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Can You Stop Now? Take this Quick Quiz!

Can You Stop Now? Take this Quick Quiz!

Can You Stop Now? Take this Quick Quiz!

Maybe you should just finish up the school year by having a popcorn party. It's fast and fun, and a great way to stop one year and take a break before starting up again.
Finishing School with The Popcorn Party Plan

Not everyone should stop during the summer, but maybe YOU need to stop this summer.  So take the quiz and figure out what is REALLY the best option for you and your children.

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4 Key Ideas for Entertaining the Littles While Homeschooling the Bigs

4 Key Ideas for Entertaining the Littles While Homeschooling the Bigs

4 Key Ideas for Entertaining the Littles While Homeschooling the Bigs

Here are four fresh idea for parents with little ones at home. These ideas may be new to you, or ideas you have used before and need to dust-off and use again. I know it can be difficult when you are homeschooling with little ones, or have a large family. It's important to find ways to keep your sanity and make the family run smoothly. Spend a few moments reading about how to make life easier for you!

1. Make Fresh Playdough

The first plan might be to make fresh playdough today, to keep those little hands busy now! In my family, fresh playdough was always my ticket to instant peace at home.
Homemade Playdough recipe Or a Gluten-free playdough recipe option.

2. Create Busy Boxes

While they are occupied, spend some time creating busy boxes - it will be worth it! Make at least 5 boxes, so they have one each day of the week. If possible, make more, so you can spread out those activities even farther. The less frequent the activity, the more fun and special it is for the child. Busy boxes can be collected in plastic shoeboxes, old cardboard boxes, or even paper bags. By rotating them, you are providing a new-to-them experience that will give you about 30 minutes of sanity-saving time for older children or for yourself.

Ideas for Busy Boxes

25 Low Prep Busy Boxes or Busy Bags Activities

Quiet Time Boxes

12 Fun Busy Bag Ideas

DIY Quiet Time Busy Boxes

8 Busy Box Ideas

Why I Use Busy Boxes for My Toddler and Baby

DIY Naptime Boxes

Busy Box Organization

3. Create Older-Younger Sibling Partnerships

Pair your younger children with an older sibling to play. You can be proactive, and give ideas for an activity they can play together (like suggesting Legos, or Hot Wheels) or you can treat this as a 1/2 hour of free babysitting, where the older child is simply responsible for the younger one. You can be specific about the time, say 10:00-10:30 each morning, older Suzie is responsible for younger Sammy. It might be a good idea to encourage  "recess" where the two can go outside for fresh air for a while, hunting bugs, riding bikes, or picking flowers. Going outside together is great for sibling bonding, but it also can help children learn more when they have been outside and active for a while! This partnership might be for just 1/2 hour a day, but every half-hour of peace is worth the price of admission.

4. Read More Tips

If you are struggling with little ones today, or trying to homeschool a large family, or just trying to figure out a schedule that works for you, it might be a good time to read this book! “Managers of Their Homes” by Teri Maxwell.

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Know Your State Homeschool Law

Know Your State Homeschool Law

Know Your State Homeschool Law

Could you do me a favor? Before you start your new homeschool year, can you quick run over to your state homeschool law, and check it out for me?

If your neighbors are doing something that seems a little strange and wacky, don't just follow them blindly. 9 times out of 10, they are assuming that something they see in their local public school is somehow encoded into law.

Do me this one favor. When faced with some weird requirement, ask the question I learned in church. Ask your friends "Where is it written?"

If it's written in the state public education law, chances are it does not apply to you. Look up your state homeschool law, and see what that says. Don't just follow the crowd.

IF you don't know where to begin to find your state homeschool laws, start here: Know Your State Homeschool Law

This is a great use of your time this summer. You'll feel much more confident and informed before school starts up again!

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Distance Learning Not College

Distance Learning Not College

As a parent, your work during high school includes planning for and providing the best possible education for your child, so they can learn the life skills they need. It’s your job to prepare your children to be ready for a variety of different possibilities and encourage them to pursue what they need to know in order to function in their job, whether that includes college or not. In the midst of the variety of options for high school graduates, distance learning is a great alternative you might want to look into.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy I may make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.

Distance Learning Not College

Although it seems trendy today, many people will be surprised to learn that distance learning is not a new phenomenon; it has been around for decades. Years ago, people did distance learning by mailing in their tests and papers (instead of emailing or faxing them), but it was essentially the same as distance learning today.

Resources for distance learning have been around for a long time. One of the books we used for distance learning is Bear's Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning, which was published for the first time decades ago!

There are many reasons that distance learning might be a good fit for your student, including finances, work schedules, and concerns about the college environment. For more great information, I also recommend reading the more recent book, Accelerated Distance Learning by Brad Voeller.

If you and your child just aren't sure what's next after high school graduation, check out my Coffee Break Book, Options After High School: Steps to Success for College and Career.

Is your child approaching the end of high school? Are you looking into distance learning? Please share!

Please note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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How Do I Graduate My Homeschooler with College Credit?

How Do I Graduate My Homeschooler with College Credit?

How Do I Graduate My Homeschooler with College Credit?

Is your child working beyond high school level? Are you wondering how they can earn college credit? Click on Lee's video below to learn how your child can earn college credit while in high school!

Are you looking for ways for your child to earn college credit during the high school years? Let me know in the comments below!

Subscribe to my YouTube channel. You will be notified when I create new videos on homeschool high school topics!

If your child is about to graduate, graduate them in style! Check out my online training class: Graduate Your Homeschooler in Style (Online Training) - only $15.00!
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Homeschool College - Do Community Colleges Accept CLEP Credits?

Homeschool College - Do Community Colleges Accept CLEP Credits?
I received this message about CLEP credits from a homeschooling parent:

"In Florida, the state universities have a reciprocal policy with the community colleges if you complete your AA. So, we'll probably go that route and do his AA via CLEP and dual enrollment."

Earning an AA through CLEP credits and dual enrollment wasn't the route we took, but it may work for you. It turned out that our community college would not accept more than 2 CLEP credits, so even though the university DID accept more, the community college didn't. That meant we couldn't combine CLEP credits and dual enrollment to make an AA degree.

Instead, we carefully chose classes from the community college that were perfect matches for our university. In other words, some math courses transferred and some didn't, and we were careful to choose only classes that would transfer into the university for the degree. This also meant that my boys didn't start college with an AA degree. If you don't start college with an AA degree, there are certain prerequisite courses that have to be taken. My kids were required to take 6 prerequisite classes at the university instead of the 3 prerequisite classes that would have been required if they had an AA degree. The number of courses will vary with the university; I just wanted to give you an idea what it looked like for us.

If my kids had earned an AA degree from community college, they would have had to take classes that I didn't want them to, such as PE and diversity classes that had controversial content. I'm glad we didn't go that route. I had to be especially careful with my 15 year old starting college. We didn't want to expose him to too much adult content.

Do you have experience with CLEP credits? Was it easy to transfer them to your college or university? Please share!




Please note: This post was originally published in December 2007 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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Our Community College Stories

Our Community College Stories

I go to a lot of college fairs in my business. At one community college, I was taken aside and warned to tell homeschoolers not to send their young children to community college!  I was told felons, including predators, were known to be on campus, and the staff worry about innocent homeschoolers.

Although my children started attending community college early, they were well prepared for college. While there were some positive aspects to community college, they also had some undesirable experiences. Here are our community college stories.

 Our Community College Stories

Within the first 2 weeks of college, my children had completed all the required reading and finished all the assignments they possibly could. They spent the next 6 weeks learning how to be lazy and get As without trying. On the bright side, the community college did have an honors program. If they completed additional coursework (taught a class, gave an extra speech, wrote an additional paper) they could add "honors" to their course. That helped a bit.

We couldn't find many classes that would challenge my sons and at the same time not offend our faith. That meant my poli-sci crazy son spent most of his time in engineering, physics, and math classes with his brother. I'm glad he liked differential equations! In addition, my kids encountered people who didn't want to learn for the first time. Students believed passing meant over a 0.7 gpa, and that a 2.0 in a class was fine. People didn't speak up in class, even when they knew the answer. Academic preparation was very low.

I live in very liberal Seattle, but I've heard these same things from a mom in Oklahoma. At the age of 20, I asked my son if he thought community college had been a mistake. He said, "YES!" If I could do it all over again, I would have kept them home and homeschooled college for two years instead of just one. Community college wasn't worth the cost of "free" education.

I have good friend whose children had great success with community college, and she is happy with the results though not always thrilled with the process. Here are her stories:

  • Calculus professor drops the f-bomb every sentence. (We chose a prof that was a homeschool graduate instead - he ended up coming to our graduation party; great guy).

  • Physics professor used marital positions to describe physics principles. (This was the luck of the draw - my children didn't get this same professor).

  • Music class text said "I capitalize Self because I was taught to capitalize the name of God" and instructed class to say mantra each day "I am good, I am great, I am God." (We had looked over the text in advance and declined to take that class).

  • French class showed movies with unclothed people for "culture."

  • Speech class teacher and curriculum was OK, but another student did a speech on the religion of sex. (This teacher did take our own son Alex under her wing and provided him with great opportunities).

  • There were no economics courses that were at my student's level.

  • The poli-sci classes were taught by a Marxist. (He did write a very nice letter of recommendation for my sons, though).

I firmly believe that parents are the only ones qualified to make decisions about what is best for their own children. I can provide information from my perspective and experience (and my friend's), but each one of you knows what is best for your own child.

Do you have your own community college stories you'd like to share? Leave a comment below!

Please note: This post was originally published in June 2008 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Curious about other options besides Community College? Check out my How To Homeschool College ebook for Kindle/Kindle App and learn more.
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From Homeschool to Public High School

From Homeschool to Public High School
It is very difficult to have homeschool credits accepted by a public high school.

From Homeschool to Public High School

Don't be surprised if they don't accept any of your high school credits. They may accept them if the public school is not accredited, but usually it is at the discretion of the principal of the school.

Here are some ideas for your transcript that might be helpful if you are trying to move from homeschool to public high school:

  1. Make your transcript look like a small private school as much as possible.

  2. Mimic the course titles and transcript format of the public school you are trying to enter.

  3. When you bring in your transcript, I encourage you to bring in test scores as well - in particular, standardized tests (eg: PSAT, Iowa Basic, CAT test).

  4. In the academic areas of math, science, English, or history, you may want to provide tests or writing samples.

  5. Sometimes I have seen parents be successful when they provided course descriptions to a public school, as you have done, so I hope that helps.

I know of one homeschooler who tried to transfer into a public school with her genius child. They did "accept" her transcript, but they changed it significantly. For example, high school physics with Apologia was changed to 1 credit of "high school science requirement met." She was fairly sad about that.

There are no guarantees when you are going from homeschool into public high school; continuing to homeschool is often the best solution. If that is not possible, instead of entering a public high school, consider taking classes at a community college.  Community college can be a Rated R environment, but it's also significantly easier to get into than a public high school. While it's hard to get children into a public high school, remember that it's much easier to get your child into a university. They are used to seeing students from unaccredited high schools and they are not freaked out by homeschoolers.

Has your child successfully moved from homeschool to public school? Let me know in the comments!

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How to Attend Outside Classes as a Homeschool Student

How to Attend Outside Classes as a Homeschool Student
How do you attend outside classes and demonstrate that you are well educated and well socialized? Do you want to take a class at public high school or community college, but you are afraid of what the teachers think about homeschoolers? Let me explain the problem. This blog will help you learn how to attend outside classes as a homeschool student.

Some teachers feel that homeschoolers are not well prepared socially or academically.  Often the only homeschoolers they know about are the ones who weren't successful at home and are going to public school because they were not successful.  Successful homeschoolers don't have a sign over their head saying "I was homeschooled!" and so they don't recognize success even when they see it. They may only see homeschoolers who don't function well.

You can demonstrate social skills, regardless of their ignorance. Let me explain the solution.

Make sure that when your child is introduced to anyone at the school, that she looks them in the eye, speaks to them clearly and directly, and shakes hands firmly. When they ask about homeschooling, be prepared with a simple concise answer. "I loved homeschooling! It was awesome!  And I'm happy to be in this class now, I think it will be fun too!" With their peers, teach you teen to look them in the eye, smile, speaking clearly. Some children will whine and say "I can't! I'm not like that!" Then you need to explain the concept of "acting." Tell your child she doesn't have to "feel" confident, she only has to "act" confident. It's all an act, like an actor pretends to be confident, or like a musician who fudges a note pretends it was written into the music.

You can demonstrate academic excellence, too. Let me explain how to do that in a classroom situation.

For academics competence, make sure your child is placed in an appropriate level class - not put into pre-calculus if she should be taking algebra.  Tell your child to communicate clearly with the teacher about assignments.  Talking directly to the teacher after class is often all you need to do to convey that you are "engaged" and academic.  The Institute for Excellence in Writing has a wonderful writing program that might help your child understand writing to the teacher.  Look at the Advance Communication Series. It's a quick videok review of writing so that teachers will love you and your writing.  He talks about writing with the teacher's preferences in mind.  You may be able to find that at the library or from Amazon. IEW Advanced Communication Series

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OpenCourseWare for Homeschoolers

OpenCourseWare for Homeschoolers
In the realm of online learning, “OpenCourseWare” is the new kid on the block, one worth checking into if you have a homeschool student who does well with virtual classes.  OpenCourseWare (OCW) includes coursework and materials shared freely with anyone via the Internet.

Universities such as MIT, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Harvard, to name a few, all offer OCW, although there is no credit conferred for completion of any courses.

I think it’s wonderful that these courses are free. They are extremely helpful for kids that are ready for this kind of college learning, but a word of warning: sometimes homeschoolers will sign up for OCW and then find out that it’s hard.  It is college level material, and if you take it from a college like MIT, which is an extremely difficult school to get into, the material will be even harder!  However, if your student is ready, I think it’s great to take classes.

For transcript purposes, you can count each class as a high school credit. If you’re interested in getting college credit for the course, look into CLEP or AP or Dante’s subject area tests.   If you’re looking for OCW at the high school level, I suggest you look at Kahn Academy, since they have a lot of links to classes that are high school level.


What do you think of OpenCourseWare?

I am now the Seattle Homeschool Examiner.  You can read my homeschool articles here.
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New to All This!

New to All This!
I'll admit it.  Sometimes parents ask BIG questions on Facebook, and it's hard to answer in a short paragraph.  If you only had a few sentences, how would you answer this new homeschool mom?

Posted on The HomeScholar Fan Page: My daughter has been in a Classical Christian school since Kindergarten. She is now going into 7th grade and we want to home school her. She is so sick and tired of filling in work sheets, and Saxon math. But I am so new to all of this, I don't know where to go from here for curriculum. Can you recommend a good math program for a kid coming out of 6 years of  Saxon? How do I figure out what type of a learner she is? Yikes!
~Deb on Facebook

Hi Deb!

I love Sonlight Curriculum for beginners because it is so easy to use.

I have an article listing different math curriculum here: For the Love of Math.

If you have some time, this website will help with learning styles HomeEdExpert .

If you don't like the feel of that website, then her book is 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum  and Approach for Your Child's Learning Style by Cathy Duffy.

Lisa Baughn wrote a review of myTotal Transcript Solution. She wrote, “With Lee’s help, any home educating family can create a marvelous, intriguing, scholarship-inspiring transcript.”  Read Lisa’s Review.
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The Difference Between the SAT and the SAT Subject Test

The Difference Between the SAT and the SAT Subject Test
Julie wrote on Facebook: "what is the difference between a SAT and a SAT Subject test?"

The SAT measures reading, writing, and general math, and it's the college admission test.  If your state requires an annual assessment, this will probably take care of that.

The SAT Subject Tests measures just one subject, like economics or American history, or biology.  Some colleges require these tests, so look at your college requirements.

For more information: That class will teach you about the ACT, PSAT, PLAN, SAT Subject Tests, AP, and CLEP.

Now is the best time to register your children for the Spring SAT, SAT Subject Tests, or ACT.  I suggest children take the test between March and June of Junior year.

Information on registering for the SAT here

Information on registering for the ACT here

Do you enjoy these daily doses of high school homeschool wisdom?  Sign up to get them delivered via email or reader! 1
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CLEP Exams: Grades or College Credit?

CLEP Exams: Grades or College Credit?
Using CLEP exams in high school can get complicated.

What if you just pass the CLEP exam let’s say with the score of 50?  Does that mean that you are given the college credit for that class but are also given a C on the college transcript like on an AP test?  My daughter is studying for her first CLEP and I want this figured out before we put the time and money in to it.

Thanks for your help,

~ Lisa

Dear Lisa,

Many colleges will assign a grade for AP scores.  A score of 5 is an A, a score of 4 is a B, a score of 3 is a C, and lower scores are not permitted college credit.

Some colleges will use a similar system for CLEP exams.  Most of the college policies that I have seen do NOT provide grades for CLEP scores.   A college may provide college credits for a CLEP exam without assigning a grade as long as the student passes the CLEP with a score of 50 or greater.  A college may assign a grade based on the score, obviously the higher the score the better the grade.  A college may decide not to provide college credits for CLEP at all.  In that instance, the CLEP scores are evaluated much like a SAT Subject Test - confirmation of education, rather than college credit.  Some colleges will have different policies for different CLEP tests.  In other words, some CLEP tests will be given college credit, some will be given college placement, and some tests are not used at all.

The only way to figure out how CLEP relates to college credits or college grades is to ask each individual college.

Here are some examples of various policies.  You'll notice how I could not find an example of a college actually giving a GRADE for a CLEP score.  They seem to either give credit or not credit, and limit credit, but I did not see an example of a college providing a grade for a CLEP test.  I believe that is unusual.

  • LeTourneau University:  CLEP scores provide college credit, but each test has a different score required for credit.  They don't give a grade.

  • Seattle Pacific University: CLEP Scores above 50 will give college credits, up to 45 credits total.

  • Arizona State University:  CLEP Test scores are assigned a specific university course equivalency, sometimes they accept scores over 50, other scores have to be over 60.

  • Missouri Southern State University:  Only CLEP Subject tests are given college credit, not CLEP General Exams

  • Rutgers University: CLEP credits limited to 15 CLEP exams, and the exams and some of the departments don't allow CLEP at all.

For each college where you might apply, go to their website and search for "Credit by Examination" or "CLEP" to read their policy thoroughly.  If you can't find their policy, then contact the admission office and ask them directly.

That free month on the Silver Training Club that you get with the purchase of my Total Transcript Solution can can be your time to get some great homeschool high school parent training!  You even get 20 minutes of free phone consultation each week for the first month.  It is a great deal for parents who want to homeschool high school with excellence!
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SAT Accommodation for Homeschoolers

SAT Accommodation for Homeschoolers
When you struggle with learning disabilities, it may be helpful to get an official diagnosis of learning challenges, and then pursue accommodation on the SAT college admission test.  Accommodation for the SAT can happen, it requires a recent label from a doctor, and that there are specific rules that must be followed.

If the essay is a stumbling block, you can also opt for the ACT test without the optional essay. Either the SAT or ACT works equally well with college admission.  If you decide to avoid the essay during the test, you can instead have your child take plenty of time on the college application essay, perhaps even explaining their difficulty with writing.

Look at Dragon Naturally Speaking to see if it can be a solution for you in other areas of school.

One of my "case studies" in learning challenges has had some good news. He was recruited by a company and offered a summer job for $30 per hour and a job upon graduation for over $80K. He's not sure about the money, because he has other goals in his sites now! His leaning challenges were all-consuming in high school. Now things seem to be working out pretty well All that to say, Hang in there!

One of my facebook friends asked me a question to help her understand how to help her high school junior.
Hi Lee, Do you know anything about having a special needs kid take the SAT's? My oldest son has fine motor issues which makes handwriting very difficult. I know the SAT essay is handwritten so I am considering getting him labeled but I don't know what that will mean for the SAT's. He is a Junior now so I need to figure it out soon.

Thanks ~ Jeannine

Check out the link to the college board to find out about accommodation: CollegeBoard Services for Students with Disabilities. Since he is a junior, it may be tough to get accommodation for this year. You might consider having him take the ACT this spring (junior year is the normal time) and then take the SAT next year if he gets the accommodation issue straightened out.

Read to what others are saying about The HomeScholar Gold Care Club!
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Have a FAFSA New Year!

Have a FAFSA New Year!
It's that time of the year again!!  The FAFSA should be completed every year, from the time your eldest is a senior until your youngest graduates from college, unless your children that go to a college that does not need or require it.  (Assume they need it for the first year.  Our full tuition scholarship meant I never had to fill it out again!)

Here is general information about the FAFSA

If you haven't gotten it already, get your FAFSA PIN now, because it takes a while to get to you - it's sort of like requesting a social security card.  Get one for you and one for your child. FAFSA PIN

You can practice filling out the FAFSA now, before you do it for real.  Here is the information I received about that:
FAFSA will be releasing access to its practice site on December 12, 2010. This site allows students and parents to train themselves on the FAFSAapplication, providing users with a more comfortable navigation of the actual process after January 1st. The test site is Use the following login information for your practice:

User name: eddemo
Password: fafsatest

Fill out the FAFSA every year on January 1st, estimating your financial information.   After you do your taxes each year, just update your financial information at that time.  Getting the estimate in on January 1st can increase your chances of financial aid - remember that money is often first-come, first-served.

Curious about The HomeScholar? Read more on our About Us page!
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