Benefits of Distance-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 Skype 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! 

 

What You Need to Know Before Your Homeschool Portfolio Evaluation

I will not ask your child to jump through hoops for me. A few years ago, in my local area, it was common to hear from homeschooling families that their portfolio evaluator “tested” their kids during a portfolio evaluation. My initial reaction: WHY?! During a portfolio evaluation with me, I will not ask your child to read aloud to me, do math computations for me, or recite the dates of the major battles in the Civil War. There are, however, certain things that all homeschool evaluators must look for according to their state laws, and a portfolio evaluation does not include any of those things listed above for the states of Florida and Virginia, where the bulk of my clients reside. Always check your state’s requirements. 

We are so fortunate as homeschoolers across the country to have several options to choose from when it comes to providing evidence that our students have made progress each year. The benefits of using the portfolio evaluation option are many. Just take a look at this article to read more. I feel so strongly that the portfolio gives you and me a much more comprehensive picture of your child’s progress than any standardized or nationally normed test, that I do portfolio reviews exclusively.  Testing has its place. I have my girls test every year in addition to reviewing their portfolio and I often recommend that my clients do both as well. 

Why Choose a Homeschool Portfolio Review

Portfolio assessments provide an authentic way of demonstrating progress, skills and accomplishments. If I ask your child to read aloud to me, in order to assess his/her fluency, what would I be basing that day’s progress on? I would not know how your child’s fluency was at the beginning of your homeschool year in order to compare. Similarly, if I ask your student to take a math test for me, or any other one-time summative assessment, I would need a standard or benchmark with which to compare.

Formative and Summative Assessments 

A portfolio should include any type of formative or summative assessments that you, (the teacher) have done throughout the year.  The difference between formative and summative assessments is that formative assessments are given by you (the teacher) and help you monitor progress and provide feedback as you go along. For example, you are reading a great work of literature with your student, and you pause at the end of every chapter in order to assess comprehension. You provide feedback and identify any areas of strength or weakness which will help your student improve their learning.

Summative assessments are assessments that come at the end of a unit or course, and will examine your student’s learning by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.  For example, you may make up your own grading rubric after doing a unit study on Shakespeare. You then ask your student to compare Romeo and Juliet to Julius Caesar by designing a multimedia project.  Your grading rubric shows your student details of what you expect out of their paper or project which you will later use to “grade” it.

What to Expect During Your Homeschool Portfolio Review

During a portfolio review, I like to see YOUR formative and summative assessments included in the child’s portfolio.  I am happy to listen to your child read so that I can assess fluency if you would like me to, however, I never include this as part of my portfolio evaluation process, nor does the law in my state ask me to.

I am concerned that if homeschool evaluators who conduct annual portfolio reviews continue to ask their students to do these types of activities as a general rule, that they will be setting a precedent for this, and eventually our homeschool-friendly state will be adding these requirements to the law so that all homeschool evaluators will then put your child to the test As a homeschooling parent myself, I rather enjoy my freedom to be able to decide whether or not I want another person to administer (any type of) test to my children.  I certainly wouldn’t want my children to have to be subjected to it during a portfolio review.

Go here to learn more about the benefits of distance evaluations. You can read more about my services here. 

Tips for Healthy Meal Planning Around Your Busy Homeschool Life


Meal planning around my busy life, or just being in the kitchen in general, isn’t one of my favorite things, unless I’m preserving the bounty of my garden, or making a new batch of sauerkraut. It’s just not my passion. It’s not my “blue flame” as Jennifer Fulweiler might put it. I get that people enjoy cooking and that it’s a creative outlet for them. I get that people enjoy showcasing this skill for their friends and family. I even have friends who do this and who say, Cooking for my family is how I show my love for them. I don’t get that. If that applied to our home, my meals would say, Dear family, eh, you’re okay, and here are some chicken nuggets to prove my lukewarm feelings for you. Luckily, I stumbled upon some pretty good tips for healthy meal planning around our busy homeschool life, and they will help you, too. I’m kidding, of course. I do love to feed my family healthy meals, it’s just that I have to follow these tips and more in order to bring my family healthy food, instead of chicken nuggets.

Good Planning = Extra Time

We eat gluten-free, mostly dairy-free, and a lot of other-things-free, too. We are  mindful of eating healthy foods, but the hard part is that it’s just so time consuming making sure that we have these healthy meals and snacks ready for when we need them. And it makes me want to cry if we don’t. The key is to follow a few tips in order to provide you and your family with healthy meals.

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How to Keep Your Family Healthy Using Homeopathy – Part II – Dealing With Allergies

How to Keep Your Family Healthy Using Homeopathy
Before I began this series on how to keep your family healthy using homeopathy, I polled my readers and asked them what their number one health concerns were. The overwhelming majority of responses were about helping their family members deal with allergies.

I am not a doctor or a health practitioner. I am simply writing this series in order to share my experience with homeopathy and how it has helped myself and my family. If you are brand new to homeopathy, start here by reading about what homeopathy is and what it isn’t. You will find that there are many misconceptions about this amazing, and efficacious, system of medicine.

Since homeopathy deals with the whole person, and not just symptoms, tougher cases like food allergies allergies which cause anaphylaxis need to be addressed by a medical doctor who practices homeopathy, or by a licensed homeopath. This post will discuss common symptoms that people experience related to common seasonal allergies that many people experience.

Homeopathy in Your Own Home

If you haven’t yet bought a family medicine kit, I highly recommend doing so. I am never far from mine, and I always travel with it. I just never know when I’m going to need it! Homeopathic medicines last forever if kept in the right conditions, and a small vial of medicine can last years at a time. It’s truly one of the best investments you can make to keep your family healthy.

The following medicines can help address some of the more common allergy symptoms that many people experience. (more…)

How to Keep Your Family Healthy Using Homeopathy Series – Introduction to Homeopathy

How to Keep Your Family Healthy Using Homeopathy

Introduction to the Series

You’ve probably heard of homeopathy. Maybe your friend or neighbor has used homeopathic medicines with great success. Or perhaps, you’ve heard someone talk about homeopathy in terms of herbal medicines and/or other natural alternatives. I have found that most people believe that homeopath encompasses everything: herbology, naturopathy, etc.

This is not true. Homeopathy is a very specific system of medicine. We will discuss it briefly in this introduction to homeopathy, and will follow up with several blog posts about how to treat specific common ailments that you might see in your family. This series will teach you how to keep you and your family healthy using homeopathy.

Disclaimer: I am not a physician and this is not to be considered medical advice. Always consult with your physician or homeopathic practitioner before using any homeopathic medicines. 

What is Homeopathy

Homeopathy. The definition of homeopathy from the Miriam-Webster Dictionary is:
a system of medical practice that treats a disease especially by the administration of minute doses of a remedy that would in larger amounts produce in healthy persons symptoms similar to those of the disease

Law of Similars

This system of medicine is based on the Law of Similars, meaning that the medicine used to treat the symptoms, if given in high doses will actually cause the symptoms.

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Do-Over Day!

 


This blog post was taken from our original site and was published in 2009. Even though it’s an old post, and many of my life circumstances have changed, the content is still relevant.

Please comment and let me know if you can relate to this first-day-of-school scenario!

​Today was the first day of public school. Even though I have been gone from the classroom for long enough not to feel the usual excitement and anticipation of new beginnings, and even though my daughters did not go off to school today, and even though we’ve been into our homeschool rhythm and routine for months now and did not take the summer months off, I still can’t help but perceive this day as somehow new and different.

 

Many of my friends’ children and my daughters’ friends went off to school today and I could not help but think of them all day.  I wondered how the kids were doing, what activities they engaged in, whether they were having fun, how they enjoyed the bus ride.I wondered how the moms were doing, did they take a lot of pictures, did anyone shed tears, what cute things did they pack in the lunch boxes, and mostly, how does it feel to experience the <em>freedom</em> that comes from having someone else care for you children for a large part of the day?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love homeschooling.  For thousands of reasons.  But some days I wonder what it would be like to have a quiet house for the day.  I like to fantasize about what I would  do.  Would I relax and read?  Would I write?  Would I go back to teaching and actually make a real salary again?  Would I go get a different job?  Would I take riding lessons again, get another horse?  Would I finish this Ph.D. in half or a quarter of the time it’s been taking me now?  Would my house be cleaner?  Would I be more organized? Would I just rest?

A friend once told me that she felt that one needed to “be called” to homeschool and I believe this is true.  I have received that calling but sometimes wish I hadn’t.

Today we began our Monday morning like we always do with snuggles, breakfast, a short play time then our circle time, story and learning time.  By 9:45 this morning it was already clear that we were not having a smooth flowing morning.  My eldest was already lying on the floor tantruming, her sister close behind, and I was ready to quit.  I threw up my hands, walked out of the room to regroup and suddenly it hit me: we can have a Do-Over Day!

So I returned to our learning area and explained the concept of a do-over.  This was met with enthusiasm and smiles and we continued on.  What else could we do?

I can’t say that the rest of the morning went smoothly right away.  It didn’t.  We actually needed three do-overs today; but that’s okay because we homeschool and we CAN have do-overs!  We can regroup as many times as we need to during the day.

Oh, and I burned the dinner just now as I was absorbed in my writing.  Some days are just like that.  Time for yet another do-over I guess.

How Smiling Changes Your Brain

 

Here at Our Happy Medium we believe in the simple power of positive thinking to change big things! The guest post by Jamie Reynolds, MD, shows us how the simple act of smiling changes your brain. If you haven’t yet tried some of these simple techniques to lift your mood, what are you waiting for? You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Smile Science

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is messed up.  Like crazy messed up.  And, as human beings, most of it is our fault.  Crazy nuclear-obsessed dictators.  Hyper-divisiveness in the American political system.  Bigotry.  Suicide bombers.  Children unsafe at schools. The rich getting richer. The poor getting poorer.  Social-media bullies.  Cancer.  TMZ.  The list goes on…

And, just for good measure, mother nature decides to visit us with a record polar vortex and a flu season that affected millions more than normal (including yours truly).  Not to mention the fool that cut you off in line for your latte this morning, or a million other of life’s trivial annoyances that get our blood pressure out of control.  It is a wonder any of us are remotely sane. 

Or is it?  If you listen to a guy like Gary Vaynerchuck–and if you don’t you should–he correctly rants that we as human beings live in the greatest time to be alive in the history of humans.  And even though life seems and is challenging, we have never collectively had it better.  Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago where the world was much more like Game of Thrones and a lot less like spoiled brat reality TV.  And, as annoying as Honey Boo Boo and everything ‘Housewives’ seems to be, humanity continues to trend up. (more…)

Top Three Things to Help Avoid Homeschool Burnout

I don’t know about you, but by 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. Here are three things that have helped me avoid homeschool burnout (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 and clean schedules 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 It’s a Great Time to Start a Blog

Start a Blog

 

Have you ever had dreams of working from home? Today, we’ll show you why it’s a great time to start a blog and realize your dreams of working from your kitchen table in your pajamas! Here are a few things you need to know before you get started.

 

You Can Make Money Blogging

 

The blogging industry is growing, and has been over the last decade. I began blogging “for real” in 2009. By “for real” I mean, I started a blog with WordPress, hosted it with a super hosting company, and set it up to build my homeschooling consulting and evaluation business. As the years went by, my readership grew and the opportunities for affiliations with companies became more abundant. Today, the opportunities are bigger than ever before, and blogging has become a career and a great way to support yourself and your family.

 

Find a Niche

 

What will your blog for 2018 be about? Ask yourself these questions: What are you interested in? What are your strengths? Have you had any amazing and cool experiences that you want to share with others?

 

I have many interests and a few things that I am great at, and have lots of experience doing. My blog capitalizes on these things. You won’t find me doing makeup tutorials here, or discussing current style: these just aren’t my strengths, although you can sometimes find me binge-watching my favorite beauty bloggers on youtube. Find your strengths and interests and turn them into a business!

 

Use The Right Tools

 

This is very important and something I learned by experience. I began my blog by using WordPress, by hosting it with a terrific company, and by investing time and dedication to building it myself. As the years went by, and as my girls started to grow up and demand more of my time, I didn’t really keep up with WordPress. It is really like learning a new language, or at least it was for me. Don’t be intimidated though, because once you get the hang of it, it’s easy; but, like any language, if you don’t continue to use it you lose it.

 

Write Good, Quality Content

 

This might seem like a no-brainer, but to keep your visitors coming back to your brand new blog, you want to offer them something that is useful and relevant to their lives. Post often, and be sincere. I love reading and listening to personal stories. I think most people do. If you are relatable, and give your readers quality stuff, you will already be set up to grow and expand.

 

When I started my blog in 2009, I wrote good, quality content. As life’s demands and other priorities took over, I stopped doing this. Yes, I still shared good information, however, it was not my own information; mostly, I’d just link to something else. Which was still good for my readers, but not really giving them anything personal.

 

Keep Your Blog Updated

 

After a few years I realized that my blog was looking a bit outdated. The header was old, the theme wasn’t that exciting anymore and I wanted to refresh it. Knowing that I once was able to use Word Press to create a great-looking blog, I dusted off my password to the cpanel and decided to start updating. What I thought was going to be a relatively quick and easy thing to do, was more difficult than I thought. I needed a refresher. Many refreshers. And now, I was teaching online (full-time at this point), and continuing to homeschool my girls.

 

Hindsight has taught me that once you begin a blog with WordPress.com you should never, ever, move your blog to a different platform. Never! I was pressed for time, and wanted what I thought would be the “easy way out” so I moved my blog with all of its great content over to Weebly. Weebly has a drag and drop feature and the themes were easy to use and super modern-looking. Their customer service is fantastic, and I thought I had done the right thing.

 

Monetize Your Blog

 

You must monetize your blog, if you want to make money, and the best way to do that is to begin with WordPress. Using WordPress has many other perks, such as giving you great analytics and other things that I may write about in a future blog post but for now, just know that there are multiple ways to do this and I am still learning about all of them. The possibilities are incredible!

If you want to learn the details of how to monetize your blog, I encourage you to take the 30-Day Blogging Fast Track Course with blogging experts, Heather and Pete Reese. They even post their monthly income on their website so that you can see that it is not only possible, but very probable for you (and me!) to make that kind of income, too.

If you are not ready to sign up for the 30-day course, Pete and Heather also offer a totally free 5-Day Crash Course. I actually took this one first and was hooked, which prompted me to sign up for the 30-Day Fast Track Course. And did I mention it is totally FREE? Not only is it free, but it is jam-packed with amazing information. You won’t believe what Heather and Pete offer for zero cost. I promise you, it is just a snipped of the information contained in the 30-day course. And the best part is, after you sign up, you have access to everything for two years so you don’t have to worry about digesting it all at once (or taking notes!)

 

My Blog Evolved and Yours Will Too

 

After prettying up my blog with Weebly, I realized that I wanted to get back to regular posting, more writing and sharing of tutorials and things that I have experience with, so that I can help and reach more homeschoolers. Ultimately though, I found myself wanting to turn this business blog into a hybrid of sorts, and share some more personal things about our homeschooling lifestyle in Florida. This is why you see me blogging here at Our Happy Medium. almost ten years later!  You can read more about our vision for our new blog here. 

 

This time, I hired a web developer to help me get set up with WordPress again. If I had done that the first time, I would never have moved my site to Weebly, and things would have been a whole lot smoother for me. If you would like the contact information for Micah, the super-awesome, ultra-patient web developer who not only helped me, but actually taught me how to get going with WordPress again with a brand-new beautiful, and easy-to-use theme, I am happy to share his information. Just email me at Terri@ourhappymedium.com

Create Your Own Product

You will notice that successful bloggers offer a product or a service. I have always offered my homeschool consulting and evaluation services on my blog, but once I got serious about blogging, I began to offer homeschool courses through Our Happy Medium Academy, and now have my new e-book, Take Courage! An Inspirational Quote Journal for Moms up on the blog, too. What are you great at? What can you offer to others? Can you create a course, sell crafts, write a book? Again, the possibilities are endless.

Work With Sponsors

In their blogging course, Heather and Pete will show you how to find opportunities for sponsored work. My first paid sponsored post came when a company reached out to me. You can read this post here. I had fun writing it because it was for a company that I already knew and loved. Are there any specific products that you use and love? If so, reach out to their marketing people and pitch a blog post!

Main Things I Learned by Taking the 30-Day Blogging Fast Track Course

 

  • Blogging is a HUGE business right now
  • The sky is the limit in terms of how much money you can make
  • Travel Blogging is even bigger
  • There are multiple ways to monetize your blog, all you have to do is choose the right ones that fit you and your blog style
  • Blogging helps you meet, and build relationships with, people from all over the world
  • There is no time like RIGHT NOW to begin
  • There are hundreds of support groups for bloggers, including several devoted solely to Word Press help
  • A large percentage of advertising budgets for major companies goes to bloggers like us! They know the power of social media.

 

GIVEAWAY: A New Year, Your Best Year: 2019 Conference for Moms

Our happy medium giveaways

A New Year, Your Best Year

You’ve hear about this amazing conference and how it can help you make 2019 your BEST year yet!

Goals

Are you looking to set new goals for the new year? Do you want to learn a new skill? Maybe your goal for the new year is to be more consistent with meal planning, be better at organization, crush your fitness goals , stop yelling so much, or to simplify your life.
Sign up today to hear expert speakers on topics such as these (and MANY more) for only $20. If you register by 1/3 you’ll receive an additional $5 off.

Prizes

As an attendee, you will ALSO receive lifetime access to all conference workshops and materials, a swag bag stuffed full of freebies and discounts valued at over $800, and access to the conference Facebook group for fun, fellowship, and prizes!

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