Knowledge House Newsletter

Homeschool Information... Ideas... and Inspiration

January Holidays & Special Days - Click Here!

~ January 2016 ~

Dear Readers,

If it doesn’t spark joy or serve a useful purpose, toss it. That’s the philosophy of Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo. My mom - who was a minimalist long before minimalism became a millennial trend - told me the same thing, but did I listen? A collector at heart, I used to be happy just having lots of stuff. It wasn’t until recently I finally came to the realization that my house is full of things that not only don’t bring me joy, but actually produce negative feelings. Like all the homeschool resources I purchased and never got around to using. I decided from now on I’d rather have my home be a living museum of edifying materials for the present, not a shrine to missed opportunities long past. So I’ve been clearing out a lot of things that I should have gotten rid of years ago. Starting with VHS movies, Books on Tape, and old software. I used to think of it this way: I bought it so I might as well keep it. But why keep reminding myself of all the money I spent on items I can no longer use? It's hard to even give that stuff away any more! On the other hand, I'll never give up my extensive collection of books. The internet can go down, the electricity can go out, but the books will always be there. Happy New Year!
Teri's Sig

P.S. I have some items listed on my Amazon seller page (click on "Products"). And if you or anyone you know has any need of educational CD-ROMs for older operating systems (Windows 95/98/2000/ME/XP), including lots of children's edutainment titles from the 90's, please e-mail me ASAP!

Featured Article

National Hobby Month

Did you know that January is National Hobby Month? Why not introduce your kids to a few different activities that they might find interesting in the New Year! We went to a gem and mineral show last week, and I was inspired to dig out my old rock collection that I've had since I was a child.

Whether it's crafting, collecting, model railroading, sports, singing, photography or writing, a hobby is any activity that someone might take up in their spare time. Hobbies let kids explore budding interests in various fields. Some hobbies can even be turned into elective courses for high schoolers.

For a list of popular hobby ideas, click here. Everyone should have a hobby they enjoy. Who knows, a family member may become so serious about their hobby that it may eventually grow into a business!

Reading Between the Lines

Just as the phrase “reading between the lines” means to gain deeper insight by looking beyond the obvious, elective courses provide more diverse learning experiences besides the standard basics. That may be forcing the comparison a bit; but hey, if they can place “The Martian” movie in the comedy/musical category… ha! Anyway, I really wanted to include the following article under this column heading because I had nowhere else to put it. :)

Homeschool Electives

Homeschool students have a unique opportunity to tailor their curricula around their personal interests, hobbies, and future career goals. An elective is basically any course the student “elects” to take that is not required. For high schoolers, just be sure to check the admissions requirements of preferred colleges to see if they require any specific or additional coursework (such as a foreign language) that you haven't already covered. Other than that, homeschoolers are free to choose (or create) their own electives without being limited to a pre-approved list of available courses.

Any extra class can be an elective. Although electives tend to go beyond the core classes of English, math, science, and history, they can also include specific topics within those subjects. For example, electives enable students to partake in a more in-depth study of art history or creative writing, so they can better expand their education in a favorite subject such as history or English. Also don’t forget Bible study, as theology is the “Queen of the Sciences” and everyone should study the Bible anyway so that's an easy elective to add.

While elective courses can relate to a student’s major focus, they can also be in a completely different field to give students a break from their usual studies. Such classes contribute to the “whole person” approach to learning and help develop a “well-rounded” student, bringing balance between both sides of the brain. For example, someone with strong math and analytical skills might be encouraged to try dabbling in art and music on the side. Or a creative person with strong artistic ability might want to take a logic class to strengthen their thinking skills.

Passions like graphic design, archery, and music are perfect fits for electives. In addition, practical life skills such as nutrition, fitness, money management, gardening, sewing, woodworking, auto repair/maintenance, driver’s education, and typing are good options for electives. Career exploration is another excellent use of electives. A student who is thinking of becoming an architect could take a blueprint reading class; an aspiring engineer could take a robotics class; or a future entrepreneur could learn how to develop a business plan and call it entrepreneurial studies.

Volunteer work and other jobs can even be counted as elective credits. A student who has a weekly babysitting job could consider it an "Introduction to Child Development." A student who volunteers at a veterinarian’s office could count it as veterinary science. Does your teen volunteer at the library reading books to children? That could be classified as "Children's Literature," "Early Childhood Literacy Practicum," or "The Art of Storytelling." The choice is yours!

As the “principal” of your homeschool, you have the ability to create your own course as well as assign your own credit values. Depending on the elective, you may not be able to find specific guidance on what exactly should be included or how it should be structured. But a basic rule of thumb is that a half credit (typical for electives) is earned by 75 hours of study. This translates to about three hours per week for half a year (25 weeks), 25 hours a month for three months, or two weeks of full time volunteer work of 40-hour weeks.

In general, electives tend to be more entertaining and allow for more freedom than other courses, letting students have fun while learning. Electives enable students to learn something that they find interesting, run with it in any direction they want to go, and expand their world while doing so. If you need more ideas, offers a list of elective courses. But whatever you do is up to you!

Book of the Month

Easy Homeschooling Series

This set of books by a veteran homeschool mom will provide refreshing encouragement and practical motivation all year!

3 Books for $30 - plus FREE shipping!

1. Easy Homeschooling Techniques
2. Easy Homeschooling Curriculum
3. Easy Homeschooling Companion

Click here for detailed book descriptions!

Get ALL 3 BOOKS (valued at $57) for ONLY $30!*
OR purchase one or more individual titles - also on sale!

*And don't forget the FREE SHIPPING!

P.S. Another homeschool site has been selling downloadable copies of these titles, but why settle for PDFs when you can have the pleasure of holding the actual books in your hand? These are the original softcover BOOKS!

E-Books of the Month

Homeschool Mission Statement
How to Write a Homeschool Mission Statement - The new year is a good time to re-think and re-organize your homeschool. Perhaps the excitement of beginning school in the fall has worn off and the mid-winter doldrums combined with the anxiety of all you have yet to cover has you feeling overwhelmed. In addition, you may have noticed that the busyness of daily life seems to distract you from the things that matter most. The whole family can get back on track by sitting down together and compiling a homeschool mission statement to assist in guiding you from this day forward. My easy-to-follow step-by-step guide explains how. Download this 36-page e-book for only $4.95! Click here for details.

Benjamin Franklin’s Proverbs
Ben Franklin's Proverbs - We’ve all heard the advice "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." Benjamin Franklin had this to say and much more in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. This e-book features over 100 of Ben's best proverbs, along with lined pages for children's copywork with appropriate quotes, additional lessons and writing assignments for all ages. Makes a great Language Arts unit study! Also great for penmanship practice! HINT: National Handwriting Day is coming up on January 23. Practicing better handwriting would be a good New Year's resolution! Start by copying Ben Franklin's Proverbs. Only $4.95! Click here for more details.

P.S. I've seen a 15-page e-book of Ben Franklin's Proverbs on sale elsewhere for $3.99, so I think mine is a great deal considering it's 36 pages and includes supplemental lessons!

Famous Homeschoolers

Wilson Bentley

Wilson A. Bentley, homeschooled by his mother, had a unique hobby of studying snowflakes. On January 15, 1885, he became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal. In his lifetime, Bentley captured more than 5,000 snowflakes on film. Of course, no two were exactly alike. Learn more about "The Snowflake Man" at


Did you know...? Virginia is the only state to observe both Lee-Jackson Day (a state holiday) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day (a federal holiday). MLK Day celebrates the birthday of the slain civil rights leader. Lee-Jackson Day celebrates the birthdays of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. They may have been on the wrong side during the Civil War, but Lee and Jackson are both men of distinction - and not just because they were homeschooled!

Robert E. Lee | Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

Learning Links

The New Year (Here's our chance to start over, to do it right this time, to have another chance at success, to accomplish something that we want to finish.)

New Year Resolutions (Haven't thought of a resolution yet? Try picking one or more from the list! Do you really want to keep your resolutions this year? This article includes a few goal-setting tips.)

Homeschool Resolutions (Even though it's the middle of the school year, the new year is a good time for re-assessment and mid-course corrections.)

Let it Snow (Fun facts about snow! Includes Eskimo names for different kinds of snow.)

Teddy Bears (January 18 is Winnie-the-Pooh Day. This silly old bear and his friends are perhaps the most famous stuffed animals of all time. Learn all about the history of Teddy Bears.)

"I Have a Dream" (January 20, 2014 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Commemorate this day by reading the text of his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.)

Handwriting & Penmanship (National Handwriting Day is coming up on January 23. This article contains tips for teaching handwriting and ideas on how to improve penmanship. Practicing better handwriting would be a good New Year's resolution! You can start by copying Ben Franklin's Proverbs.)

Freebie of the Month

Top Ten Homeschool Resolutions - A PDF to print out.

For Everything There is a Season...and a Time for Every Purchase - If you want to get the best deals, it helps to know when the sales are. Most stores follow a regular sale pattern throughout the year. Here is a month-by-month guide to the biggest bargains for you to keep handy.

(Requires Adobe Reader: click here for free download.)

Quote of the Month

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” ~Benjamin Franklin

A Note From Teri...

Looking for a homeschool pen pal? I just received an e-mail from Alifia, a 13-year-old girl from Indonesia, saying "I need some homeschooler friends. Can you help me knowing homeschooling teens, Teri?" Seems to me like it would be a good experience as a cultural exchange. Alifia is a bright young lady who writes for Homeschooling Teen magazine. (Read some of her articles here.) Alifia's e-mail address is and on Facebook she is Alifia Afflatus Homeschooler. She would love to hear from other homeschool teens!

Happy Homeschooling!

Teri's Sig

P.S. Did you like this month's newsletter?

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