Entries from March 2009 ↓

Want to win a free WriteShop Primary Book A?

Raffle at HomeschoolChristian.com

Happy 11th Anniversary to HomeschoolChristian.com, a website dedicated to encouraging and supporting Christian homeschoolers. This special day will be marked by an equally special RAFFLE to be held Tuesday, March 24.

Today is the VERY LAST DAY you can buy your tickets.

Among the offerings? WriteShop is donating a copy of WriteShop Primary Book A and Activity Worksheet Pack, a $32.90 value! This fantastic resource helps you teach early writing skills to your K-2nd grader in a gentle, hands-on way.


The raffle includes many other great items, including:

  • Curriculum for all ages and subjects
  • Books and literature
  • Gift certificates
  • Hand-quilted items
  • A horse (yes, a real horse!)

How to Enter

You can enter the raffle (which supports the ministry of HomeschoolChristian.com) for as little as $5 using PayPal. Remember that today (March 23) is the LAST DAY to enter.

  • Click here to see all the raffle gifts (WriteShop Primary is item #12).
  • Click here to download the entry form and choose the products you’re interested in winning.

Enter the raffle in one of two ways:

  1. Print the entry form, fill it in, scan it, and email it with your PayPal. Send to homeschoolchristian @gmail.com
  2. Type in the item number and quantity of tickets for each item and include that with your PayPal. Send to homeschoolchristian @gmail.com

The drawings will be held in the chat room at HomeschoolChristian.com on March 24 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Your serious?

"Your" My Star

Our latest Wordless Wednesday winner? A greeting card that slipped right by those eagle-eyed editors. I know, I know. I can hear you exclaiming, “Your kidding! I can’t believe your actually posting this!” 

The really sad thing is that someone, I’m sure, is actually buying these cards.

. . . . .

Stop by every 1st and 3rd Wednesday for a peek into the world of spelling, punctuation, or grammar gone wrong!

Wake up those tired words

Make a pocket chart word bank to help kids choose strong, descriptive synonyms instead of weak, overused, or tired words.

This article contains affiliate links for products we think your family will love!

Do your kids regularly fill their sentences with ho-hum words like big, happy, nice, walked, and said? Here’s a fabulous idea for a pocket word bank to help children choose more concrete synonyms instead.

Thesaurus.com is a perfect place to begin gathering synonyms.

  1. Enter a word your kids tend to overuse.
  2. Browse the various lists and pick out a handful of reasonable synonyms.
  3. Type them up using a large, clear font.
  4. Print out the words and cut them into strips, laminating them so they hold up longer.

Or, if you’d like to add an excellent thesaurus to your family bookshelf, take a look at The Synonym Finder.

A “Good” Illustration

Let’s use good as an example, since it’s often overused. It’s convenient and easy to write good friend, good snack, good worker, or good child, even though the word good means different things each time.

But just think! With a few synonyms at their disposal, your children can choose much stronger, more specific words instead:

Make a pocket chart word bank to help kids choose strong, descriptive synonyms instead of weak, overused, or tired words.

Tired Words pocket chart

  • honorable
  • marvelous
  • pleasing
  • competent
  • virtuous
  • skillful
  • healthy
  • wholesome
  • reliable
  • friendly
  • kindhearted
  • gracious
  • obedient
  • well-mannered

Now they can describe a kindhearted friend, healthy snack, skillful worker, or obedient child. Not only will their writing improve, their vocabulary will grow too!

Pop over to Cheryl Sigmon’s website to check out a closeup photo and make a Tired Words pocket chart of your own. In no time, you’ll begin to see more descriptive, lively words spilling from your kids’ pens!

Photo: Karen Ho, courtesy of Creative Commons

College prep 101: Take deadlines seriously

College Prep 101 | Keeping a calendar helps teens take deadlines seriously and balance multiple projects.

This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy

CAN YOU imagine a student telling his college professor: “Could I have another week? My sister was hogging the computer.” or “Sorry I missed the test yesterday—I was too tired—but I can make it up tomorrow afternoon.”

We can laugh at how ridiculous this sounds, but the truth is, you’ve probably caved to these very requests yourself.

But We’re Homeschooling!

For homeschoolers, it’s easy to let deadlines slide. The sense of urgency just doesn’t exist at home as it does in the traditional school setting.

Homeschooling brings with it a false sense of security that says, “We have time … what’s the rush … he’s only 14 … that’s why we’re homeschooling,” and so on. As a result, many homeschooling parents either don’t give due dates at all, don’t adhere to them if they do, or don’t impose consequences for late assignments.

Do you want your student to succeed in college? Of course you do! Then you need to realize that in the real world, permissiveness will never fly. Together, it’s time to begin to take deadlines seriously.

Create a System for Keeping Track

You need a system for posting and keeping track of deadlines. The best method is to post a large monthly calendar in a prominent spot (in your school area, on the fridge).

Even if you use a lesson plan book and give your student daily assignments, it’s so helpful to be able to step back and see—at a glance—clearly marked essay or project deadlines and test dates. {The links in this post are my affiliate links because I’m convinced you’ll love these calendars.}

A calendar of this nature gives your teen a quick daily review of the panorama of impending deadlines. This prevents dreaded “due date creep” where it suddenly dawns on a procrastinating student that he has a test, an essay, and a science project all due in the next day or two.

It also encourages the student to pace himself more carefully when working on big projects, including spreading out the work over several days or weeks, and starting the project early enough to finish without having to pull an all-nighter.

A college-course syllabus is sure to include one or more long-term assignments, so developing the habit of scheduling and pacing will prepare him well for handling multiple deadlines that typify college work.

Catch the Whole Series

College prep 101: Learn to meet deadlines

College prep 101: Create a quiet workspace

College prep 101: Limit social network time

College prep 101: Teach responsible study habits

College prep 101: Focus on key writing skills

Photo: Dave Johnston, courtesy of Creative Commons.

Capitalizing titles of high-ranking officials

Grammar tips about capitalizing titles of high-ranking officials such as presidents, governors, and attorneys general.

Should the title of a high-ranking official be capitalized?

Depends on who you ask! But since we use, recommend, and carry The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, that’s the source WriteShop tends to rely on first. According to the Blue Book (11th ed.):

Capitalize the titles of high-ranking government officials when used with or before their names. Do not capitalize the civil title if it is used instead of the name.

The author cites several examples, including:

  • The president will address Congress.
  • The governors, lieutenant governors, and attorneys general called for a special task force.
  • Governor Fortinbrass, Lieutenant Governor Poppins, Attorney General Dalloway, and Senators James and Twain will attend.

That said, you may accept either from your students since other sources may conflict. For instance:

The Holt Handbook, 6th ed. says:

Titles that indicate high-ranking positions may be capitalized even when they are used alone or when they follow a name.


    Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States

The Writer’s Brief Handbook, 5th ed. says:

When you use titles of world figures alone, capitalization is optional.


    The President [or president] spoke to the reporters.

. . . . .

Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation (11th ed.) | Combination reference book and workbookDo you or your kids need some grammar guidance? The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation offers concise, helpful rules, examples, and practice exercises.

It’s a combination reference book and workbook, super easy to use, and handy for home or office. Examples are short, simple, and practical. We know you’ll love it too! Want to read some reviews? Just click here.

Photo: Beverly, courtesy of Creative Commons

If this is its best…

If this is early learning at “it’s” best, we’re doomed. 

Punctuation-challenged preschool?

A sad variation on the ever-popular abuse of the apostrophe


If you can’t get enough of apostrophe aberrations, here are a few more fun reads:

It’s “its”!

Americans Against Apostrophe Abuse

Carpe Diem

Bad Signage

. . . . .

Stop by every 1st and 3rd Wednesday for a peek into the world of spelling, punctuation, or grammar gone wrong!

College prep 101: Teach responsible study habits

College Prep 101 | Responsible Study Habits - It's a myth that procrastinators work better under pressure. so teach good study habits while they're still in high school.

MRS. SMITH teaches a weekly composition class. One evening she gets an email from one of her students.

Student: Is it okay for me to cite Wikipedia as a resource when I write my paper?
Mrs. Smith: May I ask why you waited until 6:45 p.m. to begin an essay that’s due tomorrow?

Sound familiar? You assign a report on Aztec culture, and you ask your teen to turn it in to you three weeks from now. But when will he typically start working on it?

That’s right—a day or two before it’s due!

Squelching a Myth

We’ve heard it. Perhaps we’ve even said it: I work better under pressure.

But actually, studies have shown that pressure and procrastination cause myriad problems.

“Psychologists have focused on procrastination among students because the problem is rampant in academic settings; some 70 percent of college students report problems with overdue papers and delayed studying,” according to Joseph Ferrari, associate professor of psychology at Chicago’s DePaul University.

Procrastinators generally don’t do well under pressure,” says Ferrari. The idea that time pressure improves performance is perhaps the most common myth among procrastinators.

[A study by Tim Pychyl, Ph.D.] found that “procrastination is detrimental to physical health. College students who procrastinate have higher levels of drinking, smoking, insomnia, stomach problems, colds and flu.”

~from “Stand and Deliver,” Psychology Today

Obviously, there’s more than just a deadline at stake here. So what can you as a parent do to help your teen develop consistency and routine before he heads off to college?

Teach Responsibility

The wise parent will begin early to teach study habits for college. Weave responsibility into your expectations for your student’s academic performance. Make it clear that his all-nighters or similar day-before heroics do not amuse or impress you.

As adults, we know what it’s like to work under pressure, and though many of us say we function better that way, in reality it is VERY stressful and counterproductive, and our families usually bear the brunt of our short tempers and long hours—even when the end result is worthwhile. Instead, tell your teen you expect him to schedule his work in advance and tackle it with his full attention.

Divide and Conquer

Start out by breaking longer assignments into chunks and establishing mini due dates along the way. If it’s a research paper, for example, set deadlines for topic selection, brainstorming, thesis statement, note-taking and research, outlining, bibliography, and rough and final drafts. Put these on a master calendar. That way, he can pace himself not only with this project, but with everything else vying for his time.

If, during the same two weeks, he is working on his paper, performing at the community playhouse, taking a biology test at the homeschool co-op, and going to winter camp with the youth group, he needs to plan well—and early—so he doesn’t end up with the proverbial freeway pileup when everything comes due at once.

Secret to Success

What is the most consistent difference between the college student who is snowed under and the one who is calm, happy, and academically successful?

It’s the successful student’s ability to use organization and study techniques to simplify his life, whereas the stressed-out student tends to fly by the seat of her pants—hoping she lives through the semester one anxious assignment at a time. Building an early—and strong—association between good habits and school work will pay off in the long run.

Catch the Whole Series

College prep 101: Take deadlines seriously

College prep 101: Learn to meet deadlines

College prep 101: Create a quiet workspace

College prep 101: Limit social network time

College prep 101: Focus on key writing skills

Photo: MC Quinn, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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