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Starts At Eight

This is a blog written from the center of a homeschooling house. From navigating high school to fun unit studies in the elementary grades we cover it all.

Heidi is a winner of Top 25 Homeschooling Moms - 2013

Do you have any tips for helping kids concentrate on their studies?

We have found that in this age of kids being so technologically based and connected that it can interfere with their studies. Bells, whistles,
and dings coming from all devices at all hours disrupts your train of thought. We have a few strategies to combat this and other distraction

Our 13 and 10 year old like to listen to music while they work. There are two problems with this. The first problem being that they use
YouTube to do it and thus are searching and switching songs every couple of minutes. To counter this I have insisted that they use one of their
iTunes playlists during their school time or Pandora so that the music is steady and they are not stopping constantly to find and switch songs.

The second issue is the amount of noise and distraction caused to others by the music playing. Thus each of our kids has to wear a headset when
they are on the computer. This actually blocks some of the outer noise for them, and keeps their noise just to their ears and not out
distracting the rest of us.

We also find that with schooling multiple children they can not only be a distraction to the others, but are easily distracted by what the others
are doing. If we are having an issue with this one or more children will move themselves out of the room, either to the dining room table or up
to their desks in their bedrooms.

Lastly I just have two children that have a hard time sitting still and focusing. To combat this I keep work periods short, and then offer an
active break such as jumping on the trampoline, playing an active game on the Wii or Playstation, or if you are my little one she just loves to
run circles in the house and jump over "horse" jumps.

What's an educational game or activity you and your kids love?

Our kids love maps, much to my surprise because I have never been all that fond of geography. We have a large world and United States map, as
well as poster sized continents maps on our homeschool room walls. At an early age we used songs to memorize all the states and are working on
one for states with their capitals too. We have many games that use geography such as U.S.A Bingo, Atlas Adventures,Great States, Professor
Noggin's Countries of the World, Stack the States (and Countries) iPad app and more. Our kids love to test their geography knowledge, especially
U.S. with games like these. They will lay on the floor in the homeschool room playing one of them with the huge map next to them for quick and
easy reference.

How do you encourage a love of reading in your kids?

From the moment my first was born almost 14 years ago I have kept books out and easily accessible. From board books in a book basket on the
floor when they were smaller, to low shelves for the toddlers and bookshelves in their own rooms and now floor to ceiling bookshelves in our home
school room as well. You can see our bookshelves here:

I have always believed (or maybe just hoped) that by demonstrating a true love, passion, and excitement for reading, you can help encourage your
kids to feel the same way. Therefore I have always shared books that I loved as a child, books a came to love as a nanny, and much loved books
we have found along the way. Here are a few of our favorite read alouds:

We have always snuggled in to read books on the couch at will, but more often than not we have found our reading time at bedtime. I would always
read to them when they were younger, and them to me as they began to know the words. Now each one of them crawls into bed at night with a book
(actually Ava is content to sit at her desk with her "reading light"). I think it is a great way for them to wind down from the day.

Even when they went through phases of not loving reading, I would search to find books that would draw their attention back in. For Jayden
that mean graphic novels for a bit, and a stint with books that were super short and easy for him as he liked the feeling of accomplishment.
For Chloe it meant reading them same series over and over again (which is where Jayden is with Harry Potter right now).

I would like to say that it is my own avid love and infusion of books that has helped them to love reading, and it might seem that way since all
3 of them love to read, but I think it may just be their personalities (and a lot of encouragement).