FREE High School Transcript Template for Your Homeschool

Need a high school transcript?  No need for a panic attack!  Here’s a fantastic, FREE template that I used with both of my recent graduates (thanks to Wendy McMillian, the creator of this time-saver, and to Heather of PEAH!)  You’ll be impressed with the clean, organized look– but even better, you’ll love the way it performs your calculations for you!  And while a grading scale is included, you can easily customize this amazing “living” document to make it work for your family.

A few tips to keep in mind as you prepare your student’s transcript:

1.  Don’t include too much information.  Textbook titles and the like may be kept in a separate record (which you may or may not need later).  Sometimes over-explaining things encourages the asking of unnecessary questions.  😉

2. Give courses official-sounding titles modeled after similar courses in (dare I say it?) public schools.  For example, don’t name a science course “Apologia Biology;” instead, type in “Biology with Labs.”  Don’t write “Excelerate SPANISH;” write “Spanish I.”  Don’t put down “Tae Kwon Do;” call it “Health and P.E.” etc.

3.  Remember to include classes that were brief in nature if it is reasonable to award some credit (semester-long courses, internships, etc. might be awarded 1/2 credit hours, for example, as opposed to a year-long course earning the student a full credit hour).

4.  List any middle school courses that are normally taken in high school so that the reviewer will know that these have been completed.  (I placed the names of a couple of classes underneath the freshman classes, denoted them as “middle school,” etc).  These do not count towards the student’s GPA but often need to be entered.

5.  Include awards, sports activities, clubs, participation in scouting, rank advancements, part-time work, internships, service projects, and similar items under “extracurricular activities.”  Be as specific as possible and provide dates (or approximations) where possible.

6.  Your transcript will flow better if you order the courses consistently (English, then math, then science, etc.) for each year the student was in high school.  By repeating the same pattern, a reviewer can more easily note the number and kind of courses for each subject area.

I hope the free transcript template is helpful to you and your family.


caryn hommel


How Stories Work With Your Brain to Help You Learn SPANISH

Are we “Wired for Story?”  A recent blog post by MaryAnn Diorio highlights author Lisa Cron’s research into this fascinating question.  The article outlines the brain-story connection and postulates that a strong cognitive response to stories is pre-programmed in our psyches.  The implications of this discovery are far-reaching and should inform our teaching in virtually every subject area!

When I first began using Comprehensible Input approaches (including storytelling, dramatization, action sequences, and gestures) to teach Spanish, the students’ performance and euphoria amazed me.  I have since observed that many programs and curricula– spanning all kinds of subject areas– owe their success to the power of stories.  We use several such programs in our own homeschool- Life of Fred, Story of the World, Memorize in Minutes: The Times Tables, I Laid an Egg on Aunt Ruth’s Head, and Themes to Remember, to name a few.  Their stories make learning (math, history, grammar, music) so enjoyable and effective!

Of course, Ms. Cron’s research aptly reveals how storytelling taps into “cognitive secrets” that explain these programs’ advances.  Her observations make perfect sense to me, in light of the response I see from my students during each of our Excelerate SPANISH lessons.  The stories and skits are their favorite part, and they help to increase retention like nothing else I’ve ever implemented in the whole of my foreign language teaching career.

Excelerate Lesson 1

The key points in Ms. Diorio’s post harmonize with my experience in many ways:

1.  Since “the brain thinks in stories” and students naturally “[want] to know what will happen next,” students who get caught up in the Excelerate SPANISH stories/skits momentarily forget that: this is all part of a foreign language class, and the words being used to tell the stories are vocabulary words, and the structures used are grammar, and this is supposed to be tedious (or at least, that’s how it generally seems in a foreign language class).  Instead, their brains are going:  I wonder what he’s going to do about that crazy guy eating his fishing worms!  Meanwhile, we’re sneaking tons of Spanish into their unsuspecting brains!

excelerate book

2.  Because “the brain is goal-oriented,” students identify with the goal(s) of the protagonist in the stories.  When this happens, students are literally buying into the scenarios!  That, my friends, is magic No “drill and kill” approach to teaching Spanish is ever going to compete with that.

Excelerate lesson 7

3.  Due to the way “the brain thinks in specifics,” the gestures that we tie into each story become a useful element of concreteness, aiding students’ comprehension.

Excelerate Lesson 11

4.  Cron says that “the brain resists change.”  In foreign language teacher-speak we call the brain’s subconscious resistance to unfamiliar language the “affective filter.”  Excelerate SPANISH stories distract the subconscious brain, keeping students so interested in the stories themselves that the affective filter falls flat.

5.  Cron points out the tendency of the brain to “continually [make] cause-and-effect relationships.”  Our short, compelling stories and skits make cause-and-effect clear.  When the story is clearly understood, the student perceives that he has an excellent grasp of it… and consequently also feels confident of his grasp of the words and structures that convey the story.  What a win-win scenario!

In the final analysis, our predilection for stories is a gift– one to treasure and one from which we may all benefit!  We are incredibly fortunate to have options that provide our homeschools with lovely, stimulating, and/or intriguing contexts to aid in our teaching, to accelerate our students’ progress, and to bring memorable delights to these precious days with our children.  I hope that Excelerate Spanish will become a favored option for your homeschool.  If you do decide to try it, please let us hear your stories!  🙂

Thank you, and many blessings to you and your family!

The Power of STORY: Charlotte Mason, Living Books, and a Lifetime of Learning

Stories allure and compel us.  The themes and struggles and victories of stories captivate our imaginations whether they are packaged in books or plays or movies or even gossip.  Good stories appeal to every generation and to every culture.  They speak to the deepest part of each of us.  They are universal!


Of course, the value of a good story extends far beyond its plot or its entertainment value.  Stories are superb vehicles for imparting wisdom and moral teachings, for drawing inferences, and for communicating timeless truths and ideals.  Parents who draw from magnificently penned tales of heroism and brilliantly conceived tragedies will find in them a ready and able partner in character training.  Which is more pleasant, sharing a meaningful story with your child, or nagging and lecturing him?

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  -Philippians 4:8b


Moreover, in a purely academic sense, stories provide a wealth of context from which to teach our students what might then be rightly termed language arts.  As home educators, we—and our children—have the freedom and luxury of partaking of a feast of eloquence consisting of masterfully written stories as fodder for our studies.  Rather than unnaturally isolating vocabulary, spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, etc. for rote or mechanical exercises, we may expect to achieve greater gains, and with fewer pains, by availing ourselves of the best works, on the most excellent themes, by the most skillful of writers!  What better way?

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”       -Albert Einstein

bk hca

Unquestionably, many great thinkers were educated with such a holistic approach and/or advocated such methods.  Charlotte Mason, the esteemed British educator whose model we aspire to incorporate within our family’s own homeschool, promoted the use of “living books.” She believed that children derive much more when presented with a rich tapestry of ideas than when laboring over tedious drills.

“Do not let the endless succession of small things crowd great ideals out of sight and out of mind.” -Charlotte Mason

bk ois

Like Miss Mason, I believe that students are more likely to be inspired by books written by single authors who are passionate about their subjects than they ever will be by those curricula which are pieced together during committee meetings with artificial and contrived benchmarks as their rule and guide.  I also believe that delight-driven learning carries our students further and offers more promise than requirements which seem to be little more than dry rigor for the sake of rigor.

Unlike Miss Mason, I have a heightened appreciation for some degree of silliness.  Now, I’m not referring to “twaddle” in the sense of dumbed-down texts, but rather a little well-placed (or well-timed) levity for the sake of firing up the limbic system.  You see, Charlotte Mason could not have known in her day what we now know in ours: that laughter enhances the learning process by reducing stress hormones, improving memory, and aiding our ability to process information.  How fortunate we are!

Excelerate Lesson 1

In keeping with these ideals, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Excelerate SPANISH.  I designed it to bring the awesome power of story to your student’s foreign language study.  To delight you with themes and situations designed to evoke smiles and laughter, not tears of boredom.  To provide you with contexts that mimic real-life contexts, using language that mimics real-life language.  And to fire up neurons in your student’s brain like no other foreign language program ever.

Ultimately, teaching kids Spanish is only a small part of the goal.  The true culmination of our students’ studies lies in their acquisition of the wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that is attached to language ability.  Our students’ proficiency in Spanish opens the vast treasures of Spanish-language literature, history, philosophy, theology, arts, and media from over 20 countries, spanning centuries and even millennia!  How is that for incorporating living books? How is that for instilling a lifetime love of learning?  What an incredible gift to award to our children!


Accelerated acquisition.



Rewards to last a lifetime.

Excelerate SPANISH.

I think you’ll like it.

Try it in your homeschool now!

90 DAY GUARANTEE Love it or your money back!

Love it or your money back!

Huge CurrClick Sale Happening NOW!

Here’s an opportunity for you to try Excelerate SPANISH at incredible savings!  It’s just what you need to get over the February blahs and throw a little something juicy into your homeschool dynamic!

Who doesn’t love double coupons?  Wait til you see the bargains we have waiting for you at CurrClick!

Single videos are offered at 40% off, plus an additional coupon code will give you yet another 10% off your purchases.

Don’t miss this “Forget Black Friday, It’s Tangerine Tuesday” sales event!

This sale will run Tuesday, March 11th-Tuesday March 18th.

Psst… the code word is “tangerinetuesday” to save that extra 10% at checkout.  Now THAT’S a secret you’ll want to share!  🙂


Please Come to the Heart for Home School Conference this Weekend!

Please register today for the conference this weekend, February 7th and 8th!  I hope to see you there!  (Psst… I have it on good authority that you may register online through Friday morning, and attendees will not be turned away at the door… but please do pre-register!)

13th Annual Winter Conference

Heart for Home School Ministries, Inc.

“Firm Foundation”

 Friday, February 7, 2014                       Saturday, February 8, 2014

Registration – 6 pm                                                  Registration – 8 am

Workshops – 6:30-9                                     Workshops – 8:30-3pm

Church of the Holy Cross

2301 W. Millbrook Rd.

Raleigh, NC 27612

Keynote Speakers

James and Tanya Dickens

Greensboro, NC


Other Speakers

Angela and Torino Armstrong                    Lamar Melson & Shanette Jones

Janice Campbell                                            Sharon Puryear

Anna Cunningham                                          Lynne M. Taylor

Lyndon Hall                                                    Deborah Watkins

Sharon Henderson                                        Mari Fitz-Wynn

Beth Herbert


Includes Kid’s Track programs (K-9th), lunch, handouts

Full Conference:

Individual       $20

Family                         $30

Single Day:

Individual       $15

Family             $25

Limited number of scholarships available

Support Groups with 5 or more attendees can become eligible for discounts.

Be sure to mention when pre-registering.



**No at the door registration**

Pre -registration ends midnight, Feb 5, 2014 (this has been changed; you now may register through Friday morning!)  click on “Events”

Use Pay Pal option or pay at the door


Call 919-872-2782

Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook, too!


Children’s Workshop Track
students grades K-8

NC Museum of Natural History presents
From the Mountain to the Sea
Grades K-8
Come travel our great state with us as we discover the diverse geography, history, economy, traditions, and culture. Join us as we visit the Mountain region where the difficult terrain was once the homes of the American Indians and t hardy settlers. We’ll discover the traditions, and industry of this part of N.C. We’ll learn how the invention of the railroad connected the Mountains to the rest of the state. Then we’ll travel to the Piedmont and learn about the farming and manufacturing that helped to make it the center of North Carolina’s government. We’ll conclude our journey with the Coastal region where we’ll learn about the Lost Colony, lighthouses, and the exciting lives of the pirates!

Mari Fitz-Wynn Mari Fitz-Wynn, Founder, Heart for Home School Ministries

FREE Workshop for Your Homeschool Support Group or Co-op!

I’d like to offer your co-op or support group a FREE workshop on teaching foreign languages in your homeschool, to benefit all families no matter which language(s) or curricula you choose! We will discuss:

1. How and why so many students fail to achieve proficiency with ordinary methods
2. What brain researchers and language acquisition experts are saying
3. Simple techniques that improve retention
4. How to provide contexts that increase appeal and enjoyment (because learning another language is AWESOME and should feel   that way!)
5. The difference between various curricula, programs and methods
6. What kinds of free/cheap resources are most beneficial
7. How you and your family can work smarter, not harder, and jump over this hurdle successfully!

I’ll be happy to give the workshop at your location (within reasonable driving distance of NC) and at your convenience. Bring your students, of course! We’ll do a few mini-lessons in Spanish to give you a better idea how the various approaches work (and feel for the students).

If you are far outside the NC area, I would be happy to meet with your group via Skype!

Please contact me by email (see “ask a question” fields on this page) to make the arrangements.  I’m here to help!

Su segura servidora,

Caryn Hommel

Homeschool co-op family pic 2012