10 Reasons to Join a Homeschool Club!

10 Reasons to Join a Homeschool Club!

Why do we love homeschool clubs?

Writing Club is one of the highlights of our week here at True North Homeschool Academy. We meet twice a month for a time of writing, reading, skills building, discussion of great books and smart goals. Students are writing plays, novels, poetry and more!

We are expanding our clubs at True North Homeschool Academy to include Speech, Debate and Art Club! Why? Because homeschool clubs are an essential part of Jr. and Sr. High School! Don’t believe me? Here are ten great reasons why your 7th-12th grader should be in a homeschool club!

Homeschool Clubs offer accountability.

In a homeschool club, students meet regularly with others with similar interests and abilities, setting goals and report progress to their classmates and club mentors. Writing down and sharing goals is a sure-fire way to move ahead with them!

Homeschool Clubs provide a diverse learning environment.

Rubbing shoulders with those who know more than you allow students to have something to reach and strive for. In our Writing Club, we have students aged 12- 17 with a broad range of ability, experience, and passion. The older kids encourage younger students and provide amazing role-models.

Homeschool Clubs offer mentorships.

Being a mentor for those who don’t know as much as you do gives students a chance to hone their own abilities. The best way to learn something exceptionally well is to teach it. In writing club students with experience are reaching out to younger students to offer advice, encouragement and support, share contests, online resources, editing, and more!

Homeschool Clubs are skill building.

Clubs allow students to grow and develop their skills in ways that they possibly wouldn’t seek out on their own. Our writing club has delved into songwriting, comedic sketch writing, and more based on the interest of club members!

Homeschool Clubs are low stress but offer high rewards.

Clubs allow students to immerse oneself into an area of interest without a huge time or monetary investment. Jr and Sr high school is the perfect time for students to explore various areas of interest. Clubs give students support to explore and develop in areas that may lead to career interests, lifelong hobbies, friendships, and professional skills!

Homeschool Clubs are a great way to earn credits.

Clubs are a low-stress way to earn credits. Our writing club is automatically worth a half a credit a year but students can earn up to a full credit of writing, depending on their goals and commitment. This allows students to build their transcript in a low-stress fun way!

Clubs often offer side benefits.

Because our good writers are readers, our writing club does a weekly “Book-Share” too. Students learn about different genres, learn assessment tools and participate in co-authoring quarterly “Tweens and Teens Book Recommendations,” which are published on our blog. Also, students have the opportunity to write blog posts for our blog, allowing them to publish before a fairly wide audience while still in high school.

Homeschool Clubs offer more freedom than a traditional classroom.

For example, homeschool club members can socialize with people that they have things in common with. In our Writing Club, we often do break-out rooms with smaller groups. The kids work on projects together, like writing poems or songs and have a blast laughing, brainstorming, and coming up with amazing ideas together.

In a Homeschool Club, everyone is there because they want to be there.

They are already interested in the subject matter which makes it easier to make friends! People tend to be warmer and more engaged when it’s something they want to do versus something they have to do. In our Writing Club, kids are meeting and talking with kids from around the country both inside (and outside of class).

Homeschool Clubs allow students to have input!

On the suggestion of one of our Writing Club members, we have writing “buddies.” Kids were paired up randomly with someone else in the class. This is because kids wanted to be able to continue writing prompts, share ideas, and brainstorm outside of class. The enthusiasm is contagious and some writing buddies are even writing stories together!

Clubs. We LOVE them at True North Homeschool Academy because we LOVE watching students learn, grow and develop into people who are passionate and eager to engage in the world around them!

What are you waiting for? Join a Club for Spring!  At True North Homeschool Academy we offer:

Which one will you choose?

Do you feel like your homeschool student needs more?  Then maybe it's time to check out a homeschool club!  Homeschool clubs offer a level of fun and social interaction that can't be found anywhere else.  Find out ten reasons why we at True North Homeschool Academy love homeschool clubs! #homeschool #homeschoolclubs #homeschoolwriting #socialization #homeschooling #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy

How to Start a Writing Club

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.

Have you ever wanted to start a writing club?  Check out True North's easy steps for forming, and leading, a fun and engaging writing club.

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
  • Memes
  • Scripture
  • 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
  • Graphs
  • 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!

Have you ever wanted to start a writing club?  Check out True North's easy steps for forming, and leading, a fun and engaging writing club. #homeschool #writingclub #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Blogging if You Homeschool

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Blogging if You Homeschool

Blogging Goals

I had a couple of goals for blogging when I started back in 08′- to write more regularly, to be part of a broader homeschooling community than I have locally, and to have a creative outlet that was less messy and expensive than scrapbooking. What I didn’t expect was exactly how many opportunities and challenges would be available to me through the world of blogging. If you are looking for a fun new challenge for the New Year, why not add blogging to your list? Below are 7 compelling reasons to do so:

1- Reflection
Blogging, like scrapbooking, gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you’ve done. Hindsight is often 20:20 and when you write a weekly report, or a book review or a post about your summer vacation it allows you to think deeply and carefully about what you’ve done, what you haven’t done and what you hope to get done.
In the same vein, blogging helps one express their reflection in varied ways. I wrote a book review, very tongue in cheek, a bit too cavalier, and the author commented. This author is a world class, best seller. How on earth did she find my little review? But she did, and it was not that kind, even if it was funny. I was focused too much on getting a laugh and not enough on the fact that there was a person who had put their heart and soul into something. I apologized and changed the review but it caused me to reflect, once again, the power of words, and the power of kindness.

2- Visual Memory
Writing, and therefore blogging, about a book, movie or curriculum  forces me to think about the content in more robust and dynamic ways . Rather than a simple descriptive re-telling of a book, movie or curriculum, I want my blog to examine themes, content, quality and value. My readers might not agree with me, but I want to at least add to the discussion and prompt people to think.

3-Discovery
My original goal of being part of a homeshooling community beyond where I live has been met and exceeded by far. I have met homeschoolers and bloggers on every continent who have the same victories, struggles, hopes and dreams as me.
I have participated in amazing blogging challenges and communities (stay tuned for the 5th annual Virtual Curriculum Fair-taking place every Monday this January) that have broadened any opportunity I could have found in my small corner of the world.
I have been able to chat with curriculum writers and suppliers and have the privilege of reviewing some world class products, all because I blog.

4- Create Personal Momentum
When I write a weekly report, if forces me to realize what we’ve done- what we haven’t done, what we could have done. I see the holes in our schedule, the places where I am far too draconian and pitfalls to be avoided. I’m challenged by blog challenges, by weekly reports, by Christmas decoration link-ups. I see places and opportunities, I rub shoulders with others doing more, and I am encouraged to go beyond what I think I can do. There is a synergy that comes from blogging.
Is it that important that I blog about our Christmas decorations? Not really. What is important is that we came together as a family, we laughed, sang Christmas carols, talked about memories and favorite traditions, shared moments together. I’m often encouraged by others, and hope that my blog/our life can encourage others to live life together, instead of in front of  a screen, that families are challenged to talk about their faith, the books they’ve read and that education becomes an intentional transmission of culture instead of a haphazard one.

5-Peer Review
If you’ve homeschooled for any length of time, perhaps you’ve discovered that it can be a lonely path. And yet, the world wide web allows us rub shoulders with others traveling the same narrow path. In other words, even homeschoolers have peers.
Sometimes this will garner you criticism, trolls or snarky comments. Learning to deal with troublemakers is all part of the show and a skill set unto itself.
But more often than not, you will discover your tribe on-line and it is seriously gratifying when that happens. The friends I have made, the amazing, touching, wonderful comments that this blog has given someone hope, caused them to laugh or call their sister have made my day. Comments that folks are praying for us, are encouraged by our testimony, that they’ve been challenged to re-think their expectations, or even just their math curriculum encourage our entire family.

6- Raise the Bar
Hitting the “publish” button is immediate. Spell check is a part of my life- though it is not fool proof, grammatical construction is really a fantastic tool and synonym finder is my friend. Having the potential of a world wide audience has raised the bar, as it should.

7-Creative Expression
If you are a closet artist, like myself, blogging is a fantastic and cost effective form of expression. Photography, writing, graphic design, vlogging and more- there is plenty of room to grow and expand. There are plenty of free tools on-line,  making it actually cost effective for anyone with access to a computer and a creative turn of mind.

If you blog, what are some of your reasons for doing so?

You might also be interested in Writing Club, The Lost Art of Letter Writing,and C.S. Lewis, Literary Mentor.

C.S. Lewis: Literary Mentor

C.S. Lewis: Literary Mentor

Discovering C.S. Lewis

I discovered C.S. Lewis (affectionately referred to as Jack) years ago as a college Senior. I started with the Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve always been a reader who delves into a body of work, and then branching out to read about the author. The problem with C.S. Lewis’s work is that it takes time to mull, think, integrate, re-read and mull some more over   My speed reading pace was slowed by deep thoughts and truths that C.S. Lewis demanded I pay attention to.  After beloved Narnia, I branched out and discovered the Space Trilogy, Till We Have Faces, and The Great Divorce; some of my favorite books to date.

Jack

Book mentors have held me in good stead in life and I have several. None can replace Jack however, and our family quotes and refers to his work often. Besides reading his books, we’ve read biographies about his life and watched movies about his books and the man himself. Jack has been a mentor and a friend to me, though I have lived in a different time and place, expanding my understanding of what it means to live life well.

Literary Mentors

If you don’t have Literary Mentors of your own, I highly suggest it. These are people whose writings have influenced and shaped your way of thinking and interacting with the world. They may or may not be your contemporary, but you  can engage with them via their writing. When I find an author I really enjoy, I tend to read their body of work. I often go well beyond that, reading about the author themselves, finding out about the time and place that shaped and formed them and their literary skill. Some of mine have been C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and even Dr. Suess.

C.S.Lewis Club

If you can’t get enough of C.S. Lewis, why not join Amber Fonseca for a fantastic adventure this fall as she facilitates our C.S. Lewis club! She’ll be leading students (8th grade and up!) through the reading of both Surprised by Joy and Pilgrim’s Regress. If you haven’t yet discovered these two gems (or even if you have!), you won’t want to miss the opportunity and learning that comes from interacting with challenging text and ideas in a group setting! Blended Learning is a fantastic way to create a more rich and engaged Homeschool high-school experience!

Join our FB Group for a discount on Clubs! Check out more great on-line classes and opportunities!

This club is designed to be a 1/2 credit +.

 

 

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Letter Writing

Our 23 year-old is at Army Basic right now, training for the Nat Guard. Our only communication from him for several weeks, other than an awkward scripted phone call, has been writing and receiving letters. He has been faithful to write each one of us, and we have committed to making sure that we all write to him regularly as well.

In doing so, I realized that as a culture, we don’t write letters anymore. My 15-year-old wasn’t even sure how to address an envelope. She wasn’t exactly sure what went into a letter. It’s been an interesting, eye-opening opportunity.

Letter Writing in the Past

When I was growing up, letter writing was what people did. I have letters in the attic from my grandparents, parents, sisters and friends. Both Grandma’s wrote in the same exact, tiny, beautiful cursive. I had pen-pals around the country, some were daughters of my Mom’s college friends, some girls I met at camps; some I wrote to for years. My mom wrote to my Gram each and every week on a yellow legal pad, dated, with news of her only grandkids, work and what was weighing on her mind. They still talked by phone regularly, but Mom’s letters got mailed every single Friday, and I know they were a special, treasured gift upon receipt. While most of us write emails by the tens, a hand written letter is a rare commodity in todays electronic age.

Letter Writing as a Gift

Writing letters is a personal gift. This week, both the 18 year old and 15 year old spent over an hour thinking, mulling, writing, creating little doodles on letters, for their older brother. They didn’t write anything earth shattering but they did take time to tell him about our puppy’s latest antics, how the new trees are growing, about drama camp, and to remind him that they loved and missed him and summer wasn’t as great without him here.

My daughter and I found a funny card to send him this week-end, and it reminded me of the quirky little MailGram’s I would receive from my Grandpa when I was little. A funny little stuffed doll, with a telegram and $5. I still have one of those little dolls in the attic, along with letters from Grandparents whose love and care for me I took for granted as a part of life growing up.

Letter Writing in History

I started thinking about how much history we have as a result of letters. Abigail Adams’ letters to John are legendary, and as a team that helped shape and form an entire country. Martin Luther King Jr rallied for justice, writing letters from jail, quoting Paul, letter writer extraordinaire, as evidenced by much of the New Testament. Dwight Eisenhower, nine years before he became president, rallied the troops as they fought against tyranny on D-Day by exhorting, “Liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.” My brother in-law has a letter from a President, framed and proudly displayed, as would I! And there are so many more.  If letter writing is a lost art, I hope that you take a few minutes to revive it this week. Write a hand-written note to a friend, or relative, or a young Army recruit whose family doesn’t. Few people get mail anymore and the very act of writing in your own hand conveys time and care.

How to get your kids started with letter writing?

Determine who you will be writing. If you can’t think of anyone who would enjoy receiving a letter, contact your local nursing home, or church or contact Operation Gratitude.

  1. Show them how to address a person on a letter. One usually begins with, “Dear ___________,”
  2. Talk about 2-3 things, 1 per paragraph. For instance, the weather where you are at, what birds or wildlife you are seeing, your garden, recent activities you have been a part of, what you are cooking, books you are reading, etc. Make it personal and engaging. Include humor or jokes if appropriate. Ask the recipient about how and what they are doing, share a memory.
  3. Show them how to end a letter, with a sign-off; for instance, Cordially, Sincerely, Affectionately, Love, Warm Regards, All the Best, etc.”
  4. Have them sign their name.
  5. Talk about the importance of legibility.
  6. Sketches and neat doodles add to the personal aspect of the letter.
  7. Teach your kids how to address an envelope. Their address in the upper left hand corner, the recipients in the middle with which part of the address on which line as well as where to place the stamp.

Inspiration

For inspiration, her are some works of epistolary writing (yes, it is it’s own genre!). Check out the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis to begin with and then check out this list of letters from Presidents, and a great list of other books based on letters.

We’ll be talking about the power of the pen, and letter writing in our Creative Writing Club this year! Designed as a ½ credit course, your student will have a lot of flexibility to spread their literary wings, while still developing their writing skill and style.

The C.S. Lewis Club is designed as a half credit, 1 semeseter class that will delve into lesser known works of one of the great writers of our time!