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Virtual Schools: Trusted Partners?




Virtual Schools: Trusted Partners?

This is a guest post written by Tim Holland

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21st Century learning – what do educators mean by this? Is it just some fancy buzzword designed to make academics feel more important?

For many parents, the transition to this century still feels awfully fresh. It’s only when we look at a calendar that we’re reminded 1) I’m not getting any younger and, 2) 2016 is here – really here.

The contemporary American education landscape continues to undergo significant change. It can be overwhelming educating students who, as we’re told, should be preparing for careers that don’t yet exist.

Where do I begin?!?

Families choosing to homeschool their children do so purposefully. The reasons are varied, which is why access to trusted instructional resources is so important.

In the past decade, virtual schools have proliferated. The National Education Policy Center recently released a tremendous study on the state of virtual schools in the U.S.

Some virtual schools are “fly by night” institutions established for the sole purpose of making a quick buck. They don’t last long, and hurt the reputation of legitimate institutions.

Other virtual schools mean well, but are unable to provide instruction that adequately prepares students for their next steps. Students from these schools struggle to demonstrate knowledge acquisition deemed academically acceptable by any respectable measure.

One example of a public virtual school that has hit its stride can be found in Florida. Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is the largest state virtual school in America, establishing its identity earlier than many counterparts. Thousands of Sunshine State families now look to FLVS as a trusted educational partner.

Conversely, other virtual schools have experienced success as outgrowths of accredited brick and mortar schools – institutions with strong standards and rigorous accountability measures. As a result of their academic affiliation, educators are the decision-makers possessing quality control expertise that isn’t found in every virtual environment.

Getting Smart, a well-respected publication covering a variety of education topics, recently conducted an on-site visit at one such private virtual school. Virtual Schools of Excellence and St. Andrews Episcopal Academy, located in Ft. Pierce, Florida, have developed a program tailored to meet the unique needs and missions of traditional schools and homeschool families alike. There is a peace of mind that comes from connecting real names and faces to those entrusted with the responsibility of educating our children.

Ultimately, each family has to decide for themselves what makes the most educational sense for their children. If virtual education is part of your family’s philosophy, identifying trusted partners can provide an assurance that your children are receiving what they need to succeed today and into the future.


Author Bio –

Tim Holland is a career educator who blogs at You can also find him on Twitter @Tim_G_Holland.


Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: — dailynews @ 4:00 am



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Test Your Homeschooler’s Presidential Knowledge

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 4:00 am

aop jpeg 200 x 150


Test Your Homeschooler’s Presidential Knowledge

This Presidents’ Day, test your knowledge of the leaders of our land with this fun, 10-question quiz! From previous professions to the most common presidential birthplace, there’s a topic to challenge every homeschooling history buff.

  1. The University of Virginia was founded by __________.

A. John Quincy Adams

B. James Monroe

C. Thomas Jefferson

D. Andrew Jackson


  1. Which president was the first to travel abroad while in office?

A. Theodore Roosevelt

B. William Howard Taft

C. Warren G. Harding

D. Franklin D. Roosevelt


3. __________ was Princeton’s first graduate alumnus.

A. Martin Van Buren

B. John Adams

C. John Quincy Adams

D. James Madison


  1. Before becoming president, this man was a peanut farmer.

A. Jimmy Carter

B. John Tyler

C. Calvin Coolidge

D. Grover Cleveland


  1. Which president officially named The White House?

A. John Adams

B. Andrew Jackson

C. Rutherford B. Hayes

D. Theodore Roosevelt


  1. This man is the only president to hold a doctorate degree.

A. Herbert Hoover

B. Franklin Pierce

C. Woodrow Wilson

D. James Garfield


  1. How long do retired presidents and first ladies receive protection form the Secret Service after leaving office?

A. 5 years

B. 10 years

C. 15 years

D. 20 years


  1. Which president was the first and only to be elected unanimously by the Electoral College?

A. George Washington

B. James Monroe

C. Thomas Jefferson

D. Abraham Lincoln


  1. __________ was the first left-handed president.

A. James Buchanan

B. James Garfield

C. Zachary Taylor

D. William Howard Taft


  1. Which state is the birthplace of the greatest number of presidents?

A. Texas

B. Ohio

C. Virginia

D. Massachusetts


  1. C
  2. A
  3. D
  4. A
  5. D
  6. C
  7. B
  8. A
  9. B
  10. C


Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families worldwide. AOP follows its mission every day by creating and providing quality Christian educational materials to thousands of students through curriculum, educational books and games, support services, family entertainment, and an accredited online academy. To learn more, visit or call 800-622-3070.

Leaving Corporate America to Become a Homeschool Mom


Leaving Corporate America to Become a Homeschool Mom

This is a guest blog post from Laurie Brown of  She has a freebie in’s FREEBIE FEBRUARY event.  Click here to enter to win her freebie (it’s a good one!).


After years of watching my son come home from school each day in utter defeat, I realized something had to change. All hope that he would simply grow out of this stage had dissipated. When a series of events lined up perfectly, I realized it was God’s perfect timing and took the jump from corporate America into the role of homeschooling mom overnight. I was terrified and excited at the same time. I had been so blessed in my job, being able to work at home 3 days a week, and now, leaving the security of a paycheck, insurance and retirement to teach my son at home was overwhelming. Would he learn? Could I teach him? These questions were clouding my thoughts. I wasn’t new to the idea of homeschooling as my younger brother and sister were homeschooled and my niece and nephews are currently being homeschooled, but I had always taken the school route with my own family. We had tried both public and private schools for my son and although he had had a much better experience in private, he was still struggling socially.

Before our school year began I planned a trip to the nearest homeschool store; which was over an hour away. What a fun experience (once I got there!) They had everything you could imagine and I believe I spent three hours there (seriously) before finally dragging myself away. I was really excited but my son was less than enthused about the entire process. He thought he would be lonely and bored at home. But we found a Homeschool P.E. class at the YMCA that met twice a week and a fun Science class at the Co-Op near our home and thus began our routine. What didn’t work I tossed out but we kept moving forward. I ended up buying new curriculum after Christmas and started with new projects. The greatest blessing was overhearing my son tell his dad how much he loved homeschooling and how much fun he was having! It was all worth it! Imagine, school being fun!

I don’t want to give false illusions, there were bad days and times I wanted to quit because my son wasn’t always in the mood to learn about math, or anything, and after all, I was just his mom. And let’s face it; moms don’t always get the best from their children. But overall and truly, what a blessing it has been! And challenging and crazy and frustrating and rewarding! It has been a learning adventure for the whole family and I feel so privileged to have been part of it!

It was really out of that first trip to the homeschool store that the wheels began to churn on opening my own homeschool store. I spent a lot of time driving or searching online for products and I kept hoping that I would come across a store that had everything I needed in one place. Although we only recently launched and have lot’s of growing to do, I hope to someday be that store for all of you!

Laurie Brown

Homeschool Outfitters



Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: — dailynews @ 4:00 am




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This is a guest blog post from Time4Writing.  Did you know that Time4Writing is part of’s FREEBIE FEBRUARY event?  You can check out their freebies here.


Building Your Child’s Grammar & Writing Foundation

Homeschool parents regularly tell us that teaching their child grammar and writing is very challenging. The only thing more challenging? Grading their child’s grammar and writing assignments. The rules of grammar can be complex and difficult to remember, not to mention writing is somewhat subjective. Plus, nothing makes a child aggravated like when mom is right.

Advice For Grammar & Writing Success

Time4Writing has a strong team of certified teachers, so we asked our lead teacher, Leslie Vogel, to share her suggestions for what she has seen work well for parents and children tackling the subjects of grammar and writing.

One piece of advice she offers sounds simple enough: start at the very beginning. “You can’t create a complete sentence without knowing and understanding how to use the parts of a sentence,” she says. “It is like building a house. Without a sturdy foundation, a house will crumble and one’s writing will fall apart.“ This is particularly important for parents and students who worry that they aren’t progressing far enough, fast enough.

Another suggestion from Ms. Leslie is to encourage your child to journal. “Even children as young as preschool can participate by drawing pictures. As children get older, journaling provides a way to practice writing without the pressure that is common with formal assignments. And, the student is usually writing about topics of interest, which naturally makes the process easier.” Parents and children can review the journal entries together and parents can offer suggestions related to spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.

Still Need Help? It’s Never too Late

If you and your child still find working together on grammar and writing a struggle, consider Time4Writing. Time4Writing is a teacher-led writing program. That means each Time4Writing 8-week course is led by a certified teacher and as the homeschool parent, you no longer have to teach or grade your child’s work. Did your shoulders just relax? Did you just release a sigh of relief? We thought so.

Let Time4Writing help your children become the best writers they can be, and let us help you have one less thing to worry about.

New Course Now Available

Time4Writing is excited to offer a new course for elementary-aged students: Wild Animal Tales! Designed for advanced writers, this narrative and informative writing course teaches students all the components of this writing style as they learn about animals and their defense mechanisms. Learn more about our new course!


5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Encourage Your Writers


5 Surprisingly Easy Ways image


5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Encourage Your Writers

This is a guest post written by Sharon Watson –

Check out FREEBIE FEBRUARY to see the freebies Sharon is offering!

Have you ever walked into your kitchen to start cooking a complicated meal only to find last night’s pots, pans, and dishes piled high? Before you can dive into all the work it takes to complete the meal, you first have to clean up. Soon, your enthusiasm for cooking the meal has evaporated.

This discouraging setback is similar to how our children feel when they face a writing assignment. Hurdles are making the task of writing even more difficult than it already is.

What can we do to encourage them without piling extra work on ourselves?

Provide an Environment That Invites Writing

Where do your children like to write best (or hate it the least)? On their beds? At a desk? At the kitchen table surrounded with family? Next to a window with an inspiring view? Every child has his or her own happy place. Let them discover it so they can write there.

The family vehicle is not the best place to write essays. A setting with fewer distractions and that allows for thinking on a deeper level is better.

Good lighting is a must, as are writing supplies available nearby: pens, pencils, paper, dictionary, thesaurus, and so on. Would your students enjoy designing and decorating their own writing spaces?

Allow Enough Time to Plan and Complete Writing Assignments

Our children can become discouraged if they do not have enough time to plan, write, and proofread an assignment. When they are up against a ticking clock, panic takes over and they cannot think well.

As a general rule, allow at least one hour for every hundred words in the assignment. For instance, if your students have a 300-word essay to write, make time in their schedule for at least three hours during the week.

Also, instead of assigning a due date for the whole essay, compile a writing schedule for them: brainstorming due the first day, points in a logical order the next, and so on. To download a sample writing schedule, go to .

Give Your Writers Keyboarding Lessons

Some middle or high school writers, especially kinesthetic learners, have real trouble with the physical aspects of writing. It hurts their hands. Their handwriting is horrible. The physical act of writing discourages them.

These writers may benefit from keyboarding lessons. First, the keyboard is a gadget that does not require fine motor skills. Second, keyboarding (typing) is a valuable skill they’ll use for the rest of their lives. While there is a cognitive benefit to writing by hand, there is no need to work on handwriting during a writing assignment.

If keyboarding lessons only frustrate your writer, allow the hunt-and-peck method.

Write with Them on Writing Assignments or Prompts

Writing with our children makes writing seem legitimate in their eyes. If a parent writes with them, it takes on a new importance. Plus, it can be fun to write from a prompt together and then switch papers to see what others wrote.

But your writing time does not have to be all about writing. It could be about planning an essay they’ll never write. Choose a topic that’s on their radar. Then brainstorm ideas together, pull three to five ideas from the list, and finish by arranging the ideas into an order that makes sense.

You’ll find a whole slew of ideas here: . At the bottom of that post, you’ll find links to other helpful articles.

Could you use some fresh writing prompts for this experiment? Find Middle School Prompts here: . High School Prompts are here: .

Point Out Something They Did Well

It’s very easy for us as homeschool moms to focus on all the mistakes our children make in their essays, especially mechanical mistakes like spelling and punctuation. Instead of being instructive, as we had hoped, it only shuts our writers down.

No matter how frightened or sketchy your writers are, they could use some encouragement. Find one or two things your writers did well and tell them about it. A small reward for meeting the assignment deadline may be welcome, too.

Which one of these ideas will work best for you and your writers?


Author Bio

Sharon Watson is the author of Jump In, Apologia’s easy-to-use middle school writing curriculum featured in Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. She was forced to retire from homeschooling after 18 years when she ran out of her own children, but her enthusiasm for teaching permeates her writing and literature courses. Her popular course The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition is based on her sought-after writing classes and is the sequel to Jump In.


Why Public Schoolers would benefit in learning from the Homeschool Model


Why Public Schoolers would benefit in learning from the Homeschool Model

This is a guest blog post written by Don Sevcik – President of MathCelebrity

Check out FREEBIE FEBRUARY – MathCelebrity is giving away a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card!


Three years ago, I attended my second homeschool conference and learned a valuable lesson from families who were exhibitors. The lesson learned is one I most certainly will use as I raise my daughter. What was the lesson you ask? Business savvy.

The children in the booths helped perform various tasks for their parents’ business. Some would greet people, some would pass out literature, and some would even answer questions from attendees. Another booth I visited had kids as young as 10 handling financial transactions.

If you are in sales or marketing, you already spotted some of the vital business lessons learned above.

  • Greet people = Opening dialogue
  • Pass out literature = Marketing and Lead Generation
  • Answer questions = Overcoming objections and helping close the sale

What amazed me is that some of these kids were not even teenagers, yet they were already getting vital business experience at these conferences. They were dealing with the public, assisting in day to day operations, and learning what works and what doesn’t work. These skills, unlike test taking, are adaptive and constantly growing. Being a business owner myself, I’ve learned the most valuable skill you can possess is salesmanship.

As adults, I’m certain most of us at one time or another have thought, “If I knew then what I know now, I would be light years ahead of the game.” Imagine the lessons a 12 year old who helps out with a family business learns. I’m talking about things they don’t teach you in standard textbooks and classrooms, priceless street smarts that can only be gained from real time experience dealing with the public. Let’s fast forward 10 years. Now an adult, that same kid who helped Mom and Dad at the homeschool exhibit is in the workforce or running their own business. How much is the adaptive learning and business savvy that our homeschooler learned worth in the marketplace? How much stress is now avoided having that vital knowledge?

Looking back, if I could change one thing, it would be immersing myself more in business rather than just taking classes for a grade based on textbook knowledge. I would love to have learned more about things that really matter at an earlier age. Riggs Institute had a nice article about the child’s brain having the ability to absorb information like a sponge. You can train and rewire the brain with enough practice and discipline. What better way to encourage real world learning and business knowledge than the child helping Mom and Dad run a business? A homeschool conference is a hectic event, and these kids were holding their own, learning as they go. There were no robotic tests at this conference. Let’s face it, taking robotic tests teach you how to pass an exam. Dealing with people at a busy conference while running a business is a constant learning experience requiring adaptation and intuition.

Adaptation is vital for brain growth. BrainHQ has a nice article on brain plasticity which is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. It turns out, as our abilities change and improve, so do our neural connections in the brain. This creates a positive feedback loop which encourages more learning and improvement in that skill. When you run a business, there are multiple skillsets and moving parts that are learned at once. Many of them are related, so brain wiring would grow multiple connections, the best part being that all of the skills relate to one another. Think of this as a multiplier effect in the brain, where the end result is greater than the sum of the parts.

The lesson to take away from the Homeschool family business approach is to have our kids learn more street smarts and real world skills. That is why I will commit to bringing my daughter to a homeschool conference to work with my wife and I in the exhibitor booth. No matter what field of study she is passionate about learning, the real world skills she attains will be valuable and transferrable.   Her brain development demands it!


Don Sevcik – President of MathCelebrity

Don is the founder and creator of MathCelebrity, an automated online math tutoring and education website. Don has been a math tutor for 20 years and a programmer for 10 years.

You can find him at or on Twitter @MathCelebrity.


Don’t Get Left Behind in Computer Science Education




Don’t Get Left Behind in Computer Science Education

Written by Chris Yust, from Homeschool Programming, Inc.

Check out Chris’ freebie in our FREEBE FEBRUARY listings!


As a homeschool teacher, when you hear the term “Computer Science Education”, do you feel a little shiver of fear? The odds are most parents never learned to code growing up and may not feel comfortable teaching this critical subject to their homeschooled children. However, several long-term trends suggest that NOW is the time to introduce your students this critical subject.

A Great Job Market for Software Engineers

Those of us that lived through the 1990’s Internet bubble and “” cycle remember that many software engineering jobs were shipped overseas. This is true, but it’s not widely known that many of these jobs came right back onto US shores, and the job market for US software engineers is excellent, with a bright long-term outlook.

Consider these facts from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Software Development is a 30% growth job market over the next 10 years
  • 3 out of every 4 new science and technology jobs through 2020 are in computing
  • Unemployment for software engineers is about 4%

Wow! These statistics (and many others) tell us that the US is not currently producing nearly enough software engineers to fill the demands of the job market.

National Recognition for Computer Science in STEM Programs

National policy-making organizations and the federal government are slowly beginning to recognize the gap in computer science education in our school systems. This past October, the STEM Education Act of 2015 made sure that “computer science” was included in the federal definition of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs. Imagine that…the most highly sought jobs under the STEM umbrella were not even considered part of the STEM program until recently!

One of the bottlenecks to expansion of computer science education in public schools has been lack of qualified teachers. Public school teachers (as well as homeschool parents) are struggling to come to grips with this technical subject. With the new STEM Education Act, public school teachers can now receive training in computer science through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal programs.

State-Level Efforts to Broaden Computer Science Education

Individual states are also beginning to recognize shortcomings in computer science education and are taking steps on their own. For example, Arkansas has recently passed a law that says at least one computer science course must be offered in every high school. That doesn’t mean every student must *take* a computer science class as a core subject, but it must be *available* if a student wants to enroll as an elective.

New York City is running a Software Engineering Pilot Program to bring computer science education to more students. Recently they have unveiled a plan to bring these skills to ALL students, even elementary students, over a 10-year period! The Texas Center for STEM Education is leading a state-wide effort to improve computer science education. You can find examples of grassroots support for computer science in many other states, too.

Where Can Homeschoolers Turn for Help?

Clearly many state and federal organizations have recognized a long-term need for more computer science education and are beginning to take concrete steps. But where does this leave homeschool families? We don’t want our students left behind in this national trend.

You might cheerfully admit that your kids know more than you do about computers. So one great approach is to find a self-study course your students can use to learn computer science skills independently. Today, self-study courses from Homeschool Programming can guide your students step-by-step through the coding process with minimal teacher involvement.

The KidCoder and TeenCoder courses for 4th-12th grade students cover a variety of topics such as web design, introductory coding, video game programming, and smartphone app development. You can provide a quality Computer Science education for your homeschool student even if you’re not an expert yourself. Let’s spark a passion for Computer Science in your student today!

About the Author

Chris Yust has 17 years of experience as a software engineer and is co-author of the KidCoder and TeenCoder computer programming courses for 4th-12th grade students. Find out more about computer programming and website design for kids and teens at!


Why Learn Web Design?



Why Learn Web Design?

Written by Chris Yust, from Homeschool Programming, Inc.

Check out Chris’ Programming Freebie listed in our FREEBIE FEBRUARY event!


When your students are ready to move beyond core subjects and choose a technical elective, they will have many options. Consider offering your kids a chance to learn how to design their own web pages! Today you have many great resources to support this effort, and web design is a long-term skill that both technical and non-technical students can use throughout their academic and professional lives.

What is Web Design?

The term “web design” includes both the high-level graphical design of web pages and the low-level coding necessary to create those pages. Some software tools will hide the low-level coding from you and allow users to create web pages with a visual drag-n-drop environment, just like using a word processor or presentation software. But visual design tools such as Adobe Dreamweaver can cost money. You could instead choose to create a web page from scratch by writing code in simple text editors that come for free with your operating system.

Web Design for the Non-Technical Student

Not every student will grow up to be a software engineer, but nearly every student can find web design useful as they move through their academic and professional lives. Has your student ever considered writing a blog? Or is your child an entrepreneur that wants to start a small business? Perhaps your kids want to share their cool hobby with some friends or the entire world!

These examples demonstrate reasons why everyone may consider creating a web page at some point in their lives. If you don’t know any web design skills, then your options are somewhat limited. You can pay someone else to do it, or try to find some visual design tools that don’t cost too much and don’t take any expertise. However, if you DO know even basic web design skills, then you can more confidently create your blog or website using a variety of tools.

Web Design for the Tech-Savvy Student

If your student is considering a career in computers, then web design skills become even more important. Students taking technical classes in high school and college may be called on to create a web page to demonstrate results of a project. Computer science students learning a programming language may be asked to write a script that produces a web page in response to some user input. Or, your student might want to study web design as a career and become responsible for producing the kind of polished, high-quality websites you visit every day on the Internet.

Regardless of the technical track your student takes, the odds are at some point it will be assumed they know at least some basic web design skills. So it’s a good idea to introduce web design to your budding techie, even if he or she might not consider web design as a long-term career.

Tools of the Trade

OK, so your eager students are ready to learn web design. What do they need? A big fancy computer? Special software? Nope! Simple web pages can be created in any text editor program that comes already installed on your computer, like Windows Notepad or Mac’s TextEdit. This means that all you need is a personal computer, some basic computer skills and your imagination! You don’t need to set up a web server or install new software.

Learning Options

If your student just wants to dabble a little, you can find free online web design tutorials that may fit your needs perfectly. In fact, Homeschool Programming offers a free 45-minute video workshop that will show you the basics.

To incorporate web design into your homeschool classroom as a one-semester or full-year elective, consider the KidCoder: Web Design self-study courses for 4th-12th graders. Students can learn how to create their own web pages with step-by-step instructions, hands-on activities, and a full curriculum that can be administered by parents with no technical expertise. Put this class on your schedule and your students will thank you!

About the Author

Chris Yust has 17 years of experience as a software engineer and is co-author of the KidCoder and TeenCoder computer programming courses for 4th-12th grade students. Find out more about computer programming and website design for kids and teens at!

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