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This is the place to get up-to-the-minute answers to your pressing homeschooling questions!

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  1. Jennifer says:

    I love your chart. I am not good at rewarding like you are. I don’t even think about it. I just want the children to do their school work yet I know it is important to be rewarded. I did some some m&m candies for math but looking for other ideas. Was just checking off their subjects reward enough or did you go further?
    Thanks for any advice.

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      I am not good at rewarding, but for my kids, just putting the sticker squares in the boxes and being able to see that they were done seemed to do the trick. One reward I have used is a dollar bill taped in the back of their workbooks as a small incentive. When the workbook was completed, they got the dollar bill.

      Somehow this chart just kept going. I could glance at it and know where the kids were in their work. They could look at it and not feel discouraged, it felt like school would end when they were done. I never did a reward for a full week done (all days of the week checked off) but they still did it and were positively reinforced by just being able to mark it off and say, “I did ALL my schoolwork”. Plus, I often would remind them, “You need to finish today’s schoolwork before the basketball game” or whatever event they were planning on. Or even before dinner. Or lunch. It was the way we did homeschool—finishing our work every day before we did other things—and it was enough to them to check off their subjects.

      Be careful not to overload them. Watch how much they can reasonably do, if they keep on task, and give them that much. Too much work discourages anyone. I think we get overeager as homeschooling moms…we want them to learn everything! We want them to have every advantage! But kids need a good balanced life. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

  2. Sandra says:

    My kids (5 and 7 years) can’t seem to sit still to do their schoolwork. We have desks in a little area of our house that is our schoolroom area. I give them a recess. How do we get the work done?

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      Some kids (maybe most?) don’t do well in a desk. A desk is for the convenience of a school classroom where there are lots of children to keep orderly. I liked the idea of desks, bought them for my kids, and discovered that my kids really learned best while swinging on the chin-up bar we mounted on the ceiling at the bottom of our staircase. Jumping off the stairs, swinging out into the room provided such entertainment that I decided to mount their memory verses and times tables on the wall by the chin-up bar. As long as they were reciting, they could keep swinging!

      Look for learning activities that seem like active play to your children: games, nature walks, experiments, art projects created to classical music, math or geography info played in the car CD player…there are so many opportunities to learn that are done without sitting still trying to learn.

      I have to tell a story about my son Ammon. When he was just 5 years old, I tried to teach him to read. He sure was a wiggly kid! It was hard for him to sit on the couch…he usually ended up upside down on the couch…feet in the air and head on the floor. So I just turned the phonics flashcards upside down and he practiced them until he got very good at them. There is more than one way to teach a restless little kid!

  3. Leah says:

    I am so excited about finding your website, I’ve been reading from it every chance I get! I have loved every word you have written. It is so wonderful to me how dedicated you are to your children & sacred responsibility as a mother. I have six children. I’ve dreamed of homeschooling for years. I never thought I could really do it. I’ve gotten to the point that public school is just not “cutting” it, I can’t dream of homeschooling any longer, I’ve decided to swallow all of my fears & just do it! I have children ages 17, 15, 11, 9, 4 & 2. I am for certain homeschooling my 11 & 9 year olds. However, I am scared to death to attempt keeping my oldest two home. Would you advise that I do so? My biggest concern is the future. I don’t understand what the process would be to get them into college without the grades/GPA. Also, are homeschoolers eligible for scholarships? We have a very tight budget & will not be able to help our children much, if at all for college expenses.

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      Congratulations to you for jumping into homeschooling! It is quite a lifestyle change—a happy one, for sure! I think you and your children will be very happy you have made this decision!

      Scared to death to homeschool your teens? I can understand that, especially if they are happy at public school. They might not want to leave friends and familiar territory. If they are wanting to come home to homeschool, you’ll do fine! I love homeschooling older teens because they are often highly motivated to go their work, if given a system so they can plan their time, get their work done, and have time for work or social activities. Plus they are wonderful thinkers and exciting to have a discussion with! It very much depends on how your teens feel about homeschooling. You will want them to have a huge say in that decision. If they are happy where they are, it might be best to let them finish out in the public school system. If they do choose to come home, it is crucial that you orchestrate opportunities for friendship, social life, sports or whatever they will be missing by coming home for education. I have a lot of informatian on homeschooling teens on this website that might help you decide what would be best.

      I know you will have a fun time homeschooling your younger children, though! They usually enjoy being home with Mom and if you make learning fun, homeschool can be far more exciting and interesting than being in a classroom. Try teaching the Subject of the Day method (described in detail on this site), since you are teaching different levels. It will be fun!

      Your biggest concern…getting into college. I would not worry a minute about that! Homeschooling is becoming well-accepted and every college and university has an accommodation for homeschoolers. Taking the ACT or SAT or even the college’s own much easier entrance exam (which is more of a placement test…no one can fail) is generally the method that is used for homeschoolers entering college. Yes, homeschoolers are eligible for scholarships. One benefit of homeschooling is the flexible hours usually makes it easier for homeschoolers to get a job during their teen year and earn their college expenses. Nowadays, colleges are very flexible as to a high schooler’s education. Most high school districts have online courses that can be done from home that grant high school credit. There are many online high schools (private that cost, or free that use state funding to operate) that can grant credit for high school work done. My daughter went to an accelerated learning center for a few hours every other day during her senior year and took college classes online (live video in a classroom setting) and got college credit for them, so college entrance was automatic. You will be surprised at how many options are available when you get to that point!

      Best success!

  4. Leah says:

    I’m looking into purchasing some of the Apologia Young Explorer series & the Story of the World too. I’m wondering if you suggest buying the journal/activity books to go along with them? If so, why? What would I be missing without them?

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      I really love the Apologia Young Explorers series, and no, you do not need the journal/activity books. You can just as easily get a 3 ring binder and have your children do their work and collect it in the binder. The activity books have decorated-edge pages for their reports, and little word searches or other activities. Not necessary. Fun if you have extra money to spend.

      Story of the World: The Activity Books are really useful with this series, because they contain projects, literature reading lists, crafts, coloring pages, games, question/answer, maps and other things that would be hard to replicate. I’d buy the Activity books with these!

      Have fun! Those are both excellent curriculum choices!

  5. Leah says:

    Thank you for you suggestions and encouragement!

    Our 15 year old is wanting to homeschool. He’s been struggling the past few years with most subjects, especially math. I’m not sure where to start with him. Any suggestions? Also, I’ve noticed there’s not a set curriculum for 9th graders on your love to learn site. It sounds like you have been able to prepare your children so well, that by 15-16 years old they’re ready for college classes! Amazing! Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for my son. Where do I begin? I feel like he needs extra help in almost all subjects.

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      You are starting with a great advantage…your son wants to homeschool! If a child has a happy attitude towards being homeschooled, you are off to a great start!

      Every person is so very different. And a child does not always grow up to have the same traits. I had one very sloppy little gal who grew up into a “neat freak”. So, there is every variety! I have not been able to prepare all my children for college classes early. Some have been more interested and diligent in their schoolwork than others.

      Now, to homeschooling your son. This is going to be very fun! A 15 year old can discuss things with you, motivate himself to do his work and get deeply involved in projects. I think you two will have a great time. Start with the basics: math, writing, reading. I would do an assessment test and find out just what level he is at. Both Saxon and Singapore Math have free placement tests online that you can use to find out his level. Singapore goes just to 8th grade level. If he enjoys doing online classes, there is a math program that I recommend: Math Whizz. It is on the pricey side but they have a free trial you can try, and my kids loved it and it freed me from doing math. It only goes through 8th grade, so if your son is up to level in math, Saxon would probably be your best bet, along with a DIVE CD .

      For writing, I would just start with a daily school journal—write a page daily on whatever topic he wants. Getting him writing every day is the jumping off point so he can get used to putting his thoughts into words, and it helps you see what type of help he needs…punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc. You can teach his what is needed and watch his writing improve little by little. Then he will eventually be ready to tackle writing about what he reads or researches, in the form of a longer report.

      Reading: pick the most interesting adventure books you can find so he will be motivated! Some ideas right off the top of my head: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Sign of the Beaver, The Golden Goblet, Crispin by Avi, Night Journey, God’s Smuggler (Christian), and many more. These are younger books, but the point is to read, not to challenge him right at first. If he is reluctant, read it aloud and discuss it with him. If he enjoys reading, pick a book at or below his level, so it is enjoyable for him. He can write a narrative of what he has read, as a writing topic.

      As this becomes a daily pattern, you can add in Apologia Science and History, keyboarding (I recommend Typing Tutor Deluxe…great program!), and other subjects.

      The most important thing is to give him time, and materials, to follow his interests!

      Best success!

  6. Sherry Carson says:

    Hello Diane!

    I don’t actually have a question–just a comment. I want to say that I am so thrilled to see you are still thriving! I am one of your first customers from way back in the late 80s. I home schooled our 6 children and you were a lifesaver back in the day when there were so little resources or support available! Now our children are beginning to home school their children and I was so happy to find Love to Learn still there for them! We have just placed our first order in several years and there will be many more to come. You are a great source of not only wonderful products but knowledge, experience and support!

    Enjoyed all the pictures of your growing family! I still remember when Ammon and Louisa were born!

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      Thanks so much for writing. What a thrill to see your own children now homeschooling! You must have “done it right” if your children want to homeschool too…good for you! So happy we are still here to supply what you needs.

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