Developing Teen Leaders: Expanding the Family Meeting

Whether your children are toddling about beneath your feet or are asking to borrow the family car, organizational skills are a must. We’ve thereby utilized a monthly family meeting since the kids were wee ones to plan holidays, discuss our goals, and essentially take our pulse or discuss any issues or concerns.

Now that my children are a bit older and they are taking on leadership positions of their own, I find myself sitting back and smiling – admiring how the professional skills we’ve implemented into our family life now help them in their academic and social circles.

young boy scout addressing the city council with text overlay Developing Teen Leaders: Expanding the Family Meeting @EvaVarga.netFor an overview of scout activities, school performances, orthodontic appointments, etc., a shared calendar is critical for us as a family. Using the color coding and invite features, we can improvise when unforeseen changes (sick teachers, additional music lesson, or a Scout Board of Review) are needed. However, we are not always on the same page despite having electronic devices.

Expanding the Monthly Family Meeting

My husband and I have noticed a gap with how to make the upcoming appointments and ‘to do’s’ more tangible for our children. Like us, the kids are more prepared and less stressed when they know what to expect each day. No one likes getting woken for a surprise dental appointment or getting pulled away from a coding issue on their Minecraft server for a haircut. Now that they are older and are beginning to schedule appointments of their own (art lessons, podcast interviews, etc.), we need to be aware of their plans as well.

We tackled this nuance with a family meeting on a weekly basis – or Weekly Overview Review. This meeting takes place next to a whiteboard in the dining room (essentially my VIPKID classroom each morning), and lasts about 15 minutes – usually on Sunday after breakfast, or in the evening if the morning doesn’t work out.

Our shared Apple calendar is color coded and thus using colored markers is a natural extension of our digital schedule system. It helps everyone to visualize the week and understand it better.

The focus is on the coming week, and the board therefore is divided into columns from Monday to Sunday. Everyone enters the most important dates with his or her color and introduces them to the others, e.g. “9-11 volunteer at marine life center”, “6:30 Board Mtg at the hospital”, “piano lessons”, “debate club”. We are thereafter fully engaged and aware of the activities planned through the week.

These revised meetings have been such a success that I’m looking forward to purchasing a magnetic calendar whiteboard. Having a visual reminder that we can refer to throughout the week will also help alleviate conflict. No longer will my son have an excuse to say, “What? I have a doctor apt? You didn’t tell me!”  or “I forgot to look at my calendar. I must have missed the notification.”

Questions We Ask the Children

Once our obligations are recorded on the white board we take time to discuss the details of the week. We also encourage the kids to take more ownership in their learning – to strive for academic and career goals.

Additionally, we all share in the management of the house – doing our part to assure the chores are completed and the burden doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders. Everyone has a role and helps to contribute to the success of the others.

• What are you doing this week?

• What do you need from us (financial assistance, transportation, etc.)? Are there any permission slips that we have to sign?

• Is there anything from last week that isn’t finished yet?

• Did you schedule time for learning? What creative project(s) are underway? Do you need help studying or with a project?

• Who will take over which household chore in the coming week? 

• What meals would you like this week?

Input in these areas really helps reduce my stress during the week. I’m able to shop for groceries just once (generally) and have a clear plan for the week. No more evenings with me scrambling at the last minute trying to figure out what to cook with what happens to be in the pantry. This also helps assure the menu is more diverse and appealing to everyone.

Questions We Ask Ourselves

As the kids have become more independent, it has also enabled me to go back to work on a part time basis. At first, I was substitute teaching and thus I would be away from home for the full day. This created difficulty in regards to scheduling and transportation. With VIPKID, I rarely substitute anymore but I do volunteer regularly. These obligations require us to sometimes be a little creative or seek out outside support (Grandpa, for example).

• Do either of us have to adjust our weekly plans because an important appointment for the children has been added?

• Do we have to organize outside support on any day?

 

You may think a family meeting like this is too formal. Our experience, however, is that the kids develop a much better understanding of each other’s plans, find their way much better with their own daily lives, and thereby become more independent and self-reliant.

Finishing Strong #125: Integrated Studies and Developing a Good Work Ethic

Welcome to Finishing Strong 

Finishing Strong is a weekly link-up dedicated to families homeschooling middle & high school kids. Each Wednesday, moms just like you share their best tips, encouragement, advice, and more for teaching older kids at home.

I am delighted that families homeschooling middle and high school age students are coming together and finding inspiration in one another. That’s has been the goal of Finishing Strong since its inception. Thank you!!

Finishing Strong is hosted by me here at EvaVarga along with my friends – Heather from Blog She Wrote, Megan and Susan from Education Possible, and Heidi from Starts at Eight.

Finishing-Strong-500x500Curriculum Choices Over the Years

For the past few weeks, curriculum posts for different grade levels have been very popular with our Finishing Strong readers. Featured this week is a compilation post I put together to share the curriculum we have used each school year. Our Curriculum Choices Over the Years spans our homeschool journey beginning with preschool through our present high school years.

curriculumchoiceshighschool

We hope you’ll take some time to check out the amazing posts that have been shared with us. We are so thankful to all of our readers and contributors who help make Finishing Strong a key resource for everyone homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

Below are some of the posts I enjoyed from last week, as well as the one that received the most clicks (in the #1 spot). Did I choose one of your favorites?

“altHow to Build Knowledge in ANY Subject and WHY It’s Important

from Freely Learned – Using WW2 as an example, the author shares how to build a comprehensive unit study. “Lately, I’ve become much more knowledgeable about World War II without intending to study the topic at all.” This is exactly what I have been experiencing.

Working on the Weekend: Teaching Kids the Importance of a Good Work Ethic

from Our Unschooling Journey Through Life – As we begin to implement a course on personal finance, developing a strong work ethic and learning the skills of budgeting and saving have been a major focus of our homeschool.

Enhance Your Science Studies with Integrated Learning

from Bright Ideas Press – Another great overview of how to integrate other subject areas into an engaging unit study. “Integrating learning not only makes learning more interesting, it also simplifies life for me as a teacher.”

@ @ @

As always, thank you for helping us to make Finishing Strong a key resource for families who are homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

What are you going to share with us this week?

Guidelines:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 4 sites. If you were featured, we would love for you to use the “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

Please Share!

Add our button to your post.

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Were You Featured?

Grab an “I was featured” button!

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years


Finishing Strong #113: High School Planning & Part Time Jobs

This past week I have been walking down memory lane as I have worked to complete several projects: 1) compiling a photo book to commemorate our favorite moments from this past year, and 2) writing a series of blog posts highlighting our trip to Greece the previous year (I’ve shared the link to one in the linkup below).

Living MuseumWhile I have been immersed in our own past experiences, my kiddos have been engaged in finishing up their research for our annual living history presentations as part of National History Day. A couple years ago they have selected Arnold Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller and Irena Sendler (as pictured above). This year they have chosen Glenn Curtiss and another WW2 heroine.


finishing strong 113 @EvaVarga.netWelcome to Finishing Strong ~ a weekly link-up dedicated to families homeschooling middle & high school kids. Each Wednesday, moms just like you share their best tips, encouragement, advice, and more for teaching older kids at home. I am delighted that families homeschooling middle and high school age students are coming together and finding inspiration in one another.

Finishing Strong is hosted by me here at EvaVarga along with my friends – Heather from Blog She Wrote, Megan and Susan from Education Possible, and Heidi from Starts at Eight.


The post with the most clicks last week was Heather’s How to Make a Four Year Homeschool High School Plan posted at Blog She Wrote. My daughter has just begun high school and we have thereby spent a lot of time talking about her goals.

high school planWe have also collaborated with advisors at the local community college to help outline the big picture. I like how Heather reminds us to “remember that each day and year comes one at a time. You want to have an overall guide, but the goals in that guide will be met one day and one year at a time.”

I shared a similar post recently, High School Forecasting which looks at how we coordinated dual enrollment courses, CLEP exams, and extracurricular schedules.

non-fiction booksI enjoyed Heidi’s Non-Fiction Books: The Whats and Whys for Your Homeschool posted at Starts at Eight. She not only provides tips for selecting books to purchase for your own family library, but also highlights many of her family’s favorites. Additionally, she links to a previous post describing how to organize your book shelves.

Scientists at Work: Activities and Books to Promote Science Literacy provides a list of several great books geared for middle school students.

nature notebooksWe have always loved nature study. Nature journaling is a great way of keeping memories and learning in a fun way. Michelle’s post, Why We Keep Nature Notebooks, helped remind me why nature journaling was so much a part of our curriculum early on.

In our homeschool, Anna Botsford Comstock has been our nature study guide. Through her wisdom we have enjoyed many memorable experiences on nature outings. One of our favorite studies was looking at Our Native Maple Trees.

part-time jobAs my kiddos have gotten older – they have also begun to want things that are a little out of our budget. Heather’s post, Should My Homeschooled Teen Get a Part Time Job, outlines the benefits and challenges of teens working outside the home. “A job isn’t right for every teen and not every job is right for every teen.”

In most states, youth must be at least 15 years old to get a job. What if my child wants to earn money and isn’t old enough? Teaching Our Teens About Money: Earning Commissions looks at alternative ways youth can begin earning their own money.

@ @ @

As always, thank you for helping us to make Finishing Strong a key resource for families who are homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

What are you going to share with us this week?

Guidelines:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 4 sites. If you were featured, we would love for you to use the “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

Please Share!

Add our button to your post.

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Were You Featured?

Grab an “I was featured” button!

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years


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.

Finishing Strong #110: Over-Scheduling & Homeschooling Simply

 

Finishing Strong #110: Inspiration for Middle & High School @EvaVarga.netWelcome to Finishing Strong ~ a weekly link-up dedicated to families homeschooling middle & high school kids. Each Wednesday, moms just like you share their best tips, encouragement, advice, and more for teaching older kids at home.

Finishing Strong is hosted by me here at EvaVarga along with my friends – Heather from Blog She Wrote, Megan and Susan from Education Possible, and Heidi from Starts at Eight.

I know you will find the posts that have been shared with us inspiring! Grab a cup of tea, kick back, and take some time to check out the wonderful posts shared below. What are your favorites?

What Are You Doing for Others? Inspiring Youth to Make a Difference @EvaVarga.net

The impact and legacy of our world leaders has been weighing heavy on my mind recently. It is hard not to be aware of the intensity of our upcoming presidential changeover and all that it entails.

We have been talking about it a lot in our homeschool and it has coincidentally lined up with our history studies (All American History) and our recent travels to the East Coast. Earlier this week, I reflected a little on what we have gleaned and how we hope to make a difference for others going forward. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s question, What Are You Doing for Others? is still relevant today.


homeschool simply teen years

The most clicked upon post last week was How to Homeschool Simply: The Teen Years by Shelly at There’s No Place Like Home. It is the final post in a series looking at how to accomplish a relaxed homeschooling atmosphere.

over schedulingThe Problem of Over-Scheduling is something I see frequently; and not just in homeschool families. Just two days ago, in fact, my daughter and I were attending her Venturing meeting and another girl stated that she would not be able to attend the planned kayaking trip because she was just too busy. “I have Venturing, Girl Scouts Travel Patrol, Sea Scouts, Archery, and Cheer Team.” When does she get her school work done, I wondered. When does she relax? I enjoyed Heather’s perspective on this and encourage you all to read it.

books that captivated usI remember nearly all these titles, what a fun post! Join Megan at Education Possible as she shares the 5 Enchanting Books that Captivated Us in Middle School. I often share my favorite titles with my own kiddos. It’s a fun way to connect with one another.

thesis statementsI was particularly drawn to Beth’s post, Creating a Strong Thesis Statement this week as I have been struggling to convey this information to my daughter. The thesis statement “expresses the main point of the entire essay. It’s often the most challenging sentence for a student to write, but without it, the essay may not reflect a specific direction causing more issues once the student starts writing.”

@ @ @

As always, thank you for helping us to make Finishing Strong a key resource for families who are homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

What are you going to share with us this week?

Guidelines:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 4 sites. If you were featured, we would love for you to use the “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

Please Share!

Add our button to your post.

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Were You Featured?

Grab an “I was featured” button!

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years


{ Free } Christmas Printable for Your Teen’s Stocking

I wanted another little something to put in my kiddos stockings this year. Then I remembered the fun coupon book I had made for my parents when I was a teen and my creative juices got flowing.

teencoupons2I opened my digital scrapbooking folder and was quickly underway. It only took a few minutes to put these together once I had a workable template.

teencoupons3

To download a PDF copy of each page for yourself, simply click on the image. It should open a new window whereby you can download and print. teencoupons1

Please leave a little note of gratitude in the comments. 🙂