We’re excited to have discovered this incredible resort-like back yard to rent for our big family birthday bash this year, at the home of builder/realtor Michael and Dottie Sosnicki near the White Tank mountains.  Our party is from 4-9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 21.  Here is their flyer, if anyone else is looking for a unique and private option for swim/play corporate, organization and private events:

Education|Mon, Dec. 28 2009 11:51 PM EDT

Home-Schooled Children Excel as Adults

By Aaron J. Leichman|Christian Post Reporter

Despite what many might believe, a vast majority of home-schooled children say they have plenty of opportunities for socialization with other children and, as adults, come to excel in all measured areas of adult life, according to a new study.

The study, released this month by the Canadian Centre for Home Education (CCHE), surveyed young adults in Canada whose parents responded to a 1994 study on home education. Ranging in age from 15 to 34, the study’s participants answered questions on a variety of topics with comparable data from Statistics Canada.

The results, according to CCHE, were “astounding.”

“In terms of income, education, entrepreneurial endeavors, involvement in their community, and all the other characteristics measured, home-educated adults not only excel, but also make meaningful contributions to their communities,” commented CCHE president Paul Faris. “They are the type of neighbors we all want.”

When measured against the Canadian average, home-educated adults were more socially engaged and almost twice as likely to have voted in a federal election.

Average income, meanwhile, was higher with more sources of investment income and self employment, and no cases of government support as the primary source of income.

Home-educated adults were also happier in their work and their lives in general, with 97.2 percent saying they were fairly or very happy with their lives, compared to 95.4 percent of all Canadians surveyed in the General Social Survey of Canada of 2003.

“Overall, homeschooling graduates appear to be very content with the education they received, as well as being happier and more satisfied with their work and life than similarly aged Canadians, and, indeed, young citizens of other countries,” researchers noted in their report, titled “Fifteen Years Later: Home-Educated Canadian Adults.”

When reflecting on the value of being home educated, most study participants felt that it was an advantage in their adult life.

Home-educated adults reported that they felt the “best part about being home educated” included the rich relational aspects, the opportunity for extensive curricular enrichment, the flexibility especially in terms of the schedule, the individualized pace and programs, the development of their own independence and confidence, and the superior education received.

As for what they felt “was the worst part about being home educated,” more than one-third of the respondents who provided an answer mentioned an aspect of the social challenges of being home educated.

These comments ranged from simple reflections such as “I feel I could have had more social interaction” to more angst filled ones such as “[I was] so different from others my age and [felt] somewhat awkward.”

Most, however, (70 percent) disagreed with the common criticism of home education that children have too few opportunities for socialization with other children and went as far as to claim that they had plenty of opportunities for socializing with other children.

Only 10.7 percent claimed that the criticism was most certainly the case in their situation.

“It was true and when given chances to interact I was generally too shy because I didn’t know how to act,” one respondent had replied.

“Most of my friends lived in other areas of town and I wasn’t very close with anyone in my neighborhood,” added another.

In their concluding remarks, researchers behind the study said their findings are consistent with those found in a 2004 study of 5,254 Americans (home educated for seven or more years of their K-12 education) in terms of the demographic characteristics of the adults such as education achieved and civic engagement.

Citing the study, researchers noted: “The home-educated adults in this study were very positive about having been homeschooled and toward homeschooling in general, actively engaged in their local communities, keeping abreast of current affairs, highly civically involved, tolerant of others expressing their viewpoints, attaining relatively high levels of formal education, religiously active and wide-ranging in their worldview beliefs, holding worldview beliefs similar to those of their parents, and largely home educating their own children.

“The eradication of social prejudice against those currently being home educated and against those formerly home educated could be achieved through concerted efforts to inform of the achievements of home education, through creating an awareness that stigmatizing those educated differently is a form of intolerance, and through creating awareness of the multiple alternative community-specific educational opportunities that are offered in our times, specifically that non classroom-based education is merely one of those forms,” they added.

The study’s authors noted that future research should probe more deeply into addressing the various questions.

More in-depth conversations with individuals and focus groups should take place to further probe for the strengths and weaknesses of home education, they noted.

And the adults in their study should continue to be tracked and, once they are settled into their middle years, again compared with their peers.

“If home education seems to achieve the positive results that are reported here in general, more comparative study of the outcomes of the various versions of home education such as non classroom-based charter schools, cyber schools, partial day school attendance, and funded approaches should be undertaken with a view to preparing proposals for further improving other forms of education,” they concluded.

Data for “Fifteen Years Later: Home-Educated Canadian Adults” was gathered from the 226 home-educated children who responded out of the 285 that the researchers were able to reach from the 620 families who in 1994 had expressed interest in being approached for future participation in further longitudinal study.

For the original 1994 study, 2,594 children from 808 families had participated.

I am amazed that there are still people who haven’t seen this fun Tim Hawkins Homeschool Family video!  That is not acceptable.  =O)

Big Brother N, Hubby and I got to see Tim Hawkins perform live in Surprise, Arizona a few months back.  He is so talented and funny!  His stand-ups are great.  We especially love his silly music; he’s like a Christian Weird Al Yankovich.

This article is so inspiring!  Way to set the homeschooling bar high, and think out of the box!  I just found this gem of an article from a couple of years ago.  I’ll work on getting an update about this young lady.  Stay tuned!

….  See the bottom of this post for a brief update.

– SR

From home school to top schools


Chelsea Link feared she might not get into any top schools. She got into seven.

Harvard. Yale. Princeton. NU. Stanford. In a tough year, she got into them all.

By Bonnie Miller Rubin, Chicago Tribune
April 18, 2008

In what has been called the most competitive year ever for college admissions, Chelsea Link defied the odds to get accepted into Yale. Then Harvard.

Then came the fat envelopes from Princeton, Columbia, University of Chicago, Stanford and Northwestern University.

Making that feat still more extraordinary, Link has been home-schooled since age 5.

“I was a little nervous,” the Evanston 18-year-old said. “I was worried that I might not get into even one school.”

This isn’t false modesty on Link’s part, but an acknowledgment that many stereotypes about home schooling – think barn raisings and “Little House on the Prairie” wardrobes – are still entrenched.

True, she had nailed perfect scores on the SAT and ACT, is the reigning world Irish harp champion, aced all her AP exams and enjoys nothing more than kicking back with the latest copy of “Scientific American.”

But being both first and last in your senior class poses a challenge for colleges accustomed to comparing credentials from conventional high schools.

“There’s a built-in conflict of interest when the person evaluating your performance is Mom or Dad,” said Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Still, many admissions officials say they are becoming more at ease with applicants who took alternative paths, if for no other reason than it’s a booming market. Almost 2 million American students are educated at home, and more than 80 percent of colleges have formal policies for assessing these applicants – up from 52 percent in 2000.

While the pool has expanded, so has home-schoolers’ savvy about how to package themselves, said Christopher Watson, dean of undergraduate admissions at NU, where the number of such applicants has doubled since 2002.

“We haven’t changed the way we review applications, but the way home-schoolers are submitting applications has changed,” he said. “They’ve become very good at taking out the question marks.”

Now, the only uncertainty for Link, who hopes to study neuroscience, is where she will attend. She has until May to decide, although the crimson sweatshirt she wore may have provided a clue. Harvard offered slots in the class of 2012 to only about 7 percent of 27,000-plus applicants, an all-time high.

To make that coup even more impressive, Link received the good news via phone in late February, even though the official letter did not arrive for another month. Only 10 non-athletes nationwide received one of these “heads-up” calls.

One way non-traditional students have won over skeptics is by relying more on outside sources to document scholastic rigor. Link’s transcript includes courses ranging from tiny Shimer College on the South Side to the Sorbonne in Paris, along with plenty of accredited online instruction, from groups such as the Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth. To further bolster credibility, a stack of glowing recommendations from tutors and mentors, not relatives, is part of the mix.

Despite all this excellence, Link’s mother shared her daughter’s angst.

“I’d wake up in the middle of the night and wonder: ‘Whatever made me think that [home schooling] would be looked upon favorably?’” said Cindi Link, who prepared detailed course descriptions for the applications.

When the green light came from Harvard, all the doubt melted away. Cindi Link was jubilant, but she had to stifle her excitement because her husband, Ross, was on a business call. “I got down on the ground and started beating the floor, trying not to scream.”

The Links – who own their own marketing-analysis business – have been assuming responsibility for their only child’s studies since kindergarten.

“I begged them,” said Chelsea, who started reading at age 2 and remembers being so bored that she made spelling books for her fellow kindergartners. “They dug it, but the teachers didn’t,” she recalled dryly.

With no idea it would turn into a long-term commitment, Cindi Link started scouring the Internet and bookstores for curriculum, and started a group called Home Schooling Gifted Students, which now has about 100 families in the metropolitan area who meet regularly to share instruction, experiences and resources.

Cindi Link augmented her daughter’s lesson plans with enrichment classes and lots of travel (they learned about Buddhism in Tibet, philosophy in Greece and Taoism with an abbot atop China’s holiest mountain). Less exotic but equally important was immersion in Chicago’s rich arts scene.

“One of the saddest parts of leaving home will be losing my subscription to the Lyric [Opera of Chicago],” Chelsea said.

Therein may lie a key to her success – one that Nassirian, of the registrars association, pronounced as “an almost unheard of accomplishment,” regardless of where and when she was educated.

While other students talk cynically about the admissions “game” and “resume-building,” Link seems propelled by a genuine intellectual curiosity that can’t be faked.

(Parents who can’t pry their kids away from the PlayStation should stop reading here.)

How else to explain her love of literature and theater? For the last three years, she has taught Shakespeare classes to 40 youngsters (the furniture inthe living room was still pushed to the side from a recent production of “AsYou Like It”) and counts as one of her favorite memories holding a party forthe Bard’s 442nd birthday.

Or her passion for the harp, which she has studied in Ireland most summers since she was 10?

Or her fondness for French?

“She is the best student I have ever had, and I have been teaching for 40 years,” said Michele Hall, a native of Provence and Chelsea’s French tutor for the past decade. “She is brilliant, but without any of the social awkwardness or emotional problems that usually go along with it.”

Link revels in the non-geek description, seizing the opportunity to debunk another common misconception of home-schoolers.

As proof, she ticks off some of her favorites: “CSI,” chocolate, music (especially Radiohead and the Shins) and a boyfriend.

And, she did taste rejection:

“I was rejected at Juilliard,” she revealed, almost gleefully. “I had a really lousy audition.”

The past 12 years have provided a stimulating and creative ride, but now, she’s ready to move on.

“I think I’ve had a pretty normal high school experience … just without the high school.”

Here is a recent bit of updated info I found:

CHELSEA LINK, Harvard sophomore studying Human Evolutionary Bio.

Major: Human Evolutionary Biology  College: Harvard CollegeYear of Graduation: 2012  

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I have loved Shakespeare ever since my mother first started taking me to see plays at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre when I was in elementary school. I’ve read all of his sonnets and nearly all of his plays, and I’ve seen multiple performances of most of them. I taught Shakespeare classes for three years in high school, and directed three full-length plays (The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and three scene recitals (two of which were performed in my backyard, using foliage as scenery). I look forward to sharing the Bard’s work with more eager teenagers! 

Saturday, 1/23/10

Yesterday, Daughter M’s horse lesson got cancelled because of the rain and mud, so we had a nice lazy morning at home instead of the rushing around that had been planned. (I try to cram all my outings in one day if I can, so I can relax the other days.) We did take Twin Brother W to the doctor to check on his swollen lymph node in his neck (doc said nothing to worry about). Then we raced over to meet our homeschool friends for a fun field trip to Ape Index indoor rock climbing gym.

(My son N is on the left)

This place was awesome!  Big Brother N had a great time, and improved his climbing skills.  Twins M and W had a blast on the giant curly slide nearby that shot them out like cannonballs at the bottom.  Toddler S enjoyed watching them, but was pretty annoyed that I wouldn’t let him run around.  I highly recommend this place! 

My Bible readings for Friday were Prov. 22, Psalm 89, Revelation 16 and Song of Songs 3.

We raced back home from the climbing gym just in time to kid-sit my neighbor friend’s three kids.  There were cute kids everywhere, and they all loved playing together.  After a busy week and long day, I fell exhausted into bed early, without cleaning the kitchen or working on the blog.  But oh, the sleep!  It was glorious.

Today the kids were excited to play a couple of hours of Wii after their chores and a nice pancake breakfast. I was excited to work a bit more on the Homeschool News Network site.

I was also excited to practice the songs K and I will sing tomorrow morning in worship at Family of Faith. It’s the second service of the new church, and my first time helping lead worship in such a small vocal group (just the two of us right now, a capella!). I’m praying my voice holds out; it feels strained after our fun practice this evening.

I had to grab my sling this morning and dance around the living room wearing Toddler S…  Who could blame me after watching this fabulous video made by a creative homeschooler, Leigh in New York?

(Note: The video starts quietly, but quickly gets louder.)

S and I have been humming the catchy tune all morning.  =O)

News Release:

The official 4th annual Not Back to School Days at Disneyland is set for Sept. 8-11, 2010 in Anaheim, California!

We would love to see you all this year – be sure to check out our new dedicated site for the event:

Lots of new Disney-led classes, tours, and new NBTSD activities have been added to help you really get the academic opportunities at the Disneyland Resort. And as always, our group park tickets are between 40-50% off the gate prices and come with educational classes taught right in the theme parks!

The most important things you can do to help:
SPREAD THE WORD – tell everyone you know about the trip, they can’t make a decision if they don’t have the information.
REGISTER QUICKLY – we expect that this year, even after adding new sessions, that the classes will fill up faster than before. Once a class is full, we cannot add you. Don’t miss out!

This is a full conference, with added academic guidance, so registration is required to take any classes or tours.

Thanks and hope to see you!

Dianne McLean