Author Page: Lisa Appelo

LISA APPELO

Lisa Appelo is in the 16th year of homeschooling her seven children. The oldest three were homeschooled through high school and went on to their first choice colleges. Lisa continues to teach the others in grades 2nd through high school at home, most recently as a suddenly widowed single mom. Each day is an adventure in life and grace.

Articles written by Lisa:

Planning for High School

Pouring the Footing – Memory Work with Little Children

 

Pouring the Footing: Memory Work With Little Children, by Lisa Appelo

My Facebook feed has been saturated with uploads of kids lip syncing the Frozen soundtrack. It’s the most recent confirmation of what we all know – kids have an amazing capacity to memorize, and they enjoy it! Learning by heart is almost a game for little ones. And while it looks like fun to your littles, memory work has enormous academic benefits.

Memorizing teaches the rhythm and patterns of language. It helps to increase vocabulary and flexes the neural passages for more complicated memorization later (hello, Periodic Table!). Memory work provides a respite from seat work for the wiggly preschooler and is our kids’ first introduction to public speaking as they recite to family. Finally – and my favorite – memorizing allows even the young child to own the verses and information. I love when my littlest leans over and excitedly whispers, “That’s our verse!” after hearing something we memorized.

So given the benefits of memorization, the next question is what to memorize. In preschool and kindergarten, my kids have learned primarily scripture (Psalms and whole chapters), poems, math facts, months and days, address and phone information and hymns. Psalm 23 is an excellent place to start. We’ve also enjoyed the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). Both are iconic cultural pieces and filled with metaphor and allusion. My kids have also worked through Level One of Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization by the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Level One moves from shorter to longer poems, helping the child to build his memory. The selections are excellent for preschoolers and kindergartners and include zany poems by Ogden Nash (“Ooey Gooey was a worm . . . “) and timeless childhood favorites from Robert Louis Stevenson (“I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me. . . “). Another venerable resource is The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist. This book is laid out by age and can be used with even young children.

Now that you have an idea of what to memorize, how do you go about it? First, do what works for your family. We don’t have one set memory period in ours. In the morning, we memorize scripture as a family during our Bible study time. Later, after some independent seat work, I meet with my younger two for Level One of Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization. Other memory work is done as needed. Math facts are part of the daily math lesson, and hymns are memorized with a CD as we run errands in the car.

Adding sign language, music, or chanting the natural rhythm of the piece can help to memorize. When memorizing long portions of scripture or poetry, we use American Sign Language or make our own hand motions. This is an excellent site to find ASL signs. Using hand motions is a great mnemonic and adds some fun. Music is also helpful. We have friends who have set whole chapters of scripture to their own melody and can successfully recall it years later. Chanting the selection or overemphasizing the poem’s natural rhythm also helps us memorize it.

Adding memory work to a day filled with math and babies and writing and laundry may seem difficult. It’s tempting to do it tomorrow or set it aside altogether. But memory work is really fairly easy and can be done as you feed the baby or fold laundry. Starting memory work for even 10 – 15 minutes a day will help your preschooler or kindergartener lay the footing for deeper and more complex learning in later years. It’s been one of our family’s favorite shared experiences, and it’s also been one of the best academic pursuits we’ve done while our kids were little.

Lisa Appelo is in the 16th year of homeschooling her seven children. The oldest three were homeschooled through high school and went on to their first choice colleges. Lisa continues to teach the others in grades 2nd through high school at home, most recently as a suddenly widowed single mom. Each day is an adventure in life and grace.

 

Planning For High School, by Lisa Appelo

 

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been homeschooling kids since kindergarten, thinking about homeschooling through the high school years is daunting. What records will you need? Can lab sciences and pre-calc really be done at home? Even though thousands of other homeschoolers have graduated and gone on to successful post-high school experiences, it can still seem like a grand experiment until you’ve graduated your own child.

I have found there are five keys to high school planning. Follow these to curb misgivings and missteps.

1. Start with the end in mind. Before you look through the first catalog, sit down with your child and talk about post-high school goals. Does your child prefer a large state university or a small liberal arts college? Will she likely go into the service or to a vocational school? While not immoveable, knowing the end goal will help you shape the high school years.

In our family, we knew our children would most likely go to a state university because of their career goals and an excellent state scholarship program. With that in mind, we looked at two things: the state universities’ admission requirements and any special homeschool conditions. One university required homeschoolers to take several accredited courses, or alternatively, SAT II exams in those subject areas. Armed with that information, we were able to fold in accredited classes over the high school years. It would have been a major roadblock had we discovered this during the senior year admissions process!

Once you know your student’s post-high school vision, you’re almost ready to open the catalogs. But first, pause and reassure yourself with step 2.

2. Just take the next step from 8th grade. Moving into high school is much like moving a child from kindergarten to first grade or from 6th grade to 7th. While high school may seem like promotion to a whole new world, the student is just progressing up one step academically. For many core subjects, this simply means going to the next level in that subject. In math, for example, the student might move from Saxon Algebra I to Algebra II. If you already have favorite curricula, some of it can be used right into high school.

Even the schedules and learning style you found in the middle years can be used in high school. Thinking of just going up one level, rather than creating a whole new structure, will help take the angst out of high school planning.

3. Research state graduation requirements. In most states, homeschoolers are not bound by state graduation requirements. But these standards help indicate two key things: what colleges in your area are looking for and what credits graduates will have taken — graduates in the same college application pool as yours. If graduates in your area routinely take four years of core academic subjects (math, science, social science, language arts and foreign language), you will want your student’s transcript to reflect that as well.

Also, while most college admission sites list the minimum requirements, be sure to look at the freshman profile page. This page gives a picture of the test scores, GPA, and credits for the freshman class actually admitted and attending. At this point, you’re ready to make the four-year plan, only in light of Step 4.

4. Sketch a four-year plan. In pencil. Now that you know your child’s goals, what worked in eighth grade, and your state’s requirements, you’re ready to rough out a four-year plan. Go ahead and add in details like curriculum you might use or online classes that would fit. Be sure to write in tests that should be completed along with courses (AP, CLEP or SAT II) as well as tests necessary for dual-enrollment and college (PSAT, SAT, ACT).

Now is the time to get out the catalogs and dream big! Just remember that this draft will change. Before your child graduates, new books will be published. Outside classes and local opportunities will appear. Or your student may develop a new passion. Of course, the beauty of homeschooling — sometimes most clearly seen in the high school years — is being able to tailor learning to our children. Even in pencil, this sketch will provide a great scaffold for the next four years. Just one more thing to add:

5. Consult a local source. This is my favorite part because it usually means I get to take another  homeschool mom out to lunch. Choose someone who has already put kids through high school and is familiar with state requirements. Ask her if she sees any problems with your four-year plan. In the best of worlds, this parent will share the transcripts, planning forms and tried-and-true wisdom learned from the process.

Planning for the high school years does not need to be intimidating. Even for those completely new to home education, these five practical steps will get you started and help you craft a plan for your high schooler. And be sure to stay tuned, as Sandbox to Socrates will cover the high school years in more detail in October.

Lisa Appelo is in the 16th year of homeschooling her seven children. The oldest three were homeschooled through high school and went on to their first choice colleges. Lisa continues to teach the others in grades 2nd through high school at home, most recently as a suddenly widowed single mom. Each day is an adventure in life and grace.