Monday, July 16, 2018

How To Encourage Kids to think outside the box


I tell my kids, kick that formula and create your own.

There are some quick steps you can put into your homeschooling and guiding to get kids to find their own way.


I always questioned as a kid. I didn't just accept anything I was told without chewing on it and wondering if I decided to go a different way, how I would do it.

My kids do debate with me at times. As long as their opinions are 'proven' I am willing to consider it. So for instance, my son said he wanted to be a Pilot, but didn't want to go into the military. I told him to show me the research and prove that he could accomplish his goal without going the customary path.


I, being an engineer, have a mindset of creation of an initial path, then preparing for risk by creating backup plans or new paths.

I have my kids do this when they are trying to discover their career, their passions, their dreams. I have them map the way forward. It's gained us all some learning experiences.


We have to stop blocking our kids big ideas. Sometimes, letting them go with the flow is the best opportunity. Accept these wild ideas. But make them prove it. You will be surprised where it takes you.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Summer Fun, Summer School, Exploration

Using Your Summers for Fun with Learning

Every summer tons of kids in our neighborhood head off to camps, summer enrichment. Mixing in learning with fun is the best part of summer. It gives you the opportunity to try something new, to build other aspects of your kid's full being and to have fun.


Forms of learning comes in  so many different ways during the summer. I try to expose my kiddos to learning in a completely different way than during the school year. It holds their interest.

I was really wanting to send my daughter to a Japanese summer camp. She just wasn't excited about going hundreds of miles away to go.

Study abroad for the summer, volunteering for the summer is another great way of getting out of the box.

Many camps have financial aid if you ask them. Getting in the applications early is important.


This is when I as a working parent can get those field trips made up. During the school year, since both my husband and I work, we aren't able to do many day trips.  However, in the summer, there is no school and we make time to take day trips and explore with the kids.

We ask them to come up with a list of places and activities that feed their personal passions and curiosity


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Exposing Kids To New Things - Even When They Say No


These are some of the reasons my kids refused to try new sports, adventures, foods, activities or anything.

This was a pitfall I refused to let them fall into. There was so many things that I never tried to do because of the above and they became missed opportunities.


So I made a deal with my kids. Try it for the season, and if you don't like it, we will conquer something else.

They had to make the commitment to at least try the activity, sport, or experience for the duration before moving on.


In most all situations where I had them try something new, they enjoyed it much more than they anticipated. Some things, they've even stuck with for years more than the initial introduction.


This year my Speed Racer has tried Paddling (and he loves it) and my Tiger Lilly has tried working with a personal trainer and she likes it (some days).

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Experimenting in Learning with CLEP, Straighterline and

We Are Doing It All
Dual Enrollment with 
CLEP, DSST, Straighterline,, Online College Classes

Don't give up when one method doesn't gain results, try others, and see where your kid blossoms.


Your kid should know how to study for test, take notes, WRITE WELL, use logical deduction (take logic course), have a decent vocabulary (used, read fast (speed reading with ACE Reader), good computational skills (math drills and review and be motivated.


Since starting homeschooling my kids about six years ago, I really have been amazed at how having control of their High School years was so incredibly freeing for us.

Each of them approached Dual Enrollment in different ways, partially, because of my lack of knowledge on the subject, and because of what they wanted to do.

Finding what fit their LEARNING STYLE and LEVEL OF MATURITY is really what mattered. In addition to that, since my husband and I worked out of the home, the kids had to do most of it independently with me checking progress.

CLEP and DSST Test 
Taking these test usually took my students 8 to 9 weeks if they weren't familiar with the subject. The best trick is to use the CLEP or DSST as a FINAL EXAM or sorts when your child finishes US History, ALGEBRA, ENGLISH, GOVERNMENT and more. We used the study lesson plans for homeschooled students found here: (Free Lesson Plans - Provided by  Tricia McQuarrie)


Rose, my oldest girl, did three CLEP test for credit. If I'd known about this type of testing, I would have had her do many of her credits this way, she is a great test taker with wonderful study skill discipline. She was 15 yrs old when she took her CLEP test. She finished her AA degree in 1.5 yrs and BS in 2 yrs, and is now working on her MS, which will be finished in 20 months total.

Tiger Lilly was 13 yrs old, studied for about five of these test, only passed one, and requested to just take Community College courses and online college courses. She finished her bachelor's degree in 3 yrs. 

Speed Racer, 14 yrs old, started studying for CLEPs and DSST and although he did well, he really didn't do well sitting still during testing. He wasn't used to doing it, since I no longer required stillness for study for him. If I let him roam, he tested well. When I told him he couldn't have music while testing, and  he had to remain in his seat, he told me that doesn't work for him. I realized that although, he could do the test, retain the information, he just wasn't mature enough to adhere to taking a test in a testing center with rules. So, I had to find another way. No test for him. We decided to use Straighterline and Study . com.

Razor Ray, was 18 yrs old when he took three CLEP test for college credit while in Community College, he passed two, but failed the Calculus test since he didn't realize the calculator was in the test. He decided to take the actual class and felt the 3 week review he did of Calculas for the test was a good start.

DUAL Enrollment Courses
with Community College or Direct to 4 year University

As far as Dual Enrollment into a college setting was concerned, I needed a setting that was different for each child. We did it three different ways.

Rose was 15 yrs old when she was enrolled in Community College and took online and in person classes there. Her older brother was attending and playing lacrosse there, and she ended up joining a team also. This really served  her well as she and her brother attended CC and University together. She went to a brick and mortar college since her major was only offered at 2 local universities.

Tiger Lilly was 14 yrs old when she was enrolled in Community College. She took one class in person and didn't like it. We moved her from CC to online university named University of MD, University College which is local and have the online course structure that we both liked. Eight week classes, course work spelled out clearly and great support system with free online and in person tutoring. She is finishing her degree there and she will be just turning 17 yrs.

Speed Racer is now 14 yrs, we've registered him at University of Maryland, University College  and Bluefield College as a non-degree seeking student, sent his homeschool official transcript. He is taking 2 classes online for 8 weeks with UMUC, but not with Bluefield College since BC didn't have any of the courses he wanted or needed to take towards his degree at UMUC.

So, Bluefield College didn't work for Speed Racer, no classes that fit his schools requirements. So we backed off that option.


Many Community Colleges and some Universities offer Early Entrance or High School in College programs starting for students as young as 12 to 15 yrs. Community Colleges and online colleges do so with minimum requirement.

The best Universities in this scenario allow a LARGE NUMBER OF CREDIT TRANSFERS.

The BIG 3 Colleges that allow you to transfer the highest amount of credit are:
Thomas Edison State College 

Charter Oak State College

Excelsior College 

TO SHORTEN Degree Goals

Tiger Lilly started using when they were free and called something else. At that time, we didn't really understand the transfer to university credits and she used it for High School instruction and CLEP prep.

BUT NOW, I understand the benefits much better.

Speed Racer we are going for both. We are USING both STUDY.COM and STRAIGHTERLINE.COM to help Speed Racer earn college credit faster, cheaper with an easy credit transfer since is a PARTNER COLLEGE to BOTH.

I figured this out completely by accident as I was researching other methods besides CLEP testing for credit.

2017-2018 school year for My
Speed Racer
14 yrs


UMUC, my son's university of choice, allows 90 credits to transfer.

STRAIGHTERLINE courses will be the FIRST COURSES Speed Racer takes for lower level credit classes (100 to 200 series credits) to transfer to which is a PARTNER COLLEGE. Speed Racer is attempting (he's already started 2 classes) will have these characteristics (1) Open Book Final or (2) No Final (3) Possibility to pass prior to final if pass all test, quizzes and assignments prior to final. -40 credits can transfer from Straighterline and AFTER completion of 4 classes, he qualifies for IN STATE RATE!

Total credits FINISHED and transferred: 15 classes = 45 credits
Cost $99 a month (we used for 6 months) + $59 per class

STUDY.COM courses will be focused on HIGHER LEVEL CREDIT COURSES (300 series courses that transfer to and REQUIRED COURSES not provided BY Straighterline. There are classes that meet my son's elective requirements that are for his high level credits. Straighterline doesn't have any high level transfer credits, BUT does. This is where we hit jackpot. Also, the have a Scholarship called the GUARDIAN SCHOLARSHIP which allows 2 free exams (6 credits) a month without upgrading from the $29.99 fee to the $199 monthly fee!

Total credits FINISHED that weren't offered at Straighterline: 2 classes = 9 credits
Cost $29 a month while taking online quizzes and watchin videos (2 Months) + $ 129 a month upgrade to college credit plan for 2 months

DUAL ENROLLED: University of Maryland, University College accepts up to 90 transferred credits.This school has his desired major, so we transferred credits from both Straighterline (after taking 4 classes they gave him IN STATE tuition, and accept up to 60 credits as direct transfer and through ACE (transcript) service). They take homeschooled students and high school students for early entry enrollment and allows them to take 7 credits a semester. Their classes are offered online, in person and a hybrid of both in 4 week/8week increments.

Total credits FINISHED at 3 classes = 12 credits
Cost $882 per class (In State tuition cost gained after taking 4 Straighterline classes)

18 Classes left for Speed Racer to finished with a BS DEGREE at UMUC!

And Graduating Early

Graduating with a BS degree by 18 yrs old isn't a bad thing. I wanted my kids to be able to have a gap year or two after college to volunteer, do internships, attend grad school, study abroad or work. Whatever they wanted to do with no rush.

Rose, my oldest girl studied abroad for a summer, stayed at the beach in Maui for a month with friends, then decided she wanted to start working while pursuing her MS degree.

Tiger Lilly, my 16 yr old that will be 17 yrs when she gets her BS is working a summer internship, enrolling in a MS program, but also taking Art and Japanese classes at a local community college. She plans on volunteering at the tech center near us and working on building more clients for her Micro Business. She wants to go to Japan, but with her sister instead of a study abroad program. She's our shy one. We are encouraging her to do a study abroad during her pursuing her MS degree.

Speed Racer will be about 17 yrs old when he finishes his BS in Information Systems. He wants to attend a 2 yr college program to learn to fix airplanes while getting his Commercial pilot license. Then attempt to get a job as a Pilot. Also, plans on using his IT degree and experience fixing planes to invent stuff (I don't know what, but he seems to think he will come up with something). In addition, he wants to tour the world dancing professionally (yeah, he said that and is a pretty good hip, hop and breakdancer).

So, for them, they are making their dreams work, without the traditional college experience in some cases. Their dad, nor I had a 'traditional' college experience full fledged and found it highly over rated and over priced.


Don't assume that all methods work for every kid. Try a bit of them all. I do find that online learning that allows me to keep my kids accountable on finishing assignments on time has made the transition to college courses much easier for them than in my case, or the case of my older 2 kids who went the 'traditional' live on college campus direction.

Maturity and your kid's learning style matters. Teaching them to study, take notes, write well is important for the transition to college courses.

Life can be so much fuller when you do things a different way.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Homeschooling Isn't Always the Best Option

I am asked this question by many of my working peers, family and friends. This is, of course, after they stare at me in disbelief when they find that both my husband and I work outside the home, homeschooled 3 of our 4 kids and our kids are excelling beyond the typical path they would have if gone the traditional route.

Well, being a working parent of four kids, I have done most all forms of schooling for my kids. Of all of them, only one really needed the full benefits of homeschool. However, two of my other children grew in ways as homeschoolers that the system of learning in a traditional schooling method wouldn't have allowed.

Why I chose to send my kids to private school

I was impressed with the curriculum in the private schools I visited when my oldest son was 4 years old. The kids in the school were reading and doing basic math. It blew my mind. Also, I went to Catholic School while growing up in the inner city and if it wasn't for the education provided there, I don't think I would have succeeded to the point I had in my schooling and career.

My older kids went to private school up til 3rd and 1st grade. It was hit or miss, very structured, overly disciplined and rather stressful for my kids and myself. However, both of them left being quite ahead of the curriculum at the public school in our area. The Gifted and Talented programs at the public schools though gave those private schools some competition. So I aimed for those programs for my kids.

Why I chose to send my kids to Public School

This is a mixed bag. We lived in one county where the schools were mediocre and decided to move to another county where the schools were 'Blue Ribbon' schools. In doing so, my kids got tons of free programs, accelerated learning and a great education. However, they weren't in a very racially diverse environment and this didn't fair well for my boys.

This is where my oldest and youngest boys were bullied by teachers and students due to their overactive energy and curiosity. It got to the point where my oldest son just showed up to class, did minimum work, yet earned Bs and Cs until he was able to graduate. My oldest girl was in the Gifted and Talented program and really enjoyed it ~ until I let her take a college class the summer of her 10th grade year. After that, she wanted to just take college classes and felt High School was a waste of her time. She wasn't satisfied with her courses and was a bit of an intellectual and found more happiness and recognition when she was homeschooling that catapulted her to experiences beyond my expectations.

The benefits though, were that my son was able to get his EMT certification for free and was offered a scholarship to finish the program at the partnered community college. My daughter was able to participate in AP courses, take classes to earn her computer certifications (but she started homeschooling before she finished).

4th grade through High School/College

The benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to customize education based on your kid's needs, growth, passions and learning style. There really isn't any drawbacks to it as long as you have the resources and creativity to meet your kid's needs.

The a few problems I and my kids admit is the perception of homeschooling and the thought that parents have to be home hovering over their children in order for their kids to learn. The other issue is that it's really difficult to get a clear statistic on how homeschoolers as a whole meet their kid's schooling needs because EVERY HOMESCHOOL IS DIFFERENT.


The best takeaway from this is that parents have CHOICES FOR THE WAY WE EDUCATE our kids.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Staying Motivated And Building Friendships


Well we are nearing our homeschool stretch, at the beginning of Spring. The kids are a bit ready for it all to end and summer to begin.

So I decided to put in place some incentives to get us all through this time.


I found some local spring break camps that the kids are interested in. They will still be doing their college course work, just at a slower pace, so thay can participate in the week long camp.

It's the break they need and allows them to meet new kids their age and just have fun.



I have Speed Racer in Breakdance, Martial Arts and now Paddling for the season which starts in the Spring and ends at the end of Summer. He is super excited to meet the neighborhood kids in this group/

Tiger Lilly is working with a personal training group, Martial Arts and I am trying to find a Paddling group for her, she doesn't want anything competitive.


We are having several 'cook outs', 'paint parties', 'movie parties' with friends and family this month that really made the kids happy with the interaction with friends and their kids.

The kids are also participating in the Homeschool Prom!

She is irritated that I am taking pictures of her working

The activity that keeps my highly active boy relaxed most times.


SPEED RACER's Progress this past month.

He is on a roll and has matured so much. We did give him an incentive for passing his Straighterline, and classes with B or better. He got a video game of choice. it worked. He is on track.

Now his is comfortable completing his Straighterline class independently during the day. I do review his chapter assignments, notes, and give him a quick review before he attempts his test.  With he does completely on his own, however, he request that I review the flashcards and his practice exam with him (I think he likes just talking through things).

His online college classes with UMUC he just works with the tutor to answer his Math problems and to tell him what he missed on his papers. He usually revises the papers, I read them, then send them to the tutor who tells him what he needs to fix before turning the papers in.

Straighterline Classes: Does in Evening with Mom available if he needs help
College Credit Earned: English 101, IT Fundamentals, US History 2, Environmental Science, Religion, Western Civilization = 18 college credits earned
College Credits Working On: Intro to Business, College Success, Cultural Anthropology, English 102
College Credits Planned: Business Ethics, Psychology, Business Management Classes:
Paused taking them. Myself and Speed Racer realized he can finish the Straighterline courses faster so he wants to concentrate on those.

Dual Enrollment ~ (Online University - 8 week classes)He is enrolled and taking classes as a non-degree seeking homeschooled student.

College Credits Earned: Speech, College Math = 6 college credits earned

College Credits Working On: Concepts and Aplications in Info Sys, Pre-Calculus

TIGER LILLY's Progress this past month.

Tiger Lilly  is officially finished her required college course work at and will be getting her degree this May.

She is traveling this week to go to MD for her final interview with one of her Internships and to tour the facility. Since she is only 16 yrs old, her dad opted to fly with her (she better take this internship since it cost us airplane ticket for her dad O_o oh my.)

Her online business she does with her sister just got two new contracts. She does the artwork for the logo and helps with some of the programming. They are excited about it.

We are now looking at graduate schools, and scholarships. So stay tuned.

WORK and HOME BALANCEWorking and Homeschooling 

MEAL PREP: I've successfully created 'boring' dinners my family said most every week. A protein and a veggie. If momma has to diet, so does everyone else.

HOUSE CLEANING: We had guest over quite a bit, so that motivated the family to really work at cleaning the house. It's better since the dishwasher is now working. We even finally got rid of some of the clutter and boxes we had yet to unpack from our previous move - 3 yrs ago. 

LESSON PLANNING: It's a breeze. We work together to build their schedules now and they do them for me, since they want the control. I add in what I want them to finish. 

MARRIAGE CHECKUP: We've gone to see the Black Panther at a great premiere night together. Had a blast, and went out to bowling.

SELF CARE: I've failed miserably on this. Like, haven't done a dog on thing to pamper myself. However, I've been pampering my girls. I got to stop doing that. Soon.  

Monday, February 5, 2018

Transitioning Kid To College, Working Parent Challenge

Fun Times and School Grind

Visiting a friend for a Yummy Southern Cooked Dinner

Girls Day Out, Makeup Class at Sephora

Finding ways to play and have fun with our older kids has been fun. We've done dance competitions, Poetry Slams, Martial Arts Tournaments and more these last few months.


I've promoted Speed Racer to college classes and he has a tutor, Tiger Lilly, who checks his work before he turns it into me (which saves mom a lot of time and effort). Then I verify he is doing okay, and give him the approval to move on. 

Meanwhile, we are planning a wedding for my oldest son, helping Tiger Lilly land her first internship and launch her new micro-business with her sister Rose, while considering what she wants to do for graduate school.


I'm updating you all monthly as our schooling viewpoint has changed now in my sixth year of homeschooling. 

Mom's and Dad's day looks like this:

Mom leaves early for work. Dad gets kids up, reviews work from the night before when mom bailed and went to bed, tells them what to review, or fix. Kids do work, mom gets home, or drops in for lunch, reviews work, answer questions, reviews work prior to them turning it into their online class, then verify work assigned for the day is done.

SPEED RACER's Progress

Started New Plan in January. He is now taking all College Classes. This is where the rigor of Abeka and mom's curriculum is really helping him with time management. He is doing well with retaining a lot of the information in these courses and doing pretty well in them.

Why the Change?
He told me that he was bored studying for CLEPS and DSST, that he'd rather just take a class. Also, the thought of sitting still for 2 hrs to take an exam outside of our home, made him anxious. So, we tried Straighterline, and he suggested since he liked the format. I figured, why not try both. He liked both. He just kept surprising me as he really caught on, and has been moving a decent pace. 

He hasn't taken the proctored exam yet. With both Straighterline and he has to. So we practiced me watching him during one of the practice exams using a program called and after a few tries, he did okay.

Does It Seem Like Too Much?
Since I've pretty much groomed my kids to have a vigorous, and intensive school day, this to him seems so much easier than mom making him do long assignments and tons of work that is out of his control. He told me this was easier O_o 

How do We Manage the Tough Spots
He has a tutor in Math, and English who helps him with his papers he has to turn in.

The Plan?
The plan is for him to finish as many classes with Straighterline (that are open book finals) and with that he can use for upper credits and courses that Straighterline doesn't have to transfer to his online college of choice ( Both programs transfer direct to UMUC.

Then, when he finishes his online BS degree in Information Systems, he wants to get his pilot license and go to school to learn to repair airplanes. So...we will see.

Straighterline Classes: Does in Evening with Mom available if he needs help
College Credit Earned: English 101
College Credits Working On: English 102, US History 2, Environmental Science
College Credits Planned: Nutrition, Religion, Intro to Business, Business Ethics, College Success, Cultural Anthropology Classes: He does these during the day without help
College Credits Working On: Intro to Computing , Business Information Systems, Personal Finance
College Credits Planned: MicroEcon, MacroEcon, Marketing, Business Management, Sociology & Psychology (he finished these last year but didn't take the final exam ~ so he is retaking it and will take final.

Dual Enrollment ~ (Online University - 8 week classes)
He is enrolled and taking classes as a non-degree seeking homeschooled student.
College Credits Working On: Speech, College Math (already on week 5 of 8 week course)
College Credits Planned: US History 1, Research, College Algebra

Overall, he is on schedule to finish these courses by June. If he does, he would officially be a Sophomore in college at 14 yrs old.

TIGER LILLY's Progress

Tiger Lilly is finishing up her final requirement for her degree in Information Systems with minor in Computer Science, and Graphic Arts. She is taking Principles in Web Design, Digital Marketing and Trends in Application Management-Capstone Course.

Starting in April (after her college classes are done) she is building some software products for her marketing clients (she has 2 clients). Then she plans on working on more art, her web comic and novella.

Internship interviews, are over and she landed two summer internships. She doesn't have to make a decision until April.

Working and Homeschooling 

MEAL PREP: This is going well now that we decided to eat healthy and remove the rice, potatoes, and pasta.

HOUSE CLEANING: Well, this has been touch and go. Kids don't want to do the dishes since the dish washer was broken. 

LESSON PLANNING: So much easier!!! I just ask them to send me their plans for the week. They now do their weekly schedule and I just verify it. Mom delegation works! 

MARRIAGE CHECKUP: Hubs and I are making our time together more of a priority. We have gone to some comedy shows together, had some friends over for his birthday, and just went for some long drives.

SELF CARE: I've failed miserably on this. Like, haven't done a dog on thing to pamper myself. However, I've been pampering my girls. I got to stop doing that. Soon.