American Academy of Strategic Education

How I decided to homeschool my children…

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By Angela Hansen

Founder & Director, American Academy of Strategic Education

Driving to my children’s traditional private school across town one morning, I began to become increasingly stressed about one of my boys being prepared for his history exam. I was fairly certain that he had not prepared for this exam which I was sure would result in a call home from his teacher! This childish fear of receiving a reprimanding phone call from the teacher caused me to start an impromptu cram study session right then and there in the car.

My son pulled out the study sheet that looked like a ditto copy from the 1940s filled to the brim with bite-sized historical facts. The subject of the history exam was an early explorer, Juan Cabrillo who discovered the Channel Islands (ask me how I remember this…). One of my boys was quizzing the other on the subject matter. The one being quizzed could not recall who discovered the Channel Islands.  Me, getting frustrated with my son not knowing the answer, blurted out: “Juan Cabrillo!” All of my children were shocked and surprised that I knew such a random answer.

And then it hit me. How did I know that answer?! It was not because I was some sort of early explorer history buff. Rather, I realized it was because my three children before him had studied this exact same lesson. Of course, that in and of itself is not bad but this one small story only emphasized the fact that over the 12 years between my oldest and youngest child, while the world had experienced so much technological change, there had not been a single technological innovation when it came to how this lesson was taught.

And suddenly, in that moment, I had an epiphany. I thought to myself, “There has to be a better way for my children to learn than by memorizing piles and piles of facts off an old ditto-copied handout!” To make matters worse, my son frequently told me that his teacher kept saying in class, “I hate computers, I wish they would just go away.” Well, I think computers are here to stay, so I think we should make the best of it and teach our students how to use them.

Furthermore, when my other son kept coming home with 105% or higher on his Advanced Math exams (105%!), the apparent lack of challenging assignments led me to look for alternate schools. He was not being taught at a level that would keep up with his many different talents and abilities. Somehow, in that moment, it became very clear to me that I needed to find the right school for my children.

So as much as I loved the school my children had attended for all those years, I realized that it was high time for my boys to have a change in academic scenery. I went on the search for just the right school. I was sure that in Southern California I would be able to find at least one that would be able to satisfy all of my children’s needs. Unfortunately, it was not that easy.

I ended up enrolling my children in another private school, which turned out to be a mistake. Although the new school was a non-denominational religious school, its morals and standards were in utter disarray, and harmful to its students. Throughout the course of the year, students at this morally-bankrupt school shared inappropriate videos on YouTube with my children – all with the support of the teachers and principal. Additionally, the school’s education and curriculum was of subpar quality, and I was paying far more than what I should have paid for an inferior education.

After having many discussions with the teachers and principal over the students’ inappropriate conduct and the school’s overall curriculum, I decided that if by the end of the school year I could not find the perfect new school, I would homeschool my children. This compelled me to go back to school to earn my Master’s Degree in Education in Teaching and Learning and to obtain my teaching credential. After making this decision, I quit my full-time job as a Human Resources Director of a large company and set out to be the best teacher my children would ever have.

As the end of the school year came, we did not have a viable new school to send our children to. I told my husband that I would be homeschooling our boys next year. In the beginning he was mildly freaked out by the notion, as evidenced by his first response: “We have invested thousands and thousands of dollars in our children’s education, and for what? So that you can pull them out to homeschool them? Won’t that mess up their education, not to mention their social skills?” It was a tough sell, but in the end I managed to persuade him to let me take responsibility for their education and socialization.

Since then, our homeschool journey has been incredible. Up until this school year, my boys had completed their homeschool work on our dining room table. They thoroughly enjoy their personalized education. Their curriculum is flexible and adaptable to their needs and abilities, and is from a fully accredited program. The one thing missing from this otherwise perfect educational experience was social interaction with kids their own ages. To help eliminate the missing social components, we created many intellectually-stimulating clubs with their neighborhood friends, while increasing their after-school activities (such as sports, music, Boy Scouts), and we even started inviting other homeschool students to study with our boys.

Inviting other students to work alongside my boys had a tremendously positive impact on my boys’ overall homeschooling experience. As a result, they became more self-motivated to get their work done quickly; and they became more engaged, excited, and interested in their learning experiences. This one little change made a huge difference, so much so that even my husband noticed the positive difference in my boys’ attitudes toward learning. Because we had created such a wonderful home-grown learning environment that was working so well for my boys and their friends, my husband began to prod me to open a homeschool school. And he kept prodding me. And that is how American Academy of Strategic Education came to be.

We opened our doors in September 2017 with only a few full-time and part-time students. In just a few short months we have developed seven different academic and social programs that meet the needs of all of our students. Moving forward, to help meet the demand of students who are driving long distances to come to our academy, we will be opening additional academies throughout Orange County. We look forward to sharing our unique learning opportunities with students everywhere.

Are Homeschool Students Ready for the Real World?

By Angela Hansen
Founder & Director, American Academy of Strategic Education

Most people would agree that students who have been homeschooled typically excel academically, however some critics continue to challenge homeschoolers on being ready for the real world stating that homeschool students need more socialization. As a mother of two homeschoolers, I can attest to the fact that my kids do need more socialization not because they lacked socialization skills but on the contrary, because they love to socialize!

Generally speaking, homeschoolers overcome the potential for “lack of socialization” through heavy involvement in learning centers; social and academic clubs; after school music, art and language lessons; sports participation; and regularly attending field trips. Most homeschool students grow up extremely involved with other children.1 Homeschool students participate in more fieldtrips, spend more time planning their own education, have unique opportunities to pursue their interests and to apply their talents, and work with a wider age span of children and adults—all “real-world” opportunities.

If you consider the critic’s argument that homeschoolers lack “real world experience” and compare the homeschool student to the traditional school student, it might just be that homeschool students learning experiences are more in line with the real world. Thomas Smedley wrote his master’s thesis for Radford University of Virginia on “The Socialization of Homeschool Children.” Smedley found that in an effort to conform to their immediate peers, public school students are socialized horizontally and with a short-term focus. On the contrary, homeschool parents tend to socialize their children vertically and focus on teaching accountability, service, maturity, and with a long-term aim.2

University of Michigan’s Assistant Professor of Education, J. Gary Knowles, conducted a study that concluded that most homeschool students were prepared for the real world. Knowles surveyed 53 adults who were homeschooled. He found that 2/3 were married, which is the norm for adults their age. None were unemployed or on welfare. He found more than 3/4 felt that being homeschooled had helped them develop relationships with people from varying levels of society. More than 40% attended college and 15% of those had completed a graduate degree. Nearly 2/3 were self-employed, 96% said that they would want to be homeschooled if given the opportunity to do it over again. He stated, “Many mentioned a strong relationship engendered with their parents while others talked about self-directed curriculum and individualized pace that a flexible program of homeschooling permitted.”3

Footnotes

  1. “Socialization Practices of Christian Home School Educators in the State of Virginia,” a study of ten Virginia home school families, performed by Dr. Kathie Carwile, appeared in the Home School Researcher, Vol. 7, No. 1, December 1991.
  2. Thomas C. Smedley, M.S., “Socialization of Home Schooled Children: A Communication Approach,” thesis submitted and approved for Master of Science in Corporate and Professional Communication, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, May 1992. (Unpublished.)
  3. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, study of home school adults by Assistant Professor of Education, J.Gary Knowles, Associated Press article entitled, “University Study Says Home-Taught Children Won’t Become Social Misfits,” appearing in the Grand Haven Tribune 9 March 1993.

The Best Education Resources

While we believe the best resource a homeschool student has is his or her parents and our academies, we have found a few other great free and almost free resources that we wanted to share with you.  We hope you enjoy! If you have any ideas to add, please let us know.

GENERAL:

Smithsonian Education
www.smithsonianeducation.org/students/explore_by_topic/explore_by_topic.html
Interactive lessons on the topics of science/nature, history/culture, art, and people/places.

Study Jams
www.studyjams.com
This is a free site from Scholastic.com. Through real world examples presented in a multimedia format, StudyJams helps students understand the underlying concepts of math and science so they are better able to solve individual problems.  For Grades 3-8.

ABCya!
www.abcya.com
ABCya.com offers free educational computer games and activities for elementary students. Grade level lessons incorporate areas such as math and language arts while introducing basic computer skills.

Fun Brain
http://www.funbrain.com
Great array of games including math games, reading games, and games for both kids and parents to play.

Hoagies Gifted
http://hoagiesgifted.org
The all-things-gifted site, full of resources, articles, books and links to help and support parents, teachers, and gifted children alike. This is a free site.

FREE OPEN COURSES ONLINE

Open Coursware Consortium
www.ocwconsortium.org
Free, open educational content—high quality university-level educational materials. These materials often include course planning materials and evaluation tools as well as thematic content.

Hippo Campus
http://www.HippoCampus.org
Free, high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects such as algebra, calculus, physics, statistics, U.S. history, biology and more.

Weebly
Openeducationsource.weebly.com
This free site offers educational resources available for homeschooling and supplemental education for kids Pre-School through High School and beyond. Subjects include math, science, social studies, English and more.

MATH:

GeoGebra
www.geogebra.org
GeoGebra is free and multi-platform dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education. It joins geometry, algebra, tables, graphing, statistics and calculus.

Xtra Math
https://www.xtramath.org
This a free web site for students, parents and teachers. It helps with the foundations of all math—addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
STEAM:

How to Smile
Howtosmile.org is a free-access collection of 3,500 of the best hands-on science and math activities for all ages. Based at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of the Science, SMILE makes STEM fun and educational, and draws activities from leading science centers, science and science education organizations, universities and national agencies.

SCIENCE:

Exploratorium
http://www.exploratorium.edu
The Exploratorium is located in San Francisco—but this site is of interest to everyone, regardless of location. Topics cover every day science, the earth, the human body, living things – even the science of baseball. This is a free site.

NASA for Students
http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/index.html and http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov
Nasa.gov is a great site for students K and above and includes educational programs, Nasa e-clips, podcasts, and MORE. Starchild is geared toward a younger audience interested in learning about “space stuff”. Both sites are offered free of charge.


Middle School Chemistry
www.middleschoolchemistry.com
You can download all of the lessons from Middle School Chemistry for free. Middle School Chemistry is a resource of guided, inquiry-based lesson plans that covers basic chemistry concepts, along with the process of scientific investigation.

Science Buddies
www.sciencebuddies.org
This is a free site with over 1,000 science fair project ideas in more than 30 different areas of science. Great for home experiments too.

WRITING:

Starfall
http://www.starfall.com
Starfall is a free site that provides a systematic phonics approach in conjunction with phonemic awareness practice for kids Pre-School—2nd Grade.

Brave Writer
www.bravewriter.com
The website offers many free resources including podcasts, daily writing tips, exercises to try at home with your children, a forum where you can post questions, plus much more. In addition, the website sells a variety of products.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE:

Duolingo
www.duolingo.com
Free language education in Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian.

HISTORY and GEOGRAPHY

National Geographic
http://ww.nationalgeographic.com/kids and http://education.nationalgeographic.com
Wonderful content, amazing pictures—and who doesn’t like the National Geographic? Plus, it’s a free site.

ART & MUSIC

HomeschoolPiano
http://www.homeschoolpiano.com and http://jazzedge.com
Lessons follow a 6-step cycle that makes it easy for students to master the piano. Students have online access and learn at their own pace in the comfort of their own home or wherever they have internet access. No special equipment is needed. You can view the lessons as much as you like on any computer, tablet, or phone. Drum lessons are also available.

Online Drum Lessons

Click here for drum lesson info.

Harmony Fine Arts
http://harmonyfinearts.org
Homeschool art and music plans, written by Barb. Read how she includes art, music appreciation, and nature study in her children’s educational programs. Free, and items for purchase are available on the site.

SUPPLEMENTARY/FUN PRODUCTS and WEBSITES

Bookemon, Inc.
http://www.bookemon.com
Free, easy-to-use online, iPad and iPhone book creator for parents, educators and kids to create their own personalized books in pro-quality print and e-book format. Their exclusive edCenter platform gives homeschool parents a safe and secure environment to collaborate and work with their kids online. Their Young Author Press program helps young authors turn their creative writings into published books with ISBN-13, which allows students to be recognized as published authors worldwide.

Internet Marital Arts (IMA)
www.internetmartialarts.com
The site offers online martial arts courses which include web-based instructional videos, training, monitoring, and an online belt testing program for individuals age 6 (beginner friendly) and older. Students can train on their own schedule, and train anywhere while having access to instructor feedback—it’s the cyber martial arts learning solution.

How Stuff Works
http://www.howstuffworks.com
Fun site for everyone. Topics include engineering, environmental science, forces of nature, innovation, and more.

Teach With Movies
http://www.teachwithmovies.com
Lesson plans based on movies and films, such as The Sound of Music, Diary of Anne Frank, Mulan, and more. Teach With Movies provides the curriculum materials but not the movies themselves. 350+ guides—this was a subscription site and is now free.

Typing
www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing
A free and fun colorful website with animation and games introducing touch typing to children ages 7 to 11.

Songs for Teaching
http://www.songsforteaching.com
Thousands of children’s songs, lyrics, sound clips, and teaching suggestions. Songs about science, mathematics, social studies, the fine arts, life skills and more. You can listen to the songs online for free or purchase songs that you like.

Welcome

Welcome!
欢迎!
ようこそ!
Bienvenido!
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Thank you for your interest in American Academy of Strategic Education.

American Academy creates a perfect setting by paired the perfect academic environment with the perfect social environment to create the perfect educational setting:

How it works:

From the parent’s perspective – we have made this really easy for parents.  Sign them up and drop them off! Most homeschooling families’ homeschool for different reasons.  There is no right way to do it.  So we decided that our academy needed to offer consistent support and maximum flexibility.  And that is our goal.  We want to be here for you when you need us, and we want to work with your particular needs.

For families who homeschool because your child is a high-achiever and isn’t being challenged, or for the student who needs more time to grasp a concept, for students who prefer smaller settings, or students who need less noise and chaos, or for students who need a more flexible schedule for athletics, travel, health concerns. For parents who love to teach their children but whose children need more social stimulation from peers who will challenge and stretch them academically, or parents who love to homeschool their children but who also have work commitments.  Maybe you homeschool because you want to select the curriculum, have more guidance of the things that influence your children, have less government involvement in educating your children—whatever the reason you homeschool, we want to be the solution to your homeschooling needs.

For families who homeschool because your child is a high-achiever and isn’t being challenged, or for the student who needs more time to grasp a concept, for students who prefer smaller settings, or students who need less noise and chaos, or for students who need a more flexible schedule for athletics, travel, health concerns. For parents who love to teach their children but whose children need more social stimulation from peers who will challenge and stretch them academically, or parents who love to homeschool their children but who also have work commitments.  Maybe you homeschool because you want to select the curriculum, have more guidance of the things that influence your children, have less government involvement in educating your children—whatever the reason you homeschool, we want to be the solution to your homeschooling needs.

From the student’s perspective – we want to help you reach your maximum potential academically and socially.  Let’s look at this from your perspective:

Each Learning Period consists of 45 minutes of independent, academic study time and 15 minutes of social, interactive, creative-exploration free-time.

The first 45 minutes of each Learning Period is dedicated to Academic study time.  During this time, students work quietly on academic content with the support and supervision of a certified teacher.

The remaining 15 minutes of each hour is set aside for Free-time activities which consists of playing games such as Ping-Pong, chess, or board games; reading books; creating, inventing, and making projects using the tools and materials from the Student Workshop.

If a student is registered for a Club period,

Students participating in a Club spend the first 45 minutes dedicated to working toward the goals that the club members established in their first couple of meetings.  Each week they discuss the club’s subject area, they work on the goals that the club members have set in order to reach the club’s culminating event at the end of the semester. This is a time for socializing in a productive way, working together with their peers to solve real-world problems.  This is where the application of what they are learning comes into play.  This is where they realize that their education MATTERS, and what they know can make a difference in the real world.

Parent’s register students for a one-hour time slot once a week for the length of the semester. During that time slot, students can participate in a club if one is offered during that period, or in academic study time for the first 45 minutes of the period and free-time to learn and explore socially during the last 15 minutes of that period.

The cost of enrollment is $75 registration fee per student and $10 per one hour class, discounts are given to siblings and curriculum fees are additional if needed. It is that simple!

Please click here to learn more about American Academy and its offerings.