October 1 is almost here!

If you have a senior, you should know how important October 1 is these days.  It’s opening day for FASFA filing!  I recently listened to a couple of great podcasts about preparing for the FASFA over at Ultimate Homeschool Radio, and I highly recommend you check them!  FASFA Equals Free Money, and FASFA 12 Best Kept Secrets were very informative.  For instance, I had no idea that I needed an FSA ID to digitally sign the FASFA!  But thanks to the advice from Jean Burk, we applied for our IDs today, so we will have them ready by October 1.

One thing that I believe Ms. Burk got wrong is the tax information needed to file.  She mentions repeatedly in both shows about using the 2015 tax return to file.  That is the information printed on the form I downloaded, however that was last year’s form.  My research shows that will change come this October 1.  Yes, you would be using the prior-prior year’s return, however, come October 1, 2017, you will be filing for the 2018 school year.  That means that anyone filing for the 2018 school year should be using 2016 tax information.

But other than that, the podcasts were very informative.  I really appreciate Ms. Burk and Ms. Felice Gerwitz for putting together this great resource for folks like me.

Number of Families Homeschooling Has Doubled Since 1999

As reported by the HSLDA:

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) recently released the final executive summary of its fourth quadrennial survey on homeschooling, conducted in 2012.

Notable facts from the survey show that:

  • Homeschool students made up 3.4% of the school-age population in 2012.
  • There were an estimated 1.8 million students being homeschooled in 2012.
  • Concern about the public school environment was reported to be a major factor in nine out of ten parents’ decisions to homeschool their children.
  • Homeschooling has doubled nationwide since the first DOE survey in 1999

Read the full story here.

New School Year, New State, New Regulations.

I know it’s early, but we usually homeschool during the hot summer months to allow us to take more time off during the holidays and spring.  But here’s the catch.  We’ve moved -which is why the lesson plans stopped being posted in February.  We’ve moved from a state that had fairly lax rules and an area that was pretty friendly to homeschoolers, to a state that is pretty strict and an area that is anything but friendly to homeschoolers.

By: Chris

In Maryland, you have to submit to portfolio reviews, which are done by the school board.  In the county we live, the board is notorious for being hard on homeschoolers. As such, we’ve opted for the Umbrella School option.  Thankfully I found an umbrella school that will allow us to use whatever curriculum we want. Another thing about Maryland, is that we have to show proof of progress in not just Math & Language – which is all that was required to show progress in Virginia – but also in Science, History, Music, & Art.  I’ll be honest, we were doing Language, Math, & History with the younger two, threw in science as well for the oldest, & unschooling everything else.  Now that I need something more concrete to prove the work *is* being done, I’ve got to add something with a bit more structure in each subject.

Then there’s the oldest.  He’s doing high school level work this year, despite being an 8th grader.  In Virginia, I was letting him take the CAT (California Achievement Test) for his grade level according to the state, so that if we hit a rough patch, we’d have room to slow down & really dig in.  But in Maryland, you only get to claim high school credit for 3 courses, and he’s taking 4 high school courses – Math, Science, History, and Language.  So, it makes more sense to promote him to 9th grade and make him officially in high school.

So this year, everyone will be using Math-U-See, and I’m counting this summer’s swimming lessons & pool time as PE for everyone.  The younger two are using Easy Grammar, and BJU’s American Heritage Studies.  They’ve decided on Apologia’s Land Animals for their science, and we will be using SQUILT for Music Appreciation.  Besides Math-U-See’s Algebra 1, the oldest will be using Switched On Schoolhouse for Grammar, History, and Bible.  For science he will be using Apologia’s Physical Science, Typingweb.com for typing, and for art, we’ll be using a combination of sources found online, primarily Khan Academy & TICE 1010.

So… Aprendemos Academy officially starts it’s 2014-2015 school year tomorrow morning.  I am so not ready for this.

Two Weeks In…

Here we are two weeks into our current school year, so what have I learned?

— My Diva wants to learn cursive.  This will be hard considering I HATE cursive and haven’t used it in years.  Guess I’d better remember quick. Good thing I’ve got the internet.  There are plenty of resources, freely available, including fonts.  The best resource, however, is likely Donna Young’s Cursive Handwriting.  Lots of worksheets, animations, and more.

— Diva hates our current history curriculum because there aren’t enough females taught about in the text.  So, Google to rescue again! I’ve been supplementing the book with research about females from the era.  Luckily we are headed into the Exploration/Frontier life era.  I just happen to own all the Little House on the Prairie books.  Thank you Laura Ingalls Wilder!

— After a week of spelling, I’ve learned that while my youngest boy is doing a decent job learning to read, his spelling is atrocious. Then I found (via a friend on facebook) this article about good readers who spell horribly, and realized…  I need to take my boy back to phonemes.  We need to try to intervene in these neural pathways and make sure they being formed properly.

— After the above breakthrough, I had another breakthrough with my youngest.  It seems that his vision is all sorts of wonky again.  He’s seeing everything, but it’s off to the right and down from where it’s actually printed. IE:


So apparently spelling is the least of his worries.  We’ve got to get those eyes back on track.  Sigh.  Guess it’s time to visit Dr. Wescott again.

— Capt 740 is doing well, and learning how to do all this stuff on his own.  It’s kind of a relief to finally have one old enough to work on his own primarily.


Study Proves Autistic Adults are Socially Isolated

A friend on facebook linked me to this article, “Study: Nearly 1 In 3 With Autism Socially Isolated“.

Interesting. This bit really caught my eye –

” a study looking at the experiences of young people who received special education services,”

So in other words, kids who were either partitioned off into a “special needs class” or who got “special” treatment in school…. those kids have trouble socially later. Sounds to me like maybe school, specifically public school, isn’t the best place for autistic kids to learn social skills, aka socialization. Hmmm…

#HOTM Conference starts today!

Yea. I’ve been so swamped, I totally forgot to mention that I’m sooo going to the HOTM virtual conference this week.  I’m really looking forward to Dr. Guffanti’s 2 part session on ADHD vs Kinsthetic Learners, as well as Melinda Boring’s Adapting Curriculum for Struggling Learners, and Jeannie Fulbright’s Homeschooling Multiple Kids.

See you there!