How to Earn Service Hours for the Homeschool Transcript

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Earn Service Hours for the Homeschool Transcript.

How to Earn Service Hours for the Homeschool Transcript

How to Earn Service Hours for the Homeschool Transcript

One of the blessings of homeschooling high school is the freedom to build a lifestyle of service for your teens. Volunteering and service mindsets help build good character. Not only that, but they build a good transcript!

Adding service or volunteer hours to a transcript gives it sparkle, which makes transcripts college-attractive. Admissions officers are often looking for students who understand how to build into a community because this can help build good college culture. That is, colleges like to know that homeschool high schoolers are not just sitting at home, but know how to contribute good to the world around him.

However, for non-college-bound teens, why not add your teens’ service hours to the transcript? When you show your teens’ full high school experience, it gives them a more accurate record of their high school years. In this case, transcripts become good memory holders. Not only that but it helps homeschool graduates remember things they can talk about in job interviews:

Tell me about yourself.

Well, not only am I prepared for this job, but I also have a history of being involved in my community…

So, how do you record your teens’ service hours and activities on the transcript?

As you know, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school…or to handle homeschool transcripts. However, I will share with you how we handle recording service and volunteer activities.

Record service hours

At the foot of the transcript, we include a section called “Service Hours”. In it we simply record the total number of hours our teens have done service or volunteer work.

This is similar to the way some traditional schools handle recording service on their transcripts. They have a “required number of service hours” for their high schoolers and they simply record the number of hours each teen has earned (equal to or above the required number).

We homeschooling families do not usually need a “required number of service hours” for our teens, since volunteerism is often part of our family lifestyles.

Anyway, you can simply have a section on the transcript titles Service Hours and simply record that total number of hours.

In the Extracurriculars section on the transcript, list service that is done regularly

We list our teens frequent activities in the Extracurricular section of the transcript, along with the school year(s) they were done. For instance, if our teens volunteered in the church nursery each month for their junior and senior years of high school, we would list as Extracurriculars:

Church nursery volunteer, 11th and 12th grades

We do this because it shows commitment and consistency in at least some of their volunteer activities. This does not mean that they should not participate in one-off service projects. Of course they should! However, those are not recorded as Extracurriculars.

What are some ideas for service for homeschool high schoolers?

There’s not ONE right way to earn service hours for the homeschool transcript! That is because there are so many factors in making decisions on how to serve. For instance:

  • What are your teens’ interests? Are there volunteer opportunities there?
  • Are there service opportunities available in the local community, such as church or homeschool groups?
  • What is mom available for? Really! Until teens can drive on their own, parents are doing the driving back and forth. This means juggling homeschooling lessons and family needs for the whole family.

Here are some service activities that our homeschool high schoolers have done for their homeschool transcripts:

  • Digital volunteer work (check out this episode of Homeschooling with Technology for tons of ideas)
  • Citizen Science (check Nasa’s website or your state’s natural resources department, they have citizen science opportunities)
  • Church service (nursery, Sunday school, set up/clean up, sound systems, worship team, church office help)
  • Missions trips (btw- not only have we given our teens some service hours- thirty-four to forty hours per week, but we also give them a quarter credit of “Cross Cultural Experience” as a Social Studies elective in the Courses section of the transcript.
  • Helping out the elderly- look around the neighborhood and see who needs leaves raked, lawns mowed or snow shoveled or home maintenance and do it for free.
  • Also, single moms- they often need the same things as the elderly. Who are the single mothers in your church or neighborhood. ALSO- babysitting.
  • Families in a crisis time, such as a parent in the hospital or experiencing an unexpected loss. Have teens prepare and bring a meal or do some babysitting.
  • Local organizations of interests to teens:
  • Animal shelter volunteers
  • Service animal training
  • Libraries
  • Hospitals
  • Zoos
  • Non-profits (Vicki’s teens did projects for Urban Promise)
  • Fire companies
  • Food banks (church food pantries, community food banks)
  • Rescue missions or homeless volunteerism
  • Even more ideas on volunteerism from our friend, Ticia Messing

How do you choose service opportunities for your teens?

Make this part part of your homeschool planning times and include your teens in a discussion on what they would like to do. Think about and discuss:

  • Their interests
  • Career goals (if they do not have a clue, check out this Career Exploration guide in our Authoritative Guide series of posts)
  • New experiences they would be willing to explore
  • What your family has time for
  • Needs in community and church

As you discuss this together, you both come to good ideas. Not only that, teens start building their confidence and personal meaning as they think about and begin volunteering.

Join Vicki for a discussion on service for the homeschool transcript.

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What Counts as Phys Ed for Homeschool High School?

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: What Counts as Phys Ed for Homeschool High School?

What Counts as Phys Ed for Homeschool High School?

What Counts as Phys Ed for Homeschool High School?

As you know, homeschool high schoolers need some physical education credit in order to meet graduation requirements in most states. They also need those PE credits to give them a well-balanced lifestyle (and transcript).

You may also know that 7SistersHomeschool released a fitness/phys ed curriculum that is so useful that that it has become popular for many homeschooling high school families!

While we are talking about what you already know: you already know that there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school OR to earn Phys Ed credits. So let’s get creative and talk about ways to earn those credits.

First: How many credits of Phys Ed does a homeschool high schooler need for graduation?

Many states only require one credit of Physical Education for graduation. In our area, teens need two credits of PE for their transcripts. However, teens who are going into a sports or fitness related career will most likely benefit from earning a full Phys Ed credit of some kind each year.

Graduation requirements are not the only factor in deciding how many credits of PE a teen needs. That is because every teen is different!

  • Some teens are “squeakers”. They do not like physical activity, so will barely squeak by with what is required.
  • Other teens are “fitness feels good, but I’m not a nut about it”.
  • Some teens are really into one or two sports and rack up hours practicing.
  • Other teens love the feeling of being fit but are not into sports!

Next, what are the benefits of Phys Ed credits for homeschool high schoolers?

Physical Education is not a core curriculum course like English/Language Arts, Math, Social Studies or Science, so it can be easy to make it a low priority. However, there are some important benefits of including in the homeschool schedule PE or fitness in some form.

7SistersHomeschool’s Fitness curriculum helps students understand the physical benefits of spending time on PE. When teens understand why PE is important, they are more likely to engage a healthy fitness program.

Physical benefits of PE are not the only reasons to prioritize fitness. In Vicki’s job as a counselor, she has learned that young people who get aerobic-type exercise. (This means that they have walked, played, danced, worked out, etc until their heart pumps harder. This, in turn, increases blood flow which helps the brain work better. That is because the more blood a teen’s brain gets, the more oxygen and micronutrients go to the brain. These are the foundational elements that make a brain work!

If the brain is working more efficiently, teens experience:

  • More efficient learning
  • Better recall
  • More use of logic systems

Also increased oxygen from physical activity combats stress hormones. When stress hormones are reduced, teens feel less anxiety and depression! Not only that, the reduced stress hormone levels tend to help teens sleep better.

So many things can count as Phys Ed!

So, what counts as Phys Ed for homeschool high school?

There are lots of ways to earn PE credits! That is good news because there are lots of kinds of teens. Remember: there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school (or earn a PE credit). Here are a few:

Use a fitness curriculum that includes exercise videos and instruction

  • A good example of this is 7Sisters’ Foundations of Physical Fitness (which includes videos and logs). This curriculum was created by two personal trainers (7Sister Sara’s sons) based on their experiences as homeschool graduates and fitness experts.
    • Different Types of Fitness
    • Progressive Overload
    • Compound Exercises vs Isolation Exercises
    • Form is King
    • Cardiovascular Exercise
    • Stretching and Mobility
    • Real Fitness vs Fake Fitness
    • Fit for Service
    • Text (for 1/2 credit)
    • Tests and Answer Key
    • How-to Videos and Progress Charts (to complete the credit log 60-90 hours of fitness activity according to the videos and your teen’s interest)
    • Suggested Syllabus

For busy teens who do not have time for a full fitness program, keep log sheets and gradually earn a Carnegie credit

One way to earn a high school credit is to log 120-180 hours of educational experience (the number of hours needed to earn a credit varies by state or supervising organization such as an umbrella school).

Logging the required number of hours for Phys Ed credit(s) can be done over the high school years…as long as you do not loose those log sheets! Here are some ways that our local homeschool high schoolers have logged PE hours:

  • Going for daily walks
  • Walking the dog
  • Digital fitness games and apps
  • Workouts at home or gym
  • Indoor chores (good life skills!)
  • Outdoor chores (more good life skills)
  • Gardening
  • Dance lessons
  • Karate lessons
  • Swim team
  • Bowling league
  • Hockey league
  • Baseball and softball teams
  • Soccer teams
  • Workouts at Civil Air Patrol
  • Nature hikes
  • Geocaching
  • Orienteering
  • Juggling
  • Skating
  • Golfing
  • Bike riding
  • Ballroom dance lessons

Don’t forget to log all the walking time your teens do on family vacations or homeschool co-op field trips.

Then, when enough hours have been logged over time, the teens earn a credit of Phys Ed.

How do you grade Phys Ed for the homeschool transcript?

There’s not one right way to grade PE. However, if you are using a textbook, graded assignments and tests will give you a grade.

Other ways to grade Phys Ed include:

  • Pass/fail
  • Attitude and effort
  • Self assessment and discussion with parent

Do you include Phys Ed in GPA?

That’s up to you! Many homeschool high schoolers do not include PE as part of the GPA because it is not a core course. However, it is okay to include it in the GPA if that works well for your teen. Including GPA would be most useful for teens who want to go to college to study a subject related to fitness or sports.

Join Vicki for a discussion on what counts as Phys Ed for homeschool high school.

In the meantime, check out our fellow podcasters such as:

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Special Replay: How to be Thankful-er

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast a special replay: How to be Thankful-er!

How to be Thankful-er

How to be Thankful-er

Gratitude is important, whether it is Thanksgiving time or not. In this episode, Sabrina, Vicki and Kym are together to talk about gratitude and how to be more thankful!

Thankfulness is a healthy life skill for homeschool high schoolers (and their parents) to learn and practice. So let’s get started:

We are thankful to you, all our 7th Sisters and 7th Siblings. (Who are our 7th Sisters? Well, there are six of us 7Sisters: Sabrina, Vicki, Kym, Allison, Marilyn and Sara. That means YOU are our 7th Sisters…or 7th Siblings for you dads out there.)

Max Lucado says in his book, Anxious for Nothing, that teenagers’ average levels of anxiety are comparable to the anxiety of people who were in inpatient mental health programs in the 1950s. Did you catch that? That is shocking information- so much pain for folks in America these days.

Why is life so stressful these days?

Our fast-paced, photoshopped, achievement oriented culture has put a lot of pressure on teens, such as;

  • Social media shows a picture perfect world
  • Pressures from the digital sphere often push teens to feel they need to live as if everything is an “event” requiring:
    • preparation
    • presentation
    • planning
  • FOMO (in case you forgot: Fear of Missing Out
  • We live in a high performance world that expects teens to achieve, achieve, achieve
  • Also, these days, the covid pandemic and other crises

What to to help our teens and ourselves feel less stress and anxiety?

We need to learn gratitude! The University of California’s Greater Good Science Center has studied things that make people feel better. They have found that people who practice written gratitude tend to improve in mood and health.

One study that Greater Good Science Center did found that people who did a written gratitude list experienced:

  • Improvement in anxiety and depression levels
  • Fewer sick visits to the doctor
  • Observable change in one of the brain’s calm-down centers

Imagine that! Science and research catches up with Scripture. We know that Scripture has been reminding us to be thankful for thousands of years!

  • Ways to notice the good things in your world
  • Ways to model gratitude for your teens and youngers

Kym recalled that being in seventh grade started a new school. It was a different setting than she was used to: from a school in the city to a suburban setting. On her first day there, she was feeling nervous. On her way back from gym class, she realized,

“Wow! I could just be positive and it would make my life better. Not only that but it might make life better for someone else!”

Kym is so grateful today that God wired her for gratitude. It has helped her through stressful times and struggles ever since that time. Here is a resource Kym finds inspiring:

The books of Jon Gordon. He is a person who was naturally negative but learned to be positive after being challenged by his wife. One of the thankfulness practices that Kym learned from him is to take a daily “thankfulness walk”.

Kym also practices a nightly review of the positive things that:

  • She has done that day
  • Others have done for her that day
  • Anything else she can think of to be thankful for
  • Here’s a post with more Kym-like ideas for thanksgiving

Sabrina points out that Kym has been a gratitude inspiration to her and her son-in-law during a beach trip their families all took together. In fact, Sabrina’s son-in-law told her that when he “grew up” he wanted to be Kym because she was so enthusiastic and noticed the good things in life. Sabrina noticed that Kym was even blessed by seeing the well-done lines in a parking lot!

Vicki also mentioned she enjoys the encouragement of books by John Maxwell.

It is much harder to angst and spazz when standing before the throne of God if you start the prayer with gratitude!- Sabrina Justison

Start prayer with gratitude

Sabrina has found that whenever she is troubled about something, she wants to pray about it. However, she found that when she starts the prayer with “thank you”, she actually feels better than starting with the troubles.

With that in mind you can remember Sabrina’s favorite quote:

It is much harder to angst and spazz when standing before the throne of God if you start the prayer with gratitude!

How do you help teens learn to be thankful-er?

Teens sometimes think parents are irritating if they lecture about any topic. However, you can model gratitude for them!

  • Take them on thankful walks and talk about what you are doing on the walk
  • Model thankfulness and gratitude
  • Keep a gratitude journal daily (and let the family see you work on it sometimes)
  • Pray that God put role models in their lives who will live a lifestyle of thankfulness
  • Model “taking a break” for self-care and gratitude

You can also ask them about ways they could practice being a grateful person. (They might have an app for that!)

Also, be sure that you:

  • Occasionally thank them for daily good behaviors
  • Alway thank them for special kindnesses they have done
  • This attitude of thankfulness tends to improve relationships and work habits!

Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for lots of tips on how to be thankful-er.

What are some good resources that you have found for learning or practicing gratitude?

In the meantime, enjoy a few helpful posts from Vicki’s coaching business and 7SistersHomeschool.com!

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How to be Thankful-er

 


Helping Teens Have Healthy Relationships with Food, Interview with Kassandra Baker

This week on the Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Helping Teens Have Healthy Relationships with Food, Interview with Kassandra Baker.

Helping Teens Have Healthy Relationships with Food, Interview with Kassandra Baker

Helping Teens Have Healthy Relationships with Food, Interview with Kassandra Baker

Note: The topic of food can be a trigger for some people. This episode contains an encouraging discussion with our friend Kassandra Baker in which she discusses healthy relationships for teens with the food they eat.

Vicki was happy that she could tackle a tough topic with a new friend, Kassandra Baker. Kassandra and Vicki met at a conference a couple of years ago and have been discussing the importance for teens of healthy relationships with food, as well as healthy body image. They were finally able to connect and record this episode.

Kassandra’s Story

Kassandra grew up in a Christian home. In that faith-filled family, she accepted Christ at the age of four while watching a Billy Graham crusade. From the outside looking in, things looked perfect. However, from the inside Kassandra experienced some struggles.

Having a highly sensitive personality can be hard on young people, especially middle schoolers and high schoolers. Kassandra was one of those kids. This sensitivity is a gift but also challenging because she felt emotions and compassion so deeply.

Kassandra, like many young people, was growing up in a culture that modeled for her that she had to look “a certain way” in order to be valuable and to be loved.

She did not necessarily look “that certain way” in her eyes. Thus by the time she was in middle school she began to wrestle with body image. Then she started dieting.

Soon this body image insecurity and dieting routines began to develop into a binge eating disorder. Then by the time Kassandra was in her early twenties, the struggles created a disorder called orthorexia: an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Interestingly, Kassandra’s orthorexia developed out of her trying to eat healthily but then becoming overly attached to the affirmations she was receiving for her “healthy lifestyle”.

As Kassandra started to become aware of the unhealthiness of her trying to be healthy, she gave a name to her struggles to help her label and detach from them: Ed and the Gang.

  • Ed is the eating disorder
  • The Gang is those struggles that prime her to have an eating disorder:
    • Perfectionism
    • People pleasing
    • Legalism
    • Needing to be in control
    • Type A personality

To Kassandra, Ed and the Gang felt like a huge rock on her, pushing her into the ground. It felt overwhelming to her.

As a young teen, Kassandra’s “Gang” led her to a very high performance, especially academically. She strove the be the valedictorian of her school and other high-achieving accomplishments. This was not hard for Kassandra to do…for a while. She could work, work, work. Then she would “hit a wall”. By the time she would get home from school on those “hit a wall” days, she would crash on the couch, watch television and eat.

Unfortunately for her, this was not simply “emotional eating” (which can still be dysfunctional), it was more uncontrollable eating. Binge eating is the kind of food intake that cannot be controlled. It feels like the need to eat is a compulsion.

Next she would feel ashamed and so she would extremely food-restrict (eat very little). This would lead to her body feeling that it was facing famine or starvation because she was not taking in enough calories to survive.

This led to feeling deprived. Next, the deprivation led Kassandra to another binge-eating event.

By the time Kassandra was in college, she was trying to help herself by “clean eating” and lots of exercise.

Kassandra was so obsessed with her healthy eating that she would either not eat at events with her peers, or she would bring her own food. She missed out socially on so much in this rigid lifestyle! Even when she was not eating, she was thinking about food. In reality, she had simply moved to a different kind of eating disorder.

What brought Kassandra to a wake up moment was a traumatic event. In 2014, she experienced a traumatic brain injury and ended up in the hospital in the trauma room. Over night, she could not do all her “healthy behaviors”. In fact, she could not even get up and go to work.

As if that was not enough, Kassandra experienced three more traumatic brain injuries within a two year time period. Unfortunately, this led to chronic pain and vertigo. Thus, she simply could not do all the “behaviors”.

Fortunately, she had already started a Bible study about the underlying wounds that made her more vulnerable to her eating disorders. While Kassandra did not experience any “big T” traumas (things like abuse, natural disasters, family crises), she did experience many “small T” traumas. Like many of us humans, we encounter painful things through our growing years that teach us a fragile self-concept and anxiety. This Bible study helped her work on healing those pains.

BTW- When teens, or adults, are experiencing pain, anxiety, depression or trauma, counseling is so very helpful. Take it from Vicki, who is a counselor and has been through her own counseling. Therapy is a road to health.

In experiencing healing from her childhood pains, Kassandra had more energy to start recovering from her eating disorders.

Then she discovered “intuitive eating“.

Intuitive eating is a self-care framework that integrates instinct, emotion and rational thought. To help her reorganize her relationship with food and become more intuitive with her eating, she worked with a dietician who specialized in helping people learn those skills.

Kassandra describes her life before recover as living in “black and white”. However, with the freedom from the bondage to Ed and the Gang, she feels life is now “in color”.

Intuitive Eating includes ten principles

A diet is an external program. It tells you from the outside how you should eat. On the other hand, intuitive eating helps you understand how your body is specifically created. Then learning how to eat according to what your body needs. These needs can be different at various times. For example, when Kassandra had the traumatic brain injuries, she had different needs for food. In fact, her brain communicated differently with her body due to the injury.

Thus, she had to learn to be aware of her needs for food and care in new ways. It was rewarding to Kassandra to learn to be gracious to herself and her body in every stage of life.

The principles include (from The Original Intuitive Meeting Pros):

  • Reject the diet mentality
  • Honor your hunger
  • Make peace with food
  • Challenge the food police
  • Discover the satisfaction factor
  • Feel your fullness
  • Cope with your emotions with kindness
  • Respect your body
  • Movement- understanding your body
  • Honor your health with gentle nutrition

The basic idea of intuitive eating is to learn:

  • when you are hungry and full
  • what foods you like and do not like
  • to move our bodies to feel good rather than to burn calories

This is different than the current American diet culture, which tells us to look a certain way (thin) and must live your life working on becoming thin. Intuitive eating allows you to be your healthy weight and size (which often is not diet-culture thin). God created everyone’s body to be different and to be beautiful in the way God made them. For Kassandra, her healthy size and lifestyle is not “skinny”…it is allowing herself to be the person (body and soul) that God created her to be.

With this in mind, Kassandra has a heart to minister to church teens and women about healthy relationships with food and with body image. She has found that sometimes our American diet culture has invaded the church, informing women that the only way to be healthy is to be thin. Thus the only way to please God is to be thin. This gives so much shame and guilt.

Food for thought from Kassandra: If God created the elephant and ant, why would He create all women to be a size 0?

It IS important to take care of our bodies, however, you cannot tell if a person is truly healthy by looking at them. That is God’s business.

If God created the elephant and ant, why would He create all women to be a size 0? -Kassandra Baker

For Kassandra today, a healthy relationship with food looks like:

  • Enjoying a cup of ice cream when she wants to
    • Eating only as much of the ice cream as her body wants (stopping when she is satisfied)
  • Knowing that all foods are permissible!
  • Craving a wide range of foods
    • Engaging in the craving as she listens to her body
  • Eating with friends when she is with friends
  • Allowing herself to accept a healthy body image
  • She holds tightly onto the verses I Corinthians 4:3-5, where Paul talks about not accepting others’ judgement of her, but holding fast to God’s gift of a clear conscience and love for herself. God’s love for her never changes, no matter what she looks like
  • The Gospel is a continuous source of freedom for her: Christ’s love and sacrifice for her personally
  • Recovery is a process
    • Kassandra accepts help from helpful people and continues graciously in her growth process

Today Kassandra Baker is now certified as a health, life and mental health coach. If you have questions about helping teens with a healthy relationship with food, visit Kassandra at KassandraBaker.com or info@KassandraBaker.com.

Join Vicki and Kassandra for an encouraging and helpful talk about helping teens find a healthy relationship with food. Here are some other resources:

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Why Study CS Lewis in High School?

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Why Study CS Lewis in High School?

Why Study C.S. Lewis in High School?

Why Study CS Lewis in High School?

This week on HSHSP, Vicki talks about one of her favorite topics: the writings of C.S. Lewis! If you have not ever thought about Lewis for homeschool high schoolers, hang in there. Vicki will explain why studying his works is a good idea.

Here are some reasons why study CS Lewis in high school?:

There are tons of reasons why Why Study CS Lewis in High School. However, we only have time for a few:

It is fun!

Really! Did you read The Chronicles of Narnia to your kids when they were younger? You might have noticed that you were enjoying the stories also. That is because Lewis wrote these stories to be ageless. He said:

A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.

The Narnia books really do not grow old. Teens in high school can revisit The Chronicles at a more adult level. Now, they can enjoy and learn from the symbolism and deeper concepts that Lewis embeds in those stories. Then, they can move onto his deeper fiction works, like The Screwtape Letters and The Space Trilogy.

A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest. -CS Lewis

They can learn to think about theological concepts in a different way

Many of our homeschool high schoolers are used to Bible studies with the family or in their Sunday school classes, youth groups or summer camps. However, they can gain a deeper understanding when they turn the theological perspective on its head.

When they read The Screwtape Letters, that is exactly what Lewis does. This novel are the “letters” of an older demon trying to train his nephew on how to be a successful tormentor of his assigned human. In the book, readers learn a bit about the whiles of the devil and the undefeatableness (is that a word?) of God.

While thinking about theological concepts in a different manner, teens can move on to literature studies in The Space Trilogy. This is a series of books:

  • Out of the Silent Planet
  • Perelandra
  • That Hideous Strength

Each of the books takes a Science Fiction look at theology. No kidding! Lewis authored these books in the early days of Sci-Fi popularity (even before space exploration). With the popularity of this genre in mind, Lewis embeds theological and ethical concepts in some deep and compelling ways. (These books might be a little dense for younger teens, however, every reader is different- so do what is best for your students.)

Teens learn to think wisely and to read deeply

As high schoolers, teens can read The Chronicles of Narnia at a deeper level. Lewis embedded a lot of symbolism in his books. While reading, teens can learn to have fun looking for it. For instance:

  • It is obvious that Aslan is a symbol of Christ.
  • Aslan sacrifices himself for Edmond’s betrayal. This, of course, is a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.
  • Prince Rilian in the cavern is a symbol of Plato’s analogy of the cave. (You really need the study guide if you have not studied Plato’s cave.)

However, there are even more symbols that are not quite as obvious. For instance, Lewis takes symbolic themes and integrates them into his stories. (That is why having a study guide to help walk through this discovery process can help teens get the most out of the stories.)

Side note:

CS Lewis preferred to use the word “symbolism” for his works rather than “allegory”. We are sometimes more familiar with the term “allegory” if we have read the Christian classics like Pilgrim’s Progress or Hinds Feet in High Places. That is because allegories require a sharp one-to-one correlation between the character or event in the story and the theological concepts or event.

Instead, Lewis uses symbolism. With symbolism, there does not need to be as clear a one-to-one correlation. Also, sometimes with symbolism, the author is free to simply drop a symbol into a scene or story and leave it there (like a treat or Easter egg).

Why Study CS Lewis in High School? to learn symbolism

Lewis uses symbolism from:

  • Theological concepts

    • Common concepts like redemption
    • Some concepts from mystical theologians
  • Classic Greek literature

    • Such as centaurs and fauns in the Chronicles
  • Traditional philosophy such as Plato’s:

    • Forms
    • Levels of reality
  • More modern philosophic concepts such as “sehnsucht”

    • This is a deep but joyful longing (such as a Christian’s longing for heaven)
    • Here and there, in Lewis’ novels, you will see that he notes a blue flower in a scene. Anywhere you see a blue flower, you know that a moment of sehnsucht about to happen. That is because blue flowers traditionally in German literature and art are symbolic of longing.
  • Concepts from his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, such as:

    • The numinous: that awesome feeling or lightness and peace when in God’s presence
    • This is symbolically resented in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when Lucy meets Aslan again.

So, how can you get hold of study guides for all these? Well, of course, go to 7SistersHomeschool.com and download these guides. (In these study guides, we gradually coach homeschool high schoolers through the process of understanding symbolism and the deep reading processes that Lewis is aiming for in his writings. Also, the guides include backstory and inferential skills development, vocabulary suggestions and assignments for teens who what to level up to Honors.)

Our 7Sisters Literature Study Guides for the novels of CS Lewis help bring a high schooler step by step through developing the thinking and inferential skills that he sought to develop in these books. Our students have told us over the years that these guides, like 7Sisters other curriculum is “da bomb“!

BTW- For teens who would like to delve more into Lewis, here’s a post that discusses writing projects to go along with the books as well as a post on improving writing by reading the works of CS Lewis by a professor who teaches writing.

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Strength in Adversity for Homeschool Families, Interview with Meredith Curtis

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Strength in Adversity for Homeschool Families, Interview with Meredith Curtis.

Strength in Adversity for Homeschool Families, Interview with Meredith Curtis

Strength in Adversity for Homeschool Families, Interview with Meredith Curtis

Sometimes life is tough and you need a little encouragement. These last couple of years have been tough for everyone. That’s why Vicki was chatting with our friend and colleague at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network, Meredith Curtis. She is also a curriculum writer (her website is PowerlineProd.com)

Meredith is the host of the Finish Well Podcast. And she has finished raising a bunch of homeschool high schoolers well! She is the mother of five children: four daughters and a son.

Vicki and Meredith started homeschooling back in the old days when homeschool moms all seemed to wear denim jumpers and drove huge vans. Both ladies kind of broke the mold because they never got around to doing either. However, both us us loved the time with our kids all the way through high school. For instance, we loved to help them develop their interests, skills, faith and character qualities.

Meredith was busy homeschooling her family from 1991-2016, when she graduated her youngest. She was sad to finish up homeschooling. However, she found a renewed need for her experience in her local homeschool co-ops and helping out her oldest daughter who was married and had young children. Therefore, she became a supporter and mentor to those around her.

Through her experiences homeschooling her own teens, Meredith developed curriculum that filled some holes in the material available to homeschoolers. She continues to share her materials and wisdom on her website and podcast.

Both Vicki and Meredith have noticed that our kids were friends through their teen years and (what a blessing!) have remained friends as adults. We have noticed that they will go to each other for comfort or advice in tough times. They find in each other some strength in times of adversity.

How to find strength in adversity for homeschool families

Speaking of adversity…adversity has always been an irritation to Vicki that it happens. She freely admits that, as a young mom, she hoped that by homeschooling her kids in as safe and nurturing environment, they would be shielded from hardships. She quickly found out that, despite her best efforts, she was not in charge of the universe and that tough times happen to everyone.

So how did we find strength in times of adversity? Let’s give some examples:

Some of the best ways to show how to survive adversity is to share specific stories from life. Vicki and Meredith hope you find some strength and encouragement for your tough times.

Church planting

Meredith and her husband are church planters. When they came to Florida to plant churches there, they experienced many times where the finances were low…of course, because building a tithing congregation takes time! There were many times that they prayed together as a family, “Lord, we don’t know how to pay these bills and care  hospitably for these church members.”

She remembers feeling angry or fearful during some of these prayers. That is real. We can be authentic with God. In the end, she found that each month, something happened to get them through.

Friends for our homeschool high schoolers

Vicki’s homeschool high schoolers were always active in homeschool co-ops, group classes, church youth group, choirs and other extracurriculars. Because they had so many experiences with their peers, they developed friendships. Unfortunately, occasionally those friendships would shift, leaving one or the other of her teens feeling sad and lonely.

Vicki found that when she prayed for God to show them new friends, He always answered. Soon, the teens would find that God was bringing a new friend across their paths.

Educational needs

One of Vicki’s kids had several learning disabilities. She prayed for God’s wisdom in training him to overcome the areas of weakness and also to accentuate his areas of giftedness. Not only that, she prayed that God work in her son’s heart to help him notice these gifts and interests in order to build his confidence. In the end, God worked in his life and is now a successful middle school teacher, where he can use his special creative gifts.

Teenage mood swings

There’s nothing like puberty! Meredith found that her daughters, who had been so chill during their younger days, became quite emotional during their teen years. She worked on her own self-awareness and prayer so that she could:

  • Understand what her daughters were going through
  • Support her during all these changes
  • Let go of the fallacy that since she is homeschooling her kids, she could protect them from the tough parts of growth and life

Strength for handling more painful adversities

Sometimes adversities are much more painful and long-lasting. How do we find strength for these adversities?

Chronic illness and severe disabilities

Vicki shares some of the story of her grandson who was born with severe disabilities. Throughout his mother’s pregnancy and all through his young life, the whole family has been praying for this little guy. The way that God has answered these prayers has been giving:

  • each family member the fortitude to pray for him
  • his parents the fortitude to care for him
  • open door for resources for him

When Vicki tells God how he should be running this problem (which God allows her to do), she is reminded that God handles things His way and His way is best…even when we do not like or understand it. Strength and faith grow as she holds onto this.

Caregiving for elderly parents and grandparents

Meredith shares about the time of adversity when her parents, in their seventies, became very ill while they were caring for her one-hundred year-old grandmother. She was needed for daily help for all of them, so found she would need to juggle taking some of her kids to help with the elders and leave some at home to babysit the youngsters. Then her mother died, leaving her father and grandmother. Meredith was heartbroken.

What Meredith needed in that time was the strength simply to function. She found it in prayer and with lots of support from her church community and her own family. On the other hand, she had to find a way to grieve while still caring for the family so she would pull away to work on projects. But finally she learned to explain what she needed to her kids and the family worked together to find a healthy way to adjust their homeschooling and lifestyle.

God showed Meredith that she does not always need to be strong. She can look for his grace in her weakness and find that he can sustain her well.

Allow yourself to feel your feelings and tell God how you feel.-Meredith Curtis

Suggestion for homeschooling parents going through times of adversity

This is a broken world with many adversities. That’s just reality. However, we can get through these challenging times. Here are some of Meredith’s suggestions:

Allow yourself to feel your feelings

Sadness or disappointment need to be acknowledged. Sometimes we need to tell God exactly how we are feeling. Sometimes we need a good friend to talk to (or even a counselor). Eventually we will find strength to keep going…and even move on.

Remember that no matter what things look like, God loves us

Just because you are going through adversity does not mean that God is loving you less. You can hang onto this fact even when in times of adversity when you do not understand what is going on. If you sometimes cannot do this, do not hesitate to talk to a friend, pastor or counselor.

Sometimes it helps to find a Scripture to pray and meditate on

Pray for a Scripture to help keep in mind. In difficult moments, a well-meditated Scripture can give you strength.

You will get so much unsolicited advice, ignore what is not helpful

Remember: no one is perfect, so if you are hearing guilt-inducing advice, turn it over to God and get it out of your mind. It is not your responsibility to explain to or appease folks who give unasked-for advice.

Remember: God is with us

God is with you. He is with you. God is with you. Hang onto that and look for His purposes and work in your life.

Join Meredith and Vicki for encouragement and comfort in this interview. You can reach Meredith at:

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Strength in Adversity for Homeschool Families, Interview with Meredith Curtis

 

 

 

 

Homeschooling a Strong-Willed Teen

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Homeschooling a Strong-Willed Teen.

Homeschooling a Strong-Willed Teen

Homeschooling a Strong-Willed Teen

We had a request from one of our 7th Sisters to talk about homeschooling high school with strong-willed teens. (BTW- there are six of us 7Sisters, so who is the 7th Sister? YOU are!)

I have to admit that the truth is, if we have more than one kid, we could make a lineup of easy- to hard-to-homeschool teens. If we happen to do that, it is likely that most of us have at least one easier kid and definitely one harder to homeschool. Often that harder to homeschool teen is strong willed.

However, you can be of good cheer! You and your all your teens (even the strong-willed ones) CAN love homeschooling high school- at least most days. Believe me, I’ve been there and done that.

With that in mind, let’s talk about some tips for homeschooling strong willed teens.

There are several mindsets that will benefit us parents of strong-willed teens. Here are a few:

Remember, you and your teens are not enemies (even on bad days)

Pray for God to give you a vision of being a team. To do this, we need an openness to always think of ourselves, even on bad days, as together (not against). This is such a necessary mindset. Keep in mind that God created your strong-willed teen. He has plans for that will. Not only that, but when you have that strong will working WITH you on a project or plan, amazing things can happen!

And those amazing things that happen (not every day but enough days), even strong willed teens come to see themselves as team players. One benefit of this team mindset is that over the years these teens come to see themselves as friendly with their parents.

Of course, this can be a challenge to those of us who were with a highly authoritarian parenting style. If you were raised as “the parent is the authority and the teen must submit”,  AND you want to repeat this with your strong-willed homeschooler, life will have more challenges.

God creates our teens and their personalities

In His infinite wisdom, God gave you the perfect teen with the perfect personality to fit with your personality. NO kidding! God knew it was the very best thing for you to be together through their adolescence.

We can trust God with the process through their homeschooling years. Also, keep in mind that through this process, He is not out to break their wills- or yours. Rather, He is working to mold you both into the image of Christ. Therefore, you both over time grow into the fruit of the Spirit.

For homeschool success with strong-willed teens: Remember you are on the same team!

Now, some practical tips for homeschooling strong willed teens

Okay, so what is the rubber-meets-the-road in tips for homeschooling these teens?

First off, pray

As our Sister Kym always says: Pray first, last and always! The true secret of success is praying for God’s wisdom for raising these particular teens.

Have an easy but helpful resource

We are not affiliates, but there is a wonderful resource for raising these teens: How to Really Love Your Teen by Ross Campbell. This is a book that helps you find a balance of helping these teens get and stay on your team by making them feel loved. While creating this loving atmosphere Campbell also shows useful ways to set rules and boundaries with these teens.

Here are some ideas from Ross Campbell:

  • Eye contact
    • Eyes are the gate to the soul. When you check in with your teens’ eyes periodically, it feels their “love tank” (as Campbell calls their emotional needs).
  • Positive and healthy physical touch
    • All teens (and all humans) need occasional touch, for instance: a pat on the back, a high-five or a quick hug. When you give your teen a quick hug, a high five or a pat on the back, their brains (and yours) release oxytocin, which is a bonding and calming hormone. Not only that, it’s just a nice thing to do.
  • Focused attention
    • Strong-willed teens often will not want to sit down on the couch together for a long chat. It can be hard to find time to be with them in a listening way while they and you are so busy with this phase of life.
    • However, here is something we have found often works: have the teens leave their earbuds at home, then get them in the car for a drive and a walk at a nearby park. You can count this as Phys Ed for the day. At the same time, walks and car drives are often times that teens will talk about something. It does not need to be deep or problem solving, it can be about the level they just beat in their game…whatever. It’s the time together that matters.
  • Unconditional love
    • Teens need to feel loved. This means periodically hear the words, “I love you.” They also need to know that even when they have been a pain in the neck or blown it somehow, they need to know you still love them. (So, de-escalate your own anger before dealing with their irritating behavior.)

Another fabulous resource is Star Finder by Anita Gibson. A homeschool mom herself, Anita shares ways to guide a strong-willed teen so that they discover their strengths and then use their will to make good things happen.

Now, onto tips for educating the strong-willed teen

Here are some practical tips for working with that strong will instead of against it.

Do not hand them a stack of books and syllabi and issue a command: Get this done!

Instead, during the off season, sit together and plan your homeschool for the next year. (In fact, it is good to also work on a together-vision of the high school years.) First do some research ahead of time on planning homeschool high school and gather ideas for resources.

Then get together with your teen. Listen and get their thoughts about high school. Next, if their ideas are totally ridiculous (which they sometimes are), ask questions about their ideas.

Show them some options, for instance:

Keep working to be a team (even if it means lowering your education standards a little bit). When you have a buy-in from your strong-willed teen, they will co-operate better.

Remember, homeschool years are rarely “steady state”. You and your teen discover that what worked in September is totally irritating by January…or maybe it never worked to start with. Model for your homeschooler a growth mindset by working with them to adapt or change how the problem credit is being earned.

Hold onto some basic expectations

As you plan together, let your teen know that there are some requirements you both have to reach. These might include:

  • State graduation requirements
  • Umbrella school or other supervising organization requirements
  • College or vocational school entrance requirements
  • Any personal non-negotiable (although, these may need to be flexible…well, probably will need to be flexible)

Also, make sure you ask them about their expectations for their homeschool high school years. If they don’t have a clue, be sure to add some Career Exploration activities to help them start visualizing the future.

Write all these down. Have a copy for you and for your homeschool high schooler. Remember that Habakkuk 2:2 instructs us to:

Write the vision and make it clear so that those who read it can run with it.

BTW- if you have a creative teen, have them create a vision board based on these expectations and dreams.

These written and/or visual expectations and dreams help homeschool high schoolers stay on their own team.

Teach and plan on time management skills

Also, plan together for the time management and scheduling that you both agree on. This will vary by personality and personal and family needs. A good way to start with this is to do a time audit before doing your planning together. This can help them make realistic adjustments and plans.

Do not nag

Make sure you have regularly scheduled check-ins (on the calendar for you both). This can be daily, weekly or monthly according to the level of responsibility a teen is able to handle.

If you find they are behind, do not nag. Rather, stay on the same page. Talk together about the agreements about the plans you both made for the year and how to recalibrate. Here’s a post you can read together about catching up when you are behind.

Find things to laugh about

Laughter keeps you bonded and is good for body and soul. Anytime you can have laughter it helps education and relationships. If nothing else, watch a funny movie or YouTube together.

Model apologizing

Own your own stuff when you make a mistake. It is good for your soul and theirs.

Also, make sure you model true apologies, such as, “I’m sorry that I lost my temper.” That is a better choice than, “I’m sorry YOU are upset that I lost my temper.” (This, of course, is not actually an apology.)

Remember: there’s no such thing as a perfect teen

Strong willed teens will need more forgiveness and that is okay. God has plans so keep praying and growing together. Strong-willed teens are a lot more work than compliant teens but they are so worth the effort. Hold onto the truth that God has plans for them (and you)!

Join Vicki for a helpful discussion on homeschooling strong-willed teens.

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How to be Ready for College, Interview with Dr. Rachel van der Merwe

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to be Ready for College, Interview with Dr. Rachael van der Merwe.

How to be Ready for College, Interview with Dr. Rachel van der Merwe

How to be Ready for College, Interview with Dr. Rachael van der Merwe

We are so excited this week to be chatting with a homeschool graduate, who is also the daughter of our fellow podcaster and friend, Meryl van der Merwe. (With that in mind, you should check out Homeschooling with Technology– you will be glad you did!)

Dr. Rachael van der Merwe is a professor at a university in the Netherlands, where part of her teaching is helping young college students gain the tools for success. Therefore, between her homeschooling experiences in the United States and her experiences teaching college, we knew this was a perfect topic for her to share with our listeners.

Dr. van der Merwe’s story

Rachael and her family are originally from South Africa. While growing up there, she attended school, which she loved. School in South Africa was old-style British education with uniforms and strong education.

However, when the family moved to Tennessee, she was so far ahead of the school system there, they decided to homeschool. Rachael was nervous about starting to homeschool especially she feared the “socialization” question: Would she be too isolated?

On the other hand, she had not had the best socialization experiences in the local public school. The kids there had treated her poorly with “mean girl” questions like: If you’re from Africa, why are you white? or Do you ride elephants?

So when they joined the local homeschooling community Rachael was thrilled to quickly feel accepted in the “rag-tag” group that included a mix of different kinds of people. She found them welcoming! Also they loved asking questions in their co-op classes and learned in ways that fit well with her styles. That fit Rachael’s curiosity-based learning style and develop her interests and skills.

Dr. van der Merwe is now in her first year as Assistant Professor of Media Studies at a University in the Netherlands. Her job there is sixty percent teaching and forty percent research. Rachael is currently researching on digital media in South Africa and how it relates to national identity. While researching, she is also teaching media-related topics to video games, social media, television, film and journalism.

While she is working with her students, she has found her students needed extra emotional support as they all went through the pandemic. With all the grading, teaching and supportiveness, this is a job requiring long hours! Vicki reminded her of the research that showed that a professor who cares has lasting influence on their students.

With the idea of being supportive in mind, Rachael is excited to share some ideas on ways to be ready for college!

Here are Rachael’s tips for college success.

  • Be ready for college by developing independent-learning skills

    • Rachael found that homeschooling is the perfect place to develop these skills. Her parents worked with her to set up her educational structures but she developed her own independent learning skills and time management.
  • Learn time management is necessary for college success

    • Her mother held structured family learning time and meal times. Rachael was in charge of learning to schedule her study and social time. Therefore, she learned time management skills by hands-on practice.
  • Solid reading skills are necessary in high school and college

    • Do lots of reading of different kinds.
  • Talk to your teachers

    • Ask for help. Ask questions. In the first three weeks of each semester, meet with each professor during office hours. Share your goals for the course, ask a question about the course.

Tips for success in college that teens can develop in high school

Rachael also has some tips we can model for our teens that they can develop in high school:

  • Find community
    • Rachael’s family was active in co-ops and other homeschool communities
  • Manage media usage well
    • Model healthy cell phone usage for the family
  • Develop interests
    • She had lots of time to lean into lots of interests.
  • Nudge the development of new skills
    • Rachael’s mother nudged her to do film projects for National History Day. Through this she discovered her love of film and media.
    • She also, at her mother’s nudging, learned coding (which she now uses in her professional research)
  • Encourage exploration
    • Her mom asked questions and encouraged her to explore.
  • Learn public speaking
    • 4H gave Rachael lots of public speaking opportunities.
  • Participate in some competitions
    • Rachael participated in Science Olympiad and Quiz Bowl.

BTW- Dr. Rachael van der Merwe also teaches at her mother’s online FundaFunda Academy for homeschool high schoolers. There, she teaches visual literacy (analyzing visual components of media and the digital world).

Also for more ideas check out our interview with John Lenshow who shares tips for success in college.

Join Vicki and Rachael for a valuable conversation about how to be ready for college.

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Each Homeschool High Schooler is Unique, Interview with Sue Sobszak

Each Homeschool High Schooler is Unique, Interview with Sue Sobszak.

Each Homeschool High Schooler is Unique, Interview with Sue Sobszak

Each Homeschool High Schooler is Unique, Interview with Sue Sobszak

We love those times we can connect with a good friend on the podcast. This week we were able to catch our old friend, Sue Sobszak, to talk about respecting and working with each teen’s uniquenesses.

We met Sue at our beloved 2:1 Conference (a conference for Christian homeschool bloggers) years ago! Sue was one of those folks that just instantly becomes a friend. She is warm and determined and smiles a lot!

Sue and her husband are retired military. As a military family, they have moved around a lot, of course. Because they were moving around so much, Sue’s mother thought that homeschooling would be a good option for their kids, so she suggested it to her husband. Then he came to Sue and suggested homeschooling! That is how they got started!

Their reasons for starting to homeschool when her oldest was very young because they thought their shy child would do better learning at home. Not only that, but they wanted to educate him in the faith as well as core academics.

Then they had a child every two years for ten years, then a sixth child later. That gave them lots of children to educate! So, Sue and her husband homeschooled her kids on four continents and a number of states. Thus, their kids are well-traveled homeschoolers.

Now, four of her kids have graduated homeschooling high school- and report that they were glad that they had homeschooled.

Sue is a respecter of uniqueness and wants to help each homeschool high schooler develop their interests

She has six very different kids with very different interests. Sue sees these differences as gifts, so she works to help teens discover and develop interests.

While each of her kids are different, Sue started out homeschooling high school with a more traditional approach for her oldest. That is because she was new to homeschooling a teen and also, she liked the Classical approach and wanted to try it with him. However, he did have some unique things on his transcript such as a government camp that he attended over the summer. BTW- he is in the military after finishing college through ROTC . (For information on what military recruiters are looking for, check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode.)

Then when her second son started homeschooling high school, she thought he wanted to go into a wellness field. With that in mind, they were able to get him a job at a wellness center during high school and count it as an internship on the transcript. Afterwards, he gave a presentation to his homeschool co-op about it. Because he had spent time in the field, at the end of the school year, he realized that wellness was not the field for him. (That’s one reason we do internships– to weed out poor-fit jobs.)

That son is a successful entrepreneur after graduating college in two years! He is happy in his field. (BTW- for tips from another homeschool graduate who is now an entrepreneur, check out this interview with our friend, Samantha Shank.)

Her third child had some reading difficulties when she was younger. Therefore, through high school they used a reading app for struggling readers that she was able to use for her books and textbooks. She is NOW an English Literature major in college! That is because she learned that she can read anyway that works for her- and she loves reading and writing in college.

Her fourth child is is college now also. During his homeschool high school years, they were stationed in Germany. While he was there, he developed an interest in film. There Sue found a film camp for teens from all over Europe. That certainly added sparkle to his transcript.

Not only did he do his film camp, Sue was able to arrange an internship with Armed Forces Radio. There, he found a love for communications.

If there is something you would like to do with your kids or for them, ask. There's a possibility that they will say, "yes"!

How does Sue get these internships for her teens? She asks! So, Sue’s advice is:

If there is something you would like to do with your kids or for them, ask. There’s a possibility that they will say, “yes”! And no harm done if they say, “no”!

For instance, Sue wanted to try a flight simulator. So she asked at the local flight training school and they said, “yes”! Therefore, she and her kids got to try one out.

Each homeschool high schooler is unique, so each has had different experiences throughout their educations. For instance, not only have her teens done internships but they have also done programs as they fit her teens’ interests, such as:

Sue’s youngest is unique in that she wants to graduate early. While none of her other teens had wanted to do this, Sue is being flexible with this teen. Right now, they are working on plans to get all her credits in so that she can finish high school at the end of her junior year.

Final thought: Each teen is different. Uniqueness is a gift from God. Therefore you can lean into these gifts and enjoy each homeschool high schooler’s uniqueness.

Now that Sue has fewer high schoolers, she has been investing back into the homeschool community by sharing courses. She is also doing life coaching.

You can find Sue at:

Join Vicki and Sue for a story-filled, encouraging talk about developing teens’ uniquenesses!

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Each Homeschool High Schooler is Unique, Interview with Sue Sobszak

What is Virtual Home Learning? Interview with Melissa Perkins

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: What is Virtual Home Learning? Interview with Melissa Perkins.

What is Virtual Home Learning? Interview with Melissa Perkins

What is Virtual Home Learning? Interview with Melissa Perkins

There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school and so Vicki is excited to talk to a new friend about virtual home learning. Our new friend is Melissa Perkins of Blue Star Virtual Home Learning.

Melissa Perkins is such an interesting person. She is a graduate of Meredith College and a distinguished teaching fellow. Melissa is a world-class educator as well as a former military wife (so has taught all over the world including Central and South America, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia and China). Somewhere along the line, Melissa started bringing her love of teaching online with Blue Star and has grown her organization into a thriving educational resource.

Vicki ran into Melissa in the Facebook world where she enjoys Melissa’s Conscious Educator community.

Melissa started the virtual learning program at the request of her friend who had been homeschooling her son but needed a tutor for her son when she had to go back to work.

Melissa helped him succeed while the family made their lifestyle adjustments. Then her friend’s co-op asked for her teaching support, too. That was three years ago. Since that time, her online home learning platform has gone worldwide. She has virtual offices in Mexico, Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya and is working on opening locations in Great Britain, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Australia.

One of the stand-out principles of the program is the concept of Master Students.

These are young people from toddlers thought adult who work at being their own primary educator. They bring Blue Star in to be their guide. Thus, Blue Star is not a school, per se. Rather, it is an “educational ecosystem” that helps develop the hearts, souls and minds of students and their families.

Blue Star is there to enhance their student’s educations- whether they are homeschoolers, hybrid schoolers (those in a traditional school but taking Blue Star courses to develop student interests and abilities). Melissa wants her students to have educational experiences that are:

  • valid
  • relevant
  • enriching

Melissa’s Blue Star works to support their Master Students’ families as well as the students themselves.

Because Blue Star is not a school, they do not issue credit for courses. Not only that, they make sure their families know that they are not in the education business in order to babysit their students. They want families where the parents are “hands-on involved” in their children’s education.

Melissa calls her staff “educational concierges”.

In other words, they provide some academic administration or “TA-ing”. They help with resources and lesson planning as well as courses. This leaves more time for families to be families and enjoy themselves.

One of the virtual learning distinctives is having an education concierge. This person:

  • Answers questions
  • Walk you and your students through the program
  • Have a weekly meeting with families

Melissa’s story

Her call as a teacher when she was five years old when she began teaching her dolls and stuffed animals. In Melissa’s high school in North Carolina, she was part of a program for future teachers. After that, she became a teaching fellow to have her college education in return for teaching service.

She was inspired by good teachers in her home county of Wake County, North Carolina (the home of great colleges, so there were lots of great teachers available to local schools). Her parents were involved in her educational success.

Once she finished her teacher training, Melissa was excited to begin her teaching career. She was saddened by the archaic resources and systems. Teachers were not included in leadership or planning. She felt sad about the communication between schools and parents- so rather than teachers and parents collaborating, there was an adversarial relationship.

Melissa decided to start innovating to make things better. Her first adventure in innovations was taking a group of high schoolers for study abroad in South Africa. Soon she was teaching in Beijing, as well as leading teacher training there. Through her organization she traveled to numerous regional countries and learned from the many school systems she experienced.

The way Blue Star Virtual Learning works like this:

  • Parents decide to own their kids’ education.
  • They contact Blue Star to develop their four areas:
    • Constellation

      • This is comprehensive learning- an entire educational ecosystem, using diagnostics to help know where to place kids, develop schedules and rhythms. This includes:
        • Master Circles
          • Bonding time once a week with students, virtual teacher and student one-on-one to discuss and explore concepts
        • Master Huddles
          • Bonding with four other students and a Master Guide to dive deep into a subject. These are not credit classes but learning opportunities.
  • Skills Universe

    • This program is for young people in a traditional learning situations (schools) but they want more support when they are not in school. Blue Star provides guides (not tutors) that help delve into issues that cause learning stressors through relationships and “drill down” supports.
  • Twinkling Playhouse

    • This program is learning for toddlers. It essentially gives toddlers an in-home pre-school with puppet shows and other learning adventures. Little ones develop early-learning skills in pre-reading and pre-math.
  • SuperNova

    • These are elective courses for teens such as cooking, sign language and conversational Spanish.
  • PLUS, there are courses for parents!

    • Melissa knows parents want to learn also. Sometimes they want courses simply to develop an interest. Other times, they want to develop a career-related skill. So Blue Star offers virtual learning experiences in:
      • A+
      • MAC IOs
      • Pre Nursing
      • GED support
      • AND much more
    • Adult learners tell Melissa that they enjoy the one-on-one attention of the teaching.

Blue Star Virtual Learning gives families, digital and non-digital learning experiences- with lots of outdoor and hands-on experiences.

Interested in virtual learning?

Talk to Melissa Perkins about Blue Star Virtual Learning at the Conscious Educator Facebook group or Instagram and Clubhouse.

Join Vicki and Melissa about virtual learning.

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PLEASE SUBSCRIBE VIA iPHONE

  1. Tap the purple Podcast icon on your phone
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