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What is unschooling?

Unschooling is simply believing that schools (public or private) and their curriculums (usually way outdated) are no longer a requirement for learning.  It is realizing that personal success in both the social and economic world of the 21st century will not require the diplomas/degrees these schools offer let alone the tuition/taxes they demand.     Unschooling is about becoming a motivated, life-long, self-learner and thus able to succeed by quickly adapting to a changing world.       The wikipedia page for unschooling does a good job of explaining unschooling in more detail.

Starting a Successful Home School

Monday, December 9, 2013   More families are looking for alternatives to traditional public schools. School closings and teaching faculty reductions are leading to over – crowded classrooms that don’t seem to meet all student’s needs. Home schooling is one educational option available to families seeking an alternative to their local public school system. This article highlights four things that will help you get your home school off to a good start while meeting all of your student’s educational needs. 1. What can you teach successfully? As an adult, chances are you can remember that one subject you were good at in school. Whether it came naturally for you, or you simply studied hard and still remember the content, you probably know the subject well enough to teach it to your home school students. However, you should still take some time to decide whether or not you can teach the subject to your students. Unless you have teaching experience as... read more

Summer Slump Survival Guide

Five tips for surviving the summer slump! 1. Spend time getting physical exercise - it keeps the brain active. 2. Read as much as possible - choose books that interest you, not just what might be on your school's summer reading list. 3. WRITE - write a journal about what you did during the summer, places you went, reflections on books you read. 4. Limit the time you spend on computer games. 5. HAVE FUN.

Homeschooling Your Children? Need Help? Fun Writing Lessons...

If you are homeschooling your children, as you know, this can be overwhelming sometimes. I can help design lessons in writing, English, grammar, public speaking, research and related areas. For first-time clients, I will be flexible with my rate. Review my profile at WyzAnt and let me know what questions you have - would love to help! Good teaching, Tim N.

96 Percent For Global History Regents Exam!

Hello Miss Gil, I received a 96% in Global History. I was so excited to hear these words from my student! At first she did not want to be tutored. Her father dropped her off at the Library. So I told her that if she did the practice test, and did well, she would never have to see me again. Well, she scored a 58%, and there were so many events and topics that she did not know. We scheduled 3 additional three hour sessions. By the last session, her essays had improved and her overall score was an 83%. I told her that I believe that she can score as much as a 95% on the Regents Exam. She laughed and said "Yeah right". Well she scored a 96% and I am very proud of her.

Summer Tutoring

SUMMER OPPORTUNITIES Now that students, teachers, parents and tutors have had a chance to catch their breath from final exams, it's time to make use of the weeks we have before school starts back. Consider all that could be accomplished in the next few weeks: Areas of math that students NEVER REALLY GRASPED could be fully explained. This could be elementary skills like adding fractions, middle school topics like systems of equations, or high school areas like sequences and series. Students could have a TREMENDOUS HEAD STARTon topics that will be covered in the first few weeks of school. Imagine your son or daughter being able to raise their hand to answer a question in the first week of school because they had worked several problems just like the ones that the teacher is demonstrating. ENORMOUS PROGRESS could be made in the area of preparation for the standardized tests (PSAT, SAT, ACT and more) that are so important to getting into a great college. STUDY... read more

Choosing a Virtual School

Virtual education’s popularity is on the rise. Parents have a wide variety of schools to choose from if they decide to enroll their children in a virtual school. This can make choosing a virtual school that's right for your children difficult. This article summarizes five important things to consider when choosing a virtual school for your children. 1. Independent Study vs. Live Instruction First, review the school’s website and any literature they have to see whether they use a live, online learning environment or if students will learn content in an independent study setting. There are pros and cons to each. An exhaustive list is outside of the scope of this article. In my experience as a former virtual schoolteacher, high school students can handle independent study with the right amount of supervision from their parents, middle school students cannot. They need the structure that live, online classes provide. Live, online classes typically use the same virtual... read more

Spanish, French, English, Language Arts and Test Preparation Tutor. Contact me today to schedule a lesson!

Hello! Thank you for visiting my site! I have 8 years of language teaching experience. I taught for 7 years at Princeton University and 1 year at the University of Notre Dame. It is truly a joy for me to help people reach their academic and personal goals. Please contact me as soon as possible to inquire about scheduling a tutoring session with me. I specialize in language arts, particularly Spanish, French, and English. I also have experience tutoring people of all ages, and helping them prepare for standardized tests. I look forward to hearing from you soon! Best regards, Valerie

Helping Kids Become Lifelong Readers

If you had asked my middle school students to describe our class routines, you might have thought I was their English teacher, not Social Studies. As a teacher and tutor, I’ve tried to pass on a legacy for the love of reading to my students. I often tell them, “If you can read, you can teach yourself anything.” In this article, I will give you some tips on how to get your children to read more, and more often. It’s Not Magic! Occasionally, parents visited my classroom to ask, “How do you do it?” They were usually referring to the success of my Friday Silent Reading routine. Each fall, I explained the importance of literacy to my students and said that practice is best way to improve reading skills. I told them that I expected them to bring a book of their choice to class every day, to read it if they finished all the day’s scheduled activities I’d given them, and that the first 20 minutes of class every Friday was reserved for sustained silent reading. Parents... read more

School’s Out! School’s Out! Now what?

Unless you or your child attends a year – round school, summer vacation begins sometime in the next week or so. College students have read more pages than they thought humanly possible, taken many exams, written research papers, and stayed up way too late over the past 10 months. Parents of school – aged children have helped with homework, gone to parent/ teacher conferences, E-mailed teachers, and maybe volunteered for one activity too many. This article will help you understand the importance of continuing your/ your child’s learning over the summer and lists several suggestions on how to make the fall back - to - school transition much easier! Suffer No Setbacks Educational researchers agree that students need to continue their education over the summer or they stand to lose up to three (3) months worth of the previous year’s learning. Think about that for a minute. It’s like going to class from March to May for no reason! Unless you keep learning over the summer,... read more

One of my fourth graders got published!

With obvious pride, I'm happy to post that one of my home-school students got published in the Magazine of Santa Clarita. Her article appears in the May 2013 edition, and discusses why she prefers the one-on-one instruction to a more traditional classroom setting. I'm unable to post it on this blog, but you can view and read it by clicking the following link: https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-tAfJm3GfIEc/UXq6QhJFvuI/AAAAAAAAFAI/iqxvuVnTxf8/w624-h765/IMG_20130425_170311.jpg If you live in or near the Savannah area and are interested in either full-time private teaching or tutoring in specific subjects for your home school student, contact me through WyzAnt to set up an appointment (http://www.wyzant.com/Tutors/TutorWithShaun). Collaborative web conferencing is available for a discounted price for those not in the area - just mention it when you write.

Homeschooling: Getting Started, part 4

The last article of this series taught readers how to create academic standards – based unit and lesson plans. The key to writing useful lesson and unit plans is creating clear goal and objective statements. This article teaches readers the similarities and differences between the two statements and gives three tips for creating clear, content – relevant goals and objectives. Similarities and Differences Both types of statements must relate to a manageable piece of content. Goals and objectives suffer when they encompass too much content. An example of a goal statement that is too large is, “Students will be able to write a novel”. There are many smaller steps students should accomplish before students can complete this goal. A better goal statement is, “Students will be able to list the parts of a novel”. You can creatively teach this to your child(ren) in one day. Goals and objectives are typically 15 words or less and do not include the word “and”. If you have... read more

Homeschooling: Getting Started, part 3

The first two articles in this series covered how to prepare to home school your child(ren). If you’re following along, you’re probably asking yourself the most logical question: how do I know what to teach every day and how do I teach it? The simple answer is, “By pre-planning using unit and daily lesson plans.” This article explains unit and lesson plans, why they’re important to home schooling parents, and how to write each of these plans. What are unit and lesson plans? In part two of this series, I defined curriculum as “what is taught”. While that’s true, this definition can also be used for unit and lesson plans. Unit and lesson plans are written as a series of step - by - step instructions that explain exactly what you will teach, how you will teach it, the state or national academic standards that say you must teach it, and a list of books and materials you will need to teach the lesson successfully. Both lesson and unit plans state how you will check (or “assess”)... read more

Homeschooling: Getting started, part 2

In the first article of this series, I reviewed the steps that parents should take to make sure their child(ren) transition smoothly and legally from traditional schools to home schooling. This includes: researching and submitting necessary state department of education paperwork, creating a school year and school day schedule, choosing subjects and books/ materials, and setting learning goals. What’s next? This article explains how to plan each subject along with projects, quizzes, and tests to ensure your home school is successful. 1. Create a curriculum calendar. This is not the same as creating a school year or school day calendar. A curriculum calendar breaks down each subject you’ll teach so the material is spread evenly across your school year calendar. Use the school year learning goals you created along with the state or national subject standards for each class you’ll teach. Read the entire state or national standard before finalizing your curriculum calendar... read more

Homeschooling: Getting started, part 1

Parents consider home schooling their child(ren) for a number of reasons. Some may be dissatisfied with the curriculum offered by local public and private schools. Others may travel a lot and want their children to experience other countries and cultures. Whatever your reason for considering home schooling, this series of articles will teach you basic steps to take to begin home schooling your child(ren). Today’s article teaches you six important first steps to ensuring a successful and legal transition from traditional school settings to home school. 1. Review state home schooling laws. The first step you should take is to research your state’s home school related education. These regulations are easily found on the internet by entering “home school” in the search box on your state’s department of education website. This will tell you everything you need to know about needed documentation, deadlines, how to withdraw your child(ren) from public school to begin home schooling,... read more

FAFSA Tips for High School Seniors

College - bound high school seniors are facing a deadline they may not know about: the FAFSA application. It’s easy to understand how students can overlook it with all their high school work and graduation requirements on their minds. But, failing to turn the form in can make them ineligible for college financial aid next year. This article will teach high school seniors basic facts and tips to make filling out their FAFSA easy! 1. What Does the FAFSA Determine? The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines you/ your “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC) to your college education. In other words, how much college tuition and room and board fees you/ your family can afford to pay and still maintain their current standard of living. In some cases, the Student Aid Report (or “SAR”) you receive will state that you/ your family’s EFC is $0. This simply means you will probably be eligible for more financial aid. It does not mean that you are eligible for “$0... read more

Free college classes!

Greetings, scholars! One of my dad's favorite sayings is, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is." The website Coursera is an example of why that saying needs the word "probably". The idea of taking real college courses from top-notch instructors at prestigious schools for free sounds impossible, yet students around the world are doing just that. When I first heard of Coursera, I was skeptical. To try it out, I enrolled in some basic undergraduate courses so that I could see how they stacked up against the classes I took at KU and Emporia State University. I am currently taking precalculus at UC Irvine, organic chemistry at Illinois, and calculus at The Ohio State University. All three classes are superlative. The video lectures give me new insights into familiar concepts, and the online quizzes motivate me to practice my skills and keep them sharp and up-to-date. Best of all, they haven't cost me a dime, and I can attend class... read more

Improving Study Habits with Psychology

In the early 1900’s, psychologists B. F. Skinner and John B. Watson developed a new branch of psychology they called behaviorism. Both scientists believed that human behavior was shaped by their environment and their reactions to it. They called this behavioral shaping “conditioning”. This article briefly describes the two types of behavioral conditioning and how parents, tutors, and teachers can use them to improve a student’s study habits. Two Types of Conditioning Skinner and Watson identified two types of conditioning in human behavioral studies: operant and classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is probably the most familiar to readers due to psychologist Ivan Pavlov’s famous experiments with his dogs (he actually used about 60 different dogs in his experiments). The differences between the two types of behavioral conditioning (or “training”) are in the kinds of behaviors each one targets. In classical conditioning, the trainer targets involuntary, or... read more

Standardized Testing: The Inside Scoop

Spring is just around the corner and with it comes annual standardized testing for many students. These tests can cause a range of emotions from confidence to near panic - inducing anxiety in students, parents, teachers, and administrators. While parents understand that the tests are important to their child’s academic future, they may not understand how the scores are used. This article explains some of the ways teachers use standardized test scores, their general thoughts about the tests themselves, and several reasons parents should review test score sheets. Teacher Opinions About Standardized Tests I certainly can’t speak to every teacher’s feelings about standardized testing. As you might guess, opinions vary widely. New teacher’s opinions on the matter are largely shaped by teacher training programs at colleges and universities. It appears to take about two years of full – time teaching for new teacher’s opinions to becomes more experience - based. By then they... read more

Helping Students See the Light

Recently I was asked to relate my favorite education quote. Admittedly, I had a hard time choosing. Education is nuanced. Thousands of teaching and learning quotes are relevant and memorable. After re-reading several of my favorite education quotes, I chose this one as my favorite: “Education is light, lack of it darkness.” (Russian proverb.) Teachers, parents, students, and tutors will all find relevance in this quote. Telling you about my favorite teacher will help explain why I think this quote is so appropriate. My favorite teacher was a middle school teacher named Mr. Z; that’s what we all called him anyway. He was an English teacher (now retired) and sponsor of the school’s Chess team. I never had him for English; instead, I was in his homeroom and Chess club. I didn’t have to have him for English to know he was excellent at teaching that, too. I’d known Mr. Z. since my family moved to the city where I grew up. He was the sponsor of the city’s Chess club. We... read more

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