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2015 HomeScholar Year in Review

2015 HomeScholar Year in Review

2015 HomeScholar Year in Review

Every month I help parents homeschool though high school, not only through this blog, but also through my monthly newsletter articles. Here are last year's articles for you to ...

Share With Your Homeschool Group!
My online articles are a free service to the homeschool community and can be used by local homeschool groups, so feel free to share with your newsletter editor. My articles may be reprinted without permission if used in full, including the copyright and bio below the article. They just can’t be used in a book or other publication for rent or sale.

Share with Your Friends!
As you look through these articles, feel free to share, post, or pin them! Often you will find printables, infographics, and other resources at the end of my articles.

January is a great time to look back and see all we have learned in the past year together. Join me for this 2015 HomeScholar year in review!


Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for a Successful Homeschool


7 Ways to Encourage Reading in Middle School with Free Printable Reading List

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Common Application Homeschool FAQ Infographic

Common Application Homeschool FAQ Infographic

Common Application Homeschool FAQ Infographic

Common Application FAQ:

How to Answer Those Tricky Questions

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Recent Comments
Hi Leslie, Hi Leslie, They want to know if your homeschooler is part of a homeschool association or diploma program of some sort... Read More
Tuesday, 29 October 2019 23:28
Those kind of ambiguous questions are very stressful, Leslie! You wonder what the implication is for your homeschooling and your f... Read More
Wednesday, 30 October 2019 15:26
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Home Field Advantage: 16 Resources for Homeschooling High School

Home Field Advantage: 16 Resources for Homeschooling High School

Home Field Advantage: 16 Resources for Homeschooling High School

Here are 16 resources for the BIG GAME we call homeschool high school. Read these tips for each step of the way. Each section has an article and resource, if you want some encouragement. Learn how you have the home field advantage as you homeschool through high school.

Tailgate Party = Elementary School

Learn to love learning
True socialization
Article: 6 Ways to Declare Homeschool Independence
Book: How to Homeschool Independently: Do-it-Yourself Secrets to Rekindle the Love of Learning

Pre-game Warmup = Middle School

Learn about high school
Stretch abilities, shore up weaknesses
Article: 7 Ways to Encourage Reading in Middle School
Book: Homeschooling Middle School with Powerful Purpose

1st Quarter = Freshman Year

Cover the core classes
Do not panic
Article: A New Beginning: Homeschooling High School for Freaked Parents
Book: How to Homeschool 9th and 10th Grades

2nd Quarter = Sophomore Year

Add foreign language and electives
Take the PSAT for fun
Article: Teaching Tips for Foreign Language
Book: Delight Directed Learning: Guide Your Homeschooler Toward Passionate Learning

3rd Quarter = Junior Year

Take the PSAT, and SAT or ACT
Attend a college fair and visit colleges
Article: Take the PSAT for Fun and Profit
Book:  Junior Year is the Key to Homeschool Success

4th Quarter = Senior Year

Apply to 4-8 colleges
Write essays, complete the FAFSA
Article: Complete the FAFSA for Fun and Profit
Book:  Senior Year Step by Step

Super Bowl Celebration = Graduation!

Choose a college, plan a party
Provide a transcript and diploma
Article: 15 Point Senior Year Inspection Checklist
Book: Graduate Your Homeschooler in Style: Make Your Homeschool Graduation Memorable

Winning Advice

Provide a college prep education
Create comprehensive homeschool records
Arrange helpful college admission tests
Include delight direct learning
Always be prepared for college or career
Article:  The Best High School Guidance Counselor Is YOU!
Book:  The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships

Read more about your home field advantage in this article! Home Field Advantage - Better Homeschooling through Football.

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You are Not Alone! Homeschool Growth Infographic

You are Not Alone! Homeschool Growth Infographic
Homeschooling is a normal, natural method of education, not some strange or foreign concept. Educating children at home is now a common choice for parents to make. Homeschooling has grown so much since the 70's, and now approximately 3 percent of the school-age population was homeschooled in  2011–12. And since it's growing like crazy, there must be so many more now. So you see? You are NOT alone!

This infographic covers a history of home-schooling beginning in 1977 and discussing trends along the timeline to present. It says that 3.4 percent of school aged children are now homeschooled which has doubled from 1.7 percent in 1999. It illustrates state by state percentages of homes-schooled children, and shows why so many parents have chosen to homeschool. Not surprising, now the most frequent reason being that they are concerned about the environment of schools.

“Home Is Where the School Is: Understanding Homeschooling in the United States”



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From Freaked Out to Scholarship Offers

From Freaked Out to Scholarship Offers
Success! I love it when people write to say THANK YOU and share their successes! I got this awesome note from Jen in Pennsylvania. Read some of her tips, and see what you can glean from her experiences today.

From Freaked Out to Scholarship Offers

I want to thank you for all that you have done for me in my homeschool-mom journey.

I've been a Gold Care Club member for a long time and it has been invaluable to me. I wanted to thank you!  My son is away at college in his second semester of freshman year.  He is doing great and although the course work is rigorous, he is WELL prepared for college.  Many people in my life would question how in the world a homeschooler could get into college.  As I tried not to let those fears creep in, I was introduced to you.  Your services, webinars and conferences as a Gold Care Club member helped me gain the confidence I needed.

When college application time came, I freaked out!  I didn't plan and prepare in advance as well as I should have.  You were the voice of reason, and you guided me towards your Transcript Pajama Party.   My son wrote his essays, and the applications were submitted.  He applied to a handful of schools, a couple of which were definite REACH schools (I'm talking Ivy League). He didn't get into every school he applied to, but he got acceptance letters!  And SCHOLARSHIP offers!!

I mentioned the "reach" schools, because although he did not get in to those, the experiences of applying were fantastic.  He overcame his nerves, he participated in face-to-face as well as phone interviews with these colleges and did SO WELL!  I believe God guided my son right where he was supposed to be, and he is thriving.

So, thank you Lee!  I know The HomeScholar is your business, but honestly, it's like a ministry as well.  You have such a gift and such wisdom to help a frazzled homeschool mom gain the confidence she needs to homeschool high school.  I am not a teacher by trade, and had no clue what I was doing when I started this journey, thank you for helping me!  As I write this email, I have another high schooler that I am homeschooling.  This child is completely different than her brother was in learning style, passions, and all around interests.  I thought I would have it all together by now, but I don't!  I can't wait until I can get my membership going again I need you Lee!!

~ Jen in PA

Want to learn more?
Online services, webinars and conferences: The HomeScholar Gold Care Club
Individual Class: Real Fast College Applications (Online Training)
Paperback Book: The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships

Related articles
Reach, Fit, and Safety Simplified
How to Win a Scholarship Competition and Ace the Admission Interview
Encouraging Delight Directed Learning at the High School Level
A New Beginning: Homeschooling High School for Freaked Parents

If you have a story about college applications, please write and share. I'd love to hear your story!

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Kristine States the Obvious - College Listens

Kristine States the Obvious - College Listens

So many moms are scared and nervous about college admission policies. Don't be! Policies are constantly changing, and that YOU can influence change in the positive direction!  Be a positive force for homeschooling.  Ask the question.  State the obvious.  Colleges WILL listen to you!

Kristine States the Obvious - College Listens

   "Following a college tour today, we met with an admissions counselor to get specific details about their admissions policy for homeschoolers. He told me I needed this, that, and this other thing. I had to tell him that those items are not listed on their website, that we are not required to follow public school requirements, that school districts don't approve our schooling, and that verification from the state do not exist. He went to get clarification, printed out the exact webpage that I've already been following, and then thanked me for educating him. I replied that I was always happy to do that!

So glad this is my second time around, and I wasn't intimidated. And so glad for my friend Lee Binz, The HomeScholar for her advice over the years. Lee, life is easier because of you!" ~ Kristine

Wow! Great example of being kind and firm and proactive!!  Moms, you need to know that it's not that hard to be assertive!

Make the change happen in your college community. By being assertive and asking for change, you can encourage colleges to become more homeschool-friendly. Sometimes clarifying questions will straighten things out. Sometimes explaining that homeschooling is independent of public schooling can help. Sometimes comparing homeschooling to private schooling can help. But almost always, a clear, honest dialog will help.

Simply asking them to check their policy may make a better situation for your child – and for all other homeschoolers as well.



PS. Kristine is actually a friend in real life, that I have known for well over a decade. It was such a thrill to read about her success!

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Ooops! Not Done With Math!

Ooops! Not Done With Math!
What do you do when you just aren't done with math before the year is done? Let me give you a few options, and you can decide which is best for your situation.

One Book In One Year is Impossible

You could measure math credits by counting hours spent on math. Some moms know their child can't complete a whole level each year. For them it makes sense to embrace the way God made your child, and give math credits not by textbook, but by the number of hours worked. In other words, it your young person worked at math for 45 minutes to an hour a day, then give credit for math, 1 credit per year. The title of the class is extra important in this option. You don't imply that your child got farther in the textbook than actually accomplished. To clarify that, you can call the class Algebra 1A, for 1 credit, for a whole year of work, for the first half of the textbook. Then call the class Algebra 1B for 1 credit, for a whole year of work the following year, for the second half of the textbook.

One Book Completed In Random Intervals

You could decide to give credit based on the completion date of each textbook. Some parents know the child is just working on their own time-table, being successful while only slightly slower than the average bear. Sometimes families will do year-round schooling, with math completion dates occurring at random intervals throughout the year. For them, it makes more sense to just give the credit on the month and year when each textbook was completed. So for this situation, math classes on the transcript might look like this:

  • Pre-algebra, 1 credit, completed 06/2014

  • Algebra 1, 1 credit, completed 12/2015

  • Geometry, 1 credit, completed 09/2016

That way is sometimes easier, I think, because there is less to keep track of other than completion dates. This may not be a good choice if a child is FAR behind, while still working hard all day, because they get short-changed for all the work they did just to get 1/2 way through a textbook.

Measure by Semester,  Not by Year

You could decide to embrace the random start and stop time of your homeschool classes. Some parents prefer to give grades each semester, rather than each year, because the timing is just too difficult to figure out when each class begins and ends otherwise. If you do that, then each 1/2 textbook you can enter half the number of usual credits and give a grade. So on the semester system, a math book is still 1 credit, but each semester is 1/2 credit. I to have some transcript templates with semester grades available for you to look at, but templates are usually just by semester or by year. You can still add one class at a time that ends at the semester, if you like. This works well if your child starts and stops many classes at somewhat random intervals. Every 6 months, update the transcript with what was completed in the previous 6 months.

Over-Picky Parents Expecting Perfection

You may need to just lighten up, and your child can complete a math book per year. Other moms are just expecting more than a public school expects. In other words, expecting a child who struggles to complete every single problem in the book, from beginning to end isn't always the best choice. After all, a child only needs enough practice to learn, not all the practice problems that are provided in the universe. And homeschoolers don't need to complete all the chapters in every textbook, either. If you complete 75-80% of the curriculum, then it's done. So maybe Algebra 1 or Geometry will be done sooner than expected.
If you need more help, I have some math articles to encourage you!

9 Ways to Actually Get Math Done This Year
High School Math Without the Moaning

What do you think? Which method would you choose?

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7 Tips for Earning College Credit this Summer

7 Tips for Earning College Credit this Summer
7 Tips for Earning College Credit this Summer
A few summers ago, my children worked for one month and saved our family $56,000.  How did they do it?  By homeschooling college in their spare time!  Not bad for a summer job! You can also save a fortune in college expenses using a few very simple but lesser-known money-saving strategies.

Earning college credit is not just for college kids. Some students earn college credit by homeschooling college while they're still in  high school.  Summer is  a great time to earn college credits. My children homeschooled  college the summer between junior year and senior year, before applying to college.  It helped provide outside documentation of our academic preparation, and it also helped our children get place appropriately in college classes when admitted. They earned all of their college credits through CLEP tests over the summer, and it's something that you can do, too.

Learn 7 Tips for Earning College Credit this Summer!

  1. Assess Knowledge - take a sample test, to see if they can pass.

  2. Study Subject - if they could pass, study to get a better score.

  3. Take Test - take the test for real, when you are sure they'll do well.

  4.  Report Score - have scores sent to the colleges where they'll apply.

  5. Add to Transcript - add test results to the homeschool transcript.

  6. Celebrate Success - we celebrated each success with ice cream!

  7.  Save Money - each success means less money spent for college.

Would you like more information?

Read the longer article: Homeschooling College with CLEP   
Read this short book: How to Homeschool College and Eliminate Debt


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[Free E-book] It Was Worth it! Real Stories to Inspire Your Homeschool Journey

[Free E-book] It Was Worth it! Real Stories to Inspire Your Homeschool Journey

[Free E-book] It Was Worth it! Real Stories to Inspire Your Homeschool Journey

I LOVE FREE BOOKS, and Sonlight Curriculum has published a free online book for you! Would you like some summer encouragement from moms who have been there, and done that? This book is for you!

Ever feel overwhelmed and wonder if homeschooling is worth it? Want reassurance that it’s the right thing to do for your family? It Was Worth It! Real Stories to Inspire Your Homeschool Journey, sponsored by Sonlight Curriculum, is a must-read for parents who want to give their children the best education ever.

Whether you’re a new homeschooler, a veteran or simply homeschool-curious, you’ll learn from and be encouraged by families who’ve gone before you. Get the inside scoop from a host of homeschoolers who accepted the challenge, stayed the course and lived to (joyfully) tell about it!

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What Does Homeschool Freedom Mean to YOU?

What Does Homeschool Freedom Mean to YOU?

What Does Homeschool Freedom Mean to YOU?

What does homeschool freedom mean to you? I'll go first - you chime in!

1. Freedom of Expression

Homeschoolers have the freedom to craft your homeschool to perfectly fit your children, without overreaching governmental interference. As teachers, we can hug and love our children until they grow up and become confident, self-assured adults. It's amazing what a little love can do!

2. Freedom of Religion

We have the freedom to educate our children in a way that is consistent with our faith and beliefs, incorporating our scriptures and religious instruction as we see fit, without being forced to remove God from education. It's awesome to see how incorporating faith into education can improve both faith AND education!

3. Freedom from Fear

Homeschool parents have the freedom to homeschool with confidence. Rest assured you can offer a superior education to your children. You have the freedom to use any tools, support, help, or guidance that you need to homeschool through high school graduation. Banish fear, and declare your homeschool independence!

What homeschool freedoms are you most thankful for?

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Convention Season in Real Life

Convention Season in Real Life

Convention Season in Real Life

Homeschool Conventions are great fun for the whole family!

Most conventions will have some fun activities for families. At the Washington convention, they had a huge chess demonstration, so of course my son came to play. He played blindfolded chess with a national chess master – his former employer at Chess4Life.  In case you needed to know, blindfold chess is when the player can’t see the board, and the moves are spoken aloud. The goal is to remember where all the pieces are moving throughout the entire game. Can you imagine? As usual, my husband was the person most anxious during the game.

Homeschool Conventions Happen During a Busy Time of Year

Convention season is always such a busy season – and this year was even busier for our family! During one Convention, we actually celebrated my son’s graduation from the Masters Program at the University of Washington. YUP! Kevin’s got a Master's Degree in Computer Science now!

We attended his graduation on Friday evening, and I was supposed to speak at 9:00 the following morning – Yikes, it’s so hard for me to stay up late! But it was so worth it! ! I was just glad the convention was close enough so I could attend the event! Funny story about getting a Master’s degree – the gown has a hood that hangs in a funny way, and it looks a little like the back of a dinosaur. Especially with the purple color of the University of Washington,it reminded us a bit of Barney the Purple Dinosaur!

Another convention took place over Father’s Day weekend. While conventions are fun, they are also pretty tiring, but we made a Herculean effort, and celebrated Father’s Day in two different states. First Father’s Day was with my older son and his wife in Oregon. We celebrated with my husband’s extended family at the Sassy Onion in Salem.

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OCEAN Conference Top Notch Encouragement

OCEAN Conference Top Notch Encouragement

 OCEAN Conference Top Notch Encouragement

The OCEAN Conference in Oregon was SUCH an encouragement to me! I loved getting together with like-minded parents, trying their best to homeschool through high school with confidence.  A homeschool conference is an important part of your homeschool year too. Even if you can’t attend one, do something to refresh and encourage yourself during the off-season, so you can start fresh next year.

The first day our winner was Allison, a 9th grader who was talking to me about high school. She is thinking about becoming a nurse, and I’m an RN, so we had a lot to talk about.  She was so thrilled because the beach towel she won looked EXACTLY like her cell phone cover! Same colors, same stripes… it was totally meant to be!

The second day our winner was Jennifer. She stopped by my booth to say she was so thankful for all the free help she received over the years. She said her 12th grader was successful with college admission and scholarships thanks to using all the free resources on my website, and taking my free online classes!

During that weekend, I gave 6 presentations. Would you like to treat yourself to this convention experience?

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Washington State Convention Super Fun!

Washington State Convention Super Fun!

Washington State Convention Super Fun!

The Washington Homeschool Convention was SUPER fun!  Did you go to a homeschool convention this year?

Homeschool conferences are a great investment in your continuing education as a homeschool parent, and I really do encourage you to go to a conference each year.

At the Washington Homeschool Organization Convention, I had the opportunity to meet one of my Gold Care Club members in person! It was awesome to meet Rene!

Our first winner was Carissa, and she was thrilled to win! She is 12-years-old, and has just completed her very first year of homeschooling!  Are you nervous about your first year? This article may help: A New Beginning: Homeschooling High School for Freaked Parents.

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Failing Grades in Online School

Failing Grades in Online School

Failing Grades in Online School

Many parents choose online classes for their students, and from time to time will experience the "crash and burn" of failing grades from these classes. How can you make sure your smart child is represented fairly on the transcript, even if your child has failed some classes?

If your classes are NOT accredited, then the class and grades are essentially like a homeschool co-op, and you are completely in charge of those grades. Their transcript is like a "serving suggestion" or recipe that you can use for informational purposes and modify it at will and is not sent to colleges. They only see what your child submits/does in class, and you are the teacher who sees the full picture. You are the real teacher here, and you can give her the grades she deserves. There are multiple ways of doing this.

  1.     Give a grade for what she knows.

  2.     Give a grade for her hard work.

  3.     Give extra credit so she can boost her grade.

  4.     Repeat the class if necessary, so she can learn what she needs to know.

  5.     Give a subject test to prove her knowledge. (SAT Subject test, for example.)

If your classes ARE accredited, then you have to work within their system to modify those grades. These transcripts must be sent directly to the colleges. You can't change the class titles, grades, or credit values, even if you are putting those classes on your own homeschool transcript.

Homeschool independently for more flexibility. When you homeschool independently, you have all sorts of flexibility to modify curriculum to keep your child challenged but not overwhelmed. When you are not independent, it's possible for kids to fall in over their head. When you homeschool independently, you can change your expectations, adapt assignments, and turn on a dime when facing difficulty.

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How to Successfully Move to a New State While Homeschooling

How to Successfully Move to a New State While Homeschooling
Moving can mean a lot of change, but it can be good change! There are some things you can do to help your child make a smooth transition to a new location.

Moving to a New State

For homeschoolers, finding friends can be a priority. A homeschool co-op might be the best way to find homeschool friends. You can also look for homeschool support groups that have teen activities. Search local activities to see if they have special times for homeschool groups. In our area, there is homeschool skating and homeschool bowling, for example.

Remind your child that they may experience culture shock. Teenagers in your new location may dress and talk differently, and listen to different music. Remind your teenager that it may take her a few months before she feels like she fits in, but that's normal.

Cultural changes can take many forms. The local homeschool co-op may require you to be there the entire time your child is on site, or they may require all parents to babysit infants while your teenager takes classes. The culture of the co-op may be very different from what you are used to.

As you are researching your new environment, make sure you look at the state homeschool information, NOT the state public school information. It's often quite different! This article will help you locate your new state homeschool law: Know Your State Homeschool Law.

As soon as you know you will be moving, try to find a homeschool co-op, and visit them as soon as possible. Many co-ops will register for fall classes early in the spring. To participate, you may need to invest financially in the co-op before you move, to reserve your spot. Be ready, so your child will have fun and be able to make friends. If possible, try to have your child take non-academic, fluffy and fun classes in the group setting. That way there will be little performance anxiety, and they'll have more opportunities to make friends. Plus, you don't really know the academic quality of the co-op before you move. Use it for fun activities, not core subjects, until you can be sure they will offer the best academic preparation for your child.

As you plan your high school classes after the move, keep your homeschool hours reasonable, so your child has time to find and develop friends. For example, it takes so much time to complete an AP class, you may want to forego that opportunity right after a move. During this transition, taking "normal" classes is a great idea. You want to keep your child challenged, not overwhelmed, so they have enough time for socializing in their new home. AP classes could definitely be overwhelming.

You might be surprised by a change in the academic expectations and worldview in your new location. These changes can be shocking at times. One state may have exceptionally high expectations or requirements in high school, and another state may struggle to provide a basic high school education. Expect a change in the state-wide attitude toward education. Without judging others, remember that you are responsible for the education of your own child, to the best of your ability. Don't compare yourself to others, just do your best.

Be prepared for a cultural change in your new homeschool group. Each group may have very different attitudes and rules. In the beginning, dress conservatively when you visit. I know that my Seattle, clothes look radical compared to how women in the south sometimes dress! Especially in the beginning, make sure your children don't show the belly button, tattoos, or body piercings until you are comfortable with the local group norms. It's not a good time to color hair purple, either! You want your child to see the group norms first, with nothing standing in the way of their friendship with others.

And just between you and me, save some money for a wardrobe upgrade about a month after you move. This may be most important for girls, I suppose, but teens may want to wear the same style of clothes as their new friends.

Have you moved while homeschooling high school? What advice can you share that would help others?

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