Project-Based Learning?

“I’m looking for curriculum to help my child get into [a particular university program].”

The woman got upset when I suggested that she might let him spend a lot of time working on projects related to his specialized interest. She seemed to think that was only for younger kids, not for high school students interested in a rigorous academic program.

Continue reading Project-Based Learning?

Science Labs

This year, my teens have been studying chemistry at home. Well, we have included a few others from our homeschool support group in our journey because it makes it more fun for them and, honestly, having them share the costs makes it cheaper to buy cool science lab gear. Continue reading Science Labs

PTSD: Post-Traumatic School Disorder

PTSD. Post-Traumatic School Disorder. If it’s not an official variant of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, it should be.

There are times when I’ll be going about my business and someone says something that sets off my Post-Traumatic School Disorder. Like tonight. Someone asked whether colleges might give students grief about using religious curricula and a helpful woman Continue reading PTSD: Post-Traumatic School Disorder

How Do You Use Kids’ Interests?

Every year around this time, I ask my kids about what they’d like to study next year. The answers have varied a great deal but they’ve always made our studies more interesting for both the kids and me, and I know they learn more when they are fully engaged in what we’re studying. It can take a bit of creativity and work to figure out how to include their interests, but the rewards have been great.

For example, one year my son who was about ten years old at the time, asked if he could study Star Wars. My initial response was, “No, we can’t study Star Wars. Continue reading How Do You Use Kids’ Interests?

The Freedom of High School

Or:  Thinking About Science Next Year

“What kind of labs are you going to do next next for chemistry?” a mom asked me.

“Uh? Hmmm….” I hadn’t thought through yet what science my kids were going to take next year for 10th grade.

“I assumed Chemistry came next after Biology,” she added.

I thought about that. No, actually, when I was in high school, Continue reading The Freedom of High School

Science Fair with a Preschooler

Often our preschooler gets in the way of the teenagers’ lessons; it tends to be because the little one wants attention, wants to learn, and wants to be a part of the interesting things the older kids are learning. He doesn’t really get that he’s only three–well, he’ll soon turn three; he can tell you his numerical age, but he doesn’t see why he can’t do everything the teenagers are doing.

Sometimes we fight his desire to be included, Continue reading Science Fair with a Preschooler

Health Lessons

A homeschooler asked recently about health curricula other homeschoolers were using for their high school students. Everyone else gave names of typical textbooks to answer the question. While we do have a textbook we have used some (Glencoe Health), that hasn’t been the main focus of our health lessons and wasn’t my complete answer. We have used our textbook to read about various ailments, about how to avoid various health conditions, symptoms to be concerned about, and so on, but our health lessons have involved much more than that standard textbook.

A thin 4-H First Aid workbook, designed for a club rather than a classroom, has been more of the backbone of our health program this year. Continue reading Health Lessons

You Only Did Science Once This Week?

Don’t freak out. It’s really okay. Some weeks we might cover science only once. I know; most schools cover every subject every day, and some might worry when we don’t do the same. But the truth is that not every school follows a schedule that covers every subject daily. Some have block schedules where classes meet for longer lengths of time for fewer days each week. Others have even less common schedules–like the Florida public school that I once taught in where seventh graders had no science for half a year and no social studies for most of the other half; they did this because the students were, on average, four grade levels behind in math and reading and the school decided to focus on their most pressing educational needs and skip certain subjects. If a public school can do it, Continue reading You Only Did Science Once This Week?