Homeschool Curriculum

Success Habits: The Most Important Part of Your Curriculum- Part 1

As homeschool teachers, we spend tons of time teaching our kids subjects like English, math, science, etc. And while these subjects are important, many studies show that there isn’t as big a correlation as we have all been lead to believe between “straight A’s” in these subjects and having a successful and happy life.


For some of you, this doesn’t come as a surprise and you may even homeschool because of this. There are a bunch of skills, though, that you can add to your curriculum that are common among successful, happy adults.  Adding these into the way you are “doing school” could be just the key to making all of this hard work even more worthwhile. Here are the first five of 15 habits and developed skills that successful people have in common.

1. Read every day.

This is obvious, but worth mentioning. Successful adults read, listen to audio books, or have some other daily input that continues their lifelong learning. 88% of successful adults read 30 minutes or more every day. This is a huge habit that is easy to create when your kids are young.

The key for you as a homeschooling teacher is to make that daily reading time enjoyable for your kids. Personally, one of our main homeschooling goals is to raise kids who love to read. This means really encouraging them to choose things they love and are interested in as daily readers on top of the books you choose for other areas in your homeschool.  

Here is a great teaching tip when it comes to reading. For books you use in everyday teaching, or for any textbooks you are using, pick books that are at your child’s reading level. This means that they occasionally ask about a new word, but comprehension is not stalled by overly struggling to sound things out. To stretch your child’s reading skills, choose books that are a grade level ahead of their comfort level. Have them read these books sparingly. For their daily reading, have them choose books just under or even a grade or two under their comfortable reading level. The goal here, besides enjoyment, is to allow them to get lost in the books in order to build skills in the process and experience the joy of reading. If they are struggling during their 30-minute daily reading, they aren’t practicing what they know, nor are they picking up the information or story line in the books.

2.    Spend less time on the TV, Internet, cell phones, or playing video games.

Our country is seeing a decrease in attention span due to the technology crisis. Our work force is having issues with productivity and focus due to cell phone and social media use, as well as all of the other technological distractions. I could get into tons of studies and trends here, but the most telling thing I can tell you are the stats on successful vs. struggling adults and their time on devices. Two thirds of successful adults watch less than an hour of TV and spend less than an hour on the Internet unless it is work related. The people who are in charge of their lives and making a difference just don’t spend a lot of time getting lost in technology.  

You have the ability to remove those influences from your kids’ lives right now. This will be setting them up to be light years more prepared for a productive and happy life than the rest of our country. Caution: be careful not to withhold it too much or they will be drawn to it. It is best not to introduce things like smart phones when getting your kids their first phones. And don’t model heavy TV watching! I have found that the attitude of “why would you want to do that when you could do all of this” works so much better than a flat “no, because I said so.”

One statistic I found particularly interesting: 77% of those who are struggling financially in this country have the habit of spending more than 1 hour watching TV per day and 74% spend more than an hour surfing the internet.

3.    Talk less and listen more.

This is one of Covey’s seven habits, from Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This habit is a total game changer. The ratio of 5 to 1 is a great way to explain how long someone should listen in relation to the time they spend talking. Successful people are excellent listeners and communicators. They know that the best way for them to learn as well as influence others is to truly listen. Great communicators start by being great listeners first. Watch leaders you admire with the kids and notice how intently they listen to those around them.

This is a great skill to teach your kids and you can start by modeling it yourself. Up your listening time a little everyday. You will notice after a couple weeks, as you listen to them more, that they will begin to listen to you more. The best life long benefit from this skill is that the more you listen to people, the more you can ultimately help them.

4.    Don’t give up.

Successful people don’t give up. They stick to things for the long haul and use each set back as a way learn and improve. Things don’t need to be evaluated by winning or losing, success or failure.  Successful people see things as winning or learning.  

There are three common traits successful people have- focus, persistence, and patience. They do not quit going after their big goals.  Those who struggle in life as well as financially have a habit of giving up, and usually it is right before things get better.

5.    Set goals, don’t make wishes.

Kids are full of dreams and wishes. As parents, we can show them how to set goals, take those most important wishes and dreams, and teach them how to make them come true.  

70% of successful adults have at least one major goal each year they are actively pursuing. And get this: only 3% of those who struggle to make ends meet do this. To me, that says it all. Goal setting is key. It is important to mention here that these are kids. They spend their childhood dreaming of becoming a ballerina, going to the moon, or becoming president. Start small when it comes to goal setting. You are just teaching the process and how to be successful when aiming for a goal. When they find the one big thing they really want to pursue, they will have the tools to successfully go about achieving that goal.

When I first started studying all of this, I would look around and observe people who were where I wanted to be or who were where my kids wanted to be. We would point out these traits in people like Mother Teresa, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and so many more. Enjoy exploring these traits with your family.

Tune in next week for five more habits and traits of successful and happy adults! 


We would love to hear your observations below or in the Facebook group.
The stats included in this article come from Success Magazine.

5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started Homeschooling

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It’s an exciting time of year! For some of you, you’ll be starting to homeschool for the first time this fall. Congrats on the beginning of an amazing adventure! For others, you’ll be continuing to homeschool as you have been for years. Here are five tips from us oldies to the newbies that we wished we had figured out in our first few years as homeschool moms.

1.    Don’t recreate school! 

I know. For most of us, traditional schooling is all we really know, right? But think about it. You pulled your kids out of school for a reason: it wasn’t the right fit. Don’t try to recreate a classroom at your dining room table. It’s a waste of time that will ultimately make you all frustrated! Do- figure out what everyone really likes about being able to do school differently. That could be sleeping in and working in the afternoon, sitting on the floor or in the backyard to work, focusing on just one subject a day, listening to music while everyone works, a field trip every week, doing the work at Grandma’s, making it a lot more hands on, or anything that makes learning more engaging, productive, and fun!

2.    Don’t try to finish it all.

Those curriculum packages have a lot of problems in each day’s worth of work. You know why? So the kids who need more practice have the extra work already there in the books. Just do the evens or odds, or even every 5th problem. If your kids remember it from the previous year, just do enough to refresh their memories and call it a day. Focus on doing more work only when they need it. That is one of the major benefits of homeschooling. Tailor the work to what your kids actually need. And if they burn out, you don’t need to finish the whole book by the end of the year. Most teachers don’t complete the whole textbook. They pick and choose. So should we!

3.    Don’t stick to only one curriculum for everything.  

So you’ve purchased a whole curriculum set and you’re all ready to get down to business. Keep in mind, though, that three weeks into the school year, you’re going to see that not all of it works for all of your kids. You don’t have to stick with just that one program! If it’s not working, go find something else that fits better. For example, most kids are not at the same grade level in every subject every year. Nor do they all learn the same way. Most programs focus on teaching in a specific style that may not match your kids. Start tailoring the work to their needs. You can find used curriculum on eBay and other places to play with as well as searching Pinterest and even Google to help you find what you need. Start with one subject that isn’t working well and play with different things. It’s more fun to find stuff yourself than you think!

4.    You don’t have to go through the curriculum at the pace that’s set up for you.  

If you can whip through the early chapters and take more time off at Christmas to go visit family, do it. If your kid is super excited about science in the fall, go through that whole years’ worth of work first and move on to other subjects later. If taking a vacation in October is what you all want to do, move things around and start a week early, double up for a while, or skip some things that aren’t necessary. This is one of the major perks of homeschooling. Enjoy it! You set the schedule!

5.    Listen to your kids.  

This is ultimately about your kids, right? They know what works for them and what doesn’t when it comes to learning. Ask them. Ask them about what they love to do, and read, and study, and be curious about. Ask them what time of day is the easiest for them to get through their work. Ask them what gets them excited. These are the clues to creating awesome, fun-filled, and productive learning days! For more ideas, download our free workbook, 5 Keys to an Awesome Homeschool Day.

Homeschooling can be the most rewarding, meaningful, and frustrating thing you will ever do. Remember, thinking outside the box, or classroom in this case, is why you decided to do this in the first place. Experiment and do more of what works!

If you know that homeschooling is the answer but you find you are not sure how exactly to create the experience or education you want to give your kids, the cart is open for a limited time for this fall’s session of Homeschool with Confidence, The Ultimate Homeschool Teachers Training. Watch for emails to get early bird pricing and bonuses!  

Here’s to an amazing homeschool year!

Win a Scholarship to Homeschool with Confidence

As we were planning 2016 here at Gauthier Group headquarters, giving was one of our predominate themes.  How can we give more this year?  How can we give more to the people who matter most to us, to the people we want to serve, and to the things that matter most in the areas of change in the world we are dedicated to serving?  You probably already know this because you do it every day when you homeschool, but giving is the main aspect of an outstanding life.  If gratitude is the special sauce, giving is definitely the main deal!

We came up with some amazing plans for 2016 and I cannot wait to share!  Our first idea is this right here and we hope you will love it!  We are giving away not just one but TWO scholarships to Homeschool with Confidence – The Ultimate Homeschool Teachers Training!  

The Scholarship Prize

A full benefit registration to Homeschool with Confidence, The Ultimate Homeschool Teacher's Training.

Here's how to win

Create a video following the directions below:

1. Make a short video. In it, answer these questions:

  • Who are you, where are you from, and why do you love homeschooling? You can also share anything you'd like about your kiddos (or not as you see fit!)
  • Why do you think Homeschool with Confidence, The Ultimate Homeschool Teacher's Training is a must for your homeschool?
  • Why can't you wait to start?
  • Feel free to be creative!

2. Post your video on the Juli Gauthier Facebook Page

3. Share it! Share it in at least one place - Facebook (on your wall or in a group), Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. Be sure to include #homeschoolwithconfidence. Bonus points for each share (See below for more information.)

4. What else do you want us to know? You can interpret this in any way that you want. You can post this with your video on our wall. No emails will be considered. Sorry!

SOCIAL MEDIA BONUS POINTS

Wanna boost your chances of winning? Spread the word about The Homeschool with Confidence scholarship contest on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram!

Some sample copy blurbs to get your creative juices flowing:

I can't wait to transform my homeschool when I win a spot in @Juli_Gauthier Homeschool with Confidence http://bit.ly/1mTuTGx #homeschoolwithconfidence

I am so ready to win! @Juli_Gauthier Homeschool with Confidence http://bit.ly/1mTuTGx #homeschoolwithconfidence

This scholarship contest has my name on it @Juli_Gauthier Homeschool with Confidence http://bit.ly/1mTuTGx #homeschoolwithconfidence

You can share your Homeschool with Confidence yearnings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram up to three times per day, and use any wording you like. But all Tweets and FB posts must include the #homeschoolwithconfidence hashtag and the official shortlink to this post: http://bit.ly/1mTuTGx (Instagram is kind of a pain like that, so do whatever you feel is best.)

Here's everything you need to know about this contest:

1. You can enter to win with your video post. And YES, it's got to be public - no email entries will count. 

2. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram shares get you bonus points. And they must contain #homeschoolwithconfidence and a shortlink to this post: http://bit.ly/1mTuTGx

3. The entry deadline is 5pm EST on Friday February 5, 2016 and the winners will be announced on Monday.

4. No purchase is necessary to win.

5. We are the judges and our decision on the two winners is subjective and final (but we really do love and appreciate every single one of you, and there's nothing but love coming your way).

Remember: We’re looking for heart, creativity, kindness and the ability to follow directions. Show us your commitment and how this program can help you reach and exceed your dreams for your kids and homeschool. We can’t wait to see all of your entries and social media shout-outs!

 

 

 

How to Homeschool on a Budget

There is a group of homeschool moms out there who are grateful to just be able to stay home and homeschool. I’ve been there too and I know how being home full time and handling all of their kid’s educational needs can make the budget tight. Here are some great tips on how to provide a great education for your kids without investing a ton on curriculum.

TIP #1
First, hit the Internet. Search for a list of skills/subjects that should be covered for your child’s grade. Often your local school district will have this readily available online. Your state will also likely have their standards per grade posted somewhere. Ok, ok. Maybe the reason you started homeschooling was because you did not like what was going on in your local public school system. Search other states! Idaho, California, Massachusetts, and Iowa have great outlines online. So do private schools. Look around. I used the book Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp as my base line. It was totally worth the investment!

Here is the thing. You don’t have to follow what ever it is you find. This is an outline and a base so that you are prepared and aware of what is usually being handled in the grade you are teaching. I start the year looking it over, choose a few things, and then create our plan based on what we really wanted to do. BUT, I was aware of what was the usual and normal for the grade. I often was able to add little bits here and there to make sure the kids were, well, able to go back into the school system if that ever became a necessity.

So now that you have an idea what “should” be covered in each grade, it is time to decide what would be best for you and your child. Is your child ahead in some areas and behind in others? Mine almost always were. All the more reason to NOT purchase an all in one expensive curriculum!

TIP #2
One thing I always paid a lot of attention to were the things my children were really interested in. One was interested in figure skating and another in exotic cars and marine biology. Keeping this in mind, I searched for free or lower priced items to create learning opportunities. There are so many free printables and online activities these days. Here is a list of places to search for great free or cheap resources-

  • Pinterest - tons of free printables there. Look for boards per subject or grade.

  • Google for worksheets - search under Images or find links in blogs, etc.

  • Search Free Homeschooling resources and get involved with some of those resource sites, groups, or blogs. For teens, there are several sites with free college courses on them.

  • Facebook - There are multiple groups mentioning free homeschooling resources. Ask to join and see what you can get there.

  • Instagram - Check there for links to free printables.

  • Libraries - Still a great free resource for books, DVDs, computer programs, books on tape, and even textbooks. Our library has several copies of Hooked On Phonics, as well as Rosetta Stone Spanish.

  • Goodwill, Savers, etc. - I find excellent resources there in their books! I often find textbooks as well as tons of reading options. Kids books are often under a dollar each.

  • E-bay often has lots of used or older curriculum or bundles of grade related resources.

  • Museums - Often they have in house learning opportunities to go along with your visit. Some offer free resources and activities online.

  • Local homeschooling groups - Other families can be a great resource for ideas, group activities and used curriculum.

TIP #3
The most rewarding and potentially the least expensive form of homeschooling is child led learning. Focus not on what everyone thinks your child “should” learn and focus on what your child WANTS to learn.

Spend your days exploring with your child. Head off to historical places or museums, go on picnics while listening to an audio book. Going on bike rides through the fall leaves talking about how they change can be as educational and rewarding as any high priced curriculum. Is she into a particular book or movie? When he is curious, help him explore with his whole heart. It is amazing how they can jump “grade levels” in subjects like spelling when they decide it is time to write something that is important to them! Let them take the lead and use the resources you have with the Internet, libraries and people you know instead textbooks. Let your child fall in love with learning. That will provide so much more for their life long term than any high priced program.

The Most Important Homeschool Planning Task Most Parents Skip

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I have been homeschooling for over 15 years now.  There is one thing I always do before making any serious plans for the next year.  Most parents skip this step and I think it is the most important step to having a really successful year.

Before choosing curriculum, or planning anything really, I ask everyone about these 3 questions...

What did you love about homeschooling (or being in school) last year?

Get details!  How did it make them feel?  Was what they were studying interesting?  Did they like how they studied it?  Where they studied it?  Who they worked with?  Success leaves clues.  Figure out what was working and why.  Ask yourself and your spouse, too.  What you find out could lead you to make  very simple tweaks that could make this year absolutely amazing!

What was not so great about last year?

This question could also unearth some easy to fix issues.  For us, one of our kids did not like when the dog was in the middle of things when we were working.  Easy fix, but one even my child did not realize until we talked about it on purpose.

What do you want to work on this year?  

This is the biggie for me!  You will be amazed at the answers.  When your child is empowered with their own education, they know when they need more in math or extra reading time.  When they own it, they don’t fight you either.  That is what we are aiming for in the long term, aren’t we?  My goal always is to help create young adults who will make great choices about their lives.  This is such a perfect place to start giving them a way to figure out what they want and need.

I often throw out one other question.  Do you want to homeschool this year or would you like us to explore other options?  I am still amazed that every year they choose to homeschool and thanked us for allowing them that option.  This helps get rid of the grumbles about what they think is going on in the schools too.  One of my children did opt to go to the local high school for choir, drivers ed, and speech one year.  It was a great experience for her and us.  It wasn’t one I would have thought of either.

This year when getting ready to start your school year, ask your family these questions.  I would love to hear some of the answers too!  Share on our Facebook page or in our group.