Helping Teens Own Their Education, Interview with Meryl van der Merwe

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Helping Teens Own Their Education, Interview with Meryl van der Merwe.

Helping Teens Own Their Education, Interview with Meryl van der Merwe

Helping Teens Own Their Education, Interview with Meryl van der Merwe

Homeschool high schoolers need to develop independent learning skills. As they do this, they start to own their education. That’s why Vicki is excited to talk with our friend, Meryl van der Merwe from the Homeschooling with Technology Podcast. (BTW- If you have not checked out that podcast, you are missing out SO many good resources! Check it out.)

Meryl and her family moved to the United States from South Africa. They started homeschooling because they moved to the US in the middle of the school year. However, the family loved homeschooling so much that three of her four graduated from homeschool high school. (Look for an upcoming interview with her daughter, Rachel, who is a homeschool graduate and is now a college professor.)

Even though Meryl’s own children are all graduated, Meryl stays connected to the homeschool community through the podcast and FundaFunda Academy (online courses and academy for homeschoolers).

One gift Meryl gave her teens was a voice in their education, so when her youngest approached high school age, she asked to go to a traditional school. Meryl allowed her to own her own choice and give it a try!

Which brings us to this episode’s topic: Helping teens own their education

Most homeschool parents want our high schoolers to own their education, to become independent learners and independent adults. With that in mind, let’s check out Meryl’s tips that have worked for her family.

Give teens a voice in their education

As we mentioned, Meryl’s youngest went to a traditional school. That was what she wanted to do. On the other hand, her older three children homeschooled through graduation because they wanted to.

Also, Meryl gave her homeschool high schoolers a voice in the selection of courses and curriculum. Parents need to create the framework based on state graduation requirements and what they are planning on doing after high school.

For some guidance on a high school framework, here are some helpful posts:

As you work with your teens on choices for homeschool high school, help them look at:

  • Interests
    • Electives– they can explore interests and earn elective credits
    • Specific History and Science course topics (for instance, Meryl’s daughter liked art so she earned some Art History credits).
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

To help homeschool high schoolers make curriculum choices, try doing some research. Then present it to your teens

You can ask for input in 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group or Meryl’s Facebook group Homeschooling College-bound Teens.

Collect some curriculum and elective ideas and allow your teens to rank them according to their interest as:

  • Love it
  • Maybe
  • Meh
  • Nope

Meryl has found that her teens like online courses. To make it even better, online courses are available all over the place:

Relationship is key to homeschool success. -Meryl van der Merwe

Remember: Relationship is more important than academics

Try to keep in mind that choice-making is part of relationship building. As teens become part of their educational choice-making process, they gain confidence in themselves and in you. (Not only that, but if they make a choice and later on find they do not like it..it was their choice!)

Teens need to make mistakes, it is part of their growth process. This builds a growth mindset, which helps them own their education.

Help teens learn to own their own schedule

Help them understand their own rhythms and needs while learning to set goals (download this SMART goal freebie). Teach them time management skills. Then let them experience the consequences if they make a mistake.

Of course, keep in mind the framework of the family’s needs (mealtimes, events, etc).

Use as much YES as possible

Whenever possible, give a “yes” to teens. That way, when you must say “no” it will bring less pushback. You will have to step in sometimes with more information. For instance, if a teen wants a light academic schedule but wants to go to a competitive college, have them research admissions requirements and costs for those colleges. That might change their goals.

BTW- For the college search, Meryl’s FundaFunda Academy has a gamified college search summer project each year. It’s open to the public. Check out her Summer Challenge on her Facebook group, Homeschooling College-bound Teens. (7Sisters helps provide material for this each year. It’s fun!)

Help them choose extracurriculars

Teens need a well-rounded lifestyle to be healthy. Also, college-bound teens need extracurriculars on their transcripts. Here are some of Meryl’s for owning their extracurriculars.

Join Vicki and Meryl for inspiration for helping teens own their education.

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A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Courageous Movie

 

From the Kendrick Brothers, creators of the No. 1 box-office movie WAR ROOM and OVERCOMER, comes the remastered re-release of COURAGEOUS Legacy, in theaters September 24. Celebrating 10 years of impact on families and fathers, this updated version of the film includes new scenes and an enhanced look and sound.

Filled with action-packed drama, COURAGEOUS Legacy will once again have viewers laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That’s courageous.

Check out the trailer here!


Ten Tips for Terrific Transcripts

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Ten Terrific Tips for Transcripts.

Ten Tips for a Terrific Transcript

Ten Tips for Terrific Transcripts

Transcripts are vitally important as record of all the work your homeschool high schoolers have done. Who needs need a high school transcript:

  • Homeschool graduates who want to serve in the military (check out this interview with a military recruiter)
  • Non-college-bound homeschool graduates who will be going into the workforce. (Most employers do not ask to see your teens’ transcript, but it does happen occasionally.)
  • College-bound homeschool graduates

    How to Create a High School Transcript. Create meaningful transcripts with this editable PDF transcript, course checklist and detailed guide.

    Click image for full description.

BTW- 7Sisters has a transcript kit that includes an editable template and detailed instructions.

So if your teen needs a transcript, it might as well be the most advantageous transcript you can produce. With that in mind, here are ten tips for a terrific transcript!

Remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. Also, there’s not ONE right way to create a transcript. So, do what is best for you and your teens.

Transcript Tip #1

You need it. You may not be required by homeschool law to produce a transcript, but your teen will likely need it at some point.

In my years as the upperclass advisor for our local umbrella school, I found that transcripts can be important years after graduating from high school.

  • I remember one graduate school insisting that one of our graduates produce her high school transcript, even though she had just graduated with her undergraduate degree from a four-year college.
  • Another young man was required to produce his high school transcript for a new job years after homeschool graduation.

Transcript Tip #2

It should be easy to read. As we have often noted: there is not a standardized format that your homeschoolers’ transcripts need to follow. However, the most useful transcripts are easy to scan quickly to get an idea of who your teens are.

Transcript Tip #3

Start in ninth grade. You will thank me for this tip. Can you imagine getting to senior year and needing to dig through years of portfolios and crates and boxes, trying to piece together a transcript? (We have had to help a few homeschoolers do that. While we made it happen, it’s tough.)

You don’t need that stress. Go ahead. Start in ninth grade!

The cool thing, as you watch that transcript develop year to year, you and your teens will feel SO proud of what they are accomplishing. As the transcript builds each year, teens can really feel proud of their successes.

Start the transcript in the 9th Grade

Transcript Tip #4

Keep the format consistent year to year, especially the order of the courses your teen completes. Take for instance:

  • List English/Language Arts first each year
  • Then list Math next each year
  • After that list Science
  • Then list History

You do not need to follow this format, per se, but do order the courses. That way admissions officer, military recruiter or human resources personnel can quickly scan to make sure your teen accomplished all they needed to in high school.

Also, choose the titles for the courses wisely. Here’s a post to help you choose the names for courses.

Transcript Tip #5

Show the level of rigor your homeschool high schooler worked at for each core course:

  • English/Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Levels can be used for other courses also.

Simply record the level of rigor right next to the course title on the homeschool transcript. For instance:

  • Level 1: Remedial
  • Level 2: Average high school
  • Level 3: College prep
  • Level 4: Advanced
  • Level 5: Honors

Check this post for details on levels on a transcript.

This lets colleges or military recruiters know that your teen can handle rigorous academics.

Transcript Tip #6

Include a legend or key on the transcript. Because there is no standardized format for Levels, you will need to include a key or legend on the transcript to explain how the levels are earned.

Transcript Tip #7

Have a GPA recorded on the homeschool transcript. Decide whether you want that GPA:

  • Weighted or
  • Unweighted

For instance, a weighted GPA might be greater than 4.0 to reward teens for their hard work. On the other hand, when applying to colleges, the GPA tends to undo the weighting so that they can compare student to student.

Transcript Tip #8

Include testing scores. If your teen is taking SAT or ACT, it is good to include those scores on the transcript.

Although teens often are often asked these scores as part of their college applications, it is good to have them on the transcript also. That’s because of the “skimmers”. In other words, having the testing scores on the transcript helps admissions officers skim the transcript and turn up LOTS of good information.

Transcript Tip #9

Include extracurricular activities and competitions on the transcript. This is so beneficial for teens who participate in chosen activities for a couple of years in a row. It makes the transcript look so powerful.

Also, include service hours on the transcript. Volunteering shows strength of character and willingness to be involved in the community. Not only that, but these projects helps them when they build their experiential resume.

It is also good for nostalgia when your teens are grown and on their own. You and they can look back and remember all the cool things they did!

Transcript Tip #10

Make sure you include identifying information for your teen. (This seems so obvious, but hey, we are homeschoolers and our kids don’t have to put their names on papers. In the same way, it is easy for us to forget all the important identifying information on the transcript.)

Include this information at the top of the transcript:

  • Student’s full name
  • Complete address
  • Email address
  • Your homeschool’s name or the word “Homeschool” at the top. (This is optional.)

This distinguishes your teen from other applicants with similar names.

These tips are tips that have worked for us and our advisees. Remember: there’s not ONE right way to build a transcript so do what is best for you and yours.

Want more support?

Check out

And for more homeschool support, check out our sister podcasts right here on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network:

Join Vicki for encouragement and tips for terrific transcripts!

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A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Show Me The Father Movie

The Kendrick Brothers, creators of WAR ROOM and FIREPROOF, have some exciting news to share: they have TWO films coming to theaters this fall—SHOW ME THE FATHER on September 10 and COURAGEOUS Legacy on September 24.

Featuring a variety of amazing, true stories, the Kendrick Brothers’ new feature film SHOW ME THE FATHER takes audiences on an inspiring and emotional cinematic journey. Their first documentary film has something for everyone and invites you to think differently about how you view your earthly father story and also how you personally relate to God.

Check out the trailer here!


 

How to Find Scholarships for Homeschoolers

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Find Scholarships for Homeschoolers.

How to Find Scholarships for Homeschoolers

 

How to Find Scholarships for Homeschoolers

College is SO expensive! Scholarships can really help alleviate the financial burden. We are often asked to share tips for finding college scholarships, so that’s what we will do in this week’s episode!

Let’s start with some good news and bad news about college scholarships

There is good news, so take a breath! On the other hand, there is bad news, also. With that in mind, let’s get the bad news over with.

Here’s the bad news about finding scholarships for homeschoolers:

So many homeschool families feel a “keep up with the Joneses” pressure for their homeschool high schoolers. The pressure tells them that their teens must have a full-ride scholarship to college…or else they have all failed. Homeschool moms need to show their success by their homeschool graduates getting totally free college.

We know there are programs and people who peddle the idea that they can help you find those full-ride scholarships. However, the difficult truth is that VERY FEW teens get full-ride scholarships to college. Very few.

In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics’ recent National Postsecondary Student Aid Study found that in 2015-16 (the most recent study) seventy-two percent of undergraduates received some sort of financial aid. However, only 0.2 percent received $25,000 or more in scholarships.

So if your homeschool high schoolers do not go off to college with a full scholarship, that means they are normal. My advice to you? Get out of the comparison game. You and your family are supposed to be your family…not the Joneses.

Here’s the good news about finding scholarship for homeschoolers:

The good news is that there is scholarship money out there. In fact, that NCES study also found that in the 2015-16 academic year, $61 billion in scholarships were awarded to 1.58 million students. Thus, there was scholarship money available. All told, approximately one in eight college students received an average of $4202 per student.

Every $4202 helps.

With that in mind, may I ask you a favor? Do not miss the joys of homeschooling high school because you are fretting about how on earth your teen can work hard enough and long enough to win a full scholarship to their favorite college.

Make the most of high school and help your teens do their best, but do not miss the fun of these wonderful years.

Neither you nor your teen are a failure if she doesn't get a big scholarship

So let’s look at scholarships and financial help for homeschoolers

There are a number of ways to help reduce your homeschool graduate’s financial stress about college. BTW- Here’s a college-planning timeline to keep you organized.

File the FAFSA

The first thing you need to know, is that many scholarships and most financial aid require you and your teen to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This is a long application that both you and your teen will complete online. It asks for your prior, prior year’s income (two years ago), as well as the same from your homeschool graduate.

The FAFSA helps determine if your teen is eligible for various Federal Aid programs and is the open door to many scholarships. For instance, some of the Federal Financial Aid programs include:

  • Federal Subsidized Loans (must be paid back)
  • Pell Grants (need-based grants, not required to be paid back)
  • Some other grants and opportunities such as SEOG grants
  • Work-study programs

Once the FAFSA is filled out, the government sends your information to the college of your choice. At that college, the financial aid committee hashes out the details of what you will actually receive.

Look at community colleges

Many states have free tuition for the first two years of college, or through receiving the Associates in Arts degree. Each state has different rules for these programs. Check your state department of education’s website to find out.

Tuition discount discounts at local colleges for local residents

Many colleges have tuition discounts for local residents. Check the college website to see if your local college includes one of these programs. Each college is different with its rules for these program (some require a certain GPA, for instance).

Merit-based scholarships

These are scholarships that vary from college to college. With that thought, you and your teen will need to see which merit-based scholarships are available. Which one fits your homeschool high schooler’s accomplishments?

Some merit scholarships include:

  • Academic (for very high GPA, SAT/ACT scores or academic awards)
  • Artistic (be sure to take your portfolio with you for college tours- ask for an appointment with the dean or academic advisors for that major)
  • Athletics (for high-performing athletes). Check with your teen’s coaches and college of interest’s athletic director to find out what they are looking for.

Demographic scholarships

Some scholarships are based on who you are, rather than what you have accomplished. For instance:

  • Children of military veterans
  • Special groups of people, according to the interest of a college

Needs-based scholarships

These scholarships, or tuition discounts, are given to students based on financial need.

One thing to know about these kinds of scholarships is that the amount of the needs-based scholarship is affected by (reduced by) other scholarships that come from other sources. This does not mean that teens should not apply for other scholarships.

Rather, it means that high school seniors should decide where they want to put their time and energy. Perhaps instead of spending hundreds of hours on scholarship searches, they might find a better use of their time and effort.

Other scholarships

Now, down to the actual scholarship hunt. Here are some ideas:

  • For teens who decide to go on a scholarship hunt, one resource to check out is Fastweb.com. It touts itself as “your connection to scholarships, colleges, financial aid and more”.
  • Look for local organizations who are investing in the community through scholarships.
  • Think about your teen’s niche. For instance, if your teens has a skill such as farrier that might earn them a scholarship from the National Farrier’s Convention (I just made that organization up, btw.)
  • If they are involved in a local organization, it might have small scholarships for local teens.
  • Scholarship competitions.
  • Our friend, Meryl, at Homeschooling with Technology podcast has even MORE information on tracking down scholarships.
  • Also, the College Prep Genius podcast has a bunch of little known scholarships.

All of these scholarships work well for homeschool graduates who will not be receiving needs-based financial aid.

Google these organizations and find out if they have scholarships available. If you find that they do, be sure to follow their rules to the letter.

The most important thing to remember is: You do not need to get an ulcer over this. The most important things are to educate your teens, train them for adulthood and help them become good people. God has plans for your teens.

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A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Show Me The Father Movie

The Kendrick Brothers, creators of WAR ROOM and FIREPROOF, have some exciting news to share: they have TWO films coming to theaters this fall—SHOW ME THE FATHER on September 10 and COURAGEOUS Legacy on September 24.

Featuring a variety of amazing, true stories, the Kendrick Brothers’ new feature film SHOW ME THE FATHER takes audiences on an inspiring and emotional cinematic journey. Their first documentary film has something for everyone and invites you to think differently about how you view your earthly father story and also how you personally relate to God.

Check out the trailer here!


 

How to Teach Co-op Classes

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Teach Co-op Classes.

How to Teach Co-op Classes

How to Teach Co-op Classes

Are you teaching your homeschool co-op’s classes for teens, this year? Feel a little intimidated? That’s normal and okay. However, you can have the best years yet with homeschooling your homeschool teen co-op courses!

Remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. In that same way, there’s not one-right way to homeschool co-op!

So, what are the practical tips for handling teaching co-op classes for teens?

We 7Sisters have taught homeschool co-op and group classes for decades (even online homeschool classes). We have found a few tips that make teaching the teens go so much better. These same ideas will help you if your co-op is online this year, too.

Know the subject and topic that you are going to teach

I know that sounds obvious, but just in case you were told to teach “History”, you will need to make sure which history you are going to teach! Will it be American History, World History, a special elective History topic? Or will it be a Social Studies/Social Science topic like Geography, Economics, Civics or Psychology? It is so much easier to plan and prepare when that much is clarified!

Clarify the goals for this course

Make sure you are on the same page with the rest of the co-op on these important goals:

Will the class be:

  • One semester
  • Full year

What are specific goals for the course? For instance:

  • We will have completed a curriculum by the end of the (semester or year)
  • Students will have been introduced to the topic through experiences and discussion over the (semester or year)
  • Other goals or a combination

If you are clear about your goals, others can know up front what to expect (and adjust their expectations- or do something somewhere else).

Discover what curriculum or materials you will use.

One way to explore curriculum and material ideas is to bring the topic up in a Facebook group. Homeschool moms in groups are often thrilled to share about what they have used, along with what they liked and did not like. Some of our favorite Facebook groups are:

Be sure to read the descriptions of materials on the publisher’s website? You can usually contact the publisher at their “contact me” or chatbot with specific questions. Also, don’t forget to look at excerpts on their site as well as look for co-op discounts (like 7SistersHomeschool’s fabulous co-op discounts).

Be certain about the level of instruction you are aiming for

Will you be working with:

  • A group of college-bound teens who like intense academics?
  • College-bound teens who just need to get this course out of the way?
  • Career-bound teens who just need the basics?
  • A mixture of the above that will need a mixture of levels of rigor?

Write a course description

This will be something that parents will want to see. Also, occasionally colleges, college athletics or military recruiters will want to see course descriptions.

Course descriptions include:

  • Title of course
  • Curriculum and methods of instruction (text, real books, inquiry-based activities, projects, field trips or whatever)
  • Topics to be covered (you can use table of contents in textbook)
  • How the course will be graded
  • Amount of credit the teen will be earning
  • Level of rigor at which the course will be taught

Create a syllabus

Email or give your homeschool high schoolers a copy. The syllabus will let your students know what to do each week for class. This helps teens develop independent learning skills. Also, for college-bound teens, learning to use syllabi is perfect college-prep skills!

A good idea to include in your planning and syllabus is to include one or more of the following:

  • Hands-on projects
  • Field trips if possible
  • Tests and/or papers

BTW- at 7Sisters we have a guide for how to create a syllabus along with suggested syllabi for many of our courses.

Field trips are fun for homeschool co-ops

When it is time for co-op to start, at the beginning of each class, include a grabber

Grabbers are a way to get students’ heads in the game for each class- it grabs their attention and gets them focused on the lesson at hand. Some grabbers include:

Encourage discussion times in the class

One way to handle this is to use poker chips.

  • At the beginning of class, give each student three or four poker chips (unless there is an extraordinarily shy teen or one with a disability that makes verbal participation difficult).
  • The students get to hand back a chip for each question they answer or on-topic comment they make.
  • When they are out of chips, they have done their talking for the day. (This slows the over-talkers down and encourages the quieter ones to speak.)

Ask for feedback through the year

Periodically during the year, ask your homeschool high school class:

  • What were your favorite topics so far?
  • What were your favorite projects, field trips or activities?

As far as covering the material in a textbook, there are several ways to handle this in your co-op class

  • Have teens read that day’s lesson ahead of time
  • Read it together in class
  • Read it yourself, week by week, and then teach it. Teens can read it later as homework.

At the end of the year, give each student some personal feedback

Don’t just give them a final grade, but also give each student a positive comment about a strength you saw in them over the year. This can have a big impact in the teen’s life.

Be sure to check out 7SistersHomeschool’s Authoritative Guide to Homeschool Co-ops. That post has SO much free information. While you are at it, check out these Homeschool Highschool Podcast episodes about co-ops:

Hey, also, don’t forget that there are other awesome podcasts here at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network. One of the most helpful is Homeschooling with Technology. You will be amazed at how much rich information and how many resources you will find there. PLUS there are TONS of episodes about Homeschool Co-ops at Homeschool CPA podcast.

Join Vicki for a discussion on teaching homeschool co-op classes for teens.

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If I Could Talk to My Younger Self, Advice from Sabrina Justison

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: If I Could Talk to My Younger Self, Advice from Sabrina Justison.

If I Could Talk to My Younger Self, Advice from Sabrina Justison

If I Could Talk to My Younger Self, Advice from Sabrina Justison

This week, Sabrina is here to give some encouragement and advice. As you know, our 7Sister Sabrina is a fount of wisdom and homeschooling experience. Her youngest has already graduated from his homeschooling phase of life. Sabrina has learned a lot as she homeschooled four kids all the way through high school.

So, ready for some encouragement? First, we appreciate that you are probably in the thick of homeschooling high school. We appreciate you! You’re our 7th Sisters!

Sabrina has always wanted to homeschool her kids, starting in Pre-K. She took things year by year, but each year decided to homeschool another year (her kids agreed with her). One of the things that made homeschooling work for Sabrina and her kids was sharing her adventures with others- like her sister (7Sister Allison), her parents, and the co-op moms who became the rest of the 7Sisters!

Advice to Sabrina’s younger self

  1. Oh my friend, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. You will not find the perfect curriculum, philosophy or system that is going to work all the time for all your kids.
  2. If you try something that is not working for a particular kid, get rid of it and try something else!
  3. College is not for everyone. (Your kid heading to college is not the reward homeschool moms get for doing their job well. College is for some homeschool high schoolers, but not all. So do not get all guilty if your teen is not college bound.) Check out Sabrina and Vicki’s discussion on having “just average” teens.
  4. Don’t be afraid to look back at your high school experiences- the good and bad experiences. However, don’t try to draw exact parallels between your experience and your teens’ homeschooling experience. I mean, the world is SO different (internet, culture, etc etc) for our teens. Homeschooling is different than traditional school, also. It’s okay to have some similarities and lots of differences.
  5. Your kid is not you. Just saying.
  6. Learning to learn is vastly more important than learning the things that other people know. Try to help them find ways to think (critical thinking, philosophy, discussion skills) so they can continue to learn through their entire lives. Concentrate on learning how to ask questions and look for information in good places.
  7. There will be holes in their education. There is NO way to cover everything in the universe that it would be great for them to learn before they graduate. They can keep on learning after they graduate.
  8. Resist the urge to compare you and your homeschooling families to what other homeschooling moms and families appear to be. (Nobody’s lives are Pinterest perfect! Beware of comparing your real life to someone else’s social media pix.)
  9. While you’re at it, check your own social media health.
  10. Value communication over punctuation. At 7SistersHomeschool.com’s estore, you will find lots of study guides by Sabrina (literature, writing, speech, drama). She knows by experience and learning by living: what you are saying is more important than the grammar with which you are says. Grammar is for the second and third drafts (use Grammar Granules and/or Grammarly.com to help). BUT remember, the ideas are the most important, ideas are the heart of our communication.
  11. Be trustworthy and be honest when you fail. Your teens are watching you. If you can give them one thing and one thing only: a character of modeled trustworthiness, honesty and ownership of mistakes.
  12. If your teens disagree with you, that does not automatically mean disrespect. Adolescents are at a developmental phase (see 7Sisters Human Development text) where they start difficult conversations and they question and push to see what is solid in their lives. Watch their tone and attitude for the difference between their painful questions or trying to be disrespectful.
  13. Creativity saves lives. Do not underestimate the power of the Fine Arts and the power of noticing the creativity of God in nature. These are not extras but tools for survival. The ability to create something in the midst of chaos can save lives in a down or chaotic time.
  14. Homeschool high school is not an extension of elementary and middle school. It is different and you will run into things you don’t know how to teach. SO stay in community and switch up teaching different courses with a friend or co-op. Teens are different from their younger siblings, too (you now that), so remember this as you figure out what education should now look like.
  15. Find freedom in this phrase: There are actually worse things that could happen than the particular crisis that you are killing yourself to avoid in your teen. There’s not a formula. There’s no guarantee that your good work will end in the outcome you wish for. God is in charge of the outcomes- keep handing your homeschool and your teens to him. So if you take the energy you are putting into the trying to make your teen avoid the “scary outcome” and pour your energy into your relationship with God and your trust in his care for your teens, you will modeling how to need God for grace, redemption and support.

You can get more advice from all your 7th Sisters in 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group and in this Homeschool Highschool Podcast chat with Sabrina, Vicki and Kym with advice for new homeschool moms.

Join Sabrina for SO much encouragement in this week’s Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode.

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College Success Tips for Homeschool Graduates, Interview with John Lenschow

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: College Success Tips for Homeschool Graduates, Interview with John Lenschow.

College Success Tips for Homeschool Graduates

College Success Tips for Homeschool Graduates

Vicki is joined this week by John … He is a professor at John Brown University. He also teaches youth group in church and leads missions trips. John had a chance to be involved in the homeschooling world through his own college studies. He had a course in his Masters program on Christian education and learned about homeschooling in that light. This got him excited about homeschooling. Then his sister decided to homeschool her two children and he has had a chance to watch homeschooling in action there. So, although John has no children of his own, he loves the homeschool community and educational choice.

When John began to teach at John Brown University, he noticed in the ministry and Bible classes he was teaching that homeschool graduates shined. He was impressed with their ability to be self-starters and have a good attitude. (He has been teaching at John Brown University for fifteen years. BTW- this John Brown is not the famous John Brown of history class. Rather, this John Brown was an evangelist who started a trade school that became a university. They recently celebrated their one hundredth anniversary as a Christian university.)

When his niece and nephew started homeschooling high school, John’s sister asked him to teach his Bible classes to her kids. They were living in different states but he was able to teach them online.

Vertical Academy

John started Vertical Academy out of this project for helping his nephew and niece to shore up their biblical literacy and worldview, based on the courses he teaches at college. (The Vertical Academy offers self-paced digital and live zoom classes on the Old Testament, New Testament, and Foundations of Christian Faith.)

His classes work on teaching teens to see the big picture and historical context on Scripture. Then he helps his students learn skills for application to their lives. Check out Vertical Academy.

With John’s experience as a college professor, he has a heart to see young people succeed in college. You can check out Vertical Academy for these college success tips, too.

Here are the things that John has found are helpful for homeschool graduates who are starting college.

Start your journey to college success by reviewing the skills you are learning in homeschool high school.

Your college-preparation study and life skills (hone these skills in high school so you are ready to use them in college):

At college, think about each class as a series of relationships. Relationships take:

  • Time
  • Effort
  • You get out of them what you put into them

There are four relationships in a college class:

  • Best friend
  • Next best friend
  • Third and Fourth best friends

Your syllabus is your BEST friend in college classes.

Your best friend in the class is your syllabus

Therefore, treat this syllabus as you would your best friend. Spend time with it, read it, follow it

  • Syllabi might follow different formats: hard copy, email, moodle…whatever form it comes, follow it! It will inform you about important things you can use for success:
  • It will tell you which textbooks to get
    • Your syllabus will tell you what to read. Read it.
    • If you read your text before class, you will know some about what you are going to learn, this will help the information stick better.
  • Put due dates for assignments and tests on your calendar at the beginning of the semester. Schedule backwards from there.
  • Understand the policies and procedures of the class.
  • Know how much each assignment is worth.

If you know your best friend well, you won’t irritate your second best friend by asking questions about the class that are on the syllabus!

The second best friend in your college class is your professor

Professors are there to help students- not to punish or keep them from passing! Feel free to communicate with them:

  • Send emails with questions that are succinct, that state your case. Check your email for replies.
  • Visit your professor during office hours. Really. Do this, especially if you have a question.
    • Try not to linger after class to ask; he or she may have another class to rush to.
  • Remember, it is not a bother to your professor for you to visit during office hours. Teachers want you to come by during office hours.
    • It helps to get to know a student and give them a boost in their learning.

The third relationship is class content

Class content covers many things:

  • Books
  • Lectures
  • Videos
  • Discussions
  • Assignments and project
  • Any other content

Take advantage of the time you have. Use it and the class content to your advantage. This will help you treat each content area as an opportunity to learn.

The fourth relationship is your peers

Get to know them! You do not need to make them your best, best friends. However, your peers in class can help you succeed in college.

  • Find a study group (teach each other)
  • Do your best with group projects
  • If you miss a class, a good peer relationship can fill you in and share notes

Bonus tips:

John has some bonus tips for college success.

  • Get to class on time!
    • If you come late to class, it is distracting and says something about how you view the class.
  • Do not leave early.
    • Vicki is always reminding teens not to close their books or computers until the teacher is through teaching! This shows respect.
  • Remember, if you have had a bad relationship with a class in the past, give your college classes a fresh start. You may find you love these new relationships.

Join Vicki and John for a helpful look at college success for homeschool graduates. While you’re at it, check out Vertical Academy.

Also check out these helpful college-readiness episodes:

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How to Teach High School Health Class

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Teach High School Health Class.

How to Teach High School Health Class

How to Teach High School Health Class

I remember when my teens were homeschooling high schoolers had to cover their required Health credits. The textbooks we had to choose from were BORING. My teens complained. I can’t stand trying to teach my kids from a boring textbook, so we mostly made Health happen in our own way- but it was a lot of work for me.

Most homeschool high schoolers will need either half credit or whole credit of Health for their homeschool transcript. SO why not make it a course that really gave them skills for life (and with a text they actually liked)? It took us a while, but we finally put together all the things we had come up with for our teens and field tested it on local teens. That’s how we came up with High School Health for the Whole Person.

Finally a text that is meaningful!

There are a number of homeschool co-ops that are teaching Health to their high schoolers this year. They were asking for suggestions, so we put together this podcast episode.

Tips for Teaching High School Health Class

First, teens often ask what the difference is between Anatomy and Physiology and Health? Anatomy and Physiology concentrates on all the body systems and how they work. Lots of explanation and memorization. This is an important course for teens who are planning on a medical or nursing major in college.

Health, on the other hand, is a more holistic course. Health gives an overview of the physical systems, but not the in-depth treatment of Anatomy and Physiology.

A good Health curriculum covers not only the body, but also the way the brain and emotions work, relationship skills, self-care and spiritual care. It will help teens make healthy choices and ways to stay safe in our current culture.

BTW- One way to help teens to internalize their Health curriculum (and building a healthy lifestyle) is to model healthy lifestyle for your teens. Health credit years are a good time to get the entire family recalibrated to some good self-care!

Start the class with some thought-provoking questions that you can ask yourself and your teens (judgement free):

  • How would God like for me to treat me?
  • What small activities can I incorporate into my life for spiritual development?
  • Are there practical activities can I add to cognitive/mental development?
  • What are some ways I can build some strong emotional health?
  • Can I find some healthy role models outside the family (at church, co-op, etc) and/or in the digital world that help build healthy lifestyle? (Especially if it can be fun ways to get healthy?)

Use a syllabus.

You can download the free syllabus for High School Health for the Whole Person to help your teens organize their study.

Have check-ins and question-and answer-sessions in class (again, judgement free). Ask questions like:

  • How do you feel about junk food?
  • How do they realistically balance fun junk food and healthy food?
  • What does digital health look like for them?
    • If you need help with this, check out LeahNieman.com. (Check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview with Leah about what’s good and bad with tech for teens.)
    • On the other hand, our teens are digital natives and are usually very comfortable in the digital world. Ask how they stop doom scrolling or another and another YouTube video.

Take the class out for a walk in a local state park and/or go for family hikes on the weekend

Go to new places! One cool thing about going to new places is it creates deeper bonding. Don’t forget to log Phys Ed hours it the same time. While you are at it, if you do some nature observation, you can log some Biology lab hours, too!

There are other physical movement Health activities you can do with the class

  • Do some yard work together and log those hours for Phys Ed, too.
  • Do ballroom dance lessons (it is a good life skill for future wedding events).
  • In hot weather do some swimming or tubing.

Other Health class activities you can lead

How do you grade students in Health class?

There’s not one right way. Grade in the best way for your homeschool high schoolers. You can choose:

  • Tests only
  • Include scores for completed homework
  • Add bonus points for class participation
  • You can also add extra credit for completed journal or logged activity hours

BTW- For more life skills that are part of a healthy lifestyle, check out our friends at Life Skills 101 Podcast with our friend, Lisa Nehrig.

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How to Have a Homeschool Mindset…Not a Platypus!

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Have a Homeschool Mindset…Not a Platypus!

How to Have a Homeschool Mindset...Not a Platypus!

How to Have a Homeschool Mindset…Not a Platypus!

What on earth are Vicki and Sabrina talking about?? We just want to have some fun with our friends about having a fun homeschool mindset!

Some of our most bonding moments in our homeschool years have been times of group stress or weirdness. The stress and weirdness of 2020-21 have been a worldwide pandemic. We homeschoolers have had to embrace the weirdness of a pandemic and make the most of our weird worldwide weirdness.

Sabrina has “thesis for life”. It’s written with Sharpie on a sticky note on her computer and is there for times like this. It says:

It’s complicated but that’s okay…so embrace the weirdness and keep trusting Jesus!

There are none of us that live a Pinterest lifestyle! None of us have Pinterest souls. None of us have a Pinterest homeschool. Then when you throw a pandemic on top of this reality, it gets weirder. So how do we embrace the weirdness… in a healthy way?

Sabrina reminds us that embracing implies drawing something close to us. (Not exactly like the virtual hugs we have had to give via Zoom during our get togethers.) For our purposes in this discussion, if we are going to actually embrace something, there actually has to be something there for us to embrace.

When weirdness comes along, whether it is something like a financial disaster or a worldwide pandemic, or a period of depression or anxiety that is affecting you- we don’t really want to embrace that weirdness because, as Sabrina, “It’s bad…it’s icky. I don’t want to embrace it!”

But if you take a look at it with a desire to find something you CAN embrace, you will find something. You will find something because Jesus is in there somewhere. You will find that little piece of Him in that hard time.

Take, for instance, a financial disaster that causes a family to give up their home and move in with family. That is full of awkwardness! You might say, “I don’t want to embrace that!”

But can you look for something TO embrace? Perhaps the letting go of unnecessary stuff? So stuff does not have such control of your energy and time. Then you can embrace contentment and simplicity.

When you find that thing you can embrace, that place where Jesus is working, write it down. (If you have a Sharpie and sticky note like Sabrina, do that…but anything will do.) Keep it before your eyes.

That’s a mindset, not a platitude! (Looking for something to embrace in each situation.)

This is where the entire serious conversation devolves into Sabrina thinking about platypuses every time she hears the word “platitude”! We have such a hard time being serious for very long!

That's a mindset, not a platitude! (Looking for something to embrace in each situation.)

Okay, back to serious…

What we were trying to say is that mindset is not a platitude. It’s a not a mindset that’s in denial or all “Pollyanna”. Rather, it’s a mindset that says, we can look for a good in each situation, that God can teach us, that we can learn in all things wherewith to be content. There is some area where we can grow towards good, and allowing God to show us that area and grow it in us…we are modeling resilience for our kids. This will help them grow up with more bounce-back.

Take for instance the pandemic quarantines. Yes, we were SO isolated. BUT a good that came is that for many of us, the quarantines broke the stranglehold of busyness on our lives. That is a good that we could enjoy contentment with.

So, whatever is coming towards you that is weird, don’t pretend that it’s not weird. Let it hurt. If it hurts, it hurts. Don’t try to pretend that it doesn’t. There’s no room for Pollyanna. Then also, look for the thing that you can embrace. It might be simply that you find you are stronger than you thought or could do harder things than you thought you could. This can be an amazing thing for us to model for our kids.

As Sabrina has said to her kids when they are struggling, “But look at you, you’re doing it! Can you even believe it? You’re doing it. It feels horrible, but OH MY…look in the mirror at this person who is doing this really hard thing!” That’s huge for their formation.

Vicki points out (counselor that she is), that embracing what you can works a different part of your brain than the “oh this is awful” part of the brain. Both parts of the brain are real but the “that’s awful” part of the brain creates stress hormones. The “I’m looking for what I can embrace here” part of the brain is the prefrontal cortex- the smart of the brain where good decisions are made.

Sabrina shares that more and more parents these days have found that their teens live with lots of anxiety. We can help them a bit when we help them grow in resilience as they embrace something good in the weirdness. This resilience skill is for our teens as important a skills as drivers ed! (So Sabrina gives another useful illustration without a single platypus!)

For more on resilience and a growth mindset check out this post and these growth-mindset resources. Also check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode about Psychological First Aid.

(So Sabrina gives another useful illustration without a single platypus!)

Join Sabrina and Vicki for a weird conversation about weirdness and resilience and no platypuses!

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Lessons My Parents Taught Me, Interview with Katie Waalkes

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Lessons My Parents Taught Me, Interview with Katie Waalkes.

Lessons My Parents Taught Me, Interview with Katie Waalkes

Lessons My Parents Taught Me, Interview with Katie Waalkes

Vicki loves to talk to second generation homeschoolers, so she was so excited to connect with Katie Waalkes. Katie, from Life in the Mundane, is a homeschool grad who is now a homeschool mom. She shares with us today what works for homeschooling another generation. (Check out the family video at the bottom of the homepage– homeschool grads telling about their homeschool adventures.)

Katie is the oldest of seven kids. Her dad is a pastor. Her mom started to homeschool the family when Katie was in the fourth grade. That is when her mother realized that there was no way they could afford to send all their kids to the private school Katie was attending. (There’s not ONE right reason to homeschool!) While Katie’s mom may have started out as a “reluctant homeschooler”, they quickly found that it was the perfect education for their kids (and that she loves it).

Katie’s mom just graduated her seventh homeschooler last year!

Katie met and married her husband (who is also a homeschool graduate) thirteen years ago. They have six children of their own, which they chose to homeschool because they wanted to continue this kind of education. Katie’s kids range in age from three years old through twelve.

Katie and her husband loved homeschooling enough that they wanted to continue the tradition. In this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview, Katie shares what she learned from her parents.

Katie realized that the important gifts she received from her parents where not just about specific educational achievements. Instead, it was more of the intangible investments her parents made and modeled.

Lesson One: Love of learning and how to learn

Instead of worrying about “possible gaps in education” and being all stressed about it, Katie’s parents concentrated on learning processes and loving learning.

They modeled love of learning by:

  • Reading her own books
  • Going to the library with the family

They taught love of learning by:

  • Teaching to each kid’s strengths (she became a studier of her kids)
    • For instance, in homeschool high school:
      • Katie was interested in becoming a counselor. So, Katie’s mother went to CCEF (Christian Counseling Educational Foundation) and purchased materials for her to explore. She found online case studies for Katie to read and discuss.
      • Katie’s brother was interested in becoming an architect, so Katie’s mother found an architect at church to interview.

Lesson Two: Find a purpose behind learning

For instance, Katie’s mom showed how math was practical in everyday life as they measured walls for paint and repairs.

Lesson Three: Communicate well and develop conflict resolution skills

In a family with seven children, communication and conflict resolution skills are vital. Katie’s parents made sure that they were not simply “shushing” their kids but rather, they invested in helping their kids develop the skills to say what they needed and wanted and how to listen to others. These life skills have been some of the most important gifts her parents gave her and her siblings.

They asked questions like:

  • In that moment, what were you thinking?
  • How did you respond?
  • Is there another way you could have responded?
  • What were the consequences of your responses?
  • When the kids were younger, she would help the kids find Scripture that addressed their issues. As teens, she had the kids find Scriptures and write about applications to their experiences.

Lesson Four: Communication in school subjects

Katie’s parents put emphasis on communication skills as part of their academics. They placed emphasis on:

  • Writing
  • Logic
  • Critical thinking
  • Public speaking

They knew that ideas and communicating ideas were important.

Lesson Five: Practical communication skills

Katie’s parents had them practice adulting skills while in high school. For instance,

  • They sat with Katie but had her call and schedule her own doctor appointments and call and order pizza on pizza days.
  • Her mother helped them prepare for job interviews by doing mock interviews with her.

Lesson Six: Good theology and how to walk in her faith

Katie’s parents did several things to help them build their own theology.

  • They did family devotions and modeled their own personal devotions. The real modeling was important to Katie. If she had only heard them say ,”devotions are important”.
  • They integrated Bible discussions into daily life and subjects.
  • These things helped them develop a Biblical worldview.

Katie loved her homeschooled upbringing and is loving passing the love of homeschooling onto her kids. Join Vicki and Katie for an inspirational discussion.

Check out Katie’s website and YouTube channel, Life in the Mundane. Also her Facebook page and Instagram page.

For another interview with a homeschool graduate who is now homeschooling her family, check out this interview with Amy Sloan.

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Goals and Grading Writing for Homeschool High School

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Goals and Grading Writing for Homeschool High School.

Goals and Grading Writing for Homeschool High School

Goals and Grading Writing for Homeschool High School

For homeschool high schoolers, one of the most time consuming components of English/Language Arts is the writing. Then one of the most time-consuming components of ELA for homeschooling parents is the grading and goal-setting process. We receive so many questions on goals and grading writing that we decided we should talk about it here on the podcast.

Let’s start with grading. Here is the simple answer for grading writing assignments: Use a rubric!

What’s a rubric?

A rubric is a tool that helps homeschool parents know what value to assign each aspect of their teens’ writing assignments. There are a gazillion ways to create a rubric, based on what is being emphasized in each writing project.

Where do you find rubrics?

You can create you own rubrics or download one off the internet (there are SO many variations on the internet, so you will find something that feels right to you).

For your convenience, we 7Sisters have saved you the time and trouble and included rubrics in our writing curriculum for:

You can even adjust the rubrics to fit your goals for your homeschool high schoolers!

Goals for writing in homeschool high school

Which leads us to the next questions that we receive so often:

  • “I don’t know what the goals should be for my teens’ writing each year. Help?”
  • “I don’t really like writing myself, so how can I set goals for my teens?”
  • “How can I know the priorities for writing?”

Let us help out a bit. Let’s define what the most helpful goals for writing can be. (Remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school, so you adapt our advice to your own family’s needs.)

Goals for writing: What is the heart and soul of writing?

One of the things we have noticed over the years is that sometimes writing curriculum focuses so much on the mechanics of writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation) that there is absolutely nothing left for fun or inspiration.

Teens often need purpose, meaning and inspiration in their writing. Teens often do best when they know the “WHY” of writing. Do you know the why of writing, BTW?

The purpose of writing is communication!

The purpose of writing is communication.

The purpose of writing is communicating so that people understand what teens are feeling, thinking, learning, being inspired by. So they should ask themselves for each assignment, “What am I trying to communicate here?”

  • For instance, in a comparison and contrast essay about something. The purpose is to help the reader understand what you thought about the similarities and differences of whatever is being compared.
  • For a research paper, the purpose is to communicate what your teen has learned about a subject while doing their research on the topic. (As opposed to the idea that a research paper is about a teen’s opinion about what they are learning. The goal of research papers is information presentation, not opinion presentation.)

One of the best gifts we can give our teens is lots of practice organizing and communicating their thoughts. High school writing can help train teens on thinking and sharing those thoughts through life.

If a teen starts a writing project with those goals in mind, and the grader keeps those goals in mind, life will be easier for both! SO, start out each writing project with a discussion with parent and teen on the goals. Make it clear. Go over the rubric together.

BTW- We 7Sisters have graded SO many papers over the many years of teaching our kids and others. It has not been unusual for teens to complain about writing. However, after graduation and teens have entered adulthood, they have often come back to us and said, “thanks for all the writing”!

Also, know that grading and goals will vary for teens who have different abilities

All teens are different. This is good. So grading cannot be one-size-fits-all!

  • Teens who struggle with reading and writing, will need a simpler rubric and adaptations of goals.
    • BTW-if you have a struggling writer, go easy on the red-pen corrections. Instead, work together on several revisions with lots of encouragement.
  • A teen who is headed to college as a humanities major will need lots of writing with higher-level thinking and word usage. Adapt your rubrics to their needs.
  • Teens who are reluctant but able, need to concentrate on fun, short assignments at first, then gradually grow the assignments.
  • Teens who overthink things, need page limits.

So think about what your teens’ abilities, personalities and goals for after graduation are. As the parent, you know your teens and their needs. Adapt goals and grading to fit those needs.

For lots more information on writing requirements and grading for homeschool high schoolers, check out 7Sisters Authoritative Guide post.

Join Sabrina and Vicki for an informative discussion on goals and grading for homeschool high school writing.

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PLEASE SUBSCRIBE VIA iPHONE

  1. Tap the purple Podcast icon on your phone
  2. Tap the search icon on the bottom-right of your screen
  3. In the search bar type: Homeschool Highschool Podcast
  4. Tap the Homeschool Highschool Podcast icon
  5. Tap *Subscribe*
  6. Please tap *Ratings and Review*