Wednesday, May 20, 2015

7 Ways to Prepare Your Child For High School Transitions {Guest Post}

 Whether your child is heading off to public school, private school or even if they are homeschooled, getting ready to become a high school student can be a huge adjustment for a teen. Parents can do a lot to ensure their teenagers feel comfortable with the academic and social challenges that come with this new phase of education. As your teen gets ready to make the big step into high school, there are several things you can do to help him make the transition. Being successful in high school requires preparation from an academic standpoint. The confidence that comes from academic success can also help your teen to excel mentally and socially. High school can be a very fun time, and your teen is likely to make friends that will last a lifetime. Here are Seven Ways you can assist your child in getting ready for high school. 


                 1. Take Your Child's Concerns Seriously 

Don't blow your child fears about high school off by telling him that "it will be OK" or that you went through the same thing and got through it. For instance, if your teen expresses that he's having problems with high school math, you should do all you can to get your teen the help he needs right away. For instance, online tutoring can help him understand basic math concepts early in the school year. This online option can also make tutoring less awkward for your child.

           2. Help Your Teen Learn The Way High School Works

In addition to online tutoring, it's up to you to show your kid the ropes when it comes to getting used to high school. If your child high school has a freshman orientation program, be sure to attend with your child so you can get first-hand information on school policies and academic expectations. The orientation may be the best time for your teen to learn her locker combination and try it out, or to visit some of her new classrooms.The transportation aspects of high school should also be rehearsed with your teen as much as possible. Go over the public transportation or bus schedule with your teen as many times as possible so you can be sure she knows where her stops are.

                               3. Be an Active Parent

Get involved with all your child activities of interest. Encourage your teen to get involved in extracurricular activities. This helps to foster his social development and gives him a sense of belonging in high school, which helps to form his identity for years to come.

                           4. Get Prepared for Summer

Keep in mind that your teen is very likely to forget some of what she's learned during summer break. Online math tutoring during the summer can help her keep her skills sharp and even prepare her for the next grade level. This can help to boost your child's confidence and even make her excited to go back to school.

                                  5. Get into the Details

Focus on the small details so that your child's first year in high school will be a successful one. For instance, take some time to look over your child schedule for the school year and go over the classes with him. This helps you to become familiar with the things your teen will be learning. Going over the schedule, and learning a little more about the teachers, can also keep your teen from  convincing you that he's supposed to have more recreational or elective classes than he needs.
                             6. Be Ready for Adjustments

Everything isn't going to run smoothly for your child during the first year of  high school. Be prepared by being available to talk to your child about the stresses and confusion that can sometimes come along with being a high school freshman. It's common for your teen to get low grades during 9th grade, but as high school progresses, she'll learn how to do her best and realize her strengths and weaknesses. Encourage your teen to take her first year of high school seriously, but also stress the importance of trying new things and attempting to make good friends.

7. Get Help When You Need It

  Your teen may be anxious or even depressed during the first few months of high school. If you notice that this behavior is prolonged, be sure to seek help from a trusted professional. Changes in sleep patterns or feelings of low self-esteem are also common at times during the freshman year. However, getting your teenager the help he needs in the form of online tutoring or other academic assistance can help your child feel more comfortable about going into the new school year.

Disclaimer: This is a Guest Post provided by Tutorpace. 
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Using Speech Buddies In Your Homeschool {Review}

I determined early on in my parenting years not to compare my children to each other. Everyone grows and develops at different rates and it's not fair to one child to compare them to another. 

Honestly, it can stress a parent out. One child may have begun to walk before they reach their first birthday while the second one takes their grand old time! Maybe your daughter had no problem being potty trained by the age of two but your son still wets the bed into his school-aged years. 

These comparisons are normal and quite common but once we begin to look for the milestones in educationally-based skills, the stress levels tend to skyrocket! Many parents are so eager to have their child reading immediately (like I was with my first!) that we might begin to push a little too hard too young. Then, when number two or three come along it's so easy to compare and expect the same developmental milestones to happen at the same time for each child! Again, every child is different.

Sometimes, a child may just need more time until they are ready to gain a new skill. Sometimes they will excel sooner in areas that their siblings don't. And then, it could be that one child may need to be taught a skill using a different approach than what you've used with others. Some of our children might be visual learners while other are tactile. My second son falls in the latter category. He is more of a hands on learner, which is why Speech Buddies has been working wonders for him!

 When it became to clear to me that other people outside our immediate family had a hard time understanding my son, I knew I wanted to incorporate a speech therapy program into his homeschool day. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it since he already is sensitive to my correcting of his speech and grammar. I first tried a book that was meant for untrained parents to help their child. It was no use. It frustrated my son to no end and he completely felt like he was put in the spot.

 I would tell him to say a sound in the book.
 He would say it wrong. 
I would correct him. 
"But that's what I said!" he would yell in frustration.

This method got old pretty fast. I wasn't quite sure where to go from there. As a homeschooler, I don't have access to free speech therapy as many public school students do. And, in our state, even if you are in the public school system, your child's speech has to be affecting their grades in order for them to qualify. So even if we were in the system, I'm quite sure he wouldn't qualify since he is reading and writing well. The issue with him is just a few sounds that he struggles with such as "R" and "SH." He thinks he is saying it right but just needs help understanding how to form the letters in his mouth.  

Enter Speech Buddies

Speech Buddies are tools to help your student learn the correct placement of their tongue in their mouth for the 5 most commonly mispronounced sounds.

 Easy enough for a child as young as three and effective even with adults, speech buddies are used by professionals and parents alike to help students gain confidence in their speaking ability. What makes this product unique is that it helps the student hear themselves saying the sounds correctly. This is where it seems to be clicking with my son. When he can hear himself, rather than me or someone else saying the sound the right way, then it begins to make sense. 

Now, as with anything, this tool is something that needs to be used on a regular basis to help reverse any bad habits that may have formed over the years. I believe though, that these tools have been helping my son tremendously. He not only is able to hear himself but physically feel where in his mouth his tongue is supposed to be for each of the sounds.When we use this, I can tell the rest of the day that he is beginning to "get it." Honestly, it is just a matter of me being sure we establish this into our daily homeschool routine because on the days I do, I completely see a difference!


Each of the five sounds, R, L, CH, SH and S that are included in the Speech Buddies pack are color coded. Also, each sound has an animal that represents each one. This is great for young children to connect to each sound! I will oftentimes say, "Ok, lets get the rabbit buddy now," this makes it more fun. The colors simply help with organization.

 My son has been working with his rabbit buddy the most because that is a sound that had been hard for him to form in his mouth. I allow him to take the buddy out of the box himself and use it himself. It seems a bit less intimidating than me trying to stick a tool into his mouth like a dentist! He has become accustomed to it, and actually finds pride in doing it, since he does it well. The R buddy is the most fun yet challenging in my opinion. He needs to press the end against the back of his teeth and try to roll the plastic loop out flat as he properly says the R sound! After a few tries he got it and can say it well with the tool. There are instructions both in the box and on the Speech Buddy Website to teach you how to effectively use each tool. There are also suggestions of different words that can be practiced with each sound.

 We would probably only spend about 10 minutes a day working with these tools so it didn't stress my son out. I also have his younger sister work with these tools as well with him to help her learn from the get go the right way to say these sounds. I didn't want my son to feel like I was singling his out so having it part of our homeschool day with him and his sister has simply been fun, hands on and effective!

 Set of 5 ($299)

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Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Speech Buddies. All opinions stated here are my own. A big thanks to Speech Buddies for providing this product in exchange for this review!


Friday, May 1, 2015

The Berenstain Bears: God Bless Our Country

The Berenstain Bears: God Bless Our Country by Mike Berenstain is another wonderful faith-based Berenstain Bears book to add to our collection. I appreciate this series because the reading level is higher than a basic Easy Reader but the content is simple enough for even my preschooler. My eight year old could read this book easily but was still able to learn greatly from it. For the younger grades in our homeschool, half of my curriculum is Abeka based. If you know anything about the Abeka history program for the young ones, then you know that it is strongly patriotic. It focuses primarily on placing a love, understanding and appreciation for our country. 

This book could easily be used as a supplemental resource for American history. My oldest son was was excited to review the Redcoats and my first grader recognized the Statue of Liberty. I enjoyed how the focus of the book was about the celebration of the Independence Day both historically and presently. In our area of the country Fourth of July parades aren't generally celebrated. Yet, in my childhood, I remember the large parades, celebrations and patriotic events. This book not only brought back those memories but taught my children how different people across this country celebrate the birth of our Nation.

Disclaimer: Thanks to the BookLook Blogger program for a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. 
All opinions sated here are my own.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook {Review}

The following is a guest review from my husband.

This is one impressive book. I highly recommend The River Cottage Curing & Smoking Handbook for anyone even remotely interested in curing and smoking. This is a small book but it is packed with a wealth of knowledge. 

This book would be all you need to get started in smoking and curing meats and would be a valuable resource for the pro. They break down the process into all of its steps, ingredients and equipment and explain in detail why things are done a certain way. 

There is a write up on the different types of salt that can be used explaining the benefits and drawbacks of each. There are tables giving quick reference on subjects like smoke favors imparted by different woods, cured products and where they come from, rub flavoring, marinade flavoring and brine concentrations. There are plenty of recipes and descriptive photos that make the process clear and easy to follow. 

This book even packs in a section on butchering, teaching techniques required to complete the recipes contained in the book. I was so impressed with this book I will probably get others from River Cottage.
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  • Disclaimer: This book was provided by Blogging For Books. All opinions stated here are my own or from my family.

My Aunt's Ravensbruck Release: 70 Years Ago Today

 70 years ago today, my Great-Aunt, Clarin Smeenk was liberated from the Holocaust camp, Ravensbruck by the Swedish Red Cross. She was there for over seven months before her rescue. My Aunt was not a Jew, but helped hide Jews on her farm during the war. No person should ever be forced to endure the terror, hunger and torture that occurred in these camps. I was fortunate enough to meet my Aunt when I was eleven years old while visiting her home in Holland. At that age I wasn't ready to hear of the events of times past and she wasn't ready to share. But, years later she did open up to others so that the younger generations would not be ignorant of what happened.

Ravensbruck Concentration Camp  

Parents. Let us not be ignorant of Europe's recent past. Soon, those who experienced this tragedy will no longer be with us. It is up to us, the next generation to be vigilant, alert and aware. 

Kent Hovind has been trying to warn us about some the warning signs of an unhealthy government that can lead to terrible, sinister acts such as the murder of so many in the Holocaust. One of these signs is the belief of evolution. Did you know that Jeffery Daumer, a well-known serial killer and cannibal in the early 90's admitted that one of the main reasons he acted the way he did was because of the theory of evolution? He knew not of a God in which he was accountable and acted as an animal, which is what he was taught he was through the religion of evolution. 

Hitler was trying to give evolution a push, a head start and thought he was doing the process a favor in killing off the Jewish people. We cannot be ignorant of these lies infiltrating our society and need to stand firm against them. 

Today, I honor my Aunt and hope her experiences are not forgotten so that the next generation can be aware of the signs of the times.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hallmark's When Calls the Heart: Review, Giveaway and INTERVIEW Highlights w/ Erin Krakow

Have you seen the Hallmark Channel's Original Series, When Calls the Heart? Well, if you missed Season One, be sure to tune in THIS SATURDAY April 25th at 8/7c to check out the 2 Hour Season Premiere! I was fortunate to get a sneak peek of this premiere and it's not one you want to miss! Even though I have not yet seen Season One, I didn't feel like I was lost or confused watching the premiere of Season Two. They gave a great recap and it was easy to jump right in and fall in love with the characters. 


As a blogger with Flyby Promotions, I was able to be a part of a LIVE phone interview with actress Erin Krakow who plays Elizabeth in When Calls the Heart. It was a tremendous blessing to be a part of this interview with Erin and other bloggers! 

She certainly sounded as sweet and kind as the character that she plays on the show. She certainly is quite likable. When asked if she thought there were are similarities between herself and the character she plays, she said she hoped so! Both are driven, passionate and followed their dreams. Both appreciate the great outdoors and learning new things. Even though Erin didn't grow up in a large mansion as Elizabeth did, she did have a time adjusting from moving from Florida to New York City to pursue her acting career in college. She saw the similarity here in moving to a new place as Elizabeth had to when she moved from her wealthy home to Coal Valley. 

When asked why she took the part of Elizabeth, she simply answered, "They offered it to me and I said yes." She continued to share that she looked forward to having the chance to play in a world different than her own and working with kids. It was one of the best decisions she has ever made! The most rewarding aspect of working on the set of When Calls the Heart has been seeing how the fans have responded to the show. Since this is a family-friendly show that parents can share with their tween and teenage girls, she hopes that young ladies will take away from the show how to lead with kindness, follow your dreams and not to let fear guide you. 

This series is based on the book series by Janette Oke. Erin was able to meet the author last season. Janette Oke came and visited set and made everyone in the room feel important and special. She went around to every one of the children there and made sure to say hello to each one!

What I gathered from this interview is that Erin Krakow has a sweet spirit and a soft spot in her heart for children! The Hallmark Channel Premiere on Saturday that she stars in shows a kind and generous Elizabeth, a character that Erin fits into very well. Watch this weekend and see what happens to the widows of Coal Valley who lost their husbands to a terrible mining accident. There are plenty of surprises, twists and turns and of course, romance!

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Hands-On Fun!

Have you ever heard of a Maker Faire? I hadn't, until this weekend when Martinsville held it's 2nd Annual Mini Maker Faire at The Artisan Center

If you or your kids like science, then you need to go to the Maker Faire website and see if and when a faire will be in your area! We went this past weekend and let me tell you, none of us were bored. 

The faire is certainly great for kids but it's not just for kids, adults are encouraged to experience the hands-on activities as well. From soldering your own light-up robot pin to making your own tee-shirt, adults were involved as much as the kids were!

The 3D printer certainly caught my eye. Ever since I heard about this revolutionary technology it had intrigued me but I had never seen one in action before! It was pretty amazing. Although, it does concern me that the good old-fashioned artist may be put out of business now that a computer can do all the work, it still was interesting to see how far we have come in technology.

Below, is another 3D creator, a 3D doodler. This is crazy! My son is holding what looks like a simple glue gun but in reality melts plastic onto paper into any shape you desire. You are creating a 3D creation, with a pen, it's pretty wild. He worked on this for quite a while and his finished product was a cool boot!

My other son, over here is creating his own slime. 
Simple, easy and fun!

Inside the STEM lab there were several activities that you could partake in, depending on your age. My four year old worked on a computer puzzle and my two boys put together a solar powered car. I was able to play around with a computer attachment that you could hold up to anything, the fibers on your clothes, hair, anything and you could see what it looked like up close.

All kinds of activities were provided, including making your own NAME magnet out of old computer keyboard pieces.  

My daughter loved making  her own hex bug out of a toothbrush and wires. Let the races begin!

 My husband hung out at the wood turner's demonstration for most of the day while the kids and I spent time at each booth experimenting and learning. Again, if you haven't experienced a Maker's Faire before, I don't think anyone in your family would be disappointed!

Oh, and the best part: IT'S FREE!