What Formats Can Be Used For Homeschool High School Courses?

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: What Formats Can Be Used For Homeschool High School Courses?

What Formats Can Be Used For Homeschool High School Courses?

What Formats Can Be Used For Homeschool High School Courses?

There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. AND there’s not ONE right way to earn those important credits for the homeschool transcripts. One of the most asked questions that we receive is: What are the formats that can be used to earn credits?

Vicki will give an explanation of the basic ways to earn those transcript credits. Here are the basics:

For a start, you can get more information at 7SistersHomeschool.com. Check out our post on earning credits. Here’s a download and editable transcript template to help.

In most states, teens will earn Carnegie credits

Carnegie units are the basic way to earn and assign high school transcript credits. You can actually go to Carnegie.com to learn the history of credits (the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching set about in 1906 to try to standardize the way high schoolers show the amount of time they have studied a subject).

Carnegie suggests that 120 hours of study will earn a credit. This has been adapted over the years so that each state has a different number of hours needed (anywhere from 120-180). Check your state homeschool organization or Department of Education to find out for certain.

A few states use different credit units. Again check state homeschool organization or Department of Education to find out for certain.

Logging hours

Some courses have such rich and interesting information that a textbook will not do it justice. If your teen has a specific interest but there is not a good-fit curriculum, allow them to explore their interest with a log system. Include:

  • Date
  • Time spent
  • What was done

Keep it in a master portfolio or other record keeping system.

Things that can count:

  • Relevant documentaries
  • Relevant field trips
  • Relevant audiobooks or real books
  • Relevant short courses on a MOOC such as Edx (often only a few lessons long)
  • Time spent or interviews with a tutor or expert

Studying with a textbook

Sometimes teens just want to blast through a textbook. It feels cleaner to them than logging hours. If your teens like no-busywork, adaptable, downloadable texts, check out 7Sisters ebookstore.

Independent study with real books

Use real books to dig deep into a topic of interest. Choose approximately sixteen relevant books that help your teen really understand their topic. The self-designed course is capped by creating a large project or research paper. Keep book lists and brief reflection on each book, also. It will also help to keep a course description in your records.

Participate in online courses

Make sure of the amount of credit being assigned (check the course description to find out).

For lots of ideas check out this post.

There's not ONE right way to earn a high school credit! 7SistersHomeschool and Homeschool Highschool Podcast

Dual Enrollment College Course

Teen participates in a course at a local community college. Some universities also offer online courses to high schoolers. Usually a one semester course in college is equivalent a full-credit high school course. (This can be frustrating to teens because the college says they earned 4 or 5 credits. That’s because they are on a different credit system.)

That college course is a college course, they need to be ready. Assignments on time, work hard, participate. Usually colleges do not transfer the grade in the course (some do, ask). Also make sure the credits are transferrable.

CLEP Testing

For teens who are expert in an area of interest, CLEP testing can allow them to test out of a related college course. Check college website that your teen may be interested in to see if it accepts CLEP. We suggest using a practice test also because it will help teens get into the mindset of the test format and vocabulary.

AP Testing

Homeschool high schoolers can take AP courses and tests. (College Board has to approve the course, you can’t just call a course AP.) High AP scores will allow teens to skip that course in college. We suggest using a practice test also because it will help teens get into the mindset of the test format and vocabulary.

Allowing teens to use a variety of formats will keep them interested and owning their courses. Be sure to include your high schoolers in the planning and format choices as often as possible.

You can do this! Homeschooling high school years can be the best years yet! For more in-depth information check out 7Sisters Authoritative Guide post suite:

Join Vicki for an informative discussion on formats for earning homeschool high school credits.

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What Formats Can Be Used For Homeschool High School Courses?

Advice for First Generation College Students, Interview with Denise Boiko

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Advice for First Generation College Students, Interview with Denise Boiko.

Advice for First Generation College Students, Interview with Denise Boiko. Tips for prep during high school and success in college.

Advice for First Generation College Students, Interview with Denise Boiko

I can remember long, long ago when I was ready to start my first college classes. My parents, who both had college degrees, gave me tips for success:

  • Sit in the front of the room
  • Keep your pencil in your hand so it, at least, looks like you are taking notes
  • Visit the professor during office hours and have a question to ask
  • On exams, first look over the exam so you know how to pace yourself, the answer as many as you can quickly, leave blank things you don’t know and go back to those later
  • Ask for extra credit if you need it
  • Ask for help if you need it

How did my parents know these things? They had been through college, and even taught at college level for a little while. It was insider tips!

So I started out the very first day of college better prepared than some of my peers who were the first in their families to go to college. They had to learn all this the hard way.

It has long been important to me in my work as a counselor (and in my years as a homeschool advisor), to help first generation college students start off with tools for success. That’s why I was excited when Denise Boiko, homeschool advisor and author of Homeschooled & Headed for College, contacted me about her experiences as a first generation college student.

Denise agreed to share advice for first generation college students so that they can survive and thrive…and the good news, ALL college students will benefit from her advice.

Denise homeschooled her students all the way through graduation. Then one went on to graduate from Stanford University and one from University of Southern California (one in Engineering and the other in Medicine and now a pediatrician). Denise (like the 7Sisters) continued to serve her homeschool community as teacher of local group classes and academic advisor. Her experience led her to write her book Homeschooled & Headed for College.

Denise was the first high school graduate in her family to go to college. She came from a hard-working farming family who had never needed college. Denise loved learning and wanted to go to college. She had the support of her parents, which was helpful to her.

She found out that college is different from high school and that she was needing to survival skills that other students (whose parents went to college before them) already knew.

Denise makes it a point to share the college-success tips for first generation college students:

Prepare during high school

  • Start during high school, if possible, by talking to others who are in college or have been to college. (Ask about their college experiences.)
  • Look at resources to support first-generation students
  • Find a teacher/mentor (a favorite teacher in homeschool courses, an advisor, mentor program)
  • Look at College Board’s website and check out their resources
  • Use Kahn Academy’s resources
  • Look at local college’s websites:
    • See what they are looking for in incoming freshmen
    • See if they have a visit-program for first generation kids
    • See if they have scholarships for first generation kids

Start preparing for college during high school.

Applying to college

Succeeding at the very start of college

  • Meet your professors
  • Attend their office hours
  • Ask for help
  • Get a tutor (many college have them)
  • Attend study sessions given by professor or teaching assistants (TA)
  • Join a study group in class, when available
  • Find online study aids that are tied to your textbooks (like solutions manuals and extra materials)
  • Don’t allow you to talk to yourself as “disadvantaged”. Believe in yourself.

While in college

  • Be continuously looking for scholarships (they are sometimes available throughout the college years)
  • Look for fee waivers each year

Celebrate

  • Remember to thank your parents, your mentors, you in your own story
  • Develop your own “credo” for success
  • Pay it forward in the future by investing in younger students

Check out Denise’s helpful book: Homeschooled & Headed for College. Here are some things it covers:

  • Locating or designing honors and advanced courses
  • Seeking out leadership opportunities that provide fun, growth, and positive attention from admissions staff—even at highly competitive colleges
  • Preparing your student for college entrance exams
  • Helping your high schooler navigate community college courses
  • Tackling college applications and coaching your student through application essays
  • Helping your student prepare for college entrance exams
  • Gathering recommendation letters
  • Scouting out scholarships and financial aid
  • Planning a gap year if your student desires a time of exploration
  • Leveraging the #1 college admissions secret, for which homeschoolers are excellently positioned

You can find Denise at:

Available at HomeschoolRoadMap.com
Facebook: @HomeschooledAndHeadedForCollege
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/denise-boiko
For more college-success tips, check out:
College Success episode of Finish Well Podcast (with our friend, Meredith Curtis)
What Colleges Like to See from Homeschoolers (Homeschool Highschool Podcast)
Join Vicki and Denise for an encouraging chat with advice for first generation college students.

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How to Create and Use a Syllabus for Homeschool High School

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Create and Use a Syllabus for Homeschool High School.

How to Create and Use a Syllabus for Homeschool High School

How to Create and Use a Syllabus for Homeschool High School

It’s the beginning of a new homeschool year and it’s time to get organized. One of the most helpful tools you can use to help your teens learn time and organizational skills is learning to use a syllabus.

  • Homeschool high schoolers who are headed for college need to be prepared with this skill, since most college classes will use a syllabus (sometimes called a “schedule” or other titles at college level).
  • Homeschool high schoolers who are not college bound will still benefit from learning to use a syllabus. Using a syllabus will help them learn to think and plan so they can be efficient and successful in the workplace.

SO what IS a syllabus?

Basically a syllabus is a chronological summary of a course that a student can use to guide the organization of their studies. This is so helpful because syllabi often include day-by-day assignments or weekly assignments so that a student understands exactly what to do and when.

Syllabi often include other details about the course such as:

  • Text (author, publisher, ISBN if possible)
  • Other materials and experiences (documentaries, field trips, etc)
  • Course goals (brief summary of purpose and goals)
    • This helps teens remember the “why” of the course
  • Topics covered in the course (this can be chapter titles or just topics to be studied)
    • This is useful for teens to understand what is coming up
    • It is also useful for teens who are interested in NCAA sports, the military or that rare college that is not familiar with homeschooling
  • Grading scales
    • Teens really need to know this
    • This helps setting the grade for the transcript
  • Due dates of projects, papers and exams
  • Schedule: Homework assignment listing by day or week in the body of the syllabus

All of this information is good for your record keeping, too!

Using a syllabus helps your record keeping and their organization.

Once you have a syllabus constructed, go over it with your teen and use it to help them plan their schedule for each of their courses. (Check here for more ideas on how to help your homeschool high schooler stay on track through the school year, as well as this interview about time management for teens with Vicki on Vintage Homeschool Moms Podcast.)

It may feel like a boring task, but this is worth the effort. Go over each part of the syllabus with your teen:

Show them the textbook.

Explain the other materials.

Go over the goals, the “why” of the course. Discuss this. If it will be a boring or challenging course, how will it help them…if nothing else: they need it for graduation and it will develop skills in perseverance 😉

What is expected and when for projects, papers and exams.

Then discuss together what the daily timing of what they will study and when. If you include them on the decisions on their daily schedule, it will help them own their education and organization.

Get out a calendar, planner, digital calendar (whatever they feel good about using). Mark the due dates of projects, papers, exams, then schedule backward from there. What is scheduling backwards? It is a simple way to help your teens learn to organize their study time (you can learn details on how-to with our freebie download on Scheduling Backwards). Here is an overview:

Mark due dates on calendar

  • Go back in time to a reasonable start date for the project, paper or study time. Mark that date as “Start project”, “Start research paper” or “Start studying for exam”.
  • Then go forward to the halfway point between the start date and the due date. Mark that as “Be halfway through with…”
  • Then mark quarter-way points and three-quarter-way points.

Mark when homework-to-mom or homework-to-co-op dates will be.

Remember that teens are learning to manage themselves. Most are not ready to manage a syllabus on their own in their first year of homeschooling. That is why you want to work on this together and then check in frequently.

These guidelines for creating and using a syllabus are suggestions. Remember: you are homeschooling in the way that is best for your homeschool high school. There’s not ONE right way to homeschool! Adapt to your family’s needs.

BTW- Many of the texts at 7SistersHomeschool have a suggested syllabus that you can download and adapt to your needs.

Join Vicki for a helpful discussion on creating and using a syllabus for homeschooling high school.

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How to Create and Use a Syllabus for Homeschool High School

How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick.

How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick. How to build your teen's confidence for writing.

How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick

Some teens are born writers. Many are not. Today our friend, Kat Patrick of Dreaming Spires Home Learning shares tips for building confidence and getting unstuck for teens who do not like writing.

Kat, who was born in Texas but married an Oxford professor and lived in England for twenty-five years, has been with us for three episodes already:

And Kat’s daughter, Lauren Patrick joined us right before she headed off to her freshman year at Mt. Holyoke University

Some of Kat’s teens have been enthusiastic writers but some were reluctant writers. Kat has used Charlotte Mason’s phases of developing a happy writer in helping her reluctant writers. Here are the phases as Kat teaches them in seminars and in her Dreaming Spires courses:

Got a reluctant writer? Build confidence by learning  in phases. - Kat Patrick

What do I mean by writing?

  • Handwriting is the first stage.
    • Believe it or not, this is so important. It helps develop the brain and skills in capturing words.
      • As Vicki points out that when she is working with her counseling clients, she tells them that handwriting a gratitude list actually helps some of the calm-down parts of the brain.
      • Kat points out that this skill also helps develop attention and memorization along with picturing words in their heads
      • It also helps develop vocabulary and sentence-creation skills
    • You can use copywork to develop this skill.
      • Copy quotes by hand
      • Copy Scripture by hand
      • Copy poetry by hand

Reading and telling back what you are reading is important to good writing

  • Kat recommends a book Know and Tell by Karen Glass that helps explain this skills
  • Teens can read and explain their reading to their mom.
  • This will help them build comprehension and inferential skills.
  • It also helps teens learn to capture their thoughts in a non-threatening way.

Then begin to write these ideas on in a jotting sort of way

  • Just jot ideas from on paper with no stress, no rules
  • Eventually, mom can ask for 150 words, then 200, etc
  • Then use this as the basis for a composition

Eventually, teens will learn to use these skills for composition

  • Ask teens to identify their audience
  • Ask teens to understand the format or genre of their composition
  • A good composition to start with is letter writing
  • Then write a journalistic/newspaper style article
    • You write a who-what-when-where-why type paragraph to start
    • Fill in interesting details afterwards
    • Try out a news feature followed by a lifestyle feature
    • You can use a pro-forma/template to simply plug in the details to get your teens started
  • Move onto the five-paragraph essay
    • Check out 7SistersHomeschool.com’s Introductory Guide to Essay Writing to get your teens started with these essays.
      • 7Sisters Writing guides take reluctant writers step-by-step through their first essays. Teens tell us the guides really help them learn the skills and gain confidence in their ability to write.
    • If a teen gets excited about essays, have them write about something they are passionate about.
      • Ask them to write an essay that is as long as they wish (much more than five paragraphs)
      • Kat explains that her formerly reluctant writer son has written long essays about:
        • Japanese jazz
        • Characters that he is impressed with in the books he is reading

Kat invites everyone to check out Dreaming Spires Home Learning. Dreaming Spires uses a college-model for education, with live classes once per week and assignments that last the rest of the week. Kat has students from around the world using the Charlotte Mason method for homeschooling high school. Classes this year include:

  • Literature
  • Composition
  • World Languages
  • Advanced Algebra and Probability
  • Sciences
  • History
  • Art History and Appreciation
  • Bible

Join Vicki and Kat for some practical tips for developing writing skills in reluctant writers!

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How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick

Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School.

Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School.

Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School

Why is English/Language Arts SO confusing? Why is it such a huge credit? ELA is the most complicated credit for each year of homeschooling high school. This credit has so many topics to cover in order to prepare our teens for effective thinking and communication as adults.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you! Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for a fun discussion on ELA and how to handle it.

Let’s start with the basic information for you to remember.

All credits are not created equal. We know it’s not fair that English/Language Arts is like five credits rolled into one credit:

  • Literature
  • Writing
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Speech/Public Speaking

It’s a huge credit! So let’s see if we can clarify the components and make it a little easier to manage.

We LOVE to help! SO here goes!

Let’s talk about Literature. It’s NOT just a book list. What goes into a the Literature component for high school?

  • You could approach it from several different ways:
  • Your teens should read an appropriate number of books (each teen is different, so the number will vary) that are challenging. The purpose of these books are to learn analysis and critical/inferential thinking skills.
    • We recommend Literature Study Guides for at least one book per month in this category (more for Honors-level students).
      • We highly recommend Literature Study Guides that DON’T kill the book by overteaching and busywork. (Our teens, and the teens we have taught over the years, helped 7SistersHomeschool.com’s team create guides that build skills but build them in meaningful, no-busywork ways.)
  • Your teens should read an appropriate number of other books (again, each teen is different, so the number will vary) that are:
    • not necessarily as challenging,
    • are reading for pleasure,
    • are part of their Bible reading or
    • supplement other subjects.

All credits are not created equal. We know it's not fair that English/Language Arts is like five credits rolled into one credit: Literature Writing Vocabulary Grammar Speech/Public Speaking

Let’s talk about Writing. It’s NOT just essay writing. What goes into a the Writing component for high school?

Homeschool high schoolers will need to write essays, yes. Essays (especially the basic five-paragraph essay) help teens capture their thoughts, then concisely and clearly present them. Essays at this level, are exercises to develop thought-presentation skill.

Teens then need to expand their skills in capturing and presenting thoughts in the form of research papers. In order to write a longer paper, like an MLA, APA or Chicago-style research paper, teens also need to learn to do research, present it in an appropriate format and cite it.

In order to write these long papers and essays well, it helps to write some Short Stories.

Basic short story writing helps teens develop creative thinking (which helps build problem-solving skills). Teens who write some short stories tend to notice they become better writers of the “serious” paper styles because they are writing are articulately.

Many teens are intimidated by the idea of short story writing, that’s why we 7Sisters started teaching our teens and our local homeschool co-ops how to write them. With their vetting, our guides take teens through simple, step-by-step processes of writing a fun short story (a different style each year of high school, including the ever-popular Myth-Fantasy Short Story Writing Guide). You may remember our fun HSHSP episode with popular indy-novelist Will Hahn who teaches our local teens this course each year.

In order to write essays and research papers well, it helps to write some Poetry.

Poetry writing can be fun but mostly it helps teens learn to find and use words articulately and with inspiration.

That’s why 7Sisters began teaching our teens poetry with non-threatening, tiny, fun daily lessons for a unit each year. Even our most reluctant teens learn to like writing poetry and feel more confident with their other papers.

Don’t forget professional writing. Don’t let teens graduate with these skills.

Being able to write emails, memos and other things may make a difference when they get into the job market. 7Sisters can help with that to, with our popular Professional Writing course.

Let’s talk about Vocabulary for homeschool high school.

Of course, 7Sisters Literature Study Guides include vocabulary from the book. Also teens who want more will love playing FreeRice.com‘s gamified vocabulary (will help with SAT prep, too). (BTW- we are not Free Rice affiliates, it’s just fun.)

Let’s talk about Grammar for homeschool high school.

Some teens just naturally have grammar under control. Help them learn to use the rubric for each paper to edit their papers. (Don’t forget to keep rough drafts of papers in your homeschool portfolios/records.)

If your teen needs something on hand to help check the rules, use 7Sisters digital pocket guide: Grammar Granules.

Don’t forget your teen can also use tools like Grammarly to run their papers through to catch grammar goofs they might not have noticed.

You can also have your teen do a practice workbook to increase their skills. Some of our local teens have enjoyed Language Mechanic or various levels of Editor in Chief. (Again, we are not affiliates with anyone.)

Let’s talk about Public Speaking for homeschool high school.

We really aren’t through with English/Language Arts until we give our teens a little bit of experience with Speech/Public Speaking. It doesn’t have to be scary. Let it be fun! Try 7Sisters’ beloved Public Speaking curriculum. It is full of FUN exercises.

Homeschool high school English/Language Arts: You and your teens can LOVE this. Give it a try with 7Sisters resources (especially our comprehensive ELA Bundles that include each of the 5 areas of ELA).

Hey, join our 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group and enjoy the questions and discussions to encourage homeschool moms and thanks for joining Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for this week’s discussion on ELA for homeschool high school!

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Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School

Choosing Electives for Homeschool High School, Interview with Meryl van der Merve

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Choosing Electives for Homeschool High School, Interview with Meryl van der Merve.

Choosing Elective Credits for Homeschool High School

Choosing Electives for Homeschool High School, Interview with Meryl van der Merve

Today Vicki is joined by our fellow podcaster, Meryl from Homeschooling with Technology. We are going to talk about choosing competitions for electives in homeschooling high school. This is a rich way to develop a marvelous transcript, especially for college-bound teens (although competitions can develop the skills for any homeschool high schooler).

Meryl, as you probably know, is from South Africa. She has homeschooled her kids here in the States and is now running two competition teams for local homeschoolers  (Quiz Bowl and Science Olympiad) as well as running her popular online academy FundaFunda Academy.

Competitions can be a way to build elective credits that show a teen’s interest and skills. Choose competitions that:

  • Build a teen’s interest
  • Explores a brand-new area that a teen may find she likes
  • Develops a skill that will look good on the transcript

Once you and your teens choose a competition, keep a log sheet of hours they spend. If they are working on a competition that can turn into more than one elective, keep separate log sheets for each elective. Here’s a post with details on logging hours for credits.

Competitions aren’t just good for building powerful transcripts and they are not just for highly competitive teens. Whether a teen is naturally competitive or more laid back, competitions can build some necessary life skills, too. Meryl explains a couple of those skills:

The ability to win and lose

Life is about winning and losing. Job interviews, games, and lots of other things. Teens need to be able to handle the wins and the losses with grace. Parents can use the winning and losing with resilience, growth mentality, perseverance, grace and compassion. This requires guidance and conversations. (And good winning and losing on the parents’ part, too.)

Tell teens:

  • Keep trying, you will keep getting better
  • When you win, be gracious and remember how you felt when you lost.

You do not start out being skilled as skilled as you need to be, you learn skills as you do the competitions

This is a wonderful thing about competitions. When teens choose to engage in a competition, they spend time on it and learn, develop and hone skills.

One wonderful thing about many competitions is they provide materials for the teens that will help them increase their skills. For instance:

Cyber security competitions provide manuals on how to do the work of the competition. PICOCTF is one.

National History Day gives lots of information on how to do research.

Try competitions to build fun electives and a powerful transcript

Competitions give teens the time and experience to find and develop interests and abilities.

Meryl tells the story of her daughter competing in National History Day. Meryl encouraged her daughter to make her project a film presentation rather than the traditional project. Her daughter liked the ideas, so explored the how-to’s of film projects. She loved the process so much that she became a film major in college and will soon complete her PhD in Communications.

Another story Meryl shares is one of her students participating in Science Olympiad because her friends were doing it. She was not really that interested in competitions but she wanted to do something special with her friends. One of the competitions she participated in was about ecology. She became so excited about the things she learned preparing for the competition that she is now in college studying Environmental Science. She would not know she was interested in Environmental Science if she had not had her Science Olympiad experience.

Competitions can help with college scholarships

In a competitive college admissions situation, competitions on the transcripts can help give a homeschool high schooler an edge. (This is especially true with national type competitions.)

Competitions can help you write a strong college application essay

Whether your homeschool high schooler wins or loses a competition, there are learnings and personal growth that can be great essay topics. Narratives are good fodder for these important essays.

Competitions teach teamwork

This one of the powerful soft skills that can open doors for jobs. Anytime teens work together on a group competition, they are learning necessary teamwork skills.

How do you incorporate competitions into electives?

When your homeschool high schoolers are working on a competition, log those hours! Show these on the transcript as electives.

For example:

  • Science Olympiad teens can earn elective science credits in the different science areas of their competitions.
  • National History Day teens can earn elective social studies credits based on their project.
  • Poetry Out Loud can earn elective credits in poetry or public speaking.
  • Scholastic Art and Writing Awards can earn elective credits in writing and art.
  • If they are learning other skills, such as film making, they can earn elective credits in that.

Join Vicki and Meryl for competitive ideas!

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Choosing Electives for Homeschool High School

Why 7SistersHomeschool Curriculum is DA BOMB

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Why 7SistersHomeschool Curriculum is DA BOMB!

Why 7SistersHomeschool Curriculum is DA BOMB. Adaptable, affordable, interesting curriculum for homeschool high school. #HomeschoolHighSchool #homeschoolcurriculum

Why 7SistersHomeschool Curriculum is DA BOMB

Homeschooling high school can feel intimidating but these can be the best years yet! You can do it! Your 7Sisters are here to help!

Today Sabrina, Vicki and Kym today shamelessly share reasons why 7SistersHomeschool curriculum is awesome for teens (even for the youngers- we have some things for them, too). The Sisters homeschooled together for decades educating their dozens of children in co-ops and group classes at their umbrella school. As we saw our youngest getting ready to graduate, we realized we had a Titus 2 calling to share what we have learned with younger homeschooling moms.

That’s why when you visit 7SistersHomeschool.com, it might be hard to tell if we are bloggers or curriculum publishers. We are Titus 2 homeschool moms who are sharing all the things we have learned in home educating our teens and helping hundreds of other homeschooling high schoolers graduate and move onto college, military, missions or career. You will find all of our advice in blogs and right here on the Homeschool Highschool Podcast.

Let’s go WAY back for a little 7Sisters history: Back in the early days of homeschooling, there was no such thing as homeschool curriculum. We had to beg and cajole publishers to sell to us. (In fact, 7Sisters Sara’s father became one of the first homeschool curriculum vendors back in those days. Anyway, in order for our homeschoolers to have curriculum that met their needs, we had to develop much of our own.

That turned out to be pretty cool, because each set of teens we used our curriculum with let us know what they thought. They (and their peers) vetted the curriculum! We have very opinionated kids and we have kids of all kinds of abilities, needs, interests and goals.

Shaping young people to be awesomely fabulous adults.

So what are the things that are distinctive about 7SistersHomeschool curriculum (and make it DA BOMB)?

Friendly

The tone of each text, literature study guide, writing guide or elementary-aged activity guide is accessible and friendly. It is written in the tone and manner that we talked to our co-op and group classes homeschoolers. We avoided the “formal tone” of textbooks because our teens told us they wanted to be talked to like they were respectable human beings.

No-busywork

Have you ever noticed that many textbooks have the same number of pages for every chapter? It seemed to our teens that in making page numbers standardized, texts became filled with busywork or useless data. Teens want to know what is important enough to remember but not busywork or redundant information.

Take for instance, our Literature Study Guides vary tremendously from guide to guide. That’s because the themes and necessary information varies tremendously. We concentrate on one or two important themes and only inferential (not redundant comprehension) questions. Teens actually need to learn the concepts that make each book matter. No worries about busywork and wasted time. So, The Invisible Man Literature Study Guide has more concept development and fewer questions. The Chronicles of Narnia Literature Study Guides need lots of meaty questions to get an adult-level thinking from the children’s stories.

Real-life learning

7Sisters Literature Guides, Writing Guides and texts contain real-life principles and skills. For instance, Financial Literacy trains teens to manage their finances well through life. Even Philosophy in Four Questions trains teens to think and be aware of the ideas running the world. Our underlying heart in all our curriculum is to shape the hearts of soon-to-be adults.

Character-shaping

All of 7SistersHomeschool curriculum is written by Christians. While we aim to be never-preachy, there is a worldview embedded in each text that should encourage teens’ hearts toward character development. But we don’t want to pound teens in the head with Scripture, lest they become irritated. They will have the worldview gently and respectfully in our materials. We want to help each teen to fulfill the unique character goals that God holds for them.

Levelable

7SistersHomeschool curriculum is adaptable to different levels of rigor based on the abilities, needs, interests and goals of each teen. Our materials are written in average or college prep levels for reading and interacting. For teens who need high powered Honors credits, we include meaningful activities for them to add so their transcripts can record rigor. In this manner, all the teens in a family, co-op or group class could read the same Literature book or do the same Health text (or any text) but at the best level of rigor for them. For more on levels, check out these Homeschool Highschool Podcast episodes on how to use levels on a transcript and what are levels?

Green

All our curriculum is digital. Everything is a downloadable pdf (and much of it is editable so teens can do all of it on their computers). Many of our teens tell us that saving the environment is important to them (so no paper in these books) AND digital is fun. (Also, if they are taking their text to co-op class, the book can go with them on their phone or laptop.)

However, our copyright notice allows printing for teens who need that, too. Because there’s not ONE right way to use 7SistersHomeschool.com’s materials.

It works for independent study or is wonderful for co-ops and group classes

The texts and guides are quite adaptable for groups. We will even give groups a discount, have many suggested syllabi, and some texts have teacher lesson plans (Psychology and Human Development).

The most important distinctive of 7SistersHomeschool is we genuinely like teens!

Download some 7Sisters curriculum (start with some freebies) and join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for a fun discussion!

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Shaping young people to be awesomely fabulous adults.

Why 7SistersHomeschool Curriculum is DA BOMB

College Safety and Fun for Homeschool Graduates, Interview with Seth and Caroline Tillman

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: College Safety and Fun for Homeschool Graduates, Interview with Seth and Caroline Tillman.

College Safety and Fun for Homeschool Graduates, Interview with Seth and Caroline Tillman #homeschoolToCollege #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast

College Safety and Fun for Homeschool Graduates

Vicki’s five homeschool high schoolers are all graduated from college now, even her youngest, Seth and his newlywed wife, Caroline. Seth and Caroline loved their years of homeschooling. College was a big change for them both but they loved it and made the most of their experiences there by getting involved in college activities and mentoring relationships. They also made lots of friends.

From the many experiences they or their friends had, Seth and Caroline offered to share some safety tips for homeschool high schoolers who will head off to college (or anywhere in the big, wide world).

Seth and Caroline Tillman

Seth and Caroline Tillman, photo used with permission

So here are Seth and Caroline’s tips for college safety and fun for homeschool graduates

Seth is a elementary music education teacher in a local public school. Caroline first worked in the retirement industry but recently transferred to the University of Delaware as academic advisor and assistant to the UD Health Professions program. Both of them have had the adventure of spending part of their year teaching or advising remotely. (Check out Seth’s videos for his music students.) They believe in paying the things they have learned forward to current homeschoolers to help them prepare for college or employment situations.

Safety Tip #1: Walk in a group

As often as you can, especially at night. If you will be late at the library, call a friend and talk to a friend while walking and use “Find My Friend” app on your phone. (Predatory people tend to prey on lone individuals, so groups are best when possible.)

Safety Tip #2: Lock your dorm or apartment doors when you leave

You would think this is not something you really need to tell teens. But Caroline shared that she saw the poor outcome of roommates or friends not locking doors a number of times. (Keep a key on a hair tie if you find keychains are too cumbersome.)

Safety Tip #3: Ride share advice

Ask the driver what YOUR name is. Make sure they and their car look like the descriptions you were told when ordering the ride. Also look for the lit sign in the windshield of the car (Uber or Lyft have signs). If you can, ride with a friend on the ordered ride.

Safety Tip #4: If you are walking around with listening to music or podcasts, leave one earbud out

This makes you more aware of your environment, especially for crossing roads but also for unusual things that might need your attention.

Safety Tip #5: Use the share your location app on your phone

But only share that with close, safe friends. It is not a social media app!

Safety Tip #6: Have a friend who leaves their phone on sound at night for you (and you for them)

If you have car trouble, locked out of their apartment or are in an uncomfortable situation, phoning a friend can be a life saver.

Safety Tip #7: When going on college tours what kind of campus safety measures are in place at the school.

For example, at University of Delaware there are safety blue lights regularly around the campus for calling for help. It is so important for schools to be considering safety of their students!

Safety Tip #8: When going to an event, make sure that at least one or two of your group will stand up for you

Let there be an understanding that if things get uncomfortable, you can say to your friend, “I need to go” and they will actually leave with you.

Teach safety skills as well as academic skills for your college bound teen.

Okay, now for some uncomfortable topics. Sometimes we homeschool parents try so hard to shelter our teens, that we find it extremely difficult to discuss “adult” topics with our young adults as they leave for college. (As Seth says, your kids are not kids anymore when they leave for college, they are adults…young adults but adults, so need to be prepared for an “adult” world.) Naivety will not work for new adults.

Safety Tip #9: When encountering alcohol, if you see someone heavily intoxicated, please do not leave that person alone

Be aware of your surroundings. If you see someone who is not okay, call the university police or 911. If it is someone you know and you feel safe, help them get back to their dorm. When calling 911, remember it’s better to have folks mad at you about it than have someone die from alcohol poisoning. Also, there is usually a medical amnesty policy that protects you from getting in trouble when you call 911.

Safety Tip #10: Know what alcohol poisoning looks like

From Mayo Clinic’s website: confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing, irregular breathing, blue-tinged or pale skin, low body temperature, passing out and cannot be wakened.

Seth and Caroline graduated from a state college. Seth points out that alcohol is common in state colleges, so they were not surprised to see these kinds of things. He also has lots of friends who went to small private or Christian colleges. In the smaller schools, these things happen, too (but mostly in secret).

Safety Tip #11: Monitor what you are drinking

This is difficult to talk about but important. No matter where you are whether restaurants, parties or get togethers. Vicki jumped in on this to add that, as a counselor who works with college students, she has worked with a number young women who have been “roofied” (a date rape drug slipped into their drink) while at a public gathering. So:

  • Keep a lid on what you are drinking when possible
  • If you go to the bathroom, have a trustworthy friend watch your drink
  • If you start to feel bad and feel like you are “blacking out” and you do not have a trustworthy friend with you but are at a public place, ask staff for help
  • If you feel frightened, call 911

Safety Tip #12: If you are choosing to drink (or have friends that choose to drink) alcohol, understand that not all alcohols are alike

Some are stronger than others. Learn about it ahead of time.

Safety Tip #13: Offer rides if you have a car

Of course, keep boundaries (some people might think you are an endless free ride) and remember that you can offer but not everyone feels comfortable accepting rides.

Safety Tip #14: Offer your dorm to a safe friend if they are stuck on campus late in the evening

Of course, only if you know they are safe friends

Safety Tip #15: Know what harassment and consent look like

If you see someone who appears uncomfortable, (and you are safe) walk up to the person who looks uncomfortable and talk right to that person. If you do not feel comfortable, feel free to call 911. Don’t just walk away, err on the side of keeping people safe.

If you are in an uncomfortable situation and do not feel safe, it is okay to lie in order to stay safe, as in: “Sorry, I can’t go with you, I have to meet my roommate here.” Or give out a fake phone number. Remember that actually if you find you are making someone feel uncomfortable, stop and walk away.

Safety Tip #16: Take a self-defense class

It is a genuinely valuable investment of time

Safety Tip #17: Parents: teach your male sons to be respectful

Teach them to be gentlemen. Teach them no means no. Teach them the value of all God’s creation. Teach them good manners.

NOW before you feel terrified for your young adults (and also we aren’t advocating for any unhealthy behaviors, we just don’t want young adults to be naive), here are some GOOD things that happens in college:

  • Going out to eat with classmates so you get to know them better and enjoy class together more.
  • Inviting classmates to study groups at the library (especially those in your major)
  • Joining a healthy fraternity and sorority (not all of those organizations are about partying and wild living, rather some are about service or building their major)
  • Joining the university choir
  • Joining an interest group or club
  • Getting an on-campus job (Caroline worked in the college creamery, Seth worked in events)
  • For more tips on making friends in college, check out this post

Join Vicki, Seth and Caroline Tillman for an empowering discussion. Also check out the college success tips interview with their friend, Kendall Smythe.

Watch one of Seth’s digital classes for his elementary music students (his school was online last fall due to COVID-19).

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO HSHSP VIA COMPUTER

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  4. Click SUBSCRIBE.
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College Safety and Fun for Homeschool Graduates

Advice for Moms of New Homeschool High Schoolers

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Advice for Moms of New Homeschool High Schoolers.

Advice for Moms of New Homeschool High Schoolers. Homeschool moms give tips for high school success. #HomeschoolHighSchool

Advice for Moms of New Homeschool High Schoolers

Know someone who is just starting to homeschool high school? Pass this episode along to them! Sabrina, Vicki and Kym have lots of encouraging tips for success and enjoying the high school years with your teens.

Sabrina, Vicki and Kym are part of the 7SistersHomeschool team. We love to pass along the things we learned in homeschooling our dozens of teens for dozens of years, along with decades of advising and teaching our local homeschool high schoolers in group classes and co-ops. Titus 2 in the Bible tells us that the “older women should help along the younger women” (that’s the 7Sisters version, anyway). So that’s what we are about at 7SistersHomeschool.com and that’s what the Homeschool Highschool Podcast is all about.

So with our love for you all, here is advice for moms of new homeschool high schoolers!

There are so many things we want our new homeschool high school moms to know but here are some things we have learned the hard way or the easy way (from the moms who mentored us).

The first and most important tip we have for you is this: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school!

There are so many teens and they are all unique. There are so many different families and they are unique. We are free to adapt curriculum and goals to fit our teens’ and family’s needs!

There is no place for mom-shaming in homeschooling high school!

So do not allow any too-enthusiastic (or too-judgmental) mom to tell you that you MUST use a certain curriculum or teach a certain way.

There is no such thing as a Pinterest-perfect home or Pinterest-perfect homeschool.

As our friend, Colleen Kessler of  the Raising Lifelong Learners podcast says, “every day you must juggle a lot of balls, so every day you need to wake up and decide which balls you need to drop today.”

There’s no such thing as a Pinterest-perfect homeschool…because there are all these people involved and people are not perfect! Which leads to the next bit of advice:

Have grace for yourself, your teens and your homeschool community.

There will be things that happen that are not so pretty… they may be funny… or sometimes not. Maybe you and yours will get on each other’s last nerve. Maybe your science experiment might almost burn the house down (not that Vicki is mentioning herself or anyone like that…ahem…). Maybe you are all exhausted. That is where grace comes in. Accept God’s grace and give it to each other.

There's no such thing as a Pinterest-perfect homeschool

If you are feeling stressed and start to feel guilty that you are not a good homeschooling high school mom, remember this bit of advice: Motherhood is all about guilt.

It is not awful to feel guilty, it is simply part of motherhood. So turn it over to God and allow his grace and his growth to work in you and yours. (BTW- Have you had a chance to have some fun with different types of homeschooling high school moms? Check out our episode on Heavy Equipment Motherhood.)

So never underestimate the power of a deep breath.

Give yourself permission to stop, breathe, recalibrate. Stress is going to hit. The goal is not about avoiding stress, discomfort and pain as a parent. The road is bumpy. The battle is enormous, but it is SO worth it. It is SOOO worth it.

As Kym says, “Homeschooling high school is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

You have lots of time to learn how to do this homeschool high school thing. Your teens have lots of time to learn it, too. Be good to each other. Understand you might doubt yourself. We all know teens tend to doubt themselves. This is a long project but you all can do it!

Help teens lean into exploring, discovering and developing the plans and callings that God has given them.

Homeschool high school years are the best years for helping teens glimpse God’s mind for them. 

Career Exploration is one of the most important courses for teens.

Teens can explore and discover the ideas God has for them. If teens don’t have a clue about their future, start with this episode. If they have some settled interests, check out this episode. And check out 7Sisters’ Career Exploration Bundle.

Build a meaningful transcript with courses that build interests and skills.

Have your teens learn with textbooks and non-traditional courses. (Don’t forget to document!) Remember, all of life is education!

What courses do your teens need?

We have that here for you in this post.

How do you teach what you don’t know?

You can’t be an expert on everything. We want to help our teens become independent learners, so here are some ideas:

Know the answer to the eternal, infernal question: What about socialization?

First off, let’s be clear about the definition: Socialization means to pass on the values, norms and traditions from one generation to the next. Homeschooling, we believe, is a wonderful format for that! But also, our teens are not hiding out in the basement for four years. Check out this post and this HSHSP episode.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle

Homeschooling high school will change your life and will begin to be a special, unique lifestyle for you. It will affect your entire life rhythm.

How do you choose curriculum?

Check out this post from 7Sisters and this one from our friend, Samantha at Learn In Color. AND:

Last advice:

  • Vicki: You CAN do this!
  • Kym: Enjoy the journey. It will be good. AND pray, first, last and always!
  • Sabrina: You be you!

Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for encouraging advice for moms of new homeschool high schoolers.

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO HSHSP VIA COMPUTER

  1. Follow this link to our iTunes page.
  2. IMPORTANT STEP: Under our Homeschool Highschool Podcast logo, click on View in iTunes
  3. This will take you to iTunes and our own podcast page.
  4. Click SUBSCRIBE.
  5. Click RATINGS AND REVIEW. (Please take a minute and do this. It helps others find us. Thanks!)
  6. Thanks!

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  1. Tap the purple Podcast icon on your phone
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Advice for Moms of New Homeschool High Schoolers

Dealing with Tough Topics in American Literature

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Dealing with Tough Topics in American Literature.

Dealing with Tough Topics in American Literature. How to have uncomfortable discussions.

 

Dealing with Tough Topics in American Literature

American Literature is a staple of high school Language Arts. Teens are at an excellent age to wrestle with some of the difficult concepts and topics that arise through American Lit readings. That is wonderful and tough on moms because sometimes we, ourselves, feel uncomfortable with some of the topics. So how do you deal with these uncomfortable topics?

Sabrina, Vicki and Kym join forces today for a comfortable chat about uncomfortable topics in American Literature.

Things that can be distracting and uncomfortable in literature can actually be enriching when dealt with wisely. (This is timely because, if your teens are aware of the turmoil in the world around them, you can use some of these ideas to start discussions that help them grow and become healthy adults.)

FYI: We are basing our discussion on a post that Sabrina wrote a while back but that homeschool moms have often told us has been helpful to them.

So how do you deal with tough topics in American Literature (and all Lit courses)?

To start with, when teens read something that is uncomfortable to them, most of them find it impossible to ignore. (As adults, we often have developed a skills of ignoring or shelving things that are uncomfortable so that we can go on and enjoy the story.)

Often teens will stop and say things like, “I don’t like that!”, “Why is that in the book?”, “What does that mean?”

As Vicki points out, Sabrina had lots of experience dealing with these questions, with her own teens but especially in our local homeschool group classes. When teens asked pointed questions like those, Sabrina had a way of making space for them, while maintaining a healthy atmosphere. Here are her tips:

Moms, start with acting skills and non-verbals:

  • Say inside your head, “I will not freak out! I will not freak out.”
  • Keep a slight smile on your face.
  • Sit in a relaxed posture.
  • Before you respond, take a deep breath. (Never underestimate the power of a deep breath.)
  • Validate that teen for having the courage for bringing up the question.
    • “I’m glad you were brave enough to bring that up. How did you feel when you read that?”
    • “I’m glad you brought that up, I’m glad you notice you are uncomfortable.”
  • Then, be honest, “To tell the truth, this passage makes me uncomfortable too…” (Do not jump into a lecture here, just allow a pause.)
  • Often, when teens are validated and adults are calm and honest about how they feel, the young people calm down and hostility tends to fade. (Often when teens talk in a hostile way, they are doing do so because they are afraid they will be shut down or criticized for their thoughts or feelings.
    • They will present their discomfort as anger (maybe even anger at you).
    • If you enter into that discomfort with them and say, “I’m really uncomfortable with that too, let’s see what we can learn from it…”, teens will often say, “Oh, she’s on my side. She understands what I’m feeling and thinking.”

Sabrina never rushed into correcting teens for their viewpoints. For us moms, when we are uncomfortable (or want to spare our teens the “pain of thinking incorrectly”, we will rush into “fixing their thoughts or viewpoints”.

Avoid telling teens the right way to think immediately. Unfortunately, if we slip into this, teens will feel unheard and disrespected. Instead, find the common ground of acknowledging the discomfort. This makes room for healthy and productive discussion and growth (maybe for teens and moms alike).

Discussing tough topics? Never underestimate the power of a deep breath.

Next, afford the same respect you and your teens gave each other to the characters in the story

  • Ask, “When this character was faced with this situation, what do you think was going on in his mind? What did he see as his options? Put yourself in his shoes…what are your options?”
  • Then sit quietly and let them think it through. Suggest they imagine being an actor trying to climb into their character.
    • This is very valuable because teens (and many adults) think that things should be a certain way, but when they put themselves into another person’s (character’s) experience, and try to imagine and see what that person went through, it helps them evaluate things from a more gracious perspective.
    • This doesn’t mean that they will (or should) agree with the choices the character makes, but at least, they have climbed into another’s perspective and then learned something about understanding people in context. (This is an important adulting skill!)
  • This ties to literary elements (understanding characters’ motivations, needs, personalities, setting and context), so you are preparing teens for their SAT’s and being better literature studies.
    • It helps teens also ask themselves, “How will this book affect me?”
    • This also helps teens break free from their natural “adolescent egocentrism” (see Human Development).
  • Follow up with, “How would Jesus have handled this character or situation?” “What would Jesus do or not do?” “How would He respond?” (Avoid preaching or cheesiness, help them think of the character/personality of Jesus.)
  • Remember, asking teens what they think and why rather than jumping in quickly to tell them what to think, will lead to growth for them. Often, after talking for a while, teens will look at you and ask what YOU think.
  • Teach teens to read with their brain and their spirit turned on!
    • If teens just answer, “I don’t know…”, start with comprehension (what was happening, why, what changed), then have them perspective take.

Teach teens to read with their brain and their spirit turned on!

Then teach teens to apply this skill to real life

Teach them to sit before responding, relax and breathe and look for opportunities for perspective taking.

Kym has some wise advice:

There are a lot of things that are going on around us now that– regardless of our perspective on things–it can be really hard to learn to just be uncomfortable. And yet, sometimes, that’s where that’s where our greatest learning it. Even if all we’re doing is learning that somebody else that I know deals with discomfort even more that I do…They’ve had to learn to do this all the time. It’s a big, powerful lesson.

Like Sabrina’s teaching ideas? You’ll find her kinds of questions and literary themes in American Literature Study Guides.

What makes 7Sisters Literature Study guides unique? They concentrate on growth in inferential skills while learning critical thinking skills, in a no-busywork and friendly format.

Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for a comfortably uncomfortable discussion on dealing with tough topics in American Literature.

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO HSHSP VIA COMPUTER

  1. Follow this link to our iTunes page.
  2. IMPORTANT STEP: Under our Homeschool Highschool Podcast logo, click on View in iTunes
  3. This will take you to iTunes and our own podcast page.
  4. Click SUBSCRIBE.
  5. Click RATINGS AND REVIEW. (Please take a minute and do this. It helps others find us. Thanks!)
  6. Thanks!

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*

Dealing with Tough Topics in American Literature