Why is Junior Year SO Important for High Schoolers? Special Replay

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Why is Junior Year SO Important for High Schoolers? Special Replay! This is a special replay of a classic episode.

Why is Junior Year SO Important for High Schoolers?

Why is Junior Year SO Important for High Schoolers?

Junior year is a VERY important year for homeschool high schoolers. Whether they are college bound or career bound, there are some important goals for junior year.

Remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. However, homeschooling parents must face the fact their teens face a pivotal year in 11th grade. A big year. A really big year.

Stressed already?

  • Take a couple of deep breaths
  • Pray!

Okay, let us calmly explain why junior year is such a big deal for non-college-bound teens and college-bound teens. 😉

Non-college-bound teens

During 9th and 10th grade high schoolers tend to work on discovering their strengths and weaknesses and defining some interests. By junior year, career-bound teens need to:

  • Develop those strengths and start exploring the skills needed to move into a career
  • Catch up the subjects that are behind
  • Build solid life skills and preparation (including necessary networking skills)

If they are caught up as well as life and career aware, career-bound homeschool high schoolers will have senior year mostly free for serious apprenticeships or internships so they graduate ready to work in a skilled area.

If your 11th grader is not sure about career choices, look at a good Career Exploration curriculum and see if you can arrange some shadowing experiences.

For subjects teens are straggling:

College-bound teens

Junior year is the FINAL year that college admissions advisors will view as completed on the high school transcript. When teens apply to college they will only be able to show what they are studying. This is the year that everything than needs to look powerful, looks powerful.

  • Begin college search discussions
    • What are teens and parents both expecting and willing to contribute financially
    • What types of colleges will meet your teens academic, financial, career-goal needs as well as healthy-atmosphere needs
    • Check out this post for college search help
  • Make sure enough Career Exploration has been done if teens need help choosing college major
    • If you need help, choosing college majors with your teens, contact Vicki at VickiTillmanCoaching.com and/or visit 7SistersHomeschool.com for Career Exploration courses.
  • Set expectations that your teens will work hard during junior year
    • Tell teens: Wear yourself out academically and get enough sparkle on the transcript (leveling up and sparkle courses)
  • Build the extracurriculars, service and competitions
  • Check on life skills
  • Have enough off-the-clock fun and rest to stay healthy and avoid burnout

At the end of the year, teens should be tired (but not burned out)!

Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for a big episode, a really big episode…well, anyway, join us for fun and encouragement! Also, check out these posts.


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Why is Junior Year SO Important for High Schoolers?

Helping Teens Handle Winter Blues

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Helping Teens Handle Winter Blues.

Helping Teens Handle Winter Blues

Helping Teens Handle Winter Blues

Many folks do not like winter. That is okay. However, at times the not-like-winter actually becomes more than that. It becomes winter blues.

The official name for Winter blues is “seasonal affective disorder.” But sometimes it is not a full disorder, it’s just a “who likes winter?” mindset.

The winter is cold and the days are short. The sky is gray most of the time and seems to just hover six inches above our heads (especially in the mid-Atlantic, where we live). 

Closed in and gray. That makes it hard to have the energy to do your best at homeschooling. With that in mind, here are some ideas for you from real life experiences and trainings I have had as a mental health counselor. In my career, I have worked with number of homeschool families and clients who have the winter blues. (It is probably more common than you think.)

What Are The Winter Blues?

Have you noticed that you and or your teens are feeling kind of down? Where your body feels lethargic, like you have to almost carry yourself around or drag yourself from place to place? It would be easy to just sit on the couch and watch YouTubes all day long.

Teenagers may feel like hibernating. That is, they might want to just sleep all day long. Unfortunately this messes up their biorhythms. Then they stay awake later and later into the night. And that just becomes this vicious cycle of everything being off rhythm…which actually adds to that lethargic and winter blues feeling.

Many people will also experience carb cravings. As if your body is saying, I need ice cream and chips all day long. I need it. I need it. However, what your body (or your teen’s body) is trying to say is that it is running low on serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is in charge of much of our energy, concentration and our good moods.

Our serotonin will often dip during the wintertime. That is related in part to a lack of vitamin D because there is not enough sunshine for the lifestyles that we live. Therefore, we have to do some things to help our serotonin along.

Here are some things we can do for helping teens handle winter blues (and anyone else, for that matter). 

Ways To Beat The Winter Blues

There are several ways to help make the winter blues get better.

Get Full Spectrum Lamp or Light Bulbs

The first thing is really practical, yet easy to miss. Get a full spectrum lamp or a few full spectrum light bulbs. Put them in any lamp that is sitting around the house. 

These are lights that have all of the light rays except for the dangerous ones. It is not the kind that gives you a sunburn, but you are getting a mimicking of sunlight from this light bulb.

If you get one of these lamps or light bulbs in one of the family lamps and put it within three or four feet of your teen while leaving it on for about fifteen minutes as they do their schoolwork, on most days, they will usually start feeling a bit better after a while.

However some teens don’t like that much intensity of light around them. In this case, just stick the light in a corner of a room and leave it on for about an hour during the day. You will be able to get enough light  to raise energy levels. This helps with focus and with those carb cravings. 

God made light to be a therapeutic thing for us, and when we can’t have it from His natural sun, get these fancy little lights that don’t cost all that much from the hardware store or the grocery store or simply order one. 

Take Walks

Another thing you can do for helping teens handle winter blues is to take a walk. Even though it is cold outside in the wintertime, if you can get outside and move your bodies you’ll be able to walk off daily stress hormones that burn off stress which increases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. 

Dopamine can work together with serotonin with the full spectrum light to significantly improve mood and specific direct focus on the things teens need to pay attention to. 

But sometimes you just aren’t able to get outside and go for that walk. When that happens, find YouTube videos with exercise. In fact, 7 Sisters has a fitness curriculum with exercise videos, taking kids through safe and healthy physical activity. It doesn’t particularly matter what the movement is; it just needs to be some form of movement. 

However, according to the research at the University of California, if you go outside and have trees around you, simply seeing the trees will increase some of the neural activity that improves mood. A bare tree in the wintertime is somehow good for mood. 

Eat Healthy Food

Another thing for helping teens handle winter blues is eating healthy food. Healthy foods mean good proteins, colorful fruits and vegetables because good protein and colorful food have micronutrients that work together to literally make those neurotransmitters work. 

Teens are short on these micronutrients, which are like the Legos you snap together to make a neurotransmitter. And the most important one is serotonin. 

And teens learn about this in a 7 Sisters homeschool health curriculum because we want them to know they are not just eating healthy food because mom said so. There is really a neurological reason to eat healthy foods besides all the obvious health benefits of it.

Monitor Sleep Patterns

Monitoring and watching sleep patterns can be difficult because it becomes an active will sort of activity. A lot of times, teenagers in the wintertime want to sleep and sleep and then sleep some more. And, true, teenagers do need a lot of sleep, and they probably need a little extra sleep in the wintertime. 

But more than 10 hours is going to overdose them with melatonin, which is the hormone that keeps them asleep while they’re sleeping. This will cause them to feel groggy which can lead to depressive kinds of feelings. Literally, over 10 hours becomes toxic. 

Somehow, you have to work out a deal with your teen that 10 hours is the max. They can sleep in every once in a while, like once a week perhaps, because they’re teenagers, and they deserve to sleep in one day. They shouldn’t go under seven hours very often, but ten hours should be the max.

If they mix up their day and night schedule, you can help them slowly get back to normal so that they are sleeping during the night and awake while the sun is up.  

Have them up and awake in the hours when the sun is up, which is really just the way the body needs things to happen because it does its healing hormones while they sleep and does it best in the dark. And similarly, they have other things their body needs to do while they’re awake

Get Them Laughing

One of the best things you can do is to get your teen laughing. To feel better, everybody needs some laughter in their lives. We know from scripture that a Mary heart does good like a medicine, and it really does. 

Research shows when we laugh, our body releases endorphins and oxytocins that improve mood, but are actually good for our immune system. Isn’t that wild? 

This means if you haven’t had a chance to laugh together, find something funny like movies or Netflix or YouTube videos or things you know will get good giggles out of each day. 

You will find laughter is healthy for the body and soul, and a family that laughs together likes life better together.

Do Fun Stuff For School

Grab the curriculum that is boring you to tears and set it aside. Then take two weeks off that curriculum and, in its place, do fun things that count as school. 

You can read a silly book like JIS and Wooster and do a study guide for it or even do some cinema study guides for literature learning. You can count those as books instead of the usual books and field and study guides. 

Just mix things up or go on some unusual field trips, like a museum you haven’t been to in years or go drive to a different indoor state park or national park if there’s one nearby. 

Changing the boring things up will cause a change in rhythm and when you get back to the rhythms, it is actually very healthy for the brain. It helps the brain to calibrate, reduces anxiety, and helps them feel better. So change things up on the academics and in the experiences for helping teens handle winter blues.

Helping Teens Handle Winter Blues

What are some ideas or ways to beat the winter blues that you found? Are there some fun things that you do to mix things up and make it fun? We would love to hear about it, so send us an email or throw something out in the 7 Sisters Homeschool Facebook group because we all learn together. You matter and we all appreciate you being there.

Join Vicki for some helpful tips on handling winter blues.

Thank you to Richie Soares with Homeschool and Humor for writing this blog post!


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We Don’t Mom-Shame at Homeschool Highschool Podcast- Special Replay

This week on HSHSP: We Don’t Mom-Shame at Homeschool Highschool Podcast- Special Replay. This is a replay of a classic episode.

We Don't Mom-Shame at Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Special Replay

We Don’t Mom-Shame at Homeschool Highschool Podcast

Join Vicki and Sabrina, together in the same room for this week’s episode! It’s been a while since they have found the time to get together, what with Sabrina traveling so much. Hey, if you need an inspiring speaker with a gripping story, contact her.

In this episode of Homeschool Highschool Podcast, we are talking about *mom-shaming*. In short: we don’t mom-shame!

Mom-shaming is easy to fall into: When life isn’t working out how we want it to, it is easy to project our frustrations onto other (whether we know we are doing it or not). Then we begin to judge. Next we begin to correct others (whether they asked for it or not). Then we begin to fix others (whether they asked for it or not). That’s mom-shaming.

Mom-shaming is especially easy when we are on social media, because the barriers to slow us down are so low. That’s sad because when we mom-shame, we create a culture of fear.

We don’t mom-shame at 7Sisters or here on HSHSP.

Motherhood is all about guilt, so it is easy to feel guilty without our friends’s help.

We don’t mom-shame! With age we 7Sisters have learned a thing or two about grace and patience over the years (whether we asked God to teach us that or not). All our homeschoolers have graduated and we found that they all have different:

  • Personalities
  • Needs
  • Abilities
  • Interests

We could tailor their academics and extracurriculars into a box that some friend, some speaker or some publisher says we should use.

But tailoring our many kinds of kids into another person’s box is a destructive strategy.

Instead, we recommend that you look at each child. Ask yourself:

  • What can you invest in them?
  • What tools can you give them individually?

Then boldly begin to invest in your homeschoolers the best that you can, knowing that you will be good enough by God’s grace…but that you will need His grace.

boldly begin to invest in your homeschoolers the best that you can, knowing that you will be good enough by God's grace...but that you will need His grace.

In the early days of homeschooling, there were a few big voices (opinionated thought leaders who sometimes said that homeschooling needed to happen THEIR way). Now that we have the internet, there are not just a few big voices. Rather, there are many voices and a some of them will say THIS is the way to homeschool. They sometimes imply the ominous: If you don’t homeschool OUR way, you are dooming your kids!

The real truth is: Our kids and our families are on a journey of growth and discovery. Each journey is different. We need to be sensitive to the needs of each of our homeschoolers. That’s why we don’t mom-shame.

Remember: We invest in our kids the best we can but God is in charge of the outcomes. (Thanks to our friends, The Fletchers at Homeschooling in Real Life, for that quote.)

So, want our advice?

  • Motherhood is all about guilt.

    • We will never do good enough in our own eyes. We can do the best we can.
    • The needs are infinite and we are finite, so we must daily go to HIM on how to handle things.
    • Sometimes this looks like a programmatic curriculum or philosophy, sometimes it doesn’t.
  • While each of us are individuals, we are also in need of community.

    • We can be good sisters in community.
    • When we feel the need to fix someone, pray first, ask a question…privately.
    • A kind question, not a leading question, not a point-out-your-problems question
    • If done in public, questioning is unkind and invites little but defensiveness.
    • Ask yourself: What is my intent?
    • Are you guided by humilty (beware of pride or fear on your part)?
    • Look to be a sister, a support, do not fix your sister.
  • Model this for your kids.

    • With curriculum: You kid-shame if you have feel you “have to do it this way, kids, suck it up and just do it.”
    • That could lead to shaping character that is harsh and rigid and teaching them to feel helpless and frustrated.
    • If they are writing a paper with seven tabs open that do not have anything to do with. If they are clearly doing something wrong, it is a parent’s job to point that out.
    • If they are struggling or bored, try something like this: “I see you are not liking Chemistry. What is not working for you?”
    • Ask questions that show you care, you are curious about what is working and what is not.

This is why 7SistersHomeschool.com’s curriculum exists. It is adaptable, no-busywork to fit many homeschoolers’ needs. However, we know that it will not fit everyone because there’s not ONE right way to do homeschooling! (So, we have a money-back guarantee.) To help adapt curriculum to needs: In each text or literature/writing guide, there are instructions on how to adapt to various goals and abilities. Also check out the syllabus available for many of the texts.

We want you to feel more confident as you grow in God’s work in you and your homeschoolers.

Check us out at 7SistersHomeschool.com

Join Vicki and Sabrina for encouragement and support and NO mom-shaming!


  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!


  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*
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We don’t mom-shame at Homeschool Highschool Podcast

How to Get Started Starting Things, Interview with Natalie Mack

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How Get Started Starting Things, Interview with Natalie Mack.

How to Get Started Starting Things, Interview with Natalie Mack

How Get Started Starting Things, Interview with Natalie Mack

We have our friend, Natalie Mack, with us today to discuss starting things. Natalie is a mom of homeschool high schoolers (and graduates), a military spouse, author, speaker and consultant to the military homeschool community for HSLDA. You already know her from previous interviews such as Tips for Homeschooling High School.

One of the things that homeschoolers seem to do a lot is: starting things! And Natalie understands that sometimes you just start things because your kids need it to happen. A few of the things Natalie has started in her community include:

National Beta Club,

About Natalie Mack

To start, Natalie usually has to sit on her hands to keep herself from starting another project. However, because her teens have had so many interests AND because there were not ready opportunities for them to get involved with those interests, Natalie has had to start a number of new activities for her area.

When you want to get started with starting an organization, simply contact them, tell your story, ask what needs to happen in order to start a branch or local group. That is what Natalie has done over and over. Her teens and others in the community have been truly blessed.

In no particular order, let’s talk about the things she has started for her homeschool high schoolers and homeschool community! 

Congressional Award

As a military spouse, Natalie’s teens have volunteered a lot. Her family has always been a family of service – specifically, military service. But separate from that service in their military communities, they have given back, a charitable service very important to them as a family.

Having said that, Natalie realized years ago in her military spouse service that there was something called the Presidential Service Right Award. She was being asked to give her hours so that they could be calculated, so she looked into it, and by doing so, she found the Congressional Award.

She started the Congressional Award for the volunteers of her support group, Ft. Belvoir Home Educators. She wanted them to be able to get credit for their services, along with anyone over the age of thirteen to get credit for their volunteer work. At first, Natalie thought no one would respond to the Congressional Award when she promoted it on social media channels. But she did get responses and people came out of the woodworks to volunteer.

Natalie saw this opportunity and did not keep it to herself. She shared it on social media and that is all it took to give other people the confidence to jump in on the process.

National Beta Club

Next on Natalie’s to “done” list is the National Beta Club, a club for homeschoolers. It started in 1934 in Spartanburg, South Carolina and has lasted over eighty years so far. 

Many famous people have been a part of the National Beta Club, such as Kevin Duran and President Clinton to name a few. It currently has 445,000 active members and 9,600 clubs nationally and internationally.

So what is the National Beta Club, exactly? Beta has four principles that they seek:

  • Achievement
  • Character
  • Leadership
  • Service

They recognize and honor “Achievement,” which means students can compete in their state and national conventions to take tests in academic subject areas.This helps pre prepare young people for life and empowers them to be successful. 

Beta club chapters have presidents and offices that the students serve. They present leadership skills and make speeches for their peers to choose who should serve in office. It is leadership developing the leaders of tomorrow, which is what the Beta club focuses on primarily. 

The Beta club has done charity work in homeless shelters, where a representative will go and speak to the people there. This is one way for the kids of the club to know about those who are less fortunate and teach them how important it is that everyone is all in this together. 

This Club was the only homeschool club available in their area in the Washington, DC area. There are two different ones depending on age, beginning with a Junior Beta from 4th grade to 8th grade and then a Senior Beta from 9th grade to 12th grade, and they had both clubs. 

Natalie got involved with the Beta Club when she heard they opened the doors to homeschoolers. She felt God was tapping her on my shoulder to join. And so she did!

Homeschool Moms: If our teens need it, we can start it!

A few of the other leadership opportunities and services Natalie’s teens have been a part of are:

  • The Fairfax County Watershed Cleanup
  • A military organization called Blue Star Organization

They also partner with Starbucks to put yellow ribbons on Christmas trees in the Starbucks so people can acknowledge the military service and give thanks to them. 

Toastmasters Youth Leadership Group

Natalie loves public speaking, even though she’s never received official training. And Toastmasters Youth Leadership Group is a program that enables young people under the age of 18 to develop their communication and leadership skills through practical experience.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, the organization’s membership is approximately 280,000 in more than 14,700 clubs in 144 countries.

Natalie had an opportunity for her and the kids to participate in a Youth Leadership Group (YLP) for Toastmasters. The YLP has a training they recommend students go through first in order to set up a Toastmasters Youth Leadership program. 

Once they went through the training, the kids absolutely loved it, so when they moved to Northern Virginia, Natalie started the YLP again. 


Natalie has always been fascinated with 4-H. One thing she appreciates is that 4-H to no longer just agriculture. It is an organization with so many opportunities now, more than just about farm animals. They have summer camps and several leadership opportunities. 

Homeschooling brings to so many opportunities, such as Toastmaster or 4-H, and it allows kids to discover and use their passions and interests. Teens are able to take those passions and interests and put them into established programs or even start a club, much like Natalie did.

Homeschooling gives kids the opportunities to shine.

To all the homeschool moms out there who want to start a club: 

Be confident that you can do it. If you have an idea for your teen, there are likely one or two other moms who have that same eagerness too. The beauty is in coming together and making it happen together.

Join Vicki and Natalie for some ideas about getting things started.

Thank you to Richie Soares with Homeschool and Humor for writing this blog post!

How Get Started Starting Things, Interview with Natalie Mack

Balancing Academics and Fun in Homeschool High School

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Balancing Academics and Fun in Homeschool High School.

Balancing Academics and Fun in Homeschool High School

As a parent of a high schooler, there are lots of questions that come to mind. And we are going to answer many of those questions that have been raised, particularly by homeschool high school parents and particularly those looking toward the finish line near graduation and after graduation. Here are our best answers to the questions about balancing academics and fun in homeschool high school!

How do you balance the academic rigors of a good solid high school experience with the wonderfulness of homeschooling?

Many moms want to know how to get all the things that need to be on the transcript done. They want to get:

And that is understandable because there are so many things to get on a transcript!

So, homeschool high school moms are wondering how to get that done.

On the other hand, you want our teens to still enjoy the fun that is supposed to go along with it with homeschooling. You might be wondering about balancing academics and fun in homeschool high school with everything else that is going on.

We have all been through this with our kids. There is a world of things to explore and there are so many cool things to do out there. However, there are these serious academics teens have to accomplish. After all they eventually must either be employed, go to college, or be in the military. And each of these destinations want a transcript.

So, here are some tips on a healthy balancing act

First, you need to know that you’ve got this…and you will not have a perfect homeschool. No one gets to perfection but homeschooling high school can be the best years yet!

Have Goals

Know what you want your kids to experience and accomplish by the time they walk across that stage or the backyard and flip the tassel. Think about what kind of experiences (educationally and otherwise) you want them to have. 

If you keep that in mind, you can weed out some of the things that would be “kind of” good but not necessary for those goals. For example, one goal could be to concentrate on enough math to get them into college but not waste any extra time on unnecessary math course. For instance, if your teens are aiming for History or Humanities majors, they probably do not need to take Calculus in high school.

Check out 7Sisters’ authoritative guide to planning homeschool high school for more help with goals.

Only Choose Core Courses That Meet Their Needs

It could be a fun experience doing all the co-op classes and anything else that is a transcript enrichment focus. However, be sure you are actually choosing the core courses that advance their goals. This prevents wasting valuable time on doing academics that do not advance those goals. 

This way, your teens end up with more time to do the fun stuff. It can be challenging to figure out how to fit it all in, but the idea is that we should not try to fit in the things that are only mildly interesting. For instance, try to only add the interests that can also be interesting beyond high school. Trying to do it all is a recipe for some kind of overwhelming stress at the very least.

Trying to do it all is a recipe for some kind of overwhelming stress at the very least.

Debunk Myths

Are you worried that your teens will not be accepted into college if all their high school courses are not honors level? Good news: It is not true that a transcript with all honors credits is going to beat out another transcript of a student who has leaned into the subject areas for their major. 

This is artificial competition. So, do not allow artificial competition to rule their worlds. Homeschooling high school is more than an awesome transcript. So show their interest development, extracurriculars and volunteerism for a powerful and well-rounded transcript with Honors courses where appropriate. (More on how to choose course levels in this post.)

One caveat, teens who are looking at highly competitive colleges must aim for a more competitive high school experience. Here are two Homeschool Highschool Podcast interviews with teens who aimed for those intense colleges:

There Is More Than One Way To Learn Things

As you re well aware of by now, there is not just ONE way to earn credits!

Specifically, homeschooling does not mean forcing yourself to do the textbook framework or that textbook model for everything. For example:

  • If there is an online asynchronous or live course that would really benefit your teen go with that.
  • Or if there is a fun hands-on co-op course about a topic you teen needs, go with that! 
    • For instance: If your teen wants to study nursing in college, and they’re leaning into anatomy and physiology, go for it!

The beauty of homeschooling high school is the opportunity varied and interesting learning experiences. Do not buy into some goofy limitations that say high school should be primarily through textbooks. If you have not believed that up until high school, you certainly do not need to start convincing yourself of it in high school.  There are so many wonderful ways to learn.

However, textbooks are highly useful. Therefore, when if you are using a textbook, feel free to and take advantage of enrichment opportunities. Adapt textbooks to your needs…or use texts from publishers that are creating adaptable homeschool high school curriculum, like 7SistersHomeschool!

What do you mean by adaptable? What do you mean by levels?

First of all, if you do not understand what we are talking about with levels of credits on a transcript, check out this post that explains choosing course levels.

What we mean when we say that we have created our curriculum at 7 Sisters to be “adaptable” is that we not only allow you to but we encourage you to make our curriculum fit your needs in your homeschool. For example, if you have a teen starting a subject at college prep level, but then discover as the year goes on that it is actually a really difficult subject, it is okay to roll it back to average level.

7Sisters curriculum includes instructions for adjusting levels to meet various teens’ needs. You can easily level up if you find that your teen is breezing through it or easy back if necessary.

I feel there is only one chance to get it right

Academics in high school can feel overwhelming. It can be too easy sometimes to feel like you only have one chance to get it right and you cannot leave any holes. However, if that little voice in your head says that, smack that little voice right upside the head because there are always holes in education! 

That is why we are lifelong learners. There is always something more to learn and teens will have a lifetime to do so. So, take some time for fun.

How do I find other homeschool families and connect with other people?

We know – not all co-ops are created equal. Some are not a positive experience, unfortunately. There are a few ways to find other homeschool families to have good experiences with.

  • Your local homeschool organization, state organization or a regional local organization.
  • Show up in a meeting and get involved.
  • You might have homeschoolers at your church, so just ask around at your church. 
  • Public libraries. Homeschoolers flock to public libraries. Ask around at your library or ask your favorite librarian about homeschool groups
  • Talk to one of your adult siblings into homeschooling their kids too so that you could co-op together. 
  • Go to homeschool fairs and events in your area to sign up to and participate in. 
  • Search social media using specific hashtags to find like-minded people and more information about online classes and groups, book clubs, science lab groups, and more in a virtual setting. (For instance, check out the classes our Cousins offer at Collegiate Learning and Spanish Online Curriculum.
  • Go on field trips and get to know the other families there too.

How do we help our kids find a real job after high school?

First, let’s start by defining “real job” because the world is radically different than it was back when you were graduating high school. 

In the past, high school graduates simply needed a job was where they made enough money to have a roommate and get a simple apartment. But it is not the same world. Economically, the world is very different. Housing and transportation costs have changed. Plus there are new, necessary expenses like cell phones and internet.

So, talk with your teens about what a real job means and help them set realistic expectations. Tell them a real job is one:

  • that has room for you to grow
  • and that requires skill as well as continually acquiring new skills
  • as well as opportunities for advancement and/or increased wages
  • that your teen can be proud of and interested in

God did not design only some jobs that matter. 

There are tons of jobs available that your teens probably do not know anything about. Be sure to encourage them to explore careers that are interesting to them and to learn more about them. 

Balancing Academics and Fun in Homeschool High School

When it comes to high school, there are a lot of different things that you need to take into account  when balancing homeschool and fun. You want to make sure that your teen is getting a good education but also having some fun. This can be a tricky balance to strike but it is important. There are plenty of ways that you can have both academics and fun in homeschool high school. It just takes some planning and effort. 

Join us for a discussion on balance!


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Helping Teens Handle Procrastination

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Helping Teens Handle Procrastination.

Helping Teens Handle Procrastination

Helping Teens Handle Procrastination

Putting things off, especially things you don’t want to do, is a human thing. We all tend to do that. Sometimes for teens, because they have less experience in life, procrastination is one of the hardest things to conquer. Here are some tools for helping teens handle procrastination that you can share with them. 

Understand Why Teens Procrastinate

The first thing teens need to know when they are procrastinating is that it really is part of the human condition. It is one of the parts of the human condition that we have to develop tools to conquer, though. 

Honestly, wouldn’t you rather just do nothing if you could? Or just entertain yourself all the time without doing other obligations? Sure, we all would, but that doesn’t make us happy in the end. And neither does procrastination.

When you sit down and talk it through with your teen, usually when they are procrastinating, they actually feel worse at the end of the day than they did at the beginning of the day.  That is because those things that need to get done just sit there in the back of their head trying to hide. As the neglected task is eating at their consciousness, their anxiety levels are going up. 

Skills To Help Teens Handle Procrastination

When you see your teen procrastinating, sit down and talk with them about what they are procrastinating on. It could be math lessons or research papers or cleaning up their bedrooms – whatever…

Once you have them talking about it, see if it is really procrastination at play here or if there is something else going on. It is a common thing for teenagers is to experience bouts of anxiety or depressive episodes. This is difficult for teens because they have no experience with handling those kinds of things. In these cases, procrastination is not really procrastination but stuckness caused by the tough emotions.

When the problem is anxiety or depression

For a teen, anxiety or depression can look like:

  • Just sitting around like a lump
    • their body may feel heavy, like their arms and legs are heavy and it is hard to move.
  • Not being able to concentrate on anything 
  • Or feeling flat or miserable or hopeless
  • Feeling like they cannot do anything.

There are many different causes for anxiety or depression:

  • Sometimes the mood is depressed or anxious
  • Other times their hormones got off track
  • Or perhaps they are experiencing a long-term stressor like a pandemic or other tragedy
  • Sometimes getting in a big fight with their best friend can cause anxiety or depression

It does not have to look like they are crying all day. In fact, it often does not.

When teens feel depressed or anxious, they cannot focus on their work very successfully (unless it is really easy academics). But it is hard for them to handle more difficult things, those things that take a lot of concentration or they don’t really like too much.

If your teen is experiencing anxiety or depression, have a gentle discussion about it with them. Then talk to the family doctor regarding what to do about it. See if they can connect you with a counselor. When teens get a few tools for recognizing what’s going on and managing these kinds of issues, they feel so much better about it. They will regain their energy to be successful at their schoolwork as well as the harder things in life. 

Tools for helping teens handle procrastination

On the other hand, it is not uncommon for teens to actually be procrastinating for procrastination’s sake. In this case, try these tips.

Eliminate Distractions

Sometimes the procrastination is actually the teen feeling distracted. When distraction is happening:

  • Sometimes it is caused by addiction to notifications.
    • This is a universal problem these days where there are always these notifications going on for our teens (or us moms). 
    • Honest to goodness, if you could get your teen sit down and turn off notifications during the school day, where the constant sounds disrupting their thought patterns, your teen will have more neural energy and more thinking power to do the things that are not so exciting. 
  • Other times, the distraction is caused by having too many tabs open on the computer.
    • Close unused tabs and see what happens.
  • Sometimes they are distracted by something they are powerfully interested in.
    • They would rather do some gaming or go bake a batch of cookies.
    • Those distractions of things they would really rather do are calling to them. In cases like these, that’s a discussion for self-discipline. 
    • Those other interests are great, wonderful things to do. But let them understand that they can do them after four o’clock in the afternoon or in the evening or whenever school is over.

Work on it together with your teen and come to an agreement. Try this: Help them list their next-day’s priorities each night before bedtime. (It is really hip these days for teens to literally write those priorities on a white board.) 

Practice Delayed Gratification

One of the definitions of maturity is the ability to delay gratification. The ability to wait to do what they really want to do is a good life skill. Help teens reward themselves when they finish their daily priorities. (Have the write the reward on their white board, so they can really celebrate when they accomplish their priorities.)

Help With Feelings of Overwhelm

Many times, teens will feel overwhelmed. For They do not know where to even begin. You know they are feeling overwhelmed if you hear them complaining about their schoolwork or see them simply staring at a blank page. 

When you see your teen doing this, tell your teen to just close their eyes and scribble (or type) the letter R over and over again. Once that page is not blank anymore, things start to happen. The words start to flow, and the terror of the blank page or the blank screen is not so scary anymore. And just the act of doing some kind of writing will help your teen get started. 

Knowing What’s Next

Another thing that helps teens get over procrastination is knowing what to do next. According to research, it was discovered that when people know what they are going to do the next day before they go to bed, they will be less likely to procrastinate the next day.

For this, one thing that helps is to get a whiteboard and colored markers. Then have your teen write down what their tasks are for the next day every night at bedtime as well as the tasks they will be doing. 

For some reason, research shows that they are more likely to actually do those things that are written down (versus waking up and then deciding what to do without a plan). 

Having the paper or schedule in a colorful form or on a whiteboard they are going to do the next day really helps conquer some of the procrastination tendencies.

Scheduling Backwards To Create An Infrastructure

One thing that really helps teens overcome procrastination is to have an infrastructure for planning studying and projects. If you have teens who are using syllabi for some of their courses, you can help your teens use it to schedule backwards

To schedule backwards, you look at the syllabus. Then you divide lessons and projects up according to time (or a schedule) and put them on a calendar. This will help your teen see what is coming up and also co-ordinate all the work.

Use a Calendar or Scheduler

Teens who have a scheduler that they can use to know what is coming along as well as knowing when to work on things tend to do so much better at not procrastinating. This is because this gives them a neural infrastructure for time management

You can do this with different types of calendars, too, such as:

Of course, they could also use the calendars and the reminders on their phone. Our friend, Dr. Melanie Wilson from the Homeschool Sanity podcast has some planners for teens.

It is very doable to give teens these infrastructure tools and then watch them do less shutdowns from not knowing where to start.

Help teens create a 
growth mindset to overcome procrastination

Adopt A Growth Mindset

Then the next thing that a lot of teens need to overcome procrastination is a growth mindset. This comes to play when teens don’t want to do something or something feels intimidating to them, but they get it done anyway because they know they will feel better once it’s done.

When things like this happen, teens can talk to themselves through not wanting to get something done. They can say something like:

I don’t like this, but I’m going to feel so much better when I hand this in completed.

Making a positive prediction on the other side of that helps the smart part of the brain turn on which is so important for teens to learn that skill. 

Practice Pairing

Another thing that helps teens overcome procrastination, especially on subjects that they do not like, is practicing a skill called pairing.To do this, take the thing your teen does not really like to do and pair it with something that they do like. 

For example, if they have favorite music they like to listen to, put that on in the background while they do their math. What this does is teaches the brain that this unlikable task is not not all bad. 

Another example is rewarding snacks to eat while they do schoolwork or finish a paper. 

Pairing can usually be used for helping teens handle procrastination by doing something they really don’t like doing, but not just teens – everyone can benefit from this!

Helping Teens Handle Procrastination

Practice these skills to help teens handle procrastination with all tools by sitting down and talking to them about it. They can develop learned skills to overcome procrastination that they can carry all the way into adulthood. 

Join Vicki for tips on helping teens overcome procrastination.

Thank you to Richie Soares with Homeschool and Humor for creating this blog post!


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Helping Teens Learn Productivity Skills, Interview with Melanie Wilson

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Helping Teens Learn Productivity Skills, Interview with Melanie Wilson.

Helping Teens Learn Productivity Skills, Interview with Melanie Wilson

Helping Teens Learn Productivity Skills, Interview with Melanie Wilson

Productivity skills do not come naturally to every single person, and that’s okay! That’s why there are organization experts among us to teach us creative hacks and to give us useful tips. One of these experts of productivity is Melanie Wilson from The Homeschool Sanity Podcast and Psycho With 6. Melanie can juggle flaming bowling pins in an organized structure if you let her. Learn some neat tips for helping teens learn productivity skills – and you can pick up a thing or two along the way as well!

About Melanie Wilson

Melanie is our wonderful friend from the Homeschool Sanity Podcast as well as Psycho With 6. She teaches workshops on organization skills for teens in a way that does not intimidate you. She has a gift of presenting information in a user-friendly way that can be applied towards several areas. 

Melanie is a psychologist who gave up her practice to become a homeschooling mom

She calls homeschooling her “most gratifying occupation ever.” Melanie has six children with three who have already graduated from homeschooling high school. The remaining three are still at home in their high school years.\.

As mentioned, she has a podcast and a blog, and she also writes books, such as the popular Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum for elementary students. In addition to creating curriculums and books, Melanie is a public speaker as she does workshops, videos, and various types of activities that keep her busy, all on top of homeschooling her kids.

Now at this point, you may be thinking she has a full plate, but we are not done yet. That is not all Melanie does! She also loves playing tennis, playing pickleball with her husband and other couples, and she does scrapbooking with a friend on a regular basis. Of course, she also makes sure she has time for her family and her own personal development and reading time…

Some teens are automatically wired with productivity skills...some, not so much.

Tips For Helping Teens Learn Productivity Skills

You may have noticed this, even in your own teens perhaps, but some teens are automatically wired with organizational and productivity skills. Some teens are magnificent at analyzing situations and setting priorities with efficiency and productivity. 

However, many teens struggle in the productivity area. For these teens, the following organizational skills should help build productivity skills.

Make detailed lists of the things

Have your teens start making a detailed list of things that he needs to do on a regular basis. This will help them understand what is coming up and give them a sense of accomplishment when they have checked it off. 

But at the same time, it will help them stay organized in their mind, seeing the list of tasks they do on a regular basis serving as reminders for them. 

Understand there is more than one way to get things done

It is important to note that a lot of times as parents, we think there is only one way of getting work done – which is your way. But this is not true.

Teens who do notuse planners or lists can also get things done just like those who do use lists and organize details in planners. 

Meet your teen’s learning style and personal characteristics

As we all know, there’s not just ONE kind of teen. In fact, we could go as far as to say that not one single teen is the same! And this goes for their own set of characteristics too!

Understand your teen’s learning style so you can approach them with their own unique way towards productivity. For example, if your teen is a hands-on type of learner, you will teach him strategies for how to compensate for his style.

Help your teens notice how they are wired without them feeling judged

Teens can be sensitive or feel like they are being constantly judged at that age and stage of growth. Approach this by having a conversation with your teen about how you learned to do certain things as well as telling them some changes that have occurred in their particular productivity style. 

Give them examples of your own personal experiences

Give them examples of how you handled certain tasks lists while you were in college or how you did things when you first began working in high school. Let them understand that your own personal style has changed and adapted over time to your circumstances. 

This is a great way to open up the conversation because you are telling your teen that not only does your approach differ from the approach that will work best for them, but your approach has changed for you over time. And because of that, explain how you are constantly having to adjust to your new responsibilities and even a new season of life. 

Approach your child with an experimental mindset

Try to approach your child with an experimental mindset as it will give you a nonjudgmental attitude. By engaging your child in this way, you can offer them tips and tweaks on the things they’re currently doing. 

You can ask them questions, like:

“Have you thought of tweaking it this way?” Or,

“Have you ever tried another approach?” 

Notice how your teen responds to situations so you can help them with these tweaks. For example, if your teen likes the pressure of a deadline, let them know that, although there is nothing wrong with that, there are other approaches that can also help them get their work done in time. These approaches might not have so much stress attached to them. You could ask them to try one of these different methods and see how it feels for them afterward.

Try having genuine conversations about productivity

Try having genuine conversations

Stay curious about what as going on for them. Also, stay humble enough to offer what has worked for you without preaching to them. In this way you are inviting them into the process.

This will help your teen realize that they:

  • can grow
  • need to grow 
  • accept the fact that they are allowed to grow.

When you do this, you are letting your teens evaluate and come up with their own conclusion about what works and does not work for them.

About her book “A Year of Living Productively”

In 2013, Melanie had an idea that she could use her blog to help her become more productive. She learned that when she is accountable to other people, she becomes much more productive than if she is not. So she tried a different method for getting things done every week by writing about her results on her blog.

By doing this, she knew she could be consistent about blogging, even though she had no idea how many people were reading her blog (which turned out to be quite a few people!). But just the notion that one person was waiting for her and wondering where she was got her motivated. 

From this year-long process, after learning so much about the process, she started planning on writing a book at the end of that year. However, interestingly enough, when she attempted to write that book, she still had the wrong concepts in her head about getting things done. 

This spurred her on to discovering five-star methods of productivity!

Melanie’s book encourages other so find their own formulas for productivity

 A Year of Living Productively helps make this process a lot quicker by making a list of eighty different approaches – with full instructions – so that moms do not have to read the whole book to put the approach into practice.

With the book, she provides trackers for others to track their approaches and write them down so they can remember it.

Her book is personal and encouraging and feels like a big sister walking you through the approaches with tips along the way. It has a mentoring tone to the book with Melanie assisting with the approaches and then reminding you to look in the mirror and review what you did.

You can learn more about A Year of Living Productively here and connect with her at Psycho With Six and the Homeschool Sanity Podcast.

For more ideas on productivity, check out these:

Thank you Richie Soares with Homeschool and Humor for writing this blog post!


  1. Follow this link to our Apple Podcasts page.
  2. OR take this IMPORTANT STEP: Under our Homeschool Highschool Podcast logo, click on 
    1. View in “…your favorite podcast source”
  3. This will take you to Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast source and our own podcast page.
  4. Click SUBSCRIBE.
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History for Christian Teens, Interview with Crystal Niehoff

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: History for Christian Teens, Interview with Crystal Niehoff. 

History for Christian Teens, Interview with Crystal Niehoff

History for Christian Teens, Interview with Crystal Niehoff

We have a new fellow podcaster on the ultimate homeschool Podcast Network. We are going to talk about the new podcast, History for Christian Teens, and about homeschooling for their family with Crystal Niehoff. 

About Crystal Niehoff

Crystal and her family are a military family. Her husband, Kevin, is a lieutenant colonel army chaplain, and he is also Crystal’s co-host – and fact checker – for the podcast. Kevin has a Master’s of divinity and a bachelor’s in History and a minor in Political Science. And both of them are huge history buffs.

Before, Crystal was the owner and CEO of Army Wife Network. And during that time, she also hosted and produced Army Wife Talk Radio. One of her most notable interviews was with Mrs. Karen Pence, the former Second Lady of the United States, as well as the entire cast of the Magnum PI series, which also served as one of the highlights of her career. 

BTW- For more interviews about military topics and homeschooling, check out these Homeschool Highschool Podcast episodes:

How It All Began

As a brand new Army wife, and with her husband on active duty, Crystal was trying to figure all that out when she came across Amy Wife Network. Eventually, she started blogging for them, and, when it came up for sale, she decided to buy the business. 

And so she grew it from there. 

Later, Crystal sold it to one of her coworkers, a sweet gal who had volunteered for her for many years and another military wife. She is still running Army Wife Network to this day. Except now, Crystal is getting ready to start blogging for them again. Quite the cycle!

Crystal’s advice to all mompreneurs:

Don’t wait for your ship to come in; swim out to it!

Don’t wait for your ship to come in; swim out to it! -Crystal Niehoff

Crystal’s Homeschool Life

Crystal and her family have been homeschooling since the year 2000. They have five children and five grandchildren, and they now continue their homeschooling journey with their two youngest who are getting set to graduate high school next year.

Not only that, Crystal is homeschooling her oldest granddaughter, Lexi, long-distance. Technology has been a blessing for them because it has allowed them to be able to continue that homeschooling legacy. 

Thanks to technologies, such as Skype and texting, she is able to stay connected with her daughter and granddaughter to help homeschool her where she lives. In fact, she wrote about it for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and was published last year in 2021. 

Additionally, her daughter has been inspired by her mother and is looking at homeschooling her oldest son when he starts kindergarten next fall. In this sense, Crystal is a second-generation homeschooler, having homeschooled her kids and now her grandkids are homeschooling.

Homeschooling As A Military Family

Military families usually move around a lot, and that was the case for Crystal and her family too. Because of this, homeschooling was such a blessing for them. But it was not without its challenges. 

Sometimes maintaining some continuity can be difficult when moving from place to place. But the neat thing is, homeschooling was a stabilizer in their life of moving pieces.

Military or civilian, homeschooling helps bond families. Because the parents really experience education with their children by learning right alongside them, which was the same experience with Crystal and her family.

Learning History for Homeschooling Families

Crystal learned history with her kids in a way she had not experienced before in public schools. One difference was that they chose to learn from a Christian perspective. It has been amazing for them to learn history as a family, not necessarily as “just the kids’ homeschooling.” Crystal calls it a family adventure. 

In fact, almost everything can become a history learning adventure for the Niehoff family. For instance, when they lived in Hawaii, they visited Pearl Harbor and Wheeler Air Army Airfield. There they learned World War II history right alongside their kids.

About Their Podcasting Adventure

Originally, it was supposed to be just Crystal doing the history podcast, but every time she talked about it with her husband, his eyes lit up. So she asked him if he wanted to cohost with her, and to her surprise, he said yes. And so, their podcast adventure began. 

Their heart is to genuinely bring history to life as they see it as more of a living thing. Crystal especially wanted to take the history podcast a step further by taking it towards a biblical perspective, or by “putting on your biblical glasses and seeing it through that lens,” according to Crystal. 

One way to describe this is:

If you are nearsighted, and you do not have your glasses on, you can still see up close without them. But if you get in your car, you really need to put your glasses back on because you will not be able to see much about a block away. 

But once your glasses are on, you can see the stop signs or the squirrel running across the road. And so it is the same with history or with life in general, when to have biblical glasses on, seeing it through the eyes of the Creator.

By doing this, you can understand why someone may make the choices that they’ve made. You can not only understand why they made these choices, but also perhaps take lessons from them to apply to your own life. 

Thus, in each podcast, Crystal and Kevin try to come up with lessons to present in the podcast, but still keep the podcast episode short (around fifteen or twenty minutes) so it be pleasurable to listen to. 

Crystal calls these history lessons “life application lessons,” and they try to present three things that listeners can learn from, such as:

  • A specific person from history or
  • Something about life that can be applied to their own lives.
  • A takeaway: “What can they learn from that?”

The podcast is unique on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network in that it is specifically geared for teens. It is called History For Christian Teens. Not only the parents but teens can listen to it on their own as well. And if they do, they can log hours towards leveling up their history credits when they are working on history

Podcast Topic Example

Here are a few podcast examples that are on History For Christian Teens:

  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • People and events in British history
  • Characters from the bible, such as Adam and Eve, Sarah and Abraham
  • Archaeological evidence

After they make their episode topics, Kevin will fact check. Afterward, Crystal and Kevin will take the Life Application lessons to give scriptural reasons to ensure its evidence is scripturally based.

BTW- The Niehoffs have also started the Military Homeschool Podcast.


Check out the History for Christian Teens podcast app

Thank you to Richie Soares with Homeschool and Humor for writing this blog post!


  1. Follow this link to our Apple Podcasts page.
  2. OR take this IMPORTANT STEP: Under our Homeschool Highschool Podcast logo, click on 
    1. View in “…your favorite podcast source”
  3. This will take you to Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast source 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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Career Exploration for Non-College-Bound Teens

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Career Exploration for Non-College-Bound Teens.

Career Exploration for Non-College-Bound Teens

Career Exploration for Non-College-Bound Teens

Not all teens should go to college! That’s a fact. So, for teens who are career bound, how do they handle career exploration? There are so many choices and directions they could go. Vicki shares the guidance she gives career-bound teens when she is wearing her experience in her career coaching hat in this episode.

As you know there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. There’s not ONE kind of teen. And there’s not ONE right kind of career path. For the many teens who do not need to go to college, that’s cool! You need to do what is right for you to develop your:

  • Interests
  • Talents
  • Opportunities

It is wise to have some intentionality with career exploration during high school (especially by eleventh and twelfth grades). That way when the never-ending question: “So, what are you going to do AFTER high school?” happens, they have some kind of answer.

Even if this is not their only career option, it gives teens confidence to say, “I’m thinking about…”.

What opportunities are there to explore so your teen can be employment ready after high school?

There are so many different kinds of teens and so many different interests and needs. That means, there’s not ONE right way to handle career exploration for non-college-bound teens. That’s okay! Let’s look at some options:

For teens who already are pretty certain they know what they want to do

For instance, perhaps your teen has always wanted to be a cosmetologist, firefighter, join the military, or become a plumber. They are free to start jumping in on the process during their homeschool high school years.

You can start as soon as possible to help your teen gain experience in that area:

  • volunteering
  • apprenticing or
  • paid entry-level, related job

If your teen was interested in cosmetology, she could offer to do one of those three (volunteer, apprentice or simple job) in positions such as: floor sweeper, receptionist, etc. This gives her a feel for the industry. Also, find out the state requirements for training. Can she start a cosmetology school during high school?

Or if you have teens interested in a trade, high schoolers can often start taking training courses during high school at trade schools, community colleges or unions. After a few hands-on training classes, teens will find they love the job (or not). They will also be networking and finding opportunities that will open for them either before or after graduation.

Career Exploration:
It gives teens confidence 
to say, "I'm thinking about...".

For teens who know they do not want to go to college but do not have a clue what they want to do

Many teens do not have any idea what they want to do after graduation. That is okay. They do not need to know everything about the future during high school. However, it is wise to help them explore. Here are some ideas:

  • Give them rich experiences
    • Many times teens do not know what they want to do because they have not experienced it yet. One kind of rich experience is field trips. Hey, the good thing about homeschooling is that we homeschool moms tend to value field trips (although sometimes at high school level, it is harder to squeeze them in to our teens’ busy schedules).
    • However, if you create a Career Exploration elective credit for their transcript, you can log many field trips towards that credit. That is because, any trip gives a little more life experience. Any life experience helps build the ability to make decisions- especially career decisions.
    • For instance: ranger-led nature walks at state parks, cooking demonstrations at special events, car shows or museum exhibits. Sometimes, a teen will get inspired by a watching the person in charge of whatever event they are experiencing. They think: “Hmmm, this might be a cool job!” Or, on the other hand, they might think, “Ugh, I would NEVER want to do that!” Either way is valuable career exploration.
  • Show them role models
    • Movies based on careers
    • Biographies of interesting jobs
    • FB Watches or YouTubes about interesting jobs
  • Volunteer work
    • Teens need to do volunteer work. It is good for transcript and the soul. Service work is SO important for personal knowledge and development, as well as making the world a better place.
    • Some volunteer opportunities our teens have done:
      • Church (worship, set up, digital team, nursery, office)
      • Digital volunteer opportunities
      • Food bank
      • State park volunteer events
      • Library volunteers

For teens, whether they have a clue about career or not, try a career exploration course

A good career exploration course is very helpful. For non-college-bound teens, 7SistersHomeschool has a simple Career Exploration Workbook. Even if you choose something else, think about looking for curriculum that includes (like our workbook):

  • What is God’s will?
    • Teens who are believers sometimes feel anxious about choosing a career that will please God. A good curriculum helps them trust God to direct their paths.
  • Past experiences
    • What have teens already done that help them find strengths or interests
  • What other people see in them
    • Get some feedback from people who know them
  • Can they identify interests?
    • IF the power went out for the day, what would you do for fun? If you had a day to yourself with no chores or schoolwork, what would you do?
  • Define career values
    • Career values help teens choose a career field by defining what is important to them: Work hours, desire for involvement in things after work, level of income desired, etc. (Rabbit trail, all teens will benefit from taking a Financial Literacy course that helps them understand and plan for financial responsibilities coming their way in adulthood.)

Explore careers

Check out career descriptions and information at CareerOneStop.org.

Join a club or interest group

Sometimes a group experience will help them explore an interest or strength, network or lead to the next interesting experience. Even if it does not turn out to be fun, no experience is wasted. All experiences are growth, one way or the other.

Try some apprenticeships

We cannot recommend this enough. See if you can help your teen find something that can count as apprenticeship.

Be sure to log everything!

Those Career Exploration electives are SO valuable and look great on the transcript!

For more on this topic

Join Vicki for a quick discussion to help non-college-bound teens get their career exploration underway!


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Homeschooling and Thanksgiving

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Homeschooling and Thanksgiving.

Homeschooling and Thanksgiving

Homeschooling and Thanksgiving

Whether you are big on favorites or not, Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many homeschoolers.There is just something about the food that is amazing, of course, but more than that, there is something about a day dedicated to expressing how thankful you are. 

But why is there just one day? Don’t we want every day to be dedicated to giving thanks, to being grateful, to recognizing and expressing gratitude? Let’s jump into all the giving thanks ideas and different examples of what we can do to give thanks not only on Thanksgiving but for homeschooling and Thanksgiving every single day!

Gratitude Journaling

For many, life became lonely during COVID when so many people were first experiencing the added stressors of the pandemic. And being at home, quarantined, while also afraid and uncertain about so many other things, some people leaned into gratitude journaling as a mental wellness practice. 

There’s something to be said about seeing how powerful something that small can actually be. This is one area where homeschooling and Thanksgiving really play well together!

According to the research at Greater Good Science of the University of California, when we write things down that we are thankful for, it literally changes our brain structure, similar to a PET scan.  It revealed that if we journal for two weeks straight in our gratitude journal, the calm down centers in our brain will grow in size. 

This means, it lessens the stress and hyperactivity in your brain just from journaling! And it also means that when God created us to be thankful- He wired us to become healthier when we do. God did some amazing stuff when he designed us, didn’t He?

(Check out Vicki’s coaching website for freebie downloadable gratitude journaling pages.)

It helps to notice even the small beautiful things.

Identify Different Things To Be Thankful For

Another practice you can put into place for homeschooling and Thanksgiving is to have your kids share one or two good things about something each day or each week. 

The kicker? Each time has to be something completely different every time as much as possible. They are not allowed to repeat things they are thankful for. That is because, when you can try to make your “thing” that you are thankful for different each time, you realize just how much there is to really be thankful for.

Here is a prayer of Thanksgiving that can help with this exercise. Or have some inspiration from homeschool graduates who share why they were thankful for homeschooling.

Write Down What You Are Thankful For

You can take this a step further in giving thanks ideas by having your kids write down what they are thankful for each time you do this. Even if you or your kids are not big into journaling, that’s fine – this has nothing to do with journaling. You do not have to be a writer or like to write to practice this. 

You are simply just writing down what you are thankful for and seeing it tangibly in front of your eyes. Something about writing down what you are thankful for seems to give it life and reveals itself to you more purposefully.

If you think about something that you are thankful for, that is good. But until you write it down, you do not fully take note of it. So, it has nothing to do with being a writer, but has more to do with making that stick in your brain. 

Be Thankful Even In A Mess

There is always something to be thankful for right in the midst of all of the mess. We can always find some small good that God has given us- this helps strengthen us through the storm. For instance, think about the trees and the sun, for example, outside. Even if the trees give you sniffles, you can notice their beauty.

When we notice that God has created nice things out there, we remember that He puts things out there for us to richly enjoy (whether or not life is going well at that moment). Your day may be a rotten one, for instance, but the clouds are beautiful and the sun is shining.

No matter what you may have going on in your life, you will see God’s fingerprints in the most surprising places, right in the midst of any difficult time. Give thanks for the presence of God in the midst of all of that. Because there is always something to be thankful for. 

Giving thanks does not make the bad stuff non-existent. However, giving thanks for the good stuff makes it so much easier to handle and keep going. 


Another thing that is really helpful is reframing. The idea is to reframe, or re-train, your mindset. You do this by correcting yourself in your thoughts. You put into practice “I get to” instead of “I have to” which helps offers thanks to that thing in thinking about.

And it does not mean you are lying to yourself. It means you are simply putting your words and your thoughts in a different context. 

For example, you might want to start taking better care of your body but you might not be one to like exercise. Instead of putting pressure on yourself by thinking you need to work out today or wondering if you worked out enough this week, flip it around and tell yourself the benefits you will get from working out. 

You could put a sticky note on the front of your refrigerator or computer that says something along the lines of “more energy” and “more strength.” Remind yourself what you want instead of what you have to do. 

This simple but powerful reframing practice will make you grateful for the chance to that thing (i.e., work out). Plus, it is also one of those things that you get to model for your kids. As they watch and listen to your positive mind shifts and thankfulness, they will begin to adopt this into their own lives. 

Do One Small Thing Every Day That You Do Not Want To Do

When you do something small each day that you do not want to do, not only does it add up but it also brings you so much satisfaction in knowing that you got it done. It’s similar to eating an elephant one bite at a time.

If it is a large project and you need to get it done but you do not really want to do, just tackle it one task at a time. Do not worry about the other tasks, just do the one thing you do not want to do. It adds up. 

This is a mighty yet powerful way to give thanks in the midsts of those begrudging tasks, those in which you did not walk away from but stayed and conquered them one little bit at a time. You’ll also have the satisfaction in knowing it’s done and can check it off your list. 

This makes you much more grateful for the things you don’t enjoy doing, and you realize how satisfying it is to get done. 

We can extend this to our kids as well. When we tell our kids to do their work, chores, or what have you, we can tell them how good they are going to feel when they get done.This gives them something to look forward to as well as gives them the opportunity to see gratitude and be thankful for their efforts.

Today is going to be a day of Thanksgiving. 

Homeschooling and Thanksgiving

We hope that as you come into your Thanksgiving, you can mark the day and at the same time choose to mark every day, with some Thanksgiving. 

It’s beautiful to have those special days. God set aside these special moments and mile markers to mark that progress in your life and to stop and not do your normal stuff. And instead, celebrate life, be thankful, and be with loved ones. 

So although all these things are wonderful to have as reminders and mile markers, we can also choose to take a piece of that thankfulness with us to plunk down at the beginning of every single day. We can say:

Today is going to be a day of Thanksgiving. 

Maybe you’re not going to do the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing or the cranberries every day, but every day can be a day of Thanksgiving. And when you do, see what it does for your brain! 

BTW- If you would like to have a “why we have these traditions” lesson with your teens, check out this post from philosopher, Dr. Micah Tillman.

Thank you to Richie Soares with Homeschool and Humor for writing this blog post!


  1. Follow this link to our Apple Podcasts page.
  2. OR take this IMPORTANT STEP: Under our Homeschool Highschool Podcast logo, click on 
    1. View in “…your favorite podcast source”
  3. This will take you to Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast source 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!


  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*