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For the past four years, I’ve worked as we’ve homeschooled and I have also had high schoolers who have been going through fairly rigorous academic programs. Throw in a few extra-curriculars, like music and karate and Latin National Exam, and a play mid-year, possibly TeenPact, and you have a lot going on.
We’ve managed all of this by using planners for everyone.
Because all of us are so different, we all have a different planner. For example, I like Bullet Journals- it allows me to keep a detailed calendar, take copious notes, brainstorm, brain-flow, and Venn diagram without leaving a zillion papers around the house. My son likes a very structured planner, with room for notes; he color coordinates his day and refers to it all day long. My daughter has a very girly planner where she keeps notes, doodles, writes comedy sketches. My husband is a Franklin Covey man from way back.
First, find a planner that works for each individual.
If it’s too structured, doesn’t leave enough room for doodles, notes or creative thinking or not structured enough when you need it, it’s a recipe for not getting used. Study your kids’ personalities and get them a planner that fits what they need.
Then, teach them to use it!
I sit down with my kids weekly throughout high school and talk them through planning their week. We put in daily details, overall big picture planning, on-going projects, monthly re-occurring things, church, music, school, sports and volunteer activities. They often forget to plan on driving time when they might need to get to church early to help with tech. These things take time and are all part of teaching young adults how to manage and balance everything.
We try to schedule a weekly morning basket, and some years we’ve had better success at this than others. This year has thrown us for a loop because I am either teaching first thing in the morning or my daughter is online in class first thing. So, our morning basket is going to be an after-lunch basket. The point is that we touch base for an intentional time throughout each day.
In the past, our week has revolved around our academic class day, making things somewhat easier in that projects, papers and presentations were all due on that one particular day. This year, we are no longer involved in that program and my daughter is taking several online academic classes, throughout the week. This has provided some stress for her as due dates are on-going (more like how public school is or college will be). That has provided a great learning opportunity as well, as we’ve had to discuss how to manage the various class and due dates.
We regularly have weekly planning meetings, as we have several drivers and multiple cars, live out of town and often have engagements in the evening.
(Need more information on teaching your student to use their planner? Check out these 7 tips from Student Tutor.)
Why all of this work on planning with my kids?
Because scheduling is one of those skills that lead to time and self-management skills that I want my kids to have before they leave home. So tell me, do your kids have planners of their own? What are your top tips for teaching planning skills?
(Are you looking for more skills to teach your high school student before they leave your home? Check out our tips for teaching effective online communication.)
“Humor is something that thrives between man’s aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because you see, humor is truth.” ~ Victor Borge
I like to think that I have a killer sense of humor.
My kids are very funny too (I’ve trained them well).
My husband still makes me laugh after 33 years of marriage by singing 70’s songs at appropriately funny times, verbatim and on-tune. We laugh a lot. And that is by design.
Life is hard, it’s difficult, it’s full of tragedy. When we run after God we get to share in His glory and His Majesty, and we also draw closer to the things that grieve Him and break His heart.
We do our fair share of crying around here, too. Life and intentionally raising our kids is serious business and sometimes cry worthy.
And while laughter and humor is not exactly joy, it is the cousin of joy and refreshes our spirits and perspective.
With that in mind, we have been very intentional about laughter, sharing jokes and funnies and cuteness that causes us to smile. We look for humor and share it as often as possible!
Why is humor important in your homeschool?
(I have been blessed with a guest posting opportunity over at With The Huddlestons. To finish reading humor and homeschooling please visit the full post here.)
and check out my podcast over at Cultivating Grace on Wholesome Humor and Homeschool
Do you use writing prompts in your homeschool? Writing prompts are a quick and easy way to get your student’s creative juices flowing. They can add an element of fun for struggling writers or give experienced writers ideas to expand their writing topics and style.
Here at True North Homeschool Academy, we love writing prompts. We use them extensively in our writing club and our homeschools. Today we thought we would make your life easier by sharing six different types of writing prompts, as well as samples of each.
Be sure to read all the way to the end to also grab some free student journal pages!
Humorous sketches to get your creative juices flowing!
- “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is of good report, if there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these on these things.”
- “All things work together for good!”
- “His mercies are new every morning.”
- “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
- “To answer before listening — that is folly and shame.”
- “Fight the good fight of the faith.
- “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
- “… Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”
(Interested in starting a writing club? Check out our tips here!)
- “To be or not to be.”
- “Once more into the breach, my brethren, once more into the breach!”
- “We know not what we are, but we know not what we may be.”
- “Better three hours too soon, than a minute too late.”
- I would challenge to a battle of wits, but I see you come unarmed!”
- “For she had eyes and chose me.”
- “though she be but little she is fierce!”
- “I’ll just say it! This is stupid!”
- “I can’t do this anymore!”
- “I would rather die!”
- “Are we here to break his knees?”
- “I am your angel of music.”
- “I am right here!”
- “Get a job. Brush your teeth. Murder is wrong.”
- “Weak excuse!”
- Create a recipe for a good life.
- Write your obituary.
- Describe how to get to the Moon.
- Describe the beach and the ocean to a blind person.
- Pretend you are Beauty, meeting Beast for the first time.
- Interview the person who invented fire.
- Interview Hitler.
- Introduce your Mother to George Washington and record the conversation.
- You are a world-famous chef, cooking dinner for on a yacht for billionaires. What will you serve and how will you present your meal?
- You have won a trip on the first commercial space flight. Tell us about your flight and your crewmates.
- You have won a million dollars. You must spend all of it. Describe what you did with the money.
- “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research!” -Einstein
- “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” -Bruce Lee
- “Wax on, wax off” -Karate Kid
- “Thank you for making me a part of this!” -Muppet movie Xmas
- “Our assets are frozen!” – Muppet Movie Xmas
- “Who cares if you’re not the chosen one! You’ll do!” (NaNoWriMo)
- “Elevators are awkward” Tim Hawkins
- “It’s between two and three times greater than a normal week” Tim Hawkins
So now your students are all ready to write. What do they need next? Paper of course! No worries, because we also have that covered. Check out our FREE printable student journal that’s designed just with you in mind. This printable comes with a wide variety of themes and can be customized to your needs. Print all the pages that you need. You can find it here.
We at True North Homeschool Academy love to make your life easier, so please let us know how we can help you! You can contact us anytime. We are here to help you succeed on your homeschool journey.
(The following is a guest post from Rebecca Toon, author and creator of Homeschool on the Ranch.)
Did you know rodeo can be counted as a school elective? It doesn’t have to be just an expensive hobby. Yes, it’s expensive. But there are so many lessons and skills learned when your kids rodeo I can’t even count them all.
Two out of our four kids rodeo so far. Our oldest son rides mini bareback ponies and is learning how to rope. Our oldest daughter runs barrels, poles, and is learning to goat tye and rope. Since we’ve started junior rodeos they’ve learned many lessons and life skills that’ll benefit them for years to come.
Let’s talk about the life skills your kids will learn from the rodeo.
Taking care of something other than themselves
This is huge. Kids are naturally selfish. When your kids have to go out in 10-degree weather, unfreeze the water hose, and water, feed, and hay the horses, then they learn a little something about selflessness. Our horses completely depend upon our kids for water and food and I tell them time and time again, if they aren’t watered every day they’ll die. It’s up to them to keep them alive.
This kind of goes along with taking care of the animals, but they also learn the responsibility of keeping up and taking care of all of their tack and supplies. I can’t do it all for them. I won’t. It’s not doing them any favors by doing so.
They know their tack, supplies, rodeo bag, etc. has to be taken care of, oiled on occasion, and loaded up for every rodeo. If it’s not in the trailer when we get to the rodeo, they get to figure something out when we get there. It very seldom happens anymore because they’ve learned to be responsible and take care of it.
Rodeo isn’t cheap. Our kids work on our ranch to earn their entry fees and they work hard. When they have some extra they help us pay for their tack and supplies. Our goal is to help them learn how to manage their money and learn to pay their “bills” first and buy their wants after.
Winning Doesn’t Come Easily
Rodeo is a sport that’s full of let downs. There’s only one winner at the end of the day. It sounds harsh, but that’s just the way it is. We’ve been doing this for a year and a half and our daughter finally won her first check last weekend. My son has won 1.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice, practice, practice. You and your horse have to be in sync. You both have to be the ying to the yang, so to speak. Working in harmony and such. Practice is how you accomplish this. Practicing for the rodeo isn’t anything like walking out onto the basketball court and shooting some hoops. It’s catching your horses, loading them up and taking them to the arena, saddling them, warming them up, actually practicing, then unsaddling, taking them home, and letting them go. All in imperfect weather. It’s a lot of work.
Like I said before, rodeo is full of let downs. It’s a sport that will teach your kids to be a gracious loser. Losing’s not fun, but they’ve learned to have fun without winning.
Since homeschoolers get such a bad wrap for not being socialized, this is a great reason to rodeo. Our kids socialize with all ages of people at rodeos. From parents to teenagers to the kids their own age. These people become your family by the end of the season.
The great thing about rodeo people is they always spur each other on and want to help each other be the best that they can be. You’ll always see the kids helping each other and letting each other know what they did wrong and what they can do to fix it.
My daughter has a teenage friend helping her become better. They’re in competition with each other at the barrel racings we go to, but they both want each other to be the best that they can be.
Rodeo is a lot of work for parents. It’s expensive, it’s tiresome, and a lot of sacrifices are made. I don’t always like it, but I know that we’re making a great investment in our children’s future.
About Rebecca – Hey, ya’ll – I’m Rebecca. I’m a homeschooling mom of 4. I spend my days homeschooling, momin’, blogging, and helping my husband on our ranch. I love encouraging other moms in their homeschooling journey. Visit me over at Homeschool on the Ranch. Keep up to date on my Facebook Page, Facebook group Relaxed Homeschool Moms, Instagram and Pinterest.
I am leading a Writing Club this year at True North Homeschool Academy and to say I love it is an understatement. I love words, teaching people how to use them effectively and watching the enthusiasm and joy young writers take in expressing themselves and sharing their creation. Happy Sigh.
There is still time to join our fantastic writing club (we have new members joining us this week) but if you’d like to start a Writing Club where you are at, here is a simple format to get you started.
First, set goals and time frames.
Set goals for the group or have the kids set their own individual goals. In our group, our students set their goals for the year and then share their writing/reading goals (because writers are readers) for the time between now and the next time we meet.
Set a clear structure for the club so the kids know what to expect and how to prepare. The very nature of a club is less structured than a formal class, but creating set time ensures that you keep moving forward and as many students as possible have a chance to read and share their writing.
Next, add writing prompts.
Start with a writing prompt. The kids love this time, regardless of age or ability. Set a timer- not too long, not too short- 5-15 minutes. Read the prompt and then let the kids write. No talking, just writing. When the timer goes off, give everyone time to read their response to the prompt.
Sit back and revel in how amazing the kids are! You will be blown away at the diversity, ability, and creativity! No critique or formal feedback, though you’ll probably notice that often the kids will give each other unsolicited encouragement and support and cries of “Wow! That was amazing!”
Where can you look for writing prompts?
- Pictures from all time periods
- Famous Quotes
- A sentence or two from a book
- A snippet from the news
- A few lines of poetry
- Snippets from other subject areas
- Math formulas
- Science facts
- Funny photoshops
The sky is really the limit. Last week our prompt was from the news, “This storm can kill!” and the week before a quote, “Absence of faith is not lack of faith, but control.”
Then focus on skill building.
I am a poetry writer, reader and advocate from way back, so I often bring in poetry forms and tropes as part of our skill building. Many great writers include poems and songs to develop their characters, and I want the kids to have these tools available to them.
Other ideas include working on dialog, tropes, sentence structure and variations, plot devices, characteristics of genres, humor, applying literary analysis to one’s own writing and so much more! I usually allow for about 20 minutes on this section because I’ll present the skill and then give them time to work on it.
Next, write and share feedback.
Take time to have 2-3 kids share 5 minutes of their writing each week (the writing that they are doing on their own- apart from the writing prompts) and have everyone listen well. Then, allow the class to give feedback and assessment on the writing. I set clear parameters for the kids on this as our goal is to give each other constructive feedback and information that will allow each person to grow and excel as writers.
I teach kids about the “sandwich” method of giving feedback (2 positives, one critique, one positive) and encourage them to find both strengths and areas of weaknesses in the writing- offering possible solutions. This feedback teaches how to give and receive feedback, simple literary analysis, and how to listen well. We also work on presentation skills, and the kids know that they’ll have to introduce themselves and their work to contextualize for the audience before they begin.
Book reviews are also great!
Because good writers are good readers each student shares a book they’ve read, gives a brief critique, what the liked or disliked about the book and gives it a 1-5 star rating. We’ll be publishing our books lists each semester, so stay tuned!
Finally, have plenty of extra resources.
For our Writing Club, I also make sure the kids know about resources like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as well as writing and reading contests.
Our writing club has kids ranging in age from 12 to 17, some have written very little, and some have written a couple of books already. What we do have in common in a love of words and a desire to hone our ability to craft with words.
Start a local Homeschool Writing Club, but if you don’t have the time or inclination, we’d love for you to join ours! (you can join any month of the year). Or, if you have a local group, we can work with you too. We are partnering with co-ops and class days to bring quality education TO you, regardless of where in the world you are! We have special prices for groups. And if you don’t see something you are looking for in our catalog, be sure to let us know – we can work together to make it happen!