Posted in Schooling

Kindle Books For Homeschool


I wrote a post awhile back in which I mentioned Project Gutenberg. If you still haven’t heard of it, please click on the link and take a look.

This blog I found today is a GREAT resource for books that we can use right from our Kindle, Kindle App or other app that will open Kindle downloads.

I have, in the past, downloaded some great free resources from Amazon, but this blog post really lays things out so that you can get the most out of them. Everything is categorized with even the free ones listed as such.

Just take a look below if you’re interested. I know I found some great resources and I hope you do too!

By the way, if you have anything to add to the list or have another site that you glean from, please leave a comment to let us know where.

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As high school approaches, Ben’s reading list is growing and changing. So many of the books I want him to read can be found cheap or free on Kindle. And we love our Kindles! No more packing a huge backpack every time we travel or buying one more book case because we’ve filled all that we …

Source: 170+ Classic Books on Kindle for Homeschool Education (history, geography, science) – Ben and Me

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Posted in Schooling

Sometimes, Homeschool Is Hard


There are days when homeschooling a teenage girl can be really rough.

On BOTH of us!

Some days are great. We get up on time, get right into the day and sail smoothly through the days lessons and sometimes even get in a bit more than we were bargaining for.

We don’t ever have to worry about snow days or weather delays  and we don’t take trivial days off for “professional development”…and since we don’t have those, we can actually finish the school year a little earlier than public school.

Those days are great. But they aren’t all like that.

Some days, one or both of us feel like crap. You know, girls get that way more often than guys anyway <wink wink>. And on those days, we just can’t help it. Things aren’t going to go well but we have to trudge through anyway.

Some days I feel like a complete loser, like nothing I do or say comes out right and there’s always the looming question, “Was this really the right decision for her?”

I know that it was, deep in my heart, and even at the suggestion of her therapist, so really, it IS the best decision.

Then there are days when she has a worse day than me. Maybe she failed a test or a quiz, or maybe she didn’t understand the information being taught. And she’s so hard on herself. There have been tears…on both sides.

It’s on those days that she gets really upset that I wish I could just let her see herself through my eyes, just one time, for just a few minutes. On those days, I wish I could link her heart to mine and feel it break for her the way it does when she’s sad. On those days, I wish I could scoop her into my arms like I did when she was so young and just make it all better.

But I can’t. No matter how much I wish and hope, I know I can’t.

But I tell her anyway. I try to give her the guidance that she needs to see that it isn’t as bad as it feels in the moment.

But…

I remember being 15. I remember being harder on myself than anyone else ever could. I remember the expectations I had of myself, even though I didn’t think I could live up to them.

Oh how I remember.

And I try to let that be a guide for me in talking to her. But then…I didn’t listen to my mother at that age either. I wish I had, it would have saved me so much heartache.

Hind sight IS 20/20, after all, right? That’s where all those songs come into play that have lyrics like, “If I’d only known then what I know now…”

Man, it stinks to know what they’re going through all the while knowing that nothing you say will really stick until later in life.

But maybe that’s why we say it anyway. Because someday, it hopefully will stick. Maybe someday it will come in handy. It sure is better than not saying anything at all.

And so, we keep going, day after day. She SO smart, and I know that she will finish her high school years with top grades.

I know, because I did, and she’s waaaaay smarter than I was. She doesn’t know it yet, but she is, and she will know it one day. She’s modest to the point that, maybe to her, it would seem arrogant to believe in her worth. But, until she’s able to, I’m going to believe in her enough for the both of us.

She’s the gift that God gave to me and I pray that I can do half the job, just HALF THE JOB, that I want to do in my heart.

Still…sometimes homeschool is hard on both of us.

Posted in Schooling

Time4Learning Online Curriculum: A Review


Today, I’m going to give a review of the online curriculum that we use for homeschooling: Time4Learning. We are using the high school curriculum, but curricula are available from Kindergarten through 12th grades.

I did a great deal of research before deciding to use Time4Learning. A friend of mine had recently chosen it for her daughter, who is also in the 9th grade, so I had an idea about it before I began my research. But, as with all other things I research, I simply had to do all of the digging I could to make sure there wasn’t something better out there for our own personal situation. And overall, so far as my research could find, there isn’t a better one than Time4Learning.

The first thing to keep in mind with Time4Learning is that it is an on-line curriculum only, not an actual online school. Whether or not that curriculum meets the state standards in your home state is up to you to find out. You are considered the teacher of record and it is up to you to grade assignments that are not calculated through the curriculum itself, like writing exercises and so forth. It is also up to you to keep accurate academic and attendance records as well, as per your state requirements.

One of the main reasons I chose Time4Learning was the ability to pay monthly. With their low rates – $19.95 for PreK through 8th and $30 for high school – there just wasn’t a better option. There are some schools online that are “the whole package”, meaning they are an actual school, they will grade all the assignments, keep track of attendance, and transfer credits if need be. However, these schools have to have the full tuition up front, or payment schedules with approved credit and so forth. Just not the kind of hassle I wanted to go through to get this all set up.

And besides, what if it didn’t work for us? Our daughter is a right-brain learner, which means she’s a very visual learner, and without anything up front from these other schools, I didn’t want to take that kind of chance and be out all that money. Because we’re talking thousands of dollars per year.

With Time4Learning, you actually get the opportunity to see demos of every single class that they offer before paying a single dime. This was another major thing that helped me make my decision. We really liked the way the classes were laid out and how the quizzes were given and it helped us make a truly informed decision. Before purchasing the curriculum, I was also able to chat live, one on one, with a representative as well as email some questions that were promptly answered by the great support staff.

Now that we have been using the curriculum and getting actual hands-on experience with it, I have an even better picture of the whole scope of the program. And here is what I’ve found.

GETTING STARTED

So, after you’ve paid for the first month, you immediately have access to a whole gamut of parent tools…

parent-tools-screen

I went through each and every one of these options with a fine tooth comb before actually setting out to create our own plan. I wanted to familiarize myself with what was available well before we actually started school. However, you don’t want to pay for your curriculum too early. Two to three days ahead will give you more than enough time to familiarize yourself with everything, it’s just that easy to navigate.

After I had found out what was relevant and what wasn’t, for instance we didn’t need a spelling list, I went on to create a student planner. I absolutely LOVE this aspect. You choose which classes you want and then you can enter a starting date and a finishing date, as well as any breaks you plan to take through the school year, and the program sorts every single lesson into weekly assignments. All you have left to do at that point is to select which activities you will do daily.

Here is an example from our Government class. You can see that this week’s lessons are laid out, all I have to do is choose which day I want to assign each item, which I do with the drop down menu, and then you can check it off as done. There is also a place to the side for notes, though I haven’t utilized that very much, personally.

activity-planner-breakdown

This is a great way to see if you’ve missed anything. We have actually had missing assignments and can go back to see, at a glance, what they are so that we can get them done and get back to the normal routine.

MAKING PROGRESS

After a few days, you will want to take a look at your report screen. This tool is incredibly valuable to me as I can quickly see every assignment my daughter has completed, as well as quiz scores, and I input that information into my personal grade book. There are also reports for duration, which tells you the time the student has spent on each assignment, and attendance, which basically just tells you when they signed in and out.

Here’s what the report screen looks like. Notice the drop down menu on the left – that is where you choose which report you’d like, and then it offers other drop down menus based on your selection.

report-screen

I will say here that you do have to be careful with the attendance report. It isn’t always accurate. I’m not sure why, and I haven’t really inquired as such, I just make sure my records are accurate and up to date. So I don’t really rely on this aspect of the program anyway.

Another aspect I’ve come to enjoy is the fact that there are separate logins for both parent and student. The student screens allow them to choose which classes they want to work on and then, once they select the class, all the assignments are in order. So even if they want to work on their own, any time of the day, they can simply log in and go to work.

student-screen

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On the left hand side, the “Portfolio” option gives them the chance to quickly view what they have done for the day, week or month, and what scores they have. The writer is where essay type questions are answered and turned in for you to grade. I admit, it does take some hands on experience to get the feel for that, as a parent/teacher, but it comes fairly quickly. And finally, the toolkit has a plethora of great resources for each class listed.

toolkit-algebratoolkit-biologytoolkit-civics

As I said, there are tools for every single class so this list goes on and on. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about this little gem until weeks into the program, which is why I wanted to include it here. If you choose to go with Time4Learning, make sure you check these out! 🙂

IN CLOSING

I have had a few minor quirks with this system that I wanted to make mention of before closing out. The first is that every now and again, the system will freeze on my daughter’s student pages. For instance, she can be in the middle of a lesson, clicking from activity to activity and it will freeze and completely stop. She has to exit that page entirely and start over from the login page. It does get frustrating, but it’s nothing that has caused more than a couple of minutes of down time.

Another thing is that there have been a handful of times that quizzes will ask questions that haven’t even been covered yet. We have ran across this perhaps 4 or 5 times in over a month of lessons. That is really frustrating because it often makes for a missed question when in fact, the information hasn’t actually been taught. This was a big problem in algebra on a particular problem concerning fractions. It also happened in a biology lesson when referring to a graph that had absolutely nothing to do with the question asked. Again, frustrating, but not a major deal-breaker in the larger scheme of things.

There might be some instances in which your student may not understand the information as it is taught in the video. We have also had this happen, and my daughter being the perfectionist she is, gets incredibly frustrated with this. In these situations, we always use outside resources and tutoring sites that go really in depth on the subject matter that she didn’t get a good grasp on through Time4Learning. Of course, this isn’t a fault of the program, just a particular learning style of my daughter. It doesn’t happen often, as Time4Learning does a great job in this area, but I thought I’d make note of it, just in case.

CONCLUSION

Overall, and considering all the factors involved, I would definitely recommend Time4Learning to anyone looking for a curriculum for their high school aged child. And while I haven’t had any experience with other grade levels, I’m sure they are just as good.

The content is engaging, easy to understand and laid out in a way that makes the child want to learn. It’s not just a boring informational site, this program aims to make learning fun. Furthermore, it gives opportunities during each lesson to find out if the information is actually being understood. If not, they go back over snippets of the lesson in a different way.

We are very happy with the program and look forward to finishing this year off with great grades!

*****As a member of Time4Learning, I have been asked to review their online education program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. Write your own curriculum review or learn how to use their curriculum for homeschool, after school study or summer learning.

Posted in Schooling

Math, Historically Speaking…


I’ve been searching high and low for ways to teach my daughter math. She is, as I was at her age, behind in math. In speaking with a great many acquaintances of mine, I find that it’s a common thing for children to struggle with math, and so I’ve really been doing my own homework about it all.

I absolutely love Project Gutenberg. For those of you who may not already be familiar with it, it’s a site devoted to making available every book that has a public domain status. If you are a lover of books, and more specifically, of old, old books, then you absolutely HAVE to check out this site. You surely won’t regret it.

Anyway, I love it for so many reasons! I use to teach my daughter from spelling and history books I got from the site and the teaching styles are SO different and make SO much more sense than what we have today that it’s absolutely astounding. To teach from a book rated for a fifth grader in the late 1800’s was about the same as teaching something in high school these days. And let’s not even talk about the spelling words! That’s crazy stuff, but you’ll just have to check it out for yourself as opposed to taking my word for it.

I finally decided to turn to Project Gutenberg after being disappointed by so many of today’s theories for teaching math. I wanted to see how they taught math a hundred years ago, and MAN was I surprised! We’re doing it all wrong, folks!

I realized the difference right away when I saw that yesteryear’s math books were more words and instruction than numbers and figures and so on. Apparently, there is a psychology to math, one that today is not even figured into teaching math. In an hour’s worth of reading, I now understand more about math than I have in my whole lifetime, even with all the tutoring I took both as a child and as an adult in college math classes.

Why did they stop doing this? I don’t have the answer for that, but whoever came up with the idea of forsaking the psychology of math for this common core crap should be reprimanded in the highest fashion.

And did you know that there is an “addition table” just like there is a “multiplication table”? Well, I surely didn’t, until tonight. Apparently it’s something that is only taught in business math, but I am of the opinion that it would greatly help children today. Anything that boosts the mental fortitude in relation to math, which in turn boosts self-esteem and therefore makes better students, is something that should be in every classroom, every time numbers are dealt with.

I may not know very much, currently, about math. But this I do know – there IS an easier way. And to teach it, I must first learn it, and that’s just what I intend to do. If what I’ve learned tonight is an indicator, then I stand to learn a great deal and so does my girl.

As always, thank you so much for stopping by. Your visit is appreciated and I do hope you’ll return again. Be blessed, my friends!

Posted in Schooling

The History of Public Education


This is something I’ve been meaning to do some research on for some time, but I just haven’t had the free time to set aside for it as of yet. The beginning of public education, it really makes me wonder. I mean, I can certainly see, when it all got started, how important it was for children to learn to read and write and so on. That’s how it all started, right? The three “R”‘s… readin’, ritin’ and rithmathic?

Yes, very funny…but still…

I know that government and civics are taught to “make better citizens”… or is it? Just this year, or was it the one past, they decided to take out the part in history books where George Washington said his trip across the Delaware was by “Divine Intervention”. Lord knows what else they’ve taken out and not made a public spectacle of.

I don’t know, I guess I just think about it because it has failed my own children so. My son, a high functioning autistic, who was allowed to misspell words, so long as they were “phonetically correct”, although I believe he would have learned, had someone taken the time to teach him. But, how can we expect most public school teachers to do something like that? They are overrun every single day with overcrowded classrooms and a list of demands from the higher up’s that dictates what they can and cannot do. OH the rounds I’ve went with special needs supervisors and principals and tutors and on and on and on.

And my daughter, who suffers from SEVERE social anxiety was labeled DEFIANT because she wouldn’t do her work. Even when her therapist and case worker came to the school and were present at meetings I asked for, they only responded that they were following protocol. Well, I could easily turn that into a rant, but I’ll not, for now.

Anyway, please enjoy this read, as I did. It contains some information I was unaware of, which only leads the way for more questions…we may have a topic miniseries on our hands here, lol.

As always, thanks for stopping by and do share your thoughts in the comments. Any other good reads like this out there? I’ll be researching myself later, as I said, but right now with homeschool and writing and music and all the house stuff that’s always on the list, I’m just strapped for time 🙂

Source: The History of Public Education – Practical Homeschooling Magazine

AD NOTICE: PLEASE READ!!


I have known since starting a WordPress blog that there would be ads here, since I’m not yet a paid member. But up until today, I was unaware what types of ads that they placed.

So let me just say this: I DO NOT ENDORSE ANY POLITICAL CANDIDATE. Furthermore, I cannot say that I can, do or would endorse ANY AD you may see on this site. I do not put ads on here myself, it is at the sole discretion of WordPress, as I am not yet a paying member.

Hopefully after the first of 2017, I will be making some major changes to my blog here and I won’t have to worry about that. When that happens, I will send out a notice at that time. So until then, if you see an ad on my blog, All Out War, please do not consider it an endorsement of any kind from me.

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day!

Posted in Schooling

Homeschool, Beans and Tomatoes


Homeschool started today and, just like most “first days”, it was pretty hectic. I had my lesson plans all together, meals were planned out as were after school activities, so overall it went pretty smooth. It’s just that getting into the groove can sometimes take a day or two.

Also this year, we’re trying out a new online curriculum and so far, we just love it! It WILL be featured in an upcoming blog, very soon, so do be on the lookout for it. I didn’t want to rush in, however, until I get the feel for it so I can be absolutely forthwith about everything. So, maybe next week? We shall see.

I’m really excited about this school year because my daughter, who was suffering from severe social anxiety and depression in public school, is actually excited about it too! And that’s a big thing for her. For any teenager with anxiety and depression really. My beautiful, talented, extremely smart daughter had pretty much given up on school and forsaken the thought that she would ever be able to get ahead. She was the brunt of many a bully’s cruel taunting and usually got off the bus in tears, or near it. We worked and worked but it seemed the harder we tried to push her forward, the more she withdrew even to the point of being labeled “defiant”, and that isn’t her at all. Not really.

Public schools are not equipped to provide any supports for students with the kinds of problems my daughter has. They made every effort in accordance with their protocol, but nothing really helped. There’s SUCH a need for some kind of revamping of the school system to accommodate these children… And that’s another blog topic for another time.

At any rate, taking the “whole picture” into consideration, my daughter’s therapist suggested homeschooling for a great many reasons. With the one on one help that she gets from me, the online lessons, online tutors, video tutorials and other resources, I think she’s REALLY going to be successful 🙂 !  And for the first time in a very long time, she was smiling while doing algebra! Even explaining the work to me as she went along, the why’s and what goes where and all that. What a breath of fresh air!

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Look at that smile!

And so ends a very refreshing day. The weather was cooler here today, just shy of 90 degrees with a breeze that was just wonderful. My bean and tomato plants are looking great, and we’ll be picking the tomatoes soon. Ah, fresh salad, I can’t wait!

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These beans were thrown out for the birds, but decided to grow instead!
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Just transplanted, so a bit weak still….

 

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Yes, bugs have been at the leaves a bit because we DO NOT  use chemicals.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by! Have a blessed day and do come back!