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Inspirational Day

Today was one of those days that I won’t easily forget.  A sweet lady, Gina, asked to sit down on our bench in the hotel lobby.  She had an oxygen tank and clearly was out of breath.  After making sure she was ok, we started chatting and she started telling us her story about how she recently was finally diagnosed with Alpha-1, a genetic disorder that affects your liver function and that in turn affects your lungs, a disease dating back to a genetic mutation from the Viking days!

She continued to tell us how she was misdiagnosed for years and at death’s door and just knew there had to be a better way and that something was wrong with her treatment and as she kept seeking for answers, she discovered that she has this genetic disease.  Now she is a walking testimony of the great work that the Alpha-1 Foundation does for those with this disease (they were having a conference in the hotel I was staying in).  She shared with us how it is free to get tested for the disease with a simple blood test and how it can really make a big difference if someone is diagnosed at a younger age.

At the time, I was meeting with Arlene, from Inspire Charter School and another friend. We were all so happy that Gina sat down right where we were, because none of us has ever even heard of this disease!  What was even more remarkable was her journey and how she never gave up, even when she was near death.  She questioned the doctors and kept searching for answers on her own.   She just sounded like a true homeschooler! When she found out that we were homeschooling, she said that she would’ve done it if it was an option when she was younger and she mentioned how she skipped high school and attended community college herself instead!

This experience inspired me just once again to continue encouraging our children to always use critical thinking, question those in authority when needed, not just blindly following the “expert” advice.  It was also another reminder of how perseverance is such an important character trait to teach.  I love how homeschooling allows us to have more time with our kids and it makes me so grateful that I’m able to be around to teach these important traits to my kids and the kids at Learn Beyond The Book.


New hybrid school program for Santa Clarita starting Fall 2015!

inspirelogoThe great news about charter schools just keep coming this week!!

As you know, Learn Beyond The Book already partners with 10 great charter schools offering classes and social groups, fieldtrips, and more to their students and will continue to do so (Golden Valley, Sky Mountain, Gorman, SCVi, iLead Lancaster, iLead Exploration, Sage Oak, Albert Einstein Academy, Excel Academy, and Mission View Charter Schools).

I’m very excited to let you know that Inspire Charter School has partnered with Learn Beyond The Book, to provide a true hybrid program for homeschoolers/hybrid schoolers in a new Specialty Program, starting Fall 2015.  There are many benefits for you as a result of our partnership.  Most families will love the ability to choose up to any six of the available Beyond The Book classes each semester.  These classes are available tuition free for all enrolled Inspire Charter School students.  If students want to take more than the six classes, parents are free to pay the rest out of pocket.

The whole goal of Inspire is to simplify things in order to give students the best individualized education program possible.  Inspire provides special education services and the teacher assigned to your student will be available for assisting parents in getting any questions answered that you might have about the program or homeschooling in general.

A credentialed teacher, assigned to the students at Learn Beyond The Book (one of our own local teachers), will be on site at Learn Beyond The Book at regular predetermined times and they will be collecting the monthly work samples, most of which will be created during Learn Beyond The Book class times from students/parents, as well as an attendance calendar, which has to be initialed by the students and signed by parents for all days attended in the month.   Since the teacher will know the students from being on site, they wouldn’t have to meet with them and the parents for an hour each month.  Parents also won’t have to fill out any specific learning logs.  We are excited to have Kelli Mejia, a homeschool mom herself, be our first teacher!

If your student chooses to use the online courses available to them, the funding for those will not reduce your tuition-free classes.  For K-8 students, K12 or Odysseyware is available and A-G approved APEX for high school students.  Students in high school could replace APEX courses with community college classes and/or test out of certain courses.   High School Science courses with labs done through APEX will have labs completed by attending 2 Saturdays per semester of lab time.  Electives taken at Learn Beyond The Book can count for credit under certain circumstances, so please see this article for more details.  High school credentialed teachers are available all week for students’ questions via phone and online and classes taught by our own credentialed teachers will be able to count for high school credit.

When testing time rolls around, all Inspire state testing will also be conducted at Learn Beyond The Book’s facility and proctored by the assigned teacher(s).   Inspire doesn’t believe in teaching to the test so students will not feel pressure about that.

If students want to use funding at other vendors as well, they can enroll in a different program of Inspire with an annual budget of $1,000 for enrichment with the core subjects being done through one of the online platforms (K12, Odysseyware and APEX).  In this program, students have to use the online curriculum.

There are limited spots available for the Fall, so don’t delay your enrollment if this sounds like a great fit for your family.  Then also register on our site for the classes you want and put Inspire down as your school.

A free information meeting to provide you with more details about Inspire’s partnership with Learn Beyond The Book was held on July 16, 2015 and here is a partial recording of the meeting (forgot to push record right away, but what you missed is in this article).

Spotlight on Homeschool Wind & Percussion Band

Have you ever wished your child could play in a Wind & Percussion band at school, but thought that it might be hard to pull off because of the fact that you’re homeschooling? Maybe you don’t want to pay for Flute, Trumpet or Drum lessons first and then get into a band, because maybe the kids won’t even want to take it or won’t be excited about practicing, even though you see the benefits of learning to read music and play an instrument.

Well, there is good news.  At Learn Beyond The Book, we have started a Band program and it has been so fun!  The kids don’t have to be trained in any instrument before joining the band.  They can join and receive lessons as part of band practice.  The motivating factor for getting better is that they’re playing in a band with their friends and that usually helps motivate them to practice.

Our awesome band director, Kris Chase, has played in a lot of bands and can teach all the different wind/percussion instruments.  We have Beginnning and Intermediate Band, so if your child has already been trained in one of the instruments, they can join the Intermediate Band and if they are brand new, Beginning Band would be perfect.  The Band meets Monday afternoons starting 9/14.  Beginning Band meets at 5-5:45pm and Intermediate Band meets 4:15-5pm.

A great perk is that we are allowing homeschool parents of enrolled band students to join us for free if they would like to play as well.

To register for Beginning or Intermediate Band, click here.

Don’t stress too much!

I have to write a short encouragement to you all tonight:

About 5 or 6 years ago I had a teenager who was not that interested in Math whatsoever, not terribly interested in a lot of Academics. In fact we had such constant nagging over getting Math done every day and so inconsistently succeeded that I decided he could learn it later on if he had the need for it.  I valued a good relationship with him more than him knowing Algebra.

At the time we were doing Decimals, Fractions and some other basic Math leading up to Pre-Algebra.  We didn’t do a whole lot of Math past that point.  In the back of my head I felt very conflicted, especially since I love Math and I knew he probably would need it later on.  I still felt though that he had the tools to learn it one day if he ever needed it.  A few years later, we picked up a Math curriculum written by a college professor with a great DVD and he took it upon himself to start studying Algebra 1.  He continued on and started Algebra 2 with the same publisher and then the day came about 6 months ago, when he decided to pursue Engineering and he realized he would have to get to Calculus.

He took off and studied Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus with the help of Khan Academy and some input from myself and his Dad and today he tested into Calculus 1 with his college placement test.  I’m so proud of you, Jonny Hyman, for all the hard work you’ve put into this and for what you’ve accomplished all by yourself.  I know you will be ready for anything now!

What this has proven to me just once again is that it is true that once a child sees the point in learning something and they see the need for it, they will do whatever it takes to push through it if they have the character training in place of perseverance and a high work ethic.  Expose them to good life skills and books like 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens. Show them the joy those have who have found their passion and possibly an example or two of people who really hate their jobs. Academically, all they need will be the basics of the core subjects, that they learn early on and then they’ll take off. It fills me with so much joy to know that he now also loves Math, like myself and that he actually finds it more fascinating than even myself because he truly discovered it on his own and made those connections. He has long surpassed me now. Go Jonny!!
To everyone else, don’t stress too much if your child is “behind”, “ahead” or any other label, just help them find their way 🙂  All they need will be the basics of the core subjects, which they learn early on, maybe another Math teacher or tutor along the way, and then they’ll take off, in whatever direction they are meant to go.  It fills me with so much joy to know that my son now also loves Math, like myself and that he actually finds it more fascinating than even myself because he truly discovered it on his own and made those important connections.  He has long surpassed me now.  Go Jonny!!

To everyone else, don’t stress too much : )

Why homeschool parents want to quit and why they shouldn’t

As homeschooling families, we all have our good days and our bad days, just like any other regular family. The only difference is that, since we homeschool, we might potentially be with the kid who is causing us distress the whole day while other families might have some hours that the child is at school to think about how to handle the situation when the child returns from school, time to sort of push the “reset” button. So, our bad days sometimes feel like bad weeks, bad months or even a bad year. There are many reasons for things going wrong and for most there are solutions that work differently for different children. Today I want to write about what it is that pushes most families to thinking that they should stop homeschooling (or never even start) and invite you to investigate why that shouldn’t make you stop and how it can potentially be solved. Most of all I want everyone to realize they are NOT alone in these struggles, it is very common.

Here are some common concerns that homeschoolers face during the years of homeschooling:

• Student(s) resisting instruction

• It’s too expensive

• We have a lot of hard days

• I’m scared my kids will have gaps in their education

• I’m worried I’ll mess them up

• I’m not patient enough to do this

• I’m worried they don’t have enough friends

In this article, the first in a series, I would like to explore just the first concern and in subsequent articles, the others will be discussed.

Student(s) resisting instruction

Many of us probably have encountered the child who, when called to start “school”, gives a sigh and asks, “Do I have to?” Although that is not a fun thing to hear when you spent several hours preparing something that you think would be important or even fun, it is important to not take it personally.

Remember the following possibilities:

– If you were waking the child up to go to the school down the street, you probably would’ve had the same response, but wouldn’t have thought anything of it, because that would be “normal”, because everyone else also deals with that and you’re not anything unusual.

– A lot of times if you have a child just coming out of traditional school, they might need some time to deschool first.

– It’s not always easy and neither is it fun to be pulled out of doing something you’re really enjoying to do something that you might not be that interested in. We don’t even like it as adults.

Some possible solutions:

As is the case with all homeschooling issues, there isn’t just one answer, but several possible options that might be helpful.

– Give the child a time that school will start and it is great to have that be a consistent time, e.g. 9am every morning or 2pm or whatever time works best with their natural rhythm and age (teens usually like to sleep in way later).

– Give the student some warning, e.g. remind them about 10 minutes before they need to start.

– Some families let the student set their own schedule. They are given an assignment sheet for each day and they have freedom to do those things whenever they would like as long as it’s done by the end of the day. This encourages time management and self-regulation, but it might have to be slowly implemented with younger children who might have a hard time to manage all their time right away.

– Reconsider the curriculum you’re using if this is a common occurrence where the child is complaining about doing school work. It might not fit their learning style or modality. Keep the lines of communication open and don’t take anything personally.

– Always encourage them to give you feedback. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to feel what they’re feeling. The more they have a say in how and what they’re learning, the more likely they will be active participants.

– If the problem persists, consider setting up a meeting with a homeschool consultant (like myself) to discuss potential solutions for your specific situation.

More on the other concerns in my next article.

New to homeschooling… where do I start!?

I’m homeschooling… I have no idea where to start! HELP!

First of all, congratulations on deciding to take a pro-active approach towards your children’s education. Secondly, I know how scary this can feel, much like you felt the first time your oldest child was put into your arms and you had to start parenting and had no idea what you were doing. As you look back, I’m sure you, like most parents, would’ve told your younger self to relax and enjoy it as much as possible. You really CAN do this! You’ve successfully taught them to walk and talk, and you can take it the rest of the way! You are not alone and there are great resources available, more now than ever before.

In this article I would like to guide you a little on where to start with some practical tips to make the process move along a little smoother.

1. In another article about where to start, I listed some steps to consider, but here are some more.

2. Join as many local support groups as you can find and know where to find information for local homeschooling. Then start attending some of the events and field trips to get connected.

For Santa Clarita, that is easy, because we have a lot of support out here and hundreds, if not thousands, of homeschool families. There are TONS of social activities and if you hook up here, you will find out about all of them.

Here are some links to get you started:





3. Attend a homeschool information meeting where you can ask questions and get some basic homeschool information – there is one about once a month and details about it is available on the LearnBeyondTheBook.com website

4. Read “how to” books about homeschooling.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Maria-emma Willis, ISBN 978-0761520139

The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick, ISBN 978-0880620741

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto, ISBN 978-0865714489

How Children Learn by John Holt, ISBN 978-0201484045

101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy, ISBN 978-0929320151

The Teenage Liberation Handbook ISBN 978-0962959172

5. Attend a local park day and listen to all the veteran moms talk about curriculum and classes and ask your questions. Most likely someone else has the same question or has used that curriculum before that you have a question about. You can talk while your children will form important friendship bonds with the other kids.

6. Attend your first Used Curriculum Sale – these are always in the summer months, the next one coming up July 26. It’s a great time to look at curriculum hands-on before purchasing it and the prices are a fraction of the cost of new curriculum. Definitely go to one of these before buying new curriculum if possible.

7. Go to your local teacher’s store. They have great workbooks, educational toys and games, and school supplies. You can find these at Learn Beyond The Book’s store that is open every Monday – Thursday 12:30-4:30pm (see more details at SCVBeyondBooks.com)

8. Attend your first curriculum fair/convention. These usually also occur during the summer months. They provide lots of great talks and discussions where you can learn more. If you missed it this year, don’t worry, they happen every year.

9. Like the Learn Beyond The Book page on Facebook. Our Facebook page provides inspiration, current news, homeschool humor, and lots more and it’s LOCAL!

10. Familiarize yourself with the California Homeschool Network (CHN) website where you can find answers to questions about if it is legal to homeschool and tons more information. It is also great to refer friends and family to, if needed.

11. Take a look at the California Department of Education website if you are wondering about standards and what would be covered in different grades in a public school.

12. Decide if you are going to file your own PSA or if you are going to register with a charter school. Feel free to read my other article about charter schools so that you can get a better understanding what that involves. If you decide on a charter school, make sure to apply ASAP.

13. ENJOY your children and being together as a family!

Spotlight on Language Arts

What skill do you use more than any other in your life?  I would venture to say it is your ability to read, interpret what you read and then explain it to someone or write something about it.  In college, that is, other than Math skills, without a doubt the biggest asset to be proficient in reading and writing.  It is the one skill that you will have to use in every class.

In school, we call this Language Arts and it includes skills such as Reading, Phonics, Reading Comprehension, Literary Analysis, Writing, and Grammar. I’m excited to focus a bit this week on the exciting and crucial classes we are offering this Fall 2014 semester covering Language Arts.  Many of our classes combine different subject areas in unit studies and cross-curricular classes, so I’ll be including those as well.

For our youngest students (5-8yo.) we offer:

– Phonics, Literature, and Reading Comprehension with Cindy Dominguez, a credentialed teacher, reading specialist, and educational therapist.  The class would be a good class to have regardless of the teacher, but with Cindy’s kind and gentle approach all students are guaranteed progress in these areas in a fun, loving, and supportive environment.

– On Thursdays, Rachael Ward and Ashlyn Setterfield are offering Science, Social Studies, Language & Math Through Stories.  The class will be based on great children’s literature and with a history theme.  Rachael and Ashlyn with their energy and engaging personalities are perfect to do a literature-based unit study.  In this class students will be able to take care of lots of subject areas including Language and combining it with good literature.  They also have lots of samples to take home for use with the charter schools. Once students can read, they start focusing on spelling, grammar, and writing.

For our 8+yo. students we will be offering the following:

– Basic Grammar & Root Words with Games where we focus on basic punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, types of sentences and learn a ton of root words that help with vocabulary, spelling, and ultimately SATs.  We even learn some common idioms and figures of speech.  We’ll focus on common mistakes when using apostrophes and homophones.   As in many of our classes, the concepts learned will be solidified with lots of educational games and hands-on activities.

– Kathy Reynar will be offering her popular Literature & Writing class for students 11-14yo. where they will be focusing on books such as Phantom Tollbooth, The Giver, Walk Two Moons, Bud, Not Buddy and Absolutely Normal Chaos.  Kathy is a credentialed teacher as well and is known for her awesome Lit & Writing classes with lots of great discussions.

– Our chronological World History unit study, covering Early Modern History (1600-1850A.D.) this year, will once again include Literature and historical fiction as well, related to this time period, which accomplish 2 topics at the same time.  This can easily be combined with Writing about the topics covered as well.

– Several Writing classes are on the menu as well, some of them combining other disciplines, creating a interesting and engaging twist.

Here they are:

Storytelling & Illustration (Creative Writing & Art)

Art Appreciation & Creative Writing (Writing & Art History)

Writer’s Workshop: Creative Writing

Writer’s Workshop: Paragraph & Essay Writing

For our 12+yo. students, we offer:

– Literature & Writing with Kathy Reynar – a true high school level class that can be used to get high school credit.

– Public Speaking & Presentations as well as Debate classes put a new spin on Writing, since students also master the skills of presenting their writing to an audience.

– Our Friday college prep teen series will include Quickwrite classes on specific topics, which will help students think on their feet and assembling outlines and writing in a shorter amount of time with no homework.

We hope you might join us for some of these classes dealing with essential skills for academic success.