Benefits of Florida Online Homeschool Evaluations

The Benefits of Homeschool Portfolio Evaluations – at a Distance!

Just this week I had several homeschooling moms ask me why I no longer portfolio evaluations in person.  I did write about this on the old blog, and I think it deserves a place here in our new(er) space as well.  Before I answer though, let me just say that I really would love to meet you, but I’d rather talk to you via Zoom or phone. 🙂 Let me explain why. 

Introvert, Extrovert, Ambivert? 

There has been a lot of talk on social media about personality types: introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts too. I have spent some time pondering this myself and I do find personality/learning style quizzes fun and interesting. I am most definitely an introvert. When I have too many places to have to be, too many people to talk to, and too many outside-the-home commitments, it can take me days to recover my energy. This is how introverts are: they recharge by being alone and quiet. 

Because I am a homeschooling mom, I don’t get much alone time, but I can go outside and work in my garden, or go hang out in the barn with my horses for a bit.  I need this. Fortunately, my family understands and lucky for me, my girls are also introverts so we “get” each other. Yet, despite not necessarily getting “energized” by our social activities, we trudge on and go to classes, meet with friends and live a joyful, full life.  I couldn’t imagine living in a household full of extroverts! 

I work from home as well, both as a homeschool consultant and evaluator, curriculum creator, and as a part-time teacher.  Both of these provide me with joy and satisfaction, but I can get drained of energy. Can you relate?

The Need for Change

I began doing homeschool evaluations and consulting in 2007.  My clients and I would meet in local coffee shops.  Since the bulk of my evaluation requests come in during the late spring and summer months, I found myself spending all of my Saturdays and three to four nights a week away from my family. They started to feel the effects of my absence.  My girls were littler then and I missed them!  That was when I decided to change the way I did things.  

Most of my consulting work was done long-distance anyway, and I had many clients from other parts of Florida and other states already doing distance-evaluations by emailing or snail-mailing me work samples, so I decided to ask my local clients to do their evaluations online too.  I knew that this would make it easier for me, but I never expected that most of my clients actually preferred doing their evaluations this way as well.  Maybe they are all fellow introverts! 😉 Seriously, though; the process is just so much more convenient and thorough for everyone involved. 

Do Your Homeschool Portfolio Evaluation From Anywhere!

 
Online or distance-evaluations are super easy. You can upload work samples whenever you want to, and email them to me ahead of time.  Of course, this is not the only way to show me the work that your students have done.  Over the years I have had families share their work in these ways:

* Create a blog (I love these and many of my unschooling families do this.)
* Create a private Facebook page (Love this too!)
* Create a Youtube channel (some of my families who do this are amazing and I love to see and hear the students I am evaluating)
* Scan and email samples of work
* Snail-mail work samples to me

Florida asks evaluators to have a conversation with the student as well, and the way we fulfill this requirement is via a short phone chat, or Skype session. After that, the time is YOURS for whatever you’d like to discuss. Read more about how I conduct evaluations here.

Evaluation and Consultation In One

A big perk of scheduling a portfolio evaluation with me is that you are able to ask me any questions you want to during our phone session.  Yes, the phone session is for the student; however, that time is for you as well.  One of the benefits of doing a distance-evaluation with me is that you can decide what you’d like to discuss with me before-hand and give me a heads up about it so that I can research and ponder before hand.  This is the best way to use our time together, and is the way that I have been doing consulting sessions since the beginning. Another benefit to you if you choose me as your evaluator, is that I will answer any questions you have via email all year long.  If you have more in-depth questions about a particular topic such as curriculum choices, learning styles, etc. then we can schedule a consult; however, many questions can be answered via email. 

Book Your Appointment!

Are you ready to book your appointment!  Just click here for my appointment scheduler, and choose the time that works best for you and your family.  I look forward to talking with you! Read my testimonials page to see a sampling of what some of my other families have said about working with me! 

 

Homeschooling Away from Family: Preschool Addition

homeschooling away from family: preschool editionWelcome Guest Blogger Alyssa Leanne Riggan from teachingwithfaith.com!

I am new to homeschooling (compared to others) and have been homeschooling a preschooler for the last two years. I started homeschooling my daughter when she was almost 2 years old and have enjoyed every minute of it!

To better understand how we homeschool away from family, I first need to provide some background of our family as well as why we homeschool.

When You’re Far From Family Support

When I was in high school, I wanted to go to school away from my home state of Texas because well I kinda wanted an adventure and it was hot in Texas! So I moved to North Caroline for college. This is where I met my husband. My husband and I met back in college, but did not start dating until after college. While we were dating, he talked me into going back to school to get my Masters in Education with a focus in Early Childhood Education. He was on track to get his PhD and wanted to become a professor. This path though can be very tough so he took a Post Doc position where he could and we moved to Maryland where we had our two children. Even though we found a great community there, we moved again when my husband got a great position as a tenure track Assistant Professor at University of Nebraska. We moved to our current house when our second child was only 2 months old! I have not lived near my family for about 14 years. I have learned how to make my home wherever I ended up!

We Discovered That Homeschoolers Were “Normal” 

Now a small backstory into why we homeschool in general. Our first reason we homeschool is politics. When we lived in Maryland we were not too far from DC and I found that the school systems in the area were very political. (more…)

Soul Care For the Homeschool Mom

take courage soul care for the homeschool mom

Dear Homeschool Mom, You’re Worth It!

So many moms that I talk to somehow feel that if they take time for themselves, that they are cheating their children. This thinking is all wrong. There have been lots of memes in the arena about self care and what that should look like.

I disagree with many of the things that I hear and read about self-care for moms. Here’s what I do agree with: You’re worth it! I’m worth it! We’re all worth it! Give yourself the gift of soul care this year.

Reframe It

I prefer the term “soul care” to “self care.” Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe that self care is a bad thing: no! I do think that sometimes we can lump just about everything into the “self care basket” and sometimes these things really shouldn’t be there. Do you know what I mean?

Things like allowing our kids to skip too many days of math just because our “selves” can’t take it. (Ask me how I know about this one.) Or, things like spending money on things when we promised ourselves and our families that we’d really try to stick to the budget this month. I’m sure you can come up with many more examples. But what is soul care?

Soul Care Is Different

Soul care is different. Soul care is taking time for yourself in order to make yourself better. Hear that again: Soul care is taking time for yourself in order to make yourself better.

Do you see what word is missing there? I didn’t say “Soul care is taking time for yourself in order to make yourself feel better.”

There are thousands of things that we can do to help us temporarily feel better. There are fewer things that we can do that can help us be better.

Soul Care Makes Us Better

Spending time in quiet prayer and meditation is soul care. Soul care can include things that make us feel better, for sure! However, it goes deeper than that. Eating a chocolate bar makes me feel better, but does it make me a gentler, more patient mom? Not really. And if it did, I’d buy stock in that chocolate company right away. Sign me up.

Soul Care Helps Us See the Big Picture

Ever feel like you’re spinning your wheels trying to get things done, all the while knowing that you’re running out of time? There seems to be so little time for science, math, and SAT prep. Your little kids need more play time with friends and the week has gone by again. You’re on the hamster wheel wondering how you’ll ever reach the end. Taking time every day to spend in the presence of God both helps us slow down and get to where we need to be faster. It’s a dichotomy. A mystery. But it works that way. And you’re worth it!

Take Courage!

Take courage, moms! You’re worth it. Try it for a week and see how the mystery plays out in your life. Download my 30-day Affirmation Journal for Christian Moms and see how your life changes. You’ll have more peace, clarity, and patience for all the things you need to do.

And then go get that chocolate bar!

For more help with your homeschool life, check out my Homeschool Helpline group. It can be an important part of your soul care, too!

Top Three Things to Help Avoid Homeschool Burnout

top three things to help avoid homeschool burnout

I don’t know about you, but I need all the tips I can get for how to avoid homeschool burnout. By the end of December, and again around the beginning of May, you can stick me with a fork because I’m done.

I’m tired.

I’m worn out from all the curricular AND extracurricular activities. I’m barely hanging on, and the words you’ll hear most often from my mouth those days are, “just skip it!” My homeschooling mojo has left the building. My inspiration lies wet and soggy somewhere underneath a pile of once shiny-new ideas.

I need a pick-me-up, and a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino with almond milk just won’t do. I’m experiencing homeschool burnout.

I’ve been through this before. Many times. And I can help you get through your own version of homeschool burnout

Here are three things that have helped me most: (in order)

Stop Feeling Guilty

I know you feel it. You can’t deny it. We homeschool moms are the ones who begin each year with our polished new ideas, mission statements, clean schedules, new resolutions and high hopes. When we get to May and are reminded of all the ways in which our ideas didn’t pan out, we feel awful. It’s to be expected. But guilt (or remorse or regret) just don’t serve us. Throw those feelings away and replace them with a mind open to learning why those ideas didn’t pan out. For me, it’s usually because of one of these three things: (more…)

Why Play Should be an Integral Part of Your Homeschool

homeschool in florida

Let Your Children Play

Lately everywhere I turn, homeschooling parents are asking the question, “is my child doing enough to get ahead?” We are forgetting that play should be an important part of your homeschool curriculum.

The pressure on young children today is incredible. Even the developers of PBS believe that the biggest obstacle American children face in terms of education is being unprepared for kindergarten. 

No wonder parents are worried! Not only are parents over-teaching, but they are also over-scheduling, I believe it’s being done out of fear, and it’s not necessary. 

Over-scheduling

Consider this schedule: phonics lessons and grammar lessons in the morning, music and Mandarin lessons in the afternoon, and in between all of that, Moms are forcing their young children to work in newly- purchased math workbooks and insisting that they complete multiplication and division problems. The words “algebra” and “geometry” are being tossed around at play dates.

These parents really think that they are doing the right thing. They’re giving their children a “leg up” right?

They are not. Here’s why.

Developmental Milestones

First, young children are not developmentally ready to pursue such academic activities. Are some seemingly “able” to do this type of academic work? Perhaps. But a completed worksheet does not equal a deep learning for a subject matter and even if you believe that your child is ready, there is evidence that doing so is more harmful than helpful.

Take a look at this article written by a mathematician </a>for reasons why worksheets should not be used with young children.

Just because they can, doesn’t mean they should.

Secondly, the importance of play has been so overlooked in the last decade or two that it is shameful.  Here’s what Edward Miller and Joan Almon say in their book Crisis In The Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School.

(more…)

When You Feel Like a Homeschool Failure

This guest post is part of our 30 Days of Homeschool: The Good, The Bad & The In-Between Blog Series

feeling like a homeschool failure

Feeling Like a Homeschool Failure

When you begin homeschooling, it can be a scary and daunting place to be and you wonder if you’ll feel like a homeschool failure. You see all these Pinterest-worthy, perfect homeschooling families, and you can’t even manage to pick a curriculum. You immediately go to the negative place in your mind when you think you are a homeschool failure. You begin spouting off things like: I‘m going to ruin my kids, they’ll never amount to anything, I’m so stupid for thinking I could do this, people are going to judge me. That last one is the number one reason I see people question their ability to educate their children at home.


Homeschooling is “Different”

“But it’s different” seems to be the go-to reason behind their fear. Why is being different such a bad thing? It’s better to be different. Who wants to be the same as everyone else? If you’re even thinking about homeschooling, one of those reasons is because something isn’t right with the public school system, and you feel that it would benefit your family to homeschool. You already thinking differently. If you’ve ever read my blog (The Balanced Living Mama) you know that I strongly disagree with public school, and all it stands for. I think that we homeschoolers should strive to be as different from the public schools as possible.

(more…)

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