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Mrs Twain

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About Mrs Twain

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    Horizons Math
    Math facts flashcards through 6th grade (addition, subtraction, multiplication)
    Singapore's Challenging Word Problems
    Singapore's Mental Math
    Dolciani Pre-Algebra 1988

    Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
    Rod and Staff English
    IEW SWI and SICC DVD programs
    Daily Editing (Evan Moor)
    HWOT Cursive workbook
    Evan-Moor Daily Reading Comprehension
    Rod and Staff Spelling
    Maxwell's School Composition for Use in Higher Grammar Classes
    Maxwell's Writing in English
    Sadlier Oxford Vocabulary Workshop
    Word Wealth Junior
    Audio books for the car
    BJU Literature (for middle school)
    1000 Good Books List

    Mystery Science online (for younger grades)
    BJU Science video courses (6-8th grades)

    A Child's History of the World (Hillyer)
    A Child's History of Art (Hillyer)
    A Child's Geography of the World (Hillyer)
    History books by Edward Eggleston
    U.S. History Detective workbooks (CTC)
    The Complete Book of Maps and Geography Grades 3-6
    Maps, Charts, and Graphs workbooks
    Map the Whole World e-books http://map-of-the-whole-world.weebly.com
    Lapbooks from Hands of a Child
    Uncle Eric books

    Fallacy Detective
    Classical Conversations memory work
    Khan Academy free SAT practice
    Local Speech Club including speech tournaments
    Balance Benders
    Mind Benders
    Udemy online programming courses
    Atelier DVD Art Classes

    Educational Philosophy:
    Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children (E.D. Hirsch, Jr.)
    -Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom (Daniel T. Willingham)

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  1. In my career field of medicine, there are a significant contingent of us who strive to make decisions and practice according to the best evidence—the best evidence of producing good outcomes. Someone made up a term for this called POEM: Patient-Oriented Evidence that Matters. In other words, we try to avoid using treatments that are traditional just because that is what everyone has always done, or new treatments because they are the popular fad, or treatments recommended by experts just because some experts recommend them. We try to find studies that show which treatments produce good outcomes that matter to patients (reduction of disease and death, not just improvement in factors such as values of lab tests). We try to give the treatments that have real evidence to help patients live longer and healthier. I have tried to apply the same principles to homeschooling my children. What are the “POEM’s” (or perhaps “SOEM’s”—student oriented evidence that matters) regarding educational philosophy? Most of what is out there and currently being utilized by educators has no real evidence to back it up. However, I have found two excellent books which helped me craft the educational plan for my children, which I will list below and which have produced excellent results for my kids. If you are interested in using effective, evidence-based methods of education, I have found nothing better. You would do well to read and apply the principles in these books. —The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children (E.D. Hirsch, Jr.) -Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom (Daniel T. Willingham)
  2. Somebody on this forum (8? Was that you?) once said their general rule for number of hours to spend doing formal school work was equal to the child‘s grade. So a fourth grader would do about four hours of academic work per school day. I found that extremely helpful as a general guideline, and it worked well for us. Five to six hours per day was about our limit in middle school years.
  3. I am so glad I did a formal grammar program with my kids. Knowing grammar gave them great help with their high school English classes, general writing ability (formal papers and informal emails), college essays, SAT verbal section, and foreign language classes. Many of their high school peers who had little formal grammar instruction struggled in those areas. (I used Rod and Staff English from grades 2-8.)
  4. Good question! If you ask twenty people, you may get twenty different answers, but I will type out my personal strategy. If you are interested in specific curricula choices, I listed my favorites under my profile. Like I said, though, there is more than one way to skin a cat, so you could just as well use other programs to accomplish the same purpose. I structured my program into three tiers, with Tier One subjects being essential and Tier Three being extras that we could skip if needed on days when we got into a jam. Tier One: The Three R's (reading, writing, and arithmetic). I spent a significant amount of time researching to find out what the objectives were for these subjects each year, and then choosing programs which achieved the objectives. I tried to find good quality curricula which taught the subjects systematically. Unless something really wasn't working, I tried to continue with my programs consistently year after year rather than jump around to different programs every time a new fad came along. I made sure these subjects were done every day and were done well. Tier Two: History/Geography/Civics and Science. In K-8 grades, these are generally content subjects. There was no way on earth that I could teach my children everything there was to learn about history and science by eighth grade. Therefore, my goal was exposure. The more background information I could help my kids absorb, the easier high school would be for them. However, if there were some gaps in their knowledge of these subjects, it would end up okay because they would cover those areas in their high school courses. The rigor in this area mostly involves science. I tried to find science classes which were simple to implement in order to make sure it got done. History is usually a pretty fun and popular homeschool subject, but a lot of people find science more difficult to teach and then skip it when they run out of time at the end of the day. DON'T SKIP SCIENCE. Tier Three: Extras. This is where we really got to have fun and take advantage of our opportunities as homeschoolers. My husband and I studied our children and tried to figure out what their individual talents and interests were. Then we crafted specific subjects to help them explore their passions. One of my kids did extra work in writing, argumentation, and history. Another one did extra classes in computer programming and website and app design. Another child did economics and business courses taught by my husband (who runs his own business). In addition to these, I threw in some other things to round out their education or build certain important skills, such as memorization, public speaking, and logical reasoning. Options for this category could also include things like foreign language, music, and physical fitness. I didn't do all of these things every year, but I would choose a few of them to work on at a time. Is that sort of what you were asking? I hope that helps. :)
  5. My youngest child finished middle school and will begin public high school in the fall. One day recently it hit me that I am no longer a homeschool mom, at least in the official sense. On one hand, I feel happy and relieved that I will have more free time. On the other hand, I think I will really miss some parts of homeschool—sitting on the couch doing read alouds with my kids and just laughing and laughing together at the funny parts, the rabbit trail philosophical discussions about life that somehow happened in the middle of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic lessons, and of course my years of being a curriculum junkie. Looking back, I am especially glad that we pursued a rigorous approach to homeschooling in grades K-8. I know about the popular movement in the other direction which is often promoted in both public school and homeschool circles, but I am glad we swam against the current. During the vast majority of our homeschool days, my kids worked hard and didn’t always have a lot of fun. However, once they reached high school, they really took off. It has been a great joy for me to watch them pursue lofty goals during their teenage years and achieve them. The rigor in our K-8 program gave them a tremendous academic foundation and confidence so that they can dream big dreams, and the goals they aspire to are within their reach. The joy my kids have experienced in high school (and now in college where our oldest is) has overflowed to me. Why am I writing this? I am not sure, except I don’t want to start another argument about rigor. I suppose I am writing it to encourage the young mothers out there who are just beginning to homeschool, and also to the moms who are in the middle of their homeschool years—to encourage you to press on, work hard every day, and finish the course. There is a great reward in the future for a job well done.
  6. I used the “old” IEW with my kids as their main writing program from 3rd through 8th grades. The old IEW SWI and SICC added complexity each year. So even though the program was teaching and reviewing the same units, the complexity and assignments were progressively at higher levels. As my kids got older, I relaxed on the checklist requirements because they naturally included the usual elements in their writing and didn’t require a strict checklist. Periodically we took some breaks from IEW to provide variety. I am not familiar with the new IEW program, so I can’t give you advice about that. My main reason for replying to your post is because you desire to get your children ready for public school writing. From what I have observed in our area, my kids are able write at a higher level than the public school students we know. If your aim is public school writing level, that shouldn’t be difficult. Personally I recommend that you aim a lot higher than public school standards.
  7. I used Rod and Staff English with all of my kids. It is not fun, but it has very clear, systematic instruction. I only assigned about half of the grammar exercises since that amount was sufficient to learn the concepts.
  8. Horizons Math would be an easy-to-implement spiral program with a ton of review.
  9. I have used Rod and Staff English just for grammar instruction. In R&S, the composition lessons are clearly marked so that they can be skipped if you don’t want to use them for grammar. Rod and Staff English has systematic and straightforward instruction which I appreciated. It can work well for middle school students, but make sure to choose the appropriate level if the higher levels are too advanced. For example, you may elect to use the Grade 5 book instead of Grade 6 or 7. I have not used GWTM, so I can not provide a comparison.
  10. I have all my kids do map drawing with this program: http://map-of-the-whole-world.weebly.com They learn to draw the continents, all the countries in the world, the states in USA, and provinces of Canada. This program used to be a PDF that you could purchase, but apparently now it is a Udemy course. I also have my kids use Maps, Charts, and Graphs workbooks to learn map skills.
  11. My youngest is not fond of homeschooling which is why I have outsourced so much. I do think we will have a good year, though, mostly because everyone we know is currently a homeschooler. 🙂 Geometry: Part-time student at local middle school German 2: Part-time student at local middle school Grammar/Writing/Vocabulary/Cursive: Rod and Staff English 8, IEW (finish SICC B), CTC Word Roots, Practice cursive copying IEW poetry Literature: BJU (finish Excursions in Literature), continue read alouds Logic: CTC Basics of Critical Thinking, Khan Academy SAT practice Science: Excelsior Integrated Physics and Chemistry online course History/Civics: (Fall) Finish BJU American Republic DLO, (spring) Gen Joshua iCivics Online Course Map Drawing/Geography: Maps, Charts and Graphs workbook, Map drawing http://map-of-the-whole-world.weebly.com Speech: Toastmasters Interpersonal Communication program, Develop a platform (Powerpoint) speech and compete at one local speech tournament Business/Economics: Uncle Eric Middle School Economics books taught by Dad Congressional Award: We will start working on this and hopefully continue through high school
  12. Thank you! i used 100 Easy Lessons to teach all my kids to read. It is an awesome and economical resource.
  13. I agree that there has to be one-on-one teaching with the young kids. I used to have a general aim of one hour per grade level per day of seat work (i.e: one hour total for first grade, two hours for second grade, etc.). The parents (or maybe a grandparent in some cases) will need to find time to give this individual attention, at least for the younger kids. I suppose I am asking for suggestions for all-in-one resources, as in options for open-and-go programs these parents could use to do school this year that would help their children make progress and stay on track. These options will certainly not be the most rigorous or personalized, but they would be better than the abysmal DL offering from the public schools. I would like to give these parents a (short) list of programs that are of decent quality to choose from to simplify their decision. In any case (doing homeschool or online public school), they will need to figure out how to get the assignments done on a daily basis.
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