dimanche 17 novembre 2013


Have you ever wished you could just pack up and hit the road? I have too, but we are not able to do that at the moment. Some families feel like they can't travel as they would like because their children are in school.

There are plenty of families who are hitting the road, despite having school aged children, or perhaps because they do have school aged children. These families are homeschooling their children, their homes just happen to be on wheels and move around the country.

Just as there are many different types of homeschoolers, there are many types of “roadschoolers”. Some families follow a completely traditional school model; they just do it on the road. They carry school books and sometimes even have virtual classes by connecting to other homeschoolers via the internet.

Other roadschoolers follow a different traditional homeschool method. They use the internet to provide curriculum. Some internet homeschool curricula, such as Time4Learning, provide all lessons on line, without requiring downloads or carrying CDs or DVDs around. Because a family would have access to an entire year of curriculum they can pick and choose what they will study by where they are in the country, using lessons that correspond to wherever they are travelling at the time.

Some roadschoolers are unschooled. They essentially let the road be the guide of what their children will learn. One roadschooling family thinks that unschooled has negative connotations and chose to use a term like lifeschool because in the process of experiencing life they children are gaining an education.

This family uses the internet for research, museums along their travels for further subject matter to study. They also use national parks and monuments as a great source of materials for their children to learn. Imagine travelling to Washington, D.C., and having such great resources as the Smithsonian as your child’s educational material for a week or more.

Not all families completely pull up stakes and take to the road to roadschool. Consider how much more interesting studying the Civil War would be if you took a family vacation to battlegrounds, museums, and forts that had some significance to the Civil War. History comes to life when a child can experience a location instead of just dryly reading about it.

Other homeschooling parents use time on the road to homeschool. For example, if one child has a piano lesson across town and all of the children in the family have to travel with her. Car travel time is a great time to get older children to read to younger children, have your children read signs, or to listen to audio books. Travel time can also be used for foreign language practice times.

This type of roadschooling also works if you are travelling to a field trip. Use the time en route to make sure the children understand what they are going to experience on a field trip as you travel to the field trip, and use the time returning home to discuss what they saw on the field trip and how it relates to other things they might have studied.

Roadschooling in the largest sense, when a family picks up roots and travels the country is legal, just as homeschooling is legal in all fifty states. One way to make sure that there are no issues with legality or truancy is to follow the homeschooling laws in the state of one’s permanent residence. Keep in mind, however, that some states require that you follow their laws regarding homeschooling if you stay within the state for more than two weeks. If you intend to participate in roadschooling over a long period of time it would be worth speaking with a legal defense association specifically aimed at homeschoolers.

Roadschooling can be anything from brief studies during commute time, to a way of life where a family picks up roots and hits the open road for an extended period of time. Technology is a great way to enhance education during travel time. With smart phones, computers, tablets, and mobile hot spots, learning can happen anywhere and anytime.

vendredi 15 novembre 2013

What Are the Potential Benefits of Online Learning?

Online learning is on the rise. According to a 2013 report by the Babson Survey Research Group, over 6.7 million postsecondary students were enrolled in at least one online class in 2011, compared to only 1.6 million in 2002, and higher-education institutions continue to refine and enhance their online curriculum. In 2002, about 72 percent of these schools offered some form of online learning, and that number has steadily increased to nearly 87 percent in 2012. Colleges also have emphasized the creation of fully online degree programs, and 62 percent of the schools surveyed now award degrees entirely through distance education.

Student demand is among the many factors contributing to the growth of online learning. Students are also seeking the opportunities for flexibility of scheduling and cost efficiency that online studies can offer.

Possible Advantages of Online Learning

Convenience and flexibility:
Schedule Flexibility: Students can access their course at any time, from anywhere they can log on, in most cases. This means that parents, working students, and professionals on the move have the option of attending classes no matter their work schedule. Students only need a computer and Internet access to take online classes.
Ease of accessibility: Courseware can be accessible for students when they need it. Students can review lectures, discussions, explanations, and comments. Individuals can also share notes with each other to help facilitate community learning.
Range of options: Students may be able to choose from a wider breadth of degree programs. Some online colleges develop and offer degree programs that might not yet be available through nearby public or private institutions.
Students control study time: On-campus courses are typically scheduled in a more rigid format, with shorter classes running 50 minutes, and others running longer. Night classes may last for nearly three hours. One of the benefits of online education is that students may not have to sit for long periods of time. Lessons can be paused when needed, and notes read at will.

Student enrichment:
Chance for interaction: Online courses may be less intimidating than the brick-and-mortar classroom setting, and could help to increase student interaction. By allowing everyone to have a voice, shared ideas grow diverse as well. Students can also think longer about what they want to say and add their comments when ready. In a traditional classroom, the conversation could have moved past the point where the student may be willing to comment.
Online communications: Instructors can be more approachable in the online setting. Students may feel more comfortable talking openly with their teachers through online chats, emails, and newsgroup discussions rather than face-to-face. Online correspondence also cuts out having to wait for office hours that may not be convenient for either party.
Time to absorb material: Positive results are reported for students enrolled in online classes, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE, 2010): "on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction." Using over 1,000 empirical studies, the DOE found that time was the additive that helped students perform better. The report noted benefits in studies in which online learners spent more time on task than students in the face-to-face condition.

Cost-effective choices:
Money saving option: Students may be able to save money by not having to physically attend classes. Online courses may help individuals cut down or eliminate costs of transportation, babysitting, and other expenses incurred by attending classes in a traditional setting.
No more expensive textbooks: Some web-based classes may not require physical textbooks, as reading materials may be available either through the school's own library or their partnerships with e-libraries and other digital publishers. E-textbooks might offer substantial savings for students, adding up to hundreds of dollars a year.

Opportunities for convenience, cost-effectiveness, and student enrichment are just some of the variables that have contributed to online learning's growth. Distance education has gained steam in these areas, and advocates are continuously looking to improve upon these as well as other facets of the experience.

One concern is the lack of face-to-face interaction with the instructor and fellow classmates. Students may experience a disconnect with the rest of the classroom, but schools are proactively looking into ways to alleviate the issue. The adoption of video conferencing technologies, and even free-to-use group chats, for example, can help students interface with teachers and other students.

Another worry is that online degree programs are viewed as less optimal instruction for students, with no real standards to regulate the curriculum. However, online instruction is subject to academic scrutiny like on-campus schooling. Accrediting bodies exist to review and accredit online institutions as well as traditional colleges and programs. It's always a good idea to check that a school has been reviewed by an approved accreditation organization.

Student plagiarism and dishonesty are areas of concern as well. Some critics feel that it is easier to plagiarize or share answers because of reduced surveillance and increased connectivity. Institutions have begun to find ways to fight against these concerns with technologies to tackle cheating, like Turnitin and iThenticate.

Distance education has come a long way since its beginnings, and more advancements are likely to come. Advocates are finding ways to tighten up the perceived shortcomings of e-learning, and new technological developments continue to add to the advantages that online learning may offer for students.

lundi 11 novembre 2013

How to Make Your School a Favourite Among Kids

Schools play a very important role in the lives of our children. I mean to think of educating kids without the help of a school around is a nightmare. I agree that houses are the first place where kids start the learning process, but the help and support provided by a school cannot be overlooked. Kids spend a good amount of time at school, but eventually even then they hate going to school and come up with all kinds of excuses to avoid going. Have you ever thought what can be the reason behind such behaviour? It is a trait common to all kids. Most of the times, it is the school's curriculum which makes children hate them. I mean no one likes to sit for hours attending classes one after the other. Here are a few tips which would help you set up a school kids would love to attend.
Be flexible with the teaching process
Education is indeed very important for all children. However, you can't expect anyone to study attentively for long without taking breaks. The adults themselves would be fed up, let alone the kids. I am not saying education should be taken lightly, but you can include breaks and recesses in such a manner that kids don't get bored or drained out because of paying too much attention.
Have an interesting curriculum
Surveys conducted to measure people's productivity have proven that we all work better when we get to refresh our minds every once in a while. Apart from giving frequent recesses, you can include games periods once in a day. It would help kids to deviate their minds from studies, and they will be able to divert more attention when they sit down to study after the games. Moreover, you must include extra-curricular activities like singing, dancing, sports, recitation and others in your school curriculum to help students think about other skills and hobbies as well. These will allow the children to find their interests and school won't seem boring to them anymore.
Have a great playground
Every school has a playground, but what good is a playground with no grass on it. Students need to have a playground which would be attractive enough to tempt them to play. I agree it is difficult to maintain the natural growth of grass, but you can opt for fake grass for your school's playground. It will solve the problem of patchy or bald playground. You can have a healthy turf in your school's playground round the year. Moreover, the durability of artificial grass is higher than that of natural grass; you need not worry about frequent maintenance.
Children are meant to be restless and unsteady, I suppose that is why they are kids and that is the best thing one could do at that age. We adults are responsible for bringing them up in the best ways possible. Making them willing to attend school is a sure fire way to put a strong foundation of their future.

dimanche 10 novembre 2013

Picture Books: An interesting way of learning

Most of the parents insist on purchasing Picture Books for Children as with the help of them they can easily spend time with the children. They can show the colourful characters of the book and narrate the incident to the children in a simple way. Normally, in the picture books we see that on each of the pages, drawings and graphics are there describing the particular situation. It is only with the help of these books that a child learns and understands a thing very quickly. For example: what is the expression of a particular person in different situations can only be explained with the help of pictures. By learning about a particular expression like angry, sad or happy kids can understand the kind of reaction of a person under certain circumstances. So that the next time they see any one with the same expression they can know how to react.

There are numerous benefits that picture books have on the growth of the children. Firstly, they can be used to teach a child the concept of cause and effect. Some of them have words like because, so, if and then that are use to describe the relationship between cause and effect. Secondly, they increase their imagination power. They do not merely listen to the stories but also see the illustrations and imagine the situation related to a particular event. These illustrations are also one of the easiest ways to understand the story. Thirdly, in comparison with the picture books, the chapter books are more complex as they often use words that cannot be easily grasped by the kids where as picture comics use easy and simple language which one can easily understand.

Many children books publishers company are coming up with the picture books from various authors. Previously, only the big publishing houses published them, but now with the advancement in the technology many online publishing houses have come up. It has no become easier for the authors to publish their works without any hassles.

Due to the pressures of the society, parents are often seen bullying their children towards reading chapter books by enrolling them in preschools. But it is much better to expose these little kids to the picture books first, so that they can very easily relate the events without going deep behind the complex words and sentences that is often used in the chapter books.

Math Is Not Hard!

As a math tutor for 15 years, what I found in more than 80% of the students I met? They have somethingvery common in all of them, that is, they all say, "the mathematics is very hard." Why most of the students find mathematics a hard subject and try to avoid it?

As you know, to reach any of the higher floors from the ground level, we can't jump from ground to reach higher floors, or if we try we will fail and probably will hurt ourselves. You might agree that it is very hard (impossible) to jump to second floor from the ground. So, we use stairs to reach the higher floors in a building. What, if the stairs are broken? Can we still make it to our destination floor with the same ease and comfort? Think about it, and compare the math classes or grades to steps in the stircase and whole mathematics to the high-rise building.The answer for the above question is hidden in a simple explanation. I always give an example to my students, and giving the same example in this article, the example of staircase, we use to reach the different floors of high-rise buildings. These days, all high-rise buildings are equipped with elevators, but they must have stairs to use in case of emergencies. Consider this high-rise has stairs only and no elevators, for the purpose of the article.

Now, the kindergarten, first grade and second grade are like first couple of the steps of the whole staircase to the math high-rise and you can learn this level of math easily and anytime, same as you can jump enough to take yourself to second or third step of the staircase with ease. Also, if you are smart enough, you can learn the kindergarten to grade three or probably grade four math, easily. As it is very hard to reach sixth or seventh step of a staircase by jumping from the ground, exactly the same way to learn grade five or higher grade math is very hard (or impossible most often) without having the good knowledge of the kindergarten to grade three or grade four math.

Now, consider one person is jumping on the ground to reach the third floor of a building, can he make it? Never, if he is not Spiderman. For this person, to reach the third floor by jumping is impossible or very hard and he will give up after trying it for some time. But another person used the stairs to reach the same floor and found it very easy and reach there with little effort. Exactly the same way if a student has all the basic knowledge, he/she obtained in elementary grades, with him/her, then he/she is, let's say, at fifth step already and he/she need not to jump to go to the sixth step, actually the student can do it easily by taking one step to the next level. On the other hand another student is in grade six and doesn't know the lower grade math concepts such as, times tables, factors or number system. This student is in the same situation as the person trying to reach to third floor from ground level by jumping.

I think, its very clear now that mathematics in each grade have the same importance and it lives with us and support us always, (not like a person but like our eyes or other senses, it helps us to succeed in life). So, whichever grade you are in, start focusing yourself on math. Ask your teacher lots of questions. Keep asking until you are not clear about the concepts or topics you are working on. Each grade act as a step in the whole staircase to the mathematics high-rise building, and performing poor in math in any grade is like breaking one step in the whole staircase which will make the whole staircase risky or scary to use in the future.

So, what it takes to be smart in mathematics? My answer is, keep yourself focused on math in each and every level of your studies. Participate in the class math practice sessions. Ask your teacher lots of questions until you are not clear about any concepts taught by your teacher in the math class. Mathematics is a subject which demands lots of practice on solving the problems on paper rather than reading them only.

As in case of Social Studies taking more readings make you smart, in case of math practicing lots of problems and solving them by hand makes you smart. To practice math problems math workbooks are the good source, when you learn a concept in a workbook, then in the same book you have more problems to practice on the same concept you just learned. Another good method to practice mathematical concepts is using math worksheets and you can print math worksheets free of charge from the web.

Finally, choice is yours, you can choose the jumping method to reach your math destination or you can use right and proven path to reach your math destination. The right and proven path to math destinationhas the following steps:

* Start learning math as soon as you start your kindergarten 
* Focus in your math classes, listen to your teacher 
* Ask your teacher lots of question until you are not clear about the concept, you are learning 
* Practice, practice and practice. For this you can use math worksheets or math workbooks.

If you take the proven path, one day you might say, "Math is not hard."

Life After Homeschool

Can your homeschooled child attend college? Absolutely! Here are three things to consider as you prepare your high school student for life after homeschool.
Planning is part of any successful homeschool endeavor. When you are trying to figure out how to prepare your student for college, planning is vital. So you might ask when to plan and additionally, what to plan.
When your student is in middle school is a great time to start planning high school and beyond. If you have been homeschooling for any length of time you have figured out how best to meet your students learning style and that will help you begin the process of charting your student’s path through high school. Begin researching. Below are just a few of the questions you will need the answers to as you work through the planning phase.
  1. Does the current curriculum have high school coursework available? If not, can you find a similar program? If the current curriculum does offer high school will you continue to use it?
  2. Does your child know what they might want to do when they grow up? It doesn’t have to be nailed down to a specific such as, “I want to be an astrophysicist.” It can be more like “I love science and want to do something with that when I grow up.”
  3. What are the admission requirements for a college or university that has programs in the area your student would want to study? Some colleges require a simple transcript; others have more specific requirements such as requiring that high school science courses must show proof of lab participation. The more you know about the requirements the better able you will be to prepare your student.
It is important to note that a college preparatory course through high school will generally have four English courses, four Math courses, four Science courses, four Social Studies courses, two Foreign Language courses and six to ten elective courses.
If you live in a state that requires routine standardized tests then your student will be exposed to them throughout their educational experience. Some states do not require testing or reporting at all, while others list it as an optional practice. It is important to prepare your student for standardized tests if he or she intends to attend college. Most colleges require the ACT or the SAT. Some require both. It is possible for your homeschooled student to begin taking the ACT at around seventh grade, though this is probably young for most students.
There are several ways to help your homeschooled student prepare for these admission tests.
  1. Attend a test prep class. There are a number of places that offer these courses. Libraries, community colleges, and high schools are among the places where you can find test prep classes. These classes teach test taking strategies and time management strategies as well as give the student exposure to what types of knowledge will be tested.
  2. Read test prep books. Your local library may have study guides and other materials that will help your student prepare for the ACT and SAT tests. How to guides for test prep are also available for purchase through book retailers.
  3. Practice tests. It is possible to incorporate practice tests in the test prep. Practice tests can often be found online. It is also possible to take the actual tests more than once. If you have your student take the tests early the results may show where your student needs to concentrate in order to improve test scores.
Your student should know what the target scores are for the standardized tests. Check with the colleges to which your student intends to submit applications. In addition to the college requirements, some scholarships require a certain score. Check for odd rules, for example, one state offers state scholarships to high school students with certain ACT scores. The odd part is that a public school student and a homeschooled student do not have to have the same score to qualify. The homeschooled student must score two points higher than the public school educated student in the overall ACT score to qualify for the same level of scholarship in that state.
Since homeschooled students generally do not have a school keeping up with their high school transcripts this will be the homeschooling parents’ responsibility. Important things to include in the student’s transcript is the course title, the material source (what book, course, online entity did you get the instructional materials from?), the basic course outline, and the student’s scores in the courses.
Other important records to keep for your homeschooled high school student are records of field trips, work-study experiences, outside course participation, volunteer and charity participation, club participation, and records of independent study projects. You might also consider compiling a student portfolio which would include samples of the student’s work. This would be of particular importance if your student is an artist, writer, or musician.
Finally, though it seems like a lot of extra work to prepare your homeschooled high school student for college, it is generally not any more work than is normally done for public or privately educated students. What is different for homeschoolers is that generally a lot of this preparation is done by the school. Since you are a homeschool, all of the responsibility falls on the homeschooling parents. It is very possible to homeschool high school and expect that your student can excel in the college environment with a good planning, good test scores, and good record keeping.

What Really Happened To Boys?

Four years ago, psychologist Leonard Sax (MD, PhD) wrote a well-received book titled “Boys Adrift.” The doctor tried to answer the question, why have so many young males fallen into passivity and indifference?
Dr. Sax had heard more and more parents complain that their boys stayed indoors most of the time, spent hours on video games, and in general seemed to lack the confidence and esprit de corps that had characterized boys throughout history.
“Something scary is happening to boys today,” Sax concluded. “From kindergarten to college, American boys are, on average, less resilient and less ambitious than they were a mere twenty years ago. The gender gap in college attendance and graduation rates has widened dramatically.”

The book’s full title is, “Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men.” Sax lists the five factors right on the cover: “video games, teaching methods, prescription drugs, environmental toxins, devaluation of masculinity.”
It’s worrisome that he seems to like them all. That might be a clue that he has not solved this mystery. Indeed, let’s consider the possibility that none of these theories is the deep answer we want. Let’s start from scratch and consider the things we know for sure.
First of all, critics have often noted that schools seem organized more for girls than for boys. Most boys do not want to be confined to a desk; they would rather be outside playing and competing. Second, not only are boys kept passively inside, they are forced to deal almost the entire day with reading, writing, and arithmetic, probably not their own first choices.
But these factors are historically common. Boys have always been restless at their desks. They have often stared out the window and daydreamed. Furthermore, in many other cultures and ages, discipline was greater; serious academic work was demanded. So it’s not as if there were some golden age when boys had it better. No, they have it worse today, and for reasons that are new.
We are now arriving at the heart of darkness.
Consider that all school activity revolves around two basic skills, reading and arithmetic. Students spend a lot of each day on these and must learn them in order to advance to any other subjects. Failure in these two subjects virtually guarantees failure in all subjects, and in all of life.
Perversely, our public schools, for more than 50 years, have used dysfunctional methods that virtually guarantee failure for the ordinary boy (that is, a boy who will struggle to a degree but finally says, screw this.
To learn to read, he is told he must memorize English words as graphic designs. He fails for all the reasons that Rudolf Flesch explained in his 1955 bestseller, “Why Johnny Can’t Read.” Almost as devastating, the boy must learn arithmetic using one of the dozen curricula collectively called Reform Math. These are exceptionally cumbersome and frustrating for children, as has been amply documented.
Now imagine a boy, restless and impatient, locked in a situation he doesn’t really like, engaged in activities he might prefer to avoid. He senses that instruction is gratuitously difficult and tedious. Increasingly, he rebels. Already he glimpses a future hopeless and horrible, where he will never be allowed to succeed.
He comes to school every day depressed and is told to memorize sight-words, which is very difficult to do. If he actually does master 100, the next 100 will overwhelm his brain. Simultaneously, he is made to learn arithmetic in ways that he can’t understand. Even his parents can’t explain to him the techniques he is supposed to learn.
So every day, every week, every month, the ordinary boy stares at a sign flashing in the air: ACCESS:DENIED.
Whatever it is he is supposed to do, he can’t do it. He wants to, he really, really wants to. What else does a boy have but cockiness and confidence? Boys rule! Or they once did. But their sense of being master of any situation is no match for the dark genius of our Education Establishment.
He becomes sullen, then angry. He hears his parents whispering about him. He goes to conferences where his teacher talks about remediation and dyslexia. He’s told he has ADHD. He might need Ritalin.
Imagine when he is seven and failing. Imagine when he is eight and still failing. Imagine when he is nine and more blatantly failing. Imagine how many discussions he has had with his teacher and parents about his inability to do the simplest things. Imagine the interior collapse of confidence. If his parents and all adults in his world think, to put it bluntly, that he is retarded, then he must be.
The signs flash everywhere: SUCCESS: IMPOSSIBLE. DREAMS: CRUSHED.
Dr. Sax put a lot of emphasis on video games but perhaps he has it backwards. Consider that the school world makes boys feel helpless. But the virtual world lets many boys be the smart, extremely capable people they actually are. Which world would you choose to remain in all day?
Dr. Sax puts a lot of emphasis on early literacy instruction, as if this is a strain. Why would it be a strain if boys actually did learn to read? Reading is fun. It’s the con that is the strain. It’s adults pretending to teach children to read but not letting them learn to read that is the killer.
Dr. Sax speaks of masculinity being undervalued. Maybe it’s more directly a case of masculinity hemmed in and, as the school years pass, neutralized.
Finally. one can never escape the impression that there is premeditation in all of this. Does the Education Establishment use these methods to induce a loss of confidence? Then they are evil people. If they don’t know any better, then they are incompetent people.

samedi 9 novembre 2013

Helping Students Find a Purpose for Their Education

It has been my observation that many of my best students became intrinsically motivated to put more effort into their education after they have decided on a career purpose. A work or career purpose or mission answers the following question: How do I want my career to benefit others? It is also important to identify who (the population) we want to benefit.
An example of a work purpose statement is, “I want to help those who are sick or injured to heal and rehabilitate.” This statement does not contain a career title, but it provides guidance for exploring a variety of careers that can fulfill this purpose. For example a student with this purpose could explore a variety of careers such as nurse, doctor, physical therapist, nutritionist, athletic trainer, fitness trainer, engineer or inventor of products for persons with disabilities, etc. The career that they choose will depend on their capability and willingness to acquire the necessary skills, education, training and credentials. Ideally the career choice will be one that uses their best talents and is one they will enjoy doing.
Do you ever share with students why you chose to work in the field of education? Students need to learn about different careers from adults who work in different career fields and to hear what motivated them to make their career choices.
I teach college success courses and I used to wait until the end of my courses to get into career development, exploration and planning. Students did not think about a career purpose until the last week or two of my courses. Recently I started covering these ideas in the second week of my courses so that students would have a clear direction for their education much sooner. Having a career purpose can make their education relevant and is likely to generate the intrinsic motivation to study and learn. Students need to be provided with opportunities for career guidance from counselors, teachers and professors in high school and college. You do not need to be teaching college or career success courses to do this, but can weave in a few questions and ideas into other courses.
Here are a few questions you can ask your students so that they can begin a process of self-reflection about their career purpose:
  1. What purpose do you want to accomplish in your career?
  2. What benefits do you want others to receive as a result of the work you do?
  3. What specific populations of people do you want to help?
  4. How do you want to contribute and make a positive difference for others?
  5. If you were wealthy and chose to work what would you do?
  6. What problem or need in the world would you most like to fill or solve?
  7. If you knew you could not fail what type of work would you do?
  8. What are some natural talents you would like to develop and use in a career to fulfill your work purpose?
When we expect students who lack self-knowledge and a work purpose to choose a major and career, we are putting the cart before the horse. Identifying a purpose first will guide students into better career choices. If we help students to determine an appropriate career goal then they will also have a purpose for pursuing a good education.

Is My Child Learning Enough?

One of the big questions most new homeschoolers ask is, “How will I know if my child is learning?”
When a child is in public school he or she is constantly tested. Each week there are spelling tests, there are chapter tests on a regular basis, and in many states there is standardized testing. Many parents of public school students decide that if the grades coming home on test papers and report cards are good, then their child must be learning.
When students are pulled from a traditional school setting and placed in homeschooling it is sometimes difficult for the parent to know if the student is actually learning enough to keep up with their grade peers. A big problem is that homeschool students tend to not be tested as often as public school students. But is it really a problem and is testing the only way to know if a student is learning enough?
How Long?
Sometimes it is difficult to tell if a child is learning enough in homeschool because homeschooling generally takes much less time than traditional education.   Homeschooled children generally do not spend as much time on a particular topic as traditionally educated students because they are neither ahead nor behind their classmates. Part of the reason for this is that your homeschooled child is receiving one-on-one attention. They do not have to wait for others to catch up, nor are they holding up other students back if they need to spend more time on a topic. If the student understands the topic then he or she can move on right away.
Traditional education is set up for a traditional school year, in many states that is approximately 180 school days. That is, for each subject an hour of instruction per day for 180 days, or 180 hours per subject. Now, consider this question: Is a public school hour of instruction really an hour? Students must move from class to class, spending time talking to peers, going to lockers, and moving between classrooms and even buildings. A traditional school hour of education might be as short as 45 minutes by the time moving, getting settled, and ready to actually learn are taken into account.
Homeschoolers can take almost all of that transition time out of their day. The commute from math at the kitchen table to history on the sofa takes considerably less time than moving from one end of a building to another and climbing a flight of steps or two.  When was the last time you heard of a traditionally educated student actually finishing a complete textbook in a year?  It is safe to say that a homeschooled student can probably cover more material in a school day than traditional educated students can. It is not unusual for a homeschooled student to complete the entire course in a homeschool curriculum.
Homeschooled students generally do not take as many tests as public school students do. Consequently, less time is spent teaching “to the test”. Teaching to the test limits a student’s exploration of a subject by limiting them to the material that will be tested. Testing is not necessarily a true measure of understanding of a topic.
In fact, standardized tests can be detrimental to students who are from different backgrounds and upbringings. Consider, for example, a standardized test question that asks reasons for the Civil War. Since the Civil War is viewed differently by different ethnicities, as well as different locations, a question designed to show understanding of the reasons behind the war might not realistically test a student’s knowledge.
Another problem with standardized testing is that some students are very test savvy, understanding how to take tests well even if they do not understand the subject matter. Other students are poor test takers and do not do well under the pressures of timed tests. A low score by a poor test taker is not a true measure of their knowledge or learning ability, only their testing abilities.
You’ll know!
It sounds cheesy to say that you will know if your child is learning but the reality is that you will know if your child is learning. You can see it on their faces, you can tell by their attitude, and you will see forward progress.
If your student begins their homeschool day ready to go to school, moves quickly through their assignments, and is hungry for more information, it is safe to say that the student is learning.
If your student can not only give you the instructed materials on a multiple choice test, but can hold a conversation about the material you will know they understand the material. When a student can play the part of the teacher, either giving a speech, or teaching other children in a subject, then that student will have sufficient knowledge of a subject to move on to new material.
Finally, as the parent as well as the teacher it is possible to see the student in all stages of learning. You will not have to depend on a report card, or a test score. You will see your student work through the instructional material, watch them answer questions, and be able to judge for yourself if your student is actually learning.

Stop the Homework Fights: Working Smarter, Not Harder

Jen had reached her wít's end. After a long day at work, she used to look forward to comíng home and spendíng tíme wíth her kíds, even íf ít was just the tíme ín the car on the way to soccer practíce. Lately, homework fíghts had kílled any "qualíty" out of the qualíty tíme they spent together. Jen's older daughter, Katíe, had always had an easy tíme wíth school. She never had to be nagged to do her homework, and often dídn't even need any help wíth ít. Her younger brother Jeff, on the other hand, avoíded homework líke the plague.

Jen knew Jeff was smart- he could talk your head off about the íguana he saw at the zoo- but when ít came to readíng, he just couldn't do ít. Jen would sít wíth her son for hours doíng homework that should have taken 20 to 30 mínutes. Spellíng was even worse. They would study hís spellíng words untíl he could recíte them all by heart. The next day Jeff came home ín tears holdíng the spellíng test, of the 10 words, he had only spelled fíve ríght. The harder Jen tríed to push hím to do hís homework, the more upset he got wíth hímself and wíth her.

í wísh Jen's experíence was a uníque one, but ít's not. Hundreds of parents come through our websíte everyday, often wíth a very símílar experíence. The top seven homework challenges parents share are:

1- Students do not bríng home the ríght books

2- Homework assígnments are eíther not wrítten down or are íncorrectly or íncompletely wrítten down and/or notes are íncomplete.

3- Parents have to re-teach what was covered ín class

4- Chíld was too embarrassed to ask teacher for help wíth somethíng they dídn't understand

5- Chíld does not understand what they are readíng - thís happens both when they have a readíng assígnment and must answer questíons and wíth math word problems

6- One or both of you lose ít when doíng homework and once agaín homework turns ínto stress-work

7- All these problems worsen as the chíld gets older and the work gets harder

Let's walk through each one and talk about some answers.

1. Not Bríngíng Home the Ríght Books

Thís seems pretty basíc, but ít's also a common problem. íf the student ís ín publíc school, the solutíon ís partíally to have a 504 Plan or an IEP (Indívídualízed Educatíon Plan) that either calls for:

The teacher or a buddy checkíng to make sure the student has brought home the ríght books or havíng a second set of books at home?

ít ís ímportant for parents to know that íf a chíld has ADHD, attentíon defícít wíth or wíthout hyperactívíty, and thís sígnífícantly ímpacts theír academíc performance, the student should qualífy for an IEP.

Parents need to realíze that IEPs are wrítten contracts, but they are rarely followed - íf the teachers have agreed to do somethíng work collaboratívely wíth them to set up a system that works - fírst work wíth the teacher and go up the ladder to make sure you get the ríght help.

íf the student ís ín prívate school, then any accommodatíons are at the prívate school's díscretíon - they may be more understandíng than you míght expect - these problems occur more frequently than you míght thínk. (íf someone at the school says "We don't have a specíal program for chíldren líke thís"-you míght remínd them that Eínsteín, Edíson and Dísney were "líke thís" and that wíth some mínor changes they could be quíte successful, thank-you!

The key ís to work wíth your chíld to make sure they do bríng the ríght stuff home more often and that you have a back-up system íf that faíls - (e.g. havíng a fríend's phone number). Remember- reward for what WAS done-not punísh for what was NOT brought home. "You díd ít AGAíN!" ís not a way to effect posítíve change. Try- "You brought your math, but next tíme what do you have to do to remember all of your books?" See what suggestíons THEY come up wíth.

2. Not copyíng down the ríght assígnment

Síxty percent of the students we see have vísíon related íssues that often make ít díffícult for them to copy assígnments off the board. íf the student takes extra tíme to copy ínformatíon, there ís an excellent chance they are míssíng what the teachers try to cover ín class - agaín accommodatíons are called for. Students often have problems takíng notes whíle the teacher ís talkíng and we often recommend students eíther get the notes from the teacher or another student.

Schools are often reluctant to gíve these accommodatíons, because they want the chíld to ímprove thís skíll. One compromíse solutíon we have found helpful, ís for the student to be requíred to try and copy assígnments duríng the tíme the rest of the class ís doíng so, and then for the teacher to make sure the student has the assígnment correctly wrítten down before the student goes home. For notes, ít ís very ímportant for the student to get a copy of these notes; otherwíse, they'll be completely lost when doíng homework and when studyíng for tests.

3. Re-teachíng what your chíld should have learned at School

When a student ís unable to understand what the teacher ís sayíng ín class, ít could eíther be due to hearíng, attentíon and/or learníng íssues. Whíle audítory íssues are often the school's díagnosís, we have often found sígnífícant ímprovements once the attentíon and learníng íssues are addressed. We urge parents to have a thorough assessment so the real íssues can be ídentífíed and addressed.

4. Chíld was too íntímídated to ask for help.

Beíng too íntímídated to ask questíons ís a problem for 90% of our students. The best solutíons we have found are to eíther have the teacher ask easy questíons to buíld the student's confídence and to develop a nonverbal communícatíon that allows the student to índícate when they know the answer.

We've also found ít very helpful to set goals wíth the students to ask more questíons, because askíng questíons requíres them to pay attentíon and thís ín turn gets homework done faster and better.

5. Chíld has problem comprehendíng what they are readíng

We talk more ín depth about readíng comprehensíon ín a separate artícle at www.3dlearner.com/readíng. As Dr. Línda Sílverman says ín her book "Upsíde Down Bríllíance" ít ís ímportant fírst to address síght word vocabulary and pattern recognítíon before phonícs wíll work for these students.

Before ínterventíon, two optíons we've found that work best for these students are to eíther get textbooks on tape through the Recordíng for Dyslexíc and Blínd www.rfbd.org for students wíth vísíon íssues or dyslexía, or where parents read aloud wíth theír chíld.

6. Reducíng the Stress of Homework

Students often take two to three tímes as much tíme to do homework as other students. Whíle learníng, attentíon, and/or vísíon íssues wíll often result ín homework takíng longer, we've often found GOLD students homework tíme can be cut by 25% to 40% when parents can just stay calm.

Our challenge to parents ís to ask you to stay calm for the next week when doíng homework wíth your chíld, and to wríte us an e-maíl at calm@3dlearner.com wíth your observatíons.

Lastly, homework wíll get more díffícult, take longer and create more stress, unless the underlyíng vísíon, attentíon and/or readíng comprehensíon íssues are addressed. We strongly encourage you to ídentífy and address the íssues as soon as possíble.

Educating Through Technology

Once upon a tíme homeschoolers míght have been consídered old-fashíoned. Thís ís probably because of the stereotype that homeschoolers are generally homeschoolíng for relígíous reasons, síttíng around a díníng room table doíng copy work from hístorícal ícons, and learníng to read from old publíc school readers. Líke all stereotypes there ís probably some basís ín truth but today’s homeschoolers are breakíng out of that stereotype.

Today’s homeschoolers are often at least as technologícally advanced as theír tradítíonally educated counterparts. Part of the reason thís ís true ís because homeschooled students are not síttíng ísolated ín theír homes poríng over outdated textbooks but are studyíng the latest avaílable materíal by means of technology. Many homeschooled students are takíng part ín dístance learníng, self-guíded learníng, and onlíne currícula.

Dístance learníng

Dístance learníng or dístance educatíon ís a method of presentíng educatíonal materíal through correspondence work, or lectures presented on the ínternet. ít allows students to have access to professors and other specíalísts that míght not be avaílable locally. Students generally use the ínternet to attend classes and are not requíred to be present at the school at all.

There are many dífferent varíatíons of usíng technology for dístance learníng. Some courses are broadcast at a certaín tíme on the ínternet and all students are expected to log ín, símílar to an onlíne meetíng síte. Thís type of dístance learníng ís called synchronous or líve learníng. Other courses are uploaded to the ínternet for the students to use when they have the tíme. Thís type of dístance learníng ís sometímes called asynchronous dístance educatíon.

Self-guíded Learníng

Self-guíded learníng ís símílar to dístance learníng. Some uníversítíes offer free courses onlíne. Whíle the courses are usually offered not-for-credít, they stíll represent a large body of ínformatíon. Most of these courses are onlíne, free, and often contaín both vídeo and searchable lecture notes. An example of thís type of educatíonal materíal ís MíT Open Courseware. By searchíng the ínternet for open course ware ít ís seen that a number of prestígíous uníversítíes offer símílar open course ware.

Another optíon for self-guíded learníng ís Khan Academy. Courses avaílable there are not offered for credít. ín fact, ít míght even be consídered free onlíne tutoríng as many complex topícs ín math and scíence are broken down ínto easíly dígestíble, short lectures.

Whíle thís coursework ís offered on the ínternet for free and ís a great way for a student to gaín knowledge, ít ís generally not offered for credít. However, there ís no argument that thís work ís an attractíve addítíon to homeschool transcrípts and can be a great preparatíon for takíng college entrance as well as CLEP tests.

Onlíne Currículum

Onlíne currículum for homeschool students ís offered from Pre-K through 12th grade. Sometímes ít ís díffícult to see the dífference between dístance learníng and onlíne currículum. Probably the maín dífference ís that wíth onlíne currículum most of the ínstructíon ís presented onlíne as well as most of the coursework. Thís onlíne currículum type of learníng generally does not have a “líve” ínstructor that the student answers.

Much of the testíng ís done by the program ín the form of multíple choíce or fíll ín the blank answers though ín hígher grade there are often wrítíng assígnments that parents wíll have to grade for theír for theír homeschooled students. Onlíne currícula can be used for core educatíon as well as supplemental coursework. One example of an onlíne currículum ís Tíme4Learníng.

Other Optíons

There are many other opportunítíes for homeschooled students to take advantage of technology ín theír educatíonal endeavors. The ínternet ís, ín some cases, takíng the place of the líbrary. Sínce many famílíes no longer buy sets of encyclopedías the ínternet ís a great research vehícle. There are many subject specífíc sítes that províde ínstructíonal materíal as well as educatíonal games. Homeschooled students often do not have access to the same textbooks that tradítíonally educated students do, so learníng to use technology affords homeschooled students wíth opportunítíes to learn and expand theír horízons that they míght not have otherwíse.