Category Archives: Staying Current

Free Homeschool Transcript Template

I found this & just had to pass it on!  It is a transcript template (EXCEL version) that is so easy to use.  Just fill in the fields & it does all the work for you of averaging grades & such.

Create professional homeschool transcripts easily!
Download PEAH’s Free Homeschool Transcript Template

Can I Homeschool & Work Too?

Guest Blogger

Texas Home School Coalition Association REVIEW © February 2008

by: Holly Williams Urbach

When I started teaching my children at home in 1993, it was rare for me to meet a home schooling mother who worked outside the home. We home educators met at our local park and commiserated on the challenges of tackling lesson plans and getting dinner on the table each night. Our husbands worked full-time, or more, to support the school lunch program, and we wives worked hard to stretch the income as far as possible. We swapped curriculum and clothes with each other, along with recipes designed to make the most use of the available items in our pantries.

Contrast the above scenario with 2007, when quite a few of my home educating friends and acquaintances work either from home or outside the home. While there are many families living on one income, increasing numbers of households are finding it more and more difficult to do so for a variety of reasons. When I counsel new home schoolers these days, many ask me if it is possible to work and homeschool.

My family and I are part of the growing trend of home educating families in which both parents are working. When we realized that I would have to begin working, my husband and I determined to continue home educating our children. We did not want to shortchange our children as a result of the difficulties we were having financially.

I am extremely fortunate to work part-time for a company that allows me flexible hours. I know of families with home-based businesses who face the same time crunch that I have working outside my home. I believe it is likely that we will find home schooling families where both parents work more common in the coming years. Whether working outside the home or from home, combining work and school is a task that requires creativity, energy, and determination.

Even with all the perks of my situation, I find it challenging to combine work and schooling.  Following are some ideas and strategies I use to manage home, school, and extra-curricular activities while holding a job.

One of the first things to do is develop a workable schedule. Obviously, a lot depends on the age and activities of your children. My four children still at home range in age from thirteen to nineteen. Since they are teenagers who require and desire a lot of sleep, I work mornings while they are still sleeping. When I arrive home around 1 p.m., they have gotten out of bed, eaten and dressed, and they are already working on independent assignments. We then have between 1:30 and 6 p.m. to complete their studies for the day. I have students who are well-rested and ready to learn.

When I worked two afternoons a week, I struggled to accomplish schoolwork in the mornings prior to leaving for work. The children were sleepy and sluggish. I was frustrated and felt that everything was rushed and seldom accomplished to my satisfaction. Our new schedule works much better for all of us. Determining your most productive work and school hours is the first step in making school and work successful.

The next thing to consider is what curriculum to use. A teacher who is also working may not have the preparation time available that she would like to have. Many employed home schooling parents find that computer or video curricula fill the need nicely for their students. I would caution parents not to use such curricula for all subjects, because students need variety and adult feedback to help them learn effectively. Others hire tutors or send their children to outside classes for some of their instruction.

At times, I have utilized outside classes and co-ops to help meet the needs of my students in science and math, freeing me to delve more deeply into history, literature, Bible, and foreign languages. These classes make my available time with my students more productive. The point is, take a deep look into your family’s needs and develop a plan that helps you not only to survive but also to thrive in your situation. Any frustration you encounter in your schedule is a natural alarm, telling you that something still needs adjusting. Pray about it and seek God’s direction on how to resolve the situation.

With the work/school schedule planned and the curriculum squared, the next big consideration is how to deal with housework, meals, and outside commitments such as Boy Scouts, 4-H, kids work, etc. My family and I take time to discuss housework issues, and the children and I divide the responsibilities between us. The great thing about this plan is that my sons are learning to launder clothes, cook, and keep house just as well as my daughter. We all pitch in to get the work done so no one has to spend a lot of time doing housework.

Meal preparation is time consuming enough for parents at home full-time, so having less time due to working outside the home can cause a lot of stress. I try to make things ahead of time over the weekend, so getting a meal on the table during the school week is easier. I use my crock pot as much as I can. I have many cookbooks that contain recipes for cooking in quantity and freezing meals ahead of time, to best utilize the time I have available.(Once a Month Cooking by Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson and Jill Bond’s Dinner’s in the Freezer are two favorites.) I also solicit my children’s help in preparing meals. I reap the benefits of more time with my children and reduced time in the kitchen. Planning and executing a menu is essential to streamlining meal preparation as well as keeping expenses down by avoiding the fast-food trap.

My daughter has a part-time job, and she and my youngest son are active in 4-H. Such additional activities are worthwhile enough to our family to factor into our schedule the time they take. We have found 4-H to be a great program for our family, because each child can participate in an area of their own interest as we take monthly trips together to the meetings.  Another great thing about 4-H is that it helps our home schooling so that we work smarter rather than harder. Finding an activity that the whole family enjoys together is a great way to manage the time spent out of the home. Each family can find activities that add enough to the family that they also justify the time taken to participate in them.

Do I long for the days when I was home all day with my children? I certainly do. I have actually started a home-based business for just that reason. Once my business replaces the income from my part-time job, I will once again be at home all day with my children. I will still face that juggling act that comes with working and homeschooling, but I think that my children and I will all have gained a greater understanding of what it means to work together as a team and of how to adapt to changing situations. In the world we face today, those will be valuable and useful abilities for all of us.

Meet Holly Urbach

Time to vote for the best Homeschool blog

It’s that time again to vote for your favorite Homeschool blog.


You can see Jacque’s pick here.  Or go to the home of the Homeschool Blog Awards here.

There are instructions there for you.  It is easy.  I’m on my way over there now to cast my vote.  I like this because it also exposes me to many new blogs that I didn’t know about that I can add to my blog roll.

Join Us at the HSBA!

You Can Correct & Prevent Dyslexia

I have 2 children with varying degrees of dyslexia.  It has been a challenge to teach them, but it has been done.  We used techniques that others didn’t agree with, but it worked for us.  Finally, I found an “expert” who supports what we did & says that it works.  We knew that it did, but it always helps to have a expert say it also.  We did not raise our children under the umbrella of “disability”  We never told them that something was wrong.  They are not special needs, they have learning challenges.  Who doesn’t have learning challenges, but theirs is just a little more complicated.  Here is an excellent article that showed up in the THSC  newsletter.  I would suggest htat you share it with anyone who is struggling with a child.


You Can Prevent and Correct Dyslexia

 Sue Ellen Haning


Texas Home School Coalition Association REVIEW © February 2005

Dyslexia is a fairly new word (I could not find it in the 1971 Oxford English Dictionary), but it is one that we see and hear with increasing frequency, and it has become a buzzword in the educational community. Although each of the many books and articles written on the subject of dyslexia has a slightly different spin, the common ground most share is the death sentence to the student and his or her parents. I have even read, “Once dyslexic, always dyslexic.” Is this death sentence a reflection of current societal thinking? (Victims are everywhere.) Is the word “dyslexia” a scapegoat for the school system in which such labels originate and which receive funds for students in special programs? How many sleepless nights have mothers and fathers spent blaming themselves–or just lying awake trying to engineer a way to remove the unfortunate label–while the powers that be (teachers, administrators, doctors) slam the gavel on the child’s file, condemning him or her to a life of special classes that go on and on, year after year, seeming to make little, if any, difference in the child’s ability to progress? As a parent, I would strongly resist any label that anyone wanted to put on my child.

My education degree is not in special education, but I have thirty-three years of experience teaching “dyslexics” in the classroom and in private tutoring. My students have ranged in age from five to thirty-five, and many have been labeleddyslexic” for years. Their symptoms include problems in reading, spelling, and comprehension; poor decoding skills (inability to read phonetically); terrible handwriting and reversals; auditory processing problems (inability to store and retrieve information presented auditorially); visual processing problems; attention deficit disorders; hyperactive disorders; etc. There seems to be no end to the symptoms attached to the label. Most of these students have attended special classes specifically designed for them. While well intentioned, these classes move the student along at a snail’s pace or not at all, and most use the same teaching techniques that did not work for the student in the first place. Self-esteem work is often a major part of these classes. Our society seems to value positive strokes above real learning, and coddling ourselves above challenging ourselves, and it does not understand that self-esteem is a natural by-product of personal accomplishment.

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) defines dyslexia as a “specific learning disorder that is neurological in origin,” meaning that dyslexia is a nervous system malfunction. I disagree with the IDA that all diagnoses of dyslexia are neurological in origin; however, I do not doubt that 20-25% of the population has some degree of learning difference—not disorder. We are all unique in our learning styles. Some understand numbers better than words. Some have auditory strengths; some have visual strengths. Some are kinesthetic. Some have a mixture of two or more of the preceding. The diagnosis of dyslexia relieves “the system” of responsibility, but it does not necessarily help the student who is having trouble learning.


To facilitate the educational system, all students are expected to operate within one learning style. Professionals in both the educational and medical fields encourage—indeed often demand—that a child take one or more of the popular drugs to help force him into the mold. Ritalin is just one drug prescribed to millions of America’s children, and its chemistry is so close to cocaine that it takes a chemist to tell the difference. I encourage you to read You Can Prevent or Correct Learning Disorders by Dr. Hilde Mosse. If you are not up for reading the entire book, please read the pages devoted to drug use in children.

More often than not, my experience with “dyslexics” has exposed environmental causes rather than neurological ones. Environmental causes are preventable and correctable. In order to learn well, children need daily, frequent, verbal interaction with adults—the complete sentence type of dialogue. The language and perception skills a child learns from personal, face-to-face, frequent, daily dialogue with an adult will go a long way in preventing learning problems by building good thinking skills. What keeps these good skills from forming?


Television, in my opinion, single-handedly causes more harm to children’s learning than diet, day care, and dairy products combined. This ingenious invention can connect us to the rest of the world and teach us much about the world and the people in it, but in my opinion, the destructive aspects of TV outweigh the constructive ones. Television continually stimulates the viewer both auditorially and visually, with short, choppy thoughts—which shorten attention spans. Children’s programs are the worst, as they constantly jump from one focus to another. Family shows are not any better, with their constant interruption by commercials (which often focus on a pill to solve our ills). In many homes this TV monster is on much of the day and night, even when no one is watching. Parents say, “Oh, our children don’t watch TV.” Further questions reveal that the children may not watch the TV, but it is on nevertheless, and what are the children doing while the parents are watching TV? They are engaged with and entertained by other electronic devices such as the computer, video games, books on tape, etc. The same attention and learning problems result from these toys. No amount of technology can replace the one-on-one, face-to-face, positive interaction with adults through dialogue and reading.

There are other environmental causes of learning problems and hyperactivity that I have directly addressed with my students and their parents: disorganization (household and personal), cluttered walls at home and school (visual stimuli), inconsistency in all aspects of life, too many outside activities, pressure to hurry, noisy study environment, too little rest, MSG and other food additives, emotional turmoil, chaos, and tension at home and in the classroom. It is impossible for a child to concentrate for any period of time when he is overly excited or overly stimulated in any way. Most children are over-stimulated day and night. No wonder so many are hyperactive. “But we live in the twenty-first century,” you say. “This is part of life.” You must determine if it is more important for your child to fit into the culture or for him to have a good foundation for life.

The educational system inadvertently creates problems too. Often the copy method is used in teaching children to form letters and numbers. The teacher stands at the board in front of the students and forms a letter or number with little or no instruction in how to accomplish this task, and the student must try to mimic the forming of this letter or number on his paper. Casual teaching is popular, with the belief the child will get it in his own time. The correct formation of each letter and number must be taught, and then the student must practice it correctly. In English, we read and write from left to right and top to bottom. Beginning readers and writers must have consistent practice in forming their letters from left to right and top to bottom. The copy method often results in the student beginning the letter at the bottom and going to the top or starting the letter on the right side and going back to the left. Constant practice in forming the letters inaccurately teaches the brain to address the written word incorrectly, and dyslexia is born. Teaching rhyming words—bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, pat, rat, sat, etc.—trains the child to look at the end (right side) of the word first and then look back to the beginning of the word (left side). We read from left to right—not from right to left. This may seem simple or inconsequential, but to a beginning reader and writer, it is very significant. Teaching systematically is imperative in preventing or correcting writing and reading disorders.

The popular use of workbooks that require one-word answers inhibits language development also. The child usually chooses from a list of four words to complete the sentence. The child may not even be able to read all the words in the sentence but can often make a correct choice. In workbook assignments, the student does not have to engage the entire language. The language appears in bits and pieces (what goes in the blank). Active practice in writing and speaking in complete sentences advances language skills.

Another hazard to linear reading is the comic book or cartoon. The inconsistent placement of words and the visual stimulation of the pictures encourage scanning and picture-gazing. Often children look for the pictures to tell the story and read only a word or two of a caption on pages where the pictures do not tell the story. Comic book reading may not cause a problem in the experienced reader, but it hinders linear reading progress in the young or beginning reader and in the child who has a learning difference.

While the educational system creates some learning problems, others actually happen accidentally as the child grows. One correctable neurological problem is crossed hemispherical dominance. Hemispherical dominance is helpful in working with any learning. If a person is right handed, his right ear and right eye should be dominant as well. If he is left handed, his left ear and left eye should be dominant. If one side is dominant, he is hemispherically dominant. The dominant eye and dominant ear receive information and store it on the opposite side of the brain. If the right eye is dominant, but the left ear is dominant, then information is incorrectly filed and becomes hard to retrieve. This problem accounts for children being able to access previously learned facts one day but unable to access the same facts on another day. For more information on this issue, log onto This Web site will give you access to full information on hemispherical dominance and how it affects learning, and it will help in determining and reinforcing dominance.

My experience with dyslexics has taught me that consistent, multisensory, detailed instruction and practice is the approach that works. Whether the weakness is auditory, visual, or kinesthetic, the multisensory approach corrects the weakness and makes the strength stronger. I teach extensive phonics to my dyslexic students (no matter their symptoms) and have them practice daily. It is the consistency in correct practice that makes the difference. This method has been so successful that I can guarantee reading and writing success. Parents’ cooperation in removing or at least reducing environmental hazards results in greater improvement. When this approach is faithfully followed, the outcome is always positive.

Some learning differences are more involved than others, but when the parents and students are dedicated to working consistently and correctly, the results are phenomenal, and the dyslexia goes away! The key is in the instruction, practice, attitude, and philosophy. The only question is, Are you willing to accept the challenge?


Meet Sue Ellen Haning


More Freebies!

I just love when I find new websites that offer free downloads or products!

This week I made 2 new discoveries. The first one is a website that offers new free downloads everyday. It is called Freebie of the Day. You can join their email list that will send you an email each Monday to tell you what is coming for the week. The important thing to know is that the free offer is only good for that day. Tuesday’s freebie is not available on Wednesday.

My other great find came from The Homeschool Lounge.

I downloaded this and have really loved it!  Built into it are many great features that I am enjoying. There are homeschool blogs, fun sites for the kids and RSS feed already set up & ready to go.  My email accounts are there and I can personalize & add whatever else I need in it.  My only thing is that I had to download it using Firefox, my IE wouldn’t let me download it.  I’m not sure if that is because of some settings on my computer or what.  But I like to use Firefox also so it was not that big of a deal to me.