July 2012

Get your diploma from North Atlantic Regional High School

If you are a homeschooling parent that desires official transcripts, a high school diploma and a graduation ceremony, then look no further than North Atlantic Regional High School. North Atlantic Regional High School (NARS) physically exists in the state of Maine, however, it serves homeschoolers all across America. Several of my friends have used them and having nothing but praise for how they run their school.

Homeschooling parents still retain all of the power when it comes to choosing a curriculum and how to teach it. So long as you keep accurate records of the time spent working on each subject, and any grades given for assignments, quizzes and tests, the school will assign you a grade on a official transcript. Currently this is only available for high school students.

Got a dead Kindle? Call Amazon Support!

You might be surprised at their replacement offer

As someone who spent years working in and managing technical support and customer service departments, I am loathe to call them myself. But in this case, I actually did take the step to phone in, and I am so glad that I did. It turns out that Amazon's email customer support for Kindle is useless, but their phone support can basically work miracles.

Last night, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my Kindle's light blink green. In hindsight, this was its last farewell. Instead of the sponsored messages, its screen now shows the stock image of a person reading under a tree. When I plug it in to charge, the amber light comes on for about five seconds, then it turns off - but my sweet Kindle still refuses to wake.
If this happens to your Kindle, the first thing you should do is try to reset it. Slide the power switch and hold it there for 20-30 seconds. When you release it, hopefully your Kindle will reset, and you will be fine.
If your Kindle is still unresponsive after doing this… then you may as well play "Taps."

Gaiman's Scientology past: Should it matter?

Someone recently turned up some footage of Neil Gaiman at the tender age of seven, talking about Scientology. This Metafilter thread was many people's introduction to this odd bit of Gaiman-ania which I learned about and had to process several years ago. Gaiman's father was a prominent figure in the British Scientology movement, although Gaiman himself evidently broke from the church sometime in his early teens.

This knowledge is upsetting to many people, who don't like to see their idols associated with something they find as distasteful as Scientology. This experience, of discovering that your literary idols are real people who sometimes do unpleasant things and hold unpleasant beliefs (as real people are wont to do) is always difficult. I often think that in many ways, the less I know about my favorite authors, the better. V. S. Naipaul's horrible racism and misogyny springs to mind, as does Ezra Pound's vitriolic anti-Semitism and fondness for the Nazi party.

eBooks became "dominant form of adult fiction in 2011"

eBook lovers have rejoiced, and eBook haters have wailed, to read the news that in 2011, sales of eBooks outstripped those of print books in the category of adult fiction. The news should come as no surprise, given that eBook sales have been steadily growing year over year for the last several years. But many people were taken aback to learn that the takeover happened so quickly.

Better still is the news that "publishers' net revenue from sales of eBooks more than doubled last year." Given the difficult state of the publishing industry, with revenues that have been in steady decline for the past few decades, this is surely a bright spot of good news for all involved. Whether you are an eBook fan or an eBook hater, if you are a reader, you want the publishing industry to make more money! When the publishing industry does well, we all win.

From abandoned Walmart to bustling library

This story makes me happy on so many levels. Faced with an abandoned Walmart store, the town of McAllen, Texas built an award-winning library that has become a community hub, constantly abuzz with activity. For some reason, it seems particularly satisfying that an empty Walmart - the contemporary American temple to all things cheap and materialistic - should be converted to a popular library.

It all started when the town's Walmart store moved to a larger location down the road, leaving their previous location empty. This is one of the many ways in which Walmart has become a blight on our landscape: due to a confluence of several economic factors, when a Walmart decides to expand, instead of adding more space onto their existing buildings, they typically just build a new, larger facility just a mile or two away, leaving the old husk to weather and peel and look sad and empty and desolate. It has happened in my town, and I bet it has happened in your town, too. These empty buildings, whose square footage is often best expressed in acres, are difficult spaces to fill.

Organize a homeschool swap and sale

We have a large amount of homeschooling families in our community. It is easy to find someone who has experience with curriculum materials, extracurricular studies and even daily planning guides. Sometimes, however, a new family will begin the homeschooling journey without knowing who to contact. It can be helpful to organize a yearly homeschool swap and sale.

Choose a location for your homeschool swap and sale that is easily accessible to all homeschoolers. A park will work great. All you need are a few picnic tables and several sheets or blankets. Assign each family a table or sheet to display their unwanted homeschool items on. 

Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery: A Journey of Original Seeking

A book by David H. Albert

Unlike the wary, foreboding feelings that Miller’s For Your Own Good has inspired in me, David H. Albert’s Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery: A Journey of Original Seeking has been providing me with both delight and insight into the life my family and I have chosen. I think that both books are likely going to yield information that all caregivers could find to be very helpful—indeed, that both are probably must-reads!—but I’ve been reading Albert’s much more easily and would love to recommend it and talk about it with other parents, particularly those who are or who are interested in homeschooling.

One of the major drawbacks to homeschooling, you see—in fact, it’s the only drawback we regularly have—is the fact that the parents are “on” 24/7. Normally you don’t mind once you are used to it (and if you have been parenting your kids from birth at your side, you’re already used to it), but once in a while you do feel like you could use a little break, whether it’s a couple of hours with a babysitter or an overnight at grandma’s house, and that’s okay! It’s fun for your child, too, as long as the caregivers are safe and warm people.

Need a book? Ask your local store to order it!!!

Book lovers and book stores are a dying breed these days. If you want to support diversity in your community, and spread more money around your local neighborhood, the best thing you can do is buy your books from a local indie book store. But what if your book store doesn't have the book you want? It's a common problem - small book stores simply cannot afford to keep every copy of every book ever made on hand.

Luckily, book stores have the ability to order books for you. And most local book stores will be thrilled at the opportunity to help you (and their own sales) this way. Even if you only order one book a year through your local book store, that is one more sale than they would have had otherwise.

Homeschooling doesn't have to be overwhelming

I called a friend who also homeschools her children to see if she wanted my daughter's seventh grade books. Her son was going to start seventh grade in the fall. She asked me to read her the titles first. Turns out, that she had become overwhelmed by all of the homeschooling materials that were donated to her. She felt that she needed to implement them all, but couldn't. This led to feelings of guilt.

Homeschooling doesn't have to be overwhelming. If you take the time to decide which curriculum sets you want to follow, you won't have to accept materials that you won't be able to use. For example, I found out early on that I really loved Bob Jones University's history books. When the chance came to purchase used Bob Jones history books that would take my daughter through 12th grade, I grabbed it. Other opportunities for different history books may pop up, but I can confidently pass on them.