Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Just When You are Having Fun-Life serves up Lemons!


Yep, these last few weeks have been exciting, fun, exhilarating and down right stressful.


Let's just replay all the great fun and hiccups life threw us these last few weeks.

Daddy and girls went to Disney for a 1st every dad and daughter trip (they missed me).


Then my daughter was in a hit and run. She's physically fine and mentally adjusted to it after she went to the police station to file a report. My son was at a stop sign when he got hit. I was parked in the parking lot when a car hit my car. Lastly, my hubs was in back of a utility truck who's debris flew off the truck and hit our truck.

We had 4 hit and runs on both cars! Yep 4 count them! in 4 weeks. Over $7000 in damage on 1 car and $2800 on another. We ran down and had 2 of them stop. So their insurance is paying it. Ours has to cover the other two.

We took those in stride however, and were glad that no one got hurt.

Well crap rolls downhill. With the new president's Freeze on government jobs, contractors or companies that support the government are suffering cut programs, non payment from the government (since the budget hasn't passed). And...My husband got laid off, my daughter who was supposed to transition to her new job also was told the job would be on hold indefinitely.

THANK GOD...I am working too.  My daughter, luckily, is still at her current job and haven't given noticed. My son is still working and happy at his job.


Despite all of the bad, here was more good. The street market this weekend was a great way to unwind. My son and his sister did martial arts in the streets. Then he went breakdancing. It was fun to watch and experience.




And Drama class. Where Speed racer looks a bit bored. He's hardly this calm most of the time.



What does all this BAD and GOOD mean to me?

Well like my Grandma used to say, "with all the bad, the devil must be mad, because I have a blessing coming on!"










Friday, February 10, 2017

How My Daughter Finished 2 degrees in 3 years

There is More Than One Way to Save Money On College
My daughter graduated at age 19
 

My daughter was a motivated student, had great study skills, and was flexible. She wanted to finish college with LOW COST and in a SHORT TIME.

This is how we did it for her and are doing it for my other kids.

1) Only selected Community Colleges and Universities that accepted a large number of transfer credits from several sources including other colleges, CLEP test, DSST test and AP test

2) We utilized CLEPs, DSST test and tested well on college Accuplacer.
In addition, with my younger son, we plan on using Excelsier, Straighterline, ACE, and some online Community colleges for credit to transfer to University of Maryland, University College (UMUC.edu)

3) My daughter overloaded on credits per semester. At her college she was able to take up to 21 credit hours a semester. She started at the Community College, then transferred all of those classes to her University (Towson State University).

My younger daughter and son are going to go to University of Maryland, University College since my youngest daughter prefers their 8 week online classes and like being able to take up to 18 credits a semester. They also have full course loads offered even through the summer.

4) My daughter went to classes year around. She took Fall, Winter, Spring, and either the 1st session of Summer classes or the last.

5) My daughter enrolled in two Community Colleges at the same time, after she was positive that both locations accepted transfer credit from the others (as well as the 4 year university she planned on transferring to accepted the courses).

Total Cost of college - $28,000 for Associates and Bachelors degrees (with living on campus for 1 semester) Scholarships Totals $10,000 for both Community College and University

Additional Experiences: 
Study Abroad with Community College $2800 for airfare & accomadations
Internship with IDTech Camp and private Data Analytics Company


Time: 3 years


Her road to finishing her Masters in Data Science in 20 months

1) There was no easy way with this one. She had to select schools that were online and required the LEAST amount of classes.

2) Allowed her to take classes all year long.

3) Had accelerated programs.

The two colleges she reviewed were: Western Governer's College and University Of Maryland, University College. She decided to go with UMUC.edu because of the cost and she was guaranteed to finish in 20 months provided she passed all of her classes.

Total Cost of College - $13,000 since her employer pays for 1/2 of her degree
Time: 20 months

Friday, January 20, 2017

Why haven't things Settled Yet?



You Ever Feel Unsettled In Your Day To Day?

Well that's been us since we had to do a major readjustment to our curriculum and schedule do to time constraints and parental burnout.

We put more of the learning and homeschooling on online products and are focusing on Math, Writing and CLEP prep only with our one on one time and it's still doesn't seem to fit correctly.

So we had a Speed Racer MATH Melt Down since he is frustrated with the consequences of his actions. Nothing major, just smart mouth back talking, sneaking cellphone during school hours, staying up past his bedtime and falling asleep in the living room while watching TV (which was taken from his room).

In the midst of all of that we realized that he has a great grasp on Math on the Computer (because he has figured out how to 'cheat' the system). But I believe that our minds process computer based calculations differently than writing.

When he writes, he makes mistakes, skips steps and it slows him down. He doesn't have a chance to GUESS his answer.

Speed Racer's New Daily Schedule
He had a rough few weeks with his new curriculum. We are no longer using ABEKA as he finished most of his curriculum (to lesson 110 since we started late summer and are doing school year around.)

8am - Wake up Shower and Eat

10am - Online Independent work 

Vocabulary Review (Membean)
Algebra Practice (CTCMath)
Geometry Practice (CTCMath)
Basic Math Practice (Prodigy and IXL) 3 days a week
Humanities (Study.com)
Sociology (Study.com)

1:30pm - Lunch

2:30pm Online Independent work
He had a rough few weeks with his new curriculum. He has to re-watch videos without fast forwarding through when he fails a quiz or test. He also realized that each time he re-takes a quiz or test > Acellus gives him different questions for the 're-take' even though he passes the 'test-recovery review'. This means he can't just write down the ones he got correct before then type it in and only focus on the ones he gets wrong. I love this method since he is realizing that taking notes makes a big different. The videos he doesn't mind as they are similar to Abeka in that they have a teacher lecturing (but not to a class) to the viewing student. They are a bit dated, but the teachers are decent he says. The videos are MUCH shorter than Abeka in that they only last 4 to 10 minutes per section, then there is a quiz immediately after (Abeka online doesn't do this). He does like that there is no seatwork or extra homework since we are doing ACELLUS HOMESCHOOL option.

Algebra 1 [Acellus-Homeschool]
US History [Acellus-Homeschool]
Geography  [Acellus-Homeschool]
English [Acellus-Homeschool]
Psychology [Acellus-Homeschool]
Intro To Computer Science [Acellus-Homeschool ]


6pm - Martial Arts (3 days a week), Break Dancing

7:30 pm - Dinner


8:30pm - Work with Parents
Algebra 1 (Saxon Math) with Mom
Writing (Time4Writing) with Dad oversight
Psychology (Instantcert) with Dad oversight

Tiger Lilly New Daily Schedule

8am - Wake up Shower and Eat

10am - Start College work Online Independent work
Intro To Interactive Design
Information Systems in Organizations
Ethics in Information Technology

2pm - Finish College work and Mom or Dad reviews it 

4pm - Helps mom prep dinner

6pm -Japanese Class (T/Th),  Martial Arts (4 days a week)

8pm - Do Homeschool work

C# and Game Design (YouthDigital.com)
Network Pro (using TestOut.com since Landry is closed)
Marketing (Mom's curriculum)
Starting A Micro Business  (Homeschool book/workbook series)
Blender 3d Animation (Udemy.com)

 

WORKING PARENT's LOG
I am surviving! In the midst of a school year with constant and unexpected change. Flexibility is the key.

Meals we are not doing well with meal prep. I am just tossing meals together. My oldest daughter is starting a fitness diet change and no longer eats with us (our food doesn't fit in her meal plan). So I'm cooking for less, but getting more creative since I am not meal planning.

Cleaning. The kids have gotten back in a routine of having the house cleaned before dad or I get home (whichever one of us gets home the earlier that day). The one that goes in later gets them to take their shower and clean up after breakfast.

Work & Life Balance. It's been very hectic for me as my job is going through lots of changes and I am interviewing for other opportunities I feel are more stable. We will see where God leads me in this. My hubs is doing great though.

Lesson Planning. Totally crazy throwing stuff together at the last minute. With one of our favorite curriculum providers leaving it's been a mess.

Rest. Actually we are getting more. At least I am, since my youngest son has to stay in his room and we lock up the computers, game controllers, and cellphones so he doesn't roam the house at night.

Marriage Check Up. We are at a comfortable pace. We went to a marriage check up and viola, I found that he is upset when I make lunch for my older son who carpooled with me instead of making it for him. Valid point. So now I set aside leftovers for him to have for lunch the next day.




 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Your Kid's Vision Boarding!

HAVING KIDS 'Visualize' THEIR DREAMS





I'm sure you have heard the term VISION BOARDS and many people hop on that and think they should create one > but don't.

Well I have always kept a catalog of my dreams, hopes, and goals stored away in my notebook journal that I carry around with me in my purse. I started doing it when I was in my teens at the suggestion of a youth leadership conference I attended.

HOW TO for a YOUTH Vision board.

1) Jot down LONG TERM DREAMS and GOALS
2) Build a picture board of all those FUTURE ACCOMPLISHMENTS to come

THEN MAKE IT HAPPEN BY

1) Create a Goals Journal with your child
Have your child LIST the HOW TO steps to OBTAINING VISION BOARD goals

Reflect on the journal weekly

2) Mark off the NOW goals and the LATER goals

Create steps to obtaining the NOW goals.
Mark off any of the steps taken towards it.

REALIZING that DREAMS CAN COME TRUE

The exercise teaches kids that will planning, goal setting, dreaming, and research, they have the power to make their dreams come true.

IT's OKAY TO READJUST their VISIONS and DREAMS

So do an inventory one time a year and a new board, goal journal and see where it takes you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Unexpected Schedule Change Due to Vendor

One Thing About Homeschooling That's Good is

Fluidity!


Sadly, one of our curriculum vendors (Landry Academy) which we Loved is closing it's doors.





Unfortunately, I've paid in advance for 'generics' or discounted online classes that will now not be available to my students. They only offered a 'deal' with Veritas Press that cost $249 per class. Some of the teachers offered their own courses, but at $100 to $150 a piece, I really couldn't afford that option at this time.

I am upset, but refuse to hold on to anger. I spent about two weeks during this revising Speed Racer's and Tiger Lilly's schedule. And have to spend more unplanned money to get the support I need as a working parent for my kid's semi-independent instruction.

Many of the teachers contacted parents to offer solutions, but they had to get paid (I could understand since Landry hadn't paid them). They were reasonably priced, but with it being after the holidays, I really didn't have the funds to give out an additional $150 per class just like that.

So I had to find a cheap startup solution, and had been researching Acellus.com for next school year and signed up for the 'homeschool' option this year.

Replacement and change to ACELLUS.com is now our new online education provider that is replacing many of the classes with Landry.

Dashboard




Offers (1) Mobile App for parent to check progress

Offers (2) Parent Dashboard

The way it works: (1) Child takes assessment test in the beginning for each subject (2) Child watches 5 to 7 min video (3) Take quiz (4) If pass quiz, goes on to new video, If fail quiz, rewatch video - then retake quiz (5) Their progress and grade gets updated on Daily

Offers (3) Pay as you go Homeschool Option at $30 monthly for homeschool parents, print out/work sheets per subject (not a bunch but enough to have additional homework - it is by choice if you select the homeschool option)

Offers (4) upgrade to Tutoring (teacher support $50 per year / per class) or Accredited (teacher support and report card $80 a month) ~ Truth be told, if I was going in this direction I would just go with BJU online or AbekaAcademy online which come with books and accreditation for the same price.

Finding an online and interactive curriculum is VERY important to us as working parents. We also wanted something we could daily or hourly check the status of for our students.
ACELLUS also offers a High School DIPLOMA (which we won't need).

Our REVISED SCHOOL SCHEDULE for 2017
*Note: Mom and Dad check work daily*

Speed Racer Blended High Schooler (13 yrs)

Do Daily Independent
(Core Classes) 8am-2pm with 1 hr lunch and Two 15-min breaks

Algebra 1 Online Independent [Acellus-Homeschool Option-15 Lessons a week]
    Algebra 1 (practice) [CTCmath (my son requested to keep using this)]
US History Online Independent [Acellus-Homeschool Option-15 Lessons a week]
Geography Online Independent [Acellus-Homeschool Option-15 Lessons a week]
English Online Independent [Acellus-Homeschool Option-15 Lessons a week]
Intro To Computer Science Online Independent [Acellus-Homeschool Option-10 Lessons a week]
Sociology Online Independent [Study.com-5 Lessons a week]
Humanities Online Independent [Study.com-5 Lessons a week]
Geometry Online Independent [CTC.com-5 Lessons a week]

2 Days a week Independent when parents around to check workbooks
Vocabulary [Membean]
Speed Reading [AceReader]
Basic Math Practice [IXL and MineCraft Homeschool]
Daily Language Workbook
Wordly Wise Workbook
Cursive Quotes Copy Work 

Daily with Parental Interactive Instruction
Algebra 1 with Geometry [Saxon]
Psychology CLEP Prep
REVIEW OF WORK THAT WAS BELOW SCORE of 'B' for the day



Tiger Blended Dual Enrolled High Schooler (15 yrs)

College Classes
(8 week classes from Jan-Mar)
Intro To Interactive Design
Information Systems in Organizations
Ethics in Information Technology


Homeschool Classes
(Core Classes)
C# and Game Design (YouthDigital.com)
Network Pro (using TestOut.com since Landry is closed)
Javascript (Webucator)
Marketing (Mom's curriculum)
Mobile App Design (FREE online self Study course with Webucator)
Starting A Micro Business  (Homeschool book/workbook series)
Japanese (From Japanese to Zero, In person meet up, italki.com tutor)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Reflecting on 2016 and Way Forward for 2017



Happy Holidays!

Here's some thoughts on my reflection of 2016

What an exciting and unpredictable year this has been for my family and I. I wanted to reflect on some major highs and lows of this year since I will be taking a bit of a posting break til January.


Homeschool

My kids have grown to be independent learners this year. The truth is, they've surprised me and disappointed me in some ways with old habits creeping in. But overall, kids are AMAZING! and Resilient.

They've explored much in their learning and I gave them a lot of freedom.

Speed Racer: He is an exceptional learner. Still he is a bit lazy, has a ton of energy, and can be rather defiant with a smart mouth. However, he is so much improved since we started - and since the beginning of our school year.

I have come to realize that I can't let him push my buttons, although he does and I lose my temper, the kid just doesn't take it too personal. Even so, he's grown as a person and a student. Each year is an adventure and he actually teaches me more about myself, stretches my ability for patience, and my need for prayer.

I wouldn't change a thing.

Tiger Lilly: She is growing into an exceptional young woman who knows what she wants out of life. Her passion for art, video games and authoring is something she cultivates in her free time. As a dual enrolled homeschooled and online college student, time management is still one of her major challenges.

She still needs mom to make her accountable and we are continuing to work on that. Her mind and desire for owning and operating her own business to sell her art, her video games and her talet is astounding in someone so young. I have thoroughly enjoyed this journey with her.

Home Life and Marriage

My husband and I took a huge leap of faith and decided to uproot our family and move to a place we'd considered retiring to. We realized that we were too old to do the work so hard so you could retire early road, or the take a mini-retirement every 3 years road and were left with the 'move where you want to retire' dream realization.

It was the best decision of our lives. It has been challenging, but we wouldn't change a thing. We sold everything we had, transferred jobs (I got a new job) and moved our family.

On the marraige front, those amount of stressful changes did cause a lot of debate, gnashing of teeth, and meeting of the minds. It showed us how strong our bond had grown and that we still needed to learn how not to argue so passionately about things that really aren't important.



Work Life

Both of us are working and homeschooling parents. Thus the change in our work environment has a major impact on our lives. My husband had an easy work transition (somewhat) but didn't get money to move for his new job. In my case I took a consultant (temporary consulting job) that transferred to permanent employment. However, even that has been a challenge as there was downsizing on the job as a whole and lots of changes.

Counting Down

Yes, we are counting down the years we have left to homeschool. Likely, we will be doing it for Tiger Lilly until (2018 when she gets her BS degree at 17 yrs old) and for Speed Racer til 2020 - 2021 depending on his emotional maturity. That means another 5 to 6 years O_o --- oh my!

What are your reflections this year?



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Halt! We have a Cheating Problem






We have an ongoing challenge with one of our homeschool kids that involves CHEATING.

It ebbs and flows, but it happened frequently enough that we purchased a safe to hide the answer keys and books in.

WHY WOULD A HOMESCHOOLED CHILD CHEAT?

I don't know why other homeschooled children cheat, but here are the reasons my kids stated they attempted or succeeded in cheating.

1) They wanted a good grade (old traditional school philosophy)
2) They didn't feel like actually figuring out the work
3) It was easy because the answers were easily spotted
4) They did it to finish their work fast
5) They didn't realize it wasn't acceptable
6) They don't want to ask for help

WHAT WE TELL OUR KIDS ABOUT CHEATING in HOMESCHOOL

1) It's not about getting the answers RIGHT it's about LEARNING
2) You are only CHEATING YOURSELF because you are NOT ALLOWING US TO HELP YOU
3) Cheating will falter our trust in your honesty about your needs. If we don't know you need help, we can't help.
4) There are consequences for our actions, when you cheat at home, you will pay a consequence
5) This is an environment that is created for your own success and we will work through how to teach you, expose you and gain you the time and practice you need to succeed.

FORGIVING YOUR CHEATING CHILD

Once punishment is doled out we:

1) Tell them the slate is clean
2) Evaluate the method of instruction and figure out if we have to start from square one of the specified curriculum or topic (We've had a few redos)
3) Lock up the materials

LOOKING FORWARD

Kids eventually out grow this issue. It boils down to a behavioral issue in many cases. Consistency, parental emotional control in this situation and consequences help to move them in the direction of honesty and transparency to their needs, frustrations, or lack of enthusiasm for a subject that causes cheating.