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Homeschooler Wins National Video Contest

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


At age 14 Michael Herp knew he wanted to do something along the lines of video editing. Now at age 18 he is well on his way.

Michael Herp is a homeschooler with a plan and is realizing his goals. He recently won the Brad Paisley “Start a Band” Green Screen Challenge. The contest required contestants to put together a music video around Brad Paisley who is playing his song, “Start a Band” in front of a green screen.

The prize was a $1000 Sony HD video camera. What are Michael’s plans for his new video camera? He is going to enter another contest for a television commercial about saving energy. I wish him the best of luck.  After viewing his Brad Paisley video, I have no doubt he has the talent to take the prize for this contest as well.

If you’d like to see Michael’s winning video you can find it here. It will eventually be posted at Brad Paisley’s website but hasn’t as of yet.

Aside from entering contests that showcase Michael’s talent, he is working as head video editor for his church while he attends college.

Copyright 2009

UK Government to Investigate Homeschoolers

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


There is disturbing news out of the UK.  It seems that the UK government is starting an inquiry into homeschooling because of fear that it could hide child abuse.

It should come as no surprise that homeschooling families around the UK are angry over what they see as persecution. I don’t blame them, especially after reading what the education authorities believe are the main reasons families homeschool. It all boils down to their belief that families who homeschool do so, not out of a desire to act in their children’s best interest, but to hide something.

The inquiry stems from a case in which homeschooled children were abused for 19 years by their foster mother. So, apparently the logic is that if one homeschooling family hides abuse then all of them must be doing the same. Authorities think that if children are in school then people will notice bruises and behavioral problems and they’ll intervene on the child’s behalf. But how often does that really happen?

The more I think about it, the more outraged I feel about it. Whether you’re in the US or the UK this situation is relevant. Let’s look at the bigger picture. It was just a few years ago that the entire controversy came out about priests abusing young children. Only that abuse went hidden for years. Many of the victims that came forward were grown adults. I’m fairly certain the number of people attending church and Sunday school is higher than that of those who homeschool. Should we shut down churches and Sunday schools?

There are many cases of children who were abused for years. They were in public school and had extensive, diverse social lives. Yet, their abuse went unnoticed. Abuse can be hidden, whether a child is homeschooled or not.  Homeschooling is not the issue.

What about abuse that happens within the public school system? There was a headline just recently about an elementary school principal being accused of abuse. I can recall a very traumatic experience at the hands of a teacher who simply didn’t like me. I personally worked with a 2nd grade teacher who was verbally and emotionally abusive to the children in her class. She was one of the biggest reasons I decided I was going to homeschool. Trying to find any administrator who didn’t think she walked on water was impossible.

So, because there was a terrible case of abuse in a family that happened to homeschool, all homeschoolers are supposed prove they are not hiding something. If the freedom to homeschool is taken away, those same families are supposed to send their children into a system that has shown time and time again it can’t be trusted. When does that system have to be held accountable?

To read more on this issue go here.

Copyright 2009

Homeschool Bill Gets Preliminary Approval

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


There is a bill moving through the Utah Senate that will require local school boards to issue a certificate to any child whose parent or guardian has signed an affidavit stating the child will be homeschooled.

The certificate exempts the child from attendance from public school but still allows that child to participate in state activities offered to public schooled children.

Sen. Mark Madsen sponsored the bill and says that it passed through the second reading in the Senate on Tuesday without any debate. The vote was unanimous. The vote now moves through a third reading.

Madsen says it is a simple bill that is not controversial and he believes everyone supports it.

I’m happy to see it moving easily through the Utah Senate but I’m sorry to say that not everyone in the community supports it. There have been comments on the internet and in a few editorials that make arguments against the bill.

The most common argument stems from the misconception that homeschoolers don’t pay taxes that support their public school system. I have no idea how to dispel this myth. It is almost as persistent as the one about homeschoolers not being socialized.

In an editorial the author was worried that homeschooled students who have low academic achievements will still get to participate in sports whereas those in public school must maintain a certain grade-point average to be eligible to play.

His other concern was that parents of those students with failing grades would pull their children from school under the guise of homeschooling in order to maintain their eligibility on the team.

I see where he is coming from but I think his examples are extreme and not good enough reasons to keep homeschoolers from participation. After all, we all know or have heard of teachers who fudged the numbers just a bit to make sure the star quarter back could play in the game on Friday night. So, how can we even trust that the grade-point averages are even accurate?

I personally know a family who purposely waited a year to put their child in kindergarten. Their reasoning? If they waited one year then he’d appear smarter and be bigger than his peers; making him the star athlete.

With those kinds of things taking place within the school, I don’t think the worry needs to lie with homeschoolers making the grade; which the majority goes above and beyond anyhow.

Copyright 2009

Homeschool Group Focuses on Community Service

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


It might be hard to imagine that anything positive can come from these hard economic times. But in tough times people often pull together to make good things happen.

The current economic conditions are partly what inspired April Davis and Kristina Krist to form the Las Vegas Valley Homeschool Network, a homeschool organization that puts focus on community service. The idea began to take shape just this past November and has grown from there.

 April and Kristina are no strangers to helping the community. “We both do our own bit of community service,” April said, “but thought it would be great to get the kids involved and get the next generation started right so that they can make a difference in the world from an early age.”

Other than that their motivation is simply to make a difference within their community and to help shed a positive light on homeschooling.

The group is currently working to gain their status as a non-profit organization. Their intent is to have quarterly fundraisers for various local charities. They are working on the details of a three day long homeschool festival that they are hoping to host this spring.

The purpose of the festival is to bring together homeschool families and groups within the area for the purpose of fun and community service. The three -day event will include sporting events, homeschool displays from the various groups in attendance, a picnic, a talent show and surprise entertainment from the Las Vegas Strip.

All proceeds from the festival will go to Safe Nest, an organization that assists those faced with domestic violence.

The other big project the group is currently working on is a cookbook. They are hoping to make the cookbook an annual fundraiser. Eventually the creation will expand into a recipe blog on their website. “We are planning on taking this to Amazon and possibly ebay and beyond.  We are very excited for the possibilities that this will open up for giving.”

Anyone can send in a recipe but the deadline is approaching fast. If you have a recipe you’d like to see included, you can send it to Submissions need to be in by February 28th.

More information about the group can be found at their website.

If our readers have similar groups in their community I’d love to hear about them.

Copyright 2009

Homeschoolers Compete in National Music Contest

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


Three brothers in the Atlanta area, who happen to be homeschooled, have been chosen as one of the finalists in the CBS Singing Family Faceoff Competition. The brothers, who call themselves “The Oswald Brothers”, are one of six finalists.

The surprising part is that the band was formed just two years ago; the result of a last minute entry into a church music competition. They placed second.

The band will appear on The Early Show Wednesday morning where they will compete live. The situation is similar to that of American Idol where America votes to move contestants to the next stage of the competition.

The prize is a record contract.

You can get a glimpse of The Oswald Brothers, the other finalists and more information about the competition by going here.

Copyright 2009

Homeschoolers Compete on American Idol

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


I have not sat through a complete season of American Idol for many years; not since my oldest was an infant. This year, however, my oldest took an interest in the music competition and we’ve been glued to the television set for the past few weeks; watching the hilarious auditions and then watching the judges whittle the group down to the top 36.

I was recently surprised to find out that there are two contestants this season that were homeschooled. In retrospect that shouldn’t have surprised me at all. After all, I know first-hand how amazing homeschoolers are and how they can excel in whatever they put their minds to.

Mishavonna Henson, 18, made it through to the top 36. The homeschooled student from Irvine, California is now competing to make it into the top 12. Mishavonna performs Wednesday, February 25th.  If you’ve watched Idol in the past then you know the contestants need the viewers to call in to keep them in the running.  If you want to support a fellow homeschooler then watch and vote.

My favorite so far this season is Danny Gokey and he made it through to the top 12 during the first round of the semi-finals. I have to say that in this second round there are some great performers, but Mishavonna is definitely my top pick. I’ll be voting for her on Wednesday night.

Scott McIntrye was homeschooled through high school. This American Idol contestant will perform in the third phase of the semi-finals on March 3rd. Again, he is great and coming up against some tough competition.  He’ll need votes to keep him in the running. I look forward to seeing Scott perform.  I would love to see two homeschoolers make it into the top 12.

American Idols airs this Wednesday on Fox at 8pm eastern. The result show will air Thursday night at the same time.

Copyright 2009

Tennessee Lawmakers Work on Diploma Bill

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


Last year state agencies in Tennessee suddenly stopped accepting diplomas that were issued from category 4 schools. Category 4 covers small schools that are not regulated by the state and homeschoolers.

According to officials there was no change in the law but there was some change in the interpretation of the law that has led to many employees losing their jobs or being required to go back and get GEDs.

Lawmakers are now trying to pass a law that would make diplomas given to homeschoolers equal to those given in public schools. A bill was put forth last year to remedy the situation but nothing came of it because lawmakers and the Department of Education had not reached a compromise.

I’m curious to see what happens with the bill this time around. I’m also curious as to the laws regarding diplomas in other states. I admit that I don’t know much about this issue. My kids are still young enough that I haven’t given this as much thought as I probably should.

I’d like to hear from other homeschooling parents about this. What do you know about your state’s laws regarding homeschooling and diplomas? Is your child enrolled in an accredited program in order to receive a diploma or will your child get a GED? I’d be very interested to hear from parents whose children have already graduated.

Copyright 2009

Homeschooler Signs on to Play College Baseball

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


If you’re homeschooled and hoping to excel in sports through college, take note; it is possible.

Many homeschooling families face the same scenario; there are many sports programs available to their kids until those kids hit high school. Then, suddenly, programs are lacking.

This was the case for Blake McKnight, a homeschooled student in Missouri. Blake’s father, Tom McKnight decided to do something about it and co-founded the St. Louis Patriots, a baseball team made up entirely of homeschooled students.

The team, founded in 2006, plays against local schools not sanctioned by the Missouri State High School Activities Association. Last year the team won the National Homeschool Baseball tournament in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Blake had not considered college baseball an option but has been signed to play with Evangel University in Springfield.

This news is inspiring and gives hope to many sports enthusiasts who are worried they won’t get the same opportunities or exposure that those in public school get. The National Homeschool Baseball tournament? Who knew there was such a thing? I admit, I didn’t.

I encourage anyone looking for sports programs to contact both their local school district and homeschool groups. Maybe your district allows homeschooled students to participate in sports. Maybe your homeschool group knows of organized teams for homeschoolers.

If nothing else you can always see what it takes to create a team. Our options may sometimes appear to be limited so we just create options. That is one of the things I love about the homeschooling community. We always find a way.

Copyright 2009

Las Vegas Homeschoolers Build Skills Through Archery

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


Twice a month homeschoolers around Las Vegas gather together to socialize, have fun, build confidence, and to show perseverance. They do this through their homeschool archery program.

The homeschool archery program is part of the JOAD program. JOAD stands for Junior Olympic Archery Development. Through JOAD the children are able to advance at their own pace. As they complete a stage they earn a patch to mark their progress.

JOAD activities range from beginner instruction and outreach, to world championship competition.

One homeschooling mom said that she has seen a boost in her daughters’ confidence since they began archery. She likes that the sport requires self-motivation. She says that the sport reinforces life skills that they try to teach their children. “Another thing I want my kids to know is – even if you have a bad day, maybe not getting the score you wanted, shake it off.  Tomorrow is another day, or another opportunity.”

Dan Bozrath, owner of Pacific Archery in Las Vegas provides this opportunity to the homeschool community by opening his place for them and allowing them to fall under the JOAD program, which usually meets in the evenings. The homeschoolers are able to hold their class in the daytime.

Pacific Archery is like other places all around the country that support homeschooling, simply by opening their doors and allowing homeschooled children to participate in their programs.  Is there a place like this in your community? I’d like to hear about it.

If you are a reader in the Las Vegas, Nevada area and would like more information about the homeschool JOAD archery program, please send an email to

Copyright 2009

Publisher Announces Resource for Homeschoolers

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 1:00 am

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


With all the news about state legislation butting into homeschooling, or public schools banning homeschoolers from extracurricular activities; I was relieved to come across a story that falls within a more positive light and that many may find useful.

Lee & Low Books recently announced the launch of a new web section devoted to homeschoolers. For those not familiar with Lee & Low Books, it is a children’s book publisher that focuses on diversity. After talking with homeschoolers and librarians who support homeschoolers, Lee & Low Books realized a resource based on their focus of diversity could benefit homeschooling families.

The homeschool section of the Lee & Low Books website includes free activities that are designed for individuals or small groups. There are also a few articles that provide tips on how to bring diversity into your homeschool plan.

Some of the activities are geared around The Vanishing Culture series by Jan Reynolds. The series is about seven mostly unknown cultures. In our house, the kids basically guide our homeschool plan. However, The Vanishing Culture series sounds exciting and worth introducing to the kids to see if they want to explore it further.

The homeschool resource at the Lee & Low Books website can be found here.

Copyright 2009

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