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ADVICE & COUNSEL FROM A HOMESCHOOL EXPERT
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Graduated ... now what?

>> Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This is a topic that comes up periodically when I chat with parents of high school homeschoolers. I was encouraged to see an article in the May/June issue of HSLDA's Court Report dealing with this very topic! I think that Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer have provided some excellent ideas in their suggestions for that first post-high school year.

In case you haven't had time to read the article, please allow me to summarize here and offer some thoughts of my own ...

  • Take time to mature ... a very valid point which discusses the differences between those kids who are "born old" and those who may be "late bloomers" when it comes to deciding what to do in life after high school is ended.
  • Gain a year's job experience ... another good option for kids whose financial status requires them to bulk up their bank account a bit before heading off to college or pursuing a different life's goal. College debt can be a huge burden, so this may be a valid choice for kids seeking increased financial stability from the very beginning.
  • Explore the globe - this is one I wish I had thought of as a high school senior! Let's face it, most of us won't have this kind of opportunity again once we are married, or begin a full-time job. So if your student has dreamed of travel and is financially able to swing it, this may be a great time to fulfill that dream.
  • Find ministry opportunities - short-term missions is a wonderful avenue for gaining personal experience and exploring possibilities for future ministry. Our daughter took part in a 6 week ministry opportunity the summer between graduation and college. It was a tremendous experience that gained her valuable people skills and increased maturity.
  • Pursue special interests - perhaps you have a student who excels in music, or a specialized trade or even a foreign language. A year of additional exposure may give them a leg-up when applying to college or seeking a job in their field of interest.
But are there any downsides to taking a year off between high school and college? A couple come to mind. Having spoken to some who have done so, it can be difficult to get back into the "swing" of academia once you've experienced a year away from the demands of a schedule. There may also be some scholarship opportunities that are only available if you are entering college immediately following high school.

Ultimately, it will depend entirely on your student's circumstances and goals, but it is nice to know that there are a world of options available to choose from!

Blessings ...
~Judy

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School Year in Review

>> Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yesterday I was putting the finishing touches on the final reports I needed to send to my school district. Included in those reports were the results of my students' assessment tests. We happen to use Iowa tests ... but have tried various assessments in the many years we've homeschooled.

As I compared the test results with those from previous years, I once again noted a pattern of strengths and weaknesses for each of my kids. It's always good to keep current with areas that my kids excel in and areas where they struggle. I find this especially helpful as I plan for the coming school year. Test results are often part of my decision making process when I purchase curriculum materials.

I also enjoyed looking back over material studied, books read, and projects completed. I allowed myself a few moments of proud reflection as I noted areas where my kids did very well. I also struggled for a bit with that always present homeschool mom "guilt" over areas where my kids didn't do as well. But all in all, I'm once again thankful for the opportunity and privilege to educate our children at home.

Feel free to share some of the highlights of your school year!

~Judy

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Time Management - Meal Planning

>> Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer is upon us and with it comes the freedom to travel, take long walks, visit the beach, and grill almost every meal. But before you know it the school year will arrive once again and it will be time to put a schedule in place. Next to getting laundry done, one of the hardest things to schedule seems to be meal preparation. How many times have you looked at the clock only to realize it's 4:30 pm and you have nothing defrosted for dinner?!

Here's a simple approach to meal planning that has worked well for me for years.

Divide up the week into 7 categories ... something like this:

  • Monday - Chicken dish
  • Tuesday - Pasta
  • Wednesday - Beef dish
  • Thursday - Casserole
  • Friday - Pizza Night
  • Saturday - Left-Overs
  • Sunday - Crockpot Meal
Next, purchase an index card file or box to hold a series of 3x5" cards. Divide them into six categories:
  • Chicken Recipes
  • Pasta Recipes
  • Beef Recipes
  • Casserole Recipes
  • Pizza Recipes
  • Crockpot Recipes
Copy your favorite recipes for each category onto a 3x5" card. Then file appropriately.

Each time you prepare to go grocery shopping (I happen to shop twice a month), pull out one recipe per day from the appropriate category. Then base your grocery shopping list on what you know you will be cooking.

Your categories will vary based on your family needs. As our children got old enough to work in the kitchen, they became responsible for meal planning and preparation and this plan was helpful as they took on this new responsibility.

Take some time this summer to create your own meal planning recipe box. Check out my recipe blog for some new meal ideas. Share some of your favorites here!

~Judy

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