More links for parents suddenly homeschooling

American parents! How are you doing?! Are you surviving with all the kids home? I know, you love them, but it can be overwhelming when you’re not used to it.

Pennsylvania’s governor announced Monday that public schools will be out of session for another two weeks so parents may be further stretched and stressed about how to continue their children’s lessons. On Saturday I shared a post with some advice and ideas about how to tackle this hurdle.

I had already started writing another post to help parents in need of resources to help with educating their children during this time and planned to post it this week before I heard the news about the extended closure Of course, and luckily, many parents can either connect with their teachers online or were sent home with work for their children to do.

But, on the off chance some of you weren’t provided with these connections, I’m jumping off my previous post and adding a little more information and some additional links.

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If you have further links or know of bloggers, etc. who have lists of resources and ideas for parents who are homeschooling against their will (so to speak) let me know in the comments so I can include it in future posts.

When I mentioned Notgrass social studies/history curriculum this past weekend, one thing I didn’t explain is that it can be used to cover English and Bible as well because the curriculum (there are a variety of different sets for different ages to choose from) offers reading, creative writing, a “Biblically Thinking” assignment, and vocabulary.

The America the Beautiful curriculum includes various books on various subjects that can be read separately or at the same time as your daily reading to support what you are studying. These are usually classic books such as Homer Price and Little House on the Prarie and somehow tie into the history lessons the child is reading about. We have been reading other books , either for our local homeschool group’s book discussion (though we never made it to one of the discussions for various reasons) or on our own, so we have only read one of the suggested books so far (Homer Price, which we are currently reading).

Notgrass offers a variety of history curriculum for a range of ages (elementary to high school). It does cost, of course, but you could find the curriculum used on eBay or other sources (including a used homeschooling curriculum group on Facebook) and then sell it when you are done.

In addition to the resources I mentioned Saturday, we have also used Easy Peasy Homeschool in the past, which is a free homeschool site that can be used as a complete course or supplemental resources.

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For math, we are currently using CTC Math. This math site can be used for children of all ages, but we are currently using it for our 13-year old.  There are some things we like about it, but one we don’t like is that when the student completes their online assignment, the program does not show them what mistakes they made and how the teacher came to the answer. There is a subscription fee for this program, but you can choose the monthly option.

In the past, we have also used Teaching Textbooks for math. We are not using Teaching Textbooks at this time because we are waiting for them to upgrade so they no longer need to use Adobe Flash, which is being phased out of web sites in the next year and which browsers are now blocking, making accessing their lessons difficult for us at this time.

Someone has started a Google Docs link with a list of live streams and other online events and what time they are being held. Many of these are for younger students.

For my youngest, we use The Good and The Beautiful’s language arts curriculum (we haven’t used their math curriculum yet), which I mentioned Saturday, but I forgot to mention that we also use ABC Mouse, which I’ve heard is offering their service for $5 a month for the first two months because of all that is going on. We pay $10 a month to use it and it provides lessons to help toddlers, preschoolers and Kindergartners learn their alphabet, numbers and a variety of other subjects. It is all online learning and utilizes characters, games, videos and ebooks to educate.

My daughter loves it, but my one issue with it is that she likes to spend more time dressing and changing the appearance of her avatar than actually doing her school work, so I have to limit her fashionista time when we log on. We don’t use ABC Mouse every day. In fact, I don’t spend a super long time on set lessons with Little Miss. I find her attention isn’t great so short lessons broken up throughout the day are best for her. We also use everyday situations as an opportunity to educate.

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The past couple of weeks we have used a couple of the links I had provided Saturday and so far my daughter (who is a huge animal lover) has loved the live animal cams at the San Diego Zoo (she is in love with orangutans and the siamangs) and any of the lessons about animals on the Classroom Magazine that Scholastic is offering for free for the next 30 days.

My daughter has loved PBS’s Wild Kratts for a couple of years now and has learned so much about animals she simply regurgitates it now.  When we were watching the African Safari Exhibit live cam Monday I said I thought I saw some antelope and she informed me: “Normally they live on the Serengeti.”

I said, “Oh. Wow. Okay. Well, how many 5-year olds know that let alone can say Serengeti?”

She said, “Well, other 5-year olds don’t watch Wild Kratts like I do.”

So, there you go. Check out Wild Kratts streaming on Amazon with the PBS Kids app so your younger kids will know as much about wild creatures as my 5-year old does.

My daughter and I also spent a good amount of time watching the bald eagle on the live cam in Hanover, Pa., sponsored by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Just watching that eagle sit there on his/her egg (not sure if mom or dad was there Monday) was so relaxing and we plan to watch every day until, and after, the eggs hatch.

We have a bald eagle nest near us and people go to look at it, but some people yell and say we need to leave the eagles alone. They are afraid all the people looking (it’s off a main highway) will chase the birds from the nest, but they keep coming back every year so I don’t think they will. Plus, most people who take the walk to the area to see the nest are quiet and respectful, take a photo if they can, and then tip toe away. We may try to go see the eagles when the weather is better.

Michelle at Blessings by Me also suggested Super Charged Science for free and paid science lessons.

Here is another article listing tons of online learning options.

The Great Courses Plus is offering 30 free days of its online courses with the promo code FREEMO.

One of the only things I am loving about all of this craziness (because there is not much to love at all!) is that the tradition of reading to children is coming back by authors who are offering live readings of their books each night around bedtime.

Those you can follow include:

Andrew Peterson and his The Wingfeather Saga.

Miss Frizz Mobile Learning

Josh Gad on Twitter

Author Christina Sootornvant reading from her book Diary of an Ice Princess.

This site has list of a bunch of other authors/illustrators and celebrities doing the same thing.

For adults, or older children, who enjoy William Shakespeare and Patrick Stewart, he is reading one Shakespeare sonnet a day on his various social media sites.

There are tons of bloggers writing about their “suddenly homeschooling” or “continuing homeschooling” situation, including:

All Things Momma (who shares some ideas for entertaining your young children at home and educating them at the same time.);

and Kat at The Lily Cafe.

and, of course, Heather Dawn at Every Small Voice, who I mentioned in Saturday’s post.

If you have any other bloggers who are chatting about all this, please feel free to share their links in the comments and also share any other resources you know about.

Our homeschooling journey so far this school year

Homeschooling: the ultimate experience in making sure a parent is humbled and made to feel completely bewildered and inadequate.

I’m not totally serious with the above definition but homeschooling my children has brought out some of my worst attributes – the biggest ones being insecurity and extreme self-doubt. This our second year of homeschooling and I have more of a grip on it all now than I did before but I still feel like I’m dooming my children to a life of sub-par education and a future of cleaning toilets. I feel this way until I speak with students who attend local public schools and then realize I’m doing okay and they’re going to make it. Take that last sentence however you want. I get myself in enough trouble these days when I try to explain myself.

This year we are using Notgrass’s America the Beautiful for history and so far we are enjoying it. I like the additional family activities at the end of each lesson, as well as the short lesson reviews that help reiterate for the students what they have already read. I think the curriculum may be a little young, in some ways, for my almost 13-year old, but I like the overall review of the lessons and will use it for at least the first part of our school year.

Last week we made Navajo flatbread (which I’ve only known as Navajo fry bread) as one of the family activities at the end of a lesson. The children helped me make the dough and spread it out and then I did the frying. They, of course, also helped with the eating. My almost 5-year old helped with making a huge mess but not so much with cleaning it up.

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For English, we are using Saxon’s grammar and writing curriculum for seventh grade and also reading various novels. I like the Saxon curriculum because it incorporates actual writing and dictation lessons into the grammar.

We are still plowing through The Hobbit, even though the local homeschooling group already held a book discussion centered on it. My son is alternating listening to it being read aloud on YouTube and reading the actual book. For my part, I am very behind on the reading and need to catch up. I may need to listen to it being read out loud as well.

Science and math have our heads spinning a little. We are using Apologia’s Exploring Creation through Physical Science but honestly, I think it’s geared toward higher grade levels. I’m going to try to keep plowing through it, though, because I know my son is bright enough to catch on. I both like and hate that it features two or three experiments a lesson. I like it because it breaks up the large chunks of text in the textbook and I hate it because I have to find the supplies for the experiments ahead of time and I’m not always the best-prepared person. Hopefully, this curriculum will teach my son science and teach me organizational skills.

For Math, we are using Teaching Textbooks for now but they have had a lot of crashes on their online program this school year so we may look for another program when our subscription runs out in November. What I like about their program is I don’t have to teach math. I have some sort of math dyslexia and I was in remedial math in high school so math is not my strong point. Luckily my husband knows a little about math so I pass that duty off to him when I need to.

We are also attending a genealogy class with the local homeschool group once a week and that has been very interesting. The man teaching the class is a fellow homeschooling parent and he’s focusing not only on the biological information we can learn from our ancestors, but also their values and the importance of passing those values down to the next generation.

I will be adding art and, hopefully, music into our homeschooling routine, as well, as the year progresses.

How about all of you? If you’re a homeschooling parent, how is your homeschooling year going? If your children attend public/private school, how is school going for them? Let me know in the comments. And if you are a homeschool parent who has curriculum recommendations, let me know because I love to find new curriculum we can consider for the future.

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