Tag Archives: high school

Unexpected Lessons

This past weekend was a busy one. I had the opportunity to attend the Write2Ignite! writing conference, and I took two of my children along with me.  Three of their cousins attended as well. The youth class for middle school and high school students was taught by author and teacher Carol Baldwin, so  I signed them up, confident they would discover some things about how to write a story of their own.

And they did. My daughter Cassie, now 12, really enjoyed it and said she had learned a lot. My son John agreed.

What I didn’t expect, though, were the opportunities to work on other skills as well — life skills. When we arrived at the conference early Saturday morning, Cassie began looking around for her friend who was also coming to the conference.  The friend hadn’t arrived yet, though, but there was a girl about Cassie’s age sitting with her dad.

“Go over and introduce yourself,” I said, recalling the class in communication Cassie took last summer. “Remember what you learned? Just go up, tell her your name, and ask her what her name is.”

Cassie looked at me with her eyes wide, like a deer in headlights, as they say.  “Well…” she began, and I knew she was thinking up a reason not to go. Moments later, the girl’s friend arrived, and they were sitting together.

“You know,” I said to Cassie, “You can learn a lot more than writing at this conference. You have a chance to reach out to other people. Your friend is coming, but she doesn’t know your cousins — introduce her and pull her into the group. Then, you can go meet those two girls over there, and pull them in as well. What an great opportunity!”

“Maybe,” Cassie reluctantly admitted, and she went to find a seat until her friend arrived. That’s when I began scanning the room for someone I knew to talk to. Some people were getting coffee, some were reading, some were just sitting alone at a table. Then I caught myself —  it looked like I had that same opportunity.

Photo by taliesin


This is my third year of being part of the Write2Ignite! Conference, and I’m so excited! This year, the conference will again be held at North Greenville University in Greenville County, South Carolina, February 19-20. And one of the best features: the Teen Track for middle and high school students!

This year’s Teen Track Speaker is author and teacher Carol Baldwin. Her goal: to inspire students to write the story only they can write. By the end of three sessions, students will have created original characters and placed them in believable settings, brainstormed conflict and plot ideas, and learned how to mine from their own life experiences.

And that’s not all! Carol will also show them the benefits of the red pen, as they learn how to edit their own work. She’ll also describe for them the path to publication and how they can become published, too.

If you’re also interested in writing, you could make the conference an educational experience for both you and your child! Although this conference is primarily geared towards Christians who write for children, there’s a lot of great information for those who write for adults as well. Workshop topics include researching,  creating characters, writing devotionals for adults and kids, crafting queries and proposals, understanding contracts, building a web presence, and more.

Featured speakers of this conference include Marybeth Whalen of Proverbs 31 Ministries, agents Jenni Burke and Les Stobbe, editors Cindy Sproles and Terri Kelly, and authors  Michelle Buckman and Jill Roman Lord,  just to name a few.

So if you have a budding author in your family, consider having him or her attend a conference like Write2Ignite! I’ve attended the past two conferences with my children, and we all came from it inspired, encouraged, and ready to write!

A Typical School Day

This school year is not turning out quite as I expected. With Child #1 high school now and Child #2 in sixth grade, I anticipated them doing more work on their own, leaving me a little more time to work with the Child #3 and Child #4. It hasn’t happened that way yet, though, and we’re already into November.

Our school day starts out pretty laid-back, and I begin working with my first grader, Child #4. Before we’re done, however, Child #1 calls my name.

“You’ll have to wait,” I respond. “Go on to something else until I can come.”

Since Child #2 already saw that Child #1 didn’t get help right away, Child #2 tries another approach and stands beside me with her book.

“I have a question,” Child #2 says.

“Wait until I’m done,” I answer. “Go work on something else.” But Child #2 continues to stand there. “It’s just a quick question,” she says.

“Oh, all right,” I say, interrupting the lesson with Child #4. That’s when Child #1 comes into the room.

“Why are you helping her? I asked you first, and you told me to wait.”

I start sounding like a pirate at this point. “Arg! Fine. Let me help Child #2 a minute, then I’ll help you.” Meanwhile, Child #4 is still waiting to continue his lesson.

“Mo-o-o-om!” Child #3 calls from the other room. “I need your help!  I can’t finish this.”

“Bring it here,” I call back, figuring Child #4 and I have lost our momentum anyway.

“Can you come here?” Child #3 answers.

My sweet teacher-like disposition is now almost totally gone. “No — you have legs — you come to me.”

Child #3 comes in as Child #2 finishes. I begin to help Child #3, when Child #1 says, “You know, I asked for your help a long time ago. Why are you helping Child #3 now?”

I look down at Child #4, still waiting to complete his lesson. “You can go play,” I say, and another school day has begun.

The Crogan Adventures

If your son enjoys intrigue, excitement, and a good book, the Crogan Adventures may be just the series he’s looking for. Written by Chris Schweizer, these action-adventure stories follow the lives of the Crogan men throughout the generations.

The first in the series, Crogan’s Vengeance, tells the story of “Catfish” Crogan, an honest sailor who boards a ship with a merciless captain. When the ship is waylaid by pirates, Catfish his shipmates join the crew. What follows are mutinees, storms, and sword-fights — all key ingredients to a great adventure.

The second book, Crogan’s March, follows Corporal Peter Crogan, a French legionnaire in Africa in the early twentieth century. In the story, Peter must endure both long marches and sandstorms as his loyalties are torn between his captain and his sergeant. When his entire squad is killed and he is captured by Tauregs, he makes a daring escape, leading other prisoners to safety with him.

The Crogan adventures are definitely books geared for boys, particularly those in middle school or older. Violence is depicted, as you would expect in a pirate or war story, and is probably too much for younger readers. Women have only very small roles (there’s not one in the first book at all) — these are definitely books intended to be read by boys, just for the enjoyment of the action.

And there are more books to come! The inside cover of the book reveals all the characters of the Crogan family, including a ninja, a trail blazer, a lion tamer, a pilot, a diamond miner, a private eye, and Revolutionary War soldiers.

You can find the Crogan series in bookstores, online, or in your library. So if you have an older son, check one out — and let the adventure begin!


Last Friday night, we attended a graduation ceremony at a local church for the seniors from our co-op. It was a very nice service, and even though I only knew three of the students who were graduating, by the end of the ceremony, I knew them all a little better.

After the official welcome, the service began with a couple of song selections by the choir from co-op, made up of about fifteen students. The procession of the graduates followed; from our small co-op, we had fourteen seniors.

Next on the program was a musical performance by five of those graduating. They played Pachelbel’s Canon  — but in way I had never heard before. Instruments in the ensemble consisted of a cello, drums, an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, and an electric guitar. I think the teens created the arrangement themselves, and it was well-done. Unusual, but very creative.

The youth pastor of the church then spoke, followed by the presentation of the diplomas. When a student’s name was called, he or she went up on stage along with his or her parents. The student gave the mom a rose as a letter was read out loud to the student. Sometimes the letters were written by the mom, sometimes the dad, and sometimes both. All of them were bitter-sweet as they reflected on events along the way, the time homeschooling, and the transition from childhood to adulthood. (The students had a chance to express their thoughts to their parents as well, each one writing a note that was published in the program.)

As each letter was read, photos of the student as he or she was growing up were displayed on a screen. The dad then presented the student with the diploma. Following this presentation, a slideshow of the seniors, put together by some of the students, was shown on the screen.

Though the graduating class was small in number, they concluded their homeschooling years in a memorable way. I know of other co-ops and organizations who have similar ceremonies. It’s exciting to me that, just like homeschooling itself, graduation can be tailored to fit the families involved. What an opportunity to make it so meaningful!

Planning for High School

My oldest son John is finishing up the eighth grade, and the thought of keeping up with courses, extracurricular activities, transcripts, and standardized tests of high school makes me feel more than a little nervous. We are planning on John going to college, but we won’t be able to pay out of pocket for tuition, which means that we also need to be knowledgeable about potential universities, their costs, and any scholarships available. So when I hear about seminars, classes, or other information regarding homeschooling your high schooler, I’m ready to learn.

One tip I heard recently was to plan out your child’s high school career from the beginning. You will save yourself a lot of stress in the junior and senior years if you already have a clear idea of what your student needs to take not only to graduate but also to meet college admission requirements.

To do this, find out what courses are needed for graduation within your state, then check college websites for courses your student needs if he wants to apply to those schools. For example, our state requires only one foreign language course to graduate from high school in the college prep program. Some universities in our state, however, require the student take three years of the same foreign language if they plan to attend. I know, then, that if John might attend one of those universities, he’ll need to start a foreign language course no later than his sophomore year.

It’s not hard to find out what classes you’ll need. For high school graduation, simply do an Internet search of using the name of your state and the words “graduation requirements.”   To find out what colleges are looking for, google the name of the school and “admission requirements.”

After an afternoon of searching the web and studying the possibilities, I think we’ve come up with a pretty good four-year plan. There’s room for flexibility, and we won’t be caught short in the senior year. Now on to the extracurriculars….

Getting Ready for High School

cohdra100_1411Last week, I attended a class called “Homeschooling Your High Schooler” presented by homeschool veteran and speaker Tandy Collier. It was a great  class, focusing on what to do to help your homeschooled child get accepted into college. With my oldest son John entering eighth grade this year, I need to begin thinking ahead now.

This is especially true in our state. Students can begin receiving high school credits for some classes they take in the eighth grade. This year, John will be taking two classes that can count towards his high school credits. I realized that even with those extra credits, however, we need to map out now the courses he’ll take in 9th-12th grade, just to be sure that he stays on track. With so many dual enrollment and online learning opportunities, he can have a strong start when it comes time to enter college.

But there’s more to plan. Ms. Collier mentioned that colleges and universities admission counselors like to see that a student is a dedicated member in an organization and sticks with it for a long time. They also like to see that the student has a variety of experiences withing that group. With so many extracurricular activities available, we have to decide together just which ones he should participate in. Up to now we haven’t done much with organized sports, opting instead to pursue scouting, which John still enjoys. He’s also continuing on with music and playing the piano. But there’s much more to choose from: 4-H clubs, Civil Air Patrol, Teen Pact, theater, chorus, and band, just to name a few.

Was the class intimidating? No — rather, it was encouraging. Last year, my husband and I discussed whether or not to continue homeschooling through high school, and at the time we felt it was the right way for us to go. Now I know we’re headed in the right direction. I also know it will involve a lot of work and a lot of planning, and I need to stay on top of things as we enter the high school years. But I also know that for the most part,  I have one more year to prepare. Whew!

I Think We’re In…

pencils2Last week I received an email stating that the co-op we visited had enough openings for the next school year – they have a place for each of my children if we decide to join (we were actually put on the waiting list last year).  The cost of the classes is minimal and they offer a variety of courses from elementary through high school. 

Just a couple of days before, I had spoken to a friend of mine who had registered her children at another co-op and was still waiting to hear if they had the room. We talked about starting our own co-op, and she seemed excited about the possibility. We both knew other families who might be interested, and we discussed location possibilities. 

My children were especially excited as they thought of attending classes with their close friends. While they recognized a few faces at the co-op we visited, there were many students they didn’t know.                                    

Then I opened the email, and I wondered what to do. I was glad they had room for us, but now the other plan was taking shape. 

I spoke with my friend again, and I found out she had been accepted into another co-op. They are going forward with that one, so the plan to start one of our own has been placed on hold. Although I’m a little disappointed, I’m also relieved – starting and running a co-op is a lot of work. This past year has been a very busy one, and adding such a big responsibility to my list probably would have become overwhelming.   

We officially have until June 1 to decide whether we will join the co-op or not, which gives me a little more time to think and pray about it. But it’s looking really good to me right now, so I think we’re in…. I think we’re in… we’re in?

To Join or Not to Join?

a-coopTo join or not to join a co-op next fall…that is the question. It’s a question I ask myself every spring as co-ops begin accepting applications for the next school year.

We’ve been part of two different co-ops, one for just one semester, the other for a year. When we joined the first one, my children were eight, five, three, and six months. We had several friends who attended the co-op and loved the enrichment classes that were offered. The year we joined, though, the format changed a bit, and my eight-year-old was in a math class with other third graders. It didn’t go very well. Homeschooled elementary students, even those in the same grade, tend to work at math at different paces. Depending on the curriculum used at home, students might also be learning different concepts.

They changed that class to Spanish for the next semester, but a couple other things weighed in on my decision to stop. The class was experiencing a lot of discipline issues that went unresolved. Also, the financial cost was more than we could comfortably afford, and it was hard helping out on my required days with a baby in tow. So, we finished off the year at home.

Two years later, a friend approached me about joining a Classical Conversations co-op. We participated for a year, and since I taught the finances worked out all right. We didn’t re-join, however, because I still wanted to follow the curriculum we were already doing at home, and the lessons from the co-op just became extra work we had to do. Classical Conversations is a great program if that’s the basis of your curriculum, but it just wasn’t the right one for us.

So here we are, with my oldest going into eighth grade next year, so I’m thinking about co-ops again. Co-op classes can be great resources for teaching those upper level classes like Chemistry, Biology, and Algebra II. We looked at a co-op on Monday that offers those types of courses to middle and high school students for a very reasonable price. Right now they’re full, however, and we’re on a waiting list. I’m not sure how long the list is, but the director encouraged me to consider starting a new co-op with friends who are also interested.

So now the question becomes… to start or not to start a co-op?

Photo by ShelahD