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Helping My Daughters Prepare for the ACT Exams

A few months ago, Jane Sandwood sent me a nice note. She’s a a freelance writer, editor and former tutor, homeschooler, and mother of two teenage daughters. She’d read my articles about preparing for SAT/ACTs and had a story of her own detailing how she helped her children prepare for their ACT. I think you’ll enjoy her experiences! 

As spring approaches, my eldest daughter Katherine, now in her junior year, is bracing herself for the upcoming ACT exams, while my youngest, Elizabeth, a sophomore, is getting ready for next year. I am a former tutor and for almost 10 years, I helped students prepare for both SATs and ACTs, relying heavily on tech tools and games to keep them motivated. Somehow, even students who needed the most help weren’t quite as challenging as my own daughters, and the lines between tutor and mom were often blurred, as is to be expected.

Different Learning Styles

Katherine and Elizabeth are just about as different as two people can be when it comes to their attitudes about school and their interests. Katherine, who wishes to be an actor, always took to her studies almost instinctively, since she was a child. She took great pride in handing in her homework neatly, took great pains to finish all her tasks, and was more of a rote learner than Elizabeth, who is more into writing, and who always took a more critical, analytical approach to her studies.

Elizabeth is naturally bright and quick, and has an enviable memory. She has always loved reading and has amassed quite a collection on her Kindle, yet is reticent to complete homework and has always had a strong aversion to maths. Because things tend to come easier to her, she is easily bored and far less disciplined than Kathy when it comes to homework and creating a study strategy. She also struggles with time management, often getting lost in a book or musical album and arriving to school without having completed home tasks.


Categories: Homeschool, Spotlight | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Zapzapmath adds multiplayer option and more to their popular app

zapzapmathZapzapmath is a free gamified ecosystem that teaches math skills aligned with many national and international standards.  Its format is engaging, music lively, and layout colorful. The over 180 games spanning 900 difficulty levels are fast-paced and interactive and cover over 180 math topics. Zapzapmath has been awarded a plethora of education accolades and is ranked in the top 10 of the education category in 58 countries including the US and China.No surprise when you look at all the topics included in this robust app:
– Addition
– Angles
– Coordinates
– Fractions
– Geometry
– Measurements
– Multiplication
– Pre-school Math
– Ratio
– Subtraction
– Time

Now, Zapzapmath has made the experience even better with a long list of enhancements, in-game improvements, and an even greater variety of features.  These are designed for all types of players from those who play at school to students who log on at a homeschool or through a family account. This is perfect for the many different ways students learn math, the wide variety of digital devices being used, and gives a nod toward the lifelong learner who is as likely to play math games because they love learning as that it’s part of teacher-directed activities.


Categories: Homeschool, Math, Parents, Reviews, Web Tools | Tags: | 1 Comment

3 Technology Benefits for Homeschoolers

homeschoolOne of the wonderful Ask a Tech Teacher contributers, Jenny Wise, is a busy homeschooler who suggested I publish an article about the benefits of technology for the homeschooler. I asked Jenny if she would share how she came to homeschool her children, how technology contributes to her success, and then share resources. Here are her thoughts:

At one time, homeschooling was a religious or moral choice made by families that wanted to guide the education of their children more carefully than a public school system would. Today, millions of families choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons, ranging from protecting their children from bullying and violence to avoiding the standardized testing that permeates public schools. Homeschool curricula have greatly improved over the past few years, and new technologies are making it easier for families that homeschool their children but don’t have education degrees themselves. These technologies are helping students achieve academic and social success while meeting the needs of various learning styles.

  1. Experiencing Proven Curricula and Support

Some parents would love to homeschool their children but just don’t feel confident in their ability to deliver a sound education that will help their children develop the skills and knowledge they need to attend college and become successful adults. Thanks to online homeschooling programs and accredited curricula like the one offered by Calvert, parents can access the tools and support they need to deliver top-notch education to their children at home.


Categories: Guest post, Homeschool | 1 Comment

Playful Learning–What a Great Idea

playPlayful Learning (Parents’ Choice Gold Medal website) is a well-done, professional-looking website that  offers advice, projects, and visual images touting the benefits of education through play. The reader is drawn into the child-centered imagery and strong basic colors, wanting everything on offer so their child’s play areas can look and work as described.

Let’s back up a moment. Play as the vehicle of education is not a revolutionary idea. Pedagogy has long recommended ‘play’ as a superior teacher for youngers–

Play is the great synthesizing, integrating, and developing force in childhood and adolescence. –PsycINFO Database Record 2012 APA,

The play of children is not recreation; it means earnest work. Play is the purest intellectual production of the human being, in this stage … for the whole man is visible in them, in his finest capacities, in his innermost being.~ Friedrich Froebel

In general, research shows strong links between creative play and language, physical, cognitive, and social development. Play is a healthy, essential part of childhood. —Department of Education, Newfoundland Labrador

Young children learn the most important things not by being told but by constructing knowledge for themselves in interaction with the physical world and with other children – and the way they do this is by playing.” –Jones, E., & Reynolds, G.  “The play’s the thing: Teachers’ roles in children’s play”


Categories: Education reform, Homeschool, Parents, Research, Reviews, Websites, Writing | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Keyboarding and the Homeschooler

keyboardingHere’s another great article from Catherine Ross on homeschooling and keyboard skills. Catherine Ross is a full-time stay-at-home-mum who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. An erstwhile elementary school teacher, Catherine loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of learning easily. She believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding and blogs at

It is nothing short of a struggle to make my 8-year-old daughter sit down at her desk and write a couple of lines at a stretch, without getting up a dozen times in between.But ask her to type out the lines on the computer and she’s happily done with it in less than half the time!

There’s something about ‘working’ on a computer which appeals to all kids; they just don’t seem to comprehend the fact that studies can be related to a computer as well. And this is something I realized early on when I took up homeschooling full-time. If I could use this to my advantage and incorporate some constructive online ‘computer-time’ into my kids’ curriculum, it would probably do them good in the long run and they would enjoy it too.


Categories: Homeschool, Keyboarding | Leave a comment

Best Online Activities for Kids

As a homeschool mom, today’s guest, Catherine Ross, has to juggle lots of activities–and do it by herself. I’m always in awe of those parents who choose this route. In the fullness of time, they are modeling the best traits that education can teach–problem-solving, critical-thinking, and tenacity, and perspective-taking.

Here are Catherine’s ideas on squeezing the most out of every activity her children participate it:

As moms of very young kids, we certainly appreciate the luxury of being able to make a phone call or read a book without a dozen interruptions every other minute. I homeschool my little ones, and I have come to realize that my kids’ online time can actually be productive. Here are five handy distractions – a.k.a. online activities – to keep your kids busy and constructively engaged.


Categories: Homeschool, Web Tools | 5 Comments

Definition of ‘Teacher’

990536_class_roomI heard from several friends at a non-denominational school I’m close to that rules regarding prayer in the classroom have changed. Now, teachers may not have the morning prayer that has started their day for over twenty years. Times change and Admin decided that was no longer the direction the school was going. They continue to have organized fellowship–just not under the direction of an individual teacher, in his/her classroom.

Serendipity brought the following to my inbox. Thought I’d share:

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

‘Let me see if I’ve got this right.

‘You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

‘You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

‘You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.


Categories: Classroom management, Education reform, Homeschool, Humor, Teacher resources, Teaching | Leave a comment

Scared of homeschooling? Know its scope and future

Amanda Kidd, one of Innovate My School’s expert bloggers, shared this on homeschooling. I think you’ll enjoy it:

homeschoolHome schooling may just be the right option for those who are looking out for better schooling strategies. Homeschooling is nothing but parent-directed education. It can take place in any part of your home, anytime. Many parents who have opted for this find numerous ways of homeschooling by taking their children to various locations for taking classes like the library, museums, field trips and any other place related to their curriculum. Many parents choose this type of schooling for various reasons like schooling environment, religious and moral implications and academics.

Reasons for homeschooling

According to a recent study, about 85% of the parents were really concerned about the public school environment. The worries were related to bullies, drugs, gangs etc. About 72% of them wanted to provide moral and religious education. And some 68% of them were not satisfied with the academic instruction offered in public schools. There are several other reasons too like wanting to get their children interested in other fields like movies, avoid the company of bad teachers, parents work schedule and avoid assignments related to porn or using the internet etc.

Read on…


Categories: Homeschool, Parents | Leave a comment

More Homeschoolers are Military Families

There’s an upsurge in military homeschoolers–not a surprise if you think about the demographics of our military families. They move a lot. They’re all over the world and may want the American education they can’t access over seas.

Fellow blogger Dave Saba posted this column on the trend. It’s a fascinating read:

Start a Military Virtual High School

For those in the military that home school, or are a true education pioneer looking to help military families, there is a company that offers turnkey virtual schools.  Depending on the potential size of the school, they will not charge an up-front fee and can have the school open in a matter of weeks.

Virtual schools for the military makes sense – military students can study from anywhere in the world and VirtualEDU offers the lowest possible cost (students can sign up now for $49.95).

I know there are some military spouses out there who are ready to start their military virtual school – let me know and I will help you get started!  With over 700,000 military students homeschooled, this is a group that could use your help.


Categories: Homeschool, News | Leave a comment

Solid Education Option: Homeschooling

Great article on Fox News about the success of homeschooling…

Educating Our Children: The Evolution of Home Schooling

Anne Gebhardt’s kids are learning about geography — in her dining room in Bedford, Texas. It’s not your typical schoolhouse, but it’s one that Gebhardt says is serving her six children well. “We can teach our religious values to our children freely,” says Gebhardt. “We can teach anything that we want.”

Gebhardt is part of a growing trend. Across the county, an estimated 1.5 million children are home schooled and that number’s growing. In the span of eight years, home schooling has grown nationally by almost 75 percent. (more…)

Categories: Education reform, Homeschool, News | Leave a comment