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By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, May 04, 2009

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
       ***SPECIAL SERIES - High School Homeschooling***
   Vol. 10 No 35                            May 4, 2009
                      ISSN: 1536-2035                              
   Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

  Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

  If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
  And please visit our sponsors!  They make it possible.




  Guest Article
  -- Stigma-Free Homeschool Grads!
  Readers Share
  -- Looking Back on High School
  Helpful Tip
  -- Team Movie Production
  Recommended Resource
  -- Understanding Mathematics
  Reader Question
  -- Answers for "Very Discouraged"
  Additional Notes
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Subscriber Information

       Guest Article

  Stigma-Free Homeschool Graduation!
    by Lee Binz, The HomeScholar


  GED Not Required

  Once upon a time, colleges sometimes required a GED from homeschoolers
  before providing financial aid.  Since 1998, however, Congress has
  provided a better way for homeschoolers to demonstrate their "ability
  to benefit" from federal financial aid.  The law states that students
  who have "completed a secondary school education in a home school
  setting that is treated as a home school or a private school under
  state law" can receive federal financial aid.  When you fill out the
  FAFSA, the government will decide how much financial aid you should
  receive.  You can receive financial aid as a homeschool student --
  and you do NOT have to take a GED.

  The U.S. Department of Education's regulations explain that a student
  is eligible for financial aid if he was homeschooled, and either
  (1) obtained a secondary school completion credential as provided by
  state law, or (2) has completed a secondary school education in a
  homeschool setting under state law.  What does that mean?  If you are
  homeschooling within your state homeschool law, then your student is
  eligible for federal financial aid.  There is no need to take the GED.

  GED Stigma

  I saw a movie the other day about a high school dropout.  She wanted
  to get a good job, but wasn't able to without a high school diploma.
  She studied hard and finally got her GED, proving that she had a high
  school education.  It was a heart-warming story, but it illustrates
  one thing: a GED can have the stigma of "highschool dropout."  Many
  homeschoolers prefer to avoid that stigma.

  Homeschoolers are NOT high school drop-outs!  Homeschoolers are
  recognized under the law, as shown above.  Our homeschool transcript
  is a real transcript.  Our homeschool diploma is official.  Our
  students can receive federal financial aid, just like private and
  public school students.  In the working world, when the application
  asks if you are a highschool graduate, the answer is YES.  If the
  application asks if you have a high school diploma, the answer is YES.

  Calculate your EFC

  How much money are we talking about?  How much federal financial aid
  is at stake?  You may want to use one of the free online calculators
  to determine your estimated financial aid.  When you estimate financial
  aid with the "Expected Family Contribution" calculator, remember it
  does NOT include merit scholarships.  Here are two suggested resources
  for estimating financial aid:

  College Board EFC Calculator

  FAFSA Forecaster

  GED Requirement is NOT Homeschool Friendly

  When you begin to contact colleges, ask them about their policy
  regarding homeschool students.  They do not need a GED from your
  student.  If they require a GED, you can bet they are not a homeschool
  friendly college.  There are some colleges that allow a GED from
  homeschool students who do not provide either a transcript or
  portfolio; this is an option that colleges use to provide flexibility
  in their homeschool admission policy.  However, allowing a GED as an
  option is different than requiring a GED as part of their policy. 

  Get to know the college admission policy to determine if the school
  is homeschool friendly.  Few colleges these days will require a GED.
  Most colleges see and admit homeschoolers regularly, and are unfazed
  by homeschool transcripts.  If you run across one that doesn't
  understand independent homeschooling, you should likely shop for
  another college -- one that is more homeschool friendly.  More and
  more colleges are learning that these sorts of policies are counter-
  productive and are changing them to be more accepting of homeschoolers.
  As homeschoolers in college become more and more common, colleges will
  feel growing pressure to take down barriers that discourage homeschool
  families.  This is good news for families considering homeschooling
  high school.


  LeeBinz, The HomeScholar, is an expert in helping parents homeschool
  high school.  Both of her sons earned full-tuition scholarships at
  their first-choice university.  Her e-book, "The Easy Truth About
  Homeschool Transcripts", shows you how to how to package that great
  homeschool education into an AMAZING transcript that will impress the
  colleges!  Find out more here:  http://familyclassroom.net/truth.html


  Do you have comments to share?  Please do!
  Send your emails to:  mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net

                       OUR SPONSOR

  Free 45 Minute Online Science Seminars for Students and Parents!

  Greg Landry is a 13-year veteran homeschool dad, college professor,
  and director of a university Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab.
  He offers FREE 45 minute online seminars for 6th - 12th grade
  students and their parents.  Here are just a few of the topics:

  -- Top 10 Academic Mistakes Homeschoolers Make
  -- SAT / ACT - What You Should Know
  -- 10 Coolest Things About Forensic Anatomy /CSI
  -- Working toward Academic Excellence
  -- So, You Want to be a Doctor - What to do Now
  -- College Sports Scholarships for Homeschoolers

  Visit the website to register for these free online science seminars!



      Readers Share

  "One thing that I would have appreciated knowing entering the high
  school years is how quickly those years would fly by.  Naturally, I
  had a sense of how fast they grow from infancy to this point, and I
  had a few regrets as to things I could have, should have, or would
  have done differently.  But the high school years passed even more
  quickly than I ever imagined and my three children grew and matured
  into adults before my eyes, ready to move on to their own lives. Not
  that they were in a rush to move out, mind you, but the passing of
  time hit me square in the eyes, and I would have liked to have been
  more prepared.  How?  I think it would have helped to have a better
  mindset over the years -- one that said I was really preparing them
  to leave and live their own productive lives.  And I do know that it
  would have helped to slow down a bit more, taken more quality time,
  planned a few more special outings, and taken more time to savor those
  last four years.

  Spend time with your kids -- really spend time with them, talk to them,
  make sure you know who they are, and make sure they know that they can
  come to you to talk and work things out.  Trust the Lord to help you
  have wisdom in that area.

  My three are all 20 something; one son is married with a toddler,
  another lives on his own -- only my daughter remains at home.  They
  are all great adults, functioning extremely well despite my many
  homeschool blunders over the years!  We have a close relationship now,
  due in part to the time I did actually make with them through their
  teen years, and the time we now spend together as a family.  Treasure
  your time together, and make sure that they know that you love them.
  Don't smother, but show them that you care about them through your
  words and actions.  Happy highschooling!" -- Karen Lange


  "I wish that I had known how to show my daughter how to use the skills
  and knowledge that she learned in the work world.  In some areas of
  education, it's obvious where the child might find paid employment.
  My son, the computer whiz, had paid employment as a computer tech
  right away and continues in this field.  But my daughter, who studied
  childcare, foods history and cooking, has not had paid work in this
  area.  On top of that, she has proven to be too self-centered to be an
  effective parent.  She has worked in food service, but I still feel
  frustrated that she has not become fully self-supporting.  I think
  this is an important area for high school parents to focus attention on
  in their children's educational plans."

      Helpful Tip

  A Fun, Focused Teamwork Project

  "Our guys participated in a 36-Hour Film Contest a few weeks ago.
  It was a great experience for their budding creativity!  Many
  homeschoolers also participated (The Bluedorns are highly involved
  in organizing it).

  Not only did the guys want the experience, but they wanted to
  create a film with a message to share in general once the contest
  was done. You are invited to view it here:


  AND, an encouragement for parents of ADD kids! My 13-year old,
  what would be considered ADD son, did all the animation.  For a
  child who has trouble focusing, this was an example that if there
  is a passion and determination, focusing will happen.  He shot
  600-700 frames within a 3 hour and additional 5 hour session.

  My 20 year old son played the part of 'Grampa' {young}, wrote the
  story line, and did the editing.  Another homeschool friend (age
  17) directed the live action cinematography, and his older brother
  was 'Wilson'.)"


  Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share?  Please write!
  Send to:  mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

      Recommended Resource

  Understanding Mathematics
  by Keith Kressin
  For more information or to order:  www.homeschoolingfromtheheart.com
  Understanding Mathematics is a reference book with clear step-by-step
  explanations of math concepts from number basics to an introduction
  to calculus.  As your child advances in their math skills, there
  may be times when they have forgotten a concept that was covered
  earlier in their education or they may be having a hard time
  understanding their current instruction.  That's when it's time to
  pull 'Understanding Mathematics' off the shelf!  Author Keith Kressin
  has done a wonderful job of explaining every math concept normally
  covered in elementary, middle, and the early years of high school.
  Rather than just providing lots of examples, the focus of this text
  is on understanding math concepts so students are equipped to apply
  their knowledge to real world problems.
  Understanding Mathematics is such a practical resource to have on hand!
  Mr. Kressin provides step-by-step example problems to accompany his
  explanation in the text.  Uncluttered pages and clever illustrations
  aid in clarifying concepts for students and adults.  In addition to
  being an excellent reference tool, Understanding Mathematics could be
  used as a basis for math instruction, as well.  After explaining the
  concept and the mechanics of each math topic, the author often provides
  several problems and their answers, instructing the reader to verify
  the result.  If using as a basis for math instruction, one would need
  to find a source (possibly the Internet) that provides worksheets for
  the student to practice his skills.  The real strength of this resource,
  however, is as a handy reference to supplement your existing math
  Understanding Mathematics is a thorough resource you will find yourself
  referring to again and again.  As I was reviewing this book, I found
  that there were several areas of mathematics where I had memorized the
  process, but never understood the 'why' behind the steps.  Thankfully,
  now we have Understanding Mathematics on our shelf and my children
  will be better equipped to succeed in math!

  -- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

      Last Issue's Reader Question

  "Hi -- I have two boys that I have homeschooled since birth.  My
  oldest is in the eighth grade and will be starting high school
  next year.  I have been feeling very inadequate lately.  My son
  has always been above average since pre-school, but ever since
  he has begun to go through puberty, he has been making loads of
  careless mistakes in his subjects, especially Pre-Algebra.  He will
  take a test in math and end up failing it; not because he doesn't
  know how to do the problem, but because of something careless like
  multiplying 3+2 instead of adding.  The really odd thing is that
  when I put the same problem on the dry erase board and have him
  work it again in front of me, he always gets the correct answer.
  I am so frustrated with him because I feel like if he can get the
  problem correct when working it in front of me, then why can't he
  get it correct when it really matters, like on his tests?  No matter
  how many things we have tried, nothing seems to be helping him pay
  more attention.  For the past two years, his standardized tests
  have shown this 'weakness' of his.  I am concerned that 'people'
  will think I am not teaching him anything!  I have told him that
  as far as anyone else knows, he just doesn't know how to do the
  problem at all; not that he made a tiny, careless mistake that
  caused him to get the entire problem wrong.  I am at my wit's end.
  Please -- someone out there tell me this is just hormones, and that
  the fog will lift off of his brain by the time he goes into the
  ninth grade.  I can't keep homeschooling him like this.  I am
  feeling the pressure of people in our life wondering why I don't
  just put him in public school so he can learn something before I
  ruin him for life.  The only reason people in our community know
  that he is struggling with math is that things come up occasionally
  in conversation with him that make him end up looking very foolish.
  He has a hard time with careless mistakes even in thinking real
  world word problems out loud.  It isn't that he doesn't know how
  to work them out because I know he does!  Help!!!  Any suggestions
  would be most welcome; we have tried everything." -- Very Discouraged

      Our Readers' Responses 

  "I went through a similar situation and came to a point that I
  begged my husband to let me put our son in public school.  I was
  angry and frustrated most of the time and it was taking its toll
  on our mother and son relationship, as well as causing friction
  between my husband and me.  Our son didn't want to go to public
  school –- it's a really rough school -- but because of the problems
  we were having he had started to resent being homeschooled.

  Our son had failed Algebra I twice and he was near the end of 10th
  grade.  We had switched curriculums 3 times, but he just didn't
  seem to get it, and I was at my wit's end!  I am fortunate that
  Florida provides a free virtual school to its residents, and
  homeschoolers can take on-line classes and retain their homeschool
  status.  We registered him with FLVS.  At first it was a struggle
  to keep him on pace, but I set up a rule that any assignment he
  got that was less than 80% he had to re-submit.  His on-line
  instructor worked closely with me -- she would call to encourage
  him; sent him notes commending him on his hard work and diligence
  in resubmitting assignments.  Our son would show me the email he
  received and say that I should be the one getting them since I
  'forced' him to make the resubmissions.  His final grade was a low B.

  The bottom line is that our son was lazy -- and truthfully math is
  a difficult area of study for him and probably always will be.  He
  had also come to a point where it was best to let go a little and
  have him work with another instructor.  Through the experience of
  working with another instructor he realized I was not being mean or
  over demanding of him, since the same kind of demands were being
  made by FLVS.  Because of his lack of diligence, he found himself
  in the middle of 11th grade working through Algebra II.  He still
  needed to do Geometry and he didn't want to spend his senior year
  doing another math course, so he asked me to look for a Geometry
  course.  He is currently finishing up Algebra II through FLVS and
  working on Geometry using Switched-On Schoolhouse.  Surprisingly,
  he has maintained a low A average in both classes.  He recently
  took the math portion of CPT for dual enrollment and placed as
  'ready for college level Algebra'.

  While with your son the situation might just be test anxiety, it
  could also mean a lack of diligence and/or carelessness -- as it
  was in our son's case.  If at all possible, experiment with another
  instructor -- it helped in our situation." -- Judy A. in FL


  "Dear 'Very Discouraged' -- I would have him checked by a doctor
  for ADD.  I would also take him to an eye doctor to have his vision
  checked.  Sometimes things like this don't appear until a child is
  in puberty.  Just keep trying and praying -- the answer will come."


  "Your son sounds exactly like my son!  He is also above average --
  99th percentile on standardized testing.  He is 16 and is constantly
  making math errors.  He understands 99% percent of the concepts, and
  when we are going over the problems he misses every day he finds
  his own errors almost every time.  Yet he continues to make mistakes
  on computations, and obviously he does not score well on his tests.
  He also makes errors doing math quickly in his head.  While we feel
  it is most important that he understand the concepts of math, he also
  needs to be able to be correct!  My husband (who has a math degree)
  and I have wracked our brains trying to figure out what we can do.
  I will tell you that over the past few months, the errors have slowly
  begun to decrease.  We have required him to write out EVERY problem,
  which doesn't always help with the error-making, but it has enabled
  him to find his own errors more quickly, and therefore be more aware
  of where he is making mistakes.  We also have encouraged him to take
  a bit more time on his math, because I think a lot of the problem is
  that he is just rushing through, wanting to get done.  We found that
  many of his errors were coming at the very end of problems, probably
  because he would think to himself that he had the problem completed
  and just needed to quickly get the answer down and move to the next
  one.  He has never been the best at paying attention in ANY area of
  life, and I think this problem is an extension of that.  We are just
  working with him to get him to slow down and think about each problem,
  sticking with it until the end, and also teaching him to think about
  his answer once he has it down on paper.  We encourage him to ask
  himself if the answer makes sense -- i.e., is it possible that
  20 x 30 would be 100? 

  I really do understand how frustrating this problem is.  I wish I had
  a simple 3-step solution to give you!  Hang in there!" -- Mindy


  "I can't tell you for sure that it's hormones, but I can tell you that
  I have the SAME problem (pre-Algebra only) with my daughter.  She is
  VERY bright, motivated, and an excellent independent studier.  We found
  that some of it was that she was teaching herself the math, and didn't
  understand it quite as well as she thought.  Once we started doing
  math together, it was helpful, but still somewhat of a problem.  Yet
  she really knows how to do the problem once I send her back to try

  We have been using Saxon with much success, but next year I'm planning
  to put her in Teaching Textbooks so that I don't have to be with her
  every step of the way.  I have a special needs child to teach next year,
  so I need to be able to free myself up.  We are both excited about
  switching." -- Natalee


  "As a math teacher for algebra, you are describing many students at
  that very age.  Try taking a step back and let him focus on some basic
  fact tests (timed) and some various real life word problems -- even
  ones that he might create.  He is showing signs of test anxiety and
  needs to get more comfortable in a timed environment with his basic
  math facts.  Keep teaching new things, but slow down the pace while
  you add these timed tests each day.  If you are using paper versions,
  grade them by counting to the first question he misses and then target
  to do better the next day first with addition (100 problems) and then
  with subtraction if you want, followed by multiplication (100 problems)
  -- each with a maximum of 3 minutes.  The goal in the end will be to
  then lower the time to complete the facts to a lower and lower time
  with a perfect score.  This should help to build his confidence in
  basic facts as well as a better recall under pressure.  Finish this
  with a mixed review of various basic facts for the same results.
  These tests can be printed for free with random problems from various
  places on the internet as well as some fact drills that can be used
  for practice and improvement.
  Here are math trainers for fact drills (addition and multiplication):
  Tests can be found at:

  For the tests, try to stay with ones that cover the single digits
  for addition and multiplication, and through 20 for subtraction
  first, and then harder from there.
  Hope this helps, but know he is not alone." -- JenniLyn


  "My oldest is only seven, so we have not hit the hormones yet, but
  what I have heard math educators say is to go back to manipulatives.
  Make it concrete.  Use things he can get his hands on. 
  Also, have you considered using a different kind of standardized
  test, such as the Woodcock-Johnson?  A one-on-one testing situation,
  given by someone other than a parent, might give you more insight
  into what is going on than a regular paper and pencil test could.
  Maybe it is hormones -- or maybe there are learning issues that
  are being revealed by pre-algebra.  Some learning problems only
  show themselves when things get more abstract. 
  I doubt public schools would have a better approach to his learning
  issues, whether they are due to hormones or a learning disorder.
  But I would encourage you to keep pursuing an answer and don't
  assume it is only hormones.  A good pediatrician, especially one
  interested in development, might be able to give insight about
  learning disorders and development -- and hormones. :-)
  You are being an attentive parent and homeschooler.  You have your
  son's best interest at heart.  Be EN-couraged that you and your
  son WILL find a solution, and that homeschooling can be an
  excellent way to find it!" -- Jennifer C.


  "Have you tried taking a break from math?  A week, or two, with no
  math class.  Gasp!  We might not - horrors! - finish the book!  Well,
  most classrooms don't finish the book, so let's be reasonable about
  it.  Continue with his other subjects, but take a short vacation
  from math.

  Sometimes stress will cause this kind of difficulty for a student,
  especially when puberty hits.  You are feeling stressed about it,
  he picks up on it, and before you know it you're caught in a vicious

  A long time ago I read somewhere that the public schools don't really
  try to teach new concepts to junior-high age kids, because during
  puberty the best they hope for is 'arrested decay' -- they hope to
  just keep them from forgetting whatever they knew before puberty,
  till they grow out of it enough to have brain function again and
  start high school.  This is not an excuse to be lazy and not teach
  the kids during this time, but it helped me to be realistic about
  the burnout we were experiencing at the time.  It helped me to relax
  -- and that helped my kids relax.  And sure enough, by the time they
  started high school they were back on track!

  Another thought -- might he need glasses?

  Consider, too, that he might not be a 'math person'.  He still needs
  basic skills, but pray about what God has planned for your son.  If
  God has not given him a bent for math, but for language, then getting
  through Algebra I before graduating high school is a great accomplish-

  Then there's the carrot-and-stick approach as well, because you can't
  just let him lie around and watch cartoons.  Find a way to eliminate
  'busy work' from the curriculum.  For instance, if he has a page of
  64 math problems, 8 rows with 8 problems in each row, tell him he
  only has to do the first column.  If he gets them all correct, he's
  done.  But if he misses a problem, he obviously needs more practice,
  and he will have to do that whole row.  This provides incentive to
  pay attention to the details and get it right the first time.

  If he is very visual, I wouldn't be surprised that he has difficulty
  working out a problem in his head, or even by talking out loud.
  I always grab a pencil and paper to write it down because the
  numbers get mixed up in my head.  This is learning style, not
  disability. It frustrates my auditory husband, but it works for me.

  In any case, take heart!  Trust in God with all your heart, but
  don't trust your own understanding of the situation.  There's
  always something you don't know, but God does.  Ask Him for wisdom,
  and He will lead you in the right way. (My personal paraphrase of
  Proverbs 3:5-6)" -- Sarah

     Answer our NEW Question

  "We've been homeschooling from the beginning – 8 year old girl,
  7 year old boy, and girls 5 and 3.  Like most homeschoolers, it
  took us a couple of years to find our groove.  We finally did
  two years ago, but everything was interrupted when I broke my
  ankle.  I needed two surgeries and was laid up for two months.
  While that was going on, we also moved to a new state and a bigger
  house.  While my leg is no longer really a problem, we seem to have
  lost our groove.  I am struggling with a constant state of chaos --
  and it has gotten totally overwhelming.  I've tried FlyLady, SHE
  sisters card file, schedules -- you name it, I’ve tried it.  I’ve even tried
  the methods that worked before and I don’t seem to be making any
  progress.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can get back
  to some semblance of order?  Thanks." -- Mandi in SC

  Do have the answer or a possible "miracle" for Mandi?

  Please send your answer to:  mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

     Ask YOUR Question

  Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

  Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
  if we can help you out in a future issue!


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  heather@familyclassroom.net with "Notebook Sponsorship"
  as the subject. We'll send you some information on how to
  reach our audience of over 15,000 homeschooling parents!

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