Bay College Planning Specialists

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Is Home-schooling an option for San Francisco Bay Area Children

By Keith Watkins

Due to the questionable state of our nations public school systems and the current strains placed upon our countries current economy a growing number of families are deciding to educate their children at home. The decision to home-school is a home-schoolerspersonal one and usually a difficult one. Ultimately making the decision to take control of your children’s education can, at first, appear to be overwhelming to a parent but more and more families are making the decision to home-school everyday. Homeschool students have been growing by an estimated 8 percent annually in the U.S. and as of 2007 totaled about 1.5 million.

In many places home-schooling is a legal option for parents who wish to provide their children with an alternative learning environment other than the ones that exists in nearby schools. While academic and religious reasons dominate the motivations for most home-schoolers, parents cite numerous other reasons ranging from a dissatisfaction with the public schools in their area to the desire for better academic test results and in a lot of instances parents cite the price of private school educations as being the determining factor for an ever increasing amount of families. Students who are gifted or have special needs benefit from a home school opportunity because they can learn at their own pace, whether they need to spend more time on a lesson or delve deeper into the content as a way of satisfying their intellectual curiosity. To that end, home schooling offers parents the opportunity to ensure mastery of a concept before moving onto the next, while public schools merely require a demonstration of understanding before moving onto the next concept, largely due to time constraints. 

Other students that benefit from a home school setting are those who live in rural areas and riding a bus for an hour each direction is more a waste of time than anything else. 

Home-schooling can literally be life changing. It creates personal growth for both the parent and the child. Nothing you will ever do in life will have a more profound effect on your child and your family’s future as home-schooling.

Although every families home-school is unique, certain home-schooling “styles” have become universally very popular. Most home-schoolers do not follow one style or method. Instead, they select the ideas and suggestions that fit their family and eventually end up with a method all their own.

Below are some of the most often used popular home-schooling styles found.

School-at-Home Method

Unit Studies Method

“Relaxed” or “Eclectic” Home-schooling Method

Unschooling Method

Classical Home-schooling Method

The Charlotte Mason Method

The Waldorf Method

The Montessori Method

Multiple Intelligences Method

DVD/Video Schooling Method

Internet Home-schooling Method

Did you know that the Scripps National Spelling Bee Winner for 2007 was a local Danville, Ca.San Francisco Bay Area home schooler. Evan O’Dorney, the home-schooled eighth-grader, easily aced “serrefine” — a noun describing small forceps — to become the last youngster standing at the 80th annual 2007 spelling bee. Plus, every year home-schoolers are admitted to hundreds of colleges in at least five different  countries. Those who prepare thoroughly can actually be admitted to some of the colleges of their choices with full scholarships.

Most parents are unaware of the fact that parents don’t need to be California licensed to educate their own children at home.  Home educators may establish, in California, a private school based in their home by filing a Private School Affidavit with the California Department of Education (CDE).

The affidavit does not license, evaluate, recognize, approve of, or endorse a private school. The State of California accredits neither public nor private schools. The affidavit itself is a statistical tool, and necessary to effect the pupil’s exemption from compulsory public school enrollment and attendance. By filing an affidavit you are showing intent to establish a private school, and informing the state, as required by law. Parents have been legally using this provision for many years to conduct their own home-based private schools.

Parent support groups and networks are a terrific way to get started by collectively facing challenging situations, the beneficial offerings of encouragement from other parents, the sharing of ideas, socialization and generally a way to reduce the overall stress of getting started.

If your student is into to sports, he or she may be able to participate at certain schools without actually attending. I have a personal friend that attends a charter school in Oakland, CA. His son is the leading scorer on the varsity basketball team at the public school in his local district. His dad often jokes stating that, “he shows up at games and no one in the home stands has any idea who he is”.

The California Virtual Academies  web site has plenty of free quality information and is a very good place to start your search. They are actually funded by the state of California and use the K¹² curriculum to offer California students in grades K-12 an exceptional online learning experience. With individualized learning approaches, the California Virtual Academies provide the tools kids need to succeed—in school and beyond into their college years.  Here is a news video report describing California Virtual Academies.

Below is an overview of the California Virtual Academies program:

  • Our experienced, California-credentialed teachers, who are available online, by phone, and during face-to-face meetings.
  • The individualized, engaging K¹² curriculum, which covers both the core subject areas and electives. Based on decades of education research, this curriculum packages high-quality lessons with mastery-based assessments that ensure students achieve success at each and every level. Find out more about K¹².
  • The online planning and assessment tools, resources, and hands-on materials ranging from textbooks to microscopes, rocks and dirt to beautifully illustrated classic children’s stories, and much more. 
  • Our active, supportive school community, which organizes fun and informative monthly activities where CAVA parents, students, and staff share their successes, helpful hints, and more. 
  • The high-quality, tuition-free public education that enables a learning experience that is individualized for each child.
  • We’re fully accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools (ACS) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) for all academies, grades K-12.


For more information on a distance based home school program please visit Laurel Springs School. Laurel Springs School is an accredited, college prep private school offering distance learning programs and teacher services for students in grades K-12. Laurel Springs uses web-based communication tools, a standards-based curriculum, and personalized instruction to offer students the highest quality home education experience based on your child’s learning style.

In conclusion, there are many many available options if home-schooling is of interest to your family. There are also many support groups, school affiliations and internet based organizations to assist in getting you started and also to guide families through the maze of of their newly discovered educational freedom. But first do the necessary research by Googling “Home School Organizations” in your City and State to gather as much information as possible.

Local San Francisco Bay Area home schooling parents should plan a visit to the upcoming 23rd Annual Christian Home Educators Bay Area Convention April 24-25, 2009. This event will be held at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Stop by the Bay Area College Planning Specialists booth for additional information concerning financial aid and scholarships for home-schooled students.

So, whether or not you are a parent who home schools your child, the next time you hear someone make a negative remark about parents educating their children at home, keep some of these points in mind. Consider all the benefits that a home school program offers parents, and their children. You might be pleasantly surprised at the many available options that exist for  families and that of their students future in education.

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Filed under: Bay Area, Career Path, Career Search, College Financing, College Planning, College Workshops, Consultants, Home Schooling, Parental Guidance, Public Service, Scholarship, Social Networking, Students, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Information For Single Mothers About Financial Aid For College

By Denise Bergeron

Looking for student loans and financial aid for single moms not easy. Take solace in the-college-prosknowing that you are not the only one in this situation. Many single mothers want the opportunity to go back to school as they see their own children growing up and
going to school as well. Whether the reason for going back to school is to update your skills to keep up with changes in the workplace or a career change, the benefit of continuing your education is a worthwhile endeavor. Sometimes it’s not as easy to make the transition back to school if you are older but there are plenty of others doing the same thing.

It’s a known fact that the majority of single parent women work full time while at 45, so do not let age deter your quest to return to the classroom. As you may be aware, the costs associated with returning to school are not cheap. And as a single mother, you have other costs to consider in addition to school related fees. Moms with younger children need to consider childcare costs. These costs are often 1/3 of a woman’s weekly pay and if she has two children the cost nearly doubles. In spite of these difficulties many single parent women return to school while working full time. So now, you will be faced with the same questions that other incoming college students face – how will you pay for your education? Here are some ideas to help you find the funding you need.

One way to start to virtually open doors to many different student loans and scholarships for single mothers is by filling out and submitting the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). This can help determine sources of financial aid such as Pell Grant, Cal Grant, scholarships and low interest student loans. After submitting your FAFSA you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) which includes the answers you put in your FAFSA but will also include your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a measurement of your financial strength, and is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. The school you are attending will use this number to figure out how much aid you will get based on the fees associated with the school.

If you are working, discuss your intentions to return to school with your employer. Many employers have put programs in place to help pay a portion of tuition for employees provided certain criteria are met. The Wal-mart Foundation is one such example. They provide a scholarship program for employees which is very popular. Chances are if your company is a Fortune 500 company they would have similar programs. Either way, it’s worthwhile to talk with your employer about it.

Pursuing other scholarships and grants is a good idea as well. Some of these are more competitive to get than others but it can’t hurt to apply for them if you qualify. How do you find out about other grants and scholarships? Start by doing your research online and possibly making a trip to the local library. In addition, stop by the financial aid office at your community college campus and seek out assistance with the process by speaking with a financial aid officer. They can help uncover other possible options available to you.

Another option to consider is to pursue continuing your education online. Online degrees have become more popular over the last few years due to the low cost factor and the convenience of working on it on your own time in your own home. Online degrees are highly regarded, so don’t think that you are getting any less of an education by studying online. Even Yale and other top universities are offering free materials online.

Keep in mind that while student loans and scholarships for single mothers are available, some qualifications and eligibilities do exist and are in place to protect the funds from abuse. Nevertheless, this process is just a stepping stone to help fulfill your educational endeavors and no doubt you will reap the benefits later in life.

About the author:
Get more information on Student Loans and School Grants at

Filed under: Admissions, Applications, Banks, Career Path, College Financing, College Planning, Parental Guidance, Scholarship, single parent families, Tuition, Universities, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Check Out Study Abroad Programs In England and Ireland

By Anne Harvester

What would it be like to study Shakespeare in the college classroom, and then after class the-college-pros3be able to go see for yourself the exact location where the Old Globe Theatre has been recently unearthed by an archeology team? Or to study poetry in class, only to go visit the Lake District on the weekends, and see for yourself the places where these great poets lived and wrote about? 

What about a class in Irish drama, followed by a trip to the Aran Islands to see the area being written about? All of this is possible when you sign up to participate in study abroad programs in England and Ireland. Study abroad in England and Ireland to experience these amazing cultures first hand, and see literary and dramatic locations found no where else in the world. All of this is also a wonderful benefit for your resume when you return home, graduate from college and start your job search. Cultural immersion is the best way to learn and experience a different country, and in a study abroad in England or Ireland program you can do this in a structured setting.

England or Ireland study abroad programs are available through several different universities and other institutions of higher learning. If your schedule only allows for a short visit, summer programs offer the perfect solution for study abroad in England or Ireland. You could study during the week, and then participate in exciting off-campus weekend activities that will take you out of the classroom and allows you to visit historic sites in England, Ireland and other countries. You can take classes in British art and architecture, the British model of healthcare, theatre, as well as courses covering the museums and galleries. 

You can expect certain features when you sign up for study abroad programs in England or Ireland. You will want to ascertain that housing is provided in your fees. You will usually be offered transportation to and from the airport when you arrive and depart. Library and computer access are provided. There is also usually some type of orientation program at the beginning of your stay, so you can learn how to navigate through it. Often, discounts on Eurorail passes are offered through the educational institution as well, so you can travel more inexpensively during your free time.

England and Ireland study abroad programs offer you the chance of a lifetime to experience firsthand two of the most amazing, culturally rich countries in the world.

About the author:

Anne is director, student services and study abroad programs in England, for EuroLearn. Their Ireland study abroad program and study abroad in England program led to her experience growing in these studies.

Filed under: Campus Lifestyle, Career Path, Career Search, Classes, Graduate School, Public Service, Students, Universities, , , , , , ,


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