Your First Year Homeschooling: How to Make it Work

24 July, 2019

Your First Year Homeschooling: How to Make it Work

So you've decided to home-educate your child. Congratulations! This is one of the biggest and most difficult decisions you'll ever make. Many parents choose to home school their children for a number of reasons, but chances are that you're still a little nervous about making things work. Whether you are going to home educate a kindergartner or your child has already completed a few years of public school, your first year of homeschooling can be a challenge (just like your first year working on your online degree).

To help you with this important challenge, we have put together a list of things for you to keep in mind that will help you make home-schooling a better and more efficient experience for you and your family.


1 – Be Patient and Understand it is a Learning Experience

When you first start homeschooling, make sure you talk with your spouse and your children openly about the experience. Make sure everyone understands that this is a learning experience for the whole family. It will take everyone some time to adjust to the change that homeschooling brings. It may take some time for you to figure out what curriculum works well for your family, as well as to work out a schedule that makes sense for each family member. Remember to be patient with your family as you figure things out together.


2 – Be Upfront with Friends, Relatives, and Neighbors

It's also important that you be upfront with your friends, relatives, and neighbors about your plans to home school. Many people may assume that since you home school, you'll have endless amounts of free time. This couldn't be farther from the truth! As a home educator, you'll be responsible for planning each lesson for your children, as well as for grading papers. You'll also spend quite a bit of time actually teaching your children. As a home school parent, you'll need to set firm boundaries with your friends and let them know that you can't plan activities during your school hours. While this can be a challenge at first, learning to plan things after your lessons are done will become easier.

red shirt boy reading at the desk

3 – Join a Home School Group or Co-Op

Many parents find that joining a home school group or co-op can be beneficial, especially during the first year of home education. A home school group typically meets once a month and is a reasonable way to meet other home school parents, make new friends for your children, and even connect with home school sports teams and dance groups. A co-op is more education-centered than social and offers homeschooled children the opportunity to take a variety of different classes.


4 – Keep Things Fun, Interesting, and Different

It's also important to remember to keep things fun, interesting, and different. Homeschooling doesn't have to be boring. In fact, home education opens up many doors for fun learning activities. Don't be afraid to plan interesting field trips to local museums, take day trips to the zoo, or even join new classes you might not have otherwise enrolled your child in. Homeschooling doesn't mean you stay at home all day. In fact, most home school families find that the opposite is true!


5 – Keep Your Head Up and Take One Day at a Time

No matter how much experience you have when you start homeschooling, your first year can be overwhelming. Remember to keep your head up. Things may not be easy at first, but as you learn how to teach your child and how to explain things in ways that make sense to him, you'll gradually get the hang of things. Whether you plan to home school temporarily or on a long-term basis, remember to be patient with both yourself and your children. Instead of getting angry or frustrated if you face an obstacle in your home education journey, remind yourself why you chose to home educate and remember to simply take one day at a time.


Is an Online Degree For You? 5 Things to Consider

Tips to Naturally Eliminate & Prevent Common Tomato Plant Pests

09 July, 2019

Tips to Naturally Eliminate & Prevent Common Tomato Plant Pests

Discover simple and natural methods for eliminating or preventing common insects of tomato plants. Burdensome garden insects are capable of turning a beautiful and bountiful tomato crop into a pile of half-eaten fruits and dead foliage. Many pesticides may help get rid of these irritating pests, but by tackling the problem naturally and from the beginning, you can not only prevent these prowlers from feasting on your food, but you can also help protect the environment in the process. 

The Tomato Hornworm and the Armyworm

Tomato hornworms and armyworms are large green caterpillars found throughout the United States. Hornworm adult moths lay their eggs on the underside of the tomato plant leaves. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars feed on the leaves, destroying the plants. The tomato hornworm is often considered the biggest killer of tomato plants. Armyworms consume everything in their path, leaving no garden plant safe. They are particularly harmful to the fruit of tomato plants, eating large holes in the tomatoes. However, getting rid of both hornworms and armyworms can be a simple task:


- Pick the caterpillars from the leaves and drop them into soapy water. They do not sting and are harmless to touch. Spraying them with cold water from a hose first will make them easier to remove. 

- There is a variety of wasp, called the Trichogramma wasp, will infect the worms and kill them. When the wasp infects one of these pests, the worm will exhibit strange white protrusions on its body. Do not remove these worms from the garden, as they will continue to infect others with the wasp infection. Instead, move them to unwanted or already dying tomato plants. By releasing these wasps in the garden, they will infect the larva right from the start.


The Potato Beetle

This pest is perhaps more popularly known as simply the potato bug. Like the hornworm, the potato beetle can be found throughout the United States and can prove to be a huge menace to tomato plants. Both the adult and the larvae feed upon the foliage of the plants. Getting rid of them can prove to be somewhat difficult:

- Again, soapy water is the best way to go. Shake the beetles off the leaves of the tomato plants and into a container of soapy water. This can be quite the chore, however.  Be sure to look for egg clusters on the underside of the leaves. It is best to pick these leaves off and dispose of them rather than remove the eggs.

- Digging trenches between the rows of tomato plants and lining them with plastic is another option. This will trap the adult potato beetles and make them easier to get rid of before they reach the tomato plants.


The Flea Beetle

Adult flea beetles feed on the leaves of tomato plants. The larva feeds on the roots. There may be many of these beetles present in the same area, devouring tomato plants in virtually no time. Unfortunately, they are too small, and way too many, to simply pick off and drop into soapy water. This can make them much more difficult to eliminate than some other pests.

- Cover seedlings with a garden cloth. This will prevent adult flea beetles from laying their eggs on the tomato plants. Once all of the adults have been removed or destroyed with a botanical pesticide, the seedlings can be uncovered.

- Flea beetles lay their eggs before Winter, hatching in the Spring right in the garden soil. Prevent this by making sure the garden area is completely clean before Winter hits. This will remove any places for the flea beetles to lay their eggs.


Slugs and Snails

These suckers are a troublesome pest for every type of plant. They eat off of the mulch and decaying matter in the garden, posing harm to tomato plants that should be thriving.

- Keep the garden free from debris, rotting wood, or decaying matter. Without it, the slugs and snails will not come around, as there will be nothing to attract them to the garden.

- Placing low dishes of beer around the tomato plants may prove helpful as well, not by getting the slugs and snails drunk, but by drowning them. The yeast in the beer will attract them. When they climb into the dish, they will drown.


Aphids and Psyllids

Aphids and psyllids are tiny insects that infest tomato plants quickly and in large numbers. They suck the sap from the plant cells for nourishment. This causes the leaves of the plant to curl and turn yellow, eventually killing the entire plant. Not only do they feast on the tomato plants, but aphids and psyllids also produce a sticky substance that will attract ants. The tomato plants may become diseased from this substance.

- Fill a spray bottle with soapy water and spray the aphids and psyllids with it. They will drop from the tomato plants and die.

- Natural predators are a great way to protect tomato plants from aphids and psyllids. Purchasing ladybugs or lacewings and releasing them in the garden will help keep the aphid and psyllid population down. Ladybugs and lacewings love to snack on these pests. These beneficial insects are commercially sold for gardens and will help keep down a number of other pest infestations as well.


While there are a number of chemical sprays and pesticides available on the market, some may prefer these natural, environmentally friendly techniques of preventing and reducing the number of insect infestations present.  Whether you choose to treat your garden chemically or naturally, you are sure to enjoy a beautiful bounty of tomatoes by eliminating the common insects and pests that feast upon them.

Is An Online Degree Right For You? 5 Things to Consider

12 June, 2019

Is An Online Degree Right For You? 5 Things to Consider

With tuition and living expenses on an upward trajectory, online degrees can look incredibly attractive to people who want to gain further qualifications while minimizing education-related debt. While you might be excited about the possibilities offered by online degrees, it is important that you make a full and informed decision before you sink your hard-earned cash into such a qualification. Here are five things to consider when deciding if an online degree is right for you.


1. Can you budget for the entire course?

If you compare the tuition fees for a traditional US bricks-and-mortar college with the typical fees for online degree courses, the financial benefits of studying online are blindingly obvious. Generally speaking, you are looking at slashing in half the tuition cost if you choose to study online. However, you need to weigh the costs for the entire course and you also may have to save in other ways. For example, young school leavers may be able to live at home with their parents, while mature students may not have this option.

2. Does online study match your preferred learning style?

Perhaps the most important consideration is whether online study suits your learning style. It is not for everyone. Although the freedom and convenience of studying in your own time and at your own pace can seem great at first, many people simply cannot hack it. You need to be quite self-critical and decide what type of learner you are. You can find many free online tests to help you with this. Online learning will work if you have great time-management skills and if you are self-motivated and conscientious. It can, however, leave some students feeling quite isolated as online courses lack the live, interactive classes found on a standard degree course. Watching online lectures or participating in a webinar is just not the same.

3. Is the institution accredited?

While it is tempting to jump at the chance to earn a degree without getting up to your eyeballs in debt, do not waste your money on getting an online degree with an unaccredited institution that is not recognized worldwide. Going into debt for a worthless online degree could be worse than not studying at all if it means you pass up paid employment opportunities. 

You should thoroughly research the background of institutions offering online courses. Check out their credentials and then check with the accrediting organizations that accredit them. You should also contact the associations and organizations that work with the school. It is extremely important that you check whether the institution has state authorization before you part with your cash.

4. Will an online degree help advance your career?

You can check the background and credentials of an online learning institution with relative ease these days, but that does not always tell the whole story. A reputable provider will let you contact alumni for details and their experiences of the course you are planning to take. Grab this opportunity and be sure to politely contact and ask any former students about their experiences.

When talking to former students about their experiences, you want to know whether they found the course useful, what doors it opened for them, and whether they would recommend the course. If you have an idea of the industry or sector that you hope your degree will help you find a job in, check with potential employers whether they would consider or value an online degree.

5. Are you comfortable with learning and handling software on your own? 

By taking online classes, you can expect to lean on computer software programs to complete the majority of class assignments. G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 are the top two providers of cloud-based productivity tools for schools. Professors and students alike need to be up and running with these educational software tools in order to be more productive in the technology age.

After you leave school, you will realize that these applications are also very prominent in the business world. These productivity tools can become essential for document writing and formatting, formula calculations and tables, group presentations, and much more. Having a good handle on them has become basic computer skills for many. Depending on the area of study you are considering, you will need to know if you are comfortable and able to hand in your papers and other class assignments using such tools. And if not, will you have the time and dedication to learn these on your own? Having a friend to give a hand may help, but remember, they will not always be available to guide you in your computer software endeavors. Some students may feel very overwhelmed in having to learn software such as G Suite or Microsoft Office 365 besides everything else for their classes.


These five considerations should help you decide whether online study is right for you before you take the plunge. By considering your financial situation, your preferred learning style, the accreditation of the course provider, and your technology limitations, you will make an informed choice to help you stand at a good spot for your future career.