Month: March 2012

Homeschool Ideas – Simple Ways To Make Learning Fun
Homeschool ideas can make learning more enjoyable.

Has your homeschooling routine become dull and uninspiring? Do your children groan, complain and beg you for frequent breaks? Here are some simple homeschool ideas that will put the fun back into your homeschool curriculum!

Reading and language arts are essential components of every homeschool program. You don’t have to assign workbook exercises to help your child build valuable reading skills. Play crossword puzzles, read joke books, have a family book club or poetry night. Post a word you want your children to learn on your refrigerator every week. Keep track of how often the word is used in context and give a prize to the person who uses it the most frequently.

Teaching math is fun and easy when you reinforce its value in everyday life. Show your children ways you use math when budgeting, shopping, playing sports or traveling. Building is a great way to teach math and geometry. Help your children build a toy box or clubhouse, or work together on household repairs. Younger children can build with Legos, blocks or K’nex.

Journaling, letter writing and scrap booking are great activities for budding writers. Reluctant writers may want to practice writing jokes or use their computer skills to create a blog or website. Creating a newsletter is a great family writing project. Assign different tasks to each child, or have children work as a team. This newsletter will serve as a record of events and activities your family has enjoyed.

Head outdoors to give your children a break from their regular routine. Sit under a tree and read your favorite read aloud, complete assignments on an outdoor picnic table. Take a walk or roller blade between lessons, or eat lunch on a blanket in the backyard. This will not only give your children a boost of fresh air, it gives them a chance to observe nature – that’s science!

Divide your family into teams and choose a subject for debate. Help your children research the topic and prepare convincing arguments. Your children will learn about current events and history, and develop valuable public speaking skills. Instead of choosing a winner, reward both teams for a job well done!

Don’t forget to play homeschool games like Chess, card games and board games with your children. Adding a game night to your weekly routine will provide your family with valuable opportunities for learning and bonding.

By: Carletta Sanders

Here are some additional homeschool ideas. Carletta Sanders is a homeschool mom of 3. For monthly activities delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for her homeschool newsletter.

Homeschool Activities – Tips For Finding And Choosing Fun Programs For Your Child

home school fun

home school funAlthough many parents are concerned about socialization, there are many homeschool activities available for children who are educated at home. When choosing homeschooling activities, look for activities that are inexpensive and age appropriate. Here are some places you can find activities for your children:

  • Church – Church activities are not always limited to church members. Many churches offer sports, Sunday school, choir, drama, vacation Bible school and other programs to residents of the community.
  • Sports – Homeschoolers can participate in sports through the recreation centers, church programs, competitive leagues and home school leagues. In some states, homeschooled children can participate in programs offered by their local public schools.
  • Private Lessons – Many home school students take dance, music, skating, swimming, gymnastics or art lessons during daytime hours at local studios.
  • Civic Organizations – 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and similar organizations welcome participation from children who are home educated.
  • Support Groups – Homeschool support groups sponsor a variety of social and educational activities like park days, science clubs, debate teams and field trips.
  • Libraries – Public libraries often offer book clubs, story times, writer’s groups and other educational programs for homeschoolers. Some libraries provide local support groups with advertising and meeting space.

Your children can also volunteer for a local food bank, homeless shelter, nursing home, hospital or after school program. High school students may want to intern in a field of interest or work at a part time job.

Because there are so many opportunities available to homeschoolers, it is tempting to take on too many commitments. Consider travel time and preparation time when choosing activities, and be considerate of younger members of your family who will have to sit and wait for older siblings.

Discuss the program’s requirements and expectations for your behavior with your children, and agree upon a time period for remaining in the program before trying something new.

By: Carletta Sanders

Here are some additional tips for choosing homeschool activities for your family. For homeschooling information and ideas delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for Carletta’s homeschool newsletter.

Sonlight Homeschool – Is It Right For Your Child?


sonlightIf you have decided to homeschool your children and you have decided further that you want a Christian based curriculum as opposed to a secular curriculum, then you might want to take the next step and consider Sonlight Homeschool.

According to its website, “Sonlight Curriculum is a Christian company specializing in literature-based homeschool curriculum programs” for preschool and grades K-12 and is based on what Sonlight’s website describes as “Literature-rich homeschooling.” Because of its heavy dependence on literature in his textbooks, Sonlight requires that its parents “read aloud” to their students.

Right away, it would seem that Sonlight’s Homeschool requires more time than does other Christian-based homeschools. However, at its website Sonlight declares that “Despite our emphasis on reading aloud to your children in the younger years, Sonlight takes a relatively small amount of time when compared to classroom school.” In addition, although it is Christian-based, Sonlight promises a diversity of opinions and that it tries to present various sides to an an issue. This latter position is a critical one for parents who want to educate their children and not indoctrinate them.

While Sonlight promises a diversity of opinions in the presentation of the subject matter of its textbooks, there are serious questions as to diversity in the sources of that literature and the people presented in its textbooks. Although this author did not review any of Sonlight’s textbooks other than advertisement blurbs, a review of Sonlight’s website did not reveal the diversity of people representative of American society. Parents will sure want to explore this matter further before deciding on Sonlight as their homeschool provider.

One great benefit of Sonlight’s website is its link to 29 objections to Sonlight and the company’s responses to those objections. This is a rich resource for parents in making up their minds. If you have decided to homeschool your children and you want a Christian-based curriculum, then Sonlight Homeschool is well worth considering.

By: cecilia holmes

If you would like more information about college and the Sonlight Homeschool as well as general information on homeschooling, please visit

Creating, Maintaining & Presenting A Homeschool Portfolio

home school portfolio

home school portfolioMany school districts now require homeschoolers to present portfolios showing their student’s progress in an organized fashion. This is actually a very convenient method of recording whenever it is done properly. Here are some ideas on how to create, maintain, and present your homeschool portfolio for a successful assessment, evaluation and review.

First of all, it is important to have a firm grasp on precisely what a homeschool portfolio is. Basically, a homeschool portfolio is a collection of materials that are used in order to showcase what your child has learned over the course of the “school year.” This is important because numerous states require an annual assessment of homeschooled students either via testing or the presentation of a portfolio. While it may seem that keeping a portfolio is only good in so far as you need to comply with the law. This is not the case however. Portfolios can also help parents and their children to record their progress and achievements. This becomes even more important once a child has reached high school and needs a diploma.

Now that we understand the importance of a portfolio, it is also important to understand that there is no right or wrong way in which to create a portfolio. It is up to the parent and/or child what materials the portfolio will contain. However, it is a good idea to choose a variety of material in order to reflect what the child has learned, experienced and accomplished throughout the year. Some items that should be included in your portfolio are:

  1. A journal which contains notes about activities and the progress that has been made.
  2. A list of resources (ie books, computer software, games, toys and outside classes).
  3. Samples of the child’s work (ie samples of creative writing and drawings, text book or workbook pages, and if possible you may include audio or video tapes of your child singing, playing a musical instrument, reading aloud, or taking part in a a dramatic performance – pictures will also sometimes work well in place of audio or video tapes).
  4. Photos of field trips, artwork, projects and family life.
  5. Brochures and booklets from field trips and other activities.
  6. A list of books that the child has read including both the title and the author.
  7. A list of your goals for the year.

While this may seem quite overwhelming, you’d honestly be surprised at how easily you can accomplish this when you start preparing your portfolio at the beginning of the year. Simply use a three ring binder and add paper for your journaling. Start off by listing a few of your goals for the year and what resources you’ll be using to achieve those goals (these can be modified throughout the year as needed). Then begin collecting samples of work, organizing them by subject, and punching holes in them to place them in your binder. Always have at least a throw away camera at hand so that you can take pictures of anything that you’d like that your child does (ie reading, playing, dancing). You’ll also want to take pictures at field trips as well as pictures of your child’s projects and creations. These pictures can either be placed in a photo album or if you’re feeling really craftsy you could organize them into a scrapbook. You’ll also want to make sure to hold onto any brochures or other paper items that you collect while on an educational outing. These can be easily placed in clear see-through sheet protectors. This is also a good time to begin accumulating a list of books that are being read.

Once you have put together the beginnings of your portfolio, don’t stop there. Regular maintenance (I suggest weekly as it will help you to write your lesson plans for the following week) should include regular journal entries and an ongoing collection of work samples, photos and whatever else you wish to include. Some school districts will require a quarterly assessment throughout your homeschool year. This is a time for parents and children to reflect upon their progress and accomplishments from the previous months. Yet, even if your school district doesn’t require a quarterly review, you won’t want to wait until the end of the year to scramble and race to put together a portfolio that your school district will approve of. Neither you nor your child deserve having to go through the unneeded stress of having to sort through all of the material that has been collected throughout the year.

When it is time for review you may choose to remove some of the materials from your portfolio. You will find that some of these things simply do not properly reflect what you’ve accomplished throughout the year. If/when you decide to weed through your portfolio, you need to remember that the purpose of the review is to provide a general overview of the homeschool year, demonstrate that the child is engaged in homeschooling and that progress is being made.

The portfolio review can be exciting since it provides both parents and children with a time to talk about what they’ve been doing at home. When discussing this with your child, you may find it helpful to write down a summary of the items that you wish to highlight during your year before the review. For instance, if your child learned to read or master a skill you may wish to point this out to the reviewer. Of course, you should never view your portfolio review as a time for you to be judged or ridiculed. It is a time to listen, learn and support from your reviewer. Your child does not need to be present during this time. However, if your child wants a chance to “brag” about their accomplishments and progress to other homeschoolers, then this review is a perfect opportunity for them to do so.

By: Ankisha

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A Look At Why Families Homeschool

home school family

home school familyWhy do families homeschool? The reasons vary but some common ones are not having to wake up at 7AM or earlier to shuffle off to school with a bombardment of instructions all day. Homeschool allows a parent to have more influence into their child’s life and oversee their growth and development and the ability to detect the needs of your child’s education. Tailoring curriculum to fit your child’s needs and interests is another major factor in the decision to homeschool.

Individual attention is a major factor as well. It’s tough to get with a large classroom of other children. If your child excels at one subject, yet struggles in another, it allows more time to be put to the difficult subject without creating more pressure on the child. The amount of time needed per subject varies with each child, so it can customized to the child’s needs.

Homeschooling usually develops into a family project where all participate in the learning process. Experiments, field trips, chores, games and the like become learning targeted. It also brings about more quality time spent together and family closeness. Negative peer pressure is also reduced especially during important developmental stages of choices and decision making.

Competition and comparison is limited as the child doesn’t have the pressure to measure up to peers, but can learn at his or her own pace, their confidence remains intact. Parents can plan learning to pique a child’s interest. Also learning can be interspersed with fun activities spread out amidst difficult ones. A tough hour of Science can be followed up with a trip to a museum for instance, helping to foster a love of learning. Parents can also tailor curriculum to fit the child’s learning style, whether it’s more through reading, writing or seeing objects in action.

Homeschooling allows parents to take control over the moral and religious learning of the child. Parents have the flexibility to incorporate their beliefs and ideologies into the child’s curriculum. There is no confusion in the child’s mind either because there is no variation between what is being taught and what is being practiced.

Lastly, many parents are disillusioned with public school for various reasons. Perhaps it was a poor educational experience for them as children, concerns that their children are pushed either too hard or too little. Discipline and ethics also bring concerns that sometimes are very difficult to take. Many disagree with the practice of grouping children together solely based upon their age. Many feel their children would have a better educational experience through homeschooling.

By: Rachel Rae

By Rachel Ray – Drop by her site with lots of resources and ideas to help a family on a budget cope. There are also lots of parenting tips and much more! Grab a cup of coffee and look around!

Homeschool High School Credit For Latin

home school
home school
Maruc Antonius

How much is a credit of Latin and when do you stop? Answers vary depending on the situation, but here is the advice I gave Rebecca.

14 year old did Henle Latin last year and took a year to do a high school semester worth of work. Did fine. She’s finishing up the second semester in a few weeks. What to do. Can I in good conscience quit Latin and put one year of high school Latin on transcript when a chunk was done before my formal 9th grade started? She does well and likes it, but the reason I’m considering calling it quits is that there are no more available study guides for the rest of the book…and the study guides make my life easy. I can see she checks off the boxes and hands in an assignment occasionally. (I don’t have time to learn Latin myself and this is one of those years where I must be hands-off on these electives). I’m afraid that if we continue w/o said study guide she’ll linger and dawdle and I really won’t know any different. Help,
~ Rebecca

Dear Rebecca,

Henle Latin is one high school credit per book/level/year. It doesn’t matter how long or how short a time it takes.

There are two ways to measure a credit
1. counting hours
2. counting books

When you use textbooks, the easiest way to measure credits is to simply count books. That’s what I recommend you do in this situation. Since she started early, you may want to call it “early high school credits” the way that I did my Latin. You can see what that looks like here:

It’s good to have at least SOME of your foreign language taken during high school age, which you are doing this year. General college preparation suggests that 2 years of foreign language is good. Frankly, though, since she likes it, I would strive for the third year. It’s an added plus in college admission!

Don’t be afraid of Latin. She already knows enough Latin to virtually teach herself the rest. I know that to be true, because that’s what we did. I sort of “taught” the first year, I hung on for dear life during second year Latin, and by third year Latin it was…. Well, it was exactly like calculus. I only corrected tests, and it had to look exactly like the answer sheet or I counted it wrong 🙂

I would encourage you to not learn Latin yourself. Have her take the third year of Latin. Your job will be two things:

1. make sure she studies Latin every day for at least 30-60 minutes and
2. correct tests (not daily work)

You don’t have to know it at all. You don’t have to schedule it, because it doesn’t matter how fast it goes for her, just how much she does each day. When she’s done with the third level, put it on the transcript.

If you think she would do far better with a schedule, that’s not so difficult either. I don’t have the textbook in front of me, but you can just take the book and divide it by 32 to determine how much she should do each week. Frankly, that’s why most textbooks have 32 chapters Some will have 16 chapters, and you do a chapter every TWO weeks. That will give you a general sense of “Are we on schedule? Chapter 6 on the 6th week of the school year – yes.”

If she HATED Latin and was older, then my advice might be different. But since she likes it and she is just beginning high school, going for the third year should be relatively painless – as long as you remember that YOU don’t need to learn Latin 🙂

By the way, what if she “fails?” You can always drop the class, and leave it off the transcript as if it never happened. We did that with Latin 4, LOL! You can also try to track down a Latin tutor, just for a supplement later on. You could supplement with, or contact Henle for other options.


By: Lee Binz

Need help homeschooling high school? Lee Binz, The HomeScholar is an expert in homeschool curriculum packages and maintains a website that tackles accredited homeschool where you can get answers to all your questions. You can find Lee online at

Homeschool High School – Math Is Fundamental

High School Math Calculator

High School Math CalculatorMath is a fundamental skill required for college and to attract employers. My friend Don is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Seattle Pacific University. He shares some great insights about the importance of teaching math in high school.

“Math requirements vary by school. You don’t necessarily have to have extra math to get into a college, but you do need it to be well-educated. Upper level math can train your mind. Math is a good discipline, and teaches problem solving in a variety of subjects, beyond math.”
Math is an excellent way to learn real-life skills critical to getting a good job. Employers want problem-solving skills, determination, persistence, and hard work. They want job-seekers who will strive until they solve a problem and get the job done. They want workers who know what it’s like to work hard. These soft skills aren’t taught by teachers, by they can be learned through pursuing math and keeping children challenged with their subjects.

“Societal expectations have a lot to do with math achievement. I met a Japanese student going into business, and he actually apologized for ONLY having two years of calculus. In the US, our math expectations are so much lower than the rest of the world. We project those low expectations onto kids even from the grade school level; telling them that math is so hard and it’s no fun. That promotes a negative view of math. It is a cultural issue that trains children to think ‘I can’t do this.’ The only real solution is a cultural shift in the perception of math.”

Colleges are looking for students that have the best math preparation possible for that student. It doesn’t mean you have to teach calculus to every child, but it does mean they want you to work conscientiously on math every year. Don’t let your own weaknesses in math cause frustration in your children. Not all of us are gourmet cooks, but we can still hand our child a cookbook. Treat math in a matter-of-fact way, without conveying your own anxiety. You can explain that your child needs to learn how to learn math on their own, with great video tutorials, without telling them it’s your anxiety that gets in the way of teaching it yourself.

“Math is fundamental to science and engineering. Right now many of our country’s science and engineering professionals are nearing retirement, yet there are few up-and-coming students able to take those jobs. There are too few people with the math skills necessary to take those jobs. Foreign technical workers are taking those technical jobs, because there are simply too few US students who can do the work. For example, right now there is a deficit of aerospace engineers, and they can’t find people to fill those jobs for defense contracts.”

Because there is a deficit of engineers, and fundamental math skills may be lacking in public school graduates, homeschoolers have the advantage. We can provide the math students need to succeed. Our children can earn grants and scholarships for college based on their math preparation.

“Math is fundamental for all students going into engineering sciences. I have had many students over the years who want to go into engineering but stumble on the math. They may have made good engineers, but they couldn’t take the math. Because this is such a large national problem, the government is working on solutions. Grant money from US government and corporations is promoting science and math curriculum and providing hands-on curriculum for math and science. There needs to be a revolution on how science is taught in grade school and middle school. Portray math as fun and exciting! It can be done!”

Thanks go to Don Peter, M.S., P.E., Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Seattle Pacific University for helping me with this blog post. Don and his wife JoAnn homeschooled their two daughters for many years. Don used Saxon math and multi-sensory games for a supplement. His family used unit studies for science. He made it clear that his children were required to complete science and math study, and even required his girls to complete calculus for high school graduation.

To encourage a love of math in the younger grades, as Don Peter recommends, I used the book Family Math. It is filled with fun math games and activities for grades K-8. We played math games frequently during the week, and my children loved it! In middle school I used the book Family Math for Middle School, and Patty Paper Geometry. In the upper levels, I tried to encourage the love of math using Teaching Company lectures like “Calculus Made Clear” and others.

By: Lee Binz

Need help homeschooling high school? Lee Binz, The HomeScholar is an advocate for homeschool defense and maintains a christian homeschooling blog where you can get answers to all your questions.

Easing The Transition From Public To Home School

http://homeschoolbuildingblocks.comIf you have made the decision to homeschool and part of that decision will involve transitioning your child(ren) out of the public school system, there are some aspects worth considering.

Once your kids begin their educational life outside of the public school, there will be a transition time for them; as there would be a transition time for anyone undergoing change in their life and their routines. If this is about to become your homeschooling scenario you should understand that the time after the public school, yet before you begin homeschooling is a good time to help your child through this period and prepare for their upcoming new educational experience. It’s important to use this time to help your child understand that learning and their education can take place with their home and their family unit.

Even once your homeschooling year begins it’s important to understand that your child will probably still need some time to adjust to the new routine and the new freedoms of education at home. Early on, let your child dip their toe into the water of homeschooling before jumping in. Remember, aside from the teachings, the lessons, and the learning, this will indeed be quite a different environment for your child as opposed the the bells, the crowded halls, and all the noise and distractions they have become accustom to in their previous learning environment. So, some decompression time may well be in order for them.

During this time, don’t worry about setting expectations too high, or feel as though if you don’t get started ‘doing’ something you will soon fall behind schedule. Remember, flexibility and scheduling is one of the great benefits to homeschooling. Relax. Besides, I truly believe you’ll soon find that once you do get into the rhythm of your schedule, you’ll find that with the individual attention that your child receives with each subject, they’ll soon not only make up for any early lost time, but they’ll probably surpass what you even had scheduled initially!

Use the transition or decompression time to talk with your child about what it is that they are really interested in and what they like to learn about and dream about. Talk to them about setting little and longer term goals and how by reaching each little goal one at a time they are on their way to realizing their dream. Let them know that they will be able to learn and study subject matter that they are interested in much greater detail than they have ever been able to before. Get their mind jump started on all the great projects and subject that you will cover with them in your new homeschooling environment. If you do this, you’ll find that your kids will make it through the transition from traditional education to homeschool education excited and energized about these wonderful possibilities to learning.

By: Hong Kirby

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Home School: Propaganda vs Reality VIDEO

Here is an excellent video that shows the contrast between the perception of homeschooling and the reality: homeschoolers are able to excel in academics and life and have several advantages over traditionally-schooled student. Share this with anyone who questions the value of homeschooling.

Should Homeschool Students Show Their Work?

homeschool girl
homeschool girl
Should homeschoolers show their work?

What are you fussing about today? I remember having conflict specifically about “showing your work” in math. Exactly how do you know when it is important? And when is it not important at all?

Ah yes…. showing your work. I hated fighting with my kids about that.

Some will say “always show your work” and others will say “why show work, anyway?” I think we should take a step back and think about it from a different perspective. Your job is not to make her show her work or not. Your job is to make sure she LEARNS, right? Some children will learn best by showing all their work, and others find the work too repetitive or boring, so giving an oral answer makes sense (like we did for elementary level math.) So maybe our best strategy is to make her show as many answers as she needs to in order to learn.

That’s all very well and good, but here is what you might do in concrete terms. If she shows all of her work and gets a 90% or above on her homework, then she is learning her math and has learned how to show her work. Perhaps for the rest of the week she can show her work on just two or three problems. The other problems she can simply right the answer. If she scores less than 90% on that homework, then the following day she has to show all her work again. That will give her an incentive to get the answers correct. It will help her learn to show her work, but also show her that the learning is more important.

If answers don’t match the answer key, don’t assume your child got it wrong. I’ve been proven wrong that way MANY times! Math book answer keys are notorious for getting the answers wrong – in EVERY math curriculum, not just Saxon. Try to track down the Saxon website for updates on their answer key, or corrections. They may have a published list. Make use of their 800 number, and call them if you have a concern.

Again, that’s all very well and good, but how do you handle it in real life? When my child’s answer didn’t match the answer in the answer key, I made *them* call the company and get the explanation (most of the time, anyway.) I was so busy with everything else, I just didn’t have time, so I told me kids it was going to be marked as wrong unless they called the textbook company and got their approval that the answer key was wrong. The only exceptions were when they talked my husband into helping them icon smile Should Homeschool Students Show their Work?

If her answer is right but she found a different path to get the answer, that’s fine. It’s important to know there are options to getting the answer. I would only be concerned when the answer is wrong.

I hope that helps!

By: smanuva123

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, helps parents homeschool for high school and is a leading internet home school resource helping parents homeschool to college. You can find Lee online at and can email her at