Home School: General

Click on the link to download .pdf file. All home school materials are available to copy, print, and distribute freely. You may alter the contents of the file(s) to suit your educational needs. This material, in any form, may not be used for resale.

Record Keeping

In our state, the laws require home school families to maintain an academic portfolio. (We think this is a good thing.) When I started to research portfolios online I realized that some companies were charging money for a cover sheet and a few 3-ring binder tabs. Instead of purchasing the portfolio cover and table of contents, I decided to create my own. Below is a homeschool portfolio cover and a table of contents. The .pdf version cannot be modified. However, if you have MS Publisher, you can personalize this document. The colors of the Table of Contents match the 3-ring binder dividers (8 tabs) available at most office supply stores.


(a.k.a. bribery)

Ok, bribery isn’t the politically correct way to refer to motivating children, but let’s face it—a paycheck is technically bribery. How many people would really go to work every day without the ‘bribe’ of getting some cash at the end of the pay period?

Several years ago, Jill heard a great idea and modified it to work with T&T. It started with giving “Computer Money” in exchange for good behavior or chores. Jill kept the increment small (5 minutes) so the “money” could be handed out freely. As for good behavior, T&T did not always receive Computer Money—just often enough to help maintain a happy home.

As time passed, Jill needed some motivation for homeschool, so Computer Money turned into “Shelby Shillings”. Now Shelby Shillings are worth 5 minutes of computer time OR $.25 toward an item in the “Shelby Shop”. Jill stocked the Shelby Shop with a variety of items in a variety of price ranges. In addition to good behavior and chores, T&T received Shelby Shillings for superior home school work, working ahead, etc.

When shopping in the ‘real world’, there were times T or T was interested in an item from the store—so sometimes Jill would purchase it for the Shelby Shop. The pricing of items was usually the retail price rounded to the nearest quarter. Other items were coupons for new shoes, clothes, Dunkin Donuts coffee, etc.

There are times when we don’t distribute Shelby Shillings as much as others; there are also times when T,T, and now K, lose interest. However, when this happens, Jill pulls some of the ‘old’ items out of the Shelby Shop and puts in new ones. When the Shop is full of items the girls want, it is amazing how much they ‘push’ us to distribute Shillings. In 2006, Webkinz were a BIG motivator for earning Shelby Shillings (Shelby price for a Webkinz: $15 of Shelby Shillings (yes, that would be 60) Lil Kinz: $10 (40 Shelby Shillings).

Shelby Shillings have been such a hit that there is now Madden Money and T-Bills for other close friends. Both these families have made their own modifications to make the money work best for them. Here are some of our ‘rules’:

  • Shillings cannot be exchanged for USA money.
  • Shillings cannot be exchanged for Madden Money or T-Bills. (Yes, our kids have tried to use their family money to purchase items from other family shops.)
  • Items in the Home School Shop cannot be put on lay-away or purchased with ‘credit’.
  • Computer time includes Nintendo DS or other electronic games.

The reasons for the $.25 increments: As mentioned before, was to allow the money to be handed out freely, but also to assist the girls with learning a little about fractions and money. It was amazing how quickly the concept of four quarters equaling a dollar is learned.

The prices for the ‘big ticket’ items were adjusted for our then 4-year old. Her earning and saving 60 Shelby Shillings took too long and ended up being discouraging.

Below are the different versions of Shelby Shillings (money, shillings, t-bills). In addition, there are some ‘coupons’ we have created for our use. These are the .jpg versions and cannot be modified.


  • When T or T finish a workbook, a standard reward is a 50% off coupon for the Home School Shop (certain items can be excluded at Mom’s discretion.)
  • In the morning, TT&K would receive a Shelby Shilling for getting ready by a certain time.
  • Shillings were distributed when chores were done without a reminder.

Other Favorites

Beginning Readers

    (We used only Sets 1 & 2. After that TT&K wanted to read other books.)

In the early 80s, my mom saved some of the early copies of these books from going into District 150’s trash. Not only did she save the books from the trash can, she saved a set for her future grandchildren. (I was still in my teens.) Well, we are so happy she did—these books are fantastic for learning to read. TT&K used and loved them. Several of our friends have used these books to teach their children how to read and loved them as much as us.