Tag Archives: parent

English as a Second Language and Homeschool

I recently heard about a local homeschool service provider who was drumming up business by claiming that those who speak English as a second language cannot homeschool their children. This person said that a parent who speaks English as a second language must pay others to provide this service.

This is someone from a small service provider not affiliated with any of the big names in charter or home education. I have left the entity unnamed on purpose. This person also claims that you must teach specific subjects under state law. Again, this is inaccurate information. At this point, I will not encourage clients to seek out this person’s services because preying on homeschool families is unacceptable, in my opinion.

I want to state clearly that any parent or guardian who would like to homeschool their children is welcome to do so under current Florida state law. Speaking English as a second language, or not at all, does not restrict this right.

If you are a parent who would like to homeschool with your child, you need the time, interest, and patience. You can teach subjects in your first language, join a co-op, join a local homeschool report group, use websites and curriculum options with DVDs, or hire a tutor, if you want to do so. This is your choice. It is not required. Remember, many people who speak English as their first language have difficulty with grammar and vocabulary and that doesn’t revoke their right to homeschool or prevent them from learning more about these topics.

The only subject you may want to spend extra time on would be language arts in English. When working on skills, don’t be afraid to learn alongside your child if you teach this subject in a language other than your first language. Many homeschool families learn together. Parents often tell me that they learned more while homeschooling their children in subjects, like science, than they ever did in school when growing up. Homeschooling is a second education for most parents, me included.

It is important for parents to know the law and what can or cannot be done. While I think most service providers have good hearts and want to help, some take advantage of clients. I want to be sure that everyone knows that speaking English as a second language while homeschooling is not against the law in Florida at this time.


The Value of Alternative Assessments

These days high stakes testing and school accountability mean that teachers, parents, and students have less room to vary lessons, tests, and proof that learning has occurred. While it is important to prevent systematic racism, which is the reason many reformers have historically given when pushing a one size fits all standards and accountability framework, it is also important to recognize that not all students will feel motivated within this framework. This is why it is highly important to provide a variety of options for showing that learning has occurred.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you are a student with special needs or a child who is not interested in pencil and paper options which are predictable and somewhat boring in the eyes of some people, then alternative assessment options will be more likely to keep you interested and to show where you have improved as well as where you still need to work on a certain concept.  After all, standardized tests do not often provide immediate information with which to inform instruction in a meaningful and emergent way. By using continuing assessment tools which often have the opportunity to change in presentation, you not only allow students to show their strengths, but a teacher or parent is more likely to quickly see gaps in learning and how to fix these gaps. The goal should be mastery, not passing a test with a C grade or higher. This makes alternative assessment options useful, interesting for the learner, and appropriate in both brick and mortar school and homeschool education models.

How do I begin?

Many people ask how to go about moving away from canned lessons and toward flexible assessments. Canned lessons can be good if they allow for flexibility when students need this. However, many times teachers must change lessons quite a bit in order to meet the needs of all learners in their care. If you must use canned lessons, don’t’ worry, you can still use flexible assessment options most of the time. You may already have some of these options written into 504 Plans or IEPs which you currently use for some students.

What does alternative assessment look like?

For example, if a student needs to give an oral report, but has anxiety, allow the student to choose a newscast style report where it is recorded first, a small group presentation, or a large group presentation. Also, give the student the option of a podium and stool in order to help support the student should he or she decide to give a live presentation.

If a student with low muscle tone needs to show you how to add with two digit numbers, don’t focus on the writing component. Instead, allow for the option to type, draw large pictures, have extra time to write numbers, use a stencil, or show using a poster board and objects glued on. This way the child can show understanding of the concept, but not be bogged down with pain in the hand due to low tone.

Sometimes gifted students, and others, become bored with the same routine. They may have a lowered attention span or refuse to complete a task due to being bored. Instead, try asking the student to create a newspaper that offers solutions to math problems like the ones through which you are currently working. Another option is to allow the student to create a physical project, like a science project or photography project, to illustrate the skill he or she must master.

The goal is not to copy the ideas listed here, but rather find options that both test a skill and allow students to do their best work without feeling as if the task is either above or below them. By adding a dash of creativity, a list of options, and allowing students to try something new, you are enabling both learning and constructive criticism which will help them to learn, grow, and succeed.

For further information

If you would like more information about education or behavior management, sign up for my email list. If you feel that a consultation would benefit you or your family, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am happy to provide advice and behavior plans in order to help your home or classroom work efficiently and in a positive manner. Remember, you can do this. 🙂


About the author

Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Melissa Packwood, M.S. Ed. is a former teacher, behavior coach, and tutor who works with families and students to help them reach their full potential in a peaceful, positive environment. Melissa’s educational experiences paired with real world experience give her a unique perspective when working with families to achieve their behavioral and educational goals.  Please contact Melissa with questions or to request services.

Phone Number : 407-712-4368

Email : lissa_kaye54@yahoo.com


10 Stress-Free Homeschool Tips

Are you new to homeschooling and feeling overwhelmed? Here are ten tips to help you find more peace and less stress during your homeschool days.

yoga stress free

Accept that homeschool is sometimes challenging.

Take breaks when you or your child feel the need.

Homeschool often takes less time during each day than other school models. Use that time to rest, have family fun, etc.

Don’t use all your cash on curriculum. With so many options available for free or second hand, you can find resources that are in your budget.

With all the saved cash from wise curriculum choices, your child can join a club, co-op, or class.

Join local groups and park day events. The support is helpful for nearly any topic.

Embrace multi-age, siblings learning together as a possibility. Sometimes children need different coursework, but sometimes you can learn as a family, regardless of age.

Take skip days. Use the time to get out and about. Visit a park, museum, science center, or go paint at the park.

Ask your children what they want to learn. You may be surprised at how quickly they pick up information when they choose the topic.

Document as you go. Take pictures of field trips and science experiments, list books read and curriculum used, and save work samples as the year goes. Keep this information in a binder. Once the year ends, you have a memory book/portfolio which will work for most state portfolio requirements and will remind you of the fun you and your child had during the year.

Parents, You Don’t Have To Give In To Children’s Demands!

You are happily shopping in the mall when you hear it. That awful screech interrupts your happy thoughts about candles and sales. You turn just in time to see a small child fling herself onto the ground and begin to cry. Well, not just cry, but scream as if she is going to die. The mom first tries to talk with the little one. Then mom becomes agitated and says sternly, “Good girls get treats, yelling and crying babies don’t!”


Maybe you think the mom is right. After all, she tried to reason with the child. The child refused to listen. “Of course the mom became stern and told the little girl what’s what”, you think to yourself. Or maybe you think that the mom should do whatever she can to hush the child even if that means giving in to demands. Why not buy the cheap toy? If they are at a mall, surely the mother has a few dollars to spare!

But wait, there is another way! Ok, I know I sound silly, but it is true. I have personally, and repeatedly, tried this method and it works!

emotions 3

What if mom knelt to the child’s area and asked how she can help? What if mom sat beside or cuddled the child having a meltdown? Neither of these behaviors is giving in to a child’s demands for toys, candy, or whatever else may be a trigger. However, both of these options allow the child time to feel big emotions, calm down when as the emotions pass with help from the adult, and find a resolution even if that resolution is a firm “no, but your feelings and opinions are noted”.

Notice that this method does not equate to giving in to demands. A child can cry because they cannot have something and still not get that item. It is okay to validate the feeling of disappointment over being told “no”.

Who wouldn’t appreciate letting out my frustrations without being judged, punished, or made to feel as if my concerns were less valid than those of others. Why not afford the same respect and compassion to our children so they, in turn, can learn how to give respect and compassion to others?

I know it may feel strange at first, but if you consistently validate emotions, your children will not use or manipulate you. They will respect you and feel heard.

holding child hand

A child in full meltdown mode can be frustrating, nerve-wracking, and downright annoying. Remember that you can choose to take a breath, sit or kneel near the child’s level, and validate the big emotions while still being firm in your decisions. By not punishing or shaming a child for a meltdown, you are validating feelings, teaching how to accept “no” for an answer, and you model how to behave in a healthy way though you may feel frustrated.

Contact me if you would like to schedule a consultation to help you find peaceful ways to work with your children on behavior issues. I would love to work with you!

Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Melissa Walley Packwood, M.S. Ed. Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Get Excited About Volcanoes!

        My son, who is 5, LOVES to read about Earth’s constant changes. One of his favorite books discusses ways the Earth is changing every day. Hands on activities help him understand even more about the Earth’s many parts. He has been particularly focused on volcanic action and tectonic plates lately. I wanted to take a moment to share some information, which I found helpful, with you about volcanoes. This post does contain sponsored links from Educents, but definitely has important educational information, too. Enjoy!

Creater Of Bromo Volcano, East Java, Indonesia by lkunl

Creater Of Bromo Volcano, East Java, Indonesia by lkunl

Volcano Facts for Kids

Before you jump into the volcano science experiment, share these interesting facts about volcanoes with your little learners:

  • There are about 1,900 active volcanoes on the earth. This means they have
    erupted recently or they might erupt. Some volcanoes are extinct. Over 80 volcanoes have been found in the ocean.
  • Most volcanoes happen on fault lines, or cracks in the Earth’s surface.
  • Most of the earth’s volcanoes are in the Pacific Ocean, in an area called the Ring of Fire.
  • The word “volcano” comes from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.
  • Lava from volcanoes can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Volcanoes spew out ash and toxic gases, as well as lava and lava boulders.

Volcano Science Experiment for Kids

Check out these kids use household chemicals to recreate a volcanic eruption!


Using the Volcano Kit from the video, little scientists are asked to mix chemicals to make the volcano erupt! This will be an experiment that Young Scientists will want to repeat again and again!

Want to get a discount on science experiments for kids? Save 50% on the Magic School Bus Science Kits onEducents! Offer ends 8/26.

Magic School Bus Science Kits

Get an exciting new Magic School Bus Science Kit delivered to your
every month for a YEAR! These science experiments for kids include
hands-on experiments with magnets, water, bacteria, fungus, lights, rainbows, and more!

What to do Instead of Punishment: He Called a Runner Fat @ss


I recently noticed the following screenshot in my Facebook newsfeed.

(Take it with a grain of salt since anything online could be real or a lie.)

I would feel angry, vengeful, and embarrassed if my child did this.

I would feel angry, vengeful, and embarrassed if my child did this.

Many people congratulated the mother for punishing the child. I can understand this opinion. Many said it was a good strategy to make the child run with the person he bullied because he will be in the runner’s shoes. Many said it was good not to hit the child, but that he needed punishment.

Unfortunately, this type of parenting behavior often comes from shame, anger, and embarrassment rather than from evidence-based information. Punishment is either what we think we ought to do or is our way of seeking revenge against those who upset us.

My question is this. What if you prevented this type of behavior? How can you do that? How can we avoid punishments, but foster a respectful environment?

By creating a peaceful, respectful environment from birth, you get a head start in fostering positive behaviors in children. They may stray from time to time due to influences like friends, bullies, and others. However, it is easier to lead them back to kind, safe, wise decision-making if the groundwork is paved at an early age. Use strategies like discussion, modeling wise choices, talking through your choices in the child’s presence, acting out concerning situations, and practicing decision-making skills in safe environments before heading out into environments with more variables.

What if my child does what this child did? I am a peaceful parent, but that deserves punishment!

girl megaphoneA

I agree that this behavior is not appropriate. If punishment is not an option, what could a parent do? First, forced apologies really do not foster a true feeling of remorse. Instead, stop the vehicle and have a chat with the runner if at all possible. If willing to wait for a few minutes, you can get the runner’s information in case your child chooses to apologize or, perhaps, be a workout buddy later. Feel free to ask the runner to explain how it feels to be called such a thing and make sure your child is present to hear the entire exchange even if refusing to speak or address the situation.

angry teenA

Then, take the time to address the social and emotional issue at hand. Why did the child yell this insult? Perhaps your child feels low self-esteem, heard a bully do this, or saw a television show that put down those who work out. If you find out why, then you are halfway to a solution.

Once the why is known, you can work as a team to come up with other ways to filter such thoughts so they are not expressed in a way which others find insulting and harmful. Sure, you can think anything, but acting on your thoughts is the issue at hand. Though I prefer that my children do not think of others in an insulting way, there are going to be times when they DO think this way. Feelings are okay. Thoughts are okay. Actions may or may not be okay.

I realize that many people think preteens and teens should behave as adults do. However, they often learn their negative behaviors from us. They also do not have fully developed brains, in most cases, which means they are more impulsive.

Remember, peaceful parenting is not permissive parenting. The issue absolutely needs to be addressed and follow up is necessary. Part of going out and experiencing the world is knowing society’s basic rules for behavior. I am not a huge conformist, but insults are not okay in any situation even for those of us who are non-conformists.

Be kind. Be safe. Be responsible.

I Can’t Homeschool Because….

"Thoughtful Kid Sitting In Front Of Blackboard" from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Thoughtful Kid Sitting In Front Of Blackboard” from FreeDigitalPhotos.net








“I could never homeschool because I don’t have the patience.”

I hear this, and other reasons for not homeschooling, every week. The comment above came from a person in a service industry where he works attending to patients’ needs all day so it did strike me as odd. Then again, some people do better with adults than children or better with ill people than well people.

You know what, though? Don’t let your fear or worry over what could happen dictate your choices. Maybe your concern is money, curriculum choices, or even what others will think. If you choose to use public or private school, do not let it be because of fear. Let it be because you know your limits. Choose because you know your child’s limits. Let it be because you know, not think or wonder, but know that it is the correct choice for your child. Truthfully, this can be applied to those making a choice to homeschool as well. Just don’t let fear rule the decision-making process.

I know that some people think homeschooling is the only way. I disagree. I do, however, think that until we have public schools that operate similar to home or unschool models, we will not serve all students properly. There will always be students who have needs left unmet when we use most current public and private school models. If you choose public or private school, offer to help so that the teacher has more resources and can, hopefully, have the time to attend to all learners as needed. (It is extremely difficult to “do it all”. It often burned out my co-workers. Please, please help out.)

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a homeschooler say, in essence, “I told you so” when violence breaks out at school or a public school parent say “Your kid is not going to socialize properly”, I would be rich. I kid you not. There can be judgment from all directions. What I am saying is examine the facts, not your feelings about the facts, then make a choice. Re-evaluate that choice as needed and recognize that the correct choice for one child may be different than the correct choice for a sibling. I know that you can and will succeed no matter what you choose.

If you are interested in homeschool and want more information, feel free to contact me. I am happy to answer a question or work through a consultation with you. I have more insight than those who only homeschool or only use public school because my family has done both. Also, I taught in public schools for many years.

No matter what you choose…..

"Schoolboy" from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Schoolboy” from FreeDigitalPhotos.net









Happy Learning!

I Will Hug You Whether You Like It Or Not


Many years ago I was at lunch with my coworkers and overheard a teacher discussing her parenting practices and how she shows love. It was very eye opening. She said that her child recoiled when she tried to hug or kiss him. She chalked it up to his preteen, almost teen, status. She went on to explain how she grabs and hugs him anyway. She said this is how she shows love and he needed to accept that fact. She said she would not stop even if he said no or disliked it. (Yes, she also spanked her children so there may be other factors at play here, but I am not going to discuss that in this post.)

Since that day I wondered how her son is doing. Does he respect other people’s autonomy? Does he force himself on others or did he feel so unhappy about her choices that he vowed not to do that to another human? Maybe he pushes the issue out of his mind and doesn’t deal with it at all. I have no idea.

I will say this, autonomy, ownership of self and the fact that others can say no to you, is taught by example. If we force our children to receive hugs and kisses, they will be more likely to think it is normal to force their bodies onto others. Also, the child may think it is okay to be forced into an intimate act by another. Even kind and gentle activities like hugs and kisses can turn into battery if it is done against another person’s will. (Yes, technically this can end up being an issue of rape in extreme circumstances which is why the topic is so important.)

How, then, do we show love and care for a child who does not want to be touched? How do we fulfill their need for love as well as our need to be loved? First, we have to step away from our feelings of hurt. It is not personal if a child does not want to be touched. Some people are very sensitive to touch and light or deep pressure can be a trigger. Second, find another ritual. Maybe you can do an air high five, a wink, use a word or phrase, etc. Love can be shown in ways that are mutually agreed upon instead of forced in ways not agreed upon.

This post is not meant to shame anyone. The point is that we should all take a moment to stop and think about our choices. Are we modeling the respect of autonomy? Are we thinking of others in addition to thinking of ourselves? Let us make a conscious choice to think through our actions before we take them.