Month: August 2014


How to get your kids to talk to you

Do you know what your children are thinking?  How can you listen to them and understand them if they won't open up?

Communicating with children who are tweens and teens can be like splitting hairs sometimes.  Parents want to have open discussion with their kids, but many parents nowadays didn't have that kind of communication with their own parents, so they simply did not learn the skills to effectively communicate.

In addition to parents not having the skills, some kids spend a lot of time "in the world" and the world would have them learn that parents are lame, inept, and it's completely and utterly ridiculous to speak with these adults about anything.

If those are not your issues, then perhaps your child is just going through changes that they are not comfortable discussing.  But you can help them to be comfortable with you, to trust you, and to confide in you.

Our director, Dianne McLean, says "One of the worst mistakes that we as parents make with our children as they get older is to give them so much space that they no longer feel comfortable confiding in us or being around us.  They need us just as involved during the teenage years than any other time – because they are rapidly changing and it can be conflicting and confusing."  Don't send your kids out to the world for answers – be their advocate and mentor!

It's important to listen to your children, to understand what they dream about, their passions, their goals.  In this way, you can guide them.  Listening is one of the most important elements to parenting, and many of us just need some direction on how to do that better.

We get so many requests from parents who want to understand their children, that we invited Thom Neil to present on this very topic of communication in our series – the 2014 Not Back to School Summit.  With 30 speakers and more than 65 sessions, there was truly something for everyone.

Thom has always maintained a love of learning. Several years ago he turned his attention to public speaking and mentoring. He has had many opportunities to continue his education studying presentation, body language, and mentoring. He loves to share these gifts daily. Thom is an enthusiastic, passionate, loyal husband to Tresta and dad to eight amazing children. He introduced homeschooling to his family and has encouraged its success in their home.  Enthusiasm for life's good, passion for his family and trust in the Lord led him through the darkest of valleys including his son's liver failure and transplantation.  His experiences give him insight into the eyes of those he mentors. With his passion for learning and continued education from life, he inspires other men, women and their children to a life full of transformational learning. Thom has been mentoring and training people of all ages for over 10 years on leadership, personal connection and life transformation.

Thom presented the workshop free during the live sessions, and the replay has now been moved to our upgraded member archives (you must be logged in to view it):

The Power in Connecting — “Mentoring Your Children on Their Path”
aired Sept 23rd –

Your kids want you to listen and understand them.  You know that in order to connect, you have to listen and understand, but that’s difficult, if not impossible, if they won’t talk.  When you leave this training you will have the tools to begin conversing freely with your loved one.  You will see the clues they send you in their body language.  You will recognize with confidence their powerful traits and discover the connection between who they are and who they can become.  You will also have the skills to begin guiding them on their path.


  • The 3 magic words to get them to talk, and
  • The 5 steps of an interview (how not to make it an interrogation)
  • The 4 keys to put it all together to really connect and understand



Fun way to teach history

Is history boring for your kids?  Do they constantly whine or put their head down on the table when you are reading history books?

We've previously featured a blog post on how to engage history using family genealogy.  Since that post, we have received hundreds of emails from our subscribers expressing a desire to know more.  How do you start?

Well, the easiest way of course is to ask those who have experienced history and are still alive – grandparents and relatives are always excited to share their stories.  Children can learn stories of courage and heroic actions, stories of hardship and living through economic changes, and stories that reflect cultural and sociological cycles.

But if your relatives are no longer living or are not able to tell their stories, you can start by simply finding people who are willing to share.  You can visit a senior center or talk with elderly members of your congregation.  Or search for journals online and in county libraries.  Many counties and provinces all over the world have genealogical centers with collections of family histories as well as histories of people who lived in their county.  Read old newspapers and learn how to read microfilm of very old documents (this could turn into a fabulous lesson in old writing styles).  You can also search online, there are numerous resources for genealogy.  We like, as it has the largest archive that is not built primarily on linking out to other websites.

To give you an idea of how fascinating this method of teaching history can be, we have invited John Notgrass to present at our  2014 Not Back to School Summit.  This summit was part of a collaboration of 30 speakers and more than 65 homeschool topics, all brought to you for FREE during the live sessions.  The live sessions have ended, but you can still catch the replays of all the speakers by upgrading to Plus membership.

John Notgrass is a disciple of Christ, husband, father, and businessman. Since 2003 he has encouraged people through story and song to make a difference in the world for God’s kingdom. John and his wife Audra, both homeschool graduates, live in the St. Louis area with their son Henry. Henry has three siblings who are with Jesus, which makes his parents long for heaven even more.  John is the son of Charlene and Ray Notgrass, founders of the very popular Notgrass history and art curriculum.  Ray and Charlene also spoke during the 2014 Not Back to School Summit.

Ray Notgrass holds a bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degrees in history and religion. He is the author of homeschool curricula for high school students: Exploring America, Exploring World History, Exploring Government, and Exploring Economics. Ray and his wife, Charlene, homeschooled their children for twenty years, and are now enjoying their role as grandparents.  Charlene Notgrass is the author of popular history, civics, and art curriculum; and she encourages homeschooling mothers through speaking at conventions, one-on-one counseling, and her daily blog. Charlene and her husband, Ray, live in Middle Tennessee and enjoy spending time with their family.

In John's presentation, he actually dressed in character and told his grandfather's story of World War II in first person.  His presentation description is as follows (you will need to be logged in to watch it):

One Soldier's Story: A Tennessean in World War II  –
aired Sept 29th –

John's grandfather Wesley Notgrass (1915-2007) joined the United States Army in 1941 and served for four years, one month, and seven days in the United States and Europe during World War II. Based on his grandfather's recollections, John steps into character to share Wesley's life story in a first-person narrative, from growing up in the 1920s and 30s through his experiences during the war. The presentation is illustrated with photographs from Wesley's collection

Charlene's FREE workshop is as follows:

Homeschool Without Fear  –
aired Sept 15th –

The voices we, as homeschooling parents, hear and think we hear from other homeschoolers and the world at large can make us fearful. Worries can swallow up our confidence and even our original intention to make God’s truth the center of our homeschool. This workshop will help you remember that God equips you with everything you need to homeschool without fear.

Ray's FREE workshop is as follows:

How Christianity Changed World History  –
aired Sept 15th –

It's so obvious that we often miss it. People who follow Jesus have been changing the world for good for almost two thousand years. As Jesus changes us and changes our relationship with God, He leads us to live differently and to see the world and other people differently. Ray Notgrass surveys how people following the way of Christ have impacted the world's perceptions of morality, the value of children, business, labor, helping the poor, politics, and other areas of human society.




Teaching children to govern themselves

How do you get your kids to behave?  Parenting is very hard sometimes!

When we are constantly trying to "get" our kids to do anything, it's a struggle.  The big question is – how do we "get" them to just do things for themselves?  How can we "get" them to do the right things, do their chores, do their lessons, and be perfectly civil, all on their own?

At Home Education Council of America, we receive hundreds of emails every month from parents who are at their wits end.  Their children fight them on every task, throw fits, stomp their feet, and end up in punishment for a large percentage of their days.

If this is your home, know that you are not alone.  And know that there is help!!

Rather than try to hash out all the parenting guides and philosophies on raising children, we called in an expert to help!

Nicholeen Peck is an amazing mentor for parents.  When she speaks in our events, we get thousands of emails from people saying things such as:  "the entire dynamics of our home changed from the information we learned!"  Not kidding, it's amazing how many emails we get.  And when she speaks at homeschool conferences, her booth is crowded for hours after her seminar with people who want more from her.

So we have invited Nicholeen back for our series – the 2014 Not Back to School Summit!  The summit was a collaboration of a total of 30 speakers, and over 65 homeschool topics, which were all free for the live sessions.  The live sessions have ended however, but you can still catch all the fantastic replays by becoming an upgraded Plus member!

Nicholeen Peck is the mother of four and previous foster parent of many difficult and troubled teens. The Peck family's success with these difficult children was based upon calmness, the principles of self- government, and good communication. She has been teaching people around the world the principles of Self-Government since 1999. She has done Self-Government teaching tours in the United Kindgom and China. In 2009, Nicholeen and her family were featured in a one hour BBC documentary about parenting. She has appeared on various news shows and radio programs to discuss effective parenting. She is a popular public speaker, author of the books, Parenting a House United, Londyn LaRae Says Okay, Porter Earns A Quarter, Big Win For Quin, many magazine articles, and a blog called

Nicholeen's replays are now available for upgraded Plus members at the links below (you will need to be logged in):

CPR:  Cultural Parenting Revolution
Sept. 9th –

Have you had enough yet?  Do you feel like you are drowning some days? Parenting is hard work.  Is there any way to make it easier?  This class will take a deep look at what parenting used to look like.  What it looks like in our modern society and what it needs to look like to create the leaders we need for the future.  Let's line up all these ideas, and make new parenting choices to free our families from emotional bondage.

Teaching Self-Government for Homeschool Success
aired Sept. 24th –

If we are constantly battling our children at home, how can we create an environment to build leaders?  The most inspiring of all lessons taught in the home is that of a good parent/child relationship. There are no tricks to achieving children that govern themselves, while happily and willingly obeying the counsel of their parents.  A working family government and atmosphere of acceptance and love turns the heart of a child to his/her parents.  Don’t just parent your children; teach them the skills they need to govern themselves.  This one skill makes or breaks the homeschool environment.




Homegrown Preschoolers

Is the thought of homeschooling preschool daunting for you?

Here at Home Education Council of America, we get a constant flood of inquiries about teaching preschool.  And we've got to say that the many philosophies and methods can be as varied as the individual personalities of children themselves!

So where do you start?  How do you know which method or style is right for you or your child?  Where do you find materials?  How do you organize the learning space to maximize interest and creativity?  How do you give your child the "best" start?

These are just a few of the many questions we receive.  So we have invited Kathy Lee and Lesli Richards, two very experienced moms, to come and share with you the answers!!

Kathy H. Lee, author of The Homegrown Preschooler, 101 Easy Wacky Crazy Activities and Solutions for Early Childhood Directors, has been dedicated to the well-being of young children for over 25 years. As a former administrator and teacher, Kathy has extensive experience in the field of early childhood education. She is the homeschooling mother of seven children, both bio and adopted and enjoys sharing her journey of motherhood. A sought after speaker worldwide, Kathy is most often described as a passionate, experienced, and knowledgeable presenter. Kathy and her husband John live with their seven blessings in Canton, GA.

Lesli Richards is a humorous and engaging author and speaker with a decade of experience in homeschooling. She is the co-author of The Homegrown Preschooler with Kathy Lee. She was the keynote speaker for Classical Conversations Parent Practicums for 2011. Lesli is currently Director of Challenge B for Classical Conversations of Cumming, Georgia. She enjoys teaching her 5 children at home, and is passionate about encouraging other moms to learn right along with their kids, redeeming two generations of education at the same time!

We think you will find their presentations awesome!  This was all part of HECOA's  series – the 2014 Not Back to School Summit

The webinar replays of their presentations are now available for upgraded Plus members (you need to be logged in);

Kathy's workshop:

The Homegrown Preschooler –
aired Sept. 27th –

In this fun and creative workshop, Kathy shares how to create an amazing preschool experience for your child at home. From the latest in scientific research on child development to the organization of supplies, this information packed workshop will help you prepare your child for kindergarten and make wonderful memories along the way! This seminar is based on the book, The Homegrown Preschooler written by Kathy Lee and Lesli Richards.

Lesli's workshop:

The Classical Preschool, Building a Foundation of Wonder –
aired Sept 27th –

In this workshop, participants will learn how to nurture their preschooler’s mind and soul through play in order to prepare a firm foundation for the delights and demands of a classical education.

To register, all you need to do is register for the FREE and ONLINE summit and you will get these awesome sessions as well as 70 others, all in September!


Having Principles Conquers Fears and Doubts

Do you struggle with confidence in your ability to teach your children everything they need to know?

This is something that – in working with thousands of new and incoming homeschoolers every year – we at Home Education Council of America are very familiar with.  And most of our fears and doubts stem from the fears that the world instills in us.

The world would have us constantly evaluating whether our children compare with other children their age.  But we need to keep in mind the age old saying:  Comparison is the death of contentment!! 

As homeschoolers, we must stop comparing our children to everyone else's children.  Because comparison actually creates boundaries.  Comparison puts up walls and confines children to learning "boxes".  A 3rd grader should know "this", or a 7th grader should know "that".  But in most public and institutionalized classrooms, that which they "should" know is the limit.  Learning beyond "that" is nearly impossible and the desire to learn beyond "this" is often stifled.

It is only at that point where we stop comparing, that our children can freely learn without boundaries.

We have invited Audrey Rindlisbacher to come and discuss 7 principles to help homeschoolers feel confident and lose the fears and doubts.  Audrey conducted an amazing workshop to teach you these principles.  It was part of our September series, the 2014 Not Back to School Summit

Audrey has a classical liberal arts Bachelor's Degree and is currently pursuing a Master's of Arts in Education from Harrison Middleton University. She teaches study skills and literature at GWU. In addition to founding the Ten Boom Institute, Audrey has served on multiple boards for various organizations. She loves sharing her experiences in educating herself and her 6 children on radio and at seminars, rallies and conventions. Her current passions are running the Ten Boom Institute's FREE Video Blog- with hundreds of book reviews, helps for finding and applying principles, reading tips and great book excerpts- and launching the "Enlightened Minds Mentored Lifelong Learning" Program.

Her workshop replay is now available for upgraded Plus members (you must be logged in):

7 Homeschool Principles to Conquer Your Fears and Doubts and Feel Confident and Successful!
aired Sept 23rd –

Description: Do you ever doubt your ability to be an effective homeschool parent? Do you sometimes wonder if you're doing too much… or too little?! Principles are the answer! Stephen Covey taught, "The internalization of correct principles is the foundation upon which enduring happiness and success are based."  As in every worthwhile endeavor, living true homeschool principles will bring you confidence and success. Using a short list of principles that have worked for thousands of other homeschool families, and exploring their possible applications in your home, you will now have a gauge for success. No more doubting yourself, no more wondering if what you're doing is going to work, no more worrying about whether or not your children will turn out well. Simply live the principles and get the results!



What are the Cycles of History

Do your children understand that history has cycles?  From sociological patterns to patterns of war and peace, these cycles are not only interesting, but if you understand them you can help make changes for the better.

Understanding and being able to recognize patterns of history, you can more accurately predict outcomes.  What if those outcomes are historically not good?  What can you do to change them?  Or can you change them at all?

We have invited an excellent constitutional speaker and historian to share with the homeschool community in a 2 hour workshop, all about the cycles of history.  Her name is Jacqueline Smith, and she is one of 30 speakers who presented workshops in the September 2014 Not Back to School Summit – there were 65 sessions in all!!

This was the most amazing presentation we have ever seen on history and its cycles.  Anyone interested in history should watch this class.

Jacqueline Smith is mother to 5 beautiful children, and currently homeschools her youngest four children.  The family raises pigs, chickens, and has a bee hive on their property. Her main focus is raising her children, serving in her church and community, and raising awareness of Constitutional principles through education. Her formal education included Weber State, The University of Utah, and George Wythe University.  She is currently adjunct faculty for Monticello College, in Monticello, Utah.  Jacqueline has served as a State Delegate many times, and is the current Summit County Republican Treasurer, and member of the State Central Committee in Utah.  She served on the Freedomworks Tea Party Debt Commission in Utah, and was a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives for Utah’s 1st District in 2012.

She is an expert in the Cycles of History and generational patterns.  She believes that if people understand where we are in history, they will step up to the plate and be part of the solution.  This is our crisis and we can create a great new founding.  She looks forward to watching the new HERO generation rise up and do the right thing.  We only get one chance in every life-time to make a difference.  This is her time.  She and her husband believe that freedom can win with enough like-minded educated individuals on board.

Jacqueline taught the following workshop on cycles of history, and the webinar replay is now available for upgraded Plus members (you need to be logged in):


The Cycles of History — THIS IS A TWO HOUR CLASS
aired Sept. 20th –

History can seem boring if you don't see the bigger picture.  This class will take you on a journey through American history and show you patterns that will clearly point to what is ahead.  While we look at a small piece of history for the sake of time, this pattern can be traced back over 300 generations.  You will learn what it means to be a part of the archetype that is called the Prophet generation, the Nomad generation, the HERO generation, and the Artist generation.  You will be able to recognize the role you must play, and your children must play in the coming years. This class will prepare you mentally to be a light to those around you.  It will give you real ideas to stay positive and productive during the coming crisis. You will be able to recognize leaders, or become the leaders needed in your area.  This next cycle will likely be a world event.  This class is taught from a Biblical Judeo/Christian Worldview, but other world views will be discussed briefly.

Jacqueline also taught two additional workshops which can be accessed below:

Education in America, Re-Value America
aired Sept 9th –

As a homeschooler, you understand you don't want to be part of the mainstream public education system.  Sometimes it is harder for our friends and family members to understand.  After all, most of us were educated in the public system.  This class will help give credibility to the decision you have made, as well as give you more information.  Do you really understand how much education changed since the early founding?  Come and learn why you want to teach differently, and make sure YOUR homeschool is aligned with principles that actually bring out the genius in your children, create FREEDOM again in America, and produce happy, productive citizens and families.

Financial Freedom Creates Political Autonomy
aired Sept 25th –

We will help you understand the banking system, money, and basic financial literacy.  Recognizing how wealth is created and what you can personally do to increase your own wealth with simple tools.  Know the difference between hard assets and paper (or electronic) money.  Learn how to change your thinking to an abundance mentality.  We will take a brief look at mortgages in America, and how another country saves their citizens hundreds of thousands by law, and how you can do that in America.  You will walk away from this class knowing more, and will begin to create a plan for your family.



Work at Home Balance While Homeschooling

How does a homeschooler balance teaching their children alongside working at home?

Let's face it – these are tough economic times!  Some homeschoolers have to find ways to supplement their income. Add in that some homeschoolers are single parents and have to work, and we have a group that needs support in this area.

In addition to finding the balance between lesson planning and fulfilling your job duties, there is the fact that if you communicate with clients you need some quiet area to work in for at least part of the day.  How do you shut the door and still be present for your children?

Organization plays a key role in all of this – but how do you GET organized?

What if you need to supplement your income, and you just want something that doesn't make you sell products to your friends and neighbors?  What kind of work at home opportunities are out there for homeschoolers which will allow flexibility and control of your days and your hours?

Well, we invited Heidi Totten to come and discuss all of these topics and more with the homeschool community in  the 2014 Not Back to School Summit

Heidi Totten is the owner of two businesses – Inspire the Sprouts and Launching Women, as well as a serial entrepreneur, but her main role is homeschooling her two children, ages 8 and 11.  She first felt the pull to homeschool when her son was born, but in 2007 helped start a charter school where her children attended for a couple of years until the pull was too strong.  They began their homeschool journey in early 2012 and haven't looked back.  Heidi works with multiple business owners and specializes in helping homeschoolers to get organized and get their businesses launched and under control, all while homeschooling their children!

Her webinar replay is now available for our upgraded Plus members and can be found here (you need to be logged in):

Work at Home Balance while Homeschooling
aired Sept 13th –

Running a business while homeschooling requires some serious time management!  Are tough economic times forcing your family to re-evaluate homeschooling? Are you someone who is facing the difficulty of deciding to take on work at home, or looking for some ideas on how to supplement your income, and you can’t seem to balance it all while educating your kids at the same time?  Perhaps you are thinking you are going to have to send your kids back to school in order to focus on the income?  Stop beating yourself up – you CAN work at home while educating your children.  Heidi has created a system that allows her to manage both, and is now teaching that system to other homeschooling families.  In this webinar, Heidi is going to reveal to you some genuine ideas for working at home (which are not MLM’s), setting up the work environment, and achieving that balance so that you can still keep your kids at home and provide them the top notch education and safe haven you want for them.






Power in Questions

Asking questions can give you power in any conversation.  When you ask a question, the other person is compelled to answer it.  You maintain control of the conversation as long as you continue to ask questions.

This type of conversation control is a learned skill. It doesn't come naturally, especially if we have been on the other end of the conversation for most of our lives.  Teaching our children this skill will help them in college and career interviews, in business, and should they become involved in politics (which we would hope everyone does!) this skill can be extremely powerful.

Knowledge is power, and you gain knowledge from inquiry.  If one probes deep into a topic, they can discover all sorts of useful information to help achieve goals.

Questions also increase listening ability as you prompt the other person to talk.  You learn about people by asking questions, listening, and getting closer to them.  If you are in sales, it helps you to understand their needs.  They also become more interested in you, because they see that you are interested in them.  Open questions are particularly useful, as a short question leads to a longer question.

Questions can be used to persuade.  For example, by using rhetorical questions that need no answers it can encourage the person to consider what you are saying. This is called Socratic questioning and is designed to make the other person think rather than elicit information for you.

There are many ways to ask questions, but asking the wrong questions or asking questions without listening can be damaging to relationships.

HECOA invited Israel Wayne to come and teach YOU how to teach your children the art of asking questions during the  2014 Not Back to School Summit – it was an amazing presentation!

Israel is an author and conference speaker who has a passion for defending the Christian faith and promoting a Biblical worldview. He is the author of the books Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview, Full-Time Parenting: A Guide to Family-Based Discipleship, and The Questions God Asks. He is the Director of Family Renewal, LLC ( and the site editor for  Israel is also the son of Skeet Savage, a well known pioneer in the homeschool movement.

This webinar replay is available to upgraded Plus members here (you will need to log in):

Workshop: Transform Learning Through the Art of Questions
Aired Sept 10th – 2014

Description: Whether you are a parent, seeking to motivate your reluctant learner, or you desire to break through your own limitations, you will make more progress if you learn to listen better and ask the right questions (the right way!). Learn how you can help yourself (and others) recognize hidden assumptions, and overcome obstacles, through learning the art of asking question.  This presentation includes an analysis of the art of questions from a bibilical perspective and can be applied to any faith.




Homeschool programming for kids

Have you been looking for something to teach your kids programming? 

Even if your child isn't planning to be a programmer, in today's technological world, it is essential for any business to have an online presence.  When looking for a job, employers are more likely to review the online profiles of potential candidates before making that final hiring decision.  It's essential that a candidate's profile stands out above all the rest.

As a small business owner, I can tell you that hiring people to do simple things on a website such as create a new page or a button can be expensive and take longer than it would if you just did it yourself.  Because I have learned simple coding (not extensive by any means, just a few things to make my life easier) I have saved time and money.  But in that context, I have also spent long and grueling hours in front of the computer wishing that I knew more!!  Although there are some great plug-and-play website templates available, they don't have everything to make your website function the way you want.  Understanding simple code helps!

So in September 2014, during the  2014 Not Back to School Summit, I invited Chris Yust to share with the homeschool community some cool ideas for teaching programming to kids.

Chris is a 17-year veteran of the software industry and a father of two homeschooled boys.  Chris and his wife Andrea are co-authors of eight computer programming textbooks for kids and teens.  They believe today’s students deserve fun, engaging opportunities to learn cutting-edge technical subjects – even if their parents aren’t comfortable teaching the material on their own!  Chris frequently speaks at homeschool conventions, motivating students to consider a Computer Science career.  His website is:

He conducted TWO sessions for HECOA members, and the replays of those sessions are now available for upgraded Plus members

Here are his free seminars and the links to their replay pages (you will need to be logged in as a Plus member):

Workshop: Hands-On Website Design for Kids
Aired Sept 9th –

Description: Have your kids ever asked how they can create their own web pages? This is a great introductory Computer Science topic that can be offered by nearly all families, even if you consider yourself a computer novice.  Join Chris Yust from Homeschool Programming for a discussion on how your students can quickly learn the fundamentals of HTML.  We’ll conduct a live demonstration of the simple tools and techniques that everyone can use to make their own creative websites. Let's spark a love for computers in your student!

Workshop: Bringing Computer Science to Your Classroom
Aired Sept 12th –

Description: Do your students love computers, or are they thinking about a computer career?  Do you need a high-quality computer science elective for a transcript?  How can you provide a computer science education for your students when you aren't an expert yourself?  Join us for a discussion about computer science, related college degrees, and today's high-demand software job market.  We'll show how 4th – 12th grade students can learn what makes computer software really work and even write their own computer programs, websites, and video games!