Marianne Vanderkolk of Design Your Homeschool Talks About Technology and Homeschooling In This Exclusive Interview

Marianne Vanderkolk

The decision about whether to homeschool can be a difficult one for many parents, as Marianne Vanderkolk knows. At her website, she shares her experience and her knowledge, and has created a resource for current and future homeschooling parents.

As a homeschooling parent, you had to invest in educational tools yourself, from simple things like pencils and paper to larger items such as computers and printers. How did you fit this into the family budget?

We were aware, as all parents are, that educating our children will cost money. However, since we were not paying for school fees, we were able to channel those funds directly into learning resources in our home. We always set aside money for those expenses and the beauty of homeschooling was that whatever books or materials including programs, computers and printers – they would be beneficial to our whole family.

Is it important to keep up with changes in educational technology if you’re following a homeschool curriculum?

I am sure that children can be educated easily with excellent books, pen and paper. However, I love the opportunity that technology has opened for our children. There are so many wonderful online programs, courses, webinars, podcasts and instructional materials out there. In fact, it becomes a challenge to work out what you might choose as the options are amazing for online learning and more wonderful tools are being developed all the time!

In public schools, many students are required to use computers in the classroom by the time they’re 12 years old, and many schools are adding keyboarding classes to their requirements. How did you teach your children to type?

I think touch typing is an important skill for children to learn and we used typing courses which were interactive and fun to do as they taught skills in accuracy, speed and correct placement. I believe Typsey is a wonderful tool that many homeschooling families would love to use.  Each child can work through the courses, video lessons to become excellent typists and increase their own skill level on the computer. Personally what I think is amazing that you can import documents or use webpages as materials to build your own typing skills. Homeschooling families recognize the benefits of dictation and modeling great literature, so this is an excellent way to combine literature with improving touch typing skills. It is a fantastic  individualized program for the whole family!

Every family is different, and therefore so is every course of study. One great resource of your site is a set of tools that help parents design the curriculum that works for their children. Can you talk more about how this works?

My site has been developed as a guide for families to use. Since each family is unique, my aim is to help families work out their own goals in home educating their children, view their children as individuals with different talents and gifts and then work out materials that may suit them and their own particular home environment.  My hope is that my site will give families the courage to create their own style and enjoy the flexibility and freedom that homeschooling gives.  It takes courage to step out and be different and parents also need to be reminded of what John Holt says, “children learn from anything and everything they see.”  

I hope parents are encouraged to share the wonderful journey of home education, teaching, walking beside, cheerleading and enabling their children to become self-directed learners.

You live in Australia, which may have different regulations about education that homeschooling parents have to follow. What is your advice for parents who need to find out what rules apply where they live?

As each state varies in requirements, it is important that those who are looking to register their child for home education should contact the correct body in their own state.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments

Everything You Need To Know About April is Here

April is one of the most beloved months of the year. The weather is irresistibly pleasant, flowers are in full bloom, the sun is pleasantly warm. Hearts are filled with excitement and anticipation for the summer and we cannot but rejoice in the wonderful weather and all the opportunities it presents us with from mini excursions to picnics and trips to nearby sights and cities.

But beside being a promising month for a fresh beginning full of joy and potential, there is so much more to April that meets the eye. So let’s dig in to discover some fun facts about April!

– The oh-so-shining diamond is the birthstone for April. Perhaps the most famous birthstone poem is that by Tiffany & Co:

                        “She who from April dates her years, Diamonds shall wear, lest bitter tears. For vain repentance flow; this stone, emblem of innocence, is known.”

– If you were born in April you’re either an Aries or a Taurus.

– With flowers in full swing, it’s no surprise that the birth flowers of April are the daisy and the sweet pea!

– Apart from warm weather, April is full notable for pranks, as April 1 is April Fool’s Day. But there’s more: the whole month is Humor Month, testament to just how fun April would be if it were a person. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with April? I know I would.

– April 22 is the International Earth Day, a day full of celebrations and initiatives that focus on raising awareness on environmental issues.

– April’s name is the most appropriate one. April more likely derives from the Latin verb ‘aperire’ which mean ‘to open’, a clear reference to the act of blossoming that takes place throughout nature.

– Famous poets and artists were born in April, including English poet William Wadsworth on April 7, Leonardo da Vinci on April 15, and English literary giant, William Shakespeare, who was born on April 23 in 1564.

– Several month-long observances take place in April, including Autism Awareness Month, Rape Awareness Month, National Poetry Month, and Parkinson’s’ Disease Awareness month, observed in the US and internationally.

– April is Jazz Appreciation Month

– In the US, April is National Child Abuse Prevention month and the month for Sexual Assault Awareness.

– One of the most well-known songs about April is ‘April in Paris’ sung by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Other great songs about April are “April Showers” by Sugarland and “Sometimes it Snows in April” by Prince.

– April and July begin on the same day of the week every year.

– The famous Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912.

– The New Year in Thailand, Laos, Burma, and Cambodia is celebrated on April 13.

– Another nerdy fact about April is that the latter begins on the same day of the week as January did in the previous year. During a leap year and the year after a leap year, April’s last day is on the same day of the week as January of the previous year.


Is there a special occasion or event celebrated in April in your country? Share it with us!

Connecting Culture: This Mobile Museum Lets Students Travel The World

Mobile Museum: A Great Way to Bring Students Around the World in a Safe Way

Wikipedia: Reliable Or Not?

Elizabeth Farquhar

Just as not everything you pick up off the shelf at a bookstore or library is guaranteed to be 100% accurate, the material being published on line every day isn’t always true. Sometimes that’s because the information is out of date. Even though millions of people around the world are constantly adding and updating websites, the pace of scientific advancement and the new research being done in fields from astronomy to zoology has created an avalanche of data that even high-speed internet connections can’t always handle. However, one of the big differences between print and online resources is that updates can be done quickly and easily on the internet. Printed books and journals take time to produce and distribute. In the virtual world, correcting and republishing an encyclopedia entry is often a matter of minutes. In the real world of paper-based publications, it’s impossible to reprint hundreds of thousands of copies of an entire multi-volume set of encyclopedias every time a new piece of information about the surface of Pluto needs to be added to Volume 18 (Plants to Raymund of Tripoli). Some printed reference works haven’t even gotten around to changing their text to show Pluto’s new designation as a “minor planet” – and that decision was made by the International Astronomical Union in 2006.

Online encyclopedias like Wikipedia are frequently more accurate than printed publications, simply because of this faster updating speed. But there’s another big difference between a book in print and a book online that makes some people question Wikipedia’s accuracy and reliability. Think about this for a minute: if you’re looking at a page in a printed book, it’s obvious when someone else has changed the text. You’ll see words crossed out, notes penciled into the margins, even entire pages missing. When someone changes information in Wikipedia, those changes aren’t always obvious. Worse, since almost anyone can change almost any information, there is no guarantee that whoever made the change knows more about the topic than the original author. On the other hand, many Wikipedia entries are created and maintained by people who know a lot about the topic. For example, you’ll find updated links to eReflect’s product pages on the official eReflect Wikipedia page, as well as links to the most recent reviews and other articles that help you find out more about eReflect’s educational software.

So of the almost 5,000,000 entries (counting only the ones in English) that have been added to Wikipedia since it started in 2001, which are reliable? Most of them, say experts. The argument about Wikipedia’s reliability started not long after the website went on line, and it’s still going on today. In 1995 a study published by the journal Nature noted that Wikipedia entries were about as accurate as the entries on the same topics in the online version of one of the best-known print encyclopedias. A study in 2014 published by the online journal PLOS ONE compared Wikipedia entries on 100 common drugs with information found in a current pharmacology textbook and concluded that the Wikipedia material was almost 100% accurate.

In addition, more than 75,000 people worldwide act as knowledge editors, helping to ensure that when information is added, it’s as accurate as possible. The editors also flag information that isn’t backed up by other sources, so it’s easy to see where any gaps or inaccuracies are in the online article. In fact, when Wikipedia entries are criticized, it’s almost always due to “errors of omission” – something is missing, rather than something is wrong. The editors at Wikipedia have said from the beginning that their goal was never to be the source for all information on every topic. Instead, they want people to treat the online reference as a good starting point for more detailed research, using the many links provided by knowledgeable contributors.

The number of users making a positive contribution to the Wikipedia database is much higher than the number of people who accidentally or deliberately add incorrect material. With the editors’ help, the millions of people who keep the world’s knowledge in the global reference files maintained by Wikipedia have produced a useful, reliable, and up-to-date resource that researchers can use with confidence.

About the Author: Elizabeth Farquhar is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator of 7 Speed Reading which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.

Typesy is on different social media platform. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Googe+ for more insight tips and advice.

Check out eReflect’s Profile on Wikipedia, Youtube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Crunchbase and Training Industry as well!

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments

Have A Manifesto With Your Money & Learn More From Lance Cothern!

Lance Cothern

If time is money, then time saved is money saved. If you’re saving up for a major life investment like buying a house or paying off your student loan debt, then every little bit helps – and so does every little bit of advice on how to reach your financial goals as quickly as possible. One great resource is Money Manifesto, the website created by personal finance blogger Lance Cothern. We asked him about some of the ways that small changes can add up to big savings.

Typesy: You’ve recently paid off a huge loan, and that took years of hard work to accomplish. What would you say to people who are facing similar challenges but feel intimidated by the total amounts involved?

Don’t be intimidated by the totals or you’ll never get started. Instead, make a game plan and focus on every small win you can make. Even if it is just paying and extra $20, $50 or $100 per month toward your debt, it adds up! Then, as you can, continue adding to the amount of money you put toward extra debt payments and your debt will begin to diminish faster and faster.

Typesy: For people who were raised during the shortages of World War II, reusing and recycling and making the most of every penny spent was just a way of life. How important is it to cultivate an attitude of frugality today?

Frugality is important, but not in the way many people think. Instead of doing things you hate just to save 10 cents here or there, focus on cutting out the things you don’t care about from your life. Many people don’t realize that they don’t really care about what type of car they drive, yet they spend hundreds of dollars a month to drive it! Focus on cutting in areas you don’t care about and cutting your expenses will be easier.

Typesy: Here at eReflect, we’ve documented that people who learn to touch type can save hours of time each week. What happens when someone puts that sort of spare time into working on their finances?

When you have extra time to spend on your finances, amazing things can happen. You can find a cheaper cell phone plan, find a better insurance company with a lower rate, you can discover subscriptions that you thought you cancelled but are still paying for today. Once you’ve thoroughly gone through your finances, you can then take that time to earn extra income and achieve your goals even faster!

Typesy: One of the categories on your site is devoted to the topic of vacations. Doesn’t that go against the idea of saving money?

Even though vacations do cost money, it is important to get away from time to time, at least for me! Vacations are one thing my wife and I really enjoy, so we consciously spend money on them and cut back elsewhere to make it happen. Also, you can vacation for free if you’re disciplined with earning credit card rewards through signup bonuses.

Typesy: Now that you’ve paid off the loan and built up an emergency fund, what is your next financial goal?

Our next big financial goal is reaching financial independence. Once we have enough money invested or enough passive income to support our lifestyle indefinitely, which isn’t super luxurious, we will be able to do whatever we wish with all of our time rather than staying focused on making money. Financial independence is a long term goal, but we’re excited about the possibilities!

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments

Keyboarding Software Ultimate Typing Relaunches With New Name: Typesy 2016

eReflect unveils its rebranded touch typing software Typesy  that replaces the previous name of Ultimate Typing. The company aims to align modern-day user needs with Typesy’s focus on touch typing efficiency in schools, universities, the workplace, and at home.

Ultimate Typing is a touch typing software system used by thousands of users around the world to improve their keyboarding skills. The company behind the product, eReflect, has announced that this popular product has been rebranded as “Typesy.”

This touch typing software, which is available through the cloud, launched its latest edition for 2016 under the new name Typesy and offers a complete learning experience for its existing and new users.

Why Ultimate Typing Was Rebranded As Typesy

The rebranding of Ultimate Typing to Typesy illustrates the company’s underlying objective to establish the software as the go-to keyboarding solution for families, individuals, and schools. The new name is more memorable for its target audience and speaks more directly to the goal of the product: teaching people to improve their typing technique and speed through fun activities and games.

As a significantly more brandable name, Typesy aspires to become a leader in the education market for schools and school districts that want to prepare tomorrow’s workforce for the new tech-driven marketplace. Marc Slater, eReflect founder and managing director, said:

“With Typesy we’re looking ahead at a bright future. Typesy offers a unique learning experience for anyone who wants to improve their typing skill but has little time to do so. Our new identity better communicates our vision to offer user-friendly educational solutions and to help people save time, money, and be more efficient and professional at work. Typesy offers all these and more.”

The Perks of Typesy: Learning Anywhere, Any Time, on Any Device

Typesy is a user-friendly, interactive, and above all efficient keyboarding app. Each user is guided to improve their typing speed and technique through fun games, to track their progress effortlessly, and to share typing success on social media. It’s on the cloud so users can access it from anywhere, on any device, at any time. It’s convenience and efficiency all wrapped into a single typing tutor app.

Already, the feedback from users and the online community regarding Typesy’s rebranding has been overwhelmingly positive, notes eReflect. Users point out that they enjoy the new personality and feel of Typesy which feels more up to date with the times. Marc Slater commented on this, saying:

“The Typesy community inspires us every day. We listen to our users and what they want and expect from Typesy, and do our best to offer these features to our devoted users. The new streamlined name is one of these features.”

Improved User Experience, More Impressive Typing Skills

In terms of user experience, Typesy offers an even better learning environment than ever.

Typesy is exclusively cloud-based. With each purchase it offers access to its training and learning material for up to 5 users without extra charge. Every user can access Typesy on any device and get a personal profile for their individual training sessions.

With advanced progress and practice monitoring technology, Typesy automatically tracks and reports on the user’s progress offering feedback and a clear overview of their efforts in real time. By monitoring user practice and adapting the learning experience to the user’s needs, each person is able to improve their typing in a matter of days. Customized typing goals prompt and motivate users to keep practicing until they achieve their goals.

Despite its rebranding, Typesy will continue offering the same features and tools to its users, including its highly praised step-by-step video tutorials, its fun typing games, and the progress tracking technology that accelerates the typing mastery process. Typesy 2016 will also include its comparatively new features of social media integration and access through the cloud.

The combination of video tutorials, interactive activities, and personalized learning help learners improve their touch typing technique quickly and with little effort. Designed by touch typing experts, Typesy is now synonymous with user-friendliness. Accessible from any device, the keyboarding app makes it easy for people on the go to dedicate a few minutes every day to touch typing improvement.

Testament to its efficiency in improving touch typing skills for people of all ages, educational backgrounds, and aspirations are the numerous reviews provided by prestigious, independent organizations and software review sites.

7 Little Known Fun Facts About March Worth Knowing

If you think March has nothing special worth celebrating, just consider the following food days observed in the US and other parts of the world at this time: March is the National Celery, Flour, Peanut, Noodle and Sauce Month!

So, if you’re a fan of any of these foods, you could celebrate it with a special dinner. If frozen food is more like you, March is the national month for frozen food. Of course, this is in direct contrast to the fact that March also happens to be National Nutrition Month with initiatives, projects and events aiming to raise awareness on the importance of healthy eating, so pick your celebrations wisely!

March is also a month-long period for raising awareness on caffeine consumption.

A delicious month full of flavor and zing

If March brings to mind warmer days with more sun and less rain, then your day is just about to get better.

On March 1, it’s the National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, a day you can eat your peanut butter with a spoon right from the jar. A day later, Banana Creme Pie is celebrated, only to be followed by another tasty and fun National Day, that of Mulled Wine. March 6 greets us with National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day. But before we both start drooling on our screens, let’s see other fun facts about March.

The Vernal Equinox: The Official Start of Spring

Around March 20, the first equinox of the year takes place. During the Vernal Equinox the sun is crossing the celestial equator and on this day, the day and night have the same duration. After that, days become longer and nights shorter until the Fall Equinox around September 22, when nights start to get longer.

Famous People Born In March

From Dr Seuss to Jessica Biel and Shaquille O’Neal, March is the month many Hollywood, literature, and sports stars were born in.

Jon Bon Jovi, Albert Einstein, Bruce Willis, 007 movie spy Daniel Craig, Adam Levine, and Elton John are among the artists and actors born in March.

Reading Your Heart Out in March

March is the month of raising awareness on reading and literacy, a practice made possible and more widely known through National Reading Month observed in the US.

Often the celebrations start in classrooms with homages to Dr. Seuss and continue through family and teacher-driven events such as family literacy seminars and events, library meetings, and contests that raise awareness on the importance of motivating children to read. National Reading Month also seeks to help children understand and love reading as a form of pleasure and education.

March in other languages

March doesn’t take its name from the act of walking (or ‘marching’) but instead from the Roman god of War, Mars. And if you have ever wondered what name March goes by in other languages, wonder no more:

* Chinese (Mandarin) – Sanyuè

* French – Mars

* Italian, Spanish – Marzo

* Greek – Martios/Martis

The Notoriously Erratic Weather in March

In Old English, March was referred to as Hlyda or Lide, both which refer to the month’s loud winds and quite volatile and stormy weather.

March is a fascinating time of the year. Nature and animals wake up from hibernation and it’s the month that marks the beginning of exciting new things for many people. Are you planning something special this March?

eReflect Announces Keyboarding Software Rebranding: From Ultimate Typing to Typesy

Ultimate Typing, popular keyboarding software from eReflect, unveils a new name and a new look to better align with users’ learning goals and ambitions.

eReflect announces the rebranding of its popular typing software and app, Ultimate Typing. The typing tutor is now named “Typesy” but the software and app that lets students and professionals improve their touch typing skill and speed through interactive games, exercises, and step-by-step video tutorials is essentially unchanged.

Typesy continues to offer the features that Ultimate Typing users know and love: video tutorials that guide the learner through each touch typing activity; adaptive learning and customizable learning goals; fun, interactive games and exercises; and a user-friendly, intuitive interface that makes learning on any device easy and seamless.

The move from “Ultimate Typing” to “Typesy” was a conscious effort by eReflect to better align its keyboarding app with the demands and expectations of modern users. In part, the change in name is due to the way more and more people are accessing the typing tutor: through the mobile app. The shorter name is easier to locate on a list and display on a smaller screen, making it more efficient for the user. The name also reflects the increased emphasis on focused typing instruction, although the program’s popular video instruction courses that cover ergonomics, employment tips, and other topics related to keyboarding are still included for free with Typesy.

With its catchy and easy-to-remember name, Typesy will now better align with its market in the education industry, as its new name now more accurately voices the professionalism and efficiency of the keyboarding software. Marc Slater, managing director at eReflect commented about the launch of the Typesy brand, saying:

“We are so excited to share the news of our Ultimate Typing rebranding. After a successful three-year run with Ultimate Typing, we felt it was time to upgrade the product’s image and feel to better communicate the needs of today’s users. People interested in learning to touch type want the reassurance that the program or app they’ll invest in is efficient and user-friendly, and these are just two of Typesy’s features that the new name eloquently expresses.”

Over the years Ultimate Typing has been constantly evolving. The development team regularly enriches the typing tutor with new features. In 2015, the Typesy touch typing program became exclusively cloud-based, letting users access their profile and training material at any time, anywhere, and from any device.

“Typesy will continue offering its top-quality touch typing activities and games that thousands of users across the world have already enjoyed and learned from,” Slater added.

With up to 5 licenses per product purchase, Typesy is particularly popular with families and small businesses, as they can use the individual profiles to practice and improve typing speed and technique. With unlimited paired devices, users can access any Internet-connected device to play the typing games and activities through the app.

One of the most highly anticipated product updates in Typesy has been its transformation into a cloud-based program available both at enterprise level and as Typesy EDU for schools and other educational institutions. The cloud version is also available for for individuals and families. The cloud-based keyboarding software syncs Typesy profiles across devices, provides unlimited installs, and gives users the ability to practice in groups.

One of Typesy’s most celebrated features, its social integration with Facebook, has been proven to help users stay motivated and focused on their typing practice due to the ability the app offers to share typing milestones and achievements with friends and family.

With its new brand image and upcoming product feature expansion, Typesy 2016 aims to become the go-to solution for people who want better typing skills, and for educational organizations that want to provide students with top-level typing techniques and performance.

Typesy lets users acquire a highly desirable skill in today’s marketplace, save time and money by typing fast and accurately, and improve the essential skills that benefit their personal and professional lives. eReflect plans to continue enhancing Typesy with new features and functionalities to enable more users to acquire this skill in 2016 and beyond.

Designed by touch typing experts and using the latest learning technologies, Typesy lets users learn to touch type accurately and quickly with just a few minutes of keyboarding practice per day. Users successfully completing Typesy’ typing training are qualified for a Typing Certification and a free verification process so that they can show their typing credentials to prospective employers and schools.

Want To Be Happy? Do These 5 Simple Activities Every Morning

What does it take to be happy? The exact answer is different for everyone, but many people find that adopting “happiness-generating” habits is a good place to start. Happiness is not always something that just happens to you. It’s something you can create. Here’s how.

Express gratitude

You can multiply your happiness by showing gratitude for all the things you’re already happy and grateful for.

Your family, your house, your job, your friends. Each morning, wake up and bring to mind everything you’re grateful for, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. You’ll discover that you already have enough and that you already are enough, and that moment of realization is your day’s source of happiness!

Invest time and energy in those who matter

Happiness doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We’re social beings and we take great pleasure in socializing and engaging in activities that are challenging, new, or exciting.

Invest time and energy in your partner or spouse, your friends and family. Spending time with your loved ones is always a moment of happiness that make your stress and worries seem insignificant.

Take care of  yourself

If you want to be happier, be sure to take good care of yourself. Exercise as many days of the week as possible and stick to a healthy diet, avoiding eating out and drinking too often. Meditate to relax, work out to vent your stress and build your strength, and nurture your body with wholesome foods.

Choose the positive and promising over the sad and catastrophic

Every day is a new day. This simple premise will give you a reason to smile every single morning. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day to remind you of all the possibilities and great things that could happen that day, and every day.

Keep things simple

Don’t over-consume, don’t over-think, don’t do things without  a clear intention or end in sight.

Keeping things simple is a way to unburden your mind of unnecessary noise and make room for noble feelings: feeling of gratitude, happiness, joy and optimism.