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.

 

 

Adventures in Maple Sugaring

I hike through the woods on a crisp morning, listening through my fluffy white ear muffs to the birds singing, the gentle flow of the spring-fed creek below, and the odd squishy crunch of my winter boots on the muddy leaves of the path. This is my alone time with God. The time for me to walk and pray and listen. The time for me to find my peace for the day. It’s an absolutely vital part of the day.

As I walk, I peer through the woods at the barren trees. There’s my favorite, a sycamore tree, with it’s telltale peeling bark and giant leaves now scattered about at its feet and mine. Its branches reach high for the sunlight when it shines. There are so many lessons to be learned from that tree — the reminder of Zacchaeus daring to see Jesus, and Jesus noticing him in spite of his low social standing, and how God wants to peel off our rough exterior and give us a new heart within.

Then I see another wise old giant. This one is tall, as most all the trees in the forest are, with its branches far beyond reach. Its bark is smooth but not as smooth as a sycamore, nor does it peel. It is much knobbier and not nearly as stout as an oak. However its most distinguishing feature is one that it didn’t grow on its own. It is marked with a pink ribbon, tied around the trunk, so it can be identified even in the dead of winter when its once brightly colored leaves are no longer above us, but lying in heaps with the leaves of all the other trees, now just the same unadorned brown as the others, leaving no mark of their brilliance and variety of hues that were present but a few short months before.

I smile as I think about the previous fall when our family hiked around the woods on a mission to find all the maple trees whose trunks were at least twelve inches in diameter. We used the very last bit of our bright pink curling ribbon to mark these trees, though some were still marked from the previous year’s hunt. I also groan a bit inwardly thinking about how many hours we spent boiling sap on the open fire and later on the kitchen stove.

Yet, it was a grand adventure! It was our first time making our very own maple syrup. I remember how we waited until the weather would warm above freezing in the day, but stay below freezing at night. That was supposed to be when the sap flows best. We took our newly purchased equipment through the woods, climbing, sliding, searching and finding our marked trees, deciding where we should tap them.

“On the south side,” the books said, “under the first big branch.”

My husband drilled into the trees, one by one, inserting a black spile with a maple leaf emblem and an attached tube directed into a bucket below. We waited anxiously to see if anything would happen. Nothing did right then, so we left the buckets to collect the sap, drip by drip, through the night.CraggyMaple

The next morning we hiked back through the woods, following our same path, checking each bucket. Smiles and hoorays filled the air as we saw our very first collection of clear, cold sap. We triumphantly carried our harvest back to the house, where we celebrated by pouring it into glasses and anxiously tasted the first drops of our own homegrown maple sap. Such an interesting combination of sweet and watery, like store-bought flavored water but much more refreshing. The kids especially liked it, and even more so on the days when there was a thin layer of ice on top of the sap in the buckets. “Sap ice,” as we called it, became a real delicacy in our home.

We made drinking maple sap a regular treat for the season. On Tuesdays, the kids and I decided to have “Tea Time Tuesdays” and serve our maple sap “tea” in our fanciest china tea cups with saucers while I read poetry and hymn lyrics aloud. For most of the sap, though, we strained and poured it into our large boiling pot, not knowing exactly how to make syrup, but excited about a grand new experiment!

You need 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of syrup. That’s a lot of sap and a lot of boiling! We had dug a fire pit and planned to boil the sap outside, but ended up doing most of the boiling indoors after the first couple of batches that we soon realized needed a lot of attention. The sweet smell of maple sugar filled our home, and our windows fogged over with condensation from the boiling pots that covered the stove.

Boiling sap down to syrup is a funny thing. It must be a fast boil, so I’ve read, which also means that it must be checked regularly, as things can happen quickly once they get going. It takes hours to reach the point when the sap needs to be watched constantly to catch that critical moment when the sap no longer bubbles like water, but rather foams and froths in a sticky lava-like way that means it has reached its prime. Now it is no longer what it once was, a bit of sweet in a mass of watered down. Rather, it is only the sweet. The dross has been done away with, and what remains is nothing but pure, simple sweetness.

Unfortunately, I tended to get busy with other things and would oftentimes forget my boiling sap for just a moment too long. Then realizing what I’d done, I’d race to the kitchen as the kids laughed at my distress and wild flight. Sometimes I would catch the sap just at its turning point and victoriously fill another jar with our marvelous liquid gold. Often, however, I’d run to the kitchen in time to see a scorched bit of sugar sizzling in the bottom of the pot, meaning hours of boiling had been wasted, gallons of sap gone, and that it would take some serious scrubbing to clean out the remnants of what would have been a breakfast treat to go with Daddy’s pancake shapes in days to come. No time to sulk about scorched syrup, though; there was a lot more sap that needed to be boiled down to make room in the refrigerator for the next collection.

We harvested sap morning and night, and sometimes added a third collection time when the sap was really flowing. We really didn’t have the space for all the sap, but hated to waste it, so we pressed on, drinking some, feverishly boiling most of it, and constantly rearranging our refrigerator to make room for yet another container of sap. Our entire existence seemed to be wrapped up in the making of maple syrup.

It’s hard to believe it has been a whole year since then. How much will the kids remember from last year’s experience? Will they remember how to tap the trees, how to find the right place to drill, how much sap it takes to make a gallon of syrup? Maybe, but more likely they will remember hiking through the woods as a family, working together to gather the sap, the feeling of accomplishment in making our own syrup, and how silly Mommy looks when running full speed through the house to try to save a batch of syrup.

I look around the woods at the trees marked for our second season of maple sugaring. We have more marked this year. Today is warm but tonight — tonight it is supposed to get below freezing. Tomorrow will be a warm day again. It’s time. Time to get out the spiles and tubes, buckets and boiling pots. Time to hunt through the woods for our pink ribbons and awaiting maple benefactors. The time has come. Maple sugar season.

Creating a Strong Work Ethic for Teens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is possible for a high school student to be complete academic classwork with three or four hours a day of study.  When using a true study, work, and service method of homeschooling high school students, the same principles of time management apply as they do for elementary children.  School is life and lasts during every waking hour!

By the time children are high school students, work is an essential element of their education. Instead of applying it daily, it works best to break study, work, and service into a total amount for an entire week.  Some days work best if heavier in academics while others were weighed more on work or service.

At the high school level, it seems that when using work for a meaningful part of education, it should be meaningful to the student.  There is some work that is required simply because a student is part of the family (cleaning their room, filling the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, etc.).  It is the work that happens because they are part of a family team. Other meaningful work happens because the student sets a goal and then works as a means to achieve it.  Parents can assist with this goal setting, but the student should be the main force in this decision-making process.  Simply giving the child more chores each week so they can get their time in doesn’t seem to work too well for teenagers!  But, if they get a vision for work, and it becomes purposeful for them — they will willingly stick to it and become involved in the benefits of work.  It may be that they establish a small business of their own (bread baking, housecleaning for a neighbor, babysitting, building computers, mowing lawns) or that they become employees in the business of one of their parents (generally they are allowed by law to work at a younger age if it is a family business).  For some children it may mean taking a job in town (working at a fast food restaurant, as a grocery bag boy or girl, or a daycare worker).  Their goal may start out simply as a way to earn their own money, but over time they generally become enthusiastic and cheerful in using work as a part of their education.

Another facet of work that can benefit the home school student is for the parent to establish internships for their teen.   It can be very effective in giving children opportunities to learn new tasks and to see if they were interested in a variety of careers.  To establish an internship:  choose a place the student is interested in working, then write a letter to the business owner or supervisor, requesting an internship for your child.  Be sure to emphasize that this is a volunteer position and that your child does not expect to be paid for their work.  Outline a schedule of 40 hours of volunteer work that fits into the schedule of the employer and the student.  When the 40 hours are complete, write another letter to the employer, thanking them for the opportunity they gave your child.  Along with the letter, send a form that evaluates your child’s performance in the tasks they were assigned.  Ask them to assign a ‘letter grade’ to your child for the work they did.  If you are using this as a part of a unit study (work/academics combined), this becomes their grade unless you choose to add a written paper or some other form of evaluation to the grade.   In that case, combine the grades according to percentages you establish.  Forty hours of work-study is equivalent to 1/2 high school credit.

Providing teens opportunity to use work as a part of their school program gives them the opportunity to apply bits, facts, and facets of information learned and apply them to their daily life.  Learning to work as a teen creates adults that have a strong work ethic, a greater sense of self-worth, and have a sense of incentive.

The Work Aspect of the Moore Formula

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The Moore Formula is based on creating a balance in the homeschool family between studying, work (manual labor), and service. As the child grows the percentages of each change. Moore recommends to do as much work as study, using service lasting an hour or so a day. A young child of 9 or 10 may only study an hour with service being helping someone in the home or a close neighbor. As the child ages, study may increase to 3 or 4 hours for high school, followed by the same in work (home chores, self-employment, or family business) with service consisting of volunteering outside the home on a regular basis.

For some parents, the work aspect of the Moore Formula can become a bit confusing. Today, I hope to clarify some questions and also bring in what Mrs. White says we, as parents, need to teach our children about work.

As soon as a child can walk, he can begin doing ‘work.’ This can be picking up toys to emptying out the bathroom waste basket. By teaching them early, children learn that they have a place in the family to contribute to the family’s good. There are to be no free rides for anyone. As they age, their work can include a home business in addition to home chores, in which they learn many practical life application skills. Working on a business (whether their own or a parent’s) can help teach math skills, planning, social skills as they talk with others, manners, patience, and even cause/effect. Running a business helps a child build self-confidence, self-control, and problem-solving. Self-employment helps booster creativity. Work teaches responsibility.

Ellen White wrote that education is more than just the studying of books. Children are to learn to be masters of labor; to use their mental faculties to make work more proficient and useful. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden to dress and care for it. Labor was to provide a safe-guard against temptation. Ellen White also wrote that fathers are to train their sons as they bring them alongside them in their work. Mothers are to teach the girls of the family to handle their share of the family’s burdens. Education is to develop habits of industry, self-control, self-reliance, money management, and business acumen. (By the way, Ellen White also states that education should teach children courtesy and kindness to others which is what service to others teaches.)

By using the Moore Formula, the child learns a truer purpose in education. It is not just learning the ‘3 R’s,’ but to learn useful life skills to be successful in the community and fulfill God’s purpose for their life.

From this background, we can see the benefits of adding work to our school day. I think one important aspect of this work is it is to be manual, rather than cerebral. Children have spent some time already doing ‘brain’ work. Now they need to move their physical bodies. As I said earlier, work can begin as soon as a child walks by doing simple chores. A child of five can set the table and even help mother with preparing meals. My children even helped with dishes at this age by rinsing. They were washing by the time they were eight, with me standing beside them.

As a child reaches adolescence, self-employment can be sought, using their God-given talents. Moore also suggests that children this age be given an officer position in the family business. If a parent will put this type of responsibility on a child (with parental guidance), they will not see the child fail or suffer burn-out from doing too much. Instead, the child will develop self-confidence and amazing social skills as they practice life application.

In the teen years, the child can take more responsibility with self-employment as they take over covering some of their own expenses of life. They learn financial stewardship and responsibility. Psychologically, teens begin to pull away from their parents in a search for autotomy. This is a natural and essential stage of development. Teens by this time need to be practicing more decision-making, even suffering the consequences of mistakes. The parents can be there as a safe-guard but still allowing the teen to feel the results of a bad choice.

The Moore Formula may sound as it would include a lot of work to implement. Instead, it allows the family to work together in God’s purpose while the child learns the needed life skills to become the person God meant him to be. Study, work, and service-three aspects of life we all can use to develop Christ-like character, no matter our ages.

Work Opportunities for Children



  • Sometimes finding work opportunities for children can be challenging.  Daily chores create opportunity for routine work experience, and tasks like lawn mowing or pulling weeds in the garden provide opportunity for extra jobs that can provide learning and fulfillment for children.  But it’s important that purposeful work be provided that is not part of the daily routine.  Children should not be made to feel that ‘work’ is a negative concept and is just something they have to do to make their parent’s lives easier.  An altruistic spirit is good and work can help create it, but that is not the entire purpose and role of work as a part of a home school curriculum.  Children can develop work attitudes and a sense of self-worth if they have work related jobs that are unique to them and provide them with a sense of fulfillment.  Thus, special care needs to be taken in helping a children in this role.  In the past, school children could harvest cucumbers or strawberries for pay, or work on a farm changing irrigation pipes.  Regulations regarding the age that children can be employed has made it more difficult for children to find work related roles, so creative thought must be applied!  Helping a child establish a small home business is one way of providing meaningful work related opportunities for them and a good way for them to earn extra money.

Here are some ideas of work opportunities for children:

  • Being a mother’s assistant or babysitting.
  • Washing cars.
  • Baking homemade bread and selling it to neighbors.
  • Having a bake sale.
  • Setting up a lemonade stand.
  • Participating in a yard sale and having a table of toys, clothes, or things not wanted or needed any more.
  • Folding laundry and/or ironing shirts for a neighbor or relative.
  • Sewing aprons or cushions and selling them to friends and neighbors.
  • Growing a vegetable or flower garden and selling the produce or flowers.
  • Writing a monthly neighborhood newspaper and selling it for a quarter to community members.

“In the early ages, with the people who were under God’s direction, life was simple.  They lived close to the heart of nature.  Their children shared in the labor of the parents and studied the beauties and mysteries of nature’s treasure house.”  Ellen White, Education pg 221