Sunday, May 25, 2014

Summer Reading!

My kids love the summer reading program at our library.  The make their own forms to keep track of their reading.  I wanted to share their form with you and some ideas for summer reading.

Example of chart filled in.  (file is blank.)
Some things we love about summer reading:

1. Older ones read to little ones and count the minutes read.  Littles get credit for hearing the book.

2. Fun prizes at our library.  We try to finish early for the best selection of free books.

3. A great way to encourage reading without nagging from mom. 

4. The kids are motivated to keep track of books and times for prizes.

What is there not to love??

Some fun books we are looking at this year.

Redwall by Brain Jaques

Hank the Cow Dog by John R. Erickson

Anything by Eric Carle

Winnie the Horse Gentler by Dandi Daley Mackall

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Guest Post by Kelsey Kamentz of Family Montessori

Today we have a guest post by Kelsey Kamentz from Family Montessori.  She is sharing about their homeschool Montessori hybrid program.  The opinions she is expressing are entirely her own.

Family Montessori of Lebanon 

As homeschoolers, most of us know that one size rarely fits all.  If you’ve ever been to a homeschool conference you’ve seen a thousand different perspectives on how to educate a child and ensure their best future.   

Ever heard of Classical Conversations?  Charlotte Mason?  Un-Schooling? 

The reality is Homeschooling is changing.  Today, families incorporate different methods to suit not only their children’s learning style, but also their families’ lives as a whole!    Many homeschoolers are part of larger co-op organizations and even these structures are morphing to fit the needs of each individual community. 
One organization redefining traditional education here in Ohio is a Homeschool/Montessori hybrid called Family Montessori.   
Family Montessori's structure is a unique balance of flexible, family-based learning and a Montessori classroom environment geared to enhance a child's natural development. Unlike traditional Montessori, parents are trained to volunteer in the classroom with their children during “class days".  
Kate, a FM mom, was surprised at how impactful her experience volunteering in her daughter’s classroom has been.  “It is so thrilling to watch her uncover a new talent or make a new discovery.  What has surprised me is how much I personally have benefited from [FM].  Spending time in the classroom has given me new parenting tools to use at home, and the confidence that I can support [her] as she develops and discovers the world around her.  Our whole family has benefitted from the FM community; not just during school hours, but throughout the week.”  

This homeschool-hybrid provides a unique structure for children, but more importantly for families as a whole. And their dedication to homeschooling allows families to live as individuals according to their own priorities, passions, talents and beliefs. 

FM was born out of the struggles of these families; who, like many others, desired to homeschool their children effectively.   
“[Before Family Montessori] I had homeschooled Finn in addition to his attending a private pre-school. We knew from observing this pairing that he would benefit from an environment which provided positive peer to peer experiences. The traditional structure of learning proved a challenge to his "hands-on" style of discovery.” Says Megan of her 7 year old son “As a family, we wanted for him to be a part of a community. A place where he could be encouraged by the work modules and style to grow his passion for learning. We believe Finn's greatest ally at school is his own self-motivation and for a child, motivation is most eager when the child feels confident to explore organically. That's why we love FM. The community, the structure, and the love of learning it fosters in Finn.” 

The reason FM is such a powerful community is exactly that – It’s a community!  A place for families to grow alongside their children.   
As an organization, FM's philosophy centers on three things: 

Education is about social, emotional and academic development.  Each child is uniquely created with his or her own individual learning style. Family Montessori engages each child, helping them develop at their own pace.  

The biggest advantage any child can have is a strong family. FM is dedicated to supporting these most important influences in each child's life, through discipleship support, potlucks, workshops and more.  

Our goal is for our children to become well-educated, thoughtful adults who have a strong sense of community.  To this end, FM families participate in many service opportunities. 

"Life has become so fragmented” says FM founder Rachel Sachs "Conventional education centers on the child, separate from his family. homeschooling focuses on the family, but even that can sometimes feel isolating - especially for homeschool moms!" 

This is why Family Montessori exists - to be a support system to families and a place of growth for children. To build a community of grace and reach out to others. 
To learn more about FM visit them on Facebook, check out their Website or call 513.800.8023 

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Written Narrative Q & A

Ohio homeschool law states "The parent(s) shall send to the superintendent an academic assessment report of the child for the previous school year at the time of supplying subsequent notification."  A parent in Ohio has three choices on what they may send a with their homeschool notification.  1). Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test.  2) A written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child’s work has been reviewed and that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities. (3) An alternative academic assessment of the child’s proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent. (please note my understanding is that you would have needed to work this out with your superintendent last year when you sent in your homeschool notification.)

A written narrative is an option for an assessment report.  You have a certified Ohio teacher review work samples of your student's work to determine if your child has made progress in accordance with his/her ability last year.  The assessor then signs a form verifying that your student has  made progress, and you send that form to your school's superintendent along with your intent to homeschool the coming  year.

I am a homeschool mom who is also a certified Ohio teacher.  I am able to review your child's work samples, send you some encouraging notes, and send you the forms you need to send to your school district with your intent to home educate.    I enjoy reviewing work samples and love getting a chance to see the many different ways people home educate their children.  The following are a few common questions I hear in regards to narratives.

What if my student  is not reading?
You may send me a list of books you have read aloud  to your student, maybe the progress they have made in a phonics program,  and/or how many sight words that they know now as compared to the beginning of the year. 

What if I do not have physical samples that are easy to send to you?
You are welcome to take a picture,send me a link to a YouTube video, or write up what your student learned in that area.  I have enjoyed power point presentations, pictures of field trips and community gardens, and wonderfully written explanations about unit studies and cooking projects.  If you have questions on how to communicate what your student accomplished, please contact me.

What are you looking for?
I am looking for progress. I like to see that your student is completing  more complex math problems than he/she did at the  beginning of the year, I look at handwriting and writing samples to observe growth, and learn a great deal about your student from looking at the books they are reading now as compared to the ones they read in beginning of the year. I look at how your student has changed.   I do not look to see if you completely finished your history text book, made at least one salt relief map of a continent, and/or  if your bookshelves are organized by the Dewey Decimal system.  I am looking  for progress in your student by viewing his/her work samples.    (But, if your bookshelves are organized that way I would love to see a picture and know how you did it. )

I want to support you on your  home education journey.  I greatly enjoy helping other homeschool families. Let me know if I can help you this year!  Click here for how to get started.

Becky Boerner
Mom to 7 home educated children,  M Ed. in Reading Education.

Another  post  I have written dealt with standardized testing vs. a written narrative.  You may enjoy reading  if you are still pondering on what you would like to do for this year.