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Choosing Homeschool High School Math Curriculum

Choosing Homeschool High School Math Curriculum

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Homeschool Statistics Class

Homeschool Statistics Class

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

Homeschool Statistics Class

What curriculum can you use to teach a homeschool statistics class? Here are some resources I like - some can be used alone and some can be combined for a full course.

I love the Teaching Company Course called Meaning from Data: Statistics Made Clear. It's a good choice for visual learners, or when you don't need it as a math class.

I also like Way, by my son's mentor Dr. Doug Downing. It's best for kids who learn through literature, and again, it's not a perfect math class.

How to Lie with Statistics would be fun for a child who enjoys politics and current events.

Life of Fred Statistics (A Year of College Statistics) is another literature based book, but a fuller math class. Since it covers a whole year of college statistics, it couled be a little bit too much for some kids.

For full reviews of math resources, check out Cathy Duffy's Math Reviews. A homeschool statistics class is usually used as an elective on the transcript rather than a standard math course, though.

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Please note: This post was originally published July, 2010 and has been updated and revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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What Is The Correct Math Sequence for High School?

What Is The Correct Math Sequence for High School?

So, a question many high school homeschool families ask when planning for teaching math is, what is the correct math sequence for high school? For most students, what comes first doesn't matter. The most important thing is that your child is learning math consistently each year.

There are two typical math sequences for high school :

Algebra 1 > Geometry > Algebra 2


Algebra 1 > Algebra 2 > Geometry

Some textbooks follow one way, and some follow the other way. They all try to convince you their way is the right way!  Mathematically, it doesn't matter which one comes first, Geometry or Algebra 2, to be honest. However, your child might benefit if they take geometry before 11th grade, to prepare for the PSAT and SAT.

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Wonderful feedback, Cindi!! You are so very right. That's one of the awesome things about homeschooling. Lee will love reading ... Read More
Sunday, 06 October 2019 03:59
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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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2014 Homeschool Year In Review with The HomeScholar

2014 Homeschool Year In Review with The HomeScholar

2014 Homeschool Year In Review with The HomeScholar

 Every month I help parents homeschool though high school by publishing an email newsletter. January is a great time to look back and see all we have learned in the past year. Join me below for a 2014 homeschool year in review with The HomeScholar.


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Do Homeschoolers Really Need Algebra and Geometry to Graduate?

Do Homeschoolers Really Need Algebra and Geometry to Graduate?
Dear Lee,
I am worried about math for my 10th grade son. He has struggled in math for years.  Due to some research about dyslexia in my younger son, I stumbled upon something called dyscalculia. I am wondering if my 10th grader has this and how it will affect his chances at getting into a college. My question is, do they really need algebra and geometry to graduate?
Thank you for your help,
~ Michelle in Oregon

Do Homeschoolers Need Algebra and Geometry to Graduate?

It can be challenging to homeschool a child with a learning disability. You may find my blog post, High School With Learning Challenges helpful. You can get some math help with my article on How to Teach High School Math at Home and choosing a curriculum.

There are "perfect fit" colleges just for your child that don't require a lot of math. I know there are colleges that "recommend" a certain level of math, but there is a college for every student. Graduation requirements also vary state by state. Be sure to look into what your state requires.

Teaching math is important, and teaching math at your child's level is important. It can help to choose the curriculum carefully, which is why I included the article above. When teaching teenagers, their learning style and your teaching style often takes a back seat to their personal preferences - which can be quite strong.

My advice is to choose a curriculum carefully, and continue to help your child at his level without quitting math. Pursue some extra help for dyscalculia. Here is a dyscalculia website for you to get started. Then move forward boldly, because there will be a college that's right for your child, even if he doesn't have algebra and geometry.

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

You can subscribe to my blog so it comes to your inbox.  It’s a daily dose of homeschool high school wisdom!
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Mastery vs. Perfection

Mastery vs. Perfection
I receive many questions from homeschoolers about math. This one is about mastery vs. perfection when it comes to math.

Mastery vs. Perfection

Dear Lee,

Thank you very much for sharing so much with the rest of us homeschoolers! I have a question regarding carelessness.  Using math as an example, my 12 yr. old son is working out of Saxon Algebra 1 currently and is understanding everything very well but gets a few wrong (2-4 on average, occasionally up to 6) due almost always to carelessness. He will work the incorrect ones over again and get them correct and truly understands what he did wrong. However, I have decided to cut him back to working only half a lesson in the hopes that he will take his time and strive for 100 percent and if he does not score a 90 percent or higher then he has to re-do the half-lesson over again until he achieves this. What are your thoughts on this?? He is definitely heading in the direction of engineering and I know how important it is for him to be careful.

Thank you for your thoughts,

Carelessness, especially with math, is a complicated subject.  Homeschool parents want their kids to do well, understand a subject and achieve mastery. We want our children to learn about hard work and the benefits of doing a job well. But there is another side to carelessness that we have to consider.

When I subtract a purchase in my checkbook, I don't always get the answer perfectly right. Sometimes I slip up, get the answer wrong, and have to search until I find the arithmetic error so it balances again. Yet I do believe I have achieved mastery over subtraction!

Mastery is different than perfection. Your child may demonstrate mastery by scoring 90% on an assignment (you may consider they have mastery with less than that). They shouldn't be required to be "perfect" though. To be honest, I did have my children correct all their math errors in their daily work.  When they got it wrong, they corrected it. Like you, I was hoping the tediousness of correcting would encourage them to be more careful in their daily work. Just don't jump from requesting being "careful" to expecting "perfection." Striving for perfection can cause strife and possibly rebellion, because we all know, intuitively, that we simply can't be perfect.

I understand this situation, because I have a math and engineering loving son. I like the idea of holding your child to a high standard of 90%. I like the idea of assigning half the problems so he has time to be more careful. I like the idea of re-doing any problems he misses. Just make sure you steer clear of perfection, and strive instead for mastery. Tell your son that 90% is what you consider mastery.

Do you strive for mastery in your homeschool? Are you frustrated by a child who is careless in his work? Please share!

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

See those cute buttons at the bottom of these blog posts?  Those are there to help you share helpful posts with others who might need encouragement.  Go ahead and give it a try.  I promise that nothing will blow up!
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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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English and Math and the New SAT

English and Math and the New SAT

English and Math and the New SAT

There are big changes in the SAT. What does it mean to you? Let me explain the differences in the new SAT sections for you.



When you read about the new English section, there are three key phrases you need to understand. First, they refer to “relevant words” which means they are focusing on more widely-used vocabulary words from the workplace. Second, they talk about “evidence-based reading and writing.” That means the test will have a different feel, because students will need to support their answers by indicating where they found the answer in the comprehension passage. Third, readings used will include “Founding Documents or the Great Global Conversation.” This means students will be reading documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, or Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and Letter from a Birmingham Jail.


The new SAT will have an optional essay. It will also be a longer essay - 50 minutes long instead of 25 minutes. This will be an essay analyzing a source, so it’s not just about writing but also about understanding. Currently the ACT test has an optional essay, but many colleges require it anyway. I expect that to be true for this test as well. Many colleges will require the essay, so I suggest you prepare your child for the essay. Preparing your children to write well is one of the best things you can do for their long term success in college and career!


The new SAT will narrow the scope of the math tested. It will focus on just 3 things: Problem Solving and Data Analysis, the Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math. To me, it sounds like geometry will be an after-thought, and a thorough understanding of mathematics and algebra should help students score well on the test. Calculators will only be allowed in certain math sections, so there will be an emphasis on mental math, and understanding math in the real world.

Educate for Understanding

The best test preparation will always be a good education.  In the elementary school years, focus on reading, writing, math, and penmanship. In the middle school years, continue to focus on the core subjects, and include keyboarding. The SAT will become computer-based so typing skills will be critical to help them be prepared.  Make sure you are teaching math with a curriculum that makes sense to your child and continue moving forward, one level each year. In high school, teach your child to write a complete essay in 50 minutes.

Choose the best college admission test for your child. Give a sample of the SAT and a sample of the ACT at home and see which test makes your child look smarter. Then have them study for that test and plan to take the optional essay if at all possible. The best test preparation uses real test questions.

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Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance for Homeschool - Review

Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance for Homeschool - Review

Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance for Homeschool - Review

Did you learn how to take care of your own, personal finances when you were in high school? One of the many benefits of homeschooling is having the time to cover life skills in your homeschool, skills your children will need for the rest of their lives! Many homeschoolers turn to Dave Ramsey to help them teach their kids how to handle their finances once they've left the nest.

I love Dave Ramsey's products! Dave Ramsey asked me to do a review for his brand new program, Foundations in Personal Finance for Homeschool. My good friend, Renita, was kind enough to review a copy on my behalf. Here's what she had to say:
I received Foundations in Personal Finance for Homeschool by Dave Ramsey to review. I was thrilled and couldn't wait to start on it. I mean who doesn't want to do finances and math, right?!

Seriously though, if I had had this course in high school I might not have had the problems with money that I did. This course is a practical approach to personal finances that is interesting and enjoyable for students.

And it's even a FUN curriculum!
The DVDs are engaging and the material delivered in a way that is fun. The lessons are around 15 minutes each but you will want to watch more than just the one. Really. I didn't expect to have fun while learning about finances. That just doesn't even seem possible but Dave Ramsey and his team have come up with a way to do it.

Renita also says:
I can't recommend Foundations in Personal Finance for Homeschool enough. Every student NEEDS to go through this course to help them avoid the pitfalls that come from not understanding how to make their money work for them.

Foundations in Personal Finance for Homeschool would make a great half credit course in personal finance for homeschoolers! You can also get further ideas for promoting financial skills in your homeschool and more in Beyond Academics: Preparation for College and for Life.

Have you always been curious about what Dave Ramsey's homeschool programs are like? You can read more about what Renita thought about this Dave Ramsey program once she tried it out in her own homeschool and why she recommends it so highly by reading the full review on her blog, Homedaze.

Did you learn how to handle your finances back in high school? Are you making it a priority to teach your kids? If you've used Dave Ramsey's programs in your homeschool, let other homeschoolers know how you liked them in the comments!

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Teaching Math the Right Way Tip #6

Teaching Math the Right Way Tip #6
Teaching Math the Right Way Tip #6

Choose to Teach Math

Of all the subjects I hear homeschoolers moan about, math is towards the top of the list!  Math seems like such hard work, for both teacher and students! It takes time, practice, and review; then we rinse and repeat! Even for math-loving parents it can be challenging.  As a math person myself, I actually enjoyed teaching math to my kids. At least until we got into Algebra 2, and at that point I joined the ranks of “in over my head” homeschool parents!

Do you know what I have learned about homeschool math? Everybody loses it at some point.  Sooner or later, we all throw up our hands in despair and feel like giving up.  But you know, homeschool teachers aren’t the only teachers who feel that way! The feeling tends to be universal!  So we learn how to compensate, and get the job done with a minimum of hassle. If math is not your forte, don’t be afraid. There are lots of things you can do to make it as painless as possible, both for you and your children.

As homeschool parents, perhaps you have thought how important it is that we convey work ethic. We want to teach our children the value of hard work. That’s the great thing about high school math.  Sure, colleges want to see advance mathematical thinking, but the value of math goes far beyond college admission!  The real value is teaching kids to work hard.  It’s not easy, and it takes effort.  It’s good to teach our children that effort is a good thing.  So don’t give up!  Remember, you are teaching your children the value of hard work.  Important note:  the lessons in hard work are for your kids.  For you, I have some tips to make it easier!

Let's face it.  Math won't be a career choice for everyone.  It is, however, a very important skill for daily living.  How often have I watched the news and prayed that God would raise up a generation of leaders who understood – in a profoundly meaningful way – that a trillion dollars was a whole boatload of money?

Also, spend a little time reflecting on this truth – every time a plane crashes or a bridge falls or a patient dies because of a hospital error, you can bet that someone, somewhere messed up the math.  We all wish that would never happen, but it does.  Let's make it our goal to stem the tide of math mediocrity.  You get the idea.  Math is important and, for some children at least, it will be fun.  Studies show that adult attitudes about math have a profound effect on whether children grow up to be math lovers, math haters or just math indifferent.  It turns out that moaning about math isn't such a good idea after all.  Kids are wonderful mimics so let's all try to give them a positive perspective on math.  You will make the world a better (and safer) place.

This article will help you choose curriculum that will be effective for your children.  You can be successful!  Read this article to find out how! High School Math Without the Moaning

If you need any extra help, you will really appreciate my Gold Care Club, full of templates and tools to help you homeschool high school.
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Teaching Math the Right Way Tip #5

Teaching Math the Right Way Tip #5
Teaching Math the Right Way Tip #5
Choose the Correct Supplements

There are so many great supplements for math it would be impossible to list them all!  Here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

If you have a child who loves literature but hates numbers, it may be helpful to supplement a math program with books.  One option is the book “Algebra the Easy Way” by Douglas Downing (who happens to be my son’s economics mentor!).  Another is Living Math, a website ( with a variety of links for literature lovers, including a really long book list!
For kids who will benefit from some hands-on supplements, try “Family Math for Middle School” which we used as a supplement for algebra.  “Patty Paper Geometry” is great for hands-on exploration of geometric proofs.  We also supplemented pre-calculus and calculus with the videos “Change and Motion: Calculus Made Clear,” which my children loved so much, they watched them twice!!

Math games and supplements:

Learn how to create records of your homeschool that will attract the attention of your dream college, and open doors to admission and great scholarships.  Get the Total Transcript Solution!
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Teaching Math the Right Way Tip #1

Teaching Math the Right Way Tip #1
Choose the Correct Sequence

Four years of math is important, because it’s required for high school graduation in every state.  It’s important because it’s required for admission to college, because almost all colleges require a full four years of math.  However, that doesn’t mean your child has to do four years of upper level math including calculus. It just means that they should continue to work at their own level and keep moving forward every year. Yes, it’s wonderful to have calculus in high school, but not everyone is going to get there.  Just because they don’t get to calculus doesn’t mean they can’t get into college!

Sometimes parents wonder what the “correct sequence” for math is, and stress about making sure they’re doing it “right.”  For those people, the good news is that in the grand scheme of things, there is no “right” sequence to do math. There is a "typical” sequence, which usually has two flavors.

Algebra 1 – geometry – algebra 2 – trigonometry/pre-calculus – calculus


Algebra 1 – algebra 2 – geometry – trigonometry/pre-calculus – calculus

Some curriculum providers will try to tell you that one way is “best” but mathematically it really doesn’t matter which order you choose.  It’s best to complete geometry before 11th grade if possible.  That’s when students take the PSAT, and that test includes geometry.  Completing the class before 11th grade can really improve the score on that test.  Geometry is completely different from algebra, but it does review some algebra concepts.  For that reason, if your child struggled with algebra 1, taking geometry next can firm up their algebra understanding before they go into the more difficult algebra 2 concepts.  And if they didn’t like algebra, then geometry can give them a bit of a break before they have to tackle it again as algebra 2.  But for many people, the sequence of math isn’t terribly important. The most important thing is that your child is learning math consistently each year.

Read to see what others are saying about The HomeScholar’s Gold Care Club!
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Which Math Goes First?

Which Math Goes First?
As teenagers struggle to figure out the order of operations in algebra, parents have their own worries.  They are trying to figure out if there’s a specific order to follow for high school math.  It can be confusing!  What comes first? Should you take Algebra 2 after Algebra 1, or should Geometry come next?

Each math curriculum will have a their own order of high school classes. Some textbooks do it one way, and some do it the other way.  Of course, they all try to convince you that THEIR way is the RIGHT way!   Does it matter?  Well, yes it does matter, sorta...  sometimes... but not always...

In reality, it doesn’t matter mathematically which one comes first. There is no correct sequence you must follow, and mathematically you can teach geometry before or after algebra 2 without a problem.  However, in terms of testing, there can be some important reasons that will help determine your math sequence.  There are compelling reasons to choose the Algebra 1 – Geometry – Algebra 2 sequence.  Let me explain.

Students who take geometry before their junior year are better prepared to take the PSAT, which is administered in October. There is a lot of geometry on the PSAT, so if your student doesn’t start studying it until fall of their junior year, they probably won’t score very well on that section of the PSAT. Of course, very, VERY few people get a National Merit Scholarship (which is tied to PSAT scores) anyway.  In general, winners are students who score in the top 1/2 of 1 percent in the nation.

Even if your student isn’t destined to win a National Merit Scholarship, there’s still another purpose for taking the PSAT—it’s great practice for the SAT.  Taking the PSAT gives kids practice with sitting in a large group and filling in bubbles on paper! Seriously, it’s great practice to take a test where they don’t know all the answers, and it gives them practice with the format of the SAT. That preparation will most likely increase their SAT test scores, which will in turn probably increase the financial aid they are offered from colleges.

Geometry and algebra are quite different skills.  But geometry includes some algebra 1 skills, so it’s sort of a nice year-long review of algebra, and may give your student a chance to really digest and “become one” with algebra 1 concepts. For most people, what comes first doesn’t matter.  The most important thing is that your child is learning math consistently each year.

When you apply to colleges, you will need a great homeschool transcript.  The good news is that you can “do-it-yourself,” and save thousands of dollars.  Discover how with the Total Transcript Solution. 
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How to Teach a Homeschool Geek

How to Teach a Homeschool Geek

Strategies for teaching your geeky homeschool student.

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