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What We've Been Up To Lately: Literature, Logic, and Learning Experiences

Life is rich, full, and BUSY when you have teenagers in the house.

I thought life with toddlers was tiring and mentally draining, but life with teenagers is a different kind of busy. (God bless the families that have toddlers AND teenagers.)

We’re tackling some BIG ideas - both emotionally and academically.

I can see, however, how much homeschooling our children has equipped all of us for this point in our children’s lives. The relationships we have created and the habits we have developed over the past several years are equipping us to tackle high school and college.

By God’s grace everything ahead of us seems GOOD - even if it is hard. Usually a chai latte, a good book, and some quiet time for prayer have been helping me put everything into proper perspective.

Literature, Logic, and Learning Experiences - What We’ve Been Up To Lately in Our #homeschool @ Homegrown Learners

Literature

Books really do help us escape to other worlds. Finishing a book also gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose - not to mention learning loads of interesting things while I’m reading.

Some really cool things have happened recently in our house with literature.

  • My son is reading a new collector’s set of The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings. He is suddenly intensely interested in reading Tolkien - and his friends from his homeschool group are all spurring each other on with what they are reading. One of my prayers for my son has been for his love of reading to continue as we make our way through the Challenge years.

  • My daughter is tackling a part of Le Mis in her 12th grade World Literature class. (Have you seen how BIG the book is? I bought it a few weeks ago and it scares me!) The two of us enjoyed seeing the Broadway production of Le Mis a couple weeks ago - it was spectacular! We had a great discussion about the themes of justice and mercy surrounding the story.

  • I am making a lot of wonderful history connections in my 2019 . My first big book of the year was One Summer: America, 1927. Now, I’m almost finished with The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Interestingly enough, the historical fiction I chose to go along with these was Next Year in Havana. I learned so much about the history of Cuba through this book. All three books together have given me a deeper perspective on life in America in the 1900s.

  • Several of you have been joining me for the Beauty in the Word book club study. I highly recommend reading this book when you have dedicated time to truly dig into deep ideas about your children’s education.

  • Reading aloud is also a staple in our homeschool - and yes, even big kids like to be read to! We just finished Homeless Bird (beautiful) and are in the middle of Nowhere Boy. Both of these books are turning the kids’ attention to issues in other parts of the world - through stories of children their own age.

  • Finally, I love to use our time in the car for listening to audiobooks. Grant and I have been listening to Bold & Broken by the Benham brothers. The theme of being broken is surfacing a lot in my life, and I am finding great power in admitting my own brokenness - and how sharing that brokenness can be a bridge for others to Christ. This book is humorous but also poignant - it’s just the right mix for a teenage boy. Because the Benham brothers were pro baseball players my son relates to them quite well.


Logic

Logic studies this year have been difficult. My son is a bright boy and this is one of the first times he is encountering true difficulty with a subject.

My mantra has been “process over product”.

So much can be learned from struggling through this logic curriculum - and I hope I’m freeing him up to struggle by letting him know it IS difficult and I’m not expecting perfection, just his very best effort.

I can see great value in studying logic, but I will tell you it isn’t something I would have selected for him on my own. This is a part of his Challenge B curriculum.

And let’s pause for a minute to talk about grades. This is one of those subjects where I’m not strictly keeping “grades”… after all, I don’t want him to get a C on a test and leave it at that. If he gets a C on a Logic test then we will struggle through the answers until we come to understanding. After working towards mastery with his best effort that seems like an A to me.

I’m setting up children for lifelong learning, not learning to regurgitate on a test.


Learning Experiences

The middle and high school years are bringing huge learning experiences for my kids.

We’ve always required our children to take piano lessons.

When March rolls around it is time for the Federation festival. This year Grant memorized two pieces and played them for a judge. I’m proud of him for receiving a Superior rating.

Anna did this festival for nine years in a row, and this was Grant’s sixth year. It teaches them perseverance, patience, and valuable performance/presentation skills.

This year Grant’s pieces seemed to kind of fall apart in the week leading up to the festival. I assured him it was a normal part of the preparation process, and he managed to pull out a Superior at the festival.

A little bit of nervousness, facing our fears - and then performing well - is such a great learning experience!

grantpiano.png

Meanwhile, on the same day, Anna drove to Spring Fest at the college she is attending next year. She did this on her own! The drive is two hours - which made this mom just a little nervous.

She learned a lot more about the college and came home with all kinds of details about their Special Education cohort program. The students move through their last two years of school together, student teaching throughout. They also offer a study abroad program focusing on special education in other cultures.

I could have gone with her, but she wanted to do this herself. She has always been my strong willed child (a challenge for this homeschool mom!), but I can clearly see that strong will working for good as she gets older.

Moms, if you have a strong-willed child just stay the course. Be firm, loving, and allow them plenty of opportunities to be independent. Let them take control of their education. I’ve learned my daughter needs to own her successes and failures, and the entire college application and selection process has been no different.

She’s also had a setback with a roommate situation. She thought she was all set with a roommate who is a friend of hers now, but the roommate has decided to attend another school. I must admit, my heart broke a little for her because having this one thing settled was making Anna feel so much more confident about school. This setback, though, has been a good opportunity to stress God’s hand in the process, and it is the first of many obstacles that Anna will have to overcome in her college career.

Another learning experience. You cannot control a situation, but you CAN control your reaction to the situation. (a good reminder for all of us!)


As we’re preparing for the change of transitioning to high school for my youngest and college for my oldest, we’re still in the process of settling my father-in-law’s estate.

Yesterday was the first time to go to his house after the estate sale. The house was totally empty. Talk about a sucker punch to the gut.

I think is one of the hardest things we’ve ever been through.

(At that same time we received news that my niece had a new baby - a precious little girl. The cycle of life is one thing we can be sure of, isn’t it?)

The theme of our lives this year is CHANGE. So much change. Even through all the changes and hard times we are OK — we are blessed in so many ways.


He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4


Now I will be turning my attention to planning a graduation celebration for Anna and a Confirmation celebration for Grant - two big events coming this spring!


I’d love to know what you’ve been up to in your homeschool lately!

Leave a comment below to share with us…


Literature, Logic & Learning Experiences - #homeschool encouragement to stay the course

Organized Sports for Homeschoolers

We’re entering into new territory in the life of our homeschool: organized sports.

If you have younger children you might truly be wondering what your athletic child will do when the days of Little League, Upward, and various other rec league opportunities come to an end. Sports opportunities are abundant when kids are little, but what happens when they get to the middle and high school years?

Quite a few parents have told me they have decided to send their child to traditional high school for the sports opportunities (among other reasons). I believe this is fear talking - or perhaps sports sound like a good enough reason to stop homeschooling your high schooler.

As the mom of an extremely athletic boy, I understand the importance of sports. They provide a much needed physical outlet, a vehicle for a competitive nature, and an opportunity to challenge personal limits.

Then that homeschool mom mindset kicks in. You know what I mean. We tend to be skeptical of “group” anything. We also tend to hold our children’s activities quite closely. We’ve done a lot on our own thus far, right?

Organized Sports for Homeschoolers

As you seek the best sports situation for your child, be sure it aligns with your homeschool vision. What are your ULTIMATE goals for your homeschool graduate? Will these athletics support those goals?

Have you prayed with and for your child about their education? About their athletic opportunities?

Sometimes FEAR begins to kick in as our children approach the high school years. Don’t ever forget we must have faith - not fear.


Organized Sports for Homeschoolers in Public Schools

First, we need to understand the facts - more specifically the facts for the area where we live.

Many states have passed the Tim Tebow Law. Basically, certain states have given the ok for homeschoolers to participate in public school sports teams. (Here is a list of the states and a little more about the law.)

I imagine that, if you live in one of these states, weighing the pros and cons of participating in a public school sports team is important.

If you homeschool for religious reasons, be prepared for God to be off limits now. You should also understand the INTENSE peer pressure that exists in public high schools today. Some of the statistics surrounding sexuality in public high schools are astounding.

Then again, you may know the exact situation your homeschooler would be stepping into - and if you keep close tabs on the situation all could be well.


Organized Sports for Homeschoolers in Hybrid Schools

Homeschool hybrid schools also provide sports opportunities for homeschoolers. If you aren’t familiar with this term hybrid schools are…

... a model where children split their time between homeschool and a more traditional schooling environment. This could be three days at home and two days at school, two days at home and three days at school, part of the day at home and part of the day at schools, or a variety of other options.
— Forbes Magazine

In my area (Atlanta metro) there are an abundance of these schools. These schools give homeschoolers a chance to play on their sports teams, sometimes regardless of their enrollment status.

Organized Sports for Homeschoolers in Private Schools

This option is one we have become acutely familiar with in the past year.

Many private schools (especially smaller schools who might need players for teams or who are trying to increase their revenue) welcome homeschoolers on their sports teams.

My son has been playing basketball for a local Christian school this season (in fact, they just won the state championships - how awesome is that?). The benefits have been TREMENDOUS, and we have loved the emphasis on Godly character and sportsmanship.

Organized Sports for Homeschoolers

Sometimes all it takes is putting out feelers to see if there are schools in your area that allow homeschoolers to play - and it never hurts to make a call to a school to ask about their policy.

And here’s an interesting side note - we actually had a choice of where my son would play basketball this year - a local hybrid school or a Christian school just down the street from us.

I love that we have CHOICE! (Homeschooling is so mainstream now, and the opportunities are endless!)


Create Your Own Homeschool Athletic Team

Homeschool parents are resourceful when there is a need for their children.

We have played on a tennis team that was organized by homeschool moms. They secured two tennis instructors and lessons were offered each Friday morning. Children who were interested could play on a USTA team (easily organized by a parent).

I can imagine the sky would be the limit with the sports opportunities you could create - if you know children who are interested and someone who is willing to lead/instruct the group, you are set.


Homeschool Sports - Use the YMCA

Finally, we have used our local YMCA for many years.

Our branch offers basketball, tennis, swimming, baseball - and probably so much more that I am not even aware of.

Granted, these opportunities tend to diminish once children are in 9th grade.

My children also use the YMCA for simply working out, too. Our membership has been of such value during our homeschooling years. At one point my kids even took a Homeschool PE class at our local YMCA.

(In the same vein, don’t forget about local sports academies that might offer things like soccer, flag football, etc… )

Organized Sports for Homeschoolers

I hope you are reassured about the ABUNDANCE of opportunities for athletics in the upper years of homeschooling. I’m in the middle of it all now, and will keep you posted as life for my sports loving boy continues!

Do you have an older child in organized sports?

Where do they play?

Leave me a comment below and let’s share situations!

Organized Sports for Homeschoolers