What is a spiraling curriculum and why does it matter?

I’m a big fan of spiraling curriculum, mostly because it just makes sense.  If you picture the metal wire that binds a spiral notebook, you’ll see that it keeps coming back around to meet the pages as you travel up the wire.  It does not cut through at the same level, but nonetheless is passing through the same pages again and again.  A spiral curriculum does essentially the same thing.  A child’s studies will come back around to the same ideas at different points throughout their learning journey.  Just as the wire does not enter the same point in the pages every time, the learning is at increasingly complex levels each time a subject is revisited and may place emphasis on different aspects of the same topic.   I love the freedom a spiraling curriculum gives.  It takes away the pressure of making sure we eek out every bit of learning

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Choosing a Major: 8 Common Mistakes

Did you know that 42% of people who pursue a 4 year degree do not graduate within 6 years, and 80% of students change their major (Horn, M. and Moesta, R., 2019)?  This increases the cost of college and delays their earning potential.  Below are 8 common mistakes that lead to these statistics. 1. Picking a major and not a career. The number one mistake people make when choosing a college major is picking a major before they pick a career.  The importance of this mistake cannot be overstated.  This leads to many of the other problems that students face later on.  The first thing teens should do is to identify what they want to do in life – which jobs would be a good fit.  Then, they can research the best path toward accomplishing their career goals.  Picking a general field of study and then trying to figure out what

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5 Ways to Get More Scholarship Money

You’ve heard parents say their kids all got scholarships, and you wonder, “Wow, are all of their kids just amazing, or do they know some sort of magic formula for college admission and scholarship awards?”  Here’s some good news:  your homeschooler will probably get a scholarship, too.  But it may not be exactly what you’re expecting… Scholarships are awesome; they’re essentially free money.  Who doesn’t want free money, right?  The full ride scholarship (covering the full cost of college) is everyone’s dream. Because college is so expensive, getting the entire education paid for is truly an amazing gift.  The Chances of Getting a Full Ride Unfortunately, the chance of getting a full ride is extremely small.  Unless your child is incredibly gifted athletically or within the top 1% academically, he or she will probably not get a full ride scholarship.  There are 80,000 valedictorians and salutatorians each year.  Thousands of

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4 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Math Confidence

It’s important to help increase your child’s math confidence because confident students learn more.  Why?  One major reason is that they don’t give up.  Students who believe they can find a solution aren’t stopped by mistakes or difficulty.  They keep thinking and try to find a different approach.  This leads to deeper understanding, more flexibility in problem-solving, and more efficient mastery of concepts.  These students are also likely to spend more time doing math since they are happier while studying it.  More time leads to more progress.  Focusing on increasing your child’s math confidence can increase the time your child is willing to wrestle with math concepts. Another factor is attitude.  Confident students look forward to thinking mathematically and have a positive outlook as they approach new concepts.  Students who fear that they won’t be able to figure it out may be apprehensive.  This stress can actually lead to the

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Take Time to Reflect

As a parent, it’s important to take time to reflect on how things are going for our kids and for our family in general.  Homeschooling makes it even more critical that we do this.  For one thing, it gives us a few minutes to sit down, put our feet up, and still be doing something productive! Good days and bad days Taking time to reflect is just as important on good days as on the bad ones.  We need to think about what went well, why it went well, and how we can make more of that goodness happen!  On bad days, we need to pause and remember that it was just one day, one tiny piece of our life and learning with our children, and it’s okay!  The most important thing is to consider the root of the problem and what we can try to do differently that may

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The wrong way to homeschool

Wait – I thought there was no wrong way to homeschool! Well, that’s somewhat true. Families homeschool in many different ways and their children learn and thrive. However, there is one mistake that new homeschoolers make that often ruins the experience. Here’s how it happens. Let me tell you a story… The Smith family thinks, “Let’s homeschool!” Great idea, Smith family. You’re off to a good start. Next they wonder, “Where do we start? How does this whole homeschooling thing work?” Good questions to ask, Smith family. They begin to do some research, but it all seems a little confusing and overwhelming. Then, they meet the Beekman family. The Beekmans have been homeschooling for eight years and love it. They are happy to answer the Smiths’ questions and share about what has worked well for their family. Well done, Smith family! It’s great to find others to talk with and

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what you need to know about applying to college

Applying to college: How you can stand out!

The college admission process can seem intimidating, and sometimes it’s impossible to figure out why some students are accepted while others are denied.  The truth is, you can be an amazing student with impressive achievements and a long list of activities and still not be admitted to many universities.  There are some things you need to be aware of when applying to college. During the development of our career exploration course, we talked with a college admissions officer to learn more about the process and to find out how homeschooled students can maximize their chances of acceptance.   Read on to find out how to make your college application stand out. One of the major points that he wanted us to understand is that admissions officers are responsible for crafting a class.  Their task is not simply to admit the “best” students as defined by a set of criteria, but to

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Homeschool schedule – what’s best?

It seems like such a simple question, but so much can affect what kind of homeschooling schedule is best for your family.  The ages of your children, number of children, scheduled activities, parent work schedules, family dynamics, personalities…all of these factors lead to a wide variation of schedules among homeschooling families.  There is also tremendous variation when it comes to homeschooling approaches and philosophies.  Let’s explore some options for your homeschool schedule, both on a yearly basis and daily.  Some families prefer not to set a schedule at all, believing that keeping life unscheduled allows for free exploration and meaningful learning.  Others follow essentially the same schedule as the public schools, with breaks at holidays and during the summer.  Families that choose year-round schooling take breaks for a week or two at intervals during the year rather than taking the bulk of it at one time during the summer.  Many

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Homeschooling Unexpectedly Due to COVID-19

Many families are finding themselves in what feels like a no-win situation. With the uncertainty created by COVID-19, heading back to school does not seem like the best option for creating a stable, effective learning situation. On-line school might work for some, but leaves other parents concerned about too much screen time and not enough interaction, especially for active learners. Homeschooling feels like the only option, but seems overwhelming and is definitely unfamiliar territory. That’s the empty half of the glass. Let me offer you some encouragement by shedding light on the other half of the glass – the half that is full of opportunity! Homeschooling may only be a brief interlude in your family’s educational story (or maybe you’ll love it so much you’ll decide to stay!), but you may find that it turns out to be an incredible gift. Just as many families have found that staying home

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Career Exploration – why we created the course

“Man, I wish I had known how much reading was involved with being a lawyer before I became one.” This was a comment coming from my good friend who had become a lawyer several years earlier. He is an excellent lawyer; he is smart, has a good mind for understanding facts and is good at making his point. He is one of those people who likes to argue either side of an issue regardless of which one you take. This sentiment had become all too familiar to me over the years. I have had the good fortune of working in many different job fields in my life and the privilege of working with a lot of different people. In every field in which I have worked, I have run into people who have regrets about the career they have chosen. I, too, have been somewhat disappointed by my choice in

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