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How do You Answer the Socialization Question?

How do You Answer the Socialization Question?
What do you do when people ask you about the socialization of their children?  Do you blow them off with a flip answer, or have you had any good conversations where people ‘see the light?'

I asked a few of my friends what kinds of experiences they’ve had with this question, and they shared some of their stories below.
“My husband is military and last summer brought a move; our first move since we started home schooling. As fall came and school started up, my 8th grader joined the Chapel Youth Group. Their first meeting was a fun night; bowling and ice cream. My husband drove, and hung in the background to check things out. At the end of the evening, the young woman who runs the group asked if Lauren was home schooled. My husband answered yes, but thought, “what now.”  Her response:  “I could tell that she is. She is confident in who she is, polite, and engaged in conversation not only with the other youth but also with the adult chaperones.” This young woman herself had been home schooled, and encouraged us in our journey! It was such a blessing!”
- Melissa

“I am a former paraprofessional from the school in our neighborhood. I resigned 6 years ago to homeschool our children, and I get bugged all the time about the socialization aspect of my children’s education. My favorite story relating to this topic is when I was on a field trip with our homeschooling group. A few teenage girls were talking about how it annoys them when people question them about the socialization factor. One girl said that one time some one asked her how they made friends, and she said, “I do it just like you do. I smile and say hello.” I thought that was great!”
- Shelly

“My mother took our 3 kids (13, 11, and 8 yrs) and I to a posh small tea room for Devonshire tea (cup of tea with scones, jam and cream). The tea came out piping hot, so I showed them how my grandma used to put some tea onto the saucer to cool it down and give it to me as a child to drink from the saucer. The 2 younger children (the boys) then proceed to drink their entire teapots of tea via their cup then saucer (much to the embarrassment of their 13 year old sister!). My sister dropped into the shop weeks later, and heard that my children impressed the lady serving the tea. She commented on their good manners, sitting up to have their tea. They were the best-behaved children she had had there!!!  All I can say is I reckon the bar is not set very high, and I think we will make and surpass it no worries.”
– Allison

Have you seen my Disapproving, Insensitive Relatives Translator (DIRT)?  It's a translation guide to help homeschool parents deal with disapproving, insensitive relatives.  You know the type…the relatives who make you feel like DIRT, hahaha!

I’d love to hear from you, too!  Share your stories with me and leave a comment!

The HomeScholar’s newsletter comes out on the first of every month.  Sign up now for your free monthly newsletter!
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Homeschool High School Testing: AP Exams

Homeschool High School Testing: AP Exams
Many parents write to me asking about high school testing options. Sometimes it seems confusing, but each test is simple to understand once you know what makes them unique and how they can work to your child's benefit. Tammy wrote to me recently about AP Exams:

I saw an ad in the local school bulletin.They are having AP Exams. Is that something my son can take to show his "intelligence" in a subject or is it more like the CLEP Exams?! I know I didn't word that properly, but you know what I mean, I believe.Or is it a test to take to see if you can take an AP class? I think he might be ready for the SPANISH AP Exam. would be wise to take this?  He's nearly done with RS Spanish, has one more level, but by time he takes the test, he may be done. Thanks!
~ Tammy

AP exams are subject exams.  They measure how much your student knows in a subject like economics or history. They are not a general test that show grade levels, so they can't be used like a standardized test.  They aren't an intelligence test.  They aren't the same as the SAT or ACT college admission test.  AP tests cover just ONE subject per test.

AP exams are very similar to CLEP Exams.  You can read a comparison here:  AP and CLEP Comparison.

The AP exam is taken at the end of an AP class.  However, ANYONE can take an AP test, even if you haven't taken an AP class.   In public schools, they don't always offer every AP class that kids want or need.  Those children are allowed to study a subject on their own and take the AP test without having an AP class.  Basically they are doing it just like we do - homeschooling the class and taking the test.

You don't have to take a test to get into an AP class.  You don't have to have an AP class to take the AP test.

If you decide to take any of the tests, it's a good idea to give a practice test at home first, to be certain your son can pass.  Once you are certain he can pass, then you can do some additional study to increase the score. Some  AP teachers suggest that students register for and take both the AP and the SAT Subject test for each class.  That way if kids do poorly on the AP and choose not to report the score to a college, they will still have the (easier) SAT test scores to show for all their hard work.

I think it's a good idea to take a subject test after completing a third year of foreign language.  College that require extra testing will often require it in foreign language more than other areas.

For more information you might want to get a comparison of the high school tests.  I have an audio course that covers SAT, ACT, AP, CLEP, SAT Subject Tests, PSAT and PLAN.  That class, "High School Testing" is also a free bonus if you purchase the Total Transcript Solution or the Comprehensive Record Solution.

See those cute buttons at the bottom of these blog posts?  Those are there to help you share helpful posts with others who might need encouragement.  Go ahead and give it a try.  I promise that nothing will blow up!
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Homeschooling High School: To Teach or To Learn - What is Your Goal?

Homeschooling High School: To Teach or To Learn - What is Your Goal?
As homeschool parents, our goal is NOT to teach something. Our goal is for the kids to LEARN. I could have taught my kids “at grade level” and they would have not learned a thing. Instead, I gave them curriculum at their ability level, and then they had to learn something that they didn’t already know.

I believe that older teens MUST learn how to teach themselves. If they go to college, they will be expected to learn all the textbook material on their own. College lectures are most often supplemental to the textbook – not the same. If they don’t go to college, they will still have to teach themselves some computer skills, or online banking, or how to buy a car – whatever.

My kids taught themselves Advanced Math (pre-Calculus) and Calculus. They taught themselves physics. I know they knew the material because I  gave them the tests. I didn’t know what the calculus symbols meant, but I knew that my kids answers matched the answers on the key! I could have taught them Biology and Chemistry (because I’m an RN and I know that stuff) but they actually taught themselves that as well. It just worked out better for us when they were teaching themselves, while I just checked up on them from time to time. Alex taught himself economics, and is now doing graduate level work in economic thought (we’ve been told by his professor.) He even taught himself psychology and business law, because he got fabulous grades on the college level CLEP exams in those subject.

Here’s my point: kids will teach themselves something when they are interested in it. It’s fine for kids to do that, and it works out great for kids that are working on an intensely academic, college-prep curriculum as well as for kids that are in a relaxed homeschool environment.

I have seen SO many notes about “getting it all done” that I just want to put in a plug for mom having prayer and quiet time. I found that when I was consistent with those things I could “get it all done” and when I wasn’t consistent with those things I got frustrated. Either I was expecting too much, or was frustrated too easily. When I spent time with God, then things went much more smoothly in our homeschooling.

How are you teaching your kids to learn?

I am now the Seattle Homeschool Examiner.  You can read my homeschool articles here.
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Naming Your High School Courses

Naming Your High School Courses
Some people are intimidated by grading. Some parents are scared of high school credits.  Then there are some unschool or delight-directed homeschools that really stress out about  naming classes.  It can be pretty easy when you use textbooks (look at the title of the  textbook!) but in other situations it’s not as simple.

I just got off the phone with a mother trying to name an unusual class. If you are stuck, try Google some key words from the class you are trying to name, with the words “course description.” You’ll come up with a bunch of high school and college class course descriptions that will be similar. Look for the title that best represents your class, and Voila! In this mother’s case, we decided that “Occupational Education: Restaurant Occupations” was the best name for her class.

Did you know that every Wednesday on Facebook I provide a Video Tip of the Week for homeschooling high school?  Recently I put on Facebook a video tip about Naming High School Classes.  If you are on Facebook, please check out my fan page!  You can “LIKE” my page which will allow you to grab my free mini-course called, “The 10 Essentials – What Every Homeschooler Needs to Study Before Graduation.”

Homeschool High School Tip: Naming Your High School Courses on YouTube.

If you need any extra help, you will really appreciate my Gold Care Club, as well as lots of templates and tools that will help you along.    We are currently featuring an hour long video training session on how to keep homeschool records.  You need to hurry, though.  That video training won’t be there forever!
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Community College Dual Enrollment

Community College Dual Enrollment
Community college dual enrollment is not always a positive experience.

Rebecca on Facebook asked:

Hello - I attended one of your sessions on Homeschooling High School a few years ago at Seattle Pacific University. I appreciated so much what you shared!! My son is now in 10th grade and we're considering Running Start (dual enrollment in community college.) But I had remembered that you mentioned Running Start caused problems for your boys and that you didn't think it was such a great option. Can you tell me why and what problems it caused for your boys? Many thanks!

Hi Rebecca,
Here is an article about my experiences: Facing the Community College Fad

You can read the experiences of others in these two article: Stories about Facing The Community College Fad

Lovely Landmines: Community College Experience in Canada

A few years ago, another mother heard me speak on the same topic.  She has given me permission to share her experience in a blog post.
Two weeks into our 16-year-old daughter’s first quarter at community college, two pornographic reading assignments were handed out in her required English class. I knew from prior discussions with you that dual enrollment was risky. However, I thought that if we were “selective” in the classes we  took, we could avoid the problems you had warned me about. We are looking for alternatives at this time. ~ Linda

My goal is just to encourage parents to see every side of this issue.  I'm really glad you are doing your research!

Learn how to translate all those great homeschool high school classes into the words and numbers that colleges will understand.  Get the Total Transcript Solution .
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Death, Divorce or Deployment: Homeschooling During Life Changes

Death, Divorce or Deployment: Homeschooling During Life Changes
Death, divorce, and deployment can happen. Even to homeschool parents.  It may happen suddenly, and unexpectedly.  Even a long-anticipated deployment can seem sudden when they day actually arrives, and while temporary, it can still be difficult.  When you are faced with single parenting, know that you are NOT alone!

I wrote an article with resources for single homeschool parents.  Read about Mary Jo Tate of and Alice Birchfield, a homeschooling single parent in Virginia. Get encouragement from them, and learn how to ...

* Find a New Normal
* Find Financial Income and Emotional Support
* Deal with pressure
* Resources for the Single Homeschool Parent
* Minimize Change

Read Suddenly Single - Single Parent Homeschooling. If it's not right for your situation, please send it to a friend who may need it.

I have created a series of videos on creating great homeschool records for college.  You can find them on my Comprehensive Record Solution blog!
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Here's the Solution to "Help! I don't know what I'm doing!"

Here's the Solution to "Help! I don't know what I'm doing!"
I'm getting those calls and emails again.  The ones where parents start with "Help!  I don't know what I'm doing!"

I hear it all.  See if these worries sound familiar:

  • Can my child get into college?

  • Can she get good scholarships?

  • How can I provide opportunities for his future?

  • How do we apply to college?

  • What do I do first?

If you are confused with the whole process, and don't even know what to do first, please contact me for an appointment or join the Gold Care Club for ongoing support.  You don't have to be alone!  With the Gold Care Club, it really doesn't matter what the issues are, you can get answers.  I spend a lot of time pointing people in the right direction, forwarding articles, links, and classes.  I have a wide variety of resources available for Gold Care Club members, and I would love to help you too!

Have you done everything that needs to be done to provide a college prep education?  Do you know the steps for college admission and scholarships? Instead of worrying about it, DO something about it.  Seek out the resources that will help you. The HomeScholar Gold Care Club.

Homeschooling is NOT the same as doing schoolwork at home.  There is LOTS of freedom!  Read what others are saying about my Gold Care Club!
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When "When he is old" has not arrived

When "When he is old" has not arrived
Many parents hold firmly to Proverbs 22:6 as they raise their children. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

That's a wonderful promise.  It's great motivation to work hard as we train up our children to know right from wrong, and to make good choices.

But it says "When he is old..."  What happens before he gets old?  What happens when the child grows up, and is no longer a child that you are training, but he is also not yet old enough or wise enough to receive this blessing?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is when you TRULY learn about faith, and leaning on God.

In the sad news recently, we learned about a distraught and mentally unstable man who killed many people in an unexpected slaughter.  The conversation in the media quickly turned to the parents, as if they were to blame.  It's possible they did not train up their child in the way he should go.  But it's also possible they DID, and he chose the path of sin instead.

Is the parent at fault when their offspring decides of their own free will to disregard what they were taught?

It would be easy for a parent with younger children to become indignant, and think it will never happen that way.  But older parents know better.  Read this article and notice a small comment from a 70 year old parent:  Parents of shooting suspect 'deeply sorry'  for victims . The 70 year old neighbor spoke to the media and said, "I told them they didn't fail. They taught him everything about right and wrong," Smith said. "We all know you can teach someone everything and have no control how it works out."

If you are dealing with an adult child expressing free will, this book may help.  When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us: Letting Go of Their Problems, Loving Them Anyway, and Getting on with Our Lives by Jane Adams provides warmth, empathy, and perspective. It's not a conservative Christian book, but it does provide support for parents in heartache.

Don't blame the parents for the actions of their adult children.  Blame sin nature that allows each individual the free will to choose right OR wrong.

Our monthly newsletter comes out on the first of every month.  Sign up for your free monthly newsletter here.
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Valentine's Day? Or Winter?

Valentine's Day? Or Winter?
Even though it is Valentine's Day, winter is weighing heavily upon many homeschoolers, like snow on the roof.

Are you tired of it?  Turn this winter into a fond snowy memory.  Have some fun in the snow, after you do the schooling you can do. Read aloud wintery books to your younger children, like The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Maybe one day your children will write their own novel about our own long winter!

This long winter will end, just like it did for Laura Ingalls.  And one day you'll be done homeschooling too!  So look ahead to the future - a BRIGHT future for parents that homeschool through high school!

Interested in learning what a successful book of course descriptions looks like.  Check out my Comprehensive Record Solution here.
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Exit Public School and Gather your Children

Exit Public School and Gather your Children
Some parents are born homeschooling their children.  Other parents begin educating their children in the common way until they realize they need to make a change.  It's interesting to watch families taking their first tentative steps into the homeschool arena. Some begin the journey resistant, even angry at the world for being forced into the lifestyle.  First tentative, gradually they become more confident.  Eventually they begin to feel fulfilled as a parent and as a family.

If you are beginning the journey of homeschooling (whether joyfully or against your will) it may encourage you to know that God is with you.
Isaiah 43:5-7 (New Living Translation)

5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
I will gather you and your children from east and west.
6 I will say to the north and south,
‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
from the distant corners of the earth.
7 Bring all who claim me as their God,
for I have made them for my glory.
It was I who created them.’”

One of my clients has chosen Isaiah 43:5 as her verse for this year.  In moments of certainty and doubt she will repeat it to herself.* "Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  I will gather you and your children from east and west."

For more encouragement, grab my free webinar called "Homeschooling How and Why it Works " from Dr. Jay Wile.  This is the class would be excellent to share with your spouse and children, and I think you'll love it.  You can also watch my scripture-based video called “How do you know you can homeschool high school?”

Don't be afraid to be gathered together with your children.  It's wonderful!  Even if you aren't looking forward to it, you can learn to love it AND be successful!

Check out my new profile on The Old Schoolhouse’s Speakers Bureau, and then ask you conference coordinator to invite me to come speak to your conference in 2011-2012!
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Encouragement for Parents of Struggling Learners

Encouragement for Parents of Struggling Learners
What happens when REAL homeschoolers grow up?  You know, the kids who have to actually WORK to learn?  I'll tell you what happens - they succeed! This is a letter I recently received from a friend willing to share the ups and downs of her journey - and their ultimate success!

I just have to share what happened today. My oldest child, Rhett age 16 and in the 11th grade, won the National Guard Outstanding Achievement Award. They give our one per state and only 100 in the world. He won it for having the highest GPA in Automotive Technology.

He was also the first EVER first year student to be invited to participate in national competition and he's been asked to participate in two. He won the Star Student Award several weeks ago for having the highest GPA in the college. He's only in his first semester and he's already been approached by several technical institutes (such as WyoTech) about a full scholarship.

What makes this so amazing is that this child has ADHD and a serious reading comprehension issue for which there is no cure. This is the student that the public school told me was unable to succeed because of his reading problems. I've been ridiculed and degraded for choosing to homeschool my children and this feels like a sort of vindication to me! I'm so proud of him and of all he's accomplished. God is so good!

Just wanted to share all of this with you - many of you have kept my head above water over the years...and I wanted to share this success with each of you. Let it also be an encouragement to all of those starting out that you CAN do it!


I asked Emily to encourage other parents dealing with learning challenges. Hopefully others will be able to glean helpful tidbits for their own children.
I never did anything special curriculum wise - he is a math/science/history whiz. He can memorize anything and remembers the most inane details about things. Our only special resource was prayer, our belief in him, and his belief and determination to succeed. He never gave up or even considered for a moment that he couldn't or wouldn't succeed. The only issue he ever has had was reading - and it was a HUGE issue - but God saw fit to bless him with talents that put him head and shoulders above the rest in spite of his comprehension problems.

I will say that seeing Casting Crown in November of 2007 changed his life. The lead singer, Mark Hall, gave his testimony. He talked about his struggle with ADHD and dyslexia and how people always told him he'd never amount to anything, but God didn't believe that. We stood there in that coliseum, my husband, myself, and my son (13 at the time) with tears streaming down our faces. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God had intended us to be there. The impact that made was incredible.

We always planned college. I've never doubted his ability for one second. I doubted mine plenty of times, though! Lol. Thankfully, I have a wonderful godly man for a husband who has always believed in me and our children. I always knew that Rhett going to college would mean work for us - if he was going to succeed, we were going to have to continue to be willing to give. The amazing thing? He hasn't needed our assistance on anything since beginning classes in August! He quickly excelled about the others and is, in fact, helping the instructor by teaching many things to the other students.

Rhett decided last year that he wanted to take automotive technology at the local college this year. Neither he nor we thought that he'd make a career choice out of it (we didn't have objections, but while he's always had an incredible interest in automotives and anything technical, he viewed it more as a hobby). Within a two weeks of classes starting he was talking about it in more and more. By the mid-quarter mark he knew that this was his calling and what he wanted to pursue with his life.

His plans are to attend a technical school after high school graduation and after finishing there he wants to attend a school for diesel mechanics as well. We know that with God's help he will continue to succeed.

The thing I want to say most to parents everywhere is this: "Never, ever, ever believe what someone else tell you about your child's abilities. God gave your child to YOU. Our children will live up to our expectations so set the bar high and be there to help them reach above and beyond. Believe in your child and his dreams and do everything in your power to make sure he can achieve them."

Again, thank you so much. This journey has been long and hard and has contained MANY tears and sleepless nights. I've been ridiculed, degraded, and talked about in the most cruel ways. But in the end, I wouldn't trade one tear or sleepless night or hateful word, because it made me and Rhett who we are. Who God wants us to be. What else matters?

So grateful,

For more encouragement, please see my article "College for Struggling Learners"

Do you enjoy these daily doses of high school homeschool wisdom?  Sign up to get them delivered via email or reader!
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Reduce College Expenses with CLEP and CollegePlus!

Reduce College Expenses with CLEP and CollegePlus!
Lee, I know your boys did the "CLEP route" before going to college. Did this shorten the number of credits they had to take in college?  And, are you familiar with the program College Plus? Do you have any thoughts on this company? Thanks,
~ Kitty in Washington

We did use CLEP to achieve one year of college by exam.  The biggest deal is to make sure the university you want to go to will accept those credits. The college my children attend, Seattle Pacific University, accepts one year of credit by exam.  We also had one year of community college, so they both ended up beginning the university as a junior.

Because of their full tuition scholarships, we were not constrained by finances, and the kids were allowed to take 4 years to graduate anyway.  For my son the engineer, it was imperative to take four years.  For an engineering student, it's extremely difficult to accelerate a four year degree. I've know kids with an A.A. degree from community college who STILL take four more years to get an engineering degree from a university. My guess is that most hard sciences are the same way - difficult to speed up.  I do know one biology major who graduated in two years, I guess.  But that's only one.

My younger son the political science major has also gone to the university for 4 years, but in his case it was optional.  As a social science major (politics and economics) it would have been easy for him to graduate within two years.  Because he was young, we told him to take any classes that he wanted to and graduate in four years.  He took additional French, Latin, Math, Piano, and Philosophy classes just for the love of learning.  He is also graduating after four years, but he could have easily graduated in two years.

CLEP can shorten the number of credits you take in college.  It depends on the college policy about CLEP, and it also depends on your major and  whether it is possible to CLEP the classes that you need.  We found that CLEP not only gave us college credits, documenting our homeschool and greatly strengthening their application, which helped them get great scholarships.

The unexpected benefit of CLEP was being able to afford four years of college after all!

I'm very familiar with CollegePlus! I think they are a great organization, with a great Christian worldview.  They are most helpful with for degrees in the humanities, business and computers fields. There are fewer choices for engineering or the more technical fields of study.  Here is a link to the degrees they can assist with. They also offer a wonderful mentoring program for students as they work through their college course of study.

If you only want to homeschool college for a year, or if you are highly organized and motivated to do it yourself, it's completely possible to work
independently.  I recommend that you read these two books on the subject: Accelerated Distance Learning and Bears’ Guide .

I do have a website devote to homeschooling college .

Finally, here is a blog post I've written about this issue in the past.

The HomeScholar Gold Care Club will give you the comprehensive help and individualized coaching you need to homeschool high school.
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Foreign Language is like Weight Watchers

Foreign Language is like Weight Watchers
Hi Lee,
I was wondering if you have any thoughts on Rosetta Stone software for learning a foreign language?
~ Diane R.

Dear Diane,
I've heard that it's a good curriculum WHEN it is a good fit for the child.  It's just not always a good fit.  I would try it to see.

We used PowerGlide, and that was very effective for us.  Others love Tell Me More. These can also  be found from most homeschool resources, including Sonlight CurriculumRockSolid Discount Homeschool Books, and

It's more about being consistent everyday, really.  The problem with foreign language is the same problem I have with Weight Watchers.  It only works when you actually DO the program, LOL!

If you are curious about providing a great homeschool education for your gifted child, check out my audio training, “Gifted Education at Home.
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