Homeschool Fruits: Serenity

According to my handy-dandy dictionary phone app, serenity is “the state of being calm, peaceful, tranquil, unruffled.” It is a freedom of the mind from “annoyance, distraction, anxiety, obsession.”

This is totally you in your daily homeschool life, right?!?

There may have been a bit of sarcasm there. I know when my child still wasn’t reading at nearly nine years old, I didn’t feel particularly calm. The fact that he’s currently a grade and a half behind the rest of his studies in math…does not leave me feeling tranquil.

But, those are momentary emotions, and those emotions do not speak to the longterm truth of homeschooling: Homeschooling allows your child to complete his education where and when he or she is ready — not when the public or private school system dictates, not when Aunt Betty thinks it should be done, not even where any of your own preconceived hopes and plans have placed him. And, that is what brings the homeschool mom or dad the fruit of serenity.

This has been on my mind a lot the last couple months since my son hit his teens. In the elementary years, it seemed we had forever. Now that he’s a teen, I’ve had to remind myself that we still have as long as it takes.

As your child enters or nears the high school years, there is serenity, peace, to be obtained in remembering that homeschooling has so many more options than most of us grew up with in a school system.

Maybe your kid will be the one who homeschools all the way through high school, and completes it with a homeschool transcript, and takes the tests necessary to head into college. That seems like the preferred path to most of us, but don’t get nervous if you’re not sure your child is cut out for that. There are other avenues.

College often provides a base of learning from which you can choose numerous careers.

If he wants to try out an Adventist academy, he can. Many academies would be happy to work with you to integrate your child into their system. If that works out, super! But, here is the serenity of homeschooling again: If it does not work out, if for any reason your child does not flourish in that setting, all he needs to do is come back to homeschooling. There is no success or failure here; there is merely the option of a different path.

Another opportunity might be junior college. She may have finished her freshman and sophomore classes, but is becoming dissatisfied and anxious to “get on with life.” Numerous homeschoolers make it to about 16 years of age, and then decide to just morph into junior college. They may live in a place where they can get dual credit, or they might eventually have to take a GED, but at least they can get a headstart on college. Likewise, your child may not be headed for a four-year degree, but they might want to pick up some classes at the junior college to enhance their personal business plans.

An electrician is a skilled profession that will be needed even in times of poor economy.

If they’re of a more technical bent, they could instead look into the requirements for getting into trade school. Opportunities are endless. Sometimes those of us who took the college route get stymied thinking “whatever could my child do(?!?)” if they don’t have a desire for college. There is so much out there. I’m going to list a bunch here that helped open my brain’s horizons: web developer, electrician, plumber, health field technician, commercial driver, HVAC tech, heavy equipment operator, licensed practical or vocational nurse, medical laboratory tech, computer programmer, non-airline commercial pilot, network systems administrator, animator, electrical engineering tech, first responder like police officer or fireman or EMT, aircraft mechanic, architectural drafter, graphic designer, diesel mechanic, and probably many more than I could think of. Most of those require two years or less of training, and offer quite decent income.

Sometimes the key to Sabbath off in a manual labor job is proficiency. Unwilling to lose my husband’s skill (masonry), his company allowed him to take off Sabbaths when he refused after they initially requested Saturday work.

What about manual labor? Sabbath work requirements are often a fear, but there are jobs to be had where they are willing to work with your Sabbath-off needs, or even where they don’t usually work weekends. Here’s another list of possible jobs or areas for the child who needs to move or craft to be happy: track switch repairman (here’s an example of easy Sabbaths off, as railroad jobs often have weekends off), machinist, petroleum pump system operator, concrete, plant operator, construction, key holder, brick and stone mason, cleanup, iron worker, welding, and more.

Did you just read those last two paragraphs and think they mostly applied to boys? Nope. There are opportunities for your girls, too. Check out these articles to see how women are flourishing in nontraditional trades.

I don’t know what my child will decide to do. He’s not very hip on college right now, but that could change. He might decide to take some basic business classes and operate his own business. He’s a bit of a geek, so I don’t see him spending a lifetime on the construction scaffold, but on the other hand, he might spend summers learning masonry from his dad, and have a needed skill to fall back on no matter what his final career choice is. Or, he might decide to become an engineer or some other school-centric profession, and just take as long to get there as he needs — which could be extensive if current math efforts are indicative. LOL.

There’s no rule that your child needs to finish high school at 17…or 18…or 19…or 20…or period. The serenity fruit of homeschooling comes from knowing that we are allowing our kids to take the path that will best fit their God-given talents and abilities, even if it’s not the path we envisioned.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you,” Isaiah 26:3 NIV.

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“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this,” Galatians 5:22,23 VOICE.

Homeschool to Entrepreneur Writer

The love of reading

Katie is the youngest of four children, all homeschooled by their mom. From the time Katie was a baby, she loved books. Her older brothers and her parents read to her every day. Bible stories and Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories were among her favorites. She also loved stories about animals, as well as children’s books such as the Dr. Seuss books.

As her reading skills grew, so did her love of reading. She loved the internet, as it gave her an endless amount of material to read on all subjects.

young-girl-computerDuring her younger years, Katie also discovered she enjoyed writing as much as she loved reading. Although she was quite adept at most of her school subjects, she wrote with great enthusiasm. Her mother noted that whatever Katie’s future held, her writing skills would be a huge asset to her. As a teen, she explored possible career paths, most of which included college. Her mom helped guide her, but Katie was not yet sure what direction to take.

The skill becomes the career

While on the internet one day reading some blogs, Katie came across a blog on how to become a blogger. She searched for more information on blogging, then on other forms of writing. Her mom said that Katie was so immersed in what she was reading that she didn’t notice the time. When her mom came in the room to remind her they needed to leave for the youth group meeting, Katie could not stop talking about what she had discovered.

Katie’s mom laughs that Katie didn’t seem to stop for a breath the entire drive to the youth group meeting that night. Her excitement over her new-found career path just seemed to bubble from her.

Katie spent the next couple of days on career exploration centered on an online writing career. She discovered that while blogging was certainly a good possible choice, many other options existed, too.

College at least delayed

Katie decided that she would try a career in online writing before considering college. Never excited about spending time and money on college, she felt an enthusiasm for being able to jump into a career without that expense. Some of her friends encouraged her to consider college now, with them. But, her path was different.

Fast forward two years

While some of her friends chose local or distance colleges, others chose vocational schools, and still others pursued jobs, Katie poured herself into writing. She began with writing articles for others, usually at no pay. She was just gaining experience. Soon, she had offers for paid content.

teen-girl-computerAlthough she already had a computer and basic necessities for writing, she used her income to purchase a few more necessities, and even invested in an online freelance writer course.

One of her favorite memories is when a few of her close friends came home on break from college. While they were quite happy with their chosen college route, Katie’s writing career truly impressed them. She showed them her office, a remodel of her schooling area, where she was able to write. When the reunion was over, Katie quickly made notes about the stories they told of their college experiences. She used those notes to write more freelance articles for pay!

Freelance Entrepreneur

Katie did not truly make much of a profit the first year, as much of the small amount she was paid was reinvested. But, before her college-educated friends received their bachelor’s degrees, Katie’s monthly income was quite impressive. She has decided that the freelance entrepreneur lifestyle is perfect for her, though admits it would not work for everyone.

She credits her homeschool years and the freedom they allowed her to pursue her own path. While she might have found this path from any education, Katie believes that the encouragement from her mom and dad, as well as the homeschool education, helped her refine her career choice. She states that without the reading and writing through the years, her life might be quite different.

Katie recently started writing a book, in addition to her content writing. Now engaged, she plans to continue her online business when married, too. She is sure that it will allow her to homeschool their own children in the future, too.

 

 

Homeschool to Entrepreneur


Meet Cindy, Homeschool Entrepreneur

It’s no secret that homeschooling often leads to successful entrepreneurs. I suppose it’s a combination of the homeschool lifestyle, parents that encourage, and the fact that homeschoolers have the time and ability to explore such opportunities. Many find that the homeschool-to-entrepreneur route is a natural progression.

One such young entrepreneur is Cindy, a young woman who discovered her love of baking, combined with a flair for creativity, could create amazing baked goods that she could sell at a profit.

pastry chef 1

At the age of eight, Cindy baked her first cupcakes and decorated them by herself. She had been helping her Mom in the kitchen all of her life, but now she was truly a baker. She continued to help in the kitchen, often designing her own baked goods. When she was in high school, Cindy’s mom encouraged her to include a cooking and baking course in addition to her other homeschool studies. Cindy loved it, and often spent more hours in the kitchen than with her other studies.

Cindy began selling under the Cottage Food Laws, baking cupcakes, muffins, and cookies, and selling them at a local farmer’s market. Cindy sold out of her creations most weeks, but took advantage of having a surplus at the end of the market when possible by giving samples to other vendors. She also took her baked goods to her church and passed them around.

pastry 2

Her business was built slowly, mainly because there were limits to what she had time to bake. The cottage food laws also limited what she could do. But, Cindy continued, though slowly.

Building Entrepreneur Skills from Homeschool Studies

Entrepreneurs need more than just the skills to create their product or perform a service. They need to manage their accounting books, work with customers and suppliers, and be overall managers. These are skills that many homeschoolers find they learn as they develop their enterprises.

Cindy agrees. “When I was trying to decide on prices, my Mom showed me how to figure my costs of supplies and then add in my time plus a profit margin. At first, my profit margin was pretty slim, but as I gained business skills, I learned to shop around for better pricing and found markets that would support a little higher selling price.”

The one skill she is afraid she might not have developed as well is that of managing others. Cindy is the youngest of four children and hasn’t had a lot of practice as a manager. Her mom helped her solve that deficiency.

“Mom saw that I was planning to expand and some day would need good managing skills. She says a good manager knows how to be managed first, so she allowed me to volunteer at a local day camp for children eight to 12 years old. I wasn’t really in charge of anything; I just did what I was told at first, and over time found ways to help even more. Eventually, I was promoted and was able to then coach other new volunteers. It was pretty good management training — at least a beginning.” Cindy explained.

When Cindy completed her homeschool studies, she wanted to open her own bakery. But, a bakery costs money, and although she had been saving money from her cottage food sales, she didn’t have nearly enough to purchase the equipment and afford rent.

Gaining More Professional Skills

That’s when she came up with a very creative solution. Cindy found a restaurant that needed a baker for just a couple of days a week. Although she was not professionally trained, the owner was very intrigued by Cindy and impressed by her skills. He decided to give her a try.

Working at the restaurant gave her some important skills, allowed her a chance to get a feel for the commercial environment and machinery, and helped her acquire her food licensing. Just as important, the owner agreed to let her bake some of her own products when the kitchen was available.

This gave Cindy the ability to build her business without the upfront capital, while offering the restaurant some incredible baked goods to feature. She is still saving for own business, but has already made changes to her plans, based on her experiences at the restaurant. She and the restaurant owner are discussing how she might be able to sell to his restaurant on a contract basis once she opens her own shop.

pastry 3

While Cindy is not yet a self-supporting businesswoman, she is well on her way. She continues to bake for the restaurant, but now has a new line of healthy baked items that she sells. She’s discovered the health market is expanding and pays better than selling those sugar laden cookies that others sell. True entrepreneurs reshape their business to suit the customers, and Cindy has done that.

Cindy’s mom is proud of each of her children and makes it clear that Cindy is just one of her kids. Cindy’s dad is a business owner. Her siblings are also business owners, two of them in partnership.

Entrepreneurship is Biblically Based

God encourages us to have family businesses, and homeschoolers are uniquely equipped to raise our children to be capable and successful entrepreneurs. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a child deciding to go on to college and choosing a professional degree to work for others. But, it is not the only way. For many, business ownership is far more practical and fits the homeschool mindset.

Read 24 Bible verses about small business:  http://christianpf.com/24-scriptures-about-business/

bible-verses-about-business

 

Is College the Only Good Choice?

I don’t know about trends in the rest of the world, but for the last generation or so, America has been on a mission to get every child to college. Is this positive? Negative? Is it possible? Is it even desirable?

Several years ago the American — and much of the world’s — economy went down the tubes. Taking on huge education loans now has more far-reaching consequences for our children than it did for us. And, once our kids get out of college, will there be jobs waiting for them so that they can actually pay off those loans?

You may have watched the Discovery Channel TV show “Dirty Jobs,” with Mike Rowe, who weekly joins laborers in many fields. Though not against college, Rowe has become concerned about our emphasis on college alone. In an interview for reason.com, he had this to say:

“There is a real disconnect in the way that we educate vis-a-vis the opportunities that are available. You have — right now — about 3 million jobs that can’t be filled,” he says, talking about openings in traditional trades ranging from construction to welding to plumbing, “jobs that typically parents don’t sit down with their kids and say, ‘Look, if all goes well, this is what you are going to do.’”

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately, especially as I seek ways to help my homeschooling son set smart goals. I am a college graduate, and would never have considered any other option for my child…until now. Last year I married a man whose profession is in construction. He’s a highly skilled technician, definitely an artisan, and a master mason in the eyes of his co-workers. When the economy tanked a few years ago, his skills did not. True, he had to move to another state to find work, but he never lost his home or went into debt.

There are some skills that will always be in demand, such as my husband's field of masonry. Working as an assistant is also an excellent job for a teenager, allowing them to discover if they have what it takes for a physically demanding job, or if they need to get more serious about their studies to pursue an indoor career.

There are some skills that will always be in demand, such as my husband’s field of masonry. Working as an assistant is also an excellent job for a teenager, allowing them to discover if they have what it takes for a physically demanding job, or if they need to get more serious about their studies in order to pursue a less labor-intensive career or at least one that is indoors.

What if I can find a lawyer to prepare a will, but there is no plumber to fix my toilet? I’m so grateful throughout the year for the expertise of nurses and accountants and veterinarians, but admittedly I’m grateful every single day for whoever constructed the roof over my head. Daily I become more appreciative of the world outside the ivory tower, while still maintaining respect and admiration for the world within.

My son, in more-or-less-5th-grade, has shown himself to be very bright and quite philosophical in nature, but so far his approach to academics is obligatory, and certainly not fervent. Yes, he’s young so all that could change, but for now it has opened my mind to the possibility that striving only for college could be a disservice — to him and to many of our kids. I believe that there are kids who find a goal in higher education early on, and shoot toward it; but, there are many who may flounder in college, not because they aren’t “smart,” but because they were pushed there when they’d really rather be doing something with their hands, something concrete that provides visible reward.

“Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, learned the trade of a tent-maker. There were higher and lower branches of tent-making. Paul had learned the higher branches, and he could also work at the common branches when circumstances demanded….While working at his trade he gave an example in diligence and thoroughness. He was ‘diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’” (E.G. White, Australasian Union Conference Record, 12/1/1899)

I remember oh-so-many years ago when I was in academy, and all our Adventist boarding schools taught shop and home economics and business skills; daily work was a requirement of being there; and teens were prepared to graduate with both a diploma and other choices. Kids who wanted a career requiring a degree went off to college. Those who wanted a skilled job or to own their own business already had a bit of groundwork laid.

Micah's Pathfinder club was the first to pilot the new Blacksmithing Honor. I'm grateful for even such small introductions to skill-based possibilities. Learning to work with his hands will allow him to take on greater job challenges in his teens with confidence.

Micah’s Pathfinder club was the first to pilot the new Blacksmithing Honor. I’m grateful for even such small introductions as this to skill-based possibilities. Learning to work with his hands will allow him to take on greater job challenges in his teens with confidence.

As a homeschooling family, I want those same options for my child. I want his academics to be such that he can pursue a four-year degree if that is his goal. However, I also want him to be comfortable with the thought of attending a junior college if that better suits his needs; the very necessary world of technology can often be entered via tech school, a two-year college degree, or course-by-course licensure. And, ideally, I’d like him to learn a hands-on skill — maybe his stepdad’s, maybe some other — whether he plans to make a career of it, or has it to fall back on in times of job-cutting.

What are your thoughts on this? I’m very interested in what vocational skills you may be making available to your child, and what kind of career paths you are encouraging them to pursue.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.… Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others,” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NLT.

9 Essential Life Skills

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Life skills, an important part of raising children to be successful adults is teaching them life skills.  But what life skills are important and  how do you teach them?

Homeschooling has the distinct advantage of allowing us to let the children learn those life skills day to day. Sure, we can play games like Monopoly and Life to allow them to get a sense about money, but there is so much more for them to grasp.  Our family chooses to borrow a motto from our 4H work, “learn by doing.”  They learn each skill by actually practicing it, over and over to proficiency.  These are the basic life skills I’d like our children to have as they reach toward adulthood:

  1. Budgeting and the concept of money. Everyone should know how to plan for monthly and annual expenses, as well as saving for the emergencies and a separate savings for luxuries such as vacations. We don’t give our children a standard allowance, but we do allow them to do extra chores for money and have helped them establish a small home business of their choosing to help raise money. I love the small business approach; it teaches them even more skills, while they are happily running a business
  2. Household management. Often falling on the wife, running the household efficiently can be a daunting task, but learning to be well organized will help both men and women when they step into adulthood. Planning meals, keeping appointments, managing the household budget, and caring for children are all skills that can be learned through childhood to prepare for family life.
  3. Laundry is in a category by itself. Not only should each person be taught to sort laundry and read the labels for care instructions; everyone needs a lesson on basic clothing repairs such as how to sew on a button, remove stains, and proper ironing.  Ideally, each will also learn sewing and clothing construction to help with repairs and creation.
  4. Shopping and meal planning. We all have those occasional days when we don’t have dinner planned in time, but most days the meals should be planned and items ready for assembly. Planning ahead helps in the budgeting area, too, as you will be able to shop for better prices and buy larger quantities when dictated. It’s also possible to plan further ahead and make and freeze extra meals.
  5. Healthy meals for family to enjoy. Many people marry and soon discover neither one learned to cook meals. While boxed mac and cheese might be an easy meal, it is not healthy, nor is it actually cooking.  Boys and girls should be taught cooking skills that enable them to prepare complete, healthy meals that create that at-home feeling.  You can never have enough cooking and baking skills; there is always more to learn.  Ideally, this training begins in childhood, expands in the teen years, and continues throughout life. An adult with excellent culinary skills can save money, create healthy meals, and provide for festive occasions, too.k
  6. House cleaning is rarely a favorite skill, but when kept up, it can create that much loved home feel. Ambiance is less about expensive furniture and more about a tidy, but comfortable area.  A few special touches such as plants and perhaps essential oils in a diffuser can add to that feel, too, but dust on the mantle and clothes strewn about will not make family feel comfortable.
  7. House maintenance. Unless you live in an apartment or a rental home where the landlord provides all maintenance, everyone needs to know basic skills such as unclogging a drain, oiling the door hinges, and even painting. Some maintenance is more of prevention such as knowing when to have the roof repaired or replaced.
  8. Yard maintenance. Mowing the lawn, keeping the fenceline trimmed, and caring for grass, trees and other plants can be quite a task in a large yard but quite important.  Before anyone sees you home they stop in front of your home and gain a huge first impression.  Let that first impression be a great one!
  9. Car maintenance. Oil changes, where you do them or take it to a service station, are necessary. Watch for tire wear. Keep the gas tank filled, check the oil and transmission fluid.  At the very least, every driver should know how to change a tire, check the fluids, and keep maintenance records.   Keeping the car clean inside and out will prevent embarrassing moments and makes for a more enjoyable trip, too!

These basic skills will certainly help jumpstart a woman into the homemaker role, but they will also help men and women headed for a career, whether part time or full time.  They are the basic essentials for every adult.