How To Keep Your Kids Learning All Summer Long!

The end of the school year approaching usually means less structure, lighter schedules, and lots more free time. At my house, we start wistfully watching the calendar around April, yearning for the glorious freedom of summer. For the first few weeks, we need to decompress and take it easy. But after some rest, I like to incorporate some of the principles and skills we’ve learned during the year into our days off. Here are some of the ways we continue learning over summer break, and great resources for you to do the same!

Reading

I’m a stickler about this one all year! Over summer vacation, I encourage the kids to read but I let them follow their own interests, rather than whatever their curriculum calls for. Some of our favorite titles can be found in these summer reading ideas for teens and elementary-aged kids.

Science

I love documentaries and thinking through the questions they often provoke! My kids also really enjoy watching experiment videos on YouTube. Sometimes we try them ourselves and sometimes we just watch. More general science concepts are well represented on these YouTube channels as well, and we always discuss and dive deeper into subjects of particular interest.

History

Did I mention my love for documentaries? Well, it’s been successfully passed to my kids and historical documentaries are a fabulous way to learn important lessons from the past. The big streaming services have a variety to choose from, though I find many to be inappropriate for children, so I pick and choose carefully. But YouTube can be another good option here, with a healthy dose of parental monitoring. These are our favorite, kid-friendly history channels!

Math

Math is just a part of everyday life, so it’s actually really simple to incorporate discussion and learning if you put just a little thought into it. Here are my favorite ways to keep practicing math over a break!

Bible

Scripture memorization is a foundation of education for us, and I’ve used many methods over the years with varying levels of success. This Scripture memory system has been the most effective, and it’s not strictly regimented, making it a perfect summer-time supplement!

***Be sure to join our How To Homeschool For Free Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Homemade, Allergy-friendly Playdough with Baking Soda!

My kids have always loved playing with playdough! We had just about every mold, model, and extruder we could find, and they filled many love hours with imaginative and creative play in their early years. And with summer around the corner the more fun, non-screen related activities we have for the kids to do the better, and what kid doesn’t love play dough?!

I prefer homemade dough because of its low cost and ingredients I could pronounce, but many of the homemade varieties aren’t ideal for those with food allergies due to their use of gluten and wheat flour. So this homemade recipe uses baking soda and cornstarch, making it gentle on the skin and allergy-friendly!

Gluten-Free Baking Soda Play Dough

*This recipe is an adaption of the Arm & Hammer Play Clay recipe

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. The baking soda makes it fizz for a while before it starts to thicken, which is fun for kids to see! Once it starts to thicken, be vigilant because it goes really fast.
Take it off the heat as soon as it’s thick enough to stick together. Leave partially covered, off the heat until it’s cool enough to be handled.
Separate into equal balls and color with food coloring of your choice. Gel and liquid types both work well!

Food coloring typically comes in red, green, blue, and yellow, so have fun experimenting with different mixtures to get the colors you want. Your kids will love mixing red and yellow to get orange, and red and blue to make purple!

Extra fun options

You could also add ingredients like glitter for sparkly playdough! My personal favorite extra ingredients are essential oils, as I find their medicinal properties to be another great perk to this type of creative, unstructured play!

Simply add 2-3 drops of your favorite oils to your finished batch. For a variety of therapeutic benefits, include 1 drop to each ball after you’ve mixed the food coloring.
The possibilities are really endless here but some of my favorites that come pre-diluted for kids are:

Sleepyize – carefully blended with a variety of calming, quieting oils such as lavender and chamomile

Kidpower –  promotes feelings of positivity and confidence

Geneyus – for clarity, focus and, alertness, perfect for creative play

Find out where to get these great oil blends and learn everything you’ve ever wondered about essential oils by clicking right here!

***Be sure to join our How To Homeschool For Free Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Create Your Own High School Transcript From Home!

This question comes up a lot in homeschool circles and groups: what do I do about a high-school transcript? It seems official and formal and scary! But it doesn’t have to be. It’s super helpful to know what requirements your state has for graduation/ college entry, so definitely check out the Homeschool Requirements in Your State to get started.

There are several ways to produce homeschool transcripts for your student, including availability from various organizations and online planner services, but creating your own isn’t as scary as it sounds.

A transcript really only needs the following information

  1. a list of the high school courses that your child has taken,
  2. the grade earned for each course
  3. the credits earned for each course
  4. GPA’s: one for each year and a final, overall GPA
  5. a graduation date/ projected graduation date (for seniors who haven’t yet finished)
  6. Student and school information (student name, birthdate, and/or social security number; school name & address)
  7. your signature

Any additional information is optional (unnecessary) so there’s no need to clutter up a spreadsheet with extra-curricular accomplishments or awards. And their SAT/ACT scores are entered on the actual college application, so there’s no need to include them on the transcript. This is just the academic record. You want it to be as clean and uncluttered as possible. A quick search will pull up hundreds, even thousands of examples to follow.

Check out this incredibly informative post over and Annie and Everything, where she lays it all out for you.

You can download this free transcript template here!

Giving Credit

There are several different ways students may acquire credits. Your state’s requirements will guide you through determining how many credits your student needs in each subject., but oftentimes homeschool moms have questions about what constitutes one high school credit.

To help you make those determinations, here are some examples of how students may acquire credits via subjects or electives:
  • The completion of a high school level textbook
  • Completing a semester-long course at a college
  • Taking a high school or college level online course
  • Completing a year-long unit study (or 2-semester long unit studies)
  • Participate in homeschool sports teams
  • Take private lessons and participate in competitions (Martial Arts, Dance, Swim, Theater, etc.)

General high school credit guidelines are that a 1-year course = one credit; and a semester course = one half credit

What if the course type isn’t so clearly defined? Chess and swim teams don’t exactly measure accomplishments this way, right? In that case, as a general rule, you can calculate credits this way: 120-180 hours of work = one credit. 60-90 hours = one-half credit

Missing Credits

In general, students in a well-planned homeschool won’t be missing credits because the homeschool sets the requirements. As home educators, we are aware of the workload facing our students in their college years and we work diligently to prepare them for success.  That said, it’s wise to contact colleges your student is considering attending and ask them what requirements they look for students to complete.  Don’t be surprised if they expect all state requirements to be met.

The Perfect Transcript

Don’t be afraid to take the time to make a great first impression, but don’t fear the transcript process! You can do this! Ask veteran homeschool parents who have graduated a homeschool student to share a sample with you.

And when you’re all done, congratulate your student on a job well done. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back a little either.

***Be sure to join our How To Homeschool For Free Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

The Question of Homeschool Placement Tests and FREE Testing Resources!

Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests?

This is a tenuous question for a lot of people. Standardized testing is a polarizing subject, and people have strong opinions about it. For homeschoolers in certain areas, it’s a necessity.

The answer to this question will depend on the laws for your area. Whether or not you have to take homeschool standardized tests will depend on where you live and the homeschool testing requirements for your area. State laws (and country laws, if you live outside of the United States) govern whether or not your homeschooler needs to be assessed on a regular basis. There are some relaxed homeschooling states that do not require homeschool testing of any kind, while other states require regular assessments or testing of homeschooled students, generally on a periodic or annual basis.

Head over to our handy list here for state-by-state homeschool requirements.

What about placement tests?

For some learners, it can be helpful to assess aptitude and progress at some points. There are many homeschooling placement tests available from private companies. Many of these have fees associated with them but there are some free options available.

Alpha Omega

Alpha Omega offers placement tests in subjects such as reading, writing, and math. One of the great things about Alpha Omega is that they offer testing options for specific curriculum choices, such as Switched on Schoolhouse, LIFEPAC, Horizons, or Monarch math. It’s a one-stop-shop for free placement tests and placing an order for curriculum for the school year based on those test results. If you’re not interested in using the Alpha Omega curriculum, you will still get results that can help you determine an approximate grade level for your child.

Internet4lassrooms 

Internet4Classrooms is another popular homeschool placement test resource. They range from first grade through college preparation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of options available for each grade level.

If you’d rather administer paper tests, you’ll find the printable options here

K5 Learning

The online reading and math assessment from K5 Learning is good for your youngest students! You can access it for free with a 14-day trial that also includes their entire program! You’ll also receive a free report providing an objective evaluation of your student’s reading and math skills.

This curriculum allows your children to receive a personalized online learning program so that they learn at their own pace and level.

Math U See

While their curriculum doesn’t follow the standard grade-level approach, you’ll find Math U See provides math class options for your youngest students through Calculus. Their free placement tool is online and you’ll receive recommendations online and can call customer support for more advice as well.

You’ll also find many free resources available through the parent and teacher resource pages including worksheets, drills, webinars, and more.

Free placement test options

Saxon Math

Saxon Math is a traditional Textbook based math curriculum that covers Kindergarten through Advanced Mathematics. You can determine where your children will need to start with the free printable placement tests for their curriculum.

While these placement tests are featured on Sonlight’s website you can purchase Saxon math at various places online after completing the free placement test.

Monarch

You’ll need to create an account to access the Monarch Math and Language Arts placement tests for your students to take. They offer online curriculum for all grades and subjects!

If your students enjoy completing their work online then definitely check out this curriculum, just keep in mind you’ll need an internet connection to complete all lessons.

Sonlight 

Sonlight is a Christian-based curriculum company, also providing free homeschool placement tests. No need to make a purchase. Test options include language arts, a general reading assessment, and tests for several popular math curriculum programs.

This curriculum is literature-based, and a wonderful option for kids who love to read!

Lifepac

Lifepac homeschool curriculum features workbooks that are student-paced for Kindergarten through 12th Grade. They offer curriculum for Bible, Math, Language Arts, Science, History, and more! There are free printable placement tests for Bible, History/Geography, Language Arts, Math, and Science covering Grades 1-8 and 7-12.

SAT Practice Tests

Before it comes time for your homeschooler to take the SAT, it’s time to practice, practice, PRACTICE! Check out these great resources for practice ACT and SAT tests!

***Be sure to join our How To Homeschool For Free Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Free Physical Education Activity Log!

Are you new to homeschooling and wondering how to “teach” PE? Or, are you a veteran needing to keep records for your high schooler? In either case, we’ve got you covered with this FREE handy physical education activity log! Create your own list of physical education activities and log them with your own activity log. This is a wonderful mix and match way to teach homeschool PE and it’s really easy to tailor your activities to the ages of your kids.

A PE activity list for younger kids might include 20 minutes of calisthenics like jumping jacks, push-ups, or toe touches, a 10-minute yoga routine, 10 minutes on the trampoline, or a game of tag or hide-and-seek with siblings. Older kids can do any of the above, plus a mile-long hike or walk, 10 minutes of laps in a pool, or a quick game of basketball in the driveway, or even catch or tag in the yard.

The activity log is a way for your children to track their physical activity every day. They pick an activity or two from the options of your choosing. Once complete, they log the date, time spent, and what they did.

Note: for high schoolers, 60 total hours of activity equals 1/2 credit for PE on a transcript; and 120 hours equals a full credit.

Print out your very own PE Activity Log here, for free!

Looking for more ideas? Check out our PE resources for homeschoolers.

***Be sure to join our How To Homeschool For Free Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

What About the “Socialization” of our Children?

“But, arent’ you worried about socialization?”

Ah, the “socialization” question; that not-so-thinly veiled judgment against a person’s decision to educate their own kids. It usually comes from a person who disagrees with homeschooling as a practice. It’s basically just a code for “aren’t you worried your kid will be weird?” Every time I hear this question I have to reign in a snarky comment before answering that, in fact, multiple studies show that homeschooled children are even better at socialization than their conventionally schooled peers. But how can that be?

Homeschool socialization can mean different things to different people

Some people are worried about kids making friends. Some wonder about cultural exposure – how will kids learn about diversity? And some people want to know how kids will learn about society’s norms – being able to follow rules, etc.

Well, according to a paper written on the topic of homeschool socialization by Richard Medlin of Stetson University,

All these things may be a part of socialization, but socialization can be more accurately defined as “the process whereby people acquire the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes that equip a person to function effectively as a member of a particular society”

Medlin, R. G. (2000). Homeschooling and the question of socialization. Peabody Journal of Education, 75 (1,2), 107-123.

How does conventional school socialize our kids?

The thing is, conventional school is extremely institutional. 20-30 of the same kids, all the same age, go through the same routine with the same 2 or 3 teachers, every single day for almost 10 months. That sounds pretty sheltered and segregated to me.

In schools kids do not learn society’s rules of behavior, they learn the school’s rules of behavior.

If the goal is “equipping kids to function effectively as a member of society”, then you have to ask yourself: When will the school experience be replicated in adult life? Sure, they learn how to ask permission to go to the bathroom. They learn to sit silently and raise their hand to participate and only speak when spoken to. But when is that rigid format ever useful to them again? When will they ever need the skills to move in an assigned herd through their day? The only environment that comes to my mind is prison. I think we can all agree that is one we’re actively teaching them to avoid!

So how do homeschoolers socialize?

  • youth sports teams
  • gym-based sports like martial arts, ninja warrior, gymnastics
  • dance, music & art classes
  • co-op classes (group classes with other homeschoolers)
  • community classes (think zoo school, summer camps, rec centers)
  • group field trips
  • clubs – 4H, Lego builders, book clubs, Pokemon leagues, robotics clubs

For example, my kids have been or are involved in:

  • our neighborhood swim team
  • twice a week jiu-jitsu classes
  • weekly American Heritage Girls classes
  • Lego club at our local library
  • An all-day weekly coop: 10-15 students per class, three classes taught by different parents, a meal together, & LOT of free play time before, after & between classes – more playtime than class time, as it should be
  • Several out-of-the-house classes with 1 teacher 12 students or more, some weekly and some bi-weekly
  • Dual credit classes at our local community college (for my high schooler)
  • Weekly tap and jazz classes at a local dance studio
  • Friday night and Saturday rehearsals for a different musical every semester with a local youth theater organization (musical theater has been incredible for my kids) with cast sizes ranging from 80-115 kids, aged 8-19!

Honestly, I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but you get the idea! They get to interact with a lot of people in their day-to-day routines! Social scientists have actually found that homeschooled kids often have better social awareness and skills than their classroom-educated peers.

Homeschoolers socialize better? How can that be?

Well, take another look at the lists above. All of these activities are community-based, mixed-age, and include a wide variety of adult role models – parents of friends, class leaders, librarians, and professionals from coaches to stage directors.

Need more evidence? Check out these excerpts from journal-published research studies, each with a link to the full study for you to deep dive (or copy and paste to a curious relative)

Such question arises mainly in societies in which the institutionalization of children has been the norm for several generations…Numerous studies, employing various psychological constructs and measures, show that the home educated are developing at least as well as, and often better than, those who attend institutional schools. No research to date contravenes this conclusion.  

Ray, Brian. (2017). A Review of research on Homeschooling and what might educators learn?. Pro-Posições28(2), 85-103

These surveys showed that almost all home-schooled children regularly took part in extracurricular activities…In fact, Delahooke found that home-schooled children actually participated in more activities than did children attending a conventional school.

Medlin, R. G. (2000). Homeschooling and the question of socialization. Peabody Journal of Education, 75 (1,2), 107-123.

Montgomery concluded that home schooling parents were purposefully giving their children opportunities to develop leadership abilities. And Johnson found that [they] were actively fostering their children’s development in seven key areas: personal identity, morality, career goals, independence, social relationships, and social skills.

Medlin, R. G. (2000). Homeschooling and the question of socialization. Peabody Journal of Education, 75 (1,2), 107-123.

If you’re worried about socialization, don’t!

The next time you worry about socialization, stop it! Instead, congratulate yourself on the commitment it takes to homeschool! And for the gift that you’re giving to yourself and your kids by spending these precious few years exploring the world together.

You got this, momma!

***Be sure to join our How To Homeschool For Free Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

In Case of Emergency! Does My Child Know What to do?

How many times have I asked myself this question? Too many, probably. It always seemed to pop up for me when reading a news story about a young child dialing 911 in time to save grandma from a stroke or the family home from a fire. I’d hear these stories and immediately feel the panic rise: would my child know what to do in case of a fire? Would she be able to adequately pass information to emergency personnel? Would she panic speaking to a police officer or paramedic?

Heavy questions like these concerned (terrified) me when my kids were young.  And that fear would still creep up at times as they got older. As with most things, though, I’ve found the solution to the problem of “what to do” is to practice.

When they’re little…

Where to begin? Well, that starts with what children are capable of remembering. Luckily for us safety-minded parents, children can retain quite a lot! As soon as a toddler can remember songs like the ABC’s and Old MacDonald, they are old enough to remember emergency information like phone numbers, parents’ names, and their address. I found that my kids (and myself) could remember things much easier when put to music, so I made our phone number and address into a song that we sang once a day, along with our other preschool favorites. Once something was given a tune, they remembered it so quickly! Turns out that music is incredibly beneficial for young children, and musical experiences in childhood can actually accelerate brain development. (A fascinating study was conducted in 2016 by the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute to this effect and that’s well worth a read!)

  • tip: If your child isn’t old enough to learn your number but you will be in a large open area with them, get these temporary tattoos. We’ve done them with our kids at the beach and other places with great success! I was super impressed with how long they stay on! These also come in handy if your child will be traveling with a grandparent or friend. You kid might not have had the chance to memorize grandma’s phone number yet, so this is a quick way for a helper to be able to get your child back to their guardian without any extra steps.

Practice calling 911

Teach your kids about calling 911, and what constitutes an emergency. Talk about when and why it’s important to retreat to a safe distance from the home (see Meeting Place below) to make the call. Make sure they know to go to a neighbor’s home if they do not have a phone to call from. Pretend to be the dispatcher and have them practice answering questions and giving information. Practice makes perfect and the repetition will make the real thing less scary if they ever have to do it for real.

Create a Family Escape Plan in Case of Fire

When it comes to creating a home emergency escape plan, keep these three words in mind – Plan, Practice, Repeat! This is not a one-and-done deal, and it is important to practice over and over with your family. We know that repetition is the fastest way to teach young kids. It doesn’t change as they age!

Know at least 2 ways to get out of every room – After every move or when staying somewhere new, we always draw a map of the house, labeling exits, escape routes, and designating a meeting place. The most important thing to do in case of fire is to get OUT. When creating your map, be sure to draw furniture, windows, and doorways. We talked to our kids and mentioned things like “If you were on the couch, what are 2 ways you could get out?” Or saying where the fire is, and asking them which way they should go to get out. Talk with older siblings about bringing younger ones along on their way out of a room. Talk about safe ways to get pets out of the house if they aren’t in the room with you, like leaving doors and windows open as escape routes.

Set a meeting place – Where will your family meet in case of an emergency? This is an important step that families often forget to plan for. My family has dedicated a neighbor’s home to meet in front of. We are very specific about which home it is, making sure it is a safe distance and I make a point to bring it up often as we drive or walk past it.

Have everyone pack an emergency bag – The goal here is not to pack the kitchen sink, just the immediate essentials you would need if you had to run out of the house in the middle of the night: dry, weather-appropriate clothes, comfortable shoes, water bottle, toiletries. Have your kids help pack them and examine them periodically to make sure everything inside is still the appropriate size or season. Make sure kids know where their bags are and practice getting them when you do your drills.

Ready.gov is a great resource for fire safety and preparedness.

What to do in case of a tornado or hurricane

I have grouped these storm types together for the sake of being concise, but they are very different. In case of a category 4 or 5 hurricane, the best thing to do is evacuate. As a lifelong gulf coast resident, I can tell you that these storms are big and incredibly destructive, but relatively slow-moving, and usually, there are days of early warning. Take the important things and go stay inland for a few days.

If early evacuation is possible for a tornado, then do it. But these storms can happen so suddenly and despite advancing early detection systems, they can be deadly. The safest precaution is to plan for what to do if you must shelter in place. First, identify the inner-most, structurally sound room of your house; not on an exterior wall and away from windows. Emergency bags for each family member may be too cumbersome in a tight space like a bathroom or closet, but you can make a special storm or shelter in place bag with small snacks and water, flashlights and batteries, and a first aid kit. Identify who’s job it is to retrieve the bag before heading to safety. Practice tornado drills with your kids so that everyone knows what to grab and where to go.

What to do if they are lost

Top 10 Budgeting Tips For Teens!

 

Teaching kids how to handle their money is huge. So huge, it should really get a dedicated class at school. Sadly, in most cases, this just isn’t the reality. I don’t remember anything about money management or budgeting from my school years; maybe a lesson or two, but nothing comprehensive. And it really should be comprehensive! There are so many ways to mishandle money, many of which actively target young people and college kids (looking at you, credit card companies!) So the younger we can teach our kids, the better off they will be, and the better their chances are, of avoiding some of these major missteps!

By twelve or thirteen, a kid has largely figured out what the socio-economic situation is in their household. They recognize if they have more or less material things, or go on more or fewer vacations than their friends. They have watched you pay for things with cash, checks, or plastic cards. They have watched you withdraw cash from an ATM. They may have been told “we can’t afford that” or they may have never heard those words. They have also probably listened to financial discussions between their parents. For the most part, we as parents set the stage for teaching our kids about money, just by our relationship with it.

1. Talk about it!

As with most things in their lives, our kids learn most of what they know of money from us. So an important first step is to discuss it! There’s no need to get into the grizzly details of your finances (unless you want to). To start, you may want to only discuss your overall financial values and strategies with them. General discussions can be about your expenses and what allotments of income are needed and where. You can discuss how many more car payments you have left, and how much your various interest rates are. If something might confuse them, make sure they understand why you are doing things a particular way. If you pay with credit cards, explain why: you are accruing airline miles, convenience, they are safer than cash, etc… If you are currently paying off debt, explain how and why.  Teach them the advantages of running your home using only cash. Whatever your financial situation and the story behind it, sharing it with your teens is an important aspect of how to teach your teens about money.

2. Log expenses

This is a really easy way to get your teen’s attention. Have everyone in the house track their expenses in one place. You can be fancy with a spreadsheet, or simple with a notebook! We have used a whiteboard before, and I decided to hang it by the door so it was impossible to miss. And then just log it all! You can leave off the big stuff like the mortgage and car notes, but be sure to track things like gas, groceries, meals on the go, and morning coffee. That way, your teen has eyes on what it costs to run the house.

3. Identify wants and needs

This is a big one. That morning coffee run, the nail salon, take-out on a busy weeknight, all the little luxuries that we like to treat ourselves with can really add up. And if our kids see us do these things regularly, they may not realize that they are extras, and believe instead that it’s just something we do. Take your tracked expense log and talk about the times you purchased in a week. Identify what you consider the “extras” and add up how much they cost that week. Then discuss whether that money could have been better used elsewhere, or saved for a big-ticket, wishlist item. Keep in mind, this is not to judge or shame any spending habits! Just to give some insight to your teen about how much things cost, and how much change can be affected by small adjustments.

4. Saving and long term goals

Once the clarification has been made in your teen’s eyes that some purchases are out of necessity, and others are not, then you can really start the conversation about saving. Just like small purchases can add up to quite a lot, small savings can make a big impact over time. That five dollar coffee every morning on the way to work, can be $100 in a savings account at the end of the month. A savings account is a great idea for this age. And at sixteen, kids can get their own checking account. Our daughter has a savings account linked to her checking account, and she manages these on our bank’s app. Her accounts are linked to mine because she is under eighteen, so I can monitor her activity.

5. Earning money

It’s never too early to impart the importance of saving the money your teen earns. If your kids get an allowance from a young age, have them start saving! If they’re too young for an account, they can save money in yours, or in a fun place like a piggy bank or home safe. As they get older, talk about big-ticket items they want to save for, like a vehicle or college expenses, and help them make that savings plan. If it’s financially feasible for your family to do so, look into matching them to incentivize their saving.

6. Let’s talk about debt

I know. It’s a dirty word in some houses. But it’s also a hard fact of life for many families, and something your teen will have to navigate for themselves eventually. Talk about major expenses like cars, college, housing, and vacations. Talk about ways to avoid credit card debt, like paying off a balance every month and the difference between regular and introductory interest rates. Talk about student loans versus college saving accounts and what is possible for your teen. The more educated they are, the better, and the more confidant they will be when their time comes to make these big decisions.

7. Let them take some responsibility

This part can be difficult, especially if money is not tight for your household, but the sooner a teen has some small fiscal responsibilities, the better equipped they will be for larger ones later on. This can start as small as tithing or donating a portion of their allowance to a cause, and be as major as paying for their own gas and maintenance on their car. The more ownership they have of their money, the more selective they will be about how they spend it. Sit down and decide together the best cause for your teen to give to. He can tithe to your local church, donate money or time to a nearby homeless shelter, or buy supplies for animal shelters in the area. Our family supports a nonprofit that takes in homeless mothers in Kenya and teaches them a trade so they can support their families. There are even ministries that collect money to pay off medical debt for people all over the country!

8. Teach them how to read a pay stub

When your teen earns his first paycheck, break it down with him so he can see how much he actually earned. Show him the difference between his gross and net earnings. Maybe compare with one of yours to show how much is taken out for taxes, retirement, insurances, etc., and discuss these things.

9. Talk about investing

No, it’s not too early to talk about investing or saving for retirement!  This is especially important if you yourself got a late start on this (like me!). Don’t let your teen start late.  Talk about it now. Be sure to explain compound interest – how money can earn interest over time and that it is best to start young. This is especially relevant for saving for college!

10. Model contentment

I think a big problem with saving money these days is that everyone seems to want to keep up with the images and illusions of success that we see all over social media. It’s really important to model being content with what we have, and grateful for our many blessings.  As difficult as it can be at times, avoid comparing your life to someone else’s. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you didn’t start off your adult life well with managing your money, just set a good example and get help with your finances now if you need it. That example is so impactful to our kids!

Books about budgeting

Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

Dave Ramsey, the debt eliminating guru teams up with his daughter to break down money principles and lay firm foundations for kids smart money habits.

Make Your Kid a Money Genius by Beth Kobliner

I definitely did not start out in life with a thorough understanding in this area! But that doesn’t mean my kids have to repeat my mistakes! This book teaches you to equip your kids to navigate their financial future with confidence.

The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins

This book was instrumental in helping straighten out the finances in my family!

Apps and websites

There are tons of apps for tracking spending and tips for saving. Literally, anything you could want and too many to list, but we use Every Dollar by Dave Ramsey.

The mint has lessons and information about financial responsibility for kids, teens, and parents.

Jumpstart has “reality check” exercises that will tell them how much money they need to earn for their desired spending.

Homey is a free app (with in-app purchases) that assigns chores to family members and keeps track of allowance or other rewards earned.

***Be sure to join our How To Homeschool For Free Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Resources To Learn About Italian American Heritage Month

 

October is Italian American heritage month!

Few cultures have influenced the world like Italy. From politics to pasta, music to Michelangelo, Italy has contributed so much to the rest of the world. Whether you have Italian ancestry or not, this is a great time to take a closer look at the history and culture of this fascinating country.

There are so many videos about the history of Italy on YouTube! A simple search will turn up hundreds of options for you to choose from, so it’s always a great resource. But if you don’t want to preview a dozen videos for content appropriateness, then this is a fun and informational video that’s a great place for kids to start!

Resources and ideas

There are a great many books for kids about Italy and Italian immigration to America! Here are a few of our faves!

All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel – Dan Yaccarino (picture book, ages 4 and up)

The Renaissance Thinkers: With History Projects for Kids (The Renaissance for Kids) – Diane C Talyor (chapter book, ages 10 and up)

Ancient Rome for Kids through the Lives of its Heroes, Emperors, and Philosophers –  Catherine Fet and Scott Shuster (chapter book, ages 8-12)

                      

You can also check out this free Italy unit study for Italian American Heritage month from Peanut Butter Fish Lessons!

Life Beyond the Lesson Plan also has a fascinating (and free) unit study about Michelangelo to download and print!

Italian classical music has had a huge impact on American culture in entertainment and media! Check out this fun video about 10 Italian songs you didn’t know you knew!

And for the food lovers in your house, get in the kitchen and cook some delicious Italian-inspired dishes this month! Happy Italian-American Heritage Month! While you’re there, try our recipes for gluten-free alfredo sauce and homemade zoodles!

***Be sure to join our How To Homeschool For Free Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

10 Fun Ways To Prevent Summer Math Loss

I’m always on the lookout for learning opportunities, especially when we’re on a break from our regular learning routine. I find the spontaneous teachable moments to be just as effective, if not more effective at times! Sometimes this looks like workbooks and fact sheets, but sometimes it looks like card games and Legos! Math is tangibly evident in our everyday life and there are many fun ways to incorporate little math lessons into your kids’ day, other than sitting down with a pencil and paper!

1 Play with blocks

Fantastic for littles, simple toys like blocks and tanagram shapes help kids visualize geometric patterns and concepts. And these same benefits can be derived for older kids from Legos!

2 Card Games

Some of our family favorites are Uno and Skipbo

3 Board games

Classics like Yahtzee and Monopoly are hardwired with math fundamentals! (Check out more math game options here!)

4 Make up your own math problems to solve

This is a great activity for the car.  My kids love coming up with hypothetical situations, like how much water would fit in the Grand Canyon!

5 Teach younger siblings how to count and recognize numbers

We learn a lot when we teach and our older kids are no exception! Helping younger siblings is a fabulous math activity.

6 Flash Cards

The old faithful for learning math facts! You can get them in varying levels of difficulty, depending on skill level. They even make dry-erasable flash cards that you can customize!

7 Counting down the days

Whether you’re counting down to a trip, a visit from family or a special event like a birthday or holiday, counting and tracking the days on a calendar helps kids visualize counting concepts!

8 Digital Math Games

Digital learning is a fantastic tool, and the exercises are so fun, they won’t’ even realize they’re learning! Go check out our favorite math apps!

9 Worksheets

Hey, sometimes worksheets just work! And lots of kids actually prefer them. When it comes to free math printables, we’ve got you covered!

10 Helping in the kitchen

This is a favorite because it’s so versatile and easy to adapt for different ages. Older kids can double or triple recipes to flex those fraction muscles. And younger ones can help with prep work like counting places and setting the table (4 big forks and 2 small ones, etc.) Read even more fun ways to get kids involved in the kitchen, right here!

***Be sure to join our How To Homeschool For Free Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

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