Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Monday, August 30, 2010

Homeschooling is a Labor of Love

Our family's decision to homeschool was made even before our children were of school age. While I knew of a few friends, and even some family members, who homeschooled their children, I knew very little about the subject. So began my search throughout the library, bookstores, and other various booksales to gather as much information as I could to see if indeed, we were being called to embark upon this homeschooling journey. It was at one such bookstore where I happened to come across a copy of The Old Schoolhouse magazine. What? A magazine for homeschoolers? And it's Christ honoring? I was sold!

As I made my way through the pages of TOS, I found myself encouraged, admonished, inspired- what other adjectives can I use? I'm telling you, this magazine has everything a busy homeschooling parent is looking for; ideas for unit studies, encouragement in light of the issues specific to these parents, recipes, so much information on the best and latest curriculum and other resources, contests, and much, much more, and the best part is, that TOS puts its focus on our homeschooling families loving and serving Christ, and teaching our children to do the same.

Without fail, I have felt my spirit lift with each new subscription that I read, and I feel a connection to the other homeschoolers who are walking the same educational path that I am. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, read on...

We know how seriously homeschooling parents take their conviction to homeschool. Our "Labor of Love" subscription sale is a celebration of the committment to homeschool, and we want you to know all about it!

The Old Schoolhouse magazine is extending an extraordinary subscription offer to homeschooling families. Receive a one-year print subscription for just $7.95 or a one-year plus current issue subscription for $12.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter issue. The one-year plus current issue starts with the fall issue. Only 5000 of these special subscriptions are available from August 31 through midnight on September 15. Once the 5000 are gone, they're gone! Hurry and grab this crazy price today!

* note* - I wrote this post with the intention of promoting The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. In return, I am receiving Fall Expo To Go for free.

Peterson Directed Handwriting

This past month, I was given a copy of the Peterson Directed Handwriting print step 1, 2, and 3, in exchange for my honest review of it. Up until learning about and using this product with my family, I had no idea how much research could go into teaching handwriting- what I assumed was a simple task. This program is not like most of the others available on the market. It goes way beyond providing pages of copywork and pencils or crayons and having the little ones trace away the day. Oh no! I have to admit though, that at first, I was skeptical.Why would going through all of these extra steps produce better results than the handwriting curriculum I had previously used? Well, let me tell you...

Peterson Directed Handwriting includes 4 objectives:

1.) Internalizing the sequence of movements for handwriting

2.) Learning to write smoothly

3.) Improve control

4.) Improve fluency

As I mentioned before, I was skeptical at first, and reluctant to put down my tracing pencil and try this method. Then, I checked out their website explaining the science of handwriting, not to mention all of the research that went into the planning of this program. I would encourage everyone to take a look at it too, before you make up your mind.

Moving on now, the main goal here is to produce within your child's writing, smooth, rhythmic movement. You are to begin this process by first "illustrating and describing" as the instructions put it. Print step 1 - and the others too- include color coded pages to demonstrate where to begin, and in what order the writing strokes should be made. So, you begin at the starting dot, and as you make the movement with your finger, you also say out loud the movement. For example, if I was teaching how to write number 5, I would say, "small down, roll around, slide" as I followed the lines with my finger.

The next step is air-writing. I think that is pretty self explanatory. Then comes finger tracing, and only after all of that does the child move on to actually writing the letter itself. You probably understand by now that this resource is more time consuming than a lot of the others out there, and it is. However, if the goal is to provide a strong foundation for the many years of writing ahead, then you may find it is well worth the effort.

I was convinced enough after viewing all of their information on the why's and how's to jump right in with my own daughters. How did it go? Well, quite honestly, I've had mixed results. We all know that kids are not cookie cutters, and what works for one may not for the other, etc... I tried it first with my youngest, who has just started kindergarten. She has been the most receptive of the two, mostly, I think, because she has had really no other instruction. I'm not discounting how her personality factors in to the equation though, because she is more physical and chatty, and therefore took to the verbal part of it all, and the air-writing,fairly enthusiastically. In fact, she really enjoyed the chanting aspect of the instruction, and it did seem to help her internalize what she needed to do when she actually began writing the letters and numbers.

My eldest daughter, on the other hand, was a little more challenged by this new method. Having learned how to write in what is probably the most traditional form, she repeatedly told me that she already new how to write, so why did she need to learn everything again? Well, I did not give up, and she has warmed up to it a little bit. We've used various silly voices as we say the directions out loud together, as well as air-write not only with our fingers, but our feet, noses, elbows, you get it, right? Initially, she wasn't thrilled about the out loud chanting of the instructions either. She tends to be a bit self conscious, but as long as I say it with her, most of the time she's receptive. Really, I think it's good for her to relearn some of this anyway. I appreciate the attention to detail as far as things like the paper position and pencil grip. They're just good exercises in the discipline.

My family has only worked with the print step 1, 2, and 3, but there are other resources available from this company to use in conjunction wh the program. These include pencil grips, sticky backed paper positioning guides and animated letter cards. You can check the website for the various prices.

What really impressed me as I went about learning how to implement these, was the excellent customer service. I cannot say enough good things about Rand Nelson, who created the program, and his willingness to do everything in his power to make this product work for you. He and his team are very accomodating to whatever your particular needs may be. In fact, when you first get on their website, you'll see that there are live meetings available pretty much whenever you need them. They want you to use their product, but more importantly, they want you to succeed in your teaching.

I've been back and forth as we've used this product, but overall, I like it and would recommend it, although I would say that I think it might be best for those children who have had no prior instruction in handwriting. Then you may save yourself the trouble of forgetting old ways of instruction, and learning the new ones. At the very least, I would advise anyone who is looking for a program like this to stop and take a look at Peterson's material, their research, and sit in on a web meeting. It's well worth the time.

Peterson Directed Handwriting

Print Step 1, Print Step 2, Print Step 3 - $19.95 each

Phone: 724.837.4900

Fax: 724.836.4110

315 S. Maple Ave.

Greensburg, PA 15601

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Join the Schoolhouse Expo!

It's back to homeschool time and registration is open for the online Schoolhouse Expo, October 4-8. It's 5 days of top homeschool speakers,fellowship, and fun door prizes.

Save $5 per ticket! Register between August 16 and midnight August 22, and you'll pay only $19.99. Plus you'll receive over $200 in free E-Books.

You'll be inspired by speakers including: Zan Tyler, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, Carol Barnier, Diana Waring, Todd Wilson, Davis Carman, Kim Kautzer, Lee Binz, and many more!

A special teen track is planned--the entire family will definitely want to listen to these special sessions. We've also planned a special focus on a topic that touches every homeschool--writing.Plus, an array of other topics that will inform and inspire you throughout your homeschooling years.

Don't forget, MP3 copies of each session comes with your live event ticket.

Two special preconference shows on August 24 and September 21 with Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, and Kim Kautzer!

Register starting 12:01 a.m. on Monday, August 16.

The theme this fall is "Celebrate Homeschooling!" We're going to celebrate the unique blessings of homeschooling, the beginning of another school year, our families, and the freedom to tailor our children's education to best meet their needs.

If you cannot make the Live event, then the October Expo To Go is just your ticket! You'll reserve MP3's from all of the workshops. This week only, pay just $14.95!

You can visit either of these links to get more information.


* Note - I received Expo To Go free in exchange for promoting this event.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's Here! The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner

Note: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew for the 2010-11 year, I have reviewed the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner with the intention to promote it.

It was one of those days. You know the kind I'm speaking of. From the moment you wake, you just sense a storm brewing in the day ahead. Actually, saying that I awoke suggests that I had been sleeping, when in fact, our youngest , (who, by the way, has felt from her birth that mommy never needs more than 3 hours of sleep at a time) had once again spent the night traipsing up and down the stairs between our rooms for various "emergencies"- can't sleep, a drink, bad dream, etc.. Anyway, I'd like to say that, as CeCe cheerfully bounced back into the room again at 6a.m., and my dear husband kissed me goodbye to go to work( the lucky duck), I enthusiastically greeted her, made the beds, prepared a delightful and healthy breakfast for both of my sweet angels, tidied the house, threw in a load of laundry, had a meaningful devotional time with them and then dove into an exciting day of learning- a well rounded curriculum including Spanish, history, art, math, reading, and science, with some P.E. thrown in. It's alright, I can wait until you're done laughing. I'm sure you've already figured out that my day DID NOT go that route. Here's how the morning actually played out; rewind to CeCe entering our room, AGAIN. The first thing I see as I open my very tired eyes is my youngest sweetie's smiling face, 1 inch from my nose, asking, "Are you getting up yet?" I mumble a grouchy yes, at which point the little darling launches into random conversation about, well, everything. I make the bed, make my way upstairs where I discover an accident needing cleaning up from our dog, toys strewn about the floor, and scattered bits of chewed up crayons, which aforementioned dog has enjoyed munching. Our oldest daughter sits at a table in her room, coloring. Seeing me, she offers a cheerful "hello Mommy". Walk into the kitchen, where a sinkful of dishes greet me, ( I really meant to take care of those last night). Complaints come my way fast and furious as I set the bowl of cereal ( which they could not get enough of the day before, but now sits untouched and rejected) before them. Hoping for 10 minutes of peace- and distraction- so I can get it together, I flip on the t.v. (for an educational program naturally). So begins the fight between my daughters over which show to watch. The voices get louder, mine included, my head is already pounding, and I look outside (longingly) at the passing schoolbus. Forget the kids, put me on the bus!

But then, the most wonderful thing happened. As I logged on to my computer, there it was, waiting for me, the solution to all of my homeschool challenges, hey the solution to all of my household needs! Oh joy, the new 2010 TOS Homeschool planner! It's here! It was like the heavens opened, and a great light shone into my lowly kitchen onto my computer! Can't you hear the angels singing? Alright, alright, so I'm a bit dramatic, but honestly, I did clap my hands together and squeal yaayy! I also may have jumped up and down, but anyway, let me share with you why this planner has me so excited.

Okay, so you already know that my purpose here is to plug the new 2010 Schoolhouse Planner, so it's a given that I'm going to rave about it. But seriously, it is such a wonderful tool, I promise you it lives up to the hype. Now, with over 500 pages, there simply is not nearly enough room here to share everything. Therefore, I'm picking out some of my favorites to talk about. The beginning is a good place to start, right? There are several years worth of calendars here, with ones that have year at a glance, and then broken down into weeks and days. It doesn't stop there though, because each month includes articles, recipes (including gluten free ones), organizational tips, seasonal activities, and various TOS resources.

Every family differs in the ages and stages of their children, and there are activities and information sheets to meet each specific area. If you have preschoolers, there are alphabet coloring pages, educational activities, and a place to record them. Likewise, if you have high schoolers, there are transcript pages, test score sheets, tracking logs, community service project logs, and extracurricular activities logs. For every age in between, there are bible reading schedules, journaling pages, field trip logs, report cards, progress reports, homeschool requirements for your specific state. That's a lot right there, isn't it? Let's add some more then, curriculum forms, yearly goals and planning, educational objectives - and there is so much more that hasn't been mentioned!

There are around 50 pages of miscellaneous educational info sheets for your printing pleasure. Just a few - 13 colonies, branches of the gov., cloud types, the miracles and parables of Jesus, letter writing tips, U.S. presidents, countries and capitals, various conversion charts. Do you belong to a co-op? The info and planning pages are right here. Going to several homeschool conventions? Here's a place to record all of your important stuff.

Are you sold yet? Wait there's more! (giggle) The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner has so many additional forms for ... everything! Bible memory work? Check. Library due dates list? Check. Attendance charts? It's all here. They've even included a ton of stuff for all of your home repair projects, finances, grocery planning, emergency information, and on and on. Whew!

One of the greatest aspects of this planner is that it allows the owner to customize it according to his/her specific needs. You can print the entire book out, or just those that you need. It even allows you to use it on the computer if your desire is to be paper free. As for me, I'm printing off 3 months at a time, enough for me to plan ahead a bit, plus a few of the daily/weekly schedules, the grocery and budget lists, and I've got my eye on a few of those yummy recipes for the next few weeks. I'm thinking Indonesian Pork, Peanut Butter Cookies, and Cheesy Burger Croissants!

So there you have it in a nutshell, but you really must pick one up for yourself and see why I'm so excited about the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner. The price is right, it's customizable, you simply won't find a better planner around. C'mon, get over to The Old Schoolhouse Store and get it now! Look forward to chatting again soon,

- Laurie

The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine,LLC

Price: $39.00

Phone# 1-888-718-HOME