Dec 19, 2012

Is the attitude toward "homeschoolers" changing?

Since we decided to take KM out of school 5 years ago, all I have heard is "Homeschoolers don't need a diploma, they just need SAT/ACT scores and a transcript to get into colleges." There was of course the catch all "make sure you check with the admissions office at the school of choice to find out what they specifically require of homeschoolers," but NO ONE mentioned the need for a GED or accredited diploma, in fact it was repeatedly stated that these were not necessary. This bit of information is often the biggest concern for parents when they take their kids out of public school and for years I have been one of those who have said there is no need to worry!

After posting information about the changes coming to the GED in 2014 to a number of home ed yahoo groups, I was shocked at the return posts about the increasing number of colleges that are requiring an accredited diploma or GED as part of their admissions process. I have been on a number of homeschooling through high school lists and seen all the schools that have accepted homeschoolers, yet had not heard how the requirements were suddenly and severely changing. These changes are taking place at both private colleges and universities as well as state schools. At a time when the number of families that are choosing home education is multiplying at an unimaginable rate, why is it getting harder for them to be accepted into college? How will this effect  the future of the home education movement?

Dec 14, 2012

How many tries does it take to reach an epiphany?

KM was having a very difficult time understanding the concepts of valence electrons and therefore covalent bonds, so I have spent a lot of time sending her links, videos, and explanations to try to make it clearer. Last night I sent her this ONE and she finally got it. "You should have shown me this one to begin with. I need pictures, Mom, I NEED PICTURES!!!"

The question that I then presented to her was "Did you understand it simply because of this picture? OR Did you understand the picture because of all the reading and videos that you watched on the subject?" She was a bit shocked and moved on without answering me, but really how will we ever know?

Dec 13, 2012

Changes being made to the GED starting in 2014

Since I first posted about KM needing to get her GED in order to attend cosmetology school I have received many questions about the test and the process of prepping and taking it, so when I heard that the test would be changing in 2014 I thought I should share some of what I have learned. 

Although colleges and universities will accept home educator's transcripts, if your child is thinking of attending any sort of trade school they require - with no wiggle room due to their licensing procedures - that the students have a recognized accredited diploma or GED. In 2014 the GED test will be significantly changing - content as well as presentation of testing - so for anyone who is thinking ahead to their child(ren) taking the GED test I wanted to share the following information I received in an email correspondence I had with the GED Testing Service - 

----- Original Message -----
Subject: Re: ? regarding 2013 testing

Thanks for your inquiry. Because the 2014 test is significantly different in structure from the current 2002 test, test-takers who have not passed the entire battery by the end of 2013 will need to start over and retake all content areas beginning in 2014. As a result, it is extremely important for test-takers who have started the test battery to complete it prior to 12/31/2013.

Publishers are currently working on materials that will support the 2014 test, and those should begin to be released in 2013. For insight into what is changing on the test, please visit our web site and click on any of the links for the 2014 test. In particular, you might want to take advantage of the content comparison document that we have created, which shows the main differences in content between the two tests. That can be downloaded from the following link:


Martin D. Kehe
VP, Products
GED Testing Service


Good Day -
I am curious how those who take the test in 2013 would be effected if they fail a portion of the test?
For instance a student takes the test in the fall of 2013 and passes the science and math, but fails the social science and english portions, would they be grandfathered into the old test or would they have to retake the social science and english in the new format?
When will the 2014 test prep materials be released or is it not enough of a significant change in materials to warrant any concern in this area?
Thanks for you timely response.


This could make a large impact on those who are planning ahead and I will be sure to update as more information on test prep resource become available.

Here are some links that explain some of the new information -

Dec 9, 2012

Dr Moku Helps Learn Japanese Hiragana and Katakana

KM is trying this out and really likes it! Big surprise considering I don't think we have found a single Japanese related thing that she doesn't like!!!

Dec 7, 2012

Is More of the Same Really a Good Idea?

The news outlets have been a buzz this week with the story of 5 states piloting extended school days in the fall of 2013. Most want to add 300 hours of time to the school calendar - an increase of 1/3 of the time elementary aged kids already spend in school here in Massachusetts. This is not a new idea, it has been bounced around and is even in place in more than 1000 schools across the nation, however there is no proof that this will benefit the children, their education or test scores in anyway.

Many of the articles out there keep reiterating the fact that teachers feel there isn't enough time in the day - isn't that something that we all feel? Should we make a movement to extend our 24 hour day to a 32 hour one or arbitrarily decide that we no longer need sleep in order to function so that we can work more hours and our kids can learn more? Essentially this is what is going on here as many studies have shown that less hours of instruction, class time and homework are all keys to kids increased performance.  ~ I am not going to touch the whole standardized test topic here, but I plan to in a later post. ~  On the other hand quite a few teachers' organizations are lobbying against this movement due to compensation concerns. Several districts across the country that have attempted extended days, but had to abandoned them after just a year or two because the tax payers were not willing to provide the extra funding.

Education reformers are also seem conflicted on what exactly they will be doing with the extra time. Some feel they need it in order to increase academics, while others want to increase extracurricular offerings that many families have been forced to outsource because of budget cutbacks.....yup you heard that right. I am sure it is not the first time you have heard of the cutbacks - the first things to go are always the arts, but now suddenly there is more money for more school hours? Where oh where is this funding coming from? Our school district's budget for this school year (2012-2013) took five months to pass and was ultimately cut by $380,000. Washington Associated Press reports - "A mix of federal, state and district funds will cover the costs of expanded learning time, with the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning also chipping in resources. In Massachusetts, the program builds on the state's existing expanded-learning program. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy is hailing it as a natural outgrowth of an education reform law the state passed in May that included about $100 million in new funding, much of it to help the neediest schools."  How will they suddenly have more money? Where is the federal government getting the money for grants?

So I ask is MORE really better? More spending, more time, more coersion - is any of it really worth it? Each of the 5 states in this pilot program are have already been granted waivers for not meeting the strict improvement guidelines of No Child Left Behind. If these states haven't been able to make improvements yet - and in most cases have actually seen a decrease in acceptable academic rates by NCLB standards - how can more time in this antiquated system improve the situation?

The home education community seems to be deafeningly quiet on this topic. Yet I am curious to see how this will effect the home education requirements in each of these states?  While Connecticut has no required hours for home education instruction, Massachusetts case law eludes to meeting minimum hours and New York, Tennessee and Colorado have clearly outlined days and/or hours that are required. Anytime someone goes sniffing around the legalities and requirements of home educators we must stay on high alert, so that there is no chance of them slipping some other arbitrary ruling or control point on to the books.  

More articles on this proposal - HereHere, and Here.

Dec 4, 2012

The Holidays at our House

Things are very different in our house this holiday season - with KM getting older, me working outside of the house more, CJ gone for work so much and our families ever evolving beliefs we are vastly downsizing on many levels.

The last few years we have had our family celebration on the winter solstice - or as close to it as we can when CJ is home - and then celebrate with our extended family on Christmas eve and day. We do presents, have a yule log or bonfire, and eat a fabulous feast. We do save the stockings for Christmas morning, as this was one tradition that none of us was willing to move past. This has made the time so much more enjoyable, giving us the quiet family time, before the amped up craziness that is the holidays with all the little ones running around our family.

Since it was only KM and I decking the halls, we decided to go with the small tree - that is usually set up in her bedroom - the stockings for the mantle and a few odds and ends. We are not religious in any way, so over the last few years we have done away with most of the Christmas specific decorations and kept the more secular winter decorations.

We have also been cutting the holiday spending and this year we are seriously limiting the gifts to just a few things for each of us and one thing for each of my nieces and nephews. We will be baking a lot and making a few other items for very close friends and some extended family. These are the types of gifts that we love to get - sweet treats, touching trinkets and homemade items.

Speaking of gift giving I have been struggling with a lot of questions around this lately. Why do we make our kids or ourselves wait for one or two designated days a year when we are allowed to get what we want or need? Why do we feel as though we must tell everyone exactly what we want? Why do we HAVE to get gifts to everyone? Why do we expect to get ONLY things that we have included on our "wish list"? Why can't anyone think of something that someone else might like? Why do we spend money on grab gifts that we have no idea if anyone will like or want as we have NO idea who will actually get it? ~~~~ I don't have the answer to any of these but they have really pulled me into a very different mindset this holiday. I would love to hear what others think or if you are doing anything different this year.