Monthly Archives: May 2016

Homeschool Testing Services


Portfolios, evaluations and tests Oh my!

It’s that time of year when you are getting your samples together for your evaluator or portfolio.  Don’t panic, especially if you are new to this whole process.  If you were organized throughout the year, there is really nothing to worry about.  If you learn nothing else today, remember you don’t need every single item to show to the evaluator.  It can be overwhelming sure, but believe me – I always bring way too much, and they tell me every time.students-148163__180

HSLDA has information on a state by state basis that shows what is required of your student to be promoted.  You may be surprised, you may not need very much for your evaluation.  You want to start by knowing all the facts, do some research and you will be prepared.  One more thing is don’t make this a big deal for your child.  They will sense if you “panic”, so do your best to keep cool.  From past experience, homeschooled students, for the most part are usually over achievers (parents are anyway).

There is a list of guidelines by Robin Sampson with checklists for evaluating progress in language arts, math social studies and science (k-8th) as well as character development.  Most parents find it reassuring to have some guidelines for their children’s progress.  Check out this book:

What Your Child Needs to Know When: According to the Bible, According to the State–Expanded Edition
By Robin Sampson / Heart of Wisdom Publishing

God and the state are not always on the same page when it comes to your children’s education. Sampson looks at their differences and explains how to teach and evaluate your kids from a biblical perspective using the “Heart of Wisdom” approach—a strategy of reading the Bible while incorporating all academic subjects. This edition of Sampson’s bestseller includes new evaluation checklists. 296 pages, softcover from Heart of Wisdom.

Some states may require periodic progress reports, while others require standardized testing or some other for of evaluation.  No matter what the legal requirement, you may want to have a more formal assessment done for your own personal peach of mind.  You know when the results come in, you feel like the results are about you, and if you did a good job with your child.

The three most commonly used methods of assessment are standardized testing, evaluations, and portfolio submission.

Standardized Testing

testingMake sure you are aware of your state’s deadlines for the tests and assessments.  You will need to have everything in hand before the testing materials are due – so order what you need ahead of time.  It could take weeks to get some standardized testing results back, so be prepared.  Below are a few of the commonly used tests.  You can go
online and familiarize yourself with all of them, and decide which would be appropriate for your child.

  • Basic Achievement Skills Inventory (BASI) for grades 3–12
  • California Achievement Test (CAT)
  • Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)
  • Stanford Achievement Test (Stanford-10 or SAT, not to be confused with the College Board SAT)

No matter what test you decide to use, it is very important to test with integrity.  You must make sure you honor the time limits on the test, if this will be an issue with your child, I suggest you choose a more fitting test for your child (Standard 10).  If we, as homeschoolers, don’t faithfully complete and follow all the directions, this will only hurt our chances of using these options in the future.


Evaluations are used many times for the pure non-pressured environment this gives your child.  This is simply an assessment given your child to see and learn the progress of your child.  It is given by an educational professional, usually a certified teacher or other professional.  In some states this can even be someone with a master’s degree in any certain discipline.  Again, you can check this on a state-to-state basis as to what would be appropriate for you.  The evaluator will normally let you know what will be expected before hand so you and your child can both be prepared.  You will most probably need a portfolio of your child’s work, and your child will have to spend some time talking to the evaluator.

A few things to ask a potential evaluator:

  • What do you charge?
  • Do you have any references I may call?
  • What are your educational credentials?
  • Will you include recommendations or suggestions for me?
  • What will you need from me/my child when you arrive (or we meet you)?

There are, of course, other questions you can ask, and don’t be afraid to get some feedback from other homeschoolers who have used certain evaluators.  Word of mouth is usually the best idea when searching for something as important as this.  Remember all of this is at the discretion of the school superintendent in your state/county.  They will want to make sure your child is making adequate progress in the areas of language arts and math especially.


A portfolio is really no big deal either, it is just a sort of scrapbook or a collection of your child’s work for the year.  Some states will let you turn this in without using a professional evaluator, so again, so important to find out your state’s law.  You will automatically have all these items on hand, especially if you kept a month by month folder perhaps, to keep track of those extra special items you are proud of.  Some items you may want to include in your portfolio are:

  • Reading log – books that were read though the year
  • Scope/sequence of the curriculum used for language arts and math
  • Photos of your child doing school work, on field trips, on sports teams, socializing with others, etc.
  • List/description of projects and achievements.
  • Samples of your child’s work at various times during the year- make sure these are in chronological order so progress can be seen

Again, if you have been prepared throughout the year, this will not be too much of a hill to climb for you.  As I stated at the beginning, you do not need a ton of work, just enough to show progress.  Some parents can lug around huge 3-ring binders full of book reports, science projects, math quizzes – well don’t get carried away.  You really only need “one” 3-ring binder!  Make this part of your child’s everyday schedule – let them start to make a scrapbook of the things they are most proud of.

Homeschool Planners





Famous Homeschooled Athletes


Homeschool students have truly come very far to gain recognition not only as homeschoolers, but as professional athletes as well.  Studies have shown that standardized tests for homeschoolers have grown some 20 points above average.  There are colleges all over the United States who realize the standards of homeschoolers and are opening their doors to them.

There is always the question, can homeschoolers receive athletic scholarships to college.  Both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) recognize the legitimacy of homeschool diplomas and transcripts, making them eligible for athletic scholarships in colleges throughout the country.

The homeschool student athlete attending an NCAA Division I or Division II school must have the institution submit an initial eligibility waiver application to the NCAA national office. The waiver application must include the following:

  • Homeschool transcript
  • ACT and SAT test scores
  • Description of the homeschool teaching environment
  • List of titles of all textbooks for homeschool courses
  • Copies of the table of content for textbooks utilized in core courses (a sampling)
  • Samples of work completed, such as papers by the students In addition, the NCAA also requests a letter from the parent indicating that the homeschooling was conducted in accordance with applicable state laws.  (This information received directly from the NCAA website.)


NCAA STATEMENT:  “If you want to play NCAA sports at a Division I or II school, you need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center if you were home schooled for any part of high school. If you are planning to attend a Division III school, you do not need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.”

NAIA STATEMENT:  “Home schooled and GED students must still meet entering freshmen requirements, though the criteria for meeting those requirements have been adapted to fit the distinctive high school experience.”

It has also been noted by Gretchen Carlson who currently serves as anchor of FOX News Channel’s (FNC) “The Real Story”.  The following is a clip from Gretchen’s Take:  Let homeschooled kids play school sports.  (Click Picture to follow link to video.)


Just A Few Famous Homeschooled Athletes

80px-Tim_Tebow_TebowingTim Tebow received an athletic scholarship in 2006 to attend the University of Florida to play for its famous team, the Gators.  He was homeschooled by his mother, who instilled in him the family’s Christian beliefs throughout his early years.  His standards and views are well known throughout the football community with the use of his eye black/verse and the prayer stance we have come to know and love.  He is also the first homeschooler to have won the Heisman Trophy.

120px-Serena_and_Venus_Williams_(9630777503)Venus and Serena Williams, the well known tennis superstars, were both homeschooled through their elementary years and on into junior high school.  They were happy they could focus on what they loved, and grow their talents into who they are today.  They were definitely blessed with a gift, but their father took their schedules in hand to make sure both girls would not burn out. The sisters have both went on to do great things with both winning Wimbledon titles in 2012, and also a list of other championships.

120px-Jason_Taylor_Jets-Dolphin_game_Nov_1,_2009Jason Taylor played football at the University of Akron on a NCAA scholarship and later signed a contract to play with the Miami Dolphins.  After some research I see that Jason Taylor is the first homeschooled player in the National Football League.  Jason Taylor was homeschooled during high school, but he played sports for Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

michelle kwanMichelle Kwan is a five-time world champion figure skater and two-time Olympic medalist.  Michelle left public school at the age of 13 to be homeschooled and continue to practice and grow her talent.  Michelle Kwan is also known for writing an inspirational book for children titled, The Winning Attitude: What it Takes to be a Champion, and at the age of 17, wrote an autobiobraphy titled, Heart of a Champion.

Importance Of Academics

It’s not only important to be up on your game, but it is even more important to have your academics in good standings.  You need to be on top of the course standards and core course requirements for the colleges you are interested in.  Have all the information you need ahead of time, as far as transcript requirements and/or scholarship information needed.  Start getting your stuff in order, contact the colleges you are looking at to find out their specific athletic requirements.  It’s common for high school juniors to have already contacted these colleges for specific course requirements.

The HSLDA has done extensive research into the qualifications for entering the NCAAimages with athletic scholarships.  The NCAA has a PDF entitled “Eligibility Center“, which talks you through the process and helps you know ahead of time, the necessary items needed in your transcript.  I have learned that approximately 100 homeschool students each year successfully complete the academic eligibility.

For the Christian homeschooler, the ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God.  We need to remember that God requires us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  We realize, it is only by God’s grace and mercy that we have these gifts at all.  So, with all this said, it is so important to stay focused on your studies, and not give up on your dreams.  From the examples I have given above, we can see this is very doable.  Nothing is easy or is handed to you – so keep focused and have a good outlook on the tasks needed to achieve your goals.

007285Through My Eyes
By Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker / HarperCollinsOver the past five years Tim Tebow has established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history and a top prospect in the NFL. In Through My Eyes he shares his inspiring story. From the circumstances of his birth to Christian missionaries in the Philippines to his homeschool roots and record-setting career with the Florida Gators, Tebow tells how his Christian faith, family values, and determination to succeed propelled him to achieve his dreams.



Michelle KwanMichelle Kwan: Heart of a Champion  An Autobiography  At sixteen, Californian Michelle Kwan claimed the women’s World Champion crown. A bright and appealing role model for kids and adults alike, her story is one of hard work and true achievement.



The Winning Attitude: What it Takes to Be a Champion  Here Michelle helps readers to see their own potential – and how to become a champion in their own lives. Reading about Michelle’s experiences will inspire readers and allow them to peek inside the interior world of a champion skater. Quizzes at the end of each chapter will help readers to evaluate themselves so that soon they too can be on the road to making their dreams come true.

41hKjw-HgkL._SL110_On The Line  In this compelling and poignant memoir, Serena takes an empowering look at her extraordinary life and what is still to come.



Homeschool Affiliate Programs


How to Make a Living as A Blogger

If you are wondering how bloggers and businesses work together, one option is affiliate programs.  In the beginning the blogger may not have a great payout as it would in private ads.  There is some growth potential with using affiliate programs for both bloggers and businesses.

There are so many more home school sites that have opened up into the affiliate program world – reason being, affiliate marketing creates easy advertising for them.  If you are a homeschool blogger you can jump on this bandwagon and start an easy line of income for yourself.  So you see, it’s a win/win situation.  The affiliate programs benefit and so do the bloggers and businesses out there.


Starting To Promote

When you are starting to promote, find a company you like, you can usually sign up with very little information required.  When you have been approved, you will have links and access to promotional items such as banners.  Also, look for companies that have products you are already promoting, there are many more out there than you think.

Take advantage of the affiliate banners that they provide – you can place the affiliate ads in the top and sidebars of your blog and also within the posts as well.

Now you want to write some posts that will be centered on your affiliates.  You want to incorporate your affiliate links within your posts whenever possible.  This makes it a natural way for your readers to link to the affiliate marketing site.  The easier it is for them to find it, the more likely they will return to your site.

Some times an affiliate company will offer you a kickback for introducing others to their affiliate program.  Do some research to find out these opportunities, this is really worth your while.  One I am familiar with is See the Light Shine.  Don’t forget to let everyone know you are working with affiliates.  You need to disclose this information somewhere on your site, for instance you can tag the words with “affiliate links” or you can write something at bottom of post stating “this post contains affiliate links”.  The more up front you are with your readers, the more likely they will return.

images (5)

I would like to show you some of the affiliate programs out there, of course there are many more (I am familiar with these.)

Now you want to choose an affiliate platform that will make it easy on you and easy for the blogger.  I don’t choose affiliate platform just based on the cost, but it is definitely a good thing to check out some reviews and do a little homework.  You can learn about the brands you will be dealing with and how they are doing through reviews.

If the affiliate company you work with allows you to set your own payout threshold, be sure to set it at a dollar amount that isn’t some crazy amount.  When a blogger is only receiving 5% per sale on $25 products, it takes a long time to reach a $100 payout.  Keep this in the back of your mind.

Affiliate platforms and software:  (Again, these are a few I am familiar with, do some research, there are more out there I’m sure.)

Hope I’ve Helped

If any of this information has been a help to you, please let me know.  It’s always good to here from other homeschoolers and how they are working with affiliate programs.


How To Focus On Your Goals


It Was One Of Those Days

I’m sure, as you start winding down your year, you are going to feel the same wayend of school some days.  We have to get ready for our evaluation, portfolio ready and hope you did OK throughout the year so your child can move on.  There are so many things to think about when homeschooling, sometimes I say to my kids, don’t you just have a bus to get on.  These are the times you buckle down, fix those suspenders – have that 30th cup of coffee, whatever it takes, but we never want to give up.

I was thinking, this is my third child, my other two have graduated – I can make it a couple more years to complete my task.  It is such a good feeling when the year starts to wind down.  Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.  Remember, how many times have you heard, I don’t know how you homeschool your children, I could never do that.  Just the other day I was sitting at the doctors office, started talking to another mother about what we do during the day.  I mentioned I homeschool so my day can be busy at times.  She said, I would never have the patience to do that, you see my son now? (he was being a little crazy I must admit).  I told her it can be a thankless job, but there are great rewards to seeing your child grow and thrive!  She was not convinced of course.

accomplish-1136863_960_720What Have You Accomplished

We may look at our accomplishments on a day to day basis, but if you can take a moment and look to the future, especially if you are just starting out.  I can attest to the fact that the rewards are great – when you get to the part where you are getting their diploma ready, you can hardly believe they finished.  You look back to those earlier grades, and if you are honest with yourself, you have said once or twice, I’m ready to pack this in.  My message for you today is, DON’T GIVE UP, it is totally worth it.

We are not only preparing and focusing on their education, we are preparing them for life.  If they learn the values and morals from you on a day to day basis, how much more will they be ready to face this world.  It’s hard enough out there if they don’t have loving parents standing behind them every step of the way.  I understand if you are a single parent and this is just impossible for your to do, if homeschooling is not an option, do your best to be involved with your children.

Society today throws enough negativity at us, we don’t have to help them along bee-1296273__180
the way.  I must admit there are more and more people homeschooling their children, they are starting to see the benefits.  Homeschoolers are finally getting the recognition they deserve.  One area is the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, which has been recognized as one of the leading spelling bees in our country.  Homeschoolers started making their way into the National headlines about 10 years ago and have been slowly moving up the ranks in the spelling bee.  People are not only shocked how well they are doing, but some might say, even a little jealous.  The impressive turnout of homeschoolers should give you some motivation to stay with it.  No, not everyone can make it to the National Spelling Bee, but this is a possibility if we keep it one of our goals.

Psalm 84:10

I was reading Psalm 84:10 – For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.  I can’t imagine that being a doorkeeper is a very exciting job either, but back in David’s day, he would be grateful to be doing something for God, rather than doing something that would not glorify his Lord.  This is what I think about when I’ve corrected that Math test and once again, they’re just not getting it.  Or doing the dishes, because I am waiting for them to finish a subject before we can go out.  Sure I could have already had my errands done if they were at a school – but would you be the first one to see their face when they got 100% on their spelling test.

With all this said – just wanted to remind you how very important our job is.  We have the responsibility of molding our children into God honoring and respectable people.  Don’t give up the fight, stay the course, encourage them and hug them.  They are the future, let’s be proud of what we have accomplished.


Cooking Ideas With Kids


Cooking With Your Childrenfrog-927768__180

We all want to give our children a well rounded education, so let’s add one more fun thing to their day.  My kids love to cook – so I just decided to add a homeschool cooking curriculum.  There are so many different recipes your children can try.  Desserts, main dishes and even let them create a whole menu.  It’s fun for them to set up a whole meal – if you have time, and the patience of course.  Just go ahead and let them take over lunch or dinner one day.

MyPlateWe all remember the food pyramid, well in 2011 the Federal Goverment did away with the pyramid in favor of a “Plate”.  You can find out all the information at, where it explains portion control and each of the food groups in more detail.  Today these facts are more important than ever, with all the fast food places, soft drinks and an overall downhill turn of children’s eating habits.  The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) can be a great source of information for everyone. They have a ton of sites at your finger tips, anything from food alergies, foodborne illness, to food labeling guides.  This really is a great resource not only for homeschoolers ,but for everyone to stay informed.

Now Let’s Get Busy

It would be great, if it’s possible, to have a chef from a local restaurant come and join your home school group and share some of the tricks of the trade.  If you are unable to do this, just get some tips from the online world, and away we go.  Also, if you can get another mother who is not involved with your homeschool group come, this makes it new and exciting for the kids.

Cooking teaches kids valuable skills that they can carry with them through life. Children practice basic math when they measure ingredients, reading comprehension as they follow a recipe, team building as they work in groups, and they also build a strong foundation for healthy eating. All of these skills are mixed in with delicious food and fun.

In addition to essential cooking skills like chopping, grilling, and sautéing, they will learn many skills that will stay with them for years. They will also learn important organizational skills, how to work as a team, cooperation, and taking turns.  There are also curriculum based cooking plans set up with menus, schedules and food plans to follow.

Here Are A Few Examples Of Cooking Curriculum

Go!Chefs is a hands-on cooking and nutrition education curriculum for young people ages 6 through 21. The kids cooking classes introduce youth to the pleasures of preparing and enjoying “real food” that is both nutritious and delicious – an essential step toward health and well-being. Students learn basic cooking skills, the joy of eating and cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables, and how to become empowered and conscious consumers in a marketplace that spends millions to persuade children to eat high-calorie, low-nutrient products.

Serving Up MyPlate – A Yummy Curriculum A new and improved version of the Food Pyramid, MyPlate illustrates the five food groups of a healthy diet. Provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service’s Team Nutrition Initiative, this curriculum brings MyPlate to first and second graders, providing an introduction to healthy foods and nutrition. The curriculum includes three lessons, a pacing guide with the time required for each activity and multiple fun activities to keep students interested and learning, including three original songs. Source: Choose MyPlate

Read It Before You Eat It – Teach your children to read the Food Nutrition Facts labels on all food items.  This will teach them to make informed decisions as they learn to pick the foods that will be beneficial to them.

historyCooking Through History

Another great idea is combine your cooking lesson with your history class.  Find out what the menu was back in the 1800’s, or what the pilgrims ate.  Do your best to recreate one of these meals – your children will not only remember the lesson more clearly, but will be able to appreciate what they used to eat all those years ago.

Now remember, with this kind of cooking plan, getting everything together first will be key to your success. You may THINK you know what you are going to do – but unless you have fully prepared (by printing out the recipe and pulling together the ingredients), then you may just stumble at the first hurdle. Once I am totally prepared, then I’ll schedule it for a day in the near future.

I am sure that once you begin to include homeschool cooking lessons in your  curriculum, then you will begin to see the kids gaining in independence.  Children that are confident in the kitchen are often more confident overall. Kids are funny, now that they can make a peanut, butter and jelly sandwich they think they are all that.  When in fact, this really does boost their self-esteem.  They can get knocked down out there in the world, why not give them a step up once in a while if we can.

Recipes Kids Will Love

Pizza Cupcakes – Ingredients

  •  1 – can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 1/2 – cup Muir Glen™ organic pizza sauce
  • 1/4 – cup mini pepperoni slices
  • 1/4 – lb mild Italian sausage, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 – cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz)


  • 1 Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 8 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray. Unroll dough; separate into 8 triangles. Press into muffin cups.
  • 2 In small bowl, mix sauce, pepperoni, sausage and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Spoon about 2 tablespoons mixture into each dough-lined cup; sprinkle each with about 1 teaspoon additional cheese.
  • 3 Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately remove from cups and serve.

30-Minute Mini Meatloaves – Ingredients

  • 1/2 – cup ketchup
  • 2 – tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 – lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1/2 – lb ground pork
  • 1/2 – cup Original Bisquick™ mix
  • 1/4 – teaspoon pepper
  • 1 – small onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1 – egg


  • 1 Heat oven to 450°F. In small bowl, stir ketchup and brown sugar until mixed; reserve 1/4 cup for topping. In large bowl, stir remaining ingredients and remaining ketchup mixture until well mixed.
  • 2 Spray 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. Place meat mixture in pan; pat into 12×4-inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise down center and then crosswise into sixths to form 12 loaves. Separate loaves, using spatula, so no edges are touching. Brush loaves with reserved 1/4 cup ketchup mixture.
  • 3 Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until loaves are no longer pink in center and meat thermometer inserted in center of loaves reads 160°F.

Kid Salad – Ingredients

  • 4 – canned peach halves, drained
  • 4 – ruffly lettuce leaves
  • 16 – celery sticks, 3 inches long
  • 4 – large marshmallows
  • Raisins, if desired
  • Shredded cheese, if desired


  • 1 For each salad, place 1 peach half, cut side down, on 1 lettuce leaf on plate. Add celery sticks for arms and legs; marshmallow for head; raisins for eyes, nose, buttons, hands and feet; a piece of maraschino cherry for mouth; and shredded cheese for hair.
  • 2 Refrigerate until serving.



So get busy, get those eggs out (you’re going to loose a few for sure), flour, mixer and anything else you may need to give those kids a chance to have a little fun.  You’ll be surprised how great they will do!!  Enjoy, and more importantly, have fun.





Kids Cookbooks (click on pic for link)

better homes and gardens

Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book (Better Homes and Gardens Cooking)


american girl

American Girl Baking: Recipes for Cookies, Cupcakes & More



quick & easyChildren’s Quick and Easy Cookbook



Cook BookNational Geographic Kids Cookbook: A Year-Round Fun Food Adventure



SeeBOOKS AND SUPPLIESfor more items your kids will love to use while cooking!


Free Homeschool Art Lessons


Art Lessons Online For Kidscolor

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to school my kids favorite subjects are art and lunch.  Of course lunch was number one.  They all just loved to pull out that clay, paint or paper and scissors and just create something.  The bigger the mess the better.  Art happens to be one of my favorite things to do as well and I have used so many different online ideas, library books – art for dummies, well you get the idea.  Pinterest and YouTube have so many videos now as well.

You can start with the basics, say the color wheel, and learning the different elements of color.  There is a great site on Pinterest called, Color Wheel Art.  They have several ideas all related to the color wheel, and learning the warm and cool colors.  The way they tie it together can be effective for all ages.  As they get in the high school levels they will learn about color theory – hue / saturation / value.  The more they will be detailing and bringing together all that they have learned.  These are just a few of the very good online sites I have found.

  • Jerry’s Artarama
  • The Virtual Instructor
  • Art Factory
  • Artist Network
  • Teach Art At Home


pencilKeep in mind, well this is what I tell my kids, you can’t really mess up doing an art project.  One child’s idea of how to draw an elephant, is different than another.  Children’s levels and interests will be totally different, but each in their own way, can come up with a really cool thing.

On YouTube they have some great lessons on how to draw – they start with the very basic techniques and work their way into some super detailed projects.  They teach about holding your pencil, shading, perspective – it’s just not about drawing a bowl of fruit anymore.  I think it is so great that you can actually watch a video tutorial, get some of the basics down yourself, and then get a project ready for your children.  Personally, I don’t normally buy any art curriculum because of all the information and ideas you can get online now.

There is no excuse not to get the creative juices flowing.  As far as online goes, there are a ton of free sites that have lessons, with different skill levels.  This makes it so great because if your children are in three different grades, you can basically do the same project, you need only adjust certain aspects to fit the age group.  Now don’t get me wrong, for the little ones this would not work – once you get to middle school, give it a try.

Your Local Library

There are some really good art books at your local library – which I’m sure as a homeschooler, you have used the library many times by now.  Once again, you don’t have to be a professional artist to make art fun for your children.  They will appreciate taking a break during the day and heading to the library.  You can take your pencils and pads with you.   Many libraries today have areas to work, whether it be on computer or little sections with tables and chairs set up for you.  Like the online videos and tutorials, these books are similar in how they talk you through each step of a project.   These are a few books that I have seen and can help you as a beginner or for the high school students as well.

  • Keys To Drawing, by Burt Dodson
  • Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner, Claire Watson Garcia
  • Draw Anything, by Arthur Zaidenberg
  • Drawing: The Only Drawing Book You’ll Ever Need to Be the Artist You’ve Always Wanted to Be, by Kathryn Temple

Follow link to “Books and Supplies” to find where these books can be purchased.

My son loves to draw, and is always sketching little pictures everywhere.  This is a way to find out what they really enjoy doing – gives you something to talk about and you will learn something else about your kids.  He loves to draw sharks, but this has led to all kinds of animals that live in the deep.  The bigger the teeth the better.  I like to always encourage the kids to draw, paint, mold some clay – just use your hands and create whatever.

Ok, now who doesn’t like to make a mess with their hands, well just about every kid I know.  Recently I made homemade play dough.  This was really neat and the kids loved it.  I get the plastic forks and knives so they can cut it up or make a snake or blocks to build a tower. Whatever they want to build, it doesn’t really matter, are they enjoying it, do they get a chance to use their mind for something other than Math.  They need a change of pace just like the rest of us.

Recipe For Homemade Play Doughplay dough

  • white flour – 1 cup
  • warm water – 1 cup
  • salt – 2 tbsp
  • cream of tartar – 2 tbsp
  • cooking oil – 2 tbsp
  • Jello – 1 3oz pack




Another fun thing to build with is paper mache’, we’ve made our planets using this and I’m sure you’ve made an Earth or two in your day.  The ingredients can’t be easier:

  • Bowl of water-flour mixture (one part flour for two parts water) or use starch
  • Tear strips of newspaper (1/4 – 1/2 in)
  • A balloon
  • – they even have continent printouts online they can color


So Time To Get Busy

Now I know these are just a few ideas for you to use, but my point was that there is so much information at your finger tips – please take advantage of it.  You don’t have to pay a million dollars, get some basic supplies in the house so you have them on hand.  Keep a project in mind while you’re out in case you need to pick up something extra from the store.  But by all means, don’t give up, don’t think you have to be this great artist, and whatever you do – CREATE!


Homeschool High School Diploma


Can a Homeschooler Get a Diplomadiploma-309947_960_720

What we are always afraid of when we start to get in the high school grades of homeschooling, is whether or not I need an accredited homeschool diploma.  We always want to do what is best for our children, and definitely not do anything to harm their chances of getting into college.  No one wants to reduce their children’s opportunities for anything really.  But to answer the question, yes, homeschoolers get a diploma, usually issued by their parents.  As to an accredited diploma, probably not from an accredited institution.

In most cases, this does not affect their chances of continuing on with their education or college of their choice.  There are also institutions called “umbrella” schools, which will provide an accredited diploma.  What is an “umbrella” school you ask?  Well;  An umbrella school is basically a third party organization which keeps records for you and may issue transcripts or diplomas. In some states, such as Florida and Tennessee, enrolling your homeschooler in an umbrella school is a legal option. Some schools, such as Abeka and Calvert provide all your teaching materials, but some don’t Sometimes there is an actual school that also enrolls homeschoolers; but in most cases they don’t.  Mostly people appreciate having that third party to be able to have the self assurance they are on the right track and can get that accredited diploma.

But let’s take a look at the more involved answer.

rules-1339917_960_720Homeschool Laws

First and foremost, you need to really understand the homeschool laws in your state.  These laws are different in each state and you need to be completely aware of what is going on.  Especially if you decide to remove your child from the pubic school setting, there are definite rules and regulations to follow.  The state school authorities do not have the best information about homeschooling – and some can be put off that you are even going to remove your child from school in the first place.  National groups, for the most part, are unable to keep up with changes in all fifty states, let alone if laws are being changed in each of them.  School authorities themselves do not understand the expectations of a homeschooler, they may unintentionally give wrong information.  Your best bet is to contact your statewide homeschool organization.

With all that said, homeschoolers get a diploma when their parents give them one. They do not typically receive a diploma from their local department of education or the state where they live. While school authorities often make a big deal out of whether teens will have or won’t have a diploma from their school, most of the time, this is not an issue for homeschoolers.

Job & College Applications

When your high schooler graduates and they are asked on any job application, “Are you a high school graduate?” they can put yes.  They graduated when they completed all their work and their parents gave them a diploma.  This means they completed work similar to that of their peers who attended school, maybe not exactly the same, but qualified with the courses they took.  You have to understand, no parent would purposely want to lie about this situation, it would only deter the plans for their future.  Same thing if they’re asked if they have a diploma, yes, they have a diploma.

Typically you should provide written proof through a transcript and other evidence of the work you have done.  It is very important to save records and grades, they will want the GPA.  If your child wants to attend college, their parent should be preparing, starting around 8th grade, having them take the courses so the will have what they need for higher education.  Homeschoolers will have to show they can do college level work, by providing transcripts or by being a dual-enrolled high school student. Some colleges and universities may want test scores and SAT.  Most college admission policies allow for homeschoolers and are very welcoming.  They are seeing that the quality of the homeschoolers has and continues to improve – they are usually well versed in all subjects needed.

If the importance of getting a diploma has been brought up to you by family members as a reason not to homeschool, now you have the information to prove your point on this issue.   Homeschoolers with parent-awarded diplomas are doing great things in the world without doors being closed to them.

What are the graduation requirements for a homeschool high schooler?

Basically check online at other high schools and what they require, and you can customize a program for your child.  Your township or county usually has a website with the graduation requirements needed.  They will also have the type of credits required and even how many hours equal a credit.  So you can be pretty flexible here setting up the courses and direction your child wants to go.  Of course college bound students should complete more than basic math and first-year Algebra. A good understanding of chemistry, biology, and physics is necessary.  All students should be able to write well so include literature classes, and a foreign language.

Bottom Lineroad-1030878_960_720

We as parents are obviously going to do what is best for our children.  We are not going to purposely leave out something that our child will need to either further their education or what is needed in the work force.  There is so much out there online (and through other homeschoolers who have been through it) that there is no excuse for not finding what we need.  The most important thing is to do the research, and keep your children motivated and on course for whatever path they choose.


The Official SAT Study Guide Second Edition



rosetta stone


Learn Spanish: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) – Level 1-5 Set –  (Rosetta Stone offers many other languages as well.)



Smooth Imprinted “Diploma Of Graduation” Certificate Cover 8 1/2″ x 11″





Is It Break Time Yet


I Need A Breakcoffee-965708_960_720

As a homeschooling stay at home mom, I’ll be the first to admit it’s time for me to take a break and smell the coffee. Now we all know that we will be the last ones to take one of course – but don’t be that mom.  If you don’t take a minute, and sit back, realize that without a break you may have a burn out.  The school will be there, the laundry will be there, the dishes will be there – well you might want to take care of them.  But please be sure and take time for yourself.  It can be quite hectic especially if we have more than one child we are working with.  We are calling ourselves christian homeschool moms, so don’t forget who we can go to for guidance.

Just don’t forget one thing – you know it’s time for a break when you are having one or more of these thoughts or find yourself with one of these symptoms – you better sit yourself down and rethink the situation.

  1. You’ve forgotten your kid somewhere.
  2. When was the last time you ate out without buying kid’s meal
  3. Your Christmas lights are still up
  4. You lost your car in the parking lot – (or was that your child)
  5. You just vacuumed (well you thought you just vacuumed) what’s with all the dog hair
  6. You just finished spring cleaning (in November)

I think by now you get the idea – time to take a serious evaluation, whether you’re helping or hindering your children at this point.  Now, what should you do.  Send the kids to the park with dad, or sister or friend.  Get that cup of coffee ready, sit back with your favorite book, movie or poolside.  Whatever works for you.  But whatever you do, don’t forget the chocolate!

My Mom Never Said That

If I were honest, I don’t think I ever remember hearing my mom say I need a break.  I’m sure she did of course, and don’t get me wrong, I did see her fall apart at the seems once or twice. The general idea is, that moms get stressed out carrying the load of family, homes and if you’re homeschooler, teacher.  All this can feel like the weight of the world on your shoulders and you realize you need an escape.  You know, something less stressful than screaming, fighting, moody, destructive little people, (and a couple big ones) who may or may not be able to communicate properly.


What Do I Do Now

For some of us, when nap time comes we find ourselves straight to the computer to catch up on Facebook, Twitter or maybe another Pinterest pin that you just had to see.  My alone time just became filled with clicks, tweets and likes – but I don’t feel rested.  Now I’m even more stressed because I saw two issues with my relatives that will give me something else to worry about.  My break from being a “stressed out stay at home mom” still feels stressed.  The internet can sometimes make us feel anything but rested.

For others you make like to run, go swimming, maybe even artwork.  Anything that you truly enjoy, but do something that lets you enjoy some time to yourself.  Too often as mothers, we think we aren’t accomplishing anything if we’re not working around the house or doing something for our children.  How wrong this is, if we do something to take care of ourselves, we will be better people for everyone around us.

This Should Be The Obvious To Me – But It’s Not

Whether we use string on a finger, a Post-it Note on the mirror, or reminder on our smartphones, we all usually do something to remind ourselves of a certain thing on our calendar for that week.  But did we put God on our calendar?  We may not realize it’s happening – and for sure we don’t do it on purpose, but we allow our busy lives to crowd out our devotion to God.  We enjoy so many things that He has blessed us with, our family, food and homes, but did we forget to thank the one who has given us everything.

As homeschool moms, we cannot be who we have to be without first going to the one who has allowed us to be home with our children.  In fact, I mean if you really think about it your day is going to be busy whether we get a break or not.  We have to learn to use those alone times to refresh, and not waste them.  Take time to refresh ourselves in the Word of God.  The Bible itself shows us:

Deuteronomy 4:9  Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.

So I Guess The Point Is – What I Do With That Breakbible and flowers

Homeschooling is stressful enough, and can wear the best of us out.  Whatever you do, don’t let the hectic days, and the forgotten children (just kidding) steal your joy.  God has been so good to all of us, if we can just give Him those few minutes we have to refocus, have an extra large cappuccino – because that nap your kids are taking – will end.  We all try to go above and beyond for our families, God made us that way, He knows that.  Get yourself a good devotional (it doesn’t have to be a full sermon everyday) – something to lift you up!

For me personally, I am so thrilled to be able to be home with my children.  My kids are older now, and I do take that occasional nap, swim in the pool – and just kick back.   I guess I’m trying to say, just lets us enjoy what God has given us, use the break times to truly look to Him, and don’t let the craziness of the day steal our joy.  Here are a couple of devotional books I am familiar with – they both are great!

937321: My Utmost for His Highest: an updated edition in today"s language - Value Edition My Utmost for His Highest: an updated edition in today’s language – Value Edition
By Oswald Chambers, edited by James Reimann / Discovery HouseThis edition of the Christian classic by Oswald Chambers features an updated text edited by James Reimann. A Word About Oswald and Biddy Chambers by David McCasland is also included and introduces the reader to Oswald Chambers and his wife Biddy, who worked to publish his works after his death. Paperback.
566772: Morning and Evening, KJV Edition, soft leather look - Lilac Morning and Evening, KJV Edition, soft leather look – Lilac
By Hendrickson PublishersCharles Spurgeon wrote these, classic, one-page daily devotions to be read each morning and evening to encourage his fellow believers. Over one hundred years later, Spurgeon’s devotions continue to encourage Christians with the message of God’s love. Each meditation is founded on a single verse of Scripture, inspiring and exhorting readers to rely upon God’s care for people and to respond to that love with ever deeper service. This edition features Scripture taken from the KJV, an imitation leather binding, silver gilded page edges, and a satin ribbon marker.

…and what if your child really doesn’t want to take that nap?  I love me some Veggie Tales!!

555369: The Pirates Who Don"t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie, Widescreen Edition on DVD The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie, Widescreen Edition on DVD
By Big IdeaIn their second theatrical release, the VeggieTales gang goes on a swashbuckling adventure on the high seas! Larry the Cucumber, Mr. Lunt, and Pa Grape star as Elliot, Sedgwick, and George–the loveable Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. Working as busboys at the Pieces of Ate Dinner Theater, our three heroes dream of doing something big, like starring in the show. Their wish is granted in a very unexpected way when a mysterious orb transports them to a faraway time and place where they help a brave princess rescue her brother from pirates and become the most unlikely heroes! Includes approximately 90 minutes of bonus features.
799751: I Can Be Your Friend, VeggieTales Sing-Alongs DVD I Can Be Your Friend, VeggieTales Sing-Alongs DVD
By Big IdeaThese 10 super silly songs are sure to bring out smiles! Join Bob the Tomato, Larry the cucumber, and the rest of the VeggieTales ® crew in this collection of favorite sing-along songs that the whole family is sure to enjoy! Presented in karaoke format, you’ll find the words on the screen followed by a bouncing icon to help kids sing along.  Approximately 30 minutes.



Sonlight Curriculum Review


Sonlight Curriculum Review1st grade

Name: Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum
Price: (There are 2 Options See Below)
Owners: John and Sarita Holzmann began Sonlight Curriculum in 1990

Sonlight’s 1st Grade Product Overview (This comes in every grade and also has some electives along with some College Prep Material)

Your First Grade homeschool curriculum comes with a clear outline of world history from Creation to the fall of Rome. There are also Missionary biographies and literary characters that provide inspiration to follow God and live life according to His word. The well illustrated and age appropriate books of your first grade curriculum will have children learning in a fun manner, this makes it worth it right there.  It also includes experimental science programs along with your choice of math studies, handwriting and spelling.

The Sonlight Instructor’s Guide provides your daily, book-by-book, subject-by-subject 1st Grade schedule. This is more than a guide but also a calendar.  In each week’s organized lesson plan, you will find a good amount of notes and teaching tips to help you along through each subject.

Sonlight’s 1st Grade History, Bible, Language Arts and Reading

Each of these programs is included in your 1st Grade Full-Grade Package. You’ll have everything you need for your First Grader and have the flexibility to include other students by customizing your homeschool curriculum if this is something you will need. Spelling and Vocabulary are already built in to your lesson plans at this level. Spelling and vocabulary words are from the reading you do with your students each day, and this makes practice a natural part of your days activities.

chemical-reaction-24562__180First Grade Science

By using the Sonlight Science books you will learn about Animals, Astronomy and Physics all at grade level. This Science Curriculum is full of hands-on activities and filled with the supplies you’ll need to accomplish them.  I think this is one of the more exciting things about the Science program, children would much rather be doing something, rather than just reading about it.

First Grade Math

The Math package comes with Saxon which offers the building blocks of a mathematical foundation and helps you teach your child concepts which will be a part of the ongoing review. For instance, first-graders will skip count by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s; compare and order numbers.

Sonlight also offers Sinagapore Math, and Horizon Math. This is one of the specific things parents appreciate, that they are able to choose which math program they will use for their children.


The daily handwriting practice is focused on verses from Scripture and students learn the traditional “ball-and-stick- style of print and a standard cursive hand. You’ll also appreciate the included full-color workbooks recommended for beginners. A Reason for Handwriting starts with lines and shapes, then moves into basic letter formation of both lower-case and upper-case alphabet. This program is built around a Creation theme and also includes an art component.  This keeps your child interested and focused – don’t want to loose them in the middle of the day.

What Are My Options?

Sonlight Has 2 Options for Building Your Curriculum

  • Option 1 – You can build your personalized program by subject, which can be used for multiple students, or
  • Option 2 – Get everything in one recommended packet


Sonlight 1st grade pick

                          Option 1

  • History, Bible & Literature – $489
  • Language Arts – $57
  • Science – $210
  • Math – Horizon – $198
  • Handwriting – $23

                           Option 2

Full Grade Package – $824

sonlight complete

High Quality – But Is It Right For You?

As you can see, Sonlight has a high quality Curriculum program which can be used for multiple students.  At the same time, Sonlight may not be for everyone.  For instance, if your child does not like to read alone, there may be an issue with Sonlight in the upcoming years.  Children will be doing seat work on a regular basis and will be expected to be self-motivators.  This curriculum is very involved and may not work for the first-time homeschooler.

This is a literature-based learning system that makes the subjects more interesting, not your basic workbook, take a test, and get results curriculum.  It also focuses on a liberal arts and strong sciences emphasis that will prepare child to be a leader.

Sonlight does provide personalized help with their online button

Along with placement tests, homeschool helps and articles that will help you make your final choice.  I hope this helps you make the right decision for your family, only you know what your children are capable of.

The Sonlight Complete Curriculum is available at

Below are a few of Sonlight Products that can be purchased at Amazon for a much more reasonable price.  You can purchase items separately and piece together what will work for you.

Sonlight 3rSonlight Curriculum Core B Grade 3 Readers (Includes Language Arts, Schedule and Study Guide for Grade 3 readers) Paperback – 2012  Includes the following books: A Question of Yams; Clara and the Bookwagon; Brave Kids, Cora Frear; Jake Drake, Bully Buster; Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie; Prairie School; Riding the Pony Express; Secret Valley; The Chalk Box Kid; The House on Walenska Street; The Last Little Cat; The Long Way Westward; The Long Way to a New Land; The Paint Brush Kid; The Viking Adventure; Tippy Lemmey; Tornado

sonlight 2ndSonlight Curriculum Core B Grade 2 Readers (Includes Language Arts for Grade 2 Readers) Unknown Binding – 2012 – All books needed for Core B Sonlight Curriculum Grade 2 readers including the Language Arts for Readers 2. Frog and Toad are Friends;Frog and Toad Together;Owl at Home;Hill of Fire ; Pompeii: Buried Alive!;Titanic: Lost and Found;Wagon Wheels;The Big Balloon Race;Mouse Tales;The Beginner’s Bible; Daniel’s Duck;Nate the Great;The Fire Cat;Greg’s Microscope;Frog and Toad All Year;Amelia Bedelia;Surprises;The Sword in the Tree

I can read it

I Can Read It! Book 1 Paperback – Controlled-vocabulary stories, with real plot, action, and humor, engage your childs attention and interest. Reading lessons move your child through a natural progression of phonetic and spelling patterns. Easy to use. Includes I Did Read It! diplomas. Fun!


Year Round Homeschooling


Year Round Homeschooling

Recently I came upon an article that talked about year round homeschooling.  This actually made me laugh because it’s seems this is how our year is going.  Believe it or not, thereopen-1337743_960_720 are quite a few public schools going to the year round plan.  This would include having a 45-15 schedule, where students and teachers are in school for 45 days, followed by a 15-day vacation, and just continue this throughout the year.  The holiday weeks that are already scheduled, will stay the same.

I’m thinking that’s what a homeshooler can do already, they can be as flexible as they want (and bring their Bible to class)!!  Most people don’t realize when you give the children a little flexibility, really just take a breather, they are more likely to accomplish some of the goals you are setting for them.  Also, students may forget a lot during the summer break, so a shorter time away from learning may increase retention in your child.

Be Flexible

The key to any homeschooling lifestyle, I believe, is truly the opportunity to set your own pace.  You don’t want to have to fight so hard to “get it all done”. If the babies are hungry or the laundry is piling up, it’s okay to admit the time would be much better spent doing some housework or feeding the kids.  My kids will learn much better the next day if we all just take a breath (well mainly me) and get started back in the next day.

back-18713__180Don’t worry about the small stuff.  If we are homeschooling in the first place, we are committed to giving our children the best possible education we can.  If they can’t do Calculus in the 3rd grade – well, wait until the 4th.  My point is, we are our own best critics, and we will never be good enough in our eyes.  Our kids sense this, and will pick up on the tension we are throwing off.  So if you have to be working in the summer – so be it, it’s not going to be that way every year.

You also can say “yes” to those opportunities that may come up during the week that a family in school may not be able to do.  This is great, usually parks aren’t crowded, rides at theme parks have shorter lines – well you get the – idea.  Not to mention the off-peak prices you can take advantage of.

Summer Time Studies

It’s probably a good idea anyway to keep your kids involved in reading, math skills and writing at least through the summer. Of course this doesn’t mean they have to have a scheduled time everyday,sky-1315341_960_720 like you did during the school year. But it never hurt anyone if they had to figure out how much 15% off the already clearance marked items are.  Or for those younger kids – have them count how many strawberries you just picked.  Remember, I’ve mentioned it before, life is a learning process in general, take full advantage of everything.

Where we live, the law states we are required to have 180 days for school. You have 365 days to fit in 180 days. Are you doing the math? Did you get that you have 185 days off.  We got this. This isn’t to say that you have to stop homeschooling or stop counting your days at 180 school days. The 180 days recorded are the minimum we have to log.  This gives you the flexibility to embrace life’s moments when they happen and not worry whether you will get school done or not.

Places get too crowded to enjoy in the summer months. Not too mention the weather outside is a scorcher. Too hot to do much outside that doesn’t include water. (In my state anyway!)

Plan for the Unexpected

This basically fits in the “be flexible” category as well. If you need to suddenly stop everything at your homeschool because of unexpected “life situations” you can do that with no worries. Maybe you have that dreaded flu bug go through your house. With a flexible schedule you can simply pick up where you left off and without the stress of worrying, make up the days missed.

You may have a long lost relative that wants to come in the middle of that busy week, and you thought everything was going so smoothly. Well, don’t worry, there is always next week. Or as in my case, you had to have gallbladder surgery – well everything pretty much stopped.  My son can work on his own – but there is still that never forgiving Algebra.

…and don’t forget Music and Arttrumpet

So many homeschoolers can get caught up with whether or not your child is getting enough of Music and Art in their life.  The summer months are a perfect time for this. You can cut down on some of your more traditional homeschool activities or even all of them and study Art and Music for a few months.  Of course if you are involved in some kind of lessons, you will obviously keep up with those.  You can put in some extra practice time in the summer without your child feeling pressured with his other studies.

homeschool image

Have Another Great Homeschool Day!