Archive for 'Homeschooling 101'

Back to School in Fall 2014: How do I file?

Every homeschooler in Arkansas must file a Notice of Intent and a Waiver form no later than August 15, 2014. This is the final year parents can file paper forms. These are either mailed in or you can drop them off at the local Superintendent’s office. Whether to file electronically or by paper is a personal choice.

Paper Forms

To file your paper forms, download and print out the 2014-2015 paper forms. Fill out the forms and either mail them or drop them off at the Superintendent’s office for your school district. This is the final year for paper forms. You will have to lookup the contact information for your school district in order to fill the form out.

Electronic Forms

If you filed electronically last year, you have a user name and password. Go to the login page at the Department of Education’s website. Fill in your login information, and it will take you to the rest of the form.

If you have never filed electronically before, you must register for an account at the login page. Write down your user name and password. You will need it if you have to print out the forms later on.


If you forgot your login information, you can lookup your user name or password. I tried the reset password option–now I am locked out of my account—good grief. I contacted the Department of Education about this. Looks like I’ll have to wait before I can submit my forms.

Contact Info

If you have questions about any of the homeschool forms or regulations, contact Lisa Crook, Program Director at the Department of Education. She will be glad to answer your questions. I have contacted her in the past, and she is great to work with. You can also contact her by mail or phone:

Arkansas Department of Education

Division of Learning Services

Four Capitol Mall, Mail Slot 3

Little Rock, AR 72201

Phone: 501-682-1874

Fax: 501-371-3514

Posted on 3 August '14 by , under Arkansas homeschool requirements, Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

Mid-Year doldrums

So here it is, the middle of March. The weather up until recently has been horrible, keeping most of us indoors this winter. Now that Spring is here, are your thoughts on lesson plans or getting outdoors? My breast cancer diagnosis taught me a lot of things. First, don’t push the lesson plans. There will be plenty of days where you will have time for lessons. If you and your kids are not in the mindset to sit and do math–don’t. Instead find something else to do. Almost anything can be considered educational if you put your mind to it. Here are some suggestions for those difficult days:

Math is Everywhere

Just about any activity can be turned into a math lesson. Go outdoors, plan the garden. Ask you kids to calculate the area of the garden beds and how many of each plant can be planted there. They will have to read the seed packet or planting instructions for live plants, determine how large the planting bed is and figure out how much space each plant requires. Topics covered: geometry, multiplication, reading, critical thinking skills, biology, and botany.

We plan on reinforcing our back fence so that we can bring in some chickens. If you have a similar fence project, ask your kids to measure the current fence (or space for a new fence) and calculate how much fencing is required. Then take a shopping trip for price comparisons. Topics covered: measurements, multiplication, perimeter, money skills, personal finance, life skills.


Braekel poultry. Gold variant of the breed. Photograph by Stijn Ghesquiere 2004. 


We are finally making the jump into suburban homesteading. This past summer we finally purchased a home in Arkansas although it is much smaller than anything we have lived in previously. Gardens are going in and we have decided to bring in chickens. This is a huge undertaking and it requires plenty of disciplines in order to bring this about.

For chickens, we had to determine if it was even legal to keep chickens within city limits. We checked with zoning and got the okay–hens okay, roosters not allowed. Next comes deciding on how many chicken we would need to provide a family of five with enough fresh eggs.

The egg question actually depends on the breed of chicken. Some produce a lot more than others. Production from a hen bred for commercial egg production is very different than a heritage breed. So, the kid did some math. Average yearly production from hens of a specific breed divided by 52 (number of weeks in a year.) Compare that to the number of eggs we buy or use in a week. Now add enough hens to reach the number of eggs your family requires. This requires researching chicken breeds, division, comparing numbers, addition and multiplication.

Deciding on a breed of chicken takes a lot of work. It is more than just egg production. Some chickens need the ability to free-range in order to be happy. Some fly well–others, not so much. Some tolerate cold better than others. Certain chickens are likely to scare easily while other are more mellow. Right now–we are still researching chickens. As we progress in our homesteading adventures, I will keep you posted as to how this all fits in with homeschool.

Other difficult day ideas

If your kids participate in scouts, 4-H, or similar group, take a day that is not going well to work on a merit badge or project. You can always find some school subject to tie this in with. Sometimes, taking a break from the norm is just what everyone needs to regroup and get back on track.




Posted on 21 March '14 by , under Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

Writing Professionally Changed How I View Language Arts

When I look back on the first pieces I published, they read like a high school essay. I always thought my writing was good. Every English teacher I had gave me an A on my writing assignments–even in college. It wasn’t until I started writing professionally that I realized everything I was taught, was wrong.


Writing is not about spewing forth what you think the teacher wants to see in an assignment. I always did this, I put forth beautifully written essays that said nothing, showed no voice. All my essays proved was that I could write an essay that conformed perfectly to the rules of essay writing and that I was really good at knowing what the teacher wanted to read. This is not good writing, it is good structural format and the writing was excruciatingly boring. There was no voice. It was mechanical.


Working professionally, I learned that in order for writing to be good–it needs a voice. In traditional schools and language arts programs, nothing is done to help young writers find their voice. All the writing prompts in the world will not get you there, voice comes with experience, and experience comes from writing–lots of writing.


How do you get kids to write? Mine hate it, many of yours probably do too. The best thing you can do to get your kids writing is to back off. Forget grammar, sentence structure and spelling. Forget about the rewrite. Set aside time every week or several days a week for them to write in a journal. The only rule is that they have to write at least one sentence worth of words. The other rule is–you cannot look at it if they do not want you to see it. Respect that, eventually it will change.


When you give a writing assignment, place the heaviest emphasis on voice. You want to know why your child feels the way they do about the subject. You cannot teach feeling and voice, you have to coax it out of them. If you ask them to write about a passage they have read and they say, “it was dumb.” Go with that, tell them you respect their opinion but you want to know why it was dumb, boring, stupid, or “I hated it.” What exactly made your child feel that way. If you get something positive–great. You have a lot to work with. Ask your child what excited you, how did it impact you, what was it that made it so interesting.


Good writing is about voice, feelings, and being able to convey that emotion to the reader. Encourage your child to write from the heart. When this is accomplished, their writing skills will soar.



Posted on 22 July '12 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Homeschooling 101, Homeschooling through high school. No Comments.

Preparing for Next Year’s Homeschool

It seems like we have just finished homeschool for the past year. But, it is time to start preparing for next year’s homeschool. Where will your kids be–middle school, high school, maybe graduating next year? Summer is a great time to start planning for the following year. There are plenty of homeschool conventions to attend. Planning now will save you money. You have the luxury of shopping for gently used curriculum online. Summer is the time to get the best prices.

Homeschool Conventions

Combining a family vacation with a homeschool convention makes a lot of sense. You can attend workshops and see what is new in homeschool curriculum. Homeschool conventions give you the opportunity to network with other homeschoolers and to speak directly with vendor representatives. Most vendors will have copies of their curriculum to view and purchase. Many conventions last for a couple of days. If you plan a week-long vacation, it will make the most of your time.

Preparing for Fall

The focus of our homeschool changes in the fall. During the summer we are active with 4H programs, conferences, trips and camps. Once fall rolls around we get back to a more “normal” routine. This fall my son will be taking the ACTs. We have a lot of work to do before then. My other homeschooled son will be in middle school. It is time to start planning his curriculum to set him up for success in high school.

I use a planner to help me figure out what I need to do to prepare for next year’s homeschool. I list the subject that I want to teach, then I start pricing out curriculum, books and resources. Once I have a good idea of what curriculum and books I am using, I can write out an overview for the year and then break it down into monthly goals.

For me, it is more important than ever to get organized well in advance. I have to incorporate 2 surgeries and cancer treatments every three weeks into my homeschool schedule. Travel days will be designated as a teacher work day so that I can review how close we are to reaching our monthly homeschool goals. I can review where we are versus where we need to be while sitting in the infusion lab, undergoing treatment. God willing, 2012-2013 will be the last year that breast cancer impacts our homeschool.

Online Resources is one place to look for homeschool books and curriculum. I have an Amazon store where my gently used curriculum, books and DVDs are for sale. Take a look to see if there is something that interests you.

One of my favorite places to look for new, online or digital homeschool resources is the Home School Buyers Co-op. They purchase in bulk and are able to give homeschoolers access to many vendors that will not sell directly to homeschool families.

Hope this helps you get organized for next year




Posted on 16 June '12 by , under Cancer and homeschool, Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

Free Homeschool Help Workshop: Curriculum Choices


The next Homeschool Help workshop will be CURRICULUM CHOICES on Monday, March 26, from 7:00-9:00 pm at the Circle of Life Hospice Building in Springdale/Tontitown.

At this workshop Shelley will describe the different types of curriculum, how to choose and buy, and different
schooling philosophies and methods that shape the variety of curriculum that authors produce.
Some other topics that will be covered are Unit Studies, Living Books, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, and Classical Education.
There will NOT be any curriculum there to browse.

This is a FREE workshop, but donations are accepted to help cover the cost of handouts.
Invite a friend!

There will be no childcare provided. Nursing infants and babes in arms
are welcome.


From I540, take the Holiday Inn exit in Springdale (exit 72) and go west toward Tontitown.
Near Tontitown, turn right at the Jones Rd. stoplight. There is a Harps
on the right at that intersection.
Circle of Life is the first building on the right after Harps, 901 Jones Rd.
It says “Circle of Life” on the building, but at the entrance there is a
sign that says “Willard and Pat Walker Family Center”.

Hope to see you there!
Shelley and Marni

Shelley Kinder

[email protected]


Marni Hendrix

[email protected]



Hope you find this helpful


Posted on 12 March '12 by , under Events, Free or Almost free resources, Freebies, Great Field Trips, Homeschool Parent Education, Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

Announcement for Northwest Arkansas Homeschoolers: Tri-State homeschool Athletic Association

Upcoming Football Meeting
Next Monday, March 5th, at 6:00 pm at Fayetteville Nazarene Church Jimmy Hall and the football coaches will be holding a meeting for parents and players interested in football. Please post this information to any homeschool groups of which you are a part. It takes many players and coaches to form a solid football program, so let’s get the word out. Hornet Football will be an aggressive, disciplined program. If you know men who might help coach and boys who might play (age 14 and up) let them know about this meeting.

Fayetteville Nazarene Church
2857 N. Old Missouri Rd
Fayetteville, AR

Posted on 25 February '12 by , under Events, Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

Testing Packets Go Out January 9, 2012

The Arkansas Home School Testing Department is mailing out registration packets to homeschool families starting on January 9, 2012. If you registered as a homeschool prior to December 15, 2011, your packet is in the January 9th mailing. If you started homeschooling after December 15th, your packet will be mailed as soon as the testing office receives your information.

Who has to test?

Any child in grades 3 through 9 is required to take an annual standardized test. If you are a registered homeschooler in Arkansas, you will receive a testing packet in the mail. Packets are mailed to families with children withing the mandatory testing grades. Once you get the packet, you can register for testing.

What are my testing options?

You have the choice of taking the test at a state sponsored location. This option is free, but once you register for a specific location it cannot be changed. If you miss the test, the testing office will contact you. If you skip out on the testing, you can be facing truancy charges.

Another option is to test with a certified homeschool group. This option is also free and the consequences for not testing are the same.

The third option is to test privately. You pay to obtain the test and you are responsible for administering it properly. There are several companies that offer testing. To use this option, a copy of your paid invoice must be submitted to the testing office. This option gives you the most flexibility and if you kids is sick on the scheduled date, you can put off the test for a day or two without any negative consequences.

Kids with special needs

You can request that your child be excused from testing. Proof  of a disability or other issues must be submitted to the testing office. You will need a physicians report or other official report to back up your request.


Public School Online

If you are using an online charter school such as ARVA or Lincoln ACE, the school will provide the required testing. Students in these programs do not have the option of testing with homeschoolers and they do not have the option to test privately. Testing packets will not be mailed to parents if their children are enrolled in one of the online charter schools.

For more information, contact the Arkansas Testing Department.

Posted on 7 January '12 by , under Arkansas homeschool requirements, Homeschooling 101, Testing. No Comments.

Thrifty Homeschool Teachers: Get up to 80 percent off on Scholastic Books

It’s that time of year again. Why not give the gift of reading to the kids in your life. Scholastic is holding a warehouse sale at the John Hammons Convention Center in Rogers, Arkansas.

The times are as follows:

Tuesday, December 13: 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Wednesday, December 14: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Thursday, December 15: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm


Check out the flyer on how to register and avoid long lines. I suggest bringing some form of proof that you are a homeschool teacher. The sale is also for volunteers and coordinators for Scholastic book sales. This is a great way to get quality books on the cheap.


Hope you find this helpful



Posted on 28 November '11 by , under Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

Coming Soon: A review of Time4Learning

I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.


Posted on 5 November '11 by , under Homeschooling 101. 1 Comment.

Book Review: When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall

This is the final book in the Sisters of the Quilt Series by Cindy Woodsmall.

The book, When the Soul Mends, does what it is supposed to do–which is to resolve the issues raised in the previous two books. Cindy Woodsmall does this. Hannah Lapp, the main character, returns to her Old Order Amish community of Owl’s Perch. Here she has to face her father and the other members of the community who turned against her, forcing her to leave.

Hannah returned to the community because of a phone call from her sister. The return is bittersweet for Hannah, as she has firmly set roots in the Englischer world and is in love with the wealthy Martin Palmer. She is helping him raise two children and for Hannah, it is an instant family–although somewhat dysfunctional. Her return to Owl’s Perch not only forces her to face those that judged her so harshly, but she must resolve issues with her former fiance Paul Waddell. Hannah is finally forced to make a decision–return to the Englischer world or stay in Owl’s Perch.

Posted on 11 October '11 by , under Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

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