Category Archives: Homeschoooling

CHEFA, A Local Homeschool Look!

Today I’m going to be talking about CHEFA, or Christian Home Educators of the Fresno Area. This was filmed in the last Academic Year, so prices have changed. If you like this kind of localized video talking about different groups in different areas? Do me a favor and leave me a comment so I know to seek out more of this information.

So I’m in Fresno, and full disclosure, I’m an active part of this group and I’m on the Board. When I was first starting to homeschool it was kind of hard to find out what all the interesting activities and things were in my area for homeschoolers, so that’s why I am talking today about CHEFA.

CHEFA is a Christian support group for private homeschoolers in the State of California who are in the Fresno area. What does that mean? It means we do not educate your children. We are not a school and we are not a co-op. What that means, co-ops tend to have one day a week where everyone gets together and everyone takes turns teaching. Someone’s running this group and we’re going to educate your kids either in core subjects or not core subjects but it’s usually planned out for the year. School obviously, we’re educating your children.

But CHEFA is a support group. We cover families so you buy a family membership and list which of your children are being homeschooled. Only the parents and children who are being independently homeschooled in California are going to be covered. Specifically, any children in the family that is in charter or traditional public grade school will not be included in the membership. Family membership for new members is $55 a year. Once you are a member you will have opportunities to renew at a discounted price for future years.

Now different support groups have different levels of activities and different areas that they cover. For us, we do a variety of things but we are a volunteer-led group. We may have classes, we may not have classes. We tend to do a Sports Saturday program that is similar to intermural sports, meaning it is casual, and whoever can make it joins. It looks a little different every year depending on who’s running it That is one of the joys of a volunteer organization Sports Saturday is a huge reason we joined when the kids were younger. It is included for free in your membership and that is cheaper than any other single sport, much less a year’s worth. Any activity that doesn’t have a cost is usually free to members, like sports, but some activities cost to cover the expense (think supplies, rentals, etc).

All it takes to run most activities is to have 2 non-related parents want to organize it. So if you want a painting day, park day, or a field trip it can be done. That is also when you figure out how much a participant needs to pay to join that specific thing.

Another big pull for membership is when your kids get into high school and junior high. We have something called CHEFA Youth and we have different activities that are aimed at that age group. There are often game nights, contra dances, Christmas parties, and a lot more. This is actually a reason that some charter school parents make a point to pull their kids out in 7th-12th grades. It is a great social group for your students to bond with!

Another huge reason people join the senior year experience. The senior year for any homeschooler is always just a little different than if your kids went to public school. So what we have is a senior leadership team of students and they plan fundraisers and activities all year. They have a senior Bible study, fundraise for their activities (including traditional graduation), and even have senior class clothing! There is often (when covid isn’t an issue;) a senior trip and sometimes other trips that get organized. The graduation is always gorgeous and gives the students to put on a cap and gown with their friends and family. It includes speeches and musical performances, you will never miss out on the traditional experience with graduation.

CHEFA is a great group and if you are in the Fresno area looking for a way to meet people and have great experiences with your kids then you much check us out. There is a new member meeting you would have to attend but that is it! (Secret, I am currently leading most of the new member meetings;)

If you have a local-to-you group and you would like me to make a video about them, please let me know. We’ll talk about it and see if it fits in (it probably will).

3 Unexpected Ways for Your Kids to Celebrate Earth Day (and an Unboxing)

We all know the traditional ways to celebrate Earth Day. Often it is suggested to just recycle old materials in your green and blue garbage cans and pick up trash. But we can do better with our kids!

  • Recycle used materials by creating crafts and toys! You can use those crafts as décor or gifts or even toys! They can make display shelves out of shoeboxes. Pencil cups and vases out old cans and jars, decorated with pieces of cloth, ribbon, or even with magazine images!
  • Have an Earth Day movie day! Watch Planet Earth or some other nature documentary to let your kids fall in love with the beauty of this planet. They won’t help but care what we do to it once they see the images and how it all works together.
  • Volunteer to make the world better! No, I don’t mean just to pick up garbage but that and more. We are going to be volunteering with Harvest Fresno to work with Beautify Fresno. Donating your old toys and clothes also helps the world! So volunteering at a community closet also is a great win.

Products in the Video

Do It Yourself No-Cost Driver’s Training for California Homeschoolers: Homeschool Hangout

Today we are talking about how you can conduct your child’s driver’s training in the state of California if you are a private homeschooler for no cost. Yes, you heard me. You can legally conduct your own driver’s training for your child as an independent homeschooler in the state of California. How awesome is that? 

So first up, I am not a lawyer. I do not pretend to be a lawyer. I don’t even play one on television. This is purely what has worked for us and is not constituting any form of legal advice. Once again not a lawyer not giving legal advice.

We all know in public school now that they don’t really offer driver’s training and many don’t even offer driver’s education. As a homeschooler (and just a person who values money) I was very intimidated by the cost of paying for driver’s training. So when I started hearing rumblings by people who’ve been around a little longer than me saying you don’t have to pay for driver’s training. I was like what? So the real question is, how do I save $400 for 6 hours of instruction? To be clear, driver’s training is usually just about 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. I got pointed in a direction by a friend and the research began! 

This is the process that worked for me. I will be very honest, I’ve read a lot of the education codes having to do with homeschooling in California. I didn’t really find anything in the DMV write ups (vs forms) or in the education code regarding this. Basically, I haven’t found a law or law explainer. Mostly, I just found forms. But, I have done this process from the beginning all the way through to a licensed driver with my 17 year old. We are about to begin it again with my 15 year old.

You can use this process to do both driver’s education and driver’s training. We only did driver’s training. Frankly, our time was worth the $10 we spent on a Groupon for a driver’s education class. But as I said, this is a process good for both if you would like.

The big part of this experience is going to be guided by the DMV form DL396. Basically, this goes to the occupational licensing section of the DMV. So let’s take a look at that form real quick.

A Look at the DL396

  • The first thing you do is choose your type of school. If you are here, I am assuming you are a Home School or Private Satellite Program.
  • Now enter your basic information. This will match the PSA information. A CDS code is only issued to schools with more than 6 students so if you are part of a PSSP, you need to get that from your group admin. For those of us with less than 6 students, we don’t have one. Nor do we have a School ID number. Don’t worry about it, leave them blank.
  • You are the requester, not your PSSP if you are in one. This is basically where you want it and who they will follow up with if there are questions. 
  • The date of request is the date you are doing this.
  • At the bottom of section one you can put the dates you need them. If you want them ASAP you can put today’s date but if you don’t need them until the next semester, put that.
  • In Section 2 you just select what applies to you. We are not public or charter schools. So don’t check it;). Then check the next 2 boxes in Section 2. This just says that you are going to teach the actual law and responsibility to your student and keep the records. 
  • In Section 3 there are a variety of boxes and you only choose the ones that apply to you. 
  • You are not a private secondary school really. A school like Fresno Christian or Memorial would qualify as that. Don’t check those.
  • You will need to include a copy of your PSA.
  • Decide if you are doing both Driver’s Education and Driver’s Training and mark the appropriate boxes.
  • You are not teaching “non-classroom” Driver’s Education. If you hire out Driver’s Education, they will issue the completion certificate. So leave all 3 of those blank.
  • Section 4 is just your expected amount of students for the year. That’s it.
  • Section 5 is where you list anyone who will be part of the official teaching and mark parent. Because you are a parent, you don’t need to worry about a teaching credential or a background summary.
  • Then sign it.

That is it for that form! Next, we move onto DL396A. Another fancy-sounding form but it just requests supplies. You put your school name at the top and select what you need. Remember that you are a homeschool. The majority of items come in private secondary or homeschool. So just make sure you choose the homeschool option. 

You will also need to keep a copy of DL803 in your drawer. Some people say to send in a copy every year, I haven’t found anything official that actually says that. So I just keep it in my file cabinet. It tracks your issuing of the completion certificates. You don’t actually do anything with it but keep it in case there are rogue certificates out there, you can answer for where yours went.

That is basically all there is to it! You need to mail in the completed DL396, DL 396A, and a copy of your PSA. You will get your supplies in the mail and are good to teach! There are more stories and anecdotes in the video but this written article seems to be long enough to bore you. So I leave you to watch the video for all the details of how we personally handle it with our kiddos. Let me know if you have any questions!

A Look at the BJU Press Algebra 2

Looking for awesome videos on homeschooling? Check out Homeschool Hangout over on Youtube! Also, join our Facebook group for support and resources (Homeschool Hangout by NerdFamily).

Is there a great Algebra 2 Curriculum out there?

Algebra 2 isn’t a subject most people are excited about but it is a necessary evil;). I took a look at the BJU Press Algebra 2 curriculum that I am currently using with my 4th student. Let me start off by saying that we love this curriculum but it isn’t for the faint-hearted but you also don’t need to be an Algebra 2 whiz to teach it to your student!

How hard is it to teach this Algebra 2?

We are math nerds. I was a math tutor back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. But let’s be honest, I didn’t remember Algebra 2. I wasn’t even phenomenal when I took it. But have no fear. The Teacher’s Edition goes through all the concepts thoroughly and every single problem is done with all the steps. These are the most complete Teacher’s Editions I have ever seen! Seriously, includes all the steps and even logic. Have a student get stuck on a review problem? No fear, they tell you where the original concept was taught.

How we went through this curriculum was from the first problem to the last, with every problem getting done. But this isn’t how everyone needs to do it. The curriculum has different assignment options and of course, you can always just do what you want;). We have 3 students who are going to have to take multiple semesters of calculus so we wanted to make sure they have a firm foundation. It also means at least one of the kids took a year and a half to work through it.

This is an intense curriculum that really prepares your student to go on to take college-level Trig and Pre-Calculus without any problems. But you don’t have to make it as intense as we did. The curriculum is about $90 but for that, you get the textbook and 2 Teachers Editions. You can also purchase test answers (we don’t test), an e-text, and online instruction for an additional fee.

Do you have a fear of Algebra 2 or teaching it to your student? Let me know what I can do to help! Looking for a different curriculum? Leave me a comment. Looking for awesome videos on homeschooling? Check out Homeschool Hangout over on Youtube! Also, join our Facebook group for support and resources (Homeschool Hangout by NerdFamily).

How to Start Homeschooling in California

Aren’t you tired of your kids coming home with outrageous ideas? Tired of having to do everything according to the public school’s schedule? Well, you have options.

First, this is a how-to for someone who is going to do it alone in the State of California. Meaning no “homeschooling” group, you are responsible for everything. This is not legal advice but a gleaning of all the information I have. 

So you need to get a file folder and put the following information in it.

  • An attendance record that has your child’s absences only.
  • Have a resume for yourself and/or your spouse that includes any schooling or training you have. (There is not an educational requirement, you just need to have some background proof of some) You also could put in a copy of your transcripts or diploma of your highest level of education.

Then you will need to file a PSA (Private School Affidavit), which some of us still refer to by the outdated R4 name. You can go over to my walkthrough of the form if you have any questions. Everything is done and submitted on the computer. You need to print off a copy and keep your confirmation code (just in case).

So what else is expected of you? You will also have to instruct in English (unless your student is currently learning English, in which case it needs to be at least 50%). You will also have to make sure you teach at least the “accepted” subjects. You can go to the Content Standards on the Education Department’s site to get grade-level goals (though not required). You also need to keep a basic course list. Mine is basically a book list.

The subjects for 1st to 6th (there aren’t rules for kindergarten):

  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Fine Arts
  • Health
  • PE

That is it! Remember, we have all seen the current school system so it can’t be that hard! Good Luck!

Artemis Fowl: The Series

I have found one of the best books series’ for kids I think is around so I thought I’d share it with you guys. It’s called Artemis Fowl. These books are about a Maniacal Sociopath who is a major criminal. He has stolen and earned through shady deals over 2 million dollars. Did I mention he is 11 years old? One of the reasons I thought it was a good time to write about this book series is that there is a movie coming out in June! On June 12th Artemis Fowl is coming to Disney+ and I am super excited!

This book series is all about this kid who discovered that fairies are real and they have been living underneath us this whole time. Thousands of years ago there was a great war between the Mud men (us) and the fairies and instead of getting wiped out they went underground and were forgotten by history. Until Artemis Fowl decide he was going to prove they were real and rob them blind.

I love these books because they are an excellent mix of fantasy and science fiction that I love. The only thing cooler than a race of fairies that have awesome magic is a race of fairies with magic that are so technologically advanced that you can buy a nuclear power source that lasts forever and is smaller than a battery. 

I love this book series because of its incredible blend of many different genres and the way that it does it seamlessly.

Fill out Your 2019-2020 California Private School Affidavit (PSA) with Me

It is that time again for private Californian homeschoolers! It is time to file your Private School Affidavit andthis year I actually file my PSA with you! If you independently private homeschool in California you need to file an affidavit every year with the State of California. It is a super easy process! Join me while I file mine!

Go pull up your affidavit and file with me!

Through Walk of the California Homeschooling Affidavit (PSA) for 2017-2018

Here is a walk-through of this year’s PSA that independent homeschoolers in California need to fill out. This is only for homeschoolers that do not take part in charter schools and are not included in a larger group that files for you. 

Not any real changes from last year and is still super easy. If you need to get more details on how to homeschool in California you can pop over to How to Start Homeschooling in California for all the information and relevant links. 

(This is not legal advice by any means but a basic walk-through based on my knowledge of 10 years of homeschooling in California. )

Summer Bucket List

bucket list

“Can I have Susie over to play?” “Can we go to the zoo?” “When can we watch Batman vs Superman?” “Later, when we aren’t so busy.” We have all had those conversations because there is so much fun that we want to have and never have time for. I personally feel guilty because often, I never get around to having the fun. I was just convicted of this yesterday because I started looking at the movies I am waiting to watch with the kids and the kids were talking about the friends they want to have over.  

This summer is not going to end without us have fun and rest! We will start the year having worked hard on summer projects but having played hard too, no too hard it will be restful play;). But of course, that means I need to put a bit of a list together. Then I can prioritize and try to create a well-rounded summer. 

There are different types of bucket list items. Some are things that kids want to do but they don’t need parents nor do we care to participate. My kids want to see Lion King and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. They can do that when I am doing something else. 

Some things are kind of time-related. We only made it through half of last season’s Flash. We also want to get caught up before the new season begins. Luckily we can just pick up an episode without a big time commitment! But we do all need to be together as a family and that takes a little coordination. 

Some are relationship based on relationships outside the home. Like kids having sleep overs or swim days with friends. That takes coordination with our family and others. That takes lead time. So if it is going to happen, we might want to start scheduling now. 

Some are relationship based in the family. That one on ones with kids. Board game nights are a great way to work on those bonds too. But that means that not everyone always has to be available!

Some are just fun and experiences. I think we need to have a big movie night binge where everyone falls asleep in the living room. We are pretty straight laced, bed by 8 kind of family so I think it will be a fun memory! 

A great bucket list is going to be a smattering of all these types of things. It can be organized by your availability, work, or level of excitement. Fun and memories are not going to just happen! Let’s make it happen!

10 days 2017 button
This is part of my 10 Days to a Better School Year Series! Go see my fabulous other posts.

5 Questions to Help Your Students Succeed

5 Questions
They say a little introspection is good for a person, it is an even better practice for a process. A process like homeschooling! At the end of every school year, I meet with each kid (usually on their birthday day out) and have a little chat. It is similar to how you would do an annual review at a job. It gives us some valuable information about our children’s mindsets and their hopes and dreams. While we don’t always do exactly what the kids wish, it does often inform at least the extra things we focus on throughout the academic year.

1)What do you want to learn this year? I feel like you have to start with the blanket question even though you rarely get many answers to it. My kids this year gave some interesting answers. My 14-year-old wants to be a better storyteller. She did a writing course this year but she felt that focused on grammar and now she wants to focus on the art of storytelling.

2)What is 1 historical or scientific event or time period do you want to learn more about? I know that may sound like an odd combination but science discoveries and events often go hand in hand with history. I got a unique answer this year from my 12-year-old son when he said he wants to learn more about the Crimean War. The only thing he knows about it is where it took place. This won’t inform the year’s history but I will put together some books and a little unit study on the Crimean War. I don’t know much about the Crimean except Florence Nightengale and Gallipoli so I am excited to learn about it too.

3)What skill do you want to learn? Skills can be academic or not. Both girls want to learn how to speak Spanish. I also have 2 children who want to learn to make dinner. We also have a smattering of bike riding and photo editing too. These may not all seem academic but they are life skills and are just as important.

4)What is something about school you didn’t enjoy this year? This is their opportunity to voice their complaints. Sometimes your response may be the fact you know they don’t like something but it is just a hard fact. But you may hear something that you can adjust or compromise on. You may also hear something that you didn’t see coming. This is how I found out that my 2nd oldest has been struggling with the process of writing more than the answers back when she was in 2nd grade. I hadn’t realized just how much she was struggling and so we were able to work on some things that really helped her that year.

5)What is one thing (or business idea) you would like to make this year? We are big believers in entrepreneurship and creation, so we ask this as a hope, not a demand. Many years I get an “I don’t know” but sometimes… I actually have some that want to write more blog posts and monetize them.

5 simple questions can give you a lot of insight into the minds of our children. Insight is the thing I think that we parents hope and pray for more than anything. It also can help give you a much happier and more educational academic year!

10 days 2017 button This is part of my series on 10 Days to a Better School Year series! Check out the rest of the series and all the bloggers who are participating in the 10 Days of Tips series.