Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some Homeschooling Statistics That Might Surprise You

Attending school every day just isn't like it used to be when we were kids. Kids are growing up fast in a fast paced world, and the influence of peer pressure, bullying and drug and alcohol influence has become a reality in our nations public and private schools.

Parents seeking an alternative education method for their children are turning more often to homeschooling as a viable education option. This article is intended to provide some interesting homeschooling statistics that detail homeschooling facts, percentages of students being homeschooled and primary reasons why parents opt to homeschool their kids. If you are at a crossroads of deciding upon the proper education method for your child(ren) hopefully this information will assist you in making your decision.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) survey revealed that approximately 2% of children ages 5-17 were homeschooled. Homeschooling for this survey is defined as students who spend less than 25 hours a week in school and were at least partially schooled at home.

    Approximately 2 million students in this country are currently homeschooled.
    Homeschooling doesn't necessarily mean a life of exclusion. Many sports facilities have special sessions held during normal school hours, to benefit and attract home schooled students and parents alike.

The top three reasons parents choose to homeschool their children are as follows:

    Concern about the school environment (30%), desire to provide a religious and/or moral educations for their children (27%) and dissatisfaction with the academic instruction (17%) provided at local schools.

Parents reported the most important reason for their decision to homeschool was to provide a religious/moral education for their child, followed by concern for the school environment, and finally lack of satisfaction with the academic instruction was the final reason quoted.

Homeschooling statistics are tracked by the U.S. Department of Education. Below are some interesting statistics about the education level of the parents who have decided to homeschool their children.

    Most parents have some college classes or vocational education.
    25% have Bachelor Degrees.
    22% have Masters or advanced college degrees.

Homeschooling statistics show the gender population of homeschooled students to be equally split between males and females. The majority of homeschooling households had 2 parents and 2 or more children. Geographic demographics of these families are split down the middle, 50% of households residing in cities and 50% live in rural communities.

43% of students homeschooled are in grades K-5, 28% in grades 6-8, and 29% in grades 9-12. Of the students who are homeschooled, 82% of those student are exclusively schooled at home with no outside education, while 18% are attending a school part-time, approximately 9 hours per week. While public schooled children have 49% of parents that are dual income, 56% of private schooled children have dual income families, only about 25% of homeschooled students belong to a dual income family.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

3 Ways to Motivate Learning

Use Travel to Motivate Learning

During the summer and other holiday times, families frequently travel. Homeschooling families have the flexibility to travel at other times. As well, in preparation for these trips, encourage your children to discover information about the place of destination and other places along the way. "Research" can continue during the trip by stopping at tourist shops and other places. Upon return the child can write a report in the form of a paper, design an exhibit, a make scrapbook/photo album or compile a notebook. Some students have electronic ways to report on their travel - i.e. blogs, and power point presentations. At one time I had a student in one of my home school classes that spent some time in Louisiana during the fall. He learned much about the state and history of that area. He did a report for the class when he returned. If you belong to a travel club, you can get help in planning your itinerary. Depending on the age of the child you may also want to consider using the library or Internet to explore points of interest. Holidays and travel are just examples of how LIFE is our classroom and curricula. Happy Homeschooling!

Use Holidays to Motivate Learning

The holiday that instigated this tip was October 31. Research on the Internet can provide cultural notes explaining the origin of Halloween and Day of the Dead (Los Dias de los Muertos in Mexico) on November 1. They take us back to the Celtic tradition that had the dead returning to earth to wander around the land of the living. The Celtic towns in old England would light bonfires and feasts to honor the dead. All Hallows Eve or All Hallos Day became Halloween as celebrated today. In Mexico, death is seen as the beginning of life rather than the end. They honor the dead on the Day of the Dead or All Saints' Day on November 1. Many are unaware that October 31 is Reformation Day. On this day in 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses (or statements) on the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. These statements, meant as a catalyst to bring about reforms within the Church of Rome, began discussions that ultimately led to the rise of Protestantism. Reformation themes are Scripture Alone, Grace Alone and Faith Alone. What a contrast of ideas! Researching the holidays can motivate students at a time when children have a hard time focusing on learning. As you discuss different ideas about these holidays, Christian parents can guide your child in determining which and to what extent these ideas are Scriptural.

Use Teachable Moments to Motivate Learning

Those of you who were in Washington State on February 28, 2001 experienced some very unsettling teachable moments. Our 6.8 Earthquake shook long and hard. Talking about why we fared so well for such a strong quake can be a science lesson and a Bible lesson. You can talk about how to respond in different kinds of emergencies. You can talk about why spaces are left in sidewalks and bridges. Children can learn to help the needy. Children can learn to pray for those affected by disasters. How we react can be the best lesson of all: Do we trust our Sovereign God to take care of us or not? One student asked me to pray that an earthquake would never happen again. I could not promise to do that, but I did remind her that God protected us. He does whether we are in historic Seattle buildings, the State Capitol Building in Olympia or in homes that suffered no damage. Hebrews 13:5 reminds of His promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." He will enable us in what ever the circumstance of life. (I Corinthians 10:13). We have teachable moments everyday; some are more memorable than others are.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My daughter was homeschooled for the last two years in high school and was accepted at Harvard, Yale and Princeton! She's currently at Harvard and is thriving!

Here are a few tips I used to help her achieve great success!

She took Latin through AP Latin. It did wonders for her vocabulary, which helped her ace the reading comprehension section on the SAT exam. I promised her she could study any other language once she finished with Latin and that she'd pick it up more easily when she did.

Your GPA will for all practical purposes be disregarded by admissions. It is just too difficult for college admissions to verify that your exams were proctored, timed and not open book. Know this and realize that your SAT scores will be weighed even more heavily. You must ace the SAT or ACT exam.

Take AP courses. The standardized, timed and proctored test for AP courses will prove you mastered the material and can do difficult, college-level work. You will want to get 5's on your AP exam so make sure you leave time to take several practice exams! Princeton Review is usually the same level of difficulty as the actual exam and Barron's practice exams are usually the most difficult. Barron's are great for when you finish the College Board exams and the Princeton Review exams for those students aiming for the perfect score!

Online schools do not emphasize the need to finish the syllabus weeks ahead of the AP exam in order to study and prepare for it. The exam is the first weekend in May so start the course early in late August and finish by April. You will have left yourself a whole month for practice exams!

Balance your course load. Don't take so many AP's that you can't do your best in all of them. My daughter took one sophomore year, 3 junior year, and 2 senior year. She only took 3 AP exams, getting 5's on all 3 and was named an AP Scholar! She didn't take AP exams senior year; she was already into Harvard!

Prepare for the SAT or ACT during the summers, BEFORE junior year!

During the school year you will be too busy with schoolwork and extracurricular activities to also study effectively for the SAT. You need to take 8 SAT practice exams! Correct each one before you take the next exam to learn from your mistakes. Preparing before junior year will also help you ace the PSAT exam given junior year in October!

Send a brag sheet to anyone writing a college recommendation for you so they are aware of all your accomplishments. Don't assume they know!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Steps to Success With Oral Reading and Long Division

Improve Fluency of Oral Reading

Oral Reading fluency can be improved by using the NEUROLOGICAL IMPRESS METHOD (NIM) or SIMULTANEOUS READING.

The parent / teacher

    sits on the reader's dominant side
    follows the text smoothly with a finger as she and the reader read the text together
    slows only a little while the reader speeds up to match the parent's reading

In this way, the reader hears, sees and says the words in the text. Doing this 15 minutes twice a day for a period of months can make a big difference.

Once at Evangelical Christian Academy in Madrid, we were preparing one of my 4th grade students to spend more time in his classroom and less time in the Learning Resource Center (special education resource room). He had a strong background in phonics, but he still read on the second grade level. His mother read with him once a day and I read with him once a day. After doing NIM for a few months, he was reading on 4th or 5th grade level. He was ready to participate more with his 4th - 6th grade class of missionary children.

Breakdown Learning into Small Steps

Breaking down learning objectives into small steps may help avoid overwhelming students. LONG DIVISION is notorious for escalating frustration because there are numerous steps. Assigning names to each of the steps keeps the students moving from one step to another. There are a number of programs that use this idea. For example one such method uses the Long Division Family to keep the student moving from one step to the next:

Dad reminds you to Divide (/)

Mom reminds you to Multiply (x)

Sister reminds you to Subtract (-)

Brother reminds you to Bring down

To divide 18 by 2, a sample script would go something like this:

Dad says, "Divide 2 into 1. How many times does 2 go into 1?"

You say, "0 times." So you write zero on the above of 1.

Mom says, "Multiply 0 times 2. How much is 0 x 2?"

You say, "0" So you write 0 below the 1.

Sister says, "Subtract. What is 1 take away 0?"

You say, "1" So you write 1 under the subtraction line.

Brother says, "Bring down. Is there a number to bring down?"

You say, "Yes, 8" So you bring down the 8.

Dad says, "Divide. How many times does 2 go into 18?"

You say: "9" So you write 9 above the 8.

Mom says, "Multiply. How much is 2 times 8?"

You say, "18" So you write 18 under the 18 at the bottom.

Sister says, "Subtract How much is 18 take away 18?

You say, "0" so you write 0 under the subtraction line.

Brother says: "Bring down. Is there a number to bring down?"

You say: "There is nothing to bring down so I am finished with this problem."

Once your child is familiar with the process, you can gradually reduce the number of words you use. Eventually, the process will be internalized and he will complete long division step by step.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Homeschooling High School and College

Many people do not realize that colleges are recruiting homeschoolers. We often think that because we are homeschooling, we are pretty different and unusual. We wonder how we are going to convince the colleges that they want our children. It usually ends up being the other way around. Colleges are looking for homeschoolers, although they find us a little hard to locate.

If you look through your homeschool magazines you will find ads that are placed there by colleges. If you're on Facebook, you will see advertisements for colleges that want your homeschool kids. They are everywhere.

One of the ways to ensure colleges will recruit you is to tell them that you're a homeschooler. The easiest way to tell them is to have your child take the PSAT when they are a sophomore or a junior. It will ask them what their high school is, and you can have your child enter the homeschool code. Colleges will begin to send your child mail, telling them that they want them at their college.

Visiting colleges will become vital as the colleges start approaching you. It is critically important that you take your high school students to visit the colleges where they think they might attend.

Colleges change over time. I remember talking with one of my friends about the college that my children were attending and how my son had organized a Jane Austen themed dance. She was just shocked because when she went to that same school nobody was allowed to dance. This particular college had changed over time.

Even though I have been so happy with the college experience of my children, our college will also change over time. Even if you know the reputation of the college, you will still want to visit it because it can change. Even if it has been good in the past, it can change into something you don't appreciate. On the other hand, you may go for a visit and find out you like it even more.

You really can't tell everything about the college by looking at the college brochure. You certainly want to read everything you can about the college to see if it's even worthy of a visit. If you think it may be a good fit for your child, then you definitely want to visit to make sure what you have read is true.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Three Ways Parents Can Help Students Get Better Test Scores

As a kid in grade school I remember my father telling me to go to my room and study. Which for me meant going to my room and playing video games. As a parent we often pin the future of our children on every test that they take in grade school. We have all felt that if our students could simply get better grades they would have a brighter future than we had. While their future success in life is not likely riding on the line with every test, every test is still important.

Kids today balance a demanding schedule of after school activities like band practice, sports, and time with their friends. Without pushing your kids away or asking them to trade their social life or other activities for a better GPA you can help them get better grades with these 3 tips.

1. Help them prepare their study area. You'll be surprised at how quickly they want to take over this task for themselves. If you set aside one half hour of study time a day and help them prepare their study area for that time period it will be an effective and efficient study time. Some of the things you should help them get together for their study area is some soft background music, a drink of water and a lite, non-messy snack. Every student will enjoy getting their lite snack and their own music ready. You'll need a clean and quiet area with enough space and good lighting.

2. Teach them to map out two concepts maximum for each half hour study session. Every student has a tendency to try to cover an entire subject in one sitting. Parents can help their students identify which two topics to cover. Breaking the study session down into two specific concepts instead of entire subjects will help the student retain the information they study. The more the student retains from each study session, the easier it is for them to pick up their books for the next study session.

3. Help them keep a routine. Consistency is the key to success in weight loss, business and test scores. One half hour every night at a similar time will help your student develop a pattern and pretty soon they'll begin to start their study routines without your prodding.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How Plan Your Home Education Program Based on Learning Styles?

Ultimately, many parents bring home, the very elements of the educational program that have caused their children to struggle in school. Why? There are a number of possibilities:

For one, parents feel more secure in duplicating the "experts." School has been the predominate form of education in our country for so long that we are afraid that we are going to miss something important. Remembering why you decided to homeschool and what is important to you guards against this problem. Also, keep in mind that there are almost as many ways of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers. Your goal should be to find a balance between setting up a school classroom in your home and unschooling. The right answer for your family may be different from other homeschooling families you may know.

Whether you are a veteran homeschooler or are preparing for your first year, you will want to do some evaluating before you start purchasing curriculum. You should consider your own learning style and that of each or your children. Discovering how you and your child learn is essential in the teaching process. Am I saying that you should only teach to your child's preferred learning style? NO! However, if your child is struggling, you should teach difficult areas using his or her style. In other areas, the child should use other styles. If this plan does not result in success, you need to seek other advice.

You may be confused about learning styles. Some talk about whether they are right brain or left brain. Others, being random or sequential. Are you visual, auditory or kinesthetic? Then, There are seven (now more) kinds of intelligences.

Each of these approaches is helpful to some people. Cynthia Tobias has done a good job of putting them all into perspective in her book: The Way They Learn. Most of the book deals with four dominant learning styles: concrete sequential, abstract sequential, abstract random, and concrete random. Then she uses Gregoric's work on mind styles to describe how we concentrate. Dunn and Dunn's work on environmental preferences help us design an ideal study area. Barbe-Swassing's works on the modalities (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) explain how we remember. We understand analytically or globally according to Witkin. She also summarizes Gardener and Armstrong's Seven Intelligences. Dr. Gardner has added more since coming out with the original seven. Tobias puts it together in a chapter near the end of the book. Monitor yourselves as you go through the five stages that Tobias outlines in chapter 11 of her book. No one is just one learning style. We are individuals! When we understand ourselves, we can use learning styles to learn things that are difficult, understand others and be encouraged when we are forced to work in an area that is not our strength.

Friday, January 6, 2012

5 Way to Get the Best Educational Consultant for Your Child

All parents want to provide the best education for their children. Parents who want to home school their child require support from an educational associate. An educational associate helps them create a balanced curriculum and assessment program- a complete educational plan for their child.

So, how do you find the most suitable educational planner? This process requires some due diligence in which the parents closely analyze certain characteristics. Here are some characteristics that you must look for in a professional educational associate:

1. Should Have Prior Experience working with Individual Students
It is essential that the educational associate you choose has some prior experience working with individuals. The experience helps them to deal with your child in a better way. They must understand that each child has his or her key strengths and weaknesses. This can help them develop a special customized educational plan for your child according to his or her learning pace and ability.

2.Should Have Experience in a Specific Area
In case your child takes special education services, you must choose a consultant who has thorough knowledge of all related laws for such services. In addition, you may ask specifications about the services to gauge the consultant's understanding of the specialty. This is important in order to provide top quality education for your child.

3. Should Have Adequate Knowledge about Academic Assessments
The educational consultant should have in depth knowledge about how to prepare and conduct student academic assessments. You want to ensure that your consultant is well aware of the criteria, pertaining to the learning capacity and pace of your child. You may ask them to elucidate the entire assessment process for your own satisfaction.

4. Should have some Certification in Educational Psychology
Your child may have special needs, so you need to make sure your educational assistant has adequate knowledge in that area. Educational consultants help deal with children who have special needs such as behavioral problems. The accreditation ensures that the consultant has prior experience in that specialty.

5. Should have a good chemistry with the Family
An educational assistant should be able to make the child and his or her family comfortable. This is important as it makes it easier for the family to share relevant information about their child. This information can be necessary to create a customized curriculum and assessment plan. Therefore, this can enable parents and consultants to work together to maximize learning potential of the child.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Seven Ways to Home School Your Child

Here are 7 ways in which you can homeschool your kid.

1. Use a structured course content

Some parents find that a packaged curriculum saves time as it is pre-planned. You could buy it at a curriculum sale or online. The lessons can take from an hour to six daily. Some curriculums have accompanying computer programs to aid you with grading and lesson planning.

2. Create your own course content

Check the state laws. You have a certain degree of flexibility in teaching but some states will require you to include science, math, language arts, and civic studies or history in curriculum and devote time to each of them daily. Creating curriculum by yourself will require you to find online material and get in touch with other parents who home school their kids. The personalized curriculum is cost effective and makes use best use of child's capabilities as it can be tailored according to his strengths and weaknesses.

3. Use a computer program or a DVD

DVD curriculum can homeschool your kid for you. The tutorials are available for every course.

4. Get the help of a public school online

An online public school has its own curriculum and materials. The child will learn from an online coach.

5. Homeschool your kid with an online private school

Some home schooling companies offer access to both public school and private school learning on their websites. The kids learn along with many other students around the world who are enrolled in the classroom from their homes. The teacher guides the kid online or through phone.

6. Use the unschooling technique

This approach takes into account child's interest in a particular topic. The curriculum is led by the child. The term was coined by John Holt in the 1970's. For instance, your child is interested Egyptian history. You could teach him from books, show educational movies or take him to a natural history museum and continue with the topic until the child is ready to move to another one.

7. Get the help of an educational advocate

An educational advocate works with you and your kid to formulate a curriculum for the child. Your child's progress is monitored by educational consultants. Some even plan field trips as part of home schooling to enhance learning.