Friday, September 27, 2013

Things I wish I would have known

When I started to homeschool,  I had no idea. Really,  I had no idea.  There are so many things I wish I would have known.

Here is a list of mine and a few others I captured from the previous WHEN forums before it was deleted:

I wish I would have known how fast time flies. At 18 years old, the government believes a child should be capable of living on their own and provide for themselves.  That means I ONLY had 18 years to teach them all they needed to know to survive in that big, bad, mean  ole' world. For many that step into the world of survival can be a slap in the face or even a huge punch in the nose.  I hoped to soften that blow of  realization by helping them obtain the skills and the confidence to take any obstacles one step at a time.  The hard part is realizing that very little of that time, could I wrap my arms around them and cuddle them.  Time just goes so fast.  My youngest is already off to high school classes.

I wish I would have known that every child's education will have holes in it and the skills and confidence I give my kids matter most.  And the more involvement I could have, the smaller the holes will be.  Thanks goes to a wonderful friend, Cynthia Walker who clued me in on this.

I wish I would have known it doesn't take a brain scientist to home school just a motivated individual who loves learning. And when you love learning, they love learning.

Here are some things others shared:

Michelle Curtiss: I wish I had known that stress and a very specific plan is optional. (The plan will change anyway as your kids begin to discover their own interests) As long as you minimize electronics and make resources available, they learn. Also, thrift stores are a great way to get lots of good book cheap.

My husband and I were saying just yesterday how cool it is to have to constantly be saying "I don't want to ask you again, put your math away and come to dinner!" "You need to stop reading and get ready to go!" "I really love hearing about what you are learning, but I've been in here for over an hour and you really have to go to sleep."

My kids have learned past me in so many ways and I am just grateful to be able to give them the life I didn't have. We don't have to get up early and stay up late just to get to school on time and have a little time together as a family. We can drop everything on a moments notice to help others as needs arise. We enjoy the fresh air when it is available and the cozy indoors when it is cold.

We are living a joyful life! I can't believe I was ever afraid to start homeschooling.

Karen Zea: I wish I had known:
1. That textbooks are optional and mostly a hindrance to learning.  It is much more fun to discover on your own, and do your own research.

2. That requiring too much can paralyze learning.  We had to regroup and put learning on hold for quite a while until the joy came back.  Boys seem to reach this point much faster than my girls.  I don't even start to introduce some elementary skills until age 10 or 11 now.  It just isn't worth it, and the learning happens much faster if we wait.

3. That our kids will not make the decisions we think they will if we give them the chance.  My kids were not interested in what I thought they would be!  But what they are interested in is fabulous!  I wanted to push subjects that I thought everyone needed...and they do to a point, but not necessarily as far as I studied when I was in school.  I'm sad when they don't want to study what I loved, but I am glad that they are becoming their own persons.

4. That homeschooling is finally giving ME an EDUCATION.  I can't believe how much I didn't get when I was in "school"!  And I was no slouch!  I was in "honors" and "advanced" classes and programs from day one. (part way through K they asked me if I wanted to stay all day and read with the big kids and I said YES! and never looked back.)  Now I have taken the love of learning to unimagined heights!!

I hoped...but I wasn't sure.  Now I know for sure - IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THEY LEARN!!  My daughter went to one of the best Jr Colleges in the nation without some of the "academics" that I thought she HAD to have.  She is successful and happy.  What else could be important?

I echo the sentiments of the others who have answered.  What a joy and a blessing to have to scold kids that are hiding to read and study!!   I have watched my teen aged son completely change his friday night plans to stay home and play games with his siblings, just because his sister was visiting from college unexpectedly.  My heart soars when I see my little ones insist that their big brothers or sisters do something for them, and the tenderness with which the older ones love and serve them.  I had no idea we could be so blessed!!

Laura Lund: The ones that come to mind for me as we finish up our eighth year are:
1. Every homeschooling family is unique. Ours does much better with a detailed plan. We put everything we want or need to accomplish into the plan and schedule in time for free exploration. When we tried a more relaxed approach (unschooling and then TJEd), we were all stressed out!

2. Less is sometimes more, but sometimes more is more. Re-evaluating periodically helps keep us happy and balanced.

3. The program or resources that work for my oldest will generally not work for the next in line (and vice versa). I have grown so much as a teacher because of the various strengths and weaknesses of my children.

4. There are wonderful days when I love everything about homeschooling and there are horrible days when I wish the yellow bus would take them all away for a few hours. Realizing that no one has a perfect family and perfect homeschool helps me keep on keepin' on when things are rough.

5. There are few things sweeter than watching an older sibling help a younger one learn a new skill.

6. I love seeing my children grow in their understanding. I love having discussions with them about what they are learning. I love experiencing the light bulb moments with them.

7. Homeschooling is hard at times, but the perks are great.

I love Laura's last one!  She is so right!  People look at my family and wonder why and how we are so close.  And you know, honestly, not only   was I able to give my kids a step ahead, we are close to boot!  Thank you home schooling.

What do you wish you would have known?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Diploma and Utah's new math requirements

This information only pertains to those who plan on or may use the Utah Public system for graduation and to obtain a Utah high school diploma. Due to the requirements, this means that the decision to receive a diploma must be made much earlier than has been in the past.  Previously many parents could make that decision in 11th grade.  But now it is suggested before you start your 9th grade year.  And pretty much, it is a done deal decision.  I personally make that decision come 7th grade because we prepare our children to take advantage of the available associates degree through high school.
To graduate the math requirement is no longer a number of credits but rather include State Standards Math 1, 2, and 3. 9th grade requires State Standards math 1 (SSM1). 10th grade requires SSM2. 11th grade SSM3 or other options listed below. 
In a nutshell:
If your student’s graduating class is 2015, they can complete the Algebra 1,
Geometry, Algebra 2 (or instead of Algebra 2, an approved applied or advanced course off the list on the chart).
If your student would graduate in 2016 or later, they need to complete Secondary 1, Secondary 2, Secondary 3
(or instead of Secondary 3 an approved applied or advanced course off the list on the chart)
Here are the math standards to make sure students that are interested can pass the competency exams when it should come available February 2014. Just a note, passing off tests currently have a consequence of disqualifying a student from the Regents scholarship.
Methodology is not mandated but the standards are.
I asked whether the traditional Saxon Math series of Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry could fulfill the requirements.
Diana Suddreth of the Utah State Office of Education states, While the state does not mandate curriculum, it does set standards, and it is the responsibility of the schools to choose curricula to support teachers as they instruct in the standards. The Saxon Math series you describe does an incomplete job of addressing the standards and does so out of order. Teachers can reorganize the material and supplement the material, but they must be teaching the standards for Secondary Math I, II, and III as those are the graduation requirements. The Secondary Math sequence is not a check off. The courses must be taken and the standards must be addressed.
Thanks to Martha Rassmussen, she found this update. SSM1 and SSM2 must be on the transcript but SSM3 can have other classes replace it. See this link to the pdf:
According to Mrs. Suddreth, USOE, states:
“The AAF courses listed on this pdf are the courses students may take to fulfill the third mathematics requirement (after Secondary I and II are complete) upon parent request. They do not replace Secondary I and II which are firm in the graduation requirements. Please note that many of the courses have pre-requisites, sometimes including Secondary III.
If you consider the pathways in rows, you can see that the AAF courses line up with (and replace) either Secondary III or Precalculus. There are no courses that replace Secondary I and II.
The pathway describes the trajectory for most students; however, students who are advanced and move through the courses more quickly may meet the graduation requirement by taking Calculus, which fulfills the secondary mathematics graduation requirement regardless of how many credits are earned.”
Here is the link to all the state standards.  The pdf is only 1900 pages.  Leave it to bureaucracy.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Decision- Diploma or not diploma

Stephanie of Salt Lake asks: "I'm sorry to bother you, I saw your post in homeschooling and was hoping I could ask you a question. I've done homeschooling on and off over the years and thought my only option was doing one of the online schools through Utah which is what I've done. My oldest however is really resisting. He currently does BYU IS. He's really smart but hates that he has to do the subjects that he already feels he knows. His philosophy is that he just take college courses that interest him and test out of subjects he already knows. Is this even possible? Here is my question. Do homeschoolers have to get a High School Diploma to get admitted in to college or is there another way if he already has college credits? I need to figure something else out because he's  becoming depressed, angry, and frustrated over this lack of control with what he's learning/not learning. Any advise/help would be greatly appreciated."

Stephanie,  It is never a bother to try and help someone. I will do my best from what I understand so far.  I understand your son's point of view.  Sometimes I feel the exact same way.  There is a lot of fluff and not enough meat to get where you really want to go.  And worse yet so many obstacles to really get where it matters most even when money isn't part of the equation.  I really hate redundancy.

Your question is two fold: Do you need a diploma to go to college?  And second can you test out of certain classes and do only what you are interested in for a diploma?  

First, Yes, absolutely, you can go to college without a diploma. It is definitely possible.  Many kids do and do a great job of it!  Some reasons most people choose to finish the diploma is because of the availability of scholarships to get started, avoiding the front lines should there be a draft for war or desire to enlist,  the opportunity to celebrate their work, the ability to get certain jobs, the lack of funding and the ease of getting federal grants and student loans the first year.  For others it is the social activities, sports, the lack of understanding they can have more control in developing their path for the future and well, some just don't care. They would rather go with the flow, it is just easier that way.  Although, at times I understand the last list, I won't discuss them.

Scholarships: The availability of scholarships is broader with a diploma but it doesn't mean there isn't any scholarships for those without diplomas. The first questions are: Where would you like to go to school? and What would you like to do to earn a living and support yourself when you are on your own?  With that information begin your research and make a game plan. Contact the admissions office directly and speak as high up as possible since usually it is just students who answer the phones.  Go to the people who make the decisions. Those who are proactive have less to worry about and do fine with or without the diploma.

BYU has scholarships for those who do not get a diploma and have less than 15 credits.  They weigh heavily upon the ACT score, essays and experience.  (For example, If you are going into Arts..... the number of leads and types of performances.  Main stage weighs heavier than a small community theater.  If technology.... what classes have you taken and what languages are you proficient in?  And don't forget to have taken two foreign language courses in sequence.)  I can't speak strongly enough about the need for a GREAT ACT score.  That is 32+.  If I remember right, only 34+ got 1/2 tuition academic scholarships.  Nice thing about BYU is that if you prove yourself the first year, with a certain GPA 3.9 or so you can get scholarships to pay for the tuition.  Keep it going and you could get most of your tuition covered at least. Nice but remember things change yearly.  That is why it is so important to know what you want to do.  (

Now BYU Idaho I believe still requires the GED or compass test.  Although BYU Provo does not.  Thus the importance of knowing what school you would like to attend and the requirements needed.

Remember where you go to school is nice, but what the school offers so you can advance in your career and ability to provide for your family is the key- a vital key.  BYU's master's department is not where you go to medical school.  Kinda a stupid example, but I hope it is obvious that you should choose a school by what it provides and how much you can afford.  If BYU doesn't provide excellent education in technology but UVU and University of Utah do.  Choose from what you can afford and go there.  University of Utah's robotics program is the best.   University of Utah collaborates with Apple.  BYU at this time does not.  University of Utah has great technology camps for kids who are interested in technology to prepare them.  BYU does not. BYU does have a great theater department and fantastic MBA program.

Military: The diploma effects military status upon entry.  Your rank will be determined highly by the accomplishments and educational status which in turn effects your pay rate.  Those without diplomas are all treated the same regardless if you are a dropout or a homeschooler.  The lower the rank the closer to the front lines in war and the dirty work.  It is just a fact. The great difference between a dropout and a home schooler is that the homeschooler has the skills and determination to get themselves up the ranks quickly.  Also, the military now recognizes a home produced transcript showing completion/graduation. So if you have completed any program make sure they know about it. 

Celebrations: Some kids have the need to celebrate.  They want to be recognized for their hard work. And to be honest some parents also feel the need to have their kids walk through a ceremony to feel some sense of closure and success. Thus the need to participate in a graduation ceremony. For us, this can be costly, a lot of pomp and not really necessary but can be a moment of fun and celebration.  And just that- a moment.

Jobs: It was said in the past that most jobs required a high school diploma.  There a few places where on the application they ask specifically if you received a high school diploma, GED or dropout.  I think the last one I heard about was the police academy. Most employers look over those who do not have the diplomas unless they are seasonal or temporary jobs.  They usually work top down with the more experience and college experience at the top. Department of Labor found that high school diploma holders earned a average of $554 a week compared with $396 a week for those who did not have a diploma. But things are changing depending upon what field you talk about.  The technology field is growing so rapidly that is it more about the portfolio/experience verses the piece of paper that states you are qualified.  And some colleges are leaning that direction also. Example, Apple was doing some hiring for their support department and there were many with plenty of Microsoft and computer experience but could not hack the final testing because they knew absolutely nothing Apple and couldn't learn it fast enough to be able to provide Apple Support.  Thus no job. But people who knew the stuff with no degrees are doing quite well.  

Finances: The first year going to school can cost quite a bit even if you live at home, especially if you have not saved or don't have money gifted to you.  I often tell my kids you can pay for college by working your behind off earning good grades, working your behind off while having to go to school and work at the same time or hanging a noose over your head by taking out lots of debt. The much easier route is getting good grades.  Choose which route you want to go.  The first year of college can be a shock for some. Costs do add up.  In the past, some of the federal applications for money require a diploma to get funding.  After the second year of living on their own it is much easier to apply for grants or certain scholarships after filling out the FAFSA.  But the first year can be the pits for some college students.  Some consider it a slap in the face. The diploma can save you some headaches or lessen the blow, when it comes to getting funding that year.

Second, you ask can he test out of certain classes required for the high school diploma?  I understand somewhere in Salt Lake County they do have a test out program.  $85 dollars per credit or something like that.  I will do some homework and find out where.   But currently there is no way to test out of the current common core math SSM1-3.  The first test, SSM1 will be available come February 2014, the USOE hopes. It was supposed to be ready the beginning of this year.  Nevertheless,  testing out has some consequences such as removing your eligibility for the state's regents scholarship.  

So the joy of homeschooling is creating something that meets the students needs and goals.  After reviewing this additional information, a good question may be - What Does YOUR student need? What would they like to do?  Where would they like to go to school? There are more than just courses or course content that affect a student's decisions.  The parameters are much wider than just completing a check off list of coursework. This is an exciting time to homeschool and show your child that you are their champion and want them to succeed.  

I hope this helps.  If you need further guidance,  I will do my best to help.