Friday, June 19, 2009

Think Local, Act Local


Homeschooling is a very private endeavor - a decision by a family to take a path less traveled, one chosen by about 1.5 million in the US to be exact. This choice is selected for a myriad of reasons that according to research includes concern about quality of education, school environment or the desire to include moral and religious training as part of a child's curriculum. However, it is also one that takes a village to figure out the maze of rules, requirements and resources applicable to each of our great 50 states. So where does one begin?

There are some great homeschool resource guides available online such as this one, Welcome to Homeschooling Guide (download it now). This guide has a good overview but the bottomline is that you need to start local. Because every state has different requirements and guidelines you should start your search locally. Yahoo Groups is a great place to start with over 6,700 homeschool groups and most of them containing several thousand members each. Search under homeschool and your state or city.

Other places you can look for local homeschool networking groups include Facebook (over 1,000 groups but mostly very small - search home school and homeschool plus your city/state). Conducting a people search on Twitter reveals about 30 Tweeps with Homeschool in their name - but few have more than a thousand followers. However a Twitter Search for Homeschool plus your city or state is a great way to find out the absolute lastest Tweets and topics on the subject. Once you find a great resource you can normally sign up for an RSS feed to have the latest posts sent to your RSS reader or inbox. Other online resources include numerous Blogs and both free and paid resource directories that can easily be accessed using Google. Here's a site that comes up when you input local homeschool laws: Home School Legal Defense Association.

Another new resource that has just been added to the Homeschool map can be found at Time4Learning.com. Just added to the site is a new Homeschool State Representative resource directory designed to put you in touch with the local network and local information specific to your state. In addition there are forums and links that should be enough for anyone to get off on the right foot as you traverse new ground right in your back yard.

If you think you would like to become a Homeschool State Representative for Time4Learning and help others who come after you, you can find a form to get started online. We can all use a little help along the way and once we have arrived it is always good to reach back and repay the favor.


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Friday, June 12, 2009

Raising good writers starts at home


According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 4 out of 5 students are not proficient writers, and only about half meet “basic” grade level requirements. So, where do your kids fit in? Writing was always a part of the 3 R's--Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmetic — but unless your kids are having trouble with it, you probably haven’t given it as much attention as, perhaps, their math grades.

But, the truth is that writing is one of the most important skills your children will learn. Writing gives them a new way to express themselves. It can help them perform better when faced with standardized testing and high stakes college entrance exams. In the job world, a well written cover letter and resume might be the key to setting your kids apart from other applicants.

Writing is something that they will use for their entire life.

But, how can you encourage your children to write (and like it)? If you can, start them while they’re young. When kids begin learning about something during their elementary years, it can become second nature to them provided that the skills are reinforced well. Writing is no exception. So, as a starting point, get their creative juices going by encouraging your children to express themselves verbally, artistically, and in writing. This can help make writing feel less like a chore and more like fun.

If your kids are a little older, starting them with a journal often works well. With school being out, kids have vacations planned, trips to take and camp to attend, so they will probably have a lot to write about. This also presents a unique opportunity for parents to help struggling young writers ease into it without pressure.

If you are looking for some professional writing help for your children, Time4Writing.com might be a good option to consider. They offer one-on-one courses for 2nd - 12th grade that are taught online by a certified teacher. The courses are only eight weeks and cost MUCH less than a tutor. Plus, they have a money back guarantee which is always nice.

If you're interested, check out the courses.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Home schooling continues to grow according to US Dept. of Education


According to the latest numbers published by the US Department of Education, in 2007 2.9% of all US families home schooled their children. This percentage represents 1.5 million students whose education is exclusively home schooling. And home schooled students overall is up 36% from 2003 when the number was 1.1 million.

Even more enlightening is the fact that according to this latest study, another 1.5 million children are using home school curricula for a portion of their education, either after school studies or summer school.

When polled why parents had selected home schooling, 36% said religious or moral instruction as the reason, 21% expressed concerns about the public school environment, 17% were dissatisfied with the quality and 14% stated other reasons, the largest being more family time.

One disturbing trend is the fact that boys as a percentage of home schooled children declined from 49% in 2003 to only 42% in 2007. When asked to explain the reduction, participation in team sports and more difficulty at higher levels for moms to manage was the reason given for shifting from home schooling to public schools. More involvement from dad might help continue home schooling for boys into the higher grades.

To read the article that I used to summarize these results you can go to:
http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/2009/section1/indicator06.asp



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Thursday, June 04, 2009

an online alternative to cancelled summer school classes

The budget woes have led to the apparent catastrophe of cancelling summer school in California. Looking on the bright side, lets see how resourcesful the people can be in becoming "summer homeschoolers". There are amazing resources available to people at very reasonable rates. For instance:

June 5, 2009 - Time4Learning.com, a Homeschool.com top-rated online education software company, offers California parents an online alternative to cancelled summer school classes caused by the State budget deficit. Time4Learning.com provides award-winning, online Pre School to 12th grade education curriculum.

According to John Edelson, Founder and President of Time4Learning, “The summer is a critical time for many students to catch up or advance their skills. The cancellation of summer classes by the State of California has created a large gap in the ability to do this affordably for many families and the Internet is a great alternative.”

Time4Learning offers two programs to address the summer school children’s needs; Time4Writing.com and Time4Learning.com. Time4Writing.com provides teacher-supervised online writing courses in eight-week courses for elementary, middle and high school students. This program builds writing skills through one-on-one interaction with a certified teacher. Parents have real-time access to view and monitor their child’s progress at anytime. At less than $12.50/week or $99/course, the program is extremely cost-effective compared to most teacher-supervised tutoring programs. Parents can view course material online at Time4Writing.com


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