Excellent Resource for Both Educators and Parents

Standardized testing is as much a part of school today as reading and math classes. Unfortunately, although most kids eventually learn to read and do the math necessary to carry them through life, many do not learn to take the tests that SHOW they have learned the reading and math. Whether parents and teachers like it or not, the student’s ability to do well on standardized tests is increasingly important, and not only to the student. Teachers and schools are judged based on student test scores. Parents and teachers need help. Attack of the Chicken Nugget Man: A National Test Prep Adventure may be just the help they need.

Written specifically for the tests, Attack of the Chicken Nugget Man: A National Test Prep Adventure is available in a format geared towards national curriculum standards as well as some individual state tests. Aimed at grades 2-5, the book is a series of silly stories that will engage the students. The stories are followed by a set of questions similar to the ones found on standardized tests. These questions are written to directly correlate to specific standards such as “Grade 4 Reading Foundation Skills” or “Grade 2 Math Operations.” There is a guide in the back to help the parent or teacher see which specific learning standard is addressed.

Why would this book work when other teaching aids are unsuccessful? There are a few reasons why this book might be a better choice. First, the stories are quite funny and will have the students wanting to read on to the next one. Secondly, the book is extremely well organized and quite easy for adults to navigate (even if they have little of no educational background). On just a couple of pages in the front of the book, the author CLEARLY outlines how to use the book. A third plus for this book is that it appears that the book would be equally helpful for use with a student who perhaps does not have trouble taking tests, but lags a little in basic concept development. In other words, this is not just a test prep book. It could also work as a booster for a student struggling with a specific concept-say Grade 3 Math, Measurement and Data or Grade 5 Speaking and Listening.

A last idea for the book’s usefulness is that it spans four grades worth of material. So as a parent, suppose your child has just finished grade 3. Over the summer you could use the book to review the material for grades 2 and 3, but then in the spring, haul the book out for use with test preparations for grade 4. Or you might even want it during the year if your student hit a bump with a given concept-say fractions. While using the same stories with different objectives, it allows the student to realize actual growth in specific areas.

Overall, Attack of the Chicken Nugget Man: A National Test Prep Adventure by Kumar Sathy seems to be a nearly must have for teachers and parents alike.

Home Schooling on a Limited Budget – 4 Key Ideas You Can Use to Help

Homeschooling can be expensive and if you have a limited budget it’s easy to get frustrated. The cost of private schools has caused many people to choose the option of homeschooling. Although there are many books and programs out there, it doesn’t mean that you need to spend a lot of money or more than your budget allows. Here are a few tips to help you home school and still work within a limited budget:

1. Create your budget and stick with it. It’s pretty easy to start buying a bunch of books and programs that you think you need and then find that you have spent a bunch of money and still don’t have everything you need. Realistically look at what you have to spend on homeschooling and make that amount work for you.

2. Do your homework. When you come across something that you want to purchase for homeschooling, start looking on forums or even just Google it by typing in the name of the book or curriculum and “review” after it. Chances are someone else on the Internet has used that book and has some advice to offer. Make sure you know your child’s learning style so you are purchasing items that fit in with that style for a greater chance of being utilized. Check with other home schoolers you know and trust and ask them what they know about the books or curriculum you are thinking of purchasing. I always like to ask Moms who have several children that are well educated and well behaved.

3. Consider using used materials. With so many more people homeschooling now, used curriculum is very available and affordable. Some support groups have used book sales at the end of a school year. I have found many valuable resources at garage sales and thrift stores. My favorite place to find used curriculum and books is at homeschoolclassifieds.com.

4. Use your local library and free resources whenever possible. With the advent of online library requests, using the library has become even easier. I can get online, request a book that I would like, and usually receive notification of it’s arrival at my local library within a week. If I find that I really like the book and feel that I need to use it for a long time, I can always purchase it. The Internet has a tremendous amount of free resources that home schoolers can use.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive. You might need to trade a little time for money, but there is no reason for you to spend more money than what you have in your home school budget.

The 7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

Thinking about homeschooling? Want to avoid the homeschooling mistakes most people make? Below you’ll find what we’ve discovered from homeschooling our 5 children from birth to college.

In 1987 homeschooling was just as newborn as our first child. We looked at homeschooling for a number of reasons which were mostly related to our academic goals. And yet, our first child’s Cerebral Palsy tipped the scales. The simple nature of having a young and impressionable soul around active and undiscerning ‘friends’ made it clear that we should homeschool.. We really didn’t want our son settling into confusion about what he was capable of doing. So, we decided to give it a try until he was old enough to physically function well around others who were his age, but weren’t his friends. We thought it would be through third grade—it lasted until he went to the University of Texas in Austin.

Now, these 23 plus years later, we know seven things that we make sure all of our homeschool coaching students start to understand–inside and out. If you want a successful homeschool embrace these seven (or violate any of these at your own risk)!

  1. Define Homeschool Success for Yourself
  2. Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition
  3. Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools
  4. Find a Support Group(s) or Network
  5. Learn to Use Systems for Success
  6. Make Discipline a Nice Word
  7. Find a Coach

Here’s a quick summary to get you started:

Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

Definitions determine everything. If your definition of “learning math” is to ‘get through the book’—then things will turn out very different from the family whose definition is to “learn how to do math.” The definition for homeschooling success that we use is our basic understanding of education. Education is learning how to learn. We want our students to develop skills for learning so they are prepared for anything. How sad when people think knowing information means education…especially when information changes and your are obsolete because you didn’t keep learning.

Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

There are as many curricula as there are people (so it seems). Every curriculum is build on some set of assumptions or educational philosophy. Some writing curricula believe (falsely) that we learn to write by studying grammar, while others show the students the power of learning to write by actively writing (for example see http://www.advanced-writing-resources.com). Whatever the curriculum for whatever subject-make sure it matches your own definition so you aren’t caught wanting one result while using a process that takes you in the opposite direction.

Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

One of the great mistakes is to compete with schools. A homeschool does not have large buildings, massive funding, and a variety of specialized teachers. So, trying to produce the results they aim for will simply exhaust you. Homeschool can actually produce greater skill and knowledge, but trying to match all the subjects a school offers is chasing the wind. By the way, the students aren’t always leaving a school system as educated as you think!

Find a Support Group(s) or Network

It is the height of arrogance and the height of inefficiency to go it alone. Why not benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of others? Why not let others benefit from the insights you’ve gained along the way? There are groups online, groups in your part of the world, or groups just waiting to be started by you and a few like-minded families. You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around…so get busy and connect for your own good.

Learn to Use Systems for Success

One of the great insights in life is how things operate by cause-and-effect. Good cooks can reproduce the same quality meal over-and-over because they follow some type of system (recipe). The practical results you see in life are largely the result of the systems we use. Homeschooling itself is a ‘different system’ of education which is aimed at a bit different result (included the character, sense of family, etc., it often affords). If you don’t have an overall sequence of steps you are moving toward following, then you can rest assured your results will be as shoddy as your system.

Make Discipline a Nice Word

One of my favorite mentors, Robert Fritz, offers a helpful definition of discipline: “Discipline is when you itch, but don’t scratch.” The truth is that some amount of discipline is necessary for learning. Very few children naturally gravitate to wanting to learn in all the areas important to education. It turns out then, that we must help them do what they don’t “feel” like doing, so they can ultimately benefit. External discipline tends to lead to life-long internal discipline. We all need help doing what needs to be done. Homeschool (or any school) simply won’t work without making discipline a nice word which is practiced often.

Find a Coach / Mentor

In many ways it is the ultimate hypocrisy to ‘tutor’ our own children without having a ‘tutor’ for ourselves. There is something powerful when we discuss, interact with, and learn from someone who is ahead of us in any field. Sports training knows the value of coaches because the competition and economics involved are so great. Without a coach you can’t compete. If you find a voice or two you trust, a person or two whose results you want to see in your life— find them, pay them, beg them to coach you. Nothing will save you more time and heartache than to learn from someone with wisdom.