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Homeschool History Hacks

 

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Local History

Begin where you are! Have your kids learn a little local history about your city/town, your county, and your state. Visit your town hall. Research the deed to your house. Or just use Google. Over the course of a year our Homeschool History Club, which I’ll describe later, took us from our own house and town, from county-to-county and borough-to-borough clear across Long Island, New York.

Family History

I concur with Renée, the official grandparent interview (and written report!) is a MUST for every child. Ideally they will be able to do four of them but of course that’s not always possible. If a grandparent is recently deceased they can certainly be researched by other means. Interviewing another older relative, family friend, or neighbor works fine for this exercise too.

Talking to my grandfather (who turns 101 next month!) always felt like a vivid history lesson. He was a pilot in the Polish Air Force; he escaped Hitler and wound up in England where he met my grandmother. I had known the basics of his story for years….but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I came across an amazing book – that essentially told his personal story.

Our children’s grandparents and great-grandparents all have rich personal histories interwoven with the events of world history. Help your children discover their own personal connection to the past and in the process they will forge tighter bonds with loved ones.

Vacations

We planned a family trip to Hawaii last year….and what did my wife do? She Googled “Hawaii Unit Study” and found all sorts of books for our kids to read on Hawaii before we got there. A little foreknowledge will not only make a trip more interesting, more educational, and more memorable….but it will also help you justify the ridiculous costs!

Our Hawaii trip got cancelled because we decided to move to London. When informed of this my son lamented, “Oh great, now Mom is going to make me read a bunch of books about London!”

And she did…

Audio-guides and Audio-tours

Museums can be hard on visiting families. Sometimes the kids are too young and bored out of their skulls….and they end up torturing the rest of the family who is trying to take it all in. But almost all the major museums today have interactive audio-guides, often for free and often even “child-friendly” versions of content. We’ve found that our children LOVE them. Audio-guides really ramp up their level of engagement and consequently decrease their level of parental torture.

In the same vein, I highly recommend narrated or audio-guided tours of cities. They are everywhere now, very affordable, and a great way to get the lay of the land when visiting an historic city (or Seattle!). We’ve done them now in Paris, Amsterdam (river cruise), Edinburgh, and just this week we enjoyed a terrific “hop-on, hop-off” bus tour in Liverpool. Definitely do them on the first day of your arrival.

History in Homeschool Groups

I already alluded to a History Club that we partook in for a couple of years. Each month had a theme (planned well in advance) and the children would spend the month preparing an oral presentation of their choosing. Some kids read written reports, others used PowerPoint, some dressed up, made illustrative artwork and handicrafts, brought in artifacts, etc. It was a terrific experience for many reasons including its low cost, relaxed nature, varied presentations, and, importantly, it introduced the kids to public speaking.

Another great idea is to do what one of my local New York groups did. Each month they invited a person, native to a foreign country, to come and speak to the kids about his or her homeland. These meetings were complete with food from the speaker’s country, story-telling, and props to make the experience come alive for the kids. The families all chipped in something nominal – like a $2 donation as an expression of gratitude.

Our homeschool groups on Long Island also put on a terrific “Historic Costume Ball” where the kids, obviously, dress up and try to play the part of famous figures from the past.

And in Manhattan we have loved our annual History Fair where the kids go on stage and offer clues as to who they are….while the other kids in the audience try to guess their identity. Here’s my son a couple years ago as….well you’re going to have to guess!

Historical Fiction

Parents are always asking me how I “teach history”. Of course I explain that I don’t teach it. Other than the hacks you are reading here, my wife and I mostly just throw books at the kids. History is primarily a “content” subject as opposed to something like math which is really a discipline. Ideally your children will accumulate a whole lot of historical facts and ultimately understand how they weave together and inform the present and future.

So we’ve thrown a small mountain of books at the kids over the years and really any book set in a distant time period falls into the category of Historical Fiction. My daughter is keenly interested in the Depression, slavery, and the Holocaust BECAUSE of the novels she’s read – not because she’s been assigned chapters in a dry history text.

Just research the book lists of Ambleside Online and The Well-Trained Mind. Have your kids read all the Newbery Award Winner books. Librarians can certainly give great book suggestions as well, of course.

It almost goes without saying that the older the book….the larger its inherent historical component. Project Gutenberg has a good deal of the old ones, for free. Are you using it yet?

World Travel

You might think this is out of reach….but you are wrong.

It was years ago that I first read about homeschooling families traveling to exotic locations all over the globe – spending winters in Florida, months in Italy, China, or driving across America in an RV. Back then it was seemingly impossible for us too.

But where there’s a will, ultimately there’s a way. In all likelihood, no matter what you do, there will arise a work opportunity or a missionary opportunity through which you can take your family abroad. It doesn’t take much time Googling to learn about families who’ve traveled extensively on shoestring budgets either. (Or send your kids away as foreign exchange students.)

Why should you travel?

Because it’s, by far, the best way to make a study of history truly come alive.

I can honestly say that I feel like, despite years of school, college, and reading small mountains of history books….that I truly didn’t know ANYTHING about Europe until I moved here 8 months ago. It’s one thing to read about history, but it’s quite another to experience it.

A couple days ago we were exploring Liverpool and I came across a statue of the Duke of Wellington. Wondering who he was I asked my 9-year old son and he said to me, like I was a blithering idiot, “Dad, he destroyed Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.”

And note this is hardly the first time I’ve been condescended on like that.

Clearly, the way my kids are learning history….is far superior to the way I learned it!

 

Dan (3 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at HomeschoolDad.com.


A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***Early Christmas special for HOMESCHOOL POST readers: 25% off BIBLE STORIES 5 DVD Boxed set + FREE SHIPPING. Over 17 hours of content including 15 stories and 15 complete step-by-step art lessons. Code to use: HSP http://www.seethelightshine.com/store/bible-stories.html***
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Homeschooling in Ohio, the Buckeye State

Laws for Homeschooling in the Buckeye State

Homeschooling in the Buckeye State, laws and information

Every state is unique in its legal requirements for homeschooling. Homeschooling in the Buckeye State, Ohio, is considered to be a moderate legal requirement state. This is because notification to the local school district is required as well as follow up assessments at the end of the year. It sounds worse than it is. Really.

I’m going to break down each step of the requirements for homeschooling in Ohio so you can see that while moderate, the freedoms written within the law are very beneficial to the homeschooling parent.

When notifying the state of the intention to home educate your child, it is just that —  a notification. It is not a request for permission. While you are required to assert a few stipulations and you must provide a list of curriculum and materials that you plan to use, doing so is used as a reference by the school district. Basically, they need to see that you have some sort of an educational plan.

  • Notification Form 3301-34-02: this is a basic governmental form that allows you to checklist the specific requirements. Include the names of each child as well as their birth date. You are not required to provide a grade level. In lieu of this form, a letter of notification, containing the same information is also valid.
  • Brief outline of the intended curriculum for the current year. (Such outline is for informational purposes only). Submitting this outline, is in no way limiting you to the list only. You have the freedom to change plans throughout the year, and again, you aren’t getting approval for the plan. It is a simple listing of a plan.
  • List of textbooks, correspondence courses, commercial curricula, or other basic teaching materials that the parent intends to use for home education. (Such list is for informational purposes only.) This list of materials is again, simply showing that you have a plan for your homeschool year and you are in no way required to stick to the plan if you find something isn’t working or you want to add to it.
  • Assessment Report form 3301-34-04 for previous year. (If you are homeschooling for the first time, you will not need this report; it is for ongoing home education). An assessment is required at the end of each full year of home education. With an assessment you have 3 separate options.

Option #1: Standardized test results submitted to your district. With this option you can choose to have your child participate in the local school district testing, or you can submit test results from any nationally standardized test. Often co-ops will host a testing day and such results can be submitted. Or you may utilize a standardized test packet at home that is scored via the publisher.

Option #2: Portfolio Assessment. This assessment may be performed by any state certified teacher. Upon review of a portfolio, the teacher signs a document, available from the state Christian Homeschoolers Association, that states the child is working at their level of ability.

Option #3: This is a little known option that allows a homeschool parent to make an alternative arrangement with the superintendent of the local school district.

As you can see, while there are specific requirements for homeschooling in the Buckeye State, there is a lot of flexibility and freedom written into the Ohio homeschool laws. {Tweet That} Ohio is blessed to have an active Christian Home Educators of Ohio association (CHEO) that monitors legislative law, and lobbies on behalf of home educational freedom. There was an additional law passed within the last year that now allows for home educators to participate in public school extra curricular activities without any additional requirements.

Homeschooling in the Buckeye State Learning Opportunities

Ohio is a large state with 88 counties, 3 major cities ( Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati), as well as a wide variety of smaller cities such as Dayton, Toledo, and Akron. From banking to tires and farming to clothing manufacturers the Buckeye State is home to a wide array of businesses and industry. Science and the Arts are also well represented in each corner of  the state; while the history of Ohio has played a key role in much of the nation’s history. Below are a few of the historical reference points.

Homeschooling in the Buckeye stats; Historical Notes about Ohio for Homeschoolers

Photo Courtesy: Flickr.com/photos/jamiedfw (text added)

History Notes for Homeschooling in the Buckeye State

  • Native American History abounds in the state.
  • Ohio was first settled in 1788 in Marietta.
  • The 17th state in the union.
  • Ohio was the front-line for the war of 1812.
  • 8 U.S. Presidents were from Ohio.
  • Ohio was pivotal in the Underground Railroad.
  • Ohio was home to Harriett Beecher Stowe.
  • Ohio’s River Canal System was pivotal in the expansion into the western front.
  • Thomas Edison was born in the Buckeye State.
  • Ohio is the birthplace to the Wright Brothers.
  • Ohio houses the National Airforce Museum.

As you can see Ohio offers a wealth of learning opportunities. Every county, every town and each city is filled with historical museums, theaters, libraries and industry. The educational offerings are endless. That’s why I took it upon myself to write an ebook guide for the state of Ohio concerning homeschooling in the Buckeye State and included links to enhancement class options, co-ops, field trip opportunities and more: Ohio Homeschooling Guide & Directory.

Ohio Homeschooling Guide and Directory

 

 

How about the laws in your state? Are they similar, easier or more involved? Share yours in the comments.

Image Courtesy: Thanks to Philipmartin.com for the Ohio Flag and Buckeye clipart.

Renée (19 Posts)

Renée Brown is author at her personal blog, Great Peace Academy. She is a homeschooling mom to her one amazing son, Jonathan and has been the wife of her Beloved Michael for 21 years. On her blog you will find discussions about her work as a homeschooling mom, her family and her faith.


A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***Early Christmas special for HOMESCHOOL POST readers: 25% off BIBLE STORIES 5 DVD Boxed set + FREE SHIPPING. Over 17 hours of content including 15 stories and 15 complete step-by-step art lessons. Code to use: HSP http://www.seethelightshine.com/store/bible-stories.html***
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10 Tips for a Frugal Homeschooling Staycation

 

I don’t know about you but I am a bit of an enigma. On the one hand I love to travel. I like getting in a car, setting out on an adventure, and exploring my surroundings along the way. On the other hand, I’m a bit of a homebody. I like to stick close to home and spend time with my family and enjoy the surroundings I live in on a regular basis. We don’t have opportunity to travel that often, so when we do we usually make a big trip out of it.

Staycation Tips

But more often than not, we find ourselves making mini trips, or what has been coined a staycation. In the last few years with the economy so low, a lot of people are adopting a staycation mentality. That means exploring the areas that you can drive to and back home within a day. Doing this affords the opportunity for a bit of adventure without the overwhelming cost of hotels, exorbitant gas prices and too many meals out at restaurants. Yet, travel of any kind, even to a not so distant attraction comes with costs. After all, even the local zoo charges a fee to get in. A staycation can offer your family a fun-filled, no pressure day to build memories. {Tweet That}

So how can you utilize the staycation mentality and still keep your costs at the lowest possible prices?

10 Tips for Frugal Staycation Fun

10 Tips for a Frugal Homeschooling Staycation

  1. Pack your meals. I am a small family of 3, yet a meal at a local fast food restaurant can easily cost us $30. But, if I pack a few ham and cheese sandwiches, split a large bag of chips into 3 baggies, add some grapes and juice boxes I can manage to make a lunch meal for about $2 a person. That is a huge savings.  Throw in a few extra bottles of water into that cooler, and you won’t be buying the over priced bottles from the tourist vendors.
  2. Buy gift cards from your local grocery. Most grocery stores now have gas stations as well and if you purchase your groceries from them, they offer you discounts on gas prices. But they also allow that gas discount with gift card purchases. If you know you have to eat out while traveling, plan ahead, purchase a gift card for the restaurant that you plan to eat at in the location you are going to, then use the gas perks to buy your gas for the trip.
  3. Look for ticket discounts. Often tourist attractions offer discounts to local residents. They do this by partnering with a local grocery chain. Go online and search for discount tickets to the attraction that you are planning to go to. Check with supermarket chains in the local area that you will be going to and see if they offer discounts or coupons for that attraction.
  4. Check your family memberships. Many zoos, museums, and science centers offer reciprocal programs across the nation. That means if you have a family membership to your local zoo, chances are you can get in free or at a reduced rate to a zoo in another city. The same is true for science centers and museums. For example, I live in Central Ohio, a membership to the local COSI (science center) means I can get free entrance into the science center in Newark, Cleveland and Toledo too, all within driving distance of home.
  5. Visit the National Parks and Museums. National parks offer a wide variety of hiking, camping, and often are found in historical locations, visits to such parks offer a wealth of homeschooling/field trip studies as well as family fun staycation time.  National museums are funded by American tax dollars. That means you get free admission. So look for national museums that are within driving distance of your home.
  6. Ask for a Discount. Tourist attractions, especially those that have are educational in nature, often offer discounts to educators. As a homeschooling family, you are an educator. They can’t know this if you don’t ask. So ask. Be prepared though to present some type of identification of your standing as an educator. This can be a membership car to HSLDA, or another membership to a homeschool organization. I show my letter of excused absence that I receive from my local school district and that has always sufficed.
  7. Visit Factories. Sometimes a factory offers tours to the public. These factory tours are an awesome way to introduce your children to the world of industry, business,  commerce, engineering, manufacturing and so much more. Some factories offer these tours for free because they know that many who take the tour will end up making a purchase in their visitor centers and gift shops.
  8. Visit your local farmer. Call ahead, and ask if the farm offers tours for educational purposes. If they have a minimum number of participants, work with your homeschool group or co-op and make a day out of it with friends.
  9. Spend a day at your State, metro or local park. Most park systems offer a wide variety of fun and learning opportunities. Do a bit of research online, you might just discover that the park you’ve visited for years has an entire program you aren’t aware of.
  10. Rent a Canoe. Often times you can find a company in your area that rents canoes to tourists. You get to spend a day on the water with your family for a nominal fee and explore your local area from a different perspective at the same time. It’s sure to be a fun and frugal day! (Don’t forget to pack a lunch.)

Whatever activity you choose to do close to home, remember that the purpose of a vacation, er um I mean staycation, is to have some time of fun and relaxation. Let go a bit and just let your family be happy together. It might just be the best memory you ever make.

What are your best frugal staycation tips? Share in comments.

Renée (19 Posts)

Renée Brown is author at her personal blog, Great Peace Academy. She is a homeschooling mom to her one amazing son, Jonathan and has been the wife of her Beloved Michael for 21 years. On her blog you will find discussions about her work as a homeschooling mom, her family and her faith.


A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***Early Christmas special for HOMESCHOOL POST readers: 25% off BIBLE STORIES 5 DVD Boxed set + FREE SHIPPING. Over 17 hours of content including 15 stories and 15 complete step-by-step art lessons. Code to use: HSP http://www.seethelightshine.com/store/bible-stories.html***
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