Should all Juniors Take the PSAT?

homeschooling

I just recently wrote an article on Homeschoolers and the PSAT for Let’s Homeschool High School. This article made me aware of several things. First, I wanted to share the info with my friends here at MomSCHOOL because there are some super benefits from taking the PSAT!

First of all some of you may be wondering what the PSAT is. In reality, it is called the PSAT/NMSQT – quite the mouthful- but it boils down to Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. This test was designed primarily as a preliminary or practice test for the SAT. It gives the students an idea of what types of questions will be asked, how the test is structured, and a way to practice without fear of doing poorly. The secondary purpose of this test is a qualifying test for the National Scholarship Program. This program is designed to commend high achieving students through connections with various scholarships.

Secondly, there are many benefits that homeschooled high schoolers can receive through the taking of this test. The PSAT website states that students who take the test in their Junior year will:

  • Qualify for scholarships by being automatically entered
  • Receive free information from colleges and universities that are interested in you
  • Receive access to My College Quick Start – which is a free college planning tool
  • Score higher on the SAT (on average) versus those who don’t take the PSAT

Finally, there is great news for homeschoolers. The College Board, makers of the PSAT, have made it possible for students to take the test at their local high school. Homeschoolers will simply need to contact their local school’s PSAT/NMSQT coordinator several months before the October test date. Typically they recommend contacting them in July prior to the student’s Junior year of high school, while taking the SAT test in the spring of the Junior year. Homeschooled students will need to know their state’s PSAT homeschool test code and enter it into the test. Other than that, it’s simply a task of taking the test and seeing if there are any areas to work on before taking the SAT/ACT.

Simple Tips for Teaching Homeschool Science

I love teaching my children science, especially when we do it right. It can be the most exciting part of  our day! You see, that’s the key – science is simply a study of life and the things around us. You can’t simply do science out of textbook and be done with it! There is just sooo much more! Here are a few tips to help you get your science study off the ground and out of the text books…

1) Use the classroom around you… life, nature, etc. It’s unbelievable what you can learn on a simple nature walk. In fact, this past week we took one and discovered a rare type of aphid called the boogie woogie aphid… turns out it lives only on beech trees and waves(dances) when it senses someone near.

2) Remember that children learn through play. It’s absolutely necessary for them to have time to explore and discover. Their play is learning and their learning should be play. Amazing how they learn when they are doing something fun and interesting!

3) The scientific method stems from questioning… so let learning stem from a child’s natural inquisitiveness. As you discover and explore the world around you let them ask questions, and even teach them how to apply the scientific method to their inquiries. Children are known for using the word “why”, and for good reason!

4) I love having guide books on hand for reference. There have been so many times when we have seen an amazing bird, or animal species that we have run home and tried to find in our guide books. If you can’t find it there… there is always google! We love some of the books like The Kingfisher I Wonder Why Encyclopedia, The Usborne Science Encyclopedia, Birds of Georgia, Trees of the U.S., and Look Inside the Human Body.

5) We use a textbook or online science curriculum simply as a jumping off point. In fact, we love the Apologia series. We will usually read our daily selection together and then go explore or test our theories about what we read. I love getting my kids outside. There is so much room for the imagination when you are out of doors!

Make sure you check out our other articles on homeschooling science – Making Homeschool Science More Fun than Play

Been Hopping? Here’s a few homeschool blog hops I’ve hopped on…

I like the Enchanted Homeschooling Mom’s Thoughtful Spot Blog Hop… There are several really great posts here to check out!

Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop
We also shared on Love2Learn2Day’s blog hop Math Monday!

I also really love this one… Scripture and a Snapshot! Take a picture and then make sure you have a scripture in your blog post for that day! Love it!!

Scripture and Snapshot

Here ‘s one that is just adorable… Salt Tree… beautiful posts to check out on her most recent blog hop/linky party!!

SaltTree

Back to School – Five Tips for Making it Real!

chloe

Yep, so here we go… back to school… In some ways, it is thoroughly refreshing, yet in others it’s like a huge heavy wave washing over me! (Ugh, washing – reminds me I have about 4 loads backed up as I write…) So, in reality that wave might be the huge landfill of clothing that needs washed due to my ever vigilant presence in our homeschooling room. Anyone else out there feeling the laundry pain? Ok… enough commiserating… on to the good stuff…

This year has really been great so far. Though at times I do feel more like a referee than a mother… I think that the few improvements that we made to our schedule and curriculum are really paying of. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Improving every year? Making it better and better? Sure – so that by the time your last one graduates… you are THE MASTER!!!! Then what? I guess we could homeschool our grandchildren? (I am definitely in a mood today…)

Ok…so my five tips for making it real… drum roll please?

1) Keep changing, working, reworking, organizing and reorganizing to find the right mix for your family. When you do, it will flow and you will know that you have “nailed it!” (I’m feeling a good bit of flow this year, almost ready claim that… )

2) Keep exploring new curriculum. There is ALWAYS new homeschool curriculum each year, and what is so amazing is that it actually seems to be getting better. I never would have thought that some of the curriculum we love would have been so awesome, unless I TRIED it! :)

3) Mix it up – sure… giving kids a variety of things to do each day really makes for happy kids! When I make my kids sit at their desks for long stretches of time… well let’s just say it isn’t pretty. Give them workbooks, videos, literature books, and online curriculum for a wide variety of experience throughout the day!

4) Get your own habits established. I know, some people balk at this one… but I have found that if I can get a good habit established of studying and learning each day during specific times… it is so much easier to keep that going! Less whining, less ugly… you name it!

5) Give the natives a snack! Ok… that sounds really trivial… but seriously this year we went to a new organizational method and are using the 10 drawer caddies… one drawer for each subject and they proceed in a linear fashion each day… completing their tasks without my reminding them (amazing by the way!) and one drawer – right in the middle is left for a snack… oh my word! You would think that world had turned upside down and somehow my children switched from grumpy trolls to sweet little fairies…. amazing what a snack can do!

So, keep it real… and don’t forget that life changing snack. :)

Homeschooling High School

homeschool english

Yes, all of us “homeschoolers” seem to balk a little when we talk about homeschooling high school. It’s the big time – the big league – the life altering last few years of school. I think all of us are afraid that we are going to mess our kids up for life! I know that I was! well, good news… if I can do it – anyone can!  We just graduated our oldest daughter, and she is on her way to becoming a full time college student at Mercer University. It’s over, and we did it. (Though I am still shocked and suprised at times!)

We have always chosen courses that were an eclectic mix. Over the years we have found that a little of this and a little of that really fits us better than buying one complete curriculum from one publisher. In years past, some of our favorites have been Apologia, Saxon, and Institute for Excellence in Writing. We have even used several of the free online classes found at Homeschool College USA. My daughter did the Forensics course last year and loved it! This year we are giving the new Time4Learning High School a try. It is new this fall, and we have used T4L before with our other children. So, we will see if it’s a fit for us – it may work like all of the other currciculum before it… a piece here and there might be just what we needed!

Some of the best things that we have learned over the years are simple. Follow your children’s strengths… What is your highschooler good at? Then feed him/her a diet of challenging classes in that area. Make them an expert at what they enjoy…

Homeschooling high school can be a challenge, it can be frightening… but you can do it… I’m already working on #2 in 10th grade…SHEW!

Book Review: High School Prep Genius

highschool prep

High School Prep Genius an Academic Guide to Excellence by Jean and Judah Burk is a beneficial tool for any parent with a  student entering high school. In fact, this book really took me by surprise! I was blown away by how MUCH material was here.  Each chapter is full of amazing content and tools to help safely and successfully navigate high school with a view to your child’s future success.

What’s it all about?

Covering not only academic success this book addresses personal success as well. Using innovative methods to encourage the student to find personal areas of interest that will enable lifelong benefits. I really appreciated how this book took a step by step approach to providing everything a student needs to be successful in life.

For those homeschool families who haven’t had experience with high school yet, this would be an invaluable resource to obtain. With clear delineation of high school requirements as well as suggested courses of study, this book makes mapping out your high school plan easy. High School Prep Genius also addresses each grade of high school individually coaching the student on specific milestone goals that should be accomplished by month.

What are the pros?

As a parent I loved the way this book really encouraged  parent/student teamwork. Truly a successful high schooler is in league with his/her parents to make the most of those four years. Another indispensable aspect of the High School Prep Genius is the plethora of copiable templates and documents to help record your high schooler’s accomplishments. I would dare say, anything… and I mean anything… that you would need to track your high school progress is contained within these pages!

In addition to helping the student navigate high school waters, there are sections with an abundance of instruction on how to manage career choices, choosing a college, and creating life goals. This is truly a comprehensive look at making the transition to adult life.

What are the cons?

Well, to be honest there really weren’t that many cons. I think this book is well written and very practical. It takes into account a wide variety of students. My only thought is that they could have addressed homeschoolers in a little more depth.

Disclaimer: I received this book free in exchange for a candid review.

Bridging the Gaps!

summer learningEveryone has struggles now and again… even the best of homeschoolers. So, don’t let it get you down if your kids have a few learning gaps.  I know when I find out my children have a few weak areas it really gets me down.  There isn’t any one else to point your finger at and say – Why? There is only yourself and your thoughts of “What could I have done different?”  I have been there many times, but I realized that it happens. The question is, now that we know there are some issues… what are we going to do about it?

Summer is the perfect time to bridge those gaps in your child’s learning. If you found that they have weak areas as a result of a standardized test, then most of your work is already done for you. You simply need to take the test and find the sub sets where your child scored low. You can focus on those particular areas during the summer to try to strengthen the areas that were troublesome.

I like to do this with my own children each summer. Yet, I personally also like to have the summer as a time for me to recoup and refresh myself. If I can’t recover and refill my mother’s heart I will be of no use. I seriously use the summer to do that. That doesn’t mean that my kids get off scott free with no schooling. Ohhh… no way! I have tried to find ways that they can still get the remedial work they need without it stressing me out or requiring much thought on my part. I love to use online summer programs that fit the areas that were troublesome especially homeschool science.  I set it up on each of their computers that the favorites bar on their browser has all the link to the summer review programs that I want them to use. This allows them to individually access these websites without asking me for help. Granted, they don’t do school everyday, but they do it whenever they are bored or it is raining! I look at it as automated summer homeschooling!

What do you do to help your kiddos bridge their gaps during the summer?

Homeschooling English How to Guide

homeschool englishHomeschooling is awesome, just sayin’ – but sometimes it isn’t easy to make sure that you are covering everything that your child needs. I have to admit that I have had a rude awakening in the last year and a half. Once my daughter hit 11th grade it was serious crunch time for college. We were just coasting along – doing a good job – but still not really thinking about details of what we would need once we hit college years. So, here we are and needless to say we are finding out alot of great information. I’d like to share some of what I’ve been learning, but I think I’ll start with English. Here is a sample of what you should be teaching your highschooler for Language Arts.

Freshman Year

Vocabulary and Spelling

Spelling City

100 Most often misspelled words

Grammar

Daily Grammar Exercises

English Grammar and Mechanics Free

Writing Basics

Guide to Grammar and Writing Free

Essay writing

Indepth and overview study of literature

Novel studies

Overview – texts from BJU press or ABEKA work great

 free classic ebooks

Sophomore year

Grammar

texts or workbooks from major homeschool publishers work well!

Essentials of Good Writing Course

Comparing and contrasting – helps students understand how to write this type of essay

Spelling and Vocabulary

Spelling City

High School level spelling

Literature study and Literature Analysis

Classic literature study guides

Classic pieces of literature online

Literature analysis

Oral presentation

Speech class

Junior Year

Grammar

Printable English worksheets

SAT Grammar Practice

Free Pass Grammar Texts

Vocabulary

SAT vocabulary

Spelling City – use this to enter your lists and it will help you drill

Writing – Essay and Research – poetry writing

Time4Writing

Challenging writing

Voices and Visions (poetry unit)

English Literature

Old English Literature
Middle English Literature (Medieval to Restoration Period)

Elements of a Story

Research paper

How to write a research paper

Senior Year

Grammar

Grammar texts

Grammar quizzes -great for CLEP prep

Grammar Practice sheets

Vocabulary

Spelling City

Collegiate spelling words

American Literature

American Literature Guide

En 102: American Literature

Literary Analysis

Writing and Research

Write a research paper

Georgetown explains writing

Public speaking

Speech class

Here’s a sampling of final exams for the different grades.

You may want to consider a serious SAT test prep class in the Junior year.