Archive of ‘Book Club’ category

Family Involvement through “Course Conversations”

IMG_1020After speaking to a mother of a 10th grade student who is struggling with World History, I suggested that they set up a quick  routine that every school night the mom would ask the daughter to tell her one thing about what she is learning about in the course. The daughter was allowed to look at her notes or her textbook when telling the mom as long as the fact that she explained was what her class was currently working on such as, “During the French Revolution, the clergy owned about 10 percent of all of the land.”  Some nights, this fact or detail was quick and there was not much discussion about the subject. However, about three nights a week, the mom and daughter were able to get into an interesting conversation regarding the topic.  These conversations leave the mom and daughter both pushing themselves to think deeper about the concept, the time period, and the lasting influence that this historical event has left on their own lives. This strategy is simple  and does not require the parent to be an expert on the topic for the emphasis is on thought and quick “check-ins” so the mom had awareness of what her daughter was learning about in World History, a course that had created a great deal of friction between the two because of the daughter’s grade and the mom’s feelings towards the difficult subject matter herself. However, through simply opening up a conversation through a fact or detail,  both the mom and daughter end up googling ideas during the conversation because they come up with other questions, thus pushing the daughter to draw deeper connections to her course content.

FL Homeschool Option: Umbrella Schools

umbrella-300x300What are Umbrella Schools?

Umbrella Schools is an informal name to the type of school covered under the state of FL home education rights. These schools can also be called “600 schools”, named after the FL homeschool law. These schools are actually private schools. However, most are not brick and mortar schools, usually not offering courses taught by teachers employed by the school. It is more of a means to ensure paperwork and course selection is done with fidelity. Your child is not registered as a homeschool student; they are registered as a student under whatever Umbrella School you enroll them in.


Who runs Umbrella Schools?

Umbrella Schools are generally run by individuals that are skilled and experienced with navigating homeschool law, regulations and course credits. The principal and/or owner of the school is in charge of ensuring that the child receives credit for courses, remains on a consistent and responsible track for graduation, portfolios are properly kept and the child receives a diploma upon graduation.


Why would I enroll my child in an Umbrella School?

Homeschooling can be difficult to navigate for parents and educators just beginning the journey. Umbrella Schools offer support and guidance while usually catering to the parent’s homeschool desires. These desires may be a particular style such as Waldorf or Classical or their desires may be focused on daily structure. Umbrella Schools submit most or all state paperwork for annual reviews. Umbrella schools also create transcripts and can issue a full private school high school diploma upon graduation.


How do I choose what curriculums to use?

Another benefit of doing homeschooling through an Umbrella School is that you can usually piece together multiple curriculums. A student can be taking 5 courses through 3-4 different curriculum presentation options if that is right for them. The parent can choose to use the following for courses in order to get credit and fulfill graduation and learning requirements:

  • Florida Virtual School (FLVS) or other online learning academies
  • Online Learning Systems
  • Homeschool co-op groups
  • Individually developed curriculum by tutors/parents
  • Dual enrollment at community colleges
  • Duel enrollment at local university (if applicable)


I thought FLVS was a full-time program. You can take individual classes?

FLVS can be a full-time program and your child could be registered as a FLVS student. However, FLVS can also be used a course curriculum allowing your child to take selective courses through them.



Who can instruct the student if the student is enrolled in an Umbrella School?

Numerous individuals can. The student can be educated by a parent, private tutor, homeschool co-op, community classes at libraries or museums or through virtual teachers online.


Are there any other benefits?

Yes, there are numerous other benefits other than giving the parents a piece of mind that the paperwork will be accurate. The curriculums and course selections can be individualizes so that your student is receiving an education that allows them to learn the material in a way that works for their learning style.


If my child is enrolled in an Umbrella School, how they will graduate?

Umbrella Schools have credit requirements that mimic FL Public School standards to ensure that your child is prepared for college or trade school. Students usually take a regular 24 credit, 4 year track. Some Umbrella Schools offer other options.


How expensive are Umbrella Schools?

Most Umbrella Schools are fairly inexpensive. They usually range from $300-600/year. There is often an additional amount for the student’s senior year.



How can I learn more about Umbrella Schools?

Try checking out these websites:




I highly recommend you consult with a professional homeschool consultant for more information regarding Umbrella School options. Many homeschool co-op groups will offer a consultative meeting to give you guidance as well.





Books With No Words

Wordless Books

Imagine a book that is created to inspire young minds to develop their 0wn story.

Imagine a book that is created to develop story-telling skills.

Imagine a book that is created to practice sequencing skills.

Imagine a book that allows children to make inferences.

Now imagine that same book, without words. Wordless Picture Books are an incredible way to develop all of these skills. There are multiple ways to read these books. As the adult, you have the opportunity to play make-believe and go on a wonderful literacy adventure with your child by creating up stories on each page as your child rapidly turns each page with excited apprehension. Or, you could be the audience and give your young learner the opportunity to wow you with their creativity as they twist and mold the story together for you.

Given the opportunity, students will develop their own story within these wordless books. They will develop plot lines and character traits. They will even develop a sense of fluency while telling the stories.


Some of my favorite wordless children’s books are:


The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Home by Jeannie Baker

Shadow by Suzy Lee

Chalk by Bill Thomson


Wave by Suzy Lee

What Does Working Memory Affect?

First, we need to understand what working memory is. Working memory is the ability to hold information while performing other tasks. Working memory begins to develop when a child is still an infant and continues to develop as their brains develop.

Next we need to understand why memory is important for learning. Working memory helps you hold onto information so that you can use. For example, children need working memory to comprehend a word problem. While they work out details comprehending the sentences, they must also hold operations in their head such as multiplication.  Working memory is also a critical skill with reading. The combination of the visual working memory helping children identifying what words look like and the auditory memory telling the child what sound the word makes is essential. When children have low working memory, they may need to sound out each word independently, which decreases their fluency and their comprehension (which we will get to in another post).

Did you know memory can also effect remembering directions and paying attention? Picture this, you tell a child to the child to write a paragraph about their favorite sport. While they are writing, you tell them to remember to put a detail in about who they play this sport with. Upon completion, you ask where that detail is. It is nowhere to be found. You ask them what you told them to put in their paragraph. The child has no idea. There are a few theories on why this may be. One theory is that the child plainly wasn’t listening. But, the more likely theory is that the child couldn’t process what you were saying to them while they were also focusing on each sound within words and each word within their paragraph. Writing takes a great deal of working memory.  Or have you ever told your child to pick up their backpack, put their lunch box in the sink and wash their hands before they grab their afternoon snack? Children with poor working memory may struggle with this task due to the multiple directions and steps.


Check back soon for our update on some suggestions on what you can do to help your child improve their working memory.

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