Articles

College Professor Critiques Homeschoolers

© Greg Landry 2019. For permission to reprint in blogs, newsletters, web sites, email messages, etc. please contact Greg Landry.

I teach sophomore through senior level college students - most of them are "pre-professional" students. They are preparing to go to medical school, dental school, physical therapy school, etc.

As a generalization, I've noticed certain characteristics common in my students who were homeschooled.  Some of these are desirable, some not.

Desirable characteristics:

1. Homeschooled students are independent learners and do a great job of taking initiative and being responsible for learning. They don't have to be "spoon fed" as many students do. This gives them an advantage at two specific points in their education; early in college and in graduate education.

2. They handle classroom social situations (interactions with their peers and professors) very well. In general, my homeschooled students are a pleasure to have in class. They greet me when they enter the class, initiate conversations when appropriate, and they don't hesitate to ask good questions in class. Most of my students do none of these.

3. They are serious about their education and that's very obvious in their attitude, preparedness, and grades.

Areas where homeschooled students can improve:

1. They come to college less prepared in the sciences than their schooled counterparts - sometimes far less prepared. This can be especially troublesome for pre-professional students who need to maintain a high grade point average from the very beginning.

2. They come to college without sufficient test-taking experience, particularly with timed tests. Many homeschooled students have a high level of anxiety when it comes to taking timed tests.

3. Many homeschooled students have problems meeting deadlines and have to adjust to that in college. That adjustment time in their freshman year can be costly in terms of the way it affects their grades.

My advice to homeschooling parents:

1. If your child is even possibly college bound and interested in the sciences, make sure that they have a solid foundation of science in the high school years.

2. Begin giving timed tests by 7th or 8th grade. I'm referring to all tests that students take, not just national, standardized tests. I think it is a disservice to not give students timed tests. Students tend to focus better and score higher on timed tests, and, they are far better prepared for college and graduate education if they've taken timed tests throughout the high school years.

In the earlier years the timed tests should allow ample time to complete the test as long as the student is working steadily. The objective is for them to know it's timed yet not to feel a time pressure. This helps students to be comfortable taking timed tests and develops confidence in their test-taking abilities.

3. Give your students real deadlines to meet in the high school years. If it's difficult for students to meet these deadlines because they're coming from mom or dad, have them take "outside" classes; online, co-op, or community college.

Build on the strengths that homeschooling offers and send your students to college fully prepared and a step ahead of most other students.

Greg is a homeschool dad, former college professor, and founder and director of www.CollegePrepScience.com 

Thoughts on Daughters...and Sons

© Greg Landry 2019. For permission to reprint in blogs, newsletters, web sites, email messages, etc. please contact Greg Landry.

I tear-up every time I get email from one of my homeschool science students this semester. Why? There's a line at the bottom of all her email messages which reads...

"A girl needs to be so lost in God, that the guy is going to have to seek HIM to find her!"

This young lady gets it - she REALLY gets it!

Like many of you, we have daughters. They're now 16 and 20 years-old. Since they were babies, my wife and I have been praying for their future husbands. We have impressed upon them over the years that the kind of guy they want to spend the rest of their lives with.. the guy that God has for them, is the kind of guy who will be attracted to a girl who is "lost in God."

He's the guy who will be attracted to a young lady who loves the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. A young lady whose thoughts, words, actions, and dress are pure. A young lady who is "in the world, but not of the world".

A while back I gave this to my daughters. I compiled and combined it from several similar pieces I've read over the years..

- Wait for the guy who pursues you, the kind of guy who brings out the best in you and makes you want to be a better woman.

- Wait for the guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot.

- Wait for the guy who kisses your forehead and wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats.

- Wait for the guy who holds your hand in front of his friends and thinks you're just as pretty without makeup.

- Wait for the guy who turns to his friends and says, "that's her."

Wait for the guy who will be your best friend, the person who will drop everything to be with you.

- Wait for the guy who praises God for you and encourages you in your daily walk.

..and most importantly, wait for the guy who is more in love with God than with you.

Love Y'all,

Dad

The Truth about College Sports Scholarships for Homeschooled Students

© Greg Landry 2019. For permission to reprint in blogs, newsletters, web sites, email messages, etc. please contact Greg Landry.

As a homeschooling parent, you hear lots of opinions and stories about homeschooled students getting college sports scholarships. Unfortunately, much of it is off the mark. I'd like to explain to you how homeschoooled students who:

1. are slightly above average to very good athletes
2. love their sport
3. are hard workers
4. want to continue their sport in college

...can often receive college sports scholarships.

As a homeschool dad, I have some experience in this area. "Back in the day," I was an NCAA Division I college athlete. And, with our homeschooled daughters, for the past seven years, we have been involved in college sports with them.

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) is the sports association of the vast majority of the major colleges throughout the country. Just about all of the college sports you see on TV and read about are college teams that belong to the NCAA.

NCAA sports, particularly NCAA Division I sports, are serious business and very competitive. Please realize that only a very, very small percentage of students are offered NCAA Division I sports scholarships. Even students who you may see as spectacular athletes are often not at this level.

And, if you do happen to have a child who is at the level of being offered a sports scholarship from an NCAA Division I school, I would encourage your family to consider another question: do we want our son or daughter in that environment?

Now, please don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying that being a member of an NCAA Division I college sports team is something you should dismiss outright. I am just suggesting that you fully understand the situation before making a decision.

I was an NCAA Division I athlete, so I speak from experience. It's very serious business and it's about the sport, not about academics. The sport consumes many hours every day, in season and out of season. And, while the general team environment may be good in some situations, it's not in most.  I'm just suggesting that you know the facts before making a decision. And, in sports, it's often better to be a big fish in a little pond rather than a little fish in a big pond.

Also, the NCAA makes homeschooled students jump through an excessive number of hoops before they will consider them "legitimate" high school graduates - it's absolutely ridiculous! They're about 30 years behind the times in their approach to accepting homeschooled students. And, why is a sports organization involved in evaluating academics when the college or university (to which the student has been accepted) has already done that?

All that being said, there is a wonderful alternative to the NCAA. It's called the NAIA ( www.naia.org ) the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. It's an association of a couple of hundred small, typically Christian colleges throughout the country.  While these colleges field competitive sports teams in all the major sports, they are not nearly as competitive as the NCAA.

A student who:

1. is a slightly above average to very good athlete
2. loves their sport
3. is a hard worker
4. wants to continue their sport in college

...can often receive a college sports scholarship from an NAIA college.

While NAIA student athletes certainly spend a considerable amount of time on their sport, it is a manageable amount of time for most students. The focus of the NAIA is the total student and their motto is "Champions of Character." Last year they awarded $500 million in athletic scholarships.

Both of our daughters are above average swimmers who are hard workers, and love their sport. Our oldest swam at an NAIA college on scholarship for four years and loved it. She graduated a couple of years ago. Our youngest is a senior this year on a swimming scholarship at an NAIA college. She has also enjoyed being a student athlete.

They both also received academic scholarships, which, in combination with athletic scholarships, makes their education much more affordable.  Academic scholarships are primarily based upon SAT / ACT scores - a topic for another article.

So, as one homeschooling parent to another, if you have a student interested in college sports, I would encourage you to explore the NAIA and know your options. If you have questions, email me, I'd be glad to help if I can.

Cadaver Lab - Three Stories

© Greg Landry 2019. For permission to reprint in blogs, newsletters, web sites, email messages, etc. please contact Greg Landry.

I was recently talking to a friend about some of the funny things that happened in my university human anatomy (cadaver) lab last semester. I love these kids - this put a smile on my face.

As you may know, an anatomy lab can be a rough place at times; people faint, vomit, cry, laugh, refuse to open their eyes, etc. But most students end up loving it once they get through the first time or two.

Here are a couple of situations from last semester that will put a smile on your face. Please note that all of these students ended up "lovin' anatomy".

Bill fainted the first time he saw the cadaver. He was lowered to the floor gently by a couple of girls standing behind him. On his back, on the floor, with about ten people staring down at him, he opened his eyes and said;

"Hey, get out of my room. What time is it?"

__________

A female student fainted, but didn't go down so easily. Her head hit the wall on the way down, causing a fairly substantial wound on the back of her head. As we were trying to stop the bleeding and get her to the ER to get stitched up, what was she concerned about?..

"I just got a new haircut, please don't let them shave my head to stitch that cut."

__________

And then there was Harry (name changed to protect the guilty). Harry and about ten other students were dissecting on one cadaver while I and a few students were dissecting another cadaver. Here's how the conversation went from there;

Harry: "oops!"

me: "what happened Harry?"

Harry: "I think i cut something."

me: "what was it Harry?"

Harry: "I think it was the lung"

I walk over to take a look.

me: "Nope Harry, that would be the small intestine."

..And this boy wants to be a surgeon. :)  But, that's what the learning process is all about.

14 Homeschool Science Mistakes - and How to Avoid Them

© Greg Landry 2019. For permission to reprint in blogs, newsletters, web sites, etc. please contact Greg Landry.

As homeschooling parents we give our children so many advantages as they move into the middle and upper grades and then to college. But, I believe there is one area where we can significantly improve the way we prepare them. That area is science.

 

Having taught science to several thousand homeschooling and college students over the past 20+ years, several things stand out to me. I've put together a list of 14 concrete steps we can take to better prepare our budding scientists.

Mistake #1 – Not starting to formally teach science early enough.

Start formally teaching science by the sixth grade. Students need the development that happens in those three years (sixth, seventh, and eighth grade) to prepare them for high school level science.

Mistake #2 – Generalizing the names for, and thus the way we teach, science. Call it Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc. and not “General Science”, “Physical Science”, etc., even in the young grades. Doing this virtually eliminates the intimidation that comes with “Physics” etc in the high school years and clarifies what you’re teaching in the middle grades.

 

For example, at College Prep Science, rather than a homeschool year of “Physical Science," we teach a semester of “Pre-Physics” and a semester of “Pre-Chemistry.” Rather than a homeschool year of "Life Science," we teach a semester of "Pre-Biology" and a semester of "Pre-Anatomy and Physiology."

Mistake #3 – Not doing enough testing.

Testing in the sciences prepares our students for the rigors of high school level science, college science, standardized testing, and assures that they are learning the material and that they are learning how to take tests. Of course it should be age appropriate but we should be testing.

Mistake #4 – Not doing timed tests.

I know that very few homeschooling families give their students timed tests and I think we are doing them a disservice. Gently beginning timed science tests in the middle grades gives students confidence, eliminates the anxiety associated with timed tests, and trains them to do well on standardized tests and on timed tests in college.

Start gently in the middle grades and slowly progress from there. For example, if you’re giving a student a 15 question test that you think will take them about 10 minutes to complete, tell them they have 25 minutes to take it. When they finish with plenty of time to spare it gives them confidence and relieves anxiety. The amount of extra time you give can be altered as they get older. Students actually do better on timed tests because they are focused on the test – knowing they have to work steadily. I always tell students, “If you are prepared and work steadily you will have plenty of time to finish this test.”

Mistake #5 – Teaching science year-round.

I know that many parents are proponents of year-round school (no summer break), but I believe it’s actually counter-productive. From experience with thousands of students I believe that students need to know they can work hard for a prescribed period of time and then have a total break from classes for a while.

Mistake #6 – Not starting the high school sciences early enough.

I know it’s easy to put off starting the high school sciences, but it’s important, especially if the students may be a college science major. Critical decisions should be made going into 8th grade. The critical factor is being ready for standardized testing and being able to fit in the needed sciences in the high school years. High school Biology should be taken in the 9th grade for most students and in the 8th grade for capable students who will likely be science majors.

Mistake #7 – Not beginning to take the ACT early enough.

Success on this standardized test is critical for college admissions and plays a direct role in how much financial aid a student will receive. Taking these tests twice per year beginning in 8th grade gives students experience and confidence which enables them to do well when they take this test for the final time in the spring of 11th grade. See my separate article on this topic.

Mistake #8 – Not specifically preparing to take the “Science Reasoning” section of the ACT. Homeschooled students score lower on this section of the ACT than on any other section. This is a section of the ACT that can be quite intimidating but can be mastered with preparation. It’s especially important if you are planning on a science major in college. See my separate article on this topic.

Mistake #9 – Not training students to meet deadlines.

As homeschoolers in general, this is a critical weakness and I think it’s even more important that we address this in the sciences. Beginning in the middle school grades, give your students firm deadlines that need to be met for assignments, tests, papers, etc. and stick to them. Besides being good training for academics, it’s just good life training too.

Mistake #10 – Not training students to write good lab reports.

As a college professor, I saw the pain of students who came in as science majors without good lab report writing skills and experience. Students get better at this with experience – there’s no substitute for that. Lab reports are simply the written summary of the scientific method. It takes lots of practice to develop the skill needed to do well on these.

Mistake #11 – Not creating a lab manual for every science class.

A lab manual is a collection of observations, data collection, and lab reports from a class. This gives students one place to neatly keep all of this information and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It’s impressive to have them lined-up on a shelf from all of their science classes. It’s also required by some states or umbrella groups for homeschoolers and some colleges want to see lab manuals as evidence of labs being completed.

Mistake #12 – Not encouraging exploration.

Encourage and give your students opportunities to be curious about God’s creation around them. Then, encourage them to experiment to answer questions about anything. This doesn’t have to be ground-breaking research but just simple things. Then, encourage them to write things down in a notebook. That may be the beginnings of a budding scientist at work.

Mistake #13 – Being squeamish on Creation.

Despite what you may hear in the media and elsewhere, God wrote the book on science. We need to boldly teach our students about God’s creation. Science and the world around us support biblical creation.

Mistake #14 – Not using graphing extensively.

Graphing, when done regularly through the middle and high school grades has a unique ability to develop critical thinking skills in students that not only benefit them in math, science, and academics in general, but also in life! We encourage families to have students construct one graph daily as part of their homeschooling day. They can graph anything. Let them run with it and you will be surprised at how creative they are. The resulting skills can be very, very beneficial.

Press on! :)

 

 

Our Old Suburban

© Greg Landry 2019. For permission to reprint in blogs, newsletters, web sites, email messages, etc. please contact Greg Landry.

It served us well for many years, but it's over. Our 2001 Suburban (now with over 351,000 miles) took us through many homeschooling years; hauling around my wife and I and our girls, their friends, swim teams, sports equipment, camp kids, and Biology specimens beyond what you can imagine. :)

We've been empty-nesters for a few years now and on several occasions have thought about selling it and perhaps buying a smaller vehicle. But, we decided to keep it until it died. It died last week.

I drive a 19 year-old Ford pick-up truck with over 200,000 miles. It's one of those great old trucks that just keeps on going. But, perhaps what I like best about it is that I don't have to worry about scratching it. Another scratch won't change the way it looks - I like that. A friend of mine has a fancy pick-up truck and rarely puts anything in the bed of the truck because he doesn't want to scratch it. That's not a real pick-up truck, is it? :)

All of this to say that we have a proclivity for older vehicles. Purchasing a 7 to 10 year old vehicle seems to be the sweet spot where you can still find one in good condition at a good price point. The key seems to be finding one that's been well cared for. So, the hunt is on.

The old Suburban certainly has many of our fond family and homeschooling memories attached to it. As my wife and I cleared our belongings from it, preparing to depart with it, we reminisced about all this car had been a part of over many years. I think homeschooling helps to build so many great family memories. We are grateful for this old car, for family, for homeschooling, and for a God who loves us and cares about all the details of our lives - scratches and all.

 

 

Top 10 Homeschooling Mistakes

© Greg Landry 2019. For permission to reprint in blogs, newsletters, web sites, email messages, etc. please contact Greg Landry.

Through 15 years of working with thousands of homeschooling families, teaching 4th-12th grade homeschooled students, and teaching university pre-med students who were homeschooled, I have unique insight into what we're doing right and what we need to work on as homeschoolers.

This article is particularly geared toward college-bound students but much of it would apply to all students.  Since science is my area of expertise, the article is also slanted toward students interested in science.

The Big 10:

1. Not doing enough testing and not doing timed tests.

2. Schooling year round or schooling too far into the summer. Students need to know that they can work hard for a prescribed period of time and then have a complete break from classes for a while. I believe it's actually counterproductive to school year round or with very little break.

3. Being squeamish on the science of Creation. Science is on our side - God created it. We need to boldly teach our students all the ways that science and the world around us support biblical creation.

4. Not starting to prepare for college early by beginning to take the ACT in 8th grade, along with other preparations. In these first years the student is taking it for practice not for the score. Pay special attention to the section called "science reasoning" which is particularly troublesome for homeschooled students (that's another article).

5. Not starting serious high school sciences early enough.. especially if a student may be a college science major. Critical decisions should be made going into 8th grade.

6. For younger students, call the sciences what they are (chemistry, physics, biology, anatomy & physiology) rather than "physical science" and "general science" and teach them that way. This makes high school science more familiar and far less intimidating.

7. Not giving students a structured academic environment early. Beginning in 6th or 7th grade, provide a structured academic environment for students that includes deadlines that have to be met. Inability to meet deadlines is a critical deficiency in most homeschooled students.

8. Not looking for colleges early - most families end up doing this in a last minute frantic rush - not good for many reasons.

9. Not allowing students to take some of their classes as "outside" classes in the middle and high school years. Students need to begin the process of taking classes from others / being accountable to other teachers as they prepare for college. Homeschooled students need experience in meeting real deadlines.

10. Losing our focus - all we do should glorify God. Press on! :)

Note: I'll be doing a more detailed webinar on this topic.

    Copyright 2019 by Greg Landry