Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Review: Preparing to Homeschool High School DVD 2nd Edition

You will find that I'm selective in sharing reviews and don't promote or write reviews of products that I don't absolutely believe in. Yet, when I find one with inherent value and worth, I simply can't help looking for ways to shout it from the rooftop! This is one of those times. . .

What parent hasn't questioned their ability to homeschool through highschool and wondered how doing so would impact their child's ability to get into and succeed in college? It can be a frightening undertaking!

Preparing to Homeschool Highschool takes the fear factor out of the equation! Nearly 4 hours and 18 pages of notes later, this DVD delivered exceptional information, encouragement, and empowerment for tackling those high school years!

Lee warmly invites you to grab a cup of coffee or tea as you sit down with her DVD, but I want to enthusiastically add a plea that you also grab a pen and notepad because this presentation is so chock full of information that you'll want to take copious notes from the moment you click "play".

Lee Binz, a.k.a The HomeScholar, skillfully leads you to tackle and release the fears of homeschooling, gear up and prepare with strategies of success, invest in your weaknesses, learn to choose curriculum wisely, and walks you step-by-step through the stages of planning, understanding the typical requirements of each subject, the do's and don't of record keeping and giving grades, the basics of transcripts and determining credits, and helps you make sense of those scary highschool and college tests (PSAT-NMSQT, PSAT, SAT, ACT, CLEP, AP).

It is an amazing amount of information, presented in a manner that is easy to understand, leaving you confident that you can do absolutely do this!

As the saying goes "Failing to plan, is planning to fail!". Don't let those highschool years find you clueless and unprepared. This outstanding DVD is a great asset for any homeschool parent who is ready to meet the challenge and embrace the privilege of homeschooling through highschool!

Highschool IS coming. . .will YOU be ready?

Find *Preparing to Homeschool Highschool* along with many of Lee's other helpful resources by visiting her website The Homescholar!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guest Post - Welcome Joyce Herzog!

Today's guest is speaker and author, Joyce Herzog. Joyce's passion is helping people learn the way they learn best! You can visit her on the web here to learn more about what she has to offer including Learning Without Labels, Luke's Lists, Timeless Teaching Tips and more!

~ Goals and Goal Setting ~

A parent recently wrote, “We seem to bounce around and never feel we have accomplished anything. Can you help?” Here is my answer: You have already taken the first steps toward a solution. You have recognized that there is a problem, verbalized it, and asked for help. I’m impressed. From here on, it gets easier.

One of the best motivators is seeing progress. It is impossible to see progress unless you set achievable and measurable goals. Not every skill can be so charted, but it is important to chart some goals in order to see movement. Without such goals, it is more likely that learning will be unfocused and unrecognized. That often leads to a feelings you are experiencing of being stalled and ineffective.

You are feeling a need for some structure in your life and homeschool. That doesn’t mean that you should switch to a regulated curriculum or begin to bring school home. On the contrary, such a major jump would probably be so restrictive that you would bounce back in reaction. It’s better to just set some long term and short term goals.

In the academic areas, get a scope and sequence from a reputable curriculum publisher (or look at my own Luke’s School List). This is a list of skills or concepts covered, usually grade level by grade level, listed in order presented. It is available at no cost from most curriculum publishers. World Book Encyclopedia also publishes one online. There are also books which give an idea of what can be taught at each grade level - or what must be covered in the elementary grades, middle school ages and high schools. Though I personally resist too much restriction by age and grade level since God made each of us so unique, I have also written a mini-book on SIMPLIFIED Homeschool and Recordkeeping which contains a scope and sequence for kindergarten through sixth grade. Use one of these as a guide to choose some topics to approach in the coming months.

It is not always possible to determine ahead how long the study of a given topic will take, but it is helpful to have a sequence so that you can be gathering materials for future studies when you notice them. Keep a drawer or a file cabinet ready to organize these finds so they’ll be ready when you are. Keep note also of library books which address the topic, questions that come up that you’ll want to research, and articles you come across in magazines or on the internet. Jot down ideas for possible field trips. I find that sometimes under pressure, these ideas remain hidden in the vast recesses of my brain, but when I least need them they are jumping out, ready for attention. Keep future topics in the front of your mind and jot down the ideas as you find them and file them immediately. They will start you thinking in the right direction long before deadlines threaten.

It is also helpful to involve the children in goal setting. Ask their opinion when choosing topics, methods of study, and the manner of showing effort and progress. Be willing to compromise where possible, but remember that you are ultimately the one held responsible for their education.

In a given study, make a list of skills to be mastered, facts to be memorized, jobs to be done, or books to be read. Turn the list into a chart ready to date, mark off, or award a sticker when the job is done or the skill is mastered. Seeing the chart fill up is very rewarding and keeps efforts directed. Do allow diversions when they are important; just add them to the chart so you can still see progress and direction. The important thing is to structure a way to document accomplishments. You might make a chart per month, per quarter, per semester or even per year… Probably for most of us monthly or quarterly is best.

Another way to see progress is to have the children make an informal record of their present level of development, and repeat the same activity every three to six months. I often had my children list ten words they could spell, write a story or paragraph and make up and solve one problem for each aspect of math they were familiar with (addition, subtraction, decimals, money, fractions, etc.). This gave me a running record of their handwriting, spelling, and math and, indirectly, their reading level as well. Perhaps a better evaluation of their reading would be to have them list three of the best books they have read since the last time they did this. Be sure they put their name and date on this paper! Keep them in sequential order, most recent on top, in a section of the child’s portfolio and refer to them occasionally. You will be amazed at how easy it is to see maturation and skill in this simple way.

Some progress can be best recorded through taking photos. Photograph large projects, presentations, and field trips. Then have the children enter the photos in an album and add captions. These will be great for recordkeeping, reminiscing and sharing with interested friends and relatives. Writing captions provides meaningful opportunity for practicing handwriting, improving spelling, and formulating thoughts into sentences and paragraphs. And it’s more fun than an assignment for the sake of an assignment.

Setting goals and posting them in front of you keeps you directed and goal oriented. I find sticky notes invaluable for keeping current goals in the front of my mind. I love to write “DONE” on top of goals, and even enjoy discarding the stickies when I complete all the tasks on them. You might prefer to date the stickies and keep them in your child’s portfolio. Whatever way you choose, the key is to keep goals in the front of your mind so that they do not become neglected and forgotten before they are finished. No one finishes everything he starts, but you can always make improvements by setting goals, keeping them in front of you, and charting progress on a regular basis.

© 2010 by Joyce Herzog. Used with permission.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guest Post - Welcome Lee Binz!

Our guest today is Lee Binz, aka The HomeScholar. If you don't know who she is YET, then I am delighted to have the pleasure of introducing her to you! Lee has graduated 2 sons from homeschool and both are successfully attending the colleges of their choice with scholarships. Lee is a wealth of information and support for homeschooling during the high school years and I know you will find her sharing encouraging and empowering!

Homeschool Highschool: Four Years - Four Goals

It can be overwhelming. After years of happily homeschooling young children, parents look at high school and suddenly panic. Record keeping, transcripts, courses, credits, and tests! Those things are challenging, I'll admit, but they really aren't a matter of life and death. They are just discrete, manageable tasks that you can complete one at a time. When you strip away all the fluff and meringue, you are really left with just one major goal each year. There are only four key goals in the four years of high school.

Freshman Year: Think about College

During freshman year, all you have to do is think about college. Students vary, and teens will often change their minds. College seems like a long way off, too! But when you begin high school thinking about college, then life for the next four years will be much easier. College preparation allows for maximum flexibility. No matter how many times your child changes career plans, you will be ready for anything. Thinking about college can help if your child goes to college, of course. However, if your child does not go to college, no harm is done. You simply end up with a well educated adult, ready to take on the world.

Think about college by learning how to homeschool high school. Take classes and read books that will help you learn about course selection and record keeping. Begin to talk with your child about college preparation. Focus on core subjects like reading, writing, math, history and science. Teach your child at their level and they will be very well prepared in 4 years. Don't worry about the past or the future, but today keep doing what works. Seek help and guidance if you need it.

Sophomore Year: Prepare for College

Sophomore year is the time to prepare for college. Your homeschool should still remain the same warm and loving learning environment it has always been. Preparing does not mean transforming your happy homeschool into a military academy or Socratic classroom. Instead, the best preparation will occur when you continue to use what has worked for you in the past. Move forward with the curriculum that has been working, and make adjustments with the problems you identify. Keep forward momentum with confidence.

Within the context of your family school, prepare for college by taking two specific steps in sophomore year. First, begin a foreign language if you haven’t already. Colleges like to see two or three years of a single foreign language in high school. For homeschoolers, it may be a source of great fear, and some put it off. Prepare for college by making sure you begin a foreign language in sophomore year. Second, prepare for college by taking the PSAT for fun. This is the first college admission assessment test, and it will help your child prepare for college. The PSAT will put your students name in front of colleges that want homeschoolers! It’s a thrill to receive mail from a college, and can encourage parent and student alike.

Junior Year: Find a College

The focal point of junior year is finding some colleges where you want to apply. Although you could quickly choose by throwing darts on a map or only looking only close by, I don’t advise it. Sure, you've chosen a college, but it could be a disastrous choice. An unsuitable college and a mismatch with your family values is a very expensive mistake. Instead, choose colleges with a step-by-step approach.

To achieve your goal of finding a handful of appropriate colleges, the first step is to go to a college fair. Similar to a homeschool convention, it’s a quick and easy way to learn a lot about many colleges in a short amount of time. Step two is taking the PSAT in October of junior year. Step three is taking time to visit colleges during the year, so you can eliminate poor choices from your list. The fourth step is taking the SAT or ACT in the spring, which can help you determine the right college fit academically and financially.

Senior Year: Apply for College

During senior year, the main goal is completing college applications. Applying early for college can improve your chance of admission and financial aid. Just like Tax Day on April 15th, college application deadlines are immovable, inflexible, and have financial consequences. In addition, applying for college is not at all like applying for a job at McDonalds! It takes a lot of time, and there is a lot of work involved.

Applying for college will require long and thoughtful essays. Letters of recommendation will take time to acquire, even from willing and helpful writers. The application itself is quite complex and takes a while to complete. Each application must include your homeschool records: a transcript, possibly a reading list, and perhaps course descriptions as well. For best results with maximum financial aid, apply early and often. Apply for a handful of acceptable colleges, carefully watching deadlines and following the fine print. Applying for college doesn’t end with admission. It continues with additional correspondence regarding financial aid. It’s a prolonged task, but worth the effort.

Dramatic Changes

Each year of high school your child will mature by leaps and bounds. As a newborn is dramatically different from a four year old, it is also true that a freshman will barely resemble a high school senior. Children grow up so fast, and mature very quickly over the four years of high school. Be prepared for anything, so your children can attend a college that will meet their family and career goals. Focus on the one goal for each year of high school. Don’t get lost in the details, and don’t worry about the future, just focus on the task at hand.

Freshmen think about college, sophomores plan for college, juniors find a college and seniors apply to college. Have a great year THIS year. Next year you can work on the next goal, but for now just focus on the one step before you.

Copyright © 2010 The HomeScholar ( Text may be reprinted without permission if used in full, including the bio box (below) and this copyright, except for use in a book or other publication for rent or sale.

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar helps parents
homeschool for high school and is a leading internet home school resource helping parents homeschool to college.   You can find Lee online at

P.S. Be sure to check back next week to read my detailed review of Lee's DVD - "Preparing to Homeschool Highschool".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guest Post - Welcome Malia Russell!

Today's guest is Malia Russell, mother of 5, homeschooler for a decade, and director of Homemaking 911.

I had the pleasure of attending Malia's *Marriage 911* Workshop a while back, and was encouraged by her gentle, truthful sharing in this area, thus I am delighted to have her share this blessing with you as well!

 ~ Marriage 911 – A Workshop for Women ~
12 Principles to Redeem Your Marriage

For years our marriage limped along- some good times, some bad times and some downright terrible times.  About ten years ago I suddenly became aware that what I thought about marriage was unbiblical and flat out damaging.  Through reading the Bible, mentoring and prayer, I realized I had responsibilities as a godly wife.  By doing these things,whether or not I really felt like it, and whether or not my husband was doing anything different, I would lead a life pleasing to the Lord.  As an amazing bonus, the power of the Holy Spirit has completely transformed our marriage into one of mutual respect, love, passion, and a genuine friendship.  I recently shared the following workshop at a local conference and am pleased to offer it absolutely free to Tina's readers.  There is no catch, no newsletter sign-up required, and no cost to you. 

You can download this workshop from our store at the following link:

When you check out, use the coupon code:  SOL911
*Offer is good one month from today!*

It is my prayer that this workshop will be a blessing to you and your family.

Happy Homemaking!
Malia Russell

Visit Malia at her website - Homemaking 911  for inspiration, encouragement and practical help in your roles as a godly wife, mother, homemaker or home educator. Be sure to check out some of her other great resources while you are there!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Guest Post - Welcome Susan Lemons!

My first guest this week is Susan Lemons, author of Homepreschool and Beyond. Susan, a homeschool mother of four, brings to you a wealth of information on homeschooling in the early years with a focus on relationship, routine, readiness, and reading aloud. Today she delivers a practical dose of wisdom on maintaining balance as Moms. . .

Goals for the Balanced Mom ~

This is a list of goals I am going to post on my fridge this year. I hope they will help me become a more balanced mom. Maybe they'll help you, too.

1. Relationships come first. I'm going to work on building stronger relationships between my children and the Lord; myself and the Lord; my children and myself, as well as between siblings. (Make the main thing the main thing.)

2. Character: I'm going to help my children develop Godly character and habits through example, training, reading, and discussion. Specific goals: I want to emphasize loving others, being considerate of others (the Golden Rule), working cheerfully, and consistent obedience.

3. Routine: Settling in to a simple daily routine of what comes next will help me accomplish my daily goals and keep me sane. I'm going to work at being more consistent and sticking to all my routines this year, including my homemaking routines.

4. Readiness: I am going to observe my children carefully, watching for signs of readiness and emerging skills/abilities. I want to encourage without pushing.

5. Reading aloud: This year I want to double the amount of time we spend reading aloud. We are going to read chapter books after lunch, and before bed. Books on my reading list: Charlotte's Web, Mouse and the Motorcycle, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, A House Inside Out, Mr. Popper's Penguins, My Father's Dragon, Misty of Chincoteague, Encyclopedia Brown, various animal books written by Thorton Burgess, Kildee House, and more.

6. The fun stuff: This year I want to make sure to allow enough time for play, art, music, science play/experiments, and the other "fun stuff". My goals are to provide art for my children at least two days a week, learning games three days a week, and music five days a week.

7. Play: I'm going to make sure my children get plenty of outside play---everyday, if possible. I'll encourage their play by playing with them and by providing play props (cardboard boxes to make a city, sidewalk chalk, bouncy balls, jump ropes, etc.)

8. Nature: I’m going to spend more time outside doing nature study with my kids. We'll start in our own backyard with the book, One Small Square: Backyard, and then move out from there.

9. Academic goals: Our general academic goals include continuing to grow a simple a base of knowledge about the world; reviewing past concepts learned; developing a large vocabulary; lengthening their attention spans, and mastering the three R’s.

10. Friday School: Friday school is going to be special and different from the other days of the week at our house. Fridays are set aside for life skills (housework), field trips, park days, nature walks, messy art projects, socializing (having friends over to play or do school projects together), and so on.

11. Eternal perspective: I aim to keep an eternal perspective, remembering that there is NOTHING more important I could be doing with my time right now than staying at home and teaching my children. I will remind myself that what I am doing has eternal implications.

If the Lord tarries, our "daily grind" may have implications for hundreds of years to come. Even if the Lord comes back soon (which I fully expect), our lives will have influenced other eternal souls (our children.) May He find our lives pleasing to Him. May He see that our children know Him. I hope to be able to stand before the Lord someday, unashamed of what I have taught my children--through word and through deed.

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Used with permission. You can read and learn more by visiting Susan at her blog Homepreschool and Beyond.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guest Week at Seasons of Learning!

This week I am excited to be hosting a special "Guest Week" here at Seasons of Learning!

I have invited a select few of my favorite authors and/or speakers to share a guest post here for my readers in hopes of blessing you by way of encouraging and helpful, relevant information for the homeschooling family!

We'll have topics covering preschool to highschool and everything in between. So be sure to check back each day to see who'll be sharing their passion and expertise with us!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wedding Day!

Yep, "wedding day" for one of my own precious children! My oldest "baby" was married in October! (and of course, I would have undoubtedly had pictures up much sooner but blogger and my dial-up have become incompatible, argh!)

But back to the joyful event. . .It's hard to believe she is all grown up and has a family of her own now. Seems like just yesterday, I held her in my arms for the first time. Sniff, sniff. . .

Aside from a slight bit of rain that prevented us from getting any outdoor photos on the beautiful landscape of the church, it was a blessed, perfect day. Dd strived for well-done wedding on a reasonable budget and planned every detail down to table settings, candles, and every decoration elsewhere. She chose wonderfully for catering, cake, dj, photographer, etc. It was a huge undertaking and she managed it flawlessly.

Well, I could continue to babble on, but as they say "a picture is worth a thousand words", so I thought I just share a couple. . .or perhaps, a select few more than a couple!
The beautiful bride!

all my girls

the gals at her side

me and my beautiful girls
(wow! they are all growing up so fast!)

little man all decked out

oh, please don't rain!

I don't know, it wasn't me!

junior maid of honor

flower girl and ring bearer (my grandson)

ring bearer

the walk down the aisle

still walking. . .
pastor and couple

maid of honor (my dd's best friend since they were tots)
and flower girl

all the girls

I now pronounce you husband and wife!

goofing off for the camera :)

bride and groomsmen

the happy couple and maternal grandmother

ring bear (he was hard to capture for pic's that day!)

bride and maid of honor

bride and junior bridesmaid

bride and flower girl

the crew (and our very own "wedding singer"!)
hubby, me and the happy couple

hubby, me and the beautiful bride

the family
Mamma and the girls
my precious girls!

Mamma and my girls again :)

be nice :)

the cake 

And just a few of the handmade adornments. . . 
vases for bridal party table

flowers that adorned the aisle

flower girl basket, gift boxes, flowers for bridal party

May the Good Lord bless them with a lifetime of love and happiness and may they always remember to cherish one another!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vaccine Awareness Week Nov. 1 - 7

The ever growing list of recommended vaccines should raise a red flag of concern for every citizen, particularly when so many of them are directed at our children. No doubt it's a very profitable market and an area that each of us should strive to be educated in. Thus, I thought some of you might be interested in learning more during this designated vaccine awareness week.
National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) site link. . .

A link on Hep B in infants to get you started. . .

And an informational PDF. . .49 doses of 14 vaccines before age 6?

How to Legally Avoid Unwanted Immunizations of All Kinds pamphlet. . .
Ask 8 Questions. . .

Please pass this information or a post link on to your friends and loved ones.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chapter by Chapter - Educating the Wholehearted Child Ch. 5

This one chapter could have easily made a small book on it's own accord! Covering just about every subject imaginable - it was chock full of ideas, suggestions, and encouragement for teaching your children and I'm convinced I couldn't do it justice by trying to sum it up with a simple post - so. . .instead, I thought I'd pull some of the key ideas and points that focus on the subject of reading and narration.

This issue is dear to my heart as my own dd has endured an arduous battle in learning to read and learning in general. Though I feel we are definitely coming up the mountain now and can see the sun shining - the road has been steep and wrought with frustration and tears. As a parent, the anguish of watching your child struggle with something that comes so easy to most, is at times unbearable. The mother in you wants so much to fix it, to make it all better - you know - like the magic we have when kissing boo-boo's and hurts away. Life's just not fair sometimes - is it?

Anywho, off my soapbox. If you're one of those people who skip around in books - this is the place to start!

". . .if you find yourself struggling to mold your child to a book, try reversing priorities. It's the child you are teaching, not the book. bend the book, or find another, make the studies fit the child." Ruth Beechick, You Can Teach Your Child Successfully, 1993

"In concentrating exclusively on teaching the child how to read, we have forgotten to teach him to want to read. . " Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook, 1985

"The most important role you play as your children's reading teacher is not just teaching them to read - it is making each individual child feel successful as a reader." pg. 93

Some of their ideas include offering lots of praise and encouragement, focus on what he/she is doing well, don't push - just keep reading aloud to them, practice a little each day, make a variety of books available, audio books, choose readers that will stimulate their appetite for real books and more.

"But your efforts at giving your children the 'ability' to read will be in vain if you do not also give the 'desire' to read." pg. 100

~ Notice the theme - child centered learning, instilling a love of reading. ~

"If you want your children to have a heart for reading, then they must see that you have a heart for reading. . . .The best way to create a desire to read in your children is by modeling a genuine interest in a wide range of reading materials. . ."pg. 100

Pg 104 outlines numerous reasons to keep reading aloud to a reader: emphasis, insight, vocabulary, variety, discussion, appetite, comprehension and togetherness. (all defined in greater detail).
What often happens is that as our children get older or begin reading on their own, too many of us tend to stop reading aloud to them and deprive them and ourselves of the continuing benefit and relationship that can grow from this special "together time".

Narration is another subject they delve into that supports the reading process.

"Narration develops language skills in the ability to express whole thoughts and sentences well before the ability to write is developed." pg. 105

"As knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, children should "tell back" after a single reading or hearing; or should write on some part of what they have heard." Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, 1925

Pg 106 goes on to give several ideas for inducing a narration. (I can't tell you all the good points, you have to read it yourself!)

This just scratches the surface of chapter 5. The scope of information is broad - ranging from academics, to the arts, to field trips, to library excursions and more - you'll find lots of tips and ideas that will guide you toward home-centered learning.

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