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    A number of years ago, Walt Disney World marathon was celebrating its 15th anniversary with a special finisher’s medal that I wanted. I had never run a race before. In fact, I had never run a single mile. But I firmly believed I could run a 26.2 mile race. Crazy, huh?

    At some point my husband and I verbalized another seemingly impossible idea — what if we don’t send our kids to school and instead we teach them at home? Again, crazy.

    Along the way, I’ve realized that much of what I learned while preparing for and running a marathon relates directly to our homeschooling journey.

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  • Why a Spiral Approach Works for Teaching ScienceAs a child, you probably found yourself twisting the spiral that bound your notebook together, watching it circle through the holes down the side of the paper. It looped through a hole then through the next, over and over again all the way up the page. The spiral is a bit mesmerizing to both the eye and the touch. In education, we use the analogy of a spiral to describe a type of teaching.

    A spiral approach to teaching means students circle back to learn about topics multiple times throughout their education, allowing them to remember more at a greater depth as they advance through their studies. BookShark Science uses this spiral technique.

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  • 7 Ways Children Can Gain Read Aloud ConfidenceThe best way to build a reader is to read aloud early and often, to surround yourselves with print, and to delight in the written word. If your child has positive memories around reading, and if your child sees you reading regularly, you are on the path to raising a reader. That said, not all readers are confident at reading aloud. In fact, many adults will blush and stammer when asked to read aloud! Still, this is a skill that should not be overlooked in your homeschool experience. Reading aloud builds fluency, boosts comprehension, and engages critical thinking skills.

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  • Why Homeschool Is Best: Flexible Routines and SchedulesWith our flexible homeschool schedule, we’ve had the space and control to achieve a perfect rhythm for our days. This schedule has not been imposed on us by public school, and we’re reaping the rewards!

    Life is much more relaxed, and the kids are learning more, too. Flexible routines and schedules are another reason why I say homeschooling is best.

    Science backs the importance of routines for children. Psychology Today speaks about the comfort that children get from having a predictable routine. When they know what is happening, they feel safe. 

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  • How BookShark Inspires More (& More) Reading

    BookShark, from Level 4 and up, has your children reading approximately 12 to 16 books independently and 11 to 16 books as read alouds during a school year.  Some parents worry that a child won’t want to read that many books, but having talked to many other BookShark families, I find the opposite is often true. Many children love reading the assigned books so much that they actually read even more books than BookShark schedules. 

    BookShark has done the research and carefully chosen novels and non-fiction that will captivate your children and help them learn more about a particular era through living books versus dry textbooks. For many children, the books they read through BookShark serve as a springboard for even more reading.

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  • My fifth grader lies in the sunshine. Although her eyes are closed, I can tell she’s paying attention by the slight smirk on her lips. She loves this book—Where the Mountain Meets the Moon from BookShark Reading with History Level 5 Eastern Hemisphere. And in the passage today, we’re about to find the Old Man in the Moon. Our daily ritual of reading aloud is one of our favorite parts of the homeschool day. It's not only a time for us to lose ourselves in a story, but it is also time for us to talk and share our ideas.

    BookShark’s invitation to read and discuss literature with my child on a daily basis helps my daughter dig into themes, characterization, and main ideas without the drag of worksheets. In each of our discussions, she’s learning and practicing reading comprehension skills without detracting from her joy of reading.

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  • 3 Easy Learning Games to Keep Your Active Child Engaged

    My first grader was born running. At birth, she showed up 25 minutes after we got to the hospital. At ten months, she ran circles around me and her sister. At 18 months, she potty trained herself. At 27 months, she organized small bands of marauding neighborhood preschoolers. (I wish I were kidding.) 

    This girl is my spitfire. She’s my firebrand, my Katie-bar-the-door. And the truth is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Except when it comes to homeschooling.

    Shakespeare's description from A Midsummer Night’s Dream suits this child to a tee, “Oh, when she is angry, she is keen and shrewd!...And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

    B is brilliant.  She’s also hilarious, charismatic, and an absolute challenge to teach. I’ve never seen a child with a stronger will or a more insatiable appetite for play. In the homeschool classroom, B requires constant stimulation, and it has to be fun.  

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  • Communicator: a person who is able to convey or exchange information, news, or ideas, especially one who is eloquent or skilled.

    Thanks to the Internet, we live in a time where everyone can express their thoughts and feelings in an instant. Yet it seems people struggle to actually communicate.

    Communication requires skills that go beyond simply sharing opinions. Unfortunately, many in our world tend to talk at other people instead of to or with them.

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  • Yes, I’m a Packrat. And I Hoard Books for HomeschoolingThere has been a large movement taking place over the last several months, one that promises to improve your life, simplify things, and keep you from being overwhelmed. Your house will take less time to clean, your outfits will take less time to plan, and your life won’t be cluttered with what is unnecessary. Free yourselves from the guilt of having too much, we’re told. You don’t need as much as you think and you can absolutely be content with so much less.

    This movement has a name—minimalism—and even the newest decor trends have embraced the impact of less.

    I am not a minimalist.

    In fact, I’ve been identified by many as the total opposite. I am a packrat.

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  • From Box Day to Day One with BookShark

    Is there anything more fun than getting a box filled with books delivered to your doorstep? Yes, there is! Opening a box filled with books! 

    My daughter yelled at me from across the house, “They’re here! The books are here.” It didn’t matter that we had company over or that she was in the middle of a project. The BookShark box had arrived, and life could resume after we opened it. 

    One, two, fifteen, twenty-five, forty-four books later, a calligraphy kit, instructor’s guides, origami kit, and student guides later, a sea of books lay across our kitchen table. Although it was still a few weeks before she’d start fifth grade, our BookShark Box Day made it hard to wait. 

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