Wednesday, May 17, 2006

You and Your State: Getting Help from Homeschool Organizations

Home schooling, despite its popularity, is yet to have one singular standard for acceptability or validity. This means that as you go around the country, different states have different requirements for your home school to be duly recognized.

The decision to home school your child isn’t to be taken lightly. However, once you’ve made your decision, it may be a good time to begin intensive research and inquiry into state requirements and other guidelines you have to take into consideration once you’ve made the decision.

There are states like Texas, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey or Oklahoma, among others, that do not require informing the state of any intention to home school your child. So technically, you may opt to start your preschooler on home schooling already or pull your child out of the formal educational system at your own will, should you decide that home schooling is for you.

Other states, however, would require you to inform the state and your child’s school of your intention to begin home schooling. It is only in this way that the state can accredit your child’s grade level standing. Alongside this expression of intent and plan is the requirement of the state for you to submit exam scores, progress evaluation grades, and even your child’s attendance record. The state may also specify an amount of time that should be spent in this informal school studying the various subjects you intend to teach your child.

The states with tightest home school regulations - such as Pennsylvania - set requirements of informing the state of your intent to home school your child. Alongside this expression of intent is the submission of the curriculum you intend to teach while home schooling. You may also be tested if you qualify as a parent-teacher when you home school your child. State-appointed officers may also visit your home to check if it is suitable for home schooling. Aside from these requirements, submission of periodic documents like exam scores, progress evaluation grades, and attendance records may be required of you as well.

Given this volume of information that you must be familiar with when you decide that you want to give home schooling a try, where will you find the necessary information?

Basically, your first and most primary source of information should always be your state or local government unit’s education office or authority. You can approach these agencies in two ways—either through the agency’s website or by visiting the physical location of the said government office. In order to save time and money, you should perhaps visit the website first. This is also most recommended as the primary course of action because of the fact that some of these educational agencies actually upload the necessary forms you have to fill out in relation to home schooling. Some of them even prefer your getting in touch with them and submitting your requirements online!

Next, you may want to check home schooling support groups in your state and legal specialists who have put up various websites on the subject. This way, you will be able to read of firsthand experiences of people who’ve tried home schooling before, and in the long run, learn valuable tips and tricks in order to make it work for you. They even provide various suggestions on activities and teaching strategies you may want to try as you home school your child.

Much of home schooling is very much feel-your-way-through, so don’t be afraid to visit these support groups and forums and ask questions. By doing so, you would be able to make sure that you are giving your child the best sort of home schooling you can provide for him or her. Moreover, you can even find out more about the post-home schooling period, which is the time when your child begins applying for university or college, from home schooled applicants who’ve gone through the usually much longer process.

Home schooling requirements may never be standardized across the country. Various legislative and administrative changes are underway each day. This is where online home schooling websites may help. They can give you news updates, briefings, and summaries of various state and federal legislation on home schooling. These timely bits of information may guide you better in home schooling your child, and keep you up to date with trends and changes in rules on home schooling across your state.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Another important off-topic post -

This is another hot topic that affects all of us who love freedom of speech. Bloggers who cover conservative political or religious issues, and anyone who is opposed to anything the current US Administration is doing should be particularly alarmed by this trend. Visit this site and find out how you can help!
The Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star
May 8, 2006 Monday 12:21 PM EST

HEADLINE: Telecom network a Web of confusion

The last major federal telecommunications act passed in 1996, back when Google was but a fledging research project. Suffice it to say, much has changed in online commerce and content. The Internet moves quickly. Congress, however, moves slowly - as in 30k dial-up modem slow. When the House finally does hunker down, it takes a powder on one of the Net's hottest debates. That would be "network neutrality," a vague term that belies a simple concept.

Proponents argue that Internet service providers (ISPs) shouldn't have a say in which Web sites surfers visit or how fast those sites load. Providers, such as SBC/AT&T, merely supply the network with which to access the Internet and must remain neutral over its speed and content. An amendment to the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act delineating such a standard recently died in a House committee. That's an unfortunate failure; the Senate shouldn't hesitate to take up the matter in its own telecom bill.

Bloggers have been buzzing about the need for neutrality since SBC and BellSouth executives floated the idea of a "tiered" Internet. The companies hope, for instance, to charge Yahoo! so that its site loads faster than Google's, or to make rival Net-phone firms like Vonage pay to use their broadband pipes.

The first idea is akin to a gas station charging a Chevy driver more than a Honda driver. The latter is like AT&T putting static on your line when a Verizon customer calls. Neither is exactly competitive.

Without neutrality, there are other foreseeable effects. An ISP that sells music could make iTunes slow to a crawl. A big-box retailer could muscle out small guys by paying to have its site more accessible. Firms that use one company for Net access but another for online conferencing could witness speed disintegrate. Most disturbing is the threat to free speech. While ISPs maintain that they won't tinker with content, it may be hard to resist. Time Warner recently purged a mass e-mail critical of AOL, and a major Canadian Internet company prevented customers from visiting the site of its employee union. That's like a paperboy ripping out pages of a newspaper.

As telecoms merge and concentrate power, fewer companies will control access to the Internet. They are certainly entitled to make money. However, they want to move beyond charging subscribers and start charging Web sites simply for being online. Absent a neutrality standard, a few big companies could skew Net access beyond recognition.

Some of this can be so complex, especially for those not born in the computer age, that it can be difficult to wade through. But we all understand that competition is good. If America is entering the era of Internet regulation, it would be advisable if Congress erred on the side of competition and passed "network neutrality." Go ahead and Google it.

Reprinted with permission, The Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Eat Healthy and Make Extra Cash

I have been involved in network marketing for years and have made a good deal of money, and lost a good deal of money. I have found that the most profitable opportunities usually have a start up cost that is beyond the reach of a typical one-income homeschooling family, and that "free" opportunities are free for a reason and not worth the time you would spend promoting them.

The opportunities listed in the margin run the gamut expense-wise, but I wanted to take a moment and highlight a FREE program that is actually worth investigating. The company is called The Wholefood Farmacy, and the healthy products they sell are exceptional. Best of all for the homeschooling family, there is no start up cost.

From their website: "The Wholefood Farmacy opened it's doors in March 2003 with a Mission to Educate and Inspire people to embrace the “7 Principles of Life” and to reach their true potential by attaining Physical Health, Emotional Health, and Financial Freedom.”

The 7 Principles of Life!

1. Fresh Air & Sunshine

2. Water

3. Whole Foods

4. Walking

5. Loving Relationships

6. Passion

7. A Good Night’s Sleep

To that end, The Wholefood Farmacy offers healthy, convenient whole food based meals & snacks, non-toxic personal care items, and a website dedicated to "self-care" and a preventative based lifestyle.

All of this, combined with a simple, generous, Referral Rewards program, Free Membership, Free Websites, and "world class" customer care, combine to offer you a one-stop-shop for all things healthy and uplifting."

I suppose it depends on what you consider "all things healthy and uplifting." WFF is not a Christian enterprise, and in fact, makes no statement of faith of any kind. I have found everything else they say about their website, their world class service and the quality of their offerings to be absolutely true. I think that it meshes nicely with my Christian worldview.

Most people overeat for reasons other than physical hunger. But the other "hungers" that we try to satisfy with food can only be satisfied by God. Furthermore, most people don't have any idea what it feels like to be truly hungry or politely full. We eat because we think something will taste good and then stuff ourselves until we think we will burst! The idea is to retrain your body to eat only within the parameters of hunger and fullness. Within these parameters, "all foods are clean" in moderation. No more denying yourself a piece of cake, or real butter, or Alfredo sauce, or whatever. You can actually eat whatever you want. Needless to say, the multibillion-dollar weight loss/health food industry doesn't want this to catch on!

But there is a catch. You have to admit that it is idolatry (!) to run to food for comfort or whatever, that only God can give. In our culture we eat when we're celebrating, we eat when we're sad, we eat after a funeral, we have potlucks at church, we eat when we're bored, angry, lonely, you name it. We should be looking to God for our every need. I had some success with the hunger and fullness part, but not with the "looking to God for your every need" part. Trying to do this on my own, I did lose some weight, but I put it all back on in just a few months.

You may recognize some of these principles from the Weigh Down Workshop, which is where I first discovered the depth of my own idolatry. Food, and a number of other things, were/are idols in my life. It is all too easy to spend more time watching television, pursuing hobbies, exercising, getting on the computer, reading, compiling Creative Memories photo albums or almost anything, than it is to spend time feeding on God's Word, or spending time with Him.

Even homeschooling can become an idol in our lives when we become obsessed with competing with the government schools - cracking the whip over little Susie or Stevie to spell


so they can win the Scripps-Howard spelling bee, staying up all night creating lesson plans, lamenting that they are "only" in the 92nd percentile on the Stanford Achievement Test, making sure we have covered every single subject every single day, and ferrying them back and forth to music lessons, Scouts, AWANA, dance lessons, youth group, field trips, Toastmasters, etiquette lessons, choir, soccer, Little League, and all the things we enroll them in to avoid the dreaded allegation that they are not sufficiently "socialized." Puhleeze.

This is not the worldview that The Wholefood Farmacy is coming from, but I believe the two are complementary.

If you click through to the home page you will find five videos that are very eye opening about the state of our nation's food supply, and some of the hidden reasons that people are eating too much.

Gluttony notwithstanding, you may be surprised to discover that it is not all your fault if you are drawn to unhealthy food in unhealthy quantities. Food is big business in America and around the world, and there is a hidden agenda on the part of some of these companies to keep us eating their cheap snack foods and making them big bucks. One of the best ways to "shut off all the switches" that trigger your cravings for these fake foods is to discipline yourself to enter into a 13-day wholefood cleansing. I suppose a case could be made for the idea that The Wholefood Farmacy wants to make big bucks promoting these foods as well. But my experience with the wholefoods is that it was worth every penny.

There are a number of sampler packs and ways to investigate this company without breaking the bank, and you can join for free and purchase wholesale for yourself without any monthly autoship obligations.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Do you have Time to Home School?

You just spent eight hours making reports, filing papers, fielding phone calls, and placating your boss at the office. So, when you get home, do you rest?

Not really.

There’s a dinner to prepare, stories to share with your husband, and doing homework with the kids.

Such a scenario is — and will still be — typical among working mothers, who balance the countless demands of career and home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The problem with this is that the children are the ones who are always at the losing end.


Because parents - especially mothers - who are always busy with their work, tend to take for granted that the institutional school will provide the best education for their children. Sometimes they don't realize their children are falling through the cracks, or being bullied, or are being taught subjects that are in direct opposition to their religious faith.

However, in today’s changing world, some parents realize that sending their children to school is no longer necessarily the best way of providing the education that their children need. That’s why they have opted for home schooling, in order to provide the kind of learning that they want for their children, in the kind of values-laden environment they wish to promote.

In home schooling, most parents devote their time and try to provide their children the best education at home. They know that they are the ones who can provide the most appropriate teaching approach for their children because they know their children best.

However, it does not necessarily mean that parents have to devote more time to home schooling than they would to their other chores at home.

It is true that home schooling requires time to come up with the teaching approach that your children need. It is also through a committed schedule that you can identify the methods you need to employ in order to teach your children well. But it does not mean that you have to give your whole life over to teaching your children through home schooling programs.

Because home schooling uses the “one-to-one” teaching method; hence, it needs less teaching time than the typical classroom setting. You do not have to teach to the broad middle ground of a classroom, which usually leaves behind the slow ones and bores the bright ones. You can tailor the amount of material and its difficulty to the exact level of your child's ability.

So, the amount of time to be allotted in home schooling will still vary depending on the many factors that may affect the progress of the teaching process.

Here is a list of some factors that should be considered in order to decide what is the proper amount of time needed in home schooling:

1. Learning style of the children

There are instances wherein the children’s learning style might affect the time requirement in home schooling. For instance, if your child is a visual learner, he may be able to grasp concepts more quickly. An auditory learner can benefit from tapes that can be played over and over without you having to be there repeating the lesson. You may require more time on the front end setting up a project or other object lesson that will engage your kinesthetic learner - and then find that he learns fastest of all and retains more of what is taught.

However, if your child needs more time to grasp things that are being taught to him, then you have to devote more time in explaining to him or her the concept of the subject matter you are teaching. The good news, of course, is that you can take all the time you need without holding up the rest of the class.

2. The type of methods used

There are various teaching methods available for home schooling. Each has its own teaching approach. Many parents have chosen computer based curriculum or online academies to reduce the amount of preparation time and administrative tasks required. Others spend more time doing a unit study, which is a program that integrates a topic across all disciplines. There are unit studies that are already prepared for you including lesson plans, and then there are unit studies you can build yourself. They require much more preparation time on the part of the teacher, but for certain types of students they are far and away the best method, enabling far greater retention of the subject matter.

3. The number of children within the family

If you have several children who are at different grade levels, this is another area where a unit study can help you, because you can present the same material to several children at different grade levels and use it to achieve various objectives. It is NOT true necessarily that you must spend longer hours teaching a larger group of students. The older children can solidify their knowledge of the topic by reading aloud or teaching the younger children. They can even be trusted with small administrative tasks as they become more responsible.

I think it is actually easier to have several children just a few years apart than it is to have only two who are many years apart. It is taxing to try to teach a young child to read AND an older one algebra. When you have a high schooler and a preschooler you are working with completely different types of courses of study.

4. The age of the child

Younger children need more teacher interaction than older children, but you can also work with them in short bursts rather than trying to make them sit for hours on end. Some young children grasp concepts quickly, others are daydreamers who need to be carefully monitored. There really is no hard and fast rule about how the age of your child affects the amount of time you need. By the time you children are older, if you have been home schooling any length of time, you have already taught them time management skills and shifted into the role of a coach who doesn't have to be sitting with them all day.

It is fair to say that even a mom who works outside the home can do some home teaching with an older child, but justice will probably not be done to either work or school unless your child is a self-starter. But you CAN work and home school if you are willing to consider working at home - either via telecommuting, or having your own home business.

Next time we will look at some work-at-home options.