30 January 2013

Walk Through Baby Gate Review

Regelo Easy Step Metal Walk Through Baby Gate

Product: Regelo Easy Step Metal Walk Through Baby Gate

What I paid: $31.50

Where I got it: Amazon.com

What I like: -The latch is easy to manipulate, my 6 year old daughter could easily do it.

Could it be better: Oh yes, way better. This is my 3rd child and I spent a good deal of time working in childcare so I've used a far share of baby gates. This and one other run a tie in being my least favorite. The other however at least will keep your toddler out of where you don't want them to be. This one comes with little cup things that are to be screwed into the wall then tension is used to hold the gate into the cups. That being done, my son could knock it over easy at 12 months old, which is when this was purchased. -The gate relies on tension to hold it in place, however the same tension is used to adjust the spot where the gate closes. Too much tension and the gate won't close, to little and it won't close or stay up. - The gate door opening is not wide enough.  Even very slim people would go through gate and have to turn sideways. This generally ended up in them bumping the gate, knocking it over, and me having to put it up again.

Do I recommend: No

Little update:
We have now moved to an older home where the doorways are a wee bit smaller. I have found that the gate works rather well in the smaller doorways. The doors I have used it in have all been between 29'' and 33''. So, if that fits the spot you need a gate in AND you never plan on wanting/needing it elsewhere, then it is a decent little gate. I don't think it would work well on a door past 33 inches.

20 January 2013

High School Credit Planning For Homeschoolers

Whew, this last week I've been looking more into planing for Sania's high school years. Basically what I'm finding is that it's a real headache just planning for it. As a homeschooler, her possibilities for earning credits are endless. However, I've found different colleges actually require different numbers of credits and may have slight differences in the basic classes they may or may not require. One site suggested checking with possible colleges your child plans on attending before planning out high school course work.

When I start a conversation with Nia about high school, her eyes kind of glaze over. She is clearly uninterested. Who can blame her, if she were in public school, Sania would be a 7th grader this year. Being homeschooled, she is working on 3 high school level classes right now. She is interested in her future, but like any 13 year old, right now she is more interested in right now. If I were to try and get her to figure out her top college choices, I think she would have me taken straight to the looney bin. 

So how do we plan for the future. Obviously, I'm not going to ask my 13 year old to make any concrete plans on the mater. I was 30-ish before I actually knew what I wanted to do with my life. There are several basic credits you can plan on your son or daughter needing. Then electives should be based on things they are interested in or if they do have a planned college major or a few they are thinking about, plan electives around these. Nia recently picked out a few possible career choices (you can read about that in a post here), and we are looking at electives that will help her decide if she is really interested in these choices. Here is a bit of break down on what high school credits are generally needed.

Math - 3 to 4 credits, Most colleges require Algebra 1 and Geometry.

English - 4 credits

Science - 3 credits - Some colleges ask that all 3 have labs, others require only 1 lab.

Social Studies - 2 to 4 - US and World history are generally required, some colleges also require a credit in government.

Foreign Language - 2 to 4 -  Most colleges require 2, some require 4, and there are a few colleges that do not require any foreign language credits.

Physical Education - 1 to 2, some colleges may require this to be broken into health and p.e. components.

Fine Arts - 1 - This may or may not be required.

Electives - Enough electives should be included so that the student has a total of 21 to 25 credits.

Ok, now that I've gone over all the things your kid needs to qualify as a high school education, I'll go over what exactly it is that qualifies work as a high school credit. High school credit can be counted in 1/2 credit or 1 credit increments. If your child is working out of a High School level book, then, obviously in earns a high school credit. If your teen is working through book that would equal 1 credit in public school or one designed similarly for homeschoolers, then finishing that book earns them 1 high school credit. If you are not using a traditional curriculum then you can count up hours. This can be done either by literally counting up the hours or looking at hours per week.

1 Credit = between 120 and 180 hours = 3 to 5 hours per week for an average school year

1/2 Credit = between 75 to 90 hours = 1 to 3 hours per week for an average school year
The above information was gathered from eHow, The Princeton Review, and from a webinar  done by Lee Binz. You can find Lee Binz's blog here.

17 January 2013

Health Issues

Lately I have been having a few little health issues, mostly with my heart. I won't go into the exact details, it makes me crazy tired and causes me to randomly black out. Both of these things are compounded by low sodium levels. My doctor has told me to spend most of my time resting. This is annoying phrase to me that doctors seem to throw around a bit. They generally don't give specifics on this. So I asked how much is most of my time? My doctor further explained this by saying I should spend a lot of time in bed and otherwise sitting with my feet up. So, I'm still not exactly sure as to how much time I'm supposed to be resting as opposed to not resting. I have found that if I don't spend more than an hour or so a day on my feet, I generally feel ok. If I do to much in a day I really feel horrible for the next 3 or 4 days.

Needless to say 'The Go' hasn't been a big part of our homeschool lately. The blacking out makes it where I can't drive. The need for rest wouldn't allow me to stay anywhere for very long even if I could drive. I do get to out some, generally just to dinner or one quick shopping trip (don't worry, my husband drives). All of this staying in has made the kids a bit crazy and on each others nerves. They miss their friends and they just miss doing things in general.
Here are is a photo of the rest of family heading out so this mama could get some rest.

...and one of Cameron getting into mischief, his most favorite activity since mommy can't chase him down right now.

16 January 2013

IXL For Math Review

Product: IXL.com

What I pay: $9.95 a month

Where to get it: on their website linked here and above

What I like: -I mostly like that Anara actually begs to do math on a regular basis. Really, I have to make her not do math and move on to other subjects. Days (like Sundays) when math isn't even on the agenda she ask to do math. -Also, if your child misses a problem the program shows them how to do it properly. -I like that the company emails you with updates on your child's progress. -I like the parent side of the program where you can check on how much time your child has spent doing math and each lesson. This part is actually really cool, the photo attached to this post is a screen shot of part of the parent report. It gives you information on how many problems were missed, time a lesson took, percentage of time they have spent on different subject matter (like addition and fractions). This information is presented in both list form and graph forms. I really look forward to printing out the parent section at the end of the year and adding it to Anara's math binder. -If you are worried about covering everything that would be covered in public school in your area, there is a portion of IXL that lines up what they do with your area's standards be it state or country.

Could it be better: -One feature I like and don't like is that when your child misses a problem an extra problem is added. What I like is that your child still has a chance to achieve a 100 on the lesson, however this can make the lesson go on forever and if your child is working independently it can take a while before you realize how many they have missed. -I think it would also be nice if there was some sort of video that could be watched to demonstrate how problems in each lesson are done. This isn't a big deal in 1st grade, but the program goes up to the Algebra level. I'm sure there are problems in that section I would have a hard time explaining. Also, it's hard to know exactly how difficult the problems will become in each lesson so explain how to do each lesson can be hit or miss.

How we found and use it: Last year while Anara attended public 1/2 day kindergarten, her school used it as and enrichment resource and Anara really enjoyed using it. I have a list of all of the lessons for first grade printed in my planner binder. I use this list to plan which manipulatives and activities we are going to do outside of IXL for math. Each day for math I either have Anara work with a manipulative or do an IXL lesson or 2. Sometimes she does both. It really depends on her energy level and desire to work for the day.

Do I recommend it: Definitely,  since it's a monthly subscription fee, I would have stopped using it months ago if we didn't love it.

When I Grow Up: Carrer Choices

This week Sania has been looking into possible future careers. You may be asking why we decided to make this a priority right now. Well, I'm trying to get somewhat of a plan ready for high school. High school will need to be a bit more organized than how we currently do things. It takes high school worthy credits to get into college and to excel through college. Allowing Nia to randomly pick subjects and study topics as she does with about half her work in the past just won't cut it.

First we made out a list of a bunch of possibilities that looked interesting to her. I have to say that many things I thought she would be naturally drawn to, she crinkled her nose at suggestion of, and a few things that made her list I was surprised by. Next we looked at the Occupational Outlook Handbook on the Department of Labor site and put a page in her journal for each occupation she was considering, there were about a dozen at this point. From here she was able to learn a little about each job. Some jobs she decided immediately that they wouldn't be for her. One of these being baker because of early mornings and low pay. Did you know the average baker only brings in about $23,000 a year? She actually narrowed down her possibly list to 4 main types of careers with this step. I'm not wanting her to make this list any smaller. She is only 12, and still has plenty of time to change her mind a zillion times before she actually needs to make any real decisions on this.

Right now her top choices are the fields of interior design, writing, theater, and archeology. The next step is to spend about a week on each field and look at the types of schooling needed for them and different careers to be had within those fields and do a project or two related to the different types of work.

09 January 2013

Action Bible Devotional Review

The Action Bible Devotional: 52 Weeks of God-Inspired Adventure
This is my very first review, but I've decided to try out a few. So, here goes...

Product: The Action Bible Devotional by Jeremy V. Jones

What I Paid: $11

Where I Got Mine: Sam's Club

What I like: My hubby and kids are big fans of comics, so getting my kids into this study is no problem. We are only a little into it, but so far the lessons at the end of the story seem to be adaptable to many different age levels. My 13 and 6 year olds both are able to get something from the lessons. I've only known about the Action Bible itself for a short time, but I haven't seen a kid (or adult) yet that hasn't found the illustrations and format of the Bible very cool and engaging.

Could It Be Better: 1- The devotional is divided up into 'weeks' instead of just 'lessons.' Not a huge deal, but my 6 year old does like point this out at the start of every lesson. I don't feel like there is enough here to do a weekly lesson for say a Sunday school class or other type of kids ministry. This really feels more like a home study which is generally done daily, not weekly. 2- The stories are pulled right out of The Action Bible. I would have rather seen a book of just lessons to go along with all of the stories inside The Action Bible instead of a selection of 52 of the stories pulled out and given lessons to. It feels like a bit of a waste of paper. 3- I would prefer the devotionals to go story by story through The Action Bible. There are 215 stories in The Action Bible. I would happily purchase 4 devotionals to get a lesson for each story in the Bible. 4- Give me a game or some kind of movement. The lessons are good, don't get me wrong, but my kids have grown to expect some kind of movement with their Bible study.

Do I recommend it: YES!!! I can be little a critical of Bible studies in general. This one hits the mark of what I and my family need it to be. Captivating, enlightening, and thought provoking are the top words that come to when I think of what I like in a kids Bible study. This devotional is definitely those things.