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NEW Kindle Book: Homeschooling Middle School with Powerful Purpose

NEW Kindle Book: Homeschooling Middle School with Powerful Purpose

NEW Kindle Book: Homeschooling Middle School with Powerful Purpose

Middle school is a time when homeschool parents often get frightened and quit. But now is no time to panic! Middle school can be the sweetest, most rewarding time to homeschool! Learn strategies for gently guiding your preteen through the physical, intellectual, and social changes that come with this age. You will be able to reconnect with your child and be encouraged and energized to prepare them for high school and beyond.

Middle school doesn't have to be the train wreck you remember or have seen depicted on TV! Homeschool parents can shape and mold children through the middle school years, even during bursts of hormonally charged awkwardness. You can ensure your child learns appropriate behavior in the safety of your own home. This book will give you practical strategies to handle preteen academic and emotional challenges.

As a book in my Coffee Break Book Series, it is designed especially for parents who don’t want to spend hours and hours reading a 400-page book on homeschooling high school, each book combines Lee's practical and friendly approach with detailed, but easy-to-digest information, perfect to read over a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop!

Never overwhelming, always accessible and manageable, each book in the series will give parents the tools they need to tackle the tasks of homeschooling high school, one warm sip at a time.

Download Homeschooling Middle School with Powerful Purpose for FREE 11/23-11/27!

Please take a moment to download Homeschooling Middle School with Powerful Purpose for free, through November 27!  It's a short read with simple strategies to help you homeschool your middle school student!

When you are done with the book, please leave a review on Amazon too!  We really count on your reviews - thank you so much for taking a moment to let me know what you think of this new book.

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Test Preparation in Middle School

Test Preparation in Middle School


Test Preparation in Middle School

What do you do to prepare for the SAT and ACT when your child is in middle school? Read these 7 ways to effectively prepare for the SAT and ACT before high school.

The best test prep in middle school is making sure you do a good job with reading, writing, penmanship, and math. Also, providing practice with fill in the bubble tests can ensure that they will be successful on standardized tests.  While things like critical thinking and logic are generally nice to have, they are not specific for test preparation.

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Calendar Reminders for Summer

Calendar Reminders for Summer

Some of my Gold Care Club members want me to give them direction and ask me regularly, "What should I be doing right now?" Well, here are my calendar reminders for summer suggestions for what you can all be doing all summer long.


Fill summer with Delight Directed Learning, and provide time for kids to pursue their own interests.  It's the best thing that you can do to prepare them for college - and life! Learn more: Encouraging Delight Directed Learning at the High School Level

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How Do I Show 8th Grade Classes on a High School Transcript?

How Do I Show 8th Grade Classes on a High School Transcript?

I get this question a lot: My daughter is in 8th grade and has completed a couple of High school courses this year.  How should I show it on her transcript?

If your child hasn't started high school yet, he or she can still earn high school credit. If she has done Algebra 1 or higher, high school biology or higher, or high school foreign language, then it does go on the transcript. Here's how.

Curious about what type of transcripts can win $187,000 in scholarships? Click to see: The HomeScholar Record Keeping Samples
If you arrange your transcript by year

Create a new transcript section called "Early High School Credits" and place middle school credits there. You can see an example here: Sample Homeschool Transcript by Year

If you arrange your transcript by subject

Add classes to the transcript as you normally would, and include a completion date, without indicating the grade your child was in at the time. That is enough to show it was done in middle school. You can see an example here: Sample Homeschool Transcript by Subject

Need more information?

If you want to know more about earning high school credits in middle school, I have some great free resources. This blog post explains more: Early High School Credits Earned in Middle School. This free class on grades, credits and transcripts will give you even more detailed information: A Homeschool Parent's Guide to High School Grades, Credits, and Transcripts.

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How to Encourage Reading with Teens

How to Encourage Reading with Teens

Encourage Reading with Teens

Are you having trouble encouraging your middle school or high school child to read? It can be so difficult to find suitable books for a pre-teen or teenager! Never fear; you CAN encourage reading with teens! Let me help with ideas and free resources for you.

Make Reading Fun

Encourage fun by using real, quality literature. If you're having trouble finding suitable books, you might like my handy Printable Middle School Reading List PDF to help you get started. For older teens, or more advance readings, click here for a Printable College Bound Reading List.

Kids won't like reading if they only read school books, so make reading FUN in your homeschool! Create a reading-friendly atmosphere, and allow alternatives to formal literary analysis. Reading for pleasure is an important skill too, and not every book needs to be dissected under a microscope. For more ideas, check out 7 Ways to Encourage Reading in Middle School for some tips for young teens.

It's important to encourage reading, but that doesn't mean you need to read only literary fiction. You can include (classic) literature reading, historical reading, and reading just for fun. Especially when you use a literature-based curriculum, the boundaries between books for English class, books for history, and reading for fun can get blurry. Check out my post, Literature-based Curriculum on the Reading List: Venn Diagram for examples of how books can overlap in multiple subject areas.

For Reluctant Readers

For reluctant readers or auditory learners, audio books can be a big help as well, and can give Mom a break from reading aloud. Here are 20 Popular High School Books Available as Free eBooks & Audio Books for you to download.

What are your favorite tips to encourage reading? Which books are a big hit with your middle schooler? Please share!

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Prepare Your Child for High School

Prepare Your Child for High School
I help prepare parents to homeschool high school all the time. I tell them to "read books, attend conferences, watch instructional videos and invest in yourself and your chosen profession." Parents also want to know the other side of the equation. How do you prepare your child for high school?

Prepare Your Child for High School

I have great news. The way you prepare your child for high school is the same way you prepare them for success in life.   Teach them to confidently read, write, and do math quickly and accurately. Do what it takes for them to develop good study habits and work ethic.

Teach them to be independent, so they can eventually self-teach. At the same time, they will need to respect your leadership so they will complete assignments you give them.   Teach them honesty, so they don't try to cheat or mislead you as they work independently. Keep their work in elementary school challenging, so they know what it is like to LEARN instead of KNOW new material. Make sure the work isn't overwhelmingly difficult, so they don't learn to hate school.  In elementary and middle school, teach your child how to pace themselves and their work, so they don't suffer from burnout. Having a schedule may help, but others achieve that goal by limiting the time allotted for each homeschool task. Have your child help around the house, and make sure they know they are family members as well as students.

Spend time in elementary and middle school working through issues that arise. Parenting doesn't get easier as children get older! Face  problems head-on, working through them as they come up, so high school will go more smoothly.

Enjoy homeschooling in elementary and middle school as your prepare your child for high school!

How are you planning to prepare your child for high school? What are you most worried about? Please share!

Please note: This post was originally published in October 2010 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The HomeScholar Gold Care Club will give you the comprehensive help you need to homeschool high school.
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Early High School Credits Earned in Middle School

Early High School Credits Earned in Middle School

If you are sure your child is doing high school level work in an academic subject area like math, science, or foreign language in middle school, put that on your transcript and earn early high school credits!

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Recent Comments
Lee Binz
Yes, absolutely! Just call it "Algebra 1 with Integrated Geometry" and put that under "Early High School Credits" on your transcri... Read More
Tuesday, 24 July 2018 22:12
Lee Binz
Hi Shelly, Thanks for asking that question! When a child is high school age, ALL classes are counted on the transcript. After all,... Read More
Thursday, 02 January 2020 17:10
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Junior High is Training Time for Parents

Junior High is Training Time for Parents

Junior High is Training Time for Parents

Junior High is a great time for both homeschool parents and their students to get ready to homeschool high school! During 6th, 7th and 8th grade, parents should be spending time learning how to homeschool high school. Take classes on homeschooling high school at a convention or online convention, read books on how to homeschool high school, and visit the College Board website to check out their college prep plan.

In addition to this preparation, junior high is the time to practice your record-keeping skills. You can practice making your transcript, record-keeping, and writing course descriptions. This will prevent you from panicking when you get to high school!

Junior high has a purpose for students, too. Allow them to do remedial work where they need it. If they are below grade level in math, for instance, junior high is the time for them to focus on math and get up to grade level again. Children who are ahead of grade level can move straight into high school level work. A student might need remedial work in some areas and advanced in others, so both of these situations might apply to the same student.

The good news about junior high is that it’s absolutely impossible for you to be behind. If your child is below grade level and they’re in 7th and 8th grade, then the purpose of 7th and 8th grade is to get them up to grade level again. You haven’t done anything wrong and you’re just exactly where you should be.

If you’re ready to go beyond the basics of junior high, one of the things you can do is plan your high school courses. Get a rough draft started, including English, math, science, and social studies each year, and consider beginning a foreign language. This is also a great time for your kids to begin establishing good study skills so they understand what will be required in high school.

Lastly, junior high is a good time to investigate college financing. Learn about the different investment plans that are available, try to start setting money aside now, and estimate the financial aid you might receive. Use the FAFSA forecaster, at, which will help you estimate how much financial aid colleges might give you. Prepare now for high school and those years will be so much easier!

Please note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Learn how to homeschool with complete confidence using my DVD, Preparing to Homeschool High School.  

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Is Saxon Math Good for Teaching Geometry?

Is Saxon Math Good for Teaching Geometry?
I am often asked about a particular homeschool curriculum. Sandy had a great question about Saxon geometry...
We recently watched your Preparing to Homeschool High School videos in our homeschool group. They were great! I have a question about Saxon Math. My 10th grader is taking Advanced Math and has already completed Algebra 1 and 2. Do you have an opinion about Saxon and the way geometry is included? Would you suggest another route? My eighth grader has completed Algebra 1 and now in 2. I have 4 others coming along after these two so I'm wondering if this is the best route.

Plan your high school courses with confidence! Download my free ebook: The 10 Essentials for Homeschooling High School
This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy I may make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.

I think Saxon does a fine job with math, as long as the student tolerates it. My nephew is a high school calculus instructor, and he is a HUGE fan of Saxon math. The problem with teenagers is that you have to match their learning style AND their preferences. We may know their learning style, but only the teen really knows their own preferences. Check out High School Math Without the Moaning: How to Teach High School Math at Home and consider having your children look at another curriculum if they get stuck or frustrated or say they "hate" math. Be aware that all of your children *may* end up liking a different curriculum.

Saxon now has two different options. Their third or "Classic" edition incorporates geometry throughout the curriculum, but it isn't until Advanced Math that they get the bulk of geometry that is included in the SAT test. Advanced Math has a lot of geometry in it and the book states that it may take over a year to complete. Since your child is already taking Advanced Math, he should be ready to take the SAT in the spring of next year. We used Jacobs for Geometry in our homeschool, which is another wonderful program. It wasn't until I let my son choose the math curriculum that we switched to Saxon. Because my children had completed a separate geometry course, we were able to follow it up with Advanced Math as a pre-calculus course that only took one year. The other option is to use the Fourth editions of the texts, which includes a stand-alone Saxon Geometry textbook, with the geometry taken out of the fourth edition Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 texts.

It sounds like all of your children are VERY far ahead in math; good job following their lead! Include Algebra courses on their high school transcript, even if they are completed in middle school.  If you are looking for a supplement for geometry, because you're a family that loves math, take a look at Patty Paper Geometry. I loved having hands-on experiences for geometry proofs. It's NOT necessary at all, but it's a fun activity book for high school geometry that math nerds often enjoy. Our favorite supplement toward the end of the Saxon Math series was the Teaching Company Course called Calculus Made Clear. It prepared my children to handle calculus with understanding.

Please note: This post was originally published in August 2009 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Do you enjoy our monthly newsletter, The HomeScholar Record? If so, please consider writing a brief homeschool newsletter review here, so others can find it. Thanks!
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Feeling Freaked Out or Anxious

Feeling Freaked Out or Anxious
Feeling Freaked Out or Anxious About the Coming Year? 

The hardest part about homeschooling is when you are faced with something new.  The first time you had to teach a child to write in cursive, or mulitply, for example, it was pretty intimidating. If you are feeling stressed about the coming year, chances are you are faced with something new.  These are my "OH MY GOODNESS I'M PANICKING!" articles that I hope will talk you down from the ledges!

Taming Middle School Anxiety

Read this article for some suggestions for homeschool parents on how they can gain a healthy perspective about middle school education and prepare their children for their high school years.

Read the article and tame your fears!

Homeschooling High School for Freaked Out and Terrified Parents

My biggest fans are parents who live in "the real world" of real stress. They range from slightly terrified to freaked out! They often feel overwhelmed by details, and crave simplicity. They need minimal information in order to retain their sanity. If given too much information, they become immobilized with fear. Some even panic and bail out of homeschooling. For freaked out and terrified parents, let me explain high school in the simplest terms so you can enter the next stage confidently.

Read the article and calm your nerves!

Stay CalmMy goal is to convince you that you will WIN this battle over fear and become a confident parent of your homeschooled teen!  Please remember to relax and have fun, too!  Don't work yourself and your students to the point of frustration.  Regular breaks may help you to get more done in the long run - AND preserve your sanity.

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Teaching Teens to Sleep is Important

Teaching Teens to Sleep is Important
Is Sleep the Only Reason Homeschool Kids are Healthier & Happier?

Recently I read an article Homeschoolers Are Healthier and Happier Than Public or Private School Students about sleep and success in high school.

It stated that homeschooled students are healthier and happier, due in large part to the fact that they get more sleep than their schooled peers.  It reminded me of when my children were toddlers, and how difficult it was to convince them to sleep.  Now again with teenagers?  We need to convince them to sleep too!

After reading the article, I decided to ask my Facebook friends, “Do you think more sleep is the ONLY reason homeschool kids might be healthier and happier?” My facebook friends were eager to share their opinions, and I’ve compiled their responses here.  Most people concur that sleep is just one of the major factors that contributes to homeschoolers’ success.  Other factors people cited were healthy eating, good family relationships, and more relaxed schedules.  Here’s a sampling of the replies!

Not having to deal with peer pressures and bullies, for one! – Kim

Public school is a pressure cooker, it’s a bad system, some just adapt to it better than others. – Michele

Learning is fun & not always found in a textbook. They start class later, end earlier, & no homework. More family time. School in pj's, barefoot, or on the sofa...just as long we're learning. These are some of my boy’s favorite things about homeschooling. – Tina

Definitely it is more than just "more sleep"!! Homeschoolers are healthier, because they have PEACE, less stress, a loving family, unconditional love, grace, persistence, parents who never give up on kids, biblical values and moral compass, creative freedom, loving discipline, freedom to be who God wants. – Vicki

I think one of the reasons they're healthier is that the kids are not in classrooms full of kids who may be sick, just getting sick or just getting over being sick. So many households are two income that sick kids are sent to school, there's no one at home to care for them. I am convinced the reason we are not as sick as others during the winter especially is our limited exposure to sickie germs. – Tracie

Definitely more reasons than just this, BUT I do hear our friends talking about their crazy schedules before and after school and I am always left bewildered. I don't know how families keep that schedule up and have good family time. I would not like it, nor would I deal with it well. – Christine

Not being constantly exposed to the germ of the day, being surrounded by people who love you and want the best for you, being able accomplish something without the frustration of ADD scheduling. I can make a huge list of why my kids are hardly ever sick, compared to their government schooled peers. – Beth

I know at my house we eat more often than if they were in school, and definitely eat healthier foods. I have boys, and they need to eat! We have breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner and a snack! All good-for-us foods. The flexibility of learning at home allows time to keep their bodies nourished. – Dari

Because at least some of their lessons are tailored to them and not the masses. They can enjoy learning things that interest them and at their own pace. – Caroline

I think my girls have a healthier body image than I did. I think I started my first diet at 11 and my two girls, ages 18 and 13 haven't ever considered dieting. – Terri

Healthier meal options, water to drink all day, plenty of time outside in the fresh air and sunshine, more regular physical activity. There is no peer pressure to look a certain way, no one pushing poor lifestyle choices. – Toni

Sleep, nutrition, free to move when they need - these all add up. But I think the best reason is they are in a nurturing environment with one-on-one attention. How could you possibly use a broken public school system to replace family time, love and customized learning? – Sarah

They not only learn the three R's, they learn life skills the schools will not teach like banking, quilting, gun safety, and if they need extra help, it is there for them. You do not have to rush the learning so they really learn. – Verna

They spend their days in the care of a parent. There is no substitute for godly, conscientious parents who are willing to sacrifice to ensure that the next generation is healthy in every way (spiritually, mentally, physically, and more). – Rebecca

When they need a break from studies, they can go outside, go on a field trip, go for a walk or run, go for a fun outing with their family - get refocused and tackle the work head on. – Mindy

My friends feel sad that their kids don't get much of a chance to be just kids - after school hours are filled up too! I appreciate that my home-schooled children have more un-structured time and aren't spread too thin with all the 'filler' activities - we do less, but what we do, we do it deeper. – Sarah

Some kids in public class rooms are not there to learn, and they are constantly talking and passing notes to others in the middle of the lessons. – Brenda

I don't think it's sleep for my kids. We are busy and sometimes I think they don't get enough sleep. But, they get their work done. They don't have to sit in a chair waiting for school to be over or for the kid next to them to figure out how to do the problem. It only takes them 2 or 3 hours to do all they need to do for the day, and they are free to do whatever they want. No busy work. – Lisa

A few I can think of are eating healthier foods (and ones they like), loving environment, lack of feeling stressed if they don't "get" the material right away, leisure to pursue interests/subjects that don't necessarily correspond with their work, ability to rest if they feel overly tired, for whatever reason, when they need to. – Heather

What's your opinion?  Is teaching sleep the key?  One of many keys?  Or does the article completely miss the point?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Would you please rate my blog at Homeschool Top Sites!

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Perfect Children Always Complete Their Work

Perfect Children Always Complete Their Work
"But How do I Get Them to Work?!"

I get a lot of different questions about homeschooling high school. A big one is “How do I get my student to do the work?”  Especially for parents new to homeschooling, this is the big worry.  How do you make them listen and get the job done?

Unfortunately, perhaps, children are free moral agents.  They sometimes do not cooperate, and there isn’t any magic way to force them to work.  But there are definitely some general tips that can help. The first thing is to have your spouse play the role of the principal. Sometimes homeschooling can be so overwhelming that it’s helpful to separate out the job of educating your children from the job of determining consequences. If you can delegate the job of consequences to your spouse, your job as teacher will be easier and less complicated.

Here is a helpful tip. Try some clear, natural consequences, using a direct ‘If…then’ statement, like this: “If you do not turn in your math assignment for the day, then you may not leave the front door.” Just like you did with toddlers, you want to take what is most important to your student and withhold it for the purposes of making sure they get their work done. Their computer, cell phone, or whatever it is that they truly love and can’t live without is a good thing for you to use for natural consequences.

In our family, my personal favorite was "If you are too tired to complete that assignment, then obviously you are too tired to go play."  Be sure to insert their favorite activity at the end! So now you know, my children weren't perfect, and didn't always do their work either!

See those cute buttons at the bottom of these blog posts?  Those are to make it easy for you to share these helpful posts with your friends who might need encouragement.  Go ahead and give it a try.  I promise that nothing will blow up!
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7th Grade Panic

7th Grade Panic


Each stage of life can bring unique challenges, but 7th grade?!  Yikes!  It can seem so scary!

Here are some suggestions for parents of middle school students.  Try these first, before having a major melt-down, and most of your questions will be answered.

Make sure you are on my free newsletter list, and start reading it regularly: The HomeScholar Record.  Then read the article called: Taming Middle School Anxiety.

I created a DVD intended to take the fear out of homeschooling high school, and it's a perfect overview for parents of 7th and 8th graders who are wondering what changes you need to make for high school.  This DVD is perfect for people thinking about high school, when they aren't even sure which way is up:  Preparing to Homeschool High School. That's usually all you need to feel comfortable with high school before it actually begins.

Some parents, though, have a specific concern that causes palpitations.  If you concerns are mostly about tests, and acronyms like SAT, PSAT, ACT, AP, and CLEP freak you out, then this CD will help.  It covers all the tests for high school:  High School Testing.  If your biggest concern is the transcripts and course descriptions, then you'd be a good fit for my book, Setting the Records Straight. If you want to get a better deal, check out the Convention at Home Kit because it provides one of everything with a huge discount for buying them together.

Now I've shared ideas for how to avoid panic.  Now let me share what NOT to do:
1. Don't try to do 4 years of high school before Freshman year
2. Don't try to write course descriptions for classes you haven't begun yet
3. Don't think you have to change everything to homeschool high school
4. Don't make your children take tests for high school when they are in junior high
5. Don't expect your children to demonstrate "senior" behavior the first day of freshman year

Just take it one step at a time.  You'll do great!  Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can!

Homeschooling is NOT the same as doing schoolwork at home.  There is LOTS of freedom!  My Gold Care Club will give you all the help you need to succeed!
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Exit Public School and Gather your Children

Exit Public School and Gather your Children
Some parents are born homeschooling their children.  Other parents begin educating their children in the common way until they realize they need to make a change.  It's interesting to watch families taking their first tentative steps into the homeschool arena. Some begin the journey resistant, even angry at the world for being forced into the lifestyle.  First tentative, gradually they become more confident.  Eventually they begin to feel fulfilled as a parent and as a family.

If you are beginning the journey of homeschooling (whether joyfully or against your will) it may encourage you to know that God is with you.
Isaiah 43:5-7 (New Living Translation)

5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
I will gather you and your children from east and west.
6 I will say to the north and south,
‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
from the distant corners of the earth.
7 Bring all who claim me as their God,
for I have made them for my glory.
It was I who created them.’”

One of my clients has chosen Isaiah 43:5 as her verse for this year.  In moments of certainty and doubt she will repeat it to herself.* "Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  I will gather you and your children from east and west."

For more encouragement, grab my free webinar called "Homeschooling How and Why it Works " from Dr. Jay Wile.  This is the class would be excellent to share with your spouse and children, and I think you'll love it.  You can also watch my scripture-based video called “How do you know you can homeschool high school?”

Don't be afraid to be gathered together with your children.  It's wonderful!  Even if you aren't looking forward to it, you can learn to love it AND be successful!

Check out my new profile on The Old Schoolhouse’s Speakers Bureau, and then ask you conference coordinator to invite me to come speak to your conference in 2011-2012!
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Early High School Credits or Extra Middle School Fun?

Early High School Credits or Extra Middle School Fun?

Should we count extensive European travel during middle school as early high school credit?

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