Category Archives: Home School High School Electives

Free e-book for Kindle or Kindle App

I wanted to let you all know about this FREE e-book, “Planning High School Courses”.
This e-book is Free February 23 – 26 in celebration of the author’s birthday!
This is a free download at Amazon from Lee Binz, who is a wonderful consultant. Lee’s books and webinars have really helped me to homeschool my high schoolers!
In this book, you will learn the high school courses which are essential prior to graduation, that is, the courses your student needs to master before moving on to college or career. 
This is the first book in my new Coffee Break Book Series, which I will “officially” announce in my March 1st Newsletter. But I wanted you to have a nice gift on my SPECIAL day!
You can give this gift to your friends too! I want to give away as many downloads as possible to make this a really special celebration.



Many thanks Lee, and may you have a very happy birthday!

Merit Blog Sig


Environmentalists – Beware the Homeschoolers!

Oh No It’s Raining Again!

Yes, this makes three posts in a row where as I was posting, it was raining.  I heard some thunder not too long ago. Can you get hit by lightning while using a wireless laptop?

Hmm, I should look into that if I am going to blog in my “Suburban” all the time like this. 

Speaking of “Suburbans”, today I am waiting in a parking lot full of SUV‘s and Mini vans. It is enough to give a Greenpeace member a heart attack! I have heard that Homeschoolers have an average of 3 kids each rather than the 2 kid average for typical US families. Thus, the need for SUV’s and Mini Vans. Have you ever tried to fit three kids in an average family car? You can do it, but it is not a fun ride!

I have also heard that Homeschoolers tend to recycle more than the average American, so maybe that makes up for the larger carbon footprint!

This is the afternoon of the Homeschool Choir practice and P.E. Class. The kids love it and I like that it gives me time to catch up on “office” stuff and of course, update my blog. I used to just bring a book and veg out! I think I probably will still do that sometimes :)

I am striving to use my time wisely and be more balanced. This afternoon I have goals to update my blog, type up the Minutes from our “Friends of the Library” board meeting and finalize the layout for our homeschool support group newsletter. I may not complete all this while waiting for the kids, but that is ok with me. I have set the goals and I can finish it up at home if I don’t get it all done!

I am pretty easy-going with our schedule. If I can’t complete what is on my “To Do” list, I will just move it to the next day. Items that must be done by a particular day are a priority and so I try to tackle those things first. At our house, everyone helps with the household tasks so I delegate those that are not assigned to a particular person on a particular day.

I have been toying with planning on Sundays or Mondays for the entire week, but it seems when I try to do that, I am more frustrated when the plan doesn’t pan out (and at our house it never pans out!). So I have stuck with daily planning along with checking my monthly calendar each morning to be sure I don’t miss anything.

I have been told that I am actually very organized, but I have always hesitated to advise people when they have asked me how I do so much! That is because I guess I realize how different we all are. What works for me would drive some of you crazy! And some of you are much more structured in your days than would be healthy for me :) I am still not completely happy with the way the days go, so I would love your input or  suggestions.

So what type of planning works for you?


Online Classes Can Alleviate Panic!

…it is true; I have personally gathered extensive anecdotal evidence which shows that Online Classes, like DVD‘s, co-op classes and community college can help alleviate the feeling of panic which is sometimes associated with the idea of Homeschooling for High School!

Some of our students are just not going to shine in all areas of independent study and will need help. There are great resources out there to help us teach our children at home and I would like to encourage you to check them out before assuming that you can’t have High School at home because of a lack of ability in the higher level courses.

Sometimes, the problem is more simple in that we, as the Homeschool parent/teacher, feel a lack in a particular area and are not confident in our ability. Again the solution can be as easy as paying a fee for a class in that area, hiring a tutor or purchasing a DVD class for that particular area of our Homeschool Program.

When I am allocating our Homeschool materials budget, I figure in the cost of more expensive materials for the areas where my students and I need more help. If you have read this blog before, you probably know that is MATH!

Thanks to the internet and other media, we can give our students the pleasure of learning that difficult subject from a “master” of that subject!

HSLDA has been a long time supporter of Homeschooling in so many ways and we have them to thank for a new resource for High School at home. The Homeschool Channel  from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is offering online classes from “The Potter’s School”:

I also share some more links for online classes at my other blog :

It sounds like it is specific to my Home State, but really I share a lot of info that is not related specifically to North Carolina there, so I hope you will search it for “Online Classes” and it should bring up some other resources you can “click” and go visit :)

I know it is the lazy woman’s way, but I have to get off this computer so I do not want to go researching all those links again now, as I already have several other resources blogged about over there! Sometimes laziness is just another word for being more efficient – right?

Thanks for allowing  me rationalize that move – lol! One of these days I am going to consolidate all my blogs!

Have a great weekend readers!


Merit K


PG Key Means Peace of Mind!


“PG Key” is a device that can easily help you “plug-in” to your

 kids’ online life by helping you monitor and limit their “screen time”.

The “PG SafeKey” allows you to monitor and control your Teen’s computer time and helps you to protect them by blocking offensive websites with their “safe search” (partnered with Google Search). You literally just plug it in to your USB (like a flash drive or thumb drive) and go.  It worked right away for us and I was able to go back to a “log” and see every screen that was accessed including my Facebook pages,  email, Yahoo Groups and files that were saved on my computer’s hard drive. 

 The PG Key  is conveniently sized too, since it is only about the size of a typical  thumb drive.  You can pop it into your pocketbook or laptop bag to use or to access the reports from your office or out-of-town. You can also have it set up to email a report to you if you prefer.

When you unplug the PG key, the computer is not operable so your kids cannot thwart or accidentally access the safe search mechanisms that block porn and other offensive sites.

I also did an “uninstall” on the PG key to be sure it really was user-friendly. PG Key did both the installation and the uninstallation very easily! Many of my friends are “computer challenged” and ask me for advice so I look for “ease of use” before I recommend anything and PG Key really is super easy to use. 

Sometimes parents give up on regular blocking software, because it can be hard to figure out. PG Key walks you through your set up very quickly and the report came up automatically as a slide show so that I could view a screen shot of each screen that was viewed. I was really impressed. The slide show showed me the user name, time and date and the typed conversations I had with my friends on Facebook! PG SafeKey will show you chat & IM too. It records up to 60 hours of data for you to view.

Another thing I liked was that this device didn’t slow down my computer – because it is a mass storage device, my computer hard drive doesn’t get bogged down like it would if this was regular software I had to completely download to my PC. This is important, because my computer is already old and slow!

There is not a yearly monitoring fee – just your one time purchase price of $49.99. The “key” is customizable and you can add any sites you want to your personalized “blacklist”. They offer support and lots of good information on their site as well.

Here are some of the benefits they have listed on their website:


Access Control

Control computer use by inserting or unplugging PG Key.

Time Allowance

Decide the amount of time the computer can be used daily.

Content Filtering

Eliminate unwanted results from innocent searches.

Site Blocking

Block sites you decide are inappropriate.

Activity Tracking

Review all activity on the PC with a DVD-like interface.

Activity Notifications

Be informed via text message or e-mail of any flagged activity.

Chat and E-mail Logging

See both sides of chat and e-mail conversations.

Computer Configuration

Properly configure all users of the protected PC.

User Name and Password Logging

Keep track of user names and passwords.

Inappropriate Activity Evidence

Use video recording to show obvious or suspected inappropriate activity.

Another benefit is that the PG Key offers an opportunity for my older children to research and use the tools of the web while offering them a visual reminder to be careful what they “click”- that little red “stick” is right there in the USB port where you can see it easily! 

Any type of blocking/filtering software is valuable, but this type of device has the added benefit of helping them to internalize those good habits in addition to having dependable external controls.

For a limited time, you can try it out FREE for 30 days. Just go to the website (Click on the PG Key Pic below) and you can see what you think personally with no obligation.



privacy policy return policy



 If you would like to see how other TOS Crew Members used this product you can go to their blogs from here:


As a member of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew (TOS Crew) I received this product free of charge in order to review it and post about how we used it here. My purpose in sharing reviews is simply to give you my opinion about the performance of products and curriculum. I have found that a review often gives me a tool that  helps me use my own best judgement about how well something will work for my own family.

As always, it is my hope that this article will help you with your own Homeschooling or Parenting “Mission”!  


Really LOUD Music Lessons


Here is a picture of my 8th Grader practicing his “chops”.


My husband is a drummer, so he decided to get the kids a used drum-set and teach them how to play. Finally, a subject that I do not have to teach! Isn’t it amazing that we had just the right space for it here? I had just finished re-arranging our school and family room area and I had to move our exercise bike, but that drum-set just looks right in that corner. It is a little cramped, but I think it worked out really well.

The kids each have specific beats that they have to practice every week and he even set up the laptop so that they can view some good drum tips on “You Tube”. I am in the process of looking for DVDs or online lessons that will work for us too. Any suggestions? I will post the results of my investigations and any recommendations that I receive right here because I believe in sharing! It is difficult to find music lessons in our area (a little outside of a small town) so that is why I prefer the DVD or online Lessons if I can find them. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to get to some of the places that have been recommended to me for music lessons and I prefer to spend that time on academics or community service activities if I possibly can.

The house has been loud, but I love it that they have found an instrument they all like to play (so far). The poor lonely guitar has been sitting in the corner for the last 2 weeks while they play with their new “toy”, but I am sure that one of them will pick it back up again soon. This gives me time to get the piano tuned as well!

My hubby loves to play the “progressive rock” style and some jazzy or funky music, so he has subjected them to tons of music from the ’80’s recently. He let them stay up late one night and that was how he bribed them to listen to a collection of  “Yes” songs!

They just want to listen to Skillet or “Weird Al” (hee hee!) which kills him! The four of them are spending some quality time together and learning more about music. I have to re-work my kids’ schedules to include drum practice though. When I printed up the schedules, we didn’t have the drums!

So… “drum-roll” please…. It is now time to trash the first schedule of the 2010-2011 school year !

You know what project I will be working on this weekend :)

Have a great Wednesday!


Speaking of Contests…

Speaking of Contests… Here are a couple of great ones:

Art Contest Especially for Homeschooled Students- Deadline is August 1 st!

You can also purchase her downloadable video Art Lessons there!

If your child is an artist with words, “Homeschool Writers” offers a contest of their own:

Community Service Projects

Today my Teens are working on a community service project with the county 4-H Club. We school year round, but community involvement is really important to our family, so we make service time a priority. Plus then, I get to spend “Mom” time with my youngest- today he wanted a “Mythbusters” marathon. I am a little tired of seeing things blow up and people throw up so I am taking a break! He actually asked if it counted as “Science”… Hmmm … maybe!

I have found that it is actually pretty easy for young people to get involved in serving in lots of different areas. It is great for them to see ways that we can meet needs in our own Hometown, as opposed to thinking that they have to travel to a foreign land to serve those in need. (and no vaccinations or airfare!)

This is also a good way for them to see what kinds of work they enjoy and for them to learn how to get along with lots of different kinds of people. My kids are usually pretty thoughtful, but it is a great time of life to show them ways to focus on what they can do to help others rather than thinking only of themselves. (not that we humans might be proned to this!)

And do not forget, as people always are telling me: ” Community Service looks great on their college resume'”. Even if it was a blight on their records, we would still do it, because it is the right thing to do and it can be enjoyable to know that we have made a small difference in our own little part of this big world. More teens need that feeling of being needed and useful! In my opinion, it might keep some of them out of trouble if they just realized how important they really are. (maybe some grown-ups too :) And think of how important the people they help feel when someone reaches out to encourage them in some way!

I try to lead by example, so I serve in several areas in our community, because I have seen that our attitudes are more “caught” than they are “taught”! We want our children to be well educated and to us that includes learning service to others. It is our hope that our hearts for serving will be an example to the kids, and that they will grow to be well-rounded and caring individuals, not just academic giants.

Is there a scholarship for that? lol!

Hope that you are accomplishing your “Mission” today, whatever that might be and thanks for taking time out of your busy day to read !