Too Early for a Foreign Language?

I guess it’s never too early for a foreign language. I know that being able to speak multiple languages is incredibly beneficial in this day and age. I just struggle with when to introduce one to my 7 year old who is still trying to learn to read English, lol.

For those of you have already started teaching a foreign language to your second graders, or younger elementary aged children, how to did you approach it? I don’t know if I should go ahead and buy a full blown language program, or if I should just get some books from the library. My favorite bookstore has plenty of choices as well, including phrase books, flash cards and more.

I found a website that has some foreign language games, and game play is always readily accepted around here. That would probably be a good place to start. If I could just get him to pin down which language he wants to learn. He says wants to learn Chinese, but only because he says he would rather draw the words than write them.    :/

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Who Knew?

Neither my husband nor I are athletic types. I had asthma as a child and my parents were always very hesitant to let me play any sports. My husband just didn’t have any interest in them. So when our boys came along, we weren’t really expecting them to be very athletic or interested in sports. That’s an awful thing to say, I know. We are bookworms, computer junkies and gadget addicts. Naturally we thought they would be like us, lol.

They are. Really. They each had a computer before they could hold a crayon. Workbooks get a big “ick” response from all of us. New and shiny gadgets are on every gift wish list.

But surprisingly, both of the boys are good athletes. They are excellent soccer players and they take most sporting activities very seriously. In the case of my oldest, sometimes too seriously (you don’t want to play dodge ball with him, lol!).

Weird how your kids can be so much like you, yet so different at the same time, isn’t it?

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Plans for Next School Year?

May is generally a time when homeschoolers start making plans for their next school year. It’s a good time to evaluate how the current school year has gone, and make changes if necessary. Often times, after spending a year with a particular curriculum or program, you have a different perspective on how you want to do things next time. What seemed like a fabulous plan back in August is now not so great.

This is also the time of year where homeschoolers decide if they want to continue on with homeschooling, or if they think the best thing for their children is to put them in/back in school. Some families only homeschool one year; maybe to get through a difficult year or situation. Some families who have been homeschooling for several years find themselves weighing the pros and cons of homeschooling, wondering if home education is still the best option for their family.

How has your school year gone? Are you continuing on in the same manner next year, or are there changes you are making?

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Spring Cleaning

I’ve always wondered why and how “spring cleaning” came about. I wish it meant that we only had to clean our houses once a year, lol. I guess as the weather starts to warm up, people feel more energized and are willing to thin out stuff that has accumulated throughout the winter?

It’s that time around here. We may have a couple of really deep cleaning periods during the year, but spring is when we really push up our sleeves and dig in. We go through clothes and shoes, books and toys, curricula and materials; you name it, we clean it out and give it away.

Yes, I said give it away.

I hate yard sales. I love to shop them; I just don’t care anything about hosting one. I will generally try to find people who are looking for what I am getting rid of, and I will just hand it over. If I have things left over that no one has claimed I will take it to Goodwill, The Salvation Army or a local Mission Thrift Store.

What about you? What do you do with stuff you are “thinning out?”

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April Showers

Spring is a beautiful time of year. Flowers start to bloom, the kids play outside more, and the flip flops and shorts come out. But with the beginning of spring, comes more rain. And with rain, comes the occasional indoor blues.

Before you and the kids start to get a little stir crazy, have some rainy day plans set up in advance. If you have a list of things to do (and a supply list if necessary) all ready to go, then you don’t have to sit around wondering what to do when the rain sets in.

Here are a few things you can put on your rainy day fun list:

–        Board games. We set aside a couple of board games so they don’t get played regularly, that way they aren’t mundane or repetitive when they are pulled out on a rainy day.

–        Art projects. If you find yourself at a loss for what kinds of artsy things you can do, invest in some “how-to” books. How to draw, how to paint, crafts to make with things around the house; all of these types of guides are well worth their cost (even better when you can find them used or on sale!)

–        Science Experiments. Again, if you need them, you can find great science experiments books for all age ranges.

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Blogging

If you’re reading this, then you are at least a little familiar with blogging. Blogging is a great way to share information with others, or just to keep an online journal for yourself.

I started blogging as a way to help keep distant family and friends abreast of things going on with us. I could easily share photos and talk about what we had been up to lately and everyone enjoyed being able to keep up with how the boys were doing and “seeing” them between visits.

Even though sharing with others is still the primary focus of my blog, over time it became an invaluable outlet for me. I could talk about things going on that I was struggling with, and I could vent about things that were bothering me or weighing on me.

Whether my blog gets 1 visitor a day, or 100 visitors a day, I’m always glad that I spent time learning to blog.

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TV as a Tool…

Most people wouldn’t think of using their TV as an educational tool, but we do. No, I don’t think there is really anything learned from watching Spongebob for hours (except how to make the most annoying sound on the planet), but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a ton of things that can be learned from hanging out in front of the television.

What are some of the things that my kids learn from TV?

My oldest is an aspiring Chef, so he watches the Food Network all the time. He sees different techniques and actually gets an idea of the science behind some kitchen terms. If he’s not watching that, he’s watching Discovery or Science Channel (if the Chef thing falls through, his back up is becoming a Mythbuster). He’s even been known to watch professional soccer games, just to see if there is something in his game he can improve upon.

I do censor what he watches and how much time spends in front of the tube, but it’s most definitely considered an educational tool around here. Do your kids have a favorite TV program that they learn from?

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Teaching Reading

This is one of those areas where I take for granted the ability to do something. My parents will tell you I was born reading, lol, so I don’t remember the learning process. My oldest attended Pre-K and Kindergarten in public school, and by the time I started homeschooling him in the first grade, he had already started learning to read, and had a solid grasp on it. I encouraged him and helped him, but I didn’t necessarily teach him how to read.

My youngest has never been to school, and when it came time to teach him how to read, I found out that I was clueless. I couldn’t wrap my head around not being able to look at a word and just know what it was. I also found out that one of my least favorite things to teach were Dolch, or sight words. I had absolutely no explanation for the way most of the words are spelled. Rather than just learn the words, my son wanted to know why they were spelled that way. In his brain, the word “said” should be spelled like it sounds; “sed.”

With a solid curriculum, we are overcoming the reading hurdle together. Finally, lol. Even though there were stressful times, I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to see his little face when he finally began catching on!

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Having a Hobby

Even though I think it’s important for everyone to have a hobby of some sort, most parents have difficulty in finding time to nurture a hobby. This is especially true with larger families, or when they have younger children. Before children, I was a total bookworm. At any given point, I had half a dozen books I was reading. Reading was really my only hobby, but I had plenty of time to devote to it.

After my children came along, I picked up a new hobby; scrapbooking. I had all of these photos, and just putting them in album after album seemed so boring. I was introduced to scrapbooking and quickly found that just having a few pictures of each activity on a cool, decorated page with a little explanation, made a world of difference with how I felt about displaying our photos. Scrapbook albums also make really great gifts!

The best thing about having a hobby is when I set aside time to read or scrap, I’m setting aside a little time to devote to myself. This keeps me from internally combusting when things get busy or stressful.

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Using Educational Supplements

Whether you are a homeschooler, or your children attend public/private school, you have probably found yourself in a position where you needed some supplementary enrichment.  Maybe the way your homeschool curriculum teaches a concept isn’t making a connection with your child. Maybe your children need a little practice in a particular subject and they just don’t have the time while they are in school.

There are many ways you can supplement your children’s education. Some children may prefer reading more in depth about what they are learning. Sometimes, game play is a better option, especially if your child is already struggling with the amount of “schoolwork” they have. Educational games often don’t feel like learning at all; they’re just fun to play.

Art projects, science experiments and field trips (even short ones with your family on the weekends) are all excellent for supplementary enrichment. What are some ways that you help to supplement with your kiddos?

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