Homeschooling Isn’t What it Used to Be, Or is It? – Homeschooling

Home education in North America is changing, and I’m not sure that it’s for the better. Much of what I observe through working with homeschooling families is very different from what I experienced with my own children several years ago. Today, I would like to open a discussion and perhaps get some feedback from some of you.When I began homeschooling almost twenty years ago, we were a rare breed. There were so few people teaching their children at home that the average person had never heard of it, nor could people understand why we would make such an unusual educational choice. I remember being shy when discussing schooling at home, and when people asked me what I was doing, I mumbled nervously.In time, I developed confidence and my attitude changed from apologetic to proud. I became an ambassador of home education. The more responsible, outgoing homeschooled kids that I met, the more I wanted to shout to a critical world, “Socialization be hanged! Look at these kids!”In the early days of this movement, parents wanted to know why and how to homeschool before they would commit. I can’t remember anyone who casually agreed to do it. No way! In order to pull your children out of school twenty years ago, you had to be radically different, solidly focused or just plain crazy. Never did I hear anyone say, “Oh, heck! Let’s just homeschool this year and see how it goes.”Today, homeschooling is almost commonplace. It seems that everyone knows someone who homeschools, and unfortunately, it also seems as if all of us know someone who has homeschooled poorly. Stories abound of that one, odd homeschooling family that someone knew from someplace. Although not everyone understands it or accepts it, the concept itself no longer seems weird. It no longer shocks anyone. And it no longer requires naked courage to take it on.Because it’s acceptable, it’s so much easier to try it out. A person doesn’t need a burning passion, a firm commitment or a solid philosophy. In fact, many new homeschoolers don’t even know why homeschooling is a good option or how to homeschool well because they have never taken the time to find out. They don’t need to, because they aren’t risking as much today. Rather than studying to find out how to succeed, many just jump in and hope for the best.I remember reading piles of books, attending support group meetings and visiting homeschooling families before I agreed to take it on. I spent an entire summer investigating. It wasn’t an easy sell, but once I was sold on the idea, I charged forward–scared but determined, inexperienced but equipped.Not so today. At least, not everyone. And so we have many people homeschooling for the wrong reasons. And I would have to add that there are many homeschoolers who should not be doing it. Might I say that homeschooling is not for everyone? I hate to say it, but in some of the cases that I have seen in the past five to ten years, the kids would have been better off in public school.Now that I have made such a bold statement, I’m going to leave the discussion and let you mull it over. I hope that some of you will post comments.In my next article, I will continue my thoughts and tell you why I, a committed homeschooler, would dare to speak such heresy.

Buying Homes For Sale By Owner: The Pros And Cons Of Doing This – Buying Home

A good number of people are interested in buying homes for sale by owner or FSBO homes. Buying these types of properties are sometimes inevitable because of the agent’s unwillingness to do negotiations with owners. Let’s take a look at the different pros and cons of buying homes for sale by owner that you need to keep in mind before you decide to do so.More Profit From Negotiation Without The Presence Of A Buyer’s AgentThe process buying a FSBO house usually involves negotiating without any help from a buyer’s agent. This can really be advantageous for the buyer since the buyer’s agent will charge him a commission. The agent will be paid a certain percentage of the sale price of the property as a commission. Aside from this, the buyer’s agent will also be entitled to get a percentage of the difference between the listed price and the purchase price. Moreover, hourly fees as well as promotional expenses add up to the tab.It’s important to take note that the buyer’s agent won’t gain any benefit from getting the buyer the best deal because the commission that he’s going to get will be based on the purchase price. Because of this, the agent may be tempted to forget the best interests of the buyer. A good advantage of having a buyer’s agent on the other hand is that this real estate professional can help market the buyer as someone who’s serious about buying a property while helping him handle paperwork and other important legalities. A good agent will appraise the property and will try really hard to get the best deal for the buyer without thinking about loss of commission.Advantages And Disadvantages Of Negotiating With An OwnerDoing direct negotiations with an owner can be really advantageous since the seller’s agent won’t be present in the scene. This decreases the chances of the price of the property from increasing because of the agent’s attempt to gain more commission. Through this, the buyer can expect that he’s going to spot a lot of cheap properties for sale. However, there’s a danger of the owner not being reasonable enough and him overestimating the value of his property. Because of this, negotiations can become harder and the buyer may be forced to reconsider his offer.It is evident that buying FSBO homes involve quite a number of challenges for people who are aspiring homeowners. The seller, on the other hand, also needs to handle the task of marketing his property without the help of an agent. This is why FSBO homes are advised to people who are confident about buying properties without any help from an agent.

Who Are Rent-To-Buy Home Deals Suitable for? – Buying Home

Over the past few years, the rent-to-buy home deals have enjoyed a steady rise in popularity due to the growing property prices and the ever tougher mortgage requirements. They are designed to help you purchase a house after a period of renting. There are no special requirements to enter into such a deal and the terms and conditions are quite flexible. Find out when this strategy is an effective option.Bad CreditIf you currently have bad credit, you will find it extremely difficult to secure a home loan. Even if you get approved, you can expect to pay a much higher mortgage rate. With a rent-to-buy home deal, you can have your dream home right away. You agree to a rental term after which you will have the opportunity to purchase the house at the initially set price, which cannot be changed.A chunk of the rent will go towards building equity in the property. That way, you will have several years, typically between three and five, to repair your credit and to apply for a mortgage. Since your contributions will be discounted from the price, you will have even higher chances of getting a loan due to its smaller size.Foreclosure and BankruptcyIf you have gone through foreclosure or bankruptcy, you will have to wait for a year or two before you can apply for a mortgage and purchase a house again. You can use this time to build equity in the property that you want to purchase via a rent-to-buy deal. That way, you will have better chances of approval when you apply for a home loan eventually.Insufficient SavingsAt present, most mortgage lenders require house buyers to place a deposit equal to some 20% of the value of the property. This is quite a lot of money especially for young families with a lot of expenses. If you do not have sufficient savings, but you have saved a considerable amount of money, you can go for a rent-to-own deal. This will enable you to secure a home loan at a later date. Just keep in mind that the deposit which you make as part of such a deal cannot be refunded so you will have to make serious commitment.No Stable EmploymentMost lenders will reject your mortgage applications if you have changed jobs frequently over the past two years. If you plan to settle in and to stay on your current job for a longer period of time, you can readily use the rent-to-own option. When the time for making a mortgage application comes, you will have the employment stability required by the lender.You can have your dream home with a rent-to-buy deal.

I Need, I Want, and May I Please? Which Homeschool Courses to Offer – Homeschooling

Homeschool families have many choices – curricula, schedules, extra-curricular, coop or no coop…and the list goes on. Developing a written plan for each year and the goals of your school in the big picture is the first step to homeschool success, but in order to do that, homeschool families sometimes have to sort through the “needs versus wants, versus options” question. There is a difference in each of these areas when it comes to the subjects you include for study, and far too often homeschoolers allow the wants and the options to overpower the needs for their homeschool. Plan ahead, prepare for flexibility, and involve your student in the process whenever possible!Be sure that you know the state codes for graduation in your state. An excellent source for clarification is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. They keep one of the most up to date websites on specific state requirements. And even if you are homeschooling through an on-line private school program or a chartered program, it is still the obligation of the parent to meet state codes. Subjects of study do vary from state to state, relationships with local school districts are handled differently, and homeschool parents need to understand the process in their state. There should be no fear in dealing with these codes, but adherence is critical. Stay current on the requirements that affect you.Once you have determined that all areas of mandatory core subjects are included in your plan towards graduation, then you can consider a list of “wants” – courses that you or your student would like to add in over time. Just because one child in your homeschool wants to learn Spanish, for instance, that does not mean that another child might not prefer French. Be adaptable to different “wants” as that will help to motivate and encourage the unique styles and character of each of your students. Homeschooling may be the common vehicle, but not all students have a common passion! Capitalize upon their unique interests.And then a third item worth consideration would be a list of “what if” courses or areas of study. What if you had the opportunity to let each child travel for their senior year? What skills would you want your child to have? Planning for those skills and aptitudes while younger will give your children more options down the road. Perhaps one of your children has a passion for missionary work. That can be included in your homeschool plan if you have allowed plenty of preparation, both for academic needs as well as personal needs.Homeschooling is full of possibilities and options. In fact, that is what draws many into homeschooling. However, you must keep focused on the big picture, while allowing flexibility in the plan. The options can be as glittering lights that draw you in, but plan ahead for them with foresight and awareness. That will eliminate false starts and wasted time. The earlier in a homeschool program that you can sit down with each child individually and create a master list of needs, wants, and “maybe” items, the earlier you will be able to incorporate these core studies into your homeschool program. Over time, each child that you homeschool will begin to develop unique gifts. You will need to allow some elasticity into your plan in order to pursue specific requests as your child grows. Never sacrifice the required elements, as that will impact your child’s prospects for college, but you may find that while you would like to add enrichment opportunities in some areas, your child may prefer to do extra work in a different area altogether. By involving your homeschool student in this planning process, you will have a much more motivated and engaged student learner in your homeschool program. You will also be teaching the fundamental skill of ownership and pride in self-direction that comes from creating, implementing, and completing a successful plan.

The Perks Of Buying Homes In The Oceanfront Town Of Surfside, Florida – Buying Home

In the Miami-Dade metropolitan area, a quaint seaside community is proud of its hometown traditions, and still manages to offer tourists and visitors a really nice place to visit.The town of Surfside is a wonderful, closely-knit oceanfront community located in Miami-Dade County, situated between Miami Beach and North Miami Beach. The area has a total population of only 5,600,and has the perfect mix of a tranquil, attractive and truly livable residential and shopping community.Tranquil Neighborhood Offers Many Residential DevelopmentsThe city’s real estate ranges from a serene waterfront neighborhood which combines small and large-scale homes to upscale, luxury oceanfront condos. The town has its own home town shopping district as well as sprinkling of shops, restaurants, hotels, motels and resorts. Its residents vary from tourists and other year-round visitors, to its own loyal locals who shop, work and play in this beautiful community.The Town Has An Effective Zoning And Land Use OrdinanceThe efficiency and effectiveness of the town’s public services is highly rated by residents and out-of-towners. The community’s sanitation services are considered to be one of the very best in the nation. Garbage and trash is collected from all residences, businesses, and public areas around six days a week, and the police response time is placed at just around one minute. The town has entertainment and recreation programs which are regularly offered.The town operates on a balanced budget, and the property tax rate has not been increased one bit for over a decade. This setting has produced pride in the community’s record of positive results and achievement in the public interest. The town’s officials have also implemented zoning and land use policies that are intended, and have actually protected the character of the community, and avoid the hazards associated with over development and pollution.On building ordinances, the city’s officials have not granted even a single height or density variance during their tenure, and in addition to effective growth management and zoning policies, the town’s officials have also enacted stricter traffic control measures that aim to provide higher levels of stability and order to residents and town visitors as well.How Real Estate Prices Figure HereReal estate prices in this town have seen a slight drop, and it’s obvious by looking at the lowest priced home listings at $449,000, as well as seeing two home sales falling below that.However, despite the slow home buying market, Surfside’s proximity to the ocean make it a wonderful location to live in, along with having a pleasing community atmosphere. The oceanfront condos on sale here are not getting hit as hard by the down-market though, but with no sales in January, housing market observers note that it may be the perfect time to get a waterfront home or condo right on the beach and be close to the warm sand and feel the ocean breeze.With the available homes being sold here quite close to the ocean, you should expect homeowners here to visit the beach often, since everyone lives just a few blocks away. You’ll regularly see people strolling towards the ocean with their children, while others would sit on their beach chairs, and most would take a quick swim on the waters of the Bay. – Florida Real Estate

The Ever Increasing Popularity of Homeschooling – Homeschooling

Homeschooling is becoming a popular option for many families in this country. There are several reasons for this.Flexibility and FreedomTraditional schools have become bogged down in tests and measurements. More and more, students are being taught, at a specific time and in a specific way because that’s the information the students are expected to reproduce on a test. Standardized testing has dramatically changed the face of traditional public education in this country, as has the No Child Left Behind initiative set forth by President Bush.Parents and children are becoming disenchanted with a system of education that so rigidly adheres to the idea that if it’s not on the test, there’s no time for it. Schools are pressed to meet deadlines with students and in many cases, the curriculum has been cut back to give the tested material more time. Presumably, this is to increase the test scores. Choosing to homeschool takes the pressure of testing out of the equation. Many states require standardized testing at certain grade levels for homeschool students, but how a family decides to structure the curriculum to prepare for that test (or not) is up to them. Homeschooling allows flexibility and freedom.SafetyMany parents perceive traditional schools as more dangerous places than in previous decades. School shootings in high schools are horrendous events and have been occurring with frequency. Elementary school students have brought guns and drugs to schools. Students tease and bully other students. Parents, in an effort to protect their children from these negative influences, choose homeschooling as a safe option for their children.ValuesParents often have concerns about the curriculum the students are exposed to, in public school. Parents would like to see their own values mirrored in the school curriculum, so they might not want their child to receive information about sex in the fifth grade, or for their children to be exposed to literature with explicit passages. Control over the curriculum is important for many parents who choose homeschooling. And this is often a reason for families to make the change from traditional schooling to homeschooling.QualityA concern over the quality of education children get in a traditional school setting often brings families to homeschooling. Typically, children who are at the ends of the learning spectrum are thought to be the type to homeschool. Gifted students who need more of a challenge can benefit from the freedom not to be held back by a mandated curriculum or the limitations of course offerings.Struggling students are homeschooled in order to provide them the support and the one-on-one time for them to find success. But with increasing frequency, it is the “average” student who turns to homeschooling. Traditional schools have received much funding for gifted and remedial education and parents have pushed to get those needs met for their children. The average student often gets overlooked and parents choose to homeschool in order to ensure that student doesn’t get looked over or left behind.Networking OptionsParents who might have been reluctant to homeschool for social reasons are deciding now that homeschooling is a good option. Many opportunities have developed in the last decade for homeschool students to network, socialize, participate in athletics, and even take classes together.

Buying Home – Buying Home

Buying a home is one of the most exciting and stressful experiences in most people’s lifetimes. Because the interest rates were lower, and there were more financing options, more Americans than ever have been able to buy homes since the year 2000. The word “home” has deep meaning to most people, so it seems only natural that this should be a well-considered endeavor.
Question number one is whether or not you really can afford on-going monthly payments for the size / location home you desire. If, for example, you’re having trouble with rent, you’re probably going to struggle with mortgage payments too. Similarly if you have a bad credit history or if you’re not working a dependable job, it’s going to be hard to secure a reasonable mortgage.Having said that, if you feel confident about buying, many websites offer online mortgage calculations. So if you find a few listings that sound like they’re perfect, in an area you want to live, plug in the purchase price listed. Note that most mortgage calculators will allow you to figure by various lengths (10, 20, 30 year), fixed or variable rates, and some will even help you calculate annual taxes! Based on this information you can shop smarter. Do remember, however, that the mortgage is just the beginning – all your utilities including water get added on to that.Next make your wish list – all the things you want in a home. Siding or not? Driveway or not? Fenced yard or not? Think long term, including potential family growth. For example, you might love big, old homes but these houses require more upkeep and maintenance that gets difficult as one gets older. Remember you’re buying for 30 years, not just today. On the other hand, older homes typically reside in well-established communities and may have lower property taxes.
Then there’s location. Where you live determines school district, taxes, building regulations etc. Know your potential neighborhood. How easy is it to get where you want, when you want to get there? How well are the roads maintained? All of these little things affect how happy you will be in your home for the years ahead.After all this minutia you’re ready to find a real estate agent. In this case, networking and word of mouth really does help. You want an agent who knows your area, who listens to what you want, and provides you with information in a timely manner. For example, a good agent will know what homes are selling for in a specific neighborhood, and can therefore tell you if a specific house is overpriced. Additionally a good agent walks you through the whole process of home buying from pre-qualification to signing final paperwork, professionally, checking each step of the way that the buyer understands any issues or concerns.As you look at houses with your agent, try everything. Check the water pressure, look for cracks and watermarks, think about the layout and your lifestyle (does your furniture fit?). Overall, try to see yourself in this space for a long time and see how you feel after pondering that. It’s recommended that you review at least 15 homes before buying, and even then getting a home inspection before making an offer final.

Homeschooling Help – Four Important Resources For Parents – Homeschooling

Homeschooling parents have a wealth of information available to them today that many homeschoolers did not have several years ago. The blaze of added homeschoolers across America within the last few years has opened up many doors. If you have Internet access, you are only a few clicks away from many great resources. In addition to the Internet, there are lots of local resources as well, that should be utilized when needed. Here are just a few of the most important and valuable resources.Homeschool Resource #1: Your public library. If you have access to a public library but don’t have a library card, now is the time to go get one. This is probably one of the most valuable resources to any homeschooling family. You can supplement your reading materials with books from the library that your child finds more interesting. You will most likely also be able to hook up with a local homeschool group in your area, too, as many of them choose to meet at public libraries for their monthly meetings. As equally important, you will be able to find reading material for yourself, too. And finally, in the children’s section, you can sometimes discover they carry textbooks from public schools (who have usually replaced the textbooks and donate the old ones to the library). These are great for creating additional worksheets and lessons in areas your child is struggling.Homeschool Resource #2: Your school or school board office. If your child has been in a public school and you are removing them to homeschool them now, you will often find the principle will be happy to help you make the transition. Many will provide support and any resources you might need to get started with homeschooling (such as textbooks to borrow, curriculum guidelines, state requirements, etc.). Your local school board office should be willing to provide any helpful information as well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or ask for help. If these school officials aren’t willing to help you, don’t get discouraged. Just use some of these other resources available to you.Homeschool Resource #3: The Internet. In a matter of seconds, you can do a search online and find endless homeschooling helps. You’ll find online groups, at places like Yahoo! Groups. There are free resources, like printable lesson plans and activities for your kids. There are many websites that also create resources like lapbook lesson plans that you can download for a small fee. Be sure you have a budget in place for school supplies and stick to your budget when using such resources.Homeschool Resource #4: Personal network of support. While your main concern is probably ensuring your child gets the best education at home, don’t forget about yourself. Homeschool is fun sometimes, and challenging at best. There will be days when you feel alone, and other days when you feel inadequate to do the job. During times like these, you need a strong support network that you can turn to for advice or support. This will probably be your most valuable resource of all.