Friday, December 19, 2008

Why I'm No Longer Blogging!

It's been quite a while since my last post here and I wanted to let my readers know why...

I really do have a good reason though I should have let you know sooner....

I found myself frustrated by the limitations of blogging and so have chosen to build a full-fledged website! A website is much more flexible and the company I'm using is dynamite.

I'm pretty excited but I'm also buried in a gigantic learning curve as I widen my horizons to include the language of HTML and the world of SEO.

The site is called The Homeschool Companion. You can find it here (it's already live though far from complete.

My hope is that you'll follow me over there and participate as much as you like....there are forms on some of the pages where you can make suggestions of homeschool resources or submit articles and eventually I plan to add a forum. So I hope to hear from you and God Bless!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Has It All!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC or TOS as they refer to it, is a top-of-the-line, full-color, homeschool magazine which only comes out 4 times a year but there is more packed in each issue than in most monthly magazines I've come across over the years. I am reviewing the Summer 2008 issue as that is the one sent to me to sample.

Structured as though the magazine is a schoolhouse and grounds there are sections such as Campus Store (a list of advertisers and where to find their ads), Homeschool Faculty (bios of contributing writers), and Teachers's Lounge (reader feedback). TOS also has a Homeschool Watch section to help you keep abreast of legal issues.

There are a wealth of articles written to encourage, not to overwhelm you on such topics as gifted children, adoption, special needs children, nature walking, intelligent design, and teaching your child to love reading.

You will always be able to keep on top of the latest products in the homeschooling marketplace just by browsing the advertisers in each issue (many offer free catalogs or brochures and almost all have a website to visit).

I visited the 'Principal's Office' to learn about submitting articles, their statement of faith, and subscription rates ($25.00/year or $39.00 for 2 years). Sign up for the current fall special and get an extra issue along with 6 free gifts while supplies last. Subscribe online at the link below!

If you visit their website
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, you will find even more opportunities to pursue! There is a free weekly newsletter to sign up for, The Schoolhouse Store which offers very reasonably priced products and always free shipping (a big plus these days). There are numerous e-books in 20 different topics available for purchase. For instance right now, you can download an e-book unit study on Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends for $3.50 (on sale) or a bundle of Eric Carle Unit Study e-books for $9.74 (on sale). The left sidebar is loaded with catagories of products to browse covering all major subjects and lots of electives.

So get inspired! Hook up with the folks at
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC and your homeschool journey will never feel lonely again!
Kathy D.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Teaching Spelling the 'Natural' Way

I think it was about 8th grade when my daughter began to enjoy writing stories on her own, that I realized I had made some erroneous assumptions about her spelling abilities. It wasn't completely unnerving, just a little wakeup call for her teacher.

We were homeschooling pretty much eclectically (using materials from different sources to teach a subject or subjects), I had tried a variety of workbook approaches with spelling exercises. I even enlisted the help of a few 'freeware' software programs, fed lists of spelling words into them to generate word search and crossword puzzles hoping to make spelling 'fun'. She saw it as so much busy work and had little interest. Because she was an excellent and dedicated reader, I had decided not to worry about it. Whoops!

Once that gaping gap was discovered however, I knew I needed to take this subject more seriously. Perusing my catalogs, I came across Kathryn Stout's 'Natural Speller', liked the review and decided to give her approach a try. It was a great move. Here is how we used it:

1) Natural Speller provides spelling lists of the most important words to know for each grade level (Gr. 1-8).
2) Starting with Grade 1, even though my daughter was in 8th grade, I read each word aloud and she spelled it back to me
3) We covered about 20 words each day, and she was able to sail through the first several grades in the first week giving her a great sense of accomplishment.
4) When she began missing words, she wrote each one in a notebook along with a sentence that showed me she knew the meaning of the word. If she didn't know the meaning, she was required to look up the word in the dictionary and copy down the meaning and then use the word correctly in a sentence.
5) Once she had accumulated 10 missed words, I asked her to do some of the suggested activities in Natural Speller with each word, giving her a choice of which she wanted to do. Her goal was to master spelling not only the word itself but also its variations.
6) When she felt she had mastered all 10 words, I gave her an oral or written quiz. Words she knew where checked off and words she missed, if any, were written at the beginning of a new list.
7) As each grade level was completed, I gave her a review test either written or oral on that grade.

By the end of the school year, she had mastered all of the spelling words in Natural Speller and learned the basic spelling rules as well. From that point on, I only had her work on the spelling of words she misspelled in compositions and reports. No busywork!

I highly recommend Natural Speller by Kathryn Stout of Design-a-Study, not only for remedial spelling help but also to teach spelling from first grade onward. You can learn more about it and see Kathryn's other study guides by clicking on the picture Natural Speller
Kathy D.