This is the kind of energy most people think of when you mention ‘alternative energy’, and for good reason! Without the sun, none of anything you see around you could be here. Plants have known forever how to take the energy and turn it into usable stuff… so why can’t we?
This solar cell is a real battery, and you’ll find that even in a dark room, you’ll be able to measure a tiny amount of current. However, even in bright sunlight, you’d need 80 million of these to light a regular incandescent bulb.
Planning out how you will spend your day is an important tool for any homeschooling parent. If you must balance household chores and running errands along with teaching your children their lessons it stands to reason that your time must be well segregated into slots. Here are some things to keep in mind before you set up a home school schedule for your children.
Morning Hours Don’t Always Work Best
While traditionally the early morning school route has been followed in regular schools all over the world, with homeschooling it may not be the best idea. You need time to clean up the mess that invariably occurs in a home with small children, cook meals for the day and even take on outside errands. All these undone tasks will play at the back of your mind if you begin school early morning for your home school students.
Rather than being distracted by these chores and getting short tempered with the children for not finishing school work fast so that you can get to them, finish the basic household work before you begin class. If this means beginning your homeschool classes closer to noon than in the morning, so be it.
Schedule Set Times for Lunch and Play
It is easy to get swept up in lessons and want to finish a certain activity before taking a break for lunch. However in the long run it will be easier for your children to stick to the homeschool schedule if you do so right from the word go. That way they can anticipate their lunch and play breaks and will adapt to the routine better.
Of course they may take their own sweet time finishing simple tasks in the hope that the same activity can be continued after lunch or whichever break is coming up. So you will need to be on the look out for deliberate tardiness. Do consider the fact that the 3Rs are best handled when the children are fresh. Sometimes they may just be tired and that’s what causes the delay. Try and keep tasks that need more hands on time in the afternoon’s schedule.
As per legal state requirements you have to grade your child’s test papers when you home school them. This allows the state representative to gain an insight into how the child is progressing in his lessons. Don’t let the thought intimidate you. Take a look at how you can grade the test papers and what a typical grade scale should look like.
Setting the Test Paper so its Easier to Grade
Try and keep the questions limited to a round number to make the grading easier. Typically a short test of ten questions is ideal for primary school students. This will make it easier for you to work out the percentage the child scores. The way to find out the percentage is to add up the total number of right answers, then divide the sum with the total number of questions and multiply this figure by hundred. For instance if there were 6 right answers on a quiz that had 10 questions that would mean (6/10)* 100. This would work out to 60%. Use a calculator to do the calculations if you are uncomfortable handling the math.
A Typical Grade Scale
Now that you have calculated the percentage of the test paper you need to assign a grade to it. This can be done using the simple grade scale that is given below. As we had 60% in the example it would work out to Grade D based on the grade scale here.
90-100% = Grade A;
80-89% = Grade B;
70-79% = Grade C;
60-69% = Grade D;
59% and below = Fail
Grading Helps to Build Your Child’s Permanent Record
By using grades on your child’s test papers you can build up an evaluation of how the child is doing in each subject. Make sure that each of these test papers is stored safely in each subject right from kindergarten to 12th grade. There are two main advantages when you do this. First this portfolio can be used to show the external evaluator from the state that your child is learning and progressing well. Secondly, this can be used to make your child’s portfolio in case he needs on to get into traditional college later on.
Do you like marshmallows cooked over a campfire? What if you don’t have a campfire, though? We’ll solve that problem by building our own food roaster – you can roast hot dogs, marshmallows, anything you want. And it’s battery-free, as this device is powered by the sun.
The Fresnel lens in this project is focusing the incoming sunlight much more powerfully than a regular hand held magnifier. But focusing the light is only part of the story with your roaster. The other part is how your food cooks as the light hits it. If your food is light-colored, it’s going to cook slower than darker (or charred) food. Notice how the burnt spots on your food heat up more quickly!
Dealing with challenges is part and parcel of homeschooling your children. Here are a few common problems that you may face and suggestions on overcoming them.
Dealing with negative public opinion
Not everyone agrees with the need to homeschool. The majority of parents would prefer that all children be taught in public schools rather than by their own parents at home. This can lead to a homeschooling family being singled out for negative public feedback.
Don’t let it pull you down. You know that you have valid reasons for homeschooling your children and these do not have to be defended to the public at large. As long as you are convinced that homeschooling is the better option for your children and your family do not let public opinion bring you down.
Dealing with resistant children
Sometimes children get influenced by their peer group and decide that they want to go to regular school like their friends and not study alone at home. This is a difficult situation that can arise when your child is very social and wants to be around other children of the same age.
To help your child with this try and have combined classes with other homeschooling parents. This will allow your child to learn in a group and still be homeschooled. While such classes may not be possible daily you can arrange for them once every week with each class being conducted in the homes of all the children involved in the group.
Dealing with the actual teaching
You need to pick the right curriculum to follow. There are so many different methods of home schooling and you need to pick the one that suits you and your children. You need to ensure that you have a legally compliant homeschool that meets the requirements of your state’s laws. You need to keep track of the progress of your wards with written records.
For a first time homeschooling parent the sheer volume of work expected out of you can be worrisome, but it can all be managed with a little planning and a lot of hard work. Take help of your support group both online and in real life.
Teaching homeschool science can be more rewarding than teaching science in regular school because you have the ability to focus on long term science based activities. While you are limited to a few minutes in regular school in the science lab, the same does not hold true with homeschool science experiments. You can take your time and let an experiment carry on for days together. Here are a few simple science based activities that you can do with your preschool homeschoolers.
Physics – Making Ice
Take for instance the simple ice making experiment that you can do with your pre-schoolers at home. Once you have them pour out water in the ice cube tray you can have them place the trays in the freezer. Then distract them with some coloring books and have them check the ice cube trays after an appropriate time has passed. Here they have been introduced to the concept of solids and liquids.
Biology – Growing a Plant
The concept of plants as living and growing things can be taught to a preschooler by allowing them to grow a plant. Get them some easy to sprout seeds and allow them to soak overnight. Then drain the water and allow the seeds to sprout in a covered bowl. When they grow the tiny roots have the children plant them in a small pot. Water daily till the plant grows. It would be even better if the plant is a flowering one. It will provide a goal to the child.
Chemistry – Making Milk Pink
Chemical composition may be a difficult concept to explain, but a simple chemical reaction which changes the color of milk is fun to do. Have your children pour out a glass of milk. Ask them what the color of milk is and then ask them if they can change it. Use a couple of spoons of strawberry syrup to change the color of milk to pink. They can then drink their experiment with some cookies as well. Ask them if they can change the color of the milk to other shades and how they would do that.
Can you use the power of the sun without using solar cells? You bet! We’re going to focus the incoming light down into a heat-absorbing box that will actually cook your food for you.
How does that work? Your solar cooker does a few different things. First, it concentrates the sunlight into a smaller space using aluminum foil. This makes the energy from the sun more potent. If you used mirrors, it would work even better!
You’re also converting light into heat by using the black construction paper. If you’ve ever gotten into car with dark seats, you know that those seats can get HOT on summer days! The black color absorbs most of the sunlight and transforms it into heat (which boosts the efficiency of your solar oven).
Homeschooling parents tend to pay more for the books and other homeschooling related material because they buy them as individuals. Any vendor who is allowed to sell a larger volume will be happy to give a discount to the bulk purchaser. To take advantage of this many homeschooling families have founded Homeschool Buyer Co-ops, to combine their purchasing power and get better discounts.
How does the process work?
A member of the homeschool buyer co-op is assigned the task of getting in touch with various educational publishers and homeschooling curriculum providers. The member will then negotiate a discount based on the volume of sales. This deal will then be placed before the other members of the homeschool buyer co-op. The number of members who want to buy the material are confirmed and they will pick up the educational material at a lower rate than when they buy the materials from a shop.
Group Buy Discounts
Some publishers can also offer added discounts on higher group buys. For instance while the homeschool material is offered at a discount of 20% initially to all members, the discount may rise to 30% if more than 20 purchasers are found. In case there are more than 50 purchasers for the same material then 40% discount may be offered and so on. Based on the increasing volume, the discount will also increase. This is the same reason why school districts get good discounts on educational material. The same principle of higher sales volume applies.
How can you become a member of a Homeschool Buyer Co-op?
There are a number of homeschool buyer co-ops in operation today and it is easy to find one which suits your needs using homeschool forums or websites. You can even find some communities on social media websites like Facebook. While the membership requirements are different in each group, most of them offer free memberships as long as you participate in the group buys and allow everyone to benefit from the higher discount values. Some sites may expect you to pay a minimal fee to become a member as well. This will need to be checked out before you join a homeschool buyer co-op.
The Common Core initiative was begun to ensure that present day students had a common set of skills to learn. These guidelines are to help the teachers and homeschooling parents understand what their children need to learn. They do not dictate how these skills should be taught. The question that now arises is how were these guidelines developed?
How did the goals come into being?
Scholarly research was undertaken to try and learn the skills that a set of students who were preparing for college or to enter the work force would require. This data was gathered based on surveys, analysis of standards from high performing states, and the actual performances by actual college ready students. Based on what detailed trends were noticed certain skills were identified as essentials. These were then deemed to be part of the skill set that would be the ultimate goal for the students to learn. in this manner research evidence based skills were added to the standards set in the Common Core.
What was the criterion for developing the standards?
The main criterion for developing the standards was to ensure that they were well aligned with expectations for college and career success. They were also to be clear and consistent standards across the various states. It included selected content and the application of knowledge through high-order skills which would be an improvement on the present standards being used. These standards were based on reality and the ability to use these guidelines in an actual classroom setting.
About International Benchmarking
As the world shrinks and the different nations in it need to work closer together it stands to reason that skills needed on an international level also get considered. This is where the international benchmarking of the Common Core standards was thought to be essential. The college and career ready standards in both English and Mathematics also underwent the international benchmarking process. This will ensure the long term economic competitiveness of the nation’s students.
What about other subjects like Science?
The educators involved with the Common Core standards are in collaboration with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to work out standards for Science as well.
We’re going to learn how to build a weather instrument that will record whether (weather?) the day was sunny or cloudy using a very sensitive piece of paper. Are you ready?
You can use sun print paper to test how well your sunblock works – just smear your favorite sunscreen over a sheet (or put a couple dabs of each kind) and see how well the paper stays protected: if it turns white, the light is getting through. If it stays blue, the sunscreen blocked the light!