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Education, Language Arts

The DOs & DON’Ts of Reading Aloud

Read Aloud (1)

DO read aloud early and often. Start from infancy, and read aloud every day – even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes!

DON’T stop reading aloud just because your kids are growing up!

DO choose books that you love to share with your children. Your love of reading and of the story will be contagious!

DON’T be afraid to admit it if you made a poor choice of reading material. Give the book a chance, but if you can’t get into it, set it aside. Reading aloud is supposed to be fun, not miserable!

DON’T rush! Read slowly and carefully so that your child has time to process the story and enjoy the pictures.

DO pause to enjoy the pictures with your child. Point out words and show them how they relate to the images!

DO read with expression! Change your tone and inflection for different characters.

DON’T be afraid to be silly. Your character voices and sound effects don’t have to be perfect!

DON’T be afraid to pause and explain challenging vocabulary or complicated situations.

DO admit it if you don’t understand a word or concept. Look it up with your child!

DON’T wait to stop reading until your children are tired and bored.

DO leave them wanting more… try to find a stopping place with a cliffhanger. They will be excited for your next read aloud session!

DON’T leave home without a book!

DO read to your kids everywhere – at a restaurant, in a waiting room, while stuck in a traffic jam, while they eat lunch, etc.

DON’T feel the need to tie everything back to the curriculum. Sometimes reading is just for fun!

DO discuss what you read! Ask your child what they liked about the story and what they disliked. This will help you pick books that pique their interest.

Education, Uncategorized

The ABC’s of Creating a Positive Home Learning Environment

(Please note that the following post may contain affiliate links.)

positive learning environment

I’ll be honest.

I consider myself to be a fairly positive person. I try to look for the bright side in unfortunate situations, I strive to see the best in people, and I am a firm believer that something good can be found in even the worst days…

But positivity does not come naturally to me.

My husband and I were discussing this recently while we were driving in some crummy traffic and thinking about some all-too-recent storms that we’ve walked through. Fortunately, this gave us the chance to talk about a few of the ways we can work together to create a positive environment in our home and hopefully train our children to be positive individuals. (See? Bright side!)

I thought while it was fresh on my mind, I’d share some of the things we came up with that relate specifically to learning. I hope they will be of help to you on your home education journey!

positive self talk quotes

Acknowledge Efforts

Praising efforts instead of end results helps students develop a growth mindset that helps them build resilience, fosters a love of learning, and ultimately takes them further than talent alone. When encouraging your child, choose specific compliments that praise process more than performance. Encourage them to acknowledge their own efforts by asking them to seek out their own daily successes, either orally or in a “success journal” that they can refer back to when they are feeling frustrated.

growth mindset quotes

Be Mindful of Your Own Attitude

Children are remarkably perceptive, and easily pick up on their parents’ attitudes. Strive to find ways to manage your own stress levels, and check your own negative “vibes” before working with your children. Take it a step further by modeling positive self-talk when you struggle with your own frustrations or difficult circumstances.

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

It’s hard to be negative when you focus on the things that fill your heart with joy. One way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. I’m particularly in love with this one by Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom. It’s designed just for kids! You can check it out by clicking the pic below.

Discourage Complaining for the Sake of Complaining

As the old saying goes, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” Teach your kids to reframe their negative whining and complaining into a positive by brainstorming solutions for their problems. Doing this not only creates a more positive environment, but also prepares them for independence by teaching them to resolve issues on their own.

Encourage SMART Goal Setting

Goals should be challenging, but unrealistic expectations can leave children feeling defeated and trigger negative thoughts and behavior. Help them choose action-oriented goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Focus on Strengths

One of the most wonderful things about homeschooling is that you get to teach in a way that aligns with your child’s strengths. It is an incredible gift to be able to customize your curriculum in a way that helps them become the people they are called to be! As my friend Sallie Borrink says, “embrace your child and embrace the freedom you have to tailor her education to her specific needs.”

What tips and tricks have you successfully used to create a more positive learning environment? Share your best ideas in the comments.

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Ask The Grad, Education

Does Homeschooling Prepare Kids for College?


Recently, it was suggested that I start writing a series of blog posts reflecting on my homeschool memories and detailing my experiences as a homeschool graduate. There are many blogs written by homeschool parents, but not nearly as many written by those who were homeschool students. With that in mind, I am setting out on a new adventure! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to consider writing on, leave me a comment, or email me at rebeccam (at) edventuresathome (dot) com.

One of the questions I hear most frequently from those considering homeschooling their children is “Will my child be able to get into college? Will they be adequately prepared?” The answer to that is yes, with a quality home education, students are able to get into college. And truthfully, I believe that the majority of homeschooled students are not only adequately, but also uniquely prepared for a college environment.

Based on my experiences, here are four reasons why:


1. Homeschooled students view learning as a lifestyle. No school bell means no end to learning! Homeschooling families are likely to keep both formal and informal educational experiences rolling through evenings, weekends, and even vacations.

2. Homeschooled students have the flexibility to participate in academic pursuits that are meaningful to them. Colleges love to seek out students who have shown themselves to be dedicated to their academic pursuits. Homeschooling allows students not only to explore areas of interest, but gives them flexibility in structuring their time so that they can study, develop skills, and excel in areas that are of particular interest to them.

3. The types of socialization afforded to homeschooled students transfer well into the college environment. Rather than socializing with a group of peers who are the same age, but may or may not have similar interests, homeschooled students tend to socialize with people of similar interests, with less focus on age group. This is much like the college environment, where students spend time working and networking with individuals who share similar academic and social pursuits, but who may or may not be the same age.

4. Homeschooling prepares students to stand out. Instead of being shaped and influenced by constant peer pressure, homeschooled students are able to be who they want to be. Developing these independent roots at a young age allows them to stand strong in their beliefs and worldview during their college years.

So, what about academically? How can you make sure your students are prepared? I’ll explore that in a future post! For now, leave a comment and let me know if you can think of other ways that homeschooling prepares students for college.

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Education, Language Arts

20 Books for Sixth Grade Reading

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I always get excited about summer, but for all the “wrong” reasons. Many people believe that summer is a time for rest and relaxation without a care about school, but my summers are always filled with excitement and planning for the new school year. I love the “blank slate” of a new school year!

A few days ago, I was watching some of my favorite YouTube vloggers as they discussed their plans for the upcoming school year. One of them referenced a box of books she had been collecting for her kids to read, and that flipped a switch in my brain. I pulled together some of my favorite literature resources and started putting together a reading list for our sixth grade year next year!

I ended up with a list of twenty books, which I know is a little on the long side. I’m a voracious reader working with a voracious reader, so I’m pretty sure we will get through them all. However, I divided it into three sections: “Planned Book Studies,” “Additional Reading,” and “Read Aloud and Independent Reading,” because I know that we won’t be able to study them all in great depth.

Here’s our list…

Planned Book Studies

We will be using the book studies from Learning Language Arts through Literature (The Tan Book – Sixth Grade Skills) for these studies. We will probably design lapbooks to go along with our studies, too, since we enjoy the hands-on aspect. 🙂

1. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
2. The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
3. Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
4. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Additional Reading

I pulled these book suggestions from Reading Roadmaps (published by the Center for Lit). As of right now, I do not plan to complete full book studies on these books. We may decide to dive deeper into them if time allows! I like that Reading Roadmaps offers some basic discussion info (i.e. theme, plot, and conflict) for each of these stories.
5. Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
6. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
10. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
11. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
12. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Read Aloud & Independent Reading

I added these books to the list because they were either (a) sequels or additional parts of a series or (b) enjoyable books I remember from upper elementary years. I will probably encourage independent reading of these books, though there are a few I would like to use as read alouds (marked with an asterisk).

13. Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
14. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry*
15. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
16. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
17. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis*
18. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
19. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg*
20. The Borrowers by Mary Norton*

I’m really excited about this list, and I hope that these books are a hit! I think we will have fun exploring them. Hopefully, we will even get around to seeing a few of the movies based on these books! 😉 Regardless, our main focus this year will be on learning about literary devices and key literary terms, and I think this list of books will help us accomplish that goal.

What’s on your reading list this year?
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