Here is an article I had published about how teaching writing to preschoolers works in my home as a homeschooling family (and when I was a preschool teacher)
Here is an article I had published about how teaching writing to preschoolers works in my home as a homeschooling family (and when I was a preschool teacher)
Both my children have a few things in common when it comes to their learning styles and a whole lot of differences.
They both are extremely intelligent, articulate, energetic, hands on learners and hate any kind of paper and pencil work.
I tried various kinds of worksheets found on-line for free or paid sites, workbooks, letting the kids choose the topics, letting them choose the order of their work, time of day to do their work but nothing seemed to go smoothly.
The kids would end up complaining like they were being tortured or would rush through their work and make silly errors. My daughter said she could not work in the same room as my son because the sound of his pencil on the paper was driving her crazy.
Neither were able to work independently and I wanted both kids to be able to complete their work as independently as possible, to prepare them for post secondary education.
My kids have very limited screen time (1 hour a day only if they get their school work, chores done and behave in an appropriate manner) so I looked into on-line curriculum. I figured that may appeal to them since they had very minimal screen time and they liked technology.
We tried a few free trial sites before settling down with Time4learning
It’s a on-line curriculum that covers preschool right up grade 12. All the lessons are taught in a fun, cute and child friendly way making it very appealing to children.
The activities and quizzes are fun and don’t seem like quizzes at all. The kids get to choose what order they want to complete their work. Sometimes they do a little of each subject each day and sometimes they get into a groove where they only want to work on one subject at a time.
They have access to 3 grade levels at a time so if they complete grade 4 language they can move on to grade 5 and still be working on grade 4 math and science for example.
I can see everything they have worked on in the parent login including their marks. If they didn’t get a mark I feel was high enough then I have them re-do the activity.
The really neat thing about this curriculum is that working 1 hour a day at the program my kids have completed 3 full school grades (math, science, language arts, language and social studies) in under 12 months.
This leaves so much time in the day for hands on learning through homeschool programs, practical life activities plus lots of unstructured time for the kids to play and explore the things that interest them. The “non curriculum” time is just as important as its teaching my kids job skills through volunteering, practical life skills at home, independence and social skills in a fun hands on way.
How do you choose your curriculum?
Thanks to Lisa at the Canadian Homeschooler, we have a free printable to offer our readers. Click on this link to get a free printable to help plan, purchase and compare your materials for the next year.
A few years ago my children and I used Picaboo to make a photo album for my elderly neighbour. He is like a great-grandfather to my children.
I really enjoyed making the book and he loves flipping through the pages remembering all the fun times he has had with my kids.
As soon as I logged on I noticed the yearbook software was a little more complicated then the straight forward photo album software I had used a few years ago but I still found the yearbook software very user-friendly.
The only time I did get stumped I was able to refer to the video tutorial for help and quickly got my answer.
I choose to do a yearbook that included the past 4 years we have home schooled, instead of a yearbook including only 1 year.
Picaboo offers a ton of options for backgrounds under the photo’s on each page. I chose to simply go with a plain white background under my photo’s and text. I liked the background choices, I just don’t have an eye for choosing one that makes it look good.
Adding text was simple. The software has a built-in spell checker to catch all the typo’s and spelling mistakes. It also has a ton of choices for font style. Its easy to adjust the font size and style.
I enjoyed building this yearbook with the kids so much that I will be creating a yearbook again next year. It will make a great keepsake to enjoy.
If you would like a chance to create your own Picaboo year book click here
Ontario has so many opportunities to experience nature up close and hands on. It would be impossible to list them all so my children and I have come up with a list of five of our favorite outdoor field trips located in central Ontario. These are all places we have visited for day trips, some are only open seasonally so always double-check days and hours of operation.
Warsaw caves is located just 30 minutes northeast of Peterborough and offers 7 caves, hiking trails, beach with swimming area and campground. This unique conservation area was formed thousands of years ago when Ontario was covered with thick glaciers. When the glaciers began to melt the flowing water formed caves, ledges, cliffs, kettles and underground channels in the bedrock creating an interesting landscape to enjoy. In addition to the caves there are great hiking trails with some interesting features. Along the trail there is a point where the river disappears underground and can be heard flowing beneath your feet! Another really neat aspect of the hiking trails are the kettles and no I am not talking about tea. Kettles are round holes in the bedrock that were carved thousands of years ago when a boulder got caught in the river in a whirlpool. It spun around long enough to actually carve some pretty impressive holes in the bedrock, some big enough to fit few adults inside. We only visited for day trips but they also offer overnight camping. We would recommend headlamp flash lights instead of handheld flash lights as you will want your hands free for climbing in and out of some caves.
Petroglyphs provincial park is located a little over 2 hours north-east of Toronto and is home to one of the largest collections of aboriginal rock carvings in Canada. These carvings are on a gigantic rock housed in a huge building in the forest and it is pretty impressive! There is staff on site to help interpret the carvings and it is a very unique experience. You can also visit the Learning Place to learn about the traditions of the Ojibway people. This provincial park has 4 peaceful hiking trails ranging from 1km long to 5.5 kms long and offers various natural landscape to enjoy such as mixed forest, a marsh trail and a trail that runs along the unique McGinnis Lake, a rare metronomic lake. This is a blue/green lake of waters that don’t intermix. Since petroglyphs provincial park is on the border of the Peterborough Crown Game Reserve it is a great place for bird watching.
Cobourg beach is located a little over an hour east of Toronto and is easily accessible via the 401. It has the largest and nicest soft white sand beach that I have visited in Ontario. The swimming is wonderful as the water is shallow for the little ones and very slowly gets deeper. You can spend the entire day just relaxing on the beach enjoying the sun, water and fresh air. Victoria park adjoins the beach and has large grassy areas, a good size splash pad, playground, snack bar, trees to provide shade and a band-shell. The marina offers sailing lessons and fishing charters too.
Peterborough zoo (Riverview park and zoo) is a 55 acre zoo and is located about an hour and half north-east of Toronto. This is a fantastic little zoo and so much more!! It is open year round and has free admissions and parking, but donations are greatly appreciated. It is home to over 27 animals exhibits and over 40 species of animals to observe ad enjoy. Take a 15 minute trip on the vintage train ride or cool off in the large splash pad. The zoo is also home to Peterborough’s largest playground. There are various playgrounds geared towards
age group from a tot lot to a large school age playground and don’t forget to hop on the 80 foot long super slide! Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the many picnic tables throughout the park or the various picnic shelters. The zoo is a great to place visit in the winter as most of the animals are active during the winter, there is room to cross-country ski or bring a sled and go tobogganing.
Greenwood conservation area is located in Ajax and is perfect for the city folk who want to enjoy nature close to home. Greenwood is situated along the banks of Duffins creek, a cool clear water creek. This conservation area offers great hiking trails, some amazing fishing beginning with the trout season opening in the spring. There is also picnic areas and a playground making it a perfect location for family picnics or other social gatherings.
Where are some of your favorite places to visit in Canada?
I am very excited to be involved in not only one but a triple give-away for all my loyal readers. This months give-away is:
1) Family/Group Discovery Pass from Parks Canada. Valid for 1 year from date of issue. Value $136.40.
2) Rough Guide: Canada – travel guide book. Value $29.99.
3)The Ultimate Guide to Field Trips in Canada ebook. Value: $5.99.
Good luck to all those entering and please share.
Please visit The Canadian Homeschooler for more great virtual field trips from across Canada.
To this day when I have a cooking related question she is the first person I call.
When my daughter was a toddler and beginning to try big kid foods, my mother bought me “Better Food For Kids” by The Hospital For Sick Children as a Christmas gift.
This is a wonderful Canadian book filled with a ton of nutritional information for feeding children ages 2-6 years old and 150 healthy recipes that children of all ages and adults will enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert.
Recipes such as easy quiche, strawberry salad, tomato herbed chicken and pita crisps will satisfy children’s appetite and make parents happy knowing their child is eating healthy.
Along with the Canadian Homeschooler I am happy to be involved in another great giveaway (Entry-Form )here on my blog. Residents of Canada (sorry to our readers outside of Canada) aged 18 years and older can enter this giveaway. Beginning Wednesday February 25th at 6am until March 11th at 11:59EST readers can enter for a chance to win a set of 8 youth books from Coteau Books called the Disaster Strikes! Series
Feel free to share your favorite Canadian book below in the comments. Good luck to everyone entering!
Whether you are returning to work or going back to school choosing a qualified home childcare provider is one of the most difficult decisions you will make as a parent.
I have 20 years teaching experience in licensed childcare settings, a private school and in the home childcare community. Some of these questions I have been asked by parents and some are questions that I think every parent should be asking.
The suggestions below are good questions to ask in addition to the general questions (ie is the yard fenced, where do the children nap and play and so on) Some of the questions might seem a bit excessive but I have seen more than a few people who should have not been responsible for young children in one way or another.
1) How long have they been providing childcare?
2) What is their experience with young children? There CAN be a huge difference between someone who likes kids and someone who has gone to school for 2 years to study early childhood education.
3) Do they have any pets? If so how and when are the pets involved? Can they provide you with up to date rabies vaccination records?
4) Do they have home childcare insurance? God forbid if there is an accident, is your child covered? It can be very tricky to find home daycare insurance BUT it can be done. This insurance will usually follow the children at the caregivers home, personal vehicle, bus, walking trips and so on. My experience in Ontario is that if the home childcare has a pool large enough that it has a filter and doesn’t get dumped out every night they either do not have insurance or their insurance will be void if the insurance company finds out.
5) Do the children travel in the childcare providers vehicle? If so does he/she have a clean driving abstract? Does the childcare provider provide up to date car seats and knows how to use them correctly. 75% of car seats are installed incorrectly!
6) Can the childcare provider provide a clean up to date (within 6 months) criminal record check? Also who else lives in the home and is involved with the children?
7) Does the childcare provider have references you may contact of past and current clients
8) Does the childcare provider provide food or is the parent responsible for sending food? If so what kind of food is served? Can they cater to children with food allergies/sensitivities?
9) If the children are allowed to watch TV exactly what programs are they watching and how long each day?
10) Does the childcare provider give receipts for your income taxes?
11) How are the children disciplined? What is the home childcare’s policy on children who are aggressive?
12) How many children does the caregiver have each day? Check your area for the max number of children and their ages.
13) Does the childcare provider have any extra qualifications? Infant and child CPR, food handler safety course, workshops relating to children are all very useful in a home daycare environment and can help parents decided between one childcare provider or another.
Hope this helps parents find a safe environment for their child to learn and grow while away from home.
Don’t throw it out!
Make banana pancakes with berry sauce instead.
This is a great recipe to use up fruit like banana’s and berries when they get over ripe. It also works great with frozen berries such as those handfuls of frozen berries left in the freezer from smoothie making.
Dairy free banana pancakes
1 1/2 cup dairy free pancake mix
1 cup water
4 very ripe banana’s, peeled
Assorted berries fresh or frozen (strawberries, black berries, raspberries, blueberries)
Berry sauce can be used on pancakes, waffles, crepes, ice cream or added to yogurt
Have you ever wondered about the various methods of homeschooling? If so, look no further! Alecia is a fellow homeschooling blogger who is currently running a series called: There’s more than one homeschooling method?
Last week featured a blog written by Lisa, Kathy and Karen all fellow homeschooling parents and bloggers who talked about the Eclectic approach to homeschooling. This week features a blog about the Montessori approach to homeschooling that I wrote! Click on the link below to read my blog about the Montessori method:
Please check out this great series (see link below) guaranteed to give you a good look at the various methods of homeschooling written by myself and other great homeschooling blogging parents!
What I don’t love is the horrible annoying squeaky noise it makes. It drives me crazy and I’m sure my neighbors don’t like hearing it either.
Here is how to quiet a squeaky trampoline for under 6 bucks
1) Buy one can of WD-40
2) Ask someone to jump on the trampoline. This will help to pull the springs apart and wiggle the other squeaky parts
4) Spray where the legs connect
It will not be 100% silent at first but its pretty close. The more the kids jump on it they will work the oil in and the quieter it will get. I seemed to notice the biggest improvement when I sprayed the legs and top ring.
Happy jumping 🙂
We would spend hours unsupervised hiking on trails, climbing trees, walking in the creek, catching crayfish, getting dirty and playing hide and seek. We never got hurt or hurt each other. We respected each other, the creatures living around us and the environment. Despite being without all the modern technology available today, we all grew into smart, independent and caring adults.
Playing outside in nature allowed us to burn off energy, develop our fine and gross motor skills, learn about our natural environment, get fresh air and reduce stress. It also helped us develop important skills in a hands on way such as teamwork, trust and problem solving skills. These skills are not learned while sitting in front of a screen.
There are hundreds of pages of reports with information on the many benefits of children being allowed unstructured play time in nature and the negative effects (both physical and psychological) of children who spend too much time in front of a screen.
As a former teacher it was very obvious in my classroom which children spent most of their time at home in front of a screen compared to the children who had minimal or no screen time. The children who had the most screen time were severely delayed in social skills, language, had difficulty concentrating and were less motivated to learn compared to the children with the least amount of screen time.
So, grab your kids and get outside to play, being in nature is good for adults too!
(below are 2 articles about the benefits of children playing outside in nature)
There are still people out there who believe if they use a midwife then they MUST have their baby at home. Not true, my friends. You can have a midwife and deliver your baby in the hospital or at home. Your choice.
During my pregnancies with my first 2 children we were under the care of midwives. It was the most amazing experience for all of us.
My daughter was born via c- section after 32 hours of active labor (she was stuck) and the midwife was in the operating room with me.
My son was born (vbac) naturally and my midwife was there supporting us the entire way.
Weather you are planning a natural birth or have medical complications that call for a c- section your midwife will be there to support you every step of the way.
Here are 12 of the many reasons every pregnant woman should consider a midwife:
1) Having a baby under the care of a midwife is statically safer.
2) Midwives are women. I don’t care how great a male doctor is, he DOES NOT know what it is like to be a woman and to be pregnant
3) You have access to your midwife 24/hours a day, 7 days a week.
4)Midwives will come to your house for the first week after your baby is born so you don’t have to leave the house when you are tired, sore and feeling gross.
5) The regular appointments are 30 minutes to an hour! Each visit. That gives you all the time you need to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have about your pregnancy.
6) Midwives let the whole family be as involved as you want in the appointments, labor and delivery
7) You have the choice to deliver your baby at home or in hospital. Your baby, your body, your choice.
8) Its free (in Ontario) to have a midwife care for you
9) Frees up doctors time to help sick people
10) Midwives deliver a lot more babies than a doctor does, there for have far more hands on experience
11) A midwife will access all the extra services you may need during your pregnancy and delivery
12) Midwives spend years in university studying only pregnancy, labor, delivery and newborn care. They then complete a long internship in midwifery care. They are the pregnancy and baby experts.
Below are some great links with statistics and information on midwife care. Some include midwife care in a hospital, some home births and some combined.
Here is my latest article posted on Homeschooling Across Canada.
It has been quite a while since I have posted any articles and I have a really good excuse! In 3 years I had 2 babies in 18 months, became a certified neurofeedback practitioner, bought 2 homes and started working from home while still homeschooling. I have begun to write again and had an article published thru The Old Schoolhouse magazine via their eblasts!
Here is the link (I am about half way down the page):
Stay tuned for more articles to come!
Every child is unique so it makes sense that no 2 home school families are the same.
Some children thrive on routine, some do best with free range learning, some children enjoy paper and pencil and others love hands on learning.
In my home school I have the challenge of home-schooling 2 very different special needs children.
It has taken a few years to find a system of guiding them in a way that they both are learning independently, are allowed long periods of uninterrupted play/learning, enjoy what they are working on, have lots of hands on learning opportunities and allow them the time needed to fully comprehend what they are working on.
In terms of “sit down” academics we use a self guided on-line curriculum. This allows my children to choose the order of their lessons. They have control over what they are working on and that makes learning more enjoyable.
Both my children have a learning disability so paper and pencil work is like torture to them. The on-line curriculum is fun, interactive and the least frustrating way for my kids to learn their basic subjects.
I am a big advocate of children learning how to be independent and develop skills that will help them get a job and be independent. Through practical life skills such as baking, basic home repair, gardening and volunteering in the community my children are practising how to take care of themselves in a real hands on way while having fun.
Another way we have fun with our home-school is by interacting with children of all ages. This is accomplished through sports, classes, field trips and social meet ups. During these social activities my children develop skills like conflict resolution, how to be a good friend and team player, a positive roll model for the other children and respect for each other in a fun hands on way.
I am a firm believer that a lot of life’s lessons that children learn comes from playing outside with other kids. I like to make sure my children have long, uninterrupted, unstructured periods of time outside with their friends. These are times where they are not only getting fresh air and exercise but also exploring nature, interacting with their friends, using their imagination and having a blast at the same time.
How do you have fun in your home school?
If you have ever planted a vegetable garden that included zucchini then chances are you have ended up with so many zucchini you didn’t know what to do with them all. Here is a great recipe that helps to put some of that surplus zucchini to good use.
Gluten free/dairy free zucchini mini Quiche
3 cups shredded zucchini (can even use the club size zucchini as long as the skin is still tender)
1 large onion shredded
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch ground black pepper
Paprika for garnish
Mix all of the above ingredients and fill greased muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until cooked.
For those of you not on a gluten-free/dairy free diet you can replace the gf flour with 1 cup all-purpose flour and add 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup reduced fat feta cheese and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.