Try combining a few of these ideas for your distracted learner and see what works best for your homeschool.
About the Author
Lisa Marie Fletcher is a homeschooling mom of 5 kids ranging from preschool to high school. When she isn’t learning with her kids or pretending to clean her house, Lisa runs The Canadian Homeschooler where her mission is to help connect homeschoolers across Canada with each other and with resources to help them on their journey.
Commemorating new seasons in our life is a healthy practice, for adults and children alike. Marking time with a tradition or special memory gives us a sense of excitement and ownership over our lives.
The slight hiccup with back to school season is that it can sometimes make homeschoolers feel a little left out. There is a small, or not so small, part of us that may begin to doubt our lifestyle as we see all smiling back-to-school faces fill our Facebook and Instagram news feeds each fall. We begin to ask ourselves if our kids are missing out on something by not having the brand new lunchbox and outfit for their first day.
I propose homeschoolers take ownership over the back to school season. To do so, we must first remember that “back to school” is literally an American retail season. The stores and online ads around you are trying to create a need where there isn’t one. Instead of letting those sales for lunch boxes and backpacks sow seeds of insecurity, we can embrace this season as a time of celebration.
Let’s give our kids a tangible ways to celebrate their first day of school. I believe every homeschool family can find some type of “beginning” to celebrate, even if you’re unschoolers or school year-round. It may be the beginning of a new book, or of a new season; just find a marker in time and celebrate.
Pick one or more of the below back to homeschool traditions, or come up with your own; bend them to fit your specific family. It’s all about balance, and creating a sense of excitement in your kids. Trust me, excitement is contagious. When they are excited, you will be too.
5 Back to Homeschool Traditions
1) First Half Day!
Our first day of school is actually our first half day too! The best advice I’ve ever received from a mentor homeschool mom was to ease into my year with a few subjects at a time. If may be hard for those of you who like to check off all your boxes, but a slow start for the year is a healthy way to allow a students’ confidence to grow for each subject as it comes. We start history and science on our first week, add spelling the second week, math the third, and by the fourth week we are full steam ahead. The half day also allows us to do some of the other fun first day traditions.
2) Special Breakfast
Let’s face it, food talks. Make it a holiday for your kids with their favorite breakfast food. If I’m feeling really lazy, I just go to the store the night before and buy a box of donuts! Kids are not picky when it comes to sugary treats; they just want something out of the ordinary, anything that says “This is a special day!”
3) Treasure Hunt
A simple treasure hunt gives real joy to your morning, without derailing the schedule for the day. We have four to five simple clues, and the prizes at the end are always inexpensive and related to school. This year the prizes were erasable colored pencils and chewing gum. It is OK that the clues are easy and the hunt only takes five minutes, because the object of the game is NOT problem-solving hard riddles. The object is to start school with fun! I thought my junior high boys would have grown out of this tradition this year, but it was just as exciting as when they were in 1st grade. We have each boy take turns reading and solving a clue. Make sure you have enough clues for each of your children.
4) First Day of School Pictures
You may think your big second grader is all grown up, but years from now you will look back at and see how truly tiny they really were. Give yourself grace to be authentic. Last year my kids were freshly bathed with new clothes and a beautifully decorated chalkboard sign on their first morning of school. The next year our “first day of school” pictures took place on the fourth day of lessons at 4:30pm and I had to beg my kids to change out of pajamas! Give yourselves a break! You are the mom, the cook, the principal, security guard, and teacher. It is OK to not be the perfectly scheduled yearbook photographer. The key is documenting the beginning of something new, not how Pinterest-worthy your pictures are.
5) NOT Back to School Trip
Celebrate your freedom from the public school calendar! Take your family vacation in late August or September, instead of July. Go on a camping trip, or enjoy the quiet beach all to yourself! Go to museums during weekday daytime hours. Invite your homeschool friends to the best park in your town, on a Tuesday at 10:00am! Use this season to revel a little bit in the freedom we have as homeschoolers.
I hope any of these traditions help you begin your year with excitement!
About the Author
Robyn Joyner is a writer, photographer, and homeschool mother to twin boys. With a degree in Early Childhood, she believes learning doesn’t begin or end with school or college degrees, but is a lifelong journey. She leads the Women’s Ministry Fellowship in her church, and enjoys meal planning, spending time with her husband and children, and reading children’s literature. Robyn blogs at Leading Them to the Rock.
Many people struggle with fractions–including adults! Steve Demme uses this video workshop to help you see fractions, which is a critical step in understanding them.
He reveals unique teaching approaches that you can apply to your own homeschool program, even if you don’t consider math your favorite–or best–school subject. When you teach using Steve’s tips and methods, math will become not only understandable, but also fun for your child.
What holds children back when it comes to fractions?
The answer is a lack of true understanding and mastery. They are often encouraged to memorize just enough to complete a chapter. Then, when confronted with even simple word problems or real-life problem solving, they have to ask, “What do we do?” Not anymore. Observe Steve’s teaching methods to learn how to help your child understand fractions and other important math concepts, building knowledge he or she can use throughout home education and in the real world. Steve prioritizes thorough mastery of the subject at hand before students move on to the next topic, a technique that creates truly confident problem solvers.