Benefits of Distance-Evaluations

We can do your portfolio evaluation from anywhere!

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, 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 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! Oh, and if you can relate to the introvert thing, leave a comment below! I know that there are plenty of us out there! 

 

Five Simple Things You Can Do Today to Help Your Kids Become Amazing Readers

One of the questions I hear most from parents of young students is, “I don’t know how to teach reading!” Teaching a child to read is not all that difficult, and it’s important to remember that reading/writing (and spelling) all go hand in hand.

I am going to talk about five simple things that you MUST DO to help your kids become proficient readers, writers and spellers. I have used these methods for years, both as a public and private school teacher, and as a homeschooling mom.  Some links below are affiliate links.  When I link to a product, you can be sure that I have used it myself and highly recommend it, or that I have heard such wonderful things about it, that I have to recommend it to you.  As always, any proceeds made from my affiliate links go toward the upkeep of this site.

Five Simple Things You Can Do Today to Help Your Kids Become Amazing Readers

​1. Read Aloud to Your Kids

Do this as soon as, and as often as you can.  The benefits are endless. If you are the kind of person who wants to learn more about the research, this book by Jim Trelease is amazing.

2. Model Reading Yourself

Countless studies have shown that children from families who read, ENJOY reading. These children do not see reading as just “another subject” to tackle.

3. Label Things in Your Environment

Place a sentence strip like this one on every-day objects around the house.  For example, you might want to label the “door”, “table”, “books”, “bathroom”, “bed”, etc.  Post a color chart and a number chart in a visible place where your child can see them every day. Before you know it, your child will know how to spell these important words without you ever having to give them a spelling test! (I am not, and never have been, a fan of spelling “lists” and tests.)  The research proves why.

​4. Teach Phonics

Yes. Do it.  There is a continual debate among educators about phonics: whether to teach in context or in isolation; to teach in the early years only, or continue through middle school; to not teach at all and use a “sight word only” approach instead…  Here’s my experience as an educator for over twenty years: Teach phonics.  Teach phonics, BUT do NOT leave out steps #1, #2 and #3 above.  The simplest of approaches when you teach phonics is often the best.  We loved the BOB Books, and these little readers from CHC. I have also heard good things about the Life of Fred readers (link below.)

We used the All About Spelling program and loved this.  It is a fun, multi-sensory program which teaches phonics and spelling patterns. We did not use the All About Reading program, but I have heard absolutely wonderful things about this, which is why I am adding it here.  The product links are above. Check them out.  These were created by an educator and mother of a son with severe dsylexia.

5. Make it fun

Please, I beg of you, do not treat reading as another “subject” that you “have to do every day.”  Nothing can turn a kid off from reading like that.  Play with letters and words and create stories together using fun table-top pocket charts like this one which focuses on beginning sounds, this one which is all about word familiesor this one which focuses on ending and vowel sounds.  After you have fun with these, you can create your own stories together using story strips like these. When I was teaching in the elementary classroom, I used large versions of all of these types of pocket charts.  They even sell these for math concepts, which I’ll post about another time.  Kids love being active learners!  Let them move about, manipulate objects and learn to read and spell all while having FUN!

Next up:  teach your child to be a critical reader. Apologia’s new “Readers in Residence” series
can help your child “read to learn.!” It’s new, and I haven’t yet seen it, but I’d love to get my hands on this so I can see what it’s like. 

Readers in Residence

If any of you already have this, please leave us a comment below about how you like it!
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