Praxis: College Alternative Apprenticeship Program

My oldest is a freshman in high school and is adamant that she wants to pursue a degree in environmental engineering. She has already begun taking college courses to prepare her for this journey while also pursuing other areas of interest in art and foreign language.

My son, on the other hand, insists he does not want to go to college. Yet, he is very bright and learns quickly. He hopes to someday earn his pilot’s license but beyond that, his goals are less clear.

He states, “I want to make it on YouTube!” It is hard to convince him that the probability of achieving this is less than getting a full athletic scholarship despite his top-5 state times for swimming.

What the future holds for either of them is not certain. What I do know, however, is that they will seek out opportunities that are rewarding as well as fulfilling. While college is the goal for many, we as parents also know that there are alternatives.

What if your high school senior could get an awesome startup job right now, whether she has a degree, a few college credits, or no college at all?

Praxis College Alternative Apprenticeship Program @EvaVarga.net
I was compensated for my time reviewing this product/service, you can read my full disclosures here.  All opinions are honest, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Praxis Apprenticeship Program

I recently discovered a very intriguing program called Praxis and I am more than a little impressed. Praxis doesn’t just teach you about business theory – it is so much more. The program combines educational modules, 1-1 coaching, real world work experience, and personal projects to launch your student to success and an exciting, engaging, and profitable career.

According to their website, “Praxis is a 9 month startup apprenticeship program that leads directly to a full time job. No college degree required”.

Praxis Apprenticeship Program

The folks at Praxis have created a formula that works.  The combination is a 3 month business Bootcamp + a 6 month paid apprenticeship at a growing startup, the result is a guaranteed job with a startup company (no college degree required).

Homeschool Entrepreneurs

We are big fans of Dave Ramsey and we often listen to his podcasts in the car. His philosophy has sparked interest within my kiddos to start their own businesses – she a food cart and he utilizing his new drone.

Their interest and drive is not unusual for homeschoolers. In fact, homeschoolers typically graduate high school with more life experience than your typical public or private school graduate. This often correlates to higher maturity and work readiness. This is something Praxis readily acknowledges. Praxis: Homeschooling = Entrepreneurship

This is not an internship — participants add real value at a company that wants to see them grow and succeed. They shadow the founder(s) of the company, complete self-driven projects, and get to see what the real day-to-day of growing a company looks like. Upon successful completion of the program, they receive a full-time job offer at their business partner. The average salary is $50,000 per year.

Praxis encourages applications from homeschoolers.  In fact, they love getting homeschool applicants.   If you are already interested, you can apply here.

We will be looking at this program for our kids and can’t wait to hear about more results within our homeschooling community.

Ever Wanted to Visit Switzerland? Now You Can With Case of Adventure

Travel has always been a major part of our homeschool lifestyle and we consider ourselves to be World Citizens. We do our best to immerse ourselves in other cultures while also learning more about our own nation’s rich history and geography. When I learned of the opportunity “to travel to Switzerland” with the CASE OF ADVENTURE Switzerland Unit Study, I knew it was the perfect fit for us.

Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland unit study @EvaVarga.net

Whether your family enjoys traveling or has never traveled overseas, you’ll love how Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland makes learning come alive.

Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland is the first book of the CASE OF ADVENTURE travel series. It centers around a homeschool family that travels regularly. Upon reading the first chapter, your kids will dive into adventure with Ren, Rome, Jake, Libby and Tiffany as they discover an ancient coin and a mystery connected with a cuckoo clock which takes them to the beautiful land of Switzerland. In their quest to solve the puzzle, they unearth some fascinating history and recover a lost fortune.

Switzerland Unit Study Resources & Ideas

We’ve have always had an eclectic, Unschooling approach to educating our children. Many of our most enjoyable learning experiences have been unit studies using a novel as our spine.

Some of our past unit studies include:

We thereby relished in the opportunity to explore Switzerland in a unit study based on the novel Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland. It was a relaxed way to stay engaged in academics through the holidays.

I began each morning reading aloud a chapter or two and then the kids would dive into the investigation suggestions (IDAs) at the end of each chapter. Several videos related to the content were suggested for each chapter. We thereby learned how cuckoo clocks were made, how ropes are made for mountain climbing, relative distances, the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland (a huge part of the mystery), and the process of cheese making.

Huge metal vats of curds and whey were stirred with big metal arms and the curds cut into small blocks with wire slicers and then reheated. 

“How does the milk change into cheese?” asked Rome of Frau Von Allmen. 

“They add a culture to the milk. The culture is a bacteria which changes the cheese as you heat it,” she replied. 

cheese factoryUpon reading about the family’s visit to the large cheese houses in the village of Gimmelwald, we revisited our own experience in cheese making at a local cheese factory. Inspired, we also enjoyed making cheese fondue and sampling a variety of Swiss cheeses we found at our local grocer.

To coordinate with our science studies, I asked each of the kids to write an expository essay describing how a cuckoo clock functions – describing the simple machines within. As I shared our activities with family over the holidays, we learned that Grandma Raandi (my mother) has one she says needs a little repair that she would be willing to give us. We haven’t yet got our hands on it (she doest live locally), but we look forward to applying our new knowledge soon. We’ll keep you posted. :)

I love how living books can encourage further investigations and explorations of topics. Following these little rabbit trails are what make homeschooling so unique. After immersing ourselves in the Cuckoo Clock Secrets, it is no wonder that Switzerland has now bumped up on our “must see” countries list.

Switzerland Lapbook Activity Packs & Printables

If you are pressed for time or if you are inexperienced in putting together a unit study of your own, CASE OF ADVENTURE makes it easy. In addition to the great novel, they have also put together a wealth of activities and downloadable resources. Destination Switzerland is available now and Scotland will be available soon.

Switzerland Unit StudyVisit CASE OF ADVENTURE to purchase the Destination Switzerland Unit Study as well as download the FREE Maps Pack and Money Pack to use for your geography studies. You will also find the Mega Travel Activity Pack that goes along with any novel in their series. Filled with spy gear and codes – this activity pack will bring the mystery to life, especially for younger kids.

My kids have never been very keen on lapbooks and we don’t have a color printer. Thus, what I appreciated best in the activity packs was the teacher manual which provided all sorts of amazing tips and suggestions for integrating Switzerland studies into our daily activities.

Worldview: CASE OF ADVENTURE is not a fully secular curriculum. There is mention of Christianity, bible study, and prayer but the curriculum and activities that accompany the novel are not a Bible curriculum.

Connect with CASE OF ADVENTURE

Follow CASE OF ADVENTURE on Facebook and Instagram to learn of future titles and activity ideas. You will also find them on Pinterest. If Twitter is more your style, follow Karyn Collett, the author.

Take advantage of the Special Launch Discount of 25% off entire cart for 10 days only – use coupon code: 25LAUNCH (February 1-11, 2017) or enter to win

Please note the discount is applied to the downloadable products only, not the print book from Amazon.

Homeschooling High School With College in Mind: A Book Review

This past winter, my daughter has been swimming on the local high school swim team. She knew many of her team mates from club swimming but those who didn’t know her frequently asked, “What grade are you in? Why don’t I see you on campus?” When they learn that she homeschools, their response is generally a shrug and softly muttered, “Hmm.” 

As the season has progressed and they have gotten to know her, the questions have evolved. “Are you always going to homeschool? When are you going to stop? What about college? Don’t you want to go to college?” 

When she then tells them she is already enrolled in college courses (as a high school freshman) they are often surprised. At our local high school, it is not uncommon for students to take part in dual enrollment courses – earning credit for both high school and college. However, most are juniors or seniors and there are only a few sophomores.

Homeschooling High School

Homeschooling through high school is unfamiliar territory for many, even amongst those who have homeschooled their children in elementary school. Homeschooling high school instills fear in many who even think about tackling it. Algebra, science labs, and transcripts?! Oh My!

Algebra, Science Labs, & Transcripts Oh My! @EvaVarga.netIf you are considering it – know you are not alone. There are many who have walked this journey before you and have done so with success. I amongst them. Though we are just beginning and we still have lots to learn, I will be sharing our experiences with you here on my blog. Here’s a peak at a few I’ve shared already:

Homeschool Forecasting: Coordinating Schedules, CLEP Exams, & College Courses

Raising Teens While Saving Your Sanity: 12 Must Read Books for Parents of Teens 

We DO Intend to Homeschool High School

I am also one of four bloggers who regularly host Finishing Strong, a weekly link-up dedicated to families homeschooling middle & high school kids.

Along our journey, I am careful to seek out the wisdom of those who have preceded me like Betsy Sproger, who blogs at BJ’s Homeschool. Her blog is a wealth of information and I often select her posts to highlight in Finishing Strong.

I am excited to share that Betsy has now written a guide to college from a homeschooling perspective. Her book is based on her experience helping her gifted daughter get accepted by multiple colleges, including an ivy league university.

homeschooling high school

I received a copy of Homeschool High School with College in Mind by the author, Betsy Sproger, in exchange for an honest review. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Homeschooling with College in Mind

Her guide, Homeschool High School with College in Mind, not only walks you through the process of preparing your child for college but provides you with templates and forms you can use along the way. Betsy guides you through choosing courses with your student, how to maintain and keep records, how to calculate credit, tips for that dreaded college admissions essay, and so much more!

Her suggestions don’t push you into a box with an expectation that her way is the best way. She outlines what worked for her and gives suggestions for alternatives as well. She also outlines three distinct methods for earning credits – textbooks, hours, and mastery. Additionally, she provides an in-depth look at high school electives and extra-curricular activities.

Chapter Titles, Each of Which Include an Accompanying Printable:

  • Researching College Entrance Requirements
  • Planning High School with College in Mind
  • Choosing High School Curriculum
  • Assigning High School Credit
  • Making Your Transcripts (Calculating the GPA, etc)
  • Electives and College
  • Writing the College Essay
  • Course Descriptions and Reference Letters
  • Preparing your Teen for College Writing

The printed version is black and white and the Kindle version has full color images! Homeschooling High School with College in Mind is currently on sale at Amazon through February 5th!

The Kindle version is 45% off the regular prices of $7.17

The paperback printed version is 20% off the regular price of $9.19

Obstaclēs: The Little Giant with a Big Heart {book review}

I love to read! I especially like to read books that take me on a journey to the past or to other cultures. I love books that break barriers and stereotypes, exposing me to new realities and experiences of others. My favorite genres are historical fiction and magical realism popularized by Gabriel García Márquez.

Obstaclēs MCBD For the past couple of years, I have participated in the Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a book reviewer. It is an event I look forward to as I have an opportunity to not only learn about other cultures but I also discover new authors.

In years past, I have had the opportunity to select the book I would review in advance. This year, however, I left it up to chance. I didn’t have any idea with what book and author I would be partnered. When I received Obstaclēs in the mail, I have to admit I was a little perplexed. A giant dwarfed by his peers? Not exactly what I was expecting, but I was willing to take a chance and give it a go.

I am so glad that I did! What a great story and unique approach to topics today’s children grapple with daily.

I received a copy of Obstaclēs by the author, Gregory Ransom and his publisher, LuLu.com in exchange for an honest review. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

I, and my children especially, have always enjoyed science fiction and fantasy novels. With the popularity of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, it is no wonder that these fantastical realms are familiar to today’s middle school kids. Ransom, a middle school history teacher, uses these imaginary places and creatures to describe real-world problems that kids in middle grades may face, doing so in a way that is comfortable and endearing.

The hero in our story is Obstaclēs, a giant who is dwarfed by his peers and struggles to fit in. Students may see themselves and empathize with our hero as he works through issues of bullying, self-confidence, ADHD, and discovering the gifts and unique skills that he has to offer.

As readers will come to discover, this little giant has a big heart. As he learns to overcome difficulties with diligence and perseverance, he also comes to accept and love himself for who he is as an individual. When he recognizes that even a small giant can make a difference, he makes a huge difference.

Entertaining and encouraging, Obstaclēs is a great read for reluctant readers and those who struggle with self esteem. It is a terrific read for kids of all ages, but particularly middle grades (3-6).


Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

MCBookDay-white-21-300x234Current Sponsors

MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsors

Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra RichardsElsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:

Raising Teens While Saving Your Sanity: 12 Must Read Books for Parents

When my children were toddlers, I recall our pediatrician giving me his sage advice, “You have one child of each sex. When they are young, your son will cause you the most frustration. When they reach their teen years, things will change. Raising teens is different. Parenting your son will become remarkably easier than your daughter. Your daughter will cause you the most concern and frustration when she is a teen.” These words have swirled about my head often since then.

When my son was climbing up the shelves to reach the garage door opener, I recalled his words.

When I found my son atop the kitchen counter digging into the used coffee grounds and observed a dozen raw eggs smashed on the floor below him, I recalled his words.

When we found him inside the dryer, I recalled his words. When our babysitter found him inside their dog carrier and she later shared her revelation, I recalled his words.

When I found him atop the rubbermaid tubs playing with the baby powder, I recalled his words.

callmetrouble

Struggles of Raising Teens

Now that they are both teens (or nearly so – my son will be twelve next month and my daughter is fourteen), I expected things to change. To be sure, I am no longer finding him in precarious places. Yet, the tides have not yet turned.

My daughter dutifully does her lessons without a lot of nagging from me. She keeps her room organized and tidy. She helps around the house, often doing the laundry or putting away the dishes without prompting.

She helps keep me on my toes, reminding me of appointments and lessons outside the house. She rarely ever complains about having to go to swim team (when she does, red flags go up as I realize she is coming down with some bug).

My son, on the other hand, is a different creature all together. His life motto is, “If it isn’t my idea and also fabulously fun, I want no part.”

We constantly butt heads over accountability. I have become a nagger. But don’t take my word for it …

I came across a great post on Facebook recently, encouraging us to sit down with our child, ask certain questions without any prompting, and then to repost the questions and answers along with our child’s name and age. My friend posted her 12-year-old son’s answers. They were so funny and endearing that I decided to do the exercise with my children.

Here’s an excerpt from my interview with my 11-year-old son:

What is something I say all the time?
“Go do your schoolwork”

What makes me happy?
“When I do my schoolwork”

What makes me sad?
“When I don’t do my schoolwork. No. Actually, when Prince died.”

Do you think you could live without me?
“No, because I’d never get my schoolwork done.”

What did I tell you? I am a nagger. I must admit I am at my wits end. I am frustrated and perplexed. I have begun to question if homeschooling is the right path for him. Would he be more successful being accountable to others?

 Raising Teens While Saving Your Sanity: 12 Must Read Books for Parents @EvaVarga.net

12 Must Read Books for Parents Raising Teens

I have thereby been doing a lot of reading lately. Here’s my top 12 list of must read books for parenting teens while maintaining your sanity. Admittedly, I have not yet read all of them. I have provided a little snippet for those I have, while the others came highly recommended to me by a dear friend. (Thank you, Aubrey!)

Parenting Teens with Love & Logic by Foster Cline & Jim Fay ~ I have had a lot of success with the Love & Logic techniques, especially when the kids were toddlers. As they’ve gotten older, however, we have not been as consistent, evidenced by the attitude and behaviors that are now magnified. This is one of the books I own and revisiting these strategies every now and again has been really helpful.

Queen Bees and Wannabes, 3rd Edition: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boys, and the New Realities of Girl World by Rosalind Wiseman ~ I first read this book when my daughter was about five years old. She wasn’t dealing with cliques or gossip at that age but it really helped me to better understand my own experience as a teen. I want to read this one again.

Odd Girl Out by Rachael Simmons ~ Similarly, I also read this one years ago. It was actually a book club selection and it provided a great opportunity to reflect on and share our own experiences.

Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World by Rosalind Wiseman ~ Having read her previous title (noted above), I was very eager to read this one. I found myself constantly taking pictures with my cell phone of passages I wanted to remember and/or discuss with my spouse. Ultimately, I made the decision to purchase this book along with Queen Bees and Wannabes.

The New Strong-Willed Child by James C. Dobson ~ My son is indeed strong-willed and is skilled at wearing us down to get his way. I look forward to reading Dobson’s advice for creating a home filled with love and how to discipline a difficult child while making it evident to the child that they are loved, special, and cared for.

In Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, Lisa Damour outlines seven transition phases that girls experience as they progress from childhood to adulthood. The phases are relatively self-explanatory. They are 1) parting with childhood, 2) joining a new tribe, 3) harnessing emotions, 4) contending with adult authority, 5) planning for the future, 6) entering the romantic world, and 7) caring for herself. These phases aren’t necessarily experienced at specific ages in one specific order, but Damour offers a general guide for how most girls mature. I recommend it for parents who have a preteen daughter so they can be prepared in advance to handle situations as they arise.

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon & Michael Thompson ~ This title was actually recommended to me by our pediatrician years ago and I recall enjoying it. Now that my son is nearly a teen, it warrants another read. As children age, they undergo many changes – both physically and emotionally. What I gleaned from this book when my son was a toddler will not serve me well now that I am raising teens.

Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons by Meg Meeker ~ I have not yet read this title but from the synopsis, I am very intrigued. The author explores the secrets to boyhood, including why rules and boundaries are crucial–and why boys feel lost without them as well as the pitfalls parents face when talking to their sons.

Meg Meeker has authored two additional titles that strongly interest me. The first, Strong Mothers, Strong Sons: Lessons Mothers Need to Raise Extraordinary Men, acknowledges that raising sons presents a challenge that raising daughters does not. After all, I as a woman can remember being a girl and young woman; I can never fully understand what it is like to be male. We still have a very important role to play in our son’s development, however. We “lay the foundation for how he will relate to women for the rest of his life.” 

The second, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know, is a powerful book for fathers. As one reviewer on Amazon stated,  “If you want her to grow up emotionally healthy and able to face the pressures that our parents never knew and therefore didn’t know how to equip *us* to deal with, read this book, it will tell you how.”

The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively by Gary D. Chapman has been all over social media this past year. Though I haven’t read the book, I have read numerous blog posts and even asked each of my family members to take an online quiz to determine our individual love languages. This one is definitely on my “books to read list”.

This last title is more for your teen, than for you as a parent. Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens: … Helping You Manage Mood Swings, Control Angry Outbursts, and Get Along with Others by Sheri Van Dijk will help teens find new ways of managing their feelings. Based on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a type of therapy designed to help people who have a hard time handling their intense emotions, this workbook helps teens learn the skills necessary to ride the ups and downs of life with grace and confidence.
Must-Read-Books-12650

You’ll find more lists of Must Read Books at the iHomeschool Network linkup.

Queen Girls: Inspiring Girls with Real Stories of Female Heroes

Today I divert from my usual content to share with you a book series that I am very excited about. Though my children are no longer the target age, I love the mission of Queen Girls – to inspire girls to follow their dreams and envision them as possible and I look forward to sharing the books with my nieces and nephews. I also love that the stories are based on real women – short biographies that highlight the struggles and successes of women the world over.

Often times, classic stories highlight the strength, courage and skills of men while female characters are often stereotyped or one-dimensionall: the mother figure, the homemaker, the exotic beauty, the love seeker.

Did you know that 57% of children’s books have male protagonists, while only 31% are female? We believe that we should be telling different stories to our children. Let’s encourage girls to find their happiness, passions, drive and self-confidence from within. At the same time, let’s help boys to move to a place of equality.

Queen Girls Kickstarter

They also believe in giving back to the community and this is why they stand on a One for One model. Every time you purchase a book, another will be donated to local and international organizations who are fighting illiteracy and empowering girls.

The first fairy tale is Bessie, Queen of the Sky inspired by the story of Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to hold a pilot’s license. The book will be available in English and Spanish.

When Bessie was growing up, no one could have imagined that a girl from a humble family would get out of the cotton fields and become a pilot. But with the help of her best friend Bloony, Bessie uses her courage and determination to make her dream come true!

How to get involved?

They are running a Kickstarter campaign to collect necessary funds to print the first book! Queen Girls is hoping to reach like-minded people who can help them ‘kick’ their crowdfunding campaign! If you believe in their mission and want to be part of the movement, donate and receive one of the first limited copies here!

bessie-and-bloony-flying

This multicultural team is formed by Jimena Durán (Spain), Andrea Doshi (USA) and Chiara Fabbri (Italy). They bring their diverse experiences to this initiative along with tons of love and dedication. Their intention is to open this collection to fellow authors and illustrators that could potentially bring their own Queens on board.

Books

Available in English & Spanish
Recommended age – 4 to 7 y.o.
32 page, hardcover & digital

Bessie, Queen of the Sky! Inspired by the story of Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to hold a pilot’s license in the world – When Bessie was growing up, no one could have imagined that a girl from a humble family would get out of the cotton fields and become a pilot. But with the help of her best friend Bloony, Bessie uses her courage and determination to make her dream come true!

Isadora, the Rebel Queen! Inspired by the story of Isadora Duncan, a ballerina who danced away from rigid ballet technique towards what she perceived as natural movement. Influenced by the sea, she started dancing like no one ever did before, imitating the waves of the sea with her arms and feet – She defied conventionalist minds by creating what today we refer to as Modern Dance or “Barefoot Style.”

Savi, Queen of Education! Inspired by the story of Savitribhai Phule, a woman poet, an educationalist and a social reformer, Savi was one of the earliest crusaders of education for girls in India. She defied all odds to become the first female teacher at the first women’s school founded by her and her family.

And more books to come! We have the firm intention to grow this collection and open it up to fellow authors and illustrators that could potentially bring their own queens on board.

If this sounds appealing to you, please pledge to make it happen here!

#queeengirls #childrensbooks #booksforgirls
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