Monday, January 24, 2011

Free Web resources to help you homeschool

Sarah is doing her first university exam today for Old Testament Survey.  Besides enrolling in two distance ed university courses with Moody Bible Institute, Sarah is completing her grade 12 studies this year and she will be our third home school graduate and the last of our students. 

Looking back we've relied less and less on the public library and more and more on the internet for our homeschooling resources.  Several of you have called us with homeschooling questions -- can you really home school your children?  Is home schooling the right choice for your students?  What curriculum should you use?  I want to tell you that, yes, you can homeschool your children successfully.  You've been doing it since they were born, helping them learn the english language, how to walk, how to set the table, how to behave in a group setting.  And there are so many resources and supports available now that weren't available when I started homeschooling in the early 90s.  If you are willing to invest the energy and discipline in your children you can be successful.
Successful home schooling, tailors learning to a student's learning style and individual interests, while meeting or exceeding the learning expectations for their age level.

I am not dictating that everyone must homeschool their own children, but if you want to give your children an education tailored to their individual gifts, learning styles, interests and weaknesses -- homeschooling may be a good choice.  Since homeschooling is so much a part of who we are at Joybilee Farm and the fiberarts are integral to our learning approach, I wanted to share some of our strategies for successful home education and some of the resources that we've found along the way.  I'll try to do this once a month, so check back for more resources next month.

Some free internet downloads that have enhanced our studies:

Stellarium is an open source plantetarium program that allows you to insert any date and any place on Earth and look at the night sky. You can even use it to plan a star gazing evening and program your computerized telescope to take you on a tour of the night sky. We downloaded it and have been watching planetary conjunctions, looking at the Star of Bethlehem in June 2 BC, and even solar and lunar eclipses that we miss because of our latitude.  Its available for Windows, Linux and apple platforms.  Its free.

Kindle from Amazon is available as a free application for PC.  Once you download Kindle to your PC (or get a Kindle devise from Amazon for $100+.) you can download thousands of classical titles for free or just a couple of bucks. Sarah loves G. A. Henty and Kindle has over 70 Henty novels as individual titles (free if you live in the US) or get a single volume of 70 of Henty's novels for a few $. 

GA Heny's books are historical fiction that is well researched, written in the late 19th Century from a Victorian perspective. 

Another interesting writer of this time period, R M Ballantyne's novels are available on Kindle for free, as individual titles or in anthologies for a few $.  These two prolific writers have 100s of novels between them and they sell for $15 to $20 a piece in reprint editions through many home school sellers.  Or get them for kindle for free.  They are a great adjunct to your history studies.  Just find the time periods that you plan to study and check out the online listings to find out which novels fit with your history studies.

Grade 4 to 12.  Read them aloud to your younger students or let your older students read them alone.  Great resources for the story hour.

Other classical authors with free or inexpensive Kindle books:  Jane Austen, George MacDonald, Lucy Maud Montgomery.  In fact, if the author has been dead for at least 50 years there's a good chance you'll find his or her works available as a free or inexpensive ebook.

Next month I'll talk about learning styles and how to adapt your curriculum choices to your child's individual learning style.  This is the key to successful home schooling strategies and the area where home education can excel.

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