Life As It Was - April

So this was our first full month of being socially-distanced, working from home and schooling from home. After 2 weeks in March spent figuring out this new normal, April was the month rules were defined and routines established.

Schooling at home best practices: 
  • Established wake up times and bedtimes for the girls. They set alarms for when to get up on their ipads and understand that this is a weekday requirement
  • Created and printed out a weekly schedule for their schooling. This schedule incorporates the work their getting from their teachers as well as the work I'm assigning to them from our list of homeschooling resources (See here, here and here). The schedule runs from 9:30 to 4:30
  • Schedule in some free time as well as time to video call with friends so relationships are maintained.
Family Time: 
We're spending more time outside with regular bike rides and walks.


Potty training was an all-hands-on-deck affair with the girls being very enthusiastic and helpful about helping their little bro use the potty. The result is Mr.Boy is day and night pee trained. We're diaper-free. He's still not comfortable pooping in the toilet so we're still using pull-ups. I know Spice had that trouble transitioning as well and understand it's more a psychological/emotional issue than a physical one. We'll be patient in pull-ups until he's ready to make that final leap. 

Homeschool Resources - Coding, Art, Languages

This is Part 3 of my collection of homeschooling resources and focuses on supplementary skills and subject resources viz coding, art and second languages.

Coding

The world of teaching kids to code has come a long way from the BASIC computer language classes I attended in grade 6. Here are some of the online resources helping to grow the coders of the future.

Scratch
This Massachusetts Institute of Technology project has been an explosive success among parents and kids alike. It's especially designed for kids from ages 8-16 to get a foundational knowledge of coding. One bonus is that this website is so popular, it's easy to find complementary project idea books for the kids to use. I only wish it came in an app like the junior version. I just transitioned the girls to this website last week and they love it. Sugar has already built and published 3 games. Spice has struggled with understanding the site and would prefer to continue using the Jnr version but her sister is helping her out. I may buy them this book if they run out of  project ideas.


Homeschool Resources - English, Science, Math

While the first part of this series focused on general resources, in this post I'll be listing subject-specific resources for elementary school primary subjects (English Language Arts, Science and Mathematics)

English Language Arts

Storyline Online
Features videos of celebrities reading children's books. Each book reading includes a recommended grade level and run time.

ReadTheory
A free K-12 reading comprehension resource. My kids were introduced to this in grade 4 and became instantly addicted.
Sources of free books

  • The free section of Amazon Kindle library
  • Your public library (usually has an Overdrive or Libby app for ebooks). The twins have enjoyed accessing their favorites like Babysitter's Club series. 
  • Any Little Free Library near you (PSA: Wipe books, wash hands!)
  • Bonus: The Harry Potter At Home portal is for fans. Apart from fun activities, it also highlights the Harry Potter book that is available for free on (audio and ebook) on various platforms. 

Science

National Geographic Kids
Here you'll find free videos, games and nature-themed information. If your kids is really entranced by this site, take things a step further and gift him/her an annual subscription to the National Geographic Kids Magazine (currently selling for $7 for 6 bimonthly copies) Spice is going through a giraffe-loving stage and spend HOURS on this website. 


US Forest Service Kids Section

Canadian Online Atlas from Canadian Geographic
Explore Canada by themes like rivers, ecosystems, natural resources etc.

NASA for Students

Mathematics


Topmarks: Website for math games across the ages

Mathframe: Another website that teaches math through games

Splash Learn: Math apps for grades K-5. The school actually recommended this and the girls like it so far. If you don't want to download the apps, the website can be accessed directly.

Prodigy Math Game
I signed the girls up for this in January and I'm quite glad I did. There's a premium-paid access but for now we're using the free app. I like that the game's difficulty level adapts to the kids abilities and a breakdown of the different areas is displayed in the parent dashboard. With the report from the dashboard, I'm able to identify where the girls are struggling in their math studies.


Kumon Workbooks
I'm a big fan of workbooks and my favorites are the Kumon workbooks. For the grade 4 math curriculum, I have ordered the books on fractions, division and geometry to help the girls with the areas that haven't been covered in school and they're obviously struggling with.

Free Worksheets
Printable math worksheets for grades k to 12. Here's an example of the 27 page grade 4 worksheet.





Homeschool General Resources List

As I alluded to in my previous post, this era of social distancing has led to me (and most parents in the world) to try our hand on serious homeschooling. In the past, I have accessed several resources to teach the girls but this was a supplement to the primary learning they were receiving from their schools and teachers.

With all the unknowns of the initial lockdown, I had to revise my role to that of primary educator. In that role, I struggled with finding decent, reputable resources for teaching older elementary kids (grade 4). Sure a quick Google search will yield some results but I found some of the resources to be too commercial, flaky or poorly designed for my use. Some were also good. In keeping with the objective of this blog to "Learn and Share", I'm going to highlight all the homeschooling resources that I think are worth accessing.

This post quickly grew to be a loooooooooooooooooog list so I'm going to break it down into sections which I'll keep updated as I find new goodies.



Learning Styles.

Before attempting to educate your kids formally, it's worth it to have a decent idea of how they learn best.

Life as it was - March

I confess, when I chose the word "HOME" as the theme for the year, I really did not envisage that the world would be in full pandemic mode and our family of 5 would be spending the whole day at home... together... like 24 hours.

To be honest, it's gone way better than I could ever have imagined. I thought our house was too small for 5 people but we've managed not to go stir-crazy or get on each other's nerves. All in all, things have been going splendidly and I feel lucky and blessed. On to the updates
  • Staycations: We haven't ventured too far out of the house but we did manage to sneak a few walks through the neighbourhood and to the park while maintaining appropriate social distancing. Calgary is on a social distancing advisory and not lockdown. 

  • Family Time: My baby turned 3 this month and also potty trained himself for the nighttime. He now stays dry through the night and in the morning, we make a mad dash to the toilet. He does have a potty chair but I ditched that in favor of the potty seat which takes up less space and is easier to keep clean. I think he may be ready for daytime potty training but I'm not ready :) 

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