Wednesday, January 22, 2014

TWO steps FORWARD and TWO BACKWARDS

Rewards and Consequences

So this week we’ve had a few hiccups.

NOTHING IS EVER PERFECT

Nope. Nothing.

So I did mention that I had a 2 week vacation of sorts. That my older daughter was substituting school for me. For the most part things went well. Until I decided to check the kids test and quiz grade book (it comes with their DVD out of the box curriculum).

I noticed that none of the quizzes or test were completed for the last 2 weeks.

Upon further inspection of the online math program both kids do for their ‘Math Lab’ I noticed that problems were skipped and test or quizzes had a FAILING GRADE!

ACCOUNTABILITY

The problem here is….(da da da) ‘lack of accountability’. Now my older daughter seemingly did what she was supposed to do. She was present during lessons. Available when students needed assistance – BUT, she didn’t make them accountable for their work by checking it.

REWIND and doing MAKE-UPS

So for the next 3 weekends my kids will be ‘Making Up’ the missed quizzes and test. So no activities (fun ones) will be planned for those 3 weekends bcause they decided to play with the SUBSTITUTE TEACHER.

JUST BECAUSE YOU HOMESCHOOL DOESN’T MEAN KIDS won’t BE KIDS

I share that to say, when my kids were in traditional school, they goofed off, had fun, laughed, MISSED HOMEWORK assignments, failed test or skipped out on quizzes.
You know what? Being homeschooled they do the same thing if given the chance.

REWARDS and CONSEQUENCES

I believe in life we all have rewards and consequences for our actions. Learning is the same way. Real life – Learning isn’t always fun, done our way, easy or even pleasant. But being able to learn inspite of those barriers can be rewarding.

Having a system of REWARDS and CONSEQUENCES helps kids get a taste of what the world has to offer. It also is more of a life lesson than discipline.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Preparing to CLEP test out of COLLEGE courses


Oh my was I naive. Having two kids already in college, one that graduated from traditional school and the other I homeschooled for six months before graduating her, I thought I knew it all.

But then I started homeschooling my younger kids. My 7th grader has seriously blossomed during homeschooling and has an insatiable appetite for learning. I seriously can barely keep up. So after talking to my Umbrella Coordinator with my umbrella group that does my documentation for me for the state, provide transcripts and diploma's with lots of support if I request it, we decided to skip her listed grade to 8th grade. I wanted her to continue advanced topics but to gain High School Credit for it.

PREPARING FOR HIGH SCHOOL

Now that meant I had to start her on the road to High School then College. Researching curriculum, pitting it against the state requirements...oh my!

During my research I found out the value of taking CLEP test.

These are the options I presented to my daughter who wants to be a Doctor, but loves computers also. So I suggested she get her 4 yr degree in Computer Science related course and just take her pre-req classes (sciences) for medical school.

1) High School classes + Community College Classes = Dual Credit and Associates Degree (finish AA at 17 yrs old or 11th grade)

2) High School Classes + Community College Classes + CLEP test = BS or BA degree from online Univ. (finish 1st BS or BA at 18yrs old) through CLEP test, Community College Classes and Online College) she'd then be a transfer student at University for 1 year to gain her classes for pre-med.

Tiger Lilly decided she wanted to do Option # 2 (she is very competitive with her sister that did Option #1)

THE PLAN TO CLEP it!

Resource #1

We considered using COLLEGE PLUS (www.collegeplus.org) which is a service that preps students for taking multiple CLEP test then transferring to online colleges or other colleges that use CLEP for credit. The service test the student to see what fields fit them, gives them prep training in logic, memorization tools (Learning Network tool) and maps out their CLEP to Degree plans. A coach of the same sex contacts them and works with them every 2 weeks. It cost about $3000 for the service.

However, with 2 kids in college at the same time, shelling out the extra money just wasn't possible. I really wanted to use COLLEGE PLUS.

Resource #2

But I found a book by Tricia McQuarrie named CLEP Lesson Plans.  Find book here (http://clepprep.tripod.com/cleplessonplans/id23.html) and she has some free lesson plans on her website here (http://clepprep.tripod.com/cleplessonplans/id4.html). By reading her website and the Chapman Kids website where he explains how he prepped his then 13yr old daughter to CLEP out of courses (http://chapmankids.net/blog/clep-test-prepartion/).

OUR PLAN

So after sitting with my daughter, reading with her the options and the lesson plans above we decided to go for it - the College Plus way by augmenting her High School Courses to help her prepare for the similar CLEP exam.

RELATED CLEP TEST: to take in high school

We will tackle the overlapping test within 4 weeks of each other, combining 'like' subject matter on test that have similar pieces of information within.

How we decided what to take:
1) We researched online Universities that took CLEP test and mapped the degree credits to the CLEP test.

2) We researched Community Colleges and Universities near us where Tiger Lilly wanted to go and saw what CLEP test they accepted and what the credit would be.

3) We decided to take test that coincided with her high school studies.

In this order she will test

9th Grade

CLEP Test Planned
Analyzing & Interpreting Lit (3 college credits)-8 weeks to study
English Composition with Essay (6 college credits) - 8 weeks to study
English Lit no essay (3 college credits) - 10 weeks to study
American Lit no essay (3 college credits) - 8 weeks to study
Humanities (3 college credits) - 8 weeks to study

Classes that will help her prepare:

Abeka 10th grade English & Language Arts
Time4Writing SAT essay writing (8weeks)
Analytical Grammar (17 weeks)
Sequential Spelling (use with Abeka spelling program for 24 weeks)
Humanities (free online course Education-Portal.com with book entire school year)
REA Clep Test books for each subjects (8weeks per study session for each test)
InstaCert monthly subscription (daily from the 4th month of studies during REA book reviews)

10th Grade

CLEP Test Planned
College Math (3 college credits)-8 weeks to study
College Algebra  (3 college credits) - 8 weeks to study
American Government (3 college credits) - 8 weeks to study
US History 1 (3 college credits) - 10 weeks to study
US History 2 (3 college credits) - 5 weeks to study
Western Civ 1 (3 college credits) - 8 weeks to study
Western Civ 2 (3 college credits) - 5 weeks to study

Classes that will help her prepare:

Abeka US History (and Free online Education Portal Class)
Western Civilation (Free online Education Portal Class)
Thinkwell US History
Algebra 1 (taken in 8th grade)
Algebra 2 (Abeka & Foersters 'Math Without Borders)
CLEP Professor Dive CD
Geometry (taken in 8th grade - refresher using Teaching Textbooks)
REA Clep Test books for each subjects (8weeks per study session for each test)
InstaCert monthly subscription (daily from the 4th month of studies during REA book reviews)

11th Grade

CLEP Test Planned
Sociology (3 college credits)-8 weeks to study
Psychology  (3 college credits) - 8 weeks to study
Biology (3 college credits) - 8 weeks to study
Chemistry (3 college credits) - 10 weeks to study
Pre-Calculus (3 college credits) - 5 weeks to study


Classes that will help her prepare:

Sonligh Psychology (and Free online Education Portal Class)
Sociology Online Course and Companion short overview book (Free online Education Portal Class)
Biology (Abeka and Thinkwell taken in 9th grade)
Chemistry (Abeka and Thinkwell)
Pre-Calc (Abeka)
CLEP Professor Dive CD
REA Clep Test books for each subjects (8weeks per study session for each test)
InstaCert monthly subscription (daily from the 4th month of studies during REA book reviews)

12th Grade

CLEP Test Planned
Physics (3 college credits)-8 weeks to study
Natural Science (3 college credits) - 8 weeks to study
Calculus (3 college credits) - 8 weeks to study
Information Systems (3 college credits) - 10 weeks to study


Classes that will help her prepare:

Physics (Abeka and Free online Education Portal Class)
Natural Science  (Free online Education Portal Class)
Biology (Abeka and Thinkwell taken in 9th grade)
Calculus (Saxon Calculs with Dive CD and Thinkwell)
Information Systems (Free online course:  and Programing with Youth Digital, Homeschool Programming Classes in Java and C)
CLEP Professor Dive CD
REA Clep Test books for each subjects (8weeks per study session for each test)
InstaCert monthly subscription (daily from the 4th month of studies during REA book reviews)

WHY INTEGRATE IT?

I know now how my daughter learns. Finding ways to integrate similar subjects in her coursework, then focusing on one test to study at a time will give her the best benefit.

The positives is that after she's done this, taking the SAT will simply be a breeze. Even taking the MCAT, because she will know the process of HOW TO STUDY and what works best for her.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Out Of Place Working Homeschooling Parent?


THIS WEEK In Review...
Daddy took the kids on a field trip in his new 'Homeschool Dad' t-shirt. The kids had another great week with their expanded subject list and my 16yr old dd is conducting school for me until she returns to Community College at the end of the month. Yippee!

THE SQUARE WITH A BUNCH OF CIRCLES

That's what I feel like when I go to Homeschool events in our local area. The other moms are rather nice, welcoming and open. However, we have very little in common.

I'm a Working Mother, will always be and has always been.

I truly enjoy working and being a mom. Now with homeschooling, I have to be honest and say, I love that also. And I'm good at all of those areas. Really good. (at least that's what my Hubba tells me). I haven't felt burned out, trapped or frustrated with it and I do believe in some cases traditional school is okay and always an option.

Yet when I'm surrounded by my homeschooling teacher peers, they all LOVE being 'stay at home moms', think of public school as a real life villain and seemed pretty similar in some of their motivations. But respect that I do work.

WHY I WILL NEVER GIVE UP WORKING

Simple economics of life and common sense for our family.

I've seen the 'other side of love' and it ain't pretty. My mother single handedly raised my brother and I after neither one of our fathers stuck around. My aunt who was married 2 times was left with 8 kids to raise on her own when one of her husband's died and the other left.

Although, I have a great and wonderful husband, I personally don't think it fair or realistic to believe that he should take care of all of the family finances when I am fully capable of helping. Also, if he were to ever lose his job, get ill, or some other catastrophe happen, he knows without a doubt I have his 'back' just as much as he has mine.

There were times when he was laid off and I still worked. There were times when I was laid off and he still worked. And there were times when we both were laid off and one of us found a job first. Also, when our kids were younger, he worked nights and I worked days. Or, he ran a home-based business for 5 years and rented an office to see clients to work around our kid's schedules. But both of us have always consistently worked outside the home.

IS IT CULTURAL?

Now I am an African American female, who has a ton of peers and family of multiple cultures. Most all of my African American friends who are married with kids - work.

A good number of my other race friends who have multiple kids, either stay at home while their husbands support the family or they've found jobs where they work from home.

So I'm believing that in some ways, this is a cultural thing at least where I live.

WHAT WILL I TEACH MY DAUGHTERS?

I will teach them to have viable careers that will allow them to have the best of both worlds. To be able to work, sometimes from home and be able to take breaks. I will teach them to be realistic and believe that although Love is a wonderful thing, it takes work and 2 people and that being a partner to your spouse also means not expecting them to be everything. That you want him to know that if he ever needs a help mate to sustain the family, she will and can do it. I also would hope that even when they are home with their kids, they at least work part-time outside the home to give them a bit of a break.

BUT...Grandma is more than happy to stay home with the grandbabies - just bring them on over.

STAY AT HOME? WHY NOT?

I believe staying at home isn't a bad thing. My husband stayed at home for 5 years and ran a very lucrative business while doing so. But it was a difficult dynamics for both of us and he was ready to get out of the house. He didn't have many adult friends that were male and at home, so he was adamant that he had to still work in some capacity. My Hubba is an amazing man to have maintained a successful business yet my kids didn't think he worked at all, lol!

As for me...It's just not my thing. I love working, being challenged outside the home, having other things besides the kids to talk to my husband about, to meet him for lunch, to exercise my mind, to network to build opportunities for my kids. I got lonely during the few times I'd been home for 1 year with the kids when they were infants even though I was working on my Master's Degree while home.

By me working, I was able to get my husband a job at a great company I was working at. He's extremely happy there, while I've moved on. By working, I was able to land my son a great internship just because of who I knew.

So for me, although staying at home sounds great, I see the benefits in me working and couldn't even see giving that up just to homeschool.

TIMES I KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT

So when I'm around the peers in my homeschool group of moms, who complain about how hard it is to school the kids at home and take care of the house (I keep my mouth shut) because I find it extremely fulfilling and not difficult at all to both homeschool and work. There are times it's challenging, but not once have I felt the need to complain about it being hard. Maybe working outside the home, having had kids in public school - I realize just how lucky I am.

HOMESCHOOLING AND WORKING why do BOTH?

I have to be honest. For me, homeschooling is SO much easier than when the kids were in public school. MUCH easier. I know what my kids are learning, they like learning now that they don't have all the drama in school, and we work together for their success. We have flexibility to work it around my work schedule, their activity schedule and explore subjects in pieces...it's just plain wonderful to have this type of freedom.

It's not hard. I don't complain, because I appreciate being able to do it. I actually rush home from work to school them (using a boxed curriculum or interactive curriculum where I administer but not really have to teach).

THE GREAT DEBATE

This is always a debate item. I consider it a mute point. Do what works for you and your family. What fulfills you. Because in the end, you only ever get 1 life here on earth. Make it count.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's 2014 already and we are on a ROLL





Yep, it's that time a year. RESOLUTIONS. GOAL SETTING. HOPE for WONDERFUL things to come.

Here's some of our GOALS this year.

THE COLLABORATION

We sit down once a year and my husband and I come up with goals or resolutions for our family. It's not a formal thing, but it is something we pray about as a family and plan a bit.

IN 2014 WE PLAN

To save more. We've cut 5 of our family vacations back so that we can fund our 16yr old's first study abroad program. She will be going to both Ireland and Denmark this summer. Not to mention I had to take a serious cut in pay at the end of 2013 for a new job.

To 'date' more. Since both my Hubba and I work as well as participate in facilitating our homeschool, we've slacked off a bit on our weekly date nights. We decided to amp them up again to a bi-weekly firm date.

To explore more. In someways our homeschool is working out perfectly. But we do want to explore some other aspects of it by using a 'block schedule' adding in some correspondence courses for both kids and finding some long stay summer camps for the 2 younger kids to get more 'socialized'.

To try out some new church homes. Our kids love our current church. But it's going through some changes and my Hubba and I feel as though our spiritual growth is a bit stunted. However, our kids absolutely love our church and grew up there. I have to admit both Hubba and I are shy about walking into new churches and the thought of doing something new is a bit daunting, but it's time.

NOW for our first week of the YEAR IN REVIEW

School kicked off on Monday, Dec. 30th and we had the holiday off, and even through the week ended in a SNOW DAY for local schools, we had class.

The kids are into a GREAT routine and my 12 year old daughter kicks off her school day independently with her computer-based courses while my 10 year old 4th grader still sleeps in til the final minute.

We just added Time4Writing.com (SAT Essay 8 week course) to Tiger Lilly's week and she slid that in with no problem.

Speed Racer finished his elementary Spanish program and we are starting with Easy Peasy Spanish for Grade 6 which seems rather light for him but he's enjoying it so far.

MY OLDER TWO tackle the CLEP TEST

After 1.5 weeks of intense studying, Education-Portal.com videos, Instantcert.com flash cards, REA sample test and Quizlet flashcards...

My older daughter who's 16yrs old and my 19 year old son took 2 CLEP test. My dd 16yrs old passed 2 of hers (Humanities and US History) after studying for 1.5 weeks so she wouldn't have to take 2 winter courses to graduation. My ds of 19yrs old took the Analyzing Lit CLEP and passed but failed the US History 1 CLEP by just 5 points.So he will be taking the course over the winter.

MY NEW ADVENTURE with a NEW JOB

With homeschooling and starting a new job this week I was a bit frazzled. But it all worked out. The new job proves to have a great engineering team I'll be working with. The work schedule is extremely flexible. I am only a block away from my Hubba's job and the work is exciting! If you didn't know already, by day I am an Engineer, on the weekends I'm a Young Adult Author with some published works and during the week I am a homeschooling mom. Yeah, it's crazy I know, but I'm loving every moment of it.

What are your hopes for 2014?