Homeschooling Curriculum - Using "Total Health" for Homeschool Health

>>>>"I know we have discussed Total Health in the past. Do you recommended getting the high school edition or the middle school edition? Also, should I get any workbooks? Is it necessary to use workbooks to get the full credit for high school health? Do I get the student text or the teacher's edition or both? And, do I need to get the tests and quizzes?"<<<<We used both the Jr. High and the Sr. High texts. The boys liked them both. If you are getting just one, I would get the one that best meets the age of your child. If they are 9th grade or under, or if they are highly sheltered and older, get the Jr. High. If they are over 9th grade, or hang out with their youth groups, other secular kids, etc., then I would get the Sr. High version.

When we did Total Health, I chose not to get the workbooks. I wanted them to learn the content but I had so many other high powered courses at the time, I didn't want to have yet another thing for them to be tested on. We were doing Latin and Biology and stuff at the time, and it would have been just too much.

Both times I used Total Health, I combined it with their sports activities to make it a PE credit. I didn't list Health separately on their transcript. With their sports activities, I did have an EASY 150 hours of PE, and I did give them a full credit, but they were doing soccer, swim team and baseball at the time. If I had listed Total Health alone on the transcript, I think I would have given it 1/2 credit, because even with the tests and stuff, I don't think it would take the time for a full year at 1 hour a day to complete. In Washington state, we are required to teach health at some point in their lives, but they don't specify when or how much, so I had no requirement as to it being a whole credit in high school.

If you want to supplement, consider taking a CPR or basic first aid course, that would be great!

Total Health is a wonderful books, and both of my boys loved it. In fact, when I bought the first one, the kids ended up reading it on their own over summer before school even started. It had a wonderful tone, and had a nice balance between conservative concerns and some of the issues that Christian kids might face at school or youth group.

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Homeschooling Curriculum - Let's Talk Latin!

Homeschooling Curriculum - Let's Talk Latin!

How is Latin even possible? I printed samples from Latina Christiana, and I'm feeling overwhelmed. Declensions? Conjugations? Possum? Sum? Help!

Be brave, little Piglet! (Quote from Winnie the Pooh, from all who are wondering - my brain also stuffed with fluff!) I remember having those EXACT same fears when we started Latin! I would look at the book and, well, it was all Greek to me!

As you take it one step at a time, it begins to make sense. Really, it's just like following complicated directions in a recipe or something. Just take it one step at a time, and then it begins to make sense. I promise! Plus, remember the advice that Dori gives in Nemo and "Just keep swimming" and you'll get it figured out.

That being said, I did use Latin Road, and they do assume that 1) you're homeschooling and 2) the teacher is a mom who doesn't know Latin. That may have been why it was OK for us. I did look at Wheellocks' Latin and couldn't even BEGIN the first chapter in that one. I believe that Latin Road is for 5th and up, but you'd have to check the website.

Are you ready to get serious about homeschooling high school?  Send me an email and let’s talk!

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Home School Education - Is the AP or CLEP Exam Better for Homeschoolers?

>>>>Can you compare AP and CLEP exams? Why did you choose CLEP?<<<<AP tests are much longer, more expensive, and have ambiguous essay questions that irritated me. I chose to use CLEP exams because they took MUCH less time per test, were a little less expensive, and they were all multiple choice. You know "math & science Lee", always looking for those right-or-wrong answers! AP tests are longer, so they have lots more questions. Since the CLEP exams are shorter and have fewer questions, their questions are all obscure. You have to know the detailed stuff in order to pass it. Of course, that's also why it's college level.

AP exams take a tremendous amount of study, as does CLEP. The difference is partly that if you take the AP exam, you also have to study how to take an AP exam! It's a real skill to write those essays and stuff...If you buy an AP prep book, you can see what I mean. Practice, practice, practice! For a CLEP exam, it's just like taking a very in-depth IOWA basic test - much more familiar looking. But that may be just me :-)

Blessings, Lee
The HomeScholar
"Helping parents homeschool through high school"
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Homeschool Transcript - How do I give a credit in Bible to my homeschooler?

>>>>A client writes: I want to give my kids credit for Bible...but I haven't asked them to write a single thing down this year. What do I do?<<<<When we did Bible, I just had them read books, mostly. No tests. Rare papers. Sometimes one of them would teach Sunday School classes, or read scripture at church.

May I suggest that Bible may be one good area to count hours? Just estimate how many hours per day or week they spend reading and talking to you about these issue. 1 hour a day or 5 days a week would be a whole credit. 2 hours per week might be 1/2 credit (rough estimates are OK.) Once in a while, when I wanted "proof" I would ask them to write their English paper on something about their Bible or the books they were reading. They did it INSTEAD of an English paper, though, not in addition.

Do you remember all my stories about Alex and economics and Kevin and chess? They just did all this reading for fun (totally freaked me out, actually.) Now with Alex, I gave him CLEP exams in economics, and figured out real fast how many credits of economics he had learned. With Kevin it wasn't so easy. Surprisingly there is no CLEP exam in chess! (LOLOLOLOL!!!!!) I still gave him credit for it. No tests (duh!) and no written work. I kept track of the books that he read, and the chess classes that he taught. When I wrote his course description, that was all it included :-)

You CAN cut out the busy work. Stop thinking in terms of how SCHOOLS evaluate learning, and think about how YOU evaluate learning. From what you say, it sounds like you do most of your evaluation by oral report, right? Oral reports are a perfectly acceptable way to evaluate. Alex's college final in French yesterday was an oral report. It's really fine to do that!

If you want "proof" and you just must have proof, then write a list of the books they read, and write the topic of your discussions. "Nature of Hell, 1 hour" or "Nature of Grace, 1 hour." If that makes you feel better, than more power to you! Then you'll have "proof" in case you ever wanted to use your proof. I just don't recommend that you change what you're doing, because what your doing is working!

Does that help?

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Homeschool College - Should you use E-mail or Snail Mail to Say Thank You after a College Visit ?

>>>>A mom asked if she should send an email or snail mail thank you note after visiting a college....<<<<
I think that the answer is BOTH. If you don't intend to go to the school, then sending them an email thank you note is fine. But if you DO intend to apply to the school, then I would send both an email and a snail mail thank you note. Some colleges keep a record of how many contacts you make, that is, how many "touches." For that reason, it can actually benefit you to write a snail mail letter. Use my answer for a school assignment! You can have them write it today.

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Homeschool Transcript - Do Colleges Accept Homeschool Grades?

>>>>A friend had a question about homeschool grades.<<<<I have a page on my blog about grades and credits that might help:
Keeping track of grades and credits can start in 9th grade. Grades 9-12 are considered high school, and those are the only grades and credits that colleges want to see.

Most (but not all) colleges will accept homeschool grades and credits, given by a parent, typed on their home computer using nothing fancier than a Word document. In my experience, most (but not all) colleges will use your credits as real credits *if* you have test scores to back them up. If you don't have some evidence that your grades and credits are true, then colleges tend to look only at your test scores, and look at the transcript as if it's just a list of classes, rather than real numbers they can use for scholarships or whatever.

I hope that helps!
The HomeScholar
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Homeschooling Curriculum - Our Love/Hate Relationship with Saxon Math

>>>>One mom's co-op uses Saxon Math and it makes her want to cry<<<<

I hated Saxon, too. But when I "lost it" in math, I told Kevin to choose his own math book, and he chose Saxon! I couldn't believe it! No pretty pictures, no NUTHIN! He just wanted to use Saxon - and he succeeded with it.

Can you let your daughter make the decision about math books or coop classes? She may know how she learns best. You may be focused on how YOU would want to learn, you know? That's what happened to me.

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Homeschool English - The Write Stuff - Homeschool Journal Writing

Homeschool English - The Write Stuff - Homeschool Journal Writing

>>>>What did you require for journal writing? Did you have any assigned topics or insist on a certain length per entry?<<<< What is your purpose for journal writing? Perhaps it's different than mine. My goal was to get my children to write quickly on any subject, in their own handwriting. That's what they have to do for the SAT essay question. In high school, my children wrote a longer paper every week, and they practiced essay writing each week as well. For both of those I would correct grammar, punctuation, and style. They did so much writing, I didn't feel like it was necessary for me to edit their journal, and editing it was not my goal. Keeping my goal in mind, I didn't much care WHAT they wrote about, so much as I cared about the length and how quickly they did it. For that reason, I gave them each a small 4x6 or 5x7 spiral ring notebook. When I assigned them a journal writing activity, they were allowed to write about anything they wanted, but they had to fill one whole page in their journal. As they got older, they wanted it kept private, and that was fine with me. I just wanted to be sure that they wrote a whole page. For that reason, I had them hold up the book from across the room, and if I could see from that distance that they had filled a whole page, then they had met my expectations. I tried some books for journal writing, but my kids felt frustrated by being told what to write. Again, my goal was for them to write, and I wasn't interested in the topic. For that reason, I allowed them to not use a guide, but just write from their daily lives. So my advice would be to consider what you are trying to achieve. Then adjust your journal writing requirements to meet YOUR needs for YOUR children. I'm sure that varies from family to family. I hope that helps!

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Homeschool Curriculum - How to Fail in High School Math

>>>>Dorette asked: Why did you use Saxon Advanced Math when it looks like you used another program for Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry?<<<<

A wise homeschool Mom once said, "If it works, use it. If it doesn't work - Change!"

We used Addison-Wesley math books through elementary school. When we started Algebra, the next book in the series was Algebra 1 by Paul Foerster. It was highly rated by homeschool suppliers, so it seemed like the "right" thing to do. I chose that book because it had a solution manual. Really, that was my whole reason - it had a solution manual!

My son Kevin is very mathematically minded, but he really struggled with this book! It just didn't seem to say things in a way that Kevin could understand it. By the end of the year, Kevin scored about 75% on the final. I really wanted Kevin to succeed before he moved on, so I searched for another math book so that he could do Algebra 1 over again. We chose Jacobs Algebra. I was planning to use that in the fall, and just have Kevin repeat the course. Instead, Kevin studied it by himself, took the final exam in the Jacobs Algebra text, and got a fabulous score, so in the fall he was able to move on to geometry. We used Jacobs geometry for that course. When it was time to do Algebra 2, I bought Paul Foersters Algebra 2 and Trigonometry. Don't ask me why! This author hadn't worked for us the first time, so I don't know why I thought it would work a second time through! After a month, I realized that we simply couldn't go forward with this book. We had to make a change, and Jacobs didn't have an Algebra 2 book.

Following a friend's advice, I gave Kevin the choice, and he chose his own math book. I was SHOCKED that he would choose Saxon! Saxon had no appeal to me, because I like books with color, and photos. But Kevin loved math, and he liked the look of Saxon because it was mostly numbers - problem after problem! That's what appealed to him! (Who knew?) So we switched to Saxon Math at that point. Since Kevin had already completed Algebra 1 and Geometry using different programs, he took the Saxon placement test, and we started him with Saxon Advanced Math.

I think almost everyone "loses it" at some point with high school math. It was during Algebra 2 that I simply couldn't DO the teaching anymore. That's when I began to use DIVE CDs. You can find more information at this website:

So now you know the story of our math curriculum choices! Our choices don't matter to your family, of course. What really matters is the underlying philosophy: If it works, use it. If it doesn't work - CHANGE!

I notice that a lot of homeschooling families work like this. They expect their student to really master a subject before moving on. I think that's why homeschoolers have higher standardized test scores than other students! We simply want them to know it before they move on! That gives them a better foundation for more advanced learning, and ultimately makes them more successful. My son Kevin is currently a sophomore in college, studying engineering and computer science. He takes upper level math classes "for fun" with his free credits. I'm really glad we encouraged mastery in math. And I'm really REALLY glad I let him choose his own math book!

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Homeschooling Curriculum - Art Instruction for the Artistically Challenged Homeschool

>>>Did you plan the art studies or let them do it as they wanted? I debate a lot about whether its worth setting aside the time for art study.<<<

Art was really, REALLY my weak area, so I actually set aside time for art study, otherwise we would never do it! We never had a problem getting math or science done, just art, LOL! I scheduled it for 2-3 times a week, 1-1/2 or 2 hours at a time, depending on the year. Even so, it was something that we sometimes just didn't do. (Art is so messy, you know.) We did the book "Art Fun" the first year, the Feed My Sheep for two years, then Draw Today. We also did some pottery classes, and that was fun. I have some art games that they played, and there were some books on artists that I had them read over the years. If your kids just "do" art, then maybe you don't really need art study. We NEEDED art study, because my kids didn't ever DO it otherwise. In high school I taught them art mostly from an art history perspective, and art appreciation. I suppose in high school, it's good to have some art appreciation course, but maybe other kids just naturally end up studying art without any help at all. Hey, Alex studied economics without any help! Kevin studied Russian History, of all things, without any encouragement! Just not art....


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Homeschooling Curriculum - HELP! It's my First Year Homeschooling!!

>>>This is my first yr to hs. I think I get a handle on what needs to be done for a 4th grader and then I find something else out. On top of trying to weed through all the curriculum choices. I am about to give up. I am so frustrated and overwhelmed. I just want it spelled out for me.<<<

All the choices are so overwhelming! And many of the choices are wonderful, which makes it even harder to decide! I began homeschooling when my kids were in 3rd and 5th grades. We started with Sonlight Curriculum, just for those reasons you stated: I wanted everything spelled out for me! Sonlight was a great start, because it sort of "held my hand" while I was learning to homeschool. It taught me what subjects I might want to teach, reminded me not to forget things, and showed me how much to do each day. Plus it's a great curriculum But really, I only started to use it so that someone would "hold my hand" while I started my first year of homeschooling. It's a little pricey, but lots of things are pricey, and investing in your first year will help you get off to a great start. Their website is:

Hope that helps!


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Home Schooling Resources - What about teaching homeschool grammar?

>>>>Dorette asked a questions about our Sample Comprehensive Record. "Did you ever do any "intensive" grammar course with your boys? I see that you did a Latin course that includes grammar. Was that enough?"<<<<
Before beginning Latin, we did a one-time through course called "Winston Grammar" that I just loved! It's a hands-on, no-writing grammar program that was perfect for my boys. It does not teach writing, it only covers parts of speech (noun, verb, articles, etc.) It was very helpful, though, because it gave us a common language that we could use to discuss their writing. I could say, "this sentence has two adverbs" and they would know what I meant. After doing Winston Grammar Basic, we moved straight into The Latin Road to English Grammar, and that was the only other grammar we used. It was enough grammar, yes. The boys had excellent scores on the SAT test. Of course, how well they WRITE is the real judge of a grammar program, though, and I had them doing some writing every single day.

Other people like to cover Grammar every year, instead of one time one year, and that's fine. Personally, I felt that we covered enough grammar in their writing each year. I do warn people about it duplicating courses, though. If you are doing Winston Grammar, don't do Easy Grammar and Editor in Chief as well, because the student can get frustrated.

This brings up an interesting point, though, about our Comprehensive Record Solution. You can't really tell by looking at it, unless you know our family quite well. My sons started Latin when Kevin was in 7th grade and Alex was in 5th grade. They continued it for 3 years, and completed the program entirely. I put Latin on the transcript for both children, because I knew that it was a high school level course and that they had succeeded in learning a high school amount of material. We put each high school credit under "early high school credits" instead of 9th, 10th, or 11th grade. It may help you to see how those "early high school credits" worked in our family. I am confident that I did the right thing. Alex has continued Latin in college, and he's getting straight A's, taking senior level Latin courses. Not only did I put that 5th grade class on his high school transcript, the colleges accepted it (possibly because he graduated early, though) AND he went on to successfully continue the course in college.

I hope that helps!

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Homeschooling Curriculum - How do I "do" Current Events?

>>>>How do I incorporate current events into our homeschool?<<<<
Hi Michele,

In 7th grade we were doing Apologia Biology, Sonlight 100, French, Algebra, SAT prep, and piano. For current events, I bought World Magazine, but that's because my kids are very *into* current events. I think the easiest and most fun way is just to get the newspaper daily. The last two years, I have used a yellow highlighter to circle any articles that they are "required" to read, and I found that they would read other things in the paper as well. You can also ask them questions that they have to answer: What time is low tide today? (Of course, that only works along the coast!) We also listen to a responsible news commentary show during lunchtime. That really helps them to get interested in the topics of the day, and we can discuss the callers opinions. I haven't had them do any written summary, because we do a lot of writing in our homeschool anyway. I usually make current events "required" twice a week. I have found that by using the newspaper, they seem to enjoy reading it on their own more often than I assign. I confess that I sometimes HIDE the newspaper when the stories are especially gross. Hope that helps.


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Home School Education - Feedback on Homeschool High School Plan

>>>>A mother wanted feedback on the classes she was choosing for high school. Here is what she had planned:<<<<

Bible- Sonlight
Core 200-Sonlight History
Science-Apologia Biology
Photography class at co-op once a week
Smart Money class at co-op once a week
Algebra 1- Teaching Textbooks
She worried that it would be too much - too little! She asked if she should add Spanish, and what to name her Bible class.

Every student is unique, of course, but your plan looks great to me. I think that as long as your student works reasonably well, it should all go OK. If you want to add Spanish, I would just make sure to stick with only 15 minutes a day, and not try to do any more per day than that. I
think it sounds like a great freshman year!

I counted Bible as...... Bible! In Christian schools, they will list credits for Bible. I gave my boys 1/2 credit for their Bible courses each year, because they did about 1/2 hour of work each day. Christian colleges like to see that the Bible is covered as a subject. Secular colleges like to see "electives" that provide a variety to the course work. You COULD have the Bible course be part of your literature, but Sonlight Literature is plenty for that. I did combine my Literature and my writing course to make ONE English credit, not two. It did make my English credit pretty beefy, but it seemed somehow unnatural to me to separate writing from reading - maybe because of the years of elementary school or something, I don't know. If you want to be sure it's two credits, you can estimate how many hours it will take to finish it. Generally 150-180 hours is one high school credit, so two credits would be a total of 300-380 hours of work to be two full credits. I did actually give two English credits one year. That year we did Sonlight history, literature AND their entire English program, and at the SAME time we did Learn to Write the Novel Way. That was nuts! It was crazy! What was I thinking! LOL! I made sure to never do two complete English programs in one year ever again! LOL!

It is overwhelming to look at the big classes like high school level courses. Remember, though, that "literature" is really just "reading good books", so it doesn't seem like much work. My kids felt the same way about Sonlight History, that it was FUN and not work. Remember, too, that high school is supposed to be harder than younger years. It's part of becoming an adult, this working harder business, kwim? I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, though. High school is fun! Try to make sure that your daughter knows "THIS IS HIGH SCHOOL" so that she's expecting it to be a bit more challenging.

Remember, each student is unique. For my kids, this schedule would have been perfect. I hope that helps to soothe your nerves.

ds Kevin 18yo
ds Alex 16yo
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Home School Education - Is it possible to homeschool college?

>>>>One woman was expressing frustration with community college, and said that he son asked if it would be possible to "Homeschool college." <<<<

Hi Debra,
Ironically, one of my squidoo lenses is "How to Homeschool College"
I would encourage you to buy the book "Accelerated Distance Learning." Another good one is Bear's Guide to Earning College Degrees Non-traditionally" by John Bear. Both books are available on my Squidoo website for purchase. Check this you-tube to give you a jump start:

You Tube on Affording College
The presenter, Gary North, suggests 7 alternatives that will help defray college costs. He has a website with additional information.

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions!

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