• Teaching Teens Perseverance

    By Sabrina Justison on 30 October 2014 / By Subject, Challenges, High School Language Arts, Homeschool High School / 0 Comment

    Encourage your teen to emulate faithful servants, not celebrities! Teaching teens how to build strong character is no easy job, but exposing them to the real-life stories of people who have struggled and triumphed with integrity and godliness can help. Endeavors like teaching teens perseverance will become easier when you introduce them to people like Joni.

    Teaching Teens Perseverance

     Teaching Teens Perseverance

    Joni: An Unforgettable Story Literature Study Guide (Joni Eareckson Tada’s autobiography) inspires your homeschool high school student without killing the joy of the book with busywork.

    Do you know Joni's story?  A diving accident at the age of 16 left Joni in a wheelchair, a quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down.  But read what happened after that...and be inspired to trust God to do amazing things in your own life!

    Your teen interacts with the ideas of perseverance and redemption from the life of this great Christian role model in this 12-page study guide. The etext contains:

    -background information

    -comprehension questions by chapter

    -suggestions for supplemental activities

    -answer key

    High school is the perfect time to develop powerful Christian character traits. This $3.99 comfortably-priced study guide assists your diligent mentoring in your teen’s life.

    For an overview of Joni's story and to order her book, visit the Joni and Friends ministry website at www.joniandfriends.org.

    Read the book, work through the study guide, and watch this remarkable video, in which Joni shares her testimony after decades in a wheelchair. 

    Perspective, challenge, encouragement and inspiration!

  • High School Student Shares a Review of God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew

    By Vicki Tillman on 29 October 2014 / By Age Group, By Subject, High School Language Arts, Homeschool High School / 0 Comment

    We've been discussing passing on our values to our kids through their homeschool literature courses. One value that we've emphasized is faith. My youngest son wrote about his favorite book about a hero of the faith: Brother Andrew, God's Smuggler.

    Here is the classic post:

    Ever have one of those homeschool moments when you found out you were doing something right?

    I asked one of my sons, "What is your favorite book so far this year?"

    He answered, "That's easy: God's Smuggler!"

    SO, I asked Sabrina to publish the study guide she wrote for his co-op class to use, and I asked my youngest, Seth, then a 15 year old high school student, to share a short review of God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew.

    Review of God's Smuggler

    A Review of God's Smuggler

    Seth's review of God's Smuggler:


    God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

    God’s Smuggler is an inspiring true story filled with adventure, suspense and faith. It is the autobiography of Brother Andrew. During the Cold War, Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles into countries behind the Iron Curtain.

    The book is also the story of his conversion to Christianity. Brother Andrew went from rebellious boy, to reckless young man, to great man of God.

    God's Smuggler really showed me how much God cares for His children. He kept Andrew safe through many dangers. Every time he  passed through a border he would pray what he called “the Prayer of God’s Smuggler”:

    “Lord, in my luggage I have Scripture that I want to take to Your children across the border. When You were on earth, You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things You do not want them to see.”

    Because of Brother Andrew, many people behind the Iron Curtain received Bibles and were shown that God cared about them. You will not want to put God’s Smuggler down.


    Sabrina's 16-page Study Guide for God's Smuggler helps inspire your homeschooler as well as helps him understand the culture and context of the Cold War. The study guide includes vocabulary and terms to know. While it helps solidify student comprehension, it does not deflate his enjoyment of this powerful book.

    Give your teen a chance to study Seth's favorite book of the year.  Download God's Smuggler Study Guide today $3.99.


    Open Doors

    Brother Andrew founded Open Doors in 1955 by smuggling his first group of Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. It has been a powerful and effective ministry since that early trip.

    Mission Statement of Open Doors

    Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide; We are an organization aimed at strengthening persecuted believers worldwide through community development, Bible & literature distribution, leadership training & education and ministries of prayer and advocacy.

    You can download the story of Brother Andrew's conversion from the book God's Smuggler at http://www.opendoorsusa.org

    Here are  Sabrina's thoughts on character building curriculum options:



    A Review of God's Smuggler

  • Biographies that Build Character in Teens

    By Vicki Tillman on 28 October 2014 / By Age Group, By Subject, High School Language Arts, Homeschool High School / 0 Comment

    Homeschoolers in middle and high school are developing their identities. It is important to give them role models and experiences with inspiring people. One of the best modern-day heroes to learn about is Mother Teresa.

    My son has had the opportunity to learn about Mother Teresa through a series of activities.

    Biographies that Build Character in Teens

    Biographies that Build Character in Teens

    1. When he was in 8th grade, he attended a performance of A Weekend in Calcutta by Sabrina's Drama Camp.

    He learned from the play about her answer to God's call to sacrificial work for the poor and dying in India, about her inspiring together a  team, and about her own personal struggles (which was good- he needed to know she was a "real person").

    2. We followed up the play by watching Olivia Hussey in the dvd: Mother Teresa.

    He learned the story of her life: her courage in starting her ministry, more about the people and culture she ministered to, her spunky personality and perseverance. One of our  favorite scenes is Mother Teresa traveling with her two assistants- one carried the money, one organized the schedule. I tell you, I know I could never do the great work she did but I thought I might keep organized if I had two people handle those for me :)

    3. In 9th grade, he read her biography by Malcomb Muggeridge: Something Beautiful for God.

    In Something Beautiful for God, my son learned about her personal faith and dedication to God. He learned about her call to the "least of these" and about doing small things with great love and great joy.

    The things he learned about Mother Teresa are ideas that will help him as he is developing his identity. If he has a vision of serving, of all people being valuable to God, and the power of one person in starting a cause- then he will have more courage to listen to what God may say to him about his own place in the kingdom, whatever that will be.

    Study Guide for Something Beautiful for God

    4. As a guide to his study of Something Beautiful for God, my son used Sabrina's study guide.

    It was helpful because it was quick, no busywork, but full of clear explanations, background  material, and vocabulary. It is available for download here or on Kindle for $3.99.

    Of course, there are many, many modern-day heroes a homeschooler can study. What modern-day heroes will your child study?



    Biographies that Build Character in Teens

  • Character-Building Books for High School Students

    By Sabrina Justison on 27 October 2014 / By Age Group, By Subject, High School Language Arts, Homeschool High School / 0 Comment

    Teaching reading and writing to homeschool teenagers is one of my favorite things to do.

    A list of unusual, character-building books for high school that can bring life to your literature study is one that includes works by Great Christian Writers. It's easy to sprinkle one or two character-building titles into a year of books, or you can easily create a one-semester or one-year curriculum that is filled with these inspiring books.

    One of the many blessings of homeschooling through high school is getting to choose books to read with our kids, and then discussing those books.

    Character-Building Books for High School

    Character-Building Books for High School

    While I make sure we spend time on American Lit., British Literature  and World Lit., it's also wonderful to spend a half-yearor even a whole school year on a specialized category of literature, or a topic, or a particular author's work.

    You can tailor your book selection to your child's unique interests, for example. One of my sons earned credit for reading books about great film-makers, and reading classic works of literature that were made into classic movies, then analyzing the transfer from page to screen in papers he wrote. A student with a passion for history could focus on books about a favorite time period for literature. A kid with a passion for animals might want to choose books that center on that topic, and so forth.

    The character-building books for high school students on my list for Great Christian Writers came together out of the desire of some of us moms to see our kids read well-written books by Christian authors who want their readers to meditate deeply in their spirits about the things of God as well as have their intellect stretched and entertained with their words. We wanted to include biographies and autobiographies, books of theology, devotional materials, and fiction.

    This is the book list I've used in Great Christian Writers:

    * The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom)

    * Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan)

    * The Practice of the Presence of God (Bro. Lawrence)

    * The Essential Father Brown short stories (GK Chesterton)

    * Armchair Theologians Series – Augustine

    * God’s Smuggler (Bro. Andrew)

    * Something Beautiful for God (Malcolm Muggeridge)

    * Hymns

    * Poetry

    * The Normal Christian Life (Watchman Nee)

    * This Present Darkness (Frank Peretti)

    * Mere Christianity (CS Lewis)

    * Prayers

    * Devotions

    * Joni (Joni Eareckson Tada)

    * Born Again (Chuck Colson)

    * The Great Divorce (CS Lewis)

    A few of the selections are obviously not books. For the hymns, poetry, prayers and devotions I used the internet as a resource for compiling great examples of these forms of writing, and assigned these collections to the students in lieu of a regular book.

    character-building books

    Because we are reading these books with a class, for each book I have created a study guide of some type for the students to use in preparing for their class discussion. (You can find several of these study guides in our EBookstore by clicking on the links above.) The study guides really help the students focus on important themes in the books, and they provide background information about the authors and vocabulary resources, as well as supplemental activities and suggestions.

    I have enjoyed this class more than I can say! The kids amaze me with their insights in discussion, and it is so interesting to see which kids fall in love with which books...and which they deem "boring"!


    For Literature Study Guides for Great Christian Writers selections plus many more terrific books, visit the EBookstore!

    character-building books

    Here's a vlog to help you figure out how to choose books for high school student each year:



    Character-Building Books for High School

  • Modeling Character Development in Your Homeschool

    By Sabrina Justison on 26 October 2014 / Encouragement, Helping Each Other, Homeschool Information, The Home / 0 Comment

    For the last five years I have been WORKING at learning to REST...

    ...and if you see a logic problem with that last sentence, you understand my internal conflict!

    character development in your homeschool

    Character Development in Your Homeschool

    My husband, Fred, is a shift worker; rotating 12-hour shifts make life a little topsy-turvy in our home.  I tried for a long time to really honor ONE DAY every week on Sunday.  That worked great on the ONE SUNDAY each month that Fred can count on being with me, off from work and at home, but the rest of the month it meant that I was resting while he was working (he has no control over that piece of things, of course) and then working when he was off and ready to rest.  Not a great recipe for unity in a marriage.

    So now I try to follow his shift-schedule kinda-sorta.  I try to make sure that out of every 7, one day has serious "rest-and-reflect on the goodness of the Lord" time built-in...but the actual day of the week varies.

    This Sunday, Fred was on day-work, so I got up with him when he left at 5:00 a.m. (I'm an awesome wife like that), then went back to bed for an hour (I'm an honest blogger like that).

    At 6:00 I was ready to rise and enjoy the morning.  I wanted to take some pictures in our gardens. The sun was rising, conditions were wonderful, and I had a great hour chatting with God in the beauty of the quiet back yard as I snapped pictures of His handiwork.

    Jonah went for an early-morning run and joined me in the gardens when he got back home.  Before long it was time to head to church. After the service, Jonah had things to do, so I headed home solo.

    character development in your homeschool

    The rest of the afternoon was quiet work in my office.

    When Fred got home we headed over to my folks' house for a couple of hours to have some casual Bible study and fellowship.

    I was raised by parents who love the Lord, and I don't want to neglect to honor them and be thankful for their presence in our lives!  Fred really loves to listen to my dad talk about the Bible, so it was a neat way to end the day together even though my husband hadn't been able to sit beside me in church that morning.

    I laughed in the kitchen with my boys while they prepared to watch a movie together (with appropriate snacks included, of course). These guys have such a good time together now that they are all on the older end of things.  There were lots of arguments (particularly between Jonah and Jake) when they were younger, but now they are great friends.

    character development in your homeschool

    I headed to bed with my book and was asleep before too many pages had been turned, I'm afraid!

    So.  Why does any of this matter?

    It matters because I am convinced that my children will learn next-to-nothing from what I tell them about character.  I need to honestly, transparently model my own character development in my homeschool. You probably need to model your own character development in your homeschool, too. You know the old saying:  Character is CAUGHT, not taught.

    I want to be contagious.

    With intentionality.  With balance.  With respect.  With all the pieces of good character that will bless my children's lives for all their days.  I hope that my Sunday modeled the characteristic of TAKING TIME for things that matter:  working when work must be done, appreciating God's creation, studying His Word, and enjoying His presence with us, worshiping with others, taking time with those we love.

    And because my k ids all know that mom struggles with workaholism, I hope I modeled perseverance.  I pray that they saw that while it was tempting to just charge forward through a series of tasks at 100 mph, I wandered in the garden for an hour taking pictures and telling God what a good job He did with the asters and the phlox and the dogwood tree.  I believe that they saw me honoring my parents, loving my spouse, and worshiping my Lord.

    If they see it, they can catch it.



    Are you familiar with the titles in our Great Christian Writers literature study guide series? View excerpts from our no-busywork guides to accompany character-building books here:

    Christian Literature High School

    Character Development in Your Homeschool

  • What Teens Need to Learn About Personal Finances

    By Sabrina Justison on 24 October 2014 / By Age Group, By Subject, Homeschool High School, Math & Economics / 2 Comments

    High School is the time to start becoming financially literate. It's not enough to know how to monitor your online bank account or write a check. Teens need to really learn about personal finances, and they need us to help them understand -

    - What kinds of topics they should explore

    - How to use tools that will help them explore these topics

    - Ways to make sense of the often-conflicting information on the internet

    - What wisdom God has provided for us in managing money

    Teens Learn about Personal Finances

    Teens Learn About Personal Finances

    Young adults with monstrous mountains of debt...no parents want to see their children in that situation!

    Learning about credit is one of the most important topics in Sara Hibbard Hayes' mind when she teaches Financial Literacy to high school students. (A whole chapter is devoted to it in her new ebook text, Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective, available for purchase in January 2015 here at 7Sisters.) Teens entering the adult world will have to establish a credit history and build a healthy credit score in order to achieve independence, rent or buy a home, purchase a car, apply to college or graduate school, or start a business. Understanding how to establish a credit history wisely is often overwhelming for young adults.

    Consider these articles:

    CNN busts 8 Myths about Credit Scores here, and I'd be surprised if there wasn't at least ONE of these myth that you thought was accurate (I got caught on two of them when I read the article). How is a young adult with no personal experience with credit equipped to do better?

    This Fox article offers suggestions for establishing credit history, but many of the behaviors they suggest CAN be dangerous for young adults who don't know themselves well enough to recognize temptation to foolish spending. The advice is sound, but it's only a piece of the puzzle teens need to make wise choices for themselves.

    Or how about these dissenting opinions regarding whether or not credit card companies purposely target young and/or poorly educated people with high-interest account offers?

    What do you think?

    What are some of the best ways you've come up with to help your teens learn about personal finances?

    We need financially literate teens; let's share ways to help them become savvy about personal finance!


    Teens Learn About Personal Finances

  • Is My Homeschool Student Just Average?

    By Vicki Tillman on 23 October 2014 / Encouragement, Helping Each Other, Homeschool Information / 0 Comment

    Sometimes we homeschoolers can get a little competitive:

    "MY kid was reading when he was 4!"

    to which someone replies,

    "How lovely, MY kids completed algebra in 5th grade!"

    Ever heard that conversation?

    homeschool student just average

    Homeschool Student Just Average

    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 them.

    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 role models God has placed in his life as guides.)

    Introduction to High School Writing

    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.

    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!

    Here are Sabrina's thoughts (shared with a chuckle a gentle chuckle at herself) about Average kids -



  • Build Your Homeschool Student's Strengths - 6 Simple Ways

    By Marilyn Groop on 22 October 2014 / Challenges, Helping Each Other / 0 Comment

    Find ways to build your homeschool student's strengths while you also help with redeeming their weaknesses.

    1) Let your homeschooler see your delight in learning something new.

    Do you enjoy exploring new topics, reading new books, researching new ideas? Do they hear your excitement as you relate what you have learned?

    Build Your Homeschool Student's Strengths

    Build Homeschool Student's Strengths

    2) Enter into his or her areas of interest and encourage learning more.

    Show an interest in their passions and help them to explore them. We did unit studies on things of interest to various children when they were young - a pirate unit for the boys and a horse unit for my horse-crazy daughter.

    3) Keep your lesson times age-appropriate.

    A first grader can’t sit still very long, so keep instruction brief and interspersed with other activities.

    4) Take advantage of teachable moments.

    Yes, your children will roll their eyes and tease you about turning everything into a “lesson”, but they will remember these moments for years to come.  (Okay, don’t turn everything into a teaching lesson, but you get the idea).

    5) Find curriculum that balances your teaching style and your child’s learning style.

    What works well for one homeschooler doesn’t always work for the next one. It’s both frustrating and brings variety to life.

    6) Limit exposure to things that are not “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise” while exposing your children to the finer things.

    Teach them about the wonders in nature. Read good books. Watch good movies. Explore museums and historical sites. Go to worthy plays, musicals, and concerts. Show them fine art. Read the Bible and memorize scripture. Fill their minds with things that are good.

    What are some ways you build your homeschooler's strengths?
    high school essay writing  curriculum
    Choosing curriculum with NO BUSYWORK leaves more time in your schedule to pursue things that are areas of strength for your child. Take a look at excerpts from our writing guides for Essays, Poetry, Research Papers, and Short Stories to see what we mean!


    Build Your Homeschool Student's Strengths

  • God is a Poet - Introducing Poetry to High School Homeschol Students

    By Vicki Tillman on 21 October 2014 / By Subject, High School Language Arts, Homeschool High School / 0 Comment

    I was asking my homeschool high school group-class students if they enjoyed poetry. Most of the class hastily asserted, "NO".

    Then I asked if they had studied any poetry. Most answered a bit hesitantly, "Not much."

    Poetry High School Homeschool

    Poetry High School Homeschool

    Well, that was exciting because I got to open their eyes to the fact that they had missed studying poetry by the most famous poet ever:


    That's right. God himself was a poet. Read the Psalms. All the Psalms are poetry. We could just as well call that book: "Poems".

    Look at the words that God gave the prophets to say. Often it was in poetic form (the entire book of Nahum is poetic in style, for instance).

    God is not the only poet from ancient times. In those old days, people wrote their stories in poetic style. The original forms of many works were poetry, including: Beowulf, Greek epics such as Homer’s Iliad, and the Epic of Gilgamesh 

    In times not too long past, writing poetry and reading poetry was household entertainment. Take for instance, Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The Dashwood family’s evening amusement centered around reading poetry to each other. (In fact, the ability to read poetry in a passionate manner was the way John Dashwood stole Marianne’s heart.) 

    God thinks and expresses himself in poetic ways.

    Great writers of former days expressed themselves in poetry. If our homeschooling high schoolers have no sense of poetry, if they only read and write prose, they are going to miss out on part of the mind of God and important connections to our cultural past and present.

    This year our local homeschool high school group-class students are working through British Poetry 

    and TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

    Poetry High School Homeschool

    They will be learning to create their own basic poetry, too. 

    The 7 Sisters Study Guides they will use contain no-busywork, are simple enough for beginners to understand and enjoy AND hopefully will give the soul of poetry to the kids so they can understand. I want to give them a good introduction to Poetry. 

    Are your homeschooling high schoolers reading and writing poetry, too?


    Poetry High School Homeschool

  • God is a Psychologist, so Your Teen Should Like Psych - Why Take a Christian High School Psychology Course

    By Vicki Tillman on 20 October 2014 / Electives High School, Homeschool High School, Science, Psych, & Health / 0 Comment

    God is a Psychologist. First, allow me to show you why. Then, I'd like to tell you why your high schooler should like Psych. Ready?

    Ok, I’m a bit biased on this one, being a mental health counselor myself but this one is easy.

    Christian High School Psychology Course

    Christian High School Psychology Course

    A Psychologist is one with expertise in Psychology (of course)...which is defined as

    the science of the mind, mental states and processes, human behavior, and mental ploys or strategies.

    (Thanks, Dictionary.com!)


    God IS a psychologist. He says so and He instructs us in healthy thinking and living.

    First off, the Messiah is promised to be “Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”. (Isaiah 9:6)

    His job on earth is to “preach good tidings to the meek, bind up the broken hearted…” (the job of a counselor). (Isaiah 61:1)

    After Jesus’ time on earth, the Holy Spirit came as a Comforter. (John 14:16)

    Jesus and the Holy Spirit both acted in “counselor” roles and held counselor-type titles. In fact, those of counselors who are Christians feel like we are acting as God’s representatives.

    In the New Testament, Paul spent a LOT of time giving the first lessons in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (the kind of stuff I teach my clients ALL the time).


    Cognitive Therapy from Philippians 4:8

    "…Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise; think on these things."

    Behavioral Therapy from Ephesians 4:29

    "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."

    Christian High School Psychology Course

    Those verses are the fabric of good psychological practices.

    If God is a psychologist, it is a great idea for homeschooling high schoolers to study psychology. It is a great idea for them to study a Christian high school psychology course - especially before they get to college and hear these important truths from psychologists who have long forgotten our true psychological roots. That is why 7 Sisters offers Introduction to Psychology from a Christian Perspective

    Click to learn more about this curriculum!


    Christian High School Psychology Course

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