New Story Coming Soon – Jumping the Hurdles – Jessi Learns Math

Horse by Eli-01_2 (1)

We are working on the final editing and artwork for our new release coming this summer!  Along with the story (Rounding the Bases – Chris Learns to Read) that is already in print, we are adding two new stories in this new e-book: Stories from Unlocking Learning Potential.  In Jumping the Hurdles – Jessi Learns Math, Jessica Marie Torres, a high school sophomore, recounts her life which centers on her love for horses and struggles with math through a homeschool assignment to write her story.


Personal Reflections – 2017 # 20 – What have our graduates done beyond high school?

Many of our graduates have gone to college or have gone into a trade. We will feature Jered today. While in high school we attended his Eagle Scout celebration. During high school he wrote a novel (Learn to Write the Novel Way) for class: Guns at Aparri. At one point, he stated that he had received an “atta boy” for his writing skills in a report for work.

After high school, he earned a degree in criminal justice and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.  Since then he has worked for the Department of Homeland Security.  Thank you, Jered for your service to our country.

Personal Reflections 2017 – # 19 – How did the online part of Family Academy Online and Unlocking Learning Potential begin?

Online Student

Prior to 2004, the Jiles family lived in Olympia, Washington. They drove to Lakewood, Washington to attend Academy Northwest classes at our learning center. Then the dad’s work took them to Georgia. There they met the Robinson family.  I worked with the Jiles family and Tim Robinson. Later the Jiles moved to Spokane and the Robinson family moved to Texas. I continued to work with them via long distance and these students graduated.  Also around that time, Ariel from New Jersey worked with me and graduated early from ANW.  She has gone on for graduate work. I never met Tim and Ariel in person. Our use of the internet and the phone was problematic, but we were able to get the job done. Further, my learning center students in Lakewood posted assignments and responded in a closed Yahoo group.

Much has happened since that time. For one thing, we access virtually (no pun intended) all of our students online. Thankfully, our access to the internet is exceptional by comparison.  Video conferencing provides a great video and audio experience with minimal problems most of the time.  We can access many of these services for free or at least a minimal charge.  Some do cost more. For that reason, our students can access one or more of the following as appropriate:, Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant,, Structure of Intellect assessments, and G-Suite for Education.  I would rate simultaneous correction of writing assignments on Google Drive as my newest favorite tool.

Personal Reflections – 2017 # 15 – What about learning World Languages?

Today, homeschoolers have many opportunities to learn a world language.  First, a number of excellent curricula exist and online help abounds. While that may not have been true when homeschooling began, it certainly is true now.  Many combine a great curriculum with conversational in person or online. Second, many homeschool co-ops and private extension schools such as provide site-based world language classes. After living in Spain for 17 years, teaching Spanish at Heritage Christian School for two years and then offering site-based classes to homeschoolers it only made sense to expand that to our online services. Http:// Photos represent early Spanish classes. Website shows how we offer Spanish classes today. Thirdly, a homeschool high school can study their world language at a community college.

Personal Reflections 2017 – 8 – What about graduation?


Yes, homeschoolers graduate.  In Washington, many do it with the Washington Homeschool Organization or their coops or churches. Family Academy has been in existence since 1981 and for those early years our graduates graduated with WHO.  In 1996 our group had grown enough to have our own graduation ceremony. Master Enterprises Learning Center began in 1994. By 1998 we had graduates so we participated in the Family Academy graduation ceremony. As our affiliate school, Academy Northwest, developed we went through the grueling accreditation process and continue to work to maintain that accreditation.  This allows our graduates to enter college with an accredited transcript and diploma with private school status.  We haven’t lost the “Family” part because the parents remain the primary teachers of their children. Our Teacher Consultants come alongside the parents to help them and we teach some classes to the students in part to fulfill the contact time required by the homeschool law of our home state, Washington    In recent years we have added online / distance learning through Family Academy Online which allows us to work with students from all over following any applicable laws from their states.

Does Your Child Struggle with Learning? You Can Homeschool Your Child!

Over the years I have talked with many families who face learning challenges. They frequently have their child in school because they feel they lack the expertise to meet their educational needs. While working with someone with experience in this area may be helpful at times, do not forget that you are the expert regarding your child. Who knows this child better? You do, of course!


  1. Do I need a label? Occasionally, having a label provides direction or funding, but it often limits expectations. For an accurate medical diagnosis, as in a genetic disorder, a label leads to a treatment. If on the other hand, the professional assigned the label because of a list of symptoms / behaviors rather than a blood or other lab test, beware of limiting expectations or using a medical treatment (as in drugs). However, even with a nonmedical diagnosis, there may be a metabolic / health component. How an individual’s digestive system works can affect learning. One problem faced by many who struggle is the “leaky gut syndrome.” Until you resolve an issue like this, the struggles will remain. Read To Label or Not to Label: Pros and Cons for Seeking Educational Diagnoses.
  2. 2.     After determining if we want to pursue a diagnosis / label, what is the next step? Besides knowing where your child is academically you need to make an inventory of tasks that challenge your child. Finding the underlying cause for these challenges is the key to resolving the issue. For example, if an individual has difficulty using phonics in the process of learning to read, he probably has low auditory processing. When this is true, a simple activity done for 3 minutes, 2 times a day, overtime will develop this skill. Free Auditory Processing Test Kit
  3. How do I choose the right curriculum? If you have ever gone to a homeschool convention, such as that of WHO, you know that an abundance of curriculum exists. Further, if you have searched online for homeschool curriculum, you know this to be true. Choosing the right curriculum for your family is a personal choice, but you should consider the following:
  • What does my child need to learn?
  • How does my child learn?
  • How do I teach?
  • Can I adapt the same curriculum for all my children?
  • Does this curriculum conform to our family’s beliefs and life style?

4.     How should I structure our day? This, too, is a personal family choice; however, many children who struggle with learning thrive on structure. In most cases achievement is highest when you balance structure and non-structure. (Able to Teach by Childs and McAlister – Text for Parent Training Course)

Parents are definitely Able to Teach their children and there are many resources available to guide you in a successful family journey.


Maggie Dail, M.A. has been working with homeschoolers since 1994 through Academy Northwest / Family Academy ( She instructs Family Academy’s online parent training course. She began working International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists in 2003, becoming certified in 2007. (ICAN – Now in 2013 she is beginning to work with homeschooling families through Family Academy Online. Maggie and her husband, Ronnie operate Center for Neuro Development. (

Home Schooling in High School: Planning A Course

You have done your overall planning for the four years and you know which classes your student needs for this year. Now what? There are a number of alternatives for teaching the different subjects.

1.         Many purchase textbooks for each class and have the student work through the texts, answering the questions and taking the tests. This can be an easy way with at least some assurance that you are covering all the bases. For a student who works well independently, this could work. It would give that student a starting and finishing point. Skills developed using this method may include reading comprehension, some writing skills and some time management skills. On the other hand, for a student who struggles with reading and writing, or needs more interaction with others, it may not be the best way. Also, it may be boring for some students. While those unfamiliar with the subject matter, using a textbook can help, but remember that no textbook perfectly covers every aspect of the topic that you may consider important for your child to learn.

2.         Others choose to delegate one or more of the courses to specialists in those fields. This can be in the form of a local class (home school co-op, community college classes, enrollment in a private school that works with home schoolers) or online.

3.         Perhaps you grew to enjoy unit studies in the earlier grades or your student gets bored with the textbook / class choice. You can integrate different subjects into a unit study or just apply the unit study approach to individual classes. At the high school level, you can actually get much more input from your children and allow them to do much more of the planning.    Here are some possible steps:

  • Find a scope and sequence online for the subject or a grade level textbook (borrow or find at Goodwill or library sale). Using a scope and sequence or table of contents in a book provides an outline or list of concepts usually covered for that subject. You have the option of excluding or including different parts, but this provides a guide.
  • Brainstorm – make a Mind Map of all the ideas that come to mind. To make a mind map, begin by writing the large topic in the center of a blank sheet of paper. Branch out adding more to this web of ideas and groups of ideas.  Write anything that comes to mind. Later you can rewrite using only the ideas that you want to use.
  • Brainstorm or make additional entries for each of the ideas on your mind map.
  • Enter the activities and resources on the course plan in your planner where they can be checked off as completed.

4.         With a little more planning, you can combine subjects like History and English. As you brainstorm you would use the scope and sequences for both of these subjects. By doing this, you can include a number of types of assignments that develop a wide variety of skills including research, hands-on-projects as well as reading and writing. I am not suggesting you double count work done in an integrated class. This can allow for more in-depth coverage of an area.

If the unit study approach sounds interesting, but hard to implement, try it first with one class. As you become more experienced, you can expand to other courses. You may also benefit from working with a home school consultant in this area. As a homeschooling parent, you are in the driver’s seat of your child’s education, and you have many choices.

Homeschooling in High School: How to Get the Most Out of a Good Planner

So, you plan to home school a high school student. Many parents have home schooled successfully through the lower grades but start to get nervous as high school approaches. While there are additional considerations, you can continue to home school successfully throughout high school. Unlike previous generations, we have a multitude of resources at our disposal. In this article, I will confine my comments to the elements and use of a good planner.
Parents and students that home school will find general and home school planners in abundant supply. Your first task is to find the right planner for your family. Consider these elements:

  •  Instructions on the use of the planner especially regarding high school including graduation requirements.
  •  Brief plan for 4 years of high school.
  •  Place for goals, objectives – long term (whole year); short-term (semester / quarter); weekly and daily.
  •  Record of hours spent on specific courses ( Generally 1 credit = 180 days x 50 minute sessions = 150 clock hours.)
  •  Forms to plan individual subjects / classes – i.e. required assignments, materials, grading criteria.
  • Place to record what has been accomplished.
  • Format that is easy to follow.
  •  Physical or digital – your preference.

Now that you have researched the possibilities and you have the chosen planner, you need to use it. For some, using a planner is difficult and for others it easily becomes your constant companion. Whether you are working with an organization which will validate the work done or if you will produce your own home school transcript, keeping records is essential. At the beginning, you and your child will need to work together on completing the necessary record of the work accomplished. Gradually, you will turn over the responsibility to your child and you will be more of a coach who looks it over from time to time.

  •  At first, plan with your child and meet at least daily around the planner.
  • Gradually, your child will take the responsibility and you will be the coach, meeting less and less frequently.
  • If at any time during this gradual transition, your child fails to follow through, do not be afraid to step back a little and stay on that step for longer before trying to take the next step. The amount of supervision and the length of time it takes for independence to be established vary from individual to individual.
  •  For those who have trouble, begin with a small portion of the planner and gradually add more tasks.
  •  Using pencil rather than ink allows for plans to change – which is so common in life.
  •  Making general plans, talking about more specifics and recording the information should occur before the beginning of a class (often in the fall, but could be anytime you begin a new course of study).
  •  As time goes on fill in with more specific information.
  • Have the planner handy during study time so that changes can be made or actual work can be documented.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Candice Childs and Diana McAlister of Academy Northwest / Family Academy have produced the following resources:

Homeschooling the High Schooler (a complete how to guide)

High School Your Way (a planner for high school students)

Teaching My Own (a planner for elementary students)

Academy Northwest  – an accredited school that champions “family-directed education.”

Family Academy offers – Able to Teach to parents who home school or want to home school