Thursday, March 31, 2016

Interview with 2016 HEAV Convention Speaker: Kirk Martin

The 2016 Home Educators Association of Virginia's Homeschool Convention is only a little over two months away! If you are anything like me, you probably have been eyeing the convention website to get an idea of which speakers will be sharing this year. One speaker that I'm really looking forward to is Kirk Martin, from Celebrate Calm. He travels all over the country training parents, teachers and educators. He presents practical strategies that you can use to help children deal with conflict and emotion. His presentations provide practical and concrete advice. His son, Casey, oftentimes joins him in his challenging yet fun presentations and will be joining him this June.

To get you even more excited about convention this year, I had the opportunity to interview Kirk Martin! Check out my interview below and be sure to check out his sessions either at the bottom of this post or on the convention website!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

An Awesome Hands-On Language Arts Curriculum for Ages 4-7 {Logic of English Review}

Foundations is a program that is a part of the Logic of English curriculum by Denise Eide. The Foundations books are a complete language arts curriculum for children ages 4-7 and are divided into levels, A, B, C and D. Essentials is a spelling, reading and grammar course for ages eight and older (or can be used with an advanced seven year old). 

Two years ago, I reviewed Foundations Level A and the year before that, Essentials. When I received Level B I thought it would be way to easy for my seven year old. I was certain that he would fly right through and know everything inside and out. I was wrong.  Level B is exactly where he needs to be right now.

Even though he is reading at a second grade level, there are still some times that he misses some basic rules. For example, the silent E. He learned this back in kindergarten and I thought he had mastered it. The problem is, when he is reading a word in context he most oftentimes can figure it out. Reading the word "pine" in the sentence, "he saw a rat next to a pine tree," makes more sense than reading it, "he saw a rat next to a pin tree." In cases like this, he can easily figure out if the word should be read with a short or long vowel sound. But when the words stand alone, I notice that he has a hard time knowing how to read it. 

The reason? He doesn't quite understand the rules. Foundations B helps you to see what your child has already mastered in the English language and what he needs to work on. The colorful workbook helps to keep your child's interest. Each worksheet is short, simple and to the point. Even if several worksheets are required for a lesson, they can be worked on fairly quickly and effectively. Or, you can choose to do only part of each lesson each day and stretch it over a week's time. I did that in Foundations A with both my son when he was six and my daughter at age five because that just seemed to work better for them. In this case, for Foundations B, my second grader is able to work on a lesson a day and is able to grasp the concepts well.

Even though some of the concepts may seem super easy, many children just need that extra review if they used a curriculum in the past that pushed too hard, too fast without slowing down and rehearsing the basics. Slowing down and going over blends and phonograms with fun activities helps your child to stop and think about what they are doing. I have noticed that my son does extremely well in these activities because he is forced to focus. The activities make it easier for him than just having a list of sounds to read like in his previous curriculum. It never seemed to click for him before but now he is doing extremely well. 

I've even noticed that in his reading that he doesn't rush as much as he used to. Since these lessons are presented in bite-sized attainable portions, he doesn't get overwhelmed and shut down. Rather, he engages and excels. In the past, he would have probably rushed through and just try and guess the last two words of the sentence below. He may have read it, "Sam sits on a duck." These lessons have helped him break things down into short sentences, words and sounds so he can figure it out correctly rather than simply guessing and just picking words out of thin air and hoping they are right. 

Foundations B is filled with brightly colored workbook pages, a variety of games and piles of hands- on activities. If you order the complete set, not only will you get both the teacher's manual and workbook but also the game cards, a white board and readers.

The teachers guide is very self explanatory. The whole lesson is scripted for the teacher. There isn't a whole lot of prep work because anything that needs to be cut out is usually done by the student as part of the lesson.

My son said that his favorite parts of lessons were the "board games" and the matching worksheets. Every so often, in the workbook, there will be a full color worksheet with a game board on it. The student cuts out the game pieces and plays along, having fun while reviewing a new skill. His favorite was a space themed game, complete with planets, space shuttles and an astronaut. He loved it. 

The matching worksheets are simple yet fun. Your child reads a sentence and matches it to the correct picture. I originally thought this might be too babyish for him but again it helps him focus on a simple sentence and master it. Apparently he enjoys these activities!

Stay tuned as I share our journey with Foundations C in the near future!

Disclaimer: I received the above product for the purpose of this review. All opinions stated here are my own.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Be Transformed! 2016 Virginia Homeschool Convention

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2016 Virginia Homeschool Convention

Greater Richmond Convention Center

June 9-11, 2016

$79/ family ($69/HEAV Members)

Three years ago I attended my first Home Educators of Virginia Convention and was blown away. I felt like a kid at summer camp. It was refreshing, informative and life changing. Last year I attended as well, but not as an attendee. I worked in a booth helping one of the speakers. This was invigorating in a different way. I wasn't able to attend the seminars or visit the vendors but I still met amazing people and was able to share some of my experiences with homeschooling families from the other side of the table. Whether you go to glean or serve, you will be blessed. 

During one of my breaks last year, I was able to sneak away to the Used Curriculum Sale. After I was in the room for a few minutes one of the volunteers stood up with mic in hand and began to pray. He sincerely prayed that those who came to the sale would be blessed with the materials that they needed, that the Lord would help them find what they came looking for. This spoke volumes to me. It showed me the heart of the convention, the vendors and the speakers was not to make money off poor homeschooling families but to truly bless them and help guide them in the decision that they have made. The same held true in the Exhibit Hall. Each day, before the hall was opened, a prayer was prayed over the vendors. One morning, the man who prayed mentioned that some of the people present made their living from what would be sold at this convention. It's true. It's not as if these people just trying to make a quick buck but some of them invest everything they are into their homeschool friendly business so they can both help others and make a living at the same time. It helped me put things into perspective. These vendors are people and many are mom and pop businesses trying to grow.

2016 is going to be another awesome year. This year's theme is BE TRANSFORMED and there are going to be some amazing speakers!

Some of the people that I am looking forward to hearing from are:

Joel Salatin - Polyface Farms
Kirk Martin - Celebrate Calm
Michael Farris- HSLDA
Sharon Jeffus- Visual Manna
Heidi St. John- The Busy Mom

and so many more!

Shaun Alexander- Seattle Seahawks
Alex Kendrick- War Room, Courageous 
Michael Farris- HSLDA 

Only $79 per family!

Stay tuned, at the end of this month I will be sharing fun activities for the kids at the convention this year. In April, I will be giving away a FULL CONVENTION pass good for you and your whole family!

***Are you on Twitter? VOTE for a convention speaker that you would love to see an interview from!***

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by HEAV. All opinions stated here are my own.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Free or Not Free? That is the Question.

We hit up a local public library recently. I made the mistake of letting my kids roam free and pick out some books to check-out on their own. Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking. I don't give my kids free reign on the internet. Saying, "hey, go ahead and peruse all you want and visit any site that you think you'd might like!" I don't let them just pick out any TV show that they want to watch. Why in the world would I think that books in a government funded facility would be any different?

At first glance I was so proud of the choices that they made. My fourth grader is presently learning about our state of Virginia in history. He chose a few books a few young adult books about Virginia. My second grader was drawn to nature and shark books. Every single book that my daughter chose had to do with horses. All non-fiction. One was an encyclopedia of horses while another was a picture book stating basic facts about different breeds and horse care. 

The next day at home was when they really dived into their books. I began reading a horse book to my daughter only to find evolution a pressing theme. I begin reading the second book, evolution again. My husband and I then looked at all fifteen books that were checked out. All but two of them spoke of evolution. Really? Books about Virginia, about horses and everything in between were pushing the religion of evolution. 

Many thrifty homeschool sites say that you can homeschool for free by using resources on the internet and your local library. I'm sure it's possible but I stand quite weary. If I were only concerned about finding free education for my kids then I might as well send them to public school. Rather, I like to know what they are reading, watching and who is indoctrinating them. What doctrine do I believe would help build a firm and solid foundation in their lives? 

Our family has chosen to build our foundation on the Word of God. Anything contrary to that is placed under serious scrutiny. If there is something taught that goes against the Word of God then as the teacher I set the record straight. But, with children that are so young I certainly do not want to let them fend for themselves in a sea of confusion and contradiction. 

I'm known for being thrifty. I search out deals and I will not pay full price if I know that I can find it cheaper somewhere else. That said, I still set aside a budget for schooling each year. I use this money to buy good, quality, Christian based materials to teach my children. This is an important investment for me. I look for deals, I shop used curriculum sales and even find a decent share of Christian materials at second hand stores. If there is a product that I've researched online and am determined to purchase I always check Rainbow Resource Center first to see if they have it a discounted price.

Check These Creation vs Evolution Resources For Kids!

Disclaimer- This post is sponsored by Rainbow Resource Center. All opinions stated here are my own.