Homeschooling Teens - SAT or ACT? Which is better for homeschoolers

>>>>One mother asked if it was better homeschoolers to take the SAT or the ACT.<<<<
I have read that the SAT is more commonly given on the coasts, and the ACT is more commonly given in the center of the country. For that reason, both tests are accepted at colleges (every college I've ever spoken to HAVE accepted both.) One of the great benefits of homeschooling is that we can choose which test is right for OUR student, and they don't have to take the same test as their age-mates in school. I always recommend that students take a sample test in both and see which one they score best at, and then study for THAT test. They can raise their score more that way - and it can mean saving many thousands of dollars every year on tuition. I read a statistic that said 30% of kids score better on the SAT, 30% score better on the ACT, and 30% score the same on both tests. I found a link from Kaplan, that compares both tests for you. It also mentions that both tests are accepted by colleges:
http://www.kaptest.com/Kaplan/Article/College/SAT/Learn-About-the-SAT/CO_satact.html

I have heard that some colleges require the "optional essay" from the ACT. I would encourage her to use the test she scores better on - the SAT - but also make sure she does the essay on the exam. Some homeschoolers do have "just mommy grades" and do well. For those people, colleges use their SAT and ACT scores as external documentation of learning. If you have distance learning classes AND test scores AND homeschool grades, then you're doing more than enough. In my opinion, she will not be at a disadvantage at all. In fact, she will have the advantage! Way to go, Mom!

Blessings,
Lee

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Homeschooling College - One great way to evaluate a college

<<< This mother was asking how to find a good college for her daughter that wants a PhD in Biology. She was asking for a school in New Jersey, and I don't know the schools in that area. I was able to give her some general advice, though. >>>

If you are asking about undergraduate schools, make sure you compare their graduate school admission rates. One local school has a medical or law school admission rate of 100%. (Seattle Pacific University - but I can't remember if that's their medical or law school statistic.) Once you find a school you are interested in, then find that statistic in a college comparison book (US News and World Report has one, but so does Peterson's, and Kaplan. You can usually find them in the library reference section.) The graduate school admission rate can imply how well students are prepared academically in general, can suggest how well the are advised by academic advisers, and may tell you how much help they get in applying for graduate schools.


Blessings,
Lee
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Homeschooling Curriculum - Is there such a thing as too much homeschooling?

A homeschool parents asked me how much is TOO much. Here is our email conversation.

>>> Here's her schedule, tell me what would you do? At co-op she takes volleyball, speech, creative writing, newsletter, Peacemakers (the teacher is going through the book sort of like a Bible Study). She has a speech due at least every 2 weeks and for creative writing she is working on a novel and she has to critique everyone else's writing every week. She has to turn in all her revisions every week to her creative writing teacher. This is very time consuming, but she loves it a lot.>>>>>

My Response: PE is important, but speech, creative writing, and newsletter are all 3 basically an English credit. English credits that are requiring a lot of work. It's OK to have too many of one kind of high school credit (good in fact) but it has to be balanced with the need for other subjects.

>>>> Tuesday: Community college: she leaves the house about 10:30 am and returns home about 1:00 pm. She is taking Spanish there 2 days a week.<<<

Spanish is good, and colleges usually require 2-3 years of foreign language. But community colleges pack one year of high school foreign language into just 4-5 months of school! That makes it three times as much work as a high school class. Again, that's do-able, but you have to make sure she balances that with her other subjects.

>>>>> Wednesday: Volunteer work: She works with a local ministry which does after-school kids clubs. This group is so awesome, they go into the public schools and reach out to the kids with the gospel. <<<<

Being a group leader is huge. Doing volunteer work is huge. Plus if she likes it and can continue with it, that will be great. That sounds like a great area of specialization for her.

>>> In addition to the classes she takes at co-op and cc, she is doing SL400, Civics, plus their literature and Bible programs. There are a LOT of writing assignments involved with SL and I am trying to only assign one or two a week, but she isn't even getting those done>>>>

I would eliminate all writing from all components of the Sonlight program. One year Alex asked for SL 10 for Christmas, and I gave it to him, and he read it for fun. (Passed a CLEP exam even!) You don't have to do all the assignments, just take what works from it. She is obviously getting enough writing elsewhere. Does she enjoy the reading? IF so, I would just have her read, and maybe speak to you for a few minutes about the book she reads. Because her program is so thick with writing already, you might even consider eliminating some of the reading material in the SL program. The only thing she "needs" from that Sonlight is the Civics. All the English and Bible are repeats.

>>>She is also doing Apologia's Human Anatomy and Physiology course, but she is so far behind it's ridiculous. I don't even feel I can give her a credit for it at this point.<<<

If she wants to go to college, she will probably need 3 sciences. Give her credit for it when she does get done. You could suggest that she does that on her Wednesday or Thursday morning, first thing, and you supervise that. Her strength is obviously English, so this is the part where you need to invest your energy: the science, math, and civics.

>>>> She is doing Geometry when she feels like it and she is supposed to be studying for the SAT.<<<

What are her career and college goals? Does she realize she needs math? Again, I would have her do math every day when she is at home, again, first thing in the morning. Perhaps a "can't leave until it's done" attitude. That's hard with teens, though, I know!

I would completely drop the SAT prep. You're just hitting your head against the wall at this point.

>>>> Oh, and I forgot to mention she's on the student council for our hs co-op. This requires about one meeting a month or so plus she is the PR person. I haven't seen her spending a whole lot of time here, so it isn't really a huge concern compared to everything else at this point.>>>>

Leadership is a big deal to colleges, and it seems like this is her area of specialization. One of them :-)

>>>> As if all of this isn't enough, she works part time at an ice cream shoppe. She cut her hours back to about 10 a week, and she needs (we need) the money. She has to pay for her car insurance, and she is trying to put away at least a little money for college.<<<

Jobs are good, and can make a kid more efficient in their school work. Ten hours a week seems reasonable, but if she were my daughter I would absolutely insist on math and science (since she's doing all the other subjects) every week.

>>>>>I know she has too many classes to keep up with. <<<<

She does. It is not humanely possible. Add up her hours that you're expecting from each class, and I'm betting you're up to about a 60-80 hour week. Not possible.

I think that when kids get older, we have to let them make choices. Basically she has chosen her English credits, job, leadership, volunteerism, and foreign language, and that's GREAT. You need to somehow get her to choose math and science, in order to complete the package. Try to tie those in to how she plans on achieving her goals
for college and life. If she were my daughter, the few days when she was at home in the morning, I would do the science WITH her, and make her do the math before leaving home (or she couldn't go out at night until she was done.)

>>>> UGH! I could go on and on. But this is already too long. I could really use some advice from those of you who are or have homeschooled teens. Do I need to insist my dd let some things go?
> Thanks for listening!<<<<<

Hang on! Those teens can make you nuts! She's trying to make her own choices, and it sounds like it general they are good choices. She just needs to find a balance in her subjects - especially math and science, since the others are getting done.

I hope that helps at least a little bit!
Blessings,
Lee

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Homeschooling - What to do about a critical husband

>>>>This woman wanted suggestions on how to respond to her husband, who was critical of her homeschool. It seemed that he was complaining that she wasn't doing enough, even though she was working 4-5 hours per day on school with her elementary age students.<<<<



Hi Becky,
I'm sorry! This is a difficult situation. It's a rough one for a committed Mom.

What if you asked your husband what he WANTS you to do for homeschool. What if he indicated what subjects he wanted covered, etc? Another idea might be to go with a curriculum like Sonlight, that has all the checklists, so he can see some progress. Then again, you mentioned Read Alouds, so maybe you are already doing that... OR you could just make your own schedule, and fill in all the little squares like they do in Sonlight instructor's guides. Then ask your husband BEFORE the week starts "This is what we are planning to do. Would you like me to add or change anything?" I'm suggested this because he may not be aware of what you do all day unless he asks. But if you tell him FIRST, then perhaps he'll feel on top of things, and won't be as
negative about it when he asks.

Just thinking out loud here. I hope it helps!
Blessings,
Lee
--
The HomeScholar
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Homeschooling Younger Children - Keeping your kids up on current events

My kids are 10 and 12. I get the God's World News, and have them read it and answer the questions on the TM sheet. This is also my only work on reading comprehension, as I always forget narration. That is why I like using God's World. It gives them a little practice with multiple choice quizzes. If there is a story we are following (like now we are following the convention) I will call them into the room when the story is on the news. Otherwise, I don't let them watch the news. It is too overwhelming to them to see all the crime stories, if you know what I mean. I also have them read certain stories from the newspaper. I will ask them "What section would the hurricane be in?" so that they can learn their way around the paper. If there is a lot of disgusting news, child rapists or whatever, and I still want them to see an article, I will use a highlighter to circle the article, and tell them to read that one.


Blessings,
Lee (August 2000)

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Homeschool Transcripts - What about Narrative Transcripts?

>>>>Catherine asks: How important is it to have a typical looking transcript with grades and a GPA vs a more narrative type of transcript or even one with courses listed but no grades, since our goal is mastery and so they'd all just be A's anyway?<<<<

Hi Catherine,
Maybe you could try to think about it a little differently. Think of yourself as a foreign language translator. Your job is to translate what you have done in your homeschool, into words and numbers that colleges understand. Your job isn't to change your homeschool - just do what works for you. You job is only to translate your experiences (whatever they are) into the "love language" of colleges.

I know that some colleges don't mind a narrative explanation of a homeschool. I went to a Christian college fair last Monday, and there were a handful of colleges where 15-20% of their student body had been homeschooled. Those admissions people talked about narrative records in a very warm and open way. This weekend I'm going to a Homeschool College Fair, and I'm sure it will be equally welcoming to all sorts of homeschool records (otherwise they probably wouldn't be at a fair just for homeschoolers, right?) But I think the majority of colleges may not understand anything other than a transcript because it will seem like a foreign language to them.

You might want to just group your student's learning experiences together into groups that are approximately 1 credit worth. Label it something that sounds like a class title. Once he has put in a year's worth of math work, for example, you could call it "discrete math" or "concepts in math" or something. You could look at CLEP exams, and see which ones look like academic content that your student has learned, and then list those subject names on your transcript. Have you looked at Barb Shelton's Homeschool Form-U-La book? Her book is not for everyone, but she does have a good explanation of how to take what you have done and explaining it in college-friendly language.

I hope that helps.
Blessings,
Lee

PS.  You might want to explore the different types of transcripts you can create that will impress the colleges.  Check out my Total Transcript Solution!

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Homeschooling Resources - Pre-Calculus Question Part 1

A friend of mine was having a problem with her daughter taking pre-calculus. After doing well on the first test, she had failed the second. She thought it might be the curriculum and was looking for advice on what to do.

I responded:

A wise woman once said: "When it doesn't work, stop using it." Time to switch, if you ask me. First thing I suggest is going online to The Teaching Company, and getting a video of either Algebra 2 here:
http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=102&pc=Science%20and%20Mathematics

Or calculus here:
http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=177&pc=Science%20and%20Mathematics

The next thing that I would do is purchase Teaching Textbooks, because it provides another way of explaining things. That same wise woman once said "Invest in your weaknesses" which right now is pre-calculus. The final thing I would do is ask your English speaking friends who are engineers if they can help. Please, tell me you have some friends that are engineers, right?? Ask them to spend a few moments just on this chapter, while you are waiting for the remaining curriculum to arrive. If that doesn't work, you can try googling "Math Tutor" and see if you can make a phone call over the internet to an english speaking tutor. Try Collegeboard.org, or "High School Hub" or even Teaching Textbooks (once you order from them.)

No matter what, do NOT panic. Pre-calculus IS hard, and it's worth the struggle. Once you have done this, you can do anything! This struggle will one day make a marvelous college application essay. And you know, Pre-calculus is already a VERY impressive accomplishment, so pursuing more will be "gravy"!! Keep at it, don't panic. You can do it! Go team Go!
Blessings,
Lee


--
The HomeScholar
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www.TheHomeScholar.blogspot.com
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Homeschooling Resources - Pre-Calculus Question Part 2

My friend developed a plan and I wanted to encourage her to implement it.

I wrote:

Do you remember when the kids were babies, and things would get really hard and miserable? One thing that helped me at THAT stage of life, was realizing that those things only tend to last for a week or two. I was never sure whether it was me adapting to them, or them adapting to me, but after two weeks the thing that freaked me out wasn't freaking me anymore.

It's like that will high school, too. In two weeks, this crisis will be over. Somehow, someway, it will have gotten better (not perfect perhaps, but no longer a crisis.) So hang in there! Maybe in two weeks, you will have moved to the next crisis, LOL!

You have some great, concrete, specific steps that you are working on. You have as many resources as anyone here in the states (SOME math help, not perfect math help, is really the norm.) You have a great, step-by-step plan. This is going to be OK. You are doing a great job!

// ![DATA[
D(["mb","because you love your daughter.\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>I wish I could help, but I personally don\'t know pre-calculus :-)\u003cbr /\>Blessings,\u003cbr /\>Lee\u003cbr /\>-\u003cbr /\>The HomeScholar\u003cbr /\>\u003ca onclick\u003d\"return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)\" href\u003d\"http://www.TheHomeScholar.com\" target\u003d_blank\>www.TheHomeScholar.com\u003c/a\>\u003cbr /\>\u003ca onclick\u003d\"return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)\" href\u003d\"http://www.TheHomeScholar.blogspot.com\" target\u003d_blank\>www.TheHomeScholar.blogspot\u003cwbr /\>.com\u003c/a\>\u003cbr /\>"Helping parents homeschool through high school"\u003cbr /\>Sign up for my free email newsletter!\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>--- In \u003ca onclick\u003d\"return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)\" href\u003d\"mailto:Support4HomeSchool@yahoogroups.com\"\>Support4HomeSchool@yahoogroups\u003cwbr /\>.com\u003c/a\>, "RENEE GARDINER"\u003cbr /\> wrote:\u003cbr /\>>\u003cbr /\>> Lee,\u003cbr /\>>\u003cbr /\>> I can\'t find a student assistance phone number in the Thinkwell\u003cbr /\>materials.\u003cbr /\>>\u003cbr /\>> After the appropriate freaking out and panicing, here is what dd\u003cbr /\>and I are\u003cbr /\>> doing:\u003cbr /\>>\u003cbr /\>> 1. Madeleine is taking the chapter tests from Teaching Textbook\u003cbr /\>Algebra II\u003cbr /\>> (her db is using it this year) to see if there are gaps in her\u003cbr /\>knowledge (we\u003cbr /\>> have concerns because the international school doesn\'t do math like\u003cbr /\>the US).\u003cbr /\>> When she hits a roadblock, she\'ll sit down with that program and\u003cbr /\>learn......\u003cbr /\>> then continue moving forward.\u003cbr /\>>\u003cbr /\>> 2. In addition, we are checking with our neighbor (he taught a math\u003cbr /\>class to\u003cbr /\>> soldiers this past term) to see what Math levels he teaches. I do\u003cbr /\>know he\'ll\u003cbr /\>> be gone for two weeks in November but maybe we can get through this\u003cbr /\>> roadblock before then.\u003cbr /\>>\u003cbr /\>> 3. Then I\'m debating between (I wish dh would give me his opinion) - a)\u003cbr /\>> buying PreCalculus study aids (I\'ve seen some books on Amazon), b)\u003cbr /\>buying\u003cbr /\>> the dvds you recommended, and/or c) buying Teaching Textbook\u003cbr /\>",1] );
// ]]>I hear Bill Cosby on Oprah the other day, and he said something I loved. He said that parents are "love-givers" not "care-givers" and that it's the LOVE that makes a difference. Here your daughter is at home, learning pre-calculus, and you really are invested in whether or not she knows the material because you LOVE her. She isn't just forced to move on to the next topic, but you're finding resources to help her understand. That, my friend, is why I never hesitate to give a 4.0 in a homeschool high school class. But really, if she were in ANY other learning environment, she would be moved forward in math whether she understood it or not. YOU are doing a GREAT job, because you love your daughter.

I wish I could help, but I personally don't know pre-calculus :-)

Blessings,
Lee
-
The HomeScholar


www.TheHomeScholar.com
www.TheHomeScholar.blogspot.com
"Helping parents homeschool through high school"
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Homeschool Records - The best record keeping ever!

My client this week uses the best record keeping I've ever seen! She had her daughter keep a computer log of every moment she spent in every class. The excel spreadsheet for English has a line that says: 11/3/06 read "The Giver" 75 minutes, for example. Her "Voice" spreadsheet says how many minutes she spent each day practicing vocal techniques and taking lessons. She has spreadsheets for ever single course, and has the minutes spent on each one per day. This is incredible! Pages and pages of documentation! I've never seen anything so wonderful, and it was SO easy for me to write her Comprehensive Record using the 50 or more pages of data that she gave me. Oh my goodness!

I have to confess, though, that I could have NEVER talked my boys into doing that. I remember trying, but they would do it once and then "forget" from then on. Maybe this is just a strategy that works for just this client, but I have to say she wins the prize for the best kept records!

Whatever strategy WORKS for you, is the one that's best for you to use. Whatever works, do it! Just make sure to keep records SOMEHOW, so that you can create the documents you need when you are applying to colleges. Keep it all!

Blessings,
Lee

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Home School Education - Homeschooling Grandmothers Unite!

Joyce in Maine wrote to me today:

"Thank you!! we are late to homeschooling. I am a grandparent of an 11th grader who is now raising her. Our decision to home was just made this week and we are doing ok, but floundering around at times. My daughter (her aunt) homeschools her kids and has been an enormous help. I have found your letter to have some really great stuff in it. We want her to go to college but she is so much happier doing this at home and I can use all the help I can get. great newsletter, thanks so much"

It reminded me of how many homeschooling grandmothers I met at the last homeschool convention. Here is my response to her:

"Dear Joyce,
You are so welcome! Boy, I'm seeing more and more grandparents homeschooling these days. Schools are just SO different than they used to be! I'm really proud of you for taking on such a big job. I must say, I've seen grandparents be EXTREMELY successful when the teen is willing and eager to stay home. If you ever feel like you are in over your head, my DVD is a nice overview. It's intended for homeschoolers with 9th and 10th graders, but since you are just starting, it would be perfect.
Have a great day!
Blessings,
Lee"

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Home School Education - Need Help Finding a College?

It's hard to have a high school Junior! Even when they want to go to college, they sometimes lack motivation to research the possibilities. There is a new website designed to help. Seattle PI reporter Amy Rolph writes "A new Web site was introduced with the intended purpose of making it easier for the next class of freshmen to pick the right college." Read her article here, or go directly to the U-CAN website and see if it can help you find a college. Hopefully your high school student will enjoy using the computer to search for colleges. Remember that there are also college fairs to help you choose - and many of them are this month!
Pacific Northwest Homeschool College Fair
National College Fair
Christian College Fair
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Homeschool Calendar Reminders

Freshmen - 9th Grade:
Plan a rigorous curriculum, and don't skimp on math. Here is an example of a typical course of study. Adjust it to meet your needs.


Sophomores - 10th Grade:
Take the PSAT "for fun" in October. Take a sample SAT and ACT test, and see which one you prefer. Learn how to write a 25-minute essay.


Juniors - 11th Grade:
Take the PSAT "for real" in October. You will be asked to list your favorite college. Go to college fairs, and decide on a long list of colleges you want to visit.


Seniors - 12th Grade:
Start college applications! They take a LONG time and a lot of effort, and sometimes scholarship money is "first come, first served." Take the ACT or SAT if you haven't yet, or if you can significantly raise your score by taking it again.


Homeschool Parents:
During the PSAT, students will be asked about their classes and grades, so you may want to explain that to them. It also asks about college majors and career interests. Colleges use that to contact students they want to attract.

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Homeschool Grading in the News!



College Student

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Homeschool Records - How to Determine Homeschool Credits

This question comes from Jurene in Spokane, who purchased a transcript last year, and now is planning to create a music appreciation course with the Symphony:


"Dear Lee,
This is where I need your insight. I know we talked much about how much time Ellen spent on different subjects to justify awarding a credit. If you could simply give me a yardstick of sorts. How much time would warrant a credit or a partial credit."

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Homeschool Transcript - Strap on Your Auxiliary Brain!

Kevin playing chess


My son Kevin is a chess genius. When he was in high school, he was ranked second in state even though he never had a chess coach like the other kids. Instead of a coach, my husband purchased a high-powered chess program for his Palm Pilot, and he would play Kevin while using the chess program. We used to tease my husband that he was "strapping on his auxiliary brain" when he played with the chess computer in his hand.

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