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Successful Homeschooling, Issue #05 -- Tell Me About Your Favorite Curriculum and Win Free Books!
September 02, 2008

Summer vacation is ending and the new school year is upon us, but that doesn't mean the fun has to end.

In This Issue:

  1. Win Free Books!!!
  2. Secrets for a Successful School Year
  3. Homeschool Games Make Learning Fun
  4. Sage Advice from a Veteran Homeschooler

Win Free Books!!!

Win Free Books
Here's your chance help other homeschoolers and win free books for your home school!

Successful Homeschooling is now in the process of collecting homeschool curriculum reviews. From September 1, 2008 to September 30, 2008, you have an opportunity to win books, as follows:

  1. For every qualified product review you submit, your name will be entered into a drawing to win $100 in free Usborne books.

  2. Post a link to my contest page on your website or blog and your name will be entered into a drawing to win $100 in free Usborne books.

  3. Submit 5 qualified product reviews and receive a free Usborne Mini Book of your choice. (Mini books are a reduced, hardback version of an original Usborne book.)

  4. Homeschoolers who come in 2nd and 3rd place for the number of qualified submissions will receive $20 in FREE Usborne books of their choice.

  5. The homeschooler with the most qualified submissions will receive any product in Usborne's catalog for FREE!

Submitting a review is as easy as typing an e-mail telling a friend about a product your family enjoys. Follow this link to read the rules for this month's homeschool review contest.

Secrets for a Successful School Year

The new school year can be a roller coaster ride for both children and parents. The excitement that comes with purchasing new books and supplies can quickly turn into feelings of burnout and discouragement. Here are 3 secrets to getting your new year off to a great start:

Start Slowly
Unlike families whose children are entering public school, you don't have to make a dramatic switch from leisurely days at the pool to a full 6 hour course load. Begin your school year with one or two main subjects, and add on a new subject every week or two, as you feel comfortable.

Gradually transitioning into your full program will keep both you and your children from feeling overwhelmed. You can always extend your school year, if necessary. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Keep it Simple
I frequently see homeschoolers begin the school year with elaborate, time consuming plans, only to crash and burn several weeks later. In a perfect world, we'd have plenty of time for complex projects and activities, but here on earth, we're often juggling multiple students, new babies and housekeeping duties.

If your lesson plans become overwhelming, don't hesitate to set them aside. Get back to the basics, and reduce the number of projects to one per month or quarter. Find simple ways to add fun to your program that are are not time and labor intensive.

Shake Things Up
After a few weeks of homeschooling, you may find that some things just aren't working. Perhaps your lessons are too long, your curriculum isn't a good fit, or your kids are being uncooperative.

If your schedule, curriculum or lifestyle isn't working for you, don't be afraid to make adjustments and try something new. Cut back on outside activities if they've become overwhelming. Rearrange your schedule. Try a new phonics program or shake up your routine with a fun activity.

Beginning in October, I'll share a fun and easy learning activity each week in a series called Make it Fun Monday! For details, check out my homeschool blog.

Homeschool Games Make Learning Fun!

Homeschool Games

Homeschool games are a great way to build family unity and add fun to your lesson plans. Games can help your children review math facts, increase vocabulary, learn trivia and develop problem solving skills.

Make games a regular part of your routine by starting a family game night. Set aside one night per week when every member of the family will be present. Turn off the television, computer and telephone ringer to limit distractions. Make a favorite meal or snack, and let children take turns being in charge of the arrangements.

Begin your game night by playing a game that the youngest members of your family will enjoy. Then let younger children watch or "help" while the older members of your family play. Alternate between playing games of chance, where every member of the family has a chance to win, and games of skill that rely on knowledge or ability.

Games don't only build math and language skills, they can bring laughter into a home and heal strained relationships. As a parent, be sure to model good sportsmanship, and use frustrating moments as a time to teach good character.

Your children will soon begin to look forward to these wonderful nights together. Even better, they'll have so much fun, they won't even know they're learning.

Follow this link to find tips for choosing homeschool games for your family, along with a list that includes some of our family's favorites. For a fun way to keep track of the time your family spends playing games, take the Million Minute Family Challenge.

Sage Advice from a Veteran Homeschooler

This summer, I had the pleasure of interviewing veteran homeschooler Terrie Bittner. Terrie is mom to 3 homeschool graduates, and author of the book Homeschooling - Take a Deep Breath, You Can Do This!

Here is a portion of my conversation with Terrie:

  1. What do you think it takes to be successful at homeschooling?

    More than anything else, it takes fierce determination. You have to be willing to fight through burnout and discouragement, so you can make it to the days when everything is perfect. There are lots of those, but they aren’t every day. A sense of humor about yourself helps, too. I get through the bad days in life by poking fun at myself.

  2. How should homeschoolers measure success?

    Since homeschooling is very individual and self-paced, a homeschooler needs to simply measure one child against himself. If he’s making steady progress, learning to love learning, and building family relationships, he’s doing well. I wouldn’t worry about whether a child finished the book, but rather, whether he understood what he did do in the book. There’s always next year.

  3. What advice would you give newbies who are just beginning their homeschool journeys?

    Start slowly. Don’t try to do everything at once. Take your time and explore how you like to teach and how your children like to learn. Have fun and appreciate it as it happens. You think they’ll be little forever, but they won’t.

  4. What advice would you give veterans?

    There are days when we get tired and burnt out. Slow down, skip school and go play one day. Teach something weird but fun, something nearly impossible to explain on your reporting forms, like the sociology of chocolate.

    Start preparing your children to be life-long, self-directed learners. Teach them how to teach themselves.

  5. Do you have any regrets?

    I wish I’d had more fun every day. Sometimes it was fun, and sometimes I got panicky about results and forgot to have fun.

Follow this link to read more from my Chat with Terrie Bittner and find out Terrie's advice for creating lesson plans, and homeschooling gifted or special needs students.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions or comments.

Thank you for subscribing to Successful Homeschooling.

Enjoy the journey,


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