Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World: Special Replay

This week we will discuss: Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World, special replay.

Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World, special replay.

Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World

Join Sabrina, Kym and Vicki for an important discussion about civility. Our world is increasingly unkind and uncivil. Teens are surrounded by political figures on the news who are crude, rude and unkind. Social media is full of ugly, unkind behavior. Civility seems to be going out of style.

This is so contradictory to the love of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. There is no room for unkindness there. If we are wise, we will train our teens to be civil in this uncivil world.

What is the difference between kindness, niceness and civility?

  • Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. The fruit grows in us as we grow in the Lord. It is a spiritual outgrowth of our love for God.
  • Niceness can be not-good. When someone acts *nice* but is actually a manipulative trickster who is trying to get you to do something you do not want to do.
    • So-called *nice people* can include abusive or manipulative friends, family or others (who always do what you want, until they explode).
  • Civil behavior, on the other hand,  is very intentionally good and wants what is best for the other.
    • Civility is not necessarily a natural process.
    • Civility has to be trained into our teens.

Why do we care that the world is an uncivil place?

Because we are all broken, so we can have compassion on other broken people.

When we operate in incivility we tend to emotionally eat each other up. Remember the book Millions of Cats? A peasant with a million cats found that they were a cranky and jealous bunch who got into such a big fight that they ate each other up. Here’s a video of that classic book.

  • We humans tend to take differences and make them a thing of hatred.

What are steps we can use to train our teens to be civil?

Remember: Hurt people hurt people.

  • The first thing you can do when you are about to fight back is to stop long enough to remember that this is a broken person who is acting out of that brokenness. This gives you a chance to calm down.
    • When you are suddenly angry or afraid, neural cortisol floods your brain for six seconds preparing you for fight, flight or freeze.
    • If you wait ten seconds, the cortisol flood will pass on by.
    • If you breathe during that ten seconds, it is even better.
  • Remember when your parents taught you to stop and count to ten? They were right!
  • Beware: The social media negativity feeding frenzy in this dog-eat-dog world.
  • Teach: your teens to ask themselves is there something they can feed themselves with, instead of negativity?
  • Draw emotional sustenance from:
  • Remembering: We are friends together
    • What are our good memories?
    • What are our common goals?
  • In the big picture we are actually on the same page, we are not actually on different teams after all, really.

Do not attack the person. Wrestle with the concept or idea but not the person.

  • Avoid ad hominem attacks. (Attacks on the person to deflect poor skills.)
  • Beware of HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
    • Nothing good can come of your communication if you are in HALT.
    • Take care of these needs and then come back to the issue.
  • Look to your deportment.
    • Look to how you are carrying yourself.
    • If you are about to snap, flatten yourself (take a breath, flatten your facial expressions).
    • Walk away before you hit send or enter. Do not type your angry comment in the comments, type it onto blank document.

Teens who learn to be civil are showing Christlike character. #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #Civility #SocialSkillsForTeens #HowToBeKind

How often do you mishear the meaning when a speaker is needed?

  • We sometimes misunderstand non-verbals.
    • Tone of voice
    • The body language
    • Do reflective listening:
  • Ask: Am I understanding what you are saying: repeat what you think you heard, non-judgmentally.
    • They can answer with a tweak of information so that you both are on the same page.

Teens do not come to these skills on their own. They need parents to:

  • Role model
  • Teach teens
  • Help them practice
  • Mom-shaming

There’s not ONE right way to do most of life. Do not judge others. Monitor your own self and emotions.

  • When someone hurts us, they have been listening to some other hurtful voices.
    • We can ask what hurtful voices they were listening to.
  • In the same token, what hurtful voices are we listening to.
    • Sit down with your teens and have some conversations about civility.
  • These conversations with your teens will train teens to be civil in an uncivil world.

 

Here’s another Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode on training your teens to become cultural influencers.

Or check out this post where teens explain how 7Sisters Great Christian Writers course was powerful for their character development.

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Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World

What to do When Your Homeschool is Behind

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: What to do When Your Homeschool is Behind.

What to do when your homeschool is behind

What to do When Your Homeschool is Behind

Need a little encouragement today? What if you are behind in your homeschooling? Is it a disaster? Can you catch up? Are you a failure? The answer is “NO!” Life happens sometimes and things get behind. It happens to most of us homeschooling families at some point or the other.

So what do we do when we are behind on the educational goals for our homeschoolers?

Tips for what to do when your homeschool is behind

Get ready for a little encouragement. You can do this!

Tip #1: Ask yourself: Is this a disaster?

Answer: No, it is NOT a disaster. So just take that thought off your plate. Take a deep breath and then get ready to recalibrate your own attitude from feeling like there is a disaster to “We can do this!”

The cool thing about recalibrating your attitude is that you can role model a growth mindset for your teens:

Things did not go as we planned BUT we are going to recalibrate to get where we need to go!

A growth mindset acknowledges the tough things but thinks positively about going forward.

Teens need to know that life is not an endless series of disasters. Yes, tough things happen but tough things do not define them. Rather, those tough things are an excuse to grow. In fact, a lot of life is about growing through the hard times.

Things did not go as we planned BUT we are going to recalibrate to get where we need to go!

Tip #2: Sit down with your teens and ask, “What do we want at the end of high school?”

When times have been tough for a while, it is easy for teens to get lost in “the weeds of right now”. (The same is true for us moms.) That is survival, of course.

However, there is a future! In the future, teens will graduate and need a transcript so they can do something after high school. Even if they are non-college bound (whether they are simply planning on a gap year, joining the military or will be studying for a trade), they will still need a transcript.

  • Many teens start out homeschooling high school, thinking that they will be college-bound. However, some of these teens, change their minds and decide on gap year, military or trades.
    • When that happens, it is a good time to reel in the academics. You can make academics more simple and more tailored to their goals.

However, if your teen is behind in their homeschooling but still wants to go to college, it is time to sit down and ask, “What do we need to get you ready for college?” Discuss with your teens:

  • Is community college a good fit for your teens goals? (Some states even have free tuition for community college.)
    • If this is so, you can recalibrate gently. Get caught up and feeling secure on the basic academics. This is because community colleges are not competitive like some four-year colleges. Rather, they exist to help serve their communities. (They can even do some remedial courses to start their community college experience.)
  • Are your teens interested in a more competitive four-year college.
    • Make plan together for moving forward with age appropriate academics, followed by a “scheduling backwards” plan for going forward with individual academics.

Tip #3: Then ask yourself and your teens, “realistically, what can we accomplish this year?”

  • If your teens are interested in a more competitive four-year college, (such as a state college) and they are a senior now, you might need some realistic recalibration of goals.
    • Your teens might have to do one year at the community college and earn high grades, then transfer.
  • On the other hand, if your teens are non-college-bound thinking gap year, military or trade school, this might a good time to sit together
    • And pare down the credit numbers and credit levels for simpler goals and then, graduation!
  • For a seriously stuck teen who is having anxiety and panic about catching up:
    • You might want to bring everything down to an average or remedial level for this year.
    • That way academics get done in a healthier, lower stress environment
    • Give them some Health credit time by getting some counseling. This is a GREAT life skill!

Make sure your teens are part of the discussion. This will earn you their buy-in.

Tips #4: If it is mid-year and your teen is behind in their textbook, ask these questions:

  • Do I need to take a look at the textbook and reduce the numbers of chapter questions or math problems that must be done?
  • Or do I need to trash this textbook and get something simpler or more fun? It is okay to start over.
  • Do I need to get online instruction with programs like:

Tip #5: If they are behind on their booklist for the year, do you need to:

  • Cut down on the number of books you planned for them to read?
  • Reduce the numbers of study guides they work on this year?
  • Use audiobooks for a quicker read and change of pace?
  • Switch out for shorter books?
  • Switch out for some easier-to-read books along with an inspiring study guide? (Think 7Sisters Chronicles of Narnia Literature Study Guides)
  • Count some books of the Bible? (We did this, for sure.)

Tip #6: If they are behind on labs for their Lab Science course?

Can you take the whole family on a field trip that can be part of a “science lab”?

  • For instance: zoo, nature centers, museums

Can your teen skip some of the labs in their lab manual?

Tip #7: Do a course or two over the summer

Sometimes, “summer school” is necessary for catch up!

Tip #8: To make sure they are not wasting good time, teach them study skills such as:

Tip #9: When you sit down with teens to talk about catching up on academics:

  • Get some snacks!
  • Go to a coffee shop together
  • Doing things over food, just makes things work better.

Remember, you can do this! Recalibrate and live in grace!

Join Vicki for an informative discussion on what to do when your homeschool is behind.

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Helping Teens Deal with Stress from Current Events

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Helping Teens Deal with Stress from Current Events.

Helping Teens Deal with Stress from Current Events

Helping Teens Deal with Stress from Current Events

This world is full of stressful news. The constant influx of anxiety producing, negative news can really take a toll on teens. As you might have noticed, it can be hard for adults to manage themselves well when their news feed and social media is bombarded with scary and anger-producing news. If it is difficult for adults, it is even more difficult for teens because they are younger in their human development and have less life experience.

With these things in mind, Vicki pulled on her counselor hat to give a few useful tools for teens during these times. (Vicki is a licensed professional counselor in private practice besides having homeschooled her kids.)

Tools for helping teens deal with stressful current events

There are a several tools for these current-event circumstances that can be stressful to teens.

Situation: There is something scary or stressful going on in the news. Your teen feels overwhelmed and comes to you about it.

You can choose one or more of these tools. On the other hand, you can also use these tools as steps.

Pray about it together

This may sound cheesy and you can say that to your teens. However, explain to them that the Number One thing you both can do is to stop right then and pray about it. Remind them of II Chronicles 7:14 which says:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin, and will heal their land. KJV

I know it sounds preachy, but do not get on a high horse with this. However, you can also explain I Timothy 2:1-2:

I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercession, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. KJV
Explain that these are scriptures that are guidance for us. God wants us to pray about these current events! (Maybe make it part of a family prayer time daily.)

Evaluate who is profiting from how you feel

The truth of the matter is, many of us (especially teens) get their news through social media. Whether it is TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or another platform, somebody is profiting on our attention to their presentations about this current event. Watch and and think:

Who is making money off my big feelings?

Is it:

  • News outlets?
  • Influencers?
  • Commentators?

These organizations or people get money from advertisers or supporters. Advertisers pay more for ads on coverage that gets more views, comments, likes or clicks.

Therefore, during “big” current events, news outlets, influencers and commentators tend to use more hyperbolic language. They use intense wording like:

  • So and so was SLAMMED on the new today
  • Disaster strikes

Just seeing these words causes our blood pressure to rise! When your blood pressure goes up, your brain tells you to watch out! (In media terms that means: watch more!)

This happens not just in social media but the big news outlets will do the same.

Not only that but in video media, people who are profiting off your big emotions will often use anxiety or anger producing non-verbals:

They will speak with staccato tones and exaggerate scary words by saying them loudly.

The WORLD Is Com-Ing To An END!!

Not only that but they often use much more arm, head and hand movement that signals fear and anxiety

So, when you see hyperbolic wording, you know someone is profiting on your anxiety or anger!

Reel those emotions in!

Teach your teens to imagine that their emotions are like a big ball of string. When they feel anxious or angry, those big emotions pull a LONG line of the string out of the ball. Have your teens visual pulling that string back into the ball.

This is SO important. Want to know why? It is because you can only think clearly when your emotions are small! Cortisol, the stress hormone floods, and fogs your brain! This turns off the logic system. Instead, of logic the brain reacts with fight, flight or freeze. (The media and influencers are pushing for the fight response.)

You and your teens are not denying that things are happening in the world. Rather, you are refusing to be manipulated for someone else’s profit!

The way to get the big feelings down is to take some deep breaths!

The oxygen from deep breathing is God’s gift to us to neutralize cortisol. Of course, one deep breath will not cure all cortisol. However, breathing exercises done regularly will significantly improve anxiety feelings over time. You can teach your teens some breathing exercises (Progressive Relaxation) with this freebie download from my coaching site.

Enough deep breathing will help bring the logic back online for them! Don’t fund the person or outlet with your anger or anxiety. Instead, breathe and stay clear minded and strong!

Do something practical

No matter what is going on, there is usually something practical you can do. For instance, currently there is a war going on in Ukraine. After praying, you and your teens can send a donation to a reputable organization that is there to help with humanitarian aide. Tell your teens that to these organizations who are helping in humanitarian ways know that every dollar counts. (So do not be ashamed of small donations!)

When I was a kid, I would watch Mr. Rogers on television. He would say:

When I was a boy and would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Do something practical like sending a helper a donation!

If there is a local situation, there are often tangible needs that your teens can help with, also:

Our brains feel better if we are doing, not sitting and stewing!

Our brains feel better if we are doing, not sitting and stewing!

Contact your elected officials

If it is a national or international current event that is of concern, write:

  • The President
  • Vice President
  • Your Senators
  • And your Representative in the House

They have staff that count letters, phone calls and emails. Elected officials know that if none of their constituents ever contacts them about a current event, their constituents do not care about that topic!

Tell your teens they do not need to be subject-matter experts to write a letter of concern. Subject-matter experts can write long, intelligent, information-filled letters. You and your teens are not SMEs so just share how you feel about the situation.

State level elected officials:

  • Governor
  • State Senators
  • Representative or Delegate

There are also County Councils, Mayors, and more!

You and your teens can also attend local meetings or visit other elected officials.

Teach your teens civility

Character matters. For ideas, check out this episode on teaching teens to be civil in an uncivil world.

When teens have something healthy they can do about stressful current events, they can start preparing to take their places in society- rather than living with anxiety.

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Helping Teens Deal with Stress from Current Events

Getting Teens Interested in Writing

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Getting Teens Interested in Writing.

Getting Teens Interested in Writing. Fun ways to ease your teen into becoming more interested and confident in their writing skills!

Getting Teens Interested in Writing

A lot of teens have either had not much experience writing, or they have had negative or overwhelming experiences with writing. So by the time they get to high school, they are just like, Gee, writing. 

How about if we reconstruct writing for our homeschool high schoolers, especially for those who have had those negative experiences or are inexperienced in writing? Let’s reconstruct things for them, so they can learn to write and communicate through writing in a way they actually feel successful in! They just might even enjoy and have fun with it! 

Wouldn’t that be cool?

Wouldn’t that be nice if your teen graduates from homeschool high school and feels confident in their high school writing skills? 

How To Get Your Teens Interested In Writing

First, know that there’s not just one right way to homeschool high school, and there’s not one right way to get writing done. But if we want to reconstruct high school writing and get teens interested, here are some ideas that could help. 

BTW- for more information on goals and grading for writing in homeschool high school, check out this episode.

Start With A Growth Mindset

A lot of times, those teens who come in with the self-doubt or negative writing experience say “writing’s dumb” or “I’m dumb” or “I can’t write.” And because of that, they have a block already about writing. They don’t believe their writing can be successful. 

A growth mindset gives them more confidence. So, instead of saying “I’m bad at writing” or “I hate writing,” they learn to say “I’m not a great writer yet, but I’m learning to be.” Or 

“I’m not there yet, but I’m learning that word, and I’m going to get there.” 

Change the perspective. Adjust the shutdown from “I can’t do this” or “I’m bad at this” to “I’m not there yet, but I’m going to get there.” That change gives teens confidence. It rewires their brain away from shutdown to possibility. Just changing a few words can help them. 

“You’re not there yet, but you’re going to get there.” Say it for them. Work it out with them. Then help them practice that in their writing. It will really help. 

Make Assignments Short and Simple

Another way to get teens interested in high school writing is by making assignments short and simply. Rather than give an inexperienced writer a 10-page research paper and tell them to go for it, and make them follow APA-style down to the letter, pull things back and make assignments short and simple.

Give them materials to work with that are little itsy bitsy bites like in psychology. We call it successive approximations. You take baby steps. One step, and then the next step, and then the next step. And then the next step. One step builds on another. And before you know it, they are capable of doing so much more, and they believe they can too.

So make assignments short and simple. And as often as possible, make them interesting or even fun. They can build on that, and they will go so much more quickly and successfully into the more detailed stuff.

Use Dictation Abilities

Some teens with special needs or who have so much self-doubt in themselves may need to make those early writing steps even easier, such as dictation abilities.

You can:

  • Have them dictate to you
  • Use tools like Dragon Dictation
  • Use voice-to-text

Once their words are in writing, they can do a little formatting and start to feel empowered. 

Try a progressive story for fun and inspiration

Write Together

Another way to get teens interested in writing is by writing together. For example, you can create a progressive story together. 

A progressive story begins with one person starting with a sentence. Then the next person adds on to that sentence, adding to the story. And on and on it goes. One sentence for one person. The sentences build upon each other, creating a story.

  • For example, the first person starts it off with the first sentence. 
    • “Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sally, and she lived in the woods.” 
  • Then you stop after that sentence, and the next person adds to it. 
    • “Sally went for a picnic one day and all of a sudden a big bear came.” 
  • And then the next person adds to it. 
    • “And the bear wanted her picnic and Sally was terrified.”
  • Next the last person says the last sentence.
    • “So Sally tickled the bear, and he ran away. “
  • Then that’s the end of that story. 

Progressive stories like that are silly and nonsensical, but what it gets teens doing is thinking in their creative part of their brain. (And it’s actually the problem-solving part of the brain too!)

These are a few ways to get your teens interested in writing in their homeschool high school years. Start small, and then once they have a little confidence with that, you can give them something a tad bit tougher and start building on that. As you do this, watch their high school writing skills bloom along with their confidence.

Join Vicki for some fun with getting teens interested in writing.

For more inspiration on writing:

Thanks to Richie Soares for help with the post and Seth Tillman for editing the podcast.

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Scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles.

Scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles

Scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles

Working on plans for the new school year? Planning English/Language Arts course for your homeschool high schoolers? If you are like many homeschooling families, your teens are enjoying 7Sisters One-Year ELA Bundles…but how do you schedule them?

As you probably know, 7Sisters One-Year ELA Bundles are complete ELA credits, one bundle for each year of homeschool high school. The distinctive about these bundles is that they are made of collections 7Sisters’ popular literature study guides, writing guides, cinema studies for literature learning guides and built in vocabulary and grammar…even public speaking is included!

Together, these cover the HUGE Language Arts credits.

Note: the bundles are not rigidly ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades. Every teen is different (that is why grade levels are suggested but no hard-fixed.)

Each of the bundles comes with scheduling instructions, but a little bit of encouragement from Sabrina might help homeschool moms feel a bit more confident with the planning.

The easiest ways to get the scheduling of the ELA Bundles completed is to download the FREE syllabus for each bundle.

These syllabi may be adapted for your teens’ needs. Remember: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school!

Common questions we receive about scheduling assignments in ELA Bundles

We love to receive questions, so we receive questions often! Here are some of the most common questions:

Question:

ELA Bundles include Literature Study Guide and Cinema Studies for Literature Learning Guides. These guides include essay prompts. However, if my teen has not completed the Essay Writing Guide, how can they handle the essays in the literature and cinema guides?

Answer:

There’s not one right way to handle this.

If your teen is experienced with essays already, start with their knowledge and write the literature and cinema guide essay prompts. Eventually they will be completing the essay writing guide and will add to their already existing their skills.

On the other hand, some teens can skip the essay. This is especially true if they have handled well the inferential skills in the literature guides.

Remember:

You want your teen to be challenged but not intimidated! Do not burnout your teens! Thus, if your teens need to drop an essay-writing assignment or two, they should do that. You want to preserve their love of learning.

Question:

How do you teach ELA Bundles in co-op settings?

Answer:

This is a good question for Sabrina. She taught these bundles to our teens in our co-op and homeschool umbrella school classes for years.

Typically, Sabrina has taught one or two literature (or cinema studies for literature learning) guide per every two to four weeks. This works out well for a nine month school year, since there are usually nine or ten guides in each bundle.

Books vary in length with some being shorter and some longer. Therefore, on longer books, Sabrina weights the longer reading assignments on the first week. This is because the earlier parts of many novels are lighter as far as inferential and analytical questions (which take more time and thought to answer). Why is that? It is because the earlier parts of the book are introducing characters, setting and plot, so questions are more “introductory”.

Therefore, if a your co-op class is taking four weeks to complete a literature study guide:

  • Have students read one third of the book during the first week, along with answering the questions for the reading and completing the vocabulary.
    • In class, introduce the themes and background material of the book and discuss what they understand about those particular themes.
  • During the second week, have your teens read a second third of the book, along with answering the questions for the reading.
    • In class discuss the themes for the book and discuss the questions from their homework.
  • Next, during the third week have your teens complete reading the book. They can then make a notes and outline for the essay in the literature guide. (Remember, you decide whether or not they will do those essays.)
    • In class discuss the themes for the book and discuss the questions from their homework.
  • Finally, teens complete their essays during the fourth week.
    • In class we discuss their essays, review themes and introduce the next book.

Question:

When should students do the vocabulary in the literature study guides?

Answer:

As always, there’s not ONE right way to handle the vocabulary.

  • Some students like to knock it out before they start the book
  • Other students handle the vocabulary in chunks, with each chapter.

Be sure to discuss this with your teens. What would work best for them.

We hope you and your homeschool high schoolers have the best year yet! Join Sabrina for wisdom and encouragement for scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles!

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Homeschooling Middle School Your Way

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Homeschooling Middle School Your Way.

Homeschooling Middle School Your Way

Homeschooling Middle School Your Way

We don’t often talk about middle school because we are so busy talking about high school. However, there are many, many homeschooling families that not only have high schoolers but middle schoolers as well. Not only that, but there are more and more families with middle schoolers who will be homeschooling all the way through graduation.

SO we get questions about the RIGHT way to homeschool middle school! (Can you guess what we are going to say? You are correct! There’s not ONE right way to homeschool middle school!)

However, parents of middle schoolers often feel a LOT of pressure to homeschool middle school correctly. They are told:

  • If your kids do not start working on high school material in middle school, they will not get into college when they graduate!
  • If you do not do serious academic work with your middle schoolers, they will not be ready for high school…and that means failure!
  • You must keep up with the educational Joneses!

Thus, middle school turns into a pressure-filled situation. Is that what your tweens need? Must middle school be filled with pressure?

SO, let’s talk about how seriously to take academics in homeschool middle school

Remember what we said: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool middle school.

With that in mind, let’s think about statistics: Most middle school students are average academians. That is because “average” is the statistic describing the middle of the population (usually the “bell” in the bell-shaped curve, if you like statistical graphs).

This means that some middle schoolers can start doing the higher-level maths (such as algebra or geometry) and enjoy them. This is especially true for the more academically bright tweens.

However, for many middle schoolers, these higher-level courses are not necessary. They will get to them in high school just fine and will not experience life failure as a result. They are not trying to compete for the most competitive colleges, such as Harvard. Rather, many homeschoolers will start out:

  • at local community colleges to save money
  • going to trade school
  • joining the military
  • or are aiming for less competitive colleges that have the best-fit for them

These middle schoolers are free to work on their academics at a more relaxed pace… in the right timing for them!

Homeschooling middle school your way

Really, really, really: You do not need to impress anybody…and neither does your middle schooler!

If your middle schooler thrives on doing seventh-grade math at seventh grade, followed by eighth-grade math at eighth grade, it is OKAY! If that is what is best for your family, put your shoulders back and chin up and do NOT be pressured to do otherwise!

Instead of heavy academics, why not fill middle school with rich experiences?

After all, middle school years are the last years where students can be free to truly experience learning adventures without being overly tied down to textbooks. High school can wait until high school for many middle schoolers.

Homeschooling high school (even for many unschoolers) will have a fair number of textbooks in order to earn the credits for graduation.

However, middle schoolers do not need to worry about earning credits. Instead, they can concentrate of building their love of learning. Just be sure to record all their cool experiences in their portfolios so you have a good record.

Here are some of the things we concentrated on during middle school

There are endless rich experiences that your tweens can build during middle school. They will extend many of these experiences into electives during high school but this is a good time to start. Think about:

Life skills

  • Cooking
  • Home maintenance
  • Home economics

Social skills and networking skills

If you can allow your tweens to explore and interest or gifting without pressure, they often will run with it. Some middle schoolers will ask about competitions in their interest areas. If so, go for it. However, if they just want to explore an interest for interest’s sake, why not?

On the other hand, there are middle schoolers who need the powerful academics

By the time these kids are in sixth or seventh grade, you know these kids. You understand that they are competitive academically (and often otherwise). You can see that they will be driven and WANT to go to a powerful college.

In that case, have them blast through their maths and other courses at their paces and interests. If they are:

  • Ready and want to do Algebra, Geometry and high school Sciences or Social Sciences
  • Or they are highly gifted in writing or other communication forms

let them run with it.

Give them resources: textbooks, mentors, courses…whatever is best fit for their learning styles. To hold them back to grade-level texts would stifle them with boredom. For these tweens, their interest and talent IS their academics.

Of course, with these tweens you often have to help them develop the life skills of work/life/social/self-care balances. Help them disrupt academics regularly with other activities.

It is good for young people to be the people they are! All kids are gifted in the way God made them to be gifted (check out this discussion on all kids being gifted).

My kid is being the best HIM that God made him to be.

For us moms: How to handle homeschooling middle school your way

Homeschooling middle school in the best way for our unique kids is wonderful at home. However, sometimes it can be a challenge for us moms. Especially when we are at co-op or with a group of other homeschool moms and someone is talking about their tweens’ WONDERFUL accomplishments!!

  • Sally won this amazing competition
  • Bob is just finishing Geometry with his tutor
  • George was just chosen for the Mensa program

And you are sitting there thinking, “My tween is plugging through seventh grade Math but he LOVES hiking and sketching what he sees. He doesn’t want to do a competition with the things he loves, he just wants to enjoy them.”

When your buddies ask you, “SO, what’s your kid doing?”

So you answer:

My kid is being the best HIM that God made him to be.

Because that is what he is called to do. AND we are called to help them be their best selves…not someone else’s best self.

That’s because there’s not ONE right way to homeschool middle school, so homeschool middle school your way.

Check out these wonderful Homeschool High School Podcast episodes:

Also, here’s a fun middle school acrostic.

Join Vicki and homeschool your way!

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State Reimbursement for 7Sisters Curriculum

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: State Reimbursement for 7Sisters Curriculum.

State Reimbursement for 7Sisters Curriculum

State Reimbursement for 7Sisters Curriculum

This week Sabrina explains how 7SistersHomeschool curriculum will work for state reimbursement. Now, do not get too excited! Not all states offer any reimbursement programs for curriculum!

However, some states DO offer at least partial reimbursement for curriculum purchases. Every state’s laws are different. Often states that offer reimbursement programs have very specific rules on how to go about being reimbursed. SO, if you are not sure what your state’s rules are, check your local homeschool organization or Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

If you DO live in a state that gives your a tax credit or reimbursement, then this episode is for you!

Is the curriculum from 7SistersHomeschool acceptable for reimbursement programs?

Until recently, we would have said, “maybe not”. That is because, each of us 7Sisters are of the Christian faith. We are each from different denominations but our overall worldview is shaped by our faith. Thus, it is often explicitly mentioned in our textbooks. (However, we are never pushy, judgmental or preachy with our messaging…just to be clear.)

In recent years, we have had consistent and increasing numbers of homeschooling parents who live in states that reimburse. They want to be good stewards of the family finances, which means it makes sense to avail themselves of the reimbursement programs. However, most states that give tax credits or have reimbursement programs require that curriculum NOT be used for “religious instruction”.

Often the term, “religious instruction” means that in the textbook there is mention of religion or is intended as religious instruction (or could be construed as such).

So HOW did 7Sisters handle this dilemma?

We want to help our 7th Sisters and their families. (BTW- there are six of us 7Sisters: Sabrina, Marilyn, Kym, Vicki, Allison and Sara. SO, who is the 7th Sister? YOU are!)

How could we help our homeschooling friends in states that reimburse use 7Sisters texts and still qualify for reimbursement? First, we thought and prayed and came up with a unique solution. Then we evaluated each:

  • Textbook
  • Literature Study Guide
  • Cinema Study Guide
  • Writing Guide

First, we searched through each text and guide and found the curricula that we could create a state-approvable version that does not damage the integrity of the material. Then we removed material in these curricula that was gave the appearance that we were giving (or attempting to give) religious instruction, teach the Bible or Christian ways of living or model preachiness of any kind.

However, if you download a piece of curriculum that you do not feel will not meet your state’s guidelines, pay attention to your gut! It was our intention to present curriculum that did not include any semblance of religious instruction. When we evaluated the adapted texts and guides, we feel we did well with this. But if your gut says you do not think it will work in your state, contact us and ask for a refund. As you probably know, 7SistersHomeschool is proud of our:

10-Day No-Questions-Asked Money-Back Guarantee on all 7Sisters EBook curriculum!

SO you do not have any risk when you purchase our curriculum! Just scroll down in the 7Sisters bookstore to the category: Curriculum Acceptable for State Reimbursement. There you will find the titles that have been adjusted to be free from religious instruction.

Please note: Some 7Sisters curriculum could not be adapted to be free from religious instruction!

Some of our textbooks and guides simply could not be adapted to be reimbursable. Take for instance:

However, some textbooks and guides could be adapted to be free from religious instruction while maintaining the integrity of the material

If there is a character in a study guide who is a person of faith (such as the priest in Les Miserables), we ask questions that work on literature analysis. Thus, we do not ask religiously-oriented questions.

Some titles that have been adapted to be acceptable for state reimbursement for 7Sisters curriculum include:

PLUS, many:

  • Cinema Studies for Literature Learning Guides
  • Literature Study Guides
  • Shakespeare Study Guides
  • Writing Guides (Short Stories, Essays, Poetry, Creative Chronicling, College Essays)

Not only that but ALL four Complete Bundles (Literature, Writing, Vocabulary, etc) have been adapted to be acceptable for state reimbursement, such as:

One Year of High School English/Language Arts (a good fit for 9th grade)

Look for the RED STICKER on the cover of textbooks and guides OR simply scroll through the bookstore to the category: Curriculum Acceptable for State Reimbursement.

Join Sabrina for encouragement for choosing reimbursable curriculum AND if you need more information on choosing curriculum, check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode.

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Handling Homeschool Fears, Interview with Homeschool Super Freak

This week on Homeschoool Highschool Podcast: Handling Homeschool Fears, Interview with Homeschool Super Freak.

Handling Homeschool Fears, Interview with Homeschool Super Freak

Handling Homeschool Fears, Interview with Homeschool Super Freak

We are so excited this week to have a chance to chat with a favorite new friend from social media. Vicki has been enjoying Homeschool Super Freak’s posts on Facebook, Homeschool Super Freak website and Parent Busters podcast episodes! So, Vicki contacted her and arranged for today’s interview about what to do with fears about homeschooling!

Homeschool Super Freak is Jacqueline Wilson and everyone who knows her knows how unstuffy and fun she is!

Parent Busters podcast is about having fun learning and sharing fun ideas for learning.

Jacqui’s daughter started out her education with traditional preschool. However, Jacqui always know that she wanted to homeschool her daughter. Jacqui comes from a healthcare background and was a college adjunct professor. Therefore, she had LOTS of research skills…so she researched, researched, researched form six months before she started homeschooling her preschool daughter. After six months of research, she was ready to start with lesson plans in a fat binder and an official school room. However, on their first official day of homeschooling, after only two hours, Jacqui knew that all her research was not going to work for her unique daughter!

Now, ten years later, she is still homeschooling…without the fat binder. Instead, she and her daughter plan an eclectic mix of online classes and unschooling.

Handling homeschool fears

After a decade of experience, Jacqui has learned some things that will help you increase your confidence that you CAN homeschool high school…in your unique way.

There’s not ONE blueprint that fits every family’s homeschool high school

Every parent and every teen is different. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can adapt your educational plans to fit your family’s unique needs and goals. So enjoy the process and freedom of homeschooling YOUR way!

Check out your state homeschool laws

Every state has different requirements. Some are more restrictive that others. Then start planning around those laws.

Do not worry if you have qualifications to teach

Research has shown that you do not need a teaching degree in order to have a successful homeschool. You only need to care and be committed to the homeschooling process. The cool thing is that you can learn alongside your teens!

Also, as you are homeschooling high schoolers, you really become a resource manager rather than a teacher. They will learn lots in online courses, co-op classes, library activities, podcasts and exploring topics on their own (earning credits by logging hours).

Do not worry about failing

There’s no perfect homeschool (also, there’s no perfect traditional school). People are imperfect. You will gain more confidence and skills as you go. You can model the resilience of bouncing back after a tough day or bad-fit curriculum. This gives them a growth mindset.

Let your teen have a say in how they want to be educated

Talk about their strengths and interests. Then, build a unit study around those strengths and interests BEFORE you start in on textbooks. This gives you an interesting hands-on experience to watch how your teens learn.

After your unit study, you will know more about what kind of curriculum your teens may want and need.

It will take ALL our time

In a traditional school setting, class time periods are LONG each day. However, learning can go much quicker in your homeschool because there is less wasted time changing courses and busywork.

(Check your state laws for attendance requirements.)

You can homeschool on your family rhythms

You do not need to have your teens up and sitting at a desk by 8:00am if they are not early birds. Instead, you can help your teens find their best times of day to do their academics. Some teens work best in the mornings. However, some teens would rather work in the afternoons or evenings. There’s not ONE right way!

Teens thrive when they have permission to be themselves and learn their way.

Relax into the learning

As you believe that you can do it, you will find that you are relaxing into how to homeschool. Then you can allow your teen to teach you how they learn. Teens thrive when they have permission to be themselves and learn their way.

Plan together

Each summer, it is wise to sit with your homeschool high schooler and make plans together. Discuss state requirements as well as your teen’s interests and goals. (Remember, you do not HAVE to follow your local public school’s schedule.)

Check out colleges, military or trade skills in the area and list things those institutions are looking for.

Explore opportunities and desires for learning. Then make some plans that already have your teen’s buy-in!

Don’t be afraid to give teens a say in their education! They will have ownership of their education and you will both have more fun!

Remember, you will never cover everything

Life is never-ending education. If teens learn to love learning, then they will keep it going, even as adults.

Don’t forget life skills

Don’t get so stressed with academics that you forget to help your teens prepare for adulting. They will not always be doing academics but they will be using life skills, such as:

  • Paying bills
  • Doing chores
  • Managing themselves

Those life skills are some of the most important things they will learn during their homeschool high school years.

You can find Jacqueline Wilson at:

Homeschool high school? You can DO this! Join Vicki and Jacqui for a fun discussion for handling homeschool fears.

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Resources for Learning Spanish, Interview with Karim Morato

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Resources for Learning Spanish, Interview with Karim Morato.Resources for Learning Spanish, Interview with Karim Morato

We are joined today by our dear friend, Karim Morato. Karim is a popular Spanish teacher who owns, heads the courses and teaches curriculum at Spanish Educational Solutions and Homeschool Spanish Curriculum. Because she was born in Guatemala and has experience with Latin culture and the richness of her native tongue as well as her education degree in the US, she can give students unique Spanish-learning experiences!

Karim and her husband have been homeschooling their three children. Their oldest has graduated and is in college. Her second child graduated from homeschool high school this year! Fortunately for Karim, she still has one in middle school…so a few more years of homeschoooling high school.

Karim is passionate about helping parents help their kids learn Spanish. She is also passionate about helping young people learn the various Spanish-related cultures. Not only that, but Karim is the Spanish-language co-ordinator and an advisor at HSLDA. She is busy empowering parents for home education!

As Vicki says, one of the best ways to learn a world language is from a world language native speaker!

Homeschooling in the Hispanic community is really growing these days

Karim notes that there have been some Hispanic homeschooling families since the early days. However, there were not enough to provide a sense of Hispanic community within the homeschooling culture. One of the few good things that came out of the pandemic was that leaders within the Hispanic community rose up to help families homeschool well during the lockdowns. Now that there are leaders and community, more families kept homeschooling after schools opened back up.

HSLDA has been part of enabling Hispanic leaders to help their communities. Karim got connected with them in the funniest way. We were all at our beloved 2:1 Conference several years ago. Karim was scheduled, along with a group of blogging friends, to go to lunch with us from 7Sisters. However, she got stuck in a conversation with a representative from Homeschool Legal Defense Association and missed the ride. However, that connection gave HSLDA a “know-someone” who is respected in the Hispanic community. One thing led to another and she became the HSLDA outreach coordinator for the Hispanic homeschool community.

This is such a good example of the power of connection. People connection is a way that communities grow and stay healthy!

Recently Karim was part of HSLDA’s first official Spanish homeschool conference in April 2022. There were two hundred fifty families attending! Since then, Karim has been involved with some online workshops and conferences as well. There are so many Spanish resources for homeschooling now!

Now other homeschool organizations such as Home Education Association of Virginia have added a Spanish track to their annual conference.

As Vicki points out that God made all of us to be brothers and sisters in the Lord. He also made each of us unique. Therefore, to be Hispanic in the homeschool community is a unique situation. It is so exciting to see how God is opening doors for the unity and diversity within his homeschooling community! We can love each other as the children of God in all the different ways!

How can you connect with our diverse homeschool community? (and teach your children these skills)

Connecting a loving and diverse community is as simple as:

  • saying “Hi” at a group function
  • sitting with different people at gatherings
  • inviting a new family over for a dinner or to a field trip

These are all great social skills to model for our homeschoolers and examples of Christ’s lovingness, as well as creating a welcoming community!

Making connections helps teens learn.

Resources for learning Spanish

It is SO good for young people to learn Spanish from a native Spanish speaker like Karim. There are also advantages to learning Spanish from a teacher like Karim. She can share with homeschool high schoolers Hispanic cultures and traditions in a way that someone raised in the United States could not. This is adds a richness of learning that make learning Spanish much more meaningful!

Karim has a Masters in Education and specializes in curriculum creation. Therefore she can bring an excellent Spanish experience to her students through her Spanish-teaching organizations.

The first thing students learn is to think of Spanish, not as a language, but as people. That is because, young people learn better through connections. If they think about people, they feel connected and then connect to their language-learning better.

The next thing Karim works on with her students is their connection to the future. She helps them think about the possibilities of needing to speak Spanish in different situations. For instance:

  • What if they go on a missions trip to a Spanish-speaking country?
  • Or what if they have a career that requires travel to a Spanish-speaking area?

After that, Karim works on optional mentoring connections for families that want to learn Spanish together. This gives teens practice in conversations with real people. This is time when they do not need to worry about grammar or getting everything spoken correctly. Rather, it is a chance to practice, have fun and develop confidence in learning Spanish. Karim’s mentors are Spanish speakers from Spanish-speakers from all over the world!

Karim’s resources for learning Spanish

Check out Karim’s programs at Homeschool Spanish Curriculum. There are so many ways to learn Spanish there!

Also find Karim on:

Karim is one of those people who bring joy into the world. Join Karim and Vicki for an encouraging discussion on learning Spanish!

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Tips for Homeschooling High School, Interview with Natalie Mack

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Tips for Homeschooling High School, Interview with Natalie Mack.

Tips for Homeschooling High School, Interview with Natalie Mack

Tips for Homeschooling High School, Interview with Natalie Mack

Vicki and Natalie are so excited to finally connect! We have been waiting to connect to share Natalie’s expertise on homeschooling high school!

Natalie Mack is a retired Navy chaplain’s spouse (after thirty-four years of service). She is a passion military spouse advocate because she knows that the military spouses are the ones who are holding military bases and military families together. The whole family serves!

Not only that, but she is a homeschool mom (who is a passionate advocate for all homeschooling families- and especially military homeschooling families). She has five kids.

  • Her oldest graduated from Liberty University and George Washington University (Masters in International Education- fluent in Mandarin and conversational in Russian). She is currently an International Baccalaureate coordinator for the Washington DC public school system.
  • Natalie’s second daughter is a “kick-butt soccer athlete” who played Division One soccer for Liberty University. She recently completed her Masters in Social Work at Howard University. Besides preparing for her social work career, she is also on a professional indoor soccer player.
  • Her oldest son graduated from American University’s School of International Service. He worked on a Congressional campaign for a season and is now working for a nonprofit.
  • Natalie’s second son is an Honor College student at George Mason University, a Bonners scholar there.
  • Her youngest son is fifteen. He is kind of like an only child now because his siblings are all in college or beyond.

Despite being down to one high schooler at home, Natalie is still super busy. When her kids asked her why she was still so busy, she told them that she is finally doing all the things she could not do when she was homeschooling five kids as a military wife. This is a new season but there is no time to sit around eating bonbons!

These days, when she is not working on lessons with her youngest, Natalie is:

Advice from Natalie about homeschooling high school:

Natalie has gained lots of wisdom over many years of homeschooling high school! Here are a few.

When things feel thankless, remember that someday your teens will be grown up- they will thank you then

Natalie knows from experience. Sometimes homeschool days can be thankless. On those days, you have to keep on keeping on- putting one foot in front of the other. You will make it. You can do this!

Trust the process

You may feel like you are venturing into the unknown when you start homeschooling high school. That is okay. You can do this. Try not to get overwhelmed by the newness of it all (and the fears of failure). You can trust the process where you are learning how to homeschool high school right along with your teens.

Take time to enjoy your teens.

Take time to enjoy your teens

Of course, while your teens are in high school, academics are priority. However, try not to get so focused on those academics that you do not have time to enjoy your teens. Who says that every day you have to max it out till four o’clock? If you and your teens work on academics intensely all day, every day, you (and your kids) will not have anything left to give.

Use the flexibility of homeschooling to take time to enjoy. You will want your teens to still like you (and it is hard for them to do that if they feel burned out).

There will be bad days when no schooling gets done

No one will go to hell just because it is a rotten day and schoolwork needs to be set aside. Tomorrow is a new day full of grace for you and your teens. You can model resilience for your teens- it is a GREAT life skill.

So on terrible, no-good, very-bad days, remember grace and fresh starts tomorrow!

Join a support group

Natalie knows how the support groups have been important for her homeschool success and encouragement. She suggests to look for:

Remember lots of prayer

Prayer is the key to success! You need God’s strength, grace and peace for the homeschool high school journey! God is there to helpl.

Join Vicki and Natalie for a good dose of encouragement and some tips for homeschooling high school!

Also check out these Homeschool Highschool Podcast episodes if you have a teen who is thinking about a military career:

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