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I know what you’re thinking.

Summer is half over.

Maybe you are even looking ahead to a summer start on the new school year.

But, even year round homeschoolers choose a different pace of life in the summer.

There’s swimming to be done

and vacationing,

slow starts and lazy afternoons.

Perfect for reading.

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

– Henry James

The good news is summer’s not over yet!

There’s still time to slow down and reach your reading goals.

Summer Reading Goals for Rockstar Status

Have you set up any reading goals for yourself or with your kids for the summer?

Summer reading goals could help you to:

  • Catch up– in an area that needs some attention
  • Practice skills– to keep them sharp especially for emerging readers
  • Read aloud– and keep the habit alive in the summer when your routine is not as reliable
  • Discuss books with your teens– when they might have more time
  • Listen to narrations– this is a primary way for me to keep up with my kids’ reading
  • Rest– and sit for a while to enjoy a good book
  • Tackle your book list– my family is always adding to and checking off items on their book list, including my husband
  • Provide down time– for everyone which we all need sometimes if our summer schedules aren’t slow
  • Make reading a part of life– no matter season of life you are in
Ways to Reach Your Summer Reading Goals My husband Dan is clicking right through is list of top 100 Science Fiction books with a few detours for the fantasy titles our teens keep handing him! Do you share books together?

So, how do we reach our summer reading goals when one our main goal may be to rest and enjoy the summer?

I’ve got a few ideas for you that have helped us.

Remember

  • Name your goals– write them down. List them out. See them written out. We can’t reach our goals if we don’t know what they are!
  • Set a time of day– when are you are likely to read alone or with your kids and do it! Remember D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) time?
  • Keep your goals realistic– if your list is too long and margin is hard to find this summer, you will have a hard time reaching your target
  • Challenge yourself and your kids– while you don’t want to set yourself up to fail, you do want to stretch yourself some so you can feel accomplished!
  • Include some fun snacks– for your planned reading time and read aloud together
  • Read Aloud– a perennial favorite of many families and summer is a great time to enjoy reading together. Make time for it in the summer and keep connecting through story worlds!
  • Take your reading on location– head to a cool library or a coffee shop to read and have discussions about what you are reading
  • Head outside– read under a tree, in a hammock (one of our daughter’s favorite places), on a blanket, or take a book to the pool or the lake
  • Host a book club– for friends and family. Enjoy good conversation and themed foods!
Summer Reading on Location
We installed this Little Free Library at the park behind our home in memory of my dad who passed away in May, 2018. We celebrated his life and dedicated the library in May, 2019.

This post wouldn’t be as much fun without some ideas for you on where to take your reading on location.

These are places we’ve read aloud together,

or read on our own (but these make fantastic read aloud locales!).

Some are places we wish we could read!

  • Around the campfire– at your backyard ring or while camping
  • In a tree– my kids used to do this all the time in the climbing tree in the front yard of our old house. They have great memories of this!
  • On a swing– maybe a tree swing! Or the ordinary kind.
  • In a tent– special points if it’s raining! We enjoyed The Green Ember this way.
  • Under a tree– when you can’t climb it. Is there anything more quintessentially summer?
  • On playground equipment– on a quiet day at the park when some low key time is a good idea
  • At the beach on a blanket– when play time is wearing people out, stop a moment to enjoy a favorite read together
  • On a park bench– with a special view
  • In a hammock– a big one for reading together and a single for some solitary reading
  • Near your favorite window– any of us lucky enough to have a window seat? We have glorious windows all over our home, but none with a seat built in.
  • On your porch– one of my favorite places in all the world is my back porch which I have affectionately named, The Porch of Happiness.
  • In a fort– build your own fun reading nook on a hot summer afternoon in your air conditioned home! We had a cardboard castle my husband made after we read Henry & Mudge did the same on a wet yuck day. That castle was in our house for many years and it provided a lot of quiet reading moments for our kids!
  • At a local shop or restaurant– grab a snack and enjoy on a hot summer day!
  • Audio books in the car– on a road trip or errands around town
  • On the sofa– pick your favorite and slow down for just a moment to enjoy a story world. This one has no threshold for the fun. You just snag the book and your kids and start reading. In fact, the kids are optional because once you start reading, they will come around- especially if you’ve established a reading culture in your home.

Can you add your favorites to my list?

Does your family have a special reading spot?

Share yours in the comments!

Our Summer Reading Goals Check out this new to us title from Brandon Sanderson- Skyward! Our family loves all things science fiction and fantasy!

All of us have been working on summer reading. Here’s a list of the types of books we wanted to read during our time off.

  • Old Favorites– Books we want to revisit over and over again and summer is a good time to immerse yourself in a favorite world.
  • Challenging– Something a little more difficult that makes us think
  • Next in a series– Enjoy more of a world we’ve begun learning about
  • New– something totally new we haven’t read before or been in the world before
  • Informational– This is the learning category like non-fiction gems related to something you want to learn more about

I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.

– C.S. Lewis

What sorts of books would you add your summer list?

Our Summer Book List

Each of us has a book we are reading right now.

Some of us are getting a lot of reading in

and some are working more slowly on our list.

Here’s our book summer book list:

  • The Penderwicks– I’m reading this through again and I hope to read the rest of the series for myself. My kids have all finished them except some of them have not read the last book.
  • The Great Divorce– my 20yo and I are reading this while he’s home for the summer
  • The Horse & His Boy– my teen boys and I are reading through Narnia together again
  • On the Shores of Silver Lake– my boys and I are reading through this series again (we’re hitting books my youngest doesn’t remember as well when we read them the first time)
  • The Long Winter– fun to read on hot summer nights!
  • Little Town on the Prairie– hands down one of our favorites. Human nature has not changed in the last 150 years!
  • Coot Club– the 5th in the Swallows & Amazons series
  • The Return of the King– my rising senior and I are finishing this together. He’s read it. It’s my first time through.
  • All Things Brandon Sanderson– my husband and three of our kids are reading through multiple series of his. Oh the conversations and shared worlds!
  • The Read Aloud Family– reading more in this lovely book
  • The Enchanted Hour– I heard about this book on a podcast and had to read it for myself!
  • The Brave Learner– bought this just before it released and have not finished it
  • A Circle of Quiet– reading along with the mom book club at the Read Aloud Revival
  • Pioneer Girl– I’ve been reading this one for a long time. It’s not a particularly easy read because of all the annotations. I’ll call this one a savoring!

Ok, so this brings me to a question about how you read!

Do you read one book at a time and read it all the way through? Or do you skip around and read a little of this and a little of that depending on how the book is going or how many things you want to read?

Can you guess which one I am?

One look at my Kindle library should tell you the answer!

In fact, that’s one of my favorite things about reading on a Kindle!

I can take a million books with me and begin reading a book of my choice- whatever that is at the time.

It’s an especially helpful habit as a voracious reader of information- which is my favorite kind of reading!

Pro Tip- if you use a Kindle, one way I remember which titles I want to read when I come across someone’s suggestion is to download the sample. Then every time I open my library, I see that book and when I can, I can get the full version.

Need more pro tips on using and reading on a Kindle? 6 Awesome Things You Need to Know to Become a Kindle Pro lists all the ways a Kindle enhances your reading. Do you know how to use your Kindle well?

More on Summer Reading
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So, it’s July!

How’s your reading game this summer?

Be inspired to pick up an old favorite

or something new to challenge you

or something to learn from.

Tell me what you’re reading!

The post Who Else Wants to be a Summer Reading Rockstar? appeared first on Blog, She Wrote.

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Many of my readers know we are homeschooling high school with teens who have a chronic illness. We look for tools that make the most sense when working with students who need frequent breaks and reminders. How to Use Online Math for Teens with Chronic Illness is a look at how we use CTC Math.

Disclosure: I was given a subscription to CTC Math and compensated for my time in writing his post. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Maybe chronic illness is not the issue in your homeschool.

Perhaps it is something else that prevents your teen from thriving in high school math.

Or, maybe you are simply seeking new instructional opportunities for high school math that are affordable.

CTC Math is an accessible tool for homeschooling parents.

CTC Math Provides Online Instruction

We’ve been using CTC Math for years. Here’s a quick run down of what you’ll find inside the program:

  • Concepts by grade, subject, and concept with individual topics listed out- these are easy to search and assign to your student
  • Instructional videos- to watch for every lesson
  • Examples with solutions- easily accessible by parents but not by the student
  • Practice sets with many problems- both during the lesson and afterward for practice
  • Uses for a stand alone curriculum or as reinforcement for another – I have one teen who uses CTC Math as his primary resource for math and one who uses it when he gets stuck in his primary math program.

It takes no time at all to get up and running.

So, if your math needs a rescue any time of year,

you won’t lose any time getting oriented.

Benefits for Homeschooling Parents

There are definitely some perks for parents using CTC Math.

Here’s my list!

  • Teacher account- with access to the student accounts
  • Assign student work- from the teacher account and it’s pretty intuitive to learn this part as well
  • Establish due dates- for each assignment
  • See progress and scores- on what you’ve assigned your teens
  • Monitor log ins- from each student so you know when they’ve worked on math and when the last time they worked on it was!
  • Get weekly reports- on your student’s work
  • Create your own activities and assessments- using the question bank. This feature is new and it’s pretty awesome because you can choose problems that your student still needs work on. Soon you’ll be able to make those things you create assignments for your students.
  • Download skill checklists for each math course- especially nice for those of us who need to do some regular reporting and a fabulous way to keep track if you keep a paper planner
  • Speed Drills- simple games to test speed on basic skills at various levels
Benefits of Using CTC Math for Teens with Chronic Illness

CTC Online Math helps my chronically ill students when they are able to work.

  • Self paced instruction- work when you can and it’s waiting when you get back to it
  • Due dates can be adjusted- from the parent section
  • Choose not to use the tracking- this way poor grades aren’t piling up when they fall behind
  • Repeating lessons is easy- your student can watch videos as many times as they need to
  • Easy to see where you’ve left off- should your student be unable to work on math for a time
  • Solutions are provided- feedback is quick and your student can do it
  • Video instruction is easy to follow- step by step tutorials for problem solving
  • Allows your student to be independent- this is especially true for older children and teens as they begin managing more of their own work which gets tricky when they are not feeling well.

The threshold is low for finding where you left off and getting extra support for math work as needed.

CTC Math is a great solution for teens who need a flexible system.

Build Confidence with CTC Math

CTC Math helps my students when they need more confidence.

  • Easy to find the concepts – whether or not a parent assigns them
  • Feedback on the problems is immediate– and gave a summary at the end
  • Plenty of problems– for the concept they were working on
  • Independent in nature– they do not need to wait on me to get them extra problems for practice
  • Video instruction– which reinforces concepts we are working through or have done
  • Review is easy– any time my students need to revisit a concept, they can
Homeschool Discount with CTC Math

One of the best parts about using CTC Math is the cost.

CTC Math is an economical way to introduce online math instruction and practice for the whole family.

An annual subscription to CTC Math includes unlimited access to all lessons, at all grade levels from Kindergarten to Calculus!

  • 50% off the price of a family membership to CTC Math
  • Half off renewals for returning families
  • Free trial so you can try it before purchasing a subscription
Giveaway One 12 Month Family Membership to CTC Math

CTC Math is generously giving away a one year family membership!

Enter below to have a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway More Math Links

Homeschooling High School math requires extra support especially when you have a teen who is managing a chronic illness.

CTC math is a great resource for teens and families!

The post How to Use Online Math for Teens with Chronic Illness appeared first on Blog, She Wrote.

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Homeschooling is an adventure that sometimes requires special tools for success. Whether you have kids who need help due to chronic illness, gifted intensities, special needs, or speech difficulties, the right tools make the work easier. How to Use Your Voice to Boost Your Brain focuses on Forbrain, a bone conduction headset designed to enhance your voice.

Disclaimer: I was provided a Forbrain headset and I was compensated for my time in writing this post. I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.

I haven’t written much about our experience with Apraxia.

It seems like ancient history now.

But, some of you may still be in the trenches with intervention, diagnosis, and therapy.

Our third born was diagnosed with severe apraxia when he was just over two years old.

He had the receptive language of over 3 years and the expressive language of a 9 month old.

And even then, he could not make all the sounds a 9 month old can make.

He received in home speech therapy services twice a week for several years with the promise that we’d do therapy ourselves a third day.

The therapist our early intervention case manager wanted for us only worked two days a week.

She knew we were good for the third day.

Jennifer is a gem. She homeschooled her children.

We worked hard with Isaac.

Practicing.

Waking up the nerves in his face.

More practicing.

In fact, for the first 9 months of therapy, all of his sentences were signed.

As soon as he learned sign language, he was talking a lot!

Then one day, the sounds he was working on turned to words.

The rest is history.

Using Your Voice with Forbrain to Boost Your Brain

Forbrain is a bone conducting headset that enhances your voice and gives you instant feedback since you can hear your own voice as you speak.

Recording devices will let you and your students hear their voice, but using audio recordings does not give real time feedback to your ears because you have to play it back to hear yourself.

The headset is real time feedback on your voice.

It’s also pretty fun.

Who doesn’t love the sound of their voice?!

It’s also an open and go unit.

That’s a big deal in a homeschool with many needs and students who require extra time and attention.

Benefits of Using Forbrain to Boost Your Brain

Periodically, I would check in with a speech pathologist on how Isaac’s speech was coming along.

For the most part, he was following the developmental guidelines.

At about 13, we knew he was still struggling with articulation and first impressions are a big deal.

I contacted Jennifer, his therapist (who had since moved away) and showed her one of my blog videos featuring Isaac.

She agreed he should have some articulation therapy.

But, at 13 our options were slim.

Our local public school won’t bother with articulation in middle school.

All the other local programs were booked solid.

We ended up doing speech therapy again for a year with a therapist at the hospital. One hour a week, one on one.

It was glorious.

One of the things we did most often is read aloud.

Isaac has trouble with the letter R and when he talks as fast as his brain can deliver thoughts, he will drop syllables and it’s difficult to understand him.

Getting voice feedback slows him down and helps him to speak more clearly.

Some benefits of using Forbrain:

  • Improves speech fluency
  • Improves pronunciation
  • Allows users to discriminate sounds
  • Increases focus
  • Helps with memory
  • Encourages sensory integration
  • Enhances auditory processing
How to Use Your Voice to Boost Your Brain

Homeschooling families who purchase Forbrain are looking for solutions to learning difficulties with focus, attention, memory, speech, and auditory processing.

Here are some ways we have put Forbrain to the test:

  • Study for tests– by going over flash cards using the head set
  • Read aloud– especially good for fluency and articulation practice
  • Dictate passages– as you do assignments
  • Narrate a process– talk through your thinking

No matter what activity you are doing, Forbrain will give you and your students real time auditory feedback.

If you are looking for help with attention and focus, using the headset will set you and your students up with success.

Everyone loves talking into a microphone!

Forbrain is like wearing one with speakers right to your ears. You can’t help but take notice.

And, that is how the headset works.

The post How to Use Your Voice to Boost Your Brain appeared first on Blog, She Wrote.

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Homeschooling high school is not always easy, especially when you are teaching Out-of-the-Box Teens. I can’t wait to share The Surprising Secret to Mentoring Your Out-of-the-Box Teen with you.

This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

This is our daughter Rebecca’s story.

See if you can find any of your Out-of-the-Box Teens in her story. Replace their interest for Rebecca’s and see if it fits!

Finding Your Out-of-the-Box Teen’s Niche Rebecca’s first time at a sewing machine while visiting Grandma

Rebecca was the sort of child who might try anything once.

If she didn’t like it, she wouldn’t do it again- and so went dance, gymnastics, and both coach pitch baseball, and soccer.

Then there was the summer she and her older brother went to stay for a week with their grandparents. She was 8.

Her grandmother had planned to make a doll nightgown with her while she was there.

Rebecca took to a sewing machine like a duck to water immediately.

She was a natural.

When her grandmother insisted pin tucks were too hard for her, she was upset. Rebecca is bold with a sewing machine- even with her first experience!

Sewing was the only thing Rebecca ever wanted to do again.

So, we obliged.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Find Ways to Explore a Niche Rebecca made pillow case dresses for a ministry organization.

In those early days, Rebecca used my sewing machine and we did simple projects for her to gain skill.

We also paid for a few sessions at a local reuse sewing shop where a good friend volunteered.

The sewing sessions offered:

  • basic skill training
  • sewing for community service
  • creative sessions

This friend became a sewing mentor of Rebecca’s and encouraged her along the way.

She’s still one of Rebecca’s biggest cheerleaders.

The one thing the shop really didn’t fit the bill on was finishing work.

And, it was expensive.

It was time to move on.

Finding Opportunities as a Mentor for Your Out of the Box Teen

Since Rebecca’s skills and her ability to learn and practice on her own were quickly outgrowing available community offerings, we forged ahead on our own.

I put together resources for her and gave her some criteria for projects.

Resources were things like:

  • websites
  • books
  • materials
  • equipment

Criteria and parameters for learning were:

  • new projects must address a new skill she wanted to learn- and we kept track of those skills
  • finished products- not just ideas and half starts. Some of them had to be finished so she could begin building her portfolio of designs.
  • regular meetings with me- as her mentor and facilitator

We also kept our eyes open for other opportunities to engage with the community that did not require us to pay session fees for programming that was not challenging enough.

One such opportunity came along in the spring of her 8th grade year when she was 13.

She designed a gown for a refashion/upcycling contest using denim.

The dress was a draped design that started with an old pair of work jeans provided by her sewing mentor.

The result was a fun garment that incorporated denim, old prom gowns, dryer sheets, and even a discarded event tee shirt (one of the worst offenders in terms of textile waste!).

Was it worth the time and effort she put in for months that spring?

Let’s see what this one design led to:

  • participation in a fashion show
  • an award for most creative use of materials
  • an exclusive invitation to have her design in a curated show at the county library- one where her company was known adult designers and students in the fashion design program at our local university
  • her first gallery show opening as a designer
  • an interview with the local arts paper
  • a feature in the review of the curated textile show

That wasn’t all!

Down the road a few years, she visited this design again.

But, on with the story!

An Entrepreneur Is Born Rebecca ran a sewing school in our home from age 13 until 18, teaching students to sew.

Once her skills were established, she was sought out for projects and by other moms because their kids wanted to learn to sew.

So, she started a sewing school.

At one point, she was teaching 10 kids in 4 sewing classes in our home.

She taught one sibling pair for over three years and it was fun to see them win awards for their own sewing.

One young boy took sewing lessons for his occupational therapy.

Side note: You never realize the clutter you have in your home until someone in a wheelchair needs to get around!

Was it worth the time she put in to planning and implementing sewing instruction?

Let’s see what she accomplished:

  • planning lessons for students
  • accommodating lessons for various skill sets
  • designing custom projects based on student interest
  • providing feedback to parents
  • managing a budget for materials
  • communicating with parents and students
  • a vision for a future business teaching children to sew in an online venue
  • savings to purchase new equipment of her own- like a new serger

Sewing instruction was her high school job.

Not only did she teach children at home, but she eventually taught adults in a high end sewing shop who bought the same serger she has. The shop owner loves to have Rebecca teach new customers!

These experiences were valuable in a million ways.

Mentoring High School Credits for Your Out of the Box Teen
Rebecca’s final senior project- a steampunk themed design made from reused materials that were assigned to her

When our students hit the high school level, we know the stakes are higher.

This is where we, as parents of out-of-the-box teens, start to get nervous.

Am I right?

How in the world do we take these awesome teens with amazing interests and talents and either force them into the conventional high school mode or manage to keep any sense of normal high school if they are doing their thing all the time?

If you are like me, in our minds, it’s one or the other.

But, it is possible to have a balance.

Let’s look at Rebecca’s story and see how we planned and put into action her high school years.

Our plan was to create a custom course of study for her to last throughout high school.

Then we added more traditional courses to the mix, so she could achieve her goals.

Here are a few highlights of the course names, other opportunities, and what I expected:

  • Sewing & Design– this course was on her schedule every year starting in 8th grade. She graduated with 5 credits of this course on her transcript.
  • Art– which complimented her design work. She could work in additional media to enhance her clothing and textile work.
  • Projects– within the courses included research on historical fashion and a project deadline several times a year
  • Outsourced Projects– such as contests and commission projects
  • Entrepreneurship– through managing her own sewing school business and taking an online community college course for dual enrollment. Note that this was a credit on her high school transcript only.

We met regularly for me to check on her progress in these areas.

She led the way and I helped to facilitate her work.

My main requirement was that she acquire new skills with each project and to practice new skills to make them better.

Pro Tip- Rebecca passed my sewing skills a long time ago. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t help her to grow in her own skills. The same is true for you and whatever skill area your teen has!

Preparing for Your Out of the Box Teen’s Next Steps

Keeping tabs on your teen’s post high school plans is part of the deal of mentoring high schoolers.

Do you have a college bound Out-of-the-Box Teen?

Or does your high schooler have different plans beyond high school?

Rebecca was a college bound designer.

Her plans for after high school dictated what we needed to include during her high school years.

She set her sights on an Ivy League design program.

That meant, among other things:

  • taking Calculus
  • creating a portfolio
  • scoring high on college entrance exams

This was no easy task.

Rebecca had drawn her line in the sand.

It was up to her to achieve her goal.

I was there to help her meet them, but she took the initiative.

She started high school taking pre-Algebra and found once she made it to higher level math, things got easier.

The result? She took Trigonometry and Calculus her senior year. Goal met!

We worked on a test practice plan and she worked hard.

The result? Goal met!

The portfolio was months in the making because of the criteria set by the university.

She had to come up with ten new pieces that were not in her regular repetoire of costume.

The result? Goal met!

A note about gathering reference for the college applications: both her sewing mentor and a mom of one of her students made two excellent references for Rebecca. Out-of-the-box experiences count!

Pulling Together an Out-of-the-Box Portfolio A peek at her portfolio

Rebecca’s portfolio process was years in the making.

In the end, she followed the criteria required by the school and even met with a professor during the spring of her junior year.

She chose to include 15 items only five of which could be costume type designs.

Her college portfolio included the design from when she was 13. The historical nature and the progression of her design process was evident in her portfolio.

Rebecca needed to come up with 8 items that were primary fashion designs which was not her favorite type of design.

To solve this problem, she conducted research and ended up with a sample size of 200 families all related to sensory issues with kids and clothing.

The result was a clothing line that addressed each of the issues.

She provided the data in graphs and explained her research and then featured each item in her portfolio.

The results were glorious!

Don’t underestimate the power of thinking out-of-the box!

Watch Your Your Teen Thrive A final project for her draping class- this was a partner project and had a second piece to go with it.

To say that Rebecca found the perfect place for herself post high school would be an understatement.

All the careful study of places and programs led her to one university.

She put all her eggs into an Ivy League basket.

The Fiber Science and Apparel Design department at Cornell accepts 25 students total for three majors, including fashion design.

But, it’s one thing to get accepted and another to do well once you are there.

All the late mornings,

the creativity first and regular course work after,

the slow ambles through the woods,

the side tracking to rabbit hole topics and projects,

the set other work aside to do NaNoWriMo (and her first novel at 50K words in her senior year),

and every other thing we ever did that raised an eyebrow from observers

didn’t keep her from realizing her goal or taking it by storm when she arrived.

There could not..

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Homeschooling high school can be a lonely road. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a trusted companion for at least some of the way? Homeschooling High School by Design + Powerful Group Coaching means being in community for some of the journey.

This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Everyone Needs a Trusted Guide

Some of you may know that our oldest son is in recovery from years of chronic Lyme Disease.

I’ve heard from more than a few of you about your own teen’s battle with chronic illness. In fact, it’s stealing your homeschooling high school peace.

While I’m sorry that each of us has walked this road, I’m glad I can provide some help along the way based on how we approached the end of high school and beyond with our son.

Ethan enjoyed a successful first year of college after a two year delay!

Part of his success was due to his involvement with the disabilities resource center and his “access consultant”.

Her name is Rhonda.

Rhonda works for the disabilities resource center at the university and she works with students who need accommodations while studying there. She helps them to navigate any challenges with their academics and is a liaison, if necessary, between students and their professors.

Rhonda might help by:

  • answering questions
  • clarifying on rules
  • stepping in if a faculty member is over stepping bounds in place for students based on their needs
  • being a general advocate for a struggling student

Ethan is managing his circumstances like a rockstar, but now and then it’s nice to have Rhonda looking out for him.

We like to joke about how, “We all need a Rhonda in our lives”!

But, in all seriousness, isn’t it true?

Sometimes, we could all use a trusted guide and mentor.

And, that’s what I want to provide to my Homeschooling High School by Design students- an opportunity for me to be your trusted guide for this part of your homeschooling journey.

Six Week Coaching Group Session

The group coaching session will be June 25-July 31, 2019.

That’s six weeks to give some summer grace and allow for Independence Day travel.

Group Coaching Details:

  • Twice weekly group coaching calls
  • Weekly check ins and goals in the group
  • Questions answered by me daily in the group
  • Goal setting for your teens
  • Work through the course materials each week

We’ll be in community together for six weeks and during that time you will have access to me everyday with longer sessions and video calls twice a week.

I’m excited to get to know homeschooling high school families better and to have a format where I can provide tangible help for your high school journey!

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Get Your Questions Answered & Get Some One on One Help for Your High School Vision

It seems counter-intuitive, but in my own experience I received a lot of help one on one through group coaching.

I got to ask questions directly during group calls and get the answer first hand spoken to me!

You can ask questions you are seeking answers to like:

  • How do I break away from a conventional high school program and make sure I’m not missing important things?
  • How do I help her teen find his niche?
  • How do I find ways to nurture my teen’s interests?
  • How do I homeschool in a project based way and still hit the requirements?
  • How much is too much time on project areas?
  • How do I create a custom project based course for credit?
  • How do I create an appropriate transcript from the work my teen is doing?
  • How do I know what credits my teen needs to earn?
  • How do I get resources for a project based class for my high schooler?
  • How do I overcome the struggle I have with not checking boxes the way I think it should be done?
  • What do I do with my teen who is not motivated?
  • How can I provide the high school level resources if I don’t feel like I have it all together?
  • How can I homeschool my teen who is sick all the time?

These are actual questions I’ve received from readers and some of them I hear often.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me,

and get answered in person along with others over the course of six weeks?

Group Coaching Stimulates Action & Confidence

I recently finished a group coaching session for a course I was taking.

Actually, I’d taken the course before and chose to go through it again, this time with the group coaching.

I’m a pretty independent person and a self-paced course suits me well, but I took the plunge because I wanted more guidance with the course material.

It was the best decision!

Here are some of benefit highlights from my own experience:

  • Tight timeline– meant I had to focus instead of letting the learning wait until the next day or the next…
  • External accountability– to get working and keep going on material so I could meet my goals for taking the course in the first place
  • Coaching from the instructor– the person I’d purchased the course from who I trust and want to learn from
  • Shared progress– within the group, I shared my progress so I could get feedback from the instructor and the community
  • Community & a cohort– with others who were following the same path, working together and offering ideas from their experience which was often helpful because of the varied perspectives
  • Specific feedback– from the instructor on my own work through both the twice weekly video calls and in the online group format

I’m on a mission to help families to homeschool high school with peace and confidence.

The group coaching session is a way for me to do that using the framework of the Homeschooling High School by Design course.

What Does It Take to Homeschool High School with Peace & Confidence?

This week I have a few questions for you to think about:

  • What does homeschooling with peace look like for you?
  • What are things about your homeschool you don’t find peaceful?
  • Have you ever undertaken something difficult and benefited from having someone you trust to help out along the way?
  • Would you enjoy a group of homeschoolers with similar goals to join you in planning for or improving your homeschooling high school experience?

Leave a comment or email at heather@blogshewrote.org and tell me about what makes a peaceful homeschool for you and anything else you want to share with me.

One of my favorite things is to hear back from you all!

Turn Learning Obstacles into Opportunities Instead
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It’s not too late to sign up for the new guide.

In it, you’ll 10 myths that are common when working with Out-of-the-Box Teens and how to change your thinking about them.

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If you are homeschooling high school, then you already know it’s an adventure. Your part of the journey is important and High School Teachers Are on a Special Journey Too is all about how we can adjust to be better mentors for our high school students.

This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

The Start of My Teaching Journey

Raise your hand if you’ve been a classroom teacher- the organized kind that always had her finger on the pulse of her classroom.

I meet a lot of homeschoolers who were once classroom teachers.

Or maybe you had a Type A career path, is that you?

The morning of my first day of classroom teaching- I got the traditional first day of school picture and then I scrapbooked it- Creative Memories style, of course!

Chances are, whatever you did before you began homeschooling was pretty different from what you are doing now.

When it comes to homeschooling high school, especially with Out-of-the-Box Teens, there seem to be two camps:

  • There’s the group that struggles with letting go of the box checking priorities
  • those who don’t feel qualified to keep up with their teen, let alone any kind of box checking.

A bit of balance would help both groups a great deal!

The truth is, as parents homeschooling high school, we’re all on a journey too.

Let me tell you about mine.

For those of you new to our community of homeschoolers here at Blog, She Wrote, my professional story began in a public school science classroom in 1993.

I was hired to teach sixth and seventh grade science right out of college. Armed with a degree in biological sciences and a vision to make my classroom a safe and inspiring place, I was ready!

It was a lot of hard work and my specialty was developing fun labs and creative activities for my students. I ran a tight ship.

My lessons were planned to the clock and movements around my classroom were designed with precision and in five years, I only sent one student to the office (which could have been avoided if he hadn’t hurled an insult at me under his breath).

Ah! Middle school!

Teaching Classroom Science Was Part of My Journey
Dissecting frogs during my last year of classroom teaching

Orchestrating large science classes to work in labs and stay on task is not for the faint of heart!

Here I am five years later working with a group of students in a class of 37 doing a frog dissection.

Writing lessons and effectively working with 37 kids at a time, five of whom could not read (and with no aide), demanded lots of classroom management and efficient use of time.

And, did I mention teaching 170 students a day with two science preps (because I taught two grades in middle school)?

That’s a lot of papers to grade!

A laid back approach to this teaching environment would have been a disaster!

Teacher Journeys Chart New Paths
The summer of the red shirt- -2007. This was the summer before our third year of homeschooling.

After five years in a public school classroom, my journey continued on a different path when I became a stay-at-home mom.

There’s a six and a half year spread between our four kids- the first three in three and a half years!

We started homeschooling when our oldest was half way through first grade and we were expecting our fourth child. It was a wild time to begin, but it was clear that the school could not meet our son’s needs.

We wanted to provide a different approach to learning. At the time, it was all about letting our son work at his own pace.

Our whole goal was to restore his love of learning which had been extinguished in short order in public school.

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Pardon the slightly fuzzy image. In those days, we were still taking pictures with a film camera! This was 2007- the summer of the red shirt. Our kids are 8, 7, 5, and 2. We were homeschooling 4th, 2nd, K, and preschool then.

My classroom was totally different with only four students, but it didn’t take long for me to realize keeping up with my learners was a full time job and it required something besides doing “school at home”.

But, learning to do the step down from a classroom teaching mindset to a homeschooling mindset took time.

The same is true if you are simply stepping away from what you know as school from your own experiences.

If you look at how our homeschool looked in the beginning and compared it to how it looks now, it’s almost night and day.

Homeschool Journeys Change Course
Robotics and other project based problem solving activities are an integral part of our homeschool.

Our homeschool began to evolve as a result of who our kids are and how it was to meet them where they are as learners.

As our children mastered basic skills in a more structured environment, it became obvious that the same type of structure from the early years was more a hindrance to their learning than it was helpful.

Sometimes, no matter how much I want to be traditional, it just doesn’t work for my students.

Sound familiar?

In order to help each of our learners to do their best and to flourish with the opportunities we could give them, I began changing my approach.

It wasn’t all at once, but it was continual.

The older my students got, the more we let them fly.

We encouraged exploration and creativity. We encouraged initiative taking and independent learning. I say “we” because my husband was a part of this process too.

The “dinner lecture series” started to be a fundamental part of helping our kids to grow in their learning. Rather than checking boxes only during official learning hours, we were taking advantage of many times in our day and recording it all as our official learning time.

More and more we supplied resources, materials, and mentoring to our students’ interest led projects and a whole new vision took shape for our homeschool.

To be sure, there are boxes to check.

We live in New York State which requires a lot of reporting and even asks for annual education plans for each school aged child.

There is freedom in sketching out goals for your students, no matter what your approach to educating them is.

In fact, it makes it easier when you are teaching Out-of-the-Box Teens, to be able to reference those goals as your teens dig in to their learning.

Our Homeschool Journey’s Destination is High School

And, here we are. This is the sassy pants, current version of me. I’m standing beside our newly installed Little Free Library which is dedicated to my dad, who passed away last year.

These days all our kids are teens or just beyond their teen years. Two are in college having finished out their homeschooling in a highly customized format.

The more our kids press into their own learning, the more we see ways to pour into it. Isn’t that part of why we want to homeschool- to be able to tailor their education to who they are?

Here’s the thing though, not every part of our Out-of-the-Box homeschooling is, well, out-of-the-box.

We do have credits we approach with a check the box attitude.

It leaves time and energy for the ones we approach creatively.

True confession: foreign language is like this in our family. For a variety of reasons, foreign language is in the “get it done” category for us. Calculus is one of those classes best covered more conventionally.

But you can play with all kinds of electives and courses in science, history, English, and fine arts, etc.

Homeschooling Out-of-the Box Teens in a customized way takes intention.

It’s hard work!

And, I won’t lie. You will regularly wrestle with your more controlling, Type A side!

It’s a natural part of doing business counter to the norm. It’s usually in the spring when you have to calm down and make that list of all the goals reached that year.

The good news is that crossing the threshold from teacher to mentor is worth all the effort!

If I can make the transition from being a classroom teacher precisely orchestrating lessons to a mentor facilitating relaxed explorations, you can too!

I have the pleasure of talking with many homeschool families.

So many people I talk to want to take the leap from the more rigid forms of schooling to the creative, exploratory, problem solving approach for their Out-of-the-Box Teens.

They are afraid to take the step, worried they will make a mistake that’s hard to recover from in the high school years.

My mission is to help families homeschool high school with confidence and peace.

I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve been working on because its whole purpose is to help families gain confidence working with their out-of-the-box learners in high school in a concrete way.

Are you ready to mentor high school with peace?

I can hardly wait to get started!

A Challenge for Homeschooling High School Teachers
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Now it’s your turn to think about your own journey!

If you have a non-traditional learner, how can you make adjustments in your homeschooling to encourage more learning?

Let’s consider a few things:

  • How are you like your Out-of-the-Box Teen? I see glimpses of myself in each of my children, even the ones who don’t share my personality. 
  • How are you different from your teen? We may have similar interests and approach them in a totally different way. For example, my daughter and I are different creative people. I’m all about the product and she’s all about the process. Remember this helped us work well together.
  • In what way are you like the classroom teacher me? with the precisely controlled environment- great for teaching large classes but not necessarily so great for mentoring your teens
  • Consider some areas where you can relax more and encourage your teen in the high school years– what is an interest you can go all in on with your high schooler?

I’d love to hear from you!

Leave a comment or email me at heather@blogshewrote.org and tell me about a part of your homeschool that you’d like to try something new in.

What’s holding you back?

Homeschooling High School with Out-of-the-Box Teens
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If you haven’t downloaded the free guide yet, what are you waiting for?

Sign up and get the free guide so you can turn those things you *think* are learning obstacles in the high school years into opportunities for growth instead!

It’s going to get you thinking more about your own journey and how misconceptions about your teen might be holding them back.

PS- This week I’m sharing the exciting news about what I’ve been working on. This is going to be amazing for all you not-so-sure high school planners out there- especially those who feel like they need more tangible help! Sign up for the guide and be the first to find out!

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It’s time to get ready for homeschooling high school. Are you ready to homeschool high school with peace and confidence? Let’s get started!

This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Do you ever have a project going that you are super excited about?

Maybe you’ve got a teen in your house who is over the moon about something he or she is working on? That’s how it is at my house on any given day!

And, that’s how I feel these days putting together something new for homeschooling high school families!

My desk is full of piles of notes and ideas along with a plan of action.

While I’m working behind the scenes, let’s talk about how you all are doing!

What Homeschooling High School Families Want Most

As I talk with families homeschooling high school, one big message I hear is they lack confidence.

Most parents are excited about the adventure on one hand and super nervous on the other.

What they want is to homeschool high school with peace and confidence!

Listen, you are not alone. I want that too! And, I know it’s not easy to come by.

You have to be intentional.

And, that’s why I’m so excited about my new project!

I can’t wait to share it with you!

It’s going to help me to help you even more.

One of my favorite things in all the world is to mentor other mentors!

Stay tuned and hop on my subscriber list below because in a few days I’ll be ready to announce all the details!

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How’s Your Confidence Level?

Let’s talk about how you are doing with getting ready for or teaching high school?

Some of us adore teaching high schoolers!

Others of us feel a heavy weight of responsibility that overshadows our joy

or we live with a constant fear that we are leaving something out or something is going wrong.

It’s important to evaluate where we are, so we can address our needs and step boldly into the teen years of homeschooling!

So, where are you on the confidence scale?

  • If you could rate your homeschooling high school confidence level on a scale of 1-10, where are you right now? 1 is I’m pretty nervous and I’m not sure where to start and 10 is rockstar material. You’ve got this and it’s smooth sailing!
  • What do you consider your strengths in homeschooling your high schoolers?
  • What do you struggle with as a homeschooling mom of high schoolers?
  • If you could sit with me over your favorite beverage (I’ll be having an ice cold Coke!) for an hour and ask me anything, what would it be?

I would love to hear your answers!

So, feel free to comment or email me at heather@blogshewrote.org and tell me any or all of your thoughts on the challenge.

Homeschool High School with Peace & Confidence
Our 8th grader who’s already started his high school credit hours. He’s a pretty confident kid!

I’m on a mission to help parents of Out-of-the-Box Teens to homeschool high school with peace and confidence.

The way you respond to how your Out-of-the-Box Teen approaches the world might be holding them back.

Bust some myths about working with unique teens and be part of the process that helps your teen to soar!

Sign up and grab this free guide, so you can turn what you think are learning obstacles when homeschooling high school, into learning opportunities instead!

Yes! Send Me the Free Guide!

Subscribe and receive the 10 Myth eBook plus support and resources for homeschooling high school with peace and confidence.

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You did it!

Hey, Friend!

Let’s get right to it. Here’s your download link for 10 Myths You’re Believing about Your Out-of-the-Box Teen that Are Holding Them Back.

I’m so excited you chose to check these out because I’m on a mission to help families homeschool high school with peace and confidence!

You can expect to get the Mentoring Minute: Teaching Teens with a Vision every Tuesday. We’ll have a topical challenge each week along with links to content and resources that match our topic of the week.

I’ll also share new freebies and resources with you from time to time. Whenever I share a free resource, I won’t leave you hanging. You’ll get support for using it in your homeschool.

We’re in this together. Let’s get started!

– Heather

Sign up and get on the list so you are in the know when this new venture is released!

This tangible way to come alongside homeschooling high school families is going to be amazing!

The post Are You Ready to Homeschool High School with Peace and Confidence? appeared first on Blog, She Wrote.

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As homeschooling moms, we invest a lot of our time and the prime of our careers to homeschooling our children. What happens when our kids finish homeschooling high school and launch as young adults? How do we manage the transition in our homeschools with kids still at home? No one talks about this! How to Thrive as Your Homeschool Shrinks discusses healthy ways to make adjustments and thrive in the new phase!

This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

The day has come,

or maybe you’ve done this before.

Your homeschool high school senior is leaving the nest.

The days when all of your kids are home and in your homeschool full time have come to an end.

Maybe you are still in the throws of launch and the dust hasn’t settle yet.

Maybe you’ve launched and things aren’t what you expected-

you knew to expect missing your graduate, but you didn’t expect the trickle down on your life and homeschool for you and your remaining students.

Maybe you’ve realized that it’s not any easier the second time around,

and you weren’t expecting that.

Pro Tip: Every launch requires adjustment no matter how many times you’ve done it before.

At our house we launched two at once after our oldest was delayed two years from his illness.

That was no joke!

Our younger boys and I had a period of adjustment, not just in our everyday life but in our homeschool life too.

Launching Young Adults Takes a Toll on the Whole Family
Protective of his new pillow, our oldest and his sister shop for college life. They are haggard. Getting ready for launch day is hard work!

That is for real.

Whatever your senior is doing post high school there is a LOT of planning, preparing, and executing.

And, let’s face it, some of it may not go smoothly.

So, there’s a lot going on.

The list is long:

  • Thinking– on what is next
  • Planning– on what’s needed for getting ready and what it will take to make it happen
  • Implementing– plans you’ve made with your teen whether it’s programs, internships, projects, etc.
  • Evaluating– or testing to check boxes and provide data
  • Applying– to schools and programs based on experience, etc
  • Waiting– to hear about acceptance into schools and programs or to understand that the next step will be delayed
  • Working– to earn money and/or experience
  • Shopping– to get supplies and necessities for a new living arrangement whether it’s on a campus or a barrack or with a relative or in the mission field
  • Preparing– for the day when the new phase begins and you drop your young adult off in their new digs whether it’s moving into a residence hall or at the drop point for another travel experience
  • Leaving– this is the day when it happens. Your young adult is dropped off and you and your other kids walk away until the appointed time when you will visit or be together again

It’s exhausting-

for everyone.

It’s also consuming.

It’s your young adult’s whole world while they are in process.

It’s a huge chunk of time for parents as well- making sure that you’ve fulfilled your responsibility for a successful launch.

Not just in terms of the actions you will take during this time but also the headspace it will take up.

It takes a lot of headspace to launch a kid into the world.

Then, all of a sudden, it’s over.

Your young adult has left the nest.

What’s is left is a time of adjustment.

Post-Launch is a Time of Adjustment
Working together on some old electric RC planes- a long time interest of our 16yo, our 13yo is slowly getting into it and will be retooling a plane of his own this season.

For everyone.

It will take time for the shift in all of the interpersonal relationships in your home to take place.

Young adults leaving home isn’t just about missing that person.

There the relationship between you and your young adult and that of your spouse, but also between that young adult and each sibling.

And how the siblings behave with each other when everyone is around.

It’s a whole thing, right?

Let’s name a few things that will be affected by the absence of your graduate:

  • Meals– even through the teen years we managed to eat together almost every night. As a homeschooling family, we ate all three meals together most of the time. That empty chair is a big deal! Our meal dynamics changed.
  • Games– as a family of 6 we could count on playing 5-6 player games regularly.
  • Chores– obviously, missing people means redistributing work. We took our young adults out of a regular rotation and my expectation when they are home is for them to be generally helpful.
  • Perspectives– you lose the older teen perspective in your homeschool when your graduate is no longer participating along with just missing a personal perspective in general.
  • Collaborationsone of the best things in our homeschool day is the collaborating our kids do on projects. Not just projects done together but the collaborating they do on each other’s individual projects.
  • Enthusiams– not everyone loves everything. Losing the homeschooled kid who loves art, for example, means big changes. Or maybe your best hiker is gone, etc.

There’s more, I’m sure, but you get the idea.

Launching your young adults into the world is a big change and requires everyone to adjust on some level.

How to Thrive as Your Homeschool Shrinks
At almost 14, our youngest started piano lessons. His teacher promised to teach him as fast as he could learn- a match made in heaven!

Just as there are adjustments to make in your life when your young adults leave home,

there are also big changes and adjustments necessary for your homeschool.

In some ways, that’s obvious, right?

With one or more teens gone from your midst, that’s a change in itself that requires doing things differently.

The need for some of these adjustments is more subtle. After all, just because you have less students doesn’t mean everything has to change or you have to give up your favorite things. Right?

Well, that depends.

Consider the following:

  • Things that were good when you had all your kids in your homeschool– don’t necessarily work with only a few
  • Activities that worked well with your older kids– may not work as well for your younger kids.
  • Focused efforts on the older teens– is no longer necessary, so you can have more flexibility
  • Fewer students means you can shift your focus– on the students left in your homeschool
  • Consider what your younger kids need most– and drill down on those things.
  • Encourage communication and relationship with your launched kids– while your homeschool focus is on the kids still at home, part of meeting their need is to continue to foster relationships with the siblings that have left the nest. Encourage your younger kids to reach out on their own so it’s not a parent thing all the time. There has never been a better time to stay in touch long distance and I guarantee this will be worth the effort.
  • Let your younger kids grow too– at our house, we launched two and the next two aren’t all that young though it was easier to think so before their older siblings left. So, as you begin to get your bearings again, come to grips with where your students are and let them grow up gracefully too!
Dan and Isaac took a trip to the Joint Forces Air Show. Isaac is a historian with a special interest in aviation.

The fact is, with your young adults off on their own life adventure, you are freed up to turn your attention back to the daily life of your homeschool.

It’s time to give your younger students your full attention.

Re-imagine Your Homeschool to Thrive as Your Homeschool Shrinks
This kid loves to fly his planes. Making time for the things important to your younger kids will go a long way!

We launched our oldest two at the same time.

Preparing two young adults for launch at two different schools at the same time was no joke!

Keeping track of all the details of financial aid and other parent responsibilities during the process was time consuming.

After it was all over and it was time to put my energy toward planning for our homeschool year, I made two big decisions which helped me to cast a new vision for our homeschool and our younger kids.

I wanted to re-imagine our homeschool with our kids and I wanted to be purposeful about focusing on the present with them.

– Post Launch Heather

That meant no launch talk and turning my attention to their needs and interests- even if that meant leaving some things behind.

Here are some guiding principles I can share with you:

  • Focus on the present– with the students in your homeschool now
  • Let your younger students be in the present– it’s easy to keep looking to the next launch, especially when you’ve already done one or a few. Relax! Enjoy the stage and phase of your remaining students, no matter how close they are to their own launch!
  • Involve your younger kids in re-imagining of their homeschooling– you’ll find out a great deal by including them in the process and it will help them to get excited. This reboot will not just be about how to get along without your older kids. The sky is the limit attitude will bring strength and a new focus to your homeschool and will be suited to the students you have now.
  • Allow your young adults to be adults– your time of intense parenting with the kids you’ve launched is over. Let them do and learn in their new environment.
  • Set up healthy boundaries with your young adults– this is especially true if they live at home while going to school or working. Your priority is on the younger kids and their homeschooling. Resist the urge to let the needs of your young adults still cast a shadow on the work you are doing at home. Feel free to be helpful, but be careful about your time and energy. This principle might need its own post, but I’m still working on this one, so let me get back to you!
  • Don’t be afraid to make changes– even when they will hurt a little! I was hesitant to let go of long time pieces of our family culture. For example, 4-H was one of the pillars of our homeschooling experience, but it was not working for our younger boys. We chose to go in a new direction which was the best decision!
  • Take up new experiences– not only will it be an intentional move to pour into your remaining students, but it will allow everyone to grow into a new and flourishing place.
  • Seek out the activities and experiences that will help your students to thrive– we are so good at that with our oldest kids. Sometimes we keep thinking about our younger kids as really young when they might be into a great stage for digging deep on exploring an interest. Go there!
  • Remember that it might take some trial and error– your students might not hit the spot at first, but continuing to seek the right fit will pay off and the road to get there won’t be boring!
  • Think ahead rather than behind– as moms we are notorious for thinking about the past and dwelling there. It’s easy to look back and yearn for the good old days with all of our students at home. I encourage you to keep focused on the present and respond in thankfulness for all that is behind you and what is to come.
  • Be on the lookout for hearts to sing– when you are intentional about retooling your homeschool to the students you have now, you will be amazed at how everyone begins to thrive again!

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis

In our case, our youngest has taken up formal music lessons for the first time and he loves it. The timing was perfect. I don’t think he would have owned it when he was younger, but there’s no question that this was the right move for him.

Our current high school junior has found a niche with our local history center working as a student ambassador and as a volunteer with cataloging historical census data. He’s grown so much through this experience. Again, the timing was perfect for him to volunteer.

We left behind our homeschool co-op and 4-H. While I sometimes miss those activities, it’s more about missing the time when we were all involved and having fun. I don’t miss what those activities would be like for our boys now. It’s much more enjoyable to know we are doing just the right thing for them and to watch them grow.

Without the willingness to leave some things behind, we would not have found our new homeschool groove.

We would have continued on going through the motions of what was good for the older kids but not really the students I have now.

Be encouraged!

Turn Learning Obstacles into Opportunities!

Speaking of finding the right fit for our kids, I’m on a mission to help families homeschool high school with peace and confidence.

Sometimes what we think of as learning obstacles are really opportunities we need to embrace.

Sign up and download this free guide to the 10 myths we believe about our Out-of-the-Box teens. These are practical tools for our homeschool mom toolboxes!

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Hey, Friend!

Let’s get right to it. Here’s your download link for 10 Myths You’re Believing about Your Out-of-the-Box Teen that Are Holding Them Back.

I’m so excited you chose to check these out because I’m on a mission to help families homeschool high school with peace and confidence!

You can expect to get the Mentoring Minute: Teaching Teens with a Vision every Tuesday. We’ll have a topical challenge each week along with links to content and resources that match our topic of the week.

I’ll also share new freebies and resources with you from time to time. Whenever I share a free resource, I won’t leave you hanging. You’ll get support for using it in your homeschool.

We’re in this together. Let’s get started!

– Heather

More on Homeschooling High School

The post How to Thrive as Your Homeschool Shrinks appeared first on Blog, She Wrote.

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Disclosure: I received the Beautiful Feet Geography through Literature Pack and was compensated for my time in writing this review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Teaching geography with good books is one of our favorite things to do! How to Teach Geography with Literature is a look at using living books to teach geography to middle school students.


Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. They also examine how human culture interacts with the natural environment and the way that locations and places can have an impact on people.

National Geographic
Mapping Geography Using Stories

The setting of a story is a natural way to incorporate geography into learning at any age.

The books by Holling C. Holling included in the Beautiful Feet Geography through Literature pack provide abundant opportunities for teaching about places and the people in them.

  • Gorgeous maps- are included inside the four book pack, there are four, large, cardtock sepia toned maps to match each story
  • Vivid settings– are the back drop for each book which describes the story place in detail and with drawings
  • World voyages- in Seabird which also discusses whaling and world sailing through time
  • Sante Fe Trail– is shown through the life of a tree in Tree in the Trail
  • River features– river behavior and habitat, and the creatures that live in freshwater rivers are the focus of Minn of the Mississippi.
  • Watersheds– specifically the Great Lakes and their connection to the Atlantic Ocean makes Paddle to the Sea
  • Human Geography– where people are, how humans interact with the earth, and cultures
  • Physical Geography– features of the earth and physical properties

As always, I adapted this geography with literature program to enhance our study of world cultures.

My 8th grader has been doing a survey of world cultures this year in social studies and the literature approach to geography fit right in with our exploration.

Benefits of Teaching Geography with Literature

One of the hallmarks of a Beautiful Feet program is the flexibility. It’s hard to feel hemmed in by such a restful learning guide.

Here are some other things I appreciate about using a literature approach to geography

  • Approach geography in context- in this case the setting of a story
  • Map your way through the story- in quick intervals in a memorable way
  • Remember details- when you follow along with the characters of the story
  • View illustrations- in the sidebar which are a whole reference and exploration to themselves
  • Read aloud- the lessons which is always time well spent together
  • Provide opportunities- for narration and discussion for multiple ages
  • Follow the guide- for a complete walk through each title
  • Lead short, Charlotte Mason style lessons- with each story
  • Engage each story- through fiction and non-fiction reading

A literature approach to geography is gentle and adaptable, allowing you to follow rabbit trails.

Literature Pack Giveaway

Beautiful Feet Books is giving away a literature pack to 5 winners (U.S. residents only). Enter your email below for a chance to win! (and unsubscribe anytime)

a Rafflecopter giveaway More on Teaching with Literature & Geography

Will you explore geography with literature?

Tell us about your next adventure!

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The post How to Teach Geography with Literature appeared first on Blog, She Wrote.

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Ponds make a fruitful stop for studying elements of an ecosystem. They provide many opportunities for using your microscope. Resources for Studying Life in a Pond sets the stage and offers materials to go with your study.

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Spring is here in the northern hemisphere,

beckoning us to go outside and study!

Spring time brings vernal pools and it’s perfect for observing ponds beginning to wake up after a long winter.

Study Pond Life Year Round

Different seasons bring different activity within the pond ecosystem.

How about some big picture ideas for approaching a pond study:

  • Survey the plants– both in and around the pond
  • Look for animals– in the water and the area around the pond
  • Search for animal tracks– near the edge of the pond in the mud
  • Discuss the pond ecosystem– what makes a pond a unique habitat for plants and animals
Resources for Observing Pond Life
  • One Small Square Pond– the illustrations in this series are beautiful and detailed and it comes with activities in the margins. This book is a visual learner’s paradise even in middle and high school!
  • Pond Life– a revised and updated Golden Guide to pond flora and fauna.
  • A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America– If you have a dissecting microscope or a stereo scope you can look at larger organisms in detail. This is especially helpful for budding entomologists, but anyone who likes identifying water critters will love this resource.
  • Peaceful Ponds from Nature Explorers– a pond nature unit study
  • LED Microscope– the microscope we use from Home Science Tools
  • Microscopic Life Kit– our favorite kit for the microscope, it comes with everything you need to make slides and see tiny organisms!
Observe Life in a Pond under a Microscope
Your Guide to Year Round Nature Study

Each calendar has a nature study activity set for each month of the year. Subscribers get all of the calendars bundled together with instructions for using them.

Download the calendar eBook, print, and record your observations!

Nature Journal Calendar Bundle

Subscribe and receive a download of the Nature Journal Calendars along with more Nature STEM projects and homeschooling strategies for middle and high school.

Yes! Send me the Nature Calendar Bundle!
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Look for an email to confirm your subscription. Once you confirm, your Nature Journal Calendar Bundle will be on the way to your inbox!

Pond Art Resources

Because I love it when a plan comes together, pond life is a lovely subject for your art lessons.

And, Nana from Chalkpastel.com makes the perfect addition to your science lessons.

One of the things I love about Nana’s lessons are the facts and extra tidbits she mentions during her lessons.

They make each lesson truly special!

Ponds are peaceful,

accessible,

and exciting.

Make sure to take time to visit and learn more about this ecosystem close to home.


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The post Resources for Studying Life in a Pond appeared first on Blog, She Wrote.

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