March 26, 2017

Homeschooler Ryan Beard Performs on America’s Got Talent

Ryan Beard, a homeschooled student from Kansas City recently appeared in the auditions round for the popular TV show, America’s Got Talent. Our family enjoys watching the various talent reality shows and so far this season America’s Got Talent has been fun to watch with our son. This season is the first year for former American Idol judge, Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell), to be a judge on the show. I was one of the few people that actually enjoyed and appreciated Simon’s judging on Fox’s American Idol. He’s seemed to soften his persona a bit for this show though. It’s nice to see him smile a little more but still be real with contestants who just don’t have the talent level to be in the running for the show’s goals.

Watch the video below of Ryan’s audition where he’s got both the judges and audience rolling with laughter before he even sings his first note!

If you know of any other videos online of homeschooled kids performing on TV for any reality shows like America’s Got Talent, let us know by leaving a link to the video in the comments below.

Movie Review: The Good Lie

The Good LieIt’s late Christmas evening, there are only about 15 minutes left and this holiday will be over and it will be back to the generally normal grind of our every day lives. This holiday has been a good one, it’s our first Christmas in our new home in Tennessee and we hosted quite a number of people for a few days and it’s been a good time.

Regretfully, I was supposed to get this movie review posted earlier this week but with everything going on and the demands of the holidays, this evening was the first time we’ve really slowed down enough for us to pop in the disc and watch it with my daughter. My wife wanted to see it, but she was so exhausted, she has to take a raincheck, and I’ll be more than obliged to watch it again.

“The Good Lie”, now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD, is the story of “The Lost Boys“. No, not the vampire movie from the 80’s, this is the more horrific story of the 1000’s of refugee children that were driven away from their homeland in Sudan due to wars and fighting.

The story chronicles the experience of a small group of children who witness their village being raided, all the adults and parents are killed and their left to walk 1000’s of miles on foot across the African countryside into Ethiopa and finally Kenya for shelter and protection.

The Good Lie - Reese Witherspoon with Jeremiah

Continuing to experience loss and hardship on their journey, once they reach the refugee camp where they will live for years to come, they challenges don’t end. They eventually make it to America but continue to experience hardship.

Without giving too much of the powerful scenes of the movie away, what I will say is that this movie has stirred in me a deeper sense of compassion and hopefully a sliver of broader understanding of the challenges that people face in their lives that I may cross paths with during my normal day. I pray that after seeing this movie, I stop seeing people as just strangers that don’t look and act like me, and instead see them as people just like myself who have probably experience far more hardships and loss than I may ever comprehend seeing in my own life.

The Good Lie - Birthday Party on January 1st

Something I encourage you to remember about these children of Sudan is that when they were brought into the refugee camps, as portrayed in the movie they were given birth dates of January 1st because their actual birth dates weren’t known. When asked why January 1st, one of the characters in the film was told “because there would always be a party”. With January 1st only a few days away, please think again about this story and make a note of these children, some of which are now adults and living in America around us.

When you watch this film, I hope that your perspective gets broadened and expanded as well. What else can we do to assist those around us? Will we be willing to get involved as necessary and sometimes even challenge the standard and expected status quo of our own lives and society around us.

Prior to seeing “The Good Lie“, I had heard about the events impacting the children of Sudan, but I hadn’t seen much of it that I remember. I’ve also watched “Machine Gun Preacher”, which also chronicles the work Sam Childers did in this era of our history.

Unlike “Machine Gun Preacher”, “The Good Lie” is a film you can watch with your family. There is some language, scenes with alcohol and drug use and obviously some violence. The violence isn’t very visual or graphic other than the site of numerous dead bodies at various points in the story.

For homeschooling families like ourselves, I think this movie would be a great introduction to this period and event of history and provide various opportunities for learning and discussion with your kids about the facts of the events as they happened as well as the geography and cultural studies that could be done between the locations.

The film is now available for purchase at your favorite retailer or online. But I also have a copy to give away for a Homeschool Daddy reader as well. All you need to do is one of the following:

If you have any questions, just let us know.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this film to watch and another copy to give away to my readers for this review. Opinions and critique are my own and an honest review of the film.

A Homeschool Life on the Road

If there’s one thing our family has enjoyed as a side benefit of homeschooling our kids it’s been the increased flexibility in our schedule to travel a little more than we probably get to in any other circumstance. My challenge is that I’d like to push that effort even further, but my wife and kids aren’t of the same mind.

You see, I’d love to sell most of everything we own and just hit the road full-time and explore. Along with homeschooling our kids with the curriculum we’re already using, I can’t imagine a better education could be obtained than by literally exploring the world around you and applying what you’ve learned in all of your adventures. I’m sure it would give my kids plenty of content for the blogs they say they want to start writing of their own as well.

Sadly, I don’t see this adventure happening anytime in the near future for a variety of reasons. I think one reason that would be tough for me to get over would be the loss of the community of friends we’ve established here on the south side of Indianapolis. The majority of our family are here or within 2 hours drive of our home so we get to see them regularly. And, we’ve built a tremendous network of friendships through our local church. That would be very hard to replace with a life on the road.

Luckily for me, I can live a little vicariously through some other homeschooling dads that are on the road living their adventures and sharing their stories with the world through their websites.

Recalculating Route – The Arnold Family

Recalculating Route - The Arnold Family

First there’s the Arnold family. They are originally from Indianapolis and I found out about them through one of my employers. Jon, the dad, used to have an office in the same corporate office space in Indianapolis that I work in now. Since I found out about his story and his website, I’ve been following their family’s adventures.

As some of you already know, my family and I are planning a bit of a lifestyle change later this year by taking life on the road for a year in an RV. Even though we’ve been thinking this through for well over a year now, there remains no shortage of hurdles that could derail our plans at any moment. Some of these hurdles, like renting the house, are so big they become ironically easier to face. It’s the seemingly smaller but more sinister hurdles like fear or complacency that I believe pose the greatest threats.

You can hop in the virtual backseat with the Arnold family at Recalculating Route.

It’s A Haigood Life! – The Haigood Family

It's A Haigood Life

Next up is the Haigood family. They were originally in the St. Louis area I believe and Alan was a pastor. They were looking at a change in their calling to ministry, but wasn’t quite sure what that would entail. In the meantime, Alan decided it was time to spend both quality and quantity of time with his kids.

Finally, my life is to lead my boys. Not only do I want to honor and obey God and love, honor and serve my wife, I want to model it for them.  I don’t want what the world would consider safe and secure to become golden handcuffs that would keep me from being the dad God wants me to be.  I want to be there with them when they find a cricket, see a shooting star, ask why the sky is blue, figure out a math problem, and tell a funny story.  Now again, I’m not saying every dad should stay at home, but for me, for this time, this is my place…and I don’t want to miss a minute.

How busy do we get in life as dads doing important stuff, but still missing the more important things in life?

You can keep up with the Haigood family at It’s A Haigood Life!

Boyinks 4 Adventure – The Boyink Family

Boyinks 4 Adventure

Bringing up the rear of this little family RV caravan is the Boyink family. This is the most recent family I’ve come across experiencing the adventure of life on the road. I stumbled across their story as I read an article about them through a software company I use (Techsmith’s Snagit software is what I used to grab the screenshots of this post).

I encourage you to read the entire “Why We’re Doing This” post on the site as it probably most closely reflects my own feelings about the current state of matters. But if you don’t want to read it, here’s a little snippet:

It’s a crazy system we’ve created for ourselves – wherein we give away the best years of our lives to someone (or something) else.  We have kids but are too busy to be with them.  We buy a house and then have to work long hours to pay for it and keep it up.  We spend our most productive and creative years helping design, build and sell widgets that were the fruit of someone else’s dream.  And we do all this for years – in hopes that when we finally get to retirement age there is just enough money and just enough health and just enough life left in us to finally kick off the shackles and take complete ownership of our days.

Another family. Another adventure. Follow along with the Boyinks at Boyinks 4 Adventure.

To find even more families that are doing full-time traveling together, visit the Fulltime Families website. It’s a members saving program and website for families that full time RV, but also a great place to find more families and read more stories from the road.

Great Math Resource in CalculatorSoup.com Website

I came across a website this evening that has proven to be a very helpful resource as a dad responsible for teaching and supporting my two kids with their math education as we homeschool. I’ve been working on a bit of a review for my kids and have been using the SuperKids Math Worksheet Creator to dynamically create practice worksheets for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tasks.

One of the practice sheets I created was for long division work, but also using answers to problems with remainder values specified. This is obviously a much easier method of division in that the kids didn’t have to work through the entire problem out to a certain number of decimal places. Instead, you just specify how many times the divisor will go into the dividend evenly, then specify the remainder left over.

The challenge was that I didn’t create an answer key when I created these worksheets and I didn’t want to have work through all the problems myself to get the correct answer. I came across the CalculatorSoup.com website with a quick Google search. It allows me to specify the divisor and the dividend for each problem. It then tells me the answer, including the remainder value. It also provides step-by-step solution for that problem so I can check and verify where my kids may have been having problems in their own work.

Calculator Soup website

In the screenshot above I’ve highlighted the area where you enter the values of the problems you’re checking, and displays each line of the answer as you work towards the solution. The other highlighted area illustrates the instructions for the mathematical concept as it’s shared on the website.

I encourage you to add CalculatorSoup.com to your list of resources for your own math needs and efforts for your family.

Homeschool Daddy Joins the Teach Them Diligently Blogger Team

Homeschool Daddy Joins Teach Them Diligently Blogger Team

Since the announcement made its way into the online universe, I guessing it’s all official and I can also talk about it. I’ll be joining the folks over Teach Them Diligently by participating as a member of their Blogger Team. I was combing through my spam email account and noticed that I’d received an email from Rebecca who heads up the social media efforts for the TTD organization.

In her email she said that through the conversation in a recent Twitter party, they had identified the need to get more dads involved in the community and would like to invite me to be the first dad to participate. Whether it’s a combination of excitement or my inability to say “No” to anything related to social media, I’m super excited to be considered and offered this opportunity from the group.

I was able to attend the inaugural Teach Them Diligently conference that took place last year in Spartanburg, SC. It was a very good conference and one that went very smoothly for it being the 1st conference. From my experience and exposure to the folks behind this organization, I can tell you that I’ve been very impressed with efforts and dedication to equipping parents and families to disciple their children.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deut. 6:6-7).

I’m not sure what all will be happening with my involvement yet, but you can be sure you’ll be hearing more about it here on my blog, on Twitter, Facebook and even Google+. So be sure and connect with me in all of those places, whichever one you prefer or all of them. Also, don’t forget to connect with the Teach Them Diligently crew online as well at these location:

Monitogo Studios – LEGO Feature Film Animators

Monitogo Studios

This past weekend I was at SHEM Homeschool Convention in Springfield, MO. I was there working at the A+ TutorSoft Multi-Sensory Math Curriculum booth. Across from us was a vendor called Monitogo Studios and they were continuously busy with people stopping by their booth. The reason?… LEGOS and high-tech equipment.

You see, Monitogo Studios as I found out is a little company that jumped out of a homeschooling family, The Tulls. They’ve ventured into making clean, family-friendly movies using LEGO’s and stop-animation. Greg and his two sisters were at the booth and were very impressive as they represented their company, worked with all the kids who were intrigued with what they were doing and sharing their story with homeschoolers and their parents.

I kept waiting to find a time when they weren’t busy, any time they weren’t we seemed to be and vice-versa. So, hopefully this blog post will help me gather some more information and present it to everyone else.

I was looking for a video clip of what they’ve done so far, but couldn’t find anything on their website or YouTube channel, but I did find this video that talks about the effort after one of their shoots. 8 hours of work for 10 secs of finished animation.

They were there to try and recruit some interns to help them finish their feature length movie “Zathen and Nathan” that’s currently in production. So if you’re in the Springfield, MO area have a love for LEGO’s and a desire to get into film-making, check them out.

Something New… CHECK IT OUT!

I’ve decided I need to add a new category of posts to my site. You see, I’m regularly seeing interesting stuff as I’m involved in homeschool and going to more and more conventions. I’m regularly seeing vendors and other organizations that are doing some really cool stuff and I want to help feature them on my site.

The problem is I don’t have the time to get around and writing a full-featured post about everything cool that I see. So, instead of not ever getting around to it, or it coming months after I see it, I’m going to post and share things in short bites.

This may be websites, vendors, homeschool resources, individuals or other stuff.

So, stay tuned for a new category of posts that I’ve labeled “Check It Out”. I’ll also have a page that will feature each of these posts out on their own outside of the standard blog grouping.