Please call venue before going to make sure that the time and date are correct, and that the event or activity has not been canceled!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blog Changes

You may have noticed I've migrated our personal blog into this, the regional homeschool activity blog - it's easier to maintain one blog than two, so hopefully I'll post more often and be better able to keep up with the calendar updates!

Merging the blogs also allows me to write more about homeschooling - the benefits, challenges and things we do to keep our focus and have fun along the way. There are so many options in Missouri, places to go, things to do, programs to consider, that all enhance what we do as homeschoolers. I'll continue to bring things to the calendar and posts to highlight what's coming up in and around Missouri this coming school year.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Next Road-Trip is... Washington, DC and New York!

With the summer heat-wave still persisting, we decided to skip the four corners region in September and head instead to the east coast for our next road trip.

The decision came partly because of this year's history and social studies focus - American History & Government. While we homeschool using a classical model, we're going to focus on American history this year rather than pre-modern times worldwide. Next year we'll combine Story of the World 3 & 4 into one year, so that in fifth grade we'll return to the next cycle in Ancient History. The east coast is also home to many friends and family, so we'll have an opportunity to visit with them too!

Planning is underway, with our route there going through Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia to stop and explore historic sites. We'll spend a week in Washington, DC then head up to New York, returning after a stay there through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

What should we see? Please leave comments!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

More Hours!

As previously posted, we need to fulfill 1000-hours of instruction each year we homeschool in Missouri.

Those 1000-hours include:
  • 600 hours in Reading, Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies (Core)
  • 400 hours in Core or Electives

Of the 600 hours minimum dedicated to Core subjects, 400 of those hours must be in the homeschool location, the remaining hours may be anywhere! Woot-woot for field trips!

The last 400 hours, for additional core or electives may also be done anywhere. So really, just 400 hours a year needs to be spent within your homeschool "base" - home. This leaves lots of options for field trips, programs in the community, and activities outside the home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hours, Hours, Hours

In Missouri, we need to fulfill 1000 hours of instruction each year as homeschoolers. It really is the equivalent of the public schools, but at the same time, different because we do not face the same time issues as teachers in public schools.

If you look at the school day in public schools - school starts at (in Columbia) 8:50 AM in elementary schools, and goes until children are dismissed at 3:45; basically a 7-hr school day. After factoring in homeroom for attendance, lunch and recess, the "instructional time" is about 5.75-hours a day, or 1000-hrs a year in a 174-day school year.

What exactly is "instructional time" then?

Honestly, I don't know - but I can guess that in school it's the time allotted for a particular subject, not necessarily the time spent specifically teaching the subject or doing the work in the subject. If math is scheduled from 11:00-11:45, then it's 45-minutes of math in school.

So how do homeschoolers keep track of hours?

On this, there are two schools of thought - one is that hours of instruction are literal, you record the hours in each subject based on exactly how many you were actually teaching or having your child do work in the subject; the other is based on time-slot management of subjects, followed like the public schools, if you finish early it's the designated time, if you take longer, it's the designated time.

I tend toward the more literal myself, recording hours based on what is actually done, not a time-slot schedule. We usually have no problem fulfilling the 1000-hour requirement since we homeschool year-round - in fact we go way over in hours each year, even with ending our school year in early May for our break from "formal" instruction (seat work) until July.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Are You an Appschooler?

Appschooler [ap-skoo-ler] noun (via The Wired Homeschool)

1. a person who teaches with apps, especially a homeschooler.
2. a child who is homeschooled with apps

Using apps for schooling gives parents tons of flexibility. You can homeschool in the car (or minivan), away from home while on vacation, or even at the park. As the use of apps becomes more popular, homeschoolers will start relying on this method much more.
I admit, since the iPad arrived in our home, under the Christmas tree in 2010, our use of apps in homeschooling is now part of our weekly repertoire, and is especially useful when we're traveling.

There are, however, thousands of apps touted as "educational", so choosing wisely isn't an easy task! There are some websites to help, that review different apps that are used for education:

Apps for Homeschooling is a great resource, where you can read reviews and search by grade, age and subject to find potential apps for your homeschool.

But, as Kristen Chase noted, at Pioneer Woman Homeschooling, A Good App is Hard to Find. What I look for in apps is similar to those she listed - along with progressive levels of difficulty, how it fits in with our lesson plan and what features lend it well to including in our homeschool day.

I still do not use apps as the lesson, but rather as reinforcement of lessons. For example, as we go though US Geography, Stack the States helps Boo by reinforcing the shapes of the states, the capitols and neighboring states. It can't teach him geography, but it can and does help with remembering what he's learned. Times Tables Songs helped him practice his times tables (which is still ongoing) and Brain Pop offers something new each day, without me needing to schedule it in, it just happens.

Where I do use the iPad as the lesson is through the Netflix app, where documentaries are readily available and easy to schedule in as part of the weekly lesson plan. In addition, if we're traveling, I can also rent movies through the iTunes store, downloading onto the iPad so I don't need WiFi, nor do I need to use up our data plan for movies!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Understanding Missouri Homeschool Regulations

From the HSDL website:

Compulsory Attendance Ages: Between the ages of 7 and 17 years, or, at the parent’s option, until the student completes 16 “statutory credits” (explained below) toward high school graduation. Missouri Annotated Statutes § 167.031. A student who has reached his 16th birthday is exempt from certain requirements (see below). § 167.031.2(3). If a five- or six-year-old is enrolled in public school, he becomes subject to compulsory attendance immediately until the parents request in writing that he be dropped from the school’s rolls. Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.1(3).

Required Days of Instruction:
1,000 hours of instruction. At least 600 of these hours must be in the five core subjects below. At least 400 of the 600 must occur at “the regular home school location.” Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.2(2)(b). These requirements must be met within the school term (12 months or less) the parents establish. Not required for a student who has reached his sixteenth birthday.

Required Subjects: Reading, math, social studies, language arts, and science. Mo. Ann. Stat.
§ 167.031.2(2)(b). These subject areas (including academic courses related to them) are not individually required, but must collectively constitute at least 600 hours of the child’s instruction. Not required for a student who has reached his sixteenth birthday.

The homeschool regulations in Missouri are straight-forward and fairly easy to understand and stay compliant with; the record-keeping is the area some homeschoolers find confusing, so let's take a look at those:

Home schools must maintain (but do not need to submit) the following records:
a. A plan book, diary, or other record indicating subjects taught and activities engaged in (an appropriate daily log could satisfy this requirement);
b. And “a portfolio of samples of child’s academic work” or “other written credible evidence, etc.”;
c. And “a record of evaluations of the child’s academic progress”;
d. Or “other written, credible evidence equivalent to subparagraphs a) b) and c)” Mo. Ann. Stat.
§ 167.031.2(2)(a).

Parents have the option to follow: a, b, and c, or they can choose to follow only d) which permits more flexibility.

I think the confusion comes from the either-or, either A, B and C, or D; in choosing D, what defines "written, credible evidence" that is "equivalent" to A, B snd C? Truth be told, there isn't a definition to work with, leaving it subject to interpretation if you find yourself under scrutiny at some point while homeschooling your children.

It's the lack of definition in D that led me to follow A, B and C for my record keeping. While there is still room for interpretation in those three, I think it's easier to be compliant with the regulations when you're following the first options, rather than the last.

So, how do I do it?

I'm a planner by nature, so each spring I spend time laying out our educational goals for the coming school year, the curriculum we'll use and a rough outline of what we should be able to accomplish each month within each subject. That's the "big picture" part of the plan, the details come next.

Within each subject I then go chapter by chapter, outlining the flow of the year - I do this without dates, it's a "next-step" plan, where when we complete something, we move to the next thing. I have a separate document for each subject since I do not know in advance how quickly or slowly we'll progress through the work.

Neither of these are part of my formal record keeping. They are my guide to what needs to be done, but do not meet the regulations for record-keeping per the statutes.

My record-keeping is simple:
1. A weekly calendar book - two page a week layout; in which I record what we do each day and the time spent; this fulfills my A while also providing a place to keep track of hours throughout the year in one place.

2. A 3" three-ring binder, divided by subject; in which I place work completed that can be hole-punched, or pictures of things done that can't; this fulfills my B.

3. Within each section of the binder, I'll also place quizzes, tests or other things we do that highlight progress throughout the year; this fulfills my C. Each month I also write out my evaluation of how things are going, where improvement was seen and where improvement is needed. At the end of the year, though not required, I do an end of the year standardized test also.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What's in a Portfolio?

Take a look, over at Heart of the Matter!

Among things to include, "What about dioramas, full-sized body outlines, and salt-dough maps? What about all the learning games we play instead of doing boring worksheets? How are those activities documented in a two-dimensional portfolio? Take pictures! For a while, these projects occupy a place of honor on the dining room table or on the window seat. Then they graduate to living under the guest room bed. When the next project is ready to reside under the guest room bed, the first one moves to the circular file. But first, I take a picture of it. We set the little people up again and the kids pose as I flash the pictures I forgot to take when they originally made the project. You can make professional scrapbook pages to go in your portfolios, or you can slap the pictures onto cardstock, write up a few labels, and call it good."

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's July!

One of the great things about homeschooling in Missouri is that our school year runs July 1 to June 30; we fulfill our hours between those dates and can schedule our year in any manner, so long as we meet our hours within the core subjects and electives.  So for our third year now, we're starting back now, in early July, after a six week break from when we wrapped up"formal" lessons in May.

Over the summer we'll maintain a light schedule, first reviewing things from last year, then digging into the new work ahead of us for the year - with focus mainly on reading over the summer.  Boo is registered for one camp - Camp Invention (Science), and a few programs - Jujitsu (PE), Hand Building Pottery (Art) and Swim Team (PE) over the summer, and will have a variety of programs starting in the fall (Art, Piano, Jujitsu and Swim Team).

Our curriculum this year includes:

Singapore Math 3B, 4A
First Language Lessons 2
Writing with Ease 2
Our American Heritage
The Story of US
Singapore Science, Our Pals are Here 3/4
All About Spelling 3,4,5
Art Class (CAL)
Piano Lessons (Columbia Academy of Music)

Cub Scouts (Pack 989)
Jujistu (Gracie at ATA)
Swim Team (Columbia Swim Team)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Planning the Next Great Road-Trips!

We're just home and already starting to talk about our next road-trip! 

We have two opportunities to travel coming up soon - in September Bear has 10-days off, and in October he has a conference for work (one week) that we go to each year as a family.  We've been eying a return to the Four Corners area for September, and know San Diego is the destination in October since it's where the conference is being held this year.

Do we drive?  Do we fly?  Do we train?  Do we do a combo?

Decisions, decisions!

The verdict is - we drive!

The decision to drive in September was pretty easy - it's not that far and driving far outweighs the hassle factor of flying with a toddler and all the stuff he needs (ie. stroller, car seat, etc.). 

October was a harder call - it's much farther away, much more driving and neither me, nor Bear, wants another three-week apart experience; it's way too long for us to be apart, but more importantly, too long for the kids!  But I hate flying these days and really prefer being able to stop as we go, seeing sites and things we'd miss if we just flew out and back.  In the end it came down to costs - it'll cost half to drive than to fly and rent a car, and we'll get two weeks out of the adventure instead of six days.

Now for the planning, which includes thinking about what to do differently this time, from the lessons learned from our last road-trip!

In September, the vacation will be vacation and educational - since it's within the school year and we're in the full swing of Boo's lesson plans, I'll need to schedule in daily lessons, educational stops and downtime to just have fun.  Same with October - if I'm driving to San Diego, I need to plan out how to get there and back, with adequate time for lessons, learning experiences and just plain 'ole fun.  I think I'll start reading some Road-Schooling blogs to get ideas!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fossil Butte, Dinosaur and Home!

A last minute change in driving plans led us to Wyoming, to start our day at Fossil Butte - one of the best parks we visited in our travels.  It was amazingly well done and geared especially for fossil lovers like Boo!  Not only that, but the park rangers were among the best we'd met.

The only thing I wish we could have done was explore the area more - it was terribly hot, which made exploring difficult with Bug.  So, once Boo finished up his ranger badge, we targeted our sights on Dinosaur National Monument, which the ranger said was a pretty easy drive and we should have lots of time to do it to in the same day.

He was right on the drive - it was easy and pretty quick.  There were, however, no restaurants between the two, so we had to eat gas station food - UGH!  All in all though, Dinosaur was fun too!

Now that we were in Colorado, the push home really started - just Colorado and Kansas to go.  We pushed to Kansas in the evening and then, for hours and hours the next day, with this as our primary landscape view:

But we made it, home safe and sound, happy to see Bear and amazed we did it!  Now to start planning our next adventure!