Author Archives: faithfulscholars.2014

Summer Days that Count as School

Each summer Faithful Scholars answers questions as to which/whether days can count toward school– CC practicum/camp, music camp, mechanics camp, car trips, vacations based around historical stops, etc.  YES!!!  You can, and should, count them.  Value and give credit to all learning achieved toward the goal of raising lifelong learners.  To learn and have it discounted due to being officially on break is silly.  One more beauty of homeschool!

At preset we have a reading contest going on.  Toss in some math, look at the science gleaned through explore and discover, and have a discussion on current events at dinner.  Viola!  School without the typical pressure of school.  That being said, my children are older so while we count these days, we always go over our 180 in order to accomplish/complete all of the traditional knowledge that we wish to ingest during the year.  When they were younger we simply and joyfully counted the days and focused on 3.5 day weeks of school and lots of adventure, friend, service time.

Our best days are spent learning as we play and playing as we learn.  It gets to the point of thinking that we ought not count them because no blood, sweat, or tears were shed much less paper trail created.  For children under the age of 7, learning IS play.  When your sweet little one wants more school work it is because it is fun to ‘play school’.  Obviously it makes mama super happy, it is time together, and every child wants more of that sorta game.  My children used to play being a student while doing their schoolwork, being siblings, cleaning their rooms…..  Huh???!!  It is all a fun and games in their incredibly alive imaginations as long as we cultivate those precious ethereal ‘lands’ to remain intact.

The younger your child is, the easier it feels to count days.  Face it, everything experienced, discovered, practiced, and explored is learning.  Add in some formal math and daily reading and you are golden.   Math and reading comprehension are the pillars to all learning.  If your child can do these subjects well, they can self-teach all other subjects.

To feel comfy in counting your summer-learning, renew your association membership as soon as your year ends.  Perhaps you don’t feel that you are doing enough to count every day, but certainly some come along that make you think, “THIS is certainly school-worthy.”  Trust your instinct.  You are equipped with a brain to reason and a spirit of honor.

Middle and high school grades become a bit more formal with longer days as you present more complex concepts and spend the time digging, practicing, mastering.  However, those days of “THIS is certainly school-worthy.” still come about— and you can trust yourself!

Homeschooling parents are some of the most honest and honorable people that I have ever come across.  We would rather err on the side of fault than take something that we did not fully earn, deserve, or understand.  Continue to reason.  Continue to honor.  Continue to trust.

9th Grade Q and A (CC Related)

 Mom:  I have purchased the official  high school binder to keep all of M’s records organized. I have  your helpful list (from previous support email) printed and highlighted in the front. etc…  Last night I reread through all of the info concerning high school on the Faithful Scholars website. Thank you so much for being so thorough in the information you give us.

Faithful Scholars:  Great job doing your homework.  We have a lot of information on our pages and appreciate when you sweet mamas give it a read.

Mom:  I have the four year plan I sent you last summer. THANK YOU again!   The task before me is to write out course descriptions  and determine my grading rubrics for each course.

Faithful Scholars:  Don’t go overboard.  Firt check the textbook publishing site to see if they have done the work for you.  If so, cut/paste and celebrate.  If not, don’t go overboard.  Just hit the highlights with an aim of 2-4 sentences per subject.

Mom:  M be a CC Challenge I student this year as a 9th grader.  I printed the sample transcript for a CC student that you provided. I was anticipating Honors credit for some of the courses he will take this year. My understanding is that CC structures their program to be Honors level work.  I am a little confused as to whether these Challenge courses would have to have additional assignments that extend the scope, sequence, and rigor of the subject material already required. ?

Faithful Scholars:  CC courses are created to be honors with the additional projects being built in or availalbe through your classes.  Make sure to understand that Honors means reading every page, doing every assignment, question, quiz, text, project, etc- 100% of everything.

For CC this typically evens out as the top 1/3 of each class is able to claim honors on at least some of their coursework, but like all students, being super strong in all subjects is not a typcial reality.   That means that even if M ends up in the top 1/3 of the class over all, you must consider/assign honors class by class according to his (100%) completion of all work.  The grade he earns is not relevant.  Be more conservative in freshman year and add on a few more each year as M chooses to work to that level.

Mom:  Are there any Challenge I courses that are considered not core subjects that need prior approval for the Honors level?

Faithful Scholars:  Non-core/non-academic courses such as foreign language, debate, drama, music, art, public speaking, and such are rarely assigned honors weight.  The exceptions being when the student is winning awards- and even then it depends upon what subject area.

There are places and ways to highlight the incredible non-academic achievements of our high schoolers, but it is not necessarily on the transcript/GPA.

How ‘weight’ is assigned is ALL about how college intake personel will ‘read’ each transcript.   With too many honors in all subjects it can read as point grubbing or GPA bumping IF NOT supported by stellar standardized test scores, awards, and other supporting information.

Faithful Scholars researches thoroughly before offering guidance in areas that we do not understand.  Behind our answers are many college registrars and a team of college prep private school guidance counselors with 100+ years combined experience and vase college connections.  Our goal is to build the best transcript for each of our uniquely qualified students.  None of our students will ever reveive anything less than a uniquely built transcript highlighted their strength, balancing their academics, and reading favorable at first blush (first brief-reading).

Mom:  We were considering Honors level work for some of the courses this year, but  not all.

Faithful Scholars:  Very reasonable and authentic.  This is the norm among most high school students, traditional and non-traditional, and what the colleges like to see.

Keep in mind that Honors is not assigned because the child worked super hard but rather because of 100% completion of work (and, if not an honors crafted text or course, an additional 30 hour project).

Mom:  Some of  CC Challenge I  moms plan to meet soon to discuss honors, rubrics and grading practices for these students.  Are there any words of advice that you can think of to give us?

Faithful Scholars:  1.  Always ask your accountability association what their practices are before moving forward based upon another mom’s “I heard…”- unless she heard it from her association and you belong to the same association.  Still, you may want to double check as there are many opinions and practices out there even from association to association.

2. Our lawyer encourages our families to work within the full breadth of the SC Home School Law.  It is extremely broad.  An example would be the recent debate over the need to take history and science each high school year even thought graduation requirements state less than 4 credits in these subject areas.  Some associations would adamently state that you must in order to fulfill the law (that you agree to follow when choosing to homeschool).

Faithful Scholars will challenge you to find a day in your life that you did not teach/learn history and science?  It is impossible.  Sweetly, our law does not state the number of hours, the requirement of texts/books, or the need for these ‘teachings’ to be formal.  That is not to say that you can count daily living/learning as credit (I know you unschoolers understand what I mean because all of your dailing living learning is purposeful–here we are talking about non-purposeful learning that simply can’t be avoided unless you game your day away, listen to nothing, talk to no one, etc).

3.  An ultimate source of wonderful information when selecting course work are your (student’s) college(s) of choice.  Each college is a little different.  —  Have your student call.  It is great practice for them and the colleges absolutely love it!

4.  Begin taking the PSAT, ACT, SAT early, decide which one suits your child best, and take them several times.  Prep classes are worth the money.  Spend the extra to get the questions missed as this will help pinpoint areas in need of further study, test taking skills honing, and/or rusty areas.  Many libraries have wonderful standardized prep programs, so begin there and allow your tax dollars to work for you.

5.  Consider at least one dual credit course to acclimate your student to learning from a professor that may not care a lick beyond his/her research, signing up for classes, getting around a campus, organizing their time, showing up to class, etc.  It is a great pre-view to college.

Mom:  I am a little confused about Saxon Math and how it translates into the more recognizable course names  once you move past Algebra 2.

Faithful Scholars:  Typically parents will not .5 credit of geometry alongside 1 credit of Algebra 1 and 2.  If your student is not a strong math student and needs to move slower, that is possible by breaking Algebra into Albebra 1a and 1b.  At the end of 2 years you wuold count .5 credit of geometry.  Then Algebra 2a and 2b with a .5 credit of Geometry.

Other math options for non-math minded students are Business Math, Consumer Math, Finance, Accounting, and so on.

Think more akin to a private school student than a public school student.  We do not have to follow their course requirements nor their course order.

 

Going Slow is Sometimes Like Medicine

Ponder the last time you spent a day or an hour or a moment purposely going slow. A mom wrote the above title to me the other day after she had watched a box turtle meander along and fireflies dance. These are reasons to homeschool, right?

How is it that we get caught up in completing one more task, creating one more organized space, engineering one more functioning schedule, and then decide that now that we have a well oiled machine, er schedule, er family/school unit, we should add MORE!! We could achieve more if we put our children on a yellow bus, yet we chose a path less traveled. One with lots of lovely bends in the road bringing who knows what or who around the curve. Do we make and take the time to embrace those lovely surprises or do we groan as they come along knowing that they either must be ignored, avoided, or allowed to topple our proverbial apple cart?

A homeschool life is such a wonderful journey. Not always amazing in ways that warm the cockles of our hearts, but amazing the ways that life is amazing–BECAUSE of its continuous ups and downs. You may be one that makes every attempt to straighten out the road so as to avoid unexpected surprises or you may be one that zooms down the road so focused and fast that the unexpected surprises simply blur into the past. Or are you one to round the corner, see a slow turtle, and allow it to stop you in your tracks for many moments of goodness, beauty, and truth?

After all, you were probably NOT drawn to homeschool for the exacting nature and pace requiring drill sergeant-like attention to detail, pace, and accomplishment. Quite the opposite. We innately recognize that we are fully equipped to lead, guide, and teach our children towards Truth. In that we study Beauty. Through this we find Goodness.

How was your year? Can you remember the times that you watched the turtles plod and the fireflies dance? If you are like me, you know that you did take a few of those moments, but can’t recall doing it as much as you would like. For my part, my morning cuppa will be spent on my backyard deck or wandering about my yard or peeking at my sleeping children. Dishes can wait, the house will always need a tidy up, and business hours need not be done away with simply because a laptop can travel far too easily.

Grass is Greener

The grass is always greener when seen from a distance.  My fellow homeschoolers all have it together while I still flop and flounder.  Or am I just looking at things from the wrong angle?  My side view shows beautiful lush green.  Step into the middle of that ‘grass’ and suddenly, as you look directly down and about, you see the bare patches and realize that much of the green is made up of weeds.    Perspective is a grand thing, but can only be attained if we get outside of our own safe world of opinions and judgements.

Once we realize this phenomenon, do we give others grace?  Or do we continue to berate ourselves as not having it all together because of X, Y, Z which ‘they’ obviously have and you do not have?  Let’s lay down our defenses and focus on the work at hand.  Then, when you look up, you will find yourself shoulder to shoulder with a friend helping to decide how best to improve or utilize your bare spots and weeds.

High School???!!!

The thought of teaching a high schooler at home can be daunting unless it has naturally occurred year by year as a committed K-12 homeschooling family or it is a situation of getting your high schooler out of a bad situation in traditional school.  Even then it jangles ones nerves all over.  That being said, most amazing things cause this core reaction… the first time you saw the person you were to marry….saying, “I do!” and learning the day by day lessons of marriage… finding out you were going to be a parent,,,, holding a tiny precious baby knowing that you also held full responsibility….. and on and on it continues.  This feeling is nothing new, it just is right before you which causes it to seem larger than life.  Once you take a step onto the actual path things take their place, work begins, and, like all wonder filled things, you go at it moment by moment, lesson by lesson, day by day until 4 years have miraculously gone by, books full of memories surround you, and your child continues growing up.

Curriculum is a Tool, Not a Goal

As we excitedly plan out our learning and lessons for next year it strikes me how the butterfly-joy welling up from within is based on the journey rather than thoughts of the completion of another year.  It feels like running into a dear friend who has been out of town for a while.

In the beginning, I thought it was about getting through a long list of requirements year by year.  The concept of being able to fall into a lesson of intrigue and remain there for as long as we wished is foreign- feeling somehow that it must be wrong, illegal, something.

After years of following my heart instinct, experiences have confirmed, in multiple ways due to various and sundry children’s testing, attending school, going to college, etc. that this method works.  But, it still feels confusing to educate in such a non-traditional manner.

We use books- many books but rarely follow one all the way through as we don’t believe that gives a worldview from which to platform discussions.  We learn how to learn traditionally because that is the world we live in.  However, day to day lessons are fluid, aimed at my children’s future selves, built toward their interests and gifts.  Rarely are two days alike.

There is rhythm to each day, there is sequence to our lessons, there is beauty as well as tears, and there is trepidation that I’m missing something, I’m doing it wrong, I’m fooling myself.  God is giggling right now as He whispers in my hear, “Katie, my beloved, that is faith.  Trust.”

Harmony- She is Illusive

Finding harmony based upon routine is one of a homeschoolers core daily struggles.  Even for those of us who are determined to maintain a fluid day, there must be some order.  When do the children wake, what lessons are the big slimy toads and need swallowing first, who needs what nutrition at what time in order to balance out minds and moods, do I answer the phone or pretend not to listen to the voice leaving a message, do I check emails or call it multi tasking as I take a potty break, and on and on.  So, fluid is wonderful, we strive for it, but what gives us the most harmony is doing as we ought to do based upon what routines we have put into place.  To let these go for a day, much less a week, means having to push start a solidly build iron caboose all over again.  Obviously we don’t relish that idea, so why not put it off for one more day, and one more day, and disharmony arrives without us even noticing.

Keeping motivated for our own chores, expectations, meaningful work etc. is only the beginning.  On top of this we must guide and encouargae our children in this same area- this same area that we so often stutter-start, falter, and fail in.  It is a constant seeking.  One that is most often just illusive enough to erringly convince us that it is unattainable.  —And then we grasp it; hold it for a few precious moments; become exhausted in the maintenance it requires; lighten our grasp– and out ‘she’ goes to be sought once again.  It is in the journey that we grow, not in the reaching of the destination.  That is the wonderful thing.  Enjoy the journey.

 

But…What do Colleges Prefer

 

by Ashley Brookshire, Regional Director of Admissions for the West Coast

It’s a question I hear often – mostly from families at college fairs who are frantically trying to absorb every available nugget of information available to them in the tight time frame of the event: “But… what do colleges prefer?”  bend in the road

“My daughter has the opportunity to take classes at our local community college this summer or do an internship – which one do colleges prefer?”

“My son is thinking about going on a mission trip or finding a job for the summer – which one is better?”

“I can either stay with band or debate for my senior year, but not both. What should I do?”

Students, and parents, are hoping for a concrete answer – a guaranteed road map to get in to the college of their choice. If an admission counselor says it, then it must be truth, and should be followed to a “t” (trust me, we wish we had that kind of all-knowing power!). But if you’re reading this in hopes of gaining a paint-by-numbers insight into the college admission process, I’m afraid you’re going to be terribly disappointed.

The better question to ask is “why do we ask students to supply an activity record with their application?” Is it to count the number of hours you spent volunteering at a local hospital? Do we tally the number of times you were elected into an officer position for a club at school? No, on both counts.

We are looking at three things: your experiences, the talents you possess, and the skill sets that you’ve developed throughout your high school career. These three items help us gauge your fit and potential impact on our campus.

Experiences

Your experiences inform your beliefs, passions, and ambitions, and ultimately, this is what we want you to bring to our community. What types of opportunities did you opt into (or in some cases, stumble into by chance) and how did they differ from your initial expectations? Have you stepped into a club, trip, or commitment that was outside of your comfort zone? The beauty of a college campus is its ability to offer a more robust list of experiences than most high schools can provide. What experiences are you bringing to the table? I’m not just talking about the stamps in your passport. When we look at your application, we want to see the behaviors that make you open to experience life with new people, places, and activities.

Talents

A talent is an innate ability to do something, whereas a skill set is learned and developed. Many of the families I speak with seem to focus on talents, but in the admission process, skills sets are equally as insightful (more on that in a moment). I haven’t been a powerful force in a music classroom since learning to play the recorder in 5th grade. I can appreciate that some people have inherent abilities that I do not. If you have talent in art, music, dance, athletics, or public speaking, then you’re likely drawn to these types of activities. What students usually overlook is that you determine how your talents are utilized and ultimately captured on your application. Are you part of a club, company, or team that allows you to hone your craft? Have you created opportunities for others to engage in this activity? From an admission perspective, we’re not looking to fill a class of individuals who were born with special talents. We are looking for students who are motivated to share their unique talents in impactful ways.

Skill Sets

Skills, on the other hand, are developed. They are practiced, trained, and learned. These can be hard skills (programming, marketing, or painting) or soft skills (networking, time management, perseverance). Sometimes students apply so much effort to developing a skill set that it appears as a natural talent to others, leaving them unaware of the work going on behind the scenes. The skills you’ve cultivated by balancing your time outside of the classroom and working with others will make you a powerful member during the many group projects you’ll work on in college. Enrolling in a summer academic program or college course will sharpen your academic prowess and allow you to accelerate your coursework in college. The leadership skills you’ve gained as a club officer at your high school will embolden you to step into pivotal roles in one of the hundreds of organizations that contribute to our campus culture. As a volunteer, you’ve stayed mindful of those around you and connected more personally to your community. All of these experiences, talents, and skills bring positive value to a college campus, yet all cannot be pursued at the same time. Even in the summer, there are a limited number of hours in the day.

The Answer

So, back to the original question: “which (insert activity here) do colleges prefer?” We prefer that you use your time intentionally in whichever way you feel best engages your interests, utilizes your talents, and allows you to grow as an individual. These are the types of students who will join a college community and thrive both inside and outside the classroom. At the end of the day, we want to enroll a well-rounded freshman class. This is quite different than every student in our class being well-rounded. It means that, as a whole, our class is filled with philanthropists and athletes, musicians and researchers, leaders and employees, and their collective experiences, talents, and skills create dynamic, thought-provoking interactions on our campus. But before you schedule every free moment of your summer, remember: summer should bring reprieve with it. Enjoy the additional time in your day – days are longer and summer doesn’t normally hold the same time commitments as the school year. Take a deep breath, celebrate your achievements over the course of the last year, and catch up on that book or tv series that you set aside during the school year. After all, senior year and college application season is just around the corner.

 

 

Considering Homeschooling- education vs. being educated

Homeschool is about creating a culture of education, daily devotion to curiosity, and practice of diligence toward discipline.  It is more about character and less about the completion of, or in some situations, the ‘experience’ of, material.  Homeschoolers use books to grow our children in the areas of faith and diligence.  An incredible academic education is almost a lovely side effect of teaching at home.

Consider the fact that one must be educated in order to truly understand, practice, and defend their faith.  To be diligent and kind one must understand the parameters and purposes of such acts; why they ought to be grown from within; why they desperately need to be practiced each day.  These acts are caught rather than taught.  Following goals of completing a book simply for the sake of checking off a subject in order to progress to the next book will be hard pressed to lead a child to faith and character.  Reverse that order and it is such a lovely and common sense approach for a person to use books, any books, to grow our children in stature AND education.

“The goal of education should not be the completion of a book, but, rather, the lighting of a fire.”  Some famous sage made this statement ages ago.  Wish I could remember their name for you, but I think those brain cells shrunk with baby #4 or was it #5?

When we school at home we have the time to model for our children.  We have daily pressure to walk what we talk rather than the need to preach into the void of time between school, practice, homework, and sleep.  We unlimited opportunities to socialize and learn alongside other children/parents with the same end goals rather than a wave in a carpool line and a hope that your child is no longer hanging out with (insert nemesis name here).  There is no need to undo 8+ hours of gunk build up in order to get back to an open and teachable attitude.  Instead, we must work on ourselves in order to know when to lead, guide, encourage, respect/love, chastise, or challenge.

Homeschooling mamas have such a desire to get to Heaven that we daily open ourselves up to sanctification through educating our children.    leap of faithWhen we school at home, we have the time to educate our child in a lasting manner that considers and encompasses their whole life rather than simply preparing them for college.  Education should be a lifelong quest.  Modern education stops between the ages of 18 and 24 with nary a book to be opened again.  Once they head out your door, the time for imparting faith, character, and kindness is over.  However, if they have been encouraged to find joy in learning, satisfaction in doing hard things, respect/love in following their curiosity, they are well prepared to learn anything they would like in college and beyond.

God can redeem all things,  Please do not read into this that I am discounting His power.  I rely on His power as mine falls so far short- and I seek this homeschool quest daily with a couple of decades of experience.

I can think of nothing more worthy of my weekdays than practicing and speaking consistent love into the hearts and minds of my girl-women, and practicing and speaking consistent respect into the hearts and mind of my boy-men– using books as one of my main mediums.  Our whole house becomes a part of our Culture of Education, lessons are taught and caught all day long no matter the location, the book, or the time.  It is who we are- people who are curious- people who learn- people who master- people who share with others.

Our whole house becomes a part of our Culture of Education, lessons are taught and caught all day long no matter the location, the book, or the time.  It is who we are- curious people, learners, masters, givers, etc.  As if there could be nothing better:  We share this gifted journey with a community of like- minded people who we can truly get to know during hours of socialization while we guide our children toward the common goal of educating the whole child.   Those who understand the difference between an education as something to worship vs. being educated in order to live fully as God intends for each and every one of us.

My prayer for this blippy blog is that you might haver a better understanding of the difference between an education as your end goal vs. education as a lifelong pursuit to live fully in communion with others- as God intends for each and every one of us- loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Have Your Standards Dropped?

As the year went along did your standards go along with it?  ….You may be a homeschooling mama if….. you are an idealist who cannot maintain her ideals because there are so many of them!

The year begins, you have your curriculum set, your daily master plan laid out, and your energy reserves on high.  This is going to be the best year ever!  I mean EVER!  THIS is the year for perfect penmanship.  Day one is a wake up call to tune of ‘nobody wants to do school’.  To be honest, neither do you.  Perhaps this is day two or three at your home, but at some point the rosy bloom fades as we (children, mom, dad) realize a root word of home school indicates entry into trenches of hard work.

How can this be with such incredible lesson plans, wonderful academic groups, stellar social outings?  Standards begin to slip with a lesson here and there under the daily duress caused by a little one waking with The Grumpies and derailing the day.  (*on my best days I remember to send this child back to their room immediately as this attitude illness is highly contagious)  We convinced ourselves that a once a week lesson in insert nemesis subject here is adequate and/or will be caught up on during insert holiday/weekend here. (*on my best days I remember to eat the slimy toad first)  Somehow said slimy toad does not make it back to the A List.

Fast forward a few months and the What-Did-I-Forget-This-Year joins the What-Did-I-Forget-This-Day going to sleep review.  …Never caught up in that subject ….forgot to add in this subject… did we cover enough in those subjects?  Realizing we dropped some subjects altogether we ask how and when this could have happened?  Looking back you find that your last check date was JANUARY THIRD???!!!!  Were we even doing school that near to Christmas?  Well, it is my handwriting, so we must have been unless another alien abduction occurred.

Is recovery possible?  Happily, the answer is yes–if you want to, if you summer-school, if you realize the subject was a much-needed-basic as opposed to a fun-sounding-filler.  What’s up with all these hyphens?!  If your subject of concern falls within the first catagory, the good news is that you can focus deeply on this area over the summer.  This includes high schoolers.  If you fall into the latter category, realize that some of what you placed on your child’s lesson plan was temporal busy work that you saw as ‘fun’ (worksheet worship) rather than eternal expansion that is often seen as ‘play’ (explore/discover/create).   In either case, you can lay down your guilt, and know that you will be wiser in planning and executing next year.  You have given your best and realized that, as always, you fell short of perfection.

You may be a homeschooling mama if…..you want Heaven so badly you are willing to submit to daily sanctification applied through your children.