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Take the Stress Out of Math for All Ages and Grade Levels

Math. Most people either love it or…well…don’t love it. 😉 But it’s a necessary subject, and it’s one most students can learn to love if you find the right curriculum. Math was my best subject in school, and it’s been very difficult teaching it to my teenage daughter since it’s a subject she doesn’t love and that doesn’t come easily to her. I’ve always had trouble figuring out how to explain math concepts to her in a way she can understand. And, to be honest, it’s very hard to be patient with her since it’s often necessary to go over lessons multiple times.

student working on computer

In an attempt to find what would work best for her, we’ve gone through quite a few math curriculums in the last few years. Nothing clicked. Nothing worked well. And nothing helped her enjoy math or feel successful at it. That’s why I’m so excited (and relieved!) to have finally found CTCMath!

Take the Stress Out of Math for All Ages and Grade Levels!

At first, I was leery to try CTCMath because my daughter doesn’t generally enjoy online learning. She typically likes physical/print materials that are very hands-on. I’m thrilled to say that she loves this curriculum!

Top 3 Reasons My Daughter Loves CTCMath

  1. First, with her full schedule, it’s easy to fit math into her day whenever she has time. If she were taking a live online class, she would have to attend class at a certain time and on certain days. She very much prefers having the ability to do a lesson at whatever time works best for her schedule on any certain day.
  2. She likes the fact that the videos that are used to teach lessons are short. For students who aren’t great at math, a long video with lots of information can be overwhelming.
  3. She enjoys being able to review and re-watch videos when needed. If she has trouble with a new concept, all she has to do is watch the video again until she understands it. She loves the fact that the teacher never loses his patience or gets frustrated no matter how many times she needs to review a lesson. 🙂

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The 5 Top Reasons I Love CTCMath

  1. Learning to use CTCMath was so simple! My daughter did not need any help from me besides setting up her username. Also, there are several helpful videos showing users how to get started and explaining how to use the various tools.
  2. Instead of a regular placement test, CTCMath uses diagnostic tests. This simply means that, instead of doing a placement test, the student jumps in and does a lesson at whatever grade level the parent thinks is appropriate. If that level is too difficult or too easy, the student can then move backward or forward to a different level as needed. Once your child is working at a level that is challenging but not too difficult, you know he or she is at the proper grade level.
  3. CTCMath includes all grade levels. Being able to work at any grade level gives both my daughter and me the confidence that she is learning what she needs to know before she moves on.
  4. It is not Common Core aligned. I don’t like Common Core-aligned curriculum. It’s confusing and often seems to make math concepts more difficult to learn and understand rather than making them understandable and doable.
  5. Parents get emails with progress updates. I love the email reports that tell me how my daughter is doing! They tell me when she logged on, what she finished that day, the grade she made, and even how long it took her to complete the lesson.

I’ve already listed the 5 top reasons I love CTCMath, but there are lots more reasons you might love it! 

  • CTCMath includes math curriculum for students from kindergarten through high school. This means everything from kindergarten math all the way through high school algebra (I & II), geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, and calculus is included!
  • If you choose a family membership, up to 5 students (at any ages/grade levels) can use this curriculum! This makes CTCMath affordable for almost any family.
  • The Question Bank allows parents to assign extra practice if they feel like their students need it.
  • If your child enjoys or would benefit from having a printed lesson to review, you can print out the lesson summary at the end of a lesson.
  • There are optional worksheets that can be completed without an internet connection. When you do have internet access, your child can enter the answers and see the solutions.
  • The parent can choose the passing grade for each student.

The video below gives a great overview of this curriculum. It’s worth taking a few minutes to watch! 

We love this curriculum. We don’t have to keep searching. This is the one that will get her through to graduation. CTC Math is helping her to stop saying, “I’m not good at math.” It’s boosting her confidence in her ability to do math and helping her enjoy math so much more than she ever has before! Below you’ll find more information about how to try a free trial of CTCMath, how to use a discount code to get a huge discount, and how to enter for a chance to win a FREE family subscription!

Get a FREE Trial or a Huge Discount on a Subscription!

Click here to get a FREE TRIAL of CTCMath.

And you can get 50% off your CTCMath subscription by clicking this 1/2 Price for Homeschoolers link!

Enter for a Chance to Win a FREE Family Subscription!

CTCMath 12-month Family Membership

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YouTube 4 Teens Course (for Fun or Income!)

Do you have a teen who's interested in learning to use YouTube as a hobby or even income? This course is what you need! It is done in a fun way, and it is full of valuable information.
Do you have a teen who's interested in learning to use YouTube as a hobby or even income? This course is what you need! It is done in a fun way, and it is full of valuable information.
Do you have a teen who's interested in learning to use YouTube as a hobby or even income? This course is what you need! It is done in a fun way, and it is full of valuable information.
Do you have a teen who's interested in learning to use YouTube as a hobby or even income? This course is what you need! It is done in a fun way, and it is full of valuable information.
Do you have a teen who's interested in learning to use YouTube as a hobby or even income? This course is what you need! It is done in a fun way, and it is full of valuable information.
YouTube 4 Teens Class

Two great things about teens are their fearlessness and their energy! (Well, ok, their energy once we’re able to pry them out of bed in the morning!) These two characteristics may be the very ones that cause them to get into so much trouble, too. So how about channeling that fearlessness and extra energy in a positive way? I have a suggestion for a way to do this, and your teens will probably (no kidding!) actually enjoy it!

YouTube 4 Teens class

Many teens who homeschool have time built into the day to explore their own interests, work on hobbies, and dive deeper into their own personal interests. Many teens also enjoy watching YouTube videos. They like to see celebrities or even other teens similar to themselves (who aren’t necessarily celebrities) doing all kinds of interesting things. They enjoy watching funny videos. They enjoy discovering new products, video games, information, how-tos, and more. It’s fun to watch and learn–even though they don’t always realize they’re learning when they’re watching.

NOTE: Toward the end of this article, you’ll find:

  • a link to enter a GIVEAWAY of a course of your choice from Film School 4 Teens!
  • a DISCOUNT CODE for 20% off (but it expires at the end of April 2021, so don’t wait)!
  • a link to a REVIEW/GIVEAWAY of Intro to Filmmaking on the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers site!

You and your teens may have never thought of the possibility of taking your teens’ love of YouTube and turning it into a hobby or even a money-maker! But it is possible. In fact, I’d like to tell you about it! It’s a course called YouTube 4 Teens.

  • YouTube 4 Teens is a 12-hour (36 lessons) online course for teens. It is available in both a Christian or a secular/charter school version. 

This course teaches teens to:

  • start a YouTube channel
  • choose content
  • create footage
  • edit footage
  • market the channel
  • develop a growth strategy

The course includes information on how to make money from the channel too (as part of the marketing and growth strategy info). So for those who have young entrepreneurs, be sure to check out this class! The information your teens learn will, of course, help them with their YouTube channel, but it also includes helpful information to apply to other businesses and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Note from Wendy: For those who are concerned about online safety, the course emphasizes safety and responsibility too!

I’ve included a very short video that gives you a quick overview of the YouTube 4 Teens course.

What actually happens during a YouTube 4 Teens class?

There are several activities your teens will regularly do as part of this course.

  • They watch videos with information/lessons.
  • They watch interviews with established YouTube content creators.
  • They work on tasks that help them work toward developing their own YouTube channels.
  • They also get to follow a case study including two teens who are starting a YouTube channel.

In fact, by the end of the course, your teen will have the opportunity to create (or at least come up with ideas for) 25 videos for their own YouTube channel.

Of course there’s lots more involved, but these are the basics. There is a self-analysis worksheet that’s a great tool for helping your teens figure out why they might want to start a YouTube channel and to help pick a subject on which to base the channel. There are also occasional assessments.

A teen whose mom is part of the Hip Homeschool Moms audience was given the YouTube 4 Teens course for free in exchange for taking the class and sharing her honest opinion about it. I also asked her mom to chime in and give us her opinion about it.

Julia’s Review of YouTube 4 Teens

What was your favorite thing about the class?

My favorite part was watching the video lessons. The teacher, Damon Evans, makes the lessons so much fun, so I really enjoyed watching them! He used skits, jokes, videos, and his own real-life experiences for us to relate to. I also learned a lot. He made things easy to understand.

What is one interesting or helping thing you learned from the class?

I think the most helpful thing I learned was to base my YouTube channel on something I’m personally interested in and not just something that is popular right now. If I base my channel on something that’s popular but not something I really enjoy, I won’t be motivated to create videos to share. Also, the passion I feel for my favorite things will make the videos I make more appealing and fun for my viewers.

I also learned a lot about how to market my channel. That was something I really hadn’t thought much about before taking this class. To be honest, I wouldn’t have thought about using my parents’ social media to help market my channel, but that’s one tip I learned. Because my parents have had their social media accounts for a while, they have more social reach than I do, so that’s a good place to start.

What kinds of things did you do for the class?

I completed a self-analysis worksheet which helped me think about my goals and what I would do with a YouTube channel. I watched video lessons and then completed worksheets to help cement in my mind what I learned in the lessons. I also learned how to plan, edit, and shoot a YouTube video. I created my own Purpose Statement to help me keep on track with the content I create. I also wrote down Deep Thoughts–which was kind of like journaling. It was a section ien my notebook with creative writing prompts for the purpose of helping me be creative with my videos.

Did you take tests or assessments?

There were no actual tests or assessments. Instead, I did fill-in-the-blank worksheets after each video. However, shooting my own video is comparable to a test in a typical class. Tests gauge what students have learned, so the final video was the “test” to gauge what I learned about making a video for my YouTube channel.

Who do you think would enjoy this class?

I think anyone who is interested in YouTube or in creating a YouTube channel would like this class–especially a person who’s interested in starting a YouTube channel but doesn’t know where to start or what to do.

It would be good for someone who has a hobby to share or someone who’s interested in taking what they know and sharing it with others in a fun and interesting way.

It would also be great for a person who wants to use what he or she knows to make money! People who have knowledge about things like video games, music, art, arts & crafts, history, dance, or even movies would all be great possible YouTube channel topics.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share about the class?

Yes! One thing I didn’t mention earlier but that I really liked about the class was that the assignments didn’t have to be turned in by a specific date. The workbook laid out everything that was expected of me so I could make sure to finish each assignment. I was able to start at the beginning and go at my own pace through the end.

Note from Wendy: If you want to set your teens’ assignments to be due on certain dates, you may do that. This course, however, gives your teens the opportunity to work at their own pace and be responsible for setting their own deadlines and keeping up with their own progress. If you have a teen who needs more supervision or assistance, of course you can jump in and help keep your teen accountable. The parent gets to choose whether or not to be involved and how much to be involved.

More Film School 4 Teens Courses!

Intro to Filmmaking

Did you know Film School 4 Teens offers an Intro to Filmmaking course? It’s perfect for teens who are interested in filmmaking as a possible career or even as a hobby or something they’re simply interested in learning more about! The course is designed to foster a love of and appreciation for film, and it covers the technical process as well as examines the cultural impact of films. This class is truly fun and is packed full of information! At the end of the course, your student will even create and submit his or her own short film for review! CLICK THIS LINK to read a review of the Intro to Filmmaking course on Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers! 

Photography 4 Teens

Do you have a teen who loves photography and is interested in learning more about it? In just a few weeks, a brand new Photography 4 Teens course will be available! (It’s available to pre-order as of April 19, 2021, and the course will be available to begin on June 1, 2021!) To learn more about the Photography 4 Teens course, click this link.

If you want to sign your teen up for YouTube 4 Teens or any other course by Film School 4 Teens, you can use the code fs4t20off to get 20% off! If you win the giveaway after signing up for a course, you will be reimbursed, so don’t wait to sign up! The discount code ends on April 30, 2021!

FYI: If you want to purchase this course with the 20% discount (or if you win a course) but want to wait until fall to have your student begin, that is perfectly fine! You don’t have to start the course immediately after purchasing it. Your child has 18 months from the time of purchase to complete it. 

This giveaway is open to enter through April 20, 2021, so go ahead and enter now!

One winner will have the chance to choose this YouTube 4 Teens course (a $150.00 value) or any other course offered by Film School 4 Teens! Just click here to go to the Film School 4 Teens giveaway page on their website or click the link below.

Remember if you win the giveaway after purchasing a class, you will be reimbursed. 

About the Reviewer

Julia is a 16-year-old homeschooler who loves to read, dance, and play music. She plays in the worship band at church and is on the competition team at her dance studio.  Julia hopes to have a career in Marine Biology. She loves Harry Potter and K-Pop.

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How to Get Through College Early and Debt Free!

I get so many questions on what we’re doing for high school and college that I wanted to share our plan. Although I know this plan isn’t for everyone, it’s working well for us and we hope to graduate our kids early and virtually debt free!

When I went to college, the path was pretty straight forward. You graduated high school, went to a 4-year university, accumulated a ton of student loans and debt, graduated, and hoped for a job that would pay off all of your debt. Things have changed drastically and now there are so many options out there for higher education.

As a homeschooler, I was worried about college just like everyone else. But now that we’re at this stage of life, I’m so happy to see that our options have increased. Gone are the days where you needed a 4-year degree to pursue your dreams. Depending on what your goals are, there are trade schools, online options, CLEP testing, community college, apprenticeships, military opportunities, and dual enrollment courses that can all work together to get your high schooler to where they want to go.

We are planning to take advantage of a variety of options and will hopefully come out on top, ahead of schedule, and almost debt free!

Before I get in to all of this, I do want to caution you against rushing your student into dual enrollment classes too early. Of course it’s just my opinion, but throwing a younger student into college level classes before they are ready can cause a lot of stress, anxiety, and if they go in person, it can be difficult being the youngest in a class full of adults. Please take this advice as just that, and keep it in mind before rushing into the dual enrollment process. I know there are opportunities to start these classes earlier, but we really wanted our daughter to be comfortable taking these classes and so we waited for her senior year to start. I think it was the right decision for her, but of course your family might be different.

So what are we doing?

We’ve decided on a combination of CLEP testing, dual enrollment classes, online classes, and then will ultimately transfer into a university to complete her bachelor’s degree. So let’s talk about a few of the options that we are taking advantage of. She is also participating in 4H where she’s already earned a few scholarships for her intended degree and of course we’re saving for future courses as well.

CLEP TESTING

What is CLEP testing you ask? CLEP testing is a way to help students earn college credit for what they already know, for the fraction of the cost of a college class. Now I say “fraction” because it’s definitely not free. There is a fee to take the test, and we also paid for a Study.com class to help prepare for the test as well. But considering the cost of a regular college class, it’s definitely a less expensive way to go. Last summer our daughter took the English CLEP test and tested out of that subject earning 3 college credit hours. You can do CLEP tests for a number of subjects, and if your student is comfortable with that route, it can be a great resources. You can learn more about CLEP testing on their website.

After this year, we may try to have her CLEP out of math as well. She is currently taking Shormann Pre-Calculus which is a CLEP preparatory class. Math isn’t typically her strong suit, but if she can test out that is one less class she’ll have to take in the future.

DUAL ENROLLMENT

Depending on your state, community colleges often offer free dual enrollment courses to homeschool students. Through these courses kids can receive dual enrollment credits meaning they get high school and college credit for the course at the same time. It’s a great way to take advantage of free credit hours, and speed up the college graduation process as well.

As of last semester, our senior completed 9 free credit hours her first semester, and she’s currently taking 15 more credits her second semester. We didn’t want to rush her into it, so we started her with less credits. But after doing so well, she’s decided to take more this semester. That means she’ll end her senior year with 24 college credits already under her belt. She also earned a small scholarship in one of her classes as well which took care of her book costs this year as well.

The combination of her 3 CLEP credits and her dual enrollment credits she will finish her senior year in high school with a total of 27 college credit hours. She is also considering doing one class this summer so she can finish with a full 30 hours.

In our state she can take another year of classes for free, so she’ll do what’s called a “5th year” consisting of all college classes. She plans to take another 30 credit hours next year. That means she’ll finish high school with 60 college credit hours. From there she will most likely transfer into a university here as a junior and then finish out her two years there to complete her bachelor’s degree. This path should save us about $60,000 in the end! Of course we know things can change, but that’s our current plan.

ONLINE CLASSES

There are so many online college options now as well! Those classes do tend to be less expensive and a bit more flexible too. Right now her dual enrollment classes are all online, but depending on what she needs for the future we may look at other online options as well.

I just suggest contacting your prospective college or university and see what transfer credits they are willing to accept. Our state universities have all of that information on their website, so you can see what you need to take, and what credits will transfer over directly. That way you can make sure that the classes you are taking will count for the proper degree.

ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS

Of course these are just a few options that are working for us, but there are so many other as well. There are Apprenticeships, Career Colleges, like culinary, fashion, and art, Internships, Military opportunities, online colleges, and more. Just remember, there are a lot of options and education can be traditional or alternative depending on what your student is interested in.

I highly suggest sitting down with your high schooler, discussing what they’re interested in, and then coming up with a game plan to get them started off on the right path to help them achieve their goals for the future, whatever that may be!

If you need more help check out my How to Homeschool High School eCourse!

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3 Simple Tips for Teaching Shakespeare

Are you a homeschooling parent who is considering leading your student (or students) through a study of Shakespeare? Maybe you’re excited to get started, but  you’re also feeling nervous because he is, you know, Shakespeare: the father of Western poetry and drama, the guy whose plays are taught in every contemporary schoolroom. No pressure.

As someone who loves Shakespeare, studied his works in graduate school, and has tutored students in his plays and poetry, I’m going to make a guilty confession to you: I have totally “zoned out” while reading Shakespeare. I’ve done it more than once. As wonderful as his language is, it happens with antiquate language…unless you have a strategy. In today’s post, I want to share 3 tips that I’ve discovered which have helped me stay focused on, and therefore find a lot of enjoyment in, Shakespeare’s works.  If you feel like you need a little guidance, or a little more focus, while getting started with “The Bard”, I hope these tips help you out!

1. Grab Some Popcorn and Put on a Movie

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Shakespeare’s works, especially his plays, weren’t really meant to be read silently. They were meant to be watched.  The first thing you can do when reading/ teaching a Shakespeare play is to conjure up  strong visuals to accompany your reading.  Having a visual not only helps show us more clearly the meaning behind Shakespeare’s language, it also shows us that the characters in these plays are not very different from ourselves. One of the reasons that Shakespeare is still so famous today is that his characters capture the full scope of human experiences: they address, from birth to death, all of the major emotions and conflicts that arise in a person’s life.  Thanks to the dozens of films which depict Shakespeare’s works, almost anyone can experience these depictions in action.  Take advantage of this and watch some movies.

I would especially suggest checking out film versions which leave as much of the original rhetoric intact as possible while portraying the tale within a modern or creative setting, such as: Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (2012), Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Kenneth Brannaugh’s Hamlet (1996).   I recommend this type of adaptation because it can act as inspiration for creating your own unique visual landscape. At the same time, you are getting to see how Shakespeare’s original words were meant to be read, with the proper power, intonations, and emotions to channel them. So grab some popcorn and watch a movie!

2. Read for Themes

Create a connection with a Shakespearean through focusing on his themes, and then looking at how more specific passages support and discuss those themes.  To start out with this approach, you will need to do a little secondary source research. Discover what “big questions and ideas” scholars have pondered over for the particular work you are reading and keep them in mind as you read. This can help you to focus on Shakespeare’s wording and insight.

For instance, if you are reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you might do a little reading on the theme of “the rashness of love.” This play contains several examples of the unwieldiness of love and the crazy things it makes us do.  With that theme already in mind, let’s say you come across the following lines of the play from Act 5, Scene 1.  “Lovers and madmen have such seething brains/Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend/ More than cool reason ever comprehends.” Because you will realize that these lines speak directly about a crucial theme in the play, you can spend a little time on them to think about what Shakespeare is saying and how he is saying it Sometimes the proper context is all you need to be able to focus in on lines like this, which can seem crisply insightful and fresh, even centuries after they were written.

3. Consider the Sound

As you discover the universality of the characters and the themes, another thing you can do to create an interactive Shakespeare experience is to learn to appreciate the sound of his writing. Shakespeare was a master of iambic pentameter, a pattern that most of his writing follows.Iambic pentameter means a pattern of five “iambic feet,” each containing an unstressed/stressed syllable which flows like “baBUM.” Therefore, the beat of, “baBUMbaBUMbaBUMbaBUMbaBUM,” is similar to the rhythm of most of Shakespeare’s writing.

Once you’ve got a grasp on the pattern, read some of the lines you are studying aloud to yourself and see if you hear it in the flow of the words.  Try this with your student. Can she tap the iambic beat of a line while reading it aloud? You might be surprised by how getting involved involved in the sound of the language can connect you to it in a new way.

Once you (and your student) are comfortable with reading in meter and hearing the beat of Shakespeare’s words, you can really start to get “fancy,” with your Shakespeare discussions by beginning to think about how meaning and sound come together.  How?  Look for places where the language breaks the pattern. For example, are there lines that, when read aloud, throw the beat off? Are they just a little too short, too long, or forcibly crammed together?

Considering Shakespeare as a master of both poetry and a playwrighting, ask yourself and your student why he might have decided to change the flow at that point.  How does the music alter to the storytelling? Even today, Shakespeare sets the bar for the deliberate interaction between meter and meaning.  In asking these kinds of questions about his text, you are not only exploring the study Shakespeare, but also the art of poetry itself.

Actor Craig Wallace said of performing Shakespeare: “It’s not easy. When we get it and convey it, it’s a beautiful thing for us and it’s a beautiful thing for the audience to hear. And that’s why Shakespeare endures.”

Today, as readers and teachers of Shakespeare, we have a similar challenge, though the play we perform is mental.  Getting past the language differences may be difficult, yet there is beauty in the discovery that Shakespeare’s characters and stories are still relevant today. The music in his language and words also allows each generation to breathe new life into his work every time it is read. It’s a valuable experience and a beautiful one to share through teaching.