• 5 Basics for Homeschooling Children with Learning Disabilities

    5 Basics for Homeschooling Children with Learning Disabilities

    25 February 2014 / Challenges, Encouragement / 1 Comment

    I know by experience that homeschooling a child with learning differences or learning disabilities can be a challenge.

    One of my children had dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and a bit of childhood ADD-inattentive. Fortunately for me I had training as a counselor and my mother, Dr. Rose Kelleremann, was an educational psychologist. I had good support and lots of ideas.

    Tips for helping all kinds of learners1) Develop strengths

    God made each child to have gifts and a special place in the universe. Homeschool parents have the opportunity to help their children discover and develop these gifts. My son is creative, visual, and loves movies. His strengths are in story-writing, art, silliness, and (as we learned over time) filmmaking. In elementary school, he told and drew stories, he scribbled pictures, he reveled in silliness.

    Today, he's an education major at Lancaster Bible College. All his strengths from childhood give him sparkle in his studies.

    2) Compensate for weaknesses51VHVWYJGGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

    My son's dyslexia was a weakness because it hampered his ability to read. We worked on compensating for his weakness by using sight words instead of phonics. (Our favorite books for sight reading are Mary Manz Simon's Bible Stories.) We would read these aloud together (me reading just a little louder than him), pointing to each word as we read. We read over and over, for days, until the book (and each individual word in it) was memorized. Simon's books revisit those same words so there is much re-enforcement.

    To help with his auditory processing struggles, we found a 1904 diction book that was filled with ditties and rhymes. We memorized and said them daily, enunciating consonants carefully and emphasizing leaving space between words. Here's one of our favorites: Round and round the rugged rocks the ragged rascals ran.

    Social Skills for ChildrenHe had just enough ADD to feel awkward in social settings, so I worked with him on 10 basic social skills. (They can be found in our book Social Skills for Children- just $3.99, btw.) This paid off with his ability to employ skills and make friends at church, AWANA, karate, and co-op

    3) Use multi-sensory techniques

    We did lots multi-sensory learning. We did hands-on work with reading: making letter and word cards of glue and glitter, felt, and sandpaper. We wrote in shaving cream, finger paint, and sand. We rubber banded 4 color-makers together to write multi-colored letters and words. We sang spelling words. (We hopscotched math problems, too.) It took a long time to get the basics down.  But it clicked in around 3rd grade.

    4) Have fun

    My son specialized in silliness. We made sure to give him plenty of time for fun (this often included interrupted lessons while he and siblings made up noisy conversations between imaginary characters).

    5) Pray

    Of course. "Nuff said. (But if you'd like some encouragement look at our prayer journals- activities to help expand your prayer life.)

    To this day, my son leans into his strengths to enhance his success at college and just to have fun with his friends. Here are 2 of his You Tubes, one from his college lesson on Ralph Waldo Emerson, one with his buddy, Jake, spoofing Lord of the Rings:

  • Help your child interact well with his special needs friends

    Equipping Your Child to Interact Well With Their Special Needs Peers

    24 February 2014 / Challenges, Encouragement, News / 0 Comment

    Sabrina shared some important skills in this classic post.

    Parenting a child with special needs is no easy job, and I have the utmost respect for these parents.  I also have the responsibility to equip my own kids to understand how to appropriately interact with peers with special needs.  Here are some suggestions for helping young people become confident in reaching out to build relationships with peers who may look, sound, communicate, process information or move differently than they do.Help your child interact well with special needs peers

    *  PRAY.  One of the things we need to pray for our own kids is that they would grow in love for others, and grow in understanding those who may be confusing or frustrating to them in their flesh.  By beginning with prayer (in this endeavor, and in all things) we are going to the Source of all love, and asking Him to enlarge our children's hearts to extend love to all men.

    *  TALK AHEAD OF TIME.  Sometimes we fail to talk to our kids about physical disabilities, speech impairments, autism, developmental disabilities, or the myriad other challenges that are a part of everyday life for many individuals but may not occur in our own immediate world.  Intentionally introduce the subject of ministering in love to people with special needs in your homeschool.  Use video, books, and conversation to honestly and fearlessly explore the topic.

    Allow your kids to begin with using whatever words they need to in expressing their feelings when they think about interacting with someone with special needs.  If they say Prepare your child for positive interactions with special needs peersthings like "weird," or "scary" or "embarrassing" in this private conversational context, they are not being mean -- they have to be able to honestly articulate how they feel in their flesh in order to recognize that they need something more, something from God, in order to deal with relationships that are out of their comfort zone.  When you make it safe for them to admit that they are intimidated by certain situations, you can then lovingly show them that Christ is our strength in weakness, and that we need to ask Him to equip us to reach out in love, to change our view of people who are different than us, and to teach us to minister to them in His love.

    If I wait until a situation is unexpectedly thrust upon my child, I have done him (and the person with special needs) a great disservice.  My child needs to be equipped through conversation and research before the situation is in front of him.

    *  BE DIRECT.  Every individual with special needs is just that:  an INDIVIDUAL with special needs.  There is no cookie-cutter that can be applied to a person because of a diagnosis.  The vast majority of people with special needs appreciate direct questions like, "Is there a way that I can help with this, or do you prefer that I stay out of your way?"  Asking the parent of a child with special needs very basic questions like, "What kinds of help may I offer your child?" will do more equipping in a few moments than weeks of fumbling and fearing offense.

    If the child or parent is taken aback by your question, don't be offended.  That is simply your answer; this is a person for whom help from strangers or casual acquaintances is not desired.  Typically this type of reaction is NOT what you will get, but sometimes an individual or family is in the process of emotional adjustment to the special needs, and may not be comfortable to talk about it with you.  If you have asked the question in love, you can rest assured that you have not really offended, only offered help and been told that it is not needed at this time.Prepare your child for good interactions with a special needs peer


    *  DON'T CRINGE.  If your children are young, they are likely to ask something of a person with special needs (especially visible physical disabilities) that may make you want to cringe.  Of a person with atrophied limbs, "Why do you legs look like that?" is not an insult, it's a genuine request for information.  The person who is dealing with those atrophied limbs every moment of  every day is likely to simply answer the question.  Don't make the situation complicated by jumping in to answer for them unless they seem unwilling to answer for themselves.  Following up with a gentle word of appreciation for the information validates everyone involved.

    *  GET SPECIFIC WHEN YOU NEED TO.  An ongoing relationship (a co-op, a Sunday school class, a drama production) with someone with special needs will result in specific challenges where a solution will not be obvious.  Pray, take a deep breath, and deal with them specifically when they arise.  The longer you put off asking the awkward question or suggesting the delicate suggestion the harder it will be for everyone.

    A hygiene issue arose in a play I directed in which a teenage student on the autism spectrum was unable to process my instructions to the whole cast about being diligent in using deodorant when we were working up a sweat close to one another onstage.  (Honestly, our church sanctuary where we held rehearsals was beginning to smell like a locker room!)  I had already spoken to the parents to make sure that the student was able to use deodorant, and I knew that the parents had sent a stick in to rehearsal.  But group admonitions like, "Wow, guys, we are really work hard here and it's starting to smell like it!  May I tactfully suggest we all check our deodorant?" were lost.  The response I got was a big smile:  "I made sure I put it on when I got out of the shower!"

    Rehearsing for dramaWhat to do?  How to breathe?  The other students were struggling mightily with the situation.  I prayed, I took my student leaders in the cast aside privately and explained the new plan to them, and then I turned the challenge into a new cast-bonding activity.  In a cast meeting, I explained that as we approached opening night the sweat was getting out of control, and we would have to re-apply deodorant whenever I called for it.  Regardless of when you last put it on, it would  be an act of cast solidarity to add a little more when asked to.  My student leaders piped in with encouragement to everyone - "I make sure I shower and put on deodorant before rehearsal, and I STILL am getting smelly by the end of the first hour.  I think re-applying during rehearsal is a good idea."

    Guess what?  It worked beautifully!  "RE-APPLY!!" became a rallying cry for the cast.  I would call it out, or one of the student leaders who noticed things "going south" onstage would start it, and before you know it every member of the cast was calling it out in response, marching merrily to their duffle bags to pull out a stick of deodorant.  It was the craziest thing; what could have ostracized a student became a rallying point for everyone in the cast.

    *  ADDRESS YOUR OWN FEARS.  Sometimes we struggle to equip our kids to deal appropriately with special needs because we ourselves are uneasy or face fears of our own related to the particular disability or challenge.  Be honest with God first about your fears.  Then find someone with whom you can share honestly about your struggle.  Seek education for yourself via the internet or community resources.  Joni and Friends has fantastic resources for understanding individuals with physical disabilities.  Autism Help offers good information about spectrum disorders.

    Joni: a study guideOne VERY important book for homeschool high schoolers to read is Joni by Joni Eareckson Tada. It is the autobiography of Joni, who was confined to a wheelchair after a diving accident when she was a teenager. She shares about God's redemptive love as she encourages others with her Joni and Friends ministry. Check out our $3.99 study guide to Joni!

    What has helped you equip yourself and your homeschoolers to minister lovingly to individuals with special needs?

  • Your Average Child: ABOVE Average in God's Eyes

    Average Kids: Above Average in God's Eyes!

    23 February 2014 / Challenges, Encouragement, News / 2 Comments

    Sometimes we homeschoolers can get a little competitive: "MY kid was reading when he was 4!", "How lovely, MY kids completed algebra in 5th grade!"

    Ever heard that conversation?Average Kids: ABOVE Average in God's Eyes

    The truth is that MOST homeschoolers are normal, average kids. They won't go to Harvard, they score in the 50th-78th percentile on achievement tests. They perform well-enough in their 3Rs.

    And guess what? God created them beautiful in His eyes. He gave each child just the right IQ and just the right other talents to accomplish HIS goals for each of them.

    God doesn't need millions of homeschool Einsteins. He needs just a few of them. He need LOTS of future missionaries, artists, nurses, teachers, plumbers, soldiers, entrepreneurs, and counselors. Our homeschoolers don't need to go to Yale for that, they don't have to be top of the pyramid!

    What they do need is to:

    Search for and discover the giftings God has placed in.
    Each of our children is fearfully and wonderfully made. Since that is so, then it is an honor to God to help them find the special blessings that He has created in each child. (You can start your homeschool high schooler with a FREE look at the Introduction to High School Writingrole models God has placed in his life as guides.)

    Learn to cope with any weak area by developing  perseverance in character, specific skills that might help (such as organizational skills for homeschoolers with ADHD),  and not wasting time doing overly high-leveled curriculum in their weak areas.
    I have some helpful pins from some wonderful folks at my Homeschool Special Needs Pinterest board. Also all our literature and writing guides, AND psycholgy, human development, and philosophy have instructions on how to "level" the learning activities- from average learners to honors activities. AND no time-wasting busywork.

    Compensate by really leaning into their interests and gifts. Specialize in those areas- create projects, field trips, read books, watch educational dvds.Average Kids: ABOVE Average in God's Eyes
    Check out my Homeschool Career Exploration Pinterest board for LOTs of activities to help explore, then have some fun!
    Strive to glorify God by understanding and appreciating themselves and others.

    Can your child tell you how he was fearfully and wonderfully made? Can she explain God's love for others? Visit tomorrow for more...

    Your average kid: ABOVE average in God's eyes!

    Our friend, Connie, has a lovely post with more thoughts on this at thedaisyhead.com: Homeschool Extremes.


  • Priorities and Homeschooling

    22 February 2014 / Challenges, The Home / 0 Comment

    Here's an excerpt from our FREE download, Scheduling Backwards:

    Schoolwork. Chores. Co-ops. Part-time jobs. Sports practice. Church. Music lessons. Doctors appointments. Drama rehearsals. Parties. Errands. There's always something on those calendar squares, isn't there?

    The struggle with time  management is pretty much universal in our society. As homeschoolers, we have moved past the days when we worried about having enough opportunities for our children's social development, and now we wonder if we will ever stay home for an entire day! There are so many good activities, organizations, and events in which we can be involved.

    SCHEDULING BACKWARDS is a different way of thinking about what goes in those calendar squares. If you'd like to try a more efficient and satisfying approach to keeping your schedule on track, give these easy steps a try for a month.


    Why have I found SCHEDULING BACKWARDS to be so vital to my homeschool?

    * It puts God first.  Instead of first responding to all the screaming items on my to-do list, it forces me to first ask God for wisdom.  Did you ever stop to think about WHO is putting the items on your to-do list?  If during the night my toddler snuck in to the kitchen and found my notebook on the counter and wrote:

    "Go to the toy store and buy one of everything,"

    it would not actually be very smart for me to follow my list and complete that task in the morning.  Sometimes the things that end up written on my list have been put there by someone who has no business setting my agenda or making judgment calls for me.

    2.  It puts my soul second.  God knew what He was doing when He wired me the way He did.  He knows what balance I need of time to rest and time to work.  He knows how much alone time I need and how much time with others.  He knows what I am capable of and what is actually beyond His perfect design for my life.  His plans for me to bless others will also always be GOOD for me and my own growth as I follow after Him.  Being exhausted and frustrated is not actually a measure of our holiness!

    3.  It models important life skills for my kids.  If they see me bouncing around like I live inside a blender, they will learn to do the same.  Whatever opportunity for activity arises, they will take it without first evaluating whether it's a good use of their time and energy or not.  As parents we will not be able to set our kids' schedules and priorities forever; we need to give them the tools they need to manage time wisely for themselves.

    4.  It encourages others around me.  If I make a mess of things because I'm stretched way-too-thin, I cause a mess for other people as well.  If, instead, they see me sometimes say, "no" to some good opportunities because I have wisely counted the cost and found that it is too high, it encourages them to do the same.  Even if someone tells me, "no" when I really wanted to hear, "yes!" I will understand - and even support their decision - if I can see that it is coming from a place of wise decision-making.

    I recorded a Video Journal about Scheduling Backwards, and you can watch it here.  Can you tell I'm passionate about this topic?  :)


    Click here to download the FREE white paper Scheduling Backwards for the practical application ideas of this philosophy of time management.


    PRAYER is the NUMBER ONE MOST IMPORTANT tool for wise scheduling.  Even if you think your homeschool schedule is perfection itself, take it to the Lord for a regular check-up. Vicki's Prayer Journals 1 and 2, and Lisa Schea's devotional for those with chronic illness, God Meets Me Here, will encourage you in your prayer life.

    Click here to download these titles.

  • Actually, we are NOT in control of our homeschool outcome.

    We Homeschool; What Do You Mean I'm Not In Control of My Kid's Outcome in Life??

    17 January 2014 / Challenges, Encouragement, Homeschool Information / 0 Comment

    Homeschooling parents don't typically raise children thinking,

    "Well, I guess that'll have to do..."

    We have big dreams for success - academic and otherwise - for our kids.  We want to cultivate character even as we sculpt a high school transcript.  We long to see creativity nurtured alongside chemistry and calculus.  (Oh, and we wouldn't really mind if outsiders noticed that we're reaching these goals.)

    Dr. Seuss wrote a lovely book called If I Ran the Zoo.  Sometimes I catch myself starting to sound like Gerald McGrew, trying to create a "new zoo, McGrew Zoo," where I will explore ways to bring dreams to life, where I will discover experiences that will shape my child's character and train his mind, where I will encourage his creative fire and hone his analytical abilities. (Oh, and I will receive admiration for the unusual and delightful outcome I've achieved in my homeschool.)

    Here's a bit of wisdom from Vicki Tillman's post about homeschool outcomes:

    We all have definitions of success, and sometimes our definitions are problematic. For instance, here's my definition of success:

    All my children should grow up happy and healthy all the time, married in a Leave-it-to-Beaver-type Christian marriage, leaders in church and community, spending time in prayer and devotions, having excellent self-care and time for avocations, financially secure with fulfilling careers, homeschooling a bunch of their own perfect children.


    Problem is: I have NOOOOO control over these outcomes. Only God does!

    What if He decides a different outcome is better?

    Literature Study Guide for The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

    Corrie ten Boom lived in a world she could not control and found God's sovereignty unshaken. Click for a description of our study guide to accompany her classic book "The Hiding Place"

    So I find myself faced with a dilemma:  I can either insist on living in my own imagination (like Gerald McGrew, if he ran the zoo...) or I can be brave enough to live in the REAL homeschooling world to which God has called my family.

    The REAL homeschool world is one that struggles financially when the economy is bad, that wrestles to find its identity in Christ instead of in the things the world can see, that gets sick and weary sometimes, that doesn't always find all its citizens living in perfect harmony, that doesn't fully understand the God who really runs the zoo...um, I mean, world.

    May I close this post with another quote from Vicki?

    God knows best. He works in hard times and difficult situations. He is in the redemption business so he's not afraid of our mistakes or our kids' mistakes or the flukes of the world around us.


    Here's my vlog on the best-laid plans:




  • The best-laid plans still do not control the outcome in our homeschools.

    The Best-Laid Plans Meet Real Life

    15 January 2014 / Challenges, Encouragement / 0 Comment

    Our homeschool world has been a little hard to manage in the last month, so a re-visit of this wise post by Marilyn seemed appropriate.  Control of our families and homeschools is NOT what God has called us to.  Anxiety and exhaustion are not helpful.  Trust in God is the goal.  I hope that you will be encouraged by these words as I am! -- Sabrina

    It’s the start of a new year and people all around the world are making resolutions, devising plans and setting goals.

    Some will even follow through on them. Many will be forgotten before the month is through.

    What happens when, despite our best efforts, our resolutions, plans, and goals are thwarted?

    Perhaps you resolve to exercise daily, but slip on the ice and break your leg on day five. You might plan extended time in Bible study and prayer for the beginning of each day, but a sick child lands you sleeping in a vinyl recliner next to a hospital bed, unable to string together two coherent thoughts. You might set a goal of completing Algebra I with your child before Easter, but a family emergency interferes and you find yourself explaining the slope-intercept formula repeatedly, day after day, for several weeks. How do we respond to circumstances beyond our control?


    Prayer is the key when life is out of control.

    A prayer journal from our EBookstore can encourage you when you feel out of control.

    At such times, it helps to go back to the basics:

    1. God loves you.
    2. He has a plan for your life.
    3. God loves your children.
    4. He has a plan for each of their lives.
    5. God is not surprised by these stressful circumstances.
    6. He will never leave you, nor forsake you.

    You get the picture. God knows what you need and He knew that these circumstances were coming, so you can trust Him to help you get through them. Sometimes it’s just a day that doesn’t flow the way you expected. Sometimes a year, or several years, don’t meet your expectations. No matter what, God has it all under control.


    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5 & 6 (ESV)

  • The best plans in the world can't guarantee the homeschool year you expected.

    The Dog Ate My Planner - When Pilgrim's Progress Gets Interrupted by Life

    14 January 2014 / Challenges, Encouragement, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing / 0 Comment

    Remember Pilgrim's Progress? Pilgrim went on a journey and things kept happening that he didn't expect. Homeschooling can feel like that. I plan, my family starts out on a journey of learning and life, and before I know it things happen that I didn't expect.

    January is a good time to evaluate how the homeschool year is going and to face the interruptions that may have thrown us off the track I thought we'd follow.

    God has always encouraged His kids to stop and remember where they've come from, what they encountered along the way, and how He got them through.  Once they've taken stock, He reminds them of their destination and they get moving again, but now their focus is more firmly fixed on Him.

    Pilgrim's Progress Lit. Study Guide points to life lessons for all

    Our adaptable study guide can be used with middle school and high school students to help them draw life lessons out of Pilgrim's Progress.

    What did Pilgrim find on his journey in John Bunyan's classic allegory?  When I read this book with kids and discuss it, I have them track their own observations about Pilgrim's many challenges and the lessons that arise from each.  I try to help them take note of lessons that truly span time and culture and apply to them just as much as they did to Pilgrim and his friends. Can I do the same thing myself?

    Instead of simply looking at "Where I Thought We'd Be" vs. "Where We Really Are," take stock of the journey so far in your homeschool.

    • What challenges did you encounter unexpectedly?
    • What can you learn from those challenges about God's presence and provision for you and your family?

    If it feels like the dog ate your planner, like illness or financial crisis or learning disability or a home remodel that turned ugly have thrown your homeschool into traffic, don't despair.  Remember Pilgrim.  Remember God's loving sovereignty over you.  Take a deep breath.  Take stock. Share the lessons you are learning with those you love.

    Then take another step forward on the journey.  You will get to the end.  I promise.

    Our plans don't always work out.  It's okay, homeschool mom!

    By the way, it's okay to laugh at ourselves.



  • 4 Ways to Avoid Homeschool Animal School

    16 December 2013 / Challenges, Curricula, Electives, High School, Homeschool Information / 2 Comments


    5 Ways to Avoid Homeschool Animal SchoolThis week's topic is gifts/talents/career exploration. So, I pulled up a classic post that says it well. Join us!

    Homeschoolers remember the story of the Animal School:

    Once upon a time, the animals got together to form a school so that all their offspring would be well educated. First, they set standards so that all the students would receive a uniform, quality education. Then they set up their programs: flight class, climbing class, running class, singing class.

    The animal parents were soon dismayed to find out that their beloved child was struggling in some classes and met qualifications for an IEP. The school psychologist informed:

    -the eagle parents that while their eaglet had some hope of improvement in singing class with more tutoring, he was experiencing a statistically significant level of disability in running and climbing

    -the deer parents that their fawn was struggling in all areas except running (an area he appeared to have some mastery)

    -the cheetah parents that their cub had difficulty waiting on the rest of the students in running class and would need special compensations in singing and flying

    All children have areas that are weaknesses. It could be spelling or math or art or attention or coordination. While we all have to work to make certain our homeschoolers learn to conquer, cope, or compensate for those weaknesses, we would do well to avoid making the weaknesses the main focus of our attention.

    Instead, it is wise for homeschooling parents to help their child discover and develop his/her strengths and giftings.

    So avoid having your own animal school by:

    1) Enrich your child's experiences with creative, out-of-the box field trips5 Ways to Avoid Homeschool Animal School

    In my 20+ years of homeschooling, my kids and I (and usually our co-op or support group) have taken field trips to historic sites, wastewater treatment plants, plays, dress rehearsals for operettas, museums, dams, apple farms, state parks, beaches, big cities, re-enactments, concerts, film festivals and more. Some grossed the kids out, others were ho-hum, but some inspired my kids to explore more.

    2) Study something unusual

    If you only cover the 3R's, you may miss a gifting in your child that is waiting to be developed. My oldest son discovered his love of philosophy from a workbook his grandmother sent him, my 3rd son discovered his love of filmmaking as he watch a gazillion historical-fiction films with his history-buff next oldest brother, my second son and daughter learned to love cooking from my friend, Lois, who taught them the ropes in co-op.

    5 Ways to Avoid Homeschool Animal School3) Explore any interest

    If a child expresses an interest or shows a gifting in any area, make the development of the interest/gift part of your homeschool curriculum. When in high school, my daughter developed a passion for photography, we had her take classes at the local community college. My son who loves making music (well, ALL my kids love to make music), develops that gift by playing in 2 praise bands, singing in homeschool choir, playing with his friends and siblings, and taking courses like History of Rock.

    As your child explores, he'll probably discard some interests (mine discarded karate) and gradually clarify what he/she wants to do. These clarified gifts and interests may lead to career choices. Better to explore many things ahead of time than to send them off to college clueless.

     4) Do some active Career Exploration

    I have my high schoolers do my Career Exploration Workbook and (free) Career Exploration Questionnaire.

    I developed these years ago based on my work as a counselor (I do a fair amount of career counseling). I wanted my kids to 5 Ways to Avoid Homeschool Animal Schoolhave a Godly look at gifts, talents, experiences, values, and interests- and seeking God's will and direction. These are the topics I included in the workbook.

    It seems to me that kids make the best choices about college major and/or career if they understand what God has put inside them, how to value their experiences, how to seek His guidance, and how to choose priorities. Career Exploration Workbook and Career Exploration Questionnaire help a high schooler do this.

    Question: What are some ways you have helped your homeschooler explore gifts and interests?




  • 36 Favorite Books for Homeschool High Schoolers

    15 December 2013 / Challenges, High School, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing / 2 Comments

    I am upperclassmen advisor for our homeschool umbrella school. Each year in our advising sessions, I ask the high schoolers what their favorite books have been this last year.

    I’d like to share these with you (in case you’re out Christmas shopping and need a few books to fill out your teen’s reading list)!  (* means recommended by multiple high schoolers)

    *A Christmas Carol- Charles Dickens

    A Christmas Carol Study Guide helps

    A Kingsbury Collection by Karen Kingsbury

    Amos Fortune, Free Man- Elizabeth Yeats

    *Code Talker- Joseph Bruchac

    Cross and Switchblade- David Wilkerson

    Dragons in Our Midst series- Bryan Davis

    *Dragon’s Gate- Lawrence Yep                                                     

    Eli- Bill Myers

    Emma- Jane Austen

    *Ferenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

    *Harry Potter series- J.K. Rowling

    *Heaven is for Real- Todd Burpo                                                                                                                                                               

    *Hunger Games series- Suzanne Collins

    Left Behind series- Tim LaHaye

    *Mama’s Bank Account- Kathryn Forbes

    Man O’War- Walter Farley

    *Night- Elie Wiesle                                                                                                                       

    *Peter Pan- J.M. Barrie

    *Princess Bride- William Goldman

    *Red- Ted Dekker                                                                                   

    Redeeming Love- Francine Rivers

    Sarah’s Key- Tatiana de Rosenay

    *Screwtape Letters- C.S. Lewis

    *Sherlock Holmes- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    *Sports Series- Sigmund Brouwer (great for struggling readers)

    Tales from Shakespeare- Charles and Mary Lamb                                                                                                                                     

    *The Adventures of Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain

    *The Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis

    *The Importance of Being Ernest- Oscar Wilde

    The Pioneer series- Janet Oke

    *The Warrior Elite- Dick Couch                                                                     

    The Stranger- Albert Camus

    *To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee

    Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson

    *When Elephants Weep- Jeffrey Masson

    White Fang- Jack London


    7 Sisters has study guides for a number of books. Keep your eyes open for more coming in January, including The Chronicles of Narnia, The Confessions of St. Augustine, Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, and so much more!

    Right now you can try out some FREE downloads to help with your homeschooling: Career Exploration Questionnaire, The Christmas Carol War drama, Scheduling Backwards, Carry Each Others' Burdens... - Download them today!

    AND here's a fun, FREE, silly EP from my son and a couple of his homeschool friends:

  • Why Failures in High School Can Be a Good Thing

    22 November 2013 / Challenges, Electives, High School, Homeschool Information / 1 Comment

    bullseyeHigh School is a time for building a transcript.  Homeschoolers want a glittering record of awesome accomplishments in place by graduation.  So how come failures in high school can actually be a really GOOD thing?

    Trying things is an important part of high school, and that almost guarantees some failures along the way.  New endeavors, or new levels of commitment to something only dabbled-in before help students determine their direction for after graduation, grow as individuals, and form relationships with like-minded people.  But no one is good at everything, and no one really loves everything he or she tries.

    While teaching commitment is a priority as we build character in our children, it also needs to be okay to try something and determine that it is not for them.  We need to teach our kids the difference between quitting (because we're tired of doing something that costs us) and deciding to end something (an intentional evaluation that time and energy would be better spent elsewhere).

    Learning to choose between good and better...

    between what is a good fit for someone else but feels way out of my area of strength and calling...

    between something that can be peripheral but not a core priority for this season...

    these are life-equipping skills that our kids need to make good choices in the decades to come as well as right now.

    Even academic "failure" can be a good thing.  Most students hit a subject in high school that is a real stretch.  Especially for kids who have always found academic success near at hand, facing that first "failure" (for some of these kids they think that getting anything less than 100% is failure!) is confidence-battering.  Allowing them to perform poorly while encouraging them to do what is possible for THEM equips them to understand that they are going to struggle and do things less-than-perfectly in life, and sometimes a job barely done is truly all that is possible.  (True confession:  I totally messed up on my taxes this year and have to file an amended return.  But I did the best I could do.  Oh well!)

    I believe in hard work.  I believe in teaching our kids to stick to it when things get tough.  But I also know that my child's identity has to be tied to more than his ability to achieve whatever goal is before him.  He also needs to be able to fall short of that goal with peace and gratitude for the God who loves us all in our insufficiency.  He needs to understand how to extend grace to others when they don't hit the bullseye.

    bigstock_Woman_Praying_283487 (2)I love seeing my child succeed in high school.

    But I'm praying for the boldness to also love seeing him fail, failure with peace and with courage and with the ability to learn from it all.

    (I think I'll pray that for his mom, too.)

    What do you think?


    Human Development- written on level 2

    Human Development from a Christian Worldview

    Differences between people, varying abilities at different stages of development -- these are not just our imagination!  Studying Human Development from a Christian Worldview can be an eye-opening and life-equipping elective in high school.  Learn more about this unique and practical text in our EBookstore.

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