(The following is a guest post from Val Harrison, The Practically Speaking MOM, author & homeschool mom. Check out my interview with Val on Work Ethic at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network).
I’m honored to write a guest blog post for my new friend Lisa of True North. Lisa and I share the same passion for encouraging and equipping parents and students with what they need to succeed – be it at home, academically, in preparation for a career, or spiritually. It’s especially exciting to talk about the current True North theme of INTEGRITY. What a powerful topic!
As a mom, I know that I want my kids to have strong integrity –
- that they would do the right thing no matter who is or isn’t watching,
- that they would be committed to speaking truth even under pressure,
- that they would choose the right thing even if it contradicts what they feel like doing.
On any given day, you can hear me saying to one of my kids, “We do what is best, not what is easy.” Oh, the good ol’ “mom-isms” of life! There are probably a few at your house as well. Some of my favorites are:
- “Work hard before you play hard,”
- “Don’t trust your feelings, because feelings are deceptive,”
- “We were created for relationship – relationship with God and relationship with others,”
- and my all-time favorite, “Do what is best, not what is easy.”
That last one is what INTEGRITY is all about! It’s about doing what is truly right no matter how we FEEL, no matter what we WANT, and no matter what temptations or pressures may be pushing us toward compromising God’s values.
Good parents are constantly in the process of doing what is right instead of what is easy in the situations they face. That’s why parenthood is so profoundly impactful to our lives – it requires so much setting aside of self for the good of someone else. The very essence of a loving parent is integrity. Now how do we help our children see the necessity for this same quality? How important is it to teach our children to choose honesty and uprightness no matter what? Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of convenience, but where they stand in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.” I want to raise children who can stand strong through all the situations of life.
Moms of teenagers, I hope you will have your students read the following part of this post to help them grow in their commitment to integrity as they prepare for a career.
In my book, GAINING MOMENTUM: Preparing Your Student for the Pursuit of a Career with or without College, one of the sections is called, “Power Steps and Career Habits.” Since Lisa asked me to talk about integrity in this blog post, I thought I would examine some of the power steps and career habits that would be jeopardized by a lack of integrity. Let’s take a look at just a few of them. First, you’ll see the Power Step or Career Habit, then you see how a lack of integrity destroys it.
Improve Interpersonal COMMUNICATION Skills to Build a Strong Career
Lack of integrity ruins relationships. One of the success habits I discuss in the book is the importance of growing your interpersonal communication skills or relationship development. Whether it is a parent/student relationship, boss/employee relationship, relationship between co-workers, or even just neighbors, integrity is a critical part of every relationship. Quality relationships hinge on honesty and doing what is best for the other person even when it is inconvenient or without immediate personal reward. Honoring a person includes being honest with them and treating them fairly. That is what integrity looks like in a relationship.
A Large Network Solidifies Your Future
Lack of integrity causes a professional network to crumble. Your goal is to be constantly growing your network of relationships with people in your career field. This ever-expanding network can produce countless dividends for your efforts. In fact, a large network is seen as a strong hiring asset because that network represents potential clients or potential referrals, and it reveals to an employer that you possess the social skills necessary to grow the company as you have grown your network. However, if you struggle with maintaining strong integrity, that network can crumble quickly. In contrast, purposeful effort to maintain exceptional character can produce an unparalleled strength in your network. The strength of your network depends on the strength of your character.
Understand the Power of PERSONAL BRANDING
Lack of integrity destroys a Personal Brand. We’ve all got a personal brand, and we’re constantly developing it. From your social media posts to the way you dress, your hygiene, your word choices, your posture, your eye contact and the confidence in your voice; all of these factors and more go into the development of your personal brand. Among the many factors, your personal brand is shaped by your integrity. When you are dishonest, it sends the message that you can’t be trusted. When you choose to compromise quality in workmanship, you compromise your personal brand about whether you do dependable work. If you want to stand out in your career field, stay above reproach in your integrity to keep a strong personal brand.
If You Want to be Great in a Career, Learn to be the Servant of All
Lack of integrity is self-serving rather than serving others. Good integrity requires doing what is right for all involved, not impulsively caring about your own desires above rightness. Conversely, to possess integrity is to possess a value for all people in a given situation, and by so doing, you are serving them. Serving others requires humility and empathy. It also produces a much better leader, as serving in every level of work throughout the organization gives a more thorough understanding of all the facets of the business. This principle works because it is a Kingdom Principle – a principle our Creator designed for His Kingdom. Matthew 20:26 and Mark 10:43 both say that “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, learn to be a servant of all.”
God’s Got This – Putting Your Career in God’s Hands
In making decisions, a lack of integrity is relying on your own thoughts rather than relying on God’s wisdom. “To be honest,” I say in the book Gaining Momentum, “my husband and I don’t want our kids to have their dream jobs. We want them to have God’s ideal career for each of them. And there’s only one way to discern what God’s career will is for our students – to help equip them with the habit of seeking His will in all facets of their lives” (49). Imagine that you receive a gift – a package that says, “God’s Choice for Your Career.” You are excited to find out what it is and to get started on your future! However, the label on the front of the package reads, “Warning: This gift only works if you utilize the contents according to the directions.” The directions are God’s principles – your knowledge of them and your ability to implement them. If you want to be in the center of God’s will for your career, make each decision along the way according to His will, not your own; and that, my friend, is having integrity, doing what is best not what is easy or comfortable.
When someone chooses to compromise their integrity, it reveals five things about them:
Breaking integrity shows a lack of trust in God.
God is allowing you to be in this situation, and He has a way for you to respond that fits within His life principles. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We must have faith that God’s principles are the best options in any given situation, even if it doesn’t seem like His principles will work in a particular crisis of decision.
Breaking integrity shows a lack of respect for others.
When you make decisions that benefit yourself at others’ expense, you are not honoring them in the situation. Do you realize that caring enough to be honest with a person reveals your value of that person? If we truly value someone, we will make decisions that are for others’ good. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
Breaking integrity shows a lack of caring for your own future.
Dishonesty, compromise in quality, or short-cuts don’t bring lasting stability. All of these impulsive responses come from a lack of self-control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” It’s like building a house on shifting sand, it’s going to collapse eventually, just as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24-27.
Breaking integrity shows that we’re not seeing the value that emerges through adversity.
What is that value? Growth! God doesn’t bring every difficulty that is in your life, but He certainly will bring good out of the difficulty if you stay the course and work through the crisis with His principles as your guide. When it’s hard to do the right thing yet you do it anyway, God usually has some lessons for you to learn (growth) and some exceptional blessings that follow.
In fact, it has been my experience that the greatest blessings come through adversity. In contrast, when you compromise right morals in a situation to get what you want when you want and in the way you want, you are missing out on the growth and blessings that may have come from unwavering integrity. Romans 5: 3-5 and James 1:2-4 point out the benefits that transpire from staying strong during hardship.
True North’s name indicates its commitment to unwavering clarity in focus – its compass is set to God’s principles and His ways, no matter what the world around it may choose. I love it! This title can be an inspiration to every student who participates with True North Academy.
We’ve spent the majority of this post talking about how career success hinges on strong integrity, and that is true. Integrity is essential in business because the Creator of all earthly systems, both seen and unseen systems, are dependent upon the principles that He established. Even unbelievers, if they live by God’s principles, will reap the benefits of those choices. However, the most important reason that you should seek to possess integrity is because God calls us to live a life of obedience to Him. Matthew 6:33 implores us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His RIGHTEOUSNESS…” Integrity is a commitment to His Kingdom and His will instead of our own.
May God bless you in your journey to seek a life of integrity!
For more info check out our Soft Skills 101 series on Integrity:
Books and Resources by Val Harrison, The Practically Speaking MOM
Val Harrison, The Practically Speaking MOM and her husband Rich have seven children. Five have graduated from their homeschool while school is still in session for the youngest two. With a degree in communications, she has taught speech and career skills to homeschool students for just under two decades. She is the author of the book series “Your Family God’s Masterpiece” consisting of three books: Wearing All Your Hats without Wearing Out, Clash in Your Home: A Game Plan for Cleaning Up the Conflict, and When Littles Are Loud: Maximizing the Moments without Drowning in Chaos. She is also the author of GAINING MOMENTUM: Preparing Your Student for a Career with or without College. Val loves to encourage and equip parents. You are welcome to visit her website and blog or on Facebook.
Would you love to create a unique and much-needed addition to your homeschool group or co-op? Plan and host a homeschool college and career fair for your group! This will be my fourth year creating this one of a kind experience for our local teens. So I am going to share with you all the details on planning a homeschool college and career fair for YOUR group!
Why Your Group Needs a Homeschool College and Career Fair
When you decide to homeschool, you take on a weighty load. Being responsible for your child’s education can be fraught with moments of mom guilt and worry that you are going to ruin your child.
Then you do something even crazier! You decide to homeschool during the high school years. Keeping records, choosing the best curriculum for the right year, and making sure you cover all the correct course takes over your thoughts. In the midst of all this stress, it can be easy to see “completing high school” as the ultimate goal. In reality, though, finishing high school is only part of the puzzle. We are also preparing our teens for the next step – post graduate education and/or career development.
Part of the reason I went forward with planning a homeschool college and career fair for my homeschool group was an awareness about our tendencies as homeschoolers to move career development to the back burner. And I get it! It can be challenging enough accomplishing everything that needs to be covered by our student for a high school diploma.
The other reason I created a homeschool college and career fair is that I am just a little passionate (read obsessed) with seeing people connect with their interests. That amazing moment when a person connects with the “right” job, receiving energy from a day’s work is amazing!
6 Benefits to Planning a College and Career Fair
There are some amazing benefits to a local homeschool college and career fair!
- The fair can be tailored to the specific needs of homeschoolers.
- Parents and teens can begin identifying schools of interest as they talk to colleges, asking questions.
- Parents can also gain a lot of knowledge on important dates, ACT/SAT, financial aid, the application process, and dual enrollment.
- It is a fun evening hanging out with friends and listening to speakers making career development less intimidating for teens.
- Students are exposed to a wide variety of careers, increasing the likelihood of sparking interest in a certain career field.
- Colleges are given the opportunity to witness first-hand the caliber of homeschool students.
Planning a Homeschool College and Career Fair
A homeschool college and career night, while a lot of leg work, is completely doable and fun for any homeschool group. Our homeschool group has around 100 families in a small Midwestern town, just to give you an idea of our size and budget, or should I say, lack of budget 🙂
The College and Career Fair has two elements that have made it an event that lots of families attend and teens request!
Local Colleges Are Invited to the Fair
First, the college aspect of the fair. One element to the fair is asking local colleges to come. Any college within an hour is typically happy to come. I started with a larger Christian college and our local community colleges the first year as they were the most receptive. The military is often thrilled to have the opportunity to attend too. Began making your phone calls several months prior so that you can get on the college and university’s calendars
Our event is the last week of February, and I start making phone calls in the fall.
By planning out several months ahead and speaking of our past attendance, I was able to draw more colleges in the second and third year.
Allow Colleges to Set up Tables and Speak at Break Out Sessions
Colleges are eager to have opportunities to speak so that makes your job easier. The evening is broken into various sessions and two tracks: Parent Track and Teen Track. Different colleges are invited to speak to the parents (teens are welcome to join, of course) on topics like how to apply to college, financial aid, scholarships or taking college classes while still in high school programs.
Having colleges speak on various topics works well for two reasons. Parents are more eager to attend if they believe that they can receive lots of information in one evening. And colleges are happy to put your fair on their list to gain the opportunity for a roomful of an engaged group of parents and teens.
Sweeten the deal by allowing colleges to set up booths where teens and parents can stop and ask questions before and after sessions.
Invite Local Career Professionals to College Fair to Speak with Teens
The other part of the program, Teen Track, is geared to the teens. For the “career” part of the evening, local professionals are invited to come and speak about their chosen career field. We include 7th grade and up, though you will find the younger siblings that come along are almost more excited!
Professionals share with the teens what a typical day looks like and what some of their duties are. Teen Track speakers also share characteristics or personality types that seem to thrive in that career field and education routes. Career speakers may also choose to share salary, perks of the job and some NOT so great things about the job.
How Do I Get Speakers to Come to a Homeschool College Night?
Most homeschool groups are run on a tiny budget. So how do you get speakers to come?
Some speakers will be compensated by their job because some public relation work is required of them. So several speakers will jump at the chance to talk to an interested audience while fulfilling the required hours.
Other speakers will just want to help out since they LOVE to talk about their job and want others to know about it.
Utilize parents in your homeschool group and homeschool graduates. Brainstorm with another homeschool parent about the parents and careers that are represented in your group. Invite some of your homeschool graduates to come back and speak too! You will be surprised when you start thinking about how many people you know that have interesting jobs!:)
Also, think about people you go to church with as they are a great resource too.
Another incentive is the opportunity to connect with families and advertise their business. If a speaker has a business allow them to hand out their literature to those in their group. Once we invited a local lawyer who was running for judge. He spoke on being a lawyer but also did a little campaigning! Worked for everybody! Another speaker was writing a Bible study manual. She taught about writing and self-publishing while sharing how to purchase her book. Win, Win!
If you are a personality test junkie like myself you realize that some personalities are drawn to certain jobs. So don’t worry about having every job represented. But do try to think do I have a job that a “creative” might like or a teen that is gifted in “leadership” will find interesting.
Discovering Your God-Given Gifts by Don and Katie Fortune covers the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible and has served as a rich resource when thinking of job “types” to include at the fair.
Discovering Your God-Given Gifts has also been such a blessing when it comes to volunteering in the community and in the local church. You began to see others and their gifts in a whole new light that makes it easier to work with others and appreciate their gifts.
What The Homeschool College and Career Fair Schedule May Look Like
For our homeschool college fair evening, we split it into 4 sessions. When the teens arrive they receive a schedule of the speakers with a brief biography of the speakers on the back. Each speaker talks for two 25 minute sessions, unless they can only do one session. Typically, the teens will have 4 different speakers to choose from for each session.
The evening moves quickly! Prep your speakers beforehand that you will have to stop them after 25 minutes to give the kids time to move to the next class. Speakers may share their business information, if they so choose, to allow an interested teen to contact them with questions or set up a job shadow!
Planning a homeschool college and career fair is so rewarding! Parents, teens and even the speakers all reap the benefits from this amazing evening. If you are feeling led to create a homeschool college fair, step out in faith. And I hope by sharing, you realize how doable it is for your homeschool group! Comment below with any questions!
(Need more great advice about preparing your homeschool student for their career? Check out our career-related posts.
I’m Miranda, The Reluctant Cowgirl. Educator and Vibrant Life Mentor. A city girl married to a country boy! The Reluctant Cowgirl encourages busy moms of tweens and teens to care for their emotional health so they are better equipped to care for the well-being of their family. Single parent, blended family, homeschool mom, heart attack survivor…I’ve been there. After 15 years of facilitating groups, I have witnessed the challenges that so many moms of tweens and teens face in life. And I know that you are doing your best to take care of your family. But are you taking care of your personal growth and self-care? Find practical advice for an emotionally vibrant life at The Reluctant Cowgirl. Join Me!
(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.