A photo of Heidi Ciravola

Heidi Ciravola

Heidi Ciravola has been married to her husband for over seventeen years.  Together they have three children with whom they began their homeschooling journey with in 2006 when their oldest was beginning second grade.  Heidi is a mother, taxi service, and homeschool parent by day and an avid reader and homeschool blogger whenever there is time left over. You can visit Heidi at her blog Starts at Eight where she blogs about homeschool products and unit studies, homeschool organization and general tips, and homeschooling high school, as well as many book reviews, lists, and unit studies.

Why Read Historical Fiction?

Why Read Historical Fiction?Historical fiction is a big part of our homeschool. I believe that reading historical fiction greatly enhances both our understanding of history as well as our retention of facts from history.

That being said, you would be surprised how that flame got lit. It started long before I ever had children, long before I ever got married. In high school I had a history teacher who used historical fiction to teach. We would learn about a topic from the textbook, but we also had to read one historical fiction book from each unit.

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Why My 3 Children Homeschool at Different Times of the Day

Why My Three Children Homeschool at Different Times of the Day

I am not a morning person. It’s not that I am asleep in the mornings because I am not. I actually do not sleep well at all. I do however love the peace and quiet of my comfy warm bed in the morning. As soon as I break that plane and cross out into the hall, the noise and chaos begin.

We have a rule in our house that children are not allowed to leave their room until eight o’clock, and they must have their rooms clean and beds made at this time. I started this rule because my son would be up at the break of dawn and would inevitably make a mess or find himself in some sort of trouble.

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Homeschooling Does Not Ensure Exceptional Kids

a child stands akimbo, dressed as a super hero

When you homeschool, there are certain questions you repeatedly hear and a certain stigma you always live with. For instance, we get asked how we socialize our children. Those whose children are enrolled in a more traditional school setting do not ever get asked this question. It is assumed that public school kids are adequately socialized.

Another assumption is that homeschool kids are smarter, more polite, more advanced, and all around superior to public school children. This incorrect opinion means our homeschooled children are held to a higher standard and face a great deal of intrusive scrutiny. The truth most be told: Homeschooling does not ensure exceptional kids!

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Do Homeschoolers Have Homework?

Do Homeschoolers Have Homework?

When the topic of homeschooling comes up, many people get a quizzical look on their faces before they ask a funny question: “Do homeschoolers have homework?” My first response —and that of my own children — is “All of our work is homework!" Actually, the answer is more complex than saying because we do school at home, all our work is homework.

What about the classes my children take outside the home at a co-op or with a tutor? Is that homework just because we are homeschoolers? What about the field trips we take to zoos, museums, and theaters? Surely those cannot be called homework, right?

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3 Great Reasons To Homeschool High School

Have you ever noticed how the field narrows when you move from homeschooling the elementary years on up to homeschooling high school? As children transform into tweens and teens, families tend to enroll them into a traditional school. But why? There are so many great reasons to homeschool high school!

I know that when the topic of homeschooling high school comes up in conversation,  many people can only come up with reasons why I shouldn’t homeschool high school:

What about prom? Don’t they want to play sports? But they won’t have a graduation!

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5 Jazzy Ways to Begin a New Homeschool Year

Starting homeschool lessons again in the fall can be a little tricky after savoring a relaxing summer with no schoolwork. Over the years, I have found that doing something fun and unique to kick off the homeschool year makes for a smoother transition than abruptly moving from lazy days to a full homeschool routine. 

1. Have a “Not” Back to School Party

We have an annual “not” back to school picnic with our homeschool group, but you could certainly organize something on a smaller scale with a few families or even with you and your children. 

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The Skinny on Grading (or Not) for Homeschoolers

a young girl with braided pigtails stands in front of a rainbow display

When people find out you are homeschooling, you tend to get asked the same questions over and over:

What about socialization? Do you give homework? How will you teach difficult high school subjects? Do you stay home all day long? Do you issue report cards and grades?

Let's camp out on that last question about grading. Do all homeschool parents grade homeschool work? Nope! Homeschoolers are a varied bunch.

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Why I No Longer Homeschool Through the Summer

I was so worried about summer slide and about keeping ahead of the curve that I didn’t stop to think about any other consequences of my choice to school through summer.

Homeschooling through the summer kept the kids academically up to pace. For instance they didn’t lose math concepts since they were practicing them all summer long. What they did lose, however, was a true sense of freedom, breathing deeply, and just being.

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How to Add Volunteering to Your Homeschool

an adult and child pick up trash

From the time my kids were young, I have wanted to volunteer in our community both to teach selflessness and to provide ways for my kids to give back to the community. Being a homeschool family means that we have more flexibility to volunteer, so we use that benefit to serve others.

By being deliberate about looking for volunteering opportunities, I have found three great options that really make a difference. 

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Stop Summer Slide by Encouraging Summer Reading

Stop Summer Slide by Encouraging Summer ReadingThe research is clear that kids lose educational progress while on summer break. It is estimated that this summer slide accounts for as much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their upper/middle class peers.

This summer regression happens math, science, writing, and especially in reading. Reading offers a gateway into all the other subjects. Reading allows children to stretch their brains and heighten their imaginations.

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