Category Archives: Education
I wish MyCAA had been around when I was a young military wife. MyCAA Financial Assistance (FA) pays tuition for education and training courses, and licensing/ credentialing fees (up to $4,000 over two years). This includes state certifications for teachers, medical professionals and other occupations requiring recognized certifications; licensing exams and related prep courses; Continuing Education Unit (CEU) classes including those offered through professional associations; and degree programs leading to employment in Portable Career Fields. MyCAA also pays for High School Completion courses, GED tests and
English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.
CareerStep is MyCAA approved. They offer quite a few courses whose tuition is completely covered by your MyCAA funds!!
Here are some of the possibilities:
- Medical Transcription Editor
- Medical Coding and Billing
- Pharmacy Technician
- Medical Administrative Assistant
- Computer Technician
Unsure of how the whole process works? CareerStep offers a free ebook called Top 5 MyCAA Myths for military spouses who are wondering if MyCAA funding can cover their education. It takes a look into the primary reasons military spouses don’t take advantage of the benefit and what makes a military spouse eligible.
MyCAA will use my husband’s (or my wife’s) GI BIll.
I’m sure I don’t qualify – I’m never selected for programs like this.
Only certain programs and schools are approved, so mine probably isn’t on the list.
Getting MyCAA funding is really complicated and takes forever.
If I don’t finish, or I fail a course, I’ll have to pay it all back.
So, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to further your education and give yourself a chance for a better future. Go to CareerStep for more information.
This is a sponsored post through Military Wives Media for CareerStep.
All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in anyway.
In the 2012 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, it was revealed, according to the New York Times, that
about 40 percent of the teachers and parents surveyed said they were pessimistic that levels of student achievement would increase in the coming years, despite the focus on test scores as a primary measure of quality of a teacher’s work. – New York Times, March 7, 2012
If, as the writers of Mission Possible state, the inability to achieve one’s job at the highest level is one of the greatest sources of low teacher morale, than how do we give teachers the tools they need to help students improve? Why do we, as Americans, treat teaching so much differently than other professions? I believe it’s because many of us don’t understand how difficult it is to prepare each individual lesson, let alone attempt to convey that lesson to children of varying skill sets and learning styles. I know that before I started homeschooling my kids I had no idea how much prep time went into each subject. We think of doctors as miracle workers, but what we don’t grasp is that in many ways, so is a good teacher – one who can capture the attention of a classroom full of squirmy six-year-olds and motivate them to accomplish more than they thought possible.
Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia, the founders of the Success Academy, a chain of charters schools in New York State, operate their schools on the philosophy that it’s not about the kids,it’s all about the adults.
Achieving excellence isn’t about the students. It’s about the grown-ups. When grown-ups are running on all cylinders, they bring the kids along for the swift, exhilarating ride. – Mission Possible, page 37
The teachers at Success Academy are given two to three periods a day to prepare and practice lessons, including working with other teachers and the school’s leadership team. They videotape lessons and debrief with their peers. Principals spend a great deal of their day circulating in classrooms and offering suggestions to teachers on ways they can improve. Teachers are treated as the valuable resources that they are, and follow the idea that we are never done learning.
We believe it’s hypocritical to expect the children to learn and grow by leaps and bounds while not expecting the adults to grow and expand their repertoire just as much and just as fast. – Mission Impossible, page 32
Success Academy believes that parental participation is also very important to a scholar’s success (students are called scholars). Parents are expected to read at home with their child, monitor homework, and stay in close contact with the classroom teacher and the school. Teachers give out business cards with their cell phone number and also have the phone numbers for the parents of all their students. Parents are also expected to make sure their child attends any extra schooling they may require in order to succeed, including an extra hour after school and even Saturday school if necessary.
Rigor is another building block of Success Academy. But what is rigor? According to Teaching What Matters Most: Standards and Strategies for Raising Student Achievement by Richard W. Strong, Harvey F. Silver and Matthew J. Perini, ASCD, 2001
Rigor is the goal of helping students develop the capacity to understand content that is complex, ambiguous, provocative, and personally or emotionally challenging.
Success Academy applies rigor through their belief that school should be interesting and challenging. Scholars read carefully chosen books, often above their grade level – books that challenge both their reading comprehension and their critical thinking skills. Scholars spend up to an hour and a half in reading and the same in writing every single day. Teachers and leadership are constantly re-evaluating and raising the bar to test the limits of what their students are capable.
This book is unique in that it also contains a DVD with videotaped lessons from various classrooms throughout the Success Academy system.
I highly recommend this book as a starting point for discussion for anyone who is concerned about the state of education in our country.
You can find out more about the book by visiting http://readmissionpossible.com
This is a compensated post. All opinions are 100% my own.
Whether you homeschool your kids or are just looking for something fun and educational to do on a Saturday or short day, it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money to have a great time. Here are some field trips our family has taken over the years that were a big hit with everyone and either free or really cheap:
- Factory Tours
We live within a half hour’s drive of both the Jelly Belly Factory and a Budweiser brewery. Both of these tours are free and give you a glimpse into the workings of a modern factory. Plus at the end of the Jelly Belly tour you get to sample Jelly Bellys. (Sorry, no beer sampling at the end of the Budweiser tour.) For a list of factory tours available in your area, go to FactoryToursUSA.
- State/County Parks
We are very lucky to have many state and county parks within a very short drive of our house. These are usually free or have a very small day use fee and if nothing else, offer hiking trails on which the kids can burn off energy. Most also usually have a small nature center where you can learn about the local wildlife and get a history of the area. For California State parks, visit parks.ca.gov and for county/regional parks in all states go to Wildernet.
- Fire Station
Call ahead to your local fire station and they will take you on a really nice tour of the firehouse and even let the kids climb on the engine and wear a fire hat!! Be prepared though, to have your visit cut short if the firefighters are called to an emergency.
- Farm or Dairy
One of our local high schools has a student-run farm that families can visit by appointment. I couldn’t find a centralized web site, but if you do a google search farm tours and your city, you should be able to get a good list.
- Friends/Family with Interesting Jobs
You’ll have to decide what your kids will think is interesting. When Boo and Bud were little, my mom was working as a nurse in the cancer center at the local hospital. We would visit her office sometimes and the boys loved to have her take their blood pressure and weigh them. They also liked to play with the model torso with removable organs.
So with a little ingenuity and a good search engine, you should easily be able to find some inexpensive and even free day trips for your family. If you do, please come back and tell me what you found in your area.
You’ve heard of the ten plagues of Egypt? Well in our house we had at least four plagues of homeschool. The boys and I were reminiscing the other day and these are the ones we could remember:
- The first plague was Fifth Disease. Boo developed it in the first grade, our first year of homeschool. He was so itchy and uncomfortable that he basically lived on the couch for two weeks, but he never missed a day of school. (My philosophy is “there is no excuse for not doing school when you homeschool.”)
- Tadpoles are supposed to turn into frogs, aren’t they? Well, ours just laid around in their little mossy blobs for a week or two, then slowly deteriorated. It’s a good thing neither of my boys wanted to be zoologists.
- I think it’s fair to say at this point that practical science was never my strong suit. For our chemistry unit we needed a bunsen burner but didn’t have one. So I figured using the gas stove would work just as well. Let’s just say holding a piece of steel wool over a flame – never a good idea. KIDS – DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!!!
- The biggest disaster was the ant farm. The little plastic farm arrived first, with a card to mail in for the ants, which arrived about a week later, on ice (the cold temperature is supposed to keep the ants docile). We opened up the package and then stared at the tiny hole at the top of the ant farm into which we were supposed to pour the ants. But there was no tiny funnel provided. So I rolled a piece of paper into a tiny cone and attempted to pour the ants into the hole. I say “attempted” because most of the ants fell on the floor. As we were scrambling to scoop them up I happened to read the rest of the directions card which notified me to BEWARE because these were stinging red ants!! Of course I immediately screamed and the boys and I all jumped on the counters. Finally we solved the problem by stomping the rest of the ants on the floor with a shoe, sweeping them up and throwing them away.
Through all of our disasters and near disasters the boys still managed to learn a fair amount of science. When we didn’t know, we asked those who did. We supplemented with videos and photos of experiments done correctly. We went to exhibitions, museums and science fairs. Boo, who has a near photographic memory, learned the names of all types of rocks, plants and animals, including their Latin nomenclature. Bud has become a whiz at hydroponics and horticulture. We bonded as a family over those ‘disaster” moments.
Do you homeschool? What are some of the “plagues” you experienced? If you don’t homeschool, what are those “disaster” stories you all love to retell?
So, if you read my blog from Tuesday, you know why we homeschooled our oldest son, Boo. Bud is 3 years younger, and the reasons why we homeschooled him are as different as Bud is different from Boo. After all, I can’t preach the benefits of an individualized education and then force Bud to follow the exact same educational path as his brother, right?
Well, Bud just sort of segued into kindergarten. He was only 3 when Boo started homeschooling, and so it was just natural for him to start learning along with his brother. Over the years we discovered many differences in their learning styles. Boo is a natural mimic. He memorizes easily – has a near photographic memory. Bud has more common sense. He gets concepts intuitively, if he can apply them to a relevant situation. Boo is more of an abstract thinker.
One of the biggest questions we have been asked ever since we began homeschooling is “Aren’t you worried about socialization?” Dictionary.com defines socialization as “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.” How is that learned in a classroom full of children your own age who don’t know anymore about social skills and behavior than you do? What people really mean when they ask about “socialization” is “do they have any friends?” Well, in Bud’s case that has never been a problem. Kids are drawn to him like a magnet. He was always the kingpin of our neighborhood and none of his friends ever cared what school he attended.
Bud has always been a very busy child. Some have called him our “wild child.” I have been asked why he wasn’t in a classroom where a teacher could keep him “under control.” We preferred to raise him ourselves and channel his energy into taekwondo and flag football and dodgeball and basketball and tennis shoe hockey and swim lessons and whatever else we could think of that he might enjoy.
Bud homeschooled through the 6th grade, completing 5th and 6th grade in one year so he could attend middle school in the same grade as the majority of his friends. Bud really enjoyed middle school, but some health problems, along with bullying issues (see When Older Kids are Bullied) made him decide he wanted to come back home for school after 9th grade. We did more research, as I doubted my abilities to teach high school science, and a friend pointed us in the direction of K12.com and California Virtual Academy. In this program, Bud attends all his classes online, sometimes in real time; sometimes by listening to a recorded lesson. He has excelled in this environment, never earning less than a 3.5 GPA, and is set to graduate high school this June. He is planning on attending community college in the fall, studying horticulture and business.
We are so proud of both our sons and the fine young people they are becoming. The experiences we all gained through homeschool have been invaluable. My hope is that every parent can discover and have access to the educational program that is the best fit for their child.
I could just as easily have named this post “what about socialization?” as these are the two biggest questions I have been asked over the past 13 years of homeschooling my two sons. I don’t think every child should be homeschooled – I absolutely believe that public school serves a purpose. But I also believe that every child deserves an individualized education and it is up to us as parents to decide what that means for our children.
Our oldest son, Boo started kindergarten at the public school down the street from our house. I had already started thinking about homeschooling, but my husband, Art, was not convinced, so we agreed to see how Boo did in his first year of school. The biggest problem was that Boo was more advanced intellectually than the average kindergartner. He had already memorized most of the flags of world countries and had begun memorizing the periodic table of elements (for fun??) There was just no way that a teacher dealing with 20 other kids could keep up with him. I also wanted him to be able to stay a child as long as possible. That year, on the playground, Boo had been teased by other kids in his class for wearing a Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt. There had also been an incident where a 1st grader found a gun in the field during recess (thankfully she brought it to a teacher – it was not loaded – and no one was hurt).
My cousin was homeschooling her children through a program which is now called Pathways Charter School. In this program, the parent and child meet with an IST (independent study teacher) once a month to set up learning goals, review progress, and do some standardized testing. We decided to meet with the IST for our area to discuss our expectations and see if the program would meet Boo’s needs. The IST, Glenda, was very personable and got along well with Boo. She explained that the school allocated a certain amount of money for each student and the parents could choose the curriculum which was best suited to their child (within the state’s standards and from the school’s approved list of vendors). Boo’s first grade year would be our trial year. In fact ever year we homeschooled we said it was “just for this year” and we would re-evaluate at the end of the year to decide if we wanted to continue.
That first year was definitely our most awkward as we figured out what Boo’s strengths and weaknesses were and developed our schedule. Pathways is a state charter school, so nothing religious could be included in the graded curriculum, but we had devotions every morning and read a chapter from William Bennett’s Book of Virtues or others. The boys took taekwondo and participated in AWANA (a children’s Bible club) every Wednesday night. Boo had an evaluation by a specialist and was able to get an IEP (individualized education program) for speech therapy. We took field trips on our own and with other kids from the school. We were learning and growing and it was fun!!
Boo continued to homeschool through the 6th grade. At that time he chose to transfer into public school for middle and high school. He competed in the state geography bee in the 8th grade, sang in the elite choir in high school, and graduated with 3.5 GPA and 3 advanced placement classes under his belt. I guess you could say our homeschool experiment was a success!!
Tune in on Black Friday to find out why we homeschooled Bud and how his journey has progressed thus far.