Homeschooling High School? Start Here!

Hi, I'm Lee Binz, The HomeScholar. This blog answers commonly asked questions about homeschooling high school.

Search a topic. Browse the Quick Links and Archives. Add a comment. Visit my website to learn about my Products and Services. Dig Deeper into some tough high school issues. Finally, shoot me an e-mail if there is a specific topic you would like to learn more about. Make sure you bookmark or subscribe to this blog because I update the content (almost) daily. Enjoy your visit!

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Blessings,

Lee

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You Are Capable!

This time of year people start considering options for next year. Some parents are considering accessing classes in a school environment (public, private or co-op classrooms.) Whatever decisions you make, I encourage you to just make sure that you are the person in control, not a school or a school teacher. The control issue is very important. It means that you don't have to jump through hoops in order to get the class that you want. It means that if the class works, you use it. If it doesn't work, just stop using it and go to something else. Don't wait out the term! If you are accessing it for one class and it works, then great!. But don't feel like you "must" use their classes. Beware if you start feeling incapable. Sometimes situations like that can feed your fears, and make you feel more and MORE incapable. But we know different - you ARE capable. You're able to decide whether each class is the right thing for your child, and you will remain capable to making good decisions even if you sign up for a class at a school.

No matter what -- make sure you always feel confident in your abilities, and remain in control of the education of your child.

Blessings,

Lee

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Failure is an Option!

Have you ever notice that everyone else's children seem perfect? They are smarter, nicer, more musical or athletic, right? We all know that nobody is perfect, but why do other kids seem more perfect than our own?

Rarely do mothers and fathers share failures and short-comings of their kids. Usually they share successes and strengths! I often share my children's strengths - does that mean they are perfect? No Way!

This past month I have really been faced with "to err is human" in an up-close and personal way. Both of my young men (now 18 and 20) received their first traffic tickets. Both of them - two weeks apart. Each was driving about 20 mph over the limit. Each is faced with a huge ticket and a visit to traffic court. Both are considering how they will compensate financially if their insurance rates go up.

Apparently, I'm not perfect either. I taught them both to drive! And look at what happened! I'm trying hard not to feel like a failure in this area. I try to remember that I give instruction, but they make choices like adults make choices. But still, you would think that homeschooling would come with some sort of guarantee. Shouldn't it?

Take heart. Nobody is perfect!

Blessings,

Lee

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Thinking About High School Already??

The best time to consider homeschooling high school is.... now! I love it when parents of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders tell me that they are beginning to learn about homeschooling high school. It's a great training time for parents! You can learn all of the issues around record keeping, academics, and encouraging specialization. At the same time, there is no pressure to "perform" or be perfect, since it's all just for practice.

When my oldest child began 7th grade, that's when I started reading about high school. By the time it was my turn, I felt like an "old pro"!

Blessings,

Lee

Getting serious about homeschooling high school? Try my 3-hour crash course. It's everything you need to succeed in homeschooling your teenagers through graduation!

How to Use Family Math

My first week of homeschooling I took my one and only "class", and it was on Family Math. I learned how to play about 10 or so of the games. The basic idea is to start at the top of the directions and work your way down, and the game WILL eventually make sense. Usually my kids understood the game better than me: I'm just there to read the directions!

This is how I used it: I looked at the math lesson that my kids were learning that day. Say it's fractions. I looked in the index in the back of the Family Math book, and look up fractions. It lists 4 or 5 games and activities with fractions. I looked at the top of each game for the grade level (primary, elementary, or middle school). Then I looked at the game to see what I need for supplies. I kept a shoe box with math stuff: sugar cubes, dice, cards. Mostly the games just required paper and pencil.

We played a math game almost every day. I used it as my math manipulative. This math manipulative is directly related to what they were learning in their math lesson (also in some of the Building Thinking Skills lessons.) It helped to teach the "why" of math concepts that may be difficult at first. When my eldest was 11 years old, he would usually begin his math lesson with "I don't get it." If I could find a good game for that lesson first, then he would start his lesson with "This is so easy." There was never a middle ground, by the way!

To make my life easier, and on the advise of the Family Math teacher, I made copies of all the game boards that I needed at the beginning of the year (when copies were 1 penny!) I made about 10 copies of each game. The book is reproducible. I paper clipped the copies together, and stored them in a 3 ring binder in numerical order. If the game on page 92 requires a copy, I slip one out of the folder. I have my hubby make more copies when one set gets low. Not all games require copies, though.

I loved Family Math because it is multi-age (k-8th grade) and inexpensive to use. Much like Spelling Power!



Blessings,

Lee

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Continuing Education for Homeschool Professionals!

In many states nurses, doctors, and other professionals are required to take a certain amount of continuing education courses each year. They need to stay up-to-date on the latest research and trends.

Homeschooling parents have a similar need for continuing education. Soon it will be homeschool convention time, and I encourage you to put them on your calendar now! If you don't have a convention in your state, go to a neighboring state. Conventions can show you the newest curriculum, and you can find the resources that will be perfect for your child. Conventions provide wonderful classes that will instruct you on how to teach, or encourage and inspire you to continue along this sometimes challenging path. You'll find educational games and activity suggestions that will spark interests in your children. Conventions aren't 100% perfect, and I know they can be very overwhelming at times. They can also help you plan ahead, learn more, and become motivated again.

Take a moment to put your homeschool conventions on the calendar! Here are the 2008 conventions in Washington State. When you are there, make sure you stop by my booth and say "Hi!". You can also hear me speak on the topics shown below:

Christian Heritage Conference
April 17-19
Redmond, WA
more...

NW Catholic Conference
May 2-3
Tukwila, WA
Topic: "College Preparation"
more...

WHO Convention
June 13-14
Puyallup, WA
Topics: "Gifted Education" and "Transcripts"
more...

WATCH Conference
August 8-9
Seattle, WA
more...

Blessings,

Lee
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"Stand By Your Man" - Homeschool Addition

In our Sunday School class on "Love and Respect" I learned a new strategy for dealing with teenage boys! Women tend to relate best face-to-face while talking. The book suggests that men relate best shoulder-to-shoulder without necessarily using words. If you are struggling with your teenage son, try to spend some quiet time doing nothing, saying nothing, and accomplishing nothing. Just be by his side, whether in the car or doing another activity he is interested in. Chances are, he will interpret that outing in a positive way.

In my own life, I have seen how that strategy can work. When I have a difficult subject to discuss with my boys, it goes over best if we are NOT talking face to face. It helps if we are on a walk, or in the car, and are both looking forward rather than at each other. It's almost as if these guys feel threatened when we look them in the eye. Like a pack of wolves, they can perceive eye contact as a threat and fight back.

If you are struggling with your boys and desperate for ideas, it may be worth a try. Shoulder-to-shoulder, avoid eye contact. Let me know if it works!

Blessings,

Lee


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Only "Actual Teachers" Should Read This!

A virtual school had an advertisement with a parent testimonial stating:

"We have found the K12 curriculum to be far above anything we could have done on our own, plus we have the added advantage of an actual teacher for help"

Don't be fooled! Homeschooling parents ARE actual teachers - the best possible teachers for their children.

That same virtual school had another advertisement that said:

"Student/student interaction is also actively encouraged, so (this virtual school's) students are always well-educated and well-socialized."

In my opinion, any group that worries about children being "well-socialized" are NOT homeschooling groups. It's one of those "ah ha" statements that really indicates a lot about a group. Any time someone tells you that you need a classroom experience to be "well-socialized" you can confidently stand your ground. Be polite, but firm, and explain that your homeschooled children ARE well-socialized, and they didn't need a classroom environment to get that way. Friends and family, people of all ages, and the normal comings and goings of your life provide all you need to "socialize" your children.

Remember: you ARE an "actual teacher!"

Remember: you are providing your children with all the social skills they need to shine in this world.

Blessings,

Lee

The HomeScholar provides a free monthly e-newsletter, daily blog support, low cost videos and private consultations -- everything you need to successfully homeschool through high school.

The Intangible Benefits of Homeschooling

From Eeyore to Tigger:

The tangible benefits of homeschooling are many. You can see the benefits of academics, socialization, and specialization. You can see the quality of the kids that receive moral and ethical values, with lots of time for family. There are also intangible benefits of homeschooling.

I recently worked with a family who decided to pull their student out of public school as a sophomore. While he was a very sweet child, I noticed that he was withdrawn - never looking me in the eye. I briefly wondered about depression. After a month of homeschooling, I saw the family again. The child and mother we teasing each other and laughing - poking each other in the ribs as they walked! The student looked me in the eye and said, "hello" while smiling! The cloud was lifted!

This is not the first time I've seen an Eeyore become a Tigger. This is one of the intangible benefits of homeschooling. When the constant negative feedback of school is removed, and the student is molded and shaped through real life experiences and a loving family, the cloud can be lifted.

Blessings,

Lee
www.TheHomeScholar.com
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Shocking! A Positive Homeschool Message on TV!!

Check out these amazing videos. They are glowing reports on the "how and why" of homeschooling. Pretty surprising given the usual tone of homeschool reports on network TV. I was particularly taken by the discussion of "Thomas Jefferson Education" since this is what we did in our homeschool without knowing there was an actual name for it! TJEd is all about finding your child's passion and building on it throughout their homeschool years. Similar to what my husband talks about in his articles on "Raising Superheroes." Read them here and here. I think you will enjoy these clips.


Part I
"Three ways to homeschool"
http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3917028n

Part II
Why Families Homeschool
http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3916700n?source=search_video

Blessings,

Lee
The HomeScholar
www.TheHomeScholar.com

Help spread the good news about homeschooling high school. Please add my button to your blog and website. Get the code from the the upper right corner of this blog. Thank you!!


Is Your Child Bored with High School?

If your child is bored with high school topics, you can consider two choices: college options and non-college options.


College options include going to a university at an early age (either as a regular student or "Non-matriculated" student) or attending a community college before going to the university. College policies vary on non-matriculation. College like to get money, however, and usually non-matriculated students pay the full price (no scholarships). Since it's basically "free money" for the college, they are highly motivated to accept those students. With these options, the student is in a classroom with college-age people on a daily basis.

Non-college options include homeschooling college and other distance learning opportunities, where most of the academic work is done at home, similar to homeschooling. View this quick video on the process:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evJeAAJedbY

Also check out my Dig Deeper page on homeschooling college:
http://www.squidoo.com/How_2_Homeschool_College

These are the books I recommend on the subject:
"Accelerated Distance Learning" by Homeschool Graduate Brad Voeller.



or Bears Guide To Earning Degrees By Distance Learning



Here's how it works: You pick and choose from online classes across the nation. All the work is done at home. All the results from those different online experiences are all sent to one university. If you choose to do it all four years of college this way, some (but not all) of the upper level courses require you to fly to the distance location for testing once a quarter. That University will provide "accreditation" for all the credits that are earned. Those accredited transcripts will be sent the next University your student wishes to attend. It's possible to homeschool college from one quarter to all four years.

Blessings,

Lee

Looking for a college? Try my Teachable Moments DVD, "Finding a College"


Obsessive/Compulsive Mathematics

My husband asked me, "Do all homeschoolers finish the math book?" The answer is "OF course not!" The truth is, some homeschoolers have their child do every single problem in every math book before moving on. Other homeschoolers skip many problems or even chapters each year without giving it a second thought. I encourage people to come down firmly in the middle of this controversy. What's important is NOT how many problems they do, or how many days of school you have. What's important is that the students are learning. If they can learn math with only 1/2 the problems, then that's great! Don't punish them with additional math problems that might beat the love of numbers right out of them. On the other hand, it's not helpful to move on before a child understands the math concept they are on. Balance is key.

Blessings,

Lee

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The Great California Homeschool Earthquake?

The media seems to be saying this is THE BIG ONE.

Here is a link to the Fox News story, but I've heard the same on other news programs.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,335808,00.html

"California parents who don't have teaching credentials no longer can home school their children, according to a recent state appellate court ruling."

But here is a summary from a California Homeschool group:
http://californiahomeschool.net/howTo/updates.htm

"The law in California has not changed. This is the opinion of one court. CHN strongly believes this opinion is incorrect, and homeschooling by using one of the alternatives to public school currently available under California law remains legal. The implications of this ruling and possible actions are currently being discussed by CHN, along with HSC, CHEA, Family Protection Ministry and HSLDA. "

And another summary from Homeschool Association of California
http://www.hsc.org/Appellatedecision

My internet friend, Julie, expressed it this way:

"People are getting phone calls from relatives that they are doing illegal activities. I went with my kids to cook a meal for the homeless at our church, something we do once a month, and I was hit up with the questions about legalities. " and "While leaders are paying attention and being vigilant, it isn't any reason to panic."

Julie in San Diego
http://www.livingmath.net/

I know that it is concerning to hear these inflammatory statements on the news, but I don't think there is a need to panic. It might be a great time to write your own state legislators, and let them know how important homeschooling is to you. It's a great exercise for kids as well - a good civics lesson. But keep in mind that California law has not changed, and state and national agencies are currently working on the problem. Let's watch, and keep our eyes on reputable sources. Try to avoid listening to news reports from agencies and people that don't really know homeschool laws.

Blessings,
Lee
www.TheHomeScholar.com
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Never Ending Record Keeping

Never ending record keeping

Are you writing your own comprehensive records for your student? Frustrating, isn't it! One thing to remember about the Comprehensive Records - you're never done until graduation. It's like homeschooling in that you never really "finish." You can add touches and change things.... At some point you have to add final grades and final graduation dates. So don't worry that it doesn't feel complete. You won't until your student is finally away to college. Even if your student takes community college classes, you'll still be adding things to the transcript. Try to relax and have fun with it as you constantly edit, review, and revise. And if you need some help with the process, I'm here for you!

Blessings,

Lee
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Rethinking Failure

Recently I've shared with some of my homeschool "failures" like literature analysis and nature studies. I didn't even mention art and Washington State history! Everyone feels like they have failed at some points. I think it may be an issue with motherhood in general: a chronic feeling of guilt.

Now that my kids have graduated from homeschool, I can see that these "failures" weren't really failures at all. Many times it was me adjusting my homeschool to meet the learning style of my children. I perceived them as failures because I wasn't able to get them to love learning by meeting MY learning style. Love of learning came when I met THEIR learning style. Now with my 20/20 hindsight, I can say that I didn't "fail" at literature analysis, nature studies, art, or state history. Instead, I adjusted the way I taught to match my children's way of learning - and that is a success.

Someday when you are looking back on your homeschool, you may find that some of your "failures" were actually successes as well! Just something to think about the next time you're feeling guilty....

Blessings,

Lee

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Our Charlotte Mason High School - or Maybe Not

Charlotte Mason would have loved my pond. Only a half-mile from our house, the pond has river otter, blue heron, and other fabulous Northwest wildlife. When we moved here, I thought I would spend hours at the pond with my children, doing nature studies. A short distance from Puget Sound, I fantasized about oceanography units and marine biology studies.....I dreamed of examining algae under a microscope and I was positively giddy about the ducklings.

Except.....it didn't happen. It's one thing to focus on "delight-driven" studies, but what about driving "non-delightful" studies? My boys would whine and complain the whole time we did nature studies. They loved physical exertion, and didn't mind getting out for a bike ride or a swim, but they didn't want to just "sit there and look at stuff." All they wanted was books and bikes. Sigh! What's a Charlotte-Masony Mom to do?

I finally had to conclude that the "delight" in delight-driven was about them, not me. I had to let go of the fabulous nature studies and focus on the ways my children learned instead. "Let them have books!" I decided.

Now that the kids are in college, my husband and I frequently walk to the pond, and walk to the beach, and enjoy our nature studies together. And he doesn't whine... usually....





Blessings,

Lee
--
The HomeScholar
www.TheHomeScholar.com

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I Hate Literary Analysis - Part 3

Last summer, when the kids came home from their first year in college, I felt like I could finally say I had succeeded in my goal. "For fun" they went to the library to get some reading material. My son Alex read the entire Shakespeare collection, my son Kevin read CS Lewis and some Dostoevsky. I may have been stressed out when they were in high school, but I can honestly say that I achieved my goal: they LOVE reading. Yippee!

Blessings,

Lee
www.TheHomeScholar.com
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I Hate Literary Analysis - Part 2

The truth is I always felt guilty about not doing literary analysis.... I decided early on that my goal in teaching the Bible was for the kids to LOVE their Bible. So I finally decided that my goal for literature would be the same - teaching them to LOVE literature. I didn't want to "beat the love of books out of them" with analyzing everything.

In retrospect, it all ended up great. They are able to do college literary analysis in their honors "great books" class without a problem, and getting A's. Great 20/20 hindsight, but at the time I really stressed over "reading comprehension" more than just about anything else.

Keeping the focus on "love of learning" is so hard, though, when you are faced with a kid who may only answer "fine" when you ask them about their reading :-)

Blessings,

Lee
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I Hate Literary Analysis - Part 1

True confession: I really admire people who do literary analysis, but I simply wasn't capable. It seems odd that someone who is such a fan of literature based curriculum should say that. I primarily used Sonlight, and later The Well Trained Mind. Sonlight was the easiest to use, but after a while we had read most of the books, so I switched to The Well Trained Mind reading lists and other "reading lists for the college bound" and tried to tie in the reading with the history. We didn't do any "literature analysis" we just enjoyed the books. My kids loved it so much they both signed up for the great books and honors courses in college and did very well with it.

Blessings,

Lee
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