Getting Teens Interested in Writing

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

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

Getting Teens Interested in Writing

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

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

Wouldn’t that be cool?

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

How To Get Your Teens Interested In Writing

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

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

Start With A Growth Mindset

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

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

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

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

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

Make Assignments Short and Simple

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

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

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

Use Dictation Abilities

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

You can:

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

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

Try a progressive story for fun and inspiration

Write Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more inspiration on writing:

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

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Handling Homeschool Fears, Interview with Homeschool Super Freak

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

Handling Homeschool Fears, Interview with Homeschool Super Freak

Handling Homeschool Fears, Interview with Homeschool Super Freak

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

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

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

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

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

Handling homeschool fears

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

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

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

Check out your state homeschool laws

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

Do not worry if you have qualifications to teach

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

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

Do not worry about failing

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

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

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

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

It will take ALL our time

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

(Check your state laws for attendance requirements.)

You can homeschool on your family rhythms

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

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

Relax into the learning

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

Plan together

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

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

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

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

Remember, you will never cover everything

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

Don’t forget life skills

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

  • Paying bills
  • Doing chores
  • Managing themselves

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

You can find Jacqueline Wilson at:

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

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Resources for Learning Spanish, Interview with Karim Morato

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

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

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

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

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

Homeschooling in the Hispanic community is really growing these days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting a loving and diverse community is as simple as:

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

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

Making connections helps teens learn.

Resources for learning Spanish

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karim’s resources for learning Spanish

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

Also find Karim on:

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

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Tips for Homeschooling High School, Interview with Natalie Mack

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

Tips for Homeschooling High School, Interview with Natalie Mack

Tips for Homeschooling High School, Interview with Natalie Mack

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice from Natalie about homeschooling high school:

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

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

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

Trust the process

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

Take time to enjoy your teens.

Take time to enjoy your teens

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

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

There will be bad days when no schooling gets done

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

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

Join a support group

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

Remember lots of prayer

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

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

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

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Homeschooling Teens with Autism, Interview with Penny Rogers

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Homeschooling Teens with Autism, Interview with Penny Rogers.

Homeschooling Teens with Autism, Interview with Penny Rogers

Homeschooling Teens with Autism, Interview with Penny Rogers

Vicki was so excited for this episode. She has been a long time that she has been trying to connect with Penny Rogers, who is another of our friends from our beloved 2:1 Conference. Penny is an autism advocate, speaker, resource expert and founder of the popular website Our Crazy Adventures in Autism Land.

Penny lives with her husband and two children in southern Arizona (just twenty minutes from the Mexican border). She has been homeschooling for many, many years. Her son, Logan (who has autism), and her daughter have both graduated from homeschooling. However, Penny has been homeschooling her nieces and nephews for years and has graduated one of them. She has years ahead of her since the younger ones are in middle school and elementary school. SO, Penny knows homeschooling…and she knows homeschooling teens with autism.

Logan went to school through second grade. During that year, Penny’s husband looked at her one evening and said, “you are spending so much time making sure the school is adhering to Logan’s IEP! You might as well bring him home and teach him yourself. It will make your life easier!”

Penny thought about it and agreed. So, at the end of second grade, she brought him home for homeschooling. He education for the first two years of homeschooling mostly involved therapies and getting to know each other in the new format. By the time Penny’s daughter started kindergarten, he was ready for more rigorous academics. He truly blossomed academically from then through graduation.

Here is advice that Penny gives families who are homeschooling teens with autism

Penny is frequently giving advice for handling homeschooling and autism through personal interactions, speaking and her website. Here are some things she shares:

If you are bringing your child or teen home from traditional school, give them a year to “de-school”

Kids or teens with autism often have many bad episodic memories about school. It takes time for them to learn that homeschooling is not traumatic like traditional school can be. So relax and help them learn about themselves and have positive experiences for a while.

Find out their developmental age

Many young people with autism might be adolescents by age but developmentally much younger.

Discover their academic level

Many children with special needs have academic and ability gaps. In Logan’s case, he needed time to catch up. Therefore, when his sister started homeschooling kindergarten, Logan did kindergarten with her. However, as the gaps were filled, he soon jumped ahead academically. Remember: Work at their level!

Help them discover that you have something to teach him that he wants to know

Sometimes teens with autism have rigid thinking. When they started homeschooling, Penny’s son was concerned that his mother was not a “teacher”, so she couldn’t homeschool him. Over time their deschooling time, Penny helped him learn that she had something to offer, even if she was not a “real teacher”. Some of the educational activities they did in order for him to learn that she indeed, had something to offer.

Here are some of their educational activities:

  • Cooking together
  • Going for walks and sharing about nature topics
  • Playing games

This is called the “Master/Apprentice” model of education. Penny learned this when she got training in Relationship Intervention Therapy to help her son.

Remember you can think out of the box for courses and credits for your special needs teen.

In adolescence, be mindful of the mismatch between the teen’s developmental age and their physiological changes

Because their bodies are changing, you need to be able to talk to your teens about what they are experiencing. However, you do this little at a time (Penny calls this “scaffolding”.)

Practice patience, patience, patience

Adolescence is difficult for most teens. However, teens with autism tend to need even more support because they will sometime struggle with challenging experiences such as:

  • Challenges with mood management (along with occasional aggression)
  • Feeling like they have no friends

Remember: Behavior is communication

If a teen becomes aggressive, they are trying to communicate something. (They may be in pain or feeling frustrated.) So if your teen has behavior issues, look for the triggers.

Remember: Relationship trumps academics. - Penny Rogers

Also, keep in mind: Relationship trumps academics

Penny’s relationship is more important than a frustrating academic moment. If things get tense, put the books away for now and concentrate on the relationship. Because, in the end, your teen will graduate from homeschooling high school. When they graduate you will want to still have a positive relationship with them.

(This reminds Vicki of our friend, Melanie Wilson of Homeschool Sanity Podcast’s saying: Relationship over rules!)

How to keep the positive relationship going while homeschooling teens with autism

On tough days practice: “Autism Rising Day”. It is a code word for “my teen is having a tough day”. On those days, text or let the family know that it is an Autism Rising Day. This means put away the books and concentrate on figuring out what is going on to stress your teen with autism.

Be willing to push them out of their comfort zone but always bring them back

Stretching their ability to try new things or handling stress is an important life skill. However, give them time to rest and compensate for the stress after the stressor.

Tailor high school to their goals for after high school

Talk gently about goals with your teen. Gradually work on exploring and defining those goals. Then build their curriculum and credits to develop those goals. For instance, Penny’s son was interested in herpetology. Therefore they developed courses to explore those interests, as well as finding courses that generally built scaffolding for those interest (all the Sciences and Maths, which he loved).

Penny developed an “Autism Action Plan” to help teens learn to set and develop goals. This plan helps teens set a:

  • Ten-year goal
  • Five-year goal
  • and One -year goal

You can find the Autism Action Plan on her website.

Use tools and compensations for their high school courses

For instance:

  • Penny’s son is a visual learner, so he enjoyed watching some of his classes online
  • They used Google Doc’s speech to text for writing papers

Are you preparing to homeschool a teen with autism?

Penny is a consultant who has worked with many families with autism. She works to help families go through their own autism land with encouragement, hope and frugality.

  • She helps with therapies
  • Not only that, she helps manage the financial challenges of helping teens with autism

Also check out her Special Needs Homeschooling Facebook group.

Join Vicki and Penny for an encouraging chat about homeschooling teens with autism.

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Homeschooling Over the Summer

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Homeschooling Over the Summer.

Homeschooling Over the Summer

Homeschooling Over the Summer

All of life is education! Even during summer break homeschooling can happen. In this episode Sabrina and Kym share ways to catch up or work ahead while still having summer. (BTW- Kym and her family raise Seeing Eye puppies, so you hear from her latest charge, Finley, here and there during the recording.)

First off, should you do official classes during the summer? Why or why not?

There are some homeschoolers who intentionally homeschool year round (for instance, our friend Misty at Year Round Homeschooling). On the other hand, there are those of us who plan on a nine or ten month school year but might need to consider something special during the summer.

  • For instance, perhaps you unexpectedly had a family illness or other life happening and the homeschool high schoolers could not finish a course during the school year.
  • Or perhaps, there is a special topic teens would like to explore but never have time during the regular academic year
  • Then, sometimes, you know the family will have a challenging year next year, so your teens might want to get a jump on the upcoming year

Life has LOTS of different circumstances and teens have lots of different interests and goals. SO remember: there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school…or the schedule academics.

Therefore, here are some suggestions for possible homeschooling over the summer

Sabrina and Kym have been there, done that on all kinds of ways to handle homeschooling high school over the summer. Here’s what they have learned:

You should avoid the “shoulds”

Shame does not belong in healthy homeschools.  Remember: You are where you are because that’s where you are.

So avoid the guilt trips such as:

  • Oh man, I should have done…
  • I can’t let go of feeling bad about what we didn’t do

These don’t help anybody! Instead, think about doing some homeschooling over the summer. It’s okay.

Let’s weigh the pros and cons of homeschooling over the summer

Summer can be a time to recalibrate or get a jump on next year. However, you want to think it through.

Pros:

  • You can work with your teen to create a light academic load that helps them catch up.
  • The family might be able to help the teens catch up on some courses with group activities like:
  • You and your teens can think out-of-the-box and creatively
    • Do schoolwork with several other teens who need to catch up
    • Have a cabin trip to change location to do some coursework

Cons:

  • You all need a break so no one burns out
    • So make sure there are weeks off where there are NO academics happening! (Even if the schoolwork does not get finished.)

Advice for summer academic plans

Talk it over with your teens, so that you get their buy-in

  • Work together for the academic plans and how-to earn the credits
  • Discuss the schedule together
  • Collaboration is key!

Be realistic

  • If you teen is resistant or tired, do you have to ease up and lower your expectations?
  • Or if there is chronic illness or a family stressor going on, do you need to accept that not everything can get done?

Be kind

  • To yourself and your teen
  • Don’t compare yourself to other homeschooling families

Have some fun and some relaxation, no matter what!

Remember that you are not in this homeschooling business alone. Here are some tools to help you get connected and feel encouraged.

Why not join the 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group

  • You can ask questions and get support from all your 7th Siblings there. (Did you know there are six of us 7Sisters? Sabrina, Kym, Vicki, Allison, Marilyn, Sara. So, who is the 7th Sister? YOU are!)

Also download this how-to guide to help you when your homeschool is behind: Help! We Are Drowning! What to do When You’re Way Behind

You’ve got this!

Join Sabrina, Kym and Finley the dog for encouragement for homeschooling over the summer! (For more on homeschooling high school over the summer, check out this interview with Anita Gibson.)

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Creative Language Arts for Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Creative Language Arts for Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco.

Creative Language Arts for Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco

Creative Language Arts for Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco

Teens can have fun with ELA. Why not let your homeschool high schoolers be inspired, not tired by their English/Language Arts? That’s why we invited our friend, Julie Polanco, to talk about the creative things her teens are doing!

Julie Polanco is the mother of four but her youngest is now a sophomore homeschool high schooler and the next youngest will be a senior in the fall! It is so exciting to see the two older graduated and doing their next things in life. Since she has fewer demands on her time, Julie decided to go back to college and work on a doctorate in Chinese medicine!

One reason Julie has a bit of time on her hands is that her high schooler is one of those teens who has educational ideas of her own. One of her daughter’s ideas is that she wants to invest in creativity for her Language Arts credits.

Creative Language Arts

Julie is used to thinking creatively about credits. Her older three kids had different special needs. Unfortunately, she could not find curricula that met her teens’ writing needs. Thus, she created Blogging 101 for them and has shared it online. Blogging helps teens learn practical technical skills with shorter, meaningful writing assignments. Blogging helps teens find purpose in their writing assignments (and a life skill).

BTW- Her oldest son developed love (and skills) for writing his blogs, so much so, that he has even been published on Medium.

Other things she has done with her teens include:

NaNoWriMo

Julie’s older daughter has ADHD. Boring writing assignments did not suit her attentional challenges well. However, she loved creative writing. Therefore, Julie got her involves with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Her daughter worked hard for that month and churned out her own novella, start to finish, as the writing portion of her Language Arts. It was great for her to see that she could set a goal and accomplish it! Then, she even had her novella self-published.

Julie helped her daughter by checking on the daily word count and the basic concept of story writing (characters, setting, plotline). She also was available when her daughter got to moments when she felt stuck- helping her brainstorm next steps.

Her family also have hosted a book club. For her teens’ book club, Julie and the teens selected classics from a variety of genres, such as:

  • Mysteries
  • Sci-Fi
  • Jane Austen (of course)

This was fun for her teens because they could discuss the things they were reading. Along with the book reading, the club also had meaningful writing assignments such as:

  • Book reviews
  • Writing a new ending for the book

They also completed Literature Study Guides for some of the books they read in the club. Julie led the discussion part of the group. (Click here for some good book discussion questions.)

Movies as the basis for Literature

Julie’s teens studied Shakespeare by watching movie versions of several of his plays. Literature study guides helped them dive into the depth and meaning of Shakespeare’s plays. (7Sisters’ Literature Study Guide for Much Ado about Nothing is a good example.)

In fact, they did a number of cinema for literature. One of their favorite discussion questions was: Where did the movie differ from the book?

For reading, they often used audiobooks (sometimes listening and reading along or just listening). (However, one thing Julie’s teens noticed when reading along, was that sometimes the audio versions of books did not quite match the print version.)

For more ideas on movies as Literature:

Blogging 101

Julie runs Milkweed School.JulieNaturally.com. Julie’s popular one-semester beginner Blogging 101 class teaches teens how to set up a blogging website. She then teaches different kinds of blog posts and how to write them, including:

  • How to posts
  • Personal story posts
  • Review posts
  • PLUS the nuts and bolts of behind the scenes to run a blog.

Once they complete the course, they know the basics of writing blogs as well as owning their own website! They also have practical writing skills they can use the rest of their lives.

Julie can be found at:

Join Vicki and Julie for an inspiring discussion on creative Language Arts credits.

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How to Get Teens Interested in History

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Get Teens Interested in History.

How to Get Teens Interested in History

How to Get Teens Interested in History

It is not unusual for teens to feel like History is a dull and boring subject. After all, it is difficult for textbooks to be fun to read! However, when you homeschool high school, textbooks are not the only choice for earning those necessary History credits!

Vicki shares the some ways to get teens’ buy-in and interest on their History credits in this episode. In her work with her own teens, co-ops and homeschool umbrella school group classes, she has found several ways to make History more meaningful and interesting!

How Vicki’s teens found interesting History studies

One of Vicki’s teens was really interested in History. He did not love History textbooks but he would use them as a jumping-off place for his own independent studies. He could read a bit of the text until he found something that sparked his curiosity, then he would jump off the text and find his own books and websites to explore.

Several of her teens liked to work from a syllabus. They could take the topics on a syllabus (or the table of contents in a textbook), then read real books on those topics.

Some of the ways to “sparkle up” a History credit

There are lots of ways to add interest to History topics. Here are a few:

Go on field trips

Homeschoolers never outgrow field trips! The nice thing about History field trips is that you can often take the entire family! Some History field trips we have enjoyed include:

  • National and State Historical Sites
    • These can be moving experiences. When teens see actual battlefields or places where momentous occasions happened, they learn and remember.
  • Local history interpretive centers
    • These can be especially helpful in learning local history and culture. Not only that but they often learn about actual events that happened locally.

Going on field trips helps teens learn that history is a real thing: real people who did real things!

Don’t forget that co-op field trips count. Log those hours! Use them for a Carnegie Unit History credit or leveling up to Honors for the homeschool transcript!

Watch documentaries and movies

Watch history-based movies and documentaries on the topic.

Movies are helpful because narrative helps an event come to life. Teens learn perspective taking and get more of the “feel” of an event or era. However, it is wise to do some critical thinking along with the movie. We suggest:

  • Having discussions about what was accurate or not in the movie
  • Practice some fact checking with reliable sources

Documentaries are nice because they present information in a visual format, often interestingly written.

Remember to log those hours! Use them for a Carnegie Unit History credit or leveling up to Honors for the homeschool transcript.

Give them books to read

They can count books for History credits can be also counted for their book list in English/Language Arts.

  • Biographies
  • Historical Fiction
  • Nonfiction

Here is a post on favorite American History books.

Learn family history together

Get the family together and tell the stories about family members from the past. Any little snippet of information is helpful. Family stories give History context and makes it come to life! Not only that, but family stories help teens understand their own roots. (They can also be used as the basis for a fun Family Narrative Short Story for English/Language Arts class.)

Let teens do some creative writing or research-paper writing

Teens can write a Family Narrative Short Story or come up with their own historical fiction story. They can use this as History hours as well as logged hours towards a Carnegie Unit History credit or leveling up to Honors for the homeschool transcript.

On the other hand, they might be more interested in writing their annual research paper on a History topic (that way they get credit for both ELA and History). They could choose a topic that has caught their interest and write an:

Don’t forget to log those hours! Use them for a Carnegie Unit History credit or leveling up to Honors for the homeschool transcript!

Study current events in context of the History

Why do people today feel the way they do? What influences people today that is rooted in the past? Do some google searches on the historical context of current events. Remember to stick to reliable sources!

Find an interesting textbook

This is a favorite (because our teens said so): History and Philosophy of the Western World. It teaches the history of the Western World through the philosophers who influenced the cultures of each time period. It may sound boring but it is actually a light-hearted text that helps teens learn to think philosophically while they learn history.  You can also get a free suggested syllabus for the text. Not only that but there are rubrics to help you grade your teens’ History and Philosophy of the Western World.

For more ideas, check out this post on five ways to earn American History credits.

Learning History can be inspiring and interesting! Join Vicki for an informative chat.

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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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