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Everest Academy is a ministry of Everest Family Church in Hayden. We offer freedom along with quality resources, information, activities and support to those homeschooling in Alabama. We believe that the parent has the best interests of their children at heart. We believe that the parent is the first and only teacher that a child needs. In keeping with this philosophy, we wish to be a very hands-off cover school and allow the parent to lead and guide their children in the direction and at the pace they feel is best suited to their children. We ask only for what the law requires while offering support along with quality resources to aid families in their efforts.

Dec. 3 (Deadline Nov. 26), Bham: Chanukah Festival of Lights and Southern Fried Chanukah

December 3, 2013 5:00 - 7:00 PM - Chanukah Festival of Lights and Southern Fried Chanukah. As part of Everest Studies in World Culture and Religion, we are studying Judaism in the month of December. Birmingham's Levite Jewish Community Center (LJCC) is hosting the Chanukah Festival of Lights where we will learn about Chanukah while eating Latkes and participating in a "Dreidel War." These events are free of charge and open to the public. If you would like to attend the Chanukah Festival of Lights as part of our group, please email Danielle at 4neerdowells@gmail.com by November 26.

There is also an optional "Southern Fried Chanukah" dinner on the same night. Tickets for the dinner must be purchased from the LJCC website by December 1st - $10 per adult plate, $6 per child plate. Each family is responsible for registering for the dinner on their own. http://www.bhamjcc.org/events/2013/12/03/events/festival-of-lights-southern-fried-chanukah-celebration/

3960 Montclair Rd
Birmingham, Al 35213

Huntsville: Swim Lessons


My name is Paula Smith. I will begin teaching swimming lessons for Homeschoolers at the University Fitness Center on the UAH campus in January. I have 38 years of experience in teaching swimming and hold a BS degree in Health, Physical Education and a MS degree in Exercise Physiology.  Classes are for all ages. The classes could also help teenagers get their Physical Education credits for graduation. Classes will be taught during the day. 

My cell number is 256-527-9911. Email: smith3390@aol.com

Thank you,

November iServe Project: Holiday Mail for Heroes

iServe Homeschool Service Club is for homeschoolers in the Greater Birmingham and surrounding areas who are interested in cultivating a desire to volunteer and serve in their community.

We plan hands-on service opportunities for our homeschool students, which vary by locations, dates, times, etc., according to the service opportunity coordinated, but all events will be in the Greater Birmingham area or surrounding communities in Jefferson, Shelby, St Clair, and Blount counties. We strive to coordinate opportunities for all ages, 0-99, but occasionally there will be restrictions for the venue or type of volunteering needed. 

Our November project will be making cards for the Holiday Mail for Heroes program, sponsored by the American Red Cross.
Please click on this link, iServe Club, for more details about join iServe.

Benefits of Gaming

Written Dec. 10, 2010

Let me start off by saying that I used to despise video games. They seemed like such a waste of time to me. Dalton was started at an early age playing "the game" by his grandparents and my husband. My husband has now evolved into not liking game playing time either. We have had major conflicts over the years involving issues pertaining to length of time played. As with anything else, when something starts interfering with the peace in my home, I research it. Surprisingly, I found many many studies documenting the benefits of game playing. I wrote them down as I went along.

Here is what I found:
  • Systems analysis
  • Patience (you have to accomplish "this" to make "that" happen)
  • Manual dexterity
  • Visual memory
  • Interactivity
  • Complex cultural experiences
  • Logical reasoning
  • Clearly articulated rewards
  • Decision making
  • Prioritizing
  • Trial and error
  • Scientific method = probe, hypothesis, reprobe, accept order, hypothesis
  • Immediate problems/long term objectives
  • Hierarchy of tasks
  • Rich aesthetic experiences
  • Understand and construct multidimensional characters
  • Empathy
  • Alleviate stress
  • Physical Rehab
  • Spatial vision improvement
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Problem solving by cause-and-effect
  • Sparking imagination and creativity
  • Positive effects on cognitive health
  • Quick decision-making skills
  • Strategic aptitude
  • Physical activity
  • Technology aptitude
  • Social skills
  • Improve language
  • Improve social studies
  • Improve scientific reasoning
  • Improve math skills
  • Many games are based on history, city building, and governance
  • Strong analytical ability
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased adaptability
  • Increased attention capacity
  • Fast and accurate information processing

What I have noticed in my home regarding gaming is that it is an instant-immersion adventure set in different places, situations, story lines, and times.  I have noticed that Dalton will look up the facts and compare them to the game he is playing.  The game usually has historically accurate clothing, backdrops, music, etc.  Dalton has told me that he has learned more historically accurate information from games than he ever has from books (and he has read a LOT of historical books).  I have also noticed that he uses the games as a "jumping off point" to get involved in different topics.  As Dalton has gotten older, he has started learning about computer programming "languages" and "modding" which has led him to a greater understanding of not only how to use a computer but about the inner workings of computers.  Dae has also delved into the video-gaming world.  She mostly plays on-line games such as "Toon Town", restaurant-building games, and Wii games.  She has learned a lot of real-life skills such as typing, cooking, drawing, computer skills, health information (using the Wii), reading, writing, spelling, science, history, geography, cultures, and on and on and on...

I have now restructured my thinking on video gaming and have definitely seen the many benefits.  I hope this brings some peace of mind to a frantic mom out there worried about their child(ren) playing the game "all the time"!

How Video Games Blind Us With Science - This led Steinkuehler to a fascinating and provocative conclusion: Videogames are becoming the new hotbed of scientific thinking for kids today.

Medical News Today - According to a new study inCurrent Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, regular gamers are fast and accurate information processors, not only during game play, but in real-life situations as well. 

How Video Games Are Good For the Brain:  Most games involve a huge number of mental tasks, and playing can boost any one of them. Fast-paced, action-packed video games have been shown, in separate studies, to boost visual acuity, spatial perception, and the ability to pick out objects in a scene. Complex, strategy-based games can improve other cognitive skills, including working memory and reasoning.

Live Science article on World of Warcraft and Unschooling - "We know several kids who learned to read while playing these games," Traaseth said. "If you want to classify some of the things we're doing when we play World of Warcraft, the list could include math, reading, sociology, economics, creative writing and communications."

Reading, writing and playing The Sims - Bushnell now spreads the word about how video games can help kids learn. Games, he asserts, teach you creative problem-solving. They teach you to formulate hypotheses (“First I have to get the key from the magician so I can open the door”), to test these hypotheses (“Game over”) and revise them (“Oh no, I have to drink my elixir to get to the magician!”). Games can even teach you the fundamental principles of scientific research.

BRAIN CANDY: Is pop culture dumbing us down or smartening us up? At the same time, players are required to manage a dizzying array of information and options. The game presents the player with a series of puzzles, and you can’t succeed at the game simply by solving the puzzles one at a time. You have to craft a longer-term strategy, in order to juggle and co├Ârdinate competing interests. In denigrating the video game, Johnson argues, we have confused it with other phenomena in teen-age life, like multitasking—simultaneously e-mailing and listening to music and talking on the telephone and surfing the Internet. Playing a video game is, in fact, an exercise in “constructing the proper hierarchy of tasks and moving through the tasks in the correct sequence,” he writes. “It’s about finding order and meaning in the world, and making decisions that help create that order.”

Digital Journal  The report found how teens enjoy video games: "Even when they are not playing games with others, teens talk and engage with others about games—by posting comments on discussion boards and websites or by writing reviews and walk-throughs that assist newcomers to a particular game by showing them how to play the game."

Very interesting talk on how games can change the world:

Photo by AFP

Online Gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle

Online gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle

    Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.
    The exploit is published on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where -- exceptionally in scientific publishing -- both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors.

    Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV.

    Figuring out the structure of proteins is vital for understanding the causes of many diseases and developing drugs to block them, but a microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists, though, need a 3-D picture that "unfolds" the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs.

    This is where Foldit comes in.

    Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids -- the building blocks of proteins -- using a set of online tools.

    To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks. Cracking the enzyme "provides new insights for the design of antiretroviral drugs," says the study, referring to the lifeline medication against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is believed to be the first time that gamers have resolved a long-standing scientific problem.

    "We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed," Firas Khatib of the university's biochemistry lab said in a press release. "The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems."

    One of Foldit's creators, Seth Cooper, explained why gamers had succeeded where computers had failed.
    "People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at," he said. "Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week's paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."

    Thoughts on Curriculum

    Thoughts on Curriculum

    Ahhhhh!  Curriculum!  That is the question of the day!  What should I get?  Where?  Is it expensive?  It can be...  Does it have to be?  No!  With Everest Academy, you are free to use whatever resources you would like to educate your child.  Some folks go all out and buy a whole brand new curriculum and spend a ton of money.  Some homeschoolers go to the library and spend $0 on their resources.  The choice is completely up to you!!!

    You can go all out and get all the bells and whistles...  Do I recommend that?  No!

    My rule of thumb is to NOT go out and spend a ton on curriculum.  Why?  You want your children to have the best, right?  Well, spending a ton of money does not necessarily mean you are getting the best.  It means you have spent a lot of money.  When you go out and spend a ton of money on curriculum, you feel like you have to use it...primarily because it cost a lot of money.  What if your  child hates it?  Then you are being counter productive.  Find the best resources you can find at the best cost that you can find them in order to be flexible.  When you are flexible, you can help your child love to learn.  So, what DO I suggest? 

    First of all, check out your local library.  This is my first and favorite resource.  This is ALWAYS my first stop when I am looking for a new resource.  It is a free resource that has endless possibilities.  You can virtually find everything you need here not only for subjects such as history, science, and literature, but my family has also used the library for subjects such as speed reading, sign language, typing, 10-Key, foreign language, Algebra, and on and on.  Most library systems have a library cooperative where they will send materials to your local library.  Also, check to see if your local library has a book club, teen club, crafts, tutors, and computer lessons.  Most libraries also have an area where they will sell used items such as books, magazines, CDs and movies.  I know that the Birmingham Public Library and Homewood Library both have an awesome used material area set up, and I have bought many quality resources there.  Not only do libraries carry books, they also carry books on tape, magazines, CDs, DVDs, VHS, etc... 

    Next, check out the local thrift store.  I have never been in an American's Thrift Store and not found quality educational materials and usually for under $1.  Don't just check out the book section either.  I have found the best resources in the toy department over where you find the games and puzzles.  Also, make sure to check out the magazine rack and the CDs. 
    Talk to other homeschoolers.  They are a great resource for quality educational materials.  Who wants all of those books hanging around for years?  There are usually umpteen used curriculum sales in the spring, and many homeschoolers bring materials to park day.  Don't forget to check out Ebay. 


    Don't forget to check out the boob tube...  Yes, that's right...  the T.V.  There are some great programs offered these days.  It's not just Sesame Street anymore.  You can find programming for Pre-School all the way through adult.  Check out stations such as The History Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery, etc...  Of course, I am not suggesting that all your child do is watch T.V., but what I am suggesting is looking to see what is offered and how it might benefit them.  Most channels and even individual shows offer wonderful websites, activities, and lesson plans.  Don't forget Netflix!  Netflix is a goldmine of documentaries, historical fiction, movies based on works or literature, etc...

    And finally, the Internet...  Geez, you are really missing the boat if you do not have Internet access.  You can find everything you need for a quality education for free on the Internet.  If you find a site that you have to pay for, research a little more.  You can usually find the same thing or better for free. 

    Need more guidance?

    RESCHEDULED!!! Nov. 12, Tuscumbia: Cotton Gin Tour


    Nov. 12
    Spring Valley Cotton Gin
    2240 Spring Valley Rd
    Tuscumbia, AL 35674

    This is a guided tour of an operating gin.

    Everyone needs to meet in the parking lot of the gin by 8:45 a.m. The tour will start at 9:00 a.m..

    This is a free event!

    Please email darlakayhicks@aol.com if you would like to attend.

    Getting Started

    Getting Started!!!

    Okay, you have made the decision to homeschool your child. You are scared to death and wondering if you have made the right decision. What if you don't do something right? What if you don't do enough? Where do you get the curriculum? What IF you are not smart enough to teach them everything they need to know? So many "what ifs"!!!

    Let me stop you right there... 

    Let me assure you that homeschooling is not NEARLY as hard or as scary as what you are thinking it is going to be!!!

    So... You have made the great leap of faith and decided to educate your child(ren) at home? But what now? Where do you start?

    Okay, first things first.... Make sure you read, familiarize yourself, and understand Alabama State Law regarding church schooling. The main thing to know and understand is that in Alabama we do not operate under a homeschooling law.  We "church school" in Alabama, and church schooling is a completely legal option according to the Alabama State Law.

    Okay, you understand the law.... Now what?

    Find or form a support group. This is very important!!! I cannot stress it enough.  You will find so much support, information, and friendship in the right support group.

    Find or form a play group. Again, this is super important! Don't keep your kids in because they haven't finished a lesson or you are behind... This part of homeschooling is just as important as the academics... IF NOT MORE SO!!!

    Research different Homeschooling Methods. Pick and choose what is right for your family. Don't listen to negative talk. Do what you think is the best fit. Be flexible. Be flexible.  BE FLEXIBLE!!!

    Try to avoid grade-level thinking. Kids learn different things at different times. Your child might be a brilliant scientist and really stink at spelling. Does that mean they are not at grade level? No! It means they are really good at science and not so good at spelling. It will come when the time is right.

    Play and learn with your children. Talk to your children about what and how they would like to learn. Their idea of how and what they would like to learn might not be the same as your's. Listen to them and then make a decision.

    Read! Read! Read!

    Visit your local library. Make this a treat! Have fun, play in the rain, go camping, laugh, sing, dance, and learn!!!

    Nov. 11, Florence: Map & Compass Class

    Map & Compass Class

    November 11th
    9:00 a.m.
    McFarland Park in Florence

    Class info:
    - Learn how to read topographic lines and other basic features on a map.
    - Orient a map to match the environment both with and without a compass.
    - Learn basic compass features and how to utilize the map with a compass.
    - How to plot your current position on your map.
    - Use a map a compass to navigate to new locations and build confidence in your skills.

    The class will last about an hour and end with a fun treasure hunt letting the children use their skills.

    The class will be taught by fellow homeschooler, Summer McCreless. She has been an avid hiker/backpacker for many years. Summer has also previously taught Map and Compass with Alabama Outdoors and was an instructor with Outward Bound.

    Your child will need a compass similar to this.

    The cost of the class is $10 for first child and $5 for additional children.

    McFarland Park
    200 James M. Spain Dr.
    Florence, Al

    We will meet at the first pavilion on the camping side of the park. Near the restrooms.

    Contact Darlakayhicks@aol.com if you would like to attend or have any questions. Payment may also be sent via PayPal to that email address.

    Nov. 14, Gardendale: The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints Tour

    Thursday, November 14
    12:30 PM. 
    1927 Mt Olive Blvd
    Gardendale, AL 35071

    For the third month of our Studies in World Religion series we will be looking at Mormonism, also called the Latter Day Saints. We will meet at 12:30 on the Temple lawn for a picnic lunch and conversation (bring your own - lunch will NOT be provided) and then convene to the Chapel for an informative talk with Temple Elders.

    You MUST sign up for this field trip in advance by contacting Danielle Dowell at 4neerdowells@gmail.com.