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Friday, September 5, 2014

Homeschooling College

Homeschooling through high school is my most frequently asked question --

Q. - How do you home school through high school?

A. - We use the classics! (See my lists of Classes by Classics)

While this is an answer for high school, NO ONE accepts that answer for college anymore.

Why?!?

I guess it's because of all the accreditation issues, laws, and concerns of society now. Everyone believes that a college education is the only way to achieve success, even though there are examples of people taking other paths...Steve Jobs, Rachel Ray, John D. Rockefeller, Ralph Lauren, and many others. (See more at Huffington Post and Business Insider.)

Okay, well, those are the exception to the rule, right?

Maybe...and then again, maybe not.

Does a college degree help a lot of people improve their lives and get better jobs? You bet! For many it has improved their lives dramatically.

Yet, we are seeing a trend of college graduates end up with tons of debt and very little improvement in their quality of life and job advancement possibilities. (See Ivory Tower trailer.)

Concurrent or Dual Enrollment

I previously posted about Concurrent or Dual Enrollment. My children have successfully taken online college level classes at BYU-Idaho. There are many colleges and universities that allow high school students to enroll in classes through them and receive both high school and college credit....for a discount even! BYU-Idaho, for example, only charges $30 a credit compared to their normal tuition of $152 per credit hour for LDS students.

$152 regular tuition - $30 concurrent tuition 
= $82 savings per credit!

So far, I have paid only $360 for 12 credits (would have been $1824) for my daughter and $150 for 5 credits (would have been $760) for my son. A total savings of $2074. Nice, huh!?! Not to mention that they have those credits before graduating high school, saving them time as well.

CLEP Exams - Testing Out of Classes

We are now exploring another way to gain college credits for less money and study at our own pace. CLEP Exams have been around for quite some time, but they are a very well-kept secret in many circles. When I inquired about taking CLEP Exams I was discouraged from doing so, being told it would be a waste of my time and money and that I wouldn't get the same "quality of an education" as I would taking the actual classes in person from their college.

I knew a friend in college that took every available CLEP Exam offered at that time over 20 years ago. He tested out of a full year of college and saved himself over $5,000 at the time. Now, one could test out of roughly 80-100 credit hours of lower level classes, saving anywhere from $3480-$24,000 depending on the tuition cost of the college or university you wish to attend. Details on getting credits for CLEP Exams can be found here. The average test costs $80 and a successful score can earn the student 3-12 credits, depending on the test. 

It is also important to check with the college or university you want to attend in order to see how many credits they will allow you test out of or transfer into their school. Most are required to allow CLEP Exam tests, but some have limits on only allowing 24-40 credits transferred in from exams and other institutions. Still, 40 credits through CLEP can cost around $960 rather than the tuition of 2 years of community college for $3360 or $19,200 for a university here in Arizona.

$19,200 - $960 = $18,240 in savings for a university student!

Amazing isn't it?!?

I think it is SUPER amazing.

An Example - Financial Accounting

My son is extremely interested in business. So am I. We decided this would be our first CLEP Exam experience. I read a few reviews that said it was a harder test, but we want to know this information anyway, so why not give it a shot?

The study guide or Fact Sheet for Financial Accounting also gives some free resources. The Fact Sheet gives the basics of what will be on the test. At the bottom we decided to check out the free resources to see what might help us study for the exam without paying for a pricey guide. 

We decided on PrinciplesOfAccounting.com, which is a free online textbook by Utah State University. It has study materials, workbooks, and lecture videos online to go along with studying the textbook. There are a couple of free practice tests at the official CLEP website and Free Clep Prep. (There are several free resources including an MIT Open Courseware and books that can be checked out at local libraries.)

So far, so good. We have not taken the tests yet, but the preparation materials we are finding for FREE have made this option quite within our price range and hopefully, pay off BIG in terms of lower college costs. Those that have done it, swear by it!

Even if my children do not finish college, I feel that the preparation they are experiencing cannot harm them in any way, quite the opposite. They are finding that they can compete in the "real college world" that everyone always questions us about. All the nay-sayers have nothing to complain about when my children each boast high GPA's in college courses before the age of 18.

Friday, June 13, 2014

NEW 2014-2015 School Calendars

NEW 2014-2015 School Calendars are now available for FREE on our website.

Portrait and Landscape views to replace the outdated 2013-2014 School Calendar. Don't follow the school year? We'll be offering traditional calendar year calendars as well.

Coming Soon!

We are adding several different calendar options to our popular Freedom Educators Homeschool Planner for the 2014-2015 school year. We are adding a couple of monthly calendars and a few different styles of yearly calendars to aide families in tracking yearly attendance and basic planning.

How do I use the Yearly Calendar?

One popular use of the yearly calendar is a simplified attendance. We circle the days that the children are actively pursuing education. We also write in our annual breaks and notes if a child is sick or otherwise "absent" in the notes sections of our current Portrait and Landscape yearly calendars.

Why would I need a monthly calendar?

Some find it easier to look at a monthly in order to plan the basic outings and scheduled classes or events. The monthly calendar may also be used for attendance and planning.

Should I plan by days, weeks, months, or years?

That is really up to your personal needs. However, we find that for documentation purposes having a yearly attendance and closing out your year by the school year is most preferred by those who are accountable to someone in their state or for those who want the peace of mind of having records "just in case". Monthly planning is useful for unit studies, planning outings and events, as well as to see how your month flows.

Weekly planning is probably the most important planning tool possible. This is easily managed with our several styles of weekly planners. With weeks, it is a small enough chunk of planned time to make changes quickly and to track reporting of your older Love of Learners and Scholar Phase children. Plus, it is mighty handy for the adult navigating these phases of their education as well. In fact, most families report that the planner was more useful to them as parents than they thought it would be for their own education.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Systems: Family Work

I love a clean house! Doesn't everybody? What I don't love is pleading, threatening, and cajoling to get children to love having a clean house as much as I do.

Nor do I love cleaning up after all my little piggies without them lifting a finger. Nope. Not an option at our house. Hiring a maid is also not an option, which I think is detrimental to family development anyway (unless you have extenuating circumstances, like new baby, bed-ridden, or health issues that prevent a family from being able to do their own cleaning).

Finding the right system for our home has gone through a few levels of changes over the years. When my children were very small, they loved to pick-up toys while we sang the "Clean-up Song" from Barney.

Eventually their keen little minds realized cleaning was not a game, but was actual work! Oh the shame of it all! Mom tricked us into working!

We have a few systems that I've posted about before:

We are still using the Cleaning Calendar mentioned in "New Plan - Check!" I really love rotating the monthly, weekly, and daily cleaning through my digital to-do list on the Freedom Educators Evernote Template now with the Daily Planner to keep track of meals, appointments, to-do list, and family work.

Daily Planner - Meals and Appointments

Daily Planner - To-Do List and Family Work

I love Fly Lady even though it can be a little overwhelming at first. Starting off on the right foot with some of her simply techniques for getting it all done has helped me a ton. Check out her Baby Steps first.

One idea from her website that I've used extensively is the Zone principle. Each child is assigned a "Zone" for the week. They have to check their Zones several times a day. 

In each Zone is also a detailed cleaning list of what is supposed to be cleaned or checked daily and a list for weekly. I put the list in a clear protector sheet and tape it to the inside of a cabinet or the back of a closet door.

I adapted Fly Lady's list to be specific for each zone (and how the kids use it) and also for the age of the children who will be doing the cleaning. When my children were really young, I had a simple picture list of what to clean.

A couple of free ideas online:

Multiple Kids in One Zone

We have a buddy system with older children training younger ones. Mentoring younger children in how to do family work is a must. If you don't have enough kids, think about borrowing some.

No! I'm not kidding! Once a month give your children a chance to mentor or be mentored by other kids.

We have a "Littles Checklist" and a "Bigs Checklist". The Littles do things like pick-up toys, put small trash bags in the larger can in the kitchen, wipe off cabinets, etc.

Check out these Littles cleaning...

Matching Socks, One of Their Favorite Things

The Bigs can help the Littles learn how to do chores and/or do the big things themselves. I sometimes divvy up the list to help the Bigs learn when a child is ready to learn a new skill.

Since we are a foster family, children come to us with varying abilities even though they may be the same age. We adapt and help them learn. We do not assume they know anything, yet we are always amazed at how quickly they come to like working with the family. Even children that are emotionally damaged and have never cleaned before find new excitement and achievement as they learn to be part of the family and work together. For many of them, working together is a completely new idea.

Worried your kids will rebel? Well...they might.

The key is to talk about "family work" and not "chores". Family work is everyone chipping in to make our house run smoother and have everything ready for the next time we use it.

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