Can One Learn to Read . . . in all Educational Settings?

Learning does take place in all educational settings.  Joelle has been in public school for six weeks and has just come home reading her first book.  I am a firm believer that every child does learn differently and may require a variation in the learning environment to succeed. Our youngest made it very clear that she wanted me to be her mother, not her teacher.  She wanted me to hold, to tickle, to love, and to play with her-but that was it, though.

Our youngest just needed more socialization.  I know, home schoolers do not like hear that their kids are not sociable, and I believe, for the most part, many families, who choose the road of educating their own, do produce very outgoing, personable children.  But, are we all the same?  I have to remember that my daughters did have another chapter in their lives before we became a forever family.  They were use to interacting with groups of people . . . and a different culture!

What works for her right now is interacting with a teacher (Of course, it helps that I know this teacher personally.) and being involved in a classroom setting.  She thrives on being in the middle of it all-the singing, the laughing, and apparently, the reading!  Here is a video of her reading to daddy: Joelle’s Reading

Each of our children has learned to read well in a different school setting.

  • Our oldest son: Christian school
  • Our youngest son: Christian school/ homeschooling
  • Our oldest daughter: home
  • Our youngest daughter: public school

Homeschooling Portfolios: What Should I Include?

I do a lot of portfolio reviews for the homeschooling community.  Many ask questions like these:

  • What does a portfolio look like?
  • What do I put inside one?
  • How do I manage this with multiple children?

For starters, we automatically hole punch and file our work on the same day it is completed.  If my son has just completed a math test, I will say to him, “Son, go file this in your math section.”  Once done, we move onto the next subject; I won’t lie, though.  It does help that my brain operates in a filing cabinet manner! 

Beginning of the Year

Portfolio Creativity For an art project, my children are asked to design their portfolio covers.

FRONT: Cut out five different pictures that describe you (must be positive in nature).

BACK: Write five positive character traits that describe you.  We also do either a handprint or footprint; inside, we write the height and weight.

*At the end of the year, we love flipping through portf0lios reflecting  on how much they have learned and grown!


What to Include in a Portfolio

  1. A calendar: to keep track of school daysCalendar of School
  2. A list of field trips
  3. Lesson Plans (if you use these)
  4. Grade Records (We print the Teaching Textbooks grade book.)
  5. Report Card *
  6. Tests/Assessments
  7. Writing Samples
  8. Pictures (I rarely do this, although I have a great picture portfolio on my laptop!)
  9. Samples of work from each subject area
  10. Reading Logs

*We try to do parent/teacher conferences periodically throughout the year.  Because our kids attended private school for the first couple of years, grades still drive them to perform and apply themselves.  Being able to reflect on what they have learned for the quarter as well as share it with their dad helps us all stay on the road to success!

Portfolio Ideas





A Mother’s Day Blessing

It is hard to believe that we are finishing up our third year of homeschooling!  I am still trying to figure out how I ended up here?  Really, how does one, who has taught for sixteen years,  decide to stay at home?  

For me, I was, literally, thrown into it!  Though my oldest loved his friends and teachers, he was frustrated with traditional school; he wanted to explore his own passions: sports and writing.  So, in the middle of October, Jake came home to stay.  Meanwhile, my youngest son and daughter were still at our local Christian school; they were happy.  Somehow, with both help from the Lord and others, I taught part time, home schooled my son on the opposite days,  (On the days I worked, my friend home schooled him.), finished my masters, and adopted our youngest daughter.  Doesn’t that make you just tired thinking about it?

Year two rolls around and there is no money to send my youngest son and oldest daughter back to school.  So, I went from homeschooling one to four!  Yes, year two was a trying year for me.  There were many ups and downs; I had once read that the hardest type of parent to home school was  a school teacher!  However, having a merciful Lord and forgiving kids encouraged me to persevere through year two. It was during this year that I realized my youngest son, who was in  third grade at the time, had dyslexia.  Needless to say, I spent countless hours  being read to . . . frankly, it was a painful year.

Year three rolls around the corner, and thank goodness, I had finally mellowed out.  I decided to throw out all readers and let my son pick his own books.  Though most books were beyond his reading level, Jonah needed to “own” his reading.  The first book he chose was The Sign of the Beaver; I downloaded this book onto my Kindle, increased the font size, and used a white background.  Daily, we set the timer for thirty minutes and took turns reading a paragraph.  And now, two years later, Jonah is reading his own books.  He loves the Cartoon Network Scooby Doo series.   Who cares that these books are not “classics”!  After all, this was the boy who wanted to take his spelling tests in the mirror!

About a month ago, while skimming the newspaper, Jonah saw an essay contest about mothers.  He wanted to submit an essay.  Even though he did not win, Jonah was awarded Honorable Mention (fifth place) in our local paper.  This essay was my Mother’s Day blessing simply because my son finally had the confidence in his reading.

Note: Students who struggle with reading have similar issues with spelling and writing.  It is no surprise to discover that their verbal skills are advanced.  This essay was dictated to me.   If you have a struggling writer, please consider letting them tell you a story as you type it.  


The Great and Powerful Mom

The ReaderHave you ever met my mom?  If you haven’t, I would like to tell you about her.   Well, my mom is a good cook.  These are just some of the foods that my mom makes.  Orange pie tastes like juicy oranges that just got picked from Florida.  Her chocolate chip pumpkin cookies fresh out of the oven melt in my mouth and make me want to jump for joy!  Now, I am going to talk about homeschooling with my mom.  We do a lot of fun field trips like going to the Common Ground Fair where we saw sheep dogs chase sheep into pens. Together, we went to Mount Marie and found out about tourmaline rocks and saw a newly discovered tourmaline rock called Wine Frozen-in-Time.  These field trips require my mom to drive me there.  Down in our family room, my mom teaches a writing class where we learn about topic sentences and how to write paragraphs.  I wrote a paragraph where we made up an animal.  My animal was a Terdybirdy which was half mammal and half bird.  I like this assignment because most moms would not quit their jobs and stay home to teach their children.    Next, she helps me on my reading because it was hard for me at first because I was reading things backwards and this made me very sad because others could read better than me. So, mom and I kicked to the petal and took off!  My mom told me that I could learn to read and made me read for thirty minutes every single day of the year even in the summer. Finally, after four years, I finished my first book by myself.  It was called Jake the Drake by Andrew Clements.  And that is why I know my mom should be the mother of the year.