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July 10, 2014

The Value of Digital Language Education for Homeschool Families



Why I chose an online world language curriculum to educate my children.

Author: Theresa Bruns, Homeschool Mom


As a homeschool mom of four, I have heard frustration in homeschool circles when it comes to choosing a world language curriculum. There are many options, but without expertise in that area, quite a few homeschool parents feel frustrated determining which option is best for their children. Even as a Spanish teacher, I had to do a great deal of research on how to provide the best world language education to my own children. Ultimately we chose Middlebury Interactive’s online curriculum, and our children have greatly benefited from it, continuing studying languages in high school and college.

One of the benefits of digital language courses is that they offer homeschool families flexibility. Courses are self-paced, offer individualized learning and are adaptable to many different learning styles. Additionally, they are a highly effective for the advanced, self-disciplined student. A good digital language program can compensate for the absence of a world language teacher and give students the start in second language acquisition that they need to be successful.

There are many proven benefits to exposing students to language and culture at an early age. Students in middle school and high school will become successful in their pursuit of second language acquisition through task-based activities that reinforce learned skills and provide immediate feedback, as well as videos featuring native speakers at native speeds. Some families have benefited from purchasing additional support from a language teacher, while others find that doing it on their own fits their child’s learning style.

The self-paced program is enticing to homeschoolers in that they can work on the program as slowly or as quickly as fits their learning style and interest. Because digital programs offer that freedom, a homeschool student who is highly interested in languages can work through a program quickly at their own pace. A student who needs to work a bit slower but still wants to learn the language can do so. Both types of students are able to learn the language at a comfortable pace.

Most homeschool families are comfortable with the core curriculum subjects and can dive right into choosing a program that fits their family; however, a second language is different because they don’t feel they can teach it if they don’t speak the language. It’s common for homeschool families to find someone who can teach their children the language if second language learning is important to the family, but that is not always convenient.

A digital language education program, such as Middlebury Interactive’s, gives students access to listening activities with native speakers, authentic materials to read that are created for the target culture, opportunities to write and speak, as well as instruction on grammar. Because the interactive online program is complete with computer-scored assessments, a homeschool parent can feel confident that they will be able to accurately monitor their student’s progress in the language. Because most homeschool students don’t have a certified world language teacher available, a good world language curriculum can still allow homeschool students to study a second language in their own home.

As a homeschool mom, I actually learned alongside my children. We enjoyed exploring and finding ways to reinforce what they were learning in their curriculum. Through the digital courses, a homeschool parent can find ways to reinforce the language, such as during dinner hours—where only the language is spoken, art and music exhibits that feature the culture they are studying, finding a native speaker with whom they can practice, attending a church service in the language, visiting cultural restaurants or volunteering within a community of people that speak the language.

When considering a language program for your children, consider the flexibility, accessibility and benefits that a stand-alone digital curriculum can provide for your children. Your children will have the flexibility they need to learn the language and have access to a curriculum that will hone their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. And remember, you don’t have to be a language teacher for your children to learn a second language.

July 9, 2014

MORE 101 Things To Do This Summer



39. Visit a lighthouse! You don’t have to live on the ocean! Where else might you find a lighthouse? There are 680 lighthouses in the United States!

44. Do some fun science experiments (with your parent’s permission). Here are 101 Effective Earth Science Demonstrations Using Only One or Two Items!

55. When traveling, make a vacation chain–this was recommended by a reader, and we think it’s brilliant!  (Item #3)

Want to see the entire list?  It’s right here.

You can also check out our Summer Fun magazine--as every article is based on the 101 Things To Do This Summer list!



July 8, 2014

Want to Make Things with Your Kids?!

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



I just found this interesting free website–!

Examples of the many things you can make can be seen here.

Key Features of Saw4Fun woodworking patterns include:
- instant download of patterns.
- easy to use, just print on letter size paper, and attach to wood.
- patterns for various levels of expertise.
- patterns feature simple, step-by-step instructions.
- no sign up required, no emails, no spam.

Sounds like fun to me!  And fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

July 7, 2014

Covering the Bases with



This is a guest blog post from

How do you “cover the bases” for all of the academic subjects when homeschooling? This is a question that often concerns new homeschooling parents. The public schools create an artificial learning environment, where knowledge is divided into categories called “subjects,” and students study a little bit about each of these subjects every day. Veteran homeschoolers generally agree that this method is incredibly inefficient, and that students learn better and retain more if they study in a more integrated fashion and stay focused on a lesson until they master it, without jumping around from topic to topic. After all, one of the reasons we are homeschooling is because we do not like the results the public schools are producing; so shouldn’t we be wary of replicating their methodologies?

How does learning take place in real life? Let’s say you wanted to teach someone how to build a house. If you use the traditional public school method, this is what it would look like. At 8:00 we would go out and begin surveying the lot. By 9:00 we would have only set up the transit and shot an elevation, but now it’s time to study excavation, so we put away our transit, crank up the bulldozer and spend the next hour pushing dirt around. We don’t know where we should be excavating, but hey, it’s 9:00, so we’re going to excavate! But then at 10:00 it’s time to study foundations, so we shut off the bulldozer, pick a spot, build some forms, and start pouring some concrete. But at 11:00, we have to stop studying foundations and start studying framing, so we go ahead and begin building a floor system – right on top of the wet concrete! Why? Because it’s 11:00 – it’s time to study framing!

Do you see how silly it is to say that the best way to learn is to spend your days studying bits and pieces of disjointed subjects? Don’t do that to your child! Whatever you’re going to teach, stick with one thing until he masters it, then move on to the next thing.

But I have had some parents object and say, “But the law says I must teach Language Arts, and Math, and all these other subjects.” Yes it does, but that does not mean you have to teach them all on the same day!  For example, in Georgia, the law states:

Each school day must consist of four and one-half hours.


It then goes on to state that parents must provide:

A basic academic educational program that includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, math, social studies, and science.

So does this mean that each school day must include all of these academic subjects? Certainly not! It only states that the overall academic program must include teaching in each of these subjects. So technically, you can teach your kids anything you want, all year long, and on the last day of your schooling, teach an hour long class in each of these subjects. This would be in compliance with the law! Now I certainly am not suggesting that this is what you should do. I’m merely trying to help you understand that compliance with the law is easy. Give your children a real life education, and you won’t have any trouble complying with the law.

Using a prepared curriculum is a great way to make sure you’ve got the bases covered for the academic subjects.   But do not be a slave to a curriculum!  You are HOMESCHOOLING, so there is no schedule you have to keep, your child can work at the speed he is most comfortable maintaining, and you can work on a particular lesson/skillset as long as necessary for him to succeed.  We love computers for the gruntwork of going over the basics, which is why we developed TheDigitalTutor software.  The autotutor feature methodically carries your student at his own speed in every subject area, and requires him to complete an entire lesson in one subject before moving on to another subject. It keeps records for you and produces report cards and transcripts so you can both know and prove that the basics are being covered.  This can free up your valuable time so you can teach your child the truly important things that can only be taught through your companionship with him.

So don’t make the mistake of trying to bring the school into your home. Help your child change the oil in the car. Plant a garden with him. Paint the bathroom. Visit a dairy farm and milk some cows together. Live an exciting life with your child, and then when you’re busy doing things that cannot include your child, that’s the time when his curriculum can teach him basic academics.



Captain Bret is a film producer and the creator of TheDigitalTutor computerized curriculum.  Search “Captain Bret” on YouTube to find his video channel, and visit for more information about the Great Teachers of the World.


July 3, 2014

4th of July &’s 101 Things To Do List


Mini101-things-Summer-2014-slider’s 101 Things To Do This Summer list contains lots of great activities and educational ideas.  Some are perfect for the 4th of July!  For example–

20. Play badminton. It’s a fun game. Compare it to ping pong and tennis. Just because you’re good at one doesn’t mean you’re good at the others. Why is that? Google it and find out!

45. Have an old fashioned weenie roast– and make your own mustard. There are over 100 recipes for mustard on the following link.

71. Learn and tell summer jokes.

84. Understand the science behind fireworks.

Want to see the entire list?  It’s here.

And our Summer Fun magazine is tied to the list–so you might want to read that too!  :)



July 2, 2014

Milk Fireworks? Yes Indeed!



Milk fireworks?  Yes indeed!  Just check out this link, and scroll down a bit–

And while you’re at her blog, check out her flower cupcakes!


Both are fun….and easy activities for a hot afternoon.

Fun–and fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

July 1, 2014

Compelling History and Science in St Augustine

Filed under: Travel — Guest Author @ 5:15 am
Rich in heritage and nature, St. Augustine holds the perfect balance of education & entertainment. My homeschooling family revitalized our love of learning with visits to well-preserved historical monuments, pristine natural environments & off-beat attractions.

Historical Powerhouses

Castillo De San Marcos National Monument

History comes alive at Castillo De San Marcos, the last remaining 17th century fort in North America. The unique architecture and original coquina walls provide an intense backdrop for re-enactors who give presentations in period dress. As an added bonus, explore the archaeological site of the rock quarry used in construction of Castillo De San Marcos, located nearby, at Anastasia State Park. Curriculum Materials Available
Impressions: My son, 12, has visited quite a few forts in the southeastern region. He was impressed by the stark differences in design & construction. Of course, he enjoyed walking the gundeck to view the historical weapons.

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

The pinnacle of our visit to this classic lighthouse was climbing to the top to experience what the keepers went through to provide an invaluable service. Although we began our self-guided tour with the climb, I suggest first visiting the museum. The museum provides a wealth of information about the history of the lighthouse and its keepers that will instill a greater appreciation for the climb to the top!
Impressions: My sons, 10 & 12, both paid much of their attention to the architecture of the lighthouse. They also enjoyed the exhibits that allowed visitors to experience the weight keeper’s usually hauled to the top.

Pirate & Treasure Museum

The interactive treasure hunt through this museum took us on a journey discovering the truth behind the myths of pirate lore. Who were these infamous bearded sailors who still capture our imagination to this day and what were their lives really like? Try your hand at sailing skills as you find clues scattered among a curious atmosphere that connects you to the days of flying the skull & crossbones. Curriculum Materials Available
Impressions: A well-blended mix of entertainment and history, the museum’s interactive exhibits & treasure hunt fueled the boys’ curiosity throughout our visit.

Other Historical Sites worth visiting: 

Fort Matanzas National MonumentCurriculum materials available 
Fountain of Youth Park Archaeological Park - Curriculum materials available soon

Exploring Nature

Anastasia State Park

With over 4 miles of beautiful beach to explore and a full service campground, we found this clean park to be the perfect location to set up Homeschool Headquarters. The campground even offers a bedtime book-lending program for young campers.  Before beginning your expeditions, view the sunrise from the beach or boardwalk and return to enjoy a swim and a bite to eat from the cafe. Explore the park by foot, on the nature trails or by renting fun watersports equipment from the on-site outfitter. Educational Events
Impressions: A pleasant camping experience with well-respected cleanliness and quiet time observations. Water & electric, picnic table & fire ring available at all sites. Restrooms include locking shower stalls.

Ripple Effect Eco Tours 

Guided kayaking tours of the one-of-a-kind GTM National Estuarine Research Reserve. We were fortunate to witness dolphins in the wild, after our up-close-and-personal visit to Marineland Dolphin Adventure. Kayaking, with our guide, strengthened our spirit of conservation with hands-on learning experiences. Find more educational experiences and resources for teaching about GTMNERR here:
Impressions: My son, 12, described this as, “becoming one with nature.” He felt a close connection with planet earth, gliding along the water as the guide rattled off information that my son soaked up like a sponge.

Alligator Farm Zoological Park

A unique look at some of earth’s most misrepresented creatures, this zoo helps us better appreciate the lives of alligators, crocodiles, snakes and other reptiles. Fascinating wildlife demonstrations, feedings and exhibits shine a new light on these eerie animals. The park showcases the relationship between alligators and a variety of bird species along a boardwalk path. Visitors can experience the birds-eye view by opting to complete the Crocodile Crossing aerial obstacle course. The thrilling course zips and zooms through the treetops above the animal enclosures. Read more about the educational and teacher resources available here:
Impressions: My sons were completely enthralled by this zoo. The alligator feeding, boardwalk path and fossil hunting tent really captured their attention. Have some coins available to purchase some tidbits for feeding the birds & alligators. Educational Resources

Getting Around with Ripley’s Red Train

Located at Ripley’s Odditorium, the Red Train offers sightseeing tours with over 20 stops throughout St. Augustine. Parking our car at Ripley’s and taking the Red Train saved us the time and aggravation of navigating an unfamiliar town. We also toured Ripley’s Odditorium, while we were there. It’s a great place to wander and wonder at the bizarre nature of own species!
Disclosure: Thanks to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau for the complimentary experience for my family and me.  While I appreciate their generosity, the opinions here are my own.
About the Author
Candy Cook is a devoted homeschooling mom & life-long learner packing a camera, an internet connection, & 855 open browser tabs. An engine of fascination, she can generate projects on a staggering scale, unleashing indiscriminate passion. As a disciple of chaos, she draws inspiration from the natural world releasing it through written word and award-winning photography. You can find her on Facebook andTwitter.’s 101 Things To Do This Summer



Summer – full of hot dog roasts, swim parties, fireworks, lightening bugs, family vacations, lazy mornings…and at some point, that spoken statement that almost all parents dread, “I’m bored”!

In response to this age old conundrum (really, how can they be bored when there is so much fun to be had?), we’ve compiled a list of 101 ideas to keep your children’s minds and bodies busy during the summer months. Many are suitable for kids to complete on their own, some require parental permission and others can be completed as a family.

Want an idea of what kinds of things are on the list?  How about this?




You can see all 101 Things To Do This Summer here.

And fyi–our Summer Fun magazine is tied to the 101 Things To Do This Summer list!  Every article relates to the list.  You might want to check it out!




June 30, 2014


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



All good things come to an end…..guess that’s true… this is the LAST DAY of’s Freebie Extravaganza!

Stop by NOW–while you can–and get some GREAT freebies for your family.

The event ends tonight!

June 27, 2014

Don’t Miss Out

home-slider-image1’s Summer Freebie Extravaganza is coming to an end–the last day is 6/30. Click on the graphic below, for just a few reasons you shouldn’t miss the event.




And of course, if you want to scroll the freebies themselves–they’re here.  Grab some while you can–and bookmark all the free websites–they might come in handy this upcoming school year.

Thank you Educents for sponsoring this GREAT event.



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