To Test or Not to Test?

to test or not to test

If you live in a state where standardized testing is optional you may have asked yourself whether to test or not to test your children. I live in Ohio, we have two options for assessment each year we can give our children a standardized test, or opt for a teacher evaluated portfolio review. I have done both, and we honestly prefer testing. I know some cringe at that word, and that’s fine, but if you are on the fence here are some things to consider when wondering if you should test or not.

Your Child: Some kids are great testers, some stress out over the idea of taking a test. Some children have no problems with tests; they consider them fun, or a challenge. Some children are laid back, and don’t mind either way. When deciding whether you should test, your children consider your child.

Your Schedule: If you test, how many children will you be testing? Do you have the time to take a week and focus on testing your children? Do you have a new baby or a demanding toddler? Are your children independent and can they manage testing on their own? Consider your schedule before you decide to test.

Are You Okay With the Results?: Overall homeschooled children do outstanding on standardized testing. However, are you okay if they don’t? We have tested numerous times, and overall my children do great. However, one year one of my children scored a lot lower than I thought she would in one subject. I was crushed. I blamed myself, and we revaluated our whole curriculum in that subject. The next time we tested, she still scored low in that area. I had to realize that out of the nine areas she tested in it was okay that she scored lower in one. She is allowed to struggle with something. Make sure you are okay with the results no matter which way they go.

If you are still on the fence about testing let me give you some pros and cons I have found from standardized testing.  The biggest pro in my opinion is validation. I like knowing my children test well, and when someone questions me about homeschooling, I can say, “Well, they score very well on their tests each year, so I am pretty sure they are ok”. Now, I know how they are doing without a test, but some people really consider a standardized test the gold standard of academic assessment, so for me the validation is nice. I also like knowing how they are doing overall, and testing is a lot easier than keeping a portfolio all year. I also like that they will be used to tests before they take the ACT, or another college entrance exam.

There are two big cons in my opinion on testing. One is the price, and the other is time. We order our tests through family learning organization and considering I have multiple children to test, the price is a little high. I also don’t like taking a whole week just to stay home and test.

If you have been asking yourself whether you should test, just remember that testing is not for every family. Yes, there are pros, but there are also cons. Consider your schedule, your child and whether or not you are okay with the results. Whether or not you test, you will know how your child is learning, but for some testing is another good assessment option.

Author: Misty Bailey

Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.

 

Reasons Not to Homeschool

Reasons Not to Homeschool

As a homeschooler, I am sure you have heard many excuses as to why people can’t homeschool.  Many times these reasons are honestly just excuses, and that is fine. Despite the many advantages of homeschooling, I understand that it is NOT for everyone. However, I have had to ask myself through the years, are there legitimate reasons not to homeschool? And, I have found that there actually are!

  1. Money will sometimes be nonexistent. Most homeschool families live on one income. If this will be your family, you may find that sometimes, the budget will be tight. What does this mean? It means that the pay for all your hard work will be hugs and kisses, and that things like fancy clothes, new minivans, or six figure homes will probably not happen! If you like these things and don’t want to tighten your budget….don’t homeschool!
  2. You are the only one responsible for your child’s education. You cannot blame the teacher, principal, school, or anyone else if your child is not learning. If you don’t want this responsibility, don’t homeschool!
  3. Because everyone else is doing it. Just because all your friends are homeschooling doesn’t mean that you should. If you are considering homeschooling to follow the crowd, I encourage you to fully weigh your decision. Homeschooling is hard, and you will need encouragement, and the desire to continue on the homeschooling journey. If you are homeschooling just to follow the crowd…don’t homeschool!
  4. Your spouse is not in agreement. In order for homeschooling to work you must be in agreement with your spouse. Otherwise, it will never work. Homeschooling requires a united front. If one wants to homeschool, and the other doesn’t then take the time to pray about the decision, research, and fully understand the concerns your spouse may have. If an agreement is not made then don’t homeschool!
  5. You will absolutely fall in love with homeschooling! Homeschooling will probably take over your house J You will have messes, books everywhere, and freedom to educate your children in the way you see fit. You will know your child’s friends, and you will know what they are learning. You will be the one teaching them to read, which is an amazing feeling. You will also get to show them the real world not the walls of a classroom. This is fun! And once you start there is NO turning back, you won’t want to. If you don’t want to chance falling in love with homeschooling then…don’t homeschool!

 

Author: Misty Bailey

Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.

Finding a Homeschool Group

finding a homeschool group

Homeschool groups can offer homeschoolers numerous benefits. A homeschool group can offer friendships for parents and kids, field trips, co-op classes and even sports groups. Being a part of a homeschool group can also help answer the “What about Socialization?” question.

But, how do you find a homeschool group? I know of a few different ways. I hope that one of these will work for you!

  • Find another homeschooler. This is the easiest way to find a homeschool group. If you don’t know anyone who homeschools, start asking around at the library, family events and talking to your friends. Just about everyone knows someone who homeschools.
  • Check Yahoo or Facebook. Yahoo offers group pages where you can search your area and see what comes up. You can also do a search on Facebook.
  • Go through your statewide support group. Many states offer some sort of statewide support group for homeschoolers. This page has a variety of different groups listed across Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. If you see a group listed that is not real close to you, but you know where the area is contact the support group leader. They may be able to put you in touch with homeschoolers in your area.
  • If all else fails start one yourself!   I have actually had to do this, and promise you that it can be done! When I first began homeschooling I knew only one other homeschooler. They introduced me to another one, I met another at the park, another at the library and before I knew it we had enough people to have our first field trip. In four years, our group has grown to include over 50 families. And, we live in a fairly rural area J.

What are some benefits to finding a homeschool group? If you are a new homeschooler, those in your group can help you navigate the process. They can help you by letting you “see” curriculum first hand, and telling you what works and hasn’t worked for them. Friendships are also very important to our children; they need to know they are not the only ones out there who are not getting on that big yellow bus.

I truly believe finding a homeschool group is essential to homeschool success. When you have bad homeschool days (which we all have!), it is so helpful to know there is another mom out there having one too. The friendships that you can make with other homeschoolers are priceless. No one else truly understands what it is like to homeschool except homeschoolers.

Author: Misty Bailey

Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.

 

15 Famous Homeschoolers

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Depending on the age of your kids or where you live, they may not know a lot of other homeschoolers. Regardless of your location or child’s age your homeschooler probably doesn’t realize how popular homeschooling has become.

Sharing tales and stories of homeschoolers from the past can be a great way to show your child how homeschooling has grown, what a wide variety of people actually homeschool, and how homeschooling in no way holds a person back!

Here are 15 Famous people you probably didn’t know were homeschooled!

  1. Taylor Swift- Swift’s music career took off when she was 14, so she was homeschooled her last few years of high school.
  2. Ryan Gosling-After struggling in school with ADHD, Gosling’s parents began homeschooling him at age 10.
  3. Chris Colfer-The Glee actor was homeschooled in jr. high due to bullying.
  4. Spencer and Abigail Breslin-These celebrity siblings have starred in Kit, American Girl, The Santa Claus and more. They are also homeschooled!
  5. Venus and Serena Williams-Due to a strict tennis practice schedule these pro sisters were homeschooled.
  6. Michelle Kwan-This famous ice skater began homeschooling in 8th grade and went on to win two Olympic medals.
  7. Sandra Day O Conner-The first woman to serve in the U.S. Supreme Court began her education at home.
  8. Irving Berlin-Known as one the greatest song writers of all time, Mr. Berlin was also homeschooled.
  9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt-Homeschooled due to his asthma and illnesses, Mr. Roosevelt went on to become President of the United States.
  10. Agatha Christie-One of the bestselling authors of all time, she was homeschooled due to her extreme shyness.
  11. Clara Barton-Founder of the American Red Cross, this famous nurse was also homeschooled.
  12. Jon Warren-The co-director of the popular movie Mom’s Night Out, was homeschooled and claims it is the reason for his success.
  13. Laura Ingalls Wilder-Laura was educated at home off and on through her school years, and later chose to homeschool her daughter Rose after she found school to not be challenging enough.
  14. Willow and Jaden Smith- These celebrity siblings have been homeschooled for years due to their mother wanting them to “learn, not memorize”.
  15. Darell Waltrip-The NASCAR driver was not only homeschooled himself, but his children are also homeschooled!

For more famous homeschoolers check out these sites:

10 Celebrities you didn’t know were homeschooled

Famous Homeschoolers

10 Celebrities who give homeschooling a good name

Celebrity Parents who Homeschool Their Children

Misty Bailey is a wife and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

Top 5 Secular Homeschool Curriculums

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There are many reasons people homeschool.  They may want to keep their children home due to health, safety, or personal concerns. Some homeschool because they know it is the best option for their child, some homeschool due to their job requiring travel. Whatever the reason one may homeschool they are often bombarded with so many curriculum choices, they may not know which ones to look at. Often times these curriculums are religious based, which don’t always fit the needs of all homeschoolers. I have homeschooled for a while now, and have tried multiple curriculums. I have shared three of my favorite curriculums before, but want to focus on some of the most popular secular homeschool curriculums.

These picks are ones I have not used, but I researched reviews, and also chose ones that I have personally heard good things about.  These tend to rate very high in reviews and some are also included on Cathy Duffy’s Top Homeschool Picks.

  1. Teaching Textbooks: Teaching textbooks is a computer based math program. The program is written to the student, so parent participation is minimal. It explains the math problems completely and clearly and is one of Cathy Duffy’s top picks!
  2. Time for Learning: Time for learning is a computer program that includes all subjects, but also has a monthly fee. Many secular homeschoolers use this program, and like it. I also know homeschoolers who use it as supplement to their regular curriculum. It is interactive and fun and does all the grading and tracking for you.
  3. K12: K12 can be used two ways. If your state offers it, it can be used free as an online public school option. If it doesn’t, or if one wants to, individual courses can be purchased. K12 includes certified teachers, grading, and multiple programs for your student. K12 gets a lot of mixed reviews, and Cathy Duffy rated it low. The reason being if one uses it as the public school option they are not traditionally homeschooling. Those who have used it for individual courses seem to be well pleased.
  4. Moving Beyond the Page: This is a secular literature based unit study. The program is geared towards ages, not grades and includes all subjects. Right now the program is for grades K-8. It is a very hands on program and requires some teacher preparation. I don’t know anyone personally who uses this, but it seemed to get good reviews.
  5. Saxon Math : Saxon Math is one that most of us probably used in school. The intermediate grade level is one of Cathy Duffy’s top picks. Saxon is a thorough program with years of happy customers on its side.

These are just a few of the many secular curriculum options out there. For more reviews on curriculum check out Homeschool Reviews, or this site that lists secular based curriculums by subject.

Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey