Saturday, February 19, 2011

Do You Have a High Achiever? Consider the NUMATS! (If you live in the Midwest)

This morning, my daughter (4th grade) took the EXPLORE test, as part of the NUMATS (Northwestern University's Midwest Academic Talent Search). NUMATS also offers the ACT and SAT tests, but for this age level, the test given is the EXPLORE. The EXPLORE tests were developed for 8th grade students to measure educational achievement in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Participating in above-level testing is a challenge that will help us better identify her abilities.

Northwestern University's Midwest Academic Talent Search has been in place since 1981. It is not aimed just at students in traditional schools, but is a great tool for homeschool educators as well. It is a way to identify gifted/talented students in grades 3 through 9 so that parents can make wise educational decisions as they homeschool. It gives us, as homeschooling parents, a roadmap of which academic studies, extracurricular activities, distance learning, and enrichment programs will benefit our children the most. It not only gives us insight into what our children are capable of, but also empowers us to provide our homeschooled students with more resources than just the basics so that their talents can flourish.

"NUMATS combines above-grade testing---using the EXPLORE, ACT and SAT, tests usually given to much older students---with guidance as to the appropriate academic follow-up for individual students based on their test scores."

Students who participate in the NUMATS get valuable practice taking the same tests used for high school placement and college admissions, which can boost self-confidence when they take placement tests for college later on. Parents whose children participate in the program will receive:

  • a Statistical Summary of their child's scores,
  • a Long-Range Academic Plan which will help families plan their homeschool students' coursework through the end of high school,
  • a Planning and Resource Guide with suggestions for choosing coursework and extracurricular activities in math, science, social science and the humanities matched to students' scores
  • an Educational Program Guide, which has a listing of schools and programs for academically talented students throughout the U.S.
  • an opportunity to apply for  summer programs and online learning programs through the Center for Talent Development 
  • a newletter that contains articles and research geared toward gifted students and their parents
  • The College Guide, which is for participants in 10th grade and features articles on college admissions to help them get started with college planning
  • mailings from summer programs
  • invitation to participate in future talent searches
  • access to Center for Talent Development (CTD), an onsite and distance learning program
If interested, here is the website:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shoebox Diorama

As an AWANA project, my daughter had to make a shoebox diorama for some verses of scripture and then tell the story in her own words. She chose to illustrate Acts 16:  25-34, the story of Paul and Silas in prison when God sent an earthquake which opened the prison doors and made the prisoners' chains fall loose. The jailer was about to kill himself because he feared he would be punished since all the prisoners were gone, or so he thought. Just in time, Paul shouts out for the guard not to harm himself and that they (the prisoners) are all still there. The jailer falls down in front of Paul and Silas and ends up accepting Christ as Saviour. Not only that, but Paul and Silas are taken to the jailer's home where he washes their wounds and serves them a meal. Paul and Silas talk to his entire household, and as a result, his whole family became believers and were baptized that night! Here's her finished project:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Galactic Bowling Party?

If you are able to join a local homeschool support group, I urge you to do so. The main reason we joined one was to be able to have parties, outings, fields trips and various social gatherings with other families like us. Today, our homeschool group had a Valentine party at a local bowling alley, where we exchanged valentines, had refreshments and went "galactic" bowling (they dim the lights, turn on strobe lights,  activate colored disco balls, and pump dry ice smoke into the area. The kids loved it---we bowled 10 games! I expect to be sore tomorrow...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tweaking My Methods

In addition to using Songlight curriculum with Sue Patrick's Workbox System, I have now decided to incorporate Charlotte Mason's approach into how I teach my children. I began studying various books about Charlotte Mason's thoughts on education, and I was drawn to her philosophy because it makes sense to me and mirrors what I know to be true about my own children. I not only want them to have a great home education, but I want them to develop a life-long love for learning, to keep the curiosity God put inside their beautiful minds, and to be motiviated by self-respect and good will. I don't want to just have "school" at home, with dry, uninteresting textbooks, long lessons, lectures from the teacher and rigid daily schedules. After pondering all this, I realized that Sonlight lends itself very well to Mason's methods. We are already using many "living books" for history and science; we already use dictation (a limited amount), meaningful copywork, and some forms of what she calls "narration."  In addition, I would like to add in weekly hymns, a weekly picture study of great artworks, classical music appreciation, Shakespeare (for children) more handicrafts/life skills projects, and weekly nature journaling. Now that I am in love with the idea of putting some of the CM ideas into our routine, my mind is opening up to the possibilities of "what" can go "where" and how to change our routine for next year. I've joined, and am getting some great ideas from my Sonlight-Workbox group and Charlotte Mason-Sonlight group, both on Yahoo. If you, reader, are interested in exploring Charlotte Mason further, I highly advise the book, A Charlotte Mason Companion, by Karen Andreola.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bringing Up Avid Readers

You gotta love Sonlight curriculum. It's so rich with great literature that my kids have really become engrossed in reading, even when it's not required! We have just finished two reading programs which sort of overlapped each other. One was sponsored by Six Flags and Discovery Education, and the other was sponsored by Noah's Ark Water Park. Of course, they were both eager to earn the Six Flags and Noah's Ark tickets, but with the great books we have to choose from, they were actually eager to do the reading regardless of the rewards. Here's a pic of our son at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. I saw his light on under his door, and discovered him reading Little Pear, a Sonlight book. What a great feeling to see your kids doing this instead of plopped in front of the TV watching Saturday morning cartoons!