Top Five Reasons to Attend A Homeschool Conference

Attending a Homeschool Conference Can Help Avoid Burnout

Let’s face it. We all go through periods of homeschool burnout. Not because we don’t love our children or because we don’t enjoy teaching our own, but because without an opportunity to recharge ourselves, homeschool can be hard, exhausting, and mentally taxing. Attending a conference can lift us up emotionally and spiritually. Coming together with like-minded travelers refreshes us in ways that other things can’t.

Attending a Homeschool Conference Can Inspire Us

I have been a speaker at several homeschool conferences, and not only do I hear comments like, “I hadn’t thought of that before!” and “Thank you for opening my eyes to a new way,” I, too, come away with new and fresh ways of looking at things. Bouncing ideas off of one another, and listening to how others do it is never anything but inspiring.

Attending a Homeschool Conference Can Teach Your Kids to Take Ownership of Their Learning

One of the best things I ever did was take my children to a homeschool conference when they were young. They sat in a few sessions with me, saw the camaraderie among the families, and made new friends. My children were able were able to browse the unbelievable amounts of curriculum choices at the vendor hall. Not only that, but they were able to make choices about what they wanted to learn. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I am a HUGE proponent of natural learning. Allowing your children to choose their own curriculum is natural learning at its finest.

Attending a Homeschool Conference Can Help Us Build Community

Attending a homeschool conference (either online or in a conference center) can help us to “find our people.” I have made so many new friends simply from attending conferences over the years. We all know that community is super important to helping us stay grounded in our focus and in helping us when we feel that homeschool burnout creep in. Homeschool conferences are the perfect place for us to meet like-minded people!

Attending a Homeschool Conference Can Make Us Better Teachers of Our Own

While I love our local FPEA conference, personally, I prefer an online homeschool conference. There are many benefits to online conferences including:

  • lifetime access to sessions (no need to frantically take notes so you don’t miss anything!)
  • convenience (watch after the kids are in bed!)
  • internalize content (watch over and over again until you internalize it)
  • interact with the speakers and attendees (leave comments in the comments area so that you can dialogue with the speakers and other attendees)
  • social media fun (prizes and giveaways)
  • digital swag bags (USEFUL freebies and less “stuff” to bring home to add to your pile)
  • access to the speakers for a LIFETIME (many people who have attended my sessions over the years have become friends – you never lose access to the speakers after they’ve “gone offstage”.

Here is a Sneak Peek of the 2019 Homeschool Mom Conference which begins soon! EARLY BIRD registration begins Wednesday, April 24th. Take your sneak peek TODAY .

Refresh yourself, grab some inspiration, and I’ll see you at the 2019 Homeschool Mom Conference! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…)

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