Pursuing Interests through Homeschool Electives

Pursuing Interests through Homeschool Electives

When I first made the decision to homeschool my son who was just starting Kindergarten, I began to look at curriculum.  I soon discovered there were THOUSANDS of choices! And that was just for one subject! I soon found that there were favorites among homeschoolers – for example, the “Saxon-eers” and the “Math-U-See-ers”!

Electives are sometimes harder, though.  Everyone is looking for core curriculum, but electives are based on interests, which can vary widely. While classes and activities are readily available, the sea of information can be overwhelming at times.  

Personally, I am a big believer that our children should have some choice in their homeschooling, especially if there are struggles in one or more academic area. That is some of the benefits of homeschooling, and it helps prepare them for making choices and career decisions as teenagers and adults.  

Here are a few ideas for pursuing interests through homeschool electives. Some are free, the others are worth every penny…

Homeschool Electives for the Child that Loves Animals:

Does your child love animals?  Does he love to go to the zoo, visit the animal shelter and pet shop?

  • Science classes – classes are available on all kinds of topics – oceanology, zoology, entomology…these and more would be subjects this type of child would be interested.
  • Pre-Veterinarian classes – hands-on experience by volunteering for a local veterinarian or horse ranch
  • Unit studies about specific animals – there are lots available online, or make your own by pulling resources together.  For ideas, visit SPED Homeschool’s Curriculum page on Pinterest
  • Volunteering at the local animal shelter – Help train and care for animals to help them find their forever home
  • Visit zoos and national and state parks – so much can be learned by watching and seeing animals in natural and man-made habitats! Most zoos offer educational programs and classes, and state parks often include educational tours and information.
  • TNHA’s Biology Class – an awesome class for learning about animals down to the cellular level.

Homeschool Electives for the Child that Loves computers:

From Powerpoint to coding, the computer can make schoolwork seem a lot more fun!

  • Hour of Code – from pre-reading through high school, a great resource to explore and decide if this might be something you enjoy.
  • TNHA’s C# Programming Class – a hands-on class for ages 12 and up!
  • Game Design – Love computer games? Learn to design your own with this great class (12 and up).
  • Loves Designing and Building – This is my boys – the Future Engineer and the Future Architect!!!
    • Lego Club (check your local CO-OP or Library to see if they have one or start your own – Legos build problem solving skills and spatial awareness.
    • Variety of Building Blocks – From magnetic blocks to tinkertoys, having a variety of blocks allow children to explore how things might fit together under different circumstances.  
    • TNHA’s Digital Art and Design – as our world becomes more digital, this is a growing and necessary area to explore and become familiar with!
    • TNHA’s 3D Modeling – Pre-recorded awesome class students can complete on their own time schedule! Great ½ credit elective that his fun and exciting!

Homeschool Electives for the Child that Loves Languages:

Languages help us to understand English better, as well as gives us access to the world.

  • TNHA’s ASL I – Hands-on kinestethic language that is fun and useful in so many career and recreational applications! (Used by police officers, firefighters, scuba divers, etc).
  • Hebrew Classes from TNHA – Learn about the language and culture of the Bible! By understanding the context, you gain a deeper meaning and appreciation for the Word.
  • TNHA’s Latin Class – Latin is the foundation for many languages, it can help you to understand and appreciate many other languages including Spanish, French and Italian.
  • Flip Flop Spanish – Conversational, visual Spanish curriculum (See It Say It begins at age 3) – Now also offers a High School Spanish Course – Spanish Geniuses!

Homeschool Electives for the Child that Loves to cook or Loves Food:

Explore the world through food – try new things and have fun!

  • Explore cookbooks together – From Mediterranean to Rachel Ray, cookbooks can be a great learning experience! By trying new recipes, you can explore cultures and foods from around the world.  Broaden it into a unit study to explore more about the geography, influences and other factors that go into determining why foods are preferred in different regions of the world.
  • Volunteering at the local food bank or food kitchen – Community service can be a great way to meet people from around the world and from all walks of life.  It is also a way to teach a giving spirit and a humble heart.
  • TNHA’s Culinary Arts class – Fun to do together with your child, or allow your child to explore basics on their own!

Homeschool Electives for the child that loves space:

The moon and space seem so mysterious and far away, bring them closer with some awesome resources!

  • NASA has videos, articles and other resources – a great way to explore about the universe and what we know so far
  • Hubble Telescope Images – see pictures taken from space and what we are learning about our universe on a daily basis!
  • Visit an observatory or planetarium in your area – Most offer educational tours and great resources for learning more!
  • Loves Books – From classics to new, books open doors and allow your child to explore different universes!
    • Check your local library for reading programs – ours include great prizes for children and even adults!! Also, check your favorite restaurants to see if they have a reading club or would be interested in starting one!
    • TNHA’s C.S. Lewis Club – Explore these incredible books in this fun club!
    • TNHA’s Classics Club – explore Greek and Roman life through this fun and exciting club while being engaged in some fun projects!

So what do you think?  Do you believe in pursuing interests through homeschool electives?  What are some of your favorite choices?

Amy Vickrey is a homeschooling mom of a six-year-old and almost two-year-old, and the wife and caregiver of a disabled veteran who struggles with health issues and PTSD.  She holds a Masters of Science in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction, from the University of Central Missouri and a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University.  Also, she spent 2 years of college studying Interpretation for the Deaf and Deaf Studies and knows American Sign Language. Her teaching certifications include Special Education, English as a Second Language and Generalist (early childhood through fourth).  

Do you believe in pursuing interests using homeschool electives? See some great ideas on how to combine interest led learning with your homeschool elective choices. #homeschooling #electives #interestledlearning

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow: Networking

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow: Networking

Networking

Networking is key to success, regardless of you vocation! Aside from my faith, few tools in my toolbox have served me better than my personal and professional network. When I think about how my network started and has grown over many years, I’m reminded of an old Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” This proverb holds true when developing and nurturing your network.  If you’re a student reading this article, start growing your network today.  Your network is the most valuable currency you possess.

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I’m often asked by young adults what is the number one thing they should be working on.  It’s simple – your network.

Your professional network is much like a tree. As a young adult, it starts small with a few connections here and there. As you advance in school or your career, your network grows more limbs and branches.  With each passing day, a new branch is added and, sometimes, those branches take us in seemingly strange and unexpected directions. Those unexpected directions, when taken prayerfully, may represent God unveiling his will for you. Taken without prayer or contemplation, those directions may be foolish, or worse, dangerous.

Intentionality

How do you about intentionally growing a network?  It begins with goal setting. Setting a goal to meet at least one new person each week. A lunch meeting or a quick coffee request are generally well received by others (if not, you may not want to network with them anyway) and one meeting usually leads to another.  When meeting, your exclusive goal is to get to know someone better. Be fully present and keep your phone in your pocket or your purse. You may discover the person with whom you’re meeting to have interests and life experiences you never knew existed, thus expanding your horizons. Be willing to share “your story” with intentionality, discussing your family, career and interests.

Benefits

A robust network can produce job opportunities, new friendships and relationships. In times of need, big or small, your network can be relied upon for help.  For instance, at Apprentice University, we frequently need many professionals at our various events to network with our students.  Over the years, I’ve deliberately grown, pruned and nurtured my network such that filling an event with quality and qualified professionals is relatively easy.  Favors and requests are common within a healthy network and, the broader the network, the more likely you’ll find that specific person for a niche need.

Networking is a 2-Way Street

Networking is not all about receiving help or being asked by a friend for help It’s not all about taking. Your network is a two-way street and it demands your attention. Random acts of kindness ought to be labeled as “rare acts of kindness” these days and therein lies a great opportunity for you to differentiate your personal brand in your network. For example, let’s assume one day you’re scrolling through posts on social media and you happen to see someone you know has recently lost their job.  Instead of just scrolling on by, pick up your phone and give them a call (a text message in this case would be insulting, insincere and cheap). Rest assured their world has just been rocked and their need for their network to engage is high.  Don’t wait to be asked to help – jump in, grab coffee with them and listen (truly listen) to what’s on their mind.

Investment

As mentioned above, your network is like a tree. Thus far, we’ve focused on the visible portions of your network, the parts above ground – the limbs and branches.  But what’re equally important are the roots of your network, or your inner self.  A character willing to serve, with humility and without being asked, is a character which will produce a robust network of friends.  We spend time with people in our network, but we invest without reservation in those individuals of an authentic, humble character. In networking, if you’re perceived to always be out for gain, your network will be shallow and flimsy. Be prepared and eager to serve.  In other words, be willing to give of yourself. As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Schedule Your Coffee Date!

Your network is one, if not the, most valuable tool in your toolbox. It requires intentionality, pruning and, most importantly, your deliberate and authentic engagement. Remember, plant that tree today – who will you ask to coffee tomorrow?

Networking

Aside from my faith, few tools in my toolbox have served me better than my personal and professional network. When I think about how my network started and has grown over many years, I’m reminded of an old Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” This proverb holds true when developing and nurturing your network.  If you’re a student reading this article, start growing your network today.  Your network is the most valuable currency you possess.

I’m often asked by young adults what is the number one thing they should be working on.  It’s simple – your network.

Your professional network is much like a tree. As a young adult, it starts small with a few connections here and there. As you advance in school or your career, your network grows more limbs and branches.  With each passing day, a new branch is added and, sometimes, those branches take us in seemingly strange and unexpected directions. Those unexpected directions, when taken prayerfully, may represent God unveiling his will for you. Taken without prayer or contemplation, those directions may be foolish, or worse, dangerous.

Intentionality

How do you about intentionally growing a network?  It begins with goal setting. Setting a goal to meet at least one new person each week. A lunch meeting or a quick coffee request are generally well received by others (if not, you may not want to network with them anyway) and one meeting usually leads to another.  When meeting, your exclusive goal is to get to know someone better. Be fully present and keep your phone in your pocket or your purse. You may discover the person with whom you’re meeting to have interests and life experiences you never knew existed, thus expanding your horizons. Be willing to share “your story” with intentionality, discussing your family, career and interests.

Benefits

A robust network can produce job opportunities, new friendships and relationships. In times of need, big or small, your network can be relied upon for help.  For instance, at Apprentice University, we frequently need many professionals at our various events to network with our students.  Over the years, I’ve deliberately grown, pruned and nurtured my network such that filling an event with quality and qualified professionals is relatively easy.  Favors and requests are common within a healthy network and, the broader the network, the more likely you’ll find that specific person for a niche need.

Networking is a 2-Way Street

Networking is not all about receiving help or being asked by a friend for help It’s not all about taking. Your network is a two-way street and it demands your attention. Random acts of kindness ought to be labeled as “rare acts of kindness” these days and therein lies a great opportunity for you to differentiate your personal brand in your network. For example, let’s assume one day you’re scrolling through posts on social media and you happen to see someone you know has recently lost their job.  Instead of just scrolling on by, pick up your phone and give them a call (a text message in this case would be insulting, insincere and cheap). Rest assured their world has just been rocked and their need for their network to engage is high.  Don’t wait to be asked to help – jump in, grab coffee with them and listen (truly listen) to what’s on their mind.

Investment

As mentioned above, your network is like a tree. Thus far, we’ve focused on the visible portions of your network, the parts above ground – the limbs and branches.  But what’re equally important are the roots of your network, or your inner self.  A character willing to serve, with humility and without being asked, is a character which will produce a robust network of friends.  We spend time with people in our network, but we invest without reservation in those individuals of an authentic, humble character. In networking, if you’re perceived to always be out for gain, your network will be shallow and flimsy. Be prepared and eager to serve.  In other words, be willing to give of yourself. As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Schedule Your Coffee Date!

Your network is one, if not the, most valuable tool in your toolbox. It requires intentionality, pruning and, most importantly, your deliberate and authentic engagement. Remember, plant that tree today – who will you ask to coffee tomorrow?

Read the entire Tools for Tomorrow series!

 

Empolyability Ron Brumbarger

Ron Brumbarger is one of Indiana’s most recognized technology and education entrepreneurs and visionaries. As a dedicated husband, father, friend, mentor, business owner and volunteer, Ron continually strives to weave his many passions into a unique tapestry to serve others. He has spent his entire professional career leveraging an entrepreneurial mindset to help disruptively change education, apply technology to enhance business practices and facilitate organizational growth. He co-founded BitWise in 1992 and served as the company’s president and CEO until January 2018. He was tapped in 2006 by Indiana’s Governor Daniels and Ball State President Gora to start Indiana’s first, statewide, virtual-charter school. In 2013, he founded Apprentice University ®, an award-winning, competency-based college of higher education, preparing future leaders.Content goes here

High School Electives for Homeschool

High School Electives for Homeschool

High School Electives are what puts the fun in homeschooling High School. Electives are limited only by you interests, time and money! We base our High School Elective Credit on the Carnegie Unit; 120 hours is equivalent to 1 High School Credit. If you need to count hours, True North Homeschool Academy offers free log sheets!
We choose electives based on:

  • Interests
  • Traditional school requirements
  • Our values
  • What’s available in the area.

These activities have included but not been limited to:

TeenPact and alumni events – learn state and national government,how to make a difference in the world despite ones age and get ahold of what it means to be a Christian citizen in today’s world; campaigning– local, state and the national level
Ballroom dancing- protocol at its finest. A local dance company hosts homeschooling ballroom dance lessons and open dancing every other week.
Volley ball – in the summer- lessons and scrimmage
Drama Camp– 1 week every spring with a huge musical every  other year
One Act Plays – every January at the local university theater
Shakespeare Camp – every summer the kids memorize and perform a full Shakespeare play
Yearly formalhigh-school Dinner-Dance– planned and served by area Homeschooling Parents
Teen-Nights -good, clean fun – bonfires, food, friends!
Broom-ball – brooms, a ball and an outdoor ice-rink .
Choir – co-op
art classes-  through co-op, and professional artist friends
Creative writing
Speech/ debate – through co-op, TeenPact and CC
and more!

Our acreage and house-rebuild project  have provided ample opportunity to learn life skills. Our kids know, in great detail, how to drywall, tape, mud, sand and finish, paint, simple carpentry skills, grout, re-finish floors, build brick paths and much more. We have also re-claimed much of our land by clearing, hauling, fence removal, and have gardened, landscaped and hardscaped extensively. The kids have helped me build simple furniture. We have experimented with animals and edible landscaping (our yearly grape crop is juiced and canned, mulberries and rhubarb become pie and scones and elderberries make great cough syrup) and they have enough familiarity with animals to have personal lists of pros and cons. All of the kids know how to comparison shop, cook and meal plan. They all know how to glean and acquire goods and clothing for next to nothing and still look well dressed and respectable.

How did we teach all of this? By living and working alongside of each other. Most of the above was not curriculum but necessity driven. When Dr. Dh and I have not known how to do something (i.e. tile the bathrooms) we have found mentors and books and studied and learned. With that, our kids have also learned how to learn and acquire skills they did not previously have.

Life skills for our teens also include knowing how to introduce people to each other, carry on a civil and interesting conversation, ignore social media for the sake of real time interaction, make others feel welcome and at home and engage in moral, honest relationships. We have technology but use it as a tool rather than being enslaved to it. Shaking hands and making eye contact with new acquaintances is a lost art and one we hope our kids embrace, even as they leave our home.

Driver’s Ed and keyboarding go without saying. I would love for someone to learn small engine repair and fix everything around here, but so far that hasn’t happened.

My current and most recently graduated high-schooler share the passions of history, geography and writing. They have both spent zillions of hours reading and studying history and geography- maps are  handy at our  house- and writing on their own as well as discussing and studying story, character development and genres. They read Susan Wise Bauer’s History of series for fun, listen to Old Western Culture Greeks and Romans on car trips  and spend many hours discussing the fine points and nuances of history.
Poetry is de-rigeur- both memorizing it, reading it and writing it. We use and love Grammar of Poetry.  and Poetry Outloud has been a great recitation competition that is easy to bring to your local homeschooling community.

What Electives do your High School Students participate in?

Read More on Electives in the High School Years from an amazing group of experienced Homeschoolers!
Morning Basket: Teen Edition

Morning Basket: Teen Edition

Morning Baskets

Morning Baskets, also known as Circle Time, are all the rage among the younger homeschooling set. For younger kids they are a blast. Gather you read-aloud, some poetry memorization, Bible Scripture and some math games and you’ll have a lovely half or full hour. For those with older students, you might like the idea of Morning Baskets, but not have an idea of what to include. We’ve instituted Morning Baskets in our own home for the past couple of years, with our High Schoolers and we’ve loved the time together. Here is how I’ve  re-configured Morning Baskets for the older set.

What we are doing

We have a set start time for Morning Basket every week day morning– 9 a.m and have committed to finishing at 10:30- regardless of how much we are enjoying our studies together. 

Decide on what you’ll study and gather your curricula and supplies!

This is what we chose for a rising 9th and 12th grader:

  1. The Story of Christianity by Memoria Press
  2. History of Art with Art cards by Veritas Press
  3. Latin forms and vocab review, Latin National Exam 
  4. Math speed drills.

How did I decide what to include? I’ve had my eye on the MP older Bible studies for a few years and we haven’t done a Bible Study together for about that long. We were planning on studying the arts this year, and Veritas Press art cards are always lovely. We all doing Latin forms anyway and math speed is something we continually work on.

A simple way to touch base and set the tone at the start of the day along with connection and discussion. That doesn’t mean things haven’t happened already during the day; it’s just that is when we will pause and come together for another cup of coffee and some communal study.

Morning Basket time has become some of our most valued time during the day. If you try it, I’d love to hear about it!

Lisa Nehring has 1husband, 2 graduate degrees, 5 kids and a black belt in homeschooling. She loves writing, speaking and teaching, specifically Literature and Composition, along with Poetry and Apologetics.

High School Credit in Junior High? You betcha!

High School Credit in Junior High? You betcha!

High School Credit in Jr. High? 


High Credits in Jr. High? Is this even do-able? I’ve done Academic Advising for homschoolers around the world for several years and one thing I find interesting is how rigid homeschoolers tend to be in their thinking about High School credits. For instance, what about 8th grade? 8th grade is a big transition year for most kids. They have gained in maturity (and usually height) and academic skills. Many of them are developing their own interests and often are out-reading their parents.

A Word About Rigor

Can a homeschooler count 8th grade classes for High School Credit? The answer to that is predicated on one simple question. Is it High School level rigor? Some classes, like Apologia’s Biology or Algebra I are easy answers. But what about Mock Trial, the Handyman course you designed yourself, Logic, Latin I or American History? Again, it depends on the level of rigor.

For instance, our daughter participated in Mock Trial in 8th grade with a group of homeschoolers. The kids spent the semester digging into the case, doing some difficult research, defining terms and preparing their parts. They had the good fortune of presenting the trial in front of a group of lawyers, had amazing feed-back and were relieved when it was over, satisfied with a difficult job well-done. In my economy, the work they did definitely warranted High School Credit. Not only did they fulfill hourly credit requirements, but the level of work demanded was every bit a high school class.

While I appreciate The Fallacy Detective and many other informal Logic programs, I would not use them for High School Credit, as they are easily accessible, digestible and learned at an upper level elementary level. Formal Logic programs such as Jim Nance or Martin Cothran’s, however, are every bit High School credit worthy.

How do you determine High School Credit worthy?

Elementary courses are really geared to be an introduction to subject material, Middle School (or Junior High) is the time when students are shown how to apply the previously acquired material and High School (Sr. High) is the time when students are invited to apply concepts, think for themselves, make connections and understand the bigger picture.

If a curriculum is focused primarily on introducing basic concepts or how to apply those concepts, it is probably not a High School level course.

The Benefits of Hacking 8th Grade

If your student is able to do High School level work in Junior High, there is no reason to keep them from doing so (especially if you plan to home school throughout High School). This allows your student time to CLEP or take DE courses during traditional High School years, saving parents and students literally thousands of dollars. This is also an exceptional way to make “room” in one’s schedule to pursue areas of interest or passion.

As seasoned Homeschoolers, we at True North Homeschool Academy fully support parents and families to think outside the box in regards to Jr. and Sr. High School, as well as College. We are here to help you succeed throughout High School, and beyond!

You might be interested in our Guidance Counseling Service. And don’t forget to check out our Course Catalog! 

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Homeschooling in the Age of Technology

Homeschooling in the Age of Technology

Homeschooling in the Age of Technology

Homeschool in the Age of Technology looks different than it did when we started homeschooling, years ago. Back then, pagers were cutting edge technology and laptops were still a thing of the not too distant future. We lived in Los Angels, which is a far cry from the Great Plains that we now call home. Our fields, which had been dumping grounds for years are cleaned up and are being leased out or hayed There is a such a wholesome sense of satisfaction when things are productive and doing what they are meant to be doing!

In much the same way, we are so excited to be offering classes through True North Homeschool Academy. We have amazing teachers that will be doing what they do best- teaching from their heart about subject matters that matter most to them. Our teachers are old school, in that they believe in the fundamentals of learning, and at the same time they are utilizing the beauty of technology to expand their reach.

Just like our acreage is not your typical couple of acres with a new build, True North is not your typical on-line academy. Just a few things that make us uniquely qualified to come alongside of you as you homeschool your 8th-12th grade student.

On-line Experience

True North has been on-line for about 10 years as Homeschool Works 4 U. While on-line schools are sprouting up everyone, you can rest assured that you are getting experience and know how with True North Homeshcool Academy.

Experience as Homeschoolers

We have decades of experience as homeschoolers. Our teachers have for the most part, been homeschooled themselves, have homeschooled or are currently homeschooling. We know the beauties, joys and stresses of doing what you are doing.

Experience as Educators

We have decades of experience teaching. While most of us work professionally in our fields, we love teaching and choose to teach when our “day jobs” are done. We take great joy in students getting concepts, growing beyond their starting points and making connections. For True North Homeschool Academy teachers, teaching is a passion and a joy. We love being able to offer what we know!

Men & Women on Faculty

We have a great mix of men and women on our faculty! I’ve worked in Social Services long enough to say, gender differences are a real thing and older kids need a good mix of mature, Godly men and women in their lives to grow and develop well. We have amazing talented men on board, and amazing, talented women on board. Many homeschooled kids only have women as teachers until they graduate. I’m not disparaging that at all, because, hey, I’m a woman. But men approach things differently, have different expectations and provide different experiences. Anyone who has seen Dads throw their little kids up into the air, versus watching Mom’s cuddling their little kids can attest to this!

The education that our government schools are offering is lacking in many areas. I talked to a teacher in Arizona this week who said she retired early for the simple fact that she was afraid to go to school each day due to violence. When our kids feel fearful, they can’t learn. When teachers feel fearful, they can’t teach. More and more families are turning to homeschooling to keep their kids safe.

Homeshooling is a great solution, but not without it’s challenges. I’ve said for years that the things I’m good at, my kids excel at, but my areas of struggle are my kids area of struggle. Honestly, I’ve needed help as our kids have entered high school and gone beyond what I know and or have the time and inclination to learn.

Thanks to the world wide web, we are not alone in our struggles anymore! I am super excited that my daughter will be taking Algebra II from George McBride this year, Latin II with Gus Henebry and Hebrew with Arthur Fischer. She will be getting world class instruction from men who excel in areas that I don’t. And she’ll still be taking Expo and Comp and Rhetoric and Bible with me. I get the areas I love and have fun with and am outsourcing areas I don’t – it’s  a win-win for everyone!

I hope you’ll join us this year as you redeem your own kids education. Our great joy is to come alongside you as you create something beautiful, true and good in your own family.

Lisa Nehring lives in a 1920’s restored farmhouse surrounded by family antiques and many books, reaching out to homeschoolers around the world via the age of technology. She teaches Literature and Composition, Writing Club, Academic Advising and Coaching.

 

Spring Semester Classes & Clubs: Civics: Constitutional Studies, STOA Forensics and Speech, Creating Priorities for Students & Parents! Dismiss