Welcome to Learning is for Everyone of Tampa

LIFE of Tampa welcomes everyone, of all races, ethnicities, religions, family compositions, sexual orientations, learning styles, lifestyles, abilities and disabilities, and asks only that rules of civility, kindness and compassion be honored by all, for all.

This homepage and our online discussion group serve as an announcement and resource list for a variety of activities and events.

Visit LIFE of Florida for a great list of statewide and general learning resources.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Calling all Tampa area Mentors (That's YOU!)

Learning is for Everyone is compiling a Tampa Bay area Mentor directory – a MentorMatch, if you will, initially to support area homeschooled youth, but with the potential to help any child in Tampa simply wanting to know about something.

Our local homeschool groups are well stocked with a variety of experts, hobbyists, and professionals across a wide array of interests, abilities and fields. And while we're no doubt serving our own children well with our personal expertise, if we pooled our collective intelligences together, our kids could potentially have access to some powerful learning resources we can't achieve alone.

I'm not talking about a cooperative – although cooperatives necessarily include community expertise – but something more like a Mentoring collaborative; opportunities for apprenticeship and the tapping of insights and ideas from willing adults who have experience in areas in which our kids are interested.

I’m throwing my own name in the hat first. I’m a professional writer with more than 25 years of experience. I’m a freelance journalist for several newspapers; I’m a book author (The Food Allergy Field Guide: A Lifestyle Manual for Families); I’ve been a magazine writer (trade journals, Home Education Magazine, Life Learning and others); and as an editor (member of the editorial board of the Journal of School Choice).

Rather than running a class, which I've contemplated doing off and on (and have done in the past), I've concluded that it's not a "class" kids need when they have a particular interest, but the opportunity to spend *time* with someone who shares their interest.

Spending time with an expert mentor – once a week, once a month, for an occasional lunch out, or for a day with someone where he or she works – can:

1) Help guide interested kids in their learning and practice choices,
2) Connect them at the community level with respect to their interests,
3) Give them adult perspectives different from those in their own
4) And gives them a realistic, hands-on look at careers and interests.

Mentoring is also a more realistic way for experts to help – it's certainly less time consuming than teaching a class, it's more personal, and certainly potentially more meaningful and enduring. Just the fact that you're not working with a group, but more one on one makes it easier for kids to ask questions, and for experts to give more contextual replies and guidance.

So where am I going with all of this? I'm going to YOU.

What do you do? Whatever it is, you can rest assured that some child, somewhere in our homeschool community, is interested. If you're willing to act as a mentor to youth in our homeschool community – and you determine completely what that means with respect to your time and energy -- drop me a line with a short overview of your expertise and how you think you can help a child with your shared interest.

And think about people you know – tap them for their willingness to mentor youth. For teens, that might include a day with the mentor, or regular visits at work, or possibly apprenticeships. For younger children, you'd probably want to accompany them, or have the mentor over to your home.

We build the MentorMatch directory. You decide all the comfort levels and parameters.

And ask your kids what they'd really like to learn about, what they're interested in. You might think you know. You might not! Then post your “seeking mentor” request here.

And then we can take the whole thing even further with the online school I created recently:


Anyone can be a "faculty" member of the University of LIFE. "Courses" can be long or short – a resource list; a couple pages of instructional material about something; a paper; a how-to. You name it, and we can do it. It's extraordinarily easy to use Myicourse, and
it's completely free. I've got a rudimentary Earth Science course up there right now that you can look at . It's only the first unit, but it gives you an idea of what a course can look like.

The thing is, we can do so much more than we're doing, and we can much better utilize the human capital we've got in great abundance here.

So let me know what you think. Tell me what you do and how you can share it. Let's create a real learning *community* and set some real examples of home based learning success.

I'll take the first step: I write, and I'm happy to talk to your child about writing.

What about you?



Saturday, October 6, 2007

Florida Matters “Homeschooling” (October 5, 2007)

Recently, homeschooler Jacinta Sousa, of FL Homeschoolers, and I, and our children, were invited to be part of a WUSF radio show on homeschooling. The program aired Friday night and will air again Sunday, Oct. 6, at 10AM. You can also hear the broadcast at the WUSF-Florida Matters website . LIFE of Tampa and many other resources are posted at the show's website.


It wasn't too long ago when the idea of modern home schooling was considered to be the province of hippies and fringe groups — and perhaps a few small religious groups. Not any more. It is most definitely mainstream.

Legalized in Florida in 1985, the number of students whose home room might very well be their living room has increased by up to 2,000 a year. At last count, nearly 56,000 students were being home schooled in Florida.

So why home school a child? Does it give students an academic edge? Do they lose out on the social experience of the traditional classroom setting? We’ll meet some of those parents and students who are among this growing trend on this week’s Florida Matters. Listen now

Guests: Jacinta Sousa - whose 8-year-old daughter Audra has been home-schooled her whole life.

Terri Willingham - whose family home-schooled for 14 years. Her 14-year-old son Chris and 17-year-old daughter Andrea join us too

Cathy Russell - Home Education Specialist, Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice, Florida Department of Education

--> Join WUSF's Carson Cooper for Florida Matters Friday evening at 6:00 PM, and Sunday morning at 10 AM, on WUSF 89.7, your NPR Station.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Homeschool Cultural Appreciation Day

On behalf of FL Homeschoolers:

Join FL Homeschoolers for an interesting event! Cross-posting is encouraged!WHAT: Celebrate the melting pot that is our communities! Potluck lunchcelebrating the melting pot that is our community.BRING: Bring an ethnic dish (either your own family's ethnic recipe - or onefrom a recently studied culture); A poster board or similar presentation on theculture; Camera


October 5th - Tampa Bay area - Pinellas Park
October 15th - Okaloosa County - Ft. Walton Beach
October 24th - South FL - Miami

RSVPs & MORE INFO: http://www.freewebs.com/flhomeschoolers/octoberevent.htm

FL Homeschoolers -

Thursday, September 6, 2007

HLN College Night resources

At our most recent Home Learning Network meeting, at the Carrollwood Barnes & Noble, we went touched on a number of different resources and a lot of information. Here's a list of the essentials:

From our HLN College Night:

*Important websites:
www.FACTS.org – Get to dual enrollment info through the “Advising Manuals” link on the left
http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org - for Bright Futures and other scholarships
http://www.fafsa.ed.gov – Federal financial aid – register regardless of whether or not you think your children will qualify, and don’t forget to check out the new Academic Competitiveness Grant, open to all who are eligible for Pell Grants (which you should also request)
https://www.commonapp.org – Common Application, one application for 300 colleges using a “holistic” admissions process
http://www.fastweb.com – stay up to date on scholarships, grants, competitions and other financial awards (just don’t click on any of the magazine subscriptions!)
www.CollegeBoard.com – lots of resources in addition to testing info & registration
www.flvs.net – completely explore the Student CafĂ© and other links for parents and students to find everything from extracurricular clubs to college advising – See also http://www.flvs.net/college-hub/index.php for dates for special programs that will include representatives of state colleges and universities
http://bsi.fsu.edu/schoolimprove/studentprogression/highschgradreq.htm - Bureau of School Improvement – has student progression plans used for public ed

*Disabilities resources:

Keep track of college & university regulations/changes:

Homeschool & college email lists:
http://www.homeschool-teachers.com/College-Planning-Beyond.aspx AmericanSchool_Homeschool (American School and Homeschooling) - This group is for parents of any age children thinking about the high school years. You might be thinking of having them attend a correspondence school like "American School of Correspondence" and/or continuing to homeschool. To Subscribe, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AmericanSchool_Homeschool/.

Highschool Home-Ed - is for discussion of high school homeschooling. To Subscribe, send email to Listserv@listserv.aol.com with the following command in the body of the message: subscribe highschool-home-ed Your Name.

homeschool2college (Homeschool to College) - The SAT code for all homeschoolers is 970000, even though it will appear as New York. The ACT code is 969-999. For the PLAN (pre-ACT), the code is 979-999. The PSAT code varies by state; see the file in our Files section. If you are looking for texts and/or supplies, check out the vendors in our Links section and the "items for sale" database in the Database section. We also have links to many sources of free information. If you are looking for something in particular, you might want to check out the links, files, and database section before posting a question. To Subscribe, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homeschool2college/ .

homeschool-upper-grades - Are you homeschooling the upper grades?? feel like you are the only one? share your concerns, ideas, curriculum choices, web-sites, and info to help one another homeschool right through middle and high school. please keep posts to middle and high school topics only. To subscribe, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homeschool-upper-grades/ .

hs2coll ( Homeschooling toward college ) - A group for parents of teenaged homeschoolers who are aiming toward college. We discuss preparing to apply for college; what colleges might want; what courses, materials and curricula work for us and our kids; filling out college applications; how our older kids who are already in college are faring; particular colleges; SATs, SAT IIs, ACTs and AP tests; and other topics related to homeschooling teenagers.To Subscribe, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Hs2Coll/ .

hshs (Home Schooling High School) - A discussion list for parents homeschooling high school students, 9th-12th grade. Parents of 8th graders are welcome so they can start planning for high school. Only topics related to home schooling high school are allowed on this list. Please do not post virus warnings, advertisements, or pleas for charity. These are not appropriate for this list. For more information, visit http://www.geocities.com/cherokeegs/hshs/. To Subscribe, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hshs/ .

HSOK (HOMESCHOOLING OLDER KIDS (HS-OK)) - Welcome! Homeschooling Older Kids is a part of Eclectic Home Educators that is dedicated to homeschooling children ages 11 and up. We're inviting all homeschooling parents to join up with HSOK-Homeschooling Older Kids. For more information, visit http://ehe.4t.com/main.html To Subscribe, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HSOK/ .

NARHS_Families (High School Diploma Program) - Support for families using NARHS (North Atlantic Regional High School). Note: This group is not affiliated with NARHS. We are solely a group of parents whose children are currently enrolled/interested in NARHS. To Subscribe, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/narhs_families


Creating Carnegie Credits
From Bright Kids at Home – where you can also download transcript forms (http://www.brightkidsathome.com/upperschool.html#transcripts )

TranscriptsTranscripts may be required for college entrance or for re-entry back into the public or private school system. There is no right way or wrong to generate a transcript record, though a good rule of thumb is that transcript counts the number of hours spent or "seat time" on a subject. The idea of "seat time comes to us courtesy of the public schools and can be useful to college administrators if you are keeping transcripts in a way that is familiar and can be used to compare "apples to apples" at college admission time. One standard is the Carnegie Credit granting system which lists 120 to 150 hours of seat time on a subject. Realistically though, if you are the administrator keeping track, it really doesn't matter how many hours, as long as the subject has been mastered and you are honest and consistent in awarding credit hours.

Elements of a TranscriptTranscripts basically contain the date it was generated, the student's social security number, the name and address of the school, a tally of credit hours and descriptions of completed or in-progress courses, the student's GPA (grade point average). You calculate the credit hours based on the number of hours spent on a subject. A common measure for a credit hour is 120 hours on a topic. For example if your student reads Modern Literature for 1 hour 3 times a week (1 x 3 = 3 hours a week) and your school year is 40 weeks (3 x 40=120 total hours), you can grant your student 1 credit hour in English Literature, for the year. You calculate GPA using your credit hour numbers.

Typically, if you assigned a grade of "A" to a course that is 1 credit hour, that course earns 4 grade points. If you have 2 credit hour course where you assigned a grade of "A", the student earns 8 grade points. You do this for each course completed. Once you have assigned grade points to all courses, you total those points and divide by the number of courses to get the average or GPA. Remember to describe how you arrived at your numbers and also includea description of the course. Attach these descriptions as the last page of the transcript. A description for English Literature might look something like this:

English Literature: A study of modern literature by reading selected literature, analyzing and writing summaries for the following books: "Bridge to Terabitha" by Katherine Patterson, "The Miracle Worker" by William Gibson, "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeline Le Engle, "Around the World in 80 Days" by Jules Verne, "Park’s Quest" by Katherine Patterson, "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry, "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok, "The Diary of Anne Franke" and the "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin". ---

The Future of Bright Futures

Recent news about the potentially shakey future of Bright Futures scholarships, a popular merit based program that can pay anything from 100% of community college tuition to 100% of university tuition, has prompted area families to inquire about its status. Information is difficult to come by, but LIFE of FL suggests you inform yourself about the latest arguments pro and con (see links below) and drop Governor Crist a line (http://www.flgov.com/contact_form )with your thoughts, since he appears to be its most influential supporter:


Additional articles/discussions:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/columnists/orl-miket1407aug14,0,4172612.column (read through the comments, too)

(old – 2004, but interesting)

http://tinyurl.com/2rbjzy - even older, a 2003 rallying cry to "save
Bright Futures"

You can also visit the Board of Governors website for more information on anything related to the FL University system or additional contact information: http://www.flbog.org/ and http://www.flbog.org/BOG_regs/ to sign up for email updates regarding regulations changes.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Potential changes to college admissions requirements for homeschoolers

Homeschoolers recently noticed changes to college admissions requirements that seem to include acceptance recommendations for homeschoolers as well. Until recently, Florida Statute 1007.261 governed state university admission, specifically stating that home education students did not need to demonstrate completion of specific courses in order to be considered for admission to state colleges and universities. Thanks to some research by a local home educator, we know the following:

The full text of the original statute can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/2w6eqm

This statute was repealed in the 2007 regular legislative session, and the home education statute (1002.41) was amended as follows:

(8) Home education students are eligible for admission to stateuniversities in accordance with the policies and guidelines ofthe Board of Governors provisions of s.1007.261.Full text of the session law is here:http://election.dos.state.fl.us/laws/07laws/ch_2007-217.pdf

A 'proposal to propose' rule, titled 6C-6.002, has been located on the Florida Board of Governors website (http://www.flbog.org/bog/) that puts forth a minimum SAT score for home education students, and provides that colleges can require additional documentation from home education students. A portion of the text is below.

Information about the proposed regulation and Thursday's BOG meeting in Tampa can be found here:http://tinyurl.com/2pevs2 This rule has not been published in Florida Administrative Weekly, yet, and as far as our intrepid homeschool researcher can tell, the upcoming meeting will approve it for publication.

Snipped from Proposed 6C-6.002

Undergraduate Admission of First-time,Degree-seeking Freshmen(3) Normally a high school diploma from a Florida public or regionallyaccredited high school, or its equivalent, shall be required for admission to a state university. Students completing a home education program according to Section 1002.41, F.S., are eligible for admission; however, each university may require additional documentation to verifystudent eligibility. Students admitted under early admission in accordance with Board of Governors regulation are exempted from this requirement while they are classified as early admission students.(4)

A student applying for admission who is participating in a non-traditional high school program must present credentials equivalent to those described in regulation as judged by the individual SUS institution to which the student has applied. A student whose high school educational program is not measured in Carnegie Units mustpresent a test score of at least 1010 on the SAT I, SAT Reasoning Test Critical Reading and Mathematics portions, or the equivalent on theACT; or a combined test score of 1450 on the SAT Reasoning Test.Students with test scores from older versions of the admission test(s)may be required to retest for admission purposes.Hillsborough County.

Cathy Russell, Home Education Specialist with the Office of Independent Education, responded promptly to a Learning is for Everyone inquiry about this issue:

"...Once the board approves the intent to publish notice of the proposed regulation, that notice will be posted for 30 days on the BOG websitehttp://www.flbog.org/BOG_regs/ We'll have 14 days from posting of the notice to comment.

"The change in regulation is subtle.

"With the repeal of 1007.261,home ed students have lost the specific statutory guidelines it provided, but practically speaking the change in rule may not be significant. However, the reference to home ed in the first paragraph of the new rule (Students completing a home education program according to Section 1002.41, F.S., are eligible for admission; however, each university may require additional documentation to verify student eligibility) [seems] a little ...vague ..."

Cathy Russell
Home Education Specialist
Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice Office
Main: 850-245-0502
Office Fax: 850-245-0868
Web: www.floridaschoolchoice.org

We'll keep you posted as we learn more, and will include additional information and documentation about this issue as discussion progresses.