Sunday, December 21, 2008

Technology and Literacy

As I began to read the Pennsylvania Literacy Framework, I became both agitated and excited. Agitated, because I feel that on so many levels, we, as teachers, are missing the mark and excited because it appears that the teaching of literacy is changing and technology appears to be driving much of that change. As a technology educator, I was a little surprised to see that the authors of the Framework agree with my premise that the 'new demands' of: information on the Internet, AudioBooks, and self-publishing were changing the face of literacy in the 21st century. Many times I feel very alone, with no support, so I also agree with the Framework that teamwork, coherence and continuity are keys to improving literacy in this tough, urban environment that I work in.

One must give students a purpose for reading. That purpose can be enhanced with technology--our tech-savvy students can read interactive books on line--books with animated illustrations and sounds. I know many students who can text but can't read well. I wish I had a bank of computers in my classroom that would allow me to tap into the 'magic' of the Internet to enhance the literacy of students.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Introduce Blogs in Your Classroom


I am grateful that many teachers have the foresight to be interested in technology and be aware of its use as another literacy tool. Blogs can encourage creative expression and contribute to literacy improvement. There are now many student blogs (guided by teachers) on the Internet. One of the better-known ones is Gaggle.net. David Huffaker (2004) on the First Monday website (a peer-reviewed online journal) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_6/huffaker /index.html ) has an excellent article of the use of blogs in the classroom. The Internet is changing so fast, it's hard to keep up with it, but as educators, we have to be aware of technology's role in the lives of our students.

“What is an educated person?” If you ask that question of ten different educators, you will invariably receive ten different answers. The Michigan State University website (n.d.) lists at least nine traits of an educated person, one of the traits being: “to develop skills that respond to changing professional requirements and new challenges in society and the world at large. While no one has the definitive answer at to education’s purpose, few would argue that one of an educator’s objectives is to nurture, mentor and prepare students to live in a dynamically changing world—a world that will be radically different from the one we live in today. We know that our students are ‘digital natives’, a term coined by educational software designer Marc Prensky; as teachers, we need to become more acclimated to their digitally-enhanced environment. If we don’t, Ellis (1997) had a serious admonition for educators: “Technology will never replace teachers -- but, those who use technology will replace those who do not.”

REFERENCES:

Ellis, K. (1997) Educational cyber playground. Retrieved April 30, 2007 from: http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Technology/Home_TECHNOLOGY.html

Huffaker, D. (2004). The Educated Blogger; Using Weblogs to Promote Literacy in the Classroom, Retrieved October 28, 2007 from: http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_6/huffaker/index.html

Michigan State University, (n.d.). An educated person, Michigan State University, Office of the Provost, first paragraph, Retrieved April 18, 2007, from: http://www.msu.edu/unit/provost/Educated_Person.htm

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homeschool Grading

Grading in homeschooling is done by the teacher-in-charge. In most of the cases, this is the mother! Grading can get a bit tricky because it can be a little difficult to grade your own child objectively. There is no benchmark against which you can evaluate your child's performance. In most cases, you also have no awareness of how well other children are doing. So, obviously the traditional method of grading is perhaps not the best method to follow.

When grading a child undergoing homeschooling, it is more important to assess whether the child has understood the subject that is being taught. Inherent in this is the fact that if the child has not understood something, you will go over it again.

This will work in your child's favor in two ways. First, the child knows that if he or she fails to catch on, the topic will be repeated until it is mastered. Secondly, the child knows that once the topic has been mastered, he or she will get full credit for his hard work. Getting full reward for hard work put in is a great motivational factor, especially for kids.

When assessing your child's abilities, do not allow emotions to overcrowd your rationale. Do not yield to the cries and tears of your child if he or she resists certain topics or subjects. If mastering these skills is necessary, then you as the teacher AND the parent have to go over the topic until it is fully understood.

When the child is still young and unable to understand the importance of his lessons, it is your responsibility to see to it that the child develops the skill set necessary for future growth.

If you live in a state that requires yearly standardized tests, this will help you to judge your child's ability vis-à-vis his peers.

Even if it is not mandatory, you may want to test your child every year. These tests will reveal the variations in the child's learning pattern. It may show up unexpected areas of strength and hitherto unknown areas of weakness. This enables you to structure your teaching to cover the areas that are weak, and build upon the areas that are strong.

In case your state requires a homeschool report card, keep a record of the yearly development and scores of your child. Also, include pertinent areas like punctuality and discipline in the report. You may also need to keep a record of the number of working days and attendance.

While grading your child, make sure that you use as many external tests as possible. There are several websites that deal with the various age groups, and allow free downloading of question papers.

This is an excellent and cost-effective method to assess your child. Homeschooling, if done in the proper manner, will boost the child's confidence because he will be studying to satisfy his natural curiosity. The scores therefore will reflect his true intelligence.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Maintaining a Home School Discipline

When the child stays at home all day, and the mother or father is the teacher, there are certain issues of discipline at stake. It is easy for he child to misconstrue the freedom he has at home and feel that homeschooling is just a long summer holiday. This is a potential landmine and children need to be disciplined right at the start.

Homeschooling gives you and your child a truly immense amount of flexibility. You and your child decide where to learn, how much to learn and when to learn. But, these should be decisions made at the beginning stages. If your child is too little to take an active part in the decision, chart out a few hours of the day for the various activities, and stick to it. When there is no outside agency to supervise and no exams to answer, it is easy to get sidetracked. If your child is old enough, consult him and find out when he wants to learn. Apply your parental discretion and come up with a timetable.

Homework is also a part of homeschooling. What this means is that once lessons have been taught, the child should be asked to do some part of the course work by himself without your guidance. You will need to make sure that your child sits willingly and finishes his work.

Courtesy, manners and punctuality are some of the various facets of discipline that a child has to learn in the early years of his life. The school where he interacts with his peers, his seniors and juniors and his teachers fine tune these values automatically. At homeschool, the child should be taught the importance of speaking and behaving in a proper manner and appropriate corrections need to be meted out if behavior is unsatisfactory.

It is advisable to keep aside a particular room or a part of the room for your homeschool. The child should be expected to reach his desk at the appointed time, in proper attire with all the necessary material. It is easy to allow the school to become an extension of play if these ground rules are not laid out and followed. As the teacher, supervisor, principal and janitor rolled into one, you should also approach the study area with a cool professionalism.

Homeschooling is doomed to fail without patience. In spitre of all the precautions and steps one takes, it is easy for a child to get side-tacked at homeschool. At such times, it may be difficult to discipline the child and get him to listen to you attentively.

When this happens, switch to something new. Allow the child to take a breather and enjoy a break yourself.

Homeschooling is not easy. It requires a lot of hard work and patience. The very informality of the whole procedure sometimes works against it by making it too easy. If you take steps to establish rules at the very beginning and adhere to these rules, your homeschooling experience will be a huge success.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Home School Structure

Now that you have begun your homeschooling schedule, there are various questions that trouble you. Should you study continuously, take a number of short breaks or a long vacation? What about public holidays? When should you take a break?

The answer to these questions and many more like these are actually quite simple: Do whatever suits you best. This is one of the appealing benefits of homeschooling. You do not have a set pattern to follow. You do not HAVE to take that autumn break, or close shop for a prolonged summer vacation. Flexibility is the key here. For some practiced unschoolers, even a definite curriculum is not necessary because lessons are a part of their day- to-day life. But this may not be the case with beginners. Beginners may need to chart out their activities to fall into a pattern.

Before you plan the structure of your classes, consider some of the most important issues. What method of homeschooling will you be following, what is your teaching style and your child's learning style, what are the work and play schedules, what are your vacation plans. Some families plan small 1-week vacations at different times of the year. Other families prefer to go away for a month or more. Consult with the members of your family, and chart out a holiday schedule that most suits you.

There are some positive benefits in following the traditional summer vacation schedule. Firstly, your children can benefit from the various summer activities, camps and classes. Your child's schedule will coincide with that of his school-going friends. A summer job may be possible. A longish summer break also means that both parents as well as children get a break from their daily lessons. This could also be a major drawback, as it is sometimes difficult to get back on track once the classes resume.

On the other hand, there are some advantages to taking numerous small breaks in the course of a year. Firstly, children do not get bored since they get time to explore other interests. You can cover more topics in the extra time that you save. You can also take family trips and vacations during the less popular periods of travel. This means lesser crowd and better prices. But beware if your child becomes restless when other children are enjoying their long summer vacations.

As far as homeschooling is concerned, you and your family are the people in charge. Taking care of the individual needs of the child is the primary focus of this system. So, tailor the school year to suit your child's needs. Periodic evaluation is a must. Set some realistic goals and see if you are able to achieve these goals. Most importantly, avoid burnout - both in yourself and your children.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Books for Children


One of the best gifts you can give your children is the love of reading. Children who begin to read at an early age tend to carry a love of reading straight through to adulthood. Children who love to read often do better in school. Textbooks may not be as much fun to read, but it will be easier for a child who loves to read to get through their assignments. The best way to get your child started is to buy books for children at an early age.

You can begin buying books for children earlier than you might think. There are picture books that children can handle as young as six months old. They may not even understand what it is, but it will give them a positive association with books. Many of these books for children are soft, have bright, stimulating colors, and can be chewed on safely.

As your children age, the books for children you buy will begin to involve words as well as pictures. One of my daughter’s first books was a picture book of other babies. Children are often fascinated with other children their own age. The book had very few words, but it helped her to understand that words tell a story, and the pictures in the books go with the story. When children reach age three or four, you can purchase more complicated books for children. They can have longer storylines, and they should encourage your child to ask questions. Rhyming stories are great, because they engage your child’s mind in learning and understanding patterns and sounds.

You can find books for children just about anywhere you buy books. Many bookstores have special sections just for books for children, and they often have extras like a play area and have Story Time. Obviously, you can also find them at the library, and the library will have Story Time as well. These programs are geared towards getting your children to develop a love of books that will last a lifetime. It is one of the best gifts you can give them. You can also start a book-sharing program with some of your friends and family. If you are really ambitious, you can start one of these for your community. This will encourage people to share or donate books for children to the community, and will help lower income families give their children the gift of reading.

Monday, October 13, 2008

HomeSchool Finances

When people talk about teaching their children from home in the absence of any definite or structured curriculum, it is perhaps natural to think that homeschooling is cheap. But. this is far from the truth.

When you need to make sure that your children receives state-of-the-art education so that they can compete with regular school goers, expenses will naturally mount. The actual cost of educating a child at home is surprisingly high. Up-to-date textbooks, course materials, a library, computing equipment, lighting, specially-designed furniture all cost money. In this case, the cost may be slightly lesser when it comes to homeschooling the second child. Add to this any additional tuition cost for tutors who come to teach subjects that cannot be handled by parents, like higher-level math or science. The total cost can be a bit mind-boggling.

If you take another important factor into consideration, homeschooling costs may triple. The need for having one of the parents tied to the house and fully dedicated to providing education deprives the family of a second income. The average homeschooling teacher is usually someone with a college degree. This means that she/he can easily bring home a pay of $35,000 or more. It is also interesting to note that most families that have more than 2 children do not opt for homeschooling at all.

But, there are those who have been successful in carrying out homeschooling at low rates. This is dependent on the size of the family, the support group, the type of materials used and the availability of the material. When successive children can reuse the materials, costs goes down. Much of the course material can be purchased from vendors of homeschooling materials. A membership in a public library, theatre, concerts, ballets and other cultural events also help in cutting costs. Sometimes, it is even possible to barter expertise. For instance, the mother of an 8-year old gives dancing classes, and her daughter receives drawing classes for free. Support groups allow you to divide the cost of field trips, science projects and fairs.

Whatever the cost, advocates of homeschooling say that the benefits far outweigh these considerations. When you are able to decide what knowledge your child receives and when he or she should be taught and to what extent, it gives you a lot of freedom and a lot of power. Both the children as well as the parents benefit from this mutually enriching experience.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Strategies To Help You And Your Child Survive Homework

Linda Bress Silbert, Ph.D. And Alvin J. Silbert, Ed.D.

Is homework wreaking havoc in your home? If the answer is YES, then finding the real causes behind the homework problems, and taking steps to resolve them, will improve both school success and family harmony.

How do we know? Homework is the single biggest issue affecting home life, according to many of the parents who bring their children to us at STRONG Learning Centers®.

Here are the ten most common causes of homework problems, along with suggestions to help you resolve them.

1. THE HOMEWORK IS TOO DIFFICULT.

If the homework is continuously too difficult, with everything that entails, then a child will try to avoid it. Look into the cause. Begin by having a conversation with the teacher. If the problem is class-wide, hopefully the teacher will evaluate and adjust the nature of his or her homework assignments. If the problem is limited to your child, she may require additional help from the teacher after school, from you, from a sibling, from a teenager you hire, or from a tutor. If this fails to resolve the issue, then a reevaluation of the type of class, or course level, or teaching vs. learning style, or school may be in order.

On the other hand, the cause of the problem may be a disability: physical, learning and/or attentional. Your child may have difficulty in such areas as: hearing, seeing, reading, processing language, or writing, or she may have ADD or ADHD. If the problem is one of these, sometimes it is easy to resolve. For example, corrective glasses can easily resolve some seeing issues and behavioral therapy and/or possibly medication might help AD/HD, the newer term for the disorder. In many cases, consulting teachers, counselors, or specialists in the appropriate field, might be in order.

Note: If you suspect AD/HD, a valuable resource is CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder organization). For information on the learning disability (LD) issue in general, contact the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA).

2. THE HOMEWORK IS TOO CONFUSING.

When children chronically complain that assignments or directions are confusing, they are likely to become frustrated and/or anxious, eventually avoiding such assignments. Parents usually respond to these children by asking, "Weren't you listening?" Or "Just read the directions!" The children were listening or reading, but they may not have been able to process the information.

In this case, the cause may be reading comprehension and/or language processing problems. You may need to seek the help of teachers or a learning specialist to help your child learn strategies she can use to overcome or compensate for her disability. For example, she may need to put the words into pictures or graphic organizers. Children who become confused due to problems with language processing, do better when they can see things visually.

And, regardless of who is working with them, be sure they remain actively involved. Children (and adults too) are notorious for shaking their heads "yes" when asked "Do you understand?" even when they don't understand. Sometimes they are just yessing you and sometimes they think they understand. However, when you ask them to explain or discuss what you were just talking about, they realize that they really don’t understand.

If neither of these areas are the cause of the problem, then you may need to investigate why your child continues to complain. If it turns out it is simply a ploy to get you to do the work with him, then you need to address the reason for that behavior. But wait – before you get annoyed, remember what it was like for you when you were a child. Homework isn't always fun, and sometimes it's nice to have a little company. Your child may simply want your company during homework time. Wow! How's that for the ultimate compliment?

3. THE HOMEWORK IS TOO LOW-QUALITY OR TOO BORING.

Sometimes homework assignments are low-quality boring busywork and children will avoid them simply because they don't want to do them. Unfortunately, one of life's little lessons that children need to learn is that sometimes we simply have to do boring things. If, however, every assignment appears to be dull, too easy, or too low-quality, you may need to talk to your child's teacher to determine the purpose of the assignments. Many teachers do not realize how some of the assignments are coming across to the children; chances are they will appreciate the feedback and adjust the work as appropriate.

4. THE CHILD IS DISORGANIZED.

He brings home the book and forgets the assignment. He brings home the assignment and forgets the book. Or he forgets the assignment and the book. Does this sound familiar? If so, it sounds like you've got yourself a disorganized child. The same is true for children who can’t judge time or can't manage their time. They may have the best intentions to get the homework done, but somehow it gets lost in their time-maze.

It is so difficult for disorganized children to get their homework done that some of them would rather lie, insisting that there is no homework, than be criticized and punished. If poor organizational skills seems to be the issue, there are many books and articles that offer great strategies to help the disorganized child. See, for example, pp 123-127 in Why Bad Grades Happen to Good Kids.

5. THE HOMEWORK IS TOO INTRUSIVE.

It's a fact; homework cuts into playtime. So what's the problem? The problem is that in some cases homework time creeps up to the point of consuming the home lives of the children and sometimes that of the family as well. Besides the obvious down side, this may be harmful to children's intellectual development. Their brains are developing and they need to use all parts, and good quality play provides opportunities to use the "far corners" of the brain that might otherwise remain fallow. So, it turns out that children need to play. Surprisingly, brain research indicates that occasional boredom is good, too, as it forces children to think of things to do — that is, to use their brains to create.

So if homework time seems to have taken over your home, work out a schedule with your child so that he doesn't have to lie in order to play.

6. TOO MUCH PARENT INVOLVEMENT.

Some parents are overly involved in their child's homework. Here are the three most common types, all of whom tend to drive their children toward lying and deception. If any of these describe you, then work to change your behavior.

A. The "perfectionist parents." Perfectionists demand picture-perfect-homework. Their children hate to let them see their homework papers out of fear that they will judge the work unworthy, tear it up, and make them do it again. Besides being tedious and time demanding, in these extreme cases it is downright disrespectful of the child.

B. The "helicopter parents." These parents hover over their children, making sure that every "t" is crossed and every "i" is dotted. They think they're being helpful, but here's the problem: By not giving their children any breathing room, they are delivering the tacit message that their children are not capable of doing the work themselves. Not only does this harm their self-esteem, but it also denies them the opportunity of taking responsibility for their own work.

C. The "Pandora parents." The children of Pandora parents tend to deny the existence of any homework they don't understand because asking Mom or Dad even the simplest question is tantamount to opening Pandora's box. Their well-meaning parents can't contain their enthusiasm and turn what would ordinary require a short answer into a long-winded treatise on some esoteric detail.

7. THE CHILD IS UNMOTIVATED.

Most children don't want to do homework. But while they may put up quite a fuss, somehow they manage to get the work done. If they don't, motivation may not be the problem; they may appear unmotivated, but this may be a convincing protective screen they've set up to mask a larger issue.

For example, many children appear unmotivated when in fact they avoid homework to protect their egos. How's that? Because these children erroneously equate failure with stupidity. Their logic is as follows: If they try and fail, it is a reflection of their intelligence. If they don't try and fail, it is not a reflection of their intelligence; it is due to lack of motivation or irresponsibility. These labels they can live with; the label "stupid," they can't!

8. TOO MUCH HOMEWORK.

Many kids simply cannot keep up with the projects, tests, quizzes, reading and other assignments they are given.

Here is a general guide for the typical amount of time children should be expected to spend on homework each school day. Grades K-2, about 10-20 minutes. Grades 3-6, about 30-60 minutes. Grades 7-12 will vary considerably, depending on subjects, projects due, tests, etc., but a reasonable average is about two hours, with more on weekends, as needed, for major projects and exams.

If your child spends considerably more than this on homework, look into the cause. Begin by having a conversation with the teacher. If the problem is class-wide, hopefully the teacher will make adjustments. If the problem is limited to your child because your child works slowly, or has other issues discussed in this section, talk to his teacher and see what can be done to modify his assignments.

9. IT'S TOO NOISY.

Many kids complain that they can't concentrate at home. Their siblings are running around, TVs and music systems are blaring, someone's on the phone, people are fighting, the dog is barking, the baby is crying. I don't know about you, but I need quiet to do work that requires thinking. Closed bedroom doors don't help much, as the muffled sounds of chaos always manage to get through.

Here is an idealistic solution. Even if it can't be carried out fully, at least it is something to aim for. As a family, consider designating a block of time as quiet time. Normal living continues, but more quietly than usual. Kids can use the time to do homework; parents can read, balance the checkbook, and write e-mails; those who have time to watch television can do so with headphones or the sound turned low. Sometimes quiet sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

10. THE CHILD IS TOO ALONE.

Some children are lonely when required to do homework in their rooms, and don't work efficiently in that setting. Some need continuous support and direction. That is, they need someone to help them stay on task or to provide a little assistance when they get stuck. If required to work alone in their rooms, these are the kids who emerge three hours later with little or nothing accomplished. Both groups of children tend to prefer doing homework on the kitchen table. This way they have people around them, either for support or company.

So, if homework causes chaos in your home, look into the reasons. Once you find them, and do what you need to resolve the problems, you'll be back on the road to school success and family harmony.

(Originally published at the Strong Learning website and reprinted with permission of the authors, Linda Bress Silbert, Ph.D. and Alvin J. Silbert, Ed.D.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some Homeschooling Methods

For many people, homeschooling may call to mind the picture of two or three children sitting at a table and writing feverishly in their workbooks, while mom or dad stands nearby. This is the not entirely true. There are different methods of homeschooling, and the method you choose will decide the curriculum and your style of teaching. Given below are some of the most influential and popular homeschooling methods.

The Charlotte Mason method:

Charlotte Mason is known as the founder of the homeschooling movement. A homeschooler herself, she was passionate in her zeal to lay out the foundations for an effective a complete homeschooling program that is fun and educational at the same time. This method focuses on all the core subjects with emphasis placed on classical literature, poetry, fine arts, classical music and craft. Mason used a variety of books from classical literature, which she called 'Living Books'. Since this method encourages a passionate awareness of literature, the child is read to daily from the 'Living Books'. After this, the child is asked to narrate what she has heard. This process begins at the age of six, and by ten the child is expected to write her narrations in her book. Mason also advocated the use of 'Nature Diaries'. After each short and interesting lesson, the child is asked to go to Nature and draw observations from Nature. Thus the child also gains a sense of respect for her environment. Mason believed that development of good character and behavior was essential to the complete development of the child's personality.

The Eclectic Homeschooling:

This is a mixture of various homeschooling techniques. Here, the innovative parents trust their own judgment and pick out the topics that make the best curriculum for their child. Such parents continuously look out for the best products that will meet the needs of their homeschoolers. Most Eclectic homeschooling curriculums are improvised. This means that the basic curriculum is ready-made. The parents then make changes in the curriculum to accommodate the individual needs and interests of their children.

The child's gifts, temperament, learning style and interests dictate the curriculum. Eclectic programs include visits to the museum, libraries and factories.

Unschooling:

A Boston public educator name John Holt laid the beginnings of the unschooling method. He believed that children learned best when they are free to learn at their own pace and when they are guided by their own interests. His message was to 'unschool' the child.

This method is a hands-on approach to learning, where the parent takes definite cues from the children. There is no definite curriculum, schedules or materials. This method is the most unstructured of the various homeschooling techniques.

The Montessori Method:

This method began in Italy, when it was observed that children have acute sensitive periods, during which they undergo periods of intense concentration. During such phases, a child will repeat an activity till he gains a measure of self-satisfaction. The Montessori Method depends on a prepared environment to facilitate learning. All the materials used in this method are designed to satisfy the inner desire for spiritual development of the child.

The materials used progress from simple to complex, and are rather expensive.

These are just a few of the methods of homeschooling. Whatever the method, the underlying factor is flexibility and a keen interest in the desires of the child. The secret is to use the child's desire for knowledge to further his education.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Teacher's Guide to Internet Safety


When it comes to using the internet in an educational facility or environment, there are often guidelines that were previously created and set in place for you to follow. In the case of a home schoolteacher it can be left up to you personally to create rules and guidelines for your students to follow for Internet safety.

There are some basic tips to give out to your students prior to allowing them to go online. At our school, we created a policy that students sign. Keep this policy in a file or posted on the side of the designated computer. Ensure that students only access the Internet with you or another adult's permission.

Most schools have filters in place, but, if a site with inappropriate content is accessed, please tell an administrator and close the site. Allow your students to access sites that have only appropriate content that is age-appropriate. To be on the safe side, I took the time to create a website that has appropriate links for children on it.

These sites can be saved in the favorites section for easy access to appropriate sites. If a student wants to visit a site you can have a rule that you have to preview it prior to allowing access to it. By setting up rules and guidelines to follow then students can have an enjoyable and successful time while surfing the net.

There are games and videos on Internet safety available to help you teach your students about online predators and cyber bullies. This is also helpful for times when the internet is used at home for assignments. Online safety is key to making the best experience during an online experience for both children and parents. Internet safety is a must in today's daily life and you can create a safe environment when you, the teacher, set rules in place from the beginning.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Child Internet Safety is Learned


Just as you would not permit your seven-year old child to go out to the mall and play by her or himself, you also should not allow your child to access the Information Superhighway without permission, guidance, and a host of safety precautions. Since children as young as five-years old are now accessing the computer and internet, these kinds of safety discussions need to take place at progressively younger ages.

Though you do not wish to scare your child, explaining the potential dangers in age appropriate terms is vital. You should caution a child against revealing a name or address to a stranger at the playground or store AND your child should also know not to give out such personal information to a virtual stranger.

As children get older and enter into online contact with other children, email safety is another aspect of child Internet safety which must be learned. Perhaps the most important bit of guidance you can offer is the limitation on the kinds of emails which should be opened. By and large it is a good idea to only permit the child to open emails from friends and family members whom she or he knows personally. All others should only be opened with you present.

While child Internet safety is learned, perhaps the easiest way of ensuring that learning is taking place revolves around the proper computer placement. Children should never have Internet access in the privacy of their room but instead should only surf the internet from a computer placed in a well-traveled area of the home where you and other household members can keep a watchful eye on the proceedings.

Sure, junior may balk at the idea of not having a computer all to himself, but when it comes to internet safety precautions it is safer to err on the side of annoying your child than permitting clever strangers unfettered access to your child’s private sanctum.

Friday, August 01, 2008

What is Homeschooling?

The term 'homeschooling' basically refers to the process in which one or more children of not more than 2 families are instructed by parents or legal guardians, or a member of either household. The laws that define homeschooling vary from state to state. The legal requirements for establishing a homeschool also vary with the each state.

For most children, the actual process of learning begins much before school. Many children already know the alphabet, the names of animals, colors. This is mostly due to the hard work of a member of the family who has taken the time to teach the child.

Homeschooling is just a natural progression from there. Instead of sending their children to a public school, parents create a curriculum and teach their children in ways that best suit the child. This is homeschooling, in its most simplistic form.

Before you decide to homeschool, there are certain important matters for consideration. First, meet with parents of other homeschoolers. Find out the pros and cons of homeschooling. Then ask yourself why you would want to adopt this method. This is a very important aspect, as the success of the program depends on the clarity and sincerity of your purpose.

Next, it is time to consider the expenses of homeschooling. It may cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand every year. More importantly, you are also effectively shutting out any job opportunity for one of the parents-one parent will have to stay at home full-time to manage the homeschool. A home-based business however is a great alternative.

Are you qualified to take on homeschooling for your children? Teaching is a continuation of your own learning process. With the advent of the internet, information is plentiful. There are various books and resources for those interested in homeschooling. Go through the various methods of homeschooling and choose one that is most suited to you. It helps if you know what kind of learning style your child has. Also, find out what your child feels about homeschooling before you start.

Every state has its own laws regarding homeschooling. For instance, in North Carolina, you must first file a 'Notice of Intent' to start a home school. In this 'Notice' you have to mention if the school is a 'private church' school or a 'qualified non-public school'. The persons providing the education are required to have at least a high school diploma. You have to maintain an annual record of the child's attendance and disease immunization. Every year, the child is required to undergo a standardized test. Each student attending the eleventh grade has to take a nationally standardized test. These are the requirements in North Carolina, but it is enough to give you a good idea of what homeschooling entails.

Homeschooling may seem like a lot of fun and freedom from the outside. However, things are seldom as simple as they seem.

Homeschooling is a lot of added responsibility and hard work. But, if successful, it will forge a strong bond of love and respect between parent and child, while providing your child with the best form of education he needs.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Free College Money from Scholarship and Grants


High school days are usually the time when you can fully enjoy your student life, and after you graduate, it's time for you to go to college. But the truth is, many students are unable to go to college because of certain financial issues. This however, should not hinder you from pursuing higher education. You have options, and all you have to do is to discover what options are available.


Having a brilliant career is probably what most students are dreaming about and you can achieve this if you are able to graduate from college. With all the financial constraints surrounding you, don’t give up easily and check these six options for you to choose from:

1. Scholarships

2. Grants

3. Loans

4. Part-time employment

5. Community programs and services

6. The Armed Forces

Among these six options, the first two are usually the likely choice of almost any student. You can find scholarships and grants in almost any part of the globe. Perhaps the reason why many students prefer these options is because they don’t have to repay the money that they'll be using through college.

This is truly an advantage compared to acquiring a loan. A loan needs to be repaid at a specific date and time while scholarships/grants are given to students free.

Talk to your high school guidance counselor, because he/she might know of particular institutions or universities which offer college scholarships and grants. Applicants with artistic, athletic, and scientific talents are also given special scholarships especially those who are in need of serious financial resources. Also, check for online databases that cater to college scholarships which the public can browse freely.


Many students may think that a grant is similar to a college scholarship. It is different in the sense that with a grant, you are required to submit a proposal for a possible future project. And if your proposal is quite good, you can find a sponsor which can fund your way through college.

Scholarships on the other hand, are given to students based on their achievements. So, college scholarships are much easier to obtain than grants.

Any way you choose, you still have to meet their standards. And if the institution or university decides that you are a qualified applicant, then that is only the time that you can enjoy the benefits of being a scholar.

When you are finally awarded with a scholarship or grant, be responsible and do everything you can to maintain your good standing in class. Oftentimes, scholarships and grants require you to maintain certain ratings while you're in college. You must also be aware that they can also terminate your scholarship/grant if they see it fit.

The money that you'll get from the scholarship should be used to fund your way to college; like payment of tuition fees and other school fees. Take advantage of your situation and make the most out of your free education. Don’t waste the chance that has been given to you.

The career that you've wanted all these years is just waiting for you. So take chances, life is full of many obstacles; but if you are hardworking, diligent, and patient, you can go through your college life with ease.

Friday, July 18, 2008