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Making School Fun!

I tried to incorporate games into our homeschool whenever possible. My kids didn't enjoy many of the hands-on projects that we did, but they do love playing games. After a while I gave up trying to find unit study projects that they enjoyed, and I focused more on what they loved - games. We played math games, art games, economics games. They would giggle when I wrote on the assignment sheet "Play 30 minutes of Masterpiece" or "Play SAT Game." Making homeschooling fun is a great way to instill the love of learning.


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The Best Advice in Every Situation

The best advice in the world never changes: Know your child and trust yourself. You will figure out what's best, you can make these decisions. Nobody knows your child like you do. Nobody loves your child like you do. Nobody wants the best for your child the way that you do. You were made for this purpose. You are the perfect person for this job and for this decision you are facing now.


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Math for the Artistically Inclined

I have noticed (non-scientific poll) that the artsy type tend to enjoy geometry more than algebra. If you are dealing with a lot of frustration with algebra, then geometry may be a bit easier (probably depending on the geometry text.) Geometry can apply to art in a way that algebra.... well.... can't.

There is actually a lot of art in Jacob's Geometry, by the way. Although I notice it was also heavy on logic, so check it out and see if it is the right match for you!


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501 Writing Prompts

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to judge your student's writing quality, I liked the book "501 Writing Prompts" by Learning Express. It has (remarkably!) 501 prompts that you can use, but the great part is the sample essays! About every 25 or 50 essays, they will show a what a student essay would look like with that topic. They will give a perfect example, a middle-quality example, and an example of what NOT to do. That really helped me because I'm a visual learner, and I really needed to see for myself what a good essay would look like. Don't feel like you have to "grade" your kids essays, however. The grades aren't that important. What's important is practice.


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Geometry, Trig and Calculus - Oh My!

Geometry, Trig and Calculus - Oh My!

Geometry is the basis for trigonometry, which is the building block for calculus. You have to understand the angles of a triangle to get to sine, cosine, and tangent. Many college majors require math, even those your might not expect, and you don't always know ahead of time what major your child will choose 4 years from now. That's why I think that math is important - and that includes geometry.The geometry most of us remember from high school is "formal" geometry with proofs. Saxon approaches geometry in a more integrated fashion, combining it with other discipline - mixing it up a bit.

Our engineering professor friend says that there is a huge and growing deficit of kids that can do math - which has led to a decline in engineers and scientists. This is something they talk about at their professional engineering conventions, because it's a huge problem nationwide that affects our national security and national economy. This is something that engineers get very worked up about it :-) See more of my friend's comments here.

If your child gets frustrated by words, have them look at Saxon for math. It's mostly numbers, which can sometimes be encouraging to kids that hate reading and writing.

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College for the Learning Challenged

Don't be overly concerned about getting into college if your student has a learning challenge. Colleges are used to dealing with these issues. There are a lot of colleges that SPECIALIZE in dealing with such students. At a recent college fair, I was amazed at how many colleges used this as their "come on" line. I know a homeschooled young man who was very good at math and extremely below grade level in verbal abilities, and he got into a nationally ranked engineering school.Don't be discouraged if your student has a learning challenge. Your student can have a bright future in college! Continue to encourage the areas where they are strong and look for a college that will support their areas of weakness.

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Home School Education - Studying for CLEP Exams

You don't have to spend a lot of money on test preparation for the CLEP exams. Any edition of the CLEP Official Study Guide will work well for test preparation, even if the version is not current. These tests rarely change ("rarely" measured in years) so unless it's a brand new subject, or something that changes a lot over time (like computer science) then you can use the older version of the test prep guides. When we studied for it, we used editions that we QUITE old, and it worked out just fine. You can save money WHILE saving money on the CLEP.You can purchase some CLEP study resources, as well as some other great resources here on my website.


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Homeschool Driver's Ed - To Grade or Not To Grade

I sometimes get questions on how to grade a student's drivers education. With my boys I simply put "pass" because I had read a book that suggested it. Since that time, I've read other books that suggest to grade it, and other books that suggest you leave it off the transcript all together. Based on all of that information, I'd say that it's completely and totally 100% your preference about driver's ed. Keep in mind that if a college doesn't want to use that grade, they will just drop it. Colleges often take the classes they LIKE and figure the gpa of those grades only. With that in mind, anything you do for driver's ed class will be fine. So really, it's your call and what YOU want to do.Blessings,
The HomeScholar
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Recent Comments
Lee Binz
Hi H! Lee typically recommends that you include Driver's Ed on your transcript as an elective, but you certainly don't have to. In... Read More
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 20:17
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Homeschool College - Courting the Colleges

When planning college applications with your student, you will often have specific questions that you would like to get answered. Sometimes there are easy "yes/no" type questions that will be consistent from college to college. More often than not, however, the answer may vary depending on the college. Take for example the question on whether a college will still consider your student a freshman if they have an AA degree and more than 90 credits. Some colleges take a hard line at the 90 credits. Others will show some flexibility. The best approach to these types of questions is to call the admissions office directly and ask. This approach does a number of things, all of which are good. Most apparent, it will get you the answers you need to tailor your plans for the specific colleges you are interested in. What is less apparent, however, is that by asking the question, you are showing the college that you are seriously interested in them.

I have have often said, the college application process is like a courting dance. In order to get them interested in you, you sometimes have to show you are interested in them! Asking clarifying questions is a great way to demonstrate your interest. Believe me, colleges pay attention to the families that are asking application and admissions questions!

So go ahead and call. Better yet, get your student to call. Later, they might just recognize your name when they see your application!

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College Admission - Letter of Recommendation Tips

Some people who write letters of recommendation for our children may not be aware of the standard format of a recommendation. The college will want to know about the person giving the recommendation - their name, title, contact information, etc. Here are some links that may help you to see some samples: In general you're looking at something liked this:

Recommender's name
Recommender's address
Today's date Dear College Name (OR To Whom it May Concern)Paragraph One is identifying the student, and how the recommender has come to know the student.

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Home School Education - Misty, water-colored memorization...

...of the way we were....Did you ever have to memorize anything in high school? Don't remember? I did, and to this day I can still annoy my family with "No Man is an Island"! Memorization isn't a the most critical skill, but it can be fun. Choose a poem or a scripture, and try it for yourself.

When we began, I didn't actual think that memorization was that important, so I set my sights pretty low. I began with deciding that my kids would merely read the same passage each day of the week for three weeks. I wasn't trying for the goal of memorization at all, I was just trying to give them an "ear" for good literature. What I found out really surprised me! About two weeks into this process, I found that the boys had memorized much of the passage. By three weeks they could say it completely by heart! Later in our homeschool career, they were able to memorize large portions of scripture just by reading it aloud daily to me. I was amazed - I didn't know the human brain worked like that!

Try it, and see if it's fun for your own homeschool!

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Homeschooling Curriculum - Family Math Fun

When my children were younger, I tried to find ways to make learning fun. One of the things we did through elementary school was to play a math game a few times a week. We found great math games in Family Math. It is a $20 book that is appropriate for multiple children, kindergarten to 8th grade. You can find it at curriculum fairs, but also at regular bookstores and the library. It is a book of games and activities for teaching and improving math skills for K-8th grade. All of the activities are low-cost or no-cost. It has reproducible games to copy. Having dice is helpful. We used dry beans or macaroni for our game markers. Each game indicates whether it is for primary, intermediate, or middle school kids. My kids played the same games together. You can play it with your child, or have them play together after you show them how. Some of the activities are "games" with a winner, but other things are just learning activities (like determining surface area and volume using sugar cubes.)Each week when I made their math assignment, I figure out what topic was being taught. I looked up the key words (one week I looked up pi, circumference, and geometry) in the index of the Family Math book. There is usually a selection of games and activities to choose from. This way they are doing math manipulatives that are about the lesson they are learning. One of my frustrations with geoboards or cuisinaire rods was that they are not applicable to most of the lessons they are learning. One week my older son began proportions, and I found a game called "Gorp", where you roll a dice to determine different proportions for the gorp ingredients. For younger kids, there are lots of fun games for learning place value, and using basic math facts. It also has activities for money, time, calendar and measuring. One word of warning - the games look a little intimidating in the book sometimes. I took a class on Family Math when I first began homeschooling. The teacher recommended that when you begin a game that you are not familiar with, force yourself to follow the directions just as they are written, and by the time you are near the end of the directions, the game WILL make sense. I did not have the "Gorp" game demonstrated to me, but I followed the directions like she said, and it worked. It became their favorite game!

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Christian Homeschooling - Reading Comprehension (or...Read this Post Twice)

Reading comprehension was a huge concern when my sons were in 9th grade. I thought - and worried - about it a lot. The thing that frustrated me was that my kids would interact with the books they read (laughing at the funny parts, for example) but when it came time for "reading comprehension questions" they didn't seem to do very well. I ultimately decided that for us, having my child understand the book meant interacting with the book. I decided that reading comprehension questions weren't the best gauge of real understanding. To learn more about this idea, you might want to read Ruth Beechick's book, "You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully."

It is most important that your student is encouraged to read and write at their own level. Whether they are above or below their grade level is not nearly as significant. Once your child knows the mechanics it probably just boils down to practice. Encourage your child to write every day.

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Homeschooling Younger Children - Girding Your Loins for High School!

Use 7th and 8th grade as your "high school training time." Not so your kids can working at high school, it so you can work on how you THINK about high school. When my kids were that age, I would think about how many hours we spent on activities, I would think about the different class titles that I could use for different experiences. 7th and 8th grade is also a perfect time to be planning ahead for the job in front of you. Buy a book about homeschooling high school, take classes at the convention, and get my video if it would be helpful. That way when you get to high school you won't be afraid. It's all about avoiding fear, and planning ahead is the best way to do that. Don't wait to become fearful and THEN plan or seek help, because that's where the tears start!My favorite book for this age range is:
Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook: Preparing Your 12- to 18-Year-Old for a Smooth Transition It was broad enough, and not too deep, so that it was a good introduction. Some of the other books out there are so in-depth and intense that it can be very overwhelming.

So there you go, that's about 5 minutes of my first video right there, for free! LOL! Take care, and give me a call or an email if you need help.

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Home School Education - On-line High School?

If you are considering online programs for high school, ask yourself a question: Is this how my child learns best? The success your student with online courses is largely dependent on their learning style.

You shouldn't feel like you MUST do online schools for high school, however. Colleges, in general, understand homeschooling and they understand homeschool transcripts and grades. There is no reason to feel like you have to do an online school just so they will be somehow "official." I really suggest that parents retain their independence, so that they can choose materials that best fit their child.

Parents always know what is best for their children. Trust your instincts and move forward.


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