"" -- A Homeschooler's Notebook Subscriber.
An interactive, FREE, twice-monthly ezine packed with great reader tips, reviews, & practical encouragement for homeschool families.


Some of Our Sponsors


Landry Academy

Math Mammoth

Great Homeschool Conventions

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Resource Links

All About Spelling
Homeschooling ABCs
Upper Level Homeschool
FIRETIME Notebooking
FREE Funschool Units
Homeschooling Help
More Homeschooling Help
HS Gifted and Talented
Homeschool Country Life
Beloved Books & Audio




By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, July 29, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 42, July 29, 2010, ISSN: 1536-2035
© 2010, Heather Idoni - www.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.


The Keystone School is an accredited and licensed private school that
offers teacher-supported distance learning courses for grades 6 – 12.
We have partnered with homeschool families for over three decades in
educating children at home through middle and high school. At Keystone
you can enroll your child in a full course load, or supplement another
homeschool curriculum with one or two Keystone courses. Whether your
child’s goal is to become conversational in Mandarin, get a head start
on earning college credit by taking AP courses or brush up on English
grammar, Keystone can help. Visit keystoneschoolonline.com or call us
at 1-800-255-4937 to learn more.


Notes from Heather
-- Your Homeschooler's Notebook!
Feature Article
-- A Reflection on Priorities
Helpful Tips
-- Four of Our Readers Share!
Thoughts from Cindy
-- Staying True to Your Calling
Reader Question
-- What About Portfolios?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

*Your* Homeschooler's Notebook!

I'm so excited to share today's special high school issue!  :-)

We have some really great reader contributions and I know everyone will be
blessed in some way from reading.

Keep those tips and ideas coming for future issues!



Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send to: mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


Homeschool Your High Schooler with Confidence!

Are you prepared?  Overwhelmed?  Don't let self-doubt, or lack of knowledge
rob you and your teen of these very exciting years!

All you need are a few basic "how-to's" and your high schooler can be well
on his way to academic success and a very bright future.

Terri, I wanted to take a moment to write to you about your Upper Level
Homeschool course
. This is fantastic so far (on lesson 3) and has been
such a boost to our confidence level. Thanks a lot! I am looking forward
to the next sessions! -- Kathy

Get Your FREE 5 Day Mini-Course!

"5 Keys to Successfully Homeschooling Your Teen Through High School"


Feature Article

Homeschooling Through High School - A Reflection on Priorities
  by Dana Wilson


Am I smart enough?  Am I organized enough?  Will I be able to discipline myself enough?
Will I be able to make a workable plan and stick to it?  Will I ruin my kids not doing
science/history/art/ - you fill in the blank - this year?  Will I be able to teach high
school?  Will my kids be able to get into college?  If they do get in, will they be able
to hack it?  Sound familiar?

As my oldest finished her first semester at college and we waited for those first grades
to be posted, I reflected upon these questions I had asked myself over the years, and the
answer was:  No, I'm not smart, organized or disciplined enough!  But God has blessed in
spite of my limitations.

Most of us would not consider ourselves brilliant, but we all have the desire for our kids
to grow up to be independent learners, to be kind to others, well-rounded, responsible
citizens, well-informed about the issues surrounding us, and even more importantly, to
have a heart for God. 

Isn't it interesting that I didn't mention that they needed to be perfect spellers, get
all A's in high school math, or be able to remember all the US Presidents in order?
Academics are important, but they are not the most important. Seek first His kingdom and
His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you - Matt 6:33
.  I know, I
m taking this verse out of context and I know it doesn't mean that if we do devotions
everyday after breakfast that my kids will get straight A's.  But it does mean that we
are instructed to keep first things first and place spiritual training and discipling
ahead of algebra, in my humble opinion.  What does this look like, you ask?

- As parents, we have tried to put into practice what we are teaching them.  It doesn't
  do me any good to require that the children speak kindly to one another when I am not
  speaking kindly to their father.  It isn't productive for me to tell them to be
  respectful, if we, as parents, are not respectful of one another and of them.  That
  doesn't mean that we are perfect, but we try to do our best, and we apologize when
  we mess up. (Which in my case, can be often.)

- We have had regular devotions, geared to children's agesThat doesn't mean to "dumb
  them down
", it just means that it works best to have devotions short and include singing
  and object lessons when they are younger.  After breakfast worked best for us, just
  because it was the beginning of their day before we started working on different
  activities.  We also chose a hymn a month, talked about the words and memorized at
  least the first verse.  Note, in our house, parents get up earlier and have personal
  devotions before children get up.  As children get older, we get 'meatier'.  By the
  time they were in late elementary and middle school, we were working through the book
  of Romans, a few verses at a time.  Also at this age, we encouraged our kids to start
  having their own devotions, either when they first woke up or before they went to bed.

- We have attempted to model that treating each other well and following instructions are
  more important than getting the (academic) work done
.  Many a time we have put away the
  books to attempt to unravel a sibling squabble.  Work is not continued until apologies
  are made and forgiveness offered.  As well, work that has been done without regard to
  following instructions is often required to be done again.  Not that I recommend being
  a stickler on the non-essentials, but if I have asked that someone show each step on an
  algebra problem, then the work is not done until those steps are included.  And as
  painful as it is
, writing a well-crafted essay always takes more than one draft.

- As a family, we serve each other and serve others outside of the family.  Make a game
  out of looking for ways to serve one another each day or each week.  If the parents of
  a household are doing all of the serving, then things are out of balance.  I know it is
  much simpler and faster to clean a bathroom yourself than train (and retrain) a child
  to do it, but the investment in time and energy is worth it.  Children will someday be
  spouses and parents themselves (God willing) and will then be required to serve, so they
  might as well grow up learning how to do it now.  Serving others can include bringing
  in a neighbor's paper and mail while he is traveling (without remuneration), mowing a
  lawn for a single mom of small children, watching a young mother's baby so she can get
  something done, or helping to make and deliver a meal for someone who is ill.  Include
  your children in all such activities.  When they are old enough, give them an opportunity
  to minister to another culture, for example, by going on a mission trip to a poor area of
  the U.S. or to a foreign country.  Better yet, go as a family. This can be life-changing!

Homeschooling provides such a fertile atmosphere for shaping and molding your kids' hearts;
I am very grateful to have had that opportunity, and it is has gone all too quickly!  Now
as my daughter is applying to graduate schools and making plans to go back to college as
a senior, and we are gathering items my son will need this year as a freshman, I am so
thankful to see so much of the fruit of our prayers and our labors.  God is so faithful!


Dana Wilson is a long time reader of our Homeschooler's Notebook!  She is the owner and one
of the authors of Epi Kardia Home Education, LLC, publisher of wonderful literature-based
curricula using Charlotte Mason methods for Kindergarten through High School.

Helpful Tips

Thank you to Kathy, Judy, Lori and Mindi for sending in great tips & ideas!  :-)


SAT Subject Tests

"Many colleges request that high school students take two or three SAT subject
tests.  These are one-hour, multiple choice tests that are relatively inexpensive.
The tests are given in subjects such as Biology, World History, Math, Chemistry,
Physics, etc.  These tests are also good for homeschoolers to help substantiate
grades, and some colleges specifically ask that homeschoolers take a couple of the
tests.  To avoid testing overload, PLAN ahead.  Take a couple of tests at the end
of the 9th grade and 10th grade, and choose tests based on topics covered that year.
Study guides for these tests are available and are a great help in preparing."
-- Kathy M.

Editor's Note:  Wow -- I had never heard of these SAT subject tests before -- or
that some colleges require them!  If you want more info, this is a pretty good site:


Collegeboard.com is another good site, however they were down for maintenance and
I couldn't get a direct link to the SAT subject test info. -- Heather]


High School Co-op Inspiration!

"I want to share some of the plans our homeschool support group has.  We hope to
meet once a week, for the entire day (from 10 to 3).

In the mornings we will do a 'Master the SAT' class.  This class will end in early
November.  We'll meet the week before every SAT to do a SAT practice.  When we
complete the regular schedule SAT Prep, we will have a Scholarship Club.  The
objective will be to help our teens look for money for college.  We will be using
FastWeb and Zinch, among many other sites.  We will also work on the college
application essay/personal essay, write student resumes, etc.

In the afternoons we will have a 'Finance and Investment' club.  Our teens will
learn basic personal finances and investment principles.  We are using Dave Ramsey’s
curriculum.  When those classes end, we hope to start an actual investment club, so
they learn by doing.

Once a month we will have a brief photography class and then set out to take pictures.
The class leader will set up a website on which each participant can exhibit their
photography work.

We will also have a student newspaper.  One of the ladies is a graphic design artist
and will work as the editor.  Monthly, 1 to 2 teens will work with her on that month’s
issue, doing the actual lay-out and other things.  All the teens are expected to
submit something for the paper -- art-work, photography, a news item, their personal
insight on a current community or international issue, poetry, etc.

These are all pretty ambitious plans for our small group, but if each mom is
accountable for their activity, it will work out beautifully and our children will
have a great time as well as learn some very important skills.

We hope to have at least 4 field trips/social outlets.  My daughter is hoping one
of them will be the homeschool day at Universal Studios.  Another family wants a
camping trip.  Other hopes are for an end-of year senior dinner and party.  Nothing
has actually been planned in terms of social or field activities, so it will be up
to each family to plan something, set-up a poll to determine interest and do all
the planning." -- Judy


Blending Fun and Literature

"On weekends, I encouraged viewing classic books on DVD, then later studying parts
of the book to fill in details.  We would discuss it, and also read parts/chapters
aloud.  This was a great time-saver for very large books such as Les Miserables*,
Moby Dick and Charles Dickens classics, such as Bleak House, Martin Chuzzlewit, and
David Copperfield.  There simply was not enough time to assign these great books to
the already full schedule.

*Note: choose the older version of these movies, (1940s-1980s) as the newer ones are
generally unacceptable!  This is especially true in the case of Les Miserables --
avoid the newer one."

-- Lori in WI, who just graduated her last child after 22 years!


Recommended Resource for Transcript Creation and More

"I recently put together a wonderful high school transcript for my son, who will be a
senior this year.  I researched many different guides and books, and I finally decided
to use Transcripts Made Easy by Janice Campbell.

Janice gave a lot of great information for high school recordkeeping and diplomas and,
besides all of the transcript information, had a quick-start guide, and also included
my favorite part -- the step-by-baby-step guide to creating a professional-looking
transcript on software you already have on your computer!  The transcript I made turned
out beautifully, thanks to Janice's instructions.  There was also a very informative
section on assigning grades that I found helpful.  She offers free email support for
buyers if you need help during the process, but her book was so well done that I didn't
need it.  I was able to download the book as an e-book, or you can order a paper copy.
I highly recommend this resource!" -- Mindy


Do you have a website, tip, idea or experience to share for our next issue?

Send to: mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Thoughts from Cindy

Staying True to Your Calling

The more homeschool families I meet, the more I appreciate the many different reasons
and ways to teach our children at home!  I have always preferred a more relaxed, eclectic
approach, which was dependent on using the world as our classroom, and following my sons'
interests whenever possible.  This approach served us well throughout the elementary
years, but as they have gotten older, each of my boys have expressed his own opinions
on how they wanted to proceed through the upper grades.  For my oldest, that meant a
more traditional approach, and for my younger son, it meant keeping things laid back,
yet still making sure he was making progress in traditional subjects.

For those who have preferred a more relaxed approach, and truly let their kids learn at
their own pace, getting to the high school years can cause us to shift somewhat.  For
some teens, their own goals mean that they need more textbooks, classes, and just more
formal, traditional learning opportunities.  Others may not be wired that way, yet we moms
somehow know that we must get them ready for college, so we change our approach and
move to making our curriculum look just like we had when we were in high school.  I know
I have felt the pressure to make sure my sons meet all the criteria for getting into
college, qualifying for scholarships, etc.  For my oldest, Zack, my changing mindset was
no problem. In fact, it was a just what he needed.

After graduating our oldest in May, my focus is now on the last few years of homeschooling
for my younger son.  He is definitely different than his brother!  He is my creative,
musical, right-brain learner.  Unlike his brother, who was uncertain about what he wanted
to major in college, Noah has felt called to youth and/or music ministry since he was 13.
However, he struggles with some subjects, like math, and I found myself really pressuring
him to fit into the traditional "school" mode, so he can take advantage of Florida's Bright
Futures and other scholarships.  I was really stressing myself about all this!  You know,
trying to figure out how to make everything happen.  Somewhere along the line, I realized
that I had strayed from my original vision and had stopped walking in faith about my son's
education and future plans.

The reality is, if he doesn't score high enough for scholarships, it won't be the end of
the world.  He can work and help pay his own way.  Yes, it would be great if he DID qualify,
but since we're looking at private, Bible schools, the amount Florida's scholarship will
contribute will be a small part of his overall costs.  Regarding test scores, again, many
schools work with students, looking at their total portfolio rather than just what they
score on the SAT/ACT.  God has really helped me to step back and look at the big picture.
This doesn't mean that Noah can stop progressing through high school, but it does mean that
we can move forward without as much stress on my part!  You see, I've always felt that if
I wanted to do everything the public schools do, I might as well have my kids in school!
My husband and I believe that children need the opportunity to learn at their own pace; that
we don't have to focus on the world's way of educating, but rather follow God's leading for
our family.  Yet somehow, as my kids got older, I found myself falling away from what God
had called us to do.

So, just as I've stepped back, spent more time in prayer, and talked to a good friend who
is a bit further along the path, I want to encourage you to spend some time this summer to
pray, discuss, and consider whether the plans you've made for this fall still fit into God's
vision for your family.

Cindy Prechtel, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"Do our children really need a high school portfolio?  If so, what do I put in it?
What does one look like?" -- J. Z.

Our Readers' Responses

"Since Pennsylvania law requires portfolios, I specially prepared my son's 11th grade
portfolio so that he could use it for college interviews.  I had a transcript, SAT
scoresheet (you must check a certain box when you register so that SAT will mail you a
report), curriculum page for each subject with sample work from each subject following,
and items/pictures relating to extra curricular activities.  Really, you could put
anything that would suit your purposes into the portfolio.  I think having the portfolio
really serves as a prompt/help for the interviews, and it would help highlight your
student's uniqueness and the uniqueness of his education." -- Kathy M.


Editor's Note --

Carletta Sanders, in her article Homeschooling High School - Preparing Your Teen for
College and Beyond
, has this to say about high school portfolios:

"Some colleges recommend that homeschoolers present a portfolio when applying,
although it is far more likely that any colleges to which your child applies will only
require a transcript.  A portfolio may include examples of the student's work, high
school reading lists and information concerning extracurricular activities.  Think
of a portfolio as a scrapbook of your student's high school career."

Here is a PDF with good information about what can go into a portfolio:


And how about an e-Portfolio?  That would really stand out!  :-)

-- Heather

Answer our NEW Question

"I own a small business that requires me to be in the office from at least 8am to 1pm.
That means I have to homeschool my three boys (ages 10, 9 and 7) in the afternoon.  My
mom watches my kids while I’m at the office and I give them independent work to do while
they are there, but when it’s time to study in the afternoon they seem to be hard to get
focused.  Any suggestions from other working moms on how they juggle it all?" -- Angela


Do you have some wisdom or practical advice for Angela?  Please write!  :-)

Send your email 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!

Need Immediate Help?

Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center! This is a live 24/7
'chat' area where you can talk with our homeschool counselors
by typing in a box. When you get there, just introduce yourself
and let them know that Heather sent you!

This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening
ear and encouragement.


Subscription Information

Here is the page where you can subscribe to all of our newsletters!


And here is our searchable archive of recent newsletters:



There are opportunities for your business to be a sponsor of this
newsletter! Read more about our VERY AFFORDABLE advertising here:



All contributed articles are printed with the author's prior
consent. It is assumed that any questions, tips or replies to
questions may be reprinted. All letters become the property of
the "Homeschooler's Notebook". [Occasionally your contribution
may have to be edited for space.]

Again, I welcome you to the group! Feel free to send any
contributions to mailto:HN-articles@familyclassroom.net or

Our main website is:

We also sponsor an incredible site with over 1,500 pages of helps!


No part of this newsletter (except subscription information
below) may be copied and/or displayed in digital format online
(for instance, on a website or blog) without EXPRESS permission
from the editor. Individuals may, however, forward the newsletter
IN ITS ENTIRETY to *individual* friends (not email groups). For
reprints in paper publications (homeschool support group newsletters,
etc.) please direct your request to: mailto:Heather@FamilyClassroom.net

Next - Home from Philly, State Notebooking Unit, Working Part-Time
Previous - Art is Fun, Safer Books, Planning/Tracking/Organizing Systems

     Site content copyright individual contributors and FamilyClassroom.net 2001-2011 - Digital duplication expressly prohibited.
Privacy Policy | Advertise