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Posts Tagged ‘homeschool’

Online Learning – Changing OUr View of Schooling

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that we most often use our own schooling as a standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, children today begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. This provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

This need to assimilate so much information makes the teaching learning process even more challenging.  The Internet offers the opportunity for students to work at their own level, at their own pace, on topics that are of personal interest.  Our work is a continuing effort to assist those we serve to understand and adapt their instructional programs by offering choices for personal learning.

Web-based, online learning gives students a unique opportunity to explore learning and gain knowledge at their own level.  Online learning offers a way to stay ahead of the information tide of an expanding knowledge base.  Students do not need to be time bound by their learning program.   Online learning can offer real-time learning in a vast number of subjects and topics for individual instruction. The best online learning programs will provide students and parents the flexibility necessary for true knowledge to take place.   We know that what we learned in school is not enough for the future of our children.  We have a responsibility to provide programs that offer skills and tools the students can use to ensure a successful future.

In this regard home schooling is reinventing the idea of school.  The integration of knowledge is a personal process, rather than a social process.  By viewing school not so much as a place, but the act of learning, those who home school have forced us to look at a new paradigm for schooling.  These parents recognize that acquiring knowledge does not need to be a group activity but is often more effective as an individual activity.  They know that how they learned is not the best method of learning for their children. Home schooling parents use varied approaches in teaching their children. Many have added online curricular programs to provide a new avenue of learning for their children.

How we learned and what we learned are not adequate measures of education for our children today. When I hear about educators who continue to teach the way they have for many years, it concerns me. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared us for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.

High School Students Meet With Success Online

Monday, November 12th, 2012
Choosing a strong online instructional program at the high school level is a challenge. Parents and students need to find a virtual program that offers an accredited diploma and provides academic support for students from a certified staff.

Whether looking to catch up, are unable to attend school for medical reasons, are pursuing a GED or simply want a quality high school education, the combination of an accredited curriculum with online tutors ensures a quality education that is recognized across the nation.

While we believe that this is a winning formula, online instruction is different from traditional schooling in some important ways. There is no driving to campus and fighting for a parking space, because students aren’t meeting in a classroom at a regular time and place. Communication with the tutor will take place online, not in person. Without an instructor reminding the student of what is due in class each week, the student will have more responsibility for their own learning. Students will need basic computing skills and convenient access to the Internet.

The skills the high school student needs most to be a successful online learner are the same ones needed in traditional schooling: preparation, organization and self-discipline. The difference is in how these are applied.  The best programs are designed to help students get the most out of their online instructional program.

As an online learner, there are things the student can do to make their learning a successful, rewarding experience. Some are common sense, like being prepared and getting work done on time, while others are less intuitive but important. The following may help the student get the most out of an online learning experience.

Get Comfortable

Spend time at the computer and on the Internet everyday, getting comfortable with the equipment and surroundings. Practice computing skills until confident the online instruction can be fully completed.

Be Prepared

Read instructional material carefully. What activities need to be completed? When are assignments due? How can the student contact the tutor? How can the student get help if needed? Mark important dates on a calendar.

Plan Ahead

Read the instructional guides and handbooks before starting the program. Practice using the online program.  Find out if the computer, to be used, has a firewall. Will it prevent the student from accessing particular web sites or using browser plug-ins to view resources included in the instructional program? Learn how to get around before starting, so that connecting to learning is easy and ready for the learner.

Get Organized

Set aside a significant amount of time each week for online learning. We recommend at least twenty hours. Online learning requires as much time and effort as regular schooling. Develop a schedule and stick to it. Without the structure of weekly class meetings, the student may be tempted to put off assignments and instruction until the last minute. Instead, the student should give himself extra time to do the work, because technology can slow down the process.

Be Dependable

Without an instructor and fellow students nearby to offer help and support, the student will be relying on himself more than ever. One way, is to use the resources that are available in most programs, including online help, tutorials, handbooks and the Internet. Another is to monitor progress by knowing where the student is in each subject; which assignments have been completed? Which lay ahead?

Develop Good Habits

One way to be a successful online learner is to develop good habits early. Email will be the main form of communication in most programs. Get into the habit of checking email at least once a day.

Is Your Child Ready for Schooling?

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Learning was on the minds of everyone this month as the children in the neighborhood started school again. Backpacks bulged with new books and supplies, girls wore the latest fashions and boys found the baggiest jeans. Happy faces and anticipation as the little ones trooped off to catch the bus.

A neighbor stopped over and asked about her child who is three. With a birthday in September, she has been told that it might be better if she holds him back from attending school a year. Her concern is that he will be the youngest child in the class and may be immature and not do well in the school. This is a difficult question for me…..my own children have October birthdays and I did not hold either back. I know they struggled not only through elementary and high school, but college as well. Nevertheless, they both were bright enough and I didn’t see the problem as theirs, but that of the schools. In hindsight would I have done things differently….probably not. It is painful, though, as a parent, to see your child struggle.

So, my response to my neighbor was “wait and see, he is still young.” My children are adults now and there weren’t as many options then. However, it saddens me to think that a parent has to even consider this question today. Many parents choose to keep their children home for schooling, but others are unable to do this. So, do they have to worry that their child may not be ready? “Who is not ready, the child or the school?”

TEN Ways to Make the Most of STUDY TIME!

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Relax a bit after school before doing homework. Then….

1. Find the best time to study

After school, after dinner…..homework should have a definite start and finish time. If the homework is finished early, the remaining time should be used to double-check and review.

2. The best place to study

Homework headquarters should be away from television,  phone, and other distractions. A writing surface and good light are necessities. A small table may be the best place for a young student, while a desk or table, even the floor or a bed, may work for an older student.

3. Be prepared

Have all the materials needed to complete assignments. Pencils, sharpener, eraser and paper for younger students, a pen, ruler, dictionary, thesaurus, and more may be necessary for older students.

4. Make a homework list

Make an easy two-part homework checklist:

______ List homework assignments in each class each day as they are made.

______ Check over the list at the end of the school day to make sure you have all the materials necessary to take home.

Show the assignment sheet to educators. They can help to see that you have everything to complete assignments at home.

5. Keep a homework calendar

Record due dates for major long-range assignments on a special calendar brings the task into focus. Work backwards, identifying all the steps along the way to completion of the assignment.

If a short paper is due on Friday, the last step is to write the final draft on Thursday.  The first step is to begin reading and note taking on Monday.

6. Study rhythms

Tackle the most difficult assignments when you are most alert and save easier tasks for off-peak times. Schedule several smaller segments of time for memorization. It is easier to learn in short stretches than at one long session. Try using an easier assignment as a break from something more difficult.

7. When you get stuck – Ask these questions…..

  • Have you read and followed directions carefully?
  • Are you taking short cuts that are confusing you?
  • Are you using your book properly?
  • Read the directions aloud….now do they make sense?
  • Have you tried making a picture, table, graph, or diagram to represent the known facts and relationships?
  • Have you tried to sold a similar, but less difficult problem?
  • Have you checked the glossaries, the table of contents or the indexes for help?
  • Did you copy the words or numbers correctly?
  • Are you trying to do too much of the work in your head?
  • Have you checked for careless mistakes?

Still stuck? Do other homework assignments for awhile. Go to learning program early and check with the educator. Remember…..educators want success from their students.

8. Ask for help

It is okay to ask for help. Ask parents, older brothers and sisters, just ask.

9. Take a break

Schedule one or more short breaks during the study time. Stretching the mind for an hour, calls for stretching the body for a few minutes. Do jumping jacks, play ping pong or the drums…..get up and move.

10. Book bag at bedtime

Create a fail-proof method for getting completed homework assignments to school on time. A good slogan is “homework goes in the book bag at bedtime.”

Home as the Learning Place

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
  • Provide a quiet appropriate place to study.
  • Encourage children to complete homework assignments by providing help and by answering questions.
  • Monitor television and computer time and contents.
  • Set consistent bedtime and wake-up schedules.
  • Engage your children in discussions on a variety of subjects…..current events, hobbies, nature, sports.

101 Ways to Praise A Child

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Wow • Way to Go • Super • You’re Special • Outstanding • Excellent • Great • Good • Neat • Well Done • Remarkable • I Knew You Could Do it • I’m Proud of You • Fantastic • Super Star • Nice Work • Looking Good • You’re on Top of it • Beautiful • Now You’re Flying • You’re Catching on • Now You’ve Got it • You’re Incredible • Hot Dog • Dynamite • You’re Beautiful • You’re Unique • Nothing Can Stop You Now • Good For You • I like You • You’re a Winner • Remarkable Job • Beautiful Work • Spectacular • You’re Spectacular • You’re Darling • You’re Precious • Great Discovery • You’ve Discovered the Secret • You Figured it Out • Fantastic Job • Hip, Hip Hurray • Bingo • Magnificent • Marvelous • Terrific • You’re Important • Phenomenal • You’re Sensational • Super Work • Creative Job • Super Job • Fantastic Job • Exceptional Performance • You’re a Real Trooper • You Are Responsible • You Are Exciting • You Learned it Right • What an Imagination • What a Good Listener • You Are Fun • Beautiful Sharing • Outstanding Performance • You’re a Good Friend • I Trust You • You’re Important • You Mean a Lot to Me • You Make Me Happy • You Belong • You’ve Got a Friend • You Make Me Laugh • You Brighten My Day • I Respect You • You Mean the World to Me • That’s Correct • You’re a Joy • You’re a Treasure • You’re Wonderful • You’re Perfect • Awesome • A+ Job • You’re A-OK-my Buddy • You Made My Day • That’s the Best • a Big Hug • a Big Kiss • Say I Love You! •

P.S.  Remember, a Smile Is Worth 1000 Words!

The Value of Play

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Everyone senses on some level that the ability to be spontaneous and to play is a basic need and an important characteristic of healthy human beings.  However, not everyone can channel this force for ultimate health and happiness.  Unfortunately, learning to play is something we must do as children; if we do not learn how to play as a youngster, often it is a skill that cannot be learned as an adult.  Teach your child how to use her brain, body, emotions and imagination as vehicles for celebrating her higher self.  When you teach your child to play, you are showing her the path of intellectual, social and emotional transformation…a path which ultimately leads to self-actualization!

For our young children, everything they do is learning.  Adding fun to the doing and learning will make even the tedious seem like a game.  The more your child plays and does, the more opportunities, she has for finding favorites.  Imagine if you will, what would have happened if Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s family had never set him on a piano bench and place his little hands on the keys?  Nothing.  What a loss that would have been for the world.  One of your most important jobs as a parent is to find out what natural talents lie within your child.

When a child is born, he has over a hundred billion brain cells.  Through play, trillions of synapses develop connecting these hundred billion cells in the brain.  Each time your preschooler plays a game, listens to music or stories from picture books and interacts with you, new synapses develop and the child’s intellect is enhanced.  Play, although it sounds simple, must be taken seriously.  Play is your child’s work!

Summer Activities

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

While the following suggestions for family summer activities might seem obvious…..some of us need a gentle reminder once in awhile.

Encourage your children to join a community youth group
Visit the library with your child
Get your child a library card. It is a great gift
Check telephone listings for agencies and community groups that offer free parent and child materials. Don’t forget to check the Internet for these resources.
Take advantage of public recreation
Take nature hikes
Visit museums, zoos, and parks
Take your child to plays and concerts
When traveling with your children in a car or bus, discuss the sights you see along the way.

Considering the Best Measure for Quality Education

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that, we most often use this standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, our children begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. That provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

Unfortunately, I do not have an easy answer for what should be or could be. I do know that when I hear about educators who continue to teach they way they have for many years, it concerns me. I have seen wonderful teachers who are very good with their students, but who are missing the mark in preparing their students for this fast paced world. That human aspect is so very important to teaching, but what of the child who does not receive adequate information to be successful in ensuing years. What a dilemma it raises for those of us who work with these well intentioned people on a daily basis. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared our youngster for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.

Where Are The Basic Math Facts?

Monday, June 18th, 2012

eTutor’s curriculum calls for the quick recall of basic facts by children at the end of third grade.  Learning of these skills is done best by teaching students about numbers in relation to everyday life activities and not exclusively by rote drills and memorization.  Their math horizons are expanding to include problem-solving skills, ratio and proportions, algebra, geometry, measurement, data collection, analysis and estimation.  eTutor challenges students to balance a strong knowledge of basic skills with the ability to solve day-to-day math problems with confidence.

It is appropriate for students to struggle once in a while with math problems.  This helps them learn from mistakes, practice persistence and accept challenges.

Numbers and operations on numbers play fundamental roles in helping us make sense of the world around us.  Operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as the ability to find powers and roots, extend the notion of numbers to create tools to model situations and solve problems in our everyday lives.  Discussing and solving problems related to budgets, comparing prices on merchandise, understanding the nature of interest charges, measuring fuel consumption and calculating the trajectory for space travel would all be impossible without a sense of numbers and numerical operations.  All people must develop this sense of numbers and operations and be able to use it to solve problems using mental computation, paper-and-pencil algorithms, calculators and computers. (from eTutor Goals for Mathematics)