Solar Eclipse

solar eclipseSolar Eclipse Shows The Glory of God

The solar eclipse has been talked about in anticipation for years and not just by scientists. Many people are planning to watch, some on the optimal path to witness this event, first-hand and others virtually.

I remember watching the lunar eclipse as a child. My dad was an astronomy buff. He loved the ocean – he was a sailor as a young man, but he equally loved the sky. “In the sea, you sometimes see the fury of God, but in the stars, you see His glory,” he’d say. He took us to see the Apollo 11, the spaceship that had a lunar rover that landed on the moon. We’d get up early in the morning to watch the spot in the sky which was the rocket(s) take off — depending on which Apollo spacecraft we could see from our house. We lived in the middle of the state of Florida, yet visited the Kennedy Space Center many times. The space center is even hosting a viewing of the solar eclipse.

However, even with the science behind it, and the excitement in anticipation of the event, what really comes to my mind when I consider this event is Almighty God. The glory of God to be exact. In the vastness of the night sky, we realize how small we are–just a dot on the planet.

Psalm 19: 1 summarizes it beautifully – “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” 

God created lunar and solar eclipses – they are a handiwork of His wonderful creation. We see the vastness of the earth dwarfed by the sun – that allows our earth flourish. Think about this; the sun is in the perfect place, not too far away and not too close. The same with the moon. The solar eclipse demonstrates how far away the sun is, in comparison to our planet.

For me, the idea of witnessing the eclipse safely is important. Even if I had the safety, approved glasses I would not look at the sun during this eclipse. My eyesight is too precious – as well as that of my family. This is how I recommend watching the solar eclipse:

  1. Nasa Live streaming:  Nasa live streaming
  2. See how the solar eclipse will look in your area – add your zip code to learn more
  3. If you still want to see the eclipse here are instructions from a trusted source, NASA

Thanks to the wonderful universe that God created, we can witness these types of miraculous occurrences. Observer them safely!

How and Why to Find a Mentor and Back to School Giveaway

How and why to find a mentor

As a homeschooler, have you struggled with any of these questions?

  1. What are my state requirements?
  2. How do I get started?
  3. What do I teach and when?
  4. What methodology is best for my family?
  5. What do I say to critics?
  6. How do I schedule our day?
  7. How do I motivate my kids to do lessons?
  8. What curriculum do I choose?
  9. What about learning and teaching styles?
  10. How do I handle special needs?
  11. How can I homeschool frugally?
  12. Do I need to worry about Common Core?
  13. Where did I put my coffee?

Well, ok. That last one is probably just me.

Whether you’re new to homeschooling or a few years into it, chances are you’ve looked for a homeschooling mentor of some kind. Homeschooling is a challenge and it is such an important undertaking! It only makes sense to find homeschoolers who have “been there, done that” to come alongside us and help navigate the sometimes murky waters.

Finding A Mentor
 

Benefits and Limitations

As with any mentors, homeschooling mentors have limits. Nobody knows you, your family, and your child as well as God does. Not even you. Going to Him first with every concern is far wiser and more effective than relying on any mentor. Checking anything your mentors say against God’s Word and His leading in your life is also critical.
No book, site, or individual is going to perfectly encompass all the needs and goals of your family. To simply follow what someone else does because they appear to be doing well is not a good choice. However, it is worth the time and effort to find that handful of mentors and reliable resources that fit your needs relatively well and can help you navigate the plethora of homeschooling issues and information.

Face-to-Face Mentors

Face-to-face mentors are hard to find. It’s sad, but true. I once asked a leader in the large homeschool support group I joined a few years ago if they had some sort of mentorship program or if she could connect me with another mom to help me get started. She said no! They had tried, but the more experienced moms ended up being too busy and the relationships never lasted.
Even so, it can happen! I think they are worth the effort (and the vulnerability that comes with it) to keep looking for those mentors. I have recently refreshed my search for one or two for myself.
Here are a few things to keep in mind on your own search:
  • Observe – If possible, find other homeschool moms that you’d like to learn from. Look for some with kids one or two levels above yours, and some who are nearing the home stretch. Perhaps they have a strong Charlotte Mason flair you’re interested in. Maybe they seem to keep things moving with 6 kids, or they’re just pleasant and easy to talk to. Local support groups are a great way to find homeschoolers and scout for mentors!
  • Approach – The best mentors develop naturally. Instead of saying “hey, can you mentor me?” try asking if you can buy them a coffee and pick their brain about homeschooling, or come to their house and be a fly on the wall for a few hours. Email them asking some resource recommendations or what their homeschool day looks like.
  • Be Considerate – Homeschool moms are busy. Be considerate of their time and make sure you aren’t using them as a crutch or your only source of information! I find that asking general questions (“what is your homeschool day like?”) or troubleshooting (“how do I deal with letter reversal in handwriting?”) are the best ways to learn from them without sapping their energy.

Online/Book Mentors

Of course, there is a vast sea of blogs, sites, and books all about homeschooling that are meant to mentor and support you. Ask around and find out what the favorites are. In the past few years, I’ve figured out what my favorite go-to sources are for troubleshooting homeschool problems or general ideas and inspiration.
Just remember that it’s much better to have 5 or so books and resources you rely on instead of allowing input from hundreds a day to reach your ears. Who has the time and brain capacity for that? Not me! I know, because I’ve tried. Keep in mind that we are looking for “mentors,” not seeking to gather all possible opinions.
Here is my short list for online sites, books and blogs I follow loosely for information and encouragement. Yours will look different, and that’s ok!
  • Doorposts – This is more of a parenting and discipleship resource, but we all know how integrated those are with homeschooling! This is our favorite biblical parenting resource, hands down.
  • Educating WholeHearted Child (and other materials by the Clarksons) – I read and enjoy many homeschooling books, but this is the one I always come back to. It is packed full of good helps, information, guidance and encouragement!
How about you? What are you looking for in a mentor? What are your favorite “mentors” online or in books?
 
TaunaMTauna loves her family and loves God. She is a homeschooling mama that has been married for 8 years and has 4 young children. She writes at Proverbial Homemaker.com, so named because, as she says, “me becoming a wife, mom, and homemaker proves that anything is possible with God.”

 

 

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Lists For Back To School

back to school lists One of the greatest inventions was the idea of keeping track of things with a list, and what better way to celebrate Back to School, than with a series on lists! I’ve tackled organization with the disclaimer that I’m not naturally an organized person. In the series on organization I’ve taken back and overturned the chaos of messy piles and will soon be looking at a newly organized and CLEAN home! I’m excited.

In fact, I mentioned to my sister-in-law the other day how excited I was to have one top shelf almost cleared off. Okay, I admit — I’m a work in progress. I’ve decided that what works for me is cleaning in small bursts. If I can clean one section of a room and keep it clean, then clean another section in a weeks’ time I have a clean room! The key is keeping it clean.

But, we were discussing homeschooling … so, the list can be massive but take or delete what you’d like. I’ve created a podcast on the topic here as well. See what you think. The lists are over on the podcast post- on VintageHomeschoolMoms episode 96  – Amazing Lists For Homeschooling – so don’t forget to download yours.

An overview of the topics of the podcast began with listing making in general for your homeschool.

Lists for back-to-school

Select Your Curriculum and Order It:

By this time many of you have your curriculum; however I know many of you are still ordering books as we speak! There are many great book selections from Cathy Duffy on her website of homeschool reviews. She wrote a series of books on the topic of the Top Homeschool Picks. My own books have been selected in two of her books. So, once you’ve selected your books – order them! I know many of you enjoy free products, but if you do get these, be sure to keep them in a file so you can find the when the time comes.

Organize Your Homeschool Space:

Atmosphere – atmosphere – atmosphere – let your learning space be a place that is conducive to learning. Be sure to check for clutter, keep books contained and be sure to pick up after each school day. Whether you school in the kitchen, on the dining room table, back porch (as we did one year while our house was being remodeled), or you have a specific room for school, make sure it is organized.

Organize Your Supplies:

I love office supplies – seriously, I could spend hours in office stores. However, discount stores are much more reasonably priced when it comes to school supplies. Every year I purchased the kids new spiral notebooks, pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils; and when they got older, mechanical pencils, pens and highlighters. We keep all of our saved work (the ones we will keep to show for evaluations) in a big 3-Ring binder book.  That is handy all year so as I see papers that are worthy of inclusion I will ask the kids to place them in the book. You will have to help the really little ones. I also purchased a good 3-Ring Notebook-all-in-one that has multi-subjects and multi-pockets. Once the kids were in high school we no longer needed this type of binder. It just didn’t hold enough papers. They prefer spiral notebooks anyway to keep all their notes within. I like to surprise the kids with one, two or three special things. Like the year I purchased time-line notebooks, or special school supplies and holders. It is after all the first day of school when I pass out the new books and supplies, so I like to make it special.

Organize Your Books:

messy homeschool shelves organized

Shelves – Before and After They Were Organized! http://www.HomeForLearning.com

How exciting – new books! I love to get the new school books for the year, even if it means I’m pulling books from the shelves and placing them on another! Many beloved books are keepsakes, and we’ve added them to our library. These were used for many years ago, by their older siblings. Organizing the books on one or two shelves helps the children to have easy access. I am going to admit that after many years of homeschooling my bookshelves are a wreck! I organize reading books for literature, books I will read to them and I give them their school books such as Math to keep at their own desks. It makes it easy for me to see whether or not they’ve completed their reading lists by a quick view of the shelves as well as their check-off lists. Here is a picture of one set of shelves that are going to be organized and another set that is almost completed!

Organize Your Year:

You’ve got the books – now take out a calendar and look at how long it will take you to complete the books on hand. For example, if a science book has 300 pages you would divide the number of pages by the number of school days. Here in Florida we school for 180 days so do the math! Be sure to leave holiday days – for example, if you are taking days off for vacations, Christmas holiday break, etc., you want to plan for these times as well. Once you do this with all your books you can move onward.

Unit Studies – or Theme Studies:

For unit studies, I always gave myself six-to-eight weeks to complete the study. Many times it didn’t take us that long, so we filled in the time with extra reading, field trips and fun television shows or videos that kept us on track. Other times, if it was something mom didn’t like studying – like insects, we’d motor through the unit study and move on to the next one. I’d also give myself some planning time in-between to find additional books or plan out my days. However, I knew exactly what we’d study for the entire year or I could loose valuable time trying to make it up on the go!

homeschool scheduleOrganize Your Day:

Years ago I was very frustrated that the kids were having difficulty completing their work. My husband asked me to create a simple check off list. When they were younger it included time –so for example where math was it would say 30-min. All the kids had to do was check off Math when they did the work. Every week they turned it in for special stickers, a movie night, or something else fun we had planned. No checkoff list meant an extra chore. You can give this to your children as a guide and keep one for yourself. This is a high school example, but you can do this same type of thing with elementary students or middle school.

Once you get your books the ideal is to divide pages by the number of weeks in the school, for you textbook people and create a schedule like this chart.

Here is another version to download: Example Check Off Lists-2

You can give this to your children as a guide and keep one for yourself. This is a high school example, but you can do this same type of thing with elementary students or middle school.

You can give this to your children as a guide and keep one for yourself. This is a high school example, but you can do this same type of thing with elementary students or middle school. I have a daily check off list I give my children as well – for a copy go here: blank copy and another one here: Example Check Off Lists – Younger and older ones here: Example Check Off Lists-Older

Whatever format you use – even if you un-school – it is nice to keep track of your progress – and it helps the children become familiar with check-off lists!

Organize Your Child’s Work station:

We’ve homeschooled on the kitchen table, on the back porch, out of a book bag on the way to doing errands, in the car on audio cassette and CD (by the time mp3 came along, my kids had outgrown “car learning”, and in a desk in a designated room. We’ve done it all in the years since I first decided to homeschool. So, what is the common thread in homeschooling in various places? Keep your stuff together! Some homeschool moms keep clear bins with plastic lids and contain their school stuff there. Other’s school out of a closet or shelf. Whatever you do give your child ample space to spread out.

What is on your list? Share yours with all of us!

Photo Credit: Copyright 2015 Deposit Photo – photo credit – stuartm

An Author Teaches Her Kids to Write

An author Teaches Her Kids to Write | a WriteShop Review by Felice Gerwitz

An author Teaches Her Kids to Write | a WriteShop Review by Felice Gerwitz

History tends to repeat itself and sometimes in very good ways! When I homeschooled my young children I found they were prolific writers if it was topic that they enjoyed. For example, my kids wrote stories about finding pets and keeping them. In fact, the children in their carefully- crafted stories had the most amazing mother in the world! Why? Because she allowed them to keep each and every pet they randomly found in the yard, and she welcomed them with open arms. This was the antithesis of their “real” mom!

Now was the time to work on their nonfiction abilities.

All of my children have struggled in this regard. They enjoy making up stories, rather than researching and writing a factual account, so I came up with a purpose, a family newsletter. This was a combination of factual writing, as well as poetry and interviews. Thus, the “Cousin’s Newsletter” was born. There were cousin contributors: Katie from Texas, Marie and George from Tennessee, Kathleen from Virginia, and Christina and Neal from Florida. Four of the children were homeschoolers and two were not  so there was a nice mix of school and home types of articles. This was in the ‘90s when computers were just becoming household words and there were still lots of copying and pasting manually to get pretty borders and print out copies that were then mailed to all the family members. It was quite a project so we strove to complete two Cousin Newsletters per year.

Still fiction was a favorite and years later my daughter Christina and I went on to write three novels together.

I felt that Christina was one of those people with a story in her blood! Fast forward to the future and now Christina is homeschooling her little ones. She balked at the idea of using any writing program with her little ones, but then was presented with an opportunity to review Writeshop’s primary curriculum; here is what she had to say:

 

“I recently had the opportunity to use WriteShop Primary (Book A) written by Nancy I. Sanders with my first and second graders. I love the well-written writing program that was well organized and effectively incorporated many of the foundational writing concepts that I wanted them to become proficient in utilizing while still in their formative years. My girls especially enjoyed the layout and presentation of the activity worksheets, while I appreciated that they were learning the basics of writing in a fun and relaxed setting.

Imagination is something my children are not lacking, however, before using this program, their stories or papers often lacked structure and flow.

This book offered a brainstorming section in which they organized their thoughts and even an editing and revising section, which allowed them to analyze their own writing with my guidance. Each activity set was well presented and organized, which allowed me to easily grasp what was going to be covered each day. Overall, both my children and I enjoyed using this program and look forward to continuing with it throughout the school year.”

Catch our reluctant writers episode with Kim Kautzer, the contributor and executive editor of Writeshop Primary. You’ll enjoy hearing how to identify reluctant writers, as well as gain practical tools and tips from Kim.

Do your children have writing struggles? Or do you have great advice for us on ways you encourage your children to write? I’d love to hear from you.

Curriculum, Learning Styles, and Choices… Oh, My!

Curriculum learning stylesAs a new homeschool mom with an arsenal of degrees and certifications to show for my years of college and experience in the preschool and special education arena, I thought I was prepared. I handled a class of 25+ students in the sixth through ninth grades of Specific Learning Disabilities classes. Surely I could handle two children who were my own.

So I set off as many of you do, to recreate the school within the home, only to find it was a dismal failure. Well, not totally. We loved waking up each morning to a hot breakfast, and then I’d take my second cup of coffee and my two little ones to my room where we’d snuggle up and I’d read the Bible, a biography, and often we’d end up back there again to read after lunch. My oldest child had some learning struggles and he was not getting math. Simple facts were beyond him and asking him to memorize the multiplications facts in later years was like asking him to recite the Pythagorean Theorem.

That’s when I discovered that while I could read most things and remember them, I had hands-on learners who loved exploring and delving into things, getting their hands dirty, and loving it! So instead of just talking about rockets, we turned the refrigerator box into a space ship, complete with countdown to blast off music. My children wore bicycle helmets and pretended to be astronauts.

When our lot flooded, I would have been happy to read about the flood plain, and use words like – “cypress slough” in a sentence or learn about all the animals that like the flood water habitat using an illustrated children’s nature book, but, nooooo, not my children! They had to don boots and drag their brand-new red wagon my parents purchased for them around our flooded yard. They would play outdoors for hours. One day my son ran in all excited and asked, “Is it red-on-yellow kill a fellow, and red-on-black friend of Jack?”  Do you see a recurring theme here?ChristinaSpaceShip

These two were not happy to read about nature in a book, they had to experience it, and so when I happened upon Cathy Duffy at a homeschool conference, it finally made sense! Learning styles, yes – I remember learning about those in my special education classes and then it hit me! Our styles were completely different and not only those of my children, but mine as well.

That doesn’t mean it happened overnight, nor does it mean that I couldn’t encourage my strong visual child to learn things orally as well. It just meant that I wasn’t trying to fit a square peg into a round hole any longer. I finally was able to hit on some compromises that worked for our family and we happily became a unit study, Charlotte Mason, textbook, workbooks, biographies, fiction author, eclectic type of family. One size does not always fit all – and I’m a case in point.

Have you struggled finding curriculum that works for your family? Or did you finally have an, “Aha!” moment like I did?

 

Felice Gerwitz is the host of Vintage Homeschool Moms show that airs on Monday at noon eastern time. Her guest is Cathy Duffy.

25-Tips to Save Money on Your Electricity

tips to save money electricity

I almost wanted to title this post, “Save money so your husband can take you out to dinner.” But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

My husband, Jeff is a home inspector as well as a builder and he often shares all types of money saving tips with me. He is very, very frugal. He turns off lights, turns the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter. He keeps windows and doors well sealed, and always goes with me when we buy appliances so he can look for the best energy savers. He likes to drive old cars, and finally has a Vintage Truck that gets very good gas mileage.

Our house is 20 years older than my daughter’s and about 3 thousand square feet bigger and yet our electric bill is around $150.00 per month, hers is about $20 less. Our bill fluctuates, obviously it is more in the summer when we run the air and the dryer.

Now, I realize I could save much more money on electric if I always hung out the clothes, but they are stiff as a board … so, if you have any tips on hanging towels outdoors and having them soft, please share that tip with me!

I on the other hand forget to turn off lights, leave my computer on all day (and night –shh) and sometimes I even forget to close the refrigerator quickly when I take things out for dinner. If he is home, Jeff’s eagle eyes notice all of these things. He loves to share helpful money saving hints like this, “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an energy rated bulb it could save enough money to run hundreds of thousands of cars. (The exact stats for this are on his home inspection website here.)

Or this helpful tips, “If I change 15 light bulbs with energy-savers, you could save $50 per year, and I can take you out to dinner.”

Now, that got my attention!

There are some environmental concerns as well as safety concerns with some of the new lights. Do your research and be informed. We live in sunny Florida and have a home that is wide open with lots of windows. So, turning on lights isn’t an issue during the day.

One time after a house remodel job for a customer we gained some new lighting. The recessed lights that the electrician installed were not what the owners wanted. My husband, the builder was delighted! He had the electrician change the lights, but kept the energy efficient ones because they were considered “used.” He happily brought home the lights and proceeded to change them immediately. It dipped our electric bill several dollars that month. We had energy efficient, but not this energy efficient!

Here are 25 Great Ways to save money that are low-cost or no-cost on saving energy:

  1. Turn off lights when you leave the room.
  2. Hand-wash and air-dry your dishes.
  3. Take shorter showers instead of baths.
  4. Air dry your hair instead of using the dryer.
  5. Make a plan before you open the refrigerator, close quickly.
  6. Replace and use light bulbs with energy savers.
  7. Use a timer on the hot water heater. They are easy to install.
  8. Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120° F
  9. Use solar outdoor lighting these recharge with the sun and cost less.
  10. Wash only full loads of clothes and use cold water whenever possible.
  11. Leave curtains open in the day to keep from turning on the lights.
  12. Turn off the shower or lower the stream while you shampoo your hair.
  13. Preheat your oven but use a timer – this will remind you it is ready to use.
  14. Eat more raw foods to use the oven less. It is healthier and saves money.
  15. Clean the coils under the refrigerator, this helps it work more efficiently.
  16. Look for the Energy Star labels on home appliances and products.
  17. Use heavier curtains in colder weather to keep heat in and cold out.
  18. Be sure the weather strip seals around your windows and doors are in good condition.
  19. If you have a pool use a timer to turn it on and off. (This saved us mega bucks a month.)
  20. Charge cell phones and electronic devices in the car instead of the house. Most fast charge that way.
  21. Use ceiling, box or pedestal fans instead of air-conditioning if possible. Keeping fans on will keep the room cooler.
  22. Use your grill. The food tastes better and propane goes a long way. Be sure to turn off the tank when finished.
  23. Use your dishwasher but don’t use the drying cycle and never run until full. Use one drinking cup all day long.
  24. Install a programmable thermostat keep the air at 80 or above in the summer & 67 or below in the Winter. This may vary by family comfort levels.
  25. Plug home electronics into power strips and turn the strips off when not in use (TVs and DVDs and computers in standby mode still use several watts of power). Unplug it when you leave the house.

Here is a Printable of the list below with an easy to use check list! Give it to your family and see how much money you can save on electricity today.

25-WaysToSaveOnElectric_LearningAtHome

 

Source_CopyrightFree_U.S.Department_of_Energy_Office_of_Energy_Efficiency_&_Renewable_Energy

Visit Energysavers.gov for more energy-saving ideas.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Copyright free.

Ron Paul thinks Homeschooling is the Answer

Ron Paul and Homeschooling

Ron Paul and Homeschooling

Ron Paul is known as a congressman and an outspoken libertarian, but did you know he is a homeschool advocate? Who would have known? I recently read his latest book, “The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System.” It touted homeschooling as the answer to the failed educational system. I couldn’t agree more.

You see, I’m a long-time homeschool parent. In 1986, after a failed attempt to have my special-needs son correctly placed in a special-needs class, I decided he would never go to public school. I enrolled him in a preschool and then a private school, only to lose a year and have to begin all over again when I took him “home.” I began homeschooling to give my high-functioning special-needs son a fair chance in a system I saw as broken.

My tax-payer dollars were not being used for the special-education program; they were being used for whatever the school principal mandated. I knew this because prior to marriage and kids, I was a special-ed teacher in a school that lacked the funding for books or manipulatives much-needed by my students. As a young idealist, I brought in popcorn as math manipulatives, taught students to string popcorn together as practice in fine-motor training, and created my own incentives. I even took the initiative to meet my students’ parents and caregivers, going to their homes when they could not drive to the school to meet me. You see, I cared. Some may say that I am bitter about my experiences with the public education system. I’m not.

Ron Paul made a case for homeschooling to replace the failed education system. He made a comparison of the way the postal service has been usurped by private enterprise such as UPS and FedEx. He believes homeschool and online services such as classes and schools will be more effective than the federal government in servicing students throughout the US.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that homeschooling is far superior to public education. I care about my children; what teacher will care about them as much as their mother does? There are a few. Many teachers give their hearts and resources to help students learn. My sister-in-laws, as well as my brother-in-law (co-host of the Current Issues and the Constitution class), are evidence of this fact! It isn’t the teachers (for the most part); it is the system that is broken. As with many other good teachers, I left the system and created not only this network, but my own curriculum, for my children as well as generations of children to come.

The public school system is overrun with bureaucracy as well as mandates that have little to do with reading, writing, or arithmetic. It is more concerned with liberal fairness, teaching evolution, and creating a group of twenty-somethings that want the state to support them in health care or any other entitlement program. Handouts come with a price: freedom.

My children understand the Constitution of the United States. They are articulate and bright. They have overcome obstacles set up as a detriment to the fact that they are “homeschoolers.” They have risen to the challenge and surpassed even my wildest expectations. My adult children have graduated from college with honors or gone into the workplace as American citizens that understand the value of hard work and family. They are not a product of an educational system that looks at them as a statistic and pigeonholes them into a class based upon age rather than ability.

As you may have guessed, I am an advocate for homeschooling K-12, and I agree with Ron Paul (even though I would not consider myself a libertarian) that homeschool students are important to our future liberties! I believe you will see many more homeschoolers becoming leaders in politics in the near future. If the United States is to have any Christian future it depends on homeschooling. Do you agree?

Listen to the original podcast interview with Ron Paul here.

 

Stress-Free Celebrations

 

Stress-free celebration

 

Regardless of the holiday you’re celebrating, there’s always a certain amount of stress to go with it. There’s no magic wand to make that disappear, but some thinking ahead can go a long way. Here’s what Felice has to say …

 

Is stress-free enough? Every year, I dream of a stress-free celebrations. I’ve created seminars on the topic for my Thanksgiving and Holiday Expo, I’ve drilled down to the things that really bother me during the holiday, and I plan ahead. Throughout the year, I keep an eye out for holiday bargains that won’t break my budget. But I’ve realized that during the holidays, there is going to be some measure of stress that just can’t be avoided. The strategies below keep me sane: enjoy this list from my Stress-Free Seminar.

Which one of these things can you implement in your holiday planning?

  • Plans with Prayer
    • Make a Plan
    • Plan to Break It
    • Cross Out
    • Add To
    • Discuss
  • Adult Privileges
    • Just Say No!
  • Exceptions:
    • Brings you peace and joy
    • You want to do it
    • You are obligated
  • Mommy Time Out
    • Meditations
    • Focus – 60 seconds
    • Praise music
  • Revive Your Soul
    • Music
    • Reading
    • Praying
    • DO the ONE thing
  • Gift Giving  –card wrap
    • Time
    • Creativity
    • Exchange
    • Encouragement
  • Back Up Plan
      • You aren’t in control
      • Take out the List and cross out
      • Enlist help
      • Regroup
    • The Reason for the Season
      • CHRISTmas (or THANKSgiving)
      • Attitude Check
        • Expectations – yours?
        • Expectations – family?
        • Others WORSE off
  • Permission Granted
    • Neck rub
    • Foot soak
    • Hand massage
    • Family snuggles
    • Eat chocolate or cookies!
  • Affirmations
    • You are loved
    • You are a child of God
    • You are special
    • You are unique
    • You are treasured

 

Regardless of the holiday (or holy day), with a little advanced planning you can make your celebrations more stress-free.

How do you plan to avoid stress during family celebrations? I’d love to hear from you!

Felice Gerwitz is a wife, mother and author who strives to keep stress out of her life — but knows that only with GOD are all things possible! Here is a handout she hopes you enjoy: Vintage Handouts Stress Free Holidays

How to teach teenagers about managing money (when you’re not doing so great yourself)

DollarsSenseShow10

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Teach Teenagers About Money

It’s tough to teach teenagers about managing money, especially if you’re not doing so great yourself!

But we all know that money management is an important skill that your teenagers will use every day of their adult life. They may never use Algebra II again, but money skills are vital.

I have an episode of the Dollars and Sense podcast to help you teach teenagers about managing money. Click here to listen

Our motivation to be teaching teenagers about money

  • Other people’s bad examples are all around us, including the US government.
  • We want them to avoid excessive debt. Did you know that college debt now exceeds credit card debt? Unbelievable!
  • Someone is watching you! So teach them how to avoid the mistakes you made.
  • We want to avoid boomerang kids, who are adults that return to live in their parents’ home, usually for financial reasons. Imaging the movie “Failure to Launch -Homeschool Style!” Always remember, we are raising adults, not children.

How to Teach Money Skills to a Teenager

  • Go with a natural style. Talk about money, what things cost, what people earn, decisions and trade-offs  a you go about your day. Stores are a great place to talk about money and choices.
  • Use real life examples. Share your own money stories (good or bad)  or those of people you read about in the news.
  • Get someone else to teach your teenagers. For example: Sunday school class, Scouts, or a homeschool co-op class. See the Resources below for curriculum that works well in a group setting.
  • Make personal finance a required class for graduation from your homeschool high school. The Resources below has several options for curriculum.

What to Teach Teenagers About Money

  • What things cost and what jobs earn.
  • Career exploration and post high school education.
  • Checking accounts and financial software such as Quicken or Ace Money Lite (it’s what I use and it’s free)
  • Budgets. One teenager I know is given $150/month as an allowance, but she has to buy everything: clothes, food, entertainment and gas.
  • Avoid credit card debt, but start building credit history in college.
  • Student loan debt. With her dad out of work, one college student chose a state school when shown the debt she would have from staying at a private college.
  • Taxes and federal spending. My husband says it’s his goal to raise taxpayers! We should all want that.
  • Entrepreneurship. My Micro Business for Teens books help a teenager earn money while learning a lot about business. Starting a Micro Business, a public television show features six students who started their own micro businesses. Ethan pays his own cell phone bill by teaching guitar and Linnea paid her way to China by tutoring.
  • Investing. Try a stock market simulation game.

Resources mentioned in the podcast

Schoolhouse Teachers  offers my Career Exploration 8 week class

Free! National Endowment Financial Education (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Curriculum http://www.hsfpp.org/

Generation Change for youth groups and Foundations in Personal Finance for schools at http://DaveRamsey.com

Discovering God’s Way of Handling Money from Crown.org 10 weeks, individual or class use

Money Matters for Teens Ages 15-18 Edition by Larry Burkett (oldie but still available on Amazon.com)

Micro Business For Teens books at http://MicroBusinessForTeens.com

Starting a Micro Business television show on YouTube

Our federal budget graphically displayed at http://WallStats.com

Tax return simulations from the IRS at Understanding Taxes www.irs.gov/app/UnderstandingTaxes

 

I hope you’re on your way to raising money-smart teenagers!

Carol Topp, CPA

Formerly Dollars and Sense now Homeschool CPA on Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network

How to teach homeschool teenagers about money

 

How do I Teach Politics to My Kids?

Politics today | How do I teach my kids politics? |homeschooling

Politics today | How do I teach my kids politics?Raising homeschooled teenagers in this current political climate is not fun, and that, my friends, is putting it mildly.

I’m frustrated. No, wait. I’m angry! Just think of all the years, I have spent as a parent raising children to love the Lord, do what is right, play fair, share, compromise, and think of others.

I teach my children to think, to form opinions that are sound. If they disagree, they can state these politely and without malice. It is the art of rhetoric and argumentation that is based upon evidence whenever possible. I work at modeling character qualities, not always successfully, but I try, because I know that character is caught more so than it is taught.

And what does the government do? It undermines my parental authority because I care. I care about my rights as a citizen… and my children have watched and listened as I’ve taught them how I feel about the following:

  1. The new health care plan.
  2. The raising of the debt ceiling only to hand a future generation the bill.
  3. Non-compromising politicians on both sides who use well-orchestrated press releases, and  buzzwords that incur the wrath of my remote control to change the channel.
  4. The disregard for many of the articles of the Constitution that leaves me stunned.
  5. The repayment of a fallen soldier’s loyalty with total disrespect of memorials and funds.

Who is to blame? We are.

As we waste our time blaming sides, our rights are being stripped away one by one, and my children see this, clearly. They ask: what can we do?

My parents were Italian immigrants who fled to this country because of Mussolini; they came to the United States of America, because it was the Land of the Free. My parents insisted I speak English and were happy they became American citizens. They taught my brothers and me that education was important and entrepreneurship was the key. They owned a bakery, ran a dress shop in the basement. My father finished the dresses in our home, for those who did not want to buy off-the-rack clothes. My parents  later purchased and ran a very successful restaurant. We lived many places: New York, outside of Ontario, Canada, and in Winter Haven, Florida. My parents were not afraid of hard work; they taught me that very well. They taught me that freedom was won with integrity and honor – and most of all we must be informed.

So can you imagine my chagrin when I heard my smart, beautiful, happy go-lucky, softball-playing teenage daughter told me, “I just don’t care anymore, Mom. I’m tired of being angry.”

What!

This was her response to an invitation to watch the news with me, and, it was a conservative news station. She doesn’t care? How did that happen? Didn’t I teach her better? Didn’t my carefully-selected history and government classes with God as the focus and the Constitution as a pillar show her time and time again that if you don’t care your rights will truly be stripped?

Yes, I did teach her better, and I know her response was a defense mechanism because she was weary of hearing the bickering on T.V., and so am I! As a Christian I know my hope is in God, not politicians, but I will not stand idly by. I will be praying. Every single one of those politicians has my prayers, because my God is a righteous one and His ways are not mine. I continue to hope for my children and for my country, the Land of the Free.

How are you encouraging your children with our current political mess? I want to know.

 

Felice Gerwitz is the moderator of Current Issues & the Constitution with her brother-in-law, Professor Wilson. The show airs in the archives.

Sponsored by: Media Angels Membership Site

media angels membership

 

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