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How to Remember Course Description Details

How to Remember Course Description Details

How to Remember Course Description Details

Many moms feel anxious that they will not remember to include everything in the course descriptions and reading lists. Do you feel the same way? Making your comprehensive records every year is a HUGE step in the right direction. Every spring, sit yourself down and update your homeschool transcript for each child. Then, write course descriptions for each class on the transcript. You heard me. Each class.

You don't have to be a perfect mom to make this happen. Ordinary humans get this job done too, so let me show you how to do it.

First, let go of perfection - especially if you are stressing out so much you are avoiding it all together! Make it your goal to include 80% of the information about the course contents, and then maybe you will feel more comfortable. When you piecemeal things together, instead of use textbooks, it can be a lot to list, but if your goal is to write down at least 80%, then often, moms feel more comfy-cozy-secure in what they are doing.

Absolutely you want to capture the most important things, but that should be pretty easy using the "elephant strategy" that you will remember and not forget.  The big solution to  your concerns is that you take just a few easy steps to making your class descriptions:

  1. Every day, throw all your information or papers in a big box in your schoolroom, or if that doesn't work, take notes in a notebook, journal, or even a calendar!

  2. Every month or so, try to use your notes or information from those papers you saved to add to your course descriptions

  3. Every year, work on making your course descriptions look good. I suggest spring, when the bulk of the class is already done, and all of the information is fresh in your mind.

If you do it that way, you'll easily remember what you need to remember!

Keep up the good work, homeschool parents! You can do it!  Start this process and the next thing you know, you'll be creating the course descriptions and records! Start this EARLY in high school, by 9th and 10th grade, so you have plenty of time to work on this. Then just be consistent. In fact, one Gold Care Club member worked on two course descriptions per week - that was her goal. She was extremely successful through the process. If you are stuck, maybe a more bite-sized goal will help you?

How do YOU remember the details you need to put into course descriptions?  Do you have a method that you can share?

If you need more help, I have a free class to motivate you. Check it out! Homeschool Records That Open Doors..


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Test Scores Low but High Homeschool Grades

Test Scores Low but High Homeschool Grades

Test Scores Low but High Homeschool Grades

What do you do?

What do you do when your test scores don't match your homeschool grades? First rule of homeschooling - do not panic! Especially with the first time taking the SAT or ACT, the scores may not be accurate as the child is adjusting to the test.
Tammy asked this question on my Video Tip of the Week.

I have been working through my daughter’s transcripts, and her grades at home from tests, homework, and quizzes are good—-she is getting all A’s. Her first time taking the SAT, however, her scores were not as high as I had hoped—low in fact. 500′s and one score in the 400′s!

I was wondering if I need to go back through all of her home grades and lower her scores to match up with the sat scores. I don’t want the colleges to think mommy grades are bogus!  ~ Tammy

Test the waters!

All students should try to take the ACT and SAT at home, to see which one makes them look the smartest. If you feel  scores were lower than expected, it may not be your child's problem, it could just be the wrong test - a mismatch can lower scores.

Give a sample SAT and ACT at home, to see which test is best for your child.

Sample SAT
Sample ACT


Whichever test is best, work on test preparation during your school day. You can use some of the test preparation to replace some of your English class. Your child does NOT have to get smarter to get a better score, she just needs to get more familiar with the way they ask the questions.

This blog post will help you learn to Schedule Test Preparation

If both tests are equally discouraging, then begin to focus on other ways to get outside documentation for your grades - great course descriptions, letters of recommendation, detailed activity and awards lists, etc. Read article about outside documentation for ideas: Super-Size Scholarships with Outside Documentation

There are plenty of kids who don't do well at fill-in-the-bubble tests that get good grades. So try to get those scores up if you can, even if that means switching tests, but don't panic about the test scores - look for other outside documentation if you need to.

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Seek Individuality and Capitalize on Strengths

Seek Individuality and Capitalize on Strengths
How can you ensure long-term success when you are homeschooling unique children and preparing for unknown plans in their college or career future?

Seek Individuality and Capitalize on Strengths

Seek individuality, don't hid from it. And capitalize on strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses. Read Mary's story for some real encouragement today!

It’s not About Me, It’s About Them
by Mary in NC, mother of 3
Stunt actor, criminal justice student, and flutist – what do they all have in common? They’re my kids, and they are all K-12 graduates of our home school. Homeschooling those children was a privilege and a joy, especially as I learned to relax and let them be who they are rather than let my fears and anxiety about my turning out three little academic wonders take over our goal of preparing our children for their futures.

We are an adoptive family, with three children each two years apart, none related genetically to each other. So I was already well aware that surprises were in store as we grew together in our family, seeing each others personalities emerge. But that’s no different from any other family, biologically related or not, as every mom knows. The trick for me was getting the knowledge from my head to my heart that these kids were not so much a reflection of me and my homeschooling efforts as they were unique individuals needing to have their passions and strengths supported and affirmed, and their weaknesses accepted and helped.

My oldest, an action man, loved to listen to, make up, act out, even write and illustrate - stories. Like many boys, he wasn’t “reading by the time he was three” as so many of my friends bragged of their girls. He was doing just fine in his schoolwork, and I had heard much in the home school community about letting boys be boys, allowing them to progress at their own pace. Thankfully for me, he was my first student. All was cool. He was easy.

My middle child was not easy. As the years went on, we realized that my daughter had perceptual problems that were interfering with her ability to retain what she had previously learned – auditory processing disorder, they call it. It’s often very difficult to diagnose, much less to correct, as these children are usually very bright “picture-thinkers,” who can score ridiculously high on standardized tests, but have problems ranging from dyslexia to carrying out simple instructions. I learned that this wasn’t about me, but about helping her to succeed.

I was spending so much effort and time focusing on helping this child, that I had to remind myself to give time to my youngest, who quietly did her work, hesitating to call on busy Mom, whether she needed my help with her lessons or not. Academics came easily to her: she worked hard, wrote beautifully, tested well – but her gifts and passion were music. Learning to support both her academic and musical gifts became the focus for this child

They each are now pursuing their passions. My son left his film studies in an exclusive arts college after his first year in order to pursue stunt acting. Peek into the wild life of a stuntman on his website. Scary for Mom and Dad? Yes, but his reasons were based on his understanding of the field. Is he struggling? Yes, and we pray for him every day. Does he love what he is doing? Yes. Will he succeed? Time will tell.

My second is pursuing criminal justice studies in forensics at the local community college. She takes a somewhat lighter load than the typical 5-course load, works hard, and made the Dean’s List this past fall, her first semester in college. How do I feel about her pursuing this area? Nervous that my tiny, sweet daughter is going into such a field, and yet, admiration for her hard work and dedication.

My youngest is studying flute performance at the school of her choice after being offered scholarships from four very fine conservatories. Making music with others is her passion and her joy. Will she be able to make a living doing this? I hope so, and I am very proud of her.

As these kids were going through their high school years, my homeschool mentor, Lee Binz, helped me realize that seeing their individuality and capitalizing on this as well as their strengths and passions was the ticket to helping each of them gain entry into their next chapter of life. I am so thankful for the instruction, solid support, and mentorship that the HomeScholar provided to me as I went through the process of ensuring that their high school years were college preparatory for each of them, as well as preparing unique and beautiful homeschool records for each as they sought college entry. Lee made a potentially overwhelming task totally do-able. I will never regret the last twenty or so years of watching three precious ones become adults. The next twenty should be interesting.

Preparing your children for college will prepare them for anything, from acting to community college, to university and beyond. You don't know what the future holds, and where they will end up in years to come, but homeschooling can provide a solid foundation for every child.

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Transcripts & Applying to College Can Be a Breeze!

Transcripts & Applying to College Can Be a Breeze!

Transcripts & Applying to College Can Be a Breeze!

It's that time of year again, when my Gold Care Club members are graduating their children. I love hearing about their successes, and I feel their uncertainty about facing the empty nest after years of homeschooling. I got this sweet note from Jennifer recently. Check it out!
With a heavy heart I am writing you an email to say goodbye.  My last home schooled child is graduating in two weeks.  I have learned so much from you and your millions of resources.  O.K., maybe not millions, but your newsletter, website, and books.  Then the added bonus of meeting you when our family had just moved to the Seattle area.   You were a lifesaver then and your advice and amazing tutelage for transcripts was far beyond any type of  thank you I could give in return.

I have and will continue to tell friends and family, who are interested in home schooling about your site. You are kind and full of grace to offer this invaluable service.  You made applying to colleges and sending transcripts a breeze.  You prepared me for what our family was in store for with college admissions from the time my son was a freshman in high school.  It was a bit tedious to write a page about each class, but boy it was worth it not to wait until the kids were seniors to tackle the transcript mess.

What a relief when the application process began.  All I had to do as a counselor was reach into the home school transcript drawer and fax the information over to the various colleges. Let me add the colleges were VERY impressed.

When someone has such a large impact on your family, you need to let them know.  I met you when were at the home school college fair.  I cannot remember the date or location. Yet you saved me from making a huge mistake and I really appreciate you redirecting my thinking. My prayers go to you and your business.  You are invaluable!

Thank you again!  Keep up the good work!
Forever in your debt,

If you are graduating a student and would like to share your successes, I'd love to share your story too!

If you are still in the thick of it, how can I help?
My millions of resources: Homeschool Freebies
My newsletter: The HomeScholar Record
My books:

If you are still early in the high school years, please take Jennifer's advice - it's worth it not to wait until your children are seniors to tackle everything. Start early, so all you have to do is reach into your homeschool drawer and send colleges the information they need.

Are you feeling confident? Or do you feel like you need some help in the coming year?

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The Real Value of Grades on a Transcript

The Real Value of Grades on a Transcript

The Real Value of Grades on a Transcript

I always recommend that parents put grades on every class on your homeschool transcript. Either letter grades (A, B, C) or number grades (4.0, 3.5, 3.) will be equally helpful, but grades are important. I do not recommend using Pass or Fail on your transcript.

Colleges award scholarships based on the GPA of your child - and the GPA is determined by the grades you provide. Without grades, you can't get a GPA. Colleges may still award scholarships based on test scores, but give them the option of giving you their best scholarships by providing them with grades.

When my boys were in school, I did put grades on their transcripts. I've met some homeschoolers that would never put a letter grade on the transcript when they gave the grade themselves. I've met other homeschoolers that would never put a grade that they've gotten from accrediting agencies. But as I talk with colleges, they have made it clear: they want grades on the transcript.

All teachers worry about having subjective grades. Homeschool parents worry about that too. Just create a transcript with grades, putting on the transcript what you know to be honest and true.

Colleges know that in general homeschoolers tend to work for mastery. If you work for mastery in your own home, you could feel comfortable giving them a 4.0. This means that they knew it before moving on. It doesn't really surprise colleges when they see really good grades on a homeschool transcript. When they see you give a less than perfect grade, a lot of times that would say that you’re a rough grader.

Learn more about grading in this free online class: A Homeschool Parent's Guide to High School Grades, Credits and Transcripts.

As long as you have documentation for the grades you give and the SAT or the ACT scores. Those documents, when given together, look like a natural thing which doesn't freak them out at all. Learn more in this article: Super-Size Scholarships with Outside Documentation.

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Changing Curriculum - Don't Start from the Beginning

Changing Curriculum - Don't Start from the Beginning

Changing Curriculum - Don't Start from the Beginning

One problem I sometimes see is parents who repeatedly start over every time they buy new curriculum. That's what I want you to avoid. Instead, keep your focus on "challenging, not overwhelming." Their work shouldn't be boring, and they should be actively learning, but the work should also be easy enough so they can be successful - and not in over their head.

If you have needed to start over in math, don't start at the very beginning. Give them some credit for remembering bits and pieces of what they have learned before, using the prior curriculum. Just because they are starting a new curriculum doesn't mean they learned NOTHING previously. If you keep starting over, you will never reach your goal! Instead, you want to switch curriculum in a way that maintains some forward momentum throughout the subject.

Let me give you an example. If you changed math curriculum, and now you are using Saxon math, you don't need to start at first grade math. Choose a placement test that might be appropriate, and see what book they are placed into. Start with that textbook, but try to figure out where in the textbook they should begin. Here's how to do that. If they can pass the test for a chapter in Saxon, don't make them repeat that lesson. You don't need to needlessly slow them down in math, just give them the chapter test. If they get 80% or better on the test, skip those lessons. The next day, give them the NEXT chapter test. If they get 80% or better on the test, skip those lessons and go to the following chapter test. Eventually they won't pass the test anymore. At that point they will be actively learning, and that's what you want. You want to keep them challenged, not consistently reviewing or overwhelmed. One nice thing with Saxon is that they review in every single lesson, too - they use a circular learning style. So once you get into the place where your children are actively learning, they will still be getting review problems every day to fill any gaps they have.

It's only very, very rarely that you need to completely start over. Give credit where credit is due. Even if your child is starting with a new curriculum, you can still give them credit for the work they have already done in the subject.


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How to Say NO to College Offers

How to Say NO to College Offers

May 1st is the National Candidate Reply Date - the day you must say NO to some great college offers. How, exactly, do you do that? Easy - use this template!

Sample letter to reject a college admission offer

Dear Ms. Name (or Admissions Office):

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How much does college cost?

How much does college cost?
How much does college cost? It could be less than you think. Here's why.

How much does college cost?

Sticker Shock

When parents first start shopping for college, they experience some tremendous sticker shock. Look to the net price calculator, which will factor in the expected financial aid you might receive.  The College Board offers a one-stop-shopping net price calculator on its website that will figure the price for different colleges.

→ Big tip!  Don't compare the sticker price of colleges, it can be completely overwhelming! Find information on what students actually PAY for the college.

Bad News

News reports seem to frequently report on the sky-rocketing costs of college. While it's true that college costs are going up, that doesn't mean it will be unaffordable for your family.  You really do need to have a realistic look at the cost of college that will likely include financial aid.

→ Big tip! The sticker prices are going up, but you can still get a great deal on college if you pay attention to the college admission process.

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Military Prep in High School

Military Prep in High School

Military Prep in High School

Let's be honest - there are some kids that would LOVE to serve our country, and want to start TODAY. There are some ways you can encourage that delight directed learning and vocational calling while they are still homeschooling. Each branch of the military has a high school experience, so see what is available in your area. All of these programs emphasize life skills valuable for every student. Students can gain skills like leadership, confidence, and discipline, which are necessary to be successful in any career.

Check out these options to see if they might be a good fit for your child.
There are other military experiences that can prepare for these kinds of careers as well.
As you are guiding your child through college preparation, do some research on the ROTC program. ROTC stands for "Reserve Officer Training Corps" - a college program offered at many universities that prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. Military. In exchange for a paid college education and a guaranteed post-college career, cadets commit to serve in the Military after graduation, so don't take this lightly, it's serious business. ROTC representatives attend college fairs, so you can research this option as you are looking for colleges.








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Teach Note-Taking in High School

Teach Note-Taking in High School

Note-taking skills can really help your children become successful in college and career. It's a pretty easy class to teach, too!


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The Challenge of Resistant Teenagers

The Challenge of Resistant Teenagers

The Challenge of Resistant Teenagers

There are challenges with homeschooling a resistant 16-year-old, that's for sure!  It's hard to be a Christian parent homeschooling a resistant teen who doesn't want to homeschool anymore.  It may seem like an uphill battle at times, but there are ways to find the right path for your family.

The biggest factor in success of homeschooling is when the child WANTS to homeschool, you and I both know that. But sometimes parents just know they are supposed to homeschool in high school, and perhaps they do not feel the Lord calling them to send him to public school at that time.

Only the parent can know what God is saying to them and I encourage parents to listen to God on this. Friends, family, and other experts can only guess. For me, the only time I question a parent's judgement on this is when someone in the home is in physical danger due to the out of control child. Otherwise, I think the parent's gut instinct truly is an encouragement from God.


So let's talk about the options. First, you could choose public school. I have seen many homeschool parents in this situation choose to send their children to public school for various reasons. Sometimes it works out fine, other times it doesn't. What can happen, with some teens, is they become MORE defiant, more challenging (yes, they can get more challenging than this, believe me!) and the family situation actually worsens. They can fail at school, drop out, and experience challenges that will remain on their permanent record.

Second, you can stay the same, continue to homeschool, and muscle through these challenges. Even though homeschooling, it's still possible to fail classes, or not get great grades. It's possible your child could continue to challenge you every step of the way. In comparison to public school, though, it might be the better option. Again, prayer is the best way to play this out. Just remember, though, that prayer doesn't always mean you get a "red light" or "green light" answer from God.  God promises that love covers a multitude of sins, and your love for your son can make it work out right in the end, even though you may never be 100% sure what you are doing is the Lords will. It reminds me of when I was engaged to my husband, and our pastor said you can really only be 80% sure your spouse is the right choice, and you have to leave the rest up to God.


So then, if you are going to continue homeschooling, what next? There are some adjustments you can make. Remember, all young people long to be independent. Homeschooled young men, particularly, want to be the "boss" and leader of the pack. Consider these ideas to improve things.

Don't teach - facilitate. By the time you get into the high school years, it’s important to recognize that your role has changed. No longer the teacher, you become a project manager. Instead of teaching, facilitate learning.

Encourage independent learning. Here is what it might look like. I was completely a fish out of water when it came to physics and calculus. I didn’t recognize what the symbols meant, and I couldn’t even read the answer aloud because I didn’t know how to say the names of the symbols. So here is what I did. First, my children read the textbook and the teacher's manual. They would work through each lesson on their own. If they got stuck, they could look back at the solutions manual and compare their answers to work their way through the problems. When it was time for a test, I took away the solutions manual and gave them the test. The answers had to look exactly the way they looked in the solutions manual when I corrected each test. It didn’t matter if my children claimed their answer meant the same thing; the answer had to be formatted in exactly the same way. I never learned calculus or physics, but I was able to make sure they learned by facilitating and encouraging independent learning.

Watch the child's learning style. Many boys particularly may be kinesthetic learners, so watch how each of your children learn best. Your expectations may be off from what you think their learning style is. For a kinesthetic learner, reading books with very active main characters can help. Moving while learning can help - even if that means listening to audiotapes while biking.

Encourage strenuous physical activity, especially for boys or kinesthetic learners. Often boys can manage their hormones and emotions when they are near exhaustion. Sports, Tai Kwon Do, distance running, or biking - anything to get close to exhaustion will help.


Focus on delight directed learning as a huge benefit of homeschooling. These articles may help: Maximize the Fun Factor and Delight Directed Learning and Use Your Annoy-O-Meter Skillfully

In addition to the articles above, these Coffee Break Books may be helpful, too.

Creating Homeschool Balance: Find Harmony Between Type A and Type Zzz

Homeschool Curriculum That's Effective and Fun: Avoid the Crummy Curriculum Hall of Shame!

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The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Your Way to College

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Your Way to College

Homeschooling Your Way to College

Do you need some encouragement for today? Listen to my radio interview by Melanie Wilson of the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network.

College Admission and Scholarship Secrets for Homeschoolers with Lee Binz

In this 1 hour interview, I tried to spend a long time explaining exactly WHY you do NOT need to be afraid of homeschooling high school. Then I spent quite a long time talking about key strategies for success, so you can homeschool with confidence.

Melanie said that her favorite quote from the whole interview was "Every child deserves a college-prep education, whether they choose to go to college or not."

Melanie wrote:
This interview with Lee Binz, the Home Scholar, should really be titled The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Your Way to College. Lee offers so much valuable information that you’ll want to pin or bookmark this show for later. Be sure to share it with friends! They’ll thank you. Learn:

  • What a college-prep curriculum looks like

  •  Where you can find help creating a high school transcript

  •  When you need to start the college selection process

  •  Why Lee says her two sons received full tuition scholarships

  •  Lee’s tip for increasing SAT/ACT scores, and much more!

If you are nervous about college prep education, you’ll love this show! If you know someone who isn’t sure they can homeschool high school, I hope you’ll share the show with them.

So listen to this program and enjoy! Grab some encouragement today, and share it with a friend!

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Try a Coffee Break Book One Warm Sip at a Time!

Try a Coffee Break Book One Warm Sip at a Time!

Have you tried one of my Coffee Break Books yet? Check this out!

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Dance = Exercise + PE

Dance = Exercise + PE

Stuck on What to Do for PE? Dance for joy!

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What to Do When You Need Scholarships NOW!

What to Do When You Need Scholarships NOW!

Learn about scholarships when your child starts high school. During junior year, the things you do can determine the scholarships you receive. College choice, test preparation, and application essays are the 3 biggest factors in receiving college scholarships.

What to Do When You Need Scholarships NOW!

It's much more difficult, and certainly more emotional, to stand in the middle of senior year, wondering where the money will come from. If that is you, I feel your pain! Spring of senior year is a difficult time. You know where your child has been accepted, and your child likely has a first choice university. And you don't have a clue how you can pay for it all.

Nancy approached me on Facebook and asked:
Our senior been accepted by most of the school's she applied to but her scholarship offers have not been as high as we hoped. She has applied for COUNTLESS scholarships and has not won a penny.  I am so discouraged right now. Any encouragement you can offer would be great. Also, any advice on how to negotiate for more money from colleges would be wonderful. Thank you so much! I would never have gotten this far without your products and free advice!

You CAN talk to the colleges to ask for more money. As some families decline their offers of admission, that frees up more scholarship money. For example, you can say something like, "This is our first choice college, and I would hate to disappoint my daughter, but we have 11 children to consider, not just one. We simply can't afford this college, no matter how much we love it. How can we get more scholarship money so she can attend your school?"

You can also search for other colleges that have more money to give away. If you only applied to prestigious schools, your child may look like an average applicant. If you applied to a variety of public and private schools, then your child may be the best looking candidate they see that year - and they may reward that with money. Be sure to apply for reach, fit, and safety colleges.

Those ideas are just off the top of my head, without knowing anything more about the situation. This article may help: Real Story, Real Money, Real Scholarships, about a mom who wrote a letter like this, and it was worth $8000 to her. So yes, write to the college.

It's very difficult for me to consult via FacebookTwitterPinterestGooglePlusYouTube, or Blog. As much as I would love to talk to you about these things individually, my time is so limited. As Nancy mentioned, many of my services are free. Check out all my Homeschool Freebies.  But if you need some real, personal help, join the Gold Care Club, so we can discuss it thoroughly, since it provides 20 minutes of consultation by phone or by email each week.

Learn more about the Gold Care Club.

Learn more about College Admission and Scholarships

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