State Reimbursement for 7Sisters Curriculum

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: State Reimbursement for 7Sisters Curriculum.

State Reimbursement for 7Sisters Curriculum

State Reimbursement for 7Sisters Curriculum

This week Sabrina explains how 7SistersHomeschool curriculum will work for state reimbursement. Now, do not get too excited! Not all states offer any reimbursement programs for curriculum!

However, some states DO offer at least partial reimbursement for curriculum purchases. Every state’s laws are different. Often states that offer reimbursement programs have very specific rules on how to go about being reimbursed. SO, if you are not sure what your state’s rules are, check your local homeschool organization or Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

If you DO live in a state that gives your a tax credit or reimbursement, then this episode is for you!

Is the curriculum from 7SistersHomeschool acceptable for reimbursement programs?

Until recently, we would have said, “maybe not”. That is because, each of us 7Sisters are of the Christian faith. We are each from different denominations but our overall worldview is shaped by our faith. Thus, it is often explicitly mentioned in our textbooks. (However, we are never pushy, judgmental or preachy with our messaging…just to be clear.)

In recent years, we have had consistent and increasing numbers of homeschooling parents who live in states that reimburse. They want to be good stewards of the family finances, which means it makes sense to avail themselves of the reimbursement programs. However, most states that give tax credits or have reimbursement programs require that curriculum NOT be used for “religious instruction”.

Often the term, “religious instruction” means that in the textbook there is mention of religion or is intended as religious instruction (or could be construed as such).

So HOW did 7Sisters handle this dilemma?

We want to help our 7th Sisters and their families. (BTW- there are six of us 7Sisters: Sabrina, Marilyn, Kym, Vicki, Allison and Sara. SO, who is the 7th Sister? YOU are!)

How could we help our homeschooling friends in states that reimburse use 7Sisters texts and still qualify for reimbursement? First, we thought and prayed and came up with a unique solution. Then we evaluated each:

  • Textbook
  • Literature Study Guide
  • Cinema Study Guide
  • Writing Guide

First, we searched through each text and guide and found the curricula that we could create a state-approvable version that does not damage the integrity of the material. Then we removed material in these curricula that was gave the appearance that we were giving (or attempting to give) religious instruction, teach the Bible or Christian ways of living or model preachiness of any kind.

However, if you download a piece of curriculum that you do not feel will not meet your state’s guidelines, pay attention to your gut! It was our intention to present curriculum that did not include any semblance of religious instruction. When we evaluated the adapted texts and guides, we feel we did well with this. But if your gut says you do not think it will work in your state, contact us and ask for a refund. As you probably know, 7SistersHomeschool is proud of our:

10-Day No-Questions-Asked Money-Back Guarantee on all 7Sisters EBook curriculum!

SO you do not have any risk when you purchase our curriculum! Just scroll down in the 7Sisters bookstore to the category: Curriculum Acceptable for State Reimbursement. There you will find the titles that have been adjusted to be free from religious instruction.

Please note: Some 7Sisters curriculum could not be adapted to be free from religious instruction!

Some of our textbooks and guides simply could not be adapted to be reimbursable. Take for instance:

However, some textbooks and guides could be adapted to be free from religious instruction while maintaining the integrity of the material

If there is a character in a study guide who is a person of faith (such as the priest in Les Miserables), we ask questions that work on literature analysis. Thus, we do not ask religiously-oriented questions.

Some titles that have been adapted to be acceptable for state reimbursement for 7Sisters curriculum include:

PLUS, many:

  • Cinema Studies for Literature Learning Guides
  • Literature Study Guides
  • Shakespeare Study Guides
  • Writing Guides (Short Stories, Essays, Poetry, Creative Chronicling, College Essays)

Not only that but ALL four Complete Bundles (Literature, Writing, Vocabulary, etc) have been adapted to be acceptable for state reimbursement, such as:

One Year of High School English/Language Arts (a good fit for 9th grade)

Look for the RED STICKER on the cover of textbooks and guides OR simply scroll through the bookstore to the category: Curriculum Acceptable for State Reimbursement.

Join Sabrina for encouragement for choosing reimbursable curriculum AND if you need more information on choosing curriculum, check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode.

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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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How to Get Your Teens Interested in Science, Interview with Kristin Moon

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Get Your Teens Interested in Science, Interview with Kristin Moon.

How to Get Your Teens Interested in Science, Interview with Kristin Moon

How to Get Your Teens Interested in Science, Interview with Kristin Moon

Vicki was excited this week to get together with our old friend, Dr. Kristin Moon. Both Vicki and Kristin are natives of the same hometown in Florida (although neither of them live there these days). Therefore, we like to swap old stories. However, on the podcast this week we want to talk about getting teens actually interested in Science.

As you have probably noticed, some teens are born scientists. They love Science from an early age. Many of them go into some kind of science-related field for careers. However, many teens feel intimidated by the subject or simply think they dislike it. That’s why we asked Kristin to help us out.

Kristin’s homeschool story

Kristin and her husband have graduated their two sons from homeschooling. Both are at the University of Kentucky now. One is studying Engineering, the other was has started an Organic Chemistry major.

Kristin earned her PhD in Microbiology from the University of Florida. Her idea was to have a career as a lab scientist. However, when she had her first son, she decided to be a full-time mom. She heard about homeschooling while her sons were just toddlers and decided to give it a try. After that she was sold! They homeschooled all the way through to graduation!

Kristin got interested in Science in part because her dad was an engineer and a favorite uncle was a scientist. However, she discovered a love of Science in her first semester of college she was required to take “A Survey of Biology” course. She discovered the wonders of DNA and how viruses work to hijack cells and turn them into virus factories. Kirstin declared a Biology major at that time!

When she finished her undergrad degree, Kristin went on to get her graduate degrees specializing in lab science and loved every minute of it.

Then, as a mom, her church’s homeschool group would invite her to teach some Science classes. From there, she was asked to teach Science at various co-ops. When her sons were in high school, she wanted her sons to love Science as much as she did. However, she could not find inspiring labs and curriculum for high schoolers. Therefore, she developed her own labs and courses! She is now sharing these labs and courses on her Kristin Moon Science website. (The website has WONDERFUL short courses, tons of lab videos, tutoring, resources and MORE!)

Then she added teaching high school Science courses with two online academies:

How to get your teens interested in Science

So, how to you get your teens interested in Science? Here are some tips:

Do not rely only on textbooks

Textbooks have their place. However, if you only use textbooks, it will be hard for your teens to feel inspired.

Teens need hands-on experiences

You can explore Science in everyday life. Leverage something that they already like and find the Science in that area. For instance:

  • If they like, cooking, explore the chemistry of baking
  • For those who love sports, what are the physics involved?
  • If they like cars, look for the engineering that goes into cars

The internet is a world of information, so perhaps you can google together and log hours on a special interest Science elective credit. This kind of fun Science credit often gets a teen “hooked” on Science!

Watch your words

Parents should be careful to watch their words. So many of us accept that our teens need to know Math or Language Arts. Therefore, we do not bemoan the fact that we must work with our teens through those courses. However, sometimes parents project their intimidation or bad feelings about Science onto their teens. This gives them the unwritten, but easily caught, message that Science is going to be a bad experience. That would be sad if God might have been calling them into the field of Science as a career!

Therefore, try to remain neutral in your words, or even help them find ways to be inspired by their Science classes. In other words: try to present Science with a positive tone.

Help teens remain curious

Children are born curious. Remember when they were young, they were always asking, “WHY?”

When teens ask, “why?” about any lab or textbook information, take the time to model curiosity for them. Sit down with them and google the question. See what you can find. This helps them know that questions are worth exploring and keeps them inspired.

Notice the world around you with your teens. Kristin Moon

Notice the world around you with your teens

Discuss the lovely or challenging things in the natural world around you. Point them out casually:

  • The days are longer in the summertime. When is the sun setting?
  • When do the cicadas sing?
  • In the springtime, how do flowers know to break forth from underground?
  • When do the birds migrate in your area?
  • Why kinds of clouds are there in the sky today?

These do not need to be the topic of this year’s Science class. Instead, they bring Science (and God’s handiwork) to life on a day to day basis. (However, if you want, add some of these observations- especially if you spend some time with it- to your teens’ lab hours).

This makes Science relevant and helps our teens find beauty in God’s world. This often even helps teens’ faith grow!

Don’t be afraid that Science will damage your teens’ faith

What both Kristin and Vicki found (Vicki was a Biology major during her youth), was that learning about the wonders of the world around them drew them closer to God, not away from Him.

Some hands-on ways to make Science relevant

  • Try to find or create some models or diagrams of the things they are learning, for instance:
    • Cells
    • Atoms
    • Ecosystems
    • When teens have to attend to detail as they create a model, they tend to understand and feel inspired.
  • If you can, gather some basic tools, such as:
    • Magnifying glasses from the Dollar Store
    • Plastic table cloths
    • Binoculars
  • Use YouTube for lab ideas
  • Teach that failed experiments are not a failure
    • They can learned a growth mindset and perseverance

Connect with Kristin at

Kristin Moon Science Facebook

And check out this interview with Kristen: Engaging Teens in Science.

Join Vicki and Kristin for inspiring ideas for getting teens interested in Science.

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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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You Are the RIGHT Parent for Your Homeschooler, Interview with Anita Gibson

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: You Are the RIGHT Parent for Your Homeschooler, Interview with Anita Gibson.

You Are the Right Parent for Your Homeschooler, Interview with Anita Gibson

You Are the RIGHT Parent for Your Homeschooler, Interview with Anita Gibson

Ever have doubts about your ability to parent your homeschool high schoolers? The high school years can be a challenge. After all, we know that we are preparing our teens for life after graduation. We want them to be ready for all they will be facing. What if we do not do enough for them and with them? We can be full of doubt! That’s why we asked our good friend, Anita Gibson, to chat with us. She shares why you are the right parent for your teens.

Anita has homeschooled for over twenty years, and as she says:

It’s been the good, the bad and the ugly! Parenting is the real deal!

Coming out on the other end, Anita says that she is glad she had the homeschool years to get to know her kids well and help them find fulfilling lives.

Anita administrates Simply Homeschool Facebook group, is a director of several local homeschool programs, leads a team of seven high school educational consultants for HSLDA, and has started the website National Homeschool Advocacy.

One of Anita’s God-given gifts is the gift of encouragement. (If you have not yet read her book, StarFinder, you need to do it! You and your teens will be so encouraged!)

So in this episode we are talking about why you are the right parent for your homeschooler!

Why are you the right one to parent your particular teens? Here are some reasons:

God gave you that child

It was not an accident! You were specifically assigned that child by God. He also gave you what you need to do raise that child well. Even on a bad day, when we are doubting ourselves we can recalibrate with the thought:

We can depend on God and the fact He will continue to equip us with what we need to homeschool our teens well.

However, we need to remember that our parenting and homeschooling is not dependent on our strength, but on the strength and wisdom that God will give us (II Corinthians 12:10).

The homeschooling parent we are now is not the homeschooling parent we will be at the end of this process

God gave us teenagers to help us grow! We are in the middle of a growth process, just as our teens are growing!

Have you ever noticed that before we started parenting, we were “parenting experts”? At least, that is how Vicki saw herself. There is nothing like real parenting, though, to squash the feelings of expertise! She found out that she needed her homeschool mom-friends as well as God’s help in the parenting process. Therefore, she grew spiritually, emotionally and socially as much as her teens did throughout the homeschool process!

Perfection is not required

The longer you homeschool high schoolers, the more you will notice your imperfections! So, remember:

Perfection is NOT required!

Over time you will become something more but where you are is the perfect place to start. When you are called to parent or homeschool, hold onto the fact that once you start, success (not perfection) is in your future. God plans for you to have success (even though you will have ups and downs, hard days, dark days as well as lots of good days).

God is not requiring perfection. When He gave you the homeschooling high school job, He didn’t expect you to do it perfectly- because none of us could anyway! 

Homeschooling: Perfection is NOT required!

Get used to waiting

It is wise to adopt the “spiritual posture” or mindset of waiting. While you are waiting on God’s direction, strength or wisdom, if you are wise you learn to have peace- even in those challenging moments. It is the kind of peace that does not deny there are stressors going on, but the kind of peace that knows the answers will come.

We Americans often feel we need to have all our skills and wisdom NOW. Instead, remember that God has planned for success. Success is in our future! His version of success might not look like our version of success, but it is a good success anyway!

Be humble in front of your teens

Model praying for your homeschool high schoolers and ask them for their prayers for your own growth and wisdom. That is the fruit of the Spirit: Humility.

Then listen to your teens’ input. For instance, when one of Vicki’s teens had enough of Mom’s attempts at helping him with high school math, they found a mom at our local homeschool umbrella school to teach him instead. This did not mean that Vicki was the wrong homeschool parent for her teen. Rather, it meant that Vicki was becoming a resource manager. After all, as Anita says:

Homeschooling is about teaching your children how to learn!

We parents are not supposed to be the best at everything! Rather, we want them to learn that as adults, they can look for resources to keep learning things they need to know.

No one can homeschool high school better for your teens. You are the right parent for your homeschoolers!

Remember, God will use your strengths, weaknesses and His grace to grow you and your teens. There will be challenges and growth, hard things and good times, teaching and farming out the teaching. It is all good in the long run.

Also, remember not to compare yourself with other homeschooling parents. You are supposed to be growing and intentional in your relationship with God and your family members. You are NOT supposed to be the same as other homeschooling parents!

An example of being the right parent for homeschoolers

Anita’s daughter was born talking. She taught herself to read at a very early age but she still talked all the time. Anita sometimes had to lock herself in the bathroom just for an escape from the chatter. She found it tempting to want to shut the chatter down. Eventually, God showed her these gifts:

  • Her daughter WANTED to share her thoughts with her. That is a privilege!
  • Anita needed to allow God to give her more capacity to attentively listen.
  • She also found ways for her daughter to use her voice in debate and drama. This led to college scholarships in international policy and now a career in the diplomatic corps. Now she gets paid well to do the very things that had once been irritating. In this way, God grew both Anita and her daughter!

Anita found that she was the RIGHT mom for her homeschoolers, by God’s grace.

One last thought from Anita:

Don’t try to change your kids or you from the outside…It’s an INSIDE job! The job that comes from the work of God in you and through you.

Remember God made us the right parent for our kids so we can KNOW, that we and our kids can rest in Him and grow.

Join Vicki and Anita for an encouraging discussion that reminds you that you  are the right parent for your homeschooler! Also check out these other marvelous chats with Anita:

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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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