Middle School Homeschool Science Made Easy

Middle School Homeschool Science Made Easy - jenniferajanes.com

Note: I received a free Basic Science Mysteries curriculum set from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. I was compensated for the time required to write this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Homeschool Science

Up to this point, teaching science to my girls has involved allowing them the freedom to explore nature and hands-on science museums to their hearts’ content. I have provided them with books, done science experiments in the kitchen with them, stopped the van to take pictures of large spiders to research with them, walked miles at state parks to look at trees and garden patches, and done actual science curriculum with them.

I have made it a point to provide my girls with living books that address science topics and have learned to make peace with the mess that comes with hands-on science exploration.

But as my older daughter gets closer to high school, I have found myself looking more and more for a company that provides solid academic resources that will be easier to count for credits than the more relaxed way we’ve done science to this point. My problem is that I haven’t found a curriculum that met our criteria or expectations—until I found Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum.

Middle School Homeschool Science Made Easy

PAC has been exactly what I wanted for my daughter. She has been working through Basic Science Mysteries this semester, and while it’s recommended for seventh grade, it has been exactly what my second semester sixth grader needs:

  • It’s a solid basic science course.
  • It is arranged so that she can work independently (although it can be used in classroom settings and is available in a digital course as well as a physical course).
  • My daughter finds it interesting and engaging.
  • It helps her improve her study skills as she prepares for quizzes and tests.

PAC Basic Science Mysteries - jenniferajanes.com

When I asked my daughter what she likes about Basic Science Mysteries from PAC, she listed:

  • She can do it on her own, only asking me questions if she needs help.
  • The fiction sections at the beginning and end of each lesson make her want to keep going to the next lesson.
  • The life principles at the end of each lesson (most are well-known quotes or sayings, sort of like proverbs, that relate to the subject of the lesson in some way while also giving a life lesson).
  • She can go at her own pace (or the pace I set for her ;) ).

Another bonus for our family (since we’re often on the go for therapy sessions and specialist appointments) is that this curriculum is so portable. Instead of one large textbook, it is divided into five smaller books that contain the text of the lesson and five smaller books that contain the lesson activities. It is also available as digital files, which are formatted as PDF and can be viewed on tablets, laptops, smartphones, etc. This is perfect for families who aren’t always at home while working on lessons.

The Teacher’s Resource Kit is laid out well, explaining different ways you can use the course and providing the quizzes, tests, answers, and additional information to use as your student works through the coursework.

I am so impressed with Basic Science Mysteries from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum that I’m already looking into other courses they offer for now through high school. I’m liking what I see so far.

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum Science - jenniferajanes.com

Getting PAC for Your Homeschool

I also love the prices – the entire Basic Science Mysteries curriculum costs less than $100 (physical products) and less than $40 for the digital products alone! And I love PAC’s heart for people who might struggle to pay for the curriculum.

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum offers these discounts:

40% off for

  • homeschool groups (minimum purchase $1000)
  • single parents

20%  off for

  • ministry families
  • military families
  • farmers and ranchers
  • first responders
  • foster parents

All you have to do is call Paradigm at 325-649-0976 for a discount code to use during the checkout process if you fit into one of these categories.

 Connect with PAC

Have questions or just want to see what Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum is doing? Follow them on:

Posted in Homeschool, Homeschool Curriculum Reviews, Review, Special Needs | 2 Comments

4 Tips for Homeschooling When It’s Not Fun

4 Tips for Homeschooling When It's Not Fun - jenniferajanes.com

Spring is nowhere in sight. In fact, we’re watching a winter storm move into our area right now. Summer is even farther away, but we’ve got some spring fever – or something. More days than not, my kids and I are struggling with feeling motivated to sit down and get to work. My younger daughter is struggling with her school work more than usual because of some neurological “glitches” (it will get better, but we don’t know when), and my older daughter is physically tired and wants nothing more than to curl up in bed with a good book, napping when she gets tired. It happens almost every year about this time, and when it hits, homeschooling isn’t fun. What do we do?

4 Tips for Homeschooling When It’s Not Fun

Here are some ideas for getting through the “not fun” times of homeschooling:

  • Take a break. Sometimes a break is called for, and that’s okay. One of the huge benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility. If you take spring break early, or just a mental health day every once in a while, you can catch up later in the year, on Saturdays, or not at all if you homeschool almost year-round and are already ahead of the game. Sometimes stepping away from it to rest and recharge is exactly what’s needed to return refreshed and with renewed interest.
  • Make changes. Look at what you’re doing. Is the curriculum still working? Have you quit doing the engaging hands-on activities your kids enjoyed so much at the beginning of the school year? Do they need something more challenging, or has the work gotten too hard? Taking a good look at your curriculum and activities may reveal some changes you can make that will improve the energy level in your homeschool.
  • Play. If you’re just experiencing burnout and don’t really need a full break or significant changes to what you’re doing, take a few days to focus on learning through play. Read books to one another and independently, listen to audiobooks, play card games and board games, spend lots of time in the kitchen baking goodies for friends and neighbors, go outside and make snowmen (if you have snow ;) ), watch movies or documentaries everyone is interested in seeing, allow lots of time for creative play (play dough, blocks, drawing, painting, etc.), encourage time for imaginative play, and just have fun together. It’s amazing how much your kids will learn while playing—without even realizing it!
  • Keep going. Part of living the homeschooling life is being disciplined enough to get the work done. Sometimes you just know that everything is okay except for some spring fever (or maybe cabin fever) and that you need to be disciplined and push through. Our feelings are not always a reliable indicator of what’s really going on. Sometimes if we keep doing what we’re doing, our feelings will follow our actions.

What are your best tips for homeschooling when it’s not fun?

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | 2 Comments

If You’re Ready to Give Up . . .

If You're Ready to Give Up - jenniferajanes.com

If You’re Ready to Give Up . . .

Last week began with our “new normal” schedule, with a little visit to my family doctor thrown in on Monday afternoon. I wanted to talk with him about a little list of things that were bugging me, and the visit went well until the last item on my list. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in his scheduler’s office, getting an appointment for an echocardiogram. That happened the next day, and the results were good. (Hallelujah!)

But on Monday night I started a new medicine, and to say that my body had to do some getting used to it is an understatement. It was a difficult time because I felt really bad, and my family had to bear with me through the transition.

I got all my hours in at work and headed out of town with Princess Roo on Thursday evening. We spent an interesting night there because she wasn’t allowed to sleep for more than four hours. Friday morning we headed to Children’s for her EEG and neurology appointment, then drove home.

Saturday we all slept late and got some much-needed rest. And then I found two chipped teeth. I have no idea how or when it happened, but it’s done. Today was full of church and volunteer activities related to the children’s ministry.

And then there’s everything else: financial pressure, the need to get our tax paperwork ready for the CPA, the possibility of a winter storm rolling in (ice!), and the list goes on and on and on.

I know you’ve got a list too. We all do. I’ve struggled a lot the past week with fear, anxiety, and being weary of the fight. I’ve been ready to give up. I’m tired of trying to figure it out on my own – because I can’t. I can’t fix everything that needs fixing in my life.

Then I remembered some things that really resonated with me last month and realized that maybe I need them more now than I did then. I’m recording them here, thinking that they may encourage you to hope again too.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.

Galatians 6:9 AMP

God can take the seemingly impossible and make it possible. Keep praying.

From a Facebook Meme

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

For from of old no one has heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who [earnestly] waits for Him.

Isaiah 64:4 AMP

I’m waiting earnestly. Won’t you wait with me, doing the next right thing as it presents itself? We will get through this.

Posted in Homeschool, Life, Parenting, Special Needs | 5 Comments

Periodic Table Chemistry Game for Homeschool Families

Periodic Table Chemistry Game for Homeschool Families - jenniferajanes.com

Disclaimer: I received a free download of the Atomidoodle app from Hero Factor Games. I was compensated for the time I spent working on this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. This post may contain affiliate links.

Learning the Periodic Table – My Problem

It’s time for a homeschool mom confession: When it comes to science, I do really well at life sciences. Plants and animals, the study of the human body, those are easy for me. I found chemistry and physics intimidating and more difficult when I was in school, and that hasn’t changed. I get really stressed when I think about covering some of the subjects that I found especially hard. And explaining the periodic table? Terrifying.

But my older daughter is headed towards junior high, so it’s time to face my fears and get more serious about tackling the physical sciences, including the periodic table. And I found a solution to that problem: the Atomidoodle app from Hero Factor Games.

Atomidoodle from Hero Factor Games - The Solution 

Atomidoodle is the answer to helping my daughter become familiar with the periodic table. It’s visually appealing, which was a pleasant surprise when we opened the app for the first time, and it’s something I continue to enjoy. The title screen is beautiful, and the game itself looks like graph paper with hand-sketched lines—a virtual science notebook!

Atomidoodle periodic table Hero Factor Games

The game requires you to “build” different elements by using the fission and fusion widgets to get the correct number of protons for the various elements (it also explains fission and fusion), and each level has a challenge to complete. When you finish the challenge, you unlock a new element on your periodic table. You can return to the periodic table as often as desired, and clicking on an unlocked element reveals information about that element.

Atomidoodle periodic table elements chemistry

The thing I love about all of this is that Atomidoodle is educational in more ways than one! When my daughter plays it, she gets:

  • An introduction to the elements of the periodic table.
  • Addition and division practice.
  • Chemistry facts presented throughout the game.
  • Practice applying problem solving skills—you have to quickly decide which path the atoms need to take to meet the challenge and act before the atoms head the wrong way.
  • Fun! The problem-solving and challenges make Atomidoodle as much a puzzle game as a chemistry game, which keeps my daughter interested and returning to the game regularly.

periodic table elements Atomidoodle

Another thoughtful plus: The app has three “notebooks,” which means that my older daughter, younger daughter, and I each have a place to play where we won’t disturb someone else’s progress.

Take a look for yourself:

Hero Factor Games has created a beautiful and engaging way for kids to practice math skills and learn the periodic table. We’ll be using this to supplement our science lessons for a long time.

Atomidoodle for YOUR Family

You can join the fun by getting the Atomidoodle app on iTunes for $1.99 or on Google Play for $2.00.

More from Hero Factor Games

Love Atomidoodle like we do? Connect with Hero Factor Games for information about more great products! You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google +.

Posted in Homeschool, Review, Software Review | 2 Comments

Becoming a Working Homeschool Mom

Becoming a Working Homeschool Mom - jenniferajanes.com

Becoming a Working Homeschool Mom

I have worked from home for years, and that will continue as I work to build my freelance writing business. But that isn’t consistent income, generally, and with the bills piling up, I’ve prayed that God would make a way. And suddenly, last week, volunteering two hours a week became a job offer for up to ten hours a week as an office assistant. It’s certainly not the answer to all of our financial concerns, but every little bit helps, and we’re grateful for it. We are accepting it as an answer to prayer, but that means some big changes in our home.

Since we’ll be out of the house for at least ten more hours a week, we’re having to work together as a family and look at everything. We’re having to look at how and when we’ll get the girls’ lessons done, and when things like dishes, cleaning, laundry, and even showers will occur with our new schedule. We haven’t removed anything from our schedule. Therapy sessions, specialist appointments, weekly infusions, homeschool co-op classes, freelance writing, maintaining the blog—they’re all still happening. What’s also happening is a complete reevaluation of our family priorities and reorganizing our days to make sure that what’s truly important is what we’re spending our time on.

We’re just figuring out my being a working homeschool mom, but here are some things my family is doing to make the transition easier:

  • Be intentional. As I mentioned earlier, we’re looking at a list of what we do every week, setting priorities, and deliberately choosing activities each day that will allow us to keep those as priorities and help us reach our goals, both individually and as a family.
  • Be flexible. The girls are having to accept that we’re going to have a different schedule and won’t be able to do things the way we’ve been doing them. I’m thankful for the flexibility that homeschooling provides too. It means that we can do lessons early in the morning or in the evening as well as during the day, and we can even catch up on weekends, if necessary.
  • Be a team. We all need to work together to make this new schedule work. Laundry, dishes, meal preparation, and other household duties will go much more quickly if we all work together to make them happen.
  • Sleep. It has become evident very quickly that I’m going to have to give up my night owl ways if I’m going to be able to stick to the new schedule. The girls are going to have to get used to having an earlier bedtime too. I know we will adjust soon, but in the meantime, we need the extra rest as we get used to the new routine.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I would love for you to add your tips for working homeschool moms (me!) in the comments. I’ll add an update later if I come up with anything brilliant. ;)

While doing an online search, I did come across some good advice for working homeschool moms—from different perspectives:


Posted in Family, Homeschool, Parenting, Special Needs | 22 Comments

Get Your Joy Back by Laurie Wallin {Review}

Get Your Joy Back by Laurie Wallin {Review} - jenniferajanes.com

I received a free copy of Get Your Joy Back from Laurie Wallin and Litfuse Publicity Group as part of the book’s launch team and the Litfuse blog tour. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a review, much less a positive one.

*This is a re-post with added information for the Litfuse blog tour.

Get Your Joy Back by Laurie Wallin

Get Your Joy Back: Banishing Resentment and Reclaiming Confidence in Your Special Needs Family by Laurie Wallin is the first nonfiction book I have ever read in one day. When I started it, I couldn’t put it down. Laurie shares practical wisdom and hope for special needs families like she’s sitting across from you in a coffee shop, a combination of life coach and best friend. As I read her tips for dealing with the negative situations that come with being the parent of a child with special needs, I could feel tension and stress I didn’t realize was there easing out of my neck and shoulders. I will return to this book again and again to help me learn to live a better life, one of forgiveness, grace, and joy.

Laurie admits to the negative feelings special needs parents have—about our spouses, our children, and ourselves—and she does it in a way that is refreshing and brings great relief to the reader. We are not alone in our struggles, in our emotional state, and in our desire to do more than survive this life. With a sense of humor and wisdom borne of experience, Laurie offers us a different way, one of forgiveness that will allow us to live a life of joy and thrive despite our circumstances.

Get Your Joy Back has restored my hope that things can be different—better. While the path toward restoration through forgiveness isn’t easy, it is doable.

About the book:

Get Your Joy Back book coverAn invitation and a promise for weary Christian parents of special needs kids from a parent who’s been there.

It isn’t the long day of monitoring a child’s precarious health or being hypervigilant about her mood and mental health challenges that weighs parents down; it’s the wishing that things were different. . . . Resentment, not the intense care they must provide their child, is the parents’ greatest stressor and source of pain.” —Laurie WallinParents of specials needs children are exhausted. They’ve done all the research, consulted all the experts, joined support groups, gotten counseling, fought for the best life for their children. Often just caring for their children’s needs and attempting to maintain a home maxes out parents’ mental, emotional, and spiritual reserves.

Laurie Wallin knows firsthand the difficulties of this journey. With Get Your Joy Back, she steps forward to make a bold, audacious claim: in the midst of this long-term, intense task, it is still possible to have an abundant life, full of joy. The key to radically changing daily life and restoring joy to the weary is forgiveness. Wallin gives parents a lifeline to find that restoration, pulling them back to shore when they feel like they’re drowning.

This book is full of practical, biblical insights and strategies to shed the resentments that leave Christian special-needs parents themselves spiritually, emotionally, and socially drained. Wallin meets readers right where they are, sugar coating nothing, but addressing issues with honesty, humor, and—above all—hope.

Read an excerpt: http://bit.ly/GetYourJoyBackExcerpt

About the author:

Laurie Wallin headshotLaurie Wallin strives every day to live out her message for families: that no matter the challenge, in Jesus they can have joy and confidence. She is mom to four girls, two of them with mental and developmental special needs. She has been a certified life coach for over a decade, and is a regular speaker at women’s events and retreats, a popular blogger, and the author of Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful.

Find Laurie online: website, Facebook, Twitter

You can find out more on Laurie Wallin’s website and on the Litfuse Publicity Group landing page for the blog tour.

Posted in Book Reviews, Review, Special Needs | Leave a comment

Looking Back: My Favorite Special Needs Posts from 2014

Looking Back: My Favorite Special Needs Posts from 2014 - jenniferajanes.com

Looking Back: My Favorite Special Needs Posts from 2014

A few weeks ago, I shared my most popular posts from 2014 as chosen by you, the reader. Today I’m going to share a list of my personal favorites from last year. Some posts appear on both lists, but some stand alone on my list. I’ll present a link to each one along with a brief explanation of why it’s one of my favorites from 2014.

  • Why My Child Almost Failed Kindergarten – And Yours Doesn’t Have To – I never imagined that one of my children would come dangerously close to failing kindergarten, especially when there were no indications that there were any issues. I shared our story with the hope that other parents won’t miss some of the signs that would have led us to seek help earlier.
  • To the Sibling of a Child with Special Needs – This post means a lot to me because I wrote it straight from the heart to my older daughter.
  • 10 Things I Learned on Our First Family Mission Trip – Our first mission trip as a family was only for a few days, and it was in-state, but it was more difficult than I had anticipated, and I learned a lot.
  • When the Seemingly Bad is Good – I struggle to remember that God is in control and that He uses everything for good in my life. This was made very clear to me during a difficult incident as we were preparing to leave for one of Princess Roo’s specialist appointments.
  • How My Small yes Changed My Family in a BIG Way – I made a decision when I was pregnant with my second child that has changed my family in ways I could never have foreseen. And it all started with one word: yes. This is a very personal story, and there’s a link to a follow-up to this post at the end.
  • To the Special Needs Mom Who is DONE – I wrote this when I had spoken to too many moms in a week’s time who were struggling and ready to quit. I was hurting for these women I love so much – for the woman I have been at times myself.
  •  Special Needs Homeschooling is Not School at Home – When I began homeschooling, I had no idea what homeschooling looked like, and I certainly didn’t know what special needs homeschooling should look like. By education and profession, all I knew was public schools. Here’s what I’ve learned in the years since I began teaching my own children at home.
  • To the Parent Struggling with Your Child’s Diagnosis – Because I have struggled with diagnoses too—and how they affect my view of my child.
  • How I Juggle Special Needs Parenting and Homeschooling – I am often asked how I balance everything. The truth is that I don’t do it well all the time, but there are some tips I use to maintain what’s left of my sanity, and they’re included here. I re-read this post occasionally when I feel that I’m veering off track.
  • 100 Resources for Special Needs Parenting and Homeschooling – I created this post as a starting place for parents who are looking for places to find out more about special needs parenting and homeschooling. These include personal stories from other parents—and none of them are from my blog (although I did include a list of links to my posts at the bottom as a bonus).

If you’re interested in seeing what top bloggers have chosen as their favorite blog posts from 2014, check out these amazing lists from the bloggers of iHomeschool Network—and be sure to Pin them to read for later and share them on social media if you find something you especially like!

My Favorite Posts from 2014 - iHomeschool Network

Posted in Blogging, Homeschool, Parenting, Special Needs | 2 Comments

Waiting for a Diagnosis for Your Child with Special Needs

Waiting for a Diagnosis for Your Child with Special Needs - jenniferajanes.com

Waiting for a Diagnosis for Your Child with Special Needs

(Note: This isn’t about whether you should or shouldn’t seek a diagnosis for your child. I shared my thoughts on that topic here.)

My daughter has already received a lengthy list of diagnoses, but I’ve spent the last two weeks recording her temperature, trying to help her avoid hypothermia, researching possible reasons why her body temperature is so low, and waiting to hear back from her immunologist about the next steps we’ll take. Despite all the diagnoses we’ve gotten over the years, the overarching probable genetic diagnosis is still elusive, and there are other issues we’re dealing that have led to some neurological testing. (One test was done on New Year’s Eve. The other will be in February.) We’re making some unexpected trips back to a specialty we thought we wouldn’t have to see again. The waiting to figure out if we’re dealing with another diagnosis or just a benign issue is hard.

If you’re in the process of looking for answers for your child, you are not alone. I’ve been on this journey for almost a decade, and there’s no end in sight. The waiting is hard, and it can go on for the foreseeable future. How do you deal with the waiting and the questions?

Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • The process takes time. Diagnoses do not come as quickly and easily as the movies and TV would have us believe. It’s a long, involved process, and we may never really get the answers we seek. Even if we do, getting testing and evaluations scheduled and the results back takes a while—sometimes months or even years.
  • You have to advocate for your child. You know your child better than anyone. Don’t let a professional belittle you and tell you nothing is wrong with your child with a cursory examination and a curt dismissal. If you feel something is wrong, find another professional who will listen to you and give your child a thorough examination so that your mind can be at ease one way or the other.
  • You need support. You need friends to walk with you through this. Find them in your community or online. Even while you wait for answers, it helps to have someone come alongside and listen to you while you talk through and process everything that’s going on. If someone can attend appointments with you, that’s even better. An extra set of ears to hear what the specialists are telling you, to ask any questions that may not occur to you at the moment, and to confirm that you heard what you thought you heard (or to clarify something you misunderstood) is priceless.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy life. When your child is going through testing and evaluations, it’s easy to become consumed in researching possible diagnoses and treatments. When you allow the diagnosis process to take over your every waking thought, you miss what’s right in front of you: precious moments with your child, family, and friends. You won’t ever get those moments back, so do what you can each day to get answers for your child, and then set it aside and enjoy the gift that is today.

What tips do you have for dealing with the waiting period that comes with seeking a diagnosis for your child?

Related articles:

Posted in Parenting, Special Needs | 6 Comments

7 Life Skills Kids Can Learn through Board Games

7 Life Skills Kids Can Learn through Board Games - jenniferajanes.com

*Disclosure: I am a Better Beginnings brand ambassador. I get paid to write an article for them once a month, but the best thing is that I get to learn, and in turn share with you, great information about how kids learn and helping them learn through play. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I believe in the mission of Better Beginnings – quality early education for all.

7 Life Skills Kids Can Learn through Board Games

Working on life skills with my younger daughter is as critical as helping her with academic subjects because she has some developmental delays. What I didn’t realize until recently, however, is that the concept of “life skills” goes far beyond what I thought.

I’m working my way through the book Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky, and she defines the seven essential life skills as

  • Focus and self-control
  • Perspective taking
  • Communicating
  • Making connections
  • Critical thinking
  • Taking on challenges
  • Self-directed, engaged learning

As I read the explanations and studies in the book, as I think about how to apply this with my children, I realize with relief that most of these can be accomplished through play. More specifically, I see ways that I have already begun to help my kids develop these skills through board games. We haven’t arrived, but with board game introductions, I think we’ll lay a foundation for these skills that we can build on in other play settings as well as real situations.

Wondering what this looks like at my house?

  1. Focus and self-control. This one is tough, but it’s something we really work on with board games. My little one has been known to try to change the rules or throw a fit when she’s not winning. It is a real exercise in self-control to keep her engaged throughout the game—and to help her manage her emotions in an age-appropriate and socially acceptable way. This self-control thing is necessary both when she wins and when she loses.
  2. Perspective taking. Since reading nonverbal cues and understanding social interactions is an area where my daughter struggles, we do a lot of work on looking at a situation from someone else’s perspective. This is pretty easy to do during board games, when the players find themselves in similar situations at various times during the game. For instance, when she’s tempted to gloat when she sends another player back several spaces, I can ask her how she felt when she had to go back earlier in the game. It makes it a little easier for her to imagine how someone else feels and adjust her responses accordingly.
  3. Communicating. We can work on communicating during board games both by moving perspective taking a step further, helping my daughter think through how her actions are perceived by others and talking about what message she wants to send to her fellow players. But it can also apply to her literal communication. She struggles with expressive language disorder, so games that involve describing something for others to guess are very difficult but also give her much-needed practice in a safe environment.
  4. Making connections. I love it when my girls begin to see patterns or similarities and differences while we play board games. It’s amazing to see their eyes light up and have them begin to talk excitedly about the realization. After playing a lot of board games on Christmas break a few years ago, my younger daughter made the connection between subtraction, which was very difficult for her at the time, and having to move backward on the board. Once she made that connection, it was a lot easier to move forward in math!
  5. Critical thinking. One of my favorite games that involves a lot of problem solving and critical thinking is Clue. The girls get wrapped up in the mystery, but there’s so much to figure out while playing that game. It’s a great brain exercise. I have also found games like Monopoly are good for critical thinking about values and belief systems and lend well to discussions about finances, using financial resources wisely, greed, and making wise choices. (Of course, the game is all in fun, but it doesn’t hurt to look at motives while we’re at it.)
  6. Taking on challenges. This is a hard one for my younger daughter, who really hates to fail. Almost any game that really stretches her, where she’s not guaranteed success, gives her an opportunity to challenge herself and learn how to handle her feelings (see #1). These include Twister (physically challenging), Hedbanz (challenges her communication skills), Operation or Kerplunk (fine motor skills), What’s in Ned’s Head? (sensory integration), and Guess Who? (thinking skills).
  7. Self-directed, engaged learning. When my kids get to choose the games we play, they are much more focused, try harder, and are more open to any discussions we have during the game, whether they’re about life in general or specifically related to the game and what’s going on there. I really want to instill a love of learning in my kids so they will be able to tackle any challenge that comes their way. Learning more about how they think and what they really enjoy helps me give them more and more opportunities for learning. (It never hurts to scatter books, toys, and games they’ll love around the house, does it?)

How do you see your kids learning through board games? In what other ways do you see yourself helping your kids develop these life skills?

Better Beginnings has the amazing resource 10 Things Every Parent Should Know about Play available to you FREE in the Better Beginnings Resource Library. There’s a lot more going on during play than we realize!

If you’re in Arkansas and need child care, please consider a Better Beginnings provider. They have fun, hands-on educational activities for every child!

Other articles in the Learning Through Play series:

Back to Basics: Learning Through Play - jenniferajanes.com

Posted in Autism, Homeschool, Parenting, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs | 9 Comments

Readers’ Choice: My Top 10 Most Popular Posts from 2014

Readers' Choice My Top 10 Most Popular Posts from 2014 - jenniferajanes.com

Readers’ Choice: My Top 10 Most Popular Posts from 2014

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season as much as I did. I spent most of the last two weeks with my husband and children, enjoying laughter, good movies and books, and fun conversations. There was also a trip to Children’s Hospital for an MRI under sedation, but we didn’t let that slow us down. We visited with family and friends while we were in Little Rock.

I have spent a lot of time thinking and praying about my writing too, planning for 2015. During that time, I took a look back at last year, and I was interested to see what YOU thought were my best posts of 2014.

Whether you’re new here or you just missed a couple of them, there’s sure to be something in this list that you haven’t seen before or have forgotten about. (I had forgotten that I wrote some of these last year!)

Here, in order from least to most popular, are my top ten most popular posts of 2014, chosen by YOU!

10. 10 Sensory Integration Activities for Your Homeschool Day

9. Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2014-15 (4th and 6th grades)

8. 10 Things You Should Know about Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs

7. How My Small yes Changed My Family in a BIG Way

6. To the Parent Struggling with Your Child’s Diagnosis

5. Why My Child Almost Failed Kindergarten – And Yours Doesn’t Have To

4. Our Homeschool Room 2014-15

3. To the Special Needs Mom Who is DONE

2. Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior? {Workshop Re-Cap}

1. To the Sibling of a Child with Special Needs

Thank you for making 2014 the best one so far. I’m looking forward to journeying through 2015 with you!

What posts did you miss from other favorite bloggers? Check out the other top ten lists from the bloggers of iHomeschool Network!

My Top 10 Most Popular Posts from 2014 - iHomeschool Network

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