Homeschooling? 5 things you MUST know

homeschool girl

If you are considering homeschooling your kids, you may have heard many myths, like:

“Homeschooled kids goof off all day and do not receive a proper education”


“Homeschool families maintain an alternative lifestyle”.

In reality, homeschooling is a growing trend in the USA, though it is not legal in all countries. For example, over half of European countries forbid homeschooling.

What do you need to know if you are considering homeschooling your children in the USA? Below are five critically important things that all parents in the USA who are considering beginning the road to homeschooling should know. But please confirm this information with your local school board.

      1. If you are homeschooling your children in the USA, you should be aware of the requirements in your state. Twenty-nine states require an annual notification.Ten states require a one-time notification. Two states require approval. This convenient map gives an overview of the requirements by state.
      2. Many states have testing requirements. Some states require annual testing, while others require testing as the student reaches a milestone, like 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th year. Here is an overview of testing requirements by state.
      3. On average, homeschoolers do well compared to the general population. According to a study National Home Education Research Institute, homeschooled students did better than the national average on their SAT exams. ” 13,549 homeschool seniors had the following mean scores: 567 in critical reading, 521 in mathematics, and 535 in writing. The mean SAT scores for all college-bound seniors in 2014 were 497 in critical reading, 513 in mathematics, and 487 in writing
      4. Most states will not issue high school diplomas to home schooled students. So, many families create their own.  This video explains more about diplomas
      5. Universities around the world are welcoming bigger and bigger groups of homeschool graduates. Read what top universities such as Stanford, Yale and even Oxford write about homeschooling.


Get A FREE Copy Of “The Fun and Easy Way to Teach a Toddler to Read”

FreeToday, I created the Facebook page for the book “The Fun and Easy Way to Teach A Toddler to Read. When the book is launched, I will be offering 100 free copies! To get yours, like the Facebook page. I will be announcing the publication, launch and free copies on the Facebook page.

Great Reading Resources: Book Boxers

When teaching very young child to read, particularly children below the age of 4 years, it is very helpful to use many different types of media in order to support the things that the child is learning. It is much more interesting for young children if they are able to switch from books to videos to websites and then to games. Many children will quickly tire of reading from a book, so switching to an animated book will make the lesson less repetitive.  What do you look for in educational media? In my opinion, the most important is that the media should be fun. It should not be dry and boring like lessons you may have endured in your childhood. There should be a very high entertainment factor.

But unfortunately, it can be very difficult to find high quality resources. All children love to watch videos, so YouTube is an obvious resource for educational videos. However, it can take a great deal of time to sort through the many videos there in order to find a few that are good quality.  The videos on YouTube are often quite amateurish. Many lack entertainment value or learning value. It can be challenging to find quality videos which could help to teach reading and be fun and entertaining at the same time.

However, it is quickly apparent that the videos in the Book Boxers series of videos are very high quality.  The animation is very well done and the same language subtitling allows the child to read along with the voice.  The stories are short, many just 2 or 3 minutes long. This is important because little kids have little attention spans. Amazingly,  videos are available with US or UK accents. This is a quality resource that every teacher or parent involved in teaching young children to read should know about.

Here is a video with US English

Here is the same video in UK English:

This is also an excellent way to teach your child about the differences in the UK and USA accents.

Great Reading Resources: Super Simple Songs!

As a new father, I was constantly searching Youtube for quality music for my son. Super Simple Songs was one of my first YouTube discoveries. What an excellent find it was! Some of the songs, like “Eensey Weensey Spider” are just for fun. Other songs, like “The Alphabet Song”, are fun and educational. We enjoyed both.

Below is the YouTube Video “Eensey Weensey Spider”. Now there are almost 28 milllion views. We must have accounted for a few hundred of those views. My boy loved that song and watched it over and over again.

NEWS: Since we watched Super Simple Songs, they are now available from Amazon on DVD, so your child can watch them if there is no internet connection or if you want to take them on a visit to Grandma’s house. Click the photo below to see the DVD on Amazon.

This video contains the following songs:

1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
3. Row Row Row Your Boat
4. Rain Rain Go Away
5. Skidamarink (Puppet Version)
6. Ten In The Bed
7. Eensey Weensey Spider
8. Open Shut Them
9. Seven Steps
10. The Alphabet Song
11. The Alphabet Chant
12. Days Of The Week
13. The Months Chant
14. Uh-huh
15. Five Little Monkeys

We sang all of the songs listed above over and over again. Our favorites were:

* Eensey Weensey Spider
* Skidamarink
* The Alphabet Song
* Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
* Rain Rain Go Away

But they are all well done and highly recommended. You can find more videos and games at the Super Simple Learning website.

Free E-books for Toddlers

baby readingWhat kind of book should you look for in when teaching a toddler to read? Here are some important selection criteria you may want to consider:

  • First, and probably most important, is that the book should be fun! It should have fun pictures, fun words, fun ideas. Your toddler is at the beginning of their reading adventure and this is the moment that you want them to learn that reading is worthwhile. If they enjoy reading, they will be much more motivated to spend time with it and learn more.
  • Second, it should be simple. Beginning to read is hard work! Make it as easy as possible. The words should be simple and short. Most of the words should be in your child’s current vocabulary. If they recognize the words, they will be more motivated.
  • Third, it should have lots of pictures, the sillier, the better. Pictures will attract your child and make him curious about the book.
  • Fourth, it should have minimal text with big print that is easy to read.
  • Fifth, consider books which use one case type, for example, only upper case text to make it easier for children who are just starting out.

We have created a series of free books for kids. These books are  intended for very young children. The free downloadable e-books are made in PDF format so that they can be read on the computer or printed.

The free ebooks are made in big print format with lots of colorful pictures making them easy to read and entertaining for kids. The library of free books for kids current features 15 free books. More will be added soon.

Please leave a comment and tell us your thoughts about these free ebooks. Is there a type you like better? Do you have suggestions for ebooks you think we should create in the future? If so, please leave a comment below.

Why Chess Makes Kids Smart

I have always believed that Chess is an excellent game for developing the minds of children. I played chess as a child and now my son has been playing chess for two years. Today we watched this Tedx video which explains why chess makes you smart. If your child or children are not currently active with chess, I highly recommend this video.

Where do you start if you want to get your child or children playing chess? First thing to do is to download an app onto your phone or iPhone and buy a chess set.

Next, get them a free membership on a website such as Chess Kid

There are many excellent chess websites which can help your child to learn chess, but Chesskid is made for kids. The keep their lessons short and to the point, they make their videos entertaining and they have special security features which makes the website safer for kids.

Finally look for a chess club or chess school in your area that has a group for kids. At the chess school, your children will not only get lessons, but also, they will be able to play chess with other kids. They will also learn about local chess tournaments that they can participate in.

Participation in chess will not only be a fun activity for your child, but will help to develop their brain at the same time.




Why Songs Help Children To Learn

memoryNearly two decades ago, a Chinese friend taught me some words of Mandarin Chinese and a popular children’s song. Today, I have forgotten nearly all of the Chinese words I learned, but I still remember that song. The song was called “Mud Doll” and it goes something like this:

Nee waa waa
Nee waa waa
Yga nee waa waa
Ya mayo gen shing
Ja mayo sway ba
Ge sheng yga nee waa waa

If you speak Mandarin, I apologize if I destroyed your song. But I have sung that song for several Chinese people and they always recognize it and smile.

Much longer ago, when in University, I had to learn the names of the ten cranial nerves for my human physiology class. My Professor, Dr. Marian Diamond (without a doubt, my favorite university professor) taught us a helpful rhyme that I still remember today:

On old Olympus towering tops
A Fin and German viewed some hops

The first letters of the ten words of that rhyme represent the first letters of the ten cranial nerves:

I. Olfactory II. Optic III. Oculomotor IV. Trochlear V. Trigeminal VI. Abducens VII. Facial VIII. Auditory  IX. Glossopharyngeal X. Vagus XI. Spinal XII. Hypoglossal

Going back even further to grade school, I learned the alphabet song as a child. That song is still ingrained in my brain:

Q,R,S,T,U and V
W,X,Y and Z
Now I know my ABCs
Next time won’t you sing with me?

What is it about rhymes and songs that make things easy to learn, but more importantly, easy to remember, forever?

Two Stanford University professors proposed and proved that rhymes simplify recall, because they restrict the possible alternatives. In other words, using the alphabet song as an example, every line ends with a letter or word that ends with an “E” sound. The letters G,P,V, Z and the words ABCs and me all have an “E” sound at the end. So, you can not make the mistake to substitute the letters Q, R, S, U, W, X, Y, etc at the end of the line.

This certainly explains some of it but not all.   It also must have to do with the rhythm and the meter of the rhyme or song that stores the information differently than prose.

But songs and rhymes are not only easy to remember, they are fun to learn. How many silly rhymes did we learn as kids on playgrounds or as childhood songs, not because we had to learn them, but because they were fun to learn? Itsy bitsy spider, Old MacDonald had a farm, Mary had a little lamb, are just a few.

Since songs and rhymes are fun and make learning easy, what would happen if we took things that are normally thought of as difficult and make them easier using songs and rhymes?

Songs and rhymes can help to teach children to read by simplifying the process and making it fun.