Alternatives to Written Exams for Homeschool Students

Assessing school students is a necessary part of homeschooling. However, unlike public schools which have written exams for all subjects, it is possible to get a lot more creative with how you assess your homeschool students. Here are some alternatives to written tests that can be used effectively in the homeschool classroom.

#1 Have the homeschool students come up with a “help wanted” ad for a scientist whom they have studies about. They need to write the achievements of the person as required qualifications for the job.

#2 After reading a book, instead of writing a regular book report, have the homeschool students come up with a bookmark. The illustrations of the bookmark should reflect the story. They may even add a favorite quote from the book on the bookmark.

#3 Historical events can be reproduced in a skit or short play by the students. Have them depict prominent historical personalities going through the main action scenes in the play. Making costumes that are historically accurate and using props that are relevant, may add to the assessment.

#4 Have them create a crossword puzzle based on the lesson that they have read. They can use scientific definitions as clues for the puzzle. Have them print it out and share it with other members of the homeschool family to solve.

#5 Make a brochure about the place that they studied in geography. Have them come up with the main attractions, how to get there and where to stay. The travel brochure can be assessed for accuracy and creativity.

#6 Perform a newsreel. One of the homeschool students can be the main news reader at the studio, while others can be in the field at various locations. Have them explain different concepts like soil formation, or filtered distillation using this format.

#7 Run an advice column based on what has been learnt in the lesson. If it was mixtures, have them come up with ways to separate them. They can advice their audience about how the processes will work in case of different types of mixtures.

As you can see, there are so many alternatives to simply giving the homeschool students a written exam. Have fun coming up with more alternative assessments for you kids.

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Using Twitter As a Tool in the Homeschool Classroom

Twitter is a micro blogging social media website that can be used effectively as a classroom teaching tool by the homeschooling teacher. Instead of leaving the homeschool students to search through the whole internet, having them go on twitter with a specific learning goal may actually work out better. Here are some suggestions that can be put to use in the homeschool classroom.

Follow a Current Event Hashtag

A cyclone or an earthquake that hits usually generates a lot of tweets on twitter. It may be a good idea to follow official handles of governments to see how the disaster is being dealt with. Also check what prominent celebrities have to say about the event. Look into local activities that are putting together care packets. It’s a great way to be involved in the relief process for the homeschool students.

Tracking Foreign Language News Headlines

Whatever foreign language the homeschool student is learning can come alive when they track news in the language. Set up tracking for prominent newspaper or social media sites that offer news headlines on twitter in the language being studied. The homeschool students will see a huge improvement in their vocabulary simply by reading these mini news bits.

Create a Collaborative Story or Poem

Your homeschool students can set up a progressive story in which each sentence is written by a different reader of the original tweet. The tweet may be shared among friends and family to get the collaboration started. The same technique may be used to set up a progressive poem. It’s interesting to see how the literary works progress in such an environment. Pick a deadline to end the work in progress.

Observe the Tweets on a Specific Interest

From fashion to sports, pet dogs to home decoration, just about everything gets tweeted on the site. Depending on the interest of your homeschool student have them follow tweets on a specific topic. Let them learn about robotics and latest developments in artificial intelligence or simply learn how to care for their pets. They need to follow up the tweet reading with a written report of their own to prove what all new things they picked up.

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Making Homeschool Students Work When They Don’t Want To

There will be times when your homeschool students are enthusiastic about what they are learning and will be eager to get to work, but there will also be times when they are simply not motivated enough to care to do the work. As the homeschool teacher, the onus is on you to ensure that the work is done, and in a timely fashion. Here are some ideas that can help to get the homeschool students to work when they don’t want to.

Keep the Assignments Small

Cut up the worksheet into smaller portions physically, or simply take small chunks of the work that you need to cover, one at a time. The idea is to not overwhelm the homeschool student. Instead by giving them small assignments that they can easily finish, you keep them moving along in the right direction with less struggle in the homeschool classroom. Short breaks interspersed with these chunks of activity work best with younger grade students.

Switch the Delivery of the Lesson

Not everyone learns the same way. Some prefer reading the book, others would rather watch a video about the topic. The idea is to hone in on the method of delivery that works best for your homeschool student. You will find that even children who are siblings will learn differently. The skill of the homeschool parent lies in identifying what method will work best with which child. Once that is sorted you can switch the delivery of the lesson to the student as per their preferred method of learning.

Share the Learning Goal with the Homeschool Students

If you have given them an assignment, also explain what you expect them to learn from it. The concept of learning with an end goal makes it easier for them to accept the work that they have to do. By sharing what they need to learn with the homeschool students, you allow them to participate more in their education process. As they understand the logical reasoning behind certain activities that they need to do, or worksheets that they must finish, they will be more amicable to actually doing the work rather than making excuses about why they can’t at the moment.

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Paper Blogging for Homeschool Students

If you have homeschool students in elementary school, you may not want them putting out blog posts on the internet just yet. However if their older siblings have a blog online, they may be tempted to have one of their own. This is where having them write a paper blog could come in handy. Here’s a few ideas to get them started.

The Material to Use

The homeschool teacher can provide them with a cardboard or cork base that may be used as the base. This is where the different blog posts will be pinned up once the homeschool students are done writing them. They can use post it pads of different colors to write their blog posts or simply take sheets of paper from their spiral bound notebooks and use those. They can also use photos printed off the internet to decorate the base, or simply draw their own images and patterns to showcase.

Frequency and Topics

Having a structure helps homeschool students create the content for their blog better. Decide on how many lines or words need to be written per post. Determine how often a new blog post may be written, weekly is a good way to start. What are the heads under which they are going to write? Let them pick three and make one a miscellaneous section where anything goes. Have them their ideas about what they want to write and how they will share it. You may introduce concepts such as star rating for each post that everyone in the homeschool classroom gives as feedback to the writing.

The Blog Design

The homeschool students may use different sections of the base to write about different topics. For instance the top right may be used for posts on riddles. The bottom left may be used for descriptions of field trips and other events. The space in the center may be reserved for the latest blog post and can be rotated out at the end of the week to the corner of the board with similar posts. If you are allowing them to use colored post it notes, they can color code the topics of a similar kind together. The older notes may be pinned one on top of the other as space becomes a premium. They will still be available but need to be flipped open in the archive just like a real blog.


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The Homeschool Student Blog

With everything on the internet, it may not be a surprise that the homeschool student decides that they want to set up a blog for themselves. What can a homeschool teacher do to ensure that this stays a safe and learning experience? Here are some ideas and tips.

What and Where are they Going to Share?

Pick the Platform that they will use to blog. Is it going to be a personal blog on blogger, an instagram account for photos that they take or a page on facebook where they share their thoughts? If they are younger children you may like to stick with sites like Kidblog or Edublog where they will be slightly more protected. In any case, you need to pick the platform that you find is best suited for the kind of blogging they intend to do.

It’s a good idea to have a set of guidelines and rules about what information the homeschool students can and can’t post online. Educate them about the dangers of revealing too much of their personal information on the blog which could be accessed by any stranger in the world over the internet. Have a review process in place where the homeschool teacher gets to see the content before it’s posted on the blog.

Connecting with Others Online

Comments on the blog will be the first connection that they see. They may eventually take to sharing links of what they blog about in email to friends, and over social media accounts that they may have. Teach the homeschool students to be respectful in their interactions with others online. It can hurt to have a critical comment, but ask them to see the merit in the criticism and improve their content.

Have them thank people who leave nice comments, and interact with them on their blogs by leaving comments there. Give the blog time to develop into a success. Make sure that they understand that it’s not a one time thing, but a regular content writing gig. You can set the frequency at one post a week to start with. They can learn what to add and what to remove as they go on.


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Service Projects for Homeschoolers on a Shoestring Budget

Homeschool teachers may find that service to society may become difficult if asked to contribute in monetary terms. However, contributing time and energy as a volunteer for a cause may not always involve parting with dollars. Here are some ways to give without spending money. Given here are a few service projects that homeschool students can undertake.

Create a Guide for Giving

Let the homeschool students compile a list of all the charities and worthy causes in the city. This should include a brief about the work being done, who the people in charge are, their contact information as well as the details for donating money. Once compiled, the list may be put up on the internet on their personal blog, or emailed to a list of friends and family. Ask people who donate to come back and share a comment on the blog.

Get an Expert to Help

Many charities and causes are founded by regular people who care. Your homeschool students can perhaps find out what their requirements are and find experts in the field who may be able to help. They can identify a few people and approach them personally to state their case. For instance have them come as guest speakers to an event of the charity to raise more awareness about the cause.

Sharing Talent and Time

Making something from scratch and sharing it with the less fortunate. For instance if it’s the holiday season, cards can be made in the art lesson and then written beautiful wishes in. These can then be distributed to the residents of orphanages, old age homes, or even hospital wards. The idea is to bring some happiness to the people who is receiving the cards. There can be carol singing, or even a short skit to be performed at the venue for entertainment purposes.

The concept of giving back to society, when you can, whatever you can, is one that the homeschool students should be able to learn from these service projects. As long as there is a desire to do some good in the world in their hearts, the homeschool parent has sown the seeds for future potential good deeds.

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Service Learning Projects for Homeschool Students

Service to society is a good habit to inculcate in young homeschool students. Learning that they can give back to the community has an empowering effect on the personality of the child. Here are a few more ideas for short service learning projects that can be undertaken by the homeschool family.

The Cause is Important 

Picking a cause that is important to the students is likely to keep them more connected with the project. If they lost a grandparent recently, have them volunteer hours at the retirement home. If they love animals, they can work with PETA or any other organization that volunteers with animals in your area. The closer the cause is to the homeschool student, more involved they will feel. Explore the different charities and causes that are available close to your home with your children before selecting one that works best for you.

Have a Fixed Goal Project

A sense of achievement is often initiated by meeting tangible goals. So having a fixed goal for your service project is important. It could be as simple as collecting a fixed number of toys, canned food, blankets etc for an orphanage. Or it could be raising a fixed amount of money using fund raising techniques such as car washes, bake sales, etc. It may even be something like performing for the veterans on a holiday and putting on a good evening for them. It should have a defined deadline so that work is done on time.

Prepare and Provide the Service

Once the cause and project have been fixed, it’s time to prepare the homeschool students for providing the actual service. Solving the problems of logistics, who to call, how to help, and so on can provide an excellent learning experience for the homeschool students. Do ask them to record all their trials and challenges as they undergo the process. They need to keep track of the solutions that they came up with and how they were able to finally provide the service that they set out to do. Once the service project is over, they can present the homeschool classroom with a detailed report.

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World Exploration for Homeschoolers Through Calendars

The humble calendar can become a very interesting teaching tool. The very human need of keeping track of time has existed in each civilization from the beginning of humankind. The most commonly used Gregorian calendar today, was instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. With 365 days and an extra day added every four years in the leap year, make sit one of the most accurate calendars. It was derived from the Julian calendar that was used in the Roman Empire by Julius Caesar. However, there are multiple calendars in use today which can make an interesting study.

The Chinese Calendar

This is a lunar calendar with a twelve year cycle. It is based on the positions of the sun and moon.  Each year is represented by an animal. Those people born in a particular lunar year are supposed to have characteristics associated with that animal. Have the homeschool students research when they have their New Year. Also find out what animal rules the current year and the year of their own birth. Do they feel that they display the characteristics of their birth year animal?

The Jewish Calendar

Also known as the Hebrew calendar, it is used to observe prominent Jewish festivals. It is a lunisolar calendar which has 13 months in some years and 12 months in others. The number of days in the month also varies from 29 to 30 days depending on astronomical phenomena such as the rotation and revolution of the Earth, as well as the rotation of the moon around the Earth. It is said to have been set down by the Sanhedrin president Hillel II in approximately C.E. 359. Have the homeschool students find five important days of the Jewish calendar that are relevant today for celebrations.

The Mayan Calendar

This shot to fame in 2012 as the year that signaled the end of time. It is actually a set of three interlocking calendars, the sacred calendar of 260 days called the Tzolkin, the solar calendar of 365 days known as the Haab, and a Long Count calendar of much longer time periods. It has a five day week with a 360 day year. Have the homeschool students learn how to write the date in the Mayan calendar system using the notifications of all three calendars as the traditional Mayan temple priests did.

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Goal Setting for Homeschool Students

Self discipline is an important life skill. Having homeschool students learn that they are responsible for their own successes and failures can be a great motivation for them to practice self discipline when it comes to setting goals in both the classroom and in life. Here are some ways that the homeschool teacher can help them with goal setting and make it an acceptable part of their routine.

Set a Realistic and Attainable Goal

The enthusiasm of a child will have the homeschool student setting goals that are simply not realistic. No matter how much they would like to finish reading 25 books in a month, it’s just not going to happen. It may be a better idea to help them calculate just how many hours of actual reading that they will be able to do. Then add in the time factor by checking how soon they can read a single book. Now have them decide that they can easily read 5 books in a month. If they get to 6 it’s going to be an over-achievement.

Setting Step by Step Plans

The first step is to write the goal down. If the homeschool student plans to read five books, have them select the titles and write them down on the notice board. They can even add the extra book that they wish to read as added incentive to meet the goal.

The next step is to set aside a specific time each day for twenty minutes to an hour, when reading is permitted. This gives them a habit of working towards the larger goal in small chunks of time.

Now review the progress made. This step is important as it helps the homeschool student to monitor their actions. Tick off each book as it is completed. This visual reinforcement serves as a great motivator to keep going.

The last step is a reward for meeting the set goal. Here the homeschool student may be allowed to have an extra treat of their picking. It could be a snack they like, a visit to a park to play, or any other thing that can be used as reward. Try not to link it to a monetary reward, but to a personal experience that they can choose.

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Health and Hygiene in the Homeschooling Family

Maintaining wellness of your homeschool students is a huge contributor to the success of your homeschool. Having sick children can throw the learning schedule completely off course, so it is important that not only the homeschool teacher, but also the students understand healthy habits and follow them. Given here are some suggestions that you may want to implement in your homeschooling family.

Hygienic Habits

Washing hands before eating, brushing teeth twice a day, having a bath with proper cleansing of the skin, are just a few examples of hygienic habits that should be inculcated in homeschool students. When someone catches a cold, educate them about minimizing the spread of germs. How they can keep infection from spreading to others, as well as what measures others can take around a sick person.

Promoting Physical Wellness

Creating a healthy climate in your homeschool classroom involves looking after the physical, emotional and social needs of everyone in it. Have time scheduled for physical exercise such as games, yoga, or simply playing catch in the back yard. Swimming can make a good addition to the physical fitness routine. If there is a community center near by where the children can pick up organized sports like badminton, football, tennis or baseball, it’s a good idea to let them join the team.

Promoting Mental Wellness

Teaching your homeschool family meditation and creative visualization can be a very powerful wellness tool. Also add in time each week for socializing with friends and family. It’s important to develop connections that the children can relate to as they grow up. It is beneficial for the homeschool teacher to take some time off from the students as well. Find substitute teachers in your spouse or family members to take an occasional day off.

Healthy Lifestyle

Paying attention to the diet and sleep aspects of your lifestyle is important. Ensure that the food eaten is freshly cooked rather than out of a processed packet for at least two meals a day. Add fresh fruit as a snack rather than juice boxes. Don’t use the microwave as much as possible to keep the radiation levels in the home low. Also ensure that everyone gets a good night’s sleep of at least 8 hours.

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