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Online homechooling uses technology to do what we used to have to do alone. Jubilee makes online homeschooling infinitely easier and more successful. Online homeschooling students are happier and learn more! Online homeschooling parents have more time to enjoy their children.


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  Christian Home School Program Blogs

Reference Works for the Homeschool


Mimi Rothschild
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 10:00

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-by Mimi Rothschild

The days when every home had an encyclopedia are past. The days when new computers came with an encyclopedia on CD-ROM are just about past. And yet, there are times when we need reference works for our homeschools.

For one thing, it can be faster to go directly to a reference work, whether paper or online, and look things up than to use a search engine and sort through the search results. Using the same reference work repeatedly over a period of time increases your speed with that book, too, as you learn how to use it well.

For another, the internet is a free and open system, and not every source of information is equally up to date and authoritative. Even checking the spelling of an item can give us false information – or information that isn’t false, but is just inappropriate. The British and American spellings of English words are both correct, but they’re not both appropriate in all situations. A quick Google search can leave you with the wrong information for your purposes, where using a trusted reference work can get the data for you without interrupting your workflow.

So what reference works should your schoolroom contain?

A dictionary Having a physical dictionary on hand for quick spelling checks and double-checking a word is a big help, especially if you don’t always do your schoolwork at the computer or even in the house. A good dictionary will also include punctuation and grammar rules that can be very hard to find quickly online. Think, too, about bookmarking some specialized dictionaries: a science dictionary, a visual dictionary (these consist of labeled pictures showing the names of all the parts of a complex item or scene), a picture dictionary for young children, and translating dictionaries for languages you study are some examples of useful specialized dictionaries.
A thesaurus The thesaurus is frequently misused. Since these reference books just give a list of related words without specifying the nuances of meaning that make them different from one another, thesauri are not good for learning new words. They’re great for reminding students of words when they need to add some variety to their writing, or for helping kids find other options when they can’t think of just the right word. Go for an online version, and encourage kids to use the dictionary to get a clearer idea of the exact meaning of a word.
An atlas An out-of-date map or atlas is worse than no map or atlas at all, so this is another case is which online resources can be great. Just make sure to check when they were most recently updated. A historical atlas shows where the borders of countries used to be, and where groups of people lived in the past. This can be an extremely helpful resource, but finding this data online can be very time-consuming. Consider buying a hard copy of this resource.
A gazetteer A gazetteer is a geographical reference, giving information about places around the world. While you’ll probably rely on your history textbooks and online resources for most of the names and dates you need to look up, having a gazetteer either on your bookshelf or bookmarked can be a big help in quickly identifying the places that show up in your history and social studies lessons.
A Bible Concordance You may prefer to bookmark this essential reference, since online versions often allow comparison of multiple translations, and quick navigation from one verse to another.

Beyond these basics, you’ll probably find that there are some particular works you need because of the kinds of study you do. Whether it’s a Chilton’s guide to a car you’re working on, an HTML desk reference, or a collection of great quotations, anything that you look up several times each week deserves to be on the bookshelf or in your favorites list on the computer.

Not only will you have the references on hand when you need them, but you’ll also be teaching your students how to check information quickly, and the value of doing so. This is a long-lasting advantage.

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Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of LearningByGrace.org the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.



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Understanding Reading Levels


Mimi Rothschild
Thursday, 13 November 2008 15:52

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-by Mimi Rothschild

You’re at the library, and your darling child runs to you with a wonderful book she just found. She loves the picture on the cover, and she’s excited about reading it, but how can you be sure it’s at the right reading level for her?

It’s great when there’s a reading level number on the book. You can sometimes find these codes on the back cover at the bottom, or on the front, in a top corner. Unfortunately, these numbers aren’t uniform. One series of books will call their books levels 1, 2, and 3 while another calls the same levels “beginning,” “step one,” and “step two.” It can be useful to work through a series, since the books will consistently get more difficult as they move through the levels. When you’re mixing series, don’t rely on the numbers, because there’s no reason to expect them to match.

Books with numbers like “4.3” are more consistent. This generally means the third month of fourth grade. But there really isn’t a consistent definition of what a fourth grader reads. Your students may read more easily or less easily than the hypothetical kids those numbers are designed for. The good thing about this system is that if your child reads one book marked 2.6 comfortably, then he can probably read another one with the same ranking just as easily, even if it’s not in the same series or from the same publisher. Then you can move up to the next number, and the next, with confidence.

A great rule of thumb when there are no reading levels on the book is the Four Word Rule. Have your child read one page aloud. If she stumbles on or doesn’t recognize four or more words, then that book is too hard. Have her choose another one, and remember the more difficult one for the future.

If your child’s heart is set on reading a book that seems too hard or too easy, consider trying it anyway. When it comes to books that are too easy, consider that you probably don’t relax with Fyodor Dostoevsky every evening. Sometimes we don’t need a challenge. Reading for pleasure is an important part of adult life, and kids should develop that habit early.

The book that’s too hard? Let your child work diligently on a few pages, and then read some of the wonderful and challenging book aloud for him to enjoy. Later, let him read some more on his own. Learning to read is hard work, but the rewards are worth it. Shared reading can help kids get that lesson.

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Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of LearningByGrace.org the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.



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The Math We Use Every Day


Mimi Rothschild
Wednesday, 29 October 2008 16:12

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-by Mimi Rothschild

Some of our students love math. Numbers are their friends, and they get excited about things like the Pythagorean theorem. Some of our students balk at studying math, and tell us they’re going to use calculators anyway, so they don’t need to know all that stuff and can they please do their art lessons instead?

Both groups of students can benefit by getting down to earth and hooking their math lessons up to the real world.

Include your children in these daily math experiences, and you may see your reluctant mathematicians blossom into enthusiasm, while your math whizzes get new appreciation for the practical value of their beloved subject.

• We use algebra for planning. When you pull some cash out of your pocket for that drive-through meal between soccer and play practice, you have to use the amount of money you have, the cost of each burger or taco, and the number of people in the car to calculate how many you should order. When you agreed to this child’s soccer team and that child’s drama troupe in the first place, you had to figure out whether it would be possible to get everyone to the right place at the right time. Use manipulatives or equations to work out these problems, and help your kids get in the habit of doing these kinds of calculations.

• We use percentages and estimation for shopping. In order to stay in our budgets at the grocery store or mall, we have to keep track of what we put in the basket, and then most of us must mentally add on a certain percentage for sales tax. Let your kids take over this task on all your shopping trips, and you’ll be amazed how skilled they’ll get.

• We use basic operations for budgeting time and money. Working out a household budget, the budget for a vacation or holiday, or the schedule for a busy day can use all the basic operations. Let kids get in on the calculations for the family, or for their own budgets and work schedules. Even very young children can join in on this when they figure up what time the family can play a board game together, considering the time dinner is served and how long it takes to clean the kitchen.

• We use fractions and measurement for household tasks. We measure cups and spoons and fractions of cups and spoons when we bake cookies. We measure inches and yards and fractions of both when we cut the fabric for a quilt or the lumber for a woodworking project. We even have to add and multiply and subtract and divide measurements and fractions when we double a recipe or calculate yardage. Getting to eat the cookies or join in the crafty fun is motivation for the kids to help with the calculations, too.

Why not keep a list of all the math skills your family uses in real life? Post the list on the family bulletin board and add to it all year, or check things off in the index in your math book. Your student will be amazed at how useful math really is!

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Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of Learning By Grace, Inc. the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.



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Choosing a Computer for Your Homeschool


Mimi Rothschild
Saturday, 11 October 2008 10:40

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-By Mimi Rothschild

Whether you find that your homeschool needs conflict with the use of the family computer for work or play, you have enough students that you feel the need for a second computer, or you’ve had your computer for so long that you just need a new one, there comes a time in the homeschool career when you need to buy a new computer.

How can you choose the best one for your needs?

“Your needs” is the important phrase there. It is possible to pay for features that you won’t use, or to end up feeling frustrated with your new machine. Before you shop, spend some time thinking about your needs.

• You watch online videos and lessons. You’ll not only want to be sure to have as much memory, or RAM, as possible (for speed and smoothness) and a good video card, but also a good set of headphones so students can comfortably watch lessons without disturbing others, and possibly also sound cards and speakers that allow all students to listen and watch together.
• You use the internet for research. Make sure you get the fastest processor for your money. Graphics cards, hard drive space, and software bundles aren’t so important if this is your main use of the computer. Instead, go for speed – and watch for deals that include a printer so you can print hard copies of the information you find.
• You use the computer to produce papers, web pages, and art projects. You may not need speed, but make sure you have enough memory for all the programs you want to install, and hard drive space enough to store large projects. Bypass the DVD burners for software bundles, but only if they include programs you really need, and are really less expensive than buying the programs individually once you subtract the programs you don’t need.
• You like to work in lots of different places. If it’s important for little brother to do lessons at big brother’s soccer game, in the car while traveling, or at dad’s office, then go for a laptop. If you stay in the schoolroom till it’s time to go out and play, then a desktop machine will give you more for your money.

Computers are becoming more and more affordable, but you still have choices about where to put your dollars. The clearer your ideas about how you want to use your new machine, the better your stewardship can be.

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Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of Learning By Grace, Inc. the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.



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Frequently Asked Questions on ADD/ADHD


Mimi Rothschild
Thursday, 1 November 2007 08:58

2 Comments

By Mimi Rothschild

Below is another great article I found about ADD/ADHD.  If your not familiar with ADD/ADHD then please read these frequently asked questions so you can easily identify if your homeschooling child has it or so you can better meet your student’s learning needs.  If you are a homeschooling parent of a child with ADD/ADHD I’d love to hear about your experience.


Please provide an overview of attention deficit disorders.Attention deficit disorder is a syndrome characterized by serious and persistent difficulties in the following three specific areas:

  • 1. Attention span.

  • 2. Impulse control.

  • 3. Hyperactivity (sometimes).

ADD is a chronic disorder that can begin in infancy and extend through adulthood, having negative effects on a child’s life at home, school, and within the community. It is conservatively estimated that 3 to 5% of our school-age population is affected by ADD. Even though the exact cause of ADD remains unknown, research shows that ADD is a neurologically-based medical problem. There is no one “test” for determining if a person has this disorder. An accurate diagnosis requires an assessment conducted by a well-trained professional – usually a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, child psychiatrist, or pediatric neurologist. (From ERIC EC Digest E569, Teaching Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders).

What information is available on legal issues and attention deficit disorder?

Most students with ADD are served in the general education classroom. Some students may receive services under the rules and regulations of either Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The IDEA defines as eligible only students who have certain specified types of disabilities and who, because of one of those conditions, need special education and specially designed instruction. Section 504 protects all qualified students with disabilities, defined as those having any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities including learning. Section 504 covers all students who meet this definition, even if they do not need to be in a special education program. It is important for classroom teachers and other professionals who work with these students to understand the classroom modifications and accommodations that can assist these students. (From Section 504 and the ADA Promoting Student Access: A Resource Guide for Educators. Council for Exceptional Children, Reston, VA).

What can you tell me about the use of Ritalin and other medications in the treatment of ADD? What are some alternatives to medication?

No cure or “quick fix” exists to treat AD/HD. The symptoms, however, can be managed through a combination of efforts. management approaches need to be designed to assist the child behaviorally, educationally, psychologically, and, in many instances, pharmacologically. Medication has proven effective for many children with AD/HD. Most experts agree, however, that medication should never be the only treatment used. Many parents and teachers have heard that mega-vitamins, chiropractic scalp massage, visual/ocular motor training, biofeedback, allergy treatments, and diets are useful treatments for AD/HD. However, these treatments are often experimental, and advocates and parents need to become informed consumers and exercise caution when considering such treatments. (From NICHCY’s briefing paper on ADD).

I think my child is gifted. My child’s teacher says he might have an attention deficit disorder. Is this possible? Where can I get information on children who are gifted and might have an attention deficit disorder?

During the past five years, an increasing number of gifted children have been identified or diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity. This dramatic increase is somewhat disturbing, and has been explained in many different ways including greater awareness on the part of educational professionals and improved diagnostic techniques. However, ADD in gifted students is difficult to assess because so many of the behavioral characteristics are similar to those associated with giftedness or creativity. A child who is gifted may have ADD. Without a thorough professional evaluation, including a physical examination by a physician, it is hard to tell.



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Seven Tips to Help Students with Attention Deficit Disorder


Mimi Rothschild
Friday, 19 October 2007 15:06

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By Mimi Rothschild

Take some time to read this great article about helping students with Attention Deficit Disorder. Included are seven solid strategies that parents and teachers should start implementing for students with ADD.

As all good teachers know, every student has unique interests, abilities, and learning styles. In a successful classroom, this individuality is respected. In fact, teachers use what they know about each individual to help students learn. This same care and respect can help the growing number of students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) overcome some of the educational challenges that they face.

Distinguishing ADD from the normal range of childhood activity is difficult and requires the help of a trained professional. There is no cure for ADD. However, you can use strategies like the seven below to help students with ADD find success in your classroom.

  1. Establish a calm, structured classroom

    Set up regular routines and clear, consistent rules. While this classroom structure need not come at the expense of creativity or excitement, students with ADD are usually most comfortable in classrooms where procedures, expectations, and limits are explicit.

    Provide a “stimuli-reduced study area” in a quiet, low-traffic area of the classroom. Encourage students to use it. To learn more about setting up this study space, go to KidSource Online.

    Seat students with ADD away from distractions and close to you. Younger students who have trouble staying in their own spaces can benefit from clear physical boundaries, such as their own table or a box marked on the floor with colored tape.

  2. Always be clear and concise when giving instructions

    Repeat yourself! Students with ADD flourish in classrooms where reminders and previews are the norm. Be sure that students know what to expect, and give them frequent updates.

    Maintain eye contact when giving verbal instructions and make sure that students understand the instructions before they begin the task. You may want to have students repeat directions back to you.

    Simplify complex instructions, and break large tasks into a series of smaller, more manageable parts. Provide older students with written instructions for multistep projects. Review these instructions orally to be sure that students understand.

    Use non-verbal cues to communicate with the students; for example, quiet the class by raising your hand or blinking the lights. Give private cues when students are off-task, like sending a signal to re-focus by placing your hand on the shoulder of a chatting or distracted student. If a student is struggling with written instructions, print simple, easy-to-understand icons in the margins of the page in order to draw attention to key points.

  3. Help students to become better organized

    Provide students with an easy-to-use assignment log. In this log, clearly list the day’s assignments on a clear, standardized homework schedule. Be sure to include a checklist of all books and supplies that students will need to complete the assignments. If possible, older students should make these homework schedules on their own. Remind all students to consult this notebook at the end of each day and to make sure they understand the assignments.

  4. Take advantage of technology

    Encourage students to do writing assignments on computers or word processors that have a spell-checking feature. Students can also use hand-held, computerized spellers. Of course, these aids should not replace good, comprehensive training in these basic skills. However, for projects that emphasize content mastery, technology can be a very valuable tool! Students who can demonstrate their knowledge without worrying about spelling or handwriting can feel pride in their accomplishment and enjoy a great boost in self-esteem.

  5. Give frequent and specific praise

    Be sure to tell students how much you value them. Praise all good behavior and outstanding academic performance or improvement in front of classmates or in private. Be specific – tell students exactly what they accomplished!

    For example:

    • “Great job, Leila! You raised your hand before you answered the question!”

    • “Thank you for washing your paintbrush and putting it back where it belongs, Juan. You really listened to my directions!”

    • “What a clean desk! You are very organized today, Matt.”

 

  1. Reward success in the classroom by:

    • Distributing small prizes, like stickers.

    • Adding checkmarks or stars to a prominently displayed chart.

    • Giving successful students firm handshakes and bright smiles.

    • Telling students that you are proud of them!

 

  1. Share good news with family members

    Tell family members about their children’s accomplishments. Don’t limit home-school communication to difficult periods or crisis situations.

    Give younger students a daily home-school “report card.” Encourage them to keep cards in their assignment logs and to share them with their parents. Use this report card to describe students’ achievements and to ask for information or assistance.

    There are no easy solutions to ADD, but a classroom environment that is rich in structure, support, and encouragement can nurture success in all students.

 



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