How to Handle Headbutting with Homeschool High Schoolers

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Handle Headbutting with Homeschool High Schoolers.
How to Handle Headbutting with Homeschool High Schoolers

How to Handle Headbutting with Homeschool High Schoolers

In this episode, Sabrina, Vicki and Kym are sharing tips for handling conflict with teens so that life is more peaceful and productive. While we know that lots of times homeschooling high school can be relatively chill. However, in case you are asking for a friend: We have a few things we have learned in the trenches about handling headbutting with teens.

Between the three of us, we have homeschool thirteen teens, so we have had some opportunities to deal with disagreements with teens!

If you are experiencing some headbutting with your homeschool high schoolers, here are a few truths. Headbutting is:

NOT a sign of failure as a parent (or your teen)

  • A sign of humanity!
  • Indeed, for teens who are studying Human Development, they understand that adolescence is a time for:
    • Trying on hats (What works for me? What does not work?)
    • Figuring out identity by experimenting with various ideas and behaviors
    • Thus they will butt heads with safe people to figure out safely what is happening
    • Sometimes, if teens are having struggles elsewhere with friends or situations, they will take that stress out on safe parents at home

So remember: My kid trusts in my love enough to grow up here, in all the messiness of growing up!

What are common headbutting situations for homeschool high schoolers that we have heard about or experienced with our teens?

We get to talk to lots of homeschooling parents, either locally or on the 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group. Here are some sources of conflict:

I don’t want to do my math!

Well, many of us moms don’t want to do the math, either!

Vicki eventually handled math by passing the buck: she sent her teens to math class at the local homeschool umbrella school. Also, many moms and teens love online math courses with teachers who actually love math and can inspire them to do math with a better attitude. Two of our good buddies have online academies with cool math teachers:

Why should I do this course?

This one is easier. Explain your common enemy. Tell your teens that it is not your fault they must do this course. It is required by the state for graduation (or for the college they are interested in for entrance). Sometimes having a common irritation draws homeschooling parent and teen together.

How involved should Mom be in the academics?

Sometimes teens want to own everything about their education. Other teens want regular engagement. Sometimes what they want is not what they need. For instance, some teens want to do everything on their own, but then get bogged down.

You can handle this by finding common goals with honest, regular checkins.

Introvert/extrovert schedules

Kym is a Myers-Briggs personality test expert and understands her extroversion. However, sometimes she had to work hard to understand the needs of her introvert teens. Not only that, she had to work hard to balance her introvert teens’ needs with the needs of her extrovert teens. It took her teens speaking up and her listening well, to find a balance for the family- and allowing different teens to have different levels of activity.

How rigorous should our academics be?

Sometimes homeschool high schoolers need a more “average-level” course to give them a better-fit education. This can stress a mom out who feels the pressure of comparing herself to her co-op mom-friend who has a high-achieving teen.

On the other hand, if a teen is capable of doing more than they want to achieve. It is good to talk and listen- then let go if a teen cannot muster up the buy-in. They can grow into their abilities later (when it becomes their idea).

Sabrina talked about one of her teens who did not need honors-level academics because his goals did not require that. However, he wanted to level up to Honors British Literature because he was interested in it. Talking and listening helped and he leveled up.

THE KEY to handling headbutting homeschool high schoolers

  • Get together over food
  • Listen to what your teen has to say
  • Practice active listening (“What I hear you saying is…”)
  • Ask questions kindly
  • Remember: often their reluctance is rooted in adolescent-related low self-esteem
    • Work sharing their strengths when you notice them
    • Build a growth mindset
    • Get them involved in places where there are positive friends and adults who will speak truths to them about them
  • Be patient
    • Model the fruit of the Spirit
    • Remember that nagging does not win
  • Keep connected to homeschool moms who can encourage you!
  • Pray

You can homeschool high school without much headbutting. However, be nice to yourself- there will be some. Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for help and encouragement.

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How to Get Teens Interested in Career Exploration

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Get Teens Interested in Career Exploration

How to Get Teens Interested in Career Exploration

How to Get Teens Interested in Career Exploration

Teens have a lot of pressure on them:

  • Building a strong transcript for college, military and/or career
  • Developing strong adulting skills to help them live life successfully
  • Experiencing the things teens need as part of adolescent development:
    • Friendships
    • Field trips
    • Service
    • Community
    • Fun

However, it would be a shame for them to graduate from their wonderful homeschool high school and not have a clue about what careers or plans they need to have for the future. It is challenging how to figure out ways to help them prepare for a career.

So, let’s talk about how to get teens interested in Career Exploration!

Vicki always tells teens that it is not likely that they will know their entire future when they graduate high school. However, they will feel better if they have a clue about what comes next career-wise. After all, it is easier to turn a moving vehicle than a parked one. And it is easier to pivot career-orientation when they are working towards SOMETHING than it is to churn up some momentum if they are simply stuck.

On the other hand, we do not want to put too much pressure or too many guilt trips on them. It is a balance for us homeschooling parents!

Here are some tips to spark interest in Career Exploration

There’s not ONE right way to get teens oriented towards a career mindset. However, here are some ways to create a fertile environment for growth in that direction.

Build some extra enrichment into homeschooling high school

We know this can be a challenge for families with multiple kids and/or working parents. However, when you frame enrichment as experiences that help build lifelong bonds and healthy mindsets, it is easier to view the short-term busyness as long-term investment.

Enrichment that actually helps build a career-exploration orientation include:

Field trips for the family (co-op field trips count, too)

Plan for field trips to:

  • Favorite family locations
  • Brand-new places or events
  • Places or events that co-ordinate with History, Literature or Science class

The point of field trips is not to define a career at the moment. Rather, it is to get the creative and future-oriented parts of the brain activated. When we have too much routine, routine, routine, those parts of the brain do not work well. When that part of the brain does not work well, it is hard to imagine a future career and healthy lifestyle.

Not only that, but you can log all those hours for credit on the transcript. (Here is a post about logging hours for credit.)

Tips to remember about field trips:

  • Freebie events count!
  • It does not have to be interesting to be useful
    • (a rotten field trip gives teens something to talk about AND knocks that off the potential career list- both are valuable)

Watch movies about interesting people

Watching stories about people in different careers helps exercise the creative and future-oriented parts of the brain. This helps teens imagine and think about their own futures, even when they have no wish or talent to go into the career that is shown on the movie. This kind of enrichment is not only interesting but can be inspiring, also.

A few movies about people with various careers:

Not only that, but you can log all those hours for credit on the transcript. (Here is another post about logging Career Exploration hours for credit.)

Do volunteer work in various areas

Explore various one-off and long-period volunteer and service opportunities. Think about:

  • Joining the church worship teen
  • Helping with sound system or nursery at church
  • Give time at the local food bank or church food pantry
  • Visit folks at the local nursing home
  • Volunteer at a local ministry or non-profit
  • Join a local park clean-up day
  • Rake leaves or weed for the elderly folks nearby
  • Do repair work or babysit for single moms
  • Raising service dogs
  • More ideas in this interview about volunteer opportunities with Ticia Messing

Volunteering also helps exercise the creative and future-oriented parts of the brain! Not only that, but you can log all those service hours on the transcript. (Here is a post explaining how to record service on the transcript.)

When possible, arrange for teens to have a chat with various folks about different jobs

You can make this a formal part of Career Exploration credit on the transcript. (Remember to log the time.)

Give teens job descriptions for the various jobs you have had or had

At family gatherings, ask grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for job descriptions (along with what they like and do not like about their jobs)

If there are friends or folks at church who are willing, ask for a fifteen-minute interview where they share their job descriptions (along with what they like and do not like about their jobs)

Be sure to have your teen write a thank you note and maybe take some cookies as a thank you!

Again, these are not locking teens into a career but giving them career experiences. These will help give teens a realistic look at the job-lifestyle.

Take a Career Exploration course

There are lots of them around. Of course, we are partial to 7Sisters Career Exploration Bundle where teens learn about the importance of their:

  • Life experiences
  • Role models
  • Gifts/talents
  • Values
  • Interests
  • Resources

Once teens get started on Career Exploration as a course, they often begin to get bought into getting interested and involved.

Find an apprenticeship

Apprenticeships look powerful on the transcript and give teens a solid look at a career interest. Some apprenticeships our teens have done:

Apprenticeships often eliminate job interests (which is a good idea) OR open doors for networking and building the next career experience.

Usually parents need to make apprenticeships happen: networking and arranging. This is because teens do not at first have the experience or interests on creating first job experiences. However, they often start taking on the next steps once they get started.

Take a course that counts as Career Exploration

For instance, if your homeschool high schooler is interested in Psychology, a Psych course counts as Career Exploration! Here’s a list of courses that count as Career Exploration.

Get more ideas is our 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group!

You can do this! Join Vicki for a discussion on how to get teens interested in Career Exploration.

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Homeschooling High School during Summer, Interview with Anita Gibson

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Homeschooling High School during Summer, Interview with Anita Gibson.

Homeschooling High School during Summer, Interview with Anita Gibson

Homeschooling High School during Summer, Interview with Anita Gibson

All of life is education- even during the summer. However, that does not mean we have to pressure ourselves to overdo it finding ways to love EVERYTHING! Anyway, to talk about the “don’t waste your summer” dilemma, we asked our good friend, Anita Gibson, to share some wisdom.

Many of our listeners know Anita- she’s a regular guest! We love her warmth and rich experience. As you know, Anita Gibson is the author of one of our favorite books: StarFinder (about helping identify your child’s strengths). She is also an advisor for Homeschool Legal Defense and the founder of National Homeschool Advocacy (a group that brings wide-ranging resources under one roof).

Here are some tips from Anita on homeschooling high school during summer:

Tip #1: There should be times where we get to a period and stop

Sometimes we homeschool moms feel like we need to use the entire summer to catch up on “book academics” that we did not get to cover (or did not finish) during the school year. That is okay but there are times when you need to take a full break with NO educational pressure. Let everyone’s body and souls rest a bit.

Tip #2: Summer is a good time to get out of the box

Take time to have some fun that is just fun! (Remember in the Old Testament, there were times of feast and fun. We humans need that. Not only that, even God rested on the seventh day of creation.)

Rest is productive. Teens with rested brains will work better in the fall.  So, help them know the joy of quiet time. Summer is great for oases and places of rest. There is growth going on during rest.

Tip #3: Remember everything is not dependent on you

Give yourself a while to not think about curriculum, grades or plans. Give yourself a break for recuperation. You will have more umph in the fall semester if you had some no-homeschool time during the summer.

Tip #4: Allow teens to get bored

Try some time during the week to experiment with a few hours of no-screen time! Whether they believe it or not, it will be good for them to experience boredom. Being bored helps them develop their own initiative to find interesting things.

Tip #5: Still, there are things you can log as education for homeschooling high school during the summer

  • Trips to the library
    • Count the books for their book list
  • Family read alouds
    • Teens never outgrow this
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Observing nature
  • Crafting
  • Creating a progressive story
    • Anita’s husband did this with their kids each evening.

Tip #6: However, remember to do this low key. Low key. Low key.

Teens learn so much in these low key ways. There are no tests or papers however, there was the joy of exploring and learning things our teens are interested in. That kind of learning stays with them.

Tip #7: Remember to model a life of learning

Allow yourself to be interested in reading, hiking, observing, crafting. Your interest and engagement models for your teens in ways that are so powerful that some of it will stick. Besides, YOU need some time to explore new things or engage in thing you love.

Tip #8: Help teens notice their passions as they engage the summertime adventures

Occasionally during the summer, have a chat with your teens. Ask them:

  • What has been interesting for them?
  • Are there other things they would like to explore?
  • What it feels like to make boredom work for them?

Log hours, but prioritize enjoyment!

Tip #9: On trips or vacations, gently find some educational angles

If you do not call it “educational hours” but simply having adventures doing new things, you can log some homeschooling high school during the summer without your teens really knowing it! 🙂

For instance, Anita and her family love beach vacations. They would make sure that they did some museum trips while at the shore. Not only that, but they even would spend an hour here and there at the local library simply reading and relaxing in the quiet. All of this learning was fun!

Also, her family (at her grown kids’ requests) have continued their annual trips to stay on a Mennonite farm in Lancaster. (SOOO many cultural and historical hours logged while experiencing family time together.)

Check out this post on how to log credit hours over them summer.

Tip #10: Remember that your homeschool high schoolers are unique

Every child, no matter what age is your homeschoolers are, it is okay for them to learn at their own pace. Therefore, we homeschool moms can be careful not to compare your teens to someone else’s homeschool high schoolers.

If you need some support for finding ways to catch the gaps and build educational programs for your teens, contact Anita through:

SO, if your teens are behind in their academics at the end of the school year, perhaps they need to spend a little of the summer catching up. However, make sure there is time for rest and fun. Also, give yourself permission to log hours on summertime natural learning. Then, Homeschool Mom, give YOURSELF a break.

Join Vicki and Anita for ideas and encouragement for homeschooling high school during summer. Also, you will be encouraged by our other conversations with Anita:

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Special Replay: Homeschooler, What About Socialization? How to Answer!

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast a Special Replay: Homeschooler, What About Socialization? How to Answer!

Homeschooler, What About Socialization? How to Answer!

Homeschooler, What About Socialization? How to Answer!

Do you ever get tired of the question about socialization? Homeschool high schoolers and their parents hear it all the time!

“Homeschooler, what about socialization?” is THE most often-asked annoying question that we homeschooling parents get. However, you do not worry about it, though. We have got some great information to equip you to help your teens to handle it graciously.

So, let’s teach teens how to answer this annoying question!

First off, people do not even know what socialization means. Therefore, you should start off clarifying the definition!

Definition of socialization: Passing on the norms, customs, ideologies and skills from one generation to the next.

Then, remind them to answer the question with this question:

Isn’t homeschooling the BEST way to accomplish socialization??

However, when your homeschool high schoolers encounter someone who asks the annoying question: “Homeschooler: What About Socialization?”

  • Ask them put themselves in the questioner’s shoes.
  • Then think about what they are worried about.
  • After that, answer

Definition of socialization: Passing on the norms, customs, ideologies and skills from one generation to the next.

Here are a few common worries, along with good answers

Often, your teens will find that their “What about socialization?” question is really about something else. With that in mind, here are some things they actually might be worried about:

People are often worried our teens will not learn how to interact with peers

Therefore, help your teens answer back:

  • You only learn how to communicate with peers from other peers?
  • Our teens are not isolated. Homeschool parents very intentionally exposing their kids to different social situations such as:
    • church
    • sports
    • homeschool groups
    • service
    • drama productions
    • community classes
    • dual enrollment classes
    • Civil Air Patrol
    • dance programs
  • Our teens are usually well trained in:
  • manners
  • communication and
  • social intelligence

We make these part of our life skills curriculum (in other words, we practice socialization in real life).

People are often worried our kids will not learn how to communicate with anyone who is not an adult

Therefore, ask them back, do kids learn to communicate with all kinds of people in:

  • Age segregated classrooms
  • Classrooms who aren’t allow to experience discipline, thus are often chaotic

Rather, they learn the skills best in a loving, supportive, age-integrated atmosphere where communication skills and politeness are modeled and practiced.

People are often worried our kids will not learn to have self-esteem because they are not around peers in a classroom

The truth is, homeschoolers score better on tests of socialization and self-esteem. (Check out Vicki’s graduate research publish in National Home Education Research Institute.)

Remember: There’s not ONE right way to socialize our kids. You handle socializing your family in the way that meets YOUR family’s goals.

Sometimes, though rarely, someone worries that homeschooling is actually a dangerous setting for children and teens.

This, we know, is ridiculous! However, several years ago, a Harvard professor wrote an article with unfounded concerns of the safety of homeschooling. For an intelligent answer to her article, check out 7Sisters Response to Harvard Magazine’s Risks of Homeschooling.

However, we should be sure to cover a few socialization tasks with our teens, so they are well prepared for life

This is because there are certain settings our teens are going to encounter without us as they grow through adolescence that they will need specific, intentional training! Therefore, these are some good socialization tips for your teens.

Teach your teens:

  • Not to ask questions to people who are not interested or qualified, teach them to ask who to ask.
    • Just think visiting your local Motor Vehicle Administration building.
  • To handle crowds going through college tours and the mall at Christmas,
    • As in: teach them to line up or walk on the “driving lane” as they navigate mall foot traffic
  • How to follow directions.
  • Tips to help form a circle.
    • This is  a tough one for homeschoolers, sometimes!
  • How to take one paper and pass the rest.
    • Really, if they are not in a co-op or group classes, you can practice this important skill with them at home!
  • To laugh at themselves (not take themselves too seriously).
  • VERY important: how to be gracious to people who have other ideologies.
  • To be curious and how to ask questions about all kinds of things.
  • Teach them the 10 basic social skills.
  • Teach them to model the walk of grace (and model it ourselves).
  • For more ideas on socialization, check out our interview with Dr. Rachel van der Merve on how to be ready for college.

What about socialization? Here’s a simple answer to that annoying question:

“Homeschoolers are socialized and successful, now tell me all about your kids.”

For more ideas for homeschooling and socialization, check out this episode of Finish Well podcast.

Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for an intelligent and FUN discussion on the answers to the annoying question: What about socialization?

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Homeschooler, What About Socialization?

Special Replay: Conversational Homeschooling

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast is a Special Replay: Conversational Homeschooling.

Conversational Homeschooling

Conversational Homeschooling

We all know that there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school! With that in mind, we would like to share a valuable tool for homeschooling success. Sabrina is here today to share ideas about conversational homeschooling. While Sabrina made up the phrase, it fits Sabrina’s style of homeschooling her high schoolers. You will be SO encouraged by Sabrina’s ideas for teaching teens.

What is conversational homeschooling?

Real learning for teens often occurs during conversations. Have you ever noticed that? Moments of true insight will occur during a formal or even, informal chat with your homeschool high schoolers. (Actually, the same thing is true for adults, we bet you have noticed.)

This episode is aimed at:

  • New homeschool high school moms
  • Current homeschool high school moms
  • All homeschool moms, actually

During homeschool high school, moms often become less a teacher and more a resource manager as our teens gain independent learning skills:

These are all important and vital for learning but we sometimes loose some of the fun of homeschooling. However, we can remember that really cool learning happens in discussions.

You may have noticed this yourself. Think about when you have been learning a new hobby or skill; or studying a new topic in Bible study. You will probably have studied and practiced and feel pretty good about what you are learning. However, if you have coffee with a friend and tell her about what you are doing, it will truly cement the information.

Think: Data in, learning starts—learning happens when the data (words) come out!

As teens articulate what they are learning, it becomes much more "theirs"!

Where can I use conversational homeschooling?

There are many situations where conversational homeschooling will increase your teens’ educational success.

Organizing Research Paper Material

The idea of conversational homeschooling is useful for helping teens with their first research papers. Many teens feel overwhelmed by the process. They need help organizing their data and capturing it in a proper research-paper format. Study guides can really help ease them through the process but discussions with mom can be invaluable in helping teens organize their thoughts about what they are learning.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Over the years as many of us 7Sisters have taught research writing in homeschool co-ops and group classes, we have noticed the challenge teens have in organizing their thoughts. Teens who cannot organize their data and thoughts sometimes fall into the problem of plagiarism. They cannot figure out what to say and where and sometimes end up cutting and pasting from a useful website. (Here are some tips to help teens avoid plagiarism.)

Moms can help with this! They can hold check-ins with their teens and allow then to talk about the things they are learning and then talk through outlining their papers. If carried on in a friendly, chatty manner, teens can come away feeling confident in what they have learned and more organized for their writing.

Writing Transition Sentences and Editing Papers

Transitional sentences are needed for MLA research papers and editing skills are needed for all research papers. Help your homeschool high schoolers by holding a conversation about transition sentences and editing. Give them some good examples and

  • Ask, “What makes this a good transition sentence?”
  • Then have them figure it out themselves and tell you what they think.
  • Did you check your paper using your rubric?

Learning about Literature

Another place conversational homeschooling can be useful is in Literature. Try having a conversation with your teen about the characters or themes in the books they are reading. One easy way to facilitate this is to look through their Literature Study Guides and find some inferential questions (questions that do not have a single “right” answer, but instead, ask the student to think things through, perspective take and infer meaning from information given).

Have a discussion together about those inferential questions. This helps teens to truly grow in their critical thinking skills!

Conversational homeschooling for Science or History

  • Ask you teen to explain something that has captured their interest about what they are learning?
  • Or: ask them what was confusing?
  • Ask them what made them want to explore more about the topic?

When is it a good time to practice conversational homeschooling

  • The dinner table, if everyone is sitting around the table together. (Sometimes not so easy for busy teens.)
  • Car rides. It is totally amazing how much teens will chat in the car (if you tell them, no earbuds for this trip). Have some questions in your mind to ask your teens about their various courses.
  • One on one time, anytime.

Be sure to avoid slipping into correcting and criticizing if you see faulty thinking. Instead ask questions such as:

  • Hmmm. Tell me more about that.
  • Interesting thought. What brought you to that conclusion?

Good questions for conversational homeschooling:

  • What is your favorite thing you worked on this week?
  • Or: What surprised or interested you about this?

As teens articulate what they are learning, it becomes much more “theirs”!

Remember: You will never say to yourself: Boy, I am really upset I wasted that fifteen minutes in the car talking with my teen about their research paper.

Also remember: there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school! Find your own favorite ways to homeschool high school.

Join Sabrina for an inspirational chat about conversational homeschooling!

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Conversational Homeschooling

Parenting and Adult Kids, Interview with Stacey Lane Clendaniel

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Parenting and Adult Kids, Interview with Stacey Lane Clendaniel.

Parenting and Adult Kids, Interview with Stacey Lane Clendaniel

Parenting and Adult Kids, Interview with Stacey Lane Clendaniel

We are joined on this episode by our beloved Stacey Lane Clendaniel. If you are part of our 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group or follow us on Instagram or Pinterest, you know Stacey. She is the friendly person behind the friendly posts and conversations!

Almost all of Stacey’s kids are adults now. (Her kid number four graduates from high school this year.) Therefore, she is having lots of hands-on experience learning to be the parent of adult kids. After all, they are graduated and grown, so how to you healthily handle the relationship now?

Stacey and her husband have seven children between them, ages three through thirty. Most of those are adults now. She homeschooled her biological kids through graduation. (Except her son who is graduating from military school this year. He had asked during high school to try out a military prep school, so Stacey went along with it.)

Also, Vicki’s five kids all graduated from homeschooling high school. Not only that, they are all old enough to be college graduates and totally out on their own.

We have had questions about what it is like when the kids are graduated and grown. With that in mind, Vicki and Stacey decided to share what they have learned about being a parent with adult kids.

Of course, we always say there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. Not only that, but there’s not ONE kind of adult kid and not ONE kind of parent of adult kids. However, here are some things we have learned so far.

The operative word for parenting and adult kids is: CHANGE

One of the hard changes is letting go of the role of “I’m the mom who rescues and protects”. Instead, when our kids are adults, we have to let these grown ups be grown ups! They need to make their own mistakes and ask their own questions.

Not only that, but we need to let our adult kids handle their own problems without barging in. Stacey gives an example of her son calling her with the report that he has flat tire. Stacey’s first impulse was to dash to where he is and help. However, her husband reminded her that if he is in a safe location he can handle it. He knows how to change a tire. Therefore, he reviewed the process over the phone with her son and her son did fine.

Talk about what you both need as your relationship matures

It is a good idea to talk with your adult kid about what you both want the relationship to look like at this point in life. Stacey gives the example of her oldest going off to college. She was happy that he felt good about being on his own. However, she did miss him and asked if they could schedule a fifteen minute phone call once a week. This gave her a chance to get updates and him a chance to discuss anything that was on his mind.

Also, discussions can keep expectations clear when they are home again. For instance, our kids in college are often home for the summer or for a while after they graduate. It is a good idea to clarify what you need for them and what they also need while they are home.

As her kids have become adults, Stacey has worked on not being a “heavy equipment mom” who is rushing in to fix things OR giving unasked-for advice. She has become more the listening kind of mom. Stacey has learned that: “I’m not their Holy Spirit.”

On the other hand, she has found she needs more mom-support from her peers. That way she can know that she is not the only mom learning how to be the parent of adult kids.

Stacey also has learned not to be a “Control-zilla”!

Don't be a control-zilla!

Work on ways to connect during this new phase of life

This phase of our adult kids’ lives requires new ways to connect. Find out what THEY like to talk about and are interested in. Ask them about those things.

Also, find tangible activities you can do together and enjoy as adults, such as cooking for special meals. Stacey has found: If you feed them, they will come. She cooks every Friday night and several of her adult kids will drop by!

Another idea is: Have a family text thread for fun conversations and gif-sharing.

Remember: We cannot guarantee the outcomes

As homeschool moms, many of us have hoped that the wonderful atmosphere of homeschooling could help our kids have perfect lives as they grow up. However, in truth, we do not control the outcomes.

We have to let go and let God. We will always pray, but we must allow God to handle the outcomes.

That often means that we must let go of our “rules for the universe”. (Vicki says we all have our rules for the universe whether we are conscious of that or not. For instance, Vicki says her rule for the universe is: Everyone she cares about should be okay, all the time. Of course, she is not God, so she cannot run the universe, so must let God handle all those things.)

Join Vicki and Stacey for a conversation full of authenticity about parenting and adult kids.

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Handling Screen Time for Teens, Interview with Dr Melanie Wilson

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Handling Screen Time for Teens, Interview with Dr Melanie Wilson.

Teens and Screen Time, Interview with Dr Melanie Wilson

Handling Screen Time for Teens, Interview with Dr Melanie Wilson

We are back with our dear friend and podcasting colleague, Melanie Wilson of Homeschool Sanity podcast. Melanie is a voice of wisdom and encouragement for the homeschool community for many years.

Melanie is a PhD psychologist who has homeschooled her six kids for over twenty years. Four of them have graduated from homeschool high school and gone on to college. Two are still homeschooling their high school years.

Along the way, Melanie became an expert at organizing (check out her interview with HSHSP about getting organized). She shares her organizational skills and tools with her Organized Homeschool Life Planner,Year of Living Productively, online classes for moms and podcast episodes. She often leads an organizational challenge on her podcast.

To top it all off, Melanie has designed an absolutely delightful grammar curriculum (can you imagine using the word “delightful” about grammar?). Her Grammar Galaxy curriculum teaches grammar skills for elementary and middle schoolers in narrative adventure format!

Today, Melanie is sharing with us about screen time for teens

Besides having teens of her own, Melanie has found that moms have been asking her how to handle screen time for their teens. Therefore, she has been working on getting some thoughts together as helpful guidelines for moms.

When Melanie was a young mom, she (like Vicki and many of us) was determined to protect her kids from every negative influence in the whole world. That way their lives would be safe and anxiety free. (Melanie and Vicki had some hearty laughs over those memories.)

In the early days of parenting, she did not allow her kids to have screen time. However, she and her husband caved to the pressure to allow their children to play video games. She found that there were positives and stressors about this first venture into screens.

Melanie noticed that technology is always changing and thus, there were always new things for her kids to want or need. She was constantly needing to weigh the costs and benefits of various screen times for her kids.

Here are some things about handling screen time that Melanie has learned:

When you have six teens, you have lots of opportunities to find out what works!

Enforcing a lot of rules about technology is energy draining.

Melanie has always said, “Relationship before rules.” Thus, too many rules can interfere with good relationships.

Try not to work harder than your teens to manage their time.

In other words, teach teens good time management skills. This does not mean we are totally hands off when monitoring time and screens. However, a teen who has shown some maturity can monitor their screen and time usage well.

  • The closer teens come to graduating from high school, the more you need to transfer the management of their time and habits to them.
  • This way they can learn by doing, and be better prepared for adulting.

The closer teens come to graduating from high school, the more you need to transfer the management of their time and habits to them.- Melanie Wilson

Let go of the idea that you can protect your teens from every evil influence.

  • In the complexities of the digital world, complete protection of your teens is not possible.
    • Instead, turn to God and trust Him with their safety.
    • Then discuss with your teens that it is their own responsibility to keep themselves safe. Also, discuss internet safety skills and safety skills, in general.
  • One of Melanie’s sons told her that the likelihood of your teens at some point accidentally seeing some pornography on their screens is one-hundred percent. It just happens.
    • You want your kids to be able to talk to you about it when it happens.
    • Therefore, you cannot protect them one-hundred percent, so you must educate them instead.

Melanie spoke about sexuality with each of her children when they were ready.

  • She told them that sex is a beautiful thing when it is within the context of marriage and is private.
  • Making sex public destroys its beauty. She explains that there are some people who want to take sex out of the context of marriage and privacy and make it public.
  • She explains to her kids that when they run into those images during screen time, the do not keep looking at those images.

She also explains to her kids that these pornographic images are as addictive as drugs.

Pornography addicts have more trouble with sexual relationships with their real-life marriage partner.

  • For that reason, Melanie coaches her teens to discontinue looking at any pornographic images when they inadvertently run across them.

Handling screen time for teens and the evil in this world

Melanie also has real discussions with her teens about the evil in this world. She explains that most people do not want to lure them away from safety and abduct them. However, there a few very dangerous people who spend time on line with the purpose of luring young people away from home for evil purposes.

While we homeschoolers have mostly had safe and secure lives, the downside can be a naivety about the fact that there are evildoers in the world. Therefore, our teens need to know that they should not give personal information to people they meet online- gender, age, location, etc. Melanie does have rules about giving personal information to anyone in the digital sphere. However, she knows the most important thing is not the rule but her teens’ buy-in.

Handling screen time for teens and health

Melanie has discussions with her teens about the simple addictiveness of being on screens. (Even we parents have to watch out about how addictive screens are to us.) They need to know that the media and games to which they are exposed is designed to keep them on their screens.

  • In other words, the game designers and media producers take advantage of their understanding our human psychology to keep people gaming or watching. Therefore, feeling stuck on their screens does not show bad character on your teens’ part. Teens need to know that- that this is just a modern-day challenge for all Americans.

Also important to their health is screen time at night time. Teens sometimes need to be reminded of the importance of sleep for health and learning. Help them with their time management and goal setting. (Their health curriculum will address this also.)

Remember to keep discussions relational and non-judgmental!

Check out Melanie’s blogpost about teens and screen time for discussion and resources.

Another good resource is Leah Nieman. Check out these Homeschool Highschool Podcast interviews with Leah about technology, apps and digital audits. Not only that but check out the Homeschooling with Technology podcast with our friend, Meryl van der Merwe, for a gazillion technology ideas.

Join Vicki and Melanie for a helpful discussion on handling teens and screen time.

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Building Communication Skills for Teens

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Building Communication Skills for Teens.

Building Communication Skills for Teens

Building Communication Skills for Teens

We homeschooling parents like to see our teens develop solid written-communication skills. However, it is wise to remember that as homeschool high schoolers become adults, they often will be using their verbal-communication skills!

Therefore it is a good idea to make sure we are helping our teens build strong verbal communication skills for life!

In fact, helping teens develop good communication skills can help them (and us) right now. For instance, have you ever had a moment where you and your high schooler were having a difficult conversation? That is normal, of course. However, sometimes tough conversations can be made worse by poor communication skills.

Where is it useful for teens to have good verbal communication skills?

Lots of places! Here are a few:

  • In homeschool co-op or dual enrollment classes at the local college
  • Communicating with peers or when giving a presentation. Especially in the presentation situations it is common to feel the jitters.
  • At home with family
  • With friends
  • At their jobs, service work or sports teams

How to help

There are so many ways to build communication skills. Here are a few.

At home you can:

  • Do poetry and Scripture memorization and recitation at home
  • Have discussions on a topic at home. For instance, “Today we are going to talk about…current events, a Bible verse, a family story…”
  • Teach them active listening and practice it at home. In active listening, the listener repeats back or rephrases what they heard.
    • Speaker: “I learned so much in Math today.” Listener: “Math went well today.”
  • Teach them they do not need to disagree with the person but simply with the ideas.
    • This helps them become comfortable with differences and learn to be friends with all kinds of people.
  • Help teens learn non-verbal communication skills (body language)
    • Body posture (arms relaxed when listening, slight forward lean)
    • Eye contact
    • Facing the speaker (not the phone, btw)
    • Voice intonation (I’m really HUNGRY…I’m REALLY hungry…I’M really hungry)

In co-op or group classes you can:

  • Use Speech 1, 7Sisters fun public speaking curriculum, in a group.
    • This is a non-threatening, user-friendly beginner’s course for making public speaking delightful
  • Hold group discussions in homeschool co-op or umbrella school classes
    • Help teens contribute something simple in each class.
    • Give out poker chips, they pitch a chip into a bucket each time they share. When their chips are gone, they have contributed all they need to. (This is also good for helping talky teens to give others space- when they run out of chips, they are done talking for the day.)
    • Teach teens in group discussions to say something like, “I agree with that because…”
    • For teens who are holding back, remind them kindly that it helps everyone in the group feel better when they contribute. When everyone says a little something, everyone is more relaxed. (This helps teens look at others’ perspective and get out of their own minds.)
  • Help teens who dominate conversations, learn to make space for others. Help them learn to:
    • Self-monitor and ask, “Am I giving other folks a chance to speak.”
    • Scan the room and see who is looking ready to say something, then be silent for a bit. Also, if people at drawing back, looking away or irritated, it might be time to give others a chance to speak for a few minutes.
    • For highly opinionated teens who can fall into being judgmental, coach them to allow other ideas to be heard. You can even help them learn handle opinions they do not agree with by answering, “Well, I never thought of that before. I will think about it.”
      • This shows respect and humility- even if they do not agree with the speaker. The more we listen to others, even if we do not agree, them more our thinking is sharpened.
  • Drama camps and experiences can help build non-verbal and other communication skills (try 7Sisters Acting and Directing curriculum)

Also, help them learn how to manage social media communication skills

Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for a fun discussion on building communication skills with homeschool high schoolers.

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Unschooling Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Unschooling Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco.

Unschooling Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco

Unschooling Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco

We are joined this week for a chat with our friend, Julie Polanco. Julie is an unschooling mom and the host of our network’s Crunchy Christian Podcast. We are so glad to finally have a crunchy unschooler on Homeschool Highschool Podcast!

As you know, we 7Sisters believe there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school! There are classical homeschoolers, Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, traditional textbook homeschoolers, hybrid school homeschoolers, or (like us) eclectic homeschoolers that do a mix of everything.

There are also UNschoolers. We are so glad to finally have a chance to talk about unschooling homeschool high school!

Julie’s story

Julie and her family have finished their nineteenth year of homeschool. She has two homeschoolers who have already graduated from high school, one homeschooling high school and one homeschooling middle school.

When they first started homeschooling, they were not unschooling. They wanted to make sure they did homeschooling “right” so she tried a lot curriculums. However, some of Julie’s kids had learning differences so traditional curriculum was not a good fit. Two of her kids had ADHD so textbooks were burdensome. In fact, Julie watched, “the light go out in my son’s eyes” as she saw him struggle with textbooks.

After a while of struggling to get her son to co-operate with learning from a textbook, she felt God telling her, “You cannot continue to do this. This is not how I made you. This boy is obedient in every other way, so you need to try a different way to educate your son.”

She found that other way to educate her son: Unschooling!

Julie’s unschooling is flavored by her Christian worldview, so her unschooling might look different from those who have other worldviews. That’s because there’s not ONE right way to unschool high school!

So she helps her kids develop their love of learning (which is a major focus of unschooling) along with some parameters:

  • Screen time is limited
  • Doing productive learning activities (do not waste time)
  • Concentrate on discovering their curiosity and passions
  • Develop strengths more than work on correcting weaknesses
  • Give some kind of structure
    • (this is like when you go on vacation, you are going to enjoy it but you also have some kinds of plans for travel and perhaps, other parts of the trip)
    • Make sure a structure plan fits their personalities and rhythms
  • Help them develop some goals for their growth and their education
  • On the other hand, allow some boredom, so they learn to find ways to drive themselves to explore and learn

Her son today still has some challenges. However, he also has many hobbies and skills. He has learned about himself and believes in himself.

This is because God creates a person with the right mix of things they need in order to fulfill their callings.

Her daughter is quieter but she flourished in an exploratory unschooling setting. She is developing her skills and talents. Her younger two kids have always unschooled. They have been flourishing in this kind of learning atmosphere.

The point of homeschooling is to give each young person the education that they need!

Julie and her unschoolers have had some cool experiences over their homeschooling years.

Here are a few of the interesting things they have done:

  • Julie gave her son transcript credit for learning 3-D modeling. He also earning credit by taking a course at the Chicago Adler Planetarium where he learned 3-D animation. He created a 3-D warrior angel and an entire 3-D chess set.
  • Not only that he developed some of his own software and sold them.
  • He also earned transcript credit for developing his own YouTube channel. While he worked on the channel, he developed skills in using green screen, doing video editing and time lapse work.
  • Also, he earned Language Arts credit for creating his own graphic novel.
  • He is now part of the Praxis program, learning business skills.
  • Julie’s oldest daughter took classes at the Field Museum as well as the Museum of Science and Industry. Where she learned how to use Garage Band, as well as skills for audio editing.
  • She also did NaNoWriMo. She did a one hundred page book in a month. She also worked with mentor writers at a local writer’s organization.
  • Her daughter is now studying medical technology at the local community college.

Her teens have not been limited by the choice to unschool homeschool high school! In fact, their world is big and includes many wonderful things!

Join Vicki and Julie for an encouraging discussion about unschooling homeschool high school.

Also, check out Julie’s work:

The Crunchy Christian Podcast where she talks about healthy lifestyle based on her training as a master herbalist

Julie Naturally on Facebook 

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How to Talk to Shy Teens

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Talk to Shy Teens.

How to Talk to Shy Teens

How to Talk to Shy Teens

We had a request to talk about how to talk with and motivate shy teens. We parents who have shy teens can sometimes feel perplexed when trying to figure out how to have conversations with teens who are naturally shy. This can be an issue if we parents are shy, also, so unnecessary chatting is avoided. On the other hand, if we parents have more outgoing personalities, our shy teens may feel confusing to us!

Therefore, it is a good idea to have a conversation today about how to talk to shy teens!

First off, let’s talk about what makes shy teens shy

Of course, there’s not ONE cause of shyness. (Let me make clear that shyness is not a “problem”, so using the term “cause” in regards to shyness can be a problem. We do not see shyness as a problem, but rather, a personality style. And all personalities are gifts from God.)

Some shy teens have a low need for talking

There are several kinds of teens who have a low need for talking:

  • These teens often have rich and satisfying conversations within their own minds, so they do not need as much talking out loud as others people might.
  • OR they might be natural listeners and really enjoy hearing what people have to say.
  • Some of these teens are natural observers, they like to watch and process what is going on around them but have little need to comment.

All of these aspects of a high schooler’s temperament or personality are good and beautiful. Everyone is unique and that is as it should be. Unfortunately, in our western culture, quieter people are sometimes judged as being faulty- as if shyness is a problem. It is not.

Biology can affect whether a teen is shy

Some teens are biologically wired to be more sensitive to environmental stimuli. Therefore, they need more quiet times.

Other teens may be biologically wired to process information more slowly, so they need more time to observe and think about what is happening before they respond.

Some teens’ bodies may be more prone to producing more stress hormones than is useful or comfortable. Stress hormones, such as adrenaline or cortisol, are helpful for times of danger. However, adolescents going through puberty or high-stress times (like covid or SAT prep or many other pressures that teens face) may be carrying higher levels of these hormones than is useful. Thus, they experience feeling anxiety.

Developmental process can affect how shy a teen feels

Some teens feel much more anxious due to their stage of development (homeschool high schoolers taking Human Development course will know about this). Adolescents often experience a thing called “the imaginary audience”. When they are going through this phase, they feel like everything they are doing is being watched and scrutinized (whether anyone is actually watching and scrutinizing or not). This is not paranoia, it’s just a developmental phase. But it can cause anxiety and shut down. This can look like shyness in some teens.

Emotional struggles can make a teen feel shy or be exacerbated by shyness

An example of an emotional struggle is what the diagnostic manuals call “selective mutism”. With selective mutism, sometime words can be expressed by a teen and other times it feels like the words get stuck and will not come out of their mouths. When teens experience this difficulty, it is time to invite them to work with a counselor. It is treatable.

One thing that we parents need to stress to our teens is that it is not wrong to be shy!

One thing that we parents need to stress to our teens is that it is not wrong to be shy!

They should not be ashamed of themselves. Also, we parents must be careful never to shame our teens for their shyness.

Instead, we can give then tools so that when it is not convenient to act shyly, they can put on skills that help them feel more successful!

With that in mind, how can you communicate with your shy teen?

Remember that shy teens are more quiet and listening oriented.

Also, they probably need less conversation in order to feel connected to you. Sometimes, just sitting in silence with them is good connection:

  • Do a puzzle
  • Take a walk
  • Watch a television show
  • Build a birdhouse
  • Bake something together
  • Run errands together

Just spend time with them.

Then if they initiate some conversation, join with them at their pace.

  • This often means that you pause for a second before answering. Then speak at a slower pace than you might naturally speak.
  • This gives them time to listen and process at their own pace.
  • Be sure not to start fixing them!
  • You will find a rhythm for talking with them…a synchrony that feels good to you both.

What are some tools you can use to motivate shy teens?

Remember, shy adolescents are often in that “imaginary audience” phase of life. Therefore, they feel hesitant to start big projects or things they need to do for co-op or other things that are intimidating. This causes them to feel overwhelmed because they imagine they are working in front of a critical audience.

You can help by:

  • When they are not in the middle of trying to start a project (at a relaxed time), start building their self-confidence.

    • In a low-key way, compliment them on something they did well, or a kindness they performed. Try this on a daily basis.
    • Teens usually try to roll their eyes or shrug their shoulders at compliments. That is okay. You do not have to see them buy in on the compliments. The affirmations are helping even when teens do not show it.
    • Compliments are one way to help teens build a growth mindset.
  • Give them non-verbal tools for group situations.

    • In a low-key time (not right before a stressful event), teach them the “magic non-verbals”. Have them stand with their:
      • Shoulders back a little
      • Chin up a little
      • A Mona Lisa smile on their lips
    • These magic non-verbals are invitational- they give people the message that it is okay to talk to your teen. Generally someone will!
  • Teach them “facilitator skills”.
    • With facilitator skills, shy teens look for someone for them to help feel included.
      • In making someone else feel better, your teen will feel better. (One of the best cures for social anxiety is doing good deeds.)
      • When they go to a group setting, look around the room.
      • Find a person is on the fringe of the room and is all alone.
      • Walk up, use the magic non-verbals and say, “Hi”.
  • Help them learn how to be in a group conversation.

  • When your shy teen is standing in an informal group that is busy chatting, help them know that it is okay to just listen.
    • Tell them to:
      • Stand at the edge of the group.
      • Look at the speaker and occasionally not their head
      • Keep the magic non-verbals on!
    • The folks in the group feel you accept them and feel like you were part of the group!
  • Answer questions PLUS a little bit

    • If someone asks your shy teen a question, have them answer and add a little bit.
      • For instance,  if someone at homeschool co-op asks if they finished their homework they could answer:
      • “Yes. How about you?”
      • Yes, but it was SO hard!”
    • This helps the conversation to keep going!
  • When you want your teen to do something around the house, ask instead of command

  • For instance:
    • “Could you help me build this birdhouse?”
    • “Would you help me get these chores done?”
  • Do volunteer work

  • This helps improve the part of shyness that is related to social anxiety
  • Memorize Scripture, quotes or poetry

    • Then have them recite to you. This builds their confidence because they hear their own voices speaking and helps them feel more motivated.
  • Have them do some personality tests

    • Help your shy teens get to know themselves. This builds confidence and helps them find their motivations.
    • There are links to a bunch of personality tests in this freebie from Vicki Tillman Coaching.
    • Discuss the results together.

Join Vicki for encouragement for talking to shy teens! And check out this episode on Homeschooling a Strong Willed Teen (another topic suggested by our 7th Sisters)!

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