Monthly Archives: October 2010

Latest Homeschool Showcase is Up!

image Weird Unscoialized Homeschooler just posted  Homeschool Showcase #58. It showcases lots of great resources and posts from all sorts of blogs. It is a great way to learn about new blogs.

Labels: High School
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A B See Photo Meme – F is for Flamingo Chick


Hard to believe this guy will be tall and pink soon!


Labels: Wordless Wednesday
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

50 Great Ted Talks for Homeschoolers

Bachelor of Science just posted an excellent compilation of TEDTalks. The post title says it all, “50 Awesome and Inspiring TED Talks for Homeschoolers”. If you’re not familiar with TEDTalks, they are talks from some of the brightest minds of our times. People come from all over to meet and some select individuals give some amazingly motivational talks about all sorts of subjects. Here is a better description directly from the TED website:

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize….

….On, we make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free. More than 700 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. All of the talks are subtitled in English, and many are subtitled in various languages. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted….

My personal favorite TEDTalk is titled “Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight“. It is about:

Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one. An astonishing story.

I cannot tell you how many times I reflect on this talk, probably at least once a week still and I watched it when it was originally posted back in 2008. I embeded it for you up above, just because it’s awesome and I can. BTW, that is a real human brain that she is holding, so you might want to close your eyes during that part if you are squeamish.

Labels: High School
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschooling High School – Transcripts

MP900439417[1]My oldest daughter, who is also my second child, and shall henceforth be known as “Secunda”, is in the process of applying to colleges for next year. It is a stressful process, rife with potential for missing paperwork. Some schools have tried to make the process more efficient, by using the Common Application. Thus far, none of the schools that Secunda is applying to are requiring the Common Application. Regardless of whether it is via the Common Application or not, if your child applies to college, you will most likely need to produce a transcript.

In addition to the actual one-page transcript, you will most likely need to provide a list of course descriptions. I was very fortunate to have been advised early in Secunda’s high school career to start keeping track of her courses and course descriptions as we went along. It is MUCH easier to write a course description while the course is fresh in your mind, than to try to do all of them your child’s senior year.

I am going to be honest and say that I mostly “borrowed” course descriptions from other places and modified them to suit our needs. I took some descriptions from our local high school’s website and some from the site for the community college that Secunda has attended her last two years of high school. Oklahoma Homeschool also has a good list of elective course descriptions.

Course descriptions usually are brief, but some people find that they need to make them quite detailed in order to adequately convey the child’s learning experience. Traditionally, people try to use terms and titles that would be familiar to college admissions personnel, but sometimes the unusual may be a better representation of your student’s homeschool experience and may actually grab the attention of the admissions officer. If your child is hoping to go into college athletics, I highly recommend that you check with the NCAA, as they have strict rules about transcripts (i.e. they may require “English 9” and you may have been planning to call it “American English” – here is a great blog post about it). A course description should include a course name, brief description, and list of texts and other learning materials used. The description may denote if the course is an honors-level course, but unless it was an accredited AP course, you may not use the term “AP”. Methods of evaluation may also be included in the course description.

Some schools also want reading lists, which is simply a list of books that your student read while in high school. Once again, it is easier to keep a record as you go, than to try to remember four year’s worth of reading during your child’s senior year.

In addition to a reading list and course descriptions list, you should also keep records of all extra-curricular activities that your child participates in. This would include outside sports, volunteer positions, clubs, internships, apprenticeships, exceptional travel experiences, business ventures, unusual hobbies, and courses that are included on the transcript for some reason. This can get a bit complicated for homeschoolers. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between what should be counted as a class, what should be counted as a extra-curricular activity, and what should not be counted in regards to college transcripts. As an example let’s say that your student is doing swimming. If your student is taking lessons or being coached, but not competing, then you might want to count swimming as a PE class. If your student is swimming competitively, you would probably call it an extra-curricular activity. If your child is swimming laps in your personal pool for exercise, you would not want to list that for a college application. Another example would be if your child did scrapbooking, you would not include that, but if your child sold his scrapbooking  templates as a business, you could include that as an extracurricular activity. I try to think of how the activity would be classified if my child went to public school and go from there.

In regards to a transcript, their are software programs that will make them for you, but I haven’t seen one that I felt generated a transcript that looked professional enough for college applications. Once again, I “borrowed” heavily from the internet in creating our transcripts. There are several samples on the internet, some of which you can save to your computer and modify:

  • The HSLDA has several good transcript templates that you can save and modify to meet your own needs
  • Oklahoma Homeschool also has good transcript templates that you can save and modify
  • Bright Kids at Home has two transcript templates that you can use (towards the bottom of the page)
  • Covenant College has several samples that you may edit (scroll down towards the bottom of the page)
  • Mary Baldwin College has an editable transcript

A transcript usually includes:

  • Name, address, and phone number of your homeschool
  • Student name, address, and phone number
  • Student birthdate
  • Student social security number
  • Course titles (note all classes taken outside of our homeschool with a symbol and note explaing)
  • Grades with grading scale and cumulative GPA (if you decide to give grades)
  • Number of high school credits
  • Graduation date
  • Standardized test scores
  • Projected senior course schedule (classes not completed by the time the transcript is mailed) can be included with the other course and a note that the course is “In Progress” or included in their own section
  • Awards and honors
  • Signature, name, and position of a “school official”

When you go to compile your transcript, there are multiple ways you can list your student’s courses. You can list them by school year, with each subject included each year. You could also list them by subject, noting the grade that they were taken. Or, if your student was less traditional, you may have to come up with yet another means of listing them. I have used a different way for my eldest (“Primo”) and Secunda as they had such different educational experience.

Some schools insist on seeing “official” in the title of the transcript. Other schools require embossed seals, which you can buy here. I also printed our transcripts on fancier paper to make it look even more professional.

Here are some other online tools that may be helpful to you:

A final note that I’d like to leave you with is that in the long run, you need to do what is comfortable for you and your child. Some people greatly object to giving “Mommy grades” and making transcripts that conform to public school standards. Other people just want to do what it takes to get accepted to certain universities. Only you can decide where you lie. Secular Homeschooling Magazine published a motivational story about a mother that managed to successfully deal with college bureaucracy, but only because she knew her rights and wasn’t willing to be bullied.

What about you? Have you done a transcript yet? If so, do you have any advice for other readers? If so, please include it in the comments below.

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Wrapping up Our Week – October 15, 2010

WrappingUpWeekBirdGohan’s week went okay. He missed some classes this week, because he and my 6th child husband were wrestling and he got hurt (they broke my husband’s finger last week). He also decided that he doesn’t like one of his swimming classes, so we will try to replace that with another PE class.

  • Outside classes – swimming, PE, art, and Hands-on Math
  • Language Arts –
    • Literature – We are still reading The Graveyard Book. I mentioned last week that this book is a bit gruesome. Of course, one would one expect from the title. Anyway, it ends up the author also wrote Coraline, which I have never read, but have heard can be a bit disturbing. I must say that both Gohan and I are really liking this book, it is heading into “hard to put down” territory. basically, we read until either my voice or Dora’s patience gives out.
    • A Workbook for Dyslexics continues to go well. He is studying er, ir, ur, or, and ar words.
    • Growing with Grammar continues to go wonderfully! It is nice to have one subject with no hang-ups.
    • Getty Dubay Italic – I have actually noticed a major improvement in Gohan’s handwriting this week! So I guess this system does seem to be working for him.
    • Vocabulary – I still need to figure out what we will use for this. I tried Latin again this week, but it was a flop. To give you a look into the world of homeschooling a child with dyslexia, I will tell you what happened:
      • Me (after spending about ten minutes reading and translating the Latin dialogue) – “So what do you think ‘sum’ means?”
      • Gohan – “Hummmm…. I don’t know.”
      • Me – “Well, do you see how they all say ‘sum’ before they say what they are…”
      • Gohan – “Wait a minute! Is this in another language?!?!”
      • Me (sighing, putting the book away) – “Never mind dear, never mind.”
    • Composition – I still need to figure this out also
  • Math – We are still using Singapore 6A – Standards Edition. It is going okay. It still seems like they do not cover many of the workbook topics in the textbook. Gohan did graphing today and that was very difficult for him, partly because they had him graphing decimals on a graph with teeny tiny lines that made ours eyes go buggy.
  • Science – Awakening Wonder is going smoothly. We did last week and this week’s labs this. We’re studying the states of matter.

Montessori Methods 003

  • Social Studies – I finally resolved our social studies dilemma. Gohan is now studying geography, using The Trail Guide to World Geography from Geography Matters. I took him down a level, because he does not remember any of the geography he has done in the past. Also, the middle level involves too much research for him. He can use an index, but it takes him about 1/2 hour to look things up in the index. Plus, the whole concept of figuring out where things are in a book is pretty alien to him (why bother when you can find it in .2 seconds on the internet – read with dripping sarcasm). Also, his fine motor skills are not advanced enough to do all of the map work that the intermediate level calls for.
    I was very happy with how the primary level worked for him. He has been able to answer some of the questions on his own and find the other answers fairly easily (even though meany mom makes him actually write the answers himself). We did a sort-of experiment for it also, which he really liked. We blew up a balloon and traced some shapes we had made onto the balloon. Then we let out the air, snipped the ends and spread out the balloon like a flat map. The shapes distorted some. Most notably, the square became a rectangle. It was a good way to illustrate the distortion that can occur with map projections.

Montessori Methods 001image

Labels: Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Tot Time Weekly Wrap-Up October 15, 2010

I’ve decided to do the weekly wrap-up for Gohan and Dora as two separate posts since their arrangements are completely different due to the ten-year age gap between them.

Her week looked like this:

Outside classes – It didn’t take long…. Dora refused to go to Kindermusik this week, announcing that she wanted to stay home. So I am just going to follow her lead and not sign her up for any more outside classes. In addition, I happened to stumble on this quote, while looking at the Ambleside website. It is from Charlotte Mason and it got me reflecting all week on how much toddlers should socialize with each other:

 image From 2-5 avoid the over stimulation of too much time with age mates. She says that ‘…the mixed society of elders, jrs., and equals, which we get in a family…” gives the right mix of rest and individual development. Be careful not to supplement nature so much that we supplant her and ‘deprive her of the space and time to do her own work…” page 191

Fieldtrips – We went on three field trips this week. Firstly, we went to see the Wiggles in concert. Unfortunately, it was a circus theme and as soon as the ringmaster with clown makeup came out…well, that was that. Dora started screaming bloody murder, “Leave! Leave” I got her to stay long enough to see all of the Wiggles actually come on stage, but that was it.
The next day, we went to the local salmon hatchery. Dora was really into watching the fish. I was very happy that they didn’t scare her as they are really large and come right up to the windows (and look a bit scary to me, but I kept that to myself). We completed the Autumn #7 Outdoor Hour Challenge while we were there. I was fascinated by the fry, which were zipping around so fast that we were never able to really see them. We also watched some of the recommended You Tube videos and looked at and contemplated coloring one of the salmon coloring pages.
Finally, we went to the Japanese Gardens at the Seattle Arboretum. It’s a beautiful place to walk around, especially during the autumn when all of the leaves are so pretty. We were able to buy some food to feed the koi, which she loves to do.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Tot School – Recently, some other homeschooling blogs have greatly inspired by to change my approach to “educating” Dora. I have been looking into the Charlotte Mason method for Dora, which is part of why I have really tried to encourage her love of the outdoors. I also have long been into the Waldorf approach, but none of my other kids have had the slightest interest in anything Waldorfian (yeah, I made that word up). Dora seems more likely to be interested in a Waldorf approach, but I have become much more interested in Montessori methods. When I first started looking into Montessori, back when my eldest was this age (17 years ago), the internet wasn’t what it is today and I really didn’t find much information, except a few old Montessori books at the library. There was also a catalog for homeschoolers (Michael Olaf’s or something like that), but Montessori toys were so expensive that I just gave up on it). Now, they are much more reasonably priced. More importantly, however, there are so many brilliant bloggers out there with wonderful ways of applying Montessori methods without spending a fortune!
Tot SchoolSo I tried applying Montessori methods to our week. I also am trying to use the Tot School approach of having dedicated trays for Dora. My reasoning is that I think we she looks at her toys all day, every day, she really doesn’t “see” them and they aren’t so special. So I am going to put many of her toys away and bring three or four things each week. I am also going to set up some other Montessori activities to mix in. Everything will be purposefully laid out to encourage her to learn a particular skill, but obviously she can play with them however she wants.

I also am hoping to start having a theme of the week, which I would love to tie into the Outdoor Hour Challenge that we are doing each week, but that may be pushing things on my part, organizationally speaking.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         We started this week off, with me trying to stick to a pumpkin theme. We made pumpkin pie playdough, which Dora really loved. She made pretend pies and loaves of bread, plus used her small metal knives and forks to cut and serve the dough (plus, don’t tell anyone, but some of the teens even enjoyed playing with this dough).

We also tried some of the pumpkin printables,  but the only one she liked was this set of pumpkin life cycle cards from Montessori for Everyone (I think I mentioned before that she really likes cards). I got some autumn-themed books from the library. The only one that seemed to interest her was The Life Cycle of an Apple. She really prefers books with real pictures, as opposed to drawings. Plus, she was very excited about the bee in the book. She has a thing for bees and we had just been talking about the fact that bees eat the nectar, but carry pollen on them also. So the picture of the bee was nice since it had pollen on it.
Montessori Methods 007
In an effort to be Montessori-like, I did get out her nice ceramic dishes, which  I purchased from Ikea (here and here). I set the dishes out on an oil cloth mat with a big bucket of water, a toothbrush, and some towels. That kept her busy for about 30 minutes, which is an incredible amount of time for her.

We did quite a bit of cooking together. After making the playdough, she decided that she likes cooking. She likes cleaning up even more! Too bad that won’t last!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

preschool corner  We Play

Labels: Toddlers, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Astronomy for Homeschoolers

I just learned about an exciting new resource, Home School Astronomy. I’ve included their You Tube presentation above, but they emphasize that the actual curriculum presentations are of higher quality video. Their site states:

Each Astronomy Teaching Presentation comes with:

  1. A script for you to read from as your student views the presentation.
  2. Discussion questions throughout the presentation and at the end.
  3. Lesson Objectives, Anticipatory Sets and Warm-up Activities, Cross-Curricular and Extension Activities.

You can see a sample of the written component of the curriculum here.

Labels: Curriculum, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Blog Awards Nominations Are Open

It’s time! You can nominate your favorite blogs, there are lots of categories to choose from, so you don’t have to choose just one blog.


Labels: High School
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

I’ve Joined a Blog Hop!


I’m a bit late with posting this, as it is supposed to post on Sunday (I think), but better late, than never.

Labels: High School
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A B See Photo Meme – K is for Koi



I’m also linking to Wordless Wednesday at Mama to 4 Blessings

Labels: Wordless Wednesday
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff