Thursday, August 16, 2012

Downloads and all that wonderful stuff

I admit I am a download curriculum junkie. I have around 100 gigs of downloads everything from workbooks to games. Well if you too are a download junkie you will just die when I tell you what my hubby went an did last night. I was moving my files onto a flashdrive and one file was refusing to be moved. I asked if my teckie hubby would see what he could do. This one file was close to 4 gigs worth of curriculum.I kid you not 2 mins after sitting down at the computer he had some how lost the file. We searched every where . In every file on the computer you name it we search and nothing!!! As bad as I wanted to scream at him I didn't because I could tell he was already beating himself up over losing it. Lucky I was because most of the files were still either in my emails or my download history. I was able to re-download about 90% of the curriculum. It took me all day,lol. Yeah for the stressers that also come along with homeschooling.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Passport to India

We have a geography project coming up in Ovt. with our homeschool group. I asked the kids to vote on which country they wanted to enter into the Geography fair and India won. Alyssa of course being the girly girly started looking into their clothing. We even took a trip Friday to The Global Mall here in Atlanta to see first hand some of what can only be called art work. They amaze me just how detailed and beautiful their clothing is. All be it if you decide to buy any you better have a nice chunk of change. The cheapest one was $100. Douglas set off on the hunt for India food. We all know he will love that. So today while researching with the kiddos I came across a website(which is free BTW) called Passport to India. They will send each kid a passport and suitcase to help raise money for the cause of bringing the Christian scriptures to the India country. It is a really neat website with a video and a devotion for each day. If you are studing India it is a great stop on your journey. A few things we have learned about India so far are.... Child marriage is very common as is arranged marriages. 35% of school aged children are not enrolled in school. Illiteracy is passed down from generation to generation. Many children must work to support the family. Only 2% of Indians are Christian. 800 million practice Hinduism( belief in many gods) and 138 million are Muslim.The Indus Valley is one of the oldest civilizations. It is the 7th largest country. India has the 4th largest reserve of coal in the world.New Delhi is the capital.So far I have to say the art and colors have been my favorite to see. Tomorrow we are planning on watching the movie the story of India and really digging into the differences of the main religions . Should make for some interesting discussions with the   

I wanted to add a link to the website for Passport to India

Friday, August 10, 2012

Homeschool Groups/Co-ops/ Meeting new people

    One of the many intruding things family, friends and even strangers in the checkout line will say to you when they hear you homeschool is what about socialization. First let me say I have seen the Village and I don't want them raising my children. I have never thought of school as the main means to socialize children. Even in the days mine went to public school it was for education not socialization. That being said guess what! Homeschool children just might be some of the most socialized young men and woman out there.While most American children are sitting in a classroom where they are only allowed to ask questions at a certain time and where you get sent to the principles office for talking to your peers, homeschool children are encouraged to ask many questions and to interact not only with their peers but with everyone everywhere they go. Be it the 90 yr old veteran at the senior center who tells of the times he spent during WWII  or the zoologist teaching them about endangered pandas. Now here in my home the socialization issue has been very much like a roller coaster. At first I was very much fine with little interaction outside the home. The way Iseen it then was if I stick her in this safe bubble I won't have to worry as much about all the scary paths she could end up on in life as a teenager. No one would be around to offer her drugs, there would be no way she would end up knocked up at 16, no bullying, no need to wear all the high dollar name brand clothing to fit. You see where I am going and I am sure you have thought these very things a time or two.
     As the time went on I seen her need for friends her own age and I realize my own parenting mistake in keeping her in that bubble. Slowly we connected with other homeschool families and we went on field trips from time to time (once or twice a month), yet it still didn't seem enough. Plus most of these wonderful families I know call my dear friends all lived well over an hour from us. I started to look for families closer to home and for months I really felt like our county most have no homeschoolers( we most live in the most non- homeschooling county in the state). We would go to parks, and be the only ones there. We would go to libraries and yet again no one. Where could they be? Finally I found a facebook group of homeschooling families in my county. If you are looking for homeschool connections let me say let facebook be your friend. I am naturally a bit shy until I get to know someone and so getting to know these families face to face took me sometime. There were so many and I had to find the ones that felt like we could connect on a personal level, find the ones I had common interest with. Over the course of a few months I did find those that share a few interest with me and seemed down to earth. Last night I finally got to meet some of them face to face at our first homeschool planning meeting this yr. with my tummy in knots and my nervous a wreck I but shy Tona in the closet and but on my big girl panties and went to the meeting with a room full of parents I had talked to many times online but did not know them at all in person. Let me say I am so happy I did. I meet some of the most interesting, friendly, down to earth homeschool parents last night. It was a huge success and I already can feel God working and leading us to take part in this homeschool group. They were just what I was looking for not a classroom type co-op were each parent takes turns teaching all the kids a subject , but they were a true socialization group. As Lisa the lady who started the group said it last night we are the party group!! I love that ! We planned park days, talked about field trips, geography fairs, and even Christmas party. We all had a voice in setting in stone a few dates for these events to take place. I also finally meet Kerstin a lady who has been attempting to pull away my shy layers and get me to come to her wilderness classes she puts on at her home on Saturday's. Needless to say tomorrow we will be there learning how to make a solar oven. Yay!! and in two weeks we are going to learn how to use herbs for medicine. She just so happens to have the 411 hook up on a real fossil dig site homeschoolers can go to here in Georgia. I definitely want the kids to experience that one. Those types of adventures that could spark an interest that sets the entire life path of a child.
     Think about all the grand adventures that homeschool children get to take. These once in a life time memories they are making that not only educate them with hands on  experiences but they make life long lasting friendships. It makes your heart break not for those unsocialized homeschoolers but  for all those children sitting in a class right now being told what to think, when to think it, and how to be very much like robots. So in closing yes, we may not get hrs of socialization everyday in a public school class with all it's glory but we do get God centered adventures with amazing friends. We get real life hands on. We get parties and field trips. Heck we even get to dig fossils. I like to see public school beat that one,lol. Just for all the other socialization questions out there let me say if you take the time to look and put your shy self away you will find a world of fun social adventures waiting on your homeschool family.

A list of adventures that most areas have for homeschool families.
1. sports ) yes there are homeschool sports)
2. drama
3. dance
4. swimming
5. youth groups
6. 4-h
7. scouts
8. most museums have home school days each yr
9. capital days
10. free field trips
11. art class
12. robotics class
13. chess class
14. co-ops
15. community projects

16. Prom yes there is even a homeschool prom

The list goes on and on. So you can see homeschool children are in no means lacking socialization. If anything in my opinion most turn out to be very well rounded socialized members of their community. They have learned to not only interact with their peers but people of all ages and walks of life.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fantastic grammar fun

One of my bestie homeschool momma friends turned me on to a great site for learning grammar/parts of speech. I have been searching and searching for a fun interactive way to teach Alyssa grammar. You know me always wanting that outside the box way of learning. Well my friend Melody told me she was using a site called grammopolis with her daughter ,who just happens to be the same age and grade as mine so I figured I would check it out. This site is fatalistic it has books, videos, music, even quizzes all on the parts of speech and it even keeps track of how your child is doing. For you homeschool families with multiple children this is even more bang for your buck. You can sign up to 5 children on your one account and best of all it only cost $3.99 a month. A gallon of milk cost more than that. Shot these days so does a gallon of gas. Don't even get me started on that one. Anyway, if you are looking for a fun interactive way to teach grammar with your kids let me say this site is the way to go. 

Tricks of the Trade (Spelling Words)

Yesterday after it taking an hour for Alyssa to complete her spelling practice it hit me. Tonya Anne Cater! You have done it again! Fallen back into the same old same old of what public schools says you should be doing. Yep! Here I was once again having my 8 yr old daughter do what I had done at 8 yrs old in public school, write those dreaded spelling words 5 times each. She was bored and I was getting frustrated because she had been at it for an hour. So I said put your pencil down please. We moved on to something else. That night I decided to send google working once again for me and see if I could come up with some outside the box ideas for learning them spelling words. I am happy to say google did not let me down,lol. ( This is why I am called the google Queen) I figured how many other momma's and children out there might be just like me looking for a way to perk up the spelling practice.I might as well share some of the tricks I found.

1. invest in a set of rubber alphabet stamps and some colored ink. allow them to stamp out the words.
2. have them take a white crayon on whit paper and write out the words, then take water colors and paint the paper. Watch the words come alive.( I really like this one for Alyssa as she is my artsy child,
3. pass a ball back and forth as you spell the words, if the get it wrong have them do 5 jumping jacks( this burns some energy in the process)
4. something they call step or pyramid spelling. It goes like this, take the word Hello
hello.... you can also do this in the shape of a pryamid
5. use dry erase markers and write the words on windows or mirrors
6. magnetic letters and a magnetic board( a dry erase board will work as well
7. finger paint the words ( who doesn't love finger paint)
8.try color spelling....have them take 3 different colored pencils and spell each letter with a different color
9. This one will add spelling and math together... Give each letter a $ amount..ex.. A-$1,B-$2 and so on the not only spell the words they add the total dollar amount for that word,
10. use stencils to spell out the words
11. Sidewalk chalk this one is perfect on a nice day go out side and allow them to write the words on the driveway with sidewalk chalk

So as you can see I found a good bit of different ways to practice spelling words. I know I hated spelling as a child and I don't want my children to follow in those footsteps so I plan to switch it up from time to time and see what works best for them. Maybe along the way we will come up with some different ideas to add to the list.

Trip to a science museum (Tellus Science Museum)

Last week we met up with our homeschool gang that we lovingly call THE VILLAGE,lol on our first field trip of the 2012-2013 school year. We enjoyed a trip to the Tellus museum in Carterville, Ga. If you have never been it is a wonderful science museum in north Georgia. Tellus has a great amount of hands on areas for the children to experience, from panning for minerals to actually seeing sound vibrations. We love it so much we decided to opt for a family membership to Tellus instead of Fernbank this year.


My part of a book that my homeschool group is making

My part for the book my homeschool group is writing about homeschooling

by Tonya Mahlmeister Cater on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 8:41am ·
Oh homeschooling are you!! Yeah, If you had asked me just a few short years ago if I would every homeschool my children I would have looked at you like you were crazy. I had only known one family in my entire life who homeschooled. They were a kind and loving Christian family or at least I believe they were. You see I knew them when I was like 8 yrs old. We would go and visit them and their whole house was full of books, games, toys, chalk boards (this was way before white boards were around,lol) you name it if it was fun or educational they had it. When I first started thinking about homeschooling my then 2nd grade daughter it was not for reason like religion, or bullies at school, or even that I felt her school was a bad school. NO, it was more the reason that over the years my two oldest children then 15 and 14 had been in public school I had slowly lost faith in the system. More and more I seen the decline in good teachers, lack of books, it even got to the point where one teacher told me the children were not allowed to ask her questions. What! Wait children in schools are not allowed to ask teachers questions. What if they are not getting the concept? She told me they need to get with their peers. So now the other children were expected to do the teachers job. WOW! I came home that night and I said there is no way my little girl is going to that school. I had seen the advertisements for K12 program in Georgia. It was a public school free of charge done at home over the computer. I thought oh this sounds perfect. I decided to enroll her for 2nd grade with the cyber school. I even spent the entire summer watching about 200 videos that the school had posted to learn the system, how to schedule our courses to fit our needs, How to address learning issues. You name it I watched a video about it. We received our books in July and both she and I were excited to get started. The school it’s self did not start for another three weeks so I just kept track of what we had completed and by time the first day of school started we had 15 days of attendance and were well into the 3 months work. I found out real fast that when you are homeschooling just one child you can cover a great bit more material and have fun doing it. By Nov. she had completed the entire yrs. Course work for the cyber school and I found myself at yet another crossroad. Should I stay with the cyber school and only have access to math and language arts for the next grade level or should I take the jump head first into traditional home schooling. I’ll be completely honest I was scared to death to do it on my own. At least with the cyber school I had it all laid out for me and a teacher I could run to if I needed help. It took me about a month of looking into what all it would take to do this on my own. A wonderful friend I had meet through the cyber school had started a facebook page to help other homeschoolers with support and resources she had asked me if I would help her admin the page and I said sure. I never realized then just how much that would change my life.The more people who joined the page and the more I read about homeschool the more I saw myself wanting to teach my children this way. I slowly begain to realize that by homeschooling I could teach my children what I thought was important to know, I could use any curriculum, I had the freedom that most American’s give up everyday to the state they live in. By the first of Dec. I had made the jump I sent in my intent to the county and it was official we were homeschoolers. Real homeschoolers not public schoolers at home but real homeschoolers. I had slowly been collect educational books and materials everything from textbooks to games. I was ready to fully be the mother who instilled a love of learning in their child. By Feb. we had covered yet another entire curriculum. I was blown away by how fast my daughter caught on. Sure we had bad days everyone has bad days from time to time. The point was she was learning, I was learning and even the 2yr old in tow was learning. Best of all we were loving what we were doing. I found my self moving further and further outside the textbooks. We wanted to learn about the first forms of writing so we made our own clay tablets. We wanted to learn the life cycle of a frog so we caught tadpoles. While learning about plants, rocks, and soil we grew a garden. Sure we still read from our textbooks and did worksheets, we even took the test at the end of the chapters. Yet we had the freedom to dig deeper and get our hands dirty in the process. Who doesn’t love playing in the dirt. I started having her keep a journal or what most homeschoolers now call a notebook of everything we did. She would write what she learned and then draw a picture to go with it. Not only did we have a way to show her work and what she learned but we had this beautiful keep sake that both she and I could look back on in years to come. Over the months I found my grove in homeschooling I also found that there is a world of free education out there just waiting for people to use it. I bet you there are a million websites that are free and educational on every possible subject and concept you can come up with. As we posted the websites on our facebook page I started to keep a file with them in it. Slowly more and more homeschool families joined our group and by March we were well over 300 members from all over the world. We all became wonderful friends supporting each other day in and day out. We didn’t just support each other in homeschool but we prayed for sick children, we laughed over a drink which we call cyber girls night in,lol. We meet each other in person and went on field trips with our children together. We became each others backbone, a shoulder to cry on and a life long friend to laugh with. These women have changed my life for the better in so many ways I don’t even know how to truly express it. They call me the village queen because for some unknown reason I seem to have a nack for finding these great resources when every someone is looking for material on a certain concept. I just send google working away for me and within a few minutes I have found enough sometimes way more than enough resources to teach the concept. I laugh about their nick name for me. Never was I the popular one in life more of the outcast always a bit different than the rest , never really fitting in with any group. I felt I had not only found true friends but I found a true calling in life. I found that small way that I could help others on a daily bases. It feels good to help others. It makes you have hope that we can change the world and make this a loving caring place for our children. I started to realize that homeschooling for me was not just about learning to add or read it was about life. When you homeschool you are not just addressing your childs education you are addressing and modeling the whole child. Whole child, what do I mean by that you may ask. I mean that as humans we are not just one aspect we are a physical, mental and spiritual being. When you homeschool you have the chance to model all levels of the being you love so dearly, your child.  Some homeschoolers use the Bible some use pagan text for us we use what ever feels right in our hearts. My children not only learn math, reading, grammar, science, and history, they also learn what I call spiritual work. They learn to meditate, they learn bible stories, they even learn Native American stories. I don’t push one religion on my child because I feel they have to find their own path to GOD. I just give them the skills and knowledge to research all the paths until the find the one that feels right to them. I teach them what I believe and what others believe and I point out how they are different and how they are the same. I have learned a lot about education and about life over the last year of this journey that we call homeschool and I would like to leave you with a list of some of the things that may help you also on your journey.

  1. follow your heart, trust that as a mother you always have been and always will be a teacher in every since of the matter.
  2. don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Life is all about learning from the day we are born to the day we die. It doesn’t always have to be done with a textbook.
  3. Let google be your friend, there is a world of knowledge out there all you have to do is go look for it.
  4. FREE! FREE! FREE! It does not have to break your bank account to homeschool there is more educational material available than you could ever use to educate your child. Libraries, websites, even companies that will send you free material.
  5. SUPPORT you will feel much more supported in your journey if you have that support. Join a homeschool group that fits your family. Get your family  involved. Have grandma teach a cooking lesson, have grandpa read them a book or tell a story about when he was young.
  6. Give them time to be children, life should not always revolve around what lesson comes next or how they scored on a test. Play with your children , they will be grown in a blink of the eye.
  7. Don’t compare your children to the level of others, address their individual needs at the level they are on. Who cares if they are above or below level. If you have a child that is above in reading then teach them from that level if they are a grade level below in math teach them from that level.
  8. Homeschooling should not be stressful it should be fun. If you are the child needs a break take it. You have 365 days in a yr and you only need to teach on 180 of those days.
  9. Don’t move on until they get it or master it as I say. Trust me even if you don’t finish the textbook in the yr you will be doing them a much better services allowing them the time to master a concept than you would forcing them to move on before they truly understand it. This is homeschool not public school you have the freedom to spend as much time on a concept as they need.
  10. Play is an important part of the brain development , don’t think they are not learning when they play because they are.

In closing I just want to say I hope if you make the jump that you are as blessed in the journey of homeschooling as I have been. I promise you I have not meet one single homeschool family that regrets their decision. They all feel they have done what is best for their children. As the months turn into years it will all be worth the time and effort you put into it and you will look back one day wishing for a  way to turn back the clock.

                                           By: Tonya Cater
                                                Dallas, G

First few weeks of yr two

Well I made the jump from homeschooling one child to homeschooling two this year. Yep! The 10th grader is staying home. Why? Oh that list goes on and on but just a few reason are 1. he was not being challenged 2. He was bullied(yes bulling in high school is a real and serious issue) 3. I wanted to be more involved with him on a daily bases to try my hardest to steer him in a better direction than where I felt he was heading. There is a huge difference from homeschooling a 3rd grader than homeschooling a high school child. You can't even imagine the fear I felt when I made this choice. Would I be able to pull this off? It has been 20 years since I even attempted to do an algebra problem.  Would I be able to find enough material to keep him challenged and interested. I didn't want to go the normal read the chapter take the test route. I wanted to foster the love and adventure of learning in him. Hoping it is not to late to bring that out of him I spent the entire summer searing curriculum and educational websites and I came up with what I feel is a pretty good course load.  
!. Mythology
2. Intro to Healthcare
3.United States Government
4.Medical term.
5 Algebra II
6. Literature 
7.World History
8.Home Ec/ Life Skills
10. Test Taking Skills

We are now into week 4 of this years grand journey together and so far I have to say I'm so very happy I made that jump. I see such a difference in him. He is not depressed any more, he is kinder to his younger brother and sister, and he has started to enjoy learning again. With 3 years left in his high school years I hope I still have the time to get him on the right track and will be able to help him set some life goals and see him reach them.