Timeline of Events for High School Students

Oftentimes homeschooled students miss out on opportunities because they are unaware of available events as well as the deadlines associated with certain opportunities. Planning ahead will help your students successfully complete high school and be well prepared for life after graduation. Below are suggestions to consider for each grade of high school. There are links included that will direct you to sites with more information or past blog posts that address particular subject matters. Some of the information is repeated in more than one grade and, although it may seem redundant, it allows parents to skip to a later grade if their students have already completed an earlier grade.

General Advice:  

Begin helping the student discover his/her gifts and talents. Discuss classes to include in the high school years.  English, history, science and math in addition to classes that interest the student, encourage character, teach computer skills, and more. Include specialized classes or co-ops that encourage the talents and interests of the student when possible. Be aware that there may be state requirements regarding particular courses necessary for a homeschooled student to earn state grants. In addition, some colleges have certain requirements regarding classes that should be included on a student’s high school transcript. Not all colleges require two years of the same foreign language in high school, but some do. Most expect to see four credits of English, three or four years of math, three credits of science (with at least one lab), and three credits social studies. Many states have added a half credit for personal finance to their suggested guidelines. There are no laws regarding the credits a homeschooled student needs to graduate, only guidelines, but knowing the requirements for state grants as well as the expectations of the colleges your student is considering will help you plan to meet your state’s requirements and the requirements of your top college choices. The state of Tennessee does not require a homeschooled student to take particular classes in order to earn state grants, but an ACT or SAT score is required. Some states may require certain GPAs, test scores and/or community service for grants. The grants often have deadlines for application so be sure you are aware of that information before the student begins his senior year. Bryan College does not have specific requirements for high school courses but, depending on the student’s desired major, certain high school classes may be recommended by faculty members. For instance, if a student plans to pursue an Engineering degree, then taking an increased number of math and science classes during high school will help better prepare the student for that major.

Opportunities: Discover local opportunities for co-ops, classes, athletic, music, drama, and additional events that may be worth pursuing. Look into Civil Air Patrol and TeenPact. Join a local speech and debate club (or, in the absence of a local club, start one). STOA and NCFCA are two Christian homeschool speech and debate clubs. One of my regrets after homeschooling my 9 for more than 32 years is not getting involved in speech and debate clubs until my oldest four had completed high school. 

9th grade

Transcripts:  Keep records to be inserted in a transcript including subjects studied along with credits and grades earned. If you would like to use the Transcript Genie offered for free by Bryan College to build a professional-looking transcript (it even calculates and weights grades), go to this link, scroll down and enter your email address. There is also a free eBook called The Journey that you can request and it will provide information on testing, scholarships, and more.

Community Service:  Look for opportunities for your student (and/or the entire family) to participate in volunteer opportunities, ministries, camps, classes, and more. Keep a record of volunteer hours and hold on to any certificates earned.

Portfolio:  Begin collecting and filing documents that provide proof of the student’s participation in community service, mission trips, camps, classes, athletic events, awards, certifications, and more. If your student is featured in an article, add a copy of the article to the portfolio. If your student has work published, include that in the portfolio.

Testing:  Participate in the PSAT testing if possible. This is an affordable test for students offered in October and, in 2021, an additional test date in January was added. Register your student for the CLT10. Students can take this test several times a year at home, for free, on a computer, with the parent proctoring. Parents can order the analytics for a small fee.

Summer:  Check out camps, mission trips, internships and apprenticeships that might interest your student.  A student of this age can often be trained to work at camps, gaining experience, responsibility, and qualifications for potential summer job opportunities. Making money, although beneficial, should not always be the deciding factor when choosing between opportunities. Students may gain more experience and character growth in volunteer positions.

Dual Enrollment: Look into dual enrollment classes for the 10th grade year. Dual enrollment is a great opportunity as it allows a student to earn both high school and college credit at the same time, but it is not without dangers. Homeschooled students often make a few mistakes pertaining to dual enrollment and this post will help you avoid those mistakes. Choosing which dual enrollment class a student should take is also important.  

10th grade

If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment and college then find out the qualifications for participation in order to make sure your student meets the requirements. Bryan College allows 10th graders to take dual enrollment classes but the requirements are more stringent than the requirements for 11th and 12th graders, so planning ahead to meet those requirements is important.

Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity.

Testing:  Participate in the PSAT testing that takes place if possible. Register your student for the CLT10. Students can take this free test several times a year at home, on a computer, with the parent proctoring. Parents can order the analytics for a small fee. 10th graders taking the CLT10 may qualify for scholarships offered by the CLT. Consider having your student take college entrance exams, particularly if test scores are required for dual enrollment classes. Most colleges accept both the ACT and the SAT. Many Christian colleges accept the CLT.

College Credits: If your student is ready to take college classes, find a college that is a good fit for your student. (Bryan College offers online classes four times a year with out-of-state scholarships.)  Be sure you discover guidelines for dual enrollment because, in some instances, college entrance exam test scores are required. Consider CLEP and AP possibilities for additional college credit. 

Opportunities: Discover local opportunities for co-ops, classes, athletes, music, drama, and additional opportunities. Look into Civil Air Patrol and TeenPact. Join a local speech and debate club (or, in the absence of a local club, start one) STOA or NCFCA

Summer:  Consider dual enrollment classes, camps, mission trips, internships and apprenticeships.  A student of this age can often be trained to work at camps, gaining experience, responsibility, and qualifications for potential summer job opportunities.  

11th grade

Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity.

If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment and college, find out the qualifications for participation.

Preparing for College: Attend college fairs and visit colleges of interest. Take college entrance exams, pinpoint weaknesses and tutor to the weakness. Purchase materials that will help improve test scores. Consider on-line tutoring for test prep such as 36 University (enter code “bryan” and save $3 a month, reducing the price to $12 a month). Schedule campus visits at colleges of interest. Begin with the virtual tours offered online, and visit in person when possible, preferably when classes are taking place so the student can attend classes. Begin applying to colleges of interest when permitted (find out if there are events or times when the application fees are waived). Research scholarship and grant opportunities offered by the state in which you live, the colleges you are considering, as well as independent scholarships. This article gives suggestions for making college affordable.

Testing:  Discover opportunities for taking the PSAT the summer before, or at the beginning of the 11th grade year. It is the score from the PSAT taken during the 11th grade year that qualifies students for National Merit Scholarships. A National Merit Semi-finalist receives full tuition at Bryan College.

November:  Answers in Genesis sponsors a free college expo for high school students that includes a free ticket to the Ark and the possibility of winning a $500 scholarship.

Summer:  Consider attending camps that are held at the college your student is considering attending. Request a FAFSA ID for student and parent in order to fill out the FAFSA the senior year.

12th grade

Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity. If you would like to print a diploma for your student, the free e-resource mentioned, The Journey, includes an editable diploma template. None of my nine children have ever needed a diploma. What they did need was a completed transcript.

Continue attending college fairs and visiting colleges of interest unless a firm decision has been made at this time. 

If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment (and college) find out the qualifications for participation early in the year because deadlines are often tied to certain opportunities. If your state offers grants for college, but you know your student will be attending an out-of-state college, then using the college grant (borrowing against it) for dual enrollment will save you money in the long run. Students planning to attend an in-state college may also want to borrow against a state grant for dual enrollment because the cost of dual enrollment classes is often much lower than the cost of traditional college classes.

Make sure all classes necessary for graduation are scheduled to be completed either by participation in class or by testing.  

Apply to colleges of interest. 

Continue earning college credits via dual enrollment classes, CLEP (can now be taken virtually from home) or AP tests (can now be taken from home). Continue taking college entrance exams. As a result of COVID many colleges are test optional meaning they will use a student’s GPA for merit scholarship, without requiring a test score. However, most test optional colleges will accept test scores and use the scores to award scholarship amounts if the exam score increases the amount a student can earn beyond what the GPA entitles the student to be awarded.

Attend scholarship events (when applicable) that take place at the college of interest.  At Bryan College these events take place once during each semester.  These are invitation only events, extended to qualifying seniors who have applied to Bryan College and each participant receives additional scholarship funds of varying amounts based on an interview with faculty or staff.

Be sure your student has developed time management skills. If the student is taking a dual enrollment class or attending a structured co-op then, more-than-likely, the student is honing these skills. This article offers five steps to help students improve their study skills.

October:  Fill out the FAFSA. You may want to wait a few days because the first few days are filled with so many families completing the FAFSA that the site gets bogged down. But, do not wait too long because in certain situations scholarships may be first come, first serve.

November:  Answers in Genesis sponsors a free college expo for high school students that includes a free ticket to the Ark and the possibility of winning a $500 scholarship.

Spring:  Be sure all subjects necessary for graduation will be completed.  There may be state requirements for homeschooled students to complete specific courses in order to earn state grants. Some colleges have certain requirements regarding classes that should be included on a student’s transcript. Make sure all requirements are met. Continue taking college entrance exams if higher scores are needed for scholarships. 

Summer:  Consider sending your student to camps that are held at the college your student plans to attend if that’s an option. At Bryan College a senior enrolled at Bryan will earn a small scholarship for attending Bryan’s Summer Institute. A high school graduate can also dual enroll with Bryan College the summer after graduation. If your student plans to live on campus, then he may very well find a suitable roommate while attending the camp.

The earlier you start preparing your high school student for success, the better it will be for everyone involved. However, if you are like I was with my oldest kiddos, and you are late to the game, do what you can to play catch up and make up for lost time. Even though my older students were ill prepared (thanks to my lack of knowledge concerning many of these issues), they did well after high school. Could they have done better or had an easier time getting to where they wanted to go had I better prepared them? Probably, but I was doing all I knew to do at that time. Give yourself some grace and utilize the information that is available to you and your students now that you are aware of the options and opportunities. Feel free to email me at pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.

Ten Steps for Beginning Homeschoolers

Congratulations! You have decided to homeschool. Making such a decision is huge and you may be wondering where to start. This article will cover the basics while guiding you to multiple resources to help you plan successfully.

  1. Find out if homeschooling is legal in your area. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states of the US, but it is not legal in every country. Research state requirements in adolfo-felix-4JL_VAgxwcU-unsplashthe area in which you live. Some states require that you sign up with the local superintendent of education while others require you to join an umbrella or covering school. If you live outside of the US, there are also international homeschooling laws in each country.
  2. Choose an approach. Take a look at the many different approaches to homeschooling. You may be surprised at the many choices of how to homeschool from unschooling, relaxed, structured, online, co-op, classical, Charlotte Mason, Wild and Free, unit study style, roadschooling and many more. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you can either choose an approach used by others or create an entirely new approach that fits your family better than anything else. Another beauty of homeschooling is that you are free to switch gears anytime you want in order to improve the experience.
  3. Find local opportunities. Take a look at the many opportunities on-line and in your area. You might be pleasantly surprised at the activities available in your area from co-ops, to library programs, hybrid opportunities, and more. One of the best ways to get the inside scoop on your area is to ask local friends who have been homeschooling for a while. Most states, and many cities, have homeschool associations that you can join. Using Google as a search for local opportunities works well too! Each state has a directory of homeschool organizations, and many of the state organizations have representatives in the major cities of that state. devon-divine-Hzp-1ua8DVE-unsplashMost libraries, as well as associations such as 4-H, offer programs that are either free, or very affordable. Oftentimes, local homeschool organizations have organized sports teams, theater groups, bands, speech and debate clubs, and more. Joining local Facebook groups is another way to connect with homeschooling families in your area. In addition to local groups, there are a few rather large Facebook groups with members from all over that you may consider joining, depending on which approach to homeschooling you choose. Two of the larger Facebook groups are Hip Homeschool Moms Community,  and It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool Highschool. Take a look at those, as well as at The Ultimate List of Homeschool Facebook Groups, to find groups that might fit your specific homeschooling interests. Many private schools, as well as certain public schools, offer opportunities for homeschooled students. The options offered may include the chance to participate with athletic and fine arts activities, take tests, attend classes, and more.
  4. Research learning styles. Talk to your children about how they best learn. This is an important step to take before you buy any materials or sign up for particular programs. There are more than a few books available on this topic and many can how a child learnsbe checked out from your local library. Cythnia Tobias is an expert. Attending one of her workshops years ago helped me understand my children and how they learn. It also helped me understand how I learn! Check out her 25-minute talk about learning styles and prepare to have your eyes opened!
  5. Develop a philosophy of education. Write down what you plan to achieve so that you will know how to set goals as well as how to measure success. After a few years of tweaking and changing my philosophy of education this is the end result: Encourage my children’s inquisitiveness so that they will develop a love of learning. Teach them to ask questions and question answers. Help them learn how to find information from reliable sources. Help them discover their gifts and talents so that they can make a plan for life after high school. Create independent learners so that they can achieve anything they want or need to achieve. It was also important to my husband and I that we, as Christians, raise our children to know and love God, so that they would understand a develop a biblical worldview of life.
  6. Make a plan. After deciding what approach you want to take, make lists of estee-janssens-NzukYmIQOps-unsplashmaterials needed for the approach you have chosen, and set goals. Will you homeschool for 9 months out of the year, or will you homeschool year around? Will you dedicate a certain part of each day to study or will the daily schedule be flexible? Join the groups you find helpful and register your students for any opportunities you’ve discovered that will be beneficial for your family.
  7. Be prepared. Acquire the materials you plan to use, whether purchasing or borrowing (either from a library or from friends). There are many opportunities to purchase materials used at low prices, both online and at used book sales that usually take place late spring or early summer. If the materials you plan to use are expensive, I would suggest that you borrow them from a friend before purchasing in order to be sure they will work for your family before making a pricey investment. If you keep your curriculum in good condition, you can make some money reselling it at the end of each school year.
  8. Be flexible. Realize that if your students have been in school, it may take time to find what works best for your family, so be prepared to be flexible and make changes accordingly. Some say that it will take the same number of months equal to the number of years your student has been in traditional school for them to adapt to homeschooling. Whether that is true, or not, know that there will be a period of adjustment for everyone involved. Don’t be afraid to talk about what is working and what isn’t working and find a solution to the problem whether that means tachina-lee--wjk_SSqCE4-unsplashadjusting an attitude or switching approaches and/or curriculum.
  9. Think outside the box. The reason that schools have a scope and key is because they have to have a level of continuity across the board. Having twenty plus students of the same age in one room does not allow room for accommodating to each child’s learning style much less any learning disabilities. As a homeschooling family with children of multiple ages, you do have that privilege — so make the most of it and don’t be afraid to be different. For one of my daughters-in-law, Megan, thinking outside the box means doing a lot of school outside, or laying down on a blanket instead of sitting at the table, or letting her son pick the order of what he wants to work on first so that he can take ownership. For me, I allowed the children to play with Legos quietly during read aloud time. I was not committed to a daily schedule that required our schoolwork to get done during particular hours. My daughter, Kelley, uses her family’s time in the car to listen to audiobooks together or to work on memorization projects. Discover what works best in your situation!
  10. Have fun. Keep joy in the journey. You do not want your decision to homeschool ruin your familial relationships. If life becomes miserable, something needs to change. Granted, every day won’t be stress-free and fun, but that should be the goal. I homeschooled for more than 32 years and, although I would make a few changes, I would do it all over in a heartbeat.timon-studler-BIk2ANMmNz4-unsplash

This is a broad overview for those of you new to homeschooling. I am writing another blog that will address academic goals for students of all ages. What you plan for elementary students will look much different than what you plan for high school students. And, if you have children of all ages, then you may need some guidance there as well. When I began homeschooling I was blessed to have a mentor guide me towards which books to read, philosophies to consider, and curriculum to use. Hopefully I can do the same for you! Stay tuned!

 

Raising Entrepreneurs

CoverA

One of the best things we did as we raised our nine children was to encourage them to be entrepreneurs.   After reading the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki, we taught our children about the benefits of having multiple streams of passive income.  When we studied inventors, inventions, and innovations, the wheels in our children’s minds began to turn.  My husband has always been self-employed so including our children in our businesses was natural and very beneficial.  Allowing them to try their hand at businesses, beginning with lemonade stands, was educational and often monetarily beneficial.  When my daughters began selling garnet and gold items at FSU games the items became so popular that the products ended up in ten local stores.  That was a great learning experience that also provided income for our family.

We attend Rhea Perry’s first ever entrepreneurial conference dragging along two teen boys ages 14 and 16.  This was over 14 years ago!  Although the boys were not at all excited about this event, once it began they enjoyed every minute of every workshop we attended and hated to see it end!  Now that our nine children are grown, most of them are quite entrepreneurially minded!  Our oldest daughter is pursuing a patent on a product she has created.  Our oldest son makes knives from scratch.  One of our sons owns his own business and flips houses, boats, cars, and more.  Several of our children own Airbnb rentals (as do my husband and I) in addition to other real estate properties. One of our daughters (along with her husband) owns a successful videography business in Colorado (also an Airbnb owners).   Our youngest son, heading to college this fall, is already quite experienced in construction and he recently changed my outside lights to motion sensor lights and added four new outdoor electrical plugs in a very short amount of time.  All of our boys (we have 5 boys, 4 girls) know how to run a lawn business.

As we raised our children, if and when they came up with ideas, we encouraged them to pursue them (even when we had our doubts).  For instance, after our daughter made $10 selling lemonade in a short amount of time, her brother wanted to sell something as well, but he wanted to sell something more “manly” than lemonade.  So he decided to sell firewood.  The problem with that idea is that it was August and we lived in Florida.  Not to be dissuaded he set up his table and it began to rain.  He put an umbrella over his head and continued to attempt to sell firewood in Florida in the rain in August.  Two people stopped and bought firewood.  He learned about pity purchases that day!

If you want to encourage your children to think entrepreneurially, then study inventions and inventors.  Read Rich Dad, Poor Dad to your children.  Toss around business ideas! Try all the ideas suggested when possible!  Attend entrepreneurial conferences!  I am excited to announce that Rhea Perry now offers a 12 month course for students (whether adult or child) to learn about entrepreneurship!  But wait, there’s more!  When a family signs up one member of the family for Rhea’s course, the entire family can attend one of her conferences!  She holds an “Educating for Success” conference for homeschooling families in February of each year and a business conference in August of each year.  In August of this year (2017) the conference will take place in Huntsville, Alabama, and entire families are welcome to attend.  There are more than a few great workshops planned, and one of the guest speakers is John R. Erickson, author of Hank the Cowdog series!

If you have budding entrepreneurs, you may find the guide I wrote called Planting a Seed, Grow an Entrepreneur helpful!  Contact me for ordering information.  The sooner our children become financially prepared for life, the better!  And, when young adults have multiple streams of passive income, they are free to go, do, and pursue their gifts and talents to the max!

Choosing Curriculum: A Guide to Planning for Elementary, Middle and High School Students

Whether you are new to homeschooling or you have been homeschooling for a while with students moving up to another level, this article will provide guidelines to consider when making plans for your students.

Although the suggestions I make in this article are general and eclectic, it may be worth your while to take a look at the multiple styles and methods of homeschooling. You may be surprised at the many choices and philosophies available for your consideration. There is no right or wrong choice. You may try out one style only to discover it is not the best fit for your family. In the end, you may find the best plan is to pick and choose from various styles in order to design a plan that works for you and your family.  Two books that will encourage you in your homeschooling journey are Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah McKenzie and Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

For elementary students, keep it simple and keep it fun. Creating a love of learning is the key to raising students who are academically successful. Do not worry about curriculum. It is available for your use, but you have done well teaching your children from birth to age 5 without curriculum, so if you want to continue in the same manner, jerry-wang-0qmXPnZKeLU-unsplashgo for it! The freedom and flexibility of homeschooling allows you to plan your students’ experiences around their learning style and their interests. If you do purchase a curriculum and it is not working the way you envisioned, feel free to set it aside, sell it, or give it away. Do not become enslaved to curriculum. If you feel a need to make purchases then purchase Legos, critical thinking games, a globe and maps, and fun items that inspire the imagination. During the younger years, a huge emphasis should be placed on reading aloud, enjoying nature, having discussions, and playing games. Go on fieldtrips. Visit museums, science centers, and zoos. Oftentimes, the cost of an annual family membership is not much more than the cost of a one-day visit, and many zoos and museums have reciprocal memberships! Involve your children in meal planning and grocery shopping. Reach out to your community and volunteer for opportunities to serve that allow your children to participate. Encourage your students to ask questions, and then guide them towards learning how to find the answers to their questions. No one can know everything, but students who learn how to find the answers to their questions become independent learners, allowing parents the luxury of not worrying about whether their students will succeed academically, or be left behind. Look for an upcoming article with specifics on how to encourage inquisitiveness and how to teach your students to find answers from reliable resources! When you have a few minutes, listen to Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk on How Schools Kill Creativity.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Although planning for middle school is not quite as important as the high school years, parents should begin getting serious about their students’ academic studies. During the elementary years you have, hopefully, instilled in your children a love of learning as well as having equipped them with the ability to find answers to their questions. The middle school years are challenging because of the physiological changes that start taking place and those changes often result in undesired attitudes surfacing. Expediting an academic plan may be fraught with the need to address character issues. Be sure you address the character issues. If you need to set aside academics in order to restore relationships or repair damage done by students who are acting out, do so. Do not be afraid to have non-negotiable parental mandates, but explain to your students the reasoning behind the decisions and alex-michaelsen-4jcZiXH63fM-unsplashdirections you pursue. They do not have to understand or agree with your decisions, but your students should be required to respond respectfully to you (and to others).

In addition to teaching your students how to answer questions, middle school is a great time to encourage students to question answers, but to do so respectfully. (Are you seeing a correlation to middle school and character issues?) If you have already lived through the middle school years you may chuckle at the advice to encourage your students to question answers because that tends to be natural for middle school students. They tend to question everything, particularly rules and expectations set forth by parents. Avoid answering with, “Because I said so,” if possible. You will gain respect if you take the time to share your heart and, even if your students are not mature enough to understand or agree with your explanation, they are apt to be less frustrated than they would be otherwise. Now that character issues have been addressed, let’s talk about subjects to cover.

Math: During middle school make sure your students have a firm understanding of basic math facts so that they will be adequately prepared to be introduced to algebra and geometry in high school. Being able to multiple mentally, whether by memorizing the times table or using another method to achieve that result, is imperative. Knowing how to divide without using a calculator is also important. Understanding percentages and fractions is equally important to having a firm foundation for higher level math classes.

English: In high school your student should begin writing essays so while in middle school introduce your students to simple writing assignments such as book reports, short stories, testimonies, and more. Continue to read aloud, but assign great literature to be read by your students as well. You may find your students are willing to read more if they are allowed to read the biographies found in the juvenile section of the library. Rather than reading one biography that is over 200-300 pages long, your student can read five or six, or more, biographies that are of much shorter length. There are many resources for literature-driven curriculum.

History: I was that student who thought history was the most boring subject on the planet until I began homeschooling my students and discovered historical fiction! Reading books that brought history to life led me to have a deep love for history! Introduce your students to history through literature or through unit studies! For American history, the House of Winslow series is very historically accurate. If your students are reading biographies, then chances are they may want to further pursue information about the period of history being covered by the biography they are reading. With one of my sons (who loves history), we went through the Timetables of History (a chronological record of history from the beginning of written records) and when something sparked further interest, we looked up videos and articles pertaining to that event. For those looking for a literature-based history curriculum, TruthQuest may be just what you need.

Science: Because your student will be taking biology and chemistry in high school, the middle school years should include an introduction to basic science that includes life, earth, and physical science. If you are going for a more literature based approach, include biographies of great scientists. One of my favorite books to read aloud is Carry On Mr. Bowditch. Books about George Washington Carver were enjoyed as well. As far as text books go, many families choose to use Apologias books for science.

Electives: In addition to the basics, you may choose to add in any number of electives from physical education to music, foreign language, leadership, religions and worldviews, shop, cooking, or anything else that particularly interests your students.

group of people sitting on stairs

HIGH SCHOOL

Now is definitely the time to make specific plans for your students. Although you will have some flexibility, in order to ensure that your students are adequately prepared for life after high school, it is important to plan ahead. Be sure you prepare your students for college, whether they think they need college, or not. It is better to be prepared and not need it, than vice versa. I wrote an blog post that will help you avoid eight common mistakes that homeschooling parents make. If your students have no idea what they want to pursue after high school, help them discover their gifts, talents, and passions. Narrow down top college choices so you can find out what is expected from those colleges as far as admission requirements, transcript expectations, and scholarship potential. Feel free to download The Journey, a free e-resource that will help you plan ahead.

Transcripts: Although most states have suggested guidelines for high school graduation, there are no set-in-stone laws, so you have the freedom to plan according to what’s best for your student. The expectation is that a four-year high school transcript will include 22 to 24 credits. Most states expect a student to take at least 3 math classes, 3 or 4 English classes,  3 science classes (with at least 2 labs), 3 social studies, ½ credit for personal finance, 1 or 2 physical education credits, 2 foreign language credits, and the remainder as electives. Some states are more rigorous while others are more flexible but, again, these are guidelines and not mandates. Be aware that as flexible as you are allowed to be from a homeschooling point-of-view, you may find particular colleges have requirements that your student must fulfill in order to attend that college. For this reason, narrowing down college choices is vital to planning the courses for your students. Some homeschooling families have their students take a 5th year of high school and, believe it or not, colleges will accept a 5 year transcript from homeschooled students.

Curriculum: When I began homeschooling (in the 1980s) our curriculum choices were very limited. That is not the case today. There are online programs that are totally free (Easy Peasy and Kahn Academy are two programs often recommended) and there are many programs that can be purchased. There are textbooks available for every subject imaginable and there are products galore for the students who prefer learning without textbooks whether that is with CDs, videos, or with real books.

Course Selection: It is presumed that your student will take English, math, science, and social studies. Most state guidelines suggest two years of the same foreign language, although there are colleges that do not have that requirement. If you know what major your student will pursue, you can better plan which courses to choose. For instance, students who plan to become engineers should take as many math and science classes as possible while in high school. If your students show a particular interest in a subject, then have them take classes pertaining to that subject in order to confirm or refute that interest. If your students have no idea what they want to do after high school, then provide a well-rounded high school experience while trying to nail down a plan for after high school. My next article will include suggestions for helping your children discover their gifts, interests, and passions.

Beyond the Basics: Although we have all been conditioned to believe that including the classes mentioned above are sufficient for a proper education, I would like to suggest that there are classes worth considering that are equally (if not more) important to a well rounded education. Taking classes in current events, speech and debate, apologetics, logic, entrepreneurship and personal finance are classes that will help prepare your students for life after high school whether that includes college, or not. One of my regrets is not having my students involved in debate clubs until the 5th child (of 9) was in high school.  Once I became aware of the skills gained being involved in a debate club (there are at least three Christian homeschool debate leagues), my students were required to participate in a debate club for at least one year.

Books:  To help plan for the high school years read Celebrate Highschool: Finish with Excellence and More Than Credits: Skills Highschoolers Need for Life both written by Cheryl Bastain.

Test Prep. Because COVID has disrupted the ability for colleges to require test scores for admission and scholarships, many colleges are now test-optional. Whether these colleges will remain test-optional is yet to be known. Before COVID, the highest scholarships were awarded to students with high test scores (ACT, SAT and/or CLT). For that reason, spending time and money on your students so that they could adequately prepare for these tests and, taking the tests multiple times in order to raise their scores, was essential to families needing scholarships for their students (and, to be honest, most of us need all the financial help we can get). At this time, GPAs are being used by test-optional colleges when test scores are not available. For that reason, your students should be encouraged to achieve high grades even if that means repeating classes with poor grades.

Dual Enrollment. Taking college-level classes is a win/win for students who are ready and able to pass college-level classes. Not only will your students receive both high school and college credit, but one college class is usually counted as a full high school credit, meaning your students will earn a year’s worth of high school credit in one semester. This will either allow your student to graduate early or to continue taking college classes during high school. Dual enrollment is free in several states, discounted in some states and, oftentimes, discounted by the college. Bryan College offers dual enrollment classes on line four times a year with a $200 scholarship for out-of-state students and, for Tennessee students, the same scholarship is offered once the state DE grant is used. In fact, a Tennessee student can take 30 credit hours with Bryan College for as little as $600 if the student uses the DE grant, the school scholarship and the HOPE. As wonderful as the dual enrollment opportunity is for high school students, it is not without dangers.

As you make plans for your students’ academic future, take comfort in knowing that you have both the freedom and the flexibility to make adjustments as needed in order to improve your students’ homeschooling experience. There is no black-and-white, or right-or-wrong way to do this. Plan, pray, talk to friends, and research options and everything will eventually come together!

Matt and able at graduation

Finishing the Year Well (or maybe not)

allen-taylor-Im94u5EJsVo-unsplashBy this time of the year many homeschooling moms are looking forward to the end of the semester, ready for a summer break.  We want to stay motivated and remain upbeat, encouraging our students to complete their semester projects/co-ops/classes well.  With summer soon approaching your children are ready for the break and, more-than-likely, so are you.   The following suggestion might rain on your parade and I apologize beforehand.  Academia, education, and parent instruction are not entitled to a summer break.  There, I said it, but please allow me to explain.

Deuteronomy 11:19 instructs us to teach our children 24/7.  If you and your children are looking forward to a break from academia then let me suggest that your philosophy of education may need to be tweaked just a little bit.  Before you quit reading, allow me to propose that a change in your philosophy of education that might actually relieve stress and add joy to your family’s homeschooling adventure.  After homeschooling my nine for more than 32 years total, I am now finished!  In the beginning of my journey I thought of myself as a homeschool parent from September until May.  I, too, loved our summer breaks.  When I was challenged to come up with a philosophy of education I was hit with a BFO (blinding flash of the obvious).  Homeschooling was simply an extension to what we were already doing with our children from birth to age 5, but the necessity of putting in writing a plan with specific goals brought an awareness of the need to change my attitude about having a school year, a start date,  an end date, and a summer break!  In the end I was set free from these time constraints and, as a result, found that this new frame of mind actually brought about a new freedom to enjoy time with my children year-around as we took advantage of learning opportunities on a daily basis.

My husband and I were committed to raising our children to:

  • Have a love of learning
  • Be independent learners
  • Be articulate apologists
  • Discover their gifts and talents in order to plan for life after high school

samantha-sophia-NaWKMlp3tVs-unsplash

Of course we created a plan that would, hopefully, ensure success, but being hit in the face with the realization that parenting is a year-around, 24/7 responsibility I decided to quit compartmentalizing our education goals into a limited time frame.  The day this BFO hit I told my children, “We are no longer ‘doing’ school.  We are doing life.”  We were homeschooling co-op style, using unit studies and, because of that method, my children were already familiar with the integration of subjects into the big picture.  With the exception of math we did not really separate and compartmentalize most academic subjects. Embracing a philosophy of education that includes the recognition of day-in and day-out academic opportunities was both appealing and welcoming.  That particular evening we visited my parents and my dad asked, “What did you do in school today?” One of my children replied, “We don’t do school any more.”  The look on his face clearly showed his shock and displeasure.  I quickly shared with him what the child meant by that statement — that instead of thinking that an education starts and ends at a certain time of the day, or year, we were now going to look at every day, all year long, as an opportunity for learning.  After all, isn’t that true for all of us from birth to death?  My dad was a professor at FSU so this response brought a smile to his face.

How did this realization change our lives?  The biggest change was simply a change in mentality.  We continued to take part in co-ops in the fall and in the spring, but instead of being stressed that we were covering everything that needed to be covered academically during those periods we continued to take advantage, daily, of learning opportunities.  This philosophy of education also meant that we did not have to worry about how many days of the year our children were “in class” because every day included the opportunity to learn something new.  Summers, as with most families, brought changes in the schedule, but continued to provide learning opportunities.

When I was in school from K to 12, I developed a “chew up and spit out” technique of learning.  I did well on tests, but I did not develop a love for learning.  In fact, I found school to be so boring that I could not wait to be finished!  Once I began homeschooling my children I quickly developed a love of learning and soon regretted how many years of opportunity to learn I missed out on growing up!  Hearing students say they can not wait to close their last book and never open another book is so disheartening.  These students are missing out on so much by thinking that learning ends at the completion of a degree.

By now you may be asking, “How does one switch from a school mentality to a ‘life is learning’ mentality?”  Thanks for asking!  Realizing the importance of embracing this philosophy is the first step.  Taking steps to ensure that you and your family have a mindset change is next.  This will come about through discussions and by example.  You teach a toddler to count as he goes up and down the stairs.  As you shop with your children, teach them to be aware of prices, to shop frugally, and explain that math will be a part of their lives until they die.  Throughout the day pose questions to your children that will cause them to be curious and then teach them how to find answers to the questions you ask and, eventually, to the questions they will ask!  Let your children know that learning is both fun and fulfilling and model that with your enthusiasm for reading, attending classes, and teaching!  As a family read biographies of famous people who were life-long learners and make a point of discovering what made them famous.  Oftentimes, people achieve success because they are tenacious, persistent, hard working, and open to new ways of thinking.  Sign your children up for conferences, camps, and workshops that will encourage them to have a desire to keep learning, even after they graduate.  When our children attended Summit Worldview Conferences repeatedly heard the phrase, “Readers are leaders.”  My husband and I, along with our children, have enjoyed attending political, worldview, entrepreneurial, theological, and speech and debate conferences over the years.  We love learning and our children know that.

Learning is a life-long adventure.  The sooner we get this message across to our children, the better it will be!  Rather than looking at the end of the semester as an end to the school year, encourage your children to love learning every single day of their lives!

annie-spratt-Mmi_sUHNazo-unsplash

Choosing Courses for a Successful High School Experience

sitting on booksHaving a student entering high school can be intimidating.  You are afraid of messing up.  You want to make sure your child is prepared for life after high school.  You are open to suggestions and eager to find a perfect (and, hopefully, affordable) product.  What you really want is someone to tell you exactly what to do so that you will not mess up.  Am I right?  I hear you! I have some bad news and some good news to share.  The bad news is that there is no “one size fits all” plan for each and every high school student.  The good news is that you have so many wonderful opportunities from which to choose that when you do get everything organized, you can enjoy the high school years!!

What should you do first?  Make a list of what is important for the student to accomplish in high school.  List the subjects you want to include.  If you are homeschooling under an umbrella school and they have requirements, list those as well.  Few states, if any, have laws regarding what a student must take to graduate high school.  They have suggested guidelines.  For those states that have hard-and-fast requirements, include those subjects. Generally speaking, you have a lot of freedom to prepare a fun-filled, productive, amazing high school experience! student with books

You probably have included the basics … reading, writing and arithmetic or, in the case of high school … science, history, English, math and electives.  Right?  And while those are somewhat necessary (more about that later), the school system omits a few disciplines that are vital to preparing a child for life after high school.  Curious?  The disciplines our family included during the high school years are as follows:  current events, logic, speech and debate, apologetics, entrepreneurship, Bible, character, and personal finances. Far too much emphasis is placed on mathematics especially now that we all have calculators, Siri, and Google at our disposal.  Being able to shop frugally, write checks, balance accounts, and take care of personal finances is, in my opinion, much more important and useful than learning Algebra II.  However, there are at least two reasons we must include higher math during high school.  Reason #1: Your child may pursue a degree that requires higher math so he/she best be well trained (this would apply to degrees such as accounting, Engineering, architecture, etc.).  Reason #2:  Most colleges award the highest academic scholarships according to scores from the college entrance exams (ACT, SAT and CLT).  And, unfortunately, almost one-third to one-half of the score comes from the math sections.  Therefore, keep math on your list. If your child does not love math, and he wants to “get it over with” before college, have him dual enroll in math classes in high school.  Not only will the credits be earned early, but taking the college level math classes will more-than-likely improve his math scores on the college exams (which, in turn, will raise scholarship amounts).

Before you complete this list, talk to your high school students about what their interests are and list everything they say.  Seriously.  Everything. Video games?  Put it on the list.  Sports?  Put it on the list.  Cooking? Put it on the list. Fashion and design?  Yes, put that on the list.  One of the primary objectives of parenting is to help your children discover their gifts and talents now so that they will not waste years later switching majors, careers, etc. (although this may happen regardless of how well you plan).

Now that you have a list, divide the subjects over the next four years and figure out which program to use or how to accomplish each goal.  You may be overwhelmed by such a task but, trust me, it can be fun to figure this out and once you have done it the first time, it will get easier next year or with the next student.  Keep in mind that once your students finish 10th grade (and in some cases, sooner) they can dual enroll and earn high school and college credit at the same time.

By the time our 5th child was in high school (we have 9 children), we decided that our high school students would no longer be allowed to hold steady jobs.  I wrote an article about that here. Our primary reason for this was due to the fact that so many opportunities were limited by students holding steady jobs.  We were fine with our children working and earning money, as long as it was not a steady job that tied them down.  When we made that decision it changed the lives of our next 5 high school students.  They went to, or participated in, seminars, conferences, training camps, mission trips, campaigns, and more.  They volunteered to help in many different ways.  They had opportunities that few of their friends could take advantage of because they were tied to steady jobs.  I will get back to the curriculum in a minute, but take a look at what our 5th child too part in while still in high school (in addition to his classes):

  • Attended TeenPact
  • Campaigned in 3 states
  • Spent six weeks in Papua New Guinea
  • Was a counselor in October and in the summer with Worldview Academy
  • Became a Life Guard
  • Directed activities at a summer camp
  • Attended Summit Leadership Camp
  • Protested when Florida demanded the removal of water and food from Terry Schiavo
  • Campaigned for Terry Schiavo’s life
  • Attended Women’s Pregnancy Center banquets
  • Began training to become a male counselor at a Pregnancy Center
  • Joined a Pure Life Team and put on performances at schools
  • Taught Post-Modernism to the staff at the Pregnancy Center
  • Travelled and taught worldview seminars to elementary students
  • Went to Mississippi to clean up after hurricane Katrina
  • Went to an out-of-state 8 day speech and debate training camp
  • Joined a speech and debate team
  • Attended numerous worldview seminars and conferences
  • Took dual enrolled classes

I am sure there are more activities I could add (he was in high school many years ago), but these are the events I remember.

Our family homeschooled co-op style, using unit studies.  By the time my youngest were teens, the co-ops were organized for teens only.  Up until that time we include children of all ages because I enjoyed being with all of my children together at co-op.  We did break into groups, age related, for certain activities but, for the most part, the children learned together.  (This provides much better socialization then putting 30 children of the same age in one room with 1 adult.)

At co-op subjects such as English, history, science and geography were automatically integrated into the unit we were studying.  We purposefully added logic, current events, debate, and more, depending on the study.  We insisted from the beginning that our children had to give public presentations at co-op so they grew up being very comfortable speaking in public.  We speak every day of our lives so why not begin honing that skill at a young age?  Because they had to give presentations, they had to prepare the presentations.  These weekly assignments, during co-op, taught our children how to research and how to write well. They also learned how to use Power Point and how to make videos for their presentations. By the time they became teens we provided additional opportunities to polish their public speaking skills. If you like the idea of having a unit-study style co-op, but have no clue where to start, I have recorded some podcasts that might be helpful (free) here.

You can accomplish most of the mentioned goals whether you start or join a co-op, with the exception of speech and debate.  To accomplish that you will need a co-op or a club.  There are two national homeschool Christian debate leagues, STOA USA and NCFCA.  If you prefer a secular club then check out Toastmasters or ask around to see what else is available in your area.

By now you should have an idea of what to include in the first year of high school and you can begin looking for programs or products that will help your students learn whatever it is you have on the list. You could even develop a unit-study program centered around the student’s primary area of interest.  For instance, say your child is interested in video games.  Have the student research the history of video games, chronologically.  That study alone would include history, English and geography (have him record the locations of where events have taken place).  Find books to read on the lives of those in the gaming industry and require the student to write book reports.  I am sure there are more than one or two ways to include science in this study.  Be creative.  Keep up with what’s going on today in the gaming world (current events).  Find out what it cost to develop and market a game (finances and accounting).  Study the character of those who have succeeded and failed in this industry.  What can be learned from their experiences? Perhaps he can contact some big wigs in the industry and interview them.  During the interview have ask about internship and apprenticeship opportunities. Have your student open a bank account and teach him how to handle his finances.

In addition to classes, have your students take part in community service, join clubs, and attend conferences and seminars.  There are so many extra-curricular activities available that you should be able to find more than a few affordable options to pursue.  If your child excels in sports, music, theater, dance or anything like that, then they should have time to continue playing and training through-out high school.  And, if there are courses your student wants to pursue and you do not feel qualified to teach those subjects, there are often local classes or on-line classes available to join!  We are blessed to have so many options.

student at deskHigh school need not be intimidating or stressful!  As you plan, purchase, and begin using materials keep an open mind as to whether a certain program is worth keeping and finishing or if it should be exchanged for something that better suits your student.  What sounds good in an advertisement might end up being very disappointing.  Why make anyone suffer through finishing something when there are always more options?  (On the other hand, there is something to say about finishing a program regardless of its value in order to teach persistence or if you know your student is simply being lazy.)

Have a talk with your soon-to-be high school student and explain the importance of planning well and working hard during the high school years.  Discuss dual enrollment opportunities.  Dual enrollment is a wonderful option, but it does have its dangers.  I will be posting a blog about that soon. Make a list of interests your child has along with talents you have observed.  Make a plan, but hold to the plan loosely in case it just does not work out well and changes need to be made.  Attend seminars for parents, ask for advice, read books and blogs, and listen to podcasts in order to discover opportunities and to learn from those who have blazed the trail before you!

Start looking at colleges and attend college fairs when possible. Begin looking at the college entrance exams.  There are three now:  ACT, SAT and CLT.  Take practice exams in the 9th and 10th grade and then sign up for the actual exams during the 11th and 12th grades.  The PSAT can be taken earlier than the 11th grade, but it is the score earned during the 11th grade year that determines whether your student has earned a National Merit Scholarship.  Fill out the FAFSA in October of the senior year.

In the past we have found a few resources that have worked well for our family and I will share these here:

Demolishing Strongholds (DVD) This is a video series that teaches about worldviews and teens love it.

American Literature  Apologia publishes this resource and it was written by a homeschool dad, Dr. Whit Jones, who teaches at Bryan College and who is a Classical Conversations tutor.  Using this book entitles the student to both an English and a writing credit. The worldview of each author studied is mentioned, helping the student to have a deeper understanding of the author’s intention.

Bozeman Science  Paul Anderson has made numerous videos teaching both biology and chemistry (labs included).  This is a secular science series, so you may want to be prepared to have some conversations about his take on evolution.  Discussions on evolution are encouraged, regardless of which program you use.

Yay Math  Free on-lin videos. Robert Adhoot can be quite silly, wearing costumes as he teaches, but his explanations make difficult math concepts understandable.

Teaching Textbooks  Although I have not used these, my daughters really like them. Having CDs that are self-grading makes moms happy.

Visual Latin. Several of our children took Latin during high school and these videos, along with the worksheets, are well done and fairly affordable.

36 University  This is an affordable ($15 a month) ACT prep site (on-line). If you register with the code “Bryan” you save $3.  No monthly commitment is necessary.

Princeton Review Cracking the ACT (or the SAT) We used these books during the 11th grade year to learn how to take college entrance exams. Oftentimes it is more about knowing the tricks of the test, than the material covered.

You may have read this article hoping to have a huge list of specific curriculum recommended. Because there are so many choices available, including on-line classes and more, I did not include an exhaustive list of recommendations. However, one of the best resources for recommendations regarding curriculum is the Facebook group called “It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School.”  Once you join it you can search for past discussions, or start a new thread in order to find out almost anything you want to know about homeschooling high school!

If you would like a free e resource that includes a suggested time line for high school, go here and scroll down the page.  Planning for the high school years and choosing curriculum does not have to be daunting!  Embrace the challenge and have fun preparing for the high school years.

Please take a look at the Finally Finished Facebook Page and check there often for updates!

 

Nine Children, Nine Different Paths

This post is written in response to those who have asked me to share more about my nine children and their experiences. It is easy to present an unblemished presentation of our family on social media. And, to be honest, I would rather not air our family’s challenges and failures for all to see unless others can learn from what we share or be encouraged by realizing we aren’t all perfect! This article will share experiences that include college, military, discipleship programs, entrepreneurship, rebellion, divorce, and more. Below is the good, the bad and ugly.

all the kiddosHaving nine children is challenging when it comes to figuring out how best to help each individual child pursue the path they should take.  We made a few mistakes.  One of these mistakes was to push our dreams upon our children, hoping they would live out the life we wanted for ourselves, but had not achieved.  At first we weren’t aware we were doing this and, unfortunately, our oldest suffered from this.  We did prayerfully consider options and choices, but who knows if our hearts were always pure and our motives were right?  It ain’t easy being a parent.  We were also more legalistic with our older children (although we were not as legalistic as some), yet I think we found a balance (eventually) between guiding our children versus giving them total freedom in all things or micro-managing their lives. Letting that leash out a little-at-a-time, until the child is able to handle his/her independence is the goal. That looks different for each child.

Here is a brief summary of each child, followed by a more detailed description of their journey.

#1 One year of college, marriage, missionary in Brasil, returned to TN, full time mother of 3 (whom she homeschools), working on a patent and marketing plan for a product.

#2 Spent two summers with Keynote ministry (performing in a band), one year in a women’s discipleship program, marriage, full time mother of 4 (whom she homeschools)

#3 Left home at 18 without our blessing.  Had a few rough years making poor choices.  Has received numerous certifications, but no college classes.  Self-employed in construction and makes knives from scratch. Hard worker, responsible husband and father. Married with 2 boys.

#4 Joined the army right after high school.   Has been an entrepreneur since age 14.  Finished his degree at FSU.  Is a real estate agent who sells, flips, and rents properties.  Co-owns an Engineering firm.  Married and is a father of 3 who are homeschooled.

#5 Attended two gap year programs, Impact 360 and Summit semester.  He’s still working on his degree as a husband and father of 2.  He taught worldview classes while still in highschool.  He took part in numerous opportunities while in high school (he’s the first child we did not allow to have a steady job in high school).  He staffed at three camps:  Camp Charis, Worldview Academy, and Summit.  He’s a natural speaker and a gifted teacher.  He works full time in Colorado Springs while taking classes.

#6 Took part in two video internships after high school.  Staffed at Summit in Colorado where she met her husband.  Married with one 2 year old daughter.  She and her husband are full time videographers.  They were voted “Best Videographers” in Colorado Springs in 2016.

#7 Attends Bryan College, mostly because he loves to play baseball and college allowed him to continue playing.  He will graduate this year with a degree in Communications.  He will, more-than-likely, get a job coaching baseball or he will work for one of his brothers.  He is quite skilled in lawn maintenance, and is a skilled helper in all things construction.

#8 Spent her senior year at a public school (taking 3 math classes and maintaining a 4.0 GPA) and is in nursing school in Florida. She wants to travel after graduating and, at this time, wants to live on a houseboat somewhere.

#9 He attends Bryan College and wants to double major.  He loves learning and he’s a gifted teacher.  Who knows where he will end up.  He also is quite skilled in lawn maintenance and is a jack-of-all trades in construction.  He  is a blessing to have around when he’s home because he is willing and able to take on my many projects.  He wants to develop multiple streams of income so he can be free to do whatever or go wherever he wants.

Now for the details, for those who want to know more.  I will start with the oldest and go down the list.

Information on the first born will be the longest post since, as the oldest, this one was our guinea pig (poor thing).   Our first child was born after seven years of marriage.  We desperately wanted a large family and for a while it looked like it would never happen.  By the time our13178631_10154635690926729_3339336927125588423_n daughter was born we were so ready to be parents.  She was the first grandchild on my side of the family and she immediately melted the hearts of aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  She has not just one, but two entire photo albums (don’t even has about the 9th child and his photos).  We were determined she would be the brightest and she cooperated with our plans by memorizing over 50 Bible verses by the time she was 4 years old.  As a child, I always wanted to take gymnastic classes, but was not allowed.  So what did we do? We enrolled our daughter in gymnastics at a very young age.  At age five a coach saw that she could do a press  and suggested she join a competitive team.  For years gymnastics was a part of her life.  She went to many practices each week and to many competitions over the years.

She loved the Lord and she would line up her stuffed animals and preach to them.  She was active, fun, and obedient.  She was a joy to raise.  What I didn’t learn about my daughter until years later was that she and I are quite different in our make-up.  She’s a perceiver and I am obtuse.  She sees life as black or white, with little gray.  Because of this she demanded perfection of herself and never felt adequate.  It wasn’t until I had her take the test in the book Discovering Your Children’s Gifts that I realized what made her so different than myself.  All of my friends loved this child and would have been thrilled to have her marry their sons.  She had a rather small number of close friends and that was due to the fact that she was as demanding of her friends to be righteous as she was of herself, and that limited her friendships.  The friends she did have were great friends and they were loyal to each other.  In high school she played volleyball and basketball with teams at a local Christian school that allowed homeschoolers to join their teams.  She played quite well (it was always all or nothing) and she received an invitation from Bryan College and Tennessee Temple (both in TN while we lived in FL) to try out for basketball scholarships.  Don and I were ecstatic.  We had gone to a Bible college and loved our years there, but that college was defunct so we were hoping she would attend a sound Christian college.  We assumed, at this time, that every child should go to college.  Those thoughts changed later.  She tried out for both teams and was offered a scholarship from each school.  By this time, she had heard Jeff Myers speak multiple times (he was a professor at Bryan College at this time) and she had attended Summit at Bryan College. We decided this was the best choice for her.  She was not as convinced.  She wanted to go to Word of Life for a year, but that did not come with a scholarship and we felt that the Lord was directing her path by what we could afford so Bryan was the choice. Looking back I wonder if we limited her choices by our lack of faith.  Who knows?  We were not willing to go into debt so we did not really give Word of Life serious consideration.

1267727_1394949340735801_1889005447_oAnother regret is not preparing her for college tests.  We homeschooled co-op style so until she entered college she had never taken an exam until she took the SAT and then the ACT.  She is a smart child, but we did not prepare her well for those exams and she was embarrassed by her score. I did not put much emphasis on these test because I felt like they are not good indicators of whether a student will succeed in college, or not. Once I finally  realized (it took years) the importance of preparing our students for these tests I made changes accordingly.

We moved our family from Florida to Tennessee so that she could live at home.  This was partly selfish on our part.  Having never lived outside of Florida, coupled with the fact that the cost of living in Dayton was so low that we could live there for about the cost of room and board for our daughter, we decided to live in Tennessee. Moving to the mountains was an exciting adventure. That first year of college was difficult for this daughter for many reasons.  As the oldest, we put a lot of responsibility on her (probably too much).  She was contributing financially to the family in addition to being a full time student and a sister to 8 younger siblings.  I had an emergency hysterectomy that year and she and my next oldest daughter helped me recuperate afterwards while my husband was in Florida working.   She was a great student and she enjoyed her classes.  That year she met her future husband and she exchanged her college degree for her MRS.  After marriage she and her husband joined Wycliffe as missionaries (her husband was raised in Brasil where his parents were missionaries for more than 40 years) and moved to Brasil.  They have since have moved back to Tennessee and they have 3 children whom they are homeschooling this year.  She has had several business over the years and right now she is in the process of patenting and marketing a product idea.  If there were a homeschool graduate who could write a blog entitled, “What My Parents Did Wrong,” it would be our oldest.  But, fortunately, she’s understanding and forgiving.

Our second born is married and lives in Colorado with her husband and their 4 boys 26195550_10214261053614056_402097111182456938_n whom she homeschools.  She, too, was a competitive gymnast and she played basketball and volleyball in high school.  When we moved to Tennessee she lost all opportunities to play sports as a homeschooled student and she was devastated.  She begged us to let her go to high school her senior year.  We began the process, but had our doubts that this was a good decision.  The night before the final paperwork was due my husband and I both realized we should not proceed with this plan.  We were about to drop the news on her when our oldest daughter called her sister and said, “You can’t go to high school this year.  It’s our last year to spend time together before I get married. Don’t do it.”  So, before we had to tell her that we had changed our minds, she informed us she wanted to be homeschooled that year.  This part of the story is a wonderful example of how the Lord works in the lives of our children to direct their paths.

No longer able to play the sports she loved, she picked up her guitar and began writing music.  She wrote beautiful songs and we love hearing her sing.  She found out about Keynote, a ministry with CRU, and traveled with a band performing all over the United States the next two summers.  By this time we were not pushing college like we had with our oldest.  On one of her trips with the band the students were sharing where they were going to college and many shared that their parents insisted they attend college, taking out loans to pay tuition.  When our daughter shared that she wasn’t planning on going to college and that we were supportive of that decision the students were both surprised and a little envious.  We were more than content keeping her at home when she wasn’t traveling with the bands.  She began looking at different programs and options and came across a one year women’s biblical discipleship program in Denton, Texas.  When she shared their information with me I noticed that they only accepted college graduates. Calling the lady in charge, I asked if they would consider allowing our daughter to be a part of the program even though she was not a college graduate and they said they would consider that, but that they wanted to interview her in person.  We were in Florida, this was in Texas.  We looked at her band traveling schedule to see if the band was going anywhere near Denton, Texas.  Not only was the band going to Denton, but they were performing at the church where this program takes place (Denton Bible Church).  She was interviewed and accepted into the program.

Here is another regret we have.  In our zeal to be great parents we decided that rather than letting this daughter live with other women in this program, with total freedom, we would have her live with a Christian family.  We thought she would become like a member of the family and have surrogate parents.  The family was quite nice, and they rented our daughter a room in their home.  Unfortunately, and this is not their fault, our daughter was mostly left to herself so now, outside of the classes and work, she was alone in a room.  This was difficult for her.  Having come from a family with 9 children, she was rarely alone.  Having some alone time is nice, but being alone all the time is not-so-nice.  If we could go back we would have allowed her to live with the other girls in the program.  She met her husband while in Texas and, as mentioned above, they now live in Colorado and homeschool their boys.  She has worked several times at jobs where her children could be with her and she has worked from home as well.  Right now she’s a full-time wife, mother, and chauffeur as 3 of the 4 boys play soccer.  She has also begun writing her own curriculum and I am encouraging her to publish it when she is done so that others can use it.

Our oldest son is strong willed, independent, yet also sensitive and kind.  During high school he worked at a steady job, but he also attended co-op.  One day his work schedule changed and instead of having to work he was available for co-op.  By the way, we eventually quit allowing our high school students to have steady jobs and I wrote about that here.  He informed us he was not going to co-op but was going to hang out with his friends.  We told him that while he was living in our home he would do what we asked.  He had just turned 18 and so he packed up and moved out.  The first night he slept in his car and then he found a bedroom to rent in a trailer with a senior citizen.  The next few years (maybe more than a few) were filled with concern, worry, and anguish.  Our son became friends with less-than-wonderful young men and begin making choices that were not wise.  He got into trouble numerous times and, except for the grace of God, could easily have been killed or sent to prison.  He did spend time in jail and that was quite hard on this mama. During these rough years we loved him unconditionally and always welcomed him home.

He heard me repeat an H. G. Wells quote to him more times than I can remember.  The 21032480_1429211470494348_1425784324544583675_nquote is this, “If there is no god, nothing matters.  If there is a God, nothing else matters.”  By this time our son was not happy with God.  He did not want conviction for his actions, and he wanted God to be Santa Claus, granting his every wish.  Fortunately, he made it through these years and is now in a good place.  His first marriage produced a son, who is now 11, but that marriage dissolved.  His second marriage did not even last a year.  He’s happily married now to a wonderful gal and they just had a baby boy.  Our son has always been a very hard worker.  He is not afraid to try anything, he’s quite skilled in all things construction and he makes knives from scratch.  For a few years he was probably the highest paid sibling, working in the oil industry in Colorado.  He and his wife moved back to the south so he quit that job and he now owns his own construction company (still making knives on the side).  Although he never has taken accredited college classes, he has taken numerous courses to become certified in the industries in which he has been employed.  He is quick to see opportunities and will do what it takes to take part in those opportunities.  He won the Florida alligator lottery and has caught and killed one ten foot gator (and he has one more chance for a second gator).  He is our family comedienne and during reunions he keeps us all in stitches.  He is also quite the cook.

Next is son number two (4th child).  This son is the entrepreneur in the family.  During 22218349_10156566936831729_2714762520516199486_ohigh school he was flipping cars, trailers, and scooters before he could drive.  His construction experience is extensive and impressive and he could practically rebuild an engine in a car while still in high school.  He loved all things mechanical and disdained books.  He attended co-op (because he had to), but loved working with his hands.  It wasn’t until he became involved in Civil Air Patrol that he cared about books.  Because he wanted to advance in rank he began studying like crazy.  The Civil Air Patrol loved having him involved because we allowed him to go out on search and rescue missions at all times of the day and night.  After all, he could catch up on sleep and school work later!  (Never miss out on opportunities simply because you are concerned that school work will be neglected.  Opportunities often provide a much richer learning experience than any text book could provide.)  When four hurricanes hit Florida one year he was the commander of his unit and so he was asked to go out with the Governor’s Task Force to assess damage.  He saw that the guard could do so much more than he was allowed to do and so he asked to join the army.

Before the army we took him to an entrepreneur conference in N. Alabama.  Rhea Perry put on this conference.  At first he was not real happy with us because the conference took place during the weekend of his 16th birthday and he had to miss a Civil Air Patrol event and a youth group event.  However, as soon as the speakers began speaking he was excited and became convinced that this event was well worth his time.  Later, he joined the army and began training in Special Forces.  He knew how to iron, sew and polish boots so he was often paid by the other soldiers to take on those tasks for them.  He jumped out of a plane and broke his foot. He is not one to sit around idle so during his recuperation he studied to become a real estate agent in Florida and when he was allowed to return home one weekend he took and passed the test and became an agent. (He also took it upon himself to cut off his cast and he left it laying on my bed.  Crazy boy.)  He bought his first house while in the army for next-to-nothing and began renting it out.  He would find items on the side of the road and post them on Craigslist, not for money, but in exchange for fast food meals or to trade for other items.  His stories kept us spellbound and in stitches.  When he got out of the army he finished his education at FSU.  He pursued a degree because he knew he would be better respected (silly, but true) and the army paid for it.  Now he’s married and a father of three who continues to buy, flip, sell and rent real estate.  He, too, has won the Florida gator lottery and last Christmas his wife and his siblings received a gator wallet, belt, or purse.  He co-owns an Engineering firm and dabbles in many different businesses.  I love when he visits because he likes to stay busy.  At Easter he changed out one of my toilets and took all the men present (including my 2 youngest sons) in the bathroom with him to show them how it is done.  This past Labor Day he came up for a wedding nearby and put in a sink and cabinet in my basement Airbnb. He is generous as is evidenced by his quick response to anyone in need.

Son number three (5th child) is the middle of nine.  He has always loved learning and teaching.  During high school he took part in many activities.  He spent six weeks in Papua New Guinea while in high school.  He attended two gap year programs after high school. The first is Impact 360, developed by Chic fil A family members, located in Pine Mountain, Georgia.  At this program he read great books, listened to many amazing speakers, took part in the Chic fil A leadership program, and flew to store openings on the corporate jet with Dan Cathy and went to Europe.  He received college credit from Union University while at Impact 360.  After that he attended the Summit Semester gap program in Colorado.  He had attended Summit Leadership Camps numerous times and staffed for them as well.  He taught worldview classes while still in high school, so attending this program made sense.  He met his wife while in Colorado and they live there with their 2 children.  He is still working on his degree.  It has been a slow process due to births of babies and the death of his mother-in-law after she was diagnosed with cancer fairly recently.  He is now employed at a video advertising agency in Colorado.  At one time I suggested he CLEP out of classes in order to finish sooner (and affordably) but he loves learning and he loves sitting under professors so he did not want to take that route.  Unfortunately, he soon learned that not all professors are great at teaching and some classes are more laborious than they are educational or entertaining.  More regrets come along with this son’s story.  He had such an amazing portfolio that I knew colleges would want him to apply, and they did!  Unfortunately his top choices were expensive colleges and their largest scholarships were tied to college exam scores.  At this time I had not been convinced of the value of high test scores.  Unfortunately, this hurt him.  His scores were okay, but they were not high enough to earn the large scholarships so his choices were limited.  Had I been aware of the importance of high scores I would have encouraged him to take an entire semester preparing for the college entrance exams in order to increase the score so he could earn larger scholarships.

Next is another daughter (child #6).  This daughter wanted to be a videographer and image1 (1)photographer after high school, but she told me she wanted to go to college.  When I asked her why, the best response she could give was that her friends were all in college.  When we visited local schools and found out how limited the classes in videography and photography were, coupled with what the classes would cost, she was quick to agree that an internship might be better.  After asking our local homeschool friends if they could recommend any local Christian videographers, I was referred to two different companies.  Both hired my daughter.  They taught different types of videography which was great for my daughter.  One man did not pay my daughter in the beginning and, in fact, may have taken slight advantage of her having her clean his garage and babysit his daughter.  However, once he had trained her enough to be helpful to him he did begin paying her.  She learned a lot and does not regret this internship.  The other company began paying her $10 an hour immediately so not only was she learning, she was earning money.  She staffed at Summit in Colorado one summer and was on the video team.  She met her husband while there and once they were married he joined her in the videography business and that is what they do full time.  In 2016 they received the best videographer award in Colorado Springs.  They have a two-year-old daughter and hope to enlarge their family via birth and adoption.  They also own an Airbnb and hope to purchase additional rentals in the future. They plan to have multiple streams of income so that they are free to travel and visit family and friends, and take part in ministry opportunities as they arise.

1462779_10205241112975880_1966266156158843592_oNext is the fourth son (7th child) who will graduate Bryan College this year.  When he was in high school we were living back in Florida.  After discovering that if a senior in high school completes his senior year in Rhea County he can receive a substantial scholarship to Bryan College we decided to move back to Tennessee with this son for his senior year.  In addition, if a student has lived in Tennessee for a year or more he can qualify for the HOPE scholarship which provides college funds from the lottery.  Between the county scholarship and the HOPE grant, most of his tuition at Bryan would be covered.  Also, by this time homeschoolers could now play sports with the public schools in Tennessee (finally) so he could continue playing baseball with the local high school team.  He played baseball and we spent his senior year studying to the college exams because the scholarships he needed were tied to test scores. (It took me a while, but I finally admitted that test scores are key to making college affordable.) He was one point short of the score he needed at the end of his senior year so, upon the suggestion of a counselor, I kept him in high school one more semester and he spent most of his time taking dual enrolled classes at Bryan while studying to increase his score on the test.  He made the score he needed and began full time at Bryan mid-year. His only passion, at this time, was baseball so he was okay with going to college since it meant he could continue playing ball.  The academic degree is a bonus.  Last year he red shirted so instead of playing he helped coach the JV team. His coach recently told me that he has quite the coaching skills and that he can easily get a job after college as a coach.  In the summer of 2016 he went to Colorado for the summer to be with siblings and, while there, he worked for my daughter’s in-laws on their lawn crew.  He saw batting cages at a high school and called to see if he could use the cages.  They said he could use the cages if he volunteered to help coach the baseball team.  He was also asked to join a summer college team and play ball while there!  He interned with his brother’s company this past summer and found he enjoyed that experience as well.  Who knows what he will do after college.  It will be exciting to see!

Our fourth daughter (child #8) is next.  She wanted to attend public school her senior 18893435_1700637523283894_2691769474246184066_nyear for many reasons, including feeling inadequate as a homeschooled student and because many of her friends had done this and had great experiences.  Although I did not think it was the best choice (it meant 3 hours a day on a bus), I knew if a child could handle this well, it would be this daughter.  When I first turned in her transcript I gave her a 3.85 GPA.  When she argued that she should have a 4.0 I realized she was right so I called the counselor and sheepishly asked her to throw away that transcript so that I could replace it with a transcript showing a 4.0 GPA.  The school required my daughter to take 3 maths to graduate that year so she took Geometry, Algebra II, and Physics.  By the second week in physics I could no longer help her study unless she provided me with an answer key.  (My hat is off to physic majors.)  She graduated with a 4.0 and attended Bryan College for one year.

Let’s go back to the high school experience for a minute.  The teachers and the boys befriended her.  The girls, on the other hand, were very stand-offish to her.  The geometry teacher offered candy to students who caught his mistakes.  She received a lot of free candy.  She was shocked (small country town) that students had chew in their pockets and many were already parents.  The students were surprised to found out how little worldly experience my daughter had.  They were first surprised at my daughter’s lack of dating experiences.  Then they asked about drinking and were shocked to hear that she had never been drunk.  Then they asked about her driving record and couldn’t believe she had never had a ticket.  (The education she received at public school this year was far more than academic.)  When she would complain I would say, “I have a solution…” and she would say, “I don’t want a solution, I want empathy.”  To be honest, it was a hard year for both of us.

During her first year at Bryan she realized she wanted to become a nurse so she moved back to Florida and is now in nursing school there.  After becoming a nurse, Courtlyn worked with midwives for several years before moving to Uganda where she is now a full time missionary. 22519263_1841315492549429_1641699557761863157_n

During nursing school Courtnlyn was in a near fatal car wreck in Amarillo, Texas. She was cut out of her small car that was t-boned by a semi and life flighted to a hospital. My husband and I went out immediately as did 7 of our children (the oldest couldn’t make it).  She was in ICU for a week, followed by a week in a regular room after surgery.  Her recuperation is amazing and all of her injuries will heal, eventually.  Meanwhile, she struggled to keep up with school, but she did it!  Most students probably would not even try after going through all she’s been through, but she’s a fighter.  Of my four girls, she will be the first (and perhaps the only daughter) to graduate college.

25659875_1917257178288593_1346852226346834466_nBringing up the end of the line is son #5 who is a Sophomore at Bryan College.  This son is a jack-of-all trades and a master of several.  In addition to working with his hands, he loves to learn and he is a natural teacher.  He is also a deep thinker and conversations with him can last for hours.  He wants to double major in philosophy, and psychology.  He hopes to earn a free Master’s Degree at Bryan when he graduates with a 3.5 GPA or higher.  Right now he has a 4.0 GPA.  He is skilled in many aspects of construction, and wants to be a master electrician.  He is also well trained in lawn maintenance.  In addition, he owns a Harley Davidson motorcycle and he would like to become a Harley mechanic. He has also taught himself to play guitar and piano and his written more than a few songs (which we love and want him to record).  His writing skill is quite impressive and he’s begun writing two books.  There are not enough hours in the day for this boy. He should graduate college with several majors unless he is drawn away by one of his many interests.  He, too, would like to have multiple streams of passive income so he can be free to travel, continue learning, and take advantage of programs when available.  Anytime I mention a project I need done, he is on it.  One day he mowed my grass, changed out 3 outside lights to motion sensor lights, added 4 new outdoor outlets for my Airbnb and took care of a few smaller projects too. He is one of the favorites of all of the nieces and nephews because he is willing to be chased, caught, and pummeled for hours on end.

As you can see, each child is different and each has enjoyed a variety of different experiences.  Most of my children worked at a camp beginning at age 12.  Most attended TeenPact, Wordview Academy and Summit Ministries Leadership Camps. Many dual enrolled.  Many have worked in political campaigns. Most have enjoyed sports and most have had their own businesses.  They participated in many ministry and community projects over the years.  Several own Airbnbs and/or rental properties.

One of the best things I can say about my children is that they love each other and they love children.  When the college kids have a break, what do they do?  They go and visit siblings.  When a new baby is born into the family (15 grands so far) they fight to be the first one to hold the baby.  When a need in the family is shared, they all come to the rescue. One time we heard that a son, out-of-state, was out of money and had his phone cut off.  This was not accurate information, but before we found that out, many had deposited funds into their brother’s account, including one son who was only about 14 and he donated $100 to his brother.  My kiddos are quite generous and when needs arise, they respond.  They hold their money loosely.  I could not be more proud of them and, this is in spite of our mistakes.  So, take heart.  Even if you do make mistakes (and you will), God can lead and guide our children to the place they should be in spite of us!  The road may be bumpy and it may take twists and turns that are hard to traverse, but it will be worth it in the end.  So, hang in there!  Pray for your children and help them discover their gifts and talents so that they will end up being blessed and being a blessing to others.

 

Encouragement for the New Year

contemplative momBy this time of the year many homeschooling families are in a slump, suffering a lack of energy to continue their homeschooling adventure with purpose and excitement.  The new year is also a time that parents, frustrated with the public school system, consider homeschooling their students. Whether homeschooling is a brand new idea or you are suffering burn out, there’s something for you here. Having finally completed my homeschool journey with my nine children (more than 30 years total), I will share some thoughts that will provide encouragement and help to those in need. Included in the remarks below are a few suggestions to consider as well as links to recommended resources and websites.

Let’s start off with three reading recommendations:

  1. This article, Building Soul Spaces, will touch your heart. Seriously, take the time to read this. You will be glad you did.buildingsoulspaces
  2. The book Mere Motherhood, by Cindy Rollins, is a must read especially for those with large families or for those who feel as if they are not accomplishing enough. Cindy’s description of morning time may be the motivation you need to make changes accordingly.
  3. Sarah McKenzie’s book, Teaching from Rest, presents a great picture of what a restful homeschooling experience looks like. If you are stressed and anxious about your homeschooling journey, this is a great read for you.

Now, for a few practical suggestions. Make homeschooling an extension to life rather than a separate beast to overcome.  Curriculum is a tool we use, and not something to which we should be enslaved. You taught your child from birth to age 5 without any curriculum, right?  Teaching came naturally during the early years! If what you’ve been using is not working, consider dropping it, saving it for later, or replace it with something better.

Encourage your children to love learning and then teach them how to ask questions and find the answers. Three-year-olds love to ask, “Why?”  It may get tiring, but encouraging constant questions keeps your child in a state of wonder, always eager to learn more. As you discover your children’s gifts and talents, family fishingmake opportunities for them to excel in those areas.

Prioritize character! Respectful and obedient children are much easier and less stressful to live with! Be sure you include ministry opportunities that involve your children. Again, do not be afraid to switch gears and try something else if what you are doing is not working. Provide opportunities for your children to give presentations so they can hone their public speaking skills. Teach from a biblical worldview. Take field trips. Visit museums. Play games. Read aloud often. Get together with friends at least once a week (join or start a co-op). Enjoy the years while your kiddos are home because, in the a blink of an eye, they will be grown!

Making school an extension to life does not mean you have to avoid curriculum. Being a huge fan of unit studies we did not separate our studies into separate subjects (for the most part) but, rather, integrated most subjects into a unit of study. When homeschooling is an extension to life, then learning takes place everyday and the pressure to keep a record of school days is relieved because every day provides opportunities for learning.  Our children did attend co-op one day a week and we often took part in additional classes thatchildren by fence interested the children. Homeschooling co-op style was a huge blessing for our family due to sharing the workload, offering socialization, and providing a safe and friendly audience for presentations (and I loved, loved, loved having all of my children together). (For free podcasts on homeschooling co-op style, go here!) During the elementary and middle school years there is much freedom for homeschooling families to determine what works best with your family. Once a student begins high school a parent must be intentional about preparing the students to succeed after high school whether that is college, career, ministry, marriage and parenting, or a combination of several options!

Many parents are often perplexed by their children’s lack of ambition (with the exception of desiring to be on a phone or playing video games). How does one encourage a strong work ethic? Children these days have it easy compared to those who lived years ago or as compared to those who live on a farm, having to get up at dawn and work until evening. If jobs are not readily available then families need to gardeningcreate work and demand excellence, according to the child’s skills and maturity. One of my friends (who has 11 children) makes her child repeat a job 10 times if he/she does not do it right the first time. She discovered that it does not take very many times before a child becomes determined to do a job right the first time.  I have another friend whose motto was, “If someone’s working, we all work.” My children will tell you they heard me say, repeatedly, “Many hands make light work.” Let your children know that work comes before play. Demand obedience, excellence, and be consistent.

Even when everything is going as planned, parents often worry that their children might be behind. Behind what?  Behind who? I suggest you strike those words from your vocabulary. Every family is unique. Your children may excel in some areas while they may be slower in other areas.  It is not a race.  There should be no comparison.  When life gets in the way and formal academics are neglected the schedule may change, but lessons are still learned.  Whether it’s a move, a death in the family, an emergency, working on character issues, or for any other reason, switching gears does not mean that your students are getting behind.

Below are fifteen lessons I learned over the course of my many years of homeschooling:

  1. Your child’s relationship with the Lord and with the family is more important than anything else.
  2. Children of all ages love to be read aloud to, especially when the book is a great book.
  3. Instilling a strong work ethic goes a long, long way (both in lessening the work load at home and in preparing a child to be a responsible adult).
  4. Children can do chores at quite a young age. Their work may not be perfect, but boy cutting carrotstheir skills will improve (eventually).  Hint for large families:  Assign “chores for life or until you state otherwise” so that you always know who is not doing their chore or who is doing their chore well! (No more chore charts.)
  5. Stress is lessened when learning is fun and exciting. Read Cheaper by the Dozen to see how one dad made learning unique and oftentimes fun (this book is nothing like the movie of the same title, by the way).
  6. We speak every single day so be intentional about planning speaking opportunities with your children and public speaking skills will be honed at a young age. (As mentioned, once a week co-ops are perfect for this.)  There are many Christian homeschool speech and debate leagues. Two of the most popular are STOA and NCFCA
  7. Planning studies around areas of interest to you and your children facilitates learning.
  8. Identifying false logic and avoiding the use thereof is a great skill and something that should be taught during the high school years, if not before.
  9. Learning how to properly debate is invaluable and very helpful with conflict resolution.  Whether your students compete, or not, joining a speech and debate club will provide much insight and experience with speech and debate skills. (See clubs mentioned in #6 above.)
  10. No one can know everything. Being curious and knowing how to find information is more useful in the long run than memorized facts. If you teach your child how to find information then you never have to worry about what you may have left out. Listen to  Sir Ken Robinson talk about how schools kill creativity!
  11. Having (or starting) a home business is a wonderful way to teach students practical consumer lessons (while earning money).
  12. Knowing what to expect during the high school years is a must.  One of my regrets is missing out on opportunities that I did not even know about until it was too late.  For this reason I have put together a free E-Resource for homeschooling parents.  (Request a free copy here.)
  13. Whether you agree that college entrance exams are adequate indicators of a student’s ability to be a good student or not, the reality is that most colleges award academic scholarships according to test scores.  For this reason it is important that you prepare your students accordingly if they are headed to college and financial scholarship is needed. Although every student will not go to college, it is better to be prepared and not go that route than to not be prepared and end up scrambling to make it work at a late date.
  14. There are no black and white formulas for success.  (If there were I would write a book and make millions.)
  15. Parenting is hard, but God is good and prayer is your best friend.

If you find yourself suffering from burn-out mid-year, do not despair. Take a deep breath, prioritize, and make changes that will lessen your stress and increase the enjoyment of your homeschooling journey. If you are brand new to homeschooling, welcome to our world! And, if you did not read the first article referenced above, here’s the link. Read it right now. You’ll be glad you did!

I am the Homeschool Specialist at Bryan College and love telling families about Bryan. Feel free to email me if you have questions or if you want to know more about Bryan College! Email:  pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu

If you are on Facebook, “like” our page to stay up-to-date with what’s going on at the college!  https://www.facebook.com/homeschoolstudents/