Homeschool Student Interviews – Part 8

In this month’s bonus student interview, we get to learn about the son of one of our other bloggers, Sheila Elwin.

1 ) What is your name and what country/state/province do you live in?

My name is Micah and I live in Montana.

I decided I wanted to grow beans so I can have bean soup.

 

2) How long have you been home schooled?

I’ve been homeschooled all my life.

3 ) What do you like most about being home schooled?

I like having a flexible schedule.

4 ) Is there anything you dislike about being home schooled?

There’s nothing I dislike about being homeschooled.

5 ) What is your favorite thing to learn about?

I like to learn about medieval times.

6 ) What are your favorite hobbies or activities?

I like skateboarding, gaming, and BMXing.

7 ) What would you like to do when you grow up?

I’ve got no idea!

8 ) What is your favorite project that you have worked on for school?

I liked the field trip when we went to the capitol of Montana.

Homeschool Student Interviews – Part 7

This month’s interview is with one of our regular bloggers!

Austin is a former homeschooler who never truly got the idea that graduation meant a stop from learning. Self-induced learning activities include traveling the nation filming short videos of historical locations, reading through 500-page books on the Apollo space program, and just about any other fun learning thing he can think up. This spring he will be graduating from Southern Adventist University in Tennessee with a degree in biology, but is already looking forward to the fall when he will begin graduate school at Andrews University in Michigan and keep learning!

1) What is your name and what country/state/province do you live in?

My name is Austin Menzmer, and I currently live in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

2) How long were you homeschooled?

I was homeschooled all the way from K through 12! Loved it!

3) What did you like most about being homeschooled?

Most of all, I really liked the flexibility that homeschooling gave me and my Mom — both with regards to what subjects were studied and our daily schedule.

For example, I really liked science in high school. While I took the required biology, chemistry, and physics, I really wanted to take an additional biology class, human anatomy, and physiology. I doubt that would have happened in regular high school, but it sure did my senior year in our homeschool! I thoroughly enjoyed that course, which was a major factor in my deciding to became a biology major when I got to college.

Secondly, is our daily schedule. For those of you who don’t know, I have a physical disability and at times have gone to therapy six days a week. Homeschooling gave more flexibility, in the fact that I could attend therapy appointments during the day rather than just in the afternoon/evening when “school got out.” We were able to fit (and accomplish!) my schoolwork around these therapy appointments, so I could still be a “regular kid” and have some free time later on in the day.

4) Was there anything you dislike about being homeschooled?

Honestly, nothing. (And my mother didn’t even pay me to say that!) Even now in college I still have a passion for learning, period. It is such an incredible privilege that so many take for granted.

5) Since learning never really ends, what is your favorite thing to study and learn more about?

Ha, ha! Exactly! I love learning about history in my spare time (could you tell from my virtual field trip articles??). It is so interesting to learn about how people used to live “way back when,” why they made the decisions they did, etc. I love seeing history come alive as I visit various historical sites and museums, particularly air and space museums!

I also really like studying biology (my major) and religion (my minor). In my mind, biology can be defined as “God is AWESOME!” My jaw seriously keeps dropping every day as I’m in class learning about some new aspect of how God created our universe. Truly, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom,” Isa. 40:28. And, what can get better than studying God’s Word? I love studying the Bible, regardless if I’m getting college credit for it.

6) What are your favorite hobbies or activities?

Reading 500-page history books, playing with my sister, and making videos for my history-themed YouTube channel. I really like both the creative aspect of capturing video clips onsite and then editing them all together. I feel very fulfilled when I can help people virtually “visit” a place that they might not have the chance to go to in real life. I help educate them along the way when they just think they’re having fun watching one of my videos! Reading history books increases my knowledge and appreciation of different aspects of history that I would definitely not have otherwise. And spending quality time with those you love is never a waste. 🙂

If you haven’t seen my weekly videos yet and want to, be sure to check them out at www.youtube.com/tnphotobug. And, here is a link to a 60-second sampler of what you’ll find on my channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw2lITMzQb8.

7 ) How did homeschooling prepare you for college and/or the workforce?

I feel that being homeschooled really gave me the upper edge on practicing proactivity and other real life skills. For example, I had a bread business starting when I was around the age of 10 or 12. We lived near SWAU [Southwestern Adventist University] at the time, so that was my customer base. However, while my Mom would let me use her kitchen, she made me approach SWAU faculty and staff about buying my bread, she made me make the bread, and she made me pay her rent for use of her kitchen. Not only did I learn how to work and interact with others, but also some on personal finance and budgeting. Sure, I had a small percentage to spend how I chose, but we also had considerably larger sections for tithe, offering, and college/big savings. A year and a half ago, my parents and I jointly bought my first car, and a lot of the money I contributed was from all those years of saving my bread business money!

And, none of this would have occurred if I was not being homeschooled. It gave me a great opportunity to get some real life skills in ways I definitely wouldn’t just sitting in a classroom all day! Looking back at my college career, I am very happy for this early training in proactivity, because being proactive has helped me greatly in college, too.

8 ) What is the most annoying thing that people say to you when they learn that you were homeschooled?

Honestly, I have never had to face that problem. Wherever I have lived there has actually been plenty of other homeschoolers. So, nobody has really called me “weird” for being a homeschooler. I made a lot of friends with other homeschoolers at church, and many of my initial college friends were homeschoolers. Even with my college friends who were not homeschooled, they have never teased me at all. I feel very blessed!

Can I just momentarily give a plug for my school, Southern Adventist University?? It is awesome, you should definitely send your children to college here! I really like the spiritual nature on campus and the opportunities to grow your relationship with God. We have very strong academics, and the students here are definitely the dedicated, God-honoring people that you would want your kids to be lifelong friends with. Come “be a part” of Southern and learn more at www.southern.edu!

Homeschooling High School: How Do I Teach High School?!

We have everything planned out, the curriculum chosen, the electives figured in. Now the question is this: How do I even teach high school? It can be rather daunting, intimidating, overwhelming, even frightening perhaps.

First of all, continue praying for God’s guidance, for, of course, we’ve been doing that all along.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him,” James 1:5.

Next, realize you may not be able to teach everything your child will need to study during these high school years. This has been a hard one for me to admit. I feel like I should be able to “do it all” myself. Well, I see how I failed my oldest two by clinging to that idea. But, in my defense, I didn’t have a support system, nor the outside resources I have available now.

I especially feel the need for “outside help” for the math classes, since that is my weakest subject. Like I said previously, I never did find a math curriculum/program that worked for my oldest. My daughter used a more student-led approach. I thought my current high schooler would use that same curriculum (Life of Fred), but it just wasn’t working for him. So, now he is using a virtual school, with a live teacher who can also tutor him when he needs it. He is still struggling, but at least he has certified math teachers to help him! My youngest will probably continue using the video-based program (Math U See).

One resource to keep in mind is the possibility of having your student take dual enrollment classes. Another possibility is having your student work as an apprentice, especially in a field which your student is considering for a career. Co-ops are also great resources for outside help.

Third, allow your child to “take the reins.” If you are like I am, one of your main goals in homeschooling is to teach your child to be a self-learner, and to develop a deep love of learning. If your child has learned how to research the information they want to know, and if they love to learn new things, they will become lifelong learners. You have provided them with the tools they need. So now, in high school, if he or she wants to learn more about some aspect of world history, or have an indepth knowledge of physics or calculus, etc., they know that the library, or Google, will help them find their answers.

Remember, if you want your children to be lifelong learners, you will show them that you yourself are a lifelong learner. Don’t be afraid to learn right alongside your student! One reason I still enjoy reading aloud to my children is because I like to learn right alongside them. I enjoy watching educational videos with them, too. I know I will continue learning along with my youngest, because of his learning challenges. I have to read most everything to him (or have my Kindle do that).

One more thing to keep in mind: You may have to invest a bit more, financially, for the resources you will need. For example, if you have a student who is keenly interested in science, you may want a microscope, and even dissection tools and specimens to dissect. There is also a cost for taking the ACT or SAT. Perhaps your student wants to become an auto mechanic; help him start building a collection of tools. Or, maybe she wants to become a photographer; help her collect quality equipment.

Are there other ideas you have for teaching these sometimes-challenging high school years? Please share!

Sheltering With Purpose

I hear it all the time when I talk about growing up in the country: “Your parents must’ve sheltered you!” It’s as common as “The S Word” when someone hears that I homeschool my kids. The truth is, I might have been “sheltered,” but I don’t think my parents did it by accident. I think it was purposeful. I think they had a determination to teach me things, prepare me for things, keep me safe. That’s different than sheltering.

At risk of sounding like a crazy chicken lady, I will stop beating around the bush. We protect our chickens from predators by keeping them in a pen. We build them a coop with a door, maybe a heater. We feed and water them. Would they be happier as free range all the time? Yes. They would be happier, maybe fatter, and might lay more eggs — but they would have a shorter life. Because we live in the country, many predators have access to our chickens. We have lost so many due to opossums, raccoons, owls, and illness. We wanted so much for them to be free, to run in the whole yard, but now we have to start over with a new flock, and we need to build the fences higher.

It is easy for us to teach our boys these types of lessons because we have animals as examples. These animals they see every day serve a purpose as well. “No, I’m sorry. We can’t let the dog run around when we go to Nanna’s. He can get run over. He can freeze to death (mini pinscher). He’s an inside dog for a reason.” We aren’t sheltering the dog, but we care for him. The kids understand this. People don’t.

People don’t understand why I won’t put my son in public school. Aren’t I doing them a disservice by not letting them learn how the other kids are learning? Aren’t I spoiling them with my love, my attention? What’s so wrong with public school anyway?

My decision to homeschool has little to do with public school. It has to do with protecting them, raising them, and teaching them. It’s not a slight against public school any more than my staying home with them is a slight against working moms.

My purpose as a parent and teacher is to prepare my boys before all else — prepare them for the world, the workforce, spiritual warfare, matters of life and death, politics, love, anger, and more. I cannot do this while sheltering them.

What’s your purpose? Ponder your purpose while you’re planning the coming year of school, the upcoming curriculum, family devotionals, and activities. If all I’m doing is sheltering these kids, and not purposefully teaching them, I’ve failed.

Public Speaking and Homeschooling

Do your kids love public speaking?

Can you picture your kids being up on stage talking and presenting?

Do you picture your kids being good leaders one day?

How many hours a week, or a month or a year, have you spent in building public speaking skills with your children?

Running a clinic with multiple doctors and staff requires my wife and me to review countless resumes and interview many people. Many people flunk their interview within seconds simply because they were either not able to hold eye contact, were overcome by anxiety, or were not able to think critically under pressure when answering questions.

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and it is one of the most common phobias in the world. Whether people realize it or not, their career and life decisions are often decided by their public speaking skills. Some people may choose to pursue a career where they will interact with many people daily. Some may choose to do the opposite, where they will work in private, or have less interaction with people. If your kids learn to speak in public today, they can prepare themselves to speak properly in public, and to manage the fears of presenting in front of others for the future. To put it simply, your children’s future careers may depend on these skills.

We all want our kids to do well when they grow up. We want them to be confident enough to be on stage, especially when God opens doors for opportunities to influence others. We want them to be leaders. Our family intentionally decided to invest in public speaking skills and stage presence skills when homeschooling them on a daily basis. I’d like to share some ideas you may find useful in your homeschooling journey.

MEMORIZATION

There are three benefits of memorization. The first is emotional health benefits. Remember that the brain is a muscle that must be exercised. There is a part of the brain called the hippocampus which is in charge of making and keeping memories, and partly responsible for managing emotions. People with Alzheimer’s disease have their hippocampus fail first and severely before other parts of the cortex fail. People with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizoprenia have a hippocampus that shrinks gradually.  The hippocampus also is now known to control the hormone estrogen, which controls emotions and mood changes.

By training yourself and your kids to memorize things, it may prevent you and your children from depression, anxiety, mood changes, Alzheimer’s, and other mental illnesses!  

The second benefit of memorization is, as your children spend time memorizing passages, tables, and poems, they learn to focus. Studies have found that students who were required to memorize from an early age often go on to have more capacity to focus on educational tasks as high school and college students. Researchers from the National Institute on Health and Aging have found that adults who went through short bursts of memory training were better able to maintain higher cognitive functioning and everyday skills, even five years after going through the training. Practicing memorization allowed the elderly adults to delay typical cognitive decline by seven to 14 years!

The third benefit is increased confidence.  When a child learns to do something difficult, they earn a great sense of accomplishment. This is especially true where plays or presentations are concerned; children often receive praise or even applause after they recite a poem or act in a play, which increases their self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.

Start with a simple task such as memorizing short Bible verses. This is something you can even do with a two-year old. Ask them to do it while standing up before meals and during morning and evening worship times. Ask them to keep their eyes focused on you and to speak clearly with a smile on their face. I make it more personal and understandable by modifying some of the Bible verses so they can understand the meaning of them. Here are 12 simple verses that you can use for each month of the year or the first six months of the year (two verses a month, depending on your child’s ability to memorize):

    1. Numbers 6:24 The Lord bless you and keep you.
    2. Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
    3. Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world.
    4. Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey Mommy and Daddy in the Lord.
    5. Matthew 28:20 Jesus said He is with me always.
    6. John 10:11 Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd.
    7. Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
    8. Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
    9. Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
    10. Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
    11. Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will trust in Jesus.
    12. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Some kids who are kinetic learners will find it easier and enjoyable to memorize Bible verses while doing an activity such as running in circles, hula hooping, dancing to a song, doing signs or hand gestures, etc. Make sure to repeat these verses daily during dinner time or worship time.

Older kids can start memorizing a whole chapter of a Bible or a long passage. Have them present to you during morning or evening worship, or in the middle of homeschooling session in between subjects. Even better, parents should also memorize these passages and maybe even do a competition with the older kids!

This will not only help them understand important spiritual lessons, but also help their brain cells to handle large amount of information which improves their cognitive functions. Here are a few ideas of important Bible chapters or passages that older kids and adults should memorize:

    1. Numbers 6:24-26
    2. The Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:1-17
    3. The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:1-12
    4. The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:5-15
    5. Psalm 23 & 46
    6. 1 Corinthians 13
    7. Romans 8 & 12

REGULAR GIGS, AWARDS, AND REWARDS

As mentioned previously, when children receive applause and praises, their sense of self-worth and confidence are also increased. Even better, treat them with rewards or awards every so often.  

  • Have them present what they just learned from science or history lessons in the morning to the rest of the family during evening meal.  Ask them open-ended questions: “What did you learn about amphibians this morning? What did you learn about the Egyptians today?”  
  • Morning and/or evening worship times are perfect for them to present a Bible verse or chapter.  
  • Have the kids present what they memorize in front of church as part of the worship program or Adventist Youth program.  
  • Challenge other kids in their Sabbath School class to memorize verses and passages as well, and have them present during church service.  
  • Have your kids present their school project or what they learned this past week to their grandparents or family friends when they visit.  
  • Make a calendar with goals of which passages to memorize for the month and for the rest of the year.

USING VISUAL AIDS AND PROPS

Just like with a science presentation, help your kids with their speaking presentation using visual aids and props. I have been invited to be a judge at the local schools’ science fairs, and it’s always interesting to watch how some kids with average project can shine because of their public speaking skills, while some kids with average or amazing projects end up not winning because of their presentation skills. Younger kids can start with simple objects, while older kids may use slideshow software or props.  

Have your children be involved in a play at church or school where they get to do speech as a character. Preparing for a role, and preparing visual aids and props — both of these activities teach them to be prepared for their presentation in advance, which will help lessen their anxiety.

JOINING A PUBLIC SPEAKING CLUB

Toastmasters International or other local groups are often found in local libraries or churches. Look up Toastmasters International to find a local chapter. You’ll be surprised how much you and your older children can benefit from attending this weekly meeting of various people from all walks of life who simply want to improve their public speaking skills.  They will give you constructive criticisms, and they will help you to be a better speaker.

Our children at the time of this writing, are eight and four. They do fairly well being up on the podium or on stage with other kids at church or at a dance recital.  However, they still have some stage fright when they are up there by themselves. They are getting better at it, though. The oldest one actually recently asked when she could do special music all by herself. And, both of them enjoy doing mini presentations during evening dinner from what they learned in the morning.

I hope this article is helpful to you and your little ones. We have the responsibility to train our children to be pillars of the church and to be leaders wherever they go in life. Leaders are not necessarily bosses. Leaders are influencers. Everybody is a leader when you can influence others around you.  With the Great Commission as our task, we must equip our children with public speaking skills to reach others and to spread His love.

Maranatha!

Arthur P.