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Lately folks have been asking me about math and what I used for math curriculum. I enjoy and LOVE math. I used to tutor math for FUN! And I used to work at a math lab in college. I am not a math major or expert by any means, but I enjoy the math challenge and I wanted my children to enjoy it as well.

As my husband and I looked for a math curriculum that would work for our homeschool journey, we began comparing them and saw that the better recommended ones all did the math and got to the same place. However, there were several things that stood out with the one we chose. It was engaging, piqued interest, and had real life application on the child’s level; the story problems taught character, not just a math concept; biblical worldview was integrated throughout the math text—those were all things that I wanted for my children. In addition, it encouraged critical, logical, and analytical thinking. We didn’t have to memorize because my kids were taught to understand the concepts and know the math.
 
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In my last article, I addressed Determining the Need for Year-End Assessments. In this article, I want to tell you exactly how to set up IOWA™ testing for your homeschool student.

1. Find someone to administer the test. This person must have a bachelor’s degree or higher. This person could be a parent. That would satisfy the testing rules but may not satisfy your state’s regulations. Some parents choose to have someone else test their children so there are no questions about validity.
 
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As a homeschooling parent, should you use a yearly standardized test? Some states require testing. Mine does not. The longer I homeschool, the more I value a standardized assessment like the IOWA™. Here are six reasons I believe standardized assessments are a great value:

Number 1: I worry less at night about how my children are doing academically. Let’s face it—homeschooling is a huge responsibility. A test that shows me where my child performs among national averages eases my mind and allows me to focus on something more productive than worry.
 
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There are many different ways to educate your child using BJU Press materials. Distance Learning provides interesting lessons taught by distance learning instructors. Their lessons are taught on colorful sets and include video clips and visual aids to make learning fun. Distance learning lessons are available online or on DVD. Parents can supervise and facilitate lessons that have been already prepared using BJU Press materials. Teacher’s editions are provided in PDF format or can be purchased for a small fee if a parent prefers to reference a hard copy for reinforcement. Distance learning lessons are customized for the homeschool student and presented by instructors that have prepared those lessons using the teacher’s edition as a guide.
 
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One of the unique benefits of working with a HomeWorks by Precept consultant is gleaning expertise from other homeschool parents. We have asked our consultants to share their best tips for attending a homeschooling convention and here is a compilation of the best ones!

Before you leave home

1. Expect to be overwhelmed. Understand that this is normal and you will quickly find your footing.

2. Do research BEFORE the convention. Having a good grasp of the following will help you stay focused and will give you a more fluid start-up: • Try to find out what kind of learner your student is—visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or combination. • AND explore what kind of teacher you are—prefer lesson plans or free-style • What kind of approach do you prefer—classical, eclectic, unit studies, or an all in one curriculum? The all in one curriculum is the best place to start for newbies! • Discuss a budget with your spouse. The budget should include core curriculum prices PLUS additional resources. Don’t forget to make good use of your local library for extra reading. Try to save your money for your core curriculum.
 
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If you peruse various homeschool chat groups, you will see conversations comparing different curriculums—which ones are too difficult, which are not challenging enough? How do you know which to choose for your child? Academically excellent materials are engaging, help children to use critical thinking and analysis skills, and give hands-on opportunities for children to become creative problem solvers. Perhaps you have heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains. If not, you will recognize the underlying principle that there is a progression of learning from acquiring knowledge, to comprehension and application of knowledge. When they understand and are able to apply the knowledge to problem solving, children also are able to analyze by identifying patterns and organizing ideas that will help them then to use the old concepts they have learned to create a new idea. They will be making predictions, inferences, and modifications to formulas or models in order to make improvements. At the top of the taxonomy students are solving, making judgments and comparisons of ideas, making assessments, and making recommendations based on their evaluation—this is the height of critical thinking.

How does that translate to your child and your choice of curriculum? This progression of learning holds true regardless of your child’s ability to learn. Some children struggle just to acquire basic knowledge. Using hands-on materials and asking probing questions helps your child to predict, make inferences, judgments, and evaluations. It makes the “acquiring knowledge” part of learning easier and makes the application even better. Because they can see the value of what they are learning, they can see why it is important to know that concept.
 
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A few weeks ago I saw a movie trailer about Christmas from a Christian perspective—actually two perspectives. The first I have considered in the past and also have heard from family members and friends on occasion. The second I had never heard before. I’d like to share that perspective with you now, because it is well worth considering.

Before we go too far, we need to consider the fact that this world is broken. Sin perverts and twists everything—even good things. Because of sin, God sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem everything. Although our world is still broken, He promises redemption of our hearts if we trust Him, and eventually He will redeem everything to Himself. Because we are made in His image, we have opportunities to take dominion over the broken things of this world with the intent of redeeming them for His glory in an effort to be salt and light to a world that needs God.
 
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What’s all the buzz about when it comes to critical thinking? Critical thinking is simply evaluating what you are learning about something. As your child is learning new material, he is evaluating and making judgments based on his reasoning skills. That is why it is so very important to ask questions and to allow your child to explore new ideas. But what if he explores ideas that come from a non-biblical viewpoint? Good question!

One of the most outspoken atheists of our time has said, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.” Should we avoid allowing our children to think for themselves? No, indeed not! However, we do need to teach them the truths of the Bible, which is God’s written Word. If he accepts God’s Word as truth, a child is able to develop a biblical worldview. He begins to see the world through the lens of Scripture, including math, science, and other subject areas. He can look at topics such as evolution, politics, and even diagramming sentences in such a way that he can redeem them for God.
 
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There are a lot of buzzwords floating through the air this summer as we consider education. Perhaps you have heard some of these: biblical worldview, critical thinking, joy of learning, hands-on learning, learning styles.

Although these words are common in blogs, articles, and conversations, I wonder if you have had time to ponder the significance of them. What is your worldview? What is your child’s worldview? What does it mean to have a biblical worldview? What are critical thinking skills? Are all curriculums the same as far as teaching these skills? How much critical thinking should my child be demonstrating at this stage of his educational journey? How can I help him? Is he enjoying school? Is he learning at his ability level? Do I know his learning style?
 
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August is a significant month in the life of a homeschooling family.  It is the month where, if you haven’t already, you need to nail down several things related to homeschooling.  Here are ten things to consider.

1. Talk.  With your spouse.  Make it a date but with the specific purpose of discussing her ideas, struggles and goals for the upcoming year.  You need to make this happen and can use this list as a guide.

2. Curriculum.  A great place to start this discussion with your wife.  Help her with the research or discuss the research that she has already done.  Talk to other homeschooling families, use the internet, interact with the curriculum developers, but don’t lose sight of the importance of a product saturated with a Biblical worldview – not just a Bible verse or two tacked on to the end of a lesson.  What about developing academic excellence and critical thinking in your child?  Does the product cover all subjects necessary for a well-rounded education?  How do the various subjects interact with each other?  Who are the authors and what are their backgrounds and qualifications?  Even if your spouse takes the lead in this, make sure you have skin in the game by asking questions and understanding the options before you make a buying decision.

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Consultant Spotlight

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Esther Black

Esther Black is a second-generation homeschooler, wife, mom of 7, and HomeWorks by Precept Consultant from Iowa. Her goal is to encourage and support other homeschooling families to find the tools they need to continue investing in their children. ...
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Carla Heslop

As a homeschooling momma of 7, I’m familiar with the fear of ruining your children for life. I’ve even tossed around the idea of pushing my kids on the school bus and throwing in that towel! I desperately didn’t want to, and I just didn’t know what else to do! I was drowning. I needed homeschool help, and I just didn’t know where to find it...
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Beth Milligan

My name is Beth Milligan. I live in a beautiful part of North Idaho surrounded by glistening lakes and rugged forests. We live in a rural area where fishing and hiking are within minutes and where a moose may pay a visit on our back porch. In the summers, you will find our family of 5 playing a fun round of ...
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Natalie Smith

Natalie Smith lives in Fayetteville, NC – the home of Fort Bragg 82nd Airborne and US Army Special Operations. She graduated from Bob Jones University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Counseling and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education. Natalie met her husband, Germaine, at Bob Jones University working in the University Cleaners. They have been married for 13 years. The Lord has blessed them with two girls. ...
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Sharon Huizinga

Sharon Huizinga lives in Michigan with Tom, her husband of 13 years, and their four children. They both grew up in Connecticut, met at church, and got to know each other better in college at Western Connecticut State University. Sharon graduated with her bachelor’s degree just a few weeks before she and Tom married in 2006. She went on to teach second, fourth and fifth grades in Christian schools. ...
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