California Archives - Page 2 of 4 - Eva Varga


July 1, 20143

When you first begin the homeschooling journey, finding the resources you need can be overwhelming. In an effort to alleviate some of the confusion, I have been writing a series of posts to help new homeschooling families navigate the waters in California.

Homeschooling in California

These past couple of weeks I have been talking about homeschooling laws, how to choose curriculum, finding co-ops and communities, and field trip opportunities in California. If you’re looking to start homeschooling or you are looking for more support and you live in California, I’ve gathered some great resources for you!  Just click the links below for laws, field trips, support groups and free resources!

If you don’t live in California, no worry!!  I haven’t been alone. There are nine other homeschoolers across the nation that have joined together to help bring you resources for all 50 states, plus a HUGE Homeschooling Giveaway with over $1400 in prizes!

StatebyStateHomeschooling State by State is Brought to You By:

Follow our pinterest board for all things homeschooling in the USA!

Enter the Linkup Here:

Are you a blogger? If you have written a post regarding the homeschooling laws and resources in your state, join in!  Add your link to the inLinkz Link-up below and your link will show up on all hosting blogs!

Prizes

Giveaway Information

To get you off on the right foot this school year, we’ve gathered some of the best curriculum and supplies in a HUGE giveaway!   The Homeschooling State by State giveaway is divided it up into 3 huge prize packs worth over $450 each!

Special Discount Codes

A couple of our sponsors have reserved special discounts just for our readers. Magic House Pencils – Get a WHOLESALE DISCOUNT with FREE SHIPPING on any order over $9.50!  Click the wholesale button and use code: wholesale88 for 5 pencils and 1 lead refill for only $3.95! Lessontrek Lesson Plan Tool – Get 50% off a year subscription!  Use code JULY50BLUE at checkout.

PreKPreK – 1st Prize Pack $450 Value!

$25 Amazon Gift Card Alpha Phonics Package $80 Value Rock N Learn Sight Words DVD 3 Pack Handwriting Practice: From the Bible! Books 1,2, 3 – Brookdale House Children Learning Reading Program – Whether your child is 2 years old, 3 years old, 4 years old, in pre-school, kindergarten, or in early grade school, this system of learning to read will help your child become a fast and fluent reader. Magichouse Pencil Pack $60 Value! All About SpellingAll About Spelling Level 1, Deluxe Spelling Interactive Kit Character ConceptsLevel 1 Preschool Basic Curriculum $90 Value! In this 36 week course, preschoolers will not only learn 12 basic character qualities, but see them applied by the Boyer Cousins, people from the Bible and real people in American history! Christian Preschool Curriculum eBooks

2ndUpElementary Prize Pack (2nd grade+) $500 Value!

$25 Amazon Gift Card Beautiful Birds – Shining Dawn Books Butterflies Flutter By – Shining Dawn Books Elementary Bible Study eBook Bundle – Grapevine Common Sense Publishing – Learning Language Arts Through Literature Teacher & Student Book – An exciting and different approach to language arts learning. The Fun Spanish – Brookdale House Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades Collection – Introduces children to seven different composers, dating from 1685 to 1828 (Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini and Schubert). $170 Value! Birch Court Books Book Pack, Wisdom and the Millers, School Days with the Millers, and The Daisy Chain. We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards Geography of 50 States – A Helping Hand – Student learns US geographical regions, geographical features, and how geography helped shape history. Homeschool Diploma Heritage History Set $90 Value! Enchanted Homeschooling Mom has donated her US State Study & Christmas Around the USA printables. Homeschool Astronomy – A Full Semester of Computer-based Astronomy Lessons! $80 Value!

AnyAgeAny Age Prize Pack $510 Value

$25 Amazon Gift Card Charlotte Mason – Shining Dawn Books Lessontrek planner year subscription $60 Value! Magichouse Pencil – The Smartest Pencil in The World, No Sharpening, No Clicking, Just Write. $60 Value Pack! Southern Hodgepodge Chalk Pastels at the Beach Raddish- Kitchen Science Box CTC Math Online Program 12 Month Family Membership – An interactive online math tutor that provides over 57,000 interactive questions and over 1,367 animated math lessons. $300 Value!!! Keyboarding for the Christian School – Computer curriculum using Bible verses and excerpts from Christian authors for lessons! Squilt – Music Appreciation Made Easy

Enter the giveaway here:

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June 29, 2014

After making the initial decision to homeschool, the choice now rests on how to homeschool.  The most arduous of tasks is choosing curriculum. But it doesn’t need to be .. come along and I’ll guide you.

When meeting homeschool families, some of the first questions homeschoolers tend to ask are, “What curriculum do you use?” and “What kind of homeschooler are you?” To new homeschoolers, this can be completely overwhelming.

curriculum_resourcesDefine Your Style – What Are Your Goals?

Take a minute to think about what you desire for your children.  What are your goals for their education. Write out everything you believe about education. This is your mission statement; it will become your foundation for all of the choices you will make along the way.

After you have your mission statement, you will have a better grasp on what methods/theories will best suit you. Research the homeschooling methods out there and find one that matches your core beliefs. Here are a few of the most common styles.

  • Classical (including Thomas Jefferson and Well-Trained Mind)
  • Unschooling (including Delight Directed, Relaxed, Child-Led, and Radical Unschooling)
  • Charlotte Mason
  • Religion or Faith Based
  • Hybrid Schooling (including Virtual Schools, Online Charter Schools, or Distance Learning)
  • Montessori
  • Waldorf
  • Eclectic (aka, a combination of two or more styles)

As you progress along the journey and discover new tools and styles, don’t be surprised if your mission statement evolves or changes to better suit your family.  This is natural and one of the benefits to homeschooling.

Once you have a grasp of your homeschooling style, you will be better able to choose curriculum that is right for you and your children.

Choosing Curriculum

When looking to purchase curriculum, there are a few things to keep in mind. There are A LOT of options available today and so take time to peruse samples.  Request catalogs from publishers (Rainbow Resource, Classical Conversations, Peace Hill Press, Home Science Tools, etc.).  Many curriculum providers also have free samples or excerpts available online.

Read reviews and reach out to other homeschool families.  We love to talk about the choices we have made.  Ask us what we’ve used, whether we liked or disliked it and, most importantly, why. The very reason that a certain piece of curriculum didn’t work for my family may be the exact reason that it will work for yours.

The biggest thing to remember when choosing curriculum is that there is no one perfect curriculum; there is only the best fit for your family.  You may even decide NOT to use curriculum for every subject – and that is perfectly okay.

Keep the learning style of your kids in mind. If your child is a visual learner, workbooks might be the best choice for him. If, on the other hand, your child is a kinesthetic learner, you may want a more hands-on approach. Your voracious reader might enjoy a literature-based curriculum.

Utilize your library (if they don’t have what you are looking for, they may be able to get it via interlibrary loan). You may also be able to find it used – either at a local curriculum swap or online.

Don’t overlook the work that other homeschool families share online.  Many homeschool bloggers like myself make the materials we create available for free.  Click here to see my free science materials.

Finding Resources

Even if you have filed an R4 (establishing your own home-based private school), don’t feel like you have to do it all alone. If you are open to it, there are many ways in which you help your child achieve her goals in unconventional ways.

Homeschool Co-ops are groups of homeschooling families who join together to enrich their homeschooling experience by learning from and with one another. Often these groups will participate in field trips, sports, classes, etc. There are often mom’s night out activities and retreats to encourage and refresh us moms in the midst of our busy lives. As with any organized group, structure and rules vary from group to group.

Some homeschool parents volunteer their time to teach private classes for other homeschool families.  These small-group classes vary depending upon the skill and knowledge of the parent but may include literature circle (book club and/or writer’s workshop), art, woodworking, sewing, cooking, hands-on science, etc.  There are even online classes especially for homeschool families.

Similarly, you may seek out a private tutor or instructor for one-on-one classes.  This is particularly applicable to foreign language and music.

One area that many families overlook are resource specialists in you community. I have found that many specialists in the community love sharing their knowledge and skills with young people. This is particularly true of agencies funded by our tax dollars like the Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife, and National Parks.  Reach out to them and see what programs or opportunities they may offer. Many of these agencies also have extensive resources and lessons – even complete units – available for free on their websites.  Do a little digging and see what you can find.

Join me again next week when I discuss, Homeschooling in California: Preparing for College.

Don’t live in California? Starting July 1st, I’m joining homeschoolers across the nation to help bring you resources for all 50 states, plus a HUGE Homeschooling Giveaway with over $800 in prizes!

 



June 22, 2014

With growing opposition to Common Core, the number of families that are choosing to homeschool is growing exponentially.

As a veteran homeschool mom, I know first hand that making the choice to homeschool is both exciting (it opens a whole new world giving you the freedom to do what works best for you and your family) and intimidating (your child’s education and future is truly in your hands).

No matter when you choose to take this journey (whether your child is just a toddler, is in the midst of third grade, or has just entered junior high), I want to reassure you that you can do this.

You CAN homeschool successfully.

I have had the privilege of homeschooling (thus far) in two states, initially in Oregon and presently in California.  I am familiar with the laws in both states and will be writing about each over the next few weeks.

homeschooling caliBeginning the Journey – How do I homeschool in California?

When we first moved to California, I debated the pros and cons of the homeschool choices available to me:

  • Establishing your own home-based private school (R4),
  • Enrolling in a private school that offers independent study (PSP),
  • Using a public school independent study program (ISP) or charter school that caters to homeschoolers or,
  • Using the tutorial option (if you have a credential).

Facilitated Homeschooling

For those just getting started in homeschooling or whom simply want someone to guide them along the way, I would suggest any of the three latter methods (private school, charter school, or hiring a tutor). As each school is very different in their approach and what they have to offer, you will want to learn about the specific options in your local area.

Compare and contrast the programs they provide. Some will assign you the curriculum materials they have adopted for your child’s grade level, some will purchase on your behalf the curriculum you choose, and others will provide you with a monthly stipend. Some charters will also provide 1-2 days of enrichment activities (art, science, music, language, etc.) and quarterly field trips.

If possible, meet with the facilitators and find out just how much freedom or flexibility you will have.  How often are you required to meet?  What kind of student work or documentation is required?

Be aware that charter schools are in fact public schools. As such, as a student enrolled, participation in the Common Core exams will be expected. Presently, it may be possible to opt out of these exams. Be sure to read all the materials before signing enrollment contracts.

When we first moved to California, I was intrigued by the myriad of opportunities. Each of these options appealed to me in different ways, but in the beginning, we opted to partner with a public charter school (or umbrella school).  I selected one in which I felt would best meet our needs and I met with the facilitator one afternoon.  I liked her right away and the kids were excited for the weekly enrichment day.

Within a few months, however, we discovered that an umbrella school was not the choice for us.  We had become too accustomed to doing things our way and I felt constrained by the requirements expected of me by the state. The busy work was killing us! 

Unbeknownst to us, many of the enrichment day activities were gobbled up with testing requirements of one sort or another.  We thereby opted to return to what we were accustomed to – doing it on our own – and I thereby filed an R4 to establish our own home-based private school.

Other homeschool families I have spoken with since have shared their experiences with umbrella schools (whether private or public charters). Everyone has a different story – some love the guidance and support. Others, like me, felt constrained by the requirements.

What is important is that you find a match for your needs.  Find what works best for your family. 

Independent Homeschooling

Undoubtably, if you choose to homeschool independently, you will have more freedom. Filing an R4 is a pain-free, simple form that is completed online once each year in early October (or upon disenrolling your child from another school).  It takes just a few minutes; you simply list the number of students that will be enrolled and what the grade range.  There is no need to denote what curriculum you are using or to specify what courses you plan to teach.

Establishing a home-based private school can at times be a little daunting but it is also a very rewarding option. Though you are technically on your own, there are so many resources available today that help is just around the corner.

I will talk more about choosing curriculum and finding resources again next week, Homeschooling in California: Choosing Curriculum & Finding Resources.

To learn more about the specifics of each homeschool option in California, you may also be interested in the California Homeschool Network’s How to Homeschool 



May 19, 2014

We presently call Northern California home, or more affectionately NorCal.  It is the northern portion of the state and includes the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, two metropolitan areas. In far northern California lies the Shasta Cascade region, a wonderland of outdoor recreation – surely providing staycation opportunities for all interests. 

The Shasta Cascade region, covering 25% of California, offers everything from glistening lakes and world-class rivers to scenic drives and backcountry roads.  It is the perfect escape from the fast pace of city life providing something for everyone to discover and enjoy whether it be great recreation, adventure or pure relaxation.  norcal staycation

Snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, prairie swaths of forest, volcanic landscapes; the Shasta Cascade region provides scenic vistas within just a few hours drive – ensuring the journey is half the adventure. Choose from a number of great opportunities in this diverse region to create a staycation of your choice 0r follow the suggested itinerary of the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association.  

Check out some of the fun NorCal excursions you can enjoy:

Discover the culture of the Coastal Native Americans, explore the Redwoods, and Pacific ocean beaches at Patrick’s Point State Park near Trinidad.

Lassen Volcanic National Park will amaze you with the variety of remarkable hydrothermal features.

With 27 miles of hiking trails, Castle Crags State Park will keep you busy all weekend.

Though the historic sailing ships, Lady Washington & Hawaiian Chieftain, call Gray’s Harbor home, they are often docked in San Francisco.

At Lucero Olive Oil, you can get a peak behind the scenes at one of the state’s most lucrative agricultural resources.

We never leave the bay area without visiting San Francisco Chinatown, one of our favorite places to do a little shopping and enjoy a delicious meal.

We enjoy the tour at Shasta Dam so much, we’ve done it three times!  As one of the largest concrete dams in the world, it is a must see!

For more NorCal field trips, check out my post 10 Free California Field Trips.

Free California Fieldtrips

 Other fun activities you may enjoy throughout the summer

no matter where you live include:

  1. Go to a movie.  Invite the neighbors for a block party, projecting the movie onto a rented screen or sheet hung between trees.
  2. Go antique shopping.  Seek out unique, locally owned antique and second-hand stores. You never know what treasures you might discover.
  3. Charter a boat & go fishing.  Go fishing with a guided fishing charter.
  4. Volunteer. Volunteer as a family at a local homeless shelter or work with the park service to improve trails.
  5. See a ball game.  The country is dotted with major and minor league baseball teams; get some sun, have a hotdog, and relax.
  6. Host a potluck or barbecue.  Have the extended family over for a reunion or host a block party.  Ask everyone to bring something and share.

For more staycation ideas, visit the iHomeschool Network’s Summer Staycation Link-up.

SummerStaycation



March 14, 20141

For many regions of California, 2013 ended as the driest year in recorded history. That trend has continued into 2014, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a drought state of emergency in January of this year. Though rains have begun to fall and storms have threatened some regions with flooding due to the lack of vegetation after recent fires, officials are clear that the precipitation will do little to offset the years of drought.

feast or famineInspired to see the effects of the drought, we took a drive a few weeks ago up to Lakeview along the shore of Lake Shasta in Northern California. On this walk, we looked for signs of the weather’s effect in nature and especially for the effects on food, water, and shelter for animals.

We also observed evidence that man has changed the environment. The construction of Shasta Dam in the 1940s created a 4.5 million acre‐foot reservoir, the largest in the state. The dam captures water from three rivers (the upper Sacramento, McCloud, and Pit). As a result of the dam construction, abandoned towns, roads, and railways ended up under water.

The extremely low water level at Shasta Lake has revealed this part of the state’s history.  Today’s low water level is revealing some interesting things from that bygone era – like the old railroad lines that used to run through the area. Tunnels and train trestles that are normally under about 100 feet of water are now visible.

We enjoyed walking around the lake bed. As we did so, we marveled at the normally hidden engineering projects. The sediment was so soft, we were able to observe animals tracks and small vegetation taking root.

Creative Nature WalksFeast or Famine? is one of many suggested nature study outings in Creative Nature Walks, a fun, new book by Cindy West.  For families new to nature study, Creative Nature Walks is a great way to begin a weekly outing with your family.  She provides more than 100 exciting nature walks ideas that are sure to get you out the door in minutes and grow your family’s love for nature. For experienced families like us, her ideas provided a new spark; a little twist on our usual routine.  I love that!

 

 



March 14, 20141

For many regions of California, 2013 ended as the driest year in recorded history. That trend has continued into 2014, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a drought state of emergency in January of this year. Though rains have begun to fall and storms have threatened some regions with flooding due to the lack of vegetation after recent fires, officials are clear that the precipitation will do little to offset the years of drought.

feast or famineInspired to see the effects of the drought, we took a drive a few weeks ago up to Lakeview along the shore of Lake Shasta in Northern California. On this walk, we looked for signs of the weather’s effect in nature and especially for the effects on food, water, and shelter for animals.

We also observed evidence that man has changed the environment. The construction of Shasta Dam in the 1940s created a 4.5 million acre‐foot reservoir, the largest in the state. The dam captures water from three rivers (the upper Sacramento, McCloud, and Pit). As a result of the dam construction, abandoned towns, roads, and railways ended up under water.

The extremely low water level at Shasta Lake has revealed this part of the state’s history.  Today’s low water level is revealing some interesting things from that bygone era – like the old railroad lines that used to run through the area. Tunnels and train trestles that are normally under about 100 feet of water are now visible.

We enjoyed walking around the lake bed. As we did so, we marveled at the normally hidden engineering projects. The sediment was so soft, we were able to observe animals tracks and small vegetation taking root.

Creative Nature WalksFeast or Famine? is one of many suggested nature study outings in Creative Nature Walks, a fun, new book by Cindy West.  For families new to nature study, Creative Nature Walks is a great way to begin a weekly outing with your family.  She provides more than 100 exciting nature walks ideas that are sure to get you out the door in minutes and grow your family’s love for nature. For experienced families like us, her ideas provided a new spark; a little twist on our usual routine.  I love that!