Speech and Debate for High School

Many times I get asked what is required for High School.  If your child/student is in 8th or 9th grade, you want to have a general idea of what they want to do.  Will they go to college?  Into what interest/degree area are they leaning?  Do they have a college they want to go to?  Are they interested in Dual Credit college courses?

study.groups.tips_.from_.college.studentsAll of these answers are important so that you can plan their High School education.  In general, the state education agency has a list of required classes needed for graduation.  The state may also have a list of requirements for homeschool families.  Once you have a list of these courses, you can start to investigate your student’s college and major interests, and their corresponding degree plans.  For example, my son is interested in a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics at University of Texas at Dallas.  In order to plan his dual credit courses at the community college, I printed the required courses for the degree plan.  Believe it or not, English credit was not required.  So I can plan to have him complete his last credit (of 4 total) of English either at home or through the college.

One credit that is required for High School is a semester credit of Speech.  For UT-D, they require a Rhetoric credit, which appears to be a step above a Speech credit.  As my son is not a confident public speaker, I have been researching options for completing this credit at home or through co-op.  If you have a student that might excel in this area, you may be interested in Speech and Debate clubs.

To help with this topic, there is a great article through Great Homeschool Conventions on the 8 Benefits of Speech and Debate/Why Speech and Debate by Suzanne in 2015.

  1.  If you would like to complete a Speech curriculum at home, I recommend starting with Rick Green‘s Power of Purposeful Communication.  You can get the Combo Pack as well which includes his Living with Purpose. (I do not receive any commission for this recommendation.)
  2. Check your local homeschool group for Speech co-op classes and/or clubs.  In North Texas, we have DFW Speech and Debate that offers Summer Camps and Clubs It is important to investigate what is available in your area, as they have early registration deadlines in order to participate in the next year.
  3. In addition, the NMA (the Leadership Development Organization) produces a Leadership Speech Contest every year with monetary prizes.  The NMA has local Chapters and Councils that can assist you in getting connected.  They have their local contests in early Spring, so usually deadlines to participate are in January or early February.  Winners can then go on to compete nationally, fully supported by the NMA.  In North Texas, you can e-mail our local contacts: Jean Christopher or the Nokia Speech Contest Chair Peter Burns.
  4. Check out your local homeschool convention (This Crazy Homeschool Life 2018 List).  Many times, they have a Leadership or Speech and Debate group for the weekend that works with high school students.  It’s a great opportunity to discover talents and skills, as well as looking great on the high school resume!
  5. As mentioned above, registering for the Speech course through the local community college, is a great way to get High School and College credit simultaneously.

If you have suggestions for Speech and Debate opportunities, please feel free make recommendations in the Comments section.  Thanks so much!

The waiting is…


Good night!  Waiting on PSAT scores is interminable!  It’s electronic people!!  Why does it take so long?!

Ok, so maybe I need to calm down.  Maybe.

It’s only been about 4 weeks since my #1 son survived the taking of the PSAT.  There’s no pressure, you know.  Just means College.  Or NO college.  Right?!  No pressure!

It is so sad to me that we work so hard in homeschooling to make it about the education, and not about standardized tests.  And yet we have been brought low by the PSAT-NMSQT.  We focused on practicing for the test.  We feel confident in our test taking abilities.  And yet, one bad day could be disastrous.

And so I wait…

And the patience-waiting correlation is in a downward spiral.

So here’s to waiting patiently.  And praying for that most awesome of scores.  And a bright future for #1 son full of opportunities.

I can do this!  I am Super Homeschool MOM!           LOL

AND while I wait, I’ve been trying to create new projects and new opportunities, because, well….  That’s how I roll.  Have to keep busy, or the above insanity ensues.  If you’re in the waiting, what do you do?  LMK!

(If you’re in denial about your kids growing up, or maybe you have grand-kids in your near future, be sure to click on the Melissa and Doug affiliate link…  There are some super duper cuteness on their page.)


Getting Lost… Just Surviving

I will apologize if this particular post is neither encouraging or supporting.  This is a true journal entry.  And for my friends that always expect me to be “UP” or have all the answers, this post is not for you.

Have you ever felt lost?  Without purpose?  Are you just going through the motions?  Just surviving to complete each day?  Do you keep telling everyone, “I’m fine”?  Usually, I don’t go into survival mode until the Spring, but the fall has hit me hard.  We are in constant motion between homeschooling, co-op, dance and swim.  And I’m just surviving.

Normally I don’t broadcast my issues across the world.  I’m not into drama.  But I think it’s important, especially as homeschool moms, we need to support each other.  Some days are better than others, and these periods are usually temporary. 

For me, I feel this period of survival is lasting longer than previous events.  I can usually “fake it ’til I make it” for a couple of down weeks, but it’s been more than a month at this point.  And I’m choosing to talk about it, because I see that I need to do more than just “fake it.”  For the last week I’ve been attempting to work myself out of it.  Started new projects.  Participated in a webinar.  Bought or downloaded new books to inspire me.

And my concern is that webinars that ask us to define our purpose, and I draw a blank (and I mean a complete and total blank).  Books that attempt to get us to picture what delights us, so we can identify our vision, and I have NOTHING.  Books that tell us if we know our WHY, we will be motivated and successful, and I just can’t read it right now.  It’s horrifying!  (I’m a bit of a control freak, so I usually know something.)

I feel lost.

So here I am, broadcasting my own personal drama, in hopes that by writing about it, I might find purpose.  I’ve always believed my kind of problems are teeny-tiny and selfish, so I don’t share.  I know others that are fighting and/or surviving cancer, or caring for loved ones at the end of their days – so they are operating  on such a different plane of survival; my (truly mental) issues are tiny.  I should not complain.

Or maybe someone out there knows exactly how I feel, and we can survive together.

So, I received an e-mail this week that it’s Hug A Runner month, and the RunTheEdge goal to support this organization this month is Random Acts of Kindness.  HugARunner.com has information about GO HARD.  Starbucks new theme is “GiveGood;” in general, show kindness.  So my goal this month while I survive, and rethink, is to be KIND; to do as many kind and unselfish things to brighten someone else’s day, and in the process I might be inspired and find purpose in my day, and learn to be GRATEFUL for the BLESSINGS I have.

Thanks for visiting today!  I am grateful for you!  May God bless you tenfold!

Columbus Day |HERDistribution Blog

It’s Columbus Day!

Are you excited? Or are you uninspired? Did it sneak up on you, and now you wonder what can you possibly do at this point? Well, I’ve gathered together a few books we have on hand at the CERC Bookstore, and a few more quick and easy resources. Your local homeschool bookstore and/or library should have some of these books on-hand.

Depending on your current homeschool history curriculum, you can choose how in-depth you wish to tackle the subject of Christopher Columbus and the Exploration of the New World.


Many of the books and resources I will be listing come from Nothing New Press’ All through the Ages: History through Literature Guide by Christine Miller. For today’s purposes, I will share a couple of recommended titles, but you can check out this great resource on the Nothing New Press site for future studies. ($30.95 paperback; $20.95 ebook).

  • Ship by David Macaulay (RA/IR: all ages K+) – You can not go wrong with David Macaulay books.
  • Voyages of Columbus by John D. Clare (RA: K+; IR: 6th+) – Living History book. Well written. Great Series.
  • Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky (Step into Reading Step 2 Gr. 1-3)
  • Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad (RA: K+; IR: 4th+) – Loved this as a read aloud.
  • I, Columbus: My Journal by Connie Roop (RA: K+; IR: 3rd+) – Easy read with pictures.
  • A Book of Discovery by M.B. Synge (Yesterday’s Classics)(IR: 7th+) – check your local homeschool bookstore.

*affiliate link – Columbus Day

If you are a first time visitor, you are about to find out that one of my favorite sites for a quick and easy Unit Study is CurrClick.com. You can type in any subject or idea, and there is at least one resource or unit study available to download and print. For today’s purposes, you can find multiple resources for “Columbus Day” or “Columbus”. They have resources and crafts for all ages.

  • History Pockets: Explorers of North America from Evan-Moor (EMC 3708) is a fun project based resource if you want to spend more time on Explorers. Graded for 4-6th, it’s a great hands-on supplement to any text on Explorers, while providing educational text which can stand alone. You can find this resource at most teacher or homeschool stores, as well as in whole or in part at CurrClick.com.
  • Notebooking Nook – great printables. Love their images – you will find Columbus Day in their October Notebook.
  • M.K. Harllee produces a variety of materials.
  • Hands of a Child produces a variety of materials for LapBooks – recommend for 4th+.

Additional Texts:

  • Exploration of North America Coloring Book from Dover
  • Explorers Who Got Lost by Diane Dreher
  • The World of Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster

As always, have some fun! There can be joy in the learning!

  • Shop Local! – As a bookstore manager myself, I highly recommend shopping your local homeschool resource store. They work really hard to be there for their homeschool families year round! (our Store Locator List is growing – if your local homeschool bookstore is not listed here, please recommend them!)
  • For quick access for Columbus Day, check out your Local Library!
  • Shop the publishers directly!
  • For the out-of-print, and hard to find pieces, I’m including Amazon pictures and links. By clicking links into Amazon Marketplace, I do earn a small commission based on your purchase. It doesn’t change the listed price, it just supports my glorious book addiction.

** this is a republish from my other site HERDistribution.com.




Homeschooling for High School: PSAT

I recently published the following post on my business site.  PSAT testing should not be missed, whether you use it to practice for the SAT or hoping to be awarded National Merit Scholar.  You can click through, and read about how to prepare for and find information for taking the PSAT.

HURRY!  You need to register NOW if you want to catch this OCTOBER’s test date (this is critical for High School Juniors).

October is PSAT Test-taking time. Although considered the precursor to the SAT, the PSAT is extremely important, and not to be missed. As it is offered only ONCE A YEAR, this test can easily be missed. 2017 dates are October 11 (Primary) and October 14 (Saturday).

via HER Distribution | Archives | September 2017


You might know by now, this is not my favorite question…  but it is the most popular question when I am in the bookstore, as every child and family are different.  What works for one child, will not always work for another.

In my limited opinion, the above is true, except for test taking.  Every child should do better if they PRACTICE, and practice some more.

The SAT can be taken multiple times, and there are many resources for practicing.  So I just wanted to share with you what we accomplished within our homeschool (though the method is recommended for any child: public, private or home school).

  1. Test Prep Seminar or Workshop – Although many co-ops offer math or essay workshops, College Prep Genius (affiliated link) has been popular in our area.  My co-op, Christian Educators Resource Center, even offered the workshop until 2016 when the NEW 2016 SAT came out.
    • My oldest Logic Smart son attended this live workshop and received the workbook on paper.  As the new material was still being edited, he has access to the eTextbook (Kindle) and Seminar Videos through an on-line account.
    • During the seminar – they completed a series of PRACTICE questions.
  2. From Amazon, we purchased the NEW 2016 SAT Test Prep book published by the College Board.
    • Using KHAN Academy’s SAT app, my oldest was able to complete four (4) PRACTICE tests, scan them into the app, and receive immediate feedback.
  3. Princeton Review’s Test Center (Plano, TX) -Offers weekly and monthly classes, and test PRACTICE for SAT and ACT.
    • He was offered an opportunity to take the SAT PRACTICE test for free through Princeton Review in April 2016 and again in April 2017 (MORE PRACTICE).
  4. Official SAT Test – Students can take the SAT as many times as they like.
    • Although we consider it just PRACTICE, it provides us an opportunity to see if the methods are working.

What does all this PRACTICE mean?  My oldest Logic Smart son was able to improve his SAT score by 50-100 points, every time he completed it (officially and unofficially).

Because the SAT and PSAT have time limitations, and they are so important, many students have Test Anxiety.  Although not all of the Anxiety can be cured with practice, being familiar with the test, and what is expected, can help many students alleviate test anxiety to a workable level.  PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

test takingAttending workshops whenever they are available, taking PRACTICE tests at home, and taking the SAT at least once a year (starting in the 9th Grade), can go a long way to having improved scores.  If you haven’t started early, then I highly recommend taking classes through Princeton Review or Kaplan.  If these are not available, a variety of test prep books are available, and Jean Burke provides her workshops on-line at College Prep Genius.

For my youngest Body Smart daughter, test taking is NOT her thing.  So the plan, as described in the above article, is to start with the PSAT 8/9 in the spring of Eighth Grade , and PRACTICE the SAT as much as possible.  As she is undecided regarding college, I promise to do my best not to torture her.  But until she makes a decision, I wish her to be prepared for anything.


  • Shop Local! – As a bookstore manager myself, I highly recommend shopping your local homeschool resource store.  They work really hard to be there for their homeschool families year round!  They may be connected to a local co-op or support group that can provide SAT and PSAT preparatory classes and seminars
  • Shop the publishers directly!  These publishers put much energy into creating great homeschool resources,  so I recommend shopping their web-sites:
  • By clicking links into Amazon Marketplace or College Prep Genius, I do earn a small commission based on your purchase.  It doesn’t change the listed price, it just supports my glorious book addiction and my new blog addiction.

Homeschooling for High School: Preparing |herdistribution.com

I recently published the following post on my commerce blog about preparing for College, and starting the process early.  Please click through to read.

High School planning should begin about the 7th or 8th grade.  As requirements for graduation are varied for each state, and college admissions are as varied as the colleges themselves, research and planning should begin early.

When your student is in the 7th or 8th grade, you will want to make decisions regarding whether your student will be going to Dual Credit classes, what classes you want to complete before graduation, and look at the pre-requisites and requirements for accomplishing your High School goals.

Source: Homeschooling for High School: Preparing |herdistribution.com

For the texashach4 family, I knew I wanted my oldest Logic Smart child to complete his Physics studies with a particular co-op teacher.  In order to do that, we made some decisions for his 8th and 9th grade year, so that he would be ready for dual credit his Junior year, and completed his Physics with Ms. Patti.  It was a bit grueling, but we completed our goals.

Secondly, although I had a copy of Kathleen Duncan’s Homeschool for High School (Seminar Notebook), and Jean Burk’s High School Prep Genius, I really liked the format and Biblical application of Glenda Durano’s Christian’s Guide to College Admissions.  It’s an excellent tool.

Shopping Recommendations:

  • Shop Local! – As a bookstore manager myself, I highly recommend shopping your local homeschool resource store.  They work really hard to be there for their homeschool families year round!  They can help you find the best curriculum for each of your children.   If you have trouble finding one in your area, let me know!
  • Shop the publishers directly!  These publishers put much energy into creating great homeschool resources,  so I recommend shopping their web-sites:
  • For the out-of-print, and hard to find pieces, I’m including Amazon pictures and linksBy clicking links into Amazon Marketplace, I do earn a small commission based on your purchase.  It doesn’t change the listed price, it just supports my glorious book addiction.

Thanks for visiting!  Please let me know what you think!

What do we do with math?

Math, math, and more math.  Every time I turn around, there’s a new article on math.  How to choose the curriculum, how to teach the math, and why it’s important.  Let’s face it, everyone needs to be able to do some form of math.  And yes, even simple counting is math.

Obviously if math were easy, there would be very little differentiation in math curricula.  However, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, and wholly unique.  Some of us can see math, some of us can hear math, and some just DO math.  So curriculum producers try to reach all of our unique learning styles with their method.  Go to any homeschool bookfair in the spring or early summer, and you can see ALL the variety of math curricula available.  It boggles the mind.

So how do we choose?

First, you need to know the students learning style.  Dr. Kathy Koch of Celebrate Kids, Inc. identifies the “smarts”, aka multiple-intelligences, in which we all function.

All children – and adults, for that matter – need to know they are smart. It’s a power word and a powerful concept. And, it’s realistic because everyone is smart! – Dr. Kathy Koch, CelebrateKids.com

I heard Dr. Koch speak at the Texas Homeschool Coalition bookfair this past May.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  If you get a chance, go see hear and see her workshop.  My daughter struggles to identify herself as smart, especially as she compares herself (Body Smart) to her older brother (Logic Smart).  This year we hope to learn to be confident in our smarts!

I highly recommend reading through 8 Great Smarts by Kathy Koch, PhD before choosing new curriculum, it’s an eye-opener!  CelebrateKids.com


As a bookstore manager of a homeschool resource store, I get the questions, “What do you recommend?” and “What did you use with your kids?”  Because we are so uniquely created, and our family lifestyles are different, and even our family dynamics are different, these are actually tough questions.  What is the warning, “Results are not typical” or “Results may not be typical.”  I don’t mind telling you what I used with my kids, but just because it seems to have worked with my kids doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

What we use(d):

For my oldest Logic Smart child, math and science has always come easy.  A Beka Arithmetic was “easy” enough (on me) that I could give him a page-a-day.  With very little help from Mom, he worked the problems as given on the page.  He’s my independent learner, and he just DOES math.

  • Kinder – 1st Grade: A Beka Numbers K and Arithmetic 1; we skipped 2nd grade.  We used Math-U-See Alpha and Beta during the summer as a supplement for math facts.
  • 3rd Grade: Alpha Omega Switched-On Schoolhouse – as we were skipping A Beka Arithmetic 2, SOS Math 3 worked for us.
  • 4th-6th Grades: A Beka Arithmetic 4-6.  In 4th and 5th, my Logic Smart child participated in a “Rapid Math” co-op class.  This was an excellent class for establishing mental math.  In the 6th Grade, we added the A Beka Academy streaming videos for Math.  The teaching method was a SHOCK!  We were not quite prepared for the speed in which math facts were drilled.  Although the Speed Drills were not a problem, the oral drills within the video class were amazing.
  • 7th Grade: The Great Switch-a-Roo.  My sister, who has been successfully homeschooling for many years, and liked to teach math, opened an opportunity for us to take Fundamentals of Math at our local co-op.  We were so excited!  Within a couple of weeks, we discovered that Aaron could work the BJU Fundamentals of Math (2nd Edition) text much better, if he was not in class.  So for the Fall semester, we switched to the BJU Resource Lesson Plan at home.  He was making 95-105% on his quizzes and tests.  He was not being challenged.  So for the Spring semester, we switched to the BJU Pre-Algebra (2nd Edition) text.  Although the first seven (7) chapters were slightly redundant, we began anew.  It was much more challenging, and we completed all the chapters in the book by the end of August. (Again, results are not typical).
  • 8th Grade: My oldest Logic Smart child had no problems continuing with BJU Algebra 1 (3rd Edition) text.  Again, we used the BJU Resource Lesson Plan, and he worked independently.  Whenever questions arose on a particular concept, we used the Student Activities Book to reinforce that concept before we moved on to the next section.
  • 9th Grade: I decided for Geometry, we would use the BJU DVD’s for BJU Geometry (3rd Edition).  I wanted to make sure he heard, and saw the lesson material.  The 3rd Edition is a good, solid text.  The class DVD was a recording of the old BJU satellite classes, and poorly edited.  With the onset of the the new 4th Edition, this will no longer be an issue.
  • 10th Grade: With the new 3rd Edition text came NEW BJU Online video courses.  They are very well done, and gone are the old satellite recordings!  I could not be happier!   So for BJU Algebra 2 (3rd Edition), again I wanted to make sure he heard, and saw, the lesson material.  The new streaming videos were a perfect compliment to the text material.  The only thing I changed was using the printed quizzes and tests, and not the online tests and quizzes.  I found them to be more challenging for my Logic Smart child.
  • Junior Year: Based on a comparison of the BJU Algebra 2 (3rd Edition) text and a College Algebra text, there were only 2 concepts that were unfamiliar.  My oldest Logic Smart child was able to CLEP out of College Algebra.  He is currently taking Plane Trig through the local community college for Dual Credit.  I am so proud of him!  He amazes me!

Results are not typical…

My youngest Body Smart child did not see the same results.  She does not hear, or see, math in the same way as her older brother. And she is definitely doesn’t DO math.

  • K-6th Grades: I was concerned my youngest Body Smart child would not be able to get the lessons she needed, as I was getting busier in the bookstore.  For her 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade years, it was a real struggle to find her confidence.  We used the A Beka Academy streaming videos for Arithmetc 3-6.  She truly believed she was not smart, even though she was scoring 90+% on her tests.  I would not recommend only video for a strong Body Smart child.  I used it as a last resort when I could not find a co-op class.
  • 7th Grade: Having been tested her 6th grade year, my Body Smart child was smart enough to have started BJU Fundamentals of Math, a 7th grade curriculum.  We decided not to skip the last year, so she started the co-op class this year.  I believe in her ability, and I know the A Beka Arithmetic 6 prepared her for this class.  I am praying her confidence is restored this year as she matures into a teenager!

In closing, I do recognize that there are many curricula to choose from: Right Start Math, Life of Fred, Teaching Textbooks, Horizons Math, Saxon Math, MasterBooks, etc. The list is long.   There are so many to choose from.

Feel free to send me your questions about any Math program you have come across, and I will do my best to answer your questions.  Personally, I’m Picture Smart, so I might have to do some research and LOOK at the curriculum in question!


  • Shop Local! – As a bookstore manager myself, I highly recommend shopping your local homeschool resource store.  They work really hard to be there for their homeschool families year round!  They can help you find the best curriculum for each of your children.   If you have trouble finding one in your area, let me know!
  • Shop the publishers directly!  These publishers put much energy into creating great homeschool resources,  so I recommend shopping their web-sites:
  • For this particular post, just for fun, I’m including Amazon pictures and links, which may or may not be relatedBy clicking links into Amazon Marketplace, I do earn a small commission based on your purchase.  It doesn’t change the listed price, it just supports my glorious book addiction.

Came across the Kim Sutton series recently through our homeschool bookstore.  I find them interesting!  And who doesn’t love double dice or math manipulatives:

Thanks so much for visiting!