Jury Duty, Civics, and American Government

Talk about going down the rabbit hole!  Today I had Jury Duty.  That great institution where we drive into the metropolis, to sit in a room with a couple hundred strangers and await our fate.  We hold our breaths as they call out a range of numbers, feeling both relieved it’s not ours, and commiserate those that get called.  As my #1 son is about to take American Government as dual credit, and I was researching reading material to add to his experience, I figured this was the best opportunity to really dive into Civics, American Government and our Judicial system.

20180710_172448000_iOSFirst, every citizen has the right and responsibility to serve as a juror in our courts.  It’s not the most convenient, to be taken away from our work and family to serve, but as voters, it is definitely our responsibility to provide our fellow citizens a trial by a jury of their peers.

So as a homeschool mom, what does it mean for my family?  In the state of Texas, the law requires we teach Civics in our homeschool.  In general, when asked, I usually recommend teaching our American History to start.  In most curricula, a study of our history will include a cursory mention of our founding documents and our government. In the younger ages, this is crucial to understanding certain vocabulary so that it is not so foreign as they progress through their education.

To assist us, there are a couple of resources for the younger ages, and available curricula. (For Full Disclosure, by clicking on links, I may receive compensation either through affiliate marketing, or purchases through my business site, HERDistribution.com.  These have been marked with #ad to be identifiable.)

  1. For downloadables, my favorite place is Currclick.com (#ad link searching “civics”).  KnowlegeBox and A Journey Through Learning, and a variety of others have placed their ebooks on Currclick for purchase and printing.  The list can be narrowed by age group, publisher, and sorted by price.
  2. For history, Notgrass has become my favorite publisher by far.  The quality and design of their texts is fantastic, and their literature bundle choices are excellent.
    • For middle grades, Uncle Sam and You (#ad) is written specifically to introduce students to American government and citizenship.  The material is divided into units, with lesson reviews, activities and reading suggestions.  I recommend for the 5th/6th grade with supervision and the student workbook.  I recommend independent study for the 7th/8th grade student.
    • *NEW* for elementary grades, Our Star Spangled Story (purchase from Notgrass) is now available for pre-order to be released in August.
  3. The Land of Fair Play from Christian Liberty Press is an excellent (economical) resource that teaches Civics.  The CLP website includes this text in their 8th grade set.  However, with supervision, this would be a fair text for middle grades, and could be completed in one semester.  Combined with field trips and activities, this text could be used for two semesters.

For high school, the civics and American government curricula should be in-depth.  With dual credit, it’s also an opportunity to provide a conservative discussion on the history and actions of our government and judicial system.

  1. Again, Notgrass would be my top choice for an extensive study on American Government.  The unit study design of Exploring American Government (#ad) is perfect for any at-home study, and can be used independently by the student.  The set is designed to be completed in one semester, followed by the Exploring Economics (#ad) in the next semester.
  2. Sonlight is also another favorite.  As some of you may know, my #1 son is an avid reader, so I have used the Sonlight list to supplement his education.  In 2017, we completed the Modern World History 300 series.  The 600 series represents with American Government/Civics study for Sonlight.  Over the years, the reading list has changed.  When they do this, I have to carefully consider which books we want to include with our studies, or if we’re going to use the new Instructor’s Guide.  At this level, the student should be completing the work independently, so you need to consider your student’s learning style to determine if you need the formal schedule, or if a basic numbering system may work.
  3. Another great system of books is from Uncle Eric Book from Bluestocking Press.  I’ve inserted a picture for reference, but you can start as instructed with the Uncle Eric Model. UncleEricseriesofbooks

These two books,Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? and Whatever Happened to Justice? provide the overall model of how human civilization works, especially the world of money.

Once the model is understood, read Are You a Liberal? Conservative? or Confused? This book explains political philosophies relative to Uncle Eric’s Model – and makes a strong case for consistency to that model, no exception.                                  ~Bluestockingpress.com

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This is the question I receive most often.  As I am in the finalize stage of planning, I am poring over book choices for my senior #1 Son.  As he will be taking American Government as dual credit at the local community college, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide some more conservative reading choices.  Another aspect I need to consider for this next semester, is that he has multiple classes, and will need a dedicated schedule to keep him on track.  Sonlight is still the best option for scheduling, but the current lists are not my favorite.

If you’re unsure where to start, message me.  I will be happy to help.  So while I decide for my student, I will include pictures and links for your perusal!  Enjoy!  (These are Amazon Ads, so just know if you click through and make purchases, they help to support my book habit!  And I thank you for that!)

The following list has 8 titles, if you cannot see them all, please message me!  As I work in a homeschool bookstore, we also have many of these titles.  Please message me if you would like to check inventory!  I am here to help!

And thanks for visiting!

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…

head-on-desk

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.)

 

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

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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.

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 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!