Monday, February 26, 2018

Preparing for your CLEP Exams with Study.com

Brought to you by Study.com Traditional schools often have dual-enrollment courses that allow students to earn credit for college classes in high school. These courses take a lot of work and preparation for students and teachers. As homeschool families, we have an incredible alternative with College Level Examination Program. Find out how to prepare and pass CLEP exams by using study.com’s CLEP Product.


CLEP Overview


CLEP is a program which allows students to earn college credit by taking Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs) to test their level of understanding of a certain subject area. Passing these exams gives students college credit. CLEP saves families money and time since the exams cost much less than traditional college course work and replaces a semester course.

Benefits of study.com’s CLEP Product


Self-Paced

Using study.com to prepare for CLEP exams was the best choice our family could have made. One of the best things about the program is the way it differentiates for different types of learners. Test prep courses through study.com are self-paced, so depending on your student’s level of understanding, they can go as fast or as slow as needed. I love how the lessons are broken down by weeks, so we used it in our homeschool plans. For a few lessons, however, my child picked up the pace because he was motivated to finish and felt he already knew the material well. For others, he was able to slow it down and watch videos to clarify information.

Videos

We really enjoyed how the videos use simple animations and clear examples to help the material make sense. Since the concepts all align with the test material, my child watched the videos again and again to help prepare for the exam.



Text Transcripts

Watching videos to learn has always helped me, but my child appreciated the text transcript that comes with each video. After watching, he reviewed the transcript to take notes. This was incredibly helpful and doubly prepared him for his exam!

Quizzes

After each video, your child will take a quiz to make sure they understand and retain the video. We loved how immediate feedback was given so he knew what to review and work on before moving on to the next lessons.

Practice Tests

My child felt so prepared for the exam after taking practice tests with the CLEP product. After completing the practice exams, areas of strength and weakness are identified, so he knew what to focus on next.

Personalized Study

This was one of our favorite benefits of the CLEP product. A week-by-week personalized study plan is put together based on your child’s CLEP exam date. This helped my child prepare and be ready to pass with flying colors when the date arrived!


Study.com’s CLEP Product was the right choice for our homeschool family to help my child prepare for his College Level Entrance Program exams. The money and time it saved our family by using the product will help my child start off with a bright future in his college studies.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Monday, December 18, 2017

4 Ways to Save Money on Homeschooling



Homeschooling can be expensive if you let yourself get wrapped up in the latest curriculums, lots of tech tools, and outside of home programs. Fortunately, there are so many ways to save money for your homeschool without cutting the quality of your child’s education. Check out these 4 ways to save money on homeschooling. 

Free online materials. 

Just type free homeschooling curriculum into your search bar, and you’ll find pages of information. To sift through the good (and the not-so-good) stuff will take awhile, but if you find a few sites you trust, your sure to find content that won’t cost you a dime while still enriching your curriculum.

YouTube! 

YouTube has a plethora of tutorial channels like Khan Academy that will help your children with everything from parts of speech to advanced math. Utilizing these tools is a win win. You save and have experts in content areas to help teach and support!

Take a field trip. 

Every state has frugal and free field trips. Many organizations also have trips designed especially for homeschool families and groups. Call or look online for museums in your area which often have daytime courses for homeschool children. Think outside the box and try a trip to the grocery store to study family consumer science, math, and spruce up culinary skills. Grocery stores and restaurants are also excellent places to practice etiquette.

Share with your homeschooling community. 

Reach out to local homeschool families or homeschoolers across the globe online. Why write or coordinate everything by yourself when you can divide and conquer? Share curriculum resources you have created or that you have distribution rights to and allow your community to do the same. Working together to form groups for field trips, discussions, and planning is one of the most cost-effective and fulfilling things you can do for your homeschool family!

The cost of homeschooling doesn’t have to break your family. Choosing the homeschool can be the right and financially responsible choice for the ones you love. Try these 4 ways to save money on homeschooling as you plan your year.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Monday, December 11, 2017

Free Social Studies Activities for Middle Schoolers



Immerse your child in history, geography, and civics with free social studies activities for middle school. It can be overwhelming to get through all the resources online, so here are our favorites that you’ll want to integrate into your classroom curriculum. All these activities are engaging and will help your child learn beyond the text.

Discover artifacts throughout history.

The Smithsonian Learning Lab curates more than a million resources from the Smithsonian museums. As a teacher, you can create your own collections and activities, allow your child to discover on their own, or use some of the lessons already created and uploaded by teachers. It’s all absolutely free. Another incredible resource for primary sources are the online resources through the National Archives. Check out the firsthand documents of the Emancipation Proclamation and online exhibits throughout the timeline of American history.

Learn civics in action.

At iCivics, your child can play civic-oriented game by running for president, understanding the branches of government and separation of powers, and more! Watch them earn badges and learn about government. There are also free lesson plans, curriculum units, and support materials for teachers. Learning is so much fun, especially when it feels like a game!

Make your own map.

Have your child choose a place of significance to them and create a map, complete with all the cartography elements studied in your Social Studies mapping units. Include a title, key or legend, orientation, scale, and necessary citations. It may be a place where they were born, their current city or state, somewhere they have studied, a country they’d like to travel to, or where your ancestors come from. Use this activity to apply the study of maps to your child’s own life.




See also: Homeschooling a Middle Schooler

Write historical haikus.

Study historical figures and integrate language arts and writing by having your child write simple 5/7/5 syllables three-line poems. Try a few on your own to model. Studying the Civil War? Write some poems about Abe Lincoln.

“Honest Abraham Our Civil War President Should have skipped the play”
In all seriousness, writing haikus can help summarize the significance of people or events during the time period your student is studying.

Museums, books, and special programs can give your child fantastic insight into your Social Studies curriculum, however, there are so many free social studies activities for middle school you can integrate into your child’s studies. Check these out, and let your student explore and learn!

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Monday, December 4, 2017

Can I Really Homeschool My Child?



You’re thinking about homeschooling your children, but there’s that nagging fear in your brain. Do I have the qualifications, knowledge, and experience to teach? Can I really homeschool my child? Here are some things to consider when answering this question.

Openness to Learn New Things

No single teacher knows everything about anything. In fact, certified teachers will tell you that they are constantly learning, studying, and absorbing new information to share with their students. If you have a love of learning and are willing to seek out information alongside your child, you can homeschool your child.

Use Online Resources

Once your child gets past your current knowledge of the content area (and your capacity for obtaining the information without going back to school full time yourself), utilize (often free) online courses. No one is expecting you to master Calculus in order to teach your child, but Open Education resources like Khan Academy or MIT OpenCourseWare.

Teaching Methods

Certified teachers in a classroom full of students of varying levels must be well-versed in different learning styles and teaching methods. You just need to know what works for your kid. Do they learn better 1 on 1? Do they prefer lectures or hands-on learning? What are their strengths? Is your child an auditory learner that learns better when they hear things or a visual learner that needs to see the information presented? You know your child best. Tailor your teaching to find what fits them.

Positive Attitude

Not every day is going to be sunshine and rainbows but being able to see that good in your child and their learning experiences is pivotal in succeeding as a homeschool teacher. You’re both going to get frustrated at times, but this experience can be one that can bring you closer together. Think of your opportunities to learn together and tailor your curriculum to suit your child’s needs. Ask others to help you. There are other homeschool teachers who have been there, through the ups and downs.

If you’re struggling to decide whether or not you can homeschool your child, consider these factors. You are your child’s best resource, advocate, and cheerleader. You can do this if you’re willing to learn, be positive, and enlist the help of others both online and in person.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Monday, November 27, 2017

5 Things to Do Before You Start Homeschooling



Homeschooling is a personal decision for each family. Before you make the commitment to teach your children at home, make sure you are prepared with these 5 things to do before you start homeschooling.

Decide if homeschooling fits in the budget

Cost may not be the only factor in homeschooling your child, but it’s definitely part of the consideration. Typically, homeschooling families have a parent that stays at home or does not work daytime hours outside the home in order to teach their children. Many homeschool families do have home-based businesses that allow more flexibility in hours to teach children from home.

Homeschooling curriculums are available for little to no cost through the internet and other programs. However, you will want to consider equipment (such as a computer, desk, or other learning manipulatives or tools) to allow for your child to have the resources needed to homeschool.

Set a schedule

One of the joys of homeschooling is the flexibility to set your own hours for your child’s education. You will need to plan your own time to lesson plan or find resources. Your child can also be an integral part of planning not just to utilize time but to help them feel invested in their learning. Ask your child what they want to learn. Align your curriculum with their own learning goals, set up a schedule of classes (including exploratory options such as music or physical education) to help homeschool meet your child’s needs.

Figure our your own teaching approach

What kind of teacher are you? Do you see yourself as a lecturer, giving your child notes and presentations they sit and get? Maybe you take more of a hybrid approach of lecture then application of skills. Perhaps, you’re more of a guide or a coach, helping your student as they navigate the lessons independently.

No matter what your teaching strategies are, you need to look at how your child learns best. If your homeschooler is a visual learner, it may be best to utilize videos with your instruction. For auditory learners, they may benefit from lectures or audio recordings of texts. Kinesthetic learners will appreciate hands-on manipulatives or projects to help them demonstrate and explore their learning. 

See also: Year by Year Teaching Guide for Homeschoolers

Find your tribe

Homeschooling doesn’t have to be a solitary mission. Find homeschooling groups in your area and talk with others online who have been there. The support system in homeschools is strong. Find people who will be there with you through the ups and downs. Many groups have meet-ups which is an excellent way to help your child participate in socialization and collaboration opportunities.

Research your state laws

Know what you need to do in order for your homeschool to meet the requirements for high school graduation and attendance for students. Some states require certain subjects and testing while others are more lenient. You can review the homeschool laws in your state here.

The decision to homeschool might be the best one your family will ever make. However, these 5 things to before you start homeschooling will help your homeschooling family start strong.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions About Homeschooling



When you’re making the decision whether or not to homeschool your children, you may have lots of questions weighing on your mind. Let me ease your anxiety by answering some of these frequently asked questions about homeschooling.  

Will my child be able to socialize with other children their age? 

Homeschooling offers so much flexibility, so the amount of socialization your child receives is entirely up to you. Check out community homeschooling groups. These will also help you find advocates and amazing families to share resources with. In addition, you may find classes and events at museums, zoos, libraries, and even businesses around the area. This will give you a chance to have your children interact with other homeschooled children.  

Will my child still take standardized tests? 

Currently, testing protocol for homeschool students is up to the state board of education. Some states require homeschool students to take the traditional standardized tests either at home or in a structured school setting. Other states allow different materials to be submitted as proof that objectives and standards are met.

Can I afford to homeschool? 

Depending on your budget, you can spend a lot or a little on curriculum materials for your homeschool. The largest expense is usually having a parent stay home or work a different job in order to teach their child at home. Even parents that work from home may need to adapt their working hours. Of course, homeschooling allows flexibility in time for both parents and students. The school day does not have to run from 8am to 3pm. You can do what’s best for your child’s needs and your family’s budget.  

Can my homeschool student go to college? 

Homeschool students are subject to the same college entrance requirements as traditionally educated students. Just make sure to check the requirements for the college they wish to attend as far as courses required and college entrance exam types (usually ACT and/or SAT) and scores.

Am I qualified to teach homeschool? 

You know your child better than anyone else. Enlist the help of homeschool parents in your community, look online for content and free courses, and seek out additional knowledge to help your child. You can learn together, and you may find that your child is motivated to find out information beyond the curriculum on their own.  

 

What if my child hates homeschooling? 

Consider your motivation in homeschooling your child. Is it for religious reasons? Are you concerned about bullying or school violence? Do you feel like you can best meet your child’s needs at home? Homeschooling may be a temporary or a permanent choice for your family depending on the situation. If your child has always attended a traditional school, expect them to have some difficulty transitioning. Knowing that it is ultimately your decision, include your child in the process. Let them voice their concerns, and share why you are making this decision. Include them in curriculum design process, and let them know you love them. They may learn to love homeschool; give it time.

Whether or not you’ve officially decided to homeschool, review these frequently asked questions about homeschooling to help in your process.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Learning Disabilities


What do Leonardo da Vinci, Woodrow Wilson, General George Patton, Winston Churchill, Nelson Rockefeller and Albert Einstein share? They are all famous, successful and were considered learning disabled.

15-20% of the U.S. population have some form of learning disability, according to estimates derived from the latest research conducted by the National Institutes of Health on reading disabilities. Learning Disabilities has been defined in many different ways by many different organizations. Public Law 94-142 defines it as “A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, or mental retardation, or emotional disturbance or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.” Learning disabilities are often characterized by a significant difference in the individual's achievement in some areas, as compared to his or her overall intelligence. No one knows what causes learning disabilities as of now. There are many possibilities, and a few leading theories, one of which is that learning disabilities stem from subtle disturbances in the brain structured and functions. With early intervention, support and the appropriate teaching techniques and strategies, learning disabilities can often be minimized or overcome and individuals can lead productive successful lives.

There are two ways of diagnosing learning disabilities, informally flagged and actual diagnoses. Informally flagged is used by observing significant delays in the child’s skill development. A 2-year delay in the primary grades is usually considered significant. Actual diagnosis of learning disabilities is made using standardized test that compare the child’s level of ability to what is considered normal development for a person of that child’s age and intelligence. Test results depend on the not only the child’s abilities, but on the reliability of the test and the child’s ability to understand the questions, and pay attention.

Typical characteristics of individuals who have learning disabilities may include but are not limited to: Spoken Language: -Children may have delays, disorders, and deviations in listening and speaking.
-They may be slow to develop the ability to speak, understand stories, or follow directions.
-They may say words in the wrong order. For example: “Please up hurry.”
- They may start or stop talking in mid sentence, be unable to vocalize a word until someone says it and pronounce certain words in odd ways. For example: “aminals,” “emenies,” and “hopsitals.”

Written Language: 
-Children may have difficulty with reading, writing and spelling.
-They may persistently read “on” for “no” “14” for “41” “p” for “d”, or “q” for “b”.
-They may have difficulty associating the letter “c,” for example with it’s sound; or be unable to distinguish between words like “chop” and “shop”.
-They may have poor eye-hand coordination and be rather messy writers.

Math Problems: 
-Children may have difficulty in performing mathematic functions or in comprehending basic concepts.
-They may be able to add and subtract but not multiply and divide, or they can calculate in their heads but not on paper.

Orientation in time and space:
-Children often seen lost in time and space
-They may not know what time, day, year, or season it is.
-They sometimes have particular difficulty understanding the meaning of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
-They sometimes cannot remember what they were told an hour or two ago.
-They may have special trouble understanding concepts like up/down, left/right etc.

Perception of movement:
-Children may have problems with physical activities.
-they may be awkward and clumsy, frequently off balance and have trouble learning to tie their shoes.
-They may break things and be accident prone.
-They may be hyperactive and fidgety or underactive and appear tired most of the time.
-They may be unable to sit still or concentrate, although sometimes this occurs at school but not when playing a favorite game at home.

Abstract reasoning:
-Children may have difficulty in organizing and integrating thoughts.
-They may not be able to remember where their belongings are located.
-Their rooms and homework may be messy and disorganized.
-They may have a hard time following directions or making decisions.
-They may have difficulty planning an activity or carrying out a plan.

Social Actions:
-Children may be socially impulsive.
-Sometimes they can be free-spirited and bring freshness and enthusiasm to life. At other times, they want what they want when they want it.
-They can become upset instantly and over what seems to be “nothing.”
-They may lack self-confidence and self-esteem and refuse to try certain activities, saying “I Can’t,” “I don’t want to,” or “I’m not good at that.”
-They may have difficulty making friends.
-They may be socially immature, risk punishment to gain attention and constantly interrupt.

Professionals are currently debating whether special education there is a need for some groups of children who show LD characteristics. These groups include students who are at the low-average end of the intelligence scale, are highly intelligent, or come from linguistic, cultural, social, or economic backgrounds that differ significantly from their peers.

There are three types of learning disabilities, developmental speech and language disorders, academic disorders, and other (which includes certain coordination and learning handicaps not covered by the other two terms.
Speech and language problems are often the earliest signs of LD. Specific diagnosis may be: Developmental articulation disorder, Developmental expressive language disorder, or Developmental receptive language disorder. Children with Articulation Disorder may have trouble controlling their rate of speech, or may lag behind playmates in learning speech sounds. Articulation Disorders are usually outgrown or successfully treated with speech therapy. Children who have problems expressing themselves in speech are usually diagnosed with developmental expressive language disorder. There are a wide variety of abilities fall into this category. Like a four-year-old who cannot connect two words together like “my toy” to an eight-year-old who cannot answer the question “Where are you?” People who have receptive language disorder have trouble understanding certain aspects of speech, they hear fine but can’t make sense of certain sounds, words or sentences they hear. Examples include a pre-schooler who hands you a bell when you asked for a ball or a worker who consistently can’t follow simple directions.

Academic Skills Disorders include reading, writing, and arithmetic disorders. Students with academic skills disorders are often years behind their peers in the area in which they have difficulty. Reading disorders also known as dyslexia affects 2 to 8 percent of elementary school children. 

For children to read they must simultaneously:
Focus attention on the printed marks and control eye movements across the page
Recognize the sounds associated with letters
Understand words and grammar
Build ideas and images
Compare new ideas to what you already know
Store ideas in memory

Writing also involves several brain areas and functions. It utilizes brain networks for vocabulary, grammar, hand movement, and memory. A writing disorder may result from a problem in any one of these areas. For example, a child who has an expressive language disorder may not be able to compose complete grammatical sentences. Like reading and writing, arithmetic is a very complex brain function which involves recognizing numbers and symbols, memorizing facts, aligning numbers and understanding abstract concepts like place value and fractions. Arithmetic disorders are also known as dyscalculia.
Many of these areas are interlinked and overlap in diagnosis. There are also other categories, such as "motor skills disorders" and specific developmental disorders that are not included in the first two categories. These diagnoses include delays in acquiring language, academic, and motor skills that can affect the ability to learn but do not meet the criteria for a specific learning disability. Also included are coordination disorders that can lead to poor penmanship, as well as specific spelling and memory disorders.

Three of the most known LD are ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia. A child who has signs of inattention may be diagnosed as ADD. 

Some of the signs include:
-Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
-Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play.
-Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly. -Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish tasks (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand.)
-Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
-Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork.
-Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities.
-Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
-Is often forgetful in daily activities.

A child is considered to have ADD when six or more of the above signs have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with the developmental level for the child’s age.

Some of the signs of hyperactivity include:
-Often fidgets with hands and feet or squirms in seat.
-Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected.
-Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which remaining seated is expected.
-Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
-Is often "on the go" or acts as if "driven by a motor".
-Often talks excessively.
Some of the signs of impulsivity include:
-Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
-Often has difficulty awaiting turn.
-Often interrupts or intrudes on others.

There are also other criteria to be considered in defining ADD and ADHD. They are 1. Some of the above symptoms were present before age 7. 2. Impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings, (e.g. in school as well as at home.) 3. Clear evidence exists of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning. Lastly, 4. The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, such as Schizophrenia, and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder such as a mood disorder or anxiety disorder.

Dyslexia is a language-based disorder, sometimes it is inherited, and is shown by a difficulty in single word reading. It affects many children and has been extensively studied. It is also a major source of reading failure. Although a child is unlikely to outgrow dyslexia, it can usually be successfully remediated and is identifiable early in the child’s school career. Dyslexia and ADD are not the same but may both occur in the same child. Dyslexia is a significant discrepancy that exists between intellectual ability and reading performance without and apparent physical, emotional or cultural cause. 

Studies have found common history in children with dyslexia, some of the findings are:
-Family history with reading problems.
-Predominance in males (8:1)
-An average or above average IQ and proficiency in math.
-No enjoyment of reading as a leisure activity.
-Problem of letter and word reversal.
-Developmental history of problems in coordination and left/right dominance.
-Poor visual memory for language symbols.
-Auditory language difficulties in word finding, fluency, meaning, and sequence.
-Difficulty transferring information from what is heard to what is seen and vice versa.

It has been said that at least 40% of the population has some kind of reading disorder that disrupts their ability to read. With these statistics in hand, our researchers and educators should all be aware and strive to find better ways to develop each child’s ability to learn and read.

With IDEA enacted, free public education is mandated for children with LD from birth through 21 years. Services may be in private, or public schools through a variety of programs. The most severe LD students are often served in self-contained classrooms or residential settings, while students with mild or moderate LD are usually mainstreamed in regular classrooms with a variety of additional services. Additional services may include time in a resource room, an LD teacher joining with the teacher working together, or consultation with an LD teacher who provides support, resources and ideas to the classroom teacher.
Teachers must choose approaches and materials to suit the needs of the individual child, age, severity level are two very important factors to consider. The teacher must not only set a goal of concepts to be learned but also provide an effective environment, have specific techniques and strategies that will maximize each students ability to learn in a mainstream setting. It is very unlikely that the same tools can be effective for any two student, which is a great problem for LD teachers. An IEP is a written agreement between the parents and the school about what will be done to address the special needs of the child.

In my search for information on this topic, I found many quality resources and stories to help me understand more about LD on the Internet. One of the stories I read was about a boy who had LD and it described how he was tested, and how he learned. If he tried something himself, if something was demonstrated to him or if he could read step-by-step directions, he learned, but if someone told him how to do something he didn’t learn well. His counselor and teachers worked together to make his school experience more effective by having him do as much “hands-on” learning as possible, and by having him always do something in school, he was instructed to draw pictures during lectures of what he thought the teacher was talking about. The student was, then, very successful in school.

Children with LD are all unique, as is any individual. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, and some learn better with some tool, and some with others. I guess the whole lesson here is individuality, each child learns better with certain tools, and our goal as educators is to realize and utilize these tools to the best of our ability to maximize each child’s abilities.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger: