Home education in the great state of Maine couldn’t be easier. We’re here to help you on that journey. We are just two homeschooling moms with over 20 years of experience between the two of us. We both love supporting those who choose to educate their children at home.
This website has been created so that not only we can share information with you, our fellow home educating familes, but also we encourage you to share info with us! We have a group calendar where events across the state can be posted. We want this be a central hub of information to all the fantastic opportunities offered in Maine and beyond to our home educated children. If you have something you’d like to add (a freebie you found, an event you are putting together, whatever!), then please contact us via the Contact page.
If you have a homeschooling question, please feel free to ask away as well. We will be maintaining a FAQ page just for that purpose.
Just remember that we are still educating children at home, so it may, on occasion, take a bit to answer questions or post information. Please have patience with us.
You do not need to be a member of any group or organization to share information here, we do, however, have the right to deny posting of anything that we find may be offensive or incorrect information.
Please check back often as new things will be posted weekly. Scroll down for more articles.
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I often receive questions about how to homeschool high school. It seems that many parents begin to panic when they start thinking about those last four years of their child’s education. I want to help lay some of those concerns to rest today as well as share some resources that you may find helpful.
Now, I should start by saying that I have yet to graduate one of my children. Although, we are definitely in the home stretch as my oldest son is in his last year of school. He has 1-1/2 semesters left before I can finally say we have graduated one. I have two more to go!
The biggest piece of advice I like to give people though is simply this…”If it worked in the lower grades, it will continue to work in these upper grades.” You should not feel like you need to change everything you’ve been doing now that high school has arrived. It simply is going to look different.
What do I mean by that? The core subjects aren’t going to change. You’re still going to continue to have your child learn math, writing, literature/English, science, history, etc. They are simply going to be doing it at a higher level. At this point, your child should be a pretty independent learner. You shouldn’t feel like you need to stand in front of a classroom and lecture while they frantically take notes on what you are teaching. You do not need to be an expert on the subject they want to learn. You should become more of a guidance counselor and facilitator of their learning rather than the one actively teaching them.
So how does that look? For my twelfth grader this year, he is taking one all day class through a local adult education program. This is a one semester, college level course where he is taking classes in math, English, technology, and study skills/time management. If he successfully completes it, he will earn one credit to the local community college. While I’m tracking his hours there (more on that in a moment), I plan to give him a high school credit in all of the above subjects. Essentially he is “dual enrolled” at the moment (I’ll explain that too in just a bit). He is also taking a writing class online. His history is video based. We meet with a Spanish tutor twice a month and we also meet with an art instructor twice a month. The remainder of his subjects are mostly some type of workbook/textbook program. I do not actively teach him any of what he is learning this year. I do, however, schedule out his days and track that he’s actually doing the work and learning.
One of the more common questions I hear is in regards to credits. What exactly is that and how do you give credits. Simply put a credit tells how much work and effort went in to a course. Typically a high school level course is one credit.
How do you know when to give one? There are a couple of ways. The easiest way is to simply see what the publisher of the course has to say. If they say that their course is high school level and your child completes at least 80% of the course, they can be awarded a credit for their work. Some publishers even say if you do (for example) this history course and add in our literature course, you can give your child a one credit each in history, geography, and English. Trust the publishers.
However, what if you are making up a course or your child is doing some non-traditional learning? Then you’ll want to count all the hours put in to the course by your student. For example, you have family business and you run a mechanic shop. Your 16-year-old son works there part-time. He’s learning all the ins and outs of how to run a business from scheduling, to ordering, to balancing the books. In addition to all of that, he’s also doing hands-on learning by fixing the vehicles that come in. You may have to get a bit creative on naming your “course” but by all means, give your child credit for the work he is doing! By counting the hours, you can learn how much credit to give. The typical range is 120-180 hours for one credit. The lower end would be for a fine arts type course or even working in a garage. The mid-range, about 150, would be for a foundational course (math, English, etc). The higher end would be a lab science. You can also pro-rate the hours. If they complete 60 credits, give a half credit in that course. You can do quarter credits as well.
A lot of area community colleges and even universities will allow your high school level student to enroll in some classes. Some will even waive all tuition and only charge the course fees making it even more affordable. When your child is taking a college level class while still in high school, it’s typically called dual enrollment. This is due to the fact that they are earning college credit and high school credit at the same time. If they are taking a college level math class in the fall semester, as an example, and pass it, this will earn them roughly three college credits. However, it is worth a year’s worth of high school math. You can count both of these things on their transcript.
What about course of study? Or how many credits in each subject do they need? Currently in the state of Maine there are no state requirements. Each school sets up their own graduation requirements. So while one school might require four English credits, another might only require three.
So how do you figure out what to do? First, it’s highly recommended that if your child wants to do something very specific (aeronautical engineering for instance – like my 13-year-old keeps talking about), call the colleges they are looking at attending and ask them what they require of incoming freshman. One of the great benefits of homeschooling your high school student is that you can tailor their education to what they need.
I also recommend that you gear all your children towards a college education even if they insist they don’t want to go. I’ve heard of too many students who thought they were going to skip the college road only to end up scrambling in those last few years to catch up so they could apply because they changed their mind. It’s better to aim for a higher education than to try to fix it too late. Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has a great resource on their website that is accessible by anyone – even non-members. I highly recommend checking out their brochure called A Guide for Homeschooling Through High School (blue cover). Inside it gives information on how to plan out your child’s high school years including sample schedules to follow. It’s been a huge help to many, myself included.
Now, transcripts. Many will ask, “What about an accredited transcript?” Let me lay those fears to rest. The transcript you put together is just as good as the one from any local high school. In fact, there arequite a number of public high schools in the state that are not accredited! I was a bit flabbergasted about that myself when I came across that information. However, the accreditation process costs money and time and many high schools are simply opting not to go through the process to save both. Simply because they are public high schools means that most colleges and universities will treat them as if they are accredited.
Donna Young also has a great resource not only for transcripts, but for all things to do with planning and tracking high school. Here is a direct link to her information on transcripts.
There is so much more I could talk about, but I know this article is getting a bit lengthy. I’m going to share some of my favorite links for homeschooling high school below. I’m also going to link up the online radio show Trisha & I recently did discussing homeschooling high school. You may find that helpful as well. Happy homeschooling!
Click the link below to listen to the Radio Show (audio starts at about 1 minute)
Virtual Homeschool Group – an online co-op. Free to use. Moms are the teachers. All the work is done online and submitted through their website. Courses include many Apologia science upper levels and Saxon Math. Live classes are first-come-first served and enrollment is typically in August. Many courses are also offered “at your own pace” and can be done any time.
There has been a lot of talk in the past few months about Common Core Standards (CCS). I know that I have personally dismissed much of it as something that wouldn’t pertain to me – a homeschooling mom. After all, CCS was being touted as the next best thing for the public school system. Then I began to educate myself. And what I found out was not only disheartening but also somewhat scary.
Common Core has set out to create national education standards. That sounds like a good thing right? For example, if you lived on the east coast, but due to a job transfer had to move to the west coast, your child wouldn’t miss a beat in school. What her third grade class was studying over in the east, they would be studying over on the west. Same scope and sequence. Same time frame. Really who wouldn’t want something like that?
All teachers will be given a checklist of skills and information that must be taught each year to every student. It will not take in to account the student’s ability. All students will learn at the same pace. Does it still sound like a good idea?
The issue comes down to a few key things, however.
2. The CCS were presented to the states with conditions attached. Certain education grants would only be given if the states accepted the CCS. The Department of Education also waived many of the more burdensome parts of the No Child Left Behind Act in return for the states accepting CCS. Not only that, but millions of dollars were given out not only to create the assessments tied in to CCS but to also implement the standards in the states.
3. The CCS was also crafted so that all students will be college and career ready. I remember when I was in high school that one had to chose which path you would take in your classes. You would be either ready for college or ready for a career upon graduation. Now, the standards are set up so that everyone will be ready for both.
4. The standards are very poorly written. Of the five member Common Core Validation Committee, three refused to validate the standards because they were so badly done.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
So why will this affect homeschooling?
Currently national assessment tests such as the SAT and ACT are being rewritten to meet Common Core Standards. Overall this part doesn’t have me all that worried since historically home educated children have done well on all types of assessment tests.
My concern comes with the potential for colleges and even employers to refuse to accept home educated adults due to their lack of a “common core diploma.”
Lastly, data is already being collected on all public school students. If your child switches school districts, the information follows them. At the moment, home educated and private schools students do not participate. This will change. The state is going to start collecting this data and it is going to be hard to refuse them that information based on the CCS.
Thankfully, parents and states are speaking out against CCS. Out of the 50 states, four did not adopt the CCS, three states have withdrawn from the standards, and one state has adopted only the Language Arts portion. You can see an interactive map HERE that shares more information.
There is more to this issue. Far more than I can share in a short article. Please research this for yourself. There is a plethora of information on the internet about it. I would like to leave you with three videos.
The first video is an interview with the US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
The second video is a bit longer, but well worth watching. It’s an interview with Charlotte Iserbyt, a former Department of Education employee.
Lastly, if you have 40 minutes, I highly recommend watching Building the Machine a documentary put together by Home School Legal Defense about Common Core.
Many times in our homeschooling weeks we would take a day off from the typical academic day and just have a game day. We would choose from our vast array of games and sit down together and play.
We played Muggins Math many times, one of our favorites, to build math skills, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction are all reinforced in this well-built board game. (http://www.mugginsmath.com/)
Another one of our favorite math games is Smath. It is similar to scrabble but you have to make a math sentence instead of a word using all the concepts of math.
DESIGN YOUR OWN
Sometimes the children would make up their own games which developed thought and creativity. Many hours were spent coming up with different facets of the game and then trying to play it to see if it needed anything else, then adapting.
An awesome game that also has many hours on it. This game helps the player to understand life in the colonial days. The players have to visit different shops to find the items they need and pay using shillings or trading. They learn about money management and bartering as well as what everyday life for ordinary citizens was like.
Because I can’t say it any better here is what an Amazon review has to say about this game – The board game Hail to the Chief can take the humdrum out of learning all about our nation’s presidents, the election process, U.S. history, and geography. The object is to be the first “candidate” to land on the Presidential Seal. The game, designed for children and adults to play together, is divided into two parts: the Convention and the Campaign. During the Convention, you, the delegate, must accumulate enough correct answers about presidents and the presidency to advance to the Campaign portion, where you’ll have to answer questions about U.S. history and geography. The beauty of this game is that the questions are grouped into four difficulty ratings–easy child, hard child, easy adult, hard adult–so players of all knowledge levels can play together. Some of the easy questions are really easy (“Name the national anthem of the U.S.”), while others seem a bit obscure (“Did Dakota Territory troops fight in the Civil War?”). The game also tests your honor, since the answers to many questions appear visually on the board itself (“What are the states that border Lake Michigan?”). This Aristoplay game is a Parents’ Choice Award winner, and it’s no wonder–the trivia-style game helps kids learn in a fun setting and lets adults brush up on seventh-grade history and our democratic process. –Diane Tuman
Game of the States
In Game of the States you are transporting goods found in one state to another state and try to sell the goods for a profit. Playing this game will teach the location of the states, the capital and what the major industries and products are. We have an old edition like the one pictured above, many hours of fun playing this one.
Scrambles States of America
This game is another one of our favorites. Learning about geography does not have to be boring. The game will provide a fun way to enrich basic knowledge of U. S. geography by teaching the names, capitals, shapes, nicknames and geography challenges using visual teasers. After playing, you’ll see that there’s more to the 50 States than meets the eye.
These are just a few that we have used over the years.
One of our favorite companies to purchase games from is the Gamewright Games company. They have quick fun games that have a “what kids will learn” on every game. From their website: Whether you’re looking for card, dice, board, or party games–whether you’re 3, 33, or 333, we cover the whole spectrum! Award-winning games for kids of all ages.
This is a list of some of the games we have played from Gamewright:
In a Pickle
So, have fun with your children and play some games! You will enjoy the time and your children WILL learn, (you may not want to tell them they are learning).
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I’ve been homeschooling my children for quite few years. In fact, only my oldest son ever went to any type of government school. He spent two years at a developmental preschool before I decided to try homeschooling. I only knew of one other family who educated their children at home. Thankfully that homeschooling mom was a huge support to me. I had never even heard of home schooling until meeting that particular family. I’m still very grateful for that support.
However, I really wanted to address something that I have been seeing occur seemingly a lot lately as more and more families make the decision to homeschool. Simply this…making the decision to homeschool is monumental. There is no refuting that fact. Having said that, I do fear some families feel that the decision to bring (or keep) their children home will solve a myriad of issues. They feel that the issues their children may have had in the public school setting will instantly be solved once they are brought home. They feel that their children will happily sit and devour their schoolwork, eagerly getting up each and every day wanting to learn as much as possible.
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The reality is this. No matter where your child is educated – home, private, public – they are still children. Some children may excel and some may not. Some children may sit and eagerly do their schoolwork each day and some may fight you every step of the way. Simply put…every child is different and deciding to educate them at home will not mean a stress-free environment. Trust me. I‘ve done my fair share of cajoling, arguing, and downright yelling at my kids to get their work done. Oftentimes I have dreamed of putting my children on the yellow bus straight to school simply so I could have a peaceful day without kids. Then reality hits.
While schooling my children at home is hard, the benefits far outweigh the cons. One of the biggest benefits is that my husband and I are have the largest influence on our children. We don’t have to worry about peer pressure. I don’t worry about the newest swear word or inappropriate behavior they may learn at school. While there may be times they come in contact with situations like this, overall it’s a non-issue for us.
So why am I sharing this with you? I’m concerned about the parents who decide to give homeschooling a try for a year or six months or through the summer and wonder why it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. I’m concerned with the parents I talk to who have an idealistic view of what life will be like once they bring their children home and then become discouraged.
Please know this – I will support your decision to homeschool. I wholly support home education and, personally, I wish more people would decide to keep their children out of government schools. However, I think it only fair that you know the reality of homeschooling – it’s hard! It’s probably the hardest thing you’ll ever do. You will have days when the only thing you can say you accomplished is to feed your children. And that’s okay! You’ll also have days when your reluctant reader finally gets it and starts devouring chapter books. You’ll have days when you fantasize about what a day alone would look like. You’ll have days when the thrill of discovering a nest full of eggs is shared with the grocery clerk, the mailman, and the convenience store clerk.
The reality of homeschooling is that it is hard but it’s also rewarding in more ways than I can possibly express.
Homeschooling is on the rise. The Maine Department of Education tracks the numbers of homeschoolers who send in Letters of Intent (not those enrolled in RAPPS or option 2 private schools).
2011-2012 = 4,730
2012-2013 = 4,991
Maine Public Broadcasting has taken notice. A few days ago they hosted two homeschooling moms and a 16-year-old homeschooling boy for a discussion on home education. Unfortunately, I missed the program, but was able to listen to it on their podcast link.
I was pleasantly surprised by the program. Although, I suppose I really shouldn’t have been. Both homeschooling mothers were well spoken and had thoughtful responses to the questions asked of them. I was most impressed by the 16-year-old homeschooled boy, Desmond. It wasn’t until the end of the program that I learned he was part of a debate team. He was extremely articulate and helped to show homeschooling in a very positive light.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a discussion about homeschooling unless someone asked about socialization. One of the homeschooling moms, Belinda Ray, used to be a public school teacher. She talked about how students in that environment “socialize” during three minute breaks between classes or 20 minute recess. On the other hand, homeschooling children often have two hours or more to play during “social” outings. It also typically becomes more of an inter-generational social setting since homeschooled children go with their whole families. They interact (or socialize) with adults, infants, younger children, and older children. I have found this to be very true in our experience.
She also shared how when she was a public school English teacher her class had 30 students in it. It would take her four days to have two minute consults with each student about research papers. This meant the rest of the class would be doing busy work for four days while this occurred. Obviously, there is more one-on-one time when you homeschool. Depending on how many students you have at home, it’s either more of a tutoring type situation (1-2 students) or a one-room-classroom situation (3+ students). I would venture to say that there is rarely (if ever) a day when one would have their home educated student doing busy work – at all! Every moment is used to its fullest to educate the child at home.
I highly recommend taking the time to listen. Both mothers share some wonderful information about homeschooling. I felt it was very encouraging to me and found myself nodding along in agreement often.
With so much negative in the news about homeschooling, it was a breath of fresh air to see some positive light being shed on home education. This article states that homeschooling has grown by 75% since 1999. My favorite statement was this: “…the number of primary school kids whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year.”
This is why I’m so passionate about supporting everyone who opts to educate their children at home. More and more people are making the decision every day to homeschool their children, as such, I’ll be here to help them on that journey.
Any family who has even thought about homeschooling let alone actually started knows what the “s” word is in regards to home educating. That’s right. Socialization!
I’m really not sure why so many folks out there feel that home educated children never see anyone but their own family members – ever – but it seems to be the prevailing thought. Many people feel that if your child is not sitting in a government school all day, they will never learn how to properly socialize with other people. Let me reign in my sarcasm here for a moment.
In government school a child is in a classroom environment. They are with 15-20 (or sometimes more) children of their own age. The interact with a few adults and actually have little time when they can really just chat and socialize with their friends. Many schools (just do a simple Google search) have implemented policies that do not allow children to talk during lunch. At all. They obviously can’t talk during class time either. There are even a number of schools in various states who are eliminating recess. So when does a child in public school even have time to “socialize?”
socialization: The process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status
Please show me one work place environment that groups their workers by age. If socialization is suppose to prepare a child for “adult status,” I have to say that I think the government school setting is a poor substitute. Nowhere does it say that this process can only occur in a public school setting. In fact, the majority of homeschoolers I have met have shown that their children have a better sense of socialization than their public school counterparts.
Yes, there are those homeschoolers who are awkward and have a hard time communicating with adults and other children. However, there are also public school educated students who have the same difficulty! It’s a stereotype that really needs to stop.
The majority of homeschoolers (remember, I did say there were a few odd balls out there – just like every type of people group) do spend time at home together as a family. However, they spend a lot of time out during the week as well interacting not only with other children the same age, but also with a variety of adults in all walks of life. They attend co-ops, music lessons, extracurricular activities, clubs such as Scouts or 4H, community service and go on field trips galore!
In all of those situations, homeschoolers are able to socialize with not only children but adults. I’ve been told many times how well behaved my children are after we are in a situation like this. My children know to introduce themselves, shake hands, make eye contact, and answer questions. They don’t duck their head and hide. While they may be out of their comfort zone and feel a bit shy, we have worked over the years to teach them social etiquette. Many time I even have to shoo them off to play with the other children instead of staying with the adults. After all, moms need some socialization as well!
Lastly I want to address one last thing a lot of people overlook regarding socialization. It matters who your child socializes with not just that they simply do. This is one thing I have been very diligent about. I don’t just want my children being influenced by just anyone. That is a big reason why I opted to homeschool in the first place. I want them to be influenced or “socialized” by people and, yes, even children, who make them better. As a direct result of home educating, I have the ability to put them in situations and with people that do just that.
I’m not naive enough to realize that my children won’t encounter people and situations in their life that will be difficult. After all, we all have had those times when people just make life hard. However, by simply making sure those situations aren’t encountered on a daily basis, they have time to grow and mature and gain confidence enough to handle them when they do.
Now that I’ve been homeschooling for awhile, I can simply shrug off the naysayers. I’ve seen that my children have the ability to socialize in a manner that most children don’t encounter in their daily lives. I know that my children are well socialized. They all have massive amounts of self-esteem and coping skills. Just ask them. They’d be happy to tell you.