Category: homeschool helps

elementary schoolhomeschool helpsProduct Review

Super Teacher Worksheets- A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We recently received a one-year online membership (with unlimited downloads) to Super Teacher Worksheets. This website contains over 16,000 printable math, reading, writing, phonics, science, and social studies resources geared towards K-6th graders. While K-6th is the primary focus, there are some resources for olders and some for youngers. There are also lots of games, and even generators that allow you to create your own word searches, crossword puzzles and more.

For a delight directed homeschooler like me, having resources available from Super Teacher Worksheets is fantastic. Because we don’t always plan every bit of our school and tend to rabbit trail off on subjects that interest us, I don’t always have materials on hand or curriculum that I have purchased. Being able to log onto Super Teacher Worksheets and access their thousands of printables is perfect. The worksheet generator is my favorite feature!

The website is incredibly easy to navigate. The worksheets are organized as follows:

  • Math 
  • Reading Comprehension 
  • Reading & Writing 
  • Phonics 
  • Early Literacy 
  • Grammar 
  • Spelling 
  • Chapter Books 
  • Science 
  • Social Studies 
  • Holidays 
  • Puzzles & Brain Teasers 
  • PreK and Kindergarten 
  • Teacher Helps

I am particularly excited about the literacy units. I have intended to put together a list of required reading for my girls this year (3rd, 5th, and 8th grade). Super Teacher Worksheets offers literacy units that correspond with many of the books I am hoping to use this year. Chapter by chapter worksheets as well as worksheets for the whole book, quotes from the book, word searches, and more. The list of books is large and covers many levels. It is great for co ops as it has guides for leading literature circles.

I am loving all the math worksheets as well. Our math curriculum isn’t very money or time focused. All of my children have struggled with counting money and telling time. I am excited to have access to worksheets to help supplement their learning!

I have a child who is struggling with upper level math. I think the main reason is that he does not have great recall with basic math facts. I plan to use the worksheet generator to print out daily math drills like the one pictures above to get his math recall up to speed. I’ll do this for all of my kids to help prepare for those advanced math years! I should probably do them for myself as well. My math fact recall is not stellar at all!

An individual family membership to Super Teacher Worksheets is just $24.95 for an entire year. This site essentially wipes away any need you would have to purchase practice worksheets. The website is well organized and even has a “file cabinet” feature where you can save your favorites you so don’t have to go searching!

Be sure to follow Super Teacher Worksheets:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/superteacherworksheets
Twitter: https://twitter.com/superteacherwks
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Getting Started Homeschooling Part 8- High School

When my oldest was just started out and we were beginning our homeschool journey, I remember worrying and scurrying to get all the things. He needed an easel. He needed colored pencils and crayons and notebooks and workbooks and curriculum. We needed a designated school area. We needed a schedule. I needed to check boxes.

As time went on, I realized that a beautiful part of homeschooling is not having to recreate school at home. I was a classroom teacher before having kids and I thought that homeschooling meant having to set up a classroom in our home. If that’s your jam… go for it. BUT… if the idea of having to have all the things to be a successful homeschooler is stressing you out… in the words of Elsa… Let it Go!

For years I was able to adapt and adopt our delight directed approach. I gave up many preconceived notions and began to include the kids in the learning goals and material choices. It was a beautiful thing. But then… Then my oldest went into ninth grade and that familiar panic crept back in. All of the sudden I felt like I needed all the things. Like my son needed all the things or I was going to completely fail him and leave him unprepared for the world. I started entertaining the thought of buying curriculum, enrolling him in classes, putting him in school. Somehow highschool just felt scary. Like the game just got more real.

As I was in a flurry of planning and explaining to my son all the things he would have to do, he said, “Wait… I thought we were unschooling delight directed kind of people…how does that work with high school?”

He was right… why would I need to change our philosophy and vision now? How could I continue with interest led learning? How do we continue create life long learners?

Please remember that I am living in North Carolina. My homeschool experience and knowledge of the law is through the North Carolina lens. Please do your due diligence and research the homeschool laws in your own state. Some states are more regulated and some are less.

In North Carolina, there are no requirements to graduate high school. You, the parent, are the chief administrator of your school and therefore create and set the learning goals. However… if you have a college bound child… it would behoove you to look into the requirements for admission and work backwards from there. Not every student will go to college. I have told my kids that I don’t know if they are college bound, but I am not going to be the reason they don’t have the option. I will build our homeschool in such a way that they have the option to go to college when they graduate.

I heard a friend describe homeschooling highschool like this… the core subjects… like math and language arts and history and science are the scaffolding on which the school experience is built. You have to have those core subjects to build the foundation. When you have those in place, you can design your education to fit your interests and needs.

Most colleges look for students to complete 4 English courses, 3 Math courses, 3 Science (with two of those being lab sciences), 3 Social Studies, 1 Health, 1 PE, and 6 Electives. Now… HOW you complete those can be flexible and creative. Some areas of study have little wiggle room… like math. Sorry… but Algebra seems to be a non-negotiable. I told my son that if he could find a solid college within a 300 mile radius of our home with an arts program that did not require Algebra for admissions…we could totally look into dropping Algebra from our school… but until then… he just needed to do it! Not everything is pleasant or fun. Sometimes we just have to endure and work through hard things. That is life and learning endurance and resiliency is super important.

Tips for Homeschooling High School

  1. Involve Your Student. Sit down with your student and look at the scaffolding for the year. Involve them in the choices for their scaffolding and for their electives. What do they want to pursue? When you include them in the planning, it goes well for both of you!
  2. Steer Towards Independence. Let your student have control where they can. Let them be mindful of their workspace, of their schedule and managing their time. Allow room for growth and for error. Your child is not you. They may have a different way of looking at things, organizing things, accomplishing tasks. Give them the freedom to learn themselves and be successful in their way.
  3. Encourage Interests and Passions. You may notice this has been a common theme throughout my Getting Started Homeschooling Series. One of my major goals for my kids when they leave my homeschool is to be able to identify what they want to learn and have the ability to go after it. I want them to know how to learn. While under my roof, they should have the ability to experiment, fail, and succeed. If they want to be an entreprenuer- we will learn about good business practice. If they want a career in food, we will seek out opportunities to learn more. Maybe give them a specific night of each week that is theirs to create the menu, plan, and prepare dinner for the family.
  4. Be creative in your records. A trap I think we fall into as parents and educators is that we have to complete a book or course in one school year. We think that the disciplines should be separate… like chemistry and home economics are two different things. Or math and life skills do not over lap. But they do. My son took a food Chemistry class last year. He learned about cooking and his labs consisted of food related experiments (that often ended up in a delicious dinner for the rest of us!). Maybe your child doesn’t take specific computer skills course, but rather you incorporate using Google tools like Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. into their regular rhythm of school. At the end of four years, you can look back and see the hours of training put into learning word processing, spreadsheets, etc. and you record a Computer Skills class on their transcript.
  5. Encourage Volunteer Work and Service. Teach your student to be a good human. How can they use their time and talents to give back to the community. Not only does this prepare them to be compassionate adults… it also looks good on a college application! Look for local opportunities to serve… help in a food pantry, do yard work for seniors, read books to children (or animals apparently at the local animal shelter), write letters to seniors who are trapped in retirement communities with no visitors due to COVID, organize a silent auction with proceeds going to a local charity, collect coats and blankets for the homeless, deliver meals on wheels… opportunities to serve are out there. Encourage your teen to find them and engage.

Your involvement in your teen’s high school homeschool experience can vary from teacher to tutor to guidance counselor to bus driver to cheerleader. You are preparing a young adult to launch into this world. They aren’t ready yet… they will still need you! Hold loosely to your highschooler as they grow more towards independence each day. You may be surprised with what they can do!

Last tip… know your strengths and weaknesses. You do not have to teach all the things. Goodness… high school sciences and math… whew… outside my wheelhouse! I am so thankful for online resources and classes. My oldest will be taking Spanish online through Luma Learn. He is going to do book studies through Progeny Press for his Language Arts. We are currently working on creating a small co op where he can learn with other high schoolers. Classes will include world history as seen through the arts and public speaking. Lean on your community. Realize that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Tons and tons and tons of resources are out there for you! Easy Peasy, Khan Academy, and School Yourself are just a few of the great FREE options out there!

SchoolhouseTeachers.com has put together a great option that takes the guess work out for you. They are offering virtual “Boxed” curriculum through your membership. This is really great because veteran homeschoolers have curated courses to create a wonderful and full homeschool year. And guess what!!! There is a great sale going on right now with Schoolhouse Teachers. Buy one year, get the second FREE! Two years for just $179 (and you get a free tote bag… just saying!).


Other topics I’ll be covering in this “Getting Started Homeschooling Series” are:

elementary schoolhomeschool helpsProduct Review

MaxScholar Orton Gillingham Software- A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

If I can teach my children to read, I will have given them the keys to the world. If they leave my homeschool as competent and confident readers, I will count it a success. When a child learns to read, a door to learning is opened. They can take ownership and learn all the things. Each one of my kids has been so different when it comes to learning to read. There has not been a set formula that has worked. My oldest was reading chapter books by the time he was four. He was reading dinosaur encyclopedias at age five. I never taught him to read. He learned completely on his own. My second took some time to get there. We did phonics and leveled readers. One day, when she was eight, she picked up a chapter book called “Life with Lily” and consumed it. She retained all the information and was able to articulate the story line and characters to me. My third was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was six- right at the age when most kids are in the thick of learning to read. Reading became associated with pain for her and it wasn’t until she was nine that she began to come around and realize it isn’t so bad. Then we have number four. She is bright and articulate and curious. To talk to her for any amount of time is to realize how smart she is. However, when we did our yearly testing this year at the beginning of June, our friend and tester shared that she had some concerns about dyslexia. Not an official diagnosis, but some concerns. It doesn’t surprise me that one of my kids would struggle with dyslexia. I struggled my entire school career and wasn’t given a name or strategy for my struggles until my senior year of college. I was beyond thrilled when the opportunity to review MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software came our way. I went ahead and requested accounts for both of my younger girls.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia.

MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software is an online reading subscription program. It is like having an online reading tutor. We received a six month subscription through MaxScholar. Everything is accessible online. There are no additional materials to keep up with. You could use this program with any student, regardless of reading ability. However, it has been specifically designed for students who have learning disabilities… specifically dyslexia.

My eight year old working on her phonics placement test. Please excuse the excessive amounts of post-it notes. I have a problem.

Both of my girls did a placement test as the first thing to determine the level at which they should start. It is tedious. My youngest was totally cool with it. She is a box checker and detailed oriented person. She sat patiently and didn’t question the process. My older daughter, however, was less than impressed. She kept looking at me and asking how much more she had to do. She would get to the end of a section and think she was done only to have another part of the assessment pop up. She could have stopped and come back to it, but I encouraged her to keep going. This is my very tactile/ kinesthetic learner- my girl who is constantly moving and does not do well when she has to sit at the table and work. In fact, most days, she doesn’t use a chair- she stands, dances, and wiggles her way through school.

Each girl has her own log-in to her customized account. Once the placement tests were finished, they were able to log on and pick an activity. As you can see in the image above, the activities include MaxPhonics, MaxReading, MaxWord, MaxPlaces, MaxBios, MaxMusic, and Max Vocab. Phonics, Reading and Words are the three main programs. You can actually block the extra activities if you want your child to focus more on the main topics. I may end up having to do this with my older daughter as she immediately went to the MaxMusic section and didn’t want to give the others a try.

The program is very easy to navigate. You can see the teacher chick at the top guiding where to go. She talks to my girls whenever they log on- welcoming them back, etc. You can use MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software on your desktop through a web browser or through an app on your device. We chose to use the web browser to access the program.

The girls have their own log in and I have mine. The parent portal is fantastic and easy to navigate. You can adjust their grade level, turn on and off the placement tests, grant access to games, and more. You can keep track of what your child is doing and how they are doing.

Coming soon are training videos for MaxScholar. These are super informative and easy to follow, making the MaxScholar experience that much better. As part of the Review Crew, I was able to have access to these videos and it really helped as the girls and I navigated and utilized the program.

I am impressed with MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software. I am excited to see how it helps my girls learn to decode and gain confidence in their reading abilities. I am sad to think that I missed something early on with their learning to read, but so thankful for tools to help them now.

Be sure to follow MaxScholar on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaxScholarLLC/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaxScholarLLC
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maxscholarsoftware/
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homeschool helpsProduct Review

Help Teaching Pro Subscription- A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. 

I create a good bit of my children’s learning materials. With our delight directed approach to learning, we are often thinking outside of the box and not using a specific curriculum or program. While I have the skill and ability to create my own worksheets, I would rather not reinvent the wheel. I was so excited to discover HelpTeaching.com. We were given the HelpTeaching Pro Subscription to review.

What is HelpTeaching?

Teacher Worksheets, Tests, Activities, Lessons, and Games for PreK-12. Printable & online resources for educators: teachers, tutors, trainers, and homeschool parents.

Help Teaching Consists of

  1. Tests and Worksheets: A library of pre-made tests and worksheets for early learning through 12th grade, covering all subjects… including AP learning material. The worksheets are aligned with Common Core.
  2. Test Maker: Can be used to create tests in a variety of formats including multiple choice, fill in the blank, true/ false, and open ended questions.
  3. Test Room: The platform can be used to administer online assessments for individuals and classrooms.
  4. Worksheet Generator: Generate your own math and game worksheets.

The website is very easy to navigate. When you log on, you’ll see menue tabs across the top labeled:

Tests and Worksheets

Lessons

Test Maker

Online Testing

My Content

Blog

The “How To” Guides are easily accessed from the sidebar menu. These cover such topics as “How to Administer Tests Online” and “How to Customize Your Tests.” The guides are thorough and easy to follow.

The online testing platform is pretty awesome. It allows instructors to administer assessments online. It also provides data for tracking a student’s progress. The test room is a convenient and flexible way to customize your homeschool or classroom. You can choose to create your own test questions or search from the massive library of created content.

I created a sample Social Studies test about presidential elections. I was able to search the pre-loaded test options and adapt it as I wanted. I could then customize the date and time I wanted the test completed. I could customize if I want the student to be able to go back and review or change answers, if I want a practice mode enabled, and if I want the results to be shown upon completion.

Once the test is complete and ready to go to the students, I can email it to them or upload directly to Google Classroom. You can create a list of students with your HelpTeaching Pro Subscription so you can email the test and instructions directly to them.

I could see how this feature would be great for homeschooling middle and highschoolers. I think it would be great if you are teaching a co op class. It is very organized and user friendly.

I was also able to generate my own worksheets using my HelpTeaching Pro Subscription. I LOVE this feature. If a child needs extra help with a topic or a fun worksheet to go along with a topic we are working on, this is a great option. I created the above Summer Time Word Find for my elementary age girls in a matter of seconds using the worksheet generator.

You can search the library of tests and worksheets by grade. I have a rising eighth grade. The subjects offered for her grade include Arts, Music, English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Study Skills/ Strategies, and Vocational Education. The amount of content is a bit overwhelming, but very well organized.

HelpTeaching offers online lessons as well. These are self-paced lessons. Some of their content comes from sites like Khan Academy, Educator.com, and Bozeman Science. I am particularly excited to use the SAT prep video lessons and their accompanying assessments.

As you can see, HelpTeaching has three different levels of membership. You can join for free, but your access is very limited. The Pro Subscription is what we are using and it is only $49/ year. That is an awesome price for all the content and resources you can access!!

Be sure to follow HelpTeaching on social media:

Facebook: facebook.com/helpteaching
Twitter: twitter.com/helpteaching
Instagram: instagram.com/helpteaching
Pinterest: pinterest.com/helpteaching
YouTube: youtube.com/helpteaching

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Who Is This Kid? Colleges Want to Know! A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

As much as I want to be in denial, I have a highschooler who is going to be setting his sights on college in the next couple of years. I remember taking an entire course my junior year of highschool to prepare me for writing college admission essays! While thinking about prepping for college, I am happy to find resources like Who Is This Kid? Colleges Want to Know! From The Critical Thinking Co.

We received a physical copy of Who Is This Kid? Colleges Want to Know! by Joyce Slayton Mitchell. It is also available in eBook format. It is designed to bring ease to the college admissions process… particularly the essay portion. The book provides exercises to help students get to know themselves with confidence. I think it is a rare find when a student exists who actually knows what they want to do with the rest of their life upon completion of highschool. With so many career opportunities out there, how does one ever choose just one path?

It is not enough any more to rely soley on grades for college admission. As stated in the Introduction to Who Is This Kid? Colleges Want to Know!, “Many American colleges use a ‘holistic’ admissions method, which looks for the most interesting students who ask the best questions- who know themselves- how they think and what they think and how well they know their own culture: their history, literature, their government and politics, their art, and music.” Colleges want to know what a student will bring to them. Talents, extra-curriculars, art, sports, etc. all carry weight in the college admissions process.

Who is This Kid? Colleges Want to Know! is an excellent tool to help personalize the college admissions process. The five main parts of the book include:

  1. Student Assessment: Thinking and Writing Exercises
  2. Searching the Colleges- Building Your College List
  3. Communications
  4. College Admissions Calendar
  5. Glossary

My son just completed his freshman year of highschool. He is considering what college might be like, but not thinking about it too often. While we did not dive fully into the book, it is never to early to teach self-awareness. The exercises found in the book are fantastic for affirming uniqueness and giftedness. I also love that he is able to see what colleges may be looking for. He can see that the extra things that he is involved in like community service, theater, art, etc. are incredibly valuable. He can be proactive in his highschool career.

Because not all colleges look for the same things in their admissions process, there are several exercises in the book to help cover the holistic approach and bring into focus what an individual student is considering. Activities such as the following are included:

  • Student Self-Assessment (including a campus culture quiz)
  • Building the Colleges List (college fairs, campus visits, etc)
  • Applications, Essays & Interviews
  • Calendar for College Admissions

The book is incredibly thorough. It includes places to record observations about college visits, asks questions to narrow down what type of college culture you are looking for, has sheets to fill out with questions for when you visit a college fair, sample college applications, interview practice, and essay practice.

I think this would be a fantastic book to use in a highschool co-op class. I also really think it is would be a wise investment to have one for each of your college bound students as they are getting closer to that process.

The Critical Thinking Co. is wonderful. We have used several of their resources in the past. They serve PreK- 12th grade!

Be sure to follow The Critical Thinking Co. on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCriticalThinkingCo
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Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thecriticalthinkingco/
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/criticalthinks
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsVEVNa6UpVqXxo_t5sbb7Q

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