Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homeschooling with the k12 curriculum

Pin It Now! Although I do want to write up a post about our decision process to decide to homeschool our daughter, right now I'm more excited to share the curriculum program we have decided to use. The program we have decided to use is from www.k12.com. I am so exited and happy to have found this program. I have spent many hours on their website going through every sample lesson, the catalog, FAQ's and all the videos they have available. The best way to describe it I think is that it's like online college classes, but for kids k-12. It's very customizable. You can purchase individual courses, semesters (part time) or enroll full-time. If you do enroll full-time you have access to individualized learning plans, a teacher and tutors.

Since we live overseas we have to pay for the tuition cost (thankfully my husband's job pays for it) which for full-time is about $5k/year. They do offer a military discount as well as payment plans. Though this price seems hefty, it includes all the materials required for the year except for common household items. But textbooks, science materials, art materials, manipulatives, etc are all included and shipped out. It is considered a private school and is fully accredited. I know one concern I had about homeschooling was whether our daughter could get a diploma versus a GED. Through this program she can get a diploma. They keep track of all her credits and transcripts as well.

If you are physically living in the U.S, then depending on your state, there is no tuition! For example Colorado and Hawaii (the only two states I looked up) are state funded. How cool is that? Not only that, but there are co-op groups that meet for all kinds of groups like a cooking group and an aspiring music artist/actress club. In the U.S kids are able to join extracurricular activities and sports at the schools in their community, so there's no missing out on that. Another neat thing is kids can do show and tell via skype.

Even though a teacher is assigned for full-time students, the parent is still heavily involved, so I would still consider it homeschool. I think that once kids get older, like middle school or high school, they can be more independent. But especially in elementary school the caregiver has to be willing to still teach their child. The classes themselves aren't done online. The lessons plans are provided online and some activities are done online, but most lessons are done like in a typical classroom. Here's a sample lesson for kindergarten science I took from their site:

This particular lesson is for Kindergarten science and the field of study is the human body. This is what a lesson for one day would be like. The lesson starts with a recap of the previous lesson, brief intro to the next lesson and a fun fact.

 I love how the lesson gives me clear objectives and also shows me what supplies will be needed.

I really like how they provide ideas to present the information in an interesting and fun way. I also like the structure of the lesson. Giving background knowledge and preparing the child for what will be taught.

The next part is to investigate. This provides an opportunity for the child to think about some of the facts they learned and to put the information to use. I also like the opportunity to incorporate a craft/project related to the topic. It makes it more fun for a 5 year old to learn about bones :)

Having the child reinforce the information is awesome! They get an opportunity to show they understood and processed what was being taught.

This is one of the interactive online lessons. I went through it and it's really fun! I like that it not only reinforces the lesson material, but your child is also learning computer skills. If you click here, you can go through this sample lesson online and see the Dr.Jones online activity.

This lesson provides an optional learning activity to help reinforce the information and also have a little fun.

After each lesson is an assessment to ensure the that the information taught was understood and retained.

According to the course catalog each science lesson is about 45min and you could teach science just twice a week and get through the 32 week course on time. There are 70 science lesson plans. I'm working on our schedule for the fall and trying to decide which days we will do which subjects. We will most likely do a 4 day a week school week. That's the cool thing about homeschooling! And no homework either, woohoo!

I really, really love this curriculum and hope that by sharing this with other people they will see and understand the opportunities that  are available through education.

BTW I feel like I should mention I am in NO WAY affiliated with k12.com. I simply am a parent who is very excited about the product they offer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Raw salad with hemp seeds

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It's amazing how flavorful and delicious a raw salad can be! I believe there are two key factors that make a salad, with just a few ingredients, burst with flavor:

1) The produce should be organic and preferably locally grown. The further away the produce travels, the older it is. Thus less flavor and less nutrition. I have also noticed that produce that isn't pre-packaged (lettuce or carrots for example) tastes much more fresh and flavorful. I always grab loose lettuce and spinach now for salads.

2) I know this is probably obvious, but well cleaned produce tastes better too. Proper washing and cleaning of produce is essential to help avoid food related illness. My mom gave me a great tip for washing lettuce and it really works well. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the lettuce to the water. With your hands, swirl the lettuce around in the water for about 30 seconds, then remove lettuce from the water and place in a colander and rinse with cold water. I always notice dirt in the water bowl! Repeat this process a second time to thoroughly clean the lettuce. For the rest of your produce definitely use a brush to scrub everything well. Even foods with peels I wash because I don't want cross contamination on the knife.

You can add whatever you want to a salad. I usually include mixed greens, sliced red bell peppers, celery and cucumbers.

I got so super excited because last week I found hemp seeds at my local biomarkt (organic supermarket), so I've been adding those to my salads too. They are an excellent source of plant based omega 3's and also are a great source of protein! They don't have a very strong flavor. I'd say they taste like very, very mild sunflower seeds. I love how crunchy they are! Amazon sells them in bulk for a decent price. Well a decent price compared to what I can buy them for in Germany.

Anyway I throw all these ingredients together and then I just make a simple dressing using olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Though the olive oil and balsamic vinegar aren't considered "raw" by most raw foodies, I don't mind because I'm not doing a 100% raw food diet.  I'm tellin' ya, eating like this really is delicious and satisfying!


Food Matters

Pin It Now! “The reason that one vitamin can cure so many illness is because a deficiency of one vitamin can cause so many illness.” Andrew Saul

We recently watched the documentary Food Matters.  What an incredibly fascinating and life changing film that has been for our family. I thought we were pretty healthy before, but after watching the documentary we have really made a full on lifestyle change. The best way to sum up the concept of the documentary is to share this paragraph from the film-maker’s website:

“With nutritionally-depleted foods, chemical additives and our tendency to rely upon pharmaceutical drugs to treat what's wrong with our malnourished bodies, it's no wonder that modern society is getting sicker. Food Matters sets about uncovering the trillion dollar worldwide 'sickness industry' and gives people some scientifically verifiable solutions for overcoming illness naturally.”

The film elaborates deeply into the philosophy of nourishing our bodies with vitamins and nutritious food as a method of preventing and treating disease and illness. Several leading experts in nutrition lend their knowledge of how exactly food can not only improve, but actually save your life.

Being a mother, I want to live as long as possible to see my kids grow up and to experience life to its fullest. Not only that, it is my responsibility to protect my children from harm. I refuse to feed them food that introduces toxins into their bodies and also provides little to no nutritional value. Aside from a tragic accident or natural disaster, the one thing I can control to ensure we do live a long life free of health complications is to feed our bodies with REAL food.

How many times have you gone to the doctor for some type of symptom and walked away with a prescription? I personally  haven't experienced many doctors who try to find the source of the symptom.  Instead medicine is prescribed to mask the symptoms. Then what? How does the actual cause of symptoms ever get solved?

These are questions people should really ask themselves. We have made a decision as a family that we want to change. It isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Some people can go cold turkey, while it takes a slower transition for others. We have transitioned to this point.  We have made the decision to eat a 70% raw food diet. For us this means green smoothies for breakfast, raw fruits and veggies throughout the day and a salad for lunch and/or dinner. We still cook food. That’s the other 30%.

Whether you are sick or healthy I encourage everyone I know to watch Food Matters!