Monday, October 7, 2019

Can You Homeschool College?

Can You Homeschool College?
Does homeschooling have to stop when children start college?

There is a common assumption - even
amongst homeschoolers - that High School is the "end of the line" for homeschooling.

But, that's simply not true.

And there's another assumption that college needs to cost a lot of money - that's not always true, either.

(A little note for international readers: the words "college" and "university" are virtually interchangeable in everyday American speech - I am using the word "college" here to mean both college AND university)

In my opinion, college is different from high school, in that there is a legitimate need to have an institution document learning. So, in that way, homeschooling college differs from homeschooling at the Primary and Secondary levels. If you don't care about that documentation,  there ARE wonderful courses online for free from many universities - and a few of them are even beginning to offer top notch degree programs ways to document that learning!

Just search for "MOOC" (Massive Open Online Course) to find lists like this:

But, if you DO care about that documentation, keep reading . . . 

There are many reasons a parent might choose to "send a child off" to college: networking, learning under a certain professor, taking a specific program that only one university offers, learning a hands-on profession that must be mentored and practiced (like, say, brain surgery or musical performance).

But, there are many reasons NOT to send a child off to college! The spiritually, psychologically and academically damaging "party" atmosphere at many universities, the promotion of an anti-Christian worldview at many universities, and the high costs are just a few.

If a child is  academically ready to learn college level material at perhaps 15, but too young to live independently or deal with the pressures of a full course load, homeschooling college might be a great alternative.

I can already hear the nay-sayers arguing that "you can't shield them from the 'real world' forever!" Which is very true! But, my experience and observation of modern undergrad dorm life is that it is about as far from the real adult world as one can get. Thousands of young people without adult responsibility, such as being required to support themselves and pay for their own bills, without accountability to parents any longer, but WITH lots of money and freedom - is a recipe for disaster. 

Of course young people will be out on their own - as responsible adults - when that is appropriate. But going off to grad school alone, taking a job in a distant city, or building a home with a family is much truer "real life" than undergrad dorm/fraternity life ever was.

Over the years, I have become familiar with various methods of gaining college credit  - or even a full degree - from home.

These are some that I have personal familiarity with, and can vouch for how wonderful they are:

Thomas A. Edison State University
My own Alma Mater, Thomas A. Edison State University is one such option. I completed my degree there while living abroad in a location where traditional university wasn't an option. I found myself well prepared for graduate work when I was done. They offer remote classes, credit by exam, and credit assessment for learning accomplished outside of class, among other options. They're fully accredited. Prices were VERY reasonable!

Modern States
Another great option that I am personally familiar with is Modern States - also known as "First Year of College Free". At Modern States - for free - you can watch a full course of lectures, read a free textbook, and answer practice questions. When you are done, put in a request for a voucher and they offer to PAY for your CLEP exam to gain college credits for what you have studied! This wonderful service is provided by Philanthropist Steven Klinsky, who wants to make college more accessible for everyone.

College Level Examination Program and DSST
Which brings me to CLEP and DSST exams. For a reasonable fee, MUCH less than tuition for a similar class, you can take one of these exams and gain credits which are accepted by many colleges and universities. Some colleges accept many - some few - so talk to your desired institution and see which ones they will accept - or chose an institution that accepts more of them. I used these exams for a substantial portion of my Bachelor's degree. I graduated debt free : )

Community College
Community Colleges offer many of the same courses as 4 year colleges - often for about 1/4 the price. Staying home and commuting for the first two years can be a great option for many. It's not homeschooling, but it can be a nice transition. Many programs offer the added benefit of qualifying graduates in a trade. This way, they can work in their target field in while schooling continues. For instance, if your student wants to be a Dentist one day, he or she might benefit from learning to be a Dental Hygenist or Assistant at community college. Then, while working for the additional degrees, that part-time job can be a resume and experience builder - and also pay much more than many jobs other undergrads can get. Likewise, the aspiring lawyer can become a paralegal first, and the aspiring nurse-anesthetist can become an LPN or RN first through community college training.

Here are some I have heard about that I am unfamiliar with personally, but look like they are worth checking out. 

Saylor Academy 
Note - some of their courses offer exam credit that is transferable - some do not.

Saylor has a great list of "Partners" - colleges which are easy to work with from home : )
This page has a list of many colleges that are easy to work with from home. I haven't tried them out, but it's a great place to start research!

College Plus, Unbound
Read more about College Unbound HERE

Oak Brook College of Law

Coursera -
Now offers some degree programs, too! And some of those are from top name universities!

One last note - beware of Diploma Mills and College Debt. If the college you're looking at has rates that are very high or preposterously low, admits students without sufficient proof that they are ready for advanced studies, or offers "easy" or "quick" degrees - beware! Make sure they're accredited. Check their reviews online. I still remember meeting a colleague years ago, who had gone to a disreputable college, and who was devastated that she had paid three times as much as I had to get a degree, but was completely unprepared for the professional world.   Make sure you do your research! 

But, with a little research, and some well chosen resources, homeschooling part or all of college can be done! : ) 

This is being shared on:
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Making a Home 
Happy Now 
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Monday, September 30, 2019

Homeschooling Record Keeping - The Portfolio

The Homeschool Portfolio
What is a Homeschool Portfolio, and why should you keep one?

A Homeschool Portfolio, in some states (such as mine), can be a way of certifying to the state that your child has, in fact, received an education in the past year (this is not legal advice, be sure to research the laws of your state). For this reason, some home educators find them intimidating - but they're really simple to assemble!

A Homeschool Portfolio is also wonderful keepsake - a way to remember what things your child did and learned in a particular academic year. I love being able to look back and see all the happy memories of earlier years.

A Homeschool Portfolio also a great organization system, because once you have curated the best items of the year into one tidy binder, the remainder of worksheets, scratch paper, writing efforts and artwork can be freely discarded if you do desire. All your happy memories are tidily arranged in one spot!

How to assemble one? 

Well, the ways to make them are as unique as the people who make them.

Most of the online articles I've seen involve pretty print-outs, but I'm not a pretty printout sort of Mom ; )

Our Portfolio is very utilitarian, and relies upon my daughter's actual work to make it attractive.

If the mood strikes her in a given year, she might make a piece of art to grace the cover.

I use a plain 3-ring binder, usually about 1" or 1 1/2" thick (thicker is fine if you need it!)

At the beginning of the school year, I put .in some filler paper, graph paper, and various yet-to-be completed assignment pages - such as workbook pages or writing assignments.

During the course of a school year, I add these things to our binder:

If she receives a certificate for some achievement during the year, like completing swim lessons, or finishing a level of music education - that goes in the portfolio.

When she finishes a "grade" of Math in Khan Academy, there is a list of all the skills that were learned in that grade. I copy that into a word processing document, and print it out for the portfolio.

I keep some plastic sleeves in the portfolio with samples of her best artwork, tickets to plays, brochures from field trips - the type of thing you might put in a scrapbook.
Our state requires "work samples" from the student, which is challenging because most of her work has been done on the computer, or is not normally recorded. It is hard to have a sample of something like reading aloud, flashcards, singing a memory song, giving a speech, or an oral spelling test.

So, I make a point to do some work offline primarily for the purpose of creating a portfolio. Not busy work, but some well-chosen assignments that will supplement her online work.  We usually have some time during the year when we are away from technology - whether we're traveling, or simply have a power outage because of a storm! During these times, I use workbook-type materials which create a record of her current learning. I actually keep these pages in her portfolio before they're completed, and she uses it as a school notebook, as she finishes the work, it's already in her portfolio.

I really like Amy Maryon's Free Curriculum for the needed workbook-type pages. And of course, there are many other great paper resources out there, too! 

Some assignments, like book reports or handwriting practice, naturally create a paper trail - and they're completed on the paper already in the portfolio! If typed, we print them, hole punch them, and add them as soon as they're done.

I also keep representative copies of her handwritten working-out of math problems (what we called "scratch paper" when we were in school!). She does this on the graph paper that was already in her notebook.

At the end of the academic year, we print out The Annual Academic Summary and The Daily Log and put them in the front of the binder.

Since we add pages to the portfolio all year, and do much of the work right in the portfolio binder, "assembling" it at the end of the year is as simple as removing those pages that don't belong. Pages that aren't complete are removed, or put in the NEXT year's portfolio, to be done later.

If pages are redundant, they're removed and can be discarded if we wish. Which is to say, if she did 100 pages of addition drill, it doesn't ALL need to be left in the portfolio.

Perhaps I should mention, as a side note, that we don't follow "graded" curriculum. I don't think to myself, "She's in First Grade, so we must start and finish a First Grade Language Arts book this year!" Instead, I teach by skill - so "Phonics," "Spelling," "Bible," "Foreign Language," or "Multiplication" simply take however long they take, with no concern for grade level (more than a year, less than a year, it doesn't matter). It doesn't bother me a bit to move unfinished pages from one year's book to the next, if needed. Likewise, we might complete a Khan Academy Math "Grade" in the middle of a year, and immediately start the next one.
 So, that's it! Once the portfolio is assembled, it's ready for review, and then it can be placed in our family archive. Electronic documents (Annual Summary and Log) are also filed in our electronic archives, for handy access.

In summary, at the end of the year, our portfolio contains some or all of the following: 
Annual Summary
Daily Log
Artwork Samples
Creative Writing Samples
Math Samples
Research or Science Project Documentation, if applicable
Tickets, memorabilia (photos if desired)
Printouts of Khan Academy Math Skills Summary
And anything else we feel is appropriate that year!

I hope you find this helpful.

This is being shared on:
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Monday, September 23, 2019

Homeschool Record Keeping - The Annual Summary

Homeschool Record Keeping, The Annual Academic Summary
At the end of a year of homeschool, it's a great feeling to be able to look back and see all that we've accomplished! An Annual Summary makes that possible.

What is an Annual Summary? It is a document that lists every resource we used in the course of a year, all in one place. Every book read, every concert attended, every skill acquired. But, unlike the Daily Log, it doesn't show the day-to-day, just the big overview.

It is very easy to assemble, and I update it as I go.

When I create an annual summary, I try to keep in mind what things are considered educational in traditional schools, and/or are required by my state, that I might tend to overlook when recording. For instance, "academic hours" in traditional schools include such things as attending concerts, finger painting, fire drills, field trips, learning about culture and traditions, attending plays, and learning about bowling. And, in Christian schools, academic hours also include chapel, religious education, singing hymns, Sacraments, and Bible reading. If you just think "3 Rs" it's easy to mistakenly overlook a ton of academic hours.

Here is a fictitious annual summary (for the sake of my daughter's online privacy). She's not really in First Grade, nor are these our current materials. However, many of the First Grade materials I used for this example ARE ones I am enthusiastic about! : )

First, I create a Word Processing document - I keep this one on my computer desktop all year for easy access, along with my other record keeping documents.

(Feel free to copy & modify this template for your own use. That's what it's there for!)

The document itself is entitled with the current grade, like this:
 "First Grade, Annual Academic Summary"

Then, I paste my template into my desktop document:

Annual Summary, First Grade


Language, English:




Foreign Language:

History, US, State History, National, State & Local Government, Geography:




Physical Education:

Fine Arts & Music:

Home Ec:

First Aid, Safety & Fire Prevention:

As the year goes, I enter our completed academic accomplishments and experiences into the document. I add specific titles, authors, and URLs, rather like a bibliography.

It looks something like this (but of course, will probably be longer than this at the end of a year of study!) :

Annual Academic Summary, First Grade

The Beginner's Bible
Attending Sunday School
Liturgy on Sundays
Family Devotions: Reading Genesis & Matthew
Learning the Lord's Prayer
Attending Baptism of Baby Nicholas Pappas
Attending Wedding of Maria and Andreas Kostas

Language, English:

Learning Phonics with Blend Phonics
Bob Books
The Beginner's Bible for Toddlers
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Starfall Learn to Read

McGuffey Speller by Alexander H. McGuffey, pages 3-5

Copycat Books, Proverbs

Foreign Language:
Salsa Spanish Videos
Duolingo Spanish, alphabet lessons

History, US, State History, National, State & Local Government, Geography:
Visiting State House
Heritage Village Field Trip
Liberty's Kids videos
If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern

Khan Academy First Grade Math
Starfall Games

E-Learning for Kids
Greg's Microscope by Millicent Selsam
Field trip to Natural Science Museum

Attending Health Fair at Park
Learning Song about Brushing Teeth 

Physical Education:
Swimming Lessons
Folk Dance Lessons 
Riding Scooter

Fine Arts & Music:
Field Trip to Art Museum
Making Stamp Art with Cut Potatoes and Paint 
Piano Lessons at Hoffman Academy
Attending play: Little Red Riding Hood at Community Playhouse

Home Ec:
Making Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Sweeping with a Broom
Emptying Dishwasher

First Aid, Safety & Fire Prevention: 
Attending Fire Safety Day at Firehouse
Fire Drill
Learning about hydration and heat safety
Water Safety lessons at Swim Class


That's it! By keeping this on my computer desktop (and I do sit at my computer to teach), it is very easy to update this document regularly. Every time my daughter finishes reading a book, it goes in the log. If she reads parts of a book, like three chapters from a science textbook, I add the word "selections" after that entry. Field Trips, Cultural experiences, Phys Ed outings, and Religious instruction are all included.

At the end of the year, this document is printed and hole-punched, and goes in the front of the Portfolio. 

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