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Alberta Home Education Association

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One of Our Easiest Home School Extras!

I can't even remember if I have shared about this before, but I was just thinking how well it has gone this year and how much we enjoy it. First of all, I have to say that I have realised through the years that NOT everything educational needs curriculum or *workbooks* to be a great activity or extra. I actually have found discussions to be a great learning activity in our home.

We have done Afternoon Discussions with another Homeschool Family for years. Some families read books or base their discussions off questions, but we have simply watched a TV season episode (while I wrote down questions relating to what we watched) and then I host a discussion with the youth present. It really is such a simple idea, but so effective.

We watched the entire series of Dr. Quinn together a few years ago and had some amazing discussions. There really is nothing like seeing outright racism (Robert Lee and Grace) to get everyone thinking and talking. We also talked about pioneer days, women being doctors when only men were accepted as doctors, purity and waiting for marriage (Dr Quinn and Sully), and so much more.

The next year, we headed into McGyver (to give the boys a break from relationship *talks*! smile). It had a science and creativity flavor. 

For the past 2 years or so, we have been working through Numb3rs. It has a mathematic bent and has been very good for the math phobic youth present. (smile/ sigh)

Last week, we took a departure from watching an episode from a TV season and watched "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler". I had a friend recommend it and I ordered it in through Interlibrary Loan. WOW. What a great movie about real life heroes. Amazing story.

BUT I once again realised how powerful this discussion idea was. . . It really isn't hard writing down questions to discuss - often a movie or episode will have a theme. I try to be sensitive to those who are more shy, but I believe in everyone sharing their thoughts, too. It really was a great discussion and a learning hook for the children present who hadn't studied WW2 yet. (3 families took part and preteens were present.)

*Oh, and when I host a discussion, I always note the date, what we watched and who was present - along with the questions as a record of what we did - as well as any great comments or quotes.


Back to Real Life and Home Schooling Extras!

Well, I hope you had a great time at the Convention! I know AHEA's Facebook Page (look for Alberta Home Education Association and join!) has had a lot of positive comments... Richard and I kinda came home and collapsed. smile It is a very busy week preparing and a busy time at the Convention. BUT we love it and love meeting all of you!

I have been planning *extra* home school extras in our area since February. A new home school friend, Liz (the support group leader from St. Paul) inspired me earlier this year with the Facebook Page for their Support Group. I started one for our area and home schoolers ARE connecting more than they ever have.

We have always had home school support group meetings and the odd field trip now and then, as moms got inspired, but not much more than that.

WELL, since I started the Facebook Page, I got inspired and started thinking of home schooling extras that the children and teens in our area would enjoy. We now have a monthly Homeschool Bowling time (which surprisingly to me, is VERY popular!), and quite a few other things are happening, too.

One is a Lego Afternoon. This has been amazing and will turn into an article soon. (smile) I went through our Lego and washed it in preparation. I then picked an afternoon and had 9 families for the first Lego Afternoon. It was a bit crazy with 30+ kids in attendence, but went well. I also had Duplo out for the younger kids, and Bionicles were a hit with the boys. (I had K'NEX downstairs for the big kids, but that needs to be an afternoon on its own - harder and longer to build.)

The moms visited for an hour while the kids built their creations. We then had a Show and Tell with some amazing creations. One was a pretty expensive kit that was motorized and could do a lot. After that, we had a potluck snack while the kids roared around some more. There was some serious *socialization* going on. (smile)

(We just had our second Lego Afternoon with 4 families and around 12 kids in attendence. More Lego for everyone and there was a *famous monument* theme which some of the kids enjoyed. We had Big Ben from London, a scene from Les Mes where everyone died, an amazing Twin Ranch by two girls, and an Art Deco cityscape. I encouraged the families who couldn't make it this month - due to sickness - to have some home schoolers over for some Lego fun OR have a Lego Family Night.)

We have also had Seasonal Craft Afternoons that have been a hit. More prep for me, but a lot of fun. $ per child, and potluck snacks.

Some Field Trips are planned, and it is so easy to see who is coming on Facebook. (I am trying to send out reminder emails to those not on Facebook, too. Try to keep everyone in the loop.)

One mom is putting together a First Aid Course for our big kids. Lots of response for that.

Other things we are doing: Home School Social times - families and youth. Home School Mtgs for the moms. We have a Quilling Class planned for next week. (One of the home school girls in our area is an amazing Quiller and will be teaching us how to Quill.)Home School Discussion Afternoon (we are working through the seasons of Numbers and discussing them as we go. That has been very good over the past 3 or 4 years.) Movie Afternoon - we will be watching The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler and discussing it this week, plus I am posting GREAT Home School links as I find them, too. Oh, and we are also trying to have a Home School Youth afternoon every couple of months, too.

It sounds like quite a lot and it is IF we do everything, but everyone is picking and choosing what works best for them. I find I cannot do more than one extra a week AND I cannot do extras that require a lot of planning or prep more than once or twice a month (AND they have to be on a quieter week. smile) BUT the families and children / youth in our area are connecting more and that is a lovely sight to see. Totally worth all the time and work.


Encouraging Links!

Smile - Life continues on at a great pace. So much to do and enjoy. One of the newest extras for AHEA is the Alberta Home Education Association Facebook Page. If you are on Facebook, check us out and join the group. Political updates will be posted when needed AND encouraging links will be posted often.

Some of the links posted recently were:

How to Start Home Schooling, How to Home School Preschool, Do You Need a Home School Support Group,18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Home School Their Children, Five Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Home Schooling, Home Schooling Extra*ordinary* Kids, AND Five Simple Steps to a Better Home School Day!

Poetry Teatimes, a reminder about the NEW and improved Support Group Listings on our website, 5 Educational Board Games You Probably Already Own, Quiet Book Time for Toddlers and Preschoolers, Line Design Fun (One of our FAVORITE Art Activities!), Move, Eat and Learn (amazing videos on each where 3 young men travel around the world and present what they did or learned - great idea for home school grads!), KHAN Academy, Marriage Priorities for the Home School Mom, and Home School Benefits.

Home School Convention Guide, 7 Ways to Stick to Your Budget at a Home School Convention, Responding to Home School Critics, and a Home School Convention Survival Guide.

Page Position Opportunity for the Alberta Legislature, Patty Marler shared that she was thankful to have a Member of Parliament stand up for Free Speech, and Manitoba's Anti Bullying Bill.

An AHEA Member even shared a link to Why Are Home School Kids So Annoying? One of her favorite articles!

Need a smile today? Check out Tim Hawkins and his Youtube on the Home School Mom and Yoga Pants!

So much encouragement and tips posted. Check them out and watch for more soon!


Home School Graduation information!

Our support group, Home School Christian Fellowship, offers a grade 12 grad for members (currently around 75 families in the Edmonton area). I helped organize the 2011 grad, and there are a few pictures on our website Even with a group our size, it's hard to find many kids still homeschooling through high school, but hopefully that will improve in the years ahead! We have 7 kids interested this year. They're on a private yahoo group & get together to discuss the theme, colours, decorations & group activities.

Our goal is to create a milestone memory, for when parents feel ready to graduate their senior student. It's been done various ways over the years at HSCF, depending on the families doing the organizing. Currently, we have a fairly formal ceremony - processional, anthem, prayer, speaker, etc., but each student is given about 10 minutes to share in whatever way they feel best reflects their homeschooling. So it could be speeches by mom, dad, student, relative, friend, etc., blessings or prayers by a pastor or grandparent, etc., a slideshow, piano solo, hugs, moving the tassel, etc... It doesn't feel nearly as rushed as the typical few seconds of a handshake by a principal! The students also display their homeschool memorabilia on tables in the
fellowship room. Families & friends have cake & light snacks here afterwards, and a photo session. The evening is free then for each family to continue celebrating on their own.

There is a homeschool-friendly company in Wisconsin that I love to get gradwear from! The owner, Joan, was a homeschool Mom! Her kids are graduated now, and this is their family business. It's Shipping costs are high, but overall the whole amount has still been cheaper compared to other places we've looked, & the customer service has been perfect. For families who want, we place an order together with one Mom being the contact person, and then divide up shipping based on what each family has ordered. Each family is free to choose how much or little they want to include of the "grad look". It helps to show off things ordered previously so parents can see the quality & choices better before ordering online.

When it's all over, an HSCF parent types up a report for "the grad binder" which explains what ideas were used that year, assuming a grad was organized. As our group changes, this allows info to be passed along.

Hope that helps a bit. Mostly these are ideas we've learned along the way from others!

Dawn Engler


Encouragement for Today - Hackschooling

Wow - A friend shared this Youtube recently and it was such an encouragement to me. I absolutely LOVED it. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Hackschooling with Logan LaPlante (a Ted Talk)

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