A predictable start to a typical summer in my home in 2003, 2010, and 2015.
Eleven Year Old Boy: "I hate reading."
Frustrated Mother: "That's too bad. It is summertime, and you WILL read a book for fun!"
Maybe you can relate.
From a very young age, all of my boys loved having stories read to them; however, independent reading - purely for enjoyment - never blossomed in my home. And, THAT drove me crazy. Books of all kinds bring me immeasurable joy. I still don't get it.
If this sounds like your family, I feel your pain. And, better yet, I have a solution. For us, since I could never instill the individualistic love of literature, our best-enjoyed novels were ones we shared and read as a family. For us, this was much like a Book Club. And, there are many reasons Book Clubs are successful.
"Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and underrated agent of human change." ~Bob Kerrey
According to Webster's Dictionary, kindness is a noun: a person, place, or thing. However, Moms, I think we would all agree it is most powerful when it becomes a common, household VERB! So, how can we increase empathy and compassion in our children? A few ideas come to mind.
Your child learned to write a compelling argumentative essay. He included a persuasive counterargument. In only 30 minutes, his revised paper improved. Finally, he checked all his grammar and mechanics. Great! But how did he do?
Sometimes, as a homeschool mom, we are left wondering if our child's final writing product is good enough. We certainly do not want to criticize his hard work and diligent effort. Considering the fact that he has never worked this hard also tugs at our heartstrings. What is a mom to do?
Well, for me, finding Grammarly.com made a world of difference. Let me tell you why.
#1. Grammarly is easy, so easy to use! Who does not want a little easy in her life? And, did I mention it is FREE?! Grammarly has a free online text editor. Derek learned to copy and cut his typed text and insert it into the Grammarly text editor. With the click of a button, his whole story or essay quickly scanned for grammar and spelling errors. Not only did Grammarly detect the errors, but the program explained the mistakes as well. Also for free is a "Browser Extension" which flags any written errors in emails I send or posts I make on Facebook or Twitter. Quite quickly, Derek and I both fell in love with this writing enhancement platform.
There is a premium edition as well. Watch for the sale prices, and you will get a steal of a deal! With premium, it gets even better with over 400 types of grammar, mechanic, spelling, wordiness, and style checks. Plus, Grammarly will also provide suggestions to improve the writing, and it will detect plagiarism! As a writing teacher, all of these bonus features make it worth every penny!
#2. Grammarly's "eyes" do not tire like mine! After a long day or week, it can be exhausting both mentally and physically to spend time searching through a student's writing assignment and combing over it three to four times making sure to catch all the mistakes. It is enough to get a girl to gripe! But, Grammarly does not complain as I do. Nope. Grammarly gets the job done faster and more efficiently.
#3. Using Grammarly regularly truly improves both students and parents English grammar. Imagine that! This program is not only an outstanding tool but a teacher, too. There have been many times I have read the corrections or suggestions on a student's paper and thought, "What a great way to explain that!" It is no surprise to me to read that Grammarly is the #1 Rated Grammar Checking Tool according to Forbes. Millions of students and professionals now use the software. As well, it has been proofreading for a decade which makes it a trusted product.
Now that I have my own writing business up and running, I am in contact with even more homeschooling parents. After telling another large group of moms about my favorite online editor, I realized Grammarly and I should become partners. So, I reached out to Grammarly and applied to join their affiliate program. Afterall, I am one of their biggest fans. Here is the best part - they said, "YES!"
Now you need to decide if Grammarly is right for you. Do you want an easy fix to your busy grading and scoring schedule? Would you like someone else to give grammatical and structural feedback to improve your child's writing ability? Is it possible that you, too, could grow and learn along the way? Well, if you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then Grammarly is worth your time. So, give it a try and let me know what you think. And, if you are at all like me, you are wondering, "Did she use the online text editor to proofread this blog post?" You bet I did!
The first thing I tell new homeschool moms is to embrace the love of learning! Be open to learning and exploring topics that interest your child.
First, start with conversation. Ask your child what interests him most. Perhaps it is a particular sports car or maybe a certain sport intrigues him. Or, of course, it could be SQUIRRELS.
Well, that was what Derek said at the beginning of his fourth grade year. And, so, squirrels became our THEME. We stayed on this topic for three weeks! Who knew there was so much to learn about these little mammals?
All of my lesson planning centered on the theme of squirrels from that point forward. Sure, we kept moving along in our math textbook, but I even incorporated some "fun" math to tie in with our squirrel lessons.
READING (30 minutes a day) - Books from the library (fictional and non-fiction), Ranger Rick magazine, Discovery Education, BrainPop, and other various internet support sites.
WRITING (15-20 minutes a day)- We added words to our spelling dictionary, we took notes on index cards, and the project learning culminated with an expository essay.
MATH (30-40 minutes a day) - Graphing. We gathered information on all things squirrels. Later, we sorted our information. We used the information to create bar graphs, circle graphs, and line graphs.
SCIENCE (30 minutes a day) - Life science, of course! External and internal parts of a squirrel: respiratory, digestive, and circulatory system. Habitat and biomes also made it into the lesson plans. Derek created an interactive notebook with drawing, sketches, definitions, and more questions.
SOCIAL STUDIES/HISTORY/GEOGRAPHY (30 minutes a day) - We located the five continents where squirrels inhabit. We looked at the terrain and resources available to these little critters. We read, discussed, and wrote about various cultures and their interactions with squirrels.
VAPA (Once or twice a week.) - Tying in science, Derek learned to accurately sketch and draw a squirrel.
My point is simple. If you can entice your young learner to want to learn, you are more than half way there. Consider all the possibilities and work together to make your homeschooling memories true treasures.
Need a good lesson plan book? The Ultimate Homeschool Planner (Orange Edition)
So much to do and so little time. And, to add to the challenge, the kids are already bored! What?! Winter break just started!
Do not fret. Here is a simple idea to keep the kids busy while buying you a little extra time to finish up your projects, wrap those presents, and bake the last batch of cookies.
When our boys were younger we would use their artwork to make personal and, quite honestly, precious "Thank You" cards.
In my experience, getting children to write during the holidays is both fun and easy. December lends itself to imagination, curiosity, delectable delights, and heart-warming stories.
Whether your child enjoys writing narratives, descriptives, or expository assignments, I have a little of each to offer you.
May these ideas not only increase your child's writing skills this month, but make your December merry and bright!
Family is coming over! The house needs to be cleaned! Is the menu finalized and the shopping completed? Wait. And, I still need to teach my children?!?
Welcome to the homeschooling life! Sure, some moms will say, "We just take the whole week off." But, why? Why not use the natural excitement of an upcoming holiday to inspire more from your child? You can do this!
Thanksgiving can fill a busy schedule to the brim. I understand, but do not despair. There are plenty of independent (and fun!) writing activities your child can do this week.
Here are FIVE quick and easy writing ideas to spark your brain and inspire your young writer:
Write every day. Really?
The advice is common. Teachers encourage homeschooling parents to keep their children writing every day. However, the typical homeschooling mom runs out of ideas. Normal.
The good news is that others have already traveled the road you are on. Personally, I have succeeded and failed in this area. Let me share a successful writing method with you: The Quick Write - Summary Writing Practice
Author: Melissa Webb
CA Credentialed Teacher