Feeling nostalgic about why I homeschool, so here's my favorite post on it:
When I was a very young homeschool mom, I was determined to be a very good homeschool mom.
One thing I was determined to do: prepare my children for a future career. That meant Career Exploration (in gentle forms) from the earliest ages.
We'd talk about their dad's job, their grandparents' jobs, the pastors' job. We'd talk about jobs we saw on TV. We watched Mr. Rogers talk about jobs (ok, I just gave away my age).
My second son was a born storytelling, tree-climbing, lizard capturer. When he was just a wee lad, he'd come in the house from a foray into the front yard with a lizard in each hand. (I never knew how he did it.)
He especially admired reptiles (except the local rattlesnakes in our Florida woods). He was known to sit and watch the cooter turtles lay their eggs and pet the local chicken snake on its way to raid Grandmommy's hen coop. But his favorite was lizards- he 'most always had one on him.
We moved to Pennsylvania when he was starting kindergarten. One day, we were taking a lovely field trip to Longwood Gardens. As we strolled along a shady path beside the hemlock trees, my oldest 2 got into a conversation about
what they wanted to be when they grew up.
My Oldest explained something very sensible: He wanted to be a policeman in a flying car so he could swoop down on bad guys.
But Second Son had him beat. When his brother asked what he wanted to be, he quickly replied, "A LIZARD!"
He never made to lizardhood. Along the way, he became a teacher atthe university in Asan, Korea. But homeschooling gave him some time to do Career Exploration in what lizards are all about!
In case you have any kids who want to grow up and be a rat, don't miss our Study Guide to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Just $3.99- download it today.
Here's my favorite silly story from Sabrina, just for fun:
This is Economics year for my homeschooler so I was excited that I was given the chance at 2:1 Conference to review R.C. Sproul Jr's new DVD series: Economics for Everybody: Applying Biblical Principals to Work, Wealth, and the World.
As a homeschool mom who has already graduated 4 of my kids, I remember the weeping and gnashing of teeth that occurred each time economics rolled around. As far as my high schoolers were concerned, economics was the best cure they could find for insomnia. So, I'm tickled that homeschooler #5 will have the chance to work with Sproul's Economics for Everybody.
The cool thing about these DVD's, actually, is their production value. Each of the lessons is wedged in tweet-sized bites between old movie black-and-white movie clips and lots of old-timey music.They are cute and fun- and professionally presented.
While the lessons may be fun, it is amazing how much meaty information Sproul could pack into the little bites, though. The lessons are rich with useful and thought-provoking information from a very biblical worldview. Good data is presented, scripture, and solid economics is served up in a delightful format.
There are 12 lessons with this course (which comes with a study guide). Lessons 1 to 5 introduce key economic principles; Lessons 6 and 7 explain the relationships between theology, philosophy, and economics; Lessons 9 to 12 examine the application of economics in real-life systems.
Please note that this course was not designed as a stand-alone. Many homeschooling high schoolers need 1/2 credit in Economics. Economics for Everyone is designed to be part of that credit. Here is the explanation from Compass Classroom (Sproul's publisher) on how it works:Economics for Everybody is designed to be the base of a one-semester economics class for homeschool high school students. If this Scope and Sequence is followed, it will good for one-half credit in economics.The course can be used in two ways: by itself as a lighter study to introduce basic economics concepts (9th/10th graders), or used together with another economics textbook as a more in-depth study for students with worldview training (10th/11th/12th graders). If you choose to do the latter, we recommend Basic Economics, Third Edition by Carson and Cleveland. It is available at CompassClassroom.com***********A personal note: If one of the homeschooling high schoolers that I advise for my local umbrella school asked me about the Economics for Everyone + Basic Economics, Third Edition, I would suggest to them that this appears to be a Level 4 (Advanced Credit) course. Very good for a high-powered or very-interested student.My son, while he is plenty smart and could slug through the Basic Economics text, would be miserable. Since he does not need his Economics to be a high-level course, we will use Economics for Everyone along with AGS Economics (a very basic economics curriculum from a secular company that covers the need-to-know information in a light format). The 2 curricula together will make his course College Prep level, good enough for him. I think he may actually enjoy the semester!**********My friend, Penny, is teaching Economics for our local homeschoolers. I had her watch the lessons with me and she loved them. She said they were "well done" and that it was important to her that her students understand a biblical basis for their economics experiences. She is very excited about Economics for Everyone.Here's a delightful trailer for Economics for Everybody.
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a portion of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
They're on my World Literature Pinterest board, along with lots of info about how I taught World Lit. this year to a local homeschool community class. We used these sheets as our year-end review before the cumulative final exam (homeschoolers often need practice taking cumulative tests before college).
Thinking on I Corinthians 13: We could do all sorts of things "for the Lord" but if we don't have love, we are nothing and our work cannot give us the profit we want.
What about this homeschool thought?
Though my teen carries all honors classes and has no meaning- he has nothing.
Though he speak in many languages (even 4 credits in a single tongue) but feels no purpose- he is an expert at minutiae.
Though he is accepted at all the best colleges and has no passion- he lost the greatest value of his high school years.
Therefore, he needs meaning, purpose, and passion to be truly successful.
Transcripts are for capturing a solid education that has taught self-discipline.
And transcripts are for capturing playful exploration, adventures that bring stretching, and service that illuminates passions.
I recently read Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner. He repeated frequently the ideas that young people who fill fulfilled, who are making a difference in the world, and who are definite culture changers have experienced 3 things in their education:
Education that is fun and adventurous is education that inspires and challenges a young person to be innovative. Many of us homeschooled in fun, hands-on methods when our kids were in elementary school but put that aside when our kids started high school- in the belief that our homeschoolers had to get serious. While to some extent this is true, it just may be that our high schoolers won't truly become innovators in subjects that are dry as toast. How can they have more fun in learning?
This one is easier for many homeschoolers- if our teen shows some interest in an area, we lean into it by providing hands-on experiences, apprenticeships, service opportunities, creative courses and more. This allows passions to grow (or diminish, either is appropriate). Sooner or later a passion will develop into a purpose. One way to discover areas for exploration is to do some solid career exploration. Try mynextmove.org (free on the US Dept of Labor website) and 7 Sisters Homeschool Career Exploration Workbook.
Here is the heart of the matter. God created our homeschoolers to have purpose and meaning. Passions help illuminate a teen's purpose, then purpose drives a child to fulfill God's callings on his/her life.
Most of these things can be captured creatively on a transcript. Here's a post on how to do that.
What are some ways you have helped your homeschooler discover play, passion, or purpose in his education?
Here is my vlog on transcripts:
Sometimes homeschool parents can get a little prideful. After all, our homeschool graduates nationwide are very successful.
Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute has found that:
The research base on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they:
- participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population,
- vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and
- go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.
- internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a very high rate. (NHERI.org)
Here is something to think about: Not every homeschooler should go to college!
That is a difficult thought for parents who feel peer pressure about what their homeschooler should "accomplish". Are they a failure if their young graduate does not go to college?? What will people think??
Parents, let me give you a bit of advice as a long-time homeschool high school advisor, mental health counselor, and homeschool mom:
You are only a failure if you give up on your kid or try to force him into someone else's plan for his life. God is the one with the plans and His plans don't have to look like yours or your friends' or your mom's. Your job is to explore with your kid and teach him to pray and seek God's will himself.
I know homeschool graduates who went straight into the military, mission field, family business, or training programs for various trades. They are fulfilling God's call to their unique mission fields (because where ever God plants them is an important and valuable mission field).
(You can click here to hear their song Turn Around.)
What matters is that your homeschooler seek God about His plans and then fulfills them with gratitude. If your teen does that, then you have done well!
To help your teen with this process 7 Sisters has 3 simple and encouraging resources:
This is a free questionnaire to get your homeschooler thinking about the future. We ask about role models and experiences.
An easy-to-use, simple guide through the process of self-knowledge and seeking God's will. We examine God's leading, life experiences, talents, values, and more... Useful stuff for only $6.99. (It is the program I have used with all my kids and many of our local homeschoolers.)
Lots of great resources on Career Exploration for homeschoolers.
Do you know any homeschoolers in non-college careers? I'd love to hear about them!
Join me for this classic post:
In my many years as academic advisor for our local homeschool umbrella school, I have often noticed that 11th graders panic if you ask them the million-dollar question: "SO, do you have any ideas about God's plans for you after you graduate?"
Ben (name and identifying details changed) looked downcast when I asked him that question. "I've never had any idea about the future. I guess there's something wrong with me..."
"That's not true, Ben. You are perfectly normal- most kids don't have a clue about what's coming next! I just ask so that it gets your creative thinking and praying going."
Then we outlined some solid ideas to help him open his heart and mind to things God may be showing him:
1) Get comfortable praying about it- and waiting, waiting, waiting.
2) Get familiar with God's voice/leading by knowing His words and work in Scripture.
3) Get lots of rich and varied experiences: out-of-the-box courses, unusual field trips, service opportunities, involvement in causes.
4) Get solid experience speaking and writing (helps conquer his fears and opens doors for success).
5) Get inspired by real-life role models: family, friends, church leaders, teachers, missionaries, leaders in communities and causes.
Ben agreed to a rigorous year of seeking God and lots of experiences. His Bible study and prayer earned him a Religion credit. He took a psychology and an art course to explore something completely out of his experience. After completing the Career Exploration Workbook, he did a short apprenticeship with his youth pastor, interviewed his pastor and a missionary friend (not that he felt already called to the ministry- he was simply gathering experiences) and read 8 books on Christian role models. These worked together to create a Career Exploration credit. Lastly, he joined the local homeschool Rhetoric Team and did some solid writing courses. It was a busy year for him (since he also had core academics) but by the end of the year, he knew himself much better, felt more self-confident, and felt he was able to clarify a couple of possible career choices.
What do you do with your homeschoolers to help them gain confidence in God's thoughts about their future?
Here's Sabrina's advice on Character-Building Curriculum:
Your high-school homeschooler is ready to think about the future. How on earth will you help guide him/her through the Career Exploration
Successful homeschool Career Exploration has 3 components:
The prayer part you know about. You’ve been praying for your kids since you’ve been a parent. You know that as you all roll your works on the Lord, He will direct your paths.
2) Rich and varied experiences
Many times a young person discovers his future career when he goes on an awesome field trip, does a cool service project, or shadows an interesting person at work. These experiences should be a regular part of education all through your homeschool years.
3) A simple curriculum
Teens need Career Exploration curricula which is quick, easy and not intimidating to use. (This is
because they often doubt themselves and forget that God has a calling for them. A short course that helps them remember God's plan is often better than a huge, overwhelming program.)
A good curriculum should cover these topics:
-Some exploration of God’s will
-Some exploration of self-knowledge
-Some exploration of values and priorities
-Some exploration of talents and personal strengths
-Some guidance on how to investigate careers through the US Department of Labor
-Some ideas on finding apprenticeships
-Some discussion on developing the high school transcript towards a career choice
Imagine that?! 7Sisters has 2 resources to help your student with Career Exploration.
I wrote this curriculum when I was working on the Career Counseling portion of my Masters in Counseling at Liberty University (back when I was a much younger homeschooling mom). My own children and many others have used this through the years. We decided to share it with you now. Enjoy!
ALSO, catch my Homeschool Career Exploration Pinterest board for lots of good resources.
What are some ways you do Career Exploration with your homeschoolers?
Not all Career Exploration experiences end up in a career. Sometimes, they become avocations and tools for success in other areas. My son's high school years in filmmaking have helped him make great dvd's for college classes and a fun You Tube following. Here's his "interview" with Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Stuff breaks. People get sick. Things have a way of misplacing themselves.
It's important to take your homeschooling seriously, to set goals, to persevere.
It's just as important (especially for the Type-A folks among us) to keep it flexible.
I was asked to put together a small ensemble of musicians from our homeschool praise band to play two songs at our homeschool community's graduation this afternoon. I tried, but people's schedules just didn't cooperate. Finally yesterday morning I simply contacted the coordinator of the event, told her the situation, and together we said, "Oh, what a shame. It would have been nice to have the kids play." And then we moved on to plan B for the event. The world did not actually come to an end. We were flexible, and it was a blessing.
All of our 7 Sisters curriculum is created to be flexible -- easily adapt it to your homeschool.
We include suggestions for using textbooks and study guides at a various levels from average high school to honors. Supplemental resources and suggested activities make it easy for mom to know how to use our ebooks to reach her homeschool goals.
Adaptability -- just one of the unique features of curriculum from 7SistersHomeschool.com.
High school is an important time for challenging students with literature that raises more questions than it answers.
Teenagers need to be encouraged to think about hard questions. While it is true that "Jesus is the answer," that is not a complete enough application of the truth for young people about to go out and face life on their own. We need to encourage them to examine the ways in which faith in Christ may be applied to a myriad of circumstances involving broken people in a broken world.
Great books touch on the reality of brokenness. Digging into well-written books -- even those which do not present a Christian worldview -- is a powerful way to introduce our teens to challenges with no easy answer, and to encourage them to search for the truth about the ways God uses His children to bring restoration to the broken things around them.
Here are some of the books I've recently read and discussed with homeschooled teens in our local community, and some of the hard questions we've pondered together. (Literature study guides for these titles are available for $3.99 each in our EBookstore.)
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
- What is a family to do when famine ravages a farming society? When a father must send his children to beg in the streets, when his work is never enough to provide even the most basic food for them, what are his options for response?
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
- When a whole country's government adopts laws that are unjust (like the apartheid laws in South Africa between 1948 and 1990), how can an individual bring change? When unspeakable tragedy strikes a family, how can forgiveness be practiced in real-life ways?
Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov
- Where can people with privilege find meaning in life if they have always been taught to live selfish and shallow lives? Are we in danger of living more selfishly than we realize because we live in a privileged society?
Antigone by Sophocles
- If what seems to be a personal responsibility to another human being defies the present authorities, what is the individual to do?
Is it hard for you to have discussions with your teens that raise questions to which YOU must admit you have no easy answers?
Broken stuff at my house means I need to figure out how to replace it or do without.
Broken spots in our homeschool may look lots of different ways, but these broken places must not be ignored.
Here are some possible broken (or damaged) spots to evaluate as my homeschool year comes to an end:
Did we carelessly lose God's plan for our family in the busy days and nights of homeschool activities?
If I broke the framework that God designed for us, I'd better spend the summer months re-building according to His blueprint -- prayer, the Bible, Godly conversations, and more prayer.
Did we try something that felt like square pegs in a round hole all year? Did I dread the subject as much as (or more than) my kid did?
If we tried to learn in a format that works for other homeschool families but not for us, I'd better spend the summer prayerfully choosing curriculum for next year that may or may not be the next step in a series we already started. It's okay to change.
Did we spend hours on things that I meant as supplemental activities, only to rush through the core material I prepared?
If I know a "time audit" would show us way off from where we meant to be, I'd better spend the summer months in prayer and brainstorming with other homeschoolers I trust to figure out a better schedule for next year.
(BTW, it's okay to quit a group you were involved in this year if it just isn't where you need to be for next year. That's not the same thing as BREAKING a commitment mid-semester!)
Did my kid and I become nothing but teacher and student this year?
Did my husband and I become nothing but blurs who pass each other in the hallway?
Did my friends and I become nothing but a think-tank for solving problems?
If my relationships with others became defined by my homeschooling goals (rather than the other way around -- my homeschooling goals defined by the relationships God has placed in my life), I'd better repent and take some time this summer to prayerfully commit to a people-first-school-second attitude in the coming year...and I would probably do well to spend some quality time with a friend I trust so she can hold me accountable when the fall flurry begins anew!