Diversity in Learning…

Freedom in learning is a good thing!

When we started homeschooling, it took me some time to accept that our learning at home would not necessarily look like the traditional classroom!  Oh yes, I tried at first… to make our learning “look & feel” like the classroom from my years teaching in the public.  I genuinely thought that was the “right way to do it”. 

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Oh how wrong I was!!  Our older daughter, Shelby, (in this fun paddle board video) perhaps taught ME the most about learning in our first years at home!  She thrived on thinking outside the box… as she illustrates here with her ingenuity using a boat dock & paddle board!!  She was my student in elementary school who would sing every answer to me and resist with everything in her to sit down while doing her schoolwork!  Thankfully, I can smile at these memories, but initially, as her teacher, I wrongly thought it was my job to conform her actions to the patterns of the “traditional classroom” believing (of course) we learn sitting down, raising hands, and reciting answers in a completely boring methodical fashion.  UGH… I now see what a snoozer that was!  

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Isn’t it crazy how the world has turned?!!  This very moment many, many kids across our country & world are on the sofa or their beds with laptops in hand completing assignments outlined by a virtual teacher and they’re still learning… AT HOME!   Haha!!  I like to say that we homeschooled WAY before it was cool, but how we accomplished it definitely morphed thoughout the years!     

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The reality is, today’s students don’t use books like we did.  They don’t sit in classrooms as much as we did.  And they carry the entire encyclopedia with them every single day calling it “Google”!   

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But here’s how I want to encourage you  —>  if given the freedom (ok, fine – or being forced by a nasty virus) kids will indeed learn wherever they are!  So, like Shelby taught me years ago, I had to allow her the freedom to learn differently!  She needed the freedom to explore life learning in untraditional ways (in other words, untraditional to me) … she needed the freedom to fulfill her curiosity with the paddle board experiment in Tennessee!  And I am so, so glad I realized this strategy early on before she lost her internal drive to learn!

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Yay!!  Let’s encourage & empower our students with a little more freedom to learn in new ways & and more freedom to be curious, exploring what excites them in life … whether it be virtually or even outside!  Either way, there’s no argument that education is changing and, in my personal opinion,  it might just be a good thing!  

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Are you teaching at home?  How is it going?  

~ Domestic Chick

3 Life-Hacks for Every College-Bound Homeschooler

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You Can Do This!

Even as their homeschool teacher, I knew I was not the BEST at every subject, so rather than trying to teach it all, I became more of a facilitator of their education leading them up to college level. It’s an incredible time to teach at home! We have so many resources available in today’s world! So, please let me encourage you to seek out the BEST learning experiences as your students are in high school. Trust me, you don’t have to shoulder it all. And, with that being said…

Today, our high school junior pulled out of our driveway and away to her first day of college! Yes, of course I had tears. So, from one home school momma to another, I want to share with you the HOW & WHY she’s doing this! We have discovered a few little “short-cuts” that have completely changed the way we choose to approach college for our kids. Learning how to do the same thing will save you time & money plus give your college-bound adult a nice transition from home education into university!

I sincerely hope these 3 Life-hacks will be of help to you as you bravely navigate the road toward your own student’s high school graduation day! If I can do it, you can too! Please, keep reading 🙂

#1 – CREATE: a weekly SAT/ACT plan

Here’s the HOW – Facilitating high school at home is a full-time job. As you, the home educator, prepare your high school lesson plans, I recommend assigning routine work on Khan Academy or perhaps in an SAT/ACT workbook if your student prefers/needs to learn with a physical book. With that, maybe your weekly assignments could look something like this one:

*Khan AcademyMon.Tues.Wed.Thurs.Fri.
Math*SAT math – 45 min.Lesson from your math curriculum*SAT math – 45 min.Lesson from your math curriculumLesson from your math curriculum
EnglishLiterature, Grammar, & Writing curriculum*SAT read. – 45 min.Literature, Grammar, & Writing curriculum*SAT read. – 45 min.Literature, Grammar, & Writing curriculum
This example shows a plan for SAT/ACT preparation and is meant to accompany the various other high school subjects as necessary for graduation. (Ex: science, history, art, etc.)

I highly recommend using Khan Academy online. This online FREE education website is phenomenal, and hands-down the best official SAT preparation available. In recent years it has partnered with the College Board as well, which means that the questions and test reviews match directly with the format of the SAT. I cannot say enough good about Khan Academy!

Here’s the WHY – get your student scoring well on the SAT/ACT and they will earn the ability to exempt college classes! To be clear… this means they get credit for a class without ever having to attend it AND you don’t have to pay for it either! With her SAT score, our daughter exempted English 1301, 1302, and College math. Y’all that’s 9 hours exempted by scoring well on her SAT. (With U.S. averages at $594/ credit hour that amounts to an approximate savings of $5,346 for 3 exempted classes!) Even if your student gives the SAT/ACT several attempts to reach higher scores, the savings definitely makes it worthwhile.

#2 – CONNECT: with a College Advisor

Here’s the HOW – As you complete the student’s high school transcript, it will be well worth your time to become friends with an advisor in the college world to help guide you. This person will assist you in understanding which classes can be completed during the high school years. He/she can also help select the best teachers for your kids. While convenient, the school doesn’t have to be in your town, either. At niche.com, there are many online options for your high schooler as well. For us, we do have one in our city ranked the #3 best in Texas so that made it a no-brainer! (Interesting to Note: “On average, a two-year public school will cost about 60 percent less per credit hour than a four-year public school. And at just $135 a college credit, local community colleges are one of the most accessible and affordable ways to earn college credits.” Article – “Study: Here’s How Much College Credits Actually Cost”)

Here’s the WHY – Ok, so what does a college advisor do to help your high schooler at home? Good question! Every college has an advisor guiding public school students who are the “dual-credit” students. (They also are getting college credits while in high school; however, after visiting colleges, we found that not all schools honor these dual-credit classes.) This same individual may likely be the advisor to homeschool students as well.

  • Your student’s advisor will lead you to complete paperwork for enrollment
  • He/she will provide the “Petition for Exemption” form your student will need to sign in order to receive credit for classes based on their SAT/ACT/CLEP scores
  • In Texas, if a student has not taken the SAT already, they will be required to show their readiness by taking the TSI exam for reading, writing & math, so an advisor will help you to know what is needed.
  • He/she can help in class & teacher selection – partnering with you providing the best possible education for your high schooler.

#3 – CONSIDER: Concurrent College Classes & C.L.E.P.

Here’s the HOW – After completing a few paperwork items with your student’s advisor, they can enroll and attend classes that semester – simple!

An important note: CONCURRENT classes are NOT the same as dual-credit! Personally, we chose to avoid dual-credit options because not all universities honor them when transferring credits. Our girls have attended the actual college classes on campus… hence the name CONCURRENT, meaning attending a college class and homeschool class at the same time. This way, there is no debating if the class taken during high school was rigorous enough to award college credit. It WAS an actual college class. For example, during senior year, most students have government and economics as requirements; however, they will also have them as requirements toward a college degree. Therefore, our daughters choose to complete these as concurrent – getting high school credit and college credit at the same time! It’s a beautiful thing.

Lastly, I do highly recommend looking into the C.L.E.P. options for your student at home. It is exciting how many high school classes can actually be taken online in preparation for taking a CLEP exam. The best resource I have found for this is the Modern States website. Impressively, this website offers “freshman year for free”! This means they offer enough classes online to study (again, free online classes) followed by taking the exam for college credit. Our daughter was able to exempt one full year of Spanish by taking advantage of the CLEP! (That allowed her to exempt 8 college hours, roughly an average savings of $4,752.00).

The Dave Ramsey Show

Here’s the WHY – The easy answer: these options save time & money! In doing this, your student can complete their high school transcript AND begin the college transcript AT THE SAME TIME! Below I am sharing how I noted the college level classes on our transcript. In addition, showing the ability to take rigorous, college-level classes in high school also looks favorably in the eyes of scholarship committees… BONUS!

Sample Homeschool Transcript

Note the ‘*College Level’ courses were all taken at the community college for high school graduation requirements.

Thanks, y’all for reading! I truly hope this can be a help to you. AND, I love to hear from you… so, please consider leaving me your comments & feedback!

Domestic Chick

13 Top Education Websites for Your Homeschool

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Hey homeschool mamas! After intentionally seeking out the TOP ONLINE LEARNING & ONLINE K-12 EDUCATION WEBSITES to use in our little homeschool academy, today I am sharing my findings with you!!! In this post, I will share 13 of the most AMAZING sites to consider incorporating alongside your current homeschool curriculum! You can either use these resources as a supplement to what you already do well, OR use them to alleviate a heavy schedule by assigning a subject or two online. Find what works for you! With my own homeschooling journey, I find great value in adding supplemental ONLINE LEARNING. Maybe we all need a lighter load on Friday and adding these to the lesson plan is just what we need! So, trust me when I say, these are the TOP-OF-THE-TOP education websites for your students at home! You will love them as much as they do, I promise! They are presented here in alphabetical order… so, scroll down and see if perhaps you discover an online treasure to help you in your journey as teach your sweet students at home! Enjoy, y’all 🙂

#1 ABC Mouse – Educational Games, Books, Puzzles & Songs

  • Summary: ABCmouse helps kids learn to read through phonics, and teaches lessons in math, social studies, art, music, and much more. The Step-by-Step Learning Path presents the full ABCmouse.com curriculum in a carefully designed program of more than 850 lessons in ten levels. As your child completes each lesson, he or she is guided to the next one and is motivated to continue learning by ABCmouse.com’s Tickets and Rewards System.
  • Grades: ages 2-8
  • Membership: $59.95/year
  • What is ABC Mouse? video introduction
  • Find it in the App Store
  • Multiple Awards

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#2 ArtyFactory – Artist, Styles, Techniques & Ideas

  • Summary: Art Lessons, Art Appreciation, & Design Lessons
  • Grades: all ages
  • Membership: FREE
  • Great for the art teacher, art student, artists of all ages and levels.

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BrainPop websites are phenomenal! ~ Domestic Chick

#3 BrainPop – A Universe of Learning

  • Summary: Animated Educational Site for Kids – BrainPOP offers curriculum based animated movies, learning games,  interactive quizzes, primary source activities, and a breadth of additional resources for students in all grades. Its topics span Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Engineering & Tech, Health, and Arts & Music. BrainPOP is also home to GameUp, an educational games portal for the classroom
  • Grades: K – 12+
  • Free Content: There are many free videos available! Take a look at free videos at Brain Pop Jr. & Brain Pop.
  • Family & Homeschool Membership: $160-$240/year *
  • *Coupon Codes: these can be found here.
  • Multiple platforms: Brain Pop is a family of sites! They include –

#4 Calculation Nation – Challenge Others. Challenge Yourself.

  • Summary: The games of Calculation Nation® are organized around content from the upper elementary and middle grades math curriculum. By becoming a citizen of Calculation Nation®, your child or student will play online math strategy games that allow them to learn about fractions, factors, multiples, symmetry and more, as well as practice important skills like basic multiplication and calculating area — all while having fun.
  • Grades: upper elementary – middle grades math
  • Membership: FREE

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#5 Ed Heads – Activate Your Mind!

  • Summary: Edheads is an online educational resource that provides science and math games and activities that promote critical thinking. Choose from Simple Machines, Virtual Knee Surgery or Stem Cell Heart Repair, among others. All activities meet state and national standards. Edheads empowers students to pursue fulfilling, productive careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Grades: 2-12
  • Free Games: You can still play Virtual Hip ResurfacingSickle Cell DNATrauma and other games without logging on and without a membership!
  • Family Memberships: $20 annually

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#6 Fun Brain – Games, Videos, and Books for Kids

  • Summary: Created for kids in grades Pre-K through 8, Funbrain has been the leader in free educational games for kids since 1997. Funbrain offers hundreds of games, books, comics, and videos that develop skills in math, reading, problem-solving and literacy. FunBrain is the #1 site for online educational games for kids of all ages. (math, grammar, science, spelling, history)
  • Grades: Pre K – 8th grade
  • Membership: FREE

#7 Hippo Campus

  • Summary: HippoCampus.org is a free, core academic web site that delivers rich multimedia content–videos, animations, and simulations–on general education subjects to middle-school and high-school teachers and college professors, and their students, free of charge. Teachers project HippoCampus content during classroom learning and assign it for computer labs and homework. Students use the site in the evenings for study and exam prep. Users do not need to register or log in to use the site.
  • Grades: middle school – college
  • Membership: FREE
  • Over 7,000 free videos in 13 subject areas

#8 IXL – Where Learning Feels Like Play

  • Summary: IXL is personalized learning. With a comprehensive K-12 curriculum, individualized guidance, and real-time analytics, IXL meets the unique needs of each learner.
  • Grades: K-12
  • Membership: $9.95 – $19.95/month
  • Multiple Awards

The top-notch education offered by Khan Academy will likely transform learning across the globe! ~Domestic Chick

#9 Khan Academy – Free World-class Education to Anyone, Anywhere.

  • Summary: Created by experts, Khan Academy’s library of trusted, standards-aligned practice and lessons covers math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history, AP®, SAT®, and more. Khan Academy offers personalized learning allowing students to practice at their own pace, first filling in gaps in their understanding and then accelerating their learning. Here are many of the subjects covered:
  • Grades: K-12 and beyond
  • Membership: FREE – for learners & teachers
  • BONUS: Practice is aligned with the questioning style of the College Board, the organization that creates the SAT.

#10 Math Giraffe – An Incredible Site for MATH Teachers!

  • Summary: The goal of Math Giraffe is guiding teachers to incorporate CREATIVITY into analytical, logic-oriented math classes. It offers ideas, insights, resources, and teaching materials to guide you in teaching math more creatively!
  • Grades: for middle school & high school MATH teachers
  • Membership: Simply subscribe to get free resources, updates, and ideas for teaching math.
  • Classroom Management & Ideas
  • Math Giraffe Blog
  • AMAZING pre-algebra doodle notebook newly available in 2019!

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#11 Quizlet – Learning Tools & Flashcards, for Free

  • Summary: Quizlet’s mission is simple: to help students (and their teachers) practice and master whatever they are learning. Quizlet provides engaging, customizable activities with contributions from people everywhere.
  • Grades: all grades
  • Membership: FREE
  • Apple App & Google App available

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An incredible reading comprehension site with built in grading, immediate feedback, & progress reports easily available for the parent! ~Domestic Chick

#12 Read Theory – Reading & Writing, improved.

  • Summary: Read Theory is a powerful educational tool that offers online reading activities for all ages and ability levels. Their custom web application adapts to students’ individual ability levels and presents them with thousands of skill building exercises that suit their needs.
  • Grades: all ages & ability levels
  • Membership: FREE
  • FAQ’s
My personal favorite “littles” site where they have so much fun they ask to learn more! ~ Domestic Chick

#13 Starfall – Kids Games, Movies, & Books K-3

  • Summary: Starfall’s emphasis on phonemic awareness, systematic sequential phonics, and common sight words in conjunction with audiovisual interactivity has proven effective in teaching emergent readers. Starfall activities are research-based and align with Individual and Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics. The program emphasizes exploration, play, and positive reinforcement—encouraging children to become confident and intrinsically motivated.
  • Grades: K-3
  • Home Membership: $35/year

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Friends, I’d love to hear your comments here! And also, if you have other AMAZING sites to share, I’m always looking for awesome new sites to pass along to other homeschool moms! Thank you for reading, y’all 🙂

~ Domestic Chick