Home Schooling Three to Five Year Olds and Legal Requirements

Parents who decide to home school their pre-school children have researched the value of teaching your own children at home. Beginning home school at the pre-school age is an excellent way to get the parent and the child used to the idea of learning at home. This is also a great way to ease into learning how to teach and organize the home school schedule. The child is not used to attending a school; therefore there is no adjustment period. Also, pre-school children are incredibly easy to teach because it is mostly in playing that they learn.

When creating a tailored preschool curriculum, parents provide a safe environment with interactive toys. Believe it or not, the parent is the child’s first teacher. Children at this age imitate everything their parents do by observation, playing, helping, talking, and listening. Reading to children at this age is one of the best ways to develop avid readers. At this age, a standardized curriculum isn’t necessary. Children learn from coloring, cutting, pasting, counting, singing, rhymes, games, playing with clay, playing in the playground, and learning to get along with others. It is important to include some of these activities daily in an unstressed, relaxed manner. Children at this age need your love and attention more than they need academics and structure.

The key to learning at this age is to provide a lot of hands on projects, particularly with arts and crafts. Many children in this age group have play dates where they meet with other children and go to parks, farms, even shopping trips. Pre-schoolers love to be included in everything you do, whether it be emptying the dishwasher, or sorting mail, and especially baking. Even though it may seem that their short attention span doesn’t allow for intense learning, they are learning real life experiences.

Legal Requirements:

Parents who home school do not have to have an advanced degree. There are a few qualifications of successful home school parents: love for their children, understanding of their children, desire to keep learning and growing, desire to spend time with their children. Although it may seem awkward at first, especially if your child has been in a public or private school, teaching will eventually become second hand. Parents need to learn flexibility and also organization at the same time. Open communication and a strong bond between parent and child is key to successful home schooling.

Home schooling is legal in every state in the United States. Each state has its own guidelines for home schooling. There are also plenty of support groups for parents who home school. Some private schools offer home school support and/or curriculum. After school group activities, such as sports, or science are also offered by several different programs. Friends and family can also help with home education. Sometimes there are co-op home school groups, where one person teaches math and another parent teaches history.

There are also support groups for parents of home schoolers who feel burned out or frustrated. There is guidance on teaching and teaching classes parents can take. Continued education helps a parent feel confident in their teaching skills. But keep in mind that every parent in a teacher at some point, it is unavoidable when you are a parent.

Parents document the progress of their home schooled children with testing, some are annual, and some are alternative assessments. Keeping records of your child’s daily activities and learning is essential to monitoring the child’s progress. When parents find it difficult to teach a certain subject, they turn to private tutors, online classes, CD tutorials or community college classes to supplement their studies.

The History Of Home Schooling

Home schooling is also known as home education, and is a method of teaching children in the family home, rather than at an institution, such as a public school. Originally, all schooling was done in the family home, or informally within small communities. Very few children ever went to school, or had private tutelage. Children who did have this type of education were considered to be privileged, and were mainly from wealthy families.

Informal education, mainly conducted in the home, was the only way for children to gain an education. In the US, there were books dedicated to home education, such as “Helps To Education in the Homes of Our Country” authored by Warren Burton. Parents were the main teachers of their children, although, where possible, local teachers would assist parents, and take classes. It is said that before schooling was institutionalized, the US was at its height of literacy skills.

The 19th century saw many significant changes to the way education, and schooling was conducted with the introduction of compulsory school attendance laws. It is now considered a human right that children are given an education provided by the government.

Over the years, there has been much controversy over the effectiveness of institutionalized schooling, and some people have even gone as far as saying that the compulsory schooling system is damaging to younger children, especially boys who are slower to mature.

In the early 1970s, Ray and Dorothy Moore, who later become well known home schooling advocates, researched the bearing that early childhood education had on the mental, and, physical development of children between the ages of 8 to 12 years of age. Through these studies, the Moores produced evidence that formal schooling was damaging to children, and a cause for some behavioral problems commonly found in school aged children.

According to these tests, illiterate tribal mothers in Africa had children that were more socially, and emotionally advanced than children in the western world. The Moores believed that this was largely due to the bond between parents, and their children being broken when children were institutionalized in schooling systems.

In some English speaking countries, it is still an option for parents to home school their children rather than to send them to an institutionalized school. There are a wide variety of home schooling methods available to families who choose to home school their children, rather than send them to schools, including methods such as classical education, Waldorf education, and the Montessori method.

Home schooling can also refer to schooling done in a home environment, with supervision by teachers through correspondence schools. While children are schooled at home, they must still complete compulsory educational subjects, and take tests.

One of the main reasons that parents choose to home school their children is that they feel the schools are unable to offer their children the same quality of education, or social environment that can be taught at home.

Advantages of Education Games Used in a Home School Environment

The operations manual for the most important piece of equipment imaginable – the brain. There are resources and materials which can assist a child to access and apply their brains’ immense powers. Parents can learn with their children.how to assemble and paint their own planetarium model, highlight it to create the glow effect and charge it with any light source. Can you navigate a ball through a mind-bending obstacle course as quickly as you can? LET A CHILD SHOW YOU HOW!

*Teachers and Parents can easily access the Sentence Building and Farmyard Dominoes that teach spelling and counting. Cubes printed with numbers are an interactive and visual way to get to grips with mathematics. This hands-on manipulative kit can be used to teach a range of maths concepts to all ages. The Pizza Fraction Action Snap is a fantastic learning tool where teachers and parents can guide youngsters to experience learning with little formal teaching. These resources are invaluable as they are designed to encourage natural interaction, which gives the child a feeling of great satisfaction.

*Learning Physics with children can be quite exciting: The Sphere is an expanding and contracting ball. It cleverly combines mathematics and geometry to create a surprising motion that fascinates children and adults alike. Can you imagine how a toy such as this could lead to an interest in physics at University level?

*The British Isles jigsaw will test the memory of parents and teachers and enhance the visual and physical skills of young learners. Geography has never been easier. This jigsaw is multifaceted. Youngsters in a short time learn to connect shapes which are linked to counties, towns, rivers and other physical aspects of the United Kingdom. This style of learning lays down strong cognitive schemas which enlarges children’s memory processes.

All the resources are easily accessible, very inexpensive and dispatched to reach the recipient within 24 hours. All the material is accessible for all children at all levels of learning from toddlers pre-school, through kindergarten, 3, 5 and 6 year olds, up to high school. Even parents will enjoy the vast array of educational toys and games that are available for their children.

The equipment encompasses primary learning, active, outdoor and intelligent learning. Many teachers such as those involved with International Baccalaureate schools, independent primary schools and nurseries find these games to be invaluable. So whether children are being educated at home or school is immaterial, the resources are excellent.

Home Tuition – How Can It Be Advantageous for Your Child?

Schools are meant to provide kids with the basic education that is needed prior to choosing a specific stream. However, school education has a one-size-fits-all approach and teaches pupils at the same pace whereas the pace of learning tends to vary with each child. This means that every kid learns at his own pace, something that cannot be accommodated by school education system. If your child fails to understand and grasp specific parts of the curriculum at the same pace as others, which is quite natural, it is a good idea to opt for home tuition. These are some excellent advantages of having private tutors to guide your kids at home.

Easy adjustment

Research shows that many children find it difficult to adjust to a new educational environment, even if it is the home or coaching class of a private tutor and not necessarily a school. At home, your kid will not feel any difficulty in adjustment and will feel more comfortable when he or she is learning from the tutor. Your kid will not feel embarrassed to ask questions, share opinions and seek advice from home tutors.

Complete attention from tutors

With a home tutor, your child can get complete attention and not have to share his tutor with others. The teacher will not need to concentrate on other students, and give his complete focus to your kid. This can help him to ask questions at any time that he likes, and not feel disinterested and de-motivated at any time during the study. Also, he will be unable to while away time as he will need to respond to the tutor at any given moment while studying.

No competition

Peer pressure can be extremely damaging for education. With a home tutor, your child will not feel that his actions and answers are being scrutinized by other students. Thus, he will be able to express himself more clearly and the tutor can spot his problems and weak areas. The tutor can even alter the curriculum in such a way that it gets more appropriate for your kid. With no negative sense of competition, your kid will not hold back his queries and feel free to make mistakes and learn from them.

Promise of better ranks

With complete focus and better understanding of the curriculum, your kid can offer more satisfactory answers and achieve better ranks in school. Even if your child is a decent student, he can fare much better in various subjects with more attention and a more suitable pace of learning.

Greater sense of confidence

With more personalized attention and the ability to dig into more detail about the curriculum, your kid can feel more confident about his studies and even overcome his fears of exams. You can even keep an eye on the extent of progress of your child and find out whether or his or her pace of improvement is satisfactory. With home tutors who are well-qualified, you can rest assured about the overall academic progress of your kid.

Home Schooling in Your Motorhome

At first glance the terms “hitting the road” and “hitting the books” might appear mutually exclusive. But if you home school your children and have access to a motor home, read on.

Your one room school house on wheels.

One of major concerns of parents who decide to home school their children is that their child is not exposed to the wide array of mental stimuli encountered by children who participate in a more conventional education. Children who go to public and even private schools are exposed to many different cultures, personalities and diverse beliefs. However, children schooled in the home sometimes are not exposed to a wide variety of other children. Co-operative home schooling, which brings a number of families together to share the work in educating their children, helps somewhat but home schooled children still, may not experience the plethora of mental stimuli experienced by their more traditionally schooled counterparts. One way to ensure that your child has access to these stimuli is to pack up your motor home and hit the road.

Math Class

As you head down the highway in your one room school house on wheels, opportunities for teaching abound. In addition to the regular daily lesson plan, you can incorporate trip specific lessons into the daily work. For example, the math lesson begins when you stop at the neighborhood filling station to top off your tank. Consult the owners’ manual of your motor home and find out the capacity in gallons of your fuel tank. If age and grade appropriate have your young student convert this measurement from gallons to liters. For younger children, a fun activity is to let them watch the pump through the RV window and count the gallons or even tenths of gallons that pour into your motor homes fuel tank. Of course with the current price of gasoline, this activity will be much more fun for them than for you.

Once you’ve filled your tank, get out the map and sit with your student to study your route. Consult your motor home’s manual again and find how many miles per gallon you can expect to get. Help your young student compose a formula to find how far down the planned route you’ll be able to travel before your motor home requires fuel again. You can help your child use the map to help navigate as you travel along. Plan a side trip at the spur of the moment. Ask your child to tell you how this side trip will affect your timetable and fuel bill?

History Lessons.

Plan your trip so that you follow an historical route. Follow the Trail of Tears, maybe the Oregon Trail. Travel the dusty path the cowboys rode in cattle drives from Texas to Dodge City, Kansas. If you’ve got the time, follow the route of Lewis and Clark or, explore the vast expanse of the Louisiana Purchase. What ever path you choose to follow, make sure you have plenty of supplemental materials for your young student to study. Many motor home parks have high speed internet available to their campers. At the end of each day, have your child connect to the Internet and gather information about the history of the places you’ve visited.

Social Studies

Take a trip through Appalachia. Venture some distance from the Interstate into the heart of some small town. Stop at a small store or local diner. Observe the people who live and work there. Listen to their accents or, eavesdrop on a conversation. There is no better way to discover how other people live than to explore these microcosms of America. You might even want to contact local parents who also home school their children and arrange a visit to learn more about each other and compare home school curriculums.

Other Destinations

Many home schooling co-operatives hold events at various motor home parks to compare and refine home school curriculums and provide new experiences for their home schooled students. An Internet search for these home school meet ups will yield many entertaining and informative events. If you choose to make one of these trips, be prepared to have a good time and be sure to bring your favorite covered dish.

Exercises such as these are entertaining and exciting to your child and if properly presented, your young student may not even realize he is in school. But remember, as entertaining, exciting and educational as these road exercises are, they are not a replacement for the well planned curriculum and lesson plans available to parents home schooling their children.

Home Schooling Benefits and Help

Some years ago a grandson came to live with me who have problems at school. He had bad attention span and was noisy in class. That, however, was only part of the problem. He was also bowel incontinent and at the ages of 6-8 years that was hard for teachers and students to put up with. After he was sent home within an hour of arrival on various excuses I decided to home school him.

As my education level was high having degrees from university the task was obviously not going to be that hard. In fact, it was so easy and so enjoyable for both of us that he picked up quite rapidly. He was attentive and easy to manage. Explaining things to him on a one on one basis meant that he readily absorbed the lessons.

There was also a lot of help available out in the community. There were even gatherings with other home school students. They could play games and interact as they would in a play-ground or class-room. The parents got along as well.

If someone is in a situation where the alternative to home schooling is a bad situation, then don’t hesitate to take it on. Anyone who has been to school and passed through primary with no trouble will have a great experience refreshing their memory and expounding on their knowledge.

Books are also available for parents to use to help students. They get the same text books as in a class-room with the added advantage that lessons can be ongoing once a subject has been introduced. It is surprising how many questions come up from time to time over dinner or when relaxing that add to the knowledge bank.

Children who are home-schooled in Australia are usually ahead of the pack when it comes to qualifying later in life. If someone is thinking about it then my advice is to give it a go. After all what do you have to lose?

Home School Methods – What Do Parents Use to Homeschool?

There are as many ways to home school as there are people out there that home school. Basically most people will range somewhere in the broad spectrum between “school-at-home” and “let the kids play all they want and they’ll learn what they need to know”. You need to know your style and the temperaments and learning styles of your children to be able to come up with an educational philosophy that you can both live with.

Children can learn with workbooks and they can learn with games. Some children love to work through a textbook and don’t want to be bothered with games while other children may complete a workbook but not remember anything they did.

There are all kinds of terms that are used to describe the styles of home schooling such as Eclectic, Classical, Unschooling, Traditional, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and Unit Studies.

Homeschooling does stretch a parent but it doesn’t have to bend them out of shape. Each parent needs to evaluate what type of learning methods they feel comfortable with in teaching their children. Some people wouldn’t feel comfortable using anything but a structured curriculum that tells them exactly what to say. While others would feel very stifled to have to be tied to a curriculum that told them exactly what they had to do.

Homeschooling is mostly about relationships. If you have a great relationship with your child or work on relating with your child, you will be able to work through any curriculum struggle by communicating.

Children need some boundaries in their day. They may not learn anything by playing around all day, but then they may not learn anything by completing a workbook page either. They need some structure that they are required to follow and be held accountable if they step outside those boundaries. When you have some “have tos” in your life it builds character and makes the unstructured times more fun.

Home Schooling Nine to Twelve Year Olds and Socialization

When home schooling a child between nine and twelve years old, there is a lot of pressure for peer pressure. Keep in mind that not all children undergo this pressure to be with and like their peers, while distancing themselves from their parents. These preteens still need plenty of attention, eye contact, positive reinforcement and praise, personal communication, and good interaction with their parents. Believe it or not, children at this age do still enjoy being read to. Keep having positive attitudes toward learning; focus on making learning interesting and engaging. Make sure you use positive constructive criticism with the least amount of academic pressure possible. Focus on providing a safe, secure learning environment that encourages love, acceptance and reassurance. This will, in time, raise their feelings of self worth and help them understand where their values lie.

At this tender age of hormones, mixed emotions, changing feelings, group planning in curriculum is suggested. Preteens prefer learning skills that have a reason or purpose in real life. For instance, instead of offering busy work in language arts, ask your child to write a letter to a manufacturing company in regards to a defective household product for you. Not only would this make the child feel important but the learning task would be a skill much needed in real life. When learning math, use real life examples with money and budgeting, perhaps even balancing a checkbook. Use graphs and charts to set goals with earned money and savings. Reading about science from a textbook is one way to learn the subject, but performing experiments or identifying specimens in nature is much more engaging. Daily and weekly chores are necessary to learn responsibility and accountability as an integral part of the family.

Remember to always model what you want to teach. Learn new topics together. Dissect a grasshopper for science, work on the family budget together, etc. Homeschooling allows parents to design a curriculum that benefits their children. Find out where your preteen has strengths and weaknesses and plan your curriculum around that.

Homeschooling and Socialization:

When parents talk about home schooling their children, the most common concern is regarding socialization. Parents are concerned that their children will not learn how to adapt to social situations. Unless the homeschooling parent decides to isolate their children completely from the outside world, this is impossible. In fact, children who are home schooled have more interaction with people of all ages, not just their age group. The average home schooled child attends more educational field trips during the year than the non home schooled child. In addition, home schooled children have more opportunities for after school activities, such as music lessons, sports, and hobbies.

Children who home school feel equally comfortable with younger children, peers, and adults of all ages. Children who home school have daily social interactions with the family, neighborhood and the community. Because of this, studies have shown that children who home school have higher self esteem. Children who attend school do not experience real world situations, while home schoolers are definitely more prepared for the real world.

The type of socialization that is experienced in schools is often negative. Large school settings harbor conformity, teasing, bullying, defiant behavior, popularity contests, and competition. No wonder home schooled children have higher self esteem; children at home are learning kindness, patience, sharing, respect, and understanding. These home schooled children are not exposed to peer influences which foster peer dependency. Peer dependent children show diminished positive socialization, such as self-worth, confidence, reverence for their parents, and trust in peers. Although home school children may play with other children in the neighborhood and experience this peer dependence, strong morals and values are being taught at home that override these negative experiences.

Home schooled children learn to listen to their own instincts and let that guide them to make their own decisions. Conforming to a peer social group that does not value individuality does not foster independent thinking, which is necessary for a successful life.

Home Schooling Doctors

Dedicated to my mother for devoting her love and time to homeschooling my three siblings and me. Your patience and love is without bounds.

Homeschooling with Ultimate Freedom

Homeschoolers have freedom without parallel. To mimic a public or private school curriculum is a waste of this freedom. This guide takes advantage of our freedom and outlines the exact academic curriculum for a homeschool student to get accepted into medical school. It tells the key to reading at age three, achieving near perfect SAT scores, taking college classes at age fourteen and acquiring acceptance letters to Ivy League colleges. Believe it or not, this is not that difficult. It does not require studying eight hours a day. It requires less. I had much more free time than my public school friends. My three younger siblings also had more free time. I am now a medical student at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. My siblings and I all read at age three, scored in the top percentiles on the SAT and received near perfect grades in college. We were all students of the same homeschool curriculum and strategy. This guide contains the key strategies, curricula and timelines for any homeschool student to achieve academic superiority.

Below is the most basic timeline of your student’s major academic achievements. Although I begin at age three, a student can hop on board at any age. The same overall strategy applies-just the timeline will probably be different.

Age (yrs) Milestone

3 Reading

9 Algebra

14 Enroll in college classes

15 Score above 98th percentile on SAT I; Score above 700 on SAT IIs; Calculus

16 – 17 Acceptance to “Most Competitive” College

22 Acceptance to Ivy League medical school (if you want)

Insight #1: “Give Your Child a Superior Mind”

This is the title of a book by the author Siegfried Engelmann. Get it. The book is no longer in print, but used copies can be found on Amazon.com. It is a real gem with timeless teachings. Use this book as a guide to begin educating your child at age three.

To teach your child how to read, use the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Your child will be reading before his or her fourth birthday.

Bottom Line: Beginning at age three, teach the following books to your young prodigy.

Title: Give Your Child a Superior Mind

Authors: Siegfried and Therese Engelmann

Pub Date: 1981

Title: Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Authors: Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, Elaine Bruner

Pub Date: 1986

Insight #2: Reading and Arithmetic (that’s it)

Reading and arithmetic should consume 80% of your student’s education from age three to thirteen. Wait! But what about history, political science, biology, chemistry and the other subjects? Surely these subjects MUST be important because they make up most of a public or private school curriculum. Wrong! Not to say that these subjects are unimportant, but, rather, a student with a strong reading comprehension and math background can learn them very quickly. In other words, it is very easy to “catch up” in these subjects.

Strong reading comprehension = 3.91 college GPA in history, philosophy and literature

I enrolled at Providence College with almost no history background. I knew some details about the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World Wars, but that was about it. One of the cornerstone courses at Providence College is the Development of Western Civilization (“Civ”). It is a five-credit course that is taken every semester during freshman and sophomore year. The course covers history, philosophy, literature and religion from the Ancient Greeks to the fall of the Berlin Wall. With virtually no background in Civ, I finished the Honors course series with all A’s. I am not bragging and am not gifted. It just turns out that studying these “fluff” subjects all throughout childhood is a waste of time. Of course, if your student finds these subjects interesting, then encourage further study! Especially, since it still involves reading. My youngest brother loves reading history and would spend hours reading the encyclopedia. However, it was crucial that this passion did not detract from his math studies. It didn’t and he scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT I.

Strong math background = 4.00 college GPA in physics, chemistry and calculus

Just as reading is key for success in the fluff subjects, math is essential for success in chemistry, physics and, well, more math. I have seen hundreds of pre-med students get poor grades in chemistry, physics and calculus because of bad math backgrounds. Math is the backbone of these problem-solving subjects.

While a strong reader can stroll into her first college history class with almost no background knowledge and ace the course, she probably could NOT do the same in the pre-medical courses. Stay with me though, because she will catch up and be a superstar in the sciences by age sixteen (this will be addressed in Part II, Insight #8). With this strategy, I graduated from Providence College with a 4.0 GPA in the pre-medical sciences. Similarly, all of my siblings have won awards for consistently stellar performances in the sciences.

Bottom Line: From age three to thirteen, 80% of your student’s education should be focused on reading and math. The remaining 20% can be spent studying other subjects with a bias toward the sciences.

Insight #3: Math… Math… and more Math

I cannot stress enough the importance of a strong math background. The following books are what I used for my math education and are highly recommended. The Saxon math books are very challenging and repetitive. This is a bear to many students, but it engrains a math foundation surpassed by few. Below is a timeline of what math books to use at different ages:

Age (yrs) Math Level Book Series, Author

4-8 Math Workbooks 1 – 16 Developmental Math Workbooks, George Saad, PhD

8 Math 76 Saxon Publishers, John Saxon

9 Algebra ½

10 – 11 Algebra 1

12 Algebra 2

13 – 14 Advanced Mathematics

15 – 16 Calculus

Developmental Math Workbooks: Completion of these books will require active participation of the homeschooling parent. They are merely workbooks, so you must teach the student how to perform the basic math functions (i.e. adding, division, fractions, decimals).

Saxon Math books: Each lesson in the Saxon Math books teaches the math function that is applied in the respective problem set. With the exception of Math 76 (which should be studied at an accelerated pace), the student should complete at least one lesson a day. As the student progresses through Algebra ½, she should require less and less of the homeschooling parent’s time. By the time the student completes Algebra ½, she should be learning most of the lessons herself with only occasional help.

Bottom Line: Math is probably the most important subject in the student’s education and should be the primary focus every school day.

Insight #4: Reading (lots of it)

A strong reading background is just as important as a strong math background. The books that I previously mentioned in Insight #1 by the author Siegfried Engelmann are highly recommended by my parents. However, my parents believe that the reading program that we used subsequently was not very good. The program we used from ages five to eight years old was Total Reading. Although this program worked okay for us, I am not going to fully endorse it as I do the other books/programs. I recommend doing some online research and finding a reading program that is better.

When the student is about ten years old, I recommend starting the book series Vocabulary from Classical Roots, by Nancy and Norma Fifer. This program teaches vocabulary by focusing on the Latin and Greek roots common to many words. It is key to know these roots for the SAT I verbal section. The SAT I verbal section includes an enormous variety of obscure and difficult words. To memorize the dictionary in order to do well in this section of the SAT I is unnecessary (and not worth your time). When I took the SAT, vocabulary was tested in sentence completions and analogies. Out of about forty vocabulary questions on the SAT, I only got one wrong. The SAT does not require the student to know the exact definition of each word; rather, he only needs to have a basic understanding of each word’s meaning. Vocabulary from Classical Roots gave me the ability to deduce the meanings of words that I had never seen before and, in turn, do well on the SAT verbal section.

In addition to the above reading curricula, the student should continually read, read, read. Reading difficult material will be immensely helpful for improving his reading comprehension. Throughout my youth, I read many classical books (i.e. Odyssey, War and Peace, Treasure Island).

Bottom Line: Your student should read as much as possible (both leisurely and as part of a program). Total Reading is the reading program that my family used from ages five to eight; however, I recommend researching another reading program that will give even better results. At around age ten, the student should begin learning vocabulary from Vocabulary from Classical Roots. Below is the info on the aforementioned books.

Title: Total Reading

Author: Total Reading, Inc.

Pub. Date: New editions available

Title: Vocabulary from Classical Roots

Author: Nancy Fifer and Norma Fifer

Pub. Date: 1998

Insight #5: A strong reader can quickly become a great writer

Until I took a college writing class at age sixteen, I had never written a paper longer than two double spaced pages. My first writing composition class was a freshman writing seminar at Kalamazoo College. I received an A- in the class, but it was probably the most challenging college class I ever took. In addition to my reading program, one of the only other parts of my homeschool curriculum that I would recommend changing is the writing component. There is no need for your student to write papers every day, but he probably should have written at least a dozen research papers before college. So, he should start writing papers periodically at age fourteen and will then easily obtain A’s in college writing classes. By the time I was a sophomore at Providence College, my research, creative writing and philosophy papers were used as examples in the class. My siblings all received A’s in their college writing classes as well.

While writing becomes a large part of the student’s curriculum at age fourteen, the mechanics of writing (i.e. grammar) should be learned before then. Starting at age eleven, I used the Easy Grammar 56 Workbook to learn advanced grammar. At age twelve, I began studying the next book in the series, Easy Grammar Plus Workbook.

Bottom Line: A strong reader has the potential to be a great writer. The student should start writing papers on a regular basis at age fourteen. To learn the mechanics of writing, he should study the following workbooks starting at age eleven and finishing by age fourteen.

Title: Easy Grammar Workbook 56

Author: Wanda Phillips

Pub. Date: 1994

Title: Easy Grammar Plus Workbook

Author: Wanda Phillips

Pub. Date: 2007

Insight #6: Age fourteen: Major curricula change

If you paid attention to the ages in the previous insights, it would seem that there is a ton of “catching up” to do beginning at age fourteen. It may seem like your student doesn’t have enough hours in a day to do it all. This is not true. Between ages thirteen and fourteen, the student’s homeschool curriculum changes drastically. For example, no longer is math the primary focus. Actually, only about 10% of the student’s time should be spent on Saxon math. By age thirteen, the student should already have a math background that will guarantee a near perfect math SAT score and easy A’s in college calculus. So, the majority of time that was previously spent on math will now be used for SAT preparation. Similarly, the time previously spent reading will now be converted to the study of chemistry. Finally, the amount of writing will more than double at this age. Below is an approximate schedule showing this curricula re-focus.

Age (yrs) Subject Study Time Allotment (%)

3-13 Math 40

Reading 40

Physical and natural sciences 10

Writing 5

History, geography, etc. 5

14 Math (Saxon) 10

Reading Comprehension 10

Chemistry 35

Writing 15

SAT Prep 30

Bottom Line: The intensity of your student’s study will increase a little bit at age fourteen. However, your student’s new studies (i.e. SAT prep, college chemistry, writing) should all come easy with his superior math and reading skills.

Insight #7: SAT, 99th percentile at age fifteen

So your homeschool student is now fourteen years old and will be applying to college in a couple of years. Public and private school students will go to their counselor’s office and request a copy of their official high school transcripts mailed to Harvard, MIT, etc. They will have the school seal on the envelope and counselor’s signature on the transcript. On the other hand, you will go to your word processor program on the family computer, write what you think resembles a high school transcript and then sign it as the student’s counselor. No doubt, Harvard might weigh your student’s 4.0 GPA transcript a bit differently than his private or public school peers. So, acing the SAT is probably the biggest step toward validating your student’s home education. I challenge any admissions committee member to look at your student’s 2200 (~99th percentile) score on the SAT I and say that his home education was inferior. On the other hand, if you submit his 4.0 GPA transcripts alongside a 1700 SAT score, admission committees are probably not going to be impressed.

So, the SAT is a really big deal. How and when does the student start preparing for it? He should take a couple of SAT I practice tests at age twelve. Then, tailor the studies a bit based on the results. If his reading comprehension score is below 550, start buying reading comprehension books. If his math score is low, well I’m actually not sure what to do. It is very hard to catch up in math. That’s why it is extremely important to primarily focus on math up to this age. I guarantee if you follow this guide, you will be impressed with your student’s math SAT score. All three of my siblings and myself scored above 700 on this section (actually, we have a combined average score of 760, which is about two wrong on the whole math section).

The student should plan on taking the SAT I at age fifteen. This means start preparing at age fourteen. It may take up to a year of SAT preparation before the student is ready to ace the test. Don’t worry though. This studying is not useless once the test is over. Rather, it will just further hone his math, reading and writing skills.

Regarding the mechanics of studying for the SAT, make WRITTEN goals. Write out a timeline leading up to your test date and set goals along the way. Below is an example goal chart started six months before the test date. Take note how it is front-loaded (greater score increases early on) because it is harder to gain extra points as your score climbs.

Date Math Section Verbal Section Writing Section

01/01/2011 660 620 640

02/01/2011 700 660 680

03/01/2011 730 690 710

04/01/2011 750 710 730

05/01/2011 770 720 740

06/01/2011 790 730 750

06/03/2011 *Test Date

SAT Prep Books: Kaplan and Princeton’s SAT preparation books are solid. Also, CollegeBoard’s SAT guide is crucial. This book contains actual SAT I exams from past test dates and are perfect for measuring your progress. However, don’t take too many of these valuable tests too soon. Otherwise, the student will run out of official practice tests months before the test date.

Bottom Line: The student’s strong math and reading background will enable her to achieve a SAT I score in the 98th to 99th Percentile at age fifteen (two years before your peers will take the test). Set written goals and milestones for the SAT I dating at least four to six months before the test date. Buy the following SAT prep books:

• Most recent editions of Kaplan SAT Math, Verbal and Writing workbooks

• Most recent editions of Princeton Review SAT Math, Verbal and Writing workbooks

• Most recent edition of CollegeBoard’s SAT study guide

Insight #8: SAT IIs (required for most of the Ivies)

The SAT IIs are required for admission into most of the top colleges, especially for homeschool applicants. Again, these tests validate your student’s homeschool education. Most of the top schools require about three SAT IIs. There are close to a dozen different SAT II subject tests ranging from math and chemistry to foreign languages and history. Of course, pick the subject tests that are your student’s strengths. If you followed this guide, then her most favorable SAT II subject tests are probably Math (IC or IIC), Chemistry and Literature. Reading and math are her strengths, so the math and literature subject tests should be easy. Chemistry should also be easy. She will have taken two college chemistry classes before taking the chemistry subject test (to be discussed in Insight #9). Since the literature and math SAT IIs are similar to the verbal and math sections of the SAT I, she should probably take the SAT IIs within three months of taking the SAT I.

Bottom Line: The student should take the SAT IIs that will show her strengths. Unless your student was a history buff, or studied a foreign language, she will probably do best on the Math, Literature and Chemistry subject tests. By age sixteen, she should be armed with SAT I and SAT II scores that are well above 700 in each respective section.

Insight #9: College classes at age fourteen

No matter the college, one of the most daunting pre-medical “screener” classes is chemistry. I’ve seen hundreds of bushytailed pre-medical students have their medical professional dreams crushed in college chemistry. More often than not, these students take general chemistry for the first time while juggling other difficult classes such as general biology and calculus. Additionally, these students are still making the psychological adjustment from high school to college. No doubt they struggle in general chemistry! For homeschool students, it is incredibly easy to avoid this unforgiving situation. Your student should simply take general chemistry at a local college while still homeschooling (commonly called “dual enrollment”). Firstly, the student will have a smooth transition to the college atmosphere. Secondly, the student will only have one college class to focus on instead of four to five classes. Thirdly, he can re-take these classes for easy A’s at his Ivy League university.

Let me talk for a couple minutes about this last strategic step-re-taking classes. My family’s approach was to take the difficult pre-medical science classes (General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Biology and General Physics) at a local college that was only ranked “competitive” according to Barron’s Guide to Colleges. We called this college our “high school college.” Then, we would apply as freshman to higher-powered colleges, which we called our “real college.” In other words, our high school college served the same purpose as AP classes for public school students. We would then re-take these pre-medical science classes at our real college to achieve easy A’s. It is important to note that the grades at our high school college still count when applying to medical school. Medical schools factor every college class the applicant ever takes into his college GPA. Also, the grades from your student’s high school college will be sent to his real college when he applies. So, it is important to pick a high school college that isn’t too challenging. You want him to get A’s in these classes.

In addition to general chemistry, before enrolling in your real college, you should also take college biology, physics, organic chemistry and a writing class. (To save money on these classes, apply to your high school college to become a full time student. By age fifteen, you will already have stellar SAT scores and should get a scholarship.) By age sixteen to seventeen, your student will be ready to ace any pre-medical science class that Harvard or MIT has to offer.

Below is the following timeline of the classes I took:

Age (yrs) Semester Classes

14 Fall Introductory Chemistry

15 Winter General Chemistry I

15 Fall Organic Chemistry I

16 Winter General Chemistry II

16 Fall General Biology I, Freshman Writing Seminar

17 Winter General Physics II, General Biology II

Bottom Line: Starting at age fourteen, begin taking college classes. For the first year, until the SATs are completed, take one class a semester, preferably the general chemistries (so that you can take organic chemistry the next semester). Then, complete at least the first semester of the other pre-medical sciences and a writing class by age seventeen.

Insight #10: Applying to the Ivies

You will apply to the top school of your choice one year early and your application should look something like this:

• 2200 on SAT I

• 790 on SAT II Chemistry

• 740 on SAT II Math

• 720 on SAT II Literature

• 4.0 GPA in General Chemistry I and II, Organic Chemistry I,

General Biology I and II, General Physics I

• Extracurriculars (following this guide, you should have plenty of time to play

sports, enter spelling bees, volunteer in the community, etc.)

Good Luck!

Buying Used Home School Curriculum – 7 Practical Keys to Making the Best Purchase

Buying home school curriculum can be expensive. Many people resort to purchasing their curriculum used, which usually works out very well for the buyer and seller. Here are a few warnings to watch out for to make your purchase of used home school curriculum, just what you need:

1. Do your homework – Check eBay and homeschoolclassifieds to see what the going rate is for the book or curriculum you are looking to purchase.

2. Check editions – What edition do you want to purchase? If it doesn’t matter, then make sure the books in the set you are purchasing are all the same edition. If you want a particular edition, then make sure you ask questions before buying.

3. If you have any allergies be sure to ask if the books come from a pet-free, smoke-free home. You would hate to start sneezing or coughing every time you opened a used book that you purchased. Even if you don’t have allergies, it’s usually a good idea to buy a book or curriculum that doesn’t smell like animals or smoke.

4. Ask the condition if not stated. Most people state the condition of the book(s) they are selling. If you have any questions about the description or if the description is incomplete – always ask!

5. Complete set – Make sure you ask if all the lessons are in the set if this isn’t mentioned in the ad or auction.

6. Set your price. When bidding on an auction for your book or curriculum, make sure you decide ahead of time how much you want to spend. This will keep you from spending more than you want to at the end of the auction when the bidding can get a little crazy.

7. Check the seller’s reputation. Make sure you look over any complaints at the site you are purchasing from. On eBay check the seller’s feedback ratings and make sure you are dealing with a reputable seller.

Purchasing home school curriculum can be fun and rewarding. I have bought and sold quite a few home school books and have met many wonderful people. Hopefully these tips will help you have a positive experience with purchasing used home school books and curriculum.