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Preparing to Homeschool High School (DVD) The Easy Truth About Homeschool Transcripts (e-book) The HomeScholar Gold Care Club Review by Dawn Oaks

Lee Binz
The HomeScholar
http://www.TheHomeScholar.com

Lee Binz, the founder and president of The Homescholar company, is definitely passionate about encouraging families to homeschool through high school. Lee has successfully graduated two sons from their homeschool, and both boys were able to secure full scholarships to their first-choice colleges. Was this success due to natural intelligence, or was it something special that Lee was able to accomplish?

Lee admits in her video, Preparing to Homeschool High School, that she is a woman who tackles any challenge with research, research, and more research. As her sons approached the high school years, she read, studied, and consumed everything she could find on the topic of homeschooling during the high school years. What she found is what many of us have discovered: the only real path to success in homeschooling through high school is helping your child to identify his passions and skills, develop them as fully as possible, and then communicate them effectively to the outside world in order to achieve lifelong ambitions.

The resources at The Homescholar website (www.thehomescholar.com) are targeted to successfully support your child's high school career from start to finish. The first resource that I had the opportunity to review was the DVD entitled Preparing to Homeschool High School. With almost four hours of content, the DVD covers Strategies for Success, Subjects and Materials, Planning Lessons, Record Keeping, Giving Grades, Determining Credit, High School Tests, Specialization, Independent Homeschooling, and Planning for College Success. Our oldest child is currently in seventh grade. I was somewhat concerned about our ability to fully review this product since we haven't reached the high school years yet. However, I found was that the timing of this review was perfect. Preparing to Homeschool High School answered many of our questions about how to choose the right high school curriculum, how to determine credit hours so that we meet state requirements for graduation, how to prepare for college entrance exams, whether to pay the extra money to enroll our child in an accredited program that would issue an official transcript, and how to tailor our child's education to incorporate his natural passions. After all, isn't that one of the main reasons we homeschool? Just watching Preparing to Homeschool High School confirmed in our minds that we are capable of successfully homeschooling our children through high school. Don't be mistaken; this is not a DVD that you will watch just once and pass along to a friend. It is a resource that will be put in the reference section of our family's personal library to be pulled off the shelf time and time again--much as we use our dictionary, thesaurus, or Bible encyclopedia.

One topic that benefited us right away was that of college entrance exams. In our homeschool, we focus on developing life skills along with core academics. Our girls, who are currently in sixth and seventh grade, have questioned whether it is really necessary to diagram so many sentences in their English grammar program. Diagramming sentences is not really a life skill--not nearly as much as writing and having a good working vocabulary. However, I've always been afraid that if we stopped analyzing the parts of speech in increasing difficulty, our children wouldn't be ready for the SAT or ACT exams. Preparing to Homeschool High School explained the types of knowledge that are directly evaluated on these exams. Both the SAT and ACT evaluate your child's ability in writing, reading comprehension and analysis, and vocabulary. There is no subsection on parts of speech or diagramming. Does this mean that we will never again diagram a sentence? Not necessarily. However, it does free us up to spend more time reading great literature, expanding our vocabulary, and building writing skills. I am thankful that we came across this resource from The Homescholar to help us prepare before we begin our journey through those high school years.

Our family also reviewed Mrs. Binz's e-book The Easy Truth About Homeschool Transcripts. What a big, hairy monster the "high school transcript" has become to many of us because we fear the unknown. Mrs. Binz's 109-page e-book presents the need for a transcript, reviews the different parts of the document, and goes over the nuts and bolts of calculating grades, credit hours, and grade point averages. How do you differentiate between regular high school classes, honors classes, AP classes, and credits earned through CLEP exams or participation in community college courses? Don't worry; it's all in there. Mrs. Binz reviews each of these topics in a straightforward, non-intimidating way. Sample copies of transcripts are presented in different formats, with discussion as to why one might choose to use each. Why go through all this hassle of creating a transcript for your child? Mrs. Binz gives a two-part answer. (1) Transcripts are the love language of colleges. If we desire to be invited to their party, we must communicate with them in a language that they understand. (2) By tailoring your child's transcript to highlight his knowledge, experience, strengths, and weaknesses, you can help him achieve his higher academic goals and thereby be all that God intends him to be. Isn't that what we all desire for our children?

I would be greatly remiss if I did not mention the incredible amount of support offered by Mrs. Binz and The Homescholar organization through their customer service. The Homescholar is not just a retailer of products. A core area of their business is supporting families. Parents have the opportunity to partner with The HomeScholar Gold Care Club. At just $27 per month, this may be the most convenient and affordable online high school support group for parents. Gold Care members have access to an abundance of audio and video presentations on the HomeScholar website as well as templates, links, free downloads (such as the The Easy Truth About Homeschool Transcripts), and expert advise through free office hours directly with Mrs. Binz. There are also a plethora of free resources on www.TheHomeScholar.com site in the form of newsletters, an RSS feed sent directly from Lee's blog to your email inbox. Mrs. Binz is also on Facebook with daily informational posts and dialogue through comments posted on her wall.

In revisiting my initial question regarding Mrs. Binz's sons, I do believe that they must be incredibly gifted and talented. However, without her expertise in guiding their educational experiences and representing them fully to prospective colleges, they probably would not have received full scholarships to their top choices in higher education. Best of all, Mrs. Binz's expertise and influence are not limited to her boys. Many, many parents and students will be impacted by her resources and support. I will definitely be keeping her resources handy for easy use with our family, and I will also be ready to share information about The HomeScholar organization with those in our homeschool group.

Product review by Dawn Oaks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2010

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