Author, educator, master naturalist, and homeschool mom passionate about family life, traveling, & staying active.
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Category Archives: Homeschooling
At Academia Celestia, we have a nature centured curriculum and use a unique blend of materials and methods suited to our lifestyle of learning. We take our cues from the rhythm of nature and the children’s many and varied interests. Within this category, I share with you our many adventures and the experiences we have enjoyed along our homeschooling journey.
Some time ago I shared with my readers a series of books for young girls that I found both inspiring and uplifting, Queen Girls. The women featured in these short biographies are amazing – strong, determined, and courageous.
I am now delighted to announce two additional titles in this wonderful series: Junko, Queen of the Mountains and Marie, the Bright Queen.
Each of these books continues in the style of the previously published titles. The women featured in the books are of diverse ethnic backgrounds and their stories are brought to life through engaging stories. The soft, colorful illustrations are done by Denise Muzzio in a simple style that may even inspire your young artist to try to paint her own heroines.
The goal of Queen Girls Books is to teach our children that our diversity makes each one of us unique, equally capable of doing anything we set ourselves out to do. To encourage them to find their happiness, passion, drive and self-confidence from within.
Marie, the Bright Queen! Inspired by the story of Marie Curie, the first woman to receive two Nobel prizes for her discoveries. She is known for her pioneering work with radioactive materials and the discovery of two new elements: Radium and Polonium. She was also the first female professor at a university.
Junko, Queen of the Mountains!Inspired by the story of Junko Tabei, a Japanese mountaineer and the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, bordering Nepal and China. She was also the first woman to ascend all the Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent.
Whether you have girls or boys, these books will warm your heart and inspire your children. I encourage you to share them with your loved ones.
I have always been fascinated by languages. In fact, raising bilingual children is was one of the primary reasons we chose to homeschool. Along the way, we have purposely sought out resources and opportunities to develop fluency in a second language.
Finding materials for Norwegian is not easy (at least where I live) so I was very excited to discover the New Amigos board game. New Amigos makes language learning fun and interactive!
The game has sold over 42,000 copies in Norway where it was developed. In Europe, it is distributed through toy stores, department stores, as well as book stores. Thus far, there are several versions available including: Norsk-English, Norsk-Spanish, and Norsk-Arabic!
Developing Language Skills
You can play either as an individual or on teams, independent of language knowledge or age. By virtue of three difficulty levels, played in parallel, even novices can stand a chance against advanced speakers and learn the basics of the language along the way.
The game works in two directions: native English speakers, for example, but wish to learn Norwegian can play the English-Norwegian version with speakers of Norsk who wish to learn English. The vocabulary is learned by everyone as each player takes his or her turn.
I have compiled a list of my favorite Norwegian Language Resources for families interested in learning Norwegian, Snakker du Norske?
Even players with the same language background and goals can play together. In other words, though both my daughter and I desire to learn Norwegian and are at different levels ourselves, we can successfully play the game together and learn from one another. We do not need to play with someone who speaks the language fluently.
The correct pronunciation of words in foreign languages is no problem, as New Amigos uses a unique phonetic system that doesn’t require any advance knowledge. Unlike the dictionaries, the words are spelled using Latin alphabet letters instead of phonetic symbols.
New Amigos Game Play
The goal of the game is to win cards over three rounds, each new round begins after seven cards have been won. This is accomplished by translating cards in both languages. The winner is the player who, in the final round, translates all of the played cards error-free.
Novices translate simple words, while advanced players translate more difficult words. In addition to vocabulary, there are also sentences and idiomatic expressions. New Amigos also includes geographical information and cards focused on culture, business, and food and drink.
New Amigos is a great game for language learners of all skill levels. Available for purchase online, there are four bilingual versions presently available: Spanish/Norsk, Arabic/Norsk, English/Norsk, and Spanish/English.
Kids need adult mentors in their lives. Adults with whom they trust and share common interests. Sometimes mentors can be a family member – an older sibling or an uncle. A mentor can also be a family friend or teacher within the community.
When we lived in Redding, my daughter developed a strong relationship with an elderly woman, Karen Scheuerman, who volunteered her time to lead nature outings for the youth in the community. In the beginning, we looked forward to these weekly excursions – a component of our Roots & Shoots club – because it was a chance to get outside and discover a new part of the local ecosystem.
As time progressed and we got to know Karen more, a mentor relationship developed that helped to foster my daughter’s interest in the natural world. Though we have since moved away, the lessons she imparted have stayed with us. Their connection fostered a passion for service and protecting the environment for my daughter.
Sadly, we recently learned that Karen has passed away. As we reflected on all that she taught us about caring for animals and caring for the environment, I began to realize just how important mentors are in the life of a child.
I also realized that Karen had special qualities that epitomized a great mentor relationship. She was of course friendly and outgoing but she had something special.
What are the qualities of effective adult mentors?
What qualities stand out to you in a mentor who is ultimately able to make a difference in the lives of youth? Below, I have outlined six important features of successful mentor relationships:
Be a friend
The successful mentors are the ones who can be a positive adult role model while focusing on the bonding and fun of a traditional friendship. It can be difficult for youth to befriend an unknown adult.
As a mentor, your goal is to help the relationship evolve into one of closeness and trust—but if you sound like you think you know everything or act like a parent and tell him what to do and how to act, you are likely to jeopardize your ability to build that trust.
Have realistic goals and expectations
Strong mentoring relationships do lead to positive changes in youth. These changes tend to occur indirectly, as a result of the close and trusting relationship, and they often occur slowly over time.
Have fun together
Sharing your expertise on a subject is of course educational and rewarding in itself. Having fun together also shows that you are reliable and committed. It is always possible to weave educational moments or real-life learning into the most “fun” activities. This is the kind of learning that youth tend to enjoy. It is learning with an immediate purpose and an immediate payoff; often they don’t even realize that they are learning.
Role models are highly important, helping to guide us through life during our development, to make important decisions that affect the outcome of our lives, and to help us find happiness in later life.
Giving your mentee voice and choice about activities will help build your friendship. Allowing them the freedom to choose or suggest activities demonstrates that you value their ideas and that you care about and respect her or him. The process can also help the child develop decision-making and negotiation skills.
One of the most important things a mentor can do is to help develop self-esteem and self-confidence. Be encouraging and supportive; not criticizing. Many youth appreciate being able to bring up issues and having an adult who responds primarily by listening.
Just listening gives kids a chance to vent and lets them know that they can disclose personal matters without worrying about being criticized.
Respect the trust placed in you
As your relationship develops into one of closeness and trust, there might be times when the youth discloses something that causes real concern. As a supportive adult friend, you may be able to express that concern, but deliver your message in a way that also shows understanding and an ability to see her perspective.
At our weekly Scout meeting earlier this week we talked briefly about how we, as individuals can make a difference. If you do your duty, then you can make a difference and though you are just one person, together youth activism has the power to impact the world.
Youth activism is youth engagement in community organizing for social change. Youth participation in social change focuses more on issue-oriented activism than traditional partisan or electoral politics.
As hard as it seems, it’s possible to make a difference. All it takes is one idea and the right mix of determination and willpower to effect change at the local level. Start with one thing you’re passionate about and find small, local ways to organize and find solutions to the problem.
By now, everyone has heard of Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist focused on the risks posed by climate change. She began her school climate strike only a year ago. This past week, she inspired over 4 million people to take a stand for climate.
“Everyone is welcome. Everyone is needed.” ~ Greta Thunberg
Greta is great. However, if we center our attention and lift up only the white youth leaders on an international scale, we risk recreating the exact same dynamics of instilling a culture of white supremacy that is present in modern, adult organizing spaces. We risk silencing the voices of black, indigenous, and people of color .
Indigenous youth and adults have been tirelessly leading the fight for climate justice for millennia and yet their voices have not received the same recognition. Let’s celebrate a few of these amazing young activists!
Autumun Peltier, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory in Canada, was appointed chief water commissioner for the Ashinabek Nation and was recently nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize, awarded annually to a child who “fights courageously for children’s rights.” She was only 13-years-old when she addressed the UN General Assembly and told world leaders to “warrior up” to protect water.
Isra Hirsi, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike. She helped launch the U.S. movement the same month her mother, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, took office. She says the climate crisis “is the fight of my generation, and it needs to be addressed urgently.”
Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is an indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. He has fought for climate protections and spoken to large crowds about the effects of fossil fuels on the Indigenous and other marginalized communities since he was six years old. In 2015, Martinez and 21 other youths filed a lawsuit against the US Federal government, Juliana et al. v United States et al. They argue that the federal government is denying their constitutional right to life, liberty and property by ignoring climate change.
ROOTS & SHOOTS
Are you a young person interested in making change, but don’t know where to start? Or are you an adult who is inspired by the recent wave of youth activism in the U.S. and want to help out? Consider Roots & Shoots; join an established group in your area or start a new group for your homeschool community or at your school.
Roots & Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute, is a global movement of youth who are empowered to use their voice and actions to make compassionate decisions, influencing and leading change in their communities.
What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ~ Jane Goodall
Founded by Jane Goodall in 1991, the goal is to bring together youth from preschool to university age to work on environmental, conservation, and humanitarian issues. Roots & Shoots is a movement for youth just like Greta, Autumn, Isra, and Xiuhtezcatl …. just like you or your children.
As a former elementary science specialist, science has always been a major part of our homeschool. During the grammar and logic stages, I taught each of the kids together following a three year cycle (life, earth, and physical sciences) emphasizing hands-on labs and outdoor experiences.
As the kids have matured and their interests have developed, I have begun to customize their coursework to align with college in mind and their individual career goals. As a result, the courses they have taken (or will have taken in the near future) are unique to each.
*Make sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post for an online homeschool high school science course. Giveaway ends 8/30/19!
Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time for this review. All opinions are honest and I was not required to post a positive review.
Options for Homeschool Science
Providing a quality science education through high school is a common concern amongst homeschool families. Considerations like budget, time, and even your own level of comfort are frequent topics of conversation at co-op or in online forums.
There are many different avenues available for teaching science in your homeschool. While traditional textbooks, lab kits, and literature based instruction remain popular, online courses and dual enrollment are gaining momentum.
In our homeschool, we opted for the dual enrollment option. This was the best choice for us for a multitude of reasons but primarily cost. Keep in mind, it is important to take into consideration the aptitude and maturity of the student prior to making this choice. It isn’t for everyone.
Additionally, the grades the student earns in college courses will forever be on their transcript. It is also critical to research the local regulations and admission guidelines of the universities to which your child intends to apply. Not all schools accept dual enrollment credit.
Another related option is credit by examination. Students may earn college credit through examination by passing standardized exams in numerous subjects including biology, chemistry, and natural sciences. Taking an accredited AP course is NOT required. Students may study independently using textbooks, online courses, or even tutors of their choice.
There are a growing number of companies that provide diverse online educational opportunities for students around the world. From computer programming to local ecology, the choices are endless.
Online classes are not just for kids. There are a wealth of courses and materials available for adults providing both personal enrichment and professional development.
College Prep Science
One provider that stands out is College Prep Science. I am impressed by the acumen of the author. He has worked as a college professor, has more than twenty years of experience teaching homeschooled students, and he’s a homeschool dad!
The course offerings are diverse, here are a few that will be offered September 2019:
Biology – College Prep (9th-12th) – Two Semester Class
Chemistry – College Prep (10th-12th) – Two Semester Class
Physics – College Prep (10th-12th) – Two Semester Class
Human Anatomy & Physiology (9th-12th) – Two Semester Class
Exercise and Sports Physiology (8th-12th) – One Semester Class
Like most public and private schools, College Prep Science uses a virtual lab service with all classes that allows students to perform very realistic labs online. Students are able to virtually pour liquids and chemicals, light burners, move things in the lab, weigh things, measure temperatures, record results, etc.
The courses provided by College Prep Science are Christ-centered.
Students are instructed on how to produce quality lab reports and they turn-in formal lab reports which are graded. Emphasis is placed on students understanding scientific inquiry, the scientific method, and the resulting science lab reports.
“We focus on building critical thinking skills and developing a research and inquiry mindset with the resulting quality lab reports and thinking skills that affect every area of academics and life.” ~ Greg Landry, College Prep Science
Summer Camps & Weekend Intensives
Often you can also find incredible summer opportunities at your state university. A year ago, my daughter took part in a week long intensive engineering camp where she was able to take part in authentic research, connect with professors in her prospective field, and make friends with other teens with the same goals.
College Prep Science
College Prep Science offers two day Biology and Chemistry Lab Intensives in 15 locations nationwide. Parents may issue school credit for these as they deem appropriate. According to their website, each two day intensive is the equivalent of a full school year of labs.
They also provide online bootcamps for ACT prep and CLEP Biology prep. For students planning to be science majors in college, doing well on the “science reasoning” section of the ACT is especially important.
My daughter has been interested in engineering for as long as I can remember. She’s taken part in a numerous STEM workshops for girls over the years. Last summer, she had the amazing opportunity to take part in a summer intensive workshop (SESEY) at the university where she plans to enroll.
SESEYwas created to encourage traditionally underrepresented groups to explore the world of engineering and to consider careers in its variety of fields. Initiated by Oregon State University in 1997, SESEY is coordinated by the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering.
Participants have the opportunity to interact directly with university students – to ask questions about campus life and how to balance their course load. Presentations and tours of each department are provided to help students better understand the diverse options in engineering.
Best of all, participants have the unique experience of taking part in an authentic research project. Working in small groups, they apply the inquiry method to real life issues. At the end of the week, they present their findings in poster format at the annual DaVinci days celebration.
My daughter was overjoyed to be assigned to the one environmental engineering project this past year – Bioremediation of Chlorinated Solvents Using Aerobic Microorganisms. Here’s a peak at her poster:
The program – especially the professors and university student volunteers who collaborated to make it happen – has cemented her desire to pursue a career in chemical and environmental engineering. She will be applying for admission soon.
You might also be interested in the engineering unit I developed, World’s Tallest Buildings. This short unit study includes a timeline project, integrated writing assignment, and an oral presentation.
Have your teens taken part in summer learning experiences or weekend intensive courses? I would love to hear about opportunities in other parts of the country.
你好！My name is Eva and I am a homeschooling mom to two middle school children. I'm a former middle school science specialist who has embraced the independent nature of homeschooling. Travel and authentic learning experiences are important to us as a family. I hope you'll find encouragement and practical help here. ♥
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