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Breaking News! The SAT test will change in Spring of 2016

Breaking News!  The SAT test will change in Spring of 2016
The College Board has just announced extensive changes to the SAT, saying that both the SAT and ACT "have become disconnected from the work of our high schools."

So they are changing the test. CHANGE. I know what you're thinking. Change; that dreaded word that reminds us all about changing diapers.

What is changing on the SAT?

The test questions are different

  • NO penalty for wrong answers

  • Offered in print AND on computer at selected locations

  • Only THREE sections: Evidence-based Reading and Writing, Math, and the Essay

  • The new exam will be about 3 hours, plus 50 minutes for the Essay

  • The Essay section will be OPTIONAL

The scores will be different

  • Scoring will go back to a 400-1600 point scale

  • Reading & Writing are combined and scored on a 200-800 point scale

  • Math will be scored on a 200-800 point scale

  • The Essay reported separately

The Essay is optional

  • The Essay prompt will be shared in advance and there will be focus on the essay of analyzing a source

  • The Essay score is reported separately

  • Since colleges want the ACT test with optional essay, I suggest you take the SAT with optional essay.

The test will include more subjects

  • Math focused on 3 key areas: Problem solving and Data Analysis, Algebra, and Advanced Math

  • Problems will be grounded in real world context: in Reading & Writing, students will be asked to edit and revise texts

  • Both sections will include problems from across the curriculum (science, history, geography etc.)

  • Students will be asked to read and answer questions and do analysis in science & social studies contexts

  • An excerpt from one of America’s founding documents or "part of the great global conversation" will be included in every exam

When is it changing?

  • The first new test will arrive in Spring 2016

  • No immediate changes, and you don't have to immediately buy a new book

  • If you're taking the SAT this year or next year, you can stick with what you have been using

  • Whichever test you take, make sure to study for it: Schedule Test Preparation

  • When new study guides arrive, I tend to prefer Princeton Review materials best

Where to learn more

Executive Summary

  • The SAT is changing in 2016, now is no time to panic

  • Keep doing what you are doing

  • In fall of 2015, try to find new study guides that cover the new format

Are you in the middle of studying for the SAT with your high schooler? What are you doing to prepare?
For more information, you can ready my complete article: Big Changes Coming with the Redesigned SAT

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What Will God Teach You?

What Will God Teach You?
On Facebook I asked a simple question, "What did God teach you during your first year of homeschooling?" The number one answer? Patience, of course!

You Will Learn Patience!
Just like these moms.

"Patience!" ~ Leanne, Candace & others. Some seemed to SCREAM the answer in all caps!

"Patience, persistence, and trusting to let him lead us and guide us." ~ Angela 

"I learned to have patience and accept the will of God, because for the first two years I was in denial. Didn't want to homeschool and God used my husband to push me to homeschool. After those two years, I can say that it has been a challenge at times but over all to be thankful for Gods' purpose in our life's." ~ Areli

You Will Learn Strength!
Just like these parents.

"That I CAN do this!! Still going 9 yrs!" ~ Jennifer 

"That I can do it, even with three ADHD girls! We are still going strong 10 yrs later." ~ Debbie

"Even though my daughter was very smart; it was going to be a difficult road." ~ Jeanna

"I am capable of far more than I ever believed I was! My report cards very rarely had a grade higher than a D-, and my teachers from 5th grade on always told me I should just ride it out and not bother coming in the next day. Well, God is now telling me something the complete opposite! Our son is zooming through his lessons, doing everything I was in the 4th grade, and he'll be just 5 in December! God is always blessing us." ~ Sara

So many people explained that they feel weak, but through Christ they were strong enough. Remember that Philippians4:13 says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

You Will Learn Faith!
Just like these folks.

"Clearly, I am not in control." ~ Chris

"That I'm not in charge." ~ Courtney

"It's all His plan not mine!" ~ Melissa 

"That we're doing this because He wants us to." ~ Michelle

"It's His plan that matters most." ~ Samantha

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Make sure my heart is right before I teach my children." ~ Lois

"That He will walk me through what He called me to do. I began homeschooling my daughter in 3rd grade, after years of saying "I will n.e.v.e.r homeschool!". We're in our 8th year, and it's all thanks to God!" ~ Becky 

"That there was NO WAY that I was going to be successful without Him... NO WAY!" ~ Ginger 

Like it says in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I can be a challenge, at times, to have faith that we can't mess up God's plan.

You Will Learn to Prioritize!
Just like these families.

"Don't do family life around your homeschool, do home school around your family life." ~ Contina 

"Teaching our kids His ways is more important than any "school" subject." ~ Harvey

"To appreciate how awesome my kids are! It's not all about academics. We get to amazing things together and enjoy our time together. I am so thankful to be homeschooling!" ~ Kelly 

"To relax, after all, it's just first grade! Enjoy the time spent with them!" ~ Tricia 

You Will Learn Flexibility!
Just like Gumby!

"I have always been highly organized, but often it was at the expense of flexibility." ~ Lee

"That I didn't need to have all the boxes checked off at the end of the day." ~ Beverly 

"There are so many things to learn that are not written in books. Be flexible."  ~ Brenda

"To give Grace and be FLEXIBLE!  We've come a LONG way in 5 years!" ~ Heather

"You do not have to finish every page of every book!" ~ Mandy

"There is no right or wrong way. Just our way." ~ Amanda 

"To relax, be flexible and always be willing to learn from each other." ~ Irene

This is a difficult time of year to homeschool, when winter makes everything bleak and dark.  Try to take a step back, and remember that even in the midst of challenges, you are learning, and growing, and it WILL get easier as you learn these lessons gradually over time.

For more encouragement, consider this short ebook "Creating Homeschool Balance." And watch this free class, “Homeschooling: Discovering How and Why it Works” with Dr. Jay Wile. Why Homeschool Works.

What did YOU learn when your first year homeschooling? Please leave a comment and share your story!


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Winter Fun for the Little Ones

Winter Fun for the Little Ones
It looks like it's going to be a LONG winter. Do you feel like you've already had your fill of snow? Maybe these ideas will help you maintain your sanity!  There are lots of fun things to do in the winter with little ones. Try to keep them busy and life will be easier!  Check out these fun ideas to try with your family.

Make Snowflakes

12 Gorgeous Paper Snowflake Designs for all ages!

Snowflake Ballerinas for Little Hands. Especially for girl!

Star Wars Snowflakes. My boys would have loved this at any age!

3D Paper Snowflakes. Great for figural and spatial thinking!

Snowman Crafts  

Paper Doll Snowman. Fun to dress up and play with!

Yummy Marshmallow Snowmen to make and eat.

Sock Snowmen Tutorial. Sock puppets with white socks

Read about Snow

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats for early elementary

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder for later elementary

Call of the Wild by Jack London for junior high and high school

Play in the Snow 

Make Pretend Snow - 3 kinds to make at home.

Snow Play Activities - fun indoor activities


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Letters of Recommendation for Homeschoolers

Letters of Recommendation for Homeschoolers
How to get great letters of recommendation for your homeschooler.

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

Grab the NEW HomeScholar Book!
"Honey, There's a Crazed Mob of Scholarship-Wielding Colleges Pounding on Our Front Door!!"

While we can't promise that this will happen to you, "The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships" really is a treasure trove for college bound homeschoolers and their parents! This paperback book is available now on Amazon. Grab your copy today!

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Homeschoolers Grow Up!

Homeschoolers Grow Up!

My 5 year plan for ensuring family harmony.

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How Do I Teach Subjects I Don't Know?

How Do I Teach Subjects I Don't Know?

Strategies on teaching subjects that you as the parents haven't mastered.


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Teaching Your Dyslexic Student

Teaching Your Dyslexic Student

Strategies for teaching your child with learning difficulties.

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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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The Problem with Homeschoolers

The Problem with Homeschoolers

One of the biggest problems with homeschool parents and how to avoid it.

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Can You Help Me Make Homeschool Record Keeping Easy?

Can You Help Me Make Homeschool Record Keeping Easy?

A super easy way to keep high school records. (I promise!)

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Schedule Free Time

Schedule Free Time

I always encourage parents to schedule free time.

We worked our heavy academic subjects 4 days a week.  The 5th day was when we focused more on delight directed learning.  In elementary school, the 5th day was when we went to the park, or roller skating, or met with friends.  In high school, that was the day for my children to do special projects, or work on their electives. They had to get their math and foreign language done in the morning, to make sure they didn’t fall behind.  After that, the day was free to work on their electives – which meant that each week we had a really exciting and successful day, encouraging our children to do what they loved.

My oldest son loves chess.  He spent time studying chess, becoming nationally ranked.  He also taught chess classes to homeschool groups, private schools, and at inner city after school programs.  My younger son loves politics and economics.  He spent time studying subjects independently.  Eventually he was offered a job as a research assistant at a public policy think tank, and was active in politics and economics there.

Remember Mr. Roger's Neighborhood?  Fred Rogers said, "Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serous learning.  But for children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of Childhood." At the high school level, play is delight directed learning, and a source of high school electives.


Learn how to homeschool with confidence with my Preparing to  Homeschool High School DVD.  It will help take the fear away.
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Ideas for Volunteer Leadership and Community Service

Ideas for Volunteer Leadership and Community Service

My Facebook Friends helped me create this great list!

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Homeschool Yearbook Solution

Homeschool Yearbook Solution
My writer and editor Jill Bell just graduated her high school senior (congratulations, Jill!)  I asked her to write a review of Total Yearbooks so I could see how it would work for a real homeschooler.  Guess what?  She LOVED it!  Read her review and see for yourself - this could be the solution for your homeschool yearbook too!

Total Yearbooks Review


If you’re like many homeschool moms, the photos you’ve taken of your family over the years are languishing somewhere in a box, or nowadays are more likely to be sitting in a folder on your desktop, not even printed out yet!  You envy your friends who display fabulous, colorful scrapbooks or baby books, complete with journaling and beautiful color photos embellished with the latest doohickeys.  Where do they find the time (not to mention the money) to do those things?!  Surely you must be a terrible mother, because you won’t have a beautiful baby book to hand over to your future daughter-in-law, or a great high school yearbook to share at your son’s upcoming graduation party.  What to do?


Although I have managed to produce a few scrapbooks of my children, and I even print out a few photos every so often at the local drug store, I am not the queen of memory-making, and I really wish I had some other ways to capture and record these fleeting memories of our family time together before my kids fly off to new nests.


When the opportunity to try out a new online resource for creating photo books came along, I decided to give it a try!  Total Yearbooks ( is an online program that allows you to upload your photos and create a variety of picture books, with over 100 page templates and multiple text options to choose from.  I decided to create that high school graduation yearbook (mentioned above), and chose a large (12 x 12) 20-page book option.  It was easy to upload my photos from my desktop, drop them into the templates I chose, and then add the text I wanted (the ‘Help’ button at the top of the page answered most of the questions I had as well).  The process didn’t require me to have sophisticated computer skills (good), or tons of time (really good), and the results—well let me just say WOW!  After placing my order (and the prices are quite reasonable), my yearbook arrived a few days later in the mail.  The quality of photo paper, the hard cover durability, and the clarity of the photos was pretty impressive!


Although I didn’t choose this option, you can even make your creations available for purchase online, and make a little profit!  I could see a homeschool club or class creating a yearbook here, and making it available for others to purchase as a fundraiser!  You can also share your photos from this website with family and friends, in a password-protected environment.  All in all, this is a great website, and I encourage everyone to try it out!


Jill Bell, Editor at The HomeScholar


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Scared to Start

Scared to Start

We had so many friends who were homeschooling, that it seemed only natural for us to homeschool too. Still, we were hesitant (SCARED!). My children entered the public school system, and we kept waiting for it to meet the needs of our children, but it just didn’t.  After a few years, I realized I could do a better job with both hands tied behind my back, so we took the plunge.  We began to homeschool for academic reasons, trying to keep my gifted children challenged.  It quickly became obvious that homeschooling solved our problem of socialization.  My shy child became much more confident and outgoing.  My head-strong child stopped being a bully and became pleasantly outgoing.

If you are nervous about starting to homeschool too, perhaps these articles will encourage you:

A New Beginning: Homeschooling High School for Freaked Out and Terrified Parents

Taming Middle School Anxiety

Subscribe to my YouTube channel.  You’ll  get notified when I create new videos on homeschool high school topics!
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