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Does Grade Level Really Matter in Homeschooling?

doesgradelevelreallymatter

You know you’ve wondered it.  You may have even asked it.  There are many sides to the debate too.   Where do you stand?

Does Grade Level Really Matter in Homeschooling?

Every child is different.  And when it comes to homeschooling, every homeschool is different.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling.  You can cater to your child’s educational needs.

I’m going to tell you our story first and then I’ll tell you what side of the debate I fall on.

G was writing at 3 and reading at 4.  He could add, subtract, graph and measure by 5.  Part of the reason we wanted to homeschool is because we wanted to counter the boredom that would inevitably come from being in a Kindergarten class that had nothing to teach him.

Because BOY + Boredom = Potential for Trouble

Not trouble like doing bad things trouble.  But trouble like “can’t stay in seat” and “can’t be quiet”.  He’s always been a naturally inquisitive boy drawn to learning and teaching himself.  I did not want a bad school experience to ruin that.

But I thought since kids naturally started school at 5 years old in Kindergarten, that I had to “play along” and say he was in Kindergarten.

That worked for about 5 minutes.

Or more literally, about 2 months.

He wanted to know why all his books said “1” and “1st” on them.

“Mommy, am I in first grade?”

Should I say, “Well, no, you’re in Kindergarten but you can do 1st grade work so that’s what we do.”

Even at barely 6 that wouldn’t fly with his incredibly logical mind system.

So I said, “Well, it looks like you are, doesn’t it?”

And right there, in October 2014, just two months after starting Kindergarten, he was promoted to 1st Grade.

And we haven’t looked back.  As of writing this, February 2017, he is excelling as a third grader.

So there are three major sides to this debate.

#1: My kid is whatever “grade” matches his public schooled peers regardless of what his books/curriculum say.

#2: My kid is whatever “grade” his books/curriculum say.

#3: My kid just does his books/curriculum.

So which way is right?

All of them.

Group #1’s kids are often involved in sports or activities outside the homeschool realm.  Keeping them the same “grade” as their peers (even if it just on paper) simplifies registrations & and team sports.  And it keeps kids with their same friends who are progressing at the “normal” public school pace.

But that doesn’t mean Group #2 is in the wrong.  We are Group #2.  We changed churches from the church G had grown up in from infancy (where he was still in the class based on his “grade” had he been in public school) to a brand new church last year and I gave him a choice.  Go to the 1st grade Sunday School class (which is the grade his same aged peers would be in) or go to the 2nd grade Sunday School class (that matches his homeschool grade).  He chose 2nd grade.  He has a fall birthday anyway so he’s always been on the older end – so even one grade up he’s still almost as old as the youngest kids in that grade.  He chose 2nd grade because our new church contains homeschool families we know – including a friend of his that was in the 2nd grade.

But Group #3 isn’t wrong either.  They don’t want to be defined by a label.

So, does that mean grade level matters in homeschooling?

Well, it only matters as much as you want it to matter.

I know plenty of #1s who would NEVER consider moving their child “up” a grade even if their work is at a higher level.

As #2s ourselves, I don’t plan on moving G “up” again.  I feel like moving him once to get his workload to match his capabilities was sufficient.  But I don’t know what the future holds so I wouldn’t be opposed to it in the future.

And the #3s – more power to you.  Your kids will be the ones graduating high school with a 2 year college degree simultaneously at 16 years old.

There is no right or wrong on this issue.

If there is anything I could go back and tell my “new-to-homeschooling” self it would be to not worry about “labels” and how things are “normally” done.

As a “third grader”, G’s language arts and reading curriculum is for 3rd grade.  But for “fun” he reads books at a 5th grade level. His math is 3rd grade but it leans toward being slightly more advanced than other math programs.  His science isn’t even a grade.  It’s just “science”.  Same with history.

We still like to mark the start of each new year with the first day of school holding the “grade” sign. But I no longer let it define us or hold power over us.

Which group do you fall in?

 

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Homeschool Resources under $20

As a homeschooler, it’s important to get what you need to educate your kids while also saving money. So, we compiled a list of the best affordable homeschool resources – all available for $20 or less on Educents.

hrunder20

Helpful Resources

Homeschool Planner – This planner includes dated journal pages, practical forms, motivational quotes, and teaching aides to make your homeschool planning effortless and enjoyable.

Do-a-Dot Mega Bundle – 17 different activities that cover fine motor skills, numbers, letters, sight words, word families, shapes, colors, patterns, and early addition. All of these items are designed for us with do-a-dot markers, but they also come with a variety of suggestions for alternative uses.

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Homeschool Moms’ Favorite Educents Resources

I do love Educents!  They recently asked me what current item on their site I had used and enjoyed and they included my comments in a roundup of Homeschoolers Favorite Resources!

Educents is valuable for homeschoolers and teachers alike.  You can always find deals (and sometimes freebies!) to help with your lessons!   Do you have any lessons coming up in 2016 that will be challenging?  Or that you don’t have all the resources together for yet?  Don’t forget to check out Educents for what you need!

top picks homeschoolers

No matter what may be on your lesson plan for 2016, consider the resources below. Members within the Educents community put a list together of their favorite homeschool resources. If you’d like to learn more about the resource, just click the link! If you want to get more involved in the Educents community to learn more about homeschooling and the curriculum offered on Educents, join the Educents Facebook group!


 

Emily of Smith Squad recommends the Life of Fred books.

“As a child, I always hated math, even though I was good at it because it was soon boring. When I heard about Fred, I knew he had to be a part of our homeschool. My kids absolutely LOVE when it’s math time, and they are learning a ton about how to apply math to every day practical situations.”

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide


 

Lisa Marie of The Canadian Homeschooler uses the Writecraft and Mathcraft Units.

“The writing portion of this resource was the first time EVER that my oldest son ever willing wrote anything! He was excited to write instead of hating it.”


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SpellingCity Changed Our Homeschool Day

spellingcity

Let me start out by saying that I haven’t received anything for writing this post (although, if you’re out there, powers-that-be-at-SpellingCity, I’m totally okay if you hook me up with a subscription to the paid portion of the site!)  I’m just sharing this with you because, WOW, what a difference finding this site has made.

So BigG did a Kindergarten/First Grade combo last year.  It was a hodge-podge of curricula and resources.  I have a feeling every homeschool mom has been there at least once.  You just mash stuff together to get you through the year.

If you haven’t been there then you either haven’t been homeschooling long or you’re lying. 🙂  For us, our hodge-podge year was also our first one.  It was a great year and we had fun with the material and we made it through.  But I’m thankful this year for Sonlight where so much is combined and already laid out for us.

But back to my point.  I bought a book called Spelling Connections for spelling.  It started with writing the alphabet (which we skipped because Bug had been doing that for years).  I have no idea if the book was K or 1st.  It didn’t say.  Starting with the alphabet led me to believe it’s K.  But by the end of the book he had spelling words like doing, saying and being.  Are words really that advanced by the end of K?  He did great with it.  So this year with Sonlight’s 2nd grade Language Arts I decided to just jump right in with their spelling words.  I had considered All About Spelling but I didn’t want to spend money on another program and have another set of books.  So I decided to just give it a try and see where it took us.

Spelling wasn’t BigG’s favorite thing last year.  But the simple sheets each day practicing the spelling words were bearable.  We got through it.  He never missed more than one on his 8 word tests and his final grade was a 96.

Well, while I like Sonlight’s spelling words and method of teaching spelling rules, the day-to-day activities with the words were lacking.  I tried to pick up the slack with other activities but that wasn’t working.  And just making him write his words every day?  Ummm…no.  And test days were awful because he knows the words, he just doesn’t know that he knows the words.  And taking a test was like pulling teeth.

That’s when I turned to Spelling City!  I plug our spelling words in each week and he spends 15-20 minutes a day playing games with the spelling words.  He enjoys the games and he gets a sense of pride and accomplishment when he gets them right.  Test day rolls around and I start calling out words and he’s EXCITED because he knows that word!  (Seriously, I can say, “teacher” and he says, “YES!  I know that word!  I can spell that word!”)  And he’s making connections with other words with how they are spelled by thinking of one of his spelling words first.

And you know what else I like about it?  It’s 20 minutes of my day that I don’t have to be right beside him.  I can go start lunch, or sort a load of laundry or something for 20 minutes while he works on his spelling words.  That’s so great for this age when you’re already having to be so hands on with everything else to catch a small break!

Check out SpellingCity!  I’d love to hear what you think about it!

Do you have any other spelling ideas?

 

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Should You Teach Cursive Handwriting to Your Kids

Should you teach your child cursive

Should you teach cursive handwriting to your kids?

I could just say YES and be done with this entire post.  But I guess I’ll elaborate.

So what are the reasons for teaching your children cursive?

 

  • Historical Documents are all written in cursive.
    Do we want a generation of people who are unable to read original historical documents?
  • Important family documents may also be written in cursive.
    Notes in the family bible, letters great-grandpa wrote home during the war, your great-aunt’s famous cornbread recipe – probably all written in cursive.  What good is it passing these mementos down to our children if they can’t read them?
  • Taking notes is quicker in cursive.
    I take notes every Sunday during church.  They’re all in cursive and pretty much everything else I write is print.
  • Research shows that writing in cursive uses a part of our brain we don’t normally use.
    And I’m a firm believer that if you don’t use something you’ll lose it.  So I’m all for exercising as many parts of our brain as possible!
  • You have to know cursive to have a signature.
    Signatures are as unique as you are.  Without cursive, you’ll never have a signature.  And there are some pretty important things that require a signature – driver’s license, marriage certificate, legal papers, financial papers, etc.
  • It’s a fine motor skill.
    Meaning, the sooner your child starts practicing it the sooner his fine motor skills will be honed.
  • And probably a lot of other reasons….

Ready to start teaching cursive?

Download FREE cursive handwriting worksheets on Educents!

So, WHEN should start teaching cursive?

Well, I say it’s never to late to start!  I went to private school and I started learning in 1st grade.  I think that’s a good age to start.  I know some people teach their children cursive before they teach them print!  That’s okay too!

BigG is in 2nd grade right now and we started cursive on his first day of 2nd grade.  Full disclosure though, he’s 1st grade age – he skipped Kindergarten last year – so he’s the same age I was when I learned.  That’s one of the reasons I held off last year when we started 1st grade.  I wanted his maturity level a little higher before we started – getting him to write anything last year was a hair-pulling ordeal   Shortly before we finished our year last year, he saw a cursive book and said, “When are we going to start doing that?”  And I said 2nd grade.  And he said, “Oh, but I want to do it NOW!”  He was really excited about it.  I had to fend him off the last couple weeks of school because he realllllly wanted to start Cursive.  On our last day of 1st grade I showed him his name.  He practiced it all.summer.long.  And talked all summer about how he was going to learn cursive in 2nd grade!

So go figure, I guess I could’ve started last year!

So I guess the moral of the story is to start teaching them when you feel like they are ready.  If it’s not working, shelve it for 3-6 months and try again!

Handwriting Resources for Kids

Are you an educator or parent who wants to spend time teaching your kids how to write in cursive? If so, these resources from Educents will make it a lot easier and FUN to learn cursive. Super Cursive Freebie - Educents Blog

Web Learning Resources for Kids

Online learning is becoming even more important for the next generations. Educents also has affordable resources that helps children develop their typing and coding skills.
Writing Programs - Educents Blog

  • Learn to Mod with Minecraft – Did you know kids can learn how
    to code by modifying (or “modding”) Minecraft®? Kids learn how to code in Java® and apply it to Minecraft® themed problems!
  • The WriteWell App– A simple and intuitive web-based tool that makes writing fun and effective. With its unique visual and tactile interface and library of interactive essay templates, WriteWell is a convenient tool for teachers and students at home or in the classroom.
  • Handwriting Worksheet Wizard – StartWrite helps teachers, homeschoolers, and parents create handwriting lessons quickly and easily. This program saves hours in lesson preparation time, yet allows you to easily create fun, meaningful worksheet to teach handwriting.

What do you think?

Will you, are you or did you teach your children cursive?