Tag Archives: homeschool ideas

The Best Education Money Can’t Buy

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Outside of homeschooling my own son, I also tutor other students part-time. They are mostly private school students. At a session this week with a 7th grader for Pre-AP Algebra, my son, who is in the 6th grade, wanted to jump in and help him with a difficult problem. I stopped my son because I like to give my older students more time to figure it out on their own, but I was proud of him for understanding the work and for taking the initiative to want to help.  It let me know that I was doing something right. :-)

This exchange prompted me to think  about the sacrifices that we make for our children. The parents that I work with often select their neighborhoods and their career paths based on wanting their children to have access to the best possible education. Likewise, I make many decisions based on wanting my son to receive the best education – the one that God has blessed me to provide to him.

At times, I have thought about how I could possibly be making more money if I did not spend the time that I spend with my son.  Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts.  Yet, my sacrifices in the financial area have allowed my son to be more advanced in many subjects than my private school students, though their parents are much stronger than me financially.  Please keep this in mind if you’ve had any financial challenges due to working less hours or not working as a homeschooling mom.  We don’t always have to have more money to do more for our children.  Sometimes having less allows us to do more – and  as a bonus, our children learn not to be materialistic.

For 5 years now, my son has been out of the public school system. At first, I was really just hoping that I was doing the right thing, lol. Thanks to my heightened investment in supporting his academic growth, along with support from friends and strong sister-mentors in my community, we quickly witnessed major improvements in his reading, math, and interest level.  Within 2 years, he had strengthened academically more than I imagined that he could have so speedily.  I knew then that we had to stick with independent education.

Of equal importance to academics, he has had the space over the past 5 years to pursue computer programming, animation, chess, creative writing, visual art, and drumming to the point where they have become passions for him. He has also had space – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to research extensively on one of his greatest loves in life – animals. At the same time, he has a great sense of his culture and history, thanks to both our studies and our strong community.

If I had a lot of money, maybe I would have enrolled him in a private school and secured private tutoring for him from the beginning. When he was struggling with reading at age 6 and I felt like his teachers were against him instead of for him, maybe I would have said, “Forget this – you’re going to the best school that money can buy.” I’m so glad that I wasn’t rich, because it turned out that learning to be my son’s educator was the best decision that I’ve ever made.

If you are considering homeschooling or just starting out, stay strong in your mission. When you feel you are not doing a great job, ask yourself what you can do differently and make changes. All teachers make mistakes. It’s important to recognize these challenges and fix them instead of beating ourselves up about them. When you are doing a great job, celebrate that too. Set goals for each semester and celebrate the goals that you are able to achieve. Homeschooling is like gardening – it’s hard work and you may not the results clearly from the beginning, but it will result in a beautiful harvest.

Also, when you feel discouraged about financial challenges, look at all that your children are able to gain from your sacrifices.  Many resources can be had for free or very little money, so it is not necessary to have a lot of money to homeschool.  Stay strong, focused, and positive – you’re giving your children the best education possible!  Even more importantly, no amount of money can replace the family bonds that are forged all while providing an excellent education!

Stay tuned for the next post which will have money-saving tips, goal setting tips, and other tools for providing the best education that money can’t buy. ;-)

With Love,

Nikala Asante

 

 

 

Approaches to Homeschooling in the 21st Century

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Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X

Greetings,

Home education can take various forms, according to your needs and resources.  One common perception of home schooling is that you will spend all day at home with your children, painstakingly drilling through academic subjects, while isolating them from the rest of the world.  The most frequent that you will be asked as a home schooling parent is, “What do your children do for socialization?”  This concept of home schooling is outdated, if it ever held any truth.

Personally, I am a single mother who works part time during the year and full time during the summers, attends school, and home schools my son.  Thus, I have had to be very innovative in my approach to home schooling.  I use a combination of the three methods that I have listed below.  If you struggle with making money while home schooling, visit How to Work and Homeschool.

What I can tell you is that home schooling your children does not require 8 hours a day and you do not have to do it alone.  Honestly, there are too many resources and like-minded parents available to make doing it alone necessary.  

As you plan your upcoming school year, reflect on these methods for home-educating: 

Old School:

Decide which subjects that you want your children to study and secure books and worksheets in these subjects.  Combine instruction, self-guided exercises, and independent projects.  Include online components, outdoor play, and regular exercise.  Plan daily time for reading, whether that be student independent reading or you reading aloud.  Allow your child to fellowship with other children through after school programs, academic clubs, community/district sports teams, and/or religious meetings.

Home School Collective/Cooperative:

You will still decide which subject that you want your children to learn, but you may not be teaching/guiding in all of these subjects.  You will work with 1 or more other parents to provide a collective education for your children.  Sit down before the semester begins and plan which times and subjects that each of you will teach or guide the students.  For instance, you may teach English and Writing, another parent may teach Math and Science, and another parent may teach French and Art.  

If you need to work part-time, you may leave your child with the other parents for a certain amount of hours each day and they may do the same with you.  Or, you may work full-time and pay or barter with the other parents to teach/guide most of all of your children’s subjects.  The reason that I said, “teach or guide” is because not all subjects require teaching.  

A new math lesson, for example, may require 15 minutes of presentation and demonstration and the exercises can be completed alone by your student in an additional 45 minutes, with a small amount of guidance.  Similarly, a reading comprehension selection with questions can be completed independently many students, third grade and above.  Also, junior high and high school students should be taught how to learn rather than just memorizing what is taught in lecture format.  At the JH/HS level, well-taught students can follow in-text directions, watch online videos, complete independent research for a majority of their work.

Mixing it Up:

Another approach to home education is to take advantage of local classes and opportunities being offered.  Your city’s major museum may offer a fine arts class for home schooled children, while the Black bookstore may have a Saturday history class.  Many nature centers/arboretums and libraries also have home school offerings.  

Research free and paid home school classes and activities in your city at the beginning of the semester, and you can combine your selections into the daily schedule.  Also check your local YMCA, community center, or parks for swim, martial arts, boxing, soccer, softball, basketball, football, or other athletic training that may interest your child.  

Another important resource to research is musical training in your area.  You can enroll your child in private lessons for any instrument that you choose, and join or form a home schooled children’s band.  Free or low cost language courses are offered through many public libraries or religious facilities as well.  For instance, in Houston, children can learn Spanish or Mandarin Chinese for free through Houston Public Library, French for  a low cost through Houston French Alliance, and or Arabic through local mosques.  In any area with online access, your child can use free resources like Duolingo to learn a foreign language.

Are you already using one or more of these approaches?  Are you planning to incorporate part of all of an approach listed here for the coming school year?  If so, please get back to me and let me know how it works out for you.  Blessings to you and your family!

All Best,

Nikala Asante

 © 2014 Nikala Asante

International Pen Pals

Greetings,

Today, my son received his first letter (via email) from a boy his age in Senegal.  This is the first time that my son has ever had a pen pal, and he is really excited about it.  I have been researching international work exchange (volunteering with a family, business, or NGO in exchange for room and board) and found a sweet homeschooling mom in Senegal who needs help with her children for a semester or so.  If things go well with our children getting to know each other, maybe we will stay with her family for a little while to gain a different experience of the world.  (If you are interested in opportunities like these, visit workaway or  HelpX.)

Benefits of a Pen Pal

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Having a pen pal can help our children to learn more about their selves and about the world.  They can also practice reading, writing, and typing skills in the process.  You can tie in lesson plans on English Language Arts, Geography, and Social Studies easily into your children’s pen pal writing assignments.  For instance, they can learn about the terrain and weather in their new friend’s country, the history, the culture, and the literary classics.  Also, they have fun playing the games and sports that their friend abroad plays.  Best of all, you can try the delicious international foods together!

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Over the next week, my son and I will learn more about Senegal at the library and on the internet so that we can better understand his new friend’s country.

Finding a Pen Pal

If you would like to get your children started with International Pen Pals, there are several sites that can help.

Students of the World: Etudiants du Monde (Students of the World) is a French non-profit association, whose aim and ambition is to open the doors of the world’s cultures to young people. If you are a student, then the website will  propose you pen-friends who are the same age as you, in the countries of your choice. Then, you will be able to discover new cultures, exchange ideas, stamps, postcards, improve your knowledge of a foreign language, and why not decide later to travel there ? The database includes 250,000 pen pals from 220 countries, 4,000 blogs, 7,000 clubs, 2,500 pen pal groups, many forums, educational games, 248 schools from 57 countries, and cultural information about 234 countries & territories (including 234 forums, 532 touristic pictures from 65 countries and 750 “virtual tours” views from several countries).

Global Pen Friends: Global Penfriends Internet Friends Club specialises in Postal and E-mail pen pals from all around the world. Their members are REAL people of all ages, looking for pen friends. Registration and profile submission is free. Their goal is to create a comprehensive listing of people from all over the globe who are interested in communicating with other people, whether it be for friendship, cultural exchange, language, travel or education.  The site is family friendly and developed with Safety in mind. People of all ages are welcome here and can search for new contacts in a safe and friendly environment. All profiles on our system are manually approved for language and content.

My Language Exchange: My Language Exchange is the effort of Helene Cormier and Dan Yuen to help people all over the world learn, practice and become fluent in a foreign language.  Together, they decided to use the Internet to bring the benefits of language exchange practice to people all over the world. In October 2000, MyLanguageExchange.com was launched. This was an online community that has since helped thousands of people find language exchange partners and improve their second language.

Pen Pal Safety:

There are some basic rules that you can follow to keep your child safe when writing to a pen pal.

1. Choose reputable websites.

2. Use Skype or other video chat software to verify that the person you are writing to is a child.

3. Don’t arrange to meet with anyone without having had extensive conversation and doing some of your own research.

4. Never send money to anyone.

5. Don’t respond to requests for sensitive personal information (i.e. copy of your passport, social security numbers, etc…)

The sixth rule here should be HAVE FUN, but I already know that you will do that. :D

I hope that your children have a great time with their new pen pals.  Let me know how it goes!  We will do the same.

All Best,

Nikala Asante

 

Yoruba Names Lesson Plan

Yoruba Names Lesson Plan

Greetings!

I hope that your week is going well.  Today, after a discussion about the meaning of names, I felt inspired to search for a lesson plan about the reverence given to the naming process in Africa.  Sometimes, people ridicule African names because they may be difficult to pronounce.  It is important that we teach our children respect for names, no matter how different that they may sound.

For instance, in Nigeria, Abayomiolorunkoje is one name for a boy from the Yoruba ethnic group.  In America, a boy may be teased for having a name so complex.  However, in Yoruba, the name means, “People wanted to humiliate me, but God does not allow [it]“.

Follow the link for an awesome lesson plan on Yoruba names, appropriate for students 2nd grade and above.  One note: the link to the Smithsonian website within the lesson plan did not work, so you can visit this site (http://www.onlinenigeria.com/nigeriannames/Yoruba.asp) for a list of Yoruba names and their meanings.

This lesson plan can also be adjusted for discussion on Akan day names (http://www.twi.bb/akan-names.php).  The Akan people in Ghana oftentimes name their children based on the days that the children were born.  It would be very simple to have an Akan naming ceremony as part of a unit about Ghana.

Enjoy, and all feedback is welcomed.

All Best,

Nikala Asante

How to Work and Homeschool

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Greetings!

I hope that your week has gone tremendously well.  The topic for today is how to work and homeschool.  My personal situation is a little unique.  I am a single mother, I homeschool, work 2 part-time jobs, and go to school full-time.  First, I will tell you how I am able to do this.  Then, I will present some other options that you can consider.

My hectic schedule works (and pretty well too!) because I organize with other homeschooling parents in my community to teach my son for part of the day, and in return, I teach their children for part of the day.  He also attends piano lessons with another parent and her child while I am at work.  Both of my jobs allow me the flexibility to study at the office; so, I use this time wisely to stay on top of my schoolwork.  Also, one of my jobs, which I work on the weekends with a non-profit organization, allows me to bring my son with me.  He even helps me at work.

The take-away from my set-up is that if you work together with other parents, even if they are just “sitting” for you part of the day, your child(ren) can have a rich homeschool experience.  Also, they get that fun “socialization” component in!

Now, here are some other options to think over:

  • Start a homeschool collective or co-op (while this link is for a Catholic Co-op, I think that the information is relevant for groups of any religion)
  •  Run a website with items for sale
  • Teach English online
  • Work at home as a call center rep
  • Make jewelry (or other craft items) and sell them on Etsy
  • Clean houses or offices part-time (and take your children)
  • Tutoring from home
  • Instrument lessons
  • Become a licensed childcare provider
  • Join a MLM like Avon or Mary Kay and host parties
  • Host an Exchange Student
  • Substitute Teach
  • Website or Graphic Design
  • Pet Sit
  • Make Gift Baskets or Floral Arrangements
  • Become an online educator (for an online K-12 school, for a college/university, or independently for a subject you are an expert in, i.e.: writing a blog, hosting webinars, and doing consultations for that subject)
  • Creating and teaching an online course independently with a site like schoology or coursesites and collecting payment with PayPal

What are other ideas that you have for how to work and homeschool?  Please share!

All Best,

Nikala Asante

101 Ways to Spice Up Your Homeschooling

101 Ways to Spice Up Your Homeschooling

Greetings,

Enjoy these 101 great ideas. We will try #95 this coming week.

Have a great weekend,

Nikala

Where to Send your Children to Summer Camp (or How to Create Your Own)

Where to How to Summer Camp or How to Create Your Own

Greetings,

Now is the time to look for those perfect, affordable summer camps for our kiddos.

Here is a wonderful directory provided by the National Association for Gifted Children to get you started.

Also, if summer camp is too pricey, think about putting together your own “camp”.  For instance, my son loves robotics and computer technology, so we are organizing our own Robo-Tech camp with a few other children using kits from Amazon and free online programs.  Some of the resources that we will be using are:

  • Renewable Energy Resources Textbook/Workbook (free, tvakids.com)
  • Scratch (MIT Computer Programming/Video Game Design Software; free)
  • Erector Multi-Model Construction Set by Erector $22.99 (Includes materials for 6 Models)
  • Elenco Snap Circuits Green – Alternative Energy Kit $43.66 (125 alternative energy projects included)
  • Elenco Electronic Playground 50-in-one $18.71
  • Thames and Kosmos Air+Water Power $32.11 (Includes materials for 15 models)

We will also be gardening, swimming, playing outside, playing chess, visiting museums and workshops, watching films, cooking, and feeding the homeless.  It should be an exciting summer and I am sure that you and your little ones will attend or create a program just as exciting.  If your daughter likes fashion, maybe you can create a two-week fashionista camp where she studies design drawing, color combinations, basic sewing skills, and finishes with a project or fashion show.  Be creative and have fun.

I hope that this was helpful.

All Best,

Nikala Asante

Homeschool Math and Science Resources

Homeschool Math and Science Resources

Greetings,

Today, I would like to share with you a new website created by a dear friend of mine, Deirdre Mimes-Danner.  She is a homeschooling mom with a special passion for math and science.

Deirdre has created a wonderful site for homeschool math and science resources, videos, and books.  While the site is still under construction, there are already many helpful links posted that you can immediately use.

Enjoy!

All Best,

Nikala Asante

Green Belt Movement Curriculum

Greetings,

I hope that your week is going well.  Today, I want to talk about a super heroine of mine.

Dr. Wangari Maathai she was born in a small town in the East African country of Kenya.  Even though it was hard for a girl to get an education in this area, she completed grade school, flew to the USA and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, a Master’s Degree in Biological Sciences, and a PhD in Anatomy.

She used her love for science and nature to start the Green Belt Movement  in 1977.  Women involved in the GBM have planted more than 10 million trees since 1977 which has helped to restore the soil in Kenya after immense deforestation.

Dr. Maathai was the first African woman to earn the Nobel Peace Prize.  She earned this honor for her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy, and peace”.

She received honorary doctorate degrees from 13 universities, in Kenya, the USA, Norway, and  Japan.  She also received over 55 awards in her lifetime, such as the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights from South Africa and the Indira Gandhi International Award for Peace from India.  Dr. Maathai was voted one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine and one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes Magazine. 

Sadly, Dr. Maathai passed away in September 2011.  Fortunately, her legacy continues.  The Green Belt Movement has published a Community Classroom curriculum through PBS including lesson plans, handouts, and videos for grades 9-12 (or ambitious&talented younger students). 

Please make use of this curriculum to expand your students’ social, environmental, and cultural awareness. 

All Best,

Nikala Asante