Saturday, 27 June 2015

Back from a week of rest ... {HSMJ}

It's been one very long and eventful week in my world this week.  The main issue that happened I'm not at liberty to share on here other than to say I saw God move in my life in extraordinary ways and I am so grateful to the body of Christ being there for my family all over the world.

If you are in a financial position to assist a friend of mine in the USA who has a daughter with a physical disability I would love for you to help them reach their Go Fund Me fund raiser.  Her sister is trying to purchase her a wheelchair to make accessing certain places easier for the family.

As usual it's so many great things and far to little time...

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

In our home school this week…

My favourite thing this week was…
 Things I’m working on…
 On the WWW I’m reading…
 I’m cooking…
  • Some new recipes in my Trim Healthy Mama book. I'm also looking for new recipes to cook at home. Do you know of any I can try ?
 A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
Have your tissues ready ... This is such a beautiful clip of a Mother and Son dance at a wedding.


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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Planning to Homeschool through the High School Years

When I first started home educating the main question I was asked about was: "Socialization ?" as time went by and my children were a little bit older it became more of a statement / question: "They are going to high school?!" When I would say "No" the next two questions would be: "How are you going to teach ... at a High School level?" and "How will they access tertiary qualifications without going to school?"  The fear / intimidation factor was enormous.

Looking back over the last decade and a half of homeschooling I have come to realize a few things.
  • Firstly that homeschooling through the High School years is no different to home educating in the primary years.  
  • It creeps up on you rather suddenly and when you least expect it to.
  • It's helpful to begin planning early so you are not pressured into choices that are not right for your family.
These days I encourage Mom's who are home educating in the primary years to start their high school planning now rather than later.

Today I would like to share a little bit about my journey homeschooling in High School and a few thoughts on how to get started on planning for the high school years in your homeschooling. At the end of this post you will find links to 18 homeschool friends are sharing their experiences and insights in to Planning to Home school through the High School years.

A word from my *Daughter Jane on Planning to Homeschool through High School

Take a deep breath and rest easy in the knowledge you are about to embark on one of the greatest journeys of your life.

Some days it's okay to just remember to take it at your own pace and to have patience with yourself. Often when you are weary, we are too. It's okay to take a day off to have a picnic.

Being home-schooled was one of the greatest blessings my mom has ever given me, and I am thankful every day. It enabled me to pursue the subjects that I was passionate about and helped me to work at my own pace.

I do believe you need to be willing to compromise and shape your curriculum to work around your family structure.

Make sure you remember to have fun, and it's okay to change things up!

* Jane is currently on a world wide travel adventure and you can follow along on Instagram.  She was home educated from Kindy {preschool} to High School.  Graduated at 16 with a Cert III in Children's Services and a Cert III in Retail, an RSA certification, First Aid certification and Anaphylaxis certification.  Last year she completed a Cert IV in Human Resources in preparation to enter the secretarial work force.  She has been working full time since 2012.

Plan for the high school years

  • Do not be afraid.  Fear will rob you of the joy of the wonderful high school years and enjoying your children fully as they grow into young adults and discover who they are.
  • Relax.  You are not on a timer.  Take your time and enjoy the journey and do it well.  Take off the pressure both on yourself and your students to perform.
  • Ask yourself what are my expectations ?  Know what these are well in advance or you may end up treading water or taking an unexpected detour.  
  • What is it you require your child to know in order to graduate High School?  Make yourself a list.  Use this list to work out how you will assist your child to achieve your goal. Why do you want them to complete these items on the list? 
  • Choose your non negotiable subjects and make a list and STICK to it. One of my non negotiable subjects was Algebra 1 in Math.  They groaned and complained because their high school friends did not need to do this at school.  My reason: it develops higher order thinking and reasoning skills. Once I shared my reasons they were both happy to complete the book and later discovered for themselves this had indeed been of value.
  • Ask your students what subjects they would like to study at a higher level. If you don't know anything about the subject matter in question take it as an opportunity to learn together.
  • Explore different topics NOW so that when they get to high school they know what they are passionate about.  
  • Once they know what they want to become then begin to tailor your home school to meet tertiary study requirements. If you can't teach a subject do not stress about it.  You have two options available: learn alongside your students (this is a great way to model that learning is a life long skill) or find a tutor who can help them when they get stuck learning by themselves.
  • Start looking at High School Curriculum now this will help you get a feel for what is out there.  There is no need to stock up as new and improved curriculum is entering the market on a regular basis. When looking look over things that match the style you are currently using to home educate.
  • Keep doing what's working for you now.  Don't change it just because you are entering High School. I discovered this the hard way with my older two. Changing what is working does not make sense.  They don't do it in Public School so don't do it to your home school.
  • Be adventurous and follow some delight directed learning.
  • Life Skills are an important part of your High School curriculum.  If they graduate without general life skills they will be at a definite disadvantage.  They need to know how to work with money, vehicle maintenance, basic culinary skills, public transport skills, the value of money, good work ethic, bargain hunting and general house keeping.
  • Choose Electives that will broaden their horizons and equip them well for their chosen field of tertiary study or work.

Our High School Home School Journey

I remember homeschooling and thinking that 12 years is such a very long time and would I make it for the long haul?  If I did it certainly didn't feel like we would be homeschooling at a high school level anytime soon so we settled into a rhythm that suited our family and kept on doing what was working well for us.  I didn't think anything of the high school years because after all that was ages away.   Somewhere in this journey we were blessed with Nathaniel and tackled another international move from New Zealand to Victoria in Australia.

This event marked the beginning of three isolating years for our family in which we discovered the joys of Facebook, homeschooling with access to the internet and homeschooling through some changes in the law in Victoria. By this time Timothy was 15 and Jane was 12.

One of the things I was unprepared for was the outside pressure put on us to change the way we homeschooled.  Things like: "Your children need to work alone in their rooms." OR "Your children need to learn to work independently by themselves" and "Give them the responsibility to do ..."
In hind sight I now realize that you do not need to change anything. Why fix what's not broken?

This pressure caused me to get each of my children tables and shift them to their rooms to study by themselves.  I changed everything ... In hindsight this was not a good thing. My daughter shared recently with me that this move made her feel like she lost the freedom to be a child and enjoy growing up and that all of a sudden she had to be a grown up. She felt like she lost years of her childhood through this decision and it made her feel like she was drowning...

Jane had been sharing with me about possibly going into Child Care for a living.  She loved children and they love being with her.  One day while walking through our local shopping center I was presented with an opportunity to sigh her up to complete her Cert III and all it was was two days a fortnight.  Or so I understood.  I signed her up and she started.  The two of us thought she could do homeschool for the other four days a week little did we know that it was actually a full time course and soon homeschool was put on hold.  I hadn't planned for that little detour.  Between class, practical hours each week and home work there was no extra time available for home educating. By the time Jane graduated she had been working in Child Care almost full time, studying.

A new era had begun without us fully realizing it until she had graduated from Uni. Lesson learned count the cost well before making the choice to tertiary studies with your children regardless of the opportunity.

How to start Homeschooling in High School

  • Research your country/state laws on home schooling. To find out more about the registration requirements take a look at:
  • Take some time to explore the different styles/methods used for home educating and choose something you and your student would enjoy.
  • Connect with your local home educating community. There is a wealth of free support to be found there.  Remember not to take everything you hear as gospel because every homeschool is different because each and every family is different. Homeschooling groups offer you community service opportunities, field trips, new friends etc
  • If you are in a country/state that requires you to keep transcripts or records find something that will work for you and track your progress each week. You could even start a blog to record what you do. Remember to choose something that works for you.  If you are a digital junkie find something online if you are a paper person you can find some free printables or purchase a purpose made high school homeschool journal/planner.
  • Choose a curriculum. Start with the basics {Language arts, Math, Science, History and Literature} then gradually add in something new as you need it. 

Can they enter Tertiary study if they are home schooled in High School?

  • Yes! Homeschooling is entering second and third generations now and more and more students who were home educated have completed tertiary study and as a result more institutions are familiar with the concept making it easier and easier for today's students to enter.
  • In Australia a Cert II is the equivalent of Year 12/13 (Matric) school certification. 
  • Most Universities require Year 12 or tertiary study. A cert III is evidence of tertiary study and is an acceptable entry evidence, OR you can work save up and enter as a mature age student (21+ years old)
  • Cert III is first year post school study and one year before a Diploma level. When looking at attending University to study it is worth doing a Cert III course and using this as your entry level when filling out the documentation for enrollment this is filled in under tertiary studies. Some courses will allow you to cross credit certain subjects.
  • In New Zealand phone the head of the department at the University of your choice to find out what the entry requirements for the desired course of study are.

Information on Homeschooling High School On the Web

Homeschool High School On Pinterest

Read More on Homeschooling in the High School Years

We hope that you have found the information you are looking for on home educating in the high school years and look forward to sharing our thoughts on teaching the Electives in the High School years in July.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

SmartKidz Media {Review}

This past year of our homeschooling journey we have been using more digital media to enhance our learning. Most of the time I search on Google and a few of the streaming stations that came with our Smart TV.  I recently heard about SmartKidz Media which is an online digital media resource for families.

What we received
  • One year access to the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers.
  •  Be sure to take a look at their FAQ page it is a wealth of information.
  • You will need a minimum of 0.5Mbps to stream from SmartKidz Media.  Recommended speeds for HD are a minimum of 1.0Mbps.

How we used SmartKidz Media
SmartKidz Media is an online digital media streaming resource that is compatible with any internet linked device.  We mainly accessed it on my home desktop computer and our LG Smart TV through the www menu.  Once you log in you have access to ten categories and each of these have sub-categories.

  SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers Menu

  • World of Discovery contains 27 collections.  This is the main area we have explored and enjoyed using. It contains history videos (these have just been added and we are looking forward to exploring this genre), cooking shows showcasing food from around the world, travel and Adventure, health and fitness contains both adult, expecting moms and children's exercise classes, culture showcasing both modern, ancient and unusual cultures around the world, Animals and Wildlife from all over the world covering their journeys, answering questions about animals, nature by design, discovering animals from different habitat, babies and adults,
  • Music & Fine Arts - Classical, Cultural, Jazz and Relaxation.
  • Mighty eBook Collection - These are animated audio books covering science questions, classical stories such as Aesop Fables,  Mother Goose, Reading Readiness, fun, bible stories, classic sing along songs etc.
  • Baby Signs Program - Baby Signs program, a full baby sign dictionary, and potty training videos.
  • My Animal Family - is a program designed to teach family values, respect for animals through the use of video story books.
  • Quick Find Study Guides - These are full study guides arranged in subject fields (Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Accounting, Foreign Language) and each book is in alphabetical order)
  • Learning Special Needs - These books cover everyday topics like what is money, making lemonade, winter clothing, going places, public holidays etc. Most books have a choice of hear the book or interactive.  In the interactive selection you have the option of printing books and activities as well. 
  • Living Skills Program -  This is a new area that will be available soon.
  • Ready Set Sing - This area has sing along songs and is divided into age appropriate levels from Ages 2-4 and 6-8
  • Fun Zone - This area contains educational games covering puzzles, just for fun and games.
In the Science gallery we really enjoyed these three videos in the series How did they make that? which answered the every day questions behind how did they make that? We learned about how they made marbles, money (my favourite so far), birthday cake, potato crisps, motor cars, candles and slate tiles. {Nathaniel says this series was by far his most favourite so far.}

When you hover your mouse over a particular video of interest a pop up box appears with a brief description of the video along with how long the program is.
Once you click on the video it opens on a page of it's own and starts to play immediately.  You are able to watch the video in full screen mode by clicking on the icon with the four arrows on the bottom right of the player.  Below the video player is the full summary of what the video is about along with a topic list and the running time of the video shown in hours, minutes and seconds.

Bizarre Science tickled both our interest by answering questions about why toast always falls on the buttered side, do you get more wet running or walking through the rain? Why does water spin when it goes down a drain?

This is another series that grabbed us and we watched one after another. I learned some really interesting things about the wealth on our planet.

Music Library
When you select something from the music library it opens up in an independent music player.
  • The top left contains a graphic of the collection. 
  •  The center shows you the music collection Title and below this the track currently playing. 
  • To the right is a full play list. You can select play all or you can start playing from the track of your choosing. You can also see the length of each track here.

Cost of SmartKidz Media
  • Monthly Membership $10.00 p/m
  • Annual Membership $99.00
  • Free Trial (14 days)
Recommended Age Range
  • Toddler to Adult

Connect with SmartKidz Media

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Over All I thought ...
One of the things I have appreciated the most about the SmartKidz Media platform is that there are no links to other sites and  no advertising or pop ups either.  This has meant that I can allow Nathaniel to surf the site to look for content that he is interested in viewing knowing he will not accidentally end up in some strange website or see undesirable content. This site is value for money and well worth investing in.


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