Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Enter to win a copy of the NEW Rosetta Stone!

Rosetta Stone is the fastest way to learn a language and has been the #1 foreign language curriculum among homeschoolers for a while — and you can WIN the *all new* version 3 Rosetta Stone Homeschool LATIN program… FOR FREE! This is the first year you can get Latin in the brand new Version III update.

This is a $259 program (and believe me it’s worth every penny!)This is a computer based curriculum and Rosetta Stone will also include a headset with microphone, and a supplementary “Audio Companion” CD so you can practice lessons in the car, on the go, or where-ever! Students participate in life-like conversations and actually produce language to advance through the program. Rosetta Stone incorporates listening, reading, grammar, vocabulary and writing along with speaking and pronunciation lessons. For parents, the new Parent Administrative Tools are integrated into the program to allow parents to easily enroll up to ten students in any of 12 predetermined lesson plans, monitor student progress, grade completed work (the program grades the work automatically as the students progress- I love that!), and you can view and print reports for transcripts. Homeschooling a lot of kids at your house? This program is designed to enroll and track up to ten students (five users on two computers) and will work for nearly all ages — from beginning readers up to college students.

To win this most excellent Latin program copy these paragraphs and post them in (or as) your next blog post, and/OR link to the contest from your facebook page and/OR email the information to your homeschool support group – Then go to the original page and leave a comment saying that you’ve posted about, or have linked to, the contest. Please make sure the link works to get back to the original contest page when you post. And good luck!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why attend a homeschool convention?

A reader asks:
"Why attend a homeschool convention?"

Tami's response:
"Most, if not all 50 states, have a homeschool convention each year. I have always viewed it as a time of renewal for my role as a homeschool mom. For many years my husband would volunteer to watch the children for the whole week-end while I attened our state homeschool convention. Now that we own a homeschool business, attending the convention is a family affair."

"Speaking from my experience as a homeschool mom, I found the speakers at the convention to be so uplifting and informative. Even if I could not attend all of the speakers, I could buy a CD of the talks to take home with me. There were times when I took my older children as particpants, and they enjoyed the talks that were just for teens. It was uplifting to them to meet other homeschooled teens. Our convention even has events scheduled for the teens two of the nights of convention."

"The vendor hall at the bookfair is also a wonderful opportunity for you to view products in person. I have spent many an hour looking at books and buying books in the vendor hall. Many of the vendors are homeschool families, and it is nice to be able to support their endeavors. And I enjoy being able to purchase materials that were written with homeschoolers in mind. I encourage you to buy from the vendors at the conventions when at all possible. I have found as a vendor that it is very expensive to attend these shows, and it is such a blessing when you receive sales that make your investment worthwhile."

"So I encourage you to attend a homeschool convention. It is a great way to recharge your batteries."

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Why did you and your husband choose to homeschool your four boys?

Today I have a special question and answer session with Jessica Hulcy, co-author of KONOS Curriculum.

Someone asked Jessica:
Why did you and your husband choose to homeschool your four boys?

Jessica's response:

Education vs. Regurgitation
by Jessica Hulcy, co-author of KONOS Curriculum

As a successful product of public school, I am often asked, "Why did you and your husband choose to homeschool your four boys?" True, I was a member of the National Honor Society, in honors science and honors English, and even voted Most Likely to Succeed - giving the appearance of being one smart kid. Then I took the SAT test. When the results arrived, my counselor called me into her office, showed me my low scores, and advised me not to attempt college.

Why this huge disparity between my poor standardized test scores and my stellar twelve-year academic performance? Two things were at play.

First, many people do not perform well on standardized tests. When I took my GRE to enter graduate school, I again scored poorly. A brilliant friend, who had taken the test with me, called to compare scores. When I told him my score, he said, "No, Jessica, add the verbal and the non-verbal scores together." I replied, "I already have." Standardized tests are not my cup of tea, and yet, in graduate school the bulk of my grades were A's, sprinkled with B's.

The second explanation is that I was well-trained in regurgitation. With a photographic memory, I could fill in blanks, receive A's, and promptly forget my regurgitated answers. Public school was product-, grade-, and results-oriented. There is still some of that thrust today. The emphasis is on passing the TAAS test, with weeks to months spent teaching the test! I was a shining example of one who could pass the test, graduate with honors, and not even be educated! If homeschooling parents and public school teachers want to break out of the product-oriented mold, unleashing children's creativity and thinking, what can they do differently?

Discovery Learning Fosters Creativity and Thinking

Discovery learning usually involves a hands-on approach. This also naturally lends itself to problem solving. Children come up with solutions to problems without following prescribed step-by-step instructions. The child himself must think through the solution and determine his own steps.

When I taught in public schools, I prided myself on making my science classes hands-on, by showing my students a picture of a complete circuit, giving them the components, and allowing them to construct a complete circuit, per the diagram. As my friend, David Quine, would say, "Why not give each child a C-battery, a flashlight bulb, some paper clips, and see who can make his bulb light first?" Real discovery learning does not tell an answer. It poses a problem that causes light bulbs to go on in children's minds.

I recently received an email from a woman who loved the hands-on, discovery approach for her children but was married to a clean-freak. While the mother wanted the children to set up a huge model ear that they could crawl through under the dining room table, the father preferred filling in workbooks. To him, messiness was non-learning, yet learning and retention clearly increase through multi-sensory, discovery learning. Fortunately, the mothers of Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, and Teddy Roosevelt allowed their young boys' genius to develop amid a mess. These mothers' tolerance of messes netted the 20th century the light bulb, the airplane, and a US President. I am convinced that the Yankee ingenuity of yesterday has been stifled today by adults' compulsion for children to fill in workbook blanks.

There are many new unit study curricula out on the homeschool market, yet a closer look reveals that all unit studies are not created equal. Successful unit studies not only have a central theme and offer many related activities and projects based on that theme, they also encourage discovery learning. Discovery learning is not merely the absence of instructions; it is the absence of instruction plus the presence of carefully constructed open-ended questions that lead children to the next thought, then the next thought, and finally to the big concept that connects their single activity to the larger issue being studied.

Why construct a model ear to crawl through under the dining room table if the emphasis is not on the Creator's intricate design of the ear and the ear's purpose – ATTENTIVENESS to God and His creation? Otherwise, the projects become little more than activities for activities' sake. Those activities that lead to the consideration and discovery of existing truths are worthy of our time.

Dialogue Stretches Students' Thinking Skills

Product-oriented education is obsessed with the answer, rather than the thought behind the answer. Dialogue, on the other hand, draws answers out of students, while demanding that students think in the process. Anyone who has seen the movie Shadowlands, recounting the life of C. S. Lewis, has seen the art of dialogue at its best. At Oxford and Cambridge, young men came to class ready to dialogue with their mentor about what they had read. C. S. Lewis posed question after question to the students, each time insisting that the views they held be proved and supported. While a workbook asks for a single word to be regurgitated, dialogue asks for an original thought to be articulated and supported. Because homeschool class sizes are small, homeschooling parents have the unique opportunity to use dialogue to stretch their child's reasoning and thinking ability by asking open-ended questions, such as, "What would happen if... ?", "Which solution do you think is best?", "Can you support your belief?"

Beware of unit activities that end with phrases such as, "tell your children . . ." or "read to your children . . ." as the consistent bottom line. Of course, as parents we are continually speaking and reading to our children, but if our curriculum ends there, we are merely teaching on the surface. Only when we engage in dialogue with our children do we dig into the heart of learning, encouraging our children to think and understand.

I encourage homeschooling parents who desire to raise thinkers to employ the methods of discovery and dialogue. Real thinkers cannot help but be educated. As my friend, Erin Blain, says, "Be obsessed with education, not graduation." Allow graduation to take its proper place as the icing on the cake of education.

Jessica Hulcy, co-author of KONOS Character Curriculum, the first homeschool curriculum written for homeschool by homeschoolers in 1984, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, has done post-graduate work at Texas A& M at Commerce, speaks nationally on a variety of public education and home school topics, writes curriculum for KONOS, and contributes articles to several homeschool magazines. Jessica has taught for 33 years with 24 of those years spent homeschooling her four boys ages 33, 30, 27, and 21. With her husband Wade, Jessica lives on a 75-acre farm north of Dallas, TX, and has just started a new business called designed to train the next generation of homeschoolers how to teach through Jessica’s online-video instruction and lesson planning.

Visit and or call KONOS at 972 924 2712.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Can I homeschool through high school?

A reader asks:
"Can I homeschool through high school?"

Tami's response:
"Yes, you can!"

"Many people are intimidated to homeschool through the high school years. It has been one of the biggest blessings of my life to homeschool my daughter through high school. Of course, I was nervous as that time approached for her, but looking back now that she is weeks away from graduation, I can say that it was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be."

"I did a lot of reading and research on homeschooling a high schooler. And there are so many resources available for high school that we had to make decisions on what to use for her. This is a good problem to have. Especially since I have a son who is approaching high school. Some of our curriculum choices will be different for him, as we help him choose studies to complement what he wants to do after high school."

"There are also online options for homeschooling a high schooler. And in many states, a high school student can take courses at the community college level. These courses can be counted both as high school credits and college credits. I know of many homeschool students who graduate from high school and community college at the same time. It is worth looking into in your area."

"You can also look into internships and other experiences for your high school students. The choices are endless. I spent a lot of time reading of the accomplishments of the current graduating class in my statewide homeschool group newsletter, and many of the graduates have had missionary experiences during high school."

"Homeschooling in high school is what you and your student make of it. Just be aware of requirements in your state for high school. And also prayerfully consider your child's plans for adulthood."

Until next time, Tami

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Are homeschool groups necessary?

A Reader Asks:
"Are homeschool groups necessary?"

Tami's response:
"Homeschool groups are not an absolute necessity, but they are helpful in the homeschool journey."

"I have been a part of local homeschool groups, co-op homeschool groups, state homeschool groups, and internet homeschool groups. Each of these gave me something of value in my homeschool experiences."

"My children have enjoyed the various experiences with homeschool groups as well. They have made friends that share similar values. And for me, having a mom's homeschool support group has been invaluable."

"When I am having a down day, I can turn to my homeschool friends for encouragement. This is true of my relationships in person and online. If I did not have a local homeschool group, I could get along with my online homeschool groups. I just prefer having local friends to go to when needed."

"As far as statewide homeschool groups, I have been a memeber of our statewide group for a number of years. They keep up with legislation in my state, and we band together when bills are introduced to our legislature that threaten our homeschool freedoms."

"So I highly recommend being involved in some level in a homeschool support group whether it be in person or online."

Until next time, Tami

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Can I homeschool if I have a long-term illness?

A reader asks:
"Can I homeschool if I have a long-term illness?"

Tami's response:
"Yes, you can. It will take some planning on your part, but you can homeschool if you or one of your children has a long-term illness."

"I have a friend who has a debilitating disease. And she is able to homeschool, because she has trained her children well, and because she has a plan that her children know how to follow when she has a day when she cannot get out of bed."

"I have had another friend who homeschooled through years of cancer treatment. She is no longer with us, but her children can look back at the time she was able to spend with them homeschooling. From what I have read, her children have continued to be homeschooled by dear friends in their local homeschool group."

"I have personally homeschooled while on bedrest with difficult pregnancies. And I have homeschooled children with on-going medical issues. It takes persistence and flexibility, but it can be done."

"I would suggest that you network with homeschool families in your area. They can be an excellent resource for you."

Until next time, Tami

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Can I homeschool an only child?

A reader asks:
"Can I homeschool an only child?"

Tami's response:
"I can answer that question with a resounding, "Yes." You can homeschool an only child. There are perks to homeschooling an only child. Your student will have one-on-one instruction. You will also get to know one another quite well, since your attention is not divided among several children."

"I have a very close friend who is homeschooling her only child. And it has been a blessing to the whole family. My friend's husband works a job with a lot of shift changes. Homeschooling their daughter has enabled him to have a relationship with her that he might have missed out on, if she had a traditional schedule and was gone for most of the day."

"A dear friend of mine, Donna Connor, wrote a book called, Homeschooling Only One. It is very insightful for those who are considering homeschooling an only child or who is currently homeschooling an only child. You will find many resources on her blog that I linked to."

"One thing that I have taken from all the reading I have done on homeschooling an only child is that you need to incorporate outside activities for both of you to have a social outlet of some kind."

Until next time, Tami

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