Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: July 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Don't overload yourself this year

In the weeks leading up to a new school year, many homeschooling parents become anxious about how much their kids will accomplish. Will their little ones learn enough to stay on track with their peers? Will their teens earn enough credits to graduate as planned?

It's so easy to get overwhelmed, not just in the planning of it all, but in the day to day execution of the school year itself. How can you keep from getting buried under a stressful mountain of schoolwork and administration this year?


Believe me, this is something you'll want to avoid, not just this year, but in the years to come, as subjects get tougher and the lessons get longer. I've seen what homeschool burnout can do to a mom, I've even felt it a time or two, and it's no good for you or any of your family.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Important things kids should learn from the James Gunn situation

If your kids are anything like mine, they are huge fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy films are some of our all-time favorites, and I knew that the kids would be shocked to hear that writer and director, James Gunn, had been fired earlier this week.

Photo by Gage Skidmore https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_Gunn_(28557194032).jpg


Whether you agree or disagree with Disney's decision to terminate Gunn, this situation presents a unique opportunity to discuss some tough topics with your kids, which is exactly what we spent time doing at my house last night. Here are some of the most important things that your child should learn from the James Gunn situation.

Some things are taboo for a reason


When you are young, it can feel liberating to engage in behavior that is shocking or disturbing to others. And yes, you may get laughs for the outrageous things you say or do, no matter how off color. But making jokes that disrespect others, especially jokes about things like abuse, is no laughing matter.

If the topic isn't one you'd laugh about around your grandmother, it's probably a very bad idea to post about it online. People may not believe you later when you say you were just joking.

The internet never forgets


When you do post something online, for better or worse, it's out there, potentially forever. The disgusting tweets that cost Gunn his job were posted many years ago, but even a decade later and public apologies, they came back. It doesn't matter whether you said something last week, last year, or thirty years in the past, if you said it publicly, it can hurt you.

I reminded my kids that every photo they share, every line the tweet, and even every meme they forward could have consequences when they are older, so take their time and think things out before engaging online.

Free speech doesn't mean speech without consequences


We enjoy the freedom of speech in America, which means that to a large extent, we are legally allowed to say whatever we want. But that does not mean, in any way, that the things we say will not come with consequences.

Our kids may not grow up to be famous, but there are plenty of ordinary people who have faced consequences similar to those of Roseanne Barr and James Gunn. They've lost their livelihood because the things they've said have caught up with them.

Everything you say in public potentially reflects not only on you, but also on your employer, your university, your church, your family, etc. Employers, especially, are likely to take action to protect their reputation if their connection with you could make them look bad in the public eye.

Redemption is possible


When the boom falls on a celebrity, it may look like there is no such thing as redemption. An angry public can seem like a giant lynch mob, set to destroy an offender. Society does sometimes accept remorse and will offer reconciliation for the repentant, though it can take time.

What is always true, however, is that God offers redemption. Whether you've said something stupid and offensive online, or commited a truly awful crime, there is hope. I personally put faith in the idea that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 

That verse does not say while we were perfect, or while we were good, but while we were sinners, and that's what we all are. So let's pray for each other, that each of us finds redemption and a way to put down the stones we so quickly hold aloft when another stumbles.




Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How to turn being ghosted into a positive experience

If you or your kids have not yet been ghosted, I'm sorry to say it is likely to happen. Life is a series of relationships, some lasting forever and others ending, in partings both good and bad. Ghosting is one of the most cowardly and disgusting ways a person can end a relationship, and it is a growing problem in today's society.

Ghosting is one of the more painful experiences a person can endure, whether in a dating relationship or a friendship. I think it can be even more painful when it happens to homeschoolers, because our social circles are often smaller and more closely intertwined. So if it happens to you or your child, how can you possibly turn being ghosted into a positive experience?



As I am sure most of you already know, ghosting is the act of pretending someone you had a relationship with no longer exists. Texts and messages are left unanswered, calls are ignored, and the rudest of ghosters may even turn their back and pretend not to see their former companion when they run into each other in public. 

All of this happens with no explanation, too often leaving the ghosted party feeling confused, insecure and betrayed. It's okay. Those are pretty normal reactions to being ghosted. It's what you do after the shock wears off that determines whether the whole situation will turn out to be a positive experience for you.

You can't prevent someone from ghosting you or your kids, but you can grow, you can become a stronger person and you can use what you learn to form better relationships with others in the future. Here are some ways you can turn being ghosted into a positive experience after it is all said and done.

Monday, July 16, 2018

What to take with you to the PSAT

Is your child taking the PSAT this year? You'd better double check the list of required items, so they will be prepared. Here's what to take with you on testing day.



The proper photo ID


Last year, as my twins were getting ready to take their practice run at the PSAT, I suddenly realized they did not have the proper ID as required by the College Board. Since they were taking the test early, ahead of their junior year, neither of them had a driver's license or learner's permit yet, and we'd never had an occasion to get them a passport.

The College Board requires a government-issued photo ID in order to take the test. The homeschool identification cards many families use will not work, nor will their Social Security cards or even their birth certificates. There is a form on the site you can use in lieu of the required ID, but it must be notarized, so plan ahead.

Number 2 pencils


Bring two sharpened number 2 pencils with good erasers. Don't bring pens, colored pencils, or any other types of writing devices.

The right calculator


The College Board has a list of approved calculators. On the list are several graphing calculators and scientific calculators. If your student does not already have a graphing calculator, and will not need one in the near future, you may opt for a scientific calculator instead. These are a small fraction of the price of the approved graphing calculators, and will be adequate for most problems on the test.

If you are getting your child a new calculator, particularly a graphing calculator, for the test, make sure they know how to use it. Don't wait until a couple of days before the test to have them try it out. Graphing calculators are complicated, and it takes time to learn all the functions.

Social Security number


If your child has not memorized their own Social Security number, make sure it is written down for them. I suggest writing it in Sharpie on the back of their calculator. You can remove the ink with rubbing alcohol after the test is over, and your child won't have to keep up with a piece of paper with their sensitive information on it.

Comfortable clothing


Your child should wear comfy clothes on the day of the test, because they will be sitting in the testing room for up to four hours with minimal breaks. Because you have no way to know how warm or cold the room will be, layers are a good idea, with a sweater that they can take off or slip back on as needed.

EpiPen 


According to the College Board site, students do not need special permission to bring their EpiPen into the testing area, but it may be a good idea to inform the test coordinator or proctor if you have one, in case they need to administer it to you in an emergency.

Nothing else unless approved


Anything else you might bring into the testing area, including other medications, food or drink, or anything not on this list would have to be approved with special accommodations by the College Board. You need to contact them as early as possible to request accomodations if needed.

Don't forget, the PSAT is administered in October each year. If your student will be a junior this fall, this is the year that it counts. If they miss the exam date, they will not be able to make it up later. Younger students can take a practice run at the PSAT ahead of their junior year, but all students who wish to take the test should register early at a nearby school.





How to sign up for the PSAT

If you are a homeschooler, signing up for the PSAT is more complicated than if you were enrolled in public school. According to the College Board website, homeschooled students need to reach out to a local school to register to take the PSAT in the fall, and the recommend doing so four months in advance.


The PSAT is administered at many public and private schools, and you can do a search on the College Board site to find locations near you. Not every site listed will have space available to take homeschooled students, especially as the testing date in early October draws near, so make contact as early as you can. Do not wait until the end of September and expect to secure a spot, as test coordinators have to order their materials in advance.

The PSAT is an important test for college bound students to take, and unlike other exams such as the SAT and ACT, it is only given in October each year. The PSAT is used to determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship, and a good score can also open the door to hundreds of other scholarships associated with the test.


The only time the PSAT actually counts is when taken during a student's junior year, and if they miss that date, they won't be able to make it up later. Students can take a practice run at the PSAT ahead of their junior year, though, and since they have nothing to lose by doing so, I would definitely recommend it.

Coming up next on the blog... what to take with you to the PSAT. There's one item lots of parents forget, and you can't take the test without it! Do you know what's on the list?


Saturday, July 14, 2018

My Disorganized Path to Homeschooling Success - on sale now!

Just in time for back to school, my first book, The Unplanned Homeschooler: My Disorganized Path to Homeschooling Success, is available for 75 percent off the list price if you make your purchase at the link below using the coupon code, SUCCESS.



This book is perfect for new homeschoolers or anyone who needs encouragement as they move forward in their homeschooling journey, especially those of you who are feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all.

I understand that homeschooling can be stressful, especially as you navigate the ever expanding sea of curriculum and try to outline a workable plan. It helps to know that you are not alone, and that you can find your way, establishing a rhythm as you go.

Every child is unique, and so is every homeschooling parent. You don't have to do school just like everyone else in order to be a homeschooling success!

Pick up the downloadable version of my book for the lowest price ever - just $1.00 for a very limited time if you use the coupon code, SUCCESS, and purchase through the Learning Tangent Homeschool Marketplace. This deal will only last through August 31, and then the amazing discount will be gone for good.

And don't forget to check out The Unplanner - quite possibly the most affordable professionally-bound homeschool organizer on the market. It has all the pages you need, and none of the ones you don't!


Thursday, July 12, 2018

If I can do it, you can, too... or maybe not

"If I can do it, you can, too." That's the message you hear repeated on the recent iPhone X commercial below, and it's an attractive and affirming sentiment that I'd never thought about much until one of my kids casually said, "Nuh uh," at the end of the commercial.



It got my attention, such that I actually hit pause on the TV remote and asked what he meant.

"I can't balance on a soccer ball," he replied. "I don't know how they can do those things, but I can't. And don't even say I could if I practiced really hard. I know what you're thinking."

He was right. I have always had a strong tendency to believe that you can do anything you put your mind to, and that with enough hard work and practice comes success. And even though I know that there are exceptions, I've always really come down firmly on the side of, "If I can do it, you can, too."

It seems like such a positive affirmation, but is there a problem with the idea of, "If I can do it, you can, too," especially when it comes to homeschooling? What if you or your child genuinely can't?



Here's the thing. I was the type of student to whom most subjects always came pretty easily. With the exception of foreign languages, which were difficult because of a hearing impairment, learning things in school was as simple as paying attention and reading the required material. It just sunk in. And learning things as an adult has been just about the same.

But the problem is that if learning comes too easily, you might assume that it should be easy for others, too. If you can do it, they should be able to, too, right? Well, maybe or maybe not.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Homeschool hints for huge savings on school supplies

Some people think homeschooling has to be expensive, but one of the best parts about homeschooling is that you can save tons of money on back to school. I didn't even have a clue how much I could really save until I'd been homeschooling for a few years. Now I know!



Having grown up going to public school, I was really trapped in the mindset that I needed to buy all the supplies on the back to school list to have a successful year. It's just not true. Homeschoolers aren't likely to need new scissors, rulers, school boxes and backpacks each year. Markers and colored pencils can last longer than a year if they are cared for well.

Experienced homeschoolers know it is easy to whittle down that list, saving big time on the supplies we need - and only the supplies we need - while skipping the superfluous purchases that might otherwise drain our wallets. Here are a bunch of my favorite money-saving tips, along with a few splurges you might want to consider.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Replacing your homeschool materials after a disaster

Disasters can happen to anyone, and when they do, the best you can hope for is that you are somewhat prepared to handle the damage. One of toughest things we, as homeschoolers, go through when facing a disaster is the complete or partial loss of our children's educational supplies. You may have hundreds or even thousands of dollars invested in your homeschool materials! How can you teach if you lose your curriculum and all the extras that go with it?

https://pixabay.com/en/people-girl-kid-child-flood-water-2561562/


A couple of years ago, a homeschooling friend of mine in Louisiana lost practically everything in the floods that inundated her town. Her daughter, an avid reader, truly mourned the loss of her books. It was heartbreaking to see the devastation. A while later I lost a whole shelf of homeschool books in a much smaller disaster involving a leaking pipe in the wall behind one of my bookshelves.

The thing we had in common was insurance. Thankfully our homeowner's insurance helped me to replace my kids' books quickly and easily. All I had to do was show the adjustor the damaged items, along with proof of their value, and he added those to our settlement.

Read how my kids reacted in our first night time fire drill!

Most homeowners today are required to have insurance, and although not all policies pay for all types of disasters, this is the absolute first and best thing you can do to protect your homeschool supplies.

If you are a renter, the decision whether to get insurance is usually left up to you, and unfortunately, many renters choose to forego this small expense and take the risk. I suggest you consider how much you have invested, not only in your books and other homeschool supplies, but everything else in your home. The cost of renter's insurance is so small compared to the cost of replacing everything in the case of a disaster. Don't let your failure to plan ahead become your family's great regret.

Help from government agencies


If you are the victim of a large disaster, such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, major earthquake, wildfire or similar situation, you may be entitled to help from government agencies. In addition to assistance from agencies like FEMA, the federal government offers tax assistance to those who qualify through the Benefits.gov website.

Help from the community


Members of your own local community may be eager to help you get back on your feet if you are the victim of a singular disaster such as a house fire, sink hole, or major theft. Don't hesitate to reach out to charitable organizations in your town or your state. Be flexible if you can, but be specific about the materials that were lost if you find folks who are willing to help you replace them with identical items.

Help from fellow homeschoolers


No one knows your needs quite like other homeschoolers, and many homeschoolers give generously in times of disaster. Check with the HSLDA charitable branch, The Homeschool Foundation to see if they might be able to help. Also, contact your state homeschool organization to see if they have a charitable outreach, or know churches or other organizations that offer help in your area. And definitely put the word out in your local homeschool group or co-op, in case other members might have usable materials they would like to pass your way.

Help from publishers


You may be able to get help from publishers of certain homeschool curricula if you reach out and let them know your situation, but please understand if they are unable to help. Let me explain this the best I can, because I have seen many recent comments online accusing publishers and distributors of greed or heartlessness because they were unable to replace lost materials after a disaster.

I am a publisher of homeschool books and materials, such as The Unplanner and The Periodic Table Matching Game. I price my products very low, to pass savings to you. But if you bought a copy of The Unplanner from me, and it burned up in a fire or molded in a flood, I couldn't replace it or even give you a significant discount without paying for that out of my own pocket. That's because the profit I get from each paperback book is just a tiny percentage. So as much as I would love to help, I could not afford to do that, especially if I got multiple requests per year.

Book publishers, and even popular distributors like Christian Book Distributors, would face significant financial strain if they replaced physical copies of books and resources for every homeschooler who wrote to them with such a request.

Now, if you could show me that you had purchased an e-book or downloadable, I would be much more able to replace that resource than something in print. That would cost me time, but not much in the way of money, and that's something I can more easily afford as a small publisher.

So if you make a request for assistance, be grateful for anything the publisher or distributor can give, and please be understanding if they cannot. Remember, if just 100 people per year made requests with an average cost $500 from a large company like Christian Book Distributors, that would add up to $50,000. That's enough to pay at least one worker for a whole year! If 1000 people made similar requests, that would add up to half a million dollars. That's a huge chunk of a company's bottom line. Don't run down a publisher or distributor, threaten to boycott or spam them, or question their Christianity because they aren't running their business as a non-profit charity.